.

“Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Monday, 31 January 2011

The best 'Brownies' you'll ever eat !!!









Many times I read recipes & do wonder if it actually tastes good?. Well these do and they're so easy. Here's how to get them off the screen and into your mouth :0)
Ingredients:







1/2 Cup soft butter
1 Cup white sugar
4 Tablespoons (rounded) Cocoa powder
2 large eggs
3/4 Cup plain flour
1 t Vanilla
2 Large Tablespoons Blackberry/Raspberry Jam
3/4 Cup chocolate chunks
1/2 Cup walnuts chopped



Method:

Cream butter/sugar till soft and fluffy, add vanilla.


now add the cocoa and blend well..then add jam and nuts..mix well.


Gently fold in the flour and chocolate chunks..and spread into a square tin lined with baking paper.



Bake at 350F or 180C for about 20 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack..When cool, dust with icing sugar and enjoy :))

I used this wonderful jam..more $$$, but worth it, full of fruit..and divine.












Monday, 17 January 2011

January: Foodie Memories & Home Cooking...

I come from a long line of woman who loved to cook and have wonderful memories of my sweet nana 'Dorothy'. She was always smiling and apart from when she went on her daily walk 'to the shops' to get fresh meat etc, she always wore her apron!! - (handmade of course on her treddle sewing machine). We visited her every weekend, and she'd spend days in advance to present a table that groaned under the weight of baked, sugary goodies. Her old house had a lovely scent, a combination of lavender, old fashioned things and good homecooking. Their always seemed to be a cat sleeping somewhere in the house and in the winter, a glowing fire in the grate. My uncle Allen was her last child and even though he was in his mid 20's, he still lived at home (I think until he was almost 30?) He used to love to taunt us, with his fake rubber hairy spider and inherited his own culinary genuis, making the most glassy, delicious toffee in the world and this unusual spicy soup..a secret recipe :0) So all of us children would beg for hours on end for even just one piece of his toffee. Finally he always gave in :0) He kept it way up high in the top of the hot water cupboard, above where Nana stored the linen. None of us could have reached it - (very clever)... but we never gave up trying, even standing on tip toes on the tallest chair, when he went out..:0)

My mum was always happy in the kitchen too and I remember her making everything from scratch - preserves, jam, baking etc. She also has memories of her grandmothers cooking, but her grandmother was very strict, so that would ruin a 'foodie' memory in my opinion. Food will always be a language of LOVE and JOY to me !!!.

As a child a typical winter dinner consisted of soup, followed by a main dish and then dessert..every night !! and they were lovely puddings too, like Raspberry Tart, Caramel Meringue Pie, Steam Puddings and in the summer, simply fresh strawberries, sprinkled with icing sugar and lots of whipped cream on the side....mmmm..its a wonder we all warn't as wide as houses lol..but maybe the long daily walk to school took care of that.

Anyways.. I'm probably more like my nana when it comes to food, because like her, I also enjoy entertaining and love to cook for family and friends. There's nothing more fun for me than planning a 'theme night' special dinner with friends. My hubby organises the music and we always have a wonderful time, finally closing the night by sending the guests on their way with a little something extra, like more dessert, vegetables from the garden or some homemade preserves.

So to finish I thought I'd share a simple meal I make fairly often. I once served this  minus the 'schnitzel' (just pasta/pesto & salad) as the main in a 3 course meal and it was lovely...I've also added a few pics at the end of some happenings in the garden.. 'Enjoy'

Homemade Pasta and Pesto with 'Crumbed Chicken Schnitzel'



I love making pesto and normally make about 4 jars at a time and freeze it, as its fairly expensive to buy in the supermarket (about $6.00 for a small pottle). Most recipes use pine nuts, but as they cost about $50.00 a kilo in NZ, I normally use raw almonds or raw cashews. Pine nuts do make a more decadent pesto though because of their oily waxy texture, so I would save them for special occasions.

Pine nuts
Ingredients
1. 1 x large bunch of fresh Basil
2. 2 x large cloves garlic - peeled
3. 1 x cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4. 3/4 - 1 cup olive oil
5. Sea salt (1 teaspoon)
6. 1/2 Cup cashew nuts/almonds or pine nuts


Method:


Pick all the leaves off the basil. If it needs washing, go ahead and then put it through a salad spinner until dry.

Add about half of the basil leaves, the garlic and the nuts to a food processor. Chop until fine, then add the rest of the basil and pulse until finely chopped. If using a small processor like mine, it will need to be done in batches.


Transfer to a bowl if making a large quantity, or if the processor has a small bowl. The add the finely grated parmesan.

...gradually drizzle in the measure of Olive oil, and the salt. Stir with a whisk and mix until the desired consistency is acheived.



Adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes, eg. more parmesan cheese, more salt, oil etc, Spoon into small jars and freeze (bably food jars are excellent). I serve this pesto over pasta, spread on french bread, and add it to almost anything involving tomatoes :0)


 Then voila here it is :0) YUM !!!


Fresh Pasta/Noodles

4  large eggs
400g flour

1. Crack the egg(s) into a food processor, and add roughly half the flour. Process for about 15 seconds until the mixture becomes a gummy, sticky mess, then process for another 30 seconds.



2. Add the remaining flour 1/4 at a time, processing for 20 seconds each time to fully incorporate. Once all of the flour is added it should take on the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

3. Turn the mixture out onto a board and push it all together - kneading - to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and stand for 30 minutes before using.

4. Cut the dough into thirds and cover the remaining dough. Sprinkle flour on the one third you are using. Start with the lowest setting on the pasta machine and pass the dough through, Sprinkle with more flour if necessary. Keep on upping the dial, one notch at a time, and flouring the dough as you go...until you get this..



I used some spelt flour too, so thats why mine looks a little grainier. Then fit the fettucine/spaghetti attachment and pass the thin dough through it.


I loosley pile it into little mounds and sprinkle a light dust of flour through. It can be air dried slightly first (I hang it over a broom handle, between 2 chairs or whatever innovative means you come up with).  Maybe make shorter strands if drying it.
This quantity makes enough for 4 people as a main, or 7-8 as a side dish.


If its been air dried, pack it carefully into plastic bags and freeze.

Chicken Snitzel
 Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium chicken breast
Coat and Cook/or Dried breadcrumbs
1 egg & 2 T water (salt/pepper) - whisk together
Rice Bran Oil

Method

1. Cut the chicken breast in half. Lay the chicken between a layer of cling film (top and bottom). Whack with the flat side of a meat mallet, until about 1/3 inch thick.



2. Dip the fillets into the beaten egg mixture to coat both sides.


3. Dip into the coat and cook or breadcrumbs on both sides.


4. Heat the oil, and add the fillets. Turn the snitzels over when the snitzels have whitened around the edges and lightly browned.
5. Cook about 8 minutes more. Check to make sure its cooked all the way through, but still juicy.
6. Drain on paper towles.


This makes 1 chicken breast go a bit further. These snitzels can be served with many different things, a baked potato, the noodles and pasta, or just a simple salad.

The garden and its wonders:

Courgettes.. 

 Some dried Coriander seeds from last summer. I've planted some in pots..so I'm praying they will sprout !!!

thats all for now :0)) CIAO








Saturday, 15 January 2011

My first Aid kit.....

4 things I wouldn't be without and always use.

1. PRAYER !!!!

2. Floradix



Floradix is an Iron tonic made from fruit. I used to give it to my children and my husband  after an illness or id they were just worn out or run down. If taken morning and night as recommended, I always found my energy and vitality was restored within less than a week.

Active Ingredients:


EACH 10ML=1/2 MEASURING CAPFUL CONTAINS: 5.95g Aqueous extract from: carrots, nettles, spinach, quitch roots, angelica roots, fennel, ocean kelp, african mallow blossom, orange peel.3.24g Fruit Concentrate of: pears, red grapes, blackcurrants, oranges, blackberries, cherries, beetroots.1.17g Aqueous extract of: iron fed yeast with absorbable iron 7.5mg and added thiamine (vit B1) 1.0mg, Riboflavin 0.9mg, Vit B6 0.5mg, Vit B12 0.6mcg, Vit C 10.0mg.

Floradix provides nutritional iron and is a biological food supplement which provides organic iron, extracts of carefully selected herbs, delicious fruits, vitamins, specially cultured yeast and ocean kelp. In addition, it contains extracts of wheat germ and rose hips. Iron is an essential dietary factor. Floradix has absorbable iron in the form of a yeast extract dietary supplement. In addition, Floradix contains vitamin B2, B6, B12, and folic acid in an easily absorbable and favourably balanced proprtion. It is especially suitable for women (including expectant and nursing mothers), men, growing children and people whose diet is lacking in natural iron and vitamins
 
3. Tea Tree Oil
 
 
- Tea Tree oil is one of the best things everyone should have in their homes. Its the first defence against allsorts of insect bites (especially mosquito - which can easily become infected), cuts from rose thorns etc.  I'ts also great for pimples/acne and helped my teenage son immensley.

Its a natural antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-infection oil. It is effective against many types of infestations and is not just soothing and disinfecting, it is capable of penetrating into the lower skin layers with its anti-inflammatory, disinfectant, analgesic (pain killing) and cicatrizant (wound-healing) qualities. It helps the skin to heal by encouraging the formation of scar tissue.

and finally...

4.Weleda Hypercal Ointment



All weleda products are excellent, but I find this ointment to be exceptional. I've used their Arnica ointment for bruises and sprains etc and also Combodorum gel for colds (rub on chest).
Hypercal ointment is a traditional, herbal product to help soothe and heal painful cuts, superficial wounds and abrasions, an essential part of any first aid kit.


Active herbs in the ointment:
Hypericum (St. John’s Wort) - natural pain relief, antiseptic and anti-viral qualities
Calendula (Marigold) - wound healing, tissue regeneration and antiseptic qualities
The soothing Lavender essential oil gives the cream a pleasant fragrance 
 
I dress cuts by cleaning first, then a light wipe of t-tree oil, followed by some hypercal ointment on a bandaid.
On a graze I would just use hypercal ointment.
 
I hope you'll try some of the things from my first aid kit :0)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Homesteading

I've always had a fascination with people, who upstakes and move to the wilderness, to live a more natural, simpler life in harmony with the environment. I suppose I'm a bit of an idealist. Years ago I lived in a small cottage in the native bush in a small town (poulation about 15) in Little Huia, in the Waitakere Ranges NZ). We libed their for about 6 years while the children were younger. There were only a handful of other houses and most of them were holiday homes, tucked away in the bush.

I also believe its healthy for all people to live close to nature, and if the closest one can come to that, is by having a garden, then that's better than nothing.  The closer we are to animals and plants, the more we realise we need each other, and that we're all part of an eco system. In cities many people are completely ignorant to the need to be conscious of what we consume, and what we throw away. Our rubbish is ending up in land fills, polluting waterways and leaving a legacy of neglect and bad stewardship for future generations.





I admire people who can turn their back on the rat race, on consumerism and materialism and craft a living and lifestyle for themselves through innovative means, but the older I get, I no longer have a desire to live so far from others. My small town (population 1500 people, is quite small enough). Our property is fairly large and private, and there's plenty of room for flower and vegetable gardens along with fruit trees. Also as a Christian I believe we're created for relationship and community and not meant to live isolated from others. We may need quiet and solitude at times, but I think its healthier, if its only for a season. Some live in these areas like the video below by choice, are able to raise a healthy, balanced family and are make a living by protecting the wildlife. These people are probably exceptions and also could no doubt teach all of us many lessons about living of the land, medicinal plants, survival and being content with few possessions etc.

One of the best books I have read in many years was titled 'The Holy Road' by Michael Blake (the author of Dances with Wolves'). The second book continues with the story from the first, but also a lot of it is devoted to the impact the first railway line across America had on the country and more specifically on the Native American people.



Here's some other interesting 'homesteader' links:
http://www.homestead.org/
http://www.countryfarm-lifestyles.com/  (this site is excellent)

 I thought I'd share this video I found. It's about a couple who truly live in the wilderness, near the artic circle in Alaska..quite extreme, but interesting !!, if you like this sort of thing :0)


Homesteading in Alaska- Enjoy

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Juicy Adventures (Meet Miss Pomegranate)

I purchased my first ever Pomegranate just before Christmas, then got busy with all the festivities and it sat in the fridge, getting some brown spots on the skin and wondering if I was ever going to do anything with it...So finally yesterday, I sliced it in half, actually thinking it would be rotten, but no !!! it was majestic..glistening, jewel like little rubys inside !! I was excited..so I whacked out a couple of seeds and crunched on them..the juice spurted out, I wasn't expecting that, had no idea what to expect really. So I held one of the halves cupped in my hand and squeezed it hard over the bowl..and masses of juice came out !!
.....enough for 3/4's of a glass of juice in fact. I tentativeley touched it to my lips.....    half expecting it to taste like raspberry, because of the deep red colour...but no..it was sweet, slightly astringent..a tad tart as well..and all in all, its own unusual lovely self..mmm
I loved everything about it, and was excited to think of ways to use the lovely red seeds in all sorts of decorative ways in future, dessert..salads..and who knows what else...
When refrigerated in a plastic bag, pomegranates will keep for up to 2 months
Heres'a  little history on the Pomegranate for other foodies like me. It actually has quite a spiritual history

Miss Pomegranates History

In the Greek myth of Persephone, the pomegranate is called the fruit of the underworld, yet in the Muslim Qu'uran it is called the fruit of paradise.

The inner beauty of the pomegranate has inspired design since Biblical times, and there are some who believe it may be the fruit on the tree of life.
As befits a fruit with many seeds, the pomegranate is the traditional representation of fertility, and seems to have its origins everywhere. We see it in the Middle East and India. The pomegranate was cultivated in Egypt before the time of Moses.
The pomegranate is significant in Jewish custom. Tradition holds that a pomegranate has 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. The design of the pomegranate was woven into the high priest's robes, and brass representations were part of the Temple's pillars. It is mentioned six times in the Song of Solomon.We see the pomegranate again in ancient Greece and Rome. In the verses of the Odyssey, Homer mentions it as part of the gardens of Alcinous (probably in Sicily). The Romans imported their pomegranates from African Libya, and Pliny the Elder gave instructions for its storage. Lest the pomegranate be neglected in the East, it appears in China during the Han and Sung dynasties.The derivation of the word pomegranate comes from the Middle French pome garnete (seeded apple), but Europeans were slow to adopt the pomegranate.

Health Benefits of Pomegranate

The pomegranate has been used in folk medicine for centuries in the Middle East, India, and Iran. The health giving properties of the pomegranate are celebrated in a Jewish fairy tale, and it takes its place in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. The pomegranate provides a substantial amount of potassium, is high in fiber, and contains vitamin C and niacin.
Preliminary studies indicate that the juice may possess almost three times the total antioxidant ability of green tea or red wine.

Biblical References to Pomegranate - Is This the Tree of Life?


Some scholars believe that the apple was used by early artists to depict the scene of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden because it was easy to draw, but some feel that the pomegranate is the true fruit of the tree of life. Consider these Biblical quotations:

Haggai 2:19 Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree, it has not borne {fruit.} Yet from this day on I will bless {you.}

Song of Solomon 4 :13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, henna with nard plants. . .

Song of Solomon 8 :2 I would lead you {and} bring you Into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me; I would give you spiced wine to drink from the juice of my pomegranates.

Deuteronomy 8:8 A land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; . . .

Numbers 20:5 Why have you made us come up from Egypt, to bring us in to this wretched place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, nor is there water to drink.

1 Samuel 14:2 Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which is in Migron. And the people who {were} with him {were} about six hundred men.

Exodus 39:24 They made pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet {material and} twisted {linen} on the hem of the robe. They also made bells of pure gold, and put the bells between the pomegranates all around on the hem of the robe, alternating a bell and a pomegranate all around on the hem of the robe for the service, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Numbers 13 :23 Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two {men,} with some of the pomegranates and the figs

The last word on pomegranates belongs, as did the first, to William Shakespeare:


Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear.
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree.
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.

(Romeo and Juliet, III, 5)

Most of my info was aquired via http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/FOOD_IS_ART_II/food_history_and_facts/pomegranate_article.html

Spicey Mustard Pickes


Because of a special request, I am posting this recipe (Miss Tessa) :0) Hope you make it now or in your summer :0))

Ingredients:

1 Cauliflower, break into florets and chop small
5 onions, I chop them up in my food processor
1 Red pepper - Capsicum - chop small
1 Yellow pepper - Capsicum - chop small
500g/1 lb green beans (fresh pick from your garden :0) - slice fine

Put all in a large china bowl. Add 2 large Tablespoons of cooking salt/sea salt. Stir through well. Cover and leave overnight.
Next morning, rinse the brine off  thoroughly..I taste a little bit of bean every now and then, and when the saltiness is ok, I know its done.

Then place all in a big pan, and add:

4 Tablespoons of seed/grainy mustard
4 teaspoons dry mustard powder
5 teaspoons curry powder (med. heat)
2 teaspoons tumeric powder
4 cups of white vinegar
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 Cup water

Bring all to a boil and cook for 15 minutes on a med. boil (until veges softened a little).

to thicken: 1/4 Cup white vinegar/2 Tablespoons plain flour - Mix to a fairly thin paste and when the mixture is cooked, add and cook 5 min more till thickened.

Boil all lids and seals and heat steralised jars in oven.
Fill hot jars with hot pickle and seal immediately. They are sealed when the top sucks down. Yum !! - enjoy with crackers or bread and cheese..mmmm :0))

* I also made Corgette Relish, will post that one later too :0)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Home Ground & Home Made Bread

I unpacked my old grain grinder the other day. Its been stored away in my shed for years. I used to grind wheat for a while when my children were small, as the enzymes were supposed to be still acitve in the flour and make the flour more nutritious. It's also a good arm workout :0) Although in hindsite I wish I hadn't been impatient & waited to get an electric one, which cost more. For now I don't mind hand cranking it..its a bit of a novelty.


So the other day, hubby and I ground some and made this bread. I store the flour in the fridge to keep it fresh longer. Here's a recipe for 2 easy fabulous loaves of bread... similar in texture to Vogles. If you havn't tried Vogels by the way, then you havn't lived..(its true)..especially toasted and then spread with crunchy peanut butter...mmmm - YUM

Easy/Fast - Busy Peoples Bread (Annabel Langbein) by Linda's Kitchen

Ingredients:
2 Cups boiling water
4 teaspoons honey
2 Cups cold water
5 teaspoons dry yeast granules
2 3/4 Cups high grade white flour
2 3/4 cups wholemeal flour - I used stoneground (a mix of Spelt & regular wheat)
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups Sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons linseeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
4 Tablespoons Pumpkin seeds

Method:
In a large mixing bowl place the honey and add the boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Add the cold water. Stir, sprinkle the yeast over twhen the temp of the water is warm (not lukewarm) and leave to froth - about 10 minutes. I cover it with gladwrap and a wrap the bowl in a handtowel.

Then add flour, salt, sunflower seeds, linseed and the sesame seeds.
The mixture will be a loose wet batter.
Divide the mixture between 2 prepared (I spray with non-stick baking spray) loaf/bread tins. Sprinkle the loaves with the pumpkin seeds and slash 4 cuts in the top of the batter of each loaf, sothe loaves will rise evenly, without splitting.

Bake for 20 minutes at 80 degrees celcius, then crank the oven up to 210 degrees celcius and bake for a further 30-40 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack. The bread is cooked when the base is tapped and it sounds hollow.


This bread stays fresh about 3-4 days and is lovely toasted. :0) enjoy
 
I also took this pic of some of my garden veges,

 its just soo exciting to go out to the garden, select whatever is fresh and ready and make a pie out of it. I made a lovely quiche and added some bacon :0)

His Heart

On Sunday afternoon hubby and I drove into the city to get a few things at the supermarket and to go to the library. We had some time to...