Tuesday, September 30, 2014

4 Easy Strawberry Recipes

If you've been following my instagram feed recently you would know that we have been enjoying a glut of strawberries. My daughter started work at a local strawberry farm, and every work day comes home with this bounty of delicious, giant strawberries. I'm not sure if it's because they are super fresh or if they where picked by my flesh and blood, but they are absolutely, gorgeously, delicious! Thanks Darling! Anyway, she comes home with a few kilos, a few times a week. Such hardship, ha ha! We've had so much fun trying new ways to eat them, I thought I would share 4 easy strawberry recipes with you. 






Turning seasonal fruit into sorbet is one of my favourite things to do, and it is super easy. It helps if you have an ice cream maker, but if you don't it isn't that much more effort. Play around with different combinations, one of my favourites is pineapple and mint.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of castor sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • about 3 cups of strawberry puree.

Method
  • Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until you have a thin syrup. Put this is the fridge overnight to chill.
  • Combine puree and syrup in an ice cream maker, churn until it is sorbet. If you don't have an ice cream maker put the mixture in the freezer and stir every few hours until it is sorbet. 
  • Tip: Once it is sorbet, leave overnight to 'cure', it kind of  enriches the flavour. 





Yes, I failed the Strawberry Jam! But it such a delicious fail, I have no regrets. None, I tell you!

Ingredients
  • 4 cups of strawberries, chopped roughly.
  • 2 cups of sugar, white or raw, your choice.
  • 1 packet of jamsetta, entirely optional. (I still managed to jam fail with the jamsetta)

Method
  • Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over high heat, stir until the fruit starts to break down and release liquid. The sugar should be melted by now as well.
  • Leave on the stove on low heat to simmer for a long time. Maybe 45 minutes? Stir occasionally. 
  • Get very bored and put the jam into a large sterilized jar, without even testing it because fuck that shit is boring. 
  • Wait for jam to cool, then realise you have actually made Jam Fail, a delicious lumpy syrup. Go you! Ladle over ice cream and inhale while listening to your children decree that this is the best thing you have ever, ever cooked. 




I was super excited recently to learn I had won a $300 supermarket voucher, but then I was incredibly bummed when my prize arrived and it turned out I had NOT won any voucher, but had been sent instead a gift basket of Chia Seeds. Do I look like a hippy?? So disappointing. Anyway, a friend told me to bake with them, and I did. Turns out they kind of make baked goods have a soft custardy centre, so they've got that going for them I guess.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of self raising flour
  • 1 cup of oats (just use whatever you make porridge with)
  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds.
  • 2 cups of chopped strawberries
  • 1 egg
  • 125g butter, melted.
  • Chocolate to drizzle over the top (optional)

Method
  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Mix wet ingredients.
  • Mix all ingredients, including strawberries, and press into a 30 x 20cm lined baking tin.
  • Bake in medium oven approx 20 minutes, until the top is browned and the slice is firm.
  • When cool, drizzle with melted chocolate. Eat warm with ice cream. Nom.


 

This is so simple, you can get the children to do it. It is SO simple, I'm not going to give you a recipe, just a pictorial guide for you to reference. Here you go. You are welcome.



Hope you love these as much as we did. Do you have any strawberry recipes you'd recommend?  I'm kind of thinking my next effort might be Roasted Balsamic Strawberries, and I'm sure there is a salad with strawberries, cucumbers and pepper......

xx





Monday, September 22, 2014

Date Night: Sydney

A few weekends ago, my god daughter/cousin married her best friend/love of her life in the thriving and beautiful township of Wollongong, about 1 hour or so south of Sydney. I like the 'Gong, it is in a beautiful coastal area and always seems to be full of people either on their way to a party, or heading home from a party. It is not big enough to have it's own airport, so we would have to fly into Sydney, hire a car and drive down. We decided to fly down a day early, and have a night in Sydney. Sadly, we had to leave the children behind in the loving care of their Nanny and Pop. 




Weekend without children, giddy up! Can you tell we are a little bit joyful? 



Sunshine Coast airport is not a major affair, and it is always fun to walk out on the tarmac. We flew Jetstar, so the the plane was packed and the seats where tiny. As we took off I snapped a selfie of Mr BC and I, which caught the attention of the young ladies behind us. "Oh, selfies" one groaned. "Everyone has to do selfies these days, it's an epidemic" said another. "How ridiculous, don't people know how stupid they look? Have you seen that video on facebook of the dad filming his daughter taking selfies? She's making all these weird faces.." I was about to turn around and say "Hello, I'm a blogger! Sorry to bother you with my selfie!" But I started to feel a bit strange in the tummy.




Good bye, Sunshine Coast! As the plane went up into the sky that feeling in my tummy got worse, and I realised I was about to let that feeling out of my body in the form of a little gas. Yes, people, I broke wind, farted, if you will, in a tightly packed plane, while the seat belt sign was on. No escape. Gosh it was bad, and luckily, silent. Suddenly the young ladies behind me stopped complaining about my selfie and started gasping loudly. "OMG can you smell that??" "I can't breathe that in! Hold your breath until we get to Sydney!" "I don't understand why people can't just go to the toilet!!" I laughed silently while Mr BC clutched helplessly at the window. The ladies stated blaming the nice man sitting next to me, who was extremely polite and didn't even change his facial expression. To be fair, perhaps he was dead. The young ladies then started blaming each other, which was funny. I scrawled on my notepad "Punishment for laughing at my selfie! Suck it, Bitches!" But Mr BC would not let me give it to them. Maybe he thought I had given them enough?




The rest of the journey was without incident, and we arrived in Sydney in no time! The weather was not as lovely as that we left behind, but I was still excited to be back in my hometown.



We arrived right on peak hour, so opted to get the train into the city so save time and money. We only had carry on luggage, so this was a good option. I was amazed at how clean and new the trains where, and marveled at the old stations as they whizzed by. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane!




Even in the rain, Sydney was putting on a bit of a show. I always have such mixed emotions coming back. It's been almost 8 years since we left, and every time I return I'm not sure if I feel homesick, or happy to not live here anymore. Part of me hopes that one day I might move back for good, and part of me shrinks from the thought. It's perplexing. 



I used to get the train all the time, when I lived in Sydney. I looked at these commuters and thought this used to be me. Isn't it funny how your life changes from chapter to chapter? I would also have been standing with my back to the greatest view ever, completely ignoring the iconic Harbour Bridge, Luna Park and Ferry. My thoughts would have been consumed with work, new shoes, getting home into the dry warmth and what I was going to watch on TV that night. Wonder what these people where thinking about?




We got to our hotel, dumped our bags and headed back out into the rainy city. Sydney at night is a pretty sexy city, but tonight the weather was so bad you could hardly see Centrepoint Tower. The streets where still crowded with people heading home on a Friday night or spilling out of pubs. I convinced Mr BC to walk past the Spanish Quarter and continue on to China Town.



Laksa with some dumplings for good measure. The Best. This is from Happy Chef, just as you get off the escalators in the upstairs food court. I think this place might be a little bit famous, when I got back to Brisbane there was lots of nodding approvals from people when I mentioned where we went. Yes, the upstairs food court. Happy Chef. The proper Laksa.  Take note, people!




The next morning we picked up the hire car and headed off Wollongong, but first we had to visit Eveleigh Farmers Markets at Redfern. I hadn't been to this market before but I have been following it on social media for a while. Luckily it's a covered market, because by now the rain was absolutely bucketing down! I was starting to get a bit nervous for the next day's outdoor garden wedding.



The market is a brief walk from Redfern Station, in these old buildings. There is on street parking, but my advice would be to get there as early as you can, because parking (and produce) get snapped up pretty quickly. The market opens at 8am and closes at 1pm, it is open every Saturday morning.
Once inside, you are greeted with this warm and bustling atmosphere.



The market is dog friendly, as am I, and I was happy to see lots of stalls had water, and the occasional treat, available for dogs. All the dogs I saw were very well behaved on their leashes.

We spent a lovely few hours perusing the market stalls, eating the samples, and chatting to the stall holders. The whole place is almost exclusively artisan made or organically grown deliciousness. I'm just going to leave you with some Market Porn (it's totally a thing) for a little while.










This stand had the most melt in the mouth, delicious beef I've ever tasted. It was seriously, so so so good. They where selling steak sandwiches and Mr BC quickly lined up; but I was looking for something particular....



Hello Kylie Kwong! Kylie Kwong is Sydney's dumpling queen, and I have been following her instagram and facebook feed for ages. her restaurant is Billie Kwong, but she also has a stand here every week. I had plans to visit here early in the year but was waylaid in hospital instead. I was crushed and sent her a sad little note on facebook to which she replied! Absolutely made my day then, and she was just as lovely when I met her on this visit. I tried not to fan-girl too hard, but I think she might have been worried I was going to jump the counter and hump her leg. Never fear, Kylie, I wouldn't do that to you!



I did get to eat her amazing dumplings though. This is pork wontons in a deliciously rich gingery broth.



What? Of course I had two! This is the BBQ pork steamed bun with house chili, and my word it was delicious. Mr BC tried to tempt me with his steak sandwich, but no way..



Then sadly it was time to go! The rain was torrential, so Mr BC raced off to get the car while I waited inside the door, isn't he lovely? I had a lovely chat to the man selling The Big Edition, who offered me an umbrella. People leave their brollies with him while they walk around the markets, and then forget to take them afterwards, he had quite a collection. Our little red hire car pulled up to the curb and I raced off, only to realise when I tried to open the door that it wasn't our car at all. I'd tried to get in the wrong car! How funny. The Big Edition guy thought it was hilarious, and to be honest so did I. You've got to laugh at yourself, right?




After that it was on to Wollongong through the beautiful and amazing Royal National Park, to a beautiful wedding and hopefully clearer skies. This post is already a little long, so wedding pics up next. Sadly no more dumplings and thankfully no more selfie revenges. This is not a sponsored post, but if you would like to go to Eveleigh Farmers Markets, please say hi to Kylie Kwong for me.

Have you had any interesting adventures lately? Been to the 'Gong? Know any great dumpling recipes?

xx

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Faux Pho

Are you feeling a little sniffly? A little under the weather with a painful sinuses and a sore throat? A bit sick and tired of being sick? Are you feeling so poorly you cannot face dragging yourself out of the house, not even to the local noodle shop for sustenance?  Have I got a soup for you!




The base of this delicious soup is the broth, and the secret to excellent bone broth is long, slow simmering. This takes a long time, but actually is super easy to make - it practically cooks itself leaving you plenty of time to nap on the couch. Plan on eating it tomorrow, and maybe have miso soup in the meantime. Secondly, it is bursting with delicious, healthy goodness that will have you back on your feet in no time.


Faux Pho

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo of chuck steak on the bone, plus extra bones if you like.
  • a few carrots, celery and an onion to make the stock.
  • fresh (not from a jar) garlic, ginger and chili.
  • rice vermicelli
  • fresh bean shoots
  • fresh, chopped spring onions, parsley, coriander, mint.
  • 1 lemon, for squeezing.


Method
  • Chop the chuck steak into largish pieces and set aside, covered, in the fridge. (The good thing about going to an independent butcher is that they will chop it for you) Put all the bones into a hot oven for about 30 minutes, just to brown them. Now put them into the slow cooker or stock pot with the chopped carrots, celery and onion. Fill to the brim with water, set on low, and leave overnight.
  • In the morning, strain your excellent bone stock, return to the slow cooker and add the chuck steak, and roughly chopped ginger. Add in the garlic and chili, finely chopped. Let simmer on low for at least 4 hours, until the meat is falling apart. 
  • Prepare the rice vermicelli according to packet directions. The packet always tells me to soak in hot water, but I find that a few minutes in boiling water gives a more reliable result. 
  • Have your bowls ready! In each bowl, put some vermicelli, a big handful of bean shoots, a big handful of chopped greens. 
  • Remove the large pieces of ginger from the soup, no one wants to eat that! Ladle the meaty broth over the noodles and veggies, squeeze over lemon to taste. 

Ginger will sooth your tummy, lemon and garlic will help to fight any germs, and chili will kick start your body's own ability to process vitamin C. This recipe makes lots of bone broth, which will freeze nicely for next time you are unwell, and you won't have to wait so long for it. The long, slow simmering ensures all of the minerals and nutrients have leached from the bones, enabling you to consume them - this is great for your immune system among many other things. If you'd like to read further on Bone Broth, Sarah Wilson has an excellent article about it here. Sarah Wilson - How to make bone broth and why you should

If you'd like to make some other soups in the meantime, check these out!






Enjoy, and feel better soon
xx
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