Baggage and Gerringong

Everyone needs a little time away. To unwind, read a good book, to perhaps experience something a little different than the everyday. But two ‘three day mini-break weekends’ in a row? Now that seems a little, well, greedy. To quote Gordon Gecko from that 80’s hit movie Wall Street, ‘The point is ladies and gentlemen that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.’

So five friends from Mothers Group, once again threw together our winter woollies and piled our literal and metaphorical baggage into one car. This in itself was a small miracle, can you imagine? (Some of us may have packed more than others.) Our destination this time was the adorable hill perched coastal village of Gerringong on the South Coast of New South Wales. Only two hours (if that) from Sydney. We had the lend of a small holiday house and counted ourselves as very lucky chicks indeed.

Lunch had been missed and a loo visit was called for. So to start this gourmet weekend away, a stop was made at the infamous Maccy D’s just out of Wollongong. Now, I am no fan of this multinational fast food joint, for a number of reasons. However, not being a purist, I must tell you that we did eat the fries. Not sure if it was our hunger, excitement or the fact that we had just emptied our bladders but they tasted damn good. Let’s leave it at that.

Heading deeper south, the sky darkened. By the time we arrived, a full blown storm had settled in. Rooms and space divided, luggage unpacked, wine placed into the fridge and the kettle boiled. Snug as bugs in rugs, we looked at each other and heard not, the sound of children. And it was good.

Dinner that first night was an arduous trek (ok, it took three minutes) up to the main drag of Gerringong. There, we ate at the Werri Thai Restaurant, a hole in the wall and encountered some of the freshest Thai food any of us had eaten in quite the while. The tofu and cashew nuts, with a jammy spicy sauce was the standout. Enough that the restaurant was earmarked to re-visit before we left. That and a glass or two of Arras sparkling wine from Tasmania (for those of our number who partake in the odd alcoholic beverage), was a great start to our long weekend.

The next morning, after a luscious lie-in, the lot of us traversed the full twenty minute drive to the pretty town of Berry. Our destination being the renowned Berry Woodfired Sourdough Bakery. My last visit was many years ago and we were all keen to give it a whirl. Our sleep-in meant missing out on the full breakfast menu. So a cut down menu it was and sadly, no eggies. My choice was a Croque Monsieur style ham and cheese croissant. Not sure if this is actually done in the land of the French, but oh my. Flaky and buttery with a creamy, porcine interior. The others tried a very good spinach, pumpkin, pepita, sunflower seed and feta muffin. The coffee was as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

After drooling over a fine selection of various baked goods, choices were made and boxed up to take back to the cottage. A stellar multigrain sourdough, a chocolate almond croissant, lemon yoghurt tea cake, prune and custard tart and macadamia tart. The intention being to share for afternoon tea, if not that day, the next. (No-one likes to go hungry.)

Back in Gerringong, we walked along the cliffs and drank excellent coffee from the Blue Espresso Bar. This Cheergerm eyed off some gorgeous hand-etched wine glasses at Mas Homewares. A shop brimming with an array of delightful European goodies.

Books were read, blankets snuggled under. Friday night, we had pre-booked (at a local’s suggestion), Zoobs Woodfired Pizza. They prepare their hand rolled pizza dough fresh every day and fire it in a proper woodfired oven. To start, some of the laydeez shared an excellent salt and pepper crusted squid. Then it was the pizza. My margarita with mushrooms was to die for. The base was puffy, light, yeasty with the smoky taste that only a woodfired pizza can give you.

A slap up home cooked brekky then a visit to the Gerringong Saturday markets. Cold but fun. Woolen hats, homemade cakes and jams, alpaca wool and handcrafted pillow cases. Hot chips eaten from the paper, another contender throws it’s hat into the ring for the hotly contested title of ‘the best chips in the world.’

Cups of tea, coffee, herbal libations, glasses of wine, reading, movies and tears over parenting journeys that seem to have become more complex. This gift of time allows us to expand on conversations that usually happen over the space of a cup of coffee. For a brief while, our burdens are unshouldered. It feels like we have unpacked far more this weekend than just our actual physical luggage.

We head out again that evening to Werri Thai to once again chow down upon that delicious tofu and cashew nut dish. This time trying an equally good massaman beef which is creamy and mildy spicy.

Sunday arrives all too quickly. Breakfast was booked at the Seavista Cafe in Gerringong. Light, airy with a gorgeous view of the ocean. The breakfast is decently solid. My poached eggs with hollandaise, avocado and smoked salmon is tasty. Back at the house, our re-packed bags are skillfully arranged (not unlike a jigsaw puzzle), into the car. I cannot speak for everyone but my baggage seemed just that little bit lighter. (Well, apart from those rather fabulous wine glasses I purchased.)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Espresso-Bar-Official/456897421029059

http://berrysourdoughcafe.com.au

http://www.zoobswoodfired.com

https://www.facebook.com/GerringongSeaVistaCafe

http://www.mashomewares.com.au

http://www.gerringongvillagemarkets.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/south-coast/kiama-area/gerringong

http://cheergerm.com/2014/08/24/shadow-sisters-and-the-apple-bar/


Bonny Bonnay

School holidays had arrived so we decided to hitch the cart to the horse, throw the sproglets in the back and take off to the Hunter Valley. This is a beautiful wine growing region a mere one and a half hours drive north from Sydney. A mini-break that involved wine tasting? You don’t have to ask me twice.

A quick visit to the local Hornsby Growers Market for supplies, then we hit the open road. We knew we were in wine country the minute we hit the vineyards. (A real bunch of Einsteins are we.)

First stop before arriving at the house was a spot of lunch, we spied a rustic looking joint called the Lovedale Store Cafe. A simple cheese toastie for the eight year old and a ‘slap me silly sideways it was so good Asian style pulled pork on a toasted bun with homemade coleslaw’ for Kid 1 and myself. A big pot of Yorkshire tea for the grown ups and a veggie frittata with a tasty potato salad for The Yak. And a chilled out Highland goatie oatie out the back. (Alive of course.)

Our first wine sipping stop is Peterson’s Wines where they make killer sparkling wine. Friendly, funny and attentively served, this Cheergerm solely sipped on stars and maybe even purchased one or two. A chocolate shop stop to keep the smaller people happy, then off to the house we went.

This soothing green house is timeless, stepping inside we feel instantly becalmed. Steady ticking clocks, the heartbeat of this home, remind us both of childhood. Patchwork quilts and vintage china, a well-stocked kitchen and a claw-footed bathtub. We look out onto pastoral landscape and an old school garden with lavender and citrus trees.

An afternoon walk, warm sunshine on a winters day. Kid 2 slipped his little hand in mine and chattered about the shapes of trees, what we will do next and other topics that are dear to this eight year old boys heart.

Sitting on the white bed, the view of the vibrantly orange mandarin tree from our bedroom window distracted me as I wrote. The only sound was the chirrup of birds and the occasional bovine moo.

Night fell and we rugged up to stargaze in the darkened country night. Kid 1 was initially frightened at the overwhelming vista, never has been before. Perhaps it is merely a symptom of his burgeoning awareness that sadly, the world is not the safe place he thought it once was. Our eyes adjusted to the night sky and Kid 2 marvelled at the Milky Way and multitudes of stars. He spoke of a high powered telescope and perhaps, another stargazer has been made.

A Peterson’s sparkling Shiraz Viognier goes very nicely with a black pepper pie and a gluten free veggie roll purchased from the Hornsby Farmers Market. (It’s my bloody holiday too.) A homemade baby kale (adorable or what and so much nicer than the grown up version) and fennel salad dressed with caramelised balsamic and olive oil, offsets the pastry richness.

As I sat in bed reading, the boys and Yak were fast asleep. I listened to the crackle of the open fire and felt lucky and grateful to be there, tucked cosily under the roof of this country home. (I also felt grateful for the sturdy fire guard that ensured we did not burn to death in the middle of the night.)

My master plan of slap up huge lunches and easy dinners worked a treat. Japanese and Thai food at Oishii in the Tempus Two complex is surprisingly good. On the next day, a solidly decent lunch of fish and chips at The Deck Cafe in Lovedale kept us going amongst the very difficult work of a spot of wine tasting. Vineyard highlights included Cappercaille, Brokenwood, Allandale, Tamburlaine Organic Vineyards and the stunningly beautifully located Audrey Wilkinson. Needless to say, we are well stocked in case of a wine apocaplyse.

Our final night found us by the open fire, scoffing Hunter Valley Smelly Cheese triple cream Brie. A delightful floral, chalky and creamy cheese. The lyrical and come hither strains of bohemian French Cafe jazz, (why does everything sound better in French?), kids revelling in toasting marshmallows on the open fire and a Hunter Valley Chardonnay from Allandale.

The Yak wanted to freeze time as he watched his two lads reading in their voluptuous white cloud-like beds. But the morning of leaving arrived as mornings are bound to do. As my mum always says, you have to leave so you can come back. And that we will.

http://www.bonnay.com.au

http://www.stayz.com.au/accommodation/nsw/hunter/hunter-valley/76903

https://www.facebook.com/lovedalestore

http://www.oishii.com.au

http://www.petersonswines.com.au

http://www.capercailliewine.com.au

http://www.allandalewinery.com.au

http://www.deckcafelovedale.com.au

http://www.visitnsw.com/destinations/hunter/hunter-valley


For you, a gluten free passionfruit cake

This is for you my friend since we were fifteen year old ingénues
We would share our hopes and dreams in sleepovers silly from lack of sleep
The world spread out before us juicy, ripe and full of hope
Kept apart by distance for many years now
This was baked with Kid 1, in the pretence that it would be placed lovingly into a lemon coloured Tupperware container, tucked into the car, then driven over to your house
To make you a cuppa
To cut us a slice of cake
It’s possible it may have sat there untouched for quite a bit
Whilst we talked it out
This cake is for all the times I wasn’t there to hold your hand or for you to hold mine
To dry your tears
To tell you it was would be ok
Even when it really wasn’t
To kick each other’s arses if it was required
Or to not say much of anything at all
This cake is so you know
You are in my heart if no longer in my neighbourhood

Kid 1 and I baked this tropical fruity delight slowly and happily. The day stretched out immeasurably before us. Carefully learning to crack eggs, he wrapped his small hands around the ovoid object as if it were a Faberge antiquity.

This cake has a light soft crumb with soft vanilla undertones and is best eaten on the day it is made. (Or the day after, but it loses something by the third day. Not sure what, just trust me.) The thin passionfruit glaze with its scattering of dark seeds is just the right balance of sweet and tang. In lieu of sharing a slice of this cake with my friend, we had it for afternoon tea.

GLUTEN FREE PASSIONFRUIT CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter, room temperature
2/3 cup raw caster sugar (or white caster sugar)
200g gluten free self raising flour
50 sorghum flour
30g almond meal
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder or vanilla essence
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk (room temperature)
4 small passionfruit pulps, (or 2 large.) If you don’t want too many pips in your cake batter, you can sieve the pulp then add some of the pips back into the sieved mixture to add to the cake.

Passionfruit glaze
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp boiling water
passionfruit pulp of 1 small or 1/2 of a large

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat oven to 180C and line a 22cm springform tin with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixmaster, with hand beaters or by hand. Make sure it’s light and fluffy and almost white in colour. (Add the vanilla essence if you are using it at this step.)
Whilst the butter and sugar is mixing, sift the self-raising flour, sorghum flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt and vanilla bean powder. Place aside.
Add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, mix well.
Starting with the flour, add the sifted flour and milk alternately, one third at a time.
Add the passionfruit and mix well.
Pour the mixture into the tin.
Cook for approximately 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let cool for ten minutes then take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Once completely cool, drizzle with the glaze. (Recipe below.)

Passionfruit glaze
Sift the icing, add the butter, boiling water and passionfruit pulp to the icing.
Mix well, you want a fairly runny consistency, add a dash more hot water if needed.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the Best Recipes website, link below.

http://www.bestrecipes.com.au/recipe/golden-passionfruit-cake-L8274.html


Where did the words go green bean curry

Sometimes adjectives run towards my outstretched hands like small greedy children to a fairground stall laden with fairy floss. Other days, I reach desperately into the hollow of a darkened cave where all the worthy words in the world are wedged into tiny crevices. Begging for them to come forward into the light, they refuse and cling mollusc-like to their safe rocky comfort. Leaving me berefit and wordless.

Ornery little buggers.

That is why I give you a brief description. Aromatic, spicy, zingy, beany. This curry was bloody good and adds a vegetable freshness to an Indian banquet.

GREEN BEAN CURRY

WHAT YOU NEED

1 tbl vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
15 small dried curry leaves or 5 fresh
1 tbl curry powder (use a good quality one, I used a Herbies Spices blend)
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt
500g green beans, topped and tailed
1/2 cup coconut milk (I used low fat)
2 tbl lime juice

WHAT YOU DO

Heat the oil in a medium size frypan over a medium heat then fry the onions until they start to turn golden brown.
Add the garlic and curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add all the spices and salt and cook for one to two minutes.
Add the green beans, stir to coat in the spices then turn to a low to medium heat and cook until the beans are just al dente. (Meaning they have a bit of resistance when you bite into them.)
Add the coconut milk and cook for five minutes. Check the seasoning.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
Serve as part of an Indian banquet.

A Cheergerm adaptation of the recipe listed below.


http://allrecipes.com/recipe/green-bean-curry/


Long walks in the rain and restorative vegetable soup

Hi, my name is Cheergerm, I like long walks in the rain. (This sounds like the introduction to a personal ad on a dating website.) Actually, I was under the impression I liked long walks in the rain.

After a lovely and filling lunch at Mum’s house, a forty minute walk home seemed like a good idea. The offer of an umbrella was denied. ‘No thanks, I have my rain coat, that will do thanks.’ The first five minutes of light drizzle were delightful. I felt alive, exuberant, all English-like and Mary Poppinsy. Trip trapping down the road like one of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, cool mist enveloping me.

Then the rain got heavier. Rain coat zipped up, hood on. This wasn’t going to dampen my spirits, so to speak. Did the intrepid explorer Sir Edmund Hilary turn back when things got a bit hairy climbing Mt Everest? Never! With nothing to protect my face and glasses, large drops began to drip down, obscuring my vision. A pair of teeny tiny windscreen wipers would have been great. This genteel walk was becoming somewhat unpleasant.

The rain deepened, as did my mood. I would not call for help. Captain Scott didn’t call his mummy for help in the Antarctic, did he? (Unfortunately, I had left my mobile phone at home.) The wind started to blow the rain sideways. By now my track suit pants were hugging my legs wetly, not unlike a clingy three year old with a soggy nappy. The odd drip or two was making it way slowly down my back, creeping towards undergarments that one would prefer to keep dry.

I saw a car, my heart lifted, it was the same make and colour as ours. Had the Yak come to rescue me from this foolhardy adventure? Nope, it wasn’t him. Resolutely, I put my head down. Rain was now pouring over the hood of my rain coat and down my nose like a miniature waterfall. Home was only ten minutes away.

My name is Cheergerm, I do not like long walks in the rain.

But I do like this. A marvellous restorative vegetable soup based on the kind of soup that Mum would make on wintery Sunday’s. It is perfect for when you feel wet, poorly, sad, or just in need of a big bowl of soup love. It makes a huge pot but I always freeze some for a rainy day. Mum always used barley but sadly, it is not gluten free. I threw in some lovely red Persian lentils which do not need soaking and keep their shape once cooked. The celery is essential.

RESTORATIVE VEGETABLE SOUP

2 tbl olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 yellow or red capsicum, diced
4 sticks celery, 300g, diced
1 Swede (the vegetable not someone from Sweden), diced
4 cups veggie stock
7 cups of water
1 cup Persian red lentils (or green lentils, or barley if it doesn’t need to be GF), make sure you wash them
Big handful of green beans, chopped
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 tsp Salt and as much black pepper as you desire
1 large handful celery leaves, roughly chopped
(Optional: vegetable stock powder.)

Heat oil in large stockpan and sweat off onion, carrots, pepper, celery and swede for about ten minutes. Do not colour the vegetables.
Add the veggie stock, water, lentils and a few big grinds of black pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
Cook for about 40 minutes until the carrots are just tender, then add the beans, zucchini and salt and cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until they are just tender. You want to keep some vibrancy in them.
Check for seasoning, add more salt, pepper and a teaspoon of veggie stock powder if needed.
Add the celery leaves and cook for five more minutes. Let the soup sit off the heat for five minutes, scoop off any lentil scum that has come to surface.
Eaten with a slice of spelt sourdough and some manchego cheese.

A Cheergerm recipe

Cooking Notes: I used a store bought veggie stock. I have made my own before (a few years ago now) but I really fancy making the wonderful sounding roast vegetarian stock from the lovely Almost Italian blog. She roasted the vegetables first to obtain some umami depth. I haven’t made it yet but I will. Or maybe you will first. Bless and damn you if that is the case.

https://almostitalian.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/french-onion-soup-with-vegetable-stock-voila/


Gluten free date and ginger slice, minus three points

Kid 1 to our dog: Elvis I love you so much but I minus three points of love because you have no butt cheeks.

Kid 1 is a hard taskmaster. After being begged asked to try this slice, he had a tiny nibble. Letting me down as gently as he was able to, the sproglet informed me that ‘it was not to his taste and he didn’t like the ginger and chocolate together.’ Well, that left a large amount of slice for the taller people in our household. (Kid 2 saw the cornflakes and ran a mile.) Leftover gluten free cornflakes needed to be used up so this recipe was on my ‘to do’ list. The Yak and myself were big fans, as were the other friends that I palmed it off on shared it lovingly with. It is a bit like a poorer cousin of a fancy florentine, but no less delicious.

With a chewy unctuousness, this slice isn’t as sweet as you would imagine and the ginger is a welcome spicy surprise. It would be a wonderful addition to a Christmas celebration or packaged prettily as a festive gift. Containing dates, this concoction must be good for you and being doused in dark chocolate (which science has proven to be rich in important nutrients), it is doubly so.

Kid 1, I love you so much but I minus three points of love for you being such a fussy bugger.

GLUTEN FREE DATE AND GINGER SLICE

WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2 cups (180g) chopped dates
170g butter
85g sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
3 cups (80g) gluten free cornflakes
170g dark chocolate

HOW YOU DO IT
Put the chopped dates, butter, sugar and ginger into a medium sized saucepan. Place over a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thoroughly amalgamated. This takes about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and mix in the cornflakes.
When everything is well combined, press into a 30 X 21 cm shallow tin until it’s about 1cm thick. My slice was about 26cm long, it depends how thick you make it.
Once the mixture has cooled, put it in the fridge until it is quite firm. This took about 45 minutes.

Finishing
Melt the chocolate carefully and pour it over the chilled slice.
Spread out evenly with a knife or spatula, then score the surface of the chocolate with a fork.
Set aside to cool and cut into small fingers or squares.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container, separating the layers with baking or waxed paper. Makes about 20-25 squares, depending on the size.
Cooking Note: you can use regular cornflakes if you don’t require a gluten free slice.

Recipe from Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/16/more-evidence-that-chocolate-may-be-good-for-the-heart-say-researchers#img-1


King of the vegetables and a potato and Comte galette

The Yak was crapping on orating upon the delight of the humble potato, his favourite vegetable over all others. We could say in fact, that in his view, it is The King of the Vegetables. As he plainly stated, there isn’t much that you cannot do with the tatie. Bake it, boil it, steam it, mash it, grate it, fry it, smash it, dumpling it. Perhaps The Yak has a point? What he was really trying to say was, could we please have potatoes for dinner?

The pantry was laden with potatoes, I also had some delicious looking Comte cheese that I had purchased at the cheese shop. I suffer from an insidious illness that I would not wish upon anyone, it is called ‘Cheeseyearningitis’. It entails standing in front of a cheese counter, looking longingly at cheeses that one wishes to try but one also knows, that one is of an age where one can no longer eat every cheese that ones hankers after. This is due to a waistline thickening on a daily basis and a propensity towards high cholesterol. ‘Cheeseyearningitis’. Look it up, it really exists.

Comte is a semi-hard French cheese made from unpasteurised milk obtained from cows that have only been freshly and naturally fed. It is very similar to Gruyere but a Comte cheese can only be called thus if it adheres to a whole bunch of strict Frenchy regulations. God Bless the French.

I was thinking of a good old potato bake but a googlebumble led me to this delightful concoction, a Comte and potato galette. (Galette meaning a flat pancake and this dish is intrinsically that, a pancake like concoction of cheese and potato.)

The smell of this simple dish baking caused dribble to surreptitiously slide out of the corners of my mouth. Luckily, no one was watching. How best to explain the odour of this cheese baking? I imagine that it is the smell of the meadows in the French alps, of the sweet grass and alpine flowers that blissfully happy European cows chow down upon.

This cheese and potato dish was nutty, sharp, crunchy and almost caramelised around the edges. Unfortunately, all the children present loved it so there were barely any leftovers. Which really sucked. As a French cow would say, ‘Le Moo, Le Sucky.’

POTATO AND COMTE GALETTE

2 tbl unsalted butter (30g)
1 kilo potatoes, peeled and coarsely shredded. I used Desiree because it’s all I had, the recipe called for Yukon Gold. I shredded them in my food processor, oh yeah. Squeeze the potatoes well to get rid of as much liquid as you can.
200g Comte cheese, grated
1 1/2 tsps sea salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.
Preheat a medium size frypan, add half the butter and melt it.
Place 1/3 of the shredded potatoes into the frypan, sprinkle half a teaspoon of salt, some grinds of black pepper and sprinkle some nutmeg evenly across.
Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheese over the potato.
Place another 1/3 of the potatoes on top, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and add another 1/3 of the cheese.
Add the last 1/3 of potatoes, drizzle the remaining butter on top then press the mixture down with the back of a spatula. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
Over a medium heat, cook the potatoes for about 10-15 minutes until the potato on the bottom starts to sizzle.
Transfer the frying pan into the oven and cook for about 25-35 minutes until golden brown and the potatoes pierce easily with a knife. (Meaning they are cooked.)
Eat it down quickly before the children do.

Recipe knicked from the website listed below, only a minor change was made to it.

http://www.oliversmarket.com/index.php/413

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comté_cheese


Green lentil dal, a curry, not the author

How could I not use this recipe as an excuse to wax a wee bit lyrical about one of my favourite authors, Roald Dahl?

Easily, you may say but then, that is how I roll. Expect the unexpected, I never promised you a rose garden and all that. (Whatever the hell that means, seriously, what does it mean?)

As a child, my fervent reading habit encompassed the works of Roald Dahl. His books were devoured as readily as any white bread that I was able to get my mitts on. (Back in the day, Mum baked homemade bread or we ate brown bread. This once painfully fussy eater hankered after a slice of white bread something fierce.)

Favourite Dahl tomes included the hippy trippy delicious adventures of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, closely followed by Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and of course, James and the Giant Peach. These books were read cover to cover and more than once. They were then followed by the rest of his children’s novels and poetry. In my later teenage years, I encountered his more grown up ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ in which a story about screaming plants was inked indelibly onto my mind and psyche. To read Dahl is to go on an adventure and end up in a place you never thought you would go.

Indian food is a little like a Roald Dahl tale, an exciting and exotic journey into a diverse world of spice and many varying ingredients. Each bite can reveal a different flavour and aroma. Every spice brings something new to the party. This curry consisting of deep green legumes is gently earthy, with a delicate creamy blend of heat and richness. It is a wonderful addition to an Indian banquet or just as pleasantly, scoffed alone with a heft serving of basmati rice.

On that note, I leave you with my one of my favourite Roald Dahl quotes. (And of course, the recipe.)

‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’

GREEN LENTIL DAL

WHAT YOU NEED
250g green lentils, washed
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic clove, roughly chopped
5 cm ginger, roughly chopped
1/4 cup oil
1 tbl ground cumin
1 1/2 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tbl garam masala
1/4 cup cream

HOW YOU DO IT
Put the lentils in a large saucepan and add 6 cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes to one hour or until the dal feels soft.The lentils will start to split a little and that is fine.
Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
Blend the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor to form a paste or finely chop them together with a knife.
Heat the oil in a medium size saucepan and fry the onion mixture over a high heat, stirring constantly until golden brown.
Add the cumin and coriander and fry for two minutes.
Add the lentils and stir in the salt, chilli powder and garam masala.
Pour 310ml (1 1/4 cup) of the reserved lentil liquid into the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for ten minutes.
Just before serving, check for salt then stir in the cream and simmer for another 2 minutes to heat through.
Serve alone with steamed basmati rice or as part of a feast.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the The Food of India: A journey for food lovers by Murdoch Books. Recipes by Priya Wickramasingh and Carol Selva Rajah.


Minecraft and a gluten free lemon drizzle cake

When my two lads talk to me about Minecraft, the computer game, this is what I hear:

Minecraft blah blah blah

Enderman blah blah blah

Diamonds, pigs, blah blah blah

Villagers blah blah blah

Me: Oh really, That’s great!

I could feel really bad but then I remember that this is what they hear when I speak to them:

What did you do today blah blah blah

Homework blah blah blah

Shut the door blah blah blah

Wash your hands blah blah blah

Tidy your room blah blah blah

So we are even.

Parenting can be a battlefield but we all need to eat. Every living creature in our house loves this cake. I mean, they really love it. Gluten is not missed and every bite is moist, sweet, tangy and tender. Just like life itself.

GLUTEN FREE LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE

WHAT YOU NEED
125g butter, room temperature
130g caster sugar
Zest of one large or two small lemons
2 large eggs
65 ml milk
1/4 tsp vanilla bean powder (or 1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or essence)
100g gluten free self-raising flour
50g sorghum flour
30g almond meal
2 tsps gf baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Lemon Syrup
2 tbl sugar
Juice of the zested lemon

HOW YOU DO IT
Preheat the oven 180 degrees or 170 fan forced, then prepare and line a loaf tin.
Cream the butter and sugar in the food processor.
Add the lemon rind and pulse.
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until nice and smooth.
(If you do not have a food processor, use a stand mixer, electric hand beater or go old school and use a hand whisk!)
Bake the cake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
For the lemon syrup, whilst the cake is baking, heat the sugar and juice of the lemon until the sugar has dissolved. Set it aside until you need it.
Whilst the cake is still in the tin, place it on a cooling rack.
Pierce the cake all over with a skewer then spoon over the lemon syrup. Use it all, the cake will soak up the syrup as it cools.
Let the cake cool completely in the tin before serving.
Slice and eat it. We did.

A Cheergerm adaptation from the UK Telegraph website. The link is provided below.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/8059974/Classic-lemon-drizzle-cake-recipe.html

A wee thanks for the ‘Sunshine’ blog award nomination to Windy Mama who blogs at Wuthering Bites. Go and have a read of her clever award acceptance post.

https://wutherornot.wordpress.com/2015/05/28/the-plays-the-thing/comment-page-1/#comment-575