Sunday, June 17, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 17th June

Well I've been a bit slack lately, both with blogging and with meal planning. As I've said many times before, juggling study with full time work is pretty time consuming, and I'm glad to say that I've only got four weeks left until I finish work and become a full time student again. While this is a scary jump for us, I am looking forward to having less to fit in in a day! For at least the rest of this year, I will end up with far more time to bake, sew, garden and generally potter around home. The thought of being able to spend the rest of this cold, cold winter snuggled up at home, and not having to drive an hour to work each day is quite appealing! I'll also end up with much more time to blog about the things I am doing, so this space will become much more loved, I hope! I also look forward to a post about some of the delicious breakfasts we have been having lately, after I made an effort to hunt out some new, savory ideas for the cold winter mornings.

In the meantime, here is the next week's worth of eats:

Sunday - Braised leeks with puy lentils and sourdough crumbs
Monday - Organic chicken, pear, kale and blue cheese salad with toasted nuts and honey dressing
Tuesday - Stuffed gem squashes with roasted Brussels sprouts
Wednesday - Organic Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives on brown rice
Thursday - Spicy coconut noodle soup

To Make 
- muesli
- chilli beans for breakfast
- brown rice for breakfast
- scones for lunches

To Do
- soak beans and rice
- soak lentils
- sourdough loaf

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 20th May

I actually wrote this on Sunday and then forgot to post it! Duh. I was sick last week so battled through some essential work things for a while and then spent a few days chilling out with my knitting, my animals and some River Cottage repeats. It was just what I needed! I'm feeling much better now and hopefully able to troop through the last 6 weeks of term with no further issues. After that, I will be a free agent, work wise. I officially have 8 more weeks of employment, and then I will be a student again! Scary, but exciting! Hopefully once I have finished work and only have one major thing on my plate, I will have more time to dedicate to this space, too :)

Sunday - handmade pasta with to-die-for tomato sauce, homemade garlic bread and green salad
Monday - vegetarian bean tacos with a choice of fillings
Tuesday - greens soup (silverbeet, kale, cabbage, leeks, parsley and potato) with multigrain sourdough
Wednesday - sausages, homemade wedges, and beetroot and quinoa salad
Thursday - roasted corn pudding in gem squashes with kale salad

To Do:
- make bread and pasta dough
- make sourdough
- soak beans for tacos
- soak quinoa
- find some new breakfast ideas!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 6th May

Opps, I'm a bit late this week. This will be more like 'what I've eaten', as opposed to 'what I plan to eat'. I still like to jot it down though, for future reference, as I come here when I am stuck for ideas! It is getting much colder here and I am loving having the fire going at night and pouring over steaming hot bowls of Autumn/Winter goodness. Talk around the table tells me it is slow cooker season, and people are dusting them off all over the show! I haven't got mine out yet, but it definitely won't be far away! It's cold and grey today and I'm craving soup, so I think pumpkin soup and fresh bread will be on the menu tonight, after a stretchy delightful yoga class, to iron out the kinks.

Here's the rest of the week's food:

Sunday - slow-roasted lamb forequarter with roast vege mix (pumpkin, parsnip and potato) and sauteed red cabbage
Monday - sausage, roast vege and feta salad
Tuesday - roast pumpkin wedges with barley salad (barley, kale, red onion, garlic and lemon dressing)
Wednesday - curried pumpkin soup with fresh wholegrain rolls
Thursday - a Spanish recipe sent to me by my mother-in-law called 'moors and christians', using black beans, rice and hard boiled eggs!

To Do:
- soak barley
- make rolls
- soak black beans and rice
- make muesli

Sunday, April 29, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 29th April

What an exciting weekend I've had! My 12,000 word research proposal is HANDED IN; Paddy has built me the first of our 6 raised garden beds and I have planted veges in it (kale, rainbow beet, spinach and cos lettuce); we have planted the first two trees (peach and cherry) in our miniature orchard; and I made a delicious batch of croissants for breakfast this morning. Bliss! I have also spent lots of time with lovely friends too. What more could a girl want in a weekend!

This week will see further planting of trees (nectarine and apricot), along with other flowery and herby plants; a birthday dinner for my brother; and the beginning of the next phase of my PhD, the Ethics proposal.

Here's the menu:

Sunday - homemade free-range pork burgers with homemade buns and a variety of fillings
Monday - chickpea and pumpkin tajine and steamed kale with almonds
Tuesday - okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza) with roasted brocolli
Wednesday - vegetarian burritos
Thursday - pizza at my brother's house for his birthday

To Do
- soak the chickpeas
- buy a birthday present
- make wholegrain sourdough
- make muesli

Sunday, April 22, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 22nd April

A busy week at the computer, working away to get my proposal done. It will be handed in on Wednesday for a final check-over, and then I move onto Ethics approval for my project. It is never ending! Luckily, I only have one more school term left of juggling work and study, as I am finishing up at my job in July. A big step for us, especially financially, but for the best really as I need to dedicate myself entirely to my PhD. I've managed well over the past six months, but the stress of it all is turning me into a not very nice person, and I really don't want that to happen!

Anyway, enough about me, here's dinner for the week:

Sunday - chorizo and baked bean soup with homemade ciabatta
Monday - Jerusalem artichoke soup with green salad
Tuesday - baked kumara with spiced millet and greens
Wednesday - roast beetroot and kale salad with quinoa
Thursday - poached eggs over rice (sans tofu) with roast pumpkin wedges

To Do
- wholegrain sourdough
- muesli
- soak oats for porridge (it's porridge season again!) 
- soak brown rice for salad

Sunday, April 15, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 15th April

It will be a busy few weeks for me as I work to get my PhD research proposal and Ethics application handed in. Balancing study with a full-time job is hard work and doesn't leave much time for play! That said, I have a Tupperware party on Tuesday to look forward to, as well as a session next Sunday to 'get my colours done', as well as a complete wardrobe sort! Hopefully this means that the mountains of clothes I don't wear will either be revived or moved on, and my shopping in the future will have some direction. I'm quite excited!

Most of my recipes this week are from this amazing site. I love that you can search by season, ingredient, or type of recipe. Check it out for some amazing whole food inspiration!

Here's the menu for this week:

Sunday - ginger soba noodles with roasted garlic butter zucchini rounds (ok, it's basically a marrow...)
Monday - something from Paddy's brain
Tuesday - sushi bowl with organic chicken, avocado, brown rice and spring onions
Wednesday - red lentil soup with lemon and kale with wholemeal chapatis
Thursday -  lemony chickpea stirfry (minus the tofu)

To Do
- soak brown rice
- soak chickpeas
- make chapati dough
- make wholegrain sourdough

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

This is not so much of a recipe as it is a 'here are some things to put in a bowl together'. Paddy and I have been craving Vietnamese food since we went to a delicious, cheap and cheerful restaurant for tea a few weeks ago, and a lovely friend of mine has just gotten back from Vietnam. So jealous!

The beautiful bowl is from my mother-in-law. Isn't it gorgeous!

I soaked some dried mushrooms for a dish last weekend and my friend suggested keeping the soaking water to make soup out of. I decided to try it as the poaching liquid for the chicken for this salad instead. I threw in a cinnamon stick, some star anise, ginger root and galangal, and it worked a treat! You could definitely mix and match the ingredients to suit what is in your fridge, but the dressing is a must have!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad
- 2 organic chicken thighs, poached in stock or water with star anise, cinnamon and ginger and shreaded when cool
- curly kale (in leiu of red cabbage, which I had run out of)
- diced carrot
- diced cucumber
- diced red capsicum
- fresh corn, cut off the cob
- 1 finely diced medium red chilli
- a generous handful of cripsy noodles
- fresh coriander to taste
- fresh mint (I used Vietnamese mint) to taste

- 1 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp each lime and lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside. Place all ingredients except crispy noodles in a bowl, dress generously and toss. Add the noodles just before serving. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sourdough 101 - Bake your Bread!

Oh hello there.. opps I may have been a bit slack in finishing this series off, sorry... We have had family to stay for the weekend and I have been busy doing deliciously fun things like picnicking, enjoying the sun, supporting pursuits towards my vege gardens being built, eating, eating and more eating. Back to work on Tuesday though, and back to reality.

Anywho, back to the sourdough, Hopefully your starter has been bubbling away and you have been feeding it regularity to keep it alive. I usually leave mine in the fridge during the week and bring it out in the weekend for making by weekly batch of bread. This system seems to work well for me, and I am yet to kill a starter.

Making a lough of bread has a few different steps: making the sponge, mixing the dough, rising the dough, and shaping and baking the dough. Let's start at the beginning:

1. Make the sponge
Before you make a loaf, you need to get your yeasts/starter in optimum condition - this is called the sponge. To make this, I tip my starter into a big ceramic bowl, mix in 100 grams of flour and enough tepid water to make a thick batter, cover with gladwrap, pop in a warm place (e.g hotwater cupboard) and leave for six or so hours. When you go back to it, it should be very bubbly and excited. Scoop out about 1/4 of a cup of starter into a sterilised jar, feed with a tablespoon of flour and a little water, stir and put somewhere safe for a few hours while you get your bread ready.

Bubbling sponge, ready to go.

2. Mixing the dough
I'm about to share with you my own recipe for multigrain sourdough. Now, keep in mind this is an ever-changing recipe, as I make new additions and alterations to it, on my quest for sourdough perfection. This means, it is by no means perfect, but it is pretty darn good, I think. I usually use a combination of whatever seeds and grains I have in my pantry at the time - this loaf was quinoa, sesame, sunflower, chia, flax and pearl barley. The types of seeds and grains will vary the loaf slightly, but I'm not too worried about a bit of mild variation. Feel free to use a consistent recipe if you prefer.

Multigrain Sourdough
250 grams white flour
250 grams wholemeal flour
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar or honey
1 cup mixed seeds and grains
1 Tbsp fennel seeds (optional)

Add all ingredients to the large bowl containing your starter and mix to combine. Slowly add in water, 1/2 cup by 1/2 cup, and mix as you go. The amount of water varies each time depending on the quantities of seeds and grains and the types of flours. I think I used about 1 1/2 cups for this loaf. You are aiming for a soft, slightly sticky dough. Once you think you have enough water added, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and begin to kneed. Turn and kneed the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and cover with gladwrap.

Ingredients, added to sponge.

Mixed to a soft dough.

After kneeding, ready to rise.

Once you've finished mixing your dough, pop the lid on tight on your jar of starter and keep it in the fridge until next week. Like I said above, I find a once weekly loaf works quite well for me, but if you can't manage that, be sure to feed your starter a spoon of flour and a bit of water instead. They are hungry beasts!

3. Rising the dough
Sourdough takes longer to rise than regular dough, and I find the longer I rise it, the more sour it becomes. I usually make my sponge in the morning, mix and need my dough in the evening, and then bake my bread the next morning. You will need to find a routine that works for you.

Place the covered bowl in a warm place (back to the old hotwater cupboard again) and leave for 6-10 hours to rise. The dough should have doubled in size and spring back when you poke it.

4. Shaping and baking the dough
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Turn out your risen dough onto a floured surface and gently shape into a loaf. I prefer a classic cob style with a few deep slashes on top, although I have made this recipe in loaf tins before too. You want to treat your bread gently here as you don't want to knead out all of it's rising efforts. I usually just shape mine, and place it straight on the oven tray. Then, I cut a few deep clashes in the top, spritz it with water (that helps make a thick crust) and sprinkle it in flour or a few more seeds. Place in a hot oven for 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown on top and hollow when you taps it's bum. Again, I find my baking times vary and I'm not sure how reliable my ancient oven is, so I would keep an eye on it. I would always err on the side of over-cooked with this loaf, as it's quite dense and you don't want it to be doughy in the middle.

I forgot to take a photo!! Here is a white sourdough loaf I made last year instead...

And that's it! Sourdough 101! I hope you have enjoyed my perspective on this mysterious creature, and give it a go yourself. It's rather satisfying to make bread using your very own yeast, and I quite like the idea of having one to match my house. Happy baking!

Part one here.
Part two here.
Part three here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 1st April

Last week of term = busy Amy! We also have family coming to stay for the weekend; the house needs a clean and the tins are empty, so it will be an even busier week than usual! I also need to make at least one batch of hot, hot buns! I usually do one batch a year, on Easter Sunday (I never bother with the cross, hence the name). I use a lovely recipe from River Cottage that includes crystalised ginger. Yum! Hunt it down and have a try if you are looking for a new recipe this year.
Here we go:

Sunday - hunza pie with green salad
Monday - coconut cream mushroom cabonara
Tuesday - off to a Tupperware party so a big bowl of kale salad prior to will do me fine
Wednesday - pumpkin and millet cakes with jewel salad (a version of these but with pumpkin instead...)
Thursday - zucchini fritters with homemade chorizo crumbs and green salad

To Make
- weekly batch of muesli
- weekly batch of sourdough (Recipe coming soon. Have you made your starter yet?)
- zucchini chocolate cake (to help use up all the zucchini I have in the fridge!)

Sourdough 101 - Day 3 - 7

Day 1 here
Day 2 here

By now you should have a bubbling bowl of fermenting loveliness and be ready for the next stage - feed and discard. Our yeasty baby needs feeding to keep growing, but we also need to get rid of some of the starter or we will end up with a room full.
The steps we need to follow each day for the next five or so days are this:
  • scoop out and discard about half of your starter
  • stir in another 100 grams of flour and enough water to keep it at a thick batter consistency
  • cover again with glad wrap and put to bed for another 24 hours - it can now live in a draft-free place, at room temperature (maybe on your kitchen bench, out of the sun)
Each day it should get more and more bubbly and start smelling quite yeasty, fruity and sweet.Once it is bubbling away happily and is smelling like a bowl of fermented goodness, we will bake bread!

See the bubbles? That's what we are aiming for!

Part one here.
Part two here.
Part four here.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sourdough 101 - Day 2

If you didn't catch Day 1 - start here!

So, overnight your wee yeasty baby has hopefully been growing and multiplying and beginning to ferment. Have a close look this morning at your starter and see if there is any sign of bubbles. If not, give it a stir and pop it back into it's warm hide-away for a bit longer. If it is - great! Now we begin to feed...

For the next few days we are going to be adding flour and water and discarding a bit of the starter until we are happy with the final product and ready to make our first loaf of bread.
Today you need to:
  • whisk in 100 grams more of flour and enough water to keep the consistency the same as yesterday
  • cover again with gladwrap and put it back to bed
  • check again in about six hours and give it another stir, then leave it be until tomorrow morning
Add flour and water to your bubbling starter
Part one here.
Part three here.
Part four here.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sourdough 101 - Day 1

I've been keeping a sourdough starter for a few years now. It's quite fun - like a little bacteria baby (but the good kind!) that makes delicious bread. I am not as adventurous as some with my starter - those who make crumpets, pancakes, muffins and pretty much everything flour-based with their starters impress me to no end! I am just your standard, one loaf per week gal. So, this is definitely sourdough for beginners! If you want screeds of information and fangdangled recipes, google it, and you will no doubt find plenty to keep you busy!

I made a new starter when I moved into my new house, partly because my old one died, but partly because I like the idea of having house-specific yeasts for my bread making. Yes, I am a little weird like that! I loosely used the process from River Cottage to make my starter. It is quite a lengthy process - give yourself at least a week before you actually get to make a loaf - but I am going to try and break it down day-by-day for you.

To make a starter you will need:
  • a big, ceramic bowl (not stainless steel or plastic)
  • at least 1kg of good quality flour - I use organic wholemeal, but I've heard rye is the best
  • an organic grape (optional, but helps the yeast get going)
  • a warm place

Here's what you do:
  • measure 100 grams of flour and mix well with warm water to the consistency of a thickish batter
  • once mixed, drop a single organic grape in the middle of the mixture
  • cover with gladwrap and leave in a warm, draft-free place (hot water cupboards are ideal)
  • wait

Your mixture should look something like this

Starters take all different amounts of time to get going - mine took a good day or so, but some can be bubbling away within a matter of hours. I would do the above process at night and then check it in the morning to see if it needs a feed.

Tomorrow we will discuss feeding our starter to get it really going!

Please note: it will take about 7-10 days before you are ready to start making bread.

Part two here.
Part three here.
Part four here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 25th March

Due to sickness and other events such as friends visiting etc, last week was a right off meal planning wise! However, I am back this week with a fridge full of delicious veges and a plan. A bit late maybe, but you know, life happens! I've got a yummy salad recipe this week, to help make a dent in that cabbage we all have lurking in the back of the fridge; and the first part of making your very own sourdough starter; so stay tuned!

Sunday - slow-cooked Asian style pork shoulder with jewel salad and roast potatoes, with quince crumble for dessert!
Monday - leftover pork made into rice paper spring rolls with carrot, capsicum, zucchini, coriander and soy chilli dipping sauce
Tuesday - last cooking class of the term, this week it's lamb vindaloo with Bombay potatoes
Wednesday - feta, spinach and roast pumpkin cannelloni with green beans
Thursday - homemade pasta with roasted tomato sauce

To Do
- make sourdough
- make muesli

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Crosswords and juice = my day
I'm not feeling so grand today, I have grown myself a fairly impressive head cold. Not surprising really, considering most of my day is spent getting sneezed on and holding the hands of little people who think it is a good idea to suck their own fingers before touching mine... mmm yum. I always prefer to take a day off work early on in the sickness, than end up being bedridden for a week. I am in that 'not sick enough to spend all day in bed, but shouldn't be around people' phase, so instead of work, today I will read my book in the sun, drink juice and channel health.

Today I have consumed a large vat of juice (carrot, apple, ginger, lemon and orange) and have taken a clove of raw garlic like a pill, to help increase my immunity. I'm carrying around a tissue with Olbas oil drops on it, tucked into my top; and am smearing my poor chapped lips and nose with Trilogy's Everything Balm (my favourite beauty product ever!). I also started back on my vitamin D supplement, which I take through Autumn and Winter, to strengthen my immune system. It usually works a treat, and I hardly ever get sick.

Here is an article I read today about the top 10 immunity-boosting superfoods. Try and add a few of these into your diet, to avoid yuck bugs this winter...

And, a repost from 2010, of my go-to recipe for chicken soup:


I've been feeling like I'm coming down with something these last few days, and I'm not happy about it. I've been on holiday from university for a few weeks now and it just so happens that the week I start back for the most intense stretch of my entire degree, my body decides to get sick. Not impressed body, not impressed.

At the slightest hint of a cold or flu, Paddy and I have a few things we like to do to try and knock back the bugs before they get started. Despite a number of interesting medical ailments, I try my best to avoid going to the doctor as I find they are much too quick to prescribe antibiotics. I much prefer to make my own home remedies.

Lemon Honey Ginger Drink
I used to make my lemon homey drinks by pouring hot water over lemon juice and honey and calling it a day. But, when an old work colleague enlightened me to the glory of juicing the lemon and ginger through the juicer, and then adding honey and hot water, my immune system was never the same again.
For this drink, I juice a whole lemon, with just the skin removed (leave as much of the pith as possible) and a good 2 or 3 cm of ginger through the juicer. To this liquid gold I add a generous helping of manuka honey, hot water, and stir to combine. This tart beauty will definitely make your taste buds tingle, but really does the trick for soothing sore throats and getting lots of vitamin C into your system. It's nice cold too if you are that way inclined. I drink as many of these a day as my bladder can handle.

Healing Broth
A cheesy name, but a definite winner. This recipe is adapted from James Wong's 'Grow Your Own Drugs' herbal medicine book and TV show.

We have been using it for a few years now and it never fails to make us feel better. It would also be easy to make vegetarian, by changing the stock to vegetable, and swapping out the chicken for some lentils or legumes. 

Healing Broth

2 litres homemade chicken stock
1 chicken breast, sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
Mushrooms- as many as you like!
3cm fresh ginger, skin removed, thinly sliced
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 Tbsp goji berries, soaked in hot water
1/2 packet dried soba noodles
Extra garlic and ginger to serve

Place stock, chicken, onions, mushroom, ginger, garlic and chilli in a large pot. Simmer on low for at least an hour. Add drained goji berries and noodle and continue to cook until noodles are al dente. To serve, finely chop 1cm ginger and 2 garlic cloves per bowl, and ladle hot soup over. Garnish with parsley and enjoy! Best served with homemade sourdough, of course.

This makes a huge amount, that feeds Paddy and I for at least two days; by which time, we are feeling better!

Other ideas:
I have been using Vicks to clear chest congestion since I was a child, but with my new awareness of the potential risks of petroleum-based products, I am keen to change to a more natural alternative. ecoMILF has a wonderful recipe for homemade vapour rub using almond oil and peppermint or eucalyptus oil. This sounds like just the ticket to me, so I am keen to give it a go.

With these plans in place, as well as lots of extra water and sleep, any colds we have are generally gone within a few days.

Friday, March 16, 2012

This Week

I'm reading:

  • Many, many academic articles on emergent literacy and teen parents
  • - a rad kiwi taking on New York. Boy does this girl have style!
I'm watching:

I'm making:
  • yet another batch of wholemeal sourdough with many seeds, trying to re-create a loaf from my local Farmer's Market
I'm excited about:
  • impending school holidays... phew!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saving the Harvest: Roasted Tomato Sauce

It's Autumn in my little corner of the world, which means produce is at it's most abundant and it's time to start storing things away for the winter. I have preserved excess tomatoes and fruit for the past few years and it is always such a treat to open a jar of fresh-tasting tomato sauce or juicy peaches in the middle of winter. After weeks and weeks of pumpkin, apples and greens, a taste of summer can be a welcomed change. I am going to do a little series called 'Saving the Harvest', on some of the ways I like to put away excess for the winter.

I was lucky enough to be given a few kilos of organic Roma tomatoes, and as time was short, this batch was turned quickly into three pottles of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer. This sauce is great on pasta, as a casserole base, as a baked bean sauce or as a starter for a multitude of different soups. It's a little more flavoursome than a standard passata, but neutral enough to lend itself to a variety of different meals. This is a very loose recipe, that can be adjusted to suit the quantity of tomatoes you have on hand.

Roasted Tomato Sauce
Ripe, red tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Herbs, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

De-stem the tomatoes and roughly chop in quarters. Place in a baking dish or roasting pan and cover with a good slug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season generously with salt and pepper and a handful of herbs of your choice (I used basil, thyme and rosemary for my latest batch) and toss to combine. Roast in a 180 degree oven for 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally. Once cool, push through a sieve or mouli to remove skin, pour into pottles in serving-sized  portions and freeze. If sieving, the paste left over is also great as a rich flavour explosion to add to pizza bases, casseroles or soups. I freeze this in ice cube trays for easy access to the right amount!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade Muesli

I am keen to keep our grocery bill down, and would always prefer to spend my hard-earned money on local, organic food rather than processed rubbish that has travelled across oceans to get to me. Keeping the food bill down is becoming achievable thanks to a few handy hints:
1. Reducing the amount of meat we eat, and when you do eat it, focus on quality over quantity. We eat good quality, local and usually organic meat once a week and really enjoy it.
2. Make our own cleaners!
3. Not buying prepackaged snacks/treats/junk food. You will not find a single packaged biscuit, packet of chips or whatever else is popular these days in my pantry. My wallet and waistline really appreciates it.
4. Making whatever we can ourselves. Everything from stock to bread to muesli to cleaners. If I can do it myself, I will.

I was shocked recently to find a packet of relatively 'nice' looking muesli is over $6.00 to buy at my supermarket. Checking out the ingredients list, I wasn't too impressed about what I found in it either. Many of the ingredients I didn't recognise or couldn't see a purpose for. I much prefer my own, homemade version for taste, price and piece of mind.

Homemade Toasted Muesli

3 cups wholegrain rolled oats
1/4 cup each of chia, flax seed, sesame seed and sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coconut (any style is fine, I used shredded)
1/2 - 2/3 cup roughly chopped almonds
1/4 cup canola/rice bran/olive oil
1/4 cup honey
Dash vanilla

Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix to combine. Melt together the honey, oil and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until all the mixture is coated and shiny. Spread out in a baking dish and bake at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should be slightly brown when you take it out but it will keep cooking as it cools. Stir it a few times as it cools down to keep the heat distributing evenly. Leave to cool entirely before storing in an airtight jar.

I used to add dried apricots to to the mixture once it had cooled, but now I prefer it as above. I add fresh fruit in the morning with organic yoghurt and milk for a delicious breakfast.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 11th March

Last week went by in a blur of activities - I didn't bother doing a meal plan as I only ate at home once! This week will hopefully be much more subdued as our visitor has left and evening events calm down. I haven't even opened my research proposal this week, which is a bit a naughty. I am aiming for 1000 words per week (not as easy as it sounds while also working a full-time job!) so will have to work extra hard this coming week to make up for it. I am really loving the work I am doing; the worst bit about it is trying to split my brain into work mode and writing mode; it can be very hard to separate out the two.

Anywho, here's the menu for this week:

Sunday - leftovers! Free-range chicken and vege soup with Chinese dumplings (made with friends last night)
Monday - Paddy special: potato cakes with mushroom sauce and green salad
Tuesday - cooking class: this week it's beef in tamarind sauce with Nonya-style vege stirfry
Wednesday - spaghetti with roast pumpkin, sage, brown butter and greens
Thursday - marrow stuffed with brown rice and veges, topped with tomato sauce and cheese and baked until awesome!

- wholemeal, multi-seed sourdough
- homemade muesli

To Do
- nothing this week, it's all quick and easy!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 26th February

I've been sitting at my computer for the past 4 hours, working away on my research proposal for my PhD, so I am going to make this quick! Luckily it has been a rainy afternoon, so with a purring cat on my knee and dinner bubbling away on the stove, it hasn't seemed like much of a burden at all to be working on my weekend. Next week will be much calmer in our house, as Paddy's play has finished and he is back home at night. I might even be lucky enough to get a night off cooking dinner.
Here's the menu this week:

Sunday - free-range, organic Chicken Marbella with dinosaur kale on brown rice
Monday - vegetarian quesadillas ala Paddy with navy beans, veges, salsa and homemade guacamole
Tuesday - cooking class: this week it's lamb and lentil curry with chapati
Wednesday - spaghetti with tomato, zucchini, lemon and garlic
Thursday - quinoa burgers with corn-on-the-cob and a huge green salad

- wholegrain sourdough (I'm trying to replicate an AMAZING loaf I bought at the market this weekend)
- muesli (recipe to come)

To Do
- soak beans for burritos
- soak quinoa

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Year

It's been one year today, since our lives changed forever. A day of remembrance and a day reflection. Rhys, you are always and forever in my heart.

Kia kaha Christchurch, all my love.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 19th February

Well it has been a week of potentially exciting opportunities... Nothing I can share yet but things look like they may be changing quite a bit around here, sooner than we thought! (No, not a baby!). I have had a fairly lazy weekend, which has matched the changeable weather - housework was done, washing folded, animals tended to, a bit more garden has been taken over by things I want in it, time has been spent with friends, and a lot of blobbing out... Pretty good for a weekend, really. Paddy is in yet another play this week, which means a week of evenings alone at home. Although, my nights are actually quite full now, as I go to the gym, yoga and cooking class on different nights of the week. By the time it's the weekend, I am usually quite happy to be home! However, flying solo means dinners will be quick and easy. Here's whats on the menu this week:

Sunday - a huge salad with mung and adzuki beans, kale, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, capsicum, apple, spring onion, sourdough croutons and a parmesan/garlic dressing.
Monday - fresh corn, capsicum and feta salad with chorizo
Tuesday - cooking class special. This week it's beef with black bean; honey chicken; and steamed fish with sour plum.
Wednesday - wholemeal flat breads with zucchini, feta and lemon topping, and a green salad.
Thursday - mushroom stroganoff with smashed new potatoes and a green salad.

To Do
- soak mung and adzuki beans
- make flatbread dough

- wholemeal sourdough
- peanut butter bliss balls

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I used to be in a rut about breakfast - I would have the same thing everyday because it was quick and easy, and I began to dread it. That is no way to start a day! If breakfast is dreaded, it doesn't set you well up for the rest of the day going well, does it. So, in line with one of my New Year's resolutions (get up earlier), which is going wonderfully, may I add, I have been branching out with breakfast.

Here are some of my favourites so far:
  • breakfast smoothies: blueberries or mango, banana, organic yoghurt, organic whole milk, whole rolled oats, chia and/or flaxseed and/or hemp, and sometimes honey
  • porridge: made with whole rolled oats and half milk, half water, served with banana or blueberries, organic whole milk, organic yoghurt, brown sugar and cream.
  • homemade muesli: mix whole rolled oats, chopped almonds, seeds (sunflower/pumpkin/sesame) chia and  flaxseeds with honey and olive oil and toast until brown, add chopped dried apricots and serve with organic milk and yoghurt and fruit
  • Japanese breakfast: brown rice with tinned tuna, mayonnaise, avocado and lemon. Sometimes with a cup of miso soup too
  • wholemeal or spelt sourdough toast with butter and homemade preserves, and chopped up seasonal fruit
  • green smoothy: banana, blueberries, greens and water
  • poached eggs on wholemeal or spelt sourdough with wilted greens, butter, lemon, salt and pepper
I usually have a cup of tea with breakfast too, which varies from day to day. As I have a long drive to work, I sip a hot water and lemon drink. I have also recently purchased a wide mouth drink bottle, so I plan on taking a green juice on my drive to work each morning too. I can't get enough of those greens!

Any awesome breakfast ideas I'm missing out on?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 12th February

It's been another busy week here, with a new arrival to our family - an SPCA cat called Lola. She is possibly the most affectionate cat you will ever meet (she pretty much adopted me herself), cheeky, and soft as a cloud! Since I can't have any children for at least the next wee while due to study commitments, animals are providing a good distraction (even though it seems like EVERYONE is pregnant at the moment!).

Sunday - off to the Chinese Lantern Festival, so something yummy from a stall
Monday - tom kha gai soup with organic chicken thighs, greens, red cabbage and capsicum
Tuesday - cooking class special: chicken gulai with carrot and cucumber salad (both Malaysian)
Wednesday - penne with mashed courgettes, basil and parmesan, and kale salad with apples and blue cheese
Thursday - vegetarian bean burritos with green salad

- more bliss balls (these are amazing!)
- wholemeal sourdough

To Do
- soak beans for burritos
- make chicken stock for tom kha gai

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blackcurrant Tea

1. Pick some blackcurrants or acquire some from a lovely friend or neighbour.
2. Add them to your favourite tea cup and cover with boiling water.
3. Allow to steep for a few minutes, then relax and enjoy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 5th February

It's a long weekend in NZ and I am LOVING having an extra day ahead of me before work starts. Last night was our house-warming, and it was so nice to see our new place filled with lots of our most special friends. I love entertaining, and I know that was the first of many, many to come! Today I have had a very lazy day, catching up with friends, and then blobbing out with my favourite TV series'. I don't usually watch TV as a habit, but I do have a few shows that I love. It's my own form of escapism, and a dreary, grey day in Christchurch is a good time to escape.

I'm doing a cooking class this term with a few friends, so every Tuesday my dinner will be something delicious and Asian-inspired from class. I'll be sure to share a few treats!

A new goal for me is to take more food to work. I usually take leftovers for lunch but never any snacks, so by lunchtime I'm starving (I have breakfast at 6.30am) and by home time I'm exhausted (not good when facing an hour long drive home). I stocked up on fruit at the farmer's market this weekend, and I plan on making some bliss balls and taking chopped veges and hummus too. This will be good, as it will also force me to step away from my work for more than just 15 minutes over lunch.

Sunday - fresh spring rolls with chicken, carrot, cucumber, capsicum, lettuce, basil and a soy chilli dipping sauce
Monday - roast baby beetroot and feta salad with lentils and greens
Tuesday - cooking class special
Wednesday - garlic and thyme quinoa patties with kale salad
Thursday - spicy pork noodles with green salad

- wholemeal sourdough (I made new batch of starter for my new house!)
- bliss balls

To Do
- soak lentils
- make hummus for snacking on
- chop some veges for on-hand snacks (carrot, celery, capsicum)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blogs That Rock My World At The Moment

The title says it all:

ecoMILF - eternally inspiring mummy stuff. I'm not a mummy yet, but when I am one, I want to be just like Meagan.

Whole Promise - great illustrative photos and yummy whole food recipes.

Sprouted Kitchen - yummy yum yum whole food recipes that I will actually make.

My New Roots - more whole food recipes (can you see a theme here), links and loveliness.

Fig and Fauna - I think this one is relatively new but boy oh boy do I love the photos and the stories - this is actually my dream life. Like, seriously. Major swoons every time a new post is up.

What am I missing out on? Fill me in! xx

Edit: ecoMILF is now this whole family.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

From My Kitchen - Sunday 22nd January

Well, it's been a long time since I have written a meal plan! Now that I am settled into our new home and the work routine is back up and running, it seems sensible to revive this old regular as well. I've had a busy weekend in the garden, getting a rather spacious herb garden established. It's blissful to have all this space, and I am definitely going to make the most of it! Herbs are so easy and cheap to grow and so very expensive to buy. Anyone, no matter how small their garden is, should aim for at least a few pots of the cooking staples (I love thyme, corriander and rosemary). It will save you a fortune and you won't ever find yourself half way through a recipe, without the herb in question.

Sunday - everything-in-the-fridge vege soup with cheesy spelt rolls
Monday - broccoli, mint and feta sauce with penne pasta
Tuesday - satay noodles with seasonal veges
Wednesday - vegetarian Tom Yum soup
Thursday - zucchini and mint fritters with smashed new potatoes and coleslaw

- banana, chocolate, chia and oat biscuits

Thursday, January 12, 2012

House - Installment One

As much as I love our darling wee house, there are things I definitely can't wait to change - like the kitchen! However, this may be a while. So, in the meantime, I am focussing on creating pockets of loveliness around the place. Here are a few:

Half of the lounge

Other half of the lounge


Part of the kitchen

'Whare Sweet Whare'

Max says 'hey'
The carpet is in a terrible state and the curtains are not my cup of tea, but it will all do for now, as we slowly save up money to renovate.

The master bedroom is actually my favourite room in the house at the moment. It has a huge bay window that the sun streams into in the morning. I can't wait to get a seat built in, so I can have my morning cups of tea there. The garden requires quite a bit of work, and I can't wait to get stuck in! I am going to have to be very careful to balance my time between house stuff and PhD, as both require substantial attention...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year

Happy, happy New Year to anyone out there still reading this little corner of blogland. I have been gone for quite a while from this space (although MUCH lurking has been done on other lovely blogs), but living in someone elses house with ALL of your belongings packed in boxes makes it very hard to find a little space to be quiet and inspired. While we were suppose to move into our new house a few days before Christmas, this didn't eventuate, due to paperwork required from a City Council currently snowed under by the ongoing barrage of earthquakes Christchurch is suffering. However, Monday 9th January is our day!

I've been lucky enough to have the keys to our new home for the past few days, so have spent a large chunk of time there, with the help of my parents and a friend (thanks so much!!), cleaning (and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning), and getting some of the larger furniture moved. Does any one have a magic way of getting rid of the smell of cat piss??? That is the only thing I can smell in the new house at the moment... yum. Oh the joys of buying an ex-rental!

Our wee 1920s bungalow is definitely a project and I'm still getting my head around the fact that this will take quite some time to get it how I want it to be... But, patience is a virtue and not a skill I currently have, so it will be good for me! In the meantime, it will be a good challenge for me to find ways to make my current space workable, beautiful and homely.

The start of a new year, while entirely arbitrary, seems a great time to set goals. After the year that was 2011, anything has got to be an improvement. Due to the horrible start and ongoing challenges faced last year, I was treading water for most of it. However, some big decisions were made (selling and buying and starting my PhD), so now it is time to get down to business! Here are some of my goals for 2012:
- get up early - 6am please.
- do more yoga - no excuses now I have a yoga studio directly across the road from my house!
- travel - maybe a big call given the other things I have taken on this year, but it's a nice one to ponder.
- become more self-sufficient - vege garden, fruit trees, bees, chickens and making everything I possibly can myself will help with this.
- focus my eating around whole foods - many of the lovely blogs I have found over the holidays have provided delightful and delicious inspiration for this.
- work my arse off on my PhD, and hopefully see the bank balance grow as this takes up a large chunk of my time...

I'll be back in a few days (my new home's internet is not hooked up until Wednesday) for a few photos of my new house.