Monday, February 14, 2011

The Easiest Birthday Cake Ever!

Okay, so this happens to be the slackest cake I have ever made, but you know what, I don't care! It was delicious (so they tell me, I couldn't eat it, not gluten free), took no time or baking to make, and a child could do it!

It's nothing new - has been around since chocolate ripple biscuits first hit the supermarkets...

Chocolate Ripple Cake:

600ml cream
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
 2 x 250g packet Arnott’s Choc Ripple Biscuits
grated chocolate or cocoa powder, to decorate
raspberries or seasonal berries to decorate


  • Place cream, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat using an electric beater until stiff.
  • Spread a little of the cream onto the base of a serving plate. Spread one biscuit with 1 ½ teaspoons cream then sandwich with another biscuit.  Top with another 1 ½ teaspoons cream then place biscuits on their side onto the serving plate. Repeat until all biscuits have been used and form a log.
  • Spread remaining cream over log to cover entirely. Cover loosely with foil, then place in refrigerator for a minimum of 6 hours to set.
  • Just before serving,dust log with cocoa or sprinkle with grated chocolate if desired. Cut cake diagonally into slices. Serve with seasonal berries.
To add some tempting twists to the cake:
  • Brush the biscuits with your favourite liqueur, or strong coffee, before sandwiching together.
  • Make a chocolate cream by adding some cocoa or finely grated dark chocolate or cooled melted chocolate into the whipped cream before sandwiching together.
  • Decorate the cake with chocolate curls.
  • Replace vanilla with 1 tsp of espresso or strong coffee or your favourite liqueur such as Irish cream, hazelnut or citrus liqueur. 
  • Replace raspberries with sliced banana.

I know, I know, not exactly homemade, but for a teenager's birthday party - it didn't matter. It was chocolate, it was cream, it was delicious...all good in the eye's of seven 14 year olds...

Brotherly love...

Two beautiful boys, 15 years apart, enjoying brotherly time and hot chocolates....

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's for Dinner Tonight

I had eggplants in the fridge, grown by my friend Rhiann, and many little Lebanese Eggplants in the garden. I had to use them soon, so I'm thought,I'll do an Eggplant Lasagne.

I think we need to eat lot less meat.We eat it most days, and I don't think that it's a good idea, but I'm also trying to eat more protein. So I'll add beans.

So this is what I came up with, and it was delicious:

Angie's Gluten Free Eggplant Lasagne (Makes 6 big serves with leftovers)
3 medium sized eggplants(or equivalent in Lebanese eggplants)
800gram tin of Tomatoes
3 Tbsp of Tomato paste
A large bottle of Tomato Puree (about a litre)
400 gm tin of haricot beans(drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp basil pesto(or you could just use basil)
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 cup of ricotta cheese
1 cup of cottage cheese
1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2Tbsp cream
Gluten Free lasagne sheets

Start by slicing the eggplant about 1cm thick. Heat the oven to 200C. Place the eggplant slices on a baking tray that has been sprayed with oil.Then spray the top of the slices. I don't salt and rinse the eggplant when it is young and tender. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Start the tomato sauce by sauteing the onion. When it has softened add the tinned tomatoes,paste and puree. Let it cook for a few minutes then add the beans and pesto.Season to taste. Let it simmer for at least half an hour.

Mix the cheeses and cream and egg ina bowl.If the consistency is too thick, add some more cream or milk.
Assemble the lasagne like so:

Cover the bottom of you lasagne tray with tomato sauce. Follow that with a layer of lasagne sheets. Then top that with more tomato sauce and a layer of eggplant. Top that with more sauce and then finish with the cheese mixture.

Bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned.

It was delicious and well received by the whole family. And there's even leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.

Friday, February 4, 2011

What NOT to say to someone who has miscarried a baby

I know most people mean well, but having been through this experience and talked to others who have, I have learned that some comments are less than helpful and some are just plain hurtful.

If you are theatre nurse, when a woman comes round from the anesthetic, and she's sad because her baby has just been sucked from her body, please don't tell her it was probably for the best, that the baby was probably chromosomally abnormal. It won't help. Would you say that to someone who lost a loved one? I hope not.

Please don't tell her,"At least you can get pregnant". Yes, she got pregnant, but her baby is now gone, and it is no consolation.

When she is feeling her grief, struggling to make it through the day, please don't tell her, "Things can only get better". That may be true, but at that time, it doesn't feel that way. It won't bring her baby back.
Here's a quick list of some of the other things you should not say:

Be grateful for the healthy children you've got.( I am, but they can't replace the little one I lost.)
You need to move on. (Do I? Perhaps, right now, I need to grieve.)
You can try again.(Can I? Perhaps this is true, but it won't bring back the baby I lost.And there are no guarantees.)
These things happen.(Yes, but it doesn't make me feel any better.)
It's nature's way.(So what?That doesn't make it right or easy or acceptable.)
It is very common.(That really doesn't make me feel any better).

Instead, you might give her a hug and tell her that you are sorry for her loss. You might say,"Call me when you are ready to talk". You could send a beautiful card and say you are thinking of her often, and sending extra love, suggesting you might like to make a remembrance cake and add a layer for her lost little one. You might ask if you could take the other children so she and her husband could have some time together.

And, please, when her due date approaches, be aware that the grief will still be immense and difficult to carry. She might need extra love and understanding.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A quiet home and an aching heart

 The school gates are open, the summer holidays are over, so the girls are at school, Mike and Guthrie are at work, and the house feels so quiet with just me and the little boy. He seems to have grown in leaps and bounds over the six week break. He is able to make himself understood much more easily now. He no longer has his beloved "boozee" (breastmilk) to help him through his day and night, he is pretty well toilet trained and has started choosing what he would like to wear every day. He's not a baby anymore.
 So, his change table has been moved out in favour of a little wardrobe - pieced together using an old "meat-safe" and a bamboo pole as a clothes rail!
 He sleeps in a little bed, but still visits mummy's bed at night.
But for all intents and purposes, he needs me less and less. Which is okay. It is the way it should be.
It feels hard, I think, because I had other plans for this year which just couldn't come to fruition. I was hoping to be busy readying our home and family for the arrival of a baby in July. Now that the baby is gone, everything feels strange.
So, with an aching heart, I made this little alter for our baby, the one who is missing from this family. I light a candle, and I tell the baby that s/he is loved, and can come home to me, whenever the time is right. The flame of hope flickers, because I'm not yet ready to give away the change table. It's going into storage for now...