Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Toddler art work

Ellie came home from day care and proudly pulled a wrinkled piece of paper from her bag to present to me.

I know I'm a nerd because my first thought was to admire the paper and fondly recall the days when reams of the stuff spooled from dot matrix printers everywhere... ahem.

Then I focused on her drawing and asked her to tell me about it.

E: Mama, I made you a picture! The blue one is you mummy. See, that's your legs and your hair and you're smiling mama! And that's a sun, see how it's shining. And daddy is a banana. And the green one {under the 'banana'} is baby Jimmy mama.
M: But Ellie, where are you?
E: I didn't feel like being in my drawing mama. It's for you! Put it on the fridge please.
Oh I love the whole thing, picture, conversation and interaction! And I was not about to argue with daddy being a banana because for once, I am the tall one in the family and just look at my gloriously long legs!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Recipe: Roast vegetable pasta sauce

Reading back through some of my draft posts, I realise I never posted this one. And quite frankly, it's a keeper because it's simple, adaptable and tastes amazing. I mean, I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it is. Even Jimmy and Ellie will gobble this stuff down, so it's kid friendly as well.

I use it as a pasta sauce, but really, you could use it for a whole range of things - a base for lasagna, or the beginnings of a truly delicious soup come to mind.
Roast vegetable pasta sauce
printable link

  • assorted vegetables to roast - in this version I've used tomatoes, eggplant, carrot, celery and the sad looking mushroom and capsicum pieces left in the crisper drawer
  • olive oil 
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic cloves
  1. Cut all of the vegetables to a uniform size and put into a baking pan. Drizzle over the olive oil and some balsamic vinegar to taste, then roast until everything is collapsed.
  2. Put your pasta on to cook, and while it's cooking away;
  3. Heat up a fry pan and add a bit of olive oil and some minced up garlic. While that's getting nice and fragrant, process the roast vegetable mixture until it's at your desired consistency.
  4. Add the roasted vegetable mix into the garlic and heat it up. Check for seasoning and when the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan so it gets lovely and coated. You may need to add a little bit of the pasta water if your sauce is too thick.
  • This is a very forgiving recipe. I use it to avoid wasting vegetables that have seen better days - whatever I have in the fridge really, as long as there are some tomatoes in there to tie it all together. It's also handy for using up loads of home grown veggies in a tasty way.
  • Because it's so easy to make, I often make up the tray of vegetables and roast it while I have the oven on cooking something else. I then let it sit and marinate in the fridge overnight (because I find it develops better flavours) and then whizz it up and finish the sauce the next night for a speedy dinner.
  • I leave it a bit chunky but you could always process it more if you'd like a smoother sauce. Sometimes I add olives or capers before serving instead of using any salt. I like to tear fresh basil leaves and add just at the end too.
  • This recipe freezes beautifully too and makes for speedy dinner preparation when required!
How do you make your favourite pasta sauce?

Monday, January 4, 2016

What's in my kitchen, January 2016

When I went to type the title of this post, my fingers immediately typed 2015. Then I backspaced, and typed 2015 again. Probably by the time it gets to about June I'll be well in the habit of using that 6! Happy new year! Mr Fork and I had a quiet new year's celebration with out little family. We had a nice dinner at home, tucked the kids into bed and then... slightly later, put ourselves into bed too! Haha, yes, this is what it has come to. We couldn't even muster the energy to go to our nearby lookout and watch the children's fireworks at 8pm this year. Since they also weren't showing on TV, we decided that we didn't need to see them badly enough to keep the kids up late and so, early nights all around it was! Having said that, this year has started off fabulously. We have continued with the food fest started at Christmas and it's been just lovely having everyone home from work/daycare and being able to have unscheduled days and plenty of time catching up with family and friends. And food, always lots of food... hurrah for home cooking, stone fruit and sugary festive treats!

In my kitchen is...

a Kikki.k "For the love of good food and paper" book, given to me by our family secret santa. With a large family Christmas lunch, often in excess of 30 attendees, we have (thankfully) moved to buying just for one person instead of for all present. This means that gifts are often perfectly chosen for the receiver instead of just a gesture as inevitably happens when you have to buy for so many people. This book is full of little food related paper items, such as recipe cards, cupcake wrappers, pretty food related printed paper, and even pre-cut tags and boxes for packaging food gifts. It's such a 'me' present, I'm so pleased with it.
In my kitchen is...

Another well chosen Christmas present of nested measuring cups. Each hen splits in half so that the bottom and top half are different sized cup measures, and reveal another egg or hen inside. I love them, particularly for all the puns I get to make (both out loud and in my head) about them.
You know, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or when I get to 'crack' the egg. Every one needs a helping hen.
In my kitchen is...

The annual Christmas 'picky eater' loaf. I've mentioned that Christmas lunch is a big family affair to often morphs into dinner. It's a traditional meal too, with a turkey, chicken and ham with roast vegetables. As long as I've been attending, it's been my job to bring along a contribution for the vegan and 'picky eater' group. In my family, that's anyone that doesn't eat the roast meats, so I usually make my loaf vegan and gluten free to cater for everyone else. I also brought along my own jug of mushroom gravy so I was well fed.
Here's my plate, with the loaf and gravy, assorted roast vegetables and a felafel on the side in case I felt the need of it too. Surrounded by family, food and presents, it really was a great day.
In my kitchen is...

A bit of a cheat as it's not technically in my kitchen, but I did snap the pictures while shopping for things to go in the kitchen... so that sort of counts right? My local Woolworths (and Coles too, but I don't have a picture of that) have put up a display stand with free fruit for the kids to eat as they go through the store. Healthy food distraction for the win! I was able to get them both through most of the supermarket minus any demands for sugary snacks and was even asked to buy a few extra pieces of fruit as they looked so tasty (but weren't in the free fruit box) so we had to get some for eating later.
As can be seen here, Jimmy is an enormous fan. He loves his fruit and even finished off the remainder of Ellie's pear once she'd eaten all the tasty bits!
In my kitchen is...

The memory of Christmas supper. We had some dear friends over on Christmas eve for nibbles and drinks. Mr Fork and I even cracked open a bottle of Moet that we were given when Jimmy was born (and let me tell you, with the heat on Christmas eve, it went down very well!). We served plenty of dips and crackers, some cheese, lots of fresh fruit and there was even some homemade felafel balls and turkey sausage rolls as well. It was a lovely relaxed way to usher in Christmas, and for me, that was when it started to kick in that we were on holidays and things were starting to feel festive... just sitting down and sharing some drinks and food with great people. It helped that the children were on their best behaviour in anticipation of Santa visiting, and were very excited (and cute) putting out some carrots for the reindeer and a cherry ripe for Santa before turning in with their Santa sacks.
 In my kitchen is...

Another Christmas gift, a crumble dish. Notable for several reasons. It's pink! A pink baking dish, how delightful! It's for crumble. I love crumble and should I ever forget the recipe, it's printed right there - in the dish. Finally, the brand is Suzy Home Baker. I do so love a good pun! And a useful pink dish is a winner too.
Happy 2016 to you. I hope that it's off to a glorious and delicious start.

I am linking this post in with Maureen of Orgasmic Chef who is hosting the monthly In My Kitchen event for the first time. Thanks Maureen! Head on over to have a peek through many other kitchens!

What's in your kitchen this month?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas lunch and 2015 starts to wind down

Christmas has come and gone. To be honest, our house didn't feel very festive this year as we didn't have a tree set up. With Jimmy being a mobile destructor, it was much safer and less frustrating for me to avoid having to redecorate the tree every time he'd walk past and pull it down/everything off it. So we just didn't. It was bad enough having to do that at every low hanging tree we walked past while shopping! However, Christmas with children is always a joy, especially now Ellie is really starting to understand it. Both of the kids were utterly spoilt with gifts, and Mr Fork and I also had a few small packages to open - as it should be really.

For me, Christmas is all about the food anyway. I've eaten my body weight in stone fruit and I intend to continue while I can get them! Christmas lunch (which morphed into dinner too) was spent with family. Despite the heat there was a proper feast - plenty of turkey, chicken, ham and roast veggies. I brought along a vegan mushroom and lentil loaf, and my own jug of mushroom gravy, so I was well fed as by now everyone is kind enough to cook the vegetable separately. Here's my plate, with a felafel on the side in case I felt the need of it too. Surrounded by family, food and presents, it was a great day.
I thought with the holidays, I'd be able to write a bit more frequently but, life is busy! I find lately that I have been blogging much less than I would like... not through lack of content, but more through lack of time. I have decided that this is not necessarily a bad thing, as when I write now, it's because I want to, it's something I wanted to share so badly that I consciously made the time to sit down and publish it. I'm still out there blog stalking and reading but my own content may be a bit sporadic!

2015 has really been a great year. Sure, a year of sleep deprivation, but a year of watching my children grow and really start developing their own individuality. Jimmy has learned to walk and discovered solid food with a vengeance. Ellie is learning logic, and having conversations with her is a real delight as I'm never really sure just how she is going to respond.

I'm on holidays from work and it's been great to have uninterrupted time at home. We haven't done anything all that strenuous, but just being able to have a quick middle of the day nap while Mr Fork watches the children, or catch up on the pile of books and magazines I've been setting aside for later all through the year is a good thing.

With that in mind, I hope your 2015 ends with a bang (hopefully a lovely firework-y one for those who can stay up that late!!) and 2016 brings lots of good things. If I don't post again before year end, I'll see you all in the new year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Mornings are like...

Sweet milky breaths

Small arms with hidden strength

Homemade sourdough, slathered with nuttelex and vegemite

Coffee, brewed fresh and hot, steaming nicely

Triumphant hens clucking to herald fresh eggs

Early morning light

All before 6:30am!


What do your mornings look like?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Santa sack

Nearly two years ago, I posted about how I'd made Ellie's Santa sack.

I know that it's Jimmy's second Christmas this year, but I was in newborn sleep deprivation hell last year and didn't even think about his. In fact to be honest, I'm not sure I got him a present anyway, although quite frankly, sustaining him with milk two hourly round the clock was a pretty great gift I think!!!

Anyway, I finally got inspired and finished of Jimmy's sack last week. I bought the fabric from Spotlight (a pre printed Santa sack and 75cm of some contrasting Christmas fabric) and followed the instructions from here. It's about the size of a pillowcase, plenty of room for whatever Santa might deliver (which in Jimmy's case this year, I strongly suspect will be daycare necessities and maybe a new toothbrush)...
I think it turned out pretty well. Sure, I got distracted talking to the kids and had to unpick a few seams, and while I was re-sewing I wondered (as I always do when my sewing projects go awry) why I didn't just buy the silly thing. In the end though, I'm glad I persevered. 

How's your Christmas preparations going?

Sunday, December 6, 2015

In My Kitchen, December 2015

Cue shocked exclamations about how it's December already. But seriously, how is it December already? Summer has just started and if it continues on the way it's begun, it's going to be a long, hot season. Probably an expensive one too as we will be getting heavy use out of the air conditioning and blow up pool. I suppose that seems odd for my Northern hemisphere friends to think of a festive season with scorching heat. One of these days, I will experience a white Christmas. It's definitely on my bucket list! Perhaps when the kids are older and can appreciate it more...

In my kitchen is...

A selection of Nestar and Miss Sweetie vegan chocolates I won from a competition on veganopolous. I'm super pleased to discover an Australian based (in Melbourne) chocolatier that likes to source locally where possible. They make a mix of fruity and nutty chocolates (not pictured here is the ginger version, which was in no fit state to be photographed as it was ripped open for consumption immediately!). Everything I've tried so far has been delicious - the perfect blend of filling and chocolate. Thanks for introducing me to this fabulous brand Faye! I think a few packets will be finding their way into Christmas stockings in a few weeks... both other people's, and my own...

In my kitchen is...

Minimal ingredient vegan gravy, mainly to make a dinner of potato gems seem less 'thrown together' and more 'I put some actual effort in'. I love gravy. I'll be taking a modified mushroom version of this to Christmas lunch with the family, along with some kind of loaf as usual, to cater for the vegans and "picky eaters" as my family calls them (aka gluten free).

In my kitchen is...

Cuttings! In the small bottle there are some mushroom plants that I've been carefully nurturing. They started as just bare sticks and have now grown leaves and small roots. These are a fabulous plant - growing low to the ground and clumping to make a nice ground cover, the leaves smell and taste faintly of mushrooms. You can eat the leaves and stems as is in salad, or cooked in a stir fry.  This is my sole stock of the plant at the moment as my naughty chickens breached the protective fence around a garden bed and demolished an entire crop of corn, tomato, pumpkin and other edibles.

I also have a small sweet potato that those same naughty chickens unearthed from the sweet potato patch, but I managed to save it before it was consumed. It seemed silly to eat such a small specimen especially as it was a bit pecked, so I thought it would be a nice science experiment for Ellie to see it grow. We impaled it on some toothpicks and left it to sit in an ex-candle jar with water. It's now got some tiny little roots and some healthy looking leaves. She was quite impressed but now seems to have lost interest as it isn't really a speedy grower. The impatience of toddlers!

When I chicken proof my garden bed again, these will all be off into the outside again but for now they decorate my window sill.

In my kitchen is...

Treats for those undeserving chickens. With the weather so hot lately, I've taken up my old tradition of making icy treats for the animals which I distribute for them before I leave for work in the mornings. For the chickens, I put small pieces of vegetable scraps in an old container, top up with water and leave in the freezer overnight. They get all the fun of pecking frozen treats out of the ice cube the next morning. Yay for them! This ice block (seen from the side, below) has canned corn in it as I'd opened it to use half but forgot about the rest of it until making chicken treats.
The puppies get a similar block, sometimes I just use plain water and add a huge ice block to their water bowl, other times I'll freeze some of their dog biscuits into the middle (although where vegetables sink, the dog biscuits float so the sneaky puppies just wait for the cube to melt enough and then snaffle their treats from the top).

In my kitchen is...

Dried sourdough starter from Lorenzo, son of Priscilla. I have been making extra starter every time I make bread, drying and bagging it all up ready for this December post. Mr Fork is just about over the little plates of starter I have been spreading all around the kitchen. I'm going to restrict postage to within Australia only (sorry!), but I have a few packets to give away so if you'd like one, please let me know. 

I am linking this post in with Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event. As an aside, this is the last month that Celia will be hosting the event before it moves over to Maureen, the orgasmic chef, and I'd like to give her my sincere thanks for creating such a marvellous online kitchen tribe!

What's in your kitchen this month?


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