Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Some days you need to make things easy...

I can go for weeks putting a lot of time and effort into our meals, but then I'm confronted with a really busy few days and it becomes clear that I need some 'quick' fix meals that still taste good and still provide good nourishment to our bodies.

Today was one of those days.
Fortunately I have a good supply of my buckwheat granola, so that's my daily breakfast with those (still) abundant spring strawberries.
My sour dough mother was ready, so I baked a fresh loaf of rye bread...

 ...and we had it simply buttered and smeared with lemon curd for lunch.

I made use of my crockpot again, this time to simmer a piece of corned silverside throughout the day. Easy peasy start to dinner!

To serve with the silverside:
I chopped up wedges of potato and sweet potato...

...and tossed them through with olive oil, garlic, and a teaspoon of Sumac spice.

 Spread across a baking sheet I baked them for 30 minutes until golden!

Another quick side was coleslaw.
Some very good herb mayonnaise, and a pack of pre-cut cabbages, carrot, corn, and celery... in just 45 minutes dinner is on the table...

...and dessert is in the oven!

Berry Crumble dessert was another short cut:
One pack of frozen mixed berries, grated zest of one orange, juice of one orange, 1 tablespoon raw sugar, 2 teaspoons of cornflour, and 1/3 cup water...

Crumble topping:
one cup of my breakfast granola in the food processor, then add 2 teaspoons butter, 1 teaspoon honey, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1/3 cup flaked almonds.

Bake for 30  minutes. Serve with custard (bought ready made: another shortcut today)...

Sorry about the photo quality of my dinner pics. Dreadful kitchen lighting.

One thing I know. If you can put in time and effort for good nutritious meals 75% of the time, you can cut yourself some slack the other 25%. 
I don't feel bad about not making my own custard, or preparing my own coleslaw veggies, or making my own mayonnaise...I feel blessed that when I stand back and look at what we ate today it was all good.
It nourished our bodies, and as my husband said after dinner, "That was a yummy dinner, dear!"


Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I'm enjoying the routine of buckwheat granola and fruit each day for breakfast. 
Not having to think 'what will I eat?' with my morning coffee allows me to move right along to any prep I need to do for that night's dinner.

Today I pulled my crock pot out into daylight, the first time I've used it since last year. It was a gift from my husband back in 2003, and was used almost every day because we lived in a very cold climate and hot casseroles and stews made regular welcome appearances on the dinner table.
Since living in hot climates it's barely seen the light of day, so before the summer arrives I think I'll make use of it a few times. 
(Plus, there's a crockpot marmalade recipe I've always wanted to try!)
For dinner tonight I browned some chicken pieces until they were sticky from the caramelisation a slow frying brings about - this assures a very tasty sauce. 
I also sauted leeks, garlic and onions...
Into the crockpot it all went, with chicken stock, white wine, thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves...
Eight hours later we devoured the chicken and sauce spooned over mashed potatoes and served with honey carrots. Beautiful!

The buttermilk I made yesterday turned out perfect, so I'll use it later in the week for scones, and also as a soak for chicken breasts before crumbing. Buttermilk tenderises chicken beautifully!

It's already heating up in the tropics, though we're only a week into Spring, and the sun shines brightly through my kitchen window from dawn. I've noticed that my potatoes are turning green almost overnight, even though I store them in a deep ceramic crock with little air holes around the base.
To extend the life of my potatoes I made a potato sack out of a thick cotton tea towel, securing the neck with some leftover cotton twill from a fat quarter bundle...
It holds 5kgs of potatoes quite easily, and I can now keep it in the bottom shelf of the pantry. From start to finish this took me just 5 minutes! I'm going to buy a few new tea towels and make one for onions as well. I love the ease of using strong tea towels for projects in the kitchen.

My latest sour dough starter is almost ready for use, and I have an idea to use it for a fruit and nut loaf. Will let you know how that goes.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Still keeping the kitchen honest...

I have been slowly looking through my cookbooks for new healthy meal ideas, and this one by Gwyneth Paltrow isn't bad...
I made her meatballs on Monday night using veal mince instead of the turkey mince she used...
I don't think I've ever put so much green into a meatball mix before! To 500g (1 lb) of meat I added one cup of rocket (arugula), half a cup of basil, half a cup of parsley, and handfuls of other greens I could find as I didn't have all the ones she used.
I also made a fresh tomato sauce and served it with the meatballs over the last of our sour dough  bread, which I grilled with garlic and butter. No photo because it was late and the light in the kitchen is ghastly for night photos.

Dessert was an absolutely YUMMY strawberry & rhubarb crumble...

 I've never put those two together in a recipe before, but this will have an encore performance very soon, especially whilst its strawberry season...


Bread baking day...
...this time with lovely pumpkin seeds studded across the top like a hedgehog...

I wanted to use up what was on hand for Tuesday's dinner, so I cleaned out the veggie tray in the fridge before I shop again on Wednesday.
Corn fritters are a wonderful breakfast food, but we like them as a main. I start by removing the kernels from two corn cobs...

Then I chopped up the remaining coriander and parsley, and grated my zucchini...

Finely diced spring onions, and sun dried tomatoes were added next...

...then a cup of spelt flour, a tablespoon of cornflour, some Celtic sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Final step is to add filtered water until the ingredients until they come together.

I drop tablespoons into melted butter and fry them. We had these for dinner alongside the leftover baked potatoes from Sunday, and the last of our bacon. 

I fried the bacon and potatoes in a little olive oil until the potatoes were crisp. Dinner was wonderful!
We finished off the day enjoying the last of the strawberry & rhubarb crumble with a little custard.

 I have a new sour dough mother brewing, a fresh batch of buttermilk made, and more yoghurt almost ready.
Tomorrow I'll be using the crockpot to cook the last of my chicken portions, and I'll serve it with the rice I'm soaking. 

Truly, sharing what's happening in the kitchen via this blog is helping me stay on track. 
Hope you're enjoying the visuals along the way!


Monday, 2 September 2013

The weekend...

My dear husband really is changing his ideas about food, what we eat, where it comes from, and how we prepare it.
As our youngest child will be leaving home for good in October, these days I am working on a good routine of plan and preparation for the meals both he and I enjoy, without considering her too much. She's still a KFC and Macca's girl, you see. One day I think she'll have a change of heart, but until then I just fill her memory banks with all I learn about healthy foods, so she can access it when she wants to.

Friday night I soaked oats, pecans, almonds, yoghurt, milk, water and a little honey for Saturday morning's breakfast, which my hubby agreed to try. We still have a glut of strawberries so they tend to end up in almost everything!

It was yummy, and very light on the tummy, so we'll do this again. He did say that it would take him a little getting used to as he normally has boxed cereal with yoghurt.

Surprise, surprise!
The raw buckwheat I had soaked the afternoon before, drained, and left sitting on the bench to sprout did so in just 18 hours! I know this happens faster in the tropics, but this was super fast! I bought really good organic buckwheat kernels at Sprout on Friday and I think that is why they sprouted so fast - no chemical sprays to inhibit the sprouting?

 Anyhow, the superfast sprout meant I had to bring forward my granola making morning by 24 hours.
I made up my mix this time with soaked almonds and sunflower kernels, freshly ground flaxseeds (linseeds), cinnamon, olive oil, coconut oil, raisins, cranberries, and organic honey. I've never made it with honey before - always using maple syrup previously - but as I truly am trying to use what is on hand, honey was the obvious replacement.
I filled three trays in the dehydrator...

The dried fruit soaking in tea overnight was ready to be mixed into an Irish Tea Cake....

I like this recipe because it uses no fats, and though we do eat healthy fats in various forms (olive oil, organic butter, nuts and seeds, avocado..) every day, I do like to balance that with treats that have none.
I also added only 1/2 the recommended brown sugar as I find dried fruit sweet enough. Next time I may omit sugar completely, but for the next few weeks just cutting right back on our sugar consumption is a good way to begin breaking our way out of the 'sweet tooth' addiction we've both shared in the past...

I had also soaked short grain rice on Friday, in preparation for my Nana's 'Baked Rice Pudding'.
I know Nana never soaked her rice, but I really do find it's nice to eat and better on the digestive system.
Nana had enamel pans for her puddings, and I cherish the ones I have purchased at garage sales and charity shops over the years. This pudding screamed to be baked in one...
It baked in a water bath, and I used a large ceramic dish to hold the water. A generous grating of nutmeg, and in to the oven...
Nana would be proud.

After all that work it was time to use up more of those strawberries, so I made a soy/strawberry/cacao smoothie, to enjoy whilst browsing through a new recipe book...

By lunchtime it occurred to me that we'd been eating a lot of grains this week so I threw together good old fashioned bacon, eggs, tomato and mushrooms for a protein lunch. But we still opted for a slice of sour dough toast to soak up the yummy, runny egg yolk...

Dinner plans were put on hold when the lovely couple who bought my station wagon a couple of months ago invited us over for a meal! What a blessing. 
Before we went out I still made sure I had my nightly prep done for Sunday's meals. As Sunday was Fathers Day here in Australia I decided to soak some spelt flour in buttermilk and yoghurt overnight for scrumptious blueberry and orange muffins at breakfast...

I write myself a 'to-do' list each night now, and leave it on the fridge, so I can be sure to stay on track the next day. 
I also have a list with meal ideas for the days ahead, that makes use of what we already have on hand so that nothing spoils and I don't waste those precious $$'s. I wish I'd thought to do this years ago.

Sunday was the first day of Spring here in Australia, and Fathers Day as well!
My spelt flour had soaked overnight and was ready to have other ingredients added before baking...
I popped some fresh blueberries on top before they went in the oven, and my oh my, these were yummy when baked!
My husband was rather chuffed with his Father's Day brekky!
There was still some mix leftover, so I baked another four muffins, but this time with strawberries...

 Planning ahead, I've frozen half of the blueberry muffins for quick breakfasts on busy days.
Just out of curiosity I counted how many blueberries were in the punnet, and there were 86. I was impressed.

After breakfast my granola had finished dehydrating and was cool so I stored it away...

...and the new rye sour dough starter I began on Friday had tripled in size and was bubbling like crazy so I popped it in the fridge to be used in Monday's bread baking. One brilliant side effect of tropical living is that things ferment very quickly...

Lunch was simply grilled tomato and cheese on sour dough, served with some Tea Cake from Saturday's baking.

After lunch I made a marinade of lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, and honey, and used some to marinate chicken pieces for dinner...the rest to be used in baking the chicken with potatoes in the early evening.

Dinner was wonderful but I forgot to take's something I'll be making again (and again) so I'll share the finished pics then.
The day ended with more Baked Rice Pudding, and fresh orange jelly.

Wow, when I look back over this post I think, "what an amazing weekend in the kitchen!"

What did you make that was yummy?