From August 2015

Playdough

So, I may have been rudely awoken hours and hours ago. I’ll probably have green hands for the next 3 days. And I may have just acquired another year… but tell me it ain’t all worth it for that cake. Playdough cake

Wunderbar

Meet: Wunderbar. As Kristin has fondly called it.

Fruitywunderbar

A hearty slice with a fruity middle. The fruit and date combo means it requires very little added sugar. You won’t miss the sugar, promise! I sloshed a bit of earl grey, date and caramel sauce on the bottom [Just as an aside, whip some of this up, stash it in your fridge and keep it up your sleeve. One sauce, 101 ways. I swear!]

W U N D E R B A R :

CRUMBLE:

  • 1 cup wholegrain oats
  • 1 cup coconut thread
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts [peanuts/almonds/pistachios or whatever takes your fancy. I used peanuts]
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g butter

THE MAGIC IN THE MIDDLE:

  • 2 pears or apples
  • 8-10 chopped dates
  • about 1/2 cup earl grey tea [or just water will work fine too]

METHOD:

Heat oven to 180 degrees/160 fanbake. Line a 25 x 20 cm tin [or a brownie sized slice tin works just as well, mine measures 27 x 18cm].

Place dates in small saucepan with tea [or water] and simmer gently for around 5 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced and dates look sort of mushy. While dates are doing their thing, peel and finely slice pear or apple. Then add this to date mixture and allow to soften for a couple of minutes. If it’s starting to dry out, add a little bit more liquid- but you want it as thick and pulpy as possible.

Mix dry ingredients together. Melt butter, then stir through dry ingredients. Pour half of crumble mix into slice tin, spread evenly over bottom. You’ll need to push it down and sort of stick it together. Place in oven for around 8-10 minutes, or until golden on the edges.

The fruit mix should be done by this time, once you’ve pulled crumble base out of the oven, you can spread it on top of the crumble base. [I doused the crumble in a bit of that caramel sauce I mentioned up there prior to adding the fruit, but you could add chopped chocolate in it’s place- or omit it altogether. If you are using caramel sauce that seems a bit too runny, you can always add a bit of flour to achieve a thicker consistency].

Once you have your fruity magic on top of the base, you can crumble the remaining dry mix evenly over the top and place back in the oven for a further 8-10 minutes [or until golden on top]. It holds together best when cool, so best to chill before slicing.

Serve with yoghurt and a dusting of cinnamon. Wunderbar, literally!

wunderbarplate

 

Earl grey, date and caramel sauce

caramelsauce1

This has become one of my staples over winter. The earl grey really makes this sauce sing. It may not be the prettiest sauce you’ve ever seen, but it makes up for it in the taste department! The method is nothing short of cheating, but unlike a ‘proper’ caramel sauce, it lets the dates do most of the sweetening. It’s perfect poured over cake and desserts, stirred through a bit of yoghurt and we’ve even used it as a topping on donuts.

I’ve gone a bit mad adding tea to things lately, but I have got into making a pot of tea and ‘sharing’ it between cooking and myself! We drink an earl grey type mix in our house, but you could absolutely substitute for some other citrus-y, fragrant black tea.

S A U C Y   S W E E T N E S S :

THE DATES:

  • 6-8 dates
  • 1/2 cup earl grey tea

AND THE REST:

  • 100g butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 50 ml cream
  • 50ml-75ml earl grey tea
  • 1 decent teaspoon vanilla
  • a pinch of salt [if you so wish]

METHOD:

Roughly chop dates and add to saucepan with tea. Simmer until soft and mushy and a small amount of tea remains. Transfer to food processor [or use stick blender] and blitz to a smooth consistency.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add brown sugar and dates, and stir until incorporated. Add cream and remaining tea and simmer gently for about 5 or so minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt [optional].

This makes quite a thick sauce when cooled- but will become more runny when warmed slightly. Just bung it in the microwave for a few seconds at a time until it is the consistency you want. This sauce still has flecks of date in it- but I’m a bit rustic and okay with that. To make it prettier and fancier you could strain the the sauce once cooked to get those bits out. Saucy!

caramelsauce

 

winner, winner: leftover dinner

I’m a big fan of leftovers. Half the prep has been done the night before- I mean, what’s not to love? Fried rice is a great way to jam in heaps of wholesome goodies, I swear if there was a dinner version of a lolly scramble- fried rice would be IT.

So, the remaining coconut rice and roasted pumpkin from last nights curry has become beef fried rice.

Lastnightsleftovers

Lastnightsdinner2

F R I E D   R I C E :

RICE AND STUFF

  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • chopped vegetables [I used carrots, celery, beans, peas, corn, but let your imagination run rife!]
  • about 2 cups of cooked rice [I used medium grain]
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 500g schnitzel [sliced and soaked in honey soy marinade], but just as delicious with chicken, prawns or without!
  • a few rashers bacon, grilled and crunchy and roughly chopped

EGGY GOODNESS [not compulsory, but tastes pretty damn delicious]

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

MUSHROOMS AND SPINACH [again, not required, but a nice way to include some extra veggies]

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Knob of butter or dash of oil
  • 10-12 diced mushrooms
  • good handful of baby spinach [or the big stuff even silverbeet, just slice it up a bit]

TO SERVE

  • pile mushrooms and spinach on top of your rice
  • sliced radish, cucumber, roasted peanuts, coriander [if you have any], a few of those awesome crunchy noodles

METHOD: [lots of these things you can do in advance, so you can just put your feet up and eat crunchy noodles until 6pm]

Place rice on a shallow tray and cover with a tea towel [just to dry it out and help it stick together]. Clean and chop vegetables and place aside. Crush garlic, grate ginger and place aside in a separate bowl.

Heat a large heavy based frypan over medium heat. Add a dash of oil. Once hot, add your vegies and stir fry for a few minutes until bright and slightly softened, with a few crunchy brown bits in parts. Remove from pan and place aside. Pour half your eggy mix into pan and cook it as you would a pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes each side, then remove. Repeat with remaining egg mixture. Find a chopping board or spare piece of bench and slice this into long, thin strips and add to vegetable bowl. In another pan, turn the heat up to medium-high and cook the beef [bearing in mind it will all be heated through again, so don’t overcook]. Remove and keep warm.

For the spinach and mushrooms: heat butter or oil in a small saucepan, add garlic and brown. Add mushrooms- cook until softened, then add spinach and heat through until wilted.

In your large pan, heat 1 tsp oil and brown the garlic and ginger for 1 minute- then add the rice. You might need to add a bit more oil here, just to stop the rice sticking. Stir continuously so the rice is evenly fried and to stop it sticking to the bottom. Once it looks nice and golden, add the soy sauce and stir through. Finally, add the bacon, meat, egg and vegetables until mixed through and toasty hot. Season as required [although the soy sauce is pretty salty so it really only needs a sprinkling of pepper]. Serve with garnishy things, and eat!

This is not exactly an ‘authentic’ fried rice- but it tastes great and a leftover winner!

 

Lastnightsdinner1

How did we end up here?

I guess you could say we’re ‘accidental’ farmers, of sorts. We took a bit of a gamble a few years back and left the city for the sticks- but we’ve never looked back! Country life has a grounding sense of ‘home’ and a calming simplicity. That’s not to say it’s not chaotic at times- especially when we are snowed in, and without power for days. But we’ve learned to love it, and just roll with it. I mean, what else can you do?

Marshmallows