Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly

I have always loved lavender as a flower and for its scent, but I have only lately begun to appreciate it for its culinary potential. I have had as a kid lavender rock and lavender fudge, but I am discovering that it's so much more versatile than that.

For my birthday afternoon tea a month ago, I made lavender shortbread. It was dusted with the most delicious lavender sugar, made by whizzing up dried lavender and caster sugar into this heady grey powder that filled the room with perfume. There was sugar left over, so I have kept it for a special cake or pudding.

Tonight I was cooking rump steak, and I rubbed it with dried lavender flowers crushed with the mortar and pestle and mixed with a bit of ground black pepper. The result was very good - subtle, but added a lovely depth of flavour to the meat. It really is a herb that works with savoury as well as sweet. I'm keen to explore more.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Post-exam food

I had an exam this morning. Sitting here, kids in bed, with salad of mixed greens and herbs (including coriander, mmmm), smoked salmon and peach, as well as homemade margherita pizza (thin crust) with basil from my garden, and a glass of moscato. Nice.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Jelly on a plate

Just for fun - the girls liked it. A bit difficult to get out of the (metal) mold - a fine line between enough hot water to loosen it and starting to melt the jelly.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Chicken stir fry

When I first moved out of home my sister and I were living together on a VERY tight budget. We used to do stir fries, just veggies and the occasional bit of shredded pizza ham. No marinade or sauce, just straight up and dead boring.

I remember one day going to a friend's place for dinner, and he got out his wok, got out some food and started preparing a marinade. What a revelation. It had never occurred to me that you should do this (the only excuse I can make is that I was preoccupied with trying to get the marks I needed to transfer into Medicine).

I love the flavours you can impart in a marinade. The basic principle I work with is oil, sugar of some sort, acid (to break down the meat fibres and soften it) plus any other flavourings. The oil helps when cooking and the sugar just makes it nice and caramelised.
I'm doing one tonight with sunflower oil (I'm out of olive oil which would be my usual choice); soy sauce; garlic; lime and lemon zest and juice; and ginger cordial, which provides not only a nice ginger flavour but also some sugar.

Don't know what it will taste like but it smells good!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Brownies - so good

I was at a local cafe yesterday, and saw that they had cinnamon crunch brownies. They were deliciously fudgy chocolate with a yummy crunchy layer on top, laden with cinnamon and white chocolate chips.

The slice was served with vanilla icecream and oh so good. I am going to have to see if I can get the recipe from them.


Jessica: "Look Mum - Ella's eating lamb for dinner!"

Photo evidence

Here is proof of Ella eating. Pumpkin risotto - tasty :-)

Of course, I got a reminder of how messy teaching a baby to eat is. Pumpkin everywhere, then a
pumpkin-y milk chuck later that necessitated a change of clothes. Hmmm - the things you do as a mum. Not one of the nicer culinary experiences.

Monday, 6 February 2012

First foods

My baby Ella had her first food today. That's if you don't count the sucks on the Calippo icypole, the licks of my apple the other day, and the paper she ingested over the weekend (complete with dark green texta).

But her first bona fide food in mouth was tonight. I made a baked pumpkin risotto, and as she was sitting on my lap during dinner, she looked (as usual) pretty interested, so I thought "Why not?" I gave her a bit of pumpkin and she was not at all displeased, I must say. It was pretty mushy, and she mouthed it quite well.

I will put a post up very soon about babies starting solids - I have done a thing with my older girls called Baby Led Weaning (basically self feeding) which has been very successful and I mean to do again. I'll let you know how it goes. Prepare yourself for photos of baby face smeared with food!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012


Homemade pizza tonight - quick and easy, and a good way to use leftovers. My girls "don't like" the roast beef and baked potato and sweet potato we had last night, but they ate it on pizza!

My bread maker makes doing the bases so easy, and they taste fantastic. It's as simple as putting the flour, water, oil, salt and yeast in the bread maker, let it do its thing for 50 minutes, then divide the dough in half, roll it out, slap on some toppings, then put in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

I often just do tomato paste, dried herbs, sliced tomatoes, rocket and basil from my garden, shaved ham and plenty of shredded mozzarella cheese. Yummo!

Neat and tidy

My pantry had not been tidied for months, and was getting to that ridiculous shove it in and shut the door quickly before it falls out stage. So I decided today that enough was enough.

I pulled things out and straightened everything, filling up a garbage bag of empty packets and out of date food. I discovered that I have 2 spare packets of icing sugar (plus an open packet), 2 minute noodles (after swearing to Jessica the other day that we'd run out), and some Easter eggs left over from last year.
Things are now back where they belong - and I now have an idea of what I have to cook with.