heart bums and rum balls

I made quick emergency visit to Spotlight yesterday to buy a ball of pink wool to knit the last 10 rows of a nappy soaker I wanted to finish. (It was my first venture into intarsia knitting and I’m rather proud of it). I had to enlist help to take this photo as Rosella, surprisingly, did not like them and did not wish to model (perhaps she is growing tired of me chasing her with the camera?). Luckily, these are for sale, and not for her.

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Anyway I was shocked by the Christmas decorations that were already up – in September, together with Halloween decorations! I clucked my disapproval and moved on quickly to the wool section, lest I get sidetracked and forget my mission. But all the same it got me thinking about christmas, and the presents I will be handmaking … and food.

I love Christmas food. Cherries especially. Shortbread. Nuts. Christmas cake with brandy sauce. Rum balls. Ginger Bread Houses. This is one David and I made last year:



Last year at Christmas my husband’s extended family had a fruit mince pie competition. Entries were presented anonymously, tasted and then voted for. It was fun, but mince pies are not my favourite christmas food. I’ve never seen the point in them … and they are always too sweet.

This year the family competition is a rum ball-off.  The categories and guidelines are being formulated – and, looking for ways to use my black tahini (having decided that hommus made with black tahini would look lke compost) I am trying out recipes. Naturally they will be based loosely (as I cannot follow recipes without getting sidetracked) upon the wondrous ‘Peppermint Tahini Balls’ from the amazing Recipes to the Rescue book. I was totally addicted to these when I was pregnant and they give you such a kick of energy. That is how I got started on tahini in the first place. Recently a friend from the UK sent me some “Bliss Balls” to try – and  that is the only other thing I have tasted that has the same kick to it (more so, actually – one Bliss Ball can keep you up all night!)

So this afternoon I made, with the help of an eight year old and a five year old, some organic black tahini balls with honey, almond meal, raw cacao powder, coconut, and a few drops of lemon oil (I was looking for mandarin oil, but couldn’t find it amongst the chaos of my bottle collection).



My fuzzy photography does not do it justice.

That cacao powder sure gives you a buzz. I had to restrict how many the kids ate, but felt that such restrictions didn’t need to apply to me.

I was pretty happy but I have a bit of work to do on the recipe: they are not too sweet, which I like, and when rolled in the cacao powder they they actually have layers of taste: first you bite through the bitter chocolatey powder and then you sink into the black squishy sweetness.  They could have done with a bit more lemon oil (I really did want to find the madarin), they are a bit too soft in consistency and I think I’d like a bit of crunch to them by adding some puffed rice, and chopped pepitas…

So there is lots more recipe-playing time before christmas (and lots more eating time). Going to have to work out how to make them firmer because our family is spread across country and we shall be mailing them to each other in order to conduct the competition! When I hit on the right recipe I will surely post it for you.


Anyone for oil?

My cousin, knowing how I am currently exploring the qualities of tahini (I can now eat hulled tahini without grimacing!),  recently put me on to black tahini. 


My husband describes it as ‘gold-plated’ tahini, as it certainly isn’t cheap….but there is nothing gold about it.

It is black. 

It looks like oil.


I don’t even think I can pass it off as vegemite as it is very, definitely,



I am not accustomed to eating black foods, but I was assured by my cousin and everything I read that it is TASTIER than hulled tahini.

And guess what? 

It is.

Even Rosella didn’t mind it, although her first reaction was “yuk”


I’ve read that it is an excellent calcium source,

like dairy but without forming mucus.

There are recipes to try at Carwari.com ,

and I found this information about black tahini from www.biodistributors.com.au:

Black sesame will give you the added bonus of anthocyanin antioxidants more isoflovones and higher levels of minerals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and especially iron. Also greater amounts of the vitamins A, E and B1.

In Ayurverdic medicine, black sesame has a much higher medicinal value than white or red sesame, Not only do they use it internally, but it’s oil is used specifically for mental disorders, as it positively affects the nervous system and the serotonin levels of the brain! Chinese medicine has been using black sesame medicinally for thousands of years! They confirm in their practice of this medicine food, that black sesame can:

  • Prevent constipation and improve bowel movement by moisturising the intestines.
  • Enrich the blood, and enhance the complexion.
  • Support the growth of healthy hairs.
  • Retard ageing and improve the memory.
  • Strengthen the liver and kidney functions.
  • Help normalise blood pressure, and thus preventing heart problems.
  • Excellent for anaemic conditions due to it’s high iron content.
  • It is an excellent muscle stimulant.
  • Most intriguing of all, is that it is said to be effective in mitigating premature grey hair!