While there has been no frenzied cooking days this week as I enjoyed last week, I thought I would share with you a few of the offerings from my kitchen.
Firstly, I finally got around to making up the fruit mince to go into my mince pies for Christmas. I usually try to get this done by September at the latest, however this year September turned out to be such a busy month that the fruit mince kept getting forgotten. Even when I did eventually find the time, the girls and I had to make a special trip to the supermarket for some of the ingredients after I forgot to add them to the shopping list last weekend. I usually make it a rule not to visit the supermarket between our weekly or fortnightly trips and just make do with what we have in the house and since having started this rule I have saved a considerable amount. I also hate dragging both girls around with me, I never know the best combination to go with – Baby Good in the infant seat and Miss Two in the trolley (not my preferred option as I saw this end in near disaster and requiring an ambulance when I worked as a check out operated as a teenage) or Baby Good in the sling and Miss Two in the trolley seat. I usually go with the second option, but it’s a little tricky emptying the trolley onto the conveyor belt at the end. This time though as I only need four items I took the pram in and combined the trip with a visit to the library.
Okay, so I got a little side-tracked there, back to subject of fruit mince. I love making this for several reasons, it’s super easy and quick, just throwing the various dried fruits and nuts together with a little brown sugar, melted butter (actually the recipe calls for suet, but I’ve never used that), lemon rind and juice and brandy, stirring and then putting into a jar to be kept in the fridge until December. Actually this was absolutely the ideal thing to make with Miss Two, she loves stirring and I gave her a big pile of dried fruit to snack on while we ‘cooked’. She was adamant about licking the spoon that I used to measure out the brandy though. This was quickly followed by a look of absolute horror and pleas for apple juice to get rid of the terrible taste in her mouth. What makes this recipe extra special is that it was my grandmothers, and mine is a copy in her own hand writing (along with the pastry recipe that goes with it). She made mince pies every year, as my mother still does and now me. We have lots of family favourite recipes gathered from Nana or Mum, but for me this one is the most special, the one I treasure and the one I hope my girls will take with them as a gift from their great grandmother. It helps that it is so closely associated with Christmas, my favourite time of year.
The second offering from my kitchen this week is in anticipation of a bumper carrot harvest – which sadly may not happen, but I have taken measures to prevent any more attacks which I will tell you about on Wednesday. One problem I’ve had with the Aussie Farmer’s fruit and veg boxes is the shear numbers of carrots. I always seem to have an over supply and am constantly trying to find new ways to use them (Liz your carrot fritters are happening tomorrow). A good friend of mine sent me a recipe for Spicy Dhal and Carrot soup which I made for dinner tonight. I have recently started making soup for dinner one night a week. I really love soups, I always have a few vegies that need using up at the end of the week which are ideal for using in soups and I am on a mission to cut down our red meat consumption, for both economic and environmental reasons (though coming from a family who have in the past made their living from farming and dealing in beef cattle, I could never bring myself to become a vegetarian either). The most annoying aspect of my new soup regime is that Miss Two flatly refuses to eat any soups. Overnight this meal went from a much loved one to one so despised she can’t bare to even have the bowl near her. Why? I have no idea, but it’s got to the point now where I actually make her something different, which I swore I would NEVER do. Generally she has left overs.
125g red lentils
5 cups vegetable stock
350g carrots, sliced
2 onions, chopped
225g can chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp vegetable ghee or oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and chopped (I used red as that’s what I had in the fridge)
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cups milk
2 tbsp chopped coriander
natural yogurt, to serve
Place the lentils in a strainer and rinse well under cold running water. Drain and place in a large saucepan, together with 3 1/2 cups of stock, carrots, onions, tomatoes and garlic. Bring mixture to the boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, heat the ghee or oil in a small pan. Add the cumin, ground coriander, chilli and tumeric and fry over a low heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, season with salt to taste.
Process the soup in batches in a blender or food processor (I used a stick blender). Return to the saucepan, add the spice mixture and the remaining stock and simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.
Add the milk, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir in the chopped coriander and reheat gently. Serve hot with a swirl of yogurt.
Miss Two is going to Granny’s tomorrow and I’m hoping to experiment with making some sort of bread, perhaps bagels, I’m not sure yet, but hopefully I will have something interesting to write about from my kitchen next week.