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Friday, 17 May 2013

Remove Tomato Sauce Residue from Plastics–Easy!

I absolutely hate the mess tomato-based sauces make to plastic storage containers – even when you don’t heat food in them. It feels like you can’t rid of the oily red slick no matter how much detergent, hot water & scrubbing you employ.

This wee trick just makes it a much smoother exercise:

  1. Rinse food residue out. Shake out water, don't dry;
  2. Sprinkle a layer of baking soda (bicarbonate soda) all over. Go occupy yourself for five minutes (i.e. do the other dishes!);
  3. With your hand lightly rub the soda over all the stained areas. No strenuous effort required. Wear gloves if you have sensitive skin. See how it absorbs the residue?
  4. Shake out contents into the bin and wash as usual (n.b. last image is pre washing).

Grease and odour all taken care of! Now what’s for dessert?

Tomato sauce

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Holy Galactogogue the Lactation Biscuit

Entering the domain of motherhood uncovers a whole other world, a most intriguing place it is. In this realm lives “galactagogues” (I love this word!), which basically refers to substances – herbal or medicinal that increase milk production. I have been introduced to some of these on my journey over the last 15 weeks. The efficacy of which is all open to debate but some are more pleasant than others. These cookies have been a staple in my household since the week before baby arrived, largely due to their popularity with everyone else as well as serving a great bite sized snack for me when baby wrangling proves to be a handful.  The recipe features ingredients that have been recognised as “galactogogues” – oats, linseed meal and brewer’s yeast.

The following recipe is courtesy of Breastmates.co.nz and I have had a lot of fun trying variations.  They are really simple to make and the quantities below makes heaps!  I find it freezes beautifully and the reality with a newborn in the house I have only really been successful with cooking if I can do it in stages as I never get a chance to finish any recipe from start to finish. I also find that these roll and handle beautifully if they have been in the refrigerator.  The following recipe will yield  at least 3 x 24 batches so knock ‘em out, keep them in the fridge/freezer and bake them as you need them.  These have been a tremendous hit with blokes. Mr T is the first person to show up when these come out of the oven!  My BIL also posted a hilarious faux pas on his FB status update by calling them “lactating cookies” which invited an amusing confusion from his friend, the author, Armistead Maupin (followed by some quick explanations from me assuring them the biscuits were not lactating!).

Lactation Biscuits

A tasty little recipe that will also help to improve the quality and supply of breast milk.  Widely used by mothers!  If you have 2-3 smallish ones a day it balances out supply but if you need to boost the supply eat more.

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup butter or marg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons linseed (flaxseed) meal*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups oats, thick cut if you can get them
  • 1 cup or more chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons of brewers yeast* (be generous)

Directions:

Preheat oven at 375 degrees F, 180c. Mix together 2 tablespoons of linseed meal and water, set aside for 3-5 minutes. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mix well. Stir linseed mixture and add with vanilla to the margarine mix. Beat until blended. Sift together dry ingredients, except oats and chips. Add to margarine mixture. Stir in oats & chips. Scoop onto baking sheet lined with baking paper.

Bake 8-12 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Serves: 6 dozen cookies (a huge batch)

Preparation time: 15 minutes

*NOTE* IT MUST BE BREWERS YEAST, NO SUBSTITUTIONS. Bakers yeast will NOT do - it must be brewer's yeast.   Flaxseed is just the American name for Linseed.

Variations

CookiesPost

So I have been mixing up this recipe quite a lot with varying results. I have gauged their success  by their popularity at home and with my parents’ group.

My now consistent inclusions for this recipe include:

  • Good quality butter – in our case NZ butter
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Dried cranberries – their tartness with the dark chocolate is fantastic
  • Dried blueberries – same reason as cranberries and also antioxidant properties
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds added to flaxmeal mix
  • 2 cups flour is replaced with 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup almond meal and 3/4 wholemeal self raising (the self raising helps the biscuit spread, you get more out of the batch and it is less dense)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon (or in my case “shake shake shake” till I like the aroma)
    Ground allspice (same as above!)
  • Sugar – only use brown and raw sugars – prefer the caramelly nature of those sugars compared to white
  • Roasted coconut chips, slivered almonds or roasted pistachios (whatever I have in the cupboard) 

Variation 1 – No Sugar/ Butter

Using the same biscuit dry ingredients as per the recipe, the sugar and eggs are replaced with 3 mashed bananas or a cup of apple pie filling. Butter is replaced with 1/2 cup of coconut butter. Prepare all dry ingredients separately and add the combined wet ingredients to the mix. This is the more earnest version and low guilt factor. Didn’t have the more-ish factor according to my group of mums and husband.  This might not always be a bad thing!

Variation 2 – Reduced Sugar

By halving the sugar and adding a cup of apple pie filling you can pat yourself on the back a little more.  Add the apple filling just after creaming sugars, vanilla and egg.  This is a more moist mixture and doesn’t keep as long in the fridge before cooking. This is the less earnest version and its healthful benefits can be hidden from consumers!

My next experiment may involve the Queen of Galactogogues, fenugreek, being added to this recipe, however in the meantime I am busy using that in an Indian fudge-style dish instead which takes way too much time but is bloody delicious.

In the meantime fill your freezer with the above recipe and experiments – you can’t go wrong and you can cook up a batch so quickly if you have surprise guests (as have a habit of arriving when there is a newborn). Or be good to a new mum and bake her a batch or give her some dough to use as she needs.

And if you find that quiet moment (this is a bit of a fantasy of mine too!) – sit back and enjoy!

Cookies

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

So a Funny Thing Happened… (Involves a Large Canine)

So up there in the list of peculiar experiences recently had to be the arrival of a late night visitor on our door step. One that left us all a little baffled but heartened by the experience!

Setting the scene – mid week family dinner in honour of mother-in-law visit. Needing to be in bed early for overnight feeds I said “good night” and went off to bed. Around 10.00pm I could vaguely hear farewells at the door. I started to suspect there was something amiss when the whispers had a note of panic in them and an exchange taking place between my guests, husband and mother-in-law. I tried to resist flying down the hallway figuring if there was actual danger someone would raise the alarm (and try to get out of this “panicked mama bear” I seem to so readily adopt these days).

That lasted until I heard a “thud” then slightly louder urgent voices. So that’s when I did fly down the hall, hang a left to get to my front door, and met Exhibit A :

Chopper

Barely restrained by the least resilient of our dog leads and while sitting reaching Mr T’s thighs, this canine made quite the impression as I tried to establish whether I was in fact awake.  Mr T hurriedly filled me in as my shocked expression screamed everything from “what the…?” “is he tame?”, “where’s the baby?”. It went:

  • Found him in the driveway;
  • Guests say they saw him earlier in the evening down the road when they arrived (did he follow them? then how long had he been sitting outside?);
  • When they opened the door he walked right in and sat down in our lounge (!?!?)

Trying to work out what to do a rapid pace I said I better take some photos of him and post them up to see if anyone has listed him missing. I grabbed my phone and approached the dog cautiously and asked him if I could take a few photos. He seemed quite amenable but difficult to restrain on the lead as he was so super strong. As I came up to him to take a better shot in the light he lay down, front paws spreadeagled, and rested his large head on my foot. He seemed exhausted and begging for affection.  We checked him for injuries and agreed he was far too clean, healthy, gentle and appearing loved to have been abandoned and that there must be someone out there desperately looking for him.

Mr T bravely decided to (attempt) to walk him up and down the road to see if anyone was looking for him, not before however the dog decided to have another lie down back in the lounge again!  I quickly started posting pics and tried to locate a vet or animal facility that was willing to take him for the night. In the meantime our dogs are going nuts in the backyard wanting to know what playmate we brought home for them!  While we toyed with keeping him overnight we weren’t 100% sure of his temperament and didn’t want to find out the hard way with two much smaller dogs and an infant in the house to think of.  It was an agonising discussion and despite the mother-in-law’s entirely unhelpful suggestions, Mr T and I were very much on the same page that we would do whatever we could to keep the dog safe overnight.

I contacted the Rockdale City Council Animal rangers who were beyond unbelievably unhelpful – we got told he wasn’t injured so not a priority, they might get there tonight or not and why don’t we “leave him in the front yard in case anyone can make it”!!!  So disgusted that they were so willing to leave him to be injured I decided to ring around for any institution that could safely house him for the night.  The only willing group was the Sydney University Animal Hospital (SAVES) and despite potentially being fined by the Council for taking him in they instructed us to bring him over. 

Mr T returned bleary eyed at 1am and we assured each other that we had done the right thing and the dog would be safe. He was microchipped but they couldn’t get a read on it. So even after I fed baby and turned in for the night we collectively worried about him into the morning!

Rockdale City Council again affirmed they operate like an amateur theatre production with a generous rate revenue take by the appearance of a churlish ranger banging on my front door at 6.15am (Yes!!). I answered the door with a less than amused expression on my face having just finished breastfeeding and putting my baby down. He continued to behave like an ass and vaguely apologised for the hour. He then had the gall to whine about the inconvenience and blatantly lied about someone having come through the area the night before at midnight (our lights were on remember!). He just looked plain pissed that the dog had gone to SAVES. He clearly needed a new vocation.

After running some errands that day I had to call SAVES to find out if they had any luck at at finding the dog’s owners as we were still worried about him. They couldn’t and the poor dog had gone to Sydney Cats and Dogs Home. The lady at SAVES mentioned that again Rockdale City Council could not be bothered coming to get him until they were pressured (getting the picture?). With this playing on my mind when I got home I was over the moon excited to find a flyer in the mail box for who turned out to be “Chopper”. I made an excited phone call to the owner who was unsurprisingly relieved. After an exchange of messages to let me know Chopper was safe and was coming home we had an SMS conversation – turns out Chopper was originally rehomed after having been abandoned by owners in Woollongong. He had only recently moved in the area and got quite lost not knowing where to go. He had been missing since 3pm which explained why he was just happy to go to sleep in our living room for a while!

I don’t know how he found us or knew that we would look after him, or even how long had he waited outside our house but we’re glad that he was back in a loving home because he is one sweet (but massive!) dog!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Woods Deli & Cafe – A Suburban Secret

I became all too painfully aware when venturing beyond Sydney’s inner western suburbs that decent cafes were one of the first sacrifices to be made so it was such a relief to hear that the Earlwood border with Clemton Park was now home to quite a pleasant offering.

The Woods opened in 2011 and is the labour of love of chef Emma Woods (hence the name and the convenient tie in to earlWOOD!). With names like Rockpool, Billy Kwong, Rick Stein Restaurant, The Swell and the Light Brigade Hotel under her belt, the dishes were never going to be boring or woefully common.

TheWoods.jpg

I have visited there now an embarrassingly number of times but the fact that I have been fortunate enough to get a table, fast and friendly service and delicious meals more times than not has had me returning time and time and again.  The menu is well thought out and packed with fresh flavours – you do not leave hungry but your eyes wickedly entice you try something sweet from the counter.  Serving Stazione Espresso coffee they have become a popular stop for the afterschool pickup crowd and you will encounter many young things quite expert in ordering their carer’s favourite brew.  Bread comes from Infinity Bakery in Darlinghurst.  Also available are a selection of homemade jams and relishes and all food is prepared on the premises.  They are also offering dinners on the last Saturday of the month which hopefully when we find a babysitter we might be able to go along to!

The menu has evolved from the website listings taking into account available produce. The staples on the breakfast menu (delightfully available till 3pm) are consistently good and the a la carte menu features some lovely pasta dishes, grills etc so that you can have a “special occasion” meal with friends & family without feeling like you have battled the rest of Sydney to get there.

Some of my favourite dishes (and ones regularly on the menu):

  • White chocolate croissant cake – yes a mega slice of this delicious almost pudding like cake will knock yWoodsCroissant.jpgou flat on your a…s. A stretchy waistband is required. Layers of fluffy croissant encased in white chocolate will have you heading for the diet confessional in no time!;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Chorizo omelette – packed with chorizo, feta and spinach, every mouthful will have you declining every boring eggy omelette mess from anyone else forever! In fact you could call it a “Nom-lette”;

WoodsNomlette

  • Fried eggs on a bed of herby salad greens, chickpeas, oyster sauce, pumpkin, topped with fried shallots is a moreish taste sensation. Almost a dish of “Here a few of my favourite things. I would also see myself consuming it as a hangover cure by justifying that it was healthy.WoodsEggs.jpg

 

 

The Woods Cafe & Deli
160 William Street
Earlwood

http://www.thewoodscafe.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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