Monday, April 1, 2019

A GREAT BREAD MAKING TUTORIAL

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick post today to tell you all about a great bread making series on YouTube that I have found.  It's a four part series, and I've only watched two, but it's enough to tell me that the tips and tricks she explains are very valuable indeed.  I've been baking bread with reasonable success for quite some time, and I'm learning new to me things!

You have to sign up to watch the video's, all that's required is your email address, and the videos are released every few days (that's why I've only watched two, there has only been two released so far, otherwise I would have binged watched the lot LOL)  But they are only going to be available for a short time, so get in sooner rather than later.

I've been following Homesteading Family for a while, their Pantry Chats are great too. Look them up on YouTube if you are interested.

Anyway, I'll leave the link below, I know you'll love it.

Bread Making Homesteading Family

Cheers Cheryl

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

PURPOSE AND PASSION

 Hello everyone,

Apologies for not being in this space very much, I'm just really busy around the home at the moment.  It seems early Autumn is a time of abundance, and there's so much to do to keep on top of it all!

Here's the thing...I have concluded that being unwell last year is the best thing that's ever happened to me (although it certainly didn't feel great when I was going through it, and I still have bad days) But being forced to rest gave me time to think and evaluate, and without me really realizing it somewhere along the way I decided I'm really going to embrace this home made life. 

It just makes me so happy. 

The clincher came when I realized, truly knew that my work at home is valuable, and I am valued and worthy.  I wanted to believe it before, I tried to believe it before, but 'the world' was having me believe otherwise, and I was torn.  Not anymore.  I know with all my heart that this simple life is worthy, and I have given myself permission to embrace it fully and wholeheartedly.

I've released the guilt of not being at paid employment more, and I've settled comfortably into just one day a week, with the occasional extra shift.  My work is at home.

I feel invigorated, energized, confident, comfortable and chomping at the bit to really get stuck into A Simply Good Life ❤️

It's not an easy path, in fact it's down right hard work! But I'm going to bed at night with a happy heart and a satisfied mind.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven"

I'll leave you with a few photo's of what's been happening around here.

Always time for baking, light and fluffy buttermilk scones

Add caption

Passionfruit are ripening thick and fast, mostly we eat them fresh, I've given some away, but I'm looking to freeze the pulp now, we just can't keep up!


The only benefit to a dry Summer is less mowing, but now that the rains have come where I live, the mowing seems to be a weekly event

There is always time for a little light reading, especially if I'm learning and being inspired

What an abundant table, olives brining, weekly kombucha bottled, and mandarines soaking ready to be transformed into marmalade

We have a dragonfruit in our backyard which yielded us our first three fruit this year, so I took a cutting and planted it up against this old sturdy fence post in our paddock

I got the opportunity to harvest some olives for free!! We picked 8.5kg and I've been on a steep learning curve learning how to pickle and preserve them!
Look at that smile, I'm in heaven!


I'm trying several methods of preserving, these were simply soaked in plain water for one week, then rinsed, and bottled in a brine solution. This is an easy method, but very slow, we have to wait 6 months for them to be ready to eat! If you have a spare 5 minutes google Nonna Franca Preserving Olives, she's a darling, I'm using one of her methods to cure my black olives.

And we squeezed in a Birthday celebration, my middle child turned 14!

Have a lovely week.

Cheers Cheryl
XXX

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

ORCHARD UPDATE VIDEO


After our long hot, dry Summer it feels good to be back in the garden!

I'll let the video do the talking!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

WEEKLY UPDATE AND VEGETABLE KORMA



Hello everyone,

I've got a beaut recipe for you all this week, a slow cooker Vegetable Korma.

I adapted it from a Sally Wise recipe.  It's comforting, sweet/spicy and budget and health friendly.

VEGETABLE KORMA 

1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
300g potatoes
200g sweet potato
100g pumpkin
200g carrots
3cm piece of fresh ginger
400ml coconut milk
1 1/2 TBSP sweet chilli sauce
3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP tomato paste

Finely dice the onion, and cook in a frying pan in a splash of oil for 5mins until translucent, add the finely diced garlic and cook for another minute, throw all this into your slow cooker...the original recipe didn't call for cooking off the onion and garlic first, but I find it gives a better flavour, you can just throw it into the slow cooker raw if it suits.

Peel and dice the potato, sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot into about 1.5cm dice. Place into the slow cooker with all the other ingredients, and stir well.

Cook on high for for 4-5 hrs or low 8-9 hrs

Simple and delicious!

I served ours with rice and home made Naan bread...Jamie Oliver's Yoghurt Naan recipe...if you haven't made it, look it up, it's legendary.

This recipe is so versatile, I was thinking next time I make it, I might add a dash of chilli sauce or some fresh chilli's to rev it up a bit.  Also you could double the coconut milk, and add a handful of red lentils or a drained tin of chickpeas to give it more protein and bulk.

You could really use any vegetable you had on hand in it, the original recipe called for parsnips, but I don't really like them, so I used carrots.  It's really just a good all rounder this recipe, and it's certainly going to be on high rotation around here from now on.


I've always admired these marble rolling pins, and I stumbled upon one in an op-shop this week for $8 .  It did not disappoint, it leaves my wooden one for dust, it's so heavy, and so easy to use...I'm in love...💕  These are the Jamie Oliver Naan breads under construction 😋 



In other news, I whipped out my new overlocker and sewing machine this past week and had a play...can I just say I was as nervous as heck using it, but in the end I concluded that the dress I wanted to shorten hadn't been worn for years, because it was too long, so if I stuffed it up...and I did a bit...I had nothing to lose.

In hindsight, I should have started with an easier fabric, the fabric in this dress is quite stretchy and difficult to work with, and you can see in the photo's above my hemline isn't even, but I think I know what I did wrong, so hopefully I'll be better at it next time, I have another skirt I want to shorten to just above knee length, I'll let you know how I get on.  

I've got to say, it's fun learning, I love sewing more and more very time I do it!







I haven't shown you all my cross stitch for a long time, I've been working on this for about a year now (in fits and starts) I've recently picked it back up again, some days when I'm not feeling very energetic I'll work on it, it makes me feels at least a little bit productive.

If there are any diehard crosstitchers reading this, the right hand photo is the back of my project.  I belong to the 'keep the back neat' camp, it suits my 'imperfect perfectionist' tendencies LOL...but on a practical note being neat on the back of a cross stitching project prevents whispy strands from accidentally being poked through to the front of the project, and it lays flatter and even when it's framed...(that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it LOL!)


On a tragic note we've had a Monolepta invasion in our garden!


Just look what they did to my Avocado tree that I've had sitting in it's pot in the courtyard.  I've been nurturing this tree all Summer, deciding not to put it into the orchard until Autumn after our long hot dry summer has passed.

I nearly cried when I found it!

After shaking hundreds of the little buggers off it, I've brought it inside for a few days to keep it safe.  I'm led to believe these pests will swarm off after a few days, so here's hoping!

I hope it recovers 🤞🙏

That's about all I've got for you this week.   I hope you're having a busy, productive week what ever you're doing.

Take care.

Cheers Cheryl
XXX

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

BELATED WEEKLY UPDATE

Hello everyone,

Apologies for my absence in this space, but I have been very busy with many projects and plans, when I get busy this space is the first thing to suffer.  I think  I will be posting in fits and starts this year!

Just a really quick health update for you all.  I've been to both my GP and a specialist, and while neither of them has been able to pin down the reason for my symptoms, the specialist has eliminated anything Autoimmune (Chronic Fatigue, Lupus etc) so that is a huge relief.  All they can narrow it down to is a post viral syndrome, which should get better with time.  On a funny note, I was blaming bursitis for all my R) hip pain (because I've had it before) only I found out from my GP that it was in the other hip last time I had it!! So all this time I was wrong.  I've since had a scan on my R) hip, no bursitis to be found...turns out my hip pain is coming from some bulging discs in my lower back! 🙄 I will never understand the human body! On the suggestion of the specialist, I'm about to join pilates to try to help the back/hip pain.  Anyway since I last checked in, I am feeling better energy wise, still having the odd day where I'm not well, but for the most part I'm felling better...I hope and pray it lasts...I have been looking after myself all these weeks, getting enough rest, eating well, taking vitamins and drinking Kombucha! Thanks for all your kind thoughts and comments, I love our blogging community ❤️


Recently a friend gifted me a SCOBY which is the 'mother' required to brew the drink Kombucha, and gave me a lesson on how to brew it.  It is seriously gross to look at, and even more gross to touch, but I'm led to believe Kombucha is good for our health, and I'm all for that...besides, I strain my brew though a clean chux before bottling it, so I can pretend the mother never came in contact with it 😉


It's an acquired taste, and you either like it or you don't.  Personally I think it tastes fine, especially if you don't brew it too long, it begins to taste like Apple Cider Vinegar if left too long.  It is very simple to make and only takes 20mins once a week to bottle last week's batch and brew another.  I've made three batches so far, the first one was lovely, but the second tasted funny, and had no fizz, so I didn't drink it, but the third batch was lovely again! I don't know what happened to that second brew?? 

I'm not posting my method or recipe yet, as I am a complete novice, if it's something you are interested in, I am sure you could get great instructions off the internet.

My garden is struggling terribly in this dry, hot summer.  But my chilli's are doing well.  I've been busy making chilli jam, and I've tried a couple of different recipes to see which one's I like.  The first was a tomato based chilli jam, which turned out less like a jam, and more like a lovely spicy tomato sauce, I felt it was almost a tonic, as it had tomato, garlic and ginger in it! (We will just ignore the sugar component 😉)  The other was Nigella Lawson's chilli jam, and it is just lovely too! I can't decide which one I like the best, as they both have different properties, anyway it's putting my abundance of chilli's to good use, and building my pantry too.

I'm still picking plenty of sweet juicy passionfruit, and so far I've harvested one zucchini from the veggie patch.  I think poor pollination is affecting yield, I will have to get out there early one morning with a paint brush and hand pollinate.



Another project I have been experimenting with is wicking beds.

If you haven't heard of them, they are basically a container with a water reservoir in the bottom, soil and plants on top.  Capillary action wicks water up through the soil to provide water for the roots of the plants.  The advantage of this system is less watering, and less water usage.



I acquired a couple of polystyrene boxes, and filled the bottom third with washed blue metal.



Hubby had some PVC pipe in the shed which he cut just long enough to sit above the top of box.  He also drilled a few holes (about 5cm from the bottom) of the pipe to allow the water to seep out.



I had some shade cloth laying around, and I used this to line the box, this stops all the soil washing down into the rocks



Next I cut a weep hole in the side of the box where the gravel and soil meet.



Then I filled the box with good quality potting mix, firming the soil around the pipe as I filled it.  Afterwards I trimmed off the excess shade cloth. (PS I had to cut a small hole in the shade cloth to fit over the pipe, when I lined the box)



Then to the fun bit, planting up some mixed lettuce.  I went for a punnet over seeds, partly because for some reason I can't raise seeds, but mostly because I'm an impatient gardener! LOL



The seedlings were planted on the 23rd of January.  The idea is to fill the reservoir up via the PVC pipe, but for the first week or so I had to water them from the top as well, just until the wicking action got underway.  I'm finding I need to fill the reservoir maybe twice a week to keep it topped up.  


Four weeks later, this is what the box looks like...pretty impressive hey...especially considering I've never had much success growing these in my regular veggie garden, mainly because they need daily water, and I'm not always able to do that.  I'm picking tonights salad from this lot 😁



A couple of weeks later I also planted up a box of salad rocket, and it is powering along nicely.



I created a little tiered area in the courtyard for some of my potted veggies and herbs.  I picked up these terracotta coloured plastic pots at a garage sale for $5 for 5 of them...what's a girl to do, but plant parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme 😂...although my rosemary is not too happy, I transplanted it from the back yard.  I repurposed bricks and old fence palings we had lying around to create my tier, I think it looks great.

There is so much more going on, but this post is already getting way too long, so I will leave you with a photo of the overlocker my BEAUTIFUL husband bought for me.  I couldn't believe it!  I have wanted an overlocker for YEARS, but being the tightwad that I am, I just couldn't bring myself to buy myself one!

How did I get so lucky???


No doubt when I figure out how to use this thing, there will be plenty of brag posts to come LOL

Have a lovely week everyone.

Cheers Cheryl
XXX

Saturday, January 26, 2019

WEEKLY UPDATE AND SOUTHERN STYLE SWEET POTATO SALAD

Hello everyone,

Another week under our belts, and more shockingly we are about to cruise on in to the last week of the month!  Where does time go??

I was watching a YouTube video last night by Penny Pinching Mama, and the episode was about being good stewards of our time, it really hit a chord with me, essentially we can't be complaining that we don't have enough time to do 'this or that', if we squander the time we do have available.

Squandering time can come in many forms, for me it's a little too much time on social media, reading blogs and watching you tube video's.  I wouldn't want to completely eliminate these things from my life, because they offer me so much...connection with like minded people, inspiration, education...but it's all too easy to sit in front of a screen and lose a couple of hours.

Aiming to get our work/goals done first is the key, then we can enjoy some screen time, guilt free!  I've taken to sitting down at night to watch the YouTube channels that interest me, it certainly beats mainstream television.  Oh and a timer might come in handy 😉

The word on everyone's lips is this relentless heat!

Where I live in Northern NSW, near the Qld border, we are used to long hot and humid Summer's, but we are not accustomed to dry ones!  We just had 30 days straight without a drop of rain, which is a record not seen since the 1930's (I think the article said) Don't get me wrong there are areas of Australia far worse off than us, it's just so unusual for our area.  We generally have several days of increasing temperatures and rising humidity followed by a big thunderstorm which cools everything off, and then the cycle starts again.  But not this year, it's just relentless heat and dry.  We had, what appeared to be, a huge storm roll in a few nights ago, thunder and lightening everywhere, and I thought this is it, the heavens are ready to open...then we got all of about 100 big fat drops of rain, and it all blew away....!

I've struggled to keep my small veggie garden and pot plants alive in this weather.  The rest of the garden just has to survive on it's own.  Surprisingly the couple of fruit trees I planted in the orchard are doing well on just one bucket of water a week!  I say if they can survive this first Summer on that, it should toughen them up for life!  I think their survival has been aided by good soil management at planting time, mulch and shade cloth which I erected mostly for a wind break around the tree's, but I think it's helped keep them cooler over the Summer months too, and prevented sunburn on their delicate young leaves.

My passion fruit is in season at the moment, and they must thrive on dry heat and neglect, because the fruit are juicy and sweet this year!  We are mostly eating them fresh off the vine.


I've had a very busy week this week.  I managed to complete the photo book I had been working on for mum from her visit here this Christmas, I just have to wait for Harvey Norman to have a sale now before I hit the order button.

I made a batch of Dried Apricot and passionfruit jam, I was a bit disappointed in it, it was very runny...the recipe didn't call for any lemon juice or pectin...I should have trusted my instinct when I read that, and just added some anyway, but I have this thing where I always follow a recipe to the letter the very first time I make it, then I adjust it accordingly the next time I make it...never mind, I'm just going to 'rebrand' it as Apricot Honey! 😂

I've started decluttering and organizing my study space, little by little I am dealing with the 'paper' that I can't seem to part with.  I watched 'Tidying' on Netflix with Marie Kondo, and while some of her ideas are too much for me, others are just gold!  Her show gave me some really good ideas on how to save, store and deal with paperwork.  Much of the stuff I need to keep I am scanning on to the computer.  This week I have taught myself (with a bit of help from the kids) how to start a folder, and put files in the folder, and scan documents and 'drop' them into these files! (Most of you can probably do this blind folded, but until recently, I've never worked with computers in my job, so I haven't grown up with this stuff!) Don't worry it's all backed up! It's a slow process, but when I'm finished I can see that it's actually going to be easier to find what I'm looking for.  Sure beats shuffling through 100 papers!

I've also made a start on sorting out my recipe folders...why oh why do I have about half a dozen different recipe folders...it's getting to the point that I can't remember which folder contains which recipe! (And we won't even mention the loose recipes floating around the house...🙄)

I also potted up some herbs, and started an experimental wicking bed this week, but I'll do a post on that when I have some feedback for you all.

I'm going to leave you all with another delicious hearty salad recipe that I tried this week, again from taste.com.  Slightly tweaked to suit our palate.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Cheers Cheryl


  • SOUTHERN STYLE SWEET POTATO SALAD
  • 2 large gold sweet potatoes, halved lengthways, thickly sliced

  • 1 tbs olive oil

  • 1/2 tbs Cajun seasoning

  • 1 corn cob, husk and silk removed (or 1/2 cup frozen/tin corn defrosted/drained and dried off with a towel)

  • 1/3 cup (80ml) buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup (75g) whole-egg mayonnaise

  • 1 tbs lime juice

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped coriander

  • 1 avocado, stoned, peeled, cut into thin wedges

  • 1 red capsicum, seeded, thinly sliced

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced (I place my red onion in a small dish and just cover with white vinegar and allow to soak for an hour or so, it takes the sharpness out of the onion, then drain the vinegar off before adding to your salad.

  • 1/2 cup coriander sprigs

  • Step 1
    Preheat oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine sweet potato, oil and Cajun seasoning in a large bowl. Arrange in a single layer on lined tray. Bake, turning occasionally, for 30 mins or until sweet potato is tender. 
  • Step 2
    Meanwhile, heat a barbecue grill or chargrill on medium. Cook the corn, turning, for 10 mins or until lightly charred and tender. Set aside to cool. Use a knife to cut down the side of the corn to release the kernels. 
  • Step 3
    Place the buttermilk, mayonnaise, lime juice and chopped coriander in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season. 
  • Step 4
    Place sweet potato, corn, avocado, capsicum, onion and coriander sprigs in a large bowl. Drizzle with the buttermilk dressing and gently toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

WEEKLY UP DATE & FALAFEL FETTA AND RICE SALAD

Hello everyone,

Another week in, and another hot one at that!

This heat is reminiscent of the Summer's of my childhood.  Long, hot, dry days followed by long, hot, dry nights!  

I hope you can stay cool where ever you are.

It's been a busy week for me, with lots of interesting things happening.

A friend gave me a Scoby, and taught me how to brew my own Kombucha, I now have a batch in my pantry doing it's thing until I can bottle it on Tuesday. I'll post the recipe and method after I've done a few, just to make sure it works.

It's seriously the grossest thing I've ever touched with an ungloved hand! Luckily it's a nice refreshing drink, and hopefully it has many health benefits to. 


In other happenings, I made two batches of chilli jam.  I've been freezing my home grown long red chilli's for a while now, and I had so many it was almost getting out of hand.  I tried two different recipes, the one on the left is from a Women's Weekly Classic preserves book, and the one on the right is a Nigella Lawson recipe (it was still cooling when I took the photo, so I hadn't labelled it yet) I'm letting the flavours develop for a few days then I'll do the taste comparison, they are very different ingredient wise, and I think my preference will be for the one on the left, it uses tomato's, chilli's, ginger and garlic.  The Nigella one is simply chilli, capsicum, vinegar and sugar.  I'll post the recipe for my preferred jam later.

I can feel some homemade wedges with sour cream and chilli jam coming up!


I've been working on my photo book for mum from her Christmas visit, little bites often is seeing it make progress.

I took the kids to Office Works during the week, and stocked up on their school supplies for the year, school will be here before we know it, I still need to check over their clothing and shoes to see if anything is needed, I'll do that early next week.

And the rest of my days are filled with the every day ordinary keeping of the house and home.  Peppered with swims at the lake, and lunch out with the kids.

I will leave you with this amazing salad I made last night, it's the type of "meal in a bowl salad" I've been wanting to make more of.  I got the recipe off taste.com (of course...it's my go to) and I made it to their recipe.  I was a bit dubious about the currants in it, I'm not a fan of dried fruit in a salad, but it wasn't overpowering.  Also I only had one bag of microwaveable brown rice (yes I did buy it, needs must when one has been under the weather) but I had bought a bag of brown rice and quinoa for a different recipe so I used that to make up the quantity. 

I purchased the Falafel from the cold section of the supermarket, I wouldn't recommend you buy it like this, it was awful! It was so dry I nearly choked on it, and could hardly swallow it down.  I'm going to look for a simple homemade version of these felafel's, and make them in bulk to freeze for next time.

The Danish feta in this recipe just tops it off!


FALAFEL FETTA AND RICE SALAD 

450g microwaveable brown rice (I would cook my own next time, but it was handy just this once)
1/4 cup (40g currants)
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
225g packet of falafel balls (strongly recommend you make your own, the bought ones were yuk)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks 
60g baby rocket
1/3 cup shredded mint
2 TBSP Olive oil
200g packet of Danish fetta

Heat the rice per packet instructions, or cook your own rice and allow to cool
Combine the currants and lemon juice soak for 5 mins
Heat the felafel per packet instructions 
Add the rice, currant/lemon juice mixture, carrot, rocket and mint to a large bowl and mix
Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper
Crumble the fetta over the top, and plate up with a few felafel balls placed on top

Pretty easy, and very tasty indeed.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Cheers Cheryl