Of things delicious and pretty


I seem to have left a long time between posts, and a fair bit has been going on.  My house is gently scented by the huge pot of simmering beans, which I’ll transfer into ice-cube trays when they’re done, and freeze them in easy serve portions for these chilly days that are starting to creep upon us.  Max is soundly sleeping, he’s got his first full day at daycare tomorrow.  He’s been really enjoying his visits so far, he even has day sleeps for them without too much fuss – I’m starting to expect that he may do the same thing for me, but to no avail!

I’m planning to learn how to knit, so that might be the next adventure, I have had fun this week making cards, which has been quite fun, and I have quickly collated enough stuff from the trashy advertising that is constantly being put in my mailbox to make about a hundred more – if only I could find the time!

I’ve also made a huge batch of tomato chilli chutney, saucy plum jam and farm pickles.  I do have to admit that the jam has come out more as a sauce due to the recipe coming entirely from my head, therefore not ending up a very runny but delicious mess.   If  you have an idea about making jam you could probably change-up the recipe to make it more jam like, however it is certainly yummy.  And the pickling liquid is good, but the things I pickled also quite experimental – though this led to the happy discovery that radishes and cabbage are pretty damned good pickled, and the interesting discovery that so are snow peas, beans however seem to get pretty stringy.

So, recipes, if you wish you are welcome to come and have a glimpse into the insanity that is my kitchen….

Tomato Chilli Chutney

  • 500g tomatoes
  • 4 birdseye chilli (or whatever suits your taste buds)
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • Herbs
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 garlic cloves

Plonk it all in a pot, bring it to a boil and wait for the sugar to dissolve, stirring constantly.  Then reduce to a simmer and leave it be for 45 mins.  Then process, put into sterilised jars and seal.  Or however you wish to store it.

Saucy Plum Jam

  • 300g plums, quartered with pips removed
  • 100g pineapple, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 granny smith apple
  • 1 c castor sugar

Bring it all to a boil, simmer til the fruit is all soft, blend it all up.  Then keep it simmering until it reaches some kind of a thick consistency.  Jar it up.

Pickling liquid

Your base is going to be:

– 1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
– 1-1/2 cups water
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 2 tablespoons coarse salt
To this I added:

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 chillies
  • a few black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

You then bring it to a boil, while waiting for it to boil go through your chosen veg and do any prep required. I used onion, cabbage, radish, snow peas, cauliflower and green beans.  Discard anything that looks even slightly past it.  Place into jars. Once the liquid has boiled for about 5 minutes, pour it over the vegetables and seal the jars.  They need to then go into a dark place, and be left alone for a couple of weeks for the flavour to develop (if you’re impatient like me keep a little jar aside, and after a couple of days you can start on it, but it is better the longer you wait.

 

The Music of Food


I’m watching a program called ‘Two Greedy Italians‘ and as they are cooking they speak of the music of the food, the pitches and

the greedy italians

tones telling them whether the food is ready for the next step.  I love it, and I agree.  Think of the sounds of sizzling onions, the satisfying knock on a loaf of bread, the change when the mortar and pestle starts to really pulverize your spices. Even the different sounds that a pot of water makes as it goes through the stages of boiling.

Thought I’d also let you know what I had for dinner tonight:

3 S’s

You’ll need:

Salmon

  • 1 piece salmon (around 170g), skin on
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • chilli to taste
Smash
  • wholegrain mustard
  • plain yoghurt
  • kumera *
  • pumpkin
  • carrot
Salad
  • asparagus
  • rocket
  • cherry tomatoes
  • snow pea shoots
  • avocado
  • walnuts
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • apple cider vinegar
  • wholegrain mustard
  • lime juice
  • chilli powder
  • garlic

What you need to do

1 – Get your mortar and pestle – I do love using a mortar and pestle.

2 – Chop your lime in half, then one half into thirds.  Add this to your mortar and pestle along with chilli, ginger and garlic.  Pound it up a bit. Marinate salmon in this for 10 mins or so, you’ll see that the juice has penetrated into the top layer of the fish.  Don’t leave it too long as the acid in the juice sort of cooks the fish.  (One day soon I’ll tell you all about Poisson Cru, remind me).

3  – while the fish is marinating, chop up your pumpkin, kumera and carrot roughly, boil them until tender.  Blanche the asparagus at the same time, then plunge into cold water.

4 – heat a pan, add a touch of olive oil, add the fish, remove chilli from marinade, reserve the rest.  Cook fish for 2-3 mins each side, I like to have the pan really hot, and turn down the element as I put the fish in (start skin down) – that way there you get a great crispy skin on it, but the heat is a bit more moderated for the skinless side and it cooks a bit slower leaving the flesh more tender – or should that be tenderer?

5 – Drain your veggies, add mustard, yoghurt and some of the marinade. Mash it all up.  I like to leave it a wee bit chunky still. Add herbs if desired – I like to use thyme or rosemary.

6  – Construct salad.  I’m going to take a guess that you can manage this bit – listen to the music of the salad and do whatever pleases you!

7 – pour equal parts vinegar and lime juice, one garlic clove and a sprinkle of chilli powder into a jar, do the hokey pokey and shake it all about, and that’s your dressing.

Yum.

Chicken


Today we bought chickens, they are Lohman crosses and they look a little like this:

**disclaimer** not actually one of our chickens

They are lovely little girls, and I have just found out that as per the council rules we can have up to 7 chickens in our area without requiring a permit, so a couple more may be in order, maybe Australorps, mostly cos I really like black chickens, and I think that it would be cool to try to source a Araucanas so we can have blue eggs.

Yup, I want designer chickens, so what?  It’s not like I’m going to give them totally ridiculous names, and get all attached to them so that when if it comes time for them to make the transition from providers of food to actual food. Hang on, what am I saying, they are never going to be on my table as people fodder.  They each cost $17.50, a carton of eggs is about $5, so as long as each of them provides more than 4 cartons of eggs in their lives, it’s a worthy investment.  Plus they dispose of food scraps, and provide entertainment.  Max is already playing the ‘little dictator’ game that he likes to play with all animals within his domain. Decreeing when they should eat, drink and generally be merry.  And the joy that comes when he advises them to eat and they do?  Priceless.

It’s raining here, and I want to go out and check on them.  Because earlier they seemed a bit stressed by their inside quarters, and would only stand in the doorway, an it must be unpleasant to be all we and feathery.  However I don’t have a torch with functioning batteries, so the whole exercise would be quite pointless with the only end result being me getting wet.  I shall refrain!

You shall be hearing further updates on the Gallus domesticus (aka all things chicken-y) In the mean time, vote on my poll

Whole lotta wanting


I want to be one of those bloggers who has consistently awesome posts.  You know the ones I mean.  Where the kitchen looks cutely messy in the pics and the food is healthy and delicious, with clear instructions and measurements, ah and generally they plan their posts and therefore have photos and other exciting things.  Unfortunately that is not how I cook.

An approximation of a recipe for the chicken burgers I cooked tonight

Burgers

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 Tbsp parmesan
  • an undefined further measure of whole grain flour

Prep your sourdough starter by taking it out of the fridge and leaving overnight in a warm spot.

Add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup whole grain flour, mix gently – at this stage don’t worry about lumps, the yeast seems to sort it all out.  Leave in a warm spot 12-18 hours.

Mix in flour until you have a gooey dough.  You want it just holding it’s form, but still really wet – took about 1.5 cups of flour for mine.  Leave in a warm spot to double in size (it’s quite cold here today, so I popped mine in the oven at its lowest setting for an hour).

Punch down, add more flour until it resembles a dough. Leave to rise again.

Punch down, shape to desired form, I made 6 buns.  Leave to rise yet again. Sprinkle with cheese and herbs.

Cook in an oven at 200 degrees for about 40 mins.

(You could buy buns, however these were awesome)

Patties

  • 150g chicken mince
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • 50/50 mix of breadcrumbs and whole grain flour

Mix together the first 3 ingredients, then add the crumb/flour mix in small amounts until you reach the right consistency.

I’d like to say shape into 2 patties, however I would describe the mix at this stage as chicken glue, so spoon half the mixture into a hot oiled frypan, in a patty-esque shape, and then repeat with remaining mix. Cook in fry pan.

The Finished Product

2 Buns, halved through equator

2 patties

1 tomato, sliced

Rocket

Snow pea shoots

2 slices aged cheese

2 Tbsp onion jam (see recipe here)

Mayonnaise

Beetroot

Combine all ingredients into the classic burger style eating format – may I suggest the order of starting from bottom: bottom of bun, cheese, patty, onion jam, salady things, Mayo, top of bun.

Enjoy with gusto.

I’m the Easter Bunny


Can't talk,I'm doing quality control on the chocolates that were hiding in the garden. Think I have contained them all

I had a teacher at school and we used to often while away Maths classes singing silly songs, one of which was about the easter bunny.  Now I have the only line I can remember, which is “coz I’m the easter bunny”, stuck on repeat in my head.

If anyone has any annoying songs about the easter bunny they’d like to share let me know!

Here goes my promised update on the goings on of Easter.

White Rose

Pink Rose

Snapdragon?

Yellow rose

variegated leaf plant - just love the trio of colours

A collection of floral tributes, I went out into the garden the other day and was taken by the range of colours, shapes, textures

Bananarama

and interplay of light that I found there. I seem though to have taken lots of roses, so another time I shall have to delve into the more tropical aspects and the bright shininess that they throw out.

I also promised you a look at my ultra artisan hot cross buns.  I made them to this recipe  but used a combination of spelt and whole grain flour, a mix of dried mango, cranberry and blueberry, and molasses instead of sugar. I have now discovered that you need quite a light-hand when working with spelt flour as the gluten is not as durable as when using standard flours.

Hot Cross Lumps

They came out looking rather lumpish, and were pretty heavy.  However the flavours were amazing, and I’m pretty impressed with them for my first sourdough cooking experience. Just don’t judge me too harshly!

We had a great time over the long weekend, my sister Amy came up to visit and we had heaps of fun.  Went to visit Australia Zoo, where Steve Irwin’s dreams live on.  The midday show they do is awesome, with input from the birds, crocs and elephants.  Also spent a lot of time looking at kangaroos, Cassowary, Tigers and a screed of other creatures.  The zoo is awesome, however the new Africa section lets the side down a wee bit, but I think they still have a bit of work to do on it. We also had a couple of swims at the beach – Cotton Tree and Noosa, and a great lunch at the Surf Club at Noosa. Gra and I got a night off when Amy stayed in to babysit max and we went to the RSL here, it was really nice, though a rather interesting decor!

Yo homey, I have easter eggs in my bag, check it.

A boy's gotta accessorize

Feeding the crocs

Black cockatoo

Max and Amy watching the show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chillaxing with the roos

Isn't he cute?

Little monkey in the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for a comparative note, this is Brutus, a massive croc we saw on the Adelaide River near Darwin.

Watch this space…


Coming soon, posts on the amazing sourdough hot cross buns I made, with the recipe for you, pictures of some of the more interesting flowers currently residing in my garden (despite the fact that they have had crazy amounts of rain on them and it’s winter). And some other ramblings about what is going on in my life.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m posting a preview of what I will be posting, but there you go.

A distressing Sunday night


So I spent my night distressing a table, using some interesting methods:

  1. Used insect repellant to remove the majority of the stain on the table. This is highly effective, and way easier, cleaner and it also just manages to be less stinky than paint stripper
  2. Steel wool to remove the last of the stain.
  3. Coated the table with a baking soda paste, then painted vinegar on top.  I love the fizzy bit, and it makes the table all clean, absolves the need for scraping, and gives a weathered look.
  4. Scratched up the table a bit with a bottle top, this unfortunately meant I had to open and drink 3 beers.  As I needed to make 3 scratches in the table (ok, I just wanted to drink beer, somehow it just goes with the territory.
  5. Burnt some incense, then used the embers to scorch the table somewhat, and rubbed some ash into my scorch marks.
  6. Boiled up some pots of water to make some heat marks on the table.

Now I just have to wait for it to dry to see the finished product, kinda excited.

before

during

distressing close up

finished, but wet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the kitchen, I have experimented with my dragonfruit, and also made some Aloe Gel, which I then used in:

1 2 3 Lemon Drink

1/3c lemon juice

1/3c orang juice

1-3 Tbsp Aloe Gel (or something resembling it – Aloe gel v hard to measure cos it’s so gloopy)

1/3c honey

1/3tsp cayenne pepper

1/3Tbsp sea salt (or one teaspoon, just 1/3 something seems to fit….)

Mix it all up, dilute with water to your liking

Dragonfruit

Peeling Aloe Leaf

Dragonfruit