Grow Gather Enjoy: Featured

Showing posts with label Featured. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Featured. Show all posts

Update from the road

03 July 2019

Alternate title: Yes, I'm still alive!!

I finally find myself taking some time to visit this space on the interwebs. I wont bore you with the usual excuses or apologies...let's just jump straight into a catch up. 

Lucky Bay, Cape Le Grande National Park, WA - simply spectacular!
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Catching up

08 February 2019
I have sat down to write this post so many times - both literally and figuratively.

But life sort of had a way of getting in the way!! So, here's the catch-up for those of you who are interested in where I've been at the last couple of months and for anyone still clicking in here!!

Grab a cuppa and let's catch up.

Fishing off the pier in Stanley, TAS.


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Here and Now: November 2018

15 November 2018
Hello out there!

I've obviously been a little quiet in this space the last few weeks. Lots of decluttering, packing, sorting, ordering, cleaning and craziness.


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A week in my kitchen: early spring

30 October 2018
A couple of months ago I shared what went on over a week in my kitchen (). I thought I might continue it seasonally to show how things shift and to share a snapshot into our eating here.

Smoked trout and spring veg pasta.

Sunday

This was a big bake up day for me. In an effort to maximise the oven energy use I generally get a little crazy once the oven is turned on!!

Baking/making: everyday sourdough loaf, 2 sourdough fruit loaves, sourdough bagels, two pizzas, croutons, roasted up pumpkin for mid week meal and (adapted to include peanut butter and choc chips - so probably not really muesli balls anymore!).

Lunch: Bagels with bacon, mayonnaise and lettuce (the first harvested from the garden)

Dinner: slow cooked lamb inspired by a

Monday

Picked up fruit, veg and supplies for the week. I actually did my meal planning Sunday as I'd planned to go the markets but that turned into afternoon drinks with friends instead ;)

Lunch: leftover stew.

Dinner: Smoked trout, broad bean, asparagus and chard pasta in a creamy lemon sauce.

Tuesday

Baking/making: vanilla ice-cream to have with my daily iced coffee and some chocolate ice cream pops for the girls.

Lunch: chard & hummus on toast

Dinner: Roast pumpkin, avocado, crouton & lentil salad with a hummus and mayonnaise dressing.

Tuesday night dinner.


Wednesday

Baking/Making: pre-cooked beans for Thursday night dinner. Testing out my SIL's thermal cooker to see if we might get one for our travels. Accidentally made enough beans to feed a small army...or at least a month's worth of bean dinners once a week!!

Lunch: sharing platter with the girls of vegies, crackers, hummus, cheese and other bits.

Dinner: Beef Stroganoff (from the freezer) with pasta.

Thursday

Fed my sourdough starter tonight to mix dough in the morning and bake in the evening.

Lunch: leftovers.

Dinner: Mexican beans with rice, and chilli

Friday

Baking/Making: everyday sourdough with a some rye flour added in, 2 loaves fruit bread, bagels, pizza (see dinner) and . And while the oven was on - a batch of marmalade based muesli balls and classic chocolate slice ( without the icing).

Lunch: Nachos - fully loaded. I like to add a heap of extra things on top of my nachos - this instance was leftover beans, coriander, avocado, salsa and . Also, because I'm a fan of the crunchy chip over the soggy chip I melt my cheese directly onto the chips to form a protective layer and then add the toppings - game changer!

Dinner: Pizza - tomato sauce/prosciutto/cheese and kale/preserved lemon/cheese

Nachos.

Saturday

Lunch: Sausage sizzle at my niece's 3rd birthday party

Dinner: Roast pork belly, hasselback potatoes, asparagus and broccolini, served with spiced rhubarb paste on the side. I forgot to take a pic of the amazing looking pork belly! I had a friend over for dinner so went all out....plus a few glasses of chardonnay.

And that was a busy spring week in our kitchen. A few lighter meals coming in as I was chatting . I'm also currently trying to use up the freezer stockpile and all the other random bits and pieces before we move out of our rental in a few weeks.

What's happening in your kitchen this week?
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A Seasonal Shift in Eating

24 October 2018
Many things impact on the way we eat. The seasons of our life and the seasons of the weather all play a part.

As the days get longer and warmer there is a shift in how we eat around here. Soups and hearty stews feature less. Although I always try and squeeze a few last minute soups onto the menu plan when the nights are still cool because I really love soup.

We start to eat foods that feel physically lighter in our bodies. Not, 'light' in the dieting or fat sense but less of that 'stick to your ribs' kind of feeling. Of course salads become a feature, pasta sauces get lighter and lots of dishes that take less cooking become more appealing.

Broad beans from the garden.

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A little news....

18 October 2018
I hinted at a lot of change happening around these parts in my Here & Now post last week. And you also may have noticed I've been a little quiet on the comments and posts - so much going on. So I thought I'd share with you today a little news about things that are in the planning around these parts and the reason I've been stressed and distracted.

We've decided to pack up and travel around Australia in a caravan for a year (or so??).



But first a little back story.....

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Here & Now: October 2018

11 October 2018
October kind of snuck up on me. One minute it was the start of September and then I blinked and we were into October. Just two more blinks and it'll be the festive season!! Craziness really.

Using this month's here and now to take a moment of mindfulness and connect to the present moment as my mind tries to run ahead to the months to come...

Brassicas are going to flower as the warmer weather kicks in.

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Goings on in the Garden: early Spring

09 October 2018
I did mean to post an update late last month but time escaped me! So, I'm combining September and October for an early spring edition of goings on in the garden.

What a difference a couple of weeks makes though at this time of year when the weather finally shifts. There is so much happening in the garden now and the promise of late spring and summer harvests looms.

At the community garden patch I've been renewed in my digging efforts in an attempt to get it all ready to plant out. Plus at the same time wanting to get rid of the last of the couch before the warm weather breaks it out of it's dormancy.

 The broad beans are going well.

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Quick Dinner Ideas for Kids (that generally get eaten!)

04 October 2018
I've always loved cooking. For me cooking is a creative and relaxing activity. However, preparing dinner for kids is a whole other ball game. Cooking dinner for kids when they are hungry, picky and learning to discover new foods is often anything but relaxing.

Currently my girls are at the age where family dinners are a bit difficult with MrGGE's working schedule. On days when we are all home we eat together but it's not always possible....especially when the kids want to have dinner at 4.30pm.

Pizza pre-cooked and pulled from the freezer - a quick crowd favourite.
 

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Camping Food

02 October 2018
Every October long weekend for the past 15 years my family goes camping. We go to the same spot with the same core group of people and often enjoy the same foods, stories and relaxation year after year. It doesn't get boring though, I look forward to it each year.

It's an opportunity to really disconnect. There is patchy to no service, no mod-cons and three days in the Aussie bush. Just a few tents, a caravan and a fire on the banks of the Lachlan river.



One of the things I love about this weekend is the food traditions baked into it (pardon the pun). I think food is such a great connector to time and place. Some of the foods we eat while on this particular camping weekend are not things I normally make or eat at home. Some foods are reserved purely for this weekend alone. This builds anticipation as well as great food traditions.

I thought I'd share a few pics and stories with you about the food from our camping weekend....

For the past six years I've been making a special baked treat to come along to camping weekend. These are a nostalgic flashback from our 80s childhood in rural NSW.  I searched high and low for an authentic recipe that tasted just like the ones we bought from the bakery back in the day. I was pretty chuffed when I found the right one. Enter the mushroom....



Now, you likely haven't heard of these little guys. Not many people have. But they, along with vanilla slice, were my go to bakery item treats on the VERY rare occasions it was on offer as a kid. These days if you find a 'mushroom' in a bakery it's likely to be filled with a lot of artificial tasting mock cream. But the 80s version was mock cream made from scratch - which is basically sugar and butter = delicious. The pastry is a cross between shortbread and shortcrust, there is a dollop of strawberry or raspberry jam in the bottom and a little sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

Each year I make a big batch to take out and we enjoy it with a cup of tea made on the billy for morning smoko (Aussie bush/farm talk for morning tea).

The other tradition-laden meal of our trip is the camp oven dinner. My dad has perfected cooking a big hunk of meat and lots of veg in the camp oven over the coals. No fancy sauces, herbs or even seasoning - just simple flavours and a hint of campfire taste.

In the early years we enjoyed the camp oven for just one meal over the weekend, but lately my dad has been spoiling us with it twice in the one weekend. Bonus.



Also on the menu is the morning fry up of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and tin spaghetti on the side. Toast is cooked over the fire and a cup of tea (or 3) from the billy washes it all down. Lunch is usually a BBQ cooked in an old plow disc with some rustic 'chips' served up with a salad or popped between two slices of bread and heartily enjoyed. There is also often a nice afternoon antipasto platter enjoyed with a few glasses of chilled wine and a game of scrabble (or 3) - my sister & I's nod to our appreciation for foods outside of the 'Aussie tucker' repertoire.

It's great now to see the kids really enjoying the different aspects of the weekend too and starting to get involved in the food traditions. This year my 13 year old niece whipped up some damper batter and we cooked it on sticks over the open fire, slathered it with butter and enjoyed it while trying not to burn our mouths. I feel a new tradition emerging....

How about you - any big family food tradtions outside the normal festive season stuff?
Did you get up to much on the long weekend if you had one?
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How to Make Hummus from Scratch

27 September 2018
Hummus is such a versatile dip. It has so many uses and so many opportunities for variations. It's also simple to make from scratch. Hummus is actually the word for chick pea in Arabic, as well as now being the name that it's pureed alter ego goes by.


Versatile & delicious hummus.

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4 Fave Cookbooks right now

25 September 2018
My cooking style and use of cookbooks has changed a lot since I first got interested in food and cooking back at the . I've gone through phases of having lots of cookbooks, then paring right back again. These days I do a lot of recipe searching online, but I still feel that you can't beat flicking through a book. In fact I love nothing more than settling in with one of my favourite cookbooks or a 'new to me' one and reading like a novel.

My current cookbook collection - only taking up 3 spaces in the bookshelf!

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6 ways to Preserve Oranges

20 September 2018
When we lived in Adelaide we had an amazing Washington Navel orange tree. It was a prolific fruiter and the taste, when the fruit was left on the tree until late in the season, was amazing. Both my girls loved sitting under the canopy of the tree and eating them just like they would an apple. 

The fruit would ripen around late May - early June but would hold on the tree until late September getting sweeter and juicier as it hung around. This made for a great staggered harvest across the whole winter, which was great.

However, after a winter storm or particularly windy day we'd often have a big drop onto the ground. And of course towards the end of the season we were often left with quite a large harvest to deal with. So, I had to build my repertoire of orange uses and ways to preserve them.

Orange tree with potential harvest.

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Birthday Cake Nostalgia

18 September 2018
This weekend we celebrated a little birthday in our house. Of course there was cake and when there is a birthday cake required out comes the classic: Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake book.

I have fond memories of pouring over the pages as a kid and picking which birthday cake I would have next time (and usually the next 4-5 times too). I can remember each incarnation that I was served as a celebration...and the ones I've missed out on too!


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Meal Planning

13 September 2018
Meal planning can be a divisive topic. There are those who love them (hands up over here) and those that aren't too sold.

I think the key, for me, is flexibility. If I viewed my meal plan like a 'must do' then it would not work. The way I find it works for me is thinking of it like an optional guideline - there if I need it but no worries if I want to 'go rogue'.

Cookbooks for inspiration if you need them.

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Here & Now: September 2018

11 September 2018
This week has marked the arrival of true spring weather in Canberra. We haven't had the heater on for a few days in the morning, no frosts and no biting icy wind. I'm sure there will be a regression at some point, but I'm calling it: spring is here!

Spring brings with it such a feeling of pent up energy for me. I think all the things I've thought about and reflected on over the quiet slow of winter are ready to break forth. It sounds a bit trite really but I've really noticed as I take time to cue into the seasons and how I respond I do feel a little like a spring bulb ready to pop out of the ground.

A bush full of spring colour.

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How to Preserve Lemons

06 September 2018
This time of year is citrus season. If you are lucky enough to have your own tree or know someone with an established tree, you can guarantee a glut of lemons at some point over the citrus season. Once established lemon trees are quite prolific.

I was the recipient of a lemon tree for Christmas which is currently growing in a pot and has not reached glut-harvest levels as yet. However, once people know you like to take excess produce off their hands it does have a way of finding you. Enter a fruit bowl full of lemons needing some attention....

A mix of lemons.

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Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding (egg-free)

04 September 2018
It's good to have a few go-to recipes up your sleeve. I like to have a few good desserts to turn to when I have extra mouths to feed or to keep the hungry hordes satisfied if we are having a lighter meal. Bonus points if that recipe can be made ahead, frozen and uses minimal ingredients. Extra bonus for being able to accommodate guests with intolerances and allergies or to simply accommodate a slightly 'barer than normal' ingredient stockpile.



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Signs of Spring

02 September 2018
Today marks the second day of spring and I'm happy to report that it actually feels a little like spring here in Canberra. The breeze is still on the fresh side but doesn't have that icy edge today. The sun is shining, skies are blue and signs of spring are popping up all around.

Spring brings with it feelings of anticipation and hope for me. After the hibernation and stillness of winter there is a wound up energy that starts to make it's self felt. The warm weather makes me long for time in the garden and outside in general. It also has me looking to dig into tasks and projects that I've been reflecting on over the quieter months.

Unidentified spring blossom at the community garden.
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Ham congee

30 August 2018
I first tasted congee on a flight to Europe with a Hong Kong stopover. As is sometimes the case, I was left with no option for breakfast and was served congee. I was a little worried I must admit as several years earlier I had been served Bibimbap in the same situation on a flight and it was a very poor imitation of what is actually a lovely dish. In this case however, the dish was delicious. Which had me thinking - if an aeroplane version of this dish is this good I must give it another go on land. So, on our return flight when we had a few hours stopover in Hong Kong we ventured out for Yum Cha. I was happy to enjoy my second serve of congee and happily found it even better.

A delicious bowl of comforting congee.

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