Saturday, August 6, 2011
A few weeks ago, I pulled out my 'Women's Weekly Italian Cooking Class Cookbook' to find my Osso Buco recipe. This book came from my late, great Aunty Teresa, a Sicilian who thought that this book was mostly ok for Italian recipes.
Out of the pages floated two small sheets of paper. In the weeks after her death, I had torn the house apart to find these pieces of paper, and I'm sure that I looked carefully through this book to find them, to no avail. But here they were now. They have the recipes for a potato pancake, arancini and Aunty T biscuits scribbled on them.
When she died, I asked my son what he would most miss about her.
He said her stupid jokes and her biscuits.
Her jokes were stupid. From the time he was eighteen months old, she would tell him that I wasn't his mother anymore, and I was her mum now, just to see his reaction. Initially, he would cry. At two years old, he would try to punch her. By the time he was four, he would just roll his eyes and tell her not to be so dumb. I think that the purpose of the joke was to help him grow a thicker skin, and entertain her.. She did like a good fight.
Her biscuits were divine. And I'd never made them, or tested her recipe when she was alive because you could always visit her and be force fed them until you exploded, along side incredibly strong expresso coffee.
I tried the recipe and it didn't work - and I've modified it a bit and it still is not the same (the biscuits don't rise properly) but they taste the same which is the important thing...
4 osso buco
3 celery sticks
1 clove garlic
800g whole tomatoes
1/2 cup red wine
500mls beef stock
Strip of lemon rind
1. Fry up smashed garlic, diced carrots, onions and celery until the onions are golden brown - transfer to an oven proof dish.
2. Fry up osso buco in the pan, browning well on both sides - put on top of veggies
3. Either use a good jar of spaghetti sauce or make it:
Cook up tomatoes, with wine stock, herbs and lemon rind, bringing it to the boil and season with salt and pepper - then pour this over the veggies and meat
4. Cover the casserole and place in a moderate oven for 1 1/2 hours and serve.
Aunty T biscuits (almost)
1 cup sugar
2 table spoons oil
1 cup self raising flour
cinnamon to taste
1. Beat eggs and sugar together
2. Whisk in oil
3. Add sifted flour and cinnamon
4. Ingredients should form a soft dough
5. Place on tray, lined with baking paper and cook for 10 mins at 250 degrees,
Let cool in oven to crisp up - then eat in one sitting, as if an old Italian lady is compelling you to eat more and more and more. Leaving any would be an insult.
In the garden this week:
- Turnips (used in a stir fry, eaten most happily by the baby)
- Parsley, coriander
- Heaps of broccolini
Broad beans are flowering, as are self seeded tomato plants.
We need to start thinking about what to plant for spring.
I found some silverbeet, growing out from underneath some broccolini, that must have self seeded from a cutting given to us by Aunty Teresa years ago. It was nice to be visited by memories from her in the kitchen and garden this week. I miss her.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I started running a few years ago, running as far and fast as I could in one direction for 11 minutes, then trying to come back in 9. Recently, I was running 5 km, 6 days a week, and on seeing the 'Run Melbourne Half Marathon' advertised, I thought I'd give it ago.
This morning, the crowd waited in semi-darkness for the start. It was gorgeous running through the streets as the sun came up.
At the 2km mark, I thought that the people who were already walking weren't putting in a huge effort.
At 4kms, I thought that the mix tape I'd put on my Ipod was awesome, I was running well but I'd never catch the older lady in hot pink 50m ahead of me (she had great pace).
At the half way mark, I passed the older lady and had really found my legs, making excellent time. The event had lots of little music groups playing as you passed, a violinist, jazz band, and some djs. The dj playing 'Another One Bites the Dust' was spectacularly uncool.
At the 13km mark, I realised I was now on track to finish in under 2 hrs - I would never have thought that was possible.
Things looked rosy, UNTIL the 14km mark, when my knee started to go. I stopped to rub it and it felt better for a while, but by 18kms it was a mess. I had to walk or run with small steps. I lost time but I was finishing no matter what.
As I came through to the last 100m I saw my folks and my family cheering me on - a big plus and then came across the line and stopped running, and almost started crying. But then remembered it was all over and instantly felt better and started feeling fantastic again. The person I came across the line with also started limping as they finished - there were probably lots of people with the same problems as myself.
Earlier this week, my kids and I were struck with the horrible fever/flu/bug thing that everyone seemed to have, and on Wednesday, I really thought that I wouldn't be able to do the event, but everything cleared up and I was able to try.
If you want to have a go at running, I highly recommend it. Aside from the muscle soreness setting in, I feel incredible and really chuffed with myself. It was a huge amount of work but the Run Melbourne event was a great goal to have. A month ago, I ran 18kms as fast as I could, finishing in 2hrs 18mins, so even since then, I've seen a huge improvement.
To train, I've run 5km on Tuesdays and Thursdays (half hour duration, up and down the hills of Moonee Ponds/Brunswick), and a longer run, 12-18km on Saturday mornings (up to Carlton or down to the Maribynong, 1-2hrs). I have done these runs by myself but running with a pram is great exercise too. In my experience, the child along for the ride either sleeps or pretends they are flying. Anyway, once you have a modicum of fitness, the time required isn't huge, and like most people, I enjoyed listening to my Ipod as I went along, spending sometime inside my own head.
In the garden this week:
- More coffee grinds have been scattered to stop the onslaught of snails and improve flowering.
- We have plans to trial an idea from Anthony Bourdain's show 'No Reservations' from Spain, where salad onions were cut and put under soil, growing leek like tops - will keep you posted regarding any success.
- We have capsicum plants growing from composted material throughout the garden - growing fruit even in this cold weather.
Monday, July 4, 2011
While buying the large quantities of chocolate and coffee at our local cafe/sweet shop, my husband has set up a deal with the shop owner, where he gets all the used coffee grinds from their busy coffee machine for our garden.
He is collecting two large bags twice a week, so that now our veggie patch has about an inch covering of coffee grinds over the surface. Any snail problems have ceased instantly. And the broccoli is sprouting hugely, so that we have 3 big servings a week, and there is a risk of stuff remaining going to seed. I noticed when planting out some seedlings that the the soil seems to be improving a lot too.
Also harvested this week:
- Beetroot leaves for a salad, along side spinach and lettuce, nice for the colour.
- Coriander, mint, parsley
In the kitchen this week:
When my parents were over for an impromptu dinner, I had roasted brussel sprouts as in this recipe.
My dad was delighted. My husband and mother were horrified. Apparently, Mum had never made me eat them, and was shocked that I'd dish them up for her. The dissenters politely tried them, but clearly were forcing them down, being watched by an amused five yo, exempt from the experiment. Dad thought the brussel sprouts were lovely. Everyone else declined to comment. I thought they were great, and I've never even liked them. The outer leaves blackened and went crispy like thin chips, so there was a mix of soft vegetable and crunchiness that was fantastic.
I tried cooking them again on Sunday night, again with my folks over, this time adding bacon to the mix. The diners were far happier with this, with the bacon flavour infusing with the vegetable even appreciated by my semi-vego husband, but all the fabulous crispiness was lost, so I wasn't a huge fan anymore. Everyone is a critic.
I think that I'll revert to the original recipe and just make them when my dad is coming over.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Somewhat uncleverly, my husband put painful dermatitis on his hand in close proximity to rotting matter when turning the compost without gloves on. In the process managing to lose his wedding ring amongst the muck.
I suggested a trip across town to borrow his dad's metal detector, but he preferred to carefully look through the decaying matter (with now gloved hands) in his quest for the ring. Half an hour later, he immerged dirty but triumphant, ring on finger, quest complete. And apparently the compost was really well mixed now too. Awesome.
We have harvested spinach, coriander, lettuce, parsley, and broccolini - very yum.
Roses have been pruned also - despite the fact that they were still flowering - otherwise I'd never have gotten around to it...
For some garden inspiration -
I also took my folks and baby on a tour of the Fitzroy gardens in the city led by one of their gardeners - it was free and a really great way of hearing about the history of Melbourne, via the development of an amazing garden... The garden is worth visiting, even without the tour though - lots of little surprises around each bend in the path, with my favourite being the Conservatory - a riot of colour and breath taking plant displays, open every day except Christmas, 9-5pm. Tours start at 12:30 on Wednesday, outside the Conservatory.
In the kitchen this week:
- Lemon soup - mentioned last week was trialled and much loved by all, including the baby - with shredded chicken put through the soup for meat eaters. Good winter meal, especially if you are getting a sore throat.
- Breakfast for dinner - tonight we had scrambled eggs as per Tetsuya - delicious and prepared in under 2 minutes - excellent!
Monday, June 6, 2011
A few years ago, gall wasp attacked citrus trees through Melbourne and we were told to cut off all affected branches. My dad and father in law performed the tree surgery, leaving us with a mere stump of a tree. It was very sad. More happily, in recent years, we have been told that you just need to cut into the gall wasp bumps on the tree so that affected trees can be allowed to grow. Ours has regrown and this is the first year where we have a decent crop since the sad stumping.
In preparation for the ripening of the fruit, I'm including my recipes for dealing with a glut of lemons:
Lemon and hot water - excellent cold remedy, important as the weather gets colder and my nose starts running like a tap.
I follow a recipe from Maggie Beer - http://www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/txt/s2017945.htm
Preserving lemons is quick and easy...
With the bitter pith removed, the peel can add a punch to anything savoury, beyond tagine cooking. My favourite uses are adding it to greek yohgurt with some mint for a kebab sauce, or adding it with tiny diced veggies to couscous for a bright looking, sharp tasting salad...
I saw this being made on tv last week - looked very tart but yummo:
I've lost the little book that I have my normal lemon tart recipe in. Grrrrrrr.
When picking up our son at school, one of the mum's was passing out lemons from her tree, and another took them all very happily, to make 'lemon soup', a big family favourite based on a staple from Greek Easter - we will be giving this a go - very intriguing.
Lemon Ice Cream: (Makes 8 inch ice cream cake)
For an easy cake for a celebration, try this ice-cream cake.
The only difficult bit of this is standing over the lemon curd stirring as it sets, but is worth the effort for a decadent dessert.
Lemon Ice Cream
1 recipe lemon curd*
6 tb sp icing sugar
lemon juice to taste
Beat curd until smooth
Whip cream and sugar
Fold in curd
Freeze for 3 hours
OR alternately, freeze for 1.5 hours and then fold in some meringue for lemon meringue ice cream.
*Lemon Curd (makes ~1lt)
4 large lemons
6 beaten eggs
Squeeze juice and add to sugar and butter
Double boil it until butter melts
Add eggs and stir for 20 minutes until it thickens and is translucent...
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
With some experimentation, I’ve found that works for leeks too. On cold days, it is great to wander out the front and get some leek for a winter soup.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Harvesting radish, spinach, spring onions (regrown from bought spring onions), coriander and lettuce.
Radish is a fast growing veggie, and can be planted year round. It has a 4-8 week growing time, depending on time of the year (longer in cooler months), worth putting in if you have space, to get some crunch in your salads, especially now when not much with colour is growing.
In the kitchen this week:
A chicken and 'cheese sauce'* vol au vent** with salad made from the above items with a mustard dressing:
Teaspoon - mustard
Tablespoon - balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons - olive oil...
*'Cheese sauce' is code in our house for cauliflower and peeled zucchini soup reduced to make a thick sauce, relabelled to assist in the hiding of vegetables from young children - also doubles as baby food.
**The vol au vent cases were made following http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn9jqA6Sh1I Easy to make - kids could do it... They turned out a bit dumpy but were well received with the comment:
'Vol a what? It's easier to say dinner croissant' from the 5yo.
This was my slightly healthier version of http://www.everydaygourmet.tv/recipes/36 seen on Everyday Gourmet on channel 10 at 4pm weekdays...
It was nice despite the wintery temperature to be able to walk out into the yard for the ingredients to make a salad with crunch and colour.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Broadbeans at 40cm...
- Onion, banana and citrus peels and egg shells which the worms don’t like, my husband has noticed their taste over time.
- Animal products (meat, dairy...)
Clearly, the compost and worm farm are dirty things, full of rotting matter, but create wonderful things for the garden.ABC Gardening estimates 300kg of waste per household per year can be saved through composting and for us, it has resulted in lower financial costs for gardening, with less bought fertilizer required for the garden due to the worm juice (I estimate ~$90/year, using seasol in lieu of worm juice, fortnightly application to veggie patch only) and bought soil not required for our recent new garden bed addition (~$90 for bagged soil as we don’t have a trailer to bring in unbagged soil from landscape supply centre).
- Ask gardening friends for help, including trying to get some ages compost or worm castings to use
- Mark out a small area to use in the sunshine, probably making a raised garden bed with lumber either from the hardware shop (recently, this has cost us $36 for a bed 2.4 x 1.2 m) , making sure it is suitable for vegetable patches, cobbling it together with brackets that you can hammer into the corners.
- Failing that, I’d do something in some containers, anything with holes in the bottom will do at a pinch…
- Fill in the bed or containers with soil from a landscape supply centre (ring around for best cost – if in trailer and unbagged, you can make big savings).
- Plant for winter, choosing from:
- Water in if not raining but in this weather should look after itself, throw on coffee grinds daily to reduce the incidence of snail attack and sit back, watch it grow and wait to enjoy the spoils in no time at all.
It is ok to just have a go in the garden, vegetable gardening can have great rewards.
Sometimes it doesn't work and that is ok too. In the heavy and unusual rain this year, I 've found some mushrooms growing in the veggie beds, that aren't supposed to be there and are most likely poisonous. Given that until that last few months, we have struggled with water supply, lugging water from the bath to the patch, this amount of damp is a tad disturbing. Around the corner from us, a gardener grew bananas on his banana tree for the first time in 20 years! They didn't grow to full size but it shows what an incredible change in weather we are seeing in 2011.
Spot the mushroom?
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- Fry onion over medium heat until golden brown (3 minutes),
- Add carrots, and spices, tomato paste and then lentils
- Add stock and cover and simmer for 20 minutes
- Serve, with a dollop of yoghurt to mix through…
- Fry up leeks for ~5 minutes or until golden, (a spoonful of butter can help to reduce the chance of the leeks burning if your attention wanders and the pot is not stirred regularly in this time)
- Add in sweet potato and chickpeas, heat through for a minute.
- Then add stock, and cover, simmering for 30 minutes and serve with chopped parsley and parmesan if desired.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Strong growing continues, helped along by rain (the 4th bed is damp enough to have produced a mushroom - ikkk) and sunshine. Temperatures are still high enough for self seeded tomatoes to be growing.
Broadbeans are standing ~35cm tall.
Lots of 'micro herbs' growing, as are lots of micro weeds. Some micro weeding is required.
With the dropping temperature, growing may slow in the following weeks.
Lettuce, spinach, parsley and coriander, basil harvested this week for recipes below.
And shared from friends and neighbours, half a pumpkin, quinces and persimmon - all very gratefully received.
In the kitchen this week - muchos confusion.
On Monday night, I watched the return of Masterchef, where there were drama and cooking aplenty. I stood idle in my kitchen, until the flying frypans and food motivated me to pull out ingredients to make a cake I'd been thinking about since reading 'A Tiny Bit Marvellous' by Dawn French. The book was ok but the recipes at the end looked pretty promising, particularly 'Mo's Beetroot Cake.' I thought that this would be a lovely pink type cake and would push the memory of a less than successful Red Velvet cake that I made at Easter further towards the back of my mind:
Beetroot cake (with modifications due to limited ingredients in pantry/fridge):
180g sugar I used 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar
180g plain flour
180g almond meal
50g cocoa powder
1 ts baking powder
200ml sour cream I used 100ml sour cream, 100ml strawberry yoghurt
1 ts vanilla essence
200g grated beetroot I used 1/2 a tin of beetroot, mashed up using a hand mixer.
Whisk eggs and sugar for 5 minutes (I did for about a minute - less height in cake due to using brown sugar and not whisking long enough)..
Add dry ingredients and beat to combine.
Beat in liquid ingredients and beetroot.
Pour into greased and papered cake tin and bake for 50 minutes.
But by the time this had finished cooking, 'The Biggest Loser Finale' had come on, and though it smelt gorgeous, eating cake, or more to the point, calorie consumption was not appealing. Though I was happy it has veggies in it and could use it to get Trojan veggies into my son Troy (would be funny if that was his name..)
I started thinking that after an Easter of heavy chocolate consumption, attempting the emulate the rich food of Masterchef was probably an unwise choice. I don't want to end up a waddling whale like George and Gary. Borrowing out huge cook books from the library each week and perusing lots of food blogs may not be the way to go to avoid a further expanding waistline...
Then, I remembered a post from a while ago from thestonesoup.com regarding the 4 hour body diet:
Relooking through this info, I started formulating thoughts about better options than how I've been eating recently - lots of sandwiches, pasta, etc which are quick and easy and make the rest of the family happy. And me chubbier, despite running ~5km 6 days a week, pushing the baby in a pram...
The diet suggestions include:
- Nothing white or what could be white - so no pasta, bread, potatoes etc
- Replace white carbs with beans/lentils where possible
- Eggs for breakfast
- Eat whatever you want, one day a week, so your body can't get too used to the diet so that it can continue to work well and so that you get rid of any cravings and end up feeling sick and so strengthen your resolve to continue with the diet.
Breakfast: A banana, blueberry and yohgurt smoothie (I've been doing this for a while, nice way to start the day.)
Snack: Apple or pear
Lunch: Eggs with tomato and spinach (eggs cooked up quickly in microwave..)
Snack: Cheese or yoghurt
Dinner: Meat with a salad/lentils
And have a day off a week and eat whatever I want.
I'm adding in more meat than I have been eating, after waking up from a dream about porterhouse steak (I must be iron deficient) and also more dairy due to pitted nails but going gluten-free as much as possible.
In terms of lentils, I found the following recipes fast and tasty, recipes with modifications from www.thestonesoup ebook that you get when joining the blog, plus some others that I have used previously:
Lentil, beetroot and feta salad (similar to the popular beetroot and feta salad with lentils added):
Tin of lentils (rinsed and drained)
Tin of baby beets
Some feta, broken into small pieces
Handful of spinach
Mint, coriander, cumin
Balsamic vinegar and oil to dress salad
Throw together for a nice salad...
Chickpeas and Parmasen:
Tin of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
Handful of spinach/lettuce (whatever is at hand)
Sprinkle of parmasen (or feta)
Spoonful of pesto
Again mixed together for a salad
Chickpeas and Rocket (I think that something like this might have been in a Nigella Lawson book):
Tin of chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
Handful of rocket
Spoonful of tomato paste
Dash of balsamic vinegar
When my family was demolishing fish and chips, along side some grilled flake I had a salad like this:
Fennel and Pear Salad:
A small fennel bulb, cut into matchsticks, core removed
Pear cut into matchsticks
Thrown together with some lemon squeezed over the top.
It was yummy enough and tasted so healthy and crunchy that I didn't steal even one chip.
My sainthood must be in the mail now.
For a larger salad, with a big fennel bulb, this can be dressed up with some chopped almonds and a honey mayo dressing:
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
Whisk together and drizzle...
These salads are quicker or as quick as knocking up some pasta, and pretty tasty so there was no excuse for me not to continue with the diet attempt..
After 5 days of following the diet, running as per usual, and adding in some pilates stomach tightening things into my daily exercise, I've lost ~1.5kg and 3cm from my middle - possibly the results of not being bloated from gluten - hopefully the trend down will continue....
I broke the diet today with Mother's Day lunch prepared by my husband - roast lamb with potatoes, etc, followed by chocolate pudding - yummo, and tea with macaroons for afters:
Macaroons - no gluten, lots of refined sugar though :)
300g Almond Meal
150g Icing sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons rose water (or to taste)
Icing sugar to dust
Mix dry ingredients and then mix altogether
Kneed mix and roll into balls, then roll these in some sifted icing sugar to coat
Cook on baking paper covered tray in 180 degree oven for 20 mins.
I was further confused this week was due to a news story regarding the poor treatment of free range hens:
The video apparently taken in the Somerville Egg Farm shown on channel 10 was appalling, with the hens having no sunshine, no feathers, and minimal room to move, stacked to the roof, with some hens dead on the floor, no better than battery hens. We hope this isn't the norm for free range animals, though could explain how, beyond just squeezing the farmer, Coles and Woolworths are able to sell free range eggs for $4/dozen. We are also considering how a little chicken coup would go in our small place too... Not sure how good I'd be at handling them - lots to think about.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The only changes made were that:
- For our royal icing I used 2 egg whites mixed with ~400g of icing sugar to get the appropriate consistency - This would change though on the size of the eggs you use, so it is worth reading her blog on the 10 second consistency check for icing to get it right... When I needed to make the icing more runny, I just added some water.
- For piping the icing, I use oven bags with a tiny cut made in the corner to squeeze the icing out - cheaper and easier to find at the shops than traditional icing bags.
The sugar cookie recipe is super super sweet, even by my sweet tooth standards - next year I'll convert back to making gingerbread cookies, but will ice them this way again... Happy Easter!