Wednesday, 24 February 2016

In the kitchen

Its been too hot outside this last week to do much in the garden, so I have spent a bit more time in the kitchen instead, cooking up a few different things here and there. Trying out some new arvo snacks for the kids and getting a bit of a ferment on! So I thought I would just share a couple of the recipes I have used this week in case anyone is interested. Firstly I made Eggplant Kasundi. I kinda followed this recipe from Cityhippyfarmgirl with a few changes. This is a delish relish kinda thingy. Goes nice with eggs, steaks, sausages (thats all I've tried it with so far, but you get the gist).

Eggplant Kasundi

  • 1kg eggplants
  • 400g tomatoes
  • 3 medium onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp coriander
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 100ml vinegar
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tsp salt

In a large pot add the ginger, garlic, onion and oil. Cook it up, stirring continuously over a medium heat, add your spices and continue to stir for a couple of minutes. Add diced eggplants and diced fresh tomatoes. Continue stirring intermittently, pop the lid on and let the mixture cook down a little further, (you want the eggplant to be soft and cooked through.) 

Add the apple vinegar's, honey and salt, continue cooking (stirring occasionally) over a low heat for approximately 1 hour or until mixture thickens and comes together. Pour hot mixture into sterilised jars. Store in the fridge or water bath to store for longer.

Eggplant Kasundi.

As some of you saw on my facebook page I also made a fresh batch of Kombucha. These are the different measurements I use up to 6 litres.

70-90g sugar
1-2 tea bags
50-100ml previous kombucha 'juice'

140-180g sugar
2-4 tea bags
100-200ml previous kombucha 'juice'

210-270g sugar
3-6 tea bags
150-300ml previous kombucha 'juice'

280-360g sugar
4-8 tea bags
200-400ml previous kombucha 'juice'

350-450g sugar
5-10 tea bags
300-500ml previous kombucha 'juice'

440-540g sugar
6-12 tea bags
400-600ml previous kombucha 'juice'

My Kombucha scoby (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) about to go into its fresh batch of tea.

So, firstly you boil 1L of filtered (dont use plain tap water, the chlorine in it will kill the scoby mother!) and pour into a glass jug with the sugar and tea bags. Stir until sugar is dissolved and let the tea brew until the liquid is room temperature or the same as the scoby. You must make sure they are both at the same temp otherwise the excess heat will kill the scoby as well. Pour liquid into a large glass jar (this really should be glass and definitely not any kind of aluminium or steel as this will effect it and again kill it...Sounds pretty hectic, huh?) - or whatever size you are using and fill with more filtered water. Add the scoby and extra kombucha 'juice'. Cover with a breathable cloth and secure with a rubber band and set aside where it wont be disturbed for as long as your taste desires. I leave mine for 2 weeks to develop a lovely carbonated taste. Be careful not to leave for too long as it will start to turn to vinegar. Dont worry about the sugar content, this is what the scoby feeds on, so by the time you drink it, all the sugar will be 'consumed' by the scoby and minimal if any by you. Then you are left with a delicious fermented probiotic drink that can aid your health in many ways. Check out these pages if you are interested in reading more.
Food Renegade - Kombucha health benefits
Wellness Mama - the Benefits of Kombucha

Apple Cider Vinegar day 1.

And finally I have started to make my first batch of apple cider vinegar. This may sound grose, but I keep the kids half eaten apples, give them a rinse then chop them up and put into a jar. I add the apples to about 3/4 full then top with filtered water. For each cup of water I add a table spoon of sugar. Make sure the sugar dissolves (I gave a good few shakes with a lid on), cover with a breathable cloth and secure with a rubber band. Leave to sit on the bench for a couple of weeks, it should 'grow' a mother on top - this is great, it means its working.  Drain of the liquid (keep it, discard the apple bits) and leave again for another 2-4 weeks until it has a lovely vinegar smell. This can then be stored indefinitely but I am sure it will be used up pretty quickly. 

Hope you all try one of these or all of them, let me know how you go. Talk soon. x

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Housewife and happy

Now that our daily routines are starting to work themselves out so too is my daily routine. However I do still manage to get side tacked very easily, so I sought out some daily and monthly cleaning routines to see if it helps me. Today hubby gets home and comments first thing about how tidy the house is looking. I followed a cleaning routine from start to finish and the results were happy housewife alright! I managed to get the house looking spic and span in no time. So I have stuck the routines up to see if its something I can maintain and if ultimately it works. I got my routines for daily cleaning here and monthly cleaning here. I'll have to adjust and add some tasks here and there, but it pretty much covers everything. So along with all that I also whipped up a few quick cleaning products that are nice and safe to use around my family as well as some more of my favourite homemade laundry liquid.

Dragon fruit flower, next to see if it fruits. Fingers crossed.

Ginger starting to look like its getting ready for harvest.

German Pickling cucumbers that just seem to grow like crazy - everywhere. Very hardy.

My basket bounty - just a regular day,

Red Mignonette Lettuce seeds I saved.
The garden just keeps on keeping on. Admittedly not as much seems to be happening at the moment. Everything seems to be relaxing a bit for the next growing season. My seedlings got a little feed of seasol and have sprung new leaves so they seem a bit happier. I wonder though if they were a little stressed and perhaps now wont be so plentiful - live and learn I guess. Our dragon fruit has set of a single flower again this year, so hopefully it will soon follow up with a beautiful fruit. I do wish I could grow more fruit here. we certainly go through it, though the main fruit consumption does not seem to grow so well in this area. I sometimes feel we are in the worst spot for fruit growing being not quite hot enough for tropical fruit and not quite cold enough for the well cold kinda fruits. I have a nice bunch of paw paw's coming on, but the tree doesn't seem to get enough sun during the fruit ripening stage so takes forever and then the possums get to them before me anyway! In saying all of this though, I am going to start adding a fruit tree collection just to see if I can grow them. They will all live in pots so that I can move them around, but I guess they wont get that big - which is OK as I dont really have the room anyway.

Making Laundry liquid.

My favourite way to roast a chicken.

Tortillas for dinner tonight.

Local Honey we buy, made/collected at a High School near Hubby's work.

Hubby's latest obsession - He will guest post soon too, so keep your eye out.


Puzzles with my boy.
Mostly I have been spending my days blissfully getting around my home, taking the kids off to school and other lessons as needed. The comfort of my own place appeals to me so much, that I often feel I could just stay home and keep myself happily occupied for days and days. I used to feel that I had to be out socialising but the stress of keeping that up just wore me out and now I quite contentedly just do what I want when I want and we all seem so much happier for it. The kidlets have developed a lot more independence and desire to find things to do for themselves and if they make a mess or break something its not so bad, its our place after all. Time to go and bake some school muffins, talk soon. x

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Simply trendy?

I've been wondering a bit lately if I'm able to live this simple life and still be a little bit trendy. Or is it not possible to have the best of both worlds....I've never been a trend setter or one to follow the latest fashions but I do still have a certain amount of self pride and care about how I look which in turn affects how I feel. I look back to my younger teenage days and know that then I had absolutely no dress sense what so ever and it seems now I still struggle to get past my stingey spending habits. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find a bargain. But I wonder about the value of buying a really nice piece over several cheap but not as nice pieces. I've read a few bits and bobs about minimalist wardrobes and think I should probably do something more along these lines, but I just cant will myself to throw out what I already have, which to be honest is perfectly fine - so long as you dont want to be trendy.....So what to do.

This impressive spider web spans a good couple of meters high and over 1 1/2 wide.

Sweet potato shoots about ready to be planted.

Excess cherry tomatoes about to become relish.

My Gauva "Strawberry" finally shoots after about 2 months!

Around here its been quite hot outside and welcoming for the pests, so the garden looks a little less vibrant than usual while inside I'm still trying to adjust to the new routines of school - everyday! and which days suit best to do what. My oven was finally fixed yesterday so I really need to squeeze a baking fix in and I have a big zucchini waiting in the fridge to use so I am going to whip up some flourless zucchini brownies for afternoon tea this arvo. Then I also need to tick one of my monthly cleaning jobs off my list and I cant choose between cleaning the dishwasher or sorting the linen cupboard. So exciting I know!

Flourless zucchini brownie ingredients about to mixed up into yumminess.

Not quite LCM bars.
These pests are eating everything, grrrr.
Eggplant abundance, even though those ladybug pests are having a feast.

Maisie and Lottie getting bigger and bigger.

Lemon tree finally getting shoots back after the howling southerly burnt them all off.

And same for the lime tree. I put up this shade cloth to protect them. Seems to work so far.
The seedlings that dont seem to be doing much growing....
My little seedlings are still just that, teeny tiny seedlings. They seem to be taking forever to get big enough to plant out. I'm beginning to wonder if something is wrong with them. They just dont seem to be getting any bigger. And with all this rain and warm weather I thought they would be jumping out of their pots by now! Time to do a little research on this I think. Over the next day or so I am going to pull the rest of my tomato bushes out as the fruit fly seem to be getting the better of me. I was certainly happy with their effort in supply this year and have to say I think I mastered the tomato finally. I will put some new seeds in for the cooler weather too as I'm pretty sure tomatoes grow pretty well all year round here. We are still managing to get a good majority of vegies for our daily consumption from the garden which remains ever so pleasing and I look forward to all the cooler weather vegies that a readily available in the shops but not at home as they are clearly not seasonal!

Around the garden.

My big baby is doing great at big school too by the way. She is very tired everyday but still manages to fight the bedtime deal. Thankfully we have our glorious beach over the road to freshen and liven up for our evenings together as a family. I look forward to reading the  new book she brings home each day from school. Then finishing up listening to hubby tell his 'wind blows' make up story to the wee ones tucked up in bed while I nurse the baby off to sleep. That's all for now, talk soon xx

Friday, 5 February 2016

Big School

Big milestones for our family this week. My oldest baby started Kindergarten and my middle boy started preschool. Lots of adjusting and learning for all of us. Lots of new things to try, research, practice. We are all a tad excited..... and nowe are also all tired. Trying to figure out our new routines and what we all need to do to make it work - for everyone. Now that the weekend is upon us, we can relax a little. The kidlets have gone of to bed easier than ever before and I was just about to surf the web a bit for some school lunch ideas when I realised it has been a while since I blogged. After being on holidays with the wee ones for 6 weeks, it was very easy to get lax about everything. Having not blogged for a bit, it seemed quite easy to keep procrastinating. No longer shall I! Back to my routine for my own sake too.

 A little bounty from my patch.

Maisie and Lottie getting more feathers.

Pumpkins coming along - about 5 out there now.

A few things we have made lately - Tomato/Chili relish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Sambal Oelek, Hummus.
The garden is going through a bit of a change of life, with some older stuff reaching the end of its days and being replaced by fresh new seedlings. I never grow tired of seeing all the amazing plants that have grown from a tiny seed to be able to become food on our plates that nourish us and in turn give us life. Some times I have so much goodness I dont quite know what to do with it all and I cant give enough of it away. Especially when it seems the like minded people that I offer it too already have their own bounty to deal with! Very comforting to know there are others out there that share this love of a natural and simple life. I am learning to make and thus include new foods in our diet. It is quite pleasing to hear hubby say 'keep bringing it' because it really is so good!

I love Hydrangeas.

My boys favouite teddy in the world, goes everywhere with him.

Tumeric Tea in the making.

Just one of my beautiful ginger plants.
I often wish I had more time - or maybe just the inclination to be crafty. I see so many amazing little projects and I think 'Yeah, I could do that', but somehow it rarely eventuates. I try to convince myself that its because I have the 3 wee ones and they along with my garden and kitchen habits take up all my time. Can I have it all or do I have to choose between them - first world problems!! I also seem to have a small problem with starting these crafty ideas or collecting the items I need for them and thats as far as it goes. I need to create (another 'something' that prob wont happen...) a place to keep my treasures for a time when there is time. Until then I guess I will just keep being inspired but not quite motivated.

1/24 rock melons we enjoyed of late.

Baby Papaya's.

My sweet baby seedlings who get more love and attention than most other things (besides the kidlets of course).
So for the next week I reckon I'll be filling my time creating new (and hopefully brain enhancing) snacks and lunches for my school babies, planting out a heap more new seedlings and catching up on all the other blogs I like to follow. I have also tried to link into twitter if you are a user.You can follow me here or search for me - @catjd22 and I'm also on Facebook here or search for me - simplybythebeach. Have a great weekend everyone and I'll be back soon xx


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