8 March 2010

In praise of the domestic

Even without the overcast sky I think it would have been cooler this weekend.  We've passed through the time when hot turns to warm and now we're getting closer to when warm becomes cool.  Perfect!  I want it to be March and April all year.  Hanno and I had a traditional, for us, Sunday.  He ventured out to the wet and squelchy garden to put up trellises for the cucumbers, I baked and did some sewing.  All in all it was a lovely day.

I had been meaning to use up some of the delicious chocolate the people at Green and Black sent me before Christmas.  I'd already given some to Shane and Kerry, and made some chocolate mousse, then forgot to take photos of it. Yesterday, in my celebration of quiet domestic Australian Sunday, I made choc chip biscuits.  It was an easy task because I already had the cookie dough made and frozen, all I had to do was defrost and chop.

The cookie dough I used is the cheap and easy recipe I found at the down to earth forum which I think is an old Australian recipe from many moons ago. When I make this recipe I always halve it and have the second half in the freezer for a month or so:

Makes 7-8 dozen, cook for 10 minutes in a preheated oven at 180C

500 grams butter (approx 1.1 lb)
1 can condensed milk (390-400 gram) - my homemade condensed milk recipe is here.
1 cup sugar
5 cups self raising flour (or all purpose flour and baking powder)

With the dough already in hand, it was simply a matter of chopping the chocolate - I used the deliciously bitter sweet 70 percent dark chocolate with a small hand full of mixed nuts - brazils, hazels, almonds, cashews, macadamias.  Mixed together and flattened out with my hands on the kitchen bench, it only took a few minutes and they were in the oven.

Ten minutes later the house filled with the aroma of freshly made biscuits and Sunday was smelling the way it should smell.  There are two aromas that make a real domestic Sunday - baking biscuits or cake and roasting meat.  We had roast chicken for dinner.  Lunch was a tuna, tomato and onion pumpernickel sandwich and a still warm from the oven biscuit and black tea.  Delicious! 

Just after lunch, I planted some vegetable seeds and looked around my bush house where I put sick plants to recover, grow my orchids, and keep new seedlings.  There has been so much rain, moss is growing on the benches and all my watering containers were full of rain water.  Not that I needed to use them with the plants still saturated and growing wildly.  It was a real treat to be surrounded by new growth and the promise of new life.  So many things are made possible with abundant water.  I checked all the water containers and found cane toad tadpoles in one so I tipped them out and made a mental note to return before the week was up to use the water before mosquitoes have the chance to hatch.  This year has been the worst one yet for mosquitoes.

All in all it was a lazy day with things being done when I felt like doing them. The bed was made in the afternoon when I started to think about sleeping in an unmade bed, no floors were swept and the laundry stayed unwashed for another day.  In the afternoon, while the chicken started roasting, we watched a documentary about happiness.  Bliss!  I hope you enjoyed your weekend and that the week ahead is a productive and rewarding one for all of us.


  1. Rhonda..your weekend sounds quite relaxing! I love the look of those biscuits..
    Our weekend here is not quite over yet as it is Sunday afternoon as I type this..I have a chicken roasting in the oven for supper and honey'ed carrots and mashed potatoes will round out the meal.
    Wish I could be gardening already..

  2. There's something wonderful about a slow Sunday. I too baked biscuits, had a roast and even baked an apple pie for dessert, all while my boys and husband were playing ball games in the front yard. Joy !

  3. Hi Rhonda, Glad you had a lovely day. Those biscuits look great will give them a try soon.

    Have a good week.


  4. cane toad tadpoles! wow, didn't even think of those where you live.

    I am so glad the heat has passed.. I have just gone into instant menopause, which is not fun in the heat!
    love reading about your day Rhonda xo

  5. Sounds like a perfect day to me Rhonda Jean. Biscuits baking. gardening, chicken roasting and tv watching. I make that biscuit mix to and usually freeze some for later. A lot of people actually freeze the cooked biscuits but I have not tried that.
    Hope the weather fines up for you

  6. I love your slow Sunday. Since it is still Sunday here, I'm getting ready to get pizza crust dough going in the bread machine, and will start the homemade sauce so that it can simmer while the dough is rising. It's a favorite thing I like to do on Sunday afternoons.

    Your biscuits look great!


  7. Still stuck in the snow here, but last week the wife, kids and I went to Phipps Conservatory here in PA. They were displaying I would say hundreds of different orchids.


    It was just wonderful to see all that green after months of being in the snow.

    I enjoy your blog, Jason

  8. Must be that time of year! I made the same receipe biscuits only the other day. And I too added choc chips. I only made a 1/4 of the receipe and froze the rest in three lots. Now I only have to defrost and cut and cook and we will have more cookies.
    Its a great receipe.I even posted pics of them on my blog.
    thanks Ronda.

  9. Beautiful! Rhonda, do you make your own pumpernickel? If so, I would love to know your recipe. I have had trouble finding a good one that slices well.

  10. Glad to hear you are keeping an eye on the mosquitoes. All the standing water in Qld this year is going to cause quite a few problems I think. Did you hear the Background Briefing program a couple weeks back about how there is a new mossie here now, and with everybody collecting water, Dengue fever is likely to get much worse?

  11. Those biscuits sound wonderful as does your weekend. Since the weather has just turned nice here, I've spent a bit of time outside this weekend working in the asparagus patch since it will soon be up! Feels good to feel tired. I've got a few more hours left in this Sunday to enjoy before hubby fixes dinner! Have a great week.

  12. Good morning Rhonda, it sounds blissful. My Sunday happens today so baking and roasting are on the agenda as well as some knitting and sewing.

  13. Your Sunday sounds wonderful. Mine has been pretty great, too.

  14. Mmmmmm I love the smell of biscuits baking ..... yours looked so lovely displayed in the glass jars. Mine don't even hit the bikky barrel long enough to admire. My 2DS's think that everything that I bake must be consumed in hours not days LOL!!!!
    Have taken note of your recipe Rhonda and will see how long it takes to get through this lot.

    BTW The Boyds Hotel has now been converted into an upmarket establishment than what it used to be back in the 80's and 90's LOL!!!
    I still have family that live there but I am so happy we made the move to Townsville. It is so lovely to see greenery most of the year round.

    Manola :)

  15. We're coming out of a long winter of bad weather and illness. I can hardly wait for the rhubarb to begin peeking through the ground this year, a sure sign of spring for us.

    Our raised bed garden is waiting but we can't plant for almost two months!

    You are so right about how wonderful domestic practices are... I started beef broth yesterday and let the veggie beef soup simmer until ready today. My son was home from University and the aroma sent him to the kitchen quickly. :)

  16. Good Morning Rhonda... Just a question - How do you tell the difference between Cane Toad tadpoles and frog tadpoles. I have a container with some in it & would hate to tip it out if it happened to be green frogs as we do have a lot of them around the garden, but lately with all this rain(I live not far from you) we have been having a plague of cane toads. Thanks for your help, loving your posts(as usual)

  17. Hi Rhonda, we had a relaxing weekend too. My husband spent time still preparing for the new seasons gardens, & we planted seedlings too, & I made my niece a cute little pink stuffed monster for her 4th birthday. I have a good biscuit recipe that I always use, but I will definately give yours ago in the next couple of weeks.
    Erika (Gold Coast)

  18. What a nice day you had. I love when we have those slow, good weather days. Of course ours have never included chocolate chip bisquits, but that will have to change! Yum.

  19. Is a biscuit the same thing as an American cookie? Here in the US we drop cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfulls onto baking sheets. I am curious to know more about your method of making them (if biscuits & cookies are the same thing).

  20. Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us - it sounds blissful!

    I spent part of Sunday making my first batch of homemade laundry powder using your recipe - I love it!!

  21. Just for the heck of it I googled for info on cane toads (invasive species I see:( Your day sounded perfect. .

  22. One word........YUM!
    I like what your banner says......it reminds me of the name of our farm..."Ancient Future Farm". I like that blogging leads us to find like minded folks.
    I hope your weekend was a good one!

  23. What a wonderful, relaxing Sunday you experienced. There is something soothing about traditions such as Sunday roasts and relaxed hours. I am intrigued by the sound of that documentary?
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  24. I sat down to knit yesterday afternoon and just caught the end of that doco on happiness. Wish I had of seen it all.

    Those bikkies look good. I'm making apple slice and a chocolate and vanilla swirl cake for this week. It's a long weekend here so I'm on my second Sunday today.

    cheers Kate

  25. It sounds like you had a wonderfully relaxing Sunday. I just love days like that. I was excited to see your biscuit recipe, would you believe I use that very same one! Someone put the recipe into our primary school's cookbook, and it has been a firm favourite ever since. My daughter always wants to lick the condensed milk spoon!

  26. What a lovely day with lots of yummy things!

  27. Sounds like a nice weekend. We try to keep Sundays very special since we went on holiday to the Outer Hebrides last year and noticed the difference when we were there and you are right about the smell of a roast cooking, it's very 'Sunday'.

  28. I had a similar weekend of baking, crocheting and relaxing. Isn't it wonderful? Your cookies look delicious.

  29. Here is something to help your mosquito problem: I keep goldfish in my rain barrels to eat the mosquito larva. In my area (South Florida, USA)the fish can stay outside in the barrels throughout the year. Occasionally, I throw some bread crumbs in the barrels for them to eat, but I think they would survive only on the larva. The fish do double duty by eating the larva and fertilizing the water for my garden the natural way.

  30. I am looking forward to your tomato plant post. I've been out in my garden, too...digging around to prepare for the soon arrival of our Midwestern U.S. spring planting season. Love it!

  31. Hi Rhonda, I was born in 1970 but it wasn't until I was older (uumm in the 80's)did I realise what this pub was.

    BTW the biscuits turned out beautifully ..... made up a batch of dough (froze a half) and baked the other half. I got about 70 biscuits but there's only about 50 left thanks to the boys coming home from school.

    Thanks again for a great post.
    Manola :)

  32. I think this recipe is the same one my Aunty used for her bickies. We never got the chance to get her recipe before she passed, and she didn't keep a recipe book. I remember she would make up a batch, divide it up and add different flavourings to each lot. Yummo. Off it search the forum now. Thanks Rhonda Jean, you are a real gem. Hugs, Deb

  33. Hello Rhonda,

    The first time i saw your apple cake I have been wanting to make it... I made it today and it met all of my expectations. Great recipe - thank you for sharing it with us!

  34. Sounds like such a lovely, restful day! The biscuit recipe looks great...I use one with shortening, but the butter would probably taste much better.


  35. hi
    Your biscuits look so yummy , i have never baked cookies or biscuits before should try them one day
    can i ask you something hope its not silly... whats a pumpernickel sandwich ?
    Do you get fresh or tinned tuna , i just had the first tinned tuna of my life a couple of weeks back and i felt it was yummy...


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