discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A little bit on the side

I've been in a bit of a food rut lately, mainly the side dishes we have been having have become ho hum.  This week I was a bit inspired by Masterchef.  It's the first season I've watched in some time and I have falled for it hook, line and sinker.  I especially love the mystery box segments.  Seriously, these amateur chefs leave me open mouthed with what they cook under pressure and with time constraints.  How they manage to remember all these recipes they come up with has me thinking are they allowed to bring in a note book or do a quick google of a recipe? What do you think?!
I took up my own challenge and 
here is some of what I came up with this week to have on the side.
Some beans from the freezer with zucchini sliced up with the last of our cherry tomatoes.  Cook with a good knob of butter and a crushed garlic clove until beans are tender.  I added some fresh bread crumbs, parsley, flaxseeds and a good dose of salt and pepper.  This would also be great tossed through pasta, brown rice or cous cous.
This is a duck egg potato frittata.  A friend kindly gave us both chicken and duck eggs.  I was a bit gun shy using the duck eggs but they really were beautiful.  This has finely sliced potato and sweet potato which has been blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes, drained and dried.  They are added to 6 eggs, a splash of soy milk, 3 sliced spring onions and a scattering of parsley.  A few slices of brie turned this into a gourmet delight but some shaved cheddar or parmesan would be just as good.  I served it sliced in wedges ( 8 slices from this frittata) along side our meaty dish.

This cheats cauliflower cheese is a sinch and a sure family hit.  Boil the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain and add to a small oven proof dish.  Grate some cheddar and mix with fresh bread crumbs with some chopped up almonds and top the cauliflower with this crunchy topping.  Bake for 25 minutes in a moderate oven.

And finally my spin on frozen peas.  I boiled the peas with some of our broad beans from summer along with 2 spring onions.  Drain and add knob of butter, fresh mint and salt and pepper, delish.

I hope these inspire you to mix up your sides this coming week.  Have you got any recipes that you make to move away from just plain old steamed veg?

Ciao, Jan x

Monday, 26 May 2014

bean poached eggs ~ it doesn't get more frugal than this!

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm very lucky to have fellow foodies as friends and we love sharing recipes, home grown produce and little things we find on our travels.  We can talk endless about food and are always dreaming up the next meal while still consuming the current one.  I'm lucky that my husband and daughter love doing this too. One of my treasures I was given awhile ago, where these chilpotle peppers.  They come in a  100g tin and are easily added to lots of dishes, giving a smoking kick, but this dish I'm sharing really has to be the simplest yet one of the yummiest frugal meals we have been eating lately.  It's perfect for a Friday night nosh up or when you really, really need to go to the supermarket but just aren't up to it.  These ingredients are a must to keep in your pantry and fridge just for moments like these.

Empty 1-2 tins of good quality baked beans into a fry pan and bring up to a simmer. 
We always have rocket growing so I added a good handful of that to the pan along with 4 eggs or you can add more.
Pop on a lid or wrap in foil if you don't have one to fit and let the eggs poach in the beans until just still runny.
I also added some chopped up feta and fresh basil and a chopped up chilpotle peppers, but it's just as delicious without them.
I toasted some of our crusty homemade bread with a good spread of avocado.
Being a tight arse never tasted so good!

I'm finally getting to one of my bucket list for 2014 and that was to learn to crochet a granny square and hopefully a granny square blanket.  Let me tell you, I need a swear jar.  Goddang it ~ it's frustrating!!! But, surprisingly has me engrossed.  I've been scouring youtube and video based tutorials as I learn best watching.  I'm really enjoying it but haven't mastered it yet, all my attempts have been unstitched and I've still got just a ball of wool....after many trials but practice makes perfect, right?'s a test...who's still doing the 52 week money challenge?? It's week 22 for those that are :)

Ciao, Jan x

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cinnamon and Pear muffins

I've been still quite poorly, hence not much blogging, but I've still been cooking when I can.  Pears are one of my favourite fruit, and it was with so much delight that I found myself with a little bounty off a friends tree.  They are the type that when you bite into the ripe flesh, you have juice running down your face, nothing like fruit straight from the tree.  I made a pear and walnut cake and then also made them into cinnamon and pear muffins so they are nut free ready for the school lunchbox this week.  I love nothing more than the smell of these kinds of goodies in my kitchen, and I'm sure I put a whole lot of love in them to help boost my body along!

Cinnamon and Pear muffins
For the batter/cake
  • 150g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 150g selfraising flour, sifted
  • good pinch of cinnamon, sifted with the flour
With electric hand beaters or a mix master, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Gradually add one egg at a time with a big spoonful of flour to stop the mixture from curdling.  Do that until all the flour is used up.  Line a 12 capacity muffin tray with patty pans, although I only got 9 muffins out of this batter.

You need around 3-4 very ripe pears for this.  Peel, core and slice them once you have made the batter so they don't go brown.  You can also add chopped walnuts on top, and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and caster sugar, equal quantities, over the pears.  Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes, or if for a cake, place in a 20cm spring form round cake tin and cook for around 40 minutes.  You can swap 1/2 the flour for almond meal if you like and you can also use apples, or any fruit that is in season for that matter.  If you are using fruit that is a bit firmer than the ripe pears, slice up and fry in a pan with 25g of butter and 1 tablespoon of sugar until slightly golden, then allow to cool and arrange on to batter and pour the syrup on as well.  They are gorgeous served warm with a good vanilla yoghurt or cream. 

I found these cute vintage muffin cases at Aldi for a few dollars, cute!

My perfect kind of comfort food.
This is the pear and walnut cake before going in the oven.

Lets hope this is the beginning of more blogging as it's nice to be back doing something I love.

Ciao, Jan.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

the land of smiles

Wow, it's great to be home!! I've been away in Thailand, as many of you know, for 2 weeks.  Unfortunately a bug followed me home so I've been very sick with salmonella poisoning for these past almost 2 weeks! Thank my stars I was home when it really kicked in, for obvious reasons.

If I'm honest, I've barely been able to look at these photos without wanting to be sick, let alone blog about it, but here I am back in the saddle :)  I'm not going to bore you all with a lot of fancy words and photos, just a summary and a few of my favourite photos.  I really didn't take that many as I just wanted to live in the moment and not be concerned about the 'set up' of the food to make it look good on here, but I'm sure you'll get a good idea from the few I've included.

So, my spin on Thailand? Well, not to state the obvious but geepers it is unrelentingly hot!! I'm a fan of cooler weather, nothing else needs to be said! We ate some amazing food, the people are so friendly and even though their driving is cray, cray, crazy, there wasn't a minute of road rage or a feeling of being unsafe.  Actually, I felt safe the whole time I was in Thailand.  We never had one bad experience nor did we see any abuse or hassling like you could even just in one of our capital cities.  

What did happen because of the heat is, we were really limited in the amount of time you had out in it as the humidity just zapped the energy from you.  Even so, we had some wonderful market experiences, both edible and merchandise.  We got to see tigers who were well looked after, fat almost, not drugged and in clean enclosures and the 3 month old cubs stole our hearts.  It is bitter sweet for me as I understand why they are kept in captivity but I wanted to let them all out to be free and not touched and stared at by what must be hundreds and hundreds of tourists a week.

I was lucky enough to cook some Thai meals with produce from the markets.  It made me realise how much I love the rhythm of the kitchen and how much I was missing my kitchen!  Although, having a maid to do your dishes and make the beds was hard to leave!

I did come home with a feeling of just how lucky we really are where we live.  We can clean our teeth without missing a beat, eat food without worry (usually :)) of hygiene standards, and live a beautiful easy life, if we chose to.  I had one middle aged Thai lady who did everything from massage, hair braiding and laundry, ask me why would you want to come here to this when you have the most beautiful beaches in Australia.  That really hit a cord with me, we really have so much right at our doorstep.

Lastly, a little shout out to our travelling buddies who live here and some that are living in Bangers, thank you all for making memories with me :D and remember, what happened on tour, stays on tour!

Ciao, Jan

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