Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cooking. Show all posts


Cumquat Marmalade: Winter Sunshine in a Jar


This year's cumquots have made the most delightful marmalade. It's like winter sunshine in a jar! 


About 500g of cumquots 

a cup of sugar

The juice of half a lemon 


Slice the ends of the cumquots and cut them in half. 

Chop the fruit and pulp coarsley 

Mix in the sugar and lemon jouce

Cook on the stovetop sitrring constantly until the mixture thickens 

Bottle in clean jars whilst hot and seal. 

This is one of those experimental recipes. You can try different citrus or blend flavours together. 

All I know, is that when you have a smear on sourdough it is a burst of sunshine in your mouth ! 


Rustic Lavash Cracker Recipe


315g of flour ( your choice of plain, rice, wholemeal etc) 

1/2 tsp of sea salt 

1 tbsp poppy seeds 

1 tbsp sesame seeds 

1 small egg ***

1/3 cup milk ***

30g butter *** 

***i swap these ingredients for good quality olive oil. I don't measure it, I just keep adding until the consistency is not too sticky and easy to roll. 

I use the pasta maker to roll the mixture into sheets, but you can also use a rolling pin. Then I transfer the sheets to baking trays and slice across them with a pizza cutter. I don't bother moving them apart, as they separate once they're baked. 

Then bake at 180 degrees for about 8-10 mins or until they are golden brown. When you get the crackers of the tray, they fall part where they were cut. 

This recipe makes a huge container of crackers and is worth the time investment for the beautiful result. It also means that you have crackers on hand in the cupboard whenever they are need and they extremely cheap when compared to buying rusti crackers from the store. 

As an added bonus there is zero waste because you are not bringing home any packaging. 

You could change this recipe to any flavour by adding spices or other seeds or change it to a gluten and dairy free option. The best way to find out what works is to experiment. 

Do you have a similar recipe to share ? 


Earthy Quiche

I love this quiche and I bake it regularly. It has become a really good breakfast food for hungry teenagers - it keeps them going all day!

I start by browning some onion and garlic, perhaps some bacon or sweet potato cubes. You can add anything you like that needs pre-cooking.

I whisk 4 eggs, some corn kernels, chopped spinach, half a cup of self-raising flour, half a cup of milk,  some grated cheese... you get the idea, basically anything you have on hand.

I add  lots or rosemary at this point. It is my secret ingredient to give the quiche a really earthy deep flavour.

Stir everything together and pour it into a glass pie plate. I have used a sheet of frozen pastry under this one to hold everything together, although you may find it is okay without the pastry.

Bake for 50 minutes at 180 degrees. Slice into 8 pieces when cooked.

Do you have a quiche recipe ? Do you add in anything you have on hand ? If you try this one or have an interesting recipe, please share in the comments below or on Facebook. If you know someone who will love this recipe, use the buttons below to share the love around! 


Mandarins and Macadamias: Mother Nature's M&Ms

Wandering around the backyard with a basket in hand, there are so many delicious offerings to be found!

I am starting to call this area 'the food forest' because there is always something to snack on.

The Macadamias are starting to fall from the tree. They are in a green pod which breaks open to reveal the hard brown shell. Inside the nuts are creamy and lovely tasting - a true Aussie Bush Food !

I add macadamia nuts to banana bread instead of using walnuts.


New Year Readiness

I refused to start 2011. It came around far too quickly and I just told it that it had arrived too early and that it would have to wait at the front door until I was ready to open it up and let the new year flow on in.

So now, a couple of weeks into the year I am finally ready to get going again. I think the problem I have each year is that our annual holiday is just too damn good. I become so relaxed that it is too difficult to come back to reality!

Perhaps a little too much of this....
 and this.....
 and this.......
Anyway, nothing like a little bit of this to get me back into my baking and making.....

Speaking of making....
After such a successful year of teaching paper crafting last year I have taken the plunge to throw myself 'out there' some more and have a store at the local Paper Arts Festival for the next three days.
Here is a taste....
You can find out more at my paper crafting site  Splendid Stamping


{So Sunday} Banana Pancakes

I almost forgot to save you some!

Have you ever tried homemade pancakes with banana and a drizzle of local honey ?

Have you ever eaten them, sitting in the sun on a winter day, when the sky is so blue that you are sure Spring is already here ?

Have you ever felt ?


I Thought I Saw Ol' Man Winter

I thought I saw Ol' Man Winter arrive on the train last week. Just a glimpse of him, in amongst the people on the platform hurrying about their business. I thought I recognised his hat, pulled down tightly over his head with his scarf wrapped high up around his ears.

I thought I saw him carrying his big suitcases, packed with everything that winter brings - the rain, the wind, the cold, the nights that steal away the afternoons before you have time to notice.

But.... it seems I was mistaken. Day two of winter and he still hasn't arrived. His train is now two days late. I am sure it will be here any day soon and he will step onto the platform with one hand on his hat, his scarf blowing in the icy wind.

In anticipation of his arrival I have prepared the house with extra blankets, socks and jumpers and have dusted off my number one tool of defence.... the slow cooker.

...... and although it is only 3.07 in the afternoon, that damn smell drifting through the house is enough to make me rip the lid off and gorge myself on it now!!!!!

Who invented these damn things anyway.....................?


Re-Using Success.

I still have a lot of plastic in my cupboards.

I have been making a real effort to re-purpose a lot of it because I don't think there is any sense in just throwing it all into landfill. It defeats the purpose.

Slowly but surely I have been changing over some of the storage containers in my cooking cupboard, a cupboard I have above my main prep area so I can just reach up and grab everything I need.
The large glass jars are from buying coffee in bulk and the smaller jars are from local oysters. They have a plastic lid unfortunately, but I still like to re-use them.

I have labeled the jars very simply with a permanent texta.

I enjoy opening the cupboard and looking at all the cooking supplies. I can see at a glance what needs to be topped up, often from a bigger supply in the pantry. I especially enjoy decanting the farmer's market honey into my little pour bottle which makes it easier to manage and easier to pour out a little for a cup of tea or to add to a recipe. I also like having my spices in bigger containers because I use so much of them.

But most of all I love the fact that the containers are NUDE. There are no brand names, no bold colours and no in your face slogans. It makes me feel all 'Little House on the Prairie -ish' LOL or maybe even a bit 'Waltons-ish' - knowing I can send John Boy to the store for a pound of sugar any time soon!

- Gotta love a spoon full of madness each and every day.


Friday Night = Pizza Night

We always whip up some yummy pizzas on Friday nights. It is much quicker than driving to town and picking them up or having them home delivered. Last time we had pizzas home delivered we were SO disappointed with them because we are TOTALLY spoiled after having home made ones for so long now.

The basic dough recipe is:

1 cup plain flour
1 cup of self raising flour
pinch of salt
rounded teaspoon of yeast
teaspoon of honey
1 cup of lukewarm water.

Because we try and make most of our meals low GI, I double this recipe and use a mix of wholemeal flours - so that's 1 cup of wholemeal plain flour, 1 cup of white plain flour then the same with the self raising flour.

There's nothing fancy to the method. I mix all the dry ingredients together before pouring in the water and roughly combining it with the other ingredients. Then I just let it sit for a while - sometimes ten minutes sometimes an hour - just depends on how side tracked I get! lol You can see when the yeast has done it's job because it roughly doubles in size.

I then plonk it onto a floured surface and tumble it around a little - I won't say kneed because there is not really a lot of effort involved. I cut it into three and roll them out to the size of the round pizza trays. I use olive oil on the trays and then hammer the bases with a fork to allow the heat to penetrate through when cooking.

Depending on how thick you like your pizzas you could make more or less. I make one thick pan style with just olive oil, herbs and tomato paste for son number one. Son number two and I share a thick base and then I make Hubbie's a thinner one.

Next we start chopping up the 'whatever' to go on the top. Last night I had king prawns, coriander, basil, chicken, pineapple and onion. Let me say ...... yum yum yum !!! ( Mine is the left hand side of the pizza on the right)

The pizza on the left is Hubbie's. He is a chili freak and he has various versions of homegrown chili, capsicum, olives, pineapple, onion, salami etc etc. His chili is so potent he has to have a separate chopping board, knife and other tools. I also make him put his on the bottom shelf of the oven so there is no contamination dropping onto my pizza!!

They take about 12 minutes to cook in a very hot oven.

We look forward to Friday nights. Some nice music, a glass of wine and the feeling of accomplishment when you sit down to these little beauties knowing that everyone has given a helping hand.


The Jam Stick

Can you see the 'jam stick' in this picture ? It has such a history.

My grandmother gave it to me a couple of years ago. The story is that when she was making jam on the farm one day a visitor noticed that the spoon she used was too short and she often burnt her hand.

The kind visitor went down the paddock got a piece of wood and crafted a new, longer handled jam stirrer and gave it to her. She used it for many many years.

Here I am, some sixty years later, using it again - bringing it back to life. I use it as a spatula in my mix master. I love the long handle.

I am not sure what type of wood it is, it is so weathered now - but still quite strong.

Not long ago, hubbie and I were fooling around in the kitchen comparing our favourite cooking items. His consists of an old frypan with no handle that he uses to make a perfect omelette ( so perfect in fact that he brings the pan, held in a tea towel, into my office to show me just how clever he is!), and an old scraper that he says he is going to pot rivet back together because 'they just don't make them like this anymore'.

Mine consists of the mix master ( an anniversary present about three years ago), an old spoon and the jam stick. You can read about the spoon here

All of our favourite cooking utensils were really old! I guess Hubbie is right ... they just don't make them like they used to!

You know what is really sad though....... when we were studying the jam stick the other day, Hubbie smelt it and said......
........ 'it smells like Nanna's kitchen '
. ...... and I smelt it ...............
.....and it does .............


Easy Potato Bake

This would have to be the easiest dish to put together and compliment any meal. Tonight I have made a smaller serving as it is just the four of us for dinner. Other times I would use a large baking dish if we are having a bbq or have guests for dinner.

I use as many potatoes as I think will fill the bowl. I then add in a few sweet potato slices for some colour and a different flavour.
I mix together some milk, crushed garlic, a chicken stock cube and some Italian herbs until I have enough liquid ( I add water if necessary) to splash some around each layer as I am putting it all together.
I sprinkle the top with some mozzarella and a handful of Italian herbs and put it into the oven on 180 c for about 45 minutes. I poke it with a knife to make sure it is fully cooked.
I often cover it with foil and sit it aside until other dishes are ready, it seems to keep the warmth really well.

Oh, and I am really living this retro orange glass dish. I use it for everything - especially self saucing puddings! .............................yummo


Health + Yum = Chocolate Slice { ? }

You see lots of recipes that claim to be healthy and yummy. In my experience those two adjectives don't often go together. But...... I have found a slice that actually provides a chocolate fix and yet has only healthy ingredients..... and there is no cooking involved.
You will need:
Half a cup of sesame seeds
Half a cup of almonds ( soaked in water overnight and then drained)
Third of a cup of coconut
Third of a cup of cocoa powder
8 dried figs
Half a cup of chopped dates
Two drops of peppermint essence
Two tablespoons of water.
Throw everything in a food processor and churn/ pulse until the mixture is crumbly. You may need to fiddle with the amount of water or sesame seeds if it is too dry or too wet. Test by pressing some mixture together.
Press the slice into a small pan ( 20cm x 10cm) and refrigerate until firm.
The taste is nutty, yet chocolatey and most importantly it is very satisfying with a cup of tea!
We thought it actually tasted better on the second day in the fridge... not sure about the third day {lol}
Try it and see what you think.....


Bread Recipe - Cafe Style

I made this bread a couple of days ago. It was meant to be a long bread roll. As it rose on the tray before baking it grew as wide as both my hands put together. I thought I would continue, warning everyone that as it rose in the oven, be prepared with an escape plan in case it grew out the oven door and began to overtake the kitchen.

Although it was nothing like I planned, it came out looking lovely and sure smelt good. After a few taste tests and then a few more ( just to determine the correct use for this style of bread) we decided it would be perfect to make garlic bread with. We would just slice it up, toast it a little and then spread with a mixture of butter, crushed garlic and Italian herbs and pop it into the over for a few minutes to brown up. Beautiful cafe style garlic bread!

....... and just for the purposes of further testing - you can also through it into the toaster and spread it with vegemite..........delicious!


Use two bowls. In the first bowl put a cup of boiling water, one tablespoon of butter, 1/2 tsp salt and one tablespoon of sugar. Leave aside until it cools to luke warm.

In the second bowl put 1/4 cup luke warm water, one tablespoon dry yeast and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

When ready, mix the two bowls and stir in about 3 cups of plain flour. Leave it to rise for about 40 minutes and the roll out flat onto a floured board and then roll it up until it forms a long sausage. Cut three to four slices across the top and leave on a baking tray for another 30 minutes. Paint the top with a mixture of egg and milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

If you do have a go, make sure you come back and leave some feedback. I am sure you will have a way to improve this trial recipe. Maybe you would like to try it with wholemeal or a multigrain flour.
Part 12 cups boiling water2 T butter2 T sugar2 tsp salt Cool to lukewarm.Part 21/2 cup lukewarm water2 T active dry yeast1 T sugar


Nothing To Leave The Block

I often think of the ideal of nothing leaving our block. I have written before about thinking ' what if everything we bought onto our suburban block was to stay here'. Imagine if we had to use, re-use, recycle or dispose of every little thing that came onto the block. I could go to the shop and buy what I needed - flour, sugar etc. That wold be fine because I can tear up the paper packaging and put it in the compost to break down. But when it comes to other forms of packaging I am totally lost. Where would I put the plastic wrap from the inside of a packet ? What about the bag that the oranges came in or the plastic tray in the rice cracker packet ?

If nothing was to leave the block I would have to start a little pile behind the shed, then maybe in the roof, then under the house....... how much would I use in a month... a year ??

:: I often think like this::

Of late I have even been suspicious of recycling systems. We put all our recycling into a different coloured wheelie bin and it is taken "away" wherever that may be. I have read quite a bit recently about how the price of recycled materials has dropped to the point where it is not financially viable to process the materials. Will companies still process recycled goods without a profit ? Out of the goodness of their hearts or their love of the environment ? ( that's for you to answer, but I know what my gut tells me)

So in keeping with my gut, I am still attempting to not have things leave the block, even if they are 'recycle' worthy.

The picture above is of my compost bin in the kitchen. I tear up any packaging or paper that will breakdown as well.

Living with the ideal of nothing leaving the block means you have to be really mindful when you are shopping. Believe me, this is EXTREMELY difficult. I can't ask the girl at the checkout whether waxed milk cartons breakdown in the compost and how long they take !

Yesterday one of the boys opened the last packet of water crackers that was in the cupboard and I tore up the cardboard packaging and ::gulp:: placed the plastic into the bin. Today I made a huge batch of lavash crackers to make me feel better.


A Busy Beetroot Sunday

The day started off with a request for pancakes. Seeing that I had an extra hour this morning ( daylight savings finished and the clock was wound back) I kindly obliged.

Then it was time for a quick trip to town for Easter Hat Parade supplies and some seedlings. I managed to get in some more broccoli, beetroot and a heap of onions. While I was pottering I also got a lot more corn plants. I have also decided to grow sunflowers so that I have lots of seeds to feed the chooks. They go totally mad over them, to the point where they always pick them out first in the seed mix.

Then it was time to get the creative juices flowing. The boys had excellent designs for their Easter hats and I had to beg to have a go at painting the foam eggs. The parade is on Wednesday.

While the paint and glue was drying I managed to process some beetroot that I picked yesterday, using my mother-in-law's recipe.

When you pull the beetroot from the ground, twist the leaves off and leave the messy stumpy bit on the top and the root ball. at the bottom. Wash all the dirt off and boil them in a little salted water until a cooking fork will go right through them.

Remove them from the pot and let them cool completely. Then peel them by rubbing the skins off. They come off really easily.

Then slice them up ( cutting off the yucky top and bottom) and put them into a container. I had my trusty Tupperware on hand. I like the way it lifts the beetroot up and it has a lifetime guarantee.

Then mix 500 mL of vinegar and 250 mL of boiling water and dissolve two dessertspoons of sugar into it. Pout the mixture over the beetroot and discard the remaining mix.

After retrieving the washing from the line and managing to get some ironing time in it was time to start preparing dinner ( by my body clock - but the clock said it was only 3.45 pm lol)

Dinner was very easy tonight, just some 'special' fried rice because we had a big meal last night. . I just cook the rice first, stir fry some bacon and then scramble some eggs into it ( i used three) a clove of garlic and a few splashes of soy sauce and then pour in the rice ( I use basmati ). Then I pour in a chicken stock cube dissolved in a cup of water and then add some peas or shallots or corn or whatever I have on hand.

I hope you had a lovely Sunday. I certainly did.


Snaps of Daily Life... from Yoga to Falafel.

::been doing lots of this and feeling fabulous for it ::

::nothing like a sun salute to wake you up and energize you for the day::

:: been hanging out here. So early that there is no one else on the river. Number one son says 'we own the river', but I think the river owns us ::

::determined not to let falafel get the better of me ~ thatnks for the helpful feedback, I feel success is close at hand::


A Cry For Falafel Help

After our third falafel disaster I am putting out the word for some falafel help. We have tried two different recipes and we are ending up with a soggy mess. So I am calling for your help. We need some falafel training.

Attempt number one - mixture two soft and fell apart when I tried to turn them. They also absorbed a lot of oil.

Attempt number two - mixture looked okay - had the consistency of a rissole when laid out neatly on the plate but fell apart and went soggy during the cooking process.

Attempt number three - hubby tried a different recipe. First batch disintegrated. Second batch stayed together (with the addition of some plain flour to bind them) but the outside was crunchy and the inside soggy.

So.... a plea for help from all you fantastic falafel makers out there.

What is your recipe? What oil do you use? Do you use canned or dried/soaked chick peas? Do you deep fry or cook more like a pancake? Do you hold the spoon in your left hand or right hand ? lol

I really want to get this right. The recipe I have tastes really yummy and I would love to have something that I can serve up on a plate, as opposed to drinking it through a straw.

thanks in advance.


Challah Baking Success....

In keeping with my ' if a woman could make it on a fire 1000 years ago, surely I can do it' approach to cooking of late I decided to try Challah, a traditional Jewish bread. I am not Jewish, although after cutting this loaf and spreading it with real butter....we are considering conversion. lol.

1 cup lukewarm water
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons honey
4 1/2 cups bread flour ( I use Lighthouse brand Bread and Pizza Flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
sesame seeds
Egg wash:
2 egg whites
Mix the water, honey, oil, eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk well. Then pour in half the flour, salt and yeast. Stir well until smooth and leave for 15 minutes. Then slowly add the rest of the flour half a cup at a time, mixing in well. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes. Put in an oiled bowl and wait for about 90 minutes until it doubles in size.
Then divide evenly ( about 375 grams each) and roll out into three ropes. Braid into a long twist tucking both ends under. Glaze with whisked egg white and cover and wait until dough rises further. Then glaze again and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake at about 200 degrees for 20 minutes.
We ate it fresh, with real butter. We also drizzled olive oil over some slices, spread them with crushed garlic and italian herbs and pan fried them for a lovely toasty texture. we then topped it with home made tabbouleh.
A recipe definitely worth trying.


Been Out Back at the Outback House

I have now returned home after going out to Dubbo in western New South Wales to visit my grandmother once again. While I was out there I had the opportunity to visit the Outback House. Ever since the series was shown on ABC a couple of years ago I have been wanting to visit the area, but it is privately owned and was only opened on long weekends and special occasions.

The television series depicted participants from modern day heading back in time to a working homestead in 1861. The property, named "Oxley Downs" was 'built' as a replica of the homesteads of the day. You can see more about the series here I was really drawn to the series because it is very close to where my grandparents built a homestead in the 1930s.

What struck me straight away was the self sufficiency of life. Exactly how my grandmother had described to me. They raised and killed their own meat and grew all their own fruit and veg. My grandmother also grew wheat and took it to the mill to swap for bags of flour.

The homestead was so simple yet so beautiful. It had a hallway that went straight through the building with rooms off to each side. First door on the left was the dining room which doubled as the classroom and office.

The first door on the right was the parlour which has comfortable chairs and small tables and a piano.

The last two rooms were the bedrooms.

I was so intrigued by the kitchen. So primitive, yet highly functional with a separate storage room or larder.

The garden was a huge area that really grew everything, all in together. It was magnificent. There were no neat little rows, it was more a permaculture style. The owners told me to take what I wanted and although I wanted to dive in with a wheelbarrow, I respectfully took a few things that I thought I would be able to continue the heirloom breeds from by saving the seeds.

What really struck me was that in comparison they did it so tough, although they knew no different. They baked and made EVERYTHING. They grew EVERYTHING.

When I arrived home I went to make some rock cakes and suddenly realised how lucky I am. I have refrigeration. I can freeze my vegetables and meat, I have a microwave if I want the butter to melt faster, I have an electric oven. So a more self sufficient lifestyle would be so EASY in comparison. It is so easy to bake bread, make pasta, make jam. Yet..... it seems that we have been tricked into a consumerist lifestyle where even baking a chicken is too much work when it is far more "convenient" to get a pre-cooked chook from the supermarket!

So, my perspective has certainly changed......... I rose early this morning and made strawberry jam. I then had it on a slice of home baked bread from the bread maker, toasted in my electric toaster and I had a cup of tea boiled in my electric jug. Being more self sufficient is suddenly so easy is comparison.

I sat and thought joyful thoughts......

April Theme: Re-organise and Transition

In the Southern Hemisphere, April is in Autumn.  The days here are still warmish, but there is a sneaking whisper in the wind. That whisper ...