Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Easy Peasy & Ham Soup

Hi everyone, still not much happening on the crafty front so I'm back with a recipe.
As a child I was a fairly fussy eater or so I was told, but on reflection I don't know that I was that fussy, its just that I didn't like the foods that were served up to us. A lot of the foods that I like now are ones that my mum didn't like so they weren't on the menu, in particular salads. Even the cooked foods I like now I didn't like then because they were cooked to within an inch of their life so   they tasted horrid(I'm gagging as I write).
One of the things I didn't eat as a kid was soup. Even as an adult I wasn't a big fan, until my eldest daughter Cherry (who by the way isn't a fussy eater) made Minestrone (or as we call it Mine Strone) soup at school. She came home very excited and insisted on making because it was so yummy and she was sure I would like it. I had my reservations but she made the soup, I loved it and the love affair with soup began. I started looking at soup in a whole new light, now realising that there were so many options out there other than  Mum's vegetable soup with its favour dominated by onion and celery or my Mother-in-laws goopy split pea soup.
Soup has now become a winter staple in our house though hubby doesn't eat it (I think he was scarred for life by the split pea soup). I like to make a big batch and have it in the fridge or freezer for a quick easy lunch and it's great to take hot to the footy/netball in a vacuum flask.
This particular recipe was inspired by one of my best friends Gabby. I was visiting her a couple of weeks ago when she was making soup. She had been wanting to make pea and ham soup but there must have been a world shortage of split peas as she hadn't been able to get them anywhere, so she decided to try substituting red lentils. The soup was pretty good but
when I left her place I had made up my mind to make pea and ham soup, split peas or no split peas. I hadn't made pea & ham soup before but I couldn't see any reason why frozen peas wouldn't do the job, so I bought a packet and a ham hock. A few minutes prep, a couple of hours cooking and 'Easy Peasy & Ham Soup' was ready to eat. 
1 kg frozen peas
1 ham hock
1 medium onion (diced)
salt & pepper
Note: I like to peel the skin off  the ham hock so the favour of the soup isn't too smoky.

Sauté the onion in a little oil over a medium heat in a saucepan large enough to fit your ham hock. When the onion is translucent added the ham hock, frozen peas and enough water to cover the hock, or at least nearly cover it. Note: The more water you add the thinner your soup will be.
Bring the soup to the boil, then turn down to a simmer and put a lid on the saucepan. Leave to simmer for about 2 hours. You may need to turn the ham hock over every so often if it isn't completely covered. Once the meat is starting to fall off the bone, take the hock out of the soup, remove the meat from the bone and cut into pieces.
Blend the peas, until smooth either in a blender or I use a stick blender in the saucepan. Add the ham back into the soup, season with salt & pepper to taste (if needed) and it's ready.
I like to add a few chilli flakes for an added little kick, and because of my wheat allergy, I quite often serve my soups with corn chips, instead of bread, they add a nice contrasting crunch.
If you want "comfort" in a bowl, make a mash of potato, sweet potato, creamed corn and cheese and add a big dollop of it to your soup with little extra grated cheese. This is soooooooo good I can't even describe it. YUMMO.  
There you have it an easy winter warmer, and if you wanted to make a quicker version just use some diced smoky bacon instead of the ham hock. I'm sure it would be just as delicious.
Make, eat & enjoy, until next time

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Lotsa Good Stuff Happening

I've had a very satisfying week. You know one of those weeks where there's been lots of stuff happening and it's all been good stuff.
MONDAY I started this online course.
I have been following Pip Lincolne's blog Meet Me At Mikes for quite some time and love her style so when she offered an online course on blogging I signed up to do it. Fortunately it is a 'work at your own pace' course because other stuff has been taking up my time over the last week. I have been following most on the posts on the Facebook page and have watch a couple of Pip's video tutorials which are really helpful. I'm hoping to get stuck into it this week. If you're interested in starting a blog or feel like you need to learn more Pip is running a another course in July. 
MONDAY EVENING & TUESDAY I did some Raw Food workshops with Cat Canizzaro from Wildraw.  Cat is one of Australia's leading raw(as in uncooked) food gourmet chefs and just happened to grow up with one of my best friends, Marita. We were very lucky that Marita was able to organise for Cat do the workshops in Corryong while she was in Victoria.
On the Monday evening we made chocolates
Healthy, good for you, delicious chocolates, salted caramels and peppermint creams. Lucky for me Ross doesn't like dark chocolate so I don't have to share. I have been rationing myself to only a couple a day to make them last but I think I only have one left. I have bought the ingredients to make some more when I have time
On Tuesday morning we made Puttenesca Zucchini Pasta and Mushroom Kelp Noodles.

The Puttenesca was beautiful and apart from not being hot, tasted just like the real thing. I don't like mushrooms so I tried the kelp noodles with just some tamari & sesame oil. They were nice too & very good for you so I think I will start substituting them from rice noodles.
Tuesday afternoon was desserts and other sweet treats, my favourite part.
We made Banana Avocado Mousse with Coconut Cream, Chia Pudding, Chocolate tart and Chocolate Nut Balls from the leftover tart base. Everything was soooooo yummy,especially the tart, it was hard to believe they were good for you as well.
Cat was great fun and so full of information about nutrition as well as chefy stuff. She will be back in Victoria for more workshops/classes in later in the year, so if you're interested keep an eye on her website Wildraw or you can 'Like' her on Facebook.  The recipes are available on the website too and Pete Evans' new cook book 'Healthy Every Day' includes Cat recipe for Lemon Lime Cheesecake and she has inspired a couple of others recipes in the book as well. 
WEDNESDAY wasn't quite so full on but we did have a farewell lunch at the local Neighbourhood Centre for one our committee members who is moving to Wangaratta. I am the self appointed cake/dessert maker for these events so having been inspired by the healthy nutritious food from previous 2 days I decided to bake my Innocent Chocolate Almond Cake (no, it isn't raw)and to go with it, a Raspberry Sauce & Coconut Cream.
Forgive the inelegant foodie photo but you get the idea. I came up with this cake recipe (which I will share in another post) about 12 months ago even before I found out I have a wheat allergy. There is no sugar, dairy or flour in it but it is delish and has become a family favourite. The raspberry sauce and coconut cream added a nice touch of healthy decadence and went down a treat.
THURSDAY this arrived.
Those of you who live in Australia know what a horrid summer we had. It was very hot for a long time and here in North East Victoria we had an unusual lack of spring and autumn rain (until about 6 weeks ago). We are on town water but we don't have great pressure and we have an acre of garden to keep alive. 5 years ago we cleaned out our dam, made it a bit bigger and diverted all our rainwater from the house and shed into it so that we could use it on the garden through the summer. This has served us well up until this year when we were pumping water for the garden twice a day for most of January. The dam got fairly low (we like to keep some water in reserve in case of bush fire) and we ended up with a scary water bill as well. At the end of summer Ross and I had tossed around the idea of putting in a bore for more water.
At the football on Saturday a week ago Ross found out the drillers were going to be in town. A phone call & an internet application on the Monday and they arrived 7am Thursday to start drilling. Ross is a "get things done' kinda fella but this was ridiculous. 

 They were set up and drilling by 8.30am and hit water at 25 metres in the afternoon.
FRIDAY They kept drilling down to 72 metres to improved the water flow/supply. I spent a lot of time watching the process and marvelling at what they can do with machines these days. Once upon a time it would have been very labour intensive but now days I could almost do it(with a bit of training of course). I was glad when they stopped though because while the noise wasn't too loud in the house it was annoying enough to make it hard to concentrate. They were packed up & ready to go home by 4pm that afternoon.
We were left with a muddy mess to clean up and a bit of polypipe sticking out of the ground. Not much to show for the money but the garden will be ever so grateful in the years to come & so will I.
I had to include this photo of our little lady, Lulu, who spent the whole time wandering between the house and the drilling site for the 2 days. The autumn leaves are so pretty on the ground too.
SATURDAY was spent at the football/netball where I assist the netball coach and umpire the 'A' grade game.
SATURDAY EVENING Ross & I went to his High School class reunion.
The photos were taken in individual classes. This is the 'C' class, Ross is hidden up the back on left.
It was a great night. Even though I wasn't in this class at school I was friends with most them so it was great to catch up, reminisce, have a few laughs and dance the night away. Fell into bed at 2am.
SUNDAY  I woke at 6. Technically that's a sleep in for me but 4 hours isn't really enough sleep so I declared it a 'sloth day'. A do nothing day, a bit of TV and a 2 hour 'nanna nap' in the afternoon.
There you go a great week don't you think? The only draw back with such a full week is that Bernina is feeling a bit neglected and I am missing working with her. Well, we will be back together pumping out some good crafty stuff pretty soon.
I hope to be back in the next couple of days with some recipes so stay tuned. Until then
PS. I found this amusing; I was spell checking my blog post and it doesn't recognise blog or blogging as a word. Hehe.
PPS. I am also on Facebook and Instagram if you would like to follow me there as well.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Apple Sultana Walnut Cake

Hi everyone, yes I know you don't hear from me for over a month and now I'm back again already. That's what can happened once you don't have time lines you have to work to. I don't know about you but I find I'm happier, more motivated and productive if I can go with my own flow.
This time last year I had some allergy testing done and the result was I discovered I'm allergic to wheat (but not gluten) and soy and have a sensitivity to a couple of other things as well. I don't have any major reaction to these things, it just upsets my immune system. So occasionally I still eat REALLY GOOD cake, my home made hot cross buns or nice wholesome bread. I do have a sweet tooth though and I love to bake so I try and adapt recipes to be wheat or gluten free and fairly healthy. I have even invented a few of my own recipes along the way which I will share with you in the future.
This morning I discovered these less than appetising fellas at the bottom of the fruit bowl so I decided they needed to go into a cake.
An apple, sultana & walnut cake to be exact. It is a beautiful, moist & gutsy cake, my favourite kind. The original recipe came from a newspaper and I have adapted it to be wheat free. I also cut down on the sugar to make it healthier as it was very sweet anyway. 
½ cup mild tasting oil (or melted butter)
½ cup brown sugar
2 eggs (lightly beaten) 
1 cup almond meal
1 cup rye flour
1 teasp bicarb soda
1 teasp cinnamon
1 teasp nutmeg
1 teasp mixed spice
150g (5oz) sultanas
60g (2oz) chopped walnuts
2 apples (peeled & diced)

Mixed together the oil, sugar and eggs in a jug or small bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients except 30g of the walnuts (these will be used on top later) in a large bowl and add the wet ingredients. Mix well and add a little water if you need to. Spread the mixture in a greased 22cm (9") round cake tin with a piece of baking paper in the bottom and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the reserved walnuts and bake in a moderate oven for approximately 45mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. 

*If you want to make this gluten free just replace the rye flour with a gluten free alternative.
**If you don't have any allergies replace the almond meal & rye flour with1¾ cups of plain flour.
***If you're feeling a little naughty and you want to put icing on the cake this Brown Sugar Frosting goes very nicely with it.

Hope you enjoy making and eating this cake, it is delish. Until next time toodles. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Yay It's May

Phew I'm glad April is over. I'm not one to wish my life away but I'm glad that I can get back to doing what I like without time constraints.........
Or so I thought when I started writing this post 10 days ago. I started writing quite a lengthy review of April's activities which I was going to do in parts when I got half way through the first part and it disappeared. I started over again but it was taking too long so now a quicker review in point form with photos all in one post.

Man From Snowy River Festival:
For various reasons I didn't end up participating in, looking at or watching anything at the Festival but if you want to see some great photos go to Great Art Photos.

30th Anniversary Getaway:
Ross and I don't usually make much of a fuss about our anniversary but we thought 30 years was pretty significant so decided have a few days away. We headed to Narooma on the south coast of NSW(New South Wales, Australia) on the Monday, down the coast to Lakes Entrance in Victoria on the Tuesday, across to Melbourne on Wednesday and home Friday.

Narooma, Mallacoota, Mumbulla Creek Falls, Lakes Entrance
Australia Quilt Convention:
The whole reason for heading to Melbourne was for this quilt show. I haven't been for a couple of years and this year it was fun to take my daughter, Heidi, along as a new patchworker. Heidi has been to quilt shows with me before but this time with different eyes, not just looking at the lovely quilts but analysing how they are made and different techniques.
A few of my favourites

And a few more

Another favourite(loved the textures & techniques), newbie taking reference photo(makes her a real quilter), newbie with her very own large cutting mat and my purchases.

Easter is usually spent camping, 4 wheel driving, motorbike riding and various other activities with Ross' family. This year our base camp was on the banks of the Murray River only about 10 minutes from town.
Camp activity, relaxing, reading, cooking, colouring in for the young adults with the 3 year old, who has lost interest.

A drive to the beautiful Budong Falls
Lower Budong Falls looking up
Lower Budong Falls looking down
And of course Easter always includes making heaps of these, about 5 or 6 dozen Hot Cross Buns. If you would like the recipe it is on Heidi's blog, Hide and Go Cook.

Women on Farms Gathering:
This event ran pretty smoothly and was a great success thanks to the organising commitee and volunteers.

The 30cm square patch I designed and made as our contribution to the perpetual banner.

The patch on the banner.
Some of my quilts on display in hall.
Instructing a workshop on Kudusama flowers and other paper folding.
Getting our garden ready for the gardens tour was the most time consuming activity for the month and I forgot to take any photos while the women were visiting. Oh well, they had a lovely time.

So that's it for April, busy though it was, it was full of fun and overall it was a great month. Now it's back to "normal".
I'm hoping to be back really soon so until then toodles.