Simple Cooking.

Last year I purchased Donna Hay’s “Off the shelf: Cooking from the pantry” cookbook from an op shop for $5. I didn’t know anything about the book or about Donna Hay and I didn’t flick through it before buying. It was a newish looking book and I wasn’t yet on my simple journey so I figured I’d chuck it on my recipe book shelf and maybe one day it would be useful. For five bucks it as a steal, right?

The book sat in the house without being opened until well into our Buy Nothing New year. As you know, we live in a cluttersome house. The book never even made it onto the bookshelf. It moved around from couch, to table, to bench, to desk in a stack of other unrelated stuff.

Eventually I started to declutter and I came across this book. I almost put it in the box for Bill’s Books without opening it, but I decided I’d better give it at least $1 worth of attention, since I’d paid 5 times that for the book. Isn’t it amazing that $5 can seem like nothing when we’re making a purchase?

As it turns out, “Off the shelf” is the perfect simple cooking book. Each recipe is designed to use minimal ingredients, leaning heavily on the pantry standards. The recipes are kind of fool proof they’re so simple. It has some really interesting fish and pasta dishes, as well as a huge range of noodle, rice and meat dishes that I have yet to try. I also love that each section has a ‘short order’ page with up to 10 quick recipes for sides or sauces. This is the kind of recipe book that is useful. I’m glad I bought it.

I made the sweet lemon risotto from “Off the shelf” for a family dinner and it was a hit all ‘round. I thought I’d share it with you here.

– 3 1/2 cups milk
– 6 pieces lemon rind
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1 cup arborio rice
– 1/3 cup sugar


Pardon my ‘food photography’. I’m not at all skilled in this area. If this looks delicious, it was. If this does not look delicious, seriously, it was!

Preheat oven to 190C. Place milk, lemon rind and butter in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes or until milk is hot but not boiling. Place the rice, sugar and milk mixture in a shallow heatproof dish and cover tightly with a lid or foil. Bake the risotto for 30 minutes. 
Remove the risotto from the oven and stir for 2 minutes, then remove the lemon rind. The risotto should be creamy and a little soupy. 
To serve, spoon the rice into serving bowls and garnish with the lemon rind if you wish. This makes a great breakfast with yoghurt, or serve it for brunch or dessert with cream. Serves 4-6.

We had it with ice cream and this served 5 adults and one baby with small but filling servings. It was delicious! Kind of like lemon rice pudding, but I loved the “fatness” of the risotto rice instead. I used raw sugar, too, because I prefer it to other sugars. It’s not very sweet at all, but just enough to be dessert-ish. I really don’t want “dessert-ish” to be the last word of this recipe. So I’m adding this sentence.

If you come across this book at a library or op shop, I recommend you check it out.
Mama xo


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