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SPCA Cupcake Day

This year, I signed Caitie up as a 'Cupcake Cook' for the annual SPCA Cupcake Day. She had to make cupcakes and sell them to raise money for the NZSPCA (New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
I asked around people at work and other folk in town that I knew, and before I knew it I had orders for 86 cupcakes. Wow, this was going to be a marathon effort!

Caitie made some of her (now famous) lime and coconut cupcakes, then a bunch of chocolate chip banana ones. We didn't eat a single one ourselves, not even to taste test!

She made 114 cupcakes altogether. It took 6 hours, but she made them all herself, with some assistance from me. And she iced the lime and coconut ones herself.

We took them in to town and sold all but 12 there. Then Caitie and I sat down for a well deserved rest and had a cupcake each. Shhh! Don't tell anyone! lol Then we took the rest to Caitie's dad's work and sold them there. All up we sold 112 cupcakes and raised $117 (we got a $5 donation from someone). How awesome is that? Caitie was pretty pleased with herself and got some good feedback from the buyers. :)


After watching Simon Gault cook his rice risotto, Caitie wanted to try it. We'd never made rice risotto before, so we were careful to follow the recipe and the instructions Simon had given us on the day.

To start with, Caitie brought a litre of chicken stock to the boil, with 40g butter.

In another saucepan (Simon told us to be sure to use a saucepan, not a frypan), Caitie heated the oil and fried 300g chicken.

Then we removed the chicken from the saucepan and put it on a plate for later. Then Caitie added a diced onion to the oil in the saucepan and fried it until it went transparent.

Then we added 1½ cups rice and fried that for about 3 minutes.

Then Caitie added 200ml white wine and stirred continuously until the wine was absorbed by the wine. Then she added half a cup of the stock from the first saucepan and kept stirring until the stock was absorbed. Simon had told that even though it was faster and easier to add all the stock at once, doing it half a cup at a time and waiting until each cup had been absorbed before adding the next one added 'love' to the dish. 'It's like foreplay' he told us. I doubt Caitie understood that reference, but she added it slowly like he'd told her. :)

After 15 minutes, we put the chicken back in the saucepan and kept adding the stock as before. When all the stock had been absorbed, we added 50g grated parmesan cheese. The recipe called for baby spinach leaves as well, but we didn't have any of those. Sorry Simon!

We seasoned the risotto with salt and pepper, then served it in parmesan baskets, another Simon Gault recipe. We made the parmesan baskets by grating parmesan cheese and melting 15g at a time in the microwave. The cheese melts in to a circle of melted cheese and you place the cheese over a overturned ramekin or similar, so it goes hard whilst forming a cup shape. They were pretty successful, but....they did have a tendency to droop when you filled them with hot risotto. lol

Risotto was delicious though. Labour intensive, but delicious.


Sausages with Mash & Cheese

Tonight for dinner Caitie made Sausages with Mash & Cheese from the Edmonds Beginners Cookbook.
First she cut some potatoes up to be boiled.

While the potatoes were boiling, we fried some sausages. Then we helped Caitie mash the potatoes. I cut a slice the center of each sausage and it was Caitie's job to fill the sausages with the mashed potato.

Then she grated cheese over them.

They were grilled until the cheese melted, and we served them with boiled cabbage and gravy. MMMMmmmmmmmmmm, yum!

Simon Gault from Euro and Masterchef NZ

Well, Caitie had an exciting day today! We went along to the mall and watched Simon Gault creating masterpieces right there in front of us! And we got recipes! And Caitie got her photo taken with him!

Simon Gault is a judge on New Zealand's Masterchef TV program, and is well known for his restaurant Euro (where Caitie's dad has eaten several times).

We watched him cook Roasted Pumpkin, Vanilla & Ginger Dip, Crumpet Bread, Smoked Chicken & Watercress Crepes, Chicken & Spinach Risotto and Parmesan Baskets. Oh, and something called an Intergalactic Rock. :)

Caitie was quite interested in it all, but when he got the liquid nitrogen out....wow! That was impressive, eh, Caitie?

He offered tastes to a few people, and Caitie desperately wanted to taste something. Every time he asked for a volunteer, her hand shot up.

Finally, on the very last dish, she got a try of the Intergalactic Rock. It was creamy, very slightly fizzy, cold and crunchy. As Simon Gault described it, it was the upmarket version of a lemonade spider! Delicious.

It was still smoking from the liquid nitrogen as she took a bite. A definite new experience!

We're definitely going to make the parmesan baskets and crisps. But we liked his descriptions of how to make the perfect risotto (by adding love!) so we might try and give that a go too. It was a neat bonus to be given his recipes. And...just to add the icing on the cake, he signed the page of recipes for her. "Caitlin, big kiss. Simon Gault." She told him she cooked at home, and that she had a blog, and he told her to drop him a message on Facebook. So we will. :)

Aw, a pretty cool day, huh, Caitie!

Welsh Rarebit

For lunch today, I decided to pass on to Caitie my uncle Philip's 'famous' recipe for Welsh Rarebit. This is something that I fondly remember my uncle making for me as a kid when he visited from Australia. Caitie had never even heard of Welsh Rarebit, let alone eaten it or made it, but this recipe is pretty foolproof...

So the first thing is to use one egg per person (in our case, four) and then grate enough cheese so that it forms a thick mixture with the egg. Then add a teaspoon of mustard, spread it on some toast and grill! Easy as that!

I love that Caitie is not just learning to cook, but that she's learning how to make some of our 'heirloom' family recipes. Now she can make her great-uncle Philip's Welsh Rarebit. I used to make this when I was flatting....maybe she will too one day!
Caitie had a jazz dance competition on today and was supposed to take a plate of food that could be sold as part of the fundraiser. So we decided to make a WeightWatchers muffin recipe. This recipe is out of the WeightWatchers 'Cook Hearty' cookbook.

Caitie preheated the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, then sifted 1 and a half cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and quarter of a cup of sugar in a bowl. Then she added a third of a cup of chocolate chips.

Then, in a seperate bowl, Caitie mixed a 150g tub of low fat yoghurt, one egg and half a cup of skim milk. This then went in to the flour mixture and was lightly combined (the recipe warns against over-mixing).

The muffins were baked for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, they came out really chewy and dense. The paper cupcake liners were impossible to remove from the muffins... We have no idea what went wrong, but they were pretty much inedible. We ended up buying some tarts from the bakery to take to the dance competition!!


We went round to Caitie's great-aunt Mary's today, and ended up staying for dinner. Poor Aunty Mary thought she could just pop a chicken in the oven, toss a salad together and all would be easy. But Caitie had other ideas! After Caitie followed her round the kitchen asking if she could help with every possible step in the process, Aunty Mary finally gave in and let her help with the salad. Caitie was delighted and proceed to regale Aunty Mary with tales of her cooking exploits. At one point we overhead Caitie tell her that she was going to 'be a famous chef one day!' Ha ha!

Aunty Mary was very patient with Caitie, and it turned out to be a great salad. There was lettuce, tomatoes, radishes (they were a bit hard for Caitie to cut so Aunty Mary did those), capsicum (or bell pepper for our American friends), boiled egg and avocado. Yum!

Enjoy the photos! Aunty Mary will probably kill me for putting them up, because she hadn't dressed for a photo shoot, but they're cute pics, so I can't resist. :)

Who knew that a salad could be so much fun?!


Cottage Pie

Caitie and her dad made Cottage Pie again today. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke the first time!

First, they fried some onion and mince (ground beef for our American friends) in a little olive oil. Caitie remembered that the mince would go brown when it was cooked, so she kept a careful eye on it...

They boiled some potatoes at the same time, so they would be ready when the mince was cooked. They added Worcester sauce, mixed herbs, beef stock, tinned tomatoes, frozen mixed vegetables and a little flour (to thicken the sauce) to the mince. Pretty much the same as they used last time, as it had worked so well. Then it was time to mash the potatoes...

Caiite's dad thought that mashing the potatoes would be a bit hard for Caitie, but she has a tendency to insist on doing everything herself, so she did some of it on her own...

Then it was time to put it all in a dish. The mince first, then the potato, then a little cheese on the top...

Then in to the oven for ten minutes or so. Mmmmm, yum!


Spiced Peaches

Caitie made some more of Nigella Lawson's Spiced Peaches today. They were so easy yet delicious the first time Caitie made them that we couldn't resist.

These ones were destined to be Caitie's great-grandfather's birthday present. Except, we made two batches, so we had some left over to eat and gave one to Caitie's teacher Mrs Worrall, and one to Julie who does Caitie's before/after school care. Perfect gifts! Mmmm, and so yummy.

Basically, Caitie just threw 4 cans of peach slices in syrup, 30ml white wine vinegar, 4 sticks of cinnamon, sliced fresh ginger, a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes, a sprinkle of salt, a few cloves and a few whole black peppercorns in to a saucepan, then she brought it to the boil, then put it in to jars. Rinse, lather, repeat.

I was teaching Caitie about the different tastes of the ingredients. So she tasted the peaches and said that they were sweet. The vinegar was sour. The salt was salty, and the chilli and pepper were spicy. The ginger was a hard one, but when she tasted the finished product she agreed she could taste the heat of the ginger. She could taste the sweet and the spicy too, but not the sour. I tried to explain that the sourness had been absorbed by the sweetness and so the final dish wasn't quite as sweet. I find it hard to explain here, let alone to her! Not sure if she understood where I was going with that, but she found the combination of ingredients in this dish quite interesting, and enjoyed trying to identify their qualities and then identify them in the final dish.

We'll definitely make these again. So delicious, and so easy!