Dinosaur Salad

We were watching Peppa Pig the other day, Sophia loves her and every time she says Peppa Pig she snorts like a pig which is hilarious – to me anyway :) – So Peppa’s brother George wouldn’t eat his salad which Grandpa Pig had grown in his own garden, so Grandpa Pig tore up the pieces of lettuce and made a dinosaur with it and cucumber & tomatoes.

Soph & Zachie thought it was great and tonight we had a go at it as well. I have found that a sure fire way to get the kids to eat is to get them involved in making the food. Tonight was no different. Zachie had grazed all day so wolfed down this salad followed by a bowl of weetbix, another great alternative to dinner when you know if they don’t eat something they’ll be up through the night!

Now I do have to confess that I have no issue at all with getting either of our kids to eat salad, they love it and would quite possibly eat only salad, some nights it’s a fight for who gets the most.

My dear friend gave me her wonderful garden salad recipe and it’s a staple in our house even through winter, I love salad in preference to vegies any day as does Hubby, which is probably where the kids get it from as well.

If you struggle to get your kids to eat salads or vegetables or just want to make it a bit more fun, this could be the way… stay tuned for a Semi Trailer styled salad soon.

Dee’s delicious Salad

You will need for 2 adults & 2 kids

1 tomato diced

1 decent sized Lebanese cucumber peeled, forked & quartered

4-6 coz lettuce leaves, rinsed and chopped

100gms of danish fetta, crumbled

dash of balsamic vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a salad bowl, mix well and serve. We do also add avocado &/or olives on occasion too.

Conversions

We are metric, there I said it, in Australia we’re ahead of the pack in more ways than one, we drive on the Right (Correct) ;) side of the road, things are in celcius, metres, centimetres, kilometres, grams & kilos and they have been since 1966 – there was a song about it too. Even though we now have a generation of people myself included who have only ever been taught the metric system yet people still refer to things in feet & inches, pounds & ounces.

This usually only happens when refering to someones height or the weight of a baby, but that said it still seems strange – no so strange when translating recipes from your Grandmother or even your mother. We’ve come across a few recipes that are from a time where the oven would have either been wood or coal fired or a slowcombustion which is a bit like an arga I think, I think I do also remember my Grandma’s slow combustion stove, but I can’t be sure… it was a long time ago.

In Morocco our “Oven” is antiquated at best and it’s a wonder things turn out as well as they do, I have practice though on our oven which has no temperature gauge which is a good way to learn how to cook and how to tell when things are done. They were talking about this on Masterchef the other night and how you tell when things are cooked, the Chefs at school used to say it’s cooked when it’s cooked without giving a time frame and it used to frustrate me no end.

But it’s true… it’s cooked when it’s cooked… you can tell by the smell of a cake, the feel of a streak, the look and feel of a roast & the colour on biscuits (cookies). Remember bread sounds hollow when it’s cooked and you tap the bottom.

If you put your thumb & forefinger together and feel the meat on your thumb that feeling or resistance is the same as when you push the meat of a steak for Bleu, Thumb & middle finger is rare, thumb & ring is medium & thumb & little finger is well done – as a rule of thumb :D

So here is a bit of a list – from a cookbook we’ve had for over 50 years… all you need to remember is brown sugar is usually packed and the recipe would indicate whether it’s lightly or tightly packed.

Oh and here in Australia 1 cup equals 250 Mls, it takes 4 cups to make a litre (1000mls) a teaspoon is 5 mls, a tablespoon is 20mls.

A good tip I heard once was to place a sheet of baking paper in your oven and leave it there for a while, you will be able to see where the hot spots in your oven are. I hope this helps with your baking.

Home delivery Fruit & Vegies

A few weeks ago we had lunch with a friend when her box of fruit & vegies were delivered to her door, looking at what was available all freshly picked and packed got me thinking… With 2 small children, one of whom has taken to questioning every purchase we make at the supermarket and constantly saying we need this, we need that has started to wear a bit thin with me, add to that working part time as well and feeling a little like there are not enough hours in the day I decided that I’d give the home delivery option a go.

I love going to the market and hand selecting our fruit and veg and I think I will still do that but this option gives us more than enough fruit & veg for the week, it’s seasonal which is fantastic, it’s organic – even better and compared to organic prices at the market it’s very reasonably priced. It will also ensure that we actually only buy what we will use for the week rather than having too many of something or another and things going off in the fridge before we can use them.

I have noticed that even though it’s only 2 days a week that our children are in child care they don’t seem to be eating as much as what they would have done if they were at home all week, that an by the time my working week finishes it’s Thursday which is normally the day I head to the Preston Market for a shop.

Anyway, after our box of goodies was delivered yesterday I made spaghetti bolognaise with organic carrots, celery & onions. Zachie ate a pear & an orange both of which he said were Delicious Mummy! So I do think I am on a winner, I just need to remember to let them know – no broccoli or cabbage, that’s the great thing about this service you can say I don’t want Chinese greens, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato, kale, chard, silverbeet etc (all of the things we aren’t really fans of or wouldn’t use in day to day cooking.)

I will still head to the market today to buy cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh bread etc but give or take a few items (which you could add to your order) we’re set for the week! Happy days people!

You can check out Victoria Organic Delivery here if you live in Melbourne or even Victoria as they deliver it seems to most places.

We got 6 Apples, 5 Bananas, 3 Zucchini, 5 large Potatoes, 4 Pears, 3 Onions, 1/2 a bunch of celery, 3 heads of broccoli, 1/2 a cabbage, 6 mandarins, 4 oranges, a bag of gourmet lettuce, 3 kiwi fruits & 2 avocados.

Now all I have to do is work out what to do with the cabbage??

Sweet Corn

Corn, we love the stuff – you know it’s in so many things in many different forms, but we like corn au naturale or popped as in popcorn. Autumn in Melbourne is gorgeous – no doubt about it, the mornings are cool & crisp and days for the most part a glorious sunshine, although having said that undoubtedly the weather will change in the next 10 mins and then change again as most Melburnians know. Autumn is also bring us a change in what’s available and in season at the market, corn is on that list! Yay!! For a list of seasonal fruit & vegetables click here.

Fresh corn is one of those things that you can use in a lot of other things like fried rice, corn jacks, on the barbeque, in salads, the possibilities are almost endless, we as I said like ours plain and simple.

I usually cut our cobs in half and everyone gets a half each as I’d usually serve it with other things as well, but tonight Sophia kept opening the fridge and pointing to the corn with a bit of an err err (she’s still on one to two words at 1 & 1/2 years of age) she’s definitely able to get across to us what she wants.

So corn on it’s own is what they had for dinner. Husk your corn and remove as much of the silk as you can, place them in a pot that is large enough to fit them in, cover with water and bring to the boil, boil for about 5-8 mins. Don’t add any salt to the water as this causes the corn kernels to go tough, you can add it later if you like.

That’s it.. simple, quick and easy and for kids it’s really a meal in its self. You can of course add butter, salt & pepper, even Lime juice which comes highly recommended.(thanks Liesel) pretty much anything else you fancy.

Toasted Sandwiches

Winter is definitely coming our way here in Melbourne and hubby brought home enough bread to feed an army the other day from his friend who runs a bread shop. In an effort to use some of it up I figured it was cold enough to bring out the Sandwich Press, vintage I know, all I would need is a tin of Braised Steak and we’d be living in the 70’s!

Instead the kids had an old favourite – cheese & tomato – we added some of these to some Mersey Valley tasty with some olives and voila pizza in a sandwich! Delicious if I say so myself!!

Obviously there are all sorts of things you can put into a toasted sandwich, salami, straz, bacon, chicken, all the different cheeses, tomatoes, capsicums, olives, eggplant, onions to name a few. Foccacia, tortillas, ciabatta, any bread & muffins could be toasted, you could even make pancakes on your sandwich press as well, maybe even pizza?

I did a bit of a google search and there are a number of suppliers of these wonderful pickles in Australia & I would think that they’d be available around the world – I highly recommend them, you know how sometimes when you buy chargrilled eggplant it’s not actually cooked enough and is really chewy – well these are wonderful, gorgeous & silky the way eggplant (aubergines) should be.

Chocolate Cake

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So tomorrow is our son Zachie’s 4th birthday, we had a party for him today at Hays Paddock, a fantastic park in Kew East, there is an enclosed section which has an adventure playground and loads of room to run around, there are a couple of ovals as well just to make sure there is enough space for just about everyone!

It’s autumn here in Melbourne and we had a glorious day of sunshine & cool breezes without a cloud in the sky. I saw a cake similar to the design I made and always thought it’d be great for our boy who loves everything to do with trucks and construction.

You will need

250g Butter

400g Sugar

250g Self Raising Flour

50g Cocoa

1 tsp Vanilla

200ml Milk

4 Eggs

Pre heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius.

Cream the butter & sugar until it’s light and fluffy, add the eggs one by one beating well in between. Sift the flour & cocoa and add to the mix, while slowly beating pour in the milk, mix well for about a minute and ensure it’s all combined.

Grease & line a 26 cm spring form or round tin, pour the batter into prepared tin and bake at 170 degrees Celsius for approx 40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.  Allow to stand in the tin for 5 mins or so and then remove and allow to cool completely.

You could leave it at that, but I made some chocolate butter icing, for which you’ll need 250g butter softened, 3 cups pure icing sugar and a tablespoon of cocoa, make sure you sift the icing sugar to remove all the lumps and add to the butter after you have creamed it and it’s light and fluffy, also add the cocoa.

I used violet crumbles & small snickers bars as the rocks, violet crumble is chocolate covered honeycomb.

Enjoy & happy happy birthday my darling boy – I love you right up to the moon and back and up again and back! xxx Mumma

Spaghetti Bolognaise aka “Sk betty”

So this working mother thing requires a heck of a lot of organisation, especially with 2 children under 4 who are starving & tired when they get home from child care. So Thursday being the day off and market day I decided to make a supply of Spag Bol or Sk betty as it’s become known by Zachie.

You will need: (to make this much and enough for 3 adults & 3 kids)

1.5 kg Minced Beef

2 large brown onions, diced

2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

3-4 large mushrooms, diced

4 400gm tins of crushed gourmet tomatoes.

handful of chopped parsley

lug of olive oil

2 tsp smokey paprika

Salt & pepper

3 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 cup tomato paste

3 tsp powdered beef stock (Massell)

3 tins of water

In your largest pan fry off the garlic & onions until they’re translucent, add the diced mushrooms & fry off. (I dice the mushrooms fairly finely so they’re about the size of the mince meat) then add the meat in batches so that it is all browned & broken up before you add more, you want to fry & brown the meat not stew it. Once it’s all cooked & mixed in you add all the crushed tomatoes & fill the tins with water and add 3 tins worth of water, add tomato paste, paprika, beef stock & salt & pepper to taste.

Don’t add too much salt at this stage as you can always add more towards the end of cooking. Add the chopped parsley & bring to the boil, simmer gently for 1 &1/2 hours stirring regularly until the sauce thickens. Pack into freezer proof containers & freeze, when I am freezing sauce I leave it a little runnier than I would if I am serving it straight away so that when the time comes to use it I can simmer it a little to increase the flavour.

This quantity gave us 2 large 2 litre containers 1 small one for the kids and a bit leftover which I was thinking I could put on nachos or something.

To serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook spaghetti until it’s al dente, approx 12-15 mins, serve with lots of grated parmesan.

P.S. The gourmet tomatoes I get from UCG wholesalers in Preston – Bell Street they’re 79c a tin, so unless the supermarkets have them on special, that’s the best buy in my opinion, also love Annalisa tomatoes too.