Monday, January 23, 2012

Cooking up a storm

Having three straight weeks off work has been BLISS! Sadly, I struggle to sit around and do nothing, so whilst my little summer break was very welcomed, it certainly wasn't a sit-around-watching-movies-and-eating-popcorn kinda holiday.

We did manage a week getaway to my parents holiday home up north. They have a beautiful house right on the water not far from Hervey Bay. As they were traveling interstate, we decided to house-sit for a week.

7 days of watching the tide come in and out from the front deck? Yup I think I can handle that!

My parents have become quite self sufficient. They have purified their rain water so that it is drinkable, they bake all their own bread and as much as possible grow all their fruit and veges in the gardens. The only thing missing are some chickens! Dad assures me that they will be the next addition to the family though.

Whilst we were there, I decided to take a leaf out of their book and do a little baking and cooking myself.

First up, on request from the boy, were a batch of cupcakes.

Then, using my very fruity smelling sour dough starter, I made lots of fresh bread. Seriously, there is nothing better than the smell (and taste!) of freshly baked bread. I'm not one for being patient, or particularly tidy, so my rising times are a bit faster than normal (seriously, 12 hours of waiting for bread to rise? Not my style). Plus, I can get away with some ugly looking loaves by calling them 'rustic'. Try it some time! People are very impressed! If only they knew....

I also made a huge batch of candied cinnamon almonds. Think roasted almonds, covered in a crunchy cinnamon donut-like coating. These babies are like my version of crack. Madly addictive. I justify eating them by the handfuls by telling myself that they are high in protein...

Lastly, after wandering around the back yard snitching all the tomatoes and passionfruits I could get my hands on, I noticed the lillypilly tree was laden with berries. I remember eating them as a kid, but hadn't really thought about cooking with them. Mainly because they are not overly sweet and have a massive seed in the middle, but dang they are the prettiest little berries! All that pink!

I did a quick google search and came across a recipe for Lillypilly and apple jelly and decided to give it a try.

It was a pretty basic recipe - just boil up the lillypillies with a few chopped apples and once they are softened, pour the mixture through a sieve. Take the liquid and add a heap of sugar and a little lemon juice and return to the boil. The lemon juice is required as it has a high pectin content - pectin helps to make the jelly set. If you don't have lemons handy, or you want a fail safe setting jam, you can also buy Jamsetta, or any jam making sugar which will have dried pectin in it for this very purpose.

Once the jelly thickens, pour into sterilised jars and allow to cool before storing in the fridge. Here's a nifty tip to see if the jelly will set once cold:

Put a plate in the freezer. Once it is cold, remove it and place a teaspoon of the jelly on the plate. After 30 seconds, run your finger through the jelly. If it has set and gels when  you touch it, you know your jelly will be set once cool. If not, you need to reduce your jelly more, or add more pectin.

So, here is the finished product! So pretty and pink. Lovely and sweet too. If you haven't tried lillypillies before, they have a very delicate, floral flavour, almost like rosewater.

Now, after eating all that bread and jelly and cake, I better go for a jog! So much for the new year's resolutions. 

No comments:

Post a Comment