Easy As Biscuits and doing what you can

snack time biscuits || cityhippyfarmgirl

I recently hosted a particularly nasty guest, called virus.

For weeks.

Yes, (too many) weeks.

It seems half the city is currently hosting under similar circumstances and I can tell you, it hasn’t been pretty.

Walking (dragging) our feet to school and it’s like a conga line of Village of the Doomed. Cough, cough, cough, sneeze, and cough from every street corner. It’s not just any cough either. It’s a lung squeezing, lift your feet off the ground kind of cough that leaves you gasping for air and clinging on to the closest adequately secured devise around, (telegraph poles excellent, small rickety fences- not so much.)

We walk, and bleary eyes meet. A slow blink of understanding, and brief head tilt towards each other. We are understood. The healthy ones file past. Determined in their stride, they look joyously towards a hopeful horizon, they have their health, and anything is a possibility. Not us though, eyes are dark, sunken and averted in an effort not to talk to anyone that isn’t absolutely necessary.

Now once all the fluid had partially drained from my head, ears, eyes, lungs. I was left with a small urge to bake. Not a big one mind. It certainly wasn’t going to be a three course dinner extravaganza, with a conveyor belt of baked goods throughout the day in a lead up to dinner.

No. All I set out to do was bake some biscuits. Lunch box stuffing, hollow legs, hunger nags and after dinner top ups kind a biscuits, (cookies if you are in the land of stars and stripes.) They worked out, filled up bellies and I’m now counting on two hands how many times they’ve been made since.

a little snack biscuits || cityhippyfarmgirl

Now during this time of compulsory hosting, it became terrifically clear that…

1/ I was really going to have to take some time out of the kitchen while getting better.

2/ Life would continue on. It seems I need these kind of health shake ups occasionally to remember these things. Those moments of not pushing yourself, instead just doing what I can and when I can.

Yep, pretty simple really.

Easy As Biscuits

200g melted butter

100g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

50g sunflower seeds

200g rolled oats

handful of sultanas

handful of chocolate buttons

150g wholemeal spelt flour

1 beaten egg

Add all ingredients together, mix it up and roll into balls with slightly dampened hands, (stops it sticking.) Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes.

Store in airtight container and eat with enthusiasm, (and try not to cough.)

caramelised onion tart…the post that nearly wasn’t

caramelised onion tart

caramelised onion tart

I’m not sure why but this post is the one that keeps getting bumped to the bottom of the pile. Time and time again this is the post that gets discarded and ignored.

Why? I’m not really sure. I love the caramelised onions, I love the tart and have made it several times now, so why do I keep bumping it off? One of the many mysteries of the blogging world I suspect.

Not today though. Not today will I bump it off in favour of a shinier post.

Today I will keep typing and press publish. It’s the right thing to do.

How about you? Do you have a blog post that for 547 reasons, has yet to see the light of day?

caramelised onion tart

caramelised onion tart

Pastry

(in a blender)

300gms plain flour (2 cups)

and

200gms cold butter cubed

pulse until resembles bread crumbs

tip out to a mixing bowl

and add

110gms natural yogurt and

1 tsp white vinegar

Mix together. Quick knead on a floured surface until a dough ball forms. Cover with clingwrap and pop in the fridge for about an hour. Cut ball of dough in half and roll out to the shape you want. I rolled out to a rough rectangular shape 1/2 cm thick. Prick with a fork all over and into the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden at 200C. While that’s cooking make the onions up.

Caramelised Onions

6 onions or so into 1/8th’s and pulsed in the blender

tip into a wide bottomed pot and add

4 good slugs of olive oil

 and now cook them off on medium heat (about 20 mins or so)

add 300g brown sugar

and 3tbls of balsamic vinegar

and again on medium heat for another 15-20mins or until mixture thickens slightly and looks darker and glossy. (Easy to store in a jar, and keep in the fridge.)

Spread the onion mixture over the cooked pastry, add some fresh rosemary. Back in the oven for 10 or so minutes at 200C.

 

Little Nut Bars and a keep it simple reminder

cityhippyfarmgirl

Last Saturday I baked.

I baked and I baked, and I baked. I didn’t set out with having a baking day in mind, it just sort of turned out like that. A baking day that snuck up on me. I didn’t mind, I ran with it. I had ideas in my head, and I really just wanted to try them. Thing is I tried too hard. After a whole days baking I had a table full of food to feed my family for the coming week, and a sink full of dishes, but was I happy with them?

The Date and Pecan bread, yes- but nothing really new there.

cityhippyfarmgirl

The Muesli Biscuits, yes. (Although one tray was over cooked as I got distracted trying to do too many things.)

not lasagne

The Rocky Road Brownie was a complete and utter mess, mostly due to the fact that I’d forgotten to turn the oven down after baking bread at a really hot temperature, (the marshmallows certainly didn’t appreciate this.) And yes, it does look like lasagne.

The first tray of Chocolate Honey Cardamom Buns- looked like I had been blind folded while shaping them, and the taste was just plain bland. The second tray looked better, and tasted better, but oozed it’s contents every where, and certainly didn’t have any wow factor.

What was left?

The little Nut Bars. They certainly looked ok, but would they stand up to being flicked out of the mini muffin tray? (Jeez, maybe I really should have just put it all in a lined tray like was suggested.) I didn’t want to find out.

I wanted to go for a bike ride. Leave the mountain of dishes and ride with the wind in my hair. And so I did. A quick 15km’s later and I was back in the kitchen, ready to find out if the brownies were as bad as they looked, (hell no!) hoping the dishes had miraculously disappeared, (they hadn’t) and whether those little nut bars would come out (they did.)

So what did I learn from the days baking? Simple cooking is still the best. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, just good quality ingredients put together. I know this, I always say this. But I still seem to have days where I need to remind myself of it.

So with a days baking behind me, and some tasty little nut morsels to nibble on by my side….now I just had to work out what on earth we were having for dinner.

cityhippyfarmgirl

Little Nut Bars

(inspired by this recipe at the always delicious Green Kitchen Stories)

8 chopped medjool dates

100g whole almonds

100g crushed peanuts

100g sunflower seeds

100g sesame seeds

a pinch of Murray River Salt

2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of coconut oil

2 heaped dessert spoonfuls of local honey

In a pot gently combine the coconut oil and honey together. In a bowl pour mixture over the rest of the ingredients, and mix together. Either press down into a  lined baking tray or a non-stick mini muffin tray. Pop into the fridge until firm.

new discoveries


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choc agave balls

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New discoveries…

New legs to walk on, and walk she does. At ten months and four days she said, whoooshka! Lets go, lets get busy…and hasn’t looked back.

New magnifying glasses for the boys, show little critters can become big critters at the right angle. There are a lot of new little things to discover.

Holiday time and park mornings are spent exploring. It can be hard work and they need lots of healthy energy giving snacks.

I’ve posted these balls before (here) but have changed around the ingredients a little. My new discovery of the deliciousness of dark agave nectar, was a lovely surprise. I would use it sparingly due to the food miles on it, but it is a wonderful alternative to sugar or honey.

These ingredients are just a rough guide, use whatever you have on hand and like to add to the mix.

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Chocolate Agave Energy Balls

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup linseed meal
1/2 cup sunflower kernals
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4 cup honey (use extra agave if you want to make it completely vegan)
2 tbls of unhulled tahini
1 tsp vanilla
sesame seeds/ or extra coconut
Mix all ingredients together, add a tablespoon or two of water if needed to bind ingredients together and roll into balls. Roll again in sesame seeds or coconut.
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This post is going to We Should Cocoa @ Chocolate Log Blog– for a sugar free chocolate combo this month.

eggs in baskets- Frugal Friday

I always thought Toad in the Hole was an egg cracked into a slice of bread and then fried. Turns out I’m wrong. (Thank you for the correction wikipedia) Apparently Toad in the Hole involves a sausage and instead my fried egg is called Egg in a Basket. I’m not sure that’s got quite the same ring to it, but it will have to do until I think of something else. I always liked the sounds of Toad in the Hole… makes me think of Wind in the Willows.

What you’ll need is some

small round bread rolls and

free range eggs

hollow them out, enough to hold a whole cracked egg

into a low oven (they are a good thing to pop in on your second shelf of the oven while something else is cooking up top)

eat them when you think they are ready

and serve with a little capsicum chilli sauce

(For me an egg is ready when it’s cooked right through, Mr Chocolate likes ’em runny.)

 ******

As for a new name…any ideas?

Bunnies in Burrows?

Fat Cat on a Cushion?

sweeping the flour off

the 'flour' after it had been swept...

I’m just sweeping the flour off mama.

It’s a line like that, that stops a girl in her tracks. Stops her right dead in her tracks. Eyebrows fly up and mouth forms a perfectly formed silent O.

Ohh…really little one? Hoping that my first thought after hearing that one little line was wrong… really wrong.

He clarified it for me, by repeating the gesture. See, mama… this how I sweep off allll the flour.

The dirty old house broom gets raised once again, to sweep off the icing sugar delicately dusted over my newly baked Pan de Mallorca.

Nooo!!… Startled and quite surprised he’s the one that now stops dead in his tracks.

I think that’s fine little one, oh, yes…quite enough sweeping I think. Gently prising the broom handle from his Little Monkey paws.

I was only gone five minutes. That three year old is a quick one to tidy.

'flourless' pan de mallorca

I made these last weekend, and again this weekend. I wanted something easy, Monkey friendly and something I could whack in the freezer, ready to be pulled out for standby Monkey Boy school lunches and Little Monkey at home lunches when things were looking just a bit too crazy in the mornings for much else. They both loved them, which is lucky as the crazy mornings happened quite a bit last week.

Pan De Mallorca

(adapted from SBS Feast Magazine March edition)

(and very similar to the Pan de Leche that I’ve made before)

1 tsp dried yeast

100g melted butter

1/4 cup (55g) sugar

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup (125mls) milk

3 cups (450g) flour

3/4 tsp salt

100-150g sourdough starter *

extra brown sugar and cinnamon (or a cooked up diced apple tastes great too.)

In a bowl, add dried yeast, sugar, sourdough starter and 60mls tepid water. Stir to dissolve and set aside for 5 minutes until mixture begins to bubble. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface for a quick knead. Mixture should look smooth and elastic.

Pop back in the bowl and cover, leaving to prove for about an hour. Turn out on to lightly floured surface again, rolling dough out into a rectangle shape. Sprinkle several spoonfuls of brown sugar and a little cinnamon onto dough and roll up, (from the long side.) Cut dough into circles and place on a tray. Cover and prove again for about 30-60 mins, bake at 180C for 25 minutes.

Dust with ‘flour’, (icing sugar)

* If you don’t have a sourdough starter, using just the dried yeast is fine, take out half a cup of the flour from the mixture to adjust the recipe.

(This post submitted to yeastspotting)

Sunday musings and banana crumble muffins

There is nothing quite as enjoyable as some long weekend musings over a deep cup of coffee, and a muffin or two. Mr Chocolate even indulged me by having a decaf coffee with me, while pretending it was the real deal.

Once we had world politics sorted, discussed the plight of Australian farmers versus big corporations, the annoying-ness of facebook, a spot of fracking thrown in and what we should have for dinner. My mind was let loose on to other matters.

Olive tree in a pot. They look good, but can I make it work given my minimal sun, teeny tiny space and very pale green thumb? It wouldn’t be for ever, but could I keep it happy until we found sunnier pastures down the track?

When does a night time snack turn into an early breakfast?… Just how early can breakfast be?

Tattoos, could you, would you, should you? Is it a pregnancy induced want of mine? I think I’m keen… but then again, maybe it will pass?

Talking birth is a bit like talking religion or politics. Everyone has an opinion and things can get rather heated… aren’t people funny?

How about you? Been musing on anything lately?

******

As for the muffins to go with your musings, I saw these delectable little goodies- Cranberry and Crumb Top Muffins, and I wanted to play. Actually most of the things Greg and Katherine make, I want to have a crack at. But the muffins were calling, not in a cranberry kind a way, but in a banana kind a way. Actually the bananas had developed quite a tone on them, noisy buggers. Help, my skin is turning brown, and I really need a focus! Cook with me!

Who am I to ignore a helpless banana on a bench, Banana Crumble Muffins they were to be, (and just quietly… they were kind of  delicious.)

Banana Crumble Muffins

125g softened butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom

2 tbls honey

1 beaten egg

3 mashed bananas

2 cups self raising flour (300g)

Mix all ingredients together except flour, then fold that through too. Spoon mixture into lined muffin tray.

Crumble Topping

2 tbsp melted butter

2 tbsp dark muscavado sugar (or regular brown sugar)

2 tbsp plain flour

Mix together and spoon mixture 1/2 tsp at a time over muffins.

Bake at 180C for approximately 30 minutes or until light golden.