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Green lentil soup

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We've got three go-to soups ... ones that we have made countless times because they always deliver. But they are all meat based, so this original recipe is an attempt to do a simple but satisfying veg soup. It will be nothing like it, but there is some inspiration from Tiamo 's lentil soup (not on the menu anymore from what I can tell), that was a favourite. One of the advantages of this soup will be not having to cook it for as long as we do with chicken, lamb or beef based soups. Recipe will serve 4-6 depending on serving size. Equipment chopping board and knife Decent size pot Ingredients Veg leek, 1 chopped celery, 2 sticks chopped carrot, 2 diced peas, 1 cup green lentils, 300g Spices minced ginger, 1 heaped tbsp minced garlic, 1 heaped tbsp garam masala, 2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp bay leaves, x4 parsley, handful, chopped pepper and salt liquid olive oil tomatoes, 1 400g tin veg stock, 1 litre Method sauté onion, celery, carrot in oil, wit

Ballarat Salad

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A few months ago, on the spur of the moment we decided to drive to Ballarat for the day. We found ourselves at Racers Cafe for lunch and decided to try Janine's salad. I've never committed to understanding and making good salads, but this simple lunch inspired me to have a crack. Since then, I've tried a few variations on the original. Never the same because you go with the available ingredients, but the basic idea is retained. Today on the drive home from Lismore, we agreed we needed something vegetable-y for dinner, After we cycled through baked veggies and a veggie lasagna, we decided to stop in at FoodWorks in Bangalow to pick up some ingredients to make what I'll now call our Ballarat Salad. I love the textures, flavours and colours in this mixture. The halloumi adds saltiness, the beetroot and sauerkraut some acidic bite. The avo and humus offer some creaminess, the nuts and seeds some crunch and the fritters some warmth and substance. Ingredients mixed lettuce le

South India Chicken Soup

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This is a recipe from The Chicken Manifesto  and comes from the Konga Nadu area of India, which I adapted with simplified ingredients for the van. This meant using spices that I had, for example ground cumin rather than cumin seeds. I also added greens (broccoli and beans) and a dollop of yogurt to serve.  We've been in Brunswick Heads for a while, and even though it's not cold, the perpetual rain showers make it feel like soup weather. We're also cooking big pots of food to share with Johanna, Luke and Willow while they wait for a new little human to come into the world. I've been making pots of soup to fill their freezer ... Unlike most chicken soups I've cooked, this one cooks the chicken in water/stock, then adds it later to a paste flavoured broth prepared in parallel. Servings pot of soup, 4-6 people Time 2½ hours, most of that cooking time. Equipment (main) Chopping boards and knife Wooden spoon soup pot, plus saucepan for cooking chicken and rice pan for fry

Lemon tartlets

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A couple of nights on a row having diner with friends prompted a new baking endeavour: lemon tart. Many years ago I remember Brown's Bakery publishing their lemon tart recipe ... I hoped to find it online, but alas, no go. I ended up just buying shortcrust pastry (rather than making from scratch, but still spent most of the afternoon in the kitchen. I adapted this recipe . Baking is not really a van kitchen thing, and this was done at home, not in my little kitchen, but this blog is the best place to record what I did for future reference.  Recipe made 22 tartlets. Ingredients Eggs x5 plus yoke (reserve white for sealing the bottom of the tarts Super fine sugar (I blended caster sugar) 280g Lemon juice 200ml Crème fraîche 200g (icing sugar for serving) Short crust pastry x3 sheets (also used patty pans in the muffin tray and another set for blind baking) Method Beat the 5+ eggs lightly Stir in the sugar and let it sit until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally - abo

Everyday fruitcake

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I eat a lot of fruitcake. I've had a lifelong love affair with them which I unpacked in my last blog . As much as I really like the previous recipe, the ingredients are expensive and it takes a while to make. So having resorted to bought Christmas cake to get me through, I set out to develop an 'everyday' fruitcake recipe that was really good quality, but relatively simple to make.  Add to that, Maria and I are continuing our long quest to eliminate plastic packaging from food we buy ... so the extra challenge was to get the ingredients without having single use plastic with the ingredients. Rather than do more Google research I decided on a different plan. I called my dad and asked him to forage through my mum's old recipe books to see if he could find the tried and true recipe that she rolled out whenever there was a cake worthy special occasion. I was so pleased that he managed to find it, and it was a bonus to discover that she'd made a note on the bottom that s

Special fruitcake

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My mum made the best fruitcake. She was a cake decorator which meant elaborately detailed ornate wedding cakes, but also birthday cakes. There were four of us kids and when we had a birthday cake it was always iced fruitcake, so at least 4 times a year I got to eat mum's spicy fruity recipe. I remember innocently feeling genuinely sorry for other kids when I went to their birthday parties and they had 'lousy sponge cakes'. In my adult life I've always had my radar up for good fruit cakes. For many years now I get at least one Lions fruitcake at Christmas time; some occasions, including for example bush walks, are for me, impoverished without a good piece of fruitcake and a cup of tea. Apart from the 'staple' Lions fruitcake, my other go-to is YummyKitchen's Celebration Cake  which the major supermarkets stock around Christmas time. I have tried once or twice to bake my own, and have been disappointed (good cakes but not what I was aiming for) until I tried a

Couscous with greens and pan fried chicken

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We needed some thing relatively easy tonight and this turned out super good. We had some chicken thighs from Kunara Organic Butcher, and a friedge full of veggies from out trip to the farmers market yesterday. Servings 2 Time about 30 mins  Equipment Pan to make the chicken Saucepan medium size bowl knife and chopping board Ingredients oil 4x chicken thighs 2 large handfuls of chopped kale 1 small or ½ large zucchini diced 1 bunch of broccolini, chopped about 10 pitted Sicilian olives, halved  ¾ cup couscous  ¾ cup stock knob of butter pepper and salt Method Season the chicken thighs and place into a medium heat pan In the saucepan, add some oil and sauté the green veggies (except the olives). Once heated, cover so the moisture from the veggies steams them. When the veggies are almost done, throw in the olives, then, tip them into a bowl and keep aside. Turn the chicken Boil the stock in the saucepan, then turn off the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. (By n

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