Choco-Banana Ice Dream

Bowl of soft-serve chocolate banana ice cream

Ice Cream is one of my favourite foods. Whether it’s summer or winter, in my mind an ice cream is a staple treat during an outing, and a must-have dessert.

Unfortunately, since it’s high in fat, sugar, cholesterol and sodium, and low in most vitamins and minerals, I can’t justify eating loads of ice cream  eating any ice cream now that I’m sticking to a healthy diet.

So I was thrilled to discover that you can make a delicious “ice cream” from frozen bananas.  Naturally, I immediately tried the recipe. And of course, wanting to get maximum healthy bang out of every treat buck, I changed it.

NB: If you don’t like the taste of bananas then, sadly, this recipe is not for you.

Before starting, you’ll need to prepare some frozen food the day before:

  • Slice 1 large or 2 small bananas into small pieces and freeflow freeze them.
  • Open, drain, rinse and freeze canned chickpeas.
  • Slice and free-flow freeze approx ½ small courgetteSlices of banana and courgette, plus chickpeas ready to freeze.

Choco-Banana Ice Dream

Frozen banana and courgette slices (see above)

2 tbsp frozen chickpeas

2 tbsp raw cacao powder or cocoa powder (a cheaper option)

2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)

½ cup almond milk

What to do:

Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

The mixture quickly becomes thick and creamy and you’ll probably need to push it down and stir with a wooden spoon a few times during the blending process.

Serve immediately as a “soft-serve dream” or pop it into the freezer for more of a solid frozen treat.

Bowl of soft-serve chocolate banana ice cream

Notes:

Bananas contain a fair amount of fructose (sugar), that I can’t deny. But they are also high in potassium, fiber and vitamins B6 and C. Add in the antioxidant qualities of raw cacao, plus the extra protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber from the vegetables and I reckon my Choco-Banana Ice Dream is definitely on the healthier side of the treat-food-scale.

This is a pretty forgiving recipe; you can add or subtract all sorts of things to make your own variations. I’ve tried adding small amounts of frozen cooked carrot and cauliflower, and no one has even noticed!

Keep a container of banana and vegetable slices in the freezer. That way you’ll be able to whip up this yummy dessert (or breakfast) without delay.

The Yummiest Breakfast Ever

I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast. To allay any possible guilt, I make it even healthier by adding 1 tbsp of protein powder, and chuck in a handful of frozen blueberries and  another of spinach leaves. (Blend it extra-well to disguise any little green flecks.)

Why not give this yummy dessert a try?

Make some changes to suit your taste then let us all know your delicious variations in the comments below.

I can’t wait to try YOUR inventions!

How To Make Perfect Cheese Scones

Cheese scones on a plate

Making a Savoury Cheese Scone

My daughters believe that I’ve always been able to make perfect cheese scones. When visitors arrive unexpectedly, or the family congregates, it’s no trouble to whip up a batch of scones and bring them out golden hot.

But, in reality, my road to the perfect cheese scone has been a long one. It started back in 1980 after a “bake off” with my boyfriend. At the time scones were the one thing I actually knew how to make. So when Neill showed me his scone recipe — which was very different from the one I used —  I was somewhat scathing about it. I distinctly recall saying “that’ll never work.”

Naturally he challenged me to a scone baking contest. He cooked every day. I could barely boil an egg. In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking. Of course he won the contest, hands down. His scones were light, moist and HUGE. Mine were tiny and tasteless. Oh no! I buried the remnants of my pride and wrote down his recipe.

Since then, I’ve made countless batches of scones. And I’ve given out that same recipe to many, including my daughters. For some reason the results never seem to work out quite as well for anyone else. Last month, I finally realised why…

I don’t actually use that recipe to make my cheese scones.

Over the years I’ve slowly changed it to fit my somewhat haphazard cooking style. It’s similar, but with important differences. Oops!

So here — with apologies to Steph, Debbie and Jenny for not realising the truth earlier — is the ACTUAL recipe that I now use for making light and delicious, perfect cheese scones.

scones, cooked, in the oven

Lyn’s Perfect Cheese Scones

2 heaped cups of plain flour         

4 heaped tsp baking powder

2 cups tasty cheddar cheese (shredded)    

1 egg

1 dessert spoon sugar

50g butter (melted)                        

Approximately 1 cup milk*               

pinch salt

*You may need a little more milk than this, depending on how much you’ve heaped the cups of flour.

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.  I use fan bake.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and cheese into a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients. (A well is like a hollow or depression.)
  4. Mix egg and sugar in a cup and pour into the well. Don’t mix it in yet.
  5. Melt the butter and add it to the well. Still don’t mix.
  6. Pour 1 cup of milk into the well. Now you get to mix.
  7. Use a spurtle (see Tip No. 1) to combine the ingredients so they form quite a sticky dough (see Tip No. 3). Add more milk if necessary. 
  8. Turn out onto a floured surface and gently squeeze the mixture  with both hands to further combine. (See Tip No. 4)
  9. Press, roll and pat with your hands until you’ve formed a long, fat rectangle.Raw scone dough
  10. Cut in half lengthways, and then cut each half into 6 pieces. Place the 12 scones onto a metal baking sheet, slightly separated. They shouldn’t stick to the tray.

Bake at 200°C for 13-15 minutes. Makes 12

Notes:

Perfect cheese scones are best served warm, with your favourite toppings. I like lashings of butter. Others prefer to add jam; my Farmer always tops his with honey. Some of the family love to add slices of tomato and ham, and —  if you’re in New Zealand — you can always add some Vegemite. (A special savoury topping, loved by New Zealanders and Australians.)

These scones will keep for a day in an airtight container, or can be frozen up to 3 months. You can refresh them in the microwave, wrapped in a dry paper towel.

Five Tips to Make You a Scone Expert

4 essentials for making scones: cheese, heaped cup of flour, an egg and a spurtle.

# Tip 1 — Use a spurtle to mix your scones.

A scone mixture shouldn’t be stirred. Instead you pull a spurtle through the mixture, almost as if you’re cutting it. As you cut, turn it over to mix. Stop mixing as soon as the dough comes together.

If you don’t have a spurtle, a blunt knife is the next best option.

# Tip 2 — Be generous with your measurements.                              

Scones respond well to generosity. My cupfuls look like mini flour mountains.

# Tip 3 — The dough should be somewhat sticky and moist.  

It should still be dough-like, but dry dough equals dry scones. It’s better to make it slightly too wet than too dry. You can always add more flour to the board when you tip the mixture out, to counteract any excess stickiness.

# Tip 4 — Don’t over-mix the dough.

As soon as it comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface. Squeeze and pat it with your hands until it forms into a long, fat sausage. The less you have to handle it the better. Having said that, over-mixing is not a catastrophic mistake. The scones will still taste great but might not be quite as light.

# Tip 5 — Practice makes perfect.

The more you make these, the better they—and you— will get.

Thanks are due

To Jessica, from A Taste For Living   who taught me a lot about recipe writing while we edited this together.

Collaborating in real-time on Google Docs was an experience we both had fun with.
Cheers, Jess.

Living The Dream At Craft Keepers

Craft Keepers Dream

We all have dreams, but not everyone manages to follow them quite as thoroughly as Tabatha Davison. Just three years ago she was working in Queenstown, travelling the weekend market circuit, and dreaming of life in the country. Today Tabatha’s the proud owner of Craft Keepers here in Garston, where she not only makes and sells her own jewellery but also houses a wonderful collection of arts and crafts.

Southern Made

Walking into Craft Keepers is a visual delight; your eyes are drawn to so many artfully-displayed creations it’s hard to know where to look first. What’s most appealing is the authentic nature of the crafts.

“Every piece is created in Otago or Southland,” Tabatha explains. “When customers ask about the maker, I love to tell those little details that make each piece of work so special.”

It’s hard to resist such enthusiasm so I dive in and ask. I collect gorgeous coffee mugs so naturally that’s where I begin.

“Isn’t it lovely,” Tabatha smiles, picking up a mug. “Even the clay comes from Southland. They are beautifully balanced and the colours are just gorgeous.”

 

Gorgeous Gifts

There is so much to choose from in this crafty converted container that it’s hard to know where to begin.

Created While You Watch

Not only is Craft Keepers a haven of lovely arts and crafts, it’s also Tabatha’s workshop and most days you’ll discover her creating beautiful jewellery there. I’m drawn to the delicate silver chains, but Tabatha’s favourites are the costume pieces.     

“I’ve always loved the flair and variety of costume,” she says. “It’s so easy to be experimental and out there.”

Tabatha’s customers certainly love the Craft Keepers experience. Locals pop in to buy gifts and tourists visit for the perfect NZ-made souvenir. There’s increasing repeat trade from those who regularly travel the busy Te Anau-Queenstown state highway too.

Tabatha Davison outside Craft Keepers.
Come on in.

See For Yourself

Tabatha’s got a great thing going at Craft Keepers. She’s brought the creative, collaborative vibe of the markets into the middle of Garston.  The next time you need a gift or souvenir with style, don’t rush to a giant impersonal store. Think small, think local and pop into Craft Keepers. You won’t be disappointed.

Find Craft Keepers

ON  FACEBOOK

AT: The Container, Garston-Athol Highway, Southland

 

 

 

You Can’t Beat A Great Coffee Bomb

The Coffee Bomb Food Trailer in Garston Village

The Coffee Bomb Dream

Kylie Sutton loves delicious food, cheerful chat, and great coffee, so when the chance came up to combine all three passions by buying the Coffee Bomb food trailer, she didn’t hesitate. Literally a small business — the whole trailer is only 4.5m long — the Coffee Bomb sits right in the heart of Garston. Travelling along the main tourist route of S.H.6 you just can’t miss it. In fact, its the perfect place to buy food-and-drinks-to-go.

Food Faves and Raves

The food in the Coffee Bomb cabinet has that homemade touch that’s hard to beat. Kylie cooks it daily right there in the Coffee Bomb’s tiny oven. Even the burgers have her famous home-style touch, with the gluten-free patties made onsite to delicious old-fashioned recipes. Add in slow-cooked lamb roasts and melt-in-your-mouth-tender pork belly — all cooked in the van —  and you’re in burger heaven. You won’t find burgers like these anywhere else.

“I’d have to say ‘The Bomb’ is our most popular burger” says Kylie. “Tabitha (from next-door Craft Keepers) and I invented it when we were cold and hungry one slow, winter’s day.”

Featuring fresh burger buns, pork belly & bacon, coleslaw, and dripping with tasty sauce, The Bomb has been a menu staple ever since. “There’d probably be a customer riot if we took it off the menu now,”

My personal favourites are the muffins. Kylie’s muffins actually taste as good as they look which, in my experience, is a very rare thing. Other locals rave over the homemade carrot cake, lolly cake, and of course, the locally-roasted ROAR coffee.

Village With a Vibe

But why would a former butcher, busy farmer, and volunteer fire fighter/medic set up a food stop in this tiny tourist town?

Kylie Sutton in the Coffee Bomb Food Trailer at Garston Villagef

“I love the vibe in Garston,” Kylie explains. “The locals are fabulous. So many people give us their whole-hearted support. The businesses complement each other too, and everyone is always willing to lend a hand. It’s great to have travellers who stop in on a regular basis, and of course the tourist trade is fantastic. We’re just in the right spot for a stop.”

But the Coffee Bomb vision doesn’t stop there. A boutique accommodation business “The Bomb Com” is planned for 2019. Watch this space, folks; with Kylie’s gift for customer service, it sounds like a winner to me.

Essential Links

FOOD MENU

COFFEE AND MORE

FACEBOOK

TRIP ADVISOR

 

Confessions of a Bookworm

AKA: Why I Never Read In Airports.

I have interests a-plenty, but only one grand passion. I adore writing, but even that pales, compared to my full-blown obsession with reading. Hand me a new book and don’t bother talking until it’s finished. I won’t hear you — a fact that has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion. Let me tell you of the time I started a new book at the airport…

Picture this:

With a couple of hours to spare before my flight, I saunter into the bookshop. I love to look, but I know better than to buy a book at the airport. Twice the price — and sooo dangerous (for me!) Sure enough, staring me in the face is a book that screams BUY ME NOW.

So, I do.

With 90 minutes till the flight, I dash through security and sit just metres away from the gate entrance. It’s so early — I’m the ONLY person in the small lounge. I open the book.

Got the picture? The next thing I knew, someone was calling my name… over the airport sound system.  Lyn McNamee get to your gate now! (or words to that effect.)

Yes, it’s true.

Every single other passenger on that full flight to Queenstown had arrived in the lounge, heard the multiple announcements to board, lined up beside my seat, and boarded the plane.

And I noticed nothing.

If you’ve ever been that passenger who delays departure with their tardiness, you’ll know the glares that greeted me as I slunk onto the plane.

And you also know why I have never dared to open a book at an airport again.

3 Novels To Love

I couldn’t tell you my favourite novel, but I could certainly name my top hundred. Every single one sits on my bookcase waiting to be lovingly plucked up and re-read. Don’t worry — I’m not going to list them all now. But if you’re in the mood for a good book, here are three of the best.


BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty

Cover of book: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

One thing’s clear in Big Little Lies: someone dies. That’s established on Page 7.

But here’s the mystery: Not just whodunnit but WHO DIED?

I love the unusual format of this book; how personalities and situations slowly reveal themselves in every chapter; the hidden twists and turns. Parts of it made me cry. And best of all, it finished fittingly. All in all, a deeply satisfying read.

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY & POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY             by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Cover of book: The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society.

I can echo that sentiment with “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Where to begin with such a beloved book? The title alone is surely enough to intrigue…

Written as a series of letters, this novel takes us back first to post-war Britain and then paints a vivid picture of life in the Channel Islands during the German Occupation. I’m a history buff, love getting mail, and a sucker for a little romance so of course I fell in love with each character as soon as I met them. Brilliant.

THE LITTLE WOMEN LETTERS by Gabrielle Donnelly

Cover of book: The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly.

I picked this gem up unexpectedly in Emma’s At Oxford a few years ago now, and for that I’m truly grateful. It’s one of my favourites. Despite the name, though, this one’s not a series of letters.

If, like me, you grew up loving “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, then I guarantee you’ll like this book. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy come to life in unexpected ways as each letter is discovered, and so too, do their modern-day counterparts, Emma, Lulu and Sophie.

It’s a book of love and discovery. Finding who you want to be and where you fit in. Of growing up, and being okay with that.


How’s your bookshelf looking? Or are you more of a Kindle reader these days?

Whichever it is, I bet you have your own favourites . Tell me your top 3 and what you love about them.

 

Autumn or Fall

Yellow leaves frame a boat marina at Lake Te Anau.

A Breathtaking Season By Any Name

Autumn: It conjures colours in my mind. Deep reds, brilliant oranges and bright yellow; vivid hillsides or fiery avenues; these are the scenes that await in the South Island during March, April and May. Time to bring out the camera or the paint brushes. How to capture so much splendour?

Fall — the American name —  brings a later time to mind. Leaves gently floating, one following the other. Or a windy night, followed by a red-gold and brown crunchy carpet — all the leaves downed at once. This is playtime: children shouting, laughing, scuffing through the leaves and building great heaps to leap into and to toss in the air.

Autumn Down Under

In the Southern Hemisphere everything seems topsy-turvey to those from northern parts. When we have winter — you have summer; we’re in daylight — you’re in night. Ideally, Our houses face north, if they can,  because southerly weather in New Zealand comes from Antarctica and it’s COLD.

You might think that being such a small country our climate would be the same throughout, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Living here in Garston we are closer to the South Pole than to the equator, and the weather is quite different to that of New Zealand’s northerly provinces. So are the seasons.

New Zealand native trees are mostly evergreen so their colour comes from beautiful flowers and berries. But our English pioneers missed the trees of home and planted many, many deciduous trees, especially in the South Island where they’ve flourished.

A Stunning Season

So autumn is a beautiful season down here. The awareness that cold weather is on its way causes the deciduous trees to withdraw the green chlorophyll from the leaves back into the branches and trunk where it will wait out the winter, ready to be used come spring. Now it’s time for other pigments in the leaves to shine, and what a glorious show they make.

My Class Loves Painting in Autumn

I’m not a great artist myself, but I love teaching art to my class of 5 – 7 year olds at Garston School.  We love the autumn colours around our school. Last week we learned one way of showing reflections with autumn colours.

Here are 3 of my favourites:

Another post in the series Autumn Harvest on the Farm.