Monday, 30 September 2013

Triangular Shaped Stuffed Silverbeet Leaves

As I have mentioned here in my stuffed zucchini recipe post, we truly enjoy a variety of stuffed vegetables, dolmas, as a family. Just recently, a lovely lady from our local community, who has become a friend, happily shared some of her delicious vegetables from her plot in the community garden with us. The colours and the smell of all those vegetables and herbs were just divine. I just had to put everything aside and make something with the fresh produce as soon as I was given them. The first thing I did was to make something that my mum used to make for us when I was a child; triangular shaped stuffed silverbeet leaves. I actually make our stuffed leaves in two shapes and this is the harder shape to form. Stay tuned for a tutorial on the other way of stuffing leaves. 


Tomato paste or diced tomatoes
Medium grain rice (about 1.5 - 2 teaspoonsful of rice for each leaf)
Ground mint
Fresh parsley (optional)
Water (boiled)
Black pepper (optional)
Olive oil


Wash your silverbeets. Separate your silverbeet leaves from their stems as shown in picture below. Don't throw away your stems, they make and add flavour to many delicious meals, which I will be sharing with you at the end of this post.

stuffed silverbeet step1

Dice your onions and cook in some olive oil and tomatoes or tomato paste until the onions are nice and soft.
stuffed silverbeets step2
Wash your rice well.

Rice - stuffed silverbeet

Chop your fresh parsley.


Add your rice, salt, pepper and herbs (mint and parsley) to the onions and mix well. Add a small amount of boiling water, close the lid, turn off the stove and let it absorb the water.

In the meantime, boil a generous amount of water in a large pot and then put your silverbeet leaves in it. It takes only some seconds before the leaves soften. Once the leaves are softened, (approximately 30 seconds) put them in a strainer to drain the excess water off.

When the leaves and the stuffing are cool enough for you to touch comfortably, you can start making your dolmas. The pictures below show you how to make them step-by step. Just a reminder though that you will need to cut the leaves in half lengthwise, following the stem line. In other words, each leaf will make two triangle dolmas (if the leaves are really big, you can them in half and that will make four triangles from the same leaf).

Now, here is the details of the arts of making triangular shaped dolmas:

1. Put about a teaspoonful of stuffing on top of the 'wrong side' (the one with the more visible veins, the back of the smooth side) of the leaf close the larger end (which is where the stem was originally).

2-3-4. Fold the outer side of the leaf and place it on top of the stuffing, all the way to the inner edge (from right side to left side of the leaf).

5. Fold the leaf back onto the outer edge (so, it is folded from the left side to the right side).

6-7-8-9-10. Keep repeating the folding action each time to the opposite side (first towards the inner edge, then towards the outer edge and so on). This action is crucial in making the triangle shape.

11. If there is any small bits sticking out, fold them in and keep going as usual until the end.

12. Congratulations! Your first triangle is ready. I know it sounds like hard work but once you get the hang of it, it actually is enjoyable and is not really that hard. It also looks so much more pleasantly different to the usual rolled stuffed leaves.

stuffed silverbeets step3

Note: You can either cook your dolmas soon after you make them or pack them into freezer bags and store away in your freezer until you are ready to use them. They make great 'fast' food as it only takes about 20minutes to cook after this stage. When you come home later than expected or are too tired to cook something, instead of opting for nutrition-poor alternatives, you can just take this out of the freezer and while you are washing up and changing, your delicious and healthy meal will be pretty much ready. 

To cook your dolmas, place them in a pot. Add boiling water to it about an inch or two below the dolmas' level. First cook in high heat until the water boils. When you see that the water is boiling in the pot, turn the heat down and let it cook for approximately 20 minutes and then voila! Your meal is ready. Natural yoghurt compliments it really well. 

Before I say goodbye for now, let me quickly give you some ideas on how you can use the stems. I am sure there are many people over the world who could give you many recipes for them but what I generally use them for is as follows:

A) Dice and add to stir-fries.
B) Dice and add to vegetable soups.
C) Dice, lightly boil and make a mixture with some ricotta cheese to cook in pastry.
D) Dice, lightly boil and leave in the freezer until needed.
E) Dice and leave in the freezer until needed.
F) Dice, boil until soft, and leave aside while cooking some onion in oil and some tomato paste until the onions are soft. Once they soften, add the stems, add some salt and chilli flakes and cook for about 5 minutes. You can either eat it as is or you can crack some eggs on it and eat after the eggs are cooked. This particular recipe is one of our favourite silverbeet stem recipes. 

Enjoy some nutritious homemade food today!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

DID YOU KNOW ...? (73)

flightless birds, penguins
Photo Credit
Penguins are categorised as 'flightless birds'. They are the only birds that can swim but not fly. They are highly adapted for life in the water.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Word Puzzle for Beginner Readers

My son is a kindergarten student and is at the early stages of reading. He knows his alphabet, he is familiar with the sounds the letters make (phonetics) and is able to read some short words. I have recently made this puzzle for him using some of the words that he can read and we had a great time working on it together. I was more of a guidance available to him and he took the lead happily as soon as he understood the requirements of the activity. He did this just before he went to his kindergarten the other day and before he left home, he asked me if I could prepare him another one for him to work on after kinder that day. Well, this is my proof that this activity is a winner!

The list of the words in the puzzle is written on the bottom of the page. The list can be folded under or cut if you prefer your child to work on it without seeing the words/clues. However, I chose to include them and asked my son to use the list when he isn't sure what the missing letters may be. To me, it is a study skill and it worked well for my son.

Click here to access the printable puzzle as a PDF file.

Enjoy every minute of the quality time you have with your loved ones!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Our First DIY Greenhouse

My initial plan was to blog about the 30 second no-sew breastfeed cover tutorial that I had promised before but unfortunately, I haven't had the time to take photos for it yet. Therefore, it is still on the waiting list. However, I have got something else for you here today.

In Australia, we have happily opened our doors to the beautiful Spring and it has been quite generous to us already. Nice sunny days have definitely warmed us inside and out. There is always something to do in the garden and when it is nice and warm, the idea of gardening is very inviting, even though we've never stopped gardening throughout the whole year, even if it meant wearing a beanie, a scarf, a pair of gumboots, a few layers under a thick jacket and some nice gloves to be able to work outdoors.

DIY greenhouse materials

Early in winter this year, we decided to build a greenhouse over one of our garden beds, our first-ever greenhouse! It was very exciting indeed. As a family, we worked hard regardless of how harsh the weather had been at times. We achieved building our greenhouse over two afternoons.

From blinds to a greenhouse

Building a greenhouse using recycled mateirals

We tried to use recycled materials whenever possible and the most unusual recycled item we used was the rods that we saved from our old blinds in the house and used them to make the rooftop frame.

Green house


When we completed our greenhouse, we were very satisfied. However, soon after we noticed that it was too early to be happy as we started having many days with strong winds and the greenhouse had too much pressure in it. Some parts of it came undone and we had to find a solution to it. Our solution idea came from Mr. Hubby. As he suggested, we made several little so-called 'windows' on most sides of it and we used some strong tape to secure the ends of the cuts to make sure they would not keep ripping with strong winds. It seemed to be working well even though it was still not the ideal greenhouse. We also put some extra poles to support the frame and the plastic cover better. 

DIY greenhouse

We planted some broad beans, peas, beans, lettuce mix and silver beet in it. However, soon we recognised that the silverbeet seeds were something else and to this date, we still don't know what they are. We have to be a bit more patient before we can make anything out of it. Hopefully it is something edible at least!

broadbean plants

The plants started growing beautifully in the greenhouse until one day, one of our gorgeous girls (chickens) found a way to get in it on a windy day! We were happy that she had a feast and was quite a content girl when we found her but unfortunately, it came with a price: bean seeds were everywhere, there was almost no lettuce left, peas were mostly hidden under big piles of soil etc. The two lessons we learned from this experience were that making a greenhouse in a place where there are strong winds, you have to be extra cautious to make it nice and strong; and that chickens don't eat broad bean plants.

Chicken wire for garden beds

Garden bed

Towards the end of winter, we first opened the rooftop of the greenhouse and lessened the pressure even more for windy days and a few weeks ago, we took it down altogether to get the garden beds ready for Spring.

Handmade wooden door handle

vegie patches

Over a few afternoons, we made our three main vegie patches chicken-proof. The kids just loved being a part of the whole process and also playing in the dirt, of course. As for the girls (our chickens), they had a feast every time we turned the soil upside down or dug a hole on the ground. In fact, at times, it was so hard to work for us as they would not leave our sight for a second and their heads were always around our feet. We had to fight for space!

Chickens in the backyard

Brown Isa chicken

I plan to update you on the progress of our plants and trees in time as well as posting on other topics. Until my next post, make the most of the nature you are in regardless of the season you have there!

Sunday, 1 September 2013

DID YOU KNOW ...? (72)

Crickets's ears are located just below their knees on their front legs.
crickets's ears
Photo Credit