Two very different nuts

I was just looking back through my photos to pull some together for this post, and realised how over winter I am – it’s been very cold and rainy here the past few weeks, and I had a horrible cold on top of that (coughing + baby in belly = uncomfortable!), so although I am normally someone who doesn’t mind the cold weather, I am definitely keen for some warmth, longer days, summery food and hopefully less rain so my garden actually gets a bit of a chance to grow!! Anyway, that’s my random end of winter rant over :-)

I did some planting a few weeks ago, of tomatoes, peas, red cabbage, english spinach and broad beans – the rain has probably not helped their ability to thrive, but I can report that there appears to be shoots of all of them, which is positive, so there will be more to report on over the next few months!

In older garden news, let me tell you about peanuts!! More specifically, growing them!

Peanuts
As you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I am very much an experimental and haphazard gardener, who likes to plant things to see how they work in a small space, sometimes with great success (cucumbers, tomatoes, I can sense another good summer for you guys!), sometimes with sad results (corn, broccoli, one day I will conquer you!). Peanuts fit somewhere in between these two camps – they were a success, but a limited success, because the yield wasn’t high, but then the effort put in wasn’t high either, so I think it’s ultimately a win!

Now, I helpfully didn’t record when I planted these peanuts, because it was back in the days when I was a bit sloppier about my recording dates. However, I would guesstimate that it was sometime between October and December, as these photos were taken in January and February respectively, and the plant is clearly already quite advanced!

January peanut plant

January peanut plant


February peanut plant

February peanut plant

I then harvested the little guys in June. So, it’s a long slow process to get peanuts. However, the thing I like about peanuts is you just let them grow, no real intervention required!! The plants grow, then form little yellow flowers, which then drop into the earth and burrow down to create the nuts – how cool is that!! The nuts themselves actually grow under the soil, on the roots, and you know when they’re ready, because the plant at the top dies!! Finally, a positive spin on plant death!

Peanuts still attached to roots in soil

The dead plant at the top, soil and peanuts at the bottom!

You then shake the whole thing out of the pot, and sift through to find, voila, peanuts!!

Soil, with peanuts!

Soil, with peanuts!


Peanuts loosed from their soily home!

Peanuts loosed from their soily home!

When I initially bought a ready grown peanut plant a few years ago, the success of which inspired me to plant my own, the vendor helpfully advised that you shouldn’t eat the peanuts straight away once you harvest them, you should leave them to dry out for a couple of weeks, as there is some residual toxicity going on that you want to avoid! So, I dutifully put my small crop of peanuts in a container in a sunny spot in our kitchen for the past couple of months, and am now slowly nibbling my way through them, making them last as they are so few!

Peanuts in container - still soily!

Peanuts in container – still soily!


Peanuts in their shell - see, actual peanuts!

Peanuts in their shell – see, actual peanuts!


Peanut after a bite - not roasted or salted, just raw and fresh!

Peanut after a bite – not roasted or salted, just raw and fresh!

Summary – peanuts are a fun plant to grow, in that it looks pretty, is very low maintenance, and is fun to harvest, but unless you plant acres worth of them, you won’t be making homemade peanut butter anytime soon! In hindsight, there are probably some things you can do to ensure more flowers grow, leading to more peanuts, but I don’t think that would have dramatically increased my crop to the point of making my own peanut butter, which would really be the ultimate goal!

The other nut – coconut
No, I haven’t decided to grow coconuts, even I, with my spatial awareness issues, am aware that a palm tree won’t work in our suburban backyard!! However, I did receive a free 1L sample of Pure Harvest Coco Quench coconut milk, which I thought I’d review for you here. I don’t tend to go in for dairy alternatives, mainly because I don’t have to, I tolerate (and in fact adore) traditional cow’s milk dairy very well, and therefore don’t really need to adjust my taste buds to the other types. I have dabbled in almond milk with cooking, and liked it, but still sometimes find non-dairy milks a little intensely flavoured compared to what I’m used to when milk is the focus of the dish like coffee or cereal. However, in the event that the bun in my oven isn’t so accommodating of dairy, and I need to cut out dairy for a while while breastfeeding, it is good to consider how I will continue to enjoy my breakfasts without regular milk!!

So, when we ran out of milk the other day, I decided to give the coconut milk a whirl. I used it in my porridge for around 4 days, in my coffee and in one of my late night cereal snacks (bub gets hungry in the middle of the night!). I found that I could taste it in my coffee and cereal, and while not unpleasant, as it is quite a nice flavour, it would probably take a bit of getting used to if I was to use it full time. However, in my porridge, although the consistency looked a bit different (see below), it tasted almost the same, which is positive for me, as it means it functions well as a replacement for my warm breakfasts, and is likely to be able to be adapted to other breakfasts as well.

Coconut milk porridge cooking - the consistency looks a bit more watery than with regular milk, but it still cooks up fine!

Coconut milk porridge cooking – the consistency looks a bit more watery than with regular milk, but it still cooks up fine!

So, on the whole, a thumbs up from me – it is easy to use, store in the fridge like normal milk in a carton, shake before use and away you go!

Recent eats and garden update

Hello my lovelies,

I will get around to posting about my peanuts, once I get around to eating them – when you only produce a handful of them, you want to savour them appropriately! I’ve also realised that I don’t necessarily need to wait for something big to update you on, I can also do some more random updates on the bits and pieces going on in my life – let me know if you’re happy to read those as well, or what you would prefer!

However, despite my extreme laziness in the garden of late, there are developments to share with you! I have found that one of my tomato plants is currently defying the laws of nature and gravity, which I always like to commend! I’m of the ‘perhaps if I leave that almost dead looking plant for a few weeks/months something interesting might happen’ school of gardening, as you never know when a plant might suddenly spring back to life – my herbs frequently do this! So at the end of the tomato season a few months ago, I did pull out some obviously dead plants, but left this one because there were still a few green shoots. Recently, I noticed that while the bottom of the plant appears dead, the top of the plant hasn’t noticed, and is blithely growing flowers for new tomatoes, even though it’s on a very odd angle! This is why I love nature!! We’ll see how these tomatoes go …

See, the base of the plant appears dead, however new life continues to spring!

See, the base of the plant appears dead, however new life continues to spring!


A closer look at the impressive tomato flowers, defying the odds!

A closer look at the impressive tomato flowers, defying the odds!

Also, my pea plants are going well, growing up tall and hopefully will have pea pods to show you soon, but here is the plant in the meantime:

Pea plants in progress

Pea plants in progress

I also overcame my laziness (I blame a combo of questionable weather, general busyness and the fact that my increasing baby bump makes it harder to lean over!) in my winter planting yesterday. My compost has actually been going wonderfully well – full of worms, which I take to be a good sign of decomposition and general compost health!! So, yesterday I planted some more tomatoes, some broad beans, some English spinach, and some red cabbage – I still don’t know why the red cabbage didn’t grow at all a few months ago, so if that happens again, I’d say it’s the seeds, but we’ll see how these new crops go!

In food news, I have been enjoying my EasiYo yogurt so very much for breakfasts! In my usual porridge, on muesli in the warmer weather we had last week, as an afternoon snack, and on the weekend, I made myself a lovely plate of French toast, served with homemade yogurt, defrosted berries and maple syrup – it looks like a cafe meal, if I do say so myself!!

Cafe-ready French toast!

Cafe-ready French toast!

And last week I made an experimental salad that turned out wonderfully well – I poached some chicken thighs in some society garlic, peppercorns and parley, cooked some quinoa in chicken stock, roasted some pumpkin, and then all combined these with some rocket, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and homemade beetroot relish (which is awesome, by the way – canned or fresh beetroot, diced, with 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, bring to the boil then simmer until it’s nice and relishy looking and tastes tart but not too strong – it keeps in the fridge for ages and I add it to everything!) All the flavours went so well together, it was super yummy – apologies for slightly blurry photo, I will endeavour to stop taking photos like a guerilla and actually take time to take them properly!! And the good thing about poaching the chicken was that it created plenty of stock for me to freeze for future soups and stews!

Awesome chicken and quinoa salad!

Awesome chicken and quinoa salad!

So, that’s what’s been happening in my growing, cooking and freezing world of late!

Peanut butter goodness

I have two posts planned on my love of the peanut – this one will focus on an awesome cookie I made recently, whereas the next one will focus on the fun to be had growing peanuts yourself! Not enough to make peanut butter, though, which is my great love …

A few weeks ago, I decided that a more beneficial way of satisfying my love of all things cookie and sweet (usual, but even more so during pregnancy, I must say, although that’s perhaps because I try and justify it by saying the baby wants it … :-) was to make some yummy cookies myself, to try and combat the high levels of crap found in commercially sold/available in my work kitchen options.

Now, there is sometimes a big debate in Australia about the difference between cookies and biscuits, largely based on the Americanisation of our language etc, and some people use these terms interchangeabley. In my view, biscuits are harder, and made for Anzacs (it is not an Anzac cookie, people, it’s an Anzac biscuit, made to travel long distances and survive!) and/or by Arnott’s in large packs and found frequently at workplaces. Cookies, however, are softer, often a bit sweeter, American in origin, and made by Subway/cafes/lots of bloggers. I feel that a choc chip biscuit can be nice, but a choc chip cookie can be even nicer, as it is softer and chewier, and if I’m buying from a cafe or similar, then it’s a cookie, whereas if it’s served at a work morning tea, it’s likely to be a biscuit. However, sometimes it just depends on how long you cook it for, I have often planned to make cookies and ended up with biscuits!! So it’s not a hard and fast rule, but these are definitely cookies – chewy, soft and oh so yummy!

The recipe below is truly wonderful, so much so that my husband wolfed many of them down and said that I could make these anytime I like (high praise indeed!) They also lasted surprisingly well, probably because it’s colder weather – I made them on Sunday, and they kept in an airtight container until Friday (not many of them, due to our high incidence of eating them!), so I didn’t have to freeze them as I had thought I might, although as I plan to make them again this weekend, I might make a double batch and freeze them just so we have them available longer!!

I really love peanut butter – I love it on toast, I love it with crackers, I love it flavouring things, I think it gives a lovely sweet/salty tang to sweet things that I very much appreciate. I must say, I haven’t yet gotten on the alternate nut butter (almond, sunflower etc) bandwagon – I like almonds, but didn’t really like the almond butter I tried, so I might need to try it again, or just continue to enjoy my love affair with peanut butter! I also love it with chocolate – those Reese’s people know what they’re doing! Therefore, I wanted to bake a cookie that would have both peanut butter flavouring and choc chips, and voila! These are not necessarily the healthiest thing, but in moderation, a very welcome addition to our eating! I made these in my Mix Master, which worked well for a properly mixed cookie dough – just had to try and stop myself from eating too much raw cookie dough, darn raw egg restrictions!

I found this recipe on the lovely vegan blog Oh She Glows, because I really like her recipes, but as I am not vegan, and wanted to use ingredients we had around the house, I have adapted it – here is the link to the original if you’re interested – http://ohsheglows.com/2012/12/05/crispy-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies-vegan-gluten-free/

Peanut Butter chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients
1 egg
1/4 cup butter or margarine (45g)
1/4 cup peanut butter (70g)
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar (135g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 cup rolled oats(105g)
1 cup +2 tbsp almond flour or meal (I had almond meal, so used that – you can grind your own almonds if you feel the great urge, I didn’t!)
1/3 cup chocolate chips, dark or milk would work fine

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
2. With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer (ie my lovely Mix Master), beat the buttery spread and peanut butter until combined. Add sugar and beat for 1 minute more. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
3. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients (baking soda, baking powder, salt, oats, and almond flour) one by one. If your dough is dry (this could be the case if too much flour is used), you can add a touch of milk to thin it out. Fold in chocolate chips.
4. Shape 1-inch balls of dough (smaller than golf balls) and place on the baking sheet. If chocolate chips aren’t sticking to the dough, just press them in with your fingers. There is no need to flatten the balls as the cookies spread out a lot. Place balls 2-3 inches apart.
5. Bake for about 11-13 minutes (I baked for 12 mins) until lightly golden. The underside will also be a rich golden brown shade. The cookies will be very soft coming out of the oven, but they will harden as they cool.
6. Allow to cool for 5-10 mins. on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle cookies with flaked sea salt to bring out the peanut butter flavour even more (which I forgot to do, but might do this time!)
7. Enjoy!! They should last for almost a week in an airtight container, or should freeze very well.

Here is the one photo I remembered to take before they were all gone – as you can see, I only allowed myself to bring one to work as a post-lunch hit of sweetness, it’s all about portion control over here or else I would scarf the lot!!

Peanut butter choc chip cookie

Peanut butter choc chip cookie goodness!

Enjoy!

Yo yo yogurt!!

In my continuing quest to be more organised, be more organic and save money, I spent Sunday afternoon creating food for the week – something very cathartic about having snacks and meals ready to go!

I baked bread (using our lovely bread maker and a soy and linseed packet mix), made meatloaf for dinner for Sun and Mon nights (see photos below – super yummy!):

Meatloaf

Meatloaf!!


A hearty winter dinner!

A hearty winter dinner!


made some chia seed puddings, made some awesome peanut butter and choc chip cookies (will post on those soon!), and then also made yogurt!! I was very proud of my industrious self!

Everything else seems pretty standard in terms of food prep, but making yogurt? How does one do that, I hear you ask?

Making yogurt
Well, I am a believer in synchronicity and signs – one of my friends Carolyn had posted recently on FB about making her own yogurt using the EasiYo system, and I was intrigued. Then, when I was perusing a webpage about money-saving tips (always enjoy thrifty tips!), someone else commented about EasiYo and how cost effective (and easy!) it was!!

I looked it up online, and although you could order the system online for extra shipping costs, you could also purchase them at various supermarkets like Big W or Woolworths, which made more economic sense (even though I love online shopping so much so that the Australia Post guy knows me now!) So, Sunday arvo, after some awesome bargain baby clothes shopping (it’s all so very cute!! And even better when on sale, thankyou Gaia Organic and Baby Bonds!), my lovely husband and I forewent our usual IGA shop and instead visited the larger Woolworths which is further from our house.

We used to shop there weekly when we first moved here, but realised that we usually don’t need such a big shop, involving a bus trip back, as we get most of our fruit & veg from our organic box and smaller shops – also, Woolies on a Sunday late afternoon is a horrible place full of people similarly unhappy about shopping and the impending Monday!! However, we were there early enough on Sunday arvo for it not to be too bad.

This long ramble ends happily, as while I had planned on going to Woolies for the EasiYo purchase, I completely forgot about it once we were there(baby brain!), and thankfully my husband has an amazing memory for random things that I tell him, as he saw it, said ‘didn’t you want one of those?’, and voila, we got it! It’s also super cheap – the whole contraption is less than $20, and sachets of the yogurt stuff is only around $3.50 a pop!

It was very easy to use – you just put some water in the canister, add the sachet of yogurt mix (I chose vanilla to start with), shake around, fill with more water, then put boiling water in the bigger container, put the canister in and put the lid on, and leave overnight! Out of the fridge, to allow the starter to create yogurt, you refrigerate it once yogurt has occurred.

I was sceptical, I must admit – I thought it either wouldn’t work, or would be very weird looking and tasting.

Monday morning, I opened it up, and there was yogurt!!

A bit mottled on the top (whey settling, methinks), but once you got down into it, it was lovely and creamy-looking.

The first spoonful of the goodness!

The first spoonful of the goodness!


A little bit further into the yogurty goodness!

A little bit further into the yogurty goodness!


And the taste? Awesome!! Just like the ones I usually eat, sweet, not too sweet, and quite a light texture!! The wheyey bit on the top also tasted great, nothing wrong there!
Stirred around

Stirred around


On my porridge, just like from the store - get in my belly!!

On my porridge, just like from the store – get in my belly!!

I had checked the pack to make sure I wasn’t getting too much extra sugar, and it ends up being the same as the other yogurt I get in terms of sugar and calories, and a bit better on calcium and fat! And for less than half the price – my 700g of organic goodness normally costs around $7, whereas I made 1kg for $3.50!!

Full canister of yum!

Full canister of yum!


Funky container to make yogurt!

Funky container to make yogurt!

It lasts 2 weeks in the fridge – EasiYo for the win!! And the real test – husband verdict (he was also quite sceptical) was “this is great, we should buy a second container to make plenty for us both to eat during the week!”

It comes in lots of other flavours, as well as natural, greek, and low fat – I have a sweet tooth, so enjoy the vanilla one, but will also experiment with the greek and natural. I also prefer to add my own fruit flavourings to things, and as I currently use this on my porridge, which already has plenty of fruit and flavour, this is a winner!! It is super easy in terms of mixing and leaving

So, there you go, not quite from scratch as I use their sachets (although I read that you can use milk powder and a bit of the leftover yogurt as a starter for a similar effect, will try that in the future too!), but definitely something homemade and cost effective that I would not have expected!!

A lovely pilaf

Frankly, the colder, darker and wetter weather has conspired to reduce my gardening interest and exploits. The beanstalk appears to be actually creating multiple beans at once (huzzah!), and the peas are shooting up cheerily, but apart from herbs that continue to party (thank you basil and mint!), and my need to harvest our peanuts (hopefully this weekend, photos and post to follow!), there is more going on in my kitchen than my garden, and I know that you all can’t wait too long without an update!!

An economic and time-saving tip from me, that you’ve probably noticed already in terms of my recipe suggestions – always make more of a meal than you need, so you can use it again!! I am also trying to make a Sunday soup for lunches during the week, and a Sunday night meal that can be used for a Monday night meal – nothing more relaxing than not having to cook every night, and knowing that you’ve got good healthy food available!! This recipe below even exceeded quantity expectations and powered on for Tuesday’s lunch as well, so even better!!

I also love a good one-pot wonder (more of them will follow as winter continues), as you can do the cleaning up while you wait for it to cook, then you can relax and watch Masterchef and assorted crime shows in peace :-)

I am in no way an expert on pilaf, and this recipe may distress foodies who make it far more authentically, but it’s flavourful, full of veggies, healthy and easy, so all big ticks in my book!! I love the sweetness of the currants with the savouryness of everything else. It originally came from a Taste.com recipe, but I’ve amped up the veggie quotient and enjoy it much more. And also, inexplicably, the original recipe suggests you roast the veggies, then bake the pilaf, then combine, when really, you could probably do both at once, as they cook for a similar time – we haven’t tried that yet, cos we only realise it after having completed the recipe (d’oh!), but I’m sure it would work out well, so let me know if you try it! So, you can probably do Step 2 before Step 1, and then Step 3 combines both.

I use a big casserole dish that can go on the stove and in the oven, so it is a two pan meal, one for roasting veggies, one for everything else!

Beef Pilaf
Serves 6-8ish, depending on how hungry you are!

Pilafy goodness

Pilafy goodness


Ingredients
250g punnet cherry tomatoes
1 eggplant, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mild curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
400g lean beef mince
1 cup SunRice Basmati Rice, well rinsed
2 1/2 cups reduced-salt chicken stock
1/4 cup currants
3 green onions, thinly sliced
A handful of baby spinach
Natural yogurt, to serve

Method
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini on tray. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil and season with pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tomatoes collapse.
2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large, heavy-based casserole over medium-high heat. Add curry powder, cumin, cinnamon and mince. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in rice.
3. Stir in stock and bring to the boil. Cover and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. (Can combine with Step 1).
4. Stir in tomatoes, currants, green onions and baby spinach. Cover and stand for 5 minutes.
5. Spoon into bowls. Serve with natural yogurt dotted on top, and enjoy!

Pilaf!

Pilaf!And yes, these photos are taken at work, I often forget to photograph when we eat for dinner, so you get to see my lovely work lunch space, ie my desk!


Pilaf, with yogurt added prior to eating!

Pilaf, with yogurt added prior to eating!


I also think this would freeze quite well, as it is quite moist, and can lend itself to whatever other veggies you feel like roasting together!

Perfect porridge

As the weather finally makes its peace with winter (and it is especially cold and rainy here at the moment!), I find myself moving away from my summer/autumn staple of muesli or overnight oats, and onto my favourite snuggly breakfast, porridge!! (Or as North American readers know it, oatmeal). I love the warmth and creaminess of porridge for breakfast – an ad a few years ago for a brand of oats described it like a warm hug, and I agree!!

There are many different ways of making this wonderful breakfast a reality. For me, I find that instant oats are a bit too sweet and not as filling for me to use, although that is how I started my love of porridge as a teenager. So, I make my porridge every morning, and really, it’s not as hard as it sounds, 15-20 minutes from go to whoa, the majority of that time not spent anywhere near the stove! I love stewed fruit on my porridge in the morning, so I make a large batch each weekend of whatever is in season or I’m enjoying (pears, apples, rhubarb, berries, prunes are an unfortunate but required addition of late!) and keep in the fridge.

I have taken lots of photos of the process to aid my explanations :-) I use a wooden spoon to stir, as I don’t like to scratch my nice saucepans!

Perfect porridge

This is mainly to explain how I do it and what I like – you can of course substitute any of the ingredients for your personal preference, experiment, it’s fun!

Ingredients
1/2 cup Rolled oats (not instant oats)
1/2 cup full cream milk
1/2 cup water
1/3-1/2 cup stewed fruit – I put enough to cover the bottom of the bowl, so it’s not a scientific measurement!
Vanilla yogurt – I used to add milk, but am preferring the creamier yogurt addition – again, add whatever you want!

Method
1. Place oats, milk and water in a saucepan. Feel free to add a bit more liquid if you like it a bit more liquid, I often add a few splashes extra of milk. This can of course work with no milk and only water, but I like the creaminess of milk.
2. Put saucepan onto a pretty low setting on the stove – you don’t want it to be simmering or bubbling, just gradually warming up and soaking, so you might need to experiment with your hotplates to work out which one works best at what temperature.

This is Step 1

This is Step 1

3. Wander off and do whatever you need to do – I do steps 1 and 2, then step into the shower and get dressed, and return approx 10-15 mins later depending on how slow I am, which is why you don’t want it bubbling or else it will burn. But it is perfectly safe to leave, it will be fine! The longer you leave it, the more liquid is absorbed, so it will cook quicker, but be less liquidy in the end product, so, again, work out what you prefer, and what you have time for – you don’t need to leave it at all, but it will take longer to cook, and I find that the oats aren’t really soft enough, so it can be kind of chewy if you don’t leave it warming for at least 5-10 mins.

After leaving for your preferred time period, it looks a little soaked, and is starting to steam a little.

After leaving for your preferred time period, it looks a little soaked, and is starting to steam a little.


4. When you’re ready, turn hot plate to high, and keep on high until porridge is bubbling – I like to have the bubbles come from the outside and meet in the middle, this usually takes around 1-2 mins.
Boiling up ...

Boiling up …

Now at optimal boiling point - stir and reduce heat!

Now at optimal boiling point – stir and reduce heat!


5. Stir, then turn back down to low (probably one notch lower than your original setting at step 2). Stir regularly.
6. Porridge may bubble up, just stir it down again.
Porridge while cooking away

Porridge while cooking away


7. Use the time while waiting for your porridge to finish cooking to get everything else ready for breakfast – I warm up my stewed fruit and get my coffee sorted. I also stir the porridge regularly, so I can see how it’s going.
Here is my stewed fruit, I warm it in the microwave for around 35 seconds as I like everyone to be hot when mixed together.

Here is my stewed fruit, I warm it in the microwave for around 35 seconds as I like everyone to be hot when mixed together.


Porridge is almost done - see milk around the side?

Porridge is almost done – see milk around the side?


8. Porridge is done when it’s at the consistency that you like – I like it creamy looking but without any obvious milk still hanging around.
This is how I like it, milk all evaporated!

This is how I like it, milk all evaporated!


9. Serve your porridge with whatever additions you like – I’ve been adding a bit of flax seed, a bit of All Bran, some cinnamon, and yogurt recently, but you can add nuts, cereal, sweet things like honey or brown sugar if you prefer – I find the sweetness of the stewed fruit enough for me nowadays!
The finished product!

The finished product!


10. Enjoy!!
And then I mix it all together to eat it - yummy!!

And then I mix it all together to eat it – yummy!!

So there you have it, my perfect porridge recipe! I also put the pan to soak after serving, just to ensure that it’s easy to wash at the end of the day (because I don’t do dishes in the morning!)

What do you like for winter breakfasts?

Peas and corn

Garden update
My gardening posts have been less of late, I know, and I apologise.

I blame a number of unrelated things:
– the finish of daylight savings (means it’s dark when I get home, so I don’t potter in the garden after work);
– some crappier weather on the weekends, which have made it harder to actually get into the garden and sort things out;
– when the weather has been nicer, we’ve been too busy for me to get to the garden before dark;
– general slackness ( I can blame the growing bub, but really, I’ve been feeling a lot better, it’s just me at this stage!) :-)

However, on the weekend, I finally got into the garden, weeded a few things (sorry daffodils, you’ve been surviving very well!), bid a final farewell to the corn (so big that I ended up putting it into our green waste for pick-up rather than into the compost!), and even actually planted something new – peas!! I had some success with peas last year, as in we got a few pods out before mildew set in, so I aim to have much more success this year, they’ll be against the wall, so once the shoots start up, then I’ll build some little teepees leading up to the string on the wall, and hopefully they’ll go for gold!!

Sadly, the red cabbage that I planted about a month ago has not actually grown :-( I think a combo of some wet weeks and weekends and colder weather confused it – I will try again, I am not daunted!!

Yummy recipe
As this is a bit of a random garden post, I thought I’d throw in a quick yummy weeknight recipe for you that we had last night – Mexican-style lasagne! (That’s what I’m calling it, anyway, the original recipe sounded more authentic, calling it ‘chilaquiles casserole’, but I think my description is better!! We love Tex-Mex things like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and it’s nice to have something vegetarian at least once a week!

I love using Pinterest to store recipes and other things that I might want to look at later, it’s like a virtual noticeboard! But I’m not really sure where I found this super-yummy recipe, potentially on a veggie site that I only visited the once – this is why I pin recipes for later, however, so that I can still enjoy them even when I’ve lost the original source!

We made some modifications based on ingredients we could get more easily, and also adapted from American measurements of ounces per can to the nearest Australian equivalent. In terms of condiments, I find it hard to eat Mexican without guacamole and some form of sour cream, but I have found that replacing the sour cream with plain or Greek yogurt works just as well!!

To make guacomole, peel and mash 1-2 avocadoes with some crushed garlic and lemon juice – the amount depends on how acidic you like it, so add a little and then more til it’s to your taste!

Mexican-style lasagne
Serves approx 6 (depends on how hungry your dining companion is – Jon had two servings last night, which reduced leftovers!)

Ingredients
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 x 400g tin black beans, drained, rinsed
1 x 400g tin corn (you can also use fresh or frozen), drained
1 x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
8-12 tortillas, cut into quarters (corn or wheat, we couldn’t get corn, so went with wheat, and found that we didn’t need more than around 8, but you could add more to bulk it up)
2 x bottles mild taco sauce (recipe initially called for enchilada sauce, which wasn’t readily available – also feel free to add a spicier sauce for those who like the heat – we’re wusses!)
1 1/4 cups shredded tasty cheese

Method
1. Preheat oven to 200C, and grease/line a large baking pan or casserole dish.
2. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown and soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.
3. Layer half the tortilla pieces in the pan. Top with half the vegetable mixture, half the taco sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.
4. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes more.
5.Serve with guacamole and sour cream/plain yogurt if desired.

Here is a rather blurry photo – I didn’t realise it was blurry til after I’d already eaten the evidence – oh well!! I think this would also freeze really well, but perhaps best made in individual ramekins if so, as it was a bit messy getting out the pan, which didn’t change the awesome taste!

Mexican lasagne

Mexican-style lasagne – ole!