Thursday, April 29, 2010

Capsicum Crisis!

I planted three capsicum (bell pepper) plants last Spring, not expecting all three to survive or produce fruit. However, I have since discovered that capsicums do rather well in this part of the world, so not only did all three plants survive, they are all loaded with fruit and have been for at least the past two months.

It probably comes as no surprise then that we have capsicums galore! I am picking at least 10 every two to three days. It's simply too much! We've had capsicum with out meal almost every night, but I must admit that I cannot think of too many ways in which to cook capsicum apart from the odd salad, in pasta sauce, on pizza, roasted or stuffed. I suspect SJ is starting to tire of them, and I dont blame him. I've also chopped and frozen enough to last the next 6 months at least.

So, now I have a dilemma: What do I do with the rest?

I cant give them away to family as they all grow their own and are probably over-run with capsicums themselves at the moment. I brought a bowl full into work and tried to give them away to my work collegues but no one was interested, so at the end of the day I took the bowl full of capsicums home with me again.

That kind of irked me, actually. You can pay up to $6 per kilo for capsicums in the supermarket and no one wanted even one that was FREE. They are far more fresh and sweet than the capsicums you get from the supermarket too, so I'm a little perplexed. I know for a fact that none of them grow their own produce, so why so uninterested in some free food? Do they not want to be seen accepting free stuff?

So, I'm stuck with a whole bunch of capsicums and I dont know what to do with them. Does anyone out in blog-land have any fun, interesting and tasty VEGETARIAN recipes (or recipes that can be converted to vegetarian) for capsicums? Chutney or pickles, perhaps? Dip? Soup or sauce? A nice stuffed capsicum recipe even, one I havent tried already?

I'd be so grateful for any suggestions, and the recipes I successfully use I will share on this blog with a link back to the person who gave it to me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Scrapbook #1

[Scrapbook Page Completed April 2010]

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chickpea & Vegetable Casserole

Chickpea & Vegetable Casserole

1 tbspn olive oil
1 red onion, halved and sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 oz spinach
1/2 pak-choy, julienned
1 red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped
1 tbspn plain flour
450 ml vegetable stock
6 tbspn dry white wine
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 bay leaf
1/2 tspn ground coriander
1 tspn paprika
Salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in large, flameproof casserole dish and saute onion and garlic for 1 minute, then add spinach and cook until wilted.

2. Add the pak-choy and capsicum and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

3. Stir in flour and cook for a further 1 minute, then add stock, wine, chickpeas, bay leaf, coriander and paprika. Cook covered for 30 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.

Variation: If you're not much of a fan of coriander, replace it with nutmeg.

I know a lot of people would turn their noses up at the thought of having to eat chickpeas (unless you're someone like me who actually likes them), but this casserole is so delicious that even SJ, who would normally refuse to eat anything with chickpeas in it, helped himself to a second serving!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Book Thief + a Pay-it-forward Giveaway

Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Category: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback (Aus), 592 pages
Published: Australia, 2008

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is the story of Liesel Meminger's life in Nazi Germany during WWII, told from an original and interesting perspective.

The story begins on a train, where Liesel is sat with her mother and brother. She is on her way to meet her foster parents: Her mother has made the decision to foster Liesel and her brother to the Hubermanns in Molching. Liesel's father is missing, and her brother does not survive the train journey. At his funeral on a frozen winter's day Liesel finds in the snow "The Gravedigger's Handbook" and takes it with her. This is her first act of book theivery, but certainly isnt her last.

The story then continues through Liesel's life in Molching with her foster parents and friends (one a Jewish fist-fighter) as the effects of a hostile and brutal war begin to take its toll. Through hunger and air-raids Liesel's life is all about the books she steals and the impact that their words have on her life and the lives of the people around her.

This is a truly stunning book and it had me hooked from the first page. I knew from the moment I finished the opening chapter that this wasnt going to be your average hist-fic novel on WWII, but instead was going to be something special, heart-wrenching, and memorable. Zusak's choice of narrator works brilliantly: An ordinary story told in an extraordinary way. The only downside to the story of Zusak's book thief is that it had to end.


This is a book I really want to share, so I have decided to give away my pre-loved copy.

However, this will be a pay-it-forward giveaway: Once the winner has finished reading this book it would be most appreciated if they were to hold another pay-it-forward giveaway in the same fashion as this one.

If you want to go in the draw to win my used copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, then all you have to do is leave a message on this post stating that you'd like the chance to win it. Open to everyone, no matter where you live!

I'll announce the winner on Saturday, 1 May 2010.

Good luck and happy reading!

EDIT 23/4/10: If you do not have a blog or website you may still enter the draw to win this book and can pay-it-forward to a friend, reading circle, or RAC it to someone you know has it on their wishlist when you are finished. I'm not too fussed how the pay-it-forward aspect of the giveaway actually occurs, I'd just love to see this book shared around because it is that good.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Am back!

Took a weeks' hiatus and a short holiday on the coast: Feeling much better for it!

Real posts will return very soon: Have photos, recipes, and a book review to share, so watch this space!