What We Grow

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One of the by-products of growing your own food is a need for increased creativity when it comes to meals.  What we eat is at least somewhat dependent on what is available in the garden.

Bok choy, a type of chinese cabbage, is a quick-growing vegetable.  Commercial crops are harvested while they are relatively young and generally sold in bunches of three.  We ate some of our current crop while they were small, however, the few remaining plants are now quite mature and strongly flavoured.

New ways to use up the mature bok choy leaves and stems.

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Freshly picked leaves shredded and sauteed with cherry tomatoes, snow peas and mushrooms for breakfast.

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Tonight I made a vegetarian lasagne with layers of lightly roasted eggplant slices, bok choy mixed with ricotta and finally, crushed tomatoes.

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It was topped with a mixture of parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and flaxseed meal.

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Served with beans and carrots.

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VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

1 large eggplant, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
Handful of large bok choy leaves and stems, sliced and shredded
180g ricotta cheese
Can of crushed tomatoes
Olive oil
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
Salt and pepper

TOPPING

1 tablespoon grated parmesan
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Place slices of eggplant on roasting tray.  Brush with a little olive oil and bake at 160C for about 10 minutes – until soft.

Saute diced onion and bok choy stems until soft, add shredded leaves and stir until wilted.  Add vegetable mixture to ricotta and combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add mixed herbs to crushed tomatoes.  Place a layer of eggplant slices in dish followed by the ricotta mixture then tomatoes.  Repeat until all ingredients are used.  Combine ingredients for topping and sprinkle over the lasagne.  Bake until heated through and browned on top.

This is not a definitive recipe but simply what I made today.  The quantities quoted would serve 3 adults.

The Pandemic Pantry – Recipes Part 1

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Last night we had a meal which I regard as a great standby as it is created entirely from what what we generally have on hand – pandemic or not.

TUNA MORNAY

The ingredients assembled.

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There are no real quantities as such but the amount I made will serve 4-5 adults.

Make up milk using milk powder.  Fresh milk is fine but if you are trying to make do, reconstituted powdered milk works well in cooking.  I used about 650ml for this recipe.

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add enough flour to make a fairly dry roux.  I use gluten free flour but regular wheat flour is perfect if you do not have any allergies or intolerances.

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Gradually add the milk and stir until smooth and thickened.  When using gluten free flour I use a stick blender to aid in the process.

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Add the juice of half a lemon, seasoning and a handful of grated cheese.  You can add about half a teaspoon of prepared mustard if you have it.

Add a large can of tuna (drained and flaked) and 3/4 cup frozen peas and 3/4 cup corn kernels.  I used frozen, homegrown corn but canned corn works equally as well.

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Here is some brown rice which I had cooked last week and frozen so it was simply reheated.  I do this in a glass dish in the microwave and add about 1/2 cup of water.

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Dinner is served.  This dish does not get points for visual appeal but it will feed empty tummies.

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Something which we should consider at any time but it is particularly important when popping to the shops is not really an option – food waste.  Therefore, at times like this we should be making a real effort to use everything we are fortunate enough to have.

This is the principle behind the meal I have planned for tonight.  It does not have a name but for the purpose of indexing it, I will call it:

EGGPLANT NOODLES WITH PESTO

1 large eggplant – julienned using V-slicer
Curly kale – finely shredded
1 tub of basil pesto dip
1/3 tub ricotta

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I chose and prepared all of the ingredients this morning.  The pesto had been purchased for another purpose and not used and the ricotta left over from the Eggplant Lasagne Rolls that I made a couple of days ago.  I will do a separate post about that recipe.

The method I will use is:

Lightly saute eggplant and set aside a keep warm.  Saute kale until wilted then add ricotta and pesto.  Stir through eggplant noodles and serve.

I think this sounds good and hope it lives up to expectation.

 

 

 

The Pandemic Pantry

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…………and refrigerator and freezer.

There are several reasons why we may need to be able to create meals from what we have on hand rather than rushing off to the shops for a particular ingredient. During the current pandemic there is a chance that any of us may be quarantined or supply lines disrupted.

Therefore, it is beneficial to maintain a selection of shelf-stable goods that can form the basis of basic meals.  A refrigerator allows us to keep perishable foods but during times like this it may not be possible to restock perishable items on a regular basis.  Finally, a freezer can be useful for storage of a variety of foods, including processing gluts of fruit and vegetables.  These may be sourced from your own garden or when you have taken advantage of seasonal bargains.

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Tonight we had a large shared serving of nachos.  Corn chips and canned tomatoes from the pantry teamed with a jar of refried beans from the freezer and some grated cheddar cheese and we had a filling meal.  I make the refried beans from dried kidney beans.  The recipe is here.  They are really versatile and can be used in a number of ways.

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We do not usually have dessert every night so this was a bit of a treat.  We currently have an abundance of eggs from our chickens as well as a steady supply of lemons and the oven would be turned on for the nachos…………..so, I made a Lemon Delicious pudding.  It is a relatively simple combination of butter, sugar, flour and milk along with the eggs and lemon.  Recipe is here

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What is in your pantry?

 

 

 

 

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.

Meals with Mango

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I like to make the most of seasonal produce.  Using what is in season means reduced costs as well as minimal transporting and often there is less packaging.

It is even better when it is grown in your garden or immediate locality.  Thanks to the generosity of some neighbours, I currently have access to an abundance of mangoes.

We have been eating them fresh but there are many ways to incorporate them into meals, too.  Here are a couple.

The other night I made mango sorbet.

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Here is the link to the recipe.  I have also added it below with some slight variations to the instructions to suit myself.

Ingredients

3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
4 medium mangoes, flesh removed, peeled
1 egg white

Method

Stir the sugar and 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water in a small saucepan over a low heat until dissolved. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Place mango flesh in a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl and add the cooled syrup. Cover and freeze, stirring with a fork occasionally, for 2 hours.

Use an electric beater to beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Fold into the mango mixture. Freeze for 3 hours, until just frozen. Place in a food processor and process until smooth. Return to the pan and freeze for another 3 hours or until firm.

Tonight I made mango salsa.  The ingredients are what I happened to have on hand.  You can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Ingredients

1 large mango, finely chopped
2 birdseye chillies, finely chopped
1/2 can corn kernels, drained
Juice of 1 lime

Method

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.

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I served the salsa with grilled chicken and brown rice.  The salsa was an interesting combination of sweet and hot which we like.  This may well be too hot for your liking so you could try finely chopped capsicum (bell peppers) instead or just a pinch of chilli powder.
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Dinner – Tuna Mornay

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Here is another dinner recipe and as a bonus, my version is gluten free.

I don’t remember tuna mornay being a meal we ate when I was a child but GMan certainly ate it when he was growing up.  So, I learned how to make it.  About 4 years ago I changed to a gluten free diet so tuna mornay was off the recipe plan.

After various experiments, I have managed to make a very satisfactory white sauce, therefore I can make tuna mornay as well as bechamel sauce for lasagne and cauliflower in cheese sauce.

Now, on to the recipe.

TUNA MORNAY

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
2 heaped tablespoons chickpea flour
2 heaped tablespoons potato flour
2 cups milk
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon herb salt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 large tin tuna
1/2 tin corn kernels
3/4 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese

Here are my ingredients assembled and ready to begin.

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Method

Melt the butter over a low heat, add flour and stir until it combines to a stiff paste.

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Cook for about 1 minute, making sure it does not burn.  Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly.

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The gluten free flours will not combine and thicken as nicely as regular wheat flour so my secret weapon is my hand-held stick blender.

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I use this to combine the milk and flour mixture and it quickly thickens as required.  Add seasonings and mustard to taste and then the drained tuna, drain corn kernels and peas.

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Break up any large pieces of tuna and stir the tuna and vegetables through the sauce.  Cook gently for a few minutes and finally add the grated cheese and stir through.  The mornay is ready to serve with rice and/or vegetables.

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There are many ways you can adapt this recipe.

I use powdered skim milk for cooking and make up 2 cups of milk before starting the cooking.

If you do not need it to be gluten free, simply use regular plain flour.

I choose to use a mixture of chickpea and potato flours as I find it gives the best result.  The potato flour can be a bit like glue and the chickpea flour has a nice savoury flavour which offsets this.

You can also use this mixture as the base of a pie and top it with mashed potato – like a shepherd’s pie.  Use as a filling for crepes or burritos for another variation.  You may wish to use a bit less milk in order to create a stiffer mixture for these options.

Tinned salmon, leftover shredded chicken or a selection of vegetables could also be used.

I generally prefer to have more vegetables in my meal but this will not hurt you every now and then.  It is a great last minute option as all of the ingredients come from the pantry and refrigerator.

Food as Fuel

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Sometimes I think food is over-rated.  Thanks to shows like Masterchef and others in the same vein, we have been conned into thinking that every meal needs to be a creation and cooking is a competition.

Cooking for your family is actually providing fuel for their bodies to perform the necessary tasks – nothing more, nothing less.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than creating a special meal for family and friends.  However, we need to look past the hype of cooking shows and concentrate on what is important – nutritious food to re-fuel.

Tonight I want to show you what I am making for dinner.  It is not overly fancy but I know we will enjoy a wholesome meal made with basic ingredients.

Beef Casserole with Sweet Potato Mash, Broccoli and Balsamic-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

I made the casserole a couple of weeks ago in the slow-cooker and divided it into 2 containers.  One container is 2 serves.  This has been defrosting since I took it out of the freezer this morning.  The sweet potato is already cooked and mashed from Sunday evening when I made a double quantity.

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I will serve this with steamed broccoli and the cherry tomatoes.

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I made the casserole using gravy beef (3 pieces), 1 onion (diced), 400g frozen cherry tomatoes (you can use a can of crushed tomatoes) and 1/4 cup homemade Worcestershire sauce.  Place all ingredients in the slow cooker on High for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender and breaks apart easily with a fork.  Add 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour or arrowroot blended in 1/4 cup of water to thicken the mixture.  This can been done in the last hour of cooking or transfer the casserole to a saucepan and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  If you are going to freeze the casserole you may prefer to thicken it when you are ready to use it.

The sweet potato is mashed with some butter and a sprinkle of nutmeg for extra flavour.

To roast the cherry tomatoes place about 2 teaspoons of oil and an equal amount of balsamic syrup in a small pan with the tomatoes and place in an oven at 180C for 10 minutes.  If you do not have the oven on, you can do it equally as well under the griller for about 5 – 8 minutes on ‘High’.

The sweet potato and cherry tomatoes are both from our garden.

Here is the meal served and ready to eat.

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What is on your dinner plate tonight?

Dinner – Mexican Quinoa

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The blog post tonight was not going to be another meal but I was not sufficiently organised to take the appropriate photos, so here we are with tonight’s dinner.

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Another night and another one pan meal – One Pan Mexican Quinoa and here is the link to the original recipe which I found on Facebook.

As always, mine has been adapted slightly so this is my version.

1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 birdseye chilli, chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 can corn kernels
1 cup black beans (soaked and pre-cooked) – measured after cooking
4 slices hot salami, diced
15 olives, pitted and chopped
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
300g cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon powdered tomatoes

Lightly fry the onion, chilli and spices.  Add all other ingredients except salami and olives.  Simmer gently until the quinoa is cooked.  Add more water as required.  Stir in salami and olives.  Serve topped with a little grated cheese.

 

 

Dinner – Fried Rice

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Last Sunday I posted the menu for the week here.  Tonight was Spicy Mexican Quinoa, however, this evening I realised that I had forgotten to soak and cook the black beans.  There was no meat thawed, no pre-made pizza bases and not even any refried beans for nachos.  I remembered that I had some cooked rice in the refrigerator so I decided on fried rice.  I have never used a recipe as such for this and it is based on how my mother made it.

This is what I used (quantities made 2 generous serves):

1/2 onion, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
1/4 capsicum, diced
1 egg
1/2 can corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen peas
2-3 cups of cooked rice
Tamari

Saute the onion, bacon and capsicum, push to one side of the pan.  Fry the egg, flip and cook both sides then cut into strips.  Add corn and peas and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the rice, stir to combine all ingredients and heat through.  Add a splash of tamari or soy sauce.

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The photo is before I added the tamari.  There is nothing terribly fancy about this but it is a quick and easy standby meal.

Dinner – Tumeric Chicken

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This was on the menu plan for last week but got bumped as I did not have time to marinate the chicken.

The original recipe is for chicken skewers cooked on a barbecue.  Here is the recipe.

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As with most recipes, I have adapted this to suit our own requirements.  Since I am cooking 1 chicken breast fillet to serve 2 of us this is what I do.

I make up a bulk amount of the spice mixture (dry ingredients) using the proportions in the original recipe.  I use considerably more of this mixture than the recipe as I found it very light on flavour if you use the quantity stated for 2.5kg of chicken.

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In my version there are 4 ingredients.

20ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 chicken breast fillet (diced)
1 and 1/2  tablespoons of pre-made spice mix

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

You can use lemon juice but lime is better.

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Fry in a pan with a little oil until cooked.

I serve mine with brown rice, vegetables and fresh cherry tomatoes.

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