April 23, 2014


I HAD A BOSS with a seriously sweet tooth. For a fit bugger, he could be brought to his knees with a jar of jelly beans and would swing you a pay rise on the promise of sponge cake with jam and real cream.
The Fielder's 'Famous' Sponge Cake Recipe would have, no doubt, tempted and according to Wheat Industries Australia's booklet of recipes, using Fielder's cornflour would have won 'me honours for my beautifully light sponge'. I wonder if Fielder's was the secret to the winning entry at this year's Sydney Royal Easter Show or whether it gets a mention in the recently launched Blue Ribbon Recipes: Prize winning recipes from the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Either way, an oldie is a goodie and with a birthday in our household today, I'll get my sponge-making mojo on and give this one a try.
#opshopscore // Fielder's Cornflour recipe book
(no date specified but pre-decimal Australian), 50c church op shop

April 22, 2014


THE children's reader How a Seed Grows is one of 48 books from the 1960s series 'Let's Read and Find Out'.
The books are still published by Harpers Collins but the story and illustrations have changed. Personally, I favour the na├»ve black and white illustrations and simple text from my copy; found in an op shop among a collection of old primary school library books all marked 'disposed'.
Was How a Seed Grows in your primary school library? What were the readers back in your day?
#opshopscore // How a Seed Grows, $1, Fairhaven Op Shop

April 21, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | at nana's house we find books
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | at nana's house we draw with chalk
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | at nana's house we read stories
AT NANA'S house we pull out all the books from the bookshelf, then we draw pictures with chalk and then we go back and read our very favourite book. We do lots and lots and lots at Nana's house.
Then, we go home and Nana Wana and Nana Crackers have a loooong lie down.

April 13, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || last of the summer harvest
I AM missing my summer harvest already. This is the last of it. Sigh. There's a little bit of basil left, plenty of parsley to keep us going through to winter and self-seeded rocket that will make it up before the cold really hits. Asparagus and artichokes doing well but not enough for a decent feed yet.
Have you harvested all of your summer crop?
What's going in for winter?

April 08, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || The Commonsense Cookery Book collection

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || The Commonsense Cookery Book and gem scones

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || a recipe for gem scones
I'VE written about my Commonsense Cookery Book collection before. There's the 1978 versions of books No.1 and No.2. There's a 1964 version, which contains my favourite advertisements and graphics, and my pre-World War II version, dating back to 1939.
The books are my go-to for old favourites like pikelets and scones and rock cakes and was where I hunted down a recipe - three actually - for gem cakes this past weekend. I bought a gem cake pan for $4 at an op shop weeks ago and used all three of my Commonsense Cookery Books to work out how to use it. Gem cake pans, or gem irons are, as the name suggests, made of cast iron and mine dates bake to the days of wood-fired stoves - as does my oldest Commonsense Cookery Book.
In the 1939 edition, the recipe for gem scones calls for plain flour and lists rising agents, along with a 'gill' of milk. The method fails to mention pans need to be greased and is pretty loose about the oven temperature. "Hot" is all it offers. Back in 1939, any owner of the Commonsense Cookery Book was supposed to know exactly what to do with the listed ingredients and meagre method.
The 1964 book uses self-raising flour, but again calls for a "hot" oven. A "greased pan" is described but it's not until the 1970s that more precise descriptions are used, including oven temperatures.
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || 100 years of The Commonsense Cookery Book
With three editions, a vintage gem pan and my modern kitchen I did succeed in baking gem scones. They're a lovely little light scone that's just the right size to pop in the mouth, hot or cold, and best served with a steaming cup of tea. I can't find any description of how they're supposed to be eaten but we dolloped jam on top.
If you wish to secure your own copy of the Commonsense Cookery Book, you'll have no trouble finding it. It's been in print continuously for the past 100 years, with a centenary edition out this year.

April 05, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | Foxs Lane vintage pillow slips
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | #pinmway vintage pillow slipshttp://www.pinterest.com/pin/44262008807784286/I HAVE been scouring the op shops for a vintage single bed cover that's 'just so'. I have a vision and nothing will sway me from it. It's for a room filling up with sugar and spice and all things nice for the little visitors to our house. I haven't found the cover just yet, or the other linens of my imagining, but I know they're out there. In the meantime, I am collecting a rather lovely stash of vintage pillow slips.
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | vintage pillow slips
An eagle eye
An op shop, or a few
A fist full of coin
Make some time to scour your local op shops. You might want to take an op shopping buddy and make a morning of it. Head to the linens section and rummage.
You'll often find single pillow slips so decide whether you're fussy about not having a matching pair.
Pop your finds into your basket and head to the counter knowing you've got a lovely new pillow slip and you're helping a worthy cause (most op shops fund social services).
Take your slips or linen home, fill a bucket with warm water, add a lid of Napisan and a splash of household bleach and leave to soak overnight.
Rinse and wash on a normal cycle.
Hang to dry, admire on the line, bring in and pull onto your pillow ready for a pretty night's sleep.
#pinmyway image source // Foxs Lane
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March 31, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | thai chicken cashews and basil rice

NOW, this is an exciting rice recipe.

My thrifted, 1961, Reader's Digest supplement, 60 Exciting Rice Recipes, boasted the gag-worthy Ham 'N' Rice Ring, with accompanying photo of the Spam-speckled, moulded rice dish and spoonful of boiled peas heaped in the middle for further gag inducement. Exciting? Nuh-uh.

There were a few mildly titillating nods to the grand rice eating populations of Asia with a 'Bengal Rice Curry' - the exotic ingredients being curry powder and an apple - and a double page of Chinese dishes that would have made any rural Chinese takeaway a little nervous about what the good folks of their town could now cook at home. Again, the 'exciting' exotic ingredients extended to soy sauce and pineapple, with the curry powder making an appearance again in a 'Chinese Style Curry' - don't ask, just assume cornflour makes an appearance.

Now, my own Thai flavours are none too fancy, but thank goodness things have moved on a bit and we can now get interesting and sometimes exciting ingredients from most suburban supermarkets. And, should you be hunting for a quick and easy TV dinner, here it is. Happy fast, 'exciting' weekday cooking to you all.

1/4 cup peanut oil
1 medium brown onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 red bird eye red chillies, seeds removed and chopped finely
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or finely grated tab of palm sugar
500g chicken thighs, cubed
1 small red capsicum, cut into strips
two handfuls green beans, topped and tailed and cut into similar size lengths as the capsicum
150g unsalted, whole cashews
4 cups cooked long grain or jasmine rice (about 1 1/3cup dry rice)
20ml fish sauce
20ml soy sauce
shake of oyster sauce
Good size handful of torn basil leaves, Thai basil if you have it but I used ordinary basil

Cook the rice and leave to drain and cool a little.
Prepare all other ingredients ready to be tossed into your stir fry,
In a wok, or frying pan, heat the oil. Toss in the onion, chillies and garlic and fry off until the onion is soft.
Add the sugar and dissolve.
Add the chicken and stir fry until browned.
Add the capsicum, beans and cashews and stir fry until vegetables are glossy.
Add the rice and toss through all ingredients.
Add the sauces all at once and again toss through all ingredients.
Add the basil and toss once more.
Serve, and enjoy with a cold beer.

March 30, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | tulips in vienna
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | cafe culture in vienna
katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com | building details in vienna

IT'S been a topsy turvy month. An overseas work trip (don't go skipping ahead to see where) was a highlight but added pressure to finish things at the office and home. Needless to say, there has been plenty to do in the weeks since I've been back, and the last days of March have found me trying to calibrate and plan for the month ahead. There are a couple of volunteer projects, an autumn garden to prepare, planned autumn crafts, Easter, and, fingers crossed, a wee break at the end of the month.

I READ: Can you claim listening to a book as reading? I will. I listened to the final chapters of The Book Thief while walking the dog yesterday.

I WENT TO: Vienna. Yup. The work trip was to Vienna.

I LISTENED TO: After a podcast hiatus, I'm back on the 'walking and listening' bandwagon. Some people listen to pumping music to get their heart rate up while walking. I tend to ramble along listening to people spill forth with ideas. My most recent ramble was to Costa Georgiadis talking to Margaret Throsby on ABC RN's Midday

I ATE: You saw that I went to Vienna, right? (I know, I thought I'd just let that one sit there for a moment). When you're in Vienna you have to eat Austrian food. That means strudel, Wiener melange coffee, Sachertorte, beautiful breads, you name it. If it was baked, I ate it. Seriously, cake is a food group in Austria.

I SAW: Hours and hours and hours and hours on a plane means you're at the mercy of the in-flight entertainment. I have never watched so much film and television in one sitting but I did get to catch up on several years worth of movie going. I saw Blue Jasmine, Gravity, August: Osage County and the entire current season of Dowton Abbey. My pick was definitely August: Osage County.

I MADE: It home. Honestly, there's no place like home.

March 27, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || 60 Exciting Rice Recipes cover

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || 60 Exciting Rice Recipes inside spread
HOW'S your week going? Resorted to TV dinners yet?
#opshopscore // 60 Exciting Rice Recipes
(a 1961 Rice Marketing Board supplement to Reader's Digest),
$1, Long Jetty junk shop

March 23, 2014


katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || #pinmyway make a happy days sun
 I HAVE four Pinterest boards, two of which are inspiration for things I'd like to make and do and things I'd like to cook and eat.

I figured pinning was one thing, but actually 'making and doing' and 'cooking and eating' were another thing entirely so I am pulling out some of these pins and having a crack at them myself.
Pin My Way, or #pinmyway for those who like the idea and might want to play along, is my real life making of the things I've pinned.
This happy sun was modified for a Girl Guide project, teaching Junior Guides - members aged between seven and 10 - about the organisation's values. Girl Guides promise to live by a code, including the idea that they "be friendly to others". The sun's rays detach and at the start of each day, or week, as the sun comes up - a lovely golden orb in the sky - the girls add a peg for each time they added a little ray of sunshine to another person's day. For those who used to be a Girl Guide or Scout it's similar to the idea of a Good Turn. Lots of rays, and that's a lot of kindness and happiness lighting up the world.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || #pinmyway hang a happy days sun
Paper plates
Yellow paint
Crepe paper cut into streamers and cut again into 30-40cm lengths, or streamers cut into similar lengths
Wooden pegs
Felt tip pens
Cut the paper plates into halves, and give one half to each person making a sun.
Paint one side of the paper plate half yellow and allow to dry.
Paint wooden pegs yellow and allow to dry.
Cut lengths of the streamers and glue to the back of the paper plate so they hang down from the cut half. Allow to dry.
Draw a happy face onto the right side of the paper plate.
Attach your pegs, or rays, for each act of kindness you do for someone else.

#pinmyway image source // A Little Delightful