Sweet Chilli Sauce

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As promised, here is the recipe for the sweet chilli sauce.

A couple of weeks ago my sister gave me these chillies.  They are milder than our birdseye chillies and she assured me that they are just perfect for making sweet chilli sauce.

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As always, I consulted Google for a recipe and found this one.  It is from the Australian Women’s Weekly and it was refreshing to find an Australian recipe that I did not have to interpret or substitute either ingredients or measurements.

I had enough ingredients for a half quantity so this is what I used.

Sweet Chilli Sauce

125 gram fresh long red chillies
375ml white vinegar
250ml water
1 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Remove green stems from chillies, chop chillies coarsely with their seeds. Process chilli until finely chopped.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and salt in large saucepan. Stir over low heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Add chilli, boil, uncovered, 20 minutes.
Add garlic; boil, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until mixture is reduced to 3 cups (375ml). The sauce will thicken on cooling. Stand sauce 10 minutes.
Pour hot sauce into hot sterilised bottles, seal immediately. Cool, refrigerate.
NOTE:
I probably boiled mine a bit too long.  I think the cooking times need to be reduced for the reduced quantity.  It looked and tasted wonderful when I poured it into the bottle but the seeds and skin were too hard and chewy.
I left it for about a week while I considered my options.
Yesterday I removed it from the bottle and added about another 125ml of water.  This all went into my high-speed blender which effectively blitzed the skin and seeds.  I then simmered it for about 5 minutes before re-bottling it.
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We had Zucchini and Corn Fritters last night and the sweet chilli sauce was the perfect accompaniment.  It is rather more opaque and smooth than the commercial varieties but the taste is second to none.
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Simply Delicious

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Tonight I made zucchini and corn fritters for our dinner.  I checked out several recipes via Google and this is what I came up with.

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

350g potato (cooked and mashed)
1 and 1/2 zucchini (grated)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1/3 cup chickpea (besan) flour
1 clove garlic (crushed)
Fresh rosemary and coriander (finely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Black pepper and herb salt

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Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Add spoonfuls to a hot frying pan with a little oil (I used coconut oil).  Cook on both sides until browned.  Remove to a warmed plate to serve.

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The quantity made 8 fritters.  We had 3 each for dinner served with beans from the garden and some homemade sweet chilli sauce.

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I will post the recipe for the sweet chilli sauce tomorrow.

Gifts From the Garden

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When you have a productive garden, there is frequently more available than you can reasonably use.  So, we are often giving away produce to family and friends.

It is not all a one-way street and we are grateful for goodies which are gifted to us in return.

My sister and brother-in-law recently gave us a large pumpkin and some chillies.  The pumpkin was put to good use and you can read about it in this earlier post.  I used the chillies to make a bottle of sweet chilli sauce.

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A few days ago we visited my brother at his newly-purchased inner suburban unit.  I hardly expected that we would come away with fresh produce when he had been there for barely 3 weeks.  However, I was surprised to find myself returning home with a container of macadamia nuts which we had collected from the back lawn of the unit block.  This bounty is falling from a tree overhanging from a neighbouring garden.

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Also, some friends gave us a quantity of rosemary.  We have planted some cuttings so that we can add this to our own garden and I stripped the leaves off the remainder and dried it in the dehydrator.  Once it was dried, I ground it and then mixed the ground rosemary with Himalayan salt and I now have a jar of rosemary salt which will be be perfect for seasoning.  I am looking forward to trying it on some oven-baked potato chips.

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I was watching Gardening Australia last night and saw a segment about making your own Lemon and Rosemary Hand Scrub.  I am going to get some more rosemary from my friend and try that one out.  The recipe and details will be a future blog post.

 

 

Cooking Day

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Today I cooked.  I was inspired by the large pumpkin I was given yesterday as well as the chickpeas I had cooked yesterday.

The first job was to pack up the baked beans I had cooked overnight in the slow-cooker.  I had some for breakfast as well as these 3 jars to go in the freezer and half a jar which are in the refrigerator to be used in the next few days.

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I then cut up the pumpkin.  The 2 trays of sliced pumpkin have been basted with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic syrup.  These will be used on pizzas. Some of the larger pieces will be cut up and added to the chickpea and vegetable curry while the remainder will be become pumpkin soup.  I pre-roast the pumpkin as it is easier than peeling it and I find that it also enhances the flavour.

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Meanwhile I moved onto the curry.  As well as the chickpeas and pumpkin this also had stalks of choy sum and half an eggplant diced.  I ended up with a total of 8 serves (4 meals for GMan and me).

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I had other plans for the choy sum leaves and the other half of the eggplant.  Using this recipe for Eggplant Lasagne Rolls as inspiration, I made a dish of lasagne using the finely shredded choy sum leaves mixed with half a tub of ricotta that I had in the refrigerator layered with the sliced eggplant and a rich, herbed tomato sauce.  This is ready to be baked for dinner tomorrow night.  I will add a mixture of flaxseed meal and parmesan cheese to the top when it is almost cooked.

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One pizza was for our lunch today which we enjoyed.  The other one is ready for the cheese to be added, cooked and eaten another day.

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All of these dishes were made using a combination of ingredients I had on hand in the pantry and refrigerator with produce I had been gifted and what was growing in the garden.  One of the most important aspects is to ensure that nothing goes to waste.

Finally, I made some more spreadable butter blend.

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Although the title of this blog post is ‘Cooking Day’, it occurred to me when you have access to fresh produce from the garden (either your own or kind friends) there is always something to do.

More about my other food adventures another day.

Loaded for Lunch

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I am not sure when the term ‘loaded’ became part of menus but it is difficult to go to a cafe or eatery now without seeing loaded fries, loaded nachos or even loaded baked potatoes on the menu.  As far as I can ascertain, it simply refers to the addition of a variety of toppings and sauces, often with high cholesterol and calorific value.

Last night I made Mexican Quinoa for dinner.  In an effort to reduce our consumption of processed meats, I no longer add salami to this dish.  When I was packing up the inevitable leftovers I noted that it was not quite enough for 2 more main meals.

Today we decided to have our main meal at lunchtime as we are going out at about 5pm.  GMan suggested that perhaps we could have some corn chips with last night’s leftovers to bulk it out a bit.

So, I present to you – Quinoa Loaded Nachos.

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Layers of corn chips spread with leftover quinoa, halved cherry tomatoes and cheddar cheese.  Baked in a moderate oven for 15 minutes.

A quick, easy and nutritious meal.

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.