Hard knock life spelt pizza

Kid 1 has a hard life. He thinks he has it tougher than little orphan Annie ever did. The following conversation we had recently, highlights this.

Kid 1: I think Kid 2 should start learning his timetables.
Me: But you just started learning them recently yourself, and you are almost 10. He only just turned 7!
Kid 1: Yes mum, but I want him to have a better life than me. Can’t you see I’m going nowhere fast?

Yes, we can see why he has lost all hope at the ripe old age he is. ‘How about we have homemade pizza for dinner?’ I ask. ‘Yeah!’ he cries. It’s a surefire way to cheer up a hard knock life child like Kid 1.

This pizza uses a mix of wholemeal spelt flour and a strong, high protein flour that is used for bread or pizza. It’s a great workout for the arms. The crust has a moreish nutty flavour but is still light from the pizza flour. I am a bit of a minimalist topping kind of chick but you can use whatever toppings float your boat. We are big fans of mushrooms. If you have never made your own pizza, go for it. Get your kidlets to help, if you can.

Pizza dough
220g strong flour
200g wholemeal spelt flour (if you don’t have spelt, use plain wholemeal flour)
2tsps (7g) dried yeast
1 1/2 tsps salt
320 ml lukewarm water
2 tbl olive oil

Pizza sauce
1 tbl garlic oil
1 tbl olive oil
1/2 onion finely diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
Splash of caramelised balsamic vinegar or 1/2 tsp brown sugar

400g mushrooms, finely sliced
250g shredded/grated mozarella
Fresh basil leaves to garnish (I had run out)

2 large pizza pans (mine are 40 and 30cm). I prefer the ones with holes as they work better in a home oven, letting hot air onto the bottom of the pan and making the base crispier.

Sieve the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Dissolve the yeast in a little of the lukewarm water, then stir in the remaining water and add the oil.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixtures, pour the liquid into the well and gradually work the flour in from the sides.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a board that is sprinkled with flour.
Knead (use those muscles!) for about 5 minutes. (You may need to add more of the pizza flour if it’s too wet.)
Put the dough into a clean and slightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth.
Leave the dough to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

The Sauce:
Whilst your dough is proving (rising), make the sauce. Sauté the onions in the oils for a few minutes until translucent.
Add the tin of tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar or sugar.
Cook on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes until it has reduced and thickened to a spreadable consistency.

Now you are ready to assemble the pizza!
Once you are ready, knock back the dough ( basically squash it), divide in half and roll out thinly on a well floured board. Place on your 2 pizza pans and add your toppings.
Cook 20 to 30 min until cooked. (I always check the bottom of the pizza to make sure it is cooked.)

(The dough quantity makes 2 large pizza bases.)

A cheergerm recipe

Why spelt? Why not? Seriously, this ancient grain contains 50% more protein than wheat flour. It also contains quite a lot of different vitamins and minerals. This cheergerm believes it is beneficial to eat from a wide variety of food sources. Please note, it is NOT gluten free.

Vegetarian Tacos and Derriere’s

Not too long ago, Kid 2 sent me his first text from his fathers mobile. I read it in trembling mumma anticipation, what did it say? ‘Bum’. Yup, that’s what it said. Ahh the eloquence of 6 year old boys.

That event has no bearing whatsoever on this recipe post. Unless you can connect the poor trampled heart of a mum, to the cooking of two different batches of bean taco mix because the little twerps darlings can’t handle any chilli. Cant handle the heat? Then get out of the kitchen lads, hang about, it’s only me in here anyway…

Anytime I ask Kid 1 what he would like for dinner, tacos is the standard reply. Believe me, finding a meal that everyone will eat in this house can be a nightmare challenge. It’s a great sharing meal where we get to sit down together and share our deepest thoughts. (Past topics have included who would win in a battle between a giant man eating crocodile versus an anaconda, the various ways to break wind and why rolling your brother in a doona and sitting on him isn’t such a great idea.)

It’s not really difficult, just split the mixture into two before adding the requisite spices. (Mild for the kids and spicy for the grown ups.) I love to ‘cheat’ and use Herbies Mexican spice blend (this is not an advertisement I assure you, I just love them!) There is also a quick ‘make your own spice blend’ in the recipe below.


2 tbl rice bran or olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 medium zuchinni, diced
300g mushrooms, diced
2 tins 420g red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off (or 1 cup frozen corn)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbl Herbies Mexican spices blend or make your own by combining: 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp salt
1 lime or lemon
2 tbl chopped fresh coriander
Taco shells, gluten free. (The Yak and Cheergerm can down 4-5 each of these bad boys, the kids 2 to 3 each) cook to packet instructions just before serving.

Serve with
Grated cheese (as much as you like)
1 diced tomato
1/2 shredded lettuce

Sauté onions and red peppers in oil until translucent in medium saucepan.
Add zucchini, cook for 2-3 minutes
Add mushrooms, cook 2-3 minutes
Add beans and corn. Combine then remove about 1/3 to just under half of the mixture and place in smaller saucepan.
Add oregano and cumin to the smaller saucepan cook for 2 mins, then add 1/3 of the tinned tomato and add 1/2 cup water.
In the big pot, add the spicy spices, cook 2 mins, add remaining tinned tomato and 3/4 cup water.
Cook both sauces over low to medium heat until they have reduced and thickened, about 20 mins.
Heat the taco shells in the oven according to packet instructions.
Add a generous squeeze of lime or lemon juice to both pots just before serving.
Stir the coriander through the ‘grown-up’ version and the kidlet version if you so fancy (my kids won’t eat fresh coriander….)
Serve with taco shells, tomatoes, grated cheese and shredded lettuce.
We usually have some leftovers for the next day. Yum.

A Cheergerm recipe

In our house there is a division as to whether the cheese goes into the taco shell before the bean mix or last, after the bean mix. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows it’s last. Right?

A spot of holiday reading

A little while ago I purchased the book Kitchen Table Memoirs. Only now, in the quiet aftermath of Christmas have I been able to sit and finally read it. The last two days have found me scurrying away to quiet corners (it would be easier to find a unicorn in this household) to voraciously devour this wee gem of a book. Not only is it a fine collection of Aussie writers personal kitchen table memories, but every book purchased helps Foodbank’s fight to end hunger.

These stories made me both giggle and guffaw out loud. They touched my heart and tantalised my taste buds. After finishing and experiencing the ‘great book post blues’, I plonk myself down at our own kitchen table. Hands placed atop, I look good and hard at an object that I have always loved but maybe have taken for granted.

It is a solid piece of wooden furniture that seats 6-8 comfortably but can magically accommodate more when required. Already an antique when my parents purchased it back in the 70’s, it is made of Western Australian hardwood and has stood the test of time.

Our childhood memories are engrained onto its surface. Hours of art and craft, happy times, the darker times and the varying foods that our adventurous mumma placed upon there. Back then, Mum was a member of a health food co-op and as such, our table saw homemade bread, yoghurt made from scratch, wholemeal pizza bases and other hippy based Moosewood style dishes. (And no, I did not eat all of it, crying in disgust ‘I just want normal shop bought white bread like other kids get!’).

At other times, more exotic dishes were laid to rest on the glitter speckled wood. Italian style cannelloni made with paper thin crepes and Indian style green beans come foremost to mind. I remember the cannelloni being made for those crazy 70’s dinner parties, replete with bearded men and women in flowing embroidered blouses. I am sure the table saw it’s fair share of red wine stains from wine that my father and his hairy cohorts had bottled themselves.

And always the more steady food of Mum’s upbringing. Irish stews, scones, vegetable soups and many delicious baked slices such as Belgian slice and the super yummy Weetbix based Scott’s Farewell Slice. Being an orchadist’s daughter, there was always an abundance of fresh fruit and veg. An hereditary condition methinks.

Our ma has always been emphatic that she was not a great cook but her 4 daughters beg to differ and I am sure if the table could speak, it would agree with us.

The table is now regularly laden with our lads Lego, various game pieces, homework, colouring pencils and paper. And of course the many meals lovingly (and at times begrudgingly) placed upon it. The patina of our life is now being written into it’s beloved wooden surface.

It speaks of the funny (?) time I arrived home after a weekend away and how The Yak (with a loving heart) had sanded it down and re-stained it a hideous yellowy varnish that shone like a bloody beacon in the night. Tears did fall that day.

Our extended family now gather around it. We are not little girls anymore but grown women with careers, families, joys and troubles of our own. This table joins us, even when we are disconnected.

It speaks of friends who have joined us and the many words and feelings that have sunk into this receptacle of our lives.

This table reminds me that we are not only what we eat. We are also where we eat and who we choose to eat with. Of the importance that food plays in the fabric of our daily lives, not only as sustenance but in the making of memories. After reading Kitchen Table Memoirs, I don’t think I shall ever take our table for granted again.

For further details on this wonderful book and on Foodbank, go here: