Sunday, 26 February 2012

Roasted Vegetable & Rye Cob Salad with Pickled Onions

One of the lovely things about the south coast is the abundance of local produce. Since I harvested potatoes the day before we left we took some with us, but a trip to the homegrown & handmade market on Sunday resulted in a lovely pumpkin and a really good rye cob. Cooking is on the fly while away, so I've been trying to get a little inventive with the little we have. Last nights result was this (sounds like the lottery doesn't it?) Pumpkin and potato, par boiled, and cut into chunks for roasting, halved pickled onions, some black olives, garlic, some toasted cob pieces, drizzled with lemon extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper (the Bodalla Dairy double cream brie on top was an optional extra). It was pretty good, the pickled onions went  sweet when roasted with the veg, and the olives were a nice salty contrast, so I'll be making it again, maybe with some fresh chopped herbs as well.

Holiday Vintage Finds...

 Coastal country towns seem to be a smorgasbord of well kept vintage treasures and ridiculously cheap prices. I have had a whale of a time sorting through the local charity and second hand stores finding myself various cups and saucers, plates, platters, fabric, and aprons! These are all to add to the pile for a little catering business called Sprout and Bean (more on that in the future), but some were purely for myself.

My find of the holidays was in Moruya where the Beloved spotted a second hand dealer. I was a little dubious as these places tend to charge an arm and a leg just for entering, but I swooped on some very cheaply priced English cups and saucers in almost perfect condition. I got five of them, and the nice bloke that ran the place gave me the lot for $45. I'm not sure if he just had no idea what he could charge for them, or he just sells cheaply for a high turnover, but I wasn't complaining, because if I bought these at our local antique store they go between $35-$45 a pop! The furniture was priced as per usual though, and he gave us some cucumber from his own farm for nothing which was nice. 

The Vinnies in Narooma had two Paddington Bear flat sheets in very good condition for $10, so I snapped them up as well. Not sure what I'll make with them, I'm torn between a dress or just using them as tablecloths! I don't usually post things that I sew or craft, but might make an exception for this one.

And Tilba...there is a very nice lady that makes custom design aprons, as well as selling vintage ones in a cute little shop in the historic village. I snapped up several very cheaply (3 half aprons for $10) while the Beloved was outside...waiting for me to stop chatting cos it turns out she used to live in Blackheath and knows Medlow Bath very well. It's a small world isn't it? Then the bloke in the General Store  got talking to us and it turns out his son is a cop in Blackheath, followed by the girl in the jewellery shop who's co -worker used to live in Leura. Is this the place where Mountaineers move to for a seachange? Maybe it's a hint...

I also picked up a couple of nice sandwich platters, and the second hand shop in Bermagui itself turns out to be the place for all things tropically vintage - I know a couple of people that would have got very excited in that shop! We picked up a couple of things there, one of which are these cute-but- tacky Japanese made salt and pepper shakers.

If we had more room I'm sure we would have picked up some larger items...but its probably just as well!

Friday, 24 February 2012

At The Seaside

It's so stressful being on holidays isn't it? Making decisions such as ...Another cup of tea? A stroll to the beach? Or a nap perhaps? We are currently on the sapphire coast of southern NSW in the small seaside town of Bermagui (isn't that the best name?) in a small cabin nestled in the bush. We awaken to hear bell miners and whip birds ( in fact, one of the bells decided to come inside and perch cheekily on the light and the roof beams). It is a short stroll to the river, and about a ten minute walk to the beach.

It is so lovely and quiet, as peak season is over and all the kiddies are in school. Being childfree ourselves, life is quite blissful! The weather has been beautifully warm and the sunshine has lifted our rain soaked spirits. While Prime Minister Gillard and newly resigned foreign minister Kevin Rudd battle it out between them, we almost feel we have dropped off the world it seems so far away. So, a beach picnic dinner is precisely what the doctor ordered. A piccolo of champers, olives, pickled onions, dip...

I made a broccoli and cauliflower quiche...

and a Thai noodle salad which I put in lettuce leaves cos I had no held up really well, and it was easy to eat as a wrap. I threw in some tomato from Aunty Jen's patch, some local cucumber which the bloke from the second hand shop gave to us for nothing (although I did buy a few other things) some lime wedges, and a squeeze of fresh Thai herb mix.

And dessert? Some white chocolate and apricot slice from Jen, and some fresh local apricots - which I think look like bums :) what a lovely evening!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Spade and Spoon on Holidays: Pancakes, Alpacas, and a Tonkinese

The Beloved and myself are currently on holidays on the NSW sapphire coast, and indulged in pancakes for breakfast yesterday. We have rented a bush cabin so I can cook and we have some privacy. I even managed not to bugger the pancakes up cooking with the electric stove (I’m too spoilt by a gas stove) although couldn’t help exclaiming over the bluntness of the knives which prompted some comments about having become a knife snob - bah!

After breakfast we headed out to visit Aunty Jenny and Margaret who have a property outside of Bega and keep alpacas. Aunty Jenny isn’t really my aunt – I don’t have any actually. But she is an old friend of my mother’s and she has known me all my life. Since it was only an hour away from Bermagui we thought it was too good an opportunity not to pay a visit. We had a delightful vegetarian lunch with lots of different salads, and spent a lovely drizzly afternoon chatting – and of course, meeting the crew- including the cutest baby Jessie. The girls were met first, they have the loveliest expressive eyes and long lashes. They were shy but quite curious about us. If we had more room there would definitely be a couple of them about. 

A trip down to the other paddock and on the way were were greeted by Horatio, Margaret's Tonkinese who deemed us worthy to be reacquainted. He's such a delightful, talkative chap, and was lavished with our attention. "You did come to pay your respects to me of course - you didn't perchance bring a dainty morsel with you did you? Oh well, some ear tickling will have to suffice I suppose  "

The boys were also bribed to come and greet us at the fence, but their paddock has the best view. They were all due to be shorn on Monday, but because of the rain has been postponed until later in the week. Lucky for us, because we got to see their beautiful coats , they are lovingly looked after and it shows. Margaret told us the commercial alpaca people aren't interested in the fleece because it's not white, but local people buy them to spin and make beautiful garments from their various natural colours, skilfully making patterns from the various shades. The alpacas are good at getting rid of the weeds and keeping the grass down, and we are told make excellent guardians for chickens. Maybe alpacas are in our future too?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mini Vegan Coconut Creme Brulee

This is very much a cheat's creme brulee. But it looks so cute, and easy to do a bunch of them as part of a dessert platter. Besides, it gave me an excuse to finally road test the blowtorch the Kitchen Fairy gave me for my birthday. (Sweetened with pineapple juice instead of sugar, with a little extra cornstarch, this would make a really nice pina colada brulee too!)

1 can coconut cream (must be a brand that has a high percentage of coconut meat in it)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence (or a vanilla bean)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
extra caster sugar for top

In a saucepan over low heat whisk together coconut cream, sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch, until mixture has thickened.
Pour into shot glasses (or small ramekins) and then put into fridge to set for at least three hours (best overnight).

Tip some sugar onto the top of the custard and tap to distribute thinly and evenly over the top. Using a blowtorch move in circular motions, melting the sugar until it is runny and golden, and allow to set. Alternatively, you can place them under the grill to melt the sugar.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Vegan Dumpling Fillings Part 1

Hello lovelies! This week I'm brainstorming dumpling fillings, and this will be at least a two part series, because I've been dreaming so many! These guys will give you an excuse to have a dump-fest, no longer will you sit among your omnivore friends, destined only to eat a vegetable dumpling! No, you will have an entire steamer smorgasbord full of taste bud tickling pleasures and be the envy of these omnis around you.  These will be oh so cute in either a mini steamer basket for one, or passed around a party in those cute Chinese spoons! I'll post all the recipes together at the end of the series, but for now, just salivate in anticipation...

Veg "Pork" Cabbage & Coriander

Veg "Chicken" Chilli & Mango

Curried Sweet Potato & Coconut