Profile: The Benefits of Bone Broth

What is Broth?

Broth (or technically, stock) is a mineral rich infusion made by boiling bones of healthy animals with vegetables, herbs and spices. It is also a powerful health tonic that you can easily add to your family’s diet.

Broth is a traditional food that your grandmother likely made often (and if not, your great-grandmother definitely did). Many societies around the world still consume broth regularly as it is a cheap and highly nutrient dense food.

bonebroth1

Why is it good for you?

1. Excellent source of minerals and is known to boost the immune system (chicken soup when you are sick anyone?)

2. Often used to improve digestion, because of the gelatin, collagen, nutrient value and is easily digested by the body.

3. Its high calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus content make it great for bone and tooth health.

4. Bone broth also supports joints, hair, skin, and nails due to its high collagen content.

5. Some people even suggest that it helps eliminate cellulite as it supports smooth connective tissue.

It can be made from the bones of beef, bison, lamb, poultry, or fish, and vegetables and spices are often added.

6. Can improve allergies, immune health, brain health, and much more: Gut and Psychology Syndrome.

7. Bone broth can even remineralize teeth.

8. Broth is also helpful to have on hand when anyone in the family gets sick as it can be a soothing and immune boosting drink during illness, even if the person doesn’t feel like eating.

9. Broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue (ligaments, joints, around organs, etc). The Paleo Mom has a great explanation of the importance of these two amino acids.

BoneBroth

Homemade vs Store-bought:

 

Image fr
Image fr

Homemade, nutrient dense bone broth is incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. There is no comparison to the store-bought versions which often contain MSG or other chemicals and which lack gelatin and some of the other health-boosting properties of homemade broth.

In selecting the bones for broth, look for high quality bones from grass fed cattle or bison, pastured poultry, or wild caught fish. Since you’ll be extracting the minerals and drinking them in concentrated form, you want to make sure that the animal was as healthy as possible.

Image taken from www.draxe.com
Image taken from http://www.draxe.com

Taste: The taste of broth depends on the ingredients. It is usually quite mild in flavour, but hearty and meaty at the same time. Flavour can be intesified by roasting or browning off the bones before cooking them into stock. This gives the broth a darker amber colour and a rich depth to the flavour.

Texture: The texture is a thin soup, or when there is lots of gelatin and collagen in the bones it can set like a jelly.

Uses:

Bone broth is very versatile! You can use it as a stock for meals. A base for delicious soups. It can be drunk on its own. Broth can also be used to make sauces and gravy.

Where can I find good bones for stock?

  • Save leftovers from when you roast a chicken, duck, turkey, or goose (pastured)
  • From a local butcher, especially one who butchers the whole animal
  • From local farmers who raise grass fed animals (ask around at your local Farmer’s Market)

How do I make broth at home?

bonebroth2

Making broth at home is very simple, and with the help of a slow cooker it can be easy. Simply use water, spices, herbs, vegetables and bones plus vinegar (apple cider vinegar or kombucha work well). Using an acid helps the bones to release their minerals more efficiently. Slowly cook all of these ingredients together over a long period of time (some do 3 hours on the stove, or up to 30 hours in the slow cooker) this helps to draw out all of the valuable minerals and nutrients that are stored in the bones and makes them easy for the body to digest. Simply strain, and cool and skim off the fat (I use the fat for cooking) and it is ready to be consumed as a drink, or stored (fridge or freezer are both good options).

Broth is a cheap way to add nutrients to your diet. It also gives food a unique home-cooked taste, while eliminating nasties that can be in store-bought stocks. While rich in minerals it helps to repair and maintain the gut, connective tissues and joints. Making broth is also a good way to use cuttings of vegetables and bones that would otherwise go to waste.

Profile: The New Thermomix TM5

It’s here! The new Thermomix is here!

I got to see the brand new Thermomix at a party. And let me tell you, it’s a little bit fancy.

I don’t personally own either the new Thermomix, or the old one but I thought this would make a great post for those who are interested in comparing the two. I’m not an experienced user, but I have been to parties for both models and seen them in action.

newthermomix

Released in secret, much to the dismay of new customers the Thermomix TM5 made its debut in September this year.  The new TM5 is sleek, techy and is interactive both in appearance and functionality.

 

“For those unfamiliar with the Thermomix beast,” In the words of www.news.com.au, “The kitchen appliance is basically a super-high-tech food processor, combining 10 appliances into one unit. It can chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir, steam and even weigh food.

newthermomix3

The new Thermomix version, which is retailing for a special introductory price of $1989, claims to be “newer, bigger, better and more digitally advanced” than the version before it. It features innovations such as a colour touchscreen and a guided cooking function, as well as a recipe chip which remembers your meal prep.”

The first difference one notices on inspection is the touch screen, the old model simply had a little digital display panel. But this is colourful, bright and seemingly alive in the center of the new machine.

newthermomix6

 

The touch screen allows for the ‘self-guided’ cooking function to be used. Ingredients and instructions are shown on the screen to walk you step-by-step through recipes which are stored in a small magnetic chip on the side of the machine. The chip is pre-loaded with the basic Cook Book. Other recipes can be uploaded at a later date.

newthermomix4

The self-guided cooking function is entirely optional, for those that are attracted to the independence that comes from complete manual operation of the Thermomix. But for people with little cooking experience, or could use a helping hand for a recipe- this could be ideal.

The touch screen also offers a display of measurements, temperature, cooking time and speed.

Rather than an array of buttons and knobs, the TM5 has been streamlined and refined to a singular control knob, which in conjunction with the touch screen display allows the user to manipulate temperature, time and speed.

newthermomix2

Does it have wifi? No.

Will it have wifi? Possibly. Then you can Instagram and cook your food, both within seconds.

The machine has been built with care and like most technology these days- with room to improve and expand. However, at almost $2,000 do you really want a machine that still has room for improvement?

What does it come with? 

  • Mixing bowl and lid
    • Simmering basket
    • Butterfly whisk (Stirring attachment)
    • Measuring cup
    • Spatula
    • Varoma
    • Cookbook
    • Instruction Manual
    • Thermomix® Recipe Chip

Taken from TM5 Instruction Manual.

A new and increased bowl size may attract some, but I think the difference is like 200 grams. Yay? A slightly bigger Varoma (3.5L) is included and fits neatly on top.

A new self-locking feature makes putting the lid on easy and seamless. Whereas, the previous model needed a particular flick of the wrist and a secret code word that I was not privy to (just joking, I simply found it a little fiddly) to get a quick and stable lock. With the nature of cooking with the Thermomix, where the lid is on-off-on-off for various processes and additions to the dish this new self-locking feature is a significant  improvement on the TM31.

newthermomix1

The self-locking feature is also includes a transport mode to easily move your TM5 around and take it with you, possibly everywhere you go.

Green and red lighting on the space age unit indicate if the bowl is hot or not. A great indication for those with little ones; or for people who are susceptible to forgetting whether they turned it on, or not.

The future of cooking right here at your finger tips – Thermomix

A cut out on top of the lid gives the user a little peek inside, or the quick addition of smaller ingredients. This cut out is stopped by a little round lid that is popped on top while in use, or alternatively doubles as a measuring cup to use while cooking.

 

Technical Specifications taken from Thermomix website

Motor
  • Maintenance-free Vorwerk reluctance motor, 500W rated power
  • Speed continuously adjustable from 100 to 10,700 rpm (gentle stir 40rpm)
  • Special speed setting (alternating mode) for making dough
  • Special safety feature: electronic motor protection to prevent overload
Heating system
  • 1,000W power consumption
  • Protected against overheating
Integrated scales
  • Measuring range from 5 to 3000g in 5g increments (to max 6kg)
Housing
  • High-grade plastic material, food compatible
Mixing bowl
  • Stainless steel with integrated heating system and temperature sensor
  • Maximum capacity 2.2 litres
Connected load
  • 240V
  • Maximum power consumption 1,500W
  • Pull-out cable, 1m long
Dimensions and weight (excluding Varoma)
  • Height 33.5cm
  • Width 33.3cm
  • Depth 32.6cm
  • Weight 7.7kg

Warranty

Thermomix including the Varoma and Recipe Chip carry a 24 month warranty against faulty parts and workmanship when used in a domestic environment and a 12 month warranty against faulty parts and workmanship when used in a commercial environment.

Verdict?

In all, this is an amazing machine. By doing so much work in a few short minutes this machine could quickly pay for itself, if time is your currency. As Bek Daley puts it in her review video- “if you have the old TM31 model, or a brand spanking new TM5, you’re going to have a very satisfied family.”

 

Spiced Berry Chia Pudding

Chia puddings, where to begin? Oh so versatile, and delicious. You can make this the night before and have a nutritious breakfast, or have as a decadent dessert, or even as a snack. This pudding is indulgent, sweet and satisfying.

strawberries

This recipe makes one large serving, or it could be divided into 2-3 small servings.

 

Ingredients

Base:

3 tablespoons Chia seeds

1 cup of milk (almond, coconut or kefir work best)

Compote:

1/2 cup of berries (I used a mix of pitted cherries and strawberries)

3/4 cup of water or fruit juice

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons of honey (or to taste)

Topping:

2 tablespoons of slivered almonds

 

Method:

Step 1: Soak chia seeds in milk in a glass container overnight (it’s good if you use a mason jar, or something to serve it in)

spicedberrychia
Chia seeds in the jar
spicedberrychia1
Chia seeds and coconut kefir, ready to soak

Step 2: Place berries and water/juice in a saucepan and bring to boil over a low heat.

Cherries and strawberries
Cherries and strawberries

Step 3: Turn the heat back and add cinnamon, nutmeg and honey and allow to simmer until liquid has reduced.

Reduced compote
Reduced compote

OPTIONAL EXTRA: To give your pudding a bit more crunch and depth- toast the slivered almonds.

Step 4: To serve, pour berry compote over soaked chia seeds and top with slivered almonds.

Enjoy!IMG_5794.JPG

Kombucha Recipe You Can Make at Home

How To Make Kombucha

This recipe makes 1 liter of Kombucha tea. I use this as a base recipe, and multiply it when I need to make a bigger batch. I usually make 4 liters at a time, so I just put 4x the Ingredients in.

You will need to let the kombucha ferment in a glass jar- make sure the jar is slightly bigger than the batch size e.g., if you are making a 2 liter batch of kombucha- allow space for slight expansion, for the scoby, the tea and the starter kombucha, so get a jar that is about 2.5 liters.

Choose a jar with a wide opening at the top (and not one that tapers up). The lid isn’t important, as you won’t be using it. So a glass bowl could work well too. Only use glass- no plastic, metal or coloured glass as these damage the SCOBY.

Don’t have a SCOBY? Ask someone who makes Kombucha at home 🙂 everytime a new batch of Kombucha is made, a ‘baby SCOBY’ grows on the original one. That means that you can make more and more tea after every batch, and you can share the SCOBY’s around!

Want to learn about the amazing health benefits of Kombucha? Read my profile on Kombucha here.

Taken from secretsoftheoldcountry.com
Taken from secretsoftheoldcountry.com

Equipment:

Large stainless steel saucepan/stock pot
Large 1.5 liter glass jar or bowl
Dishtowel or cheesecloth
Rubber band
Mason jars or glass bottles for bottling

Ingredients

1 Liter Filtered water
1/4 cup Refined white sugar, organic or raw sugar
2 x Organic tea bags (green or black, I use 1 of each)
1 Kombucha starter culture or SCOBY — where to buy starters
100mL Kombucha from a previous batch

Sweet Tea Ingredients: Water, sugar tea
Sweet Tea Ingredients: Water, sugar tea
SCOBY plus some tea from a previous batch or 'starter tea'
SCOBY plus 100mL of Kombucha from a previous batch or ‘starter tea’

Method

1. Add the filtered water to the saucepan, cover with lid, and bring to a boil.
2. Turn off the heat, pour in the sugar, and stir until it is dissolved.

kombucha5
In this photo I’m making 4L so using 1 cup of sugar. For 1L of Kombucha you would use 1/4 cup of sugar

3. Add the tea bags, remove the stockpot from the heat. Let most of the steam out, then cover and let cool (this takes a few hours, so I often leave it overnight).

Add sugar and tea bags to boiled water
Add sugar and tea bags to boiled water

4. When the tea is at room temperature (if it’s too hot, it can kill your starter culture), pour it into the large glass jar. Add 100mL of kombucha from a previous batch (or store-bought kombucha), and add the starter culture SCOBY.

Make sure the glass jar has been cleaned. No need to fully sterilize it, just give it a good wash in hot soapy water, and give it a rinse from all the suds.

Starter tea and SCOBY
Starter tea and SCOBY in clean glass jar
Fill the jar with cooled sweet tea, SCOBY and starter tea
Fill the jar with cooled sweet tea.

5. Cover the jar with a dishcloth (this is just used to keep the bugs and dust out — but it needs to be porous so air can get in) and wrap a rubber band around to fix it on the jar.

kombucha7

Cover with a tea-towel and rubber band
Cover with a tea-towel and rubber band

6. Leave it in a warm dark place for a few days, tasting it every so often. Tasting it around day 5 is usually a good time.

7. When the kombucha tastes the way you want it to remove the starter culture and put it into a bowl or another glass jar. Pour enough kombucha over it to make sure it’s completely covered (this will be your starter tea for the next batch).

When it has finished fermenting, set aside the SCOBY in tea (which will be used for your new batch)
When it has finished fermenting, set aside the SCOBY in kombucha tea from the same batch (which will be used for your new batch)

8. Pour the rest of the kombucha tea into glass bottles or mason jars, seal, and store in the fridge (I use sterilized wine bottles).

kombucha8

Tasting: It is a good idea to taste your Kombucha while it is fermenting. Myself, and a few of my friends were a bit wary of this, with the first few batches of kombucha they made, but taste away- this won’t make you sick! Using a straw is a good way to taste test. Depending on how sweet or sour you like your kombucha, it will be ready as early as three or four days (slightly sweet but tangy), and can take as long as two weeks (very vinegary).

Weather: The rate of fermentation (and therefore the level of sweet or sour flavour) depends on how warm your kitchen is. You can make kombucha faster in summer and it may take longer in wintertime when your kitchen is cold. I find an intermittently warm spot, like under the kitchen sink so that it doesn’t take so long in winter.

What if I want to take a break from making Kombucha? If you want to take a break from making kombucha, just leave your starter culture in the gallon jar covered with kombucha and a dish towel. It will stay alive for many weeks or months with very little attention (I know, because I’ve left mine in there for months.) You can always pour a little store-bought kombucha in there if you want to make sure it stays alive. Or brew a few cups of tea and add sugar and throw it in if you’re too busy to make a batch of kombucha and you’re nervous about killing your starter.

Taken from http://www.cheapethniceatz.com/
Taken from http://www.cheapethniceatz.com/

Making Fizzy Kombucha: Kombucha is usually lightly fizzy after being fermented. If you’d like to make it fizzier, do a ‘flavouring’ stage and add a couple of raisins/sultanas and leave for 2-3 days to fizz up! Beware when opening the bottle though! See the next paragraph for more details on ‘flavouring’.

The secret ingredient to extra fizzy kombucha
The secret ingredient to extra fizzy kombucha

Flavouring: If you want to go a step further and flavour your kombucha, simply decant the completed kombucha into a bottle or jar and add any fruit/spice/herb or root (e.g., ginger) that you like into the Kombucha. Seal the container and leave it to sit for 2-3 days. Take care when opening, as this flavouring stage can make it extra fizzy. Decant and enjoy!

Taken from www.mrkate.com
Taken from http://www.mrkate.com

Things to Consider When Making Kombucha:

  • The tea must be completely cooled before adding to the SCOBY
  • Do not keep the SCOBY in the fridge, the cold will kill them
  • If you see mould, throw out the entire batch of tea, rinse the mould off the SCOBY in filtered water and start again. Mould on a SCOBY will usually be black or green.
  • The SCOBY’s natural colouring (white, brown, yellow) is normal and NOT mould.
  • Place brewing Kombucha in a room without direct sunlight, other food, fruit or other fermenting foods.
  • Using white sugar with Kombucha is very safe for the consumer, as the refined process for the sugar takes out bacteria that may harm the SCOBY (which consumes most of the sugar in the fermenting process anyway).
  • Don’t use tea that has added flavouring, or essential oils. Herbal teas can be used, but rotate batches with black tea as the SCOBY needs caffeine.

 

Profile: Kombucha (Fermented Tea)

What is Kombucha? A fermented tea drink rich in probiotics, made with a SCOBY, tea, sugar and water.

What is a SCOBY?  Also known as a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, or (SCOBY). Sometimes referred to as the mother, because of its ability to reproduce, growing layer, upon layer; it has a mushroom like appearance (or ‘alien’ to some).

This living organism ferments sweetened tea (by eating sugar) to become the Kombucha beverage. The amount of living yeast it contains gives the Kombucha beverage an active life which continues after decanting it into bottles.

Taken from secretsoftheoldcountry.com
Taken from secretsoftheoldcountry.com

How do you say it? Most people say “com-booch-ah”

Why is it good for you?

  1. Has anti-cancer properties. Kombucha is very high in Glucaric acid, and recent studies have shown that glucaric acid helps prevent cancer.
  2. Increases energy: rich in vitamin B1, 2, 6 and 12 to increase energy and relieve stress.
  3. Kombucha contains glucosamines, a strong preventive and treatment for all forms of arthritis.
  4. Immune booster: high in antioxidants, kombucha will strengthen your body’s immune system.
  5. With a significant amount of probiotics, kombucha can repair gut damage and improve digestion.
  6. Kombucha is a good source of vitamin C.
  7. Helps the body to detox. Kombucha helps the body to flush out toxic deposits (such as excess cholesterol and uric acid)
  8. Kombucha is rich in a large variety or organic acids, enzymes and vitamins.
  9. Contains more beneficial bacteria, vitamins and minerals than yoghurt.

Colours and varieties: The colour of standard kombucha tea is a light brown colour, similar to plain ‘black’ tea. Colour can change however, with the addition of fruit, herbs, juices or other ingredients.

Taken from www.mrkate.com
Taken from http://www.mrkate.com

Texture: The end result of fermented tea is like a lightly effervescent, carbonated drink.

Taste: Plain kombucha is slightly tangy, and should not be overly sweet (as this indicates that the sugar has not been properly consumed by the SCOBY, and the fermentation hasn’t fully occured). The smell can be off-putting for some, and is often quite earthy and pungent, as most fermented things are. The taste though, is really quite pleasant. However, kombucha flavour is versatile and fruit/juice or herbs can be added to personalise your brew. 

The taste is entirely dependent on a variety of factors, such as temperature, the type of tea used, sweetener, length of fermentation time and if the tea has gone through a ‘second ferment’ where extra flavours can be added.

 

kombucha4
Taken from http://www.cheapethniceatz.com

Preparation: Preparation is simple. Bring filtered water and tea to the boil, add sugar and let it cool to room temperature. Using a sterilized jar, place SCOBY in the jar (make sure the jar is at room temperature), with some ‘starter tea’ and pour in sweet tea mix. Cover with a tea towel and make sure it is out of direct sunlight, and away from direct heat sources. Fermentation can take anywhere from 3-10 days (this is mainly dependent on temperature- the hotter the weather the faster the fermenting process). The more experienced you are at fermenting, the more aware you are of changes at each stage of fermentation, and can tailor the process to suit your tastes. It takes practice 🙂 Read here for my step by step instructions for brewing kombucha at home.

Uses: Kombucha is most commonly drunk as a probiotic health drink. However, it can be substituted in many cases for apple cider vinegar, used in cleaning products or in salad dressings. Cultures for Health outlines a few more uses here.

Brief History: Kombucha has been drunk in Russia and China for over a centrury (different sources say it was as early as 415AD, some say it was only 100 years ago). It was referred to as the ‘tea of immortality’. The samurai drank it as a staple part of their diet. Kombucha Cultures website also describes Chaga (a birch-tree mushroom) used for hundreds of years as a tea made by the Russian peasants, near Moscow to cure cancer. There is speculation that the Kombucha mushroom is related to the Birch-tree mushroom. Read more here.

Where can I get it? 

It can be bought in health food shops, and sometimes in alternative cafes or restaurants. They will normally stock flavoured kombucha, and prices range from $5-$12 per liter (that I have seen). However, because the tea is rich in living probiotics and enzymes, it is best drunk when it is fresh. Often, during the bottling process many of the living benefits can be destroyed. Kombucha is easy, cheap and fun to make, so I would recommend doing it at home!

 Kombucha helps the body to self heal and regulate by:

1. Aiding your liver in removing harmful substances,

2. Promoting balance in your digestive system, and

3. Being rich in health-promoting vitamins, enzymes, and acids.

The health benefits of drinking kombucha are astounding. I noticed a difference in my skin, metabolism and energy levels a few days after drinking (on a daily basis). It is cheap and easy to make, and is an interesting hobby that will educate you about living organisms and probiotic-bacteria. It is an awesome project for kids, to watch the SCOBY grow, too.

Here are some recipes for Kombucha:

Mango-Apricot Kombucha from Our Small Hours
Strawberry Banana Kombucha Smoothie from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition
Flavored Kombucha Recipes Your Kids Will Love from Homemade Mommy

Triple Layer Black Forest Cake (Raw)

I was so happy with how this recipe turned out. I have made a few raw cakes now, and am loving using raw ingredients to create wholesome and decadent desserts.

There was a tin of pitted cherries on sale at the shops last week, and I immediately felt like black forest cake. Then an idea struck me- why not make it raw?! So, I bought the tin for experimental purposes, and I’m sure glad I did. I’d love to find an organic brand that does tinned cherries, so that I can have them all year round, although there really isn’t any argument that fresh is best. If anyone has a suggestion for sourcing organic cherries, please let me know!

blackforestcake7

The layers on this cake can all be made from the same base (cashews and coconut oil) and then the different ingredients added to create each layer. It is a bit time consuming, but the longest part is waiting for each layer to freeze. I soak the cashews over night, and then make a batch of the creamed cashews the next morning. After making and setting the base, I split the batch of cashews in half and have them ready to go in the fridge. Then you simply pour, freeze, wait, pour, freeze, wait, pour, freeze, decorate! Anyway, enough talking about it… here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup raw almond meal (pecan or walnuts will also work)

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

1 cup soft Medjool dates

¼ tsp. sea salt

1 tablespoon of peanut butter

 

Filling:
2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 5 hours, overnight is best

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup raw honey (solid or liquid)(Vegans use agave nectar)

1 1/2 cups cherries

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of cherry juice (replace with other fruit juice if using fresh cherries e.g., apple juice)

1/2 cup of cocoa

 

Topping:

More cherries to decorate with

300mL coconut cream (only use the thick part)

1 tablespoon of orange juice (or liqueur)

Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

Method:

Base:
Step 1: Place nuts and dates in a food processor with peanut butter, melted coconut oil and sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness.

Step 2: Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands. If the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 7” spring-form pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a pie plate lined with cling film), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.

blackforestcake
Crust, in a lined bowl.

Filling:

Step 3: Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.

Step 4: Strain and water from the soaked cashews. Place cashews, coconut oil and honey into food processor and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a couple minutes so be patient and give your processor intermittent breaks, so the motor doesn’t burn out).

Step 5: Separate the mixture 50/50 into 2 bowls.

Step 6: Add the cherries, juice and cinnamon to 1/2 of cashew cream filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the set base.

Cashew cream, cinnamon, and cherries
Cashew cream, cinnamon, and cherries

blackforestcake2

Step 7: Dot some cherries in the mix, and put in the freezer until it has set.

blackforestcake3

Step 8: Mix cocoa and a little honey (to taste, if needed) into the remaining half of the cashew cream, and pour over the cherry layer.

blackforestcake4

Step 9: Whip coconut cream and vanilla seeds (like you would normal cream) with some beaters, until the cream thickens. Add orange juice (or liqueur) and mix it through.

blackforestcake5Step 10: Pour over the frozen chocolate layer, and place back in the freezer until solid.

blackforestcake6

Step 11: Decorate with extra cherries, or fruit and chocolate.

blackforestcake9

 

 

NOTE: To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer.

blackforestcake11

Baba Ganoush – Roasted Eggplant Dip Recipe

Whenever we’re at a restaurant that serves baba ganoush, we just have to order it. Not only is it one of our absolute favorite things to order at a restaurant, it’s easy to make, too. Simply roast whole eggplants and let them cool. Then, mix with a combination of tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic and other flavors. It’s divine.

This dip really packs a punch in flavour, and would be perfect for entertaining. It would be great at a barbeque, or as an appetizer on crunchy bread.

babaganoush

Don’t Skip the Tahini

Tahini is a sesame seed paste with a consistency similar to almond or peanut butter. It is often used in hummus, salad dressings and dips. It can be found in most grocery stores. Just look near the international or Mediterranean foods, or even better- in the organic section.

For a Smokey Flavor, Char or Smoke the Eggplant

I put slices of the eggplant in the oven, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. After about 15 minutes (at 190*C) they began to sizzle and smoke. Don’t freak out- this is excellent! The flavour that the smoke brings is amazing.

Traditional Baba Ganoush
Yield: 6 (1/3 cup) servings
babaganoush3
Basic Dip Ingredients, plus eggplant
Ingredients
  • 2 medium eggplants (about 900 grams)
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped (if you are using a food processor) or minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
 
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 190C. Place eggplants (whole or sliced) onto baking sheet. If using a whole eggplant and prick in several places using a fork. This helps steam escape while the eggplants roast.

    babaganoush4
    I added roasted broccoli to my Baba Ganoush
  2. Drizzle over some olive oil, salt and pepper and place into the oven. Roast eggplants 25 to 30 minutes, or until very soft. Cool until easily handled.
  3. Meanwhile, combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and the salt in a medium bowl. Set aside so the flavors meld.babaganoush2
  4. Mash eggplant into tahini mixture with a fork until somewhat smooth with some texture remaining. Or process until it reaches your desired consistency. Cool to room temperature then stir in parsley and drizzle the top with extra olive oil (if desired- some people aren’t a fan of the extra oil).

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    Add everything together, and process or mash it
 
Notes and Tips:
1. Additions: I also had some broccoli, which I roasted with the eggplant.
2. Herbs: Experiment with the herbs here! I roasted the eggplant and broccoli with rosemary and it tasted amazing. I also added some corriander to the dip.
2.Garlic: We enjoy the extra kick garlic gives to this recipe. If you’re not sure you want to use three cloves, reduce it to two or even one clove.

French Onion Soup: Slow cooked

French onion soup is one of those delicious classics that has worked its way into many homes, not only as a meal but also used as a base flavour for many dishes. Recognised for its caramelized smell and umami affect on the taste buds, French onion soup is comforting and delicious.

Often times, when a recipe calls for a rich savoury taste, you will find a packet of French onion soup on the ingredients list. However, many packet soups contain preservatives, colours, flavours, loads of salt and can be quite inauthentic. For me, this is an unsatisfying means to an end- especially when the soup can be easily and cheaply made.

I made this in my slow cooker- prep was quick and easy and I love the fact that I can turn it on, and leave it, while the magical slow cooker fairy makes my soup. I also roasted my onions in the oven (skin on) and just peeled them and popped them in with all the other ingredients. I thought this gave the soup heartiness and a rich depth of flavour. This can also be cooked, and then frozen in usable portion sizes, for later on.

Ingredients

8 medium brown onions

3 garlic cloves, chopped

4 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of white wine

2-3 cups of stock

3/4 cup of water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme/rosemary (I used both)

salt and pepper

 

Method

Step 1: Roast off onions in oven (I did mine with skin on).

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Step 2: While the onions are roasting, turn the the slow cooker on high and add butter, garlic and herbs.

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Step 3: After the onions have roasted and cooled, peel off onion skin and put them in the slow cooker. I didn’t cut mine up, because I’ll blend it all together at the end.

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Step 4: Add the liquids, and salt and pepper.

Step 5: Cook on high, with the lid on for 3-4 hours and add flour to thicken if necessary. Mine was really thick at this stage, and didn’t need any flour.

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Step 6: After the soup is at your desired consistency, blend together (a stick blender works well).

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This recipe can be frozen. It is a good idea to pre-portion the soup before freezing. The best way I have found to do this is to freeze in ice-cube trays. Enjoy!

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DIY: A Kitchen Table

Regan and I made a trip down to Mentone a few weeks ago. We did breakfast, shopped around, and took a long walk. It was such a beautiful day.

We ate at ‘The Corner Store’ which is a restaurant, just a short walk from the beach. It was a bit too breezy for a swim or a seat outside. But we sat by the large windows and got a little sun.

Regan found a beautiful pine kitchen table, second hand for only $35! At home, we have been eating off a very small table that drove Regan crazy, because he couldn’t fit his legs under it properly. Not to mention having guests over created a bit of a cramped situation.

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So, we loaded up the kitchen table, and drove it back home and Regan got to working on it right away. When I say it was a ‘DIY’ we didn’t build the table- but we gave it a pretty good makeover, if I may say so, myself.

In its original condition, the table was dented, scratched and covered in a tacky lacquer. It had a convenient draw located underneath it, with a nice gold handle. The timber was beautiful, the finish… not so much.

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First, Regan sanded back the table. This stripped off the lacquer and prepped the timber for a coat of oil or paint.

An electric sander for the bigger bits, like the table top. Sand paper was used around the smaller bits that were hard to get to with the sander.

Before sanding
Before Sanding
Tabletop stripped back
After Sanding

After all the lacquer was removed, a coat of white paint was added to the frame and legs.

Regan hard at work
Regan hard at work

 

The top was oiled with Scandinavian Danish oil.

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Beautiful table; my grandma’s amazing crochet doily.
Before (Lacquer), Sanded, and After (Oil)
Before (Lacquer), Sanded, and After (Oil)

And we kept the gold draw handle that it came with.

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Before and After
Before and After

 

The table legs are white, to contrast the natural pine finish.

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Before and After
Before and After

Regan worked so hard on this table, and it looks amazing. Well done, Regan! We can’t wait to have lots of people sitting around it eating good food.

Our 'new' dining table.
Our ‘new’ dining table.

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4 Step Raw Brownie Bites

Meet my new solution to your next chocolate craving…
rawbrowniebites

These brownie bites are really something special. They are a simple combination of dates, nuts, and cocoa powder, but they taste far more rich and satisfying than you’d expect. No added sugar, just sweetened by fruit. With a hint of salt and vanilla the chocolate flavour is elevated to a whole new level.

These little bite size snacks are raw, vegan and paleo- packing in lots of vitamins and minerals. They are a sinch to prepare and can be kept in the fridge or freezer to have on hand… all the time.

I hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.

 

Raw Brownie Bites
Makes about one dozen

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups nuts- walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts work well
1/4 cup cocoa powder/protein powder or a mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1 cup soft dates, pitted (about 10 Medjool dates)
1 tablespoon warm water

Additional cocoa powder, coconut or chia seeds for coating (optional)

Directions:

Step 1: In a food processor grind the walnuts or almonds into a fine meal.

Almond meal and processed dates
Almond meal and processed dates

Step 2: Add in the rest of the ingredients, and process again until a sticky, uniform dough is formed.

Add salt, vanilla, and cocoa
Add salt, vanilla, and cocoa

Step 3: Scoop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment paper, to prevent sticking.

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Step 4: Roll the balls between your hands, and roll them in cocoa powder, coconut or chia if desired.

Coat in cocoa
Coat in cocoa

 

Store the bites in the fridge or freezer, and serve them chilled for the most firm texture. (I prefer them frozen, myself.)

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NOTE: If you don’t have access to dates, try making these with another dried fruit, like raisins, instead. The flavor will be different, but still tasty!

Enjoy!