Macarons - Take 5

I will get these day.
Each time I try to make these I get to know them better, what they like and don't like, but this time I am happy with the recipe at least, which is from Call me Cupcake.
 These could have done with a few tiny minutes more and I need to get the piping right and not over mix the meringue.
But they did taste nice with the chocolate ganache (even though you should let them sit filled for 24 hours).
 Chocolate ganache:
100g dark chocolate (I used Margaret River Chocolate bits this time)
100g double cream
250g unsalted butter
Mix cream and chocolate in bowl over simmering water until smooth then add butter slowly. Cool then use.

Baking has become a bit of a hobby, not unlike art and sewing, I find it relaxing and challenging, but mostly rewarding, especially when the results can be shared with special friends. 

Mini Herb Garden

A portable herb and veg garden is what we made the other day...

 I love micro herbs and salads, so we got some seedlings and seeds to plant out for a constant fresh supply.

Nothing takes as good as eating food you have grown with your own hands.
We will make do with a few things until we make our own self sufficient garden in the future.

Vanilla Souffle with Roasted Rhubarb

 I have to decided to make an extra effort to try and make things I have not attempted to make before or those things that I haven't made well enough. 
Yes the list is huge, but I have to start somewhere and it is with this Vanilla Souffle.

The recipe is from an old Vogue Entertaining and travel magazine. 
It is from Claudes Restaurant in Sydney and I can't find the online version anywhere as yet. 
I am not sure how it turned out on the "perfect souffle" scale, however it did rise, was light and delicious and is the first souffle I have ever made (and eaten for that matter!) so I am happy with this result.
The recipe called for a burnt orange sauce, but I found some juicy mandarins and fresh rhubarb and decided to make a slightly different version to the original recipe and it worked nicely.
The rhubarb was sprinkled with brown sugar and baked for about 12mins at 150C until just soft. 
I also had 4 strawberries that I sliced and sprinkled with caster sugar and let rest for about 1 hour so that the juices would extract.
The mandarin was juiced and added to the strawberry liquid, then put on the stove to reduce down to a lovely syrup (we all love this sauce).

 (just in case the souffle sunk I grabbed a photo of them in the is quite an exciting moment to see these rising for the first time)
As soon as these come out, you can make a little hole in the middle and drizzle in some sauce and a dollop of rhubarb (you don't really need the rhubarb actually!).
These would be perfect with a raspberry syrup too!

Ok next I must master the Perfect creme brulee and French macaron...

A Lovely Compliment

Thanks so much to Sandy at Sandys Space for her kind words about our Vintage plane party!
Sandy has listed some fun tutorials and great ideas for paper projects. 
So if you are feeling that way inclined, check it out and all the other fantastic travel inspired projects too.

Happy Creating!!

Tourist Drive - Swan Valley

First stop Guildford to pick up a map at the Visitors Centre which is located in the Historic Court House. Next door you can check out a little history as well.

 The old Gaol and cottage complete with out house.

 There are many wineries, however we didn't stop at any this time.
 We did stop at the chocolate factory...

 and the alpaca farm, don't they look cuddly!
 The farm dog was cute too.
 Then we drove to Bells rapids where there are lots of walking tracks and plenty of people kayaking on the white water. A good place for a snack.

 We went to visit the House of Honey where the lady was very helpful at explaining what the bees where doing. We saw a dead bee getting rushed out by the other bees and some were cleaning each other.

Great sign!

There are plenty of things to do in the Swan Valley, we managed to fit in an Art gallery and Nougat factory, but there are lots of free things, art, history and lovely walks (we will save the wineries for Margaret River!)

My Favourite Cupcake Recipe

Thanks to this beautiful blog Call me Cupcake (Swedish I think), I have found a wonderful cupcake recipe and even yummier buttercream icing...

 I used the recipe exactly except I added lemon zest to the mix before adding the dry ingredients.
This is the first time I have made this type of buttercream and it is definitely for special days only, it has a luxurious meringue and quite a bit of butter, but as soon as we tasted it...

 we all loved it!!!
Especially nice with 5 Senses fresh coffee we picked up from our special friends this morning, I wish we could have shared some of these cakes with you guys!!
 We heart coffee.
Must try these cakes, they are fantastic, light and airy. I am not sure why I have piped bubbles in my buttercream, but it tastes good even if they don't look perfect.
Spend the extra time beating properly and you will be rewarded.
Happy baking.

Watercolour Strokes

I would love to have a lesson with watercolour paints and pencils, but until then I will just play around and learn as I go, so today we used some watercolour pencils and discussed the use of different strokes and direction of strokes to create alternative effects.

If we want to make something seem long and flowing like a river, we do horizontal colouring, or vertical for a giraffe's neck, or curved stroke for feathers or diagonal for movement and then finally circles.

Science - Biology and Botany

 Today we did some revision of Biology basics.
Using this useful model (which I got many years ago from Toys R Us I think) we looked at organs and what some of them do. I always use a real life model as well and physical actions/experiments (ie "feel your heart pumping/breathe in deeply and feel your diaphram")

This is how we got started...
Heart - we talked about pumping blood to the body and back again, the two parts and why the veins look blue and what happens if the tubes carrying blood get blocked from unhealthy living!
Lungs/diaphram - how this system works when we breathe in and out.
Liver - The amazing liver can regrow!
Urinary system - where the urine comes from and where the kidneys are.
Digestive system - Food goes in and travels along the line to the other end. I did a simple experiment to show how the digestion process begins in the mouth (see below).

Colour in sheets are used to cement what they have learned...

 Experiment to show how digestion begins in the mouth -
Get some food like a small spud and chop half and put into a clear container with lid, grate the other half and put in a separate container.
Explain that the first container shows food swallowed without being chewed.
The grated spud shows chewed food.
Now add water and shake (this is what is happening in the stomach and mouth).
Explain that saliva and other juices in stomach start digesting food and it is much easier to digest food that is chewed well! Much easier for our bodies and better absorption equals healthier us.

Science is fun! We not only talked about those specific organs above but I was asked questions about muscles and testicles too!
Botany - sowing seeds!
H is sowing a seed.
Not sure what it is, we thinks a pea?
A seed needs good soil, water and sunlight to grow didn't you know.

Thursday Art - Clay Sculpture

I did this many years ago in high school, but I think we used paper to fill the wire frame, oh well it may not be the right technique but I thought it would be fun to try some clay sculpting with the boys, so this is what we did...
"Anonymous wave" by T
First I made some wire frames out of 1mm wire, best to use something that won't rust and it must be strong enough to hold the clay, so if you want a chunky sculpture use thicker wire!
I shaped the frame before we started, but the wire can be bent by the kids into the shape they want. I actually wanted to do a boy holding a kite, perhaps next time.
I wrapped the wire with Aluminium foil and then stapled each one onto some wood as a base. This makes it much, much easier for the kids to work with and will stay standing when we are finished.
As an introduction we made a quick sketch of our figure on paper, then using Das white clay (air dry) we started sculpting clay onto the head and working our way down finished with the feet. 
After some smoothing out and the adding of some facial features and a 'marshmallow on a stick', we left them to dry.
                  " Artist Monkey toasting a marshmallow" by J
"Artist Piggy kicking ball" by H
These are not perfectly smooth, we didn't spend alot of time perfecting the figures because the boys are only 7 and 4, however they managed to create something wonderful with their own hands, very different to play dough and worth doing again.
 When these dry we will paint them too.
After the sculpting we looked at some utube videos about Michelangelo's David and Roman and Greek statues inside the Louvre.