Showing posts with label In the Kitchen - Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In the Kitchen - Recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Extending Dishwasher Powder

by Amanda of Live Life Simply

This year we added a dishwasher to our kitchen. It wasn't a decision that we made overnight. We thought long and hard about the pro's and cons of having one and in the end there was more positives than negatives. We use it every second day. I like having a dishwasher.

I have been experimenting with dishwasher powders and tablets, trying to come up with a way of reducing the costs by making our own. I tried a few recipes I found on the internet and also tried halving the dose of a tablet and powder, but I wasn't getting consistent results. One of my Facebook readers suggested a recipe which I adapted and it works brilliantly for me. Because it isn't made entirely from scratch and still uses commercially prepared cleaner I have labelled it an 'extender'. It is tripling the use of one bottle of powder cleaner - saving us money!

This is the recipe I am using and love:

1 cup of Ecostore Dishwasher powder
2 cups of bi-carb soda
1/2 cup of salt

Store in a glass jar out of children's reach.
Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load

Many other recipes use citric acid, borax, essential oils, regular dish washing detergent and a 1/2 cup of vinegar poured into the base of the washer. So far I haven't added any of these to this recipe. Unfortunately homemade recipes don't always work for everybody and little bit persistence and trial and error is required. I'd love to read any recipes you have found work for you!

Amanda x

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


Posted by Bel

Where we live in Australia, it's citrus season.  When I drive along our country roads I see trees laden with bright orange and yellow fruit - in parks, paddocks, beside shops and in backyards.  What a bounty!

Our most successful citrus trees so far, on the farm, are two different varieties of mandarins.  Our children eat lots of mandarins, especially the loose-skin variety - easy to peel and sweet!  We also juice mandarins and make ice-blocks from the juice.  And still there are more on the tree!  Here are some of our favourite recipes...

Mandarin Jam (about 3 jars)
8 mandarins
1kg sugar
3 cups water
Wipe mandarins with a damp cloth, cut them in half horizontally then in half again. Using fingers remove seeds and discard them. Peel away skin and reserve the skins of 4 mandarins. Using a sharp knife cut skin into fine slivers. Place mandarin pulp in food processor, process until pulp is chopped (few seconds). Place pulp in a large pan, add rind, sugar and water – mix well. Mixture should be about 5cm deep in the pan. Stir jam over medium heat until shugar has dissolved, increase heat slightly, boil gently, uncovered without stirring for around 50 mins. Check occasionally during last 10 mins of cooking to make sure mixture isn’t burning on the bottom. Test to see if jam will jell on a cold saucer. Remove scum from surface, pour jam into hot sterilised jars. Seal when cold. Label and store or give as a gift.

Mandarin Muffins (18)
1 cup mandarin pieces, deseeded
1 cup mandarin juice
2 cups wholemeal spelt flour +
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup rapidura sugar
1 egg, beaten
250ml natural yoghurt
1/2 cup macadamia oil
1/2 cup nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 190 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Jucie the mandarins. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, sugar. In another bowl, comine egg, yoghurt, juice, oil. Stir nuts and mandarin pieces through dry ingredients, then add the liquid mixture. Stir only until moistened. Fill lined muffin cups until 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes. Ready when spring back to the touch. Freeze well.

Mandarin syrup (Cordial)
1.5kg sugar (I’ve used white or raw)
900ml water
450ml mandarin juice (or orange, grapefruit, lemon etc)
few strips rind
Bring the sugar and water to the boil – when it starts to thicken slightly, add the juice and peel. Simmer 5 minutes. Strain well into a jug. Pour into sterilised bottles. Seal and label. To serve, mix with chilled water or soda water. Nice as a mixer for cocktails. To enchance flavour, add mandarin (or lemon) juice icecubes to drink – YUM.

To Freeze Mandarins:
Peel, de-seed and freeze in a syrup for use in cooking at a later date. Syrup may be useful as liquid measure in some recipes as well.

Remove pith and freeze sections as a cool treat.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

My kick arse sugar cookies!

by Eilleen

Hello everyone!

Oooh one more sleep before Christmas! How are you all going? Are you feeling excited? Or stressed? This time of the year always brings such a mixed bag of feelings for me, but overall, I'm feeling quite excited over Christmas.

So here's the recipe for my favourite stocking filler - Sugar Cookies...or what I like to call my kick arse sugar cookies.

I originally got my recipe from here: But as usual, I've personalised it a little bit (plus I don't measure so I never get the exact amounts anyway). So here's my version:

250 g butter, softened
250 g white sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of Republica Fairtrade Drinking Chocolate


In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Add drinking chocolate powder and mix until dissolved in the mixture. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour and baking powder. Cover, and chill dough overnight...or a few nights. I get there when I'm ready.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

The dough is usually very cold so I take pieces out it (enough to roll out 2 shapes). Roll out dough on floured surface about 2 cms thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies about 3-5 cms apart on ungreased baking paper.

Bake 8-10 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

And here's why I call them kick arse.....

The graduates of the Ninja Cookie School

The Ninja Cookie School Hospital

Anyway, I wish you all peace and happiness during the festive season!
See you next year!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Chicken and Apple Sandwich Spread

by Eilleen

Hello everyone!

I hope you are having a good start of the weekend (and for those in Australia and the UK, a good start to the long weekend).

With summer around the corner, I've started turning my mind now to quick, no-cook but still filling and yummy meals for myself and my family. I've been googling for ideas and came across the idea of making my own sandwich spreads. I've tried savoury pre-made sandwich spreads from the shops but have yet to come across any that I liked.

Yesterday, it was my turn to contribute to my work's fortnightly morning tea. So I thought I'd give making my own sandwich spread to try it out. Like always, I got the basic idea from various recipes on the net and then just made my own. This is my version of the Chicken and Apple Sandwich Spread (note that all quantities are to taste but I have added approximates):

Shredded roast chicken meat (1/2 the chicken - kids and I ate the other half as...roast chicken..haha)
2 red delicious apples, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 heaped tbsps honey mustard
4 heaped tbsps mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsps ranch dressing
pinch of cumin
pinch of paprika
shallots for garnish

Mix all of the above in a bowl. Serve with your favourite bread! In my case, I used wholewheat mini pita pockets.

Glad to say that it was a big hit at morning tea. I should've made more!

Do you have a favourite sandwich spread recipe or no-cook summer meal idea? I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Spinach & Silverbeeet Quiche

by Jemma at Time for a Little Something

We've just come into Spring here in New Zealand and it is a welcome change in season! I don't mind winter usually, especially being tucked up inside on a cold night with a glass of red wine and a tasty casserole! But it is lovely to see the first daffodils, lambs and of course, the new fresh green vegetables coming through.

You may also have heard about a certain sporting tournament that's currently taking place in New Zealand... the Rugby World Cup 2011 has well and truly taken over our country! There's a great atmosphere here - flags are in shops, offices, on cars and buildings, and our cafes and restaurants are chocka with visitors and locals having a great time.

So with a change in the weather and so much social activity going on here, I thought a nice weekend lunch to share with friends was in order. This spinach and silverbeet quiche is tasty, easy, and pretty good for you, too. Add a simple salad and maybe some crusty wholegrain rolls... and perhaps a bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc! ... and you have a great Sunday lunch. Even better if you can use produce from your own garden.

Don't forget, if you make homemade stock, you can use those odds and ends from the veges, and also the excess liquid that you drain from the greens. I recently read a handy tip from a fellow New Zealand food blogger - she saves all the trimmings from her veges during the week and adds them to a plastic bag in her freezer, then makes a chicken or vegetable stock with them at the weekend. Genius!

Spinach and Silverbeet Quiche
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 bunch spinach, washed, ends trimmed
4-5 silverbeet leaves, washed, white ends trimmed off
2 tsp mustard (I used mild English)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
80g feta, roughly chopped or crumbled
150g light cottage cheese
1/4 cup trim milk, or light evaporated milk
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
4-5 sheets filo pastry
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 180 (c). Heat the olive oil in a large frypan, and gently cook the onion for a few minutes, until softened. Place the onion in a large bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to the heat, and add the spinach and silverbeet leaves. Add a splash of water, cover and steam until the leaves have just wilted. Drain, cool, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Roughly chop the greens and add them to the onion.

Add the mustard, eggs, feta, cottage cheese, milk and parmesan, and mix well. You could add other things in at this point too if you wish - chopped fresh herbs, or pinenuts work well. Season the mixture to taste - for me, the feta is salty enough, but freshly ground pepper is welcome. Set the bowl aside while you prepare the pastry.

Lightly spray a loose-bottomed quiche, flan or pie tin with cooking spray. Place one sheet of filo pastry down to line the dish, spray again and add another sheet, repeating until the sheets are stacked up, overlapping, so that the pan is lined. Fill with the silverbeet and spinach mixture, and scrunch the edges of the filo around to make a nice crust.

Bake the quiche for about 25 minutes, until the filling is set. Serves 4-6 for lunch. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Limoncello - Concentrated Lemoney Goodness

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin and Little Green Cheese

As spring is now upon us, we have an abundance of lemons on our tree. So what to do with all those lemons?  For a bloke who likes a drink or two, my wife had a fantastic idea.  Here is what unfolded.

About 3 weeks ago, Kim (my lovely wife) was ill and tired of laying in bed, so I trundled her off to the lounge room, threw on the blankets, and she started watching the movie Under The Tuscan Sun.

Half way through the movie, the main character, who was eying up some hot Italian lad, was told about this wonderful drink called Limoncello which she proceeded to drink.  Kim then asked if I could make some.  The reply was of course I can!

With lots of lemons on the tree, and a bottle of vodka in the cupboard, I set myself the task of making this luscious lemon liqueur.  After a bit of research on the net, the consensus was a recipe that goes kind of like this.  I borrowed the directions from an on-line cooking site, however I changed the amounts because I didn't think it was sweet  or strong enough.  So here is how I made it.

Limoncello (Gav style)


9 large smooth thick skinned lemons
700ml bottle of Vodka or Grappa
1 1/2 cups of white sugar
2 cups of water
juice of one lemon


Pick the lemons, then grate the rind of all lemons.  Be careful not to get any pith as I am told it will make the liqueur bitter.

Once you have all the rind place in a big glass container that you can seal or otherwise the alcohol will evaporate. 

Then pour in the alcohol and seal the jar.

Let it rest while you perform the next step.

I love the way it changed colour over the course of a couple of hours.  Note the rind sitting on the bottom.  Some recipes state that you must leave it at this step for 30-40 days to infuse the flavour, however, I stumbled across a few Italian recipes that I translated, and they added the sugar syrup the same day.

So add the sugar and water and stir whilst heating on a medium heat.  Bring to the boil.

Boil without stirring for 3 minutes.  You will find the syrup will thicken a little.  Take it off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and let it cool to room temperature.  Do not add the syrup to the rind mixture whilst hot.  You will burn off the alcohol, which kind of defeats the purpose of this drink.

My syrup cooled after two hours, so I gently poured it into the rind/vodka mixture.

I gave it a gentle shake to mix, and left it at that.  Sealed the lid tightly and tipped it upside down to check for leaks.

I popped it into a dark corner in the kitchen where I will remember to mix it by shaking once a week over the course of a month.  Apparently, it is then ready to drink, however I did see recipes that recommended two months.

As for the rest of the left over lemons, I squeezed them and made a drink for Kim.  We are look forward to drinking the Limoncello on a nice late spring day!  I still have a few lemons left on the tree, so Kim has convinced me to go and buy another bottle of vodka to make another batch.  Might try Grappa this time, to make it a little more authentic.  If it is as good as my Cumquat Brandy, then it should be a ripper!

Has anyone else made this liqueur before?  How did it turn out?  Have you tried to make other fruit wines or liqueurs?  I would love to know.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Spiced Meringues with Strawberry & Raspberry Cream

by Jemma at timeforalittlesomething

Nice to meet you all at the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op! I'm Jemma, I live in New Zealand, and I love to cook and bake. I look forward to sharing some local, seasonal, healthy and inexpensive recipes with you.

For my first post, I thought I'd share this dessert recipe with you. I spotted some NZ raspberries and strawberries at our local community market yesterday and couldn't resist. I served them with these spiced meringues for dessert here at home last night, and it felt like our first taste of the warmer weather to come.

I love healthy food, so using cream is bending rules for me! But if you like the look of these, and want a healthier option, you could make the topping by mixing the fruit with low-fat vanilla yoghurt, or reduced fat fromage frais. You can also alter the fruit depending on what's in season near you, or what you have in your garden. Berries work beautifully, and frozen are just as good as fresh. Or how about some rhubarb lightly stewed with a little brown sugar?

Spiced Meringues with Strawberry & Raspberry Cream
Serves 2-4

1 egg white
50g caster sugar
1/4 tsp mixed spice

Cream Topping:
150ml cream
1-2 tsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence (or use extract or paste)
2-3 Tbsp plain yoghurt
about 100g strawberries or raspberries, or a mixture of both

Preheat the oven to 150 (c). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

To make the meringue, whisk the egg white until soft peaks form, and then whisk in the caster sugar, one teaspoon at a time. Once all the sugar has been whisked in, you should have a beautiful stiff, glossy meringue mixture. Whisk in the mixed spice.

Spoon the meringue mixture into mounds on the baking tray. I used this mixture to make two large meringues, but you could easily make three, or even four if you would like to make smaller sweets to serve with coffee. Use the back of the spoon to smooth the mounds into discs (see the photos to get an idea of the shape).

Place the tray in the oven and turn the heat down to 120 (c). Bake the meringues for 50 minutes, then turn the heat off. Leave the discs to cool in the oven. You can do this step in advance - the cooled meringues should keep in an airtight container for at least a day or two.

To make the cream topping, hull the strawberries and/or raspberries. Set aside 2-3 berries per meringue to use as a garnish, and hull the rest. Place them in a food processor and whiz to a puree. I don't mind the seeds in my topping, but if you prefer, you can pass the puree through a sieve.

In a large bowl or jug, whip the cream with the icing sugar and vanilla (use more icing sugar for tarter fruit). Fold the fruit into the cream, and spoon on top of the cooled meringues. Garnish with reserved berries and sprigs of mint.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Organising Information

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

The most common item on my To Do list is "tidy office".  My office is an alcove off the dining room which houses my husband's desk, the kids' laptops, my business stock, my desktop computer and all of our household paperwork and personal finance 'stuff'.  It's only 3m x 3m and has no door - so it needs to be well-organised all the time!

There seems to be so much information coming into our lives - local newspapers, magazines handed on by friends - as well as my couple of favourite mags bought new, books to be read, homeschooling resources, lists, my precious diary, paperwork for my volunteer roles and my business...  And then there are bits and pieces like recipes, notes from workshops and meetings, samples and catalogues from suppliers, birthday cards to send, bills to pay.  Argh!  It's very easy to be overwhelmed...

So, every now and then I clear off the 2m x 2m dining table, which is just beside the office, and I start to make piles of things which need to go in different places to where they have accumulated.  Of course, I could deal with paperwork and other items the day they arrive, but with six children, homeschooling, the farm, the business and LIFE - I am just not that organised.  But I am a little organised, and I will share below some ideas I've found invaluable for keeping track of the paper trail...

Household Notebook
I got the idea for a Household Notebook from  I bought the biggest ring binder I could find - it's the white type with the clear insert cover.  On the spine I used the printable 'household notebook' label from Organized Home, and on the front I inserted a beautiful photo of my garden.  Inside I used a whole box of clear sheet protector sleeves and some plastic dividers I found in our house.  I made labels for the divider tabs - farm, house, me, education, food, family, community, work.  I left a couple of dividers at the back of the folder in case I decide to take on any more roles! All of those pieces of paper I've saved and wanted to keep were sorted and filed into this folder, which sits upon my desk to be grabbed whenever required.  Items in it include maps of the orchard, drawings by children, scraps of poetry, booklets, brochures, handouts, master menu lists the very many other lists...

Garden Journal
I have never kept a Garden Journal, but I wish I did!  I do have maps of trees and perennial plants around the house paddock, but nothing for the vegie gardens.  I searched online for images of Garden Journals, to see what sort of thing I'd like to create, and the options are endless!  From online journals to scrapbooks, meticulous record books and everything in between!  If I had a garden journal, I'd keep a record of which seeds I sow when, and the results.  I'd write notes about frosts and rainfall if I had a system in place.  I'd boast about harvests and preserves in my garden journal.  Do you keep a garden journal?  I'd love to hear about it!

Finance Folder
Our finance folder is a bit like the household notebook, but it's all about money.  It has a beautiful title page with an image of blooming flowers and quotes about wealth.  Then there are a couple of pages of important numbers and details, a printed calendar for the current year for easy reference and a page with the months of the year with regular bills written in their month - insurance renewals, rates, vehicle registrations.  There are sleeves for bills to be paid, my balance sheet summary (I work well with pen and paper, rather than spreadsheets or online budgeting programs), a sleeve for that month's receipts or accounts paid for my business, wish lists for birthdays, bank books for the younger kids' accounts and other taxation, budget and finance bits and pieces.  This is a system I have used for over 10 years and I really like it.  As soon as a bill comes in, or a receipt hits my desk, it is filed in the finance folder.

I like to cut recipes from magazines, receive hand-written recipes from friends, print recipes from forums and websites...  So I bought 4 ring-binder folders last year and labelled them - sweets & baking, meals, preserves and Thermomix.  In each folder I have more clear plastic sleeves and in the Thermomix folder I organise recipes approximately by recipe type - meals, sweets, preserves, dairy, etc.  The folders look great on a shelf in my kitchen and anyone in the family can find our favourites.  They are also a great inspiration at menu-planning time, because every single recipe is hand-picked by us, so there's no sifting through things we don't like in recipe books!  I used to keep a lot of recipes bookmarked on the computer, but with our power outages and internet interuptions, especially in our summer wet season, I have gone back to paper versions.  After creating these folders, I had a big clean-out of unused recipe books, copying the one or two recipes I used from many, and passing them on to others to enjoy and use!

Filing Cabinet
We bought a 2nd hand filing cabinet for next-to-nothing about 18 years ago.  At first it had just a few suspension files hanging in it, and some junk in the bottom drawer.  As our family grew larger and our lives grew busier, the filing cabinet accumulated more folders.  Each year, when I do our tax, I clear out unwanted pieces of paper from the filing cabinet and shred them for use in the chook nests, or to start the fire.  There's something very satisfying about incinerating old bills!  I don't file items as soon as they come in.  Maybe because of the awkward corner the cabinet is in, or maybe because I'm just a procrastinator!  I have a green file folder on top of the filing cabinet which fills with papers to-be-filed.  Every couple of months or so, I file away these papers when having an office clean up.  It's a method which suits me, and the two-step process in fact reduces some of the items filed, as I might put something in the green folder just-in-case, but by the time filing day comes, I realise I didn't need to keep it.

Next post: organising daily information - diaries, calendars, menus and more!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Garden Time Summer Slaw

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I live in cabbage country. Everywhere you see farm fields you're likely to see cabbage. From glaucous blue to raucous red, cabbage is everywhere. That also means cabbage is pretty easy to grow here in the home garden too.

At a potluck one time I had the most delicious coleslaw, and was lucky enough to get the recipe from the cabbage farmer herself. It's light and crunchy, and gets better with age, the perfect dish to have waiting for you on a hot summer day. Featuring a few staples from the garden and pantry, this is the perfect time of year in the garden to make this easy slaw.


1 Medium head of cabbage, shredded or chopped fine.
2 – 3 carrots, grated.
1 medium sweet onion, grated.
1 green pepper, grated.
1 Tablespoon salt.
Black pepper to taste.

1/3 cup cider vinegar or strong Kombucha.
1/3 cup olive oil.
1/3 cup sugar or honey.

Mix first 5 ingredients, and let sit while you: heat vinegar, oil and sugar to just boiling. Pour over slaw. Mix well and refrigerate at least 2 hours before eating. The original recipe says it will keep six weeks in the fridge, but it never lasts that long – I eat this stuff for a mid-morning snack. There is usually dressing left over and I save that and use it on the next batch.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Home Made Pizza

The Saturday night treat at our house is pizza.  Not the horrible takeaway stuff dripping grease and fat, but the kind that Kim and I pitch in and make from scratch.  When we have the right vegetables in season, they smother the top.

First of all she makes the pizza dough, which was simply the same recipe we use for making a loaf of bread.  We through the ingredients in the bread-maker as per the instructions on the pre-mix bread flour from Laucke and set the bread-maker to the dough setting and come back in an hour and a half.  When the dough has finished, she takes the dough out of the pan and rolls it in a little flour and starts to toss it in the air just like an Italian pizza shop.  I wait for her to drop it, but she is very skillful.  Here is the finished dough laid out on a pizza tray with tomato paste all over it.  Lately we have been using organic tomato salsa as the base, which tastes much better than plain tomato paste.

Pizza 002
Next are all the toppings.  Kim sometimes makes a bit of a four seasons pizza (four different quarters) with a big slice for everyone's individual tastes.

Pizza 001

As you can see there is a little bit of everything for everyone.  I grew the tomato, onions, and one of the green capsicums (peppers) in this picture.  Here is the fully dressed pizza with a little bit of cheese on top.  Now that I know how to make mozzarella, we use that instead of grated cheddar.

Pizza 003

Into the oven for 15 minutes on 190C degrees, and then 10 minutes at 170 degrees C or until cooked.  This is what it comes out like after baking.  A little bit crispy on the outsides, but that is how we like it.

Pizza 004

The pineapple is Kim' piece, mine is the circle of tomato, DD is the half a tomato, and #2 son's is the quarter of a tomato.  Very cute, just like the four little bears.

It was absolutely fabulous, and so simple to make.  The next job on my plate is to finish our clay cob oven oven outside which I have been working on.  Back breaking work over the last weekend, but well worth it if this is one of the things we are going to cook in it!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Rhubarb Curd

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

I affectionately call rhubarb "Poor Man's Citrus", but maybe I should call it Northern Man's Citrus. Poor ol' rhubarb, the ubiquitous kitchen garden and sensible farmyard perennial has made its way into the foodie culture. A spring herald around here, and the first fruit abundant enough to be eaten and preserved, tart and tangy rhubarb deserves the attention it is getting; a secret farm wives have known for years.

Faster than you can shake a stick, well not quite, you can pull a few stalks, slice, add a tiny bit of water, sugar and vanilla to taste, cook in covered pan for 10 minutes more or less and you have sauce for...the possibilities are endless.

We have always called this rhubarb pudding, but many call this rhubarb curd. Take your pick, it is delicious, eaten plain or used as a filling for tarts or pies. This dish is common on our table in the spring when eggs and rhubarb are abundant.

Rhubarb Pudding or Curd 5 one cup servings

4 - 5 stalks trimmed rhubarb or enough for two cups of rhubarb sauce.
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
6 egg yolks
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vanilla

Wash, trim and cut rhubarb into one inch slices. Combine rhubarb slices, 1/2 cup sugar and water in covered saucepan. Cook on medium heat until rhubarb is tender - about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Measure 2 cups cooked rhubarb sauce and purée in food processor or blender until smooth.

Separate egg yolks and press through a fine mesh sieve into double boiler (this removes any egg white left behind). Add puréed rhubarb, remaining one cup sugar, butter, and vanilla, whisk together. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture is thick and coats the back of a spoon. This takes about 10 minutes. Spoon into serving size dishes, chill before serving, or not, it is delicious warm on ice cream!

As an aside, I grow the hardier green rhubarb that has flourished on our homestead since it's inception (1881), and have just a few plants of the red variety which have yet to show much growth this cool spring. So as you may have noticed my rhubarb curd is almost tan, which may appear unappetizing to some. Growing up with food coloring in the kitchen cabinet, I have chosen to eschew this practice and present food in my kitchen as it appears. The newer red commercial variety will yield a pretty pink curd, but the taste is the same. Also pressing the yolks through the sieve is only necessary if you don't want a guest getting a tiny piece of rubbery egg white stuck in their teeth. Often when short on time and weary of washing dishes, I skip this step - it's all food.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Baking Basics

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

I taught my children to bake from an early age. I am not really one for baking. I don't like cakes or biscuits much, and really just prefer to spend my time in the kitchen making meals or preserves.

We started with very basic recipes, and from there they've learned to substitute ingredients for health or flavour. They are confident enough to know how to do this and not create an inedible result, which is a skill many adults haven't grasped!

Here are some of the basic recipes we started with...

Cookie Cutter Biscuits

2 tsp natural vanilla extract

250g butter, softened

1 cup raw sugar (or less)

1 egg

2.5 cups plain flour (wheat or spelt both work, wholemeal or white)

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add egg. Beat until combined. Sift flour over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Shape each piece into a ball. Chill until firm.

Roll onto a floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut with floured cutters. Place biscuits, 3cm apart, on prepared trays. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 200 degrees C, or until light golden. Cool on trays for five minutes. Twist if stuck or simply slide onto a wire rack to cool completely. Freezes well.

Variations include adding some coconut (use less flour), icing and decorating finished biscuits, and adding spices and using brown or rapadura sugar.

Bulk Biscuits

750g butter

1.5kg raw sugar

6 eggs

2kg wholemeal flour + baking powder (one teaspoon per cup of flour)

3 tsp natural vanilla extract

Melt butter and let cool. Mix in all ingredients, starting with 1.5kg of flour and adding more if the dough is too oily or wet. Mix it with your hands unless you have a large food processor.

Form dough into balls the size of a 10c or 20c coin. Put on baking tray. Bake at 220 degrees C for 15 minutes. If you like softer biscuits, cook for a shorter time.

Makes over 150 biscuits. Freezes well.

To these you can add carob or choc chips, nuts, coconut, sultanas or other (diced) dried fruit, oats, rice bubbles, etc. You can also add cocoa powder to this mix to make a chocolate bikkie.

Pizza Bases

2 cups wholemeal flour

2 tsp baking powder (omit if your flour is self-raising)

1.5 cups full fat plain yoghurt (or enough to make a dough)

Mix all ingredients, divide into 2-3 balls, roll out on floured surface. We place the bases in the oven which is warming to 210 degrees C (fan forced) at this stage just for a couple of minutes. We then add sauce, toppings and grated cheese and bake until cheese is golden.

To this mix you can add herbs and garlic, parmesan cheese, use fruit yoghurt for a sweet pizza, use different flours... And of course the topping combinations are endless!

Five Cup Cake

1 cup SR flour (or 1 cup plain with 1 tsp baking powder)

1 cup white sugar (or less)

1 cup dessicated coconut

1 cup diced dried apricots

1 cup milk

Combine first four ingredients, add milk. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Pour into greased and floured loaf tin. Bake 45-55 mins at 180 degrees C. Serve hot with a dollop of cream or cold.

So for years we’ve used that 1:1:1:1:1 ratio to make dozens of cakes. We actually usually halve the sugar, so it’s not the exact ratio, but you get the idea! As long as we stick to the 5 cup ratio, and substitute for like ingredients, this cake works. A great cake to freeze, no eggs for those with allergies, easy to make a vegan version too. Try it!

Honey Oat Cookies

475ml honey

2 eggs

300g butter, melted

100ml milk

10ml natural vanilla extract

500g rolled oats

100g coconut

600g wholemeal spelt flour

2 tsp bi-carb soda

1 tsp spices - eg: nutmeg and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Beat together butter, honey, egg, milk and vanilla until creamy. Add combined dry ingredients and mix well.

Drop dessertspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for approximately 12 minutes.

Makes 75 cookies approx 8cm diameter. Freezes well.

Variations include using different dry ingredients in place of the oats/flour/coconut - just aim for the same weight and it should be fine. Ideas include LSA, ground up nuts and different flours.

Carob Fudge Balls (no bake)

Mix together 1/2 cup nut butter (peanut butter, tahini etc), 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup carob powder, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup dessicated coconut (can substitute some sesame seeds here).

Roll the mixture into balls and coat in more coconut if desired. Refrigerate.

You can substitute all sorts of fruit, nuts, puffed rice, seeds etc into this recipe and roll into balls with the carob/honey/nut butter combination and create a variety of different treats.

Sourdough Bread (thank you Mere)

Step 1 - Place sourdough starter into glass bowl, add 4 cups lukewarm water, 4 cups flour.

Cover with woven cloth and a rubber band.

Leave for 6-12 hours.

This mixture will increase in size and have bubbles through it.


Step 2 - Store the removed starter (half a cup or so) in the fridge in a jar for the next batch of bread.

Step 3 - Add flour/s to this mixture (and any other ingredients you like such as seeds, oats, sprouts, raisins, spices, garlic, herbs, onion, cheeses etc) until you can only just stir it in. If you put it into two oiled loaf tins now, you will get lovely, heavy moist loaves.

If you wish, you can add more flour, and put onto a floured surface and knead, and form into rolls or plaits etc at this stage.

Cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 4-10 hours. It will double in size, or more.

Step 4 - Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees. Place loaves into hot oven for 10 mins. Turn back to 180 degrees and bake for another 30-40 mins.

Freezes well!


3 cups self raising flour (or 3 cups flour + 3 tsp baking powder)

pinch of salt

80g butter, chilled, cubed

3/4 cup water

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the water and combine until a dough forms. If too dry, add a tiny bit more water.

On a floured surface, knead dough for a couple of minutes. Form into a round loaf about 20cm across and place onto a greased tray. Use a knife to make a cross-hatched pattern on top and dust with some extra flour.

Bake for 30 minutes at 220 degrees C. The loaf is ready when it makes a hollow sound when tapped. Best served warm, traditionally with butter and golden syrup.

Variations on this recipe include using milk instead of water, adding cheese and herbs, adding fruit and perhaps a little sugar or honey and spices... The sky's the limit really!

Basic Muffins

2 cups flour + 2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup oil

1 cup milk

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Spoon into muffin papers or a greased muffin tin and bake at 180 degrees C for 18-20 minutes.

Muffins are one of the most versatile baked goods to adapt. They never seem to fail! We love to make savoury muffins (omit the sugar, add a little salt, herbs, grated parmesan, corn kernals) and fruit muffins and very wholegrain muffins (which The Dad calls 'horse food') and iced muffins for birthday cakes, and citrus/coconut muffins with a light glaze, breakfast muffins, picnic muffins...

As well as these, our older children make bread rolls, pancakes, pikelets, scrolls and various sweet-treats (especially for parties). We don't buy baked goods (apart from very boring sliced bread), so that is their incentive to bake! And they enjoy it. Most of our recipes create large amounts, and so we freeze some.

See my post on Cooking With Kids for more ideas.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mmmm Eggs

Posted by Bel
from Spiral Garden

Our pullets born here on the farm last year are just coming into lay. And those hens who chose to moult over summer are also laying again. So at last we have an abundance of eggs again. Eggs to make quiche for dinner, to have boiled for packed lunches, to poach and pop onto sourdough toast with cracked pepper and herbs for a delicious brekky... Pink eggs, brown eggs, white eggs, blue eggs, big eggs, tiny eggs and even giant duck eggs sometimes!

Some of my favourite egg recipes are...

Asian Omelette

few cups of cooked noodles
6 eggs (large)
garam marsala, chili or preferred seasoning
a little Massel chicken-style stock powder

Cook noodles as per packet directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Beat eggs with spices and stock powder. Add noodles to egg mix and combine.

Heat a little oil in a heavy-based frypan. Add enough of the mix to cover the base of the pan. As it’s frying, push around the edges so a nice firm ‘cake’ is forming. Once the cake is golden on the bottom, fold in half, omelette-style. Fry a little longer, then flip to fry the other side if you’re not sure it’s done through…

Remove from pan and continue until all the mix is done.

We cut our omlettes in half as we used a large cast iron frypan. We serve them with some plain boiled basmati rice and green vegetables, tamari and some chilli and garlic sauce. Very simple, cheap and filling.

Pumpkin & Spinach Frittata

900g pumpkin, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbspn olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup cream
40g spinach leaves
sprinkle of parmesan & grated cheddar

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Bake pumpkin, brushed with oil and garlic, till tender. Line baking dish with paper. Whisk eggs and cream and season. Layer ingredients in dish & bake for 25 minutes.

Zucchini Slice

400g zucchini, grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1 cup grated cheese
1 cup wholemeal flour + 1tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
5 eggs, beaten
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients and stir. Smooth into a baking tray and cook for 40 minutes at 180 degrees C. Slice and serve. Can be frozen for lunchboxes.


2 eggs
3 tbspn cornflour
3 cups milk
3 tbspn sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix and whisk first 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Place onto heat and keep whisking until it becomes thick and creamy. Take off the heat and add sugar and vanilla and whisk through. Don’t add sugar whilst on the heat or custard will stick to the pan.

You can add cocoa (about 1/2 cup) to make chocolate custard or add cinnamon, lemon rind or other spices for a different flavour.

Do you have a favourite recipe to use up excess eggs?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Home Made Cherry Jam

by Gavin from The Greening of Gavin.

What do you do when your friend gives you a 20 litre bucket full of cherries of various grades for free?

Well you spend an hour sorting through them, keeping the split ones for jam, and the good ones for eating.  Unfortunately, all of the rotten ones, which was about a quarter of the bucket, went in the compost bin and some for the chickens.  Such a shame but I didn't hear a single chook complaining!

So on to the jam making.  Here is about 1.5kg of cherries that were water damaged, with just splits in them that had not turned rotten yet.  They still tasted very nice.

So here was my little system to pit them.  One small bowl for the pits and stems, One medium bowl for the halves and a very sharp little knife. I have since discovered the joy of a cherry pitting tool that makes this task so much easier.  Don't forget to wear an apron, as the juice stains your clothing quite well.

So here is the recipe and method which I adopted from the back of the Jamsetta packet:

Gav's Cherry Jam.


1kg washed and pitted cherries
1kg white sugar (warmed)
50 gm packet of Jamsetta (pectin)
4 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 quarter cup water

1.  Place the cherries in a large saucepan and mash with a potato masher to release the juices.  Add the water and lemon juice and cook gently, uncovered until the fruit is soft.
Note: the pan should be large enough so that the fruit and sugar should not occupy greater the 1/3 of the pan's capacity.  It increases in volume when it boils.
2.  Add the Jamsetta and warmed sugar (place in an oven proof bowl in a oven @150C for 6 minutes), heat gently until dissolved, stirring constantly.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
3.  To test for a set.   Place a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes, remove.  Place a level teaspoon of jam on the saucer and leave for 30 seconds.  Run finger through jam and if set, it should crinkle.  If not boil for a further 3 minutes and test again.  My jam set at 13 minutes boiling.
4.  Once gel point is achieved, remove jam from heat and stand for 10 minutes.  Pour into sterilised, warm, dry jars and seal.

And there you go.  4 jars of the best cherry jam I ever did taste.  I didn't skim the pink fluffy stuff from the jam as I liked the taste of it.  I had some on my toast for breakfast and it was to die for.  Even my wife Kim agreed that it was the best jam I have ever made.  I think I will give up using the bread-maker for jam, as you have far more control over the gel point doing it the real way.  A far superior jam and flavour.

What are your favourite jams and jellies?

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Confetti Bean Jar

by Sadge, at Firesign Farm
My favorite market has a bulk foods section. Buying my dry beans and grains there saves me money, especially when compared to buying beans by the can, couscous by the little cardboard box, or oatmeal in individual packets (less packaging waste too!). Once home, I store most things in a variety of glass jars. It's easy to find and use things, plus I can see when I'm getting low on something. Besides, having everything in sight, as opposed to stuffed into a dark cupboard, makes it that much more likely I'll use it.

I like the way it looks too - so homey - decorative, and colorful too. Dry beans, especially, come in such a variety of colors - lined up in glass jars they can almost look like art. Around here, we usually have a "legume of the week." Each weekend, I cook up a big pot of a different bean soup, and then refrigerate the leftovers. Last week, it was black-eyed peas (for New Year's); this week, black beans; next week, maybe split pea, or navy bean, or orange lentil, or ??? Legumes come in such variety, we can go for weeks without repeating. My husband heats up a bowlful each morning for breakfast on work days. Quick, warm and filling, the fiber in beans keeps his blood sugars level until lunchtime. I'll add a half sandwich for an easy lunch, or it's nice to have something readily available for dinner on days when I don't feel like cooking.

Over time, I've developed a pretty good eye when it comes to buying in bulk. I'm pretty good at eye-balling how much will fit in the jar when I get it home. When I have a bit too many beans though, or a last little bit left in a jar before buying more, they go into the confetti bean jar. When I have at least four cups in there, I make confetti soup.

My Confetti Soup recipe originally came as a gift in a jar. I've since adapted it to put together my own gift baskets. I layer scant cups of black, red kidney, green split peas, white great northern, and brown pinto beans in a quart jar (or just fill with all of them mixed together), and then add a seasoning packet, pint jar of home-canned tomatoes or tomato sauce, and a recipe card.

Confetti Soup (12 first course, or 6 entree servings)

4 cups mixed dry beans (best if some of them are split peas)
16 oz. stewed tomatoes

3 teaspoons beef bouillon powder
3 tablespoons dried chopped chives
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried savory
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf

Sort through beans and remove any stones or shriveled beans. Rinse in cold water. Soak overnight in 9 cups water (or quick-soak: heat to boiling over high heat, boil 5 minutes, remove from heat, cover, and let stand one hour). Drain soaked beans, rinse, drain again.

To drained beans, add 8 cups water and seasoning. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours or until beans are tender.

Add tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf, and serve.