Sunday, 28 August 2016

Superfood For Dogs!

 Do you know what to feed your best friend?

When did dogs become Vegetarians?

Customers often ask us, "How much should I feed my Dog?"
75% of people don't know the quantity of food to feed their pet.

 I've compiled a list of Superfoods for a Healthy Dog.

It's not hard to spot a healthy dog!

 Have a look in their mouth & smell their breath.

Superfood 1. Bones.  It's not hard to pick a dog that eats bones. Besides looking & acting healthy, look in their mouths & smell their breath.
Bones  are a living tissue, full of nutrients, minerals such as, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, enzymes & amino acids.
Bone marrow is full of essential fatty acids , fat soluble vitamins & iron. Most people know that your dog chewing on their bone is fantastic care for teeth & gums. Bones also provide fibre & a healthy digestive system & bulk out the diet.
Superfood 2. Offal. Dense in essential nutrients, offal can be fed to your dog in smaller amounts. Offal has a concentrated source of Vitamin A, D , E & K, minerals, manganese , selenium & iron. Offal also contains all the vitamin B group, B2, B3, B5, B12, biotin, folacin acid (vit 9), (folic acid is a synthetic form in pills), choline, inositol, B1 &Vitamin C. Offal is a good source of essential fatty acids, both Omega 3 & Omega 6.
Liver besides being served fresh, can be dried in the oven & used as a treat or dry food. Heart contains Taurine which is good for the Heart! Tripe contains probiotics, also good for your poochs' digestion. Kidneys are a source of Zinc.

Hmmm, sounds like Superfood Humans should eat!

Superfood 3. Red Meat. Add some red meat & fat to the bone & you will add extra potassium to the diet, which is essential for a healthy heart. Beef , Pork & Chicken are all good sources of fresh meat.
A customer mentioned cooking raw meat for the first 12 months of a pups life, to prevent salmonella poisoning.  My first response was surprise as I always think of Courtney's meat as Fresh, so don't consider Salmonella. Feeding your pet a main meal once a day, will ensure them devouring all of their meal, then it won't become tainted.
 Fat won't store as fat if you don't overload you pet with dry carb dog food, which can be full of fillers. Fat aids a shiny healthy coat & essential fats for healthy joints. Fat is Energy.
Superfood 4. Chicken. Bone Broths are a good source of nutrients when your animal has a skin condition or not well. I have a recipe on bone broth which can be adapted to chicken broth. Deb a customer was telling me how her dog had a skin allergy & didn't want to give her pooch steroids. Cooking up a chicken broth  as a meal for Archie cured his skin rash. Archie couldn't eat vegetables as his allergy was to the sugar in vegetables. Raw chicken necks & wings are popular with small dogs, giving them bones for healthy teeth & gums, & are once again rich in nutrients.
Superfood 5. Eggs. As a Whole Food eggs are a perfect protein source & the yolks are a good food for a dog with skin conditions.
Vegetables can be added to the diet for bulk, added nutrients & balance of the wild. My son told me that wolves in the wild, devour the part of the beast they kill first, depending on the nutrients they need. It won't always be the organs or it might be different organs each time.

Testimony to a Healthy Dog.

My son was visiting with his dog Amika. Our dogs didn't socialise very well with visiting dogs, so Jordan locked Amika on the verandah. Amika heard Jordans' voice & jumped off the 1 story height verandah  onto the concrete path below. Responding to the dogs yelp & expecting the worst outcome, we took Amika to the vet.  Upon examination, Amika only sustained an Impacted Paw.
The wonderful outcome was also followed by the empathy our dogs showed to Amika while she was being restrained. Mia our kelpie cross approached Amika cautiously, started stroking & licking Amikas' nose. Mia walked passed Amika letting her smell her, lowering herself to show she wasn't a threat. After Amikas' recovery our dogs played as best friends.

 We have many customers who require different varieties of meat, whether it's aged, dry aged, fresh(not aged or hung to tenderise meat), grass fed or organic. We also produce a range of preservative free sausages. All mince is preservative free.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Tropical North Queensland

inspired our Pasta/Masta Class!

As a 14 year old visiting  Cairns & staying at the Y.M.C.A,  travelling with my sisters, 2 yr old brother, mum & dad by Sunlander, tripping around all the beautiful beaches & Tablelands, I vowed I would live in North Qld.  
That wasn't my plan when I met Stephen, but it culminated in my living in the North Queensland town of Ayr, for 12 years. We worked & raised our first 2 children outside of town until we moved to Brisbane 25 yrs ago. We often drove north to visit cairns or the tablelands or south to the Whitsundays. Last year, my daughter & I stayed at Palm Bay on Long Island. PARADISE!!!

While living in Ayr I learnt a few recipes from Stephens' Nonna & Zia. The pasta making was a new experience, using anything we could hang the spaghetti over (rods 'tween 2 chairs etc) to dry.

It takes a little mastering & is best to have an extra set of hands. Today, I have 3 extra sets of hands & it was all about Teamwork.
Jaimi, Nonna, Lily & camera shy Callum!
Eggs & Flour 

We had fun & enjoyed eating our work. Homemade Pasta has a very  light texture. It's delicious with a dob of butter, sprinkle of salt, pepper & parmesan cheese
Our first attempt at the dough was a disaster.
The dough was too wet!

Some chefs' use Semolina & double zero flour, but Nonna used ordinary plain flour when she showed me. The measurements Nonna showed me was a small bag of plain flour & 10 fresh eggs the hens laid in the back yard.

We used baking paper on the bench, for easier cleaning. Each child took a turn cracking the eggs into the flour. We stirred in the eggs & as it started to mix they all helped mix the dough. They put their hands into the flour, so the wet mixture wouldn't stick to their hands. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little flour at a time until you can kneed the dough. Eggs may vary in size, so the mixture can be inconsistent, that's when you add the extra flour, if it's wet.
Knead the dough until it feels silky & smooth. The longer you knead the dough the more aldente the pasta will be when you cook it.
I prefer it lighter, so I don't over-mix the dough.

We rolled the dough into a log shape & wrapped it in Plastic until we were ready to roll it. Give it 30 mins or longer.

The cutting & rolling out the pasta needs teamwork. Jaimi cut the dough & fed it through the rollers, Callum turned the handle, which needs precision, not rushing it. Lily caught the pasta as it came out of the rollers.

Each time we passed the sheet through the rollers we decreased the gap to make it the thickness we wanted to cook.

Then when we had the thickness, we ran it through the cutters on the machine. Once again, it has various cutters to produce the spaghetti shape you desire.

Now the grand-kids had a rest break, 
as it was exhausting work, kneading, behaving, listening.


Cooking up the pasta in salted, boiling water. My simple recipe to don pasta, is frying up diced onion, garlic & rosemary in butter, tossing it through the pasta with freshly grated Romana or Parmesan cheese. The grandkids love my Beef Bolongnaise Sauce. 

Feeling Tropically Inspired, fresh Fruit Salad with seasonal fruit is next.
Making our own pasta is very simple way of getting back to our roots. An age when we had chooks & vegetable gardens in almost every back yard. Most of my travelling experiences have been in Australia, but seeing many travel to Oz, I guess we've got the advantage of enjoying our home land & all it has to offer. 

Please ask questions if my instructions aren't clear. I would love to hear and reply to any comments. Monika

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Tantalising Tastebuds with Lebanese Cooking!

Another jaunt across town to Putia Restaurant at Banyo, a suburb I spent some time in as a kid, visiting my Oma & cousins. Putia is well worth the visit, very relaxing pretty location & the food is Delicious

Putias' Menu is based on very fresh, seasonal & local produce.Chef Dominique Rizzos' passion comes from her Italian Heritage,cooking Italian Cuisine but referring to her food as Mediterranean. It's an Organic Passion for Food & Dominique is a genuine, beautiful lady. 

So an introduction to the equally lovely lady Ada Daher! Ada describes herself as a home cook & like myself, loves cooking up a Storm for her Family. 

Again another culinary journey to a Mediterranean destination, Lebanon. After a browse through the established vegetable & fresh herb garden, I relaxed in the ambiance of the outdoor setting covered by a huge Poinciana Tree.

Beginning with a refreshing drink of home-made Lemonade & fresh herbed Punch, we were introduced to the other guests, donned aprons up then introduced to the order of the night. Starting with preparation, of ingredient of recipes that we would use later in the class. 

First preparing the dough for Honey Puffs, then the dough for the Spinach Pastries. Syrup for the Sweet Cheese & Honey Puffs.

The preparation of the vegetables next, slicing eggplant & frying. Chopping florets of cauliflower to fry for another dish. We all shared in the prep. Back at our work bench, we washed spinach & parsley, then chopped it finely. Plenty of garlic & onions, some lemons freshly juiced, sultanas,  pine nuts & Feta for the pastries. This mix could easily pass as a salad. 
The finished pastry reminded me of a similar one a friend made in smaller crescent shaped pastries filled with olives.

Frying up sliced Eggplant & mince for Scheik el mihshi. 

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce & Prawns.

Making Tahini was interesting, as the sesame paste gets thicker as you add the liquid. Knowing when to stop adding the liquid is the key. 
The Mediterranean recipes often call for Honey & Sultanas in the savoury food. Greek friends of mine always have finger food, such as the crescent shaped olive filled pastries, egg& sultana savoury pastries, Taramousalata (greek caviar dip)! YUM, YUM, YUM...

Halawat El jibni, Sweet Cheese, was a very interesting process & delicious. 
A first for me was eating Honey Puffs,
 scoops of gooey pastry dropped into hot oil,
 cooked then dropped into the sugar syrup prepared earlier. 
Apparently, a heavier texture compared to greek honey puffs 
& I thought similar to a doughnut pastry. 

But once again very enjoyable. 

Time to put together the Pasties with spinach & feta filling.
Having prepared the dough earlier, rolling it in a log, covered & resting it, we sliced it into pieces then learned how to roll, the thickness kneaded (needed), we filled the pastry with the prepared spinach mix & a scoop of soft feta. The pastries were then baked for 10 mins in the oven.

After layering up the Sheik el mihshi, eggplant, cooked lamb mince, tahini sauce, finely chopped tomatoes & parsley, then the Cauliflower with Tahini & Prawns, it was nearly time to taste the food.

When we started, I thought, pastry, deep frying, sweets, aahh, BUT it was a very well balance meal & delicious. 


Most of the flavour in the class was from garlic in the tahini sauce. I tasted the cooked mince & found it didn't have any seasonings in it & had wondered, why not use cumin or a spice, BUT the Tahini sauce added all the flavour it needed. A beautiful balance of flavours.

Thank you Dominique & Ada for a lovely night off.  
Now  a new meal, I cooked for a lunch with limited ingredients, that fell in with my Healthy Eating. 
Eggplant, Haloumi Cheese, Spinach, Capsicum & a drizzle of lemon juice. A finger food, I picked up the section, curved the eggplant & bit into the layers. 
Prep: Peeling the eggplant & sliced, fry it in butter, along with the capsicum & haloumi, layer & eat. 

Buon appettito!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tantalising Tastebuds! on Indian Cooking...

A day with the Charismatic May Isaac in Kenmore Hills, was again an enjoyable experience. It was a treat to myself, beginning with a drink, in a tropical setting by the pool & Oven Baked Vegetable Samosa's. 

After meeting the other guests, we were introduced into The Art of preparing Coffee & Tea in India.
As May demonstrates the procedure, she takes you on a journey into India, regaling memories of her childhood in India & her Venture outside into The Modern World.

May constantly transports you on a journey to India with the use of Herbs, Spices & food from different regions. After checking into the kitchen studio, a visit to the garden to pick seasonal herbs & spices. In a reasonably small area, there was a substantial array of plants. We were introduced to herb by crushing, tasting & smelling the foliage. After cutting stems, leaves, berries & fruit, May brought out a treat, a Palette Cleanser on a Beetle Leaf. It was the most delicious natural sweet treat I've tasted.

Returning to the kitchen a lesson on preparing perfect rice. There are hundreds of different rices, today's rice was Basmati.

" Spices & Herbs" peppers, cinnamon, star anise, brown cardamon, cloves, allspice berries, bayleaves, tulsie, lemon verbena, mint, paprika, borage (5 herb plant), vanilla orchid, mustard, ginger, tumeric, galangal, white tumeric, white wasabi, horseradish, apple mint, vietnamese mint, perpetual coriander, mushroom herb & more...

Salt was the next introduction, Himalayan, Black Indian Salt, tasting the salts for the different flavours. The pungent taste of a black salt was the sulphur content & tasted of boiled egg. You can imagine how this salt would add flavour to bland food, especially if you were short of ingredients.

May continued on by making a refreshing Iced Tea
 from our collection from the garden.

Prepared ingredients for a smooth cook-up makes life easier in the Kitchen. Chicken Curry is the first recipe we cooked, It's amazing the spices that go into this recipe. May explains how cooking the ingredients releases the flavours & aromas to perfect the final result. 

Prawn Vindaloo was next on the menu, this recipe originated from Goa  &  is Anglo-Indian. Easily adaptable with Pork or Chicken.

The group paired off into couples to prepare 4 Baked Fish recipes, wrapped in paper, banana leaves & foil.

Making Indian Breads took some energy in kneading. First we made Chapattis, then Puris. May prepared a potato & mince dish to be eaten with Puris. 

So the tasting began!  When the bread was cooked on a hot flat skillet, it was time to serve up the dishes. The Chicken was hot & spicy for me, but delicious! Couldn't fault the Prawns! After tasting the 4 Fish dishes, I preferred the Asian Style Fish in paper.  The Puris enveloping the mince & potato was very morish, likening it to hollow potato scallop filled with mince. 

Puris Aloo Masala "Spiced Potatoes"

My photos that follow will show you the process of making Puris & Chapattis.
The puris were kneaded, rolled, flattened with a rolling pin, then dipped into hot oil to fry. Mine is the flat one on the left, while the one on the right puffed up and separated when cooked.
The Chapattis from the same mix, were larger     fried on a hot flat skillet.

The finger in the dough, shows when the dough has been kneaded enough. When it doesn't spring back, it's ready to roll. 

My first experiment with new found flavours, were Poached Pears.

I cut my pears in half & cored them. Then added
a good splash of Dolcetta & Syrah, a fruity, ripe raspberry flavoured wine. A cinnamon stick, a Star Anise & a dried bay leaf (as far I know it was a bay leaf, but it had a lemon scented aroma).
I simmered & turned the pears twice, so they'd end up on their flat side, then reduced the Jus to a caramel, sticky gooey sauce. True to Low Carb High Fat, I served them up with Fresh Cream. 

After cooking most of my life with very basic flavour, I want to learn to experiment, but get to know the flavours of these different herbs & spices, know where they'll work well & gently enhance my cooking to excite the Palette! I love the smell of Star Anise, a lovely licorice smell.

May Isaac started her business with pre-packing herbs & spices specific to different Indian recipes. May hosts Indian Cooking Classes in the Kenmore Hills suburb of Leafy Western Brisbane.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Mango Chutney More to a Mango Tree than just a Great Cubbie!

Well as promised, my Mango Chutney recipe!

I pick our mangoes as the first ones start to ripen. This year it was a late season in The Burdekin/Townsville, so I assumed our mangos would be a little late in maturing.
Normally the Mangoes in North Queensland are well & truely finished by early December. Mangoes were a flourishing business in Qld but once the mangoes from the Northern  Territory flooded the market, it annialated the Qld market. 

Once the parrots start eating the mangoes, it's a sign to pick them. If I leave them to ripen on the tree, the fruit fly have a field day. so picked, washed in warm soapy water to remove any sap, drain, then process. 
I dry some in the dehydrator, peel & slice some into snap lock bags to freeze. Then I slice about 8 greens mango & 8 riper mangoes for my chutney. 
When I first made mango Chutney, I only used ripe mangoes as I thought it strange to use green fruit, but I since learnt that green mangoes are a common treat in different cultures. I can appreciate that now, so I venture into using green mangoes.The recipe I used, called for 1/2 green & ripe Mangoes.. 
I've been saving my jars, washing & drying them, then putting them through the dishwasher when I made the Chutney. I used to boil the lids & jars. 

8 green & 8 riper mangoes.
1 handful of salt
2 litres of black malt vinegar ( I used cornwalls)
1 kg of brown sugar
1 large knob of fresh ginger
1 whole clove of fresh garlic
250 gr of sultanas
1 kg of pitted dates
5 chillies 

Step 1. Peel & slice the mangoes into a saucepan. Sprinkle the salt over them, cover & refrigerate overnight. (when I'm busy this gives me a chance to come back to the recipe later, but if I'm prepared, I'll start cooking after several hours)

Step 2. Chop Dates, garlic, chillies & grate ginger. I removed the seeds from the chillies, but next time I added the seeds of 2 chillies, it wasn't very hot. 

Step 3. Rinse the mangoes lightly return to saucepan & add the malt vinegar & bring to the boil. 

Step 4. Add chopped dates, garlic, ginger, chilli, sultanas.
Cover with the lid & simmer gently until tender. Stir regularly to make sure chutney doesn't stick to the bottom & burn. 

Step 5. I simmer for about 1 hour & remove lid to allow cooking down the chutney (to allow moisture to evaporate)
Finally adding sugar, stirring occasionally to avoid burning sugar. cooking time is about 2 hours depending on consistency of the chutney. 

Step 6. Remove jars from the dishwasher while hot, so the steam will evaporate & jars dry. I spoon chutney into a jug to pour into the bottles. Then I place a piece of glad wrap over jar opening & seal with the lid.
As usual, I make changes depending on ingredients. I had some currant left from Christmas so I added them to the recipe. I cut back on the sugar, which made the chutney a little runnier, but didn't hurt the integrity of the flavour. A nice tart/sweet combination, rather than sweet. 
I'm off to do a jam making workshop at Putia in Banyo soon. So I'll learn the finer art of preserving & may find I'm doing it all wrong. For preserves to last, it's important to follow ingredients & measurements, but most of my recipes come from the kitchens of ladies of the Burdekin, who used recipes from their mums, not neccessarily written down.