A Month Later

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It is just over a month since my last blog post on 19th March.  The following 2 weeks were somewhat frenetic with work and also getting ready to head off on holidays to Mauritius on 1st April.  If you missed that bit of detail you can catch up with the travel news and photos on my other blog, Somewhere, Anywhere.

We arrived home yesterday morning after a 36 hour stopover in Singapore.  It was also my birthday.  Unlike my milestone birthday last year, this year was fairly low-key.  We had dinner with my sister, brother-in-law, brother and mother last night. It was lovely to catch up with them and to have someone else make dinner for me.

The weather has cooled down somewhat in the few weeks we have been away.  However, heavy showers of rain are making it a challenge to do the inevitable pile of washing that we brought home.

Cooler weather also meant that I can consider meals other than the inevitable salads.  Today we did some shopping to restock some necessities – fruit and vegetables as well as milk, cheese and Vegemite.  I spent $30 at the greengrocer, including a cauliflower for $4.  This is the upper limit of what I will pay for a cauliflower but it is still good value.  With the addition of stock powder, an onion, salt, pepper and smoky paprika I made a pot of hearty cauliflower soup.  That $4 cauliflower made 4 generous dinner serves plus 4 smaller serves suitable for lunches.  8 meals for about $4.50 seems like pretty good value to me!

Cauliflower Soup

1 full cauliflower (medium)
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons stock powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika

Lightly fry the onion in a large saucepan/stockpot.  Remove the outside leaves and separate the florets from the stalk.  Finely slice the leaves and stalk and add to the pot.  Continue to fry for about 5 minutes.  Add the roughly chopped cauliflower florets, seasonings and enough water to just cover the vegetables.  Cover and simmer for at least an hour and add extra water if required.  Blend until smooth and serve.

Tonight we had a big bowl of soup and some buckwheat pancakes on the side.

The remaining soup has been portioned up and is ready to go in the freezer.

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And the rain is pouring down – again!!

Food – The Eternal Merry-Go-Round

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Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy cooking and love planning and preparing meals but it occurred to me this morning how it really is a never-ending cycle.

The citrus trees are producing prolifically at this time of the year so yesterday I juiced grapefruit, oranges and limes as well as preparing some grapefruit ready for marmalade.

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Today I am making marmalade using this recipe from Annabel Langbein.

I am very happy with the result.  Lovely colour and consistency.  This is the excess that did not quite fit in the jar.

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The finished product ready to go in the pantry.  It should be enough for the whole year.

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The other job is to make some more gluten free pizza bases for the freezer.  The recipe I use makes 6 bases.

On the other side of the ledger, I dived into the freezer and retrieved some vegetable curry for lunch.  There are also portions of cooked rice frozen so lunch is ready to go.  Dinner will be equally as easy with cauliflower soup and cheese scones all from the freezer.

As an aside, all of this was prepared with zero waste and no single use plastics.

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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.

Cooking From the Cupboard

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My last port focused on using fresh, seasonal produce – mangoes in my case at the moment.

Tonight I am sharing what I cooked today.  Using mostly ingredients that I have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator and freezer I had a big cook-up and made the following:

Bolognaise sauce
Choc fruit and nut balls
**Pizza bases (gluten free)
**Refried beans
Chilli con carne
**Muesli (gluten free)
**Mexican quinoa

We had Mexican quinoa for dinner and have enough for our lunches on Monday.  The bolognaise sauce and zucchini noodles will be for dinner tomorrow and there are 4 serves (2 meals x 2 people) in the freezer.  6 pizza bases are are par-cooked and frozen.  8 serves of chilli con carne are in the freezer.  3 dozen choc fruit and nut balls in the freezer and ready to be added to lunchboxes.  The muesli container is refilled and will last mea couple of months.

The items marked with ** have already been covered in previous blog posts and the links can be found by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog “Recipes – Food”.

Here is the recipe for the bolognaise sauce.

BOLOGNAISE SAUCE

250g mince
1 cup dried red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Frozen cherry tomatoes + dried tomato powder
1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
2 teaspoons vegie stock powder
1/3 cup red wine

Pour boiling water over lentils – allow to stand for at least 2hours. Saute onion and garlic, add mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes.

You could use canned tomatoes plus tomato paste. Mine are from the garden.

I use a large soup ladle to portion up the mixture.

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The chilli con carne is the same basic mixture but I omit the mixed herbs and add the following.

2 cups kidney beans (I soak and cook my own but you could use canned ones)
1 cup refried beans
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
Tabasco sauce to taste

I will add the recipe for the Choc fruit and nut balls in the next day or so.

 

 

Tomato Day

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It was nothing like ‘Tomato Day’ as described in the novel, “Looking for Alibrandi” but The Duke and I had our own mini version when we cut up 5.5kg of tomatoes yesterday.

A couple of weeks ago I asked at the local fruit stall if they had any cooking/sauce tomatoes as I wanted to make tomato sauce.  After some discussion it was agreed that they would try to get some from the market if there were any available and let me know.  I had not heard anything so I asked again when we went yesterday to buy our weekly supply of fruit and vegetables.  B then presented me with a box of assorted over-ripe tomatoes which had been sorted from the regular ones rather than specifically purchased.  These were then given to me as they would otherwise have been thrown out.

Back at home, we only had to discard 3 or 4 that were completely rotten and the rest were chopped up and placed in bags in the freezer.  I simply do not have the time to make sauce this week in the lead-up to Christmas and holidays so they can stay in the freezer until I have time to make the sauce.

This is an example of the benefits of eating seasonal produce and also supporting and getting to know your small, local retailer.  I could not imagine this scenario happening at my local Coles or Woolworths supermarket.

A Lesson From The Past

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Some people in various parts of the world are living in economies that are officially described as being in a recession but wherever we live, these are definitely uncertain times.  At the same time there is research showing that many 1st world nations waste up to 20% of all food purchased.  That is the equivalent of bringing home 5 bags of groceries and throwing one bag of groceries straight into the bin.

Perhaps it is time to look back to earlier generations and their ‘waste not, want not’ mentality.  Everything was used, re-used and re-fashioned until not a single thing was left.  This applied in equal measure to food, clothing, furniture and so on.

Today I want to show you how we can easily make better use of the abundant food that we have.

This morning I juiced a large carrot, 2 apples and about 1/3 of a pineapple.  I drank the juice for breakfast and saved the pulp.

Next was a 600 ml container of cream.  This was bought in January and not required for a luncheon we were hosting so it was put in the freezer.  Last weekend I thawed it to have some cream on dessert.  Only a small amount was used so today I put it in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and made butter.  I followed the description from here.  I was very pleased with the result.

2012-05-19 01I used 100g of the butter when I made pastry and this is what was left.  From about 500ml of cream I made 220g of butter and had 250ml of buttermilk.

I used the buttermilk tonight when I made a bacon and mushroom quiche for dinner.  I mixed a couple of tablespoons of milk powder into the buttermilk to make a thicker liquid for the quiche.

2012-05-19 02While the oven was on I also made a batch of muffins using the leftover fruit pulp from my juice.

2012-05-19 03I made beef curry in the slowcooker from a recipe in one of the Sally Wise cookbooks.  This is now divided into portions and frozen along with several serves of bolognaise sauce and a dish of lasagne.

2012-05-19 04Making these meals is a reminder of how we can use our own condiments.  The curry called for tomato sauce, worcestershire sauce, chutney and curry powder as some of the ingredients.  I had home-made versions of all of these to use.  Some of the pasta sauce I made during the summer when tomatoes were very cheap and plentiful went into the bolognaise sauce.  The lasagne sheets were ones I had made some weeks ago and frozen.  It is great to have so many of the ingredients for meals at your fingertips and know that they have been created in your own kitchen and you know exactly what went into them.

The Duke has made our bread from bought pre-mixes for a number of years and now he is experimenting with making it from scratch.  He has the white loaf pretty well perfect but has working on getting the wholemeal loaf the way he wants it.  Here is the result of his effort today and naturally he is very pleased.

2012-05-19 05Tomorrow I plan to make lemon butter which will use our own eggs and lemons as well as some of the butter I made today.

How do you make the most of the food you have?

Pizza Bases

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Since I was at home today I took advantage of the extra time and made tortillas to use as pizza bases.  I found the recipe on Simple Savings and it is very simple.

2.5 cups of flour (I used 1/2  white and 1/2 wholemeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 cup warm water (I used slightly more – probably due to the wholemeal flour)

2012-05-03 01Mix ingredients in food processer until combined.  Knead dough for 5 minutes then leave to rest for 15 minutes.  Divide into about 10 pieces and roll out thinly.  Cook in a hot pan and set aside when cooked.  Keep covered with a damp teatowel.

2012-05-03 02Here they are ready to use for pizza bases.

2012-05-03 03I was happy with the result and the pizzas were a success.  Unfortunately we were too busy preparing and eating the pizzas to stop and take photos.  Maybe another day I will remember.  We used 2 tortillas and the rest are in the freezer for another time.