15 Jul 2014

I heart Baking

Baking is only something that I have tackled after becoming a mother.  I don't know why.  It's not like I had more time or anything.  I just needed something, an escape, a hobby, a challenge that didn't involve keeping a tiny human alive.  Pre-Mushroom my hobbies included playing angry birds or reading whilst smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka.... I know.  I was pretty productive.


Banana Bread
Even though I had an aversion to doing much of anything really, I did, do, love to cook. Even more so after finding the Juffin, as there's nothing better than cooking for an appreciative audience.  I also enjoy eating, which is why I'm in the peak physical condition that I'm in today, and eating savoury food has always taken precedence over cakes or biscuits.  I'm just a salt lovin' gal!
Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Anyway, the urge to bake came after the Mushroom.  Creating tasty, yummy, home made treats for my little boy and challenging myself by creating decadent cupcakes has become one of my favourite things to do.  And to set the record straight, it doesn't take up that much time!!  Honestly!  

Apple & Cinnamon Muffins
I am blessed with a pretty happy little man.  He will play independently quite happily for an hour or so if he has his trucks, trains and planes.  He loves playdough, and food, and running laps around the house.  Sometimes when I'm baking, the Mushroom will 'help' and sit on the bench and make a mess.  It's cute.  I can't wait until he's a little bit older and can help me knead dough or measure out flour.

I choose recipes that are quite easy to put together and don't require too much prep work.  Muffins, Banana Bread, Cheese Scones, Zucchini Slice... all these things usually only require one bowl and a mix of wet ingredients, add the dry and away you go.  I can usually get muffins prepped and in the oven in 20 minutes.

Lamb, Roasted Pumpkin & Feta Salad
I usually don't start dinner until Justin gets home, or I may start a little earlier and chop things while the Mushroom pulls everything out of the 2nd drawer (utensil drawer) and makes enough noise to breech the sound barrier.  Sometimes I will be really organised and get something into the slow cooker before work but this doesn't happen very often.  One of my favourite cooking appliances is my pressure cooker.  I can whip up a melty beef strog in under an hour with it's help and the flavour is so amazing, you'd think it had been cooking all day!  

Evenings are when I usually frost and decorate cupcakes and make things like pizza scrolls as they tend to take a bit longer to put together.  This way I can fully concentrate on what I'm doing and the chances of stuffing up are greatly reduced.

Here are some of my favourite recipe sites if not for the recipes but the inspiration!

http://mylovelylittlelunchbox.com/
http://www.wholefoodsimply.com/
http://www.juliegoodwin.com.au/
http://www.cookingforbusymums.com/
http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/recipes/

Pizza Scrolls
Oat and Currant Cookies
Some of these sites have recipes that I have used and twerked to suit myself and some I have never used but have bookmarked because they look and sound so delicious.  I also frequent sites like Taste.com.au and allrecipes.com. If you're in a jam at dinner time and want something quick and relatively easy, then you can't go past Jamie Oliver.  He may be a complete twat and let's not talk about that whole Woolworths thing but he is passionate about good food and that getting it into our kids belly's. 
Zucchini Slice 

After building a little confidence, I now feel equipped to use recipes as a guide only and do my own thing.  It's taken a lot to get me here and I still bake mostly to the recipe but feel like I can adequately substitute ingredients for others without too much hassle.  Lately I have been replacing milk with things like yoghurt, or coconut milk and it's given old favourites a new lightness.  I have also been substituting sugar for rice syrup in some recipes with great success.  My Apple & Cinnamon Muffins are now almost entirely sugar free!

The point of this post is this: Yes.  I love to bake.  And I do quite often.  But I'm not a professional.  Nor do I spend hours in the kitchen (ok, sometimes I do, but not on a regular basis).  I also have disasters every now and then.  Tonight we had a pretty average dinner consisting of a fabulous pork chop but accompanied by a truly terrible soggy vegie stir fry and cluggy rice.  I didn't instagram that one did I?!