Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Make it! Christmas decoration: Snow family bauble

I was hoping to have another bread review for last week, but things have not gone as planned (when do they?).
So instead I thought I might share an easy decoration that you can make with the little ones (or not so little ones, or you can do it too cos you know what? It's a bit of fun!

 

I love the simplicity of these baubles, and although I don't have a step by step photo process, I'm sure you'll get it!

Materials needed:

Baubles (however many you wish to decorate)
white paint and small cup
sponge or brush to apply paint
fine tip black permanent marker (I think a non-permanent could also work well)
fine tip red permanent marker
Wet cloth to wipe hands clean afterwards
a place to hang bauble while paint dries (I  used a clothes airer and a peg, but you could just hang them on the tree if you dare!)
to wrap:
silver cupcake/ muffin patty pans
cellophane
ribbon


Method:

If you have chosen the sponge to apply the paint, moisten it slightly (not wet, just flexible and absorbent).
Place about 3Tablespoons worth of white paint in your paint cup.
Have the cloth wet and ready for little painty hands
Coat your child's fingers and thumb evenly, and almost sparingly (having too much paint on their hands takes the characteristics away from the snow families bodies) with the white paint.
Ask your child to hold their hand out
my perfect hand model will show you what I mean ;)


Place the bauble in their hand and if they are not grasping onto the bauble encourage their hand to cup the bauble so that each finger leaves a painted impression.
Ask your child to slowly and carefully let go (so as not to smear the paint).
Hang bauble to dry.
Super fast wash the painty hand with the cloth before it grabs ahold of anything!
I repeated this process on the other side of the bauble once the first impression was dry.

When bauble is completely dry, draw your snow family some faces and give them some character with hats or simple clothes such as a vest or accessories like a scarf or necklace. Make them your own!

Pop your child's name and the date they created their work of art on the very bottom, or around the top.
To wrap as gifts I popped the baubles into foil muffin liners and then wrapped in cello tied with a ribbon.

Do you make gifts at Christmas?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Even the cats need love!

Check out the staff picks on madeit this week.

Axl you rock (oh, no reference to guns n' roses there)

There's a whole lotta lovin goin on there!

If you need some lovin from your sweetheart, you could always order some custom, handmade cookies to sweeten things a little!
 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Bread review #3: Country Life Low GI White Bread

Country Life Gluten & Dairy Free Low GI White Bread
So our mission continues to find the best gluten free bread, and as much as I would love to make a bread from scratch, I don't have the skills nor do I have the time. So I have resorted to reviewing a store bought gluten free bread. And while this one is better than many others, I don't think you will have to check the ingredients to make sure that it is actually gluten free!

Country Life has recently released a 'New & Improved' recipe for their bread range. I must admit that it is better than it was. I prefer the Low GI as most gluten free breads are high GI due to the type of flours used, so this one sustains me a little longer. Their other varieties are White, Multigrain and a fruit bread. It is also dairy free for those that need this, but it is not suitable for nut, soy or egg allergies.

I can't say that I eat GF bread in the bread form very often. This is mostly because I am used to it falling apart, and because I don't eat that much bread (you get out of the habit quickly when all of your options are sub-standard to the homemade bread you were brought up on!), I usually freeze all my loaves so they last longer. So in this test, I have eaten this bread as bread, and you know what, it's not so bad...well at least not on the first day.


The first day this bread holds up really well. While it is still smaller than 'normal' bread, the packaging states that it is "great for sandwiches". I agree. This bread is soft, with a soft crust, and is larger than most other GF breads you can buy from the supermarket. This means that you can fit more than half a piece of lettuce and a stingy bit of ham.

I must also admit that I have only had my wisdom teeth taken out a week ago, so this soft bread is ideal for me.

Day 2 the bread is still fine, but is starting to fall apart a little. By day 3 the bread is almost falling apart as I spread Nuttelex on it, and even worse when I try my favourite chunky fig & ginger jam. By day 4 a sandwich is out of the question, and toasting is essential to keep the bread holding together.

This bread also lasts really well frozen. I have done this many times, often buying it on special close to the use-by date and then keeping it frozen for over a month, toasting it when I need a piece of bread.

This bread, while soft and light, also tends to become quite cakey when you are eating it. It loses all of it's texture and just feels like you have something really heavy and dense in your mouth. I must admit that this is better than this bread used to be where I felt like I needed a water to get it down!

Mmmmm Fig & Ginger Jam!
Ok, to rate the bread.

Would I go back for more? 6/10
Yes. It is one of the better store bought GF breads, so for convenience, yes. But that's not saying that I'm not on the lookout for better store bought breads!

Cost: 6/10
This loaf costs $6.50 for 13 slices and 2 crusts. That works out to be about 45c per slice (including the crusts), which isn't too bad, but I must say I always check out the GF bread section even when I don't need any bread, because getting it discounted when it's close to use-by date is a real bonus. I would much prefer to pay $4 or even $2.60 when I am really lucky!

Longevity: 5/10
To only be able to eat this loaf in bread form for 3 days, I would say this isn't very good. If we were rating toasts, this would have done much better, but as we are not, it only gets a 5.

Freezing: 7/10
Like I said, I often freeze this bread for over a month in a freezer bag, and it toasts back to almost as good as it toasts on day 1. If it is frozen as soon as I purchase, it will refresh back to pretty much the same quality as it was when put in the freezer. Therefore if it is frozen on day 4, it probably isn't going to be good enough to use for sandwiches, but toasting is the best way to get the most out of this loaf.

Toasting: 8/10
I think this bread has a great flavour, a little bit sweet, and toasting adds something to this. I think this is probably due to the linseed and almond meal. It may not be for everyone, but I certainly love this bread toasted with tofutti and my favourite jam!

Overall this bread gets 6.4/10. Mostly the accessibility, reliability and size of this loaf make it score above 5. Still, I am sure that there are other store bought breads out there that will give this one a run for it's money (or at least I hope so!).

Monday, 26 November 2012

bread review #2 recipe -Japanese milk bread

Twolicious are on a mission. To find or create the best gluten free bread. Not just a good enough for gluten free, but good bread. Yummy bread.
I can't stop eating this bread!
So good you'll want to check the ingredients twice to be sure it's gluten free!
Its' bread, Fred


So to give you run down on what to expect with each review (although they will all be different), I thought I'd start here.
We'll look at different categories of bread. As in their origin.

1: bakery bread/ store bought
2: make at home packet mix
3: bread made from recipes


As you know there are many ways we come across breads in our lives, some of those times we like to make bread ourselves.

We (sisters) grew up in a home where the bread maker did this on almost a daily basis. With 5 packed lunches to make for each day, and everyone had sandwiches, that's quite a bit of hand cut bread to go through.

We also grew up in a home where simplicity and basics were key (very frugal living), and where there was always more than one use for an item. So the bread maker was also used to make dough for pastries, pizzas and other baked items.

So I guess when we assess a recipe for bread here, its functionality and versatility will also be taken into account, along with it's realness to traditional bread, and its taste and longevity.

After going through a multitude of recipes (and heartbreak with failure- hence the length of time between posts) somehow as I scoured the web (I think it was foodgawker actually- but truthfully, I can't remember, because I was sure this recipe would not work I did not document that- my bad). I was completely intrigued by the swirls. So pretty.


Well it did work. With some alterations of course.

And quite possibly because it is basically a savoury yeasted batter, only with a no pour ending.

I do like this bread, and I find it versatile enough that you can use this batter to make other sweet baked items such as cinnamon scrolls and pull-a-part bread. KI think the next thing I'll try is brioche or panetone. It could possibly go as far as pizza bases and foccacia, but I haven't tried that-yet. A little more time and we'll see.

This bread has a nice crust which is not too thick or too crunchy (due to the inclusion of egg, I find all breads that include eggs in their recipe have a crumbly type of crust), so it suits what my husband is after in his sandwich and morning toast.

The crumb is soft, light, moist and sweet, very much similar to a bakery white loaf. This is a great everyday bread.
It is nice to make herb bread to go with dinner, it is a lovely toast- so much nicer than you could imagine I guess that is why its title is Hokkaido milk toast.


It holds up well to freezing and refreshes well in both the toaster and the microwave, although as it cools (after microwaving) it does not have the same fresh bread texture. This may be due to my substitution of psyllium husk instead of xanthan gum (I am trying to be more versatile in my baking).

Time to rate the bread:

9/10- Would I go back for more?
YEP!
Have and will continue to. This is because it suits my family's needs/wants for a sweet soft loaf. I've probably made couple of mini loves for the past four weeks, and used it for pull a part bread, and cinnamon scrolls too. The versitility and similarity to what Dadda has become accustomed to over the years makes it a great bread to start with when converting your diet to gluten free.

cost:
8/10- Approximately (depending on where you source your ingredients) $4 per recipe which yields an extra large GF loaf or two regular (for GF!) loaves.
So really making this loaf is quite reasonable considering a comparable loaf in your grocery store is approximately $7 these days.

Longevity: 5/10 The day of baking is really the best day to consume this bread.
Day 2 was still good for sandwiches, day 3, 4, 5 and 6 needed refreshing, I have still not had mould grow on this bread and have tested as far as 8 days, even then after refreshing it was still good to eat (immediately- after cooling it went slightly rubbery).

Freezing: 8/10 This bread is awesome from freezing, not exactly back to day 1 texture but definitely good enough to use from frozen for sandwiches that day. Like any bread slice before freezing and just use what you need.

Toasting: 10/10! This is the yummiest toast you will have from a yeasted bread, hands down!

Overall rating: 8/10


The best part about this bread is that it really does not stray far from the original recipe (the gluten version found on the net). The original recipe has eggs in it (this is great for GF bread as it helps hold it together and give a nice crust).
This recipe also has another element to it. As well as having dry and wet ingredients it also has a water and flour roux. This may also be why it seems to work so well.


I later found a gluten free version of this bread on a great site 'gluten free on a shoestring'. Since finding this site I've had a great time reading her work, check it out if you have a minute- who am I kidding, you'll need much more than a minute!

I am not sure about turning it dairy free, but I think I'll have another go when I make some almond milk. The issue is you need the fat within this bread to assist leavening. I have tried it without milk, and it just doesn't get any oven spring. It was a very sad loaf indeed.

Try this bread I think you'll enjoy this slightly sweet soft white loaf.

Be sure when making the batter to whip it real good. Not just to quote Devo, well maybe. I do mean, beat it or knead it for a bit longer than you think necessary, I like to be sure to see strands forming within the dough (you know like gluten would in an actual bread dough).

Japanese Milk Bread or Hokkaido Milk Toast

As you can see, you really need that glaze!




Adapted from various recipes (found in the links on this page):
Recipe type: Bread

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 1 hour

Serves: 8 to 10

Super soft & tender gluten-free bread made with a Japanese water roux

Ingredients
350g rice flour

150g tapioca starch  (you may need a little more to create the right texture)

3 Tablespoons of Psyllium husk

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

4 tablespoons (48g) sugar

2½ teaspoons instant yeast

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 extra-large egg

1 cup warm full cream milk, about 38C or 100F

4 tablespoons cooled melted butter

140g water roux (a reduction made with 30g of tapioca starch and 125ml water)


Instructions:
Line a loaf pan with baking paper. I use either a pan 220mm x 130mm or my two smaller pans that are 170mm x 80 (at the base).

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place flour, Psyllium husk, cream of tartar, sugar, salt and yeast, and whisk to combine.

Combine the vinegar, eggs, milk, butter, add to flour mixture on low speed, then water roux, mixing well after each addition with the mixer on low speed. Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the wet ingredients, turn the mixer up to high speed and allow to mix for about 7 minutes.

By now the dough should be developing those strands I was talking about earlier. It should be moist and slightly sticky if you give it a poke.
If you find the dough is too wet, add more a little more flour by the tablespoon with the mixer on medium low until you reach that desired dough like texture.

Sprinkle some tapioca flour on the bench or board and flip it out. Dust your hands a little also and the top of the dough. I use a rolling pin to lightly form the dough into a square about 20mm in thickness.

Cut the square with a well floured knife in half down the middle. Make two more cuts to make six pieces. I was really drawn to the pretty little swirls I saw on the loaves found on foodgawker, so I like to make my pieces into little rolls and place them in the tins, but some people just pop the dough into the pan whole, others divide their dough and fold it.

Whichever way you choose, be sure not to squoosh the air out of it.

Cover the pans with a thich teatowel and pop them in a warm place to rise (I put mine on top of the oven) for about 40 minutes to an hour. When it is getting close to double its size, preheat your oven to 180C.

When you oven has come to temperature the dough should have doubled, brush the dough brush the tops with an egg wash (this is totally optional, but if you want that glossy golden tops, you gotta do it).

Bake for about 20 minutes in the smaller pans, 25-30 in the large or until lightly browned. take out of the pans now and pop on your baking stone (that has been in the oven) or a tray and pop them back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. You'll know they are ready to come out when you tap them on the bottom and they sound hollow and the sides are firm.

Place on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving. This is the hardest part! The bread smaells sooooo good, but if you cut it too early the inside will still be a bit gummy. So please for the sake of sliced bread- let it cool!

Then eat, eat, eat, and after that share, share, share!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Bread reveiw #1 - Common ground Bakery

Twolicious are on a mission. To find or create the best gluten free bread. Not just a good enough for gluten free, but good bread. Yummy bread.
I can't stop eating this bread!
So good you'll want to check the ingredients twice to be sure it's gluten free!
Its' bread, Fred


So to give you run down on what to expect with each review (although they will all be different), I thought I'd start here.
We'll look at different categories of bread. As in their origin.

1: bakery bread/ store bought
2: make at home packet mix
3: bread made from recipes

I think that about covers all breads (unless you guys know of another!)

Common ground multiseed gluten free loaf
Category 1:

Common ground Bakery

Logo

To be completely honest I had in my mind a whole nother idea when I finally arrived at Common Ground at the base of Razorback (their bakery and sweet little cafe is in what used to be the Razorback inn, at the front of where the 'woolshed' is/was).

You see I'd been hearing about a wonderful gluten free sourdough or ciabatta. Admittedly it was just hearsay, but I still got a bit excited by the thought of gluten free bread- real bread.

At the time I didn't think that it was at all possible, and to be real about this whole idea, I have never really enjoyed bread the way other people seem to. I actually didn't miss it at all when I had to go GF.
I kinda felt a little relieved that I didn't have to have sandwiches for lunch, I didn't have to consider it at all (for me at least- I still had to consider the needs of my gorgeous husband).

So when I spoke to the lady (and I say "Lady" because she was warm and beautiful, and kind with her words, but also held herself as a Lady should- I don't even really know what that means!)

However when I asked about the GF bread (they didn't actually have any left from the weekend market), the GF sourdough or ciabatta that I'd heard wonderful stories of... it was non existent :(

Instead their range of GF bread were made from a batter (so I class that as a savoury cake).



They did have a few options like a white loaf, this seeded loaf and a wholemeal like loaf.
I would've gone home empty handed only she remembered a lost loaf without a date on it (so it could not be sold- I still would've paid for it).

She gave me this loaf, saying that they were not able to use it and that I really must just take it. I felt terrible just taking this loaf so I bought mr4 a muffin (he was not interested in staying as they have some play equipment in the garden out front).

It was of dense texture, and a very moist crumb. The seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, soy, flax seeds, and I think almond) gave it a nice crunch and an interesting flavour with each bite. I enjoyed it.

This was the last slice!

2/10: Would I go back for more? nope, It'd get me by in a pinch. But as I said I don't love bread that much. Their bakery is also about half an hour out of the way for us. If I was driving by I might stop at their cafe and try some of the other GF items on the menu.

cost?

6/10: Longevity? I got this bread when it was already 3 days into its' little life, and it was still edible for two more days. After the fifth day of it's life, it grew mould. Day 4 and 5 the bread needed a little refreshing in the microwave oven,

4/10: Freezing? It froze and refreshed fairly well, coming back with a little less moisture, and as it cooled the crust was a bit crunchy (without toasting).

7/10: Toasting? Brought out the oils in the seeds, and was probably the best way to eat this bread. Which is not unusual for GF breads.


So then overall this bread gets a 4.75/10.

As I said throughout, this bread is pretty average for GF breads there is not really any wow factor to it, and it is pretty much what I had come to expect for GF breads in general.

They do have a beautiful setting out at Razorback Inn, I wish I'd taken some photos. Their philosophy is simple and wholesome. They grow all their greens and make everything from scratch, I like that!

I think we actually need more of that around so if you are going through Picton or Katoomba, check it out, I doubt you'd be disappointed any.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Last chance to win today!

Last chance today!

Win me!!


And me!!
Head on over to the allergy revolution and justleave a quick comment!
Yep, that's all!
Oh I can only post Aus, not that I don't love the reat of the world, cos we do.
We'll have to think of something for you guys soon!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Not to market...anymore

So my heart is a little heavy, yet in some way excited and relieved?


It is a strange combination.

After 5 months of going to my monthly market at Bowral public school markets, we have decided to stop.

At the moment it is not a viable option for my family. And they come first.

We have decided that my time and our resources will be better spent via other options, like etsy, madeit, this blog, and finally a facebook business page!(like me, please like me!!!) ... and maybe twitter ( I had a few people ask if I twittered-is that the right word (I am such an IT virgin)? So that may be another option, but let's just take it one step at a time.

Do I regret doing the market? In a word- No.

If anything I have slight regret for stopping so soon. In saying that I do not regret the extra time it will give me for my family.

I did the market for, well, market research in a way.

It was great to actually see what people were really wanting. I know it is a different environment, with people wanting a treat to eat at the market, rather than something to take home.
Dark and milk chocolate join forces with caramel sauce and walnuts in this brownie.

So doing the market helped develop different product lines, and helped me gain a better understanding of what people expect and want from my product.
I don't know if Blondies have more fun, maybe the caramel and walnut help with that.




I started out with one brownie, and now from selling out in the first market, I have three types of brownies and two blondies. All of which I sold out of most every month there.

This is the 'healthy' brownie, please meet Lady Vegan Dark Chocolate and Real raspberry.
I also found that people love the mini cupcakes I had, and so from starting with just the one flavour again, each month I developed and introduced a new flavour to get more feedback.
Yummy red velvets, just look how light and moist they are, mmm....

I was quite lucky to have return customers who were happy to give honest feedback, so I knew what was working and what did not.
Oh, cookies and cream, why won't you stand up? everyone is looking now. (I'm never gunna figure this thing out)

I will miss seeing the forlorn look turning to delight on peoples faces when they realised it was all gluten free, or hearing someone call out to their partner or friend "Hey this chick does all gluten free, quick- have a look". It was like... I don't actually know how to describe it, but for me, it's like someone telling you that the only cake you'll ever eat again is made of almond meal. at first it is lovely, and you are just happy to be eating cake, but then years of the same birthday cake becomes like porridge in your mouth. Soooo when you are expecting only to ever have 'porridge' and someone says you can have anything and everything... it's like that elation you thought would never come!

I'll also miss having the opportunity to just take two steps to buy some lovely organic veg, I'll miss the most delicious hot lemon drink (a lot), and I'll miss the excitement of the market itself, not my excitement, but the atmosphere.

Also, almost every month I would have someone say 'Oh, I'd love this, but I have to have gluten free:( -frowny face- Which was almost my favourite phrases to reply to with 'It's all gluten free'. Then it would be either one of two responses.
1- 'OOOooooOOOooooohhhhhh.....well I'll have.......' or
2- 'I better not, I'm trying to loose weight'.
Well even if this is Gluten, Dairy and egg free... a mud cake ain't gunna help you lose weight!

Some really good things happened too. I mean on top of making other gluten free-ks feel good.
-I had my first wholesale enquiry and order!!!
-I was pushed to develop new recipes for various needs (like fructose malabsorbtion- on top of being dairy and gluten free)
-I found the market stall holder community was very welcoming, supportive and cheerful.
-I found that there were people all around me who wanted to support me, something I did not expect.
-My babies got to have some real one on one time with dada.
-People are interested in giving their coeliac friends something nice when they come over for a cuppa
-People definitely cannot tell that my goodies are gluten free! Actually most of my customers were confused as to why I was asking them if they needed gluten free! It was a bit funny actually.

There were also a few things that caught me off guard, or that confused me a little.
-questions like "how do you do this... I want to make some for..."
-comments such as "don't you have anything that cost less than $3?"
-very windy days! Even though I had weights and pegs in, I still found there were moments where I had to grab onto the tent as it lifted up!
-whether or not I should have been charging the market director for her purchases?
-if other stallholders expected a discount or special offer? Which I always gave, if I knew they were stallholders.
I think some of these things will leave me  pondering for a while.

I do want to say that without the support of my gorgeous husband, I would not have been able to get out there even one time. He came through for me (as he always does) in so many ways...how do I count the ways.. I cannot, there are simply too many.

So Imma finish up now so I can go help him in the shed, cos that's where he is, and I want to be with him!