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Friday, 21 December 2012

Pavlova :-)

Hello again!

Having family visit for Christmas over the last few days, has had me making some special things for us to enjoy... and some of these you may have seen in my previous posts :)

          - ginger-shortbread - caramel fudge - homemade Christmas cards and decorations - etc...

Now, I'm not a huge fan of tradition... but I do like SOME of the traditional things just the same... but I also enjoy doing something different and NEW and FRESH... and creatively bringing old and new together!


Instead of Christmas cake, I've decided to have pavlova... always a favorite hit!! I made this one myself... that way I avoid the artificial ingredients I don't want in my food and I actually used a natural sugar replacement for this so it was much healthier!

[It's amazing when you watch scientific documentaries on the way refined sugars (and especially high fructose corn syrup) are dealt with by our digestive system... and since sugar is one of the main ingredients in this dessert... I had to use a natural sugar replacement that would mimic caster sugar... now I wasn't hugely happy with the overall result... but it looks pretty impressive and was palatable enough just the same! But a bit more experimentation before I post a recipe I'm happy with...]




And I've taken a close up of one of my little table decorations I made the other day....




Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Time for a Rhyme... :-)

Well, I've been playing a game on google+ with some other song writers... a rhyming game... which someone started with a suggested topic, then a short poem... then leaves a topic for the next to follow with a poem and so on... so here's my little poem, to the topic of: good vs evil...

One has peace, love, joy and hope believing for a better day
Yet one is so sad filled with anger, hatred, rage, and malice
They grew up side by side and yet, worlds apart in heart

One gentle, kind, forgiving and understanding
Yet one is so mean, unbending, unyielding
The same blood pulses through their veins - yet relationship is strained

One was cherished, wanted and adored
Yet one was rejected, forsaken, forlorn
Character molded in formative years, eternity of hope or drowned in fears

As trauma leaves its indelible mark
Twists in time and turns in fate
Hearts are broken and choices to make

Forgiveness and love or bitter and hate
Whilst breath fills your being it isn't too late
Settle the struggle once and for all and be at peace in your soul


Monday, 17 December 2012

Ginger-shortbread...

Well, at previous Christmas times... I've tried making a decorated fruit cake or a gingerbread house..
but this year I've decided to make some ginger- shortbread!

So, I've come up with this recipe:

250 grams butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar (was going to try all honey, but had some brown sugar to use up... I think golden syrup or treacle would be nice as an alternative also...)
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger pieces
2 cups self raising gluten free flour
1 cup plain organic wholemeal spelt flour

1) Melt butter, honey, sugar and add ginger in a saucepan over low heat
2) Remove from heat and place to the side
3) place wholemeal and gluten free flours into a bowl and mix dry ingredients together until blended.
4) Pour over the butter mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon.
5) Roll small balls of mixture (gently) and place onto baking trays - spacing a little apart, and flatten gently with a fork to create a pattern on top. Cook in 170 degrees Celsius oven for about 12 minutes.
6) Drizzle with white chocolate if you wish... my food critique who tasted the shortbread ate my white chocolate before it got to the biscuits unfortunately! Hmm... another thing to remember when I go shopping later! LOL

here's the finished product of my ginger-shortbread biscuits... (minus the chocolate...) The biscuits are very "short" and the ginger pieces add a nice bit of extra "kick" to them!


I purchased this cute little ceramic gingerbread house (filled with gingerbread stars) a few days ago, for just $10 and the Christmas card in this picture is one that I made myself.


Stuffed Pumpkin!

While I'm on a creative roll in the kitchen... I decided to try making a stuffed pumpkin for dinner...


1 small Jap pumpkin - (big enough to feed 4-6 adults all up)
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
200 grams free range bacon
200 grams free range chicken breast
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
2 small tomatoes
1 small eggplant
4 stalks of celery - diced into small pieces
2 teaspoons of powdered chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter to cook the meat and veges in
200 grams cheese
chives, freshly ground black pepper and garam marsala  for sprinkling over cheese
  

2 round casserole dishes to cook it in

1) Boil 1/2 cup of quinoa in twice as much water, for 12 minutes or until soft... then drain and put aside
2) Wash and cut in half a small Kent or Jap pumpkin and scoop out all of the seeds and pulp.
2) Microwave it in a casserole dish for 8 minutes with both halves facing each other to retain moisture.
3) Whilst the pumpkin is cooking, place the butter, diced chicken, bacon and veges into a frying pan along with stock powder and cook until chicken is done. Stir in the quinoa.
4) Remove pumpkin from microwave and place each half in a casserole dish.
5) Fill with the meat and vege mix, and sprinkle with cheese, and herbs & pepper
6) Cook in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius) for about half an hour or until cheese is brown and pumpkin is soft but not mushy. (I actually used the grill in the top of my oven to brown the cheese).
7) enjoy! This should be enough for a few meals or perhaps serve with a roast etc... if you have guests over...

The next day I reheated the leftovers - topped with a new addition of inspiration that came - of several thin slices of  rosemary and garlic salami, then topped it off with sour cream and fresh mint leaves... also very yummy!

Getting into Gear!

So, it's time to get into gear for Christmas... with family on their way tomorrow!!

I have already had the tree up for a couple of weeks, and a nativity set... just haven't been too motivated beyond that yet!

Now, we' won't get to be together for Christmas, but we will have some time before and after... which I'm looking forward to :)

It's also my mum's birthday on Christmas day!! So, I try to make the day extra special for her... since she's often had others forget about her on her special day :(

Anyhow, I've been back in the kitchen and made some caramel fudge...






I've put it in this cute little Christmas tree container, that I picked up from an op-shop for less than $1!!

The fudge was a bit of an experiment... as I'm trying to cut out refined sugar and replace with honey...

This recipe - I think I'll try tweaking it a little on my next try... but it's still quite yummy!

1) I used about 200 grams each of honey and butter, and placed them in a saucepan over low heat.
2) Let the honey and butter simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat... you will need to watch it doesn't boil over, I stirred it occasionally.
3) After the mixture has been boiling for about 5 minutes, I gradually stirred in about 4 tablespoons of gluten free flour and mixed well after each addition (tapping it through a small sieve on the side of the pot, as I mixed with the other hand... now there's probably a better way of doing this.... but this is how I made this lot!)
4) Mix in a teaspoon of organic vanilla extract
5) When the mixture started to become like a thick sauce and leave sides of pan, I poured it into a non stick loaf pan... (line with tin foil first will help you get it out later)

6) Sprinkle with cashews or nuts of your choice or not...!
7) Refrigerate and allow to cool... about an hour or two.
8) Remove from tin and slice up!

It actually made about twice as much as what you see in this pic... I had a willing accomplice in sampling for quality control :)

The little decoration is made from seed pods and flowers that have fallen from a tree in a park across the road... and tied with silver gift ribbon... I made one of these for each place setting on the table.