Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Making a boob of it!!

I have a friend who works as a breastfeeding counsellor at the local hospital and they recently had an open morning to advertise their department internally within the hospital.

She asked if I could help her by making some relevant cupcake toppers. I thought long and hard about what sort of topper I could make: the obvious one would be to turn each cupcake into a boobie, but as she was making the cupcakes and I was busy the day before she needed them, the decoration had to be something I could make a few days before and that she could add to the cupcakes with a swirl of buttercream.

It is a little surprising (but maybe it shouldn't be) that there are a number of boobie cupcakes out there for inspiration! In the end, I opted for a scalloped circle of white fondant with a miniature pair of breasts on the top and a little flower for decoration. The hospital has patients from a wide range of ethnicities so I coloured up white fondant in three different shades of skin tone to reflect this. It was also one of those projects that I could put aside my normally over-zealous need to be a perfectionist and embrace the imbalance of nature, allowing the boobies to be all different sizes and shapes and no two to be the same. I finished them all off with a glamorous spritz of sparkle.

I have to say is was one of the most fun cake-related things I have made, providing me and everyone who saw them with a good chuckle. And they went down very well at the open morning, even encouraging people to pop along once word of them got out!


© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Microwave popcorn for the post-school ravenous hunger


Since Justin started school last week he has had a never-ending appetite from the moment I pick him up until he falls asleep exhausted at bedtime.

It is a tricky balance to find snacks that I am happy for Sophie and Justin to have - one or two biscuits is okay, just as fruit is, but not in the quantities they would like to eat to satisfy their hunger and not ever day.

I am always on the look out for healthy but filling snacks. This week I remembered I had popping corn in the cupboard and decided to have a go at making popcorn in the microwave (since I find when I cook it in a saucepan the oil always creates a slightly burnt on layer on the bottom of the pan and is a pain to clean off!)

I used a Pyrex bowl and lid, put enough popping corn to cover the bottom and set the time for 2 minutes. It took a bit of time for the corn to start popping but it worked a treat and I took it out after the 2 minutes. Don't be tempted to leave it any longer as the popped corn burns very easily. I removed the popped corn from the bowl and put the un-popped kernels back into the microwave for another round of popping. After another 2 minutes about 90% of the corn had popped which was great.

The kids are happy eating plain popcorn so there was no need to add any salt/sugar/other flavourings and they were very happy munching away and it really did satisfy their post-school ravenous hunger without filling them up.

So I am happy to report that microwave popcorn is possible, produces a very healthy snack and provides the right amount of energy to keep them going until dinnertime. It is also a great snack for packed lunches. Success!
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Kuih Jala (or net cake)

We went to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo for our summer holiday this year, and while we were there we visited the Mari Mari Cultural village. It was really good - interesting and fun for both adults and children. There were various cultural demonstrations and one of these was making Kuih Jala or net cake.

Sophie and Justin just couldn't get enough of these yummy biscuits and when I got home I did a little research and found out what they were called and how to make them: mysabah.com has a great page all about them - Kuih Jala (Net Cake), fun to make & good to eat:

"Kuih Jala is a famous snack found in Malaysia. “Kuih” means Cake and “Jala” means Net in Malay language, so it is literally translated to “Net Cake”. It is named after the pattern that looks like net.


However, the most interesting aspect of Kuih Jala is not how it tastes, but how it is made. It is really fun to watch the making of Kuih Jala.

The materials are simple, just mix rice powder with sugar and water until the mixture becomes dense and gluey. Put the mixture inside a coconut shell that is poked with many small holes underneath. Then move the shell container quickly over the hot cooking oil. The mixture will drip into the oil like thread. Move the shell in circular motion for a few seconds, until the mixture forms a plate-like layer on the oil. 
When the sizzling stops and the kuih turns yellowish, use sticks to fold the kuih into triangle shape. If you are highly-skilled, you can roll it into tube shape."

I bought some rice flour and had a go at making these. They were relatively simple but quite time consuming in cooking (a lot like cooking pancakes) and the biggest problem was finding something to replicate the coconut shell with holes in. I used a conical strainer that had about 10 holes in the bottom and swirled the batter around enough for it to pour out in almost strands into the frying pan.

I don't have a wok so cooked my version of Kuih Jala in a simple frying pan. This meant they didn't cook evenly and some parts were very well done while others were still white but overall, for a first attempt, the Kuih Jala came out okay and they tasted good which is all that really matters. They didn't last long and were fun to make!
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Autumn is here!

The summer weather finished the week the children went back to school and since then there is no denying, with the rain and wind and chilly weather, that Autumn is here.

With that in mind, it was time to take down my summer wreath hanging outside my front door and make it autumnal. I had envisaged adding some lovely maple leaves but I only have small leaf die-cutters so I cut a selection of these out in red and various shades of orange foam. I then tucked these into the wreath as though they had blown into it. 
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

It feels a very long time since I wrote a blog and the whole of July and August have just disappeared in a flash!

It was a busy summer - we went on holiday during the summer holidays for the first time ever and then we only had three and a half weeks at home before school started again. And my little boy started school last week - a very proud but sad day for us. It is going to take me some time to get used to an empty house five full days a week although it does mean I can get on with writing up all those blog posts I've got lined up.
So here is the first one. A quicky about lemons just for my sister who always has hot water and lemon first thing in the morning ...

For some reason before we went on holiday I had quite a few lemons in the fridge and after a little research I discovered that lemons can be frozen. I sliced the lemons and laid them on a baking tray then popped them in the freezer overnight. I then put the frozen slices into a bag ready for use. 
The frozen slices are perfect for a healthy lemon tea or hot water and lemon - I can take a slice from the freezer, drop it into my freshly made tea and the frozen lemon cools the hot tea to the perfect temperature for drinking. So simple!
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.