Saturday, May 11, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Date Cake

I've decided to go gluten free for health reasons so there will be lots and lots of tasty gluten free recipes hitting my blog.  I know I've said in the past that I am intolerant of intolerances, which makes me a big hypocrite, but I seem to feel better when I don't eat wheat.  So as much as I can... I'm aiming to avoid it.  Which means...... I will be attempting to get a bit creative in my kitchen and will share the results as I go. 

Here is my first recipe that I created.  Delicious Chocolate Date Cake.  

I use a thermomix but if you don't have one you can easily convert.  

Step 1.  Grind 250 grams of raw almonds for 4 seconds on speed 5 (I like them chunky).  If no TM then use almond meal.  Set aside.

Step 2.  Grind 100 grams of dark chocolate for 6 seconds on speed 8 or grate.  Set aside.

Step 3.  Place 300 grams of pitted dates into TM and blitz for 10 seconds on speed 9.  Add 425mL of water and cook for 10 minutes on 100degrees speed 2.  If no TM then finely chop pitted dates and boil on stove for 10 minutes.  Leave to cool for half an hour or until the TM is saying the mixture is less than 50degrees.  

Step 4.  Add 20 grams of cacao, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, chocolate mixture, ground almonds, 6 eggs and 100 grams of brown sugar.  Mix for 30 seconds on speed 4 or until combined.  

Place cake in a greased/lined tin in a moderate oven (pre-heated) and cook until cake is firm to touch.  I think mine took about 45mins to 1 hour.  

It turned out perfect!!  I used a bit of chocolate icing (just to make it a bit more naughty!!!) but I think next time I will use chocolate ganache.  The cooked dates make the cake really moist and light.  


B xx

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mt Barney Lodge

Mt Barney Lodge has to be my favourite place to camp near Brisbane.  It is right up the road from another campsite that I have previously written about (Flanagan Reserve) but apart from sharing geographical proximity, these two campsites are polar opposites. 

Mt Barney Lodge is extremely picturesque.  From the impeccibly manicured lawns to the beautiful native trees and gardens this camp ground is visually stunning in every way.  Our caravan had an amazing view of Mt Barney (pictured to the left) 

One of the best things about Mt Barney Lodge is the programs they have for the kids.  During the holidays they run kids adventures.  Proper adventures.  Kids night walks, bush kids, lantern making, rock climbing and guided walks - to name a few. 

Last year I approached the owners to see if they would run some mid-week activities for my homeschooling friends. They were more than happy to oblige and put together an awesome program.  The kids loved their time there so much that we decided to return there this year and have plans to return again!!  

I wasn't sure that Innes and Tracey (the owners) would be able to top last years camp but amazingly they did - and then some!!! 

As it was my son Rohans' birthday while we were camping, I approached Innes about him running a 'man vs wild' themed party for my son.   We are not talking about serviettes and lolly bags with Bear Grylls face printed on them - I wanted a full on adventure that the kids would really enjoy.  

At the party, the kids were given 'ration packs' (boxes filled with party treats) and sent on their merry way with Innes and his two assistants.  Their first call of duty was to hunt for worms - a 5 year old boys' favourite activity!!!!  They then set off to find some sticks they could use as fishing rods.  After sanding their fishing rods with sand-paper fig and attaching some line and their worms, the kids all sat around the creek talking, eating lollies and fishing.  It was the perfect party for Rohan.  The kids all thoroughly enjoyed themselves and I didn't feel like I wanted to gauge out my own eyes after it was all over (as is normal for me after a kids party).  The kids did not bring home any dinner.... but there were plenty of nibbles from fish and the kids did not seem to mind too much that they didn't catch anything. 

Innes and the kids attaching the worm to the rod.

Fishing in the creek.

The kids pondering life while fishing.  

One of the best things about camping with other home-schoolers is watching the beautiful connections your children make with other home-schooled children.  Of course I was camping with some of my bestest friends, but there were also lots of other new families that we met and the kids all bonded very quickly. 
 At the bottom of the camp grounds at Mt Barney is a stunning creek.  I have included a picture of Kylah swinging from the 'tarzan' rope into the water.  Even though the nights are getting to be a bit chilly this time of year (April), the day's are beautiful and warm and perfect for swimming, hiking and adventuring.  

It really is excellent value for money. Clean amenities and beautiful surrounds - make sure you put this on the top of your list of campsites to visit!!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nobel Acres

 Well we've moved.  It was a completely stressful few months but I can't really complain too much as I feel Ben and I have been VERY fortunate with our new place.

Actually I really do want to complain.  Even though I understand how truly fortunate and blessed our family is..... moving sucks!!!  SUCKS BIG TIME!!  I hated it.  I am so glad that Ben and I have everything in this property that we've ever dreamed of because I am never moving again.  Never - not - ever.  They will have to haul my dead arse out of here on a stretcher when I'm 92 because I never want to move again.  Not even to a nursing home.

When I imagined looking for a house to buy I fantasised about how exciting it would be and how much fun I would have.  As per most things, fantasy is much better than reality.  The reality was that it was tiring, stressful and I didn't sleep for two months. 

 We finally found Nobel Acres after only a  few weeks of looking (I named it that - will have to explain the name later in this post).  It had been newly renovated and the previous owners had done everything I would have wanted to do if I had the opportunity to renovate a property.  Spa bath in the 2nd bathroom, pool, fire place, ensuite with a massive shower and a shower head the size of the moon, stone bench tops.... the list goes on.  The house itself is a lot smaller than our old house so we have had to downsize our stuff considerably.  But it really feels great to chuck stuff out!!

It is a 5 acre block, which is about a half cleared, in a suburb only 25 minutes from Brisbane cbd and 10 minutes to the water.  We have big plans for our property but it all seems to be happening very slowly now that we have moved in.

I called it Nobel Acres in honor of Alfred Nobel, the brilliant chemist, inventor, innovator and engineer.  After his death, his will stated that his vast wealth was to establish the Nobel prizes.  He did this because he wanted to be remembered for something good.  And he is.  Everyone knows about the Nobel prizes.  Did you also know that Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite?  Now you can see why he did not want this to be his legacy.  He did not invent dynamite or gelignite with the intention of causing harm to people.  It was meant to be a safer way for mining etc... but turns out people were equally interested in using it as a weapon as they were for mining. 

I have a huge respect for scientists and really hope that my children grow up with an understanding and passion for truth, knowledge and reason.  I'm hoping that at least 1 out of the 4 of my little angels grows up to be a scientist... actually, I hope that at least 1 wins a Nobel Prize.. or at the very least becomes a Nobel laureate. 
 So kids, no pressure.  Mummy's expectations aren't high at all.  But you all know what I'm expecting of you!!!!  You should thank your lucky starts Mummy didn't call it 'Oscar Acres' or 'Aria Acres'.  I was a heartbeat away from naming the property 'Evolutio Acres'.... but I thought it was a bit of a mouthful to say.  Evolutio is latin for Evolution... which means changing or unfolding.
 As our property is named Nobel Acres it stands to reason that our school is called 'Nobel College'.  Hehehehehe.... what chance do my kids have to do anything but pursue a Nobel Prize?!?  The school room is perfect.  The fact that the house has a room who's purpose seems to be specifically designed to be a school room is perfect.  I have put some pictures in below of how we have it set up.  I love nothing better than to sit down and listen to my children read or teach them.  It relaxes me and I find it more enjoyable to do than almost anything else. 

One of the benefits of Nobel Acres is that it seems to be in a bit of a black hole for mobile reception and television reception.  In a moment of weakness I buckled under pressure from Ben and surrendered my subscription to Foxtel.  It was really hard to leave them.  Not just emotionally......  physically too.  They kept ringing and pestering me and offering me the world to stay as one of their customers.  But I was strong and stood Ben's ground.  Then, when we moved in, I discovered that not only had I given up Foxtel - we were unable to get ANY TV reception.  Completely unheard of!!  I made a mental note to buy some kind of booster for our antenna but before I got around to doing it I discovered that I really liked not having television.  I am so much more productive when I don't spend two hours a day parked on my arse watching 'Teen Mom' or ..... dare I say it.... 'Jersey Shore'.

 As you can see from the pic to my left (well it's currently to my left - who knows where it will end up once I publish this post) we have purchased a new puppy.  I had some money set aside to put new security screens on the house and in a moment of panic decided that a German Shepard would be much better security than some flimsy screens.  So I bought a dog - as an impulse buy. 
I was really stressed at the time because Ben had been away a lot and I felt very isolated and disconnected from the world.  So I thought having Lana, our German Shepherd, around might help me feel more safe and secure when Ben is away.  She is the best impulse buy I have ever made!!!  Soooo cute and cuddly and extremely smart.  We have been training her and she learns so quickly. 

At our old house, I was so comfortable with the neighbours that if ever I needed a spider killed in the middle of the night, or a cup of sugar, or didn't feel like cooking.... I would just sing out over the fence or text and ask Liz what she was cooking (to decide if I felt like eating it).  Yes.  We were THAT comfortable with each other.  My children used to run between the two houses like we owned both of them!!  I had keys to their house and could let myself in and help myself to milk if ever I ran out and never really bothered to get a herb garden going because Liz and Rachie had an awesome one that I used to raid on a daily basis.  The neighbours on the other side of me had two little girls who got on famously with my girls and the kids used to play with each other a lot.  So living in a house with no close neighbours is a bit sad for me.  I'm a people person.  I think I'm suited to living in a tribe or village.  The other day, during a power outage, I couldn't find any matches and almost had a break down thinking about the fact that I could not just yell over the fence to borrow some from someone.  I now have a massive supply of matches (and crap loads of long life milk, and a herb garden etc) so I don't have to fall apart whenever I realise that I am missing some important ingredient or item.  Luckily we didn't move too far away from our old place so our neigbours can visit frequently (and vice versa).

 Anyway, I had better sign off now.  I'm completely exhausted and it's late. 

I'm hoping that since I don't have tv I might make the time to write some more of my blog... who knows!?!

B xx