Monthly Archives: June 2011

Salt scrub

Salt scrub in jar

Last winter, I bought some salt body scrub at the West End markets. My skin is a big sook and doesn’t cope with dry weather (or cold, hot, or wet weather for that matter – I’m not quite sure what environment I’m really built for, but I suspect it’s indoors), but the scrub made it feel great. When it ran out, I bought a fancy beauty spa version of it from Mecca Cosmetica and I was also given a L’Occitane version for my birthday. Both of these were were really good too.

This year I was worried I wouldn’t have any (like, actually worried about this in the way someone might worry about something important), because of my limited finances. But after a bit of a look around the internets, I found a few recipes. I didn’t exactly follow any of them, but I did learn that the key (well, only) ingredients of salt scrub are salt and oil, and decided I could probably manage making it myself. When I did, I felt equal parts impressed with my resourcefulness and embarrassed that I’d bought it in the first place.

Salt scrub

Jar – I’ve found that one with a plastic lid or one of those latch-type lids is best
Fine salt – not the iodised stuff
Grapeseed oil – apparently you can also use almond oil, which I decided would be too expensive, or olive oil, but this can be a bit ‘oily’, whatever that means…
Essential oil – you can use whatever takes your fancy – I recommend rosemary

Combine the oil and salt and add a few drops of the essential oil. To avoid making too much of a mess, I suggest filling the jar about two thirds full of salt and then adding a bit of oil at a time and mixing with a knife until combined. You can then add more salt if it looks a bit oily. When it’s finished, it will form a kind of clumpy mixture, like this:

Salt scrub

Stir through a few drops of the essential oil, and that’s it.

To use it, rub about half a teaspoon of the scrub all over dry hands for about 10 seconds. Wash it off with warm water and dry your hands thoroughly. They should feel moisturised but not oily. You can also use it on your arms and legs, but be careful about how oily the floor gets when you do this. And it makes a nice gift. I mean, who wouldn’t be stoked to be given a Vegemite jar full of salt and oil?

Vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise, or thereabouts

Vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise

My boyfriend is vegetarian, but I’m not. This doesn’t actually cause any problems, it just means that when I cook dinner it’s almost always vegetarian. But when we go out, I almost always order meat. When they bring out our meals, wait staff almost always assume the meat is for him, not me. Is it really that unusal for a boy to order something vegetarian and a girl to order a steak?

Anyway. I made this dish once because I was hungry and spaghetti with a tomato sauce wasn’t going to cut it, so I threw in some lentils. And the result is something that approximates spag bol. If you give it to someone who hasn’t eaten meat for more than 10 years, they’ll believe you when you tell them that it’s almost exactly like spag bol. But tricking vegetarians isn’t the only reason to make it – it also happens to be tasty and filling. And cheap, which is important for a poor student like me.

Vegetarian spaghetti bolognaise
Serves 4. It should probably serve more, but we’re greedy.

This recipe really isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘precise’. I think I change it a bit each time I make it. You can throw in other vegetables too, like carrots, celery and mushrooms. It’s pretty hard to get it wrong.

about 1/3 packet of tubular spaghetti (it really is better with the tubes)
a tablespoon or so of olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
a couple of teaspoons of oregano
a couple of teaspoons of dried chilli flakes (depending on how hot you want it)
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
about 1/4  cup of red wine
about a cup of vegetable stock
a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tins of brown lentils, rinsed and drained
100 g fetta, crumbled
handful of parsley, chopped finely

Cook pasta according to packet instructions.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Cook onions and garlic until soft. Add oregano, chilli, bay leaves and salt and pepper and stir for a few seconds until mixed through. Add wine, stock, tomato past and tinned tomatoes. Bring to the simmer for a few minutes. Add the lentils and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and spag bol-ish. This takes a few minutes. Add cooked, drained spaghetti and mix the lentils through. Stir through the fetta and parsley.

Sometimes we have this with extra cheese, which is really not necessary, but good nonetheless. I find that in pasta, as with in life, you can never have too much cheese.

Fettuccine wound

fettucini wound

Have you ever cut yourself with pasta? I have. It wasn’t cooked pasta, which I hope makes it marginally less silly. I’m cooking pasta for dinner tonight. Perhaps I should wear safety gloves…

Potato and leek soup

Potato and leek soup

The world (by which I mean, the internet) probably doesn’t need another recipe for potato and leek soup. But it can suck it, here’s mine anyway. This follows from my previous hi-larious potato henge post.

Potato and leek soup is pretty much the best thing about winter. My recipe, or rather, the way I throw it together, changes regularly, but I think I’ve finally settled on the best version. I’ve tried it with cheese, with cream, with cheese and cream, and in the end the best version has soy milk and no cheese; it’s actually almost vegan. But seeing as I’m not vegan, I put butter in it. And wine, which seems to be a bit iffy in terms of vegan-ity.

Potato and leek soup
Serves at least four.

50 g butter (salted/unsalted, it doesn’t matter)
1 tbs or so of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 leeks, chopped into rounds (doesn’t really matter if the bits are a bit chunky)
6 big potatoes, peeled, chopped into chunks (by big, I guess I mean fist-sized… I try to get the biggest ones possible so I don’t have to do as much peeling)
salt and pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 cup white wine (I use the cheapest bottle of sauvignon blanc I can find)
6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable stock
bunch of parsley, chopped
2 cups soy milk

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat until butter is melted. Add leeks and garlic and cook gently until softened. Season with salt and pepper and add oregano.

Add the potatoes, wine and stock. Cook until the potatoes are soft. I usually leave them for a while, at least half an hour, so it’s easier to blend them.

Add parsley and soy milk. Take the pot off the heat and use a hand-held stick blender (I really don’t know what to call these things, I call it a ‘thingy’ or a ‘whizzer’ and mime using one so people get what I mean). You could also blend it in batches in a regular blender.  Whiz until smooth and your done. I put sour cream in this one, other times I put some crumbled fetta on the top. But it doesn’t really need anything. Serve with toast.

Pear tarts

Pear tarts

Check out my fancy pear tarts! I made them for my grandmother’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. I think they’re the most impressive looking things I’ve ever made. They look a bit tricky, but they’re not really, so when you make them everyone thinks you’re cleverer than you are…

The recipe is from the June 2010 issue of delicious. and it’s also available on Spanish pear tarts with Pedro Ximénez syrup. It says to use Pedro Ximénez (Spanish sweet sherry), but I just used the cheap McWilliams sweet cooking sherry and it was fine.