Chicken and Ginger Congee or Jook

Chicken thigh fillets, rice, ginger and water, that's it

Mix well, cook for 8 hours (on low) in the slow cooker
Just about ready
Chicken and Ginger Congee, served with finely sliced ginger, spring onions, light soy and sesame oil

This is an unusual dish, I say unusual because of its texture, more than anything. I first tasted it in Hong Kong, at Yum Char. The Jook or Congee, which is best described as a rice porridge (mmm doesn't that sound inviting) comes around in huge wooden buckets with cloth wrapped lids. It is supposed to be very good for you and is very easy to eat and digest. I am sure there are more variations of this dish then grains of rice in a cup, but it is usually quite simple.

We have this dish whenever my Mother-in-Law comes home from hospital, because - A) she will actually eat it  B) it is easy to make, in the slow cooker and C ) it is nutritious. I now make the Congee in the slow cooker as the Congee doesn't get stuck on the bottom of the slow cooker bowl while cooking and is super easy to put it on in the morning before leaving for the hospital.

You can make as much or as little as you like, you just adjust the ratio.
the ratio is - 1 cup of rice to 9 cups of water
At first it may not look like it will ever thicken up, but eventually the rice breaks down completely and you are left with a "porridge like" consistency.

Ingredients

750 grams Chicken Thigh Fillets (I have also used Chicken Mince)
100 grams Ginger, peeled and chopped into big pieces
1 cup rice ( I use Basmati)
9 Cups of water

Method

Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker bowl
If your slow cooker has a "low" setting, choose this setting
Cook on low 8  hours
After about 4 hours give it a good stir and then again at the 6 to 7 hour mark
Serve with finely slivered Ginger, chopped Spring Onions, Light Soy and a dash of Sesame oil

So, tell me, is there a dish you make, that looks a bit odd or different, but tastes great?





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My Favourite Knives

As I have mentioned my Husband is a mad keen fisherman and I think this is the reason we have surgically sharp knives in the house. He seems to collect knives and just this last Christmas he ordered some more for himself! My late Father-in-Law was the same, if fact just a few months before he passed away, he was still ordering more knives, for us and for himself, he had to have the best of the best even though he didn't get to use any of them. The brands he bought were all Japanese Steele (best of the best) and include - TojiroShun and i.o.shen

Before these knives came into our lives I was happy using our Global Knives which, were also a present from my In-Laws. They were perfectly sharp, thanks to Hubby, and easy in the hand. And I thought knives were knives but WOW I have got to tell you my favourite knives now are the Tojiro brand. Not only are they surgically sharp they are such a fine blade and balance beautifully in the hand. They totally rock.

My Fav's are the second from the left and the last two on the right, all Tojiro.
This post is not sponsored and the views are completely my own
So tell me, what is your favourite, can't do without, brand of Kitchen Utensils?

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This weeks 5 Frugal Things

1.  Made a meal in the slow cooker
2.  Used some thrifted fabric to make a new peg bag
3.  Made home made peanut butter
4.  Picked Salad Leaves, Bok Choy, Tomatoes and Lemons from the garden
5.  Made Molasses Gingerbread

This weeks 5 Frugal things, on a Friday, is basically a wrap of my week. On Saturday I made The Chicken and Ginger Congee in the Slow Cooker. The Slow Cooker uses less electricity to run and the actual Congee made 14 serving. I was able to freeze some for a later date. I will post the Congee Recipe soon.

My peg bag was looking a bit sad so I made a new one with some thrifted fabric, I will post a "How to make a peg bag" at a later date.

Made Molasses Gingerbread, using up some leftover Molasses and ingredients I already had.

I was able to pick some salad leaves, tomatoes and a lemon from the garden.

Made Peanut Butter for a fraction of the cost of bought Peanut Butter ( and its better )

There you go, my first " 5 Frugal things, on a Friday".

So, over to you, what have you been able to do, make or cook, this week, that was frugal or free?
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Molasses Gingerbread OR in which I forget to add water to recipe and end up with amazing gingerbread

Ingredients for Molasses Gingerbread
Softened butter cut into cubes and sugar, ready to cream
Creaming butter and sugar together

Add eggs on at a time and mix well
Add molasses
Add sifted flour, salt, spices and baking soda
Mix well
This is the point at which you should gradually add the 3/4 cup cold water and mix well
Spoon into a lined baking tin

Left- another Apple Spice Cake
Right- Molasses Gingerbread


I had bought some molasses for a recipe a while ago and it needed to be used up so, as usual, I just googled "Molasses Recipes" and struck gold with this one. This Molasses Gingerbread is deep and heavy with lots of in your face flavour from the intense, almost burnt taste, of the molasses to the familiar warmth of the ginger, cinnamon and ground cloves. It cuts beautifully and is lovely by itself or slathered in butter. 

Ingredients

1 and 3/4 cups of plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
100 grams of butter cut into cubes then left to soften
1/3 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup Molasses
3/4 cold water (While typing out his recipe, this is the exact point that I realised I didn't add the water)

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C
Grease and line a loaf or round cake tin
Sift together the flour. baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt and set aside till needed
Beat butter and sugar together till light and creamy
Add eggs one at a time till well combined
Pour Molasses into bowl, in a steady stream, beating all the time
Add pre sifted flour mixture, and mix well
This is the point at which you should add the 3/4 cup of cold water till well incorporated
Pour (see I had to SPOON the mixture, that should have been a dead give away that something wasn't right) mixture into prepared tin
Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean about 35-40 minutes
Let cool in pan then cool completely on cooking rack
Serve plain, dusted with icing sugar or slathered with soft butter

Oh well, I made a mistake, but it still turned out amazing!

So tell me, what "mistakes" have you made in the kitchen? Did anyone except you, notice? 









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What we have eaten, so far this Year

On Tuesday afternoon we sit down for a millisecond and write the Menu/Shopping list for the following week. Hubby kindly does the shopping for me on a Wednesday and our local Supermarket catalogues also starts on a Wednesday and go through to the following Tuesday, so we always look out for any good catalogue specials. Our menu feeds three Adults, one of those being a family member who lives next door, is very unwell and eats like a sparrow. On the other hand my Husband eats enough for two, so really the quantities we buy and cook are for three to four average Adults. Our family member, next door, insists on shouting one meal as a take away. This is usually a Chicken and Artichoke Pizza from 8 slices Pizza Bar. They use quality ingredients and the amount of toppings is very generous. This pizza is not on their menu, but they are happy to make it for us.

This is what we have eaten so far this year

January
Friday 1st  -        Thai Red Chicken Curry with steamed Basmati rice & Papadums
Saturday 2nd -    Spinach and Ricotta Quiche and steamed broccoli
Sunday 3rd -       Tempura Fish, rice and Chinese greens
Monday 4th-       Pan fried Fish and big tossed salad
Tuesday 5th-       Ham and Spiced Apple sauce, mashed potato and steamed broccoli
Wednesday 6th-  Tuna Pasta bake and steamed green beans
Thursday 7th -     Pizza night
Friday 8th-          Spicy fish cakes, rice and Chinese greens
Saturday 9th-      Massaman Beef curry, rice & Papadums (Froze half)
Sunday 10th-      Yoghurt spiced chicken, rice and broccoli
Monday 11th-     Pan fried fish and big tossed salad
Tuesday 12th-     Chinese Style Pork Chops with rice and Chinese greens
Wednesday 13th- Beef and Bean stir fry and rice
Thursday 14th-     Pizza Night
Friday 15th-         Left over Beef and Bean stir fry and rice
Saturday 16th-     Curried Mince, rice and Papadums
Sunday 17th-       Pan fried fish and big tossed salad
Monday 18th-      Left over Massaman Beef Curry from freezer with home make pitta bread
Tuesday 19th-      I had just toast and peanut butter and a cup of tea because I went to see Nigella at                                    the Brisbane City Hall. Hubby had some steamed Pork buns from the freezer
Wednesday 20th- Still trying to remember
Thursday 21st-     We went out for Dinner (don't faint) at Aqua Linea, the dinner out was a very much
                               appreciated Christmas present!

The Creme Brulee at Aqualinea was superb!
Friday 22nd-        I had an egg on toast as Hubby was out
Satuday 23rd-      Chicken and Ginger Congee ( I will post this recipe soon)
Sunday 24th-       Chicken and Ginger Congee
Monday 25th-      Tempura Fish, rice and Chinese Greens
Tuesday 26th-      Slow Cooker Coconut Pork Curry, rice and Papadums



Phew that was exhausting and interesting so far we have had 6 fish meals ( Hubby is a very good fisherman) and 13 meals with rice (including the Congee) we must really like rice and why yes! Thursday night is Pizza Night.

So the plan from now on is to do a weekly "What we ate this week" Post, form now on.




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My Favourite Frying Pans and Cookware

Swiss Diamond 11 Inch Nonstick Frypan
Swiss Diamond 11 X 11 Inch Square Casserole with lid
I seriously love this frypan and casserole, big time, they are completely and utterly non stick, no food ever sticks, ever! Apparently, they use real diamond crystals which gives them the unique finish. It is extremely long lasting and won't crack or peel. It was advised to use them on a medium heat to preserve the finish, which I have done (most of the time) They are super easy to clean cause nothing sticks, ever!

The simple act of frying an egg in this pan is a joy, as is everything else I have cooked in them. The casserole with lid, did the most spectacular job of cooking thick Pork Loin chops. I started them out in the casserole on the cook top then popped the lid on a finished them in a preheated oven. I tell you those were amazing Pork Chops! Caramelised on the outside and perfectly moist and tender on the inside. I also took this advice, seriously, do it.

This Le Creuset round casserole, has to be my all time favourite piece of Kitchen Ware. I got it as a Birthday present years ago and use it constantly. It is what our sourdough is cooked in, it truly makes the best casserole and  it works brilliantly on the cook top or in the oven. It is seriously heavy and has an enamel finish so not much sticks to it. The flavour you are able to generate with this beauty is amazing. I start most casseroles off with onions and garlic, you are able to really slow cook the onions till they are caramelised. That alone = flavour you can't get in a packet. These beautifully made, enamel on steel pots and pans, are made to last a lifetime, there really isn't too much you can do to damage them, it is the type of Kitchen ware that gets passed down to the next generation in families. 


Like all big ticket items, I shopped around for the very best price and then waited for my Birthday or Christmas to get them. I am a big fan of Peters of Kensington, they really do have amazing prices, the delivery charge is not too crazy and you can have items gift wrapped. You name a famous name in cookware and they will have it!

This post is not sponsored and the views are entirely my own.

So tell me, what is your favourite, can't do without Kitchen/Cook Ware item?





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Home made Peanut Butter

Other than our daily bread this is probably the second most used "recipe" that I make in the Thermomix . I say "recipe" but it's as easy as pie. This makes a large jar so you can increase or decrease the ingredients as needed. Keep an eye on the peanuts in the oven, they don't take long to turn golden, you want them to lose their rawness without adding too much colour as this dries them out and you will need to add more oil to compensate. This home-made peanut butter has more body than shop bought and will dry out a little in the jar, BUT it is still quite the most delicious Peanut Butter ever. You can substitute Maple Syrup for the honey if you wish.


300 grams Raw Peanuts ready for the oven
After being roasted in oven
In the Thermomix with Salt, Honey, Cinnamon and oil
After being blitzed for 10 seconds, more to go
Smooth, darkly roasted, sweet and salty Peanut Butter
mmm...so Delicious

Ingredients

300 grams Raw Peanuts
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
30 grams Honey
60 grams Rice Bran Oil

Method

Preheat oven to 100 C
Spread raw peanuts over a flat oven tray, that is lined with baking paper
Bake till golden brown, about 20 minutes
Into Thermomix bowl, add all above ingredients
Chop for 10 seconds on speed 4
Scrape down sides
Mix for a further 10 seconds on speed 4
Again scrape down sides
For a smooth peanut butter, slowly increase speed from 1 to 7 for 1 - 2 minutes, and, you guessed it, scraping down sides every 30 seconds
This should give you a smooth, silky peanut butter
Store in a glass jar in the fridge (at the back, behind the broccoli, because it is so delicious just by the spoonful) not that I have ever done that











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That to-do list

Zee List
I am the type of person that needs a list, other wise I tend to procrastinate or procrastibake! I have a diary set up in the kitchen on a recipe book stand, so its front and centre, right in front of me, no escaping it. Every day, I write a list up, obviously it depends if I am working that day or not, as to how much I can achieve in the time I have. I try to be practical, after all I am not Wonderwoman and there are only 24 hours in a day, I also require a lot of sleep.

So that means on my regular working week, I have about 30 minutes in the morning before work and about 1 1/2 hours after work to get that list done. Luckily I live close to work, so the commute is easy, that means I have more time up my sleeve.  My afternoons can look like this - About two times a week there is the bread to make and bake, the house work is divided up so I do a little each day, then there is the washing,  packing my lunch for the next day and starting on dinner. My lovely Husband shares the cooking and some cleaning (he vac's and mops the floors) so it's not all me carrying the load.
Blitz worm food-tick
This list method works for me, it helps me stay focused and keeps the house in order. When my home is in order I feel calm and so the cycle goes. The weekend list covers the basics that keep things humming along like - wipe over kitchen - that includes all surfaces and appliances, de-hair lounges - courtesy of our very loved cat, washing, general tidy of all rooms, I usually make sourdough on the weekend as it takes more time than the yeasted bread I make during the week, and tidying and cleaning the outside of the house and of course, gardening. Again, I try not to make the weekend list too exhaustive (you know, not Wonderwoman)

So, tell me, are you a "to-do list" person or a "make it up as you go along" person?
Make Bread-tick

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My Favourite Tea

Breakfast is Madura- Green tea and Papaya Leaf
During the day is Higher Living- Licorice tea
Evening is Pukka- Peppermint and Licorice tea
My favourite teas, at the moment, are the three pictured above, I just can't go without them. I know the Madura Green tea has caffeine in it, that's probably why I look forward to it so much of a morning. It certainly helps to wake me up. I have been drinking this Madura tea for over 10 years and just love it. My local supermarkets no longer carry it, so once a year I order it directly from Madura, I buy 7 packs at a time to get free postage.

The other two are fairly new to me, but it was love at first sip with both of them. That sweet lingering Licorice taste is just superb and I really look forward to it for morning tea and lunch. My night time cuppa is the Pukka one, it is stronger in Licorice taste and milder in the Peppermint, it is just DIVINE.

I drink my tea from my favourite tea cup, its bone china and it is huge. I call it my bathtub of tea.  I have had it for probably 10 years or more, I did have two but gave the other set to my sister. It is a Roy Kirkham design called English Rose and is still available. I think it makes a difference to the whole tea experience if you drink from a cup that is fine.

This post is not sponsored and the views are entirely my own.

So tell me, what is your favourite brew? Do you try new ones all the time or stick with the ones you love?
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My Mums Pickling Vinegar



Pickled Birds Eye Chillies 

Mum made magnificent Pickled Chillies, in fact when I was pregnant with our Son, I couldn't get enough Country Cheese biscuits with loads of butter and sweet, hot Pickled Chillies. This Pickling Vinegar works for any type of chilli, as you probably know Chillies are such prolific growers and this is a great, simple way to preserve the Chillies. We use these Pickled Chillies to add a bit of heat to dishes, its a great addition to sandwiches and we also use the vinegar over fish and chicken, its just delicious. Spicy and Sweet. I store the Pickling vinegar in an empty vinegar bottle or glass jar until it is needed.
By the way, I have never left the Pickling Vinegar for a week  before bottling or using, I am usually in too much of a hurry to use it

Ingredients

5 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 tablespoons whole pepper corns
1 teaspoon salt
3 garlic cloves- grated
1 cinnamon stick

Method

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and stir until boiling
Simmer gently for 5 minutes
Allow to cool completely
Strain and bottle or leave stand for a week then strain and bottle



Pickling Vinegar, ready to use
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Apple Spice Cake

This is a super easy, mix and bake cake that fills the kitchen with the aroma of spiced apples. I have used freshly grated nutmeg, I think it makes a difference, the nutmeg is really punchy and smells divine. I adapted the recipe from here. I love that all you need is  bowl and a whisk and no fancy ingredients.
In a bowl mix together the oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and apple sauce
Lightly whisk in greek yoghurt
Mix with a whisk to combine
Add flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg and gently fold in dry ingredients, do not over mix
Ta da, it smells just divine

Ingredients

1/4 cup rice bran oil

2 large eggs at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup Greek yoghurt

1 cup apple sauce (I used Woolworths own brand)

1 3/4 cup white plain flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C, grease and line a loaf tin

In a large bowl whisk together the oil, eggs, sugars, vanilla, Greek yoghurt, and apple sauce

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg

Gently mix to combine, don't over mix

Pour batter into prepared tin

Bake for 45 - 60 minutes (ovens do vary) till cooked through

Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool

I served mine, spread with butter

So, tell me, what is your favourite mix and bake, cake recipe?


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Curried Mince

Ingredients for the best Curried Mince

I love a good curried mince and this one is no exception, its a mild and sweet curry made with beef mince, sultanas and green apple. My Mum used to make the best sweet curry using left over Mutton roast meat, she would also add green apple and sultanas. I think that is why I like this one so much, it reminds me of Mum. I serve it with steamed rice, papadums, chutney and Greek Yoghurt.
Fry the onions
Add the mince
Brown mince and onion

Add spices 
Add a can of crushed Tomato's, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, after 30 minutes add apple and sultana's



Serve with rice, chutney and papadums

This recipe is adapted from Gourmet Afrika (no it isn't a spelling mistake)

Ingredients

500 grams Beef mince
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder (recipe here)
1 Tablespoons crushed garlic
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato's
1 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
50 grams Sultanas


Method

Saute onion till transparent
Add mince and brown well
Add spices and stir till fragrant
Add tomato paste and can of crushed tomato's
Simmer gently for about 30 minutes
Add apple and sultanas and cook for a further 15 minutes

Serve with rice, chutney, greek yoghurt and papadums

Simple and completely delicious
















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Home made Laundry Liquid

From top left- Lectric Washing Soda (emptied into glass jars for storage), Bare Essentials Borax, Sard Wonder Soap

I have been meaning to making laundry liquid ever since reading about it on one of my favourite Blogs, Down to Earth. I was a bit apprehensive but was willing to give it a go just to see if it worked and worked well enough to satisfy my sparkling clean laundry obsession.
Well, I have to say it was easier than I expected and the results, so far, are great.
Take your time when dissolving the soaps on the stove as you want everything to really dissolve properly.
There will be heaps of Washing Soda and Borax left to make many more batches, you just need to buy another cake of Sard Wondersoap to go with the other ingredients
I use about one quarter to a half a cup of this Laundry Liquid to a load of washing.

So all you need is...

Ingredients

1 cake of Sard Wondersoap (blitzed in the food processor)

1/2 cup of washing soda

1/2 cup of Borax

This amount will make about 10 litres of Laundry Liquid

These items were all found at my local Coles and cost a total of $10.64

Method

To a medium sized saucepan add the following:

Blitzed or grated cake of Sard Wondersoap

1/2 cup Washing Soda

1/2 cup of Borax

1 1/2 cups of water

Put the saucepan on the medium heat and stir till completely dissolved, remember, take your time

Remove the saucepan from the heat and take it outside

Get a 10 litre bucket and measure in 8 litres of water

Add the hot soapy mixture and stir well

Syphon/pour into empty containers for storage

It will thicken when cooled down

It will also separate so always give your Home Made Laundry Liquid a good shake before using

If you know you have a tricky stain, I would pre treat it or add some Napisan Oxy Action to the load

This makes a very economical Laundry Liquid and it makes your clothes smell like the washing I remember as a child. There were no fancy ingredients or perfumes put in Laundry Liquid back then, I guess. It plain and simple and it works. Give it go, you have nothing to lose!

So tell me, what other household cleaners have you made yourself, at home?

Thanks for reading and have a great day.









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Mums Lemon or Lime Butter

Fruit butters are delicious and easy to make. My mum used to make her lemon butter in a
glass double boiler, (Mum was a wonderful cook and did everything by the book) and I thought that was the only way to make it properly. Enter my Husbands Nana who taught me this method. As long as you stay with it and keep stirring on a lowish heat, it won't catch. This batch of fruit butter was a combination of 8 juices limes I had in the freezer (clearing out that freezer) and 4 lemons from our tree. 

It is so lovely just on fresh bread or on a Pavlova with passionfruit or mixed with whipped cream and put between puff pastry rectangles. Mum used to make little sweet pastry cups and fill them with the lemon butter and whipped cream. Oh so posh!

Ingredients 


For every 2 lemons, limes (juice of 2 and rind of 1) or for every 4-6 passionfruit-depending on size

You use 2 eggs

1 cup sugar

40 grams of butter

Method


Combine all of the ingredients in a large saucepan, stir on medium heat until butter is melted and there are no flecks of unbeaten egg white or yolk

Continue stirring, using a whisk, on low heat until it starts to thicken

Once thickened up and no longer tastes eggy, pour into sterilised jars, put on lid securely and turn upside down

Once cooled completely turn jars right way up and store in the fridge

The turning upside down and then right way up "sucks in" the lid giving it a really good seal

Ingredients for Lemon and Lime Butter
Butter, Eggs, Lemon and Lime juice, Lemon and Lime rind

Adding the Sugar
All ingredients starting to incorporate
Just about ready, just keep whisking
Lemon and Lime Butter
As you fill the sterilised jars, put lid on and turn upside down for the good seal


So, tell me how do you use up excess lemons or limes?

Thanks for reading and have a great day.


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