Slowly but Shortly, I’m back!

So my ‘short break’ was a 2 year hiatus.

A lot has happened in 2 years!

I popped out my second daughter who is now a walking talking little person in her own right, and as our family has expanded, I found myself busier than ever. If I’m not working my full time job, I’m a full time mother. There has been a lot of new recipes trialled and tested on the family and I can’t wait to share them all with you.

Slowly but shortly.

Bear with me and stay with me dear readers, for there is a journey ahead. A Woggy one, full of great food, that may give you garlic breath and parsley teeth, but boy oh boy will it taste extraordinary.

Much love,

Lisa

2016-03-02 00.44.00

My girls!

In My Kitchen – March 2014…and an explanation

This morning I woke up excited at the prospect of blogging again. Hooray, I was going to get in on the first day of Autumn and submit my first blog post in over 6 weeks.

Then I checked the date. The 4th Of March. Oops.

Not sure how, but I convinced myself that today was the 1st. Maybe it’s because it was a short February. Maybe it’s because when you’re at home with a child all day every day you forget what day of the week it is let alone the actual date.

So I owe you all an explanation. You, my fellow loyal readers, and you, my fellow gorgeous blogging friends who I enjoyed frequenting your blogs on a daily basis and lately haven’t been able to do so.

Actually, I’ll tell you what’s in my kitchen this month first, then the explanation.

The In My Kitchen series is all brought to you by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, a collection of posts from around the world, and a sticky beak into the bloggers kitchen that month. So without further ado,

In my Kitchen: Are pickled Armenian Cucumbers.

armenian cucumber pickles

Armenian Cucumbers are often labelled ‘wild cucumbers’ and have rippled or ribbed textured skin and are deliciously crunchy. I buy it from my local Middle Eastern deli. These pickles are a  wonderful compliment to any meal.

In My Kitchen: Is Indulge Coffee Mocha Ice Cream from Aldi’s.

aldi's coffee mocha indulge ice cream

This would have to be my ultimate indulgence at the moment. The coffee flavour is absolutely gorgeous and actually quite strong like you were sipping on a double espresso. Throughout the ice-cream are large chunks of bitter dark chocolate. My local Aldi’s brings it in weekly and you have to get in quick, it disappears off the shelves in a flash.

In My Kitchen: is Ginger beer.

ginger beer

I got hooked onto ginger beer on the South Pacific cruise we recently travelled on. Ginger is a great way to curb sea sickness or nausea and God knows just how sick I was this time around. We’ve been back a few weeks now but I’ve become accustomed to the taste and my fridge is now nicely stocked with this non alcoholic beverage.

So…..

Pickles, ice-cream and ginger beer….

Have you guessed it?

In My Kitchen: A bun in the oven…

bun in oven

I’m beyond elated to advise we’re expecting our second bubba on the second day of Spring!

Which brings me to explain and apologise to you all.

I apologise for the lack of posting. The truth is I’ve been so lethargic and nauseous this time around, I’d feel like a fraud speaking about food if even the thought of it started to make me gag. I’m 14 weeks along and the nausea has only just started to get better. It was the opposite with my daughter, I had a very easy and problem free pregnancy with her and this around it has been so different. We have been eating out a lot because handling slimy chicken or meat, and then cooking it has made me sick. The smell has made me sick. I’m only just starting to get any thing close to an appetite back and hope that things improve from here.

The 2 weeks on the cruise ship was interesting to say the least. Try combining sea sickness (rough seas leaving and returning to Sydney) with morning sickness when every step you take is some sort of restaurant on a cruise ship. It’s like food is literally thrown in your face on-board. Relax, eat! Relax, eat! Have fun, drink then EAT! Food, food glorious food everywhere you turn but not so fun when you’re feeling green.

The other fun unknown fact about pregnancy is that it makes your eyes dry and often blurry. I haven’t been able to sit at a computer for longer than an half an hour at a time because it makes my eyes hurt. I refuse to take eye drops because during pregnancy something happens to me that my husband refers to as ‘anally retentive’. I refuse all sorts of drugs, paracetamol, antibiotics and in this case eye drops. My theory is ‘just in case’ and regardless of what any doctor or study says that conclude it safe, I just cant bring myself to do it.

So there you go folks. I hope to be back in full spirit and mode soon! I also look forward to sharing this experience with you (the good parts!)

xx

 

 

 

In My Kitchen – January 2014

Happy New Year to all my wonderful readers!

I vowed to keep the laptop switched off over the silly season and just enjoy myself, the company of my family and friends, do some gardening and enjoy the outdoors, so apologies for the blogging absence. I so look forward to sharing my delicious recipes and wacky stories throughout 2014 with you. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

So without further ado, I start the New Year with a new addition to the In My Kitchen series, a collection of bloggers around Australia and the world who give you a sneak peak to the contents of their kitchens. It’s all thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In My Kitchen: Was a Christmas Day feast.

ff

ffd

fffd

We had the family over to our house on the 25th and it was wonderful to sit back, devour good food, and listen to carols in the presence of some truly wonderful people.

The plan was to have a nice BBQ outdoors, but Mother Nature thought over wise drizzling us with rain throughout the day. A hot buffet was planned instead at the last minute.

The menu was one big delicious mismatch! There was Dolma (rice and meat wrapped vine leaves), fried rice, lasagne, chicken wings, kale tabouli, garden salad, and a ‘sausage roll wreath’ inspired by Lorraine at ‘Not Quite Nigella’.

Needless to say the sausage roll wreath was the highlight of the day and I’m quite impressed with how nicely it came out!

sausage roll wreath

In My Kitchen: Blue Eye

blue eye mask evil

I don’t really believe it voodoo, but hey, what’s a Wog house without a ‘Blue Eye’ to fend off the evil thoughts of others. In Armenian, we have a saying ‘Atchket kaknem’ which literally translates to ‘I will shit on your eye’. It means if you ever have a negative thing to say about me or my family, the Blue Eye will protect us from your jealousy/negative thoughts. Hysterical!

In My Kitchen: There is Cognac. Lots of it!

landy cognac xo

My husband is a ‘Cognac and cigar’ kind of guy. He loves his cognac collection and it grows every year. The Landy bottle with the dog on top was my Wedding present to him 7 years ago.

And there you go, the 1st IMK post for 2014, Short and Sweet. For a recap of my 2013 kitchen contents, please take a moment to view my previous posts.

Pallet Vegetable Gardens by the handy husband…

making pallet vegetable veggie patch

Bless my husband. He’s a real mans man. The type that’s too proud to call for help, the ‘I’ll do it myself’ type of guy.

He’s a horticulturist and landscaper by trade and when required can be a plumber, electrician, a carpenter, a real jack of all trades.

When I told my husband that I sowed too many tomato seeds (36 popped up!) he said that it was ok, and he’d build me more garden beds. Isn’t he just the best?!

I reminded him about our savings, or lack of and he said it’d be ok he’ll build it for free. Bless him! We didn’t have any bricks left like the second garden bed he made. This one would be made from pallets.

pallets

pallets

Pallets are a fabulous way of recycling wood, are commonly free (just ask your local landscaping supply shop, nursery or even greengrocer)

All pallets, by law, are required to have stamps. Most are heat treated however some are chemically treated making them unsuitable for growing fruit and vegetables. Be sure to look for the HT stamp, confirming the pallets are indeed Heat Treated.

pallet stamps indicating the wood is heat or chemically treated

The husband made one, and I ooh’d and aahh’d at how crafty he was.

This motivated him to make a second.

Don’t you just love the ‘socks and thongs’ look? Bloody Wog!!

Don’t you just love the ‘socks and thongs’ look? Bloody Wog!!

Then a third.

making pallet vegetable veggie patch

And next thing we know, there are four planter boxes!

All in a few hours work, and free!

making pallet vegetable veggie patch

To ensure they last throughout the years, a couple of coats of pure Linseed Oil were applied, both sealing them and bring out the beautiful natural colours of the wood.

My husband’s motto is ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life’ and sure enough it thrills me to see these complete. I’ve been marvelling his handiness every time I go to the backyard.

I better sow some more tomato seeds!

In My Kitchen – July 2013

Can you believe we’ve now passed halfway though 2013?! Christmas is just around the corner! Time flies when you’re having fun.

Here’s a sticky beak into my kitchen this month, thanks to the IMK series, hosted by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

In My Kitchen: is Dads home made Bastourma

Armenian Bastourma

Bastourma, or often spelt Basturma or Pastirma, but not to be confused with Pastrami, is a mouth watering Armenian air dried beef, seasoned with chaman, a spice mix of fenugreek, cumin, garlic, smoky paprika and chili and left to cure for 3-4 weeks. It can be served raw or cooked in a bit of oil/butter and served with eggs as a popular breakfast dish.

Armenian Bastourma

My Dad’s been making Bastourma for as early as I can remember. We’d go and buy a few kilo’s of good quality rump, unsliced and he would spend a good chunk of his day sitting on the kitchen table, dividing the rump into smaller portions and cutting off excess fat. Now the next part of this story will probably turn some people off; he would get the rump portions, and wrap them in a clean cloth, place them between two thick layers of wood, pop them on the driveway and hop into the car. He’d then drive up and down the wood, to squeeze all the blood out of the raw rump. Writing this up today makes me laugh at how many people are going to get squeamish at this.

I can assure you, the wooden planks are clean and sanitized, and the meat only touches the cloth, and the tires of the car never make contact with the raw beef.

The raw beef portions are then left to hang for 2 weeks, in the fridge during warmer months, or outdoors in a custom made box with some fly screen stapled on to keep away the critters.

Once the beef is dry, the chemen spice mix recipe is made and basted over the rump and then it is returned to the box/fridge to dry some more.

The end result is a delicacy, unlike any other delicatessen meat on the market, unique in every way. The flavour can’t be expressed, it really must be tried!! It’s hard to find, but many Italian deli’s will have it if you ask, pretty much all Middle Eastern specialty stores sell a pre vacuumed version for between $45 and $60 a kilogram.

In My Kitchen this month is a jar of Armenian Sweet Eggplant Preserve

Noyan Eggplant preserve

It’s not often you find a product made in Armenia, so I squealed in delight when I saw the Noyan sweet eggplant preserve at Village Grocer Balgowlah over the weekend. Small baby eggplants are cooked and infused in the most delicious fresh vanilla bean syrup, the taste is really something out of this world. Biting into the baby eggplants, they take on a crunchy, almost water chestnut texture and you can only have one at a time, they are so sickly sweet and delicious! The small jar is $8.00 and only contains 5 eggplant pieces but we keep all the syrup too and use it over vanilla ice-cream so nothing is wasted and well worth the money spent. YUMMO!

In My Kitchen this month is a jar of Armenian Sweet Eggplant Preserve

In My Kitchen: Are these colourful little glass jars.

P1010092

These were my wedding bomboniere when I got married back in 2007. I wrapped ribbon around the base and attached 5 sugared almonds in tulle with a little thank you card for all our guests. Somehow I ended up with a box of 20 left over (I blame Mr. Gourmet Wog for this) so I’ve been putting these gorgeous colourful jars to use, serving dips or sauces in them with carrot sticks or lavosh.

P1010089

In My Kitchen: Is this humungous stunning single peach rose, from my beautiful friend Tiffany’s garden.

huge orange peach rose

I don’t know what type it is, but I do know I’ve never seen any rose so big! It’s bigger than my hand, see?! It’s been in the vase and continues to open its petals – 9 days and counting!

Edited to Add: The rose is ‘Just Joey’. Stunning.

IMG00967-20130620-0813

And there you have another edition of In My Kitchen this year. My previous IMK posts can be found here.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Do you have any food quirks or traditions?

I do! I cannot make rice without eating a little tea cup saucer full of crunchy buttery fried vermicelli grains. Yes, I’m strange.

 It’s one of my earliest food memories and takes me back to being 8 years old when my grandmother came from overseas to live with us for a few months. She would often make Vermicelli Basmati rice and would sneak a little saucer of the Vermicelli rice to me, sprinkle salt on top and we’d eat the crunchy grains with our fingers, giggling like crazy. It was our naughty little secret.

 My Grandmother passed away not too long after that but this memory lives on. Now, when I’m making rice as a side dish to a stew, I have put some Vermicelli aside and hide in the laundry while I eat it. I don’t know why I hide, my husband is well aware of my crunchy rice eating habit, but eating my little saucer of rice in secret takes me back to being the giggly 8 year old with my Grandmother standing next to me, sharing the love.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

  • ½ cup of Vermicelli/Filini pasta
  • 1 Cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Wash your Basmati rice in a colander until the water runs clear, removing all the starch from the rice. Be sure to use your hands to massage the grains under the tap. You will find that this removes even more starch.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Raw Vermicelli with Butter

Brown the Vermicelli till golden brown

Brown the Vermicelli till golden brown

In a saucepan, add the butter and Vermicelli and pan fry it on high until the Vermicelli is a lovely shade of golden brown. Be sure to keep stirring, the browning will happen very quickly and can burn very easily.

(This is the part where my grandmother and I would take a tablespoon of the fried Vermicelli, add it to a tiny saucer and sprinkle it with some sea salt and eat it gloriously crunchy)

IMG00928-20130522-1831

Add the washed Basmati rice to the fried Vermicelli, add a teaspoon of salt and add the hot water to the saucepan. Cover and reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature to cook the rice until soft and done.

I find that sometimes I may need some more water, if the grains are still not quite cooked, add some more hot water from the jug, close the lid and turn off the heat. The remaining steam in the pot should cook the rice.

Enjoy the fluffy and buttery rice as a side dish to any meal.

Vermicelli Basmati Rice

Sprung eating the crunchy buttery and salty Vermicelli. Uh-Oh!

Sprung eating the crunchy buttery and salty Vermicelli. Uh-Oh!

Sweet Pumpkin & Syrup Dessert with Crushed Walnuts

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Me: “Oh gosh I’m stuffed, I ate too much”

Hubby/Sister/Brother/Mum/Dad: “Me too!! Why didn’t you stop when you were full?”

Me: “Because it tasted so good, I kept going back for more”

This is a common conversation between the family following each meal at my parents house. My mum is known for cooking for an army. It’s the Wog thing to do! What should be a simple dinner for the 7 of us when we’re altogether every Wednesday night usually involves a spread fit for a King, lavish by all means with servings that could easily feed 20.

Loosening of belts and buttons is a common occurence. So is the following conversation:

Me: “I don’t think I could fit another ounce of food in my mouth”

My sister: “Oh maybe something sweet though in about half an hour?”

Me: “Oh gosh no, are you serious? I’m stuffed!!”

10 seconds of consideration later:

Me: “hmmmm maybe just a little something sweet!!” 

And so we raid the fridge and freezer. Belly’s singing, sweet tooth’s crying out for attention.

My Mum’s pretty good at whipping up a dessert within a short time span using whatever is on hand. My Dad on the other hand criticises us all for being a ‘Pis Boghas’ which translates from Armenian to English as ‘Dirty Appetites’ and angrily walks away.

So it came as a great surprise when my Dad entered the kitchen last week after our family dinner, pulled out a pumpkin and a packet of walnuts from the freezer (if you weren’t already aware of this, a great trick to keep your nuts fresh is storing them in the freezer) and proceeded to make us all a wonderful sweet dessert, using 3 ingredients! Pumpkin, sugar and walnuts

Babas Sweet Pumpkin with roasted walnuts

  • 2 kilograms pumpkin
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 150 grams crushed walnuts

Peel and dice the pumpkin and place it in a saucepan, cover with the sugar and cook on high covered for 25 minutes. Do not add water. The important thing here is to make sure you add the pumpkin first so it sits on the bottom of the saucepan and add the sugar on top.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

When the pumpkin has softened but is not completely mash, it will release its water that has now, combined with the sugar, turned into a syrup.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Transfer the pumpkin and syrup to a shallow baking dish and grill it on high for 10 minutes till the tips caramelise and go crispy.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

pumpkin sweet with walnuts

Serve the caramelised pumpkin along with the sugar syrup while still warm, sprinkled with crushed walnuts on top.

pumpkin sweet with walnuts