Busy?

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Well, it is over 3 weeks since my last blog post so you are probably thinking that my excuse will be that I have been busy.

While I did not trumpet any New Year’s resolutions for 2019, I made a decision that I would not tell myself or anyone else about how busy I was.  I have recently become aware of some of the negative connotations of the word ‘busy’, and therefore, I have made a conscious decision to remove it from my vocabulary and thoughts as much as possible.

So, what of the past 3 weeks?  I have simply been otherwise occupied and not writing.

Cooking, sewing and generally keeping home and hearth together.

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Full-time paid work.

Involvement in community activities.

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Socialising, welcoming visitors and travelling to visit friends.

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As I said, not busy, simply living and loving life.

I am looking forward to sharing some more happenings soon.

 

This Time Next Week………..

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…………..Christmas Day will be just about over.

This single day may be fun, joyous, tedious or whatever you choose to make it.  You may have shopped, cooked, decorated and planned for weeks or even months.  Was it worth it?

My approach to Christmas has become more low-key as the years go by.

In the meantime, life goes on and there is still washing and ironing to do as well as meals to prepare.  Tonight’s dinner is an example of my ‘speed cooking’ on weeknights after a full day at work.

I made Broccoli with Tuna Sauce which is one of my own adaptations of a recipe I saw in a magazine about 30 years ago.  There are no real quantities – just what seems reasonable.

Fry some diced onion, capsicum and a bit of Tabasco sauce.  Add a can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 large can of tuna (shredded).  Simmer and reduce the liquid a little. Lightly steam a head of broccoli broken into florets.  Drain any excess liquid from the broccoli then pour the tuna sauce over it.  Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs and crisp under the griller.  I use a mixture of almond meal and flaxseed meal for a gluten-free option.

This meal took 20 minutes from starting the preparation until I served it.

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Collective Action

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Much of what I write about here falls under the broad categories of cooking, gardening and sewing and of course, the all-encompassing category of self-reliance.

The little things that I do every day contribute to my overall philosophy which is summed up in the byline of the blog – ‘A Simple, Sustainable Life’.

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It is important that we should never underestimate the value of the little things that we can all do each and every day.  However, sometimes we need to look beyond our own backyards and get involved on a larger scale.

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8 days ago on 30th November several major Australian cities and regional centres saw significant numbers of school students, young people and adult supporters marching for their future – a future generated by renewable energy, not coal.  I marched in support of these intelligent and articulate youngsters.

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I am somewhere towards the rear of this photo which was taken today.  There were many, more more out of view of the camera.

Thousands of people marched again today and will continue to do so until our state and Federal governments take serious action on climate change.  The most pressing issue is to have the proposed Carmichael mine by Adani in the Gallilee Basin stopped.

There will be more events in the coming weeks.

All of the research shows that a clear majority of Australians support this action so please consider being involved.  Stand up and be counted and let the politicians hear our collective voice.

Meanwhile, I have made another batch of strawberry jam.  That is 8kg of strawberries made into jam.

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Nothing Special

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Sometimes I don’t write any blog posts, simply because there does not seem to be anything extraordinary to write.  It is easy to forget that the little things I do day in, day out which may be just the tip that will help someone out.

Here is one of those.

We often make sweet potato chips, usually when having salmon for dinner.  I bake the chips in the oven and like to add a little bit of seasoning.  Since I eat a gluten-free diet it cannot include regular flour.

Spicy Seasoning Mix

1 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder

This is reasonably spicy but you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

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These are the chips – I usually pre-cook for a few minutes in the microwave first then drain add place in a preheated tray with a little coconut oil.

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Lightly sprinkle with spice mixture.

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When I toss them after about 10 minutes I usually sprinkle them with a bit more.

As well as for the chips I also use this mixture to coat potatoes when I am baking them.  I rub the potato with a tiny bit of oil then roll them in the spice mixture before baking them in the slow cooker for 4 hours on high.

A Couple of Classics

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It is interesting see how meals and baking have evolved over time but every now and then it is lovely to drag out some tried and true recipes.  As well as the enjoyment of eating the actual food, the memories that they evoke can be a delight.

The other day there was some discussion in an online group regarding using breakfast cereals in baking which made me remember this one which my maternal grandmother used to make.

DATE LOGS

1 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup castor sugar
30g butter
1 egg, beaten
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1& 1/2 cups Rice Bubbles

Place all ingredients except the Rice Bubbles in a saucepan and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring carefully.  Allow to cool.  Mix in Rice Bubbles.  Form into logs and roll in coconut.  Chill and store in the fridge.

I have not made this recipe recently but will do at some time.  I am not sure if Rice Bubbles are strictly gluten-free but you could used puffed rice which would ensure they are gluten free.

My memory of date logs is them being served for afternoon tea on a dainty oval china dish.

The second recipe I want to share with you is a simple melt and mix fruit slice which I successfully converted to a gluten-free version.  Here is the original recipe.

FRUIT SLICE

1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup mixed fruit
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup sugar
125g butter
2 teaspoons golden syrup

Combine dry ingredients.  Add melted butter and syrup.  Press into a shallow tin.  Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.  Ice with lemon or orange icing when cool.

In order to make it gluten free I used a cup of gluten free plain flour and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  Also, rather than mixed fruit I used 3/4 cup of sultanas and 1/4 cup of dried cranberries.  You can use any mixture of fruit that you choose.

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Since we have an abundance of passionfruit I decided to make passionfruit icing.

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They do not look overly pretty because I was racing against the clock and the icing had not completely set when I cut the slice.  However, it tasted amazing and adapted really well to the gluten free flour.

I hope you enjoy these and I will add the links to the recipe file on the front page of the blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Shepherd’s Pie

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Some years ago I first heard this mentioned in an online forum.  Carol, who is sadly no longer with us, described a meal served by their French hosts which was essentially an upside-down shepherd’s pie but with much less meat than we traditionally use and with the addition of ratatouille.  I did not really take a lot of notice at the time but the general principle stuck with me and I recently created this version of my own.

First layer – mashed sweet potato – simply cooked and mashed with nothing added.

Second layer:

1 onion, finely chopped
250g mince
1 cup red lentils, soaked in 3 cups boiling water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder
Tomato paste, tomato sauce or 1/2 cup canned or fresh tomatoes

Saute the onion, add mince and brown, add lentils and any excess water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until moisture is reduced and lentils are soft.  Add seasoning/flavouring as desired.

Spread the mince/lentil mixture over the sweet potato.

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Third layer:

6 mushrooms, sliced finely
1/4 large red capsicum, sliced finely
1/2 large eggplant, sliced finely
1 can crushed tomatoes
Heaped teaspoon mixed herbs

Add a small amount of oil to a pan and add the eggplant and capsicum.  After a couple of minutes add the mushroom then the tomatoes and herbs.  Simmer gently until liquid is reduced.

Add the vegetable mixture to the dish.

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Topping:

1 tablespoon each of flaxseed meal, almond meal, grated parmesan and cheddar cheeses.

Combine in a small bowl.

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You can bake this in the oven but since the components are all cooked and it really only needs heating, I heat it thoroughly in the microwave.

Finally, add the topping and place under the grill to finish off the topping.

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This is virtually a meal by itself so I simply serve it with some stir-fried cabbage.

Finely shredded cabbage tossed in a little coconut oil and seasoned with black pepper and a sprinkle of smoky paprika.

NOTE:  This is my own creation and it is based on the ingredients I had available as well as personal preference with respect to the flavours.  Change and substitute to suit your own tastes and circumstances.

Home-made High Tea

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Yesterday afternoon we had guests coming for afternoon tea.  No tiered cake plates and no photos of what we actually ate but here is the table set and ready.  A damask tablecloth, dainty china and glassware and silver cake forks.

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I wanted to make a dip and my first choice was hummus which I make regularly and I always have a good result despite that fact that I do not really use a recipe.  However, that was not to be as I realised I had no garlic.

A little earlier I had picked a pumpkin from the garden and sliced it up ready to roast. These slices were to be used on pizzas for dinner tonight.  I discovered that I had more than I would need for the pizzas so I decided to make a roasted pumpkin dip.  It couldn’t be that difficult.  The commercially-prepared roast pumpkin and cashew dip is very yummy.

I had no cashews but found a small handful of peanuts and a few pistachios (somewhat stale) and a couple of teaspoons of sesame seeds.  I tossed them all in a tray to roast in the oven for about 10 minutes then ground them in the blender.  The roasted pumpkin was added and blended.  The mixture was too dry for my liking so I added some olive oil and lemon juice bit by bit in equal measure until I achieved the desired consistency.

The next step was the flavour.  A pinch of chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a good grind of sea salt and black pepper and some onion flakes completed the improvisation.

Here is the finished product, garnished with some coriander from the garden.

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As well as the dip which was served with rice crackers and corn chips, I made a chocolate slice.  The guests brought some local brie and olives which were as delicious as any I have had.

A pleasant afternoon with good company, food and conversation.