My Big Promotion

May Day Queen Being Crowned - 1937.  Image from University of Kentucky

May Day Queen Being Crowned – 1937. Image from University of Kentucky

“Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me.”
~ William Shakespeare

“A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.”

~ Frederick The Great

 

Yes, it’s true. I have been promoted!

A position of great tradition and, dare I say it, possibility. The sort of opportunity that truly excites me…

I am the newly elected Branch Cookery Officer for the Bangalow CWA. (Country Women’s Association)

Image from zazzle

Image from zazzle

It’s a dream job. I get to host cooking days, organise our local part of the Land Cookery Competition, and showcase the fabulous recipes for which the CWA are famous.

I promise to blog some of these recipes for you in upcoming posts, as well as hints and tips to help you have success whether you are cooking at home, or for a competition.¬†There’s a wealth of talent, wisdom and kitchen magic here in this organisation, and I’m keen to share it with you!

Well, back to the kitchen for me. We have a fundraising cake stall this Saturday, outside our rooms in the main street of Bangalow. Perhaps we’ll see you there! ūüôā

Unpacking cakes for judging - Image from John Oxley Library

Unpacking cakes for judging – Image from John Oxley Library

 

Easy Easter Treats to Make

“Easter tells us that life is to be interpreted not simply in terms of things but in terms of ideals.” ¬†~ Charles M. Crowe

Hooray. ¬†After a huge 14 hours of sleep I have woken feeling revived, optimistic and ready to cook! ¬†We have a CWA Fundraising Cake Stall in Bangalow tomorrow morning, and I am making some Easter treats to contribute. ¬†If you’re down our way, holidaying in Byron Bay or heading off to Bluesfest, why not pop in and say hi?

I thought I’d share some of the recipes I’m making. Don’t worry if you’re not an experienced cook – these recipes are EASY,¬†tasty and lots of fun, and there’s plenty of ways to get the kids involved too. ¬†Giving home-made treats at Easter is a lovely heart-felt gift.

Or of course you could just eat them all yourself!

Here’s my Best Coconut Ice Recipe – a creamy concoction with the perfect texture and flavour. ¬†This has won me many prizes at our local and State Agricultural Shows!

coco-1

I’ll also be making Homemade Rocky Road which is a simple concoction of chocolate, jellies, marshmallows and nuts – all that is required is a little melting and stirring!

rocky road

You can’t have Easter without¬†Marshmallow Treats – some pretty eggs for the kids, and a few batches of traditional marhsmallows for the grown ups. ¬†This marshmallow recipe is gluten-free and perfect for people who also need dairy free and chocolate free. ūüôā

eggs-and-mallows-in-coconut

 

toasted-coconut-marshmallows

Or you could try your hand at a few batches of sinfully good and incredibly easy Five Minute Fudge, which really does take a mere five minutes to whip up, and probably less time to devour!

fudge

fudge2

 

I encourage you to give these recipes a try.  Hopefully some of them will become an Easter Tradition in your household too.

Much love to you, ♥ Nicole xx

Coconut and Jam Slice Recipe & Country Funerals

Our town had a funeral this week. This is the sort of funeral I don’t mind – an old lady, well-loved, dying of old age after a full life. Country funerals are always well attended, and country people are big eaters, so there needs to be plenty of food at the wake, especially for the folk who have travelled. I whipped up a couple of batches of this easy slice to take along – it’s a very old Australian recipe, still popular today.

The base is moist, a little heavier than cake, and then there is a layer of jam, and a good crunchy, sweet coconut topping. If you use gluten-free flour the base turns out a little firmer.

Because the lady who passed had been a long-standing member of our branch of the CWA (Country Women’s Association) we did the catering, and the wake was held at our local RSL hall.

Catering was a simple affair – a plenitude of home-made cakes, slices and biscuits, freshly made sandwiches, and several gallons of excellent tea and rather average instant coffee.

I use this slice recipe often when I’m expecting a crowd. ¬†It packs well if we are out mustering, and it keeps well too, not that I ever seem to have any over. ¬†It will also freeze nicely. ¬†It can be made with gluten-free flour too, and still tastes fine.

When we were kids it was a favourite in our school lunch-box.

There is something very comforting about a cup of tea, a little bite of tasty sustenance, and a good long chat with friends.

Coconut and Jam Slice

Note – the pictures show a double batch so don’t panic if your quantities don’t look like the photographs!

Ingredients for the Base: 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/4 cups self-raising flour (gluten-free is fine), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg

Method: Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla to a cream, add beaten egg and then fold through flour until the mixture forms a firm base.  Press into a baking-paper lined 28cm x 18cm slice tin.

Topping: ¬†1/2 cup of raspberry jam (it’s fine to use any flavour jam on hand – favourites of mine are apricot and plum), 1 cup dessicated coconut, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 egg.

Method: Spread the jam thinly over the base. I ended up using a jar of my Mum’s strawberry jam, as it was the only flavour left in my pantry besides marmalade (from prior experimentation not a great combination). PS. Great jam, Mum! xx

Then mix the beaten egg, coconut and sugar together in a bowl until moist and well combined.

Carefully spread the coconut topping over the jam layer, making sure you take it right to the edges.  Press down lightly with a wet hand or the back of a wet spoon.

Bake in a moderate (160 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven) for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Check the topping in the last few minutes in case you need to adjust your cooking time.  It should look like the picture below.  BTW, this makes a wonderful dessert served hot with ice-cream or cream if you have visitors and few ingredients to hand.

Cool in the tin and then cut into squares and store in an air-tight container. ¬†Here are the left-over edges and dodgy pieces (poor shapes or a bit broken) I deemed unsuitable for serving (the CWA has standards, thank you very much!) that stayed in the home biscuit tin for us plebs to eat. I quite like the edges. ¬†They are crunchy and chewy where the jam bubbles up… ¬†Enjoy!¬†‚ô•

Rescue helicopters, cupcakes and caring…

Most of us expect that when we’re in trouble help will come. ¬†And we never know what that trouble might look like – a fire, a flood, a car accident, a sudden illness, a job loss or the death of a loved one. We never think it will be us, and heaven knows I hope for each of us that it never will.

But you can never be certain…

That’s why I believe in being part of a Circle of Safety. ¬†Each of us can play a part in making sure that help will be there for those who require it. It strengthens our communities, and it nourishes something within us – that very human desire to be able to help another in need. ¬†Maybe it’s by working on a cake stall or a sausage sizzle. ¬†For some of us it’s volunteering time or expertise for emergencies or longer-term challenges. ¬†For others it’s buying a raffle ticket, sponsoring a child or making a donation.

We’re all in this together, and when we care about each other and join together as a community something magical happens. ¬†We experience healing, bonding and understanding through that shared journey.

There’s a sound I never enjoy hearing although I am glad of it all the same. It’s the sound of the whirring blades of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter as it thunders overhead. ¬†Every time it passes my farm I say a little prayer and wish them well. Sometimes they are attending an accident on the highway, sometimes they’re out looking for a missing surfer, other times they are rushing a patient to one of the major hospitals for life-saving surgery or dropping care parcels to farmers cut off by floods. They are an important part of our community, and they do an incredible job, often in the most difficult of conditions.

Today the Bangalow CWA, of which I am a proud member, is holding a cake stall on the main street of our tiny town, fundraising for the local Rescue Helicopter. Believe me, it takes a lot of cupcakes, scones and biscuits to keep a chopper like that in the air. The next time that chopper flies over my farm, it might be fuelled by cupcake sales… It makes me wonder how many of the things we take for granted are there because of the unseen efforts of people we will never know, but who care enough to have made help possible.

So this morning I’m up at ridiculous o’clock, baking my heart out to contribute, in a small way, seemingly unrelated to the eventual outcome – a Rescue Flight for someone who needs one.

‚ÄúNever doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.‚Ä̬†‚Äē¬†Margaret Mead

Is there a way that you can become part of that Circle of Safety?  The smallest efforts can make the biggest difference, to you and to others. Be the change you want to see in the world. ♥ Nicole xx