After baking, my next favourite “thing” to make in the kitchen is muesli or granola. The flavour combinations are endless and almost everyone in our family has a different preference. Mopp & Miss M fall into raptures over a bowl of Berry Berry Muesli while Mr M happily scoffs the Date & Vanilla Muesli all by himself. The Anster, Mr L and myself have whatever is in the cereal container at the time. This fig muesli is one of my favourites. Figs are a polarising fruit – some people melt at a mere mention of a fresh fig but others think they’re seedy, gritty and bland. I’m not so fond of them raw but cooked or in jam, I’m in the first category. Continue reading
I picked up this cider during a quick trip to the supermarket – one of those ones where you have no list because you only need a few things but you end up with a trolley load of other stuff you don’t need. It wasn’t until I got home that I discovered it is made right here in our fair city.
We’re lucky to have a Cidery right here in town – they have a shop that not only sells their cider but also some lovely bacon salt from Ma Prenzel as well as highly perfumed candles set into old tea cups. I’m fairly sure I bought a bottle of olive oil that had something to do with garlic but I seem to have mislaid it …… my new pantry doesn’t seem to be as organised as it “should” be.
But back to the cider – here in NZ cider means hard cider or alcoholic cider as opposed to fresh unfiltered apple juice. Cider has had a resurgence of sorts over the last five years or more – new cider varieties appear on my apple radar with regular occurence. And we’d much prefer to sit down to a cold cider than to beer or wine.
With so many New Zealand produced cider’s available, the imported name brands are relegated to the ‘meh’ pile. Thomas & Rose Fine Fruit Cider, also produced by Harvest Cider here in Gisborne is one of my favourite. I do a real good frownie face when the Mopp comes home with non-NZ made cider but he hasn’t cottoned on as yet.
I’m not real fond of plastic bottles, I much prefer glass. However, in the interests of trying this sparkling apple cider, I pushed aside my niggles and popped the bottle into my trolley. I’m glad I did as this cider is fresh, fruity, crisp and very good to drink. The apple taste really shines through which may be a dumb thing to say but some apple cider doesn’t much taste of apples.
I enjoyed my glass of cider while sitting on the deck covered in fallen apple blossoms. I also found that one can buy a “proper” cider glass rather than just any old glass – there is an interesting article over at the Cider Journal. And to correctly compare one cider to another, then the correct glass is imperative. Oops – I do have a wine glass somewhere but we drink wine so seldom, the glasses are in a box buried in the back of the china cabinet cupboard and it was much to difficult to dig them out. My recycled glass did just fine.
Two cakes in a row…. but cake is a good thing particularly when paired with a nice hot coffee and a good book. Continue reading
A few years ago I hopped onto the fermenting wagon with enthusiasm. Perhaps too much enthusiasm as bottles of water kefir and kombucha took over the fridge followed by milk kefir and kimchi. Production far outstripped demand and we ended up having way too much so I have scaled back my efforts. Currently I am only making milk kefir as it is a wonderful product to have on hand for baking. I use it in place of yoghurt, sour cream or buttermilk. I do have yoghurt, sour cream and sometimes buttermilk in the fridge but they are “earmarked” for other things and I can always rely on having milk kefir to use up. Continue reading
Salmon of almost any kind (even tinned salmon) is very high on my list of favourite things. While tinned salmon is good and useful in lots of different ways, it is not quite on the same level as fresh salmon and smoked salmon. If I am out to dinner, lunch or brunch; I find it hard to bypass the salmon.
Chop Chop – Brett McGregor
Asian food is my nemesis so I am glad for all the help I can get when it comes to preparing delicious meals with an oriental flair. Curries and Thai food I have a handle on but anything else bewilders me. I can’t tell if the recipe is Malaysian, Vietnamese, Chinese or otherwise. Not so for Brett McGregor, New Zealand’s first MasterChef winner. This is his third cookbook, and as with his first (Taste of a traveller) and second (A Taste of home), Brett shares a whole heap of tasty recipes suitable for family cooking. Continue reading
When I originally began this blog it was my intention to take regular recipes and see how I could ramp them up with flavours of apple. I have done a fair bit of adding apple to recipes but have failed to add them to my blog before the bottomless-pit-teenagers manage to remove all trace of such baking experiments. Continue reading
I love love love single variety apple juice. I imagine (pretend) as I am drinking it that I can taste the individual nuances of apple flavours. Well, there is no pretending with this Granny Smith apple juice. The inside of my cheeks water and pucker just like they do when I eat a Granny Smith apple.
I had a photo bomber today – he was very interested in what I was up to. Especially when there was cake and biscuits at his eye (nose and tongue) level.
This is the second bottle of juice we’ve bought. The first I bought for the purposes of this blog but the bottle appeared in the recycling bin before I realized it was even open proving it is appreciated by someone in our house.
This berry muesli is inspired by a particular brand of muesli that my teenagers inhale at the rate of (almost) a box per day. As I make home-made muesli regularly, I checked out the ingredients to figure out why they liked this muesli more than my other muesli mixes. I believe it is the absence of nuts and coconut and the abundance of berries that make this muesli a hit. I have recreated the berry muesli using the ingredients on the box as a guide.
Each time I make the muesli it turns out a little bit different depending on my muesli ingredient stocks. Cereal flakes can be a mix of Special K Original, Mesa Sunrise Flakes, Ancient Grain Flakes and Heritage Flakes which include flakes of rice, whole wheat, whole grain oats, corn, flake, quinoa, amaranth, barley & spelt. I buy whatever is on special. The muesli can be made with all Special K Original but I like the layering of flavours when the other flakes are included in the cereal. You could also use brown rice flakes and coconut flakes (although I purposely leave coconut out of this particular muesli mix as that is how the teens prefer it). By using some regular grains (wheat and oats) along with the more expensive grains (quinoa, amaranth etc) it balances out the cost. If budget is of less concern than health, use all organic, ancient, or heritage flakes.
The natural bran flakes (these are similar to corn flakes but made from bran as opposed to these) can be substituted for bran sticks, or oat bran. I have used wheat bran flakes such as you would use in bran muffins but prefer the other type of bran flakes (like you find in Sultana Bran Cereal). I have linked through to the particular products I use, but you can use any brand you wish. The natural bran flakes I have been using (Sanitarium Fibre Life Bran Flakes) don’t appear to be available any longer (I am waiting on confirmation from Sanitarium on that) but I have found that our local Bulk Bins also sells bran flakes. These appear to be the same sort of bran flakes as used in Sultana Bran – they are much larger than the Fibre Life ones.
As for the berry syrup – I use Giffard strawberry syrup as I could by it locally. That is no longer the case so I will probably swap to a NZ made strawberry syrup such as this or a raspberry one such as this. However any berry flavoured syrup or cordial will work, blackcurrant is nice as is raspberry & rhubarb. If you haven’t any flavoured syrup, it is very easy to make (see here) or use honey or golden syrup. For the jam I use any berry flavoured jam, either mixed berry or a plain raspberry or boysenberry. I have also used plum jam and a grape jam I made that wasn’t appreciated as a toast topping. I increase this recipe by half again and it fills a 5 litre cereal container.
NB: I have received no free product or compensation for any of the products mentioned in this post.
While preparing my regular recipe for our local paper The Gisborne Herald, I went into the local shops I frequent to make sure all the ingredients were still available. A while ago I had purchased a large bottle of Giffard Strawberry Syrup and had plans to add the Peach Syrup to my pantry. However, as it often goes, products come and products go. And the Giffard range of syrups has disappeared from our local stockist which upset my muesli plans.
So what to do….. I had a search all around our fair city for another Strawberry syrup that would suffice. Other than the Barkers Fruit Syrups (in particular the Squeezed Rhubarb with Raspberry & Rosehip, which isn’t Strawberry but is a red berry fruit so was a good option in my mind), or Baker Halls & Co Fruit Syrups (I have used the Apple & Pomegranate in my homemade muesli), the next best option was the Raspberry & Boysenberry Compote from The Dollop Kitchen. It must be fairly popular compote as the shelf was empty.
Other ideas were to buy strawberry jam and heat it until liquid (I often use jam in my muesli as it is a great way to use up jam flavours that the kids haven’t appreciated); use a icecream topping such as Delmaine Strawberry Topping or try to track down some Milkshake Syrup (such as Supreme or Six Barrel Soda Co. – the later requiring a trip to Napier or Havelock North). I could order online but I needed it, like, yesterday and I also wanted something available locally. On another note, the Raspberry & Lemon or Cherry & Pomegranate from Six Barrel Soda Co. both sound really good, maybe I’ll order some anyway).
The only other option was to make some strawberry syrup. I make fruit syrups regularly as they are easy and use three ingredients: fruit, sugar, water. So here is my strawberry syrup recipe (the muesli recipe is coming in the next few posts). I have used frozen strawberries as NZ-grown frozen strawberries were preferable to tasteless imported fresh strawberries. This coming summer I will make sure I freeze plenty of strawberries so I can whip up this syrup. I thought about adding a vanilla pod, or some black pepper. Both are well suited to strawberries but I decided in this instance to stay with simple strawberry. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The syrup can be used in many ways – not just in muesli. Put a tablespoon in a glass and top up with cold milk for a strawberry milk drink, or add some vanilla icecream and use the blender to make a strawberry milk shake. We use it to flavour our natural unsweetened yoghurt and serve with muesli for breakfast. It is also nice with vanilla ice-cream.