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It’s unusual spring weather this year.  Much cooler and wetter than normal, the result of another La Ninã pattern in the Pacific and positive dipole in the Indian Ocean.  It’s perfect weather for slugs and snails.  Here I am with the best strawberry patch for a few years, the reward for getting it together to pot up runners in midsummer last year, replant them in a well composted spot last autumn, and mulch them heavily in early spring.  And it has to go and be perfect slug weather.  Not fair!

Each morning early I’ve been picking strawberries, half for the chooks, slugs and all, and half for me.  Luckily half is as many as we can eat, but it does seem very decadent for the chooks to be getting a punnet of strawberries a day! I’m thinking I should put out some beer-traps.

The Recipe:

Use an egg beater to beat one small egg per person with just a little bit of milk.

Dip slices of good bread in the egg mix and  fry in a little butter or macadamia oil until they are crispy golden.

While the french toast is cooking, hull and halve the strawberries and put them in a bowl with just a teaspoon per person of honey and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. (Maybe I am weird, but I like a grating of black pepper too. )   Toss through to coat the strawberries.

As soon as the toast comes out, turn the heat off and while the pan is still hot, toss in the strawberries marinade and all.  Cook for just half a minute or so, just to warm and glaze the strawberries, then tip them out onto the toast.

Serve with a dollop of plain yoghurt.

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(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – a year’s worth of breakfast recipes based on in-season ingredients, that are quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and that are preferable, in nutrition, ethics, and taste,  to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal” .The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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I found this gem iron in an op shop.  It took me several months and quite a few goes to learn how to use it, but now it is one of my favourite kitchen tools.  It’s a heavy cast iron baking tray for tiny little cake-scone-muffin bites called gems. It’s an old fashioned implement designed for the days when any self-respecting cook was expected to be able to whip up a batch of baking at a minute’s notice. Which makes gem irons due for a resurgence in these days when time poverty beats money poverty every day.

Once you get the hang of gem irons, this can be done in less than 20 minutes – 5 minutes preparation and 10 to 12 minutes cooking time – making it feasible to be a domestic goddess (or god) and bake on weekday mornings.

The Recipe:

Turn the oven on to medium high and put the gem iron on the top shelf. It needs to be sizzling hot before you put the batter in.

Use an egg beater to beat together

  • 1 egg
  • 3 dessertspoons of plain low fat yoghurt
  • 1 dessertspoon of honey
  • pinch cinnamon

Stir in

  • half a cup (4 good dessertspoons) of dried fruit, seeds and nuts.  I used pepitas, sunflower seeds, chopped macadamias and sultanas, but you could use dates, dried apple, almonds – whatever you have and is in season.
  • half a cup of rolled oats
  • 3 dessertspoons of wholemeal self-raising flour

You will end up with a thick batter. Like muffin batter, it is best not over-mixed.

Take the hot gem iron out of the oven and put a tiny dob of butter in each hollow.  You only need a small teaspoonful altogether.  It will sizzle.  Tilt the iron to spread the melted butter.

Working quickly, spoon the batter into the hot gem iron and put it back in the oven, near the top and up fairly high. Bake for around 10 minutes till the gems are almost cooked.

The Syrup

Meanwhile, in a small pot, melt a good dessertspoon of butter and a good dessertspoon of honey together. Working quickly, spoon a little syrup over each gem and put them back in the oven for another few minutes.

They’re best hot, straight from the oven, but if you make a double batch, you may even have leftovers for lunch boxes, making this double as a Muesli Bar Challenge recipe as will.

(The Breakfast Cereal Challenge is my 2011 challenge – to the overpackaged, overpriced, mostly empty packets of junk food marketed as “cereal”. I’m going for a year’s worth of breakfast recipes, based on in-season ingredients, quick and easy enough to be a real option for weekdays, and  preferable, in nutrition, ethics, andtaste.  The Muesli Bar Challenge was my 2010 Challenge.)

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