Saturday 25 July 2020

Kale chickpeas and coconut noodles - and random links

I saw Dylan Moran on tv doing a great comedy stand up session recently.  He said something along the lines that you see the glamourous shower footage on shampoo advertisements and then you look at yourself and you look like a pig in a typhoon in a telephone box.  Likewise this dish looked gorgeous in the supermarket magazine but once I took the fish off (of course) and added my own bits it was ... well ... like the proverbial pig in a typhoon in a telephone box!

There is a lot of noodles around our place lately so I added noodles.  I had leftover roast pumpkin, limes from the tree in the backyard, and ponzu as a vegetarian alternative to fish sauce.  It was more interesting than amazing but I liked having noodles in a different way than usual.  By the way, the coconut cream was a grey sludge and I thought it might be off but when I googled it, apparently that just how it looks sometimes.

It is also that time of year when it is dark early and I lose my mojo for taking photos (and let's not mention the energy sapping effects of lockdown).  So I made no efforts to fancy it up but just shot it quickly before eating.  So I will practice the gentle art of distraction with some entertaining links I have come across lately:

More noodle dishes on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Chow mein (v)
Lo mein (v)

Kale chickpeas and coconut noodles
Inspired by Coles Magazine
Serves 1-3

1 leek sliced
1-2 tbsp oil
1/4 red capsicum finely sliced
100g kale, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2  x 400g tin coconut cream - thinned a little
50g spinach chopped
2 tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tbsp ponzu
1/4 tsp chilli paste
200g pack of pre-cooked hokkein noodles
seasoning - about a pinch or two of salt
shredded coconut, to serve

Fry leeks and red capsicum in oil for a few minutes in frypan over medium high heat.  Add turmeric and kale for a few minutes.  Lastly add coconut cream (mine was really thick so I thinned it a bit with a drizzle of milk or water), spinach, lime juice, ponzu, chilli paste and hokkien noodles.  Season to taste.  Bring to the boil and stir to make sure the flavours are mixed through.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut and serve.

On the Stereo:
Franz Ferdinand - self titled album

Sunday 19 July 2020

Red and green smoothie bowls

It is the last day before school goes back for Term 3.  Sylvia and I had a lazy morning playing with our food.  Smoothie bowls are so much fun!  Because we have Christmas in July on our minds we decided to do red and green smoothie bowls.  Double the fun!
We decided we needed the smoothies thick for the toppings to sit on but mine was thin no matter what I did.  I think my mistake was to start off with too much milk.  Most fun was using a spoon to drop dots of Sylvia's red smoothie and dragging a skewer through to make leaf shapes.

Sylvia did more planning than me and placed her decorations on the plate,  I would advise that.  She also made a kiwi fruit flower that looked cute on her bowl.  And she put in lots of ice and frozen fruit so hers was more slushy and held her decorations better.  After her photo she tipped some of my green in and marbled it.  I did the same with her red smoothie.

We are going slow this morning but have lots to do.  My bread has been slowly rising, my kombucha need decanting, the house needs cleaning and I got to get onto the Spoonsville craze.  Plus I have plans to make a fruit cake for Christmas in July - not sure if I will get to share it this year but I have been taken by the Insiders Mike Bowers idea of corona virus baubles on a Christmas tree.  Stay tuned....

More smoothies on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
Banana and quince smoothie (gf, v)
Breakfast smoothie bowl (gf,v)
Green smoothie bowl - with pear and kale (gf, v)
Pomegranate and orange smoothie (gf, v)
Raspberry apricot and chia smoothie (gf, v)
Strawberry, plum and orange juice (gf, v)
Tropical orange and carrot smoothie (gf, v)

Green smoothie bowl

kiwi fruit
baby cucumber
lime juice
soy milk

shredded coconut
chia seeds

maple syrup

Red smoothie bowl

orange juice
raspberries (frozen)
blackberries (frozen)
morello cherries (from a jar)

shredded coconut
kiwifruit flower


On the Stereo:
The best of the radio songs: The Church

Sunday 12 July 2020

Carrot Oat Slice and random moments

It was over a month ago I baked this carrot oat slice and haven't baked much since.  Back then, there was a feeling that as we were starting to get out of lockdown, it was uphill all the way.  The diagnoses has reduced to single figures and days with no new cases.  Everyone was hopeful back then.  Sadly life can change quickly these days.  One week of alarmingly rising numbers is all it takes to catapult us back into lockdown.  So I am writing this with a more sombre tone than I expected when I baked the slice.

The slice was made after work when I felt the need to bake but wanted to keep it healthy.  It was made to use what I had in the house.  I have not been using enough carrots or oats or nuts and dried fruit.  I had leftover tinned peaches which seemed as good as applesauce.  I found it quite zen to be chapping up the ingredients (I even chopped the rolled oats to make them into porridge oats) while I watched the third season of Killing Eve.  It is a show I have a love-hate relationship with.  Jodie Comer is fascinating to watching but also horrifying.

It might sound a bit odd to say it, but I loved the slice because it was satisfying rather than amazingly moreish.  It was the sort of slice that I could have for breakfast and snacks and feel better for it.  Which is what I needed after a couple of months of lockdown.  I keep telling myself it is ok that we are going back into lockdown but I do I miss the socialising and being more active when we could get out of the house. 

Then today on Insiders (current affairs tv show) we were told it could be October until we are getting out properly again.  IF the numbers ease.  On Friday, Victoria had 288 diagnoses which is a far more than any daily diagnoses before our first lockdown.  Makes me wonder how many lockdowns there will be.  Meanwhile we have ordered washable masks and are have just heard that kids are back to remote school learning again.  We have proven we can cope.  It helps that we have seen family and friends, and Sylvia's teacher was happy with her remote learning last term.  But it is still a long slog. 

There is a part of me that wants to scream about what I still haven't done: I haven't had a swim for so long, I couldn't book to go to the zoo because I lost my membership number and you don't just walk in any more, I have friends I wanted to catch up with and I missed going to the cinema.  I want to eat out and ride my bike to work and plan travel.  We just need to breathe and know that it could be a lot worse!

Meanwhile as I haven't had much time or energy to post here lately, I am sharing a few random moments:
  • I am brewing my third batch of kombucha.  It is still a mystery to me.  Sylvia thought my last batch had a bitter after taste.  I want it more fizzy.  Perhaps this is why when I picked up my computer to find my kombucha recipe I got distracted and did my tax return instead.  Tax this year wasn't simple with al the working from home time I had to sort out.
  • It seems everyone has developed a new skill in lockdown.  I dreamed of taking up piano again and travelling to the UK this year, but my achievement is darning.  I should not diminish it so.  I have long wanted to know how to darn so I was actually excited to learn how from a video posted by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  I am pleased to have rescued a few favourite jumpers.  Sadly some of them are now only fit for lockdown and not wearing out.  I never said I was an expert!
  • The weekend before lockdown I was lucky enough to have dinner with my family at the Fyansford Hotel in Geelong.  It was great to see my family there (who are luckily now outside the lockdown area.)  We were celebrating my niece's and nephew's birthdays.  As you can see above, we had sparklers not candles on the cake!  I had  soup with some nachos on the side that I was told were starters but they would have served a couple for dinner.
  • It was nice that my neighbours shared some cake they baked in the first lockdown.  A couple of weeks back one of these gifted me some plain flour, caster sugar and icing sugar because although she had made a really good sponge cake (especially considering she had not baked a cake before) she decided she would not be baking another cake.  When we heard we were going back to lockdown, I offered her to take back the ingredients but she said she would buy a packet mix if she baked again. 
  • During lockdown, the library gave us an extended due date for our books.  Last month as the library started to open they were due.  When I gathered our library books to take back, I included the library book that E had given me to read.  When I told him how helpful I had been, he was not so happy because it was actually a decommissioned book he had bought from the library.  Oops!

There are small differences with this lockdown.  Last time it was across the country but this one is just for our Melbourne metropolitan area and an adjoining local government area.  My colleagues who need to be in at work to get on with their projects were locked out of work last time but we have now had permissions sorted for those who have to be there - much to their relief.  Even at home, I have set myself up better than I was at the start of the last lockdown.  And the supermarkets are much better stocked.  I feel happy to see piles of toilet paper and flour and know I can buy it when I need it rather than in some dog-eat-dog act of desperation.  But it is harder to plan ahead knowing that one lockdown was not enough and even two lockdowns might not be all.  I hope there will be more healthy baking ahead and I hope everyone will be careful and stay safe!

More healthy slices on Green Gourmet Giraffe:

Carrot Oat Slice
Adapted from Wee Little Vegans
Makes 36

Wet ingredients:
2 tbsp ground flax seed
4 tbsp water
2-4 carrots, finely grated about 1 cup packed
1/2 cup mashed peaches - or banana
1/4 cup maple syrup

Dry ingredients:
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder

Optional add-ins:
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup prunes, chopped

Preheat oven to 180 C.  Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin.  Soak flax seeds in the water and set aside.  Put together wet ingredients and then stir in flax seeds.  In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients.  Pour in wet ingredients and mix gently, then mix in optional add-ins.  Pour into prepared tin (it is quite a wet mixture) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool and cat into 36 squares, or to sizes you desire.

On the stereo:
The Secret History: The Best of Divine Comedy

Thursday 2 July 2020

In My Kitchen: July 2020

We are halfway across a year that has given so many surprises that I can only wonder what the rest of the year will bring.  In Victoria, July brought us the joys and grief in the Covid19 easing out and then then tightening up lockdown again.  It is frustrating, confusing and uncomfortable.  I am lucky not to be one of the 30 suburbs in Melbourne that has been locked down today.  But there for the grace of God go I.  (See more Covid19 rants here.)  Other than the big C, we have had cold weather, school holidays and soups and preparing for summer by learning to make kombucha.

Looking through my photos last month, I was struck at how little I have been out to eat in cafes and with family.  Most eating is still at home.  I seem to go in and out of cuppa soups where you dump the powder in a cup and cover with hot water.  These ones have been useful on work days and great to warm me up.  I could not resist the bright cheery packaging of these Coles soups.  My favourite is the Asian Laksa.  It is so good.  Just spicy enough to warm me without being too much and the noodles are great comfort.  The miso soup is disappointing (murky brown and not enough actual miso flavour) and the potato and leek soup is nice enough.

Having heard a lot about Alpro from British bloggers, I was keen to try this vegan dairy substitute when I found it in the supermarket recently.  Sylvia drinks much more milk than me and rejected the barista soya milk.  It did not sit well in a smoothie I made.  But it is fine in baking or mac and cheese.  The alpro yoghurt was not the wonderful vegan yoghurt I have been waiting for.  It went into baking!

I really loved the look of these Off the Eaten Path pea and pinto bean chips because they sounded healthy and the name amused me.  I found these crunchy tubes quite moreish and enjoyed the cheddar and chives flavour.

Sylvia close these garlic and parsley mini baguette breadsticks.  They are so tiny and cute with their green, herby, garlicky, buttery fillings.  I think these would be great on a cheeseboard.

There is an amazing profusion of vegan processed food in supermarkets.  I generally don't get too excited.  These smoky cauliflower burgers were really delicious.  I heated them under the grill and kept one aside to crumble for pizza.  The toppings were pizza sauce, baked beans and crumbled burger.  The burger was amazing on the pizza - little crispy chewy nuggets with a hearty smoky flavour. 

Every now and again we buy milo.  So we were interested to see it is now available in a vegan version.  Almost half as much sugar as the dairy one.  No surprise that it tastes much more of cocoa.  Same, same but different!

I don't usually buy Old Gold Chocolate but Cadbury has sucked me in with this Cherry Ripe version that is so good it is almost better than the Cherry Ripe chocolate bar!

I went to Northland Shopping Centre to buy a kit to fix some vinyl rips on a lounge chair.  I had expected to buy it at a sewing and craft shop but found it in a car accessories shop!  While there, I also bought a new plate, a large knife and an eggflip to replace on that had fallen apart.  It felt pretty special to be able to do this.

Sylvia got back to school for a few weeks before the holidays started.  Her lunchbox was never used during lockdown.  At school she bought lots of fruit to serve along with cheese in a wrap, leftover veggie sausages and mini cucumbers.  After a while she tired of this and started to take in noodles in a thermos and hot chocolate in another thermos.

We are always excited when fish and chip shops offer Corn Jacks (as close as I've got to a Vegetarian version of a Chiko Roll).  So I bought a packet from the supermarket freezer and served with oven chips (seasoned by Sylvia with salt, herbs and garlic powder), baked haloumi, roast pumpkin and brussel sprouts.  It was delicious.  I went a bit overboard with baking the corn jacks and haloumi so I eased back the next time I cooked it.

I made Pinch of Yum's Triple Berry Cheesecake Muffins.  They were nice but incredibly fragile and not quite worth all the time and washing up needed to bake again.  There is the berry muffin mixture, the cheesecake mixture and the streusel for topping.  Plus the streusel was so messy over the muffin tins.

I found some brioche charcoal burger buns in the freezer and cleared out some lurkers in the fridge for a burger night.  I made a tofu besan omelet with silken tofu that needed using.  I made a sort of burger with rice, pumpkin, breadcrumbs and seasoning.  Then a bit of lettuce, cheese and relish finished it off.  It was really delicious.

A colleague gave me a recipe for salted caramel brownies.  It required make the sauce for a salted caramel layer.  My first attempt at cooking the sugar to the right colour for the caramel sauce was pretty bad.  We made toffee rather than sauce, much to Sylvia's delight!  When I tried again, I found I had been cooking the sugar over low heat and so by the time it melted, it had cooked quite a bit.  Making caramel sauce this way takes some skill and experience to know how it should proceed and nudge it in that direction.  I am not sure it was thick enough as you could not see the filling but it was a really really good dense rich brownie with salted caramel flavours.  I took it to a family lunch and good some great feedback on it.

Lastly I have started parenting a kombucha scoby.  Cindy of Where's the Beef saw my regret at not having a scoby in lockdown so she gave me one of hers.   So far I have made a bottle of blueberry kombucha in one batch and put another on to brew.  I really liked my kombucha - though it wasn't too fizzy but still feel too uncertain to know what I am doing or what I should expect.  It seems that sort of thing that I just need to get some experience in so I can develop a feel for what works for me.  I had read about kombucha but still needed lots of reading and hope to discuss it with those who have their own scoby.  A friend visited today who has her own scoby so we chatted a bit about what she does.

I was so confused about a starter tea to start making kombucha that I bought this wild kombucha to support my first batch.  I still have some in the fridge that perhaps needs to be a vinegar for a salad.  I would be more keen to try this if the recent cold weather had made me feel like I could never imagine wanting to eat salad again.

I am sending this post to Sherry of Sherry's Pickings for the In My Kitchen event, that was started by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial,  I am grateful to Sherry for soldiering on despite all the upheaval as In My Kitchen is always a fun event. If you would like to join in, send your post to Sherry by 13th of the month.  Or just head over to her blog and visit more kitchens.