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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Another market special, this time it is massive chicken breasts. More like pterodactyl, in my opinion, these things are huge!

There are always lots of chives in the garden; they are flowering now, so pretty. I had some ricotta in the freezer, some parmesan in the fridge and I had collared a small packet of prosciutto the day before at the market so the following recipe was born.

Served with hasselback potatoes and broccoli, this was a pretty tasty meal.

Cheese & Chive Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 4

2/3 cup ricotta
3 Tbls parmesan
1/4 cup fresh chives
4 chicken breasts
4 slices prosciutto

Preheat oven to 180C.
Place ricotta, parmesan and chives in bowl and mix well. Season to taste.
Make a pocket in chicken breasts. Fill with cheese mix.
Roll each breast in a prosciutto slice.
Place into oven.
Cook for 30 – 35 mins or until cooked through.


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Pork Belly Chinese

I do eat things other than pork but looking at the blog lately, you would be wondering. This was actually a dish that I made some weeks ago; I have just been incredibly unmotivated to do the actual work necessary to post it (how lazy can I be?)

Anyway, pork belly slices were on special when I went into the store, coincidentally I now have a freezer full of them.

Pork Belly Chinese

8x Pork belly slices – about 2 per person
2 to 3 tsps Chinese five spice
1 to 2 tsps depending on taste Chilli flakes
2 cloves Garlic
3 Tbls Soy sauce
3 Tbls Honey

Place the pork belly in the baking tray and season with the five spice and chilli flakes.
Add the garlic, soy and honey and make sure the meat is well coated in the mixture.
Cover with tin foil and leave to marinade for as long as you can.
Cook in a preheated oven at 160C for 1-1½ hours. Turn occasionally if you want.
Turn the oven up to 210°C
Remove the tin foil and drizzle with another tablespoon of honey if you want them extra sticky.
Return to the oven for another 20-30 minutes.


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Leftover inspired Soup

Chinese Pork, the day after…
So what do you do when you have a good chunk of Chinese Pork leftover in the fridge? Of course you make an Asian inspired soup from it and anything else you have lying around that seems to fit.

So, as this was completely made up as I went along there is no real recipe to share. However I will do my best to remember what I did.

I had two chicken carcasses, with stuffing intact from shop bought BBQ chickens in the freezer, so those went into a big pot of water. After boiling for a good long time I strained all the solids out of the broth and put the broth back on the stove.

A packet of dried Chinese mushrooms was lurking in a box at the top of the pantry so they went in also. A good bunch of silver beet from the garden was washed, chopped roughly and added. The Chinese roast pork was sliced thinly and added also.

Once the mushrooms were tender I added a block of frozen udon noodles to the pot and tasted the results. A blob of oyster sauce, a splash of fish sauce and things seemed to taste just right.

Served up in a nice deep bowl with all the utensils needed (I use a fork and a spoon, I am hopeless at chop sticks) plonked on the couch with an episode of Bizarre Foods to entertain me while I ate. Best leftovers ever!

 


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Chinese BBQ Pork

What does my brain immediately dream up when I see pork fillets displayed in the meat section of my local grocery shop? Chinese BBQ pork that is what! I saw these two fillets for sale and that was my first and only thought, this would be a plan that would NOT be waivered from.

So pork in hand I began preparations. I marinated the pork overnight, just to get that flavour and the redness into the pork (the flavour is great but I wanted that red ‘take away Chinese’ visual component also)

This was cooked in our hooded BBQ outside and aside from the whole thing catching alight in the process, it cooked beautifully. Bit of a fat fire in the bottom of the BBQ, nothing to really worry about although it did give me a few anxious moments hoping that my carefully prepared meal wasn’t going to end up as charcoal.

Chinese Barbeque Pork

1 kg pork fillet
Marinade
2 star anise, crushed
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1½ teaspoon dry sherry
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
1 large clove garlic
1½ teaspoons red food colouring

For the marinade, combine all ingredients together and mix well.
Pour over pork, cover and refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally if possible.
Barbeque pork, brushing with marinade, for around 15 minutes.

1 tablespoon of Chinese five spice powder can be substituted for the star anise.

I also put the marinade on the stove and reduced it, stirring in a few chopped green onions while the pork was cooking. We poured this over the pork and rice when we served it up.


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Going Nuts, in the best way possible

I love nuts. Although this looks like primarily peanuts (which it is) there were quite a few oddments included, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds to name a few. I had a few bags of nuts in the cupboard, bits of leftover this and that from various recipes that called for them, and I had a craving for something sweet and spicy to make them just a bit more interesting than a bag of nuts is wont to be. I did some digging and came up with this. I think it could have used a little more spice personally; it had a tiny zing of heat but needed a bit more of a kick to be truly satisfying. Maybe a little lemon juice or cider vinegar for an acidic touch or maybe a little fish sauce for a bit if an Asian bent, if you like that kind of thing, or even cinnamon if you are into that sweet Christmasy touch. It was a good starting point anyway and I ate the whole lot over a stretch of about 3 days.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

4 cups of untoasted nuts (whatever varieties appeal to you, or you have handy)
1 tsp salt (I used a little less as some of my nuts were already salted)
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup water
1 Tbls butter

Preheat oven to 175 C. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. (This might be a good idea, I did mine on the trays and they stuck like limpets)
Combine nuts in a large bowl. Add salt, black pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper; toss to coat.
Heat sugar, water, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.
Cook for 1 minute and remove from heat. Slowly pour butter mixture over the bowl of nuts and stir to coat.
Transfer nuts to the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
Bake nuts in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Stir nuts until the warm syrup coats every nut. Spread into a single layer, return to the oven, and bake until nuts are sticky and roasted, about 6 minutes.
Allow to cool before serving. (This IS a good idea, these things are blisteringly hot when straight out of the oven as the scorch marks on my fingers and tongue prove quite conclusively)


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Flanders Poppies

My poppies have bloomed. They were out in time for Remembrance Day which was nice. They have had so many flowers and each one has been a glory in red and black, silky and spectacular in isolation and astonishing and beautiful on mass.

I hope they produce a good crop of viable seed because I intend to scatter them around the entire front yard next year. They have provided me with a bright cheery aspect from the pots outside my kitchen window this season, making the task of making a cup of tea into a visit to a world class gallery. Going out to tend to the needs of the garden has seldom been more inviting and peeking through the delicate lacy leaves of the poppies are my first little green strawberries almost ready to put on a pink blush of their own.

All too soon this warm weather with its cool evenings will be replaced by the burning slog of summer when just keeping the garden alive is a constant struggle but the spring, despite the pollen and the itchy noses, is truly something to enjoy and appreciate.


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One foot in front of the other

So I watch a lot of crime shows, not the series, the real life ones, I like them, goodness knows why. The point being that, inevitably, if you watch these shows long enough you will see a few that involve people with mental illness issues that stop taking their medication and get themselves into situations that may not have arisen otherwise. I have always wondered why? Why? When life is so difficult to cope with without the medication, why would you stop taking them? Particularly when most of these people are not just burdened with depression, some of them have more serious mental issues like Bipolar disorder or Schizophrenia. Well, lately I have determined an answer to this question. Side effects, my tablets have had an effect on me that can be a little irritating and hard to deal with at times.

They make me a procrastinator; in fact they make me as scatty as a cat in a sack full of feathers. I am a naturally lazy person who doesn’t like to do much more than I really have too to get by but on these tablets, anything that isn’t a computer game seems to be just a bit too much effort to bother with. My writing, yes I know I haven’t posted in an age, is just too bothersome. I haven’t baked anything in ages either and have no real interest in doing so. Pictures of things I have cooked are languishing on my phone and mocking me every time I pick it up to make a call. Don’t get me started on the battle to avoid YouTube and actually do some work during the day. Focussing on things is a lot more diffic – Oooo look something shiny!

All this sounds terrible but I actually feel so much better in myself. The frustration with my total lack of motivation to do anything constructive is a drop in the ocean when compared to the way I felt before my tablets. I still manage to function, it just takes way more effort than it should but at least it doesn’t reduce me to tears like it would have months ago. I haven’t had a migraine in 3 months, comparing that to 4 to 5 a month, migraines that lasted 3 – 4 days each, life is bliss!

So at this juncture I will stick with my tablets. I will mention my issues to my doctor and see if she recommends any changes. Although I can understand the frustration that can lead people to give up their medication (and there are some side effects that are a whole lot worse than what I am dealing with) I understand that it is going to be more beneficial for me to make any changes necessary under my doctors supervision, after all that is why she has the PHD and I the best I have is Google.