Monday, April 30, 2012

Not a Recipe for Kamut and Walnut Loaf

I'm sitting in front of The Voice, my feet tucked into this sleeping bag I inherited from a trip to South America. I just freaked out at the smell of fresh bread ... till I remembered I was baking some. Nelle was up till 9 tonight, in and out of bed, and I could've used someone to snuggle with on the couch but no ... I was a good mummy. Consistent mummy. "Go to bed" mummy. Even the dog's in bed now, but not me. Not yet. Haven't had my cup of green tea yet, haven't started the Hunger Games all over again, haven't pulled myself away from Seal and Joel and Keith and Delta to tuck these little toes into bed upstairs.

But wait. Better let this bread finish first.
Test it out?
Oh yes.

Not Kamut and Walnut Loaf
makes for serious disappointment

Crap. It didn't turn out. Sorry. 
Off to bed we go. 
Amanda xx

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sea Salt & Rosemary Roasted Almonds and Anzac Day Thanksgiving 2012

This was the 5th year of our annual Anzac Day Thanksgiving - a fusion of American traditional comfort food and an autumn Australian memorial holiday. A great time of year both to eat lots of carbs (and meat, for those inclined ... ) and remember all that we're thankful for.

And what are we thankful for?

The 'old' friends who've become our family here in Brisbane. And their beautiful children.

The meat. Robbie's infinitely thankful for the meat, now that he lives with a veggie (me!) ... and now, also, the Weber BBQ I bought him (secondhand) as a wedding present.

You know, the first year we did our Thanksgiving, we roasted a whole chicken and managed to invite only vegetarians to dinner. Coincidence? Ha.

 This no longer happens ... my dear husband has to share.
Especially with our daughter, whose carnivory is legendary ...

We're thankful for our health, and our happiness, and the current state of our townhouse garden - which is (with all this rain) quite inspiring. 

 And we're thankful for all this amazing food.
  • The cornbread, with maple syrup and warm butter.
  • My Grandmother's apple-and-herb stuffing.
  • Shredded carrot salad (to counterbalance the carbs ... ).
  • And zucchini salad, also shredded. And counterbalancing.
  • Mashed potatoes with miso-mushroom gravy.
  • Almonds roasted with salt and fresh rosemary.
  • Barbequed wild Bunya nuts, courtesy of Tamsin and Richard.
  • Sweet potatoes baked with more butter than you care to know. 
  • and Candice's pumpkin pie, made from fresh butternut squash. And sugar. Served with ice cream and IvyHome mud cream, for good measure. (or, as for lunch yesterday, on it's own straight out of the pie tin!)

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Amanda xx

Roasted Almonds with Rosemary and Sea Salt

This isn't really a recipe as much as a suggestion, but I kinda figured I had to give you something. I actually made these for my wedding reception, too - and they were a huge hit.

I've provided directions for regular toasted almonds or raw, activated almonds - your choice which way to go. The former are tastier in my book, but the later are better for you. 

1. Soak a bowl of almonds - or don't.

2. Pre-heat oven to 180C if you just want them crispy - or 100C if you want them dehydrated (but still raw)

3. Drain the almonds if you've soaked them, and sprinkle with a Tbs or so of extra virgin olive oil, a few large pinches of sea salt, and the leaves from a stalk or two of rosemary (from your garden if possible).

4. Spread the almonds out on a baking tray and bake for 15 min or until they're even more golden and toasty looking. Or, dehydrate them for six or so hours till they're dry.

5. Add more salt and rosemary, to taste, and serve in little dishes distributed everywhere people will be standing around.

NOTE: My love of rosemary is new-found ... I never could stand it, and now I can't get enough of it! Funny, that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Easy Peasy Mushroom Stroganoff

I ate this stroganoff 3 times last week ... it was that good. And it fights breast cancer.
Kind of. Let me explain.

You probably know I have an on-going battle with estrogen. I firmly believe it tried to kill me, by surreptitiously feeding breast cancer cells in my body. Damn estrogen. And here I thought it was just making me voluptuous, and fertile ...

Anyway. What am I prattling on about here? This is a recipe, not a tirade on estrogen, right?

Mushrooms are full of natural compounds called aromatase inhibitors - little guys that stop the production of estrogen in the body. Not in an eat-mushrooms-become-more-male kind of way ... but basically helping to put a stop on the over-production of estrogen. You see, our modern lifestyles are laden with chemicals that actually behave like estrogen in the body (including, of course, the pill) and plus - we're not labouring 14 hours a day in the fields, or breast-feeding our 13 children ... so estrogen is more a part of our day-to-day life than it used to be.

The moral of the story?
You will probably not get breast cancer. Only 11% of us do.
Watch your food additives anyway.
Mushrooms are good.
Mushroom stroganoff is great.
Live happy.
Be strong.
Amanda xx

This recipe is an adaptation from one of my favvvvvvvvvvourite cookbooks - Jamie Oliver's Jamie at Home. His includes venison, and brandy and sour cream. I like to think mine's a wee bit healthier, with all those mushies and yogurt. But the taste? Amazing. You never knew paprika could do this.

The only reason I made this recipe so small was - for the same reason Jamie did, I bet - because otherwise you need a super-massive pot for all those mushrooms. This is a much more manageable size, and perfectly feeds a family of 2.5 like ours.

Mushroom Stroganoff
serves 2.5

The time
15 min prep + 20-30 min cooking

The ingredients
a relatively large amount of extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
500g (or 1 lb) brown mushrooms, chopped*
1 Tbs sweet paprika
a couple of parsley stalks, chopped
1 Tbs butter
the zest of 1/2 an organic lemon
3/4 cup plain yogurt

to serve
the parsley leaves from those stalks 
sea salt, to taste
cooked rice

*of course, you can use button mushrooms or a combination of button, brown and wild mushrooms for this. 

**as always, try to use organic ingredients when you can. Grow your own parsley - it's worth it!

The process
1. In a big, heavy pot or skillet, saute the onion and garlic in 2 Tbs of olive oil on medium heat until soft. Add the mushrooms, paprika, parsley stalks and a pinch of salt. Stir. Cover. Add more oil. Lower the heat.

2. Keep adding olive oil to the pan (and stirring) as needed so the mushrooms a) cook properly, b) cook tastily, and c) don't stick permanently to the skillet. Once they really start to cook and brown, you can leave the lid off the pot.

NOTE: You will not feel comfortable with the amount of olive oil you are adding. It's ok. You'll never have to tell.

3. When the mushrooms are cooked, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the butter, lemon zest and yogurt till melted and saucy.

4. Serve over rice with parsley leaves and sea salt.


The cost
If you make this organic in Australia with market-fresh brown mushrooms, you can do it for less than $10.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Persimmon and Cucumber Salad

Have you ever tried a persimmon? It's a bright, apple-sized fruit full of vitamin C and beta carotene and other good stuff.

Persimmons come in two main varieties - a type that's best eaten when it's soft, and a type that you can eat when it's soft or firm. If you get the former - and you'll know if you cut into an unripe one and it makes your mouth feel fuzzy - wait till they're mushy and eat them like plums. Or cook them.
If you get the latter, cut them up like pears and eat them with cheese platters. Or on their own. Or in this simple salad where the sweetness of the persimmon is a great partner with the slightly-astringent cucumber. And mayo? It makes anything taste good.

Planning to hit the farmer's markets this weekend? Perhaps I'll see you there :). Have a great one whatever you do!
Amanda xx

Persimmon and Cucumber Salad
serves 1-2

The time
10 min

The ingredients
1 hard-but-palatable persimmon
2-3 small or medium cucumbers
1 Tbs quality mayonnaise (make your own, or buy the good stuff)
sea salt, to taste

*try to use organic when you can!

NOTE: This recipe is best if you go out and buy yourself a $7 julienner. Trust me on this one - it'll change your salad-eating life forever.

The process
Thinly slice - or, ideally, julienne - your persimmon and cucumbers, avoiding the mushy seedy bit in the middle of the cukes. Toss with mayo and salt and enjoy!

The cost
Try to get the produce market-direct so it's super-fresh - but even if you go out and buy yourself a julienner (which you should) this organic salad'll still come in at $10 or less. Bargain!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Kale Chip Sprinkles for People Who Don't Particularly Like Desiccated Leaves

Kale is the undisputed heavyweight champion of health foods, right? Exuding antioxidants and other body-friendly forms of goodness in every green leaf ... And the latest trend in the food world seems to be kale chips, which are basically desiccated kale leaves - salted or spiced - and eaten like potato chips.

They are NOT potato chips.
They are dried leaves.
I can't stand them.

But, because kale's so incredibly awesome, and because I often seem to find myself in possession of more of it than I know what to do with ... I made kale chips.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Identity Crisis Frittata with Asparagus

Well, for once it's not me with the identity crisis.        ...                   Or is it?

Are there multiple dimensions of me?
Is there a me who's written that novel that sits in the back of my own head?
Is there a me who owns a little hole-in-the-wall coffeeshop by the train station?
These are the me's I could be ... I see them sometimes out of the corner of my eye.
I want to grab onto them, pin them down, stick them on leashes. Come back. Stay here. Please. Wait.

And maybe one day they are the me I'll be.
Till then, I'll keep looking for them.

And. In that vein, I'm really not sure what to call this recipe ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to keep your toothbrush happy

The other day I walked into the bathroom to find Nelle vigorously scrubbing Grammy's hairbrush handle - with her own little toothbrush.

Ah, she's a thoughtful one, my girl ...

But it reminded me that now and then I might like to give our toothbrushes a clean, too. My favourite way is to soak the toothbrush heads in plain white vinegar for a day every week or so. (As we know from pickling) vinegar kills mold and bacteria, so it's a super-easy, non-toxic way to disinfect something you put into your mouth a couple of times a day.

Just saying.

After it's had a good vinegar-soak, just rinse your toothbrush in warm water before using it. And - if you feel inclined - use the vinegar to give your bathroom sink a good wash as you tip it out.

Easy Peasy!
Amanda xx

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mango Lassi with Pomegranate and Hibiscus

There are a couple of key things to learn from this post.

#1? If you're like me, you can put anything - and I mean ANYTHING - into a smoothie and your child will eagerly slurp it down.
(Take advantage of that.)

#2? If your town/city/village/whatever has botanical gardens, go to them more often than you do at the moment.