Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Spiced Chai Latte Concentrate - No processed Sugar

Ok - this is my first time posting recipes, so we'll see how this goes. As of yet, I haven't figured out how to insert a 'print' button directly through the blog, but I will provide the link to the Google doc I created for the 1 page recipe.

Whirrring it up in my Sunbeam Milk Frother.
I originally found this recipe through pinterest. I have made it multiple times, but it called for brown sugar. I've been trying to find the right balance of honey as a replacement for the brown sugar to reduce the amount of processed materials used.

Today I made my best batch ever, and then later realised that I forgot to add the ginger! However, I really enjoyed this the best, so I'm posting the recipe minus the ginger, but did add a note to add the ginger if you like it a little spicier.

I did NOT use raw honey for this last batch, but a straight replacement in raw honey will work just the same, with the same taste results.

My full frothy cup with chai concentrate bottle and the milk I used.
I absolutely LOVE a good chai latte ever since it was {reluctantly} introduced to me by a friend in Melbourne. I found out that my first chai latte was made using a powdered pre-mix by Arkadia . Nothing wrong with them, except for the high process needed to make them powdered. Not my cup of tea. Long story short, I made adaptations to this recipe from tastykitchen.com, and I think the results are absolutely fantastic! {I had 3 cups in 1 hour after making this batch.}  The recommendation for storage was 2 weeks in the fridge, but I was able to keep mine in the bottle shown here (red glass water bottle from Ikea) for a month or 2. Just keep an eye on it and give it a smell for mold before using it, if storing it for longer than 2 months.

Get a printable version by clicking on the title of the recipe, below.

Spiced Chai Latte Concentrate
Adapted from tastykitchen.com (Amazing Spiced Chai Concentrate)

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time:  15-20 minutes
Servings:  8

4-1/2 cups Water
1 stick Cinnamon
7 whole Cardamom Pods
2 whole Star Anise Pods
10 whole Cloves
1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Orange or Lemon zest
10 tsp green or black tea or 10 tea bags
2/3 cup Honey
1 Tbsp Vanilla

Boil the water and place in bowl or pitcher. Add spices and tea and let steep for 15-20 minutes, depending on strength (to taste).
Strain and add the honey and vanilla.
Stir to combine.
Mix 1 part concentrate with 1 part milk, heat and enjoy or pour over ice.
This concentrate can be kept in the fridge for around 2 weeks.

  • Freeze it in an ice cube tray and add to smoothies.
  • The original recipe called for 1 piece of ginger, if you wish to use, add it with the spices for the steeping.
  • The original recipe also called for brown sugar instead of the honey. I have found that replacing the brown sugar made no difference to the taste.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Montage Pop-up Shop

I will make this a short post, because I don't have much to say, as of yet. But I'm excited for this non-the-less.

What is the Montage Pop-up Shop? Its Local. Its handmade. Its temporary. Its exciting! Well to this shopper anyway.

I am a new to the handmade Indy Biz world, but my friend Katie Zanich of Leo and Spargo (like the FB page to get updates on their goings on) seems like an old 'hat' by now. She has been part of the Perth Up-markets for a little while now. I haven't been able to make an appearance to the quarterly held markets (the next one being the Wedding special market on August 25th, and the regular up-market on September 23rd).

Local made. Who cares? I do! I'm a firm believer in supporting local business, which is why I like to shop in markets where the produce is either local WA or wider Australia. While I don't boycott products or produce from overseas, I tend to steer away from them if I can, and buy local. Support those around you. Isn't that the way things use to be? Isn't that why local farmer's markets are making their comeback?!

This girl {two thumbs pointed towards chest} will be making the rounds to Montage this week, and I shall report my findings! But for now, I shall leave you with information for the event :)  See the flyer I've inserted into this post.

Truffle Festival Adventures!

Such a beautiful late morning in the Perth 'burbs to be heading down to Mundaring for the Mundaring Truffle Festival.

This has been in the works, since I had first heard of the festival a few months ago. We ordered our tickets online (which ended up being a nice short queue when we got to the entry gate), and made our way down. It was about a 40 minute drive into some beautiful countryside. Mundaring is one of my favourite places close to Perth, I just love the rolling hills and greenery (trees - I LOVE trees!).

My favourite butcher (The Naked Butcher) is also in Mundaring, so we thought we'd head in there first, stock up for the next month on organic beef and grass fed pork (as well as some nitrate free bacon). I think we ended up spending more than we had intended, but yum....I don't know if I can use a better word to describe the meat there, except for - yum. That about sums it up. We selected out meat, and walked about half a kilometre down the road to the Truffle Festival.

{If you have not had truffle before, yes, you are missing out (unless of course you aren't a very 'fun-guy' - haha....sigh). I had my first taste of truffle in a risotto whilst I was suffering from a major toothache. We had gone out to eat with family, and I could only eat soft foods, for fear of pain. I ordered this gem: 'Portobello mushroon & porcini risotto, garden peas, truffled masarpone' at The Boulevard Hotel.  Wow! You could really taste the truffle in the marscapone - it was very delicate and earthy.}

Back to the festival. 

As we entered, we spotted a coffee stand, the future mother-in-law was in need of a coffee fix, so we headed there first. As Adam and I were standing away, we just looked around and were looking at our map, trying to suss out the toilet situation via the cute little map we were provided. 

Apparently I completely missed an Australian celebrity sighting! Adam's mum was trying to do the ol' eye movement, head shake in some direction that we were meant to be looking, but we were fairly clueless as to her meaning. When she had acquired her coffee she came over and told us, out of the corner of her mouth, 'don't look right now, but right behind me, is Neil Perry.' 'Who is Neil Perry?!' - you ask. Yes...so did I. I recognised the name as possible famous chef, the name totally rang a bell, but I would have never recognised him to look at him (sorry!). If you don't know who he is, he is the founder of the Rockpool Bar & Grill restaurants, first started in Sydney, then opening up in Melbourne (2006) and later Perth (2011). I have yet to eat there, but I've heard incredible things and walked past the Melbourne restaurant quite a few times. (I had no idea there was a location in Perth!) I'm not sure if he was scheduled for anything else, but he was doing book signings at the book stall we were standing in front of a short time after our sighting.

After our cool headed - oh yeah cool a celebrity chef - moment. We headed up to the T junction in the road. There was a fantastically dressed character directing festival goers to directions of their fancy.  

*Fair Warning:  All pictures are of fairly poor quality from my iphone, as I don't carry a 'normal' camera with me, and I'm not very good at staging the best photos!* Some of them were taken from a distance, as the one on the right and then carefully edited - hence the slight blurriness.

As we made our way through the T junction in search of toilets - of course I was busting after a longish drive with water at hand - ehm, I digress - there was a lovely group of musicians playing, what I can only describe as a sort of chamber type music. To me, it just really set the tone for the atmosphere we were about to experience (not the toilets mind you). 

While waiting for each other to finish business in the CLEAN porta-loos, I had a look around, as I spotted dogs. LOVE ME dogs! There was a demonstration and explanation happening just behind us of truffle sniffing dogs. And here I thought that the job was only to be done by pigs! The first part of the presentation was shown a young 4 month old pup, still in training. The second half showed a lovely yellow lab, middle aged. The woman asked for volunteers (children volunteered) and one was given a truffle to hide in her hand and the dog's task was, of course, to sniff out the truffle. Good boy! The second time around, in a different child's hand, he didn't do as well, but he did sniff out, where truffles had been previously, in the grassy-dirt areas in front of the children (not shown in the pictures). 

I suppose I should mention, the festival is from 10am to 4pm. We entered at around 11am, lots of people, but not over crowded. I'm not good with crowds. Not a fear of them, I just can't see anything or move around as easily when there are tons and tons of people around. I'd find it a waste of time, if I have to shovel a path to something I want to see or do. Just my thing - it's why I hate Christmas shopping on the weekends around Christmas time, it's just insane!!! But by the time we left, the crowd had picked up and the stalls were getting to be so surrounded with people, it was hard to see what the sellers were offering. We left at around 1.30pm, were able to see everything, sample some food, see some stalls and purchase some wares and had lunch as well.

We thought we should hit up some lunch before the freshly cooked food area was just too crowded to bother. Instead of picking one place and eating from there, we picked bits and pieces and shared around. 

First stop was Creative Catering. The enticing mini-offerings were too much to resist. As this is a truffle festival, many of the food stalls offered something with a taste of truffle. Creative Catering offered a mushroom with truffle flavour pie. It was this lovely filo type pastry with a mushrooms inside. YUUUUUuuuuUUuuMMy!!! We ended up going in for 2nds later, because these were so amazing. 

I also bought a half of a woodfire pizza (margehrita) to share, and we ended up with a waygu beef burger with truffle flavour and mushrooms on top with a lovely, lovely bread/bun thingy (very technical, I know). I believe the place the burgers came from was Mondo's ...something or other. This might be the place, but I can't be sure!

All in all it was well worth the drive down. Nice scenic drive to the lovely Perth hills region (I can just smell the fresh air now!!!), and fantastic gourmet food stalls and local sources for the Real Food movement.

P.S. I think I found my new source for raw honey. Beez Neez offer some fantastic honey. I asked the stall attendants if they sold raw honey - their response was that it was all raw honey. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that they use as little processing as possible. I also asked them what Creamed Honey was, as I always see it, but assumed it was just more processing. Well, it is more processing in a sense, but they just aerate the honey to make it light and fluffy (taste test confirms that it's out of this world delicious). Unlike the raw honey I found at the Fremantle markets, where I could only find that they sell it JUST at the markets - this company has a few retailers who sell their product. Most seem to be south of the river, but you can buy in bulk containers, which might be my choice on my next trip to my favourite butcher in Mundaring (4-6 weeks between visits would be reasonable we think, considering our longish drive down).


Saturday, 23 June 2012

Yogurt and Garlic and Leek, OH MY!

Yogurt and Garlic and Leek, oh my. Yogurt and Garlic and Leek, OH MY!!! While I am not on a road paved with gold, I do live in the land of 'Oz.' (Of course if I did see a road of gold, I wouldn't mind a brick or two in my bank account!)

The chant was ringing in my head as I consumed my newest SUCCESSFUL creation. Which in my mind is a rarity, I get so frustrated and tend to give up, when the idea in my head of what something was suppose to taste like, completely fails. But this week was definitely full of surprises in that department, as I had a few awesome kitchen days.

But, I digress, let me get to my point, and title. Today I went and visited the local farmer's market. A good 10 minute drive, or slightly under (Poynter's Farmer's Market, at Poynter Primary School in Duncraig, WA). I had been informed by my Chiropractor that they sold organic produce there, by an organic company.

Some sort of Leek, I think!
We'd been to this market before, at the beginning of the school year, but the school fete was also underway, and I hadn't been back since (lack of motivation - nothing to do with the market). I liked the market, it was small and quaint. Today's visit lent me to have a bit of a closer inspection of prices and stalls. I was unimpressed with the prices of the organics, as right now I'm really trying to watch our spending. I can do some organic experimenting when I start making money to contribute to household costs again. I decided against spending on organics today, 2 reasons, cost and lack of cash. We only brought about $40 with us today, and figured that'd be enough for whatever produce we needed to get. I must however mention the sheer size of the beetroot (beets) that they did have on offer, WOW, I've never seen anything larger. In hindsight I should have gone back and picked one up, just to give it a taste. We did end up getting a box of produce from another stall. I only wish I knew where the produce comes from - local farmers? I would think so, otherwise that defeats the whole concept of a farmer's market. Anyway I saw this strange leek looking thing (not like the leeks found in North America, but the taste is similar), but it was purple/red in appearance. It had a leek like smell, and was a bit stronger, like the wild leeks my dad liked to find in the spring in Pennsylvania.

Yogurt Cheese Leek Dip
Knowing I had some yogurt cheese back in the fridge, I thought, I'd give making leek dip a go. Normally you'd use cream cheese or sour cream to make a dip, but knowing the taste of yogurt cheese, I thought it would marry well with the wonderful leek flavours. BOY was I right! I can't remember what recipe I was making this past week, but all I remember were the suggestions by reviewers of the recipe to caramelise the onion and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients, as it really brings out those flavours and helps the flavours to pop. So I thought I'd heed the advice in this creation as well. I sliced up some of the leek and 2 garlic cloves and just tenderised them in a saute pan. I then added it to about a half a cup of yogurt cheese, in my mini food processor. After having a taste (which is the beauty of this style of recipe, ability to adjust to taste easily), I added more leek. I also added some sea salt to help enhance the taste. YUUUUUUMMMMY! If I had a bag of potato chips, I'd have consumed the whole lot in one setting. Lucky for me, we had neither chips nor crackers. But we DID have some sugar snap peas from 2 weeks ago (held up pretty darn good in the fridge, still crisp and yummy), so knowing they'd be even healthier for me, I rinsed them off and gave them a go in the dip. Oh my, I think I've just discovered my new best snacking friend :)

I will have to give the recipe another try tomorrow and write down some measurements to share. It's a fairly easy recipe to make, just by the 'pinch of this, pinch of that' method, but for those of you who, like me, prefer the scientific method when it comes to food, I will write it down and share soon.

Friday, 15 June 2012

My 52 Week Food Challenge

After heaps and heaps of reading of various blogs and online articles, my head is absolutely swimming with ideas to change my diet habits and to incorporate the nutrients my body craves, into my everyday life.

While the information is so vary vast, I need to set some real goals to implement the changes, especially if I want them to stick and become true habits and lifestyle changes to improve my health and that of my family.

Here is where the challenge comes in. While the 100 days of Real Food is a fantastic start for me, I want to incorporate fermented foods to get some of that great bacteria into my gut.

I need to do some real reading, and would like to read a few books to assist my journey. So in saying thus, I am giving myself 52 weeks to make the changes, a minimum of 1 change or new item to try or change, each week. Some things may take all week to create, such as sour dough bread, others may take more than a week to complete, such as making fermented saurkraut, but if I start it on one week, I can post it's progress throughout the weeks in between.

In the weeks, I'd like to explore parts of my city where I might be able to source the best organic and/or whole foods at reasonable prices. As I visit places, I will include the throughout the weeks, as I will probably only get to visit one new place per week. But I am hoping to have a great bunch of resources for myself and any friends, family or guests to be able to gleen from.

Week one starts tomorrow, Saturday June 15th, 2012. Let's see what adventures we can find along the way!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The 'Real' Food Search

Lately I've been doing a bit of blog surfing lately as I rabbit trail from one topic to another in regards to food and health. My brain is completely overwhelmed with the wealth of information I've found, but I think I've come to the conclusion that I need to start small and slow.

So with the help of the blog '100 Days of Real Food', I think I'll start there, with low or no processed food, which of course has always been in my sights. I've downloaded 4  x 7 day meal plans from her site. The plans are fantastic and are also geared at the budget minded. Last week I was able to implement Meal Plan 1 with some minor adjustments. The recipes were fantastic AND easy to execute! I'm not sure how I'd go when I start working full time again, but if we stick to meal plans, it will be easy enough for either one of us to cook each evening. PLUS I won't have to wonder what I'll pack in my lunch each day, as I'll have already planned, shopped and cooked it for the next day!

Week 1

Last week's plan was shopped at Drover's Food Markets in the Northern suburbs of Perth (Wanneroo). They aren't far from where I currently live and the prices are fairly reasonable. They aren't organic, but they aren't from the supermarket, where food isn't always picked fresh and ripened properly either. I really wanted to go to the Wannero Markets, but I didn't check the opening times. Assuming it was 8am, that's when we arrived, only to find out they didn't open until 9am. *Sigh*. Drover's isn't a true farmer's market as such, with only one shopping option for fruits/veggies, one for meat (wholesale) and fish, but it's all in one place, and presumed to be fresher and more ethical (in my mind anyway) than your big supermarket chains.

We walked away on our first week of shopping for Menu Plan 1 with almost all of what we needed in the way of fresh foods. About $45 in fruit and veggie, $30 in fish and seafood (we like to get the good fish since I really don't like 'fishy' tasting fish - so we got about 300g of pink snapper for about $20), and about $12 on a free-range fresh whole chicken.

I had a feeling we'd get better bargins with more of a farmer's market, so during the week, I did a tiny bit of research focusing specifically on organic farmers markets. I found a place in East Perth from 8-12 every Saturday (Perth City Farm Organic Growers' Market). I also found the Subi Farmer's Market under my google search for organic farmer's market. I have yet to check that one out, maybe next week!

Week 2

Week 2 of shopping for the new plan and this time using '100 Days of Real Food', Meal Plan 2 for our shopping. We had a rough time getting out of bed this morning, but eventually made it out and showered for a late 10.30am start out the door headed to the Perth City Farm Organic Growers' Market. It was a small market, but definitely had clearly marked organic produce.  We forgot to hit up the ATM machine, so didn't end up buying anything, so we just had a bit of a squiz at the joint. It definitely looks promising! It also has a bit of a cafe area as well. Adam suggested that next time we come, we get there early and have a bit of brekky while we were there. I'm game for that! As we were leaving, I was reminded of the cooking show on TV 'River Cottage' with Hugh Fearnley. The concept was to be able to live self sufficiently using locally grown produce and wild foliage and the like to supplement. (Side note - I see there is a Ted Talk with Hugh on sustainability - I MUST check it out and will report back on another post with my thoughts and a link!)  Point being, the feel gave me a very homey sort of feel about it, the whole concept of community coming together to share their excesses of bounty with their neighbours. Small time farmers, etc. I found this pretty comforting as I am always seeking to stay away from large corporations when it comes to food. Give my non-GM organic foods anyday!

Walking away empty handed this week from a promising market, we made the decision to head south of Perth to Fremantle, where there was a guarantee of fantastic fresh market produce available. It's a bit of a drive from where we live in the northern suburbs, but after today, it was worth it.

With today's produce, we ended up with a total costing of $18.00. Yup, huge difference. I was able to pick up just over 2 kg of tomatoes for $3.50 to make my own pasta/pizza sauce. And the TOMATOES....Ooooh MYYYY!  When was the last time I saw them so red?! It's the one thing I really hate, and complain about with tomatoes at a supermarket chain, they aren't quite ripe, GRRR!!! They aren't green, but they are fairly pale in colour, so frustrating to miss out on nutrients. Needless to say, I was excited to see some perfectly ripe tomatoes, not too red, but just right. I also bought some bread from Lawley's Bakery. They even had bagels, so I had to buy some to try them out, see if they were genuine Jewish boiled bagels (yum!). As of yet, I have not researched the integrety of the ingredients from the bread and their baking methods, but I shall do that soon. However, they had a stall at the Freo Markets, so thought I'd give it a go, and bought some sliced wholemeal bread ($7 with bread and 2 bagels). There weren't any meat markets in Freo, so we just got out veggies and headed out.

Oops!  Nearly forgot - I did find some raw honey! I've seen so much mention of raw honey, but hadn't been able to source some until today! We bought a small jar to taste test. It's about $18.90 per litre, me thinks that sounds ok! I've not been able to find much information online about this company except that they sell it at the Fremantle markets, but for now, this might be my stuff to use.

While I've done a few non-processed or 'hippy-like' this week with food, I will have to save it for another time, as I'm gently reminded that my last University literature review (4,000 words) is due on Monday and I only have an outline in my head about it all, let alone all the reading that will be involved. On that note, I shall save my other findings for another time!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Little Miss Muffet...

...sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey...

While I certainly haven't been sitting on a tuffet, I have got myself some curds and whey! I made sure to label them, so as to know the expiration dates - I've heard 3-6 months on various sites (no book reading as of yet) for the whey, and 3-4 weeks for the 'curd' - aka yogurt cheese. I haven't as of yet attempted the yogurt cheese cake, to which it's been suggested that I make that a lemon cheese cake, as it's someone's favourite - plus we are coming into a 'bumper' crop of lemons! How lucky have we been! Renting a house with a rather large olive tree and a new - small lemon tree, which is fruiting! There is no rush to make the cheese cake, as the cheese has a few weeks before needing to use, I may add to the stash in that time period as well.

I let the cheese drain overnight, it's been fairly cool here, so I wasn't worried about spoilage, but I'm not sure that it would spoil as such in hotter weather, more research is to be done by myself on the topic and I've heard others let it drain in hot weather, but I'm still hesitant.

But all in all, not a bad first effort!