Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bee Gee's Way

Hello Dear Reader,

On Saturday I went down to the Redcliffe beach front to have my hair cut and for once, I was really early for my appointment, so I took a stroll through Bee Gee's Way. It was the first time I had seen this unique attraction completely empty and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a little video of it. Bee Gees way was opened in February 2013 and then in September 2015, the second stage was opened. It is usually teaming with people and I think it was money well spent by our council, as it brings people from far and near.

I love all the Bee Gees music and most days, at home, you will find me working away with the Bee Gees music keeping me company. I think their music is unique and uplifting and I know we will never hear those kinds of voices ever again. They worked so well together and were really such a wonderful family, very close and supportive of each other. I grew up ballroom dancing and was young when the movie Saturday Night Fever came out, it was a huge phenomenon, even in our little dance studio. We boogied and strutted our stuff to this iconic music every Friday night at our weekly social dance. Hilarious stuff really and really daggy, but I still love them, all these years later.

I had the pleasure of meeting Barry Gibb when the second section of Bee Gees Way was opened and I was definitely star struck when I shook hands with him. It was such a wonderful day, beautifully organised by our council. We were able to get VIP tickets through some lovely friends of ours that knew someone who was one of the main organisers, not that we were VIP's, but it was fun to pretend for the day!

I hope you enjoy this little clip of one of my favourite places on the Redcliffe Peninsula, Bee Gees Way.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Poached Pears in Cardamom Syrup

Hello Dear Reader,


About a week ago I bought "a bucket" of pears from the Rothwell Fruit Barn, they were absolutely delicious, juicy and sweet. The variety was good old Williams Bon Chretien, perfect for eating when a bit soft or poaching while they are still a bit firm to the touch. We have been eating them as part of our breakfast fruit salads and yoghurt bowls, both, just as they are and after they were poached. The gorgeous flavour of Cardamom is sensational with the pears and makes for a divine dessert served with vanilla ice-cream. This variety of pear only require about 7 minutes poaching time, if you leave them any longer they will start to break apart. I do 5 minutes on one side and 2 minutes on the other. 

When we were growing up, our darling Mum would always serve a dessert after dinner. A lot of the time it was a fruit based dessert such as poached pears, peaches and loquats or stewed apples and pineapples or fresh mango, whatever was in season, really. In winter, for one of the desserts, she would make a fruit pudding, with the poached fruit underneath and a light as air sponge on top, and serve it with homemade custard or cream, I can still smell and taste her lovely fruit desserts, she was a really wonderful cook and ran her kitchen very frugally. 

Ingredients for Poached Pears in Cardamom Syrup-120 grams brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 tablespoon Cardamom pods and 6 pears

3/4 tablespoon whole Cardamon pods

Squish the pods with the base of the glass storage jar, until they crack a little, exposing the seeds, you just gently lean on the jar until they crack. This is a hot tip from the one and only Nigella

Peel, halve and core the pears

In a large saucepan add the water, brown sugar and cracked cardamom pods, bring to a gentle simmer and stir until brown sugar has dissolved

Add pears to the sugar syrup, in a single layer. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes on one side

Turn pears over and poach for another 2 minutes or until just tender

Gently pour pears and syrup into a serving dish

Simply delicious!

I love to serve these poached pears with plain vanilla ice-cream and a little of the gorgeous syrup spooned over the top.

What are your childhood dessert memories?

Monday, 29 May 2017

Prawns with Lemon, Chilli and Garlic with Garlic Parmesan Crumb and Linguini

Hello Dear Reader,

Wow that title is a mouthful isn't? But I just couldn't think of another way of putting it. We are very lucky to have access to fresh seafood, with fish, crab and prawns often on our weekly menu. Lovely Hubby and Son are keen anglers, crabbers and prawners and we also have dear fishing friends that like to share their catch. As seafood is often on the menu, I like to try new recipes and todays recipe is just that, a new one to me. A lovely friend at work told me about this recipe and it sounded just delicious. She noticed that we tended to use the same old recipe when cooking prawns (Stir fry prawns with ginger, spring onion and snow peas served with noodles) and thought that we might enjoy a change, boy, did we ever!


I had no quantities to go on so I just made it up as I went along and it turned out wonderfully. It is very simple and apart from peeling and deveining the prawns, takes very little time to put together. It does help if someone else will do that job for you! It is the garlic-y parmesan breadcrumbs that really makes this dish amazing and the contrast of textures is fantastic. Oh I have really gushed about this recipe, haven't I? As you can see below there are very few ingredients, but wow, do they work well together.

Ingredients for Prawns with Lemon, Chilli and Garlic with Garlic Parmesan Crumb and Linguini, clockwise from top left
300 to 400 grams of Linguini, a cup and a half of Garlic Parmesan Breadcrumbs (recipe below), 500 grams of peeled and deveined green prawns, 3 chillies or to taste, 2 garlic cloves and 1 lemon

To make the Garlic Parmesan Breadcrumbs you will need 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 1 clove of garlic, grated and 2 tablespoons of oil. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and spread out, in a single layer, on an oven tray, bake for 30 minutes on 120 C or until the breadcrumbs are crispy and have turned light golden brown. This job can be done ahead of time. When I am slicing bread, I keep the ends, freeze them, and when I have a good stash, I defrost them and blitz them in the Thermomix. I then re-freeze the breadcrumbs in a container, really handy for when I need breadcrumbs for a recipe.

Put a large pot of water on to boil for the linguini. Grate the garlic and lemon zest on a microplane, finely chop the chilli. Juice the lemon and set aside until needed

In a heavy based, non stick frypan, sauté the garlic, lemon zest and chilli for 30 seconds 

Once the large pot of water has boiled, put linguini on to cook. Now add prawns to aromatics and sauté until prawns have lost their opaqueness

Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil. Drain cooked linguini and add it to the cooked prawns in the frypan. Gently but thoroughly mix pasta through prawns and sauce to coat

Scatter the Garlic Parmesan Breadcrumbs over the top 

And serve

Thanks Jen, you rock! It really is the most delicious way to serve prawns.

Over to you, where do you get your inspiration for dinner?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Thai Pork and Noodle Soup

Hello Dear Reader,

I mentioned a few weeks ago how I had a Wombok that kept on giving, I suppose it was my fault for choosing the best value for money Wombok I could find! This thing was really big and went into so many dishes, I think this one was my favourite though. I actually anticipated some laksa paste left over from when I made the Fish and Noodle Laksa but that recipe used the whole jar, so I had to buy another one. I love a tasty, good for you broth and this one is perfect, lots of wonderful laksa-y broth with little pork balls, noodles and veggie, a complete meal in a bowl. I fiddled with the original recipe to reflect the ingredients I had at home already.

Ingredients for Thai Pork and Noodle Soup, clockwise from top right-
2 tablespoon laksa paste, 2 teaspoons curry powder of your choice, a tin of coconut milk, 2 spring onions, finely chopped, 1 red onion, finely chopped, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 2 garlic gloves, grated on a microplane, a good size knob of ginger, finely sliced, 2 litres of chicken stock (I use Massel Chicken stock cubes) a good handful of coriander, 1/2 a Wombok, finely sliced and a packet of rice noodles

Finely chop red onion, grate garlic on a microplane and finely slice ginger

Finely chop the stems and the tops of the coriander, keep the tops for later. The variety of coriander I use is Sawtooth or Perennial Coriander. I simply cut the leaf away from the central stem to separate. You will need coriander tops for both the broth and the pork meatballs


Cut Wombok finely and reserve for later


Finely slice the spring onions, reserve for later

In a large saucepan, heat some oil on medium heat, add garlic, ginger, red onion, coriander stems, kaffir lime leaves, curry powder and Laksa paste. Give it a good stir and sauté for one minute

Pour in chicken stock a little at a time and then simmer for 10 minutes

Ingredients for meatballs, clockwise from top left-
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander and 500 grams pork mince
Add all meatball ingredients to a bowl

Using your hands, mix well to combine

As you roll the meatballs, drop them gently into the hot soup to cook through

Now add the Wombok, coconut milk, coriander and spring onions

Cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes

Cook noodles according to directions on packet. Lay some cooked noodles in a bowl and ladle soup over the top

There is a bit of preparation involved but the actual cooking time is very little, it is easily do-able on a weeknight and as I mentioned is a complete meal in a bowl. Warming and delicious.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Hello Dear Reader,

I have tried three new recipes this week and am really happy with how they turned out, the first one was a new way with brussel sprouts, they are served with blue cheese and pomegranate with a red wine vinegar dressing, I will post the recipe soon as they were so delicious. I was a bit hesitant using blue cheese so I bought a soft creamy blue cheese from Aldi as it is not as strong, I needn't worry though as the balance of flavours were spot on. The pomegranate were home grown.

The second new recipe was meatballs in the most wonderful, flavoursome, tomato sauce, we loved it so much I am making it again this coming week only this week I will serve it over pasta. I will post that recipe soon as I think it is fab, it is quick to put together, using everyday ingredients and as I said, super delicious. And the third new recipe this week came from a lovely lady at work, it is for a simple and really tasty prawn and pasta dish, using lemon, chilli and garlic served over linguini and topped with a crunchy parmesan crumb, oh my, it was amazing! Again, I will post that superb recipe soon. Thanks Jen!

Now on with what we bought, spent and ate-

What we bought
Shopping from ALDI, Coles, Woolworths and the Rothwell Fruit Barn, sorry the photo is so dark. The Red Paw Paw you see in the centre is going back to the Rothwell market when I go today, it is still hard as a rock but going off at the same time, something is really wrong with fruit if it is still too hard to eat but going off as well! It cost $8.00 and I feel that is too much money to waste.

We take our own bags and containers for produce to be put into, it is easy to do at the markets, not so easy at the supermarkets. I will have to contact the manager to see what their policy is on putting meats bought at the deli into a clean container I have bought from home. It is a bit hit and miss with some staff happy to do it and others not. I buy chicken breast when it is on special ($8.00 a kg) I use it for dog training as the reward. The RSPCA training uses the "click and reward" system and it is working incredibly well.

Shopping from the Sunday markets, really exceptional strawberries, raspberries and avocado, they have all been perfect, not one blemish

What we spent
Sunday Markets-

Fruit and Veggies-$15.00

Rothwell Fruit Barn-$72.98

Coles-$6.57

ALDI-$31.55

Woolworths-$14.26

TOTAL-$140.36

Saturday and Monday-Tempura Whiting with steamed basmati rice and asian greens

Sunday-Slow Cooked Beef and Red Wine with Parsley Dumplings served with steamed broccoli. Remember the not so wonderful rib fillet that we bought from the markets a few weeks ago, well it was meltingly tender in the slow cooker. We spoke to the owner of "The Meat Truck" last week and we told him about the tough and sinew-y fillet, he said he is happy to give us something else to make up for the, not so great meat. As we didn't need any meat last week, we will see what he can do for us this week. 

Tuesday-Spinach, feta and roast pumpkin savoury rolls with Brussel Sprouts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate salad

Wednesday-Lemon and Garlic Prawn Pasta with Parmesan Crumb 

Thursday and Friday-Cheesy Meatballs with mashed potatoes and broccoli

I like to keep trying new recipes, especially when I have most of the ingredients already at home or are easily bought from ALDI and don't cost a fortune. I don't hesitate to take food items back if I am not happy with them, food is expensive and I won't pay good money just to have food that is going off or not of good quality. I can put up with "ugly"or misshapen fruit, no problem, but I will not be sold dodgy fruit or veg especially when you are paying top dollar for it.

 Have you tired any new recipes lately? And do you take produce back that you aren't happy with? 

Friday, 26 May 2017

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

As promised last week, I have tried to take photos of frugal stuff I do, that don't include food, well I failed, as food did make an appearance, sorry, I just can't help it! I guess food is a really important part of our lives and it can also be the most expensive outlay it we aren't careful. I try and keep the cost down by only buying what we need for that week, using absolutely everything up so there is no waste, eating less meat, substituting ingredients if I happen not to have what the recipe calls for, and cooking from scratch most nights. I know this is nothing new but it works for us.

1. Dried and saved the seeds from some Rosella's I bought from the markets recently. I use the petals of the Rosella to make the most divine tea. I will plant the seeds out when the time is right



2. I noticed that some garlic cloves has started to sprout so I planted them in a pot, using this method, we'll see how this little experiment goes



3. Made another batch of laundry liquid using this "recipe" I find it excellent, easy to make and very economical


4. Made a cake to take to work for our monthly morning tea, I made a Raspberry and Yoghurt cake using this recipe as it is easy to make, I had all the ingredients in the house already and it tastes just divine. I am yet to take a photo of it before it is cut, I just keep forgetting. I served it with whipped cream with lime zest, everyone loved it. 




5. Line dried all the washing, we have had no rain, great for the washing, sad for the garden


So, that was my frugal week, how did you go on the frugal front?


Thursday, 25 May 2017

Jamie's Chilli Con Carne

Hello Dear Reader,

I mentioned a while ago, I started Jamie Oliver's, 6 week "Ministry of Food" cooking course, it was a really great course aimed at the beginner cook with knife skills, food hygiene, balanced nutrition and wonderful, everyday recipes taught. I missed the last day of the course due to family issues, but they cooked a whole chicken roast, the length of time you have, is one and a half hours, so they would have been going like the clappers to cook a roast in that time, but no doubt it was done and it would have been nice to finish the course. Never mind, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and todays recipe is probably my favourite. Good old Chilli Con Carne.

I have halved the original recipe, using only 250 grams of beef mince, so it is very economical, filling and loaded with beans and veggies, oh and it is totally delicious! This half quality easily feeds three very hungry adults and probably even enough for a second helping! I cook and freeze ahead chickpeas and portion them into 250 grams lots, this quantity equates to a drained 400 gram can of chickpeas. 

Ingredients for Jamies Chilli Con Carne, clockwise from top right-
1 onion, 1 red capsicum, 1 clove garlic, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery (I used 1 plus 1 small piece), coriander,  250 grams of beef mince, 1/2 a teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground chilli and ground cinnamon, 1/2 a can each of kidney beans and chickpeas (I froze the remainder together for the next time I make this) 1 tin of diced tomatoes and not quite a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

In a large, non stick, heavy based frypan or saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and capsicum in a small amount of oil, then add the cumin, chilli powder and cinnamon along with salt and pepper to taste

Add the drained kidney beans and chickpeas to the frypan and move everything to one side, add the mince, browning and breaking up the mince as you go

Once the mince is cooked through, mix sautéed veggies through and add the tin of tomatoes, half refill empty can with water, swish and add water to mixture in frypan, mix well and bring to the boil
Then turn heat down to low and let blip away for about an hour. Just before serving add the finely chopped coriander

Meanwhile make a guacamole to go with the Chilli-
Chop some tomatoes, chilli and coriander, add to a bowl, now mix in avocado and then squeeze over lime juice.

Mix well and refrigerate until needed

Once the Chilli has reduced and has thickened it is ready to serve. Serve with steamed rice, natural yoghurt and guacamole. YUM!

I have a rice cooker and it gets used at least twice a week, I love it because it is set and forget. I haven't tried Jamie's method of cooking rice as yet but when they made it to go with the Chilli at the course, the rice was super light and fluffy. Jamie's method is-

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil
Rinse rice in a colander under running water for about a minute or until water run clear
Add your rice to the boiling water and wait for the rice to start dancing around, from this point, boil for 5 minutes
Drain in a colander
Pour about 2.5 cms of water into the pan again and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer
Place the colander of rice on top of the pan of simmering water and let the rice steam over it for 8 to 10 minutes
Remove from heat and serve immediately
The rice will be super light and fluffy

This is a delicious, easy and very economical meal, of course you can make up the whole quantity if you have more mouths to feed, just double the quantities above. I am sure there are millions of different recipes for Chilli, what do you put in yours?