Kombucha Induced Road Rage + a Vegan Fried Rice Recipe

Coming at you from the library today. I spent the morning here getting some stuff done for the NGO I work for, and then stepped out to grab some things for dinner from the shops. I also picked up some rice paper rolls from my favourite sushi shop and a kombucha to get me over the $10 minimum eftpos line. So I jump back in my car and am

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Over the Weekend

It’s Monday and we had the most glorious weekend. It started when I was presented with a hot coffee first thing and told to drink it in bed. I opened the curtain and let the light stream in and sat with Birdie curled up next to me and slowly sipped.

I spent five hours in the kitchen with my three little helpers yesterday afternoon, and I feel so organised for the week. I made tamari trail mix, raw trail mix, salted caramel bliss balls (with nuts for those eating at home), coconut cacao bliss balls (with seeds for those taking to work/school), sneaky veg muffins, sweet potato and lentil frittata, and a giant batch of kitchari (a traditional Ayurvedic recipe which is gentle on tummies and great to eat during the change of season into Autumn. I made enough for a family meal + five adult lunches). I was planning on making red kidney bean bolognese sauce as well for one of our dinners this week but we ran out of time, I will make that in the next few days. The girls donned their aprons (the baby joined us with a rusk and contributed with some squeals here and there) and helped to pour, mix, roll, chop and grate. Things are slower with them in the kitchen and I have to make a conscious effort to include them and allow things to go at a slower pace.

We went to a local native plant sale, met some friends and took turns minding children and wandering around. We bought some natives for our garden and even found time to plant a few.

On Saturday KB took all three girls out and I stayed at home for the whole morning cleaning the house, I think this was a major contributing factor to the calm flow that followed us throughout the remainder of our weekend. It took about four hours, but oh! What a difference it made to our attitudes and our time spent at home over the weekend, without falling over things and each other. Now we just have to try to maintain our sense of order, for a little while at least.

It’s weekends like these I like best, with time to think and potter and make. I hope you had a wonderful one too, wherever you may be.

In General

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2016-04-04 16.11.15It’s late afternoon and the sun is streaming through my back door into the kitchen. Lentil and red kidney bean soup is being heated on the stove, fruit is being stewed to add to yoghurt and probiotics for a snuffly baby for dinner, cacao nib cookies have been cooked for school and kinder lunches, and honey ambrosia has been made to dollop on porridge in the early mornings. I’ve also got a batch of gelatine-based jelly setting in the fridge which I am hoping the big two will be happy enough to eat (it doesn’t taste quite like the jelly they get at the Nana’s houses!) The baby is playing on her mat while I busy myself in the kitchen and the older two are planting some seedlings with KB out the back. I can feel that lightness that comes with a baby becoming more independent, when they are able to entertain themselves for a while on the floor with a pile of blocks or some kitchen spoons or a rusk. The days of constant holding and cradling have, once again, come to an end. She is ten months old tomorrow.

Today I’ve been busy trying to prepare us for the school routine. School holidays have also come to an end, although the idea of school every day is one that still seems foreign to me, it’s going to take a while to get used to the monotony of it all (for many years to come).

Over the holidays we’ve baked bread, we’ve gone walking, we’ve made easter crowns, we’ve sewed, we’ve crafted, we’ve cooked, we’ve cleaned, we’ve celebrated Bird’s sixth birthday. We have done a lot of work around the house and in our garden and it feels great (I won’t mention the overflowing washing basket, the clothes unfolded or the state of our bedroom). We’ve planted out some seedlings for a (very) small Autumn harvest; we are still learning and feeling our way with the veggie patch. We’ve moved upwards, to one large apple crate and a few smaller veg crates and pots dotted with basil, strawberries, brocolli, bok choy, and beetroot. It was an Epic Fail for us with our tomatoes over summer (seriously, tomatoes and yoghurt are two things I just cannot get a handle on) but we had a few delicious rounds of crispy, sweet snow peas which made us feel better.

We reviewed our budget so that I can continue to do minimal and short term work, rather than going back to work permanently just at the moment. Oh boy, it’s tight! But with three kids it becomes both incredibly difficult to arrange childcare, and also the preciousness of this time becomes abundantly clear with each child shooting up and up and off and off. With the decision that I’ll be home longer, we’re also thinking about giving up the Pixie’s day at childcare which we have been hanging onto for dear life – our centre doesn’t even keep a waiting list any more as they are so full and in demand. When I returned to work last time it was near impossible to get the two girls in on the same day, I think I changed my working days two or three times to compensate. It’s a tough decision to let it go, as we also highly value consistency for the girls and I don’t want to chop and change, but the savings we will make as a result will surely be worth it.

Speaking of savings, these holidays we also found out we have a saver and a spender (what is done with easter eggs says a lot about a person). Friends, I’m sure you won’t need long to figure out which is Bird and which is Pixie…

My feet hurt from the last three hours spent in the kitchen. I think it’s time for a shower, some hot soup and crusty bread for dinner and an early night.

A big week awaits.

the flowers and so on

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Spring has officially arrived in the Southern Hemisphere. Over the past year we have done a little bit of work here and there in our garden and although there is a lot more to be done (and we generally have no idea what we are doing) I was amazed at the variety of flowers that bloomed to announce the beginning of the new season. I love Winter, but the last few weeks always seem to drag a little. Everyone seems to have a sunnier disposition all of a sudden now there is some colour in our days.

It always takes me a while to shake off the darkness of Winter. I thrash through my wardrobe wondering what to wear when the sun comes out and warms the air. I keep putting nourishing yet heavy stews on the meal plan, unsure of what to do with those fresh leafy greens that arrive in my veggie box. (While we adjust our favourite go-to meal is currently a tray of roast vegetables, raw greens, a handful of seeds and a blob of hommus. It has enough possibilities to suit the whole family in one form or another.)

At the start of each season I always spend some time consulting this book. It grounds me in the here and now and no matter what is going on in my life, it always has something to say to me. I love the recipes and find that with a quick refresh of the suggested seasonal pantry items the kitchen is in business again. I’ve had about five minutes to peruse it this season, but I have kept it out on the kitchen table so it is within grabbing distance at opportune moments. I was also given this book for my birthday back in May which I absolutely love and am happy to say Peach has finally allowed me the chance to test out some of the recipes, many of which are perfect for the warmer weather headed our way.

Speaking of warmer weather (or lack of it) for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere who are bundling up and slowly retreating into Autumn, I am very excited to be featured in the Autumn issue of Tend Magazine, talking about creating a sense of place for our children in our homes and local landscapes. Pop over here to check it out.

I think that’s all for now, my head is a little foggy with less sleep than I would generally like, and the end of the school term in sight. I’m looking forward to KB being on long service leave and I can think of little else. FIST PUMP! Ciao.

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school lunches // take two

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(rainbow chard fritters + a sneak peek at my massive 29 week belly)

Thank you so much for all your lunchy suggestions! I am finally finding my feet in the kinder lunch box department and Birdie has only had the odd sandwich thrown in the last few weeks (once after I asked her what she wanted for lunch and she looked at me with pleading eyes – “Mum, can I just have a vegemite sandwich, like the other kids?” :/ )

On the agenda this afternoon was a big batch of fritters for this week’s lunches. A few weeks ago we had an influx of rainbow chard in our veggie box. When this happens I always have good intentions to eat said chard, but I don’t like it very much so those good intentions seem to turn sour quite quickly, ending with a soggy heap of green stuff at the bottom of my fridge. So this time I tried chopping the whole bunch up, blanching it briefly and then froze in small lots to use (hide) in meals. Fritters seemed like a good way to get these nutritious greens into not just the kid, but into me too!

Rainbow Chard Fritters – with millet and corn

:: 1-2 cups blanched rainbow chard (or other green veg like spinach or maybe even kale… they would also be delicious with coriander added)

:: 1 cup millet

:: 1 can or 2 cobs of corn

:: 2-3 tablespoons of arrowroot flour or similar

:: 2 eggs

:: salt/pepper if you like

You can really do whatever you like with these – any grain or flour would do the trick really. Quinoa? Oats? Or you could start with just your basic pancake recipe and add veggies… whatever works. I’m so haphazard with cooking and generally just feel my way. Trial and error – there’s no better way! Lucky for me, these turned out well.

:: cook millet on stove

:: whiz up blanched greens in blender, then add in two eggs and other ingredients. Depending on your blender you could blend a little, or if it will get too chop-happy, tip everything into a bowl and mix through with a wooden spoon. You want the corn to be whole, not blended.

:: use fat of choice (I used coconut oil) and cook up in fry pan or on BBQ.

:: eat!

I’m on kinder duty tomorrow so I’ve also packed a lunch for me – I mixed some sweet chilli sauce and cream cheese together to go with these… I don’t know if this is completely weird or if it is normal, my pregnancy taste buds have got the better of me at the moment. For Birdie I’ve packed a small container of yoghurt for her to dip them into. If she eats them, I’ll be super duper happy.

meal planning

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The last six months have been probably the fullest, busiest, craziest six months in my short history of parenthood thus far. With me heading back to work three days a week, Birdie starting three year old kinder plus a day of childcare and little Pixie going to childcare one, then two days per week, along with Prince Charming working his regular two jobs, our lives were jam packed with drop offs and pick ups, tearful goodbyes and all the in-betweens – cooking, cleaning, dressing, bathing, and so on. I’m not sad at all that the juggle of those six months are now behind us. We are starting the year with a clearer outlook and a readjustment of priorities. After seeing my little Bird develop a tendency towards being anxious and panicked, and less like her normal cheerful and bubbly self over these past six months, we all knew it was time to make change. She was not the only one feeling like this.

So. Last week was my final week of working three days. From this week onwards I’ll be working 1.5 – 2 days a week on average and the plan is that I will have a little bit more time, more energy for my girlies and will slowly wind down between now and end of April towards maternity leave, again!

And more time means one thing in this house: meal planning! Oh how I have missed being able to actually think about what we are going to eat for more than five minutes before we actually need to eat it.

This morning the girls and I spent an hour and a half cleaning out our fridge while PC was at work. It was actually frightening to see its contents, vomiting (literally: vomiting) out onto the kitchen floor. Needless to say, there was unfortunately a lot of waste and horrid, nasty things hiding in the dark depths that I never want to have to think or talk about again. Like in most other areas in our life, we are now ready for a fresh foodie start and I can see what we’ve got to work with.

This week we are planning on having:

:: Lentil loaf with sweet potato mash and veggies (using a combo of this, this and this recipe I reckon, all of which I’ve cooked before but I am missing at least one ingredient from each so there will be a lot of improvisation – ah, time for cooking improv, my favourite thing!)

:: Scrambled tofu and veg using a recipe I’ve made up myself after lots of failed and dry scrambled tofus!

:: Quinoa salad and roast veg.

:: Coriander chicken burgers and salad.

:: Stirfried brown rice with toasted nori and sesame, with maybe some avo, homemade hummus and veg, recipe from one of my all time favourite recipe books.

:: BBQ something and salad.

In the past two days I’ve made hommus, almond milk, chicken stock, candy bars (one of my fave recipes!), smoothies, egg free mayonnaise for this preggy belly (naughty!!!), and a variety of other meals around these staples. Yay. I’m baaaa-aaaackkk!

settling in

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Thinking and dreaming and writing (elsewhere!). Reading things that make my path and decisions easier. Focussing on mindfulness in the day to day. Trying not to get bogged down by the irrelevant. These are a few of the things I have been doing. As Autumn comes into focus (albeit a rather warm one) the world around us seems to slow down. The days become shorter and, if you pay attention, nature begins to wind down, reminding us that we should be doing the same. The Ashtanga Yoga I was doing over summer has merged into sporadical (read: rare) trips to the studio for rejuvenating stretching and meditation. Food has become warmer in our house, and cooked longer and slower as I follow the seasons and my instincts to fill our bellies with fresh, warm seasonal produce. In a book that I constantly refer to, I read that Autumn is a time for shedding, and not to be surprised if you cry a lot as we move into this season. I’m never afraid to cry. Are you?

eating

One of the questions most commonly asked amongst my friends:

What’s for dinner tonight?

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We are a bunch that love to cook and swap recipes and inspire each other in this way. Another one of the most commonly repeated phrases:

I’m so bored with cooking! I don’t know what to make! I’m sick of all my recipes!

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I love hearing what my friends are making for dinner. It’s more often than not something I haven’t thought of making myself, which encourages me to try something new. I love hearing what other people’s staple meals are and what they cook if they have nothing planned and nothing in the fridge (this happens around here all too often due to bad planning on my part).

In saying that, as a rule I fill out a meal planner each week. I have tried to do this fortnightly or monthly but the longer my plan goes for, the more likely I am to run out of food or not have the ingredients I need so weekly works best for us.

I am finding it especially hard to think of things to eat while the heat wave continues in Melbourne. Yuck! We don’t have very good air conditioning so it makes it difficult to cook anything extravagant. I’m using my slow-cooker a lot as it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, along with the BBQ.

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This week we are having:

Monday // chicken, barley and veg stirfry

Tuesday // lentil dahl in the slow-cooker with brown rice and greens

Wednesday // salmon on the BBQ and salad

Thursday // brocolli and chickpea noodles

Friday // ooh potentially have a girlfriend coming over for a movie night so will put some more thought in here!

Saturday // rice paper rolls with raw satay sauce and salad (sounds la-di-da but is ridiculously easy)

Sunday // kid friendly pad thai with tofu

When I’m thinking about what to cook I have some basic rules. We are currently trying to eat more fish so I’m trying to schedule that in once a week. We eat red meat about once a fortnight and chicken around once a week. We don’t eat pork aside from bacon every now and again from our free-range butcher. Outside of that we eat vegetarian meals mainly based around legumes or another protein combination. I limit tofu to once a week, if that, due to high levels of processing and being unsure about my thoughts around soy consumption for the kidlets. That’s about it!

What’s for dinner at your place tonight?

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Some other food related posts you might be interested in:

Ditching the big guys

When breastfeeding costs more than formula

Comfort food

Feeding a small child: what has worked for me

 

staying home

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We have been enjoying a lot of time at home lately. We’ve had a few rounds of tonsilitis, flu, colds, vomiting (yay), and other lovely end-of-wintery illnesses. Many of our friends have been sick too, so all the mamas in my circle have been sending “I miss you” texts and going about our solo ways for the past few weeks.

Something that ordinarily sends me a bit nutty has actually been an absolute blessing. Having to cancel plans and really, truly, actually Slow Down has, in the end, been just what we all needed to close off the winter.

The telly has been on way too much. I’ve been drinking so much coffee because our pot makes enough for two. We’ve spent many a day in our pyjamas and thrown gumboots over the top to go outside. The house has been cleaner despite us all being here all day. Food has been cooked and menus planned. Sewing has been done! Baking has happened.

I think even once everyone recovers and Spring arrives (in just a few days now!) we will stick with this new rhythm of more home time.

It suits us all very nicely.

comfort food

As the season [finally] changes and the air becomes crisp and we all feel a bit twisted this way and that, I welcome the chance to cook warming, comforting foods. While on maternity leave I am also always looking for meals that are good for the purse. I don’t like to call food frugal, simply because frugal doesn’t sound all that tasty. But y’all know what I mean.

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Here’s a little sample of our table in the last couple of weeks.

Something naughty: homemade pizzas using a pizza dough recipe from my amazing friend Anna (who also was my guidance counsellor and trusted coach with The Cake). It does feel a bit naughty to eat pizza, but we don’t eat pasta and rarely eat wheat with our meals so a treat now and then is fun. Would you like to make your own pizza? See the recipe below…  I’m sure you could substitute the flour for a flour of your choice… why not?

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{Unfortunately the pizza was gobbled up so fast I only have one picture of the last piece, about to go in the fridge}

Something nice: eggplant parma, recipe courtesy of Veggie Mama.

Something soothing: chicken noodle soup, a hodge podge of homemade chicken stock with rice noodles, some miso, coriander and tamari. Perhaps some ginger and garlic as well? I can’t entirely remember what went in this but oh my, it was delicious.

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And tonight we had:

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Buttery french onion and lentil soup (thanks Meg x), a recipe sent to me via text yesterday which within a few hours I had bubbling and simmering in my blue pot on the stove in the cool evening light.

Despite feeling run down and tired and absurd, I love cooking. I love chopping and stirring and even sometimes lately I am choosing to slowly wash some of the dishes in the sink instead of throwing them in the dishwasher. There is something therapeutic about dipping each dish under warm water and bringing it out clean and dripping. I still hate putting dishes away though, there is nothing therapeutic about that.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Sift 330g (approximately 1.5 cups) of self raising flour by hand with:

:: 2 tsp salt

:: 4 tsp castor sugar (I just used raw as I had nothing else)

:: 2.5 tsp baking powder

:: 1 tsp olive oil

:: around 300mL warm water

Add water in small amounts until the dough feels good. Wrap in gladwrap for 20 minutes. Spread out onto two pizza trays. Blind bake for around eight minutes at 200 deg (celcius).

Add toppings of your choice and bake until the cheese is melted and golden. There is a really yummy selection of topping ideas here.

Enjoy!