Use It Up

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Food is one of the less obvious things you need to consider when planning to move house. This is not a major issue if you are moving down the road or even across town but it is definitely a consideration when moving further afield.

We are moving to a different state and while jars of dry goods can be packed in boxes as with other household items the contents of the refrigerator and freezer are a different story.

It is still about 7 weeks until we depart but it is never too soon to consider how best to use the contents of the refrigerator and freezer. I am fairly aware of what I have available and will be working towards using this up. Of course, I will still be buying fresh fruit and vegetables.

Yesterday I made a big batch of Eggplant & Bean Curry. This vegan and gluten-free dish is definitely one of our favourites.

EGGPLANT & BEAN CURRY

Ingredients

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon Massaman curry paste
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
500ml water
1 can light coconut cream
2 large potatoes, diced into 1cm pieces and cooked until tender
600g eggplant, diced into 1cm pieces
300g green beans, prepared and cut into 2cm lengths

METHOD

Prepare the vegetables as per the ingredient list. Heat the oil, add onion wedges, curry paste and spices, toss until well combined and the onion is softened. Add the diced eggplant, combine and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the water and stock powder. Simmer until volume is reduced slightly. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Add more water if required. Stir in the coconut cream and simmer to reduce slightly if required. Finally, add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes.

I serve this with a small quantity of brown rice. You do not need to add too many carbs as there is already potato in the curry.

NOTE: The quantities are based on what I had available and the desired level of spiciness. You can adjust according to your own tastes. I use this basic curry sauce for of curry dishes. It is particularly good with a dish based on cauliflower, too.

This made a total of 8 serves (4 meals) for GMan and I. We had one for dinner and the remainder was portioned up and went into the freezer. That is 3 more meals I will not have to prepare in the next 7 weeks.

Replenishing Supplies

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We arrived home from holidays last Friday afternoon and in next to no time we were back into building up our food supplies.

Our kitchen overlooks the vegetable garden and I could a sea of red cherry tomatoes rambling everywhere. This, coupled with the fact that we had almost entirely depleted our stock of tomato sauce (ketchup) meant that this was a high priority on my ‘to do’ list.

The recipe for the sauce is here.

I made another batch of gluten free pizza bases. I make 6 at a time and freeze them ready for an easy meal.

Recipe for the pizza bases is here.

GMan got in on the act and restocked his homemade sourdough bread.

Finally, I picked a bucketful of Davidson plums from our tree (indigenous tropical fruit) and made what I regard as the best jam in the world.

I have included links to the recipes for the tomato sauce and pizza bases.

I will do full posts about the jam and sourdough in the not too distant future.

Also, don’t forget to check the recipe index on the blog. The link to the page is ‘Recipes – Food’ at the top of the blog.

Functional or Fad?

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It is now about 2 months since I capitulated and bought an airfryer.

I had not really investigated what an airfryer was or how they worked but when I heard them being mentioned in a couple of Facebook groups I dismissed them as another unnecessary kitchen gadget. My first real-life experience of them was when we were invited to dinner a couple of months ago. The potatoes cooked in the airfryer were absolutely divine.

GMan came home and started researching various options. Coincidentally, Aldi had them in their special buys the following week so we decided to bite the bullet and see whether all of the hype was worth it. For us it has certainly proven to be $70 well-spent.

Apart from the rather obvious benefit of being able to replicate at least some deep-fried food with minimal oil there are also considerable energy savings from using the airfryer rather than a conventional oven. Food cooks more quickly and it does not heat the entire kitchen.

The airfryer is also quick and easy to clean.

My first attempt was chips which were an absolute winner. Since then I have cooked salmon, arancini balls, marinated chicken pieces, garlic and eggplant slices as well as nachos.

For the nachos, I lined the cooking tray with baking paper and assembled the nachos as per my ‘recipe’ here. 8 minutes at 190C in the airfryer and dinner was ready.

I served these with a side salad of coleslaw.

Preserves in the Pantry

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Apologies for my absence but more about that in another blog post.

I generally make all of our own jam and today GMan and I were discussing what we had on hand.

The inevitable consequence of our discussion was that he pulled out all of my unlabelled jars from their storage spot in the back corner of the pantry.

There was tomato sauce, sweet chilli sauce, lime marmalade, jaboticaba jam and Davidson plum jam as well as a gifted jar of marmalade. It was a timely review as I noted that there was no spare bottles of Worcestershire sauce. Time to make some more. The recipe is here if you are interested.

I decided that there could be an easier way to store and access these homemade goodies. I remembered an wooden serving tray that was not being used so I placed all of the jars on the tray. This will make it much easier to get them in and out of the pantry.

Soup for Supper

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Today I have made leek and potato soup. It is winter here in Australia and although we live in a relatively mild climate there is something appealing about a pot of homemade soup on a damp, grey day.

There are plenty of recipes on the internet for leek and potato soup but this is my version.

LEEK & POTATO SOUP

Ingredients

1 medium/large leek
3 medium/large potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon dried celery leaves
1 teaspoon rosemary salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1.5 litres water

Method

Wash and thinly slice the leek. Heat oil in a large pot and saute the leek. Stir constantly to avoid it browning. When the leek is soft, add 1 litre of water and the stock powder and other seasonings. Simmer gently.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the potato. Microwave until tender. Reserve about 1/3 of the potato cubes and add the rest to the soup and continue simmering for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. I use a handheld blender for this. Roughly mash the remaining potato and stir into the soup. Add more water to create desired consistency. Check and adjust seasoning as required.

NOTES:

Be extremely careful when blending hot soup.

You may choose more, less or different seasoning to what I have used.

I make the rosemary salt by stripping the leaves from the stems, dehydrating them and then grinding to a powder which I mix 50/50 with a good quality salt.

Soup simmering.

The end result.

Baking Day

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It is over 2 weeks since my last post and I am not really sure why. It is partly because I have been occupied with personal aspects of my life which are not blog material but also I have been somewhat overwhelmed by national and global events which are out of my control.

Anyway, I am back and wanted to share a little of my day from yesterday.

As you may be aware, GMan has been the baker of bread in our house for probably close to 30 years. The breadmaker is an appliance that was a fad for some people and ended up relegated to a storage space to gather dust or the next garage sale. That was not the case here and it has been used consistently here for many years. Our current model is the second one we have owned.

Our bread needs have changed as our daughters left home and the demand for sandwiches diminished. Also, I eat a predominantly gluten-free diet, therefore, regular bread is off the menu.

In the early days GMan used various premixes, however as time has progressed so have his skills. He now makes bread in the breadmaker from scratch. This is mostly restricted to the occasional loaf of fruit loaf which he enjoys.

His main focus now is sourdough which he has researched, studied and perfected in the last 5 years. You can read about one of the earliest results here. Continuing research and a more mature starter have contributed to his current success of which he is justifiably proud.

I am still waiting for him to try a gluten-free starter. Maybe this year……..

Like most people, we are mindful of our power usage, and therefore, the oven is generally used for multiple items when it is turned on. Yesterday was a good example. I also made a loaf of gluten-free banana bread and a batch of gluten-free cheese scones. These are enjoyed by both of us. The scones are the perfect accompaniment to home-made vegetable soup and the recipe is here. I will add the recipe for the banana bread later as yesterday was the first time I had made it.

The last thing I put in the oven was a tray of eggplant slices. These were from our garden and I brush them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt before gently roasting them until soft. They were for the pizza I made for dinner last night. I do not use the oven when making pizza as I have a benchtop pizza maker.

A day in the kitchen was not only about baking but also other food prep (pineapples, bananas and tomatoes) but I will save those stories for another post.

Happy Anniversary

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I received a notification yesterday from WordPress that advised me that I have been writing this blog for 11 years. Although I sometimes wonder what to write about I intend to keep going for the foreseeable future. Thank you for reading along.

Meanwhile, the day went on with regular jobs. I did 4 loads of washing, ironed and folded everything, stripped and remade the bed, swept all of the floors and made another batch of spreadable butter. When I cooked the rice for dinner I did extra and have 2 more batches in the freezer.

Tomorrow is another day…………………..

Salvaged From the Snakepit

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Fear not, there are no snakes in this post. The snakepit refers to an undeveloped area surrounded by rocks in our backyard. It was flooded recently along with the whole lower portion of the garden.

This is a rather sad looking specimen of a chilli bush which had came up self-sown in this area. Despite being drowned by a couple of feet of muddy water, the bush appears to have survived and even had plenty of ripe chillies. Today I picked a substantial quantity.

My goal was to make some more of my ‘Tabasco-style’ sauce but it needs 150g of chillies – that is a lot of birdseye chillies. So, I supplemented my haul with more from a couple of other bushes that are in the fenced vegetable garden area.

I ended up with 128g of chillies so reduced the other ingredients slightly to match the reduced quantity of chillies. The recipe is here. Scroll towards the end of the link for the recipe.

The end result was 350ml of my version of Tabasco sauce. The equivalent cost of buying this in the supermarket is about $24. My cost was about 25c and a small amount of time.

Stockpot Workout

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I have a large stainless steel stockpot that lives in the back corner of the pantry on the floor. It usually gets dragged out a few times a year.

Yesterday was one of those days as I decided to make a large batch of pumpkin and celery soup. This may sound like an odd combination but I find the sharpness of homegrown celery that has been growing for several months provides a nice balance to the sweetness of our pumpkins.

I ended up with 18 serves of soup – 2 for dinner and the rest to go in the freezer.

Today I continued with my bulk food preparation by making jam with the 3kg of Davidson plums which I had picked over the past few weeks and stored in the freezer. I ended up with 3.95kg of jam. Davidson plums are a relatively rare Australian native fruit which grows on a rainforest tree in a fairly narrow distribution in northern NSW and south-east Queensland. Therefore, the jam commands a premium price. I compared 3 different brands online and found that the average price per kilo is about $81 which makes my haul worth over $320!!

I also boiled up the seeds and then strained them to make cordial. A splash in a glass of soda water makes a refreshing drink.

Finally, I raided the freezer again for some cherry tomatoes and made a batch of tomato sauce (ketchup). While nowhere near as valuable as the jam, the sauce is a whole other level beyond the commercially produced tomato sauce. The recipe is here.

While the oven was on to sterilise the jars I decided that I might as well make a batch of cheese scones. Recipe is here.

I think it is time to put the stockpot away for a couple more months.

A Bouquet of Basil

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GMan was weeding the vegie garden today and discovered that the basil had grown too large and had collapsed under its own weight.

So, I was the lucky recipient of a large bunch of basil.

I removed all of the leaves, washed and spun them dry. Then it was time to make basil pesto.

I did not use pine nuts but instead I used a combination of almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas. There is no recipe as such but I used garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. In addition to the standard ingredients I also added some nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of lemon juice.

This was the yield. It is not the most exciting photo so I added the jar of home-grown flowers which I was gifted yesterday.

There is no photo but we had pesto with our homemade gnocchi, tomato sauce and olives. YUM!