Shhhhh….. Napping Happening here!


“Reading and naps, two of life’s greatest pleasures, go especially well together.” 
― Will Schwalbe

I love Boxing Day. I don’t cook a thing. We survive on the leftovers of the Christmas Feast. Which is no hardship, believe me. Leftovers! Such a magnificent word. I sometimes think the only reason I cook so much food for Christmas Day is for the days to follow where my fridge and pantry are laden with leftovers I don’t need to prepare.

Today I plan to nap. And read. Then nap some more.

Ben will listen to the cricket on his headphones as he drives around our house paddock on the ride-on mower.

Later we might swim, if it’s hot.

Or, probably, just nap some more.

I think this might be my favourite day of the year!

Wishing you some relaxation and self-care too today,

All my love, Nicole ❤ xx

Tasty Fried Rice Recipe – Easy!

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It’s that time of year. Lots of Christmas leftovers, or maybe you just don’t feel like going to any trouble in the kitchen but you still want something tasty.

Fried rice is one of my go-to comfort foods – endlessly able to be varied, and can be made to suit vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. Eat it on its own, or as a simple side.

Ingredients:

All of this will be based on guess-timation.  That’s the joy of this dish.  You work with what you have to hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and for the recipe to taste different each time you make it!

Must haves

  • cold cooked rice – at least one cup per person. Use your favourite here – brown, basmati, jasmine, white – it’s all good! (if you have only just cooked the rice, spread it out on a lightly greased tray and place in a moderate oven for ten minutes to dry it out so your rice won’t be gluggy)
  • soy sauce (you could also use tamari, which is gluten-free, or Bragg Liquid Aminos)
  • sesame oil
  • a non-stick frypan, lightly sprayed with cooking oil, or a well-oiled heavy bottom frypan

Throw In’s

I like to work with a ratio of about 1 cup rice and 1 and 1/2 cups throw ins. You can add more throw ins if you are in the mood for lots of herbs and vegetables etc.  Choose your additions based on your dietary preferences, and what’s in your fridge, pantry or garden. Obviously if you are vegan you won’t be throwing the leftover Christmas ham in! Suggestions include any of the following:

  • Freshly diced ginger and garlic – or you can use bottled or tubed if that’s all you have.  Use as little or as much as you like. It adds a beautiful dimension to this dish, but you can do without it at a pinch, so I’ve listed it as optional.
  • Diced ham, bacon, turkey, or other cold roast meats
  • Peeled prawns (shrimp!), crabmeat or other cooked seafood
  • Shredded omelette (whisk a few eggs with some salt and pepper and a dash of water, tip into your hot greased frypan and allow to set into a thin cake.  Slide out onto a board or plate to cool -roll up and chop into slices)
  • Tofu or tempeh
  • Raw cashews or other nuts of your choice
  • Diced raw capsicum (peppers)
  • Seeded red chilli
  • Green shallots
  • Fresh coriander or parsley (save some to garnish)
  • Fresh or tinned sweetcorn
  • Mushrooms – fresh or tinned
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Finely sliced raw onion, raw carrot
  • Snow peas (mange tout)
  • Frozen or fresh peas or sliced green beans
  • Broccoli, cauliflower or broccolini in small pieces
  • Pineapple – tinned or fresh

Method:

Heat up your big frypan with a little oil, toss in the garlic and ginger (and chilli if you like it spicy) and cook until aromatic. If you are using ham, bacon or tofu/tempeh add this in next and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add in the vegetables that take more cooking time, as well as any other meats. Keep tossing around. Then add in your smaller vegetables and dump in your rice. Break up any lumps and keep stirring until it is well heated through.

Add a few tablespoons of soy sauce and a good slug of sesame oil. Stir well  to coat the rice and then add in the cooked egg and fresh herbs, stirring to combine.

Dump into bowls and add a flourish of fresh herbs over the top.  Eat and enjoy!

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Capsicum Jam Recipe, and musings on left-overs and over-supply

Christmas feasts and left-overs are pretty much synonymous, don’t you agree? Gluts are also a regular part of growing your own produce. I was given a big bag of juicy organic yellow and green capsicums (bell peppers for you non-Aussies) by a neighbour this morning. That’s the way it is here.  When you have an abundance of something in your vegetable patch you share a little with the critters, keep some for yourself, and give the rest away. That also works well with Christmas leftovers. Leftovers are wonderful opportunity to feed friends, or to invent tasty meals for little effort.

I already had some red capsicums, so I’ve decided to whip up some capsicum jam to go with all of our Christmas leftovers. It’s terrific with roast vegies, ham, turkey and other meats and cheeses.  Also makes for awesome sandwiches. Naturally, one jar shall go back to the friend who gave me the raw materials!  This jam is easy to make. You’ll need capsicums (obviously!), a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, olive oil, sugar and balsamic vinegar (A good shake of Peri Peri or chilli flakes is optional, but advised).  Here’s how you do it:

Firstly, peel your capsicum.  If they are very fresh you can use a sharp potato/vegetable peeler and the skins will come off easily.  If the capsicums are a little soft place them over an open flame, or cut into halves or quarters and place under a grill until the skin blackens.  Cool, and then slip off the skins with your fingers. Make sure that the capsicums are seeded.  I’m using about 12, but you could make a small batch with just two or three. Slice your capsicums into ribbons. Chop your garlic finely (I used four fat cloves), or put through a press. Put a heavy bottomed pan onto a low heat and add a good slurp of olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until it softens and becomes fragrant without colouring.                                   Dump the capsicum in and toss with the oil, adding a little more if necessary. Raise the heat a little and soften the capsicum (about 7 to 10 minutes).  Add a tablespoon of sugar (if a small batch or increase  proportionately if making a larger batch) to help caramelise the capsicum (another 5 to 10 minutes).  Use a tablespoon of vinegar to deglaze the pan and give a sweet and sour tang to your jam. Keep your sugar and vinegar in the 50:50 ration and you’ll be fine.

There are three stages you can cook this to.

Tapas stage looks like this and is great for using on crusty bread (heaven with cheese).  The capsicum will still taste fresh and bright and have a little crunch to it.  Add your chilli or peri peri now, and add salt and pepper to taste.  Cool without delay.

Pasta stage looks like this.  You’ll need another 5 to ten minutes cooking time. Keep stirring every so often so it doesn’t catch.  The flavours will now be mellow and sweet.  Stir through cooked pasta, add a handful of rocket and some parmesan shavings and you’re good to go. Also good with leftover roast vegetables added into your pasta.  Meat lovers may want to add ham, bacon, pancetta or similar.

Jam stage.  The capsicum is now velvety goodness in a pan, with a rich, oily complexity.  Adjust your seasonings to taste.  Cool and bottle.  This will keep about 3 weeks and goes well with meats and cheeses.  I also like it with avocado on toast. 🙂

There is something magical about sharing – it fills you with a sense of abundance, and it lights up the world with kindness. Got some left-overs in your fridge?  Maybe it’s time to create a feast for friends and neighbours, or a care-pack for that lonely person you know. ♥