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Archive for August, 2011

Sick cat

Percy is not well. The only thing he is eating is grass – which for such a big boy is worrying…

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Inspiration

Inspired by my blogging friend Judith http://theartofnotworking.blogspot.com who recently made clarified butter – and motivated by the cream I was given by a friend and ex-workmate of my dad – I made butter – and then turned it into buttermilk and ghee!

I was so excited I forgot to take photos.

I googled the ‘how to’s’ and the food processor did all the work – and it was so FAST!

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Ricciarelli

In my dreams I am an Italian peasant farmer. I would love to have a small piece of land, enough to grow all our veggies, to have a few chickens, olive trees for my own oil, grape vines for my own wine… I have no clue who would actually do all the work involved. The reality is – I don’t like bugs – spiders, slugs, snails, wetas ick!!! And, in spite of four years of Latin lessons one hundred million years ago – I don’t speak the language, and while they don’t have wetas in Italy – they do have snakes and scorpions – I would be a cot-case… gibbering helplessly in a corner (or, more likely – comatose from too much plonk!)

My limit is our small veggie garden and my precious pots of herbs.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I started to trawl through all my recipe books in search of gluten-free recipes. I soon realised savoury food is easy to alter, and I also found a number of recipes for cakes and cookies of Italian origin that are naturally gluten-free – that is, no alterations or replacements needed.

I haven’t done much baking lately – God knows I don’t need the calories. But I have another dream. I think I’d like to have a small bakery – exclusively gluten-free, perhaps supplying cafes and restaurants with cakes, cookies and desserts…

It’s probably not going to happen. I’ve done no research, and let’s face it – with the economic situation in the world at the moment wobbling all over the place, it would be madness to open a new business.

However, dreams are free – and this recipe might be one worth holding onto. This was in the Sunday Star Times newspaper today, Julie Le Clerc’s version of Ricciarelli di Siena, which are traditionally made at Christmas.

Ricciarelli

In a large bowl, put 25og ground almonds, 285g icing sugar (powdered sugar), 20g rice flour, 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and 1/8 tsp baking powder – beat them together using an electric mixer. I would sift the icing sugar next time – gluten free icing sugar can be a bit lumpy…

In a small bowl (or jug) – put 2 egg whites and 30g liquid glucose (which has to be the most irritating stuff ever invented – sticky! – there has to be a cheffy trick to getting the glucose out of the jar without resorting to swearwords??? Anyway – beat the eggwhites and glucose together till they are just foamy.

Pour the egg mixture into the dry mixture. Then add 1 tsp almond extract – which I didn’t have, so I used orange-flower water instead. I had bought this

at the Indian deli around the corner from us a while ago and it was burning a hole in my pocket (so to speak).

Mix until the dough comes together. This is a bit of a sticky dough, but not unmanageably so.

Julie LeClerc says make the mixture into logs, then cut on an angle into oblongy sort of shapes…. they should be sort of biscotti looking. I made a pigs ear of that, so resorted to rolling lumps into balls (about the size of a walnut) and putting them on a baking sheet – then I pressed the balls with my fingers.

Then you leave the cookies on the bench for at least an hour to dry out a bit. Bake at 160c for about 15 minutes until light golden. Allow them to cool completely, then dust with icing sugar. Store in an airtight tin.

I made 29 cookies. They’re sweet, but not too sweet and the orange flavour is very subtle. They’re much softer than biscotti.

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Sitting in my chair

…cat on my knee, minding my own business

We hear a strange sound… something  rustling under the little table beside me…

we both investigate… one of us more enthusiastically than the other…

 

 

 

and THIS is what we find!!!!! *shudder*

 

Rick saved me – scooping the weta into a jar and taking it outside to the garden.

And THAT is why it is good to have a man around.

Rick is away this weekend and I am not going outside at all.

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Happy/sad

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, it will be obvious to you that I am a natural-born misery-guts.

As much as I would like to be a positive, glass-half-full type of person…. I am not.

I am quite capable of worrying a small problem into a larger one, and I have my own personal grey cloud that settles on my shoulders and weighs heavy on the back of my neck. In a family that has a horror of mental illness, my tendency towards depression is something that cannot be talked about.

This time of year is difficult in this household. It is the season when Rick’s stress levels reach melting point – and because he can’t snarl at his clients… he brings his frustrations home to me. The world financial crisis has its effects in all sorts of ways. Rick sells advertising. When times are tough, people don’t buy advertising. Rick’s budget however, increases each month regardless. He is extremely good at his job. He is the kind of man who can make conversation with anyone (a skill I do not possess), he remembers details dots his i’s and crosses his t’s.

Happily, the silly season is now over. New contracts have been signed, old ones renewed and things look ok going forward. PHEW!

Rick is off to Fiji this weekend – with a group of colleagues and clients. They will lie in the sun, drink too many cocktails and tell lots of tall stories.

I will stay home, enjoy the peace and get my sense of well-being back.

We survived without stabbing each other. All is good.

Our meals lately have been of old favourites. Stuff you can do in your sleep – no recipe needed. Comfort food. I’ll be branching out again next week.

In the meantime, I have re-organised my spice cupboard. I had bottles and shaker wotsits and packets one on top of the other. It made my tidy soul sad.

I read this post from Tara at Tea and Cookies… http://www.teaandcookiesblog.com/2011/01/create-an-organised-spice-rack-check.html and was inspired. So, I ordered some jars – 120ml size – with a mouth wide enough to get a tablespoon measure in, and small enough that I can use the contents without the spices going stale.

I’ve gone from this:

To this:

 

 

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I’m always on the lookout for lemon dessert recipes.

I saw this on the Food Network, and since I still have heaps of lemons from my sister Sue’s tree, I thought I’d have a go.

Jamie made this into a pie, but mentioned that you could pour the left-over mixture into little cups – so I decided that was the way to go. It’s a type of custard – I’m crap at custards – they never work for me, but I figured… this is Jamie – what can go wrong??

In a large bowl, mix 2cups lemon juice, 3 cups sugar, 4 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks.

Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is light in colour and smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in 350g butter which has been chopped up a bit.

Whisk until the butter has melted.

Pour the mixture into a pre-cooked pie shell, or into cups.

Allow to cool and set.

You can caramelise the top by using a blow torch thing on it. Or, you can put it under the grill till lightly brown

Serve with raspberries, or toasted almonds.

At least… that’s what Jamie said to do.

It didn’t work for me. I did everything he said to do, but it just didn’t work. It has separated into layers – light and fluffy on top, runny-lemon-curdish underneath. Also, it is sweet enough to make my eyebrows vibrate. This is an oops for me.

My Nana made the most superb baked custards. She tried to teach me (she taught me to bake). Even under her guidance, my custards separated and refused to set. I think I will  have to admit to self, that there are some things I will never do…. make good custard, dance with George Clooney under a silvery moon …. sigh

I will throw it out before Rick gets home from work, because he was huffing about the waste of eggs, lemons and butter…:-(

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I’ve been watching the Food Channel lately. This recipe came from a show called Spice Goddess (great title). I’m looking to change my diet a bit – I think I’ve had too much red meat lately… not that that is a bad thing, exactly… 🙂

I love eating fish, and almost always order it if we’re out for dinner, but we don’t often cook it at home. To buy fish is quite expensive – so we have been used to keeping it for a treat. But, I think we’re worth it. I made salmon for dinner the night before and had a small piece left over. The Spice Goddess (Bal Arnesan) had made these fish cakes which sounded really good, so I made them yesterday.

60z fish – flaked – I used a piece of left-over salmon and a tin of sardines all munched up together

1/2 cup grated paneer or mozzarella (I used mozzarella)

1/4 cup yoghurt

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1 tbsp fenugreek leaves – crumbled (I didn’t have leaves, so I crushed fenugreek seeds in my mortar and pestle. I used about a teaspoon – probably should have been more.)

1 tsp ground coriander

Salt and pepper

Mix together, form into patties and fry till golden.

Serve with chutney or raita.

These were so easy to make. The flavour was very gentle – I expected it to be spicier and would prefer it that way, so next time I will use more fenugreek powder, and perhaps toast and then grind my own coriander powder.

This made 6 quite large fish cakes. You could make little ones which would be great as nibbles for a dinner party.

 

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