Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Fluffy pancakes and weblinks - work, play, sustainability, cleaning

When I started my blog, I was so tired of all the boring old recipes that I had made too often.  I was seeking novelty and innovation.  Occasionally I find myself seeking a basic recipe and finding my blog lacking.  Of course the internet is awash with basic recipes but one reason I keep my blog is to have a ready and searchable resource of tried and true recipes for my own use.  So today I bring you my latest favourite basic fluffy pancake recipe.  And, because having a blog means I can share whatever interests me, I also have a list of links to articles I have found interesting or useful lately.

As I mentioned above there are some recipes you can find squillions of online versions.  The challenge is not to find a recipe.  The challenge is to find the right recipe for you.  I actually have a basic vegan fluffy pancakes recipe but which one suits you best and then how it suits you best.

Regular readers know I am not keen on eggs.  We don't always have them in the fridge and when we do, I find they don't get used.  So I decided to use some up in pancakes.  As I am not so keen on the taste of them, I sought a recipe with just one egg rather than 3 or 4.  This suited me but I tried the suggestion to put 1/4 cup of batter to make uniform pancakes and then I just reverted to my usual habit of spooning batter into the pan and making a few at once.  My mum always did and I find I always do too.

I have now made these pancakes a few times.  They have been great when Sylvia has had sleepovers lately.  Perhaps the pancakes have been a bit distracting because on her last sleepover, her friend forgot to take home a tooth that fell out.  I kept suggesting Sylvia take it to her at school but she kept forgetting.  Finally she has told me the tooth is lost.  It probably wasn't a great idea to keep it in a tissue.

We serve our pancakes with maple syrup or lemon and sugar.  My mum used to also serve pancakes with butter and sugar but I suspect this has never been popular in my house because Sylvia just doesn't like butter.  As you can see in the above photos, these are light and fluffy and pillowy, just as pancakes should be.

Now that you have made your pancakes for breakfast, you might have cancelled your newspaper subscription like we have and no longer have it in the front yard when you get up on a weekend.  If so and you would like some online reading, I have some fascinating links for you below.

(The drinks in the above photo are from one of the talented cocktail makers at my workplace.)


These handy hints are ones I have tried and found brilliant:


More fun pancake ideas from Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana oat pancakes
Nutella stuffed pancakes (v)
Pumpkin buckwheat pancakes
Spiced carrot pancakes
Spinach pancakes (gf, v) 

Fluffy Pancakes
From Cafe Delites

2 cups plain flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarb (baking) soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk (plus up to 1/4 cup extra if needed)
1/4 cup butter , melted
1 egg
extra butter for frying

Mix all ingredients together.  Heat frypan to medium high heat.  Use a metal spoon to run about 1/2 - 1 tsp of butter over the warmed pan.  Spoon 1 - 2 dessertspoonfuls of batter into the pan.  I usually fry about 3-4 at a time.  When mixture is starting to bubble flip them over and then leave another minute or so and turn out onto a plate.  They are best warm but very edible a room temperature too.

NOTES: I used soy milk and vegan margarine instead of dairy milk and butter.  If you have self raising flour, you could use 2 cups of self raising flour rather than 2 cups plain flour and 4 tsp baking powder.

On the Stereo:
Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters: In the Twilight Sad

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Mum's Kitchen

Today I have some photos of my mum's kitchen to share.  There is a bit of nostalgia involved in some of the old items that I remember from my childhood and just some sharing what is like my second kitchen.  Regular readers will have caught glimpses from time to time.  I found some photos I took a few years ago and have noticed that the fridge  and oven are both updated to a more modern silver now but otherwise not too much has changed.

The kitchen my mum has is not the one I grew up with.  In fact most of my childhood was in different houses but I did spend a few years in this house before I moved out.  Back then it was a bright blue kitchen with the table in the middle, and 4 doors, including a door to a scullery where the sink was and a door to a large walk in pantry.  Great for hide and seek.  Less good for socialising.  While the kitchen was the heart of the house, doing the dishes and cooking could be lonely when everyone else decided to watch the telly.  The only part of the kitchen that was kept when my parents did a renovation about 10 years ago was the wood stove.  It doesn't get used heaps but looks lovey and is fun to use occasionally.  The oven used to be beside the wood stove where the cupboard now is.

In this corner you will see some of the things that makes my mum happy: chooks (hens), music and tea.  Mind you this is her teabag collection for visitors.  She drinks proper loose leaf tea brewed in a teapot.

The current pantry is smaller than the old one.  It isn't big enough any more to have a window but is very handy between the oven and the sink.  It always has dried biscuits (crackers) and usually some home baking, just as it did through my childhood.

We have always had calendars.  My mum often exchanges calendars as gifts with people overseas.  When I was younger my dad used to recycle calendars.  You know how every so many years the days and dates will match up the same.  So as a teenager I sometimes used to see calendars that had my kindergarten noted on them.  It was very odd.  But I miss it sometimes.

My mum loves chooks.  When we were young and lived in the country there was a chookhouse in the backyard.  When we moved to Geelong my mum seemed determined not to have chooks and one year my dad brought her some.  Now she loves them.  They are great for scraps and eggs.

There are a lot of chooks above the mantelpiece.  Mum buys little chooks as souvenirs or is given them as presents.

And of course there are quite a few cups featuring chooks.

My mum has lots of nice crockery.  This teaset is special because it belonged to her mum.

This dish probably could be called retro as my mum has had it ever since I can remember.  I think she might have used it for casseroles but I remember it being used for desserts like apple sponge, apple crumble and chocolate pudding.  The pomegranates are from the garden.

My mum still keeps the icing sugar in the same old coffee jar she has had ever since I can remember.  The top can be a bit difficult to undo but it has given great service.  (According to this discussion Pablo Instant Coffee was horrible.  The jar is quite large and it seems odd for a couple who were never big coffee drinkers.)

I love the thrift in my mum keeping kitchen utensils for so long.  She was given things for her 21st birthday and her wedding and then bought some when they moved out and a lot of this was not replaced for a long time.  This old plastic lemon juicer dates back to my childhood and I have a feeling it is now left the kitchen in disgrace as it had got old and bendy.

Another wonky old piece that goes back to childhood is this fruitbowl.  Looking back I admire my mum for keeping it shiny as well as full of fruit.  It looks a little medieval, which our kitchen never was.  I think this also has gone out, never to return.

We had these white plastic measuring cups all through my childhood.  I helped with lots of baking so I used these a lot.  In the background you can see some of the more modern measuring cups my mum has purchased more recently.

This spoon was a favourite when we were little.  The little dog at the top was called Susie.  We also had a dog called Susie, who my mum ran over while rushing to the school sports on a hot day when the dog was sleeping in the shade under the car.  Then we have a sister called Susie.  I am never sure which Susie came first but we might have told my sister once or twice that she was named after a dog!  (Sorry Susie.)

These pottery salt and pepper shakers were always on the table when we ate dinner together as kids.  I remember the times we accidentally put pepper on our meal and cried and my mum swapped meals with us.  I don't remember regularly salting meals but perhaps we did.  These days we don't have salt and pepper on the table in our household.

Compare this little more recent salt holder to the above salt and pepper shakers.  They are bright, colourful, patterned and allude to other cultures than my anglo-celtic one. I was going to show you a pictures of the fridge magnets on the fridge but it wasn't a great pic.  What I liked about it was all the fridge magnets from around the world reflecting my parents' travel.

My mum has had kitchen beaters ever since I remember.  I think she might have had a stand mixer when I was young but this is an updated stand mixer that gets lots of working out for her popular pavlovas, among other things.

The crockery in my mum's kitchen is quite eclectic, ranging from her marriage to modern day.  Here is a small sample.

This bowl is part of a collection that my mum and my older sister merged which was made by my sister's friend in the 1990s.  I've always loved the bold colourful swirls.  She also has a large wooden sideboard in the living area with lots of lovely crockery in it behind diamond paned windows.

Beautiful ruby red quince jelly is usually to be found in my mum's kitchen.  When we were young she was given quinces by my dad's boss.  Now she buys quinces when they are in season and being sold for a good price.  She still checks quince jelly at markets and shops to check if it is the right colour and consistency.

If I had a dollar for every roast dinner my mum has made I would be a rich woman.  Here is a pan of baked potatoes.  Everyone loves my mum's roast potatoes.

My mum makes lots of sponge cakes too.  They are light and fluffy creations that would make her grandmother proud.  When we were young she sometimes bought sponge cakes from the milk bar at the end of the road but with lots of perseverance she has become a bit of an expert. 

My mum has always been far more keen on spicy food than me.  She embraces new food trends and loves trying new recipes as well as her tried and true ones.  Here is her kimchi.  I confess I have not tried it because it is not really my thing.

She has been baking bread since I can remember but like her sponges, her practice has made it something she produces easily and with great results.  When I made my sourdough starter she took some and has been making sourdough bread ever since.  She bakes it far more than I do and it is wonderful that whenever I stay overnight, my mum's fresh sourdough bread greets me in the mornings.  She uses these bannetons for shaping her bread.

Finally I will leave you with a vase of roses from my mum's garden.  My mum loves her garden as much as her kitchen and usually has flowers around the house.  Her kitchen is a lot larger and a lot neater than mine.  It is often full of activity and visitors.  It is a place where I have always felt at home and learnt a lot.  Thanks mum!

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Sushi with broccoli, edamame and pickled carrots - and the long weekend

The Queens Birthday long weekend is over and we are back in business but it was lovely to have a long break.  Yesterday we pottered around the house and did a bit of cleaning, a ride on the bike and made sushi for lunch.  I was relaxed enough to get creative with my fillings based on what I could find in the fridge: broccoli and edamade in aioli and pickled carrots!  Some photos of the long weekend are further down the post.

After trying pickled radishes recently and then seeing Choclette making pickled carrots, I decided the time was ripe to try pickling carrots.  We always have carrots in the house.  Sometimes too many.  I really loved this.  I think it would be great to make on the weekend and add it to sandwiches I made for work - or even to eat on the side with sandwiches.  The sweet, salty, sour combination seemed to echo the sushi seasoning.  But I knew it was ok because sometimes a vegetable sushi from the shopping centre has pickled vegies in it. 

I wanted some green too because green is good.  Broccoli and edamade worked with some aioli mixed through.  This mixture tasted so good that I could have just eaten it straight from the bowl.  We've been eating lots of broccoli lately≥  I decided it would be good to use it up before buying more.  Only when I went to the supermarket there was no broccoli left.  Luckily brussel sprouts are in season.

Then it was a matter of rolling everything up.  The main challenge here is that Sylvia loves to snack on sheets of nori.  There wasn't much left.  Only one sheet for me to roll up this sushi, despite me having enough filling for two.  I ate the rest of the broccoli mixture and some of the carrot on a crumpet with melted cheese on top.  These mixtures would make a great sandwich filling together if the weather was warmer.

I really loved these sushi rolls.  They were a little messy but so delicious.  I was pleased to manage to roll them up as I often do plain rice in nori for Sylvia and don't bother with filling.  Sadly it might take me until another long weekend to experiment again.  Meanwhile let me share a few photos of the weekend.

On Friday night we had Sylvia's friend for a sleepover.  The usual movie and pizza followed by pancakes the next morning.  I had promised to take them to Coburg Farmers Market after pancakes.  When we got there her friend's dad was there so we didn't need to take her home.  The produce at the farmers market is so beautiful.  I really loved these scarlet carrots.  And now I have played with pickling carrots I think they would look really beautiful if I use these ones.

We have enjoyed going along to the National Celtic Festival for some years and were up for it this year.  Sylvia and I went to stay the night in Geelong with my parents and went with them to the festival on Sunday.  It was a lovely sunny day and there was good spirit as usual.  Lots of craft and food stalls and the sounds of folk music as we wandered about.

We love seeing the Scottish and Irish dancers each year.  This year we were a bit late for the Scots but enjoyed the Irish.  The energy is infectious when they wear the hard shoes and stomp the beat.  The swing of the ponytails and the skirts as the feet move in time is just wonderful to watch.

After the energetic dance we were vicariously exhausted and went in search of lunch.  Sylvia loved the tattie scones and irn bru.  I had a nacho baked potato.  It was nice and looked pretty cool with the corn chip crown.  However it was a bit much sauce for me and I wished I had gone for the traditional as I missed the coleslaw.

Sylvia's had a had choice between the profertjes, doughnuts, and the chocolate fountain.  She went for the cup of marshmallows and strawberries covered in melted chocolate.  I suspect it was the messiest option.  If only I could have taken her to the washing up station for reusable dishes.

We avoided the temptation of the Scottish sweeties.  But there has been some chat of nostalgia about Tunnocks caramel wafers.  There was a stick of caramel fudge that made its way home.

We enjoyed browsing the stall and listening to the buskers, including a small Scottish pipe band.  Sylvia bought a Celtic pendant and my my mum bought a dress.  I really loved the flowers on the tree made of painted plastic bottles.

Meanwhile Sylvia's little bear was the best dressed of all of us. 

We brought home some yo-yos that Sylvia had helped my mum bake.  I wish I had some photos of the excellent dinner my mum made for us on Saturday night: a fancy spanikopita, Masterchef's Whole Baked Cauliflower with Almond Tarator, and apple and plum crumble with custard. 

Finally on Monday we had a quieter day at home to do some housework, eat sushi and go riding around the supermarket carpark because Sylvia is still getting used to her new bike.  She is far more expert at food styling.  Just check out the sushi she prepared for her dad.  I just look forward to when she enjoys some fancy fillings in her sushi.

More sushi recipes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Strawberry sushi with chocolate sauce (gf, v)
Sushi stack with carrot, tofu omelet and avocado (gf, v)
Sushi with sticky walnuts and edamame (gf, v)
Sushi with vegan salmon pate (gf, v)
Sushi rice salad (gf, v)

Sushi with broccoli, edamame and pickled carrots
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe

1/2 cup sushi rice
3/4 cup water
2-4 tbsp sushi seasoning
2 sheets nori

Pickled carrot:
(Adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe and Tin and Thyme)
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp raw sugar
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
1 large carrot, grated

Creamy broccoli and edamame:
1/2 cup broccoli
1/4 cup edamame (shelled)
1 tbsp and 1 tsp aioli

Cook sushi rice by placing in a small saucepan with one and a half times the amount of water.  Place a lid on, bring to the boil and then simmer (covered) for 15 minutes over a very low flame.  Turn off the heat and leave for 5-10 minutes.  When still hot, stir in sushi seasoning, to taste.  Set aside to cool.

Prepare pickled carrots by placing all the ingredients except the carrot in a small saucepan, bringing to the boil and pouring over the grated carrot.  Set aside to cool.

Cook broccoli and edamame separately.  Rinse in cold water after cookingRoughly chop the broccoli and roughly mash the edamame. Mix together with aioli.

Lay nori sheet on a bamboo mat.  Spread half the sushi rice over nori, leaving a line of rice free nori at the end.  Lay a line of broccoli and edamame along the middle and then a line of (drained) pickled carrot alongside it.  Use bamboo mat to help roll rice around the filling from the rice end and finishing with the rice free edge of nori to seal it.  Use a sharp knife to cut in half or into small pieces.

Repeat with remaining ingredients, but I had pickled carrot leftover which is great for sandwiches and salads.

NOTES: for this to be vegan, you will need a vegan aioli or mayonnaise, such as roasted garlic vegannaise.

On the Stereo:
Least complicated: Indigo Girls

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Thai pumpkin, corn and chickpea stew

We have been eating a lot of stews to warm us up on these chilly winter evenings.  It also helps when I am tired and busy and battling a cold.  Today I share a serendipitous stew I made when my mum brought me some chickpeas and pumpkins.

Mum came to visit when I had just roasted big chunks of pumpkin.  I had thought of making sandwiches with the skins but instead we just ate them straight off the hot pumpkin and they were so good.  Once she left I had fun arranging the topping.
I was inspired by Lorraine's pretty soup soup toppings.  Then I decided to use parsley, basil and baby leeks (very like chives) from my back garden.  I love having herbs in the garden because herbs are so ridiculously expensive to buy.  But having them growing means needing to use them regularly to keep the herbs healthy.  This was a perfect way to use up some bits and pieces.  As well as herbs I had a couple of cherry tomatoes that were getting wrinkly.  I added toasted coconut and pumpkin seeds to echo the ingredients in the soup.  The toppings gave the soup some lovely flavour.

So this soup was a great sustainable venture.  I had actually been about to go and buy some vegies to make soup because I started to appreciate what was already available in my kitchen.  Which was a relief on a day when I was low in energy.  As well as using up some herbs, I also ended adding leftover tomatoes and cooked broccoli from Sylvia's dinner to the soup when I put away the leftovers. 

I really appreciated the leftover stew the second night.  I took the day off work and slept all morning and saw the doctor in the afternoon about my cough that has been bothering me and sapping me of energy.  These are the days when leftovers keep me sane.  It was a really hearty stew, full of flavour and very satisfying.  And so pretty to look at.  But let me confess that while I had lots of fun arranging the toppings, it was just for the camera.  The stew tasted just as good with them stirred it.  It is all about taste after all!

I am sending this stew to #G2BGF linky (run by Glutarama and the Gluten Free Alchemist) and Eat Your Greens (run by Allotment2Kitchen and The VegHog).

More Thai inspired dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Corn fritters (gf) 
Easy vegetarian thai curry (v)
Skye's tomato and pumpkin curry with lime and coconut (gf, v)
Thai curry split pea soup (gf, v)
Thai style salad with noodles (gf, v)
Vegetarian Pad Thai (gf, v)

Thai pumpkin, corn and chickpea soup
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
serves 4

800g jap pumpkin (approx)
1 to 2 tsp oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 dessertspoon thai curry paste
3 cups vegie stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 400g tin)
400g tin creamed corn
250ml tin coconut cream
1 cup water, or as needed
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
2 to 3 cups cooked rice

To serve:
1 tbsp each toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted coconut, chopped cherry tomatoes, chives (baby leeks), parsley, basil, according to availability and desire.

First roast the pumpkin with skin on in large chunks with a drizzle of oil and sprinkle of salt for about 1 hour at 220 C.  It is cooked when it is soft if you stick a knife in it.  Trim skin off and roughly chop.  (You can discard the skin but I highly recommend eating it for snacks or putting it in a sandwich.)

Fry onion in oil over medium heat until soft.  Stir in curry paste.  Add vegie stock, chickpeas and creamed corn.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add coconut, about a cup of water, salt and rice.  Check seasoning and consistency and adjust salt and water as needed.

Serve and arrange toppings on bowl or just mix the toppings in.

I also stirred in some chopped tomatoes and chopped broccoli which worked well.  I used a few herbs because they are in my garden but if not then I would only put in a few different ones if they were available.  About 2-3 cups of pumpkin puree or roasted pumpkin could be substituted for the raw pumpkin if you don't have time or inclination to roast it.

On the Stereo:
The Boy with the Arab Strap: Belle and Sebastian