Monthly Archives

May 2014

Foraging for Mushrooms

May 30, 2014

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Macedon in Autumn is just dreamy. The trees are adorned with auburn and yellow-brown crinkle cut leaves, and the grass is lush from the lazy May rain. A touch of fog further romances you and you’re suddenly wishing you were the proprietor of that darling corner white weatherboard house with a stone fence. You’d eat cake for breakfast and write novels about pioneer women taking on the world. And then on the weekends, you could forage for mushrooms. Yes, that’d do just nicely.

Last weekend, my dear friend Emma Stirling from Scoop Nutrition and I headed to Macedon with our families for a day foraging for mushrooms (for more information on our day and our upcoming field trip see Emma’s post here). We were learning from Jim Fuller and Richard Ford. Emma introduced us to Jim in her post on spawn technology and how mushrooms get from the field to the shops. He is a lovely gent of many tales and much knowledge, working on exciting exotic mushroom ventures. Richard has been supplying Melbourne’s top restaurants with mushrooms for 25 years. His knowledge is out of this world articulate and fascinating, I could listen to him talking about mushrooms for hours. Both of these gents know their mushrooms, they live and breathe them, and this is what you want when setting out foraging.

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Wandering under the pines, we searched for Pine Mushrooms, which are a fantastic orange colour, and Slippery Jacks. These two mushrooms are very distinct and not easily confused with dangerous mushrooms. It goes without saying, folks, don’t forage without a guide unless you are extremely well educated. There are deadly mushrooms all over the place. Richard detailed what can happen if you ingest one, which was terribly unromantic though terribly necessary.

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Further up the mountain we pulled long cords of cordyseps out of the ground, a completely surreal, pinch me, ‘what on earth is going on, I swear I haven’t had any mushrooms??’ moment. These suckers are a testimate to the power of fungus, encapsulating a catepiller, taking over it’s body, intstructing it before engulfing it. Creepy amazing stuff. For more information on cordyseps, see Emma’s post here.

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That fog…

Back at Olive Jones restaurant, Chef Mike took us through ways to prepare the beauties we had foraged. This restaurant is a gem, with a woodfired oven churning out loaves and pizza for the local community. In my dreams I’d visit here on a Wednesday (woodfired pizza night) after a steady day of writing and walking and leaf crunching.

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Oh, and our mushroom meal was absolutely divine, starting with sparkling wine and then moving onto a potato rosti with smoked salmon and our silky, sauteed, superb mushrooms. And then, duck confit on a bed of smooth mashed potatoes with our mushrooms swooning undernearth, plus a little brussels sprout action. It was just beautiful. The whole day was. And next time, you can join us…

Scoop Nutrition and Apples Under My Bed Field Trip

Would you like to come mushroom foraging too?  We would love to share the experience. On Sunday June 29th we will be heading out again to Macedon Victoria with Jim and Richard.  It’s a full day outing, meeting at 10:00am in Macedon and finishing lunch late in the afternoon.  We have spots for lucky friends to join us.  You will need to arrange your own transport (it’s less than hour from Melbourne) and the set price lunch is $60.00.  Send your expressions of interest to emmastirling@scoopnutrition.com and we will be in touch.

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Heidi xo

Because I had two ripe bananas

May 28, 2014

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Flourless banana pancakes for Wednesday Breakfast Club.

Topped with toasted sunflower seeds, a touch of maple syrup and a touch less sprinkle of sea salt. Tahini for me, peanut butter for him. Coffee for both.

This morning I woke us early and we went to the beach for a few deep breaths and a little wander below the clouds that felt heavy but nice before the sun rose. We returned home, settling into a few hours work from the kitchen table. And then I made pancakes. Because I had two ripe bananas.

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What did you have for breakfast today?

 

Heidi xo

 

Slow. And Baked Apple Pie Oats.

May 24, 2014

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This week I was sick. Big deal, right? It happens to all of us. And I wasn’t really sick, hell, I’ve worked in hospitals before, I know what sick is. Having the flu is inconvenient. I had to reschedule clients and next week I’ll be busy catching up, it’s uncomfortable and I went through a lot of tissues and tea, but really it’s no big deal. And honestly, I’m thankful for it. It was a week of slow.

I’m pretty good at living a slow life. I happily buck this trend we seem to have of glorifying being busy. I’ve figured out what I need to be happy and it’s not too much, really. Family, health, time, love. That’s all I need.

But there’s more to this recipe, isn’t there? We often have these things – family, health, time, love – especially when we’re young and fit and fortunate and full of hope and dreams. The thing is, we don’t always stop to appreciate what we have. We look ahead, we want more, sometimes striving for things that aren’t even related to that which we need to be happy. Recently I’ve caught myself a little distracted, worrying about things that don’t really deserve my energy, my time. This week drew me back to slow.

It’s a strange age we live in. Who says we need to achieve X by the age of Z because you need Y in order be happy? These external standards, dictations, don’t really sit right with me. I’m currently reading a great book on writing by Anne Lamott called Bird by Bird. Anne states little financial success (and often even personal satisfaction) comes from being a published writer, rather its true value, its true beauty, lies in the act of writing every day. This is where you find happiness and satisfaction in writing, this very personal journey of daily journaling and creating. And that’s really stuck with me. These little slow moments that make up our days, they are what make for a happy and lived life. And to be present for them, through the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, that is the real achievement.

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Talking with my dear friend, Lucy, and receiving a few comments from close friends (and even people I’ve just met) have made me realise that this slow practice I cherish and strive for is not something we all do. But when speaking on what makes us happy, we all seem to wish to be…slower. There should always be time for a stroll in the woods, for a phone call to your grandmother, for reading a chapter of a book with a cup of tea…or whatever it is that makes your heart full. There’s so much beauty in the every day, if we don’t stop to appreciate it, before we know it our days will have passed without really living them.

Some are busier than others, we’re all in different life stages and not everyone can live in a perpetual state of slow. We don’t all have the luxury of spending an entire day making a pie. But we can stop and take stock of a few areas in our lives that are not contributing to our happiness, listen a little more intently to our heart and reassess. And then edge ourselves that little bit closer to having joy in our every day with a few slow, mindful moments. The amount of pleasure that can come from mindfully drinking a cup of coffee in the morning should not be underestimated and should not be dismissed.

Yes, I really think there’s something to this slow life business. Losing my brother 6 years ago has taught me that this time of ours is precious and it goes too fast. We need to slow down and live.

Time for a recipe? How about some baked apple pie oats? It feels like good living.

I’ve made this recipe a few times now and this is my most favourite version, a completely comforting breakfast meal for those cooler months. The melted butter really is a stupendous addition, and indeed I do notice a difference in texture and flavour when it is absent. Soaking the oats for 30 minutes while your oven pre-heats and you do a little yoga or take a shower really does see a better, creamier dish, too. Soaking is now mandatory oat behaviour in my house. Other than that, have fun with the ingredients – mix up the nuts, perhaps, add a touch more spice if you like, through in some sunflower seeds, as you wish…

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Baked Apple Pie Oats

Inspired by Heidi Swanson‘s Baked Oatmeal

Serves 2-3

Ingredients
250g Apples (I used a mix of little Jonathons, Golden Delicious and Johnny Golds, as that is what was leftover from my parents’ cider adventures)
20g Unsalted Butter, plus extra to grease the dish
1 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup and 2 tablespoons Full Cream Milk
1 Egg, lightly whisked
2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup
2 tablespoons chopped, toasted Almonds
1 tablespoon Organic Sultanas
1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
A pinch of ground Ginger
A small pinch of Sea Salt

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and soak your oats in the milk for 30 minutes in a mixing bowl. Lightly grease a 17cm pie dish with butter.
2. Meanwhile, slice your apples into thin rounds as per the pictures. Heat a large pan over low-medium heat and add half of the butter. You’re going to want to cook the apples in as much of a single layer as possibly so they evenly brown and don’t stew. You might need to do this in 2 batches. Cook the apples on both sides until soft and golden and sweet (a couple of minutes each side). Place them in the bottom of the pie dish in a flat layer, reserving a few for the top of the dish.
3. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan.
4. Add the egg, melted butter, 1 teaspoon maple syrup, the almonds, sultanas, spices and salt to the oat and milk mixture, and stir to combine. Pour this mixture over the apples, smoothing it out so it is flat.
4. Top with the reserved apple slices and drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of maple syrup, then bake in the oven for ~30-40 minutes until golden and plump. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving alongside some Greek yoghurt.

 

Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Rambles

May 21, 2014

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Last week I flew up to Brisbane for a few days. I stayed with my cousin, Jess, and her husband and bub, and we had ourselves a lovely visit. It was a novelty to walk outside and not need a jumper, let me tell you.

But beyond a weather-encouraged ability to pack light (Jess, don’t laugh), babycino dates and just chilling out together, Brisbane also saw me talking into a microphone to a room full of people and realising I *flick my hair* when nervous. You see, my friend, colleague, mentor, fellow-retro cookbook appreciator and food lover (I tried to narrow down one food we particularly agree on and there’s too many to list), Emma Stirling had invited me to present on a panel at the Dietitians Association of Australia conference *hair flick*.

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I was speaking on personal blogging, finding your voice and all that jazz. And despite a few butterflies, it all went rather swimmingly (we even put together an ebook for you to buy if you’re keen), I had the best time. Everyone was so lovely and encouraging. And inspiring! There were some incredibly talented Dietitians in the room. At the end of it all, we had ourselves a lovely dinner at Mondo Organics.

Back home, I seem to have come down with a case of the flu. I don’t often get sick, and rarely is it the stay in bed and rest kind, but my body is telling me to stay in bed and I’m pretty sure it’s not just because it’s cozy. Surely it wasn’t the celebrating and wine last week because, I mean, it was organic… No but truly, I’ve been taking it easy this week. Resting, reading, recuperating and eating apples. My parents and their foodie friends recently decided that they would make cider, as you do. And while I’m still waiting for the fermentation process to do its’ thing before we can cider sample, I have a bucket of leftover apples to work my way through. Sliced apple snacks, pureed apple, diced with yoghurt…we’ve had apple crumble for dinner some nights, I won’t lie. And a particular breakfast treat I am keen to share with you.

I had originally planned on getting a post about this appley breakfast up today for Wednesday Breakfast Club but alas, this flu business really is demanding, so the recipe will have to wait until next week. I have enough apples to last until then, trust me. For now, you’ve got my Wednesday rambles. And I thank you for indulging me. Here is a little of what’s on my mind at present…

Wednesday Rambles

♥ I’m currently reading The Paris Wife for book club. Last month it was The Rosie Project, which I adored. This book feels like an extended episode of Downton Abbey mixed with Midnight in Paris, which is only a good thing. It hasn’t grabbed by heart, but I’m enjoying it all the same. I’d better hurry, as my library requires it’s prompt return today! Side note, I am just loving belonging to a library again.

♥ Bahati’s ginger lemongrass tea is my present sipping saviour.

♥ Joy the Baker posted a link on her blog to Letters of Note, a dear site where you can read personal letters written by  people throughout history (including some indeed famous, noteworthy folk, such as Mark Twain, Keith Richards and Elizabeth Taylor).  There is also a book. There’s something so special and thoughtful about a handwritten letter.

♥ This Bay Leaf Pound Cake is on my list to make.

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♥ Over the past few months, I’ve been making endless amounts of stock using vegetable tops (celery stock is the best), onion skins, black peppercorns, star anise, bay leaf, garlic…whatever I have in the fridge. I load it up in a big pot, fill it with water and simmer simmer simmer for 4-6 hours. Then I strain the stock into containers and freeze it for soups or to cook grains like freekeh or quinoa. If I have leftover bones from a chicken or pork or whatever, I’ll add it to the mix, too. Monday night we ate pumpkin soup, which I made using some vegetable stock. And yesterday I defrosted a little chicken stock to make myself some *hurry up and get well* pea and parmesan soup. This time around, I sliced a few chunks of parmesan (instead of the rind) and simmered then haphazardly blitzed it all together. It was a good move.

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♥ I’m currently obsessed with Ira Glass’ This American Life podcast. The stories, the people, the thought, the narration, all of it.

♥ We’ve been moving things (cabinets, tables, couches, etc) around in our rental home and the space (the space!) is so much better. Each room seems brighter and it feels like I’m breathing new air. After a fairly busy, generally lovely though sometimes manic start to the year, I feel like we’re turning a corner. Meditation, better self management and apple crumble is helping.

♥ Souvenir is the latest release from Latitudes, Longitudes (the online travel magazine I contribute to) and it is just beautiful. If you need some curl up on the couch with a cup of tea wonderlust reading material, here you go. I particularly enjoyed reading Ann’s tales of her time in China.

♥ I cannot get this chicken dish out of my mind. It looks incredible and needs to be made, stat!

♥ This morning I woke NOT feeling like I’d been hit in the back by a baseball bat (win!), so I did some sick day yoga with my favourite online yoga teacher, Adriene. She’s so awesome, I just love her videos.

♥ This time last year we were hiking in California. I miss the redwoods, most definitely. Ben’s hair is so short! Speaking of hair, two weeks ago Ben became my hairdresser and cut an inch off my locks. Why go to a salon? Don’t answer that.

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♥ Breakfast today (and yesterday) was an acai bowl, topped with coconut oil and a simple and satisfying olive oil granola (recipe link). I’ve made a number of batches of this, my most recent granola love, for presents and for Ben and myself. It is an easy, adaptable and endlessly satisfying recipe. I prefer it with agave syrup to maple, go figure, and flaked almonds are my nut of choice. Also, I find the shredded coconut to be an obligatory addition.

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What did you have for breakfast today?
Do tell, I love to be breakfast inspired! Write a comment below or share your eats on twitter and instagram with the hashtag #wednesdaybreakfastclub.

Heidi xo

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 19, 2014

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I’ve got hungry hands.

Hungry hands need fast sustenance.

With our pleasantly busying schedules, Ben and I are finding ourselves more and more hungry. In need of fuel. These cookies, made simply with spelt flour (a lovely alternative to regular wheat flour, and one that I can find readily as an organic variety) plus almond meal, olive oil and maple syrup, are my current cookie crush. They happen to be vegan and they happen to be delicious.

Batches have been made for morning tea on the farm, Ben’s work road trips or days at the office and family visitors. And because sometimes I just want a cookie, warm from the oven, all to myself. A chocolate chip cookie, at that.

Oh, yes, that’s the ingredient I left out above – chocolate. I favour rich blocks of quality dark chocolate in my baked goods, roughly chopping it with a knife and folding shards of various shapes and sizes into whatever batter I’m batching. It might be dark cooking chocolate, it might be regular, ‘sitting on the couch with a glass of red wine watching Mad Men whilst breaking off squares’ dark chocolate. Either way, splurge on the good stuff. You’re worth it. L’Oreal. Chocolate.

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe link).

 

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Recipe notes
: These cookies turn rather quickly from perfect to overcooked. If in doubt, take them out of the oven earlier, as they will certainly harden upon resting. Light olive oil is what you should use here, as the flavour is less pronounced than the regular stuff (and I favour cooking with olive oil over other plant oils) – edit: I’ve made these with light & extra virgin olive oil, and adored the extra virgin taste, so can only recommend you try it too. As with using quality dark chocolate (mentioned above), go for quality sea salt flakes here. These cookies should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within a few days – though they are absolutely best freshly baked. And lastly, if you’re thinking they would be outrageously good sandwiching a scoop of vanilla bean (or peanut butter – whaaaaaat?) ice-cream, then, Mr. President, you are correct.

Heidi xo

Potato Latkes and Mum’s Sorrel Pesto

May 17, 2014

We’ve been managing a lot of potatoes in our diet of late. Tis the season to forage for these underground lovelies, and we’ve accumulated quite a collection on my kitchen bench. That’s just dandy because, well, latkes

When talking potatoes, here’s how it goes in our house. Ben is mad for mash, I adore steamed and dressed with red wine vinegar and capers. We’re both bonkers for roasted and smashed. And then there’s latkes.

Have you made latkes before? They’re essentially keenly shredded potato, which is formed into a pancake with onion and egg, then fried. I quite favour them as a breakfast dish served with steamed spinach and a poached egg, the latkes playing the role of hash brown. I wouldn’t be mad if some hot sauce appeared alongside. They’re also delicious eaten in the form of latke leftovers, straight up and cold out of the fridge.  This is the recipe we use to make potato latkes in our house (recipe link).

Over Easter we caught up with long time friends and enjoyed a brunch of latkes alongside sliced tomato, cucumber and persimmon with sorrel pesto. We also had brioche Easter buns (from Chocolate in Mornington) and sticky figs. And coffee.

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Isn’t brunch the loveliest excuse to combine sweet and savoury? Over coffee, too, I mean, what more could you want? A bloody mary? Perhaps.

Here’s the recipe for mum’s sorrel pesto, which always seems to garner admiration. It is simple and lovely and zesty, the macadamias providing a certain, creamy difference to sharper pinenut or almond pestos.

Mum’s Sorrel Pesto

Ingredients
1 big bunch Sorrel
2 small cloves Garlic
3 tablespoons Macadamia Nuts (or pinenuts or almonds)
A handful of Parmesan Cheese
Zest and juice of 1/2 – 1 small Lemon (preferably an organic Meyer lemon)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Method
1. Remove the hard stalks from the sorrel, peel the garlic and grate a handful of parmesan cheese.
2. In a food processor, blitz the sorrel, garlic, nuts, cheese, lemon zest and the juice of half the lemon. Drizzle the oil until it begins to resemble a paste. Taste and adjust for more lemon, oil, parmesan or sea salt as desired.
3. Store in the fridge in an airtight container or jar, with a layer of oil on top. It will keep good for a week. Enjoy on bread, through pasta, on crackers, with vegetable sticks or…latkes.

Heidi xo

 

 

Mother’s Day Lunch

May 13, 2014

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A lunch with family at my parents’ house for Mother’s Day, flavoured with sticky roasted tomatoes, a sweet quince cake and punctuated by French bubbles. We gave Mum an adorable little pumpkin, some frozen South Melbourne Market dim sims (for those nights when…) and a vintage duck plate I bought while in Tasmania. And in turn, mum created a feast. Somehow that doesn’t seem even..

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We had  slow-roasted lamb with tomatoes (recipe link), a recipe which creates the most beautiful pan juices that beg to meet chunks of bread. My Aunty doesn’t eat meat, so she brought a really delicious chickpea and vegetable stew, which we ate alongside some steamed beans and peas. And we also devoured this pile of potato dauphinoise, which ingeniously involves anchovies (recipe link). For dessert, a lovely quince almond cake (recipe link – note: mum used light olive oil and demerara sugar on top) that is rivalling this cardamom snacking cake for my most favourite cake. I’d best make it again soon, just to be certain.

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Happy Mother’s Day, mum. I have no words. But yesterday at work, after one of our chats between clients, I retreated to my room smiling to myself…not quite able to believe how lucky I am to be your daughter.

Heidi xo

 

Banana Soft Serve is so 80’s

May 9, 2014

I was going through my mum’s old recipe book the other day. Amongst classic and comforting casserole dishes, cherished family cake recipes and a couple of definite 80’s-era baked goods (cottage cheese and wheat germ, anyone?) there was a recipe for banana ice-cream. This new craze of freezing then pureeing bananas into “ice-cream”, it turns out it’s not so new. Trust my mum to be onto it.

It’s no secret I’m mad for banana soft serve. I even made some yesterday despite sure freezing early May temperatures outside. I couldn’t feel my hands to the degree to which one desires for regular functioning, but I had me one tasty bowl of frozen pureed banana. That’s just what this soft serve is – frozen, pureed banana. And it’s scrumptious.

You can absolutely create this delight in a food processor, but imagine if you had a funky machine to simply and swiftly send you to soft-serve city? Well, friends, now do I. The good folk at Yonanas sent me one of their ace machines so I could plow through my frozen bananas with such satisfying regularity. I’m super smitten with this efficient ice-cream trickster, which does a stellar job of turning frozen fruit into creamy meals or snacks.

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I’ve been topping my banana soft serve with toasted nuts and seeds, or perhaps a bit of granola, which is really tasty. Stirring a hefty spoon of almond butter through the mix is absolutely a smart move. I’m yet to try a raw cacao concoction but I think we all know how that is going to end. Deliciously, that’s how.

Oh and look at that, the team at Yonanas are letting me give one machine away right here on my blog. Isn’t that swell? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I shall select a winner at random next week. This competition is open to Australian readers only. You have one week (until the 16th May) to enter and stock your freezer with bananas.

UPDATE: via random number generator, Felhuang (comment #21) was picked to be the winner. Yay for Felhuang!


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Banana Soft Serve with Toasted Macadamias and Coconut

Serves 1

Ingredients
1 very large or two small ripe Bananas*, frozen and peeled (wrapped in plastic wrap) but unsliced
2 tablespoons mixed Macadamia Nuts and Walnuts
1/2 tablespoon Shredded Coconut
A pinch of Sea Salt flakes

* to get a decent serving, you’ll likely need two bananas

Method
1. Put your bananas in the freezer for at least four hours.
2. Toast your nuts in a skillet on the stovetop over a gentle heat until golden (~3 minutes), adding the coconut towards the end of the process.
3. Puree your bananas in the Yonanas machine according to instructions. Top your soft serve with the toast nuts and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Heidi xo

 

I just can’t stop

May 7, 2014

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Enough with the porridge, already.

I know, I’m sorry. I just can’t stop.

The excellent world of instagram has opened my eyes to endless porridge possibilities. Just last week I said I was favouring simplistic bowls, but people have been doing crazy and inspiring things with their oats. Don’t even get me started on baked porridge, it’s a “no time to stir” saviour. Yesterday I made carrot cake baked oatmeal for the first time and though I was a tad keen with the honey, I can tell after a few tweaks that oaty carrot and sultana dish will be a firm favourite. My recent obsession? Cacao porridge topped with tahini

I was inspired to combine these two ingredients by a Wednesday Breakfast Club member on instagram (named @appetiteforhealth), who posted a picture of brown rice cacao porridge slathered with tahini. To this, my porridge brain swiftly swooned, “yes. Do this. Preferably tomorrow, please.” So I did. And then I made it again. And again. And again.

I’ve made this bowl about five times in the past two weeks, for myself and Ben. Oooooh I’m a little in love. I find cacao and tahini to be a terribly delicious combination, the sesame paste providing a nice contrast to the sweet chocolate oats. The more generous I am with the tahini, the longer this bowl keeps me going, which is always welcome when I have clients at 11am or midday. Otherwise I find myself begging  “so what type of biscuits did you say you ate? No really, describe them to me…” Tahini satiates the hungry food detective in me and helps keep me on the case.

Nope, I just can’t stop. And I don’t really want to.

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Cacao Porridge topped with Tahini

Serves 1

Ingredients
1/3 cup Rolled Oats
1 cup Milk (extra for drizzling)
1 tablespoon Raw Cacao (this is a keen portion, use less if you don’t like such a rich bowl)
1 heaped teaspoon Maca Powder (not necessary, but it’s something I’m playing with at the moment)
1 heaped teaspoon Coconut Palm Sugar (feel free to use any sweetener you wish here, I just had a bag to use and love the flavour of this stuff. I find it helps mask the Maca flavour, which, honestly, is kinda funky)
1 tablespoon Unhulled Tahini
1/2 tablespoon Sunflower Seeds
A small pinch of Sea Salt

Method
1. Soak your oats in 1/2 cup milk for 15 minutes while you have a shower or do whatever you fancy (this helps the oats to get super creamy).
2. Heat the oats, adding 1/4 cup more milk (and then more milk/water as required) until they’re soft, cooked and plump. Use a low-medium heat and turn the oats down as you get into the cooking process. I don’t stir them constantly but just watch to make sure they don’t bubble over or catch on the bottom. I cook my oats for about 10-15 minutes, depending on whether I’ve added some steel cut oats to the mix or how long I’ve soaked them for.
3. Meanwhile, toast your sunflower seeds until golden for a couple of minutes in a pan on the stove over low heat.
4. Towards the end of the cooking process, add the cacao, maca and sweetener. Stir well (use a whisk if required to remove any lumps – trust me, you don’t want a lump of straight maca in your mouth) and add some more milk if required (I always add more here).
5. Serve your porridge in a bowl, topped with tahini (I warm mine in a bowl sitting in hot water if it’s too firm to drizzle) and sunflower seeds and a cheeky pinch of sea salt if you’re so inclined.

What did you have for breakfast today?

Heidi xo

 

 

My Love of Lentils

May 5, 2014

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My mum is a crafty gal.

I think it’s the teacher in her. Both my Nana and mum were Kinder teachers who wouldn’t blink at eye at fashioning puppets or sewing a button. Oh, but my needle work is shameful, worthy of disownment. What I have inherited, however, is the love of and ability to craft nourishing meals. And I don’t think that’s such a shabby skill.

Lentils were frequently on the menu in our house when I was growing up. Not only are they a nutritious meal, they’re also incredibly thrifty. And filling! This last factor was particularly relevant, as my mum was dealing with three hungry kids with an ability to eat double servings like it was no thing. “This should have made more meals…” was forever coming out of my her mouth.

Mum’s lentils were cooked in a tomatoey, Mediterranean style and served over rice. Leftovers were eaten cold on buttered toast for breakfast. Everyone in my family adored them. My younger brother continues to receive lentil care packages and I continue to get jealous whenever I see them. Though I know mum would craft a pot for me in the blink of an eye if I were to ask.

These days I keenly make lentils for my husband and I whenever we need a quick, nutritious, thrifty and filling meal. I’ll honour my mum’s tradition and serve them over rice, but lately I’ve been mixing things up, heading away from tomato territory and into the spiced land of Dahl. It’s a completely nourishing meal, and though it changes slightly each batch I make (a touch less turmeric this time, maybe more ginger the next), it always retains that comforting quality. Homemade, crafted lentil love.

Dahl

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 small Brown Onion, finely diced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon grated fresh Ginger
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala
A pinch of ground Cinnamon
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1/2 cup diced Red Capsicum
1 cup dried Split Red Lentils
3.5 cups Water (or half homemade stock, half water)
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
To serve: steamed rice and parsley

Method
1. Rinse the lentils well and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a good pinch of salt, turn the heat down and cook for ~5 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin seeds and toast for ~30 seconds, followed by the turmeric, garam masala, cinnamon and a good crack of freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for a further 30 seconds, stirring, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
3. Add the capsicum and cook for a couple of minutes until softened (add a dash of water if the bottom is catching). Add the rinsed lentils and stir to coat. Add the water (or water and stock) and bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for ~20 minutes until the lentils have absorbed a lot of the liquid and are cooked (nicely soft but not too mushy).
4. Add the red wine vinegar, stir well and taste for seasoning (I salt the lentils at this point, the amount depending on whether I’ve used stock, etc). Serve over steamed rice, topped with some fresh parsley.

DSC03961

Heidi xo