Cherry Plum Wine

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Have you seen the gorgeous little yellow and purple cherry plums on the trees? We are planning to make this on the weekend. Well, start it anyways! It takes about six weeks until it can be bottled. 

Cherry-plums     cherry-plums

Cherry plum wine

2.8 kg cherry plums
1.4 kg sugar
approximately 4 litres of water
1 sachet wine yeast – any red wine yeast will do nicely
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp pectolase

To extract the juice out of the plums, boil one litre of  water and pour it over the fruit then use the end of a rolling pin, crush the fruit until there are no lumps left. Leave for a few hours then add the rest of the water and the pectolase.

Leave a couple of days then strain through a fine sieve. Put the juice into a saucepan, bring quickly to a boil then immediately turn off the heat. 

Pour the hot juice over the sugar and stir until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Add the yeast and yeast nutrient. Bring the volume with water to 4.5 litres if necessary. Pour into your demijohn using a funnel. Add the trap. Rack off into a clean demijohn after four to six weeks and again a few weeks later if you want. Bottle when clear – or even if it doesn’t clear completely, bottle it anyway.

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Message in a Bottle: A romantic idea or desperately naive?

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I came upon a blog today where the writer talked about fulfilling her long-held romantic urge to throw a bottle in the ocean with a note inside. I responded in a bit of a heated manner and left a link behind with an article on what a dump the ocean has become.

Not so romantic after all.

Not so romantic after all.

I am sure that polluting the ocean was not her intention – but all of our actions have consequences – whether we “intend” or not. And our planet is slowly dying. We can either duck our heads in the sand, throw our hands up in the air and say it is too far gone to make a difference – or we can do our best to keep our own corner of the world, clean.

As I was reading through the article and the comments from other readers (most of whom thought it was a “cool” idea), I honestly felt a bit sick inside. She inspired a number of people to put it on their bucket list as well.  Ouch.

When do we wake up? When do we as a human race draw a connection between our individual choices and the impact we have on others – whether that be our fellow human beings or the environment?

 

 

Spelt Bread with Figs and Walnuts

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The origins of this recipe stem from a Dove’s Farm recipe which I then modified.* It makes a  delicious, firm-textured loaf that is delicious sliced, toasted and spread with butter. It is equally tasty with a sweet or savoury topping (e.g. jam and cheese both work well!). A fabulous accompaniment to baked beans. In short – it rocks!

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Ingredients

1 tsp yeast (slow acting “traditional” yeast)
45 ml (3 Tbsps) warm water
500 grams wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey, sugar or agave syrp
300 ml lukewarm water
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil (cold-pressed virgin preferably)
130 grams dried figs, chopped to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) dice
80 grams walnuts broken up a bit (not too finely!)
60 ml (4 Tbsps) orange or apple juice

Method

1. Mix the yeast with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and leave for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and sugar.
3. Mix together the yeast mixture, olive oil and the 300 ml of lukewarm water.
4. Knead well for about five minutes until you have a smooth and pliable dough. I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this as I am lazy and it has a bread hook.
5. Leave the dough in a bowl covered with a cloth, in a draught-free place, to double in size.
6. Meanwhile put the chopped figs, walnuts and orange or apple juice in a small bowl and leave them to soak in the orange juice.
7. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, add the soaked figs and walnuts and work them through the dough, kneading firmly for several minutes.
8. Shape the dough and put it into an oiled 1kg/2lb bread tin or place it on an oiled baking sheet. I love a round loaf so I bake it in a small round spring-form pan which I lightly oil with olive oil.
9. Cover & leave dough to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place. On top of your water heater, above the fridge, the airing cupboard, etc., are all great locales that are usually warmer than the rest of your regular living space. At about the 30 minute mark, if the bread is rising nicely, you should turn your oven on to start pre-heating it.
10. When it has risen to a lovely size, it is time to bake – remember, once you put it in the oven the heat kills the yeast and it will not rise any further, so don’t put it in the oven until it is the size you are hoping for!
11. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes.
12. Remove from oven, COOL IN PAN for 10-15 minutes, then gently turn out onto rack to finish cooling.

Store in thick ziplock plastic bag or other airtight receptacle.

Re: Oven Temperature 

Oven 425°F (220°C)
Convection (Fan) oven:  425°F (200°C or Gas 7)

I baked it at about 375°F (fan oven) as it was browning too quickly – the baking temperature is not set in stone – everyone kind of knows their own oven and its idiosyncrocies , so adjust temperature (lower) as you see fit.

* The original recipe is found here: http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/fig-and-walnut-bread/

Delicious Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

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The other day I bought one of these.

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It was quite tasty. It has two ingredients, in pretty much 50-50 proportions: cashews and dates. That’s it. I paid 75p for it – that’s about $1.38 CAD ($1.10 US). For a 35 gram bar.

Looking at the ingredients, I thought, “I can make this myself. And it won’t cost even a fraction of that. So I did. I modified the recipe to what I had in the house already: a bag of organic brazil* nuts, a cranberry-raisin-date mixture, and some chia seeds. I threw everything into the food processor, shaped them, rolled them in unsweetened coconut and guess what? They taste even better than name branded raw cookie bars. Scrummy.

90 grams of dates (or mixed dried fruit)
130 grams brazil nuts
30 grams chia seeds
Unsweetened coconut (optional)
Whir in food processor until finely ground, sticking together and able to be shaped. (Depending on how moist the fruit is you may need to add a few drops of water.

Measure them out (about 35 grams per serving)
Shape into little logs. Optional – roll in unsweetened coconut. Keep covered in refrigerator.

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Those of you with a cat will be thinking what I’m thinking, but hey, they taste fabulous!

Do you make your own raw cookies or bars? Please share!

* Brazil nuts (like all nuts) are high in calories, but they are also high in a lot of trace minerals (in particular, selenium). And nut oils are good for you. So enjoy these treats in moderation.

Cauliflower “fried rice” recipe

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Looking for a different way to eat cauliflower? Trying to cut back on carbs? Or just want something ricey that isn’t rice? Try this – it is delicious!

Cauliflower-“fried rice” recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 small cauliflower
  • 1 spring onion (scallion)
  • 1 egg
  • Light olive oil (best olive oil for frying)
  • Sesame oil
  • Soy sauce
  • salt

Oil amounts depend on how big the cauliflower is. I always think it best to go as sparingly as you can with oil.

Method

1. Take the leaves off the cauliflower. Grate it (including the core) on the small holes of a box grater or use a food processor.

2. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Stir-fry the grated cauliflower and spring onion for 2-3 minutes, adding some salt. Don’t let it brown. Then cover, lower heat to minimum and allow to steam for 4-5 minutes. This will cook the cauliflower and infuse the spring onion flavour into it.

3. Take the cover off and raise the heat. Clear a circle in the middle of the pan. Add a bit more oil, let it heat for a few seconds, crack the egg into it and scramble it loosely. Let the egg set about halfway, then start stir-frying vigorously to mix the egg in with everything else.

4. Lower the heat. Add sesame oil and stir. Then add soy sauce. Taste to balance.

** Note: This version is quite mild-tasting – if you are in a more adventurous mood you could also add a bit of chilli pepper at the end to liven it up.

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VERSION 2 – which I didn’t make and I find the 3Tbsp of soya sauce to be a LOT of soya sauce and a lot of sodium, however if you are looking for one that tastes really Chinese I suspect this would be the ticket!

Cauliflower “fried rice” with veggies

  •  750 ml (3 cups) of grated raw cauliflower (use a cheese grater or food processor)
  •  25 ml (1/2 cup) frozen peas
  •  125 ml (1/2 cup) carrots, thinly sliced
  •   3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  •  125 ml (1/2 cup) onion, diced
  •  7.5 ml (1/2 Tbsp) olive oil
  •  2 eggs (or 4 egg whites) scrambled
  •  45 ml (3 Tbsp) soya sauce

Method

1. In a large pan, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil on medium high heat, until onions become soft and transparent. (about 2-3 minutes)

2. Next add in peas, and carrots and cook until carrots begin to soften and peas are heated through, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Next stir in scrambled eggs , cauliflower and soya sauce. Cook stirring frequently for about 5-7 more minutes.

Enjoy adding in your favourite protein and veg. Possible add-ins: baby corn, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, water chestnuts, chicken, tofu, and/or shrimp!

http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2013/03/cauliflower-fried-rice.html

Veggie Burgers – Fast and delicious!

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Delicious, nutritious comfort food for a chilly day. veggie burgers

These are Jaime Oliver’s “Happy Cow” burgers. Moo. Enjoy.

Veggie Burgers

Ingredients: throw into food processor:

  • 1 cup (240 grams) of mixed cooked beans (garbanzo, borlotti, kidney, cannelini, etc)*
  • 200 grams frozen broad beans
  • A clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • One small red onion – very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped tablespoon flour
  • Some grated zest of lemon (not too much)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper as per your liking
  • Chopped fresh parsley or coriander (a good handful)

:

Whir in food processor until chunkily combined.  Divide into four equal portions, form into patties (coat hands with a little flour to keep mixture workable)

Heat about 1 tsp (5ml) olive oil in a non-stick or ceramic frying pan.

Fry until golden. Serve on buns that have been gently warmed in the oven. Top with garnishes: lettuce, sliced tomatoes. sliced pickles, crumbled feta, thin onion slices – whatever you like on your burgers!  Lovely served with homemade coleslaw on the side.

* If using canned beans, ensure that you drain them well (and rinse as well if there are preservatives present). A 400 gram can will yield 240 grams of beans when drained.