Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Break

Well this past month has panned out differently to what I expected.  Busy of course, Kalyani finishing up school, having a friend stay for a week, a family wedding and getting ready for Christmas.  The unexpected bit, which should really be expected now, was all of us being unwell for a good part of the month.  Gastro, viruses and a very inflamed, painful back for me.

So a good time to take an extended blogging break.  Hope to back sometime in January with more photos, ideas to share and a boy who could possibly be walking and another who could be toilet trained by then.  Hurrah!

Have a great Christmas and New Year's break everyone! :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Interval training rocks!

This week I have not been.... getting enough sleep!  How easy it is to fall into bad habits which for me is going to bed too late.  At the moment two of the kids (the youngest two) wake at 5am.  Too early I reckon!  So really I should be adjusting my night time routine and going to bed by at least 9pm.  Hmm... proabably need to think through what activities are keeping me up at that time.

This past week we celebrated... a friend's son's 3rd birthday.  I love seeing how creative parents can be with their children's birthday cakes.  Especially as that area is not my passion or strength.  This birthday cake was based on a Jake the Pirate theme.


This week I tried... interval training.  Apparently varying the intensity of your cardio workout (doesn't that sound flash) burns more fat than exercising at the same pace.  For me that just means I tried varying the pace on the exercise bike from sprinting to slow every 15 seconds over 4 minutes, had a break and then repeated that again.

Appreciated... catching up with some girlfriends.  So refreshes the soul!

Miss 5yr old's creativity!
Picked from the garden... more silverbeet, the last of the coriander and parsley which are going to seed and my first cucumber.  Great taste especially after my cucumbers from previous seasons tasted very bitter.  Apparently that was from not watering consistently.  So I have been conscious about giving them more water this season and we have been fortunate enough to have had  some rain during spring.  The backyard lawn is still looking green.


Watched... 1,2,3 Magic DVD with hubby and we have been making an effort to put the ideas into practice.  Love it when our kids get counted (maybe I shouldn't enjoy that :) ) by both of us- team effort!  The no talk and no emotion rule when disciplining takes some getting use to though.  Counting (up to 3 then an age appropriate time out) is mainly for badgering, acting like a martyr, threatening etc. when I make a decision.  With our free thinker, bossy first child that can happen a lot.   I am starting to feel like I have a bit more control now over what's happening at home.  Since I am someone who likes to be at home a lot with the kids, that is really important to me.  I am not dreading the school holidays as much anymore.

And also watched... Fork over Knives.  An American documentary that examines the claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  Well we are not likely to decide to become vegan anytime soon.  But that said, I reckon there is a lot of merit for having a more plant based and whole foods diet.  Choosing whole grains over refined flours and eating more beans and legumes has to be a good idea.  Currently we have about 3 vegetarian meals a week and generally don't eat any meat for breakfast or lunches.  But I would be ok with decreasing the number of non-veg meals even further.  Can't believe hubby suggested we go without meat altogether as a trial for a month though!  But giving up dairy-cheeses, yoghurt, milk and eggs (my all time favourite food) as the documentary suggests, don't think so!

Made some progress on... getting the kids and myself organised on school mornings.  Lol- only two more days of kindy left though.

Thinking about... plans for Christmas and last minute gifts.  Christmas celebrations are very low key in our family.  Christmas day it will be just hubby and I and the kids which I am looking forward to.  We have a few events with family on either side of that.  But still very informal and more about catching up with people than presents or food.  I like that!

Dhiraj is 10 months and... no teeth yet!  But he's started commando crawling (on his tummy) everywhere including under the kitchen table to where the cat food is kept, under our bed where I can't reach him, through the blinds, into the sand pit...



Friday, November 25, 2011

Hatching Australorp Chicks!

This past week we enjoyed... hubby having two days off work. Mostly it was spent hanging out at home and getting some jobs done. I wasn't feeling well and so doing an outing with all 3 kids wasn't very appealing. But one thing we did do which hopefully will be a regular summer thing, was pack up dinner (crumbed fish, a couple of salads and bread) and head down to a local park. This one was literally a 2 minute drive from our house. So nice to get out doors, have a picnic and let the kids run around until everyone is tired before going home.



This week I was waiting for... the chickens to hatch. And they did! Six little Australorp chicks with one looking like a Blue Australorp. They are so cute and so little! The mother hen is very protective of them so we are waiting until they are a bit bigger to have holds. The kids have been pretty good at keeping their distance so far. One thing was interesting was after the chicks had hatched there were 4 eggs that hadn't. Even though the mother hen needed to look after the new chicks she was still sitting waiting for the other eggs to hatch. I went in and removed them from her. It made me think about how there was a new season for her- raising the chicks and yet she was still focused on the old season- sitting on the eggs. Hmm!




This week the weather was hot enough for... water play! Even I was tempted to get wet seeing it has been so hot. Dhiraj just loves the water and splashing away. Now that the weather is getting warmer, the days are more like winter days. A lot of time spent inside especially between 10am and 4pm when the UV index is the highest (the chance of getting sun burnt is the greatest). Might have to think of some new activities so we don't all drive each other crazy this summer!




This week I've been re-reading... Beautiful in God's Eyes The Treasures of the Proverbs 31 Woman by Elizabeth George.   Food for my soul and spirit!

Celebrated... several nights of not getting up to any kids. Haven't had so much uninterrupted sleep since before No 2 was born. Annoying that I still feel so tired though!

Keeping... on top of the washing. I have been doing a load a day and it's working well. I haven't had the usual 5 loads of washing waiting to hang, fold and put away.

In the kitchen... ran out of our usual quick and easy breakfast foods, cereal and oats for porridge much to the disappointment of the kids.  So have had to be a little bit creative.  Today we had apple pikelets with banana jam on them.  Yummy!

Encouraged by... listening to the journey of a strong, godly woman who has become the full time carer for her recently disabled husband. Though she didn't go into detail about the hard stuff they have faced during this last year she did talk about how her relationship with God has been her strength. This past year has been a very difficult one for me personally too and so encouraging to be reminded that God is close to us in the midst of difficulty. I also realised that giving thanks in all circumstances is a matter of faith more than anything. Me having faith (declaring and acting on) that God is good and He will come through for me- always!

Confused by... what I am meant to do to increase our family finances in the coming year.  Look for part time work or do something from home?

This week I was surprised with... fresh flowers from hubby.  Appreciated at the end of a long, tiring day with grizzly (usually means they are tired) kids.  Someone appreciates me! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Parents Arise

This week I've been reading... a new book called Parents Arise by Janine Targett.  I found it a very encouraging read.  Full of stories of God working in her family as she taught her children God's word through song.  It's given me some ideas for a few things I might try with my kids in 2012.  One thing she described that I liked was how each year they would go away to their holiday cottage on the coast of Tasmania  (Tasmania is beautiful!) and read and research and plan for new things she wanted to implement in their family that coming year.  That is so me- I love reading and learning and planning.  Just need the scenic Tassie cottage!

Also have been re-reading in brief spurts 1-2-3 Magic Effective Discipline for Children 2-12.  So far it's one of the best discipline strategies I've read about that fits in with my parenting values and beliefs.  I have taken the DVDs out from our local library too with the intention of watching them with hubby.  Not sure if that will happen now.  By the evening I want to do anything but think about parenting and kids.

I am looking forward to...  3 more sleeps!!  We have a broody hen sitting on 12 lovely eggs.  I am totally excited about them hatching and finding out how many chicks there will be and what breed.  We had two different types of eggs put under her.  The one and only time I attempted to breed our own chickens I ended up with one beautiful black Australorp, a rooster of course.  Hopefully will be successful this time!

This week I've been working on routines...  I have been perusing the Fly Lady website very closely this week.  I would see myself as a fairly clean and organised person yet staying on top of things with a 5 person household feels like an impossible task at the moment.  For me that means not getting to the end of the day with toys strewn from one end of the house to the other, dishwasher needing to be unloaded, the sink filled with dirty dishes, dinner still needing to be cooked and 3 loads of washing to be sorted and put away.   Ok I am not there yet but what I have started with is working out a morning routine.  As I have a lot to do in the morning it has been trial and error this week working out what I can get done and what leads to more chaos and rushing around.  So far I have been broken the morning tasks into separate areas like kitchen (10 mins), bedroom (10mins), outside (5 mins), get kids ready (still working on a time for that).  I feel like I am making progress.  There has been a whole lot less to do at the end of the day but I still have a way to go.  Especially, organising the kids to get out the house by a certain time.

This week I've cooked...quick and easy meals. Corn and fish soup, chick pea curry and flat bread, homemade pizzas, family favourite dal and rice, yummy chicken curry and rice.  The last one was to show hubby we do eat meat sometimes and how much more you appreciate it when it's not every night. :)

Sleep... recognising that getting to bed a bit earlier would be helpful.  Still hasn't happened yet!

Exercise....  8 minutes on the exercise bike with a break at 5 minutes to re-settle the baby.  Ok I am very unfit. But any start is a start I reckon!  :)  Can't get over how improved my mood is after doing some exercise.

This week I've started a new project... I got inspired when visiting the local craft store without kids.  With kids I am so focused on getting what I came for and leaving that I don't get to browse.  What was I thinking???  Ok I don't really sew but I bought some cute material to make two nighties for Kalyani and sleep shorts for me.  Check out this online tutorial.

Stumped by... how quickly my desk gets messy.

Successes...  Shaan for the most part is no longer waking up at night and trying to come and sleep in our bed. What a breakthrough!  Though it came after many nights of getting up and putting him back to bed again and again.  Just when he was about to break me, he stopped waking up.  So good!  Now I only get up to Dhiraj about once at night.

Thinking about blogging or not...  I love to write though I am not as keen about disciplined writing and I love to blog.  However I am trying to work out whether blogging is something that enriches my life in this crazy, busy season of parenting  and managing a home with 3 young kids and limited help!  Or whether blogging is something that adds to the chaos and stress.  Probably it's  both.  I am realising though that I have been neglecting some key health issues in my life in spending time and energy on blogging.  Really I need to take a more long term perspective.  But it's hard giving up activities I am interested in for the sake of not being busy all the time.  Will see how it all works out!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blog Update- Spring is Here!

Ok I have been absent from here for a while.  I have been working on settting up a new food blog at my own domain which has turned out to be a lot more work than I have had time for.  So I just haven't been able to get back to blogging as quickly as I would have liked.  Plus add in very sick kids and sick parents for about 3 to 4 weeks with a late winter flu and life has felt like it has been moving very slowly.  In reality looking after a household of 5 people means there is always a lot going on.   But still I have felt disorganised, overwhelmed and unable to focus on those things that are most important to me at this time.   The good about that is that I have been putting some new routines into place, working on decluttering our home, clarifying what I do want to do with my time and making progress little by little.

Yes the weather is warming up so we have been spending a lot of time outdoors which we all love!    So here is an update of these gorgeous kids...








Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blogging Survey

Are you one of those Internet savy people that likes to use email, social networking sites, read blogs etc? Then I would love to hear your opinions in preparation for the launch of my new blog. Click here to take my survey.

10 Sept Update:  The survey is now closed.  Thanks to all those who participated.  I got some useful information out of it which will be used in a new blog I am currently working on.  More details soon.




Today she's five!

I reckon there's something about the age 5 that seems especially significant. My daughter is moving further away from being a toddler to becoming a young girl who's imaginative, adventerous and caring! I think that change is reflected by how much she has gotten into the whole birthday experience this year. Feeling very excited in the lead up, for the first time getting to have a birthday party at home (more posts to come on organising the party), anticipating presents and celebrating with a much wider group of people (friends, family, school friends etc).


Happy 5th Birthday Kalyani!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hummus

My final post for the blogging marathon I have participating in this past week. The recipe I have chosen came about because I wanted to do a dip and salad plate for the kids at my daughter's 5th birthday party. Unlike many children's birthday parties, I wanted to host a non-junk food party. Novel idea! Mainly because I wanted my kids to be eating "proper" food and not fill up on chips and lollies and because I believe that healthy food actually tastes better than junk food. Photos and more about the birthday party coming in another post.

So originally I was going to buy hummus dip (which my kids love) and then because of the BM theme, Cooking from Scratch, I decided to make it myself. So glad I did because it was very easy to make and tasted great!


Hummus

Ingredients
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tahini*
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup water
salt to taste
spices optional (I added 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp ground cumin, 1/4 tsp ground chilli, 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon)

* Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds.

To Make
1. Combine all ingredients together in a blender until it reaches a smooth consistency. Add more water if needed. Season to taste.

Comments
This recipe makes quite a large amount so for home use the quantity could be halved. Very yummy on bread or crackers as well! Lasts for about a week in the fridge.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa
Day 5- Simple Pizza Dough
Day 6- Homemade Wheat Tortillas

I have just put up a short survey about internet use and blogging.  Would love people to share their views.  Click here to take survey  Thanks so much!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Home made Wheat Tortillas

Day 6 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and continuing on the theme of Cooking from Scratch I decided to have a go at making tortillas. Mainly because I had a pack in the cupboard and was wondering how easy it would be to make them at home instead. Amongst other things the store bought tortillas contained mineral salts, colour, preservatives and food acid. Freshly made tortillas would have to be healthier for my family.

Traditionally tortillas are an unleavened flat bread made with a corn (maize) flour called masa harina. Unfortunately masa harina is hard to obtain here and commercially made tortillas usually consist of wheat flour rather than corn.

Personally I don't cook South American food much at all. Maybe because the flavours and ingredients are not very well known here in Australia yet. But I do use the breads and we have them with my own bean/ vegie dishes I come up with them. So to go with these tortillas I cooked a dish with crushed garlic, chopped onion, cumin seeds, kidney beans, tomatoes, spices, grated carrot and zucchini and topped with grated cheese of course.


Wheat Tortillas

Ingredients
250g bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp corn oil (I subsituted with olive oil)
120mL warm water

To Make
1. Combine flour and salt. Slowly stir in oil, then add warm water. Add more water if dough is too dry.
2. Knead for 5 minutes. Divide into 8 equal portions.
3. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out to form 20cm tortillas.
5. Place first tortilla on heated frying pan and cook for less than 1 minute per side, or until brown spots appear.
6. Repeat with remaining dough. Stack tortillas and keep warm.

Comments
Ok bread making is not my forte. Saying that these tortillas turned out really soft and hubby suggested that is how I should get my parathas to turn out. IE he liked them a lot. So making tortillas from scratch is very simple. This one was a hit with my family!

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa
Day 5- Simple Pizza Dough

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Simple Pizza Dough

Day 5 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and I'm onto the theme Cooking from Scratch. Pizza dough is something I've been making from scratch for my family for years because it is so easy to make and much healthier than ready made pizza dough. My kids also like helping out by spreading the toppings (usually chopped capisicum, mushrooms, zucchini, bacon and grated cheese for us) over the pizzas. Most of the time I use tomato paste for the base but you can easily make your own pizza sauce by cooking chopped onions, crushed garlic and chopped tomatoes together.

Now days I make it in a bread maker which does all the kneading for me (love shortcuts!) but I use to make it without one. Make sure you allow time for the dough to rise, anything from 1 to 3 hours depending on how warm the day is. This quantity makes enough for me to roll out 2 thin crusted pizzas or 1 thick crust pizza.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups plain white flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 3/4 tsp dry yeast

To Make
1. Mix dry ingredients including the yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
2. Add the warm water. Mix well to form a smooth dough. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Cover dough and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.
4. Turn onto a board. Knock down and knead for 1 minute.
5. Roll dough out to fit onto a greased tray.
6. Spread dough with preferred toppings. Bake at 200C for 25 minutes depending on thickness of crust.


Toppings: sliced tomato, olives, feta cheese, basil leaves

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao
Day 4- Egg Halwa

Friday, August 26, 2011

Egg Halwa

Day 4 of the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and my final recipe for the theme Nawab Khana. Nawab Khana refers to a rich and elaborate traditional Indian cuisine. The last three days I'll be posting on the theme Cooking from Scratch.

As I decided to do all my dishes for friends in the form of a dinner party I had to choose a dessert of course. Funny enough neither myself or my husband had tasted egg halwa before. But with lots of sugar, light fluffy eggs and heaps of flaked almonds and pistachios it was delicious.


Egg Halwa

Ingredients
6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground saffron
1/4 cup ghee
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tblsp raisins
few drops vanilla essence
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup pistachios

To Make
1. Whisk the eggs for about 10 minutes until frothy. The mixture slightly thickens and becomes a lighter colour. Add the sugar and saffron and whisk for a further 5 minutes.


2. Heat the ghee and fry the cardamom for 1 minute then remove from heat. Add eggs and raisins and cook, stirring gently, until ghee rises to the top. Stir in the vanilla essence.


3. Pour into a greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts and allow to cool.

from the The Best 1000 Indian Recipes 2001 Strathearn Publishing.

Comments
This dish produced some debate at the dinner table over whether it was sweet enough. Most of us thought it had enough sugar in it while one sweet toothed friend would have liked more. Saying that though, she was the one who went back for several servings. A very moorish dessert! Next time I think I would like to try one of the other recipes I have seen for this dish.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

To see what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs
Day 3- Channa Dal Pulao

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Channa Dal Pulao (Split Peas and Rice)

Day 3 of the cooking blogging marathon I am participating in this week. My theme for the first part of it is Nawab Khana, referring to an elaborate and rich Indian cuisine.

This dish, Channa Dal Pulao, would have to be my favourite out of the dishes I've cooked for my Nawab Khana dinner party. (I invited a small group of friends around to taste and comment on my cooking.) The taste of the tangy, salty dal mixed through a good basmati rice with fresh coriander and mint. Yum!


Channa Dal Pulao

Ingredients
1/2 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
2 cups basmati rice
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, halved and cut into fine rings
2 tsp peeled, finely grated ginger
1 clove finely crushed garlic
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
salt
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
2-4 fresh green chillies, finely chopped (I omitted these)
2 tsp garam masala

To Make
1. Soak the channa dal in enough water to cover it for 1 1/2 hours.
2. Put the dal and its soaking liquid into a pan. Add 1/4 tsp of the tumeric and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until its tender but the grains are still whole.
* Alternatively I cooked the dal in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes on low heat.
3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot add the onions and fry until a rich reddish brown colour and crisp. Drain onto absorbent paper.
4. Put the ginger and garlic into the same pan and fry until light brown. Add the remaining tumeric and 1 tbsp of the yoghurt. Stir and fry until most of the liquid in the yoghurt evaporates and the remaining particles are lightly browned. Add the remaining yoghurt 1 tbsp at a time and cook in the same way.


5. Then add the drained dal, salt and chilli powder. Stir for 1 minute.


6. Bring 12 cups of water to a boil, add the washed rice and salt to taste. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes or until the rice is 3/4 cooked.
7. Drain the rice and add half of it to an oven proof dish. Cover the rice with the cooked dal and then top with the remaining rice. Spread the ghee and the cooked onions over the rice.
8. Sprinkle the lemon juice, milk, fresh coriander, mint, green chillies and garam masala over the top. Cover tightly and place in an oven for 30 minutes at 180C.
9. Stir gently to mix before serving.

Adapted from A Taste of India Madhur Jaffrey 1987 Pan Books.

Comments
Another time consuming dish but well worth it! I would definitely cook this one again for a special occasion. My dinner guests liked it too and commented on how flavoursome the dal was in the rice.

Check out what my fellow blogger are cooking here.

See what else I've cooked this week:
Day 1- Lamb Korma
Day 2- Shami Kebabs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shami Kebabs (Minced Lamb Patties)

Day 2 of this week's blogging marathon and the second dish I chose as part of my Nawab Khana menu was a kebab. What an amazing creation! Ground meat and dal cooked with spices, ground again, more flavours added and then fried. I served mine with mint-coriander chutney.

I know not a lot of photos of this dish especially considering that it took me such a long time to prepare. In the end my dinner guests were waiting and I was hurriedly trying to get them into the pan to fry.

Shami Kebabs

Ingredients
1/3 cup channa dal or yellow split peas
450g minced lean lamb
10 whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 3/4 in/2 cm cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
salt
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 large egg
2 tbsp very finely chopped onion
1 tsp very finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp very finely chopped hot green chilli.
vegetable oil

To Make
1. Soak the dal in 1 cup of water for 2 hours.
2. Put the dal, the water it was soaking in and the minced lamb into a heavy based pan.
3. Add the cloves, peppercorn, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and salt and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to very low and simmer gently for 1 hour.
4. Remove the lid and boil off any water, stirring constantly. The meat must be very dry.
5. Turn off the heat and allow the meat to cool.
6. Grind the meat in a food processor until it becomes a fine paste. No whole spices should be visible. Mix in the ginger and egg.

7. Put the contents from the food processor into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
8. Mix together the chopped onion, mint and green chillies.
9. Form smooth balls out of the meat paste. Take one ball at a time and make a deep depression in it with your thumb. Stuff a portion of the onion mint mixture into it and cover. Flatten the ball into a small patty.
10. Pour enough oil into a pan to cover the bottom to a depth of 1/2 cm and heat. Fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are slightly crisp and a medium brown colour.
11. Drain them on absorbent paper and serve.

from A Taste of India Madhur Jaffrey 1987 Pan Books.

Comments
Apparently hubby said I got the texture and flavour fairly right with these kebabs- slight mint taste, soft and crumbly. But thank goodness he also said he's not a huge fan of kebabs. They are so much work! For me personally I prefer cooking and eating dishes that have more vegetables in them.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lamb Korma

Yeah my first post for this week's blogging marathon which I am joining in with over at the Spice Your Life blog. One post each day on a different dish for a week. I have to admit that I am a little bit nervous because this is my first time contributing to an Indian cooking theme and it was my first time cooking these dishes.

Saying that I did the crazy thing of cooking 5 dishes at once and inviting a few friends over for dinner to taste and comment on my cooking. Got to say after all the work of preparing was over, it was a fun evening and so lovely eating yummy food with good friends. Everybody thought the food tasted great and this dish below especially impressed my husband which makes all the effort (and days of dishes afterwards) worth while. :)

The dinner party idea was also in the spirit of the theme I'm doing Nawab Khana. Nawab refers to a title given to Muslim rulers in the princely states of India during the Mughal empire in the 17th century and then under British rule in the 18th century. The elaborate Nawab cuisine included dishes such as kebabs, kormas, biryani, kalia, nahari-kulchas, pulao, sheermal, rotis and parathas and ingredients such as mutton, paneer and rich spices like cardamom and saffron. Very delicious food!

Lamb Korma

Ingredients

1 onion chopped
2.5cm/1 inch ginger root
2 large cloves garlic
2 green chillis
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp saffron threads
3 tblsp hot milk
3 tblsp oil
1.5kg lamb cubed (I used 1.2kg lamb forequarter chops halved)
2/3 cup natural yoghurt
1/4 cup cashew nuts
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander

To Make
1. Puree half the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies to a fine paste. Add the ground spices and blend together.
2. Soak the saffron in hot milk for 15 minutes.
3. Heat the oil and fry the remaining onion until browned. Add the spice mixture and fry until the oil appears on the surface.
4. Stir in the meat, season with salt and brown on all sides.
5. Mix together the milk and yoghurt and stir into the pan with the nuts and water.
6. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour until the meat is tender.
Or as I did cook for 12 minutes in the pressure cooker on medium heat. The meat just falls off the bone- delicious!
7. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander.

Adapted from The Best 1000 Indian Recipes 2001 Strathearn Publishing.

Comments
Everyone loved this dish and while I would have preferred it less spicy others thought the chilli factor was just right. It would have to be hubby's favourite dish of the night and so even though it was a bit of work to prepare I would cook it again for a special occasion.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

One Tired Mother!!

I love my boys to bits but this past week (hmm more like months!) has been challenging. Dhiraj at 6 1/2 months has been waking frequently throughout the night. Also Shaan at 2 still gets out of bed 2 to 3 times a night. The crazy thing is I KNOW all the stuff I am MEANT to be doing to have kids that sleep through the night. My first born was sleeping 10 hours a night without a feed from 6 months. WHAT?? Now if I get 4 hours sleep in a row at the moment I feel like I have won Lotto!

What I have learnt though through the last few years is that its NORMAL for some babies to wake more frequently than others and be fed at night. I have also learnt that sometimes we need to take shortcuts to survive. No matter how interrupted my sleep is I still have to get up the next day albeit with some grumpiness and look after my 3 children.

I just want the right to say that I am TIRED!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing Solids

I am finally getting into the routine of feeding Dhiraj solids. He's now having 3 serves a day of either cooked and pureed vegetables or fruit with rice cereal. So far he's tried apple, pear, carrot, pumpkin and mashed avocado (uncooked).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Moist Apple Loaf

Wow I can't believe how many new recipes I've cooked this week as part of my participation in the blogging marathon AND I've been able to post every day too! But I am looking forward to going back to my less frequent blogging posts for a little while. Dhiraj is still waking a lot at night and some days I am feeling too tired to get done as much as I would like. As well I am looking forward to having a break from baking cakes, muffins and biscuits and having a go at some of the yummy dishes fellow bloggers have posting on this week.

These two last recipes I have posted on were made with the assistance of Kalyani and Shaan. Kalyani made the lemon yoghurt cake and Shaan helped with the apple loaf. Though it does make the cooking process a lot more messy I do enjoy involving them.

Now this recipe has been adapted from one I found here. I was specifically looking for a cake that had apples in it because I had 3 lovely Granny Smith apples sitting in the fridge that needed using. Also I love the taste of apple and cinnamon.

Moist Apple Loaf

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour (1/2 cup substituted with wholemeal flour)
1 teaspoon mixed spice or ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup sugar (reduced to 1/2 cup)
2 large or 3 medium apples, peeled and grated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

To Make
Add flour, bicarbonate of soda and spice together and stir through sugar. Make a well in the centre, add all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 180C for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Comments
My mixture turned out too moist which may have something to do with my son continuing to dip his spoon in and eat the dry flour despite my discouragement. :) Anyway I ended up adding more flour at the end to make it a bit stiffer.
Eggless Variation:
I reckon because the apples make it so moist it would be easy to omit the eggs and add a little bit of water if the mixture is too dry, without it affecting the final cake.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

Oh the house is smelling wonderful! I have just pulled out this cake from the oven which the kids (not me, of course) insisted we try a piece while it was still warm. Yummy! Also on the bench is an another batch of muffins that I have cooked for my final post for the blogging marathon I have been participating in this week. Hopefully those ones will go in the freezer for next week's snacks unless we eat them all now. Very tempting!

This cake was based on a recipe I found here. I was looking for something to bake that had in yoghurt in it, lemons and oil instead of butter. The funny thing is that the oil only got reduced because I ran out of vegetable oil as I was in the middle of cooking. Something to do with all the no butter baking I have been doing this week. Anyway I have decided I love this cake!

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups sugar (reduced to 1 1/4 cup sugar)
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
Grated rind of 2 lemons (substituted with orange rind)
1/2 cup oil (reduced to 1/4 cup)
1 cup natural yoghurt/curd
2 cups self-raising flour (1/2 cup was substituted with wholemeal flour)

This photo is included because this is gorgeous audience I had when I was cooking.

To Make
In a bowl, mix lemon rind, oil, eggs and sugar with a fork.
Add remaining ingredients and combine well.
Pour into greased tin and bake at 180°C for 50 minutes.
Leave to cool then turn out and dust with icing sugar.


Comments
This is my first time baking a cake with curd in it and I love how it turned out. Its a great combination with the lemon and the texture is so moist and crumbly. Definitely one I will bake again! I might even make it for daughter's birthday coming up in a few weeks time. Though next time I think I will reduce the sugar even more to 1 cup as the cake was quite sweet for my taste.

Check out what my fellow bloggers have been cooking here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cornmeal Muffins

Ok a change from baking something sweet today for the blogging marathon I am participating in this week and instead I am going with a savoury recipe. This one appealed to me because it meant I could use up the polenta or cornmeal I have had sitting in my pantry for months or years? I also thought it would be a good one to freeze so I could use them for Kalyani's lunches when she goes back to school next week. I also liked that I could use fresh parsley picked from the garden in them.

Cornmeal Muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour (I substituted 1/2 cup with atta flour)
1 cup yellow cornmeal (polenta)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup creamed corn
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

To Make
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and sugar together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl lightly beat eggs, oil, creamed corn, milk and parsley together.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Mix quickly to combine with a fork. Do not over mix.
Spoon into a greased muffin tin and bake immediately for about 10 minutes at 200C. Serve warm.

Variations
I added about 1/2 cup of diced, cooked sweet potato that I had in the fridge and wanted to use up. I also think that you could replace the parsley with chopped fresh coriander and masalas for a different taste.

Comments
I liked them. The polenta gives them a grainy texture and the taste is mild.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking today here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crunchy Peanut Cookies

Ok I have to admit that we are not a huge peanut butter eating family. I prefer to give my kids Vegemite if they are to have a spread on bread. Very Aussie! But I liked this recipe because it didn't contain any butter or oil. Is that healthier?

Well...
100g butter contains 53.8g of saturated fat.
100g vegetable oil (mine was soy bean oil) contains 18.4g of saturated fat.
100g extra virgin olive oil contains 16g of saturated fat.
100g peanut butter contains only 6g of saturated fat.

Crunchy Peanut Cookies

Ingredients
3/4 cup self raising white flour (1/4 cup substituted with whole wheat flour)
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar (reduced to 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup coconut
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
2 to 3 tablespoons water

To Make
Mix flour, soda and cinnamon in a bowl. Add sugar, rolled oats, coconut and lemon rind, mix well. Rub peanut butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre of mixture, add honey and 2 tablespoons water gradually, stirring to make a soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out dough to 5mm thick and cut out cookies. (I formed them into balls and pressed them flat onto the tray). Bake for 10-15 minutes at 180C.




Comments
Shaan and Kalyani have been enjoying how much baking I have been doing this week and getting to taste everything. But I had an interesting conversation with Kalyani who's 4 about doing a blog marathon and how it meant cooking something each day on my theme No Butter Bake. She replied with how that wasn't a good idea. Why did she say that? Because cakes and biscuits are not meant to be an everyday food just a sometimes food. I thought it was funny that my daughter was telling me it wasn't a good idea to eat too much sweet stuff.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking today here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Carrot and Pineapple Loaf

This recipe I'm doing for Day 3 of the blogging marathon I got to cook on my own. No kids helping! Hubby had taken the kids out for a couple of hours and the baby was sleeping. Bliss! So I made an effort to enjoy the process of cooking. Normally I am trying to do 3 things or more at once and then thinking about what I need to do next once the dish is in the oven etc. This time I even got to lick the bowl out all to myself. So nice!

Carrot and Pineapple Loaf

Ingredients
1 cup plain flour
2/3 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (reduced to 1/2 cup)
1 cup grated carrot (about 1 large carrot)
400g pineapple pieces crushed
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk*

* A simple buttermilk substitute which I used is add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then use as the recipe says.

To Make
Mix flours, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add sugar, carrot, pineapple and walnuts. Stir to combine. Whisk eggs, oil and buttermilk together in a bowl. Add to flour mixture and combine.
Spoon mixture into greased pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 180C or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the loaf.

Comments
I baked this recipe in a muffin tray. Very moist and nutritious. Only thing was that I used extra virgin olive oil in the recipe and it does give them a distinctive taste. Both my kids liked them a lot especially my daughter who loves pineapple at the moment. I think they weren't sweet enough for hubby to really enjoy. :)

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

No Butter ANZAC biscuits

Ok these biscuits I made really cannot be called ANZAC biscuits, the traditional Aussie biscuits made from rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, bicarbonate of soda and boiling water. Its thought that the wives and mothers left at home during World War I baked these biscuits for the soldiers because the ingredients didn't spoil easily and transported well. The absence of eggs in the recipe is because eggs were scarce during that time. ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Anyway I started with the traditional recipe but in the interest of making them healthier came up with a different biscuit. I am calling them...

Date Biscuits

Ingredients
1 cup atta flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated coconut
1/4 cup sugar (reduced from 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda
1/2 teaspoon ground spice (ie cinnamon)
1/2 cup chopped dates (added for taste and sweetness)
3/4 cup vegetable oil

To Make
Mix dry ingredients together with dates in a bowl. Add oil and combine with water as needed to make a moist dough. Form into balls and press out onto a greased baking tray. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C.



Comments
The dates add a lot of taste to them but I did find that they were quite dry. These biscuits would last well traveling months at sea. Go well with a cup of hot chai!

Both kids said they were yum! We went through them in about 2 days. The hubby reckoned he needed a lot of coffee to wash them down.

Healthy but do miss all that butter and sugar that's found in the traditional recipe.

Check out what my fellow blogging marthoners are cooking today.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Favourite Chocolate Cake Recipe

I am participating in the week long blogging marathon over at the Spicing Your Life blog for the first time. The aim is to cook and post seven different dishes over seven days. My theme is No Butter Bakes for Diet. I have decided to go hard core and as well as replacing the butter in baking recipes also try and subsitute white flour for wholemeal/ atta flour and reduce the sugar. Can sweet treats be more healthy? Let's see how I go!

This has to be my favourite chocolate cake recipe. Its so quick and easy that I often cook it with my kids. Lately I've been giving Shaan and Kalyani both a bowl each and they will make up their own cake (with some assistance from me). That means one cake to eat and one cake to freeze.

Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup plain white flour (1/2 cup substituted with wholemeal)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar (reduced to 3/4 cup)
1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup water(250mL)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vinegar

To Make
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Do not over mix. Pour into greased baking dish. Cook at 180C for 30-40mins.


Comments
I cooked this recipe for Shaan's 2nd birthday. I know I ruined any reduction in sugar in the cake with all the icing, smarties and hundreds and thousands. :) The cake turned out really well. I definitely couldn't tell that it had less sugar in it, olive oil and wholemeal flour.

Check out what my fellow bloggers are cooking this week here.