Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Yes, I know, I named them "Cookies". My pet hate, Americanisms creeping into our language.
But, these look like cookies, so I'm calling them cookies, OK?

I based them on a recipe I found on a really interesting blog,

The kitchen sink part is because they have pretty much everything in them except it. Cornflakes, oats, nuts, coconut, choc chips, there's not much else you could add and they're delicious! I make them fairly large and cook them for 15 minutes because I like them really crunchy. If you like a softer inside, cook for only 10 - 12 minutes.
I've put in cup measurements for those poor souls who don't own a Thermomix. The cornflakes could be crushed in a food processor, but only for a second or so.

Make sure that you put ALL the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. When I made these, I checked in the oven after a few minutes to find them spreading all over the tray. Yep! There was my flour still sitting in the sifter. Not to be outdone, I scraped the mess back into the bowl and added the flour. That's why I have no choc chips, because they all melted. But I like them this way as well. So if you like, you can melt the chocolate and add with the wet ingredients.

Kitchen Sink Cookies
The Bush Gourmand

90g Cornflakes (2 1/2 cups)
120g butter, cubed
120g brown sugar
150g white sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
2 eggs
210g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour
1 1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
80g dark choc chips

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease or line baking trays.
Crush cornflakes by blitzing on speed 7 in 1 second bursts until lightly crushed, not crumbs. Set aside in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Cream butter and sugars for 20 seconds on speed 4. If butter is hard, use heat (37) for the first 30 seconds.
Add wet ingredients and mix for another 10 seconds on speed 4.
Pour into bowl with dry ingredients and mix well.
Roll into walnut sized balls and place on trays allowing room for spreading slightly.
Press down with heel of palm.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes, depending on how fudgy or crispy you like your cookies.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Layered Salad to Go

When browsing through Pinterest, I found a picture of salad in a jar. It looked so cute with it's little string around it with a fork. But, pretty impractical as jars are heavy and they break! Also, you then have to transfer the salad to another container. More washing up!

I decided to make my salad in the container that I planned to eat it from. A simple clear plastic container worked well. Dressing goes on the bottom, then veggies that won't go soggy. I used sweetcorn, chick peas, sliced snow peas and carrot. On top of that went tomato and cucumber with a little finely diced shallot and then finally lettuce.
My container was wide enough to fit a splade in, so it was simply a matter of mixing it all together at lunch time and eating it!

Instead of chick peas, you could use lentils, tuna, chicken, roast beef or silverside. Spinach or salad leaves can replace the lettuce. There's an endless variety of salads to be made, it just depends on what you have in stock.


Sassy Water

This is the most delicious tasting and refreshing drink! It's simply filtered water with sliced lemon, sliced cucumber and mint, but don't be fooled, the flavour is amazing. I can't stop drinking it. Some recipes also contain a teaspoon of grated ginger. I'll try that next time.

It's apparently used as a detox in a four day diet that's supposed to give you a flat tummy. I'm sure I'd have a flat tummy if I cut out wine, beer, bread, potatoes, biscuits, cakes, salt and sugar. But where's the fun in that? And, how long would that last anyway?

I don't believe diets work. Reducing calories (sorry, just can't work with kilojoules) and increasing exercise will help you lose weight, but it has to be something you're prepared to do for ever. It's all about metabolism and everyone's metabolic rate is different.
The body is designed to use all the energy that is taken in and if  there is excess, it's deposited as fat. The fat serves a purpose in that it will be converted to energy when there is nothing coming in, ie, when we're dieting.

My theory is that some people have a caveman metabolism where the body will conserve energy as fat and slow right down when calories are reduced. As soon as calories are increased, it will store them to protect against that starvation period just experienced. So weight appears to come back very quickly. This is how yo-yo dieting comes about.

When I find I am gaining a little weight, like right now over winter, I'll just exercise more. I don't reduce my food intake, because as soon as I try to do that, all I can think about is food! I find that once the exercise kicks in and weight begins to drop ever so slightly, then the food intake lessens automatically.
But, I'm lucky and have my Dad's metabolism. He managed to eat and drink everything and never gain any weight. I have gained weight over the years, but not so much that I'm overweight - yet.

I just like drinking this flavoured water. I drink a lot of water during the day anyway, so this just makes it nicer. If it gives me a flat belly, well that's just a bonus, but I'm not holding my breath...


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Miso Stock

Oh delish!

I've had a packet of Japanese Miso Stock sitting in my pantry for about 3 months. I bought them for some purpose since forgotten.
Tonight, tea was to be a pot roast, a 'girello' I'd purchased recently. The girello is a cut normally used for corned beef, the eye round. It was very lean and I felt perfect for slow cooking in a deliciously flavoured stock. Sealed on all sides, it was ready for the liquid. This is when I remembered the miso stock. So, after adding water, a few teaspoons of these little golden granules were added and immediately they gave off that typically Japanese fragrance. I decided that nothing else was needed.

The end result, after slow cooking for some hours, was the most deliciously flavoured tender beef with mouth watering gravy made from the stock. Root vegetables added to the stock were also subtly flavoured.
The umami flavour means that little salt is needed to gain maximum flavour.

After I'd eaten my meal, I tasted the stock on it's own and couldn't resist a bowl of it! Wow, it was something to be savoured. I highly recommend using miso stock granules (sometimes known as dashi granules) instead of salt or stock powders.

It can be purchased from an online store that sells Japanese ingredients and foods.

Simple Living

I often ponder on the things in our life that are most important. The three I always come up with are family & friends, health & happiness.

Our family is very close anyway, though we don't always keep in touch with extended family members as we should. Everyone is so tied up in their own lives, caught up in the daily struggle that is life. My close friends live right here in my town and can always be relied upon.
I find Facebook is a great way to keep up with family and friends that don't live nearby.

Our health is good, with only the occasional back problems, but nothing serious and nothing that some exercise would probably help. We eat well, though I do need to cut back on the sugar and alcohol!

So how do we define happiness? I'm generally a happy person, I always look on the bright side and enjoy simple comforts such as a warm bed with a contented husband beside me and plenty to eat and drink. I love to look out on to beautiful paddocks of flowering canola and enjoy hearing native birds in my garden.
But, more than anything, I really enjoy being able to make my own products, be they food products or skin care products. I get a lot of pleasure in producing something for a quarter of the price I would normally have to pay. Even greater joy knowing that it's far superior to anything I can buy.

Now if only I could grow a decent garden. I'm not a gardener's bootlace, and don't really enjoy being out in the dirt plucking at weeds and pulling up metres of couch runners that invade and seem to go down in the earth as far as China. But, I am encouraged in seeing what my dear late niece has achieved out at our farm house.

She has made very simple gardens with succulents and drought tolerant plants with the odd annual here and there. Bits of rusty farm equipment, old tin cans and bent up metal buckets are used to enhance and  decorate the area. She carted dozens of rocks in a wheelbarrow from the paddocks and has used them as both features and as borders for her gardens. A fantastic fire pit has also been created out of rocks.
There's no lawn, just gravel that has been pressed in and raked to remove loose rubble. Most plants were gifted cuttings. Water from the bathroom and kitchen is collected in a bucket which is dug into the ground where the outlet pipe ends. This is used to water the garden as there's only rainwater available and that is too precious to waste.

Such creativity and enterprise has made me re-consider my garden. It's a hodge podge of bushes, a few trees and two underused vegie patches. Lots of lawn, (which I must start to mow myself instead of waiting for Steve to do it) which I will reduce. A bit of green lawn is lovely to look at in summer, but we have way too much to keep watered, mown and weeded.

So, I will be making some changes in the next few months and hopefully producing some home grown vegetables and overhauling my garden space to make it more practical to maintain and more in tune with our climate and environment. Watch this space!!