Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin-Raisin Tea-bread (Or Muffins)

I love pumpkin and I have finally got my hubby to decide its not so bad after all, especially when it is roasted.
How ever if you grow pumpkins, (which we often do, by accident you know ... the seeds just sprout from the compost or an old hen run) what do you do with all that pumpkin once you have cut into it?

As long as you take the seeds out you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for quite a while. You can also de-seed it (making sure you have scraped out all the soft stringy center) and then if you cut it into serve-size pieces, you can freeze it without having to blanch it. Great for just grabbing a few and throwing them into the roasting pan with other roast veges and they only take about half an hour.

Another way is to use some in baking.

You first need to make some pumpkin puree. I just simply bake it in the oven in large hunks that have been de-seeded but not even peeled while cooking something else. (like a roast or casserole in a separate pan.)
Once cooled you peel the skin off and then can either puree it straight away or store it in the fridge for a few days.
I then puree it in my kitchen whiz (food processor).
You can use it for baking or either freeze it or store in the fridge for a few more days until you are ready to bake. In airtight containers.

This recipe can be made as a tea-bread or muffins and is lovely and moist.

1 cup caster sugar
125gr butter
2 large eggs
1 cup (250gr) cooked, pureed pumpkin (about 400gr raw)
Grated rind of 2 oranges
1 tsp vanilla essence
⅓ cup (60gr) raisins
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180°C and grease and line a 23 x 12 cm loaf tin.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and creamy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time and then gently beat in the pumpkin puree, orange rind and vanilla essence until just combined.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger and nutmeg and fold in with a wooden spoon (do not beat).
Gently stir in the raisins.
Spoon mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
Bake for I hour until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Transfer the tin to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before turning out on the rack to cool completely.

This mixture can be made into muffins…

Preheat the oven to 200 °C
Grease or line with paper cases, a twelve hole muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, grated rind and raisins together.
In a separate container melt the butter and beat in the eggs.
Then using a folk, beat in the pumpkin puree and vanilla essence.
Fold wet mixture into dry ingredients until a lumpy texture (Do not over mix)
Spoon mixture into the muffin tins/cases.
Bake for 15 mins or until golden and cooked through.

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Airport Trip With Nana

Jennifer was off to Christchurch for some work training so I was asked and willingly took up the request to look after her two adorable children until her hubby got home from work. She had said she would take a taxi to the airport but I thought it would be good for us all to go and see some aeroplanes and wave good-bye to Mummy as she flew out.

Waiting for Natalie to wake from her afternoon nap, Jacob had a few last snuggles with mummy and then we woke Natalie and she greeted me with some sweet smiles. It’s always something special when grandchildren become old enough to greet your sudden arrival or being there when they wake, with smiles or cuddles knowing that you are someone special in their family.

So we loaded the car seats into the back of the car, buckled the children in and off we went in the rain.

Once we arrived Jennifer set to checking her bag in and herself for a seat with one of her colleagues helping her at the self-check stands. The bag was then put on the conveyor belt next to one of the check in staff and one wonders why you would want to just use a machine instead of the pleasant check in stewards and so miss the personal touch and conversation.

There were plenty of ride-on coin machines to distract the children but after a quick try-out we went upstairs to settle in to aeroplane spotting.

Armed with snacks the children checked out the airport view windows and moved some square seats around for use as tumble blocks, seats, resting spots and height increasing props.

And then the call came out for Jennifer to board her plane. She hugged and kissed and waved to the children who seemed quite happy to send Mum off. 

I wondered how much they really understood.

We waited at the window and watched for her to emerge with others to walk the short distance to the boarding steps to the plane. She looked up and waved a couple of times and then seemed to be swallowed into the plane.

It seems forever when you wait but we waited patiently for the plane to do its thing and take off. There was even time for a starling (or maybe it was a blackbird) to have a little check out of the plane.

Finally, after a little plane was allowed to fly off first, her plane started up and headed out down the run way.

Jacob and Natalie hung from the window frames watching the plane taxi out and then almost disappeared off the end of the runway, but we could just see it turn and rev up its engines.

Then, although we couldn’t hear - you knew - that it took off with full power, throwing all its passengers back into their seats as it roared down the runway and launched itself in the sky at speed. Once airborne it seemed to slowly ascend and out of sight as it headed south to its destination.

I was unsure if the children really understood what had happened and that mum was in there and would be landing later that evening to begin a few days away, but soon returning after two “sleeps”. But as the saying goes out of sight - out of mind...

... They were soon distracted by all the slot games and activities and though we didn’t spend any money they were happy to play and ‘pretend’ they were shooting, driving and generally winning games.

I wasn’t quite sure if I would be able to draw them away but eventually they came with me back to the car and home to their place.

When I visited a few days later Jacob asked me
“Guess how Mummy came home?”
I answered, “In another plane.”
“No”, he replied “She came in a taxi”
Oh the simplicity of a child’s thinking.

After I had helped put the children to bed the first night and come all the way home, I was just jotting down in my diary what I had done that day and recorded “Took Jennifer to the airport….” And I suddenly thought ‘car-seats’. Hmm I don’t remember taking out the car seats. Sure enough I looked out the window in to the dark and saw that the seats were still in the back of my car…here in Tirau. Even though Jason and I had stood there discussing the dent in the front of my bumper that some angry man had kicked in we had never noticed the car seats.
So it was another trip to Hamilton to return them as they were needed the next morning.
I was able to climb into bed that night shortly after midnight!