Dragons and Armadillos.


Can't take credit for this image -thanks flashscreen

If you’ve been following, you know that one of the things I first thought was cool about my new garden is that we have waterdragons here, and frequently see them flitting about.  Well, the rain has finally gone away here in the Sunshine Coast, and when I ventured outside today I discovered that I also have the fruit of dragons (henceforth known as Dragonfruit) growing in my garden.

They are awesome looking, night flowering cacti that grow these super cool looking fruit. I think that I have left mine on for a wee bit long, so they don’t have a lot of flavour left, but I just found a chutney recipe, so might have a go at that cos if nothing else it will look way very interesting.  Though I’m getting close to needing more jars, more on that later.

I’m going to be able to make some very interesting fruit salads this year: passionfruit, dragon fruit, banana and tamarillo anyone?  Does anyone else find that when they think of tamarillos there is a mental association with Armadillos?  Maybe that’s just my strange brain.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all my tamarillos either, they seem to just be mental imagery for me right now, my other one is the story we always get told of when my Mum was little and Grandmax had to fence off the tamarillo trees as otherwise Mum would wait for them to fall down and would end up with a rash on her face since they’re so high in acid.

I’m also wondering about my Aloe Vera.  I’ve found how to make my own Aloe vera gel, which is on the to do list, but I have also recently tried the silky sweet and spectacular Aloe Vera juice, and want to have a go at that, but not doing so well on finding recipes, so all help appreciated there.

40 Chillis? Check

Heading back indoors, had a busy day yesterday in the kitchen. Chilli plant was overflowing with spicy goodness, so I made a big batch of Harrisa, though I’m going to try a few other things, even with harvesting 40 (yup, 4-0) chilli for the recipe the bush is still laden.

Also, another batch of Watermelon Rind Chutney, after Kim’s suggestion to blend it down a bit, turns out I really like watermelon rind chutney, all those poor rinds I have thrown out over the years!

I also made a batch of Onion Jam, which like the harrisa was a first effort – and turned out super yummy, had some this morning for breakfast on muffin splits with ricotta and smokey ham. Recipe’s

Dub me all Chutney

easy too:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 600g brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Add sugar. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add vinegar and 1/2 cup cold water. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thick.
And then put them in these cute baby mason jars, and made little tags, yay for fun gift idea.
My last kitchen fun for the day was a sourdough starter.  I’ve never done one before, as the hassle of feeding them never seemed worth the payoff, I know that I would baby it for a little while, maybe make one batch, then forget about it.  But this recipe I found on Pinterest: http://www.armommy.com/holidays/sourdough-starter-d-i-y/ you only have to feed every month or two. Yeoop.  It’s asking to be forgotten about, for short periods of time.

In the beginning there was flour, and water, and yeast

and upon the shelf it sat, and stewed, and grew

And it bubbled and it brewed, basically looking like goo

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A Spear of Grass


Asparagus – yum! I should have taken photos, however I wasn’t aware of just how good this would taste until I was halfway through eating it.  I have however tonight been inspired by KatySheCooks‘s roast asparagus recipe to share this tidbit with you.

I do these poach/roasted potatoes which are divine, and the other day had a bunch of other vegies lying around that I decided to see how they would react to the same treatment.  The conclusion? You get these great rich caramel flavours, a mix of crunchy and soft textures, and it just makes goodness in your mouth.  Plus as with many of my favourites, looks quite fancy, doesn’t take much work.  What I did:

Poachy Roast Salad

  • 2 Kipfler Potatoes with skin on in 1cm slices
  • 1 Zucchini, ribboned (use a potato peeler)
  • Pumpkin 1 cm slices, roughly the same amount and size as your potato
  • Garlic cloves, whole peeled
  • Cherry tomatoes (1/2 punnet)
  • Button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • Olives a good handful pitted Kalamata
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • Fried sage leaves
  • Toasted nuts (I used Hazelnuts and Pine Nuts)
  • white wine herby vinegar dressing
  • 250mls chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Put the potatoes, garlic and pumpkin into a baking dish, pour the stock over.  Cook 25 mins, add mushrooms and asparagus cook another 10 mins (most of the stock have been absorbed).

Turn the oven up to 250, add tomatoes, and zucchini, cook 15 mins.

Remove, add the rest of the ingredients, and chow down.

OCD

Aside


Why does it seem that all the bloggers I really enjoy trend towards OCD.  I need to cultivate some of that. Not only for the awesome blog writing abilities, but for the fact that I might have a clean and organised house then!

It Begins


Call me a sucker if you will, however the allure of biggest loser helping me lose weight was too strong.  I’ve signed up, punched in my measurements, got my resistance bands, planned my menu for the week (though due to the ridiculous amounts of rain have not managed to shop properly yet).  I have also taken some rather unflattering ‘before’ photos.  If I do well will post the before and afters at the end.  Actually, I’m going to do well, so I will post them at the end of the challenge – 8 weeks time!

Easy Peasy Japanesey


ImageWatching “An Idiot Abroad” he’s in Japan, he’s checking out all the random rubbish created in Japan, things that weirdly enhance your life.  And yes, he did the classic Japan beginners bidet trick.  Oh, what a funny web you weave.

He went to a builder’s site though, and joined in the morning stretches (and the 80-year-old blokes were more flexible than him), it got me to thinking that the world would be a better place if we simply stretched more. How good would you feel if you got in to work, and they played some relaxing music and you stretched for 10-15 mins?

Now he’s eating fermented fish sushi.

What is much more delicious, and easy to make from home is:

Okonomiyaki

You’ll need

  • 1 cup pasta flour
  • 2/3 cup dashi or water
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup tenkasu (you should get at the supermarket – fried tempura batter flakes)
  • 6 strips of prosciutto
  • vegetable oil

For toppings:

  1. Mix together flour and water/dashi.  Refrigerate an hour.
  2. Divide mix into two, add half of your cabbage, onion, and whatever else is going in your pancake, gently mix
  3. Heat a barbeque or large fry pan, add mix, flatten to about 2cm high, arrange bacon on top, cook for 3 mins, flip, cook another 4-5.
  4. Flip it back to the top to finish off cooking, your bacon should have crisped up nicely, it’ll need about 3 mins to cook through.
  5. Smother with okonomiyaki sauce and kewpie mayo.   Sprinkle Nori on top.
Additional extras – to your mix you can add prawns, little sausages, chicken, ham, cherry tomato, capsicum, basically whatever takes your fancy I guess.  Anything that goes good in a savoury crêpe would probably be pretty good.
Also you can add some grated potato to the flour, makes it more like proper Okonomiyaki flour.  You can use plain flour too if you can’t get pasta flour.  Or if you can get okonomiyaki flour you’re onto a winner!

a pristine okonomiyaki image 

Finally, if you are being served this in japan, it’ll look something like:
And will have bonito flakes sprinkled on top wiggling in the breeze.  Bonito flakes, are little slivers dried fish – thinner than tissue paper.  Not a fan myself, but you really should try at least once with them on, simply for the visual joy 🙂
Okonomiyaki image from http://okonomiyakiworld.com/

Awesomeness”’


Furthering the awesome feeling of constructing my bookshelves, I continued my run of being awesome.

Happy in his newly furnished looking room

I put Max’s bed together, so now he is elevated from the floor, we had to have a very serious discussion that it was still the same bed, and his bob quilt would still go on top, and yes, it truly is a big boy bed. But after a couple of checks on my bed, and then his, we came to the conclusion that it would probably be ok.

Then the Salvos were selling local pumpkins, so I bought one, and promptly made pumpkin soup.  I also finally made some watermelon relish, I’v had the recipe for yonks and it looks really pretty.  Though the smells it wafted off were not exactly delicious that may have something to do with the fact that it’s watermelon rind, vinegar and sugar along with some peppercorns so as it cooks it just has gross vinegar smells.

I also made dippers for the soup by grilling wraps.  Something I do often, and are yum, though was a bit off today and had fires in the grill a couple of times – oops!

A kitchen full of joy

Interesting smells, but delicious results

Sense of achievement


So I bought these two little shelf units for bedside tables, they’re boring, bland and were only $14 each, so later in the piece might spruce them up a bit. However I have this great sense of achievement that I managed to put them together, so why not post about it?

But I’m all, woop, I did something, yay me! There is however a part of my brain going – yeah, you have a wrist that turns, cos seriously, it’s 5 pieces of wood per cabinet, and they are all pre-drilled, finished and everything. All I did was get out my trusty swiss army knife, and turn the screws until they were flush(ish) with the holes.

But still, woop me.

Also, is it a concidence, or are the Swiss and the Swedes working together for economic world domination – the Swiss make Victorianox (aka Swiss Army knife), and the Swedes invented IKEA (aka furniture you can put together with a swiss army knife).

Rusty chimes


Rust chimes

One bag of rusty artefacts from the trip + too much time on my hands = these fantastic wind chimes. I did learn a lesson though, even though these made fantastic noises when tapped together, they don’t seem to actually tap each other. I think maybe a bit more planning required. But it looks really pretty, so I am pleased.