Saturday, June 30, 2012

And the winner is...

J, I will be in touch to organise getting the bread bag to you.

Thanks so all of you who entered.

Take care.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


It is amazing how clever nature is. To have orange trees brimming with juicy fruit while colds are making the rounds really is a work of genius.

With my kiddoes coughing and spluttering their way through the week, I was glad I had picked up a 12 kilogram bag of oranges at the markets on Sunday morning.  A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice always makes me feel so much better when a cold takes hold.

The only problem is there is always a glut of orange rinds. After a bit of looking around I found a great way to turn these into an all purpose cleaner.

So, at the moment I have a jar of vinegar covered orange rinds sitting in the cupboard. I will leave these for another week, remembering to turn these every few days,  and then dilute it and test is out as a cleaner.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Don't forget to jump over to this previous post if you are interested in the bread bag giveaway. I will draw the winner in the morning.

Take care

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Doin' a Hugh

A few weeks ago I was watching a River Cottage episode where Hugh made three dishes using his own breadcrumbs as the base. He saves all of his bread offcuts and whizzes these up when he has enough to fill a jar with crumbs.

In the quest of make as much as possible from scratch, I started saving all of the loaf ends, little-too-dry slices and not-properly-risen rolls and fill a bag in the freezer. This is incredibly simple, and really a no-brainer, but I had never got myself organised enough to collect these leftovers.

After thawing out the contents of the bag and breaking it into pieces, these were laid out on a tray and placed into the oven to dry out. It is really important that these are completely dry otherwise mould could start growing. The crunchy pieces were then whizzed to form the crumb. I quite like the coarser texture rather than a powder. There is now a jar sitting in the cupboard ready to be used, and I know exactly what is in there.

On a  chilly Sunday, in between sewing, I threw together some (home-grown) spinach and feta rolls for lunch.

A handful of spinach, feta, cheddar, breadcrumbs and an egg were mixed to make the filling.

Just a a reminder about the giveaway for the bread bag. I have changed the comments so anyone can comment, so even if you don't have a google account, head on over and leave a comment. Just make sure to leave your name and a way for me to get in touch in case you win. Remember that I will send this anywhere in the world.

Take care

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bread Bag Giveaway

The cooler weather and sick kiddoes meant a very homey Sunday. While the patients were in sit-under-a-blanket-on-the-lounge-and-watch-a-DVD mode, I thought I would get a little sewing done.

I have made another bread bag and, with Plastic Free July only a week away, I thought I would give this one away.

All you need to do is leave a comment on the post telling me one way that you could reduce plastic in your home. A winner will be chosen by random on Friday morning Western Australia time. I will happily send this anywhere in the world.

(The winner must promise not to look too carefully at sewing. Some seams might be more even than others)

Take care

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thank you, thank you

Before I toddle off to bed, I just want to end Sunday with two thank yous.

The first is to Abby from Things For Boys who has given me one of her Sunshine Awards.  It was such a thrill to get Abby's email notification. What a sweetie.

My second thanks is to Gavin from The Greening of Gavin. I was lucky enough to be the winner of the DVD The Corporation from Gavin's recent giveaway. Thanks, Gav.

I have just finished some sewing and will be back here tomorrow with a giveaway of my own.

Good night

Take care

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Leisurely Afternoon Ride

As you may know, we only have one car, so bikes play a pretty important role here. One of us will generally ride to work so having a good bike is necessary. I have been riding a Merida mountain bike for the last few years. It was a hand-me-down and has served me well.

During our time in Berlin I fell in love with the bikes ridden there. Everyone seemed to have Dutch style (sit up) bikes and they all looked so comfortable riding these.

I had been finding that my mountain bike was causing me some neck and lower back discomfort from the position I needed to be in to ride. I realised that it was time to get a bike especially for me.

After quite a lot of research I decided on a Gazelle. All of the reviews I read were really positive and I liked that one of the comments mentioned that these bikes were made in the Netherlands, not in China, by people who were paid fairly for their work. A few weeks ago I managed to test ride a Gazelle but it was a little on the small side. The dealers were wonderful and organised getting a bigger orange (well, it is Dutch) bike in for me to try.

The call came in from Mercer Cycles, the only Gazelle dealer in Perth, about a week ago, letting me know that the bike was now in stock. With wet weather and a sick kiddo, I hadn't managed to get down there for a test ride. Today was the day and there was no way I wasn't getting down there.

After a ride, and some altering of handlebars and seat, I was totally smitten. I decided this was an investment worth making. It felt beautifully smooth to ride and incredibly comfortable sitting upright. It has been designed and made really well.

The plan was always to ride it home if I went ahead and bought it, so I had packed a backpack with my helmet gloves,, some water and snacks for the journey up the coast.

This is where the hard work started. I had looked up the route during the week so knew that it was going to be nearly a 30 kilometre ride to get home. Thankfully the view on the trip was beautiful. It was pretty much along the coast the whole way.The only time I had to head in through the suburbs was where the army barracks goes right down to the beach, so I had to go around.

Getting out of Fremantle

Stopping for a snack at Floreat Beach

Birds sitting on the rock

Looking north

Fisherman at North Beach

The whole ride was pretty leisurely and took about two and a half hours. I didn't wan't to push myself too hard as I hadn't done that ride before and I wanted to get used to the bike. I walked into the house a the end and felt pretty good. Just wait until tomorrow: there may be an update on the condition of my legs.

I am really happy with the bike but just need to do a little tweeking with the saddle position. Sitting up straight for a journey of that size is much easier than being hunched over. 

I hope you all had a leisurely Saturday.

Take care

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Plastic-Free Preparations

As a way of getting ready for Plastic Free July, I have been looking closely at the plastic we use around here. We are all pretty conscious of plastic but there are still the bits that manage to make their way into the house.

One of my greener aims this year was to make all of the bread that we eat. Generally there are rolls in the freezer ready to be defrosted, filled and packed for lunches. I find rolls to be a better way to go for us as this way I don't need to worry about trying to cut even slices and there is a lot less no waste of leftover bits of a loaf.

Some days I need to rely on the local bakery for rolls and bread, and here is the dilemma. I had been trying to go for the compostable option of a paper bag but still wasn't happy with the production aspect of the single use bag. I know these can be reused, and generally are, but they still have a limited life span. With a perfectly good sewing machine sitting on the bench and fabric scraps in a box I thought I would have a go at a reusable fabric bread bag.

As is my usual way of doing things, I made a start by drawing a rough sketch using some size estimations, cutting the fabric, sewing some seams and then looking for a tutorial.

I was pretty much on the right track which was a relief. I decided to make a drawstring version (which had nothing to do with the fact that the bag would have been too short for the tie in the tutorial)

I used it for the first time this morning as I generally find that wet, cold weather and a sick child aren't really the best conditions for baking bread.

Linn reminded me how fabulous tea towels can be to store bread so I thought some of you might be interest in these gorgeous little tutorials.
I Eat Food Bread Bag Tutorial
Double Layer Storage Bread Bag from Mousy Brown's House
Midwestern Girl Drawstring Bread Bag Tutorial
Our Wee Farm

Plastic Free July Update
If you have signed up for the challenge, you should have received a Survival Guide email today. In case you haven't signed up, you may be interested in some of links that were included.

Take care

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Discoveries at the Farmers' Market

I love the vibe of a farmers' market. That slowed down, chilled out feeling just sets the weekend off in the most wonderful way.

One of my new favourites is the Stirling Farmers' Market on a Sunday morning. The aim is generally to get there at about 8.30, about an hour after they open. There is such a great variety of stalls, with one of my favourites being the A & S Marchetti and Sons fruit stall.

They sell delicious, seasonal fruit grown on their property in Roleystone, only about an hour away. The stallholders are incredibly friendly and very happy to talk about the produce. I always tend to grab a selection of apples and pears as these seem to be the easiest sort of lunchbox fillers.

This is also where I discovered the wonders of the Kieffer pear. It is a sweet and crunchy fruit that goes beautifully with cheese and dried apricots, but is also great eaten on its own. There isn't a great deal of information on these in Australia and I think you might have a bit of trouble tracking these down anywhere other that a farmers' market.

The markets aren't necessarily in the prettiest location, but by being in the carpark of the Stirling Council offices and just off the freeway, they are easy to get to and there is heaps of parking.

What amazing discoveries have you made at Farmers' Markets?

Take care

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Plastic Free Inspiration

Some of you may be toying with the idea of joining in with Plastic Free July, but might need a little information and inspiration to help you decide.

Jess via Plastic Free Freo and Facebook
A Plastic Free Year
My Plastic Free Life (formally Fake Plastic Fish)
Green Living Blog - The Guardian

Beth Terry - Living Plastic Free

Now I will step down from my plastic-free soapbox. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Take care

Friday, June 15, 2012

Plastic Free July

It is that time of year again. This was something that I really wanted to get involved in last year but it seemed to coincide with leaving Australia. During a seven hour transit in Kuala Lumpur, it was difficult not to buy a bottle of water.

My annoyance at the consumption of single-use plastic isn't a new topic, in fact it was the topic of the first real post I ever wrote. Not only is the production of single-use straws, cups, cutlery and bags a huge drain on the earth's resources, but the disposal, or just as regularly littering, causes problems on the land, in the oceans and waterways, as well at to so many animals.

Plastic Free July is a great way to commit to reducing your use of plastic. When signing up, you can start with something such as reducing you consumption of plastic in one shopping trip up to an entire month. As usual the Earthcarers think of everything and provide great support for those who feel a little uncertain. I am particularly looking forward to a talk by Jude Blereau on Wholefood Cooking - Plastic Free in a fortnight. No matter where you are, feel free of join. I was just reading that someone from Egypt has joined!

For some, eliminating plastic completely may seem too huge a challenge. Encouraging those around us to reduce their use of these products is a great way to raise their awareness.

I've signed up.

Take care

Please feel free to add your comfort food link to this post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wet and Wild Week

It has been a pretty wild week here on the southwest coast of Australia. A storm hit here on Sunday and another one followed on Tuesday night. We are pretty sheltered where we live, so we didn't get any damage. The only cleanup we have will involve a rake: nice and easy.

The rainfall has been quite substantial so everything is looking lovely and green.

The peppery rocket is still growing, and regrowing, and regrowing.

The beetroot are coming along nicely. 

The broadbeans will need restaking this weekend. With all of this rainwater, these are thriving.

Coriander usually goes to seed really quickly for me, so this year I bought a plant, rather than planting seeds or seedlings, and it is doing really well. 

The lime tree is loving the rainwater as it is covered in lots of buds. Luckily none of the fruit we blown off during the winds.

The girls are loving the aftermath of the rain. There are heaps of grubs around the yard. 

I hope that any of you in WA are okay and didn't get much damage from the strong winds. It looks as thought winter is finally here.

Please make sure to join in by adding any of recent comfort food links to the previous post. It is wonderful to see what in going on in other kitchens.

Take care

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Comfort Food

Now the we are officially 10 days into winter, the rain has set in for a week or so. Yay!

A wintery Sunday always makes me think back to childhood and the pot of soup on a low heat, ready for whoever was needing to warm themselves from the inside. Now that I am one of the responsible adults in the house (apparently) providing that cool weather sustenance is now my responsibility.

The flavour of choice for this weekend is tomato.

With some tomatoes purchased this morning from the Stirling Farmers' Market and some turkish bread left over from yesterday, this is sure to keep out the cold.

Please click on the Add a Link button below to share the comfort foods you are cooking in your home. This will be open for a week.

Take care

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Sigh of Relief

The title of this post has changed in my head several times over the last few hours. "The Night We Didn't Get Much Sleep", " Chicken Searching by Torchlight" or "The One That Got Away".

Last night we were a little late in checking the girls were in bed so by the time we got out to the yard, we found three of four of them huddled under the tarp next to the coop. Normally they put themselves to bed but the door had closed so they weren't able to get themselves into their warm, dry, nesting boxes. This began the late-night search of the yard. That was when we came across the first sign that something wasn't quite right.

We searched under trees and shrubs, in the cubby, we even tried looking in very understanding neighbours' backyards. The anxiety levels were getting higher and higher as the minutes went on. After about half an hour, there was nowhere left to look. We decided that something untoward had happened. Many tears were shed and appetites had disappeared by the time we all cuddled together on the lounge.

It took a while for everyone to get to sleep with all the 'what ifs' and thinking through the possibilities of what had happened to Ruffle. The events of Mrs Bok kept running through my mind.

During the night there were a few games of musical beds as people woke from restless sleeps.

I was first awake this morning so thought I should probably check the yard before either of the kiddoes ventured out there. The last thing I wanted them to find was part of a chicken, or one of the other girls dead from the fright of whatever had happened the night before.

I opened the back door and headed out to the yard to find a gorgeous white chicken pacing the wrong side of the fence, wanting to get back in with the girls. I picked her up and brought her back into the house to show the waking children that we still had a flock of four. Everyone squealed with delight to see her in one piece.

Ruffle watching over the rest of the girls.

Our theory about the feathers in the yard is that a dove fell victim to a cat, and that spooked the chickens. We have no idea where she got through the fence but will be doing another wander around looking for any gaps.

We are all so relieved that there has been a happy ending to this.

Take care

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Late Night Snack

It is amazing how dinner time changes when kids are involved. In that other life, before children, we regularly ate at irregular times. Over the years, 6pm has become the time I aim to get the evening meal on the table, even now the kiddoes are in double figures. The only problem I find with this is that a few hours later, I have a hankering for a 'wee snackette'. This generally results in a quick trip to the late night supermarket for some 'milk' (code word for chocolate or chips) by one of us.

Looking into the pantry and finding a great selection of nuts, seeds and dried fruit inspired the making of a quick little snack. I ground some almonds, chia, sunflower seeds, oatbran, cocao powder and sesame seeds into a powder and then added some dates, that I have soaked in hot water, and a handful of raisin. In the food processor these all came together really well. Normally I would roll small spoonfuls into balls and coat with coconut but I wasn't feeling that inspired. A quick sprinkle of coconut over the base of a tray, before pressing the mixture out and sprinkling some more coconut, turned the fruit balls into a fruit slice. A perfect accompaniment for re-watching Gavin and Stacey.

One of favourite ingredients is usually sulphite free apricots but these are so good that all I found in the pantry was an empty packet. I think this would even work well with the grittiness of dried figs.

What do you have as a late night snack? 

Take care

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend Chickening

I love a long weekend.

I have been meaning to get to the Lockridge Community Garden for many months now, but as it is about 20 kilometres away, I never seem to be organised enough to get there. After reading about a workshop they had planned, this was the motivation needed to go and have a look.

Welcome signs written in a variety of languages are attached to one of the raised beds.

These gorgeous little eggplant made me envious (and hungry).

The workshop we attended was on keeping backyard chickens, and took place out in the wonderful grounds in a limestone amphitheatre. For an hour and a half we listened to the great advice of the speaker and useful tips of other chicken owners who attended. (It sounds like Neem Oil is something we should have on hand).

After some extensive reading of two great books, The Chook Book and The Joy of Keeping Chickens, I now feel that by going along and hearing someone talk about these topics that we are on the right track regarding animal husbandry.

One of the highlights for me was seeing the treatment of scaly leg mite. Seeing this first hand certainly made me feel more confident if I ever need to try this on our girls.

Our girls seem very relaxed and happy wandering around the yard and finding somewhere for a dust bath. After this photo I quickly decided to harvest the crop of three chillies remembering Gavin's experience with chickens and chillies.

Take care

Friday, June 1, 2012

The First Day of Winter

As the calendar flicks over to 1 June, I have spent the morning looking for the switch around here that turns the rain on and the temperature down. It must be hidden behind something as I don't seem to be able to find it. I think I need to go and have words with the trees too. Don't they know that all the leaves should be off by now?

We were fortunate enough to have some rain yesterday (as well as an amazing electrical storm) so everything looks extra green this morning. Being Friday, the night when we all just want to curl up and take it pretty easy, I thought a change from the regular homemade pizza was in order. With the spinach looking amazing, tonight's menu will be Spinach and Cheese Rolls. Some feta, cheddar and spinach (as well as an egg and some seasoning) rolled up in some puff pastry should keep everyone happy.

Hopefully this is the beginning of winter comfort food cooking.

What's on your Friday night menu?

Take care
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