A Healthy(?) Dose of Organisation

I have finally managed to get around to organising my cookbook and food magazine bookcase after the move. I painstakingly packed my cookbooks and magazines into boxes according to what shelves they belonged on, but mum and Geoff got a little over zealous when we moved in and unpacked the books for me… and managed to get them all in the completely wrong place despite the numbering. It wasn’t so bad though, after a couple of hours of work my recipe shelves are now the most organised they have ever been… I mean look how pretty they look!

My organised bookshelf

The top shelf has all the ‘healthy’ or nutrition related cookbooks and magazines (Diabetic Living & Healthy Food Guide) on the left side and all the cookbooks by celebrity chefs or other famous people on the right side…

The next shelf down has food magazines on the left (including Australian Good Food, Australian Good Taste, Australian Table, Recipes+, Super Food Ideas), I could only fit the magazines from the last 2 years here… the bright boxes in the middle hold these laminated recipe cards that I made when I was a teenager, there are a lot of recipes in there I never tried, but also some of my favourites like M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cinnamon & Jam Donut Muffins, Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding, Spring Rolls & Asian Meatballs that I have been making for as long as I remember… and there is a special section on the right to help with planning meals…

Menu Planning Section

Each month I am going to put all the magazines from that month (off these shelves and also from the boxes where I keep my magazines that are older and won’t fit on the shelves) into this section here so that I can cook more things from the magazines I have… because as it is now, once I read a magazine it pretty much sits on the shelf (or a box) and gathers dust… so this is my attempt to actually use what I have… how crazy does that sound!?! This section also has a couple of notebooks to help me plan it out, a folder full of recipes that I have printed off my blog, tried and tested ones that we liked and want to make again… On the right hand side of the blue folder is where I am keeping the magazines and books that I am cooking from that week… organisation to the max!!

The middle shelf holds the rest of my cookbooks… they are sorted into categories from catering & International on the left through to Ingredient specific & Vegetarian on the right… it is so much easier to find the book that I am looking for now!

The second bottom shelf has the more expensive magazines on it, with Donna Hay on the left and Delicious on the right… there are also a couple of cookbooks related to these magazines in the middle… I used to buy both of these magazines religiously (I have Donna Hay from the very first issue) until I realised that although I enjoy reading them, I hardly ever make anything out of these magazines, where as I make quite a bit out of the cheaper magazines… I still ocassionally buy Delicious, but I have stopped buying Donna Hay completely now… I might reconsider when I get my own place and start entertaining more though, I think these magazines would be good for that… I am a sucker for a Christmas issue though… haha…

The bottom shelf houses all of mums old cookbooks… along with my older cookbooks, most of which I got given to me via freecycle… I don’t really use them that much (except when my cookbook challenge forces me to!)… the two magazine holders on the right are a series of microwave cooking magazines that my Nanna gave me, I should really go through them sometime and see if there are any decent recipes in them…

All this extra planning is making it much easier not only to figure out what we are going to eat each night, but also to fit in recipes from my cookbook challenge books, I am churning through them each week now! I’ve made two recipes from the current cookbook challenge book, ‘Eat Well, Live Well’ by Reader’s Digest. The pasta dish was really simple, light and full of flavour, but it isn’t really a dish to eat with company, if you get my drift… I saw the recipe for the Tofu Balls on Where’s the Beef?, Cindy got the recipe originally from Post Punk Kitchen… I made a half batch of these and the pasta dish as I was eating alone (hence the vegetarian meal… I have been craving tofu for ages!), my balls turned out more like mini rissoles because they flattened out a bit, but they were still delicious… the banana bars are great for breakfast, I found them a bit dry when they are first baked, but once they were in the fridge overnight they were really nice and the flavour came through more… mum wasn’t very fond of them, but apparently she doesn’t like bananas… who would have known!?

Four Onion Spaghetti w/ Soy Bombs (aka Tofu Balls) Serves 4

Four Onion Spaghetti w/ Soy Bombs (aka Tofu 'Meat'balls)

In a food processor mix together 500g extra firm tofu, 1 small finely chopped onion, 3Tbsp peanut butter, 3Tbsp soy sauce (2Tbsp if you peanut butter contains salt), 1/2C breadcrumbs & 1/2-1 bunch of basil (or other herb of your choice). Place in the fridge for half an hour to firm up.

In a large saucepan, heat 1Tbsp olive oil over a low heat. Add 2 large red onions, chopped, 1 large brown onion, chopped, 6 spring onions, including tops, thinly sliced & 4 shallots, chopped and cook for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Add 3 crushed garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes. Add 3Tbsp brandy (or apple juice) and cook for another minute. Stir in 1 1/2C vegetable stock, cover and cook for 25 minutes on a very low heat. Stir in 1tsp dried rosemary and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Add 2Tbsp plain flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add another 1C vegetable stock & a pinch of black pepper, bring to the boil over moderate heat and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Roll tofu mixture into 3cm balls and roll in plain flour (about 1/2C). Heat 1/3C vegetable oil in a frying pan until hot and fry tofu balls in batches until golden. Be careful, they are fragile!

While frying the batches of tofu balls, bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook 300g spaghetti (I used half white and half wholemeal) for 5 minutes or until al dente. Drain and transfer to serving bowls. Top with onion mixture, tofu balls & chopped spring onion tops (about 1/4C in total).

I am sending this one to Ruth from Once Upon a Feast for this weeks Presto Pasta Night roundup.

Banana Custard Oat Bars Makes 12

Banana & Oat Bars

Preheat oven to 190C and lightly grease a 23cm square baking dish. Soak 1/2C coarsely chopped dried fruit (I used a mixture of apple and pear) in 1/2C boiling water for 15 minutes. In the meantime, blend together 3Tbsp brown sugar, 2Tbsp margarine & 3Tbsp vegetable oil in a food processor until smooth. Add 1/2C plain wholemeal flour, 1/2C plain white flour (the recipe originally calls for all wholemeal, but I think this makes them too dry) & 1/2tsp ground cinnamon and mix until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Remove from food processor and mix in 1C instant or rolled oats. Put aside 1/2C of this mixture for the toping and press the remainder into the prepared dish. Bake the crust for 20 minutes.

In a clean food processor bowl, blend together 2 large bananas, cut into 3cm pieces, 1 large egg, 2 large egg whites, 3Tbsp honey & 1/4tsp ground ginger until smooth. Add the soaked fruit (drained) and pulse until just combined. Pour the banana mixture over the hot crust, sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until set. Let stand in the dish on a wire rack until warm and then cut into 12 bars. Once cooled completely, wrap individual bars tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. The recipe says they will keep for up to 4 days, but since I am the only one eating them they are still going strong 5 days after I made them (and hopefully for a few more days to come!).

This cookbook is pretty good, it has over 500 recipes in it and I already have a long list of things I want to cook out of it after only going through the breakfast and vegetarian sections… it is also one of the few cookbooks I have seen that doesn’t just claim to have healthy recipes without showing (full) nutritional data to back it up… each recipe has a nutritional breakdown (including carbohydrates – yay!) and there is even a section at the front of the book that includes recommended dietary intakes… which, although largely outdated now, would have been helpful back when the book was published… it also has a 12 page section on planning a healthy diet, which is actually full of sensible nutritional information without any of the hype I have seen in many other books claiming to be ‘healthy’… for a free book off someone on freecycle, this is definitely a find!

Moving on to the next cookbook challenge book (#16) which just happens to be ‘The Festive Season Handbook! My Library Thing Widget must know it is Christmas… hopefully I can get some ideas for my Christmas hampers from this book… I’ve already made a start on something which I will show you next week, but that wasn’t from this book…

8 thoughts on “A Healthy(?) Dose of Organisation

  1. With the first part of your sentence I thought you must be a tofu hater… but if you love tofu, what is wrong with the balls? lol…

    The books should stay that way because I am the only one that uses them… the special menu planning section may end up not getting changed when it is meant to though… the January magazines will probably end up being there until June or something… hehe…

  2. Those tofu balls are delicious aren’t they! Love all your organisation – looks like there is a little room to expand which is my main challenge with trying to find any semblance of order. And I spied a little holly hobbie book – I have a similar one which is a photo album – or used to – not sure if it is still about!

  3. They are very yummy :) But I don’t think mine had enough basil in them… I didn’t have much left…

    Room for expansion? I don’t see any! lol… everything fits perfectly for now, hopefully I don’t get any cookbooks for Christmas presents though (I can’t believe I just said that)…

    The Holly Hobbie book is my mums… it is one of those old fashioned recipe organisers with tabs for different types of dishes and lined pages to write favourite recipes on… I would like to say it is full of some special family recipes… but it is mostly empty, mum never got around to writing them in there, it was always just full of bits of paper tucked into the sections that would always fall out and get lost… lol…

  4. Nothing is more fun than sorting my cookbooks and magazines. At this point though, I either need more bookcases or have to relegate some of the older magazines to a box in the basement ;-(

    Thanks for sharing a great looking non-meat alternative to meatballs. A great choice for Presto Pasta Night this week.

  5. Cindy – I should have taken before photos… it was horrible!

    Ruth – Yeah, I will admit it was a lot of fun deciding where to put things… and I love the new section where I put all the magazines from that month… which is good for all those magazines I have relegated to boxes in the spare room… this way they still dont clog up the shelves, but I manage to use them ocassionally as well!

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