In a rhubarb pickle*

Preserving

Today I decided to try my hand at using a fruit in a pickle and as a result it all turned out rather well. I would probably use this for red meat such as beef, lamb, venison etc…

Here is my version of Rhubarb Pickle

Ingredients

1 1/2 to 2 cups of raw chopped rhubarb

4 small pickling onions

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon allspice powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons celery salt (or to taste)

1 1/2 cups coconut vinegar

Method

  1. Chop up the onions and rhubarb into small pieces
  2. Sterilise jar as per instructions in previous recipe
  3. Put onions and rhubarb in a large pot
  4. Add celery salt, cinnamon, cayenne powder, sugar, allspice, and vinegar
  5. Stir ingredients until well combined
  6. Bring to a boil and stir often and then reduce the heat
  7. Cook until the ingredients thicken (this can take up to forty minutes)
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Long weekend

Preserving

This weekend is a long weekend for those of us who live further south of the North Island. I popped into my local charity shop that was open on Saturday morning and then later on I continued my journey down the road to my little supermarket where I picked up a few cuts of meat and some fresh fruit and vegetables. I didn’t need much but as it was a somewhat warm day I asked if my meat could be wrapped so it didn’t spoil on my journey home.

After putting most of groceries away I then unwrapped my meat. It was wrapped in newspaper and as I don’t read the main one here, I often read it online nowadays as it saves me a few bob or two. After putting the meat away I took a look at the paper and it was there I saw a pickle recipe that caught my attention. I love making preserves and are always on the look out for trying new recipes. This one looked similar to a piccalili recipe that I had made a few years ago.

My friend had popped into to see me earlier in the week and gave me a rather large zucchini which was now possibly a marrow, some beans, rosemary cuttings and some rhubarb, all of which made a lovely gift. I ate the beans earlier in the week and thought this would make a brilliant recipe for my zucchini. I just chopped it into small pieces and added some chopped carrots, a shallot and three pickling onions chopped into the mix. The result was beautiful. Thank you to Nicola Galloway from The Dominion Post for this recipe. Her website can be located on http://www.homegrown-kitchen.co.nz

Here’s what I did following parts of the recipe to cater for my vegetables and what I had available in my pantry.

Ingredients

Per kilogram of produce

100 g salt (I added about four tablespoons of Himalayan Rock Pink Salt)

1 litre of water (I filled my blue oval bucket with water once it covered my vegetables -oops!)

1 kg summer produce 🥕🥒🥦🍆🍠🥔 I added my overgrown zucchini, onions, shallot, and three picking onions…or did I add four?

Mustard pickling sauce

2 cups of apple cider vinegar (I use this all the time so I only had a cup or so left so I also added a cup of coconut vinegar) both had the ‘mother’ and I often buy good quality vinegars when I pickle.

1 cup of water

1/4 cup of sugar – I added a wee bit more to adjust to my taste

1 tablespoon of dried mustard powder

2 tablespoons of flour – I used cornflour and another tablespoon mixed into the vinegar and sugar mix

1 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds (I had run out so I used a teaspoon of my panch poran mix which includes mustard seeds in its spice mix)

1 tablespoon ground fenugreek or mild curry powder (I used my ground fenugreek)

1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

Method

  1. First weigh the vegetables to determine the total salt quantity (per kilogram use 100g salt to 1 litre of water, be careful if you are using rock salt 🧂 like I did, it should be salty but not overdone. Rock salt is very different to use than ordinary salt and you will use less due to its rock size grains
  2. Prepare the soaking brine by combining salt and water in a bowl, stir to dissolve the salt
  3. Cut the produce into bite size pieces and add to the brine. Cover and keep vegetables submerged and leave to soak overnight or for at least eight hours. I left them for about six hours due to the salt I was using
  4. Make the pickling sauce. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer
  5. In a jug, combine the flour and spices and add a scoop (about one cup) hot vinegar mixture, stirring to make a paste. Drizzle the paste into the hot vinegar and whisk over a gentle heat until slightly thickened
  6. Fill another large saucepan with boiling water, bring to a rapid boil. Drain and rinse the brined vegetables and add to the pan.
  7. Blanch for 2-3 minutes, the aim is to retain some crunch to the vegetables.
  8. Drain in colander and pack hot vegetables into hot sterilised jars. Pour over the hot pickling sauce to within 5mm of the top of the jar, clean the rim with a wet cloth and secure the lids.

Preserving directions

To safety preserve this pickle you can use the hot jar, hot liquid method or use a water bath if making a larger batch. First clean and sterilise jars, either place on a tray in the oven set at 120 degrees Celsius for ten minutes (boil lids for ten minutes) or boil jars and lids in a large pot of water for ten minutes (this is what I do).

Carefully drain and air dry on a dish rack, use oven gloves 🧤 to handle the jars and sit them on a wooden board or bench, not a cool tile/concrete surface as the difference in temperature could result in breakage. Leave filled jars to cool completely then check the lids are inverted to create a vacuum seal.

Store in a cool dark place and use within six months. Once opened store pickle in the fridge and consume within the month.

If you end up with a jar that’s not quite full secure the hot lid and invert the jar to cool. This will ensure the cooling pickle creates a vacuum seal.

Pretty darn close*

Vegetarian Recipes

Today I decided to make a meat free dinner and go vegetarian. I had a stash of my trusty TVP in the pantry and thought of the bolognaise that I would make.

Having not made in awhile I decided to try it out in my slow cooker after I had rehydrated the TVP. This time I added what I had available and it came out with something like this. It tastes good too but I have to remind myself to add extra seasoning to it otherwise the whole thing will taste very bland.

Here is what I did 😊

Ingredients

1 cup TVP mince

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 small carrot, finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced,

1/2 cup of pumpkin, finely diced

1 can of canned diced tomatoes

1 to 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1/2 cup of tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

sprinkle each of celery and onion salt to taste

1/2 cup of water/vegetable stock

Spaghetti noodles

Grated Parmesan or any other cheese suitable for the sauce

Method

Rehydrate TVP as per instructions

Finely dice up veggies and add to slow cooker. Turn slow cooker on low and then add the garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and seasonings. Add the TVP and give the ingredients a good stir.

Cook bolognaise for at least a good six to eight hours in the slow cooker and giving it a stir every time you go into your kitchen.

Cook spaghetti 🍝 noodles as per instructions

Grate cheese

Drain spaghetti when cooked and put on a plate and serve it with the bolognaise and a sprinkle of cheese 🧀 on top.

Vegetarian Bolognaise Sauce

Ewey gooey

Puddings

Several years ago I dated a like minded foodie like me. The relationship went on for six years but in the end he ran off back to a woman he knew as a teenager and I was left rather heartbroken as I cared very much for him despite our differences we shared.

Dating another foodie can either be wonderful or downright disastrous depending on the couple. My foodie man and I had an up and down kind of romantic relationship but when it came to food we enjoyed spoiling one another with culinary treats and watching all the food shows that we could muster. Being thirteen years older than me he shared dishes with me that I wasn’t familiar with and being thirteen years younger I certainly gave him a fair share of delicious food too. One of our highlights for the year was going to the annual book fairs every year. He would go one way and I would go another and then we would meet up later and share our finds with one another. Suffice to say my Recipe book collection grew as a result of our finds over the years.

One recipe that stood out for me was a recipe his mother gave him for a Chocolate Self Sauce Pudding that we often had in the winter with real cream or vanilla ice cream. It was decadent and it was often after we had a roast dinner or something Asian as my beau was known to make.

Although I never did get the recipe from him my guess is it was something a bit like this. This one is one you can make either in the microwave (which he never did) or in the oven.

This recipe comes from one of Alison Holst’s recipe book Easy Inexpensive Family Meals. Alison is probably one of New Zealand’s best loved cooks. She has retired now but has written several family cookbooks over the years including several with her son Simon, who has continued writing and cooking great family favourites.

Chocolate 🍫 Self Sauce Pudding

Makes six servings

Ingredients

3/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups Self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/4 cup of canola oil

1 cup of milk

Sauce

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup of white sugar

1 1/4 cups of boiling water

Method

To bake conventionally, preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

  1. Measure the sugar, cocoa powder, flour and salt into a 2.5 litre oven proof or microwaveproof casserole dish (he used large ramekins).
  2. Break the egg into another small bowl. Add the oil and milk and whisk together, then pour into flour mixture in the casserole dish and stir gently until just combined (avoid over mixing as this will toughen the pudding).
  3. To make the sauce, stir together the cocoa powder and the sugar in a small bowl. Add the boiling water and stir together until the sugar dissolves, then pour over the pudding batter in the dish.
  4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the centre feels firm when pressed gently, or cover and microwave on HIGH (100%) power for 8 – 10 minutes or until done (test as above).

Two years ago…

Thoughts on Food

Two years ago I had visions for this blog but unfortunately like my most successful blog The Bookaholic Bookworm I have not written in it for sometime. While designing my employers website last year reminded me of how much I have missed WordPress and it’s only until now I realised that I should be get back into it again.

Today I am using my iPad which sometimes is much better than digging the laptop out and spending ages on it trying to work out whether the theme looks good or not. On my iPad I just write and away I go, adding photos along the way. Whilst building my employers site, I wished he had agreed to WordPress but his concern was whether it would meet our target audience in China and so I built a very successful website from scratch adding our company products and sharing them. I was very proud of that website until he told me that some audiences in China could not see it and then he decided to get a company to design it for us instead forgetting the long hours and thought I had put into it.

It was around then I was looking at leaving anyway because I had often felt like a glorified babysitter to his business while he was away. Dealing with major government organisations and trying to get a business off the ground can be challenging but with my Chinese employer I felt he was dodging some of them particularly Export New Zealand when I suggested we go on some of their courses to learn how to do business here and over there.

So when I did leave I knew that I could build a website from scratch but I also knew I had blogs on here and I liked the way they looked, updating The Bookaholic Bookworm‘s page but not adding any new information.

Today from the comfort of my Bentwood chair at my kitchen table in my kitchen I have decided to write again, I have bought a new house and moved four hours away to pastures new and while I have this opportunity now I can write again about food and food related matters that interest me. I have linked my Twitter page to this blog so let’s see what happens from here. What started off as a collection of my own original recipes may develop into one in which I also find recipes that I like and may have made. Although I am not vegetarian, I have several recipes that I have created over the years that are vegetarian based. This blog will cover many different cuisines so be prepared for the odd meat based meal or a pickle recipe I have found etc…

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Feta Salad

Asparagus Salad with Feta and Oranges*

Vegetarian Recipes

This was a dish that I discovered a long time ago in a Vegetarian cafe that has since closed down. I didn’t need to ask for the recipe as I could pick up all of the flavours as I ate it and have remembered it ever since. It goes something like this…

Ingredients

1 bunch of asparagus

2 large sweet naval oranges

half a cup of feta cheese

small handful of black olives, stoned

Olive oil

salt and pepper

black sesame seeds

Method

Cook asparagus until tender in plenty of salted water and set aside to cool.

Peel and cut up oranges into segments taking off the skin. Reserve one segment and place with the asparagus in a bowl. Cut up the feta cheese and sprinkle the fruit and the asparagus and sprinkle the juice from the one orange segment over the vegetables and fruit, feta and olives. Drizzle over a little olive oil and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Salt and pepper to taste and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Sarah’s Vegetable Salad*

Vegetarian Recipes

1FBDB125-0FE1-412B-BEAF-E599938A3B7D.jpegMy sister Sarah made a similar dish like this for my brother Rob’s birthday one year which was really tasty and filling. I decided to recreate it myself and this is what I did.

Ingredients

2 medium kumara (sweet potato) peeled and cut into chunks

1 large red onion, peeled and cut into chunks about the same size as the kumara

3 medium carrots, as above

1 cup of pumpkin or butternut squash, as above

2 medium parsnips, cut into chunks (optional) and peeled

1 cup of cooked spiral pasta

handful of black or green olives (stones removed)

handful of green beans, cooked until they are tender but not soft in salted water (optional)

handful of sunflower seeds

Oil (sunflower, vegetable, olive)

salt and pepper

Balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of finely diced celery

2 medium sized beetroot, peeled and cut up

Method:

Cook pasta according to instructions and cook green beans until tender.

Cut vegetables into chunks and coat with oil and salt and pepper and put into a roasting  tray and cook until they are firm but tender on the inside. Dry roast the sunflower seeds in a frying pan until they turn brown but do not allow them to burn… be careful and watch them! Cut feta into chunks and set aside with the olives.

Allow vegetables to cool and then add the feta, olives, pasta and sunflower seeds. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the salad and toss to combine. Sprinkle over parsley if desired.

Made in Morocco

Cookbook Reviews

The Cookbook: Made in Morocco: A Journey of Exotic Tastes and Places

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Morocco: A Journey of Exotic Tastes and Places

© R.A Bremner 2016

Author(s): Julie Le Clerc and John Bougen
Impression of the Book:

 Julie Le Clerc has made herself a household name as a chef in my home country (New Zealand) where she has contributed recipes and snippets of food related tales to leading magazines and newspapers. Le Clerc’s food philosophy is that food should never be uncomplicated and her cooking is [1]partially inspired, partially invented, but essentially based on fresh, natural and accessible ingredients cooked to deliver honest, vibrant tastes that are simply made to be shared. John Bougen is a businessman who enjoys dabbling in photography and met Julie on a “fortuitous encounter” and both found that they shared an interest or two that sparked them to take a trip to Morocco and take a foodie loving trip to the ancient country where they both discovered delicious flavours that had been handed down from many generations.

 Food, Le Clerc writes [2] is invested with significant religious meaning, certain dishes are eaten in relation to the religious calendar; couscous for instance, is served on Friday’s as Friday is a holy day. The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) proclaimed food to be sacred so it must be shown with absolute respect.

 Moroccan food is a delightful mix of stews (known as tagines), breads, pastries, mint teas, blood orange juices, and where the spices add a subtle flavour to dishes to tagines and other dishes. Tagines are essentially stews that are cooked in a conical terracotta-cooking vessel. In Morocco Le Clerc writes [3] Tagines are often seen sitting upon individual charcoal burners at a roadside café and emit a tantalising smell.

 Dishes that I have made:

 Moroccan Mint Tea This tea is a bit unique as it uses a combination of fresh mint and green or gunpowder tea leaves. The mint tea that I drink is often likened to the one I would drink in Saudi Arabia which is just fresh or dried mint leaves and sugar and sometimes with a plain tea bag and a teaspoon of sugar and poured over by boiling water.

 Mint tea is suggested to be good for aiding digestion and therefore is a perfect drink to drink after having a meal.

 Kefta- Mince meat kebabs made with delicious cumin, coriander, and paprika spices, which have been moulded onto skewers and grilled over hot coals. I baked mine in the oven!

Tagine of Kefta Meatballs with tomatoes and eggs-

 Using a similar process for the Kefta recipe this one also calls for allspice and then frying the meatballs in oil before adding them to another pan with homemade tomato sauce and then breaking fresh eggs into the sauce. It really is delicious!

 Couscous- Couscous is a grain that has been a stable in many Middle Eastern and African diets and in Morocco it is no exception. I tend to make mine with a little salt and butter then allowing the butter to melt into the grains after I have poured boiling hot water over it. I use quick cooking couscous to achieve this and then I stir in the salt and butter and cover it until it has absorbed all the water and allow it to cool or use when required. I will also often add fresh finely chopped parsley and serve it with a tagine meal (usually beef or lamb) of my choice.

 Final verdict of the book:

 Bougen makes Le Clerc’s recipes come to life with his wonderful photography adding richness to the cookbook and giving it a real depth to the country and its people. Le Clerc offers the reader a glimpse into life in Morocco.

Le Clerc shares many dishes that remind me so much of the ones that I would eat whilst living in the Gulf that can easily be recreated back home.

Although I have never seen fresh sardines here in New Zealand, it is nice to see a recipe for these fish which means that Le Clerc is thoughtful in thinking about her international audiences as well. I appreciate this book and it is the second book by Le Clerc that I have purchased to date. I can see myself cooking my way through this book as the ingredients are easily sourced and obtained from any supermarket, grocer, or market.

 Yum!

[1] Julie Le Clerc A World of Difference – www.julieleclerc.com/about

[2] Julie Le Clerc, Made in Morocco: A Journey of Exotic Tastes and Places 2005, Penguin Books

[3] Ibid

PBUH  Peace Be Upon Him (A mark of respect to Prophet Mohammed although I am not Muslim)

The Slow Food Movement and Biodiversity

Thoughts on Food

The Slow Food Movement is an international organisation involved in projects from over 160 countries including New Zealand (NZ).

Founded in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food Movement (SFM) is dedicated to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow place of life.  Its aim is to promote food that is good, clean and fair (the philosophy of the SFM).

Good: quality, flavoursome and healthy food

Clean: production that does not harm the environment

Fair: accessible prices for consumer and fair conditions and pay for the producers

Involves adopting a slower pace of life and should not be confused with slow-cooker (crockpot) cooking an electronic cooking device that was invented to cook things slowly
Is dedicated to making connections between people, planet and plate; meaning that it looks at where the food comes from, how it is sourced, and other factors that bring it to the kitchen table

It is also home to other branches that make up the organisation that include

* Terra Madre

* Ark of Taste

* Slow food Presidia

* And Slow food for Biodiversity.

Williams in her article Around the Clock explains. “In nearly every place in Earth, life pulses with the daily rhythm and as the sun rises over the savannah, plants spread their leaves, and animals blink open their eyes, in towns and cities, people wake to alarm clocks and read the morning news.  These routines of life are more than a habit and convenience; deeply rooted biological programmes in a programme called a circadian rhythm.  The circadian system is attached to pretty much anything it’s ticking away in almost every tissue in the human body and in plants too- including major food crops” (Williams, 2014).

While many of us are prone to running around darting around the house, getting breakfast made, waking the children up, getting dressed and out the door, dropping children off at school, waiting in traffic to go to work, getting to work, many of us feel that there are not enough hours in the day to fulfill everything that we wish to do.

The Slow Food Movement does not discourage this but ask that people slow things down slightly by taking time to adopt a slightly less hectic pace of life while living life fully and with less stress.

Movimento Slow, an online website suggests the key lies in finding the right pace for each part of our daily race.  We should be able to run when it is necessary and cope with the feared stress that too many a time is upon us; however, we should also be able to know when to stop and enjoy an extended present which too often ends up in the near future duties[1].  “The Slow movement was first seen as an idea for people who like to eat and drink well, but not it’s become a much broader cultural discussion about benefits of doing things in a more human, less frantic manner. It is not easy to swim against the tide, but we think it is the best way to administer a city with the Slow philosophy” (Honorẻ, 2004, p.76).

[1] http://www.moveimientoslow.com/filosofia.html-

Back in 2014 when I wrote this Research report for my final paper in my degree I discovered that the Slow Food movement was connected with Biodiversity.

What is Biodiversity?

Biological Biodiversity or Biodiversity as it is known is the “variability among other organisms from all sources including inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (Convention on Biological Diversity) Components include:

Genetic Diversity

The varied genetic makeup of individuals of a single species

Species Diversity

The variety of species within an particular geographic area, such as the insects, plants, birds, fish and bacteria living in a wetland.

Ecological Diversity

The variety of ecosystem types such as forests, wetlands, lakes and oceans and the communities living in them. These communities interact with each other as well as the rest of their environmental Diversity.

How does the Slow food movement connect to biodiversity?

Commitment to the planet is one of the movement’s key goals. SF recognises that everything that starts off in the world has a beginning and an end, beginning with plants, species and human beings.  As time goes by, many of these species become extinct leaving the species vanishing.  Edward Wilson believes that over two hundred and fifty thousand species are no longer around and that these species will continue to phase out as the worlds population continues to grow. His argument lies in that over three species an hour will vanish, making it around twenty seven thousand varieties of plants disappearing a year.

To prevent this the S F movement intends to look after the biodiversity in the world and to “raise awareness that in the world of small-scale producers, the sustainable management of wild biodiversity is also key, whether they be managed fish stocks or semi-natural pastures and meadows” (Biodiversity: What is it? Terra Madre, Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, n.d.).

Figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) argue that[1] seventy five percent of the world’s plant genetic diversity has been lost.

Thirty percent of livestock breeds risk extinction, that’s six breeds a month, only four percent of the world’s known edible plant species are known.

Human beings use one hundred to two hundred plants and thirty percent of animals to provide food and nourishment, including twelve percent of which the human race is dependent on ruminants of products.

Therefore another of the major aims of the SFM is to protect biodiversity taking care of foods that may be native or local to each individual country. Projects are coordinated so that they [2]defend local food traditions, protect food communities, preserve food biodiversity and promote quality artisanal products, with an increasing focus on the global south.

The SFM’s first proposed plan is to look after domestic biodiversity. Domestic biodiversity raises awareness of native products that are unique and are a special part of a country and its environment. SF also stress that all plants and domestic animals have an origin, that is, a starting pointing in which they have began their journeys.

An example of this could be the one of the world’s most popular vegetables – the Potato (papas criollas).  Originally from South America, the potato is one of the world’s most favourite vegetables (other favourites include corn, rice and wheat). This versatile vegetable is found worldwide and can be cooked in many different ways and eaten in a variety of diverse dishes. Captain James Cook was said to have taken the potato with him when he travelled and when he left New Zealand, he gave some to the Maori people so they could grow their own. There are many varieties of potato that have origins around the world.

The SFM recognise this by explaining how these vegetables like other plants and vegetables have been integrated throughout territories and communities and influencing culinary traditions, such as Bubble and Squeak from the United Kingdom, Duchess Potatoes from France, the infamous French-fries from the United States just to name a few.  Agriculture history, gives us “rise to thousands of varieties and breeds that are an expression of the culture diversity and the ecology of a territory, which in tune, have given birth to a great diversity of gastronomy. A diversity shown through shapes, tastes, scents, colours, recipes, preparations and rituals; a fundamental richness to protect the culture of a community, but also to guarantee a diet that is varied, enjoyable and healthy” (Biodiversity in Terra Madre, Slow Food, n.d.).

The Ark of Taste, which is a part of the Biodiversity in the S F Movement, is dedicated to be a catalogue of international endangered foods that are monitored and maintained in order to protect the food from extinction.  Together with The Presidia the two branches work together in order to defend rare animals and plants to ensure that they are not lost. The movement also has developed Slow Food Gardens and Earth Markets (also known as Farmers markets) to bring together small-scale farmers and consumers around the world.

[1] Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations

[2] Preserve biodiversity:  Slow Food fights to preserve food biodiversity in all corners of the world.

In this entry I wanted to introduce people to the Slow Food Movement as something to consider as part of our future. The Slow Food Movement has become a lifestyle in which we are making connections to the source and where our food comes from, how it is grown, the people that grow the food and the cultural and political elements that surround it so it is good, clean and fair. Slow food is all about supporting our local growers, what is available to us in our own country and shopping locally for our food choices. Another great way of supporting Slow food is to grow your own and minimising things such as pesticides, fertilizers etc so we know exactly what it going into our food that we make.

Copyright © Richelle Bremner