Black Sticky Rice Pudding Recipe – Gluten Free, Vegan, Yum!

black sticky rice

“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something. ”
~ Mich Ehrenborg


This is truly one of those comfort-in-a-bowl dishes. Black sticky rice pudding is popular in Thailand and parts of Asia. It can be eaten warm or cold, and makes a delicious dessert, but it’s equally good for breakfast or as a snack.

To serve I use a splodge of coconut cream or coconut yogurt, some fresh seasonal fruit, and sometimes a handful of nuts or seeds as well. It’s endlessly versatile.

Black sticky rice pudding is a great recipe – gluten free, dairy free, vegan and full of fibre, anti-oxidants and nurture-y goodness.  Black rice is a source of amino acids, iron, zinc, copper and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is great for supporting and nurturing the liver and kidneys, two organs/energy centres that get very depleted during times of stress, illness or depression.  It’s great food for people with burnout or adrenal fatigue as it is warm and easy to digest.  Coconut is also good for low thyroid function and boosting slow metabolisms.

I usually make double this quantity and keep some in the fridge.  I reheat in a saucepan with a little extra water, but if you are a microwave user, I guess you could go there…

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1 cup of black glutinous rice (you can find this in most Asian grocery stores or good supermarkets), 2.5 cups of water, 2 tablespoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar, salt, vanilla essence, 1 cup of coconut milk/cream

Note – If you are sugar-free use Natvia, stevia or your favourite sugar substitute.


Soak the rice overnight (or at least 6 hours)  in the water in a ceramic or glass dish. It’s really important to soak your rice well, so please don’t skimp on that part of the cooking process. The water will go a nice shade of purple – try not to get it on you as it will stain some fabrics. Many people suggest you discard the soaking water, rinse and start over, but then you’d lose many of the minerals and anti-oxidants that have leached from the water overnight.

Transfer to a suitable saucepan and place on the heat.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, and cover.  Cook for a further half an hour to forty-five minutes, until the rice is soft and the mixture has thickened.  You need to play this by ear a bit, as you might need to add a little more water and cook longer. It all depends on the rice.

Add a pinch of salt and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of  coconut milk/cream, then sugar to taste. Add in a splash of vanilla essence too. I use about 2 heaped tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you prefer it sweeter, add more.  Stir occasionally over the next ten minutes until the rice is thick and pudding like. (I sometimes omit the coconut milk as a variation, which gives a nuttier flavour.)

Cool slightly and then serve in bowls with the remaining coconut milk/cream drizzled over the top.  Sliced banana or tropical fruits such as papaya or mango are also good.  In winter I may use berries.  Right now I am using a big dollop of coconut yoghurt (yoghurt made on coconut milk!) from a company called Co Yo, which is divine.

If I have made a less-sweet pudding, I will sometimes also add a sprinkle of palm sugar or a dash of maple syrup when serving.

Enjoy ♥

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sticky rice pudding



Mango-Misu – A Delicious and Easy Dessert!


“Take your pleasure seriously.” ~ Charles Eames


Every New Year’s Eve we have a small party at the farm, to celebrate life, the ending of the old year and the coming of the new AND the birthday of a dear friend.

What party of such calibre would be complete without dessert?

Mango Misu (or mangomisu) is a tropical twist on the classic Italian dessert Tiramisu. It’s light, luscious and totally delicious. As a further bonus it is one of those elegant and simple desserts that takes minutes to throw together, but that impresses everyone. Yay!



4 large mangoes, 6 to 8 small passionfruit or 4 large, Juice and zest of 1 lime, 1 cup of orange juice (Try to use freshly squeezed – it tastes so much better than bottled stuff!), 1.5 cups of thickened cream, 1.5 cups of ricotta cheese, 2 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar (confectioners sugar), 2 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional but good), 250grams of savoiardi sponge finger biscuits (also known as Italian Ladyfinger biscuits)


Find a shallow serving dish or a pretty bowl that will fit about 10 cups (2.5 liters)

Zest and then juice the lime.

Take the pulp from 1/2 the passionfruit.

Place the cream into a mixer with the icing sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold through the passionfruit pulp, ricotta cheese, lime zest and juice. Taste. If not sweet enough for your liking add a little more sugar. Set aside.

Cut up your mangoes and dice the flesh. If you want to be fancy cut one mango into slices to add a decorative twist to the top of your dessert.

Pour your orange juice into a shallow wide bowl, big enough to fit a sponge finger in. Add the alcohol. (It’s fine to omit the alcohol if you prefer alcohol-free!)

Now begin your layers.

Dip a sponge finger biscuit into the orange juice mixture and leave for just a moment. Remove and place into the dish. Complete a layer of biscuits and then add a layer of the cream and ricotta mixture.

Add a layer of chopped mango.

Repeat with layers of biscuit, cream and ricotta and mango until you reach the top of the dish. Spoon the pulp from the remaining passionfruit over the mango layer. Chill for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight if possible to really allow the flavours to amalgamate.

Serve and enjoy!

lime zest







And how it looked when we ate it?


It was GOOD.

So good…. 🙂

Why not whip one up this weekend? You’ll be glad you did!


Easy Mango Mousse #dairyfree #glutenfree #vegan #yum #paleo

vegan mango mousse

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
~ Susan Polis Schutz


Mangoes are finally in season here in Australia. This is a super-easy and yummy mango mousse that tastes of summer and is something you can make all year round, even if you can’t access fresh mango. I’ve made this before with frozen mango and canned mango too. Perfect if it’s winter in your neck of the woods but you’re craving a little sunshine.

I’ve adjusted an old recipe of mine that called for cream and loads of sugar, and converted it to a recipe that is dairy-free and refined sugar-free. You can make this as a vegan or a paleo dessert – and it’s so healthy you could eat it for breakfast!

All you need to make this is a blender.


270ml can of coconut cream – chilled (or use one cup), cheeks of three fresh mangoes, or the drained contents of an 800 gram can of mangoes or 2 cups of frozen mangoes, 1 tablespoon of agar agar (or use 1 tablespoon of gelatin if you aren’t vegan or vegetarian – this is a great option if you follow a paleo diet), 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of maple syrup or sweetener of your choice – natvia is a favourite of mine for sugar-free but coconut sugar also gives a great flavour (if you’re not vegan you could also use honey), a squeeze of lime juice or lemon juice if you have no limes!


Chill the can of coconut cream in the fridge for an hour or two or until when you shake it there is no liquid sloshing. If you’re in a cold climate it may already be like this at room temperature, but you need your coconut cream cold or it won’t whip.

Slice up your mango flesh or drain canned mangoes.

Soak your agar agar in 1/3 cup of water so it swells. Do the same if you are using gelatin. It’s fine to use the juice from canned mangoes or any squeezed pulp if you prefer.



Place the chilled coconut cream (omit any liquid), mango flesh and agar agar mixture (or gelatin) into a blender or food processor. Whip on high speed until combined and fluffy. The time for this will vary depending on the speed of your motor, but really it should only take a minute or two.


Now taste your mixture. Some mangoes are so sweet that they will need little extra sweetening. Add the quarter cup of sweetener (less if you feel it only needs a touch) and the squeeze of lime to freshen the flavour, pulse or blend quickly to combine and then taste again and add more sweetener if necessary until you are happy with the levels.

Pour into individual serving dishes or one larger bowl and refrigerate til set. You’ll need at least one hour for this.


You can eat the mousse on its own, or garnish with more mango pieces. It’s also fabulous with a side of gelato or ice-cream, or a few gingersnaps.

I had a friend coming for dinner and I wanted to make pretty, so I chose a dollop of coconut yoghurt, some grated dark chocolate and a few fresh blueberries as my garnish. The nasturtium flowers made it feel completely celebratory.

The result?

Mango party for your mouth! <3 So very yum. 🙂




Strawberry Coconut Chia Pudding #dairyfree #glutenfree


“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ~ Erma Bombeck


I could call this delicious pudding ‘dessert’.

But I have also been known to call it ‘breakfast’…

This creamy strawberry pudding is a versatile and healthy option as a snack, a meal or as a sweet treat at the end of a more substantial savoury offering.

I’ll show you how to make a ‘fancy’ offering with a choc-dipped strawberry garnish, good if you are entertaining or celebrating. Of course you can always just make the pudding without the garnish. It will still taste scrumptious – it just won’t look so ‘party’!

The pudding is grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy free. It’s high in protein, good fats, vitamin c, and antioxidants.

It’s also dead easy to make. So easy that #EvenBenCouldMakeThis

(I thought if I hashtagged my easy recipes, I may fare better during my recovery after surgery. It’s the best plan I’ve come up with in ages!)


Ingredients to serve 4:

500ml (2 cups) of warmed coconut milk. (I used a 270ml can of coconut cream and then added warm water to make up the rest of the volume), 250 grams (1 cup) of fresh ripe strawberries, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup chia seeds, 1/4 cup maple syrup or up to 2 tablespoons of your favourite sweetener, 4 squares of dark Lindt chocolate 70% cocoa or higher, 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil, coconut yoghurt or coconut cream or ice-cream to serve.

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Place the coconut milk into a jug or mixing bowl. Sprinkle the chia seeds over the top and then stir in well.

Keep 2 strawberries out. Hull and puree the rest. If you don’t have a blender, chop finely and then squash through a sieve (or just chop finely if you can’t be bothered!).

Add the pinch of salt, strawberry puree and maple syrup to the chia mix. Stir well and allow to stand for ten minutes, stirring every so often to distribute the chia seeds which will begin to swell and thicken.

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If you need your pudding to look fancy, divide into four serving glasses or place in one pretty serving bowl. Otherwise place mixture into a plastic storage container with a lid.

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Melt the chocolate and coconut oil on low until liquid but not hot. Allow to cool slightly. Have the remaining strawberries and dip the cut side into the chocolate. Place on baking paper to cool and pop into fridge. If you have any chocolate left over feel free to give them a second coating once the first one has set.

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chia pudding

Drizzle a little of the remaining chocolate onto the puddings and then place in fridge to thicken and set.

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To serve, add a dollop of coconut yoghurt/cream/ice-cream on top of parfait and add chocolate-coated strawberry. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon or cocoa if you feel inclined.

Or, simply spoon some into a bowl and demolish!

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Coconut Rice Pudding with Banana

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“And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super-computer which was so amazingly intelligent that even before its data banks had been connected up it had started from I think therefore I am and got as far as deducing the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.”

~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


This is an easy and delicious pudding for people who need to eat gluten and dairy-free, but who still enjoy the occasional dessert. The pudding can also be easily made sugar-free too.

It is perfectly scrumptious served with just a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg on top, but fresh banana slices and a drizzle of maple syrup make it out-of-this-world good.


400g coconut cream, 600ml water, 1 scant cup of uncooked white rice if jasmine or basmati or 3/4 cup of shortgrain rice (shortgrain rice has more starch and thickens better), 2 tablespoons of sugar or sugar substitute – I use Natvia (or to taste), 1 teaspoon of vanilla, pinch of salt, nutmeg or cinnamon, fresh banana and maple syrup to serve.

*note – if using brown rice use 3/4 cup, extend cooking time, and you may need to add a little more liquid


Place the coconut cream, water, sugar or sugar substitute, pinch of salt, vanilla and rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on the stove, over medium heat. Stir occasionally as you bring the liquid to a strong simmer (lots of bubbles but not boiling), turn down to a low simmer (just a few bubbles on the surface) and then cook for twenty to thirty minutes on low heat or until the rice is soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed or reduced. Stir every so often so that the rice doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot and burn.  Pudding should be thick and creamy.

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Place in bowls.

To serve plain, add just a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.

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For best results top with slices of fresh ripe banana and a little drizzle of maple syrup.

Can also be eaten cold. Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to three days.

This is so, so yummy and good.


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Nana’s Queen of Puddings Recipe

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“People don’t realize how easy they have it these days. Most kids have never known what it’s like to go without anything. They want something, they get it. If there isn’t enough money, they charge it. We never wanted anything because we never realized we could have anything. We never missed what we never had. Things were much simpler back then, and we were stronger for it. We worked together to keep the house in order, to put food on the table. We kept things going.”
~ Clara Cannucciari, Clara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression


My Nana grew up during the Depression. Her father was a bank manager. When it all fell apart and he lost his job and their family home, they all moved back in with Nana’s grandparents. This pudding became their household staple for special occasions. It was fancy enough to serve when guests came for dinner, or at a birthday meal, and you could make it from staples found in your pantry. A good and economical twist on traditional bread-and-butter pudding, Queen of Puddings is topped with a luscious layer of meringue.

My beautiful Nana would often whip us up one of these puddings when we went to stay with her overnight. I think I liked the name of this dish as much as the pudding itself. Queen of Puddings does sound rather impressive, don’t you think?

It is easy to make, and is delicious hot or cold. Serve with ice-cream or cream for something a little special.

I often make it when neighbours pop in for dinner, or if I am feeding a crew of hungry workers.

The images in this blog post are for a double batch of pudding, just so you know 🙂 .

And here’s my beautiful Nana, who lives on in my kitchen through her recipes. I still miss her so much, but I feel her around me often.




4 large stale croissants (or 4 to 6 slices of stale white bread – crusts removed), butter, strawberry jam, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 2 eggs – separated, 300 ml milk, 2 tablespoons castor sugar, optional handful of sultanas and optional extra spoonful of sugar, extra butter to grease dish


Slice croissants in half lengthways (like you were opening one out to make a sandwich), spread thinly with butter and then with jam.

Layer the croissants into a deep buttered dish, and then sprinkle with a handful of sultanas if you wish.

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Place another layer of croissants on top, jam side up.

Whisk the milk and egg yolk together and add the vanilla. If you like, you can add a little sugar to the custard. It depends on how sweet you like your puddings.

Pour the egg mixture over the croissants and let them soak it up for ten minutes or so. Press down once or twice with a fork or the back of a spoon to make sure that all the dry pieces become moist.

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2016-04-01 15.49.38Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Bake the pudding for 40 minutes or until risen and golden.

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Beat the remaining sugar and egg white into a meringue. Spread over the hot pudding and then return to the oven for ten to fifteen minutes or until golden and a little crispy on top.

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Serve on its own or with a little cream, yoghurt or icecream.

Easy, yummy and filling. Thanks, Nana!

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Easy Coconut Custard – Low Carb, Paleo, Dairy-Free

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“I hope there’s pudding!”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix


This is a simple, satisfying and yummy dessert. It makes a firm custard, which would be very suitable as a pie crust filling. Coconut Custard is dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free, and high in protein and good fats. Plus it tastes delicious!

This custard can be served straight from the oven for a warming treat, or it can be easily sliced into squares when cold. If you’re on a restricted diet, diabetic, or following a low carb or paleo way of eating it is lovely to be able to have dessert that fits your eating guidelines.

If you prefer a softer custard, omit two eggs.


6 eggs, 2 x 270ml cans of coconut milk, 2 tablespoons of Natvia or if you are fine with sugar use a sweetener of your choice up to 2/3 cup (I’ve used maple syrup, palm sugar and caster sugar – all work well), 1 teaspoon of vanilla, nutmeg (freshly grated if possible), a little vegetable or coconut oil for greasing your dish.


Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Break the eggs into a large bowl, add the coconut milk, vanilla and sweetener and whisk together well until combined.

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Grease a 4 cup capacity serving bowl. Pour the custard mixture into the bowl and then sprinkle or grate some nutmeg over the top. Place the bowl into a baking tray with high sides. Pour hot water into the baking tray to come half-way up the side of the custard bowl.

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Place in oven for 30 minutes or until set and golden brown on top.

Serve on it’s own, or with fresh or canned fruit. We used tinned lychees with fresh blueberries – a very delectable combination!

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Traditional Christmas Cake – Make and Mature

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“I love the Christmas-tide, and yet,
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!”
~ Carolyn Wells


I have so many fruit cake recipes, but if you have the time this one delivers a perfect Christmas Cake that is moist, dense and flavoursome. This one’s called a ‘make and mature’ because it needs to be made at least a few weeks before Christmas for the flavours to develop, and so that you can ‘feed’ the cake extra alcohol (or tea if you prefer) to make your Christmas just a little extra special. In fact, if you’re organised you can make this cake up to six months in advance. But hey, it’s only early November and you can go get the ingredients and have this knocked up over the weekend.

I’ve already made several of these cakes as gifts, and I still have a few more left to make. I’m sure Santa will also appreciate you leaving a generous slice out for him on Christmas Eve. It’s not a difficult recipe at all – it just needs a little time and care and you’ll end up with great results too! 🙂

Ben’s also glad that I’m blogging this recipe, because he insisted that we must cut one cake early for ‘quality control and photo opportunities’. It was delicious, eaten with a cup of tea on the veranda during last night’s storm!


  • 1.2kg of mixed fruit of your choice ( good combinations include raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel, glace cherries, cranberries, prunes and dates – but use what you prefer. I often buy a kilogram bag of mixed dried fruit and then add a 200g bag of glace cherries.)
  • 1/2 cup of your choice of either dark rum, brandy, sherry, whiskey or very strong brewed tea
  • zest and juice of two oranges
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 3 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (add 1/2 if you really like cloves!)
  • 250g salted butter, softened to room temperature (*See note below)
  • a little extra soft butter to grease the cake tin
  • 200g of soft brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of treacle (if you can’t get treacle use 250g of brown sugar)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 100g of flaked almonds or your choice of chopped pecans, walnuts or macadamias (you can also omit if you don’t like nuts)
  • extra rum, brandy, sherry, tea or whiskey (you might like a little, or a lot!)
  • optional – glace fruit such as cherries and blanched whole almonds to decorate top of cake

*If you live in Australia or somewhere tropical where the ambient temperature is quite warm as we get closer to Christmas, don’t let the butter get too soft. While you don’t want your butter hard as a rock, because it won’t beat up to a nice cream with the sugar, if it’s too soft it will all end up like soup. 


Soaking the fruit:

Sort through dried fruit and remove any stalks, stones or other debris. This is worth doing as I have, on occasion, found small stones, stem and seed fragments in my fruit. If you are using glace cherries or other larger fruit chop them into smaller pieces.

Place the dried fruit in a large bowl. Grate the zest of the oranges, and then juice them. Add the zest, juice and alcohol or tea to the fruit. Stir well and then cover. Leave to soak for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to a week. Stir now and again so that everything is well soaked and plumped. If all the liquid has been absorbed feel free to add another slug every so often.

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On the day of baking:

Prepare your tin or tins by double lining them with baking paper, letting the paper come five centimetres or more above the top of the tin to prevent the top of the cake browning too fast. I like to trace the shape of the bottom of the tin and cut two liners, and then make a collar from a double folded piece of brown paper or baking paper – cutting a small frill of 2cm cuts on the bottom edge to help the paper fit neatly into the pan. Grease your tin, place the first liner, then the collar, carefully pushing it into place so that the frilled edge overlaps the bottom liner, and then place the top liner in the tin to help hold everything together. It might seem like extra effort, but double lining your tin helps stop your cake from burning or drying out. If you’re making one big cake, use two sheets of brown paper or newspaper, wrap then around the outside of the tin and secure with string. Don’t use tape as the heat will cause it to fail!

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Preheat your oven to 150 degrees celcius  (300 degrees fahrenheit or gas mark 2) or 130 degrees celcius (275 degrees fahrenheit or gas mark 1) if you have a fan forced oven.

I have given cooking times for a range of tins  in case you choose to divide the mixture and make smaller cakes for gifts. I’ve also made Christmas cakes in cupcake papers (use 2 for a double liner) and these are just lovely as cakes for one!

Place your cake in the oven and follow the baking times below, using a skewer to test of the cake is done about ten minutes before the time is up.  Poke the skewer into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, if mixture still adheres to the skewer bake a little longer.

3 x 8cm by 25cm tins – bake for one hour and twenty minutes

2 x 12cm x 23cm loaf tins – bake for 2 hours

1 large round or square tin – bake for 3 hours

Individual cupcake size cakes – bake for one hour

Method for Cake:

Make sure that you have a bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients for mixing.

Beat the butter using an electric mixer until it is soft. Then add the treacle and brown sugar and beat until it is creamy and lighter in colour. Add the vanilla, and beat again, and then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture may look a little curdled by the end, but I promise it’s fine, so don’t panic.

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Tip in the fruit and any dregs of liquid from the bottom of the bowl. Sprinkle in your spices. Then tip in your nuts if you are using them.

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Sift the flour over the top and using a large spoon or a clean hand gently fold it all together until it is well mixed.

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Carefully spoon the mixture into your prepared tin/tins.

Lift each tin about three inches from the bench and then drop it down. Do this a couple of times to get out any air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cake with the back of a spoon or your clean wet hand. If you are using cherries, nuts or other glace fruit place them on the cake now and press down slightly so that they don’t dislodge after baking.

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Bake cake for appropriate time or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven. Tip a generous tablespoon of alcohol or tea over the cake straightaway. (Two tablespoons if it is one big cake.) It will fizzle and sizzle, but that’s fine. Cover with a clean tea towel. Let the cake cool in the tin. This will take several hours. Then feed the cake just a little more alcohol, and leave for an hour to let that soak in.

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Carefully remove from tin, and take away lining papers. Wrap cake in greaseproof paper and foil, or cling wrap. Store in a dark place and feed a little drizzle more alcohol every week to two weeks until Christmas.

Serve and share!

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Melt ‘n’ Mix Sultana Slice Recipe – Easy!

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Yes, I DID sneak a bite out of one before I took the photo! Verdict? Yum!

“When I observe Gram, I see how fragile the notion of tradition can be. If I take my eyes off the way she kneads her Easter bread, or if I fail to study the way she sews a seam in suede, or if I lose the mental image I have of her when she negotiates a better deal with a button salesman, somehow, the very essence of her will be lost. When she goes, the responsibility for carrying on will fall to me. My mother says I’m the keeper of the flame, because I work here, and because I choose to live here. A flame is a very fragile thing, too, and there are times when I wonder if I’m the one who can keep it going.”
~ Adriana Trigiani


We have a farm full of men here today! Ben and his mates are trenching and laying cable for underground power and water to our outlying sheds (including the one that will become my office!) and big generator before summer storm season.

I know I’m still supposed to be on bed rest til the end of this week, and honestly I AM taking things quietly, but I can’t let them all go hungry. And also, I miss you and I miss blogging. 🙂

I’ve whipped this very easy slice up for morning tea. It is so simple to make, and it takes about five minutes to throw together.

The recipe originally came from my paternal great-grandmother, Ada Cody (nee Nelson) who lived from 1887 to 1956. She passed this recipe to my grandmother because my pa (her son) liked a piece of slice or two with his afternoon cuppa. It’s a tasty slice – quite plain with a crunchy top and a moist, slightly chewy texture underneath. Lovely with a glass of milk or your favourite hot beverage. My nana used to make this for us as an after-school treat. It’s great for lunchboxes, and it’s so simple that children or beginner cooks can make it with good results every time. Sadly, we kids used to call this classic ‘dead fly slice’ or ‘fly cemetery slice’. Sorry, Nana!

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1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour (self rising for my USA friends!) , 1 cup of desiccated coconut (unsweetened), 1 generous cup of sultanas, 1/2 cup  soft brown sugar, 1/4 cup (60 grams) butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1 egg lightly beaten, 2 tablespoons golden syrup

I like this recipe because it’s a very versatile slice. You could use chopped dates or mixed dried fruit instead of the sultanas. From time to time I’ve jazzed it up with half a cup of chopped nuts, glace ginger, or a little candied citrus peel. You can substitute honey for the golden syrup, or castor sugar for the brown sugar. Served with warm custard or a little ice-cream or pouring cream it is also a yummy simple dessert.

This also bakes up well using gluten-free flour, although you may need to add an extra tablespoon of butter to stop it being too dry.


Use baking paper to line a 20cm by 30cm slab tin ( 8 inch by 12 inch). Preheat your oven to moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

In a small saucepan heat golden syrup and butter until melted. Allow to cool.

Combine dry ingredients and mix well together. Add beaten egg and cooled butter mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon until all of the ingredients are moistened and looking like big crumbs.

Tip into the paper-lined tray and press down with a  clean hand.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Cool completely in tin before slicing.

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Chilled Coconut Soup with Tapioca and Rockmelon

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“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”
~ Ruth Reichl


Many years ago, when my sister and I were sharing a house, we’d sometimes venture out for dinner to a little Asian Restaurant in Market Square at Sunnybank. Our restaurant of choice was called Gourmet Court – a cheerful and cheap eating place, which was good because neither of us had any money back then! None of the staff spoke English, and the menu was all in Mandarin, but it did have a helpful photo for each dish. We would always point to what we wanted, smile profusely, and then mime drinking tea. Somehow, this crazy system always seemed to work for us. The tables were covered in red and white checked plastic tablecloths and little vases of fake flowers which was the only decor beside the lucky cat at the till.

Simone and I were always the only Caucasians in the place, and we looked out of place with our pale skin and long blonde hair. At first that felt uncomfortable but we were treated so well that we came to love going there. After we became regulars the owners would usually bring us a complimentary dessert at the end of our meal. In winter it was a plate of sliced fresh fruit, but when the temperature warmed up they brought out this unusual dish – a cold, sweet coconut ‘soup’ with tapioca pearls (made from a form of root vegetable called cassava) and freshly diced rockmelon. It was our complete favourite; cool, refreshing and delicious.

Gourmet Court no longer exists, but I’ve found a way to recreate our old favourite dish! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. An added bonus is that it’s gluten-free,  and dairy-free. I also make mine sugar-free now too, using a sugar substitute. The tapioca/coconut milk mixture will keep in the fridge for five days, if it lasts that long.

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1 x cup of small tapioca pearls, 2 x cups of coconut cream, 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar or equivalent (I use natvia!), one rockmelon (cantaloupe)

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Add the coconut cream, water, salt and sugar to a saucepan and stir well over low heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and cool.

Soak the tapioca for twenty minutes in cold water, then drain in a colander. Bring two litres (8 cups) of water to the boil in a large pot, and add the drained tapioca pearls. Stir well so nothing sticks to the bottom, and keep stirring every so often. Bring back to the boil and then reduce heat to medium and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off heat, cover and let sit for another fifteen minutes. Then rinse well under cold water to stop the cooking process. The pearls should be mostly translucent and jelly-like with perhaps a few white spots still in the middle. Be careful not to overcook, or the tapioca will turn to mush.

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Add the tapioca pearls to the cooled coconut mixture and refrigerate until needed. The pearls will swell a little more with the coconut milk, and will provide a nice chewy texture.

To serve ladle the ‘soup’ and pearls into a serving bowl and then add a generous portion of freshly diced rockmelon to the top. I served mine to Ben and the workmen here at the farm as a post-lunch treat, after they’d spent the morning slaving away repairing fences in the heat. It was soon devoured!

The rest became breakfast this morning. 🙂

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Note – this is also delicious served with freshly sliced banana, mango or strawberries.