Museli – For a much loved friend (as well as for me)

Breakfast this morning - My museli packed with my favourite things!

Friday’s simple sushi making went well and loads of kids now know how to make Kappa Maki and even better, just about everyone tried some! Emi reminds me of two things. Make sure your rice is evenly spread to the left and right edges of your nori seaweed and that you use a wet knife to gently cut your sushi! It does really, really help if the knife is very sharp as well. Thanks for all the help from teachers and parents – I really enjoyed it and hope everyone else did. Our next workshop will be fresh soups for year 5!

We have some pretty fussy (or shall we say discerning) eaters in our house. Cereals can be tricky. Three of us love porridge. One of us loves Special K with red fruit. I find it way too sugarly for my tastes. Some of us quite like  the Dorset Cereals – one of us picks out all the raisins. What I really like is to make my own cereal. I make it mainly for me in a purely selfish sort of way. I put everything in it that I adore. My Museli is cram full of my favourite dried apricots, roasted hazelnuts, shreds of coconut, dried mango and cranberries. And organic rolled oats, bran flakes and maybe a shredded weetbix or two. I put in dried bananas or almonds if I fancy. Blend it up to ones desired consistency and bingo – the best museli in town (for me). Occasionally I ask a (really loved) friend if they want some and then it’s all gone again. Julie asked me for my recipe and I could only be rather vague. That’s because I don’t really have one. I encourage you to try loads of things: spelt flakes (buy at health food or “natuur” winkels) bran flakes etc and make up your own. It will be good I promise.  I try to use organic everything and sometimes roast it for a short while in a low oven – around 130 as nuts, fruits burn quickly.

My Museli (or Brian’s, Julie’s, Bob’s or Mike’s museli)

2 cups dried dark apricots

one third of a cup coconut shred (buy at nut shop)

2 cups roasted hazel nuts or almonds etc

half a cup dried bananas or mangos or cranberries, apples etc

grated cinnamon or nutmeg (a bit of what you fancy)

2 cups organic rolled oats, some bran flakes, rice crispies, corn or spelt flakes – add more to taste or a mixture of all!

Chop nuts and dried fruits in the blender – make them as coarse or fine as you wish. Powder is not great. You may need to cut your dried mangos using scissors – tough as an old boot!

Add the oats and flakes, grate in the spices. Can drizzle a tiny bit of maple syrup over but you don’t need to, really. Bake for approx 15 minutes if you wish in a very low oven. Check frequently to avoid burning fruit. Serve with low fat quark, greek yoghurt, fresh strawberry sauce and fruit. Yum! Keep in an airtight container. It lasts about 4 days in this house.

Here’s a great tip from Deirdre, the senior sleep consultant at about combining another of my favourite fruits, the glowing Pomegranate – cut the pomegrante in  half and give it a sharp tap to remove seeds over a bowl. Use the juice with strawberries – it adds a wonderful new taste dimension Or use a reduction of the juice over couscous or bulgar to make a lovely salad. Now, it’s time to stop cooking for a week or two and become an impresario as the fabulous frockaholic and performance storyteller Tanya Batt graces our flatlands. Book one of her children’s matinee’s via or join us for her Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups on May 20-22nd. Tanya will be working very hard at schools over the next week and that energy giving museli will be just the thing to start the  day! Have a go – create your own brand!

Jack's best strawberry porridge and gems of the trees - the glowing pomegranate

Kappa Maki at school – Perfect Sushi Rice for Perfect Parents and Kids!

Try, and try again- perfection comes with practice!

We are doing a Sushi Munch Crunch Master class at school on Friday. My kids had a try out last night and we had fun making up some new versions and experimenting with toppings such as plum flavoured sesame seeds. Some turned out perfectly, some were a little loose but they were all eaten with great gusto!

I admit to getting a little stressed at the thought of cooking with so many kids – there will be about 75 of them beavering away with their mats in the school hall. There will be mess but that’s cooking for you. We will talk about knife safety and washing hands but really the MOST important thing is that they learn about food, what they are eating and how to cook it! And they really do lap it up literally!

Sweets of the Trees (and plants!)

I will speak to them about eating a rainbow and embracing a world of wonderful foods, vegetables and fruits. Hopefully, it will inspire them to try something new and use some new found skills at home. To help them to understand what they are eating in an increasingly obesigenic world where EVEN sports clubs serve more deep fried foods than fresh and sports drinks have become the crutch of tweens and teens (surely a good cup of freshly ground coffee would be so much better than a can of caffinated, over sugared, over advertised, expensive, hideously sweet drink!) is the main goal.

I do feel a little despair when “rewards” are given to sports teams in the shape of sweets, chocolate bars, crisps, sweetened milks and fizzy drinks. These are not rewards – they have no nutritional value at all. They are completely unnecessary. They are not TREATS!  Please give them SWEETS of the TREES instead – plums, apples, apricots, pineapple, grapes or strawberries. Make scones (they are easier than most people realize and can be made with wholemeal flours and cranberries etc). Make Morning Glory muffins with a yoghurt and coconut thread topping. Give them homemade lime-zested popcorn. Now, those things are a treat and made with love. But now to sushi!

Sushi Rice

Perfect sushi rice for Perfect Parents and Perfect Kids!

Actually, we have to admit we are not all that perfect all the time (no, really!).
With many thanks to Emi for teaching an older cook some new tricks!

Sushi Dressing

First make your sushi dressing. For each cup of uncooked rice mix 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar with a little teaspoon of salt, and 1 tsp of sugar. Or use a rice vinegar without sugar. Experiment and see what suits you. Mix every now and then until sugar is dissolved while rice cooks and rests.

1. This is the method for those who don’t use a rice cooker! Wash and rinse 2 cups of sushi rice in a heavy bottomed cooking pot. Really squeeze the rice and wash until the water runs clear. Keep changing the water until the water is clear. Use a sieve over your pot to wash the rice in.
2. Cook the rice in fresh cold water. The depth of the water above the rice should be up to the first joint of your finger.
3. Put on full heat until there is a rolling boil and mix with a wooden spoon.
4. Place lid on pot and let simmer for 15 minutes at the lowest heat.
5. Turn off heat and remove from stove top. Allow to rest in pot with LID ON for 10 minutes – DO NOT REMOVE LID!
6. Mix again turning from bottom to top. Place rice in a pile on a large tray. Pour the dressing over and mix well – you can use your hands or a fork.

Now prepare your sushi fillings and seaweed (Nori)  on the rolling mat. Keep a cup of water nearby to use while putting rice on the mat. Use strips of cucumber, omlette, cooked carrot, salmon, tuna or avocado for the middle of the sushi roll. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with pickled ginger and soy sauce. Lovely!

Sheet of nori on rolling mat

It will take a little practice but you will get the hang of it. Keep a bowl of water nearby in which to dip you fingers in. This will make it easier to work with the sticky rice. Wet the fingers and take some rice to spread evenly over the nori, leaving some edge at the beginning of the edges. Smooth rice down and add in some thin batons of cucumber (remove seeds and discard). You may also add in some wasabi, sesame seeds ginger or a little mayo. Up to you!

Try and get a thin layer of rice and prepare to rock and roll!

Now, begin to roll. Turn the top of the seaweed sheet over to make sure it is rolling and then tightly roll. Squeeze it tight and set aside while you roll the next one. If you are not eating it immediately, then you can wrap entire roll in clingfilm until you are ready to cut it. Otherwise carefully take the bamboo mat off and get a good sharp knife. Wet the knife and using a gentle sea-sawing motion carefully cut into rounds.

Serve with washed pickled ginger, soy sauce, or a dipping sauce of your making, wasabi (if you like the rush), sesame seeds etc.

This is Jack's kappa maki!

Lastly I developed a special recipe for the ACCESS magazine this month based on one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes from his cook book Plenty – a wonderful caramelized  garlic tart (possibly one of the best tart’s in the world). Mine is a bit lighter and uses spinach and would make a great picnic food. And the best place for a picnic in the my city – The Sorgvliet park without a doubt – see you there under the green leaves!


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