Sunday, January 16, 2011

if it's 30 degrees out...

...why not have the oven on for a few hours?

Today my mother came around for lunch. Which was nice, I suppose. We went for a walk up to the little park near by so, as Nic puts it, we could have some 'mother-daughter bonding time'. Really it was just an opportunity for me to suss out some important things such as - car insurance. Who is it with, and why can't I get my car fixed with it. Evidently she knew as much as I did.
Which is nothing.
Also, about whether the family business will pay for my health insurance when I turn 25 and can no longer be on her policy. No, they won't. So, until next year, no health cover for me, probably.
Also about wedding budgets and plans, which she seemed generally disinterested in, and still seemed to be of the opinion that having a wedding in one's backyard (we don't have a backyard) with a catered spit-roast was just as an acceptable way to go as any. Which it probably is. For some. But not for me. So we sussed out budgets a little bit, to which she likened the 5k she hesitantly said she would contribute to 'paying for a whole year of Uni' for me. Is that meant to be a guilt trip? I'm trying to do this wedding as cheap as I can. Put it this way, we're working with a 10k budget, total. My cousin is getting married this October and her dress is going to cost between 10-15k. Um. Yeah. So how about we don't complain. Also I found out she threw away her dress. Which is probably ok, cos it's a probably a little too vintage, stained, and informal for me (even with our super informal wedding, I'd still like a -nice- dress.)... but still, I would have liked to have seen it to have the chance. Then again, I guess if your marriage ended and you were unhappy with the marriage, then you don't keep the dress forever and ever. Maybe. That might be sometime to discuss later: The weigh-up between getting a second-hand dress vs. new, and also: what to do with the dress when I'm done with the dress. Being as I don't plan on having kids, I don't imagine a daughter I'll be able to give it to... but we'll see. (At 10k, I can imagine you'd not just get rid of it... but at $700, I'd be more inclined to donate/sell/whatever it).

Anyway! We had lunch, then played a game of bananagrams with her, which was fun. Then the left.
And we started baking.
We baked a new nut-bar based on last-weeks tasty-delicious-omg-can't-believe-we-ate-boxed-museli-bars-from-the-supermarket concoction. We also baked an apple crumble, and Nic is about to begin some granola.
Under the cut are some approximate recipes. We tend to abide by the If It Looks Like Enough And Tastes Or Smells Good, It's Probably Enough measuring system. Ie: Throw in stuff. Taste. Throw in more stuff. Or not. But, I'll try my best. Also, there are pictures!!
Top of the apple crumble once baked.

Firstly- the nut bars!
These were a creation of ours from last week, after we got sick of paying $3.50 at the supermarket for a box of 6 bars that we didn't know what was in them. Mostly they were peanuts. We thought: Surely we can do better than this! We already make our own toasted granola/muesli (That's the translation for any Aussies following. Granola=Muesli, basically.). So i thought of all the tasty things I might like in a nut bar. Did a little research on google (actually not so helpful for once. Seems not too many people publish their healthy nut-bar recipes), and threw some stuff together. Here's what we did.

Couple handfuls of almonds, processed/ground/chopped up but not too much.
Couple handfuls of cashews, processed/ground/chopped up as above.
Pumpkin seeds
Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds
Flax seeds
Sesame Seeds
2 tbs (OMG A MEASUREMENT) psyllium
Some rolled oats
Tablespoon or so of peanut butter.
Half a cup, maybe, of rice malt syrup, or honey, if you prefer.
Wholemeal flour,
Dried cranberry halves.
Shredded coconut.
Dark cooking chocolate, to top.

So, add the ground nuts, and all the seeds and coconut in a bowl and mix it together. Put it on a tray and in an oven on about 200C for about 10 minutes. Just till it's hot.
Take it out of the oven and put the mix back in your bowl. Warm up the rice malt stuff (or honey) in the microwave for 10 seconds so it's nice and runny, and pour it into the mix. Also add the peanut butter, and it should go melty. We use crunchy peanut butter, made at a health store from real peanuts being ground up. Add the psyllium, and the cranberries and stir it all together. Now the trick is getting the right consistency of sticky liquid stuff and flour, cos it seems like the flour is what binds it together. So you might just have to experient. Soon it goes kind of 'doughy'. Now you can put it on a baking tray (lined with paper, or not. Whatever you like) and press it down. Nic used his muscles, then a spoon. Both are effective.
He pressed it down so it was super solid and thick. Than pan weighed a ton. Pardon our messy kitchen.
Now put it in the oven and leave it for, I dunno, like 15-20 mins (I could never write a cookbook, right? It'd be the most vague, experimental, general guide to how to maybe make something resembling what I made, if you're lucky). 
When the edges start to go a bit darker brown, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool.
We then also melt some dark chocolate and spread this over the top. As the rice malt syrup isn't very sweet and the only other sweetness is from the cranberries, the chocolate adds a nice sweetness/bitterness (from the dark). We had it without the choc at first but it was a bit bland. Once we'd added the chocolate we just wanted to eat this all the time.
Seriously, it's super-delicious and super healthy. All the oils are from the nuts and seeds, as are the fats. There's a bit of sweetness from the rice malt stuff, and obviously the chocolate, but there's so much 'good stuff' in there, I figure it all balances out. 
The finished product out of the oven!!
And with chocolate on top. The choc is still melty, hence the shine.

Then I thought I would share my apple crumble recipe but it's really so simple I don't think it's even worthwhile. Nic was having a bit of a dessert crisis in the supermarket today and since I'm trying to be healthier lately, I didn't want to get/make a pie (pie crust=bad!) or like, a pudding. So I said I'd make crumble.
We used:
5 x Granny Smith apples, sliced into.. um.. chunks.. with skin on. (Added healthy)
Some wholemeal flour
Some oats
Brown sugar.

So I chopped the apples and added them to my glass casserole dish (???) thing. 
Then I 'crumbed' the oats, flour, cinnamon, sugar and margarine, till it was super tasty (you're allowed to taste-test as you go). Not TOO sweet. And enough so the flour and bits are sticking a little, and could make clumps that would probably fall apart. Make as much as you like/need. You can always make more if you need to, and eat it raw if you have some left over..
I mean..
Continuing on.
With your dish full of apple pieces, add a little water in the bottom to help them stew. It doesn't seem to matter too much as I never measure, but maybe like 1cm... or 2.. of water. Ie: don't drown your apples. Also, sprinkle a little of that brown sugar on top- GS apples are tart. Then put a bit of cinnamon on. Cos cinnamon is awesome and you can never have too much. If you're anything like us (and I hope you are), you'll need to frequent Indian grocery stores for their bulk-pack cinnamons because the small jars they sell in the supermarket are a) expensive and b) small. (Hello, you get like, 25g for $2.50... we got 100g for $3.00 the other day)
Sprinkle your crumb topping on top. Press it in a little if you'd like.
Eat the mixture off your fingers.
If you're into that kind of thing.
It's pretty tasty.
Put it in the oven.

Hey! That's me. Before eating the mix off my fingers. Has there been any photos of me up here yet? Possible not. Well, there I am. Hi. I'm making a crumb-topping. See my casserole dish full of apples? What's that? They're covered in brown? Well, duh, that's the cinnamon. There is also cinnamon in my crumb mix.
Until the apples are soft, maybe bubbling, and the crumb topping is a little crunch.
Good with ice-cream, cream, yogurt (plain and vanilla), custard, and by itself. Will feed 2 of you for about 3 or 4 nights if refrigerated. Cheap- check. Easy - check. Value - check. Awesome - double check.

So there we go. Welcome to Em's Wedding-Cooking-Pets-and-Lifestyle blog.
Nic put out a big empty bag that used to have smaller bags of kitty litter. Reya has decided it is now her lair.

Despite the epic battle of the video I posted, this is the two of them in the evening while we watch TV. Who said dogs and cats don't get along??? I just want to squeeze them until they die when they do this.
And that's all for tonight. Thanks for reading- apparently there are 4 of you! Of at least, the stats say there are 4 pageviews a day. One of them may be me logging in from work and making sure the formatting is ok and looking at my pretty pictures, and one of them is Nic... ok... so that makes 2. Well, hello to you, then. ;)

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