Lamingtons are my favourite cake and you can't get a more Australian cake than the lamington. My problem is that to make them the traditional way takes too long. When I want a lamington I want it now, I don't want to have to make a plain cake, wait a day (because fresh cake doesn't cut or coat nicely), then go through the dipping process.
So this easy cheat on traditional lamingtons is perfect. You can have fresh lamingtons on the table in around 30 minutes, perfect if you have a sudden craving or unexpected visitors (or your kids tell you as they are going to bed that they need to take something to share for a class party the next day).
This recipe relies on a bought sponge. You can buy a double layer plain sponge at the supermarket. I buy the block sponge when it is on markdown and stash it in the freezer until I need to use it.
Having it frozen helps speed up the making process too - frozen cake is easier to cut into squares and the icing sets faster. Of course you don't need to use the cake frozen, it's just that if it is in the freezer you don't need to thaw it.
Easiest Ever Lamingtons
1 packet block sponge cake (double layer)
2 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
¼ cup milk
¼ cup boiling water
2-½ cups coconut
Cut the sponge cake into 7cm x 5cm (approximately) rectangles. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl. Add the milk and boiling water and stir until smooth. Pour the coconut into a small bowl. Use a fork to individually dip the cakes into the chocolate icing then turn them over. Don't leave them in the icing too long or they'll go soggy - just dip, cover and turn. When covered with icing remove with the fork and place them in the coconut. Turn the cakes over until they are covered in coconut. Place the lamingtons on a cake rack until the icing is set.
Here's an old tip for coating your cakes with the icing. If you have a Tupperware Pick-a-Deli (the beetroot/pickle container) put the icing into the container and then use the strainer to dip the cakes. Just put one on the strainer, lower it into the icing, lift it out, let it drain for a couple of seconds and then tip the cake into the coconut. Saves messing about with forks and getting drips everywhere. There are other similar containers around, if you have one that will hold your icing and your cake use it.
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
Before you fill your cupboards with bulk items, you may want to review the average "life" of those products you are considering purchasing. Ask yourself if you have adequate storage space, freezer space, and how much your family enjoys the products you are purchasing. This is a list of the average life of some common pantry and fridge/freezer foods.
Meat & Poultry - Uncooked:
Chicken/Turkey - 9 months
Steaks, beef - 6 to 12 months
Chops, pork - 4 to 6 months
Chops, lamb - 6 to 9 months
Roasts, beef - 6 to 12 months
Roasts, lamb - 6 to 9 months
Roasts, pork and veal - 4 to 6 months
Stew Meats - 3 to 4 months
Ground meats - 3 to 4 months
Organ meats - 3 to 4 months
Butter/margarine - 6-9 months
Cheese, soft and spreads, dips - 1 months
Cheese, hard or semi-hard - 6 months
Eggs in shell- Do not freeze
Ice cream - 1 months
Milk / Cream- 3 weeks
Dried Food Items - Shelf Life:
Baking powder/bi-carb soda - 18 months
Bread Crumbs - 6 months
Cereals - 6 months
Flour/cake mixes - 1 year
Gelatin/pudding mixes - 1 year
Herbs/spices - 6-12 months
Milk, nonfat dry - 6 months
Pancake/pastry mixes - 6 months
Pasta/noodles - 2 years
Potatoes, instant - 18 months
Rice, white - 2 years
Sugar, white - 2 years
Sugar, brown, - 4 months
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
One of the best things I learned to do is to say "no".
Being overwhelmed with things to do is not good for your health or your budget. When you are flat out is when you spend without thinking, opt for takeaway because it's easier and go for convenience over price and health.
Of course there are times when that's OK. But being flat out because you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings or appear impolite is a problem.
Learn to say no.
You don't need to offer an explanation; in fact, if you do, you are leaving yourself open to be offered an alternative.
Just say NO! - and then change the subject.
This was first posted on Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
I don't have strange ingredients in the back of the pantry. Or rather I don't have ingredients I don't use at the back of the pantry (some of the things I use may be a little strange to some folk).
I tend to buy the same basic groceries over and over and over and just rearrange them into different recipes. It means my grocery bill rarely varies from month to month and is predictable, unless of course there is a price rise (drat those price rises).
Wendy talked about using coconut milk in a recipe and finding it overpowering, so she gave it another go and that recipe failed the Family Approval Test too. In the end she donated the remaining can of coconut milk to a food drive.
I use coconut cream in curry and satay and to make custard. My family likes coconut so it is a pantry staple in our home. Wendy's family isn't so keen on it and so it is an extra ingredient. Those strange ingredients in a recipe will depend on your taste, your budget and your daring as a cook.
In the interests of keeping a happy family we try to have one new recipe a month. It may be a main meal or a side dish, it might be a cake or slice, sometimes it is a new jam, sauce or pickle. Everyone takes turns choosing the recipe from the dozens of recipe books on the shelf.
Sometimes a new recipe is a hit and goes onto the regular recipe rotation; sometimes it is a dud and we all vow to never, ever try it again (like the infamous SALMON DISH - and yes the kids talk about it in capitals, they shudder at the very mention of it).
If a new recipe uses an ingredient that's not in the pantry I try to find a substitute I already have. If I don't have a substitute and I really want to try the recipe I buy the smallest size I can to try it.
Then if we like it and it's an ingredient I can use in other things I'll look for the cheapest way to buy it.
Here's a list of substitutes you can use when you find you don't have all the ingredients you need for a recipe.
Living on a budget is the key to financial freedom, but getting started can be frustrating. When we look at our expenses and see all of those bills we're paying every month, it's easy to throw our hands up in disgust. But what about all those little expenses we incur? You might be surprised to find out just how much they amount to.
It's easy to dismiss cutting back on little things. A few dollars a month won't make a significant difference in the big picture. But a few dollars here and a few dollars there adds up to a few more dollars. When you cut back in a lot of small ways, you could end up with a lot more money at the end of the month.
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
In line with the Saving Revolutions UWMW creed (Use it up, Wear it out, Make do or Do without) today I am going to look at some kitchen gadgets that serve more than one purpose, often being used for a job completely alien to their original use.
It is easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding kitchen gadgets, especially this time of year around Mother's Day. The junk mail has been full of gadgets, all designed to make life in the kitchen easier and prettier. And they do. But sadly many of these gadgets end up sitting in drawers or at the backs of cupboards forgotten and unused, wasting money and space simply because they are advertised and marketed as a single purpose item, often an item that might only be used once or twice a year.
That is a huge waste of money and of cupboard space.
For example I have a lemon juicer, the metal type where I put the lemon half in upside down and bring the top of the juicer down and it pushes the lemon inside out. It was advertised as a lemon juicer. Next to it were a lime juicer, an orange juicer and a grapefruit juicer. They all do the same job. The only difference was the size - the orange and grapefruit juicers were a little larger. We don't like grapefruit so I don't have to worry about fitting them in the juicer.
I bought the lemon juicer and it gets used for lemons, limes and oranges.
I can imagine though, someone buying all four because they haven't thought the purchase through.
Before you buy any new gadget ask yourself these questions:
1.Do I really need it?
2.Will I use it often enough to warrant the purchase price?
3.Do I already have something that will do, or can be adapted to do, the same job?
4.Do I have the cash to pay for it?
If you answer yes to questions 1, 2 and 4 and no to question 3, then perhaps it is worth your while buying it.
But if you don't, then apply the $100/24 Hour Rule (even if it's just a couple of dollars) and wait. Chances are, as with most spontaneous purchases, you'll find you either don't want it, can't be bothered going back to get it or will find something you already have or cheaper.
So what are some UWMW gadgets?
Biscuit, Cookie and Pastry Cutters - they are really cute in all those pretty shapes and sizes but really a drinking glass or small jam jar serves the same purpose and costs nothing. Use a saucer or bread and butter plate for cutting pie crusts, measuring tortillas etc. Egg rings can be used to make English muffins and small crumpets, cut both ends off a 185g tuna tin to make a larger crumpet ring.
Cake Rack - use the rack out of your baking dish or turn a muffin tin upside down and cool your sheet cakes on it. Cake racks are expensive, so why spend the money if you don't have to?
Rolling Pin - a long neck wine bottle does a great job as a rolling pin. And you can chill it in the fridge if you are going to use it to roll pastry.
Garlic Press - handy to have but hard to clean! Use a large, flat bladed knife to give the garlic cloves a whack. They'll break open easily, you can peel them and then dice or crush them.
Icing Bag - use a (clean) ziplock with one corner snipped off to pipe icing and cream. If you have piping tubes they will slip into the corner so you can pipe decorative shapes.
Funnel - paper coffee filters make great funnels for dry goods. Snip the end of the filter off and place it into the jar or bottle you are going to fill. For wet items cut the top off a clean, empty soft drink bottle.
Vegetable Steamer - put some water in the bottom of a saucepan. Line the saucepan with foil that has had some small holes punched through it, hanging foil over the sides of the saucepan to create a basket. Put the veggies in the basket, place the lid on the saucepan and steam.
Necessity really is the mother of invention.
Next time you think you "need" a kitchen gadget, stop and think carefully. Use your imagination and get creative. Take a good look at the gadgets and tools you have and think about how you can use them to your best advantage.
And keep your money in the bank.
From Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
I watched a fascinating documentary today about Warren Buffet, who takes turns at being the world's richest man with Bill Gates. It's called The World's Greatest Money Maker: Warren Buffet
Mr Buffet has a personal wealth that is estimated to be more than $37 billion. His company, Berkshire Hathaway is worth $150 billion, he owns a quarter outright.
So what makes this billionaire different to all the other wealthy people in the world?
His attitude to money. This man lives life frugally, he embraces the Cheapskates way of life and is proud to say so.
He lives with his wife in the house they have lived in for over 50 years. He and his wife raised their three children in this home, and they were by no means spoiled. Indeed his son Peter tells the story of asking his dad for $5 so he go out with his friends and buy McDonalds for their dinner. His father gave him the $5, but he told him to bring the change back (which we have always done with our kids). He said it with a smile, but he meant it. He wanted the change.
His wife clips coupons and shops on a budget. She runs the household on a strict budget and lights are turned off when no one is in the room, food isn't wasted and nothing is thrown away unless there is absolutely no other use for it.
Bill Gates says of Warren Buffett "he has never ramped up his ability to consume". What a testimonial! he lives as he did when he had no money and was a struggling young husband and father! A lesson to learn for all of us. In this day and age of out of control consumerism, knowing the richest man in the world shuns it is an incredible example for anyone wanting to live the Cheapskates way and enjoy debt free, cashed up life.
But for me the thing that sets Warren Buffet apart from other wealthy people is that he doesn't judge what he does by the standards of other people.
Instead, he lives the way he does and works the way he does so he can enjoy the things in life that are important to him.
Just like we do. I've always said we choose to not spend our money on things that aren't important to us so we have the money to spend on the things that are.
It's why we are Cheapskates and live the Cheapskates way, to live life debt free, cashed up and laughing.
This post was first published at Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing