31 January 2012

The Summery Home...

Summer hasn't been too summery here, but it's still summer.
Bruce enjoying the summer sun in the window seat
Chamomile and Lemon Fizz
Sunny kitchen window sills with mint, basil, lemon balm and lemon grass
Hello bumble!
Front door letters, too bad it doesn't open any more
Timmy looking a bit grumpy
Hello blackberries behind the house
A rainbow of tomatoes
Our valley

30 January 2012

Meatless Monday - Handmade Pumpkin Ravioli!!

Yeah, loving our pasta maker right about now! And since we had an extra half of a pumpkin in the fridge and a lovely bunch of sage from the lovely Jess (Thanks!!) I thought I would have a first go at making ravioli! 

I based it off of this recipe, but with a couple tweeks here and there.
For the Raviolis :
  • 1/2 pumpkin - halved and de seeded (we used a Japanese Pumpkin)
  • a little olive oil
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • While this recipe calls for 25 wonton wrappers, I made a batch of thin pasta sheets and used those instead.
  • egg white, lightly beaten
For the Sauce : 
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C.
Drizzle pumpkin with olive oil and rub it in to make sure all the flesh gets a good coat. Salt and pepper a little bit then put it cut side down on a baking sheet. 
Bake in preheated oven until tender 45 to 60 minutes. I tend to give it a squeeze about half way through and to make sure the raw edge isn't stuck to the sheet. I usually do things like this around lunch time if I'm home so it has a lot of time to cool down. 

So, if it's still cooling, make your pasta. I used a half batch, normally what the recipe calls for will make enough for 6, but if it's just two of you, half it and you'll have some leftovers for lunch! You can look up how to make pasta online or check the instruction that came with your machine. I won't include the particulars here, but it's all about timing... so once your dough for the pasta is resting in a damp tea towel..
Scoop the cooked pumpkin into a bowl, and mash until somewhat smooth. You could puree it if you want, but I always love a bit of chunk and natural textures in my food. Mix in the allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and Parmesan cheese until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
If you can work quickly, start to slowly boil the slightly salted water to cook the pasta. 
To make the ravioli, put your pasta sheet on clean, flat surface. Since I had long sheets, I was able to make about 4 at a time by cutting strips of the dough and then placing about 1 teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the middle of each section. Then brush the edges of the pasta with the egg white and fold over. Make sure you give the edges a nice squeeze and pinch them together.
And as I was at this stage, my camera had an issue. So I got it a tissue and we moved on. Sorry about that :)
Thanks camera. :( But hopefully you get the idea!
Put the raviolis into the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, when ready drain and put it back into the pot. In the meantime, make the sauce!
This is the easiest thing ever. Throw the butter and the chopped sage into a little skillet and cook until the sage gets crispy and the butter browns just a touch. Toss it every once in a while so it doesn't burn.
When the sauce is ready, pour it into the pot with the ravioli and make sure it all gets a good coating. Serve up on warm plates with some veggies, and add a little extra rock salt, fresh pepper and a good grating of Parmesan cheese. 
Good golly Miss Molly! The leftovers are a score!
Happy Monday!

24 January 2012

Some old and new friends around the garden

When we moved into our little home, our tenants were nice enough to leave some amazing herbs and veggies growing in the beds they built. It was such an awesome gift. Now, once I've figured out what most of everything is, we have leeks, chives, rainbow and regular silverbeet, (I think) beetroot, spinach, parsley, mint, thyme, rosemary, fennel, pineapple sage and probably a few things I haven't found yet. 

I had to give the mint and the thyme a massive cut back the other day, but out of came a massive amount of dried thyme, which should keep and I can make some tea out of. Or maybe some shaving cream for Jacob (if he ever decided to shave!)

Since Monday was a public holiday here for some, I headed to Leacroft Nurseries with some of the family and was so impressed! I hadn't been there before, but will be going back this week! They have so many native plants and it's all fairly priced! Yep. New favourite place.
Lemongrass (new), fennel with pineapple sage (old)
Feijoa & the $5 tomato plant (both new)
Lavender (new) and one of our leeks (old)
Yep. Love gardening. And love my green gumboots.

Meatless Monday - Really Simply

Last night was another good Meatless Monday experiment. Based loosely on this recipe, as I tend to Google whatever I have in the fridge, so I made this...

Roasted Veggie and Avocado Pasta

  • 250g of pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 kumara, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • a small bit of chives, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 250g fusilli pasta (because it's what we had in the pantry)
  • an avocado, cut into good size slices
  • a few fresh basil leaves, sliced super thin
  • and a good bit of parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven 180C. Cut up the veggies, throw them on a roasting tray with a good coating of olive oil, bit of chives and give them a lot of salt and pepper. Let them roast for until tender, turning them every once in a while (about 20 minutes)
In the meantime, cook up the pasta. If you time it all right, the pasta and the veggies will be all about the same time. Throw everything together with a little more olive oil, salt and pepper and the avocado.
Serve up on a platter if you want to be fancy about it and top with the shredded basil and with a veggie peeler, shave some of the yummiest parmesan cheese on top of the whole thing.

I love recipes like these. So easy. All to taste. And a really good reason to use up leftover pasta if you have some, the random veggies in the fridge, and the heaps of basil sitting on the window sill. Not to mention, it makes great leftovers that I'll be having for lunch today!

22 January 2012

Dirt and worms

Yesterday, we cleaned out from behind Jacob's little shed. Beyond all the Wandering Willie, the random bits of rotten timber, a barn door, and a giant iron scrolled window bar... We found worms. And lots of them! 

There is actually concrete behind that little shed, underneath about 4 inches of solid dirt filled with any amazing amount of healthy worms! In our fantastic recycling fashion, we moved the dirt into our newly developed garden beds around the deck. Score! And we can now have the back of our shed again! 

Here are some photos of the rest of our adventures this week!
A lovely morning walk with the Dog Tales - Awoohooo!
Gardening and some recipes.
 Still Granny Squaring away and some new doodles.
Coolness today as we are going to be heading over to the Botanical Garden for a bit! I'm super excited! I haven't been there since my first ever trip to Welly! 

Have a good rest of your weekend!!

19 January 2012

Oh yeah!

Forgot to share some good news!!

One of my lovely Christmas gifts from Jakely was to head off to a weekend workshop! (It was more or less my idea, but still!)

Next month, I'll be taking in some learning at the Cottage Hill Herb Farm for the Natural Skincare Product Workshop! I'm super excited! I've been experimenting over the ages making my own oils, shampoos, astringents and random other bits and bobs, but I've always hit a wall with a lot of the other things I'd love to try.
Bring on making creams and balms!

16 January 2012

Meatless Monday - Mexican Potato Cakes!

As one of our New Years Resolution's, we have decided to make a massive effort at Meatless Monday! We will usually have at least one meatless day, but it's nice to fully plan and be creative with it.

Last week, I followed a recipe from the Meatless Monday website, but was actually REALLY let down. It was rather bland and didn't turn out even remotely what I was expecting, so now, it's time to get creative our way!

via Greatest-Ever Mexican Recipes

  • 600g potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
  • 1 cup grated cheddar/tasty cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g drained pickled jalapeno chili sliced, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • bit of fresh chopped coriander
  • a little bit of flour for making cakes
  • oil for shallow flour
  • and salsa to serve
Add potatoes to a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes, until tender. Drain, throw in a bowl and mash away. Stir in cheese, salt and jalapeno bits. Stir in the beaten egg and a little coriander. Mix until it forms something like a dough.
Once it's cool enough to work with, divide it up into even balls on a board with floury hands. Flatten into cakes.
Heat oil in a shallow frying pan and fry up cakes in batches for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden. Serve up sprinkled with a bit of salt and with some yummy salsa.

We had this with some lovely corn on the cob with a little garlic and chili butter.

And if you need to make some quick salsa, I worked out a quick batch today but random things that I had in the pantry...
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • a bunch of fresh parsley and/or coriander, chopped
  • cumin, salt and pepper all to taste
Leave it in the fridge for at least an hour and yay! Really easy. And all sitting around the house.

I'd love to share some Meatless Monday recipes if you're doing them as well! Share share share!!!

13 January 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday!

1.   One of my favorite things to do when I have free time is just to relax. As soon as I have free time, I try and quiet my brain. Then, I either get out a book or get out the good old crocheting.

2.   When I have free time I tend to hop on the iPhone and try and catch up on Chess or Words with Friends, I'm a bit slow with it though.. 

3.  If I had an entire day completely to myself I would spend it like I do everyday. I actually have a lot of days to myself, but I try and fill it with day to day things. BUT, if it were up to me, I would spend the entire day reading a book and making coffees.

4.  I would prefer to spend my free time (alone or with others...)  alone actually. I love seeing my family and friends, but I adore my quiet time.

5.  Most of my free time happens without me knowing.

6.  The best thing about free time is that you can get to know yourself better.

7.  The next time I have free time I should probably do more around the house, but instead, I'll probably    faff around a bit, as Jacob calls it... or probably just updating my blog. 

Happy Friday the 13th!

11 January 2012

An afternoon in the kitchen..

After a bit of a windy, hilly walk with the dog-boys and a quick stop off to the fish and chip shop, I came home to a free afternoon to do some cooking. 

We've been trying out a couple different organics deliveries and had a couple problems with the one we liked, but we are back to using Commonsense Organics which have been good in a pinch. After some rearranging of fruit and veg, I realised that we've had a lot of citrus to use. So... out with the good old Juice-O-Matic!!! 

This is my favourite kitchen tool ever! I think I've had it since I was about 21. I have my lovely high-school friend to thank. She would be the one that got me interested in antiques and all things vintage. One year for Christmas, I decided to seek out an old juicer for her. For some reason in my mind, it had to be red and chrome and stylish beyond all reason. After about two weeks of searching all the local shops, I found it! It was gorgeous and I was secretly gutted to have to part with it. 

When Christmas came around, we exchanged gifts and I was so excited for her to open her fancy juicer! She opened it, looked at me, laughed, told me to open my gift. I opened it to find something red, chrome and stylish beyond all reason! Yes... it was the Juice-O-Matic!

How funny.. we had basically sought out and purchased the same gifts for each other. But of course, at that age, we were completely convinced we were psychically connected, could read each others minds and thought dating twins was the best idea we had ever had. We were awesome in our early-twenty-somethings.

Anyway, the rest of my afternoon was something completely new! I made fresh pasta for the first time! 

Fresh homemade pasta, homemade sauce and meatballs! So yum! It was one of those moments where I was rather proud of myself! Making pasta is a bit liberating!

I'll have to have a few more attempts at it until I'm completely comfortable with it, but if you have a pasta maker, use it!!

09 January 2012

Christmas Love..

Finally some Christmas photos! 
We had a lovely time, our first Christmas in our new house... even with no furniture. 

Our fantastic little tree from the Aro Street Community Centre.

Peanut Butter Cookies for the Dog Park Party? Such a lovely time!!

Post Dog Park Sleepy.

Christmas Dinner. Go Jacob with his Manuka Honey and Orange Glazed Ham. Fantastic.

The new edition to the family. His name is Jerome. Thank you Ans!

Timmy's Christmas cracker and some good movie watching, White Christmas on the lappy.

Boxing Day Beach Trip to Petone... Such a gorgeous day...

02 January 2012

A little help from... Bruce.

Ok, maybe not help with the household chores or the painting.. But it's times like these you can't help but love the lil bloke!!

My Scrappy Do!

01 January 2012

And more painting...

We've been able to power through a couple rooms over the last week or so. Our bedroom, second bedroom (which we're going to be calling the library/music room), the third (really really small) bedroom aka the technology room aka the room with all the computers, the living room, dining room and finally started on the entry. What a mission!

Thanks for the help Hamish!!