Roasts, Eucalyptus and Depression.

I remember when I was young – (don’t you just hate those type of comments, you know, like:– ‘In the olden days’ etc) – the Sunday roast was the highlight meal of the week. The rest of the week was meat and 3 veg – every night!

Haven’t we come a long way in our culinary tastes. Even this recipe includes sweet potato, which wasn’t in my childhood.

Roast potato, pumpkin and sweet potato mix.

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2 kg potatoes, peeled, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1.2 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt flakes, 1.2 kg piece of pumpkin, seeds removed and cut into large pieces.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Peel potatoes and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
  3. Use a fork to rough up the surface. Place potatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
  4. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Cut into large pieces. Peel sweet potato and cut into large pieces. Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a roasting pan. Add olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.

When Europe was still under the effects of WW2, and depression and rations were everywhere, our family saved hard and paid our passage to Australia. It was a young and vibrant country, and everyone agreed.  The influx of migrants began. We saw the arrival of Italians, Lebanese and even Germans. There were a lot of prejudice in those days, and worse still when the Asian ‘invasion’ occurred.

Now we live, mostly, in harmony. And the benefits certainly outweighed the disadvantages.

Before this time, I’d never heard of eggplant, broccoli, sweet potato or zucchini. Now these are common delicacies.

zucNowadays, I grow all of these vegetables, and more. The zucchini is abundant, and when in season, produces far more than we could possibly eat. So… what to do with all of them (before they grow to torpedo size!) ?

Here is a recipe that can be eaten hot or cold (ideal for school lunches, too!) and adds some extra vegetables in as well.

Zucchini slice:-

½ cup brown rice, 1 carrot, grated, 1 or 2 zucchini, grated, 1 small can corn kernels, drain, wash, ¼ cup chopped chives, 1 cup cheese, grated, extra grated cheese for top, ¾ cup SR flour, 4 eggs, ½ cup milk, ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°. Grease and prepare a slice tin
  2. Cook rice to instructions on packet. Allow to cool.
  3. Combine rice, carrot, zucchini, corn, chives, cheese and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, chilli sauce and milk together in a jug.
  5. Add to rice mixture and mix well.
  6. Spread in tin, sprinkle with extra cheese, then bake for approx 35 mins, until cooked through and lightly browned.
  7. Stand in pan for 20 mins then slice and serve hot or cold. Serves 8.

And while we are at it – here’s a yummy pickles too.:-

Sweet Zucchini/Cucumber Pickles:zuccs

Slice 5 kg zucchini and/or cucumber and 5 kg onions thinly. Soak overnight in a 3/4 cup salt in water.

Next morning drain and rinse. Place in a vinegar mixture of 5 cups white vinegar and 5 cups white sugar. Add 1 teaspn of mustard and 1 teaspn of turmeric. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes. I then added thickener.(about quarter cup and tblspn cornflour). Place in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

I actually halved the zucchini, onions and cucumber, but kept the rest as it was, which is why I needed to put some thickener in it. You could possibly add a little less sugar, too. If you halve everything that may not be needed.

And just in case you’d rather sit out under the Eucalyptus trees or on the verandah, with wine glass filled with your favourite tipple, you can even make Zucchini chips, doused in a tasty spice powder mixture.

Zucchini crisps:-

Slice zucchinis thinly then deep fry in an oil of your choice. Scoop out and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil, then tumble in a bag of spice mix. The spice mix can include garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, chili powder and/or any other combination that suits your taste. You can always experiment!

With kindness

Maureen

P.S. – lots of recipes today – nice to jumble up my blog sometimes.

Also – chapter 7 of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page:-panda2(readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)

and another example of Mykey’s Art (already sold) on third page:- (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

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Recreation, Elephants and Drama.

It’s nearly time for me to bite the travel bullet and book my ticket to return to Cambodia. It doesn’t seem possible that it is nearly two years ago that I spent time there, teaching English. I am so looking forward to seeing all the students again.paddy

This time, however, I will be only going as recreation – a short holiday to catch up with everyone. The village where I stayed, was about 80 kms from Siem Reep and gave me an insight to the real lives of the people. After the drama of the previous despots and their regimes, the country is slowly poking it’s nose into the 21st century with the young people once more wanting education, and aiming for great things. This had previously been squashed and I could still feel the fear rippling below the surface with the older generation.

The fantastic Angkor Wat was amazing, and any photos you see, just don’t do it justice. I felt an awesomeness being able to touch history instead of only looking at museum specimens.Angkor

Several other moments were not so nice – seeing elephants used in the tourist trade was offset by seeing marauding monkeys taking their revenge on tourist handbags – abject poverty and people and children working in the hot sun, or scavenging for food contrasting with the opulent hotels for the tourist dollar – rubbish littering the streets and the smell of fresh sewerage compared to the sweetness of the interior of the incense in a village pagoda, were all a little off-putting.

But having said all that, I am really looking forward to returning to a wonderful people.

So what can I say about the food? My first meal of frog and morning glory vine will always make a lasting impression – and it certainly upset the bacteria in my stomach – but, other than the ubiquitous rice, the food was wonderful. The cooks at the Opportunity Cambodia ( https://opportunitycambodia.org.au ) sites went out of their way to make me comfortable and well fed.

I’d love to put a recipe up, but the cookbooks available bring you only the best – and I ate the village, homely food – and didn’t ask the cooks for the recipe!! In fact – even if I had –  they couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Khmer!mg

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just a quick reminder – chapter 6 (of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ ) is now ready to read on my next page. ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ).

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Also, page three ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) has Mykel’s original artwork for sale.Sparkle 40cmx40cm

Rosemary, Elderberries and Desserts.

Before I start – let me tell you that chapter 5 of my children’s chapter book is on my second page ready to read for FREE. There is also a picture book FREE if you request it through my email address – maureenlarter@gmail.com. The link for my second page is readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book

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There is also a third page. readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs

The art work for sale is original – not prints. The artist is an Australian living in N.S.W. Anyone in Australia will get free postage if you buy.

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Now that I’ve done my ‘selling’ – I would like to tell you about the beauty of herbs and berries.

I don’t particularly like herbs in cooking – I’m of the old-fashioned school of eating and enjoying vegetables and fruit just as they are – why disguise the taste I wonder?

However, herbs aren’t just to cook with. They are fabulous for making all sorts of things. One of my favourite ‘old-fashioned’ ideas, is drying lavender and making a bag to put it in. That then goes into my wardrobe and drawers to give my clothes a subtle perfume.

Drying basil, rosemary, mint and sage make for great additions to your cooking if you desire, and it also keeps the herbs for later use. Dried mint scattered into cupboards help to minimize pests,too. Of course, fresh herbs are even better.herbs

These days, there seems to be a plethora of ‘diets’ – always stated to be ‘for your own good’. There’s the gluten-free bandwagon, no sugar chariot and low carbs, high fat bus! Everyone thinks they have the answer.

Personally, I think the best way to go is to keep away from processed food – even the so-called ‘healthy’ ones. Eat in moderation and eat fresh produce. A tasty dish with lots of different colours will give your eye pleasure, your taste-buds a party and your body plenty of nutrients.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but fruit should be used sparingly – it has secret sugar! Berries of all kinds are tasty and full of bright colour. Strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries, and loganberries are brilliant for mixing with plain yoghurt, flavouring ice-cream (see last week’s recipe for a delicious home-made recipe.) Even a compote of mixed berries served with custard makes for a lovely dessert.

Did I mention smoothies, mixed into home-made muesli, any number of cakes, as a sauce for pancakes, and amazing popsicles for summer?popIn other words, they are AWESOME and so versatile.

Mixed berry frozen compote.

Any and all berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries – etc) you can find! (#freezerstash)berries

Wash berries and pat dry. (De-leaf the strawberries) Mix all together and freeze. An hour before you wish to eat, thaw in a small bowl. The freezing will soften the fruit and a small teaspoon of caster sugar sprinkled over (optional) as they thaw, will bring out the juice. Warm if desired.

Growing your own is not difficult either. Be aware, however, that they can take over, so I often recommend planting into large pots. That way you have more control, and can even grow these in a small garden or on a balcony of a flat/apartment. There is always an answer, if you wish to follow the dream.

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. The last blog post has a recipe for condensed milk and ice-cream – I updated this after making my own. https://readeatdream.net/2018/05/27/recycling-edam-and-dollars

 

 

Recycling, Edam and Dollars

Woohoo!

Back to some more of my loves. Last week I spoke about my love for ‘Classical’ music – from Beethoven to the Beatles, and Bach to Bacharach! Now let’s look at some other wonderful interests.

I love making things from scratch.

I think it is a lost art – or almost. I hate the way we have become used to buying our food in supermarkets. We race in, grab some processed food and don’t think of the way it is made. We also don’t think of the poor farmers at the bottom of the ladder, who do all the work and get the least praise and appreciation for it.

Gradually people are becoming conscious of the additives in food, from preservatives to chemicals, not only in every day food stuffs, but in cleaning products, personal products and snacks. The manufacturers have to make sure that products – even the humble apple – must stay fresh and appealing for a long time in transit to outlets, then onto shelves for display.

I love to make everything I can.

I garden organically to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I have chickens for eggs, cows for milk and bees for honey.

meandbees

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I know not everyone can do these things, due to lack of space (I have 12 acres – you may live in an apartment!!), lack of time ( I’m now retired, but belonging to the workforce takes up a great chunk of time.

In my last 18 years on my property, I have grown everything from peanuts to plums, elderberries to eggplant and much else besides.

I have made soft cheeses (haven’t yet made hard cheeses like Edam, and Cheddar – isn’t it wonderful that there is so much more to learn), yoghurt, butter, cakes, ice-cream, ghee, and more.

I recycle everything I can – I have shelves of empty glass bottles that I fill with jams, relishes, sauces and pickles. I pick up old unsold papers from the local newsagent and shred them for compost and litter in my chook ( an Australian slang word for chickens) pen. I ask anyone who has old fridges and freezers that no longer work to bring them to me and I make gardens in them. And, with all this activity, I manage to stay healthy and busy – not bored and lazy!

To top it all off – it helps me to save dollars in my budget, so I can occasionally treat myself to some useful farm clothes from the op shops as well as brand new underwear from a couple of local businesses.

Perhaps this recipe might be something you are looking for:-

Home made ice-cream.ice4

Ingredients – milk, sugar and cream.

(Flavours can be added – only limited by your imagination – try crushed honeycomb, or blueberries, or chocolate chips or simple vanilla essence or crushed up after dinner mints or ….. you get the picture!).

First – make your condensed milk.

(1 litre of full cream milk – 2 cup of white sugar – 1/2 tspn baking soda) – I don’t use the baking soda – my son is allergic to all preservatives and extras – I have to be careful to use ‘pure’ ingredients!!

Heat the milk to boiling point, then add the sugar. Stir continuously (BE PATIENT) until the mixture starts to thicken. This can take some time – 15mins or more. Watch it all the time – it can boil over very easily. Add the baking soda if desired. Continue cooking and stirring until the desired thickness. Take off the heat and allow to cool. (this can be kept in the ‘fridge for about 3 weeks.) From this recipe I made approximately 600ml – the equivalent of one tin’s worth.

Now whip the cream until light, thick and fluffy. Fold in the condensed milk (if you haven’t time to make the condensed milk – one 600ml tin will be the option) and any flavouring you desire. Freeze. Serve.

Simple, isn’t it?

Enjoy.

With Kindness

Maureen

panda2P.S. The next chapter (4) of ‘The search for the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page (readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) If you missed the previous chapters and would like to read them, email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com and I will send them to you. Let me know which chapters you need.

On the third page (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) are the stunning original art works by Mykel. Unfortunately simple pictures don’t do the works justice. They are vibrant and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravel, Elgar and Debussy

This blog is really different to my previous articles. I felt like giving you an insight into a different me.mus

As a music teacher, I love all types of music. My first love is ‘classical’ music – from Mozart to Debussy, from Bach to Ravel, and from Beethoven to Elgar. More modern music in the ‘classical’ vein has not struck me as very listenable – if that is a word.

Even though I teach music and love classical music, pop music, country and even heavy metal has a place in my life.

The Beatles were my teenage idols as far as the pop world was concerned, and the Rolling Stones as well. I could mention ‘The Beach Boys’, Dusty Springfield, Jackson Five, The Osmonds and more. Where has the time gone?

Who were your favourites?

By the time my son was born we were Abba fans. I was determined, as a young mother, to keep up with the times – but rap music, dub and all the other recent music has passed me by. Now I’m a grandmother, and feeling distinctly aged – an ‘old fogey’ if you will.

Now I understand the differences between the generations, and, as progress has bolted ahead at a wondrous speed, I wonder what my grandchildren will discover in their world.

I dream of better things for them, but often despair at the world and the hatred that is broadcast in the media. I know people in general are so much better than that – but the media keeps us in a state of fear with all the doom and gloom they report.

daisies

I try to live by a simple code – smile, be happy and try to do a kind act for someone each day. I also try to leave my little bit of the Earth, where I live, in a better condition than it was when I arrived. If we all tried to do that, the Earth would be a wonderful place, I’m sure.

With Kindness

Maureen

panda2P.S. Chapter 3 of my children’s chapter book – ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ – is posted on my second page.

( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )

 

Also, feel free to have a look at page 3 as well. Mykel would be thrilled if you would leave a comment about his art – or even buy it, of course.

( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricotta, Enjoyment and Dandelions.

One of the joys I have in my life is preserving the produce off my own land and that includes cheeses. At one stage, Nelly the cow gave me milk in abundance – so it was expedient to use it in any way I could.

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My previous cow -Shani. My new cow – ‘Nellie’ is  black and white.

So … I made butter and ghee, ice-cream and yoghurt, which then led to Labneh and then to cottage, cream and ricotta soft cheeses.

Soft cheese is not difficult to make. For Labneh it is simply the hanging of the yoghurt until the liquid has drained out.

To make the yoghurt I got in touch with Cheeselinks ( https://www.cheeselinks.com.au  )  and bought the bacteria and their excellent book.

Ricotta means ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, and after making the other soft cheeses, the addition of a little more milk to the whey (the liquid left after the milk forms curds of cheese) and heating it – you get the cheese.

The activity of milking your own cow is rewarding, but the enjoyment of turning that wonderfully fresh milk into other products is even better.

And, talking about produce on your own land, with the help of bees, you get honey as well. I have two hives, and that gives me enough honey to sell a little, and use all year. They are fascinating insects, and an absorbing hobby – and when the clover, flat-weed and dandelions flower in my lawn, it gives me the perfect excuse not to mow! (in Australia, dandelions are often mistaken for flatweeds. They are very similar. Flatweeds have multiple flowers to a stem, where dandelions only have one. )imagesdandI just make sure I wear shoes, and don’t step on any of the girl worker bees as they go about their business collecting the nectar.

The beauty of the Australian bush, is that we have flowering Eucalypts, which the European honey bees adore. There are Grevilleas, Banksias and Wattles, too – an absolute cornucopia for insects. We also have many native bees, so when the Gums are in blossom, the place hums.

I started with dreams of self-sufficiency, which is why I got cows and bees and chickens. I planted vegetables with abandon, then realized bees also needed flowers. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I recommend the journey to others.

I am now in my seventies and I still garden, feed the stock, collect the eggs, rob the bees of excess honey and preserve my harvest. It keeps me young in heart and mind, as well as keeping my body healthier than I would have been otherwise.

I have 12 acres, but most of the things I do can be accomplished on a suburban block – including keeping bees.

So keep dreaming, look after your body and mind, be aware of the environment and enjoy wonderful, natural food.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. Chapter 2 of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up this week.  (https://readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)panda2

as well as a new painting for sale from Mykel. (https://readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Records, Editing and Dishes.

If you have been following my blog, you should know by now that I do many things. I am an organic gardener, I teach music  (piano and violin) and I write. I write and publish my own and other author’s books. I will do editing, but prefer not to.

Writing books is a strange thing. The words you write flow onto the page from the brain. You call the first writing, the ‘first draft’, then when you have finished all your first draft, you read it again.pen

And again.

In the process, you pick up some mistakes via errant fingers (typos) the occasional spelling mistake, and a clunky sentence here and there.

On your second or third reading, (after a time lapse), you often wonder what you meant with the words you wrote. Hopefully you fix that, add more details or take out unnecessary sections.

THEN – you get someone else to do the editing. Invariably they will find more mistakes.

You think to yourself – how did I miss that? – but – because you know what you meant, every time you read your work, your brain rides over the mistakes. Seems, impossible I know – but it happens all the time.

That’s why I prefer not to edit, either my own words or those of others.Alphacovers

It’s times like that that I feel like giving it all up.

My writing is not good enough.

I should go back to being a housewife, do the dishes, cook the meals – in fact, I’d even go on record as saying to myself –  ‘Give it all up – just stay in bed and hide!’

Every author feels that way at some point – so don’t imagine it is only you.

I’m here to set the record straight!

DON’T give up.

DON’T allow the doubts to win.

ALWAYS persevere.

You WILL improve.

REMEMBER – if you like the story you have written and have done the BEST you can do, then there WILL be someone out there in the world that loves your story, too.

KEEP WRITING.

KEEP BELIEVING.

KEEP FOLLOWING YOUR DREAM.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. As promised last week – the first chapter of my new book ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ follows – on page two of this post. (click on the three bars on the left and follow the Free children’s book heading). It is ‘A Kathy Edwards Adventure’, aimed at 8 to 12 year old age group. Read and enjoy. Let me know what you think.

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An art work From Mykel is also available on the ‘Sweetfields and Mykelcee Designs’ page.