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Nourish (Because Sometimes Doorknobs Just Fall Off)

It’s late at night.  You’re hungry.  You know you shouldn’t raid the pantry but to hell with diets and the whole “don’t eat after 8pm at night” nonsense (what am I, a gremlin?).  Time to check out what snacks are available to us.  

Enter kitchen.  Attempt to open pantry door.  Door knob falls off in hand – DISASTER! 

What can you do?  a.) Forget about the whole thing and go to bed, sad and unsatisfied?  b.) Try the fridge instead?  c.) Rummage through your handbag to see if there’s a long-forgotten mint or something?  d.) Wrench the pantry door open with a knife and vow to put a new door knob on tomorrow?  If you answered “all of the above except A”, you’d be correct.  Let’s face it, A was never an option. 

My house has many features that are, through age or just crappy design, falling off/breaking down/not performing so well.  Doorknobs are one example.  I’ve replaced several now in different rooms but, for the kitchen, decided to go with something a bit more jazzy.  I probably shouldn’t draw attention to my pantry (it’s not like I’m not VERY FAMILIAR with it already!) but I wanted to do this little project and not have to open the door with a knife 🙂

These little wooden doorknobs are currently available at Kmart, in Australia, for $1.00 each.  One dollar!  I do not want to know where the materials were sourced from at such a price – it would probably hurt my brain.  They had different shaped ones too, but I bought the regular round one.  I collaged on various scraps of patterned papers and washi tape, then (using a stencil I had made) draw on a heart shape.  I then painted the doorknob all over in blue, leaving out the heart-shaped area.  Details were added with permanent black pencil, a white paint pen and a bit of stamped text.  The whole thing was sealed and varnished and voila!  It was done.  (It looks a bit “cloudy” in places because I had literally just finished sealing it so nothing had dried before I took the photo).  I sanded back the edges slightly too, just to give a bit of extra detail.

So, an easy, inexpensive little decorator project that could be applied to lots of furniture and household items.  I’m still thinking I should have stamped “DO NOT ENTER” instead of “NOURISH” on my doorknob, but I will try and have some willpower of my own, instead of expecting inanimate objects to guide me and tell me what to do (or, in this case, what NOT to do) when I get the midnight munchies.

🙂

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Corn Chowder

Corn Chowder

Ah, soup.  I am such a fan.  It is easy to prepare, does not require difficult-to-get ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (depending on the soup).  It’s filling, without being fattening, and can be flavoured and bulked-out with just about anything you have lying around the place.  Just bung it in, blend it up and hey presto! You have soup.  Or some weird-flavoured water (depending on the “anything” you bunged in).

Tonight I had a hankering for corn chowder.  I don’t know why.  It just appeared in my brain and took hold and made me desire its smokey, corny goodness beyond all other food stuffs.  I don’t make it very often.  Pretty much never.  The first time I ever made it was in catering class in high school.  I think I have made it three times in my entire life.  But it’s so yummy!  And filling and satisfying and feels like a meal rather than some sort of dietary punishment.  It never looks very attractive though.  Corn Chowder resembles, at best, dog vomit.  In fact, I hesitated when naming this blog post.  I wanted to call it “Corn Chunder” but I am far too mature for such a title.  I apologise if you are eating right now but, seriously, was there ever a more unattractive looking soup?

So my photo below is another fail.  I’m not even going to bother blaming it on bad lighting (even though the lighting in my kitchen is rubbish).  Let’s just ignore the picture and get on with the taste.  It’s yummy.  Delish. Tasty.

So here’s my recipe.  As always, for all my soup recipes, it is a bit approximate in terms of amounts used.  Again, just bung it in. I have, as is necessary for me, made this vegetarian, but substitute (if you must) real bacon etc.

Corn Chowder 

1 large onion, diced
4 rashers of vegetarian bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 potato, peeled and diced into roughly 1cm cubes
375ml can of evaporated milk + 2 canfuls of water – one mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of stock powder + one mixed with flour
2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn kernels
Chopped parsley

Method

Saute the onion in a bit of oil (I used sunflower) in a large saucepan  until soft.
Add bacon and fry for a minute (don’t let it brown).
Add milk and extra cans of water (with stock and flour).  Bring to a gentle boil (keep your eye on it) and add potato.  Keep stirring – the milk can burn or boil over so keep it simmering rather than rapid boiling.  Keep stirring for about 10 minutes until potato is tender (but not super squishy).  Add corn kernels and chopped parsley.

Continue simmering for about 5 mins.  Take off heat and take out a ladle or two of the chunky bits.  Give the remaining soup a bit of a blend with an upright stick blender (or whatever you have).  Don’t puree it until it’s smooth – this is supposed to be a chunky chowder!  Add the removed ingredients back into the pot and stir.  If it is too thick for your liking, you can add a half-cup of water if you wish.

Serve hot in bowls – garnish with parsley if desired.

Enjoy!  (just don’t look at it and you’ll be fine) 🙂

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Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Lemon & Baby Peas Pasta (Pauline’s Lemon Pasta)

Firstly, a warning.  The photo below is not good.  It does not look appetising at all.  I apologise.  As per usual, I tried to take a photo at night, in my little kitchen with barely any lighting.  Secondly, I tried to do that cheffy, twisting-the-pasta-around-artfully-on-the-plate kind of thing.  Which, blatantly obviously, did not work.

However, the completed dish was quite tasty and I am glad I broke my almost decade-long boycott on pasta.  I don’t do pasta.  It doesn’t like me and I am not a huge fan of it either.  I haven’t missed it at all since I stopped eating it some ten years or so ago, but tonight I saw this recipe in the magazine Daphne’s Diary and thought I would give it a go.  I like anything with lemon in and, let’s be honest, cheese.  So here’s the recipe (in which I substituted fettuccine for spaghetti and added peas as a way of assuaging my carb guilt):

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Pauline’s Lemon Pasta – Serves 4 

300g spaghetti
1 lemon
1 onion – sliced finely
Half a red chilli – chopped finely, seeds removed
2 cloves garlic – chopped finely
250ml single cream
40g parmesan – grated

Handful of chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Method

Cook the spaghetti in a large saucepan with plenty of salted water. Drain

Fry onion, chilli and garlic gently in a little olive oil in a saucepan.  Don’t let onion brown.

Add zest from the lemon and juice of half the lemon.  Stir to combine.

Add the single cream and heat quickly to prevent splitting.  Mine did a wee bit (mostly because I cheated and used milk instead of cream…duh) but came back together once I’d mixed it through.

Add the cooked pasta and stir through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with parmesan and parsley sprinkled on top.  Serve hot.

Oh, and I added the baby peas (cooked) at the end to add some more freshness and colour.

Voila.  Pretty easy. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different to the usual pasta and tomato-based sauce combo.

I’m still resting at home and trying not to eat everything in sight, but obviously failed tonight.  Sigh.  Will try again tomorrow and only eat things that are green and crispy.

🙂

Tofu Burgers (and the Worst Blogger Award)

Tofu Burgers (and the Worst Blogger Award)

Worst. Blogger. Ever.  That award goes to me at the moment.  I apologise for my lack of posting.  It’s not because I haven’t had the inclination, it’s just that I am trying very hard not to be negative on here and write a bunch of woe-is-me-I’m-so-sad stuff.  The last few weeks have been difficult and I have been struggling with life in general so I have promised myself I won’t post anything when I am in that frame of mind.  It’s best for everyone.  Especially you.

Today I have been tidying and sorting out my house.  Again.  But this time, I am determined to get it to a point where things are contained and neat and make sense, rather than just shoving things in cupboards and hoping no one ever opens the doors.  I have three whole days off this week – I needed to take a few mental health days but also get my house in order because I have rent inspection on Thursday.  This always sends me into spasms of panic because I suddenly notice how dire the situation is, with regards to the neatness of my home.  When I am sad I tend to neglect things even more so I desperately needed to give the whole place an overhaul this week, for my own sanity if nothing else.  I spent much of Sunday cutting up a tree that had fallen down in my back courtyard.  It was only a small tree, a shrub really, but still too heavy and large for me to carry out on my own.  Besides that, the only access to my back yard is through the house itself, so, short of dragging a whole tree through my house, I had to cut it down to size and remove in stages.  Took me FOREVER.   I only had a small hand saw with which to do the cutting and as I am a bit of a girly-girl, I was not very good at using it (I would have been a terrible lumberjack).  Plus, at one point, I fell over the whole sorry mess and landed rather awkwardly and painfully on my wrist and shins.  Massive black and blue marks on my legs but luckily no harm done to my wrist.

Stubborn-ness will always win in the end though (that’s my motto, anyway) and after several hours I had dismembered the tree enough to take it out to the wheelie bin and get rid of it all.  Except for the main trunk – I gave up on that as all the smaller branches had grown and interwoven into an impenetrable mass and I would have been there until next Christmas trying to disengage it all.  So that large part got sneakily hidden behind a bunch of shrubbery and ivy vines in my back yard.  It will do.

Today I sorted through all my clothes and put away Summer stuff (we’re only 2/3 of the way through Winter mind you…soon it will be time to take the stuff back out again!), packed up unwanted items to take to the op-shop and put my mattress back in the bedroom (I’ve been sleeping in the lounge as it is so cold in my bedroom, but it doesn’t look very nice to have a mattress in your main living area – even a slob like me can see that!).  Bed made, ironing sorted and put away.  So I’ve made a good start and will begin on the craft room tomorrow (ugh – that could take HOURS and HOURS).

Tomorrow I am also meeting up with friends for lunch.  We’re all bringing something to share, so after a hasty search through my quite bare pantry, I decided to make Tofu Burgers.  These yummy little morsels are one of the first things my soon-to-be-ex-hubby made for me, but don’t hold that against them 🙂  They are tasty and easy to make plus they’re good for popping into lunch boxes or for taking to a party as a little snack (you could roll them into balls and serve them on cocktail sticks with a little bowl of sauce for dipping).  They’re pretty versatile and make a good meat-free option if you have vegetarians coming around.  I usually find that these go quickly when served at parties and are usually devoured by the carnivores in the group.  Which is just typical!!!  If you serve vego food, you can guarantee the non-vego people will eat it.  Every time.

Anyway, on to the burgers.  I have been making these a long time now and so have modified the recipe (i.e. forgotten the original) so I’m giving you approximate measurements here.  Add a little more breadcrumbs if you think the mixture is a bit wet, or add a wee bit more sauce if you think is too dry.

TOFU BURGERS

1 package tofu (silken or firm but not the hard stir-fry type) – mashed with fork
1 onion, diced finely or 1/2 cup powdered onion
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt & Pepper
Herbs of your choice (I usually use chopped chives or parsley)
1 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS Barbecue Sauace
2 tsp tumeric powder
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)

Mix all ingredients together.  The grated cheese is optional, but does give a nice taste and little “oozy” bits here and there.  Form mixture into patties, balls or larger burgers (whatever you like!).  The original recipe called for frying the burgers in oil, but I don’t really fry anything, so I bake them in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180 C.
They should be lightly browned on the outside and firm to the touch but still moist on the inside.  Serve as they are with a salad or make up a hamburger with them (although I think there is already enough bread in there…).  Yum!  Try your own flavour combos with the mixture – it’s pretty forgiving and always turns out.
Recipe makes about 12-15 little patties, depending on size.

Enjoy! 🙂

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Cheese Pull-Apart Scones

Cheese Pull-Apart Scones

As promised I am posting the recipe for my cheese scones pull-apart thingies.  I have no idea what to call them.  If you cut them out and space them apart on a tray, I guess they’re scones.  If you put them squashed together in a pan or dish, I guess they could be considered a pull-apart.  Whatever, they taste nice and make a yummy change from bread rolls.

They’re really easy to make (they have to be if I am to have any success with them!).  You need :

3 Cups Self Raising Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
45g Butter or Margarine
1 & 1/4 Cup Milk
1 Cup Grated Cheese
Parsley (dried or fresh & shopped)

Rub the butter through the sifted flour and salt (and some dried Parsely if you like) until it resembles fine bread crumbs.  Make a “well” in the centre and add milk and half of the cheese.  Stir through to combine and when it starts clumping together, begin kneading with hands.  Don’t over-knead or it will become heavy and tough.  Just bring it all together then roll out gently to about 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle with some of the cheese and then roll it up into a sausage shape.  Cut into 1 inch sections and put into a round cake tin or oven-safe dish.  The sections should be squished up against each other with a bit of room for spreading.

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Sprinkle with remainder of cheese and a bit of chopped or dried parsley.

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Bake at 180 degrees Celcius for about 20 minutes.  Serve whilst still warm.  Enjoy!

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Should be nice and cheesy and crispy on the outside whilst soft and fluffy on the inside…

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Be warned : they are moreish!

Oh, and if you want them to be more like individual scones, just roll the dough out flat and cut out with round cookie cutters.  Bake on a tray with plenty of space around them for spreading so they come out as single little sconey goodness-es.  Either way, easy and yummy.  Sorry, those directions were pretty basic but I’m typing this up super quickly as it is FREEZING in my office and I need to get this done before I get some sort of frostbite injury to my fingers 🙂

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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Apple Pie

Apple Pie

It is really hot today.  Like, yesterday was cool and you still needed to wear a jumper, but, today, is hot and summery (despite it being Spring) and t-shirt & shorts kind of weather.  This makes me happy because I hate the cold with a passion.  Everyone is walking around going “Phew, it’s hot!” and wiping their brow and that sort of thing.  Roderick the guinea pig had to have a little mini-bath to cool him down (or at least to stop me worrying about him succumbing to heat stress) and hubby laid on the couch all day reading comics and drinking ginger ale.  I, for one, love the heat and am looking forward to Summer, so, instead of sitting about in bathers or running under the sprinkler, I decided to do what all people should do in hot weather – make pie!  That’s right, pie… Now, as all sane cooks know, pastry does not like hot or humid weather.  It prefers cool climates and, most importantly, cool hands for kneading and rolling out.  Pah!  It will do as it’s told and behave, I say!

I am a fan of pie.  I do not have it often – pastry is not my tummy’s friend – and I admit to not being great at pastry-making either.  But I felt like apple pie today (probably due to the fact I wanted ice cream as well…) and so I set about making a home-style, sweet, golden brown, tasty pie.  Here is my pastry recipe – it’s an easy one and always turns out even if you are completely cack-handed like me and prone to kitchen failure.  I haven’t given the apple filling recipe because I don’t use one – I just bung some cooked apple in with a bit of sugar and lemon juice, some spices (cinnamon & cloves) and a little water mixed with a teaspoon or so of cornflour (helps to thicken the apple mixture but isn’t essential).  If you’ve not made pastry before, try this one – it really is quite easy and you can use it to make jam tarts if you’ve got some left over (and who doesn’t love a few tarts in the pantry?…) Ahem, recipe as follows…

Basic Sweet Crust Pastry (enough for a small pie)

1 1/2 cups plain flour

125g butter chilled & cubed

1/3 cup caster sugar (I always use raw as it has a nicer flavour but use white if you like)

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon of chilled water

Put first three ingredients (ie flour, butter & sugar) into a food processor.  Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Chuck in the egg yolk and water and process again until the mixture comes together.  Form a ball and wrap it up in cling wrap or baking paper and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes so it can chill out 🙂

When you’re ready to use the pastry, roll it out on a lightly floured board or counter and cut out desired amount to cover a pie dish.  I usually line my pie pan with baking paper but it you have a decent non-stick one, go right ahead and bung it in as is.  Pour in your desired filling, roll out some more dough for the top and place it on, pinching the edges as you go round.  Any leftover bits of pastry can be cut into little leaves or other shapes to decorate the top if you like.  Brush top with beaten egg/milk wash and sprinkle with a little extra sugar.  Bake at 200 c for about 25-30 mins depending on your oven.  Let it cool a bit before you serve it up (nothing is nastier than hot-sugar/fruit filling – ouch!) and add a dollop of icecream or custard or whatever you like.  Yum!

Sadly, I was a bit brain-dead when baking the pie and kinda let it burn a little in the oven…so the picture here just features the non-singed bit in the middle…just imagine it burnt-bits free and know that it was yummy regardless of my slack attendance in the kitchen…