10 February, 2012

New Year's Resolutions in February

I have no idea why but today I woke up and had this random urge to get my act together! So who cares whether today is January 1 or half way through February here is my list:

USE the budget that I spent time doing!!
Do I really NEED whatever I want to buy? Stop, think, wait THEN decide. Live within our means!
Remember it's not what I have but who I am that matters in the end.

Eat healthier (eg stop adding extra butter to prepacked microwave popcorn and pop my own in the microwave, it's not like it's hard!)
Stop wasting so much food. Use up what is going to go off before it really will kill someone and get creative with leftovers (or even remember there ARE leftovers).
Use as much Australian owned and local grown food as possible.

My way is not ALWAYS the right way...............well maybe it IS but there are other ways things can be done (so long as I don't have to watch).
Get the kids to do more jobs around the house.....now that's a win/win because I get to have more time (after they learn how to do something of course) and they learn independence so maybe they won't be here forever.
Don't sweat the small stuff.
Declutter every day for at least 15 minutes. Don't care what is being decluttered I just need to remember to do it and STOP after the 15 minutes because I tend to become a perfectionist and won't start unless I can finish it. It can be finished tomorrow and if I don't live to see tomorrow then who cares?? LOL The kids can chuck it when I'm gone BUT if I do 15 minutes every day then they won't have quite as much junk to cope with.

The Kids:
Be more consistent with Ryan's school work and limit his computer time a bit more. Plus enforce bedtimes and getting up times! Um moral here...........CONSISTENCY I guess? The "rules" are there but I get pretty slack about enforcing them at times.
Teach them both to declutter for 15 minutes every day.

Personal Stuff:
Eat a decent breakfast every morning. I know in my head, and in practice, that it stops me eating rubbish later in the day but it is so damn hard to remember sometimes.
Use the exercise bike 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
Blog more............

And FINALLY: Come back and read this post when I need a kick up the behind.

19 December, 2011

I grew garlic! I'm over the moon!!

Now this is a weird post but I seriously had to share it anyway! I had a clove of garlic many months ago that started sprouting so I pushed it in to some dirt next to my chilli plant in a pot and watched it grow. Now you would think I wouldn't be so damn amazed that I GREW GARLIC but you see here's the kicker...........a few months ago, after forgetting to tend, water, love or do anything to said chilli plant (and hence the garlic) I wandered past the pot to sadly find that my unloved garlic had died. The top leaves came off in my hands. I threw that in the bin and didn't give the poor baby any more thought. My garlic growing career was over, or so I thought!

Yesterday Ryan watered the chilli (plus the dirt next to it of course!) with the dog bowl water. Today I walked out the front and lo and behold there was an entire garlic bulb sticking up out of the dirt! Comment from son "wow I thought I had uncovered some weird eggs but I didn't think to tell you".

So today we have an entire organic homegrown bulb of garlic and my garlic growing career has been resurrected!

21 November, 2011

Life gets in the way of blogging

If anyone has been sitting with their breath held for more from Jenny's kitchen I am really really really (well you get the point) sorry that I have been absent for so long!

There are times when life gets in the way of blogging and the last few months have been a lot like that for this household BUT life is sort of getting back to normal here, though I am not sure what normal really means except maybe something I read once about "normal being a setting on a clothes drier".................so stay tuned for more from my kitchen real soon.................and STOP holding your breath, it can have very very bad consequences!!!

17 July, 2011

Sunday OR "Using up Leftovers" Day!

Every second Sunday (the one after The Entrance Markets) seems to have become "using up leftovers" day.

Any fruit and vegetables that are leftover from FIG on a Tuesday or the markets the fortnight before have to be used to make way for all the fresh produce.

Sunday nights in winter seem to have become "soup and crumble" night and biscuits and cakes once again fill their respective containers as well as the freezer. Also the boys now have their weekly yoghurt supply to keep them going!

Sunday is also baking day and today I made enough biscuit dough to make 150 biscuits. I baked 1/5 of it, divided the rest of the dough in 4, added extra flavouring, rolled them in gladwrapped logs and popped them in the freezer. When I need them a log comes out of the freezer and is sliced in to rounds and baked from frozen. The ones I baked today were jam drops and the ones I froze were chocolate chip, white chocolate and cocoa, ginger and peanut butter/peanut! But with these types of biscuits you are really only limited by your imagination. So now we have biscuits for a while.

Tonight's soup is "white soup" which would be called potato and leek soup if I hadn't chucked in the leftover hunk of cauliflower that was hanging around in the fridge! Plus the leftover cream from Little Creek Cheese will go in to the soup.

Also on the menu for dinner is a rhubarb and apple crumble. Even the juice from the left over lemon wedges we didn't use with our fish during the week and the juice of a couple of wrinkled oranges that the kids kept bypassing went in to the fruit for the crumble!

So it's been a busy day in the kitchen but one that feels worthwhile.

"Waste not want not" is a saying I try to live by. EVERTHING you don't throw away, but find a use for, is money you don't have to earn. I think in Australia we waste way too much food these days. We've become such a disposable society. It is all too easy to chuck it in the bin when it's looking a bit tired rather than finding inventive ways to use it up.

I also made an apple cake to get rid of some of the leftover apples.

This recipe comes from one of my favourite old books "Family Circle: Fabulous Fast Cakes" published in 1994. I have added some water to the recipe as it was way too dry, added extra spice and reduced the cooking time.........so here is my version that I have been using for years now.

Apple and Fruit Cake Recipe
2 medium apples (any variety)
1 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas (or mixed fruit)....running out of sultanas, with not quite a cup, today I added chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour
2 eggs, beaten
60 melted butter
1/4 cup water

Preheat over to 180 degC
Grease a 20cm square or round cake tin
Peel, core and slice the apples finely (I also chop the slices in half)
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon
Spoon mixture into the prepared pan
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes
When a wooden skewer comes out clean it is ready
Cool on a wire rack

So easy and so yummy! AND it means that at least 2 apples will no longer become landfill!! Also it is freezable so I often make more than one though today butter was becoming an issue!

15 July, 2011

Homemade Pasta (school holiday amusement)

A few months ago I bought an Atlas pasta maker and it has sat in it's box in the cupboard ever since! Expensive piece of rubbish maybe? NO!!!! Not any more anyway. I think I was just scared by the thought of making my own pasta? You CAN get pasta makers a lot cheaper but they are just that..............cheap!! From the stories I have been told anyway. I ventured there once, bought a cheap one, took it out of it's box and took it straight back to the store (after putting it back in it's box of course) for a refund. It had the bubble wrap moulded in to the body of the machine and you couldn't change cutting mechanisms. Nasty little waste of money.

Anyway, I decided today was the right time to use my investment. School holidays (well if you can call them that when you homeschool) and a bored 12yo boy on my hands made it the right time. Playdough is now a bit juvenile for him, pasta is similar to playdough AND you get to eat the result plus one of his favourite hobbies is eating.

I haven't made pasta by hand since I was married to my first husband (gee that would be about 30 years ago maybe?) and then it was SERIOUSLY by hand...no machines, no gizmos, no gadgets. Today I used a food processor for the dough and the pasta machine to roll and shape the dough. I would at least recommend the food processor to anyone reading this though to be honest the whole lot CAN be done by hand.

The result was delicious and hence the reason why the pasta maker is going to get a lot more airing from now on.......even by the said 12 year old who has vowed HE loves fresh pasta enough to make it himself! He did enjoy it but we'll see how long it takes him to realise that it could take away from his computer time!

I also made a bolognese sauce like I've never made before, with milk and cream, trying to stick to the authentic recipe from Bologna. Seeing so much love went in to the pasta the sauce all of a sudden became very important as well.

So here is the pasta recipe for those who feel like getting back to nature or becoming an Italian Mamma! Gosh I envy anyone who grew up in Italy with a mum who made everything from scratch! One of the photos is me looking very much like a big mamma!!!!

Basic Pasta Recipe
4 generous servings
(if you don't want to make it for 4 the ratio is 1 egg to 3/4 cup plain flour)

3 cups plain flour
4 eggs
2 large pinches of salt

In a Food Processor:
Put the flour and salt in the food processor, add the eggs one by one down the chute till the mixture forms a ball
Take dough out of the processor and knead for 2 to 3 minutes
Wrap in a teatowel to prevent a skin forming and rest for 15 minutes

By Hand:
In a large bowl (or on the bench) mound the flour and make a well in the middle
Add the eggs and salt
Use a fork or your fingers and slowly start blending from the middle, working more and more of the flour in to the egg mixture (you may need to add some water to make the dough the right consistency for kneading)
When it is all combined knead for about 5 minutes
Wrap the dough in a teatowel and rest for 15 minutes

For the pasta machine:
Cut the dough in to 5 or 6 even amounts, roll each in to a ball and squash it a bit
Run each ball through on the widest setting (on my machine it is 1) 3 times, then fold the pasta in thirds (see photo) and run it through on 1 again. Repeat the folding and running through another 5 or 6 times (on 1), till the dough feels silky
Put the machine on 2, run the dough through
Put the machine on 3, repeat
Keep going till the dough is as thin as you want it, right down to 9. I stopped at 5
When the dough is as thing as you desire use the cutters
Tonight I made tagliatelle

IF you are doing it by hand the same "silky feel" applies, keep rolling and folding and rolling and folding till it feels right and you have it as thin as you desire
To cut hand rolled pasta in to strips (ie tagliatelle) leave it to rest for a little bit till it's a bit drier or it might stick then roll each sheet up like a jam roll and slice along the length (this is how I did it 30 years and 3 marriages ago!)

Hang the finished pasta over a broom handle between 2 chairs or lay it out on a teatowel to dry a little bit before cooking.

Fresh pasta takes a lot less time than dried pasta to cook.

Bring a very large pot of well salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for about 5 minutes, checking by tasting it, till cooked. It won;t go as "mushy" as supermarket dry pasta and you will really all of a sudden understand the meaning of "al dente"!!