Nothing can lift your spirits like getting home to find a parcel in your letterbox.
(And yes, that is the Women's Weekly souvenir Royal Wedding photo album edition!)
Got home today to find a special parcel . . . all the way from the US!
I have loved the completely preppy Kiel James Patrick brand for a while now and decided to finally take the plunge and order something for myself. The hard part was deciding what to pick - there's so much to choose from!
How cute was my little bundle of preppiness? All wrapped up with a gorge little postcard.
I've hit the jackpot in the friends stakes this year - we've laughed, we've cried, we've indulged in fine foods (and lots of it!), some have moved home, others have moved afar (providing great holiday destinations!) and all in all, I've been spoilt rotten.
The darling Kimberlee of Brown Button fame is one of these friends that brightens my world. She was over for my slow cooked lamb on the weekend and on arrival, she presented this unsuspecting host with a gift (in brown paper with beautiful string of course!) for my birthday.
How thrilled I was to find one of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves grinning up at me from a beautiful white frame.
(Oh and the roses were from her too, isn't she divine?!)
Gorgeous Kim paid tribute to my love of food and obsession with cookbooks and gave me one of Jane's cooking inspired collections.
It is beautiful - great colours, variation in height with some AWESOME titles in the mix.
Wouldn't it make the perfect present for someone who has everything?
Perhaps someone in your book club, or a librarian landing their first job out of uni?
This is a recent one she did - how perfect for teenage girls.
I first came across Jane's work through the ever inspiring Kelly Green. She found a great pic of a room dedicated to framed Ideal Bookshelf prints.
I believe in magical friends . . . and one of those friends is Emma Clements aka Miss White & Wander.
Emma found this beauty on Pinterest (hello world's best procrastinating tool!) and it was love at first sight for me.
Audrey Hepburn. Check.
Glass is half full. Check.
Need I go on?
Then she completely blew me away when she produced this little beauty last weekend - she has handpainted the piece for me in her gorgeous cursive onto canvas and totally turned something that was already perfect into something that is even more perfect.
I mean, she mixed the paint to create the perfect pink. I struggle to know how much milk to put in someone's coffee!
I LOVE it. So much.
(Bad pic - sorry, doesn't do it justice but I just had to share)
Promise to post again when I get it up on my wall, looking all styley.
As the daughter of a meat wholesaler, I appreciate a good cut of meat. And lamb shoulder is my new favourite.
Inspired by this cold snap at the moment and wanting to jump head first into Winter cooking, I invited the troops around for slow cooked balsamic lamb tonight. That meant a trip to the butcher to source the perfect cut of meat and I'll tell you what - customer service is back and better than ever!
My butcher was awesome - he went above and beyond and even got the whole team involved, giving me hints and tips how to get the meat to caramelise on top and ensure it was lip smackingly good and falling off the bone.
And I didn't do so bad, even if I say so myself!
After 5.5 hours in the oven, the wait was well worth the trouble - complete with duck fat roast potatoes and steamed beans.
It was ah-mazing.
Literally falling off the bone, sooooo tender.
And the balsamic glaze was heavenly. The most delicious dinner and perfect, comforting, indulgent end to a lovely weekend.
And don't get me started on the sticky date puddings . . .
Slow cooked balsamic and garlic lamb
Ingredients 1kg lamb shoulder, on the bone 1⅓ cups (310ml) balsamic vinegar 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock 6 sprigs rosemary 8 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 140°C (275°F).
Place the lamb, vinegar, stock, rosemary, garlic and sugar in a deep baking dish and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Bake for 3 hours. Turn the lamb and bake for a further 2 hours.
Remove the lid, increase temperature to 180°C (350°F) and bake for 30 minutes or until the lamb has browned.
Remove lamb from the pan and keep warm. Pour the pan juices over a large bowl of ice and quickly remove the ice and the solidified fat with a slotted spoon. Place the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.
Serve the lamb with crispy roasted potatoes, steamed greens and the pan juices.
I spent the Easter long weekend in the beautiful Clare Valley with my second family, the McKinnons. Lill has been my best friend since always and her family has always held the door open for me as a surrogate daughter (I think they just appreciate the fact I'm a Port supporter!).
The McKinnons sure know how to spoil their guests. We were treated to camp fires, curries, Haighs chocolates and copious amounts of fabulous local wine.
As Ali (I think it was Ali) said, "It feels like we're at a resort and being waited on hand and foot!"
I'm no baker. We've been through this before - cakes, muffins, breads - the lot. They scare the life out of me and suck all the cooking confidence out of me.
My latest venture into the bakehouse was no different, but this time round, I think my dismal efforts actually created a delicious slant on an otherwise stock standard recipe.
I baked an apple and raspberry bread to take up to Clare for the Easter break but it turned out nothing like the picture and took much much longer to cook than advised - even once I took it out, I was still unconvinced it was cooked but this worked in my favour as it delivered a wonderfully thick, moist (he he Lill!) and indulgent dessert cake - rather than bread!
Let me know if you have any better luck with this recipe - was fabulous served with double cream. Mmmmm!
Apple raspberry bread 375mL jar apple sauce 1 cup (220g) firmly packed dark brown sugar 2 eggs 40g butter, melted 1/2 cup (125mL) buttermilk 1/4 cup (90g) honey *NB. tip - line your measure with a spray of canola oil, your honey will slide right out! 1 1/2 cupes (225g) plain flour 2/3 cup (100g) wholemeal self raising flour 1/2 tspn bicarb soda 250g fresh or frozen raspberries
Preheat over to 170C fan forced. Grease a 12cm x 22cm loaf pan; line base and long sides with baking paper, extending paper 5cm over sides.
Combine apple sauce, sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk and honey in large bowl; stir in sifted dry ingredients. Do not over-mix, mixture should be lumpy. Fold in raspberries.
Spread mixture into pan; bake about 1 hour 40 minutes (mine took aaaaages longer). Stand bread in pan 10 minutes before turning, top side up, onto a wire rack to cool.
Recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly 'Easy Baking'
My Mum recently became a first time Grandmother and is just tickled pink with little Ruby May.
Pictured above is my Granny with her daughter (my Mum) and grandson (my brother and Ruby's Daddio) and of course her little great granddaughter Ruby.
To celebrate the latest addition to our little family, I had a charm bracelet tailor made for Mum for Mother's Day with the names of all of our family members stamped on - similar to the picture above but of course with our own details.
A lovely gift for a new mum or matriach of the family. Find out more here.
It's no secret that I love a trip to the country - always on the lookout for a Farmer who wants a Wife!
Headed to the Limestone Coast for work last weekend and had the pleasure of staying with the darling Fi and David and their gorgeous little girl Anna who turned one last week. Their farm is just beautiful, a very special place and I loved their country hospitality (and the buffet at the pub!).
Drove home early Monday morning through a thick blanket of fog. It was pretty scary (especially since the first 8kms were on dirt and we all know my history of driving on dirt roads!) but made for some beautiful scenery. My phone camera just didn't do it justice, but had to pop them up on le blog all the same.
It's Derby Day this Sunday at The Races and what better way to pay hommage to the classic black and white theme than with the gorgeous ensemble that Eliza Doolittle delighted us all with at Royal Ascot in My Fair Lady.
Last Friday we celebrated my Mum's birthday and then four days later, it's my turn in the spotlight.
Tuesday 3 May 2011 - nothing special, just another day on the calendar . . . but any excuse for cake!
It's a sad state of affairs though when your friends and family are busy doing other things and you're up til all hours of the night baking your own birthday cake for work tomorrow!
I have tried a new recipe - Little Lemon Meringue Cakes from a random promo cookbook I found in Mum's cupboard (I'm housesitting yet again so relishing in the opportunity to search through Mum's cookbooks. Not happy that she and Dad are away for my birthday though!).
Complete fluke but one of the best cupcake recipe bases I have ever used.
I do a mean meringue, if I do say so myself!
And having doubled the recipe, I had lots left over so made some mega sized ones for lunch tomorrow - will treat Jourdanne to dessert after our birthday lunch date.
So, now for the recipe . . .
Little Lemon Meringue Cakes
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cup caster sugar
150g butter, softened
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Tbspn milk
juice and zest of 2 lemons
lemon curd (I cheated and used shop bought)
Preheat oven to 175C. Prepare 12 paper cases.
Place first six ingredients listed above into a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. Spoon mixture to 3/4 fill cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool
Once cold enough to handle, cut out a large cavity from the top of each cupcake and discard or eat (NB. This is where I went wrong - I started to eat the spoonfuls of cake I scooped out and sitting here at 11.55pm on my birthday eve, feeling severely ill!)
Fill cavity with lemon curd. Spoon or pipe small mounds of meringue on top of lemon curd. Bake for 10 minutes further to set meringue.
2 egg whites 1/2 cup caster sugar
Whisk eggs whites until soft.
Add 1 Tbspn sugar and whisk until incorporated. Whisk in remaining sugar until mixture is glossy.