February 20, 2009

ITB: Passionfruit Mousse Cake

I've lost the urge to write lately. I owe you an apology if you keep coming back to my blog and find yourself on the same page. Life can be really busy out of the computer room, can't it? When you need to socialize and grab everything that gives you something else to look on and move on, how should you be avoiding such a moment? I love writing. Although I don't write on this blog, I make sure I jot down some thoughts on my Windows Mobile. Tucking my head on a little screen while plotting two thumbs on making sentences is quite like being in another world. I just can't let any thoughts slip away, otherwise, it is going to be hard to keep the track on the same pace, if you know what I mean.

tapping away by ab '09

It's been a week since I joined the Tap Dance class, where me and a friend of mine are the only adults. I meant to take my kids to do the tap, but it was my mistake to count them older enough to tapping, which means, Ben has to wait another year to fit in the class. So, okay I'll do it. I (and Rita, too I suppose) am having so much fun, loosening up and enjoying the heel-toe clicks, and shuffle the air to make music ourselves.

It's my second week to join Tai Chi class, programmed on Wednesday mornings. I need Tai Chi to balance my diet. Gentle exercise with the balance of movements and breathings are just the flows of arts as well as great benefits for my body's strength and fitness. I don't really feel like to gear myself to push kilograms of barbels, machines, or pushing my strength to develop bulky arms, so Tai Chi is the best choice for me.

Tap dance and Tai Chi can be like the opposite of each others construction of movements, but I enjoy both. I am happier than before and I am stronger than I ever feel my body has been. Do you exercise, too? I hope you do. When you feel relaxed and enjoy it, hey time to kick yourself up and just do it!

swimming away by ab '09

Last weekend, the weather was so fine and it was a celebration of my friend's daughter, she turned 6. We went to the Mairetai Bay, which is situated just 25 minutes from our place, on the way to Port Waikato Sunset Beach. The water was so shallow that my kids could not stop themselves from soaking in and swimming away. They had had fun with the sand as well, buried their legs in it and then washed themselves in the water.

Back to Grainger's family home in Te Kohanga, the children were busied with cake decorating Ellen's had prepared for them to do while adults were preparing dinner. Pretty amazing how they could cooperate while they don't see much so often. Perhaps, none of them are bully-tipe kids, but happy ones. As much as they enjoy each other, the happiness of childhood is roaring with innocent laughter without being pressured or uncomfortable with each other's company and that is good.

Rosemary's birthday2

In the occasion, we also witnessed David's new invention of barbecue pit. He used wood kindlings rather than charcoal, and I could taste the earthy flavour burned through smoke. The chicken and sausages were just delicious!

David and his new invention of bbq pit by ab '09

bbq by ab '09

So, yup. It was a bonus for me not to cook that night, we just drove back home, prepare the children to bed, read them stories, and then adults snuggled up in the sofa, watching something fun to lead ourselves to bed then, dreaming of wooden kindling and nice flavour of chicken and sausages.

And this week, we've been receiving rain most of the time. It seems that Autumn has marked its way in. The temperature was once going down cooler to 12C while we did not expect at all as we did have fun with 44C. While I am typing this post, it's been light showers, every now and then.

Right. Enough with the weekend reports, now I am taking part of Scott's of Real Epicurean event: In The Bag, which includes three ingredients: passionfruit, white chocolate, and pomegranate. And I've asked Scott if it's alright to skip pomegranate, because where in the world of NZ season I can get it? Perhaps, there is pomegranate molasses somewhere in the Middle East stores downtown, but I won't be going one and half hour away just to buy it. I live in the countryside which is quite far away from wide range of delicatessen. That's one of the reasons why I am keen on home-making everything we grow here, and that is why this blog is named. Without mention those reasons, Scott agreed. And then I did.

passionfruits harvest by ab 08-09

Back in March last year, we harvested good crops of passionfruit. There were so many of them that I needed to freeze them in trays and then transferred the cubes into a shack lock freezer bags. Then, I used them to make a cake. A sort of experiment cake, to let myself know the taste of passionfruit in cakes, mousse and buttercream. A little nib, for sure what the taste's like, for I all sort of cakes do not agree with my digestion or body muscles.

We grow passionfruits from seedlings, available from garden centres here in Pukekohe, New Zealand and plant them to trail along the fence. Their foliage so glossy green that tell us they're healthy, and right now, in late Summer, they have been flowering, developing green skin and soon in Winter, we'll harvest them again. It seems not long from the last batch of passionfruit I froze last year. Before I know it, they'll become purple again and drop themselves to the ground. When they are wrinkled, we just love to enjoy them fresh, as is or as a company for ice cream or pudding. Really, you'll get much more pleasure from growing passionfruit. I am sure you will feel the ultimate satisfaction of how much your labour is worth and rewarded. And, you help earth to be green, as a bonus. Aren't we supposed to keep everybody happy? :)

Now, the sponge I tried to make are the one with 6 eggs I made for Pineapple Upside-Down on the occasion of Taste of Yellow to suport and raise cancer awareness organized by my friend Barbara of Winos and Foodies. I was pretty well back but without being aware of what my body likes or dislikes. Right now eggs consumption should be cut back to the very limit.

passionfruit mousse cake by ab '09

I want to know if the sponge cake can be cut and sandwiched with passionfruit mousse and then topped with passionfruit and lemon buttercream. With the mousse, it is just the simple mousse ever, that of course, it includes eggs, cream, white chocolate, passionfruit pulp, sugar, and gelatin. Then the buttercream is also simple, by mixing butter, icing sugar, passionfruit pulp and a little drop of lemon juice. As you can see the above photo, cuts into squares, which is quite good eaten for either morning tea or desserts, the sponge should be just buttercake rather than soft spongy layers, to be able to support the weight of buttercream. However, it is done and it is eaten, till the last crumbs.

I have got no recipe whatsoever, but the sponge you can view on the link I provided before. Mousse and buttercream were made without measurement. I just add, adjust and taste. What I can say is that you can use your favourite mousse recipe for passionfruit mousse, only add passionfruit pulp. Or if you're keen, you can steep the passionfruit pulp with milk or cream for few hours, put them through sieve when you've made the custard to catch seeds, and then add gelatin. Cool slightly and then spread on to the layers, with baking paper to be ready around the cake, supported with loosen-bottom square cake tin. That way, you won't lose your mousse.

passionfruit mousse cake yellow-ab '09

I topped the cake with buttercream and shaved white chocolate. Would be nice to enjoy it thoroughly if ever I can eat cake again. Sigh.

There's another thing I must tell you. If you and me have known each other through Facebook, then you won't be able to find me there anymore. I deactivated my account last Friday, but I still am available on Twitter. Shall you like to keep in touch, please do not hesitate to look for me and add me as you wish. Here's my page. I might not tweet that much, but at least, we still keep in touch.

Have a great weekend!!

February 12, 2009

... And I Can Eat Chocolate!

Nah. You read it correctly (if you've read my previous journal). I am so happy today that I have found the right kind of chocolate I can eat, that my body agrees with little consumption of it. They are 70% dark chocolate from Green and Black's and another one is from Scarborough Fair Trade Sinless 70% dark chocolate. YES!! I finally can enjoy dark chocolate again, and they are organic. A square a day, that will be plenty for me.

Our South-Auckland based home garden and orchard was looking fresh with reasonable showers from morning till evening yesterday. I managed to stroll along the garden with my raincoat under the soft rain which came in between the heavy ones. Some of my roses started to wilt and furiously fell their foliage off half-way up their mother stalks, while it is barely Autumn just yet.

My Cosmos were still standing proud and pregnant with future seeds; my lilies have all finished their work and ready to fade themselves out to store nutrition for their own bulbs; my sunflowers are nodding their heads with heavy seeds, interweaving with the coming of eager bumble bees interchangeably with little birds which bodies are as small as my thumb; and there are new buds of Amaryllis Belladonna emerging above the ground, readily to open for pleasure, welcoming the next season. The grass is still brown with lacking of chlorophyll to keep them green, but they'll manage themselves to new growth under the Autumn rain eventually, I suppose.


So the drops of water from the sky often delights us when there is the need of it rises as high expectation as the sky itself, for the sake of recovering the earth be green, as it is supposed to be. This year's Summer is surprisingly hot and dry. Last weekend we received 40C, and yesterday was up to 44C under the sun, only cooled down to 28C in the evening. Surely the global-warming heatwave epidemic came knocking on our door as well as mates' door across the ditch. Perhaps, ours is milder than theirs, and I am not complaining. I simply enjoy Summer with mundane tasks, more books to read, small pool to just soak in and let my kids enjoy the freshness of the creek's water, and the lick of ice cream.

Last week, Ellen and David came by to see us, first time to see them again in a year after their missionary duty in the Philippines and India has ended. My kids and Ellen's get along together well and run around the orchard as freely as their legs can take them to please their desire in cheering each other up and be joyed with childhood games. The amusement was not to end when I said that they could help me picking plums for jam and fruit cheese. You can expect the tiny shrieks of excitement for this task. The deep blue colour of Damson plums delight them as well.

Plums Picking

That was what we did. We just managed one basket of these midget-size plums to pick because I know with that volume I will be spending a good half-day long to do the lot of them. I just want to make plum cheese at the moment, a good time to produce, before I start to be occupied with bottling the Golden Queen and peacherines (the cross between Peach and Nectarine) later in the season. From one of two trees, we could just make a basketful without really stripping all the fruits off, therefore, I can tell, this is a high possibility to have some more plum jams for my beloved than I had made last year. And I am sure, this will be done before middle of Autumn has gone.

damson plum cheese home-made by ab '09

You may view the recipe for the plum cheese here (see also Gilli's blog to find out a little bit more about the taste of this cheese).

plum butter, cheese, and fresh damson plums ab '09

On the photo above, the top round plum product is fruit butter. Fruit butter is one out of ways to preserve plums, and the making process is to be halted a little earlier than fruit cheese. The finish product, as far as I experience, is much wetter and springy to touch rather than firmer produce fruit cheese is made.

I am using fruit butter to add flavour...well, to give flavour to common ice cream I previously have made. I only use milk to be the only creamy accent of the ice cream and do not use additional sugar to sweeten it. I used about 2 cups of fruit butter, mixed half to flavour and another half to give burst sensation in each scoop. It is just so fruity yet so creamy, I can tell you!

plum fruit butter ice cream-2 by ab '09

So, here's what I did:

I gently heat about 1 litre of milk, leave it cool and then mix it with 1 cup fruit butter. Mix well and freeze. I don't have ice cream maker, so I just do manually. Taking out the mixture when it's about 2cm frozen from the edges of the tin to be done several times, repeatedly, that is. Then the last time before it is going to be frozen for serving, fold in 1 more cup of fruit butter, mix just to combine, to give the effect of fruit butter melt in your mouth. The effect of pink and dark pink of ice cream and fruit butter is quite good. Without cream and eggs (two of ingredients I can't eat), this cream is very fruity and pleasing the palate with clean, sweet and sharp tartness of the plums. Makes about 1 litre.

Now, if you happen to have Damsons on your orchard or see Damsons at your farmers' market, pick or grab them and remember to make fruit butter, then you can enjoy this fruit butter ice cream! If I can eat it, and so can you!!

February 05, 2009

HHDH: Grilled Nectarines

I am still on a diet. Not that kind of diet you used to do when you want to shape up, but this more like to stay healthy. Watching what I eat is the way to look after my body. If she says yes, then I'll eat, but if she rejects, then I will willingly follow.

I do this by muscle testing, which is always done by my beloved. He has a diploma of naturopath and mostly applies naturopathy ways to help us healthy. I personally agree with nature way, my body does too.

fruit feast by ab '09

Take an example, when we tested a range of processed food, including grains, wheat bread, coffee and chocolate, my muscles go really weak, as well as those the supplements and vitamins packed in jars or bottles in the pharmacy. Surprisingly enough, when fruits, fresh vegetables, plain yogurt, herbs, rice and meat are tested, my muscles stay strong. I think it is just amazing.

I know become aware that there are food that my body likes and dislikes. So this is the diet I am taking at the moment. Not with bags of slimming tea, bottles of slimming tables, but I do it by watching what I eat. Right now, I have lost 2 kg and feel so much lighter, more energetic and I can always say that I love sport more than I do. I can keep up with continuously tiring houseworks, from morning to evening, swimming with the children, playing petanque in the evening, cooking, even cycling and walking up and down the hill without being puffed up. I think if I want to look after my body, I need to listen to its needs, not to what I want.

my healthy breakfast by ab '09

This is my kind of breakfast recently, taking turns with fruit salad, enjoyed with plain yogurt. No more granola, no more toasts with nutella spread. I surely miss them but I have nothing to lose.

grilled nectarines by ab '09

My entry for HHDH this round, hosted by Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey? and Tartesacher of 1000Sweet Desserts. I don't think you need a special recipe of this. I just halved these nectarines, picked from our orchard, drizzled with Manuka honey and freshly grated nutmeg. I just love it. Fresh, natural, light and organic. What more can you ask?

Books for Love auction is still running. I have to extend the time until February 16, 2009. It seems that I've lost many participants this year. Anyway, I'll keep run it until we have met the reserved price of each item. Hopefully, there'll be more of you who can be kindly donating for the kids with cancer in Indonesia.