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Preserved Plums

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Its the season for plums now, so what can we do with an abundance of this fruit. There are many varieties of plums to choose from. Many people grow this fruit in their backyard too. Apart from eating this juicy fruit, we can preserve them in jars which can be used later on. Note: ensure you store fruit in a clean, sterilized, dry jar with fitting lids.

Here are some examples:

  1. Fruit liqueur – Wash the fruit well, dry well with a clean tea towel. Place in a large jar, sprinkle with sugar, pour in a bottle of vodka (the cheapest you can find) close, give it a few shakes for a few days till the sugar dissolves, then put away for a few months. After a few months this will become a lovely plum liqueur. Strain into a bottle. Also serve as a dessert with fresh yogurt, cream or ice-cream.
  2. Stewed fruit – add fruit to water in a saucepan, add sugar and cinnamon (optional), cook until tender. When cool, pour into individual containers and freeze.
  3. Sweet and sour sauce – Cook with chilies, garlic, onion, vinegar, ginger and a little sweet soy sauce.

Home made Electrolytes

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It is so important to keep hydrated, even as we get busy and can forget to drink fluids throughout the day. Soon our body can react and show symptoms of tiredness, headaches, dry skin, weakness.

Here is a simple home-made concoction for electrolyte to keep hydrated in the event you or your family suffer dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting illness or during hot summer season.

  • 34 ounces (1 liter) of water
  • 6 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine them in a large bowl or pot and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Keep in a bottle with fitting lid in fridge and use when required.

Honey & Lemon cake

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We are in middle of winter here, so I thought of making a cake with honey, lemon and cinnamon which are some of the ingredients that can cure colds and coughs. The pantry is stocked with plenty of honey, lemons, so why not add these ingredients to make a cake!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup (72g) almond flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup honey

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt, at room temperature

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a honeycomb pan or 9″ round cake pan.
  2. To make the batter: Weigh the flours, or measure them by gently spooning them into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions. Beat in the honey, zest, and extracts.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk or yogurt, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan; if you’re baking in the honeycomb pan, we recommend tapping the pan firmly on the counter to help eliminate any air bubbles at the bottom.
  7. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack.
  9. To make the glaze: Combine the honey, butter, and lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl or in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Heat until the butter is melted and stir until smooth.
  10. Brush the glaze onto the warm cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting.
  11. Store leftover cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Steamed Rice in microwave

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As rice is part of our daily meals, it can become cumbersome to always have cooked rice in the home kitchen. It is economical and nutritious to cook as well. The process to prepare rice and cook it, can become tiresome! So I was looking at buying a new rice cooker as in the past many have not worked and I had to dispose of it. I wanted one with a ceramic bowl and with a long term guarantee. Not so easy, as I have been searching the internet. Instead I came across a post from one celebrity chef who cooks everything in the microwave, so I have decided to utilise my microwave and found a recipe for cooking rice quickly. Here is the recipe

1 cup of rice – wash well till water is clear

Add 1 plus 1/4 cups of water and a pinch of salt.

Place in a microwaveable container with lid, pyrex dish with a glass lid. Stir through.

Microwave for 5 minutes on high. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing lid.

Remove lid and stir lightly with a fork.

If its too dry, add a little more water, stir through and microwave for a further 2 minutes.

As a tip – 1 cup uncooked rice can feed upto 2 adults. If you need to increase the amount to 2 cups, use the same ratio of rice and water. Keep in mind the size of your cooking container to allow for the rice to cook and expand as well.

With a variety of rice grains – Jasmine, Basmati, long grain, short grain, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid you add to cook with and the result – either the grains will be soft or grainy.

Also its a good idea to stir through cooked rice to separate the grains, while it is still hot.

With microwave cooking, the benefits are a reduction of cooking time and washing up extra dishes, as you can cook and serve from the same container.

Steamed rice can be used to serve with curries, stir fried meat and vegetables, dhal or made into a fried rice, rice pudding, rissoles, etc.

The cost of rice is quite economical as a small quantity can feed many people starting from $4 per kilo to less (depending which country you live in). 1 kilo of rice fills about 6 cups of uncooked rice.

I hope you find this recipe helpful!

Feeding your family on a budget

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Are you on a very tight budget to feed your family daily or until next pay cheque? Have no fear, you can do it, even though it seems impossible! I have learnt a lot from my dear mother who had to encounter this situation while we were kids. She would say ‘what can we buy with a few dollars only’. But with a bit of creativity and ingenuity, she would buy a few items and cook a meal for hungry tummies.

If you are used to a rich diet, you may find this hard to adapt to but with practice you will actually enjoy it. This teaches us to look through your pantry of non perishables and add a few items to make a delicious meal. It also teaches us to eliminate rich and unnecessary foods which are not healthy for our bodies.

Taking into consideration that we need protein, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies regularly to keep us healthy and happy.

Some of the cheapest non perishable foods we can find in grocery stores are as follows. The cost is usually within a few dollars a kilo

Carbohydrates:

  • Flour
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Noodles
  • Rice

Proteins:

  • Eggs
  • Tins of Tuna
  • Sardines

Affordable and nutritious fresh foods:

Protein

Soup bones – chicken, beef, pork, fish

Chicken – full sized

Beef mince

Vegetables:

  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Zuchini
  • Onions
  • Greens

Fruits:

  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears

Affordable tinned foods to keep in pantry:

  • Chick peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Tuna

Most cheapest/nutritious meal:

  • Chicken broth
  • Mince – base mince sauce can be mixed with other vegetables to cook with pastas, stir fries, rice, rissoles.

With a few dollars to spare you could buy a bag of flour, you could cook pancakes for breakfast, banana bread, bread, chapatis, pizzas.

Eggs? Pancakes, scrambled eggs, omelet, quiche, egg sandwiches, egg fried rice.

Stay tuned for my next edition of recipes for all of the above food staples within budget.

~Mary

Broth

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Broth? Have you heard of broth? The web is buzzing with broth recipes. There is a business selling hot take away broth rich in fresh and natural nutrients. The ideal drink and wholesome food for those cold, wintry, rainy days.

I grew up with family always having a pot of broth on the stove and having to drink a bowl of it, whatever the taste may be! Sometimes being a kid we were fussy with broth and would turn our noses up, but it was really good for your health. Years later being a housewife and mum, I learnt the value of adding this to my regular cooking.

Some advantages of cooking broth:

  1. Economical:  Its cheap to buy a bag of beef bones or chicken bones from your local butcher. Sometimes they will give it to you free if you regularly purchase from them.
  2. Wholesome and nutritious.
  3. Bones left over can be given to your pets
  4. A whole pot of broth can last for a long time. Store a few cups in your freezer to be either reheated or made into a vegetable soup, stock for casseroles, gravies or pilao.
  5. Its a hot meal to come home to, served with fresh bread.
  6. Less food preparation time – just put all ingredients in a pot or slow cooker.

Nutritional value:

  • Bone: The bone itself yields minerals like calcium and phosphorus. Sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and silicon are also present.
  • Marrow: Bone marrow gives you vitamin A, vitamin K2, omega-3s, omega-6s and minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, boron and manganese. Marrow from beef and lamb also contains CLA.
  • Connective tissue: This tissue provides glucosamine and chondroitin, which are popular dietary supplements for arthritis and joint pain.

Additionally, bones, marrow and connective tissue are all largely made up of collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked.

Gelatin has a unique profile of amino acids, and is particularly high in glycine.

Recipe:

  • 2–3 pounds of chicken or beef bones
  • 4 liters (1 gallon) of water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 1 onion (peeled)
  • 4 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 large carrot (cleaned)
  • 1 piece of celery
  • 1 teaspoon of salt,
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 stalk of parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash bones and place bones and vegetables in a big, stainless steel pot.
  2. Pour water into the pot so it covers the contents. Add the vinegar, and then raise the temperature to bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, add salt and pepper, and then let simmer for 4–24 hours (the longer it simmers, the tastier and more nutrient-dense it will be).
  4. Allow the broth to cool, and then strain the solids out. Now it’s ready.

After it is done, you can store the broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Instead of a pot, you may also want to use a pressure cooker, slow cooker or Crock-Pot. 

Bread making during lockdown!

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RECIPE:

3 1/2 cups of plain flour (or bread flour)

1 sachet of yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup hot water

Mix all dry ingredients lightly, slowly add in the water and start mixing from the centre till a dough starts coming together. Knead a few minutes, then place this dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling wrap or a tea towel to allow it to rise. After a couple of hours check it again and it should have doubled. Place this on a lightly floured board and knead lightly again. Place this in a lightly oiled loaf tin and bake in preheated medium heat oven for about 30 mins. The bread should be a light brown.

From this dough, you can divide into 6-8 bun sizes and bake it on a greased tray.

Adventures in cooking during lockdown!

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As many of us have been in lockdown over the past few months and facing the inevitable, we are looking for ways to keep busy and active. I have noticed an increase in cooking videos on the net and decided to try out some of them. With some spare time on my hands I decided to try out some dishes which I wouldn’t have had time to try out before!

Are you constantly on the lookout for quick easy meals using ingredients in your pantry/fridge? I have learnt the art of being creative with using a combination of ingredients. There are some ingredients which prove a meal saver many times. Like – flour, eggs, cereals – rice, pasta, lentils, oats, semolina, tinned provisions.

Here are some quick dishes which I have discovered with 2 staple ingredients:

  1. Dosas (Indian snack or light main meal)

Ingredients:  Semolina 1 cup, Yogurt (natural) 1 cup. Mix these 2 in a bowl separately. 1 cup cooked left over rice. Salt to taste.

Method:  Mix well the semolina and yogurt in a bowl. In a blender add the cooked rice, then the semolina and yogurt mixture. Blend for a few seconds. Pour this mixture into a bowl, cover and set aside for 2-3 hours. You can add a little water to the blender jug to clean out whatever is left inside and add to the batter. The batter should be a little thick, not too thin (otherwise it could break up when frying it). After 2-3 hours, get ready to fry these dosas (like crepes). Use a little oil for each dosa to avoid it breaking up. Heat a frypan on low heat, add a little oil, pour a ladle spoon of the batter in the centre and allow to cook for a few seconds, spreading it gently with the back of the ladle around the pan a little to form a crepe. With a flat spatula ease the crepe over gently to cook on the other side. Turn out onto a serving platter.

Serve this with a coconut chutney, potato bhujia, spiced dhal, pudina chutney (mint).

2. Flatbread or Naan

Ingredients:  Self raising flour 1 cup. Natural yogurt 3/4 cup. A pinch of salt.

Mix the flour, pinch of salt and yogurt well together till it forms a dough. This takes a couple of minutes. The dough is quite soft. Pat into a round shape, cover and set aside for a few minutes. Heat a hot griddle. No oil needed! It cooks well as it is. Cut the dough into 4 parts, roll into a round shape about 8 inch in width. Cook each flatbread for a minute on each side, it will puff up a bit, keep turning till well cooked both sides. You can double the quantities for extra serves.

This is so delicious eaten while still hot, serve with anything of your choice – dips, cheese, curries, salads. Great for anytime of the day – breakfast, light lunch or dinner. This recipe can also be used for pizza.

Look out for my bread making endeavors in my next post!

I look forward to your comments.  We are not perfect, we are on a learning journey. Some days are better than others, but keep trying!

Happy cooking!

~ Mary

BROWN LENTILS

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So, I found a tin of brown lentils in my pantry, while scouting around for what to cook! I have been adding tinned foods to my pantry to stock up during the pandemic, just in case we run out of fresh produce! I checked out for recipes and found many tempting and easy meals to prepare from just a tin of brown lentils. Here they are:

1.  Soup

Add a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, to your favourite winter soup.

2.  Power rice salad

Mix cooked brown rice with canned brown lentils, rinsed and drained, then add pine nuts, currants, tinned corn and fresh herbs such as chives and parsley.

3.  Vegie burger

Add chopped onion and grated carrot to a can of brown lentils, rinsed, drained and mashed. Mix in chopped fresh herbs, fresh breadcrumbs and an egg to hold it together. Shape into patties, coat in flour, spray with oil then pan-fry, grill or bake until golden.

4.  Nutritious dip

Place 2 cans of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, into a food processor with 1-2 garlic cloves, the juice of 1 lemon and a splash of olive oil. Process until you have a smooth paste, adding more oil if necessary. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.

5.  On the side

Great with grilled fish. Sauté a chopped onion in oil until soft. Add a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, and a diced tomato. Cook until the tomato is soft and lentils heated through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and balsamic vinegar to serve.

6.  Main event

To turn the above dish into a main course, substitute roasted red capsicum for the tomato. Top with chopped parsley, pitted black olives, chopped walnuts and cubed feta, and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

7.  Curry in a hurry

The next time you make an Indian curry, throw in a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained. This goes well with pumpkin and potatoes.

8.  Delicious dhal

Sauté a chopped onion in oil until soft. Add 2 chopped potatoes, dried Indian spices (cumin, turmeric and cardamom), and stir until fragrant. Cover with water and cook until potato is tender. Add 2 cans of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, and 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Cook until spinach is wilted. Serve with a dollop of low-fat natural yoghurt.

9.  Classic combo

Together these ingredients create the perfect flavour combination – mix canned brown lentils, rinsed and drained, with some baby spinach leaves and finely chopped red onion. Dress with yoghurt and lemon juice.

10.  Lentil bolognaise

Make your favourite bolognaise sauce, or cannelloni or lasagne filling, substituting the minced beef with canned brown lentils.

I hope you enjoy these delicious and nutritious meal ideas – with a can of Brown Lentils!

Stay healthy and safe!

~ Mary

 

Bakery-Style Lemon Blueberry Muffins — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

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Sometimes we just need to get away from it all, and usually, it’s just when we can’t. Why is it that days can feel endless and yet time just never seems to stop? I was really busy before I became a mother, and now — well, getting through my days and actually checking things off […]

via Bakery-Style Lemon Blueberry Muffins — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

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