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Spiced Pumpkin Soup

I do love it when friends visit. I love it even more when they come bearing gifts! A friend just dropped a pumpkin in to me and in this chilly weather, all I could think of was soup!

[  SERVES: 6  |  TIME: 40 MINUTES  |  COST: $3  ]
[  JOES’ RATING:  4  / 5  |  MY RATING:  4  / 5 ]

Ingredients

1 litre vegetable stock
3 cups diced pumpkin
2 cups diced potato
1 onion
½ – 1 teaspoon paprika
½ – 1 teaspoon ground cummin
½ – 1 teaspoon ground coriander
salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cut the pumpkin and potato into bite size chunks. Dice the onion finely.
  2. In a large pot, saute the onion with the garlic until translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add the potato, pumpkin and spices to the pot and stir well to coat. Cover with stock and cook until tender.
  4. Using a blender, stick mixer or a masher, pure the soup. If it is too thick, add a little more stock as required.
  5. Season and serve hot with freshly grated parsley as garnish.

Observations

  • I have to admit that I am not a fan of boring pumpkin soup but this addition of spices really jazzed it up for my taste buds.
  • I have left a large variation for the spice usage depending on your tastes. Use your own discretion.
  • Diabetic Note: I used potatoes in this dish to introduce some carbohydrate content. If you would rather, cut back on the potatoes and have it with some hot crusty bread.
  • Ethical Note: This pumpkin was growing wild from my friends compost pile. Using backyard compost is better for your soils compositions and is a wonderful nutrient source for your own gardens. Ornamental gardens are nice, but consider a ground cover vegetable like pumpkin as a wonderful feature for your yard!
  • Note to self: I must remember to wipe down the bowl before I take photos. Excuse my messy photos!  =s

 

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Sourdough Pizza Crusts

The sourdough battle continues. I am now onto my fourth sourdough starter in just over a month and a half. My starters get to about 10 – 14 days and dies. My current starter *seems* to be ok, so I decided to experiment. Using this Sue Lau recipe as a guide, I made some delightful sourdough pizzas. The crusts were light, thin and crispy and I will definitely be using this recipe again.

[  SERVES: 3  |  TIME: 120 MIN  |  COST: <$4  ]
[  JOES’ RATING: 5/5  |  MY RATING:  4/5 |  Brittanys’ RATING:  4/5]

Crust Ingredients

1 cup organic flour
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. In a bowl, mix all the crust ingredients together. If the dough is too moist / too dry, add more flour / starter as needed. Knead lightly and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Turn oven (and / or preheat pizza stone) to the hottest setting to start its preheat.
  3. After resting, work the dough for 15 minutes. Once it is quite elastic, divide it into thirds and allow it to rest for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle flour on your counter top / work bench and use a rolling-pin to shape the dough. Turning it a quarter turn each roll will help give it a round shape.
  5. Prick the base with a fork several times and bake on a pizza stone or pizza tray for four to five minutes.
  6. Top your pizza with your favourite ingredients and bake for an additional five minutes.
  7. Enjoy while hot!

This was my pizza. It was topped with a drizzle of olive oil, roast garlic smeared into the oil and base, caramalised pumpkins as described above, crumbled Nimbin Valley Dairys Lemon Billy goats cheese, torn baby bocconcini, freshly chopped chives, thyme, salt and pepper. Sometimes, the simple flavours win the day.

Observations

  • It’s important to note that this dough will not raise much (if at all). The resting and kneading allows the dough to be workable and elastic, but does not encourage much of a rise.
  • If you would like to make roast pumpkin, garlic and sweet potato like I have here, prepare the roasted vegetables ahead of time. Cut the vegetables into bite size pieces. Skin the garlic but leave the cloves whole. Place the vegetables and garlic into an oven tray and sprinkle with olive oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, until caramelised. (The cinnamon gives roast vegetables such as pumpkin and sweet potato a delightful flavour and enhances their natural sweetness).
  • I departed from the original recipe in several places. In my version, I gave the dough an extra knead. This activated the gluten in the dough and made it much more pliable. This dough had a beautiful texture and was very easy to work with.
  • We enjoy thin pizzas. If you enjoy a thicker base, double the crust ingredients quoted.
  • Diabetic Note: My blood glucose levels were slightly elevated after this meal, but that was to be expected. Be mindful of your serving size and limit your cheese (my pizza is the one above and has a reduced amount of cheese). I also opted to avoid sauces which are high in sugar.
  • Ethical Note: I used my sourdough starter for this. To feed sourdough, half of the mixture is discarded each time. That half can be used for things such as this. Reduce your waste, support local produce, live long and prosper! (ok, well, only if you are a vulcan….)

This was Joe's pizza. The base was layered with tomato and garlic pizza sauce, garlic flakes, sliced chorizo sausage, roasted butternut pumpkin and sweet potato, whole roasted garlic, torn baby bocconcini, generous amounts of grated light tasty cheese, oregano, basil, chilli flakes, chives and salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

 

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My humble garden

We live in a moderately sized regional town on the northern New South Wales coast of Australia. Our town boasts being the most easterly point of the mainland (at low tide) but Byron Bay, 30 km to the north is the widely accepted most easterly mainland point. We live in a small two bedroom apartment on the first floor. Our apartment block is situated on one of the busiest highways in Australia. A bypass for our town was opened in December last year, which thankfully has had a noticeable decrease to noise and pollution. Living in a small apartment means we have no real recreational space or garden, but we do have a sensational north facing balcony. All in all, I love where we live.

You may have caught my weekly photo challenge earlier this week. It was a photo of my garden. I’ve had to adapt to the lack of space and on mothers day last year, I started my humble little garden. It consists of used second-hand polystyrene boxes commonly used for transporting broccoli. We punched holes in the bottom of the boxes to ensure that there was good drainage. In the bottom of each box, I placed a few sheets of newspaper to stop the soil falling out. We purchased some cheap’ish potting mix from a department store and the rest is history!

Aided by the Gardenate Garden Calender which tells me what to plant at what times of the year, our veggie garden has become a reality. Last year we harvested bok choy, all manner of herbs, leeks, tomatoes, salad greens, and more. I have just planted our winter crops which I water daily. The baby leeks in my banner photo are actually from my garden! I have just planted our winter crop and soon we will be feasting on leeks, tomatoes, herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano), pak choy, pumpkins, salad greens, broad (fava) beans and capsicums. As a promise of things to come, my heirloom tomatoes produced four beautiful tomatoes ahead of schedule, one of which we picked today!

Stay tuned to this space… I hope to post some photos over time of how my organic crop matures!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Env: Food Related, Env: Sustainability

 

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Fish Red Curry

I have to admit that both Joe and I do enjoy fish, but the ethical and sustainability issues surrounding the fishing industry leaves us both quite worried about purchasing and consuming it. We did recently discovery that NZ fisheries is quota limited, however, that quota is made with sustainability as its core focus. We purchased a kilo bag of fish fillets about four months ago and we are slowly eating our way through it.

[  SERVES: 4  |  TIME: 25 MIN  |  COST: <$5 |  MY RATING:  2/5 ]

Ingredients

400 g firm white fish fillets, cut into bite size pieces
400 ml can of coconut cream
200 ml stock (vegetable preferred)
1 onion, diced finely
½ cup potato, cut into bite size pieces
½ cup sweet potato, cut into bite size pieces
½ cup pumpkin, cut into bite size pieces
½ peas
½ red capsicums, chopped finely
2 – 4 tablespoons red curry paste
1 – 2 tablespoons garlic
dash of oil

Methodology

  • In a wok, warm a little oil before adding the garlic and red curry paste. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant. Add your onions and fry until transparent.
  • Add your stock, potato and sweet potato and cook gently until almost cooked through. This may take 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the heat.
  • Add the remaining vegetables, fish,  and coconut cream. Stir gently, and remove from heat once everything is cooked through. This may take and additional 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the heat.
  • Serve immediately with rice.

Observations

  • We use to be able to purchase basa which is a firm white fish from the catfish family. It is perfect for this type of dish, however, our supply ran out several months ago. When purchased this bag of NZ Hoki, we hoped it would have the same flavour and texture, but I have to admit, it is somewhat lacking by comparison. As a result, this dish was not well received by our family today. I am certain that had basa been used, the rating would have been at least 4/5 instead of the 2/5 it got this day.
  • Diabetic Note: The rice is basmati, although, to be honest, we generally use brown rice. At any rate, the rice is high in carbohydrates, as is the potato and sweet potato. As a result, adjust your rice according to your exchange point limit. I have about ¼ – ½ cup of rice with this dish and my BGLs are fine.
  • Trawler Hauling Nets Source: http://www.photol...

    Trawler Hauling Nets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Ethical Note: As mentioned briefly above, there is a huge ethical debate about sustainable fisheries. Some scientific researches suggest that any fish consumption is unsustainable during the current era as wild populations struggle with long term over exploitation. Many commercially popular species are currently endangered, such as the Orange Roughy.  There is a great deal of scientific literature about the habits of commercial fisheries who drag heavy nets on the oceans floor, disturbing benthos life, destroying coral reefs and disrupting the delicate ecosystems that are present there. Additionally, most consumers are aware of the common industry practice of cutting entangled nets and fishing line free, leaving them to choke, kill and drown ocean faring wildlife. Many feel that the purchasing of any fish contributes to this process, and I do tend to agree. I do feel however that there is a silver lining here. It is vital to realise that fisheries serves to feed many of the worlds poor and is vital for their existence. It is also important to recognise that not all global fisheries exceed catch limits, exclude the annual catch of other countries during their quota setting exercises, harvest endangered species or engage in destructive fishing habits. If you are going to purchase seafood, I would urge you to become educated on the subject, discover the source of your product (country and company!), research the relevant limits and impacts and choose wisely. (Having said that, we chose some time ago to not purchase any more fish or seafood products.)

 

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Chicken, Chia and Couscous

Perhaps you remember us discussing the awesomeness of chia seeds the other day when I made banana and chia seed muffins? Spurred on by that discussion, I decided to do more chia seed research and experiment with chia seeds that have been soaked. Its probably a good idea to try to incorporate them into our diet, specially as we move further and further away from a meat based diet into a more legume and vegetable based diet. Yesterday I posted about home made chicken stock and today’s recipe utilises the meat and stock from the stock making process. Nothing goes to waste around here – so deliciously efficient!

[  Serves: 4  |  TIME: 20 – 30 minutes  |  COST: $6 – 8  total ]

Ingredients

2 cups dry couscous
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cooked free ranged chicken
1 cup potato
1 cup sweet potato
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup mixed frozen peas and corn
1 leek
¼ cup chia seeds
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
drizzle of oil
salt and pepper to taste
teaspoon of butter to serve

Methodology

  1. Shred the leek into small pieces. Cut the remaining vegetables into bite size pieces. Shred the chicken as desired. Soak the chia seed in an equal amount of water. (see photo below).
  2. In a large saucepan, add the caraway seeds to some warmed oil. Once fragrant, add the remaining spices and garlic and mix well.
  3. Add the leek to the oil and spice mixture and cook until opaque. Add the remaining vegetables (except the chia seeds) and mix well to ensure all vegetables are coasted in the spice and leek mixture.
  4. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables and cook at a rolling simmer (with the lid on) until all vegetables are all cooked.
  5. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add the chia seeds, gently mixing well. Once well incorporated, add equal quantities of couscous and stock, mixing well. The stock should be absorbed by the couscous over a minute or two. Cook over a very low heat for three or four minutes, stirring continually. Fluff the couscous up with a fork if needed.
  6. Serve immediately in a bowl with a little knob of butter, seasoning to taste.

Observations

  • The flavours of this dish worked well. What’s not to love about spices and vegetables?
  • The chia seed will go opaque and jelly like once it is soaked – This is normal. Soaking helps release an enzyme in the seeds and makes it easier to digest. Generally, the seeds will soak up their own volume in water within minutes.
  • Diabetic Note: As I have noted previously, my body hates couscous. My Blood Glucose Levels (BGL) were quite high after this meal, but it was quite heavy in the pasta department. Also, a teaspoon of butter may be a little fat heavy for some peoples diets. Use your own discretion.
  • Ethical Note: Yesterday, on the Chicken Stock post, I spoke briefly about the ethics involved in utilising the whole of the chicken and trying to reduce waste. This recipe used the chicken meat left over from the stock making process. YAY for making the most out of the one resource.
 
 

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Roast Vegetables with Couscous

This has to be one of my favourite dishes, cause we eat it so often! Its a hot salad of kinds, and is so easy to knock up when I am studying and cant spare much time away from the books. Time restraints aside, its just delicious and is heaven sent for poor hungry uni students like me. It nourishes my body while my lecturers try to nourish my mind – fair trade, I am sure!

[  Serves: 3  |  Time: 30min  |  Cost: $5 – 8  ]

Ingredients

Equal amounts of vegetables. We used:

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Zuchini
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet Potato
  • Red Capsicums
  • Baby Leeks from the garden

1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

  1. Cut all vegetables into bite size pieces. See the photo below for an indicator. Toss them well in the oil and spices and bake for about 20 – 30 minutes in a moderate oven until cooked.
  2. Prepare the couscous as directed on the packaging. Generally, I aim for ½ cup dry couscous and ½ water per person.
  3. Mix together well, ensuring that the couscous mixes through the vegetables. Drizzle any of the juices from the vegetable baking tray over your plate before serving.

Observations

  • I love this dish. I love everything about it. Its easy, its delicious, and its fast! The flavours just work for me, and the cinnamon adds something special. Often, i will play around with the herbs and spices; basil / rosemary / garlic are another favourite as is thyme / rosemary / garlic. Be adventurous!
  • The baby leeks in this particular dish were absolutely divine! They were sweeter than normal full grown leeks, and soooooo tender. They stopped growing in my garden after about a month – roughly the size of shallots. I pulled them up and prepared them the same way you would normal size leeks. I have just replanted with the thoughts of doing the same in about a months time!!
  • Diabetic Note: I have to admit, my BGLs always react poorly to the couscous in this dish. On bad days I will cut back heavily on my serve of couscous to compensate. Also, be careful of your oil – its very easy for a splash of olive oil to end up as a guzzle.
  • Ethical Note 1: Whats not to love about this dish? It frustrates me a lot that its very difficult to get Australian made couscous. The carbon miles of Italian pasta (regardless of how delicious it is) makes me shudder. The moment I find a more local substitute, I will switch. (side note: I just bought quinoa for the first time… wonder how that would work?)
  • Ethical Note 2: As always with these style dishes, I’ve cooked my vegetables in my Portable Convention Oven (PCO). These little wonders save a ton on electricity, are easy to clean, and convenient to use. If you use a PCO, just be sure to add a cup of water to the bottom of the PCO to stop your veggies drying out.
 

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Roast vegetable salad with cheese kransky

Yesterday was a big day in the kitchen with lots happening. As I was already preparing vegetables for last nights dinner, I decided to do extra on a similar theme for lunch. We all live busy life styles, and where possible, I will think ahead and prepare several meals at once, keeping refrigerated in containers to retain its freshness. This time saving strategy means we can enjoy fresh, healthy, hearty meals when when we are flat out with work / school / life / whatever. We also had some cheese kransky’s left over from the medieval murder mystery night so I decided to add them – I hate waste!

Ingredients

1 packet of kransky’s – 1 sausage per person
1 medium potato
1 small onion
1 zuchinni
¼ butternut pumpkin
¼ sweet potato
½ leek
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 teaspoons crushed garlic
sprinkle of chilli flakes
sprinkle of rosemary
sprinkle of paprika
few torn basil leaves
a little parsley finely chopped
drizzle of olive oil

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables into smallish bite size pieces (see photo 1 above as a guide). In a baking tray, mix the vegetables with the oil and herbs, ensuring all pieces have an even coating.
  2. Cook in the oven at a moderate temperament (200°C) for  30 minutes (photo 2). Check every 15 minutes, stirring vegetables to redistribute the oil and herbs over all the vegetables as needed.
  3. Warm a tiny bit of oil in a shallow saucepan or skillet over a medium heat setting. Chop the kransky into bite size pieces, placing into the oil cut side down. Cook for several minutes before turning (photo 3 above).
  4. Pile the vegetables on a warmed plate, topped by the kranksy. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika or sprig of parsley. Enjoy!

Observations

  • I make variations of this dish quite often. Almost weekly. Its actually my “mustn’t waste vegetables!” technique. At the end of the week when the cupboards are starting to look bare, I will whip something like this up to use up any left over vegetables before shopping day. Sometimes I will serve this on a bed of couscous, sometimes mixed in with left over pasta with a cheese sauce. The herbs used vary according to what I am feeling at that moment. Experiment with this idea in an effort to reduce the amount of waste your family generates through uneaten vegetables.
  • I made this in my portable convection oven. If you use a PCO, don’t forget to add a little water to the bottom to keep the air moist / stop the veggies from drying out.
  • Diabetics Note: The kransky is VERY high in fats, so portion control is essential, regardless of how delicious they are! The carb content from this meal comes primarily from the potatoes and sweet potatoes. I often omit those vegetables if I am using couscous or pasta. Adjust to suit your carbohydrate needs, but this meal ran well within my exchange point budget, and my BGLs were fine.
  • One last (but big!) note – I would love to say this meal is ethical, but I don’t think the Kranskys were. Although the company was ethical, the ingredients list “meat including pork”. I can only assume that there is beef in the mix, which for us is highly unethical. Read my post regarding the big beef debate to find out why.
 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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