What does the last of the housewives do?

Month: March, 2014

Why Aren’t You Making Muesli?

People all around me are giving up stuff. It may be Lent, though I’m astonished at how many of you aren’t aware that it actually is Lent. Stuff they really like. Alcohol. Sugar. Coffee. Chocolate. Facebook. Sometimes stuff they are more or less indifferent to, but is hard to give up, there seems to be something in the challenge. Wheat. Red meat. Dairy products. Why do you have to give it up? Have you no self control? Can’t you just have a bit less?

You know what you never hear people giving up? Chilli. Watching TV. Muesli. Also things that people like a lot, why are some things worthy of giving up and not others? Oh, TV’s OK, so long as you’re watching the boxed set of House of Cards. And chilli is macho. You can’t actually over consume muesli, too much fibre. Maybe if we added psyllium husk to wine and beer we’d solve all of those young people problems, there’d be no fights, just Generation Y clutching their bloated stomachs while lamenting the lack of public toilets these days.

I love my muesli as much as I love my coffee. Even when I’m out for breakfast I order it. I’m just as unlikely to give up either. But while I’m perfectly happy letting the experts produce my coffee, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make my own muesli. Here’s how you do it. Are you ready? Purchase a whole lot of ingredients you’d like in your muesli. Stick in a container. Shake (make sure the lid is on properly, dear reader).

Being of the opinion that my body is a temple and I’d like it to last for quite a long time and I should at least start the day eating something reasonably healthy even if during the course of the day I end up eating a whole packet of Kool Mints, I purchase my muesli ingredients from The Source in Balmain.

I start with Five Grain mix, then add quinoa flakes, linseed, wheatgerm, sultanas and currants.

I like a bit of complexity too, so I put dried apricots and dried pears along with almonds and coconut flakes in the Thermomix to chop them into muesli appropriate size.

Toss it into the nascent muesli, then shake, holding firmly on to the lid.

See? It really couldn’t be any easier. Pour out a bowl full one night you’re feeling organised and add your homemade yoghurt and mix, then you’ve got Bircher muesli in the morning. I have actually only managed to make this once, it was a bit cold for my morning teeth, but the microwave sorted that out.

The beauty is you can add whatever you like, in whatever proportions you like. The Source actually stock those odd dry sticks you find in bought muesli, but I can’t see the point in eating them so I leave them out. If you’re going through a chia seed and Goji berry phase (and I’m not judging you), bung them in. I’ve heard of some hedonists spreading the stuff out on a baking tray, drizzling over maple syrup or honey and baking it for a bit to crisp it up. You can even eat it with milk, if you’re the hardy type that can do that sort of thing without flatulent consequences. Boil it up in water in the winter for exciting porridge.

As with many things of this type, once you’ve tried it there’s no going back.


Three Litres of Pizza Sauce

Owning a Thermomix, as I do, gives you delusions. Of course I can make that. Strawberry jam for about a thousand Devonshire teas at the school fundraiser? A mere bagatelle. Salted caramel icecream? Give me half an hour. A pair of tights with Middle Earth printed on them? Come on Kath, you know there must have been a Thermomix involved in there somewhere. So when the call goes out for three litres of pizza sauce for the school garden party one doesn’t even hesitate.

I only have the vaguest idea as to what they meant when they asked for three litres of pizza sauce. Clearly the volume is fairly straightforward. I’ve only ever put Leggo’s tomato paste on a pizza. I don’t much like the look of the Approved Thermomix recipe for tomato paste, surprise, surprise, so I thought I’d make something up.

Obviously tomatoes. For tomatoes, there is only one place to go, and that is to Frank. You can actually smell the tomatoes as you walk past his tiny unreconstructed shop. I don’t want the giant ridged ones that you slice and put on a sandwich, though they were a revelation the first time I tried them. They don’t turn your roll to slop. I got some little Romas he had packaged up as they were getting a bit soft and some small round ones that just smelled divine. Frank doesn’t seem to mind me sniffing his produce, or maybe he’s just too polite to say anything. But how can you tell if you don’t breathe them in first?

I thought some red onions might be nice too, sweeter than brown, and the garlic looked good, and some basil. To make a paste you have to get rid of much of the water in the tomatoes, and the suggested recipe involves just boiling them for ages. You know what’s better than boiled tomatoes? Almost anything. I thought I’d roast them instead. Aren’t they beautiful?

Don’t roast the basil, and don’t bother peeling the garlic cloves. I used two garlic cloves and one onion per pan. I drizzled them with balsamic vinegar and the special olive oil I bought from Fernando in Montefioralle. I sprinkled them with salt and a Tuscan salt blend I’d bought from a madly striped macelleria. As it cooked I started to suspect that what was blended with the salt was a whole lot of MSG, mmmmmUmami.

They roasted on and off for about two hours at 140 degrees. Hard to tell, there was a train station pickup and a choir pickup in there too. I didn’t want it to dry out too much. This looked about perfect.

I squeezed the garlic out of their skins, the first time I’ve ever successfully done this. I usually burn it. 140 degrees, give it plenty of time, that’s what I was doing wrong. The whole lot went into the Thermomix to blend, with a dainty covering of fresh basil.

Telling you that it made almost exactly a litre isn’t terribly helpful if I can’t tell you what weight of tomatoes I started with. Maybe a kilo. I will concentrate when making my next two litres and may even remember to tell you.

The consistency was just right and tasted divine. I’m resisting the urge to add sugar and salt, that’s what Leggos would do. There’s something else they’d do, something I hadn’t realised until I made my own. Have a look at the finished product.

It’s not the lighting. It isn’t bright red, it’s more a sunburn colour, sort of orangey brown. It tastes of sunshine and essence of tomato and I’m very proud of it. But no shelf appeal. Luckily it isn’t going on a shelf. And neither are its two friends that I’ll make just as soon as I get myself back up to Frank’s.