An Amazing Find

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Sometimes it is easy to wonder whether you have spent your life under a rock. That is how I felt when I discovered this recipe. It is from ‘Frugal Queen in France’.

Red Lentil Wraps

1 cup red lentils
2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a blender. Soak for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Blend lentils and water thoroughly to create a smooth batter. DO NOT change the water or rinse.

Brush the pan with a light coating of oil. I redid the oil after every 2 wraps. Pour the batter into the pan and spread with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.

I made 6 generous size wraps from this quantity.

This is a YouTube video from Frugal Queen in which she takes you through the entire process, step by step.

Here is the finished product. They really do roll up very easily.

I ate one for breakfast with banana, lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. Lunch was another wrap filled with coleslaw, grated cheese and cucumber.

I am looking forward to discovering many more innovative fillings and ways to use these easy-to-make gluten-free wraps.

2021 – Year of the UFO

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In this instance UFO refers to ‘Unfinished Object’.

UFO’s often frequent craft and sewing rooms and mine was the beginnings of a patchwork quilt.

You can read about the first part of the project here.

Everything came to a grinding halt a bit over 6 years ago. This was predominately because I did not have enough scraps to create the additional blocks which I decided that I needed.

Fast forward a few years and I had managed to collect more scraps so I restarted the patchwork a few weeks ago. This is the first block of the new batch.

11 blocks finished to create a total of 42. This will be enough to make a generous quilt for our queen size bed.

Today I sewed all of the blocks together. The patchwork is complete. The next step is to make the quilt.

I spread the completed patchwork on our bed to get an idea of how it would look. I am very happy with the result.

I hope there is not another 6 year hiatus before it is completed.

Different Decluttering

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Our small acreage provides us with plenty of opportunities to build and create in our garden. For the first 13 years that we lived here we were constrained by available time as we were both working full-time. However, that did not diminish our enthusiasm, ideas and the ability to collect materials.

Here are some of the projects we have completed in the past couple of years.

I have written previously about our plans to create an entertaining area under the house so part of the long-term strategy has been to sort and tidy a lot of the materials that are stored there.

During the past few days we have had a bit of a blitz to identify what can realistically be used, what is just rubbish and what we can pass onto other people.

These are some of the last pieces of salvaged Colorbond sheeting which were gratefully collected yesterday after I listed it to giveaway on a local Facebook group.

One of the things we definitely plan to use is the old kitchen sink. When we had the kitchen renovated almost 12 years ago we salvaged it with a view to building an outdoor sink close to the vegetable garden. This would help to eliminate the amount of dirt and unwashed produce that was brought into the kitchen.

Yesterday GMan removed the original taps and plumbing. We cut some timber to length to make the framing and stand. Here are the first pieces in position.

GMan will paint all of the timber before the frame is assembled so it will be a little while before it is completed. More on that another day.

Meanwhile, we recently acquired some more material but it was not stored anywhere. We used an offcut of vinyl flooring to cover the concrete is one corner of the workshop to make a small home gym area.

We are pleased with the ongoing progress.

Taking Responsibility

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We have 3 different types of rubbish collection available to us.

Regular rubbish which is collected weekly goes directly to landfill. We have a small (120 litre) bin for this service and try to minimise the amount we put in it. Sometimes we only take it to the kerbside for collection once a month or less often.

The yellow-lidded 240 litre bin is for mixed recyclables which are sorted at the waste collection facility. Glass, steel, paper, cardboard, aluminium and some plastics are accepted. Collection is fortnightly. Once again, this bin is not usually put out for every collection as we try to limit the amount of packaging which we bring into our home.

Finally, we choose to have the optional ‘green waste’ bin which is suitable for garden prunings, leaves and grass clippings. We are fortunate to have plenty of space for compost heaps but some garden waste is really not suitable for the compost, such as some branches and weeds so these go in the bin.

It is over 12 months since I decided that we could stop putting any paper or cardboard in the recycle bin and that we should take responsibility for this ourselves. I know that this option is not available to or feasible for everyone but this is what we do.

I have a small, previously unused cupboard in the study desk where I keep the shredder and any paper or lightweight cardboard goes in there. About every 3 months I clear it out, sort and shred the paper and cardboard.

The white office quality paper makes excellent material for the nesting boxes for the chickens.

The remainder is shredded and added to the compost. Shredding it means that it will break down faster. The compost is eventually added to the garden and we have dealt with any paper and cardboard completely onsite without the need for energy-intensive recycling processes.

Ready for the compost.

The only paper or cardboard that does not get shredded is large or heavy packaging and the occasional local newspaper. These are stored downstairs until required and used for weed control layers under mulch in the garden.

A New Recipe

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I spent most of yesterday cooking and one of the things I made was a frittata.I was spurred into action when I noticed that we had 26 eggs. They can accumulate quite quickly when the chickens are laying.

There was half a pumpkin in the fridge which I was keen to use up and after checking Google I found this recipe – Pumpkin and Spinach Frittata.

I adapted the recipe to suit the quantities of ingredients I had available and my own requirements. The following ingredients will make 6 generous serves.

3 cups pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic syrup (link to easy recipe)
1 potato, diced
80 gram baby spinach leaves, chopped coarsely
120 gram feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
6 eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

Place diced pumpkin on baking trays and toss with the combined oil and balsamic syrup. Roast until tender, approximately 30 minutes at 160C.

The pumpkin came from our neighbours and the spinach from our own garden.

Cook the potato until tender. Combine all of the ingredients. Pour into shallow dish and bake for 45 minutes at 190C.

Ready to go in the oven.

This was delicious served with a tossed green salad.

Shopping and Sad

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We live in a semi-rural area which is about 30 minutes drive to the Sunshine Coast.

Today we braved the retail chaos which is becoming more pronounced as each year goes by. Early January is a particularly crazy time as we combine post-Christmas sales, back-to-school preparations and the inevitable holidaymakers. I think this year is worse than usual as more people are around as they are not travelling further afield.

This was our shopping list:

Roll of chicken wire – to fence a dog run for our puppy
Screws for attaching metal sheeting – to complete one side of the dog run
Galvanised pipe and connections – to make a hanging rail for the laundry
Small saddle brackets – to attach gate for dog run
9V battery – replacement for smoke alarm
Prescription medications – essential
Toaster – a replacement as the previous one has ceased to operate
Pet medication – essential

The list was thought out, planned and could hardly be described as frivolous. Since it is a 70km round trip we try to make sure that we make the journey worthwhile. We did not spend any longer than necessary and were home in under 3 hours despite the busy carparking areas and heavy traffic in every direction.

This is the hanging rail assembled. It needs to be painted and then installed.

So, why am I sad?

I think it was witnessing the overwhelming amount of stock in every shop we passed and the hordes of shoppers buying more and more stuff. Is it to replace an item, as with our toaster? Perhaps but I am more than mildly sceptical of that reason for more than a very small percentage of purchases.

The passion for decluttering in recent years and resultant overflowing charity shops leads me to think that many of today’s purchases or the goods they are replacing will be charity shop stock in a matter of months.

Many items, including clothes, electronics and household goods can be purchased cheaply and we do not value or care for them but almost regard them as disposable. When they break, are superseded by a new model or are simply no longer the ‘flavour of the month’ we toss them aside. Many of these discarded consumer items end up in landfill but to salve our consciousness we drop them at the charity shop. Unfortunately, a significant proportion still ends up in landfill and takes up time, effort and resources of those who volunteers to assist the various charities.

Everywhere you turn there are empty shops and businesses. Online shopping continues to gather pace. Are we buying more stuff because it is so easy to click a few buttons and it turns up on our doorstep in a matter of days? Is the lack of effort or consideration required making us shop more?

There is plenty of discussion amongst marketers on how to make sure that people continue to buy more and more stuff so that retailers and businesses can continue to increase their profits. At what cost?

We are drowning in our stuff and killing the planet in our quest to have more and more. I feel like something has to change and soon.

My personal action is to try not to waste anything, use what we have, source items secondhand where possible and be mindful that we have ‘enough’.

I wrote this post just over 6 years ago. There is a link to an interesting short video which is worth watching.

Bits and Pieces

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Many of my meals are really not recipes but simply creations which utilise whatever happens to need using up.

Tonight is a perfect example. This is the selection of ‘ingredients’ I decided to include.

At the back of the photo is some leftover mashed potato to which I added a small amount of tuna that I had not used when making tuna mornay. In addition to the 2 main ingredients there is some flaxseed meal which helps to bind the mixture together as well as nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. This mixture became 4 tuna patties.

The sliced vegetables at the front are small quantities of 2 different varieties of zucchini and a button squash. I sauteed these in a little olive oil. The mushrooms were cooked with the garlic cloves (chopped) along with some parsley (not shown) and finished with a spoonful of sour cream.

Served with fresh cherry tomatoes and strips of capsicum.

The cherry tomatoes, garlic and parsley are from our garden while the zucchini and button squash were gifted to us from a friend’s garden.

Saturday Stall

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Even though I haven’t written a blog post for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean that I have been slothful. Far from it. It is just that most of the day-to-day happenings have not been worthy of a blog post.

I have also been occupied in creating as many Boomerang Bags as possible for our very first market stall at the Witta Market on Saturday. This market in our district is dedicated to local makers and growers so it seemed to be the perfect fit for our bags.

We kept it very simple and used the bags as the decorations to attract potential customers.

Here is a close-up of some of the bags.

The market was a clear success with bags being sold as well as some potential volunteers identified and raising our public profile.

Next month’s market is barely a week before Christmas so will be a great opportunity for some last-minute gifts.

A Long Road

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Many of the projects we have worked on here have taken a considerable length of time to achieve. Sometimes it is the planning, sometimes the money or resources and others are simply a matter of time and competing priorities.

It is almost 15 years since we moved here and growing some of our own vegetables was an early goal. Although we have 1.5 acres of land, much of it is unsuitable for vegetable gardening – too steep or flood-prone so we identified an area close to the house as the spot for our future vegetable gardens. It was all grassed so the first version looked like this.

The soil is excellent and our efforts were reasonably successful, however, we had a somewhat grander plan.

Early in 2011 we built the first raised garden bed. The plan allowed for 9 beds eventually.

Still just one raised bed as we needed to source more suitable uprights.

Progress and by late in 2012 there were 3 raised garden beds. The star pickets on the left of the photo show the position of the next ones to be made.

In reality, 3 beds was probably plenty for us to manage while we were working fulltime but our agenda was long-term.

By the end of 2016 the plan was definitely coming together. We had 6 raised garden beds and woodchip mulch to create paths and suppress the weed and grass growth. The area was also fully fenced.

Late 2017 shows further development but no more garden beds.

The last 6 months or so have provided plenty of opportunity for working on projects at home and thanks to scoring some additional secondhand Colorbond we have finally finished the last of the garden beds.

There are 9 nine beds as per the original plan. We will be buying some soil for the last 3 and also to top up the soil in the others. The woodchip mulching of the paths also needs to be extended to include the areas around the new garden beds.

Then it will be time to get planting. I hope the predicted rain arrives in the next couple of weeks.

All of this has been achieved with salvaged, secondhand and excess materials.

Use It All

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I have spent the day in the kitchen today. When you grow produce it is important to ensure that it is used and does not go to waste. There is a degree of urgency as we are heading away on holidays in a couple of days. I made broccoli soup, juiced oranges and limes and dealt with a bunch of celery which I picked a couple of days ago.

Some of the celery had been used on a platter with hummus and guacamole but the majority of the bunch was still intact and all of the leaves. We love celery soup and when I make it I use all of the stalks and leaves. However, I have enough celery soup in the freezer at the moment.

I separated the stalks and chopped them ready for snacks and salads, but what to do with the leaves? I decided to experiment. Firstly, I washed them then removed the excess moisture in the salad spinner.

Then it was into the dehydrator.

Because the leaves are quite light it only took about 3 hours to dry them. Then I simply crumbled them into flakes and shook them through the colander to remove the larger stalks.

This is the result.

Did you know that celery is the prime ingredient in vegetable stock powder? I will use them for seasoning in soups, casseroles and a selection of other dishes.

I am pleased to have been able to use all of the bunch of celery without wasting any of it.