I have a bit of an obsession with good infographics. I also love hummus. So, how could I not share this hummus infographic with you? I mean, it’s fate, right?
As someone who is currently trying desperately to be gluten free, and also has a large group of gluten free friends, I hate that going out for dinner often means either limiting yourself to about twenty percent of the menu. I also hate being that annoying customer who makes a million alterations to a dish, because I know that chefs put a great deal of time and effort into creating menus to show off the produce they use, and their kitchen’s skills.
I know it’s my choice to be gluten free, and I should just deal with it and order something off the menu that I can eat as is, but that sucks. Usually that means a steak and vegetables, possibly without any sauce, as a lot of restaurant sauces contain gluten. For a number of my friends who also happen to be vegetarian, or lactose intolerant, or allergic to nuts, it limits their choices even more. For one gent I know, it means he has to call ahead whenever he goes out to confirm there is actually something on the menu he can possibly eat—he’s gluten, fructose, sucrose, lactose, and acid intolerant (intense, right?). So, this infographic makes me happy, because it’s all about encouraging restaurants to adjust to a gluten free-friendly menu. Kind of want to print a stack and do a secret letterbox drop around toowoomba. Seriously, this town is not allergen/dietary requirement-friendly.
Okay, so I promised cake, and cake you shall have. Tada!
This masterpiece is the cake I baked last night/today, in honour of my dear friend Wabi. She turned twenty-nine today and, while this has been far from a great year for her so far, I hope today was at least one she can look back and smile about. That’s what the cake was about—giving her something to smile about.
I went to the supermarket with no idea what I was going to make. I knew I was going for cake, but I had no idea what sort, what flavour, or what size. Wandering the aisles I picked up the basics—eggs, chocolate, almond meal—and tried to figure out how to make my cake super special. And then I remembered that Wabi and I are both huge fans of the incredibly clever Steph, from Raspberri Cupcakes. Bam! Suddenly I knew exactly where this cake was going.
Before we get to the cake, let me tell you a bit about Raspberri Cupcakes, and the lady behind it. Steph is an Aussie food fiend who loves to bake, especially if it involves creating something unique. Her creations are amazing. From Milo Cheesecake with a chocolate crackle crust, to a giant Tim Tam cake, and her ultra-cool beetroot lollipops, you’re bound to find something extra special you just have to make. Check her out, I guarantee you won’t regret it.
Alright, back to the cake. As I said, my inspiration came directly from Steph’s reinterpretation of classic treats. I originally thought I might do a Monte Carlo but, after realising it would essentially be a sponge filled with cream and strawberries, I decided the fanciful Iced Vovo would be much more fun. I had meant to take photos during the process but…I left it until the last minute to put the darn thing together, and ran out of time.
BTW, it was a hit! Not only did it look like an Iced Vovo, it tasted amazing. People even went back for seconds. So I figure I better give you the recipe. I used two separate cakes for this: an Almond and Coconut cake from Wayfaring Chocolate, and a flourless chocolate number via Gluten Free Mommy—both moist, light, and fabulous on their own as well. The original Almond and Coconut cake called for raspberries dotted throughout but, knowing I was using them on the top as well, I decided to omit them from the cake. Because Wabi and I are both trying to eat better, I also substituted the sugar in both cakes for Xylitol. Oh, and I baked the cakes in a low lamington/slice pan, about 27cm x 18cm.
To assemble, I left the coconut cake as it was, to give the cake a biscuit-look about it. The chocolate cake I cut into thirds longways, ending up with two long thin bars and a spare for when I stuffed up (which I did). I trimmed the edges so each bar was nice and neat, and then coated them in a basic cream cheese frosting, tinted a pretty pink. I plonked the bars on top of the coconut cake, just in from the edge so you could still see the bottom layer, and then doused them in a layer of moist shredded coconut. The last step was super easy. A dash of jam down the centre, between the two chocolate bars, and then as many raspberries as possible crammed on top of the jam. Voila! A giant sugar and gluten free Iced Vovo.
Happy Birthday Amber Wabi, hope you had a fantastic day.
Time got away from me a bit this week, friends.
A neighbour, who also happens to be a close family friend from years ago, faced the death of two very important people this week. She was overwhelmed by the death, as well as the commitments to help the families of the departed, and I offered my help. This created a rather busy week, already over-filled with work, and left no time on Wednesday and Thursday for blogging.
Friday it all caught up. I woke at 2pm disoriented and with a pounding head. I’d slept right through from 11:30 the previous, so you’d think I’d be done with sleep, but within ten minutes I was out cold again, this time until five. I felt better—my head had stopped pounding and I wasn’t as dizzy, so I said yes when mum asked if I would join them for dinner at the local pub. But then I got up. Within mere seconds of standing my head started pounding, the room was spinning, and my whole body was screaming ‘LIE DOWN’.
I woke again at midday today, almost feeling myself. I dragged myself out of bed at two because I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting another whole day asleep. Instead, I went to town and bought groceries to make a special cake. I rested for a bit, and then produced two spectacular cakes—they smell amazing. I’m excited to put them together in the morning as a special treat for a lovely Birthday friend (more on that tomorrow).
I tell you this, not for sympathy, but because it feels like a triumph. Who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow, but today I won—I pushed through and made my my cakes. A small win, but one I’m going to take. And, after all, when is cake not a win?
Okay, so maybe my topic choice tonight seems like a bit of a stretch. But, seriously, when have you ever thought someone who was kind to you was unfashionable for their actions. Personally, I think kindness is the coolest look ever.
This is my birthday haul. Yes, haul. All that stuff is from just three brilliant, fantastic, Ah-mazing ladies, who just happen to be three of my bestest friends in the whole world (and not just because that give me cool shiz). Not only have I been showered with gifts tonight, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by kindness.
Tonight was to be a movie night/dinner at Helva’s place—just a casual get-together, not unlike many we have had in the past. I kinda knew something was up, however, when the planning took a decidedly “hands-off, Heidi!” turn. And by “up”, I mean geared towards a semi-surprise party for me. My suspicions were confirmed on arrival at Helva’s, mainly from the copious amounts of wrapped items sitting in wait. That said, every gift was a pleasant surprise. Not going to lie, dying to finish this post so I can pore through my books before sleep.
But wait…there’s more! (Nineties home shopping, anyone?). There had been some mention of frocking up for this movie night which, quite frankly, I was incredibly un-keen for this afternoon—I was, in fact, an inch away from donning trackies and a tee. Luckily, I chose some semblance of a dress-leggings combo, because it turned out that their little surprise included a lovely dinner at one of Toowoomba’s finest restaurants.
I had a bit of a whinge about not looking the part, and not being prepared to go out for dinner, etc. But within five minutes of sitting down I’d forgotten all about the lack of make-up and unbrushed hair. Dinner was delicious. If you’re ever in Toowoomba, head to Veraison—it’s not cheap, but each bite is worth a week’s salary. The company was spectacular, although we probably need to work on our inside voices and topic choices. Er, rhyme not intended. And the sentiment behind it was utterly wonderful.
As I type this last bit I’m tearing up, but for very different reasons than those, that left me foetal on my bed earlier today. The past few weeks (months, years) have really shaken me. I’ve spent many days wondering how to dig myself out of this ever-widening hole, and many more days simply deciding it’s maybe just not worth the effort. Tonight three ladies proved me wrong, because just getting to spend time with them makes it worth all the effort.
Helva, Wabi, and Rendez, thank you. I know I had a moan over the unexpectedness of it all, but I truly appreciated tonight. Thank you for being such wonderful, caring, beautiful women. Kindness looks good on you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers! I was lucky enough (and very honoured) to be asked to guest post on One Good Thing yesterday, as part of Wabi’s week-long tribute to love. I talked about love, and felt the love come right back at me. It was awesome.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of V-Day. In or out of a relationship, to me, it feels like a staged display of affection. Working yesterday evening, my feelings were only compounded—a bunch of people getting in early with their V-Day flowers, and all but one claiming, “if I don’t get her/him something, I’ll be in trouble”. Why, because you chose not to follow the trend? Isn’t that a bit sad?
Personally, I’d much rather receive flowers (or chocolates, or jewellery, or shoes), because my man happened to be thinking about me, not because the whole world has dictated that if he’s doesn’t get me something he doesn’t love me. But hey, that’s just me.
In saying that, I do love love. So today’s thematic is ultimately dedicated to all things love. Like these kitties, who prove that it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white:
See what I did there?
There’s always so many lovely Valentine’s Day recipes out there, I can’t possibly share all of them. Here’s a collage of cute sweets instead. Check out the description below for recipe links, and get cooking!
Not a baker? How about a pretty card for your love? Or even just for a pal who you think is wonderful.
And for all you kids out there who are as suspect of V–Day as I am, this is the card for you:
Buut, if I ever was to get something this cute from a Valentine, I’d probably change my opinion:
Aren’t these cookies adorable?! They’re pretty much perfect for the weather in Queensland and New South Wales at the moment, and probably the perfect sweet treat.