Bulk Cooking

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Since there are only 2 of us to cook for, I do not prepare huge quantities of food but it is nice to have a few meals planned and prepared.  The other factor that influences my decision is that I prefer to use the oven efficiently when it is turned on.

Yesterday I sorted out what was lurking in the freezer and decided that this week we would eat what I could make using freezer and pantry ingredients.  I should really only need to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables.

I started by making gluten-free pizza bases.  I par-cook these in the oven then freeze them for later use.

Here they are ready to freeze.  I have some old cereal packets which I use to separate the bases when they go in the freezer.

002It is simply a matter of adding the toppings and cooking in the bench-top pizza-maker.

005Next, I decided to make some gluten-free muffins which turned out to quite acceptable using a standard recipe and simply substituting gluten-free flour.  I made 2 batches – orange, walnut and sultanas in one and the other were banana, walnut and mixed spice.  The catalyst for these were the sad looking banana that I rescued from the fridge at work on Friday and some orange pulp I found in my freezer.

004At the same time I made some gluten-free wraps for lunches.

003These are cooked in a hot, dry frying pan and can be stored in the fridge for a few days.

A pack of sausages which had been left in the freezer by our house-sitters were grilled and sliced then made into a sausage casserole which made 4 serves.

005I usually cook a bulk amount of dried red kidney beans in the slowcooker and freeze them in portions ready to use.  I found a pack in the freezer as well as a pack of diced beef so I put them in the slowcooker with frozen cherry tomatoes from last season, frozen diced onion and some spices to make 4 serves of chilli beef.  That bubbled along all day while I was doing the other cooking.

So, I have the basis of 15 serves of dinners, 6 serves of lunches and 20 muffins.

Do you cook more than one meal at a time?  A big occasional cook-up, perhaps?

Super Sunday


Whatever I write tonight will not do justice to all that we have done today.  Miss O and Izz did not wake until almost 8am but it was non-stop until they went to bed at 8pm.  Who knew that 12 hours could be so exhausting?

We started the day with pancakes for breakfast then I did a couple of loads of washing and some sewing alterations.  First up I re-did the elastic in both pairs of pyjama bottoms.  Next was letting down the hem on Miss O’s dressing gown.

2012-07-08 01I also added ribbed cuffs and neckband to Izz’s pyjama top.

2012-07-08 02We left home at about 11.30 and went to a strawberry farm at Beerwah were you can pick your own fruit.  2 buckets and we were underway.

2012-07-08 03The girls very quickly figured out that the best ones were red right up to the top of the fruit.  Izz still needed reminding that it is best to pluck the fruit rather than clutching them in your hand!

I had packed a picnic lunch so the next stop was Glasshouse Mountains township and the park.  We had ham and avocado sandwiches, home-made sausage rolls with our own tomato sauce, home-grown mandarins and freshly picked strawberries.  The playground, complete with flying fox provided heaps of fun and games.

2012-07-08 04Then it was next door to the visitor information centre where the girls discovered a wall puzzle of different dinosaurs as well as an interactive history of the mountains on a touchscreen.  This centre is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Finally, we headed home via a local fruit stall and chose a few things including a pineapple to use on our pizzas for dinner.

Later this afternoon, I made 3 batches of muffins and of course had lots of help.  2 batches were made with added berry yoghurt and coconut which I cooked in small patty papers and they will be frozen and used for snacks for daycare.

Dinner was pizza followed by strawberries, ice-cream and a pancake then it was showers and bed for 2 little people.  After a very busy day we had absolutely no arguments about bed and sleep.

They are not the only ones who will sleep well tonight.

I hope you have had a great Sunday, too.

Friday Favourites – Orange & Poppyseed Muffins


I have tried various muffin recipes over the years and although they have been relatively successful I have never found one that suited what I was looking for.  Some were too sweet, too dry or just like an over-sized cupcake.

Here is a muffin recipe I tried quite recently but it has already become a firm favourite.  The basic recipe come from the book “Down to Earth”, written by Rhonda Hetzel who writes the blog of the same name.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup orange pulp
1/4 cup poppyseeds

Beat the oil and sugar, add egg and milk and mix thoroughly.  Add orange pulp and poppyseeds.  Finally, add the flour and combine gently.  Do not overmix.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffins pans.

Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.

I make these to use up the orange pulp from when I squeeze the oranges from our trees.  If you want to increase the orange flavour you could try substituting orange juice for some of the milk.  I have not tried this but might next time I make them.

I make 12 generous-sized muffins from this quantity.  The muffins also freeze well

The basic recipe suggests that you can add anything you like.  I have made lime and coconut, banana , cherry and coconut as well as apple and cinnamon using this recipe.

Now it is my turn to ask a question.  I would love to be able to make good savoury muffins with grated cheese, grated vegies and herbs.  Could I use this basic recipe and just leave out the sugar?

I look forward to your suggestions and ideas.

Kitchen Kapers


I have spent the best part of today in the kitchen.  The first thing was to juice the 60 limes I picked from the tree.  Some is in ice-cube trays in the freezer and the remainder in a jug in the refrigerator.  I will freeze this in trays as well once the others are completely frozen and can be removed from the trays and placed in a bag.

Next were 5 pumpkins from the garden.  Unfortunately, I cannot leave them on the vine until the stalks dry out completely because some of the wildlife starts to eat them once they are mature.  Because I have to pick them before the stalk has withered, this means that they will not store.  So my plan was to cut and peel them (a mammoth job), roast in the oven and then mash the pumpkin.  I have frozen it in batches so that it can be made into soup as required.  By just freezing the mashed pumpkin I save space in the freezer as compared to making and freezing the soup.

I also sorted through the freezer and pulled out this bag of chopped onion tops.

2012-04-22 01These are from the onions I grew last winter but our winter is not long enough for the tops to die down before I have to harvest the onions.  Otherwise our wet weather starts and they would just rot in the ground.  I diced all of the onions and froze them in 150g packs and I could not bear to waste the fresh green tops so chopped them and pt the bag of them in the freezer while I considered what to do with them.

2012-04-22-02I decided to thaw them out and then put them on the trays in the food dehydrator.  My plan is to dry them completely and then grind them in the spice grinder to make my own onion powder for seasoning. I will post about the success or otherwise of this venture in a day or so.

The other thing I retrieved from the freezer was a bag of cherry tomatoes.  These were picked from the neighbour’s garden a couple of months ago when they were away and I didn’t have time to do anything with them apart from wash, hull and freeze them.

I found a tomato sauce recipe on the internet and made a couple of adjustments to suit the ingredients I had.  I cooked up the sauce and 1.9 kg of cherry tomatoes made up into 1.75 litres of sauce.

Here it is – bottled and ready to add to the stock cupboard.

2012-04-22 03I made 3 batches of muffins – lime and coconut, fig and almond as well as banana ones.  This is some of them packed and ready to freeze.

2012-04-22 04While the oven was on I made another zucchini quiche.  We have an abundance of eggs and since this uses 5 eggs it is a good way to use some up.

I had planned to make so more fresh pasta – using eggs again – but the day was almost over.  I will save that job for Wednesday which is a public holiday here (Anzac Day).

Most of my cooking and preparation was a direct result of produce from our garden, either fresh or frozen.  Since we are blessed to be able to grow this food I feel it is important to make sure that we use it to the best of our ability.

Simply Baking


Decluttering is not just about throwing out the piles of junk gathering dust in the basement.  Nor is minimalism about having a sparsely furnished apartment with almost no sign of human habitation.  They are words which are open to interpretation but the over-arching concept is to simplify our homes and lives so that we can make time and space for living.

It is important to keep baking and cooking simple.  Creating meals from scratch can easily lead you to acquire all manner of ingredients.  All too often these are used once and then end up relegated to the back of the cupboard.  I have a well-stocked pantry that has the basic ingredients that I use to create the meals we eat.

I also regularly make substitutions to new recipes so that they fit my ingredients.  It is easy to be conned into having many varieties of one ingredient, such as sugar.  There is caster, white, soft brown, raw, Demerara and numerous others.  I use raw sugar for most general use.  I also keep soft brown sugar and caster sugar.  If a recipe demands a specialty sugar that I feel cannot be satisfactorily substituted I discard the recipe.

Flour is another example of many options available – white, wholemeal, organic, stoneground, plain, self-raising.  I prefer to keep both white and wholemeal.  I use white flour for pastry, pasta and making roux for sauces but other than that I tend to use wholemeal or half and half if I want a lighter texture.  I only buy plain flour and add baking powder to make self-raising flour as required.

2012-03-28 01I buy my flour in 5kg bags from  Simply Good.  I also buy my baking powder in bulk from the same store.

2012-03-28 02The baking powder is sold from bulk bins so I fill a recycled paper bag with it and then decant into the large glass jar. which is in my stock cupboard.  I refill the small container in the pantry as required.  Please do not not confuse bicarbonate of soda (bicarb) with baking powder.  Baking powder is a combination of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar.

2012-03-28 03With basic ingredients to hand it is easy to bake for your family where you know exactly what is in the food.  I made these muffins this morning with the last of some bottled cherries I had bought a couple of years ago – not sure why?  The recipe was the basic muffin recipe from the book, “Down to Earth” by Rhonda Hetzel.  You can find out more on her blog.

2012-03-28 04I made a zucchini quiche for dinner at the same time.  I always try to cook more than one dish when I have the oven turned on so that the power is used efficiently.

Have you tried to simplify the ingredients in your pantry?

Through a Child’s Eyes

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I mentioned yesterday that this simple living can be darned hard work – gardening, planting, harvesting, preserving, storing and cooking from scratch – not to mention the million and one other things that need to be done.

A sure-fire way to rejuvenate the enthusiasm is to see the ‘chores’ through the eyes of a child.  Our granddaughters stayed here this weekend and spending an hour or so in the backyard with them was a sheer delight.

2011-10-02 01Collecting the eggs.

2011-10-02 02Checking out the onion patch.

2011-10-02 03Splitting open beans to retrieve the seeds.

2011-10-02 04The excitement of finding a bean seed.  We will be letting them dry out and saving to replant.  We have also saved snow pea seeds.  Miss O had fun sorting the bean and pea seeds into separate containers.

2011-10-02 05Helping with the harvest.

There were lots of other things that did not get captured on film.  Pulling up the spent broccoli and cauliflower plants and dragging the up to the compost bin as well as pulling the old snow pea vine off the trellis.

Miss O helped me cook and we made a fruit slice with passionfruit icing as well as currant, orange and poppyseed muffins.  The girls took some muffins home to put in their lunchboxes for daycare tomorrow.

I also managed to get a little sewing done.  2 pairs of shorts are finished.  Here they are on the models.

2011-10-02 06And the second pair.

2011-10-02 07It is a pleasure to see the sheer delight on the faces of my grandchildren when they can help with the jobs we do every day.  I am reminded that what I am doing is ‘right’ and I look forward to sharing many more things as they get older.