Monday, February 27, 2012

All the Noms....

Tonight was a rush.... with costumes to sew for tomorrow, and basically not very interested in eating, this was all about rushing, and eating what was available.

Here we have some home grown lettuce with homemade yogurt, and home grown blackberries, a birds nest of spaghetti with sauce in the birdy, carrots, felafel patties and some kiwifruit flowers left over from lunch.

Not particularly interesting, but lots of noms, and it all went down well.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Happy Day Biscuits

Tomorrow is the staff baking competition at school.  The competition is fierce, and I may never live down the "Cake in a box" incident of 2003.  So, I have to go all out.  Last year when we did Cakes, I made a five layer rainbow cake with 2 layers of icing.

This year I was planning on making fortune cookies.   Actually, I did make fortune cookies, but they were misfortunes really, and I decided not to enter them.

This left me with the issue of an afternoon to get sorted, and no time to cool or ice anything.... so....

The gears went whirring, and this is what we came up with- Happy Face Biscuits. They were made from a basic refrigerator biscuit dough, with some split off and coloured with cocoa powder.

With the light dough, roll out flat onto cling film, to about 5mm think. 

Do the same with the dark section.  I found this one much harder to roll, because it was less moist, given the added cocoa powder.

Roll the light dough up from the narrow side.  After a few rotations, take a strip of the dark (rolled into a 5mm diametre tube) and place it on the dough, roll over the dough a small way and add another strip the same.  This creates the eyes.  Roll around the circle a little further.  Add a 2 cm wide strip of dark dough and roll for the smile.

It sounds WAY harder than it is.....

You will end up with a long tube of dough, which needs chilling for a few hours in the refrigerator.  Wrap tightly in cling fim.

Then cut the dough into 5mm discs, and pop in the oven.

Super cute. 

Award winning?  Perhaps not... but at least no one can say I didn't put my own mark on a classic biscuit!

Friday, February 17, 2012

On REALLY Fresh Fruit

I have been away- she says, somewhat apologetically....

Not really.

Those of you aware of my other interests, will know of my love of travel.  This time I managed to take the whole family to Tonga and Fiji.  The weather was amazing and the sights spectacular.  However, the highlight was totally the fresh food!

Everywhere we walked, it was there.  On tables, sidewalks, in the barber shop (really, not kidding), and for sale.  Cheap.  We ate so well, and so ridiculously cheaply. 

And the flavours!  Now, I have never traditionally been much of a tropical fruit fan... but I have discovered that this is merely because most fruit has to be picked when it is not ripe so that it can be transported, and then even worse to prevent it spoiling.

Not so in the islands....

The best part was the price..... Like watermelons.  Whole watermelons.... $1 (Tongan... so like .75 NZ or .50 US)  CRAZY.  And the peanuts..... so delicious and in their shells, they almost tasted roasted from the heat.

We shared mangos with some of the shop assistants in the tee shirt store, had pineapple on the beach, and watermelon everywhere.  For my sister, who worried about her kids, it was fine to say, "try the coconut, if you don't like it, you don't need to eat it" because it was so fresh, so tasty, and so cheap, that she didn't need to worry.  And the kids loved it. 

All I can say is, I have definitely learned that travelling with a pocket knife and antibacterial wipes is not as insane as some have told me.... slicing up a whole pineapple and cleaning up afterwards is much easier when you travel prepared!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Minestrone by Necessity

All year, my husband has been sick in one form or another.  First with chemotherapy, then the reaction to the chemo, and now the recovering from the solid destruction the treatment has taken on his stomach and intestines.  Less than ideal. 

However, 2 things have come out of it.  I have become a walking expert on cancer related medications, and foods to prepare.  I have an astounding array (okay, 3) books on cooking for cancer, or at least, cooking to avoid cancer and a growing notebook of ideas, guidance and foods that he likes, combined with anti-carcinogenic properties.  (I told you I was getting good with the terminology).

But now he is on the mend, it is time for a new regime.  He has never been a soup fan, sadly, as I ADORE the stuff.  However, as he has been recovering, his soups have been becoming more solid, and more interesting. 

Did I mention he tends to hate food the second time around?  Again, different from me.  I LOVE leftovers.  I know where I stand with leftovers.  I can see that there are so many meals, or parts of a meal remaining.  So I had been using those convenient cans-of-soup-for-one for him.  Until I ran out!  So disorganized in the chaos.

And now to the point of this entry, I needed a filling soup, high in cancer fighting ingredients, and fast.  Almost-instant minestrone came as a tasty flash.

The Almost-Instant recipe

From the pantry:
- 5 bean mix (canned)
- Spiral pasta
- Tomato pasta sauce with garlic

From the garden
- Zucchini
- Fresh basil
- Leek
- Onion

From the freezer/fridge
- Vegetable broth
- Frozen mixed vegies

Into a medium saucepan on a low heat, throw 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.  I had this leftover from a soup earlier in the week.  Also add a handful of pasta (I keep an airtight container of pasta remnants, you know, those last bits that don't get cooked).

Rinse about 3 tablespoon fulls of the bean mix under cold water.  The brine is just awful in soup.  Throw the beans into the soup.

Add a handful of frozen mixed vegetables.  This will drop the temperature, but shouldn't stop the boiling at this point.

Cut 2 slices of onion and 4 slices of leek into small pieces, and dice the small zucchini.  Throw this in with the soup.

Add 1/2 cup of pasta sauce and chopped basil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Allow soup to boil until the pasta is cooked. 

Spoon half the saucepans worth into a bowl.  Add boiling water and stir to a pleasing consistency.  Serve.

The remaining bit can be refrigerated or frozen for use later on. 

I meant to photograph the soup, but both meals were eaten so quickly.  However, I still have leftovers to make more from scratch if need be.