Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Best Ever Fluffy Bread Rolls Recipe

I have longed for a recipe to make soft bread rolls and so far haven't come across it until last week.  Home made bread is great but I just couldn't get a recipe for those nice soft on the inside bread rolls that resembles bakery bread.  I can make the NYT "No Knead" bread but that's a totally different texture which I love making to serve with dips.  If you've ever bought a bread roll from Bakers Delight called a "Bap Roll" I have found a recipe like that.  A crusty top, but not hard as in crunchy to break your teeth and then it's soft on the inside.  Like most bread you have to work your time backwards from when you would like to eat it.  Allow 2.5 hours for this recipe.

 Dough after 1st rise for 1 hour.

This dough needed an hour to prove, then once you shape the dough into your rolls they will need a 2nd rise for 45 minutes and then 20-25 minutes or so in the oven.  I would allow 2.5 hours before you want to eat them to start your recipe.  This is a Thermomix recipe however Beth from Baby Mac blog made these without a Thermomix which you can read about in this post.   The recipe is via Beth's blog and here's the direct link.

  • 310 gms water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 510 gms plain flour (I used bread flour)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 30gms olive oil 
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of bread improver

  1. Heat the water to 37 degrees (2 minutes on speed 1).
  2. Place all other ingredients in the heated water in the order listed above.
  3. Mix for 10 seconds, speed 6 until just combined.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
  5. Knead on dough setting for 6 minutes (or if doing by hand for 12 minutes).
  6. Turn out dough into a large oiled glass bowl and cover with glad wrap.
  7. Leave to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.
  8. After 1 hour, punch down and roll onto a floured surface.
  9. Shape into whatever is required (ie rolls, loaf, scrolls etc).
  10. Cover with tea towel and leave for at least 45 minutes for the 2nd rise.
  11. Turn oven on to "moderate" to heat up while the rolls are doing their 2nd rise.
  12. Bake in moderate oven until brown (mine took 20-25 mins)

Above...rolls on their 2nd rise.

Some notes for you...even though I used bread flour I still used the bread improver as I wanted to make the recipe as close to the original as possible.  I just bought a little box of bread improver from Woolworths next to the yeast.  I store my yeast and bread improver in the freezer to keep it fresh.  

OMG these are the BEST rolls we have made and the kids LOVED LOVED LOVED them.  Next time I will try and make the rolls the same size and a bit bigger.  I stored the extra rolls in a tupperware container on the bench and tonight (ie the next day 24 hours later) these rolls were still as soft and fluffy and didn't taste like day old home made bread.  So I highly recommend you give these a go and I would be keen to make a loaf of bread as well to see how that goes but the rolls are the winner that's for sure.  We had our rolls with homemade minestone soup and it was delicious...I would't get a job as a food stylist with my photo of our dinner however you get the idea and we were pretty happy eating our lovely dinner.

Fantastic home made fluffy soft on the inside bread rolls.

Home made minestrone soup and bread rolls.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Book Review - Simple Living Stories

I'm not a big reader of novels however I do every now and then love reading books about people who like to live simply.  One of the books that I had wanted to read for a while was "The Dirty Life" by Kisten Kimball.  You may recognize the book from a different cover, with a rustic red shed with Kristin holding a chicken in front of it.  I find that cover more inviting than the one below however I still wanted to read it.  It's about Kristin Kimball a then Manhattan writer arrives at an organic farm to interview Mark and finds herself falling for him and his ideas.  It is not always rosy and as you know farm work is hard work, not the "simple life" but a good life.  They had a lot to contend with on the land and I was exhausting just reading it sometimes from all the hard work however I loved reading this which I borrowed from our local library.

The next book which I have read is a very quick read as each chapter has a few pages of recipes so the reading doesn't take quite that long.  Called "The Feast Nearby" about Robin Mather who wrote a story about "How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week).

Joel Salatin founder of Polyface Farm, author of "You Can Farm" writes about this book:-

"Can local food work?  How does it work?  Can my kitchen really be economically viable?  The Feast Nearby lovingly and practically illustrates how localization works.  Robin Mather opens her heart - indeed, bares her soul - in this captivating journey that affirms everything doable and beautiful about living and eating locally.  Everyone should read this book.

I loved the cover of this book as it's so appealing with the gumboots, the carrotts, the apron and the rustic wood.  I did think there would be a little more about the "story" and I thought she would have a big veggie garden.  As her place was in the shade she only grew herbs and had chickens and sourced other ingredients locally and met people and spoke about that.  It documents a year of her new life after the marriage and job loss.  I really did love how she went back to basics and was happier than she had been before connecting with local people their stories, food and preserving and canning for winter.  I really enjoyed this book and I read it in a day.  Our library didn't have it and when I enquired if they could order it in, it wasn't at their particular suppliers so I had to buy this one myself.  You may have more luck with your library but get this one as it's lovely.  Coming from Brisbane, Queensland I can't relate to being snowed in for days and our local shops are less than 5 mins away but forward planning in places were it snows definitely pays off.

If you remember I wrote ages ago about one of my other favourite simple living books about an Australian journalist living the high life comes back to Tasmania and settles in an old "Nun's house" and grows veggies...this one the library did have and suggest if you haven't read it get it out.  I loved loved this story.  It's called "The Story of Seven Summers".

I have just ordered "The Simple Home" which is Rhonda Hetzel's from Down to Earth Blog's latest and last book which looks great.  It has step by step instructions in this book on break making and other recipes.  I loved her other two books as well the first being "Down to Earth" and the 2nd one which was a tiny book called "The Simple Life" both very good reads.  She's in the middle of her book tour at the moment with her husband Hanno.  I'm hoping my book arrives before Easter so I can stay in bed with a cuppa and read it from cover to cover in the mornings.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Zucchini Slice Recipe

Both my kids love Zucchini Slice (or pie as some like to call it) and I've been making the same recipe since I was about 20.  In the last year I found a new recipe which I like even better as it makes more of a firm slice than the other one.  Currently it's in the oven baking now...yum.  I also cut up the left overs for school lunches and they both love eating it cold.  I think last time I put some mixture in the mini muffin pan which makes little bit sized snacks.  These would require less cooking time in the oven.  They are easy to freeze and then I can just pop them in the kids lunch boxes on any school day.  Here is the link to the recipe on Taste if you want to print it out, however I'll write it out here for future reference.  It's also a good one if you have an over supply of eggs as it takes 5 eggs.  I actually had to buy half a dozen eggs today for the first time in a couple of years to make this recipe as we only have one chicken laying at the moment and Sienna is cooking herself an egg for breakfast in the mornings.

  • 5 eggs 
  • 150gms (1 cup) self-raising flour sifted
  • 375 gms zucchini grated (squeeze out excess water)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (I grated this as well)
  • 200gms rindless bacon, chopped (you could also use ham which I have done sometimes)
  • 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • Preheat oven to 170C degrees (fan force decrease by 10 degrees)
  • Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined.
  • Add the flour and beat until smooth.
  • Then add zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and oil and stir to combine.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. 
Serve with salad or vegetables......it does take a bit of work to grate your zucchini and cheese and get this in the oven however it's worth it.  I start making this about one hour before I want to serve it.

The ingredients in the tin ready to go into the oven.  I chopped up some spring onions to go on top and also pepper however you can use dried herbs like oregano too.

Here are some pictures of it before going into the oven and after baking.  I'll give you one tip that you will LOVE from Jamie Oliver on using baking paper (parchment paper) and that is get your piece the size you need for your tin and scrunch it up into a ball and wet it under the tap. Then open it out and shake off the excess water and you will be able to pop the paper into your pan and it will sit there nicely so you can pour in your mixture.  There is nothing worse when you have a big bowl in one hand, the spatula in the other and trying to manage to pour the mixture in only to have the baking paper (parchment paper) move.  I do this when I'm making Chocolate Slice etc anything that I'm baking that needs to go in a tin up to the sides.  Trust me, it will be life changing for your baking.  I don't do this when I'm lining a large flat tray to cook biscuits on, only when I need to "pour" a mixture into a tin like the above.  Seriously give this a go next time you make a slice and you'll thank me..well thank Jamie Oliver anyway.

Monday, March 14, 2016

School Lunches - Pizza Scrolls

This is week 8 of Term 1 and thought I would mix things up with the school lunches this week.  James takes a ham sandwich everyday and Sienna takes cold pasta with tomato sauce on it.  Sienna loves sandwiches on a weekend at home when it's made fresh but doesn't like sandwiches for school.  James just wants ham however I know they both love these pizza scrolls so yesterday I made a batch for them for school lunch this week.  I last made these in September last year and you wonder why it takes so long to do something so easy.

I really need to make these every other week and they are really cheap to make.  I ended up making small ones this time by cutting my roll into two however last time I just rolled the whole thing and made them bigger, it's up to you.

I made a pizza dough recipe, let it prove and then rolled the dough really flat.  I sprinkled flour onto the bench first and then rolled it flat and spread out the tomato sauce that we made last week followed by some chopped up ham, cheese and some dried oregano.  Once they are cooked I cool them down and then pop them in a container in the freezer and take them out each day.  If you haven't made them before I highly recommend you make them.  My kids eat them cold at school however you could heat them up in the microwave for 15-20 seconds for afternoon tea and would be great during the colder months for an after school snack.  You could put any topping on them including Vegemite and cheese, bacon, even left over bolognese would be nice.

Making the pizza dough.

Roll the dough out on the bench, sprinkle with flour first.

Spread lightly with tomato sauce or BBQ sauce.

Add the chopped up ham.

Top with grated cheese.

Sprinkle with herbs.  If I had spring onions I would have used this however I used dried Oregano.

 Cook in the oven on 200 degrees for 10-15 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack.  Delicious.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Baking in the Country

It has been a long time since my friend Karin and I did a "Baking in the Country" day together and in fact it was May last year which I wrote about in this post.  This was mainly because Karin's house was undergoing renovations and now has a wonderful new kitchen to cook in which we were excited to use.  We did a preserving course back in December 2013 together which was great.

I have been wanting to try  Jo's "Tomato Sauce" recipe from A Country Life Experiment blog for a long time so today we made this, enjoyed a coffee, had lunch and chatted which was great.  The recipe is really simple and it tastes amazing and can easily be used as a Pasta Sauce.  I can't wait for my kids to try this as it's nice and spicy due to the curry powder and I think it will be a big hit in our family.  My simple living skills have gone by the wayside lately as my veggie garden is full of weeds so just looking up simple living ideas this morning has got me all inspired again.  I need to start experimenting with new recipes and cooking up some old recipes.  Here's a link to a post I did a while back which had a list of recipes in one place on my blog and here's some pictures from our day.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Savings Tips

There are a few things you can do to save those extra $$ and I thought I would put them in a post.

One that I have been using for a little while is to "save your $5 notes".  Recently I ended up with $90 in my little "$5 savings envelope" so I paid the kids their $12 and $10 monthly pocket money, donated $5 for Leukemia foundation and paid the rest on my credit card reduce my balance.  When you see a $5 note in your wallet take it out and pop it in an envelope and before you know it you'll have quite a little collection that you can do something with.  Think Christmas presents for the end of the year, a special school holiday day out or putting it towards your credit card, home loan or a holiday spending money.  If you use your debit card and don't have a lot of cash in your wallet this may not work for you however I love using cash as it's more real how much you have in your wallet than mindlessly using your debit card.  Just think "never spend another $5 note again if you can help it".  This is one trick I would love to pass on to my kids too.  It's small enough to not notice but big enough if you do it 4 times you end up with $20.  I love this little savings tip.

Another one is the "52 Week Money Challenge"....I have tried this a couple of times however it didn't really work for me because the weekly amounts towards the end of the year are significant.  I did however try to just cross off a week (not in order) if I had more money one week than the next however for me "saving $5" is easier.  I do love this concept and totally think Christmas time is the time when you need more funds and this is a good way to do it if you start in January.  You can start anytime, say a year before you go away on holidays to have extra funds etc.

The largest debt usually is a person's mortgage and there are ways to save here too.  Paying fortnightly payments instead of monthly, paying off even an extra $10-$15 over the life time of the loan (usually 20-25 years) makes a huge difference.  Instead of getting a "line of credit" loan which effectively wants you to get all your salary into the loan and then use your credit card during the month and then "redraw" to pay your credit card off each month.  The theory behind this is that you use the "interest free days" on your credit card while your salary/cash is reducing your overall mortgage and then the interest will be based on a lower figure than your true mortgage.  Here's an article on mortgages etc. 

One thing that I know you can save/make money on and that is "ringing all your suppliers" every year to get a better deal/price or the same price with more benefits.  They will not be ringing you to offer you a better deal or a cheaper price.  They will be however offering better deals to win new customers to their company.  You MUST ring them and ask them "can you do a better deal" and you will be surprised at what you can get in a 25 cent phone call.  I know the thought of this is painful however I can assure you, it will be worth your while.  Know what's on offer so you can either stay with them or move to a new company.  They will want to keep you and if they don't, then switch suppliers.  These days there is no such thing as "loyalty" to suppliers as their is such a variety out there and you need to do your homework and you could save yourself even $10 a month on one bill then that's $120 a year.  If you earn $25 per hour in your job you have just saved yourself nearly 5 hours of work for one phone call.  I encourage you to get your bills altogether and sit down and make call after call.  You will have to set time aside as you may be on hold for a while before you get through depending upon who you call but it will be worth the exercise.  I wrote a bit about it here.

One big thing that I have been doing for a year now is decluttering and selling things I no longer want, need or use.  There is nothing new in this and years ago I used to use Ebay however I tried to say "local pickup" because by the time you add postage to items it doesn't make it a cheap item and whenever I did this people would still ask if I could post items.  Things that I could sell 12 years ago nothing was selling.  My sister put me onto our "local buy, sell" Facebook page and I've haven't looked back.  I love it because the people wanting the item live in your local area so they just pop over that day or the next day to collect it and you have $$ in your pocket and more items leaving your house.  You'd be amazed just what you can sell.  People sell spare bits of timber, pot plants, craft supplies, kitchen items, clothing anything you don't want around the place sell it.  This way of selling has been huge for me in the last 12 months and has helped to pay for lots of regular bills.  I was never on Facebook and was someone who wasn't interested in it however I had to join so I could sell my items and this way of decluttering and putting cash in your pocket has been so easy and I highly recommend this method of getting extra cash.

You can get a jar and save your "gold coins" or your 50 cent pieces as 2 of them equal $1 and can add up pretty quickly.  Start with something you think you can stick to or at least try and you will be surprised how quickly these small amounts add up to something.  I hope this has been helpful.