82c chilli (detox!) beans

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It’s day 13 of the ‘quick cleanse 15 day detox’ (otherwise known as ‘the intestinal broom!!’ as labeled very clearly on front of the herbal supplement box..) and as a first time detoxer, there are three things I have learnt about eating a practically vegan diet.

A) eating vegan is really really satisfying and leaves no room for cravings! I promise! I’m shocked too!

B) eating vegan is really really easy, and

C) (the best bit) eating vegan is really really cheap! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me that buying lots of vegetables is so so cheap?! For the first time in a long time, I’m overwhelmed by options now that there’s not nothing in the fridge.

In memory of tonight’s amazing chilli beans  (at 82c per serve) :

(Purchased) $1 can of kidney beans, 80c can of chopped tomatoes, $1.50 chopped fresh pumpkin and potato

(Kitchen essentials) garlic, veg stock cube, paprika, olive oil, chilli, salt and pepper, dried herbs

Brown 2 gloves garlic with olive oil, then add tomatoes and cup of veg stock, then paprika and chilli, bring to simmer and add in beans and dried mixed herbs. Let simmer while steaming chopped pumpkin and potato, (or next time, if there’s time, will roast the veg in the oven instead with olive oil, garlic, n sea salt!)

Garnish with any fresh herbs- if they’re handy (generous neighbours?!) parsley or basil or coriander..and always sea salt n pepper

Melanzane sotto aceto (aka pickled eggplant!)

‘Melanzane’ translated by my family means: the tastiest pickled vegetable imaginable, stuffed in a jar with chillies and garlic and olive oil….delizioso on an Italian loaf with cheese….when there’s nothing else in the fridge! In Italy Melanzane simply means eggplant. The true Italian name for our family favourite is: ‘Melanzane sotto aceto.’

What to do with dad’s abundant home grown organic eggplant sitting in the fridge? Pickle in empty jars to keep for months and months!

  • Cut eggplants thinly, lay out on the kitchen sink and sprinkle with salt, leave for a few hours.
  • Wash off salt and squeeze the liquid out.
  • Put in a bowl and cover with vinegar, leave for a few more hours, then squeeze liquid out again.
  • Thinly chop garlic cloves and fresh chilli.
  • Layer the eggplant slices into a clean jar while distributing evenly garlic and chilli, push each layer down firmly getting rid of air.
  • Top with light olive oil and leave as many weeks as possible… the longer the better! (We can never wait!)

Introduction to Tapas : crumbed sardines

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In preparation for any approaching evening of drinking, gossiping and eating delicious h’ourderves, appetisers, tapas – what ever you wana call them – I like to experiment some days in advance to avoid kitchen mayhem on the night, when there’s waay more important things to be doing – like creating the right atmosphere for sunset drinks on the balcony, or co-ordinating the perfect outfit!

Today in a very productive half hour, have not only created a divine new tapas dish (practiced to put together in a flash) have also made a pretty damn tasty Sunday afternoon snack, to have straight away hot- or cold later…perhaps on crackers with mayonaise and sliced tomato…yum! These guys are made with basic basic ingredients, already sitting in the cupboard and fridge.

  • Can of sardines in oil
  • Olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour
  • Breadcrumbs

Drain the oil from the can of sardines into a frying pan and a splash of olive oil too. Mix egg with salt n pepper. Coat each sardine piece in egg, then flour, then egg again, then breadcrumbs.

Fry in frypan till brown. Serve in the tin so guests know what they are eating and get a shock when they taste so good!

More tasty tapas to be continued….

My ‘organic’

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Mum is in the city for a couple of days- enjoying the luxuries of endless clothing boutiques, not available in their little country town. When we meet I am greeted with a clothing store bag..but there’s no latest fashion inside..no doubt its organic veg from dad’s garden -green beans and (Yey!!!) – my absolute favourite- eggplant (aka aubergine!)

As I love to live frugally, Im a little bit guilty of not being able to justify buying kitchen cupboard basics other than supermarket mass produced packets of home brand. For things like sugar, flour, tinned and frozen products- I pick the best bargain on the shelf- difference in quality between cheapest and most expensive is often not much. But when talking about fresh produce- especially fruit and veg- one of my secrets to enjoying living on nothing is to make super simple foods with the best quality, organic ingredients.

Sure, this is the secret of thousands of other chefs and at home cooks around the world. Its nothing new. But my definition of organic is very specific. It’s never EVER a gourmet supermarket organic. It’s not even a local farmers market organic. TRUE organic to me is tomatoes plucked from my balcony tomato plant and sliced on bread in 30 seconds. It’s driving to the big old mulberry tree a few streets away and picking abundant fruit for jam. It’s receiving packages like mums knowing they were picked in the morning at sunrise by dad, passed on by mum midday, and on my plate by sunset.

To have home grown organics available- not only does my emergency piggy bank stay untouched when it’s the day before student allowance is coming in, but there’s the added bonus of getting a hint of the satisfaction of a self sufficient life.. something my retired parents now strive for..and something I recon can also be experienced even while living in the middle of the city in a high rise apartment..

Banana peanut smoothie

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Things have been a little crazy at work this week (bring on the beginning of semester in two weeks = sleep ins!!) so going smoothie crazy as the quickest way to have a good breakfast in the morning. Another empty fridge favourite- all the ingredients are straight out of the pantry and freezer (except garnish!) A few more calories than Berry Green (blueberries and spinach vs banana and peanut butter) but this shake is energy for the whole morning of work or study! Tastes waaaay too good to be healthy!

  • Frozen chopped banana
  • Vanilla protein powder
  • Teaspoon (or two!) peanut butter
  • Tablespoon LSA meal
  • Ice & water

Whiz it up, Enjoy!

Berry green smoothie

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Last week for the first time ever, I sacrificed a whole $7.50 to buy a smoothie from one of the VERY popular Australian juice franchises..and I was completely disappointed. It tasted as though it was made from 80% ice, (gave me horrible brain freeze!) and had absolutely no flavour. The founder of this company has done an awesome thing…promoting healthy choices and healthy lifestyle…but I won’t go there again. It’s only now that I realise the shakes I whip up in an ‘I’m gona be late!’ frenzy (when I’ve got NOTHING in the fridge) aren’t too bad. There’s no need for milk or yoghurt to make a good smoothie – LSA meal (or even peanut butter!) gives a creamy taste. When I shuffle early morning to the fridge, open the door, and see absolutely nothing inside (and no fruit in the fruit bowl) there’s still hope for a delicious nutritious ‘fresh’ breakfast.

  • Small frozen spinach portion (believe me- this flavour is completely disguised- only purpose is to add nutrients and a little thickness)
  • Frozen blueberries
  • Chocolate protein powder (My favourites are not the low carb/ no flavour ones- but a powder with just a little sweetness)
  • Tablespoon LSA meal
  • Ice & water

Blend, pour, drink – out the door in ten!

Tasty tasty toast made with Mackerel

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When I lived in london 5 years ago, I had the absolute pleasure of a Lidl store within a 5 minute walk. If Lidl would only come to Perth …..it may threaten the business of Coles and Woolworths and IGA. I don’t care if the ingredients on my packaged foods are all in european languages, or if my Twisties are called ‘Fonzies’ or my £5 bottle of vodka is called wodka!!! I just want a bargain! I just want to buy tinned mackerel fillets for only 49p, and eat about 10 tins per week!  I was addicted to that stuff – grossing out housemates by standing in the kitchen in pjs hungover on Saturday mornings, eating straight out of the tin. With a little more effort however, and some simple, simple ingredients (a leaf or two borrowed from the kitchen basil plant) the most tasty snack can be born.

  • Can of mackerel fillets
  • Slice of bread
  • Garlic clove
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Basil

All these ingredients except the garlic are kitchen essentials (but sometimes left out anyway, depending on what doing after eating!)

Toast under the grill only one side of the bread, then rub toasted side with sliced garlic glove for just a hint of flavor. Drain mackerel well, add to toast with scattered chopped basil, sprinkle of sea salt and big drizzle of olive oil. Delizioso!!!