Toiletries in your pantry

Honey read out to me a few nights ago about a lady in the US who lives on food stamps... apparently they do not cover toiletries (which is about as sensible as the Australian govt adding GST to some of the hygiene products it does) and it is causing her all sorts of problems such as sending kids to school clean. I cannot stop thinking about her. So I thought I would test some alternative soaps from the kitchen.

I love a milk bath but not everyone has access to a bath or the time for one. When my baby nephew was at our place a few weeks ago, I bathed him in milky water every night. It kept his skin soft and if he swallowed any bath water it was not a big drama.

How could I take the milk-bath experience to the shower? I have a huge plastic movie cup that I filled half way with water and popped a teaspoon of milk powder into...VJ's bath had UHT milk added (about a cup full)... so either is fine.

I grabbed a washer and used it to put the milky solution over me and washed it off in the shower. Not quite as relaxing as a milk-bath but at least I didn't have Professor Snape hair afterward (as I always seem to get from having a bath).

Oat bath

There are 2 ways to do this... I used oat flour (which was rolled oats blended into a powder... yes left over from the sourdough recipe) added to warm water. You can also use oats put into a cloth bag and dunk like a tea bag into the bath water.

My skin felt “squeeky” in the water as opposed to “silky” in a milk-bath. However it was relaxing and I emerged feeling very clean (I had cleaned 2 bathrooms on a hot day and was covered in sweat beforehand).

I have not yet tried taking this to a shower but I assume I will try the flour in a large cup of water thing again.



   IMG_0617[1] 3 weeks ago, I had a craving for apple pie, I searched the internet for a GF recipe for pastry and found one to try. It was disappointing. The pastry did not stay together and was rather holey on the top. It tasted ok but it was not the smooth texture I love in a pie.
The local foodworks sells a brand of apple pie that Honey and I both like... actually I loved it until I experimented and realised I liked the apple filling better from the pie I made (Which was made from raw apples not steamed) and I also realised that there is palm oil in it.
I decided to look for alternatives, while talking to my awesome cook friend Ebony... we realised that every GF thing she makes me is just her regular recipe with white wings GF flour substituted with the wheat flour. She has a secret family recipe that she shared with me. Maybe you are aware of a great recipe for pastry too but are unsure how to convert it... I backed off the water slightly so that the dough was not too sticky and added 1 tsp of xantham gum. It may be helpful to know that the recipe called for eggs which is also another good substitute for gluten in the GF flour... giving the dough elasticity.
IMG_0619[1]The result... very yummy apple pie.
 This is where I found the apple filling recipe, I do not recommend the pastry however. The second time I made this my computer was playing up and I remembered the basic ingredients but had to guess at the ratios. It worked just fine.
But how does the EDC recipes for pastry compare to my BFFs Aunty Thel's biscuit pastry? Well tonight I found out. Its not easy to miss out on pies when you know what you are missing. Honey is fantastic about not “rubbing it in” that his digestive system is more cooperative than mine... but today he was hungry and while he was eating... I remembered how much I loved an O'Grady's pie back in the day.

So the mince I had taken out of the freezer yesterday with the intention of making bolognese was re-purposed and I made a GF pie with TM shortcrust pastry on the bottom, TM savoury mince in the middle, TM puff pastry on top and TM mushy peas on the side.
The idea was to take the recipe, use White Wings GF flour, xantham gum and back off the liquid just a bit. Well I forgot the Xanthum Gum in the shortcrust pastry. It was nice raw; held together in a ball quite well but very uncooperative for the rolling pin. I ended up pressing it into the pie plate and putting the mince on top. I will try this again another time with the gum. IMG_0621[1]

I just chucked a bit here and there from the fridge... 400g mince, 1 onion (Chopped it first on speed 7 and cooked on varoma speed slow with a dash of oil) 1 medium red capsicum (wizzed speed 7 with cooked onions, cooked a further minute) a few chopped mushrooms, an MC of red wine, MC of water, stock pdr, vegemite and a very heaped tbs for corn flour. Cooked on Varoma temp for 15 minutes. While I rolled out the pastry.
Looking back I perhaps should have rolled the pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper. It would have saved the fold marks from appearing in the top. This one was much easier to roll but picking it up in one go was a challenge. Perhaps there is a trick to it. There was just enough left over to try making a vol au vent or 2. They turned out more like a savoury biscuit, but were nice enough but certainly not like ordinary puff pastry, more akin to a shortcrust.
The pie was very filling and very nice (we usually like a ¼ slice of quiche but a 1/5 slice is probably more do-able for the pie- unless you are fanging... really hungry). It held together better than I expected (esp considering that I was tired of waiting and did not give it standing time before cutting). I can also confirm that the pie was very lovely re-heated and cold the day after. I now dream of making small pies, popping them in the freezer and having them for lunches. I think next time, I would use cubed beef rather than minced beef for a more gourmet “feel” to the pie. For an evening meal pie, I would probably do a mashed potato lid next as there is rather a lot of butter in the pastry. IMG_0620[1]
I had cooked the pie in the oven at 200c for 20 mins and backed it off to 180 for another 20 mins (as per puff pastry directions). While that was going, I cleaned my TM bowl and popped half a bag of baby peas into Thermie cooked it with a tsp of sugar, dash of salt and an MC or 2 (100-200mL) of water at varoma temp speed slow for 10 mins (MC firmly in place). I then checked it had enough water, popped it onto speed 4 and cooked it for another 5 minutes... the most delicious pie peas ever.
The next recipe I tried and used 40g of iced water

Puff Pastry
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 80g lard (I used more butter)
  • 250g cake flour (GF) and I tsp xanthum gum
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 50g to 100g icy water
Make your pastry by chopping butter into into cubes. Place into the fridge on a plate or shallow bowl.
Place flour into TM bowl and press turbo button 2x to seive.
Place remaining pastry ingredients except water into Thermomix bowl and blend for 5 sec/speed 6. You should have a breadcrumb look.
Add water starting with 50g and add more if needed... and knead for 10-20 seconds until dough forms a rough mass. You should still be able to see small chunks of butter. Remove dough and roll out into a rectangle on floured surface.
Fold each end of the pastry over on top of itself in thirds.
Roll again and repeat this process 3-4 times.
There are a few more puff pastry recipes around I would love to try but they require a silicone mat (which are $40 to $60). So that will be not for a while.
Its funny I thought if I packed my TM away I would “never” use it (and was quite annoyed at Honey when he wanted it to be in its home more)...but since I have to pack it away each night... I'm using it more than ever. The more I use it; the more I love it. We lent our Kogan to a friend... maybe I can get him to write a blog or 2... I cannot say I would be lending my Thermomix any time soon though, I'm just not that generous.

Shopping Shopping....

Saving money is what all thermo-machines claim you can do if you buy it. In fact, my TM queen BFF saves as much money in a fortnight on groceries as it cost me to have the TM on a payment plan and have it paid off in under 1 year. In her case, she was saving heaps of money on school lunches which were also healthier and saving money buying things in bulk and making from scratch.

Until recently I missed the bulk part... I was going to the veggie department seeing tomatoes for $5/kg saying to myself “forget that” and walking a few metres to grab it in a can for about $1.50. The key here is to shop smart... I got that from Jamie Oliver...

Also canned tomatoes are not all that good for you, we have recently switched to bottled, and today I plan on making our own passata.

IMG_0616[1]To make the pureed tomatoes you don't need the perfect ones... go to the local fruit and veggie store I absolutely love Capricorn Fruit Supplies the staff are friendly and helpful, they reward loyalty and you can get “cooking” and “juicing” fruits and veggies for cheaper. It is there that you can save money by pureeing and cooking the fresh tomatoes in your machine. I can't wait till our tomatoes start growing... I have plans for you.

I didn't get my tomatoes in bulk today but I ended up spending about the same amount of money for tomatoes as I spend on passata. The TM kind was thicker and I used up some red capsicum that was left over. It made one jars worth with a smidge left over that I will pop on my “risoni” with some cheese for lunch. It was very yummy. I used 1 kg tomatoes (Topped and tailed so our chooks have some food), 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, Italian herbs... pulverise speed 10 1 minute, cook varoma, speed soft 30 mins.

Juicing oranges were cheap so I'm also testing out the OJ.

Ok its done, and its quite yummy. Honey and I do not generally drink soft-drink. When we go to friends places or have people over, we feel obligated to buy some... and then finish it when they are gone you know the cycle. I would feel totally comfortable serving this to my friends who come to visit. Now for the icing on the cake...

I have been experimenting with alternative spray and wipes. One I tried was with baking soda and a tiny bit of detergent, it worked but I will tweek it a little, but my main beef is that I was re-using a container that was broken so I squeezed the trigger and there was mess everywhere. Waste not want not... it sits by the sink and I use it to clean the dishes... and wait patiently for another spray bottle to re-purpose.

IMG_0615[1] My vinegar and water combination needs tweeking too. I have read that citrus vinegar is better and thought of “cheating” with some essential oil... but I am never in the right place with the right cash. Its funny the way life works because now I did not even have to take the scraps to the bin, I popped them in a glass jar filled it with vinegar and get to test yet another handy recipe.

For all our readers who want a thermo-machine but are still mulling over the details... I found this today and it might help.


Spaghetti Bolognese Ragu

Dairy free, Egg free, Gluten free Bolognase and Lasagne/Moussaka

I have not made Spaghetti sauce exactly the way the EDC book suggested I make it in the entire time I have owned a TM until yesterday. I learnt to make salsa (as my friend Gladdys calls it) when I lived in Sydney and I have never used a jar of dolmio since. Gladdys is an exceptional cook and she would make this with gnocchi (from scratch) to go with it. I am not been able to enjoy instant gnocchi now either... fortunately the TM also makes fantastic fresh gnocchi and it is easy... it was one of the first things I made with my sister's TM waaay before purchasing my own.
It used to take a lot of chopping to make the salsa but for the longest time I have chopped everything in the TM and transferred all ingredients to the slow cooker to finish off... it certainly saved my wrists, elbows and feet from RSI. Before TM; it was not uncommon to find a hair in the salsa which was completely embarrassing but it was a lot of stirring to get it right. My family forgave me because it was yummy.
The first time I tried cooking the salsa in the TM; I changed the recipe around, I just did not see how it would work “dumping it all in together”. It certainly was not cooked for long enough in my opinion; and when it came out of the TM, the sauce was very fine and I liked mine chunky.
It took two things to make me try it exactly the way it is in the recipe... hearing my family member tell me how easy and nice it was (but I didn't really trust her... her old method of making SB was browning mince and tossing in a can of heinz spaghetti) and much more-so reading a blog and recipe by Iron Chef Shelly here. Hey if it was good enough for an Iron chef it was good enough for me I decided.

MyCook instructions

1. Heat oil in jar. 120c, 1 minute, sauté. Set timer again for 5 mins, 120c, sauté Add onion, garlic, carrot, oregano and basil into jar in that order. In the last few minutes add celery
2. Add minced beef and pork, bay leaf, salt and nutmeg and cook for 8 mins, 120c, sp 1
3. Add remaining ingredients and cook 15 mins, 120c, sp 1, MB on, take it off for last 5 minutes to allow sauce to reduce

Serve on a bed of cooked pasta. For Carb/egg free use zoodles or Carrot spaghetti.
Other Thermo-machine instructions 
1. Place celery, carrot, onion, garlic, oregano and basil into mixing jug and chop 5 sec/speed 7.
2. Add oil, minced beef and pork (to rice basket add salt and pepper and drizzle over wine), bay leaf, and nutmeg and cook for 10 min/steam temp/ measuring cup on

3. Add remaining ingredients and cook 20 min/100 C/Speed 1

Serve on a bed of cooked pasta. For Carb/egg free use zoodles or Carrot spaghetti.

Pasta Dough

300g Gluten Free flour (100 of which can be milled brown rice)
1 tbs EVOO (olive oil)
3 eggs (have a spare)

Add all ingredients to jar.

Press the knead button (looks like a rolling pin on MyCook, wheat symbol on TM)... If you do not have a knead button mix sp 6 for 10 seconds, then sp 1, 1-2 mins

Knead till it looks like playdough. If it is not coming together properly add half an egg shell of water to the mix.

Roll flat and put through pasta roller or scroll it up into a sausage shape and cut into similar size circles with a knife. Un-roll... looks a little wonky but is delish.

I still prefer chunky salsa, but I love that I can add heaps of veggies and Honey does not notice. I have to admit however I love the finer salsa for making lasagne. There is also one other slight tweak I did... I used entirely Beef mince, changed the oregano to Italian herbs and left out the nutmeg... I just couldn't make myself do it. I also make it with all wine and no water now, never use tinned tomatoes always passata.
So this morning I rolled out some pasta and assembled the lasagne, it made 3 layers (I usually get two)... or if I am completely lazy I just dump the salsa in then some small pasta like spirals (par-cooked) and top with TM cheese sauce. The benefit of this is you can use a round bowl (and my MIL potted me a special one to use- but for this time; I had not made enough sauce for it and my rolling pin would not cope with making a pasta layer that wide).
I used the scraps to make spaghetti and kind of risoni (You cannot buy GF risoni- I usually just swap it for rice in recipes) and popped them in the fridge for tomorrow.
My first attempt at fresh lasagne was using a lentil bolognese recipe here I of course just popped it all in the TM to cook.As I had also made cabonara that day for dinner, the vego lasagne was popped into the fridge for lunches. I ate some cold for breakfast the next day and the most incredible thing of all was that the cold pasta was not rubbery, so Honey and I had some for lunch and he commented that he preferred the beef one but the lentil lasagne was not too bad. Breakfast this morning was the last slice, reheated and it was nice that way too. Therefore I have a new favourite pasta... yea!
Our beef Lasagne was very yummy, we finished off the whole thing in one go. For df lasagne use coconut milk and oil to make bechamel sauce, add nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavour when sauce is finished cooking. For egg free use finely sliced potatoes or eggplant instead of pasta for a delicious moussaka. 


Gift Ideas for the Thermo-Chick

I may have mentioned some of this information before, but there are some updates...

Greek yoghurt... I buy it mostly in buckets the Jalna brand has no “weird” ingredients... just milk, cream and bacteria... I found this site a few days ago

Really the main reason I do not make my own yoghurt much is the straining. It takes up so much room in the fridge. I love that this strainer is a taller and narrower which would take up less shelf space. I use Greek style yoghurt and sometimes labneh (which is strained Greek yoghurt or Lebanese yoghurt-cheese) instead of sour cream... and its healthier, add some honey or maple syrup and its nice with fruit for breakfast, love it in juice shakes, pancakes and guacamole the list is endless.

Unsalted tomato paste... I used to buy it in the plastic but that's not so healthy and glass is so much more useful. To stop the green taking over... a trick I learnt when I was a nanny is to add some extra-virgin olive oil to the TP close the lid and roll it around so that the TP is covered...that seals makes a barrier so the air cannot get in. If the EVOO is runny, re-use it; if its hard pop it in to whatever you are making for the oil part.

Tomato passata... this recently replaced canned tomatoes in my kitchen. Glass is so much easier to re-purpose than tin and re-purpose is more earth friendly than recycling. In the past I have even used these lovely shaped glass bottles as vases to gift flowers in, with a little ribbon to cover the top.

Red and white wine... what can I say it gives the meat dishes depth.

Rice... sweet, savoury breakfast, lunch or dinner, grind it to a flour love it.

Block cheese... wizz it in the TM and you have grated cheese. The block seems to keep better in the fridge though and is a bit cheaper when you buy it in the 1kg blocks.

Parmigiana cheese... not the powder, the fresh stuff. Keeps very well in the freezer.

Italian herbs, Tuscan seasoning, veggie stock, Mexican Chilli, smoky paprika.

Powdered milk, so handy. When making things like custard and béchamel sauce... most people really can't tell the difference so if you are trying to keep your fresh milk for coffee and breakfast... this is a clever substitute.

Pink silicone spatulas... very cheap from spotlight and so useful.

I still have a grater, because sometimes I forget to grate the cheese before I cook in the TM. It makes me appreciate the times I can just wizz it up.

And a gadget I would absolutely love is a zoodle maker. Not the fancy one on this site, just one that looks like a peeler. The oil does not interest me either but how cool are these... sometimes it is a lot of work to clean the blades. Don't know that I need 40 of these though, but they look very handy.


Aunty Thel's Biscuit Pastry

I am beyond pleased to tell you that my BFF checked with her family and it's ok to share the pastry recipe with you. I feel honoured that I am able to honour the memory of a wonderful lady by posting one of her recipes. The one request her family made was that it continue to be known as “Aunty Thel's biscuit pastry”.
You will need
  • 1 cup SR flour (I use white wings/freefrom  GF flour)
  • ½ cup icing sugar (I used raw sugar and it worked, or you can wizz it in your TM... before putting other ingredients in)
  • ¼ cup corn flour (Be sure to use maize corn flour not “wheaten cornflour” which is made of wheat)
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tbs marg (butter works too)
  • 1 egg
  • Sift dry ingredients
  • Rub in marg
  • add well beaten egg and cut through with knife
  • knead in bowl
  • roll out as required (Its yummy raw)
  • bake in moderate oven til golden brown (approx ½ hour)
THERMO method (I used a double mix so that there was enough for a crust and lid... it all fit)
  • pop dry ingredients into TM bowl, turn the dial to closed lid position
  • press turbo for 2 seconds to sive the dry ingredients.
  • Weigh in the butter- 60g = 3 tbs, use speed 5, 5-10 seconds til mix looks like breadcrumbs
  • Add egg, turn dial to closed lid position, press the knead button (Looks like wheat)
  • knead till the dough comes together (I think mine took about 20 seconds)
  • bake in moderate oven till golden brown.
Time to test it on the people blessed with cooperative digestion systems; that's right the “glutenli-abled” or people who do not have to eat GF food if they don't choose to...
I took this pastry (as an apple pie) to 9 friends, and we were quite full by the time dessert came out... and it was a hit. They liked it as much as we did. Yea!

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