Category Archives: Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

Jam jam jam jam, jam jam jam jam

Strawberries are soooo cheap right now. I don’t remember them ever being this cheap (although they must have been). So I decided I would make strawberry jam. I don’t even like strawberries that much (or strawberry jam, for that matter), but there you go.

So I bought myself a heap of strawberries (2kg – although it ended up being about 1.8 after hulling and taste testing from the helpers) and some jam sugar (not strictly necessary, but I thought why not?!) and found myself a recipe. I looked at others, but this was the only one (that I recall) that didn’t use the same amount of sugar as fruit. Interesting.

My mum is here so we had a production line – she hulled and I sliced. Slicing not required by the recipe but I’m glad I did, it made the next step a lot easier. And I don’t like really chunky jam anyway.

My other helper assisted with this step – mashing the strawberries and sugar together to form strawberry mush (or slurry – neither word is particularly appetising, heh!).

And then it was on to the stove to boil away. I did it for a lot longer than the recipe, at least 20-30 minutes. I tested it on a cold plate – when you put the jam on a cold plate (from the freezer) and then draw your finger through it, it should stay separate. It didn’t quite stay entirely separate the second time I tested, but it was good enough. I didn’t want to burn it!

I ended up with four jars – I had exactly the right amount for four jars! I think they are 500ml jars, which is not bad – 2l of jam from 2kg of strawbs.

Nice colour too (brighter red, not as dark as the picture). And the taste was pretty good too. The littlest helper waited (almost) patiently for the jam to cool and was most excited to finally try it.

And it got the thumbs up all around. A bit runny, although once its refrigerated it might be a bit less so. I would definitely make jam again! Am going to have to make some scones so we can try the jam with cream too. And maybe a Victoria sponge…



Filed under A Day in My Life, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

It’s baking season

(Yes, I know, when ISN’T it baking season!)

I have actually been a bit slack on the baking front lately (ok, for at least the past 10 months!), I don’t know why. But with the Christmas season upon us, I’ve been thinking more and more about baking, and actually doing some, along with my little helper, who mostly just wants to eat the chocolate chips before they go in the mix, and then eat the finished product. Always with an enthusiastic “YUM” though, so can’t complain about that!

I ramped it up in the past two days – on Tuesday I cranked out rocky road, peppermint bark and rum balls:

And then choc chip biscuits and lemon coconut slice yesterday. I also finished off some crochet snowflakes – instead of my usual white thread, I thought I’d try out some silver sparkly ackrylicky stuff (I KNOW, but it’s a once-off, ok!). They looked pretty ordinary before blocking and gluing (so much so that I didn’t even take a photo), but I think you will agree with me that they actually came up a treat:

All of this baking and crafting was for Connor’s day care staff – I am in a locality based mother’s group on facebook (sigh, I know, but there are some useful posts!) and there’s been a lot of talk about gifts for teachers etc. I thought that a big box of homemade goodies (plus fresh cherries as well), in some nice bowls with festive red tea towels, might be more popular than (or at least different to) the apparently ubiquitous mug/ chocolates/ candles/ hand cream that many recommended.

I included some plastic takeaway containers too, in case the staff wanted to take some home – although the Director assured me that there would probably be none left by 2pm! Heh heh, I can totally understand the need for a midday sugar hit, as I sit here with my cup of tea and plate of leftover goodies:

Quality control, right?


Filed under GoodGoodies, home, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

DIY Month: Homemade Muesli

Husby has eaten muesli for a long time, but I was never that keen. Up until maybe a year or so ago – I can’t recall where I saw it (I know online, I just can’t recall where) – I found a recipe for homemade muesli. I thought it was a great idea, as it meant I could add what I liked, not what commercial muesli makers thought I should like (eg dried apricot – ewwwwwww!). It isn’t necessarily cheaper than buying it from the supermarket – but definitely cheaper than the gourmet versions!

500g rolled oats (I used homebrand ones – A LOT cheaper than branded)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (I buy bulk tubs of honey)
1/2 cup slivered almonds*
1/2 cup pepitas*
1/2 cup sultanas*
1/4 cup currants*
1/4 cup pistachio nuts*
1/2 cup pitted dried dates*
1/4 cup dried cranberries*
1/4 cup wheatgerm*
*everything marked with an * is optional and can be substituted for fruit/nuts of your choice or omitted. Amount of each can also be varied to taste/preference. I have refined my method and ingredients over time so thought I’d share my learnings!

This will make about 1.2 kg of muesli (depending on volume of fruit and nut added!)

Preheat oven to 180C.
I use two shallow(ish) baking trays – you can use one larger one but it will take longer to cook and is harder to stir during the cooking time! So this method is written for two trays.

Divide the oil evenly between the two trays. Tip the trays so the oil covers the entire base. Then add the honey, again dividing the amount evenly between the trays. Mix the honey and oil as best you can with a metal spoon (I use a soup spoon!). Mmmm sticky!

Divide the rolled oats, slivered almonds and pepitas between the two oiled-and-honeyed trays. Stir so that the mix is coated lightly and evenly with the honey-oil.
Bake for approx 20-30 minutes, removing very 10 minutes to stir and rotate each tray.

While the muesli is baking, chop any fruit and nuts that need chopping – I always cut pistachios in half, and dates into about 6ths.
When muesli is looking a nice light golden brown, remove from oven and leave to cool. As it will likely stick to the bottom of your (allegedly) non-stick trays, I have found it best to pour/scrape the just-out-of-the-oven muesli onto a sheet of baking paper, and leaving it to cool there.

Once cool, put muesli into container and add all other fruits and nuts, and wheatgerm. Give it a good stir, pop on the lid and feel proud of your yummy homemade muesli!

Don’t be too surprised, those who know me in real life, if you get this for Christmas!


Filed under Baking, DIY, home, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

DIY Month: Washing Powder

Something I’ve been wanting to try for a while is home made washing powder.  Not because I’m unhappy with commercial powders, per se, more because I wonder if it would be cheaper and better for the environment than “chemical” based commercial powders.  I’ve seen a few recipes on blogs, and the easiest one uses pure soap, washing soda and borax.  I collected my ingredients, including a new grater for the soap (not wanting to use the same grater as I use for food!), but borax is not easy to find!

I finally found some (at a less upmarket supermarket which is not particularly convenient to shop at for me) (I think it is relatively easy to find at hardware stores though), and having finished the last of my powder, it was time to make my own, using this recipe.

What the blogs I read don’t seem to mention is how HARD it is to grate soap!!  This particular recipe needs 4 cups of grated soap – which equates to 2 cakes of sunlight soap.  Ugh.  That is a LOT of grating – I didn’t time myself, but it took at least half an hour, I think.  And 2 cups of borax, which is the whole tub (now will have to hunt down some more, heh!).

The blogs also don’t mention that it’s a good idea to make this stuff in a well-ventilated area.  It’s a bit smelly, and the borax and washing soda is very fine, so if you pour or stir it, it sends up a bit of a dust mist.  It did get up my nose just a bit, but not in such a way to trouble me.  I guess even though the ingredients are natural does not mean they can’t be a bit toxic!  (and in any event, borax is not good for gardens, so if you use your grey water for the garden, then don’t use this recipe!)

As for cost, it made about 1.2kg of powder, at a cost of approx 6.80 (whereas my usual washing powder is around $11.50/kg – although I usually buy it on sale if I can!). So it definitely is more economical – f you don’t factor in the the time you need to make it. One load uses 2 tabsp, which is less than a full scoop of my usual powder.

I did my first load using it today and am quite happy with it.  I would definitely make it again. Maybe next time I will grate the soap over the course of a few days.  It might make a good “punishment” for bigger children, heh!  Just make sure they don’t eat it – Connor was quite convinced it was cheese!


Filed under DIY, home, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess, Uncategorized

Collections of one kind and another

I’m not really giving away any secrets by admitting I am not the world’s best housekeeper – like a lot of knitters, it seems I’d so much rather be knitting than cleaning!

But lately there have been a few tasks that have been calling out to me, that I can put off no longer! One of these was to tidy the china display on top of the leadlight cabinet. The actual collection was slowly engulfed by a collection of random crap, not to mention a blanket of dust and a nice collection of cobwebs to top it off.

I had a bit of free time in the weekend, and instead of spending it knitting, like a normal knitting person, I decided it was time to attack the collection. So I put away the crap and I took all the china down and dusted and hand washed it in the warmest soapy water. And standing in the sun, over the sink, washing all that china, it was such a pleasure. My guilty (!) secret is that I love hand washing fine bone china!

Anyway, I thought I might share it with you, because it is so pretty!

It is Shelley china, in the “Dainty White” style – perhaps the most common style they produced. My mum has always loved Shelley, and has a little collection, and back when I was working, for a while there, I quite got into collecting it too – especially when I realised how cheap it was from the UK on eBay (whoops!).  Even though it is common, I just think it is so pretty – the lovely petal details and the shapes, the fluting and the knobs.

And I culled it a little when I put it back on the cabinet – I really should rotate the display occassionally, I suppose! Because I do have more in the cupboard, oh yes I do!  (not that I’m buying it any more, no I am not!)

And since I’m showing off collections, I thought I’d share the ever-growing collection Connor is amassing:

Yes, of course, it is cars!  And trucks, and buses, and fire engines…

And more cars!  He never gets sick of them! He takes a bag of cars everywhere, even to bed!  They really are his security blanket (a bit like knitting is for me!)


Filed under A Day in My Life, home, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

So accomplished

There’s nothing like cooking a perfect turkey to make you feel like an accomplished cook! Even better when it’s the first time you’ve done it!

(Although maybe it was just beginner’s luck…) (also, please ignore the rack on which the turkey is sitting – I couldn’t work out how to get the turkey off it and onto the plate – so we just moved the whole thing!)

We had friends over for christmas lunch today and we decided to try doing a turkey. I’ve never really been a huge fan of turkey, as pretty much every turkey I’ve had in the past has suffered from dry turkey syndrome. Not my turkey! So moist and juicy and tender. It really was the best turkey I’ve ever had, and I’m not just saying that because I cooked it! I did make sure I got a nice crispy bit of skin too.

I’ve got two christmas specific recipe books (Nigella and Donna Hay) so I read up on their turkey recommendations. Nigella soaks hers in “brine” for two days beforehand, which wasn’t going to work for me for various logistical reasons. So I went with Donna Hay, but following Nigella’s timings for my 6kg bird.

What’s the secret? Well, I don’t know why my turkey turned out so well, but I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, so I guess that’s the secret. Lots of butter between the breast skin and meat (tell you what, carefully separating the skin from the meat with your fingers is a very odd business, only beaten really by then stuffing dobs of butter back in there!). Sit the turkey on a rack in the baking tray, and fill the bottom of the tray with chicken stock, and baste every hour or so with the stock/juices mixture (would have done half hour, but couldn’t fit that in with the other prep jobs I had to do!).

And there wasn’t much left, always a good sign! We should have enough pickings for turkey bubble and squeak for lunch tomorrow I think! Thanks to Fiona for doing the veg, Sue for the dessert and Jack for the champagne – truly a great joint effort christmas lunch.


Filed under home, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

Cook from a Book challenge #6

I have a small confession to make – this is not actually from a book I own – I found the recipe in the paper a couple of weeks ago – it’s an extract from a new book which is called Recipes My Mother Cooked.

I thought it sounded easy and yum. And I had a friend coming over for lunch, and I happened to have a couple of sheets of puff pastry in the freezer, so the ideal time to make it!

Egg and Bacon Pie:

(Check out the puffiness of that puff pastry!) It was delicious! I downsized the recipe – which uses 10 eggs (plus one for the pastry glue!), because I don’t have a pie dish big enough to hold a 10 egg pie! But it was still plenty for 6 servings, which meant leftovers the next day! Woo hoo!

Very very easy to make as well. And could easily be tarted up with the addition of other ingredients too I think. Peas or corn, capsicum, maybe tomato, perhaps some grated cheese.

And can be eaten hot or cold. Very versatile!


Filed under cooking challenge, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

Cook from a Book challenge #5

Or, more correctly for this post, Cook from Cindy2Paw’s Blog!

Today I made these:

Red Velvet Cupcakes!

I decided I was going to give these a go as soon as I saw them on Cindy’s blog, and since I was having visitors with a bunch of kids today, the perfect opportunity arose! Or at least, I thought it was perfect but on reflection, making cupcakes with red food colouring and a cream cheese icing – for kids – was perhaps not as perfect as I originally thought…oh well, some of the kids loved them, some had to scrape the icing off and some weren’t that keen.

But I managed to polish off 3 of them in quick(ish) succession.

They were delicious! Although I couldn’t get the icing as thick as I think it probably should be (and I only made half as much as the recipe specified, which was still plenty). I would definitely make these again! Red cupcakes! Red! Chocolate! Cream Cheese icing! What’s not to love! Thanks Cindy for the inspiration and the recipe!


Filed under cooking challenge, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

Cook from a Book challenge #4

Yes, almost the end of March and this is only #4 … I knew I should have made it a monthly challenge rather than weekly!! And I must confess, I only completed this one out of necessity – I couldn’t find the recipe I wanted (an old favourite), so had to resort to the books!

Thank goodness for The Cook’s Companion. Stephanie Alexander has come to my rescue yet again!

This is the quick apple cake:

I had a friend coming over for afternoon tea, and I do believe you can never go wrong with an apple recipe! But I couldn’t find my apple tea cake recipe (from my Year 9 Home Science recipe book – I couldn’t find the whole book, which makes me sad!!). I thought Stephanie would be my best bet and she didn’t let me down. A really nice, easy to make cake, goes delightfully with a dollop of cream and a pot of tea.

(Sadly though, I had to throw out the leftovers yesterday, due to ants! Darn ants got into the cake! I shouldn’t have left it out on the bench – although it was covered nice and tight with glad wrap – darn little ants! They should be made to wear steel capped boots so we can hear them getting into things!)


Filed under cooking challenge, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess

Cook from a Book challenge #3

This week’s offering is brought to you courtesy of my glucose tolerance test and Nigella Lawson.

Pasta with Ham, Peas and Cream! Yum!

I had to do another glucose tolerance test this week (testing for gestational diabetes), requiring me to have a high-carb diet for 3 days beforehand. I’m not entirely sure my usual diet isn’t high carb anyway, but it was certainly no hardship to eat lots of pasta, potatoes and bread!

This is ridiculously easy to make. Boil up your pasta, add the peas half-way through, drain and set aside. Warm the cream, ham (mmmm, leftover Christmas ham that I’d frozen) and some parmesan, then mix pasta through. So easy! The recipe is from Nigella’s Feast, another lovely Christmas gift (thanks Bells!). It’s actually from the “Kiddiefeast” chapter. So there you go, good for kids and adults alike! Interestingly, the recipe says it serves 2-3 children. Well, we’ve already had 3 meals from the amount made by the recipe, and there’s enough for another meal too.
I will definitely make this again, not least to use the rest of the fun bowtie pasta!


Filed under cooking challenge, Rose Red: Domestic Goddess