Wraps! Part 3 – Raw Rainbow Chard

Did you have a chance to make wraps with Nori sheets? I still eat nori wraps all the time, but here is my current favourite: rainbow chard wraps! I first learned to use it as a raw wrap by watching a Laura Miller video, and it changed my life.

Raw rainbow chard / lettuce (gluten free naturally)

rainbow chard

See how and flat these leaves are? They are just made to be wraps. I chop the stem off and keep them for other dishes.

Pros:

(a) Rainbow chard is super tasty and beautiful to look at – I particularly love the pink and yellow ones.

rainbow chard wraps

Chard (at least the kind I find here in Sydney), like celery, also has a naturally salty flavour. So if you are on a low-sodium diet, you’ll love the “free” salty taste. I often just munch on these leaves as is as snacks for this reason.

(b) Chard has next to zero carbs, like nori. Have as many as you like, all guilt free!

(c) It is inexpensive and widely available. If you can’t find rainbow chard in a shop near you, try silverbeet or kale (though a bit tougher to chew raw, and the leaves are not as big and flat as rainbow chard). Iceberg and cos lettuce are also good options. So is napa cabbage and pak choi (all delicious raw).

(d) Rainbow chard leaves are so large, flat, and pliable – it makes a superb wrap for a large amount of filling.

(e) You can go organic.

(f) They are super nutritious. You can check “leafy greens” off your daily healthy-food list while eating delicious wraps. (g) relatively mess free to eat! See how neat these wraps make? You can eat while reading a book and not worry about things dripping onto the pages.
chard wrap

chard wrap

What are in these wraps, you ask? They are (1) walnut and sun-dried tomato taco meat (per Laura Miller) with tofu sour cream, (2) Cajun barbecue jackfruit on cauliflower rice, an (3) tofu hummus, yellow capsicum, with homemade sauerkraut.

chard wrap with chickpeas

This one has the same walnut taco meat, with cooked chickpeas, fennels, and raw broccoli.

Cons:

I can’t think of any cons. Seriously.

If you haven’t tried any of these wraps, give them a go. Happy low-carb wrapping, everyone.

 

Wraps! Part 2 – Nori Wraps (Not Just for Sushi)

 

If you think nori sheets are just for sushi – it’s time to think outside the bento box. Nori make tasty, nutritious wraps for just about any filling – well, so long as it’s not too wet.

Here’s my pros vs cons list:

Nori sheets (gluten free, vegan)

nori rolls

Pros:

(a) Nori sheets have nearly ZERO net carb and extremely low in calories. What a bargain! You can eat as many as you like, and save all your carb allowance for more fun fillings.

(b) Nori is super tasty on its own, unlike Mountain Bread. My kids love to devour them as is for snacks. Nori also has a very satisfying crunchy texture.

(c) Made from sea vegetable, nori is nutritious.

(d) Nori goes with all kinds of fillings and flavours, not just Asian stuff. Go for vegan sausages and schnitzel slices, veggie sticks, sauerkraut, tofu scramble, baked beans, cauliflower rice… Be creative, because the possibilities are endless.

Nori wrapsOf course, you can make traditional sushi rolls, too. To make the rolls hold together though, you’ll need to use some rice replacement. I mean, there is nothing wrong with rice at all if you are not diabetic, but for those of us on a low-carb diet, rice is sadly too extravagant.

cauliflower sushi cauliflower sushi

Here I made these rolls with cauliflower rice (steamed and moisture squeezed out), okara (soy pulp) scramble, avocado, cashew miso dip, and oven-roasted sweet potato. Delicious, fun, and veeery low-carb.

(e) Nori sheets are widely available in most metropolitan supermarkets or Asian shops.

(f) Nori lasts pretty much forever. Store original packages in your pantry, and once opened, tightly seal them and store in the fridge or freezer.

(g) Nori is gluten free.

Cons:

(a) Nori can be on the expensive side, like Mountain Bread. At big supermarkets in Australia, you can get a packet of 10 sheets for $3-4. High-quality nori are more expensive, however.

(b) If you live in the country, you may not have access to nori locally – though there is always online shopping.

(c) Nori does not have the similar bread-like chewy texture or taste.

(d) Nori sheets are rather fragile. It also doesn’t like moisture (it’ll get soggy), so it’s best to eat nori wraps straight away. Which makes a great sushi party idea!

Make a stack of mini nori sheets (cut one large sheet into 4 square-ish sheets with scissors), and serve with various fillings. Your guests or family can choose their own filling combination, wrap them in nori, and eat immediately. Can’t be easier!

Nori wraps

 

 

Wraps! Part 1 – Mountain Bread

I don’t miss sugar much anymore, but I do miss bread. And by “bread” I don’t mean almond croissants dusted with powdered sugar – I’m not that unreasonable at this stage in my diabetic journey. It’s the humble sandwiches I miss the most.

Well, I used to miss toast in the morning, too, until I found this fantastic seedy bread recipe, which I make on a regular basis. This bread, however, is not really suitable for sandwiches unfortunately.

Why are sandwiches so… desirable? Well, I thought about it. It’s the softness of the bread, the joy of eating with your hands, and the “surprise” of tasty filling inside, all melding together in your mouth in one happy bite…. Most bread is too carb-rich for me, but is there a guilt-free alternative?

Enter wraps. Wraps are great! Here is the most bread-like commercial (i.e. most low-carb per square cm) wrap I found, after searching high and low through supermarket aisles. Here’s my low-down “pro vs con” analysis:

Mountain Bread (or similar, super-thin wrap bread)

mountain bread wrapPros:

(a) Relatively low-carb (13.6g per wrap for Mountain Bread rye version) and low calorie.

(b) Each wrap is large, and can hold a decent amount of fillings. If you fill it with low or zero-carb veggies and other food, you can have two wraps per meal and be on track at nearly 30g per meal. That’s not bad at all. I usually have just one though, with salad or soup on the side, or with more substantial and fun (read: high-carb) fillings like beans and vegetarian sausages.

(c) Mountain Bread is conveniently available at most Australian supermarkets.

(d) They last for a week or more in the plastic bag it comes in. Great for camping trips!

(e) I haven’t tried it, but you can make a toasty version of it – oozy vegan cheese and tomato, anyone?

Cons:

(a) It is a bit pricey. In stores in Sydney, they cost 50c per wrap.

(b) The wrap dries out quickly if left in the open. At a picnic on a sunny day, I left the wrap on my plate for a few minutes while attending to my kids, and the wrap had gone all brittle and cracker like. What a disappointment.

(c) Mountain Bread itself has very little flavour in my opinion.

(d) 13.6g is still a chunk of carbs. If you eat two wraps, that’s it for your carb “allowance” – no room for much else, like dessert.

(e) It’s not gluten free, and it’s not organic.

mountain bread wrap

Oops, this was too much filling! See what I mean? But see black thingy hiding behind my Mountain Bread? Could it be a back-up wrap for the spilled food? That’s for the next post.

 

Cashew Miso Tofu Dip (Vegan, GF, Oil-free, Low-Carb)

Cashew is magical. It can morph into anything, it seems. Milk, butter, white sauce, sour cream, and of course cheese. All nuts and seeds are amazing in their shape-shifting abilities actually (and godsend to people on vegan, plant-based and/or raw food diets). But cashew? Cashew is the reigning Queen of Creaminess. Plus it’s more affordable than, say, macadamia nuts or pine nuts.

Cashew miso dip

Here’s a quick cashew miso dip recipe that’s one of my current favorites. Miso makes it extra tasty, and tofu adds more creaminess, substance, and balance. Without tofu, the combination of cashew, miso and garlic create way too much flavor in my opinion – umami overload. Tofu brings the whole thing together.

The dip is diabetes friendly, but cashew does have a rather high carbohydrate content, and high calories, so it’s best to watch your portion size even if you are tempted to eat it by the spoonful.

cashew miso dip

Try the dip also as a sandwich or wrap spread, in lieu of mayo, as a salad dressing with a bit of thinning, or on (zucchini?) pasta, fritters, vegan schnitzels… anything really. I hope you give the recipe a go, and let me know how you like it!

cashew miso dip

cashew miso dip
cashew miso dip

Cashew Miso and Tofu Dip

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October 2, 2017

A quick, creamy, and addictive cashew dip with a subtle Asian flavor.

  • Yields: about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup dry cashew, soaked for 2-3 hours or overnight

1/2 cup momen or medium-firm tofu (not hard tofu)

1 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped (optional)

1 tbsp tahini (optional)

1 tbsp miso (brown or white)

1/2 cup vegetable soup stock or water

Directions

1Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until very, very smooth. I have a high-speed blender and it takes 1-3 minutes.

2Taste, and adjust seasoning.

Garnish with chopped coriander, green onion, or chives for a pretty presentation.

If you are avoiding soy, try using vegan yogurt instead of tofu. I tried it with Nudie coconut yogurt (natural), but I wasn't crazy about the noticeable coconut flavor. But a different brand might be okay.

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The Breakfast Conundrum – and Sichuan Mushroom Sauce Recipe (Vegan, GF, Low-Carb)

Sichuan mushroom sauce

Breakfast is often a tough decision for me. What do I want to eat this morning, or rather, what can I eat this morning? Being diabetic, I gave up on sweet breakfast a long time ago, and high-carb items like wheat bread, cereal, rice, or even porridge are out. Fruit is also out (too much sugar), except maybe berries. Meat, fish, and dairy are also out because I’m trying to stick to a plant-based diet. Well, except I do eat occasional eggs from our happy backyard chooks.

What does that leave me with? Well, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts of course! And thank goodness there are so many delicious things you can make with these.

Here’s what I eat these days when I’m pressed for time, like getting the kids ready for school: a couple of slices of low-carb seedy bread with avocado. Plus a big mug of real coffee with homemade almond milk – because, friends, coffee is happiness. If I’m still hungry, I’ll munch on raw veggies or have a big spoonful of peanut butter. Yum.

seedy bread breakfast

On weekends though, I make something more elaborate. Last weekend, I made this Asian portobello mushroom sauce with garlic, ginger, chilli, and Sichuan peppercorns. I poured it over homemade tofu and devoured it. It was utterly delicious. It’s actually pretty simple to prepare, too, if you want to give it a try.

portobello mushroom sauce ingredients

The basic recipe is below. The key flavor here is Sichuan peppercorns. You can omit the chilli if you like but please give Sichuan peppercorns a try. It adds a distinct, strong and fresh flavor kind of like coriander or fennel seeds – but not really. It’s hard to explain but I love it. Using whole peppercorns also adds a nice crunchy texture to the dish.

You can use whatever mushrooms you have lying around, or in any combination. Portobello or shiitake would be great though, because of their meaty texture that can match the strong flavor combination. But if not, white button mushrooms would work just fine.

If you want to make the sauce but are avoiding soy, try pouring the sauce over lightly steamed broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, etc. If you are okay with carbohydrate, the sauce would be delicious over noodles, rice (cauliflower rice would also be fantastic for a low-carb option), quinoa, etc. Enjoy and, if you happen to make this dish, please let me know how you go!

Sichuan mushroom sauce
Sichuan mushroom sauce

Spicy Sichuan Mushroom Sauce (Vegan, Low-Carb, GF)

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September 27, 2017

Kickstart your morning with this spicy and scrumptious (and low-carb of course) Asian mushroom sauce with tofu!

  • Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients

1 cup portobello or other mushrooms, sliced

1 tbsp sesame, olive, or coconut oil for cooking mushrooms

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp ginger

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)

1 tbsp soy sauce (use gluten free if you like)

1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot, for thickening

1 cup water or vegetable soup stock

1 cup momen or silken tofu

Directions

1Slice or chop the mushrooms. You want relatively chunky bits - not too small, not too large. Mince garlic and ginger together.

2Preheat a frying pan over medium-high heat (I love my Lodge cast-iron pan). Spread whatever oil you are using, and when the pan and oil are nice and hot, carefully lay the mushroom bits in a single layer. You want the mushrooms to brown, so don't overcrowd the pan. Leave the mushroom alone (don't stir) for 3-4 minutes till one side has browned and shrunk a bit. Flip the mushrooms over with a spatula, and let the other side brown for 2-3 minutes.

3Add chilli flakes, Sichuan peppercorns, minced garlic and ginger to the pan, and cook for a minute or so. Add soy sauce and stir for a few seconds (it should sizzle), until it all starts to smell amazing.

4Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in water or stock, and pour it in the pan. Mix, until the water has boiled (shouldn't take long), and the sauce thickened. Reduce heat to a simmer, and let the sauce cook gently for a few minutes. If the liquid evaporates too much, just add more water or stock to bring it back to a nice saucy consistency. Adjust seasoning to your taste.

5Pour the sauce over a good chunk of tofu and any other vegetables you have around. Scatter a few leaves of cilantro / coriander or chopped scallions if you have any.

The sauce is great over homemade tofu. If you are buying tofu, organic "momen" (or medium firm) or silken tofu is best. I don't recommend hard-firmness tofu - it's a bit too tough to eat raw in my opinion. But you can cook slices of hard tofu until crispy in the oven or in another frying pan. That'll be delicious with the sauce. And of course, this will make a lovely lunch or dinner dish as well.

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Adzuki Bean Hummus (Vegan)

adzuki bean hommus

Did you know that you can make hummus from any beans? Adzuki beans, for one.

adzuki beans

In Japan (where I grew up), cooked adzuki beans are often mixed with sugar to make fillings for sweet treats like mochi and buns. Adzuki inherently tastes sweet, even without added sugar. So I was a little skeptical at first of making savoury dishes with adzuki beans.

adzuki bean hommusUntil I tried this hummus. Totally delicious! Adzuki beans are one of the most nutritious and diabetes-friendly beans around, apparently. It has lots of protein, fibre, antioxidants, and potassium, for starters.

Making adzuki hummus is simple, except you need to cook the beans from scratch. Unlike chickpea or other more common beans, it’s hard to find canned (and unsweetened) adzuki beans in supermarkets. But don’t let that stop you. Adzuki is one of the easiest, fastest beans to cook from scratch.

And the hummus is so pretty! It has a beautiful light purple colour. Enjoy it as a dip for all sorts of veggies (raw bok choi is so delicious, and conveniently shaped like a spoon for scooping up hummus).

I hope you enjoy the recipe.

adzuki bean hommus

adzuki bean hommus
adzuki bean hommus

Adzuki Bean Hummus

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September 23, 2017

Move over, chickpeas! Make this tasty, nutritious, and pretty-in-purple adzuki bean hummus for a change. I guarantee you'll fall in love.

  • Yields: about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked adzuki beans

4 tbsp tanihi

1 tsp salt

2-3 garlic cloves

Directions

1Soak the adzuki beans overnight in filtered water.

2Cook the soaked beans until tender. I cook all beans in my beloved Instant Pot – an electric pressure cooker – and it takes about 5 minutes of pressure with natural release. Not long at all, unlike black turtle beans that take whopping 35 minutes in the pressure cooker. You can also cook the beans in a pot of simmering water on stovetop – just add a little more water several times as the water evaporates. You'll have about 3 cups of cooked adzuki beans.

3Drain the beans well. In a food processor fitted with an S blade, process the beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt until smooth (or with a bit of texture if you like it that way). Adzuki beans are pretty juicy when cooked well, so there is no need to add extra water or oil (as you would when making chickpea hummus).

4Taste, and adjust seasoning / lemon juice / tahini to your liking.

Try different flavour additives. Reduce salt, and try adding a litltle soy sauce, miso, or vegan fish sauce. Add a drizzle of toasted sesame oil for a more intense flavour. You can also try adding cumin and/or paprika for a more Mediterranean flavour, but keep it simple because you don't want to overwhelm the delicate, subtle flavour of adzuki beans.

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Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone! I’m not a Halloween kind of person actually. But when your kids are so excited about a school Halloween party, does a parent really have a choice but to go along with it? My ex got them scary costumes, and I – reluctantly – agreed to help with the “best curved pumpkin contest” bit. There were a couple of obstacles though.

First, we couldn’t find any Halloween-like orange pumpkins. We drove around town knocking on different veggie shops and supermarkets – but nobody had any, not even for display. Seriously? I mean, come on veggie shops! Where is your holiday spirit? So our only choices were (1) Japanese pumpkins (too ugly and bumpy, what with green and brown patches on the outside), (2) Kent (smooth skin, but boring beige colour, and they were too huge anyway), or (3) butternut squashes. The choice was kind of obvious. Butternuts were cute, came in just the right size for the kids, and had a smooth orange-y skin. First problem solved!

Second, I had no idea how to curve a pumpkin. I’ve never done it or seen it done before. But then – Youtube to the rescue! After watching three random pumpkin-curving tutorials, I felt confident enough to give it a go.

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The best part was seeing the kids super excited and engaged! Even I got into the activity and enjoyed it a lot. I helped quite a bit with sharp knives and linoleum curving chisels (which I conveniently had in my craft supplies). But my six-year old grabbed a chisel at some point and started curving on his own – and he was surprisingly careful. I should just trust my kids more.

pumpkin curving for halloween

Even my ADHD daughter stuck with the activity for two whole hours.

pumpkin curving for halloween

And how cute are these pumpkins when lit up at night?

roasted pumpkin bits

Here are the pumpkin shreds that got scooped out. After the kids went to bed, I roasted them with a bit of olive oil. They were so sweet and tasty, I ate nearly a quarter of them straight out of the oven with a spoon. The rest, I pureed in a food processor and….

sourdough pumpkin bread

Made them into pumpkin sourdough bread and scrolls the next day. Mmmm. I am loving the 100% whole rye flour and wholemeal spelt flour combination. I also threw in some almond and soy pulp from making milk.

pumpkin seeds roasted

I saved all the seeds, too. Roasted till crunchy, they make nutritious, tasty – and free! – snack. I’ll be enjoying these healthy and nutritious jack-o-lantern offcuts today, while my kids will no doubt be eating too many of those supermarket candies at the party tonight. But so it goes!

 

Holiday survival guide for diabetics

On the last weekend of Spring holidays, we drove on a whim to Canberra for a two-night mini holiday. I haven’t been on a holiday for a while, so I was super excited! But even for a little trip like this, your diabetic head spins around with a few little worries. Such as, will I be able to stay on a healthy diet for entire time? Will I be tempted to eat junky holiday food and treats that my kids might no doubt demand? What about exercise?

The first day was easy. My mother (who was visiting for the school holidays) and I woke up early and made a healthy lunch and dinner for that day – vegetable sticks, roasted capsicum and chickpea hummus, Japanese rice balls, cooked green lentils, cut fruit, and a big container of salad greens. I had also made some wholemeal bread and healthy treats. We packed everything in a cooler bag and off we went.
floriade 2016 canberra

Canberra was wonderful. We visited the beautiful annual Floriade flower festival.

national gallery australia

We visited the National Museum.

old trailer at national museum

This old wagon / camper trailer was my favourite thing at the National museum – I mean, wouldn’t you like to travel in one of these around Australia?

Then – we ran out of all the healthy food we brought. Oh no… Ignoring all the cafes / restaurants / street food vendors, we hit a local supermarket instead.

What an amazing selection of ready-to-eat healthy food I found there! It was an eye-opening experience re-discovering good old supermarkets. Just look at the huge selection of pre-cooked rice and grains alone.

supermarket rice selection

Instead of soaking rice overnight and cooking in a pressure cooker (which is what I do every day), these packets of rice and grains are ready to eat in less than 2 minutes (in a microwave or stovetop). And it’s not just white rice. Brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, chia seed, in all sorts of combinations. Wow. Honestly, I never knew.

I also “discovered” a myriad vegan tofu products – some looking healthier (less processed) than others. Then of course there is the fresh produce section. I narrowed my choices to these.

holiday supermarket food

Thanks to the local supermarket, my healthy dinner was ready in minutes.

holiday food

Of course, it helped a great deal that we stayed in a cabin accommodation, with a fully equipped kitchen.

canberra cabin

Things would have been a bit more difficult had we stayed in a motel or hotel.

Canberra street food

So even though there was a few moments like this when I had to resist a bit of holiday temptation… it was good overall foodwise.

Oh, and exercise? Well, that was sorted as well – accidentally.

canbera wagon ride

See that four-seater wagon bike? I thought riding that cute little vehicle around the lake was a leisurely experience. Wrong! It turned out to be such hard work… Pedalling this monster of a wagon for nearly two hours was the most excruciating torture – I mean exercise – ever!

Spring Pot-Au-Feu (Vegan)

Spring might be here during the day, but on most evenings it still feels like winter. Apparently where I live in Blackheath, you’ll need to light your fireplace until as late as November. Yikes! But thankfully I still have heaps of these expensive hardwood firewood left from a delivery two months ago.

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Here’s another proof that the earth is still slowly awakening from a long winter – my weekly delivery of fruit and veggies from a local farm – lots of root vegetables!

vegan pot-au-feu

So on these “Spring-ter” nights, you often just want to eat soup, or stew, or anything that’s slow-cooked, comforting, and warming to your bones.

pile of delivered firewood

Here’s a simple winter stew that’s a little classic French: pot-au-feu, or braised root vegetables in stock. Normally pot-au-feu has meat in it, but this has none. And it tastes amazing without any popular vegan “tricks” like, nutritional yeast, cashew, tomato paste, oil or faux meat.

The secret? Good-quality, fresh homemade soup stock, white wine, and (preferably) organic, farm-fresh vegetables. Cooked this way, you’d be surprised, shocked even, that those humble vegetables taste swooningly flavourful all on their own.

Is this starch-heavy dish actually diabetes friendly, you might ask? Well, root vegetables are rather rich in carbohydrate. And some diabetes experts recommend eating them in moderation.

Other experts say that starch is not a problem, but actually beneficial for diabetics. Most Japanese health books I have been reading agree with this view, recommending a diet based on brown rice and seasonal vegetables (which means, in winter, you should be eating lots of cooked root vegetables, not raw salad greens).

So I think the scale might tip in favour of eating a healthy doze of starchy vegetables in season. I did refrain from using white potatoes though in this recipe. They are high GI, like white rice, so I can do without them. Serve it with some cooked brown rice, with a sprinkle of sesame salt, and your taste buds will be in Sprinter wonderland.

vegan pot-au-feu
vegan pot-au-feu

Vegan Pot-Au-Feu

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September 25, 2016

  • Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

1 Parsnip

1 Turnip

1 Swede

1 Small fennel

1 Carrot

1 Leek, white part only

1 Red onion

1 Litre homemade vegetable soup stock

2 Bay leaves

1/2 Bunch parsley

2 Whole garlic cloves

1/2 cup White wine

1 tsp Salt, or to taste

1 tsp Soy sauce

Directions

1In a large pot, pour soup stock and wine. Add garlic cloves, salt, soy, sauce, parsley, and bay leaves, and bring to the boil.

2Meanwhile, prepare the root vegetables. Peel the turnip, swede, carrot, and parsnip. If they are organic, and well washed, you don't have to peel them (if you don't mind a slightly rustic look). Cut them into chunks. Add them to the soup mix.

3Cut the leek into half lengthwise and wash between the layers well. Cut it into big chunks. Peel the onion, and cut onion into 1/8 size. Cut fennel into a quarter, and remove the hard core. Cut it into big chunks and toss all these veggies into the stock mix. You want the veggies *just* submerged in the liquid - not have them floating freely.

4Once the stock mix (with the veggies in it) boils, turn the heat to medium/low, and let the whole thing simmer for a good 30 minutes or longer, until all the vegetables are meltingly tender. Don't cover with a lid - you want the broth to reduce a little, and become richer in taste. You might have to add more stock (or water, if you run out of stock) to keep the vegetables submerged though.

5Check the seasoning, and add more salt to taste. Serve with a bowl of rice or hot toast.

All vegetables are guides only. You can use whatever root vegetable you have lying around in your kitchen, and feel free to omit any of them listed here. For example, cabbage and potato would work well here. I wouldn't probably use pumpkin because they cook too fast and tend to disintegrate, making a mess. Beetroot might turn everything red, but that might be pretty as well. Have fun, but remember to keep it simple.

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Pickles

I wouldn’t have thought of making pickles in the first place – if not for a friendly farmers market vendor from Bilpin who sells home-grown veggies at a local market. One day, she had a whole array or just-dug-up, earth-covered baby root veggies: turnips, baby carrots, and black radishes.

What I can possibly do with these, I asked. “Well, you can pickle them,” she said. How interesting! I’m always game to make something I haven’t tried before. So I bought the whole lot of those dirt-covered babies to take back home.

Apparently pickles are easier to make than jam or other preserves, because bacteria hates vinegar. So all you need is vinegar, water, some salt and spices for the brine. The jars can happily live on a kitchen counter or pantry, even without proper canning. Best of all, they are ready to eat in a couple of days.

baby root vegetables pickles

 

Here’s my first attempt. I used 100% apple cider vinegar, mustard seeds, a small amount of salt, and bay leaves. I didn’t even cook the baby vegetables. How cute are these? A day later, they sort of softened in the vinegar, and were a little less crunchy. Delicious, yes, but sour!

baby root vegetables pickles

A few days later, by chance, my son “discovered” these hidden carrots growing in our backyard. The previous residents must have planted them and left them for us to eat. And I thought they were weeds!

backyard carrots

How funny are all these odd-shaped carrots?

backyard carrots

Have you ever eaten carrots straight from the garden? They are incredible. Nothing like store-bought ones, putting those packaged “organic” ones from the supermarket to shame.

After munching on a few straight away, I made more pickles with the remainder, with a bit of turnips mixed in for colour variation.

backyard carrots pickles

So pretty! This time I used 50% water and 50% apple cider vinegar (with mustard seeds and bay leaves). They were not vinegary enough though…. I think 75% vinegar and 25% water might be more to my liking. I think I might be getting hooked on home preserving.