What is Operation Jam Jar?

Operation Jam Jar is all about getting back to basics in the kitchen.

Check out my efforts at cooking from scratch - cakes, soups, biscuits

Learn how to make things that you would normally buy at the supermarket - wraps, ice cream, pizza bases

Try to live a more 'country' lifestyle in the city - making your own jams or relish

Get the skills to enjoy cooking in a thrifty way, and have a bit of fun while you do it

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lamb Burgers with Peach Chutney

There’s nothing better on a summer’s day than a BBQ with friends.  But as much as I love a snag or two, it’s nice to try something new every now and then. I had a whirl at making lamb burgers on the weekend for a BBQ and they were pretty tasty.  So easy too, you all know how much I love recipes where you just bung everything together in a bowl.  The fun part is adding all the extras – lettuce, tomato, cheese, and some nice sauce.  You might be wondering why there is no photo of these alleged burgers – if truth be told I was far too busy eating and drinking in the sunshine to remember to photograph them.  They look quite burger-like - you will just have to take my word for it.


500g lamb mince
Big handful of fresh herbs (basil, mint or parsley work well)
½ a red onion, very finely sliced
½ a cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp chilli flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
Bread rolls, chutney + salad to serve

Mush everything together in a big bowl.  The idea of the breadcrumbs and the egg is just to have the consistency right to ensure the burgers stay together.  You may need to add more or less breadcrumbs so just keep an eye on it when you’re making them. 

Wet your hands a little and form the mixture into patties.  Place on a tray covered with baking paper so they don’t stick.  

Cook on a hot BBQ or in a frying pan for a few minutes on each side until browned.  

Add your favourite salads and some fruity relish (recipe below) and hommus (I used the beetroot hommus recipe and it went down a treat).  

These patties also freeze well so you could make some extras and keep them in the freezer for a night when you don’t feel like cooking. 

Easy peasy microwave peach chutney

I had no idea you could make chutney in the microwave.  The things you find on the internet hey?

6 ripe peaches, peeled (you could also use mango, nectarines, or a combination of any of these)
1/2 a red onion, finely sliced
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup malt vinegar
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp ginger

Chop the peeled fruit up into chunks, and add everything into a microwave safe bowl.  Mix well and place uncovered on high in the microwave for 30 mins.  Stir it every 5 mins.  

When the time is up the peaches will have broken down and the whole thing should be quite thick.  Allow to cool on the benchtop, and serve on top of your lamb burgers.   

The taste of summer!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Growing your own herbs from seed

I absolutely love using fresh herbs in my cooking.  There’s nothing like basil on top of spaghetti bolognese, coriander in a stirfry, or fresh mint on new potatoes with loads of butter. 

I don’t know about you but I was very guilty of buying a bunch of herbs, using half, and letting the other half wilt sadly in the fridge.  So I decided if I was going to get seriously thrifty I would need to grow my own. 

Even though we have a shared backyard we can’t just plant what we like as we are renting.  So we spoke to the unofficial gardener in our block and she set aside a pot for us to use to grow basil, mint and chillis. 

Before this I had not had much luck with growing herbs that are already mature.  They seem to last a few weeks and then flop.  These ones were OK (not great) so I thought next time I would instead plant from seed as it might give me a better chance – plus it’s much cheaper. 

We decided to buy a few small pots to plant some seeds and sit them on our front step so they get sun and rain.  We ended up planting parsley, coriander, basil, chives, rocket and cherry tomatoes.   You just follow the directions on the back of the pack.  I usually put about 12 seeds in total per pot.  Keep them well watered - every 1-2 days is good.

It was so exciting watching them grow.  The rocket was peeping out within a week! I was so thrilled (and embarrassed by how thrilled I was).  After just 4 weeks it was really going strong.  The others have all sprouted nicely, however the chives have just not happened for me.  Not sure what went wrong there?

We haven’t had our first harvest yet but looking forward to a rocket salad in the next few weeks.  It is definitely worth doing and you don’t need lots of room either.  You could even just plant some in empty cans (cut a few holes in the bottom with a can opener for drainage) and place them on a sunny windowsill and enjoy fresh herbs whenever you like! 

The pics above show my rocket at 2 weeks and then again at 6 weeks.  

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The. Easiest. Cake. Ever

Today I have a recipe for a super easy and super tasty little coconut cake.    

I absolutely love recipes like this.  4 ingredients, mixed in a bowl with a wooden spoon and then baked – no melting this, separating that, whisking or sifting required.

This cake can be made in about 32 minutes, so the minute that your friend calls and says they’re stopping by for a visit you can whack this in the oven and serve it warm with a lovely cup of tea. I have to say it doesn’t look all that impressive and doesn’t actually rise too much.  But it’s a bit crunchy on the outside and lovely and moist on the inside, and I’ve never had anyone that didn’t like it yet.  Give it a whirl next weekend!


1 cup of self raising flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of desiccated coconut
¾ cup of milk

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.  Bake in a greased and floured loaf tin or small round cake tin at 180°C for 30 mins or until golden on top.  

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Home Made Muesli

I looooove muesli.  But I never ever buy it.

There are a few reasons for this.  First of all, I’m not quite sure if it’s healthy or not (I’m still not sure).  Secondly I’ve had a few bad experiences with buying some and then it not tasting all that great.  Or others that tasted so good that I would eat it out of the packet every time I passed the pantry cupboard, and then worry again whether it was healthy or not.  Confused yet? I was, I must admit. 

So when I saw this simple recipe I thought - well at least if you know exactly what’s in it, you know it’s going to be healthy and taste good! 

Hate sultanas? Leave em out!  Love dried cranberries? Chuck some in.  There are no rules here, let your hair down.  Go wild.  This recipe is what I ended up using based on my tastes, my budget (dried fruit ain’t cheap) and what was available at my local fruit shop.

It ends up around the same price as store bought muesli but I think it’s worth spending the time to make your own.  Not just for the taste and health factor, but also for the smugness of knowing ‘I made that!’ – especially when someone else tries it and loves it as much as you.  

Plus you can leave out that awful awful dried paw paw (gag)


5 cups rolled oats (the full size big ones, not the quick-cook oats)   
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil  - best to use this as it hasn’t got too much flavour to overpower the muesli
80g honey – I used probably double that as I wanted it to clump together
1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup flaked almonds         
1 cup of shredded coconut (not desiccated)     
2 cups sultanas
1 teaspoon cinnamon      
A handful of sliced dates, dried banana, or any other dried fruits that you like

Preheat your oven to 160°C.

Line two trays with baking paper.

Mix all of your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

On a medium heat on the stove, heat oil and honey until melted, then stir into the dry ingredients ensuring an even coating.

Spread the mixture evenly over the two trays, quite thickly, and push it out to the edges.

Place trays in the oven and bake for about 30 mins, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon to prevent burning.

You want to get the ingredients browned, and for the fruit to become chewy.

When the mixture is browned to your liking remove from the oven and cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

I like it straight up with milk but you could always add yoghurt or fruit on top.

Goooooood morning!