Pumpkin goodness- Know Your Basics

pumpkin: know your basics || cityhippyfarmgirl

Although you can buy pumpkin for a fair chunk of the year here in Australia. Now is when you will be seeing rather a lot of it. Autumn and early winter is a great time for the humble pumpkin. It’s a cheap and easy basic, that really does pay to know a few different ways in which to cook it. Team it up with the forever versatile fetta and you are away. Meal times never looked so simple.

 

Now if you are lucky enough to grow your own pumpkins, they can be stored for several months in a cool dark airy spot, especially so if they have been cured beforehand. This can be done by leaving them out in the sun for a while first, for the skin to harden and the stalk to dry out.

Then there is the eating. I really like using pumpkin as it’s cheap, and can be turned into a whole list of easy dinner time meals… Or snacks… Or desserts. Actually the humble pumpkin is rather impressive with its array of pumpkiny meal options.

KNOW YOUR BASICS: Find a couple of basic ingredients and really get to know them, what they can do, what they taste well with and most importantly, how on earth to cook them.

First up, roasted. This can be done either with skins on or off depending on your time, strength and taste buds. I normally peel them, as they are generally going into a soup, dhal or bread kind of dish.

Now once you’ve peeled, chopped and roasted you are left with the scooped out, fleshy, stringy and seedy bits. Separate all the seeds and leave them in a bowl to soak over night. The next morning dry them off and spread them out in a frying pan gently roast- watch them, they POP!

Pumpkin: know your basics || cityhippyfarmgirlpumpkin: know your basics || cityhippyfarmgirl

Whether you are roasting, steaming, eating cold, eating hot, the pumpkin is a great one to be bought locally, seasonally, frugally, and importantly tastely, (surely that can be a word?)

What’s your favourite way to serve pumpkin?

A few more ideas on what to do with your wonderful pumpkin

Make a Pumpkin and Fetta Tart

Pumpkin and Fetta salad with chickpeas was delicious

Pumpkin and Fetta sausage rolls always a winner

Pumpkin and Fetta foccacia

Pumpkin Spiced Cake– everyone loves cake, especially pudding kinda cake

Pumpkin and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, cool nights, hot dinners

Roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Scones– easy for lunch or afternoon tea

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Dhal- frugal and seasonal cooking

and my go to Thai Style Pumpkin Soup

pumpkin: know your basics || cityhippyfarmgirl

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Corn and Ricotta Fritters- Frugal Friday

corn ricotta fritters

Warmer days and salads are calling. Although I didn’t want just a plate of salad…a little something of the side perhaps? I asked if anyone would like to help me cook. When six hands shoot to the sky, (yes, they are so enthusiastic to get in there they shoot both hands up) and there is a stampede of shoving and nudging to get to the “standing chair” in the kitchen chair. Well I know they are enthusiastic.

School holiday cooking that’s simple, and speaks quietly of warm weather and lazy days.

For the baked and not fried versions see here.

corn ricotta fritters

Corn and Ricotta Fritters

1 can corn (420g)

2 beaten eggs

300g ricotta

a couple of shallots finely sliced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

75g s/r flour (1/2 cup)

salt to taste

Cook up small amounts in a frying pan, (I cook these in a ceramic frying pan without the use of oil.)

 

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Scones- Frugal Friday

cityhippyfarmgirl

With cooler weather finally arrived, it’s quite nice to have the oven on again for longer periods. No sweltering in the kitchen, followed by desperate throwing open of windows to catch a passing breeze. Instead, an inviting warm cosiness, that encourages lingering within the kitchen and regular taste testing.

Team that kitchen warmth up, with the last of the afternoon sun and a hungry belly- and scones it is. Not just any scones though. Savoury scones, that speak of autumn colours and warming spices.

Just the thing to go with a chunky soup.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Indian Spiced Pumpkin Scones

50g softened butter

1 cup mashed local pumpkin

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp tumuric

1/2 tsp cardamom

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2- 3 cups s/r flour*

(*depends on the water content of your pumpkin)

Cream butter and spices together. Whisk in all other ingredients except the flour. Fold in flour with a knife. Turn out on to a floured surface and lightly knead, just until the ingredients come together. Make a roundish shape circle with the dough, and roughly divide. Pop on to a baking tray and bake at 210C for about 20 minutes.

Cheap, easy, and seasonal.

Purple Carrot Cake

purple carrot cake purple

Purple isn’t a colour that holds a strong part in my life. It seems to come up in flicks and flecks and then disappears again.

When I think of purple I think of the purple cabbage dish my mum used to make as a child…oh how I used to shudder knowing that was going on to my plate. Any offers of her to make it again as an adult have been politely refused as really…you can’t fight history.

Purple, and I think of the beautifully scented lavander that sits outside my front door. A heady large bush that seems to have a constant stream of buzzing bees dancing on it’s purple flowered heads. Brush past it with your hand just after rain shower and you are rewarded with a heady scented smell that clings to finger tips.

I once had an oversized costume jewellery ring with a purple stone centred in the middle. An old flatmate had given it to me on my birthday. It wasn’t a considered birthday present, it was more the fact that I appeared in the room at the same time as he unveiled the ring. We used to joke that he had got it off someones dying finger….given that he used to keep a large axe in his room, and periods of ridiculously erratic behaviour… probably not a joke I would find quite so funny now.

Purple was on my leg recently. A peach sized bruise that I didn’t have the foggiest idea of how it got there. For two weeks I was reminded of the fact that I didn’t remember how something so big and sore had got there in the first place. (What is it about bruises that make you prod it routinely to make sure it still hurts?)

Purple is also the colour of an old brooch that has sat in a small wooden of mine box for a very long time. I’ve never actually worn it, so it still sits in little drawer surrounded by a purple ribbon, ready and waiting for that one day.

So what does purple have to do with my carrot cake? Well clearly I’ve used purple carrots. Those carrots with the deepest darkest of colour. Carrots that stain your fingers when you peel them, and carrots that scream out to be made into a cake. Not just any cake though. I had played with my carrot cake recipe before, using the purple carrots and all I got was dark coloured flecks through out. Where was the purple? (Like in this sourdough.) I needed to somehow let the carrot cough up its colour without becoming a stodgy lump by cooking it too much. I also didn’t want to put any vegetable oil, or sugar in there. Raising your eyebrows a little? Nope, stick with me.

Local honey and sultanas for sweetness. Pecans and wholemeal spelt for flavour. Carrots for well, purple. And voila, purple carrot cakeMaybe purple is going to hold a bigger part in my life now after all.

Purple Carrot Cake

400g grated local purple carrots

100g melted butter

150g local honey

3 beaten free range eggs

1 tsp cinnamon

50g roughly chopped pesticide free pecans

50g natural sultanas

150g wholemeal spelt flour

150g s/r flour

Grate carrots and melt just the butter just a little with them either in a pot or microwave. Just enough to melt the butter- which also releases the purple colour. Mix through remainder of the ingredients, leaving the flours until last, then folding them through too.

Bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes, in a greased and lined tin.

Jazzing up your dinner with Pangritata- Frugal Friday

cityhippyfarmgirl

cityhippyfarmgirlPoor man’s parmesan it’s called but eating it, I feel anything but poor.

crunch, crunch, crunch….

 Like any good peasant food, it’s cheap, frugal, uses up what’s available and is rather versatile in jazzing up the most basic of meals.

crunch, crunch, crunch….

You can team it up with what ever you have on hand, looking good at your local farmers market, or getting flaccid in your fridge.. For me, it’s usually some seasonal green vegetables and maybe a little fetta to bump up the protein. (The pictured one was zucchini, peas, and leek.)

Really the possibilities are endless. Just the thing for Frugal Friday.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Pangritata

In a frying pan add some

Stale bread crumbs (I use the ends of my sourdough loaves, and pulse them in a blender until crumb like.)

Add a couple of slugs of olive oil

a clove of crushed local garlic

zest of an organic lemon

some finely chopped fresh chilli

and some salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly fry it up until golden, (or alternatively bake it on a tray if you have the space in your oven while cooking something else.)

I make a whole big batch and just keep it in the fridge. No idea how long it keeps as it never lasts that long round these parts.

Give it a crack.

kale rice salad- Frugal Friday

Funny how an- uh oh what am I’m going to make for dinner moment (the fridge was looking particularly slim pickings) turns into a wow, I think I’ll make that again moment.

Yep, it was one of those times.

Kale Rice Salad

some cooked brown rice

a couple of good slurps of olive oil

2 chopped shallots

bunch of finely chopped new kale leaves (older stems will be too chewy raw)

1/2 can of corn

a good squeeze of lime juice

salt and pepper to taste

mix it all together and serve at room temperature… or hot… or cold.

Chewy coconut biscuits

“Mama these are the best biscuits in the whole world!”

Big contented sigh from me. I smile at Monkey Boy.

“Thanks little fella… you my dear, may have another”.

I’m easily satisfied with minimal effort on the kitchen front and happy taste sensations going on when you bite into a biscuit. Monkey Boy is easily happy when something just tastes good. No more words necessary.

Except when you forget the sugar, and you’ve just made a double batch of The Monkeys new favourite biscuits. Little Monkey took a bite and confidently handed the biscuit back. Monkey Boy said they tasted a bit old, and not really like last time. A visiting foodie friend wrinkled her nose up and handed the remaining biscuit to a quietly pouting baker. Baking ego quietly deflating.

What to do with rather a lot of sugarless coconut biscuits?

Yes, I could have eaten them, it didn’t bother me there was no sugar in them. But probably not the wisest idea, having 50 biscuits just for me.

What do? How to sugar them up?…Spoon jam in between them? Dunk them in chocolate? What about covering them in lime icing?

Hmmm, lime icing eh?…that should do the trick.

Much better. Eaten once again with gusto.

“Mama, these are the best biscuits in the world!”

Baking ego restored.

Chewy Coconut Biscuits

125g softened butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup raw sugar

1/4 cup milk

Mix together and spoon into some cling wrap. Roll in to a log shape roll. Pop in to the fridge for a while, until the mixture firms up and roll again to get a smoother log shape. Cut into biscuit rounds with a serrated knife. Bake at 180 for about 15-20 minutes. Longer of you like them crunchy.

Taunting newspapers and Banana Oat Bars

I’m always curious to see what other people are reading.

Passing by a young man with a very long bushman beard at 7am on a Saturday morning recently. I had to stop myself from sticking my head upside down, and asking, “what ya readin’ there buddy?” He seemed so engrossed in his book, sitting reading at the bus stop.  What was that young man with a long bushman’s beard reading at 7am while waiting for his bus?

I love reading, but too often there isn’t enough time in my day. Certainly not enough time to do all the reading that I would like to be doing anyway. I love reading the Saturday paper, but sometimes I simply have to just not buy it. The pressure to read the thing is too much. Who needs that kind of added pressure? A pile of papers slowly mounting up on the table, taunting me in its silence. If the paper could talk I’m sure it would be whispering.

You haven’t read me yet, have you…

I’m still here…you’ve walked by again and I’m still neatly folded.

Come on now, it’s nearly Friday, and I’m still very much unread…

You know what tomorrow is don’t you…paper day, again.

See how the paper taunts me? How a bundle of paper pages does that, I just don’t know.

Along with the newspaper building up, my pile of books to read is also silently gathering momentum. The beginning of the year, I had set out with a reasonable reading list that I thought was manageable given the slow rate I was reading at the time. That one book turned into two, two turned into three, three turned into ten. I can’t keep up. Have I finished any of them? Maybe one or two… But generally they are all half read. I’m simultaneously reading six books.

Now this, probably isn’t the most clever way to read a book but it’s how I’m slowly creeping through them all. There is the book that doesn’t read particularly well, but I really want to get though it as I think it’s important. There is the light reading book for when I’m so tired just before bed that I can still read a little with an eye stuck shut for want of sleep. There is the informative book that needs to be read with a clear mind, while taking down the odd note here and there. There is the escapism fiction that has essentially only been opened and closed without a proper word been consumed. There are the numerous cookbooks that need to be poured over before I can satisfactorily say that yes, I’m utilising them properly. There is the green building magazine that I adore every page of, so don’t want to flick through unmindfully as by doing that it would almost seem an insult and not do the pages proper justice. Then there is the ever growing list of books that I really want to read next.

My books are pressuring me just as that taunting pile of newspapers.  Thankfully these Banana Oat Bars don’t give out that kind of pressure.

Do you ever feel pressure from paper goods?

 

Banana Oat Bars

2 mashed up bananas

100g melted butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbls honey

2 cups whole oats

Mix all the ingredients up in order. Press mixture into a greased pan (I used 23cmx 23cm) and bake at 180C for approximately 45 minutes.

Super easy and perfect to nibble on… while you are reading.

an unattractive tasty plum cake

I knew in my mind the sort of cake I wanted to make. Not too sweet, using half plums, and perhaps a little almond meal in there. Could  I find a recipe within my collection that was even remotely like it, no. Not a whisker. I didn’t want to trawl the internet, so it was back to hack baking. I’m certainly no stranger there.

Springform pan greased and lined with parchment paper on the bottom. Cutting 5 plums in half, lining them up round side down and then sprinkled with a tablespoon of sugar.

In a mixing bowl add,

150gms softened butter

1 cup raw sugar (approx 140gms)

cream together, add

2 beaten eggs

1 tps cinnamon

1 cup natural yogurt (approx 250mls)

1 cup almond meal (approx 100gms)

1 cup s/r flour (approx 150gms)

Spoon mixture on top of plum halves and bake at 180C for approximately 1hour 15mins.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. It doesn’t look pretty. It really doesn’t. I couldn’t photograph its prettier angle, as there was no prettier angle. The food stylist was clearly out for a long lunch. It is what it is, an unattractive tasty plum cake.

That’s ok though, these things happen in every day cooking.

* Edit. I forgot one litttttle thing. I flipped the cake. So the bottom is now on the top. If you would like to see how an unflipped cake looks, read on down in the comments and you will see Keri’s superb looking cake she made.

sourdough hoppers- Frugal Friday


For people reading you’re probably thinking one of two things…

1/ what is a hopper?

or

2/ THAT is not a hopper!

To answer Number 1/ A hopper is a cup shaped rice flour pancake basically. There a few different types, (string, egg, plain…) A staple from Sri Lanka quite often eaten for breakfast. Nothing tastier than dipping a freshly cooked hopper into some curry with attitude.

hoppers photo from ‘lanka.com’

In answer to Number 2/ I don’t have a hopper pan, or anything remotely like it. Which is why my little hoppers look like plain old pancakes. If you had a deep enough wok, it would work just as well, (I have a flat bottomed one.) A traditional hopper pan is like a mini wok, and I am on the look out, yes I am…

This recipe is my take on the delicious hopper. So maybe not traditionally correct, but they still work.

I even got my mum’s vote of approval.

Sourdough Hoppers

1 cup sourdough starter

1 cup rice flour

1 tps salt

1 cup coconut milk/ or coconut cream

1/2 cup water

Add all ingredients together, and let sit for approximately 5 hours. Mixture is a like a pancake consistency, and should be bubbling away happily, when the time is up and they are ready to cook. Pop some of the mixture into the pan, if you are doing it in a rounded pan, let the edges get a little crispy and then popping a lid over the top to enable the steam to cook the inside. (The middle part will be thicker.) For egg hoppers, drop an egg into the middle, just before the lid goes on to steam.

Serve with a great curry, ripping off bits of the hopper and dunking it in.

Or, easy thing to have on Frugal Friday. Make the batch up in the morning, forget about it, then they will ready to cook up by dinner. Serve with some lightly cooked vegetables in some vegetable oil, garam masala, salt and pepper…and maybe a dollop of natural yoghurt on the side.