Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Lunchbox #13

Today's Lunchbox...

Morning Tea - Strawberry yoghurt and nut-free choc-chip biscuit (both homemade)
Lunch - Chicken, cheese and salad "Mountain Bread" wraps, fresh watermelon pieces
Drink - Water

I am a little excited that I now know how to make yoghurt.  Basically, you heat some milk, then cool it a little, then stir in a big spoon of natural yoghurt, then put it in a warm place (like a pre heated thermos - I have bought an "Easi-Yo" maker which is a bit thermos-like) and leave it for 8 or so hours.  Who knew it was so easy!?  Did you?  I didn't.  I've flavoured this yoghurt with strawberry jam and fresh strawberry pieces and the last lot I made I flavoured with honey.  But you can use anything you like - your imagination is the limit.  I cannot believe how delicious and fresh it is!  And did I mention easy?  If you want a little more detail as to how to make yoghurt, check out Amanda's excellent post on SouleMama.  She uses a thermometer for the milk heating which I don't bother with - and all of my yoghurts have turned out well so far, so I figure it's a little forgiving just as long as you are aware that mixing in the yoghurt while the milk is too hot will kill the live cultures and you wouldn't want that! (Unless of course, you feel like making milkshakes instead of yoghurt!)  I totally can't wait 'til it gets a bit hotter and I can start making (and eating!) frozen yoghurts.  Mmmm, YUM!

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Friday Lunchbox Today...Sad Face

So, I was really hoping my blog would go viral but instead, I have.

You guessed it, I'm sick.  Bleh.  Hopefully by next week, yours truly will have returned to her regular programming but until then here's a sneak peak of one of my current projects. I hope you have a lovely weekend.  I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paw Paw Chutney

At the moment we have way too many paw paws.  Despite giving lots away to family and friends and the resident possum sneaking a few when we got a little slack about picking them, we are still usually left with a back log of three or four.  And I can only eat so much paw paw!  So what do you do when you have too much paw paw?  Make paw paw chutney, of course!  (But you already had that worked out, didn't you?  'Cause you were clever and read the title!)

And how great is the internet?  You ask and it provides.  I found a few fabulous chutney recipes, got hubby to choose one he thought he might like the best and set about making chutney.

The recipe I used is here by Chef Alison Alexander at the 612 ABC website but for quick reference and with a few of my own added hints, here it is below as well.  It requires that you make a "spiced vinegar" to go in the chutney so a good bit of time is needed if you decide to make this.  But it's well worth it.  And there is also a maturing time of 4 weeks for the flavours to develop.  During the making I was a bit alarmed at how vinegary it smelt (talk about burn out your nasal passages!) and even tasted at the end.  But I put the last spoonful that couldn't fit into my bottles, in a dish, in the fridge and sampled it the next morning.  It was absolutely divine and not a bit vinegary in the least.  I can only imagine how good it will be after four weeks.

If you are going to have a go, don't forget to sterilize your jars first.  It's quite easy, the way I do it is to fully immerse the jars and lids in a pot of water, bring to boiling point and boil for 10 minutes.  I remove them with tongs and place them on a tray in a slow oven to dry for about another ten minutes.  Then allow them to cool before filling.

Paw Paw Chutney
by Chef Alison Alexander
Bracketed notes by Lillabilly
Spiced Vinegar:
2.5 litres vinegar (I used white)
250 g sugar (I used white for this too)
60g bruised ginger (peel fresh ginger and "bruise" by pressing down on it with the flat of your large knife or by giving it a bit of a bash with a mallet)
2 bay leaves
2 blades mace (I couldn't find this, but the nearest substitute is nutmeg.  I used 1/4 tsp)
6 whole cloves
1/2 cinnamon quill
2 tblespns white peppercorns (I couldn't find these either so I used the mixed variety)
1 tblespn white mustard seed
1 tsp salt

1.5 kg paw paw, ripe or slightly under-ripe
1 kg ripe tomatos skinned (do this by immersing the tomatos in boiling water until the skins split.  They will then come off quite easily when you rub them.  I'm not a fan of tomatos seeds in things so I squished mine to get most of the seeds out and chopped them roughly too, make sure you measure a kilo after you do that)
2 hot chillies, seeds removed (I finely chopped these)
500g sultanas (go through these by the handful to ensure none have tiny hard stems still attatched)
30g finely grated ginger
30g finely chopped garlic
2 onions, very finely chopped (I used brown)
1 tblspn salt
500g brown sugar

1.Vinegar: Place all ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Simmer uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to stand, covered, for 1 hour.  Strain vinegar (use a fine seive to get that nutmeg out) and pour into sterilized bottles for later use.  (Since you only need 1.2 litres for the chutney, I put that amount aside and put the rest in a bottle.  Not sure what I'll do with it yet!)

2. Chutney: Dice paw paw and place into large (Yes! It needs to be large!) stainless steel pot with remaining ingredients and 1.2 litres of spiced vinegar.  Slowly bring to boil then simmer for 2 hours or until mixture has a jam like consistency.  ( I stirred mine fairly regularly.  You will need to make sure you watch the heat and stir it a bit towards the end when there is hardly any liquid left or it will burn.  Turn the heat down a bit at this stage if needed and don't walk away!)

3. Remove from heat and spoon into sterilized jars and seal immediately.  Store in a cool dark place (Once my jars had cooled completely I put them in the fridge 'cause I'm paranoid like that)  Allow to mature for 4 weeks before using.  Chutney very good with pork, ham or lamb (or beef! or on meat, cheese and salad sangas!)

For a smoother texture, paw paw, tomatos, chillies, sultanas, ginger and onions can be pureed in a food processor before cooking.  (I like chutney to have a bit of body to it and most of it cooks down to be very soft and squishy so I think finely chopping everything is a nicer way to go.  But you might not!  So you should definately do whatever you think you might like better.)

And that's it!  It makes heaps - I filled about 8 medium sized jars and a couple of smaller ones so there is lots for sharing around or giving as gifts.  Here's some of my finished product happily maturing away.

 Can't wait to try it out!  Do let me know if you have a go of this.  Happy chutneying, everyone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Lunchbox #12

Today's Lunchbox...

Morning Tea: Seaweed and plain rice crackers with tomato dip.
Lunch: Homemade pizza fingers, fresh blueberries with canned apple and a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.
Drink: Water

Because of Miss Five's peanut allergy we tend to avoid bought dips (not to mention the fact they often contain preservatives and other nasties) but it's no hassle as it is so very quick and easy to make our own.  The tomato dip here simply contains a few spoons of Light Philedelphia Cream Cheese (I use "light" because it's softer than the regular, so is easier to mix and we only buy the one in the rectangular box as the one in the tub has preservatives.  Why on earth do they do that, I wonder?), some chopped fresh tomato (no seeds), and a squirt of organic tomato sauce.  Whip it together with a fork for about 30 seconds and voila!  This dip can contain any number of yummy things depending on your child's tastes and is also marvelous for adults too.  Try any one or mix of the following - chopped beetroot (pink dip!), diced capsicum, garlic, herbs, sweet chilli sauce, spinich, avocado and lemon, fried bacon and onion, chopped kalamata olives (great with tomato, basil and red onion), mashed pumpkin...I'm sure you can think of more!

The pizza fingers are leftovers from our homemade pizza which we had for dinner.  Again, top this how you like.  While you could easily use the bread base recipe from Friday Lunchbox #1 as a pizza base, I personally find it a little soft for pizza.  I prefer to use the following recipe which is my own personal one:

Homemade Pizza Base


1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
7g sachet of dried yeast
2 tblspns olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
2 2/3 cups plain bread flour


Combine sugar,salt, yeast, oil and water in a large bowl.  Sift in flour and mix to a dough.  Knead for a few minutes until it reaches an "elastic" consisentcy.  Reflour bowl and leave dough, covered, for approx 40 minutes until it has doubled in size.  Punch down dough and reknead breifly before using a rolling pin to roll into desired shape.  (This amount of dough makes a big rectangular pizza which fills my  38cm x 24cm tray and ends up being a thick base.  You could also cut the dough in half and roll thinly to reach the same size for two thin base pizzas.  If you have a smaller circular tray it will definately be enough dough to make two bases of a good thickness.)

Spread with sauce and desired toppings before baking in a 200 degree celcius oven for approx 20 minutes.

It absolutely leaves store bought bases for dead.  Let me know how you get on making it, I know you'll love it.  Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Crochet Update

Before the school holidays, I finally finished my last granny square for the throw blanket I am making for Miss Five.  Here they are...

All one hundred and sixteen!  I didn't do any crochet over the holidays but now they are all laid out on the loungeroom floor and I am painstakingly slip-stitching them together.  It feels like it's taking forever but I keep reminding myself that it takes time to sew love into every stitch and you can't get that out of a mass made product from China.

And because it's fun to add to the chaos by having more than one project going at anytime (am I the only person who does that?) I decided to teach myself how to ripple!  I've noticed lots of ripple and zigzag blankets happening in the crochety world of late and they all look pretty swish.  And since my nextdoor neighbour is pregnant I thought it would be a fabulous opportunity to ripple a baby blanket - something of a size that's not too daunting and that I'd be able to whip up a whole lot quicker than Miss Five's throw.

The lovely Hilary from here gave me a link to a marvelous rippley tutorial from over here.  I had seen this tute ages ago but forgot to bookmark it and then couldn't remember where it was.  So thanks, Hilary!!  (You should definately check out Hilary's awesome rippley goodness, I love the colours she is using)

Anyway, it seemed fairly straightforward with a couple of things I needed to learn (increasing and decreasing stitches) so I started on a small sample.  To begin with you have to chain a certain amount of stitches and then work your next row of stitches into the chain.

Well, I am not one for swearing (there are way too many other delightful words to use) and my hubby and close friends will tell you that when I swear they come running cause I clearly have good cause.  But working the first row of stitches into the chain?  That was an absolute bee eye tee cee aitch, let me tell you!!  To prove my point, here is my first attempt...

Gracious!  What the heck is that thing??  My tension is all over the shop and it doesn't even come close to resembling anything remotely ziggy or zaggy.  And getting my hook into each chain was absolute murder.  I came very, very close to ending up the same way Pip from Meet Me At Mikes did when she first attempted learning to crochet.  She cried, people.  And I now understand completely why she did that.  I do.

But instead of succumbing to the tears, I blinked a lot, cut that attempt off, went and had a cup of tea, came back, took a really deep breath, exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaled and began again.  This time I went awfully slowly and carefully, watching my tension and being really, really patient with those chains.  And look what happened!!

It's not perfect but it's much better, isn't it? It's quite ziggy.  And the second row was a breeze.  I can definately handle that problematic chain knowing how easy the rows afterwards will be

So after a little more practice I have some lovely white, navy and two nice blues to start rippling with (yes, my neighbour is having a boy).  Wish me luck!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Lunchbox #11

Today's lunch...

Morning Tea: Ladyfinger banana and mini honey joy (see here for how to make these)
Lunch: Spaghetti bolognaise and cheese open-topped pie, fresh blueberries in vanilla yoghurt (Jalna all natural pot-set yoghurt)
Drink: Water

Do you like our mini honey joys?  Miss Five loved the ones we made for camping but while they were the perfect size for adults she found them a bit much and could only manage about half at a time.  But these ones have been declared "just right"!

The open-topped pie was made in our pie-maker.  We have this model which is very handy for all sorts of snacks and even comes with a recipe book.  But if you don't have one, that's quite fine 'cause you can still have fabulous open-topped pies too!  Just use your muffin pan - a normal size pan for mini pies or a texas size pan for larger pies.  Cut a slice of bread with a scone cutter or egg ring depending on the size you need and spray lightly with olive oil on the outer side.  Push into your pan, top with spoonfuls of your leftover spaghetti and a little grated cheddar cheese and whack into your preheated oven (about 180 deg Cel should do it) until it looks golden and melty.  Cool them on a rack, top with a little grated parmasen and pop into the fridge until it's time to pack for lunch.  And don't forget to put an ice-brick in your lunchbox to keep your pie cool.

Miss Five is a huge fan of leftover spaghetti and cheese in sandwiches normally, so I think this is a nice take on that and looks way more exciting to eat than your normal everyday sanga, don't you think?

Hope everyone has a great weekend - if you are still on holidays then lucky you!  I hope you're having loads of fun!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Holiday Scenes

We had so much fun on our camping trip!  We went to Wivenhoe Dam which I definately recommend as a camp site if you are like me and enjoy having hot showers and flushing toilets available to make your "roughing it" experience not so rough!  I don't recommend unpacking to discover you've forgotten the cutlery and plates though.  Good thing the little country town of  Esk wasn't too far away!

The road ahead on the way up...

and behind...

 The view outside out camper-trailer-tent flap...

Hubby and Miss Five go canoeing!  Miss Five couldn't wait and it was all we heard about on the trip up.  She had her life jacket on the moment we got out of the car and helped us set up quite impatiently! I am generally not a get-up-close-to-water-that-you-can't-see-the-bottom-of-and-just-may-fall-into type of girl, but even I braved the canoe and went for three white knuckled lovely paddles over the time we were there!  So courageous, I am.  Hot showers and all.

Miss Five made friends with a beetle during our stay - she kept it in some spare tupperware (note to self, bring bug catcher next time) and said beetle got to listen to three days of endless chatter and even go for a canoe ride on Miss Five's shirt.  It was so well mannered, it didn't even fly away!  And I have to say that though I don't know what sort of beetle it is, it definately had the jauntiest antenae I have witnessed on a beetle, ever.

See? Jaunty!!  Also, check out my child's grubby camp-hands!  (Note to self, don't forget the wet-wipes next time either.)

Here's our billy on the boil for a well earned cuppa  (Note to self, it's great that you actually remembered the sugar but next time BRING MORE)...

And also, since I am a keen birder, the thing I love the very most about this particular camp site is this...

Did you see that cute fluffy Plover chick?  And also, a Little Eagle!  We even saw that guy catch a fish.

So hope you enjoyed a few of our camp-scenes.  We had a really great time!  Though I have now decided to make up a master list of the things I need to bring next time we go camping so I can pack without having to think and be completely assured that I won't forget a thing!  Do you go camping too?  What essentials (and extras!) can you not do without?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Lunchbox #10 - Holiday Special - Lunchbox Treats

In keeping with the theme of vintage treats, here is a treat that's not only the right size for a lunchbox (and very treat-ish, I'm definately not claiming these to be healthy, but they are fun and it's nice to have a special treat every now and then, don't you agree?) but they are also a great party food and I really don't think you could get more of a classic Aussie treat than these!  And, more importantly, they are super easy!

Presenting...Honey Joys!

Yuuuuuuum!!  As we are a nut free household over this way, I used this brand of cornflakes for our Honey Joys - if you are in Australia, they are available at Woolworths...

And here is the recipe - I collected this years ago (before Miss Five was born!) straight off the side of the Kellogs Cornflakes box.  I really can't believe this is the very first time I've ever made them.

Honey Joys
4 cups cornflakes
1/3 cup sugar
90 gms butter
1 tblspn honey

Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius.
Melt butter, sugar and honey together in a saucepan until frothy.
Add cornflakes and mix well.
Spoon into paper patty cases.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool in tray.

Hints:  The recipe card says that this makes about 20, it only made 10 for me but I used big patty cases and piled them high!  Also, you can have them plain but if you want something that looks a little more fun you can sprinkle some 100's and 1000's or coloured choc chips (or anything you like really!) over the top of them after they come out of the oven but before they cool. And having the patty cases in a muffin tray means it's really easy to spoon in the mixture.  See? Wasn't that easy?

I hope you give these a try and enjoy them!  We are off camping and are taking ours with us as an after dinner treat round the campfire, yaaaaay!!!  Have a brilliant weekend, everyone!