Easy Oven Baked Whole Potatoes

“Not everyone can be a truffle. Most of us are potatoes. And a potato is a very good thing to be.” 
~ Massimo Bottura

I love baked potatoes. They go well as a side dish for barbeques and salads, but you can also load them up with toppings and have them as a meal on their own.

The potatoes are quick to prepare but need around an hour to cook. It’s well worth it. The end result is a chewy crispy crust and a fluffy steaming interior, ready for a dab of butter and some chopped herbs or whatever else is your pleasure.

They’re also delicious cold and chopped into a salad.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large potato per person
  • olive oil
  • salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to hot – about 200 degrees celcius or 400 degrees fahrenheit
  2. Line a baking tray with foil.
  3. Cut out any blemishes from the potatoes, wash with water and pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  4. Prick the potatoes several times with a fork or skewer. This helps steam escape.
  5. Rub the potatoes all over with olive oil. Place on the tray and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Place in the oven and cook an hour minutes, turning once or twice during that time. Check doneness with a fork or skewer. It should be tender inside. Bigger potatoes may take longer to cook through.
  7. Eat with gusto!

Great toppings for your baked potatoes:

Tip: If you use cheese as a topping consider popping filled potatoes under a hot grill or back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese!

  • Sour cream, butter or yoghurt and some chopped fresh herbs
  • Guacamole and salsa
  • Cooked bacon, cheese and chives
  • Baked beans, a fried egg and some cheddar cheese
  • Pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese
  • Basil, fetta cheese, red onion and sliced black olives
  • Leftovers smothered in cheese
  • Ham, tomato and cheese
  • Bean salad and dressing
  • Hummus, sliced red onion and some rocket (arugula)
  • Baba ganoush, a dollop of yoghurt and some fresh mint

Easy Stuffed Capsicum Bell Pepper Recipe

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” 
~ Calvin Trillin

I’m crazy for leftovers. There is something completely satisfying about cooking a large batch of something and then being able to make easy meals for days. One of our favourite easy meals is leftovers stuffed into capsicum (bell peppers) and baked, with cheese added near the end for some satisfying melty goodness. When you bake red capsicums they end up so sweet and tender. Yum!

Whenever I cook up a pot of Chilli Con Carne or make Spaghetti Bolognese sauce or my Cheesy Bean Pie I’ll make a double batch and freeze portions for emergency meals or to give to friends and family who need extra love and care. I also keep some in the fridge to use during the week when I’m tired and need something fast to prepare and good to eat. In fact almost everything I cook is a big enough serve to have leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. It saves on cooking and washing up and helps stretch ingredients further.

Ingredients:

  • cold leftover meat or bean dish
  • cheese that melts well
  • red capsicum/ bell peppers
  • fresh herbs as a garnish if you could be bothered or a little sprinkle of smoked paprika or cracked black pepper
  • a tossed salad or fresh bread or toast or corn chips as a side

You can use any left-over meat or bean dish. Feel free to mix cooked cold rice, vegetables or pasta in too. I’ve also used diced cold roast meat and vegetables, leftover cold mashed potato and peas with sausages, even cold curry and rice will do.

No leftovers? Try a tin of beans, tofu or tempeh with some salsa and chopped onion. Grated fresh vegetables with cheese also works a treat. So does my Easy Baked Egg Recipe.

Method:

Preheat your oven to moderate (170 degree celcius fan-forced or 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit).

Cut the capsicum in half lengthways or if you have a good shape that sits nicely on its bottom chop off the stalk end. Remove any stalk and the seeds and white pith with your fingers or a small sharp knife.

Stuff the capsicums and place them in a greased dish with high sides. Place in the oven for about twenty minutes if you chopped them in half longways. You’ll need forty minutes if your capsicums are whole ones. The longer you leave them the softer and sweeter the capsicum will become. (It’s fine to turn the oven right down too and hold them until you’re ready to eat them. I left these ones in the oven over an hour before cheesing them because we had to chase a calf that had snuck into my vegetable garden!) Add your cheese to the top of the capsicums and return to oven at moderate temperature for another ten to fifteen minutes or until cheese is melted nicely.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Transfer to serving plates. Sprinkle with a little smoked paprika, cracked pepper or fresh diced herbs if you’re feeling fancy. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Salad with Lime and Garlic Dressing #Vegan

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?” 
~ A. A. Milne

It’s a known fact that historically Ben won’t eat two things – Brussels Sprouts and Cottage Pie (which he calls Poo Pie!) after bad experiences at boarding school back in the day.

I have managed to win him over to a good Cottage Pie (which we are only allowed to call Savoury Mince Thing with Mashed Potato on Top) but have not been able to convince him of the deliciousness of Brussels Sprouts, until I invented this Salad.

This warm salad was born from the need for me to whip up something healthy and yummy for lunch but EASY because I am still unwell and lacking stamina so I wanted something nurturing that I could chuck together with minimum fuss. You can eat this as a main meal and proportions given will serve two, or four people as a tasty side.

Baking the Brussels Sprouts gives them a nutty flavour – super yum. Don’t be afraid – they really are delicious. The addition of apple gives a sweet note that contrasts well with the fresh tangy dressing. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • two cups of cubed sweet potato
  • one green apple cut into cubes
  • two cups of Brussels Sprouts cut in half lengthways
  • a tablespoon of olive oil
  • cumin and smoked paprika to sprinkle on your roasting vegetables (or leave it off if you don’t have these spices at home)
  • 2 to 4 cups of fresh green spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup of walnut halves
  • 1/2 an avocado cubed
  • Dressing: 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 cloves of garlic minced (use to your own taste – I love garlic!), 1 teaspoon of honey, 1 teaspoon of coconut aminos or Braggs or soy sauce or tamari sauce or a pinch of salt (use what you have to hand)

Directions:

  1. Place cubed sweet potato, Brussels Sprouts and cubed apple onto baking tray and toss with one tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle some cumin and smoked paprika over and then roast in a moderate oven ( 180 degree oven – 350 degrees fahrenheit ) for 30 minutes or until cooked and golden.
  2. Scatter spinach over the bottom of your serving bowl or plate.
  3. Make dressing by putting all ingredients in a jar and shaking well so that they emulsify and blend together. Taste dressing and adjust to your liking by adding
  4. Add baked vegetables to top of spinach. Scatter the avocado and walnuts over and then pour on the dressing.
  5. Serve on its own or as a side dish.

Farm Life

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“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
~ Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World

 

If you look closely at the top photo you’ll see a new baby calf taking her very first steps, under the watchful eye of mum.

Here she is a few steps later, looking for her first drink of milk.

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It was a very busy day at the farm yesterday. A new calf at breakfast time. Lots of psychic work and writing in the heat of the day.

New garden beds ready for our autumn crops in the afternoon.

We’ve added three extra herb and vegetable beds, and put in a passionfruit trellis too.

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And then last night as I was making dinner, a big green tree-frog came to visit, landing on our kitchen window with a loud thump.

All in all, a lovely and very productive day.

Sending lots of love your way, Nicole xx

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The Winner of the Chlorite Phantom Quartz

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“Home is not where you live but where they understand you.”
~ Christian Morgenstern

 

I’m so happy to announce that the winner of this beautiful little Chlorite Phantom Quartz Crystal is:

Pauline Longdon 

Congratulations, Pauline! I know you’ll take good care of her, and I look forward to hearing all about your adventures together.

For those of you who entered but didn’t win, thank you for supporting my blog! It means so much to me that you are here, sharing the journey, and being part of my community.

Stay tuned over the next few months as I give away a few more special stones from my personal collection.

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In other news, Ben is feeling much better and so is Harry. My biggest issue will be keeping both of them quiet during their recoveries now that we are back at the farm.

Now I’m off to water my vegetable garden before the heat of the day, harvest my cherry tomato glut, and plan out some kitchen time. I feel the yearn to cook!

PS – It’s so good to be home!!!

Flowers with your Green Smoothie?

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“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
~ Iris Murdoch

 

Each morning when I venture out to the garden to pick a few herbs or some kale for my breakfast smoothie, I rejoice in the flowers which grow in the tumbling wilderness that is my vegetable garden.

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I have always grown flowers alongside my herbs and vegetables. Flowers attract bees, they cleverly lure away pests, and most importantly, they bring me joy.

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When did a food garden need to be so business-like that there was no room for whimsy, colour or self-expression?

Besides, fairies like flowers too.

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I finally tore myself away from flower appreciation long enough to pick a few leaves for breakfast.

This morning’s green smoothie?

Kale, pear, apple, broccoli and coconut. Delicious!

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