Often times I find myself wondering if I am making the best food choices for my family. What are the words from Desiderata? "If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself". And, then I remember how far we have come in a few short years and have to give myself a little grace to make some mistakes. I came from a non-cook home, and I only started cooking (as opposed to baking) at all when I left home. Although I think my interpretation of 'cooked from scratch' was very different then than now - if it hadn't come premade out of bottle or packet I considered it cooked from scratch LOL. There is so much more I actually make from scratch than I did when Ginger was born 3.5 years ago.
Bearing in mind it is Summer here, the following photos were all taken since mid-December....
|From left: homemade yoghurt, granola, cakes (for church morning tea) and homegrown tomatoes|
|Shelling broadbeans from the markets|
|Rhubarb and apple pie|
|Ol' Vegemite Face|
|Fresh bread and my daughter's current 'pose for the camera' face|
|Can't leave out the dolls|
|Stoning wild plums - a rather thankless task|
|Just back from the Orchard and ready to preserve - we live near the stonefruit growing area|
|Weekend tradition - pancakes|
|Stewed nectarines - we found these growing wild on the side of the road.|
So, what do I see as working in our kitchen?
After many mis-adventures I have finally got a method for yoghurt that gives regular good results - I use the crockpot method - heat on low for 2 hours, cool for 3 hours, stir in half of a cup yoghurt then wrap in a towel and leave overnight. So much less fiddly and more reliable than my old stove top method! And, apart from buying yoghurt to use as the culture we haven't bought yoghurt in 2 years.
ROAST CHICKEN AND STOCK
Growing up roast chicken in our household meant someone had been to the chicken and chip shop and picked one up! When I was 12 we went to the UK and stayed with a retired policeman and his wife for a couple of days. She made the most amazing spread one afternoon including a home roasted chicken - her secret was coating the chicken in butter. I was resolved that I would roast my own chickens once I left home. And, this is now a fairly consistent meal on our menu plan because it yields.....
Chicken stock - I am not very good at making this immediately after our meal. Usually I strip the meat off the carcass for another meal and then put the carcass in the freezer Then on the day I have an identified need for chicken stock I pop it into the pot with fresh water, an onion, couple of chopped carrots and some celery. Boil for an hour or so, then strain through a colander.
Home made granola now forms part of our summer breakfasts. The first homemade Granola I made, I realise in retrospect was still laden with sugar. We eat a much healthier version now. I got this off a forum somewhere in the depths of the internet but have tweaked a bit over time. I double the batch now we have a huge oven, so I need only make this every couple of weeks.
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup wheat germ or LSA
3/4 cup nuts
1/2 cup raw sunflowers or pepitas
1/2 cup sesame seeds
Combine in a large bowl.
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together and pour over oat mixture. Stir well. Spread in a thin layer on baking sheets. Bake at 160 deg C for 10 minutes. Stir and bake another 5 minutes. Stir again and bake 3-5 minutes.
I always seem to be making bread. I am working on remembering to actually start this before 8:30 in the morning or I don't have bread ready at lunch. In those circumstances, we generally have 'cheesy pizza' - our usual bread mix rolled out and topped with tomato and mozzarella (saves the time of the second rise) or Gozleme; the children eat the latter sans spinach. Ginger calls Gozleme "God's Lemon"!
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp dried yeast
2 tbs olive oil.
I use the bread maker and just threw in the ingredients and let it do the work. It need only rise for 20 minutes once combined. Once ready, divide into 4 and roll out. Place some silverbeet or spinach (fresh or steamed) over half the dough and then scatter with fetta and fold over. Cook on a greased cast iron frying pan over low-medium heat, about 2 minutes each side. Serve with lemon wedges.
Soup uses up the abundance of the garden or market. At the moment I have 8 meals worth of zucchini soup stashed in the freezers because our plants are giving us so much. Last night's meal was a defrosted zucchini soup with fresh bread.
Air-popped popcorn - does this need a description? The kids eat it by the bowl full.
Our sweet treats these days are generally made from scratch. My brother-in-law gave us a microwave recipe for custard. Boy is that good! While a homemade cake is better than a cafe offering, these days I am thinking we need to make some healthier sweets. I have borrowed Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau from the library and want to try out some of her recipes.