Saturday, November 17, 2012

Recipe - Pineapple Jam

Hooray - It's pineapple season! 


I love pineapple - at the moment they are sweet, juicy and oh so delicious!! I never knew how to pick a good pineapple, people used to say to pull at one of the leaves and if it came easily it was ripe, but since meeting Sefo I have learnt that the nicest pineapple is just the one that is starting to turn yellow to red (for the big ones) and for the little ones when they turn from green to yellow ...


We bought a few of them and have enjoyed eating them for afternoon tea, and then Sefo asked me to make some jam - I've never made jam before (I have seen my mum do it many times, but never really learnt how!). So I Googled some recipes and found one that I have all the ingredients for...Sefo doesn't like sweet things much, so given how sweet the pineapples were, I decided to halve the sugar and see what happened! I only used one pineapple just in case everything when pear-shaped...I didn't want to waste too much!!


The recipe I used is from the website www.allrecipes.com - below is the modified version that I did...


Peeled pineapple,
 I don't have any picture of it grated
as my hands were too sticky!
Ingredients

·         1 medium pineapple

·         1 cup (250ml) water

·         1 cup sugar

·         2 tbsp lime juice







Preparation method
·          1.  Grate the flesh of the pineapple. There should be about 2 cups
This was just before I added the sugar, in
hindsight I should have waited a bit longer!
           2.  Put into a saucepan with water and cook for about half an hour until soft.  
             3. Add sugar and lime juice then cook until thick; about 45-60 minutes.
       4.  Spoon into sterilised jars and keep in fridge.

      




       I probably didn't cook it as long as I should have in step 2, so there are still some hard bits in it, and it didn't turn out as 'jammy' as I thought it would, just a bit like mashed stewed pineapple! But the flavour is really yummy - it's sweet but not too sweet (I'm very glad I didn't add the extra cup of sugar the original recipe called for, but if the pineapple wasn't as sweet then I probably would next time).

The finished product -
looks good enough to eat!
  
      Since making this, I spoke to my mum who looked in an old cookbook and found a recipe for pineapple and grapefruit marmalade - I think I'll try that next as we also have grapefruit in season here!

Mmmm....bon appetit! 
    
     



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Here fishy fishy fishy...



My hero!
I'm lucky I  met my husband, not only is he a great man, husband and father, he is also an excellent fisherman! His weapon of choice is a spear (for those not familiar with spear fishing, the spear is not like one you hold and just throw down at fish in a stream - this is more like a gun with a spear instead of bullets!). It's very impressive the way he sinks to the bottom of the reef (sometimes over 10m!), waits and shoots! He can hold his breathe long enough to scare me!! He catches medium size fish this way (trevally, snapper, and others I don't know the translated name of) and occasionally a big one! Often the big ones are the ones that (literally) get away - twisting out of his hands before he can finish them off. 
He can also line fish outside the reef. This is where he catches the massive impressive fish, like spanish mackeral, tuna, snapper...

Looky here! It's dinner!
Lying in wait on the sandy bottom
of the reef floor













This means that when money is tight, we can still eat! I was never a huge fish eater - unless Friday night Fish and Chips counts!! I used to like a piece of salmon fillet, or maybe some blue grenadier my mum would buy from the supermarket, or a tin of tuna...but thanks to my husband I have been introduced to a whole world of fish!

One good haul (lying in the back of the ute!)

Now it's just a matter of finding new ways to cook them!

Most locals here either fry their fish, or boil it in coconut milk (homemade of course, Ill tell you how they make that another time!), or just boiled in water. Or eat them raw (certain species only!) in a fish salad. They also fight over who gets to eat the head...eurgh!

None of those options are really that appealing to me (although I have developed a taste for the raw fish). I can appreciate that this was the way they have been bought up, but for me I think I can do something a bit tastier!!

Here is what I have done so far...
Filleting the fish

  1.  My husband is great at filleting me a piece of fish, which I coat in a bit of flour and pan fry with some lemon. Simple and tasty!
  2. In a baking dish, I place some onion, tomatoes, white wine, garlic and a whole fish. Cover in foil and bake in the oven until the fish is cooked. The bigger the piece of fish, the better the vegetables taste (as they have been cooked longer!). It is pretty much just steamed fish, but the flavours are pretty great!
  3. Sashimi! Yum - I love it when we have tuna or Spanish mackerel - we don't have the seaweed wrappers to make sushi here (although I did bring some from Australia and made sushi, but thats all gone now...)
  4. ??? I need some new recipes...any suggestions??
    Homemade sushi - tuna and avocado...
    I wish we could but the seaweed stuff here!
    Mmmm...Sashimi!


Another good thing about Wallis is there is other seafood around, with the right pair of gloves and the right moon in the sky, my husband can go and find us some lobsters! Yum. I prefer these boiled and served with a bit of mayo, or BBQed...delicious! We can also get coconut crabs, mud crabs...


BBQ'd goodness!
Mmm...all this talk is making me hungry - and we have fish for lunch today!
Bon appetit!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe: Pancakes with Salted Caramel Sauce

...Nothing beats some yummy pancakes for breakfast, or for afternoon tea!

In Wallis I get to enjoy some long life milk (or powdered milk, the choice is mine!), one type of self-raising flour and one type of plain flour, one type of eggs (and they aren't free range)!...but despite that, the ingredients are still here which means I can still make pancakes!!

I have had a great pancake recipe for years - light, fluffy and oh-so-easy to make! I don't even remember who taught me! But it goes a little like this:

PANCAKES
The only milk and flour we have here!
The egg white is beaten in the cup.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 egg, separated
  • Milk
  1. Combine flours into a large bowl. Add the egg yolk. Slowly add the milk, stirring vigorously until there are no lumps and the batter is the consistency that you like (some like thin pancakes, some like fat - i prefer relatively thin).
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg while until peaks form.
  3. Slowly fold egg whites into the pancake mixture taking care not to squish all the air.
  4. Dollop/pour/spoon batter into a fry pan (i usually put some butter in it first), sometimes i make big pancakes and sometimes small - see how you feel on the day!
  5. Once bubbles form, flip them over. Cook for the same time on the other side.
  6. 6. Enjoy with maple syrup, fresh fruit, yoghurt...or try this salted caramel sauce!


SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE

I first tried this sauce when I was 5 months pregnant, on holiday in Noumea, New Caledonia.  I ordered a crepe and thought I would try this sauce. It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! This version isn't quite as good as what the shop gave me (perhaps it is because I am supposed to use heavy cream, but here in Wallis we only have long-life cream!), but despite that, this sauce is still pretty great! It's very very sweet so if you aren't a huge sweet tooth then just add a little to pancakes (or ice-cream) and I'm sure you will still enjoy it!

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/8th teaspoon on salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (preferably salted)
  1. Pour the sugar into a thick based, large saucepan and put on a medium heat. Don't do anything until you see the sugar melting at the edges.  Once it starts melting, slowly stir the sugar while it all melts.  It will form clumps and look like its not working, but just wait, it will all melt!

melting the sugar

sugar is melted










2.   Keep stirring until its all liquid and a dark copper colour (remember the old 1c piece...like that)! - it will smell a bit smokey which is fine. Once its the dark colour (but not burnt!) remove from the heat and quickly (and carefully as it will all bubble up) stir in about 1/4 of the cream.

3. Slowly add the remaining cream while you continue to stir. Once it's all in there, add the salt and butter and keept stirring until the butter has melted.


Adding cream
Adding butter and salt

4. Serve warm with pancakes (or ice-cream! or both!!)



TipThis recipe should keep a few weeks in the fridge, just heat it up when you want to use some more!






Bon appetit! 

The beginning...

Hello!

View from the air -
the mainland is in the background,
surrounded by smaller islands and  the lagoon,
I always said my life revolved around food - and I guess this blog is just going to prove that point more! But to tell you the truth, there isn't really a whole lot more going on in this far-flung place that I've found myself living in. Wallis Island (part of Wallis and Futuna Island) is located in the South Pacific, about an hours flight from Fiji - you can find it on Google maps, but make sure you have your glasses handy - it is a really really small dot!! 

The flag
Wallis became a French Territory about 50 years ago, and before that some Americans came during a war and built the airport. Despite these things, Wallis remains quite a traditional place. The population is around 10,000 and it's religion predominantly Catholic and the locals continue to strongly respect their religion and traditional culture.  It is normal is for people to live with their extended families. The children support the parents, and unemployment is at something incredibly high like 80%. Most young people head to New Caledonia or France after finishing school to either gain further education (there are actually more Wallisians living in Noumea than in Wallis!), join the army or find a job. My husband went to Australia, and that's where the lucky bloke met me!

There isn't much to do here - sure there are beautiful islands for relaxing on (unfortunately most of the beaches on the main land have been ruined because of people taking sand to make concrete), a wonderful reef for snorkelling (although some dynamite fishing is destroying some of it - there really is not much care for environmental protection here). It is a very basic place, there are no street signs or numbers, there is one high school (students from Futuna have to come and board here once they reach 15-16 years old), a couple of shops, and the lack of competition is seen in the prices!
Underwater view


The locals still practise many traditions, including dancing, cooking (the traditional cooking is where they make an 'Umu' - wrapping food in banana leaves and burying it underground and using hot coals/coconut shells to cook), each family usually has access to a plantation where they farm root vegetables like taro, tapioca, cape, yam etc. There is plentiful tropical fruit like bananas, coconuts, and come the right season - mango, pineapple, avocados...yum! And of course fish and other seafood. The other common dish is pork - people give gifts of pigs for any special occasion. 

The cost of living is very high - everything is imported and there is really no competition - all of the little corner shops are supplied by the same company, the food is mostly from France and a lot from Australia and New Zealand - the Wallisians love their Arnott's Biscuits, particularly Sao, and tinned corned beef! Bills are also astronomical, we average $400AUD/month for electricity, and internet is $150AUD/month for the slowest connection speed! 

The high school
But I have found myself here, with my (Wallisian) husband and my almost 1 year old son. I have left my world behind, and although I have lived here for 2 years, I only speak a little of both languages (French and Wallisian -I haven't been immersed in either which has made it difficult) and this has limited my friendship making, I hardly go out (there are no cafes or cinemas here!), and I'm pretty isolated -I do walk every afternoon when it's not raining! I have been working as the English Assistant (or Assistant D'Anglais! at the high school for the last 2 years, and am currently waiting to see if my contract has been extended). I am slowly making more friends so hopefully will have some dinner parties soon, or get invited to a restaurant (here, if you invite someone to a restaurant you have to pay for everyone so we haven't done much inviting!!) 

Although our stay here is only temporary (one more year we hope), it will always be part of our lives so I try to enjoy it as much as I can! Of course I need things to occupy my time, and although my boy takes a lot of it, and I do teach some English here, and I hope this blog will be a worthwhile experience for me! 

With this blog my aim is to talk about the local life through food! I'll blog about my cooking experiences, costs of buying things, restaurants and local events...food is central but other things will hopefully be interesting too!!

Anyway, it's my dinner time, I'm eating Bami tonight (will tell you more about this soon), 

 Bon appetit!
 Jo