Baked Beetroot.

This is one of those things that is so simple it’s barely a recipe, but it’s absolutely delicious so I’m sharing it with you anyway!

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It’s late autumn here so it’s the time of year for warm, hearty meals. I am basically in love with any kind of baked/roasted vegetables, and this is no different.

just pre-heat the oven to 200C, pop in the washed beets, and walk away for 45 mins to an hour, or until the beets are soft all the way through when poked with a tester. Serve as a hot side dish with a schnitzel (of course, in Germany), or roast meat, or anything you like. or, if you’re like me, just chop them open, add a little cinnamon, a little butter, and a spoonful of cottage cheese, and eat 4 of them while barely pausing for breath. 

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Note: if you gorge on them like I did, the next day you may think you’re dying but it’s just that we don’t metabolise the red colour very much. Sorry to be gross… Just a warning. Don’t let that keep you from eating them though – they’re super-healthy and oh so tasty! 

Cheers,

Luci

 

Natural Toothpaste.

This is another one I’ve been making for quite a while, but I’ve avoided posting about it for a kind of silly reason: I’m embarrassed by my photography skills and this is particularly tricky to get in a photo. I’ve decided to share anyway!Image

I’ve tried a few different toothpaste DIY’s that I’ve found online, but this one is what has worked for me. As a former dental nurse, I know that toothpaste is actually unnecessary if the brushing and flossing techniques are thorough enough (and the visits to the dentist are regular), but I like having that just-brushed minty taste and so do most people. I tried the baking-soda paste option but it was too rough on my gums – I think it was actually giving me chemical burns! Then i found references online that you can use coconut oil as a carrier for toothpaste. Oh-ho, thought I, and got a-mixing.

The recipe goes:

4 tablespoons pure virgin coconut oil

1 tablespoon baking soda

2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)

~10 drops peppermint oil, or to taste

As the coconut oil is solid at room temperature, i add it to whatever i plan to keep the toothpaste in (a little jar works for me) and put the jar in a bowl of hot water (not too deep, the water shouldn’t get in to the coconut oil), to melt it a little to allow mixing through of the other ingredients. Mix in the baking soda and cornstarch, and add the peppermint oil a little at a time until the smell/taste seems right to you. 

That’s it really! I use a spoon to get the toothpaste onto my toothbrush, just to keep it fairly clean. Store in the cupboard and use as normal.

THIS is my dodgy picture that is why I almost didn’t post, by the way.

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Sorry about that one.

I’ve been using this recipe for a few months now and my gums love it! 

Cheers,

Luci

Rosemary and Sea Salt Crispbread.

I’m on a bit of a mission at the moment to try to stop Dom from eating packaged snack foods every day (I call them MSG-Snacks). He loves to eat salty snacks in front of the TV at night, though, so I’m looking for ever more homemade snack ideas. The kale chips were pretty popular (though I struggle to make enough to share, I can’t stop eating the damn things. I ate some with my breakfast this morning…), and today I’ll share another success story.

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I actually made these to take with me to a party at my friend Sabine’s apartment (you may remember her as my lovely Reformation Day Bread-making instructor), but I had to make a fair bit extra as Dom and I needed some for-now snacks too. 

The party was great and the bread was super-popular. I love this recipe as it tastes amazing but it’s surprisingly (to me) easy to make. 

I found the recipe over at Smitten Kitchen, which is a site I’ve found recently and fallen in love with. The recipe goes like this:

1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus some sprigs unchopped as garnish
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt plus some for on top 
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for brushing

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Stir together flour, chopped rosemary, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center, add water and oil and gradually stir until a dough forms. Knead gently, just 4 or 5 times.

Divide dough into 3 pieces and roll out 1 piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap) on a sheet of baking paper – dough should be fairly thin. 

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Lightly brush top with additional oil and scatter small clusters of rosemary leaves on top, pressing in slightly. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Leave the dough on the baking paper and put the whole thing in the oven. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to brown. The browner, the crispier, so try it out and work out what you like best.

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Roll out the next dough just before you want to cook it, and add oil, rosemary springs and salt immediately before it goes in the oven.

Transfer cooked bread to a rack to cool, then break into pieces.

I also made some hummus and some olive dip to go with this, but it’s pretty freakin’ yummy on it’s own as well.Image

You could mix this up with other herbs, or add pepper or chilli flakes too. The possibilities are endless!

Hope you’ve had a great weekend, 

Cheers,

Luci

Tidying Things Up A Bit.

Every now and then I get this urge to clean, tidy and organise some part of my home. Sometimes it’s just little things like actually packing books into the bookshelf instead of on top of it; sometimes I try to colour-code my wardrobe, which lasts about two outfit changes. This week I attacked my office/workroom desk.

My desk has two computers, a sewing machine, a pile of German-language books and notes, and a whole lot of what can only be described as mess. After half an hour of putting things where they should go, and cleaning off the dust and loose threads, I was left with a relatively tidy desk. And this stuff, which I couldn’t find a home for.

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It’s not a whole lot, I know, but after cleaning everything else, this stuff bothered me. So I decided to make a hanging pen (etc) holder to hang from my cork board just behind my desk. 

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Two pockets of different heights to accommodate my flotsam seemed about right. I made it an arbitrary width – using a scrap of yellow cotton I had lying around. I should have interfaced the back, to give it a bit more support, but I may go back and do that later. I had initially thought I’d just pin it directly to the board but then I remembered I had yellow ribbon, so I made little hanging loops. This stuff was annoying to line up under the needle on my machine, but after a few tries and some swearing I got them attached.

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After testing the carry-all, I decided to stitch up the middle to stop sagging.

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And that’s really all for this one. I put it up on the wall and filled it with my bits n bobs, and then proceeded to keep sewing and therefore make more mess, but it was a productive venture nonetheless!

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Definitely need to go back and interface, though. One day…

Hope you’re having a great Monday!

Cheers,

Luci

Stuffed Mushrooms.

These are very popular in my house. I could eat them by the tray full and Dom is of the same opinion, and aside from being so full of garlic that we can never have vampires over for dinner, there’s really no downside.

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It’s mushroom season here in Germany and these brown cup mushrooms are one of my favourites. The recipe is pretty simple, and as versatile as you want to make it. I always include butter, chopped stems, and garlic, plus some salt and pepper. I always add some green-ness of some sort, either spring onions, chopped chives/basil/parsley, sometimes spinach leaves, whatever you like. Chop all together and mix softened butter together, and then spoon into the hollows where the stems were (to remove stems, just gently push from side to side until they pop out). 

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Bake at 200 degrees for about 15 minutes, give or take a few minutes depending on how big your mushrooms are. 

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I served these with some potatoes, baked Brussels sprouts, and mustard marinaded baked pork fillet. It was much tastier than this photo does justice for. I’m terrible at photography – does anyone have any tips? I’m usually so impatient for my food that I don’t take the time it deserves.

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Happy cooking!

Cheers,

Luci

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.

This is another recipe in my list of things to do with the leftover buttermilk from making butter. Sunday mornings are the traditional day that, as kids, we would have pancake breakfast. Feeling in the mood to be traditional, I got a-cooking this Sunday.

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I had some blueberries in the freezer. I’m becoming a fan of frozen fruits and veggies, as it seems to me the better option than going without, in Germany’s mostly season-driven produce market. I had just about exactly 500ml buttermilk, too, so that bode well for my recipe. 

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My cupboards and fridge shelves are filling up with these dodgy-labeled containers now, as I keep experimenting. I should probably start making nicer labels. Anyone got any suggestions? We do have a new printer now so I probably should use it…

Anyway, the recipe is just a variation on my usual pancake recipe, which omits the sugar and blueberries and uses whole milk instead of buttermilk. The recipe I used on Sunday is as follows:

2 cups plain flour

2.5 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch salt

2 tablespoons sugar (or more if you like it sweet)

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter, plus some for frying

1 cup thawed frozen blueberries

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix together briefly, being careful not to over mix. I have to include this Cook’s Note from the recipe linked below: Make a lumpy batter. Over mixed batter will result in flat, heavy pancakes. Add blueberries at the end and mix through.

I did consult this recipe, just to make sure buttermilk doesn’t need any special treatment. It doesn’t. 🙂

Heat your pan and add a little butter. Spoon on the right amount of mix, for whatever size you’d like your pancake. Cook for a few minutes per side.

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Keep pancakes warm in the oven if you’d like to serve them all at once. I served mine with maple syrup, whipped cream and fresh raspberries. Yum-O!

Hope you’re having a great day!

Cheers,

Luci

Kale Chips.

These are so yummy.

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You read everywhere about the health benefits of kale, and that’s a plus – but I need my food to be healthy and delicious and these chips are the perfect combination. I just ate three trays of them myself. Yep, I’m a pig, but a happy pig!

All I’ve done here is to get some fresh kale (called Grunkohl here in Germany, for those who are interested), which I think is an autumn/winter food, so sorry to my southern hemisphere readers. You guys get summer soon, that’s a reasonable consolation prize. So you cut out the thicker stems from the kale stalks like so:

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Break the leaves up into bite-sized pieces, toss them in olive oil until coated, then spread out on a baking tray. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top, bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about ten minutes, then yum them up. Watch them as they cook, as they darken pretty quickly and I find they’re tastiest when they’re part brown, part green. Try it and see what you think 🙂

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I hope you’ve had a great Monday!

Cheers,

Luci