Monday, 25 April 2016

Anzac Day in Wellington, and Anzac Biscuits

Today, 25th April is the day that Kiwis and Aussies remember those brave men that fought and died in the First World War on the Gallipoli Peninsula, so far away from their homeland in Turkey. It has become a day of commemoration for all the men and women who fought for our freedom across the years. Anzac Day is recognised here as a national holiday and attracts tens of thousands of New Zealanders and Australians to dawn services held throughout the country.  Two of our young grandchildren attended the service this  morning wearing the medals of their Great Grandpa.

It has been a beautiful day here in Wellington, a perfect day for our German guests to cross the strait from the South Island. And it was a lovely autumn evening for us to visit the site of the Wellington National War Memorial with our daughter and granddaughter to see the very moving laser light commemoration in the twilight. There were many families coming and going, some with very young children wrapped up for the cool evening. It was heartening to see the Dads and Mums with their little ones explaining the images portrayed on the tower. We can only but hope and pray in these troubling times that lessons have been learned from the past that will prevail for the future.

The recipe I am sharing with you today is for Anzac Biscuits. The story goes that they were made by wives and mothers and sent overseas to the troops as they would keep well. It is more likely that they were made to sell at fetes and fairs to raise money for the troops. Either way they are a tasty morsel to eat along with a cup of tea, easy and quick to make and you are likely to have the ingredients in the pantry. They keep for weeks in an airtight container. My grandchildren love them and I often give them to guests for afternoon tea.
125 grams butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
Melt the butter with the golden syrup over a medium heat till the butter melts. Mix together the baking soda and water and add to the butter mixture. It will foam up. Mix together the coconut, sugar, flour and oats and add to the butter mixture. Put teaspoonfuls onto a  baking tray that has been lined with baking paper. Flatten them slightly with a fork.  Leave spreading room between them.
Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 12 minutes till golden.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Fresh Bread, Fragrance and Fruit Square.

There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread baking, wafting through the house.
Combined with the glorious aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and a freshly cleaned house and suddenly your house has become a home. I recall my old Mum saying when I was a kid that if she hadn't had time to get the dinner started before Dad got home from work she would put a chopped onion on to fry and he would know that dinner wasn't far away.  These days its just as likely to be the man of the house cooking for the family. How times have changed since the days my Mum had Dad's slippers waiting and a cup of tea in the pot to greet him at the door! Some things don't change though, and the enticing smells of home cooking still serve as a warm and inviting welcome to the home.
We bake bread daily, a small loaf served whole at breakfast to be toasted, or eaten fresh if our guests prefer it untoasted, perhaps with a generous dollop of our homemade preserves.
Guests at Harbourlights B & B choose between having a cooked or continental breakfast upstairs in our dining room or a continental breakfast delivered to the hall table outside their room at whatever time they choose. A toaster, plates and cutlery is supplied in their room along with a selection of cereals and preserves. We take them a tray containing fresh fruit, home-made yoghurt, freshly baked bread, butter, orange juice and coffee, just as they would have had upstairs in the dining room.This enables them to eat in the privacy of their own room if they prefer and works particularly well if they are leaving to catch the early ferry to the South Island or an early flight.
We also bake fresh cookies or cake for them to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee when they arrive, and replenish them daily if they are staying for more than one night. Today I made a sultana slice, it takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. It is cooked in a Swiss roll tin and sliced when cold. I like recipes that involve melting the butter and adding the rest of the ingredients, no mixer bowl or food processor to wash and it cooks while I am preparing dinner. The recipe for my slice is at the end of this blog.

I love the house, and particularly the B & B to smell fresh and appealing. Fresh flowers and cleaning products go a long way and I have been using diffuser oil to add a background freshness, especially in the bathroom, but  I balk at the outrageous price of a little bottle of fragrance with a few sticks poking out the top. There had to be a cheaper way of achieving the same result, so I consulted Mr Google and searched on Pinterest and found a recipe to make our own. The resulting diffuser is a subtle vanilla smell that adds a layer of freshness at a fraction of the cost. You can choose any essential oil to create whatever fragrance you like. All you need is:

1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (or vodka)
1/4 cup water
about 20 drops of essential oil (I used vanilla, but lavender, lemon etc would be nice)
5 small bamboo skewers (like you would use for kebabs)
an attractive bottle with a neck wide enough to hold the skewers.

Mix the rubbing alcohol (or vodka), water and oil together and pour into the bottle. Insert the bamboo skewers and wait for a few days till the bamboo absorbs the smell. Top up as required. It should last for weeks.

I am not sure where this sultana slice recipe came from as I have been making it for years. Possibly it came from my mother. I have seen many adaptations of it over the years, but this is my recipe:

Sultana Slice:
125grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon caramel essence (or use vanilla)
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sultanas  (or substitute chopped dried apricots)

Melt the butter gently with the sugar and golden syrup. Add the beaten egg and essence, then the rest of the ingredients. Put into a greased Swiss roll tin that has been lined with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius  for 20 minutes until nicely browned. Slice when cool. This can be iced if you like but is nice plain. It will keep for a few days in an airtight container.