happy mouth breakfast – a five am moment

This morning, I had a proper Sunday weekend breakfast.

Here’s what I did. I sauteed an onion, a couple cloves garlic, some green capsci and one very small potato in butter and olive oil. (Mmm, smell that garlic!)

Place that one aside for later.

I then used the same pan and melted some more butter, added cream and reduced it a little. I stirred in a handful of baby spinach (I heard someone kinda likes baby spinach… just a little… I’ve been CRAVING greens the whole week) and cracked an egg in, to poach for a couple of minutes. (Idea from NY Times via… someone? I can’t remember who posted about this! I feel it was a passing mention.. sorry!)

While that was going on, I made coffee, in my coffee bowl. It’s really nice to drink coffee out of a bowl, you know? Mine’s actually a ramekin I got from Spotlight. I feel it will become a large part of my future. I’m totally sitting here, sipping hot chocolate out of it RIGHT NOW.

Mmm. Chocolate.

Now put the cream sauce with spinach and poached egg in the same bowl as the ‘breakfast hash’ (thanks Joy the Baker for the idea!), add a couple spoons of yoghurt to the mix (Greek style being my favourite and a perfect accompaniment, I have to admit. I don’t think any other flavour would be right. But hey, your choice:) and when you take your first bite, don’t be surprised if you have a foodgasm.

Oh my giddy aunt.

Now, to be honest, I didn’t eat this at five am. I didn’t even get up at five am. It’s doubtful you’ll ever see me up at five am unless it’s absolutely necessary. But a five am moment is when you create your day. When you sit down to your breakfast and you are proud of what you are eating because it’s organic, local, good for you and most importantly, delicious.

I have never understood people who don’t eat breakfast. If I don’t eat breakfast, everyone within a ten metre radius knows it because my stomach announces it to the world about an hour after I’m up. A delicious breakfast is the perfect way to start the day. Most of the time, I’m in a rush and so I have a bowl of muesli (the only cereal I eat. And the only pre-made muesli I’ve bought that I’ve liked is Carman’s. Just saying.) or some toast and a coffee. And only the coffee if a)I have time and b)I know I won’t be getting coffee where I’m going. I get it free at work, see, and I figure the less I drink, the better it is for me. It’s a treat. A daily treat, yes, but a once only daily treat.

five:am yoghurt is the brand I bought most recently, and the write-up in Epicure was why. I wanted to find out more so I read this article, but the basic scoop is that five:am yoghurt is made from organic milk and comes from farms that are free from pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. The yoghurt itself is free from gluten, gelatin, preservatives and starches and has no artificial colours, flavours, stabilisers or sweeteners.  It’s absolutely amazing. My breakfast was a party in my mouth, I’m telling you. And made all the better knowing that the owner of five:am yoghurt has a background in sustainable packaging. Yays!

Make yourself some awesome breakfast this week. If not for you, then for me. Please?

Party for One Breakfast

1 small brown onion, peeled, halved and sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

1 side of a small greed capscicum, diced

1 small washed potato, sliced thinly

1/2 cup cream

handful washed baby spinach

1 large egg

2 tablespoons yoghurt

Saute the onion and garlic about a minute in 1 tablespoon butter. Add capsci and potato and fry about five to ten minutes, until the potato is tender.

Scoop into a bowl and set aside.

Melt remaining butter in the same pan. Add cream and simmer a few minutes, reducing the cream. Stir in spinach and crack in egg. Carefully ladle some of the cream over the top of the egg and poach about three minutes.

Slide spinach and cream with egg onto the hash mixture. Add yoghurt and enjoy.

day three – part two – LBTL

One of the things that was really difficult for me this week was that in living below the line, I was doing probably as much harm as good. Sure, I’m raising money for ant-poverty initiatives, for education to help people get out of the cycle of poverty, something better than just throwing money at the problem and thinking that’s my bit done. This is a way to help change my outlook on life so that I think about my actions and how in every way I can do better, in every way I can act righteously (more on that later). It’s made me think and it’s made others think. I’ve had some really interesting discussions regarding whether people can buy me food (no) does this mean it’s ok for me to steal (no) does free food, such as from food vans, count (yes) can I use the veggies from my garden (unsure, but we’ll say no just in case) and it all basically revolves around the fact that I’m not just doing this because I have to, it’s a choice to raise awareness for myself and others.

These are all good things that happen because of this initiative. But to live on less than two dollars a day in Australia, I’m supporting organisations I don’t like or want to support. I’m buying unethical produce.

See, to afford enough food to feed myself for this week, I had to buy no-name brands. Flour, butter, pasta. Sure, I got my fresh food from the fruit and veggie market, but only because it was on special – in the discounted section. I was lucky in that way. But what home brands do, the brands like coles smart buy or Woolworths home brand or Black & Gold, they lower their prices, get monopoly over the market, then when it’s all theirs, they’ll jack up their prices so they get more and more money, while conning the producer out of what’s theirs.

And that’s just a part of it. So while I love what Live Below the Line are doing in terms of awareness and projects, it kinda sucks in this sense.

I don’t know what the answer is. We do what we can, and we let God take care of the rest. Although I have to say, what we can do is much more than we give ourselves credit for. We make so many excuses but we could be doing so much more for those less fortunate than ourselves.

I mentioned in my earlier post today about the fact that I have lots of food and everyone, while it’s lovely that they’re taking notice and caring about whether or not I’ll faint, doesn’t really get it. I feel like I’m cheating a little, because I really do have enough food. That said, it’s less than what I’m used to and I have to ask myself, how much of the time do I eat just because I feel like it and how much because I’m actually hungry? I’m not saying that eating is bad – I love food, and I love eating. I often eat too much just because it all tastes so good. But we complain (and by we I mean me) about the lack of this or the fact that we have to have our second-favourite flavour milkshake or whatever, and we’re just covering up the fact that we’re spoilt, western brats.

But we do what we can. And we’re all working on our personal issues and hang-ups. No one is perfect; we just strive to follow Jesus as closely as we can.

Flatbread

Adapted from Julie Goodwin’s LBL recipe

300g plain flour

30g butter

Water

Sift the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle. Melt 20g of the butter and place in the well, and add water (not too much). Stir, adding more water if needed, until it’s shaggy and mostly stuck in clumps. Knead until it forms a smooth ball.

Melt the rest of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Take a small piece of dough and stretch it out (you can roll in if you want it to end up a little prettier) until it’s fairly thin, and fry in the butter. Repeat with the rest of the dough (you can fry several flatbreads at a time).

Dip in your soup and imagine a better world. It can happen!

day three – LBTL

I dreamt about food last night. I think it was a sort of Masterchef type deal, where you had to make a meal out of what they had there. I don’t remember it much, except the food was delicious.

See, the funny thing is that everyone assumes that you just don’t eat much on Live Below the Line, but there really is enough food for five days. Most of it’s carbohydrates, yes, it’s not all nutritionally the best for you, but there’s plenty. There’s even taste in most of it, from the garlic, the natural sweetness of the fruit, the salted butter. Not much variety, but there isn’t often variety in many people’s food.

The problem here is, that the people who live below the extreme poverty line, those that actually live on $2 a day, day in, day out – they don’t get to spend it all on food. They have to spread it out between food, bills, transport, medicine, every little expenditure throughout the day.

How can we let this happen in our world? How can we make someone choose between feeding her whole family or allowing one child to live, sacrificing meals for medicine? Walking kilometres to get to a source of clean water that won’t make them all sick. Sharing a tap with 200 other people, eating the same food, day in, day out, and very little of it, too.

‘In order for evil to flourish, all that is required is for good men to do nothing.’ – Edward Burke

What I am doing is a small, small effort. But it is an effort. And I am continually striving to turn my life to God, and to people – to do better every day.

Please make an effort. Donate here.

And thank you to all who have already donated – it means so much to see that people care.

Pumpkin and Potato Pasta

This is another of my staple meals. As you can see, lots of carbs for energy, but not much protein. I think that spinach would make a good addition, pine nuts, salt and pepper and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Take out some of the potato, perhaps. But it does smell good – all that garlic!

250g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cubed

500g potato, scrubbed, cubed

30g butter

3 cloves garlic

250g pasta (I used large spirals)

Chop garlic finely. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and fry the garlic, pumpkin and potato until crispy and tender (I think perhaps baking would work better, but this was fine for me).

Heat a large saucepan 2/3 full of water until boiling, and tip the pasta in. Cook approximately 7 minutes.

Add about a cup of starchy pasta water to the pumpkin and potatoes. Drain the pasta and combine the two. Eat immediately, while still hot, with thoughts of starving children on your mind.

day one – LBTL

Day one of living below the line of extreme poverty.

Feeling in stomach – surprisingly full

Feeling in mind – weird

Feeling in soul – quirky.

So, day one. I got up at about nine because I had to make soup for lunch and dinner before I went to work. For starters, I don’t generally bring lunch to work, because I get to eat there for free. Also, I find it odd making soup at nine in the morning.

Anyway. So I made my soup, I made my flatbread, I ate my previously stewed apples and pears – I stewed them last night because I knew I’d need them for my breakfast – and I drank my black tea.

It’s a surreal experience, working around food but not getting to eat any of it. I mean, I don’t usually eat much of it, but I am allowed coffee when I want it, and I get to make my lunch out of pretty much anything I’d like in the fridges and freezers. The thing I think I’m most missing at the moment are sweets – I couldn’t afford sugar and I am so looking forward to breakfast because it means apples and pears, and the natural sugars in them. Hooray!

What I’m not looking forward to is breakfast at six in the morning and being hungry again four hours later. I’ve had to factor in a flatbread snack so I don’t faint. Or something.

Tonight I was at a TEAR young adults action group meeting and we were talking about just war. I’m not going to get into the whole discussion at the moment, because it would take up the whole post (and then some) but we got to talking about how the small things matter too: in peacetime, when the authorities take everything they can from those they rule over, just because they can. How my food choices, my lifestyle choices, are the direct or indirect result of violence, and how violence needs to be reversed not just in war-torn countries but in our country, in our cities, our communities, our lives and our mindsets. We need to think differently than we do now, or nothing will change. Thanks to campaigns like Live Below the Line, to organisations like the Oaktree foundation and Avaaz, we can. We can try to change our minds, and then we might see changes in the wider sphere, and maybe even our world one day.

So my mind is whirling through all these things, but my feeling is a little blank. My soul. I don’t know if by doing this I’m doing anything – I know that I’m raising awareness and money and all that but I don’t feel changed by this experience. I suppose this is the result of my instant gratification culture, the way I’ve been accustomed to getting what I want, when I want. I have to be patient and remember that it’s not about me. It’s about the people in Papua New Guinea who don’t have the luxuries I do. Like microwaves, ovens, lights, kettles. Maybe they do, I don’t know enough about their situations, but I was thinking as I made my tea this morning, maybe this is too easy.

Thoughts to ponder, for sure, but for now, I am grateful for a full belly and the promise of another tomorrow. And thankful for a lovely soup which I didn’t expect to be as satisfying as it was.

Please donate, once again! It goes to education initiatives in Papua New Guinea, to help the people help themselves out of poverty. It’s a long road, but it’s worth it.

Roast Pumpkin and Potato Soup

500g pumpkin, deseeded, peeled, cubed

250g potato, washed, cubed (skin on)

2 cloves garlic

20g butter, melted

Toss the cubed pumpkin and potato in the butter and place on a baking tray, in one layer, with the peeled garlic cloves. Roast at about 220ºC for about twenty minutes. Take out and place in a pot (I melted the butter in a pot, tossed the pumpkin and potato in it and then returned the roasted vegies to the same pot). Cover with water and blend with a stick blender. Serve with flatbread.

leek and potato soup

Ah, leek and potato soup. How I adore you.

I was at my sister’s house on Friday night, and we made this soup. It’s cold over here in Melbourne, and soup is definitely on the agenda, but this soup was so good, I made it twice. Tonight, also, see, because it was my turn to cook.

I love sharing a house and being able to cook for each other. Apart from my housemates being great for when I get into a baking frenzy and start cooking batch after batch of cookies, sharing a meal together is one of my favourite parts about this house.

This soup is filling, it’s very vegetable-y, it can vary by creaminess should you be so inclined to do so (adding more cream, as in our house, or less cream. Like no-one I know would.) And it tastes amazing. Especially should you get sourdough bread and rip it apart with your hands, like heathens, and dip it in.

YUM.

This is especially comforting, knowing that next week I will be living below the line. The poverty line, that is. For five days, I will be spending less than $2 a day on my meals. Less than $2! That’s not much, especially in today’s consumer society. If you’d like to donate money to a great cause, my fundraising page is over here. The money goes to education projects in Papua New Guinea to get people out of poverty for good.

So I was thinking about dinner tonight, and about what I’ll probably be having for dinner for the next week, and I’m telling myself to toughen up because you know what? It’s five days. And that’s not long at all. So I’ll be fine. However, many people in Third World countries, and even in a First World country like Australia, won’t be.

Although I really wouldn’t want to be my housemates come Thursday week. Because me without coffee? Not a great look. If I can scrounge around for some teabags, they may be ok. Maybe.

Potato and Leek Soup

On Friday night we used a recipe; tonight I winged it. It’s pretty easy, but the original recipe is here, if you’re interested.

Adapted from Taste.com

Slosh of olive oil

1 large brown onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 leeks, chopped

4 potatoes (We used Desiree), peeled and cubed

1.25 litres boiling water

1/2 stock cube (optional)

1/4 cup cream (more if needed)

Sourdough bread, to serve

Heat the oil in the bottom of a large heavy based saucepan. Add the garlic and onion and cook over low heat until soft. Add the leek and potato and cook until the leek is soft, stirring often.

Fill the pot with the boiling water, until it just about covers the vegetables. Stir in the stock cube. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat, and gently simmer until potatoes are soft, about twenty minutes. Blend with a stick blender; add the cream and blend to combine. Serve with the bread and more cream, to taste.

pie

It’s the first recipe for pie that I’m posting so it gets the awesome label of simply pie. It was pretty good, actually – well, that and the company. I come from a big family so I’m used to having people around the house. I was house sitting this past week and while it was lovely to have some alone time and just veg out, I like to be around people. So when the family got back, I made pie. And salad. And we had wine and cheeses and a beautiful evening.

It’s one of those things you can cut into hefty wedges and take to uni for lunch, or just as equally dress up with salad for dinner (as we did.) You could have it for breakfast; those eggs really do wonders. I can also envisage this pie being a hit at picnics, alongside a potato salad, punch, gingham patterned tablecloth serving as a picnic blanket and a beautiful sunny day.

To make this pie, you will need a fluted removable bottom tart pan, which is the most awesome name for a kitchen utensil I think I’ve ever heard – well, that and mandolin, because it sounds like something you should be making music with, and instead you’re making fuel for the making of the music…

And while you’re making this, listen to music. I had Washington on the CD player – I’ve already explained, I think, how much I love sunday best, but the whole album is awesome, and very danceable.

And so. To pie.

Egg and Spring Onion Pie

You could make this pie with leeks or onions or shallots instead of spring onions. You could add bacon, if you aren’t vegetarian, or several different herbs. I would suggest using a different dough; mine was very crumbly and stuck to the pan, although I imagine you could rectify the crumbliness at least by adding more butter or water. I’m imagining a sour cream based one and my taste buds are moaning at me because I didn’t think of it earlier. You probably also don’t really need a lid, so if you don’t want to use one, don’t stress too much. I’d just make sure the eggs are on top.

Take a bowl. Place 1 2/3 cups of sifted (if you like – I generally don’t bother:) plain flour and 250g chopped cool butter in. Rub the butter in with your fingers until it’s dough-like, then gather into a ball. If it’s too crumbly (as I mentioned, mine was) add some iced water until it gathers properly. Rest in the fridge for about 20min.

Roll out 2/3 of the dough in between two sheets of baking paper, and carefully put into that tart pan, gently pressing into the edges. Trim the edges, leaving about 1cm overhanging to account for shrinkage. Place into the freezer for 20mins to rest the dough. Roll the rest of the dough in between the sheets to about a 22cm (or however big your tart pan is) circle, and place in the fridge. This will be your lid.

Take off the outer leaves of a large bunch of spring onions and finely chop. Melt 60g of butter in a large frying pan and add the onion. Cook until wilted and translucent. Take off heat.

Finely chop a small bunch of parsley (I used curly leaf because that’s what we had in the garden. I’m sure it doesn’t matter which you use.) and scatter in the bottom of the tart shell. Add half the spring onions. Crack 9 eggs in. I pierced the yolks and swirled it around a bit because I like the marbled effect, but you could just as easily not, or even whisk them and pour them in. Scatter the remaining spring onions over the top of the eggs. Place the lid carefully on top and crimp the edges together with your fingers, breaking off the excess. Whisk one egg lightly and brush over the lid; make some slits in the lid with a sharp knife and place in a pre-heated 180ºC oven for about 35mins. Serve with salad and white wine, or something equally amazing.

Happy Tuesday.

sugar, baby

I like to cook to music. Today I made scones, lemon curd and meringues, all from the Masterchef Cookbook (Volume One – from the first season. The first season in Australia, I should add. I couldn’t find a copy in Amazon OR on the official website, so it’s just a link to the website at the moment. Sorry!) I am a huge sweet tooth, in case you couldn’t tell – for instance, meringues, for you poor unfortunates who live under rocks, are basically sugar and egg white.  I think that the egg whites are there to make the sugar stand up on it’s own two feet, because basically it’s just SUGAR, all the way.  But that’s ok.

Back to the cooking to music – for my scone lemon curd meringue marathon (well… ) I listened to The Cat Empire’s So Many Nights – I feel that TCE (apart from being my favourite band in the world) make the best music for cooking to. I have yet to find someone who can best them for getting me upbeat when I’m down, as well. I am a big comfort eater, I have to admit, but cooking and music always cheer me up. In fact, for dinner I had one of my favourite (savoury) comfort foods: poached eggs. Thanks to Kickpleat over at Everybody Likes Sandwiches for the perfect way to poach eggs.

Happy January 2.

Buttermilk Scones

I used buttermilk instead of milk in this recipe because I had it on hand and also, I think it gives a great taste. However, I added more than the recipe called for because it was too dry. Just add as much as you feel is right without you having to overwork the dough – the death sentence for scones. Also, I like to cut my scones into triangles, because then you don’t have to re-roll the scraps.

Makes 6-8 largeish triangle scones

2 1/2 cups s.r. flour

30g butter, room temperature

1 cup buttermilk

milk to brush over

jam and cream, to serve. or butter and jam. or lemon curd, below.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a large oven tray with baking paper. Sift the flour from a height into a bowl and rub the butter in. Make a well and add the buttermilk; cut in with a knife. Turn the bowl out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead together. Flatten into a large disc shape and cut with a sharp knife into six or eight triangles. Alternatively, you could cut circles out with a cookie cutter; use a rolling pin if you like, but I don’t like to make more dishes than I need to. Place onto the baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. (The recipe suggested 12-15; I checked at twelve minutes and put them in for another eight. Use your discretion and your knowledge of your oven.) Serve with any or all of the above suggested accompaniments.

Lemon Curd

I would probably add more lemon juice than I did today; I didn’t have many options, our tree only just squeezed out three lemons as it was. However, I do suggest you use home-grown lemons. If you don’t have a tree yourself, ask around, they tend to hide in people’s backyards. Or side yards.

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

3/4 cup caster sugar

1/4 tbsp cornflour

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

juice of 3 lemons

125g butter, chopped

Whisk together eggs, yolks, sugar and cornflour until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in zest and juice then place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (half a lemon in the saucepan will mean that the water doesn’t leave any discolouration on your pan) without letting the bowl touch the water. Stir in one piece of butter at a time, waiting until it melts before adding the next piece; the curd is done when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I find it useful to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl at intervals. It should look like a large, sunny egg yolk. Very large. Cool and spoon into a wide-mouthed jar, package up with a gingham square and a pretty label and give to your neighbour as a gift.

Meringues

This was part of a larger recipe for Aussie Mess, based on Eton Mess – add cream and seasonal fruits and a coulis, and voila! Pudding. Or dessert, as we Aussies would say. I piped them into large nest-like shapes, to be piled with cream and berries; I’ve also seen tiny meringues served at a café with the hot drinks. Very cute.

6 egg whites

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 120°C and line two large baking trays with non-stick paper. Beat the egg whites with electric beaters until soft peaks form; add sugar gradually (very gradually – you don’t want grainy bits. Let the sugar dissolve.) and beat until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Pipe or spoon onto prepared trays and place in oven for five minutes. Reduce heat to 100°C and bake a further 45 minutes.