Pumpkin Mania

Pumpkin Mania


Pumpkins are plentiful, reasonably priced and come in an assortment of varieties, that make this cheap, and nutritious vegetable handy for everyone to cook, freeze and share.

My favourite is always the pumpkin soup, and everyone can make this so easily, from very basic, which is pumpkin steamed or boiled, and mashed with seasoning and some form of liquid to make it soupy. The taste depends on the pumpkin. If you have a rich deep coloured, flavoursome pumpkin, you only need water or milk added to the mashed pulp to make a great soup. Serve with toast or garlic bread and everyone thinks you are a genius. Extra soup can be frozen easily in zip lock sandwich bags in single serving proportion, and you take from freezer, thaw and you have dinner.

You change the flavour of the soups by what you add with the pumpkin. Onions are always popular, so is carrots and celery. I always add garlic and ginger to the soup, and some bay leaves, a few cloves and sometimes curry powder or turmeric for extra flavour. You can also make the soup using stock made from a stock cube, or just water from boiling or steaming other vegetables or meat.

You can thicken the soup by adding some cornflour or flour mixed in water to stretch it out, and serve with garlic croutons made by buttering toast with minced garlic and adding some herbs and then chopping it into small pieces. You can top with a handful of grated cheese, and my favourite is sour cream or yogurt. A generous dollop changes the soup from ordinary to special, when also sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Everybody knows pumpkin soup, but not everybody knows Pumpkin dip, made by mashing the pumpkin and adding ginger, garlic and either sour cream or yogurt to make a tasty dip. You can also add a tin of mashed chick peas and beat it into the pumpkin with oil. Tahini can also be mixed with the pumpkin for a richer flavour and Tahini is highly nutritious as well as delicious. I add lemon juice or lime juice, or cider vinegar as well as salt and pepper, sometimes chilli powder as well. Experiment with what you add once you master the basic recipe which is pumpkin with seasonings.

Always when making a baked dinner, I bake the pumpkin whole. I cut it in half, horizontal slice, trim the bottom for stability, sit it in a sheet of foil, place it in a baking dish, add what I want onto the pumpkin…herbs, mixed vegetables, mince, bacon, potato, left over casserole or curry…and fold foil over and bake until the pumpkin is cooked. I check with a skewer. Then I fold back the foil and let the pumpkin brown before serving by cutting it into slices. Once I cooked the whole pumpkin as is, after Halloween in Korea, because the pumpkin was too expensive to throw away, and we all enjoyed generous slices of delicious baked pumpkin. I removed all the shelves except the lowest one and a whole pumpkin fitted happily into the oven.

Pumpkin scones are so easy to make. I grate the pumpkin and add the grated pumpkin to a scone recipe. The easiest recipe I know is mixing self-raising flour with cream, teaspoon of baking powder, add the grated pumpkin, some sugar and roll flat, and using a knife, cut into squares, arrange on tray, paint some milk on top before baking, and 220 degrees about 20 minutes or until done.  Damper recipe works well too. Flour and milk, add grated or mashed pumpkin, knead well and bake. Fried scones were very popular in the mines. It’s basically the scone recipe but instead of baking, put into hot oil and they will float when ready. Fried scones have a different flavour because of the oil and they are ultra-delicious hot or cold and were popular for smokos in the Aussie bush. Make sure the oil is hot, or the scones will go soggy. Cook just a couple first to get the oil right.

Pumpkin curry was my mother’s favourite. Add pumpkin chunks to fried onions and tomatoes, then the curry powder, with mustard seeds. You can buy a ready-made curry mix if you choose, or add curry powder with coconut milk to the pumpkins and fried onions. It cooks quickly and is ready to serve with steamed rice.

Americans love their pumpkin pie. It is so easy to make. Beat eggs in milk, add mashed pumpkin and pour into a pie dish or pie case. Using a slice of frozen pastry, I place it on a buttered pie dish, trim off the overhanging ends, and fill with the pumpkin mixture to which I have added sugar to taste, some cinnamon and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 180 degrees until the custard sets. If you wish, add another slice of pastry over and trim down for a closed pie. Decorate with a fork or pinching the pastry ends together. Glaze with beaten egg for a golden finish and serve with cream whipped with icing sugar and cinnamon for a delicious flavour.

Lately I have been eating chunks of delicious baked pumpkin. I cut the vegetables into chunks, potato into 4 pieces, carrot into circles, and yams and pumpkin into chunks. All unpeeled as the peel is nutritious. I put them in a bowl, generously add olive oil over, then a spoonful of Italian or mixed herbs, a spoon of garlic salt, half a cup of flour and I shake the bowl until the mixture has evenly coated the vegetables, adding more oil, flour or spices as needed.

Carefully place the now coated vegetables into a baking tray or dish, and bake 20 minutes each side. I serve with sour cream and sprinkle of fresh herbs, or mayonnaise or aioli and it’s a meal on its own or a snack. You can use breadcrumbs if you choose instead of the flour, or both flour and breadcrumbs for a different texture. This method is not greasy as the oil is already in the vegetables, and placing them on a sheet of foil makes it even cleaner cooking.

Pumpkins are cheap and plentiful and delicious and so easy to cook. They are also quick cooking. Try pumpkin chips instead or as well as potato chips, remembering that pumpkin chips cook faster, so either take them out when cooked or cook them separately.



How to make Homemade Sauerkraut in a jar


How to Make Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

How to Make Easy Homemade Sauerkraut in a Mason Jar

Makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts


What You Need

1 medium head green cabbage (about 3 pounds)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional, for flavor)

Cutting board
Chef’s knife
Mixing bowl
2-quart widemouth canning jar (or two quart mason jars)
Canning funnel (optional)
Smaller jelly jar that fits inside the larger mason jar
Clean stones, marbles, or other weights for weighing the jelly jar
Cloth for covering the jar
Rubber band or twine for securing the cloth


  1. Clean everything: When fermenting anything, it’s best to give the good, beneficial bacteria every chance of succeeding by starting off with as clean an environment as possible. Make sure your mason jar and jelly jar are washed and rinsed of all soap residue. You’ll be using your hands to massage the salt into the cabbage, so give those a good wash, too.
  2. Slice the cabbage: Discard the wilted, limp outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters and trim out the core. Slice each quarter down its length, making 8 wedges. Slice each wedge crosswise into very thin ribbons.
  3. Combine the cabbage and salt: Transfer the cabbage to a big mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over top. Begin working the salt into the cabbage by massaging and squeezing the cabbage with your hands. At first, it may not seem like enough salt, but gradually, the cabbage will become watery and limp — more like coleslaw than raw cabbage. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. If you’d like to flavor your sauerkraut with caraway seeds, mix them in now.
  4. Pack the cabbage into the jar: Grab handfuls of the cabbage and pack them into the canning jar. If you have a canning funnel, this will make the job easier. Every so often, tamp down the cabbage in the jar with your fist. Pour any liquid released by the cabbage while you were massaging it into the jar.

    → Optional: Place one of the larger outer leaves of the cabbage over the surface of the sliced cabbage. This will help keep the cabbage submerged in its liquid.

  5. Weigh the cabbage down: Once all the cabbage is packed into the mason jar, slip the smaller jelly jar into the mouth of the jar and weigh it down with clean stones or marbles. This will help keep the cabbage weighed down, and eventually, submerged beneath its liquid.
  6. Cover the jar: Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cloth and secure it with a rubber band or twine. This allows air to flow in and out of the jar, but prevent dust or insects from getting in the jar.
  7. Press the cabbage every few hours: Over the next 24 hours, press down on the cabbage every so often with the jelly jar. As the cabbage releases its liquid, it will become more limp and compact and the liquid will rise over the top of the cabbage.
  8. Add extra liquid, if needed: If after 24 hours, the liquid has not risen above the cabbage, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water and add enough to submerge the cabbage.
  9. Ferment the cabbage for 3 to 10 days: As it’s fermenting, keep the sauerkraut away from direct sunlight and at a cool room temperature — ideally 65°F to 75°F. Check it daily and press it down if the cabbage is floating above the liquid.

    Because this is a small batch of sauerkraut, it will ferment more quickly than larger batches. Start tasting it after 3 days — when the sauerkraut tastes good to you, remove the weight, screw on the cap, and refrigerate. You can also allow the sauerkraut to continue fermenting for 10 days or even longer. There’s no hard and fast rule for when the sauerkraut is “done” — go by how it tastes.

    While it’s fermenting, you may see bubbles coming through the cabbage, foam on the top, or white scum. These are all signs of a healthy, happy fermentation process. The scum can be skimmed off the top either during fermentation or before refrigerating. If you see any mold, skim it off immediately and make sure your cabbage is fully submerged; don’t eat moldy parts close to the surface, but the rest of the sauerkraut is fine.

  10. Store sauerkraut for several months: This sauerkraut is a fermented product so it will keep for at least two months and often longer if kept refrigerated. As long as it still tastes and smells good to eat, it will be. If you like, you can transfer the sauerkraut to a smaller container for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

  • Sauerkraut with Other Cabbages: Red cabbage, napa cabbage, and other cabbages all make great sauerkraut. Make individual batches or mix them up for a multi-colored sauerkraut!
  • Canning Sauerkraut: You can process sauerkraut for longer storage outside of refrigeration, but the canning process will kill the good bacterias produced by the fermentation process. See this tutorial from the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning instructions.
  • Larger or Smaller Batches: To make larger or smaller batches of sauerkraut, keep same ratio of cabbage to salt and adjust the size of the container. Smaller batches will ferment more quickly and larger batches will take longer.
  • Hot and Cold Temperatures: Do everything you can to store sauerkraut at a cool room temperature. At high temperatures, the sauerkraut can sometimes become unappetizingly mushy or go bad. Low temperatures (above freezing) are fine, but fermentation will proceed more slowly.

Vegetarian Lunch in a Hurry..Soup, rice, salad and fruit

French friends came by and stayed for Lunch. Together we put this awesome lunch on the verandah table….consisting of soup, Turmeric rice, salad and fruit platters….

Vegetarian Lunch

  1. Vegetable Soup…made with pumpkin, onion, sweet potato, Chinese cabbage, tomato, with fresh herbs
  2. Turmeric Rice…cooked in rice cooker with teaspoon turmeric, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamons and Kniffer lime leaves.
  3. Mixed leaf Salad..using a lettuce and leaves and flowers from my garden…nasturtium, marigold, sweet yam, spring onions, basil, rosemary, parsley and mint, edged with sliced tomatoes
  4.  Fruit platters…apple, orange, banana, dragon fruit, custard apple,  passion fruit…
  5. French Crepes….
  6. Cheese cubes
  7. Lemon Juice and green tea..

Lunch at Russell Island

Lunch at Russell Island

Awesome Vegetarian Meals….


This Roasted Eggplant and Pickled Beet Sandwich from Bon Appetit looks beyond good!! I love the addition of fresh herbs and pickled beets are always a thumbs up in my book!!

Beetroot and eggplant

This Southwestern Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is really easy to throw together and will sure to fill you up! An instant family favorite!

Love & Lemons is still one of my favorite blogs and this is why. I love the gorgeous simplicity of this Grilled Potato & Arugula Salad!

This BBQ Cauliflower Salad is genius……


Vegetarian Vietnamese Spring Rolls with peanut sauce

Vegetarian spring rolls2
  • 24 thin spring roll rice paper wrappers (Vietnamese or Thai, not the Chinese ones used for egg rolls)
Choice of fillings:
  • Rice vermicelli noodles
  • Red peppers (capsicum)
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Purple cabbage
  • Fresh herbs (I recommend a couple mint and/or basil leaves per roll)
  • Thin strips of lightly-fried tofu or seitan
  • Bean sprouts
  • Enoki mushrooms
  • Lettuce/Spinach
Peanut Sauce
  • ½ cup creamy natural peanut butter (or almond/cashew/sunflower butter)
  • ½ cup soy or coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp Tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (agave would work too)
  • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • ½ tsp chili powder (or 1 tsp crushed red chili pepper)
  • ¼ cup unsalted peanuts, chopped (optional)

vegetarian spring rolls

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the peanut sauce except the chopped peanuts, set aside.
  2. Prep all your veggies so that they are thinly sliced, and shorter than your wrappers by about 5-6 cm. (My wrappers are 16 cm wide, so I cut my veggies about 10 cm long.)
  3. If using rice noodles, decide how much of the noodles you will need based on the quantity of rolls you’re making and how many ingredients you plan on using. You can break the noodles off or use scissors to gently cut them away from the bigger piece. Fill a pot with just enough hot water to submerge your noodles. Regular hot tap water should be hot enough – it doesn’t need to be boiling. Let the noodles sit in the water until they are soft and edible, about 2 minutes. Remove the noddles, shaking them to remove excess water, and set aside.
  4. Wet a clean tea towel, ring it out and lay it flat on your counter top.
  5. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Transfer the water to a large bowl and let cool a couple minutes. drop a wrapper into the water, and let it soak for 30 seconds – any longer and it will begin to get too soft and/or tear. It should be transparent and pliable. Remove wrapper from the water and gently shake it to remove any excess water. Lay the wrapper flat on your tea towel.
  6. Place your mint and basil leaves near the top of the wrapper, as per diagram. Take some noodles and fold them back so that they fit within the top of the wrapper, as shown. Add 2-3 pieces of each vegetable on top, keeping everything tight and in a nice elongated pile. Tightly fold the top of the wrapper over the ingredients, and then fold-in each side. Continue rolling the wrapper onto itself to form the roll. Continue with remaining ingredients.
  7. Before serving, add the chopped peanuts on top of the peanut sauce that you plan on serving. If desired, cut rolls diagonally with a sharp knife before serving.

Corn Chowder with Cheddar



Shuck the corn, remove the silk, and cut off the stem end so the cob has a flat surface. Then stand each ear up on a cutting board and scrape off the kernels with a chef’s knife. Transfer the kernels to a bowl as you work.
Put the corncobs and 4 cups water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the water bubbles gently. Cover and cook, checking to make sure the cobs are always covered with water, until the liquid is quite cloudy, about 30 minutes. Discard the corncobs and transfer 3 cups of the broth to a medium bowl or saucepan. (Save the rest if you like; no need to wipe out the pot.)
Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the butter. When it melts and foams, add the white parts of the scallions and the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 1 minute. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to turn golden and the flour no longer smells raw, just a couple of minutes. Then add the cheese and stir until it just starts to melt, less than a minute.
Add the reserved corncob broth and milk and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir or whisk constantly until the flour is dissolved and the soup starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the corn kernels and bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the soup bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender and the soup has thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add a little more milk if you like a thinner soup. Taste, adjust the seasoning, garnish with the scallion greens, and serve.


6 ears fresh corn 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 scallions, white and green parts separated and chopped 3 cups whole milk, or more as needed

Persian Spiced Lentil patties



1 1/2 cups red lentils
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red chile, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 teaspoon advieh seasoning (available from specialist Middle Eastern shops) or ras-el-hanout
2 organic free-range eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup medium matzo meal
olive oil, for shallow-frying
  1. Place the lentils in a glass bowl, cover with double the volume of water, and cook in the microwave on high for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, simmer them gently in a pan over low heat until tender, topping up with water as necessary to stop them from drying out.) Drain any excess liquid. Set aside to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, gently cook the shallots in the olive oil until soft but not colored. Add the chile, cilantro and advieh and stir for a few minutes to coat the shallots in the herbs and spices. Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat well with a fork. Add the cooked shallots and the cooked lentils and mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the matzo meal to bind and set aside to swell for about 10 minutes.
  3. With wet hands, form the lentil mixture into golfball-sized balls and flatten slightly. Cook the patties in the olive oil for 4–5 minutes on each side until golden. Serve with homemade flatbread (or pita) and salad.
  4. If necessary, these patties can be cooked in advance and reheated, either in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or on a baking sheet in a warm oven for 5 minutes.

Onion Marmalade

onion marmalade


1 tbsp bacon fat
4 cups of onion, sliced
¼ cup water
1 ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Dash of salt and pepper


In a large skillet, fry up a slice of bacon until crispy. You can eat it on the side as you make this marmalade with the leftover bacon fat OR just use 1 tbsp of saved bacon fat from the fridge. Your choice- to snack or not to snack?
Once the bacon fat is nice and hot, throw the onion slices in and stir around making sure the fat evenly coats the onions.
Lay a heavy medium –sized skillet lid directly on top of the onions for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This helps speed up the cooking process of the onions.
Stir in ¼ cup of water into the onions, and then cook covered (with a lid that fits now) for 40-45 minutes depending on your stove temp. I like to stir the onions every 8-10 minutes to get beautiful browning. *The last 15 minutes you really gotta keep an eye on them. Caramelizing onions can be tricky.
Mix in the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and salt + pepper, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. The mixture should become thick and gooey, with very little moisture.
Store contents in a tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Makes about ½ cup, but this recipe can be easily doubled.

Potato Bakes

Potato galettes

There are so many variations you can make with potatoes that simply serving boiled or mashed potato every day is so basic.

Here par boiled potatoes are sliced and arranged in piles painted with melted butter sprinkled with sage, oregano, cumin, parsley, garlic salt/granules/crushed garlic…in fact any spice or condiment or herb…placed in muffin trays, paper cups, paper circles, baking tray…and simply baked until golden or even heated through if the potato is already cooked.

You can use raw potato slices but this needs to be baked longer..30 mins to 45 mins depending on size

Do the same using mashed potato to which herbs and butter are added.

Serve as a side dish


Serve as a Vegetarian Dinner with a side salad


Curried Lentil Soup


(Serves 4 as a main course)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (1 large) shallots, minced
  • 1 cup (1 large or 2 medium) carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 heaping teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
  • Roasted cashews or pepitas, for garnish (optional)
  • Toasted coconut, for garnish (optional)


  1. Dice the ginger and vegetables. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and then add the ginger, garlic, shallots and carrots. Cook, stirring often, for 7-8 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. Add the curry powder, stir and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, the water, 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and the lentils and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils and carrots are soft, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup, until very smooth, with an immersion blender or standing blender. Return the soup to the pot (if using a standing blender) and add most of the dried cherries and cilantro (save some for garnish). Taste and add salt, as needed.
  4. Pour the soup into bowls. Drizzle in the remaining coconut milk. Garnish with remaining cilantro and dried cherries. Add nuts or toasted coconut for garnish, if you like. Serve.