Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Suzi Style Recipes - Rocky Road and Honeycomb

Ok Christmas treats were all dished out with great feedback! Well, for the Rocky Road anyway!

So here are the recipes:

Suzi Style Rocky Road - you know me, can't do anything without stuffing something healthy in there! All measurements are "-ish" add more or less, whatever you like.

2 x 375g packets of Nestle cooking chocolate Melts (I did one batch white and one batch milk)
1 cup whole dried cranberries (I got mine from Thomas Dux as they looked nice and plump)
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup whole raw cashews
1/2 cup cacao nibs ("raw cocoa is full of antioxidants that rival super foods like blueberries, and many antioxidant rich teas the cacao nib is also rich in good fat and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron and potassium.")
Marshmallows - this was a bit of a blur.. it may have been 500g packet per batch... so just chuck a load in and see what you think..

I simply melted the chocolate in the microwave for a min. combined all other ingredients in well and then plopped it into a lamington tray (40x30cm -ish) that was lined with baking paper and buttered.

Cover with plastic wrap ( I have to use foil so the kids don't see it) and hey presto! Cut into half then in strips.

Now you know when something turns out so well it's braggable!?! Well my first batch was.. then we had a couple of really humid days and it went chewy on the outside.. but still Yummo!

Here's my secret - GELATINE and the microwave:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup syrup (I used golden syrup but can be corn syrup, maple etc)
1 tablespoon white vinegar.

Stick those three in a pyrex dish and stick in the microwave for 6 1/2 mins on high, then wait until it's slowed down bubbling a bit before you take it out.

Then add a 1/4 tsp of gelatine that was "blooming" in a tsp of water - stir stir stir!!! (will start doing the bubble up thing here.)

Then quickly add 1 pre-sifted Tablespoon of baking soda - madly stir! stir! stir! (volcanic action here)
Then when it looks all mixed and is huge and foaming, tip it into a lined and super buttered baking tin (butter all the way to the top of the paper). NOT a tray but a cake tin. I used the smallest one I have about 20cms across. This way it's a high chunk and the gelatine makes better air holes throughout.

It'll take an hour or two to dry out, then cut/smash/splinter up, pack and store in air tight container. If you leave it to the air it will go sticky and chewy then eventually dissolve.

UPDATE: the Sauerkraut is great! I'm really surprised I managed to pull it off. It has a few more days to go but we've had really warm weather so I'm tempted to jar it up now and refrigerate... we'll see.

Other treats I made this year are:
Mulberry jam (to clear the freezer to make way for ham mainly!)
Fermented mustard (coriander, garlic and honey mustard)... it's... an acquired taste :o)
Honey almonds with a cayenne kick

My fav gifts received this year:
* A basket of home grown carrots, parsnips, onions (with decorations and chocs) from my kindred spirit American friend Heather
* A gift bag full of mini jam jars with home made jams - ok one or two jams is impressive but four!?! Plus they're all interesting; passionfruit and peach, kiwi and orange marmalade, wine jelly and choc hazelnut spread. Plus chocs, from my very soft hearted friend Kay (she made them for all the oldies she looks after, and seriously doesn't have the time!).
* A dwarf Meyer lemon tree from my husband (and tea pot with mesh strainer inside for my new herbal tea fetish - rooibos chai is my fav at the moment)

And for next year?.. I'll remember to get more sleep, wrap early and buy food for boxing day! - what a mistake to make ;o\  Maybe some mini gingerbread houses to give away.. or I might go back to the easy peasy chocolate candycane fudge... Oh gimme a break! I'll start thinking about that in June :o) haha!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas lights..

Last night we went to the Temple lights about 20mins away. The lights were already on and the boys loved running down the bush lined paths to be in the middle of it all.
 On the life size Nativity the boys seemed to like Herod and the soldier the best. I think the armour had a bit to do with that! They're doing their mean king faces.
 They liked the Shepherds too ..

  And "ooh"-ed and "aaah"-ed over baby Jesus and ran past the wise men.. they do take ages to get anywhere!

DS2 enjoyed the art exhibition and I'm sure would have learned alot if it wasn't for DS1 saying "come oooon!" the whole time. We gave the missionaries there a bag of 'white Christmas' we'd made (the white chocolate version not that skanky copha and milk powder blerugh!) and off to see the lights again.
My pics of the lights weren't great so you'll just have to go and see them yourself if you're in and around Sydney.

On the way home we visited  a street famous for it's Christmas lights - OH MY! They were crazy spectacular for house lights!

off to bed. Christmas is tiring.. and very very enjoyable. It was nice to see the big Nativity, our teddy Nativity at home is a bit slack in the acting department and they keep falling about the place with giggles. Messy toys they are!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fermented foods..

I'm making Sauerkraut 
Here's a quick rundown of what I did. There's so many ways, so this is Suzi style.

1. I got 1.5 ORGANIC cabbages, 3 organic carrots and a red onion (any pesticide/fungicide will prevent fermentation)

2. Chopped it up finely, salted it (use Maldon, Himalaya or any salt that hasn't been processed or iodised) and then I left it covered overnight to wilt.

3. Then I stuck it in my food grade plastic tub and smooshed and bashed  the heck out of it with my masher and rolling pin end until the natural water content was released.
4. This is when you add flavour if you like (see Polish lady links below), but I didn't have anything interesting on hand.

5.After layering with herbs/mixing in dry spice, it needs to be weighed down. I placed a plate over the top to keep the cabbage from rising. I used zip lock bags filled with water to weigh it down. It's nice as you can see what it's doing through the bag.

6.  Cover with cling/plastic wrap, gently place lid ontop and leave in your kitchen for 3 days. Then move it to a cooler place (but not the garage, you don't want to the process to slow too much) for about 3 weeks checking daily.
                  (mine's orange because of the carrots. I'll try purple cabbage and beetroot next time)

There is so much anecdotal evidence about fermented food that I'm not sure what to think. I like and agree with some of the information.. but find a niggle in my mind about the lack of evidence either way.

I just pick at what I feel like doing and if it makes me feel good, then that's great! You'll hear about it :o)

                                                                                                                                             ( pic milk and water Kefir "grains")
Dom, (click here for his site)and has started a big come back (from the traditional cultural use) of Kefir, shows the breakdown of micro-organisms found in milk Kefir. I'm sure you'll gasp when you see some of the bad names in there. They seem to have a use though at keeping the others in check and are generally regarded as safe. Interesting reading...

Milk Kefir tastes like a cross between cream cheese and plain yoghurt.. hard to drink a glass of that a day. Water Kefir you can flavour with fruit like the original fizzy drinks. Ginger would be great!!

BUT Kefir is a bit high maintenance for me. A bit like sourdough. I love sourdough bread and I can FEEL that it's low GI. It's an alkaline food which helps prevent inflammatory conditions but you have to feed it all the time. Thank heaven for freezers! (baby jabba is sleeping there right now - he may be dead... )
So anyway I watched this Polish lady who makes the traditional recipe for Saxon Sauerkraut. She's great to watch and I love it when she sticks her feet in!

Then went to this site for the recipe I used as I was sure it would be fail safe. She talks a lot but it's all interesting. I'd like to see lab results though.. as the proof seeker I am, how does she know it takes 3-4 weeks to get "Tri-i-llions of lacto-bacillus" ??

So! What's your fermented favourite?

 There's a huge amount of them out there, naturally fermented soy sauce for one, homemade kimchi (at any good Korean eatery, sauerkraut (NOT the one in the jar with vinegar), Kombucha, Sourdough bread (stone ground please)... and the list goes on...EDITED TO ADD: Chocolate!! Hello!! Cacao pods are opened, fermented and then the cocoa butter (cream colour and a good fat) is separated from the brown solids that we use as powder.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas prep

This year I've been following the  Household Management 101 programm for a stress free Christmas.. when I say following I mean reading and picking out the odd thing to do.

I read back on the tasks today and I'm happy to say I've done alot of them already! Well, the silly things like "put up the decorations".. no brainer. I'm always pretty organised for Christmas. I'm a forward planner so start my ideas off in June!  We moved house this year though, so it's slowed me down a little.

Happy to say the overseas presents have been posted, cards being written today and an extra special gift of home made decorations made by me and the boys going out too. We did them ages ago and just varnished and re-glittered them yesterday. Here's hoping they make the trip in tact.

A couple of years ago I made Mamma Karries which were an absolute HIT! Flip, they take an age to make though. Lots of fun if I have a whole day to myself.

 I made them with hazelnuts which was perfect but larger nuts would be easier and faster.

Which leads me to this year's list of Christmas treats... a bit of a quandary since I don't have an extra freezer to make and pack them into, like gingerbread dough, peppermint candycane fudge, choco biccy balls ( you know the ones with swt cond milk and coconut right?)... so I'm having to re-think.

I'll still do the spiced honey almonds... mmm.. maybe some home made herbal tea? We'll see.. Maybe our new honey man will deliver the honey comb in time! ... Probably not with all this rain. Grow some chest hair and get a mack on MAN! No seriously, the flowers keep getting knocked off in the rain. No flowers, no honey.


Whoopie Pies are FINALLY hitting the stores.
Possibly even replacing cupcakes - or an equal competitor at least. Hooray for stupid cupcakes moving over! Why do I think they're stupid? Probably because I don't have the time or inclination to stand there for an age doing individual decoration, piping and cutesie-fying just to impress. That's fine and wonderful if you want to and yes I do think they're nice to look at but think it's a little pointless all the same.
Don't you think Woopie's just make sense!?  Icing in the middle. No icing overdose in the first bite or disappointing dryness at the end.
Thank - you Amish folk for sharing another corker with us :o)

I haven't even started on my current rant about fermented foods.... do they have to be so yuck?! Sauerkraut's on the go. Kefir's in the too hard for now basket.