From garden to kitchen: nasturtium fritters

My nasturtiums are growing wild and I love it. Their orange and yellow blooms are not only nice to look at, they're edible too. You may well know by now how I love the idea using edible flowers in my food (remember the crystallised nasturtiums I made?). Well, turns out nasturtiums with their ever so slight peppery taste, when combined with cheese, make a delicious savoury fritter too.
Ingredients (makes about 8 fritters)

Nasturtium flowers (~10-15)
1 sprig lemon thyme (leaves only)
1 cup self raising flour
3 tablespoons grated tasty cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoon margarine* 

Method:

1. Gentle rinse and pat dry flowers. Saute in margarine for few minutes until wilted. Remove from heat and roughly chop. Set aside.

2. Whisk flour and salt into bowl.

3. In another bowl, combine flowers, lemon thyme, cheese, egg, milk, salt and pepper and beat gently with a fork.

4. Add wet mixture to the flour and stir to combine.

5. Melt margarine on medium heat in pan and add fritter batter by the tablespoon. Cook until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes on each side). Best served warm.
*I've recently found out that I have high cholesterol. Eeeks! So I've started using the healthier alternative - margarine in my cooking lately. Not bad, I must say. I've also decided to adopt healthy eating habits and recipes and more regular exercise (although chasing after a one year old toddler is a pretty good workout in itself!)

Baby gift guide

I used to be totally clueless when it came to shopping for babies but for obvious reasons, I have a much better idea now. I cringe when I recall some of my inappropriate baby gift choices, like that pretty little summer frock in size 0000 that I bought for my friend's winter baby that I'm sure she never got to wear. And that cute little onesie with the word "mother sucker" printed on it (though it was really funny at that time !). If you're like the old me, or if you're just running out of gift ideas for baby showers, this guide is for you...

Baby gift guide
1. Puffin Children's classics - It was love at first sight; as soon as I saw this gorgeous box set at my local bookstore, I took it off the shelf without hesitation and headed to the cashier. In fact, you may recall that this was the first 'baby item' I bought after I found out I was pregnant. I believe that the gift of reading is the best present anyone can give.

2. Donkey Products aeroplane kids spoon - A beautifully crafted wooden aeroplane atop a steel spoon to make playtime fun for the fussiest of eaters. Alexander loves it when I make plane noises while flying this spoon into his mouth.

3. Aden and Anais serenity star - A friend gave this to me at my baby shower and I've used it since the first day I bought Little A home. It is a handy sound machine, clock, room temperature indicator, night light and feeding diary all in one delightful little star that looks great in the nursery.

4. Raw Space felt cloud mobile - Babies spend a good amount of time lying on their backs so it's nice to give them something lovely to stare at. This cute and quirky mobile is handmade in Nepal and its multi-coloured raindrops are sure to delight the little ones.

5. MiniJumbuk Baa Baa blanket - Every baby needs at least one warm blanket for the cool winter months. This one by trusted Australian brand MiniJumbuk is made from luxuriously soft pure wool, making it suitable for the most sensitive baby skin.

6. Carter plush fox security blanket - I told you about Alexander's special friend Elly in this post and it really is the sweetest thing when a baby develops an attachment to a particular toy. Not only does it provide comfort, it also is lovely to give baby something to cuddle up with.

7. Vulli Sophie the Giraffe teething toy - Pretty much every baby I've met has one of these and for very good reason. It is made with 100% natural rubber and painted with natural food paint and has lots of nobbly bits so baby can gnaw contentedly away! Alexander loves to give Sophie a hearty chew and a big squeeze and giggles whenever Sophie squeaks,

8. The Aromatherapy Co. baby therapy set - It's important to give delicate baby skin the best care right from the start, so I was thrilled to receive this baby therapy set for Alexander to trial and review. The pack includes a tube of botty balm for preventing or treating nappy rash, a 100% organic soap bar and a wonderfully soft bamboo cloth to gently wash baby's skin during bath time.

Time to share some thoughts

The very lovely and multi-talented Fee who blogs over at Burntfeather recently answered some fun questions on this post and tagged pretty much anyone who wants to join in (that's me!). So here are my answers...
1) Today was wonderful because...
Alexander only had one meltdown and he didn't try to kill all my plants (unlike every other day). Oh, and when he finally went to bed, Stu and I watched Modern Family Season 5 on DVD while eating these easy and delicious tacos on the couch for dinner. Don't you love Mexican food too?

2) Are you seeking change?
Nope not really. Pretty happy with the way things are at the moment.

3) Write down an inspiring quote you love
 "Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy". Anne Frank

4) Describe one thing you're really good at
Organising. In the pre-baby days, my wardrobe was organised systemically by colour - from the whites and nudes to pink, purples, and all other shades of the rainbow and finally to black. Books and DVDs were alphabetically ordered (OCD much?).

5) What was the last film you watched?
The Grand Budapest Hotel. So charming and fun!. I am a huge Wes Anderson fan and I think this is his best work yet.
And I also nominate anyone who wants to play along. My five questions are:

1. What did you have for breakfast today?
2. Name a movie that made you cry
3. Stripes or polka dots?
4. List three things on your bucket list
5. Your favourite room in the house is...

Lavender earl grey tea cake

Spring to me looks like a garden with bright bursts of colours. Spring feels like the warm sun on my face and bare feet on the grass. And if Spring had a taste, these lavender earl grey tea cakes are it. I would best describe as your classic Earl Grey tea with a touch of Spring, in the form of a moist buttery cake with soft and fragrant floral notes of lavender and bergamot.
Lavender earl grey tea cake (makes 12)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lavender
1/2 cup milk
4-5 earl grey tea bags
2 eggs
125g butter, melted

Method:

1. Place milk in small pot and heat on stove until just boiling. Remove from heat and add tea bags and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease muffin tin.

3. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

4. Place lavender in food processor to chop for around 15 seconds. Add sugar to processor and pulse until mixed. Add to flour mixture.

5. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with tea infused milk and melted butter. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Poured into the greased muffin tin.

6. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes.
PS: Printer friendly recipe available here.

What makes a place home?

I'm pretty sure we all have some idea of how our dream home would look. Mine is a double brick 5 bedroom house with immaculate green lawn, bright white interiors filled with classic timeless furniture and plenty of storage so everything would look neat and beautiful. Basically, something the clever people at Coral Homes would build. Something like this:
Source: Coral Homes
The reality for me, however, is this:
And this:
 And this:
Sigh.

But as the saying goes, home is where the heart is. And now that I have a piece of my heart running around in the form of a one year old boy, reigning havoc wherever he goes, I've finally realised that home is not made by the fancy furniture and perfect, uncluttered house. It is actually the little details and imperfections that make a place home....things like the sound of laughter, books piled high on a shelf, family photos lining the wall, the smell of cooking, conversations that flow while breaking bread.

My home is far from the picture perfect house of my dreams but it is the place where Alexander said his first words, laughed for the first time and crawled on all fours, chasing after Frankie. It is the place where Stu and I fought and said angry words to each other, but also the place where we eventually kissed and made up. It is in my kitchen where I failed miserably at making semolina cake but hey, that's where (according to Stu) the best Sunday roasts are made. And that, to me is what makes a place home.

What makes a place home to you?