AMERICAN STYLE PORK BREAKFAST SAUSAGES

Breakfast sausages for breakfast!

Breakfast sausages for breakfast!

Makes approx. 8

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams good quality pork mince
  • ¼ tsp celery salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp marjoram
  • ½ tsp red pepper flacks
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Herbs and spices make a great sausage.

Herbs and spices make a great sausage.

Method:

Place all ingredients in a glass bowl and with your hands mix until all the seasonings are combined evenly amongst the meat.

Roll into approx. 8 balls (depending on the size you would like the sausage patties to be) then flatten to make into a patty shape.

Patties ready for cooking.

Patties ready for cooking.

Heat a medium sized fry pan on a medium heat.  Place the patties evenly spaced into the pan and cook approx. 5 minutes on each side, until browned and golden.

Fry in a pan over medium heat.

Fry in a pan over medium heat.

Serve with eggs and any other breakfast accompaniments or on bread as a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.

Leftovers make great sandwiches.

Leftovers make great sandwiches.

Hints:

You can double the recipe quite easily but doubling the amounts.

You can also make a big batch and freeze the patties uncooked until required.  Make sure when freezing you lay the patties on a tray, cover with cling wrap and freeze before placing in a container or plastic bag.  This is so they won’t stick together, making it easier to take out the amount you need.

Testing and trying to get it right!

Testing and trying to get it right!

I love my sausage a bit spicy but if you prefer them a bit tamer don’t use the Tabasco.

Pork can easily overcook and dry out so keep an eye on the patties when cooking to make sure you don’t overcook them.

Looking good and browning nicely.

Looking good and browning nicely.

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Posted in Home, Recipes, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

WELCOME TO 2017

Lets see what we can mix up this year!

Lets see what we can mix up this year!

A new year, new ideas and more cooking and travel.  I was thinking the other day about what I would like to write about this year and a recipe popped up on my facebook page with a picture and recipe for a baked custard!  Well that got me thinking about all the food we ate back from the 60’s to now and how some of them have gone out of fashion even though they taste so nice!  My thoughts…  Let’s look back at some of the recipes I remember from my childhood and maybe try to recreate them.

As I did part of my growing up in the US and part in Australia there are ingredients that differ so I may need to change things up a bit to get the right result.  So it is off to the kitchen I go to do some recipe testing and writing, which I know Wayne will love as he gets to taste it all!  Better make sure we get out and do lots of long bushwalks so we can keep the waistline in check!

Speaking of keeping the waistline in check, I have also been thinking about healthier eating.  We have always eaten fairly healthy meals but as we are human we do have our vices.  We want to be able to enjoy those vices as well as eat healthily.  And with all the new cookbooks and blogs about the new super foods and new healthy ingredients it shouldn’t be that hard.  Although I must say the prices you pay for some of these new foods seem exorbitant to me.  If they are good for us and we should be eating them why are they priced out of range for the normal household!?  Hmmm…  I will be checking these new cookbooks out and will let you know what I come up with.   I still believe we can achieve good health by eating a balanced diet (everything in moderation) and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and a good long walk!

Some of the new healthy and super food cookbooks I want to try out!

Some of the new healthy and super food cookbooks I want to try out!

So today I’m thinking what sort of food from my childhood should I share.  Let me see, how about pork breakfast sausages, baked custard (of course), chocolate pudding pie, chocolate chip biscuits, Swiss steak, crazy cake, pound cake, pumpkin pie, beer bread, prawn cocktails, meatloaf, deviled eggs, pot roast, sweet and sour pork.  I could go on as there are so many more.  I will be looking through my old recipes and books and talking to family to see what we used to eat and see how I can update them.  Of course some things are just best left alone as they are already yummy!

So stay tuned as my first recipe for the year will be pork breakfast sausages.  My memories of these are that we always bought them pre-made in a package (not knowing what was in them) and cooked them up for breakfast with eggs.  They always tasted great but when you make them yourself adding herbs and spices to suit your taste they always taste so much better and are healthier to boot as you control what goes in to making them. Nothing artificial thank you!   I make them with fresh pork mince and lots of herbs and spices.  Now I am off to the kitchen to tweak the recipe so I can share it with you.  Breakfast for dinner tonight I say!

Herbs and spices…  So much flavour we can add to food naturally and so healthy for us. Even the critters love the herbs in our garden.  So much so that we have to cover them each night so the wallabies don’t eat them as they don’t mind a herb or two for dinner! When we arrived home from holidays our herbs had gone wild so I took to thinning them out and planting some new ones.  I have sage, oregano and thyme drying in the laundry room and now have 2 types of parsley, some coriander, basil, tarragon and of course still have oregano and thyme growing in our little herb plot.  You can’t go wrong with a few basic herbs growing in a garden, on a deck or balcony or even on a window sill.

Fresh herbs from the garden drying in the laundry room.

Fresh herbs from the garden drying in the laundry room.

Also this year I want to share with you some more of my travels.  We recently spent 4 weeks in New Zealand and what a wonderful trip that was.  We jumped in a car and drove around without too much planning (although we did have some idea of places we wanted to see) and had a fantastic time.  That was until an earthquake hit and we had to head home early…  Lucky it was only a couple of days.  And it hasn’t scared us off as we plan to head back over there again to catch up on all the places we missed out on.  I think it may take us a few trips to fit it all in.

And as per normal we are always checking things out in our own back yard.  More walks, more trips around Tasmania as well as Melbourne and Adelaide.  We have a few things planned and I look forward to sharing all the places we visit and interesting things we find with you.

Have a wonderful 2017!

Just a teaser from our New Zealand trip! Whangarei Falls

Just a teaser from our New Zealand trip!
Whangarei Falls

Posted in Home, My life in words!, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Way Mum Made It. A cookbook of ‘Treasured family recipes from Australian kitchens’

A great biscuit with a great story!

A great biscuit with a great story!

When I think about cooking and food I always think of my mum. It always brings back memories of growing up, the foods we ate, where my mum shopped, how she shopped and how she fed anyone and everyone that came to our house. So I automatically love any cookbook that has to do with mums! And this one is no exception.

When you think about any cookbook where do most of the recipes come from? Usually from mum or if not mum it would be grandma or great grandma… You get the drift. So when I saw this book I knew it would have some great recipes and better still some great information. The introduction says it all. Stephanie Alexander explains that food and people go hand in hand, bringing people, cultures and classes together. Sharing food, rituals, traditions and recipes not only makes you happy but also makes others happy as well.  After the introduction is ‘Back to Basics’. This section is just that. Cooking terms and conversions you may need to help you understand a recipe. But what I like best about this cookbook is the recipes are simple, using ingredients you would have in your fridge, cupboard and pantry. Good, simple, easy home cooking that anyone can do!

Blueberry Muffins are a great snack.

Blueberry Muffins are a great snack.

“The Way Mum Made It” is a cookbook of 175 recipes compiled and edited by Alexandra O’Brien who also edits an online over 60’s community OverSixty and is a passionate cook and foodie herself. This book shares with us some great recipes as well as some great insight into where these recipes have come from.

With each chapter you get a quote and blurb about the meaning of the chapter and an idea of the type of recipes you will find. ‘Something Sweet’ starts with a quote from Ernestine Ulmer ‘Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.’. You can’t really argue with that can you?! And my favourite is in the chapter ‘Time to celebrate’. Kylie Kwong talks of cooking the way I feel. ‘My way of communicating love and interest in people is through cooking. I grew up in an environment where food was really celebrated, and that gave me the message: food makes people happy.’ I dare you not to agree with that one!

Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins

Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins

And so my journey to try as many recipes in this book as I can started with Tomato, Feta, Ham and Rosemary Muffins. I didn’t have any fresh rosemary so decided to top my muffins with a grating of parmesan cheese. What a lovely treat. All the flavours melded well together and the muffins where light and made a great addition to a bowl of homemade tomato soup. They also made a great snack morning and/or afternoon.

I just can't pass up a perfect scone!

I just can’t pass up a perfect scone!

Next up. I couldn’t go past The Perfect Scones. I had buttermilk in the fridge I needed to use so this was ‘perfect’. What a simple yet tasty recipe. The scones where light and fluffy and as I couldn’t eat them all at once I froze some for later. They fared well in the freezer, didn’t dry out and I believe were moist and light due to that wonderful ingredient; buttermilk.

Cranberry Chicken, soaking up the goodness.

Cranberry Chicken, soaking up the goodness.

What to make for a quick, easy yet tasty meal when you don’t have much time? Cranberry Chicken. Four everyday ingredients, a baking dish and an oven and your set. Tasty served with some bread and salad or even some roasted vegetables and what a great way to use up a few of those leftovers you have hanging around in the kitchen like that half jar of cranberry sauce or half packet of soup mix. Another easy and tasty chicken dish is Honey and Ginger Chicken Wings. I used drumsticks instead so with this in mind I had to adjust the cooking time (cooking for a longer period of time; 45 minutes instead of 25 minutes). This recipe uses the flavours of Asia we all know and love and everyone will enjoy and devour them.

Just about ready. Honey and ginger chicken. YUM!

Just about ready. Honey and ginger chicken. YUM!

More sweets were on the cards so I went for the Blueberry Muffins and the Melted Butter Biscuits. Both quick and easy to make, both using ingredients we always have on hand and both tasty and yummy. I of course added my own touch to the biscuits by adding a nut or half a glace cherry to the top of the biscuit before baking. Very nice indeed if I do say so myself.  Fluffy, light and tasty muffins along with crisp, buttery moreish biscuits.  Do try them! You won’t be disappointed.

Melted butter biscuits with my addition of nuts and cherries.

Melted butter biscuits with my addition of nuts and cherries.

With so many recipes to try I have only just begun. There are more on my list to make like Homemade Raisin Bread and Garlic and Herb Pull-apart Bread, Apple and Caramel Upside-down Cake and how about Gin and Tonic Cupcakes…  These are but a few and I could go on but will stop with one last tempter.  Lamingtons!  An Aussie tradition and yet I have never attempted them for fear of making a mess of this Australian Icon.  I will share the results with you all soon.

And to end this review of a wonderful cookbook which evokes memories of days gone by, I urge you to try and get your hands on a  copy.  You won’t regret it.  Have fun with it, start your own new traditions and try new and exciting things.

Note:  The Way Mum Made it can be bought from most good book stores in Australia and also online at ABC Shop  Booktopia and other online book shops.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

 

Posted in Cookbooks, Novels, Magazines and anything you can read!, Home, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Travelling the world is fantastic especially if you plan and prepare!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my travels past, present and future and how much I have learned over the years about making my life easier when I am traveling.  So I’ve decided to share a few of my hints and tips with you.  Some you have probably heard of, some you probably already use but hopefully there will be something here you can take on board.

One of my greatest memories and learning experiences is of my mum and dad traveling back and forth from the US to Australia.  Dad had to go back to California every couple of years for work and of course mum always went with him.  All of us kids (even the kids who were ring-in members of the family) made their list and checked it twice and off mum went, lists in hand ready to do some shopping once they hit the shores of California.

And shopping she did, suitcases stuffed to overflowing, dad carrying on like a pork chop about how much stuff they had to bring back for everyone!  I’m surprised they had the strength to carry it all!  So you would have thought I would have learned something from this…. But no!

My first big trip to the UK was an exciting one. I was heading to London with a friend as a 21 year old.  We had work and planned to travel so we packed as much as we could in our suitcases and headed to the airport.  Now back in the early 80’s the luggage allowance wasn’t quite as strict as it is now but upon check-in we were told we had to cull.  So off we went to the back of the line, taking out what we could do without, repacking what was left and doing this all on the floor at airport check-in!

My next big trip was a solo one.  I took the biggest suitcase I could find, a backpack and my handbag.  You see, back then we didn’t have things like the IPod and the IPad that we could have music, books and games on so we had to carry around cd’s and a cd player, books, magazines and games.  They take up a lot of room.  But really I didn’t need to take such a big suitcase as I struggled with all of these things especially when you have cab drivers in Vegas who don’t even get out of their cars to help with your luggage but still expect a tip!!!  I don’t think so….

So after that struggle I took it upon myself to get a smaller suitcase but still took a small backpack and this time my laptop.  Again, struggle street!  Too much to lug up stairs in all those B&B’s in England.  Now I have a small suitcase, a tablet and my handbag (which is big enough to hold the tablet!  So I have learned from all my past mistakes..

So here are a few hints to help you prepare for your travels.

  • Research, research, research.
  • Buy the smallest suitcase you think you can cope with and don’t forget most cases expand these days so you can start your trip with less but after many shopping trips you can expand your suitcase to hold everything (but keep an eye on the weight as airlines charge a small fortune for excess baggage).
  • Take a small carry on or decent sized handbag which will hold your tablet/camera/phone and wallet. And make sure your bag has a decent strap so you can through it over your body and keep it close.
  • Packing is always the hardest part of traveling. What to take, what will you need and what can you buy along the way.  I lay everything out on my bed and with clothing I make sure that all my tops and bottoms are interchangeable.
  • Take clothing that can be easily washable (sometimes you may have to wash in the sink!) and quick drying.
  • Think about your shoes. I always take a good pair of walking shoes and a pair of ankle boots that can be dressed up or down.  Shoes take up a lot of room so you need to put some thought into this.  Also a pair of thongs/flip-flops to wear around the room, in the shower, on the beach……
  • Only take enough clothing to last about 5 days as you can wash along the way.
  • Toiletries can also take up a lot of room. I’m lucky as I don’t wear makeup so I take a good moisturiser that can do the whole body.  Small containers of shampoos, gels, conditioners are the best.  Don’t forget if you run out you can buy them at your next destination.
  • Take one all-round scarf and jacket.
  • Learn to pack your bag so everything fits easily and doesn’t get too wrinkled. I like to fold and roll, heavy items on the bottom and more delicate ones on the top.  Shoes and toiletries on the bottom as well and make sure that anything which has the ability to leak is sealed in a zip-lock bag (takes extra bags for later use).
  • Write up a check list to make sure you have everything and have done everything before you leave home. Tickets, passports, turn off power points, hold mail, etc!
  • Photocopy all important documents (passport, credit cards, etc) and leave them somewhere safe just in case you need them at a later date.
  • Make sure you leave contact details, phone numbers and itineraries with a family member or friend.
  • Always, always make sure you have some form of travel insurance. You never know when you may need it.
  • Also make sure you check with your doctor for any injections or medication you may need.
  • Always, always drink plenty of water and keep your body moving on and off the plane.
  • One of the things I learnt through all my travels is that eating out continually can be very expensive. I love food markets and most places you will visit have some form of food market.  Visit these markets; buy some fresh bread, local cheese and some ham or salami.  Buy some fruit and a bottle of wine or local beer and find a beautiful, sunny comfortable park or beach and enjoy!
  • Oh and make sure you get to the airport on time! There is nothing worse than getting stressed before you even get on the place.  Get to the airport early, check-in then head to the bar or coffee shop for a drink.  And Relax!

And now I have one last thing to say.  When you travel have fun, be safe, get out there and experience the world.

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SPAGHETTIO’S OR SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE – WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Where there is food there has always been mum and dad!

Where there is food there has always been mum and dad!

Over the past few days I have been looking at photos, looking for the ones I can use on my blog and in my book.  Yes that’s right, I am writing a cookbook/memoir to share with anyone out there who may wish to read it.  And my reason for doing this?  Well every time I see a photo of my family and friends it reminds me of all the time we spent together, gathered around the table or in the kitchen.  And as we grew up these fun times expanded to restaurants as well.  Even though some photos have been lost along the way, through our travels and moving house, I can still picture certain ones in my head, as if the story that picture tells happened only yesterday.  And in these days of ours when we hear of so much doom and gloom I want to write about happiness, about the good things in life and about how food can bring us all together as it has done so many times in my life!

In our household happiness, fun, celebrations and family always revolved around food.  No one in the family has ever been a chef; we are just good cooks and even better eaters.  From my true first memory of food I thought I knew what I liked and what I didn’t like.  I didn’t like pasta or noodles of any sort but put a bowl of SpaghettiOs in front of me and I was happy!  So much for gourmet taste!  Slimy noodles in what was more like an insipid tomato soup rather than a pasta sauce!  Mum made the best Spaghetti Bolognese with good lean mince beef (better known as hamburger meat in our household), tomatoes and herbs.  Always cooked long and slow and always tasty.   I would eat the sauce, using bread to soak it all up but don’t even think of putting any spaghetti on my plate!  I wouldn’t eat it!  I do eat pasta now but it took me years to come to like the taste.  I thank fresh pasta for that as the taste and texture are fresh and smooth rather than the floury stuff of my past!

Whether it is a celebration or a present it always seems to involve food!

Whether it is a celebration or a present it always seems to involve food!

Much the same goes for rice.  I hate rice (even today!), it has no flavour and reminds me of worms; little teeny tiny ones.  No rice for my please..  I don’t know when this hatred of rice started but I do remember mum would make baked rice custard which everyone in the family enjoyed..  Lucky for me the rice sunk to the bottom of the bowl so I was able to scrape off the good stuff!  Yes, that’s right…..  the custard.  So custard gone and only rice left!  I think mum then ate the rest.

Now that I think about it I was a bit of a picky eater when I was a youngster although I liked quite a lot of different food I still had my hate list (as did my sisters!). As you know mine was rice and noodles but I always loved vegetables where as my youngest sister, as I recall, would only eat corn, cold tomatoes and peas.  Oh and she ate potatoes!  We were allowed to be fussing and picky as my mum revelled in having us eat what we liked and enjoyed, but it must have been tedious as she was always making different things for each of us!  Not to the point where we all had different meals but to the point where we all had something we liked on the plate.  Thank you mum for looking after us all so well and for letting us try new food at our own pace.  The best is yet to come on the food front as now I get to introduce mum to new foods she may not have tried.  And she usually likes it.  She actually ate duck and salmon on her last visit to us in Tassie and she liked them both.  Win Win!!

Cooking with mum. The joys of life in our household!

Cooking with mum. The joys of life in our household!

Life was so different then (no I’m not that old but this was back in the 60’s), we didn’t have the multicultural foods that we enjoy these days.  Luckily over the years and through all our travels we were able to experience different food styles, tastes and cultures.  We were even lucky enough to introduce friends to new and exciting foods.  As well we learnt about the Aussie style of food and eating and that was an experience in itself.

So that is why I love food and travel so much.  You live, you learn, you enjoy, you experience and best of all you share.  Share the love, the food and the happiness.  That is what life is all about to me.

Even when the fashions were bad the food was always good.  Love my chefs hat!

Even when the fashions were bad the food was always good. Love my chefs hat!

Posted in Home, My life in words!, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yes I’m back! With some spice in my step and a review of Saffron Indian Restaurant Hobart.

You may have noticed I’ve been away from the computer and writing for a spell but I’ve still been cooking up a storm as they say and eating, of course!  Not much stops me from doing those things.  It’s been an up and down year so far but I’m back on track and would like to return with a review of one of our Indian Restaurants here in Hobart.  One that we have enjoyed on numerous occasions and one I hope others will enjoy whether you live in Hobart or are just visiting.

Papadams and Mint Sauce

Papadams and Mint Sauce

Indian restaurants seem to be on every street corner these days but they aren’t all good.  So what makes a good Indian restaurant and what is it that you look for or want when you go to an Indian restaurant?

For me I like some heat, a lot of flavour and nothing too stodgy.  I always think of Indian and Asian foods having bold flavours (not just heat) which emanates from the beautiful fresh spices and herbs used to create each dish from each different region.  These flavours make dining out a joy.

Herbs, spices and a little heat. Tasting Great!

Herbs, spices and a little heat. Tasting Great!

So when I visit an Indian restaurant I expect flavour and lots of it, along with some heat (I love a bit of chilli in my food but I don’t necessarily want my lips, mouth and tongue to lose their senses).

Here in Hobart Wayne and I usually frequent one of two Indian restaurants, one being The Saffron on Hunter Street, located near numerous hotels and right on the waterfront.  It is surrounded by other great restaurants so is in good company.

It was a cold night when we last visited, Dark Mofo was in full swing and we decided to hang out in and around the wharf area of Hobart to see what was happening.  After a peek at Dark Park and surrounds we headed in to The Saffron for dinner.  Upon opening the door we were welcomed with warmth and happy, friendly faces.

Once seated and drinks orders taken we perused the menu to decide what we would have this time.  We like to try different dishes each time so we can experience all the flavours of India.  While having a look at the menu Wayne had a bit of a chuckle to himself and then shared with me a couple of cute but funny errors on the menu.  The lamb was marined instead of marinated and the fish was plattered instead of battered.  We just had to smile at this but that aside the menu always sounds appetising and the food is always tasty.

Marined instead of marinated lamb!

Marined instead of marinated lamb!

And we have fish that is plattered instead of battered.

And we have fish that is plattered instead of battered.

 

 

 

 

Our wait staff asked if we would like papadams and of course we said yes.  You can’t start an Indian meal without a few papadams.  They were light and crisp just as expected but the real flavour came from dipping them into the yoghurt and mint dip/sauce.  Cool, refreshing, like sunshine in a bowl.  What a great start.

So it was decided this time we would have the Onion Bhajiis, a Beef Malabar Curry, Aaloo Gobhi, some Saffron Rice and of course you can’t have an Indian meal without some Naan, so garlic naan it was!  First up were the onion bhajiis.  They came out hot and crispy but we both found them to doughy and heavy, there was more batter than onion so I must say this wasn’t my favourite and I have had better elsewhere.

Onion Bahjii

Onion Bahjii

Ready for more and we weren’t disappointed.  Beef Malabar Curry, tender enough that you didn’t need a knife as you could break up the meat with your fork.  The coconut curry sauce was fragrant, smooth and had just enough heat (but not so much to make it uncomfortable to eat).  Both Wayne and I loved this dish, creamy, tender and very flavourful.  The Aaloo Gobhi is a mix of cauliflower and potato cooked in ginger and garlic, spiced just enough to enhance the flavours of the vegetable but not overtake them.  This was a wonderful accompaniment to the curry.  As was the rice and naan which was garlicy and soft yet had those wonderful crisp bits from being back in a tandoor.

It all looked and smelled so good we started eating before I remembered to take a photo.

It all looked and smelled so good we started eating before I remembered to take a photo.

What a great meal to fill us up and warm our insides.  We were now ready to take to the streets of Hobart again and explore more Dark Mofo.  I would recommend The Saffron to those who like Indian and to those who may not.  There is a little something for everyone.  Samosa and pakoras, tandoori in various guises, korma, masala and more curries of varying heat.  Meat of all types, seafood and a great choice of vegetarian dishes as well.

So next time you are in Hobart give The Saffron a try.  You’ll like it I’m sure and you can’t complain about the service as the staff are friendly, helpful and welcoming.  If you want more information, contact details, menu and opening hours go to www.thesaffron.com.au.

Not bad! And we are full and satisfied!

Not bad! And we are full and satisfied!

 

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CHILLI CON CARNE

A slow cooker and is the way to go

A slow cooker is the way to go

Makes approx. 4-6 serves depending on what you serve with it!

Ingredients:

I love lots of onion!

I love lots of onion!

  • 1 kilogram topside/bolar roast, cut into bitesize cubes (and trimmed of fat)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 spring onions, sliced (keeping green parts for later)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 chilli, finely diced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chipotle chilli in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 x 400 gram tin of chopped tomato
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 3 x 400 gram tins of red kidney beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (best for this is oregano, parsley and coriander)
  • Juice of ½ lime
Choose a nice lean piece of beef for a lovely tender Chilli Con Carne

Choose a nice lean piece of beef for a lovely tender Chilli Con Carne

Method:

In a large frying pan brown the meat in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a crack of black pepper (being careful not to overcrowd the pan)..  This can be done in batches so you get a good even brownness and so the meat doesn’t stew.

Lovingly brown meat is a good start for any casserole

Lovingly brown meat is a good start for any casserole

Once browned, place the beef into a slow cooker.  In the same pan add either a little more olive oil or as I do a little bit of water before adding the onion, white of the spring onion and the garlic.  Cook over a medium heat until onion is lightly sautéed but not browned.  Add the chilli, spices and chipotle chilli, stirring through and cooking for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

All the flavours of chilli, onion, garlic and spices

All the flavours of chilli, onion, garlic and spices

Add the tomatoes along with about ½ tin of water, stirring to combine all the ingredients and scrapping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the good bits as there is a lot of flavour in those good bits!

Tip the pan ingredients along with the stock and the kidney beans into the slow cooker and stir through so everything is combined.  Turn the slow cooker on high for 1 hour then turn down to low for 4 hours.

Lots of liquid but it will cook out in the long slow cooking process

Lots of liquid but it will cook out in the long slow cooking process

Remove the lid and give the chilli a good stir then check the tenderness of the meat (it should be fork tender).  Add the fresh herbs and green parts of the spring onion and salt if needed.  Stir through and cook on high for ½ hour (or up to 1 hour if needed).

Add the lime juice and stir through just before serving.

Make a meal of it with some green vegetables, a baked potato and some warm cornbread

Make a meal of it with some green vegetables, a baked potato and some warm cornbread

There are numerous ways to enjoy.  You can eat the chilli straight from a bowl topped with some grated cheddar cheese and finely chopped red onion.  You can make a meal of it with a baked potato, cornbread, corn and green beans.  Or you can shred the meat further and top your hotdogs with it to make a great chilli dog!

You can't eat Chilli without toppings of cheese and onion

You can’t eat Chilli without toppings of cheese and onion

Enjoy!

Hints:

As with any meal like this it is a matter of taste so you need to add more chilli if you want it hotter or more herbs and spices if you find it too bland.  This is a good starting point for you to put your own touches on it.

Each time I make this (or any stew/casserole) I find I need to adjust my seasonings accordingly.  Also, if I am having friends or family over I make it so it isn’t too hot but if it is for just Wayne and I, well nothing wrong with a bit more heat!

When I first started making chilli con carne I would use the packet of chilli seasoning you get at the grocery store.  Over the years I acquired a spice grinder and my cupboards are full of spices so I thought ‘Why buy something which has extra additives I don’t want in my food’.  So I experimented and came up with this recipe.

You can also change the type of beans you use.  I have used black beans as well as a mixture of beans but I don’t like chickpeas as I find the texture doesn’t work for me.

A good thing with a slow cooker is you can set and forget.  I can’t do this as I have to check the seasoning and moisture every now and again.  You can do this if you so desire or you can just leave it.  But I do suggest that you keep an eye on the moisture and the tenderness of the beef.  Different cuts of beef can take different times to get to the correct point of tenderness.

My recipes, as I have said before, are a guide, to be adjusted, played with and changed to your liking.  They work just as given but are always better if you add your own imagination and touches.

Cook, eat, enjoy and have fun doing it.

 

 

 

Posted in Home, Recipes, Savoury (Main Meals) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No pictures today just a bit of rambling happiness!

It amazes me that the smallest things in life are the ones that make us smile!  And these same small tokens give us the inspiration to do what we love!

The other day I received a comment on my blog that really did fill me with joy and made me feel as if I was doing this blogging lark for a reason.  Not just because I enjoy cooking, travel, writing and sharing but because other people seem to enjoy reading what I have to say.  I have family and friends who tell me how much they enjoy my blog and some who have even tried my recipes with much success.   I appreciate and love the fact I can share my stories and recipes with them and feel immense pride when someone close to me gets some form of enjoyment from my blog.  Sharing is caring!

But I must say it is a great joy to me when a stranger stumbles across my blog, is really enjoying it and even shares those feelings with me!  It spurs me on, gives me a boost and a bit more confidence that I am on the right path and I am right in sharing my stories, experiences, recipes and my joy of food, and the world (in which food plays such an important part).

We all have so much to say but often think that no one will be interested in our stories but I have found many people are excited about our lives, our loves and of course our recipes!  I feel so blessed; I’ve had a wonderful life, full of travel, full of love and full of food!  My mum has always loved cooking and looking after everyone.  I must take after her…  Having said that, when I think of my dear mother I have a little inward giggle as she still wants to cook and look after us all and she stills shops as if we are all still living nearby and will be coming for dinner every night!  Unfortunately she now lives on her own, my dad passed away about 5 years ago, and he always loved her cooking.  The kids, well we grew up, left home and are now scattered around Australia so she doesn’t get to do the cooking she used to.  Wish she lived closer as she makes the best chocolate chip biscuits, the most tender of roasts and the most heart and soul warming beef and vegetable soup you could ever want to eat!

I am salivating just thinking of all of her special recipes and I’m still trying to get her to help me perfect them as still to this day I cannot get mine to taste anywhere near as good as hers.

But I digress…….  Back to food and sharing!

Food is about life (nourishment), love (the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach), happiness, caring (mums chicken soup when you’re sick or steak and baked potato to help you get back on your feet).  Food is so much more than just something you put in your mouth to stave off those hungers pains.  Food is life, food is history, food is love, food is fun, food is travel and most of all food essential!

When you think about it we relate all of our sense to food. We base our travels around food, we celebrate with food, we have conversations over food.  Food is the lifeblood of our world and I feel so blessed that I live in a world where I can explore all the worlds’ cuisines and again share what I know.  So to be able to share is to be able to care!

I know many who love to eat but not to cook, love to explore but maybe not travel and most everyone I know loves to read.  So why not give them something fun, interesting and exciting to read.  Be an armchair cook or traveler.  That is still fun.  And as long as everyone out there keeps reading and I keep cooking, travelling, walking, eating and writing I will continue on my journey, hopefully with new friends as well as old friends in tow.  I have so much more to tell you, I will always be in my kitchen cooking and experimenting and when I’m not in the kitchen I will be out walking a new path, trying a new restaurant or travelling to old and new destinations.  This is what I love, this is my life and I am so grateful for it.

The world is my oyster, my cherry on top and all of my senses!

And as Samuel Chamberlain (Artist and Food and Travel Writer 1895-1975) once said:

‘The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one.  It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilised people, and warms the heart.’

No truer words said…  It amazes me that many a deal has been made over a good meal, relationships form over romantic dinners, family differences can be resolved over the Sunday roast.  Our world revolves around food.

So lets eat!

Posted in Home, Inspirations, Rants, Raves and Inspirations! | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

BEAN DIP

Great dip and great chips. YUM!

Great dip and great chips. YUM!

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 spring onion sliced (set sliced green tops aside for later)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • Dash of Tabasco (or more depending or your taste)
  • 1 small tomato, finely diced
  • 1 x 440gm tin of refried beans (I like the black bean type)
  • ¼ cup grated (or cubed) cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Squeeze of lime juice
Some of the ingredients needed to make a great Bean Dip

Some of the ingredients needed to make a great Bean Dip

Method:

In a small to medium sized saucepan slowly cook the onion, white part of the spring onion, garlic and chilli.  You can use a small amount of oil but I add a little water instead.

Cooking off the onion, chilli and garlic

Cooking off the onion, chilli and garlic

Once the onion is translucent (takes about 5-10 minutes) add the cumin and coriander, stir through and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the tomato and Tabasco and again cook for a further 2-3 minutes stirring to combine.

A tin of good Refried Beans

A tin of good Refried Beans

Now add the tin of refried beans and stir through the tomato mixture to incorporate the ingredients.  If at this stage it looks a bit dry add a little water and stir through.

Adding the spices and tomato

Adding the spices and tomato

Add the grated cheese and again stir through.  Let this cook over low heat until the cheese has melted through (stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan).

Now add some cheese

Now add some cheese

Add the green spring onion tops and fresh coriander with a squeeze of lime juice.  Stir through then serve in a bowl with corn chips as a side dish, snack or as part of a Mexican feast.

Hints:

As with all my recipes it all comes down to taste.  You can add more chilli, a little bit more cumin or even a bit more cheese if you desire.  Just remember to taste and add, then taste again.

As the bean mixture can easily stick to the bottom of the saucepan make sure you check and stir the mixture so that it doesn’t catch and burn.

If you don’t have a lime a bit of lemon works just as well.  And on the same line if you only have one type of onion (be it brown, white or red) use whatever you have to hand.

And lastly, always remember that my recipes are a guide and they should be played with.  We all have different tastes and we should develop a recipe to suit or own taste buds, wants and needs!

 

 

 

Posted in All those other recipes! (Salads, Sides and Snacks), Home, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Be in the great outdoors in magnificent Melbourne

The lake, the city and the reflection. Albert Park

The lake, the city and the reflection. Albert Park

Well I said I was going to give you more so this is my next installment of things to see and do in Melbourne, Victoria.  Melbourne is known for its vibrancy, food, festivals and sport, with travelers from far and wide visiting each and every year.  There is so much to see and do and there never seems to be time to do it all.  I suppose that is why I go there a couple of times each year, so I can continue to explore everything Melbourne has to offer.

With so many cafes and eateries right on our doorstep what could be better than having a great breakfast to get your day going followed by a walk in one of the many parks and gardens dotted around the city and suburbs.  There are so many beautiful parks and gardens in Melbourne but one of my favourites has to be Albert Park.

A walk around Albert Park Lake

A walk around Albert Park Lake

Albert Park is probably best known for being a great circuit for the Formula One Grand Prix which happens around March each year.  When there are no big, loud and noisy cars zooming around the lake it is a great place to walk off that big breakfast.  You can walk from the city to the park (it’s about 3kms from the city centre) if your very energetic  or you can jump on a tram which will take you within a couple of blocks so you can then enjoy a more relaxing and peaceful walk around the lake.  Albert Lake shimmers with the reflection of the city and its high-rises, it comes alive with the sounds of walkers, runners, rowers and bike riders all around you.  Ducks and sail boats glide across the river as you slowly meander around the circumference of the lake.

The walking track is a 5km circuit passing sports centres, cafes, playgrounds and bbqs.  So you can go for a quick walk or make a day of it by having a bbq or picnic, having lunch and watching the world and all its inhabitants go by (people watching is one of my favourite sports!).

Beautiful Albert Park Lake

Beautiful Albert Park Lake

Albert Park also has an Aboriginal heritage dating back many years with the flora and fauna of the area providing the Aboriginal people food, shelter and ceremonial sites.

Melbourne From Albert Park

Melbourne From Albert Park

Another great area for walking is the Domain Parklands, home to more of my favourite places for a good walk, including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Shrine of Remembrance, Government House and Kings Domain.  The area is bordered by St Kilda Road and the Yarra River and is a great location for walking and cycling as well as picnicking.

One of many gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

One of many gardens at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Walking through the gardens and parklands always calms and relaxes me.   It’s fun, its exercise and there is plenty of history to be learnt.  Take your time, walk through the different areas, check out the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, the art works and many statues, Government House and you must not miss the Shrine of Remembrance.  A moving reminder of our past and the efforts our war heroes made so that we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

Melbourne Artwork in the Domain Parklands

Melbourne Artwork in the Domain Parklands

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl is always fun to explore.  You can get right up on the stage and you can wonder around looking at the artwork scattered throughout the grounds.  There are many statues and monuments to explore and many pathways to take.  Make sure you get a map so you don’t miss a thing.

Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Domain Parklands from the Eureka Tower

Sidney Myer Music Bowl and Domain Parklands from the Eureka Tower

The Royal Botanic Gardens, which was established in 1846 is the perfect spot for anyone who loves plants.  There is a herbarium, tropical glasshouse, forest walk, a lake and so much more.  You can spend hours wondering the gardens, sitting under trees, reading about different plant species and again just watching the world go by.

The Shrine of Remembrance

The Shrine of Remembrance

And before you leave the Domain grounds you must visit the Shrine of Remembrance.  This moving monument was created (built between 1928-1934) so Victorians (and all Australians) could remember the loss which was felt by all after the First World War.  It is and has been a place to grieve and a place to remember, a place to learn and a place to give thanks.

A Memorial and the Eternal Flame

A Memorial and the Eternal Flame

Again, take your time, wonder through the Shrine itself as well as the surrounding gardens and forecourt.  Take time to reflect and to feel, to give thanks to all those who have fought to keep us safe and give us our freedom.

Path through Fitzroy Gardens

Path through Fitzroy Gardens

Well here’s hoping you are not all parks and gardened out as I have one more for you.  Fitzroy Gardens.  Wayne and I stumbled across this one when we were wondering around the MCG (all the AFL sports fans out there will know this iconic place!).  Again this is a great park to wonder through and maybe even enjoy a spot of lunch on the lawns.  You will see workers stopping to enjoy the fresh air, sunshine and greenery during the work week and families enjoying picnics on the weekends.

Cooks Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens

Cooks Cottage at Fitzroy Gardens

Make sure you check out the lovely Conservatory and also explore Cooks Cottage for a bit of a history lesson if you like.  There are beautiful elm trees and fountains. Wonder around, enjoy the walk and breathe in the fresh air.  That is what it is all about!

The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens

The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens

So get out there, enjoy the outdoors, the exercise and all the beauty Melbourne has to offer.  And after all that exercise I’m sure you will be ready for a drink and a good feed at one of the many watering holes and eateries Melbourne has to offer.

Eat Drink Walk and Be Happy!

For more information on any of the parks and gardens mentioned refer to the websites below:

Albert Park and Lake

Domain Parklands

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Shrine of Remembrance

Fitzroy Gardens

Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens

Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens

Posted in Home, My travels over the years, Stories of my life, travels and Tasmania | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment