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Adventures in cooking during lockdown!

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As many of us have been in lockdown over the past few months and facing the inevitable, we are looking for ways to keep busy and active. I have noticed an increase in cooking videos on the net and decided to try out some of them. With some spare time on my hands I decided to try out some dishes which I wouldn’t have had time to try out before!

Are you constantly on the lookout for quick easy meals using ingredients in your pantry/fridge? I have learnt the art of being creative with using a combination of ingredients. There are some ingredients which prove a meal saver many times. Like – flour, eggs, cereals – rice, pasta, lentils, oats, semolina, tinned provisions.

Here are some quick dishes which I have discovered with 2 staple ingredients:

  1. Dosas (Indian snack or light main meal)

Ingredients:  Semolina 1 cup, Yogurt (natural) 1 cup. Mix these 2 in a bowl separately. 1 cup cooked left over rice. Salt to taste.

Method:  Mix well the semolina and yogurt in a bowl. In a blender add the cooked rice, then the semolina and yogurt mixture. Blend for a few seconds. Pour this mixture into a bowl, cover and set aside for 2-3 hours. You can add a little water to the blender jug to clean out whatever is left inside and add to the batter. The batter should be a little thick, not too thin (otherwise it could break up when frying it). After 2-3 hours, get ready to fry these dosas (like crepes). Use a little oil for each dosa to avoid it breaking up. Heat a frypan on low heat, add a little oil, pour a ladle spoon of the batter in the centre and allow to cook for a few seconds, spreading it gently with the back of the ladle around the pan a little to form a crepe. With a flat spatula ease the crepe over gently to cook on the other side. Turn out onto a serving platter.

Serve this with a coconut chutney, potato bhujia, spiced dhal, pudina chutney (mint).

2. Flatbread or Naan

Ingredients:  Self raising flour 1 cup. Natural yogurt 3/4 cup. A pinch of salt.

Mix the flour, pinch of salt and yogurt well together till it forms a dough. This takes a couple of minutes. The dough is quite soft. Pat into a round shape, cover and set aside for a few minutes. Heat a hot griddle. No oil needed! It cooks well as it is. Cut the dough into 4 parts, roll into a round shape about 8 inch in width. Cook each flatbread for a minute on each side, it will puff up a bit, keep turning till well cooked both sides. You can double the quantities for extra serves.

This is so delicious eaten while still hot, serve with anything of your choice – dips, cheese, curries, salads. Great for anytime of the day – breakfast, light lunch or dinner. This recipe can also be used for pizza.

Look out for my bread making endeavors in my next post!

I look forward to your comments.  We are not perfect, we are on a learning journey. Some days are better than others, but keep trying!

Happy cooking!

~ Mary

BROWN LENTILS

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So, I found a tin of brown lentils in my pantry, while scouting around for what to cook! I have been adding tinned foods to my pantry to stock up during the pandemic, just in case we run out of fresh produce! I checked out for recipes and found many tempting and easy meals to prepare from just a tin of brown lentils. Here they are:

1.  Soup

Add a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, to your favourite winter soup.

2.  Power rice salad

Mix cooked brown rice with canned brown lentils, rinsed and drained, then add pine nuts, currants, tinned corn and fresh herbs such as chives and parsley.

3.  Vegie burger

Add chopped onion and grated carrot to a can of brown lentils, rinsed, drained and mashed. Mix in chopped fresh herbs, fresh breadcrumbs and an egg to hold it together. Shape into patties, coat in flour, spray with oil then pan-fry, grill or bake until golden.

4.  Nutritious dip

Place 2 cans of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, into a food processor with 1-2 garlic cloves, the juice of 1 lemon and a splash of olive oil. Process until you have a smooth paste, adding more oil if necessary. Serve sprinkled with chopped coriander.

5.  On the side

Great with grilled fish. Sauté a chopped onion in oil until soft. Add a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, and a diced tomato. Cook until the tomato is soft and lentils heated through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and balsamic vinegar to serve.

6.  Main event

To turn the above dish into a main course, substitute roasted red capsicum for the tomato. Top with chopped parsley, pitted black olives, chopped walnuts and cubed feta, and serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

7.  Curry in a hurry

The next time you make an Indian curry, throw in a can of brown lentils, rinsed and drained. This goes well with pumpkin and potatoes.

8.  Delicious dhal

Sauté a chopped onion in oil until soft. Add 2 chopped potatoes, dried Indian spices (cumin, turmeric and cardamom), and stir until fragrant. Cover with water and cook until potato is tender. Add 2 cans of brown lentils, rinsed and drained, and 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves. Cook until spinach is wilted. Serve with a dollop of low-fat natural yoghurt.

9.  Classic combo

Together these ingredients create the perfect flavour combination – mix canned brown lentils, rinsed and drained, with some baby spinach leaves and finely chopped red onion. Dress with yoghurt and lemon juice.

10.  Lentil bolognaise

Make your favourite bolognaise sauce, or cannelloni or lasagne filling, substituting the minced beef with canned brown lentils.

I hope you enjoy these delicious and nutritious meal ideas – with a can of Brown Lentils!

Stay healthy and safe!

~ Mary

 

Bakery-Style Lemon Blueberry Muffins — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

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Sometimes we just need to get away from it all, and usually, it’s just when we can’t. Why is it that days can feel endless and yet time just never seems to stop? I was really busy before I became a mother, and now — well, getting through my days and actually checking things off […]

via Bakery-Style Lemon Blueberry Muffins — Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

Broccoli

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downloadI have been hearing on the radio about the benefits of eating broccoli and that it helps the digestive system. I love eating this vegetable, I like the crunchiness and taste, especially as a stir fry dish with cashews and chillies! Or broccoli soup.

Here is a weblink to an article about the health benefits of eating broccoli regularly.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319759.php

My favorite quick meal (in approx 30 mins)!

Broccoli stir fry

500 grams of chicken pieces (chopped in small pieces)

1 bunch of broccoli

1/2 cup of chopped cashews

Dried red chillies (1-2) (optional)

1 inch piece of ginger finely grated

2 tablespoons soya sauce or oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cooking oil

Method:

Marinade the chicken pieces in the soya sauce for a few minutes or longer.

In a wok or shallow pan, heat on low heat a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil (Olive oil or Peanut oil). Add the sesame oil.

Add the grated ginger and stir for a minute or two. Do not burn.

Add the chicken pieces and stir fry well for a few minutes. Keep stirring and do not allow to burn. Allow to cook, stirring well.

Add the chopped cashews and red chillies and stir fry.

After a few minutes add the chopped broccoli.

Add soya sauce and stir fry well. Add a little water for gravy.

Serve with steamed rice or steamed egg noodles.

 

 

 

 

Rice and dhal

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indian-meal-consisting-roti-rice-dal-vegetable-kofta-32193992One of the most easiest, healthy and time saving meals to prepare! Steamed Rice and dhal. A nutritious meal and easy on the digestive system. This meal originates from India. Dhal means lentils. You can add other tasty nutritious accompaniments as well – a tablespoon of plain yoghurt or Raita, fried or baked papadams, tomato salad or herbal chutney made with Coriander or Mint. Here is the recipe –

Steamed Rice for 2-4 people

1 1/2 cups of Basmati Rice (washed till water is clear and strain out water)

3-4 cups of boiling water

Salt to taste (optional)

Method:  In a cooking pot or saucepan, boil water. When boiling add the washed rice and salt.

Stir to prevent rice sticking to the bottom of the pan.

This could take about 5-10 minutes of cooking. Stir and check if grains are cooked.

Turn of heat.

Strain the rice through a colander. Stir the rice through so it doesn’t stick together.

Serve cooked rice in a Rice Serving Platter.

Dhal

1 cup of red lentils or mix 1/2 cup of moong dhal with 1/2 cup of red lentils

3 cups of water

Salt to taste

1 level teaspoon tumeric or adjust less according to taste

Curry leaf (optional) a few sprigs

1 clove of garlic (peeled and finely sliced) (optional)

1/4 onion finely sliced

1 tablespoon oil

Method:  Wash lentils till water is clear and strain.

Put up a saucepan of water on the stove, add salt and allow to boil on low heat.

Add the washed lentils with the tumeric. Stir well and bring to the boil. Allow to cook for approx 15 mins till grains are soft.

You can puree the cooked lentils if you wish in a blender when cooled down or push it through a sieve. This is optional.

In a separate pan heat and add a little oil on very low heat. Add the sliced onions and allow to brown lightly, add the garlic and brown lightly, add the curry leaf. Add all these fried ingredients to the dhal and give a little stir. It will sizzle a bit, so take care, but this process actually adds more flavour to the dhal.

Serve in a bowl or tureen.

For added nutrition, you can add 1/2 cup of mixed finely chopped vegies of your choice and allow to cook for a few minutes. (Chopped carrot, a little cauliflower or finely chopped beans, or a little finely chopped eggplant).

Serve in a bowl or tureen.

Accompaniments:

Raita

In a small bowl mix in about a cup of natural yoghurt, beat with fork and add salt to taste, squeeze of lemon juice, a little fresh ground black pepper, a pinch of chilli powder (optional), 1/4 teaspoon of cummin.

Mix well together. Decorate with a sprig of mint leaves or coriander leaves.

Papadams

Papadams can be purchased from Asian food stores. These are sold in packets, in small to medium sizes, of various flavours.

Papadams can be fried in a little oil, which turn crispy. Or you can crisp them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds.

Salad

Tomatoes

Onions

Cucumbers

Lemon juice

Salt

Method: Slice finely tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Mix well together and add the salad dressing.

You can add fresh herbs if you wish – a few sprigs of fresh coriander or mint.

Here is an image of how an Indian meal is served with various accompaniments to enhance taste and flavour to the meal. Serving a meal attractively also makes it look appetizing and tempting to eat!

indian-thali-combo-naan-17512700

 

 

 

Caring for Kitchens

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isolated-kitchen-towelsThe kitchen is the most hardworking place in the home. A lot of hard work, sweat and tears shed in this room! God bless this little place where housewives, mums and little helpers work together to provide healthy, home made food to feed us daily. So a lot of work too has to be done daily to maintain it, to keep it spic and span, ready to take on the next cooking challenge!

Among other things in the kitchen, I love kitchen linen, kitchen towels! I do so love to take out a fresh, clean kitchen towel to wipe my dishes or wipe the benchtops! I found a handy website on how to keep your kitchen towels clean, as they are the most important tool in wiping up spills and for any other purpose. I found on my journey in life to always invest in good, strong kitchen towels that last a lifetime. The picture above shows the type of tea towels I like to use daily, they can be used for most jobs around the kitchen. Try to eliminate wastage of paper towels by investing in the humble kitchen tea towel!

http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/proper-care-of-dish-cloths-and-kitchen-towels/

 

 

Costs for running appliances

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How much does it cost to run your appliances
https://xpressonline.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/how-much-does-it-cost-to-run-your-appliances/

The perfect chocolate cake!

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I am on the search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe! We used to have a chocolate birthday cake every year when we were kids. So I am trying to find the kind that resembles close enough to that. Here is the first one, but there will be more links added later.

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/dessert/a14316/chocolate-cake-recipe/

There’s nothing like a hot cup of tea!

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bigstock_pouring_fresh_tea__1745053 Today I had a really nice hot cup of tea! It really made my day! Take it from me, if its great, it is one of the best, as I come from the land of tea and love my tea! I don’t usually buy a cup of tea at a cafe because I can make the best at home! But today was an extremely cold day and I needed a hot drink with my sandwich during lunch hour. So I bought this cup of tea and enjoyed it. The price wasn’t too costly either compared to the takeaway foam cup with a tea bag dunked in which tasted like boiled water with milk and sugar!

Techniques for making a good pot of tea are simple.  The water has to be boiled to the right temperature. The tea leaves are measured out into the tea pot, usually one teaspoon per person and one for the teapot. The boiled water is poured in slowly. Cover and allow the tea to brew for a few minutes or longer, depending on the tea leaves used. Usually the tiny leaves can be brewed for a few minutes, but the bigger tea leaves would need about 10-15 mins to brew. Cover the tea pot with a tea cosy, or else it will get cold. There are a variety of tea pots that can retain the heat for longer periods.

A well brewed cup of tea does not contain too much milk and sugar as the flavor can get lost.

Beetroot and chocolate cake

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Serves 10
Preparation time: 45 minutes + cooling
Cooking time: 1–11⁄4 hours

250g chilled vacuum pack of cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained
250g Butter, at room temperature
250g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs
250g Self-Raising Flour
50g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Butter Icing
125g Butter, at room temperature
250g Icing Sugar
1⁄2 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tbsp Milk
To decorate
Mauve paste food colouring
500g Ready-to-roll fondant icing
Cornflour for dusting
50g Dark Chocolate (70% cocoa), melted
1m x 2.5cm wide brown ribbon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Line the base and sides of a 20cm deep, round, loose- bottomed cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
  3. Purée the beetroot in a food processor until smooth then scoop out and reserve.
  4. Add the butter and sugar to the processor and cream together until light and fluffy.
  5. Gradually mix in the eggs, one at a time, adding a little of the flour after each addition and mixing until smooth before adding the next egg.
  6. Add the remaining flour, cocoa powder and vanilla essence.
  7. Mix until smooth then beat in the beetroot purée.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the surface and bake for 1–11⁄4 hours or until well risen, the top is slightly cracked and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. (You may need to cover the top of the cake after 45 mins or so if seems to be browning too quickly.)
  9. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. To make the icing, beat the butter, half the icing sugar, vanilla essence and milk together until smooth then gradually beat in the remaining sugar.
  11. Peel the paper off the cake, cut horizontally into three thin layers then sandwich back together with half the butter icing.
  12. Spread the remaining icing thinly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Transfer to a serving plate.
  14. Knead a little food colouring into the ready-to-roll icing and roll out on a surface lightly dusted with cornflour until you have a circle of about 30cm in diameter.
  15. Lift over the rolling pin, drape over the cake and smooth in place with hands dusted in cornflour.
  16. Trim off excess icing and brush away any remaining cornflour from the cake.
  17. Spoon the melted chocolate into a greaseproof paper piping bag, fold the top down securely and snip a tiny amount from the tip with scissors.
  18. Mark a circle in the centre of the cake with a 7.5cm plain biscuit cutter and pipe dots of chocolate on the marked circle (don’t pipe them too close together or they will merge together).
  19. Pipe swirls and dots of chocolate over the top of the cake.
  20. Leave in a cool place for the decoration to set then finish with a ribbon around the sides of the cake.
  21. Secure in place with dot of melted chocolate or a pin, but remember to remove the pin just before serving the cake.

Tips

If you don’t have a food processor, mash the beetroot or roughly chop and purée in small batches in a liquidiser.

For a special occasion, place fine candles just inside the circle in the centre of the cake.
This is also delicious and moist served plain without the buttercream or fondant icing; whipped cream makes a good accompaniment.

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