Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hey ho, another change

This blog has become pretty erratic. I blame the acquisition of a life. This cottage farming bizzo dramatically lessens the allotment of sitting-on-arse-blogging time, who knew?

Anyway, latest news on the farm front is that we have a house cow. The two pigs we acquired a couple of months ago are not immediately contributing to the food supply, but the cow is another matter! So in the immediate future, this blog will probably move towards chronicling my attempt to find more lower-carb vegetarian dairy recipes. Lower-carb meaning not containing pasta, potatoes, rice or flour, which is a big ask in itself, and vegetarian because the point is to replace other sources of protein with our own produce. Meeting both of these requirements is actually quite tricky, especially since it will be a while until we can start incorporating any cheeses which require ageing. But since we can now provide pretty much all of our own yoghurt, butter, cream, sour cream and milk as well as paneer, haloumi, mozzarella and ricotta, there are still quite a few options out there. I just need to find them (and remember to write them down here).

Housemate Dylan is the dairy queen, so I'm not going to be sharing much of the actual basic recipes for any of the above, more what I then do with them. And hopefully, it will be really cool to watch this blog become more of a chronicle of how much of our own produce we can live off, as the garden becomes more productive and we add more animals. I, for one, am really really looking forward to the day when our Saturday morning ritual of Eggs Benedict is made with our own butter, eggs and ham!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Meatballs in a Fruity Chickpea Sauce

This can be made with your mince of choice. Lamb is particularly nice with the Moroccan flavours of the fruity chickpea sauce, but this is my go-to recipe for all mincey creations like hamburgers or meatloaf, or with cooked chickpeas, lentils, beans or even tofu in any combination substituted to make a vegetarian version (although they don't hold together as well as the meat ones). I make a variation of this recipe at a minimum once a fortnight, and no one ever gets tired of it. Just scale up the amounts if you're making something more substantial (eg. after I'd made the meatballs to this recipe, I used nearly a kilo of mince to make a dozen hamburgers and just increased the amounts of the dry ingredients and added another onion and another egg).

  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 6 mushrooms, roughly broken up
  • 4 heaps dessert spoons each ground almonds and wheatgerm
  • 250g mince
  • 1 egg
 Roughly whizz up the onions and mushrooms, then add the mince, ground almonds and wheatgerm and process until it starts coming together. Add the egg either when it starts coming together, or after a minute or so if it isn't combining properly. You want it to start folding over itself at the top and combining all the layers into a big sticky lump. When it's ready, wet your hands and roll small handfuls of the mix into balls. Refrigerate until the sauce is ready (or if you prefer to get rid of some of the fat, you can put them in the oven to par-cook and then drain before adding to the sauce).

Fruity Chickpea Sauce
  • two onions, roughly diced
  • 4 sticks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp chili paste, or dried chili to taste
  • 1 tsp each coriander and cumin, or use a Moroccan spice blend if you have one
  • 2 cups diced pumpkin
  • 2 cups diced carrot
  • 1 turnip, grated (optional, but you can't tell it's in there and it bulks out the sauce)
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • two tins chickpeas (or two heaped cups of cooked chickpeas if you're more organised than me or at least don't switch around your weekly menu plan as much)
  • two tins of diced tomatoes
  • water
Saute the onions, add the celery, and then the garlic, chili and spices.Toss through the pumpkin, carrots and turnip (if using), then add the tins of tomato, currants, and enough water to cover. Put on a lid, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat a bit and simmer until the veges are soft but not disintegrating. Par-cook the meatballs while it's simmering, if you want to. When the pumpkin is just tender, put the meatballs on top of the sauce, put the lid back and simmer gently for about ten minutes until the meatballs are cooked through (depending on size). While the meatballs are cooking, make some instant couscous to serve it with. Nom.