harvested

harvested

One of the advantages of city living is proximity to cafés and restaurants. It can also be dangerously tempting- it’s so easy to fritter away dollar after dollar on coffee and cake. Sometimes, however, it’s really worth forking out for a meal and this was one of those occasions.

Today I lunched at harvested, a pop up restaurant by food rescue organisation Oz Harvest. All the food on the menu has been rescued in some way, either from farms, restaurants, or shops/supermarkets. It’s basically food waste transformed into restaurant quality fare.

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first in the door and eating alone- table one!

harvested menu

You pay $15 as soon as you walk in the door and boy is it good value for money! Your $15 also allows Oz Harvest to feed 30 hungry Australians. I arrived as soon as they opened at 11:30am (to coincide with baby boy’s nap) and was seated appropriately at table number one. I ticked the items I desired on the menu and was promptly served the delicious dishes below.

flatbread and pumpkin labneh

spelt flatbread, pumpkin labneh

brussel sprouts

roast brussel sprout, crisp spiced onion, toasted almond dressing

lamb and hummus

spiced lamb, hummous, pine nut, baby cues salad

The food was lovely. I really enjoyed it and it was so nice to eat out guilt free. It was also great to see what beautiful meals can be created with food that was otherwise destined for the tip. Quite inspiring and a little challenge for those of us who cook and manage the food budget. I finished everything on my plate but any leftovers are composted. The serving sizes are also designed to prevent wastage.

If you’re in Sydney I highly recommend you visit for lunch before their donated lease from City West Housing finishes at the end of July. Go with someone else if you can, as you’ll be able to try more items on the menu. There’s no bookings, just turn up hungry!

Location: harvested, 56 Harris St, Pyrmont NSW
Opening times: Every Tuesday & Wednesday lunch only from 11.30am – 2.30pm (until end July 2015) 

Back to reality

My baby boy continues to grow.

My baby boy continues to grow.

So tomorrow’s the big day. Back to reality. Christmas, New Year, and now my maternity leave have all come to an end. It will be hard to get back into the swing of things but part of me is looking forward to it. The thing about being home all the time, or being on holidays, is that my routine falls apart. Sometimes that is absolute bliss, not having to be anywhere or do anything, but in truth my house looks less than fabulous and I don’t feel in control. If I’m really honest there was even an occasion on our holiday where I had to borrow a pair of my Mum’s knickers because in my super relaxed state I had left the washing pile go one day too many. Lesson learned.

As usual our holiday season budget was tight but we managed to have a great little holiday away from the city. Rather than pay through the nose to stay somewhere fancy we drove up to our family farm where the only costs are $5 a night per adult (to cover our electricity usage etc) and our food and alcohol. We had been putting aside a small amount each fortnight so the money was ready and waiting come holiday time. We used a Christmas Savings Account from Teachers Mutual Bank which allows you to set up direct debit and a regular savings plan so you don’t even have to remember to put the money aside, it’s all done for you. Plus you can’t touch the money until November- great if you have self-control issues! So our holiday wasn’t glamorous or adventurous but it was amazing. It was wonderful to have a change of scenery and not be exposed to all the reminders of work at home. Plus I relished being a total dag! We were so isolated I could wear whatever was comfortable and even if someone came to visit we could see/hear them coming as the cattle grid entrance is quite a drive from the house, leaving me time to throw on something presentable.

I like to start the new year fresh so I have been going through the freezer and pantry (I don’t really have a pantry, just drawers and open shelves) and using anything and everything lying around. It’s good to take stock of what I have and see what gets used most often. Speaking of stock, I have to share this amazing photo of my bone broth I had frozen in the freezer.

Bone broth

Check out that thick layer of fat with all that gelatinous goodness poking through! Sorry if that grosses you out but I find it fascinating, and kinda beautiful. Chilling or freezing bone broth (or stock or soup for that matter) reveals the fat content and it’s up to you what you do with this information. I usually leave it as is, for flavour and nutrition, but you could scoop the fat off the top and use for other cooking (if you’ve used chicken bones that fat is called ‘schmaltz’, which you may have seen mentioned in Jewish recipes), or discard if you have something against fat. It’s also great to see how much gelatin you managed to produce as this is a sign of a good bone broth from healthy animals. I think I’ll do a post on bone broth and stock in the near future. Let me know if this is something you’d be interested in. I hope to post more regularly once I’m back into routine.

Anyway I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. I hope your holiday season was wonderful and 2015 is the best year yet! I think it will be, I can feel it in my bones. xx

This monster ate all the new growth on my gardenias and failed to return to my garden as a butterfly!

This monster ate all the new growth on my gardenias and failed to return to my garden as a butterfly!

Willa's birthday was right before Christmas. After we got home from her picnic party she crashed out on the lounge.

Willa’s birthday was right before Christmas, after we got home from her picnic party she crashed out on the lounge

Homemade spiced fruit

Homemade spiced fruit

Willa wasn't sure what to make of the green tree frogs.

Willa wasn’t sure what to make of all the green tree frogs at the farm

My husband escaped from work by, ahem, doing farm work.

My husband escaped from work by, ahem, doing farm work

Christmas Tree

So I am really turning into my mother- we bought each other exactly the same thing!

So I am really turning into my mother- we bought each other exactly the same thing!

My Dad's baked ham for Christmas lunch

My Dad baked ham for Christmas lunch

Father and son on the hammock.

Father and son on the hammock

Moet and mozzie coils on the back verandah- this sums up our holiday season.

Moet and mozzie coils on the back verandah- this sums up our holiday season

I made scrolls with my spiced fruit and some chocolate. Yum!

I made Christmas scrolls with my spiced fruit and some chocolate. Yum!

My favourite beach in the whole world where I can sit on grass instead of sand!

My favourite beach in the whole world where I can sit on grass instead of sand!

We swam with tiny fish and collected shells.

We swam with tiny fish and collected shells

And I sat under this gorgeous tree. I think it's a dragon tree?

And I sat under this gorgeous tree. I think it’s a dragon tree?

Willa and Wesley the whippet

Willa and Wesley the whippet

This is one of the large strangler figs on the farm. Best treehouse ever!

This is one of the large strangler figs on the farm. Best treehouse ever!

My daughter rode a pony for the first time

First pony ride!

Yes you still see bikes outside the takeaway shop in a country town.

Yes, you still see bikes unlocked outside the takeaway shop in a country town

Devonshire tea in town

Devonshire tea in town

My husband's aunt made Willa this beautiful apron for Christmas!

My husband’s aunt made Willa this beautiful apron for Christmas!

Mummy's little helper

Mummy’s little helper

I used the left over spiced fruit to make fruit buns when we got home.

Willa and I used the left over spiced fruit to make fruit buns when we got home

A new Anthony Lister work welcomed us back to Sydney.

A new Anthony Lister work welcomed us back to Sydney

Cheats Christmas Fudge

Cheats Christmas Fudge

So you’re down to the wire and need something quick, easy, and Christmas-y to share with colleagues, gift to neighbours, or top up your party spread? Here comes your lifesaver: Cheats Christmas Fudge.

I must confess the only thing Christmas-y about this fudge is the crushed candy canes on top. That’s kind of a blessing though- it means you can whip this up at anytime of the year by swapping out the topping for another of your choice. Nuts are the first thing that come to my mind but I’m sure you have plenty of suggestions. Crushing the candy canes is a job undertaken very enthusiastically by toddlers in my experience. Stick a handful of candy canes in a plastic bag, seal it, hand a rolling pin to any child who needs to release some pent up up energy, remove all breakable objects from the vicinity, and let them at it. Tea towels are a good idea to protect your bench top.

Crushing candy canes

If you exclude the candy canes this recipe only has two ingredients. That’s correct. Two.

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (395g)
3 cups chocolate melts (I used milk chocolate but you could experiment with dark)

Method:

  1. Line a slice tin with aluminium foil
  2. Place a double boiler (or if you’re like me and don’t have one, a bowl over a saucepan will suffice) on the stove and pop the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk in the top
  3. Heat gently until the chocolate has melted, then stir to combine
  4. Quickly pour the melted mix into your lined slice tin, smooth the top, and decorate with toppings of your choice (crushed candy canes in this case) or leave plain
  5. Stick the whole tray into the fridge to set for a couple of hours
  6. Once set cut into squares and package or plate as you see fit!

Melting

You can also experiment with flavours added to the fudge mix itself. This time I added a few drops of peppermint essence but you could also try vanilla, or almond essence would be great with blanched almonds on top! Just be careful when adding to the mix as any water will make the chocolate seize.

Are you a fudge fan? What other flavour combinations can you come up with?

Food glorious food! Salmon Rillettes

Ricotta, honey, and banana toast

One of the things I dislike about pregnancy is the restricted diet. Australian guidelines are very full-on regarding what pregnant women can and cannot eat. Of course my pregnancy hormones appeared to have taken a look at the ‘do not eat’ list and decided to crave everything on it, well and truly putting my willpower to the test!

The very same day I gave birth my darling husband went out and bought me a great big hunk of blue vein cheese. Be still my beating heart.

Coffee time!

I’ve very much enjoyed my coffee (not too much as I’m breastfeeding), soft cheese, and charcuterie post-birth. And smoked salmon! Oh how I love smoked salmon. It can be cost effective if you just use a little in a dish too.

I’ve made this Salmon Rillettes recipe a couple of times since Earle was born. It’s a  great recipe for us as I take the kids for a walk down to the fish markets to pick up the salmon fillets (I use tail as it’s boneless, cheap and gets flaked up anyway) and smoked salmon. It doesn’t involve a lot of cooking or fussing as you can prepare the salmon by pouring boiling water over it and leaving it to poach. Too easy! It’s a wonderful dish for summer as it doesn’t require you to heat up the kitchen.

Salmon Rillettes spread

Salmon Rillettes

Ingredients:
2 x 150g salmon fillets
75g smoked salmon, roughly chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbs capers, finely chopped
2 tbs lemon zest
handful of dill, finely chopped
3 tbs natural yoghurt (you could also use creme fraiche or sour cream but I make my own natural yoghurt so this is cheaper & easier for me)
salt, to season

Process:

  1. Poach the salmon by placing the fillets in a bowl, pour boiling water over the fillets, and leaving the bowl covered with a plate for 15 min
  2. Remove salmon skin (it peels away very easily after poaching) and flake the flesh into a bowl
  3. Add all the other ingredient and mix well
  4. D0ne!

Serve with crusty bread. You can toast any stale bread you have lying around or purchase a French baguette and slice it up into little rounds. It’s great as an hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party, or as part of a larger spread for a casual light dinner (how we usually enjoy it as per the image above). Hope you like it as much as we do!

Spring Arrival

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to write this post and something (or someone) always comes up! My apologies!

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Spring has finally arrived. If you’ve noticed my absence from this blog I’m sure you’ve been able to put two and two together and figure out we’ve had another little arrival in this house. Allow me to introduce my new baby boy Earle Heath. Earle was my maternal grandfather’s name and Heath is my maternal grandmother’s maiden name. He’s a gorgeous little thing and we’re loving getting to know him.

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About a week after we came home from hospital we made our way up the coast to visit my family. It was so nice to get out the city and be surrounded by all that space and greenery. We did the same thing when our daughter was born so it was nice to revisit with a different newborn.

If I try to write anymore there’s a chance I’ll never finish this post so allow me to share recent events in images. Thanks for looking and hopefully we’ll be back to normal transmission soon xx

Picnic

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What a week

Winter window

This week has been overwhelming. It is the first week of my maternity leave and I was looking forward to, no desperate for, a break. Instead my little girl got sick. Then she got sicker. Today is the first day neither of us has had some sort of medical appointment. Normally I love gloomy grey weather but it makes running errands with a sick toddler impossible. I was surprised how emotionally draining it can be having an unwell child. I wanted nothing more than to make her feel better but there was so little I could do. The pleading in her eyes when she tried to crawl into my lap but couldn’t fit due to my pregnant belly almost broke my heart.

The good news is she’s now on the mend. I’m slowly getting the house back in order but truth be told, at the moment there are more important things than a polished floor. I just want to nourish our bodies and be gentle to our spirits while everyone recuperates, physically and emotionally.

Grange

I should have known this week was going to be testing after a lovely dinner with my father and sister on Saturday night. My father is a wine collector and some of his collection was due to be enjoyed. Of course being pregnant I couldn’t indulge in the fine wines on offer (last time Dad opened some Grange I was pregnant with my toddler! The start of a week of Murphy’s Law!) so I had more than my fair share of pizza to make up for it. I like my Dad’s philosophy on wine- he buys it young and inexpensive and cellars it until it’s in it’s prime. The ultimate delayed gratification. Years ago, when the Government economic stimulus program saw my husband receive a stimulus payment we spent it on Australian wine. We figured it was keeping the money in the country and now we have some beautiful wine which has greatly increased in value. One of these days I might even get a chance to drink some!

Jasmine

Despite the wet weather my jasmine has decided it is well and truly spring. I love the way the vine climbs up outside my daughter’s window. When the weather is fine and the window open the sweet smell permeates the whole upper storey of the house. It seemed a shame to leave such beautiful blooms out in foul weather so I snipped a long tendril this morning and put it in our bedroom. The scent really does lift my spirits.

Bassinette

Last night the bassinette for our impending baby was delivered. As soon as it was unwrapped Willa put her doll inside, covered it with a scarf to act as a blanket, then pulled up her little chair and started reading her ‘baby’ a story. Cuteness overload. And very reassuring to see her role play a baby sibling in a loving way.

sesame seed bread

Terracotta bread tin

This week I received my new terracotta bread form. I seasoned the pan using vegetable oil earlier in the week and baked my second loaf in it today. I still use my breadmaker to do the hard work (kneading, rising etc) but the terracotta gives the bread such a lovely texture! The shape of the loaf is much nicer too (though as you can see in the picture above I was lax when forming the loaf and it’s rather lopsided- oops!).

Tea and knitting

Most of today I have spent on the lounge, drinking peppermint tea, and knitting. Turns out I actually buggered up the pattern so I’ll have to undo everything I did but it felt nice to get in the flow of knitting again, and so appropriate given the weather.  I also enjoyed the fruits of my labour, that is freshly baked bread slathered in butter. Delicious! Please excuse the crumbs on my belly!

Fresh bread

All in all I’m glad the week is over and a new one is on the way. I hope your week has treated you better and if not, you were able to focus on the simple pleasures like freshly baked bread and spring blooms.

Beneficial beans

Beans and pulses can be super cheap and a great way to increase fibre and protein in your diet. Due to the high protein content they are very filling, even for those members of the family who may baulk at the idea of a meat-free meal. They are also high in iron, although it is nonheme iron so it requires vitamin C to be absorbed properly. This is easy enough to do by including a fruit or vegetable high in vitamin C such as lemon or capscicum (bell peppers) in the dish. I’m currently anaemic due to my late stage of pregnancy and I’ve been increasing the amount of beans and pulses in our meals as there is only so much meat I can eat (and afford to eat!).

Soaked beans

I prefer to buy my beans dried. They are usually cheaper this way and it means I can store and prepare them the way I like. As I rarely drive they’re also easier to carry home- much lighter than a bunch of cans! If you are planning on using dried beans I cannot stress how important it is to soak them overnight! Soaking prevents that unpleasant gas and bloating effect that one can experience from eating beans (it’s one of the big reasons I like to prepare them myself as I find canned beans can produce discomfort). It also reduces the cooking time. If beans aren’t something you regularly include in your diet it’s also worth building up the amount you consume slowly, to allow your gut to adjust to the increase in fibre.

Bean packet

Rinsed beans

Beans in pressure cooker

I used to just prepare the amount of beans I needed for a recipe however I finally figured out it’s more effective to prepare a whole batch at once. I soak the whole packet over night, rinse the next morning, then pop in the pressure cooker with fresh water. It’s actually a very quick process. It only takes a minute to pour the dried beans into a bowl and cover with water before you go to bed, rinsing takes seconds, and the pressure cooker makes cooking super quick. Once they’re cooked I set aside the beans I need for my recipe that day, the rest I freeze in recipe sized portions (usually about a cup). This saves time and energy (gas used by the stove and electricity used by the freezer as a full freezer operates more efficiently) which equals dollars in my pocket!

I love having beans on hand in the freezer to toss into all sorts of meals to bulk things up. What’s your favourite meal using beans or pulses?