26 November 2014

Pad thai

Pad thai, it's a favourite.  I don't know many who don't like it.  And, I've discovered, easy to make.  We love a good curry, or a fresh stirfry, so it's like a perfect combination of the two.  

This is another recipe from At My Table, adapted to suit younger tastebuds (I didn't put chilli in, as was being eaten by a 10-year old, but would ordinarily throw some in) and what we had in the fridge (the recipe called for 600 g chicken, but I just used one chicken breast and a heap of veges).  Also, I used olive oil in place of peanut oil, as Harry is allergic, but the flavour of peanut oil is very very worth using if you're not allergic to the good ol' peanut.  

Versatility-speaking, this is one of the best meals you can throw together, 'cause it works with any type of meat, or vegetables-only.  Chicken, prawns, pork, fish or whatever.  Chicken and prawn would be my favourite.  Big, fat prawns, with their tails removed.  Brilliant.  If you do use prawns, just add towards the end of the cooking, and that should be enough time for them to do their thing.  Maybe just before you do the eggs.  

200 g flat ribbon noodles (rice stick noodles for example)
1 tbsp oil (peanut, if you can)
1 - 2 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 capsicum, thinly sliced
1 - 2 cups veges (I used fresh beans, zucchini and broccoli from our garden)
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime/lemon juice
1 - 2 chillies, chopped (optional) - de-seed if you want less heat
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1 cup bean sprouts (mung bean or snow pea)
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup crushed roasted peanuts (optional)
lime/lemon wedges, to serve

  1. Heat oil in pan and stir-fry chicken until golden all over.  Remove from pan and set aside.  
  2. Turn heat down to medium, add sesame oil and cook onion and garlic until softened.  Add chicken back to the pan along with the vegetables (broccoli may need to be steamed a bit beforehand, depending on how big your pieces are).  Fry together for another minute before adding the noodles and tossing to combine.  
  3. Add sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chillies, if using.  
  4. Move everything in pan to one side.  Add eggs, stir up then leave for 10-20 seconds before scrambling them.  When almost cooked, incorporate them with the rest of the pan (this will coat everything with a little egg, as well as distribute pieces of egg throughout the dish).  
  5. Stir in spring onions and sprouts.  
  6. Serve immediately with coriander and peanuts on top, and wedges of lime alongside, to squeeze over the top.  

Afghans afghans YUM!!

I have been a lucky loanee of Chelsea Winter's At My Table, so thought it was a good chance to try out a couple of her yummy recipes before returning the book (thanks Min!).  

Afghans are a childhood favourite for most kiwis, I think.  We almost all had them at some stage or another.  To be honest, I was never a huge fan.  The boys in my house now though are, so decided to whip a batch out.  These ones have cornflakes in them (not sure if that's traditional, or not, but I don't recall it from the days gone by) and it is, in my opinion, a HUGE plus.  I really enjoyed these.  I've eaten two today already.  

The recipe said it made about 18 biscuits, but I got about 25 or so, so filled the coffers for a couple of days!  

225 g butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (I used golden syrup 'cause I was out of vanilla)
185 g flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3 cups cornflakes
1/3 cup desiccated coconut

1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp cocoa 
1 - 2 tbsp boiling water
walnut halves, for decorating if you wish

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.  Line baking trays.  
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and thick.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  
  3. Beat in flour, cocoa and coconut.  Lastly, mix in cornflakes (best to do this with a wooden spoon, as mixture can get pretty hard for cake mixers to work with).  Don't worry if flakes get crushed up.  
  4. Place golfballs of mixture on trays and press down with a fork or your hand.
  5. Bake for about 12 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes on trays before transferring to a wire rack.  
  6. Stir icing ingredients together until a thickish paste is formed - best to do this when you're ready to ice, as it will continue to thicken and harden with time.  
  7. When cooled ice the biscuits and decorate.    

24 November 2014

DIY nappy balm

1/4 cup shea butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp beeswax
2 tbsp zinc oxide powder
1 tbsp bentonite clay 
Optional - few drops essential oil (eg camomile, lavender) 

  1. Heat about an inch of water in a small pot.  Place your butter, oil and wax in a glass jar and place in the water.  Stir and, as the water heats, the ingredients will melt.  
  2. Remove from heat and stir in your other ingredients.  I'd recommend a powdered clay, if you can find it.  I used a granular clay from Lotus Oils, but it took a bit of time to get dissolved.  
All ingredients can be found at Lotus Oils.  My coconut oil came from Bin Inn.  I made a half batch, as only need a small jar at a time, and it cost about $5 for a 60 ml jar's worth.  I've always used EcoStore nappy balm (which is brilliant, by the way), but making my own is about half the price.  

Here's a rundown, thanks to Wellness Mama, of why these ingredients are useful: 

Shea Butter – contains the fat soluble vitamins A and E. It is soothing to the skin and has a natural SPF of about 6. Additionally, it helps protect skin from drying out since it contains five essential fatty acids.
Coconut Oil  naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal. 
Beeswax- Provides a protective barrier for the skin and helps hold the other ingredients to the skin so they can be effective. 
Zinc Oxide- insoluble in water and so coats the skin. When mixed with the other ingredients, it makes skin water proof and keeps it from drying out. 
Bentonite Clay- Helps control moisture and fights bacteria on the skin that can be making the rash worse.

20 November 2014

2-ingredient ice cream? Yes please!

Ice cream with only two ingredients, no crazy equipment needed, and the only sugar it contains is from the fruit (ok, and possibly a gram or two from the buttermilk).  Yum!!  

I made this using buttermilk and bananas, 'cause we had a bunch that needed eating, but you could also use frozen berries.  And, if you prefer a frozen yoghurt, I don't see why you couldn't use plain yoghurt in place of the buttermilk.  The bananas do give it a thick, creamy texture though, that you may not get from berries, but hey - if it's more like a berry sorbet, so much the better!!

chopped bananas (about 6)
600 ml buttermilk

  1. Chop bananas and place in the freezer.  
  2. When frozen blend in food processor with buttermilk until smooth and creamy.  
  3. Scoop into freezer-proof container (with a lid) and freeze until ready to use.  
  4. Enjoy!!  

19 November 2014

DIY Natural Sunscreen

NB before reading - have been using this over the past month and found it not to be very effective.  So unfortunately it has been removed from our bag as a sunscreen.  I have however made another three batches of it, minus the zinc, as a really amazing moisturiser.  So still useful, and lovely to use.  Just not as a sunblock.  

Sunscreen.  Something you can't be without over the summer in kiwiland.  Well, you're wise not to be without.  We go through a heap of sunblock, and over the years have tried a million different brands, and a bunch of different types - aerosol, pump, squeeze, tub...  Generally I've always just bought whatever is cheapest, however the price of sunscreen is getting increasingly expensive, no matter how budget the brand.  Couple that with a stepson who has very sensitive skin and an 18-month old who has, well, baby skin, and it's time to look at alternatives.  

My sisters-in-law in the UK are a fountain of information on all things natural, in particular DIY natural products.  So, when one posted a link to the Wellness Mama blog recently, I decided to have a look.  I was genuinely surprised how straightforward making a lot of everyday products actually is.  I'd been imagining all sorts of crazy paraphernalia and ingredients, but no.  For most things only a few ingredients are required.  Then you can add in extras if you choose (to scent or colour), or just go with the basic.  

Here's what you need (and what you need to do) to make a basic sunscreen with an SPF of between 20 and 40 (depending on how effective the carrot seed oil is, and whether or not you choose to use it).  I got my ingredients from Bin Inn (coconut oil) and Lotus Oils, a kiwi company based in sunny Waipukurau.  

1/2 cup olive oil or sweet almond oil (I used cosmetic grade olive oil)
1/4 cup coconut oil (natural SPF 4 and smells nice)
1/4 cup beeswax 
2 tbsp zinc oxide powder - careful not to inhale (natural SPF 20, or more if you use more) 
Optional: 1 tsp carrot seed oil (natural SPF 35-40)

  1. Combine ingredients, except the zinc powder, in large glass jar - I used a cleaned out pasta sauce jar.  
  2. Fill medium saucepan with about 5 cm water and place over medium heat.  Put the lid loosely on your jar and place into the water.  
  3. As the water heats the ingredients in the jar will start to melt - stir occasionally to combine them.  When completely melted add in your zinc oxide, stir well, and pour into the jar or tub you're going to keep your sunscreen in.  I used an old jam jar, but a plastic tub will be fine too.  
  4. Stir a few times as mixture cools, to ensure the zinc is fully incorporated.  
  5. Start enjoying - it'll moisturise like a lotion too - best used within 6 months.  
NB: Other ingredients you could use in addition to, or in place of, carrot seed oil are: 

Red raspberry seed oil (natural SPF 25-50)
Shea butter (natural SPF 4)
Almond oil (natural SPF 5)

Also, essential oils if you prefer a more strongly scented cream.  You'd use about 15 drops.  

17 November 2014


"You'll never be a kiwi 'til you love our Watties sauce!".  That's how the song goes, and I reckon it's pretty true.  I don't know many kiwis who don't have a bit of a love affair going on with good old Watties T sauce.  Even those who enjoy a different type too, they'll usually not turn their backs completely on the stalwart of the nation.  

Growing up we usually had Whitlocks Tomato Chutney in the fridge.  Not actually much of a chutney, it is a runny sauce, like the Watties, but with herbs and a bit more vinegar in it.  I still love that stuff to this day, so it sits alongside the Watties in the fridge.  Something for every palate.  

This recipe is for a homemade sauce, and it's similar to the Whitlocks, but will be more Watties-esque if you use less of the vinegar and herbs.  And maybe squeeze a little agave syrup or something in, as a sweetener, if that's your preferred taste.  I got this recipe from another blog, Cupcakes and Kale Chips, via my friend Cindy.  Thanks guys!   It's nice to make something we eat all the time, without all the unnecessary sugar and fillers and other unknowns in there.  I'm a fan of no-cooking-required too :) 

170 g tomato paste
1/4 - 1/2 cup cider vinegar (see NB)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin powder
grind black pepper
1 tsp mustard powder

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.  This recipe will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, so you can make a bigger batch, if your family chews through it.  
NB: If you use less than 1/2 cup cider vinegar, add water to a total of 1/2 cup of liquid.  This is if you prefer it to be less vinegary.