cooking

Making jam

It's been over a year since my last post.  I miss blogging. I miss that it made me focus on my photography skills.

Jam jars 2

The light was rather pretty shining down on these freshly sterilised jam jars drying on the Aga. So while I was simmering my cumquats for marmalade, I took a few snaps.

In the last year we have bought a little farm in Red Hill on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.  The farm has a rather fabulous kitchen garden, with quite a lot of varied citrus trees.  I have been making jams and marmalades like a woman possessed. So far this week I've made strawberry jam, two batches of cumquat marmalade, and lemon marmalade.  There has also been cumquat ice-cream in the mix.  Now that's something fabulous I recommend everyone should try.

Jam jars 1

I love these Weck preserving jars.  The top shelf of my pantry is now stashing a lovely collection of jams in jars.

Cumquat marmalade

I'm still working on identifying the perfect setting point for the jam.  This cumquat marmalade is too runny, which, on the bright side, makes it perfect for stirring into ice-cream for the afore-mentioned cumquat ice-cream.

But my main reason for popping in here is to share with you the jam labels I created.

Jam labels

These are just a sample of three of them.  There are 11 - five types of marmalade, and 6 different fruit jams from fig to strawberry. They are designed to print onto these labels. But if you didn't want to purchase this specific size, you can get a box of label sheets and cut to whatever size you like. You can download the labels by clicking the button below, or find them in my left sidebar.

Jam label free download


Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've just whipped up a batch of Danielle Walker's amazing "Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies".

Grain Free Choc Chip cookies

If you're going paleo, Danielle is the woman you need to get to know.

I'm about to jump in the car to pick up Henri and 5 of his friends from football training. They're coming back here for a spa and pizza.  These cookies will tide them over until the pizzas are ready. It's a busy Friday night in our house.


Decadent yet healthy

I've forgotten how much I enjoy to get out my camera and play with different lenses.  I've also practically forgotten how to use my camera.  My skills are very rusty.  That's what you get when you don't blog regularly.

Lately I have been making an attempt to eat a more healthy diet.  With the stress of organising our renovation all year I had lapsed into eating far too much chocolate, drinking far too much tea and perhaps snacking on potato chips too close to bedtime.  Not the end of the world but my body was objecting.

Healthy choc bar 1

Last night I made these from a recipe found here on my healthy recipes Pinterest pinboard.  These are seriously rich and definitely satisfy any chocolate cravings. But they are organic and don't use any refined sugars - only dates and one tablespoon of maple syrup.

I love the way all these home made paleo and granola bars are wrapped in baking paper and tied with kitchen string.  I didn't have the kitchen string but found some waxed twine that was used on my Townmouse swing tags.  I rather like the chocolate brown colour with all the chocolate.

Healthy choc bar 2

The recipe called for cocoa powder but I used raw cacao powder.  I'm not sure what the difference is to be honest, but I think it made my recipe extra rich.  Nobody is complaining though.


Nana's shortbread

Every Christmas, and on many other occasions, my Nana used to make the most delicious shortbread.  

Alas, in a house that is dairy free, wheat free and sugar free this treat doesn't get a look-in these days.  But when a very stylish friend of mine presented me with this divine cookie stamp, I just had to dust off my Nana's recipe.

Shortbread stamp

I don't even have basic wheat flour in our house anymore, so this batch was made with spelt flour.  It gave them a coarser texture but they still held together well.

Shortbread rolled

They were sort of a wholemeal version.

Shortbread cut

This recipe was given to me in imperial measurements, so the conversion to metric is a little specific.

10 oz (284 g) plain flour
3 oz (85 g) rice flour
3 oz caster sugar, or 4 to taste (85 - 113 g)
8 oz (227 g) butter 
dash vanilla essence

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the vanilla essence.  Sift in the plain flour and rie flour.  Knead into a ball.  Roll out and cut into shapes. Place onto a greased baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven at 180C for 10 - 12 minutes.

Shortbread baked

This batch ended up being packaged for the school cake stall.

Shortbread packaged

Now what are my chances of finding a gluten and dairy free cookie recipe so I can use this lovely stamp again?  Any recipe recommendations gratefully received.


Too easy

In a household that avoids wheat, dairy and sugar, desserts can get a little monotonous. Really there are only so many variations of fruit that will keep little ones happy - fruit salad, stewed fruit.... Yawn.

Jelly fruit

So right now these are impressing my four.  And I'm impressed more than anyone because they take about 4 minutes to prepare.  I use these fabulous fruit juices from Preshafruit. This one is the apple and raspberry flavour and its a lovely pink colour that Adelaide approves of.  I've just added two gelatine leaves to one small bottle of juice and poured them into these shot glasses. Done.

Last night's jellies had fresh raspberries floating in them. Such an easy thing to make.  I'd also love to make jellies with those italian pear and apricot nectars.  Mmm, I might have to make a trip to Leo's.


Gluten free, dairy free Sunday baking

In a family where 4 of the 6 of us have various food intolerances I'm always looking for healthy treats that I can put into the children's school lunches that don't leave them with sore tummies or grumpy dispositions.

Pine nut cookies

These pine nut cookies hit the double jackpot as they are both gluten and dairy free.

The children (including a few 'ring-ins' from down the street) have given them the thumbs up.  Here is the recipe:

200 g flaked almonds 
100 g pine nuts
100 g rice flour
225 g caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 medium egg whites at room temp
pinch of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 celsius.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Place the almonds and pine nuts on the lined tray (separately), and brown them well in the oven for 8-10 minutes.  The almonds will brown slightly quicker.  Once browned, remove from the oven and cool.  Reduce the oven temp to 160 celsius.

Once cooled, place the almonds and rice flour in a food processor and blitz until you have a fine mix. Place into a medium mixing bowl, add the pine nuts, 115 g of the sugar and the lemon zest, and mix well.

Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until light and foamy, then add the remianing caster sugar and whisk until creamy and glossy, but do not overbeat.  Mix the nut mixture into the egg whites, along with the vanilla essence.

Mould the mixture into small mounds, patting each one down slightly.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until they turn light golden, keeeping an eye on them as they brown quickly.  Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sprinkle with icing sugar. Makes about 25.


Green Smoothies

Since returning from Gwinganna in mid September I've changed my diet quite significantly.  This is partly necessity, and partly because I felt so healthy I wanted to keep feeling that way.

Necessity because I was told that my liver is/was quite fatigued.  Worn out trying to process the foods I'm intolerant to; like dairy, and sugar-rich foods.  (And I don't even drink - how sad is that?)

As well as switching to an organic diet I've cut out gluten entirely.  By removing bread from my daily ritual of breakfast it also removes other bad stuff like butter, vegemite, and jam - all things my body gets angry about.  But probably the best thing I've discovered is this:

Green smoothie

Green smoothies seem to be part of my personal zeitgeist at the moment.  They keep coming across my path from unexpected sources.  Gwyneth's talking about them, a friend of mine who doesn't have a particularly healthy lifestyle talked about The Raw Food Family.  And the subject has been popping up on various blogs that aren't always health related.  

In answer to your question Jane, here's a raw treat I can recommend.  I have this for lunch most days.

Blend (don't juice) 3 kale leaves with an orange, some ginger, a kiwifruit, fresh pineapple and a cup of water. This kale smoothie tastes like a fruit drink, but has the goodness and fiber of the kale.  

These must be good for weight loss too.  On the days I have a green smoothie, I'm always lighter on the scales the next morning, even though what I've eaten the rest of the day varies.  It's filling and you don't feel hungry for hours afterwards.

Corrie, you might like to give this a whirl in your Thermomix. It might be the more healthy, wholesome answer you've been seeking.  You can even get a Green Smoothie app for your iPhone.


Snow eggs

After making a bearnaise sauce last night I was left with several egg whites.  I decided to make meringues, which we will have tonight with strawberries from the strawberry farm near Flinders and fresh whipped cream.

Meringues before

The meringues look so beautifully glossy before they are baked.  And with this very detailed recipe it's hard to go wrong.

Meringues after

Here they are out of the oven, having taken on a slightly bronzed hue.

These are a hit with my children, and fun to make.  I know meringue in some shape or form will be on our New Year' Eve menu, along with another batch of bearnaise sauce to go with the main course.


Just what I feel like

I have been baking Madeleines a lot lately.  They take 5 minutes to whip up, and 10 minutes in the oven, which makes them the perfect last minute treat if people drop by.  My boys love them in their school lunch too.

Madeleines

I have 9 year old Max home with the flu, so the background to my day is "Man vs. Wild", "Mythbusters", "Megastructures", "James Bond" and "Destroyed in 60 Seconds".   It's better than back to back Teletubbies I guess.

Madeleines 

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 35 g self raising flour
  • 35 g plain flour
  • 75 g butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon hot water

 

  • Heat oven to 200 celsius.  Beat eggs, sugar and extract with electric mixer until thick and creamy.  Sift flours twice.  Sift flours over egg mixture; pour combined butter and water down side of bowl then fold ingredients together.
  • Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture into Madeleine pan holes.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Tap hot pan firmly on bench to release madeleines, then turn onto wire rack and dust with icing sugar.  Eat 5 in a row.

 


Dangerously good

What I love about breastfeeding is that you can indulge in food like this and it goes to someone else's hips!

Just baked brownie

Corrie has posted her brownie recipe twice on her blog.  If it was worth mentioning twice I had to try it for myself.

Brownie

This gets my vote for best brownie ever (if you can say that about your own cooking).  I don't think the 2.5kg bag of Lindt Bittersweet cooking chocolate I bought today will last long.