SC “Foccacia” Bread

It’s safe to say, my slow cooker is doing my belly no favours.
Having said that, omnomnomnomnom! I know my next adventure was meant to be chicken, but damn you SC. Damn you.

My friend, Laura Flozzles, was telling me about this delicious bread she had made in her SC yesterday – it was simple and sounded delicious and then of course she proceeded to eat it and tell me just how good it was and I thought stuff it. I’m damn well making one of my own.

Using the base recipe that she and so many others have, I added cheese, bacon and garlic powder and crossed my fingers.

Slow Cooked “Foccacia” Bread
Serves many, but maybe only 1 or 2

Ingredients:
3 cups self raising flour
2 cups warm water
1/2 tsp salt

Add whatever else you like – add some to the mix and save some for the top.
This variation:
5 rashers bacon, chopped (fat removed) and pan fried
2 cups (or there abouts) of grated tasty cheese
2 tbs garlic powder

Method:
Line your slow cooker bowl with baking paper – you can spray this if you like (I didn’t).
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and garlic powder together. Add water, stirring with spoon/flat-bladed knife.
Add in 3/4 of the bacon  and 1/2-3/4 of the grated cheese and mix together well.
Pour into lined cooker bowl.
Sprinkle remaining cheese and bacon on top.
Lay a tea towel over the top of your cooker bowl and pop the lid on. Turn cooker onto high and cook for 1 and a 1/2 hours.
Once cooked, slide under the grill on high for as long as it takes to brown and crunchy up the topping.

Stand back and admire the simplicity of your awesomeness.

 

Nutrition: Bacon is the most important food group known to man. Cheese comes from cows, cows eat grass, grass is nature and nature is beautiful?

 

SC chs bcn bread 3

SC chs bcn bread 2

SC chs bcn bread

SC chs bcn bread 4

 

Tips:

– I know I usually say woah, too much salt but no. This needs more salt. Or more bacon, I’m undecided at this point. I suggest using at least a whole teaspoon of salt.
– Crushed garlic may work just as well as garlic powder, I would just use it sparingly..
– 1.5 hours wasn’t long enough. Although my knife was clean when I stabbed it, it was still a little too soft. I would push it up to 1hr 45mins next time, maybe even 2 hours.
– Sift the flour. I’m not a believer of sifting flour but I think I should have, this probably would have created the “foccacia” texture.
– You can do so many variations of this, just put in everything and anything you love. Onions, herbs, pineapple, sun-dried tomatoes…you could also do a sweet version, replacing salt with sugar, etc. Sultanas, raisins (if you’re that way inclined) choc bits, fruit?

Thoughts:

Yep. Pretty amazeballs.
As I mentioned, not being cooked quite as long as it should have, it was a little too soft which I don’t mind in cakes but isn’t right for bread. Having said that, the mix contained cheese, maybe once it’s cooled right down that softness will not be so evident. (Yes, I had to taste it two minutes after it was done, okay.)
Definitely needed more salt. Definitely needed the flour sifted.

Repeat Offender?

Yes please.
My next variation I will fry off some onions (thank you Flozzles), use cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and some herbs..maybe rosemary or thyme. And of course bacon.
This was so easy to make, you need absolutely zero cooking skills. Would go nicely with soups and stuff.
Have you made this before and if so, what variations did you use?
SHARE THEM WITH ME and I will be your friend.

 

Slow Cook FTW

I’m not new to the slow cooking thing, but I must admit that I’ve only ever used my slow cooker for stews and that has been a whole…five times?

My friend is currently on a slow cooking marathon (because she is crazy like that) and introduced me to a group on Facebook, full of people just like her – crazy slow cookers!
I was amazed at the things people are cooking in their crock pots – cakes, pies, quiches, spaghetti, lasagna and the list goes on. I thought damn. I’m clearly limiting myself by just using mine twice a year for stew.

So I pulled it out – it was a smaller cooker, Home Collection brand – and thought I would try making some cinnamon scrolls.
The scrolls were wicked – the slow cooker, not so much.
I don’t know if it’s just the Home Collection brand, but the ceramic bowl seemed to have absorbed some serious stench from previous cooking, my house smelled like I’d like set a bag of dog crap on fire >.>

Thankfully the scrolls didn’t absorb the stench, but needless to say..the cooker is now resting in piece and awaiting its final adventure to the rubbish tip.

I went out and bought another because reasons.
I picked up this 6L Kambrook cooker from Big W, for $58:

 

slow cooker

I was after a Sunbeam, but I didn’t want to wait (or drive a million miles to get one) but this one is doing fine 😀

 

So, first test for my new toy – Pulled Pork.
I’ve always wanted to make this. Every time I’ve eaten it, I’ve never been disappointed.

I took the recipe below from a random Google search which landed me here at 100 Days of Real Food. Seemed like a good a place to start!

 

Pulled Pork in a Crock Pot
SERVES: 6 – 8
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt (if desired, you can cut back on the salt by only using 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if desired, you can cut back on the pepper by only using ½ teaspoon of cayenne)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork.
  2. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste.
  3. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
  5. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread.

 

 Nutrition: If you follow the above to the letter, there’s way too much salt. But pork is nutritious and tasty and it’s made in the same place that bacon is.

Pulled Pork 3Pre-Cooked

 

Pulled Pork 2

 

Pulled Pork

Seriously, how gorgeous does that look?!

Tips:

– Do NOT use 2 tablespoons of salt, don’t even use 1. I recommend no more than half a tablespoon – I used 1 when I made this and it was way too much for my liking.
– Use a full cup of honey.
– Slice the onion into quarters.

Thoughts:

Aside from the salty, this was amazing. The pork fell apart as I tried to take it out of the cooker (the second picture shows just a part of the entire shoulder roast). I definitely recommend a shoulder piece of meat – I removed the string net before cooking. I also left the skin on – I figured the fat would dribble and help keep everything moist. Pretty sure I was right.
The meat was so soft and moist, it fell apart with no effort. It smelled amazing.

Taste? I liked it…but it wasn’t perfect. Maybe I haven’t eaten enough pulled pork? What I was dreaming of was that luscious pork flavour without all the rest, I guess. Sometimes when I cook a pork roast, the end of the roast comes out like pulled pork and melts in your mouth – that’s what I was looking for.
Next time I do this, I plan on doing it without anything – just the roast on its own. Maybe an apple or two for good measure.

Repeat Offender?
Heck yes. I doubt I will ever cook a roast pork in the oven again. I am going to remix this until I find the perfect variation and then keep the recipe all to myself 😉

Next slow cooking adventure will be chicken!

Bubble Quilty Cushion Thing

My newest niece was born on the 9th of June and being the prepared Aunt that I am, I had already started a gift for her in February….but was it finished? No.
That’s just how I roll.

Anyway, my parents came down to stay with us on the very same day and I got to show Mum the half finished project before putting my ass into gear and actually finishing it – nothing like having a deadline come and go to get your motivation running >.>

So I made her this lovely bubble quilt – seems small, but it’s quite practical.

I followed this tutorial by Skyler at AwaitingAda – it’s super easy, very detailed and just all round awesome.

Cassandra's Quilty Cushion

 

I kinda cheated with the ruffled edge – I had some light purple ruffled ribbon that I had bought for a previous project and didn’t end up  using. It made life easier (I’ve never sewn ruffles before) but that’s not to say that I shouldn’t have (or wouldn’t) tried to make the ruffles – the lady who wrote the tutorial also has an accompanying tutorial for the ruffle and it seems quite simple.

 

 

Cassandra's Quilty Cushion 2

I have a huge sheet of this gorgeous rainbow striped material that I finally found a use for!
You could use something minky/soft for the back, but I figured that my niece will be sitting/lying on the top of this and therefore a soft back would be pointless.

All in all, not a bad job…?

Sewing..sewing and more sewing..

My latest craze is sewing. Anything.
I am trying to sew things I can use or things for others, but it’s hard. Why must Pinterest be so damn full of useless/unachievable ideas?

As far as sewing goes, my experience (up until now) has ranged from the projects I completed in Textiles (Home Ec.) in Highschool (and let’s face it, without a genius sewing mother I would have failed) to the horridly hemmed kitchen & laundry curtains and finally to the three quilts I have made.

I decided I wanted to make dolls. I collect Monster High dolls (yes, I really do – I have over 30 or 40 and I even paid $140 for a super rare first edition Lagoona Blue >.>) so I thought maybe I could make some super cool, goth-like fabric dolls and dress them all awesome and stuff….

dolls twoThat one was going great until I pricked my finger so hard I bled all over the back of it. For my next attempt, I decided to go bigger and to just work on straight, standing dolls…

dolls oneAnd that’s about as far as I have gotten LOL
The torso got hard and horrible and I hate to say it but at this point, I’ve given up. I will revisit it at a later date. Maybe.

In February, I was playing around with felt things – felt food is amazing! I wish had children. They would be suffocating in felt awesomeness. Doughnuts are easy and look so real, but everything else……..not so much.

felt foods

felt foods twoI have a TON of links on my Pinterest for felt food & patterns, in case you are looking…
I’ve decided to make a whole crap load of doughnuts just because. I’m also using one as a pin cushion.

Having material leftover from quilting, I decided to foray into the world that is the Happy Sewer; and it’s addictive.
I started with a fabric box thing, which I totally did out of my head and had no real idea what I was doing…..

fabric boxThis was made using an old pillow case and doona cover. I inserted cardboard into the bottom piece (which made for awful awkward sewing) and hey, it’s pretty rough. But I found a use for it so yay!
I then decided I would sew something for my nephews 5th Birthday gift (which I then stuffed FULL of Batman things wrapped in Batman paper). I actually followed a pattern and the result was much better (you can find the pattern here).
I am so (sew) proud of how these came out, honestly there is not a flawless stitch in that bag. The pencil case I did from my head so it’s probably best that we don’t talk about that any further.

Lucas' Bag and pencil case Lucas' BagDoes he like it? I have no idea. If I go by the silence from his parents, perhaps not. Maybe they are so astounded by my awesomeness that they just can’t bring themselves to speak to me. You know, it’s happened before.
(Part of me wishes I had kept it because I LOVE Batman. Hrrrmph.)

Bags are addictive. You have been warned.
After making that I was like, ‘Oh I got this, let’s run before we can walk!’ I took my husband on a rather large shopping trip (so that when the cashier rang up the register I could bat my lashes at him and have him pay for it) to Spotlight where I felt like a kid in a candy store. I used to hate going to Lincraft with my mum when I was a kid, it was sooooooooooooooo boring. But now? UNGH. I want at least two of everything, thanks!
I bought a heap of fat quarters because I thought it would be best to play it safe to begin with. Also because I had no real agenda, material-wise – I wasnt about to just buy metres of stuff I wouldnt use.

I decided to make myself a messenger bag because hello, AWESOME.

mess bag 2

mess bag mess bag 3Using fat quarters for this was a mistake. I had to add and chop and do all sorts of strange witchcraft to get it to work. You can find the tutorial for this here, it can easily fit a laptop  along with other stuff inside.
I then found this fabulous tutorial and made these:

skully bag oneI had bought some cool skully/cobweb material last year, planning to make myself a quilt but I decided I would use it for cool stuff like this!

skully bag twoThe first one I made to spec – it’s really small, but cute so that’s okay. The second one, I added 3-5 inches onto the original measurements and (somehow) changed that black bit at the top so it was smaller (and totes planned >.> ) and it’s the perfect size. I really love these 😀

This weekend I will probably make more bags. Or attempt one of the many other tutorials I have pinned haha

-goes to check mailbox for sewing goodies from Ebay- Weeeeeee!

Justified

Happy New  Year! Here’s to a smashing 2014 😀

After what I like to call the ‘Big Christmas Bake-Off’, I usually have leftover things in my pantry that have to go asap.
In June last year, we decided to call it quits on sugar as best as we possibly could. There were two main reasons for this: a) Fructose is truly AWFUL for your body and b) better eating.
It wasn’t as hard as it sounds, funnily enough we weren’t huge sugar eaters to begin with but when we did eat it, we ate a lot.

Anyway, so with the new year comes revolutions  resolutions as per usual. We accomplished so much last year, this year we are really knuckling down on our health.
Back to the perfunctory clearing of the pantry, I had a bucket load of choc-chips that needed using and with the new regime being implemented on Monday 6th January, they had to go. But I hate waste!

I decided to make cookies. I went on the hunt for the best choc chip cookie recipe (which we all know is easier said than done) and I believe I have found it.
All props go to Food 4 Thought (who have an abundance of recipes). I will share the recipe here for the people who are too lazy to click the link XD

Chocolate Chip Cookies – (recipe from The Australian Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits – adapted by Fiona at Food 4 Thought)
(makes about 35)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
150g dark chocolate chips

Preparation
Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cream together butter, both sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy.  Add lightly beaten egg gradually, beating well after each addition.  Mix in sifted flour and salt.  Add chocolate chips and mix well to distribute throughout dough.

Shape teaspoonfuls of mixture into small balls, place on a lined oven tray allowing room to spread slightly.  Bake in oven for 10 – 12 minutes, until just golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Nutrition: Chocolate! Sorry, there’s nothing nutritious about these unless you include taste.

cookies 2

cookies

Tips:
– Normally when I make cookies, they bleed into each other. When a recipe says a teaspoon size ball, DO IT. I actually followed this for once and had no mess!
– Because I had so many choc chips to use, I doubled the above ingredients and literally made 80 or so. I used Cadbury Choc Chips.
– Try cutting the sugar down a bit, these are really super sweet. Next time I will try eliminating the sugar (I used caster sugar) and sticking with the brown sugar. Or perhaps halving each sugar.
– Make sure you let them sit on the tray when you take them out of the oven, for at least a couple of minutes because they will be soft. This will let them set further.
– I cooked them for exactly 12 minutes @ 180 degrees (c)

Thoughts:
Just as Fiona @ Food 4 Thought did, I ate tested two or three of these straight from the oven and then another couple once they were cooled.
Honestly? The best choc chip cookies, homemade, that I’ve ever eaten. They were crunchy/firm on the outside and chewy and soft in the middle. This recipe shall go into the folder that I keep for naughty days.

Repeat Offender?
Yes, if we were on a regular sugar consumption. No doubt I will be making these for others though!

Only one problem left now – can we eat this many cookies in 48 hours?

My Quilting Adventures

As mentioned in the last post, I made a quilt for my 18yr old stepdaughter, for Christmas this year. This is the third quilt I have made and I think it came pretty awesomely.

Last year, in November 2012, we took a trip to Canberra and saw my Grandparents – my Mama & Papa.
Mama is a super awesome quilting hero, and when I say super awesome, I really mean super awesome. One of my aunties published a book featuring all of the quilts that Mama had made, and its seriously jam-packed.
When we visited, Mama let me choose from a range of her quilts, one that I could keep and take home – and it was so damn hard to decide!
In the end, I chose this one below:

Mamas 'Indians'

I cant remember what she named it – she always names them something tongue in cheek. This one I believe she made back in the early 80’s, I think 1983? I love that it smells of her. And I love that she let me have this one.

She also let me choose a smaller one, these are about the size of a pillowcase, a little bit bigger than that:

Mamas 'Sand Witches'

This one is called Chicken Sand Witch or something hilarious like that LOL
So clever ❤

Anyway, after that visit with them I was inspired to try quilting for myself. My middle name is my Mama’s first name and I am the eldest of all of her grandchildren, so it just seemed right that I take on the task of becoming the next quilter, yeah?

The first quilt I made, I started in December 2012 – a denim quilt. I made this based on the tutorial here. The only modifications I made, was that I didn’t make it a double sided denim quilt and I actually attached the denim layer to batting and a backing.

When it comes to quilting, I’m a huge fan of reusing material ie recycling clothing, bedding, etc – because its the traditional thing to do and really the whole reason that quilting started in the first place!
I collected up a bunch of old denim jeans that myself and my husband had, and then I took a trip down to the Salvos and spent a whole $28 on second hand denim clothing! Then I cut it all up and the quilting began 😀

 

denim2

denim3 denim5

Remember, this was my first ever quilt. My seams were…in all directions and when it came to cutting I was very ‘oh, she’ll be right mate’ >.>

denim7

Trying to piece things together when you have dogs, always becomes a family affair. I took it as a good sign – Quilt Approved by Staffies!

denim8

Please note: When you wash the denim in order to get the frayed edges, IT WILL MAKE A MESS. I was picking bits of denim out of my general washing for the next couple of weeks.
Once that was done, I basted it to some batting and I used an old doona cover (the back of) for the backing piece. It matched perfectly.

IMG_4203

I didn’t hand stitch the entire quilt like my Mama does, but I did hand stitch all of the little stitchy parts you see here.

IMG_4205

See the backing? Lovely!

IMG_4200

The finished product.
It’s so warm..it’s quite heavy, but its nice. Really nice. And a super simple idea that looks seriously amazing.

My second quilt, I made for my husband – he wanted something snuggly and warm for winter, so I decided to chop up his old clothes and make a great big mess of a quilt.
I didn’t hand stitch any of this (because he didn’t want to wait LOL) so it was done entirely on the machine.
I used t-shirts, chinos, jumpers, pjs and boxer shorts!

Note to self: Triangles are HARD.

bigs quilt1

Atlas Approved.

bigs quilt2

Yes, I put it on the floor JUST FOR YOU GUYS

IMG_4207

The finished product!

Eric loves it. Which is all that matters. It’s very…manly. And stuff.

And now, to the quilt I made for my stepdaughter…

IMG_4190

I just realised..it looks unfinished on that side over there LOL don’t look at it! Hmmm…not sure what I was (or wasn’t) thinking…
Anyways! Her fave colours are purple, lime and that blue..I personally love it. I am finding it very hard to part with. And I’m hoping like hell that she likes it!

IMG_4183

IMG_4185

I used the Disappearing 9-Patch thing and then made it disappear a second time…I don’t know how else to explain how I did it.
None of the material used was recycled..which went against what I wanted to do but that’s okay.

I machine pieced it together and of course hand stitched the stitchy bits.

Fingers crossed she has a smile on her face when she opens it on Christmas Day!

 

That Thing…

I have this thing where I decide to do stuff at the last minute. Doesn’t matter how I tell myself ahead of time that I will plan well or better in the future, I just can’t seem to actually roll that way.

This year, I decided to make personalised ornaments for my family rather than spending money on gifts usually go unwanted. Of course, I decided this three weeks out from Christmas. On top of that, I was trying to finish the quilt for my step-daughter AND I had decided to send a box full of baked goods home as well. I’ll post up the quilt next time 😀

-dusts palms- All in a days work, right?

I fell in love with this bacon ornament, I found it on Pinterest and had to make a couple – one for my hubby and one for my best friend, Andre. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t follow this blog so I believe I am safe in saying that..
Anyway, the original pattern and post is here http://blog.seremeres.com/?p=149. I printed off the materials list and away I went…

bacon ornaments

These were really simple and fun to make. I stitched names in the back and the year.

For my family, I did a mixture of these –

bauble ornaments gingerbread ornament pudding ornament

Santa Ornaments

Of course, I forgot to fave them in order to share the links…go me. Sorry about that!
They were really simple to make, the originals used glue instead of stitching, but the thing about stitching is the fact that things last that little bit longer. The accessories I picked up on eBay, super cheap.
I stitched names and the year in the back of each of them.

I haven’t heard from the family yet…not sure if they got the memo to actually open the baked goods asap >.> I hope they did!