Thursday, 21 August 2014

Housekeeping: Facebook, Updates and the photos FoodGawker rejects

Finally the girl who was called Mary Lou Cabbage Patch in computer studies at school (because I didn't want to be part of them) has a Facebook page for this blog.  Time to stop and share a few housekeeping items.


Facebook
I have been using Facebook in a few different settings over the past couple of years and finally can't resist its pull, despite my wariness.  It is time to share some of my blog on FB at https://www.facebook.com/GreenGourmetGiraffe  I have added the above button down the sidebar while I am playing with FB settings and may make it more prominent once I am happy with how the page is going. 

I expect to upload each post, some random meals and  other esoteric information.  It might also be a place to share a few photos that don't make it to the blog.  If Facebook is your thing, you know the drill. 

For anyone wanting to set up a blog Facebook Page, I found it useful to read the advice by Amuse Your Bouche.

New Header
With a new Facebook account, I needed a "cover" photo.  It has occurred to me from time to time to update my header photo.  Once I started to look at photos from my Facebook account, it seemed a good time to update my header.  As always it is work in progress.  (You can see the previous header in my designs post if you have forgotten what it looks like.)

All About Party Bags - Fairy Issue
All About Party Bags is a UK website the specialises in filled party bags but also has an e-magazine.  The latest issue of the e-magazine is a Fairy Issue.  The Fairy Toadstool birthday cake I made for Sylvia this year is featured among the idea for fairy cakes.  If you have children in your lives that are as interested in fairies as mine, there are lots of great ideas for fairy parties.


FoodGawker
After seven years of blogging I am now getting photos accepted by FoodGawker.  And still experiencing some rejection.  I now have 29 submissions accepted, 24 of these in 2014, and less that that rejected (17).

It took quite some time until I felt my photos were of a reasonable quality to submit.  It has been an interesting learning process, though at times it feels brutal.  Their criteria can seem harsh at time.  It has made me more aware of the importance of natural light in photography.  I was advised to move a black line from one photo a while back, did so, resubmitted and was pleased to find it accepted the second time.  They still find me guilty of underexposed, overexposed, fussy backgrounds and too tight composition.

The more effort I put into a photo, the less likely it seems to be accepted.  A good lesson about simplicity.  Yet I still can't predict with any level of certainty if a photo will be accepted.  I thought it would be fun to upload a collage of some of the photos that FoodGawker has rejected.  I am quite fussy about which photos go in.  (But if they think these are bad, I am glad they never saw some of my early blogging photos!)  However I have come a long way since my first FoodGawker picture was accepted last year.

Great old style ice cream sign in Brunswick - makes me feel nostalgic!
Other Blog Updates
As I have said before, I wish I had more time to update my blog.  When I have a moment I tinker.  Here are a few of the pages I have updated over the last few months:

    Spell check please!

    Vegan MoFo
    Finally a reminder that Vegan MoFo (Month of Food) is on in September and you can sign up now (deadline 27 August).  I have signed up (hurrah) and am still preparing ahead to cope with a busy month offline.  Hope to see some of you there and to have others of you cheering from the sidelines!

    Tuesday, 19 August 2014

    Hog's Breath in Geelong: a vegetarian's experience

    Those who know me, would not expect the Hog's Breath Cafe to be the sort of place I would normally eat.  However my family thrives on diversity.  They accept I am vegetarian, just as I accept those who love their meat.  Hence my nephew's choice of Hog's Breath, a carnivore's paradise, for his birthday dinner.  Surprisingly it also catered well to my vegetarian diet.

    The Hog's Breath franchise started in Queensland 25 years ago and now there are over 80 of what the website describes as "themed licensed restaurants".  My visit to the Geelong franchise was my first encounter with the Hog's Breath.  The restaurant is quite large - great for a big group - with lots of fun Aussie memorabilia about.  (I wonder if the Ford sign will stay once the company leaves Geelong!)  Thee were quite a few other groups there despite the empty chairs photo above.  As the name suggests, it is a meat lover's dream.  Just check out the menu that my nephew, the birthday boy, holds in the below photo. 

    I expected to eat chips and a few lettuce leaves.  It is a steakhouse after all.  However when I checked the online menu I was relieved to find a few vegetarian options.  The "sensational salads" were impressive.  Two were vegetarian.  I also could have ordered two pasta dishes, an avocado and mushroom wrap.  And quite a few of the appetisers and a lot of sides were vegetarian too.

    The chips were curly and called Hog Tail Fries.  I was pleased that they sorted out the kids' orders first and I ordered Sylvia some of these fries.  (With hindsight I could have ordered her some vegies - though she would not have been pleased if they have butter on them.)   For myself I passed on the Aussie Backyard Salad and ordered the Avocado and Crumbed Mushroom Salad.  It came with Cajun potato chunks, salad greens, carrots, cherry tomato, red onions, cucumber, mixed beans and balsamic Italian dressing.

    The salad was so substantial that I almost regretted ordering some of the fries for myself on the side.  I couldn't finish them but they were so cute and curly.  The salad was good.  Far more impressive the salads that often disappoint me in chain restaurants and pubs.

    We were spread over three tables and were a fairly chaotic group with lots of kids and parents rushing around checking on kids.  So I don't blame the staff that I missed the call for dessert orders.  It was probably just as well because I was quite full.  My sister-in-law ordered the warm chocolate cake (mud cake?) with warm chocolate sauce.  I had a mouthful and it was really good (thanks Erica).  We all dug in too quickly to photograph it.

    My dad ordered Grandma's Trifle Sundae: vanilla and strawberry ice cream layered with swiss roll, vanilla custard, strawberry jelly, whipped cream and toasted coconut.  I confess I don't remember if I had a taste.  (The chocolate cake was dominating my taste buds.)  I know my dad enjoyed it.

    The showstopper, however, was the "Hoggies Rocky Road Sundae to Share".  It had vanilla and strawberry ice cream on warm chocolate mudcake drenched in chocolate fudge sauce, then topped with marshmallows, strawberry topping, whipped cream and toasted coconut. Oh my!  You should have seen the kids dig in their spoons.  Sylvia loved it.  They all did.

    Despite Hog's Breath not being my sort of restaurant, I had a good night.  The staff were friendly and helpful.  I enjoyed something different for dinner with lots of vegies and was pleased that there are quite a few vegetarian options.  And it was good and satisfying food.  Most importantly, I had a lovely night with the family.

    Hog's Breath
    23 Yarra Street, Geelong
    03 5221 4661
    www.hogsbreath.com.au

    Sunday, 17 August 2014

    Walnut, brie and apple scones and random notes

    In a topsy turvy week of illness and an overflowing vegetable crisper, scones are a very good thing.  They can be baked in the blink of an eye and they jazz up any old soup.  Which may explain three batches of scones in 8 days.

    Or you might just blame Celia for encouraging my "sconesiness" with her International Scone Week.  It prompted much contemplation of scone recipes.  Perhaps I bought some brie intending to make interesting scones last weekend but ran out of puff, then I needed chocolate during the week, and finally the brie made it into scones this weekend!

    It is true that Sylvia has been sick all week with aches that come and go.  There was the mysterious ear ache that disappeared at the doctor's on Monday, reappeared at school on Tuesday and Thursday and was finally diagnosed at the doctor's as an infection on Friday!  Plus stomach aches, fevers and lack of appetite at night.  She has still played with enthusiasm when she was not crashing with a rising temperature.  You might begin to see why I needed chocolate during the week.

    We spent a lot of the week eating a lovely split pea soup but three days running were quite enough.  So last night I made a soup with some pumpkin and vegies that needed using, plus the remains of the split pea soup and some vegan tofu-based cheese.  Odd companions but they got along very well.  Alongside them I served some very savoury scones.

    As well as the brie, I had the remnants of a tub of smoky salted walnuts.  More smoked salt than walnut crumbs.  I added some other skerricks of walnuts I found but it was still quite salty.  I was of a mind to add cranberries but Sylvia wanted dried apple.  Fine.  It was so savoury I added a little honey.  I made them a little fancy by baking them with slices of brie on top.

    They were delicious scones.  I loved the slight crunch of walnuts and the soft cheese on top.  They were quite savoury so the little nuggets of dried apple were a lovely sweet contrast.  Sylvia ate hers with jam, E had nut butter on his and I loved them plain.  This morning I enjoyed the scones with my mum's dried apricot jam for breakfast.  A success!  More lovely scones to be found at Celia's International Scone Week round up.

    Finally a photo of the cute cupcakes at the Fitzroy Market yesterday and some random notes: 
    • I have been given the most fun exercises by my doctor - blowing up balloons!  Seriously!  She says it will help clear some of the fluid in my ear that has built up after a recent ear infection.  Sylvia is only too happy to do the exercises with me.
    • Our Australian federal politicians continue to astound us with their arrogance.   Last week Treasurer, Joe Hockey was criticised for saying that a proposed increase in fuel excise will not hit the poor as hard as the rich because they “don’t have cars or actually drive very far”. And then there are our Prime Minister Abbott's comments on Scotland's referendum for independence.  Oh dear, oh dear!
    • We finished watching The Secret State on the telly on Friday.  Gabriel Byrne was dignified as Tom Dawkins.  It was an unsettling plot about the conspiracies and deals behind the scenes.  The most telling line was when the Prime Minister said, "You get to the top, and you realise it’s really only the middle." It was worth watching just to see the sort of honest speeches I wish we could hear from our politicians.
    • I also watched the last of the second series of The Time of Our Lives last week.  Great Aussie drama.  In the last episode was a wedding that was held the afternoon after a stressful job interview and the marriage proposal, organised as a surprise for the bride.  It looked beautiful but a little too much like it existed in televisionland.  How many brides would really be ok about not having a say in the planning of the wedding!
    • I hate finding a typo in my writing and yet they are so hard to spot.  Now that I have read Why is it so hard to catch your own typos? I am relieved to discover that the next time I spot one of my own typos I can feel smug about focusing on more high level complex tasks than mere spelling and grammar!
    Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
     One year ago: Mini baked doughnuts and fun stuff
    Two years ago: NCR African Curried Coconut Soup
    Three years ago: Potage St Germain
    Four years ago: Election Blues and Matrimonial Slice
    Five years ago: Potato boston bun
    Six years ago: WTSIM ... Beer Bread
    Seven years ago: SHF #34: Pumpkin scones

    Walnut, brie and apple scones
    Based on Food Ideas's basic scones
    Makes 28 small scones

    2 cups white self raising flour
    1 cup self raising wholemeal flour*
    80g butter*
    1/2 cup smoked and salted walnuts*
    1/2 cup chopped dried apple
    115g brie
    1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, plus extra for glazing*
    1 tbsp honey

    Preheat oven to 200 C.   Lightly grease (or flour) a baking tray.

    Rub butter into flours.  Chop half the brie in small dice.  Gently stir in walnuts, apple and the chopped brie.  Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in buttermilk and honey.  Mix to a soft dough.  Add a little extra milk if needed.

    Tip dough onto a well floured surface.  (Use floured hands if the dough is sticky.  Mine was a bit sticky but nothing some flour couldn't fix - better a little too sticky than a little too dry!)  Knead briefly until the mixture is smooth.  Pat out to about 1 1/2 cm thick.  Dip a scone cutter or the edge of a glass in flour and cut out rounds.  (Or cut into squares or triangles if that is your style!)

    Place scones on prepared tray.  I like to fit them snugly together but it is not necessary.  Brush with a little milk.  Slice the brie and chop each slice into small pieces.  Place a piece of brie on top of each scone.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Leave for a minute or two on tray so that brie is not gooey and then wrap in tea towel until ready to eat.  Best eaten warm.

    *NOTES: I used 1 cup wholemeal flour and 2 tsp baking powder instead of a cup of wholemeal self raising flour.  I used margarine instead of butter, and used soy milk with a splash of cider vinegar instead of buttermilk.  If you don't have smoked walnuts, you could add some smoked paprika (1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and salt to taste.

    On the Stereo:
    The Bairns: Rachel Unthank and the Winterset

    Thursday, 14 August 2014

    Revisting rhubarb and raspberry focaccia and the weekend

    I had good intentions of making sourdough bread on Friday but the day passed me by.  Not only did it mean no fresh bread, but it also meant my sourdough starter was begging to be used.  So I did the next best thing.  An overnight foccaccia that would be ready in the morning and use up some of my sourdough starter.

    It seemed a good idea to convert a tried and trusted rhubarb and raspberry focaccia into a sourdough recipe.  Not that I intended to do away with the yeast.  I wanted enough yeast to make it rise fast and enough sourdough to give flavour.

    I spent a good half hour trying to calculate how much water and flour were in my starter in cups and converting into the recipe.  Then I threw together the dough and reread the recipe.  Seems I'd got my amounts mightily confused and misread.  I managed to use 500g flour rather than 800g.  Oops. 

    The resulting dough was far softer than the recipe I was using, and made a smaller focaccia.  Yet it worked.  Which just shows that dough is forgiving and I shouldn't stress so much about converting yeast to sourdough!  More of a problem was that E and Sylvia were not so keen on the rhubarb.  It was a bit tart for them.  Perhaps omitting the raspberries was not a great move.  I loved it.  We ate it and then packed some in our bags.

    Sylvia and I headed off to the Fitzroy Gardens.  It is a favourite place of mine and a fine place to compensate for some theatre tickets that went amiss.  (You can read more about the gardens in a post on our trip to the Fitzroy Gardens in 2010.)  First stop was the Fairy Tree.  The beautiful wood carvings never cease to delight and amaze me.

    Olga Cohn's imagination produced such poignant details of the life of fairies in our gardens.  We sat looking at the tree and eating our focaccia and wishing we had packed more.

    By the Fairy Tree is the Minature Tudor Village.  I have also been going here since I was a child and still love it in all its teeny tiny glory.

    I had planned lunch in the city but once we had walked around the gardens and spent some time at the giraffe swings and dragon slide, Sylvia was hungry.  It is so much slower to get around with a small child.  We went to the Pavillion near the Fairy Tree.  It is more restaurant than cafe.  We paid more than I had intended and were given more food than I needed.  However my ravioli was very nice.

    Sylvia was going down to stay with my parents while E and I went to a trivia night.  Fortunately my mum rang as Sylvia tried to convince me to go into Cooks Cottage.  The moment passed and we walked on to the Conservatory and admired the flowers and the fish pond.  I particularly liked the foilage cake on the table and chairs.

    Then we caught the Circle Tram around to the State Library where we met my parents.  Outside I noticed this statue from May Gibbs' Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.  This Gumnut baby and Mr Lizard are just the sort of folk who might visit the folk of the Fairy Tree.  It seemed a fitting end to our adventures.

    One year ago: Sourdough Basics 101 - Making a Starter
    Two years ago: Fudgy Coconut Brownies
    Three years ago: Besan Vegetable Frittata and a week of eats
    Four years ago: NCR Carrot and Fennel Soup
    Five years ago: Shopping, Sylvia and Soup
    Six years ago: Easy as Vegetable Pie
    Seven years ago: Rumbledethumps: death to the red hag!

    Rhubarb and raspberry no-knead focaccia
    Adapted from  The Kitchen Maid via Green Gourmet Giraffe

    200g sourdough starter (100% hydration)*
    275ml warm water
    1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
    2 Tbsp olive oil
    400g white bread flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt

    340g rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces (from 450g untrimmed)
    3 Tbsp olive oil
    3 Tbsp raw sugar

    Start the night before you want to eat it or at least 8 - 10 hours before you want to eat focaccia.  Take a large mixing bowl.  (The dough rises a lot - it was about an inch below the top of my largest mixing bowl in the morning. See second top photo of dough the night before to see how much it grows.)  Mix starter, yeast and  warm water.  Stir in oil, flour and salt to make a soft dough.  Cover with clingwrap and leave overnight at room temperature  for about 8 hours. 

    In the morning, preheat the oven to 200 C.  While it heats, prepare the rhubarb and sprinkle a large baking tray with polenta.   Sprinkle dough with flour and carefully take the risen dough from the bowl - it is fairly soft and sticky.  Place on a lightly floured surface. Using floured hands, pat dough out in an oval shape about an inch thick (might be thinner in places).   Carefully transfer to the prepared baking tray.  Scatter with rhubarb and press lightly into the dough.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the sugar on top.

    Bake for 40 minutes until the fruit juices are running free and the sides are golden brown.  Eat hot or cool on a wire rack.

    * NOTE: Ideally take the starter out of the fridge to warm up to room temperature a couple of hours before starting to mix the dough.  I forgot and it was fine but will try and remember next time.

    On the stereo:
    Don't Try This At Home: Billy Bragg

    Tuesday, 12 August 2014

    Chocolate and cranberry scones - for International Scone Week

    Last night I made my second batch of scones in three days.  If I had the energy I would be happy to eat freshly baked scones every day.  I grew up eating scones regularly and now, like my mother and grandmothers, it is one of my easiest things to bake.  So for a trivia night when energy was limited, I baked cheese scones.  They even inspired our team name: The Scones.  An auspicious start to International Scone Week.

    International Scone Week was the brain child of Celia, Heidi, and Joanna in 2010.  This year they are celebrating again.  Unlike my mother and grandmothers, I love baking scones with different flavour combinations.  Plain is just not enough for me.  (Having said that, my mum did some yummy cinnamon pinwheel scones on the weekend!)

    I had a bag of chocolate melts, some dried cranberries and a round of brie in the kitchen.  Here started my brainstorming of ideas.  Finally I settled on these chocolate and pecan scone pinwheels.  I had just enough walnuts to use instead of pecans.  Sylvia preferred cranberries.  Before I knew it the recipe looked a totally different creature to the pinwheels and was my own recipe.

    The scones are not bitter but not particularly sweet.  Sylvia didn't taste them at all.  She was home sick with an ear ache that bothered her in the morning, disappeared (and embarrassed  me) when we saw the doctor, and came back again in the evening.  She went to bed early without a fuss - not even her usual request for something sweet.  I tried the scones with honey, apricot jam and butter but I preferred them plain.  They reminded me a little of my pumpernickel rolls.  Which may explain why E had one or two with a bowl of split pea soup for dinner.  He then said he liked them best with apricot jam. 

    As an aside, E is Scottish and says 'app'-ricot whereas I say 'ape'-ricot.  I always attribute so many differences between us to him being Scottish and me being Australian.  Then at the trivia night I was surprised that other Australians used the term Chopper for the bikes I only ever knew as Dragsters.  I assumed when E talked about Choppers that it was was British but not Australian! What do you call them?

    Back to the scones, I know that they aren't everyone's cuppa tea.  I love them.  They were fluffy and dark and just sweet enough for me.  I really enjoyed the sweet bursts of the cranberries.  Now I am hoping that I can find time for more scones as I still have brie and walnuts to use up.

    Update: these scones were best fresh as is always the case with scones, however we enjoyed them the next day too.  E had one for lunch, as did Sylvia in her lunchbox and I shared some with my mum who enjoyed them.  If they last any longer, they are probably best kept in the freezer.

    Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    One year ago: Beetroot, apple and walnut scones for International Scone Week
    Two years ago: Wholemeal pretzels and Pea soup
    Three years ago: Melbourne to Orange Roadtrip - a long long way
    Four years ago: Honey, Yoghurt and Chocolate Cake
    Five years ago: Surprising Sprouts in Risotto
    Six years ago: My Vegetarian Lasagne
    Seven years ago: Favourite food books

    Chocolate and cranberry scones
    An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
    Makes 24 small scones

    2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
    1/2 cup cocoa
    1/4 tsp mixed spice
    80g butter or margarine
    1 cup vanilla yoghurt*
    2 tbsp treacle
    2 tbsp golden syrup
    6 tbsp water, or as required
    1/2 cup dried cranberries
    milk, to glaze scones

    Grease a round oven tray and preheat oven to 200 C.

    Mix flour, cocoa and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Rub in butter or margarine (I used margarine). Stir in cranberries. Gently mix through yoghurt, treacle, golden syrup and enough water to make a soft dough. It will be slightly sticky but turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead just a few times until the dough is smooth.

    Pat out to about 2 cm high on a well floured surface. Cut into small round scones with a cutter or the edge of a glass dipped in flour.

    Place side by side on greased tray, brush with milk and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until scones are golden brown. (Check those in the middle are not undercooked on their underneath - they can go back in the oven for 5 minutes if you find this is the case.)

    Note: I use five:am vanilla yoghurt which is thick and not overly sweet. If you don't have a good vanilla yoghurt, you could use some additional sweetener and regular yoghurt, buttermilk or even make them vegan by using vegan milk that has been curdled by sitting for 5 minutes with a good splash of cider vinegar.

    On the Stereo:
    The Captain: Kasey Chambers

    Sunday, 10 August 2014

    Street Art in Melbourne #9 Hosier Lane June 2014

    After posting a series of street art posts in May, I have continued to photograph street art when possible.  I enjoyed doing the series so much that I want to continue it on an occasional basis.

    Today I bring you street art from one of Melbourne's most famous street art locations, Hosier Lane.  It is a small lane in the block bounded by Russell St, Flinders St, Swanston St and Flinders Lane in the CBD or city of Melbourne. 

    After taking photos of so much street art recently I was really struck just how touristy this lane seems compared to other street art locations.  Where usually I find it pleasing to go off the beaten track and take photos in peace and quiet, Hosier Lane is busy with people wielding cameras.  Likewise the walls of Hosier Lane are busy - with artwork.  I haven't visited often but from a few infrequent visits I think the art there changes far more regularly than in other locations.  I suspect if you go there today, a few months after my visit, much of the artwork you encounter might be different.













    Thursday, 7 August 2014

    Chocolate chip and cola muffins

    Despite my love of large chocolate cakes, sometimes I want those neat self contained muffins.  Not delicate cupcakes covered in sticky icing.  I much prefer good honest chunky muffins.  They are particularly attractive now that I try and put some home baking in Sylvia's lunchbox these days.

    I am far more experienced at making large chocolate cakes than smaller cupcakes or muffins.  So I looked at my recipe index expecting to find proof.  Even so, I was surprised to find I had blogged 40 large cakes, 15 brownies and only 12 cupcakes or muffins.  Perhaps it is that when I was young we had large chocolate cakes but little cakes were usually vanilla.  Not that we would call them vanilla.  We just called them plain.  If that is any indication as to how they were viewed.  Yes, a bit boring.

    In an ideal world, I would make hearty healthy muffins filled with wholegrains, seeds and fruit or vegetables.  Which might explain my lack of chocolate muffins on my blog.   Sometimes I just want chocolate.  Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella is one of those bloggers who takes amazing photos.  She made these her chocoletta muffins look so dark and brooding and gooey and just so enticing that they went straight to the top of my to do list.

    These muffins had cocoa, cola and choc chips.  Unable to stop just there, I added caramel chips too.  Because I had some.  Sylvia was very excited about these muffins.  They were great sport for her.  The aim was to eat as many of the caramel chips before the muffins went in the oven.  My challenge was to stop her.  And I had to work hard to avoid the temptation of eating the whole batch as soon as they came out of the oven.  

    We all loved these muffins.  Soft with lots of chocolate and caramel chips, they were warm and snuggly as befits cold foggy morning, sudden hail showers and bone rattling winds at this wintery time of year.

    I am sending these muffins to Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes for her Bookmarked Recipes event to share the bookmarked recipes that we actually manage to cook.

    Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
    One year ago: WW Open House Melbourne, Green Lentil Dal and Om Vegetarian
    Two years ago: Treacle gingerbread and more Open House Melbourne
    Three years ago: Vegetarian meatballs
    Four years ago: Nutty fries and other people’s plates
    Five years ago: Apple and date cake
    Six years ago: Do I dare to cook with one less pear?
    Seven years ago: Baking cake for climate change

    Chocolate chip and cola muffins
    Adapted from Not Quite Nigella
    Make 12 to 15 muffins

    2 1/4 cups self raising flour
    1 cup caster sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 cup cola drink
    1/2 cup vegetable oil
    2 eggs
    3/4 cup caramel chips
    3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 160 C.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with papers.   (If desired you can add a few extra muffins or some mini muffins - I made about 10 mini muffins as well as 12 regular muffins.)

    Mix flour, sugar, cocoa and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Lightly whisk together cola, oil and eggs in a large jug.  Make a well in the flour mixture and tip in the cola mixture.  Mix until combined.  Gently stir in caramel chips and choc chips.

    Spoon mixture into lined muffin tray, almost to the top of each muffin cup.  Bake for 23 to 25 minutes.  (I baked my mini muffins for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven.)  Check they are done with a skewer inserted in the middle - it should come out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

    On the Stereo:
    Christmas: Low