Tuesday, 1 March 2016

home made dips - baba ganoush

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Around here we love dips, we have lots of favourites which we eat with crudites, crackers and corn chips. We spread them on toast and sandwiches and add them to meals.

So the small store bought tubs don't last long and when we're entertaining they go even quicker.

All of which led me to experiment with making my own. And as I've found its quick, easy and cheap. I've been really delighted with how fast and unfussy they are to make so I thought I'd share.

I'm starting with the one I've been making most, and where the recipe I've been using seems pretty failsafe. I must have made it ten times in the last six months.

Baba ganoush is smoky eggplant in a tahini base with a squeeze of lemon to give it zing and a slight garlic tang. This is one of those home made dips that is better made than bought. And its lightning fast when you're up to speed.

Baba Ganoush

Ingredients
1 medium to large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini (abt 1 and half dessert spoons)
juice of 1/2 lemon (just less than 1/4 cup)
One garlic clove crushed or fine sliced

Method
Cook eggplant over a flame till skin burns and goes black. I have a gas burner and I sit the eggplant on the hotplate, over the naked flame, turning it until all the skin is blackened. When grilling like this I've learnt not to use half measures. A really blackenend burnt skin makes it much easier to peel and gives a better flavour.

It can be messy on the hotplate as the juices run out but its easily cleaned.

For those of you without gas ranges, I had a look online, and it seems cutting the eggplant in half and grilling (broiling) it in the oven is the way to go. Place the eggplant on a baking tray with skin side up and cook till blackened.

Leave it to sit until cool and then peel off the skin. If you've really blackened it it should come away easily. I cut away the stringy bit from the stem down about an inch and discard that too.

Once you have your eggplant flesh add it to the food processor and give it a quick blitz, then add tahini, lemon and garlic and process. It doesn't take too long and I like to leave a bit of texture.

You could tweak the lemon or tahini at this stage depending on taste.

Turn out into a bowl and eat, or chill it a bit first. Yum!

The garlic and other flavours develop over time.

Lucky for me my eggplants have started bearing these beautiful purple fruits so I will be able to trial home grown homemade baba ganoush. And as you know that's the sort of thing that makes me very happy.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

2015

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Each year around this time I write a post about the year just passed. I like to do a round up of all the creative work I've done during the year because I'm usually surprised at how many projects I managed to squeeze in. For someone who always feels like nothing get finished its a very satisfying to see what I have achieved.

I'm thinking that this year will be the opposite though...

Its been a strange time in many ways, a big and hard year where my creative energies were redirected into different areas.

My Dad died. That has been a huge and devastating loss and coloured my whole year.

Also this year my beautiful daughter sat her HSC which was stressful for her, but also for the family. Its a tough year for kids and a lot of my time went to helping her through it.

In 2014 we began the process of renovating, the builders did the bulk of the construction work in the last three months of that year. Last year was all about finishing the last bits, ceilings, rendering, electrics and painting. Mr F and I did all the painting work ourselves. What a trek! We also organised all the trades, and were blessed with lovely people all round.

On top of that I spent more time in my other role as financial manager of our family business. Phew, I'm exhausted just thinking about 2015!

So something had to give and it seems to have been the creative stuff.

I did do little things along the way, mostly motivated by courses I signed myself up for when I was feeling deprived or workshops I taught myself! I find courses and workshops a great way to kickstart creativity. Each time I forced myself to make a little flame ignited which got me back to a making mindset.

One big creative project I am proud of this year is reclaiming my garden. A lot of hours of work have transformed it from a devastated and compacted building site to a beautiful leafy retreat again, with a productive garden down the side and a new garden potting shed. I love it.

And most excitingly I have my own kiln and started selling small ceramics almost accidentally from my instagram account.

But more of that later. I see doing these mosaics that there is quite a lot of undocumented making. A broken camera, a full computer and those time constraints have conspired to keep me from updating my makings as I go along.

Another post I do religiously each year is a wishlist post, where I talk about what I hope to do in the next year. This year I'm planning some serious crafting. I need it in my life and with some major projects out the way I have some breathing room to start. I can't wait. Come back soon and see what I'm planning!

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My other annual roundups: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 and 2008.)

Sunday, 13 December 2015

bread and butter pickles

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I love how seasonal produce changes the menu from month to month. This month its all about home grown cucumbers and tomatoes and the other night I made a pasta sauce with one and a salad with the other. It is so satisfying to make an entire dinner with garden pickings and it was really delicious.

Around here we've been having those cucumber salads every other night. I just peel the cucumbers, take some of the seeds out, chop roughly and then cover them with a thai style lime dressing, or a squeeze of lemon, and grind of salt and a splash of olive oil (my go-to salad dressing).

Sometimes though with a glut of fresh produce its hard to keep up and its good to find other ways to use your excess bounty.

Another way to use cucumbers is this simple preserved pickle that I made for the first time last year. I made lots of jars but we went through them quite quickly, eating them on our sandwiches and having it with cheese platters until it was all gone. Luckily this is delicious, and quick and simple to make. I made my first batch the other day and hope to get another in before Xmas.

Here's how I do it.

Bread and Butter Pickles

7 lebanese cucumbers ends removed thinly sliced
2 onions brown or spanish thinly sliced
11/2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup caster sugar

I use my MagiMix to slice the cucumbers quickly, but you could use any method. I sliced them and two onions, one brown one spanish for colour. I put the whole lot in a bowl and sprinkled them the mixture with a tablespoon and a half of salt. Then I covered it with my handy beeswax kitchen cover and put them in the fridge overnight. Took me abt ten minutes for this stage.

The next day is bottling day so put the cucumber onion mix in the colander to drain, squeezing down on it occasionally to get the liquid out.

Meanwhile put a large pot on the stove and add the apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric and sugar. Heat until all the sugar dissolves.

One the mixture is clear add the cucumber mix to the pot and bring it to a simmer.

Meanwhile get your jars ready. I like to put mine through the dishwasher to sterilise them.

Fill the jars with cucumber pickle mix and put the lids on tight. I choose jars with metal lids that have the sealing clickable lids. I then put them in a big pot submerged in hot water and boil for 20 minutes. A lot of the recipes don't call for this but I can't fit all my jars in the fridge and I like to know they will keep. When you take the jars out that clickable seal on top should be down. It should release with a pop when you open your pickles.

Enjoy!