Category: Cooking

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 3

Now that we have established the shopping basics and the kitchen appliances that I think are useful in any kitchen, I will go ahead and share with you some foods we see often on the menu in our house.

I have a variety of recipes I always use. They are our family favourites and if you are ever invited to dine with us you will definitely be treated to one of the best beef curries in town. Ultimately, you will have to make your own list of favourite things to cook, I can’t help you with that…..but I can tell you what we cook often.

  • I  make my own soups from my homemade stocks, see recipe here. Soup is such an easy meal to make,  it is so versatile that you will never have to eat the same soup. When I make a really large batch of bolognese sauce I will turn the left overs into soup by adding a few cups of my chicken stock and vegetable stock into the sauce. If you serve this soup with some crusty home made french bread, you will be truly satisfied. You will love cooking soups in your slow cooker, it’s easy and so yummy.
  • That brings me to my next thing, baking bread. When you think of baking bread, you might well think that it is impossible to do this at home. Well, it isn’t,  in fact it is so easy that I do it almost all the time. I not only bake bread, but also make English muffins and waffles. They are even easier to make and quicker. I have a easy recipe for bread right here. It requires little of your time, if you are working full time it is still possible to do this method of baking.
  • I also always make my own yoghurt. It is the easiest thing you will ever do and it really saves you a lot of cash. Yoghurt in this country is seriously overpriced for whatever reason, I don’t know. But I have started to make my own, since we use it in smoothies everyday or for breakfast with muesli.
  • Every morning my beautiful husband makes all of us a breakfast smoothie (this is were a blender comes in handy). The basic recipe is: yoghurt, kefir, banana, oats, almonds, flaxseed oil, LSA mix and honey. He will add different fruits everyday to keep it exciting. But the basic recipe stays the same.
  • We eat meat maybe 3x a week and often in a casserole or pasta sauce. When making pasta sauce I will make enough to also use it for a lasagna and to make soup. I will always add sprouted lentils and beans to the sauce for extra nutrition.

Of course there will be other things I also cook, but I guess these items will be eaten on a weekly basis. It keeps my life simple and my budget at a reasonable limit. I hope this post may have inspired you to do some more cooking from scratch. You can be as creative as you want to be or just keep it plain and simple.

Happy cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 2

As promised, part 2 of the topic “wisdom from my kitchen pantry”.

Previously we discussed the principle of buying in bulk, online and direct from the farmer. This really helps not only your wallet, but it also supports the local farmers who work so hard to make a living. So, now that we have stocked our pantry, what do I do with all this food????

Here is a list of kitchen equipment i use for food preparation, I simply can’t live without them:

I have had my slow cooker for many years now. I bought it when we had our first child. It made life so much easier. You simply throw a whole bunch of ingredients in there, let it cook for 8 or so hours and away you go. BRILLIANT invention. It makes so much, that you can freeze half for the following weeks menu. AWESOME!

My Thermomix entered our family about 18 months ago. This machine is capable of anything. If you don’t believe me google it. In my Thermomix I make yoghurt, for example,  or ice cream. I knead all my bread dough in it too. Every morning we make smoothies in it. And at night I cook a meal in it. If you don’t have a Thermomix, don’t worry, you can get a lot of use out of a blender or food processor. I do believe that 1 of those items is a must in a healthy kitchen.

Of course we all have an oven! I hope…..I almost use it daily for baking. Or to keep my culturing yoghurt warm.

So, if you have access to those 3 items, than you have a very well equipped kitchen.

In the last part of this topic I will share with you a few meals we like to enjoy with our pantry items. Stay tuned!

 

 

A word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry – part 1

I promised you in my last post a word of wisdom from my kitchen pantry. I hope that all you ladies have enjoyed my previous post in regards to the laundry room and that you have been able to implement some of those ideas into your own laundry-life.

Today I will share with you, in part 1 of this topic,  how I manage my kitchen, my food supply and how this might lower your household budget.

I really need to stress the point, that in our house we have decided a long time ago to live healthy by making healthy food choices. This can look very different in your life as there are so many different ways in which a healthy lifestyle can be defined.

A healthy lifestyle for us pretty much looks like this:

  • No processed foods
  • No refined sugar
  • No additives

For me that makes buying food real easy, because everything I buy will be a basic ingredient or fresh produce. I cook everything from scratch with the advantage of knowing what is in the food that I feed my family.

Alright, having said that, here is how I shop:

  • I shop once a month for all my non-perishables, such as canned tomatoes, coconut milk, dried beans etc.
  • I buy in bulk,  all flours, oats, seeds and spices
  • I am part of a fruit and vegetable co-op
  • I buy fresh milk once a week from the farm
  • I buy meat every 3 months from a cattle farmer
  • And, once my chicken starts laying (aaargh) I will have access to free eggs

Have you noticed how I have not set foot in Coles or Woollies? Most of my ingredients I buy come from online independent stores. Some of them even offer free postage. By not shopping at the supermarket, you will never be tempted by their clever marketing ploys to influence you into buy more than you need and buying foods you don’t need. You will also be voting with your wallet and showing support to the little guys by shopping elsewhere.

There are several online spice stores, here is a list:

For meat I go to:

With our grocery budget we have to feed 5 people. I try to stay under $160 a week. If you don’t care about organic grass fed meat or healthy alternative natural sweeteners, than you can even do it for less. $115 is allocated to meat, fruit and vegetables. The rest is spent on flour, dairy, beans, natural sweeteners etc.

Now that you know my shopping habit, I hope I have inspired you into looking at grocery shopping from a different perspective. I know, not all of you will be able to employ this way of buying, simply because you are on your own, perhaps you have only a small family and buying bulk is not an option. Can I just suggest to you, the idea of buying bulk with friends?

In part 2 I will explain a few things about the appliances I have a love relationship with and help me be an effective cook.

 

 

 

 

 

The perfect crust……EVERY time!

A deliciously easy home made breakfast. Yoghurt, granola and bread.

 

Before kids,  I would always laugh at these mums who would bake muffins and scones for their morning tea parties or for the school canteen. In my opinion there were better things to do than bake your own goods, it was too fifties housewife for me…..mind you I was in my mid twenties at the time, so you can forgive me for thinking this.

Nowadays, I loathe at the thought of having to hop in the car, kids in tow, to buy a set of scones from the bakery for an exorbitant amount of money. Really, it is only milk, flour and butter. Who doesn’t have those items in the pantry?? Truth be told, before kids I didn’t have flour in my cupboard, EVER, because I simply didn’t know what to do with it. Now I do, I buy 25 kilo bags of flour and I bake everything myself from bread to cinnamon scrolls and English muffins. No scones, just not a huge fan ;-). Oh and I still don’t bake for the school canteen either! 😉

Let me share with you the easiest method of baking bread. I read it in a book called “Artisan bread in 5 minutes a day”. Before reading this book I had been making bread for a while and although I have a very powerful kneading machine, I still found it laborious having to make the dough daily and letting it rise. It was taking up to much time for me. So in this book I read that you can make an entire batch of dough, enough for 8 loaves and leave it in the fridge for at least 10 days. How BRILLIANT!

So here is the recipe, feel free to half it. This recipe makes 8 loaves.

  • 6 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp of salt
  • 3 tbsp of yeast OR 3 cups of sourdough starter
  • 13 cups of bakers flour

You can mix your flours (no need to knead), for example 8 cups of wholemeal and 5 cups of white bakers flour. Or you can do 7 cups wholemeal, 5 cups white and 1 cup of seeds and grains. It is really flexible and this recipe works with your tastes and preferences.

In a big bowl mix all ingredients together, give it a 45 minute rise and then put in in the fridge. When you want to bake a loaf you remove a ball of dough from the container. Be warned, the dough is sticky, so make sure to sprinkle it with flour before you try to take it out of the container. Shape the dough in a boulle shape (round) or in any other shape you want. When baking, put the loaf on a floured baking stone in a 180C oven for 30 minutes or so. For the perfect crumb and crust, place a bowl of water in the oven with the bread. The steam will work wonders.

Let me know how you go. x

 

Real Stock, Fake Stock

Today I had a cooking lesson with my 6 1/2 year old son, who is enjoying his school holidays at the moment. It’s always a challenge to find new and fun things to do, so today I came up with the brilliant idea to show him how to cook real stock from a real chicken. His dad recently had the guts to purchase a 500 ml. packet of Campbell’s Real Stock, which I aptly call FAKE STOCK. I obviously was not in the country at the time of his purchase, if I was this travesty would never have occured!

The easiest and most inexpensive way of making the most nutritious chicken stock, is by slowly boiling a whole chicken in a large stockpot or slow cooker for 24 hours. Add some celery, lovage, onion and carrots as well as 2 tbsp of vinegar and you are ready to go. To put into perspective the cost of homemade stock compared to store bought stock, I went and looked up the price for you to show what an overpriced article this is.

Store-bought stock 1 liter $4.24

Home made stock 1 liter $1.68

I have made stock for as long as I have had my slow cooker (which is long), but I never realised how incredibly nutritious this really is, until I read a book called; “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon.

In her book she explains;

“Properly prepared, meat stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate”.  “Acidic wine or vinegar added during cooking helps to draw minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium into the broth”.

Wow, if that isn’t enough reason to make your own, lets have a look at the gelatin in your homemade broth.

Sally writes:

“The public is generally unaware of the large amounts of research on the beneficial effects of gelatin taken with food. Gelatin acts first and foremost as an aid to digestion and has been successfully used in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including hyperacidity, colitis and Crohn’s disease.”

“Gelatin also seems to be of use in the treatment of many chronic disorders, including anemia and other diseases of the blood, diabetes, muscular dystrophy and even cancer.”

So, a quick recap on how to make this AMAZING healing miracle broth:

  • In a stockpot or slow cooker, put a whole chicken, chicken neck and even feet, if available.
  • Add celery, lovage (if you have it) 3 carrots, 1 onion and 2 tbsp of vinegar.
  • Cover with 3 to 4 liters of water.
  • let simmer for 3 or so hours and remove the meat from the bones.
  • Keep the meat for another dish.
  • Leave the bones and vegetables in the pot and simmer for another 20 hours or so.
  • Drain the stock into a glass jar and let cool before putting into the fridge. It will turn into a jelly like substance, this is what REAL stock is.
  • If you have a dog you can give the bones and veggies to the dog. Because the bones have been cooked for so long they will fall apart.
  • Campbell’s stock is not REAL stock, simply because it is a liquid and not a gelatin like substance, don’t get sucked in, do yourself a favour and make it in your own kitchen. Super simple and super yummy!