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Leaping into the Lion’s Den

Leaping into the Lion’s Den.

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Here’s my Che(e)rry Pie, cool drink of water, such a sweet surprise!

Festive Cherry Tart as requested!

This is my absolutely favourite dessert – tweaked slightly for Xmas with cherries and coconut.  Anyone with a cherry ripe addiction (my hand is up) can add a layer of melted choc to the pressed base for a taste of heaven.

 

INGREDIENTS

200g packet Marie biscuits crushed or ready made biscuit crumbs

50g dessciated coconut- finely chopped

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups milk

4 Tbsp custard powder

3 Tbsp sugar

400ml Whipped Cream

500g punnet cherries

250g jam – NOT one with fruit pieces. I use raspberry jam with seeds for a 3D look.

 

CUSTARD CREME

Put milk on to boil then reduce to simmer.

Mix together custard powder, sugar and 2 tbsp milk to make the custard mix.

Beware – the custard is a strong mix and will set very quickly, so once you add the custard mix to the boiling milk you need to whisk like you have never whisked before – get that elbow cranking!20141206_160828

Once thickened, remove from heat and continue to whisk for a few minutes, then pour into a plastic bowl and cover with cling film. Place in fridge and whilst every 10 mins for 30 mins.

Once cold, add whipped cream and whip in mixer or whisk by hand until thick and creamy.

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CRUMB LAYER

Melt the butter and add biscuit crumbs and coconut.  Dont add too much butter – you dont want a sludgy mess as it will set rock hard and be like a slab of fat to eat rather than crumble in your mouth.

Press into a springform or tart pan.  This is important – work from the centre out with finger tips or back of a spoon. Ensure you get a lip of 3-4 cm.  Press well into corner and dont let it get too thick here – nothing worse than chewing on a biscuit nugget! Push the crumbs down on the lip so you have a 3-5mm thick layer.

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Put in fridge for 30 mins.

 

ASSEMBLY

Layer custard creme into biscuit base and smooth – dont go over the lip!!!!

Return to fridge for 30 mins or skip and go straight to next stage if you are impatient (who isnt when this is the dessert on offer!)

Wash and dry cherries – pit if you wish (I find they bleed too much into custard and dont look as pretty, so leave them whole). Place on top of custard – do not push into the creme.

Place jam in a microwave proof ceramic container and heat until melted through (do not boil or it will set hard).

Gently brush the jam over all cherries. Be generous!

20141206_174548Allow to set in fridge for 30 mins.

Just before serving sprinkle with a little icing sugar or coconut and chocolate holly (grab a plastic holly and coat underside in melted chocolate, chill, once set peel off) for a festive touch.READY SET EATIf this is an adults only dessert you can add a liqueur to the custard creme – frangelico is a fave of mine.

In other news operation Christmas tree is scheduled for this weekend. Photos soon!

I, Toldyah

 

We are at Yuletide Defcon 4 People – man the festive hatches!

November 30…. tomorrow is officially Christmas season in my household – and for me that means tinsel, tinsel and more tinsel – you can NEVER have too much tinsel!

I have to admit upfront – I am a Christmas tragic… I take the festive season very seriously. I prepare for December 25th like Doomsday Preppers plan for the end of the world (luckily I get my D-day every year, which is so much more fun for perfecting THE PLAN).

The Plan – the method for making christmas fabulous. It includes the shopping schedule, the present buying, hiding and wrapping processes, the blueprint for Christmas Tree fabulousness, the master plan for lighting inside and outside the house, and so much more. How to build a chimney out of an average household laminate bookcase, the perfect santa cookie dough and the secret recipe for reindeer food.

xmas cooking Yes, I am that Christmas weirdo…. I should have been Mrs Santa Claus.  I watch The Santa Clause and am jealous! I have always been the Christmas girl…. at school, at home, I built my first homemade chimney at 11.  I refined the process over the years and now you may find it difficult to tell whether it is real or smoke and mirrors.  And tree decorating……. I take that one so seriously that my family do not dare touch a bauble…. they KNOW better.

xmas treeThis year my daughter is almost 6 and wanting to have a bit of a say in Christmas.  That’s a problem for me (yes, its my problem but not one I am willing to fix).  I thought long and hard about how to compromise – the result – Beth has a tree of her own. She has decorated it as she sees fit, and I have studiously butted out of the process, forcing opinions down along with the urge to tweek this or that.  Proudly – I managed to touch nothing and her tree is all her own.  I was amazed at the outcome – perhaps my Christmas decorating inclinations are a genetic disposition (there’s a PhD paper in there for someone!)  Back to the tree – she chose a white optic fibre tree and rainbow trims…. not traditional choices which played havoc with my yuletide sensibilities (my trees are red white green and gold – AND NOTHING ELSE), but they work for her.  Great effort for a 5-year-old.

beth's tree   beths tree 2

Come tomorrow the advent calendars are activated Ours is the Smiggle one this year – 5-year-old girls by law must love Smiggle!), the pudding soak with Frangelico steps up to the next level, and the decorating process commences.  I will come back and write some more each time I extricate myself from a roll of tinsel or LED lights.  If you have any particular recipes or instructables you would like me to cover just let me know!

 

I, Toldyah.

 

Walking with secrets….. SHHHHH!

I am so excited…. I mean really, really hyper-excited, bursting at the seams in fact.

You see – I have a secret. One that will blow my daughter’s mind and cause a significant amount of screaming “Mummy you are the best ever” – which of course was my aim.

I discovered late last week that Walking with Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular is coming back to Australia……

Bethie’s greatest obsession, made real, her paleontologist dreams come true.  Better even than digging up fossilised dino poop or thundereggs…. (read here for more on that topic).

dino walkI immediately began to plan my assault on the Visa card presale: seating plans, closeness factor for a T-rex stare down, timing for credit card transfers, internet failure preparedness through media back ups (phone, ipad etc). It was war on every other parent of a dino obsessed child.  I needed those tickets…. they had to be mine.

Since the junior dino admirer has a birthday in January and the show is in March, we decided it was a perfect birthday present.  And what birthday gift is complete without those you love and obsess over turning up for the party…. so we added a meet and greet to the package… we don’t know whom will grace us with their scary over-sized presence, but it is sure to be a moment to remember.

BrachiosaurusSo there I was, visa card, seating plan, back up devices at the ready….tick tick tick…. roll on midday.  And then, just as I lift my finger to refresh the Ticketek page for the 117th time… the work phone rings.   Nooooooo. I wont answer. Wait, dammit, it’s the CEO…… I have to answer.  Tick tick tick…. 30 seconds to midday and my daughter’s nirvana. Ring ring, what to do….  WHAT TO DO… ok, 22 seconds to go – refresh page and answer phone…. CLICK- REFRESH. Hello? Oh, wrong person, sorry. I wanted Mario!  Bye then, Mr CEO. Slam down phone.  7 seconds to go, 2 breaths, refresh page, and…. GO TO WAR!!!!!!!!!

The race is on….. quick – put in code word. Bugger – what was code word, oh yeah, VISA lol. Breathe – dont panic. Enter password to login – WHAT THE – I already did this…. enter password, get to offer page. OH NO, it’s different to when I was practicing, where do I choose meet and greet, wait, what date am I choosing – ah – there it is. Click, click, click, add Visa card number. Waiting…. and COMPUTER SAYS NO…..

computer-says-noWHATTTTTTTTTT – it is NOT the wrong number, oh wait – that was the old number put in automatically by Ticketek, the old card number before delightful scammers ripped off my deets from a retailer.  Put in new one….funds declined………. NO NO NO…… they are in there…….. oh wait – got the expiry date wrong.  Breathe, breathe.  Type, Click and DONE!!!!!!!! I feel like there should be a fanfare as the page reloads confirming my purchase.

Perfect tickets – best I ever managed to get.

Now – how do I not tell her for 58 days?????????  Thank goodness she can’t read well enough for the blog yet!

Do you have a lil one (or big one) whom would love a chance to see these multi million year old goliaths in action?  Visa pre-sale is over but the tickets are on sale at Ticketek from Friday this week.  Grab some and come say hi – we will be the ones down the front holding back a 6-year-old from diving into the jurassic mosh pit!

Time to pull out the Walking With Dinosaurs DVDs and start preparing for the journey back in time.

I, Toldyah

Here come the Dragons!!!!!!!!!!!!

Be still our beating hearts – the time is nigh!  THE DRAGONS COME!  They are so very close.  They will soon be ours. Are you ready dragon admirers?

Of course, dragon owning requires great responsibility. Before I can divulge more – I need to confirm –  have you visited your local Viking Training Academy?  Have you learnt the fine arts and secret moves to take on any kind of dragon and convert them into a favourite Viking friend?  We brushed up our skills on Sunday as a special dragon training camp that was held at a top-secret location (because you just never know where Mildew and his bad-tempered attempts at sabotage might pop up).

beth and HTTYD

Astrid 2.0 (otherwise known as dear daughter Beth) found the training to be an excellent opportunity to best a Gronckle and swap dragon yarns with the illustrious Gobber.  She was delighted to be certified as a Dragon Rider, and the past 3 days have been a nervous wait filled with anticipation for the best day of the year: November 12 – DRAGONS’ DAY.

DRAGONS BANNER

Astrid 2.0 loves Dragons. She especially loves viking dragons. She super especially loves Toothless, Stormfly, Cloudjumper and Hookfang.  In fact, the whole How to Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 crew is on her christmas card list.  It is How to Train Your Dragon 2 we are celebrating, because, TODAY, Dragons’ Day, the DVD is released, and that means we get to take the whole new expanded team home with us, to love and nurture, dream about and interact with whenever we want.

IMG_5055One aspect has me a little worried.  Astrid 2.0 seems to adore Valka more than any mother wants a child adoring an alternate mother figure. I have a feeling that were Valka to land in our front yard on Cloudjumper and ask to adopt her that I wouldn’t even get a goodbye!  Dragons – the ultimate mummy accessory around it seems.valka-cloudjumper-gallery

For those that have yet to see  How To Train Your Dragon 2, adults and kids alike will love it (trust me – I have seen it 4 times at the cinema and am quite anticipating our pre-order turning up today). Beware – for the littlies, there is a scene of sadness, with the passing of a character from the first movie.  I was taken aback the first time I saw it – not expecting a death, and Astrid 2.0, whom is 5, cried with true viking spirit. But there was context and made the finale a true celebration of success and community spirit, so she saw it for what it was – real life is not sanitised after all!   The sequel is a visual feast, with many new characters and wonderous locations, a treasure trove of fabulous new dragons, and we get to meet the greatest of all – the Bewilderbeast.

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Then of course, there is Valka, the ultimate mother-hero.  I absolutely love how the HTTYD storylines have strong, independent females: Astrid, Ruffnut, Valka.  They send out fabulous messages to all girls that they can be brave and fearless and still be female, respected and loved.  In fact, the whole gang is cool, slightly naughty and rebellious:  I love that the viking kids are growing up and continuing to solve their own problems as a team.  Perfect subliminal teachings for kids whilst they soak up the entertainment with a side dish of popcorn.

httyd team

Well – I wont spoil the story, now that the Dragons have returned, you can grab a copy and become immersed for yourself.  And then we can all start annoying Dreamworks for HTTYD3 – perhaps I can get a small cameo and win back my daughter!

Happy dragon training to all!

I, Toldyah.

This is an unpaid blog post celebrating a love my daughter and I share – dragons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where are my dragons?

It’s a common catch-cry these days, Where are my dragons?  Dany’s says it, Astrid says it, and now my own daughter says it.

Why are all these girls looking for dragons?  Because it has been SO LONG, so very, very long……. We have waited, and waited, and now, finally, I am able to report that DRAGONS HAVE BEEN FOUND.  Dragons – a modern, feisty, intelligent girl’s best friend.

Yes, they are returning to us, to be ours, to live in our homes, be part of our lives forever!  When, I hear you ask excitedly….  just a moment and I will reveal all!IMG_5039

We were lucky to be invited to a top-secret pre-return dragon training session today, were my own little Astrid wannabe was put through her paces in preparation for the dragons imminent return.  A session at the Viking Training Academy, where Gobber himself gave her the nod – she is READY, dragon rider certification is hers.

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Now all we need is a dragon – WHERE ARE THOSE PESKY DRAGONS????????

Dragons Day is this Wednesday, 12 November 2014, and on this day, the Dragons return.  Watch this site for more information.

In the meantime – here is the story of our last dragon encounter!  Here be dragons

Thundering Fun!

Anyone with a dinosaur obsessed child knows one thing…. the quickest way to their hearts is to find an experience that makes them think they are Indiana Jones on a quest. The biggest problem – here in Oz, dino adventures are pretty limited. We do the natural museums once a month or so, we visited the National Dinosaur Museum in Canberra, we saw Walking with Dinosaurs (the movie and the live show), both on multiple occasions! There is also the holy grail experience – a visit to Winton, home of the Aussie dinosaurs such as Kronosaurus and Muttaburrasaurus, and Lark Quarry Trackways: the original dino highway downunder! You can even play paleontologist up there – but sadly for young dino hunters, you have to be 18 to dig.

IMG_4913A chance to dig puts a sparkle in our dino explorer’s eye, so when we found an activity to dig for something precious on our Gold Coast holiday, we signed up immediately. Off we went to Thunderbird Park – about 30 minutes up in the mountain hinterland behind the Gold Coast near Mount Tamborine. There’s plenty of activities for all the family in the area, antique stores, gourmet ice cream and Devonshire teas, micro breweries, glow worm caves and nature walks. And of course, Thunderbird Park! Here you can have all sorts of fun, adventure activities like high ropes and laser tag, bird watching, and the piece de resistance…. THUNDER EGG FOSSICKING.

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Digging up the past. Gold and diamonds rolled into one for a junior paleontologist! A chance to carve the earth in search of treasure. Glory, glory, hallelujah. We went, we listened to the safety talk. We got kitted up (enclosed shoes are a must in case you drop a hard-won nugget of historical delight), and then off we went, up hill and over dale (well, over the gully, through the bush and up the side of the rocky outcrop). Past the most ginormous thunderegg you have ever seen (it’s too big to move)…the inspiration to find our own, smaller precious piece. And so began the great search, digging for round blobs of ancient history.

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Thunder eggs are hollow bubbles created when minerals crystallize around a steam bubble in cooling lava. The cooling causes minute cracks to occur, allowing silica-rich minerals to get inside, filling them with quartz, agate, amethyst, jasper and opalite. On the outside they look like boring round rocks. But on the inside is pure beauty. And to a dino hunter, a crystal egg from when dinosaurs roamed is almost like touching a T-Rex.

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We fossicked for around 90 minutes, half filling our buckets with work that whilst not chain-gang back-breaking, did allow us to eat a calorie-laden lunch without a second thought! Once back at the site office we waited with bated breath whilst the weird rocks we toiled for were picked over…. our hit rate: around 50% were thunder eggs. Not bad at all! We chose a couple to be cut (a separate cost) and again had the excited wait to see what our eggs contained. We were not disappointed – pretty pinks, maroons and blues were soon glittering before us. Our Indiana Jones Junior was in ecstasy!

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You can stay at Thunderbird Park if you would like to take more advantage of the facilities, or like us, meander back through the winding bush roads to Mount Tamborine for a heavenly Dutch lunch at the Dutch Cafe. Try on some wooden clogs if you like! BTW – for any aspiring rally drivers out there – the drive will be your own adventure into happiness!

PS – we just found out you can fossick for dino poop in the US – we are SO going to do that!

Author note – this is a free account of an experience from our annual holiday and is not sponsored in any way. Sharing experiences enriches all!