Last Grapefruit

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This morning I picked the last of the crop of grapefruit and juiced them.

Although our vegetable gardening efforts can be a bit hit and miss, our fruit trees continue to provide with minimal effort on our part.

There are still plenty more citrus with the 2 Valencia orange trees still loaded with fruit.

I also picked another 270g of mulberries from our young tree. I now have just over 700g of mulberries in the freezer and will hopefully make some jam in due course.

A Step Ahead

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Before I begin on the actual content of today’s post, I have a bit of general news about the blog.

I have been absent for 3 weeks. Part of this was due to us being on holidays for a portion of the time but the remainder of my inactivity has been while I reassessed my general online presence. There are limited hours in the day and it is not all devoted to online activity. Therefore, I have decided to alter some of my priorities and this blog will be the main spot where you will be able to engage with me. The content will generally be shorter and more frequent – possibly daily. I look forward to your comments and interacting more fully with my readers. If you are not already following the blog, please consider doing so so that you don’t miss anything.

So, dear readers it is back to the real stuff that happens here every day.

This morning I whipped these 2 takeaway food containers from the freezer. One is vegetable curry and the other is rice. Therefore, dinner tonight is all ready to heat and eat.

My cooking style is pretty much a constant cycle of stocking up the freezer while using from it at the same time.

In that vein I have done a spot of cooking this afternoon. I always do more than one thing if I am turning the oven on.

6 gluten free pizza bases partly cooked and ready to freeze for later use.

Zucchini quiche which used the last of the packs of frozen zucchini from last summer’s harvest. I have about 3 different dishes I can use for making the quiche but this one that belonged to my mother is a new favourite.

The recipes for the pizza bases and zucchini quiche can be found checking the recipe index – click on the tab ‘Recipes – Food’ at the top of the front page of the blog.

Please share your prepared meals or glut of produce stored for future use. 🙂

An Evolution

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This week we spent some time in the garden and on of the jobs I tackled was tidying up the entrance pergola.

The mandevilla were growing out of control and needed a bit more training up the trellis. I also trimmed some of the lower growth and swept the pavers. We cleaned up and mulched the adjacent garden area. The flowers and small shrubs will thrive as the weather begins to warm up.

It looks much better.

There are not a huge number of flowers at the moment but this shot from November last year shows it in full bloom.

In March 2018 the area was very different.

By September of 2018 things were progressing but the plants were still in their infancy.

It is always useful to look back and remind yourself of how much progress you have made.

Gourmet Gluten Free Gnocchi

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I had previously made pumpkin gnocchi a few months ago with reasonable success. Today I attempted to improve on that attempt and I think it was a success.

This was our dinner.

Here is the recipe that I used.

While the original recipe is not designed to be gluten free, I managed to modify it simply by using gluten free flour.

I made a double quantity of the mixture and find that I needed more flour than recommended in the recipe, however, that may simply be a result of the different properties of gluten free flour.

I try to handle the dough as little as possible while combining the ingredients. Portions of dough rolled, cut and spread on racks.

To cook the gnocchi:

2/3 fill a large saucepan of water, bring to a rolling boil, add a teaspoon of olive oil. Carefully add the gnocchi, cover and bring back to the boil as quickly as possible. Gently separate the gnocchi and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Drain.

Serve immediately with sauce of your choice.

Tonight I chose onion, garlic, chilli, smoky paprika, capsicum and fresh cherry tomatoes topped with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

The pumpkin puree had been frozen from the harvest of a glut of pumpkins earlier in the year. The cherry tomatoes have been picked in the past few days. We try to make use of what we grow wherever possible and this meal is a perfect example.

A Different Dinner

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Due to Covid 19 our area has been locked down for 8 days. Those restrictions ease from this afternoon so we are very grateful. I know that this nothing compared to what many people have endured and continue to do so. I understand that grocery shopping is one of the acceptable reasons to leave your home but whether we are locked down or not, I try to minimise my exposure by shopping as infrequently as possible.

Yesterday I stocked up on some grocery items and also replenished our very meagre selection of fruit and vegetables. Now the trick is to make sure that everything is used wisely and none of the perishable goods go to waste. I bought 2 bunches of broccolini and decided that 1 of them would be used in our dinner.

After canvassing several options, I decided on a Broccolini and Caramelised Onion Tart. I found a few recipes online but none that exactly matched my idea so I pulled a few different elements together and this is what I came up with. It makes use of what I had available so you can make your own adjustments or substitutions.

Broccolini and Carmelised Onion Tart

Pastry – I was looking for something that was gluten free and tried this recipe for the pastry base. I had never thought of rubbing coconut oil rather than butter into flour when making pastry. I thought it turned out reasonably well but GMan is not a fan and feels than you can taste the coconut. You can make or buy whatever pastry suits you.

This is the pastry when I placed it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Filling

2 onions
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
2 teaspoons treacle
2 tablespoons red wine
1 bunch broccolini
Olive oil
Salt
Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
Nutritional yeast
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese

Slice the onions, place in a pan over low heat and cook gently, stirring regularly. Add mixed herbs and treacle. Continue to cook until golden brown and soft. Add red wine to deglaze the pan. Cook for another minute and remove from heat.

Rinse broccolini and spread on baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and slivers of garlic. Roast for about 15 minutes at 150C. Set aside until required.

Ready to go in the oven.

Line a dish or tray with your chosen pastry. Lightly spread with mustard and sprinkle with nutritional yeast. Place half of the onions in the dish then the broccolini followed by the remainder of the onions.

Add some dollops of sour cream and a little grated cheese.

Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

I served slices of the tart with freshly-made coleslaw and cherry tomatoes.

Something Old, Something New

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It is even blue as well.

Yesterday I made this playsuit using some of the seersucker fabric from a barely-worn dressing gown.

I used a pattern drafted from a vintage Enid Gilchrist pattern book which is over 60 years old. The book originally belonged to my mother and has been used many times.

I do not have a photo of me in an outfit from this pattern but here are some taken of other family members over the years.

1968

1983

2008

A good design will stand the test of time.

I even found some of the green/white spotted fabric in my patchwork squares that I am sorting out today.

Back to the Beginning

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One of the very earliest posts I wrote for this blog was about folding plastic bags. It was back in 2011 and you can revisit the post here.

As part of my sustainability strategy, I reuse everything as many times as I possibly can. Even though we do not intentionally acquire any new plastic bags they do seem to accumulate. This is due to several factors, including other people giving me things in plastic bags, the longevity of the bags and finally, an enormous number of both new and used bags that have resulted from cleaning out my mother’s possessions.

Plastic bags are not the only ones that I seem to have. There are also paper bags. I know that these can be recycled and/or composted but it is still better to reuse them where possible. I give consideration to the resources that have been used to generate these bags and feel that they deserve to be used as many times as possible.

I seemed to have different types of bags stored in various locations in my home so I recently decided that there needed to be a better and more co-ordinated approach. Hopefully, this will assist in ensuring that what we have can be easily accessed and used as required.

Additionally, the bags I use every day are in the kitchen drawer – ziplock bags and reused bread bags as well as lightweight plastic bags hanging in a dispenser in the laundry cupboard.

I made the new dispenser as the old one had really seen better days. All of the materials were recycled bits retrieved from my stash.

Finally, I created a small pack of bags for the glovebox of each car. A few small ziplock bags, paper bags, lightweight plastic bags and a small foldable carry bag all contained in a medium ziplock bag. The plan is that this will cover all possible unforeseen contingencies when we are out and about.

I am happy with my new arrangements and keen to gradually reduce the quantity of bags in the household through natural attrition rather than wholesale disposal or recycling.

Designed By Me

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Today I made a new peg bag for my laundry trolley. The last one was about 15 years old and worn out. It also also had some serious design flaws – yes, it was another of my creations. At least I was willing to learn from the shortcomings.

This is the old one once I had removed it from the trolley. Once upon a time the fabric was navy and the buttons were red.

I sourced some heavy gauge wire from GMan’s collection along with some wire cutters and pliers to fashion the approximate size and shape of the hanger for the bag.

This piece of heavy cotton fabric was an offcut in my stash and seemed perfect for the purpose.

The hanger shaped and completed.

The next step was to make the bag. Note the mitred corners to create a boxed base. This was an improvement which resulted from my experience of making Boomerang Bags.

Stitched onto the hanger.

Filled with pegs and ready to use.

A closer shot to show the hanger over the handle of the trolley.

I have not specifically mentioned Plastic Free July this year, however, making/upcycling/refashioning things we need is one way that we minimise our use of plastics and other resources all the year round – not just in July.

One For the File

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Do you remember my recent post about making lentil wraps? You can read it here. We have used these predominantly for lunches filled with a variety of spreads and salads.

Last night I decided to use them as a main meal.

I made a filling, rolled the wraps and lay them in an ovenproof dish topped with grated cheese.

As with savoury pancakes, the choices of fillings are almost unlimited. Here is what I did.

FILLING

1 medium onion, diced
250g lean beef mince
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 cup refried beans
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon beef stock powder
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoons mixed herbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Fry the onion, add the mince and brown. Add remaining ingredients, combine well and simmer gently, stirring regularly until fairly thick. Remove from heat. I also added some chopped spinach. I stirred it through the mixture after it was cooked.

Divide the mixture between 4 wraps. Place filled wraps in ovenproof dish and top with grated cheese. This can now be baked in the oven or heated in microwave and finished under the grill to brown the cheese.

I served the meal with coleslaw and avocado slices.

This made enough for 4 servings so I have enough left for another meal.

Completing the Craft

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When we packed up Mum’s things there were various pieces of craft which were works in progress. Some are out of the range of my skill or interest, however, I have begun work on one particular piece.

I am not sure what Mum’s plans were for this piece of hand-pieced patchwork but I think it may have been going to to be a small wallhanging.

My first step is to complete the quilting. I have never handquilted anything but I am fortunate that Mum had done about 60% of it so I was easily able to follow the pattern. The needle and thread were in the bag with the work so I have been able to easily pick it up where Mum had left off.

Here is a close-up of the stitching.

Knitting was another craft which occupied a lot of Mum’s time in recent years. She enjoyed contributing garments for the local charity, Knitting for Brisbane’s Needy. Naturally, she had a knitting bag. I planned to give this to my younger daughter, however, I discovered that it was not in great condition so I came up with another plan.

Once I have finished the quilting project, I am going to disassemble the bag and use it for a pattern to make a new knitting bag using the quilted patchwork for the side panels of the bag. I will add some plain fabric to complete the project and then my daughter will have a knitting bag constructed using patchwork and quilting that was started by her grandmother and completed by her mother.

I think that will be a pretty neat keepsake as well as a practical piece which she can use for her own knitting projects.