Monday, 19 February 2018

Escaping the Heat in the Hinterland

During a week of soaring temperatures, we headed an hour or so north, up to the Hinterland of our Sunshine Coast. While it was very hot everywhere, and those further west certainly felt the worst of it, we found the cooling shade of the trees and refreshing water of local creeks a welcome relief from the heat. 

 A green and shady "umbrella" of trees.

The cool, gurgling water of the Obi Obi Creek, Maleny.

Fresh, clear water.

 Gardeners Falls and rock pool.

Old trees casting shade in the paddocks.

A hazy view over the Glasshouse Mountains.

A dizzying drop from the  Mapleton Falls Lookout.

A trickle of water runs over Mapleton Falls.

The lush, green Obi Obi valley.

Walking and picnicking under an umbrella of green, the cooling and calming colour of nature, was a lovely way to escape the heat for a while.


Saturday, 17 February 2018

Apricot Jam Drops

Jam drops, those little biscuits with a fingerprint-sized puddle of jam in the middle, have been among my favourite biscuits since I was small. Batches of them, round and filled with jewel-coloured jams, would be baked in the old stove ready for morning and afternoon teas. They were always hard to resist; I could never wait for the jam to be cool enough before sampling one and so regularly burnt my mouth on them. Dangerous biscuits! 

My favourite jam drops are those filled with golden, tangy apricot jam. Oh, how I love apricot jam! Of course, you can fill the fingerprints you press into the little balls of biscuity dough with any or all of your favourite jams ~ strawberry, raspberry, plum, blackberry or any other jam you fancy. For me though, apricot will always be the best!

Homemade apricot and strawberry jam drops.

Kathy, over at Our Simple and Meaningful Life, recently made these delicious jam drops and I felt a batch at our place was sorely needed for I haven't made them in awhile. In the recipe my mother made, and that I learned to cook, the butter and sugar are creamed together. The recipe I make now, and which I adapted from one by Deborah Wray (founder of Wray Organics) begins with a different process. Here is how I make our jam drops now:

Apricot Jam Drops

80g coconut oil (heated very gently if not already in liquid state)
50g coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups white spelt flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
apricot jam (or any favourite jam)

1.   Preheat oven to 160C.

2.   Line two biscuit trays.

3.  Beat coconut oil, coconut sugar and eggs until mixture is thick and creamy.
     (Make sure your coconut oil is not too hot so that you don't cook the eggs in it!)

4.  Sift spelt flour and baking powder.

5.  Add sifted flour to coconut oil mixture and mix well to form a soft dough.

6.  Roll tablespoons of dough into balls, placing them on biscuit trays.

7.  Press your fingerprint into the top of each little ball of biscuit dough to make a place for
      puddles of jam.

8.  Fill each fingerprint with apricot jam.

9.   Bake for 15mins or so until biscuits are lightly golden.

10. Leave to cool slightly on baking trays before using an egg flip to transfer to wire rack to 
       finish cooling.  Store in airtight container in the fridge (particularly if you live in a warm

Creamy coconut oil, coconut sugar and eggs.

Adding flour to form a soft biscuit dough. 

Fingerprints waiting to be filled!

Little puddles of apricot jam. Mmm ...


Remember to wait for the biscuits to cool before sampling any of these little jammy treats...otherwise you may end up burning your mouth on one too!


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Sunprint Garden

Clustered flowerheads, delicate umbels, whisper-thin stems and feathery leaves casting shadows and leaving beautiful prints.  

Snippets of my garden in a sunprint.

 A magical process that results in stunning prints.

These stunning white on cyan-blue sunprints are technically known as cyanotypes. The process is actually a photographical one, capturing an image without a camera, that was developed by Sir John Herschel. It was a woman, botanist and pioneering photographer, named Anna Atkins, who began using the process, in the mid 19th Century, to record finely detailed botanical images of sea algaes and ferns. I would dearly love to spend time looking at every single page of her exquisite book, but this YouTube clip is the closest I could find to holding it in my own hands. Hers was the first book ever published exclusively with photographic images. How amazing!

The process of making these stunning prints is simple and oh so satisfying!

Gather sprigs of plant material from your garden.

Gather printmaking supplies ...
 cyanotpye paper, thick piece of cardboard, perspex, water bath.

Lay cyanotype paper onto thick cardboard.
Sandwich plant material between the paper with clear perspex on top.

Lay out in sun for up to 5 minutes.

Carefully remove plant material to reveal beautiful prints.

Rinse the paper in a tub of water and watch as the prints fade to white.

Dry on a flat surface. 
As the sunprint dries, the background will become a deeper and deeper cyan blue.

Here are two of the other sunprints I made:

 Almost-finished rocket flowers.

Scattered dry umbels of Queen Anne's Lace.

There are many beautiful projects that can be made with these stunning sunprints. From simply framing your favourite print to using the gorgeous paper to make bookmarks, handmade cards, gift boxes or as wrapping paper. I would love to explore how to make these prints on fabric. How lovely would that be!

Sunprints are a simple and satisfying way to capture the botanical beauty of plants. I made my prints in the sunshine of a scorching hot Summer's day. Perfect for that kind of weather. I think the process could also be quite addictive too!!