Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Five Minute Artisan Bread - Recipe Three


I have been working on my soups this year, and I have learnt a lot. I like to make the bread to go with soups too, and enjoy a lovely chewy artisan style by preference with soup. I find that sandwich bread tends towards mush, whereas artisan soup adds texture and flavour of it's own to an otherwise mushy (or pureed) dish.

I really like this dough for the simple reason that I can pull off as much or as little as I need, and let it rise and cook. There's not much wastage, and if I felt enthused I could make buns or sticks or anything. One day I could even make bowls out of bread for a good solid stoo.

I'm afraid this is the last post on *this* batch of dough. I did not finish the dough, there's still a good chunk left to use, but this is now past the 2 week limit. My diet has changed somewhat, and there's a lot less wheat at present! But when I start wheat again, I'll cover some of the other recipes.

Sarah P

Friday, September 18, 2009

Five Minute Artisan Bread - Recipe Two


I made the kids help put the toppings on, there's even tiny mini pizzas shaped by my 4yo. Yum!

Sarah P

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maharajah's Chutney

This is a slowcooker recipe from "Year Round Recipes for Crockpots and Slowcookers," by Simon and Alison Holst. It's a rather lovely book, with good solid recipes that seem to suit my family and I. They tend to be tasty and reasonably cheap, and include a number of meals that are not just a stoo or soup. They do have some fantastic soups in here, though I have not tried any stoos.

This recipe is called Maharajah's Chutney, and I was pleased to discover it did look like thepicture in the book if I cooked it long enough. It's a standard chutney based on sultanas, onions, vinegar and spices, with a nice Indian tang to it.

I have used up all my small jam jars for this! Oops. The big jar is for home use, and the smaller ones will be for Christmas presents - if it lasts that long!

I found the chutney itself to be a tad grainy, but it's still acceptable. This particular chutney involved roasting and then pounding spices using the mortar and pestle. I was a bit worried it would be VERY grainey, since I have not had the best of luck with pounding coriander seeds into powder.

But this has worked out rather well, and goes brilliantly with ham, cheese, and wherever you might use a sweet chutney. The original recipe calls for chili, but with two small kids in the house I'm still avoiding having it in the house!

Sarah P

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stage Two of Worcestershire Sauce

Now we wait for two weeks!

Random sampling at present says "It's not as salty as Worcestershire sauce, but very good."

Sarah P

Monday, September 07, 2009

Sprouted Nourishment

Sally Fallon's back to basics cook book Nourishing Traditions is an inspirational guide to old school nutrition. And when I say back to basics I don't mean like the CWA cook book (thought that is an absolute gem in itself) I mean really back to traditional ways of preparing food for maximum nutritional benefit. It is a bit scary to think that to return to the practices discussed in the book would require a complete overhaul of our current popular methods of food preparation.

Now that I am no longer pregnant and the consequences of mildly poisoning myself are not quite so huge I am planing to slowly and steadily introduce these practices into my kitchen.

This weeks adventure into nutrient enhanced food is... sprouts!

I have been looking forward to getting back into sprouting for a while now (sprouts are one of the foods recommended against during pregnancy due to food poisoning risk (I think salmonella? maybe listeria??) Mind you, I do wonder which risk is greater during pregnancy--food poisoning or malnutrition considering how many generally healthy foods are recommended against at this time... but that is another post entirely...)

So, yes, where was I? Oh yes, sprouts. Basically sprouting takes food that is already pretty good--legumes, grains, nuts and seeds--and by letting it do what it does naturally, it decreases the harmful chemicals and increases the available nutrients. Fallon writes:

The process of germination not only produces vitamin C but also changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5 and B6. Carotene increases dramatically--sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc; sprouting also reduces enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds.
She also mentions that sprouts are easier to digest than unsprouted grains/seeds as they have an increase in digestive enzymes and a reduction in gas causing complex sugars.

Fallon adds a few cautions, she recommends against the over consumption of raw sprouts, advising light steaming instead, and also recommends against the eating of alfalfa saying that this seed can inhibit the immune system and also contribute to inflammatory arthritis and lupus.

Another great thing about sprouts is that they dramatically increase the volume of your food substance, making them an extremely economical way to prepare the food source. The picture above is of mung bean sprouts--I started with a handful of dried mung beans, soaked overnight then rinsed in clean water twice a day and three days later had a jar full of food.

Also, they are actually incredibly tasty. Even monkey moo will eat them!

Ruminations on the Vegie Patch - Supply and Demand

The old garden bed is still going. I have put in potatoes in one end, and in the other I will probably be putting in either herbs or some of the many seedlings I have growing. The eggplants suffered quite a lot during a snail plague, and unfortunately I had to dump the cauliflower and broccoli that were growing, partially due toimmense snail damage, but also my old friends the aphids.

I have been thinking occasionally on emergency plans. Diggers offers an emergency seed kit to people with a healthcare card. A healthcare card is a card you can access if you earn below a certain income, and gets your pharmaceuticals and other bills cheaper than usual. The seed packets boast hundreds of kilos of food from nine packets, and is very cheap. Diggers also have a very cheap support your family kit for $20, which is what I purchased last year.

I found that there's a requirement for intensive farming and planning to be able to make use of it as instructed, and a lot of the mass weight came from lettuce. While we like lettuce somewhat, we're not about to start living on it, and this once againt drew my attention to the great divide between what we have and what we want.

The big problems with budgeting food and developing a garden is supply and demand. If the silverbeet is the only thing in season, then you need to be eating silverbeet. And if it's the only thing ready for a week, then you're going to run out of ways you can prep it up and serve it up. Whether it's you or the family who hits the point of ENOUGH first, it's going to happen. So no only do we need to think of fresh vegetables and boredom, but we also need to consider - do we know what to do with excess harvest when we get it?

So not only do we need to learn what grows well in our backyards, and how to look after it, and grow it, and stop bugs getting to it, but we also need to learn to plan well in advance so we *don't* end up eating silverbeet for three weeks running, and if we do, find ways to preserve it for times when you want silverbeet, and it's not fresh. It's easier, of course, to go down to Coles or Woollies and buy something, but it feels like a hollow traitorous act.

Diggers also have a self sufficiency plan free for use. Link here:

In the Diggers book they provide illustrations about where you can slide in a square metre of vegies, cane plants or fruit trees. I find this all to be a very handy tool as I stumble about in my apprenticeship, struggling to learn everything I can while I have the luxury of time.

If we suddenly had no source of income, I would invest in Asian greens. Fast to grow, minimal space, I can stirfy them a thousand ways. I love eggplants, they have been prolific and a good support for a lot of dishes. I am finding the celery to be very useful in my quest to make better soups. I can't stand to eat it, but it does season stocks beautifully. I love the flat leafed parsley I have, so would love to develop my herb garden some more. We've bought the pots for our grape vines, so they will be in very shortly.


Friday, September 04, 2009

Strawberry Surprise!

Yesterday I went to my local veggie shop looking particularly for cheap produce that I could buy in bulk for cooking, pureeing and freezing and that sort of thing. I came home with, among other things, a case of local strawberries. All up there are 15 punnets, which equals 3.75kg of strawberries, at a total cost of $6.90--considering I paid nearly this much for 2 punnets last week I snapped the box up right away. I think they were cheap because they are the small variety, which for me is a bonus rather than a negative because smaller = tastier.

I have put a few punnets aside for eating as is, and de-leaved and washed a few punnets for freezing and making into ice cream (we have one of those niffty juicers that you put frozen fruit into and it comes out as ice cream). I am thinking there will be some frozen fruit kebabs happening in our near future and maybe some choc dipped strawberries.

That leaves about 2kg to play with. Most will probably be frozen for later use, but I'd love to hear peoples best strawberry ideas--the easier the better!

Coles Seasonal Vegetable Box

What's in the box??

A few days ago I ordered Coles delivery as I stuffed my knee, and the last thing I wanted to do was wander around a supermarket for 2 hours while hobbling. Since my preferred stupidmarket doesn't deliver to me, I usually go with GroceryZone, but this time I thought I would give Coles a try. Coles only recently started to deliver in my area.

My first hint that this was a well thought out concept was booking a delivery time. A two hour delivery window was $13, a three hour delivery window was $11, and a four hour delivery window was $9. I think 2 hours of my time is definitely worth $4.50 an hour! I hate shopping. Did you know that? I do. I love delivery. I like to do my grocery shopping monthly, and my fresh fruit and veg during the month. I hate shopping so much I'd rather meal plan and get it all done in one big shop so I don't have to do it again. I resent wandering around a stupidmarket, making faces at all the food. I must amuse some people if they notice!

Another thing I liked - when I checked out, it told me that a) my credit card would be debited once the order was picked and packed, and that if I wanted to, I could log in and change the order up until mid-day the day before delivery. I logged in three separate times over the weekend to add 'just one more thing'!

I hate Coles. I have always found their vegetables to be awful, and the range to be uninspiring. Coles is not the cheapest, and it doesn't have what gourmet items I do like, so Woollies has always received less ire from me. I don't like it, but I hate Woollies less than Coles!

And Coles has Seasonal Vegetable Boxes! I was so excited! I love random boxes of fruit and veg, and have been a part of a couple of co-ops, and also companies which deliver boxes of random F&F many a time. Some just stopped delivery for some reason, or others let their quality slip, so I was ecstatic when the Armadale Farmers Market started up recently. So, I ticked the box, and waited with great excitement.

Getting boxes of random vegetables are a great way to expand your recipe repertoire, and also to make sure you EAT MORE VEGETABLES. Getting the fortnightly boxes FULL of vegies meant that we also had a deadline! These days we're much better at it, but sometimes we slip.

I am impressed. I am very impressed. All of the vegetables were top quality, and there is heaps.

1 x whole cabbage
1 x medium zucchini
4 x onions
4 x carrots
4 x potatoes
2 x broccoli
1/4 punkin (Like I need more. I still haven't bothered to catalogue the ROI on my single pumpkin plant)
1 x red capsicum
1 x green capsicum
1 x punnet of mushrooms

I love the fact there's basics as well as more exciting items. I love the fact there's a red capsicum and a green capsicum. I love the fact there's a mix of stuff that will last quite a while and stuff that needs to be used ASAP.

Coles, I hate to say it, but I'm impressed. Now I'm all sad because WOOLLIES SHOULD HURRY UP AND FOLLOW YOUR LEAD! And give me Rewards points too LOL

Also, for those who do the Flybuys thing, Coles will put your flybuys onto your account with online shopping.

So I would have to give Coles an 'AWESOMECOOKIES!' rating for their home delivery service. If they had a partnership with Qantas, I'd totally be all over them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Five Minute Artisan Bread - Recipe One

Five Minute Artisan bread after a few days and one recipe.

This is a basic flat bread. I pulled off tiny balls of dough, literally about 2 tablespoons full, dumped lots of flour on top and rolled them as flat as possible before frying in a non-stick frying pan with a tiny bit of oil.

It was just a snack, so we ate them with jam on top, and they were lovely.

Sarah P