Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Rosemary and Lemon Salt PLUS a Sunday Lamb Roast cooked in a Clay Pot

Hello Dear Reader,

Flavouring salt, is such a simple idea, that adds an amazing boost of flavour, to all sorts of food, I know there are so many varieties of flavoured salt out there, but this combo is my favourite. I use Himalayan salt, as I love that there are so many beneficial minerals along for the ride, but you could really use any salt that you like.

Ingredients for Rosemary and Lemon Salt
Slice the ends off the lemon and with a very sharp paring knife, carefully slice off the rind, avoiding the white pith
1/3 cup good quality salt, picked leaves from 2 sprigs of Rosemary and the rind of 1 lemon
Put all ingredients into the Thermomix bowl
Blitz for 10 seconds on speed 7, open the lid and give everything a good mix around
Then blitz again for 10 seconds on speed 10
The end result is fine, herby, lemony salt. At this point, I put the bowl of flavoured salt out into the hot sun to dry off, alternatively you can put the bowl in a very low oven, for 30 minutes or until dry and faded in colour
Rosemary and Lemon Salt ready to use
I always have Rosemary growing in our little veggie garden, it is such a hardy herb that just keeps soldiering on and I love to use Rosemary with Lamb and Potatoes, hello Sunday Lamb Roast, I'm looking at you. We ask our lovely butcher to de-boned and roll the leg of lamb, it just makes for easier carving. I simply take the rolled leg of lamb out of the mesh sleeve, pat it dry and rub the amazing flavoured salt over both sides of the meat re-roll it back into shape and pop the mesh sleeve back on. I then roast the leg of lamb in my clay pot. Clay pot cooking has been around for centuries and this way of cooking produces a most succulent and tender roast, it is just a wonderful way of  roasting meats.
Soak the clay pot for 2 hours prior to cooking
Take the pot out of the water, but don't dry it. Put in 1 onion, cut in half and 3 whole garlic cloves
Open up the de-boned leg of lamb and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of Rosemary and Lemon Salt
Flip the leg of lamb over and do the same to the outside
Re-roll the leg and put it back into the mesh bag or tie it with kitchen string. Place leg of lamb in clay pot and place the lid in position

Put the clay pot in a cold oven and then preheat oven to 190 C, start timing lamb from when the oven is up to temperature. I like my lamb well done so that means a cooking time of 30 to 35 minutes per KG.
Perfectly Roasted and Succulent Lamb. I then make the best "gravy" from the juices off the roast lamb. 

When using a clay pot to roast meat you can't make the gravy in the traditional way, because you simply can't put the clay pot on the stove top and also because there isn't any "burnished bits" on the bottom of the pot. The clay pot steams more than roasts so you don't get those golden bits of goodness stuck to the pan. What I do, is strain every last bit of glorious stock into a jug that separates the stock from the oil. After pouring off the stock, I top the stock up, if needed, to make 2 cups in total. I then make a roux of 40 grams butter and 40 grams plain flour, pour in stock/water and whisk on medium heat until thick. It makes a more "blonde" gravy, but, oh my, it is totally divine.  

A family favourite, Roast Lamb with all the trimmings

So, tell me, how do you cook a roast? Any special seasonings that really add fantastic flavour?

Monday, 24 October 2016

Balsamic and basil salad dressing

Hello Dear Reader,

If there was an award for the most unattractive but best tasting salad dressing, this one would win, hands down, every time. You see, with the combination of dark balsamic vinegar and dark green from the basil and spring onion, this salad dressing turns a most unattractive shade of brown. Never mind, I think the best solution for this would be to use dark coloured salad leaves, then you wouldn't see the colour of the dressing! I think it is still the most amazing tasting salad dressing no matter how it looks.

Ingredients for Balsamic and Basil salad dressing, clockwise from top right-
2 tablespoon white sugar, 1/3 cup oil (I use rice bran oil for everything) 1 spring onion, roughly cut into small batons, 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane, juice of half a lime, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a good handful of basil leaves, washed and dried, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar
Add all ingredients into the bowl of the Thermomix and blitz for 10 seconds on speed 8, scrape down sides and then blitz again for 5 seconds on speed 6
Pour into a glass jar and seal well,  the vinegar and sugar preserves it and I estimate there is enough of this lovely dressing for 8 to 10 salads.  The contents will separate a bit so before using the dressing, always give it a good shake
As I said, not that attractive, but absolutely delicious

So, tell me, what is your go to salad dressing?

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Date, Chia, Nut and Sesame, Bliss Balls

Hello Dear Reader,

Last weekend, I thought I would make up something healthy and delicious for morning teas for the coming week. I wanted something really quick and easy, with not too many ingredients. Enter this fantastic little recipe. I made mine in the Thermomix, but any food processor would be up to the challenge. I love the idea of "Bliss Balls" as you can just about use any ingredient combination you like, (although, not kale and sardine, yuk) roll them in something yummy (or leave them nude) and voila, the perfect mouthful.

Ingredients for Date, Chia and Sesame Bliss Balls, clockwise from top right-
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted, 3 tablespoon chia seeds, 65 grams of macadamias

 and 80 grams cashews, lightly roasted, 200 grams dates, 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
In the TM bowl add the dates, chia seeds and honey, blitz on speed 7 for 10 seconds
Scrape down sides and blitz again on speed 7 for 10 seconds, this forms the "glue" that sticks everything together
Then add the roasted nuts and blitz again on speed 7 for 10 seconds, scrap down. I like a fine texture in my Bliss Balls so I blitzed again on speed 7 for 10 seconds. You judge for yourself what texture you like
After being blitzed a second and final time
Toasted sesame seeds on the left and date, chia and nut mixture on the right, ready for rolling
Roll heaped teaspoon full of date, chia and nut mixture to form a ball and then roll in toasted sesame seeds
Quick, health and delicious

So, tell me, what do like to have for morning tea as a little treat?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

This months plastic replacement

Hello Dear Reader,

As some of you might know, I have started a quest, albeit slow, to reduce or remove the use of single-use plastic in my life. Each July is Plastic-free July and I originally read about it on The Rogue Ginger blog. Erin is very inspiring in how she lives her life and it has really made an impact on how I feel about single use plastics.

I have two plastic replacements this month, both to do with health and beauty needs. I am a minimalist as far as beauty goes and the less products I have to use, the better. Let me say, that these following products work for me, they may not be for everyone, as all our needs are not the same. Just saying, thats all.

The first plastic replacement is hair gel. I have very short hair and have sported something similar to this style, since I was 13 years old, I have had a go at growing my hair out into a different style a couple of times over the years, which ended up looking and feeling terrible. As it grows out, a crazy curl takes over sending the hair in different directions, it is also very thick and the boofy look just doesn't do anything for my small face.

I just love my short, no fuss, hair and have always used a hair gel to style it, since trying to use less plastic I have been using a smidge of coconut oil to smooth and keep it in check. I now don't use a conditioner as I find the coconut oil is just beautiful at nourishing my hair, keeping it really soft and smooth. So, no more plastic bottles of hair gel or hair conditioner. Sweet! Thats two less plastic bottles that I am bringing into my life on a regular basis. Tiny steps, I know, but I feel better for having a go at using less plastic.

Below is the photo of the huge 5 litre plastic bottle of coconut oil that my late Father in law bought, I can't remember what he bought it for but it was barely used, when I started using it. It is now just about used up and have poured the remaining coconut oil into glass jars. The plastic container was put into the recycle bin for recycling. In future I will be buying the coconut oil in glass jars.

The second plastic replacement, for this month, is a homemade, all natural, deodorant, that is based on Bentonite clay. Now a deodorant that is based on clay just doesn't sound right, does it? But stay with me. Over the last 2 months I have been trying a variety of natural homemade deodorants and this one is just fantastic. It is easy to make, easy to apply and, for me, lasts all day. I used orange essential oil to fragrance the deodorant as I didn't have any "pretty" perfumed, essential oils, you can easily omit the essential oil and just leave it plain. It works as an anti-perspirant, not just as a deodorant, covering up odours. 
Ingredients for homemade natural deodorant-from left
2 tablespoons Bentonite clay, 4 tablespoon Bicarb of Soda, 6 tablespoons Coconut oil (warmed in the sun so it turns to liquid) 4 tablespoons Tapioca flour
In a glass lidded jar or other suitable container, add all the dry ingredients
Then add the coconut oil
Then add 10 drops of essential oil, if using
Give it a really good stir with a non metallic spoon, until it is well incorporated

Once the coconut oil has cooled it will solidify again and the deodorant will turn into a solid cream, during hot and humid weather you may need to pop the jar of deodorant into the fridge before applying it. To apply it, just scoop out a very small amount with a plastic spoon and rub into your underarm area. It does feel a little gritty initially, but that settles completely, as it dries. I have had no problems with it coming off on clothing and it has been a really efficient product. I love it as it is natural, that means no more harmful stuff going near my Lymph nodes, thank you very much. 

So, tell me, what natural health and beauty products do you swear by, that just happen to be plastic free?

Friday, 21 October 2016

This weeks 5 frugal things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

Welcome to the most loved day of the week, Friday, or as Dave Hughes the comedian calls it, Friyay! For most people it means the weekend is almost here, and I, like everyone else, are making big plans to make the most of time away from work. This weekend I want to remove the old, spent potting mix from our veggie pod, put new potting mix in and replant it with some vegetable seedlings as well re-planting some existing herbs. I have a really healthy Parsley plant and numerous Perennial Coriander plants that have gone a bit nuts. I will pot on some of the smaller ones to give away, they are very hardy and really prolific. I do invest in the best potting mix I can afford as it makes a huge difference to the quality and quantity of the plants you can grow, so I see this as money well spent. The old potting mix will not be wasted, I will spread it on the front lawn to top dress it. This is the only bit of lawn we have, so it is easy to take care of.

So, this weeks 5 frugal things on a Friday are-

1. Made a big pot of pumpkin soup using the last of the homemade chicken stock. This gorgeous soup did us for two meals, providing 11 very generous servings. I served some Parmesan Sourdough toast with the soup on both nights

2. Made a batch of homemade deodorant ("recipe" coming soon) I just love it, it is made from completely natural ingredients, works exceptionally well and cost very little to make (and is plastic free)

3. Made another version (number 3 to be exact) of a homemade shower cleaner, I think I am on a winner here. My last one was very good at cleaning both the glass and the tiles, however had one downfall and that was that it went hard after the first use, you could still use it by watering it down a little and giving it a good shake but it was still a fail in my eyes. This one is very similar with one ingredients taken out. I will post the "recipe" soon

4. Walked my Mother in laws dogs every evening. I think of this, as a frugal pursuit, as it costs nothing and the exercise and fresh air does me and the dogs the world of good. On this evening I was rewarded with the most amazing sunset. Look at those colours!

5. Packed my lunch everyday. I know this is a regular occurrence here on the "5 frugal things on a Friday" post but it is something that really resonates with me and is pivotal to my frugal life. I see packing a lunch for yourself as the perfect starting point for being more mindful of how you spend money. Spending a little money each day, on a bought lunch, does amount up at the end of the week, month, year ect. If you want to start spending less money, start packing a lunch. 

So, tell me, what have you been up to on the frugal front?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Another finished bag

Hello Dear Reader,

A little while ago, I made a little baby quilt for a lovely lady at work. She already knew she was having a little girl, hence the pretty colours. It was a joy to make and I find that with each quilt I make I am getting better and neater with the sewing, it is so totally addictive, this sewing business.

I use the curved quilting pins to sandwich the layers together for quilting.  Apparently there is a spray you can use, to stick the layers together, I don't know if it is available in Australia?

There was just enough fabric and bamboo batting to make a bag for the lovely Mummy, I love these bags, so simple to make and put together and they are really quite a sturdy bag. The lining is made of  patchwork, 5 inch squares, with the colours placed randomly, the straps have batting in them as well so they feel soft but are strong at the same time. I know you really can't see it but the bottom of the bag, on the outside, is a strip of the same triangles I used on the quilt, they just worked out perfectly. 

I wrapped the bag and quilt in some beautiful paper and ribbon that I had in my wrapping paper stash and it looks just beautiful. There is another lady at work who lives close to the new mummy so I have asked her to deliver it for me

So, tell me, any sewers or quilters reading, what are you sewing at the moment?