Tag Archives: baking

Oods and Hobbitses Taste Delicious

January is a sea of birthday parties for me and mine, and we had an extra one to factor in this year – friends from Sydney came down for a holiday and took an opportunity to hold a Doctor Who party for their three year old daughter on the grounds that she doesn’t have any friends back home who know their sonic screwdrivers from their fish fingers.

Oh, you need a small group of boys and girls who are rabidly interested in Doctor Who? Why yes, we CAN help with that…

We ended up with four families, nine children, all in costume, plus a TARDIS play set and a ridiculous amount of Doctor Who themed food, culminating in a gingerbread TARDIS full of jelly babies.

I was called in to make Ood cupcakes on the grounds that figuring out cheats methods to do ridiculously complicated cake requests is basically my super power.

Some evidence:


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Cherries, Cake and Cheer

Quite recently, Alisa and I made a pact to do a better job of celebrating our ‘wins’ – between you and me, she’s particularly bad at acknowledging her successes when they roll in.

Cake, we decided, was the universal currency of yay.

So this morning, when it was announced by @capclave that my story “The Patrician” had won the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award, we declared on Twitter that it was Cake Day! I have to say it was downright patriotic and noble the way that so many of my friends leapt to support the radical concept that cake should be eaten.

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Twas the Night Before Birthday Party…

Here, for those who requested it, proof that I made a TARDIS cake for Raeli’s birthday party tomorrow. It’s not finished yet, as I plan to have a cupcake light on top, and some decorations around the border, but those will be added tomorrow, so more pics then! (as well as pics of my two lovely girls, dressed as an astronaut and the TARDIS)

This is basically cake (two packet mixes swirled together so some is vanilla & some choc), cut to size & liberally spread with chocolate frosting. The windows and panel are made from roll-out white icing, the details from slices of a metre-long liquorice strap, and the fancy white writing parts from one of those squeezy writing icing things. All bought from the supermarket.

I had a near-disaster when I put gladwrap over the whole thing (having refrigerated the cake for some time I assumed all the icing was set – the frosting WAS but the writing sadly got smeared all over the place) so I recovered by putting a whole piece of liquorice strap over the mess, tidying up with a bit of spare chocolate frosting (always save the last spoonful just in case!!!) and re-writing the text.

It looks like a TARDIS, anyway! Imperfect, but delicious.

[and if anyone, not looking at anyone in particular, hon, thinks I was overreaching myself, I show further evidence that my goals in cakeitude are sensible, rational and achievable, unlike some people who take TARDIS-related cake art to EXTREMES – thanks to @greenspyders for the link]

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Wonder Woman Turns Six; Batgirl Inhales Watermelon

Raeli had her birthday a few days ago! We’ve had what feels like a whole week of birthday/holiday activities, culminating in the Big Superhero Party which felt like a crazed, sugary blur at the time, but people seemed to enjoy. Raeli informed me that it was even better than last year, largely because of the pinata (which from our POV was a dismal failure redeemed only by the fact that no one was actually hurt during the whole excruciating procedure). At the end, there were lollies, so no complaints from the kids.

Apart from the change in theme, from fairies to superheroes, I had planned to run the party the same as last year: simple food involving opening packets, I don’t make anything myself except the cake and fairy bread, sausages on the barbie for kids & parents alike, my Mum madly running the games (everyone needs a Glammer come birthday season) and no fuss. Naturally it got far more complicated than that, not least because, well, do we remember how last year I had a little 5 month old baby? THIS YEAR she’s a running, jumping, bouncing, psyched up little dynamo, and it took the 15 or so adults at the party to keep track of her. I’m not used to a feisty baby. Raeli was energetic but not one for hurling herself off furniture. Jem topped off the party by eating everything. Seriously. All the things. Once the big kids had abandoned the picnic cloths and gone to play games, she plonked herself down and ate more than her own body weight in chips, cheezels, biscuits, watermelon and… oh, I don’t even know. Hear that? That’s the kind of mother I am. I have no idea what she ate. I just know that she looked really, really smug about it.

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Domestic Fairy: Pre-Christmas Edition

I have been domesticking up a storm this week, shopping, making things, cooking, and planning more cooking. Surely earned a Mother of the Year award this morning by entirely forgetting to take the baby to daycare – for her ONE full day this week, the one I had made many plans with Raeli for. At 10:30 (after a bad night’s sleep because someone had nightmares and had to climb in with us) I suddenly blinked, stared at the baby and said “we forgot to take Jem to daycare!”

Cue mass hilarity all around.

Once we had rectified that mistake, Raeli and I had brunch at the local cafe and then went down to Meredith’s Orchard to stock up on fruit and vegies for the Christmas weekend. Got a good deal on raspberries, picked today! Back home to rehabilitate her dolls house in return for putting away or chucking away a whole lot of old toys. And then it was icecream concoction construction (or possibly deconstruction). Using silicon cupcake cases & chocolate mould trays, we made vanilla penguins, turkish delight hearts, and mince pies, all by stirring interesting things into icecream. I also made the outside layer of the icecream pudding (Christmas Bombe!). I was going to have a Turkish Delight core but now I’m thinking raspberry-doctored vanilla.

Sadly I think the creativity overstretched practicality. The results were delicious but messy, and I don’t think the freezer is cold enough for the icecreams in the moulds to harden properly. The best results were the mince pies: brandied fruit stirred into vanilla icecream and scooped into star-shaped silicon cases to serve.

Oh, and I whipped up a lasagne too 😀 Though I managed to split the bechamel sauce like a bad hollandaise, leading to huge amounts of delicious but strangely lumpy cheeseness over the dish. Turns out that an extra large fruitcake pan is actually excellent for making lasagne in. Once again, messy but tasty. (actually that pretty much sums up most of what emerges from my kitchen)

Raeli and I alternated between bonding beautifully and grouching at each other, largely because her vocabulary seems to have reduced sharply to ‘BUT MUUUUUUM’ which drives me wild with irritation, especially when she follows up ‘don’t say that to me again’ with “BUUUUUT MUUUUUUUUUM.” There were times when I thought my head would explode!

She’s still only five, right? Not fifteen?

Tomorrow’s plan is to make it to Pilates for the first time in a month (a succession of disasters and babysitting letdowns have prevented me), to pick up a few groceries (no big pre-Christmas shop for me, I can’t face the queues), check the postbox and then come HOME and pretty much stay here until the holiday hits. Still need to finish the Christmas Bombe, bake a gingerbread cake, and probably make christmas muffins with Raeli because she desperately wants to.

Sigh. Baking with children is fun, but takes FIVE TIMES LONGER.

I should really wrap presents.

Kind of sleepy, actually.


I’ve spent the last several weeks sinking into a slow swamp of rewrites, but I can finally see a glimpse of sunshine, and if you don’t record the good days, somehow they get forgotten faster than anything else.

So today I:

edited seven chapters of Book 2, including three really tricky ones that needed New Writing, and one scene I’ve been planning to write for several months and only just got around to.

while also: shopping for baby food, doing laundry, ridding the kitchen of a scary large pile of washing up, cooking a beef casserole for dinner, baking a batch of cupcakes for Raeli to take for a school fundraiser tomorrow (Children’s Book Week means CAKE)

Partly I want to point out to myself that I can in fact do enough work to justify putting Jem in a full day of daycare a week (though she’ll be back to half days from next week – this was an emergency measure put in to help deal with a sudden extra workload.

And then I get worried that I’ll expect myself to achieve that level of domestic/professional awesomeness all the time, and fall in a heap.

Then I remember all the other things I should have done today – or, more properly, BEFORE today.

Then I tell myself not to be so hard on myself, because I had a good day, and the chances of a day available to work and a GOOD DAY’S WORK actually colliding are pretty rare, actually, and the very fact that I have only had a few full days of daycare in itself piles SO MUCH PRESSURE on that day that the fact that I get anything creative done is in itself a miracle.

So um yes. It was a good day, which is not something I take for granted. And I’m almost done with this book. Then I get a few days of leisure (ha!) to plan the trip to Melbourne, prepare for my panels, and hang out with my girls before I neglect them for a week.

Tomorrow I will take Raeli to school (the one day a week I do the drop off), take baby Jem in later to visit Raeli’s school for the Book Week Parade, take Jem to daycare in the afternoon, spend the next two hours doing a small amount of work such as editing two chapters and possibly posting some dolls, then pick up Raeli and take her to gymnastics.

Heh. Possibly all my days contain awesome achievements, just of different varieties. Thank goodness all my favourite podcasts have new episodes out. It makes the drudge work so very undrudgey. I look forward to housework now!


I am now 32. The day has been celebrated by much and varying kinds of cake. It started out pretty badly after Jem pulled her becoming-traditional-Friday-night-teething-from-hell which meant basically I had to wake up every 1-2 hours to feed her or daub Bonjela on her gums and then feed her, and I woke up feeling wrung out and gnawed-upon. My honey and I horse traded for recovery naps and I won on account of being the one who had been chewed all night, plus the fact that I was the one closest to homicidal.

All in all, it meant that my lazy morning baking cupcakes with my eldest daughter turned into a dash to the finish line with green food colouring and cream cheese icing everywhere.

Food colouring. Just say no. Your carpet will thank you. On an unrelated note, why do icing nozzles not have freaking lids?

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Gingerbread Personages (gluten and dairy free)

So a few people have asked for my dairy and gluten free gingerbread recipe – I feel a bit guilty about posting this, because I’m pretty sure I don’t have the recipe right yet. It’s very much a work in progress. If you try it for yourself and add any tweaks that improve on it, please let me know! In particular I think the mix of flours could use work…

Gingerbread Personages (gluten and dairy free)

Dry Stuff:
1.5 cups potato flour
2 cups rice flour
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp ground ginger

Wet Stuff:
1 egg
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
2/3 cup treacle
140g pureed apple

1. Mix wet stuff in one bowl, and dry stuff in another bowl.
2. Mix contents of two bowls together; stir well, should end up a soft and sticky dough
3. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight also good)

4. Pre-heat oven to 180?C (350?F)
5. Heavily flour (any gluten free option – rice, potato, corn) your cutting board & rolling pin. Carefully roll out gingerbread a small handful at a time to 1cm or so thick.
6. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters – gingerbread people, daleks, rabbits, whatever you have handy.

7. Place shapes on oven tray lined with baking paper. Leave a couple of cm between each but they shouldn’t spread that much.
8. Bake for 8-9 minutes.
9. DO NOT LEAVE IN HOT OVEN, COOL IN FRESH AIR ON WIRE TRAYS (sorry for shouting, just telling my future self)
10. Should make about 3 trays worth of biscuits.

You can decorate with icing made from pure icing sugar & water/eggwhite, bits of dried fruit, or any other dairy & gluten-free tidbit.

Loot and Daleks: a Christmas story

DSC04123Last night we had a Christmas gathering for our usual Thursday night horde. We finished up Battlestar Galactica a couple of weeks ago, so it seemed oddly appropriate to watch the new Doctor Who (Waters of Mars) as our interim ‘episode of the week.’ A DVD set of the Tudors was gifted, so that will be our next show that we try to watch while small children are wandering in and out, shrieking randomly and dismantling each other’s bedrooms.

I made gingerbread! Dairy and gluten free gingerbread, thank you very much. The recipe, largely created and altered by me, was sadly not viewed at its best because I did the stupid thing of leaving the biscuits in the oven after they had finished baking, so they dried out to a consistency of dog biscuits. But hey, the kids (ha well, the boys, but I knew going in Raeli wasn’t a gingerbread fan) seemed to like them and they did look cool. I sent [info] godiyeva home with a ball of leftover dough and hopefully her competence will at least reveal if the recipe was any good. If not – she can always spray paint the biscuits silver and hang them on the Christmas tree.

DSC04122The baking process was convoluted not because of the recipe but because of the complex machinations required to allow three children between the ages of 4 and 6 to have an equal share of the adding ingredients, stirring, rolling and stamping out shapes. Phew! We all survived.

The important thing is gingerbread daleks! Sure it would be nice if they tasted any good, but at least they are there. Kind of like dwarf bread. They’ll last all through Christmas! (luckily I had made some decent shortbread earlier in the week which the adults & Raeli were able to enjoy)
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