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Category: breakfast

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.

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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.

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

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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.

Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes

If you have a house full of thirteen and fourteen year old boys who’ve had very little sleep and have spent a lot more time outside than they normally would, they’re going to take a fair bit of breakfast to stop them eating the cat. You need buckwheat pancakes. And lots of them.

Those of us with a Thermomix can start with buckwheat. You can get buckwheat grain from Honest to Goodness. If I’d thought about it, I would have ground up the whole half kilo of buckwheat to start off with. You stick it in the jug and set to the highest speed and leave it for about thirty seconds. You’ll have to expect that the boys will be turning up the volume on their laptops so you won’t drown out the amusement of mychonny on YouTube. Decant the buckwheat flour out into a bowl.

To make one serving of pancakes, put in the Thermomix jug one cup of buckwheat flour, one cup of white flour, two tablespoons of raw sugar, one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, two teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, one cup of buttermilk, one cup of milk and two eggs. Zap it on speed five for about twenty seconds. Peek in the lid to make sure it’s mixed. Meanwhile you have heated up your frying pan with a knob of homemade butter in it. Once the butter is bubbling you pour a circle of pancake batter into the pan. When bubbles appear on the top of the batter, flip the pancake.

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That jug makes seven or eight large pancakes, which isn’t even going to stick their sides. You may want to consider having two frying pans going. It wasn’t until the third jug that the parents were able to sneak one. They’re thick and flavoursome pancake, a little brown from the buckwheat, but didn’t taste wholemeal or worthy or anything.

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I put out maple syrup, honey, cinnamon sugar, butter, jam, lime wedges and a bowl of sugar to have with the pancakes. Who would have thought cats like sugar?

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Perfect fuel for a morning of laser wars.

Yoghurt

You know when you get a gadget, such as, say, a Thermomix, you have something in mind that you really want to make with it, that really tipped you of in deciding to get it (not that I decided). The demonstrators all push making risotto in the Thermomix as being the thing you’d do with it, so easy, perfect every time. I have no interest in risotto. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that my family don’t eat it, they like something with a bit more texture. What got me is that you can make yoghurt in it.

Of course you don’t need a Thermomix to make yoghurt, but once you have one, why wouldn’t you? Well, as it turns out, because you also need a Thermoserve, and I could only get one by holding a party. They weren’t interested in me sticking skewers in my eyes instead, so a party I duly held and now I have my Thermoserve.

You also need milk, an existing yoghurt, and powdered milk, something I wasn’t even sure how to get. The only person I’ve ever seen use powdered milk is my grandma who manages to make a box of Diploma skim milk powder last a year and prefers her milk see through to go with her equally weak tea. I don’t know why she doesn’t just drink hot water while thinking of England. Our local IGA does carry one brand of full cream milk powder and it looks disturbingly like a formula tin.

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Measuring it out I have flashbacks to preparing formula for my baby sister, scooping it out, smoothing across the top of the spoon. I could only have been seven or eight, my kids all insisted on only Mum in their babyhoods. You measure fifty grams of the milk powder into the Thermomix jug, along with 800 grams of full cream milk. You blend it on speed 7 for ten seconds to mix it all up. Then you cook it for thirty minutes on 90 degrees at speed 1.

You then allow it to cool down to body temperature. You could wait for twenty minutes, then stick the jug back into the machine where it will take a temperature reading. Or you could stick a sweets thermometer in there and watch as an unattractive skin forms across the surface.

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Once it has cooled to thirty seven degrees Celsius you add three tablespoons of plain yoghurt, one that you like the taste of. I like both Jalna and Bornhoffen, but Coles has stopped stocking the lower fat Jalna yoghurt for reasons best known to their evil souls, so Bornhoffen it is. Blend it in for four seconds on speed four. Then cook for ten minutes at temperature 37 degrees on speed 1.

Meanwhile you pour boiling water into the Thermoserve to remove the dust and to heat it up. Tip the water out. Once the yoghurt is cooked, pour it into the warmed Thermoserve, or you can dick around with a yoghurt maker if you happen to have one.

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I’m not naming my Thermomix, but I have named the Thermoserve. It’s the Magic Hat. You can’t tell me it isn’t.

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You then wait for the bugs to work their magic on your cooked milk. The instructions also admonish one not to disturb the nascent yoghurt before eight hours is up. I wasn’t game to ignore those instructions, but I wonder what could possibly happen? I did check it after eight hours and it was still as runny as milk. So I left it overnight.

In the morning I had a peek at it. Still looked like milk. I tasted a bit with a spoon. Hmm. Tasted like milk that had been left on the heater overnight, and not in a good way. I stirred it a bit and hit a much thicker layer on the bottom. Here we go. I stirred the layers together, gingerly tasted it again and was relieved to find it tasted exactly like Bornhoffen plain yoghurt. Only a bit runnier.

Well, now to find a container to keep it in. I had saved a Jalna pot, but it smelled a bit funny, and I rather wanted my new creation to live in glass. I knew the Moose had one of my preserving jars in his bedroom, so I hurried thither, tipped out his collection of peach seeds onto his desk and filled the thing with boiling water. I guess it wasn’t a preserving jar after all, it cracked fairly comprehensively.

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I managed to find another couple of jars, decanted the stuff and bunged it in the fridge. It’s still pretty runny, but should be just fine on my breakfast with a passionfruit or two. One does have the option of turning it into Greek yoghurt by pouring it into some muslin suspended over a bowl and leaving it for twenty four hours. It may come to that. But what do you do with the stuff left over? I know, you give it to whoever you can find sitting on a tuffet, eating curds and wishing she had something to go with them. Problem solved.

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Porridge Weather

It is porridge weather in the good old Ney of Syd. I know I’ve told you about Nepalese porridge before, but the Thermomix has taken it to new heights. It may be the perfect breakfast.

Cut a small Granny Smith apple in half and remove the seedy bit. Toss in the Thermomix jug. Add a handful of coconut flakes and a handful of hazelnuts. I do love hazelnuts. Zap very briefly. My Thermomix was so surprised that it threw the little plastic cup that goes in the lid into the toaster, but stand firm. You want it to go from this

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To this. It should only take a couple of second, you don’t want to pulverise it.

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Add in half a teaspoon of cinnamon, thirty grams of rolled oats and thirty grams of rolled spelt flakes, or all oats if you haven’t popped into the health food shop lately. Add three hundred grams of water and cook at 90 degrees on reverse speed two for about eight minutes. It looks a bit watery at first but firms up almost immediately. Sling it into a bowl and drizzle over a suspicion of maple syrup.

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Gosh it was nice. And it didn’t turn into a cannon ball in my stomach, which is a first for porridge. It may have been the spelt, which is why I was using it. Or it may have been because I was dicing with the unknown and using Unstabilised Rolled Oats.

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Unstabilised! Anything could happen! Look out, she’s gonna blow!

Also, clean up your jug quickly, that stuff sets like concrete.

Nepalese Porridge

Back in the early days of our marriage we would have an annual conversation. It was very short, and it went like this. “Shall we start a family this year, or travel somewhere exotic?”. It’s amazing we ever had children at all, really. One year we went trekking in Nepal.

Nepal, as you would know or imagine, is a very different country to Australia, but the first thing that strikes you is that it’s almost completely vertical. Coming from a wide brown land, this is a bit of a shock, because it means that to get anywhere you need to go up stairs, often for hours at a time. I had hoped that all those stairs would have a slimming effect on my rather large calves, but no, they just got very ropy. Camp was made every night on small patches of grass bordered by a cliff face on one side and a sheer drop on the other by unfailingly cheerful porters. After making camp they would immediately set up tiny camp stoves and produce delicious meals of vegetables and lentils and rice, and sometimes a chicken that had been seeing the sights from a basket on the cook’s back. All a little lost on me, it was in Nepal I discovered that I don’t really digest lentils.

Breakfast was often a hot porridge, and after tasting it I couldn’t believe we don’t do it this way here. I made some this morning. I’m putting in a photo of the uncooked ingredients, because after it’s cooked, it looks a lot like porridge which makes for a rather uninteresting photo.

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Chop up a small green apple and put it in a small saucepan. Add a quarter of a cup of chopped hazelnuts and a quarter of a cup of flaked coconut, two cups of oats and two cups of water. As it happens, I got everything except the water from Honest to Goodness, they have a stall at the Orange Grove Markets. Put on the stove and stir until the water is absorbed. It makes enough for two, or one really hungry person. I sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar, but you could put a cinnamon stick in while cooking. It was a little spartan, you may want to add sultanas, which would start bringing into Bircher Muesli territory, but it’s all breakfast. My husband said he prefers it plain. My family is a tough audience.