30 March 2011

The Season of apples

Golden leaves, crunchy carpets, the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof, mud puddles for stomping, mist in the valley, the smell of the first woodfire drifting across the hillside and crimson apples dangling in abundance from the great old apple tree! I know many folk who proclaim this as their favourite time of year. Can you guess that I'm one of them? I love Autumn and everything it brings. It's fun, it's snuggly, it's yum and it's inspiring. This 'Wild Child' of Autumn really is an exciting little Season.

I love the harvest, the preserving, the resting and the preparation for renewal that this Season brings. And APPLES! How exciting are the crisp, crimson, crunchy little bundles that hang from the great old apple tree, like baubles on the Christmas tree. It's such a versatile fruit that the options for what one can make with this amazing little Autumn gift are just endless; apple sauce, apple pie, apple and cinnamon muffins, Waldorf salad, toffee apples, baked apples with custard, apple slice.... and then there's everything yum they can accompany like; roast pork, morning porridge, red cabbage, hash browns, stir fry's, roast veggies... or how about an apple and raspberry frappe, some apple cider or a nice warm apple and ginger spiced tea to warm those cooling evenings. All the apple recipes you could EVER need can be found all over the internet - but this link has a great range of various apple recipes to inspire and delight. Over 350 of them! If you like to share stories with your family around your Seasonal baking, then The apple cake is a lovely story that follows the journey of an old woman who sets out to find some apples for her apple cake. It's a story about giving and receiving and the value that different things have to different people. The book also has a delicious apple cake recipe which can be easily adapted if you prefer more whole foods ingredients in your apple cake!

Yesterday we baked some apple and cinnamon muffins. They were so delicious that 4 hours later, I had to bake another batch because the first batch had just vanished! I thought I'd share the recipe with you;

::Apple and Cinnamon muffins::
(My recipe inspiration came from here, but as you can tell - the recipe is slightly adapted)

• 2C freshly ground flour (you could soak this flour in 2C yoghurt or kefir for 12-24 hours and then omit the milk referenced if you are into the whole soaking of grains. We generally are - but this time, the muffins were needed in a hurry!)
• 1T baking powder
• 2T of ground cinnamon (plus a little extra for dusting)
• 1/2C rapadura
• 3 apples peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
• 1/2C coconut oil softened, not melted
• 2 eggs, whisked
• 3/4C oat milk
• 12 fresh blueberries

• Combine flour, powder, cinnamon and rapadura
• Add wet ingredients; oil, eggs and milk - mix well
• Add apples and stir through
• Line a 12 hole muffin tin with environmentally friendly unbleached baking paper
• Fill each paper cup with muffin mix
• Dust muffins with cinnamon
• Press a blueberry into the top of each muffin
• Bake in 180ºC oven for about 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
• Enjoy with your favourite Autumn herbal tea or a frothy hot chocolate!

And do you know about the secret that hides inside every shiny apple? A favourite Autumn activity with children is to 'apple stamp'.

::Apple Stamping::
• Take an apple (Grown up's job) and cut the four 'cheeks' off the apple.
• You'll be left with a little cube that encases the core
• Be sure the children are gathered around as you tell the little story;
"Who would think an apple
Red, gold, green and round
Would have a secret deep inside
When cut it can be found!

(this is a nice time to cut the apple core across the middle to reveal the 'secret')

I thought this secret only shone
In deep and darkest night
But when I cut my apple
It shines with five points bright!
And now you know the secret
Where shining stars are found
In every crunchy apple
Red, gold, green and round."

(Apple Secrets by Betty Jones)
• Have some heavy card paper available as well as some Autumn coloured paints or inks
• Make sure the seeds have been removed from the center of the star and then dab the 'apple stamp' into the paint/ink and then stamp into any starry pattern you like on your paper.

Apple candles are also another great Autumn activity. It's alot of fun to let children decorate their own taper candle with decorating wax, to sit in their apple candle holder. Apple candles add a wonderful energy to a Winter Solstice celebration or are lovely just to even illuminate those lengthening nights and create a snuggly family space.

Blessings on your crunchy, crisp Autumnal Harvest Season.

28 March 2011

Beetroot Dip

How amazing have the beets been that have been coming in the boxes! Hopefully you read my 'Are you throwing away the best part?' post from last year and have been making use of the WHOLE produce; root vegetable, greens and stems.

Last week at a gathering, a friend whipped some of her FIG beets into a delicious dip. I asked if she would ever so kindly share her recipe with the community because, honestly, this is THE BEST beet dip I have EVER tasted. DELICIOUS!

This friend is a Thermomix'er, so the recipe comes from the Thermomix forum - but is also easily made with a little adaption using a food processor to chop the ingredients as needed, and a frypan on the stove top to cook ingrdients as required.... But wouldn't a thermomix be lovely!! It's definitely on my kitchen wish list!

Anyway - here's the link to the thread where the roasted beetroot dip is found on the forum. My friend does note; "I don't like as much yogurt so today's dip had approx a heaped tablespoon of yogurt. It is nice without it also, especially if you use it more as a sandwich/wrap filler or as a bit of a side relish for patties etc." My friend also notes that she only uses a pinch of sugar and not the full amount listed in the recipe. Do let us know how you go with adapting it to process/cook without a Thermomix. The produce list for this week hasn't been posted as I sit and type this. But I'm really hoping that beets are in our boxes or at least our choices this week. I'm super keen to try this delicious recipe in our kitchen!

27 March 2011


What kind of balance do you aim for with your meals? I'm definitely no expert on this topic, so I'd love if others would share their views and thoughts in the comments. It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately and really being mindful of when I create meals for our family.

We are friends with an amazing family that is very inspiring to us with our food. Whenever I feel like I've gotten lazy with our meals and haven't been eating as well as I know we should, it only takes one meal at the community home of these friends to steer me back in the right direction and fill me with inspiration.

My inspiration from this community kitchen always leads me to consider the balance of what is in our meals. A few hours spent, nourished by the energy of being part of the cooking experience in this community space and then being blessed to share in the feasting of the variety of dishes offered from various backgrounds, cultures, beliefs and food modalities, is always so nourishing to not only my body and soul but also my mind.

After a recent visit again to this community, I looked at what I offer my family with each meal and the balance within that. My inspiration from this community leads me to try to offer with our main meal each day; a soaked and cooked grain, raw salad greens dressed with apple cider vinegar, lightly steamed veggies and a main meal dish. Our main meal dish varies a little from the vegan community kitchen, as we are omnivores, but often we do also enjoy bean and pulse based main meal dishes. We cook any salt into our meals, as we believe that raw salt (whatever the kind you use - whether a whole salt or otherwise) is very abrasive on the digestive system and needs to be cooked. The salt we use is Himalayan salt. Our meal is always offered with the condiments of Gomasio and Tahini Sauce. I thought I had shared a post on Gomasio on this blog, but it appears not, as I cannot find it to link to. I will have to very soon share the recipe and benefits of Gomasio.

The community kitchen that provides this amazing inspiration for me is Macrobiotic inspired, so I do see that in the culmination of what is offered at any meal there, is always an offering from each of the 'seven essential components'. Macrobiotics is something that I have moseyed around the edge of for a while and I am really finding myself increasingly interested in researching and finding out more about this health modality belief.

I'd love to hear what the balance is of the meals that you create and offer for your family.

Red or Green?

Have you been choosing red or green for your cabbage the past few weeks? And what do you do with your cabbage? It's such a versatile vegetable with SO many different ways to cook. AND it's a very nutritious veggie.

With the size of last weeks green pieces, we've definitely had alot of sauerkraut being pressed in our kitchen of late. Our favourite kraut recipe is the NT Latin American Sauerkraut. We use the 'pressed vegetable' method for fermenting veggies that I posted about last year in 'Culturing Vegetables'. The post gives you the very simple and highly effective method using basic household equipment that we use in our home to create health promoting cultured veggies. The NT Latin American Kraut uses; cabbage, carrots, onions, chilli's (fresh or dried) and oregano. If you have the NT book, you can find the Latin American Kraut recipe on page 93.

Another of our favourite green cabbage recipes comes form NT on page 358-359. Either the spicy or oriental stuffed cabbages. If you don't have NT - basically you can create the recipe by cooking a savory mince or lentil mix, adding a grain (preferably soaked/cooked), steaming some cabbage leaves, rolling a few spoonfuls of the mince into each leaf, lining up in a casserole/baking dish and topping with a sauce. The sauce can be as easy as diced organic tomatoes if you need a quick and easy meal. Bake in a moderate oven for about an hour and the final dish is DELICIOUS!

In this post, I thought I would share with you a family recipe. My German grandmother's red cabbage. It's a favourite dish in our family and one that is requested often during Autumn and Winter. The flavours of the various ingredients compliment each other so beautifully and the taste is just divine!

::German Red Cabbage::

• 1 small red cabbage (shredded finely)
• 1-2 onion (diced)
• 4-6 rashes bacon (diced) - ours was made with the Free Range bacon Jane sources, which I must say is probably some of the best bacon I have ever tasted! If you are of the preference to avoid meat, then you can easily omit the bacon, but if you do eat meat - the bacon is a key part of the amalgamation of flavours, I find. I can always tell when the bacon is missing in the red cabbage!
• 1 green apple (or red if you have no green) grated
• 1T of rapadura
• 1T butter or coconut oil
• 1C red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

• 3 bay leaves
• 1t caraway seeds
• Himalayan salt
• Water if needed

• Fry onion and bacon in a large saucepan
• Add other ingredients and mix well
• Monitor moisture in pot and add a little water as needed to avoid sticking/burning in pan
• Turn heat mid-low and simmer lightly with lid on for about 20 minutes or until cabbage is cooked through
• Remove bay leaves
• Serve with whatever you please, but optimally served with Chicken Schnitzel, Spätzle and lots of gravy (on the Schnitzel and Spätzle not the red cabbage!)

01 March 2011

Seedy Summer Lentil Dip

A little something we threw together for lunch yesterday, turned out rather yummy. We used this recipe for our base inspiration, but added a few variations. Here’s how ours went;

• 2 Onions (sliced)
• 3 cloves of Garlic (sliced finely)
• 1/2t Coriander Seeds
• 1/2t Cumin Seeds
• 1/2t Caraway Seeds
• 1/2t Himalayan Salt
• 2C cooked green or red Lentils
• 1 small tin of Tomato paste
• Juice of 1/2 Lemon
• 2T Tahini sauce
• 1 small handful of Basil leaves

• Heat 1T of coconut oil in a pan
• Fry onion and garlic until translucent
• Add seeds and salt - fry a few minutes until fragrant
• Add the lentils and mix through until warmed
• Add the tomato paste and simmer on medium-low for a few minutes
• Let the mixture cool slightly (enough to process in a food pro)
• Transfer mixture to a food processor and add the lemon juice, tahini sauce and basil leaves
• Blend well
• Serve warm with crudities - especially yummy with fresh cucumber from the garden
• Also can be eaten cold as a great ‘on the go’ nutritious lunch or snack