Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fish and Broccoli Laksa

Hello Dear Reader,

I have always been fortunate to have access to freshly caught fish, my Dad was a wonderful fisherman, fishing at Double Island Point, Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay for Taylor, Bream, Flathead and Whiting. Then I met and married lovely hubby who loves fishing and most times, comes home with a good catch of beautiful fresh fish. He will target certain fish that are plentiful and good to eat, reef fish like Parrot, Pearl Perch, Snapper and Pelagic fish like Yellow Tail King, Amber Jack and Yellow Fin Tuna. He is always mindful of bag limits and legal fish size. Of course Whiting is our favourite to catch and eat and it is easily caught off the beach or close off shore. We eat more whiting that any other fish and we always have it in a tempura batter.

With the stronger flavoured fish we usual make a flavoursome curry or fish cakes but when I read this recipe I thought it would be perfect for the Yellow Tail King we had in the freezer. Yellow Tail King has beautiful firm flesh,  is not too strong in flavour and lends itself beautifully to this coconut-y noodle-y Laksa.

Ingredients for Fish and Broccoli Lasksa, clockwise from top left-
Jar of Laksa paste, can of coconut milk, 2 cakes of instant noodles, 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, packet of bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts, one head of broccoli, cut into smallish pieces, 1/4 cup coriander, chopped, 500 grams of firm-fleshed fish cut into 2 cm cubes and 6 cups of water

Combine Laksa paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to the boil

Add Broccoli, cover and cook over lowish heat for 3 minutes or until broccoli is just tender

Add fish cubes and cook for a further 2 minutes or until cooked through, when ready to serve, add bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts

Meanwhile cook noodles according to instructions on packet. Divide between serving bowls

And ladle soup over noodles and sprinkle with chopped coriander

I know we are incredibly lucky to have access to fresh fish and I never take that for granted. This laksa is simple to make and a great way to cook this really beautiful flavoured fish. 

Is fish abundant where you live? 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Beach Patrol

Hello Dear Reader,

The last time we went camping to Noosa North Shore we discovered a wonderful organised beach clean up going on, it was organised by the Sunshine Coast Surfrider Foundation. In the past when we have been picking up rubbish from our favourite beach we have felt like we were up against a big rubbish producing machine and felt completely alone and frustrated that our little effort couldn't possibly make a difference. It was such a wonderful sight to see other people that are passionate about cleaning up our beaches too.

The Sunshine Coast Surfrider Foundation have been organising and sponsoring this six monthly event for ten years and it is well organised and publicised, with free camping for volunteers that register and pick up rubbish, a big BBQ on the last day and prizes for the most rubbish collected, the weirdest item found and the most micro plastics collected. It is a real family event, encouraging everyone be get involved. On average they pick up two tonnes of rubbish every 6 months, isn't that figure staggering!

I have also recently heard about this organisation, Take 3 for the Sea, which encourages everyone that steps foot on a beach to take three pieces of rubbish and bin them, when they visit a beach. I really believe that if everyone did that, our beaches and oceans would be cleaner. Well, that and not littering to begin with, would make an even bigger impact.

We all know our oceans are sick and full of toxic plastic and man made rubbish of all sizes and shapes and all this rubbish ends up on our beaches and visa versa. Below is just a small example of what we collected over a week at Noosa North Shore, once my eyes had been alerted to the plague of plastic on this beach I love, I just can't walk or drive past any, without stopping to pick it up. The two most common items I find on the beach, that drive me nuts, are plastic shopping bags and plastic water bottles and ironically enough those are the two items that are really easy to substitute for a reusable bag or bottle, if everyone used reusable versions of just those two things, our beaches would be so much better of!

When I was talking to one of the organisers, he mentioned that all the plastic rubbish is collected by a company called "Newtech Poly" in Newcastle, they have a machine that will take plastic that is up to 60% contaminated with sand and beach debris and turn it into functional items like benches. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any information about this company so I can't provide a link, hopefully they exist!

The following are some links about the movement "Ban the Bag" and some wonderful alternatives to plastic bags, can we finally get rid of this menace?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Osso Buco Alla Milanese

Hello Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, our butcher at the markets, had Osso Buco on special, so we bought a pack of four. In total, the pack weighed just under two kilos, there was some large bones, of course, but still plenty of meat. When I was younger, I had an aversion to bone-y-meat-y pieces of meat, I was just a bit put off by bone or marrow. But now, knowing the health benefits of bone broths and marrow, I have dipped my toe into making Osso Buco for the first time.

The recipe came from "The food Of Italy" one of my first ever, proper, recipe books I bought for myself, too many years ago to remember exactly when. It is well used and leafed through not only because of the wonderful recipes but also because of the photos. Really splendid, real food photos, just like I would imagine you would take yourself on a holiday in Italy. I cook many recipes from this great recipe book-Tiramisu, Eggplant Parmigiana, Garlic Prawns and Oven Dried Tomatoes to name a few.

So, last Sunday morning, before we left for the day, I started off this wonderful dish. Firstly I dusted the pieces of meat in flour, salt and pepper, I used a clip lock container to "dust" the pieces of Osso Buco in, then I browned the meat in a melted butter, oil and two whole cloves of garlic, until golden brown and well sealed. Put the meat into the bowl of the slow cooker. White wine, a lemon leaf or bay leaf, allspice and cinnamon is then added along with 3/4 cup of water. I cooked the Osso Buco for 6 hours on low until the meat was meltingly tender. I removed the meat from the bones, keeping the bones for later and put on a serving dish and foiled it to keep warm. To make a super delicious sauce, you can scrape the remaining juices into a smallish saucepan or do as I did and just increased the heat on the slow cooker (if your slow cooker has that function) either way you just stir or whisk until the sauce is thick and then add a gremolata of lemon zest, garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper and pour this magnificent sauce over the soft and unctuous meat. If marrow is your thing, when you serve yourself some meat and sauce, remove the marrow from a bone and stir this into the gravy on your plate, it just adds a beautiful richness.

Ingredients for Osso Buco Alla Milanese, clockwise from bottom left-approximately 2 kg's of Osso Buco, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and allspice, 250 ml of white wine, a splash of oil and 40 grams of butter, a lemon leaf or bay leaf and 2 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
Dust Osso Buco in seasoned flour 
Heat a good heavy based, non stick frypan to medium heat, add oil and butter and let butter melt. Add the garlic and toss to flavour the oil but don't let it colour. Brown meat well on both sides
Then add to the bowl of the slow cooker along with the white wine, garlic cloves and lemon or bay leaf. At this point, also add about 125 ml of water. Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Keep an eye on the slow cooker as it may need extra water added. Mine didn't but I am mindful that every slow cooker is different
For the gremolata you will need a lemon, a garlic clove and a small handful of parsley
Zest the lemon
Finely mince the garlic clove
And finely chop the parsley
Combine in a bowl and set aside for later
After 6 hours remove meat and keep warm. I also removed the meat from the bones at this point
Either scrape and pour the lovely sauce into a saucepan and heat to medium or keep the sauce in the slow cooker bowl and turn heat up on slow cooker, now add the gremolata and whisk until shiny, smooth and thick. The flour that you dusted the Osso Buco in will thicken the sauce.

Serve the gorgeous sauce over tender, falling apart meat
I served ours with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and a slice of lemon to squeeze over the top

So comforting and warming, using really simple ingredients, it's a lovely dish.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Here and Now 2

Hello Dear Reader,

I did mean to have this post finished and link up with"Say Little Hen" by the 17th of this month, but life got in the way. I will go ahead and post it anyway and then start linking up next month. So here goes my Here and Now 2-

Loving//The rain that we have received recently, it simply makes my life so much easier, no spending an hour or so watering, using our precious tank water

Eating//Osso Buco Alla Milanese, it has been my favourite meal, so far, this week

Drinking//A quiet glass of port last night. We discovered Castle Glen when we went to Stanthorpe for our 27th Wedding Anniversary three years ago, they have an incredible range of wines, fortified wines and spirits. This is a beautiful sipping port.

Feeling//Overwhelmed by the thought of sorting out my Mother in laws home-there is just so much stuff, I don't know how to begin

Making//I have been tending my new sourdough starter and am looking forward to making a crusty loaf of light rye sourdough today

Thinking//I must get into my sewing room and get on with a new quilt for one of my little grand nieces, her 4th birthday is in August and I hope to have it finished by then. I have had the material for ages and I did make a start on it, but I made a mistake and the patches didn't line up how they should have, so I just left it and thought I would get back to it soon. Well, I really must do that!

Dreaming//Of a little home and a big productive garden somewhere in my future

This is a lovely process to go through, I find it really fascinating as all the answers to the questions are just sitting there, ready in my brain.

Have a wonderful Sunday to everyone that drops by and reads my little blog. I love the comments that you leave, it absolutely makes my day.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Hello Dear Reader,

I mentioned yesterday that rain had stated to fall here and I am just loving every minute of it, anyone would think I was a farmer. The best news is that our actual Queensland farmers are getting some of this glorious rain, yeh!

In anticipation of this rain, I diluted some home made liquid fertiliser and spread it around all the plants, so hopefully with the combination of beautiful rain and natural fertiliser my fruit and veggies will be jumping out of the ground. The two liquid fertilisers I make are-a bag of horse manure submerged in a big bucket of water and comfrey leaves also left to steep in a bucket of water. Once they have marinated for a month or so, I simple scoop out about 500ml of liquid fertiliser into a 9 litre watering can and top the rest up with water, this is then spread around the base of plants. I have been using this type of fertiliser for about 2 years now and the plants just love it.

Now on with what we bought, spent and ate this week

What we bought
Shopping from Coles

Shopping from ALDI, the mince is for the dogs, they get a small amount of mince and a good quality dry for dinner. This 2 kg of mince will last them for 16 meals which works out to be 86 cents or 43 cents per dog per night

Fruit and veg plus 3 (well we bought 3 but only 1 made it into the photo) almond croissant from the Sunday markets. I mentioned yesterday that when we go to the markets I have a quick walk through first to check prices and then buy what is best value for money. The giant head of broccoli in the photo above is a good example. At most fruit and veggie stalls, broccoli was $4.50 a kg but at this one stall they were selling broccoli for $2.50 a head not per kg, so I found the biggest one I could find. When I got home I weighed it and found it was just under 1 kg, it pays to shop around, even at a market

Meat from "The Meat Truck" we were very disappointed in the free range eye fillet, it was very chewy. I think I will have to use the rest of it for slow cooker meals. Lovely hubby sliced the whole eye fillet up when we got home, it made 3 meals with 5 pieces and 1 with 2 pieces of steak. So even though it was a lot of money initially it worked out to be $10.50 per meal. I will be letting them know how disappointed we were with the meat tomorrow when we go to the markets, it is the first time we haven't been happy with the quality of the meat.

A few items were forgotten so I went to Coles on Sunday night after dinner to pick these few items up. There was also a 12 pack of little apples marked down to 50 cents so I snaffled those up as well

What we spent
Sunday Markets-

The Meat Truck-$63.90

Fruit and Veggies-$50.60





What we ate
Saturday-Fish and Noodle Laksa

Sunday-Osso Buco Alla Milanese

Monday-Prawn stir fry with rice noodles

Tuesday-Thai Pork and Wombok Noodle soup 

Wednesday-Disappointing BBQ eye fillet with Potato, Avocado and Watercress salad

Thursday-I forgot to take a photo but we had Pan Fried Reef Fish with more of the same salad as above. This is the night I take Lulu, the older Jack Russell, dog training. We eat when I get home

Friday-Chilli Con Carne with steamed basmati rice, guacamole and natural yoghurt, this meal only has 250 grams of beef mince in it so it is very economical and as there is lots of pulses and veggies in it to make it stretch, there is plenty left over for dinner tonight. Sweet!

Over to you, what do you cook on nights, when you have to out the door again in a short time?

Friday, 19 May 2017

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

Welcome to Friday, without a doubt the best day of the week! Isn't it funny how certain days of the week feel different? Even though, it is just another day, Mondays definitely feel quite different to Fridays. I guess it is all in the mind set, Fridays mean the weekend is almost here with all the freedom that it brings, whereas Monday, is the start of another working week, chained to the machine. It's not that I dislike my job, I would just rather stay home instead!

I must try and bring you some other frugal things I do in a week rather than all the foodie frugal stuff I do, I think I am a little obsessed with food and using it all to prevent waste. I promise to deliver more non-food related frugal achievements next week. Now, on with this weeks frugal stuff-

1. Packed my morning tea and lunch everyday, nothing new there, but I think it is a great place to start if you want to save money. It may not be gourmet but it is always healthy and filling. I really don't mind what I eat and will often have the same thing all week.

2. Used up the  last of the Wombok, that was sitting in the crisper draw, in this Thai Pork and Wombok soup. I had bought a huge Wombok from the markets a few weeks ago to make an Asian coleslaw to take camping with us. I always go for best value when buying fruit and veg and will check out all the prices, at the fruit and veg stalls first, before purchasing anything. I went with a whole Wombok rather that the half as it was just 50 cents more for a whole Wombok at another stall.  I fiddled with and adapted the recipe to reflect the ingredients I had in the house. 

3. Used the slow cooked to make a beautiful Osso Buco Alla Milanese last Sunday, it was Mothers day and I didn't want to spend too much time in the kitchen. It is a great little recipe and takes no time to actually put together, than I put it in the slow cooker for the rest of the day. The slow cooker draws very little power.

4. Made us all a beautiful breakfast on Sunday at home rather than going out. It took hardly any time to put together then they bake for 10 minutes or so. I also had all the ingredients already at home, so there was no extra outlay for this special breakfast.

5. I finally picked the final four Pomegranates that were growing on our tree, I had picked the first two, about three weeks ago and even though they looked perfect on the outside, inside was a different story. They weren't properly formed and not right at all and the arils were pale pink and tiny. Looks can be deceiving!

However these four pomegranates are far from picture perfect and cosmetically challenged but...

Just look how many arils I got out of these four, very imperfect looking fruit-

We have been having this gorgeous, jewel like, fruit on our breakfast fruit salad and yoghurt every morning and I really want to make this salad. We'll see what the weekend brings. Just out of interest I looked up the price of Pomegranate arils sold in a pack, for a 75 gram pack they cost $5.00 that means I saved myself roughly $23 by being patient and growing this beautiful fruit. But really, it is just for a bit of fun, the actual tree started life as a Bonsai project my son decided not to go ahead with, I have repotted this tree, three times since then and this is the first year I have been able to pick anything that looks edible.

Your turn, what's your frugal achievements this week?

On another note, it's raining, yeh!