Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cheater, cheater... cake mix eater!

I want to talk about cooking. Now, before you roll your eyes, let me explain… I don’t blog much about cooking because, in all honesty, I feel there are already so many other beautiful, creative blogs out there already doing such a good job of it, I don’t really have anything new to add to that world.

I do love cooking. Very much. Almost as much eating. And really you’d be slightly stuffed in the world of “station wife” if you didn’t at least slightly, sliiiightly not want to die at the thought of cooking – it’s kind of a big part of the role!

I am the kind of cook who actually gets physical and mental enjoyment out of something that has taken painful hours or days to construct… whether that be the monotonous stirring of rich, homemade custard which will later become real, authentic ice-cream, or meticulous moulding, cutting, shaping and baking of a decadent, layered birthday cake… I’m the girl who makes Burragan beef spring rolls or Asian chicken wontons from scratch, and hosts Indian or Mexican themed nights (for just ST and the dogs so far, but neighbours, you’d be welcome!) right down to the handmade roti and pickled home-grown eggplant sides. I even make my own sweet fruit buns, fruit roll ups, and buttermilk... because doing it the other way (read: buying it from the shops) is “cheating”... (read: not always an option).

And yes, that image above is a bounty from my extensive veggie patch.

But let’s be realistic here. As a station wife the consumers of our kitchen creations are usually men. And when we’re dealing with men, and animals, and isolation… anything is possible, and likely. It’s likely as soon as you put that marinated duck in the oven to roast, you’ll get a call on the UHF to the furthest paddock to help pull a stuck cow out of a boggy dam. It’s likely you’ll end up with a dining table full of unexpected hungry helpers, when you’ve only defrosted enough lamp chops for two. It’s likely you’ll only be told about tomorrow’s all-day fencing expedition (which will require a pre-packed smoko and lunch) at 10pm after you’ve brushed your teeth and taken your contact lenses out and have one foot sans slipper and half into bed. And it’s likely your last two laying hens will have been killed in a vicious wild cat attack and you will be severely lacking in eggs… and anything else that’s half useful in the world of cooking.

So, in the spirit of keeping it real, let me share with you my biggest, best “CHEAT’S and CHEATERS, CHEATY-McCHEAT-CHEAT” recipes and tips on how to look like a kitchen pro, when really you’re a blubbering mess, savouring cake batter off the beaters at a quarter past midnight and hoping your husband doesn’t catch you.

Tip 1) CHEAT’S CHOCOLATE PUDDING CAKE: Suitable as a cake or a pudding, this diverse recipe can be adapted to suit all your cake and pudding needs. Best of all! It only takes 10 minutes, max.

You will need: 1 packet homebrand cake mix (chocolate or vanilla), 1 packet instant pudding mix (chocolate or vanilla), 300ml milk, 2 eggs, 1 cup choc chips (dark or white)… and for the vanilla version, add half a cup of coconut if you’re feeling up to it.

What to do: Mix all together. Put in greased silicone ring tin. Microwave on high for up to 8 minutes. Vwwaalah!


You will need: 1 cup Self Raising Flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup milk.

What to do: Mix. Bake (25-30 minutes in a medium oven if you wish… but there’s nothing wrong with the 8 minute microwave version either, baby, yeah!) Eat.


You will need: 1 cup yoghurt (any flavour!) 1 cup Self Raising Flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup coconut, 1 cup of anything you choose (as in.. choc chips, dried fruit, crumbled biscuits etc… no metal shavings, please.)

What to do: Mix. Bake (see above). Eat.

Tip 4) CHEAT’S ICING: When one can’t be effed icing a cake… one keeps those little tins of passion-fruit pulp in the pantry. One upends one’s tin all over one’s cake, and one looks like one went to a lot of trouble!

Tip 5) PASTA: Pasta is filling. Pasta is delicious. Pasta is SO ADAPTABLE (well, except for the celiacs. Sorry folks.) And there are SO MANY pasta sauces that can be made by the time your pasta has boiled… that’s 12 minutes guys! Think about the possibilities…

- Ham/bacon/chicken, garlic, onion, chicken stock, peas/zucchini/broccoli, white wine, cheese.
- Ham/bacon/chicken, garlic, onion, chicken stock, peas/zucchini/broccoli, cream/evaporated milk.
- Salami, garlic, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, herbs, red wine.
- Beef/lamb, garlic, onion, mushrooms, capsicum, tomatoes, herbs, olives.
- Chilli, oil, garlic, fresh parsley.
- Ham/Bacon, garlic, cheese, white wine, eggs.

Get creative! It doesn’t have to have a million ingredients and be slow cooked since 6am to be totally yummy. Really all you need is garlic!

Tip 6) LET THEM STARVE: This trick has been working for centuries… pretend you’re too busy, tired and stressed to cook anything. Don’t get any meat out to defrost for dinner. Don’t even be anywhere near the kitchen when hubby gets in from the paddock. When you’re pressed on, “What’s for dinner?” several hours after dark, after beers, after TV and relax time, be sure to answer, “Ohhhh, well, I hadn’t really thought about it.”

One will hear the sizzling of steak (or inhale the scent of burnt toast) in no time.

So there’s the Top 6 I can think of off the top of my brain… what are yours?


  1. Only one from here. Avoid cooking like the plague and take the easy option. As a station wife I'm out on left field of the cooking stakes -do not enjoy it at all. Wish I was more like you Bessie. But I do lick the beaters!!

    1. VERY glad to hear you lick the beaters too... it would be unnatural not to, I'm sure! :)

  2. I double everything. If the urge EVER strikes me to bake etc... I always (at least) double the recipe to freeze some for next time I'm hungry, but lazy... x

    1. Excellent advice Jessie! I do try to but usually forget :( And possibly need a bigger freezer! x

  3. Pancakes,Fritters, fried scones with golden syrup or pepper and salt,scrambled eggs on toast.Soft boiled eggs with toast fingers,baked beans on toast,slices of tomato and onions cooked up and served on toast, grilled cheese and tomato ...teach your hubby how to make those things, so easy.Pasta or Spaghetti only takes 15 minutes to cook, toss in butter and Parmesan Cheese.
    I love your work you are sooo funny (ps my hubby was born in Italy and would starve to death rather than cook xx

    1. Awesome ideas!! I do love the old "breakfast for dinner" trick! Yummy yummy xx

  4. Fantastic ideas! I can't wait to try pudding cake! :)
    My quick and easy is a french flan - milk and sugar and egg yolk, stir, bake.... done! (and by adding the word 'french' it sounds super hard to do and exotic)

    surely eveyone licks the beaters?? it's the best part!

    1. hahaha I LOVE the idea of "French" making it sound more exotic. Do you think I've cheapened my recipes by naming them Cheats? Perhaps I should have called them "Swiss Secrets" or some such...

  5. bacon eggs and chips are the go

    1. Yum, yum, yum! Three awesome foods right there, and together they are perfection!

  6. Funny and oh so true as always Bess. I love your harvest photo too, very impressive! Tip 6 is a good one and I agree, once the contact lenses are taken out...its all over x

    1. Oh definitely all over at that stage if people are wanting to avoid accidental poisoning!
      Thanks for reading Jane x

  7. New reader thanks to Mamamia. Loving this blog.

    City dweller here, hate cooking, these cheats will come in very handy.
    My fave at the moment is chicken, zucchini, capsicum, onion, stirfried, tin of coconut milk on top and a little salt, pepper, turmeric to season. I'm sure garlic would work well here too.
    All cooked before the rice is done.

    Bonus: just discovered that my baby should be ok to eat coconut milk, so bringing out the blender.

    1. Thank you so much Aussiemum! And awesome recipe ideas there too, thanks for sharing!

  8. Fry up of left over veges and meat all in a pan together or Mr Sparky's fav is to cut up left over roast meat, potato and onion and fry up with gravy ... another one of his specialities is cooking up a packet of pasta and mixing a can of tomato soup in and serving with cheese ... oh and another he makes is vegeroni pasta cooked with cheese sprinkled on top. 2min noodles go down a treat when we couldn't be bothered ... mix a packet soup in for something more interesting.
    I love cooking to especially baking but I no longer have the hoard of people to bake for so that is out most of the time ... there is something tasty about raw biccie and cake batter.
    Love all the 'cheats' or 'easy meals'.

    1. Oh yes! I was embarrassed to admit it before you brought it up but we too are fans of the 2 minute noodles or packet soups on those nights when it really is too late, and too much effort to do anything!
      Thanks for reading! x

  9. The slow cooker is my bestie at the moment. You can throw almost anything in that sucker and eight hours later… Voilà… something that at least resembles an edible home cooked meal!
    Doesn't matter if you're called out to the paddock/work/aid of screaming child… it cooks itself!

    1. Ohh I love the slow cooker but sometimes I just don't remember to get meat out to put it on. But I agree it is divine to come home to that smell throughout the house and feeling that you really don't have to prepare anything!

  10. Toasted sandwiches!!! Everything tastes awesome when it's in a toasted sandwich.... or maybe it's because i only make them when I'm absolutely stuffed and it's that or nothing... If I have a little more energy - Pizza toasties!

    If I actually have to cook for someone other than DC & I, cheats parmi's it is....

    Bash a chicken breast with the meat mallet or a jar till it's even for each person eating and place in a baking dish. Pour a can or two (for more than 3 people) of diced tomatos over the top, season with whatever you would like (garlic, herbs, salt & pepper etc) and cover with grated cheese. Cook at 180 degrees for half an hour. Always a winner!

    Thanks for the recipes Bessie, I'll add them to the book!!


    1. Love your cheats parmis ED! I am going to try that tonight!! xx

  11. Great recipes! I will defiantly try some of them!!! I love to cook anything! It's just fun!! I look forward to following your blog! I just found it and it looks very interesting!! If you would like you can check out my blog at the address below!! :)

    Have A Great Day!

    1. I agree cooking is fun! Love it... most of the time! :)
      Thanks for popping by Erin, I will check out your blog! x

  12. Hi Bessie,
    Yeah we have finished shearing so I have a few minutes to finally reply. I really think you should have called this blog "Not another chop..." I love chop don't get me wrong they are delicious, but really soooo boring to cook and when you have as many chops as sheep farmers eat, they are just so boring after a while.
    I too love to cook "special" things but somehow just never seem to get time to do it these days. I totally agree that most of our cooking is for men so along this vien here are a few things I have learnt about cooking "station food"
    *Bacon- As I have been told by TM bacon is apparently in the vegetable category (he wishes) but I think if you chuck bacon in anything it goes down well with blokes. Also keeps forever.
    *Pie- really stick anything in some pastry and blokes seem to devour it. Here is my "Off the shelf pie" Suitable to be made when you only have canned/frozen good left in store. Chop chicken into chunks, cook off with onion, bacon, tinned champignons, some frozen spinach, mix in tin of campbells condensed chicken & mushroom soup, put in dish lined with puff pastry, put lid pastry on top, cook till golden.
    So the other thing that always brings a smile is desserts.
    *Master the golden syrup dumpling, all pantry ingredients that last forever & no eggs or milk, bonus if you have some UHT cream to serve with them
    Okay my last tips is a recipe for
    *Fudge cake. Well if it was in a fancy cafe it would be called something like "Cold pressed olive oil, organic, free trade chocolate cake" It also the emergency cake cause it doesn't need eggs or milk.
    1 1/2 cups self raising flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, 1 cup caster sugar, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon imitation vanilla essence, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil (any vegetable oil will do though)Hand wish till smooth. Cook 20cm round tin 180oC for 35-40 mins.
    Oh also forgot, sometimes I use fancy baking tins to make a plain cake look special.
    Hummm making myself hungry, might go cook some of these yummy recipes.
    Thanks for you lovely blog, I enjoy it each time it comes out. :-)