Monday, 20 June 2016

Returning Home

Tonight, as I look towards the horizon from our back deck, the orange and silvery lights of our city's airport twinkle in the dark. My eyes follow the distant blinking lights of the planes as they take off or come in to land. Tomorrow night, I'll be a passenger on one of those departing planes and I'll be winging my way home.

Home. To my mother's front door. To the place where I grew up. To lush, green rolling hills. To tall gum tree scrub. To icy-cold waterfalls, crater lakes and deep waterholes. To fresh, country air. To bonfires. To a night sky not dimmed by thousands of city lights but illuminated by a vast and shining splattering of stars.

We'll travel together and I can't wait to show my now older boy these places. To whisper: This is where I grew up. These are my memories. Share them with me. Make your own.

I'll be away from this space for a little while as we holiday up "home" and I'll post again when I get back here home. Until then, I hope you enjoy your days in your home, wherever that may be.


Friday, 17 June 2016

Simple Quinoa Biscuits

Feel like a wholesome and delicious treat for morning tea? These simple biscuits, made with quinoa flakes instead of rolled oats, are golden and gluten-free rounds of goodness. 

Mmmm ... 

The recipe, developed by Emma Galloway of the hugely popular blog, My Darling Lemon Thyme, results in a biscuit that is not quite an ANZAC biscuit, in the Australian tradition of those made with rolled oats, but is still nostalgic, chewy and wholesome. They taste delicious without any of the refined sugars and additives found in many supermarket biscuit brands.  (I did find quinoa flakes at the supermarket however!)

I "tinkered" with Emma's recipe for Quinoa Anzacs very minimally. Instead of 1cup of raw sugar, I used 1/2 cup of coconut sugar. I increased the amount of coconut to 1 cup just to make up  for the loss of the half cup of sugar. I didn't want to adjust the amount of brown rice flour or quinoa flour as I don't often cook with them and wasn't sure what results I might end up with. 

The biscuits that emerged from my oven were golden and sweet. We enjoyed them with a glass of cold milk but you may prefer to sample them with a cup of tea or coffee. A little different but definitely worth baking again!

Enjoy your weekend. Maybe you'll have time to do some baking of your own.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Here & Now 2

Winter is really making its presence felt here now. The sunlight fades sooner and the sky's pink twilight tinge hints at the cold night air that descends before the earlier night.  Heavy, warm blankets are snuggled into and under and hands cup mugs of hot chocolate and tea. It's a time to seek and share warmth!

A visiting honeybee plundering a basil flower.

Warm yellow blooms of Calendula growing in the garden.

A beautiful and practical book for reading in the sun.
(The Simple Home by Rhonda Hetzel.)

Joining in with Sarah over at Say, Little Hen, here is a snapshot of my own Here & Now: 

Loving // Reading leisurely when curled up or stretched out under a warm sun.
Eating // Warm and gooey self-saucing butterscotch pudding with cream!
Drinking // Mineral water while overlooking the ocean after my long walk.
Feeling // Snug and warm under heavy Winter blankets on cold nights.
Making // Anything that features silverbeet because there is so much of it growing in the garden!
Thinking // It would be wrong of me to cut the basil back when the bees are having so much
                       fun in it!
Dreaming // Of this time, next week, when we'll be 2000km away in the place I will always
                        think of as "home".

I hope you have much that warms your heart in your own Here & Now.


Monday, 13 June 2016

Healthy Veggie Lasagna

What can you make for dinner with the last remaining veggies in your crisper? This healthy Vegetable Lasagna is a delicious and healthy way to use them up!

Delicious and healthy Veggie Lasagna.

I have made this lasagna time and time again over the years. It's packed with lots of healthy vegetables and is very easy to make. You just need four cups of chopped veggies, from your crisper and/or your garden, for the beginnings of a wonderfully nourishing meal. 

Based on a recipe in one of my oldest cookbooks, The Good Gut Cookbook by Rosemary Stanton, it is a recipe that is highly adaptable to what you have on hand. It changes each time depending on what I have in the fridge to use up and what's growing in the garden. This is how I made it over the weekend just past:

Healthy Veggie Lasagna

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
glug of olive oil
4 cups chopped vegetables (I used carrot, zucchini, broccoli, kale, silverbeet and capsicum.)
100g -150g leftover mashed pumpkin (Omit if you don't have any.)
handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
200mLs vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste

250g ricotta cheese
1/4 cup milk
instant lasagna sheets
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

1.  Heat olive oil in large pot over a low heat. Gently fry onion and garlic until soft.
2.  Add vegetables to the pot and put lid on. Allow veggies to soften and cook for 10mins. 
      Stir occasionally.
3.  Mix in tomatoes, stock, tomato paste and chopped basil.
4.  Simmer for 15mins with lid off. Remove from heat.
5.  Beat ricotta cheese and milk together until reasonably smooth, adding little more milk if 
      you need to.
6.  Gather veggie sauce, ricotta mix, mashed pumpkin, lasagna sheets and grated parmesan 
      on your kitchen bench.
7.  Preheat your oven to 180C. Line your lasagna dish and prepare to assemble:

All the makings of a nourishing meal.

Make repeating layers of lasagna sheets and veggie sauce until dish is 3/4 full.

Spread mashed pumpkin over the last veggie sauce layer.

Spread ricotta mixture over mashed pumpkin and then sprinkle grated parmesan on top.

Bake for approximately 40minutes until golden.

Cut into generous portions and served with fresh, garlicky bread, it's a vegetarian meal full of flavour and goodness. Perfect for meatless Mondays or for any night of the week. Enjoy!


p.s. If you want to add a ricotta cheese layer to the middle of this lasagna, simply blend 500g of ricotta with 1/2cup of milk and spread half the mixture between a veggie sauce layer and a layer of lasagna sheets. Then spread remaining half of mixture on top.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Beautiful Barks

I am drawn to trees. Tall trees that reach upwards to the clouds, that hold out their branches for nests, whose leaves fall like confetti on windy days, whose roots are deep and strong. I feel a quiet peace when I walk among them and under them and a humility when I crane my neck up to the dizzying heights of trees much older than I am. 

It was on a recent, meandering walk that I found myself focused on the beautiful barks wrapped around the trunks of trees that grow in our neighbourhood. Creamy, green, brown and silvery. Dull and shiny. Rough and smooth. Papery and crinkly and peeling and scratched. 

Let me show you what I found:

So much diversity! So much beauty! 

Have a lovely weekend. I hope you'll have time to spend  looking closely at a tree (or snoozing in the shade of one). Perhaps there'll be time to run your fingers over its bark and to think how you would describe it.


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Little Homemade Sausage Rolls

Homemade, bite-sized sausage rolls are a delicious and warm snack on a cold Winter's day. Hot and fresh from the oven and served up with a little pot of tomato sauce, these disappear very quickly at our place. I was lucky to get a photo before they were all gone!

Homemade sausage rolls

This is how I made these tasty little parcels. My recipe is based on the one for Chicken and Vegetable Rolls from the Women's Weekly cookbook, Fresh Food for Babies and Toddlers.

Little Homemade Sausage Rolls

500g chicken mince
1 clove crushed garlic
1 medium-sized zucchini 
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup stale breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon tamari sauce, salt reduced
3 sheets puff pastry (I use "Butter Puff" ready-rolled pastry.)
extra beaten egg
sesame seeds (*optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 200C. Line two baking trays.

2.  Defrost sheets of puff pastry. 

3.  Finely grate zucchini then wrap in a tea towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Chop
     zucchini finely.

4.  Mix chicken mince, garlic, zucchini, beaten egg, breadcrumbs and sauces in a large 
     bowl until well combined.

5.  Cut pastry sheets in half lengthways so you have 6 lengths of pastry.

6.  Place equal amounts of the chicken filling mixture lengthways along the centre of each            pastry sheet.

7.  Roll each piece of pastry up beginning at a long edge and encasing the chicken filling.

8.  Cut each pastry roll into fairly even bite-sized pieces.

9.  Put each little sausage roll, seam-side down, onto baking trays. Brush a little of the extra 
     beaten egg over each one and sprinkle with sesame seeds (if using).

10. Bake in oven until pastry is flaky and golden brown and filling is cooked.

11. Serve warm with a pot of rich, red tomato sauce for dipping them into. 

If I were you, I'd snaffle a few of these before any of your hungry loved ones know they are ready. It's the only way to get your fair share!


p.s. You could use grated carrot instead of zucchini if you wish.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Rain, rain and more RAIN!

I woke this morning to the sound of heavy rain on our tin roof! What a beautiful noise! It's been raining here, very heavily at times, for hours. The gutters are gushing, the drainpipes are overflowing and our water tanks are filling up. We think we've had around 60-70mm of rain so far! 

Of greater interest to our boy though, is what's happening down at the little creek at the bottom of our street. Umbrella up, and together with his Dad, he set off for the creek to see for himself the impact of all this heavy rain. Typically, this creek has just a trickle of water in it but, on days like today, it becomes a swollen, fast-moving, somewhat bigger torrent.

Here are some photos our boy took:

 A waterfall.

A cascade.

Up and over the little bridge.

Rushing away downstream.

Localised flooding.

Bark flowing away like lava at the urging of the water.

Needless to say, both my intrepid, rainy-day adventurers returned home from the creek a lot less dry than when they set out! In the ensuing excitement of sharing the photos and videos he took, my boy and I talked about the incredible power of water that he had just witnessed for himself on a small, localised scale. It's quite something to see all the bark from your little local playground being washed out and away at the behest of fast-flowing waters. "It was like lava, Mum!" 

I hope, if you live in our area of South-East Queensland, that you are dry and safe as the rain pours down today.


Friday, 3 June 2016

Liebster Award: Part 2

Liebster Awards are given to bloggers by bloggers. Fiona, from Life at Arbordale Farm, nominated this blog and now it's my turn to pay it forward.

My nominees for a Liebster Award are:

Lucy from Follow That Child

Julie from Country Living by the Sea

Suzie from Suzie's Simple Life  

Fiona from Stay Home Instead

My ten questions for these fellow bloggers are:

1.   What's your favourite time of the day? Why?

2.   If money were no object, where would you go and why?

3.   What do you like to do on a rainy day?

4.   What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

5.  If a library could stock just one book, what should that book be? Why?

6.  If you were elected Prime Minister or President of your country tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would change?

7.  What's your go-to comfort food?

8.  What is the most memorable meal you've ever cooked? Why was it so memorable?

9.  What is one skill that a parent or grandparent taught you that you are so glad you learned?         

10. What is something you are doing to make more happiness in your own life and in the life of others?

Pondering this set of questions took me almost as long as answering Fiona's great questions. I'm looking forward to reading the answers!