Thursday, 24 November 2016

A Family Affair - Melbourne Environs


What an adventure - just 7 days in Melbourne and I managed to pack in so much. Spending time with family can either be a great deal of fun or a lot of stress. Fortunately my stress levels only reached high playing "Pirate Mini Golf" because, damn it, I wanted a hole in one - which miraculously I managed to get.

We had a few days on beautiful Phillip Island. Four seasons in one day; hot and humid, cold and wet, hale and thunder. But this gave me a chance to see the The Nobbbies during a huge storm. There was a savage horizontal wind coming off the ocean, buffeting sand into our faces. It was a struggle to get a car door open without fingers and toes being trapped. But it was worth it to see this stunning scenery.




At the National Gallery of Victoria John Olsen's 'You Beaut Country' exhibition was wonderful. He has captured the very essence of the Australian Landscape with vivid oranges, yellows and reds. Not everyone's cup of tea I know, but I'm so inspired by his sense of movement and colour. Major disruption to the exhibition was a gas leak and the whole precinct was evacuated. Well done Melbourne.



A few days in northern Victoria's Woodend visiting family was terrific. The days started off with us wearing thick coats and winter woolies and ended in sleeveless t-shirts. It's a lovely part of Victoria in good weather, but it's very unpredicatable at the best of times.
Drummond Garden - Woodend


Once the sun came out we were taken on a tour of Duneira, the house and garden at Mt Macedon. Built in the 1870's the house boasts a stunning collection of paintings, art works, furniture and an impressive library. S R Stoneman the seventh owner of Duneira and the third generation of grocerymen from Victoria, died in 2002 leaving the house and garden for others to enjoy. It is now under the care and control of the S R Stoneman Foundation and Director Dr Jacqueline Ogeil.

The first glimpse of Duneira is from the sweeping driveway. English Elm trees underplanted with bluebells gives some indication that the gardens are going to be something special.

 There's 38 acres altogether, although the tour covered just a small area of the formal garden around the house. I was envious of the stunning horticultural gems in the garden which is maintained by a couple of full time staff and a multitude of volunteers. Not sure how they do it all!   The rambling gardens of Rhododendron, Azalea, Japanese Maples and Dogwoods were a photographers dream. My only wish was to have had more time to explore other areas of the property because I know there were more masterpieces to uncover.

Back in Melbourne we caught up with more family and friends, indulged in cocktails and delicious Indian curries. 

 On the journey home I started my list of things I must do before Christmas; need to get some preserves started, buy cherries and make jam, biscuits to bake and I haven't started my pudding yet. Considering it's only a few weeks to Christmas, I had better get a move on. (Check back later for my Cranberry Chutney recipe).

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Turmeric

Do you say Turmeric (as in Tuesday) or Turmeric (as in turtle) - one of those words which always confuses me. Does it matter as long as we are talking about the same thing? It's latin name is Curcuma longa and has been associated with Southern Asia for a very long time.  A wonderfully exotic spice, amazingly delicious, colourful, anti-inflammatory root, full of antioxidants and purported to stave off cancer and Alzheimer's.



Whether the claims are true or not, I'm convinced I need more of it in my diet.

Turmeric has been part of traditional medicine, or alternative Siddha, for thousands of years in southern India. It is used in savoury and sweet dishes and as a dye for clothing for Saris and Buddhist's robes. 

In India a marriage ritual sees bunches of turmeric tied around wrists or in Sri Lanka it is often tied with string and hung around the neck as an offering to the gods. So many uses for what looks like an insignificant root. I think it's one hell of a good thing to have in your life.

I don't have any recipes to pass on for using turmeric as a dye. Many of my curries and Tagine recipes contain it, but I can honestly say that one of the easiest ways to get it into your system is by adding it to milk. Sound strange?

Milk with turmeric or 'Golden Milk' is becoming very popular in the USA. The milk can be drunk by itself or added to your Bircher Muesli for breakfast. The initial paste preparation takes 5 minutes and will keep for 1 - 2 weeks in the fridge.



Firstly you need to make a paste which will be the basis of your milk.

Turmeric Paste

1/4 cup of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1/2 cup filtered or rain water
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan and on a low heat, mix until a thick paste is formed. This will take just a couple of minutes. 
Take off the heat and cool then place in a container and store in the fridge. It 
can be stored for 1 -2 weeks.

Turmeric Milk

1 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon turmeric paste
1 teaspoon coconut oil
honey to taste

Add milk, turmeric and coconut oil to a small saucepan and heat on low until the all the ingredients are mixed together. Don't allow the mixture to reach boiling point. Add honey and stir until melted, then take off the heat. Cool.





How to Use Turmeric Milk

As you can see, Bircher Muesli takes on a whole new dimension! You can use your favourite Muesli, whack it into a jar and steep in the milk over night! Top with some fresh fruit and yoghurt and you have a breakfast that will keep you going well into the day. I find this so filling that I don't generally need to have lunch.

I added some plain yoghurt and a few raspberries and enjoyed breakfast in the garden.




Turmeric milk can be drunk by itself. Once you have made it, addd a little extra honey and drink while still warm.

Just remember, like everything else, take small doses of turmeric to see how your body responds to it. It is good for you, there is no doubt about that. I don't advocate taking it everyday, but a couple of times a week should be fine for most people.







Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Capsicum Jam

Are you a chilli person or not? I like it hot and fiery but leaving enough to taste whatever it's in. Past life I made a lot of Chilli Jam but I was getting a little bored with it and as I had a delicious dollop of Capsicum Jam on a plate the other day, I thought it time to investigate making my own.

I've looked at a lot of ingredients and I've settled on making something that is fiery but not too sickly. I want a big chilli hit without the sweetness and a richness in colour, chunky and full of body; I've been experimenting to get the right taste for me. OK, so I did add a bit of sugar, but not too much.

Are you brave enough to try it? 

It only takes a few ingredients.

Don't think you would want to eat it straight from the jar.



But with this cheese and fruit platter - it made a great addition to lunch.



Here is the recipe - give it your best shot!




CAPSICUM JAM - WITH CHILLI


2 red onions diced
2 red capsicums diced
3 long red chillies sliced, leave seeds in
100g caster sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
200g cherry tomatoes

In a large heavy saucepan heat oil ver low heat. Gently sauté capsicum, onion and chilli until they begin to soften. 

Add tomatoes and cook until they are soft and mushy.

Add sugar and stir until dissolved, then simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the mixture has thickened.

While this is cooking, wash and rinse jars and sterilise. 

When the jam is nice and thick, ladle into hot jars and seal.

Once opened, keep in the fridge, otherwise it should keep in your pantry for up to 12 months.