Welcome to my Blog!

Hello and Welcome to My Blog!Hi and thanks for stopping by. My name is Inara Hawley and this is a personal space where I will be sharing thoughts and reflections about what interests me, what inspires me, what’s happening in my life and what makes my heart sing.

So why have I started this blog now? In the last few years I’ve done a lot of writing ~ family history and memoir projects which have been all-consuming, and now that they’re finished, I miss it. So, in my desire to keep writing I felt this was a good place to start.

Now while I have a million thoughts and ideas running around in my brain each day I am a bottom-line kind of person, so it will be most interesting to see how well I can organise those thoughts and create words which constitute my bottom lines. I am looking forward to the challenge.

In a nutshell I will be keeping it simple and straightforward ~ I won’t be spending time wrestling anything to the ground. In my years of journaling I experienced many a profound moment, moved through fears and came to a place where I relinquished the need to be attached to the past ~ I much prefer to appreciate what I’ve learned and focus on feeling good in the present.

I wear my Positive Pollyanna Hat most of the time, I live in gratitude and try to find joy in every moment, and I believe there’s a positive lesson in everything … and every word I write will come from my heart. If my way of living and learning resonates with you ~ please stay awhile and in-joy.

Cheers
Inara Hawley ♥

Spinach Triangles

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Greece would have to be one of my favourite countries. I have wonderful memories of the Greek Islands and the food. Greek yoghurt and honey for breakfast, dolmades and stuffed peppers for lunch and spanakopita (spinach pie) for dinner. I remember it all, and it was wonderful, but apart from stuffed peppers I’ve never made Greek food.

So, fast forward to last weekend. I was expecting guests and had a hankering for spanakopita. So as you do, I visited YouTube for the visual delight of seeing it made. I was impressed. I quickly scribbled out the recipe and went shopping. I was so impressed in fact, that I decided to make two – one for my guests and one for the freezer.

I spent half a day chopping and crumbling – there was a mountain of baby spinach to destalk and chop, and another mountain of feta to crumble. I followed the recipe to the letter, and when it came out of the oven, it looked fabulous! It even looked fabulous on the plate… that was until we tasted it. My guests were very polite and ate it, but for me, it was so overpoweringly salty, I couldn’t stomach it. So sadly, what was left went in the bin as did the spanakopita that was in the freezer.

Not to be beaten though, I decided to make spinach triangles with the remaining ingredients. I did a little research and came up with my own low-salt recipe, and the result was perfect. Exactly as I imaged the spinach pie should taste. So here’s my recipe…

Spinach Triangles

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of filo pastry
  • 250 g baby spinach
  • 10-12 baby spring onions
  • 250 g soft creamy ricotta
  • 50-75 g of full fat feta
  • Milk to soak the feta
  • ½ cup grated cheddar or tasty cheese
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • Melted butter or olive oil to brush filo
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius
  • Place the feta in a bowl of milk and allow to soak. This is to reduce the salt. If you like it salty, then miss this step
  • Finely slice the baby spring onions
  • Destalk the baby spinach and finely chop
  • Add the spinach, spring onions, ricotta and grated cheese to a large bowl
  • Crumble in the feta and mix well with your hands
  • Taste and season for salt and pepper, then mix through the lightly beaten eggs
  • Place two sheets of filo onto the bench, brush lightly with olive oil or melted butter and cut into three lengthwise strips
  • Place a spoonful of the mixture onto a corner of the filo strip making a triangle and keep folding the triangle over till all the filo is used
  • Brush the triangles with olive oil or melted butter and place on a tray covered with sprayed baking paper
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius

Enjoy and happy cooking!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Cauliflower Pizza Base

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I’ve been wanting to try a cauliflower pizza base for ages, and as I had a big bowl of riced cauliflower and broccoli sitting in the back of the fridge that needed using up, the time had come. And surprise of all surprises, it worked perfectly! Why do I say that? Because I’ve heard of some monumental disasters.

So, I watched with some trepidation as it cooked in the oven, browning nicely. Then it was time to flip it. Would it work? It certainly did! I was amazed. And when out of the oven sitting there in all its topped glory, would it cut without crumbling? Well, it sliced beautifully, and we could even pick it up like a regular slice of pizza. To say I was impressed is an understatement. And of course, those of you who are wheat intolerant like me or into a Keto-based diet, it’s the perfect alternative. So here it is, and as you will see, there is a trick to it.

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Ingredients:  Makes one medium sized pizza base

  • 1 large egg
  • 5-6 cups cauliflower rice (I included broccoli rice)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried herbs of your choice
  • 1/3 cup soft goats cheese or 1/2 cup grated mozzarella/parmesan/vegan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Topping: Toppings of choice plus cheese of your choice

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C/450 F.
  • To rice the cauliflower, place washed florets into a food processor and blend until you’ve reached the required consistency.
  • Next, the cauliflower rice needs to be cooked for a short time to bring out the moisture. You can do it several different ways. Either on baking paper in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes, cooked for about 5 minutes in a covered pot filled with about an inch/3 cm of boiling water and drained, or heated in a large oil-sprayed pan on the stove, stirring occasionally to avoid burning (my choice).
  • When done, place a thin towel on a large plate or in a large bowl and spread the cauliflower out on top to let it cool.
  • Now this is the trick, but don’t do it while the cauliflower is hot. When cool to the touch, pull the ends of the towel together and twist the cauliflower into a tight ball, and then with all your might, keep tightening to squeeze out ALL the liquid. This takes quite a bit of strength and was too much for me, so I used a spatula – I squashed the liquid out of the ball onto the plate and drained it off. It was easier and worked well.
  • Next, in a large bowl whisk together the egg, dried herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Then add the cheese and cauliflower ball and mix well with a fork.
  • Place mixture on an oven tray covered with oil-sprayed baking paper, flatten and make it into the shape you want. The thickness should be 1/2 to 3/4 cm or 1/4 inch. Don’t make it too thin or you won’t be able to flip it.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes at 220 C/450 F until it’s nicely browned, then take it out of the oven, flip carefully with two spatulas and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
  • When it’s ready, add your toppings plus cheese and bake until the cheese is just how you want it. If you like it bubbly and you’re worried about the pizza edges burning, put it under a hot grill for a minute.
  • When done, carefully slide it onto a plate and slice.
  • NOTE: It’s fine to add a thin layer of tomato-based sauce before you add your toppings once the base is fully cooked – it won’t soften or cause the base to crumble.
  • NOTE: I haven’t done it, but apparently the base can be frozen.

So, there you have it – the all vegetarian pizza with a dash of cheese.

Happy cooking and enjoy!
Inara

Inara Hawley © 2018

Green Tomato Jam

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What’s a girl going to do with the last of the tomato crop after she’s already made enough tomato relish to last six months? Green tomato jam of course. I’ve never made it before, but as I discovered, it’s very easy and it’s also very delicious.

Green Tomato Jam

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg of small green tomatoes
  • 750 grams of white sugar
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Method:

  • Wash and cut the tomatoes into quarters – no need to peel
  • Place into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon juice – mix well
  • Cover and set aside overnight
  • Next day transfer the contents and all the liquid into a large pot
  • Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour as it thickens stirring frequently
  • Allow to cool and transfer to sterilised jars or containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

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Looking for a rich, tangy tomato relish? Well, this is it.

I never bothered making my own relish until Hubby needed to go on a low-sodium diet. I was stunned at how much salt there was in tomato sauce, which he loved, so started looking around for alternatives. The local cafe sold a nice enough relish without any salt, but when I looked at the ingredients, I thought…. hmm… I could make this. So, I found a recipe with the same ingredients and I made it. And it was OK – a sweet, tangy relish but a bit on the thin side.

Then… we grew our own tomatoes and what a difference. We had a bumper crop, but they were the small variety. The recipe calls for 4 kilograms and they need to be peeled, so I’d always bought large tomatoes, peeled and chopped them, and into the pot they went with all the other ingredients. But as these were small I couldn’t face all the peeling, so decided to roast them and squeeze out the flesh. Well, we all know how roasting intensifies flavour, but this was unbelievable. For a start, our tomatoes tasted a 100% better than what I bought at the greengrocer, and secondly, the roasted flavour was out of this world. So, here is my recipe.

Rich Tangy Tomato Relish

 Ingredients:

  • 4 kgs ripe tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 kgs white onion
  •  1 1/3 kgs sugar
  • 3 tbs curry powder
  • 4 1/2 tbs mustard powder
  • 1 2/3 litres white vinegar
  • 1 tbs cornflour
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Roast tomatoes until soft, squeeze the flesh into a bowl and discard skin
  • Place the tomato pan juices into a saucepan, bring to boil and allow to thicken
  • Peel and finely chop the onions, place in a large pot and cover with the vinegar
  • Add the sugar and boil rapidly for five minutes
  • Add the tomato flesh and turn the heat down to a simmer
  • Combine the spices and stir into the relish mixture
  • Simmer gently uncovered for one hour, removing scum and stirring frequently to prevent burning
  • Add salt and pepper to taste at any time during the cooking process
  • When the tomato pan juices have cooked down add them to the mixture
  • After one hour the relish should have thickened, look rich and taste tangy
  • For the final thickening mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste
  • Add a little hot liquid to the paste, mix well and stir into the relish
  • Add the paste to the relish and cook for 5 minutes stirring continuously
  • Either bottle into sterilised jars or place into containers and freeze

Enjoy and happy cooking! 

Inara Hawley © 2018

 

Do You Get Annoyed?

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Do you get annoyed?

Irritating isn’t it! And the problem is that it can become a habit, a way of being if you allow it… when you live in your small mind.

It’s so easy to get cranky – to let that ‘damn and blast’ feeling take over. What if you were to look at those ‘small mind’ situations from a different point of view?

So, your day starts like this….

It’s your first day at a new job and you’re running late. You miss the bus. Your small mind starts fuming. You’re so annoyed you can’t see beyond your nose. Things don’t improve. When lunchtime comes around you get the wrong food order. OMG! How stupid can people be! You keep your head down and eat it anyway because you’re starving, and you don’t want to make a fuss after arriving late. And so, the day goes on… trapped in your small mind.

Now let’s step out of that small mind and rewind the day…

You’re running late, and you miss the bus for work, but instead of letting your small mind take over, you say, “That’s interesting!” Suddenly, you allow yourself to see the big picture. You look around, and notice your neighbour stopped at the lights. She waves you over and gives you a lift, and you make it to work in plenty of time. Then lunchtime comes around and you get the wrong food order. Oh, that’s interesting, and you look up. There’s someone on the other side of the office looking quizzically at her lunch as well. You both realise you have each other’s order. You swap, sit and chat, and you make a new friend. And so, the day goes on… looking at the bigger picture.

Interesting, isn’t it!

Do you see how the energy changes when we say, “that’s interesting”? It opens the door to possibilities.

Try it next time irritation hits and see where it leads. It’s easier than you think.

Cheers!

© Inara Hawley 2018

Veggie Egg Muffins

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This is so easy and simple that it doesn’t need a recipe, but the photograph is so appetising and they are so delicious, I decided to share it anyway. These are perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch or summer dinner with a salad.

Veggie Egg Muffins

Ingredients:

  • Half a small cauliflower, riced
  • One head of broccoli, riced
  • You can use any grated vegetable you fancy
  • A nice alternative is corn and grated zucchini
  • Vegan or dairy cheese – as much as you like
  • 10-12 eggs
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of oat milk
  • Seasoning to taste – salt, pepper, onion powder, parsley
  • Olive oil or butter

Method:

  • Place the riced cauliflower and broccoli in large mixing bowl
  • Note: if using grated zucchini, squeeze out the excess moisture
  • Add as much cheese as you like – vegan is less cheesy, but my choice
  • Spray a large 12 cup muffin trays with olive oil or grease with butter
  • Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 with veggie mix
  • Whip eggs well with oat milk and add seasoning and herbs
  • Fill each muffin cup with the egg mixture to nearly full
  • Then bake in a 180 degree oven for 20-25 minutes till nicely browned
  • And then eat ’em!

Enjoy and Happy Cooking!

(c) Inara Hawley 2018

The Hold Up

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Writing prompt:
A man with a nasty scar over his right eye enters a bar, points a gun and says, “Give me all your money”. He is wearing a hoodie and needs a fix badly. The bartender is on a minimum wage, getting a divorce, and badly wants a smoke. It’s three in the afternoon, but the bar is dark. A ceiling fan is pushing the hot air around, and the place smells. As the robber leaves, he drops a twenty-dollar bill on the floor and says, “Keep the change.”

Inside, Joe scratched at the heat rash on his neck and looked around the bar. What a dump! No wonder the place was empty. If he didn’t need the money he’d be gone. Gone from moaning Mona. Gone from the divorce lawyers. Gone with a smile on his face and happy fag in his mouth. Yeah, that’s what he wanted right now as he sat back and closed his eyes – a smoke.

Outside, a man in a hoodie nervously shifted from foot to foot, his right eye twitching. The scar was painful today… his next dose would fix it. A dose always fixed it. He fingered the gun in his pocket, waiting for the right moment. It was three in the afternoon, but the place was dark. Perfect!

It was now or never. He charged into the bar and yelled, “Give me all your money.”

Joe’s eyes sprang open. A pistol was pointing right at him.

“Sure, sure… calm down… here ya go.” Joe emptied the till and shoved the money forward on the counter. “It’s all here.”

The pistol was now waving madly. Joe stepped back and put up his arms. “Calm down pal… calm down.”

The man in the hoodie had his head down and started stuffing the money into his pockets.

Joe squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced. God, is this how it ends? In a grimy bar. Take all the money! Just go. I’m not looking at you. I don’t want to know who you are. Just leave!

All Joe could hear was the hum and click of the ceiling fan. He cautiously opened his eyes. Out of the void a voice said, “Keep the change” as a twenty floated to the floor.

It was a voice he recognised.

(293 words)

© Inara Hawley 2018