Monday, 24 June 2013

Thick Fridge Soup

I like soup.  Thick, hearty soup is best.  Soup that uses up bits languishing in the fridge is great, too! Today's soup was a bit of a pot-luck effort. 

It worked quite well and was enjoyed as a very late lunch, shortly before we collected Vaughan from school!

I didn't use a recipe as such.  I chopped a large onion and fried it, then added:-

125g dried red lentils
125g dried split green peas
125g dried barley
approx. 2 cups of mixed frozen vegetables
approx. 1 cup of frozen green beans
approx. 600g of chopped pumpkin
approx. 1/2 bunch of silverbeet, roughly chopped
10 cups water
10 generous teaspoons of chicken stock powder

The mixture was brought to the boil in my large (inner) thermal cooker pot, then simmered for around 15-20 minutes.  At that stage the pot was transferred to the thermal cooker, where the pot lid was put on and all locked down for later enjoyment. 

By the time we ate it, the soup had been in the thermal cooker for around 5 hours.  Everything was nicely done and I stirred a bit before serving, to mush the pumpkin through - because that's how I like it!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Chilly Chilli Con Carne!

It was very c-o-l-d when I woke up this morning.  0 degrees at 7am and by 9:30am it was only 1 degree. Thankfully by midday the temperature had increased - to a whole 8 degrees! 

Chilli con carne seemed an appropriate dinner choice, given the chilly weather!

I often use my thermal cookers at home, particularly when I know the evening will be busy.  There is a chilli con carne  "recipe" here with a YouTube video to show the method, which is fairly straight-forward.

I didn't actually use that recipe and my ingredients vary depending on what is on hand.   Grated carrot and zucchini are often included but we don't have either at the moment so this time I used:

500g lean mince
1 large onion (chopped)
1 small red capsicum (chopped)
1 large yellow capsicum (chopped)
2-3 sticks celery (chopped)
1 tin diced tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin brown lentils
1/2 cup dried lentils
1 tin water
4 teaspoons beef stock powder
1/3 large jar of tomato paste (approx.)

Before we moved to Victoria, I bought taco seasoning in bulk.  I used the last few teaspoons of that mix today, so added a slurp of sweet chilli sauce also.  There is no evaporation in thermal cooking, so I often add dried legumes to the mix for thickening and extra goodness.

While the meat sauce was bubbling away, I prepared steamed rice in the smaller top pot using the instructions here.  At 10:30am everything was tucked into the outer insulated pot, ready to be revealed much later at dinner time (around 7:00pm). 

My creation was very well received.  The mix easily made eight generous servings.  As well as what was eaten tonight, two serves have been frozen for night-shift dinners and two smaller portions are in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch

Monday, 17 June 2013

Themal Cooked Steak Pudding ...

I've wanted to make steak pudding for ages.  (Vaughan is quite fussy, so I omitted the kidneys from my version).

The suet was purchased and steak defrosted  but we spent yesterday in the forest, so had (more) soup and toasted sangas for tea instead!

It's been rather cold here today, just the right sort of weather for staying indoors and conducting kitchen experiments. As experiments go this was an interesting one. I haven't ever made a steak pudding before, so was pretty chuffed with my first effort. I half-expected it to stick on turning out but it didn't, so looked quite impressive on the serving plate.

The family taste-testing verdict was a bit ho-hum. Surprisingly Vaughan ate the meat and liked it. However no-one was greatly keen on the "doughy bit" and various modifications have been suggested for my next attempt.

Generally a thinner pudding would be preferable - with a bit more gravy (though I tend to think Vaughan only ate the meat because there wasn't much liquid). Oh, well!

Chicken and Corn Soup (thermal cooked)

I've made a lot of soup in my thermal cookers over the past few weeks.  All our favourite soups (minestrone, potato/leek, pea/ham, pumpkin and others) have transitioned successfully to thermal cooking - so one of my thermal cookers stays on the bench permanently.

It's been a long time since I made chicken and corn soup.  I thought Vaughan may have liked it - which was wishful thinking on my part but at least he tried a couple of spoonfuls before asking for noodles instead!

There is no real recipe.  I fried a chopped onion and then browned four thigh pieces (skin removed).  The large pot was then half-filled with water (with some chicken stock powder), brought to the boil and left to thermal cook for around four hours.  Before I went to bed, I removed the meat from the bones, added two cans of creamed corn and put the pot in the fridge overnight. 

The next morning I reheated the soup to boiling point and put the large pot back into the thermal cooker.  The smaller top pot was also filled with boiling water.  Once it was fitted into place, I tucked a pillowcase into the water, to soak up some of the water while still providing a heat bank - and hopefully prevent sloshing while in transit.  I also placed another pillowcase on top of the metal lid (between it and the outer thermal pot lid). 

Happily there was no water transfer between the two pots while we were driving along forest roads - so my spur-of-the-moment method worked!  The soup was super (souper?!) hot at lunch-time, served in our insulated stainless steel mugs.  Success all round!

I purchased a bag of eight chicken thigh pieces for $5.90 from the supermarket (but only used four for the soup).  We buy many of our groceries from Aldi and their creamed corn is $0.99 a can.  Total cost for a huge potful of wonderful home-made soup was probably around $5.50 - a definite bargain!