Pistachio, chia seeds and vanilla “icecream”…

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The first fire training night after I got back from my training course the Fire Services’s  National Training Centre in Rotorua was our first Brigade meeting for the year. These are every two month and are where we decided on allocation of funds and resource, develop training programmes etc. In our Brigade we always lay on a dinner.

I normally draw dessert – our dinners are all self-cooked: everyone contributes to a course. This time I wanted to play with some of the ideas I’d hoovered up off the ‘Net in the previous few weeks. I settled on three recipes to make a single disk but the way it panned out, I ended up with two separate desserts.

Plan A was for a  pistachio chia pudding layered with a plum cream topped with a dairy-free vanilla ice cream. The layered part went together OK, although my layering needs work as you can see from the image above.

I had to double both recipes as I was preparing for fourteen – that’s a lot of pistachios to shell and ideally to fill the cups I would have needed the same again. The pistachio flavour is very strong and distinctive: it went OK with the plum cream layer but both would have been better if served separately- next time I do this recipe, I’ll be thinking more along the lines of three sampler deserts with plain ice cream…

The ice cream just didn’t work and, going on many comments on the page, that’s more down to the recipe than anything that I did or didn’t do. Simply the recipe, Jamie Oliver or not, does not contain any ingredients that will set it. A more recent note on the recipe page says that the staff will have a look at it. What I ended up with was a large vanilla-flavoured ice block with not the slightest creamy characteristic.

My Plan B recovery plan was to grab a tub of TipTop vanilla ice cream from the local GAS petrol station and Four Square dairy – when they learned it was for the Brigade dinner, they kindly refused to charge me for it…thanks, team!

The ice cream was the common denominator between the pistachio and plum dessert and what was now a rich vanilla cream over ice cream dessert. The pistachio and plum dessert would have been better served as two separate option and not layered in the same cup – next I’ll serve each of the three desserts in separate corners of a dinner plate, with a scope of ice cream in the middle.

I;m quite keen to play more with pistachios as the flavour is so distinctive and strong; the plum cream I could take or leave but the vanilla ‘cream’ was to die for – seriously: rich, sweet and strong…unfortunately not enough survived for any photos…next time..

 

 

Literal green pizza

Playing with toys again…had to wait weeks before the Todo pizza makers showed up again at NZSale…only a third of the price they go for at Mighty Ape…Yes, I know I can make pizzas in the oven but I was interested in something that might offer a more portable pizza-ing experience and a new toy (plus it IS in Deadpool colours)

p70101-192150I made a few conventional dough-based pizzas but I’d been hearing for a while about vegetable bases for pizzas. Being gifted a full head of broccoli seemed like a perfect opportunity to try this (plus a head of broccoli goes a loooong way in conventional meals).

I found this recipe at Gothamist. It was easy, easy, easy…I put some baking paper down case it stuck but I need not have worried: the base pan is super-non-stick.

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The topping was just whatever was in the fridge: tomato, pineapple, yellow capsicum and some mozzarella…

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Forgot to add the tomato sauce base (store-bought pasta sauce) so applied over the top of the other toppings…

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Came out OK…cooked for about 20 minutes…even though the base is a full head of broccoli, the taste is quite subtle and not as overpowering as you might expect – probably a good way to sneak soem veges into unwilling younger diets…

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I use the pizza make quite often with a variety of bases, including store-bought ones which are good to rush meals and also wraps, although these need some care so that the more liquid toppings don’t flow off the edge…

No cheese cheesecake #4

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If I stopped looking at Facebook, I’d stop getting these inspirations…I thought I was done with the ‘ no cheese’ cheesecake thing (#1, #2, #3) but this one just looked too good not to try…It’s another Nadia Lim creation, a bit pricier than the others only because avos area  little pricey at the moment: not a problem in season or if you are lucky enough to have your own tree…

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I need some more practice building a  level base as it always seems to build up unevenly around the edges, giving this untidy appearance of more base than filling: it is actually, more filling than base, just doesn’t look it…

My base was simply the meal left over from a batch of almond/coconut milk (a litre of milk gives up exactly the right amount of meal for the base). The avocado gives the filling a silky smooth texture and the lime zest and juice adds a real zing to the flavour – or it would if the only limes at New World that week weren’t nasty little dried up things with nary a drop of juice….and if my back bottle of lime juice had more than half the required cup of lime juice.

I’m tempted to try this again this week with the full charge of lime to see how much zingier it is…it was OK this time but I felt the lost zing potential…

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I did make the berry coulis recommended in the recipe but tossed in the last of the coconut milk just to expend it…tasted OK but the milk neutered the sharp crisp berry taste…should have just used water like last time…

Still…it went very nicely with ice cream down at the station…

 

Beetroot and prunes in breadless burgers

While not in the market for another burger mix, the bright colours that accompanied the recipe on Sugar Soil hooked me: any healthy benefits aside, most beetroot recipes have striking colours and this one was no exception…

I made the mix i n accordance with the recipe on line but next time I thin l’ll aim for a mix with more even proportions of the beans, beetroot and prunes: I foud that the sweetness of the prunes rather underwhelming even though I did add more than the recipe quantities.

On a whim, I also decided to have a play with breadless burgers…Empowered Sustenace had some good ideas...it wasn’t difficult and I’m keen to try some of the other ideas as well. The most successful in this go-round was the mushroom evolution: fried just enough to bring out the flavour, and then stacked with the usual fillings burger-style…

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Mushroom ‘buns’

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Open burger on an eggplant ‘bun’

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Open burgers on pepper ring bases

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Mushroom and eggplant ‘buns’

Very tasty, with crisp clear flavours and surprisingly filling…no dairy, no nuts, no meat, no bread, no sugars, no hassle…

No Cheese Cheesecake #3

Continuing my cheeseless cheesecake theme from before Christmas – yes, it has been a while since I did some writing! – this was the third (#1, #2)recipe that I wanted to try: not only cheeseless but also raw…it is from The Awesome Green and, apart from increasing the mix for a bigger dish, it is pretty much out of the box…

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The base is the simplest of the three: all you need is:

  • 2 cups of dry pitted dates, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup of raw almonds

Placed them in a food processor and blend them until you get a sticky mix: spread this evenly across the base of your pan – I used a 9″ spring form, lined with baking paper just in case the base needed some support when lifted out of the pan – needn’t have worried: it was sturdy as and easily popped out and on to a plate.

For the filling you need:

  • 4 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • 1 cup of coconut milk*
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Drain the cashews and place them in the food processor  with the lemon juice,
coconut milk and raw honey.Process into a smooth cream.

Pour the cashew mixture in the pan on top of the crust, and spread evenly.

Because I doubled the mix for a larger pan, I made the filling in two batches. My plan was to add some blueberries to the second batch for a layered result but I my haste to get it done, I forgot to check whether the first batch had set before pouring in the second, hence the inner/outer effect you can see below…

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Done properly, it would have looked quite good but adding blueberries to both batches would have been even better.

To top off the topping – as a last minute addition to the plan – I tossed some semi-frozen strawberries, raspberries and blackberries into the blender for a berry coulis to pour over the top.

Happy with the final product but next time, I think I’ll add some vanilla ice cream…

* The recipe said “...use homemade for the raw version or full fat for the vegan one...” I used homemade coconut milk (well, 3:1 coconut/almond) and I don’t see how this could upset any vegan sensibilities as all it is is coconut, almond and water…

‘No Cheese’ Cheese Cake #1

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Our brigade is a foodie brigade. A couple of weeks ago one of our firefighters returned from her (successful) recruit firefighter course.  Dessert was my contribution to her welcome back .

I’m more savoury that sweet and while I like traditional cheesecake, only in small amounts: the overall cream cheese effect is too heavy and cloying for my taste…I also like the idea of a base that is a little closer to the raw materials  than ground up biscuits…that’s just like a bit of a Green Journey principle…

Googling provide a range of opportunities for a less cheesy cheesecake but nothing quite what I was after in a single recipe so this is a combination from two sources: the base is the coconut macaroon crust from Two Peas and Their Pod, and the filling is from A Baking Girl.

The base

  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Spray a 10 inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray. I heavily greased the tray, especially the base and still the base stuck quite a bit. Next I will line it with oven paper.

Stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt until combined.

Add in the coconut and mix well. I bought a single bag of desiccated coconut – don’t normally have this in the pantry as I tend towards threaded and chunked coconut – but didn’t quite get the maths right and had to top this up with the meal leftover from my almond coconut milk.

Press coconut mixture into prepared pie pan. I was aiming for about a 5mm thickness and this left about a cup of base mix leftover – I knocked this into the sink and that was the end of that but next time I would press any leftover base into cookies and bake alongside the cheesecake.

One of the recipes I looked at during my research phase recommended prebaking the base for 5 minutes before adding the filling so I did this.

The filling

  • 2 cups fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used ‘bad’ white sugar to eat into the remaining stock in the pantry)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out) or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch

Combine the eggs, sugar, yogurt and vanilla in a food processor. I think that this is where the leftover yolk from the base went as well.

Blend until smooth, then add the cornstarch and salt and blend again.

Pour the filling over the base and bake for 35 minutes.

When the cheesecake is done, it will still be jiggly in the centre but will have a “done” look to it. The edges of the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make sure you don’t over-bake.

Let it cool then chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge before releasing the springform.

The topping

  • 1/2 cup of cream, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla sugar (this worked to edge the edge off the cream taste but next time I would probably double it and/or add half a vanilla bean to add more of a flavour counterpoint to the filling and the base.

The filling set to a degree that the sliced strawberry topping would not stick to it. The sole purpose of the cream was to provide a layer for the strawberries to sink into slightly.

I’m keen to try this again with non-dairy yogurt to further de-dairy-ise it; it is wheat-free for those who have a genuine gluten issue; and, of course, to use an alternate sugar source once the last of the white is gone…

Cowspiracy

cowspiracy cover

My green journey started when Bubble asked me if I had seen Cowspiracy…seen it? I had only vaguely heard of it…but in the spirit of learning and breaking down preconceptions (of which, I may or may not have a few), I tracked down a copy, put my feet up one night with a cold root beer and watched…

…and watched…

…and watched…

…but this guy really just didn’t do it for me…nor did his story…

Cowspiracy presents like a ‘real crime’ expose…but the producer is so sure that everything is part of some great but unstated conspiracy but all his smoking guns are wet bus tickets. I think the point is is trying to make – bit never does – is that any sort of dairy farming is unsustainable.

That may or may not be true but his logic never gets to the point and the narrative wonders from one conspiratorial form of commercial agriculture to the next. He accuses Greenpeace and other organisations of being complicit in the conspiracy and then wonders why they don’t want to speak to him – which he then presents as further evidence of the conspiracy.

From my own research I get that feeding cattle wheat-based products has an effect on the environment. I get that this may lead to a profit-motivated clearing of forest for cropland. I get that extensive marketing drives over-consumption of meat products. But Cowspiracy didn’t tell me that. The only things I got from Cowspiracy was the clever title and an unpleasant sensation that ‘antis‘ like the producer of Cowspiracy do more harm than good to their cause and that crossing the road to avoid them is probably a good idea…

But I’m glad that Bubble recommended that I watch it. It made me think and so my own research and develop my own opinion. I love a good steak, dripping with garlic; I love my homemade burgers and nothing beats a good roast on a winter weekend. But, like most things, in moderation. the thing that really discouraged me from commercial meat products was the Hot Doc’s comments about the amount of hormones and other additives in the commercial food chain. So now, I aim for free range or organic chicken and when I do buy meat, it is an unprocessed as possible, no marinades, crumbing, etc…

So good things come from pseudo X-Files exposes like Cowspiracy…and from Cowspiracy, Bubble led me on to That Sugar Movie which is well-produced, logical and inspired me to think about me and sugar…

 

Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules – Sugar Soil

Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules

Source: Eat Healthy With These 6 Rules – Sugar Soil

I’m not normally one for lists. This one thought ticks off pretty closely against my green journey – now into its ninth month…

Eat when hungry

Absolutely!! I take two big smoothies to work with me each and work on these through the day; at home I keep a big bowl of fruit for snack attacks…

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Choose water over any other beverage

This goes hand in hand with ‘eat when hungry’…often a good slurp of good water, maybe with some infused raw fruit and/or herbs or spices is as good as something to eat. Taking a good slurp is still hard after many years conserving each and every sip of water that we had to carry but I’m working on it…

Let veges play the lead role

What is the key noun in your recipe title? If it’s a vegetable, or to a lesser degree, a fruit (fruity recipes are often desserts and so carry more temptative risk) then you are probably on the right track: I’m not anti-meat…you just don’t need it for a good meal…still a nice treat..

I’d just socked up on veges when the big fridge decided to time out and so I have had to focus on consuming a lot of my reserve stock as the big freezer is maxed out with the contents of the fridge’s freezer. To dispose of a pumpkin, I pureed the flesh, cleaned and dried the seeds for other projects, and fed the roasted skins to the Cujos…I’ve been using the puree in a range of dishes to reduce the quantity to something that will fit int he freezer…yes, I have been making the pumpkin and oatmeal muffins again, and will try pumpkin porridge in the morning. A particular success has been pumpkin chai latte (i’ll write the recipe up in a couple of days): no dairy, and only a half teaspoon of honey for sweetening…veges lead…

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Choose foods closest to their natural form

Eliminate the middle man. As much as possible work with the original raw material, avoid as many processing stages as you can, like, before it gets to you…be the master of your food’s destiny…it doesn’t take a big investment in money or time to be able to make yourself many of the items you buy prepackaged from the supermarket…almond and coconut milk would be one of the easiest and cheapest…DSCF0271.JPG…a bread maker will pay for itself in less than a year as well as giving you the flexibility of making what you want when you want it…buy the raw materials and see where the journey takes you…why buy a lemon/ginger/honey mix for winter coughs and colds when you can make a better one yourself…?

Portion Control

Lots of little, not just a few big is the way to think. In 1999, I was attached to a Malay Ranger unit near KL…the Officers Mess routine was six meals a day and some of the other Kiwis struggled with this. Many Asian countries work on this more little meal idea and it works really well…goes hand in hand with the concept of eat when hungry…in addition, these meals spaced through the day and into the evening were when the CO interacted with his officers: you had to be there anyway…lots of little…

Eat Healthy-ish

Ish, exactly…no regimented counting points or grams of sugar or mls of water consumed…eat within your own healthy guidelines…and enjoy falling off the wagon every once in a while – you’re allowed a break day, just not every day…for me, these are working:

Reduce or avoid whites…white bread, white flour, white sugar, white salt, etc…white ingredients generally have a the good stuff beaten out of them already…

Reduce dairy…even though I can make dairy-free cheese which is good for on toast and pizzas etc, I still love real cheese in my chicken soup and it is still the best complement to cauliflower and broccoli on a chilly winter night…but…the only milk in the house in in small bottle in the freezer for those guests who prefer cow instead of a non-dairy alternative…so far, I have been able to use my homemade almond coconut milk as a successful substitute for dairy milk in baking and brews – it froths up well with a half teaspoon of protein powder added to it…

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Avoid anything in a wrapper labelled ‘healthy’…odds are it isn’t…

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Dairy-free, vege-led, slice it up and just snack when hungry…

 

 

Coffee Catch-Up #2

 

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Inspired by Inspiring Max’s Coffee Catch-Ups, in this case #12

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am well over this series of mechanical mishaps: first the engine in the truck blows just before ANZAC Day – six weeks to get the sorted and a big dent in the savings; then the water heater in the kitchen floods under the wall into the back pantry – not expensive but days of mopping and cleaning til I was sure there was no permanent damage; and on the weekend, the big fridge just stopped being cold – lights still come on, just no cold. Found a failed fuse and thought that was it but the replacement popped as soon as the power went back on so now I have to wait til the service guy is out this way in a few weeks (it’s a mega-beast to move).

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that aside from the frustration of having a stand-in  fridge only a fraction of the capacity of the real one, I really like the more open access into the kitchen enabled by the reduced profile fridge: the big one came out to the edge of the lino in the picture above…I think it may be relegated to the back pantry with a smaller profile device going into that corner of the kitchen with just the most popular ready-use items…plus I’m already in love with being able to just grab fruit off the top like this…DSCF0334.JPG

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my battle with the bank is making some headway and we are getting some wins but will they be enough to change the outcome before everything goes? I’m getting great support from my legal team and those Members of Parliament that are assisting me and also looking at the potential changes to legislation that might fall out of this. But will it be enough…?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was rapt today to be cleared by Michaela at PhysioDirect Ohakune to be able to return to a normal life after popping a disk in my back a month or so ago. One of the silver linings to come from that mishap – never dance with a big dog when it’s icy – is that I have had to return to a daily stretching regimen: something that I should never have stop doing…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this is being a drearily grey winter so far…yes, there’s snow on them thar hills but just not enough of it…DSCF0300.JPG…the dreary greyness can be quite depressing but apparently banana peels are rich in serotonin so we’re blending our bananas whole to see how that works…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I bought yet another coffee toy, a capsule expresso machine only to find that I didn’t have a single expresso-sized cup that would fit the machine…I finally dug out an old tea cup that came with the house that is doing the trick for now…

DSCF0330I finally bought a frother too: the coconut milk doesn’t much like the heat of the steam frother.

DSCF0332Now my work towards world domination a perfectly frothed non-dairy milk can continue…
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Wrapping up a Coffee Catch Up with a coffee…

 

 

Empty | The Daily Post

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

Source: Empty | The Daily Post

When I’m working in the study at home, I use Plex to shuffle through the music library and send it down the stereo to play through the house. I often rewarded (and occasionally punished) with an eclectic blend of sounds throughout the day.

If You Only came on just as I was browsing the (long long long) list of unused prompts in my WordPress folder. The sentiment of the song seemed to fit the prompt ‘Empty‘…it’s sad to think that someone you know could be feeling like this, not realising what they have going for them, maybe wanting to reach out but ‘too’, too whatever to make that first move…

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Well, everybody’s looking
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?

And every glance, and every shrug and gesture
It has another meaning
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

That if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How everybody loves you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

On every tongue a whisper
Oh, I know what they’re saying
Yeah, I know what they’re saying

Do you see that face, it says

“You have no right to be”
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Oh, what must they be thinking?
Well, I know what I think

If you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
How good it is to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

And on one day
You may find that you’re no different
But ’til that day
We see you waste your days away

But if you only knew
Just how we feel about you
You couldn’t hurt like you do

And if you only knew
Just how good it feels to see you
You wouldn’t feel so alone

Don’t you feel so all alone

Don’t you feel so all alone” That’s not a question, it’s a direction…many people don’t see that, can not make that move to reach out…sometimes they just need that nudge, the random phone call, the casual coffee, the ‘was just passing by and thought I’d drop in‘…

Anyway that’s today’s totally random post…Plex has gone on to The Pogues now…