Sunday, 30 March 2014

Where chocolate comes from...

Cacao pods (with the beans inside)
Cacao is grown here in the Solomon Islands and sometimes these pods
show up at the market.  We love experimenting with these types of things,
but discovered the process of making chocolate is better left to the experts!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Lilisiana - A Village Built on Sand and Swamp

I was looking through some of our photos from when we went
to Malaita in 2008 and wanted to share these...

This is one of the first things you see as you arrive by boat at Auki.
That's when you know you aren't in the Western world anymore!

Looking down on the village

When the tide is in the only way to get around is by canoe or by specially
built coral paths that are built up above the water.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

I don't like chocolate... I LOVE it!

Chocolate Transfer Sheets and Making Chocolates...

I've messed around with making truffles before, but percentage wise, I've eaten a lot more chocolate than I've ever made.  I saw a TV show quite a few months ago where someone was making gorgeously decorated chocs. There began my mission to have a go at going to the next level!  Had to do a bit of research on the whole process and had to wait for an overseas trip to get these cool transfers...

I cut them to the size that I wanted to work with.

A lot of internet explanations said it is easy to use these. It kind of is but the tropical humidity took the stress up quite a few notches. Here's a useful site for anyone interested in having a go...

Had to temper the chocolate before I could spread it on the transfers.
Was a bit of a process but not too bad.

Once the chocolate sets a bit, (took nearly 3 hours in the heat here -
one site said it should take 5 minutes!) I cut the shape of the shards:

It was unbelievably exciting to peel off the first shard to see how well it worked...

Then I made a truffle filling to be piped into some square shards
that I made into the shape of a triangle and used the angled shards
as decorations on top... 

The strawberry saga continues...

Evidence of existence...

Down to one plant!
BUT it's really healthy and even getting runners!

I thought all I had to do was plant some seeds and I'd have strawberries
within a few months, but I've started reading about strawberry growing
and you should wait a year for the plant to be strong and then
let it flower (not that there have been any flowers).

So this runner thing is a whole new deal too.
It seems like I could get a "strawberry patch" out of the
runners if all goes well...

But when am I going to get strawberries??

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Where to get bagels in Honiara?

Sorry to say, there are no bagel bakeries around here...
Oh well, have to make them myself!

Here's the process:

Dough recipe:
(Makes 8)

3 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal flour
2 tbsp. gluten flour
2 cups high grade flour

After making the dough, form the rings and let them rise for 10-15 minutes.

Place 3 at a time in boiling water and cook on both sides for 1 minute each.

Cover with an egg wash and poppy or sesame seeds.

Bake in a 220 degrees C oven for 10-12 minutes.

Breakfast is served!

This is filled with cream cheese mixed with sundried tomatoes and fried bacon pieces. YUM!

Sunday, 9 March 2014


Seasonally, some Solomon Island women bring brightly coloured pillows
to sell at the market. They stuff them with kapok that they have harvested.
 The locals buy them as pillows to sleep on. We bought a couple
to use the filling for some cushions.

The kapok trees grow huge.  Here's a picture of the pod that is filled
with seeds and kapok:

This is the kapok filling I put in my cushions:

Here's the finished product:

Thanks kapok tree... Very comfy cushions!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Look what I got at the market...

These mushrooms grow in fallen or cut sago palms.
They are called rice-straw mushrooms or volvariella volvacea.
They are YUM!

We often take them home straight from the market and
have them for lunch.  I quick fry them in oil and butter,
with a squeeze of lime juice, salt and pepper, and a bit of parsley. 
Then load them up on toasted white loaf slices.

This time I decided to marinate them.
Here's the recipe I tried...

My mushrooms air-drying

Sunday, 2 March 2014

What's a jicama?

2 Jicamas

One day these were sitting on my bench when I came home. 
I thought it was some kind of potato or root vegetable.
One of the girls had picked them up in the market for me to try. 

I had to do some research on them once I knew their name.
The plant is a climbing legume and this is it's tuberous root.
It is a very popular food in Mexico and from what I read can
be eaten fresh like a carrot and is evidently great with dips.

I still felt a bit freaked out about eating a "potato" raw, so looked
on the internet and saw that you can make chips out of it.
So I had a go at that.  Their skin is weird as once you've put
a knick in it with a knife, it just peels off.  They weren't
particularly easy to cut into chip shapes. Here's my attempt...

I was more happy about my chip presentation than the actual
texture of the chips.  They seemed a bit undercooked. 
I tried oven baking them and it took forever. 
They seem full of water so I'm starting to understand
why the Mexicans prefer them raw.
Ok I'll be brave next time and try that out! 
Reference material:  Awake, 22 October 2005