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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Bread

I wanted something tasty and warming for lunch with my sister. Both of us normally avoid bread but I felt like something a bit different and if you can’t treat yourself when you have guests, when can you? Aside from that I always feel like treats shared are not as bad for you as treats horded, amazing how your brain can justify anything…

Anyway as it was lunch and not a side I used a large rye loaf instead of a French loaf. Frankly I think a French loaf would be easier to deal with, it is smaller to would be easier to both cut and eat, the rye loaf tasted amazing though and I think the messiness kind of added to the charm. I like finger foods.
Also I wasn’t very confident that I could slice a French loaf into 3 layers successfully as I am a bit of a klutz.
The cumin really added something special here and as always I substituted the cilantro/coriander as I just cannot like it no matter how often I try.

Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Bread

1 loaf  of French bread (I used a much larger and more robust rye loaf)
1 cup  shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup  mayonnaise or salad dressing (I used mayo)
1/4 cup  roasted red bell peppers well drained, finely chopped
1 tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro (I dislike coriander and so used parsley)
1/2 teaspoon  ground cumin
1 small  onion

Heat oven to 200C.
Cut bread loaf horizontally into 3 layers. Mix remaining ingredients.
Spread half of the cheese mixture over bottom layer. Top with second layer;
spread with remaining cheese mixture.
Top with third layer; press firmly.
Wrap loaf securely in heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until hot. Serve warm.


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Banana smoothie

Recently it has all been about using up old bananas. There are always old bananas in my fridge. I honestly don’t know where they come from, I think they might be breeding in the back of the vegetable bin or reproducing on the top shelf behind all the condiments. Either way, there are always a few to deal with and after cakes and muffins I was getting a little bored with cakey ways of dealing with them so was born my breakfast for a few days last week. Most days I have a big bowl of sliced bananas and grapes around the mid-morning mark. Faced with yet more old bananas and a distinct lack of young ones I decided to pull out the trusty old blender and wiz what I could find into a breakfast smoothie.

So simple but very quick, tasty and satisfying.

Banana smoothie

3 old bananas, peeled
1 Tbls honey
1 cup milk (I use hilo, a kind of skim milk but feel free to use what suits you)
a sprinkle of Nutmeg

Bung it all in the blender and wiz it up until smooth. Drink straight away.
I suggest adding the honey last else it can stick to the bottom and stubbornly refuse to blend.

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Hot Broccoli Dip

I am not a good photographer by any stretch of the imagination. This issue is compounded with this recipe because hot dip, in my opinion, is the most un-photogenic food in the world. Despite this I have included this photo because the resulting mess was really delicious and even my vegetable hating husband got tucked into it (there is no better way to promote a vegetable dip than saying ‘my husband ate it’).

I imagine this would have to be one of the most unhealthy ways to include a vegetable in your diet but I choose to rather look at the positive, at least he ate a vegetable today…

Hot Broccoli Dip

1 cup fresh broccoli florets, chopped (I just used a whole head)
2 Tblsp onion, chopped
2 Tblsp red bell, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (of course, I used Greek yoghurt, hence the grainy looking texture)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.
Chop broccoli, onion, and bell pepper; place in a mixing bowl.
Reserve 2 Tblsp of the parmesan cheese and add the rest plus remaining ingredients
to vegetables and mix well.
Spoon into a small baking dish and bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through.
Sprinkle remaining 2 Tblsp parmesan cheese over top and serve with crackers, French bread or pita chips.

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Coffee Parfait

Creamy and deeply coffee flavoured, this dessert was just what the doctor ordered. A heavy jolt of caffeine disguised as a fancy dessert. Of course you could dress this up with extra cream, crumbled meringue, grated chocolate or strawberries but it was made for an informal occasion just because I felt like making a dessert so we ate it just as it was. I could have eaten a bucket load of this, of course this would have been very bad for me so thankfully my sister came for lunch so I was able (read: forced) to share.

Coffee Parfait

2 tablespoons freeze dried coffee granules
2 tablespoons Raw Sugar
1 tablespoon Boiling water
1 tablespoon Brandy (I used a good whiskey)
300 ml Prepared vanilla custard
300 ml cream
6 maraschino cherries (I hate these things, but feel free if you are a fan)

Dissolve coffee and raw sugar in the boiling water.
Combine coffee mixture, brandy and custard in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff. Lightly stir cream into coffee / custard mixture.
Divide mixture between 6 Parfait glasses and refrigerate until required.
Decorate with maraschino cherries.

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Things that occupy my time

I realised the other day that when it comes to sweet treats, Australians are oddly specific, more than any other country I have had any experience with. Having a South African husband (yes my test group consists of one person, that’s what makes this such an accurate scientific study) I can attest that collectively sweet treats from the service station or store are called sweets. In America I believe they are called candy bars and candy. My Nan (who is English) calls everything sweets also. In Australia we have chocky bars (because to call them chocolate bars would be too long winded and time consuming) interestingly anything in a bar shape falls under this category regardless of the chocolate content. We also have chocolate (not in a bar shape, in a block instead) and lollies, none of these are interchangeable. Of course there are some things that don’t even fall under these main categories, like fudge or liquorice for instance.

Interestingly (or not) it is exactly the opposite with potato chips, hot (fish and chips kind) are called chips, potato chips in a bag from the supermarket shelf are also chips. Funnily enough, the skinny fries from a burger joint are still generically called chips even though they are clearly barely related to a good, properly cooked, thick cut chip. They are more like a bagged chip that has been on a terrible diet and then got shredded (I am not a huge fan, can you tell?).

I also find interesting the different names for things internally in Australia and then there is the absolute fascination that I have for the different names for things (particularly food, I am a little obsessive about food) between countries. One of my other favourite activities is to watch YouTube videos of people eating things from different countries, or trying their own cuisine cooked by a chain store in another country (always amusing).

Anyway this has been a public service announcement just to make it clear that these are the scintillating things that occupy my time. Forewarned is forearmed, so the saying goes, so if you chose to continue to read the ramblings that I offer, you do so at your own risk.


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Simple Sausage Rolls

To rescue this blog from becoming a primarily political rant I shall now post a recipe that I made on Friday evening. This ended up becoming Friday night dinner and the rest were polished off on Saturday, a testament to the fact that they were delicious.

Measurements are kind of sketchy as I sort of threw in whatever I found in the pantry at first glance. Primarily the flavouring was thyme from the garden as I have loads of it at the moment.

Simple Sausage Rolls

1kg beef sausage mince
Full handful of fresh thyme removed from stems
1 Tbls BBQ spice (I had an old container of this in the cupboard and just tossed it in as an afterthought, it gave them a nice smokiness)
1 cup bread crumbs
4x sheets of store bought puff pastry
1 egg, beaten to make a wash

Mix together first 4 ingredients thoroughly (use your hands but try to let the sausage mince come to room temperature first else it can be painfully cold).
Cut each pastry sheet into two pieces.
Lay the sausage mince in a tubular shape down one edge of the pastry, leaving a gap of about 2 cm.
Egg wash down this side and then roll the pastry over the mince, creating your sausage roll and using the egg wash to stick the ends. Place seam down on a baking tray.
Repeat until all pastry and mince is used.
Egg wash over each sausage roll and bake in a 180C oven until golden brown.
Try to avoid eating for 5 mins or so, you will burn your mouth but it is almost worth it!

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What are they thinking?

Australian politicians are out doing themselves this week. Now one of our senators is backing a proposal to implement nuclear power in South Australia. This, in the land of perpetual sunshine and longest coastlines (read: solar and/or wind farms) in the world, is his big plan to eliminate power costs and make his state tax free.

I wonder who is signing his pay cheques?

Better yet he is backing a plan to take the nuclear waste from the rest of the world and store it in Australia. Wow I can’t see how this would be a bad plan. Admittedly the middle of the country is virtually desert and there is not much going on there considering it is 40+ Celsius most of the time and there is no water readily available so I suppose you could store potentially deadly substances out there and, hopefully, not contaminate the whole country and make it totally unliveable but you could also fill it full of solar panels if it came down to it. To me the idea that people would ship this stuff overseas and land it in a port in Australia, transport it through towns and cities to dump in a storage facility that might prevent it from leaking out and killing us all seems fraught with unnecessary risk.

Our esteemed Prime Minister (you know, the one that doesn’t believe in climate change because he can’t see it) thinks this is a fabulous idea, who would have guessed.

Apparently this whole plan is worth any inherent risks because it will enable South Australia to have ‘Free power, no payroll tax and no motor vehicle tax’. This of course is modelled on all of the other countries in the world that have eliminated taxes since introducing nuclear power. I guess there have not been enough catastrophic nuclear disasters in the world to convince these high thinking individuals that bringing the possibility into our own back yard is a bad idea. Admittedly there haven’t been that many but considering the scope of the damage wrought by the few disasters on record, I for one am not excited about taking the risk when there are other options available.

Simplified to its most basic principles a leaking nuclear facility means disaster, an overloaded solar power plant means a sunny day.