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Recipes

…variables include oven brand, temperature and hotspots, ingredients- ripeness, sweetness, fat quantity etc. and, diets are not a one size fits all although a lot of the basics would be the same across all body types.

Before MasterChef, I was never one to take recipes too seriously. I did respect them of course, but wanted to create my own thing and often with whatever ingredients I already had access to. When I cooked for friends, they would often ask me for my recipes, and I honestly could only give them a rough list of ingredients – mostly without measurements. I was and still am someone who tends to go by taste – constantly testing for balance. Only during shooting for MasterChef did I set out to write detailed versions of what I was creating with a purpose to allow for accurate recreation of those dishes.

And it is also, absolutely necessary for testing what I’m sending out to you guys!  This is also the reason you’ll most often see weights of ingredients rather than cups and teaspoons etc. as it is more consistent and takes variable volume and density out of the equation!

Hint – invest I a set of digital scales, they take up very little space but are an essential and easy to use kitchen addition!

The other thing I did in the MasterChef house was study, read, and study and read some more. Reading other cookbooks is not only inspiring, but they help you to understand why flavour combos and pairings work, and the theories why others may work too. Both reading and writing recipes has taught me a lot about my own cooking process, but most of all it has taught me to trust my gut.

What we all need to remember is that all recipes, including those you find here, are created and tested in kitchens that are not our own, and with ingredients gathered from thousands of different locations. If while you’re cooking something doesn’t taste quite right, or something isn’t combining properly, or something seems perfect 15 minutes before the recommended cooking time is up, you need to trust your instincts. Adjust it to what suits you in that situation. If my recipe says 180degrees for 45 minutes but in your oven, you can see it bordering on burning at 35, take the dang thing out of there or rotate it and turn down the temperature!

The same goes for trying new diets. You may be recommended to try something new for health benefits, or you may choose a different lifestyle for a whole range of other reasons. You’ll be pleased to know, many of the fundamentals across multiple diets are the same – they definitely all want the same healthy, thriving, optimal outcome for you. But not every rule in a diet can work for all of us. It is equally important to listen to your gut in these situations. Always adjust them, to fit your individual needs. While this can be difficult if you’re new to a diet, and even more difficult if you’re don’t know where to begin; it can be made easier by gathering your info from a wide variety of sources. Do a little bit of reading, or a lot, then trial things within your own eating habits. And listen to what your body is telling you, please! For more tips on substitutes for food staples, check out the bottom of each of my recipes!

This Banana Bread recipe is a great one to examine as being a guide – I’ve cooked it several times consistently, but trying it in another oven, I needed to lower the temperature and increase the time to ensure the inside had enough time to catch up to the quick browning outside. 

Elena xox

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Family Food

Here’s a thought… well, a few, in the form of questions…

  • How long does it take you to read the ingredients on the back of a food product bottle, jar or packet?
  • How long does it take you to decipher what the ingredients are?
  • Do you recognise them all?
  • Are they natural?  
  • What does ‘natural’ mean, legally, where this product was made?
  • Are they numbered?  
  • How long does it take you to research what the numbers mean? 
  • Do they mean the same thing in the origin of where the product is made by comparison to where you live and eat?
  • How long does it take you to research the source of the ingredient?  
  • Do you know where they came from?
  • Do you know how the ingredient was treated during its life or the impact their growth had on the environment, for animal or fruit and vegetables, spices, herbs etc.?

If the label listed these conditions would you still choose to consume it?

Seriously, all the research, even trying to answer the above questions would take me more time than it does to cook whatever they’re trying to sell me. Plus by being responsible for my own cooking, I won’t have any of the health, environmental, ethical, economic concerns that come along with whatever is on the label and in the product…

How long does it take you to roughly chop a bunch of ingredients and throw it into the slow cooker? Or into a food processor if you can’t be bothered dicing? Maybe 15minutes, if you were really taking your time… throw in a couple of other ingredients, herbs and spices… another 10-15minutes of cooking attention, let it gently blip away for several hours, and then bottle it up for months worth of sauce?

How long did that take?  

A fraction of the time it took to translate and comprehend a label, no doubt…

This is not to disrespect all labelled products; there are more and more available these days that are working hard to undo all the naughty and very cheeky work done previously. These products have ingredient lists that are clear, concise, organic, accessible good for you and, they hold their place regarding fast meal prep, family friendly, flavour bombs and convenience. And sometimes these quality ingredients are even bottled at their optimum for us to use throughout the year, even out of season – awesome, I’m thinking passata, what a wonderful, glorious bottle of deliciousness!

So, they can serve an appreciative purpose in our busy lives.  

But, if we focus on making more of our own things from scratch, we are more in control of what we’re putting into our bodies. We can rely on jars, bottles, and packets less and less. There are many environmental factors that can affect our health which is out of our control, so why not take back control, of what is within our reach? Let’s do it, together!  

I’ve put together a recipe for Green Curry Paste and Prawn and Eggplant Curry. This is one of my favourites and the epitome of cooking from scratch AND is possible for ALL levels of cooking experience. 

Let’s cook and eat REAL FOOD!!!

xox Elena

PS Naturally packaging in the form of skins, stems, roots etc. all have multiple purposes too, unlike the cans, plastics, glass etc. that takes more time and energy to breakdown and reuse. Keep an eye out for my waste tips at the bottom of each recipe.

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