Preserving Chilli

There’s not much nicer in the kitchen than being able to cook with the food that you have grown only metres away!

Our chilli plants have been very productive this summer and these are a couple of the ways I have used them.

Chopped/Minced Chilli – use 1 flat tsp in place of 1 fresh chopped chilli in any recipe.

  • 150g chilli
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar.

Place whole chillis and vinegar in your processor and process until well chopped. (Speed 6, 10 seconds).


Of course, if you don’t have a processor you can just finely chop by hand and then stir through the vinegar.

Store in small, sterilised glass jars.

Chilli Infused Olive Oil – use in place of regular olive oil in cooking to add a bit of extra bite, or as a dip for some delicious crunchy bread.

  • 400ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 small chillis (mine were the size of my index finger)

Slice chillis lengthways and place in a saucepan with the oil.



Bring to a gentle simmer  (100C, Speed 1, about 4-5 minutes) and then remove from the heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Pour into sterilised glass bottles, through a sieve to remove the seeds. Then add the remaining chilli flesh into the bottles and seal.



Enjoy all year ’round 🙂


You have probably read about my Mum being a fabulous cook many times on this blog. I’m always hopeful that I can come close to approximating her meals with our dietary limitations.

However, as a kid, I only remember gravy being made in instant form from powder in a packet (Sorry Mum!)… most probably because it was much quick and less fatty. So as an adult learning how to make gravy has been a bit of a challenge for me…. and it seems I’m not alone! It was always a little hit and miss until I recently saw a very old episode of ‘Good Eats’, hosted by Alton Brown. His method for making gravy was to thicken with a roux (fat and flour), so that the flour has already cooked out before it combines with the meat juices. And now we get great gravy every time.

I tend to cook in bulk, and gravy is no exception. This recipe makes about 3 cups of gravy. I pour into reusable squeezey containers and freeze. It means when I cook a leg of lamb that does us for 3 meals – I have the gravy ready to go for each of the following meals too.

  • 3 cups Meat juices (I get about this from a large leg of lamb that I have slow cooked)
  • 2 tbsp fat (either from the meat or Nuttelex)
  • 2 tbsp flour (I use either spelt or a GF flour mix)

A general ratio of 1 tbsp fat, 1 tbsp flour to each 1.5 cups of liquid.

After I have removed the meat, I strain the meat juices and reserve the liquid.


Sit the liquid in the fridge for a couple of hours so that the fat separates and solidifies on the top. Then I scoop off the fat.


In a medium saucepan warm the juices back up – they will be quite jelly-like after cooling.

In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, melt your fat of choice, either the fat scooped off the top of the top of the cooled meat juice or use Nuttelex.

Then add in your flour. Whisk it to combine well. This is your roux and it needs to cook for about 4-5 minutes, whisking regularly, to allow the raw taste of the flour to cook out.


Then add 1/2 a cup of the warmed meat juices at a time into the roux, whisking whilst you add, and waiting till all combined before you add the next 1/2 cup.

Cooking, whisking regularly over a very gentle heat until you see the mixture come to a very slight simmer. Remove from the heat and serve with your meal.

Silky smooth!


Mixtures thickened with flour will continue to thicken on cooling, so try to serve as soon as possible. You can add a little boiling water if you wish to have runnier gravy.

Of course, you can use this method for all meats and add extra flavours to intensify those already in the juices.



Sweet Chilli Sauce

For the first time I have got chillies growing great guns in my garden. We use chilli a bit but not quite enough to keep up with the supply we are currently getting. So we wanted to preserve some in order for us not to waste them!

We all like Sweet Chilli Sauce, but we are trying to reduce refined sugar (of which there is a heap in store bought varieties!), so it was the next step to give our own version a go.

Super easy and super tasty!

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • approx 50g very hot red chillies

If you would like a less hot sauce, then use a larger variety chilli or remove the seeds before processing.

These little guys are labelled ‘extreme heat’!

Finely chop chillies.

Then place all ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil.

Turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about an hour, or until the mixture has reduced by about half. Mixture will thicken furterh on cooling.

Pour into sterilized glass bottles and seal.


To do this in a Thermal Cooker, blitz chillies on Speed 6 for 6 seconds. Then add remaining ingredients and set on Speed 1, Steam/Varoma temp for a couple of minutes, until it reaches a boil. Remove the measuring cap and set on Speed 1, 80C for about 45-50 minutes or until mixture as reduced by half.

Enjoy 🙂



My husband and 3 boys are serious Mexican food fans (even miss Fussy quite enjoys it) – Tacos, Nachos, Enchiladas, Steak Burritos, Mexican meatballs, Taco steak with Mexican Bean Salad, Salsa Chicken …. we could eat Mexican just about every other night and they’d be happy!

What I’m not so happy about is the quantity of additives and preservatives in  the jars of salsa type sauces to use in these dishes. So I’ve had a go at making my own based on the back of a jar we’d had … and it was a winner! This makes quite a big batch so we will be using this from now on instead of the store-bought variety.

  • 800g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium capsicum (colour of your choice)
  • 1/2 brown onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced chilli
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt flakes
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar/maple syrup

Simply place all ingredients into your food processor and pulse until you reach the consistency you enjoy.


Fewer times for a chunky salsa to dip your chips in, and more times for a smoother salsa to go inside your burritos, enchiladas, Salsa Chicken etc.

Makes quite a large batch – the equivalent of 3 large store bought jars.



Creamy Satay Curry (with vegan option)

I love a creamy curry and I especially love a really easy one that I can pack with lots of veg and do in bulk in the slow cooker and have enough left over for a second meal.

  • 800g gravy beef, diced
  • 400g tin chic peas, drained
  • 3 cups diced pumpkin
  • 3 large handfuls sliced button mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 270ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 quantities Nut Free Satay sauce

Place beef, pumpkin and chick peas in slow cooker, pour satay sauce over the top. Place lid on cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.


Lift lid, add in mushrooms and mix well. Replace lid and cook on low for a further 3 hours.

Stir in spinach and coconut milk and stir well just before serving.


Serve with brown rice (or cauliflower rice).


I have also made this curry as a vegan meal by leaving out the beef and doubling up the quantity of chic peas, pumpkin and mushroom.

Makes about 8-10 adult serves. Freezes and defrosts well.

Enjoy 🙂

Sweetened Condensed Almond Milk (and Dulce de Leche)

Sweetened Condensed milk is so useful in baking – but when you can’t have dairy it rules it out.

The fats in dairy milk and coconut milk make them really good for reducing into condensed milk – but we’re not huge fans of coconut, so I have tried to condense oat milk and rice milk before but without huge success.

More recently I had a go at almond milk. I was a bit hesitant at first but it seemed to be taking forever  but I was patient (well … probably just stubborn!) and it worked – and worked beautifully!!! And even better, this one is free of refined sugar – Yay!

It isn’t super sweet (on purpose) but if you prefer a much sweeter version increase the syrup to 150g.

  • 500ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 100g rice malt syrup

Place both ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and allow to reduce by half, stirring regularly. Takes close to 2 hours.

In a Thermal Cooker, bring to the boil by using ST temp, on speed 1 for about 6 minutes, then, remove the measuring cup to all the steam to escape, turn the temperature down to 90C and leave on speed 1 for an hour. Check on it after an hour and set for another half an hour, then 5-10 minutes at a time after that, until the liquid has reduced by about half. Will take close to 2 hours

So simple! 500ml of milk gives about 240ml of condensed milk (equivalent of 1 tin). Store in the fridge for a few days.


If you allow the liquid to reduce even further (about another 20 or 30 minutes) you will get an amazing, thick, creamy dulce de leche that you can use as a caramel in baking, a dip for fruit …. or just eat with a spoon!! I’ve added some Himalayan salt to mine at the beginning of cooking to give a salted caramel. Mmmmm!!

500ml of milk gives about 100g of Dulce de Leche.