Mystery Burgers

Not the mystery burgers…

On Sunday, we were all busy with various projects in the yard and shop. At some point I glanced at the clock and realised no one had thought about dinner, and it was getting late.

In the fridge was a small quantity of baked pumpkin—not enough to pair with the pie crust in the fridge for a galette, which would have been easy and quick.

Then I noticed a package of tofu in the back of the fridge.

And a wedge of blue cheese.

Before long, I had concocted pumpkin tofu burgers with blue cheese melted on top. Oh my! They were delicious!

Tragically, I have no idea what I put in them. I didn’t measure, didn’t write anything down.

Aside from the pumpkin and tofu, I remember a shallot, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, ground coriander, paprika, salt, soy sauce, black pepper, cumin, bread crumbs, egg…but how much of each?

Nope. I couldn’t recreate these things. I might have been more careful had I known they would turn out so well. But I was rushing, using whatever I could find in the fridge and cupboard, going by the seat of my pants.

I didn’t even take a photo of them.

I suppose I’ll just have to make them again, more carefully. Mmm! I like that idea.

Cranberry Orange Scones

I wanted lemon scones for breakfast this morning, but had no lemons. I made these instead, based loosely on my lemon scone recipe. I can’t think why I ever wanted lemon…

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups barley flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
125 g (1/2 cup) butter
1 egg
2/4 cup unsweetened yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
grated rind of 1 orange
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Whisk together the egg, yogurt, juice and orange rind in another bowl. Toss the cranberries with the flour mixture, then mix in the wet ingredients. Once all the flour is incorporated, gently knead the dough in the bowl (just 2 or 3 turns). Divide the dough in half. On a floured board, pat each half into a round about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Cut each round into 8 wedges, and arrange the wedges on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 190ºC (375ºF) for 15 to 20 minutes, until nicely browned.

Eat them quickly, before someone else gets to them!

Recipe Rescue

As you all probably know by now, my husband and I develop a lot of our own recipes. We also have recipes collected from friends and family members, magazines, and library books.

For over twenty-five years, we collected all these recipes in a notebook that was never designed to manage so much paper. I looked for a replacement for a long time and found nothing suitable.

Nothing marketed as a recipe notebook, that is. When I got creative (read desperate) I found the perfect solution.

  • One D-ring binder, A5 size
  • A pack of 100 A5 sheet protectors
  • One A5 size lined notebook

I added some homemade card stock tabs to help me organise, and voila—a perfect recipe notebook, with plenty of space for all our recipes.

I can slip photocopied recipes into the sleeves where they’re visible, not wadded together in the back of the notebook like they used to be, and I didn’t even have to copy the handwritten recipes—I just slipped the pages from the old notebook into the sleeves of the new. And the bonus is that recipes are now protected from the inevitable spills.

Crazy Cake Season 2018—#2

My son left it wide open for me this year. He wanted his usual spice cake (the one I’ve marked with his name in the cookbook), but he left it up to me how I decorated it.

I swear that was more difficult than being told what he wanted.

After many hours scouring the cupboards and looking at cake photos online for inspiration, I came up with a large geode.

Most geode cakes online are, frankly, weird—an ordinary tiered cake covered smoothy in fondant, with a slash down the side filled with geode crystals. They don’t look like a geode at all, and some look disturbingly like vaginas. I didn’t think my son would appreciate that. I strove for a more natural geode look.

I also hoped for a tastier geode material. I was inspired to do a geode by a bag of crystalised ginger in the cupboard. Most geode cakes, though, are made with rock candy, which isn’t the nicest accompaniment to cake. On a spice cake, I thought crystalised ginger would be a much more appropriate flavour (and texture). Unfortunately, my experiments with colouring ginger were uninspiring—the ginger had a beautiful sparkling appearance, but light colours looked grey on the yellowish ginger, and dark colours looked black. I couldn’t manage a nice geode-like lavender.

So I made purple hard candy and broke it into shards for the crystals.

The result was reasonably geode-like, and easy to make. And better than a crystal vagina.

Crazy Cake Season 2018–Cake #1

It’s that time of year again, when I get to indulge in all things cakey.

The girl asked for ‘a mossy hummock with life’ this year. I had fun creating invertebrates and fungi from Mexican paste. In hindsight, I should have made more critters—when it came time to place them on the cake, it felt sparsely populated. But the final effect was fun, and the overly decadent chocolate cake underneath was spectacular.

50 Ways to Eat Zucchini

I’ve been humming the Paul Simon tune, Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover, but changing the words a little…

There must be fifty ways to eat zucchini.

Just fry it in ghee, Lee, make a stir fry, Guy
Don’t need to be fancy, Nancy, just listen to me
Pop it in lasagne, Yolanda, don’t need to be fond of it
Just put it in tea, Lee, and eat your zucchini.

Wondering how many ways we do eat zucchini, I started a list.

I got to 42 before I had to think too hard. So here we go…

  1. Raw sticks dipped in skordalia or your favourite veggie dip.
  2. As crostini: thinly sliced and topped with cheese, tapanade or olivade.
  3. With peas, carrots and pesto over pasta.
  4. In burgers.
  5. In enchiladas.
  6. Grated in a tomatoey spaghetti sauce (adds wonderful texture).
  7. Grated, raw, in burritos.
  8. In vegetable pakoras.
  9. In calzones.
  10. In cheese pasties.
  11. On pizza.
  12. Herb and parmesan-crusted.
  13. Zucchini bread.
  14. Zucchini cake.
  15. Chocolate zucchini cake.
  16. Zucchini sorbet (trust me, this is amazing!).
  17. Frittata.
  18. In stir-fry.
  19. In fried rice.
  20. In Not Yo Mama’s Mac and Cheese.
  21. Stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.
  22. In vegetable soup.
  23. Zucchini and tomato tart.
  24. In quiche.
  25. Zucchini and cheese madeleines.
  26. Zucchini and cheese muffins.
  27. In roast vegetables.
  28. Grilled.
  29. Zucchini souffle (not the best souffle–zucchini releases too much water).
  30. Coleslaw with zucchini.
  31. Kebabs.
  32. Oven-baked Zucchini tomato risotto.
  33. Ratatouille.
  34. Sauteed with garlic and herbs.
  35. In summer vegetable stew.
  36. Panir Louki Tarkari–Paneer, zucchini and red bell peppers.
  37. Zucchini pickles (meh. I wouldn’t do these again).
  38. Mixed vegetable curry.
  39. Braised.
  40. Zucchini fritters.
  41. Zucchini cheese tart.
  42. In Uplifted Polenta Lasagne.

There are our 42 ways. There must be (at least) 50 ways to eat zucchini.

Good Mum, Bad Mum

It rained all day today, as it did yesterday, and as it’s supposed to do tomorrow. The weather is fine by me–plenty of water for the garden, and I have lots of writing to do–but for the kids, three days of rain in the middle of the summer is hard to manage.

What can a mum do under these circumstances, but bake, and enlist the kids’ help? So we made soft pretzels and zucchini cupcakes (see previous blog post). It doesn’t take all day, now the kids are teens, but it gave them something to do for a little while, and treats to eat afterwards.

I felt like such a good mum…

Then I thought about the fact I let my kids eat soft pretzels, pickles and brie for lunch, with a big frosted cupcake afterwards (not to mention licking the bowl and beaters).

Such a bad mum!

All those times we’ve fed our children healthy, balanced meals…you know what they’re going to remember? Yep. Pretzels and pickles for lunch.

I know this, because the meals I most vividly remember my mother making when I was a kid were the naughty ones–hot apple pie with milk (for dinner–the whole meal!) and raspberry shortcake (again, the entirety of the meal). Those meals were legendary, precisely because they weren’t healthy and balanced. They were naughty and we knew it.

Such a bad mum!

Such a good mum!