Saturday, 3 May 2014

Rhubarb cake, random notes, and long service leave

I am always of the belief that life is about to get quieter.  It doesn't.  Take last Sunday.  Before breakfast I baked a rhubarb cake, we dismantled the cubby hut for the hard rubbish collection, took Sylvia's bike back to the shop for a check up, went out for lunch, bought a shovel, visited Sylvia's kinder friend, picked up my wallet I lost, used my new shovel to clean out the collapsing compost bin to go to the hard rubbish, and did the groceries before tea time.  Thank goodness for leftovers for tea.  Then I collapsed into bed with Curtis Sittenfield (my latest literary love).

farewell compost bin
Life is always busy with a young child about but there are many other things going on lately.  When I wrote about my 7 year blogiversary recently, Lucy kindly commented that I was due long service leave.  I have been thinking about a blog break to focus my energies elsewhere.  Long Service Leave sounded perfect.  (In Australia you get 3 months paid long service leave after 10 years in a job, and after 7 years you are entitled to access some of your long service leave.)

Sylvia's ANZAC Day poppy
I hadn't wanted to leave my blog neglected during my leave.  Fortunately I have discovered a large stash of street art photos.  So I have decided to post some street art photos from around Melbourne every few days over the next month.  That means it wont be a complete break.  I will still visit blogs when I can.  But I plan to slow down considerably with my blogging activities. 

Meanwhile let me tell you how delicious that rhubarb cake was.  I first found the recipe about 20 years ago and used to make it a lot in a student household where I lived for quite some years.  We all loved it.  I was almost afraid to revisit the recipe in case it wasn't as good as I remembered.  It didn't let me down.  Despite me having less rhubarb than required and messing with the quantities.  The raw rhubarb bakes in the cake batter to become soft and sweet.  Sylvia particularly loved the sugary topping.

I had thought it would last days.  There wasn't much left by the time we had taken in over to Sylvia's friend's place, given a piece to the nice woman who rang about finding my wallet before I had even discovered it was missing and had some with vanilla yoghurt for dessert.  None of it even found its way into Sylvia's lunchbox as I had intended.

So before I start my break I wanted to share a few random notes.
  • I passed a dog owner recently who, when Sylvia was frightened, said our dog doesn''t bite.  This lack of empathy really annoyed me and I asked if they had ever been bitten by a dog.  I have.  A dog ran out from a house onto the footpath and clamped its jaws around my leg.  It was very frightening.  I am now forever wary.  Dog owners might know their dog doesn't bite.  I don't!
  • Sylvia keeps us amused.  One of Sylvia's very wise questions lately was, if dead people can't move, how do they get to heaven?  She is fascinated by a little girl in her class who speaks Arabic so she has asked us to only say no in Arabic (which is apparently 'la').  Her ideal holiday destination is Port Fairy "because it has stairs" (that would be in our holiday house).  And she started learning ukelele last week so I am looking forward to hearing her perform some tunes!
  • When we carried the shovel home on Sunday I felt like one of those fictional villagers out to protect the community against zombies.  (Only I wasn't in an angry mob of others with shovels and pitchforks).  Perhaps it was because E was watching a rom-zom-com called Warm Bodies recently.  It was a bit gory for me and I hid behind my laptop screen.
  • We are watching a box set of The Wire.  It has taken me a while to get into it but I am beginning to warm to some of the characters.  I can't believe how dated it is.  Typewriters, dial-up modems and pagers.  (Though not as dated as the bathrooms at the local bowling club where we went for a fun school fundraiser gig tonight!)

Lastly, I thought I would share pictures of some of the recipes I hope to share after my break.  Above you can see easter egg slice, teriyaki tofu, sourdough pancakes and caramel slice.  So if you are not into street art, that is fine.  I will back with more foodie fun in at the start of June.

The rhubarb was from the Flemington Farmers Market so I am sending the cake to Elizabeth Kitchen Diary for her Shop Local challenge.  (And check out Elizabeth's new look at her new url.)

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: In search of (4)
Two years ago: Lilies on Brougham and a visit to Monsalvat
Three years ago: Cheesy pancakes and a breakfast event
Four years ago: Butterscotch layer cake
Five years ago: Mushroom and Lentil Ragout
Six years ago: What does a pagan eat anyway?
Seven years ago: Waiter waiter there’s a shark in my chilli non carne

Rhubarb Cake

3/4 cup milk (I used soy)
1 tsp cider vinegar
60g butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
2 eggs
3/4 cup self raising flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
350g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm lengths

Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix milk and vinegar and set aside.  Preheat oven to 180 C.  Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin. 

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla essence and lemon rind together in a large mixing bowl.  (I did this by hand.)  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.  Gently mix in rhubarb chunks.

Tip cake batter into prepared tin.  Smooth out the top with a back of a spoon.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Sprinkle on top of cake batter.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle of the cake.  (Cover with foil if the topping is getting too dark.  Mine didn't need this but my oven isn't the most powerful.)  Rest for 5 to 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Keeps well for three days.  Suitable to freeze.

On the stereo:
Tooth and nail: Billy Bragg

43 comments:

  1. It's about time you had a break! I've been following your blog for years and you blog often. Enjoy your break, but promise you'll be back.

    I may well try to veganise that recipe, because our one rhubarb plant is huge, so I've got a lot to use up, and we're getting a bit sick of crumble.

    As for dogs...nobody can say their dog won't bite. We have a dog, and he's never bitten anyone in his 14 years, and seems to love kids (particularly if they're feeding him Hundreds and Thousands biscuits!) but you just never know, and you have to be careful. I always keep my dog away from other people (particularly kids), unless they ask to pat him. Perhaps that's because I'm a bit nervous around some dogs myself, so I understand that not everyone is comfortable around them. (Now I'll get off my soapbox.)

    Have fun!

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    1. Thanks Linda - I am planning to be back - have lots to share - just not lots of time to share it. A rhubarb plant sounds wonderful and I am glad you understand the dog issue. We had a dog for many years who was the most timid dog but we still put her on a leash when others were about.

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  2. A well deserved break for sure! I love street art and how more of those traffic signal boxes are getting painted around the place. And I am so with you on the "my dog doesn't bite" comment. We live near an off-leash park with a playground but when we are walking to/from the playground we have to go through the off-leash area. Huge dogs that were bigger than my daughter tried to jump on her and me and the owners were all jolly "oh he's only playing, he won't bite". What the?! I was attacked by a dog when I was little (sure it was a Pomeranian but it was vicious) and I've been wary around dogs ever since. I like your zombie-shovel comment, I always get a laugh out of people walking down the street with stuff. Yay for Sylvia and the ukelele! oh and my mum has that same Tupperware cake carrier but her handle is beige :P

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    1. Thanks Veganopoulous - I love the painted traffic signal boxes - have a few of these to share. That's terrible that owners let their dogs jump on anyone. Sorry to hear about your dog bite - it is a terrible thing. When we were young I played with friend's dogs a lot and the one that had once bitten someone was always treated with more wariness though she was lovely.

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  3. You definitely deserve a little blog break after all this time! I'm sure it will be refreshing. :) That cake looks glorious! I am definitely on a rhubarb kick and can't wait to try it!

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I don't buy rhubarb heaps but every time I do I find myself enthused by the stuff - enjoy your rhubarb kick :-)

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  4. A blogging break sounds like a fantastic idea. Life is so hectic when there are children about and blogging does really take a big chunk out of the available free time. We'll miss you, but look forward to your return! Thank you for sharing your delicious looking rhubarb cake with #ShopLocal. My own rhubarb is just starting to get big enough to harvest and I can't wait to start using it.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth - the blog does take a huge chunk of time and time passes frighteningly fast while on the blog - enjoy your home grown rhubarb

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  5. Curious to see those street art photos. It'll be an interesting change!

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    1. Thanks Leaf - I was quite pleased at an excuse to post these photos - I do love street art

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  6. I can understand what you mean about time and energy when blogging is concerned. I haven't been doing it near as long as you but have now cut down the frequency of blogging. Sometimes I wonder. I have a two year old so, it's hard to pick up any form of social media or gadgets with him around.

    Your cake looks sumptuous, pretty and it probably has tang. Yum x

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    1. Thanks Deena - I think most bloggers seem to start of blogging at a crazy rate and find it needs to be reduced - I go up and down but I think even after the break I will blog a bit less

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  7. I'll miss your posts while you're gone but definitely understand the need for a break. Blogging/ blog reading has taken a back seat for me this last month as I've been away and interning full time but I've just arrived home and am really excited to devote more time to blogging again! Hopefully you'll store up lots of funny Sylvia stories to relate! She's a bright one for sure. All the best xx

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    1. Thanks Emma - yes sylvia is full of entertaining chatter - you did a great job with blogging while away - enjoy blogging from home again (and cooking in your own kitchen)

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  8. Yum I love rhubarb - the cake looks delicious! Love the things your Sylvia is saying, so cute! We are constantly amazed by the things our Sylvia comes out with. At the moment she is very into dinosaurs so is educating us on the topic, saying she is a scientist :) hope you enjoy your blog break and get to recharge

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    1. Thanks Kate - we have never had a dinosaurs phase but sylvia did get really into the solar system last year which amused me

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  9. This post makes me sad and pleased in one - sad because I will miss your posts, but pleased because a break sounds very indicated. I'll enjoy the street art and look forward to your new recipes when you return.

    This cake sounds lovely too, and Sylvia never ceases to amuse (and often amaze - what a lovely notion to only have 'no' in Arabic!). All the best for slowing down a bit this month.

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    1. Thanks Kari - sadly it is only my blogging that is slowing down - lots of stuff to do - like learning to say no in arabic :-) am sure you will enjoy some of the street art photos - it is like a little virtual tour of some of the quirkier places in Melbourne :-)

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  10. I hope you have a wonderful and very deserved break. I understand completely how you feel, as I've been feeling the same way as my blog. There is so much going on at the moment and blogging should be fun rather than yet another task to complete each week.
    Have a wonderful break and come back fresh and raring to go with more of your delicious recipes.

    That rhubarb cake look fabulous. So full of fruit!

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    1. Thanks Katie - the nice thing about blogging is that if you don't want to do it or life gets in the way we can take a break or slow down a bit - and having lots of other stuff on in life is not always a bad thing :-)

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  11. We have a lot in common. I love rhubarb, cake, Melbourne, compost bins, street art and McNulty.

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    1. Thanks Milk and Honey - these are all good things! I am missing my compost bin but enjoying spending some time with McNulty

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  12. How I wish we had long service leave here in the UK! I enjoy blogging and baking but similarly occasionally find it a chore or having 'bloggers block'! All the best with your leave!

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    1. Thanks Kate - long service leave is brilliant - unless you leave your job just before your long service leave kicks in and then that is frustrating :-)

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  13. Hi Johanna!
    I'm delighted to hear you are taking a blog break. I don't remember you ever taking a break! I'll be taking a break too as I am going to visit my daughter and grandkids for three weeks.

    I've been getting the feeling you are trying to accomplish way too much with these last couple of blog posts. A blog break is just what you need. I only hope you are back in time for the Picnic Game in June, lol…

    Sylvia really is coming out with some interesting thoughts and words. Very cool. Isn't it funny how we learn from our children?

    Enjoy your break Johanna. We'll be here when you return.

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    1. Thanks Louise - oooh picnic game in June - could be tempted - I probably do attempt too much but wish I had more energy and time to attempt more on my blog - enjoy your break too

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  14. Enjoy your break - hope its restful for you (even if it won't be quiet!!!) :-)

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    1. Thanks Sandy - that is a comment who knows it is never quiet with kids about :-)

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  15. This sounds like such an interesting thing.... this "service leave". I have been grappling with what to do when I leave for a month-long vacation and figured my blog would just be stagnant. Not sure whether I could make enough posts for when I am gone.. although I may taper in June and save some spares for July, perhaps. I look forward to seeing you return, refresh and renewed. :)

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    1. Thanks Janet - long service leave is like a reward for being in a job for 10 years - not sure if it is still as widespread in Australia as it used to be - or perhaps it is just that less people stay in a job for 10 years (or have to give 12 months notice on long service leave like a friend of mine found out recently). I always have some odd photos that I think I might post at some time and found a lot of these were street art. I think a taper sounds like a good idea.

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  16. Sounds like a plan to me! You so deserve it :)
    Also- you're the winner of my vitasoy giveaway! Congrats xxx

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    1. Thanks Claire - very excited to be the winner - looking forward to my vitasoy pack

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  17. Long service leave is a great idea - I take regular blog breaks to ensure that *I* don't break! I hope life quietens down for you during your well-deserved rest, and look forward to seeing your photos! :)

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    1. Thanks Celia - regular blog breaks sound wise - I liked your idea of reposting some archival posts on your recent break.

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  18. Long service leave is a great idea! :D And I've been trying to get into The Wire because I love Idris Elba but so far it has eluded me. I've heard that many think it's the best show ever made though! :o

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - I have to confess I fell asleep during the first episode of the Wire - we watched it too late - and then it took me quite a while to get into it but I highly recommend some perseverance - I am really getting into it after about 5 or 6 episodes. Not sure I would claim it is the best show ever made but maybe I will be the time we finish the boxset

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  19. Seven years - wow! You're definitely owed some time off. I'll miss reading your blog while you're away but I hope you come back ready for more! In the meantime, I'll be catching up with the street art. Enjoy the long service leave!

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  20. Haha that zombie comment made me think of Sean of the Dead. You know, I can never understand parents that allow their children to pat peoples dogs. I know my dog will nip if a kid gets close, so I pick her up. Most of my friends dogs are mature dogs and they aren't used to children either. I was at the vet yesterday and there were these two little brats who wouldn't listen to their mother about not touching peoples pets. ALL of the owners asked the children to not touch their dogs, yet they did anyway. She then instructed them to come over to me to see my lizard. People are too afraid to say no these days. CONGRATULTIONS on your 7 years! Wow. I don't even know how long mine has been. Thoroughly enjoyed your street art too :)

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  21. After seven years a break is just what you need to reconnect with life. Best wishes for a very happy time away.

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  22. I wasn’t into rhubarb after having a chunky rhubarb dessert (it was pretty new to me and I kept thinking it was celery) until someone made a sweet rhubarb sauce with ice cream, it was just amazing!

    I have a neighbor (actually it was a family with 7 kids) that lets their dog out (apparently he was leashed during the day in their backyard all seasons) and no one looks after him, sometimes he would roam further near the streets and all and poops everywhere. Obviously they are pretty irresponsible, they can’t just let a dog out like that in a suburban neighborhood. Most of them are leashed in my neighborhood with the exception of very old family big dogs (the ones that are very friendly with little kids).

    What amusing conversations you had with Sylvia, she is pretty funny especially the Arabic part, “La”, hehe! Ukelele is a beautiful instrument, I’ve been rocking on that music on Pandora lately; it’s simpler than an electric guitar for sure, I’m happy that she found her musical talent! Speaking of the WIRE, I love THE WIRE, and yes it takes a little while to get to know all the characters, but you can’t just…stop…watching! Enjoy it, Johanna!

    You deserve a full blogging break, I’m so glad I found your blog and I will certainly miss all these food posts you created - from kitchen snacks to beautiful desserts you’ve made and of course Sylvia! I think I read the part that you will be back in June, so I look forward to reading your posts soon and come back whenever you’re ready! ;)

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  23. Oooh, I love rhubarb, and what a great cake to use it in. Enjoy your long service leave.

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  24. Just seen your rhubarb cake in the round up. It looks lovely. Our rhubarb has been a bit slow in taking off this year but when we eventually get some, a rhubarb cake sounds like a good idea.
    Hope you are having/had a good break. Blogging takes a lot of effort and time and I am sure that sometimes you have to get off that treadmill!

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  25. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at idea from a angle I hadn't given thought to yet. Now lets see if I can do something productive with it.

    PIC Bonus 2014

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