What's in a week?

It pretty much started Saturday night, June the 4th, and it didn't stop for quite a few days after.  We recorded over 250mls of rain in the first 48 hours at home.  Our block has a natural spring that runs through it, this spring broke its banks and turned into a number of little rivers, causing some real issues undermining our dam.  If our dam breaks, it heads straight for the house!

There were so many across Tasmania affected, lives lost, homes inundated with water, stock lost and fences destroyed, to date the clean up continues.  To support these affected communities please go to St. Vincent de Paul Society and donate where you can. There are many other local groups collecting, fund raising and running events to support flood victims, please google to find a group near you.

We made sure our girls were OK by moving them into another paddock. They weren't in any immediate danger, but moving them to higher ground so they weren't standing in water made sense.

These creatures are in our care, and making sure that they are safe means the world to me.  To try to explain those deep feelings is quite difficult, pretty sure it's something that most people feel that consider their pets are their family.

These guys were the only ones who wondered what all the fuss was about.

Once the head count was complete, not much else could be done other than monitor the rainfall situation.   I returned back inside with Biscuit and Huon by my side, got the fires going and tried to dry out a bit.

What followed over that next week included catching a cold that turned into bronchitis, lots of cooking in the attempt to make myself feel better and a closed shop for 7 days!  This would be the first time that I have closed in almost 4 years due to illness, but there was no way I could have gone in, and at this point, soon to be rectified, I don't have an offsider that in these situations could have jumped in to hold the fort.

In today's blog post I want to share with you three recipes that might just become favourites in our household!  Three things I made over this crazy week.......a chicken soup - essential if you're sick! A cake from MasterChef Australia current season - yes, a fair bit of TV viewing occurred, and a toasted muesli recipe that was tasty, tasty, tasty! 

Recipe: Chicken Soup

55g butter
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 onions, diced
2 sticks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, diced
1 whole free-range chicken, skin removed
1 sweet potato, diced
handful of beans, sliced
6 brussel sprouts, chopped (optional, I just love them so they go in most things)
3 massel chicken stock cubes
salt and pepper to taste
parsley, chopped

Melt butter in a large pot over a medium heat and gently fry the garlic, ginger, onions, celery and carrots until they start to soften.  Place the whole chicken into the pot and cover with water completely, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and pop the lid on.

After 1 hour remove the lid and using a spoon remove the froth that will have come to the surface, using tongs break up the chicken while it's sitting in the soup mixture and remove as many of the bones you can.

Add in the broken up stock cubes and the rest of the veggies and pop the lid back on, now leave to cook for another 30 mins, stirring occasionally.  Serve in a warm bowl and top the soup with a generous handful of parsley. This soup is filled with goodness and improves day after day.  Easily stored in plastic containers or pop it in the freezer.

I really enjoy watching MasterChef and I think the contestants are very clever to remember so many recipes, basic or otherwise. My brain doesn't work that way, so I do refer to a recipe most of the time unless it's something I've made a thousand times or just freestyling.

I love this recipe of Matt Sinclair's called Carrot Cake with Candied Walnuts and a Walnut Crumb!

2 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups grated carrot
1 tbsp molasses
1 cup plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground ginger
pinch salt

2 oranges, zested and juiced
2 carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp verjuice
2 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 tsp lemon juice

Cream Cheese Icing
375g cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 lemons, juiced

Walnut Crumble
25g walnuts, toasted
50g sugar
25g plain flour
25g butter

Candied Walnuts
25g walnuts, toasted
110g caster sugar

Preheat over to 170C.  Grease and line two 20cm round tins (please measure the diametre of your tins, I didn't and took a guess and mucked it up a bit, but it still tasted yum) 

For the carrot cake, combine eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, brown sugar, grated carrot and molasses in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Sift remaining ingredients into a large bowl and stir to combine.  Add the wet ingredients and mix well to combine.  Divide the cake batter between the two cake tins and smooth the surface with a spatula.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven until cakes are light golden and a skewer comes out clean.  Once cooked, remove cakes from oven and cool in tins for 10 minutes.  Once cooled, invert onto wire racks and set aside to cool.

For the marmalade, place orange juice and zest, carrot and sugar into a medium saucepan and cook over a medium heat until carrot has softened.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook over a medium heat until the mixture has thickened.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

For the cream cheese icing, beat cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth.  Sift in icing sugar and add lemon juice and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Set aside until needed.

For the walnut crumb, increase oven to 180C. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a course crumb.  Transfer mixture to a lined baking tray and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool until needed.

For the candied walnuts, spread walnuts onto a lined baking tray.  Place sugar and water in a small frypan and simmer until sugar is dissolved and a dark golden caramel.  Pour over walnuts and set aside to cool and harden.

OK, this is where my cake doesn't look as it should, I didn't take care and use the right size cake tin my cakes turned out thinner, so I made a yummy stack instead.  It was just as delicious and made no difference to the the moisture in the cake.  I have made this cake since using the right size tins, it was perfect!

To assemble the cake, trim and level one cake and place onto serving plate.  Spread with cold marmalade and half of the cream cheese icing.  Trim and level the remaining cake and place on top.  Spread remaining icing.  Top with walnut crumb and shards of candied walnuts.

I'm really enjoy using my @pinkwheatcreative plate made by the lovely Fiona, it looks so beautiful!

A few days later, and feeling much better, I found this recipe on bodyandsoul.com.au website for a apple crumble with toasted muesli.  

3 cups of rolled oats
1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
100g sesame seeds
100g pumpkin seeds
100g flaked almonds
100g brazil nuts, finely chopped
2/3 shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100ml honey
75ml coconut oil
6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced thinly
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 goji berries, the recipe asked for these to go in with the oat mixture before baking but I add them at the end, when serving up.  They would be much nicer raw and soft.

Preheat oven to 160C. Combine oats, apricots, sesame and pumpkin seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, shredded coconut and cinnamom in a bowl.  Pour honey and coconut oil into a saucepan.  Place over medium heat until warm and runny, then pour over oat mixture.  Place the mixture onto a non-stick baking tray.

Bake for 30 - 40 minutes or until slightly brown, tossing the mixture every 10 minutes.  Remove from oven set aside.  Increase oven temperature to 190c.  Place apples in a non-stick pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg, cover and place in the oven.  Bake for 45 minutes or until apples are tender.

Once cooled the mixture stores perfectly in fowler jars or any glass or ceramic container.

Serve up this warm, crunchy and most delicious treat topped off with a vanilla bean yoghurt, or any yoghurt you fancy.

Stay well and warm. x Julie