Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oat waffles with cinnamon apples.

This morning we had a real treat breakfast. I don't have much time during the school term to do fancy breakfasts - it's generally muffins, oats or eggs. But the house was still quiet at 8a.m. with all my babes asleeping that I had time to make something before their empty stomachs woke them.

I ground 3 big cups of organic rolled oats in my mill. I do this on quite a coarse setting. While that was going I peeled 7 apples and put them in a pan on a low heat with cinnamon, sugar and a knob of butter. I don't like them soggy and overdone, just softened.

Seperated 4 eggs, beat whites to soft peak. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. To the oats add 3 teaspoons baking powder and 3 tablespoons raw sugar. Add butter and 2 cups of whole milk along with the beaten egg yolks. When mixed fold in whites.

Cook on the waffle iron. If you don't have one, these can work as flapjacks (pancakes, pikelets) too. Serve with apples ontop, a dash of whipped cream and drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup.

It wasn't long until the babes were all awake and around the breakfast table to eat :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Falling off the frugal bandwagon!

I was very impacted by Rhonda's post yesterday...I am slipping in my frugal ways...and I know it is time related.

I, like most of you, am in the stage of life where my children take up huge chunks of time - time I am so happy to give them. We homeschool too, so this means my mornings (until 2pm) are taken up with school activities. Thereafter, 3x a week, they have activities. This leaves Tuesday for my business (packaging and posting orders) and Friday for groceries and errands.

Saturdays and Sundays are meant to be quiet at home days but Saturday seems to fill up with stuff...anything from making something in the kitchen through to a family outing for something....Sundays I am really trying to rest which is not easy for my "must-be-busy" nature.

So in this hurly burly of life I have relied more and more in the last few months on shops. I still make my own bread most days, cook from scratch, garden, line dry washing, no heaters - rather a fire, but our household bills climb increasingly.

It doesn't help that we now have one of our precious children meeting with a speech therapist for dyspraxia weekly which gobbles a huge chunk of cash every month. This is not negotiable and is necessary for him...please don't take this as a isn't.

So somewhere, somehow I need to make time to save more and I know from the past that living frugally = time...something that I don't seem to have right now.

Is there anyone out there who can give me a VIT B frugal injection? I sure would appreciate it!

Monday, June 27, 2011

There's a grandma in there somewhere....

Did I ever say how much I love my mom? I truly hope that at her age I will have the same amount of energy and zest for life!

My folks are here for 3 days and today my mom got stuck into my veggie garden...she pulled weeds, got rid of an invasive ground cover around the pond, staked broad beans and just made everything more tidy for me.

I worked really hard (ja, right!) and pruned the lemon verbena and rose geranium and pulled some of the nasturtiums up.

The geranium and lemon verbena are now hung up to dry. I hope to cook with the verbena once it is dry but I have big plans for the rose geranium. Hopefully I will blog about that at my herbal blog soon. In the meantime I just made it into a lovely tea by shredding 1/4 cup of leaves and letting it steep in boiling water, strained and added a teaspoon of honey. Very nice.

When everything was cleared I saw this amazing fungi growing on a stump that I use as a pot stand.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Peas - the perfect winter pickup!

Yesterday I was feeling really miserable. I figured out that I am missing summer's bounty and provision. We planted our peas, brassicas, broad beans, chard and others so long ago it seemed. We have eaten salads and chard but that's really all for the last few weeks.

I made a delicious recipe from Jamie At Home and wanted a nice green salad to go with it. To my delight our peas have come in. I love eating them in the pod but this has to happen quite soon after fruiting before the pod gets too tough.

We have planted peas in half wine barrels, in pots, in raised beds...wherever we could.

Even with eating lots straight off the plant there were plenty for the salad. Needless to say, once this was done I was feeling much happier with my winter garden.

Friday, June 24, 2011

On my mind...

Today I am thinking about my next knitting project....

These wools I bought last winter and have been patiently waiting for me to make something beautiful from them.

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. Hosted by Rhonda @ Down To Earth

Thursday, June 23, 2011

For the love of coriander

It goes by many names - coriander...dhania...cilantro....but I love it no matter what you call it.

At the moment we have loads of coriander growing just outside my kitchen door interplanted with the chilli bushes.

With all the rain we have been having we have been enjoying lots of curries...which if I am honest is just and excuse for me to use my coriander :-) However last night we had Peanut Butter's how:

1kg deboned chicken breast cubed marinated in:
~80ml soya sauce
~60ml lemon juice
~30ml brown sugar
~2 cloves
~1 star anise
~1 chilli
~10cm piece of lemon peel - heat all of these til sugar melts and pour over chicken. Leave to marinate for 40 mins.

Make the peanute butter sauce by:
~ fry one chopped onion, 10cm grated ginger & 4 cloves of garlic in some peanut oil.
~ add 1 small chopped chilli
~ add 300ml crunchy peanut butter
~ add 1 can of coconut milk

Heat and then allow to stand on a low heat while you fry the marinaded chicken in batches. I used peanut oil for this too.

When all the chicken is cooked, add back to the pan and pour peanut butter sauce over the chicken. Serve on basmati rice with chopped chillies and COPIOUS amounts of coriander.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quick easy spinach bread

I seem to be dropping more balls than I am catching at the moment and ended up at lunch time with no bread for the hungry hordes! I didn't have time to use yeast so made up this quick bread....

Here is how to do it...

1. Run out to the spinach patch to cut a colander of spinach...give the holey ones to the chickens.

2. Steal two eggs from under the chicken while making sure she doesn't peck you.

3. Wash & chop the spinach and then wilt it in a pan on the stove.

4. Measure 500g of flour.

5. Grate 250 ml of cheese and some extra to top the loaf.

6. Mix together the two eggs with 250ml water and 125ml olive oil.

7. In a bowl mix together the flour, 1 heaped tablespoon of baking powder and the grated cheese and 1 t salt.

8. Add the wilted spinach and the wet ingredients.

9. Put into a greased loaf pan, sprinkle with sunflower seeds and remaining cheese.

10. Bake at 180 deg C for 40 mins while reading to the children to take their minds off their hungry tummies.

Cut and enjoy with fresh avo, chicken mayo, cream cheese or just butter!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to knit a sock in 2 months :-0

Here's how to knit a sock in 2 months...

Buy the pattern and watch the videos on April 23.

Knit every Friday night for 1 hr for 3 weeks while talking to a friend.

Be forced to put it down to take up former responsibilities and get daughter #1 through exams...

6 weeks later write "finish socks" on TO DO LIST.

Sunday, watch the last 2 videos, shape the toe and stitch up.

My son now has one warm foot!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Back then....

I received this today via email...

"In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bag because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. The former generation did not care enough to save our environment."

He was right, that generation didn't have the green thing in Its day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn't have the green thing back in that customer's day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks. But she was right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a hankerchief, not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn't have the green thing back then? I remember all of that."

Food for thought!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A truth universally acknowledged...

Forgive me Miss Austin....

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single patch of ground in possession of nothing, must be in want of a few potatoes."

Tonight while supper was on I snuck into the garden between the showers of rain and planted some winter potatoes.

These seed potatoes got forgotten in the hurly burly of the last 5 weeks....Glad they are in the ground now.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Win some...lose some!

I am so very aware that in blogland (and sometimes in real life) we only share the good stuff. I understand why this is...two reasons I think.

1. Who would read blogs full of moans and groans and negativity?

2. We don't really want to be real in cyberspace and share our struggles.

I know other bloggers who present a very "perfect" image of their homes and children and I think this is a very dangerous thing as it will more than likely leave moms who do not have it "all together" or who are battling with different issues feel even worse about themselves, their home, their family.

I am all for cyber privacy...decidedly so! I think however it is important to be real and not present an image to others that is not honest, true, trustworthy and reliable. We need to be able to encourage one another when we are down, rejoice with one another when up and know that everyone has struggles - no one is perfect, we all have failures and sometime we all just get fed up!

As it relates to this blog...we have had some failures this year in the garden and kitchen. I learn from failures as well as I hope you can learn from what I share too.

1. We have still not seen any savings in vegetables since growing our own. The initial set up costs of the garden are yet to be paid back in cash savings! I suppose we could have done it cheaper, but Superman likes things orderly.
2. Leading on from #1...Superman and I have had many differences of opinion about the layout of the garden. He doesn't like my, as he calls it, "ADD eclectic" style :-) I don't really mind his ordered pathways and square is in fact much easier to plan like this and the gravel keeps the weeds under control.

3. We would have starved by now had we been the pioneers of the 1800's [blush blush] Our garden does not yield anywhere near what we need to feed our family. Even in the height of harvesting we probably eat about 3 - 4 meals from the garden, never 7 night a week!

4. My children are wonderful helps to me, they bless me so much with their helping hands...however, they are children and towards the end of the autumn planting season they had HAD ENOUGH :-) I am a little older and wiser so while I also had HAD ENOUGH, I wasn't anywhere near as vocal as them!

5. I have had some tremendous flops as I was too idealistic. Taking on too much too soon is one of my traits. Having this ongoing back problem now has made me reassess what I am doing and to par back to what we can do. There are certain non-negotiables but there were also other things that just had to slide for now.

6. Some of the flops are food related. We all agree that the cold cucumber soup was the all time low...tonights one-pot-crockpot-chicken comes in a close 2nd :-)Some of my breads were simply yuck...but we keep learning.

7. In the garden this year we again had a very unsucessful tomato crop. Better than last year, but really not what it should be. We have lost ALL our turnips to some critters AND our second last planting of potatoes was too late and the winter shade has robbed us of any winter spuds.

It is now coming up to the beginning of our 4th year in this Urban Homestead adventure. We are a little less idealistic, a little more tired, but still looking ahead to what more we can learn.

Despite the hardships, disappointments and disagreements, we are keeping on! The rewards definately outweigh the drawbacks, particularly when we see spring around the corner in a couple of months time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Super Simple Apple Crumble

Whenever I have fruit that is not as crisp as it once was, I like to make it into something. Bananas go into banana muffins or bread or even into pancakes...apples, pears and guavas always seem to go into some form of pudding.

This super simple crumble is our favourite served with custard.

Mix together 2 cups flour and 100g soft butter. Cut in until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar.

Press half the mixture into the base and sides of a deep pie dish. Peel and slice as many apples as you want to fill the dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Pour the other half crumble mixture over the apples. Bake at 180 deg C until the edges brown.

It's quick and easy and very tasty.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The winter garden

Now that it is officially winter I thought I would give you some snapshots of our winter garden. We are very fortunate to be able to grow veggies year round. We have a mediterranean climate here in Cape Town so while we do get cold, have lots of rain and winds, we escape the frost and snow that the inland provinces have to face.

What we grow now are called "cool season vegetables" - all the brassicas, spinach, kale, lettuces and my favorite - broad beans. We can get away with beetroot, onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes now although the growth rate slows dramatically.

This is what our newest veggie garden looks like today....who could think it was like this about 6 months ago!

Our lettuces are doing well...too many to eat in this cold weather. The broad beans have me salivating in anticiplation...

Curly Kale is a new veggie for us...I believe it is very tasty and iron rich.

Spinach as always - a staple food in our home!

Peas are making flowers...lots need to be staked. Oh...a gardeners work is never done!

Superman's chillies...some too hot even for him! We planted coriander in between the bushes and it is very happy.

Red and white cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli fill the other beds.

The only problem in winter is motivation :-) To leave my warm home, my book, my kitchen...and go and do something in the garden. I am sure it can wait until tomorrow :-)

Friday, June 3, 2011

On my mind....

Puppies looking for a good home...

A friend and I have been involved in rescuing 5 puppies and their mum from a very deprived situation. These three puppies are looking for a home. I am mindful of the immense need in our country where people need love, care, jobs, home, security and education. It's such a huge task...I am one woman...where to begin?

On my mind is a Friday photo feature run by Rhonda-Jean at Down to Earth

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frugal Winter Soup

I have a self imposed "eat from pantry and garden" challenge simply because I cannot seem to get my act together and get to the shop!!

So we are eating some pretty creative meals...thank goodness I have the basics. One meal that wasn't too outrageous was our lunch from yesterday. A yummy winter cabbage, potato and bacon soup.

I had one cabbage in the garden ready to harvest...planted in summer...which was shredded and gently fried in butter. Then I added 1.5litres of homemade chicken stock, 4 peeled choped potatoes, salt, pepper and a pkt of bacon (sliced). This simmered during school time and was served with some fresh butter rolls.