Sunday, October 30, 2011

This weekend...

Here's what we've been up to this weekend...

Ruby wanted to do some painting, so we found some cardboard things to paint and both the girls got to work.  Marlise didn't really need the tissue box that I purposely emptied for her coz it was more fun painting her arm, obviously !

And later, somebody got caught out sitting on the table having the time of her life with a spoon and the last little bit of chocolate icecream - thankyou big sister for giving it to her !!

Cheeeeeeze !!

And while all this was happening, my little fenugreek sprouts were quietly growing.

Fenugreek sprouts

I made sourcream for the first time by adding 1 tsp of store bought sourcream ( left over from the night before) to 500mL of cream.  Mixed them gently together, put a lid on the container and left it for 24 hrs on the bench.  Next day, thick sourcream.  It was so good with the nachos we had last night !

                                                               Homemade sourcream

Ok, look at this picture, do you think she's giving me a hint ??  She wants to go swimming maybe ??  And she insisted on wearing the jumper even though it's hot and humid outside.

So we obliged.  What's a weekend without some time for the beach anyway right !!  The weather has been getting warmer and warmer...
OK, so now I can't make these pictures bigger anymore, how come?

Nothing beats a bucket and spade and a beach full of sand.

My little table dancer

And finally, I made some laundry liquid.  I only have about one load worth of my last store bought powder left, so I made this up tonight - i've been saving the milk bottles up just for this purpose.  I found the recipe here at the DOWN TO EARTH BLOG.  It was so easy to make, and now I have the bottles sitting by the door cooling down.  I'll try it out tomorrow.

Homemade laundry liquid - another thing I don't have to buy from the that !

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Ricotta

I had a go at making ricotta the other day.  I saw someone make it on a cooking show on TV ages ago, and put it on my -must try- list, but promptly forgot about it, as I often do.  And so recently it came to my attention again - thankyou Donna Hay's latest Spring issue, so I had to give it a go.  It was so easy to make, and it tasted really yummy - I was impressed ! Sorry Donna I didn't use your recipe, but this is how I made it...

First: something I learned just recently...if you rinse your pot with water before putting the milk in, it won't scald the milk on the bottom of the pot ! How cool is that !

I had a 2L bottle of milk with a useby date of that same day, so I used it all, well, almost all.  Just because I opened a new bottle, Ruby had to have a drink of milk, so 2L minus a bit of milk is what I used.  I added that plus 1/2 a cup of cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt to a pot and brought it almost to the boil.

2L of full cream milk ( I used the non-homogenized milk), 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt, almost at the boil.  You can tell it's 'there' when you see steam rising off the milk and it starts to get frothy like this.

Add 3 Tablespoons of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice (I used vinegar) and turn heat down to low.  Keep stirring and watch it separate into curds and whey - it won't take long.

And when I finished watching and marvelling at this amazing process of separation, I turned around to find this happy little dancer had quickly and quietly climbed up onto my kitchen bench with a BIG smile on her face.  She danced a little jig and clapped her hands as I turned around - the little monkey !  And that's why I can't leave anything unattended on my kitchen bench which is really tricky sometimes as my kitchen is a tiny one and that bit of bench she is standing on, is pretty much the only bit of useable bench space in there !

Ok, so back to the ricotta...

After removing the distraction,  take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 5-10 mins.
Meantime, prepare a sieve lined with some muslin cloth and prop it up over a bowl or jug.

Then pour your curds and whey into the muslin lined sieve like this...

Make sure you put the sieve over a big enough bowl if you intend to keep the whey, as there is a lot of whey,  maybe 1-1.5 L, much more than there are curds.

The yellowish coloured whey is collecting in the bowl.  It will gush through the sieve at first, then reduce to a drip.  I only used a single layer of muslin.  Keep the whey to use as a substitute for water or milk in your baking.

After 15 minutes the contents of my sieve (the ricotta) has reduced to this amount.

And my finished ricotta looks like this - quite firm and creamy to taste - yum.  At this point you could drizzle it with honey, or mix it with some fresh herbs and spread it on bread or mix it with pasta for a tasty treat...mmmmmmmmmm...i think next time I might strain it for a shorter length of time, and leave it a bit softer for spreading.

This time i crumbled it over some cooked pumpkin...

Mashed it all together and added some chopped basil.  i used this mixture instead of a white sauce in my lasagna for dinner - it was sooo good. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

a day at the beach...

After a big day out, this is the best place to be...with my Daddy.

kookaburras and fresh bread

Look what we woke up to....4 handsome kookaburras on the back fence...

And some fresh homemade "St Gallen" Bread.  This was my all time favourite bread when I lived in Switzerland.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

keeping clean...

I made soap !!  I'm so excited about it too!  I've been wanting to make soap for years but always put it in the too hard basket.  Then a few months ago I bought the ingredients, but was still too scared of using the caustic soda to make the lye - necessary to make the soap.  aaaaaaahhhhhh!! Then I read this tutorial about making soap - sounded so easy, and I had the ingredients for her recipe.  So I kicked the family out of the house last Saturday - was still scared about using the lye, but I had safety goggles and gloves and lots of newspaper and...and..and I went ahead and did it !  WOW! what a feeling !  It was so much easier than I expected and not scary at all.  I mixed the caustic soda and water outside to avoid the fumes, and no time at all I was pouring the mixture into my mold.

24hrs later, I had soap - it worked !  I cut it up into bars and and have been turning it everyday to aid the drying process.  Give me 6 weeks and I'll be using my very own, luxurious soap.  Can't wait !

So here is my first batch of soap - in it's natural state - no colour or fragrance added

Look at it's beautiful smooth texture...just like a proud mummy I am !

ooh, and I also used this tutorial as a reference too.  Soap making looks like so much fun.  I'm gearing up to make some more already.

By the way, are you feeling crunchy ??
haha...what do YOU use to wash your face with?  I've used all sorts of things from the kitchen cupboard - or fridge -  like buttermilk and sour cream.  But now I'm using honey.  Why would you pay money for a cleanser with chemicals in it, when you can use something you already have at home - honey ! Honey has heaps of beneficial properties and you can find them  at
this blog and see if it works for you.  I've been washing my face with honey for a week now, and I'm loving it.  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Food glorious food...

Remember these chillis from the other day??

Well they were really hot  and  REALLY good.  So here's my recipe:

Lacto Fermented Chillis

1 cup small red chillis
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp whey

Blend everything and spoon into a small jar and leave at room temperature for 3 days then refrigerate.

  How easy is that ??

Now, my chillis were a bit chunky as I don't have a proper blender - I used my stick blender.  I imagine with a 'real' blender you'd end up with a very smooth consistency - I kinda like it with texture.

TIP:  I filled my jar to the top and by the end of day 2 it had 'grown' and overflowed a little.  So I had to scoop some out.  Don't overfill your jar !

I've been mixing my chilli sauce with this lacto fermented tomato sauce recipe.  It is so yummy !  Have a go at making this sauce, because I'm sure it's about as close as you'll get to the real thing, and my kids haven't even noticed the difference - have yet to find the courage to try it out on the man in my house !!  Maybe I'll have to sneak some into the regular sauce bottle and gradually increase the ratio he! he! 

Remember these ???

well today they ended up in here.  They were so fresh and so green I just had to pick them to make some pesto.

Here's my recipe:

Basil Pesto

in a food processer, mix together

a BIG handful of basil leaves

a BIG handful of parmesan cheese

a handful of pine nuts

a couple of tablespoons olive oil

sea salt to taste

Enjoy !!

Here's what Ruby and her friends did this morning...

Mixing and singing...a little bit of love makes everything taste better !

my little girl REALLY wants to join in

so she got to eat the first cupcake...

while the rest got some special attention.


I love youtube....

You can learn anything on youtube, seriously, it's so cool !!!

I love how random people blog about something they just whipped up today, and often they're referring to something they either knitted or crocheted (is that how you spell it ?).  Well I have tried knitting and it just doesn't seem to happen for me - maybe I'll try it again in a few years time.  But crochet, now there's something I might be able to do!  So I looked up a tutorial on youtube - and there are heaps of them, so take your pick!  I learnt how to do a chain stitch and a single crochet, and then I had a go at this....

Check out my beautiful model wearing her new mum-made headband !!

It's not perfect, and I didn't expect it to be - started with 8 stitches across and by the time I got to the end, there were only 5 across, but hey, it's not really that obvious, and Marlise loves wearing it !

So now I'm a confident crochet- er, of sorts, the next thing to learn was a double crochet worries !  Back to youtube.  I learnt how to do it, then put it into practice making a dish cloth.

Aren't they pretty !!  Ok, so I got excited and made 2.  And I can't say I just whipped  them up today, coz it took a few hand got tired after  a few rows on the first one, so I had to pace myself, but the 2nd one was so much easier.

I tried one out this morning, and hey ! it works !  Did I really expect it not to? 

 It feels wonderfully satisfying to be able to use something that I made myself - something that's reusable, something that saves money.

And it feels even better that I can add something new to my list of "things I don't have to buy from the shops.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

never underestimate a 4 year old...

Ruby was bored today, so she told me to go to sleep - so that I couldn't see what she was doing - hmmm don't have to tell me twice !  So while I was 'sleeping' she cleaned up the lounge room - picked up all her toys, and put everything in its place.  Then she went outside and lined up all the shoes outside the door and collected the bikes and dolls prams and stuff and put them away...all nice and tidy !  Wow, I was impressed.  So I 'woke' up but she told me to go back to sleep because she was going to cook me an apple pie...ok???  

For the first time ever, I let her run free in the kitchen.  Cringed silently when she started spooning flour into a bowl, followed by sugar...then she asked me to grate the apple coz it was too hard.  Suggested she add something wet to her bowl, so she went to the fridge and found some buttermilk and an egg.

And the reason why I titled this never underestimate a 4 year old ???  When I wasnt looking, Ruby cracked the egg and separated the egg white, leaving the yolk in the shell !  Why ??  well who knows...she's seen me do it a thousand times and asked if she could but I've always said no, it''s too hard for you...well, eat my words !

Anyway, back to the apple pie, the mixture looked really good, so I suggested making it into muffins instead of a pie.  Yep, she was happy with that - 4 muffins, and 25 mins later, they looked awesome ! I couldn't believe it ! They rose nice and high (she used SR flour coz it was at the front of the cupboard), and you know what - they tasted really good !  I still can't believe it ! MY 4 year old cooked muffins without a recipe!!  She's following hot on the heels of her Aunty Jana who used make yummy cakes using a dodgy ingredients list when she was little too !

In all the excitement, I forgot to take photos of the muffins, but here are some recent pics from home.

they love being in the kitchen

mmmm..strawberry, blueberry and kefir iceblocks

more food....licking the chopstick is almost as good as licking the spoon !

making tortillas

ahhhh this is the life !

Monday, October 10, 2011

a little spot of gardening...

Look at this beautiful fresh lettuce picked straight from our garden.  After eating this, why would you want to go back to buying lettuce at the shop ?  If you look carefully you'll also see some fresh parsley and a leaf of vietnamese mint - I love that stuff !  So I'm playing it a bit by ear with my vegie far so good, only got lettuce and a few herbs going...and have to keep everything in pots as we are renting. 

The other day, we came home and the kids next door had an armful of empty plant pots.  Apparently the guy next door to them was having a massive clean up and was getting rid of stuff   -  "Do you want some pots too?" ...well hello !!!!!  of course !!!!!  So I sent Ruby over with them and they came back with a whole pile of pots.  Exactly what I needed !!  Now it's time to get some seeds.  Thought it would be more rewarding to try and plant seeds...we'll see how we go hey !

Ruby planting seeds...parsley, pak choi and lettuce.  She was being so careful ! and counted all the tiny seeds before she planted them.

The parsley seeds were stuck to cardboard spikes and she just had to push them in - clever huh! 

Our basil is doing really well...looking forward to lots of pesto!

more basil...some rosemary cuttings and stevia

parsley and some of the lettuce

As I'm writing this, Ruby is outside chatting to our neighbour while he is servicing his car, i hope the poor guy can concentrate on what he is doing coz she talks non-stop !

I bought a bag of chillis on Saturday at the markets - not really sure why - they looked so nice and red !  I don't cook with chilli because the kids don't like it, but I do like a bit of chilli mixed in with whatever I'm eating.  So, I decided to have a go at making a lacto fermented chilli sauce.

These are the ingredients I used.  Chilli's, salt, sugar, garlic and whey.

I put everything into a jug and blended with the bamix.  A blender would have been so much better though, or maybe just a taller jug - the seeds kept flying out and the fumes were getting right up my nose ...not pleasant !

Anyway, it ended up looking like this...

all I can say's VERY hot.  Maybe I should have looked up a recipe, maybe I should have added something else ?  I'll let it ferment for a few days and see how it goes.  If it's OK, I'll post the recipe.