Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

How our cat deals with the those chooks!

Yes, one of our chooks laid this massive egg today.

No, it doesn’t fit in the normal egg box.

Yes, this is our cat and chooks stalking her in the background.

No, Panini is not enjoying their presence one little bit.

Yes, this is Panini inside a mini cardboard box.

No, she is not headless.

Things just seem better when she shuts those chooks out.

Sweet, Sweet Prunes

A few weekends back, our dance team went dancing in Bundaberg. Seven of us were billeted together and our hosts made us feel very welcome (we even had choccies on our pillow!). In the morning we were treated to a breakfast feast complete with prunes to go on our yogurt. I’m not the biggest prune fan, but these tasted amazing. Natasha shared her recipe with us – an old favourite from South Africa.
I made this for something sweet today ūüôā The photo looks gross, but that’s a whole lotta sweet goodness in that pot right there!

Natasha’s Prunes
500g prunes
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup or less of sugar (I used a few drops of Stevia instead)
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cinnamon (organic has 3x more flavour!)

Boil everything in a pot on the stove for 15 minutes with the lid on. Leave overnight.

SUCCESS! Shutting Up Chooks.

After a few forced early morning starts something had to go down – big time!

Chicken drumsticks? Chicken soup? Chicken fillets?

To our horror, our lovely, quiet chooks all of a sudden decided that getting up at the crack of dawn and exploring the yard in a noisy fashion was cool. While exploring, they would spread out from one end of the garden to the other. One chook would be in the box laying her egg while the others busied themselves foraging for insects in the bushes. Then they would decide to check on one another to make sure everyone was accounted for (perhaps they heard me talking about chicken drumsticks, chicken soup and chicken fillets). The squarks and chatter would carry across our yard – back and forth, back and forth. My husband and I would jolt awake, jump out of bed and try to shoosh them – I am petrified of disturbing the neighbours!

So before we prepared to eat them, we decided to try a few things first ūüėČ

Our first plan of action – keep the chooks locked up in their pen until 7am. We closed up the little hole in the wire part of their cage which they could previously wander in and out of from their pen to the yard whenever they felt like it. This tactic didn’t work as the very next morning we experienced the earliest wake up call ever – 5am! It seems the chooks were up and bored from being all cooped up in the pen.

Our second and final plan of action – completely black out the pen. We figured the sun was responsible for letting them know when it was ‘appropriate’ to get moving, so we decided to control the light! Hubby spent most of Sunday making a door and covering the holes with boards. We put their seed and water in the pen so they had something to do in case they woke up early again and we went to sleep with joy in our hearts hoping that this was the solution we were craving. The result was perfection! 7am and no noise. We let them out just before we went to work and everyone went about their business refreshed and happy!

Here is a picture of the new and improved blackened out pen:

This was a dog kennel and hubby added in a laying box, door with latch and covered all the panels inside to stop the light.

The inside of the pen...all covered up and the ramp up to the laying box.

Happy chooks = happy people

So if you have a problem with vocal chooks, make their pen as black as possible!

Sugar-Free, Starch-Free and a bit Dairy-Free

I have been ‘free’ of all these for over 2 months now and I feel so much better for it! For sweetness I am using Stevia, which is a natural plant sweetener. I will go back to using honey, Agave and Rapadura in a few weeks but for now I am happy without.

During this time, I noticed that one of my favourite blogs ‘Quirky Cooking’, which my friend Laura introduced me to, was creating dairy-free, grain-free and sugar-free recipes in a bid to get rid of the colds and sicknesses her family were experiencing. ¬†Her recipes are always delicious, but one of my favourites was her ‘Grain Free Sultana Spice Bread’. I like to heat it up and put some butter on it (which I make in my Tilly Thermomix – told you I was a bit dairy-free…there are some things a girl can’t live without, mainly milk in my coffee!).

So here is the recipe which is made using a Thermomix, but if you don’t have one you can easily adjust. You can find the original recipe¬†here¬†at Quirky Cooking.

1. Grind up in Thermomix on speed 8 for 10 seconds:  200g raw almonds

2. Add the pecans and chop on speed 5 for 6 seconds: 120g raw pecans (or use hazelnuts for a low salicylate version)
   Remove the ground nuts to a bowl and set aside.

3. Place in the Thermomix bowl the following ingredients, and mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds:
Р60g coconut butter
Р1 apple, quartered (no need to peel)
Р5 large (or 4 very large) free range eggs
Р50g macadamia oil (or grapeseed, or other light oil)
Р1 tbspn lemon juice (or 2 tsp apple cider vinegar)
– 3/4 tsp bicarb soda
– pinch of fine sea salt
– 1 Tblspn ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 50g raw honey (optional) – I left this out

4. Scrape down sides and add the ground nuts back in to the mixture, with the sultanas, and mix for a few more seconds on speed 6: 100g sultanas

5. Pour into the lined tin and bake at 160 degrees¬†for¬†an hour or so, until risen and browned; a skewer poked down into the centre of the bread will come out clean when it’s ready.

6. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes before removing carefully from the tin. Pull it up with the paper so you don’t break it. It will firm up as it cools.

Note: If you won’t use it within a day or two, it can be sliced thinly, frozen in loose layers, then when completely frozen, wrapped and kept frozen to use a slice at a time.

Bursting at the Peas

We got back from two weeks of holiday time to find our Honeypod Peas were bursting at the seams with sweet goodness. I had never seen them so swollen before.

Harvesting some swollen Honeypod Peas from our veggie patch.

I was scared they were overdone so I harvested the big ones straight away and left some of the smaller ones (even though they are nice and round too) and ate these biggens for breakfast! ¬†They were so crisp, crunchy and sweet that I couldn’t leave them for lunch.

I still can’t believe how much better food tastes when it is grown by yourself, picked and eaten straight away. It really doesn’t get much better than this and there is no comparison in flavour to the shop variety.

The inside of these peas are awesome.

In other news, I think I need to pull out the entire broccoli plants. When we got home the broccoli heads had all flowered and spread out quite¬†straggly¬†so I had to chop them off completely and throw the top part away for the chooks to devour. Hopefully we don’t end up with broccoli flavoured eggs tomorrow morning – that would be gross. Maybe I will do a little experiment and leave the broccoli in just to see if they will grow some normal heads again…or is it too late?

Any ideas? Do you grow anything in your garden?

Tried & True Learnings From Herb-ing

So I have had my herb garden for a few months now and ready to reassess and replant a few bits and pieces in a couple of weeks. A lot of it will keep producing and will not be touched. I have learnt so much in a short space of time – from pretty much zilch to a few handy tips in owning a herb garden.

Trial and Error Tips –

Flatleaf Parsley – pick regularly otherwise it will grow too big and the leaves will thin out. Don’t be afraid to eliminate your parsley for cooking reasons (oops)….it will grow back, thank goodness.
Coriander – grew really fast for me. Use scissors to harvest and cut at the stems. It grows even quicker in part-shade and gets a nice dark green colour about it.

Rosemary – regularly has to have the chop otherwise it rebels and goes a little haywire. I think I need to get some cuttings to give away for friends who want to grow some. Any takers?

Spring Onion – if you throw leftover spring onion down the back at your fence as ‘compost’, it will grow and you will be sad that it is in the wrong place, but stoked that you have an awesome supply of spring onions for dips that you didn’t even have to plant or care for. I am careful where I throw my old tomatoes now….

YouTube – not a herb, but a very handy tool in working out when and how to harvest your herbs. I enjoy reading books, but I learn much better when it is visual so watching YouTube clips with people actually doing the pruning, planting, and picking really helped me learn.

Next Time –

First of all, I know what I use most and what I definitely need more of! Next round there will be no lettuce (it was a little fickle with where I have my herb garden planted…too much sunshine), but I will try again with the baby spinach (it went a little bitter…), more basil, more flat-leaf parsley for cooking (the curly parsley is great for salads so I have a mix of both), and more shallots (which I kept using before it got to its full potential).

Who knew there were so many types of rosemary? I have no idea which type I planted and they all have slightly differing flavours and growing habits, so next time I will take note of what I have. I also need a little planting calendar to make a mark of when and what I planted. I didn’t bother working out what seasons to plant what, I just did it cause that is the way I roll.

Next time, I will never ever leave my strawberries unattended when the chooks are on the prowl. I learnt this the hard way with my first harvest. Just a few survived to continue growing after the massacre.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter blushing?

A red apple.

Such a simple piece of food, but when you think about it – quite amazing. No human needs to make it, or add stuff to it. A red apple just grows into a hard ball of sweetness, lovely skin, and juicy inside. Straight from God and perfect for our bodies. Not to be taken for granted.

A red apple. One of my new favourites.