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recipe-224

Toasted muesli, served traditional style.

I had Les Chicas over for brunch last week, so decided to kick it up a notch with a two course brunch of basil and ricotta pancakes (savoury) and then breakfast trifle (sweet). To make the breakfast trifle, I needed a toasted muesli. This recipe is pretty delish on its own (yes, you can eat it by the spoonful), with milk and in the breakfast trifle so I thought I would share.

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Cooling in the pan

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup rice malt syrup (finally a use for the remainder of the jar of “honey for sad people” that I bought for a recipe)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup golden flax flakes
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Makes enough toasted muesli for 6-7 days worth, or 4-5 days worth and 4 breakfast trifles. (NB: I only eat small rice bowls of it for breakfast, see picture at the head of this post. That’s what my serves are based on.)

Preheat your oven to 160C and line a large roasting pan with baking paper (hot tip for making sure the paper doesn’t slip: spray a little oil in the pan, then put the paper in. It’s a lifechanger).

In a bowl mix together the rolled oats, coconut, pepitas, flax and chia seeds. Pour in the rice malt syrup and maple syrup and mix to coat everything well.

Spread mixture in roasting pan, make sure it’s an even layer, then pop in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out, stir well and then make sure it’s all laying evenly before popping back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then pour into a bowl and stir in the cranberries. Then transfer to the jar you’re going to keep in. Will keep in an airtight container for ~1 month.

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Resting.

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Bluebells on my front patio

It’s Day 3 of 2017, time to think about the 2016 goals I managed to check off and what I want to carry over into 2017 (only 362 days left in the year y’all). Last year, I did pull back on house-related stuff in 2016, due to travel, family visits and some other commitments. Having said that: I did manage to cross off some items that had been carried across a couple of years of houseolutions lists. If I didn’t finish them, I did manage to make significant progress (hello Daybed).

2017 Houseolutions

Achievable:

  • Culinary and domestic skillz
    • Learn how to pipe buttercream icing
    • Make a gingerbread house and gingerbread men and women
    • Learn how to knit
    • Learn how to use one of my two sewing machines
    • Take a knife skills course
    • Make more passata and investigate other foodstuffs I can preserve at home
  • Daybed: make a mattress cover for it then transport it northwards.
  • Wet areas:
    • Finish painting bathroom cornices and fixing wall paint from last attempt to paint cornices (not a gift of mine)
    • Patch and repaint areas in the laundry (there are a couple of plugs that need to be removed from the wall, I need to fill, patch and repaint those areas)
  • Paint external window frames (done, d.o.n.e. and DONE).
  • Eaves: I need to repair, strip and repaint my Eaves. This relies on DIY Dad direction, and he’s currently busy renovating his house. So although I’d hoped to do this over summer, this will happen at some point in the future.
  • Front garden:
    • Topsoil and levelling of lawn
    • Finish front garden bed:
      • Buy agapanthus to fill in gaps and add some purple to the bed
    • Planters around patio:
      • Relocate bulbs in the patio planters (they need to be thinned and relocated from where I will be repointing)
      • Once new homes for bulbs are located, plant in Dianella Little Jess to add some year round foliage and colour to the beds
      • Relocate the reed/grass plant currently in the garden bed (to the front verge, sectioned and replanted)

Dreamable:

  • Passive Solar Measures
    • Insulation: I live in Australia, y’all.
    • Get universal tile ventilators for roof: Whirly birds destroy the roof line, imho.
  • Termite treatment: I live in Australia, y’all.
  • Front verge
    • Plant front verge with drought resistant plants that attract pollinators and/or are native bush tucker foods (with the aim of total cost of plants being less than $50, so far no money has been spent :D)
    • Mulch it like it’s hot

Longer term:

Some other goals that are optional and will probably not be achieved in 2017, but one can live in hope (and carry them over into 2018 and beyond):

  • Buy some big (preferably retro) pots and trees for front:
    • Yellow desert lime
    • Fig tree: DIY Dad has a very neglected Fig Tree in a pot at his. I will be bringing it to mine and seeing if I can resuscitate it.
  • Restore roof and then get solar panels: to make use of abundant resources and for guilt free electricity
  • Not as pressing, but on the radar:
    • Re-pointing:
      • I need to dig out sections of my patio planters, to enable those sections to be repaired
      • I’ll need to remove all my downpipes to repoint behind them
      • I’ll need to work out how to repoint in sections where there is no easy access thanks to a later wall being built (see next point)
      • I’d like to get the mortar gun working (issues to do with quality of sand are causing the problem, according to my research), as that will help with some of the trickier sections
    • Restore freecycled furniture in my garage
    • Get stainless steel + sailing wire trellises for out the back.
    • Carport: draw up a rough plan for what, where and how.
    • Grey water system to water lawn.
    • Garage:
      • Re-roof garage: making it water tight and insulated with a view to turning it into a studio.
      • Replace window and door, again making it water tight.
      • Replace garage door, making it water tight (or at least so I don’t get leaves from the street blown into the garage).
      • Invest in garage shelving to remove requirement for storing stuff on the floor.
    • Spare room: build a murphy bed, so I have space for visitors and painting. Murphy beds are the coolest.
    • Gallery hanging system: even if I can’t do the whole house, if I can do some of the rooms (or even just some of the walls in some of the rooms) it will mean I get some of my paintings and other sundries off the floor.

Previous Houseolutions

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First handful of sugar snap peas and snow peas.

Given I’m writing this post about late spring in the veggie garden in the middle of summer, you would be right in thinking I am a little behind in posting. Luckily a patch of 34+ days are crimping my summer holiday DIY plans.

Segue: crimping my holiday plans unless I get up at before sparrow fart when it’s cool, or stay up until…(actually what is the opposite of sparrow fart for the people who have to wait until sundown and cool down? Is there a colloquial expression for that? Should we make one? How does before bat fart read to you?)…until before bat fart. And I have done that: mainly the before bat fart because I don’t mind late night door and window painting while being eaten alive by mosquitoes, whereas sparrow fart is just too f*cking early. But I digress…

The veggie garden has been a very productive member of the household this year, I’ve had a couple of harvests of snow peas and sugar snap peas, in suitable quantities. I like how they become ready in handfuls, which is the perfect amount for a stir fry or salad.

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Pea plants in action.

And now, in summer, I am starting to harvest courgettes while little ears of corn grown on my dwarf corn plants. Actually I am not sure if they are dwarf corn plants, but I suspect so since they are a lot shorter than other corn I have grown. Whatever they are, they look like they will give me a plethora of corn.

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Looking out, over the courgettes…is a phrase you don’t use that often.

The silverbeet has now gone to seed, finally. These plants are 2 years old, so I am impressed they made it til now. I didn’t use it as much as I’d like, simply because I didn’t have the freezer space free. But I did make a large patch of silverbeet and potato soup plus I have some canneloni filling for when it’s cool enough to want to eat pasta again.

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Splendorous vegetable landscape.

 

Happy StyleMAS 2016

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With the new tree topper

This year’s StyleMAS was a little subdued, one of the housemates was ill when I was setting it up so my heart wasn’t in it this year.

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Pretties from the side, with the old tree topper

The colour theme this year was matt white porcelain and lime green.

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Silhouetted pretties

I bought a new tree topper to go with this theme after I’d decorated the tree, so you have a couple of photos with the old snowflake tree topper and a couple with the new star tree topper.

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With a couple of fancy presents under the tree.

Vale Her Majesty

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Her Majesty, Madame Mim.

2016 was a pretty pants year all round. On the 10 December, I had to say goodbye to one of the housemates who featured on this blog: Madame Mim, you’d know her better as Her Majesty.

She was 19 years old, which is a very good age for a cat. My sister got her as a kitten, so we’ve had her in our lives a long time. I will miss her steadfast presence in my life, the comforting weight of her next to me, the special way she tinkled her bell when she was unimpressed, the click of her claws when she walked on the floorboards, the warmth of her purr. So many things.

I remember when she was a kitten, and she singed her whiskers investigating a candle. I remember when she was old enough to be let out of the house: she got stuck on our patio roof. I remember when I moved to Watermans, and took her with me. It was the first time she’d ever dealt with stairs. It took a month, and me taking her to the top of them, before she would climb them.

When I painted, I had to have two water containers: one for my brushes, one for her; otherwise she’d drink my paint water.

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You are in the spot that I want to nap in.

She was the silent mass of black who kept me company through assignments and blog posts, almost every bath I’ve had involved her sitting on the bathmat to keep me company….or insisting she be patted while I bathed. In the last couple of years, she’d deciding drinking the water at the bottom of the shower was a delicacy. I haven’t had a shower to myself and unobserved for about 2 years: she was outside the shower door, waiting for me to get out so she could get in and drink the shower water. Being able to shower without a feline deadline has been an adjustment.

The silent reminders (and the many not-so-silent hints) that it was approaching dinner time. She would start off subtle, then get very chatty.

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Waiting patiently. This is the last photo I took of her.

When she got chatty, I always figured it was because she thought she could talk people. And that I understood. Sometimes I did: the cat bowl is empty, let me out…other times it was a regular gossip session on her end, and I just acted like I understood.

The ability to communicate a thousand expressions with the twitch of an ear or the change of an eye.

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The you’re trying my patience expression

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You’re trying my patience, but I am hopeful of pats. Now put the camera down.

Her ability to both dribble, and later on to drool, when she was content. There’s a definite difference between dribble and drool…something I’ve learned over the years.

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So content I am about to dribble.

The steady, comforting presence to the right of my pillow on the bed.

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Official spot

She was a very mannered bedfellow: she’d miaow, or sit on the floor next to the bed looking hopeful until I patted the cover, then she’d jump up (towards the end of her life it was sometimes more of a scramble) and nestle into position.

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Hopeful expression

Her diabolical strategy for waking me up, mainly when she wanted to get under the covers. It involved moving her head until her whiskers just touched my face and then purring. When that didn’t work and I rolled onto my other side, walking around my head (on my pillow and, yes, treading on my hair) and doing the same on the other side of my face. And…when that didn’t work and I rolled over to my original side, walking around my head (on my pillow, still treading on my hair) to do the same again to the original side of my face. Diabolical, stubborn…and impossible to resist forever.

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The face of a cat who has just woken up their owner

Her love for the sunny spot: particular favourites were on the sofa, on my bed and on the patio. She could bake for hours on the patio paving stones.

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One sunny spot, reserved.

Sometimes when I came back from work, I could never be entirely sure she’d moved during the day as she was occupying the same spot on the bed. She had a particular fondness for covers folded over, pyjamas or clothes left on the bed: anything you could nestle into and nap for long periods of time.

Her patient presence, even when I tried it very severely by introducing a new cat into the house. I had two single cat household cats, in one house.

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The expression on her face says it all

She tolerated it, she mostly tolerated him being annoying.

I think – although this is even more anthropomorphic personification – it’s been rough for him. One day she was there, the next she was gone.

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Awkward Housemate Photos, sadly no one is wearing a bad Xmas sweater

She did have a good life, she was loved and she is missed. And I was with her to the very last.

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Gone but not forgotten

The house feels a little emptier now.

It echoes in strange places now, and in others is strangely silent.

recipe-202

All lined up…DIY Pot Noodle Experiment 3: zucchini noodles, tofu, carrots, celery, brussel sprouts, radishes, carrots, spring onions, green capsicum.

I’ve finally got around to experimenting with DIY Pot Noodles, something I’ve been keen to do for about a year! This post summarises my learnings and some of the variants I’ve concocted along the way.

There are a couple of good articles that break down DIY pot noodles into flavours, base, veggies and other things to include. I found these very useful:

Having been inspired, I started creating and – as if often the way – started my learnings…

Learning #1: If you are using spring onions, quantities matter.

Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of my very first DIY Pot Noodle experiment (aka DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 1). The first output used spring onion, carrot noodles (having fun with the spiraliser #1), zucchini noodles (having fun with the spiraliser #2), halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced radish and celery. And I flavoured them with some left over sachets of Pot Noodle flavourings (Duck and Maggi Salt Reduced Chicken).

The biggest learning from this was: only use about 1/3 of a spring onion per jar, and not a whole spring onion. About a third of a spring onion will do…and include only the green parts, save the white parts for something else.

Include a whole spring onion, and it will stay with you for hours…and onion breath is not a nice feeling. Especially if you have meetings after lunch.

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DIY Pot Noodle Experiment 3: Zucchini noodles, tofu, carrots, brussel sprouts, celery, green capsicum.

Learning #2: A flavour base is important

Another learning from the first DIY Pot Noodle experiment: flavour is important. I’d split up 1 x sachet of duck noodle flavouring (left over from a previous non-DIY pot noodle fest) between 3 jars, that wasn’t enough flavour. So I ended also divvying up a sachet of Maggi Chicken Noodles between the 3 jars, that made it more flavoursome and emphasised the importance of flavour, flavor and flava.

If you don’t have enough flavour, then you have a bunch of vegetables in hot water…which isn’t the most appealing thing to eat.

Stock isn’t great in DIY pot noodles, and buying a soup sachet would make them uneconomical.

The Food Lab recommends Better Than Bouillon in their post Make Your Own Just-Add-Hot-Water Instant Noodles (and Make Your Coworkers Jealous) but I couldn’t source that in any of the shops I visited near me.

I ended up finding Osem’s Chicken Soup powder in my local Woolworths (they also do a Vegetable Soup Powder). About 2 small teaspoons of the powder is perfect to add flavouring to my DIY Pot Noodles.

Learning #3: I am not convinced about adding leftover tomato pasta sauce

Inspired by the Italian Style Quinoa Noodles on GOOP, I created a version using quinoa, noodles and left over tomato sauce (DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 2). Even though the sauce was very reduced and the quinoa and pasta were well drained, there was too much additional liquid in the noodle jars.

That meant, when I added my hot water…I couldn’t add enough hot water for the DIY Pot Noodles to be properly warmed. Meaning a slightly disappointing pot noodle experience…plus the left-over tomato sauce ended up being quite oily, also a negative.

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DIY Pot Noodles Experiment 2: Zucchni noodles, left over pasta sauce, spring onions and quinoa.

Learning #4: Placement is important

Apart from layering your ingredients so anything that could potentially get soggy is not at the bottom of the jar, you also need to think about how flavours could infuse surrounding ingredients. Otherwise, you could have all the right components for a great pot noodle, but still achieve less than optimal results.

I discovered the hard way that sprinkling the chicken soup powder on top of the diced Tofu was not the best idea in the world: it left the Tofu tasting salty and unpleasant. And when I sprinkled it on top of some halved cherry tomatoes in one batch, the soup powder caked and was really hard to dissolve in the hot water.

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It’s at about this point that I learnt to add the chicken soup powder just before adding the hot water. Chick peas, brown lentils, tofu, cherry tomatoes, radishes, carros, celery and spring onions.

 

Now I keep the chicken soup powder in a container, and only add it at the last minute…otherwise it renders some of the other ingredients unpalatable.

Learning #5: Some vegetables work, some don’t

Vegetables that work: radishes, tomatoes, broccolini, spinach, carrots, zucchini, kale, celery, snow peas, spring onions (in sensible quantities), roasted pumpkin, roasted sweet potato, roasted onion, frozen peas, frozen corn

Vegetables that don’t work: raw mushrooms

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Raw mushroom learning curve…coming up. Cooked white rice, mushrooms, frozen corn, carrots, celery, broccolini and spring onions.

Learning #6: If you want something more filling, add legumes or rice

Sometimes you need something a little more filling: my first experiments were basically vegetables and tofu…which is fine until you intend to do an hour long Garuda class straight after work (Garuda was developed by a dancer, and is a mix of yoga, pilates and tai chi). On those days, if I didn’t include something more filling then about 10 minutes into the workout I would start fantasising about dinner instead of focusing on the moves.

Canned chick peas, black beans, lentils and kidney beans are all good additions if you want a more filling experience.

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Cherry tomatoes, tofu, zucchini, celery, carrot, radishes, spring onions, chick peas and brown lentils.

So is cooked brown rice or cooked white rice, or cooked soba noodles or ramen noodles.

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Cooked soba noodles, spinach, tofu, spring onions, carrots and sesame seeds. I will never include sesame seeds again: I almost choked on one.

Learning #7: If you are fantasising about dinner during exercise class, add a topper to your pot noodles

A quartered hard boiled egg is always good, so is some left over roast beef. The hard boiled egg is more filling, I have to say.

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Roast beef, broccolini, brussels sprouts, spring onions, roast sweet potato, roast carrot, roast pumpkin and roast onion.

If you can get the lid closed over the quartered egg, give the jar a shake and the yolk will thicken and enrich the sauce a bit too.

Learning #8: Mix it up a bit in terms of flavours and umami

I make up 4 of these pot noodles on Sundays, and I eat them Monday Lunch and Dinner and Tuesday Lunch and Dinner. It’s important to include variety otherwise it does get a bit boring. I normally make 2 different types, so I can have something different between lunch and dinner.

Where I have made the same thing, dependent on ingredients I can create variety by different flavourings:

  • Some sesame oil and a dash of soy if I want something more asian-inspired
  • Basil pesto if I want something more italian
  • An anchovy (hear me out): it adds a richness and umami and the fish itself melts away into the stock when you pour hot water on it
  • Chopped parsley

 

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Adding parsley, basic pesto and anchovy for more flavour. Cherry tomatoes, spring onion, carrots, zucchini and celery.

You will still want to include the 2 teaspoons of chicken soup powder.

Learning #9: If you want a thicker soup, do a little pre-prep

A good fallback to make a thicker and richer soup, is to add pre-cooked cannelini beans.

How to:

  • Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan
  • Add chopped fresh rosemary and a crushed clove of garlic and heat through until fragrant
  • Add a tin of drained and rinsed cannelini beans and 1/2 cup of water
  • Heat while stirring, some of the cannellini beans will break down to make  rich and thick sauce. You can help this process by getting in there with a potato masher
  • If you’d like some greens: add a handful of chopped kale, and a little more water. Stir until the kale is wilted and serve

This is basically a Jamie Oliver recipe that you use as a base for filet steak. It is delicious, but you can also use it to thicken your pot noodles.

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Kale, Zucchni and the pre-prepped Cannellini beans

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I haven’t shaken this yet. If you shake the container to mix the ingredients, the beans will start to thicken the soup.

 

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Snow peas, sugar snap peas and silverbeet

It’s spring, so I’ve cleared the veggie garden of weeds and reclaimed some of it from the dichondra that is trying to take over (next up to buy some edging to keep Dichondra on the side of the garden bed it’s welcome to cover and to keep it out of the veggie garden).

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Radicchio makes a reappearance

I’ve kept the silverbeet from last year, these plants survived over summer and are looking very lush and prolific so they can stay.

I’ve planted zucchini seeds (they are from an older seed packet so if they don’t make an appearance soon I will buy a seedling), two types of sweet corn, bush beans, sugar snap peas and snow peas.

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The peas, future beans, current silver beet and future corn.

There is a sad little padron pimiento plant in the garden, all my peppers are looking sad at the moment so I will keep an eye on it to see if it fills out with leaves and becomes productive: if not, it’s coming out.

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Future corn and future zucchini as well as a sneak peak at the invading dichondra (and weeds) and the resurfacing radicchio