Quick no-ice carrot cake

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This is my go-to way of getting something freshly baked on the table for unexpected times.

Ingredients

3 eggs

1/2 c olive oil

4 large carrots peeled and grated

2 apples peeled and grated

2 cups plain flour

1 cup sugar

3 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnimon

raw sugar and sunflower seeds for topping

Method:

Beat eggs, add oil, beat, sift in dry ingredients and mix, add grated carrots and apple. put half into a loaf tin and half into a donut shape tin (helps it cook quick and thorough) sprinkle with raw sugar and top with sunflower seeds.  Bake 180’c for 40 mins and leave to cool in tin for 10 mins before serving hot with custard…. or in my case – sending out to keep the hard working boys and girls warm and comforted with cake.

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We all have choices

We all have choices, no matter how dire they are – WE can CHOOSE…
Even if the choice is life or death…

Do this or die (Vee’s thought track: well if I do it will life be worth living? Alternative thought track: shit I better do as I’m told)

I have to write this out because at a very young age I grasped the theory that: Hard Yards = Amplified Rewards and it pains me that people can make comments like: “you are lucky, yeah but you didn’t grow up like I did (actually you’d be surprised how I grew up), oh but you have Mark to support you”

What nonsense! I have made some very tough choices in life, from a very very young age – choices I believe God guided me to make but nevertheless I made them, no matter how much they caused grief to my life at the time – I knew the rewards would outweigh the grief.

I like to think of life as a see saw:

CHOICES IN LIFE

Choices that give us INSTANT GRATIFICATION:

  • Put things on HP that aren’t necessity items e.g a very flash vehicle or tv when a smaller model would do the job
  • Use credit cards because we are excited that the bank GAVE us money (key: LOAN… not GAVE) and we really want that new appliance at Briscoes that is now in the corner of the cupboard because we are too lazy to use it and prefer to eat takeaways anyway…
  • Over-indulging in bad food choices or booze (yes I’m guilty here – never claimed to be perfect) and it instantly melts away the stress

The see-saw effect of these impulse choices:

  • You are tied to a 3-5 year contract to pay off this vehicle that you can’t afford insurance for because you didn’t think of that, or it craps out and you have to take out another HP to finance a new vehicle because you haven’t been able to save for one since you’ve been paying so many HP’s
  • You have less and less money each week to the point of desperation, you either go bankrupt, or you make your own and the one’s around you “quality of life” miserable because you have to work/earn extra income to keep a float.
  • Your immune system lowers and you get sick (I’m speaking personally… hopefully I’ve learned my lesson), you kick yourself for wasting money on booze because it’s kindergarten rocket science to feed your body with “good” and those around you saw this before you did, so you now feel publicly stupid.

Choices that give us DELAYED GRATIFICATION:

  • Choosing to continue your study after high school instead of party up large and live on either minimum wage or unemployment benefit
  • Choosing to save your money up and buy things with cash that you have available, instead of using a credit card
  • Helping others in anyway you can, financially, a listening ear, or taking them in and providing a roof over their head rather than focusing on yourself and what you want to spend your money, time, possessions doing.

The see-saw effect of these hard-yard choices

  • You earn so much more and have financial freedom, you have a wider knowledge base than those who decide against furthering their education, you have learned to exercise discipline and persistence which is a skill you can apply throughout all aspects of life to achieve success, and you skipped thrashing your body with drugs and alcohol and hopefully made instead of booze buddies, you have some quality friends for life.
  • You actually feel better and have a calmer demeanor about spending money, buying stuff when it craps out is not stressful as you know you have your rainy day savings to take care of it, and you actually have money aside to help and donate to those who need a bit of help.  You have a better understanding of what-a-dollars-worth and you are able to pass this skill and practice down to your children… so they can also have financial freedom… and focus on the quality of life instead of making ends meet.  Finances are one of the top three reasons people Divorce, commit suicide, and commit criminal offenses.
  • This is a no-brainer, seriously who doesn’t love the feeling you get from bringing someone else joy? and that feeling is just adding to the quality of your life through your inner happiness, and any christian knows that its written solid in scripture that you sow and you reep.  The non christian/biblical term for it is Karma.

These are my principals to decision making in life, I hope that they come across non prejudice, they are written about no-one factual, and all generalized situations and examples.  I hope they are readable in a way that is digestible for you to tweak and use to improve your life quality and decision making in life.

Lots of Love

Vee x

PS – Go ahead and SHARE
You are absolutely welcome and have my permission to share this with loved ones… you don’t even need to give me credit for it – I’ll just take the delayed gratification that it helps someones life to be a little peachier 🙂

Rebuild: Budget day draws close

Mark had a meeting with Benchmark homes today and they are all optimistic that the current spec’s chosen will come under budget.  We are a build to budget option.  The two options with AMI/Arrow were: replicate existing, which also would have been fine as we love our house, OR build to budget,

We were advised to build to budget by everyone, professionals, departments, builders, friends, randoms we meet lol seriously everyone.

What this means is we can free up alot of our backyard space where our single garage now sits at the end of our drive.  bigger back yard, no front lawn to mow since the garage will be there – its a win win.

So back to the budget business, as you can imagine it’s only natural with my profession that I would have loved to screw down the figures item by item, but when we initially met with AMI like years ago lol gosh time has flown hasn’t it? they laughed at me… um… I was serious, but no that’s not the way it’s done… plus I’m recovering being a control freak so Mark’s in charge!

He gave me a very vague run down today which I will now share with you.

I wanted the kids full wall length wardrobes to have fully fitted draws, hangers and a desk/study set up, Mark and Ben at Benchmark have come up with something even better! They are going to cove in the study area so that the wardrobe doors don’t cover it… brilliant thinking… way cool.  The point is we (sorry I mean… me… and this is one thing I would throw a hissy about because I’m the clutter clearer so I WANT storage galoor) only want a bed and side table in each bedroom so the wardrobes will need to be fully hard core designed for storage of say 15 more years of accumulated depreciating possessions… gosh kids accumulate stuff.

Mark want’s to upgrade our bench top to some form of stone, but I just think it’s wasted money… he will decide, yes I put my input in, with backup reasoning… no coercion (promise!) but it will be interesting to see what he decides.

Oooh this is cool, the aluminum joinery can be thermal treated, it’s already tinted (so I can strutt round …. in the morning glory) but thermal treated means the aluminum doesn’t drop below the room temperature – long chemistry lesson summed up, NO condensation on the windows.

All the pink batts have been upgraded to a higher rating

I would love our bedroom sound proofed but Marks too posh to make the request…. I thought about telling Ben it would help Marks sleep with his shiftwork… but I don’t think benny boy will buy it.  Nevermind… ok convo boardering on awkward… moving on…

The driveway is polished little rocks, I don’t know the term but it sounds pretty.

The cladding is going to be Rockcote Acrylic Coating with some linea boards as detailing on corners and above/under windows.

The heating is a four way cassette ceiling flush mounted heatpump/aircon, the bedrooms will have aircon down the hall too.

Our color sceme is a whitewash style grey tile laminate flooring, solution dyed nylon carpet but color to still decide with mackenzie and willis, white bathroom fittings, chrome appliances, benchtop color coded with carpet and drapes.  Mark has agreed or agreed to consider putting my fav color as a scheme in the kitchen/bathroom ( bright fluro lime green )

So at this point we were meant to get confirmation from insurance today that it meets budget. I think Mark said it came in just over 300 K so the foundation cost on top and the garage is a skyline to save costs, and the difference we can use for up spec’s.

Wish us luck.  This is such a blessing and a real treat after everything we went through during the quakes and Mark’s new job change, and my study stress.

Recipe: Breadmaker Fruitcake

I was going to do a fruit loaf but honestly my breadmaker isnt very flash, and I just want to sit on my ass today – not wait for the exact right moment I need to toss the fruit in so that my loaf can still have enough rise time…. plus I actually feel like some fruitcake today (pun intended)

Ingredients:This is doubled and put on a regular 1.5kg bread loaf setting in my machine.

** If you don’t have a bread maker – halve the recipe and use a loaf tin and cook for 1hr at a preheated 180’c **

2 cups milk

2 eggs

100g butter softened

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups of tasti brand fruit mix

Method:

Rub the butter into the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, sugar.

Whisk the eggs and milk together and put into the greased bread maker pan (my bread maker has two blades for mixing so don’t hold me hostage if you have a single blade one and it has a hissy)

Add the dry ingredients and wait until all dry is now mixed in with the wet then add the fruit mix – ha! you just skipped the hard work of hand mixing, your welcome!

Because the recipe has rising ingredients in it – there’s no need to wait for adding fruit – trust me…. it will be fine.

Nb: if your fruit mix is quite a dry brand sit it in 2cups of black coffee or hot water overnight to rehydrate it or it will dry out your loaf.

Hint: what else can I do in my bread maker? pretty much anything that cooks for around an hour at 180’c

Recipe: French Onion Bread

This is a bread maker recipe we eat it with soup.

You can omit the fresh onion for a packet of cup-o-soup drymix tossed in instead.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups warm water (really important in colder weather to make it a bit warmer as it needs the right temp to rise for the yeast to multiply)

3 cups of flour

1 onion peeled and grated then pressed against a paper towel to drain excess liquid

2 T of a master foods seasoning, I used mediterranean we use this in bulk. you could make up your own mix of savory spices from scratch.

3 t of bread maker yeast

1 t salt

1 T brown sugar

slice an inch of cheese off a 1kg block & grated (I know… odd measurement…)

 

Method:

Grease pan, pour in water and quickly start machine straight away (some machines decide the warm water is evidence of a previous batch of bread been cooked and demand you let the machine cool down first – dont worry it wont damage the machine… it just helps with rising your bread nice and fluffy)

quickly add flour cup by cup so you don’t end up with preschool paste glue

add the yeast, salt, sugar, spices and let it mix until all flour is now wet.

now add the cheese and drained onion (you do it this way because if you add the cheese and onion while the flour is still mixing in you end up with pieces of cheese and onion coated in dry flour within your baked loaf – yuck!)

close the lid and leave it to do its thing.

 

Quiche, self-crust or add pastry

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Here are my two go-to recipes for quiche.

I like to do it in either texas muffin tins (not silicone as it wont brown) or a square (not the flan dishes, they are annoying to clean) deep dish of say 5cm deep and 20x20cm either use pastry by lining the dish or tins with a rolled out piece of flaky puff pastry.  Get this for like $1.80 from the freezer section at the store, you can’t make it that cheap. Ok I – can’t make it that cheap lol.

Our pastry took 20 mins in front of the fire to defrost.

WITH PASTRY QUICHE

Spray oil your tins/dish and either line your dish/tins with pastry and do the following:

Fry half a capsicum (red looks pretty) or dice a tomato to throw in at the end if you dont like capsicums, fry the capsicum with an onion and say 300gm of diced bacon (I buy the 1kg and dice it up and freeze in these size portions in the freezer prediced)

chop up HEAPS of some quick cooking greens, spinach, silver beet, cabbage and put into the frypan to reduce in size and infuse with the meat/onion.

you want six eggs whisked and 1/4 cup of milk. pour this into an old empty milk bottle if you are doing it in the tins for easy pouring.

so if your tins/dish is lined fill it/them with the fry-pan ingredients and equally pour the milky egg mix in the center of each texas tin mould, or just zig zag over if using a square dish.

Top with sprinkling of salt and pepper and a handful of grated cheese and cook at 180’c for 30 mins

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SELF CRUST QUICHE

if using texas muffin tins spray them with oil and cut some massive rectangles of greaseproof paper and line them with it.

for this recipe you only need 3 eggs, but you need 1/2 cup of self raising flour and 1 cup of milk, plus any meat and vegetables similar to above as filling. some chunks of feta and some olives is really really nice way to posh it up – mmmm feta.

step 1. after frying meat and onion and vegetables to reduce the greens in size, stir in the eggs and milk and beat with a fork until mixed. pour this into the bowl containing the 1/2 cup of SR flour

That’s it, portion it into your tins or your dish and cook for 20-30mins at 220’c

Grandma’s Kiwi Gravy

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Man Grandmas were onto a good thing when they invented gravy.  You get the iron from the meat juice, minerals from the vegetable juice and added color and flavor from… my secret ingredient.  Nothing went to waste in those days, and it’s not surprising that they probably made the gravy for the nutritional benefits too… gravy is typically a winter condiment so no better time to cram some garlic and onions in that immune system.

Ingredients

Vegetable stock (save from veges), pan coated from frying meat, Onion, Garlic, Masa flour, S&P, Milk, Marmite!

Cook your beef in your pan in olive oil and set the meat aside to keep warm.  Place the onion and garlic diced into the pan and brown them… add a little more olive oil if need be.

Use two cups of juice from your boiled vegetables and add it to your frypan bringing it to simmer.

Take three fork fulls (don’t suggest a spoon, you’ve gotta do it grandma’s way.. she used a fork, I use a fork… ok) of masa flour and use a small dish, put alternate mixing in milk and freshly boiled water to make it into a watery paste, you do this so you don’t get lumps in your thickner.  Masa flour is made from corn, it’s not cornflour, its a thicker feeling flour with much more flavor and they use it to make tortillas and cornchips… right back to it…

Once you have a lukewarm milky masa paste get your fork and scoop out a forkfull of marmite, whirlpool this in your pan of stock/onions/garlic until its fully melted, marmite is a yeast spread it is loaded with nutrients, read the back of the label… good stuff!

Right now this is the tricky part, you need to get your fork and start whisking from the center of the pan out, then back to the center and out again, over and over while you slowly pour the masa milky mix at the centre of your pan… stop pouring it as you whisk in bigger circles to the edge of the pan and start pouring again when your back to whisking in the center… its crucial you do this as to not get lumps.

If you do get lumps you can stick blend it (to make sure you keep the onions and garlic in there) and pour it through a sieve.

Another benefit is if you burnt any bits on your pan – its now clean.  Pour the gravy into a serving dish and rinse your pan out with hot water. Dishes are done!

Kettle Korn

Crazy Stuff!
Thanks so much Sel for introducing me to this stuff. Wow – I’ve been under a rock haven’t I.

Kettle Korn, supermarkets have it in the microwave bags… its salty its sweet… sounds odd and satisfies both savory and sweet cravings with a small hand full.

There are heaps of recipes for it on the web but its a treat so I’m happy to buy it in the microwavable bag.

Yum.
http://www.kettlekorn.co.nz/