Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Homemade Coconut Butter

I've always been a big believer in eating food that is healthy for you rather than to lose weight or for convenience. When the whole 'clean eating'  and 'whole foods' notion came about I thought to myself I already eat like that. That's not to say I don't indulge in some junk now and again but I'm working pretty hard at making those occasions fewer and farther between.
I used to believe that eating sugar was ok because you could burn it off and eating fat was bad because it was, well, fat!
How things have changed. And as I'm educating myself on some of the newer theories about healthy eating I am finding a sense of renewed inspiration in the kitchen. My kitchen muse vanished years ago so it is so nice to see her again :-)
I wanted to try making my own coconut butter after reading some amazing food blogs. (Oh my god! The time I could waste reading those!) So I bought a packet of organic dessicated coconut and decided to give it a whirl (boom boom).
I was a little worried that my faithful old food processor might not be up to the challenge seeing as you need to process for at least 10 minutes. I took it easy on her and stopped every 2 minutes or so to let the motor cool a little. The process ended up taking about 20 minutes  with a set-back midway. Once my coconut had turned to a lusciously viscose creamy liquid, I decided to spike it with a tablespoon of rice malt syrup and vanilla bean paste. Errrr wrong! It was like when you add cold liquid to melted chocolate and it seized into a thick hard paste :-( At this point I went to google for suggestions but nothing much came up so on blind faith I tossed in a spoonful of melted coconut oil and continued blending. The good news is that it worked! I ended up with a creamy liquidy paste once again, ready to be dolloped on all manner of yummy treats.
I didn't take step by step pics; there are so many others who have done that which you can search for by typing 'homemade coconut butter' into google. But I will leave you with some pics of my finished butter and my recipe. Nom.

Coconut Butter
1 200g packet of organic, unsweetened, preservative free dessicated coconut. (this is important as any additives can alter the process and ultimately it just wont work)
1 Tbsp melted organic coconut oil (optional)

Dump the whole bag of coconut in your food processor and blend on high speed. This will take at least 10 minutes and the mix will first turn clumpy, then pastey and finally liquidy. Scrape the sides occasionally and keep and eye on your food processors temperature. If it gets too hot, give it a break.
I would suggest that if you want to add other flavourings or sweeteners then maybe try warming them (ie maple syrup) and stirring it in by hand. I haven't tried this however and can't attest to whether it will work or if your mix will seize like mine did.
Apparently it will set at room temperature and keep for many months. Enjoy :-)

Saturday, 9 March 2013


A cardi fit for a princess
Yep, it's yet another tikki pattern under my belt. I first planned to knit this waaaaaay back in January 2012. I didn't actually cast on until September with the intention of finishing it for Summer. Well, you know how things get around Christmas time. This ended up being stashed away in my basket and neglected until very recently when I found myself obligation free (no tests or commissioned knits in the works). I decided I'd better finish it before my munchkin outgrew it! She will be 4 this year and I only cast on for the 2yo size :-/
Luckily she's a bit of a midget and after coercing her into trying it on several times a day I was confident it would actually fit her just fine. And it does!

I did expect a little growth on blocking since the yarn is a bamboo/ wool blend. Actually it didn't grow as much as I had anticipated based on other ravellers comments. But instead it has turned out perfectly. I am more than a little chuffed at my own awesomeness really ;-)
This will be the perfect autumn cardi, and spring, and summer too. Can't ask for more than that.
You can purchase this pattern here.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Twisted Hipster Test

So far 2013 seems to be the year for knitting hats. With 4 already under my belt, another on the needles and two more on the horizon I can assure you I will have a VERY warm head this winter ;-)

This is Twisted Hipster, a pattern by Nicole Montgomery. Let me just say that this hat involves a LOT of purling. But the final result is a gorgeously slouchy hat with a curving trellis of slipped stitches.
The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn (4 ply) held double but I really dislike holding yarn double unless absolutely necessary. I went with a DK weight (8 ply) and achieved gauge pretty closely. I do wish however that I had used a sport weight (5 ply) in the same gauge for a little more drape. My yarn is a little stiff.
The yarn is Yarnundyed Merino which I dyed myself in a variegated purple.
I knit the 20" size (and my head measures 22") and the dimensions came out exact but to me it does seem a little big. On the flip side, it will easily cover my ears on those bitterly cold days that are headed my way.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


In the interests of full disclosure I should probably preface by saying that not only do I love to knit, but I also love to cook. For many years I worked professionally as a chef and although it has been some time now since I worked in a commercial kitchen, lately I have rekindled my romance with food.

I think it is really easy for cooking to become a chore, especially when you have a day job, a household to manage and a demanding family; at the end of the day all you really want is to get something that resembles a healthy meal on the table and for everyone to actually eat it.

Without going into too much detail about my diet and my crazy hippy ideas about food, let's just say that my aim of late is to make healthy, nutritious snacks that I can eat instead of the omnipresent processed crap. If my kids will eat it too then I know I'm onto a winner!

One such winner, which also has the husbeasts seal of approval, are these little chocolately nuggets of deliciousness:

Chocolate, coconut and peanut butter balls!

I guess I keep teasing people with awesome photo's of my scrummy food because I get a lot of recipe requests which I always mean to honour and usually fail to do so.
So, in the interest of keeping  you people happy I thought I'd better do the right thing ;-)

Raw cacao, peanut butter and coconut balls
1 cup organic coconut shreds or chunks
1/2 cup organic sugar-free peanut butter
1/4 cup organic rolled oats
1/2 cup cashews or other nuts of choice
2 Tbsp rice bran syrup (you could use maple, honey or agave)
1 Tbsp raw cacao
1 Tbsp coconut oil
5 or 6 fresh dates, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, to roll balls in

Combine the coconut shreds, nuts and oats in a food processor and process to fine crumbs. Add all other ingredients and process until it starts to clump together. 
A tip is to start with less dates and add more if you need them. Maybe even try 4 to start with. I used 5 in this batch.
Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and roll the balls in desiccated coconut. Refrigerate until firm (about 2 hours)
These little gems will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, that is, if you don't demolish them all first ;-)

Can I finish by saying that my super fussy 8yo son will actually eat these and thinks they are just regular old biscuit-and-condensed-milk rumballs. Total win!

Guess what else I made today :-)