Thursday, 27 September 2012

Change of Seasons, oh yeah and some new recipes

Ah yes the change of seasons.  Still throws me off living in Sydney being that it is backwards!  Although I will say this spring feels much more like spring-time to me… maybe I am doing a much better job of just accepting and going with the flow.  Thinking back to last year, I was a hot mess around this time.  To be fair, I was in the midst of the culture shock/wallowing in self-pity phase of my life.  During this time I cried over lack of pumpkin treats, foliage and BC football games.  It did not feel right to be in September/October and not be taking out cozy sweaters and putting away summer dresses.  I was angry that it was so different here.

What a difference a year makes my friends… right now life is good.  Must have something to do with being at the beach as the weather gets better! We have a long weekend coming up and are heading to Jervis Bay with some friends.  The hubby and I have never been, even though it is just a couple hours south of Sydney.  Should be a lot of fun... even if the weather is a bit cool like they are predicting we will still do some bush walks and kayaking.  One of the beaches there apparently has the whitest sand in the world.  

Like I said, life has gotten really good here in Australia with all our crazy adventures and good friends. Not to say that I don't get homesick or miss things about the US, but I feel like I am much better able to appreciate things here.  I was too busy this week to get a lot of good pictures around the house and new area, but I will do a quick post of that next week sometime. 

Anyways, I don’t want to go on and on about all that.  As promised (umm months ago) I will try to be better about recipes and such.  I think I mentioned that a friend had bought me a cookbook by Bill Granger.  For those who don’t know the name, he is one of the big name chefs here in Australia.  In Sydney he has several nice restaurants known particularly for the breakfast. 

The cookbook is great.  Filled with lots of traditional/modern Australian cuisine type stuff.  I have tried a bunch of them over the past few months and will be posting several over time.  First up oat, pear and raspberry loaf.  Brace yourselves for this one, because I completely adapted the recipe to my taste.  The original is amazing, but not necessarily what I would be eating on a daily basis.  I have made it with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries and have used all different apples and pears (pretty much whatever I have on hand).  It works well with pretty much everything.  My version is a bit healthier with less sugar, butter and using wholemeal flours.  Strawberries are in season now and have been on sale so that is what I used today along with some pink lady apples.  This is good timing for baking to bring stuff along on the road trip (which may be a bit of a long drive with holiday traffic).

Okay here we go...

Most of the yummy ingredients- missing honey though oops.

All the ingredients for the crumble ready to be mixed up.

Perfectly mixed and crumbled!

The oats getting all ready to go... these make this recipe taste like a delicious bowl of 
oatmeal in bread form.

Mixing up all the ingredients for the batter.

 Half the batter already in the pan topped with all the chopped fresh fruit... now ready to top off with remaining batter and crumb topping.

 One of the muffins straight from the oven... I need to make sure they tasted okay before bringing them on our road trip!  Okay fine... I had a couple... but just to make sure they came out fine.  And they did :)

Oat, Apple and Strawberry Loaf 
(or muffins depending on your mood)

Yield: 2 loafs or 2 dozen muffins


½ cup rolled oats
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup whole meal flout
1 oz chilled butter cut to small pieces

2 cups rolled oats
3 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½  tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups whole meal flour
1 tsp sea salt

3 ripe apples (or pears) finely dices
1 ¼ cups berries fresh or frozen (thaw and drain frozen berries and chop up larger berries such as strawberries)

- Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC)
- Grease muffin or loaf tins with cooking spray

- Make Topping

  •  Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix together with hands until well incorporated and small clumps begin to form.  Set aside.
- Make batter

  •  Place oats in a bowl and top with boiling water.  Let sit until luke warm in temperature.
  • Mix the oil, sugar, and honey in a bowl.
  • With an electric mixer add the eggs one at a time, beating well until mixture slightly thickens.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • Sift flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to bowl and fold to combine.
  • Drain any excess water from the oats and fold them into mixture until just combined.

- Spread about ½ to 2/3 of the mixtures into prepared muffin tins or loaf pans. Top with fruit/berries. 
Top with the remaining batter and then sprkingle the topping over as evenly as possible.
Bake loafs approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.  Bake muffins approximately 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from Bill Granger's book Best of Bill

I also baked these beauties today.  Recipe for them is below as well.  Not sure where I got this one initially… it was in my recipe box and I remember making them probably in high school and college.  Most likely something from my mom… but no source to quote on where it is from exactly! Typically recipes similar to this are called Monster Cookies.  You can switch out the chocolate chips for anything else... butterscotch or peanut butter chips, other small candy etc.  Options for that stuff are kinda limited here down under so I stuck with the M&Ms and mini chocolate chips.

And yes, I had to taste test these too.  Don't worry, they are delicious as well.

Monster Cookies

Yield: 24 large cookies

1 stick butter (softened)
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cup quick oatmeal
1 cup M&Ms
1 cup mini chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 375ºF and prep cookie sheets with parchment paper or cooking spray.
- Cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter with an electric mixer until fluffy and creamy. 
- Add the eggs one at a time and vanilla mix until just combined. 
- Add the baking soda and mix well. 
- Fold in the oats and then the chocolate chips and M&Ms. 
- Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to make rounded balls of dough.  Press down slightly on dough to flatten.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly brown on outside.
- Cool on parchment paper.

Wow that was a lot of recipe posting for one day.  I am off to pack up for the weekend away.  Hopefully the weather is good and I am back next week with lots of fun pictures and such. 

Until next time, I leave you with this gem of a picture of me and Uncle Glenn from our trip back to Boston in June.  Uncle Glenn knows all too well my love of all things pumpkin (and how much I miss all the pumpkin spice goodness being away) and picked up some canned pumpkin for me.  Have I mentioned before you can't get that here?! Anyways, here is the ridiculous picture of us with a can of pumpkin.  I have perfected some pumpkin recipes coming up next week  :)

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