Liquid Gold of the Chocolate Variety!!

Oh my goodness… Can anyone else hear the dawn chorus? Or is it just me….
So, everyone hold onto their seats because i have ground breaking news… i just found what could possibly be the yummiest liquidy goodness ever!!
Home-made hot chocolate syrup :O
I know, i know…I shall explain…

So. As some of you know, I finished studying last June and have been idly sitting around contemplating life ever since…. (oh wait… and job hunting of course) and have spent rather a lot of time looking at waste-free lifestyles and the likes!… For me personally, the idea of consuming more and more things every day that the world can never re-use, things that get dug into the ground and left there forever destroys my sense of peace in the world!… For example, i read a thing yesterday saying that every toothbrush ever made is either in, or headed for a hole in the ground where it will stay FOREVER!!!!….. I know… So needless to say it just doesn’t fit well with me.

So today, on yet another day when i was at home (actually researching a book I’m writing… long story, will tell you all about it one day)… when i was reading up on reducing waste and people who don’t buy anything that has packaging! Brilliant idea me thinks. Aside from the fact that i have a LOT of kids who may or may not need to move into a cave to attempt living rubbish free. There were a lot of useful points and things I’d like to start doing in my life but wait…There it was! The most beautiful recipe ever….

BEHOLD!…  *Enters suspenseful music here…..twiddle diddle deeeeeeeeee falala*

Instead of buying hot chocolate powder full of fillers and starches and the likes, you make your own syrup that will can sit in the fridge for weeks that you either add to hot water for hot chocolate ( or hot milk of course), or as i just did, add it to cold milk for a milkshake! Its divine. I’m not sure I’m even exaggerating when i say  i’m still trembling in my boots from excitement *side-note.. i am a rather over-exciteable person so this happens all too often 😉 *….but there’s more… you could it pour over your ice cream or pudding!… what more do i need to say other than that…
Unless all my blathering has made you want the recipe in which case… there is more to say and here it is….

Add…. 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup water to a pan and whisk vigorously. Add 3/4 cup of sugar (yes yes i know… it has lots of sugar, which i generally  struggle with but when ISNT hot chocolate a sugary treat anyway so read on my peeps…). Bring to the boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly.

Once its done, take off the heat and add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence (I personally LOVE vanilla, so didn’t scrimp at all on this note) and voila!.. Done… Nectar of the Gods…

Hmm.. i had best show you some pictures…. although if i added it to more milk now simply to take a picture for you guys I’d have to drink that too and i just had a whole glass just before and there are no kids around to carry the burden for me… so…. * imagine the milkshake for me will ya? * 🙂 )…..

*runs off to take some pictures*

Go on… give it a try and let me know what you think? I just told my kids they’re getting chocolate milkshakes with ice cream on top on the weekend when they’re cousins are over and they’re home from their dads and now they’re busting to get home *evil laugh*….
~Helen

Eeek… final note.. excuse the pictures of my bench.. I’ve been stewing plums and making banana muffins and all sorts and there’s a chance I’m better at the making stuff part than i am cleaning up as i go 😉 … meh… it’ll wait!

Enjoy!

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How lucky are we!!…

berries-peas-and-mandarinsDont get me wrong, i already knew the absolute delights of owning a vege garden but over the last few days the magnitude of it has really come to light for me.

As i sit here writing this im still covered in those shiny beads of sweat that comes from digging over a garden in 22 degree heat. I wasnt doing much, planting a few strawberry popcorn seeds that i was sent this week  and replacing one or two capiscums that hadnt quite survived their transplant, but still this weather is starting to get pretty warm. I’d taken a pot out to collect our garden peas as so of course, (as is essential) i tested a few to make sure they werent poisonous… you can rest easy that they were 😉 Then as i was so hot i ate a couple of mandarins off the tree. Then, as i already had the bowl, i figured i’d go and collect the strawberries from the berry patch to save time later and ended up finding not only strawberries but redcurrants, blueberries and the most amazing tasting raspberries i’ve ever tasted in my life too! Can i just say, having never really grown raspberries before, that they were the warmest and sweetest raspberries ever, so fresh you could practically taste the sap still seeping through its veins.

I mean what a life right!? How lucky are we to have few enough worries that we have time to grow our own fruit and vege. Also lucky enough that vege gardening is a choice for us and not a necessity. We have the luxury of being able to enjoy spending time in our garden, pottering around and watching life spring up all around us, without worrying whether we’ll have enough food to feed us, whether the crops will last the year through or whether we and our children are likely to starve!  Its just so easy to forget how lucky we are, but today was a vivid reminder.
I was reading an article yesterday on self improvement ( a topic i strive to actively work on regularly) and it asked the strangest question. “What is it in life that makes you forget to eat and poop!”… haha! Quite the interesting notion… am i right? 😛
Now have a think about that for a second. What is it in life that gets you so excited, or so distracted that you forget the essentials of life? For me, i’d have to say vege gardening is definately one of those things!  I mean ok, forgetting to poop would be rather awkward for us  adults but time and time again i spend so many hours in the garden that i’ll totally forget that its lunchtime or often that its nearing dinner time as well. That is until the kids casually come and ask me if they’re going to be getting any dinner lol. Thank goodness they’re mostly old enough to cook dinner for themselves 😉

Have a ponder to yourself tho… what is it that makes you forget to eat and poop? .. and get back, to me… i’d love to know!

***On a side note, while reviewing this blog I have been asked by my step daughter (6) to add a comment to my post saying that we are very worried that there is a hole in our berry patch fence and that a very naughty wren is getting in to eat our strawberries.  I’ve been told on very good authority that its essential you all know and that it is a desperate and dire situation. I’m sure you are all as concerned as we are.. but dont worry, Helen is on the case 😉

 

 

Peas, peas and pea pod soup?!

podsYou know how great it feels right? To head out into the garden to pick some home-grown garden peas? Well you wouldn’t believe it but today I did this for the very first time! Not to pick them of course, I did of course have a childhood, but I picked my very own garden peas!  I’m not sure how it even happened but through all my years of growing my own veg I always sort of deemed garden peas a waste of time. You only get a limited amount and even then, you end up with more pod than actual pea! Alas, this year we were in the new garden, space was bountiful and I found some old pea seeds in the bottom of my seed box and figure why not!…

Well, why not indeed! I just picked my first ever peas and they were amazing! Ok, there were quite a few that didn’t quite make it to the house but these sweet wee morsels made gardening peas completely worthwhile even if we only get a few. (Don’t panic though. I have a plan… I’ll tell you later).

So I brought them, podded them all (and yes, it is just as relaxing as they make out in the movies), but there they were… a whole bowl of pods ……

Pods, pods, and more pods!…

Dilemma I know… but for any of you that know me, I don’t love waste! I could have composted these yes, or dried them and used them in with the pea straw later but instead I decided to make pea pod soup instead!

Now I should mention that not only did I not like the idea of wasting the pea pods, I also didn’t like the idea of wasting the broccoli leaves from our broccoli harvest the other day either, so the idea was born… Pea pod AND broccoli leaf soup…. has there ever been a better idea…? (fyi, the answer is NO! 😉 )

So… what did I use?

25 pea pods

2-3 young broccoli leaves (mine were each about 25cms long, but avoid the tough variety that come further down the plant)cooking-pods

1 onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

Vegetable/Chicken Stock, enough to cover

A sprig of thyme (lemon thyme would also be great here)

1 slice of lemon rind (white pith removed)

knob of butter

salt

pepper

Warm the butter in a pan, add the onion and garlic to sauté. Once soft chop the pea pods and broccoli leaves (I removed the tough flowering end but it’s probably not essential). Chuck in the stock to cover all the veg. Now simmer on a medium heat for 45 minutes until everything is soft.

Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes before removing any thyme stems putting in a blender and blitzing like crazy until a smooth liquid. Then strain through a sieve and reheat.

Once warm you can either serve as is with crusty white bread or chill to have as a refreshing green summer soup.

A sprig of two of chopped mint through the soup or as a garnish is optional too depending on your love for mint.pea-pod-and-broccoli-leaf-soup

Voila!!  Green soup to write home about 😀

 

I have to say, having sat here, and downed a bowl, with a bread roll I’m feeling particularly full and satisfied. There really is something about pure, clean veg that just warms your cockles and charges you up aye. Very nice!

Now, as promised, my plan is to plant 1/3 of my garden in peas in late autumn so that I can make buckets and buckets of the stuff. Who knew waste products could taste so delicious! I can tell ya right now, I don’t imagine people a few hundred years ago would be wasting broccoli leaves and pea pods… time for a revival I say 🙂

 

 
**watch this space.. i brought in more peas today and ended up watching “The Good Life” Tv show from a thousand years ago.. (anyone else recall?) and have decided i want to make pea pod wine 😉 NICE!!