Home Remedy

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Despite being surrounded by people coughing and spluttering their way through the winter months, I had remained steadfastly well until a couple of days ago.

My throat seemed a bit dry initially and by yesterday afternoon it felt quite raspy and I was developing a dry cough.  I had a glass of hot lemon juice and honey before I went to bed but I still managed to wake up this morning with almost no voice.  Some would be cheering at this turn of events!

Other than the dry cough, I feel perfectly well and hope that this continues.  However, I really felt in need of something to soothe my throat and found this recipe.  It is essentially honey and lemon toffee by any other name but it certainly keeps the dry cough at bay.

Here are the cough drops cooling on a baking sheet.

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Once they were completely set I tossed them in a mixture of arrowroot and icing sugar (4 parts arrowroot to 1 part of icing sugar).

Then I stored them in an airtight jar.

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These will live in my desk drawer until I get rid of the annoying cough.  Hopefully, it will not develop into anything worse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Some Statistics & An Upgrade

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It is hard to believe that I have been writing this blog for over 7 years now.  A couple of years after I began I had a hiccup and lost all of the photos.  I had be able to reinstate most of them but a few seemed to have been lost forever.

One post that was affected in this way was my Worcestershire sauce recipe.  This morning I started a new batch so decided to take the time to photograph the steps and I have updated the page for you – Worcestershire sauce.  If you have never tried it, I can highly recommend this homemade version.

As an added incentive, it is budget-friendly.  I used home-grown lemons and homemade chilli powder but spent up big on local organic garlic @ $50/kg.  The final cost was 99c/250ml.  This compares very favourably with the cheapest home-brand version for $2 for the same quantity, Holbrooks brand for $3.60 and I have it on good authority that artisan/gourmet offerings are in the vicinity of $8 – $12 for 250ml.

Apart from over 7 years of blogging, the other statistic I wanted to mention today is that this little blog has 597 followers.  That is not a huge number in the scheme of things but I am pleased that you have found me and hope that you will discover something of interest.  Since many of you have joined in more recently, there are probably many posts that you have yet to discover.  So, in the interests of sharing some of the wealth of information lurking in the depths, I will be sharing an older post each week for Throwback Thursday.

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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.

Daily Bread

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Bread has long been a staple of our Western diet.  It comes in many and varied guises from the square white slices bagged in plastic bought from the supermarket to artisan sourdough loaves from trendy cafes and delis.

Then there is the seemingly elusive quest for a decent gluten free loaf.

Add the desire to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging and buying a loaf of bread really becomes a minefield.

For over 20 years GMan has made our bread.  This was before I began eating a gluten-free diet and we had 2 children at home.  He made white bread, grain bread and fruit loaf in a breadmaker using bread mixes from Laucke Flour Mills.  We made sandwiches, toast and toasted sandwiches – all with minimal packaging from the bread mix bags.

Things have changed and GMan now makes white bread from scratch in the breadmaker as well as fruit loaf using a premix with added fruit.  Here is a loaf he made tonight.

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The white loaf is the same shape but generally not as high.

However, his real love is sourdough bread which has led GMan on a quest to create a perfect sourdough loaf.  For those who have asked for the recipe, all I can offer is this link which he found and has followed (in general terms).  It appears to be an art and one in which I have not got involved.  After months of varying degrees of success this was the result from a couple of weeks ago.  Gman believes that it is definitely worth the effort.

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I eat very little bread these days as most gluten-free breads are not that great, expensive and heavily packaged in plastic.

Credit to inspired + delicious Facebook page for this bread recipe.

1 cup buckwheat groats
2 cups hot water (almost boiling)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the buckwheat in hot water with apple cider vinegar overnight.

Next day, place buckwheat plus liquid in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and blend well.  Place mixture in a greased, lined loaf tin and allow to stand for 15 – 30minutes to allow psyllium to soak in properly.  Bake at 200C until browned and it bounces back when you poke it.  This is approximately 30 – 40 minutes.

This is the basic recipe but you can add whatever else you choose.

My first loaf had a handful each of sunflower seeds and pepitas added to the basic mixture.

Here are a couple of slices toasted.  While it is perfectly edible as bread it is really delicious as toast.

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One of the things I do miss about bread is having grilled cheese on toast.  This is not an everyday food but an occasional treat.  I really enjoyed this for lunch the other day.

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Since I regarded my first attempt as a success, I decided to expand my repertoire and modify it to make a spicy fruit loaf.  I added 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, some sultanas and dried cranberries and omitted the pepitas.

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I am now happily dreaming of other flavour options.  I think the next attempt may be a savoury one – sun-dried tomato and olive.

While I am not going to be eating bread for every meal, it is great to have a plastic-free, unpackaged, gluten-free bread that is quick and easy to make.

Unpackaged bread has been my major success for Plastic-Free July this year.

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A Sweet Treat

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Here is a simple and delicious idea for those occasions when you need to produce a shared plate of sweets.

3 ingredients – a packet of gingernut biscuits, whipping cream and strawberries.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C.  Place the biscuits on a baking tray in the oven for 5 – 8 minutes.  This will soften the biscuits slightly.  Place the biscuit between 2 soup spoons and press together.

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This will create a slightly bowl-shaped biscuit case once it is cooled.

You will need to work fairly quickly so that all of the biscuits remain softened until you press them into shape.  To do this I leave the tray in the oven with the door open and take them out one at a time.

Once the biscuit cases are prepared , they can be stored in an airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Whip the cream and place a dollop into each biscuit case and top with a wedge of fresh strawberry.

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These are best assembled just before serving but the cream can be whipped beforehand along with cutting up the strawberries.

GMan is took these to work yesterday for a special morning tea.  The biscuit cases in an airtight container, the whipped cream in a jar and the pre-cut strawberries in another container.  They only took a few minutes to assemble and were voted a clear winner.

If strawberries are not in season you can use any fruit – a sliver of mango or kiwifruit are good, too.  However, my favourite is a piece of crystallised ginger on top.

Option: use gluten-free gingernut biscuits to make this gluten-free.

A Perfect Pizza

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For the past couple of years I have been making gluten-free pizza bases and tonight I want to share the recipe with you.

I have previously posted about making pizzas here but did not published the recipe as it included a specific blend of flour which was only available in the recipe book.  However, the ‘recipe’ for the flour blend is now available on the internet and you can look it up here.

The recipe below is the quantities I use.  It is actually double the original recipe and I find it makes 6 bases.

Pizza Bases

Ingredients

600g MGF flour blend
16g psyllium
2 teaspoons raw sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons dried yeast
40ml olive oil
520ml warm water

Method

  1.  Turn the oven on to 100 degrees C and set a timer for 5 minutes.  Turn the oven off after 5 minutes.
  2.  Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add warm water and oil.  Mix well.  (I use the Kitchen Aid mixer on a low speed).
  3.  The mixture will seem quite runny at first but will soon firm up as the psyllium absorbs the moisture.
  4. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in the warm oven to rise for 45 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and divide into 6 equal pieces.

The original recipe suggests rolling the dough out on a greased tray, allow to rise for 20 minutes then add toppings and bake for 15 minutes at 220 degrees C.

My version is a little different.  I roll the dough out on baking paper, bake on a tray for 8 minutes at 180 degrees C.  When cooled I freeze the pre-cooked bases ready for future use.

This is the pizza maker that I use which has a pizza stone set into it.

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Here is a sample of the end result.  We ate it tonight.

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NOTE:  I reuse the baking paper and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer between uses.