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Thursday, September 22, 2011

On the spring beach of my soul

I was up north last weekend (long w/e; might have been Weds through Monday inclusive...) for a late birthday present for the mother, a final breath of fresh air for me, and to let Trouble meet his...uncle?  The parents new puppy at any rate - a wee miniature schnauzer with the most adorable elfin face.  The dogs wore each other out completely and now Trouble is bored in my small house and yard with only a grumpy cat (who acts more like a dog than any I have ever seen, despite Trouble's lamentations, Logan does actually play with him a lot) - and missing his Nanna's premium dog food.

So that's why I've been quiet (bar scheduled internet awesomesauce); I only booted up the beast to transfer songs for their new iPad (*grumble*) and that was it.  It was beautiful.  There's just something about being at The Beach that soothes my brain.  My eyelid didn't twitch once while I was away, and first day back it was hammering out the Morse code again like crazy.  Sigh.

Drove to Rotorua on the Friday to pick up the father from a work do, then carried on up to Tauranga to visit their new Spotlight and Cafe 88 at the Mount (there's a personal connection, and I have heard so much about it, but was the last family member to actually get there); absolutely moan-inducingly good food (New fabric and Coffee/Food; you can't say our priorities aren't in order).

The fabric hunting resulted in the sewing up of two new skirts on the Sunday (I swear Mum's sewing room has time slowers on it - the machines all permanently set up and the overlocker already threaded with white (don't ask how many times I have broken Mum's machines with my overenthusiasticness; its embarrassing.) make so much more possible in a shorter timespan), which I haven't even had a chance to iron yet, but how darling is the strawberry print?!  And the floral prints in this season are just making me swoon - I'm a plannin' a new quilt project for Chrissie! (which is only a short week this year, what with all that stuff happening that we aren't going to talk about right now *coughthesisfinishingcough*)
The weird looking foot?  Not mine...

We picked up some Heilala natural Vanilla extract at a gourmet food market in Tauranga on the Friday as well, and Mum and I experimented with it for the rest of the weekend - Mum whipped up a vanilla polenta and almond meal cake the first night, then vanilla sponge topped bottled peach and black plum pudding the next (her own bottling, of course), and then I made wee vanilla cupcake-type-things (think muffin pan, only half rounds instead of cup depressions.  I'm sure it has some fancy name) with a drop of vanilla glaze and a couple of shards of sliced almond to garnish.  Brilliant good fun.  

The (bee keeping) brother came up on Friday night, and Saturday's roast dinner was like a lab meeting - talking about bees.  God but that was an epic roast too - I miss being a kid!  (If there's one thing I have never been able to do in the kitchen, its cook a decent roast - I just don't have the spark.  Give me a good juicy bit of steak and I'll sear off the edges and have it hot and bloody on your plate in no time, but ask a roast of me?  No show, I'm afraid.)

Back to the baking - we found the vanilla to have a nicer flavour - but to be less intense than the fake stuff we all bake with normally.  You need to use at least twice as much of the real to get the same intensity of flavour - but the subtlety of it, and the obviously natural kick, was sublime.  Pity I have to go back to imitation till I am rich and successful. (Science, Ha!)

I snuck several jars of Dad's bottled passion fruit out of the preserves cabinet (how unfair is it that they can even grown passion fruit vines up there?!) and cracked one open tonight to make The Baby One's birthday cake for tomorrow.
Basic pound cake with the preserve beaten into the creamed butter/sugar/egg, then glazed with warm butter and more preserve icing, and then topped with some leftover raw preserve for colour and the final intense smack-in-the-face-of-flavour.  Excessive?  Never!  Smelling like heaven?  Absolutely! (and I'm not a big fan of the passion at all - its the little seeds, they weird me out).
My bundt pan is shit, so it looks like a ring instead, so lets go with that - look at my perfect cake ring! Heh.  The cream cheese pound cake turned out to be such a new favourite of mine, I hope this new plain pound cake recipe is just as good.  Though I'm teaching in the morning, so I might have to fight for a crumb.

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