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Carrot, Lentil and Coriander Soup

Thursday, 31 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

Last Sunday, I went up to Coles to buy just 4 carrots for my Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon, I walked up to my local Coles, took one of my trusty mesh bags and went to buy what I needed. What I found was unexpected and also a bit of a quandary. There, for the taking was a huge 2 kg bag of "Juicing Carrots" reduced to $1.75. Do I buy the big bag of carrots, which of course are so much better value for money or do I do the right thing, by my anti-plastic bag activism and pop just 4 carrots in my mesh bag? I actually walked away from the big bag and put 4 medium sized carrots in my well used mesh produce bag and then...I turned around and said to myself...I will not pay more for less! Sometimes the budget wins! That plastic produce bag has already been returned for (hopefully) recycling by Coles and the Redcycle Company.

So, that is how I ended up with a 2 kg bag of lovely sweet carrots. I thought about making this lovely Carrot and Coriander Soup but I had a hankering for something with a bit of heat, and as my slow cooker was already busy with this, I googled a carrot soup recipe for my Thermomix. I did find one, but as usual I tinkered with it to suit my tastes and here is what I came up with. I also doubled the recipe but cooked two seperate quantities of soup, as the double quantity would have been too much for the Thermomix bowl. You could easily halve this recipe.

Ingredients for Carrot, Lentil and Coriander Soup, clockwise from top right-
1.2 litres of Chicken Stock (I use Massel stock cubes) 2 good sized knobs of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped, a good handful of coriander (I grown Sawtooth Coriander) 8 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped, 1 can coconut milk, 100 grams red lentils, 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) dried chilli flakes

In the bowl of the TM, add the ginger and red lentils and blitz for 30 seconds on speed 9

Now add the chopped carrots and blitz for 5 seconds on speed 7

Remove half the carrot, lentil and ginger mixture 

Add 1/2 the chicken stock and 1/2 the can of coconut milk, cook for 20 minutes at 100 C on speed 1

Add the roughly chopped coriander and blitz for 1 minute slowly increasing the speed to 10 

Or until smooth and silky. Remove soup to a large bowl or saucepan and cook the reserved other half quantity 

This soup is sweet and spicy and is quite thick and hearty

Over to you, what wins when you shop, price or the environment?

Have a lovely day?

One Year Ago-Bee Gees Way

Slow Cooked Beef Bourguignon

Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

And welcome to the first slow cooker meal of the season. I love my slow cooker with all my heart, I would have to say it is my most favourite kitchen appliance and is very well used over the cooler months. I love its ability to make wonderful tender meat and to make flavourful sauces. Todays recipes get a big helping hand from red wine and cognac, it makes the sauce in this Beef Bourguignon simply amazing, add some carrots for sweetness, mushrooms for a deep earthiness and I think you have a sensational dinner. I have also added potatoes, not traditional at all, but it does make a complete meal of it and the potatoes act like little sponges to absorb all of that incredible flavour. 

I have converted and tweaked the original recipe to a slow cooker version, from the book "Mastering The Art Of French Cooking" by Julia Childs, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, my darling kids gave me this cook books years ago, after the movie "Julie and Julia" came out. I was totally hooked. I took these cook books to bed for months, reading them from cover to cover. They are so in-depth with wonderful directions and illustrations. 

I do go to the bother of sautéing the garlic and onion and also browning the meat, for the slow cooking process. I think it amps up the flavour exponentially and nothing gives more flavour than golden brown, seared meat. Julia Childs' hot tip, that will make all the difference is to dry the meat before searing in the hot pan, your meat simply will not brown if it is wet. I use a couple of pieces of paper towel to blot the meat as I put them in the frypan.

Ingredients for Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon, clockwise from top right-
2 cups each of beef stock and red wine, 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, 800 grams of beef (chuck or shin is best) cut into 3 cm squarish chunks, 2 tablespoons plain flour, 1/2 cup cognac or brandy (easily omitted), 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into smallish chunks, 450 grams small unpeeled potatoes, 500 grams sliced mushrooms of choice (I used the 2 packs of sliced mushroom that were reduced last Thursday, as were the potatoes), 1 onion, finely chopped and 4 cloves garlic, chopped (sorry they didn't make it into the photo) and a good grind of salt and pepper

Sauté the onion and garlic till transparent then transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker

Prepare the other veg, cutting the potatoes into similar size as the carrots

Add a good slosh of oil to the pan and brown the meat in batches, getting a deep golden colour on both sides, transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker along with the above veg and mushrooms

Turn heat to medium low, now add the flour to the same frypan and cook out for a minute absorbing any residue from the meat

Slightly warm the cognac and red wine and add to the flour in the frypan, whisking the whole time and bring to a gentle simmer. If you add cold liquid to flour it will go lumpy

Now add the tomato paste 

And bring to a gentle boil, whisking till thickened slightly 

Pour over red wine sauce and add the dried thyme, give everything a really thorough mix. At this stage there may look like there is not enough sauce, but something magical happens in a slow cooker and it produces enough sauce to generously cover everything by the end of the cooking time. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8

Finish with chopped parsley 

A warming winter dish with miles of flavour

You could easily omit the cognac/brandy, I don't normally keep it in the house, but I had bought a small bottle from the Remy Martin Cognac House on my recent overseas holiday. It really does impart a wonderful flavour. 

Make it this weekend, you'll be so glad you did.

Have a lovely day,


My Favourite Muesli (Updated)

Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

I have been making Muesli for many years, ever since staying at Camp Eden for a week with my sister in 2011. It is a health retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland. While we were away on Norfolk Island for the Ballroom Dancing Week that year, we saw a fantastic special on "Getaway" for a buy one get one free, so that is what we did. As you can imagine the food was very healthy but super tasty at the same time. This Muesli was an outstanding part of breakfast every morning and as part of the week we participated in a few cooking lessons and making your own Muesli was part of it.

Until this point I had never thought of making my own Muesli, now I can't go without it. I start every work day with a bowl of Muesli and a bowl of fruit and yoghurt, it keeps me going until morning tea. I have just recently tweaked the original recipe to include sesame seeds and salted peanuts, wow what a difference those two ingredients make, it is even more delicious now.

Ingredients for My Favourite Muesli-4 cups rolled oats (I buy Coles own brand) 1/2 cup each of Almonds, Walnuts, Macadamias, Sesame Seeds, Salted Peanuts and Honey

Mix everything together until honey is coating everything

Scrape into a lined, high sided, baking tray and roast at 165C for 40 to 50 minutes, giving it a thorough turn and mix every 7 to 10 minutes, so it is evenly golden.

Take out of oven once you are happy with the colour, let cool and then pour into a glass jar. For me, a serving size is 1/4 cup, it is so nutritionally dense that you really don't need too much, I top it off with a drizzle of honey and Cocoquench. 

Do you make your own Muesli? What do you add to yours?

Have a lovely day


Quick Asian Omelette

Monday, 28 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

One of my first recipe books I bought was this one-

It was a great book, full of authentic recipes and how-to, step-by-step instructions, it also had a comprehensive pictorial of ingredients and utensils used in Chinese cooking. It helped me a great deal while being introduced to Asian cooking. Lovely Hubbies Gran loved it so much I gave it to her, but alas, it wasn't amongst her recipes books, after she passed away.

There was a quote in the book by the Author, Yan Kit, that went something like "If an unexpected visitor arrives, set an extra pair of chopstick, cook some more rice and make an omelette" I have been making this omelette for years to stretch out a meal to feed either extra people at our table or just because everyone seemed hungrier than usual. I also make it quite often with just one egg for my lunch to have with left over rice and asian greens.

For every egg, add 1 teaspoon each of sesame oil and oyster sauce, whisk well

Add a generous amount of sesame oil to a non stick, heavy based frypan and heat until really hot, add whisked eggs to hot sesame oil. And gently fold in edges (like this method) until eggs are just starting to set, don't overcook it or it will be dry

Transfer to a serving platter and pour over extra oyster sauce and chopped spring onions if you have them

A tasty and simple way to make a meal go further. On this particular night we had a dish we call "Mince and Egg" it is made with only 500 grams of lean beef mince and as our sons lovely partner was with us for dinner, I made this omelette to make that small amount of meat to stretch a bit further.

How do you make your meals go further?

Have a lovely day,

Two Years Ago-My Secret Obsession

Sunny Side Up Sunday

Sunday, 27 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

And welcome to Sunday, it has to be my most favourite day of the week. I often go to our local market to buy berries and tea and if I don't feel like baking bread, I will buy a loaf of Pumpkin Rye Sourdough from the German Bakery. Once home I head out to the garden, to feed, water and turn the compost bin, water the garden and give everything outside a bit of a tidy. Lovely hubby is often by my side doing the heavier work and between the two of us are done by lunch time. Everything then stops for lunch and to watch my two TV shows-Landline and Gardening Australia.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that my Sundays would revolve around these two shows, I would have said "get outta here" "those shows are for old people" well I must be old, because I just love them. I always brew a great cup of de-cafe (from our local coffee roaster-Neli Coffee) while watching gardening Australia, I used to use a double walled stainless steel coffee plunger but while sorting out next door (my late in-laws) I found a beautiful, well used, Italian Coffee Percolator. Well, what can I say, the Italians know how to make a great coffee and to make it even more special, Sharyn my MIL gave it to William, my FIL for their 30th Wedding Anniversary(it has "30 years" engraved on it) It is still going strong. The brand is Miss Lavanza.

After watching these shows, I will usually head into the sewing room to while away the a few hours before taking the dogs for a walk and then getting dinner on and lunch made for the Monday. I try and have a really early night on Sunday nights to be ready for the work week ahead.

So, how is this story related to "Sunny Side Up Sunday" well today, I am grateful for my Sunday's. They may not be too exciting, but they are mine to enjoy and savour.

What will you do today?

One Year Ago-What we bought, spent and ate this week
Two Years Ago-This weeks 5 frugal things on a Friday

What we bought, spent and ate this week

Saturday, 26 May 2018
Hello Dear Reader,

This weeks "What we bought, spent and ate" is a bit different as I don't have any photos of what lovely hubby bought last Friday, but I do have the grocery dockets, also I bought bits and pieces during the week to supplement what he bought to make some dinners. He had bought some beef mince, chicken thigh fillets and some rump for stir fries, but I turned the meat and veggies into something else.

 What we bought
Northside Discount Fruit Barn


Marjax Meats

Extras bought from Coles during the week

This docket is from Thursday when I bought lots of marked down produce, I only went in for eggs!

What we spent 
Northside Discount Fruit Barn-$29.14
Marjax Meats-$28.80

TOTAL-$143.55 plus $140 for dinner out on Saturday night-such a lovely treat
What we ate
Saturday-Lovely Hubby took us out to dinner for our first night back home after being away in Bordeaux. We went to our favourite little Chinese Restaurant and we had-Peking Duck Pancakes to start with

The meat of the Peking Duck was then stir fried with veggies for another dish. We also had Pork in Plum Sauce and Salt and Pepper Squid

Plus Choy Sum

And Sweet Coconut Spring Rolls for dessert. The total for the 5 of us was $140

Sunday-Pan Fried Cod with Roast Potato Salad

Monday-Stir Fried Fish with Choy Sum

Tuesday-Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Curry, I popped all the ingredients in the slow cooker this time, minus the water called for in the recipe and I added the broccolini in the last hour of cooking, it turned out great

Thursday-Mince and Egg

Friday-Beans on Toast with some Parmesan Cheese grated over

Thats a wrap, what was on your family table this week?