homemaking · recipes


chocolate cherry nut refrigerator cake

At any time you care to name, there can be at least five of these chocolate biscuit slab cakes under our roof. As odd as that sounds, it is the plain truth, and if you would like this to be your reality, read further.

Once upon a time we had a dishwasher. Alas, on one dark and stormy night, to my horror it leaked everywhere and was certified beyond repair. My greatest fear was that we would never survive the interval of time that would elapse whilst a replacement was sourced and installed. It may be, that we would have to (gulp) wash dishes. In the kitchen sink. By hand.

As today’s therapists will purport, exposure therapy is the most effective treatment for eradicating irrational fear. Accordingly, we exposed ourselves to dirty crockery, soapy liquid and hot water and within a week I realised that not only did we survive without a dishwasher, life had become less complicated. Suddenly there was nothing to unpack, load or maintain. Our dishes were always ready to use, not backed-up waiting for a ”full load” and plunging hands into warm water whilst gazing into the garden through the kitchen window, was indeed pleasant. So the decision was made, family life would continue on without a dishwasher.

A simple enough solution but now, what to do about the gaping underbench void left by the departed.

Well this is what I did – I created a stockpile storage solution or as the children affectionately term it, the ”Doomsday Preppers Cupboard”. I simply fit out the space with an Ikea storage drawer system and concealed it with a pull across curtain. These drawers are filled with wonderful supermarket buys. Multiple purchases of nuts, canned food, pasta, dried fruit, cereals, and other assorted weekly staples, when the prices are really low. Having a healthy supply of all of the essentials without the pantry clutter is an effective way to operate in the kitchen.A stockpile to draw upon not only saves a considerable amount of money spent on the yearly grocery bill but enables you to pull together a Chocolate Biscuit Refrigerator cake at a moment’s notice. All of the ingredients for this recipe can be plucked from the stockpile, with the exception of eggs and butter, which are basics I always have on hand.

chocolate refrigerator cake 150g butter
100g golden syrup
200g dark chocolate ,chopped
1 beaten egg 350g plain sweet biscuits (Marie, Milk Coffee, Digestives etc), broken into chunks
60g walnuts
60g sultanas
100g glacé cherries
75g pecan nuts

  1. Line a square or rectangle baking tin with baking paper.
  2. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Add the chocolate, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and stir until the chocolate has melted.
  4. Gradually add the beaten egg and continue to stir until the mixture has thickened a little.
  5. Remove from the heat.
  6. Combine biscuits, walnuts, sultanas and half the glacé cherries in a bowl. Pour the hot chocolate mix over this dry blend and mix together.
  7. Spoon  the mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down firmly.
  8. Put the pecan nuts in the bowl that contained the chocolate mixture and stir them around to coat them in the chocolate.
  9. Scatter the pecans and the remaining glace cherries over the cake,
  10. Refrigerate for three hours or until set, then cut into slices of the desired length,

Wash up your dishes – by hand.

a piece of chocolate refrigerator cakePostscript: Not only will your stockpile hold the constituents of a Chocolate Biscuit Refrigerator cake, but also the foundations of most week night family meals.



coffee and walnut cake

When was the last time you savoured a lovely slice of coffee cake? 1972? Yes, that’s very likely the same decade that I last had mine too. With its pseudo-European overtones and bordering-on-illicit focal ingredient, one could not help feeling just a little bit grown up being offered a slice.

With movement in time, so came improvement in coffee cake. Today’s are far superior to those gran-used-to-make, and I say this not because I’m gerontophobic, but because we now have access to authentic rich coffee – the essential ingredient that alluded our grandmothers. When I think of the talcum-style coffee products these early cooks had to rely on, it is a wonder that the coffee cake recipe was not forced to extinction. Instead of large screw top jars of dust-like powder, we now have the benefit of slick espresso machines to deliver a damn good shot on demand. (Just one more thing to be grateful for)

And with one shot in the batter and the other in the icing, this coffee and walnut cake is a wonderful way to cherish culinary evolution.

185g softened butter
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp good coffee
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts and some extras to dot on the icing

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and grease a large round cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs individually, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift all of the dry ingredients together and fold them through the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.
  5. Add the coffee and gently mix through until well combined.
  6. Fold through the chopped walnuts.
  7. Spoon mixture into cake tin and bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  8. After cake has cooled, ice with 1 1/2 cups of sifted icing sugar, with 1 to 2 tablespoons of good coffee mixed in until it is a firm spreading consistency.
  9. Scatter walnut halves across the top.

coffee and walnut cake sliced

Postscript: Now I’m sure our European friends are smirking quietly here, as never were they without the magic stuff.

health and wellbeing


Goodness only knows why a cowboy wielding a frying pan dispenses my loose-leaf tea, but apparently the 1950s/60s Japanese manufacturers considered it to be the height of kitchen chic to do so.

Being a Twinings tea-bag girl, it’s not often that this canister makes an appearance from the back stalls of the pantry, but on the occasions when a teapot brew is called for, gosh it makes me smile.

Making a pot of tea signifies a break in the daily journey – a segment of life dedicated to ‘right now’. The ritual of tea making – warming the pot, allowing the leaves to steep and carefully straining as you pour – necessitates a slower pace and time to consider. There is nothing instant about this process.

It is no coincidence that a slice of fruit loaf tastes so good with a cup of tea – rather than when it is consumed unconsciously on-the-fly amidst email checking or grocery unpacking.  While your tea settles to drinking temperature, there is time and attention made available to savor each morsel.

In the company of friends I am more inclined to fill the teapot as it suggests multiple refills and an extension of conversation, an atmosphere the one-tea-bag-per-cup alternative fails to achieve.

It may have been a while since last you saw your teapot. If this is so, in the coming week I encourage you to seek it out, allow it to pour you a decent cup of peace and place that well-deserved comma in the lengthy sentence of your day.

Postscript: I’m sure my tea canister is one of a series, possibly having siblings named rice, flour and sugar – would love to organise a family reunion someday.