Tag Archive | experiments

fruit overload

I eat a lot of fruit.  A lot.  Perhaps a little too much?  How much is too much?  I don’t care, I love the stuff.  Today I had an apple, a pear, 2 bananas, 6 prunes, and sculled a bunch of the fruity beverage featured below.  That’s a pretty normal fruit day.  Viper hardly ever eats fruit.  I don’t get it; I don’t feel right if I don’t get in at least a couple pieces of fresh fruit a day.  Misty is working on a couple of chompers at the moment, so apart from the grizzlies, he is off his usual solid fare.  Bring on the smoothies – he is guzzling back a tasty combo of banana, pineapple and coconut milk as I type.  Chunks of frozen watermelon seems to be helping those sore gums too.

My thing is pineapple at the minute.  Oh yes, we have entered the pineapple-kick territory.  As the pattern goes with my fruit consumption, I tend to go too hard, too fast.  I get excited and go overboard.  With pineapple in particular, this can have horrible results.  Enter the sliced and diced mouth and tongue.  Those tasty fibres are sharp.  I have found blending it up helps this problem, and opens up a new world for pineapple creativity without the bleeding mouth.

I made this for Misty and me the other day… and am now looking at other ways to use up copious amounts of pineapple juice and puree I have hanging around.

The beauty of these recipes are that canned pineapple if just fine to use if you don’t have access to tropical fruit as I do… just try to use the varieties that don’t contain added sugar.

 Photo from week in Sydney… this was at an amazing water front cafe called the Boathouse at Palm Beach (for those in the know, near where ‘Home and Away’ is filmed.  No, I didn’t run into Alf… ‘stone the flamin’ crows!)

Use for Juice:

Pineapple and Mint Kombucha

I’m totally digging home brew Kombucha… so delicious and ridiculously easy once you have the appropriate fungi.  Thanks to Kaitlyn from The Tie Dye Files for the how-to guide.

  • 1/2C pineapple juice
  • 2t lime juice
  • 1 litre of brewed Kombucha
  • Handful fresh mint
Combine all ingredients and store in the fridge.

Purpose for Puree:

Pineapple Fluff Sprinkle

I use this sprinkle to add texture to things like tofu pudding, yoghurt, ice cream or oatmeal/cereal combos.  Love the crunch of buckwheat, and the coconut flour is so good when it soaks into any kind of liquid.  You could use any kind of fruit puree if pineapple is not your thing – apple, mango, peach, pear, apricot.  All good.

  • Pineapple puree (225g pineapple blended with 1/4C water)
  • 1C raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2C coconut flour
  • 1/4t sea salt
  • 2t coconut oil, melted
  • 1-2T liquid sweetener, depending on your sweetie preference (I used apple juice syrup concentrate –  agave, rice syrup, even maple would all be fine)

Combine all ingredients, either place in a dehydrator or do what I did and spread on a lined baking tray for 1 hour at 120 degrees C.  Lower to 100 degrees C for another 30 minutes.  Turn off oven, leaving tray inside until it has cooled down completely.

Pineapple Fluff Sprinkle with toasted pepitas and Green Monster Tofu Pudding (recipe coming).  Crap picture as this was a night time snack, and there is no light.

Fruit consumption?  Big, non existent or in between?  Fresh/dried/canned frozen?  Fruity thoughts?

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sorta socca, and less sleep

My favourite thing in the world used to be sleeping.  I would literally go to bed at about 7pm every night, and snooze my way through to at least 7 in the morning.  I would get up, eat my breakfast, and if it was the weekend, I would sometimes go back to bed for a mid morning nap (because I must have been exhausted).
Maybe this should be the subject for a DMC? (no, not Devastating Mic Control, gotta love Run DMC) but a Deep and Meaningful Chat.  With Misty’s first birthday only a few days away, I have been doing a bit (ok, a lot) of reflection on the past 12 months, and how much I have grown and changed.
These days, I don’t need as much sleep (I’m getting to bed by 10pm, and getting up at 4am!) maybe I’ve just adjusted to the broken sleep –  getting up and down, and up and down throughout the night – either to sooth Misty or just to check (can’t resist, sleeping babes are just too cute).  Or maybe I don’t want to sleep as much any more – I’ve got a reason to be awake.  I actually got to bed excited about waking up.  I haven’t felt like this since I was probably 7 years old.  I’ll tell you something, Misty is the best anti-depressant I’ve ever come across – sleeping just isn’t as tempting any more, I’d rather be hanging with Misty than sleeping my life away.
Wish I could snooze somewhere this groovy.
Anyway, enough emotional stuff – this was one of those ‘panic’ meals.  Driving home after an afternoon out and about, knowing that Misty would be wanting feeding and watering pretty close to quick smart as soon as we got in the door.  Nothing prepared.  Bad, bad Mama.
The usual equation went through my head – what do I have in the fridge/pantry that I can combine that involves fat, protein and carbs easily and quickly?
What will Misty actually eat?
This sorta-socca turned out really well for a 2 second-throw-together-on-a-whim meal.  Misty ate two and a half by himself, and I sampled the remaining half for quality purposes.  You could easily sneak in vegetables to the mix; the cheese helps everything stick together, and it gets all delicious and crispy like.  They actually reminded me of a parmesan wafer in a way, albeit much thicker and heartier.  Awesome for using up those last little dregs of cooked grains you have hanging around – rice, millet, quinoa, whatever you have.  Go on, scrape that fridge.   What I would give to scrape a fridge like this: (Is it weird I have fridge fantasies?)
Sorta-Socca:
(Gluten, soy, egg, nut free.  Could be made vegan by subbing in vegan cheese and using oil)
  • 1/4C cooked grain (I used barley)
  • 1/4C chickpea flour
  • 1/4C grated cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 3T water
  • 1t olive oil/melted butter
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2t mixed dried herbs
  • Butter/oil for pan
Mix all ingredients together.  Set aside for 15 minutes.
Heat some butter or oil in a pan.  I got 3 medium sized socca from the mix – I cooked each one individually, making sure as I spooned the batter into the pan, I spread it out thinly.
Cook for a few minutes each side, squishing down with the back of the spatula to help flatten and crisp up…. it’s also fun to watch the cheese bubble up and ooze.
Cool before serving for the little ones that could burn themselves.  I burnt myself. I highly recommend serving with a touch of Vegemite (or Marmite for Lindsay and Heather of course)
X marks the spot.  A spot of deliciousness.

birthday cake bender

I’ve been experimenting with ideas for what I’m going to use for Misty and Mopsy’s 1st birthday cake.  I’m probably going to cop flack for it, but I’m sticking to my guns and am going to make a healthy (yet hopefully delicious) birthday treat for the kidlets.   People seem to think I’m weird for usually skipping the usual white sugar, butter, cream based desserts.
  1. I don’t really dig heavy cream, especially whipped cream, I never have… just find it too full on.
  2. White sugar and me ain’t mates.  If I want a break out, or break down (sugar hangover = depressed Lou) a sugar overload will give it to me, toot sweet.
  3. Yes, they may be delicious, but traditional desserts make me feel like crap.  What’s wrong with creating something that is both delicious plus actually nutritionally beneficial?
It always makes me feel uncomfortable saying, ‘no thanks,’ to dessert.  I’m not trying to be rude, I’m sure it’s delicious, but I just don’t want the consequences.  Of course, every now and then I will indulge but a few moments of deliciousness on the tongue doesn’t really make the after effects worth it for me.  I think I just have to get used to people rolling their eyes at me or questioning my eating habits.
How do you deal with people questioning your eating habits?  I would love to hear your thoughts/experiences.
I’m a really sensitive person, and I hate feeling like I’m offending someone… saying ‘no thanks,’ to a food offering always makes me uncomfortable, like I’m doing something wrong.
Back to the job at hand – the cake.
Or rather, some sort of brownie-type thing. Not really sure what I’m going for here.  I know I want something different from the usual dry sponge with sugar-loaded frosting that is some obscene fluro colour, all covered with 10 tonnes of lollies.  Crack for kids?  Most definitely.
The first trial was pretty good, considering I was fumbling around in the dark with the recipe.  I had a heap of brown rice flour on hand, so decided that would be good.  Also, if anyone has a gluten sensitivity, it’s always nice to oblige.   I know I don’t want too much sugar, so bananas are my go-to ingredient for adding sweetness and moisture.  I decided I want to use this as an icing (frosting) amd this folded through for some delicious chunk action:
It’s not chocolate.  Close, but no cigar.  It’s tahini chocolate.
  • 1T tahini
  • 1T agave or brown rice syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2t coconut oil
  • 2t cacao powder (or regular cocoa)
  1. Mix everything together, pour into a plastic container or mould lined with glad wrap and freeze.
  2. Easy.
This is more like a truffle than chocolate; it doesn’t go solid – it reminds me of the cookie chunks in cookies and cream ice cream.  Now that’s always a good thing.  It’s really good crumbled over hot oats, or folded through banana soft serve ice cream.
I left it out of trial #2, because I think I’m going to use it as a decoration, rather than in the cake itself.  Trial #1 was good, but not quite there – it was a little too gummy; needed a little more dry in the mix.  I added in some coconut flour and cacao, and something pretty darn yummo was the result.
Woah.  Woah.  I can’t believe this doesn’t have any sugar, butter or anything bad in it.  The texture is amazing (I love coconut flour).  It doesn’t look very pretty as is,  but just you wait until I have gone to town with decorating.  It is fudgy, dense, sweet and really filling.  It’s like a cake, but a bar at the same time, if you get my drift?  With the tahini chocolate folded through it as well would be crazy crazy good.  I’m amazed, I’ve acheived the exact texture of these guys:
I eat these a lot, especially when I’m out and about and need something to tide me over.  They used to make a vegan chocolate version which was incredible… then they took it away from me.  Ha ha! I have recreated it without even trying… the similarity is uncanny.
I’m really really happy with the result of my kitchen play time – Misty approves too.  These bars are excellent for kids – they hold together enough for your little one to grab onto and nosh away at leisure, yet they are still soft enough for a gummy wonder to be included in the feasting.
I promise I will post recipe after the party – I just want to see/hear the reaction from the unknowing party goers first.

skin series #2. body love.

I think it’s time we had a talk.  A little chat about our bodies.  No, no that talk, but this one for me, has been pretty significant.

Would you believe until a few months ago, I would never bare my legs?  I was the ‘girl who always wore black leggings,’ (title for my new novel?)  In Melbourne, this what not an issue, as the weather there is so sporadic you will get rain, wind, hot and freezing all in the space of a few hours.  You have to be clothing-ly prepared.  Also, people wear a lot of black in Melbourne; I think it’s to do with being trendy and mysterious or something.  In New Zealand, the black leggings were fine, as come on- it’s generally freezing there, even in the middle of Summer.  I fitted in well, wearing my leggings by day – spending my nights next to a cozy fire, braiding my leg hair.  It was all good.

Then I moved to Queensland.  A place that could be considered on the border of being sub-tropical.  A place where the catch phrase is ‘Queensland.  Beautiful one day, perfect the next.’  It’s actually called the ‘Sunshine State.’  So yes, it is warm and sunny.  All the time.  Black leggings?  Hmmm not really appropriate attire.  Especially at the beach.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love the heat.  I love the sunshine, the outdoors, the beach, the water – it all makes me so happy.  What was making me unhappy was the state of my skin.  In particular, my legs.

The leggings were because my legs were pretty much constantly covered in a gross itchy rash.  If I shaved or waxed my legs, it would make it worse.  So I had hairy, rash covered pins.  Sexy.  I tried everything – super fancy supposedly sensitive razors, different creams/gels, different waxing techniques, you name it, I tried it.  Those depilatory creams are just so toxic it’s unbelievable (the smell along should be warning, I think I got a buzz off one) not to mention what they did to my skin.  Burning off your hair?  Oh yes, please, burn me!  I’ll pay money for you to burn me.  Amazing.

See the gap between where pants stop, and feet start?  That’s all that was ever bared.

So I kind of just gave up.  Resigned myself to constantly having tanned feet and ankles, with the rest of my legs being hairy, blue and rashy.  It was really depressing actually.

mmm, looks delicious, can I have a slice?

You actually could if you wanted to, but I’m not sure how you’d do swallowing this bad boy.  This (well, actually coconut oil) has given me the gift of bare legs… this Summer I’m wearing shorts.  Yeah.

I decided a few months ago I was over the leggings.  Over wearing any sort of long pants or skirts in Summer.  It’s ridiculous, and I want brown legs for once.  My cure?  Going back to basics.  No fancy pharmacy products with all their claims… just keeping things simple.

I figured if I can eat it, I can use it on my body… I came up with this idea, the concept of using coconut oil in the shower as a protective layer over my skin before shaving.  I already use it as a moisturiser, so I know my skin likes it.  Yes, it clogs up my razor, but now I can even use the crappiest of crappy cheap-o razor and my legs stay rash free.  Seriously, I love coconut oil.

I decided to take things a step further (read: had too much time on my hands, and a bag of beeswax I’ve been meaning to do something with for ages) and created a type of exfoiliating/moisturising shaving bar.  This is really simple.  Stupidly simple.  If you don’t have the shaving problems I did, this is just a lovely treat for your skin.  One side has oats and herbs to scrub away dead skin, and the other is a beautiful moisturiser.

Lou’s  Lotion Bar For Lovely Legs (and other bits)

  • Equal parts grated beeswax and coconut oil (pack beeswax down tightly) I used 3T of each.
  • 1/8t baking soda
  • 1t honey
  • 1/8C oats, roughly chopped
  • 1t rosemary (dry)
  • 2t lavender flowers (dry)
  1. Use a double boiler or a stainless saucepan that you don’t care about (I have a designated, non food creating one).  Gently melt down beeswax and add coconut oil.  Do not let it boil, you just want it melted.
  2. Add in everything else.  (This is super easy and quick as the heavy stuff sinks and the layers sort themselves out).
  3. Pour into desired moulds, or clean plastic container which has been lightly greased with olive oil. (I just use whatever is in my recycling bin).
  4. Place in fridge.
  5. Using a blunt butter knife, ease out of mould(s).  Chop up into pieces/slices if you made one large bar.
I store mine in the fridge due to the humidity here, and it prolongs it’s life.  Use within 2 weeks.
So that’s about it.  I have been wearing shorts constantly for the last 6 weeks – I actually have brown legs for the first time in years.  All thanks to coconut oil.   I got a wolf whistle yesterday… gotta love tradies (sorry, it is totally demeaning as a woman to be heckled at like an object by men on a building site.  Come, on you know you love it).

New News.

New things….

New discovery.

I was very excited to find coconut flour (New discovery #1) that doesn’t cost a million dollars.  I have been wanting to try it out for ages, but couldn’t justify spending $17 for 500g (!)  Apparently, my local health food store (read: my favourite store, visited by myself and Misty almost innappropriately frequently) has found a new supplier and has managed to get the price down.  Hooray.

My next New discovery was something of a happy accident (not that kind).  I always grind up my salt and flax seeds in the same pestle and mortar.  I don’t clean it in between.  Yes, I am very lazy BUT I discovered that the flax/salt combo is both delicious and nutritious when sprinkled over pretty much anything.  Get your Omega 3s while you are hardening your arteries – two birds with one stone baby.

This New recipe is a work in progress.  Sorry.  It’s almost there;  I was surprised how good it was first time off the bat, a few more tweaks and it’s yours.  I just like to take unattractive photos.

New obsession.

The New recipe incorporates my New obsession.  No, it’s not chocolate.  Not really – it does contain cacao but that’s where the similarities end.

New shoes.

Misty is walking everywhere these days.  I have to start putting shoes on him because I think people are looking at us and thinking, ‘huh, dirty hippies – look at that child’s feet – disgusting.’  These New shoes are pretty tough; not strictly “New,” (they were a gift)  but they only fit his grubby feet now.

Old is New again = New project.

Don’t you just love it when you find something you lost/forgot about?  It’s like having something New all over again.   Another happy accident (no, get your mind out of the gutter) was stumbling across this retro pattern as I packed up our book cupboard. Also because the pattern is literally OLD (can you tell? Complete with some little old nana’s sewing notes scribbled on it) and I am going to create something fresh and New based on a groovy classic.

 

New snack.  (From New recipe that is not quite right, but good enough for afternoon tea).

I love it how if you say any word over and over again it starts to sound really weird.  Then you start to think about words, and how a certain sound that we make with our mouth has a specific meaning.  Then I think that I think too much.

What’s new with you?

 

baby green monster balls

Misty’s new favourite thing is biting.  Biting me.  He thinks it’s hilarious, and I don’t know how to stop him.  He also thinks me saying ‘No!’ is positively wee- your- nappy funny.  He has nibbled the railing of his cot, knawed the TV cabinet, and loves gnashing his teeth on my measuring spoons.  I suppose it’s just like having a puppy – our wooden outdoor furniture will never be the same after Boosty’s treatment of it.  Bite marks?  Try whole chunks of arm rests and chair legs GONE.

So I realise that this recipe would have been a great Hallo-weeny type dish, but since it’s not really celebrated here I’m not  bothered.  I have a little monster all of my own.  Let’s hope he will enjoy biting into these, rather than my shoulder or knee caps.  He’s seriously going to draw blood soon, it really hurts.  I figure if I combine cheese with anything, Misty will eat it, so I’ve snuck some chicken in too, to see if he’ll go for it this time.

Green Monster Balls:

1/2C cooked rice

1/2 large free range organic chicken breast

1/3C grated cheese

1T ground flax seeds

1/2C breadcrumbs

1/3C edamame (or peas)

1T milk

Freshly ground black pepper

A handful of greens (I used Indian spinach) chopped up finely (either by hand or just whizz in the food processor).

  1. Pulse chicken and breadcrumbs together in a food processor.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and place in fridge for 15 minutes.
  3. Roll tablespoons full of mixture into balls.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees C for 10 minutes, roll balls over and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.
They look frightening, but my little beastie gobbled ’em up.  He wasn’t scared.  The colours are amazing – straight from Mother Nature, why would you want to add fake colour to things?  Crazy crazy world we live in.
Has any one tried Indian spinach?  It’s the most beautiful plant… reminds me of Thai basil a little.  Purple and green leaves that taste in between English spinach and beetroot leaves.  A whopping bunch for $1.50 from the local Asian supermarket?  Thank you very much.

smokin’ salmon struggles

You probably know I’m fond of salmon.  I know a certain yogini that’s very fond of the stuff too.  As well as being ridiculously delicious, eating salmon has done wonders for my skin (Skin Series #2 coming up).  Salmon has a special place in my heart;  it was the first meal that Viper cooked for me, as he tried to woo my affections.  He definitely has talent when it comes to preparing and cooking fish.  Wooing?  Not so much, but the salmon did help his cause.  We love to play around with toppings/flavours to pair with salmon  … honey, sweet chilli, soy, miso, brown sugar – so many great combinations.  Keeping things sugar free this week, and the results spoke for themselves.

One of our favourite meals that we eat without fail each week is the same one he prepared for me, many moons ago.  Sometimes the simple things are best – grilled salmon (on the rarer side of cooked) a fresh seasonal salad, and boiled potatoes with a home made dill tartare.  I know I tease Viper about his fisherman-skills, but he totally knows his fish and how to wrangle them in the kitchen.

Smokin’ Salmon technique

Piece of salmon (250g ish) with skin ON.  (I don’t eat the skin, it creeps me out, but it is essential for the cooking method).

  • 1t soy
  • 1/4t tamarind paste
  • 1 medjool date, chopped up as finely as you can
  • 1cm piece root ginger, grated
  • 1T boiling water

Mix tamarind, soy, ginger and date.  Pour over the hot water, which just loosens everything up a little.  Loosey goosey.

Top fish with mixture.  Sprinkle over a pinch of salt.

Now I can’t take credit for the method – this was Viper’s stroke of genius.  I’ll be honest with you; I can’t cook fish.  Well, I just don’t – Viper is a ninja at it, he always presents the most perfectly cooked, succulent fish – so why would I try and risk botching it?  Oh, and I’m lazy.  So while I was having a shower, Viper did this:

  • Place the fish on a baking sheet, lined with aluminium foil.  Crank up your grill (around 200 degreesC) get the fish under it (maybe the second rung down, not too far away) for a fast and furious scalding.  Basically, you want to get the outside of the fish crisping and the skin even slightly burning at this point.  This seals in the moisture and gets the smokey flavour happening.
  • After 4-5 minutes under the grill, pull fish out, and wrap it up in the aluminium foil you have it sitting on.  CAREFUL.  Use tongs.
  • Place your fish parcel in a hot dry fry pan, and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Remember, it’s always better to pull it off the heat earlier rather than later – overcooked fish is such a shame!  If it is too rare for your liking, you can always return it to the heat.  We removed the skin before eating, as it burns with the cooking process.
Wow, this was crazy good.  The tamarind-date sauce combined with the new cooking method produced a sweet, smoky, deeply flavoured piece of fish.  I’m still getting over it now.  I don’t have an after-shot of it, too busy eating.  Sorry guys (I’m not really).
Dill Tartare
(inspired by my Mum’s home made dill mayo I sampled the last time I was in NZ)
  • 1/2C mayonaise (I usually make my own, here is the general idea, but pre prepared is totally fine)
  • 1 gherkin (5cm in length, approx) grated or chopped very finely
  • 1/2T capers, chopped finely
  • 1/2t wholegrain mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice to taste
  • 1T fresh dill, chopped finely
Combine all ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
Adding different seasoning and herbs to plain mayonnaise creates a whole new element to a meal.  Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise – I find the flavour and texture a little off putting.  This tartare, however really goes amazingly with seafood.  I think I like it because the acidity from the capers, gherkins and lemon cut through the creaminess of the mayo which usually I find way too rich.  Viper is a freak for mayo – we seriously go through so much of the stuff it’s a little concerning.  I never could understand the dipping chips (French fries) in mayonnaise thing.  Ketchup all the way.  What do you reckon?
This meal was amazing.  Amazing.  I am struggling with eating fish though – I love it so much, and nutritionally, it is stellar. The issue is that it’s proving quite difficult to get wild salmon where I am – most of it is farmed in Tasmania these days.  My conscience is getting the better of me… what to do, what to do?

mon petit chou

One of the maybe 3 things I can say in French.  I think the other 2 are inapropriate.

Cabbage is one of those strange vegetables.  It’s pigeon-holed a little bit (well, it is in my brain).

…Coleslaw

…Sauerkraut

…?

I’m not allowed to eat raw cabbage.  I love it, but it does not love me.  Viper has banned me from it.  You join the dots.

I love sauerkraut, but it’s more of a condiment than a ‘dish.’

I got excited by Katie’s idea of roasting.  I managed to score a whopping sugar loaf cabbage from a sweet lady’s organic vege patch on an afternoon meander with Misty.  60c.  Wicked.

This was 1/4 of a monster cabbage – it cooks down to about 2C worth.

  • Sliced cabbage
  • 2T balsamic vinegar
  • 4T water
  • 1t sea salt
  • 2T nutritional yeast
  • 1t wholegrain mustard
  • 1/2t onion powder/granules
  • 1/2t garlic powder/granules
  • 1t olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Spread on a baking tray and roast at 200 degrees C for around 25-35 minutes.  Give it a good mix around every 5 minutes until it’s tender, browning and getting little crispy bits (or however you like it)
  3. Season with extra salt and pepper.

I cranked up the grill for the last 2 minutes so it got lots of little crispy bits going on.

Viper was afraid.  He knows what happens after I eat cabbage.

Good news!  No unfortunate after effects (cooking the cabbage is the key.  Still banned from coleslaw) and delicious.

Gives the humble old cabbage a bit of sex appeal.  mmm sexy cabbage.