Friday, 3 February 2012

Bush birthday banana cake and other self catering at Lorne

One of the reasons we went to Lorne last week was that I had decided I wanted to celebrate my birthday with a swim in the sea.  In my previous post about Lorne I wrote about our holiday but I wanted to have a separate post to reflect on self catering.  Before we had Sylvia we often stayed in B&Bs with no kitchen facilities.  Now we often stay in self catering apartments.  It is much easier with a young child.  As you can see in the above photo, I even self catered my birthday cake with Ricki's Banana Oat Bars.

So these days we pack food in the car.  The sort of things I took away on this trip were english muffins, teabags, milk, oats (for porridge), honey, promite, pancake mixture, maple syrup (did I really need two sweeteners?), vegie sausages, vegie burgers, tomato sauce, a stir through olive and tomato pasta sauce, ranch dressing, smoky potato salad dressing (did I need two salad dressings?) dried pasta, tins of beans, capsicum, corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, potatoes, cheeses, quince paste, dips, crackers, chips, roasted chickpeas, soda water, soda water with lime, butter, olive oil (never used it but what kitchen is complete without it), watermelon, grapes, nectarines, chocolate block, mini magnum icecreams, and banana oat slice.

Yes, I overcater.  We had plenty of food to take home and we haven't done much grocery shopping since the holiday.  Now isn't that better than leaving food on a plate at a restaurant!  I also took along some plastic bowls, cups, plates and cutlery for Sylvia, and a favourite chopping board and medium mixing bowl.  Just in case.  (Can you tell I was a girl guide - be prepared!)

Holidays mean more processed food than usual because it is easy and indulgent.  That is what holidays should be isn't it!  Especially when there is a birthday involved.  Sylvia loves to grab one of the bottles of pancake mix in the supermarket and usually I say no.  I was going to say yes on our pre-holiday shopping trip and then I spied the Pancake Parlour mixture.  I loved the Pancake Parlour as a kid and even once bought a packet of this stuff from the restaurant (though no one else in my family remembers it).

Pancakes from a packet are easy holiday breakfast.  And perfect birthday breakfast.  If you look carefully you will see the 1961 copy of a murder mystery set in Melbourne University that E found me in the Lorne op shop.  I also got a Church CD, a guide to veganism book, a healthy baking cookbook, a book of lyrics by Jarvis Cocker, a gorgeous plate, a bottle of good olive oil and a digital radio.  And my swim in the sea.  It really was a wonderful birthday.

It was also a birthday that seemed full of nostalgia.  Chocolates such as this caramel one are so tempting in the supermarket but I try not to get sucked in to trying every new flavour and brand.  I had never seen this one before or heard of the brand (Gran's).  But thought it was tooth-achingly sweet, I loved a little piece because it tasted like the fudge centre of one of my favourite chocolate bars in childhood - chokito.

Though I wanted to try lots of cafes and restaurants, I know that getting Sylvia to eat a decent dinner and sleep in the evening is a challenge.  We decided we would eat out for lunch and have dinner in the apartment at night.  I btought a long lots of vegetables partly so that I could make sure Sylvia ate them.  She eats too many chips when she eats out and I find it difficult find a healthy meal with enough vegetables to satisfy me in a cafe.

The first night we had a Smoky potato, bean and corn salad with vegies sausages.  I had made up the dressing at home and the rest was quite easy to make up in the kitchen of the apartment (which was quite well stocked).  On another night we had some pasta salad with vegies, beans and a low fat ranch dressing.  I also had a pasta sauce in case we wanted a quick pasta meal but that never eventuated.

For my birthday I had decided I wanted to plan a nice meal that we could make ourselves.  After much puzzling over this, I decided that I would take some nice cheeses.  We stopped at the supermarket in Geelong and bought jarlsberg, brie, smoked cheddar, vintage cheddar, and quince paste.  With some dips, chips and crackers it was an easy lunch to take into the bush for a picnic.

For the birthday cake, I had decided to make hedgehog.  I even took down the ingredients because they are quite simple.  Yet I ended up making a banana oat slice from Diet Dessert and Dogs before I left because we had two over-ripe bananas.  As you can see it didn't want to behave and cracked horribly when I tipped it out of the tin.  It was more cake than flapjack - quite moist and crumbly but wholesomely delicious, especially in warm weather when the choc chips were melty.  We had plenty of it on holiday so it seemed silly to make anything else.

You can see my banana oat slice above on a plate I bought from the op shop for 50c.  On the top photo you can see that I took along candles and matches for the cake but used the lid of the tub because I forgot a plate.  I had thought Sylvia would enjoy blowing out the candles but the wind got there first.  Below is the birthday cakes that my mum made for me when I dropped in to see my family on the way home.  All the kids had a turn blowing out those candles!  We also had a great tex mex feast that my mum had prepared.

Lastly I will leave you one of the funnier moments on our trip.  As we drove through Torquay on Australia Day, two surfer guys with long bleached hair ran over to our car as we stopped at a traffic light.  They gave us a few lamingtons and looked at Sylvia sleeping in the backseat in her blue and white t-shirt and gave us an Aussie flag, saying "this is for the little fella".  It gave us a laugh but we didn't put the flag on our car, as you know what they are saying about racism and people with flags on their car.  The guys' enthusiasm was infectious!  A hilarious moment in a great holiday!

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: CC Soba noodle salad
This time two years ago: My Camera Birthday Cake
This time three years ago: Apricot and Orange Glazed Tofu
This time four years ago: Muhammara by Moonlight

Banana Choc Chip Oat Slice
Adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs

2 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup raw sugar (or other unrefined sugars such as coconut sugar)
1 tbsp finely ground linseeds (flax seeds)
1/4 cup milk (I think I used soy)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark choc chips (or dried fruit)
1, 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup oat flour (I ground oats in blender)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line or grease a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the bananas, raw sugar, flax seeds, milk, oil and vanilla.  Set aside and mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour the wet mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until combined.  The mixture seems quite wet but this is ok.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in preheated oven until it is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Ricki suggested 40-45 minutes but I took 60 minutes and it was still quite moist.

Cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Cut into pieces and keep in an airtight container.  Ours was good after 6 days and Ricki says you can freeze them.

On the Stereo:
The Best of the Radio Songs: The Church

24 comments:

  1. It's probably the control freak in me, but I'd almost always rather cook for myself while on vacation. This way I KNOW the food will be good! All of your eats sound so tasty.

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    1. Thanks Joanne - I feel the same but I still live in hope that chefs can do something to knock my socks off!

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  2. Hope you had a wonderful birthday. What better way to spend it than relaxing on holiday with family.

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    1. Thanks Katie - I can't think of anything better to do on a birthday or any other day!

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  3. Interesting, the article linked about flags and racism in Australia. Here in the US after 911 I started seeing the US flag on cars and everywhere else, pinned on clothes, in shop windows, decorating peoples' ebay listings, etc. At first it was understandable, but after a couple of years I started to find flag waving associated with war mongering. I dunno.

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    1. Thanks Bliss - it is only this year I have really noticed a lot of flags on cars so am not sure if it is a new phenomenon here

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  4. Happy Birthday, hope you had did get that swim!

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    1. Thanks K - I did get the swim (though more of a paddle in the ocean as you had to go out a long way to really swim but that is enough for me

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  5. Oh my gosh, I want to steal your groceries for this holiday! So delicious! Funnily enough, I've never been tempted by that chocolate you bought, knowing in my heart it would be too sweet for me :P

    Of course, that article came up in my work day, but I did enjoy this ripost (of sorts) to it: http://www.thepunch.com.au/articles/flying-the-flag-for-lazy-gotcha-polling/

    P.S. I'd never fly a flag though. It symbolises not necessarily racism only but other negative aspects of "patriotism" to me. Not my bag, baby :P

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    1. Thanks Hannah - enjoyed that link - we are not really into the flags most of the time but I have occasionally decorated cheese with little flag toothpicks for a bit of retro fun - I didn't think you would enjoy the chocolate but it is good in small amounts - not sure I will buy it again but will buy a lot of the other groceries again

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  6. Happy birthday! I'm sorry I missed saying it on the actual day but am glad the trip to Lorne was able to commemorate it appropriately. I hope you had a wonderful day and the next year is a good one...I didn't realise in our back and forth commenting on January birthdays that you were included in the mix!

    I was interested to read your thoughts on self-catering as we definitely tend that way on holidays, whenever possible. The accommodation is often bigger and more practical too, and saving on breakfast costs alone seems worthwhile!

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    1. Thanks Kari - I like to keep my birthday lowkey - accommodatiion is bigger with self catering but E and I have loved some of the B&Bs we have stayed at and had great hosts so I love them too when they are good

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  7. I have fond memories of being a child and self catered picnics at the sea. Your pictures have taken me back in time lol.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY too ;0)

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    1. Thanks Chele - I remember fish and chips at the sea as a child more than self catered picnics - but I do love a good picnic with my family

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  8. Happy belated birthday! What a fabulous spread this is. I love Chokito bars - you can still buy them (they reintroduced them a few years ago).

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    1. Thanks Cakelaw - I try not to think about chokito bars too often as I love them - but I have also discovered some chocolate fudge bars at the vic market very like chokitos - also something it is wise not to dwell on :-)

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  9. Sounds like you were well prepared! It reminds me of when my brother and I were little - we used to drive to France for holidays, and my mum would pack Heinz baked beans and Ribena so that we'd have something to eat that we would like. Sigh, all that lovely French food we missed out on!!!

    I like the look of your birthday cake, and a picnic by the sea sounds like a perfect celebration.

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    1. Thanks C - I was rather well prepared - always plan with lots of lists - baked beans and ribena in france is hilarious - hope you are making up for it now - oh to be able to drive to France!

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  10. Happy Birthday!! Wishing you a year of joy and deliciousness!! :-) Such a beautiful holiday and a gorgeous Birthday feast! I too love this recipe of Ricki's... :-) And doing your own cooking on Holiday is the best - so much more healthy and fun too!

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  11. Thanks Astra - I find on holidays I want to minimise cooking but a few short cuts are quite understandable and make life so much easier

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  12. A belated happy birthday to you, Johanna! I can't think of any better way to celebrate than with a beach holiday. :-)

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  13. Happy belated birthday Johanna! Sounds like you were well prepared for your holiday. I'm tending to take food away with me too these days as it's more cost efficient and you don't get limited by vego options that can be hit and miss in smaller towns.

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  14. I can't believe I missed your birthday!! And you even baked my recipe for it. . . so sorry! It sounds like you had a lovely, relaxing time. . . and maybe even pampered yourself a bit! Yay! Happy, Happy (very belated!) birthday, Johanna! I'm glad you indluged yourself a bit (which is, definitely, what holidays are for!) :D xo

    PS and those two guys at the car are indeed hilarious--if a little ignorant! ;-)

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  15. Happy belated birthday!! Sounds like a great trip with lots of yummy home cooked food. :)

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