The last 10 days in instagram pictures

Are we there yet?

I’m not on bed rest (thank goodness!) but I have been ordered by my doctor not to do anything more energetic than a walk. Maybe she knows me too well… she specifically told me I’m not allowed to clean the house or start emptying cupboards. So I’m all ironed up and feel like I should be bouncing off the walls. But at 37 weeks pregnant, I’m fighting a persistent head/ chest cold and playing the waiting game… I’m continually tired and carrying what feels like an energetic and very uncomfortable bundle of elbows and knees.

Munchkin is running out of room and I’m running out of patience with being pregnant. But we have managed to get some stuff done!

Munchkin's nursery (temporary)

We set up Munchkin’s temporary nursery. The rest of her furniture will arrive in a couple of months. But for now, we have everything she needs to start life. All of her clothes are washed and ready and she finally has her own space in the house which feels nice.

Munchkins bassinet in our room

The reason we’re not overly worried about her nursery is that she’ll be sleeping in with us for the first few months. We’ve her Leander cradle all ready and waiting for her arrival.

Munchkin shoes, cut out

On the days my brain works, and when I’ve not been trying to get all the paperwork etc together for Munchkin’s citizenship and passport or finding her a paediatrician, I’ve been playing with felt; making little shoes for Munchkin and for some friends who have recently had babies. I think I’m finally happy with the design. I love them in coral and grey! I now just have to work out the different sizings.

Munchkin shoes in progress

I can’t decide if I like the bows on the front or on the side. So I’m making Munchkin a pair of both!

Bassinet munchkin

We had a small get together with some of our friends on Sunday on the deck of my favourite gluten-free café in Cully. It wasn’t a baby shower in the traditional sense, but we really wanted to see our friends before we temporarily slip even further off the social scene after Munchkin arrives.

I wasn’t allowed to go all ‘Nicola’ on it. Frustratingly, all I was allowed to do was to book the space and to send out email/ Facebook invites. So it was a decidedly un-Nicola-like event, not a hot air balloon to be seen, but it was delightful nonetheless (DM soothed my ruffled feathers by reminding me that I have many, many future Munchkin birthdays and unbirthday parties to organise). And I have to admit, it was quite a novel experience not to have to worry about anything more than just turning up.

Present from our crafty friends, dalek, Dr Who, baby blanket

Munchkin received some seriously splendid gifts from our lovely and very generous friends. She already has a toy collection and wardrobe I’m envious of!

Some of our crafty friends had got together to create a gorgeous present for Munchkin. They each knit or crochet some panels and made them up into a beautiful baby blanket. They’d been sneaky enough to get DM to send them the colours I wanted for the nursery and in amongst the pretty patterns, they included a couple of sneaky geeky panels. One of a Dalek and the other of a storm trooper. It’s perfect and suits DM’s and my style exactly. I’m really looking forward to seeing Munchkin wrapped up in it.

Crochet aviator helmet for nephew

I spent yesterday with my feet above my heart trying to get my swollen feet back to a size that would fit inside my slip on shoes and worked out this little pattern for a crochet aviators hat/ helmet for the little nephew we’re expecting in a few weeks. I then made another one for DM’s cousin who just had a little baby boy. I’m waiting for Munchkin to arrive so that I can custom make her one that fits perfectly.

 

All photos from next to nicx instagram account

In Print…

 

Cupcake Heaven Autumn 2013

 

Why is it that every time I start to wonder what I’m doing with my life and start to consider returning to a ‘normal’ profession something turns up to make me change my mind? In this case, the latest issue of Cupcake Heaven turned up in my letterbox.

The recipe and photography for my Gluten-free apple, custard & almond praline cupcakes has been included! It’s also out there in the big wide world in the Danish, German and Dutch editions of the magazine. Oh and it’s available for download via their iPad app.

 

Cupcake Heaven Autumn 2013

 

Food Heaven have also recently released a magazine for celiacs! So if you’re newly diagnosed or have a family member with gluten allergies, it may come in very handy.

 

First attempt at quilting and pikelets

 

Sewing

 

I’m now 34 weeks pregnant and I’m feeling it! I look like I’ve eaten ALL THE CAKES and I’m now getting tired a lot earlier than usual. My social calendar has taken another hit as I find I’m needing more and more down time. But the Doctors say this is all normal and that Munchkin is perfectly healthy. So I’m slowly but surely working through the remains of my to-do list before Munchkin arrives.

 

Quilting

 

This week I’m making her a cot quilt and trying to get the design for her birth announcements done. As I’ve never quilted before, I enlisted the aid of the lovely Lynne who is quite possibly the most prolific and fabulous quilter I’ve ever encountered. Under her expert tutelage I’m making fairly good progress and currently have only had to unpick about half a dozen triangles. I’ll keep you updated as to it’s progress and shall blog the finished product.

 

Pikelet Gluten Free

 

I’m also discovering that I get fairly strange cravings. After a horrendous night wherein Munchkin ensured I slept less than I thought was humanly possible, I found I was craving carbs and sugar. In particular I found myself feeling rather partial to one of my childhood favourites, pikelets, and so quickly whipped up a batch. They’re delicious! I used the recipe from the Common Sense Cookery book and substituted gluten-free flour for the normal flour. Voilà! Deliciousness on a plate! They’re perfect covered in jam and cream or slathered in salty butter. I’ve had to promise DM that I’ll make him some soon as I ate the remainder of them this morning for breakfast. For those of you who want to try them, I’ve put the recipe at the bottom of this post.

 

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It was around about this point in time that my trusty old Brother sewing machine started spitting out small parts at me. Literally.

A little investigation revealed that these are in fact the pieces that turn the lights and power to my machine on and off. I can’t complain. The machine was my mothers before it was mine. And I know for a fact she inherited it from someone else. So it’s definitely seen it’s fair share of work and has travelled halfway around the world without grumbling, until now. The machine still works, I just have to power it on and off at the wall. And on the plus side it looks like I’ll be getting a new machine for my birthday! Any recommendations?

 

Gluten Free Pikelet Recipe
  • 150 grams of gluten-free flour
  • 2 teaspoons of gluten-free baking powder
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon bi carb of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sour milk or fresh milk plus 1 teaspoon of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter

 

Method

Sift flour, salt and soda

Place egg, milk, sugar and butter in centre of flour

Beat until smooth and a thick pouring consistency

Place a dessertspoonful into a teflon coated pan – cook until they brown, turn over and cook other side.

Serve with jam and cream.

 

Watermelonade

Watermelonade

 

One of my favourite foods is in season! I’m currently addicted to watermelon and have found myself enabled by our local grocery as they’ve been selling deliciously sweet, organic, mini melons. I’ve been eating my fair share (possibly more)! I’ve also found I can’t get enough lemonade so when I saw a recipe for something called Watermelonade the other day, I had to try my hand at making up a version. I love it! It’s just the right combination of sweet/ sour and utterly refreshing.

But I’m now out of watermelon… I need to make another trip to the store!

 

Watermelonade

 

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Chocolatey decadence. Gluten-free brownies

 

Gluten-fre Brownies

 

Gluten-free brownies are awesome. No. Seriously. They are.

Why? Because they’re basically all chocolatey deliciousness and there’s not much in the way of flour. I made two batches over the last week. One to take to a friends birthday picnic and then another for DM to take into the office. According to DM the batch for the office lasted about 5 minutes. I’m assuming that’s a good thing.

For the picnic brownies, I used milk chocolate and about 100 grams of shaved almonds. But for the office brownies, I used a 48% dark chocolate and 200 grams of slivered almonds.

The difference is quite strong. The milk chocolate brownies taste sweeter, whereas the dark chocolate had a bit more crunch due to the slivered almonds and were a little more ‘adult’ in flavour . They would be perfect with a scoop of homemade ice-cream as a dessert, maybe with a dribble of salted caramel sauce? *drools a little and heads off to make another batch*

Both types were delicious. It just depends on your own personal taste. Using good quality butter, chocolate and cocoa powder makes a big difference with this recipe. Buy the best you can afford and you wont regret it! Both batches were perfectly moist in the center and a little crunchy along the edge with a really nice thin ‘crust’ on top.

They’re really quick and easy to make, so perfect if you’ve last minute guests or are craving a chocolate hit. Enjoy!

Nicx

 

Gluten-fre Brownies

 

Ingredients
  • 250 grams of unsalted butter
  • 300 grams of sugar (I used whole sugar much like this) but use whatever you prefer
  • 250 grams of good quality milk or dark chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 grams of gluten-free flour mix. I use Schar Patisserie Mix C Gluten Free flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of guar gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 200 grams of slivered almonds or other prefered nuts
  • 70 grams of cocoa powder

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a 35 x 25 cm tray with baking paper

Place butter, sugar and chocolate in a saucepan or double boiler over a low heat until all the chocolate and butter has melted and combined

Take the chocolate mix off the heat and stir in the eggs

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, guar gum and baking powder together and stir into the chocolate mix with a wooden spoon until well combined

Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until it has firmed up a little and a few crumbs stick to a skewer when inserted

Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. The brownies will continue to firm up as they cool

Makes about 25 brownies

 

 

Nespresso Iced Coffee

This will be my last iced-coffee post this year. Promise!
Nespresso Iced Coffee

 

I know I wrote all about how I love cold brewed iced coffee a couple of weeks ago. But I also want to share with you my instant go-to iced coffee for when I’ve run out of coffee syrup and I don’t want to have to wait 12 to 15 hours for my caffeine hit! I go to the trusty Nespresso machine. Almost everyone has a pod coffee machine of some sort in Switzerland. The simple question “Would you like a coffee?” has become quite a lengthy process since the introduction of the Nespresso machine! It’s now “what colour would you like?”, “long or short?”, “frothy milk?”, “sugar?”… and now “hot or iced?”. I have one wicked friend who frequently answers “yes” to all of the questions. One day I’m going to work out how to combine all of the above into one coffee!

 

Nespresso Iced Coffee

 

Making iced coffee with your Nespresso machine is actually really simple to do. Just take your favourite coffee flavour (I’ve still got a hefty stash of the limited edition nut flavours that came out a while ago, but I’ve been told the new vanilla, caramel and chocolate limited flavours are fabulous in iced coffee too!) and put a shot or two into a cocktail shaker or jar. Add sugar if you wish, quickly stirring a little to dissolve it and then throw in a handful of ice. Read more

Gluten-free white chocolate chunk and macadamia nut cookies

 

The other week I was craving white chocolate and macadamia nuts. I used to be able to get gluten-free white chocolate chunk and macadamia nut cookies at my local cafe in Sydney. And when combined with a good quality coffee and a magazine to peruse for an hour or so, they were a real treat. I’ve not yet been able to replicate the thick, crumbly texture of those cookies. But these are just as good, if not better!

Depending on how long you cook them, they’re either soft and slightly chewy or when cooked for a little longer they’re crunchy and crisp.

These biscuits are addictive! Just the right combination of good quality white chocolate and chopped macadamia nuts (ie. loads!) make these cookies hard to stop eating. Which is why I sent them all to my husbands office the next day. I’m not sure if his colleagues like me at the moment… those on diets probably don’t!

 

White Chocolate Chunk and macadamia nut cookies

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My Favourite Iced Coffee – Cold Brewed

 

Cold brewed iced coffee

 

A couple of years ago I discovered cold brewed coffee. It’s amazing. It tastes as good as coffee smells!

It seems to taste sweeter as it has never come in contact with heated water and so has a different chemical profile from coffee created using a normal brewing method. It has a much lower acid level and so is smoother, but with all the kick you want from your coffee!

It’s really simple to make, and once you try it, I defy you not to continually keep a batch in the fridge. Particularly through the warmer months when you desperately want a coffee but not the heat that goes along with it.

 

Cold brewed iced coffee

 

The only downside is that it does take time, about 12 to 15 hours. Thankfully after waiting that long you have a delicious coffee concentrate that makes a lot more than one cup. I certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking it straight by the mug full. It’s very strong and the caffeine kick may have you awake for weeks!

 

Cold brewed iced coffee

 
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Gluten-free apple, custard & almond praline cupcakes

Makes 12 – 18 cupcakes dependant on size



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Last Sunday we had a ‘making day’. My husband spent the day finishing his manga style robot and after painting it perfectly… continued painting it so that it looked like it had been through a battle… or twelve. It looks fabulous! At some point in time he’s planning on creating a Tumblr blog of his creations. If he permits, I’ll share it with you. You didn’t think I was the only person making things in our house? ;)

As DM spends most days hunched over a laptop staring at rows upon rows of numbers or in meetings about meetings for meetings, he likes to come home and do something to turn his business brain off. Ideally he’d prefer to be spending it in a garage, pulling apart some ginormous 1980′s supercar that looks like it fell out of a 1980′s Transformer cartoon (he and I have differing opinions about what constitutes a classic car) and putting it back together. But as we presently live in an apartment and don’t have a garage or an enormous monstrosity of a car, he makes do with putting tiny versions of them together and has recently moved on to items that look like they belong in a Miyazaki film.

 

Apple, custard and almond praline cupcakes

 

So whilst DM was painting away in the studio, I baked and spent some time putting together another tutorial that I’ll share with you on Wednesday. Here is the result of my baking endeavours.  They’re delicious. The cake is a gluten-free butter-cake with slices of apple through the middle. They’re topped with a thick custard (I used the recipe from the Apple Custard Tart I made a couple of weeks ago) and decorated with shards of almond praline. It creates a lovely combination of flavours and textures! Below is the recipe so you can make them yourself if you desire!
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Gluten-free Lamingtons

Lamingtons gluten-free

 

I couldn’t resist. My kitchen was so shiny I could see my reflection in the kitchen bench and didn’t want to mess it up. But it was raining and overcast and I felt an insatiable need to bake. I’ve been feeling a little homesick of late. Being an expat, you can sometimes find yourself hankering for the strangest things from ‘home’ and being pregnant hasn’t helped with the food cravings. I wanted lamingtons!

Lamingtons consist of a vanilla cake/ sponge, rolled in a chocolate icing and then in coconut. Variations include those filled with cream and jam. They’re perfect party and fete food. I can’t remember a party or fete when I was a child where Lamingtons were not available. We even used to have Lamington Day as a fundraiser in Primary School!

So after doing a little Googling and realising that they’re very basic. I grabbed my copy of The Commonsense Cookery Book (an Australian institution) and got to making myself some. I made the recipe more of a ganache than an icing and as per usual they’re gluten free. They’re perfect as gluten-free sponge cakes can be quite dry, so the addition of the icing and cream make them much more moist than usual.

Enjoy!

 

Lamingtons gluten-free

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