Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Gluten Free Veggie Rolls

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Regular sausage rolls are quite obviously not vegetarian.  Nor are they gluten free.  So, here is an alternative.

GLUTEN FREE SHORTCRUST PASTRY

Ingredients

1 & 1/2 cups gluten free self-raising flour
90g butter
1/3 cup cold water

Method

Place flour in a bowl.  Finely shred the butter and rub into the flour until crumbly.  Add cold water and stir in with a knife blade to make a firm dough.  Knead on a lightly floured surface and roll out as thinly as possible.  Use as desired for quiche, savoury pie, sausage rolls etc.

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VEG FILLING

1 cup red lentils (soaked for 3-4 hours)
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
300g sweet potato
2 tablespoons hummus
2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried powdered tomato
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper

GLAZE

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Cook the sweet potato and mash roughly.  Saute the onion and garlic.  Drain the lentils and combine all of the ingredients thoroughly.

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Whisk the egg and milk together for the glaze.

Roll out the pastry on a flexible surface which will assist in rolling the pastry.  A baking sheet works well.  Spread mixture on pastry.  Create a roll and use a little of the glaze to seal the join of the pastry.  Cut into suitable sizes.  Glaze with egg mixture and bake for approximately 20 minutes at 190C.

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NOTES

I use this mix of gluten free flour and add 2 teaspoons baking powder for each cup of flour used.

The filling ingredients can be varied depending on personal tastes and what you have on hand.  For example the hummus was in the fridge and needed to be used up.  The main thing is that you are looking for a mixture which will stick together and is adequately seasoned to your liking.

These can be part of a main meal as well as a substantial snack.

I served them with quinoa tabouli and some homemade tomato sauce for dinner.

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The remainder have been packed up for the freezer.

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Local and Leftovers

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There has been quite a bit happening here as we prepare to leave for our holiday in less than 2 weeks.

However, some things remain consistent and preparing meals is one of them.  They are not overly fancy but here is a quick snapshot of some of our recent food.

This was my Sunday brunch.  Omelette with stir-fried cabbage and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Apart from the seasonings (salt, pepper and smoky paprika), everything was sourced within 20 metres of my kitchen.  No chemicals, no packaging and no transport costs.  This is not feasible for every meal or even every day but it is quite exciting when it happens.

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Then there are leftovers.  On Saturday evening we had Mexican quinoa followed by satay chicken and vegetable stir-fry the next night.  So last night was leftovers – a multi-cultural taste sensation!  They are not flavours I would generally combine but it was a wholesome and satisfying meal.

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Note that there was cabbage in the stir-fry.  When you have several home-grown cabbage it goes into pretty well everything.  There is no photo but we also recently had baked potatoes with salad and a generous serving of coleslaw.

As a change from cabbage, today I picked these 2 beautiful heads of broccoli.  I steamed the florets of broccoli then made a tuna and tomato (with a touch of chilli) sauce to pour over them and finished with cheese and flaxseed meal topping.  A few minutes under the grill and I served it with some rice.

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There will probably be a few creative meals in the next week or so as we try to use up what is on hand as well as in the garden.

Cooking Dinner

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Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy cooking.  However, I do not necessarily want to set aside an extended period for meal preparation every single day.  Therefore, making a larger quantity than required of some meals will save time and energy at a future time.

It also makes sense when turning the oven on to make it worthwhile.  Past generations would probably have popped in a batch of scones or a cake or baked dessert but that is not always required so a bigger batch of a meal makes sense.

Tonight I made vegetable kofta from a recipe I found some years ago in a magazine from the local Co-op food store.  I have adapted it somewhat from the original in that I do not saute the vegetables, I bake the balls rather than frying them and make slightly bigger balls than suggested.  Additionally, I doubled the mixture tonight.

Vegetable Kofta

1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup of grated sweet potato
1 cup of finely shredded cabbage
2 cups of grated cauliflower
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/2 cups chickpea (besan) flour

Combine shredded vegetables.  Combine all dry ingredients and add to vegetables.  Stir to mix thoroughly.  Add a little more flour if required.  NOTE:  The mixture will be quite wet but that is fine.  Form into balls and place on greased tray and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.  (I turned mine after about 10 minutes).

Here they are on the tray and ready to go in the oven.

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I served them with a spicy tomato sauce (pasta style) on a bed of rice for a satisfying dinner.

They are versatile and can make a yummy lunch with a side salad or as an appetiser with tsatziki dip.

A Golden Oldie

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Prompts from several different sources inspired me to make a Lemon Delicious pudding yesterday.

First, a Facebook group post encouraged members to make a post recipes for a childhood favourite food.

Second, my brother, sister and brother-in-law were coming for dinner.  What better, than to share a dessert from our common childhood memories?

Third, another Facebook group discusses how our grandparents lived, including cooking and preparing food.

I had not made Lemon Delicious since 2012 when I began eating a gluten-free diet, however, I was not going to let that stop me.

I have posted the recipe for Lemon Delicious on the blog previously.  See here.  Unfortunately the photos have disappeared from the old post and I am unable to retrieve them.

So, here it is again – with the addition of the gluten-free option.

LEMON DELICIOUS

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons plain flour (use gluten-free flour if required)
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add flour, juice and rind.  Mix well.  Separate the eggs, add yolks and milk to mixture.  Place the whites in a separate bowl and beat until stiff.  Fold the beaten egg white into the mixture.  Pour into an ovenproof dish.  Stand the dish in a tray of water (about 2-3cm deep) and place in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is firm to touch and golden.

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The finished product is like a lemon self-saucing pudding.  This can be served warm or cold with ice-cream, cream or custard.

NOTES:

As a nod to past generations, I did not use my Kitchen Aid mixer to cream the butter and sugar.  I used a bowl and tablespoon – hard but satisfying work.  I also beat the egg whites using a hand-held rotary beater.  The results were equally as good as any I have made previously using electric appliances.

The ‘sauce’ of the pudding was somewhat thicker than other efforts and I think this was probably due to using gluten-free flour which does tend to absorb more moisture.  I would probably ad the juice of another half a lemon in order to rectify this.  Despite this, the pudding was extremely well-received by the dinner guests and I will definitely be making it again before too long – especially as the lemon trees are absolutely laden with fruit.

 

Scones? Yes, please.

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I have never had a great deal of success baking scones but when you add the requirement to be gluten-free into the mix it really becomes a challenge.

A few years ago I acquired this book and I have mastered the scones.  I think the trick is the flour blend which is explained in the beginning of the book.

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I use the following to make 1kg of plain gluten-free flour and use the Kitchen Aid mixer to thoroughly blend the flours before storing in an airtight container.

340g brown rice flour
340g potato starch
200g arrowroot
120g quinoa flour

Here is the original scone recipe from the book.

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Please note that it has 900g of flour so makes a large batch.  I make a half mix because that is what will fit in my mixer.  A half mix makes 16 large scones using my method.

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As usual, I have adapted both the recipe and the method.  I make savoury cheese scones to serve with homemade soup but there is no reason that you could not make sweet scones.

CHEESE SCONES

400ml warm milk
40g psyllium husk

450g gluten-free flour blend (see recipe above)
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese

2 eggs
20ml apple cider vinegar

130g butter

Combine milk and psyllium and set aside. Combine dry ingredients and cheese.  Grate/shred the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Add the eggs and vinegar to the psyllium mixture then add to the flour mixture.  Combine until you have a soft dough.  I use the Kitchen Aid stand mixer for this but can be done by hand.

I use a 20cm x 20cm square tin lined with a silicone sheet and press the scone dough into the tray.

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Using a knife dipped in flour, cut into 16 portions.  These cuts will not remain throughout the baking process but will be a guide for the second part of the baking.  Brush with milk and bake at 180C for about 15 minutes.  The scones will not be completely cooked yet.

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Remove from the oven, lift from the pan and lay on a flat baking tray.  Using the original cuts as a guide, recut the scones and arrange on the tray with the centre ones (least cooked) on the outside and bake for another 10 minutes approximately.  Make sure the scones are spread out to allow them all to fully cook.

Whilst this is far from a ‘traditional’ scone recipe or method, it does provide a very acceptable gluten-free alternative which most people who do eat gluten are more than happy to eat.

Winner – Chicken Dinner

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I made satay chicken for dinner tonight.  It was simple, tasty and here is the recipe.

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This is my adaptation of one I found on Best Recipes.

Satay Chicken (serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 onion (finely diced)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
1 tablespoon peanut paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce/tamari
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 cup water

Lightly fry the onion and garlic, then add the chicken pieces.  Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except the water.  Combine thoroughly and then add the water, mix well and simmer gently for about 15 minutes until sauce is reduced and thickened.

Serve with rice and accompaniments as desired.