Chocolate Fudge

I have been making this Chocolate Fudge recipe for many years now.  It’s another one of my go-to recipes that I think you should have! One of my good friends gave me this recipe when our children were young and I’m still making it. It can be easily varied which is something great about this simple Chocolate Fudge recipe.

Last night, after I had put my pyjamas on, I decided to make this fudge. It didn’t take me long to whip up and I left it to cool on the kitchen bench while I watched TV for a while.  Before I went to bed I popped it in the fridge.  This fudge is so quick to make and you can do it in your pyjamas! It’s fantastic!

Chocolate Fudge

Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients

  • 100g butter, cubed
  • 400g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g dark choc bits (or chocolate melts)

Instructions

  1. Grease loaf tin (or bar tin) with butter and line with baking paper.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt butter, condensed milk, brown sugar and golden syrup over a low heat. Stir until boiling.
  3. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted and fudge mixture is smooth.
  6. Pour into prepared tin.
  7. Allow to cool on bench, then chill.
  8. When set cut into small squares.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/chocolate-fudge/

Variations

This time I made my fudge extra special by adding in soft jelly lollies just before pouring it into the tin. You can also add in chopped nuts, marshmallows, cherries, dried fruit, etc.  Whatever your favourite lolly is – add it in!  Jelly babies work well.

Last night I was feeling extra hungry so I doubled the recipe, but the normal recipe makes plenty!  This made a full large loaf tin of fudge (I got the tin from IKEA.) This tin is a bit longer than your standard loaf tin.  Otherwise you could just use a square tin if you double the recipe – or use two loaf tins.

Chocolate fudge

To make this Chocolate Fudge as gifts (it’s brilliant for Christmas or Easter) you can cut it into 4cm x 10cm bars and wrap in greaseproof paper.  Tie the ends with string and it looks beautiful.

I hope you like this easy Chocolate Fudge recipe. I’m not pretending that it’s healthy.  It’s definitely “sometimes” food but I am a firm believer in a balanced diet!

Trina xx

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“The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult

One of my lovely friends gave me “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult for my birthday this year.  She knows I love to read a good “sink your teeth in” book and this one hit the spot!  I have read Jodi Picoult before and I love the way she tackles tricky subjects and throws me into an “oh, I don’t know what I would do!” spin.

I loved this book!!  “The Storyteller” kept me wanting more and was such a great read I just have to share it with you.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult Photo credit: the inkpotblogger (https://thepenandinkpot.blogspot.com.au)

It’s about 25 year old Sage Singer who is a baker.  She likes her job because she works permanent night-shift.  Who would want to have that kind of life?  Sage does.  She gets lost in her world of pastries and breads while the world is sleeping. It’s the perfect escape for her. She has a scar running down one side of her face and she is extremely self-conscious about it and it has caused her to become a recluse. The scar on the outside of her body is mirrored by a bigger scar on the inside of her.  She got her scars in a car accident.  She was driving.  Her mother was killed in the accident and Sage feels responsible. Her physical scar serves as a constant reminder of this tragedy.

Sage regularly attends a grief support group (I felt this was a bit out of character for her…but anyway….) and befriends an old man called Josef Weber.  After Josef and Sage become close, he tells her a secret about his past; he was a Nazi commander in the Holocaust at Auschwitz concentration camp. Sage comes from a Jewish background although she is adamant that she personally is an atheist. He tells Sage that he committed horrific crimes and killed many Jews. He asks Sage for an extraordinary favour; to forgive him and help him commit suicide because of how guilty he feels about what he has done.  Wow.  That is huge! What is she going to do with this? If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well.

Sage contacts the authorities about what Josef has told her and into her life comes Leo!  Leo investigates Holocaust victims and the potential prosecution of former Nazi officers. Leo likes Sage!  (and I like Leo for liking Sage!) There is a potential for romance here that spices things up a bit!

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult spine

In addition to this situation, is the story of Sage’s grandmother Minka (and her best friend Darija), who was a survivor of the Holocaust and was a prisoner at Auschwitz. Minka’s story is the actual horror that Josef himself claims he was partly responsible for. This section of the book was difficult to stomach at times mainly because I knew that it was based on truth. Jodi Picoult describes life at Auschwitz so well, I feel like I’ve been there myself. Minka’s information could help Sage and Leo ensure that justice is served to Josef Weber.

Another part of the plot is the story that Minka wrote during her turbulent life. She is The Storyteller. Writing was her way of escaping the atrocities that she faced every day of her young life.  Her writings are very fictional but you can see how she was influenced by what was happening around her at the time of writing.

I don’t want to give too much away here because there is a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming (I had to read the ending twice to make sure that I had read correctly!).

The Verdict

This book stayed with me in my head during the day when I wasn’t reading it and even though some parts are difficult to accept, I had to keep reading to find out what Sage would ultimately do.  Would she help Josef die?

Photo credit : the inkpotblogger ( https:// thepenandinkpot.blogspot.com.au )

Check your local library or book shop for “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult. I recommend it!

 

Trina xx

 

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Chickpea Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

This one is a bit of a mouthful to say and a delicious mouthful to eat. The chickpea sweet potato coconut curry recipe below was a winner at our house for this week’s Meatless Monday dinner. It is full of flavour.

Chickpea sweet potato coconut curry

Even though it’s still school holidays here in Melbourne, we had a busy day on Monday with friends over here and I didn’t want to have to worry about starting a complicated Meatless Monday meal once they had gone home.  I started the preparation for the chickpea sweet potato coconut curry earlier in the day and you can do that too.  It really did make the cooking of this meal very quick and simple.

If you are a vegan, then this recipe will suit you too.

Chickpea Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

Yield: 4+

Chickpea Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of carrots (about 2 medium size), chopped
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potato (2 small sweet potatoes)
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp yellow curry paste
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk (either light or full fat)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup spinach or silverbeet, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add the onion and saute for around 3 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add garlic and curry paste and cook for one minute.
  4. Add the carrots and tomatoes, stir to combine. Cover and cook for around 5 minutes or until carrots begin to soften.
  5. Add the sweet potato and chickpeas. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk and water (use the water to rinse the coconut milk tin) and mix well.
  7. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the carrots are fully tender.
  8. Add spinach and stir to combine. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
  9. Serve over rice, quinoa or couscous and add a squeeze of lemon over each serving.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/chickpea-sweet-potato-coconut-curry/

Do ahead of time:

To make my day enjoyable, I did some preparation earlier in the day (and it didn’t take long).  I chopped the onion and carrot.  I also boiled and mashed the sweet potato, storing it all in the fridge until dinner preparation time.  Doing this sort of prep always makes me feel like I have my own cooking show and I can pretend to be Justine Schofield or Nigella Lawson, just popping in the ingredients as though we all cook that way! Just a little fantasy I have….

I can’t stress how important the lemon wedge is.

A spritz of lemon over the chickpea sweet potato coconut curry gives it a beautiful fresh zing. If you don’t have a lemon (or a lime would work well too), do what I did and pick one from the lemon tree next door (shh!).

Give this recipe a go at your house.  I know we’ll be adding it to our list of permanent rotation recipes. Tell me what you think in the comments below and feel free to forward the recipe to your friends if they like vegetarian/vegan food. (There are other Meatless Monday recipes on this blog too)

Trina xx

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Sweet Sixteen birthday cake

Last week I had to make a sweet sixteen birthday cake.  I can’t believe our oldest daughter is now 16 years old!  Time really flies.

This girl, she knows what she wants.  She did some searching on Pinterest and found some cakes that she likes.  I looked at them and we decided to blend some designs together and make up one of our own.

Sweet sixteen birthday cake

The cake itself had to be the Funfetti cake.  I have told you about this cake before.  It really is the greatest cake ever for this sort of thing.  It is a moist, solid cake, yet not as heavy as a mud cake.  It also cuts really nicely. We were going to need two cakes to make this birthday cake tall and impressive, so a few days beforehand, I baked the cakes and popped them in the freezer.

The day before her party, I took the cakes out of the freezer and got to work!  Cakes are so much easier to cut and ice when they are still half frozen.  I needed to shave off the risen top of each cake so that they would fit together nicely and then have a flat surface to decorate.

A lazy-susan is a plate that can turn and I put the cake on this so that it could be turned around easily as I ice.

Buttercream

The key part of this cake is the buttercream icing.  For a cake this size, I used 250g butter, creamed well using a stand mixer.  As the butter creamed, I gradually added around 2 1/2 cups icing sugar and mixed until well creamed together with the butter.  The colour of the buttercream was the biggest challenge in making this cake.  My daughter wanted a pretty mauve colour (also found using Pinterest!) so I used bottles of food colouring for this.  Using a teaspoon to pour the colouring onto (you can pour back any excess into the original bottle cleanly), I used pink and blue to make purple, then added a tiny bit of yellow to give it a lift.  Basically, I just kept adding colours until we got it to her satisfaction.

I used the buttercream icing as the filling between the cakes and, using a spatula and turning the lazy-susan as I went, I commenced covering the sides and top of the cake with the buttercream. Then I used a piping set with a large, star shaped nozzle, to pipe the flowers and other little decorations on top.

Icing piping set

We finished it off with these pretty sparkly sprinkles part-way up the sides and over some of the top.

Funfetti birthday cake

I stored the sweet sixteen birthday cake in a cool room overnight (I left it uncovered).  If the weather is hot I would recommend keeping it in the fridge, but if it’s coolish weather then it should store fine overnight.

The next day, at the party, I popped a candle on the top and the cake was ready for action!

I hope you are inspired to make a pretty cake like this one. Let me know if you give it a go.

Trina xx

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Europe Trip – Part Four – Rome

Our final week was spent in Rome.  After being to London, Dublin and Paris, Rome was another exciting adventure.

DAY ONE – Rome

Friday

Once landed in Rome, we caught a train from the airport to Fiumicino.  From here, we caught a bus to near our Rome apartment.  We walked the last little bit on the old cobbled roads.  Can’t believe how old this place is!  I really felt like I was in the Bible.

We found our apartment which was old and charming and huge! Once settled in, we went out for a walk to discover that we were very close to the Piazza Navona.  This piazza was buzzing with amazing buskers, three fountains and people out walking and eating in the restaurants around the edge.  Pizza was definitely on the menu for us, so we found somewhere close by and tucked in to a whole pizza each!!  (We were hungry!)

Cobbled lane in Rome

DAY TWO – Rome

Saturday

This morning we walked to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is free to enter (bonus!) and it is so old and the dome roof is huge and spectacular to see. There is a big round hole in the roof which changes the lighting inside as the day progresses and the sun moves.

Once we had explored inside the Pantheon, we continued on to the Trevi Fountain. There were police blowing whistles at anyone who sat on the edge of the fountain.  Throwing money in was allowed though!

The Spanish Steps were next on the list for today. This place was bustling with people everywhere.  We walked up the steps for amazing views over Rome.

Spanish Steps view

At the top of the Spanish Steps is the Chiesa di Trinita dei Monti, a church which actually had a French service in progress while we were there. A young lady seemed to be singing the Psalms and sounded very angelic.  The atmosphere in here was very special.

 

A point to note about Rome

There are no public toilets in Rome, in the streets.  Not even paying toilets like in Paris.  If you eat out you can use the bathroom facilities in the restaurant, but otherwise, there are no toilets around.  Thankfully our apartment was quite central to most places, so we could drop in during the day for planned toilet breaks.

After lunch, we walked across the River Tevere (Tiber) to Vatican City. We lined up for 30 minutes to enter St Peter’s Basilica (free entry – yippee!). This place was amazing.  Well worth lining up for. Apparently St Peter is buried under the floor there.  The gold on the ceiling in the Basilica was taken from the inside of the Pantheon many years ago.

St Peter's Basilica

DAY THREE – Rome

Sunday

This morning we walked to Piazza Ponte Portese (over the river) for the Ponte Portese Flea Market. This market is apparently the largest in Rome…..and yes, it was!

Rome market

The stalls went on and on!  The prices were good and you could bargain with the stall-holders.  Not many tourists came here and very few souvenir stalls, so it was good to see some of the local stuff for sale. There were lots of cheap clothes, shoes, handbags, coats, jewelry, makeup, hats, underwear, etc. We spent a couple of hours browsing and buying some treasures.

After a quick lunch of sandwiches with Pistachio spread (if you are in Rome, you’ve got to buy yourself a jar.  We became addicted and had to take four of them home!), we found the second market for the day. This one was closer to “home”, the Camp di Fiori, which was much more touristy. You could buy fruit, juices, liqueurs, spices and pasta flavour mixes.

We decided to continue on to a third and final market for the day. This next one was a bit of a walk away, down towards the Colosseum.  It was called Mercato Monti Urban Market.  It was quite small and in the basement of a hotel building. The stallholders where quite classy and sold expensive handmade jewelry, clothes and other quirky things. It was quite the artisan gathering.

The gelati place we found on the way home from this market was so good.  Quality ingredients and delicious flavours (“Al CoNosseo”, Via Cavour, 289-00184 – Roma).  You must go there!

DAY FOUR – Rome

Monday

We went to the Vatican Museum this morning. Pre-purchased tickets once again saved us a massive queue.  The line for tickets went down the street, around the corner and down the next street!

It was nice to be able to walk straight in, without waiting, but once we were in, the crowds where quite overwhelming.  The place filled up very quickly.  There were lots of tour groups.  We had audio guides which were really good but we had to stand off to the side to pause and listen at various points or we would get swept away with the crowd. The Sistine Chapel was the final place along the tour (no photos allowed in this part). “Silence” was frequently called out by the staff around the place (it was a bit stressful!). The Michaelangelo paintings on the ceilings and walls are incredible.  I got a sore neck and eyeballs from trying to look up at the ceiling.

Vatican Museum, Rome

After another lunch of pistachio spread sandwiches, we found the Sant ‘Eustachio II Caffe. This place was recommended to us by a work mate – best coffee in the world! We tried it (had to stand at the coffee bar to drink it) and it was pretty good.  Since being home I have been working hard to replicate it!

We continued walking (in a very alert state after the caffeine hit) on to the Portico of Octavia.  These are ancient ruins including colonaded walks, built around 27BC. It was weird to see ruins in a normal Roman street!

Next we visited the Chiesa del Gesu (the Jesuit church in Rome). This is an incredible church, built in 1551, well worth a look if you find yourself nearby.

DAY FIVE – Rome

Tuesday

We were up bright and early to walk to the Coloseum this morning. Our pre-purchased tickets were for 9am and when we arrived we could walk straight in, not having to queue up. The audio guides were helpful here too, but we found them to be not as good at others we have had throughout our trip. I loved looking at the passageways you can see that would have been under the arena floor.

The Colosseum, Rome

From here, we walked next door to the Forum and Palatine Hill. No audio guides for here but all the ruins had information signs so we could read about what we were looking at. We spent all afternoon exploring here.  The sun was quite hot and by the end we were “ruined”. So we left and went back to the Al CoNosseo gelati shop from the other day.

We ate out at a restaurant called Fattaincasa and I ate the best pasta carbonara in my life. After dinner we walked back to the Colosseum to see it lit up at night. The city looks beautiful at night.

 

DAY SIX – Rome

Wednesday

Today we walked over the river again and explored Trastevere, a quaint little area of Rome where lots of students live.  There is a university there and the food is cheap!  There are also less tourists there.  The laneways there are picture perfect.

Trastevere, Rome

Pizza was cheap so we enjoyed a delicous lunch at Carlo Menta.

We did a spot of shopping this afternoon and of course indulged in our daily gelati.

DAY SEVEN – Rome

Thursday

This morning we ventured out to Roscioli bakery (it’s not far from our apartment) for some treats! We enjoyed a very special morning tea here. Apparently this bakery is Rome’s oldest.

After this we walked to the Villa Borghese gardens.  These gardens were so beautiful with a lake and more ruins! There were ducks, swans and tortoises both swimming in the water and sunning themselves on the rocks.

Gardens, Rome

We walked home via the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon to see them for one last time. Today is going home day.

Near the Pantheon we found a place called “150 Flavours” so had to have one last gelati….but how to choose!  Oh my, it was a big decision!

Then we stopped by our apartment and picked up our bags.  We walked to a nearby bus stop.  The bus took us to the Termini and we caught an airport shuttle bus out to the airport.  It all  went smoothly and we survived the long flight home.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our travel adventures.  I hope it has been helpful for you. Let me know if you would like to know more!!

Trina xx

 

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