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Savoury Porridge

I am trying to improve myself this year. I have failed miserably for most of 2016 (mostly because, through one thing or another, I’ve been a bit miserable, to be honest!) and haven’t really achieved anything. I’m sleeping badly (or not at all), I’m eating badly (or, again, not at all) and exercise has completely left the building – or, at least, it would have done if hadn’t just collapsed into a lazy lump on the couch. Basically, I have fallen in to a bit of a slump. A schlump, if you will. It’s not good, and I know it.

One thing I have been relying on too much is sugar. I went for years not having much sugar at all and now I have not only fallen off the wagon but completely lost sight of it as it hurtles away, possibly with a wheel missing and the rest of it on fire. I worry about getting diabetes and weight gain and other health issues that the sweet little demon causes. So I need to stop. And really stop – no cheating, missy!

I’m never going to be one of those people who avoids sugar altogether – let’s just be realistic here for a moment – but I should try and cut down and limit it to a healthy amount. So it’s more of a treat than a daily indulgence.

One thing I have always found a bit difficult, in regards to avoiding sugar, is the whole breakfast scenario. I love cereal – I could eat it for every meal. Give me a bowl of muesli and I am a happy girl. Cheerios? Yep – love ’em! (but have recently weaned myself off them). I eat porridge a lot too and try to add as little sugar as possible, but it’s still SUGAR. I could have toast for breakfast or an egg, but I don’t want to have those things everyday. In the old days I would have happily scarfed down a bowl of baked beans, but I can’t have them regularly now, because of my kidneys.

So, what’s a girl to do? She tries savoury porridge, that’s what she, um, do. And, let me tell you, it’s delicious. Satisfying and warming and yummy. Easy to make and you can make a batch and then reheat it later, or the next day. I actually look forward to getting up in the morning now. Well, sort of. Porridge can only work so many miracles, after all.

Savoury Porridge is a bit trendy at the moment, but that’s ok. It might be nice for me to be on trend for once, and I think this particular option might be one I stick with for a while, because it’s versatile and adaptable and doesn’t require me to have a whole bunch of ingredients on hand. I can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner and not feel guilty about it at any time of day. If I want to amp up the decadent factor, I can add cheese or something fancy like truffle oil (note to self : buy truffle oil!) or I can leave it plain and not muck about with it too much.  A poached egg on top is divine
(as is anything topped with a poached egg, to be fair).

The recipe I am using here is Mark Bittman‘s Savoury Oatmeal with Scallions and Soy Sauce from Serious Eats.  Ok, so we call scallions spring onions over here and we say porridge instead of oatmeal…big deal.   Still tastes yummo-licious.  Give it a try – it really does make a nice change and it is healthy and super quick to make, even if you’re like me and hopeless in the mornings.  I added some flakes of nori to my porridge, but you can leave that out if you like.  It just adds some extra umami flavour and interest.

Ingredients

1 Cup Rolled Oats
2 Cups Water
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Chopped Spring Onion + 1 Teaspoon Chopped for Garnish
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Nori Flakes

Combine oats, water and salt in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil and then turn down to low.
Cook until water almost absorbed.
Turn off heat, add spring onions and soy sauce (and nori flakes if adding).

Serve with extra spring  onion as garnish.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Week of Winter

Week of Winter

A wet, windy, grey and cold week this week.  Howling winds and hail, black clouds and bucketing rain.  The sun tried its best to come out of hiding a few times, but for the most part it was definitely a Wintery week.  Driving home each afternoon, it was always a race to see who would get there first – me or the rain-heavy clouds.

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See that patch of black sky at the bottom of the photo?  Yeah, that’s where home is!

Work was very busy ( I had to do a library “tour” for new employees – ugh, I hate speaking in front of people!) and I had lots of projects and research reports to get finished.  It seemed like a very long week and I was glad when Friday rolled around.  I did receive an emailed “Good Work!” and a smiley face from my CEO which was awesome and surprising (considering it was for something small and insignificant to me and just part of my job really) but it made me feel good for a little while.  It’s nice to be appreciated.  I also got a little card from one of the Supervisors in another department because I had brought in brownies for their OT student’s farewell morning tea and she wanted to say Thank you.  Also nice.  I’m a bit needy when it comes to stuff like that.  Sometimes you just want to be acknowledged.

I did a fair bit of walking, despite the weather.  I’ve been trying to exercise more and force myself to get out more and move that body (which basically sits down all day in front of a computer).  I live in quite a nice neighbourhood now, with lots of green parks and pretty houses to walk by.

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I love watching the dogs in the park.  They look so happy and joyful, running like mad things, playing and rough-housing.  Sometimes I get so caught up watching them that I don’t notice how late it’s getting.  I live in a nice neighbourhood, but not so nice that I should be walking around in the dark.

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I did get a hat this week.  I’m not good with hats.  I have a big head.  I do!  I also have lots of hair so big head + big hair = hard to find a hat that fits and looks ok.  I got a knitted hat from Ebay (I love Ebay – even if my bank account doesn’t!) and I think it looks alright.  It keeps my head nice and toasty and doubles as a my-hair-is-gross-today-and-I-need-to-hide-it-option.  I wore it to my niece’s 10th birthday party and she asked me “why are you wearing that thing on your head?”.  So, not sure if the hat is a total success.  I’ll let you be the judge. Be kind.

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Big Head!

I was supposed to go walking this morning with a friend of mine but she messaged me early to say she wasn’t feeling well and so would have to cancel.  Bit of a bummer but I coerced hubby into going for a walk with me (I bribed him with breakfast out).  We went to Food for Me, our fave brekky spot.  I had the “Wicked Scrambled Eggs” – so yummy.  The BEST scrambled free-range eggs with Danish feta, sundried tomatoes, chutney and the yummiest bread ever.  I wanted to take a photo of it when it arrived but I, um, started eating straight away, and so you’ll have to make do with a half-eaten display of deliciousness…

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I’d like to say we came home and did lots of housework and gardening but we did not.  I sorted laundry but that’s about it.  Our garden is atrocious.  We were told when we moved in that we could ignore the backyard as there really wasn’t any garden to speak of, but I think we took it a little bit literally and now we have three-feet high weeds.  Looks nice and green though! 🙂  Roderick would have loved it and I must admit I think of him every time I pull up a bit of grass or a dandelion or some herbs from my sad little collection of pots on the front step…

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Terrible really…

I haven’t done much crafting at all this week.  I spent several hours today making earrings but that was all I accomplished all week.  It’s been so cold and miserable and all I wanted to do was curl up in front of the heater and not move from it. Gallons of hot tea have been consumed, trying to warm myself from the inside…but of course then you need to keep going to the bathroom and it’s cold in there!  I am quite happy with the earrings I made today though – having sorted all my bead and finding boxes out the other day made a huge difference.  I could actually find stuff and I didn’t make a mess!  Who knew being organised could be so useful and time-saving?  Hmmm….

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Wish I had more of these stripey glass beads…they were from the bracelet I bought at last week’s High Tea.

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I quite like these.  They’re a bit weird but kinda organic-looking at the same time.

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These little copper leaves are so dainty and tinkly.  I made another pair with green beads too.

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I really like these ones.  They have a vintage/Japanesy feel to them somehow.

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This pair refused to sit still while I was trying to take the photo…but I think you can see them ok..

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These ones were also made from recycled beads from some of the 2nd hand jewellery I got last week.

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These too…I think they may be made from iron ore…

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Pretty and girly.  Forgot I had these silver loops.  I think the pink and green works well together.

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This pair is quite elegant and I have no idea where the little silver cones came from…but they worked for this!

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These leopard earrings look like they have ruptured hernias.  Hope no one else thinks that but me (I have a weird brain).

So, that’s my week.  I’m so over the cold weather and the dark mornings.  Bring on Spring I say!  Hope your week was happy and fulfilling or lazy and chilled out – whichever you prefer.  Have a great Monday and week ahead 🙂

Bran Muffins

Bran Muffins

Hubby and I were invited to a pot-luck breakfast this weekend.  I didn’t end up attending but did send hubby off with a batch of healthy bran muffins to add to his contribution of apple pancakes.  These muffins are super easy to make and I’m calling them “healthy” because they don’t have a lot of fat in them (well, fat in terms of oil or butter…you can make your own calculations as to how much fat is in the other ingredients!) and contain tonnes of fibre.  I’m not supposed to eat a lot of whole grains (another wonderful restriction my renal problem has forced on me) but the rest of you should gobble these up with abandon.  They’d be a handy snack to take to work or eat on the bus on the way to work.  I think they’re tasty enough that kiddies would eat them – they’re a good substitute for cupcakes or other treats.  Serve them as is or nice and warm with a bit of butter if you so wish.  There’s lots of sugar in these (in the form of golden syrup) so no need to add honey or jam.

 

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Bran Muffins

2 Cups Wheat Bran
1/2 Cup Plain Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Bicarb
1/2 Cup Golden Syrup
1 Egg
1 Cup Milk

Place wheat bran into a large mixing bowl. Sift other dry ingredients on top of the bran and then mix through.  Warm the golden syrup over a low heat in a small saucepan (or in a bowl in the microwave) until it becomes runny.  Take off heat and mix in egg and milk until thoroughly combined.  Add to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Mixture will be quite runny and wet – that’s ok!  Spoon or pour into prepared muffin tins or patty pans.  Bake at 200 C for approximately 12-15 minutes.  Muffins should be just firm in the middle and golden in colour.  Because of the high sugar content, they can burn so keep an eye on them.

Serve warm with butter or leave to cool and eat whenever!  Keep them in an airtight container to stop them drying out.  They freeze well though so keep a batch in the freezer for unexpected midnight hunger pangs!

Hope you enjoy them – they really are very easy to make, don’t have lots of ingredients and taste yummy.  Give them a try 🙂

 

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Bookmarks & Breakfast

Bookmarks & Breakfast

Hubby and I went to breakfast this morning.  One of our favourite restaurants is The Precinct, a local pub/coffee/foodie bar.  It has beautiful food (of the very-tiny-and-just-a-bit-posh variety) and decent coffee and an ever-changing menu.  There is usually something for us vegos on there and we’ve been numerous times and never had a bad meal.  They have gorgeous desserts (most of which I can’t have because they involve chocolate) and an awesome range of “bar snacks” like home-made potato chips, rosemary popcorn and, um, biltong (jerky) which is gross if you ask me (but then you probably wouldn’t ’cause I’m vegetarian).  The place has a trendy, retro feel and they use a lot of recycled bits and pieces for their cutlery holders, plates, water bottles and even the menus are printed on recycled paper.

This morning I went fairly plain and just had some slow cooked eggs on toast with a home-made hash brown (sneaky!  who ordered that?  Oh yeah, I did!) and a nice cup of English Breakfast tea.  It was simple and not so exciting but hit the spot nevertheless.  I’m pretty simple and non-exciting myself!

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Hubby had been hanging out to try the new waffle plate dish which consisted of waffles (duh), maple syrup and a dark chocolate egg filled with a white chocolate/citrus dipping sauce.  He also got a hash brown (to help off-set the sweetness a little he says) and a coffee.

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Afterwards, we headed home for a pretty lazy Sunday.  It was nice to just hang out at home, hubby watching tv and me doing crafts and making a mess (ha!).  I made a bunch of jewellery – earrings, pendants that I will post pics of later – and a few little beaded bookmarks.  I’d seen these in a recent issue of Molly Makes and thought I could give them a go.  I didn’t have all the right materials – should have used velvet ribbon for a more luxe look and had a wider end clasp – but I used up some charms I hadn’t found use for elsewhere and I kinda like the finished product as I first try.  I will pick up some more supplies today and have a go at making some “better” ones.

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This little Aussie Echidna and Gum Tree Bookmark might be a good one to send as a gift to overseas rellies.

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You know I love anything with birds on…and I like the fresh “Spring” colours and theme on this one.

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This one was the first one I made and it might be a little bit lightweight and sparse…it might need a bit of tarting up with some extra beads or bling.  Like the mauve gingham though.

Anyway, I am glad to have found a new project that is quick and easy to do, not expensive and uses up all those leftover beads and charms.  Two thumbs up!

Hope you are having a happy Sunday (or Monday, as it now for me!) and get to enjoy some quiet time at home with your loved ones.  I had a job interview on Friday so now the anxious wait to see if I got the position.  Wish me luck! 🙂

Make your own Muesli Bars

Make your own Muesli Bars

Before I begin this recipe, I should warn you, the pictures ain’t pretty.  I always start these projects at some ridiculous time of night when lighting is bad and, well, my skills as a photographer fail me.  So you’ll have to squint your eyes and make believe they look gorgeous. And anyway, who ever saw a pretty muesli bar (or granola bar as they call them in the States.  I think)?

Muesli Bar Recipe

 

Now, muesli bars, however you make them, are hardly what you’d call a healthy treat.  Sure, the food companies who make them like to market them as healthy, but really, who are they kidding?  They have fat and sugar and lots of other things in them that nature probably didn’t intend for us to eat.  The best you can do, I figure,  is to try and find the ones with the least amount of preservatives and nasty chemicals.  So, ideally, make your own, so you know what’s going in them.  Here’s an easy recipe you can make in no time and add whatever tasty ingredients you like to the basic mix.  There’s lots of energy in these bars so they’re good for kids on the go!

200g Dairy free spread (I used a sunflower-oil margarine)

100g Maple Syrup

100g Soft brown sugar

325g Porridge oats (I actually use a mixture of multigrain quick oats & regular rolled oats)

 

1. Melt the margarine with the sugar and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over a low heat, until sugar is dissolved.

2. Stir in the oats until all combined.

3. Press into a shallow baking tin (lined with baking paper) and bake at 180 C for 20-25 minutes.  Leave to cool for 5 minutes then mark into squares or “bars”.  Leave to cool completely in tin and then break up into your pre-cut pieces.  Store in an air tight container.

For variety you can add dried fruit or nuts, coconut or chocolate chips to the mix.  Or, if you’re feeling decadent, coat the bottom in chocolate, or drizzle some over the top…maybe sprinkle on some sesame seeds…depends on how healthy/unhealthy you wanna be!

Enjoy!

 

Muesli Bar