Friday, 8 April 2016

Jo's Blue AGA: Oh My Apple Pie

Jo's Blue AGA: Oh My Apple Pie: Apple pie, my ultimate comfort food. Whenever I make one I always think,

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Moving time!

Hi all,

I'm looking for something a little bit sleeker and so I'm moving on over to Word Press.

See you there!!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Sustainable Living - My thoughts

So tucked away in a corner is my inner greenie, it has a degree (no jokes) and is often quite worried about how the rest of me is taking our world for granted. It wants the world our daughter lives in to have choice and variety and it wants all the animals to be able to go about their daily lives. It turns out hubby has an inner greenie too, especially when backed by a really good Science documentary. 

This fits in really well with our desire to be out in our small garden whenever possible and we have always grown herbs. We are now growing a bit of fruit and even my Chia and Elderberry plants. We cannot grow our own meat so we need to buy it all and it is really hard to know where it comes from and how it was treated. So with this - and a few doco's - in hand we have made a commitment to our world and hopefully our health.

So today I wanted to share with you a few of our tips and ideas for turning traditional meat dishes into more sustainable dishes... did I say vegetarian?? 

We have 2 ways of doing this, the first is to use half the meat quantity, the second to remove it completely from a couple of the dishes per week. Here are the four ways we do it.

Number 1.

Replacing mince with grated veges, beans and fungi. Now mince is one of those meats I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, you don't really know whats in it, but on the other, using all the animal is much more sustainable then throwing the less pretty bits away. We grate carrots, zucchini/squashes, celery, and anything else we can find and fry them up with herbs. You can add stock powder at this point to if you need the vege's to taste meaty.

Dahl with Kumera, broccoli and flatbread, all homemade
Number 2.
Halve the meat. Do you use the amount of meat you use because that's how it packaged or because that's how much you needed. Do you really need the whole packet of meat? Can you buy better quality and humanely treated meat from your local butcher and spend the same or less by buying half?? 
We use extra mushroom in Stroganoff, Grated zucchinia and carrot in bolognese, and just serve up less of the roast and more roast vege's leaving leftovers.

Number 3.

This brings me quite nicely to using leftovers. We have had the habit of throwing out a lot of food. We've stopped this by having many more "Left overs" nights. Either re-doing last nights roast or freezing and pulling out on those nights where we really just don't feel like cooking.

Number 4.

leave it out!
Do you actually need the meat in that dish?? Do pizzas, risotto, stirfries, pasta dishes or sandwiches really need meat?? I know, they can make them yummier, but quite often I feel these dishes only have meat in them "because we can". Try it.

Caprese pizza - Pinterest it.

No I'm not vegetarian, quite frankly I'm too lazy to be willing to label myself as either Vegetarian or Paleo, but both ways have obvious (to me) benefits not just to the eater but the environment. And vegetarianism has added bonus benefits to the wallet. Try it, half your meat consumption for a fortnight and compare your supermarket bill. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Too Much River Cottage..?!

Well I'm not sure if there is any such thing... but when you find yourself baking bread and ordering elderberry plants on the internet, one really has to ask the question! We already grow all our herbs and now tomatoes, next year we will try more food in our very small space. We also compost everything from coffee grinds to vegetable peelings and have cut our meat consumption in half.

The bread is going ok, my best bakes had the paper stuck to it, I think because it was the cheap stuff? and the loaf I thought was really going to work I forgot to slice the top so it didn't rise properly, but it was nice none the less, kinda like sour dough... So I've bought the River cottage bread book and swapped baking paper for semolina and bought a silicon loaf baking thing. My next loaf is rising now, so fingers crossed. 

and I'm really excited about the Elderberry!! Apparently I'll need to keep it in a pot to stop it getting out of control, but that just means theres a good chance it'll grow like a weed and I'll be making Elderflower cordial and maybe even champagne next year!!

And of course I couldn't resist buying another couple of plants, after all, it was the same postage for up to 3 plants...

Now, where am I going to put the chickens...?!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Healthier lollies after some practice

So I've had a few goes at the gummy lollies now - afterall, I have a whole container of gelatin!

Here are my finding:

Maple syrup has the most sweetness and flavour for the quantity, and it's paleo for those who prefer.

Coconut sugar is also great but turns lighter coloured gummies caramel coloured.

Frozen berries make great lollies

If I put in vanilla I only put a couple of drops, we don't need it.

The gelatin must go into cold liquid...

Lime lollies are like sour gummies and awesome!!

It's all about the presentation, if they look good, they will be more likely to be eaten. Try some natural food colouring from the health food store. 

Put them in a container you cannot see into if you don't want them eaten all at once!!

Green Lime and yellow lychee lollies

My recipe is very basic now, using ratios of:

  • 1/3 cup fruit/juice
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of gelatin
  • about 1 tablespoon of sweet stuff
Mix it all together while cold, let sit for 5 minutes, it should go thick. Simmer for 5 minutes then let cool a bit again before pouring into jelly moulds.
They take about 15 minutes in the freezer. Store in the fridge, covered.


Lime, Lychee and Raspberry Sugar Free Lollies

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Turning the Naked Chef into the Lactose and Gluten Free Paleo Chef

I've always loved the challenge of cooking for various diets and food allergies without anyone needing a "Special" meal. So for our upcoming family reunion I have challenged myself to make a dish that everyone can eat, to the best of my knowledge...

I don't think taste and satisfaction should be sacrificed for dietary requirements, so I'm starting with Jamie Oliver recipes. As he uses whole foods and fresh quality ingredients, he's usually almost Paleo anyway. It just requires some tweaking.

So we start with a favourite that we've been making as per Jamies recipe and taking to paleo events for a while now, the Granny Smith Pork & Rice Salad. It's already lactose and gluten free so we just need to replace the rice and honey (dressing) to make it Paleo!! Easy! So we now have the Granny Smith Pork & Quinoa Salad - dressed with a Maple syrup dressing. Pictures to follow.

  • chopped sea salt and ground peppa
  • 750g free-range pork belly
  • olive oil
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 granny smith apples - cored and chopped
  • 1 handful of shelled walnuts (roughly 50g)
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup (or honey, rice malt, palm sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 orange
  • 300g quinoa (or basmati/wild rice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • a large bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley - finely 
  • Jamie Olivers Granny Smith's Pork & Rice Salad
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 200c. 
Fill a large saucepan with salted water and an ovenproof frying pan put both on a high heat. Slice the pork into 1.5cm chunks. Put a splash of olive oil into the frying pan followed by the pork, bay and rosemary. Season well. Fry and stir frequently for 25 minutes or until the pork is golden and crispy. At this point remove the bay and rosemary and pour away the fat (keep for baking potatoes or something).
Quarter the apples, then remove and discard the cores. Cut the apples into rough chunks about the same size as the pork and add to the frying pan with a splash of olive oil, the walnuts, maple syrup (honey), thyme leaves and the juice squeezed from the orange. Stir well and place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes or until the mixture turns dark.
Meanwhile cook the quinoa in the boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Drain and allow to steam dry. Add the oven ingredients to the quinoa and add a couple of tablespoons of cider vineger to the oven pan and de-glaze the pan. Add this to the quinoa and meat mixture. Add the parsley and spring onions and toss together well. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Jamie Olivers Chestnut Pumpkin Soup

Ok so this next one I haven't tried yet but it looks straight forward enough.

So the only ingredients not usable in this one is the bread and perhaps the rice/pearl barley. The bread could be either left our or replaced with paleo bread, and the rice could be replaced quite successfully I think with cauliflower rice. If you need a little more starch add arrowroot powder or root vegetables such as parsnips.
I also am thinking of taking along some boiled eggs, chia puddings (we love these right now mixed with fresh blueberries), and some fruit. 

So that's my plan, sorry for the lack of actual results, but I was keen to share! 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Healthier Lollies

Lexi is having a birthday soon, well in a few months and I've been wanting to make some lollies without processed sugar for the kiddies. 

I did the usual research, which these days means Pinterest and little else... and come up with a plan! I had thought to use Vegan gelatin but after some reading decided real gelatin might not be that bad for us. 

I decided on making some strawberry and cream Gummies that I found here, but with about half the gelatin and using Palm sugar and Rice bran syrup instead of honey and maple syrup. Next time I think I'll water them down a bit and perhaps use less vanilla, Hubby suggest mashing the strawberries instead of blending to give a chunkier texture - I'll think about it... The blender does actually do the mixing for you so you would need to mix the gelatin in water before adding it to the fruit.

Considering how much natural sweetener these have in them they are still not as sweet as store bought lollies and so it makes me wonder how much processed sugar is really in those sweets and why would let our kids down them by the bowl full?!

Verdict? The toddler liked them but asked for a banana instead of more. *Shrug* who can compete with the awesomeness of bananas?! The adults really liked them and are planning the next batch already!