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Monday, March 28, 2011

Slow Cooked Squash Soup

As you know I love gifts of home grown fruit and vegetables. When my mother in law produced an extra large home grown squash (which was grown in the same garden as the GIANT zucchini) I had to do something special with it and not just chop it up and steam it. I finally decided to make some Slow Cooked Squash Soup (try saying that after a bottle of sauvignon blanc).  This is not a recipe, it is just using what you have available.  To give you an idea, this is the list of other vegetables that I chopped up and put into the slowcooker with the squash - 1 sweet potato, 1/2 chopped onion, 2 sticks celery, 1 carrot and a couple of over ripe tomatoes.  I then added 2 bay leaves, a sprinkle of salt, peppercorns and enough water to just about cover all of the vegetables. I set it to high and left it alone for about 4 hours.  When it is cooked, blend and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.  If you are a busy person and you don't already have a slow cooker, DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR and go and buy one.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The GIANT zucchini

My Mother in Law asked if I would like some zucchinis as a lady she works with had been given some that her daughter had grown.  Well instead of being zucchinis (as in more than 1), I received half of a GIANT zucchini - my part weighed in at 2.5 kg.  WOW!  With this very large vegetable I was able to make the following:

15 individual Zucchini and fetta pies
1 large Chocolate, Zucchini and Pecan cake
1 large batch of Creamy Zucchini soup
2 loaves of Zucchini and Cranberry bread

Recipes are attached as a separate page.

Now my kids screw their faces up at anything that slightly resembles a vegetable so I have to be more cunning than a 6 year old and an 8 year old with inbuilt vegetable detectors.  Other than the pies, the kids were clueless as to the vegetable content of these dishes!

Now don't be disheartened if you can't get your hands on a giant zucchini.  You can still make these recipes with smaller ones.

Ciao for now!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fig Jam

Yes, I know what some of you are thinking.

I am about to talk about Fig Jam.  Well actually it was described to me as Fig Conserve, but I prefer to call it Fig Jam.

My beautiful mother knew that I had a glut of figs. Mum asked her friend Beth to share her recipe for Fig Conserve which I decided that I better hurry up and make as the figs were getting a bit over-ripe. The remainder of the figs are currently in the dehydrator.  At the same time Mum also scored a couple of versions of Quince Jam which I will try out in a few weeks time (those quinces of mine are going nowhere in a hurry even though I have given about 40 kg away - plus it will be months before they are past their use by date so I can put this off for a while).  I don't think I am particularly good at making jams so this was a challenge for me.

Fig Conserve/Jam:
Make sugar syrup with 3/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tspn ground ginger, 100g preserved ginger (I didn't have any so I used a couple of teaspooons of plain old grated ginger), 2 kg sugar, 1 1/2 cups water and 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper (this is NOT a mistake - my mother and I both queried this).  Wash and cut up 3 kg figs (I just halved them so they were nice and chunky) and add to syrup.  Boil until desired colour and syrup is thick.  Bottle and seal in sterilised jars while hot.  Wait for two weeks before using.

Well, I couldn't wait for two weeks as the recipe "suggested" so I tried it pretty much straight away.  It was absolutely delicious (thank you Beth for the recipe), however as my jam making skills are not so good I overcooked it and it is more like a toffee than a jam.  I bent a teaspoon trying to get some out of the jar! I am already thinking of alternative uses for this absolutely gorgeous toffee like substance - back to the lab for more experimentation!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quince Season came early this year

Well so much for thinking I had a few more weeks before quince season got underway.  Aunty of Himself rang me to let me know that a huge wind had knocked a branch off her quince tree and she had quinces all over the place.  I couldn't say no to them so I have about 40 kilos of unripe quinces (and more to come when the rest of them are ripe) from her, in addition to the fruit from my own huge quince tree.  I took a large bag of quinces to the local craft ladies who I paint with.  They grew up in the era when everyone had fruit trees in their back yards (unlike some urban kids today who think fruit grows in plastic bags at the supermarket).  They are all accomplished quince cookers and happily took a few kilos off my hands.  I then got the slow cooker out and made some poached quinces.  These are lovely to eat straight out of the pot or you could use the poached quinces to make some quince muffins or a quince Tarte Tatin.  These recipes are very easy -  the hardest part is cutting through the quinces.   If you don't own a slow cooker you can use a saucepan on your cooktop for poaching (which would take ).  

If you would like some quinces, let me know and we can try to get some to you (sorry offer only available to residents of metropolitan Adelaide, South Australia).  I would also be very interested in your recipes for quinces.

I will be experimenting with slow cooked quince paste rather than my usual method of using a saucepan on the stove top.  I will post about the results of this in a few weeks time.

Ciao for now