Steamed basmati and quinoa

Last night we had a blackout that lasted for a very, very long time. The Boy was not impressed as he was in the middle of a ‘ranked’ League of Legends game when it went out.  It didn’t come back until 4 am.

Sigh.

The sun, however, rose as per regular programming and I zipped off to the monthly produce swap at the local Community Garden. I now have 2 dozen eggs from a friend’s backyard chooks and I shall enjoy coming up with things to cook with them.

I’ve been given oodles of lemons lately, so Lemon Butter would seem to be the most obvious first choice…

I also inspected our plot and decided a whole lot of weeding needs done – and soon. When I got home I discovered that the lettuce seeds I’d planted a few days ago in my mini-hothouse are sprouting already. Spring really is here.

Budding lettuce seedlings.

Budding lettuce seedlings.

I recently found a slow-cooker Honey Teriyaki Chicken recipe. It called for chicken breasts, but I had some tenderloins in the freezer waiting to be used. So that was dinner tonight.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

It was served with mixed vegetables over a steamed mix of basmati rice and quinoa, which was quite tasty.

Steamed basmati and quinoa

Steamed basmati and quinoa

The Boy gave it the thumbs up, so I may post the recipe in the future.

Until tomorrow.

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If only I ate a plant-based, whole-foods diet.

Today was a day when I got things done in spite of myself. After managing to hunt down someone on a nearby road crew who could move the truck that was parked across my driveway, I finally got to my lunch group. This was done via a local bakery.

Yes. I squibbed on making something, but I was tired. One of my friends at the group surprised me with a little box of a lovely home-made, gluten-free Buckeye Slice though. It is being savoured slowly…

And doesn't that look fabulous?

And doesn’t that look fabulous?

Then I celebrated the fact that we have conditional approval on our financing (Yippee!) and treated myself to my first haircut in a l o n g time. It’s one of those things I stopped doing in order to save some cash. I’m tidier now. It feels good.

Turned out the hairdresser’s brother had just been diagnosed with MS, so I found myself giving a potted lecture on the subject …

After this, The Boy readily agreed to helping me with the shopping. Bless him.

We drove out to look at our block of land first. It remains where we left it. This was reassuring.

Some of the haul.

Some of the haul.

Then we hit the shops. Bread mix was bought and a couple of largish lumps of meat, alongside assorted other edibles. All that remains is the fresh vegetables – and that can wait. I have my regular IV tomorrow and no shopping will follow that.

I get taken to lunch on days when I have the drip; that’s always nice.

However, fear not!  I will resume my posts listing what I bought where, and for how much. Just not tonight or tomorrow, ‘kay?

We’d bought some frozen fish fillets as something different and then thought we’d do home-made fish and chips for dinner.

That didn’t happen. I’m tired, he’s feeling down – we need nutrition not nasties.

So I mixed up a Vegan Tikka Masala instead. As you do.

I sautéed some onion, carrot and celery (natch!) in my French oven while I thought about what to do next. I decided a spoonful or two of Tikka Masala paste from a jar in the fridge would go well, so I fried that off and added some lite coconut cream, a tin of red kidney beans and a tin of chick peas.

Some Bok Choy was sliced and added – after I had persuaded the Accidental Cat that it was not something that she wanted to eat. This cat was definitely fed in the kitchen by her previous humans, the merest rustle of anything and she comes running.

Oooh, too spooky for me!

Oooh, too spooky for me!

Then the rest of the Tuscan Kale we were given on the weekend was sliced and added to the curry with a small red capsicum I diced.

I heated up a mix of some cooked brown and basmati rice I had in the refrigerator and dinner was served.

15 minutes from go to whoa. Fast food people. $5 worth.

Chick pea tikka masala.

Chickpea Tikka Masala.

Try it.

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Stuffed Baked Apple

Hello everyone – and a special hello to all our new subscribers!

*waves frantically and tries to look interesting*

*runs out of energy*

When you have MS you have good days, bad days and days from Hell. Today was closer to the latter than many I have had lately. I am fatigued, badly fatigued.

But that’s okay. I know it will get better eventually. In the meantime, all I can do is the best that I can – and that includes eating well.

We decided that we would do risotto for dinner tonight using some of the cold BBQ chook in the fridge. Around midday I realised that there was no way I could stand and stir a pot for the required time, so The Boy was asked if he would like to make one in the pressure cooker. Predictably, his eyes lit up and fulsome consent sprung forth…

I think he likes the idea that it could explode but probably won’t.

Pressure cooker risotto.

Pressure cooker risotto before liftoff.

Anyway, I prepped the vegies and chicken for him.

It was at this point that I learned that the Accidental Cat can smell a BBQ chook from the other end of a very long house and can move startlingly fast. Meal preparation was therefore accompanied by detailed explanations that we do not feed kittens in the kitchen…I don’t think I was heard really. Sigh. We’ll get there.

The Accidental Cat

The Accidental Cat

Dinner went swimmingly and used some arborio rice, a diced BBQ chicken breast, an onion, a small red capsicum and two stalks of celery with some of our home-made chicken stock and a few bits of freshly harvested broccolini from our allotment.

Chicken risotto.

Chicken risotto.

We then tucked into some of the stuffed apples we didn’t eat last night, accompanied by some ice cream The Boy had bought me to cheer me up. (Isn’t he sweet?)

Just dessert.

Just dessert.

I’m hoping to post the recipe for it in the next day or so – energy levels permitting. Apples, a bit of brown sugar, rolled oats and dried fruit combined to make a wholesome sweet treat that ticks an awful lot of health boxes.  See? Things can only get better!

In the interim, the biscuit barrel in the fridge is empty. I plan to make some cookies tomorrow…fingers crossed. I’m also working on this fortnight’s shopping list and it’s shaping up to be a big one. I didn’t buy any groceries last fortnight. Instead I purchased some mason jars for pressure canning, stocked up on some dishwasher tablets that were selling for 75% off, and bought some bulk instant coffee for The Boy.

My pantry needs feeding.

Today, bread was baked.  It was enriched with home-ground flaxseed and some steel cut oat groats that I want to use up.

Then the smallest slow cooker was filled with the makings of a lentil and barley hotpot with a slight variation. The Boy isn’t keen on the texture of the dried shiitake mushrooms that I like to add to it, so this time I thought I’d do something different.

Dried Mushrooms.

Dried Mushrooms.

I piled the dried mushrooms into the little electric coffee grinder- that I use for grinding everything except coffee – and pulverised them.

Dried mushroom powder.

Dried mushroom powder.

Then I added the mushroom powder to the chicken stock and continued as per normal. This way I got the mushroomy aroma that I adore and he didn’t have to deal with sensory issues. This is what is known as a win/win.

Some of yesterday’s Tuscan Kale bonanza was also added to the pot. We had it for dinner served over steamed basmati rice.

Lentil and Barley Hotpot

Lentil and Barley Hotpot

But before that we reduced a heaping pile of killer rose debris to a much smaller, smouldering pile of ash and charcoal. It was very satisfying.

However, it caused me to reflect on how skills are being lost – especially after three abortive attempts to get the pyre lit. My mother used to woman the incinerator at our house (before the advent of recycling bins) and I regaled The Boy with tales of yesteryear when everyone’s Sunday afternoon usually included one or another neighbour’s smoke from ‘burning off’ household waste of some kind.  Usually blowing directly onto someone’s freshly laundered sheets.

I now smell of wood smoke. The cats are viewing me with suspicion.

We followed this caveman-like feat with some very civilised Loaded Hot Potato Chips and collapsed in front of the telly.

Loaded hot potato chips

Loaded hot potato chips

I decided (in my deranged exhaustion) that I wanted to try something I’d never done before for dessert. I decided this about 10 minutes before I was going to serve dinner. I’m an idiot.

Anyway, I spent about 20 minutes searching for a recipe in my book collection and then asked Mr Google. For dessert I made some Baked Stuffed Apples.

Stuffed Baked Apple

Stuffed Baked Apple

I was too tired to eat them.

There were leftovers.

A mañana todos.

Microwaved Jacket Potato

I'm feeling peckish now.

There are times when you want something quick but hearty to eat, be it for dinner or lunch.

This is one of those dishes.

In fact, this is an ideal process to teach hollow-legged teenagers to follow for filling/healthy after school or school holiday snacks. Actually, it just makes an ideal Saturday/after sport/after-after-school-activity-and-I’m-too-tired-to-cook-anything-imaginative-dinner.

If you have a microwave, then you can have a baked jacket potato on your plate in mere minutes. In fact, many microwaves have a potato button…

Spot the 'Potato' button.

Spot the ‘Potato’ button.

But you can still do this even if your particular zapper doesn’t.

First, you need a potato.

This is a potato.

This is a potato.

I buy washed potatoes. I know they are cheaper unwashed, but I don’t enjoy scrubbing them and I refuse to peel potatoes on the grounds of good nutrition. So there.

When I choose my potatoes, I try to buy ones that fit nicely into the palm of my hand. That is a decent serving size for me. You might like your potatoes larger. Go for it.

Wash your potato and then prick it in several different places using the tines of a fork.

Pierce your potato's skin.

Pierce your potato’s skin.

Don’t skip this step. You need to do this or your potato will explode while you are cooking it. Now wrap it in a sheet of paper towel, like so.

Gift wrapped potato.

Gift wrapped potato.

Put it into your microwave and either use the potato program – my microwave requires me to press “potato” and then the number of items, followed by “cook” – or input cooking times yourself.

This can vary depending on the size of your spud. Try starting with 3 mins 30 sec at 80% power and work your way up from there. You’ll know your potato is cooked when the fork you used to puncture the skin will go into the flesh easily.

Warning: The potato will be HOT. Take proper precautions when handling it.

Check that it is done.

Check that it is done.

Then place it on a plate or into a bowl. You can eat it just like this, if you wish, but I like to top mine.

Cut a cross in the flattest side, opening up the potato like so:

That already looks good.

That already looks good.

We like to top ours with some home-made Baked Beans. I keep little jars of these in our freezer for meals like this, you can use store bought canned baked beans if you have them – any flavour you like.

Home-made cider baked beans.

Home-made cider baked beans.

Top your potato with the beans, cover and put it back into the microwave for a further minute at 100% power.

Ready to heat.

Ready to heat.

While it heats, get some grated cheese out of the fridge (or grate some). Top your potato and beans.

Top with a sprinkling of shredded tasty cheese or mozzarella.

Top with a sprinkling of shredded tasty cheese or mozzarella.

Return to the microwave, covered, for a further 30 seconds on 100%.

Melt your cheese.

Melt your cheese.

Eat.

Or, if you want to be really decadent, add a spoonful of sour cream and a sprinkling of mixed herbs or lemon pepper.

I'm feeling peckish now.

I’m feeling peckish now.

That, my friends, is a decent lunch in under 5 minutes.

Variations:

  • Try topping with a mixture of diced ham, cheese and pineapple for an Hawaiian Pizza feel.
  • Try a tin of three or four bean mix instead of the baked beans, add some pesto and bacon bits.
  • Try topping the baked potato with cheese and serving topped with some mixed frozen vegetables that have been cooked separately.

Corned Beef (Silverside)

The final result.

Corned Beef is one of those dishes that seems to have become a regular on my family meal rota – which is strange.

When I was a child I hated the stuff with a vengeance. Although I could be persuaded to eat it if, and only if, my mother was calling it Cane Cutter’s Ham.

I don’t know why.

I then lived alone for several decades and only attempted to cook it twice during that period. Both times were for visits by my step-father and, while he said it was great, I thought it was less than ordinary on both occasions.

I’ve got better at it in this stage of my life. Firstly, I’ve stopped cooking the vegetables that accompany it in the same pot as the meat. This means that there is a different flavour for everything on the plate, instead of a meal-wide sameness that resembles the next step to gastronomic zombieville.

Roasted veg.

Roasted veg.

I’ve also started adding a few more flavourings to the pot, some of which elevate the dish to heavenly status.

I kiddest thou not.

The best part is that I inevitably have enough leftover to make several more meals from the same piece of meat: fritters and almost fried rice spring to mind, it’s also a nifty addition to pasta bakes or on lunch box sandwiches.

One and a half kilos of meal options.

One and a half kilos of meal options.

I inevitably cook mine in a slow cooker but it can, of course, be cooked on the stove for a much shorter time. I like being able to put it on to cook of a morning and then walking away for the rest of the day until I’m ready to serve it up.

Go with your muse on this one.

So, to cook a piece of corned beef, you first need to find a pot big enough to put it in. Make sure it’s one that will take the beef, any flavourings you may use and enough water to cover the lot of it. In the photograph, I’m using a 3 litre slow cooker that has a tall, narrow crock.

First find a roomy pot.

First find a roomy pot.

I know it looks kind of yucky. This one was vacuum packed and had a fair amount of jelly around it. Don’t wash it off, just put the whole lot into your pot.

Now, generally, I would put the flavourings in first and then add the meat, But I didn’t do that for the pictures. I’m sorry if it confuses anyone. Also, none of the vegetables I’m about to add to the pot are destined to be eaten. They’re simply there to add flavour to the meat.

Got it? Good.

To the pot I add a stick of celery, cut into largish bits.

Celery.

Celery.

A carrot treated similarly.

Carrot.

Carrot.

Then an onion. All of these may be kept whole if you have the room in your pot.

Onions.

Onions.

Now add 6 peppercorns or 6 whole cloves. If you’re keen, you can add both. My mother would stud the onion with the cloves, but I don’t have the dexterity for that.

I also add some fennel seeds and a star anise.

A touch of spice.

A touch of spice.

Then a tablespoon or so (a glug) of apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar.

And then the piéce de resistance!  An orange.

Yes, really. A chef former neighbour gave me this tip a year or so ago and I kiss her feet for it. (Thanks Kath!)

An orange. OMG.

An orange. OMG.

This will add a certain something that will lift your corned beef into the stratosphere of flavour. Trust me on this.

Now pop in a Bay Leaf and cover with cold water.

This is why I usually put the oranges in before the beef...

This is why I usually put the oranges in before the beef…

Put the lid on and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours. Your kitchen will start to smell amazing.  I promise.

The final result.

The final result.

When it is done, simply remove from the pot, slice and serve. As you can see, the vegetables don’t look like you’d really want them on your plate…

Slice and serve.

Slice and serve.

Traditionally, Corned Beef is served with a white or mustard sauce. However, the other person in this household doesn’t really like sauces…

The meat does tend to dry out a little once sliced, so I simply spoon a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid over the meat on the plate. Not enough to drown it, mind!

It keeps the meat moist and gives a further hit of flavour.

Sunday night feast?

Sunday night feast?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Corned Beef

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 kg silverside/corned beef (this recipe will also work for larger cuts)

1 large onion, chopped

1 large stick of celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 medium to large orange, quartered

6 whole cloves (these may be inserted into the onion if you wish); or

6 peppercorns – or both

1 star anise

½ tsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 bay leaf

Method

Add all the ingredients to a pot large enough to hold the meat and flavourings.

Cover with cold water.

Bring slowly to the boil and simmer with the lid on until the meat is tender. (Approx. 2 hours for a 1 kg cut on the stove top)

If using a slow cooker set on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.

When cooked to your preference, remove from water, slice and serve.

May be served with a mustard sauce or with some of the pot juices spooned over the meat.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Variations:

This recipe will work for any pickled or salted cut of meat.

 

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Osso Buco

I have spent the vast majority of the day tucked up in my bed with a cat or two.

However, I did emerge long enough to make dinner.

The Boy had the stated objective of “making Osso Buco in the bomb” – by this he meant our pressure cooker. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked on his ‘puter and my tummy got rumbling; so I did it.

Thankfully his distraction lasted long enough that I was able to cook it, realise it needed more time, and do it over again. Which also gave me time to stir up a pot of polenta.

?????????????

Polenta

And a glorious dinner was had.

Polenta

Polenta

Now I intend to head back to bed and continue working my way through the exhaustive list of home remedies that has generously been flowing in over the last few days.

Night All.

Cough, sniffle.

Asian Spiced Meatballs

These little darlings are something you can mix up in bulk and freeze in advance.

They take a tiny bit of time, and can be a little icky to prepare (especially if you don’t like handling raw meat), but are totally worth it.

These meatballs can be made as large or as small as you like and you may use any ground meat you happen to have,.

I developed this with chicken mince – mostly because I am not a fan of chicken.

Sue me.

This recipe can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled if you want. You might even want to enslave, exploit, encourage your children to help roll them once they’re mixed.

So, here we go. Pay attention and don’t blink or you’ll miss something…

Dump your minced/ground meat into a suitable bowl. Then add a good spoonful each of minced garlic and crushed ginger. I always have little jars of those two things in my refrigerator.

However, you can use fresh if you prefer.

Add some aromatics to your meat.

Add some aromatics to your meat.

Mix through thoroughly. You may want to use a fork for this to help you break up the meat properly and distribute the flavourings more evenly.

Then add a good shaking of whatever spices you think you’d like. My standards are ground cumin, ground coriander and a few chilli flakes – you may like to use a garam masala, or add ground ginger as well; finely chopped parsley or coriander/cilantro also make good additions.

Go for it. Use what you know you like.

Spice it up.

Spice it up.

Mix that through. You don’t need to be gentle, in fact being a little on the rough side will help to develop the proteins in the meat and make it all stick together better.

You can skip this next step if you wish, but you might like to add a generous glug of an Asian-style sauce.

Get saucy.

Get saucy.

As you can see, I used hoi sin for this batch. You could use teriyaki, soy sauce, kecap manis, oyster sauce or even sweet chilli sauce if you want. Or none at all – it’s not necessary but it does show what can be done.

Mix through with the fork again, and then give it a good stir with a spoon or spatula. You’ll notice it all start coming together nicely.

Now, with wet hands, create mandarin-sized balls of meat – wet your hands between meat balls and it will go easier. The wetness helps stop the meat from sticking.

Have a ball.

Have a ball.

You may wish to wear disposable gloves. You may even find it easier to use a large ice cream scoop to measure them out onto a plate all at once and to just finish them off in your hands.

Do what you feel comfortable with.

You can freeze them at this point, if you wish.

If you want to eat them now, then gently heat a pan or griddle that has been lightly brushed or sprayed with oil.

Oil up.

Oil up.

Then add your meat balls, pressing down lightly to flatten them slightly. Set a timer for 4 mins and then LEAVE THEM ALONE. Just let them cook while you do other things, like set the table or something.

At the four minute mark, turn them over. They should lift easily. If they stick, let them sit a minute or so more and try again. Set your timer for another 4 minutes.

Flip.

Flip.

When the timer goes off for the second time they’re ready to serve.

I like to serve with steamed rice and veggies. In this instance, I’ve tinted the rice with a touch of turmeric in the water.

Make a meal out of it.

Make a meal out of it.

They are also quite nice served as a burger.

Enjoy.

Asian-spiced meatballs

  • Servings: 4-6 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

250 g ground meat (minced beef, pork or chicken)

1 tsp minced garlic (from a jar)

1 tsp crushed ginger (from a jar)

½ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp chilli flakes

(or any other spices you’d like to add)

1-2 tbsps thick Asian flavoured sauce, optional.(kecap manis, sweet chilli sauce, Hoi Sin sauce, Teriyaki sauce, etc)

Method

Place meat into a medium bowl. Add garlic and ginger and mix in well with a fork.

Add spices, and mix well.

Add sauce if wished and mix well.

Mix until the meat starts to stick together and form a large ball.

With wet hands, form into four meatballs (for this amount of meat.) If you prefer, use a large ice cream scoop to measure out and finish forming them in hands using disposable gloves.

(you can’t get around touching the meat in some way. Sorry.)

Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat and oil lightly. An oil spray would be ideal.

When the pan is hot, add the meatballs – pressing lightly to flatten slightly. Do not crowd the pan.

Leave to cook for 4 mins.

Turn and cook the other side for a further 4 mins.

Serve with rice and vegetables.

To flash freeze:

Cover a dinner plate with grease proof paper, such as baking parchment, and place meatballs on it so that they are not touching.

Put the dinner plate into the freezer for 30 mins. There is no need to cover the plate.

After 30 mins, remove the meatballs to a ziploc bag.

Seal and return to freezer.

By partially freezing the balls you will ensure that they won’t stick together in the bag. This means you can remove just the number you need.

Ensure they are fully defrosted before cooking.

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I made a yummy.

Before I forget, yesterday I left out the $11 BBQ Chicken I had bought a few days before. It has been picked clean with the meat frozen in portions, and the carcass used in stock.

The amount I have left in my food budget is therefore $11.52. So I can still get eggs if I need them…

Anyway, today I managed to not get killed in a sudden hailstorm. This made me very happy.

I was even happier when I got home and then got warm.

The decision was made to make an apple crumble using some of the Apple and Quince pie filling I made a few months ago.

Apple and Quince Crumble

Apple and Quince Crumble.

Then I decided that I would use those beautiful pork sausages you saw me freeze a few weeks back. I had started making a hot pot with them, and had just added some fennel seeds, when I remembered that fennel bulb from the vegetable shopping.

So, I made a WONDERFUL cassoulet-like dish with pork sausages, fresh fennel and cannellini beans.

I made a yummy.

I made a yummy.

My goodness it was good. And I served it on a bed of mashed, slow-cooked sweet potato. Because I could.

I’ve documented all the steps, so I shall be able to post a recipe for you soon-ish.

It made enough for four, so we got a meal’s worth of leftovers from it – for this I am grateful.

I didn’t make biscuits. That can wait until tomorrow.

That’s it for tonight, Lovelies. Speak tomorrow.

 

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Chilli con Carne (Budget Bounty style)

Dinner is served.

First off, let me get one thing clear: Chilli con Carne means Chilli with meat.

There is no such thing as Vegetarian Chilli con Carne.

There. I feel better now.

This is a dish I have adapted from one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes out of his book, Happy Days with the Naked Chef. I pretty much follow his recipe but get rid of a lot of fiddling around.

I’m sure he’d approve.

I also tend to cook it in a slow cooker, but I’m guessing that this surprises precisely no-one.

My step-father is a fiend for chilli. When I lived in Canberra, and knew he was driving up from Melbourne to see me, I would get this dish to the long simmer stage the night before and pop it in the fridge overnight. I’d put it in the slow cooker on low just before I went to work in the morning and it would be gorgeous by the time I got home to find him waiting for me.

Nowadays, I find it perfect for cold to just-bordering-on-utterly-miserable days. Put it on early and leave it to do its thing until you’re ready to eat. In the meantime, your home smells gorgeous.

Leftovers are not to be scoffed at.

Leftovers are not to be scoffed at.

You can cook this on the stove top, in the oven or in the slow cooker (3 litre size for this recipe). Whatever works for you.

It makes a whole heap, so you can feed a crowd, make a ton of leftovers to eat during the week for a singleton or individual frozen meals for future famines of inspiration.

Start with a chopping board, a knife and some vegies. If you intend to cook this on the stove or in the oven, you’ll want a Dutch oven style pot with a tight-fitting lid. Get your slow cooker set up if that’s what you’d prefer to use. In this case I also put the cooker on low and empty the tins of tomatoes into it – just to get it warmed up and going.

Get your slow cooker on-line.

Get your slow cooker on-line.

Now, dice up an onion, a stick of celery and a carrot as finely as you like (or are able).

Start by sauteeing the trinity.

Start by sauteeing the trinity.

Heat your pan over a medium heat with a little olive oil. (Use a frying pan for this stage if you intend to slow cook.)

Add your chopped vegetables and a teaspoon of crushed garlic. I don’t mind if this comes from a jar. Cook gently until the onion softens and becomes translucent.

Now add your minced beef. You’ll want about half a kilo or a pound of meat to serve four. Continue to fry, stirring gently to brown the meat almost all the way through. I like to push the vegetables aside at first, but do what works for you.

Once it is browned sufficiently, you can add a mix of ground cumin, chilli powder and fresh chilli OR you can use whatever commercial chilli blend you prefer. Make it as hot or as mild as you wish, but add the spices at this stage to fully release the aromatic oils that they contain.

Add your meat and spices.

Add your meat and spices.

Mix it all together as thoroughly as you can, just to get those flavours a little more melded.

Looking good.

Looking good.

If you are using the slow cooker, then transfer your mixture into it now. Add the contents of 2 x 400 g tins of diced tomatoes and a small jar of sun-ripened tomato pesto.

I get the latter from Aldi. It only costs $2 and is quite affordable for the punch of flavour it gives. You may wish to drain off some of the oil from the top of the jar, but this isn’t necessary. It’s a matter of taste.

Sun-ripened tomato pesto.

Sun-ripened tomato pesto.

Mix together well, add a half glass of water and a stick of cinnamon (yes, really) and season to taste. (Leave out the water if slow cooking.)

Stick of cinnamon.

Stick of cinnamon.

Bring the mixture to the boil and place a piece of greaseproof paper between the pot and the lid. Turn the heat down to simmer on the stove for 1-1½ hours. Alternatively, transfer to the oven for the same amount of time.

Add the tinned kidneys beans about 30 minutes before serving to allow them to warm through.

I forgot to strain the oil off the pesto - can you tell?

I forgot to strain the oil off the pesto – can you tell?

Serve with crusty bread, on plain steamed rice, on boiled pasta as a meat sauce, on mashed potatoes, over corn chips, topped with a cornbread cobbler (recipe coming soon) or in tacos or burritos. Have your way with it.  Goodness, you could even top it with mashed spud and call it Shepherd’s Pie if you want.

It’s a really versatile dish.  Enjoy.

Chilli con Carne (stove and oven)

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

2 medium onions, diced

1 stick celery, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed

olive oil

2 level tsps chilli powder

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

500 g minced beef (err toward the leaner cuts)

I x 190 g jar sundried tomato pesto, excess oil drained from top and discarded.

2 x 400 g tins diced tomatoes

2 x 400 g tins kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 stick cinnamon

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C/ 300° F, if using.

In a metal pan or casserole with a tight-fitting lid, heat olive oil gently.

Add diced vegetables and garlic until onions are softened and translucent.

Add the minced beef and sauté gently until browned through. Add the spices or substitute any low-salt tex-mex style blend you prefer.

Add the contents of the jar of pesto and the two tins of diced tomatoes with a small glass of water. Stir well and add cinnamon stick.

Bring to a boil, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and the lid and reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for 1½ hours on the stove top or transfer to the oven for 1½ hours.

At the 1 hour point, add the kidneys beans and stir thoroughly to warm through.

Variation:

Slow cooker:

Prepare a 3 – 4 litre (quart) slow cooker.

Follow directions as above to the using a medium sized frying pan.

Transfer contents of pan to slow-cooker and add the contents of the jar of pesto and the two tins of diced tomatoes.

Stir well and add cinnamon stick.

Bring to a boil on High, then reduce heat to LOW.

Cook for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

30 minutes before serving, add the kidney beans to heat through.

If the mixture is too wet, sauce may be thickened using cornflour, or soaked up using a cobbler topping.

Hungry yet?

Hungry yet?