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.