Tag Archives: salt

Red Tea and Sweet Bread

I did no work for this post whatsoever. The Offspring made the sweet bread rolls, and I can’t even tell you where the cup-and-saucer came from as the mark is so small and smudged I couldn’t make out even a single letter. But it is pretty. 🙂

The bread rolls turned out to be delicious, and vaguely reminiscent of croissants. Not as fluffy and flaky, of course, but the kind of flavour that you could eat with either jam or something more savoury. Definitely a hit.

The Offspring found the recipe for the bread rolls on Youtube and followed the instructions on the video. There are a lot of breadmaking videos so here’s a selection of good ones:

All three videos use plain [all purpose] flour, egg, butter, yeast, salt and sugar, but the techniques are slightly different. Oh, and the buns won’t rise quite so well if you make the gap between each ball too wide – i.e. they need to be close enough to support each other as they rise.

And now for the red tea. I couldn’t get the same ‘pink’ tea as before, so this time I tried Twinings ‘Cranberry & Pomegranate’. The flavour is great but it’s the smell that blows me away. I think they add hibiscus to the tea because the aroma is strong, distinctive and fruity/flowery.

-blush- Apologies, I sound like some wine buff waffling on about the ‘bouquet’ but honestly, the smell is divine, and that’s coming from someone who loves coffee!

If you’ve had a special treat lately, I’d love to hear about it. 🙂

cheers
Meeks



Cookies and Milk

The title of this post should have been ‘Coffee and Cake’, but we made the Triple Choc Chocolate biscuits last night, and it was too late for coffee, so…

Ahem. The Offspring and I adore these biscuits because they really are made with three lots of chocolate. There’s cocoa and melted chocolate in the biscuit dough, and then there are lumps of chocolate in each biscuit as well [the recipe is at the end of this post].

You can see how gooey and melted and divine those lumps of chocolate are here:

and here:

and here:

That’s why these biscuits are at their most divine straight from the oven. They are delicious cold as well, but not quite as delicious. 🙂

Now, a word about sweetness. If you love super sweet, commercial biscuits, you will not love these triple choc biscuits. There is sugar in the biscuit dough, but not a huge amount, and the chocolate is unsweetened, dark chocolate. The cocoa is unsweetened, Dutch cocoa as well so the overall effect is not overly sweet.

There, you have been warned. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy the following recipe. 🙂

Provenance: Vogue Entertaining & Travel, June/July 1999.

[We only ever make half quantities at a time so I’ve provided the cut down quantities in brackets. They’re not exactly half quantities, but they work.]

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plain or all purpose flour [1/2 a cup and a ‘bit’]
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch cocoa [1 tablespoon ]
1 teaspoon baking powder [1/2 a teaspoon]
3/4 of a teaspoon salt [1/4 teaspoon]
500 gm good quality bittersweet dark chocolate [250 gm]
125 gm unsalted butter [60 gm]
1/2 cup sugar [1/4 cup sugar]
3 large eggs [add 1 whole egg, then crack a second egg into a bowl, beat it and add half of the beaten egg only]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180o C or 356 F [make it a little less if using fan forced]
  2. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  4. Melt 3/4 of the dark chocolate [about 190 gm if making half quantities] with the butter in a small saucepan – don’t let it burn!
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar [I let the mixture cool a tiny bit before the next step]
  6. Stir in the eggs, one at a time until well mixed
  7. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined
  8. Cover the dough with cling wrap and chill for up to 1 hour
  9. Remove teaspoon sized balls of dough and place on the baking sheet, about 3.5 cm or 2 inches apart [the balls will expand a lot as they bake]
  10. Push small [or larger] chips of the dark chocolate into each biscuit [we like big gooey lumps so tend to use 1 large piece in instead of 2 or 3 smaller ones]
  11. Bake in the middle of a hot oven for 10 minutes or until just done. I set a timer for 8 minutes, turn the sheet, and reset the timer for another 2 minutes. The biscuits should feel slightly squishy to the touch. This is what you want as they will harden as they cool. If you leave them in for even 2 minutes longer, they’ll be hard and biscuity instead of soft and chewy.
  12. Allow the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. That’s the official line. The unofficial line is that you can eat them as soon as they don’t burn your fingers….

Have a wonderful day, and don’t eat the Triple Choc Biscuits all at once!

cheers
Meeks


Natural Flea control for Cats & Dogs

Be sure to get my good side

Twenty-eight years ago, I lived through a flea infestation, the likes of which I never want to see again.

I don’t know if it was that house [we’d only just moved in], or a flea plague generally,  but the cat had fleas, despite his flea collar, and the whole house was infested as well. I could literally see them jumping from the polished floor boards onto my legs. It was awful and took two lots of professional, whole-house, heavy-duty chemical flea treatments to get rid of them.

I’m not saying all this to try to scare people. I’m just trying to explain why I have a horror of fleas. But the flip side of that bad memory is that I also have a horror of the chemicals used in commercial pet treatments. I’ve read so many horror stories about cats, and dogs, dying from those treatments that I simply can’t do that to Mogi and the cats. But I still fear and loathe fleas…

Two years ago, I decided that I’d tackle the flea problem naturally. I went on a research binge and discovered that:

  1. fleas tend to stay on the animal that is their ‘home’,
  2. fleas lay eggs on the animal, but the eggs drop off after about 2 hours,
  3. flea eggs tend to accumulate in the areas where pets sleep and groom themselves. These areas include carpets, bedding and soft furnishings,
  4. flea eggs need fairly strict environmental conditions to hatch. Again, carpet, bedding and soft furnishings provide the perfect conditions for both eggs and flea larvae.

Clearly, just killing the adult fleas wasn’t going to keep my pets, and house, flea free. To break the cycle, I’d have to tackle both the pets and the surrounds at the same time. More research.

The natural solutions I found for the house centred on bi-carbonate of soda – plain old, cheap-as-chips bi-carb. Apparently, it kills fleas and their larvae. I also discovered that salt dehydrates the flea eggs, killing them. Salt can be a bit rough on the carpets though, and you wouldn’t want the pets eating it so a combination of bi-carb and salt is an option of last resort.

Bi-carb on carpets

To see if the bi-carb solution was real or simply an old-wives tale, I began sprinkling bi-carb on all my rugs and the few carpeted areas of the house [bedrooms]. Next, I’d brush the bi-carb deep into the carpet fibres [with a broom]. This pushes the bi-carb down to the base of the fibres where the fleas and eggs are located. It also stops the rugs/carpet from looking too awful while the bi-carb does its job. This can take from 14 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours.

Why the time limit? Because after 48 hours the bi-carb loses its effectiveness.

As well as keeping the carpets/rugs from becoming infested, I also wash all the animal bedding once a week. My washing machine includes a soak option, so I soak the bedding in hot water with Bositos washing powder [Bositos includes eucalyptus oil] for an hour or so. Then I rinse the bedding and hang it outside to dry.

So far so good. I haven’t had a single flea bite on my legs so I know the bi-carb is working, but what of the animals?

Fleas on pets

As it’s been so dry, I know I’ll have to do something about fleas on the cats. According to my research, you can put bi-carb directly onto a cat, especially around the neck area which is where fleas congregate, but…I’m a bit worried they may ingest too much of it as they groom themselves. Back to the research.

I found the following website just this morning:

http://theverybestcats.blogspot.com/2009/08/controlling-and-killing-fleas.html

It’s the most comprehensive site I’ve found to-date and mentions some options I’ve never come across before. These include apple cider vinegar and a home-made citrus oil. Apparently, fleas hate the acid of the vinegar and the smell? taste? of the citrus oil. As I’ve been a huge fan of vinegar for years, I’m going to get some apple cider vinegar today. I’ll wrestle the cats tonight and report back in a few days.

Now, the only pet left is Mogi, the dog. I bathe her regularly and wash all her bedding etc, but you should only wash a dog once a week, maximum, so I may try giving her a diluted vinegar ‘rinse’ as well, especially near the base of her tail. I’ll report back on the vinegar rinse as well.

Natural vs chemical

One last thing, I don’t suffer from extreme chemical sensitivities, but I have friends who do. I know it’s real, and potentially deadly. I also worry about the explosion of chemical cleaning products in the home. They all list ingredients that read like an alchemist’s cookbook. Each individual product ‘may’ be safe, but has anyone tested the effect of all those products added together? I think not, and that worries me. The cost worries me too, especially when so many of them don’t actually work all that well. What you see on the commercial doesn’t translate to a real home environment.

For all those reasons, I try and use natural cleaning products as much as possible. Apart from the bi-carb on the rugs, I also wash my polished wood floors with either hot water and vinegar or hot water and eucalyptus oil. Both do a fantastic job, and the vinegar at least, is ridiculously cheap, so I strongly recommend throwing all those expensive and potentially harmful chemical products away.

Seriously, you don’t need them, and neither do small children and pets. Remember, they’re closer to the floor than you are.

cheers

Meeks


Split Pea Tubes – shame on me :(

Okay, I admit it, I love salt. And fat. But normally I can control myself. Not so with these new Split Pea Tubes:

split pea tubes 1

I found them on the supermarket shelf about two weeks ago and thought I’d give them a try – after all, split peas are good for you, right? These are the ingredients shown on the back of the pack:

split pea tubes 3

And this is what a single serve looks like:

split pea tubes 2

That’s also how much I ate…just on the way home from the supermarket. The rest of the pack disappeared by the end of the second day. This many kilojoules in just two days, while I was trying to diet.:

split pea tubes 4

Since then I haven’t dared buy the Split Pea Tubes again because, honestly, they’re the most delicious things I’ve eaten since the corn chip was first introduced to Australian consumers. The reason I’m publishing this blog post is that I hope it will provide the element of shame I’ll need when will-power wears thin.

My advice? Try one packet and then never buy them again. Seriously delicious. 😦

Meeks


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