Summer jewel salad

I love summer salads – fresh and juicy and bursting with flavour. The perfect accompaniment to Aussie bbq’s.

This is a super simple one and so pretty to look at … William thinks the seeds look like jewels and I tend to agree!

  • 3 cups baby spinach leavesNovember 2014 042
  • 2 small, ripe mangoes, diced
  • 2 small, ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lime juice.

Mix all ingredients together and serve cold.


Mulberry Jam

I should start this post by saying that I am a total jam novice …. this is my first ever go at making jam but it was much less scary than I thought and it tastes so yummy that I am inspired to make more.

I am very fortunate that my parents-in-law have a sprawling, very heavily laden mulberry tree in their backyard, so picking over 2kg of berries to have a go was very easy (and fun!).

I have made this one with quite ‘Christmassy’ flavours so it is another great gift to give for teachers  (or even those great Aunts and second cousins once removed that are really tricky to buy for 😉 )

  • 1.3kg Mulberries
  • 1.5kg jam setting sugar (made by CSR, it already has some pectin in it)
  • finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
  • 1 heaped tsp of ground cinnamon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 8-10 glass jars, scrubbed clean

Wash berries and drain very well. Remove any obvious stems and place in a large saucepan.

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Crush with a potato masher. How much you crush depends on how smooth or lumpy you like your jam … I like some lumps so I didn’t mash too much.

Tip in the zest, juice and cinnamon and mix well.

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Turn on the stove to a low heat and add the sugar.

Stir continuously over low heat, until ALL of the sugar has dissolved.

Turn up the stove to a high heat and bring to a rolling boil. And continue the boil for 4 minutes.

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Remove from the heat.

During these 4 minutes boil the kettle and soak the jars and lids in the boiling water. Dry the outside of the jar with a clean tea towel.

As soon as you have removed the jam from the heat, use a jug, like a pyrex style measuring jug to scoop out the jam and pour it into the jars. Please be very careful with this part … it is a really hot mixture and you will need to protect your hands.

Fill the jars, place the lids on and immediately invert them. Allow them to stand upside down for an hour. This allows the jars to reseal and keeps them airtight.

Then turn the jars up the right way and wipe them … it is a messy process! Allow to cool and set overnight – don’t put them in the fridge as you might crack the glass. Only use jars with a plastic lid if you are going to use it straight away or if you have jam seals underneath.

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You can easily decorate the jars to give as gifts. We did a pretty label and some glossy red and green bows. They look great!

He has waited a looong time for this jam!
He has waited a looong time for this jam!

Stained Glass gingerbread

One of my favourite things to do leading up to Christmas is baking!! The kids enjoy helping and sharing their spoils too.

This year my William is in kindergarten and has asked to take in Christmas treats for all of his little friends, and I was on roster to do craft for the kids at our Bible study break up … so I made a (huge!) batch of Libby’s yummy gingerbread and we turned them into stained glass biscuits. Fun to make for the kids, yummy to eat and they make lovely presents with a bit of cellophane and bright ribbon!

Please note that the gingerbread recipe itself is soy free but there is a small amount of soy in the only boiled lollies I was able to find, so the stained glass part is not soy free.

You will need 2 packets of boiled lollies and gingerbread as per this recipe:

Split the colours of the lollies up into bags then smash them up on a hard surface with a hammer. Best to have a tea towel folded around the bags so stop all spillage if you split the bags!

4-crushed lollies

Remove the gingerbread dough from the fridge and cut out the gingerbread shapes.

On a lined baking tray (it must be lined with baking paper and not just greased as the boiled lollies will stick like rocks without the baking paper!) place the shapes and then use an apple corer (or similar) to cut out holes.

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Fill the holes with the crushed lollies – careful not to overfill them as they will turn to liquid and overflow during baking!

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Bake in a moderate oven for about 10-15 mins or until golden brown.

Leave them to cool for at least 15 minutes on the tray before attempting to remove them to a wire rack – the liquid ‘glass’ centre needs time to harden and stick to the biscuit.

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Allow to cool completely before wrapping and sharing as gifts … or enjoying at Christmas parties 🙂

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Merry Christmas (and Royal Icing Recipe)

I love gingerbread and when put in house form with royal icing, it’s even better. Since making one a year at church Christmas events a number of years ago, I’ve tried to make one each year for our family. This year I happened to be in Ikea and checked their ingredients on their gingerbread house kits – no egg and no dairy! So I grabbed it – not having to make a house myself this year was very enticing!

[Please note that the tags for this post are to do with the royal icing not the house.]

Ingredients list (apologies for the depth of field blur!)

The next issue was the royal icing – I love its lemon tang but it’s traditionally made with egg whites so I needed a replacement. I could have used No Egg but I wasn’t sure how it would go so I had a search online and found that someone else had done the experimenting for me. She decided that the glycerine worked better in the hardening factor – rather essential for a gingerbread house (less so for just decorating cookies) and since I had some in the cupboard, that’s what we went for. I did also look up whether or not it was safe to be eating something I’ve always just used in making homemade bubble mix or on dry skin but I guess if you can use it on your lips, it’s ok to ingest too!

Here’s the recipe:

Mine ended up slightly more runny than I wanted it but it still worked well, even for attaching decorations

The BBC’s egg free royal icing

500g / 1lb 2 oz icing sugar (You can use icing mixture too)
2 lemons
3 – 4 teaspoons glycerine

Sift the sugar into a the bowl of a mixer.
Juice and strain the lemons.
Beating continously, gradually add the juice and glyercine to the sugar

Sourced at:
Originally sourced at: (link now defunct)

I halved this recipe and had enough for my house and decorating with a little left over.

My main tips for construction are to build the walls and wait a while for them to set before putting the roof on. Ensure you’ve reinforced the inside corners with extra icing. Hold the roof pieces for a few minutes until you are sure they won’t slide.

Construction complete. Next time I will put the chimney together and then attach it to the roof instead of trying to do both at once.

Our decorations are dairy, egg, and nut free (and quite a few are wheat free too) – skittles, musk sticks, mint leaves, jelly babies, licorice (black and strawberry), marshmallows and edible glitter.

Decorating with edible glitter!
The final product and my cheeky monkey sneaking into view 🙂

Wishing you a Merry Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour. I’ll have a blogging break until late January.

Gingerbread Cookies


I love cooking gingerbread at Christmas time. I am looking forward to making a gingerbread house with my kids soon too! I’ve adapted an already adapted recipe based on Sheriden Rogers ‘Entertaining at Home’ (1994 p143 – I think!) that my friend gave me. After the results of my recipe, I can only imagine how yummy the ‘normal’ version is. The kids loved helping with the cookie cutters.

This gingerbread is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s hard to even tell it doesn’t have ‘normal’ ingredients in it. This is a big amount of dough so I usually divide it in half and get about 50 small cookies (I use the Tupperware cookie cutters as pictured).

250g dairy free spread
185g brown sugar
2 eggs worth of egg replacer
300g honey
750g plain g.f. flour
pinch salt
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 tsp bicarbonate of soda dissolved in
125ml boiling water

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius (325F)
Cream dairy free spread and sugar until light and fluffy (use a large bowl and a mixmaster/kitchenaid is best)
Beat in egg replacer
Add honey and mix
Sift together dry ingredients and then add to mixture in parts alternating with dissolved bicarb soda
If dough feels too soft, add a bit more flour
Refrigerate for 2 hours – overnight
Roll dough out and cut out with cookie cutters
Place on trays with baking paper lining
Cook until lightly browned (about 20min)
Remove from oven but leave on tray for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack.

Tips – I found the dough got easier to work with after it had been out of the fridge for a couple of minutes.
– If you are using normal flour you might need a bit more to make it into a dough. When I made it this week, I had to add quite a bit. I would add more of the spices next time too.