• It feels like an omelette kind of night

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    There’s something I want to change about this recipe. I’m not quite sure what it is, but the result of my yesterday morning stirring and baking didn’t feel quite as spectacular as it should. I mean, we’re combining cacao and granola, two inherently great things. So, yes, it should be stellar. And while scrumptious, I do want to tinker with the recipe until it reaches that next level.

    So for now, there’s just a photograph. A photograph of my bowl of cacao granola, which I’ve enjoyed for two days in a row scooped over yoghurt and milk. Today I also sliced some banana and juiced one orange, which I served in a darling little cup my mother found along her travels in this world. Was it from an op shop, mum? All signs point to yes. It’s green, with floral detail and is the perfect size for an orange hit.

    ♥ Cacao Granola
    ♥ 5:AM Greek Yoghurt
    ♥ Cow’s Milk
    ♥ Sliced Banana
    ♥ Fresh Orange Juice
    And Black Coffee, not pictured.

    What did you have for breakfast today?

    Let’s talk dinner. Tonight I’m flying solo so no doubt my evening will revolve around a greedy beetroot omelette, followed by a giant mug of tea or hot cocoa, sipped as I devour my latest book club read, The Witness Wore Read. While a non-fiction piece, this feels entirely too foreign to be true. It reads like a long Marie Claire article and I’m really enjoying it. I intend to read while sprawled across our new couch, taking up as much space as possible.

    Tomorrow I might tell Ben we’re out of cacao granola and eat the small amount remaining for breakfast, feeling only a little bit guilty.

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    Heidi xo

     

     

  • Salted Tahini Caramel Topping

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    I grew up in a household that was pretty pro ice-cream. A tub of vanilla or neopolitan had a secure spot in our freezer, usually making appearances on movie nights. Mum would line up little bowls while we eagerly waited for the ice-cream to defrost. Our freezer was particularly chilly, you see, and it wasn’t until eating ice-cream at friends’ houses that I discovered you didn’t, as a rule, need to leave the tub of ice-cream on the counter for 25 minutes before it became soft enough to scoop. Don’t you love those things you grow up thinking to be normal behaviour when really it’s just your family thing.

    Regardless, if we were being treated to a neopolitan tub I would invariably hog the chocolate strip. I mean, who wanted strawberry? (recently I learnt that my husband did in fact favour the strawberry strip as a child…I guess it was meant to be). My brothers would do the honour of eating the strawberry serve but usually in the presence of both chocolate and vanilla, stirring the flavours together to make one giant, gloopy, brown mess. My younger brother has a tendency to mix things, food and beverages (funnily enough, he is now a bartender). At our local cinema we had a self-serve soda station, along which Jackson would systematically and joyfully move his cup from coke to sprite to fanta, creating one ghastly beverage. He was always an energetic child…

    I was a little jealous of my brothers’ ice-cream concoctions, not in terms of flavour (bleh) but because I really like to play with my food. My whole family do. I think that’s why we were also a pro toppings household. Inverting, shaking then squeezing a stream of sweet dressing over ice-cream is one of life’s true joys. I believe we favoured Cottee’s chocolate topping, though would sometimes stock ice-magic. It was invariably chocolate-flavoured, this was something our house easily agreed upon, but occasionally we’d have caramel. Ben is bonkers for caramel – in koala candy form, salted and stuffed inside chocolate pudding, salted again but churned into ice-cream…and, of course, as a topping. Knowing my husband’s affection for caramel, I fashioned us a little sweet one day. Due to the fact that we’re still surviving Winter, my ice-cream bowl has been relegated to the shelf and in it’s place are tubs of stock. This means it takes at least a day of planning before I can make ice-cream. Luckily I have a tendency to freeze bananas for soft-serve purposes, so it was easy to figure out what to slather this caramel topping on. Though this sweet, sticky, thick salted tahini caramel is quite tasty straight from the pan….

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    Today is my fourth blogging anniversary. Four years ago I started photographing my food and writing about recipes, where I was travelling to, what I was eating and how I felt about it all. I’ve always kept a journal, this one just happens to be online and read by other food lovers. I love writing this blog, it’s deeply personal and wonderfully self-indulgent. It feels very natural to me. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve gained through this space. Thanks for finding it even remotely interesting. Really, I just don’t shut up about food. And truth be told, I’d keep going without readers. But it sure is nice to have company.

    Back to the recipe….

    This treat is simple, nourishing and incredibly fast to make. I’m dreaming up other uses for this topping (besides soft-serve and spooning), and right now my brain is screaming “French toast! Slather it on crispy French toast alongside mascarpone!”. All in good time. For now, banana soft serve will be just swell. You don’t even need to let it sit out on the counter for 25 minutes before eating.

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    Salted Tahini Caramel Topping with Banana Soft-Serve

    Adapted from Wholefood Simply

    Serves 2, with some caramel leftover depending on how eager you top

    Ingredients for the topping
    2 tablespoons Hulled Tahini
    1 heaped teaspoon Honey
    1 tablespoon Milk
    A pinch of Sea Salt

    Ingredients for the soft-serve
    2 large frozen Bananas
    2 heaped tablespoons thick Vanilla Bean Yoghurt* (I favour 5:AM Vanilla Bean yoghurt)

    Pepitas to decorate.

    * Alternatively you can use regular yoghurt and add some vanilla extract or pure maple syrup and vanilla bean to taste

    Method
    1. Combine the tahini, honey and milk in a small saucepan. Gently warm the mixture over low heat, stirring until it is all combined and begins to thicken slightly. Add a little sea salt, then taste and add more as you wish. Turn off the heat and allow to cool and thicken further.
    2. Blitz your frozen, sliced banana in a food processor with the yoghurt until smooth. Taste and adjust flavourings as desired (more yoghurt, some milk, a little maple syrup or vanilla, etc.)
    3. Pour the mixture into a bowl, then spoon over the topping and pepitas. Eat immediately.

    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

  • A green smoothie, some ramen and a couch

    A Green Smoothie
    This morning I made a green smoothie. My cravings for green are pretty strong and very consistent, usually encouraging a giant salad at lunchtime. But occasionally I want green for breakfast and so I blend them, with a frozen banana and milk then whatever ingredients I have around that sound appealing. Today it was Medjool dates (oh! fancy) and some maca powder. My green was tender baby spinach. I topped it off as I always do my smoothie bowls, with coconut oil and toasted seeds, which combine into a hard brittle of delicious sorts. Plus a sprinkle of sea salt. Green craving satisfied.

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    My Green Smoothie

    Serves 1

    Ingredients
    1 frozen Banana, sliced
    1/2 cup Milk (any variety you like)
    1 big handful Baby Spinach
    1-2 Medjool Dates, pitted and chopped (depending on their size and your preference for sweet)
    2 teaspoons Maca Powder
    Toppings: a drizzle of runny coconut oil, toasted sunflower/pumpkin seeds and a little sea salt

    Optional: add 1/3 cup soaked rolled oats and/or 1/2 tablespoon almond butter for a bit more bulk.

    Method
    1. Blend the banana, milk, spinach, date and maca in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust for texture and flavour as desired (more milk for a thinner smoothie, a little honey for sweetness, etc).
    2. Drizzle the runny coconut oil over the smoothie and immediately sprinkle the toasted seeds and sea salt. Place the smoothie in the fridge or freezer until the coconut oil hardens to for a “brittle” with the seeds. Crunchy goodness, friends.

    Now, let’s jump back to yesterday…

    Some Ramen

    Ben arrived home late from a meeting quite hungry, so I made him some noodles. The dude loves his noodles, especially those packet ramen, but as the years tick on and he pushes the big three zero, he’s finding himself a little sensitive to highly processed foods. I don’t think this is such a bad thing, as it encourages him to stay away from crap and favour whole foods, and luckily he agrees. But you’ve still got to have ramen, right?

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    Recently I discovered what everyone else on the Mornington Peninsula already knew, that Mount Eliza has a bonkers great Ritchies. I could browse those aisles for hours, and indeed I do, it’s legit “job research”. For this I am thankful/poor. On one of my research trips, I discovered some expensive but hard to resist organic noodles from Germany, made only with organic wheat, semolina and salt. This is what I used for Ben’s lunch yesterday, which was a quick and terribly inauthentic ramen made using some fabulous chicken stock from The Stock Merchant I was recently gifted to sample (thank you, folks!). This product really is stellar, made using free range chickens and simple ingredients (they also have beautiful beef and vegetable stocks and even sustainable crab stock). If I’m not making my own stock, I love having quality, more expensive (i.e. made with actual chickens!) stock on hand to keep that nourishing, homemade feel alive. So, in with this lovely stock I threw those fancy noodles. I poached an egg in the hot simmering broth, then added fresh ginger and a little tamari (yes, that’s as “ramen flavour” as it got), and lastly a bit of lettuce. Ben was stoked.

    A Couch
    I took yesterday and today off work to finish unpacking. A lofty goal, indeed, but I’m really kicking some goals and I’m certain it has nothing to do with the three cups of coffee I’m averaging before noon. Tomorrow we get our coach delivered, our first grown-up couch purchase that wasn’t from an op shop or in the $300 IKEA range. It’s so comfortable I can’t handle it.

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    That’s all I wanted to say today, really. A green smoothie, some ramen and a couch. Happy Friday, folks. We’re having our favourite lamb shank and lentil soup for dinner tonight and this weekend we have friends staying. Good things. I hope you have a swell weekend too. I’m off to pour myself another cup of coffee and finish unpacking.

    Heidi xo
  • Raw Carrot Cake

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    I don’t have many thoughts on Bugs.

    A few Mickey memoires here and there, Road Runner too, but I never really had time for Bugs Bunny. Cartoons were a thing we watched at our grandparents’ house. The old school type. I loved them. Batman also, the one with the submarine and Adam West running around a pier with a bomb in his hands. Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb. Do you know the 1966 version I’m talking about? My brothers and I must have watched it a hundred times. I thought that sly Russian cat woman was fantastically mad and elegant.

    My lack of appreciation for Bugs Bunny as a child is, I suppose, rectified by my mad love for carrots as an adult. I always have them on hand to grate into porridge, throw in my bag for a snack on the way home from work, roast for soup, bake into a crumble (whaaaat?) or smash with some ginger. And for raw carrot cake.

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    There are quite a few “healthy carrot cake” recipes out there, from porridge and baked oatmeal, to bircher muesli and smoothies. And raw cakes, like this one. Feeling inspired by endless carrot and walnut creations on instagram and blogs, I got to grating and made my version, with just as much sweetness and spice as I like.

    The great thing about this recipe is you can taste as you go and adjust as you wish. This is a cake you’ll make when you feel like something sweet but want it your creation to be obscenely healthy. I’m a fan of classic cakes with butter and flour and sugar, indeed, but sometimes I just want a whole bunch of nuts and fruit and vegetables formed into one delicious and only slightly pretentious “cake”. You know?

    My family adores this cake, and of course I’m nutty about it. It’s breakfast, a snack and dessert, all in one. I hope you like it. Cut yourself a slice, put on some cartoons and feel both nourished and nostalgic.

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    That’s all folks.

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    Raw Carrot Cake

    Makes 2 tall cakes using 12cm springform cake tins or 1 larger and flatter cake using a 20cm springform cake tin. Use whatever loaf or cake tin you desire, but ensure it’s a springform so you can remove it easily.

    Note: this cake requires 2 hours chilling time before serving. Inspired by and adapted from The Healthy Chef’s Raw Carrot Cake.

    Ingredients
    3 cups grated Carrot (350g weight before grating, ~3 large)
    1 cup Cashews (unsalted)
    180g pitted fresh Medjool Dates* (~10 large juicy ones)
    1.5 cups Walnuts
    1.5 cups Almond Meal
    1/2 cup quality Desiccated Coconut
    A pinch of Sea Salt
    2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger (depending on your flavour preference)
    1/4 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
    2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
    Zest of 1 Orange
    1-2 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup (depending on your flavour preference)

    Frosting: coconut whipped cream + vanilla bean (as per the photograph above), or cashew cream or yoghurt

    *  Yes, it’s a lot of dates. I’ve tried the recipe with dried dates softened in boiling water, and it’s fine but certainly not as stellar. And you’ll need more maple syrup. Sometimes I do half Medjool weight / half dried. But Medjool dates are just so good…

    Method
    1. Add the grated carrot to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
    2. Pulse the cashews and pitted dates in a food processor until finely chopped, then pour into the mixing bowl. Pulse the walnuts until coarsely chopped (you want chunks!), then pour into the mixing bowl.
    3. Add the almond meal, coconut, salt and spices to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla and orange zest. Stir well to combine. Taste and add maple syrup according to your preference, then stir well again. Amount required will depend on the sweetness (and moisture content) of your carrots and dates. Note that the cake will be served chilled, so the end result will less sweet than when you taste it now at room temperature (i.e. it should taste on the sweet side now, and this will be blunted upon serving).
    4. Pour the mixture into your desired springform cake tin or pan, packing it down firmly with the back of a large serving spoon. Smooth the surface, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.

     

    Heidi xo
  • One night at mum and dad’s a couple of months ago…

    It was a Sunday, I believe. Ben and I brought some sparkling shiraz, a family favourite. We drank while the sun was still out, the pizza oven and our appetites warming up. People often ask for my recommendations when visiting the Mornington Peninsula. Foxey’s Hangout is one of my top selections. It’s a classy spot, clean and simple, with small plates, a nice view and beautiful wine.

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    Dad had bought a pineapple. I’m not sure why….but, really, why not? Oh, wait, I remember. It was for his “gourmet” Hawaiian pizza, with smoked ham and caramelised pineapple chunks. Dad’s deflection for any inelegance in life is “but I grew up in Highett!”. Clearly with this jazzed-up Hawaiian pizza he was trying to make a statement as to how far he’s come. We all know the truth…

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    Mum bought some radicchio because I said it was Ben’s favourite and, as he is pretty much the golden child, whatever Ben wants he tends to get. That’s cool, I get to reap the benefit of his requests and preferences, which often include good cheese and maybe a cake. And radicchio. Ain’t it pretty?

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    Mum also made a roasted fennel and white bean dip. This stunning recipe (link) was introduced to us by Robin from Transition Farm and we’re all quite smitten. It’s warm and creamy, richly aniseedy and, due to my eager grating, heavy on the parmesan. Hand me a bowl of this with some bread and wine and I’ll happily call it dinner.

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    Jackson brought his housemates, two lovely gents. Once the woodfired oven was raring, we dressed and cooked some dough (using dad’s usual recipe) and together enjoyed pizza and then pudding. Bread and butter pudding, made using panettone.

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    Jackson and his friends are bar tenders. And as we’re a family that appreciates a good cocktail, we put them to work, whipping up an on-theme cocktail to accompany the pudding. I cannot recall the ingredients (and I have an offensively good memory), so I suppose that means it was good.

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    Panettone Pudding

    This recipe is pretty special. Years ago my mum and her friend, Sally, would get their hair done together at a local salon. They would schedule their appointments for when Sally (who used to be our neighbour) was visiting. Mum and Sally would sit and talk while being groomed, enjoying a coffee and serve of panettone pudding from the cafe a few doors down. Quite obsessed with this much adored sweet, one day they finally asked for the recipe so they could make it at home. The cafe owner kindly obliged and Sally scribbled the recipe down on a piece of paper. This delicious detour caused her to miss the ferry home and spend one more night with mum. It was totally worth it. Here is the recipe for you. Share it with friends, friends who would miss their ferry in pursuit of food.

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    Heidi xo

     

  • Because it really is ridiculously delicious peanut butter

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    I can’t find my tea towels.

    They’re burried in some box, likely in our present “crap holding room”/future study, and I cannot for the life of me find them. I have one, which is incidentally my favourite because it’s pretty and white and red (colours that I, for some reason, favour in tea towels), but it’s getting a hard workout and will soon require a wash. My washing machine, Boris, is getting quite the workout too, as he churns through our sheets and towels, cleansing them of the damp that hung around our old house. Speaking of our old house, someone stole our two gas bottles from behind the shed, one of which was completely full. Who does that? Criminals, that’s who.

    I can’t find my tea towels.

    But you know what? It’s cool. I have this ridiculously delicious peanut butter to soothe my tea towel and stolen gas bottle worries, and it’s making my mornings (and middays and evenings) brighter and crunchier and generally more delicious. Ben and I (and my peanut butter mad father) are super grateful for being sent some jars of RD peanut butter to sample. Because it really is ridiculously delicious. And it’s made with Australian peanuts! Check out their super cool video here (and see a list of stockists), and learn about this “ridiculously simple, ridiculously old fashioned, ridiculously delicious peanut butter”.

    I served a keen spread of this nutty butter on toasted sourdough bread with sliced banana for Wednesday Breakfast Club today, plus another slice of sourdough with avocado and cheddar cheese. I’m really on a toast bender of late. It’s so simple and simple is what I need during this move. On the weekend I fixed Ben and I a slice of toast each with RD peanut butter with banana and a drizzle of maple syrup. It was Ben’s first sample of RD peanut butter. He thought it was flipping scrumptious and now will not have any other peanut butter. He’s bossy like that. I can’t blame him.

    But really, where the hell are my tea towels?

    What did you have for breakfast today?

    ♥ Ridiculously Delicious peanut butter on toasted sourdough bread with sliced banana
    ♥ Toasted sourdough bread with avocado and cheddar cheese, plus a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    ♥ Coffee, black. Not pictured but definitely consumed.

    Heidi xo

  • Flax Crackers and Hummus

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    I’m not much of a snacker. Give this girl three good meals a day and I’m set.

    Though I won’t say no to an afternoon bite, especially these June, July and August days, as dinner o’clock creeps further into the hour of eight. Some yoghurt and/or nuts might show up around 4pm but I certainly wouldn’t call myself a snacker, a grazer. If I were to snack more regularly, however, I would certainly appreciate these flax crackers on my plate.

    I initially found the concept of making my own crackers intimidating, but they’re super simple. They’re also wonderfully customisable and the perfect vehicle for spreads and dips and cheese and all things good. Flax crackers + all those good things make for a nutritionally balanced snack. I made flax crackers for the first time with my dear friend Lucy, then again the following week for a class I was teaching. And since these first two experiments I have been pretty consistent with my flax cracker production, tinkering a little with the ingredients each time – a dash of dukkah here and sweet paprika there, sometimes thyme and often poppy seeds…it’s both fun and tasty. You really can’t go wrong. In terms of spreads and dips and all things good, this hummus recipe is my most favourite of late. It’s based on a Valli Little recipe so you know it’ll be solid. I think the touch of cumin and keen amount of lemon do the trick.

    So go forth, friends, and flax cracker your days! Snack happy and make your afternoons delicious and bright. Or walk my path and serve the crackers and hummus alongside a big salad at lunch or boiled eggs and sliced radish for breakfast. They also make a lovely snack when knitting with your friends one Sunday, which is how I enjoyed these featured bowls. And when I say “knitting”, I really mean “watching my talented friends create scarves and jumpers and beanies while I made flax crackers and hummus and sliced Japanese turnip”. First we flax, then we scarf.

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    Flax Crackers

    Makes a large sheet of crackers, broken into 30-40 pieces depending on how large you make them. Inspired by this recipe.
    Note: these crackers are very light and cannot handle a super heavy topping (or too eager scoop) without potentially breaking. You might like to play around and add more seeds if you’d prefer a sturdier cracker.

    Ingredients
    3/4 cup Flaxmeal (ground flax seeds)
    1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
    1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
    3 tablespoons Poppy Seeds (or sesame seeds or a mixture)
    1/4 teaspoon Salt
    1 cup Water

    Method
    1. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
    2. In a mixing bowl combine the flaxmeal, seeds and salt. Add 3/4 of the water and stir to combine, drizzling in the remaining water until a thick paste forms. Leave the mixture to absorb the water for 10 minutes.
    3. After 10 minutes, stir the mixture. It should be very moist but not sloppy. Spread it very thinly and evenly on the baking paper. Use a moistened underside of a spoon to help smooth and thin it out.
    4. Bake in the oven for ~55 minutes until golden and hard, rotating the sheet halfway through to ensure even browning. Certainly avoid burning, so cover with foil if the crackers are over-browning but are still soft.
    5. Remove from the oven and lift the baking sheet onto a wire rack. This will allow the crackers to cool and harden appropriately. When completely cool, cut or break the crackers into pieces. Store in an airtight container. The crackers are best eaten the day they’re made, though they will last ok in the container for a few days.

     

    Hummus

    Makes ~1 & 1/2 cups. Adapted from Valli Little’s hummus recipe.

    Ingredients
    400g canned Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 tablespoon Hulled Tahini
    1 juicy Lemon
    4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    1/2 clove Garlic, crushed
    1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
    1 tablespoon Water
    Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste

    Method
    1. Place the chickpeas, tahini, half the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the garlic, cumin and water in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
    2. Taste and add the rest of the lemon and a little more oil, plus sea salt and pepper, as desired. The proportions listed above yield my personal favourite hummus.
    3. Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin or smoked paprika. Store any leftovers in an airtight container topped with a layer of olive oil.

     Heidi xo
  • Christmas in Winter

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    We’ve always had a pretty solid set of family friends. Friends that are family. Emphasis on family.

    These bonds develop from a strong connection between like-minded folk. These folk become your companions in life. And if you’re really lucky, they become family. So you get that fun factor of “hey, I like you, let’s be friends!” coupled with the unconditional love of family. And through all the ups and downs, the gains and losses, the good, the great and sometimes bad, they are there. Like family. But first, friends.

    This year we celebrated Christmas in winter with our family friends. My mum met most of these other mums in my life when they were in college, studying early childhood education. And due to a few birthdays around December, and the fact that we all celebrate Christmas Day with our immediate families, a tradition of Christmas in winter began. For twenty four years we’ve been gathering as a group and cooking a roast in July. We have skipped a few years but came back this winter in full force. I think next year might be even bigger.

    We all brought something to the table to compliment the beautiful, stuffed and rolled turkey that was beautifully cooked and carved by our hosts. There was a ham, some roasted vegetables and greens…I made roasted potatoes and my dad made bread. And then Monika whipped out a stunning chocolate and berry roulade by Katie Quinn Davies. I think you should make it. For friends. Or family. Or family friends.

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    Heidi xo

     

     

     

     

  • Moving Day Breakfast

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    So you know how I said we got the keys yesterday? Well I actually got them Monday.

    For two days I’ve been ferrying boxes of jars and cups and other pretty breakables from my old rental to my new home. Clothes and food, too. We even moved a mattress my grandparents gave us (a Queen!!) and last night had ourselves a sleepover in the living room. We ate plates 0f orecchiette with broccoli and anchovies as we sat on our bed, drinking Campari from water glasses and watching True Detective on the computer.

    Today we’re bringing in the big guns. I’m off to meet some dudes with a truck who are going to move our big pieces of furniture and help make this dream even more of a reality. I’ve had two cups of coffee. It’s on.

    But first, breakfast. Our first breakfast in our new home.
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    ♥ Hope Farm spicy fruit toast with butter and cherry jam
    ♥ Coffee, black.

    What did you have for breakfast today?

    Heidi xo

     

  • French Green Lentils and a Beautiful Lamb Shank Soup

    Lentils have always been a big part of my life. As mentioned in my post on lentil love, I grew up with a mother who cooked lentils with great regularity. Usually it’d be split red lentils, cooked in her lightly spiced, tomato-ed style over rice. Sometimes couscous. I adored that dish. In fact when I saw mum yesterday she handed me a container. Moving fuel. Bless her. But back to the lentil days of my youth…

    For special occasions, maybe on the weekends, mum would bring out the French green lentils. She’s got a French provincial cooking thing going on, my mum, and for as long as I can remember has been braising and slow-cooking. French green lentils were a favourite ingredient and remain one of my most beloved to this day, as they hold their texture after cooking, ensuring they’re aesthetically dreamy but moreover, have a beautiful bite to them. For those interested in learning more about lentilles du puy, David Lebovitz has a great blog post on the beauties.

    This month in My Mindful Kitchen I have, you guessed it, sourced some lovely legumes. I hadn’t previously thought on where I buy legumes. I knew Mount Zero were doing great things and were a popular brand, but honestly I’d end up favouring cost and buy the regular dried legumes from the supermarket or go for canned convenience. And while I still do use canned legumes pretty frequently, I am super excited to be transitioning to a different product (certainly when it comes to dried legumes) and support rad farming practices employed by passionate, local legume folk. That’s what My Mindful Kitchen is all about.

    I was first introduced to Burrum Biodynamics by my friend, Robin. Following her lead, I looked up their website and found myself ridiculously excited about these little protein pebbles grown in the Grampians. And snap, Burrum Biodynamics actually supply Mount Zero Olives with their French green lentils, split red lentils, pearl spelt, pearl barley, split peas and soup mix. I contacted farmer Steve and he was kind enough to answer some questions for me, which I’ve scribed below. Steve and Tania are super happy to talk shop, sharing information about the legumes and grains they grow and how to use them. It’s all about bridging “the gap between farmer and consumer”. Amen.

    1. We know a lot about buying organic vegetables, why should we buy organic, biodynamic legumes and grains? & I suppose, what’s the difference between store-bought mass produced legumes vs your product?
    Its not for me to tell people what they should buy;  but the differences for us farming conventionally until 2000 then Demeter Certified are considerable.  When we were farming conventionally in the 80′s and 90′s, the crops would have been sprayed at least five times with herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.  Now we farm without the use of these chemicals.  Working to the Demeter Standard, which is a self sustaining system has improved the soil biological activity and rain water infiltration rates.Most store brought split red lentils have been coated in vegetable oil to make them shiny.  We don’t put any oils or additives on ours.   Everything we packaged has been grown on our farm, by me.

     

    2. How is it best to store legumes and how long do they last?
    Storage life is unlimited if they are stored in a cool, dry, airtight place.

     

    3. Why do you farm?
    Farming is all I have ever wanted to do; maybe because I am a fifth generation farmer.  I love growing things, learning, experimenting and watching the soil change .  I started growing grain crops in my mother’s vegetable garden at the age of seven and have grown a crop every year since.  I still live on the farm where I was born so I have seen many changes, especially since we converted to Biodynamics.

     

    Burrum Biodynamics sell through Farmhouse Direct as well as various Farmers’ Markets around Victoria. I really encourage you to give them a go. Their pearl spelt, farro, was a finalist in this year’s Delicious Produce Awards, and their French green lentils are award winning too. There are great things coming from their soil, friends.

    With each step I take on this mindful path I am discovering that getting to know your farmer and your food leads to a simpler, a more pleasant shopping, cooking and eating experience. Sure, it takes a bit of investigation at the beginning, but after that it’s a piece of cake. You know what you’re buying, what (and who!) you’re supporting and why it matters…and then you just get to play in the kitchen, making the best lentil and lamb shank soup of your life. And I’m not kidding about this soup, I am officially head over heels in love with this recipe, which was introduced to me by, you guess it, my French lentil loving mum.

    DSC08560
    Lamb Shank and Lentil Soup
    (recipe link)

    Changes mum and I made to the recipe: we both agree that making the soup at least one day prior to eating it is paramount. Mine sat for two days in the fridge. Letting the flavours develop as it sits leads to an incredibly superior soup and  also allows you to scoop the fat off the top and discard it before reheating, ensuring you avoid that greasy lamb shank residue I find to be so common and so displeasing amongst lamb shank recipes. I used very large, very good lamb shanks, along with homemade chicken stock. I also added extra potatoes, lentils and carrot pieces, to bulk it out some. Obviously I used French green lentils instead of brown. And lastly, I took the liberty to add a large crushed garlic clove with the onions and 2 dried bay leaves with the rosemary. This is, by far, my most favourite winter soup. My goodness, it’s good.

    Heidi xo