October 30, 2014

favourites – October edition

indoor plants
So it’s been a little over three weeks since we arrived back from our trip to NZ and we are only now settling back in to this time zone.  A five hour time difference certainly knocks the wind out of ones sail!  Our trip was all kinds of wonderful and then some but as is always the case when I’ve been away, it is good to be back.
I returned home all inspired to inject a little greenery into our home after being reminded of the amazing variety of indoor plants that my mum has and to *ahem, tend to my rather bleak looking herb garden which is always a work in progress for this black thumbed wanna be gardener, ha!! 

Speaking of gardens…how fricken awesome is The Nursery Project?  Such a wonderful concept on so many levels!!
Great post!!
Feeding my buckwheat obsession with this parfait
A simple yet effective way to display plants
Awaiting the arrival of The Whole Pantry cookbook - love the philosophy behind The Whole Pantry and how inspiring Belle's story is
Majorly crushing on these boards

image – would love a similar display in our home

October 27, 2014

mango, banana and ginger smoothie

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We’ve been living in Australia for eight years in December.  Eight years!!!  It feels like a life time ago that we packed up our then family of six, with our meagre belongings stuffed into four suitcases, to embark on a new and exciting life.  We’d never travelled overseas before our move but we had itchy feet and were not overly daunted by such a drastic shift.  Yes we were sad at leaving behind loved ones, but excitement filled us at the adventures that lay ahead. The first two years were spent living in sunny Queensland but we still felt a little unsettled so after a bit of discussion we decided to hightail it over the country to Western Australia where we’ve been living somewhat blissfully, ever since.

Despite having lived here for so long I still haven’t gotten used to the heat.  Winter is only fleeting compared to my country of birth but summer…holy, you ain’t ever experienced summer until you have suffered through a Western Australian one, it’s a total scorcher! and every summer that follows seems to be getting hotter than the last.  I am already bracing myself for this year and we’re still in spring.  A day when the temperature is over the mid twenties sees me cringing…I am a total heat wuss which is ironic given where we live…so you can imagine how bad I am at summers height.

Speaking of heat, please tell me I am not the only one who struggles to eat when it’s so hot outdoors and in? (we have no air-con so there’s little relief) About the best I can do is slurp on a smoothie or eat ice cream like it’s going out of fashion.  The great thing about a smoothie is that they are a meal in themselves, unlike a heaving bowl of ice cream, and no rules apply as to what you can add.  Some of our better concoctions have been those that we’ve haphazardly thrown together.

I’m on a bit of a ginger bender at the moment and throwing it in to everything I make.  It’s zing rounds out the sweetness of the mango and banana quite nicely here.

Mango, banana & ginger smoothie – serves 3-4

I ripe mango - preferably frozen
2 banana’s - preferably frozen
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 – 2 tsp grated ginger

chopped glace ginger – optional
toasted/raw desiccated coconut – optional

Place all the smoothie ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth.  You may have to scrap down the sides of the blender bowl a few times.  Serve topped with glace ginger and toasted coconut

- 1 tsp of ginger gives a subtle taste, for a bit more zing add another tsp or more
- I prefer to use frozen fruit in my smoothies for a thick cold mix, feel free to use unfrozen fruit in which case you may want to add a few ice cubes to thicken and chill
- I used home made coconut milk but any coconut/nut or dairy milk would work fine
- I don't tend to sweeten many of my smoothies unless the fruit is particularly tart, feel free to add it to your liking

October 25, 2014

monkey bread

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As a teenager I absolutely dreaded the mornings, preferring to sleep my day away if given half the chance but since becoming a mum, I have grown accustomed to rising early and have actually come to relish that time between dawn and when the kids eyelids finally flutter open.  It’s often the only solitude I will get on any given day before donning my mothers hat.  My little ritual used to include making a pot of tea and taking it outside to listen to the birds chorus while the sun rose, these days I’m hitting the gym at 5 am in a bid to get fit and healthy and lose the last of this ‘five pregnancy’ weight. 

The other advantage of rising with the birds is that it gives me ample time to make bread.  Such as this monkey bread that I threw together before I skedaddled to the gym on Saturday morning.  I’d not heard of monkey bread before last year some time and when I did my attention was piqued.  I really have no idea where the name originated but on biting into my first ball of sweet, cinnamony, donutty bread, I was sold!  After that very first initiation I think I made a dozen batches in so many weeks…hello hips!!!  These days I don’t make this bread as often, which suits me fine seeing as I can’t eat it, but when I do the smell is absolutely intoxicating and I kick myself at being gluten intolerant.

Monkey bread – serves at least 6
(recipe adapted slightly from The Tart Tart)

30 butter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
3 1/4 cups flour
80 g melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp cinnamon

Place the first measure of butter, milk, water and sugar into a small pot and heat gently over a low heat until the butter has melted and the liquids are luke warm.  Stir in the yeast and set aside 5 minutes till frothy.  Meanwhile, measure the flour into a large bowl and add the salt.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a knife/wooden spoon until it comes together like a dough.  Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 5 minutes until smooth and glossy.  Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with gladwrap and leave in a warm spot till it’s risen to double the size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, melt the second measure of butter and place in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon till well combined.  Grease a loaf tin well making sure to get into the corners.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and divide evenly into roughly 50 pieces.  Dip each dough ball into the melted butter then coat in the brown sugar mix and place into the loaf tin, layering as you go.

Cover the loaf tin with gladwrap and leave to rise for 30-40 minutes.  You want the bread to rise again slightly.  Preheat oven 170°.  Once the bread has risen bake for 40-50 minutes until golden.  Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

- we are spice freaks so add lots of cinnamon, you can reduce the amount to suit your tastes
- bread is best eaten on the day it is made and definitely while still warm
- the original recipe calls for a glaze, we found this much too rich for our liking but feel free to add it to yours
- I’ve added chopped walnuts, raisins and some mixed spice to my flour mix before adding the wet ingredients…it takes this bread to a whole new level!!