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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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Nibbling in the garden

I needed to distress a little today, I was hungry and I’d been particularly busy so I took a break to have a quick lunch/snack and wander through my patch and chat to the plants. I toasted a slice of bread and covered it with a very thin slice of good cheddar cheese, exited the back door and wandered about happily munching. Everything is looking good and, as you can see, the brassicas are growing very nicely considering the lack of direct sunlight at the moment. Something caught my eye and an idea popped into my head, cheese and chives! Clipping a few long leaves off with a fingernail I took a mouthful of toast and cheese and crammed in a half a chive leaf and was very, very pleased with the results. You can probably see, if you look closely enough, that my chives are missing a few leaves that are now residing in my very happy belly.

How nice is it to stand out in the fresh breeze, munching on good cheese and fresh produce, chatting to the plants like you have nowhere else to be? It was a super way to spend a few moments decompressing and just instantly relaxed me, at least enough to get back into the grind without losing my mind.

Working from home requires control and rigorous dedication to a schedule but it rewards me in so many little ways. I am not extraordinarily social so I don’t miss the interaction face to face with people on a daily basis. I get enough social interaction over the phone to keep me sane (more or less), sometimes the phone calls are what drive me a little bonkers.

Being able to step outside into a world of green, which grows because I put the effort into nurturing it, gives me some much needed peace during my work day. I don’t pity people who work in an office, it isn’t what I would choose, given the choice but the social component is very important to some people. I do pity those who are like me and would thrive better in a home environment but are not able to make that choice for themselves.

What with my garden and my negligible fuel consumption I think my situation is both the best thing for my sanity and for the natural environment and I am grateful for the opportunity to work in this way. I am also grateful for the chives and the cheese, what a combination and what an excellent day!


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Simple and satisfying seafood

Husband is away. I take the opportunity to indulge my love of prawns. He loves fish but despises all other things seafood. Luckily my Daughter also enjoys prawns and she chose this combination for dinner last night. I must say it was quick and easy to prepare and a real winning taste combination. The lemon rice is something we have made for years and teamed with almost everything conceivable but it does go best with seafood. The prawns were crisp and succulent and the rice lemony and buttery. I even have left overs for lunch today that I have been fantasising about since about 7am, it is now 9am and am not sure I will be holding out until lunch time.

Simple Garlic Prawns

24 green king prawns (who am I kidding, I used a whole bag of prawn meat and adjusted the rest accordingly)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Peel and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. (if you like that kind of thing, I use already peeled prawn meat)
Combine olive oil and butter in a pan, melting the butter.
Stir in garlic, cook for I minute. (I added a good handful of chives here also)
Stir in prawns. Cook until pink.
Sprinkle with parsley.

 

Lemon Butter Rice

2 Tbls Butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup white Rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
Grated rind of 1 lemon
To make the rice, melt butter, add onion and cook over moderate heat
for about 2 minutes.
Add rice, toss in Margarine and cook for 1 minute. Add stock.
Bring to the boil, stir, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Add lemon rind, fork lightly and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.


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An easy weekend with good wholesome food

It was an easy weekend. All of our house guests disappeared on Friday and the two of us just pottered around the house, tidying and getting silly little things done. I painted the door step, for some reason it was a redy brown kind of colour and frankly most of the paint was gone. I found some paint in the garage, kindly left by the previous owners, so now it matches the walls surrounding it instead of being a faded, scraped up, odd colour that matches nothing. I feel better about it anyway.

Herbs featured big in this weekends menu. I made a tasty potato dish to go with some BBQ lamb chops over the weekend.

8 small potatoes
Good handful of thyme, parsley and chives
Generous knob of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve or quarter the potatoes and boil until soft. Meanwhile chop the herbs finely.
Place drained hot potatoes into a serving dish, toss in butter until melted and add herbs, salt and pepper.
Stir through.

This resulted in green covered potatoes that tasted divine.

The next day I was treated to a fabulous lamb roast that my husband prepared perfectly.
Last night I diced up the left over roast potatoes and lamb, mixed them in with the left over gravy and added a little salt, pepper and thyme. Topping it all off with mashed potatoes mixed with a generous bunch of snipped chives, sprinkled with cheese.

Call it Sheperd’s pie or Cottage pie, in fact call it whatever you like, it was fabulous and will double as lunch today.

By the way, currently in the pepper grinder I have a mixture of black, green and white peppercorns. It is amazing the taste difference to just having black pepper. I love toast with butter, thinly sliced tomato and a little ground pepper and a little ground salt. My go to snack/comfort food anytime of the day. I can really taste the difference in the pepper, I was astonished.


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Passionfruit woes and Strawberry plants

My passionfruit just isn’t performing. As I have mentioned, I have only been here a few months and the passionfruit was a pre-existing plant. It was growing in the moonscape, heaven knows how it survived. It is terribly grateful for the water and fertilizer it has been blessed with since I moved in and has rewarded me with a massive crop of flowers. Unfortunately the flowers have withered and dropped and there is no fruit to be seen. I have read all the books, been online, done everything I can think of, including climbing the wall and pollinating the flowers with a paintbrush, individually, like a good little bee but still nothing. The vine is strong and healthy (now) so all I can hope is that next season will be better. Maybe after the stress of its prior living conditions, it is just not able to bear fruit this year. I’ll give it another year and then threaten it with an axe, see if that scares it into fruiting.

In other garden news

It is a little early to be putting in strawberry plants here but I just had a bee in my bonnet about it and couldn’t wait, so here are my latest additions to our garden.
Each pot has 2 strawberry plants and 2 Flanders poppies. Fingers crossed they make good companions; I thought that visually they would make a nice match anyway. I wanted some flowering plants to encourage insect activity and I don’t think there is anything prettier than poppies. Anyway we will see if it is a winning combination later in the season. I ended up with 16 strawberry plants which was 6 more than I had planned for so there are various other pots dotted around the place where I had to fit them in.

Nothing much in the way of production in the garden this week, things are growing but not harvest ready yet. Of course that is not counting the herbs which just couldn’t grow any faster or lusher if they tried. My thyme is cascading down the wall from its perch above the garden and the chives are fat and strong. The mystery chillis seem to be tabasco like from what I can determine. I don’t have much chilli experience but that is what they look most like. There are dozens of little chillis coming on so I am looking forward to experimenting with them later on.

The snails are busy at night, grazing on the thyme but they are not very clever so a quick nose around in the mornings usually reveals their hiding place and they take a quick trip under a brick to atone for their sins shortly thereafter.
The parsley is a true harvest and regrow plant in our veggie patch right now. I harvest bundles of it to freeze or to sprinkle into and over everything. Next time I look it is looking frilly and full grown once again.

All in all the garden is still providing me with a harvest to increase the pleasure of just being out there amongst the plants. The passionfruit and I may not see eye to eye right at the moment but I will continue to speak nicely to it, at least for the rest of this season. I will just have to make sure to put the axe somewhere nearby where it can be seen next season, just to get my point across; it has worked for me before.


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Sesame Pork with Garlic Cream Sauce

The sesame pork was one of these ‘eh..’ recipes. I didn’t mind it, it was different and interesting. It didn’t grab my husband’s fancy. The garlic cream sauce was exceptional though, as you can see it was thick and clingy and all I could think of is how good this would be in a hot dog maybe with a bit of onion incorporated. I think the pork could use a bit more flavouring, which might make it more interesting still, a marinade or an addition of herbs to the sesame seeds? Anyway it is worth playing around with if you have the time. Meanwhile log the garlic sauce recipe away somewhere and try it on a hot dog, is my advice.

Sesame Pork with Garlic Cream Sauce
6 servings

700g pork tenderloin or pork steaks
2 tablespoons  vegetable oil
1/4  cup  sesame seed

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 tablespoon  butter
2 cloves  garlic — finely chopped
225g package  cream cheese — cut into cubes
1/3  cup  milk
1 tablespoon  chopped fresh chives

Cut pork tenderloin crosswise into 12 slices. Brush pork with oil; coat with sesame seed.
Fry in non-stick pan or grill pork 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until no longer pink in center.
While pork is grilling, prepare Garlic Cream Sauce. Serve sauce with pork.

Garlic Cream Sauce
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic in butter about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally; until golden; reduce heat to low.
Add cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and hot. Sprinkle with chives. Serve warm. About 2/3 cup.