Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Penelope Violet...

The new addition.  The substitute baby.  We are all in love with her.

Sunday, 19 May 2013


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

I am joining this group very late but as they say, better late than....

Louis: Feet that have just turned 3 with the newest member of our family, Miss Penelope Violet
Minnie: I can see her adult face under her crazy hat - a beautiful face 


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

grow: our garden

Living in the city means there are lots of great things right on our doorstop.  We live close enough to easily walk to the "down town" but we are in a lovely area on a quite street with a wonderful park just around the corner.  As I have mentioned before, school is around the corner and day care is only up the road a bit so it really is perfect.  The only downside is that our garden space is small.  But this hasn't stopped us when it comes to growing our own food.

Pots: We have a range of tubs in the garden that are a combination of traditional plant pots, hand made timber planters and IKEA storage tubs, simply with drain holes drilled in the bottom.  The red IKEA tubs are much cheaper than traditional planters and although they may fail after a few seasons of sunlight, they are also recyclable.

Soil:  I try and buy good quality organic potting mix and manure to feed the soil.  Good soil it the key to growing good food!  CERES in Brunswick is a great place for potting mix (and plants)

Plants:  Over the summer we grew cherry tomatoes, large tomatoes, strawberries (tiny and sweet), cucumbers, rocket, basil (and a wide range of other herbs), peas, dwarf beans, swish chard, and beetroots.  We did not use any sprays or powders or chemicals of any sort and we had great success with hardly any loss to insects.  Now, heading into winter, we have in carrots (purple and 'bunny balls'), broccolini, mini cabbages, more Swiss chard (its has not stopped growing), kale and kohlrabi plus the herb garden.

With only a tiny space and a lot of love, we are producing some delicious vegetables, herbs and fruit.  And the benefit for the children?  I am sure you all know how wonderful the experience it is for them.  There is nothing quite like walking out the front door and picking your dinner.

 Do you grown plants or herbs?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Cook: Chicken Schnitzel Or 'Around the World with Crumbed Chicken...'

For those of you that eat meat I am sure you are already familiar with the wonders of a delicious free range chicken breast crumbed and pan fried.  Any of you with children will know that great adage - 'crumb it and they will come (to the table and eat it.')   Some thing wonderful happens when a plain old bit of chicken is floured, egg dipped, crumbed and fried.  I am sure there are chemical equations that describe this particular process and all its glory.

I don't need to tell you how to crumb 2 chicken breasts but if I do, the fast and dirty version is as follows;

- Remove the tenderloins (these become the mini schnitzels for the children) and then slice the breast through into 2 thin breasts.  Bash then if you like to flatten them a little.
- Dust in seasoned flour (flour with salt and pepper).
- Shake off excess and the dip in egg (2-3 eggs whisked with a little milk).  Let the excess drip off.  - Then to the crumbs.  If you want to be fancy use Panko bread crumbs - the Japanese crumbs are delicious.  However the average 3 year old will not really care so you can happily use crumbs you make at home by whizzing the crusts and stale bread you find on top of the fridge...
- Dip the floured eggy chicken into the crumbs and make sure you cover it all.  For a super crumby outside, repeat the egg wash and crumbing again.  You don't have to.  2 breasts done this way will get you 4 thin breast sized schnitzels and the 2 mini tenderloin schnitzels.
- Cook - add oil  (I like rice bran as an all purpose cooking oil) to heavy based (non-stick if you have it) pan and cook over medium until brow and crunchy on the outside. 5 minutes or so on each side (depending on hob and pan so you will be much better at knowing when they are cooked).

These are out top 5 ways that we enjoy a chicken schnitzel.*

1. German Style - cook your schnitzel as above and serve with sauerkraut (the Edgell's can variety is very good and is in the canned good section at your local store), potatoes (either creamy mash or a German potato salad), a dill gherkin and some mustard perhaps?  Stella will not eat the sauerkraut but Louis will.  I serve Stella's with a corn cob- one of the only veggies that she will willingly eat. 

2. Tonkatsu Style -this is one of own favourites and super simple.  All you need to get hold of is Tonkatsu sauce from a Japanese supermarket/Asian grocer.  Its a spicy fruity BBQ sauce.  Once you have cooked the schnitzel, you simply serve will some rice, some very, very finely shredded raw cabbage (use normal old cabbage, shred and then place in iced water - keeps it really crispy).  Drain your cabbage and serve.  The sauce is the key.  If you can't get it, any spicy BBQ type sauce will be good.

3. Parmigiana - this is the simple no frills version.  Next time you make a thick tomato based pasta sauce, keep some and freeze it to use here.  Once you have cooked your schnitzels (as above) place them on a baking try.  Turn on your grill. Warm the defrosted pasta sauce a little and spoon same sauce on each schnitzel, sprinkle on some grated cheese and (tasty or mozzarella) place under the pre-heated grill.  Remember to watch it as this is the bit when I forget and go off to remove a small Lego part from a child's body...  When the cheese is melted, you are done!  Serve with chips and salad or just salad (but we all really want chips too so please, have the chips).

4. Curry Style - Japanese curry sauce served over a pork schnitzel becomes a Katsu Karre and becomes even more delicious.  I use chicken schnitzel here as well.  Bill Granger does a Japanese Pork Curry that is perfect - just don't use meat when you make the curry - just veggies.  There are lots of simple Keens Curry based vegetable curries that you could make to use (just Google it)! 

5. Kiev - Deconstructed Style - everyone loves a Kiev, no?  But everyone knows that the garlic butter melts out and ends up all over the oven try.  This is a solution you will love.  In a small pot add about 125g butter, 2 garlic gloves (finely chopped or grated), a small handful of parsley, finely chopped and a small handful of chives, finely chopped.  Warm over low heat until butter is melted.  The add a bit of lemon zest to zest things up!  Serve your schnitzel (which you cooked as above) with mash and some green beans and drizzle the garlicky herb butter 'sauce' over the schnitzel. You will love it.  Thanks to Gourmet Traveller for this amazing idea.

*Pork is more traditional for the Tonkatsu Style and veal would be more authentic for the German Style.  However, chicken is much easier to chew when you are 2 or 82 so I am happy to use chicken!  We buy Lilydale free-Range or RSPCA approved.  I know that they are more expensive but eating meat that had a happy life is important to us.  
**Image is a photo from  Australian Gourmet Traveller. June 2010