Category Archives: Food

Thursday’s garden gobbles

Standard

I am linking in with Veggie Gobbler for her Thursday’s Garden Gobbles.

Not much to harvest in the garden at the moment as I have pulled out most of my plants to prepare the new beds for the year ahead.  These included all of my tomato plants and I picked the last tomatoes, red and green San Marzano, earlier in the week.

For tonight’s dinner, it was the usual.  Anything edible from the garden tossed in a pan with an egg on top.

The plants:

Purple amaranth, thyme, basil.

An eight ball zucchini.

Sad looking transplanted chillies.

IMG_1139 IMG_1140 IMG_1142

The harvest:

IMG_1143

I added a clove of organic garlic and red onion from the local farmers’ market; an egg from my neighbour’s chooks; walnut, parsley and feta dip from the farmers’ market; and a slice of my homemade bread.

The dinner:

IMG_1145

The only non-local ingredients were the salt and pepper and bread mix.

Stay tuned for next week’s instalment of vegies with egg on toast!

Sunday log

Standard

This was the last week of our summer holidays, as I head back to the office and R1 to vacation care and R2 to his kindy/day care tomorrow.  We had visitors from home, my dad and my teenage half-brother whom the kids adore.  It was also a bloody hot week.

Steps forward

1. Escaping to the air conditioned library, I checked out 4 books which seem to have a theme…

IMG_1104

I soaked them up immediately, reading the first chapter of each and then jumping between books for days.  I have finished No Impact Man and 21st Century Smallholder, but will definitely have to read the latter a few more times.  Reading No Impact Man and seeing the type of lifestyle he led before embarking on his year long experiment at living without environmental impact, I realise that I am already some way along my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

2. I made jam.  Pretty much, in a nutshell, that is a massive leap forward.  Jam making was the one insurmountable. For nearly a year I read countless books and blogposts regarding jam making, but until today when the kids baulked at the plums from the market because they were too tart, I did not have the courage.  God knows why, because the recipe for plum jam was plums, sugar and water.

So utilising all of my acquired knowledge I jumped in head first.

It seemed like I was doing it right and wrong at the same time.

IMG_1095 IMG_1096 IMG_1097

I sterilised all of my implements and put a saucer in the freezer for the wrinkle test.  I measured out my ingredients.  (To give you an idea of how huge a leap forward this was for me – I am a grown woman and yet have never ever weighed out ingredients for a recipe before. Truly.) A minute before I had to start the rolling boil the plums were still firm so I mashed them despite the recipe not calling for this action. I conducted the wrinkle test multiple times, beyond the time specified for maximum rolling boil, but the jam still swam on the saucer.

No matter, I poured the runny jam into jars and took photos because I was just so damn proud of myself.IMG_1103

Later I realised I had halved the plums and sugar quantities but not the water.  Oh well, next time.  Because there is definitely going to be a next time. It is so easy!!  (Unless you get it wrong 🙂 )

Step back.

1. This one is dad-related.  He wanted to take the kids shopping for their Christmas gifts, so I met him at a local mega shopping centre.  I hadn’t been there for so long and I seriously had a visceral reaction to it.  My legs hurt after walking around one shop and I realised I was no longer ‘shopping centre fit’ capable of walking all 3 levels for 6 hours at a time.  This was the good part.  Unfortunately, R2 hadn’t lost the art of consumption, and became attached to all sorts of flame wielding plastic men.  I caved in and said he could have them after we couldn’t find a single wooden toy by the third toy shop.

He played with them for all of three minutes before declaring he wanted to collect the ‘whole set’.  My heart broke to see him back on the ‘I want’ merry go round, when we were doing so well off it.

R1 only wanted school shoes, white volleys, as her Christmas present, no matter how much my dad tried to talk her out of it.  But this made me think – am I pushing an unachievable and demoralising asceticism on my children in my own egoistic pursuit of a certain kind of lifestyle?

While these Sunday logs measure my slow incremental weekly progress, my dad’s visit showed just how much my way of living has changed in less than a year.  There were stark contrasts between what we both felt were ‘normal’.  He double plastic bagged every little thing he bought and then ripped the bags open so they were unusable.  He bought a slab of 500ml water bottles which he chilled in the fridge, creating excessive rubbish and consuming energy, when I had a jug of filtered water for drinking.  His first option was buying takeaway when I preferred to use what I had at home.  His suggestion that I poach eggs in a plastic container in the microwave (I felt physically ill at the thought of this).  His inability to be inside a warm home without air conditioning.  Litres of soft drink in the fridge.  Assumptions that I hang out at the shopping centre with the kids.

These all horrified me.  Yet I hadn’t really noticed myself changing so much.

baby sea turtles

Standard

Today was my last day of holidays before heading back to work tomorrow (for 7 working days, before taking another break, but nevertheless still traumatic).  More significantly, tomorrow the children go to their dad’s for their first annual holiday with him in 3 years and won’t be back until the 13th January.  So I needed to do something special today, something a stay at home mum would do, something creative, something promoting togetherness, something memorable, something fun.  Ok, all I could think of was making cupcakes.

I had never made cupcakes with the kids from scratch before, so this was different.  R1 came up with the recipe from her Dora and Diego Let’s Cook cookbook which Santa brought in 2010, but as yet had not been utilised.  Baby Sea Turtles.  And I liked the fact that it used wholemeal flour.  Healthy 🙂

The kids, of course, helped.  R2 was so adept at getting the mixture from the bowl to the patty cases with the spatula that he declared he will be a chef in a restaurant when he grows up.

IMG_1019

And R1, well she was handy in ensuring that nothing went to waste.

IMG_1022

Both kids were eager to ice and decorate the (forgot to cool first) cupcakes, especially with the rule that dropped smarties could be eaten.  Unfortunately, this rule was exploited resulting in some naked turtle backs.

IMG_1023

They didn’t quite turn out like the picture in the cookbook.

IMG_1024

But a successful activity anyway.  The proof of this wasn’t in the pudding, unfortunately, as the wholemeal flour angle kind of made them inedible, but in the participation level of the kids.  Special credit to them for withstanding the heat in the kitchen on a humid 40 degree Celsius day.

At least I now have a trail of cupcake crumbs all over the house to remind me of the children over the next week or so.

rescue recipe

Standard

OMG where is the vodka when you need it.

When avoiding or escaping my mounting obligations from everyone wanting a piece of me is not the answer, then I need to have something in my arsenal to face them in one fell swoop.  Brownies.

This one recipe has been my saving grace this week.

I have not been able to avoid the last week of the school year or the emails from the P& C Committee advising parents to give their children’s teacher aides individual presents in recognition of parents’ personal relationships with them….

Or avoid a text message late Sunday evening from my father saying he will be dropping into town on Thursday.  His birthday is Friday, and the realisation has dawned on me that I cannot use the excuse of the combined Christmas/birthday present / only send a card as he lives so far interstate, to avoid the reality of never being able to get my dad a present that he appreciates, even if I had a year to plan…

Or avoid the office politics where I feel unwittingly like a Survivor contestant who hasn’t noticed everyone else has made alliances…

One night of baking and staying up until 11 pm, and all these issues have been sorted.  Brownies for the teachers with Christmas bows, brownie squares for work morning tea, and a small square for my dad. And there are even some crusty edges to bribe the kids with to eat their dinner this week.

One recipe is all you need to get you through LIFE.

IMG_0958

It wasn’t until I got to my son’s kindy this morning that I realised it wasn’t his last week until next week. But bugger me if I am going to spend another night baking, his teachers can get their present early.

chutney day

Standard

Usually I like to have a little forewarning of my children’s sick days, so that I can plan for them, for instance, sleep in until at least 6 am.  Not so today.  We had the mad rush through breakfast with gentle threats of coercion to finish breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, etc etc, and it wasn’t until we were getting the school bags out the door that R1 developed the inability to walk due to a sore tummy, head, nipples, etc.

So, it was an at home day for me and R1.  The sheer luxury of a whole day to make some headway into the ever growing list of ‘things to be done’ was overwhelming.  For the past 2 weeks I have been collecting ingredients to make a zucchini chutney – ever since I decided that this zucchini may have actually finished growing.  Yes this is a zucchini, but I only believe this because it grew on the zucchini plant.

IMG_0930

So what to do with a vegetable that weighs over a kilo? Well, a while ago I bought a preserves book. This was when I decided to pretend I was a housewifey. I figured, I was the breadwinner, I could also be my own housewife.  So I bought the preserves book and a house with a garden at the same time.  When I choose a new path in life I tend to throw myself into it completely and make it happen.

Anyway, until now, I just haven’t had time to make chutney, so rather than let a non-work day go to waste as well as a rather large vegetable, today was the day.

Either I am not made of housewife stuff, or the author of the book was a misogynistic witch.  35 minutes to make, my arse!  The prepping took me an hour and fifteen minutes alone.  And I have a blister at the base of my index finger from chopping the ‘zucchini’ into centimetre square cubes.

IMG_0931

The 35 minutes was for actual cooking, although in reality of course it was over an hour. There was no mention of the consumption of time spent dicing, slicing, wincing.  Lucky I had the time to spare today as I was a ‘stay at home mum’ for the occasion.  But does this mean that women’s time spent prepping recipes ‘just happens’?  This recipe made me angry that such time spent was apparently inconsequential. Anyway, I digress…it probably was due to my inept mastery of women’s arts.

This is the product of two and a half hours of my life.

IMG_0934

Despite being shattered from lack of sleep, I couldn’t just nap or knit or read today. No I had to spend the hottest part of a sweltering day over a stove (’tis the lot of women 🙂 ) to make it worthwhile.

In my meditation practice over the past 18 months, I have been working on releasing this mindset, this need to make every moment productive. So even on my busiest of weekends without the children when I have to condense a fortnight’s chores, errands, and other housewifey duties into 2 days, I have always taken 3 hours out on Saturday afternoon to go on meditation retreat. This even during the insanity of 6 weeks when I crazily added doing an online graduate certificate into the mix.

R1 spent her ‘sick’ day making puppy dog cards for her brother which said ‘you rock R2’.

IMG_0932

And I still haven’t started making my Christmas presents for this year…

what’s a pony?

Standard

IMG_0915

During our visit up the hill last weekend, my valley neighbour and I were given fruit from a tree we’d never seen before. ‘What is it?’

‘What’s a pony’

‘What’s a what’s a pony?’

‘What’s a pony’

And so forth round and round. Until finally I deciphered the words, white sapote.

Apparently it tastes like a banana, so we took it and walked down the hill through the 42 varieties of mango trees.  My valley neighbour started saying that she would never plant 42 varieties (that was her statistic, I am pretty sure I counted 6), as she would just pick the sweetest and plant lots of that.  And she doesn’t go in for ‘different’ fruits like the whatsapony.

Not knowing anything about it other than to let it ripen, which I did for 5 days on my window sill, prodding it until it was ‘banana-squishy’, I ate it tonight.  That, and making coulis, is all I know to do with fruit.  I sliced into it, and at first, not knowing what the centre stuff was, I nibbled on it.  Hard seed….bleech. But then I ate the flesh which was creamy and smooth, and I guess a little banana-y. (I am thinking ‘banana’ is the default flavour of unknown fruits, a bit like ‘chicken’ is for unknown meats).

IMG_0916

After the remains were disposed of, I thought that I should probably learn a little about the fruit, such as that it is not toxic when eaten raw. So, I consulted Wikipedia.

This is what I now know about a white sapote:

In the native language of Mexico it is called a cochitzapotl, which means ‘sleep sapote’, and has edible pulp (phew).  The flavour can be banana-y, but also a little bland – I thought it may have been.  Its seeds have narcotic properties – they’re in the bin now – that’ll teach me not to swot up first! It induces drowsiness, hence the name….

I don’t think I would grow a tree myself, but I am glad that I tried it, as I learnt a few things.  While it sounds like just the thing to get R2 off to sleep at night – because nothing else will- I am pretty sure that the kids would prefer just the sweetest type of mango.