From cooking

Slavski kolač, dino style

Damjan’s family celebrates St George as their Slava (Patron Saint Day) on November 16.  This year, Mira taught us how to make Slavski kolač, the special Slava bread with its own Facebook page.

The bread is highly decorated, and in our case, slightly sweet and lemony.

Beginning the Slavski kolač

Mira used her Kitchen Aid to make dough, which we form into balls.

Dough rises

We let the dough rise and it joins into the base of the Slavski kolač. Damjan coats it with egg.

Slavski kolač decorations

Slavski kolač is traditionally decorated with doves, sheaves of wheat, grape bunches, barrels, flowers and religious symbols.

Dinosaur figure for the Slavski kolač

We are keen to add our own embellishments. Damjan is shaping a dinosaur here.

Dinosaur figure for the Slavski kolač

Damjan goes to the effort of giving the dinosaur eyes.

Completed! Slavski kolač

Here is the Slavski kolač, all baked. The decorations are white because they aren’t coated in egg the way the base is. See the large white lump at the bottom of the photo? Unfortunately, our dinosaur slipped into the edge of the baking dish and became unrecognisably fossilised.

Breaking of bread

The traditional way of breaking the bread seems to be a tug-of-war.

 

Okara: waste into food

We bought a soy milk machine some months ago.

Joyoung soy milk maker

Joyoung soy milk maker

In 22 minutes, it pulverises and heats a small cup of soy beans into a litre of soy milk.

Fresh soy milk from the soy milk machine

Fresh soy milk from the soy milk machine

I then add 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup to sweeten it. It doesn’t taste like the soy milk you buy from supermarkets, as it doesn’t have malt. It’s more like Asian soy milk but I don’t make it as sweet as that.

Add honey to soy milk

Add honey to soy milk

For a long time, Damjan and I wondered what to do with the leftover soy bean solids. It felt like we were throwing out a lot of it. After some focused Googling, we discovered that soy pulp is called okara. It is in fact highly nutritious with protein and fibre.

The first time we reused it, we made an lemon cake of almond meal and okara.

Lemon, almond and okara cake

Lemon, almond and okara cake

We’ve now added to our okara repertoire vegetarian burger patties, knedle soup (vegetable soup with dumplings made of flour and okara) and bread with okara filling.

Sometimes, though, we can’t keep up with all the okara that I generate with the soy milk machine. So a few weeks ago, we bought a bokashi bin, which is a little composting bin that we can keep in our apartment.

Home composting using the Bokashi system

Home composting using the Bokashi system

We started it off on banana peels, but now it takes three quarters of our waste — egg shells, tissues, fruit and vegetable peels, corn cobs and okara.

The start of our Bokashi bin

The start of our Bokashi bin

We’re halfway through our first binful and, as promised, there are no smells from the bin. We’ve barely had to empty our normal kitchen bin in the past two weeks.

Bokashi bin, halfway full

Bokashi bin, halfway full

If you have a garden and would like some nourishing compost, drop me a line.

Plumbum

From Wikipedia:

‘Lead’s symbol Pb is an abbreviation of its Latin name plumbum for soft metals; the English words “plumbing”, “plumber”, “plumb”, and “plumb-bob” also derive from this Latin root.’

Plumbum

Plumbum

Silverbeet sarma

Sarma is an Ottoman Empire dish where leaves are stuffed with tasty fillings like mince and rice. The version I like best uses pickled cabbage for wrapping. There are all kinds of variations in Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Wikipedia says:

Minced meat (usually beef, pork, veal, or a combination thereof, but also lamb, goat, sausage and various bird meat such as duck and goose), rice, onions, and various spices, including salt, pepper and various local herbs are mixed together and then rolled into large plant leaves, which may be cabbage (fresh or pickled), chard, sorrel, vine leaf (fresh or pickled) or broadleaf plantain leaves.

Silverbeets have been in season so we decided to try out a vegetarian sarma of fresh silverbeet stuffed with rice, silverbeet, dill, onion, garlic and capsicum. It was tasty, healthy and colourful.

Silverbeet stuffed with rice and peppers

Silverbeet stuffed with rice and peppers


Close up of a 'sarma'

Close up of a 'sarma'

A surprising risotto

For one of our dinner parties, Damjan made a lamb roast. At the end of the evening, he stopped one of our helpful guests from cleaning out the oven tray.

‘Don’t throw out the juices,’ Damjan said. ‘That’s the best bit.’ He poured the oily liquid into a container, which then went into the fridge.

A few days later, we took the container out and lifted out the congealed disc of fat at the top.

A disc of lamb fat

A disc of lamb fat

This left us with two or three cups of beautifully lean and potent lamb stock for a risotto.
Zucchini, mushroom and kaffir lime risotto

Zucchini, mushroom and kaffir lime risotto

The risotto was bursting with flavour. We had a couple of kaffir lime leaves left over from a Thai pumpkin curry stew and we threw that in with zucchini and mushroom. So yummy.

Vegie harvesting day

Last year, Damjan and others helped Megan and Brad establish their vegetable garden. I was in the UK so missed out on the day of labour. Of course, I was very happy to be around for the the follow up ‘vegie harvesting day’, especially as it was also a ‘cook up a vegie storm and serve it to friends day’.

Brad and Damjan foraging in the vegie patch

Brad and Damjan foraging in the vegie patch


Megan washing carrots

Megan washing carrots


Home grown carrots

Home grown carrots


Kohlrabi, which is yummy

Kohlrabi, which is yummy

Using plums already picked from one of their trees, Megan and Brad were going to bake a pie for dessert. However, Brad accidentally dropped the box of stewed plums and it splattered everywhere. To me, it looked exactly like blood.
Plum splatters in the kitchen

Plum splatters in the kitchen


Getting rid of the evidence

Getting rid of the evidence

Do you like ducks?

It was 5:30pm on Friday and most people had left the office. I was packing up when George came up to my desk.

In a hushed tone he asked, ‘Joan, do you like ducks?’

‘Um, yesss.’ Ducks, I guess they’re cute.

‘What about duck heads and duck wings?’

I thought, ‘I like the whole duck, really. Hmm, I’m confused.’

George continued. ‘I have some, you know. Duck necks, heads and wings. Would you like some? I go to this Chinese restaurant for lunch sometimes and the owners, they know me now. They gave me extra duck necks and wings. At first I was very happy but now I have had too much. Would you like them?’

‘Oh. Yes, I think so,’ I said. Cooking duck would be like cooking chicken, right?

‘Good, good. It’s in the freezer, I’ll show you now.’

I follow after George as he says, ‘It’s easy, do you know 红烧 (hóng shāo)? You can just put it in a pot, cook it with soy sauce…’

New kitchen, old recipes

Our first cooked meal in the new home was pasta with mushroom, zucchini and tomato sauce. This is from our classic student repertoire. Our second cooked meal was a mushroom omelette, also from the same ‘recipe book’.

I am pleased to say that we are progressing slightly beyond student now. We had a dinner party two weeks ago (three mushroom risotto with truffle oil, rhubarb crumble with vanilla yoghurt).

This week we cooked fried rice.

Fried rice in the style of Joan's mum

Fried rice in the style of Joan's mum

I also got to take my onion goggles for a spin.

Onion goggles in the kitchen (obviously posed, as I'm chopping parsley)

Onion goggles in the kitchen (obviously posed, as I'm chopping parsley)

Next on my kitchen gadget list, a Garlic Zoom.

Birthday treats

On my birthday last month, we moved into our new home. It was the best birthday present I could ask for (and I did). I was away in the UK for 10 days in the lead up to my birthday, and boy did Damjan pull out the stops to get the flat ready. He finished off the renovations, bought furnishings, connected us to the internet, cleaned and cleaned (thanks to Jana too).

I didn’t need any other birthday treat… but look what showed up!

Gingerbread presents

Gingerbread presents

Remember Dippy?

Dippy the dinosaur

Dippy the dinosaur

Well, I got used to biting off his head in order to euthanise him before devouring the rest of his gingerbread body.

Gingerbread Dippies

Gingerbread Dippies