Do You Buy Mayonnaise?

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Do you buy mayo? Well stop it! Making your own takes just 3 minutes. Truly, only 3 minutes including getting all the ingredients out, and it’s delicious! Plus, you won’t be adding to the recycle pile of glass or plastic with an empty jar of mayo every month.

So, are you ready? Grab the oil, vinegar, eggs, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, your measuring jug, teaspoon and stick blender, plus a wide-mouthed jar… and away you go!

Avocado Mayonnaise

Mayo Ingredients - Sunday MusingsJar of Mayo - Sunday Musings


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 100 mls of avocado oil
  • 100 mls of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 2-3 turns of the pepper mill


This is the fun part. Put all the ingredients into your nice clean jar and whizz for about 20-30 seconds till blended and the consistency is just right. It lasts about a week in the fridge, which is just about right in our house. Sometimes I make it twice a week depending on who I’m feeding.  So, pop it into the fridge, and enjoy!

So, there it is! I use it instead of butter on bread. It’s fresh, it’s delicious, and it’s lovely with boiled eggs or salad. And… you can experiment with different oils. How cool is that!

Happy cooking! 

Raw Sauerkraut ~ Probiotic Heaven!


Being European I grew up eating sauerkraut. My grandmother, bless her heart, was the one who supplied us with raw fermented cabbage. She made all manner of interesting pickles, including sauerkraut. We mostly ate it cooked, as a soup garnished with sour cream or as a side dish with pork. Both absolutely delicious, and while there is nutrition in cooked sauerkraut, as we all know, eating raw fermented cabbage is far better for one’s health, which is why I’ve decided to make it.

Health Benefits of Sauerkraut

A single serving of naturally fermented sauerkraut will not only restore your gut flora, it will give your body a bigger health boost than any probiotic drink or store-bought supplement. Being so probiotic rich, fermented foods are more easily digested. The fermentation process also increases certain nutrients, for example, sauerkraut has twenty times the bio-available amount of Vitamin C of raw cabbage. While fermented foods contain a high level of salt, therefore, best eaten as a condiment, the fermentation process cuts the sugar content of the food dramatically. All good news! Overall, fermented foods are a great support to immune function as they increase digestive enzymes, lactic acid, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which aid in fighting off harmful bacteria in the body. For more specific health benefits of sauerkraut, you may like to visit Organic Facts.

What About Goitrogens?

In my reading about raw sauerkraut the only point to be aware of is that cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, contain high levels of goitrogens. These are substances that inhibit the uptake of iodine in the thyroid gland. This effect can be overcome by an increased dietary intake of iodine if the quantity consumed is only small. You can find a list of 22 iodine rich foods here. Cooking cabbage reduces the effect considerably, but as sauerkraut is a raw food it is not advisable to consume large amounts, particularly if your thyroid is compromised. If this is the case for you, you can add iodine based foods such as wakame or kelp to your sauerkraut recipe.

Making Raw Sauerkraut

Now, let’s get to how to make your sauerkraut. The short version is you shred the veg, add salt, squeeze the lot with your hands for five minutes to get a good puddle of brine, put it a sealed jar ensuring the contents are weighed down so the cabbage is completely immersed in the brine, pop it in a not-too-hot, not-too-cool spot, taste it occasionally, and wait from 1 week to 5 weeks depending on how tangy and crunchy you like your raw sauerkraut. Easy peasy! Now here’s the long version:

Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut

You Will Need:

  • 2 clean quart size wide-mouth glass jars with screw top lids
  • 2 clean small jars with no lids that will fit easily into the large jars
  • Baking paper


  • 1 medium head of green or red cabbage weighing 2½-3 lbs or 1-1½ kilos
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 red apples – makes it sweet
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of salt which contains no additives
  • Optional additions: a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, sprinkling of caraway seeds


  • Discard the outer limp leaves of the cabbage. Remove and keep the next good layer for later use, then remove the core and slice the cabbage into thin ribbons. Peel and grate the carrots and apples, and crush the garlic. You will need 1¾ pounds or 800 grams of shredded vegetable in total. This is important as it corresponds exactly to the amount of salt you will be using.
  • Place the vegetables in a large bowl adding any optional flavourings.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

  • Sprinkle the mix with salt then squeeze the vegetables really well with your hands for about 5 minutes until you see brine forming. Cover the bowl with a towel, leave it for a few hours and repeat the process. By this time, you should have a good pool of brine.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

  • Now it’s time to pack it into your jars. Push the mix down firmly with your fist so that the vegetables are fully submerged in the brine.
  • Fold the baking paper about four times to the size of the bottom of the jar, place it on top of the vegetables and then put in the small jar, bottom down. You want the small jar to stick out of the top a little so that when you screw down the lid it pushes the vegetables down even further and ensures they are completely covered with brine. If you don’t want to use the small jars, you can push the vegetables down by filling the large jar with the best outer leaves of the cabbage until the sauerkraut is packed tight and covered with juice.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

The Fermentation Process

  • While air is a no-no for the fermentation process as it allows bacteria and mould to grow, you may have to screw the lid on loosely if there is only a small space between the vegetables and the top of the jar to allow any gases to escape. You may even need to pour out some brine if it overflows. This didn’t happen to me as my jars were larger than the recommended quart size and I had plenty of room for bubbling and rise and fall of brine.
  • Next, put your jars on a tray to catch any overflow, and then place it all in a spot with a fairly even temperature. The ideal is between 18-23 degrees Celsius or 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The brine will rise and fall with the temperature. Note that the higher the temperature, the quicker the fermentation.
  • If you’ve never done it before, watching it all is very exciting. During the first week is when the bubbling happens. After that, it settles down. Just make sure the cabbage mix is completely immersed in brine. If you notice the level of brine has fallen below the vegetables, dilute a tablespoon of salt in 2 cups of water and pour some over until the mixture is just covered.
  • If you see any mould, throw it all out immediately and start again. It’s never OK to scrape it out and keep going as many recipes recommend. There is more to mould than just what you see.
  • Start checking your fermentation for flavour after the first week. You can begin eating it anywhere from one week to four weeks. I decided to let mine go for five weeks. The longer it goes, of course, the more beneficial bacteria you will have. Once you are satisfied with the flavour, take the little jar and the paper out or the large cabbage leaves out, label it and put it in the fridge to stop the fermentation process. It keeps for a very long time, but it’s so delicious, it definitely won’t last for a very long time.

Raw Sauerkraut - Sunday Musings

  • Once you are comfortable making it you can begin to get a bit creative by adding different vegetables and flavours such as beetroot, ginger, fennel, hot peppers, onions, leeks, fresh herbs, raisins, currants, cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice.

How to Eat Sauerkraut

And when it’s all done, it’s time to start eating it. The lovely tangy flavour goes with just about everything. It’s great in salads ~ really good if you add raisins as well. Also in hamburgers, hotdogs and sandwiches ~ goes very well with cheese, egg or tuna. It’s also delicious mixed with cooked vegetables, with an omelette as below, as a topping to soups, stews or pizzas, with sausages, added to Japanese nori roll fillings, or just as a condiment on your plate with a meal.

Sunday Musings - How to Make Raw Sauerkraut

So enjoy, and if you try any fabulous new varieties, please let me know in the comments below!

♥ Inara Hawley © 2016

Almost Vegetarian

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Years ago I could never have imagined it, but here I am today, an almost vegetarian. I say ‘almost’ because I still eat fish occasionally. If I have guests it’s generally what I serve up, but mostly I live on vegetables, eggs, tofu, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and all the other lovely foods that make up a vegetarian diet, and I love it. They‘ve turned out to be my favourite things to eat, and I think they are delicious and scrumptious.

About ten years ago I stopped eating red meat as a staple in my diet, and then later chicken. I didn’t set out to become almost vegetarian. At the time, it wasn’t a choice of conscience though it is something I’ve considered, especially as there are so many wonderful plant-based foods on the planet. The truth of it is I noticed that I felt a whole lot better when I didn’t eat meat or chicken, and after a while, a whole lot happier to let the animals be.

When I was a child, for a time, my parents kept chooks. As our backyard was always full of animals, my young heart connected to every one of them, and as far as I was concerned they were all my pets. The chooks, of course, provided us with lots of lovely eggs, but when I discovered it was our chickens, which graced the table every Sunday, I was outraged and flatly refused to eat them. I can’t remember how long I held out, but I was resolute while I did. It wasn’t too long after that my mother started work and the chickens disappeared, and I forget all about them. And so, as many of us do, I grew up eating meat, and lots of it.

But my digestive system just can’t handle it anymore, and so for me, almost vegetarian it is! Needless to say, Hubby and I eat completely different food, but it’s all good. We both thoroughly enjoy our individual tucker, and that of course, is the most important thing ~ to have a good relationship with your food. And so to the reason for this post ~ I’d like to share the joy of two of my favourite recipes ~ my sweet chilli hommus and my very lemony cashew balls. Both delicious! If you make them, I hope you enjoy them.

Sweet Chilli Hommus

Sweet Chilli Hommus - Sunday MusingsSweet Chilli Hommus - Sunday Musings


  • 2 cups of fresh, cooked chickpeas, cooled, drained and skinned
  • 2 decent sized cloves of fresh pressed garlic
  • 1/2 cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
  • 1/3 cup of tahini (sesame) paste
  • Juice of 2 good sized lemons
  • Good pinch of ground coriander
  • Good pinch of ground cumin
  • Good pinch of salt


  • Skin the chickpeas by pinching them lightly between your thumb and index finger until they pop out of their thin shell. This takes quite a bit of time and can be tedious. It’s a job I do in front of the telly. I cook a whole bag of chickpeas, skin the lot and freeze what I don’t use for next time.
  • The next bit is easy ~ put all the ingredients into a blender and puree. I use a stick blender with the bowl attachment, and it works very well though you might get a smoother consistency in a high-speed blender.
  • Season further if required, but I never need to. It’s always perfect for my taste.

Very Lemony Cashew Balls

Lemon Cashew Balls - Sunday MusingsLemon Cashew Balls - Sunday Musings

Ingredients: Makes 36 balls  

  • 1½ cups cashews
  • 1½ cup desiccated coconut
  • 1-2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp soft coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • A pinch of rock salt


  • Blitz the cashews in a food processor until they are the texture of tiny rocks. Don’t over-blend or you will get cashew butter.
  • Add the remainder ingredients and blitz until the mix just comes together.
  • Roll into balls and coat in more desiccated coconut.
  • Place the balls in the fridge to firm up for at least 2 hours.

The bottom line is: enjoy your food and eat what makes you feel good.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Inara Hawley © 2015

New Winter Cook-ups


It’s spring here now and everything is all very beautiful and green outdoors. But while the fruit trees just outside my kitchen window are bursting with the beginnings of peaches, plums and apricots, here in the high country of New South Wales it’s still rather coolish and warming foods are very much, part of our daily tucker. So before it starts really hotting up I thought I would sneak in a quick winter recipes post.

Fruit Trees - Sunday Musings

Two things are important in my kitchen ~ whatever I cook has to be easy and I don’t like cooking the same thing over and over. To that end, it was time to find some new recipes for Hubby. He loves soup, especially the blended kind, but cooking the same old, same old all winter long ~ even though he loves it ~ was starting to drive me to distraction. I mean, how many bowls of pumpkin or potato and leek soup can one have and still be in raptures over how delicious it is. Certainly not me! So it was time to add to the old favourites.

Even though I’m not overly keen on blended soups myself, I have to like whatever I cook. And they also have to be good enough to whip out of the freezer and serve up to guests at a moment’s notice if necessary. So, with all of that in mind I created these beauties, and they are all delicious. As with everything I cook, I start out with a recipe and then tailor it to my taste. So here they are ~ my versions of four new winter soups.

Beetroot Soup
Beetroot Soup - Sunday Musings

This is a delicious soup, and would go very well served with blinis and cream cheese.


  • 40g of butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 potato, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ litre vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup water
  • 500g canned beetroot drained and chopped ~ I have used both baked beetroot and canned. I prefer the baked version, but hubby prefers the canned, which has more of a tart flavour.
  • 1 dessertspoon of sugar – add to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To Serve:

  • Sour cream or thickened fresh cream
  • Chopped chives

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, carrot and potato, and cook till softened. Add bay leaf, stock and water. Bring to boil and cook till vegetables are tender. Add the chopped beetroot and simmer for a few minutes. Blend after removing the bay leaf, however, if you like a thicker soup, take out about 250mils of the liquid before blending. You can always add it back if you need it.  Serve with cream and chives.

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup - Sunday Musings

This is a very up-market soup ~ a great dinner party starter with a bread roll and crisp white wine.


  • 2-3 large heads of broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 150g soft blue cheese with the skin removed
  • 2 chopped leeks
  • Butter for cooking leeks
  • 2 cups milk
  • Vegetable stock powder

Cook broccoli in a small amount of water until tender, set aside the liquid for later. You could use frozen broccoli, but I haven’t tried it as I prefer fresh vegetables. Next sauté the leeks in butter and add the milk. Break up the cheese, add it to the pot and heat through till it is fully melted. Don’t allow it to boil. Add vegetable seasoning to taste then, add the cooked broccoli and blend. If required, add back some of the cooking liquid.

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Soup - Sunday Musings

This soup is good country food. Very hearty and delicious, and goes well with pasties or sausage rolls.


  • 2 heads of cauliflower cut into small florets
  • 2 potatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 shallots or one large onion
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cream for serving if desired

Preheat oven to 350F or 180C. In a large baking pan, toss cauliflower, potato, garlic and onion in olive oil and roast for 25-35 minutes. Place all baked ingredients into a large pot with the vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Blend, and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a swirl of cream and crusty bread.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Mushroom Soup - Sunday Musings

This one is just too easy and very delicious! Serve with crusty wholemeal bread rolls.


  • 75grams butter
  • 2 leeks or 2 brown onions halved and coarsely chopped ~ I prefer leeks.
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1kg Portobello mushrooms or the large flat variety coarsely chopped
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (4 cups for a thicker soup)
  • 1 cup of thickened cream, plus extra to serve
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ground nutmeg to dust

Melt half the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the leek, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring until tender. Add the remaining butter and the mushrooms and cook, stirring for a further 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Add the stock and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes, then blend. Add cream and reheat on low. Serve with a swirl of cream and crusty bread.

So enjoy folks! Hubby certainly wolfed them down with a great deal of gusto!


Inara Hawley © 2015

Crab Apple Chutney

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When I was living my very busy life on the North Shore and in my fancy country houses, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day I would be doing so much jam making and baking. For someone who likes to keep cooking simple, I amaze myself! But the reason, of course, is that we have six magnificent fruit trees, and there is no way in the world, I am going to waste the abundance of goodness they provide.

So today, I made Crab Apple Chutney. And it was exciting because I’ve never made it before. It is an easy recipe, but a nightmare prep ~ crab apples really are a nightmare to prepare. A few years back, I made crab apple sauce and swore I’d never core those teensy weensy apples ever again. But just have a look at what we picked ~ how could I ignore these beauties!

crab apples - cropped

Now I didn’t use them all ~ I simply didn’t have the energy to core the lot, so about half went back out to the birds, but what I did use made wonderful chutney. And here is my recipe.

Crab Apple Chutney

I specifically chose this recipe because I didn’t have to do any peeling ~ that would have tipped me over the edge! This chutney has a definite kick to it, and because it’s tart, I made some adjustments (as I always do with any recipe that comes my way), but it’s delicious!

Crab Apple and Plum Chutney

Ingredients: Makes 3 cups

  • 2 cups crab apples, quartered and cored (leave the skins on). You can replace with any apple, if you do not have access to crab apples.
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 TBS grated orange peel
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger

Plus my additions at the end of cooking:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar because it was very tart ~ if you use apples you may not need it.
  • 1/4 cup of sour plum jam for nice texture ~ I used my own plum jam


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered for 50 minutes. Stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn. After 50 minutes, uncover and simmer a few more minutes over low heat, cooking off any excess liquid. Then stir in the brown sugar and sour plum jam and allow it to cool. It will keep covered for 2 weeks in the fridge. I froze it in small containers so I can take it out as I need it, but if you make a large batch a water bath canning method works well for preserving chutney.

If you make it, hope you enjoy it!

Inara Hawley © 2015

Who Needs a Thermomix ~ Making Plum Jam.


I received two jars of delicious Thermomix-made jam for Christmas. I know the Thermomix is a whiz-bang machine, and heaven knows it would have been a huge timesaver in my kitchen when I was working from dawn till midnight and didn’t have time to cook. I’m all too aware of how important it is to optimise time when one is busy, however, there is something very homely and purposeful about making jam the old fashioned way without any time constraints. So, inspired by the two jars of jam, the plum-laden fruit tree just outside our kitchen window, and the knowledge that I can do anything a Thermomix can do, I decided to make jam!

Sunday Musings - Making Plum Jam Sunday Musings - Plum Jam

Having never made ‘proper’ jam before (not on purpose anyway ~ occasionally my sweet sauces do get a bit jammy!), I did some leafing through old recipe books and online searches, and came up with this little gem of a recipe from, which I will call: Two-Day Plum Jam.

And so with Hubby’s help, the picking, washing, cutting and weighing began. I must say, it’s a very companionable job filled with heaps of anticipation. Making jam from scratch is hugely satisfying, especially from your own fruit trees … the scrubbing and chopping of luscious ripe fruit, the measuring of ingredients, getting out the huge pot, and then stirring, salivating and tasting as it bubbles away changing from plump pieces of fruit to a concentrated mix of rich flavour and aroma.

Sunday Musings - Plum JamSunday Musings - Plum JamNow this does take two days to make, but as it only requires a total of 40 minutes cooking time over those two days, it’s very easy and worth it just for the joy of the experience. As I have discovered in life, taking the time to do something unhurriedly and with purpose has a lot going for it. Many years ago when my father was growing vegetables we stood together at his kitchen bench while he was cutting his home-grown beans. He took each bean, and with great purpose, slowly cut off the top and bottom. I watched him for about 30 seconds, and then impatiently grabbed a handful and chopped off the tops and bottoms. He looked up at me and slowly said, “Insi Insi, you in a rush!” And he was right, I was! But I get it now Dad. By cutting his beans one by one, he was savouring the moment and appreciating the satisfaction of having lovingly planted, nurtured and picked every one of those little beans. He was taking his time and enjoying it, and in my rush, all I was doing was cutting beans. He clearly knew there was much to be gained by slowing down, being fully present in the moment, and appreciating what he was doing.

So now, here is the recipe:

Two-Day Plum Jam

Sunday Musings - Plum Jam

Sunday Musings - Plum JamIngredients:

  • 4 kg red ripe plums
  • 4-6 cups of castor sugar, depending on the sweetness of the plums. In fact, you may even need more sugar. Plums are naturally on the tart side so keep adding until you are satisfied with the sweetness.
  • Note: If making peach jam using the same method (and it is delicious!) you will need 2.5 kg peaches to about 2-3 cups castor sugar


  1. Wash, pit and cut up the plums
  2. In a large bowl, place a layer of plums and sprinkle with sugar. Repeat the process with all the plums and sugar. Let them sit uncovered for about an hour so that the plums begin to create a sugary juice.
  3. Transfer the plums and the juice to a large cooking pot, and bring it to the boil uncovered, stirring occasionally until mixture is bubbling uniformly. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and scrape the bottom to ensure it doesn’t burn. Then turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  4. Now this is why it takes two days ~ you need to repeat Step 3 a minimum of four times ~ more if you want a thicker jam. Taste the mixture each time and add more sugar if required. On the final simmer, bring it to the boil on low to ensure it doesn’t burn and stir frequently.

Now all you have to do is prepare the jars and fill with your delicious jam. Not being one to make preserves or do any bottling, I don’t sterilize jars ~ too much fiddling around, and I don’t have the right jars anyway, so I freeze it … shock horror I hear all the purists say, but it works for me!

Sunday Musings - Plum Jam

And so the moral of the story is who needs a Thermomix when you can spend two delightful days making jam! Experiencing the joy of nature’s bounty and filling your kitchen with the sweet fragrance of delicious anticipation. It’s all about stretching the pleasure. When you are in that moment, it really doesn’t get any better than that. So if you’re in a rush, stop occasionally and appreciate the moments. It’s worth it.

Inara Hawley © 2015

With thanks for the original recipe from

Hubby’s Apple Crumble Cake

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The birds are singing, the sun is shining and I’ve just made an Apple Crumble Cake for hubby. He’s had a bad week with a crook back and needed cheering up, so I decided a special sweet treat, over and above his daily fruit cake, was in order.

I’ve never made this before, and as is generally the case when I cook, I altered the recipe. It is meant to be a slice, but as it turned out quite crumbly, albeit light and moist, I’ve decided to call it an Apple Crumble Cake.

My sense of taste still isn’t right yet, particularly with anything that is sweet, so I can’t say with any honesty how good it is, but hubby is certainly enjoying it. He tells me it is the perfect afternoon tea treat ~ not too sweet and not too filling. Here’s the recipe:

Hubby’s Apple Crumble Cake

Sunday Musings ~ Apple Crumble Cake

Sunday Musings - Apple Crumble Cake Mix

Sunday Musings ~ Apple Crumble CakeSunday Musings - Apple Crumble Cake with Cream


  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • ¾ cup sugar ~ use a cup if you like it sweeter
  • 3 apples peeled and diced into 1-2cm cubes
  • 1 handful raisins soaked overnight in milk or fruit juice
  • 125 grams of melted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • 1 egg
  • Afterthought: cinnamon, which I didn’t add!

In a large bowl, mix the flour and sugar together. Add the melted butter, the apple juice, and the egg, and mix well. Add the diced apple and raisins, and mix until combined. Spoon into a greased and lined tin, press down, and sprinkle the top with a little sugar. Bake at 180C (170C fan forced) for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. I covered it lightly with alfoil for the last 5 minutes as I didn’t want the top to burn. Serve it with whatever takes your fancy ~ cream, ice cream or custard.

Inara Hawley © 2014