Luscious Lemon Sponge

I promised I’d start doing this again, so here goes!

From Woolworths was got:

  • 5 kg Laucke Multigrain bread mix $12.57
  • 2 l Cadbury Vanilla ice cream           $  5.00

Total = $17.57

The cold stuff

The cold stuff

From Aldi:

  • 500 g Pizza cheese                              $4.79
  • 500 g Dairy Spread                              $2.99
  • 500 g Fish fillets                                    $3.99
  • Beef silverside                                       $8.58
  • 500g steakhouse fries                        $2.49
  • 500 g frozen stir fry veg                     $1.99
  • Pork Loin Roast                                  $15.36
  • 1 kg SR flour                                            $0.75
  • Wholemeal tortilla wraps                  $1.99
  • 1 kg   Caster sugar                                 $1.99
  • 1 kg Plain flour                                       $0.75
  • 4 x corn snack packs                            $2.29
  • 1 x Microwave brown rice pack       $1.49
  • 1 x 700 ml Passata                                $1.59
  • 2 x 400 g plain diced tomatoes        $1.18
  • 1 x 400g tomatoes w. herbs              $0.59
  • 1 x 800 g can pie apples                      $2.99
  • 1 x 397 g can condensed milk          $1.69
  • 1 x 455 g jar Vegemite                          $6.59
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut cream           $0.89
  • 1 x 400 ml lite coconut cream          $0.89
  • 1 x 250 g jar minced garlic                  $1.19
  • 1 x 500 g squeeze pack honey          $5.49
  • 1 kg brown onions                                 $1.29

Total = 76.44

The main haul.

The main haul.

And looking at that picture, I’ve just realised that I bought two cans of condensed milk but was charged for only one!

And from the greengrocer:

  • potatoes                                                   $1.80
  • Granny Smith apples                          $1.78
  • Red capsicums                                      $2.19

Total = $5.77

A total spend of  $99.78

And I’m happy with that. The ‘fun’ things this week were the ice-cream so we could have something naughty in the freezer 😉 and the passata. I want to use some in the pressure canning I’m doing and, when I saw it there, I grabbed a bottle. I need to check out the recipe I want to use to see what else is needed, but I’ve made a start.

Tonight our dinner was Almost Fried Rice using some of the leftover corned beef from Sunday dinner.

Dinner

Dinner

And I spent a goodly part of the day mixing up a lemon sponge for my Thursday lunch group. There were a couple of small mishaps – but it’s all ready to go now.

Luscious Lemon Sponge

Luscious Lemon Sponge

Hopefully, they’ll be able to overlook my truly horrendous effort at icing it, because it now looks truly hideous.

It's nearly Halloween, isn't it?

It’s nearly Halloween, isn’t it?

I hate icing. Do you think it shows?  The Boy tells me that, once it’s cut up and on their plates, no-one will care what it looks like.

Until tomorrow, lovelies.

 

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Hello my lovelies.

I’m sorry I wasn’t on yesterday.

I went off to our plot at the Ballarat Community Garden and didn’t get back for 3 and a bit hours.

Before

Before

After all that weeding and mulching I was ever so tired and typing and internetting wasn’t really something I felt up to.

After.

After.

Thankfully, I had put a corned beef on to cook in the slow cooker before I left, so there really was nothing left to do for dinner.

That is, beyond mashing some spuds and cooking the Pak Choi I had just plucked from the aforementioned plot.

I had been followed home by a massive rainstorm, so it was doubly nice to tuck in to my meal knowing that (a) I had missed a drenching and (b) I didn’t have to do anything else that evening.

Dinner.

Sunday Dinner.

Today, I finally finished the shopping and hit the green grocery – so I’ll be publishing lists tomorrow. I also managed to make some Lemon Butter with my friend Althea’s eggs, and my friend Stephen’s lemons.

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Then I started an experiment. There is a recipe for ginger beer in my mother’s collection and I have been meaning to try it for some time. This is that time. I’ll tell you in a few days if I was successful, but this is how it looks right now.

Ginger beer?

Ginger beer?

Tonight we shopped the fridge and I had vegetarian bean curry and the boy had honey teriyaki chicken; both over rice.

Tomorrow we will be starting the day with a celebratory breakfast. I have some brie in the refrigerator and some croissants in the freezer. These two shall be combined.

🙂

We have finance, Peeps. Life is good.

 

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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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The Accidental Cat wants chicken

Today I managed to get dressed a few hours after the rest of the country had lunch.

Thankfully, last night I had retrieved a packet of Asian flavoured beef  from my freezer, so I popped that in my baby slow cooker on low.

And the after" pic.

Dinner

Then I washed several loads of laundry and got them hung up on various contraptions around the house.

Tomorrow is supposed to be shopping day – although I sincerely doubt that is going to happen – so I did a bit of a freezer stocktake. We have quite a bit of frozen mince, some chicken tenderloins and a butterflied chicken roast in there, so we’re at no risk of protein deficiency any time soon. However, I have a hankering for some corned beef and might hunt some out while shopping.

Speaking of which, I may have to recruit The Boy to help me out with it this time. This can be a fraught situation. ASD and supermarkets are not natural bedfellows; the fluorescent lights, piped music and all the other audio and visual stimuli can very easily overload an Aspergian brain with data. Softly, softly…

Anyway, I decided to deprive the BBQ chook in the refrigerator of its remaining flesh, bag it all up and freeze; the meat for quick meals later and the carcass for stock when I’m running low.

Chicken on ice

Chicken on ice

Of course, this is what suddenly appeared at my feet as I opened the bag of chicken…

The Accidental Cat wants chicken

The Accidental Cat wants chicken

I thinks she likes chicken. It’s only a hunch, mind you, but she seems quite keen.

I have cooked some rice and am about to eat my beef before heading off to a book club meeting without having read the book, because eyes don’t work.

I have my lunch group tomorrow and I have no idea what I’m going to take. All suggestions welcome.

ttfn

Howdy do.

Today was the start of spring and Ballarat turned on the sunshine. The Accidental Cat discovered the OUTSIDE for the first time under the watchful eyes of the other two clowder members.

The Boy headed off to work and I baked chocolate chip biscuits.

The biscuit barrel is full.

The biscuit barrel is full.

Then I ran out of energy and sat down for quite a while. Tonight we will “shop the fridge” for our dinner, choosing from the leftovers that are there. We have Chilli Mac, Thai green curry and Lentil and barley casserole – so we’re not exactly slumming it!

I suspect I’ll go the macaroni, just quietly.

Speak soon.

Today we managed to find an opening between the showers to pop down to our plot at the Community Garden and pick some stuff and weed and mulch other bits.

In summary, we came home with this pile of green awesomeness. It includes our very first leek (naaawww!), several pak choi, some broccolini and some Tuscan Kale (cavolo nero or black cabbage) very generously given to us by a neighbouring gardener.

We done grew all this green stuff!

We done grew all this green stuff!

It was all washed or scrubbed when we got home and has since been filed or eaten. We don’t muck around with our greens in this household, let that be a warning to ye!

Ahem. Moving on…

I have plans to use the leek and kale in a Lentil and Barley Hotpot tomorrow.

We’re planning on spending the greater part of tomorrow afternoon burning a pile of very old rose prunings that have been loitering on my front landing (oo er!) ever since we moved in about 18 months ago. It will be quite cathartic to watch them burn, really.

They are from very old plants that seem to have thorns on their thorns and the prospect of taking them to the tip was plagued by visions of us both bleeding to death from our wounds on the way. As it is, we have damp weather and a stubborn bald spot in our rear lawn that could use a fine layering of ash and charcoal – she said, pretending to know what she is talking about and fooling precisely no-one.

Regardless, the crock pot can crock while we give vent to our rather tame inner pyromaniacs.

Tonight, however, I had some leftover chilli mac from last night.

Chilli Mac

Chilli Mac

While The Boy filled his belly with a terrifyingly hot Vegan Thai Green Curry that I made up for him – on request.

Now doesn't that look purdy?

Now doesn’t that look purdy?

It used up most of what was left of our jar of green curry paste, some onion, carrot, celery, red capsicum, coconut cream, home-canned soy and adzuki beans and a goodly portion of the pak choi you saw in the first photograph.

I served it over some steamed basmati rice we had in the refrigerator and he was a very happy little camper.

Not blurry, but steamy.

Not blurry, but steamy.

Both dishes were consumed accompanied by discussion about the Rhinoceros in “The Gods must be crazy” and our newest household member, the Accidental Cat.

Sara - the accidental cat.

Sara – the accidental cat.

I’ll speak with you all tomorrow, if we manage not to burn anything we’re not supposed to.

Let me know if you’d like a post on how I constructed the curry.

ttfn.

 

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
  • Print

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.

I don't think Garfield would mind this.

Hello, my dears.

Last night I went to a friend’s birthday do and so didn’t cook. I believe The Boy had something from the fridge to eat – but he can’t remember what. Sigh.

Today we went to visit some peeps in another town and I made some Hidden Treasure Muffins to take with us. They seem to be on high rotation lately.

As a result, I need to add condensed milk and muffin cases to my list for next week.

When we got home, I was close to death from this virus that seems to have me in its clutches, so I really didn’t feel like preparing anything.

However, we had the leftover meat sauce from Wednesday night in the fridge and the ricotta that I didn’t use at the pasta-making class, so I combined the two.

Meat sauce in dish

Meat sauce in dish.

I layered the meat sauce with the ricotta and some pasta sheets into a lasagne-type arrangement.

Plain ricotta.

Plain ricotta.

Then I baked it for 40 minutes or so, before scattering breadcrumbs and shredded parmesan over the top.

Crunchy topping

Crunchy topping.

It was baked for a further 10 minutes and then served.  I can’t say I was impressed with it – the ricotta really didn’t hit the mark as a bechamel sauce substitute – but it was adequate.

I don't think Garfield would mind this.

I don’t think Garfield would mind this.

Our tummies were full of something wholesome and I get to go to bed happy. There are now two serves of this in the freezer as well for future unplanned-for meals.

Tomorrow I hope to publish a post on cornbread cobbler, which is a great way of stretching out a stew or chilli or even of rehashing it; as I just did with this meat sauce.

Don’t hold me to it though, my throat is on fire right now….