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Category Archives: Food

The French Experiment

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Have you read ‘French Children Don’t Throw Food‘ by Pamela Druckerman? I did last year and it was so interesting to read about how children are raised in France. It certainly dispelled any mother-guilt about sending my child to daycare.

I’ve recently read ‘French Kids Eat Everything‘ by Karen Le Billon which is a similar story about a Canadian woman living in France with her French husband and two young children. It explores the relationship and attitudes that the French have with food and compares the French diet to the typical American/Canadian diet. Karen’s experimentation with the French way of eating doesn’t always go to plan and she fails time and time again to understand the French philosophy but with each failure she seems to get closer and closer to the truth of French eating habits. By the end of the book she has developed an appreciation for the French diet and her once picky children have broadened their palates to include seafood, olives, spinach and beetroot.

The French seem to have a strict authoritarian approach to food from birth and their appallingly low breast-feeding rates are not something I envy. However the stories contained in this book are encouraging when it comes to broadening children’s palates. Karen emphasises the French enjoyment of their food and the powerful persuasive nature of peer pressure in getting children to try new foods and enjoy them. There’s a delightful anecdote about a family dinner and the children’s table which is set apart from the adults and carefully decorated, where the children are left to eat together and the older children successfully encourage the younger children to eat seemingly ‘adult’ foods.

Reading’ French Kids Eat Everything‘ has encouraged me to stretch my daughter’s food preferences and the array of receipes at the back of this book have been so helpful. We’ve had several four course dinners as a result. Starting with soup, then bread & cheese, then a main and dessert. And while, there has certainly been more washing up, the joy of spending time as a family, instead of rushing through dinner to get back to TV has definitely been worth it. Oh, and I’ve finally been able to get my daughter to eat her greens!

Sophie’s Spinach Surprise 

  • 1 zucchini, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 or 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • optional: 1 tsp butter and, if the spinach is bitter, a small spoonful of honey
  1. Bring zucchini and water to the boil in a medium saucepan, simmer for a few minutes until zucchini becomes translucent.
  2. Add spinach leaves and allow to wilt for 1 or 2 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and blend

For more recipes visit Karen’s website: http://karenlebillon.com/

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Garden Club @ Freestyle Tout

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For those of you who don’t know, Freestyle Tout is one of Brisbane’s premier dessert cafes. This year they’ve managed to combine two of my great loves: food + gardening.  The garden club meets every second month and each meeting will include expert advice from guest presenters.

The first event this year ‘Growing a Compact Garden’ was held yesterday with guest presenter Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica. Linda has over twenty years experience teaching gardening and her list of qualifications is very impressive. What’s more she was friendly, professional and was more than happy to share her wealth of knowledge with myself and other attendees .

I arrived on time at 10am and easily found a carpark right outside the cafe – a nice surprise for a Sunday morning. Unsurprisingly, the carpark was full by the time I left at midday.

After introductions we got straight into the gardening as Linda explained how to repurpose wicker baskets as herb gardens. Then we had the chance to make our own eco pots:

And were given tips on growing our own water chesnuts:

We were also lucky enough to sample a generous collection of teeny tiny sweet delights and coffee. There were chocolate brownies, heart shaped choc-dipped biscuits, lemon meringue tarts and mousse-filled raspberry & white chocolate cups. Divine!

All-in-all it was a great way to spend a relaxed Sunday morning and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

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Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

Raspberry, Banana & Coconut Bread

I baked this lovely little morsel for tonight’s Brisbane Transition Hub get together. More to come about that later, but for now, here’s the recipe:

1 3/4 cup SR flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut cream
50g melted butter
1/4 cup plain flour
2 large bananas, mashed
2 eggs, whisked
100g frozen raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease and line loaf pan with baking paper
2. Sift flours together & add sugar
3. In a separate bowl, combine bananas, eggs, milk & butter
4. Stir in thawed raspberries
5. Pour wet mixture into the flour & sugar & stir until combined
6. Pour into a loaf tin & cover with greased foil to stop overbrowning
7. Cook for 45-50mins or until firm. Turn out once cool

Notes: Instead of using raspberries, you can use any fresh or frozen berries that you have in stock. You could also substitute finely diced dried fruit for something different. I use 2 cups of plain flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder rather than using 1 3/4 cup SR flour & 1/4 cup plain flour. I also don’t use the greased foil, as I don’t buy or use alfoil or glad wrap.

Trying to Grow Kang Kong

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Kang Kong & Broccolini

Kang Kong & Broccolini

Eat more green leafy vegetables. That’s what all the health experts tell us. Sometimes it’s not easy when you pay so much and then they wilt so quickly in the fridge.

Greeny leafy vegetables are something I really want to be able to grow successfully in my garden. However, I haven’t had much luck so far. Bright lime green Caterpillars ate most of my last attempts at growing salad vegetables last winter. There’s also the fact that many traditional green leafies are not exactly suitable for subtropical weather.

Then I stumbled upon Asian greens, in particular Kang Kong, or water spinach as it is also known. This green leafy is a semi-aquatic plant from the Morning Glory family and is well suited to the sub-tropical climate here in Brisbane.

After watching Phil Dudman’s Growing Kang Kong video I thought I would give it a try and went out to buy some.

The photo above shows a rather large bunch of Kang Kong which was bought from a local Asian grocery store for $1.20 AU. The small bunch of broccolini was bought on the same day from the local supermarket for $3.00 AU. I am still confounded how there can be such a price/volume difference.

My growing attempts were thwarted though as I watched the Kang Kong miserably shrivel up and wilt in the vase of water I attempted to grow it in. This is obviously not going to be quite so simple as growing spring onions in water.

A New Relaxing Spot to Start the New Year

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front verandah

Front verandah

Since the dog has taken over the backyard (and made a mess of my gardening attempts in the process) I’ve decided to concentrate on the front yard until our puppy settles down.

First things first, we bought a new outdoor setting for the front verandah and celebrated with a mini-date while our toddler slept.

Cakemaking

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This afternoon I decided to bake a lemon ricotta cake. With the sugar and butter creamed, the egg yolks added, the lemon juice & rind as well as the flour combined, I realised I needed to beat the egg whites. Unfortunately I’d just been using the electric mixer so it was covered in batter. Instead of washing the beaters and taking the time to carefully dry them (any trace of water the the egg whites won’t stiffen) I grabbed out the whisk and thought I would give it a go. You understand the reasoning here right? I was too lazy to wash the electric beaters and I thought it would be easier to hand whisk the egg whites. And in about 5 minutes I had perfectly whipped snow white froth and a thorough workout. The cake didn’t fare so well in the oven. After cutting off the base it tasted fine although it was a bit dry. Fresh raspberries from the markets made up for it though.

Making Bread

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There’s something warm and comforting about the aroma of freshly baked bread. It’s a familiarity with the past and the generations of women before us who woke before the break of dawn to bake the bread before the family woke up. I’m sure there was a lot of poetic love that went into those loaves. And I’m certain there would have been many tears of exhaustion as well. While I’m lucky enough to live in a time when I can simply drive to the store and purchase everything I need and practically anything I could want, I can’t help but appreciate those women and their efforts to provide for their families the only way they were allowed. Through their efforts in the kitchen and the home.

Reading Rhonda Hetzel’s blog Down to Earth has inspired me to try baking bread. Now that I make my bed most morning it seems like a logical next step to the day. I found this quick and easy recipe on the web and it turned out delicious drizzled with a little golden syrup.