Blog Baby!

number 5:

Blog Baby has come of age! As well as the day I head to Melbourne for my weekend of La Trobe University cooking classes, today is my Blog Birthday!! I started ye olde blogge exactly 5 years ago today, in Melbourne.

In fact, here it is again…

“May 28, 2005. Welcome to my new web log (Blog). I’m in Melbourne at present, doing my twice-a-year Australia-wide teaching thang, and doing a bit of chilling out between teaching venues.

Since this is only day one of my Blogging life (I’m a veritable Blog Baby), I should slip in a few great photos of the early part of this tour, all taken by my good friend Radha Caran, who kindly drove me to all my country Victorian venues.

We started with a small, intimate class at Holmesglen Tafe in Moorabbin.
A highlight of the day was the fabulous laksa, shown here in all its glory.

Love that laksa!:

But my favourite was the succulent eggplant, red pepper, tomato, kalamata olive and capers dip from Sicily called Caponata. It was drizzled with some lovely organic Australian olive oil, strewn with fresh basil leaves and scooped up with crisp-toasted ciabatta bread. Heaven!

caponata:

Next was a home cooking class near Ballarat. In this picture, the milk is just about to be transformed into panir cheese.

Ballarat Home Class:

Lunch was a work of art. That’s hot and sizzling haloumi steaks on top of toasted pine-nuts, roasted red peppers and green salad leaves, on top of crusty bread, alongside scrambled panir, savoury pancakes with avocado salsa, and poories.

Ballarat Luncheon:

Next stop was Wangaratta, affectionately called the “Wang”. My class with 56 ecstatically enthusiastic “Wang-ites” at Goulburn Ovens Tafe was a real hit. Here’s a few fired-up attendees doing a bit of mis-en-place.

Wangaratta mis-en-place:

But wait…there’s more. Lunchtime was a real blast, with waiters and table service. You can see they were all really having fun – and that’s only one table out of two! Could this be the world’s longest vegetarian dinner table?

Yummo!:

A great day is never complete without a book signing. I sold my entire load of books, and even had some orders for more. (Check the date – Ed.)

books.JPG:

Next day I cooked a special lunch with the year 12 girls at Methodist Ladies College in Kew. It was a regular event for the girls, where each time a Celebrity Chef gets to cook a fabulous meal with the budding chefettes for 50 special guests. Notable on the VIP table were Ian Parmenter of ABC TV cooking fame, and the well known and well-loved Elizabeth Chong. They congratulated me on the meal. Elizabeth graciously drove me home.

That night I flew to Sydney, where I taught a Vegetarian Barbecue class in Glebe the next morning and a great home class in Gerringong, near Nowra the day after. Boy was I wiped out!

I took a well-appreciated rest with my parents in Sydney, visited my daughter and grandson, and laid low for the next cooking wave.

Canberra’s Cooking Co-ordinates in Belconnen was next stop. The chirpy upbeat Saturday morning crowd thoroughly enjoyed the menu:

Soft Cashew-Studded South-Indian Steamed Semolina Breads (Rawa Idli,
Spicy Hot-and-Sour Toor-dal Soup (Sambar),
Fresh Coconut Chutney,
Persian Gulf Curry of Roasted Potato, Cauliflower Tomato and Panir Cheese,
Fresh Basmati Rice,
Udaipur Spicy Stuffed Potato Triangles, (Samosas)
Hot, Sweet & Sour Eggplant Pickles,
North Indian Carrot Halava.

I returned to Sydney that night, and next day did one last sydney gig, a laid back dinner party in the home of Jude, a seasoned chef in her own right, with her lovely friends. A fantastic end to a busy jaunt in NSW!

That brought me to a very chilly Tasmania. Hobart was a grand success! I taught another edge-of-seat class at Drysdale Tafe on Collins Street. A big ‘thank-you’ to all the staff there for their warmth and hospitality!

Panir Galore: Here's a gigantic block of fresh panir cheese that we made at Drysdale Tafe.

Here’s the menu I shared with my very enthusiastic Hobart groupies:

Moroccan Bean & Vegetable Soup (Harira),
Pan-warmed Wheat Turnovers Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Sundried Tomatoes (Quesadillas),
Israeli Warm Salad of Roasted Pumpkin, Spinach and Zhoug,
Mock Fried Crab Cakes with Spicy Thai Peanut & Cucumber Relish,
Moist and Savoury Vegetable-studded Semolina Pudding, (Upma)
Tex-Mex Corn Salsa,
Epiphany Doughnuts in Lemon-scented Rosewater & Orange-Blossom Syrup.

Pictured above is a massive piece of homemade cheese (panir) that found it’s way, all golden brown and succulently deep-fried, into the Moroccan Harira.”

Wow! say’s I. Nothing much has changed in 5 years.

Elephant Apples

Susie Batt from Queensland, Australia wrote:

“Hello Kurma. I live in Cairns Queensland. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes that you share. I love to cook and especially love to share meals with friends, and your recipes always go down a treat.

I also like to use what is fresh and readily available to me so, I’m always on the
lookout for local produce. Lately I have become aware of elephant apple
trees. The local council has used them in street plantings and there is also a lovely large tree at the botanical gardens.

elephant apple:

After some research I found that this tree originates from India and
the green fruit is used to make chutneys, although I have not been able to find
a recipe, so I was hoping you might be able to help me, if you have any
knowledge of this fruit and it’s culinary uses. I do look forward to hearing any suggestions; thank you for a great inspiring
blog.”

My reply:

Hello Susie, I’ve encountered this fruit in India. Elephant apple is also known as Bael fruit, matoom, Bengal quince, golden apple, holy fruit, and stone apple. I used to drink fresh ripe Bael fruit juice in Mayapur for breakfast. The fruit is also used for curries.

The tree is also very medicinal. Juice extracted from the leaves is given to relieve the symptoms of asthma and fever. Tea made from the flowers is used to cleanse eye infections. Tea made from the root are used to relieve heart palpitations, indigestion, bowel inflammations and to stop vomiting and relieve nausea.

Here’s a link to a nice chutney recipe.

And here’s more information about Elephant apples.

The Return of Mr Green Thumb

You may have read and enjoyed my green blog about New Govardhana Farm and one of its gardeners extraordinaire, Trev. Well, he’s back with more photos of the beautiful gardens of the Hare Krishna Farming Community and Temple just outside of Murwillumbah, Northern New South Wales.

delicious oranges:

These are huge, juicy oranges in the garden managed by Ian for the last 20 years. And this is Ian.

Ian:

Ian supplied the temple with copious amounts of flowers and fruits. Unfortunately Ian had to retire from his duties due to health problems, and he now resides in Port Elliot, South Australia, with his daughter.

the Bill:

Replacing Ian is Bill, who’s back at the farm after a ten year absence in Perth. He has taken on a lot of Ian’s duties, like mowing, whipper-snipping, tree trimming and composting. He is doing his best to maintain the beautiful garden Ian
established.

but wait, there's more (veg):

Here’s a selection of produce: different varieties of lettuce, Fordhook silverbeet, chilies, bittermelon and lemons.

Cavendish bananas:

These are Cavendish bananas grown by my old friend Lagudi, a keen gardener at the farm for over 25 years.

Lagudi:

And here’s the man himself, the irrepressible Lagudi, approaching 70 years of age but still going strong.

good morning, Mount Warning:

A view through the garden showing the tip of the famous Mount Warning, 1156 metres high. It’s the very first point on the Australian mainland to receive the rays of the morning sun.

Fordhook Giant:

Healthy Fordhook silverbeet (Swiss chard to all my US readers).

prolific chilis:

An amazingly productive chili bush.

drip-fed lettuce:

This is lettuce grown in a weed mat, with T-tape drip irrigation under the weed mat. Very ingenious.

more crisp drip-fed lettuce:

More lettuce in weed mat.

another selection:

Another selection: Tomitoe tomatoes, rainbow silver-beet, lettuce and lemons.

Wwoofers:

Meet Jai Rama from Kenya, and Mario from Australia (Eugene Levy’s doppelganger!!) both happy Wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms). For just 4 hours work a day they get free basic accommodation and three sumptuous traditional Hare Krishna vegetarian meals a day. What a deal!

OMG

caption anyone:

And ROFL, LOL while I’m at it. I thought Indians were good at this, but it seems Pakistan does it better. BTW, I hope that’s the back of the train.

Would anyone like to come up with a caption for this photo?

Afiyet Olsun!

I was reading my old travel essays today, and especially enjoyed re-reading my Turkish adventures.

spice bazaar:

My old friend S from Turkey fondly remembered my cookery adventures in Istanbul also.

He offered to translate some of my recipes into Turkish. We tried installing Turkish fonts, but it was incompatible with this blog, so he kindly transliterated the text. Tesekkur ederim!

I appreciate that this will have little appeal for those unable to actually speak Turkish, but if there any Turkish readers out there, I wish you Afiyet Olsun!

Mayapur stili Sebzeli Hamurlar (Samosa)

Bir defasinda birisi soyle demisti:

Memory Lane – Adelaide 1972

Kurma Adelaide 1972:

My dear old friend and Godbrother Rama Dasa sent me this photo yesterday. The place is Adelaide, it’s 1972, and I’m 19 years old. I am ‘doing time’ in the early Adelaide branch of the Hare Krishna Movement in South Australia.

This period of my life, albeit only a few months, was very ecstatic. We lived in a little cottage on the outskirts of the Adelaide Hills; number 1 Rossington Avenue, Myrtle Bank to be precise. For some reason I’m able to remember all the addresses of the places I stayed in those wonderful pioneering days.

The garden – the whole neighbourhood, in fact – was full of amazingly aromatic rose bushes. Our tiny temple would be constantly adorned with vases full of them.
Dipak, the head-priest and my old mentor (pictured below) was a professional florist before becoming a Hare Krishna. In fact he still is a professional florist – ‘to the stars’ – and well-known throughout North America.

Dipak in prayer:

We would rise early, way before dawn, and chant on our prayer beads. That’s me, top picture, pacing in the garden as the sun rose. After a simple breakfast cooked by Dipak, we would venture out into the streets of Adelaide chanting on musical instruments and distributing Back to Godhead magazines.

After a fruit-break lunch (Dipak gave us each an allowance of 5 cents to buy whatever fruit we liked – ‘knock yourselves out fellas’) we’d chant and distribute again, all afternoon. Then we’d return to the temple for a shower, dinner, more chanting, an evening class, hot milk and early rest. The monastic life agreed with me.

I especially loved those Adelaide days – my health was excellent, I had loads of energy, and I developed a real taste for the austerity of early rising, which I still maintain today. What an auspicious and edifying way to spend one’s youth. I don’t regret a second of it.

One We Blogged Earlier

Pip from Alexandra in Victoria wrote:

“Hello. My children will eat most raw vegetables and salads, but
dislike nearly all meals that I make with cooked vegetables. Can you recommend
any of your recipes that I can try to get them interested again? Thank you.”

vegie barbecue:

My reply:

“Thanks for your letter. Without knowing what the children like and your specific circumstances it is a little hard to exactly answer your question. But if you go to my website, and visit the RECIPES page, then scroll down, all the titles listed there are linked to a recipe.

I’ve selected some vegetable-based recipes from that list that I would strongly suggest you look at. Go to the recipe page, and click on any of these for some sure-fire kid-pleasing vegetable fun. Alternatively, copy the recipe title from the list below and paste it in the SEARCH box on my blog home page.”

Assorted Crisp Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras),

Barbecued Haloumi and Char-grilled Asparagus with Salsa Verde,

Barbecued Idaho Potatoes with Parsley Pesto,

Barbecued Pumpkin with Mango Salsa,

Barbecued Skewered Baby Okra with Sage Butter,

Barbecued White Sweet Potato with Fresh Corn Chutney,

Brussels Sprouts, Potatoes & Peas with Sour Cream,

Cauliflower and Potato Curry, North Indian-style,

Creamed Spinach with Fresh Curd Cheese (Palak Panir),

Crusty North Indian Masala Potatoes with Cashews,

Eggplant & Panir Cheese in Spicy Tomato Glaze,

Green Curry of Vegetables & Fried Tofu,

Khichari (Melange of Seasonal Vegetables, Lentils and Basmati Rice),

Mixed Vegetables in Creamy Gujarati-style Karhi Sauce,

Oven-roasted White Sweet Potato with Fresh Corn Chutney,

Panir Cheese Steaks with Salad Greens on Crusty Bread,

Pumpkin Soup,

Simple Carrot and Ginger Soup,

Succulent Gujarati Pumpkin,

Succulent Mixed Vegetable Balls in Herbed Tomato Sauce, (Kofta),

Sweet & Sour Dal Soup with Mixed Vegetables,

Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Salad (Insalata Caprese),

Vegetable Soup.

Eggless Orange Cake

Baking has never been my forte. But the recent acquisition of a new Bundt-style cake tin propelled me to make an eggless orange cake last weekend. I dug up four recipes, and created my own.

First I creamed 200g of room-temperature butter with 180g raw caster sugar. I splashed in a splosh of pure vanilla extract, and folded through the zest from 3 large navel oranges for an intense citrus flavour. Then I added 200ml of milk and 200ml of yogurt. I happened to have some ‘citrus cheesecake’ yogurt in the fridge, but plain would have been fine.

Then I sifted 3 cups of self-raising plain cake flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder and a smidge of salt. I folded it all together and spooned it into a large Bundt cake tin. I baked it on 180C until it rose and darkened, then lowered the heat and cooked it some more until an inserted knife came out clean. Then I removed it and allowed it to cool.

cake still-life:

The sponge was soft and bouncy. Excellent! I heated 3 tablespoons orange juice with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and added it to 200g icing sugar and another heaped tablespoon of orange zest. I poured over the icing, spread it the best I had (couldn’t find my palette knife) and it was done.

orange cake action:

Too Hot to Bear, Too Sweet to Resist

‘Too Hot to Bear, Too Sweet to Resist’…That’s the famous chutney mantra. So much chili that it’s unbearable, but so sweet and tasty that you can’t stop eating it. A sort of culinary masochism. I was even thinking of designing a t-shirt with it on. But I digress…

Cooking is a form of relaxation for me, especially when I’m not too ‘cooked-out’ from teaching, if I’m home alone, and in the mood for some spontaneous kitchen adventures. These rare circumstances all converged last weekend – my son and father were both away on ‘sleepovers’. So I took advantage.

I surveyed the scene: plenty of fresh chilies (the last of the season) and some super-ripe tomatoes. Tomato chutney!

assembly line:

I blanched the tomatoes, peeled and chopped them, heated a little olive oil in a saucepan, and toasted some cumin seeds until they were fragrant. I added the chopped fresh chilies – fiery red savinas and yellow habaneros – and added them to the pan.

the chutney begins it's long journey:

Not illustrated here are the other ingredients I used: a tiny piece of cinnamon stick, a small handful of organic sultanas, and a smidge of sea salt. I reduced the chutney way down before adding the final ingredient: a moderate handful of organic raw sugar.

it's too hot to bear but too sweet to resist:

And there it is; hot, sweet, nose-tingling and irresistible. A bit like me (not).