Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tunisian lentil, chickpea and pumpkin casserole

In an attempt to warm myself up from the inside out earlier in the week, I made this comforting veggie casserole. The recipe is inspired by a recipe in the Maza gourmet foods recipe book. Although they sell spice mixes, I prefer to make my own with the spices in my pantry, googling spice blend recipes and experimenting. I have a few different spice mixes written down in my recipe scrap books now I used all the time, including my own taco mix blend.

I did however buy a jar of preserved lemons from the Maza foods market stall at the Rendelsham village market in February.

Tunisian spice mix 

3 Tablespoons ground coriander
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds
1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 Tablespoon smoked paprika
2 pinches cayenne pepper

Mix all together. Place in a clean jar, label and keep in the pantry. There's enough of the spice mix to make the following recipe twice. Other than than it's good to use from savoury beef mince to sprinkle over veggies before baking.

How to make Lentil, chickpea and pumpkin casserole

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Tunisian spice mix
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
2 cups pumpkin, about 1cm cubes
2 cups water
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
2 cans brown lentils
chopped parsley
half a preserved lemon, washed and chopped finely.

Heat oil over a medium heat and cook onion until soft. Add spice mix and garlic and heat through the spices, while stirring. After a minute, add a little water, a tablespoon, so the spices don't burn.

Add pumpkin, stir, then tomatoes and finally water. Bring to a boil.

Add chickpeas and lentils, stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft and is nice and saucy.

Stir through preserved lemon and parsley.

I like it served with a dollop of natural yogurt and sprinkled with fresh herbs, like parsley, mint or coriander.

Joining Leanne for #lovinglife

Monday, June 26, 2017

Croc Family Robinson(O'Brien)

  • This post contains affiliate links, that if lead to a sale, would mean I would receive a small commission

I know it's the middle of winter, but my post today is about Crocs, amongst other things, or the knock offs our family are currently wearing.

hubby's fave footwear and the chilluns

My hubby loves his Crocs. I can't remember what happened to his last pair, probably a blow out of some sort, but he went looking for new ones and found them at Rivers, on sale no less, at five dollars a pair. He bought two and has one stashed away for when the other ones die and go to shoe heaven, namely the red bin, or in his case occasionally the yellow recycling bin, because sometimes, god love him,  he doesn't get the yellow bin concept.

In his absolute Croc loving bargain buying excitement, he decided the whole family needed a pair of the fantastic creation that is the Croc. He channelled his inner Oprah, and we all got a pair.

My son even has a pair, and I kinda cringe when he happily wears them out and about, with socks no less! His choice. He has Aspergers, and if he's happy and comfortable, I am happy.

Now they come in awesomely handy when I want the girls to throw on something in a hurry. Awesome, and they love their rubbery, spongy footwear.

Mine live at the back door. I think they rock for feeding the chooks, or ducking out into the garden to cut some herbs or to gather lettuce. But when he declares we should all wear them on our impending Queensland holiday, I am pushing the 'No way Jose' button. These babies, even though he picked a pretty cool colour, are NOT venturing past the letter box sunshine! Whereas, he wears them everywhere, and if we were church going people, he'd probably wear them there too!

my lovely department store yard shoes ;)

Sharing this post with Denyse for #lifethisweek

Monday, June 19, 2017

My tips for making Sushi rolls

Sushi rolls are one of those recipes I make every now and again. I seem to get a craving for that seaweed flavour with the mayo and fillings.

My son LOVES sushi, and when I deliver it to his house, he delves straight in. It's one of those Mums' cooking things, and I hope it's one of the recipes he remembers me for. I am totes hoping that when he buys it somewhere else he thinks, it's not the same as Mums. In a good way. I would have never thought when he was a little boy, that one day, my favourite thing to drop off at his house food wise, would be sushi rolls! I even take a little tub of soy sauce, along with a lot of love.

I've been making sushi rolls for what seems like forever, but I think it's been about six or seven years. Long enough to not have a recipe written down anywhere. So when someone asks, I can't give them one. Just advice, from trial and error of making them myself.

When you buy sushi rice, or nori sheets(in my woolworths, both found in the pasta, rice, asian cooking aisle) there is a sushi roll recipe on the packet. 

I cook the rice according to the absorption method on the packet. Make sure you don't take the lid off to often, the simmer is at the lowest, and don't be afraid to add a little more water if needed. The rice really absorbs the water fast!

Two cups of uncooked rice will make about six rolls.

When the rice has cooled a bit, mix in the rice wine vinegar. I use a little less than the instructions say on the rice packet, the nori sheet packet says to use less, so find a balance that you like. Place in the fridge straight away and cool down. Don't use the rice to make your rolls if it is still hot.

My favourite protein fillings are seafood, whether that be smoked salmon(yum yum) or processed crab meat, or chicken.

The day I took these photos, I used left over meat from honey soy chicken wings, from the night before.

I made my own homemade mayo with grainy mustard. As an alternative to that, use whole egg mayo, or kewpie mayonnaise, with mustard or wasabi mixed in to flavour. 

Have all your ingredients and utensils ready and layed out around your rolling mat/teatowel before you start assembling. Have a plate ready to place your rolls on to go in the fridge before cutting into sections.
You really dont need a bamboo rolling mat, save your money and use a clean tea towel.

Place the nori sheet with the ridges facing up, and the shiny side facing down.

Spread the rice with wet fingers and a wet spoon as it can get a bit sticky, to a thickness of about 7mm, not quite one centimetre.

Make sure you leave about 3 cm at the top of the nori sheet with no rice.

Place a line of mayo, in a line across the rice, about half way.

Lay the meat over the mayo and add the other ingredients, like avocado, carrot or cucumber.

Start rolling the nori sheet, holding the filling in place as you roll. Not too tightly, as the nori sheet will split.

Just before you close that roll, brush some water at the end of the nori sheet. This will help the end of the roll seal.

When cutting the whole sushi rolls into 2-3 centimetre sections, use a chopping board and a sharp, wet knife to get a clean cut.

You will need to wipe down and re-wet the knife with cold water after a couple of cuts, as the rice will dirty the knife and the cuts will become less effective.

I hope this helps and gives you all a little more confidence to have a go at sushi rolls yourself :)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Winter gardens and taking the groceries out

I took these first two photos on the way home from Pelican Point on Friday. Being a long weekend, we had people renting our house, and I'd been over to mow the lawns and turn everything on. The colour in the turning leaves of the trees begged me to pull over and capture their golden glow. I loved the way the leaves danced about when I drove through. There were quite a few leaves floating down to the ground while I was parked there.

The weather has most definitely turned and we found that no more than yesterday when we drove to Lake Leake for a barbeque. It did not take long after we arrived, to decide to turn around and go home, deciding we'd just taken the bread, sausages and sauce out for a drive in the countryside. It was freezing and should have known by the clouds hanging over the pine forests nearby. I didn't even get the camera out the bag for some shots of the lake!

Not much is happening in the garden, except for frost damage. The poor banana tree has copped it and the capsicums and eggplants, that should have been pulled out already (I have been slack, or busy. You choose the excuse) are just sticks with dead leaves on them. 

There is a little colour about, and my lettuce plants are booming, I was a little worried with the frosts, but they came through beautifully. It feels amazing to not have to buy lettuce at the supermarket! 

Jonquils are starting to flower, one of my favourite things that happen in the garden at this time of year. The white ones are first, the yellow ones will follow a little later.

We felt sorry for poor old Peppi shivering in the mornings, Brett went down and bought him a blue puffy jacket, with a hood even! We got such a laugh when we first put it on him.

 I am counting down the days when the temperature climbs above 18 degrees again. Although the kids were so excited during the week to see ice all over the lawns on the way to school. I've taken to presetting the heating to come on before I get up. Too darn cold!

I warned the kids not to play in the ice when they got to school, and I am the one this long weekend that has come down with a bloody flu, hoping I am on the mend now. I have a holiday house to clean today and ours tomorrow! 

Still having trouble deciding which photos to enter into the annual local council photo competition. It is coming down to how much money I can afford to spend on printing and also the entry fee for each photo. First world problems of course. Doing my head in.

How are you coping with the winter cold? Ever taken your groceries out for a drive for the day?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Taking stock - the June edition

This is my first Taking Stock, sounds a bit like a confessional doesn't it. I saw this version on Sandra Kelly blog, but she attributes Pip from Meet me at Mike's for hers. So here goes. 

Making: Warming soups now the weather has turned. Mum gave me a couple of wild ducks someone had given her. I slow cooked them in the oven on Friday. It was fairly gamey and hubby didn't think too much of it. I didn't think it was too bad, so picked all the meat off the bones and made a yummy soup with a packet of McKenzies soup mix in the pressure cooker. So good!

Realising: I should be going to bed. I don't usually work on a Monday, but the other Kindergym coach is on holiday and I am taking her two Kindergym classes in the morning and then a Tiny Tots gymnastics class with eight, four year olds! Pray for me!

Cooking: Cake! And not just one. The last cake I baked was coconut with some choc chips thrown in. Meant to be cooked in a slab tin, in other words, to feed an army, I poured it into three tins, baked, and froze two cakes. So handy for school lunches, when there's bugger all in the pantry.

Drinking: Too much wine! I was thinking tonight I would love a hot chocolate. In fact I've been craving chocolate all day. 

Reading: Well not much really. Oh, ok! Usually crap news stories sourced on Facebook! Or cookbooks.

Wanting: A holiday on my own.

Looking: Through my photos from the last year, trying in vain to decide which ones to enter into our local photography competition. I have about a week to work it out, and get them printed!

Pondering: Why I am grinding my teeth so much lately.

Wishing: That time would stand still, so I could catch up on everything that hasn't been getting done.

Enjoying: Watching Masterchef. I really wasn't that into it to start with, but have become hooked. Again.

Waiting: For Spring. I do not like cold weather, I don't care how much it rains, but I don't like being cold, and the last week it has been icy.

Liking: That despite the frosty nights and mornings, the sun makes a presence during the day. The wind is still bloody freezing though. 

Wondering: How long I can sit here without my five year old, who is still awake, disturbing me....

Loving: Having a little extra money here and there, with my job at the gymnastics club and holiday house cleaning.

Listening: To music in the house, really loud. Well not too loud. the neighbours would have certainly heard it though. I've been revisiting music I haven't listened to for years. Like INXS' The Swing album and Harry Chapins' greatest stories.

Considering: Getting a hair cut. My usual hairdresser closed down in March, so I need to book somewhere else. 

Buying: New pillows and a storage trunk for the house in Pelican Point. There isn't a hell of a lot of storage space for towels and spare linen there, so I've bought a trunk to put at the end of the main bed to store stuff. Plus it will look good. Wink, wink.

Watching: Reality TV. I have been trying to avoid the news lately, my tender soul doesn't want to hear about the tragedies befalling innocent victims. It all seems like a horrible nightmare. If only it was a dream.

Hoping: My son will be OK in his new flat, I spent Friday and Saturday helping him move and clean up his old flat. He seems happier. He's not 'just around the corner' anymore. But just down the road from my mum. She might get the early morning drop ins, just to see whats in the fridge or pantry.

Marvelling: At the bulbs coming up from the ground in the garden. There should be Jonquils soon. One of the things I do look forward to at this time of year.

Cringing: About how cold the gym is going to be in the morning.

Needing: To go to bed!

Questioning: What is wrong with the world? There's been lots of comments about 2016 being the worst year ever, even the year before. But 2017 is turning out to be a doozy!

Smelling: Gardenia oil in my oil burner. I usually burn incense, it does wonders to relax me. Lately I have been remembering to buy candles for my oil burner, all classy like from the cheap shop, along with smelly oils.

Wearing: Warm clothes! I need to lose a few kilos, because my tracky dacks in this weather are becoming way too comfortable, and I know there's plenty of other pants I could be wearing if I lost a couple of kilos round my belly!

Following: Some amazing local photographers on Instagram. I am in awe of the fantastic way they capture our area. Like trosenthal636 and stevechapplephotography 

Noticing: That my youngest has a cough. Darn winter. 

Thinking: Too much about everything I need to fit in this week. One. day. at. a. time.

Admiring: My mum. Loads of people say nice things about her, and they are right to. She brought us five kids up, and now finally has done some study in aged care and I am so proud of her.

Getting: Quite uncomfortable sitting in our recliners after a couple of hours. the padding is going on the back and the frame is killing my back!

Disliking: Getting in a freezing cold car to take the kids to school. 

Opening: A new tube of mud face mask that came in the mail this week. I wasn't game to do it tonight, in case I had a bad skin reaction. I don't want to be leading Kindergym with a poxy red face.

Giggling: Summer running from the toilet holding her pants up, to answer the home phone today. Brett accidently rung it from his phone, he was sitting two feet from it. It was funny. You had to be there. 

Feeling: Generally with life, I am feeling pretty good. I have my moments, when I let it get on top of me, for about two minutes and then get back on with it.

Celebrating: I've had a few good life wins lately, it affirms to me that you get back good things when you give generously. It's nice to know that Karma has my back.

Pretending: That I am not nervous about taking a class of eight, four year olds tomorrow. Some parents will be watching me too. I hope the kids behave and are not looking at me like I have two heads!

Embracing: All I am learning to do with gymnastics. Embracing the kids who are giving me great feedback with their smiles and enjoyment in the gym. Even the good vibes from parents who are amazed at the facility we provide our community.

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