My treasure from the market.

Hello,

today I feel every bit the lesser mortal that I am.

We finished weeding and mulching the poisonous, barren soil of the garden beds that form our backyard and then went out to our plot at the community garden. Once there, we discovered that the broccolini that had been just starting to put up buds on Wednesday is now in full flower.

Four days, people.

Four days between a possible crop and a lost one. Sigh. Well, we harvested anyway and I resolved to peel the stalks and cook those.

Dinner was to be freekeh, corn, broccolini and coconut chicken fillets.

I thought I’d try steaming the freekeh in the rice cooker and put the vegies in to steam with it.

Steaming corn and broccolini stalks.

Steaming corn and broccolini stalks.

Unfortunately the freekeh seemed to be taking much longer to cook than I had anticipated and I ended up serving the chicken – breaded with panko and coconut  – with the vegies, while I waited for the light on the rice cooker to switch from cooking to warm…

Chicken and veg.

Chicken and veg.

I had come to the conclusion that, in future, I should freeze the chicken uncooked as it was a tad dry reheated. I was also complaining that it was taking longer to cook the freekeh in the rice cooker than it would have on the stove … when The Boy investigated and found it had boiled dry.

Ahem.

But, Your Honour, the lights! The lights was all wrong!

There was enough uncremated for The Boy to have some slow carbs with his meal. I’d quite gone off the whole idea by then.

We all have days in the kitchen when things don’t quite go to plan and this was one of mine.

Tomorrow I shall cook freekeh on the stove top, take photos and wax lyrical about it to you all. Until then, I’m making a cup of tea and going to bed with a cat and a book.

Night,

S.

P.S. Oh and I seem to have missed the first birthday of this site. So, to celebrate that and getting over the 100 mark on Facebook likes, I’m thinking of holding a small competition.

Details to come.

Bits and Bobs Pasta Bake

Hello everyone, especially all my new followers!

Today was quite a productive one in spite of myself. I slept in until lunchtime and so did The Boy. I don’t think we’d realised just how stressed-out we were about the whole house financing business and, now that it’s all pretty much settled, we fell in a messy heap.

Thankfully, last night’s 15 minute tidy up in the kitchen and dining area achieved results in 10 minutes – so I had a clean kitchen to drag myself into for my morning cuppa. The herd of cats got to have a tumble outside and then it was off to the car wash to vacuum up the snail bait in the boot (trunk).

Because everyone has snail bait loose in their car, don’t they? Ahem.

My new canisters for tea and cat deterrence.

My new canisters for tea and cat deterrence.

I decided to treat myself to some canisters I had been wanting for our kitchen counter-top and have a little splurge before we head back into Saving For The House Mode. Because the mortgage is only the first step and nowhere near the last.

Anyway, our counter has been cluttered with tins of different sizes filled with tea bags, cookies and other sundry items for as long as we’ve been here. It’s not because we need these things to be on the counter for our convenience, but more to discourage the cats from getting up there. It’s mostly successful, but it looked horrendous. I saw these little guys at Big W a few weeks ago and thought they’d be just the ticket. Add to that the fact that they are the colours we are wanting to be using in the new house and they were only $10 each, and they were an easy sell.

I played with those for a bit when I got home and then spent a good hour weeding and mulching what laughingly passes for a garden here. I then engaged in the therapeutic activity of baking cookies.

The Boy's favourite cookies.

The Boy’s favourite cookies.

These look uninspiring, but contain chunks of dark chocolate and a sprinkling of sea salt. The Boy loves them and the look on his face as he bites into one makes just about everything seem worthwhile. Even weeding.

They are a riff on the cookie recipe I posted here, but I shall do a post just on them in the next few days.

Then it was time to make dinner. We had a small amount of corned beef left in the refrigerator, so I used it for a pasta bake with some macaroni, a red capsicum, a tin of chickpeas (for texture and fibre), some frozen peas and corn and a cheese sauce.

Bits and bobs pasta bake

Bits and bobs pasta bake

While we ate ,The Boy totted up the cost and declared that I had spent $5 to make enough to feed 6.  Not too shabby, just quietly.

Looks like the savings drive is back on track.

Later, S.

 

When life gives you lemons…

Future cleaning products.

I would naturally suggest that you make lemon butter or lemon curd if you were handed large amounts of lemons.

Lemon Butter.

Lemon Butter.

Although, there’s any number of other things you could make with them, like Caraway and Lemon Biscotti or some of the other recipes I have planned to post for you.

But, what can you do with all the leftover lemon shells? They look like sunshine and smell heavenly and it always feels like such a waste to simply toss them into the compost…

Make a cleaning spray with them.

I kiddest thou not.

All you need is your lemon ‘husks’, some plain old household vinegar and a largish jar with a lid.

If you are an instant coffee drinker with a fairly decent habit, you probably find yourself with largish glass jars all the time. Use one of those.

The vinegar you need is not the high-brow, ultra-gourmet, aged in oak barrels, caressed lovingly by mountain maidens type vinegar. No. You want this stuff.

This is vinegar.

This is vinegar.

Plain old household vinegar. You can get a 2 litre bottle at Aldi for around $1.20. You can now buy ‘household cleaning vinegar’ in the detergents section of many supermarkets, but you don’t need that. This stuff will do.

You’ll find it on the bottom shelf in the pickles and condiments sections of your supermarket aisles. I tend to buy 6 litres at a time.

Vinegar is acetic acid. Acid cleans stuff. Better yet, vinegar doesn’t contain nasty fragrances that will set off hayfever sufferers until the perfume finally disappears. It doesn’t need you to suit up in coveralls and goggles to use it and doesn’t come with a Poisons warning.

Zest and juice your lemons

It cuts through grease, it’s antibacterial, and it’s biodegradable, it’s also highly unlikely to trigger eczema and other skin reactions like harsher (more expensive) chemical cleaners. It also kills moulds and mildew, unlike bleach which simply “bleaches” them and makes things smell clean.

It can be used in all sorts of things. But sometimes you don’t want stuff to smell like vinegar for even a short time. (However, the scent does dissipate really quite quickly.)

So try doing this:

lemons in white vinegar

lemons in white vinegar

  1. Thoroughly clean your jar.
  2. Pack it with your used lemons.
  3. Fill with vinegar until the lemons are covered.
  4. Tightly cap the jar.
  5. Place in a dark cupboard for a minimum of 3-4 weeks.
  6. Strain the liquid from the lemons and reserve.
  7. Discard lemons.

The vinegar will draw the essential oils out of the lemons and take on their colour and fragrance.

It can then be diluted 50:50 with water and used to clean floors, glass, shower recesses and counter tops. Use  a microfibre cloth and it will be even more effective.

It may require a little more elbow grease than a stronger store-bought chemical, but you also won’t require breathing apparatus to be in the same room immediately after you’ve used it.

Sturdy, inexpensive spray bottles are available in most supermarkets or hardware stores. I use this kind.

Spray bottle filled with lemony vinegar.

Spray bottle filled with lemony vinegar.

This is filled with undiluted vinegar. I had a greasy grill I wanted to get clean, so I didn’t add any water this time. As you can see, the liquid has taken on the colour of the lemons.

The house I am currently living in has hardwood floors throughout. It was costing me a fortune to clean them with commercially available liquids – then I discovered this. It cleans beautifully with a microfibre cloth on a swiffer-type mop, with no streaking at all and a fresh scent.

My subscribers may have noticed that I make large amounts of lemon curd when the fruit is in season as The Boy seems to inhale it. This leaves me with 6 half lemon shells for each batch. Into a jar they go, and I will keep topping up that jar until it is full. I have about 6 jars steeping in the back of my pantry at any given time.

It doesn’t go off.

Future cleaning products.

Future cleaning products.

You can also use orange peels in exactly the same way. So, if you are a maven for freshly squeezed OJ, here’s a way to generate less waste.

A word of warning though: do not use this spray on a marble surface, or you will get etching. That would be bad.

Laminates are fine, as is solid granite and other stones.

However, check with the manufacturer as I accept no responsibility for any damage that might be caused…

 

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Hiya!

I wasn’t on last night – there was stuff happening and I went out. Before I went I made myself a baked potato with our home-made cider baked beans.

Yes, I will put up the recipe for the baked beans soon. Well, when I get to sit down for more than a few minutes straight, that is.

I’m pleased to report that the lemon sponge was a bit of a hit, and I have been instructed to post the recipe – and soon.

Luscious Lemon Sponge.

Luscious Lemon Sponge.

Yes’m!

I went to a linen party last night where, in my head, I furnished a yet to be built house several times over with soft stuff. Then I decided I’d better get the thing built before I filled it, or moving again would just shatter me to smithereens. I did come home with these though.

Naw!

Naw!

Thanks, Rachel. 🙂

The Accidental cat hasn’t attempted to eat them yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

Today, I visited a friend in hospital and took them a few small jars of Lemon Butter, because hospital food. And this evening The Boy and I checked out a new burger joint for Fry Day to celebrate something kind of momentous.

We have a mortgage.

Yes, my dears, the Linguistic Nerd within me felt the need to point out that this word means  – literally – Death Pledge. In fact, my heart has been racing so much over the last few days as we neared closer to this point, that I almost expired before it transpired.

Okay. I’ll stop now.

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring.

Anyway, all this means that I’ve not cooked anything all day. This will change tomorrow. I’m rather tempted to go to the Lakeside Market and buy beans, but we really don’t need any. It’s just that the weather is gorgeous for a change and should be savoured.

Instead, I think I will probably be here. Cleaning. My home looks like a midden but slightly less organised. This has to change and I’m feeling well enough to tackle it, well, some of it.

I’m going to do a 15 mins clean in the kitchen and dining area before I go to bed so it looks a little less chaotic at breakfast tomorrow.

Hopefully I’ll also get a post or two written before the photographs in my folders overflow and engulf the computer…

Night all!

 

Luscious Lemon Sponge

I promised I’d start doing this again, so here goes!

From Woolworths was got:

  • 5 kg Laucke Multigrain bread mix $12.57
  • 2 l Cadbury Vanilla ice cream           $  5.00

Total = $17.57

The cold stuff

The cold stuff

From Aldi:

  • 500 g Pizza cheese                              $4.79
  • 500 g Dairy Spread                              $2.99
  • 500 g Fish fillets                                    $3.99
  • Beef silverside                                       $8.58
  • 500g steakhouse fries                        $2.49
  • 500 g frozen stir fry veg                     $1.99
  • Pork Loin Roast                                  $15.36
  • 1 kg SR flour                                            $0.75
  • Wholemeal tortilla wraps                  $1.99
  • 1 kg   Caster sugar                                 $1.99
  • 1 kg Plain flour                                       $0.75
  • 4 x corn snack packs                            $2.29
  • 1 x Microwave brown rice pack       $1.49
  • 1 x 700 ml Passata                                $1.59
  • 2 x 400 g plain diced tomatoes        $1.18
  • 1 x 400g tomatoes w. herbs              $0.59
  • 1 x 800 g can pie apples                      $2.99
  • 1 x 397 g can condensed milk          $1.69
  • 1 x 455 g jar Vegemite                          $6.59
  • 1 x 400 ml tin coconut cream           $0.89
  • 1 x 400 ml lite coconut cream          $0.89
  • 1 x 250 g jar minced garlic                  $1.19
  • 1 x 500 g squeeze pack honey          $5.49
  • 1 kg brown onions                                 $1.29

Total = 76.44

The main haul.

The main haul.

And looking at that picture, I’ve just realised that I bought two cans of condensed milk but was charged for only one!

And from the greengrocer:

  • potatoes                                                   $1.80
  • Granny Smith apples                          $1.78
  • Red capsicums                                      $2.19

Total = $5.77

A total spend of  $99.78

And I’m happy with that. The ‘fun’ things this week were the ice-cream so we could have something naughty in the freezer 😉 and the passata. I want to use some in the pressure canning I’m doing and, when I saw it there, I grabbed a bottle. I need to check out the recipe I want to use to see what else is needed, but I’ve made a start.

Tonight our dinner was Almost Fried Rice using some of the leftover corned beef from Sunday dinner.

Dinner

Dinner

And I spent a goodly part of the day mixing up a lemon sponge for my Thursday lunch group. There were a couple of small mishaps – but it’s all ready to go now.

Luscious Lemon Sponge

Luscious Lemon Sponge

Hopefully, they’ll be able to overlook my truly horrendous effort at icing it, because it now looks truly hideous.

It's nearly Halloween, isn't it?

It’s nearly Halloween, isn’t it?

I hate icing. Do you think it shows?  The Boy tells me that, once it’s cut up and on their plates, no-one will care what it looks like.

Until tomorrow, lovelies.

 

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Budget decadence.

I’m sorry.

I didn’t do what I said I would. I got a lot done today, but unfortunately none of it had to do with this blog.

I wanted to though!  I promise. Really truly.

I was waylaid by completing my tax return. This should be relatively straight forward. It never is though. I invested my lump sum from when I was invalided into a managed trust. The tax statements/reports from there never arrive until September and contain all sorts of eldritch entries that require me to search through and experiment with various entry points on etax until they match the place they are supposed to go. The fact that they now list the places they go is massive improvement from a few years ago, when they did not.

This confusion and frustration was compounded by the Accidental Cat appearing at 15 minute intervals and yowling at me (at volume) to open a door…

I ended up locking her behind another one entirely.

This is new...

This is new…

However, t’is done. Also, since I cashed out the trust to put toward the house deposit, I won’t have these issues again. Happy dance, my place, now.

I did, however, get the celebration breakfast done.

I took these frozen croissants,2015-09-06 11.48.04

cut them in half and filled them with pieces of this small wheel of brie.2015-09-06 11.53.35

then heated them until the croissants were warmed through and smelled beautifully buttery and the cheese was all melty and runny.

Budget decadence.

Budget decadence.

We have a home loan and soon will start to build. Another happy dance.

On the blog front, I’m guessing I should do a post on how to do these croissants for Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day, or any special occasion, breakfasts …coming soon.

Also planned – a few posts on easy home-made cleaning solutions.

Tonight I’m abdicating catering responsibilities and waiting to see what The Boy serves me.

Because I can.

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Hello my lovelies.

I’m sorry I wasn’t on yesterday.

I went off to our plot at the Ballarat Community Garden and didn’t get back for 3 and a bit hours.

Before

Before

After all that weeding and mulching I was ever so tired and typing and internetting wasn’t really something I felt up to.

After.

After.

Thankfully, I had put a corned beef on to cook in the slow cooker before I left, so there really was nothing left to do for dinner.

That is, beyond mashing some spuds and cooking the Pak Choi I had just plucked from the aforementioned plot.

I had been followed home by a massive rainstorm, so it was doubly nice to tuck in to my meal knowing that (a) I had missed a drenching and (b) I didn’t have to do anything else that evening.

Dinner.

Sunday Dinner.

Today, I finally finished the shopping and hit the green grocery – so I’ll be publishing lists tomorrow. I also managed to make some Lemon Butter with my friend Althea’s eggs, and my friend Stephen’s lemons.

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Little jars of sunshine to start the spring

Then I started an experiment. There is a recipe for ginger beer in my mother’s collection and I have been meaning to try it for some time. This is that time. I’ll tell you in a few days if I was successful, but this is how it looks right now.

Ginger beer?

Ginger beer?

Tonight we shopped the fridge and I had vegetarian bean curry and the boy had honey teriyaki chicken; both over rice.

Tomorrow we will be starting the day with a celebratory breakfast. I have some brie in the refrigerator and some croissants in the freezer. These two shall be combined.

🙂

We have finance, Peeps. Life is good.

 

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Steamed basmati and quinoa

Last night we had a blackout that lasted for a very, very long time. The Boy was not impressed as he was in the middle of a ‘ranked’ League of Legends game when it went out.  It didn’t come back until 4 am.

Sigh.

The sun, however, rose as per regular programming and I zipped off to the monthly produce swap at the local Community Garden. I now have 2 dozen eggs from a friend’s backyard chooks and I shall enjoy coming up with things to cook with them.

I’ve been given oodles of lemons lately, so Lemon Butter would seem to be the most obvious first choice…

I also inspected our plot and decided a whole lot of weeding needs done – and soon. When I got home I discovered that the lettuce seeds I’d planted a few days ago in my mini-hothouse are sprouting already. Spring really is here.

Budding lettuce seedlings.

Budding lettuce seedlings.

I recently found a slow-cooker Honey Teriyaki Chicken recipe. It called for chicken breasts, but I had some tenderloins in the freezer waiting to be used. So that was dinner tonight.

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Honey Teriyaki Chicken

It was served with mixed vegetables over a steamed mix of basmati rice and quinoa, which was quite tasty.

Steamed basmati and quinoa

Steamed basmati and quinoa

The Boy gave it the thumbs up, so I may post the recipe in the future.

Until tomorrow.

If only I ate a plant-based, whole-foods diet.

Today was a day when I got things done in spite of myself. After managing to hunt down someone on a nearby road crew who could move the truck that was parked across my driveway, I finally got to my lunch group. This was done via a local bakery.

Yes. I squibbed on making something, but I was tired. One of my friends at the group surprised me with a little box of a lovely home-made, gluten-free Buckeye Slice though. It is being savoured slowly…

And doesn't that look fabulous?

And doesn’t that look fabulous?

Then I celebrated the fact that we have conditional approval on our financing (Yippee!) and treated myself to my first haircut in a l o n g time. It’s one of those things I stopped doing in order to save some cash. I’m tidier now. It feels good.

Turned out the hairdresser’s brother had just been diagnosed with MS, so I found myself giving a potted lecture on the subject …

After this, The Boy readily agreed to helping me with the shopping. Bless him.

We drove out to look at our block of land first. It remains where we left it. This was reassuring.

Some of the haul.

Some of the haul.

Then we hit the shops. Bread mix was bought and a couple of largish lumps of meat, alongside assorted other edibles. All that remains is the fresh vegetables – and that can wait. I have my regular IV tomorrow and no shopping will follow that.

I get taken to lunch on days when I have the drip; that’s always nice.

However, fear not!  I will resume my posts listing what I bought where, and for how much. Just not tonight or tomorrow, ‘kay?

We’d bought some frozen fish fillets as something different and then thought we’d do home-made fish and chips for dinner.

That didn’t happen. I’m tired, he’s feeling down – we need nutrition not nasties.

So I mixed up a Vegan Tikka Masala instead. As you do.

I sautéed some onion, carrot and celery (natch!) in my French oven while I thought about what to do next. I decided a spoonful or two of Tikka Masala paste from a jar in the fridge would go well, so I fried that off and added some lite coconut cream, a tin of red kidney beans and a tin of chick peas.

Some Bok Choy was sliced and added – after I had persuaded the Accidental Cat that it was not something that she wanted to eat. This cat was definitely fed in the kitchen by her previous humans, the merest rustle of anything and she comes running.

Oooh, too spooky for me!

Oooh, too spooky for me!

Then the rest of the Tuscan Kale we were given on the weekend was sliced and added to the curry with a small red capsicum I diced.

I heated up a mix of some cooked brown and basmati rice I had in the refrigerator and dinner was served.

15 minutes from go to whoa. Fast food people. $5 worth.

Chick pea tikka masala.

Chickpea Tikka Masala.

Try it.

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The Accidental Cat wants chicken

Today I managed to get dressed a few hours after the rest of the country had lunch.

Thankfully, last night I had retrieved a packet of Asian flavoured beef  from my freezer, so I popped that in my baby slow cooker on low.

And the after" pic.

Dinner

Then I washed several loads of laundry and got them hung up on various contraptions around the house.

Tomorrow is supposed to be shopping day – although I sincerely doubt that is going to happen – so I did a bit of a freezer stocktake. We have quite a bit of frozen mince, some chicken tenderloins and a butterflied chicken roast in there, so we’re at no risk of protein deficiency any time soon. However, I have a hankering for some corned beef and might hunt some out while shopping.

Speaking of which, I may have to recruit The Boy to help me out with it this time. This can be a fraught situation. ASD and supermarkets are not natural bedfellows; the fluorescent lights, piped music and all the other audio and visual stimuli can very easily overload an Aspergian brain with data. Softly, softly…

Anyway, I decided to deprive the BBQ chook in the refrigerator of its remaining flesh, bag it all up and freeze; the meat for quick meals later and the carcass for stock when I’m running low.

Chicken on ice

Chicken on ice

Of course, this is what suddenly appeared at my feet as I opened the bag of chicken…

The Accidental Cat wants chicken

The Accidental Cat wants chicken

I thinks she likes chicken. It’s only a hunch, mind you, but she seems quite keen.

I have cooked some rice and am about to eat my beef before heading off to a book club meeting without having read the book, because eyes don’t work.

I have my lunch group tomorrow and I have no idea what I’m going to take. All suggestions welcome.

ttfn