first, peel your banana

andy-banana

Bananas don’t last long in the extreme Australian summer heat. Five were dying in our fruit bowl this morning. Mr FD manned up and added two to his lunch time salad, but two from five still left three. I decided to make the two ingredient cookies my granddaughters love (2 bananas : 1 cup rolled oats, bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes) . Except somehow I never manage to follow the recipe correctly – this time not quite enough rolled oats in the pantry- and so I topped up with muesli!

Earlier this morning I had noticed all the New Year Resolution posts popping up online. This year’s resolution for me was to be creative and I have given myself a 9 out of 10 for that resolution. Not quite a 10 because sometimes I am too lazy to do anything but sit and mindlessly flick through Facebook or mindlessly resort to old habits! By creative, I don’t just mean “arty”, I also mean trying too look at a world with a design mind – seeking new uses for things, being innovative in my life as well as creative. I am happy with what I achieved overall though.

Looking at the sad bananas in the fruit bowl, I though that maybe 2017 could be the year to work on food waste. We buy so many vegetables and fruits that just wither and rot in our refrigerator. Much of this is due to the fact that I have great plans for the week, but as each day passes and I get tired and the school work piles higher, I resort to pulling in for takeaway at night rather than even think about making a simple meal.  Bad girl!

Looking at it creatively, trying to minimise food waste also means that I am planning our shopping better – maybe even save money in the process. We will certainly eat better meals, and that will impact positively on my health, which we all know needs all the help it can get!

Mr FD  in recent weeks has become quite the hand at the barbecue, so if I  plan meals around that to start with, I can’t see how we can’t prosper. I have a slow cooker to use in colder months. It also continues on my 2016 creativity resolution, which makes me self-pleased. I am feeling superior already.

So, that’s it, folks – my resolution for 2017 is to reduce food waste in our home. Good for me, my family, the community and the planet. What’s not to love?

Just going to tell Mr FD what his first resolution for 2017 is…

 

 

 

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Sunday entertainment

Sunday Perth 1

Breakfast was served by the new parents; banana and oat pancakes with coconut yoghurt and fruit. If only every morning started so well. All I had to do was cuddle a baby as payment!

Sunday Perth 4

I rolled the rum balls with the help of The Kracken. They have somehow managed to survive hidden in the fridge so far, but not for much longer. They need a day or two to “mature”.

Then we did a tour of Perth bookshops, of which there are many. The independents are hanging on strong in the west, and long may they do so.

perth music

 

The Millpoint Caffe Bookshop was a favourite with its coffee shop and two musicians playing music. They favourited Stephane Grappelli tunes which gave the long, warm Sunday afternoon the feel of a tea dance from the nineteen thirties. I wouldn’t have been surprised to catch a glimpse of Miss Marple taking tea in a corner.

Oh, and we met this couple on the road. We gave them right of way.

Sunday Perth 2

Cookies and milk

dancing housewife

My mission for the day, which I chose to accept, was to bake lactation cookies. I had never heard of them either, but apparently they assist in mother’s milk supplies.

The secret ingredient is brewers yeast. Once upon a time this could be purchased at the local supermarket, but our failure to source it yesterday confirmed that the supermarket chain no longer stocked home brew supplies now that they owned a  liquor chain outlet. Wonder why?

Mr Daughter2, the new Daddy, went out on a hunting excursion and was almost lost to the wildes of the Home Brew Store until he remembered his quest and returned with sachets of brewers yeast. The store owner had gifted them to him when she had heard the reason for his quest.

So Grandma, that’s me in this tale, sallied forth into the kitchen and created lactation cookies. Oh, it was a jolly time, with many a joke about  “we mustn’t allow the men folk to eat our cookies, or heavens knows what might happen to them!”

Daughter2 wondered aloud what might happen to her if they were wildly successful. I said we would make a podcast for YouTube and create a lactation cookie empire.

Three trays of cookies were baking in the oven when for amusement I reread the recipe and realised that one ingredient was missing. The super duper secret ingredient – the brewer’s yeast.  Too late to whip the trays from the oven and add the ingredient, I thought of saying nothing and hoping the placebo effect would do its task, but my sharp intake of breath informed Mr D2 standing nearby, that something was amiss. I could have lied, but had to confess. He manfully offered to eat the evidence. What a hero!

I set too and made a second batch. Trays cooling from the oven, I started to clean the kitchen after admitting my error to Daughter2, who was not surprised at her mother’s antics, and to be honest would probably have been surprised had I indeed read the recipe correctly first time around. She remembered too well the great mustard fiasco of year 12.

As evidence that the brewers yeast was now ensconced within the cookie, I wafted the 5g sachet under her nose.

“Wow, how convenient that it was exactly one sachet that the cookies needed,” she declared, impressed.

Ummmm

Close inspection of the recipe stated that 2 TABLESPOONS of brewer’s yeast was required. I had used a mere 1 teaspoon.

We are still relying on the placebo effect.

 

 

 

Drunken fruit season approaching

drunken

I had tucked up the drunken dried fruits for the night, with the intention of mixing the Christmas cake on the morrow when I received that phone call alerting us to the knowledge that my Mother was in an ambulance. So life being life, those fruits got to imbibe the Napoleon brandy for an entire week until I could return to the kitchen.

The recipe evolves every year. This year in a salute to the sugar less family members I used rice syrup instead of brown sugar. The proof will indeed be in the mixing.

I am still trying to reconcile my brain with the knowledge that the organic rice syrup  was a product of Belgium. In all my fantasies I have never imagined the Belgians: Flemish, Walloons or German, as rice growers; but who am I to argue with a food label? Should I ever travel to Belgium I shall waste time looking for them toiling in the rice paddies.

This year, as the family will be split between east and west Australian coasts I will endeavour, family dramas allowing, to bake a second dried fruit cake to transport to Perth. We shall partake as we hopefully also toast the safe arrival of Peppercorn Flamingo Dancer, due Boxing Day.

Terrible season for a birthday, but fear not, as long as Granny Flamingo Dancer is able, she will ensure a birthday worth celebrating. No one present for both occasions – no fair.

Christmas is going to be a drunken affair this year, as I gifting dessert fruits in various alcoholic syrups as my office gifts. Nothing that cannot be used short term, or requires long term storage is my mantra these days. It must also be something I would be happy to receive myself – the ultimate good taste test!

Maybe the world would be a jollier place if we steeped all our foods in alcohol. Grumpy Cat might not be required to communicate for us. I wonder if a red or a white would go best with porridge?

Balsamic + Roast Beef = a Recipe to be shredded, in the nicest possible way

Balsamic-Pot-Roast-DSC_0878

I have to admit that I am very iffy about slow cookers. As I have mentioned previously, I find them very hit or miss, with the food often tasting very similar despite the recipe and too frequently rather “stewed”.

On Father’s Day (last Sunday in Australia) I did use the slow cooker to cook a Shredded Balsamic Beef Roast. I have to admit that it was delicious. Son, my finest critic, gave it a thumb up and agreed that it was worthy of making again. High compliments!

In case you are interested the recipe can be found here:

Balsamic Roast Beef Recipe

 

where is the fairness in this?

While the honeymooning Mr and Mrs Daughter2 were in New Zealand waking to morning snow and doing this:

shotover

I spent the day in my PJs, rising only to eat and put another load of laundry on, before cooking this:

Nice as it was, I think the honeymooning Mr and Mrs FD (keep up, remember the Bridegroom took the Bride’s Flamingo Dancer surname) are having more fun than the Senior Mr and Mrs FD.

Let it be said though, that I would never do the white water power boat thing. Snow yes, power boat, no.

Recipe link here.

The Cook’s Brag Book

quick dinners 1

I have a “cooking” weekend planned this weekend. There are Christmas cakes to bake – my, how fast that time has come around! The brandy bottle will need refilling…

Additionally, I have selected a number of dishes to cook and freeze for week day dinners. The process so far has been to select the menus, list the ingredients required required, order the ingredients online to be delivered prior to the weekend, so that Saturday is Ready, Cook, Freeze!

Dried fruit for the Christmas cakes will be set to soak on Saturday for Sunday baking. I like the brandy to steep in so that the fruit is plump and juicy. I will make at least two cakes. I may make an Irish Tea fruit cake, as it has “cheaper” ingredients as well and uses black tea instead of brandy. That can be a pre Christmas treat.

The meals are all basically one pot meals so I can have a couple on the go at once, hopefully. I remembered to order extra freezer containers as well! We only have two fridge freezers, no large deep freeze, so I can’t make too many meals ahead.There must be room for ice, for our drinks!

The planned menu is :

Spring Chicken Paella

Easy Chicken casserole

Fruity Lamb Terrine

Honey Mustard Chicken Pot

Chicken and White Bean Stew

Mediterranean vegetables with lamb

 

As well as :

Carrot-zucchini sweet quick bread

Chocolate and orange cake (my two favourite flavours to mix!)

 

Whenever a recipe requires sugar, I use dextrose, which is available in Australia in the home brewing section of the supermarket, or from health food shops in 1 or 2 kg bags. We have tried to eliminate as much sugar as possible form our diet over the last couple of years.

And no doubt, while I am cooking and baking I shall take photos to share with you mere mortals, because let’s be honest, what is the point of all this back breaking, exhausting work if I don’t get to brag, appear like a domestic goddess, and make you all feel inferior? The fact that we might eat healthier meals and make my life easier in the long run, is just the added bonus!

And of course, if I don’t do anything, you will never hear another word about it!

cook 1