Ugly Duckling

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A quick Google search will yield numerous results for the term ‘ugly fruit and vegetables’.  I do not know where or how the description originated but it simply refers to that produce which does not meet the consumer’s expectation of perfection.  There is a new wave of consumers who have realised that imperfect shape or non-conforming size do not render produce useless and destined for the waste bin.

While not specifically designated as ‘ugly fruit’ our local fruit and vegetable stall does have less than perfect items available from time to time.  You need to be prepared to chop, puree, freeze or preserve the entire quantity as soon as possible as it generally has a limited shelf life.  You can turn ‘ugly ducklings’ into ‘beautiful swans’.

Although I always write a shopping list for my shopping, including fruit and vegetables, I am always on the lookout for anything extra that I can use.

About a month ago I found a box of ripe yellow peaches that were most definitely seconds.  I decided that I could not go wrong when I noticed they were priced at $5 for the box.  I discovered that there were 6kg of peaches and I only needed to discard 2 peaches and removes spots from a couple of others.  Some were pureed and frozen to go on my cereal in the future and others being dehydrated while more were set aside in the refrigerator to be used fresh during the following days.  My favourite was the 5 jars of peach and chilli chutney made from this recipe.

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Yesterday we needed to replenish our supplies after our holidays and I spied another box for $5 at the fruit and vegetable stall.  This time it was pineapples.  12 small pineapples for $5 was a bargain not to be passed up.  Once again, despite not looking great from the outside, there was only a small portion that I needed to discard.

I did not make anything particularly fancy but I have plenty of pineapple frozen and ready to use.  Some is pureed for use on my cereal and the remainder is small slices packed into containers.  It is quite easy to remove as much or as little as is required for a particular recipe.

This is the haul (after I had eaten a couple of pieces).

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Do you look for seconds or bargains when buying fruit and vegetables?  What have you found and how did you process it?

 

Local and Leftovers

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There has been quite a bit happening here as we prepare to leave for our holiday in less than 2 weeks.

However, some things remain consistent and preparing meals is one of them.  They are not overly fancy but here is a quick snapshot of some of our recent food.

This was my Sunday brunch.  Omelette with stir-fried cabbage and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Apart from the seasonings (salt, pepper and smoky paprika), everything was sourced within 20 metres of my kitchen.  No chemicals, no packaging and no transport costs.  This is not feasible for every meal or even every day but it is quite exciting when it happens.

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Then there are leftovers.  On Saturday evening we had Mexican quinoa followed by satay chicken and vegetable stir-fry the next night.  So last night was leftovers – a multi-cultural taste sensation!  They are not flavours I would generally combine but it was a wholesome and satisfying meal.

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Note that there was cabbage in the stir-fry.  When you have several home-grown cabbage it goes into pretty well everything.  There is no photo but we also recently had baked potatoes with salad and a generous serving of coleslaw.

As a change from cabbage, today I picked these 2 beautiful heads of broccoli.  I steamed the florets of broccoli then made a tuna and tomato (with a touch of chilli) sauce to pour over them and finished with cheese and flaxseed meal topping.  A few minutes under the grill and I served it with some rice.

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There will probably be a few creative meals in the next week or so as we try to use up what is on hand as well as in the garden.

Collective Action

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Much of what I write about here falls under the broad categories of cooking, gardening and sewing and of course, the all-encompassing category of self-reliance.

The little things that I do every day contribute to my overall philosophy which is summed up in the byline of the blog – ‘A Simple, Sustainable Life’.

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It is important that we should never underestimate the value of the little things that we can all do each and every day.  However, sometimes we need to look beyond our own backyards and get involved on a larger scale.

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8 days ago on 30th November several major Australian cities and regional centres saw significant numbers of school students, young people and adult supporters marching for their future – a future generated by renewable energy, not coal.  I marched in support of these intelligent and articulate youngsters.

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I am somewhere towards the rear of this photo which was taken today.  There were many, more more out of view of the camera.

Thousands of people marched again today and will continue to do so until our state and Federal governments take serious action on climate change.  The most pressing issue is to have the proposed Carmichael mine by Adani in the Gallilee Basin stopped.

There will be more events in the coming weeks.

All of the research shows that a clear majority of Australians support this action so please consider being involved.  Stand up and be counted and let the politicians hear our collective voice.

Meanwhile, I have made another batch of strawberry jam.  That is 8kg of strawberries made into jam.

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More Purple

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The lavender flowers are not the only purple in my life.  Today I was ironing one of GMan’s shirts which happens to be purple.

This shirt is one of his favourites and the cuffs had worn out some time ago so I cut the sleeves off to turn it into a short sleeve shirt which continues to be worn, albeit, not as frequently as when it was a long-sleeved business shirt.

I was ironing it today and I caught the tip of the iron against the edge of the back yoke seam whereupon the stitching gave way across about 2/3 of the back.  After my initial shock, I examined it closely and realised that the cotton thread had simply worn out.

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The fabric is faded and I know it will not last forever but I have restitched it and there is quite a bit more wear in it yet.

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It makes good environmental and economic sense to repair items and retain them for as long as possible so I am very pleased to have been able to extend the life of this shirt.

Fit to Wear

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There are many ways of approaching the goal of producing less waste but for me, one of the most obvious things is to consume less and make do with what you have.

Mending, repairing and refashioning will significantly extend the life of items, save them from landfill for longer and of course, reduce the need to purchase a replacement.

Here is a practical example that I did this morning in less than an hour.

This is GMan’s sweatshirt which he wears on the weekend when gardening, mowing and painting as you can see.  The cuffs and lower band are all frayed and badly stretched but the body of the garment is still relatively sound.

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When I said that I could replace the cuffs, he commented how much he liked the fit of it – although I don’t think ‘fit’ is actually the right word.  So, The first thing I did was to make a pattern for future reference.

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I use lightweight interfacing for this purpose and have a roll of it.  I find the patterns cut on interfacing are durable and unlikely to tear.

There are only 2 pieces required – one for the front and back (with different necklines marked) and one for the sleeves.

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Next, I had a dig in my stash of ribbing to find a suitable piece.  I found some bottle green which was exactly enough for the lower band and sleeve cuffs – no wastage at all.

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I then found a piece of black for the neckband and set to work.  I will not try to explain how the ribbing is attached as there are plenty of good instructions which can be found using Google.

The final result.

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GMan is happy and I am sure this will see plenty more wear in the garden.

 

Another Parcel

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About 10 days ago I placed an online order with OzFarmers for some glass jars.  They arrived by courier a few days later.

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Time to open it up.  I was impressed that the box had clearly been reused and was excited to find that the packing was not bubbled plastic or styrofoam beads, but good old newspaper.

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The newspaper was shredded quite uniquely but it is a little difficult to see in this photo.

These are 2 Weck glass jars with glass lids.  I am quite glad that they were wrapped in bubble wrap to ensure that they arrived safely.  We ordered these as GMan needed one for making a sourdough starter.  He has been making bread in the breadmaker for many years using bread mix and yeast but has decided to branch out and try sourdough.

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Since we were only able to buy these online, it made sense to purchase an additional one so that we would have a spare.  I have used reused glass jars for preserving jam, chutney and sauce but recently made the decision to invest in proper canning jars with a two-piece lid.

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I bought 12 of each of two sizes – Half pint and Pint jars – for those of us who deal in metric the actual capacity is 250ml and 500ml respectively.

Here is a closer look at the newspaper packaging.  There are about 6 layers of newspaper which have clearly been put through some sort of mechanical shredder to make a series of incomplete cuts and then it is spread to make a grille pattern.  The newspaper is now in the compost bin and the cardboard box is flattened and will be used as a weed suppressant when we next spread some mulch in the garden.

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Sadly, the entire trays were shrink-wrapped in plastic but rather than just ripping it off, I split the corners at one end until I was able to slide the whole wrapper off in one piece.

This is what it looked like.

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I sealed the untouched end with an elastic band and this will now be a future rubbish bag for my kitchen bin.

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No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to completely eliminate single-use plastic but it is possible to be conscious of your consumption and to think outside the box when it comes to disposing of it.

I am comfortable with accepting what is a relatively low level of plastic packaging to enable me to acquire products which should last a lifetime.  By using the jars we bought to prepare more of our own food we will reduce reliance on other food packaging.

A Frugal Mindset – 6

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I am coming to the end of this short series and today’s gem is all about DIY.

While GMan and I do quite a few things ourselves, I think it is important to understand your limitations.  There is no saving in attempting to do something yourself and ending up creating more of a mess that will incur a greater cost to have it fixed up.

We happily and effectively do our own gardening, sewing, cooking, landscaping, chopping firewood, cleaning solar panels, painting, tiling and some furniture restoration.  Things that we do not attempt are cutting our hair, computer repairs, car maintenance or anything electrical.

6. Frugal people embrace the idea of “do it yourself.” If something needs doing frugal people first consider whether they can do it themselves. No need to pay someone for convenience if you could do it yourself with just a bit of sweat equity. And those that are more content in their frugality actually enjoy that process. They like learning new things, and feeling self-sufficient without having to rely on someone else to do it for them.

Question to ask yourself: Why am I paying for that service or product? Could I get good enough results myself by learning something new, or spending a bit more time on the task?

What do you do yourself?  Or not?