Friday, 26 May 2017

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

As promised last week, I have tried to take photos of frugal stuff I do, that don't include food, well I failed, as food did make an appearance, sorry, I just can't help it! I guess food is a really important part of our lives and it can also be the most expensive outlay it we aren't careful. I try and keep the cost down by only buying what we need for that week, using absolutely everything up so there is no waste, eating less meat, substituting ingredients if I happen not to have what the recipe calls for, and cooking from scratch most nights. I know this is nothing new but it works for us.

1. Dried and saved the seeds from some Rosella's I bought from the markets recently. I use the petals of the Rosella to make the most divine tea. I will plant the seeds out when the time is right

2. I noticed that some garlic cloves has started to sprout so I planted them in a pot, using this method, we'll see how this little experiment goes

3. Made another batch of laundry liquid using this "recipe" I find it excellent, easy to make and very economical

4. Made a cake to take to work for our monthly morning tea, I made a Raspberry and Yoghurt cake using this recipe as it is easy to make, I had all the ingredients in the house already and it tastes just divine. I am yet to take a photo of it before it is cut, I just keep forgetting. I served it with whipped cream with lime zest, everyone loved it. 

5. Line dried all the washing, we have had no rain, great for the washing, sad for the garden

So, that was my frugal week, how did you go on the frugal front?

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Jamie's Chilli Con Carne

Hello Dear Reader,

I mentioned a while ago, I started Jamie Oliver's, 6 week "Ministry of Food" cooking course, it was a really great course aimed at the beginner cook with knife skills, food hygiene, balanced nutrition and wonderful, everyday recipes taught. I missed the last day of the course due to family issues, but they cooked a whole chicken roast, the length of time you have, is one and a half hours, so they would have been going like the clappers to cook a roast in that time, but no doubt it was done and it would have been nice to finish the course. Never mind, I thoroughly enjoyed the course and todays recipe is probably my favourite. Good old Chilli Con Carne.

I have halved the original recipe, using only 250 grams of beef mince, so it is very economical, filling and loaded with beans and veggies, oh and it is totally delicious! This half quality easily feeds three very hungry adults and probably even enough for a second helping! I cook and freeze ahead chickpeas and portion them into 250 grams lots, this quantity equates to a drained 400 gram can of chickpeas. 

Ingredients for Jamies Chilli Con Carne, clockwise from top right-
1 onion, 1 red capsicum, 1 clove garlic, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery (I used 1 plus 1 small piece), coriander,  250 grams of beef mince, 1/2 a teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground chilli and ground cinnamon, 1/2 a can each of kidney beans and chickpeas (I froze the remainder together for the next time I make this) 1 tin of diced tomatoes and not quite a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

In a large, non stick, heavy based frypan or saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, celery and capsicum in a small amount of oil, then add the cumin, chilli powder and cinnamon along with salt and pepper to taste

Add the drained kidney beans and chickpeas to the frypan and move everything to one side, add the mince, browning and breaking up the mince as you go

Once the mince is cooked through, mix sautéed veggies through and add the tin of tomatoes, half refill empty can with water, swish and add water to mixture in frypan, mix well and bring to the boil
Then turn heat down to low and let blip away for about an hour. Just before serving add the finely chopped coriander

Meanwhile make a guacamole to go with the Chilli-
Chop some tomatoes, chilli and coriander, add to a bowl, now mix in avocado and then squeeze over lime juice.

Mix well and refrigerate until needed

Once the Chilli has reduced and has thickened it is ready to serve. Serve with steamed rice, natural yoghurt and guacamole. YUM!

I have a rice cooker and it gets used at least twice a week, I love it because it is set and forget. I haven't tried Jamie's method of cooking rice as yet but when they made it to go with the Chilli at the course, the rice was super light and fluffy. Jamie's method is-

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil
Rinse rice in a colander under running water for about a minute or until water run clear
Add your rice to the boiling water and wait for the rice to start dancing around, from this point, boil for 5 minutes
Drain in a colander
Pour about 2.5 cms of water into the pan again and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer
Place the colander of rice on top of the pan of simmering water and let the rice steam over it for 8 to 10 minutes
Remove from heat and serve immediately
The rice will be super light and fluffy

This is a delicious, easy and very economical meal, of course you can make up the whole quantity if you have more mouths to feed, just double the quantities above. I am sure there are millions of different recipes for Chilli, what do you put in yours?

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Fish and Broccoli Laksa

Hello Dear Reader,

I have always been fortunate to have access to freshly caught fish, my Dad was a wonderful fisherman, fishing at Double Island Point, Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay for Taylor, Bream, Flathead and Whiting. Then I met and married lovely hubby who loves fishing and most times, comes home with a good catch of beautiful fresh fish. He will target certain fish that are plentiful and good to eat, reef fish like Parrot, Pearl Perch, Snapper and Pelagic fish like Yellow Tail King, Amber Jack and Yellow Fin Tuna. He is always mindful of bag limits and legal fish size. Of course Whiting is our favourite to catch and eat and it is easily caught off the beach or close off shore. We eat more whiting that any other fish and we always have it in a tempura batter.

With the stronger flavoured fish we usual make a flavoursome curry or fish cakes but when I read this recipe I thought it would be perfect for the Yellow Tail King we had in the freezer. Yellow Tail King has beautiful firm flesh,  is not too strong in flavour and lends itself beautifully to this coconut-y noodle-y Laksa.

Ingredients for Fish and Broccoli Lasksa, clockwise from top left-
Jar of Laksa paste, can of coconut milk, 2 cakes of instant noodles, 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, packet of bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts, one head of broccoli, cut into smallish pieces, 1/4 cup coriander, chopped, 500 grams of firm-fleshed fish cut into 2 cm cubes and 6 cups of water

Combine Laksa paste, coconut milk, fish sauce and water in a large saucepan, cover and bring to the boil

Add Broccoli, cover and cook over lowish heat for 3 minutes or until broccoli is just tender

Add fish cubes and cook for a further 2 minutes or until cooked through, when ready to serve, add bean sprouts or snow pea sprouts

Meanwhile cook noodles according to instructions on packet. Divide between serving bowls

And ladle soup over noodles and sprinkle with chopped coriander

I know we are incredibly lucky to have access to fresh fish and I never take that for granted. This laksa is simple to make and a great way to cook this really beautiful flavoured fish. 

Is fish abundant where you live? 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Beach Patrol

Hello Dear Reader,

The last time we went camping to Noosa North Shore we discovered a wonderful organised beach clean up going on, it was organised by the Sunshine Coast Surfrider Foundation. In the past when we have been picking up rubbish from our favourite beach we have felt like we were up against a big rubbish producing machine and felt completely alone and frustrated that our little effort couldn't possibly make a difference. It was such a wonderful sight to see other people that are passionate about cleaning up our beaches too.

The Sunshine Coast Surfrider Foundation have been organising and sponsoring this six monthly event for ten years and it is well organised and publicised, with free camping for volunteers that register and pick up rubbish, a big BBQ on the last day and prizes for the most rubbish collected, the weirdest item found and the most micro plastics collected. It is a real family event, encouraging everyone be get involved. On average they pick up two tonnes of rubbish every 6 months, isn't that figure staggering!

I have also recently heard about this organisation, Take 3 for the Sea, which encourages everyone that steps foot on a beach to take three pieces of rubbish and bin them, when they visit a beach. I really believe that if everyone did that, our beaches and oceans would be cleaner. Well, that and not littering to begin with, would make an even bigger impact.

We all know our oceans are sick and full of toxic plastic and man made rubbish of all sizes and shapes and all this rubbish ends up on our beaches and visa versa. Below is just a small example of what we collected over a week at Noosa North Shore, once my eyes had been alerted to the plague of plastic on this beach I love, I just can't walk or drive past any, without stopping to pick it up. The two most common items I find on the beach, that drive me nuts, are plastic shopping bags and plastic water bottles and ironically enough those are the two items that are really easy to substitute for a reusable bag or bottle, if everyone used reusable versions of just those two things, our beaches would be so much better of!

When I was talking to one of the organisers, he mentioned that all the plastic rubbish is collected by a company called "Newtech Poly" in Newcastle, they have a machine that will take plastic that is up to 60% contaminated with sand and beach debris and turn it into functional items like benches. Unfortunately I have been unable to find any information about this company so I can't provide a link, hopefully they exist!

The following are some links about the movement "Ban the Bag" and some wonderful alternatives to plastic bags, can we finally get rid of this menace?

Monday, 22 May 2017

Osso Buco Alla Milanese

Hello Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, our butcher at the markets, had Osso Buco on special, so we bought a pack of four. In total, the pack weighed just under two kilos, there was some large bones, of course, but still plenty of meat. When I was younger, I had an aversion to bone-y-meat-y pieces of meat, I was just a bit put off by bone or marrow. But now, knowing the health benefits of bone broths and marrow, I have dipped my toe into making Osso Buco for the first time.

The recipe came from "The food Of Italy" one of my first ever, proper, recipe books I bought for myself, too many years ago to remember exactly when. It is well used and leafed through not only because of the wonderful recipes but also because of the photos. Really splendid, real food photos, just like I would imagine you would take yourself on a holiday in Italy. I cook many recipes from this great recipe book-Tiramisu, Eggplant Parmigiana, Garlic Prawns and Oven Dried Tomatoes to name a few.

So, last Sunday morning, before we left for the day, I started off this wonderful dish. Firstly I dusted the pieces of meat in flour, salt and pepper, I used a clip lock container to "dust" the pieces of Osso Buco in, then I browned the meat in a melted butter, oil and two whole cloves of garlic, until golden brown and well sealed. Put the meat into the bowl of the slow cooker. White wine, a lemon leaf or bay leaf, allspice and cinnamon is then added along with 3/4 cup of water. I cooked the Osso Buco for 6 hours on low until the meat was meltingly tender. I removed the meat from the bones, keeping the bones for later and put on a serving dish and foiled it to keep warm. To make a super delicious sauce, you can scrape the remaining juices into a smallish saucepan or do as I did and just increased the heat on the slow cooker (if your slow cooker has that function) either way you just stir or whisk until the sauce is thick and then add a gremolata of lemon zest, garlic and parsley, season with salt and pepper and pour this magnificent sauce over the soft and unctuous meat. If marrow is your thing, when you serve yourself some meat and sauce, remove the marrow from a bone and stir this into the gravy on your plate, it just adds a beautiful richness.

Ingredients for Osso Buco Alla Milanese, clockwise from bottom left-approximately 2 kg's of Osso Buco, 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and allspice, 250 ml of white wine, a splash of oil and 40 grams of butter, a lemon leaf or bay leaf and 2 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
Dust Osso Buco in seasoned flour 
Heat a good heavy based, non stick frypan to medium heat, add oil and butter and let butter melt. Add the garlic and toss to flavour the oil but don't let it colour. Brown meat well on both sides
Then add to the bowl of the slow cooker along with the white wine, garlic cloves and lemon or bay leaf. At this point, also add about 125 ml of water. Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours. Keep an eye on the slow cooker as it may need extra water added. Mine didn't but I am mindful that every slow cooker is different
For the gremolata you will need a lemon, a garlic clove and a small handful of parsley
Zest the lemon
Finely mince the garlic clove
And finely chop the parsley
Combine in a bowl and set aside for later
After 6 hours remove meat and keep warm. I also removed the meat from the bones at this point
Either scrape and pour the lovely sauce into a saucepan and heat to medium or keep the sauce in the slow cooker bowl and turn heat up on slow cooker, now add the gremolata and whisk until shiny, smooth and thick. The flour that you dusted the Osso Buco in will thicken the sauce.

Serve the gorgeous sauce over tender, falling apart meat
I served ours with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and a slice of lemon to squeeze over the top

So comforting and warming, using really simple ingredients, it's a lovely dish.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Here and Now 2

Hello Dear Reader,

I did mean to have this post finished and link up with"Say Little Hen" by the 17th of this month, but life got in the way. I will go ahead and post it anyway and then start linking up next month. So here goes my Here and Now 2-

Loving//The rain that we have received recently, it simply makes my life so much easier, no spending an hour or so watering, using our precious tank water

Eating//Osso Buco Alla Milanese, it has been my favourite meal, so far, this week

Drinking//A quiet glass of port last night. We discovered Castle Glen when we went to Stanthorpe for our 27th Wedding Anniversary three years ago, they have an incredible range of wines, fortified wines and spirits. This is a beautiful sipping port.

Feeling//Overwhelmed by the thought of sorting out my Mother in laws home-there is just so much stuff, I don't know how to begin

Making//I have been tending my new sourdough starter and am looking forward to making a crusty loaf of light rye sourdough today

Thinking//I must get into my sewing room and get on with a new quilt for one of my little grand nieces, her 4th birthday is in August and I hope to have it finished by then. I have had the material for ages and I did make a start on it, but I made a mistake and the patches didn't line up how they should have, so I just left it and thought I would get back to it soon. Well, I really must do that!

Dreaming//Of a little home and a big productive garden somewhere in my future

This is a lovely process to go through, I find it really fascinating as all the answers to the questions are just sitting there, ready in my brain.

Have a wonderful Sunday to everyone that drops by and reads my little blog. I love the comments that you leave, it absolutely makes my day.