Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Recipe: Potato and Leek Soup


With the colder weather starting, I'm beginning to crave heartier dishes. To me, there is something very homely and comforting about a bowl of soup. It's one of the most flexible and forgiving of dishes, can feed quite a number of people, uses minimal pots, and is handy for using up the vegetables that might not look so fresh anymore. Also great for when you're sick and want something quick and easy!

It might not be the fanciest of meals, but it's comforting and delicious. Also, it gives me an excuse to make some fresh bread to eat along with it, and quite frankly, besides new baby smell, fresh bread baking ranks right up there in my top smells ever list.

I thought I might do a series of posts about my favourite soups and how we consume them here at Chez Fork.  I've posted before about my take on a French onion soup, so without further ado, this time I bring you, potato and leek.

Ingredients:

Potatoes (I used 4 large ones)
1 leek
Vegetable Stock – about 6 cups worth. I use Vegeta stock powder to make it up
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil

Method:
  1. Wash and finely chop your leek. Discard the green parts (I do put a bit of them in for colour). 
  2. Peel and chop your potatoes into 2 inch pieces. 
  3. Start with a good lug of olive oil into your soup pot. Add the garlic and leek and saute until fragrant. 
  4. Add your potatoes and stock and simmer until the potatoes are cooked. You may want to use more or less stock, depending on how thick you want your soup. 
  5. Take the soup off the heat and blend, either using a stick blender, or in batches in a regular blender. 
  6. Return to the stove for a further 10 minutes and season to taste.

I like to serve this garnished with fresh spring onions, or even some fried onions, and a side of crusty bread. So good!

Potato and leek soup

Variations:

  • To make it extra fancy, you could add some white wine after sautéing the onion, and leek, and just saute a little longer to burn off the alcohol.
  • Of course, cook seasonally. If leeks aren't in season, a bunch of spring onions will do just as well as a substitute. Use as you would the leeks.

What's your favourite soup? 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Easter exhaustion and the house of sick

Oh hello there! It's been awhile I know. A combination of a couple of long weekends in a row, followed by us becoming the house of sick on our return from the Easter long weekend away. I'll get to that.

Like last year at Easter, we got on a plane and went to visit Ellie's grandparents. It was a great holiday, so great, that we decided to repeat it again this year! It was a lovely trip, I mean, it's hard to wake up to this kind of view, but someone has to do it! Also, flying with a toddler is very different to flying with an infant (somewhat easier, and in other ways, so much harder too!). Moving on...

Easter views
There was lots of fun had. We visited relatives, ate a lot, took Ellie out on her first boat trip (she slept in my arms the entire way there and back!), swam in the pool, went to the beach and collected shells, and generally enjoyed ourselves not being at work. As usual, Ellie was spoiled mightily with chocolate and Easter goodies (including a certain pair of bunny pyjamas). Did I mention food? Well, it deserves a second mention because there was a lot of it. There might have been quite a bit of napping to be done as well... although I feel vain enough to need to point out that that is an iPhone cable under my head, not a massive grey hair streak.

Mr Fork being mysterious as usual
When we got back home, we were all a little off colour. I wrote it off to post holiday blues and put us all to bed. The next day however saw Mr Fork and Ellie packed off to the doctor post haste. Turns out, Ellie and Mr Fork both had tonsillitis. Mr Fork got glandular fever on top of that. The pharmacist was quite tickled to be making up matching daddy/daughter antibiotics. I only had a viral infection so no antibiotics for me. I say only with the utmost sarcasm, because I felt like death too, but as the least sick of the family, it was my job to do all the looking after. I've been so tired I could sleep for a week! Luckily, everyone is on the mend now, but my sanity and temper certainly suffered for awhile there.

It's either the terrible twos starting, or the fact that she's been sick, but Ellie has been off temper a bit too. After throwing an epic tantrum one day, her room suddenly went silent so I checked on her, only to find her asleep behind the door wrapped in her beloved blanket. I just had to take a picture of her it was that cute. She was so comfortable (even snoring) that I just let her sleep where she was instead of risking a mid nap move.

Floor naps
Speaking of that blanket, have I ever mentioned how much Ellie loves it? It's the texture she finds comfort in I think, as we have a similar smaller blanket for the car that has the same feel but a different colour. Being sick, she's been wanting blanket with her everywhere when we're home, and no matter how hot the day, if we're in the car, that one has to be draped over her legs too. I'm going somewhere with this.

I took her shopping during the week last week so that Mr Fork could have a break and get some rest. I was walking dead myself, but hopefully he'll remember what I did and return the favour one day. We were in Myer looking at the pyjamas when all of a sudden Ellie squealed with glee and disappeared into a rack of clothes. I found her in a rack of pink fluffy jackets, which looked and felt just like her blanket, rubbing them over her face. Then, I kid you not, she tore a jacket off it's hanger and started carrying it around the department, rubbing it on her face and sucking her thumb. There were tears when I refused to buy it for her but honestly... I just don't see myself wearing something like that EVER. I felt like the meanest mama in the world! Just look at those sad, sick eyes.

Sick, but still cute
How was your Easter break? I hope not as unhealthy as ours!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter happenings

On the weekend, Ellie had an Easter egg hunt with some of her friends. It was going to be in a park, but miserable rainy weather caused a last minute change of plans and we de-camped to a house instead. The hunt didn't suffer at all due to some ingenuity and the general age of the huntees meant they didn't know any better. In fact, I think the parents enjoyed it just as much - there was plenty of lovely afternoon tea to consume, photo taking opportunities, conversation with other adults (bliss!), and helping our small people to find eggs and play nicely together.

Putting on her serious look
I don't think Ellie is at the age where she can appreciate chocolate yet, so yesterday, while she was napping, I helped myself to some of her loot. What is it about Easter chocolate that makes it taste so much better than regular chocolate? Those simple, solid little Cadbury eggs are pure evil wrapped in coloured foil. I took to Facebook to confess my guilt about raiding my child's egg stash, and I was assured by other parents that I should take full advantage while she couldn't count how many were missing. I suppose that is one way to look at it. After her nap, I was on the phone for no longer than 5 minutes, and when I'd hung up, Ellie had climbed onto a chair and was reaching for the bowl of her eggs on the dining table. She also figured out how to peel the foil off and discovered the chocolate deliciousness inside. I suppose that is pay back for eating her stash. We then had to deal with a child on what can only be described as a sugar high come bedtime. So not fun.

Instead of giving Ellie more chocolate at Easter (because I know that her grandparents will have her well covered in that regard!), I took advantage of one of her day time naps to whip up a pair of bunny flannelette pyjamas (using my lounge pant method) and a matching drawstring bag. This cute little set took me about half an hour to complete and I was able to raid my fabric stash so I didn't cost me anything except some time and effort. I think being able to sew some basic clothing items is marvellous, especially because as she grows, Ellie doesn't really fit standard sizing. Her legs are so long but her waist so small that it's near impossible to get pants that don't show her ankles yet stay up at the waist. I'm sure day care think she has no clothes as I'm constantly using nappy pins to hold her pants up! Hopefully these pyjama bottoms do the trick and keep her warm at nights!

Flannelette bunny cuteness
Have you started eating those chocolate eggs yet? Do you do egg alternatives?

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's in my kitchen... April 2014

I am linking this post in with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's monthly In My Kitchen event.

In my kitchen is...

A delicious (organic and Australian!) almond and coconut milk that I bought on a whim. I don't drink dairy milks, and this one felt just a little bit special and decadent. It tastes it too, and I recognise all the ingredients in the list, which is something I always appreciate those times that I'm too lazy to make my own milks!

Organic almond and coconut goodness
Ingredients I understand!
In my kitchen is...

Lumberjack cake, something I got a strong hankering to make so I did. Apples, dates, coconut... all in moist delicious cake form? Yes please!

Full of apple and date goodness!
In my kitchen is...

Home grown goodness. Tiny tomatoes bursting with lots of organic sweetness and real tomato flavour. Dragonfruit lovingly gifted to me by my mother in law who knows how much I love them and saves the big tasty ones for me (I offered to share with Ellie but she turned her nose up... more for me!)

Nothing beats home grown

In my kitchen is...

A gorgeous Johnson Brother's platter, which unfortunately isn't here to stay. It's a gift for a friend at her kitchen tea. She doesn't read this blog so I can share and it was too pretty not to be photographed!

Johnson Brother's platter
In my kitchen is...

Lots of Nutella goodness, courtesy of a project I recently took part in. Aren't these little jars the sweetest thing? The coin is for scale comparison purposes. I think all things are cute when they are small.


In my kitchen is...

My two furry companions who like to be constantly underfoot. They really are efficient little hoovers, and will hover hopefully in the event that scraps fall to the floor. Ellie takes full advantage of this and will purposefully throw food on the ground when she is full or doesn't like it.


What is in your kitchen?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Recipe: Lumberjack cake

Recently for some reason, I was really craving a lumberjack cake. Now, I don't know where I learnt about it, or even what kicked off this intense need, but I knew that I needed to make it. Problem was, I had no idea what a lumberjack cake was, or even if I could veganise it! I think I just heard the name somewhere and thought it sounded delicious! A quick google showed me that yes, it looked tasty and a vegan version was definitely possible. Added bonus, I even had the ingredients to hand. It's like it was meant to be...

Now readers, you know that I'm not one to follow recipes exactly, so I just needed someone to give me a general idea about what to do and I'd be off. I found that here. So without further ado, here's my lumberjack cake recipe, inspired by Vegan in Melbourne.

Ingredients
  • 2 apples (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 cup of dried dates (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nuttelex 
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup apple puree (or egg replacer of your choice - you may need to adjust liquids)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour (or plain flour and baking powder mix equivalent)
For the topping:
  • Equal amounts (I used 1/4 cup) of: almond milk, maple syrup, coconut, nuttelex
Method
  1. In a bowl, put chopped dates, apples and bicarb. Pour boiling water over the top and leave to soak for 10 minutes. 
  2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  3. In another bowl, combine nuttelex, coconut oil, apple puree, vanilla and sugar. 
  4. When apples have soaked for 10 mins add to sugar mixture, add flour and mix gently to combine. Note that the mixture is very sloppy right now. 
  5. Put into cake tin and bake 45 minutes.
  6. At 45 minutes, combine the topping ingredients. Microwave them gently if you need to melt the nuttelex down a bit. Pour straight over the top of the cake and bake a further 20 minutes.

I only have silicon bakeware so I sat it on another tray for stability when moving in and out of the oven
This cake is moist, delicious and even better the next day when the flavours have had a chance to develop. Yum! Keeps for about a week, if it lasts that long...

Full of apple and date goodness!
Have you done any baking lately?

A month of Nutella

It's been a month since Soup sent me a Nutella pack, and tasked me with using it in delicious and healthy ways at breakfast time.

I have fond memories of those little snack packs of Nutella from my childhood. I've no doubt after these past few weeks, Ellie is also a Nutella fan. Probably if I'm truthful, I've also reconnected with Nutella and fallen in love all over again too.

We've had it on pancakes, on bagels, in chia pudding, as a dipping sauce for fruit, as well as on scones, baked into muffins, and, as a special tribute to the1337mum who won the Nutella competition, spread atop an apple cake (sorry, I couldn't bring myself to use bananas).

I think it's safe to say we 'heart' Nutella here!
You can read my other Nutella posts here and here.

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