Saturday, April 28, 2012

Where to buy barberries?

For those who were asking, I found a barberry seller! They are located in Melbourne with various shops around, but they also post out. Mine should arrive in a few days, & I am a tad over-excited by the prospect. Perhaps I should get a life.

You can buy your barberries from NSM Wholesalers. They were so nice & helpful, made it all quite a pleasant experience. And if anyone else finds any other barberry recipes please let me know.

16 Years of Marriage

Jeremy & I recently celebrated our 16 year wedding anniversary. Who would have thought it? I must say it has been a great 16 years, full of laughter, not too many arguments & always feeling loved by a genuinely nice man. He is my biggest supporter, biggest critic & my bestest friend in the whole wide world. So, Jem, thanks for the past 16 years, thanks for our sons & our life together. And thank you for my lovely anniversary flowers. I love you to the moon & stars & back again.

I won a Kreativ Blogger Award!

Wow! Yesterday I won a Kreativ Blogger Award, nominated by a dear friend of mine, Stephanie. You simply must have a look at her lovely blog There She Goes where she shares her thoughts on life, love, children, work & all things. You will enjoy yourself, her words are lovely.

So, in line with the Kreativ Blogger award rules, here are 7 things about me that you may or may not know:
  1. Last year I completed a course which I have been wanting to do for such a long time. I am not going to say what it is (in such a public forum) as I do not want to jinx myself. My results & application have been submitted to where they need to go & now I am just waiting to hear the outcome. All bits crossed for my dream being achieved!
  2.  I love sewing but have not done so creatively in a very long time. I had the sewing machine serviced this week so I have no excuses to make something fabulous now & have various projects swirling in my head.
  3. I love tapestry & cross stitch, & have made quite a few which I am so proud of. I must post up some photos of them actually.
  4. I absolutely loathe other people's feet & am not too dramatically fond of my own. I will never suck your toes.
  5. Both of my parents arrived in Australia post WW2 from Holland. I cannot believe how brave their parents were in bringing the family to a totally new country to give their children ( & subsequently me) a chance at a better life.
  6. I love living in Ballarat. I love the weather, the peacefulness of where we live & the chances that we have with truly great schools, the University, the food & the friends that we have here.
  7. I am very intolerant of whingers & whiners, the people who always feel hard done by when in fact, life is a tad difficult at that particular time. The genuine ones: I am with you all the way & will fight for you, but to those with the victim mentality: suck it up, get on with it & remember there are always others far worse off than us.

And so, to my Kreativ Blogger Award winners: thank you to each & every one of you as you bring joy & interest to my life xx

  1. A Bex & a Good Lie Down: I love Hazel & her world view. She makes me laugh & have a good think about things in general. 
  2. A Goddess in the Kitchen: Ella is a fabulous cook who recently moved to PNG with her husband. This blog is about cooking & life in PNG.
  3. Art Deco Buildings: my friend David has taught me so much about the beauty that is an art deco building. I had no idea that they were so lovely.
  4. Flower Garden: Annie is a lovely lady in Ballarat, with gorgeous photography skills. This blog is peaceful & pretty.
  5. Kabri's Blog: this is my friend Karo who lives in Finland. She also has briard dogs & she is a fab photographer.
  6. Missy Mao Mao: Marilyn is a very talented & creative sewer. I do feel envy when I look at all her stuff & have one of her beautiful handbags.
  7. Gleeful: Jayne's blog is inspiring in just appreciating something each day & feeling thankful for what we have & do. Simple concept, but very awesome.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Moraba-ye Zereshk

I have a most wonderful friend (insert "sistah") named Beck. She is warm, generous, funny, wise & a truly beautiful soul. I trust & admire her so much. I am times am very jealous of her strength, intelligence & her outer beauty. She is a crazy girl who challenges me & makes me feel all warm & fuzzy inside at how lucky I am to be her friend. She went shopping the other day & rang me from some exotic spice store in Melbourne to see if I wanted anything. So, I just said: buy me something I don't have, pick something....... & of course she decided to take it that one step further by buying me something I had never ever heard of & then found me a recipe. Who on earth has heard of a BARBERRY? ?

Apparently they are widely cultivated in Iran as mainly a dried fruit & they also are reported to have medicinal purposes. Beck found me the MOST DIVINE preserve recipe. I can't describe how beautiful this jam is, & if you do happen to find a barberry seller then please give this recipe a go. The berries are teeny tiny, like currants & they are quite tangy. With the other ingredients, this jam packs a flavourful punch. Thanks Beck for this recipe & the chance to discover something utterly delightful. I love you my friend xx. 

Moraba-ye Zereshk (Barberry Preserve with Cinnamon & Vanilla - from "Saraban")

100gm dried barberries
260gm sugar
1 tbsp cracked cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 vanilla pod, split
700ml boiling water
  1. Soak the barberries in cold water for 2 minutes & then drain
  2. Put the barberries in a heavy based saucepan with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring to the boil over a medium heat
  4. Lower the heat & cook at a gentle simmer for 40 - 50 minutes or until the syrup coats the back of a spoon thickly.
  5. Stir regularly & skim off from time to time if needed.
  6. Ladle into sterilised jars & pour on enough syrup to cover completely
  7. Seal while hot & store in a cool place.
  8. Makes about 300mls.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

A very happy Easter to you all! I hope you got to spend time with those you love, ate too much chocolate & generally just relaxed. I was off on the Public Holidays, which was nice, but had to work the weekend - bit of a poop, but at least now I have 3 days off at home with the family. We woke the boys early on Easter Sunday to do the obligatory Easter egg hunt, & they indulged me even though they are teenage boys (I do think that they really quite enjoyed it). How sad it is to lose that magical time where we believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa & the Tooth Fairy. Wouldn't it be great if they did really exist? We could behave like excited kids every now & then...... But then again, parents do earn the privilege of being able to be truly special, just for the kids, even if if it just for such a very brief time. I miss that fun actually.

You must make these Hot Cross Buns, it is a bullet proof recipe every time. I do tend to add more spices than listed, and they do make enormous buns. Maybe next time I will make 18 rather than 12, just to see how they turn out.

Hot Cross Buns. 

4 cups plain flour
2 x 7gm sachet dried yeast
¼ cup caster sugar
1½ tsp mixed spice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1½ cups currants (or mixed fruit/peel)
40gm butter
300ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Flour Paste:
½ cup plain flour
4 -5 tbsp water

2/3 cup water
4 tbsp caster sugar
  1. Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, spices, salt & currants in a large bowl. 
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat & then add the milk. 
  3. Heat for a minute or until lukewarm. 
  4. Add the warm milk mixture & the eggs to the flour mixture. 
  5. Use a flat blade knife to mix the dough until it all comes together. 
  6. Turn out the dough into a floured board & knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth. 
  7. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl & cover with plastic wrap. 
  8. Set aside in a warm draught-free place to rise for 1½ hours. 
  9. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
  10. Punch down the dough to its original size
  11. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth. 
  12. Divide into 12 portions & shape each portion into a ball. 
  13. Place the balls into the tray, about 1cm apart, cover with plastic wrap & leave to rise again for 30 minutes, or until they double in size. 
  14. Preheat the oven to 190oC.
  15. Make the flour paste: mix the flour & together until smooth, adding more water if too thick. Spoon into a snap lock bag & then cut 1 corner off. Pipe the paste over the buns to form crosses. 
  16. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. 
  17. Make glaze: place the sugar & water into a saucepan over low heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil & boil for 5 minutes. Brush the warm glaze over warm buns.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Apple Chutney

So, I had an excess of beautiful apples. I've never made an apple chutney before but I made this one today & it is sensational! This amount gave me 5 medium sized jars. And beware: the chillies add quite a bit of zing (in the nice way of course).

Apple Chutney

1.5kg apples, finely chopped
500gm onions, finely chopped
1.5 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 red chillies 
1/2 tbsp salt
1.5 cups vinegar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pan.
  2. Bring to the boil slowly.
  3. Simmer until the mixture thickens & ladle into sterilised jars
  4. Seal & label: store for 3 months before eating. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blackberry Jam

Today the husband & I went out for a self-indulgent yummy breakfast with two of our very dear friends, Darren & Cherril. These people are gorgeous, the sort that you are just at such ease with, love to be with & who just make you laugh. Luckily for me, they have a multitude of fresh blackberries at their property - & they collected some for me, which of course means, blackberry jam!

Blackberry Jam

1.5 kg fresh blackberries
1.5 kg sugar
Juice of half a lemon
¼ cup water
I packet of pectin (such as Jamsetta)

  1. Combine the berries, water & lemon juice in to a big saucepan.
  2. Heat gently, gradually bringing to a slow boil.
  3. Heat the sugar in a microwave for 2 minutes (usually in 2 batches) & gradually add to the berry mixture: mix in well until dissolved.
  4. Add the pectin: mix in well until dissolved
  5. Pour into sterilised jars & seal well.