Saturday, 3 December 2016

Whipped Herby Ricotta Dip

Hello Dear Reader,

I love ricotta, anyway it comes, savoury or sweet, it is such a versatile cheese and such a simple one to make. It is like a creamy blank canvas that is delicious and nutritious. I have been making ricotta for years and then using the whey it produces in pancakes and also in the garden, when I have too much. I usually make a baked ricotta but this time I wanted more of a dip or spread for crackers. Enter this fabulous little recipe, who knew you could whip ricotta? I didn't, until now.

Ingredients for Whipped Herby Ricotta Dip, clockwise from bottom right-
a good handful of mint and parsley, chopped finely, 1 to 2 garlic gloves, grated on a microplane, zest of one lemon, 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 450 grams of ricotta, salt and pepper to taste
Add the ricotta to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for 1 to 2 minutes 
Until it is super smooth

Add all other ingredients, using just one tablespoon of lemon juice at this stage
And mix well, check for seasoning, if it requires anymore lemon juice, add the extra tablespoon now and mix again

Delicious and light, perfect with brown rice crackers and veggie sticks (carrot, celery and red capsicum)

So, tell me, what is you favourite way to serve ricotta?

Friday, 2 December 2016

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

It was lovely to get away camping for a week, but equally lovely coming home. We have had a busy week, just getting back into the groove of work and housework. As I have mentioned before, I love our camping trips and think it is the most frugal of all holidays. There is no temptation to spend extra money while away because there simply isn't any place to buy anything. Of course there is the little shop at the camping grounds, but like all places that have a captive audience, they charge like a wounded bull, for any basics you may have forgotten. We have had our camping gear for many years and as we look after it, it should see us out.

So this is this weeks 5 frugal things-

1. Cleaned and packed everything away carefully, as we packed up our camp on Saturday. That means when we get home, all we need to do is put away the camping gear away in its spot in the garage, ready for next time. There were a few items that needed some maintenance as we were packing up, such as spraying all the zips of the tent and bed bag so that the zips wouldn't seize. I think prevention is always better than cure and maintaining items and being frugal go hand in hand.

2. Rode my bike to work each day, I am back riding after an 8 week break due to Magpie Season. Those little birds just freak me out so much, it isn't worth riding, as even if I don't get attacked, I am constantly searching for a black and white missile swooping from above. I bought this bike second hand, 2 years ago, from a lady in Brisbane who worked at the Royal Brisbane Womens Hospital. At one stage we had a "Buy and Sell" page on our work Intranet, it was awesome and over the years I had used it heaps of times. Unfortunately it was taken down due to cost cutting measures. Any way this retro style bike is in fabulous condition and I just love it so much. I call the colour "Biscuit" which, I think,  is entirely appropriate, for me. 

3. Kept and froze the whey from making home made Ricotta. I used the first batch of Ricotta just plain, as it was, as an accompaniment for our BBQ's while away camping and the second batch I made a Whipped Herby Ricotta Dip (recipe coming soon) So from making this ricotta I ended up with 6 bags of whey. I froze the whey in recipe quantity lots, which is about 350 grams for both 
light and fluffy pancakes and whey crepes (recipe coming soon). No waste, Sweet!

4. Did a thorough check of the fridge and pantry to see what needed using up before writing a menu and shopping list, on Tuesday afternoon. No good buying more of anything we already have plenty of. I am in the mindset that less is more, I believe it prevents food waste of any sort. Food is just too expensive to waste anything. The photo below was taken this morning, I have all the food that needs using up, front and centre, if it's not hiding there is a better chance of it being eaten. 

5. Closed the blinds early and got the fans going to blow around cooler air to keep the house cool. Our Summer has just started and it heats up by about 10 am. I will do anything to prevent putting the air conditioning on. It really chews through the power. So far this week we have had two afternoon storms. The weather pattern is getting back to the how it was when I was growing up. A stinking hot day followed by powerful storms with lots of rain, late in the afternoon. I don't want the damaging part of the storms, just the rain, thank you very much.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Easy Banana Bread

Hello Dear Reader,

We went away camping for a week recently and left our Son in charge, at home. He did a great job at looking after the dogs (my Mother in laws, next door) our cat and the tropical fish tank, as well as working full time, stunt training and checking in on my Mother in law (in hospital while we were away) Any way, amongst all that busy life, four bananas got forgotten in the fruit bowl, never mind this super easy Banana Bread fixed them right up.

Ingredients for Easy Banana Bread, clockwise from top right-
1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 4 very ripe bananas, 1 egg, 75 grams of melted butter, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cups SR flour
In a large bowl, mash the bananas and mix in the melted butter
Add the sugar, egg and vanilla essence
Mix well
Lastly add the SR flour
And again mix well, but don't over mix
Pour cake batter into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake in a preheated 180 C oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Every oven is different so start checking at the 35 minute mark
Let cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Beautiful on its own or spread with butter. Also lovely toasted with lashings of butter. Everything is better with butter!

Do you have a tried and true Banana Bread recipe? Want to share it?

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

What we spent and ate this fortnight

Hello Dear Reader,

This is a bigger post than usual, as it spans two weeks, one week of that was away camping at Noosa North Shore. We always seem to have the same menu when camping, easy food that is also delicious. I make a batch of my rissole mix to take up with us, that will feed us for two nights, we usually have two meals of sausages, if we catch a bream or two they go into a very easy Thai Coconut Sauce and I serve it with steamed rice and lastly we have a can of Baked Beans with Steamed potatoes and sour cream. Although the Baked Bean meal didn't happen this time as I was able to bring up two serves of frozen leftover Beef Curry and I steamed some rice to have with it. We had this on the first night for a quick and easy meal after setting up camp that day. I also make up a big container of dry-slaw and just add mayo one the night we are having it. My dry-slaw is finely sliced red cabbage, carrot, celery and spring onion, totally easy and delicious.

Also you may notice I haven't included a weekly grocery photo, I have been having issues with my phone and I accidentally deleted the photo before it was downloaded.

 What we spent
ALDI-$65.40 + extra shopping on Sunday $116.91(top up, after camping, to see us through until Wednesday, which is our normal grocery shopping day)

Coles-$71.55 + extra shopping on Sunday $13.62

Total for the Fortnight-$267.48

What we ate
First week, Wednesday-Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Frittata with steamed Broccolini
Thursday-Chickpea and Chorizo Pot Pies with Green Beans, Tomatoes and Bacon
Friday and Saturday-Pan Fried Fish with My Thai Sauce, Steamed Basmati Rice and Asian Greens

First camping night, Sunday-Leftover Beef Massaman Curry, steamed rice and chutney

Monday and Wednesday-Beef Rissoles with Coleslaw and Steamed Potato and home made Ricotta

Tuesday and Friday-Sausages with Coleslaw, Steamed Potato and home made Ricotta

Thursday-Bream in a Thai Coconut sauce and steamed rice, I also added some of the dry-slaw mix to this dish, it is always so delicious, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo, sorry.

Saturday (home from camping)-I pushed the easy button and bought a BBQ chicken, our son had bought some ready made potato salad and coleslaw during the week we were away, so we used some of these to have with the chicken. It was a lovely easy dinner, I was totally exhausted after packing up the camp, getting home and catching up with everything at home

Second Week, Sunday-Curried Mince, steamed rice, papadums, chutney and yoghurt

Monday-Brined Pork Chops with big tossed salad

Tuesday-Chicken and Pesto Pasta with steamed asparagus

So, that was the eats in our home, what was on your family table this week?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

My Plastic Replacement for November

Hello Dear Reader,

I am going to count this plastic replacement for this month even though we have had these items for about 2 years. We used them while we were away camping this past week at Noosa North Shore. They are an alternative to plastic plates, bowls and cups. I found them at Anaconda and I remember them being on a very good special at the time.

The brand is Eco-Soul Life and are designed to be robust, lightweight as well as bio-degradable. EcoSoulLife products are a range of sustainable tableware that tries to reduce our over-reliance on plastic products. They are made from natural materials and without the toxic by-products of traditional camping plates or single use plastic plates. Because they are made from natural materials they will decompose when buried or composted.

My quest to reduce or remove single use plastics in my life continues and after seeing all the plastic debris washed up on my beloved beach, it has given me more inspiration to keep it up.

I started this quest when I read about Plastic Free July, from "The Rogue Ginger" Blog and also on "Our Permaculture Life" blog. Food for thought.

Did you know that takeaway coffee cups are not recyclable? Just another scourge that is littering the world, next time you are out for coffee, bring your own mug and start a revolution. 

Monday, 28 November 2016

What our camping days looks like

Hello Dear Reader,

This is what a typical day looks like when we are away camping at Noosa North Shore Beach Camp. We both love beach fishing and target Whiting as it is possibly the best eating fish in the sea, so really the whole day is planned around tide and location. Lovely Hubby and I have collected some great camping gear over the years and have invested in quality items that are made to last, I don't think there is another thing we need for camping and will happily go camping when we can, for the rest of my days or for as long as our bodies are able. Camping is fun but hard work.

Our day starts off very early as there is so much bird life and as soon as they start their early morning squawking/serenades, I am awake. I get changed and I amble over to the amenities block using this time to also wash my face and tame my hair. Once back at camp we pop the kettle on and make breakfast. We always have Weetbix and honey for breakfast, when camping, as it is easy to carry, are filling and nutritious. This time we had them topped with magnificent mangoes that are in season now. This good brekky keeps us going until morning tea time.

After brekky, we make lunch and fill a thermos for tea while on the beach, clean up the kitchen, make the bed, teeth are cleaned, sunscreen is applied to our faces, legs and feet and our 50+ sun protection gear is put on. We both have long sleeved tops and legionnaire type hats that we wear while on the beach. I just love this 50 + sun protection gear so much, they are incredible light weight and breathable and you never need to worry about getting burnt by the sun. We then pile into the truck and head to the beach. The beach track is only a little way from the camp ground so we are on the beach by 7 most mornings. And so begins a day on the beach looking for signs of fish life, the phrases "melon holes" and "gutters"are mentioned throughout the day as well as "wind direction" and "tide times". These all have a bearing on how stealthy you have to be to catch a fish.

 Lovely Hubby has the patience of a saint, I don't, however, and if the fish aren't biting, I go off for a wander on the beach. I walk the high and low tide marks looking for shells and this last time saw me collecting plastic bottles and debris as well as glass bottles. Every time we drove up the beach looking for a better fishing spot, I would do the same, see if the fish are active, if not I was off for a walk. I must do heaps of miles, walking on the beach, but I just love it. Sometimes I will slosh around in the crashing waves and other time I will walk the high and dry, powdery white sand. 

My stomach always lets me know when it is morning tea and lunch time. Morning tea is just a Nut Bar and a cup of tea and lunch is a wrap with tuna and coleslaw and sometimes leftovers from the night before. We carry a good esky in the truck and use a frozen water bottle in it to keep things super cool. We bring 2 water bottles with us so while one is being re-frozen in the freezer section of our camp fridge the other frozen one is keeping things cool in the esky.

We head back to camp at about 3 or 4 in the afternoon, of course depending on whether the fish are biting or not. We then unpack the truck, take out the lunch containers and head for the showers. I tell you, there isn't a shower like it in the world. Even though it is timed, 2 minute shower and it uses bore water, you end up feeling like you have been to the best beauty spa. Every part of your body feels refreshed and clean, I just love it. 

Back at camp I start on an early dinner, I put on either rice or potatoes to cook and make up the coleslaw. I make a dry-slaw at home and put into a sealed container. I then just take out what is needed for that night and mix through some mayonnaise and Voila, the best tasting, fresh coleslaw. I find making and taking this dry-slaw mix so convenient and versatile. Great with BBQ dinners and on wraps for lunches as well as going in my Thai fish curry (without the mayo of course) I just finely chop 1/4 to 1/2 a red cabbage, 1 to 2 carrots, 4 celery sticks and 2 spring onions. Mix it all together and seal it in a container. It stays perfectly fresh for the whole week. 

After dinner we clean up the kitchen and read for while before heading for bed by 7.30. It is just bliss.   Simple living at its best. No shops, no maddening crowd, no TV, just spending a thoroughly lovely day with the man I love, at the place I love the most in the whole wide world. 

So, over to you, any avid campers out there? Where do you love to go?