Baked Sausage Coil

Day 10 – Baked Sausage Coil

You can buy boerewors sausages from many butchers, which are beef based and big-flavoured, but if you can’t find them, a chain of fat sausages, carefully unlinked and flattened into a long coil works splendidly.

By doing this, then coiling them up, you can line the base of a casserole dish, add some vegies and flavours and slow-cook them for a delicious change. Continue reading

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Kiren's Banana Apricot Loaf2

Sweet Treats – Kiren’s Apricot and Buttermilk Bread

Once upon a time I had a sensational recipe for a loaf of sweet bread with apricots and All-Bran in it as the main ingredients. Despite its rather dubious sounding ingredients, it was a lovely cake, lighter than you might think, moist and incredibly tasty. I have searched for it for months now, but can’t find it. And then my friend Kiren sent me this recipe. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty damn close. Continue reading

Katherine Hepburn's Brownies

Sweet Treats – Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

She was imperious, had a withering intelligence and to the end was her own person, independent, self-aware, unafraid.

I loved her very much.

Before Meryl and Cate, Katharine Hepburn amassed four Best Actress Oscars over a forty year period. What she would have made of today’s botoxed beauties with their social media accounts and entourages I don’t know. Continue reading

Sausage and Lentil Soup

Day 7 – Sausage and Lentil Soup

In Italy, sausages are traditionally eaten with lentils on New Year’s Day and so it seems to me that if it can be elevated to a celebratory meal by one of the great food cultures of the world, surely you can eat them in a  soup during the week and consider yourself well satisfied.

This is quick to make and it tastes even better the next day. It’s fantastically portable for a work lunch, either in a thermos or to be warmed up in a microwave. It’s also hearty and sustains you throughout the mid afternoon slump.

Continue reading

Fig, Pear and Fennel Paste

Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste

I live next door to a church.

It’s not an obvious building, it doesn’t have stained glass windows, or a cemetery or bells but on a Sunday morning it does have a congregation singing and a few cars parked out the front.

For the rest of the week, it sits squat and quiet in a suburban street, with all but the roofline hidden from our view behind a seven foot fence.

And across this fence that separates our back yards, rests a large fig tree. Continue reading

Pork and Lime San Choy Bao

Day 6 – Pork and Lime San Choy Bow

San Choy Bow is a fantastic meal for families – you can eat it with your fingers, you can hide extra vegetables for unsuspecting fussy eaters and it makes good use of the much-maligned iceberg lettuce. Fact is, iceberg lettuce is at a reasonable price at the moment, and pork mince – or chicken mince  if you prefer – is never very expensive. The rest are ingredients you can add to your next stir-fry or fried rice and will never go to waste. Continue reading

Scotch Eggs

Day 5 – Scotch Eggs

Brace yourselves. The 1970s are back.

I’m not talking necessarily about him, or her, or them but there are some things from the 1970s that should well and truly stay in the dim dark past. Hairy chests. Satin. Charlie perfume. Every episode of Kingswood Country. Every song by The Captain and Tennille.

For too long the food of this decade has been derided. This was after all the decade that brought us the Chiko Roll, surf and turf, Thousand Island dressing and this. If you don’t believe me, flick through your parent’s cookbooks of forty years ago. Not all of it was written by Margaret Fulton. Continue reading

On Food, Money and Health

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Women’s Health Goulburn North East annual International Women’s Day breakfast. Eighty women sat in a lovely restaurant and ate my food – french toast, bruschetta, frittatas and muesli – all prepared by a professional chef and kitchen staff. It was truly an honour to be there and I spoke for 25 minutes about how food and money and our health are connected.

I showed photos of me as a 5 year old, and of me and Margaret Fulton, and an ugly daikon radish that made everyone laugh before I told them why we would never see one like that in our supermarkets. I can’t reproduce all of it, but this is an abridged version of my speech.

IWDTalk

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I’ve been asked to speak with you today about the relationship between food, money and health and I confess when given this topic I blanched. For one thing, we are a switched on food culture and have been for at least the last forty years. That’s two generations of people around the country who eat a greater variety of foods than ever before and who enjoy better education and economic stability than at any other time in this nation’s history. Continue reading

KidspotVoices2014Nominee

Oooooh, I’m a Nominee!

It’s surprising how quickly my emails pile up if left unattended.

I’ve been out of the office just two days – a trip to the country, of which more later – and I get a good hundred or so emails a day, all vying for my attention.

So naturally, I ignore them.

And I then come home and start cooking and writing, and eventually, I look at those emails.

And then this:

Kidspot Voices of 2014 Nominee

Why, thank you! (You know who you are, you gorgeous nominating person, you. Yes, and you too, over there in the corner.)

Cake for everyone,

HummingbirdCake

Sweet Treats – Hummingbird Cake

From the southern states of the US, this cake is the over-the-top creation you would expect from a part of the world that prides itself on hospitality. This is not the cake to have if you want a pared-back cake of utter simplicity. Instead it belts you over the head with the sweetness of banana, pineapple, coconut, cream cheese and brown sugar.

But oh, how it soothes you. Continue reading

White Bean Curry

Day 4 – White Bean and Coconut Curry

Yes this looks like a lot of ingredients, but I will say it until you are sick of hearing me – these are spices that should be a part of your pantry supplies. Summer-fresh curry leaves are available now at about $2 a packet and you can pop them in a small airtight container and freeze them for reliable results throughout the year.

This is a wonderful vegetarian meal, and using tinned beans will help you get it on the table in under half an hour and is sensational the following day for a work lunch. Continue reading

Potato and Bacon Scrolls

Lunchbox Treats – Potato and Bacon Scrolls

This is a great variation on cheesy scrolls for when you want a savoury lunch but can’t be bothered with making bread from scratch.

It’s a basic scone dough to which you add mashed potato and lots of flavours, making it the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tomato or vegetable soup or even a Ploughman’s lunch with ham, cheese and some home-made pickles. Because they’re a scone dough, they’re best eaten on the day they are made, or frozen as quickly as possible in an airtight container for another time. Continue reading

ApplePistachioTeacake

Sweet Treats – Apple and Pistachio Teacake

It’s apple time. Now is your best bet to buy apples that are in season, ripe, bounteous, perfect for baking, instead of the chalky and soft fruit we eat out of cold storage through the rest of the year.

Pistachios are also in season, making this cake the perfect baking item on your to-do list. It’s wonderful for lunch boxes too.

You can substitute for any type of firm, crispy, tart-tasting apple and you can use walnuts as well, or leave out the nuts completely. Continue reading

Chicken and Corn Fajitas

Day 3 – Chicken and Corn Fajitas

In my part of Melbourne, food trucks are a common sight. There’s a range of different cuisines for sale that broadly span the dude-food arc. If it can be held in one hand, it’s on offer.

Needless to say, one of the most popular is a taco truck. I see it, perched on the side of Rucker’s Hill, next to a handkerchief-sized plot of grass where hipsters park their bikes and eat, themselves part of the spectacle. Perhaps that’s part of the attraction. Continue reading

Salted Caramel Muffins

Sweet Treats – Salted Caramel Muffins

After almost two months since it was first made, I still have a jar of salted caramel fudge sauce in my fridge.

From time to time I open the fridge door, ferret around for butter, or the organic raspberry jam I bought from Daylesford, or a knob of ginger from the vegie crisper for a stir-fry. I grab cream for a quick scrambled eggs on Sundays while I am still sleepy, the basil in its terrarium bag from the fridge door for a quick bruschetta, or hummus to snack on with some crackers.

The caramel stays put. Continue reading

SalmonSpinachQuiche1

Day 2 – Salmon and Spinach Quiche

“Sandra, N has invited you to lunch, only she didn’t have your number so she asked me to ask you.”

“Oh, that’s great, what’s her number so I can reply?”

“I’ll send it to you.”

[Eight days later, and just one day before the party, I finally get N's number]

“Hi N, it’s Sandra, I’ve only just got your number, but I would love to come tomorrow. What do you want me to bring?”

“That’s great! It’s a very casual affair, just bring cheezels, or lollies”

“Oh, so you don’t want me to bring the salmon quiche that’s now cooling on the bench?”

“That will also be wonderful!”

Gosh, I love take-me-as-I-am friendships.

Continue reading

ApricotBlissBalls

Lunchbox Treats – Apricot Bliss Balls

They are now twenty-one and nineteen, but still my children remember their days in primary school fondly. For some reason the conversation turned to their school days recently and they both rhapsodised about the once a month occasion when I would work in the school canteen.

I’m not sure if it was simply that their mum was there, or that she was a shoe-in to splurge a little more and buy them treats they normally wouldn’t have, but they loved seeing me there.

And for my part, I have fond memories of it as well, the straggly queues, helping the Kindy kids work out correct change, and my personal favourite, listening to a child say, “Can I have a Blith Ball please Mrs Reynoldth?” “Hello darling, did you lose your front tooth this weekend? You must be in Year 1.” Continue reading

$120 – A Week of Family Meals – It Can Be Done

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