Tag Archives: lunch

Fish & Chips at Terrigal Beach, Australia.

Yesterday, I stopped off at Terrigal Beach on my way home from an appointment. Terrigal is only about a 30 minute drive away and an hour North of Sydney. Yet, it’s been over a year since I was there last.While we live right near a beach ourselves, Terrigal has its own attractions and I can’t believe we don’t get there more often. Indeed, yesterday was something of a wake up call. An urgent reminder to carpe diem – seize the day.

No doubt, you also know how it is. That it doesn’t matter how close you are to paradise, it somehow passes you by. Not necessarily through any active thought on your part, but more likely through busyness and procrastination, although there’s also plenty of scope for  full-scale avoidance.

Indeed, at the moment, even sticking my head out the back door only an arm’s length away, has slumped into Mission Impossible. Not that I’m depressed, anxious or phobic in anyway. For some reason, I just don’t quite seem able to make it. That is, despite holding Carpe Diem – Seize the day as my personal mantra.

Unfortunately, the reality is often anything but. Indeed, it’s more along the lines of… “Let go of the day. Let it flow away like spilled milk without even raising an eyebrow. There’s an endless supply of sand flowing through the hour glass. Better luck tomorrow. Or, maybe even next week. Or, even the week after that. Don’t rush.”

Sea Squabble

So, I am proud of myself for not only indulging in Fish & Chips from the self-professed “best fish & chips in NSW” (well, there must’ve been some award), but also taking myself for a walk. Getting EXERCISE!!! Indeed, along with all my other doings, I actually managed to clock up a respectable 3,629 steps or 2.4km. Way better than Monday’s 132 steps (must’ve left the phone at home) Or, today’s unimpressive 70 (Yes, I know it’s almost 1.30pm, but I’m still trying to get the motor started).

 

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Looking across to the Fisherman’s Co-op where we used to buy leather jackets when I was a kid.

Anyway, let’s just ignore the bigger picture for a tad, and just focus on yesterday. For anyone who even vaguely knows me, you won’t be surprised that I had my camera with me.  That, also explains why I walked the extra mile. You see, when I’m looking through the lens, I have no idea how far I’ve walked, where I am or even if I’m currently in grave danger. All I see is the shot. Indeed, even if it isn’t a biggy, I’m still seeing and thinking in 6 x 4 and the rest of the world does not exist.

Terrigal beach pano

Terrigal Beach, looking North.

Terrigal was first settled by Europeans in 1826. John Gray, who was the first European settler to the area, called his property Tarrygal, after the indigenous Aboriginal place name, signifying ‘place of little birds’.

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Terrigal Beach in the 1970s looking South towards the Skillion.

As a child, our family used to rent a place in Terrigal or nearby Wamberal during the Christmas Summer holidays, when it was a much humbler version of the tourist resort you see today. Indeed, in so many ways, I wish they’d left it alone but there are always those determined to convert a place with such natural beauty into a monument to man.

As I said, I’m pleased that I managed to take this time out to bask in our local environment and although I’m feeling rather inert today, I am feeling the need to get the motor fired up again. The sun is shining. The dogs would be begging for a walk if they weren’t so busy sunning themselves while I’m tapping away indoors like a moron. What’s wrong with me? Why aren’t I out there? Especially, when I am so adept at avoiding the To-Do List which, at least in theory, is what’s keeping me here? Indeed, I am so close to being outside, that I could almost fall out of my chair into the sunshine.

Zac in the sun

Zack’s no idiot. He’s not inside on a sunny day. He’s out on his Pooh Bear blanket sunny side up.

Well, to be fair, I have actually been making calls and waiting for replies while I’ve been tapping away here. As most of you will agree, getting even the most simplest thing done, takes multiple steps each with its inevitable snags. Indeed, I’m perfectly justified  for feeling psychologically and physically stonkered (to use one of my Dad’s pet words).

Anyway, before the day completely goes up in smoke, it’s time I disappeared outside and found the sun.

Have you done something similar lately and made the most of where you live?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Recipe: Aussie Pumpkin Soup.

It’s Winter here in Sydney and warm Pumpkin Soup is almost as Australian as Vegemite, Pavlova and Hugh Jackman. According to Australian Masterchef host, Matt Preston, Pumpkin is the most common type of soup Googled online. Preston has also found that our love affair with Pumpkin Soup, is uniquely Australian:

“As a nation we are rather unique in our love of pumpkin soup. The French cook it but it doesn’t feature as prominently in their kitchens as a bouillabaisse or a bisque. Americans do it too, but the soup is a poor cousin to the far more popular pumpkin pie. And the Korean hobakjuk is as much pumpkin porridge as soup.”

Before we proceed to the recipe, I have found it necessary to clarify what I’m actually calling “pumpkin”. Apparently, pumpkin by any other name does taste the same, but I’ve also found out that what is referred to as “pumpkin” in different parts of the world, isn’t what we Australians know as “pumpkin”.

Indeed, the butternut pumpkin I’ve used, is known as “squash” or “butternut squash” in other parts of the world.

However, to be sure to be sure to be sure, if whatever you call it comes in a tin, forget it. It’s not going to kill you to make this from scratch and some supermarkets do sell pumpkin pre-peeled and sliced so you can cheat without spoiling the soup.

This recipe is based on on a recipe by Margaret Fulton, who helped launch my cooking journey as a child. In 1968, she launched her first cookbook: Margaret Fulton’s Cookbook,  and it revolutionized Australian cooking. Along with the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook, these were cooking Bibles in Australian homes and still are in many today.

Pumpkin soup after school

Our whole family loves this Pumpkin Soup and it literally evaporated off the plates . Indeed, it’s spoon licking good!

Pumpkin Soup

Thanks to the butternut pumpkin/squash, this soup has a deliciously sweet flavour and creamy smooth texture. Yum!

Ingredients

90g butter

4.5 cups butternut pumpkin/squash…peeled and diced

A sprinkling of salt.

½ chopped onion (one smallish onion)

2 cups water

3 tablespoons plain flour

1 cup milk

1 egg yolk

Optional Serving Ingredients:

Sour cream

Chives

Bread.

Cracked pepper

Directions

  • In a large, heavy frying pan, melt half of the butter (45g) on high heat.
  • Add diced pumpkin and onion, turning constantly.
  • Fry for about 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin has started to caramelise.
  • Add water.
  • Reduce to medium heat and simmer until pumpkin is very tender and falling apart.
  • Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. This produces a finer texture.
  • You need to puree this pumpkin mix. I usually do it in the blender, but this is quite messy and my ancient blender struggles a bit. A friend recommended using a stick blender, which would cut out a lot of mess and encourage me to make it more often. However you blend it, the texture needs to be very fine and creamy.
  • Melt butter in frying pan. If you have pureed the pumpkin mix in the frying pan, you will need to do this a separate, small frying pan.
  • Add flour to the melted butter and stir together.
  • Add a small amount of pumpkin soup to flour and melted butter and mix well, gradually adding the rest. Stir rigorously to prevent lumps from forming. Blend again if lumps develop.
  • Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  • Just before serving, combine egg yolk with a little of the pumpkin soup and then mix that in with the rest of the soup.
  • Serves four.
Floured Lady

The dogs are my ever-faithful companions whenever I cook. Sometimes, however, they can get caught in the cross-flour. 

Serving Recommendations

Pumpkin Soup is usually served with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. I usually chop the chives with a pair of scissors over the top of the soup.

Bread is a natural accompaniment to Pumpkin Soup. It is often served with a crusty bread roll and butter. However, yesterday I diced up a day old baguette, and fried the pieces in a mix of melted butter and olive oil in the frying pan. These were scrumptiously delicious, even if they were a little naughty. Watch the bread closely as it can burn easily.

A word of encouragement. In my experience, it is hard to get this wrong.

That is, as long as you don’t heed the cardinal rule of cooking. Never turn your back on a hot stove.

Bon Appetit!

xx Rowena

5th June, 2017.

Weekend Coffee Share 4th June, 2017.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week, I’m offering you something a little different…pumpkin soup. Perhaps, this might’ve been healthy once upon a time. However, I’ve ramped it up tonight  with a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkling of home-made croutons. I don’t know what it is about this recipe. However, it’s the best pumpkin soup I’ve ever had. I always make it using butternut pumpkin, but it seems to have a special something. Could it be love?

Hope you like the photo I snuck in of the kids eating their Pumpkin Soup! It’s only a few years out of date, but they looked so cute!

Now, that you’d been fed, let  me ask you how your week was?

One of these days, I’ll have to add a rating scale.

Today, is my Mum’s birthday and my Dad’s birthday is later in the week. Usually, we’d go down to their place in Sydney, but we’re so busy. Our daughter has dancing on Saturday mornings and our son has rehearsals for the Scout Gang Show. I’m hoping we might be able to get together yet.

The past few weeks have been fairly stressful. I don’t know if  is the sort of stress you experience when you’re stretching and growing. After all, growth is by nature uncomfortable. So much is going well, and yet my awareness of all these things I’m struggling to change, has also increased. So, while I’m now tap-dancing and doing yoga, I’m still wading through stuff trying to clear up the house. I won’t use that dreaded word “declutter”, because I don’t believe in it. Indeed, after spending hours working on my daughter’s room, I arrived home with a crate of books from the op shop. These weren’t any ordinary books either. They included a four volume set of Home Mechanics Books from around 1910. They were more about repairing things around the home  such as your Grandfather clock and were absolutely fascinating. However, I am trying to follow what I’ll call a “trading policy”. That for everything that comes in, something has to go out. It works well for me in theory. However, like so many things, not so well in practice.

Jeffrey Smart Car Park in Bologna

Jeffrey Smart, Parking Lot Near  Bologna 1992.

This weekend, the whole issue of my teenage son’s school assignments reared its ugly head again. He’s been unwell on and off and the night before his assignment was due, our wifi went down. I don’t need to tell you that was a catastrophe of epic proportions. Anyway, not unsurprisingly, yours truly found herself researching Australian artist, Jeffery Smart, and his painting: “Parking Lot Near  Bologna”. Not to do his assignment for him, but to be able to help.

To be perfectly honest, this painting did nothing for me. Yet, I had to find something. Understand, at the very least, why it was considered worthy of an assignment. I personally prefer more of an expressionistic style with thick, lashings of paint, whereas this almost has a flat, photo finish. No, not my style, but I could see why the trucks might appeal to my son. That said, he’d probably prefer a Ferrari!

The last part of the assignment involved writing a 100 word story about the painting. It finally clicked that this was just like the flash fiction challenges I do. So, we talked through various plot ideas and possible names for the two men (Luigi for the Italian and Sergei for the Croatian) and then moved onto people smuggling. I wanted to teach him the thinking that goes into writing something like this, particularly the structure involved. Having that twist or punchline at the end. So, I wrote an example for him.  Here’s the link. It was very difficult to write, being set in Italy. However, as usual, Google came to the rescue.

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Hugh McKay

In  between the assignment and playing Scrabble with the lad, I also read read a fantastic novel, Selling the Dream by Hugh McKay. Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and the author of 17 books, mainly in the field of social analysis. Selling the Dream is his seventh novel. I am in the throws of writing a review. However, if you enjoyed reading Graeme Simsion’s: The Rosie Project, you’ll love it. It’s hilarious and despite being classed as satire, it’s incredibly real. Sorry, I forgot to tell you that it’s set in a Sydney advertising agency and has a serious swipe at the industry and it’s “heroes”.

I really loved reading this book and am really going to try to read books more often.

However, I’m sure you know how it in. Before you know it, the day just disappears.

As has the weekend. So, I’d better get this posted quickly.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share.

xx Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 25th June, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

If you’re joining me for coffee today, you’d better forget having anything iced or frozen today and instead warm your frozen fingers around a coffee or join me in a mug of Hot Chocolate. I like my hot chocolate with whipped cream, a sprinkling of cocoa and marshmallows to dunk. Indulgent I know but I don’t have one very often so they’re quite a treat. I had my first one of these back in Koln or Cologne back in 1992. Another time…another place but still delicious!

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My daughter playing her violin.

By the way, I had the Hot Chocolate featured here on Tuesday My daughter was performing with the school choir and the string group at a lunchtime concert and as her school is a good 45 minutes drive from home, I just had to go out for lunch, a Hot chocolate and follow it up with tastings at the neihbouring cheese and chocolate factories. As much as Mum’s Taxi might cry “abuse” and “exploitation”, there are also benefits. By the way, after indulging on pork pie swimming in gravy with hot crunchy chips, my Hot Chocolate, cheeses and chocolate, I topped my splurge by visiting a huge charity shop “The Vinnies Warehouse” where I picked up a fabulous red Oroton handbag and knee-length black boots for a steal. The boots are a little tight but for $25.00, I’ll make them fit.

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Ever considered going swimming in gravy?

I needed a huge pick-me-up this week. Awful things have been happening to good people I know and then I can extend those sentiments out to Beautiful British MP Jo Cox who was brutally shot and stabbed in the UK. She was a wife, a mum of two, a daughter, a sister.

However, it was matters closer to home that really rattled me. A family friend’s daughter lost her husband suddenly fa heart attack. He was only 45 and they had a 12 year old son…the same age as ours. As much as we’ve lived with my volatile health for the last 10 years, I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your husband and Dad suddenly like that.  Steve Gee was a much loved and respected Sports Journalist and my heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and friends. Speaking of which, I need to write a card and think of what to say, which I’m finding challenging. Perhaps, “thinking of you” is enough but when we’ve come so close to experiencing a similar loss, I expect more from myself. What have I picked up from along the road? Hence, I have written nothing…other thasn sharing his memory with you.

This week, also saw our local Paralympic Gold Medallist, Liesl Tesch attacked and robbed at gun point while training for the Paralympics in Rio. I’ve met Liesl a few times and I actually wore her gold medal down the main street of Gosford during the International Women’s Day March a few years ago, when she was our Keynote Speaker and I was on the Status of Women Committee. I also met Liesl again when she spoke to members of the kids scout troop. They’re Sea Scouts and Liesl and her husband contribute behind the scenes. What helped me at the time, was seeing how she juggled her mobility so she used a wheelchair to conserve energy but rode her bike to and from work. This made me realise that using equipment didn’t make me it’s slave and I could use it to extend myself, rather than narrowing my options. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that at the time and since then, my health has improved significantly and I’m getting around quite well almost all of the time.

So, to hear about what happened to Liesl and  a team official, really rattled me and I did manage to get a card off to her.

I understand that bad things happen to good people and that our lives need a balance of flavours like a good dish…a bit of saltiness, sweetness, acidity, creativity, following the recipe and not just having everything sweet and sugar-coated all the time. I understand that in many instances, adversity is good for us and makes us stronger, more resourceful, compassionate and loving but at the same time adversity breaks, leaves our heroes fighting debilitating PTSD and loving people somehow consumed with hate. It’s not a predictable equation where you can put adversity in and know the person’s going to emerge like a beautifully wrapped package with a bow on top when it reaches the end of the production line.

scales Good-vs-Evil-Scales

While I haven’t been so bold as to go up to God and ask him what on earth he’s doing, I have been wondering whether he might have pressed a few of the wrong buttons. We all know someone mean, nasty and despicable who lives a comfortable life well into old age and karma never catches up with them. Case in point being Jack the Ripper. I guess the argument goes that they’ll be judged by their maker but even so, am I the only one who wants to see justice on earth and not only for eternity? I don’t think so.

So, you can see I’m a bit fired up this week but it’s doing me good venting my thoughts here and I know many of you have experienced tragedy and heartbreak and know these feelings much better than I.

Speaking of stress, last night we heard that Britain is Brexiting the EU. I don’t know what all this means and I guess it remains to be seen. I’m Australian and going back, there was some tension about what Britain was doing joining the EU and what that meant for the Commonwealth. I guess those questions will resurface to some degree. Our current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is an outspoken Republican and we have a Federal election on July 2. There have to be some local ramifications and I don’t know what Brexit means for Australian exports to Europe. It seems the stock market isn’t happy at the moment but hopefully it will bounce back. That obviously has global ramifications.

Anyway, I wrote a post about Brexit last night: The Brexit: Britains Favourite Biscuit. It’s not intended to be a funny piece and falls more into the realms of satire.

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Roald Dahl at work in his Hut.

After dealing with the heaviness of the last week,I’ll move onto what I’ve been reading and ask if any of you are huge Roald Dahl fans? You might recall that for the A-Z Challenge I wrote a letter to Roald Dahl as part of my series of Letters to Dead Poets. This has triggered a Dahlfest in my own bookshelf and I’m currently making my way through his biography while reading through his children’s books. I have already read Matilda, James & The Giant Peach and this week I finished off Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I’m now reading Charlie and The Great Glass Elevator. I’m pretty sure that I read both Charlie books as a child but my memories are very dim. I certainly loved the movie starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, although there are some obvious discrepancies with the book. Who hasn’t wanted to find their own golden ticket and tour Wonka’s factory and own it at the end?!!

So, travelling along a chocolate river in my dreams has paralleled those more intense questions this week and we’re having a quiet weekend with the kids off at Gang Show rehearsal for Scouts. Performance are only a few weeks away. This means that I’m still rugged up in my winter PJs and dressing gown and I have no intention of going anywhere today. At a chilling 12.9 °C, it’s almost too cold to breathe! (Okay! You can start playing your violins for me now!)

So, how has your week been? I hope it’s been good and look forward to catching up!

Thanks for popping by! This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click  for the Linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

Making “Curleys”…The Cornish Pasty.

You’ve got to wonder whether we procrastinating writers with our elaborate pieces outlining our “gunna do’s”, ever get anything DONE!

Well, occasionally we actually do get to ring the brass bell and shout: “I did it!” Better still, this time I can also cheer “and it worked!”

That is, as long as you don’t mind dinner at 10.00 PM!

finish time

Better late than never!

If you’re going to make Cornish Pasties, you probably need to start making the dough about 5 hours before serving, as the dough needs to rest in the fridge for 3 hours and they take almost an hour to bake in the oven because the filling is raw and needs to cook.

 

After reading my preamble in my previous post, you’d know that I was making the Cornish Pasties for my husband. He grew up in Scottsdale in NE Tasmania where they were “curleys” at the school canteen, contrasting to the standard meat pies. He moved to the mainland in his 20s as “an economic refugee” and has never found Cornish Pasties anywhere near as good as Poole’s.

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So, wanting to treat my husband, I set out in my usual intrepid manner barging in where angels fear to tread, to recreate a Poole’s Cornish Pasty, even though I only tried one once 10 years ago.

Well, the verdict was “pretty good”. My Cornish Pasty has a crunchy pastry, where the Poole’s Curley was soft. The filing was spot on, although he recommended a bit more pepper. I was wary of overdoing the pepper and being a raw meat mix, I wasn’t able to taste it.

inside pasty

A look inside our “Curley” Aussie Cornish Pasty.

Moreover, chatting to a friend this morning while dropping our daughters off at the station at the ungodly hour of 7.45AM, she also recommended a dob of butter and a sprinkling of flour to get a gravy. That would be a great addition because I couldn’t find skirt steak and it seems rump steak wasn’t quite as juicy. Our pasties weren’t dry but a bit of gravy would take it up a notch.

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My Daughter enjoys rolling out the pastry.

While the kids went to bed before the pasties were ready, my daughter helped put them together and of course, loved rolled out the pastry and assembling the pasties. While she was doing this, she kept asking me about the “corn” and said something about “Ah! The corn goes on the plate”. Finally, the penny dropped. She thought Cornish Pasties had corn in them. Yay! Another opportunity for geography and history lessons although the map had to wait for tonight. Our daughter is a master of extending and extending bedtime and my husband appeared and she was off.

Somehow, we ended up with only four pasties from our recommended six from the pastry and enough filling left over to make another 4 I reckon. So, at 2.45PM, I’m quickly heading off to make my pastry and get it into the fridge to rest.

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My Assistant Pastry Cook.

As they endlessly repeat in the Masterchef Kitchen, “Time is not your friend”.

I will be back with my revised recipe.

xx Rowena

 

 

The Ultimate Lunchbox Cheese, Veg & Bacon Muffin

As if what to cook for dinner isn’t stressful enough, preparing the kids school lunches is the ultimate headache, especially if their school lunches keep coming home untouched and the dog needs to go on a diet.
While there is much discussion about childhood obesity, my kids are lean and my daughter actually is on a weight-gain regime. This means our kids need the full fat, the cheese and can have a bit of bacon without concern. Our problem is that they don’t eat, NOT that they over-indulge.
The other thing I’m now appreciating about our kids is that they’re not simply fussy but discerning. They both have fairly refined palates and can comment about particular tastes and textures, which is pretty impressive for their age. That said, I’ve worked in market research and so they’ve never got away with “yuck” or “nice”. They’ve always had to explain or walk me through why they’ve liked or disliked my cooking.
Lately, we’ve also been watching Masterchef where we’ve all been watching the contestants prepare their meals and then heard the judges reviews. Back on the home front, I have been elevated to Masterchef (or cook) and Geoff and the kids have become the judges. Unfortunately for the dogs, they were cast as “home viewers”, hungrily watching the action and praying for a few crumbs. Sorry!
So after all this Mastercheffing of sorts at home, it is hardly surprising that the humble sandwich isn’t good enough. They want more.
I made these on the run before school this morning as we’d run out of bread, wraps and the kids lunches had started coming home again. Of course, there were no guarantees they were going to eat these but they do love cheese and bacon rolls and I thought they’d probably enjoy this “healthed-up” alternative.

My first observation was that these went quickly and my son, fussy eater numero uno, devoured two straight out of the oven before he went to school. This is a glowing endorsement, as he is even very particular about the chocolate he eats. He did comment about the “garlic flavour” which was the onions so take it easy with the grated onion. A little bit goes a long way.The cheese was still hot and gooey. I had mine a bit later and again noticed the onion flavour but also the beautiful bacon flavour. The top was also pleasantly crunchy.
Yes, we will definitely be making these again and wanted to share our efforts on the blog.
xx Rowena

A look inside our muffins.

A look inside our muffins.



Cheese Veg & Bacon Muffins

Makes 12

Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients
2 cups self raising flour

3 cups vegetables We used: ½ cup grated carrot
½ cup corn kernels
½ cup grated zucchini
a tablespoon grated onion (go light on the grated onion!)
½ cup finely sliced baby spinach leaves

1 1/3 cups grated tasty cheese.
½ cup milk
3 eggs
60g butter, melted
bacon pieces, optional
12 cubes of tasty cheese
fresh thyme, optional
Directions
1. Preheat oven 180°C (160°C fan forced) and grease a 12-hole (1/3 cup) muffin pan with cooking spray. I lined mine with muffin cases.
2. Take eggs out of the fridge. They fluff up better when beaten at room temperature.
3. If you are adding bacon bits, slice bacon into squares and fry in a large frying pan until crunchy. Put aside and cool. I use bacon with a bit of fat so it crunches up.
4. Sift flour into a large mixing bowl and create a well.
5. Grate carrot, zucchini,onion and add to flour.
6. Finely slice baby spinach leaves. Add to flour.
7. Add grated tasty cheese and fresh thyme to flour mix. Blend well.
8. Melt butter in the microwave on high in a mug for around a minute and leave to cool for 5 minutes.
9. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and eggs together and add cooled melted butter.
10. Pour wet ingredients into the veggie flour mix and stir gently with a large spoon until the ingredients are just incorporated. The flour should be mixed in and the mixture should resemble a batter. So, depending on the wetness of your veggie mix, you might need to add an extra splash of milk as I did.
11. Place a tablespoon of mixture in each muffin hole. Each muffin needs to be around the same size to make sure the muffins bake evenly.
12. Push a cube of tasty cheese into each muffin and spread mix back over the top so the cheese is “buried” inside the muffin. The cheese will melt during cooking and flow through the top, while leaving a scrumptious, cheese interior.
13. Sprinkle crunchy bacon bits over the top if desired. You can also stir some through the mix if desired.
14. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
15. Cool in the tin before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely. That is, if someone doesn’t nab them while they’re hot. Mine vanished very quickly and this time it wasn’t the dog!

This recipe is loosely based on muffin recipes by Julie Goodwin and Curtis Stone infused with a bit of me. Next time, I’m going to try adding some olives and you could easily swap the thyme for fresh basil.

Recycling the School Jam Sandwich

Despite the stories of starving children in Africa and “waste not, want not”, our kids stubbornly refuse to eat their school lunches.After even more full lunchboxes arrived home, this time with sandwiches made using my own homemade strawberry jam which was just  oozing with lusciously plump delectable fruit, I became desperate. I could not… I would not… throw them out.

Somehow, they had to be eaten!

I'm getting sick of the sight of these full lunchboxes arriving home again completely untouched. What is it going to take to get my children to eat?

I’m getting sick of the sight of these full lunchboxes arriving home again completely untouched. What is it going to take to get my children to eat?

You see, I hate waste…particularly food waste.

For awhile there, I dutifully fed their sandwiches to the dog and I swear he could pick a lunchbox from space. Code-named “Garbage Guts”, he simply doesn’t stop eating.

Walking with the dog

Out trying to walk off more than a few kilos worth of school lunches. Bilbo alias Garbage Guts just can’t say “no”.

But there’s waste and then there’s waistline. Unfortunately for the dog, avoiding waste on my part meant he packed on the kilos. After getting slammed by the vet, there were no more sandwiches for the dog.

Yet, I still hated the thought of throwing out perfectly good sandwiches spread with lashings of my home-made strawberry jam so I decided to take up Bob the Builder’s environmental challenge to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and came up with this little invention:

Jam Sandwich Bread & Butter Pudding

Ingredients

6 eggs

4 tablespoons castor sugar

2 teas vanilla essence

1140 ml (2 pints) full cream milk

Cinnamon

125g or ½ cup blueberries or sultanas

4 jam sandwiches, crusts removed

Spreadable butter

Directions

  1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl and heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, using a medium-sized bowl, crack in the eggs. Add sugar and vanilla essence. Beat together lightly with a fork or hand-beaters.
  3. Add the egg mix to warmed milk gradually and stir to combine evenly.
  4. Pour into a shallow, ovenproof dish.
  5. Sprinkle blueberries or sultanas evenly over the surface.
  6. Turn oven onto 180° C and grease a shallow, ovenproof dish.
  7. Now to prepare the sandwiches. Using a bread knife, cut the crusts off the sandwiches. Pull the sandwiches apart. They need to have plenty of jam and I prefer my homemade version which contains large, juicy pieces of fruit so you might want to add some extra butter and jam.
  8. Crusts
    Crusts
  9. Arrange the pieces of bread over the top of the custard and they’ll float across the top like boats.
  10. Add a few bits of butter on top of the bread if desired.
  11. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  12. Carefully place the dish inside a baking tin with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. This is called a water bath. See note below.
  13. Bake in a moderate oven at 180° C (160° C fan-forced) for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderately slow oven to around 160° C (140° C fan-forced) and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until set. My oven timer broke sometime ago so cooking times are an approximate science for me.
  14. Serves 8.
The pudding baking in the oven.

The pudding baking in the oven.

Obviously, while this approach worked well with jam sandwiches and could be adapted to include the honey sandwich, obviously it really isn’t an option for your leftover Vegemite or peanut butter sandwiches. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way. It looks like I’ve just set myself my next food challenge.

Enjoy!

Xx Rowena

Note: Why do you bake custard in a water bath?

Baking your custard pudding in a water bath is your best insurance against curdled custard. You see, although you set the oven temperature to 180° C ,the egg proteins which thicken the custard, set below 212°F.This means that unless these egg proteins are protected from the high heat of the oven, they’ll overcook and tighten or shrink, causing your custard to crack or separate into curdled egg and liquid. A water bath insulates custards from the direct heat of the oven because the water can’t exceed 212°F, unlike the air in a 350°F oven. Without a water bath, the outside of your dessert would also overcook before the centre is done. Moreover, in a water bath, you have more time to bake your custard to the perfect degree of doneness.