27 February 2013


Blogging from me is going to be hit and miss over the next few weeks as we are off on our next family adventure...Chile! 
My BUB (big ugly brother) is getting married to another gorgeous Monica and we certainly cannot wait to party South American style and sample the tastes and sounds and sights of Chile.
I'll try and update here if I can but if you want you can follow me on Instagram (I'm @madkatt) I'll be updating that with pics regularly!

Adios for now!

Chocolate Chip Lemon Muffins feat. Smartie

No not the lolly Smartie...our adopted half wild cat Smartie.
He couldn't stay away from the muffins so he's in this post.

These muffins are my go-to morning freak out muffins. Freak out as in look in the cupboard for kids lunch food and there is nothing except one dry cracker and a shriveled up apple. Yes in this house we do have days like that. Which is why I keep frozen berries in the freezer. And a handy dandy quick muffin recipe. *don't worry my kids get PLENTY of nutritional food!

Today's flavour come courtesy of needing to use up the one remaining lemon in the fruit bowl before heading off on our big Chile adventure tomorrow, and chocolate because who doesn't love chunky chocolate chips?

Here it is,

75g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
zest and juice of one lemon
 2 1/2 cups self raising flour
chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar and add lemon zest and beat until fluffy and light. Add eggs one at a time and then pour in the milk and lemon juice. Mix together.
Add the flour and chocolate chips and CAREFULLY fold it in until just incorporated. The biggest failure for muffins is overmixing so just have a gentle hand.

Makes 12 normal size muffins or 6 texas sized.
Bake for 20 mins in 180 deg C oven.

And if you like a heartwarming cat story here is Smartie's story of how he came into our lives.

This wee cat has our hearts. I've never been a cat person until now. 
We moved in almost a year ago to our new home in Katikati. The orchard holds a lot of lovely wildlife including pukeko, quail, pheasant, tui, kingfisher...the list goes on. We also discovered two tiny wee kittens that as the weeks went on it became obvious they were either wild or abandoned. They were scrawny and scared so they didn't venture too close to us. One day in the mail I got a free cat food sample and against all advice I decided to put it in a little bowl and see if the black kitten with little white socks who regularly watched us from the safety of the driveway would be tempted to eat it. Well it did. I figured it must be one hungry kitten (it turns out he's a pretty lazy hunter). So every day for 7 months he was fed to stop him from killing the native birds (rats were fine though) and we moved the bowl closer and closer to us until he was happily eating on the other side of the glass french doors as long as we stayed on the other side. By now I was CONVINCED he could be tamed and made to become used to us. It became my mission to have this cat let me touch it. Sitting at my computer doing my editing for the book gave me plenty of time to keep the french doors open and for him to hear my tap tap tap at the keyboard and the smell of the house. This went on for months and months and months. Every morning he would be there waiting for his food, and every day he would run away as soon as we got near. Taming a cat takes a REALLY REALLY loooonnnng time.

Then one day in November he was eating and I put my hand out to touch him. He jumped like I'd given him an electric shock. I tried again and he jumped again but he didn't move away. So I tried again, stroking down his back, and he started purring. I tell you, overnight he became a different cat. Within a week he was making himself at home, purring up against us, letting the kids even pit him on their lap. He nipped and clawed but so gently just like a kitten. This cat was suddenly a total softy. And he had us captivated. 

However, last month when we came back from Fiji he had disappeared completely. For over 3 weeks we searched for him around the orchard. I assumed perhaps he had been attacked by a dog or shot by the neighbouring orchard owners (they shoot wild cats down here) and Katie who had grown a huge attachment to Smartie cried herself to sleep every night and refused to let us mention his name. Until Monday.

Monday tea time and suddenly he was back. Skinny and scrawny and terribly hungry, and with an additional big scar on the side of his body. But he was back. Katie ran out to him and he nuzzeled against her, big fat happy tears rolling down her face. One of the best moments I've ever seen. Nothing quite compares to seeing that look on your kid. So he's back and more affectionate than before. But now we are leaving him for a few weeks so hopefully he won't run away again!
Now he's back the next job is to get him FIXED!

That's right you heard me, no more kittens in the orchard please!

21 February 2013

Chocolate Chippie Cookies

Ahh the Edmonds cookbook. Hands up who has one?
I was gifted one when Owen and I got engaged. It's a right of passage for anyone going flatting, or getting married to receive the bible of all New Zealand cookbooks. I've given a fair number as a housewarming gift or especially to a new family who have emigrated to New Zealand. The good old Edmonds Cookbook. Everyone needs one. 

A few years ago I used to read a blog about a woman that attempted to bake her way through the book, with some pretty funny and some great and some terrible results. I'm not going to try that but I thought I might share a few favourites over the next few months. It sure is a recipe book with a mostly fail safe simple way to find out how to make scones, pastry, hokey pokey, preserving, converting oven temperatures...and some rather less popular recipes such as sardine savoury.
My copy is a rather well worn one after 14 years but not as worn as my mothers.

I regularly use the cookie recipes as a base and add my own touches but this one here is a great recipe, which has been used so many times. I add dried fruit and sometimes peanut butter, but this week our pantry is a little sparse and I chucked in some sesame seeds with the chocolate. Just because.


125g butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
a few drops vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I like the large chunky ones)

Cream butter and sugar and condensed milk and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sift the flour and baking powder and add with the chocolate chips until well combined. Spoon onto lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 180 deg C.

The sweetened condensed milk gives a really lovely flavour. 

One of those days...

I woke up this morning with an instant sense of panic and disorder that failed to subside as the day progressed. It all started with a frantic dream where we turned up to the airport for our flight to Chile and I had left the passports at home. A two hour one way trip at home. Last week it was a dream about turning up without having packed our suitcases.
I'm obviously having sub conscious panic attacks about this impending trip and making sure we have everything together.

So the morning went on until Johnny couldn't find his schoolbag and after much searching and turning the house upside down he remembered he left it outside the school gates yesterday afternoon. He had wandered off from me and I had been spending a good portion of time looking around the school for him so in my relief (and anger) at finding him again the bag was left forgotten. Until this morning.
Leaving the house early so we could search for the bag, I prayed the entire trip it would be still sitting there having spent a lonely night on the side of the road. But it was gone. This is SUCH a hassle. We have a week to go, finances are tight and factoring in a new school bag, lunchbox, swimming gear etc was just something my brain is normally something I can take in my stride but right now my brain is not equipped to deal with it. A drive to Tauranga to replace them is a major pain in the neck. I packed him off to class, checked in with the office, scoured the lost property, no sign of any bag. So I drove home, rather hassled, flustered and dejected. I prayed that someone had found it and hadn't turned it into the office yet, I just really needed this small miracle to happen.
5 minutes later the school rang and told me a member of the public handed it in after rescuing the bag last night. My faith in humanity is restored and my faith in God remembering the little things which are important is renewed. I know some of you reading this might put it down to coincidence, perhaps so, but this for me is just what I needed this week, to be reminded that I'm not in control. Sometimes I need to let go and ride the wave...

09 February 2013

Lemon Drizzle Cake with Raspberries

As you may have noticed I have a love affair with lemons.
This cake continues that affair, but a little addition of raspberries.

This is very similar to a cake my mother always makes, its a family afternoon tea/picnic/quick knock-up cake staple and for me the lemon sugar drizzle on the top really finishes it off.

Here's the recipe.

125g butter
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 lemons, zested and juiced
175g self raising flour
1/4 cup raspberries (frozen or fresh)
50g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180 deg C.
Spray with oil or line a 20cm round cake tin, then place the raspberries around the base in any order you wish.  
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.
Slowly add the egg, alternating with the flour and then add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and half the zest. Mix until combined.
Carefully spoon the mixture over the raspberries and when complete smooth it down slightly with a spatula.
Bake in oven for 25 minutes.

Just before the cake is due to be removed carefully heat the remaining lemon juice and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. When you remove the cake carefully use a skewer to poke holes in the cake and then drizzle the lemon sugar mix over the top. The holes will allow the juice to run into the cake. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and leave cake to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin. 
Decorate with more raspberries.

This would be delicious served with some plain yogurt or whipped cream.

These are the best frozen ones to use! So yummy (the kids also love these as a snack in the their lunchboxes...pop them in frozen and by morning tea they're defrosted and juicy)

Linking in with this months Sweet New Zealand with Greedybread

05 February 2013


Here's the rest of my pics from our family get away in Fiji.

This our night out for my 33rd birthday. We caught the Bula Bus down to Port Denarau and had dinner outside at a restaurant on the dock, called Cardo's it served us $3 beers and plenty of good atmosphere. What a treat to sit in the beautiful warm evening and just enjoy each other. A nice stroll home in the dark, avoiding standing on frogs and finding frangipani flowers to put in our hair.
Ahhhh I'm wishing I was back there now!

Some lucky person got a romantic meal next to the water just outside our hotel room for their birthday (we heard them singing happy birthday). I wasn't jealous...not at all! ;)

04 February 2013

Strawberry Jam Slice

Back to school time!
This calls for some delicious, slightly healthy (?!?) and filling lunchbox items.

I've adapted this recipe slightly from the always wonderful The Pioneer Woman's Apricot Jam Slice, to be found here. I've used strawberry jam instead as I still have tons left from my pre Christmas strawberry jammin'. I also added in some dessicated coconut for flavour and because I think coconut and strawberry are a match made in heaven.

Maaaan, these smelled SO good while baking.

My version of the recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
200g butter, softenend
a jar of strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease a slice tin.
Combine the flour, oats, coconut, sugar and baking powder in a bowl. Add the butter and combine until the butter is well integrated into the mixture.
Press half of the mixture into the tin, press down well until its firm and even on the bottom. Spoon the jam over and spread until its an even thickness. I used about 1/2 of my large jar and was perhaps about 1cm thick.
Cover with the remaining oaty mixture, but there's no need to press down too hard.
Bake for 30 mins.
Cool in the tin before cutting and removing for storage. If you can wait that long...

I may or may not have eaten three while shooting the pictures.

*The long forgotten whiteboard has been retrieved from the garage and put into great use in the kitchen. In the absence of a pinterest trendy and cool blackboard this is working well for my recipes and messages to the kids. Messages such as be kind! no yelling! no hurting! ring out from it. Not sure if they are listening but I can always point them to the message board. Oh yes it most definitely IS the last day of the holidays!

02 February 2013


We are back from our family escape. And what an escape it was!

The heat was incredibly overwhelming, along with the humidity it was almost unbearable. So we spent our days in the shade and the pool, venturing out in the evenings when the sun wasn't so intense.

Buffet breakfasts in the resort restaurant, where the kids had their own special corner to get their food - their eyes bulged at the pancakes, fruit, yogurt, cereals, pastries, muffins and juices it was bliss!

We ventured out a couple of times to Nadi town, once with the kids who promptly fell apart in the blinding heat, so we hightailed it back with them to the resort to enjoy the air con and cooling water. The next visit Owen and I went on our own on the local bus ($1!) while the kids were at the resort's Kids Club, which was far easier but still blimming hot. We enjoyed the feel and atmosphere of Nadi, but I was shocked at the poor state of the town... it was a real contrast to the modern, clean and well stocked resort areas. We managed to find a shop which gave us a "real" Fiji experience by providing a kava drinking ceremony and charging us an exorbitant price for a couple of trinkets...hmmm I think some places could use a bit of work on their dodgey tourism. But those things aside the trip was a great success in that we spent time together as a family, we relaxed and we made ourselves experience something so different and slightly out of our comfort zone.

The simple things are often the best, and the fact we all got to spend such precious quality time with each other without any pressures was the best gift anyone could receive.

I'll leave you with the first of my photos...I'll finish the rest in another post.