Tuesday, 27 July 2010

I'm Going Bananas!

It's nice to see so many of you are wanting to make lemon cordial and lemon curd now after yesterday's post.  That makes me feel very good because now I know you aren't missing out on two of the tastiest things. They are so yummy! 

One thing I did when making the lemon curd, was I beat the eggs and left them in the fridge for ages so when I mixed them into the hot mix they had time to combine before getting too hot.  Otherwise you can end up with cooked egg white bits in the curd.  Bit odd looking. 

See my lovely red bucket of lettuces?  My mother bought them at market day on Saturday for me.  How jolly sweet of her.  How jolly sweet of my father who got the job of carrying them home too!

Well No.4 and I had another very lovely outing yesterday to Spotlight.  We bought what we needed and then headed to our fav lunch spot.  The sushi was truly divine.  Very nice indeed.  I LOVE this one, Teriyaki.  Please don't tell me if it's not good for me, I really don't want to know.  The little girl picked out a pretty pink donut for her lunch.  It's such a treat to eat out. 

On the way home we stopped to buy our fruit and vegetables.  Who could resist a box of bananas for $3?  Not me that's for sure.  So this morning I googled and found this marvelous recipe.  I must go back to the site and see what else they have, as it looks like a winner. 

I secretly made them before I got help from No.4.  Was that mean of me? 

I did let her arrange the cupcake wrappers on the bench.  Don't they look great with the granny blanket in the background?  Oh domestic life is good.  (Stop laughing mother!)

The recipe states that you can leave the eggs out if you like.  That's lucky as I forgot to add them!  I'm always doing things like that.

And it's not such a great idea to drop the whole tray when getting them out of the oven either!  Honestly I'm like an old lady sometimes.
This is how many one batch made.  But I made a double!  I want to freeze some and we are going to a friends for afternoon tea today - it's always nice to take something along I think.

Aren't they pretty?  Considering I've never liked baking, or anything to do with the kitchen, I'm spending lots of time in there.  The girls helped me fill the bread maker containers last night.  That's the best time saving thing I've thought of in years. 

Now I'm off.  I'm taking homemade bread and veggie soup to eat with my mother.  We'll take her a muffin too.  I'm thinking that I just might have to make some gluten-free ones for me.  I hate to miss out on all this good cooking.  It kills me in the weekend when I serve up freshly made bread and then reach for my two slices of frozen stuff from the freezer.  Never mind, at least I can eat all the food I'm growing in the garden. 

Goodbye for now my sweeties!  Have a good day and thanks for coming to visit me again. 

Monday, 26 July 2010

Juicy Lemons

What a fabulous weekend I've had.  The weather was just perfect.  Warm and inviting.  What better thing to do than get outside in the garden.  I found some yummy things to do inside on my breaks too.  Lemon curd is a favourite with our girls.  Of course the homemade variety wins every time for flavour. 

My two bags of lemons have been reduced to three lemons.  On Saturday I made a batch of lemon curd and then lemon cordial.  It was so much fun I repeated it all on Sunday.  What easy recipes they both are. 

The girls all had turns rolling them around the bench to make them more juicy and then squeezing them. 
I'll give you the recipes if you like as they are so simple.  For the lemon cordial you need:

Juice and zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 cups boiling water

Place all in a large bowl and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Strain when cool and bottle.  
To drink, use one part cordial to two parts water.   

Lemon Curd:

100g butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
100ml lemon juice
175g castor sugar
3 eggs - beaten lightly

Combine all but the eggs in a pan.  Heat while stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and add the beaten eggs stirring constantly.  Return to low heat until thickened slightly.  This stage doesn't take long at all.  Pour in two jars and refrigerate. 

And this is where my lemon tree is going to go, up there.  Of course hubby is going to be busy trying to pull those bushes out first.  I think there will be room for a manderin tree too.  The girls can't eat enough of those.

I have added some stepping stones to this garden.  It was getting a bit tricky to get to the weeds at the back.  Now it's just perfect and ready for my spring planting. 

I found the planter boxes got too hot and dry last summer so this time around I will plant flowers and herbs in them.  Geraniums, Nasturiums, Salvias are sounding colourful.  I'll be growing loads of herbs and flowers around the garden, when I have my fruit trees in, to attract the bees.   

I've found room for several trees; an apple, pear, plum and of course the
lemon and mandarin. I'll have to get double or triple grafted apple and pear trees for pollination.  I really don't have room for two apple trees and two pear trees.  Does anyone have any of these and can tell me if they do well?  Otherwise I'll probably just get two different apple trees if it means more fruit.

It's all been rather exciting in the garden.  I've not done a bit of sewing at all in weeks.  But I must do some soon as I've promised the school that I will teach sewing for senior electives.  It sounds rather exciting really.  I have to get my projects organised for them soon.  Nice and simple ones as they probably won't know how to sew at all.

Now I'd better be off.  No.4 and I are going to Spotlight to see what's on special.  I quite fancy some sushi for lunch too!  Hope you had a lovely weekend too.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Flowers For You!

You lovely ladies are all so sweet with your wonderful comments, that I've gone out into our garden and picked you, yes you, a little posy of flowers.  Not bad for the middle of winter is it?  Honestly our winter is just pathetic this year.  Some days we go out without jumpers or jackets on it's so warm.  Most days it's at least 16 degrees on the weather report.  Don't get me wrong here, I'm very much not complaining!

Remember I showed you the Homegrown Magazine last time?  Well at the back of it I found there more in titles in the series.  I have since got my mother to order the first Homegrown and the fruit tree one.  She subscribes to their monthly magazine so is able to get these at a much discounted rate.  She also has a great stack of the magazines for me to pick up and read through.  I just love the layout of them and the very useful info they contain.  Lots of ideas, recipes, hints and practical advice.  I must buy their garden dairy too when it comes out. 

Now I'm never going back to buying pre-grown plants after seeing just how quickly my seeds have grown.  Just look at my sweet babies!  All the trays but one have sprouted.  I am learning so much about gardening that sometimes I can sound quite intelligent when asked a question.  Imagine that?

Just before nodding off the other night, I suddenly had a super duper idea.  I just had to wake hubby up and tell him.  I thought, why do we have a pretty blossom tree when we can have an apple tree in it's place.  Well why wouldn't you?  Luckily he whole heartily agreed with me. 

I'm hanging apples off this tree anyway, imagine having apples that we could pick and eat.  You can get triple grafted trees which have three varieties on the same tree.  How neat is that?  I've got ideas about buying a pear tree with two different pear varieties (that would truly be a pair tree then!) and a lemon tree too.

These lemons were an absolute bargain so I am going to use them to make lemon curd and lemon cordial.  Homemade is so much tastier and I really enjoy that sort of cooking. 

My new green scheme is going very well thank you, only one hiccup when I forgot to take my bag into the shop.  Not to worry, I have systems now!  It's amazing just how quickly the shop people pop stuff in bags.  You practically have to tell them upfront that you have your own bags. 

My little one and I went supermarket shopping after visiting the plant shop this morning.  It's a brilliant plant shop.  They have a trampoline, two rabbits that she was allowed to feed, and fish.  It's a special outing to go there.  We must remember that it takes well over one hour to buy a packet of seeds and a bag of garden mix in future!

Anyway back to the supermarket, just look at how little I bought there.  There's a bag of garden mix in there too. What you see is what I bought.  A few bulk items to save money and packaging of course.  That's my shopping done for another week.

There was really not much in my trolley at all and it came to $174 which isn't much at all considering we are a family of six.  I am buying my fruit and veggies at a newly discovered shop, much cheaper and great quality.  Next week I am going to buy pears and bottle them.  I'd hand over the meal cooking any day but I love preserving food.  Is that strange?

I've just been eating my chicken salad while typing to you.  Doesn't it look good?  The salad leaves were from market day last Saturday. I hadn't been there for so long and it was lovely to be back buying locally grown delights.  My veggies last very well because I have wonderful Tupperware containers that keep the food fresh for well over a week.  Worth every cent I spent on them.  And they cost quite a few cents too!  Took hubby a wee while to get over that purchase last year. 

Anyway must go and pick up those mags.  It's nice to know so many of you are also very good recyclers and gardeners too.  See you!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Rubbish is Not a Disposable Item

It all started with this book...

which has some fantastic chapters on shopping, recycling, green cleaning and growing your own vegetables.  As you may know, I am now cleaning with baking soda, salt and white vinegar with fabulous results.  I take bags with me on all shopping expeditions, so there is no reason to collect yet another plastic bag.  I've even taken goods out of bags and left them at the counter.  Do I get a gold star for that? 

This NZ Gardener magazine style book was gifted to my mother after sending them a recipe.  It's such a great read.  I read nearly all of it in one sitting.  Anyway now I am thinking what we can do to reduce wastage, packaging and money and lead a simple life eating more natural products instead of packaged ones. 

My hen hopes have been dashed due to regulations in our area.  Seems you need them to be ten metres from a house and three metres from a boundary fence.  That means they would be in negative space.  Now we wouldn't want that for some feathery friends would we? 

In our area we are all given a huge 240 litre wheelie bin for our recycling.  That's always been a great thing for us, as we sure put out a fair bit of paper and plastic each fortnight.  But I still feel bad about the amount of packaging that goes in there each day.  Honestly the bin is packed to the brim.  So...

from now on when I visit the supermarket I need to remember to take my bags with me, including the bulk bin ones.  If I buy from the bulk bins with recycled bags I will not be consuming any packaging at all.  If I buy other goods in bulk there will be less packaging in the long run.  It's not always cheaper, but perhaps if we make a fuss about it things will change.  And I'm hoping that our bin will be much lighter next collection day.  I'll keep you informed on that one.

I will bake all our bread so I won't be left with a bread bag each day.  I've worked out a really quick and easy way to make the bread too.  I filled five ice cream containers with all the dry ingredients minus the yeast.  So now when I want to make a loaf I just have to empty a container into the maker, add water, oil and the yeast.  All done in 30 seconds!  You can't beat the heavenly smell of it cooking and I know it's better for our family too.

Warning, real life photo ahead!!!!!!!!!!!

These bins now reside on our bench.  It's our food scraps and egg shell collection points.  All scraps, minus fats and meats, end up in here instead of down the sink.  The drain will thank me for that too as it regularly blocks up.  (Hubby too for that matter!) 

The plot to the far right is now my dig-in compost plot.  I'm going for this method as I don't want to buy a compost bin.  It should keep the smells away too.  The rest of the garden is looking pretty flash too after a day in the garden yesterday.  I found 22 self seeded lettuces too under the mass of weeds - bonus!  Oh and plenty of parsley plants too. 

A trip to the garden centre provided me with loads of seed packets.  There is plenty of time to start with seeds instead of buying punnets.  Besides I have so many empty punnets behind the shed waiting to be recycled. 

Shhh, the babies are sleeping in the nursery.  Daughter No.1 helped me plant the seeds and made name tags for them out of recycled yoghurt lids. 

I was finding The Challenge of the Utmost Kind a little unchallenging, (probably because of all the clauses I added!) so I am hoping that this will be more challenging for me.  I'm just going about it quietly and trying to make it a normal everyday life thing.  Feel free to join me if you think you need to improve in this area.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Tea Party

Well we had our special 'T' Party last night and it was great fun for all.  The girls and I had spent many hours coming up with the perfect menu for the dinner.  We started the evening with a cold glass of Lipton ice tea.  I can't say it was very popular with all, but clearly the littlest one is a tea lover - well she is part English after all!

For starters we served chips, or crisps for you English lasses.  No we didn't cheat, the packet clearly stated Thick chips and Thin chips

The main meal was Terakihi fish, Triangle cut chips, with tomatoes and tomato sauce.

And on to the best part - pudding.  Treats of pineapple lumps (leftover from the movie earlier in the week), Toffee PopsTiny Teddies... 

Neenish Tarts, Tingles, Timtams...

Nana's Truffles with sultanas and covered in coconut...

and a special treat of Turkish Delight.  I love it, but clearly I was on my own.  Not to worry, I know how to polish it off.  It was a good chance for the girls to try a few new things.  Oh and I nearly forgot, the toffee apples I showed you yesterday!  They were a little tricky to eat but a lovely treat as we haven't had one for years.  I sure felt like a kid again muching on one. 

And the best way to finish off the lovely evening was to have a nice hot cuppa tea.  Just perfect.  We also gave out gifts.  Each person bought one gift for a chosen person.  I was given a very handy set of buttons from the bargain store - how handy.  And that bought us to the end of a terrific evening. I wonder what next year's letter will be?

Today I am trying out my bread maker for making marmalade.  Apparently it's easy.  Just cut your fruit and add sugar.  Well it beeped that it was finished but I don't think so!  It's back on for another cycle.  Has anyone had any success with this?

And at the same time a load of soup is on.  I'll be needing this with the wet, cold weather that is back today.  Still we won't complain, we've had it so good these holidays.

Well that's about me done for the day.  Hope you lovelies are all having a good day.  Bye for now, Sarah xx

Thursday, 15 July 2010

T for Terrific!

Just popping in to say "hi everyone".  The weather has been quite spectacular these holidays and we have been out and about most days this week.  You really would think it were Spring it's so warm.  OK the mornings are a bit chilly with frosts in some places, but I'd rather have that than the grotty rain we were having for weeks on end. 

So what have we been up to you ask?  Well we've been to feed the ducks at the Domain (home of Botanic Gardens and Museum), climbed trees,

found out where bananas really come from, built sandcastles at the beach, ate ice blocks, been to Shrek the movie, had more sleepovers,

eaten out, make two pathetic volcanoes, taken books out of the library,

written speeches for school, made toffee apples for the first time, cleaned the pantry, done loads of washing, discovered the joy of cleaning with baking soda and vinegar,

spent a little 'me time' on the sewing machine and having a bit of fun with the alphabet,

and generally keeping rather busy.  And yes, now I am tired.  I need a little rest this afternoon.  Oh and we have the 'T' Party to prepare for tonight.  We have been out to the supermarkets in search of 'T' goodies today and we found quite a nice selection too.  The girls are excited about their feast and their 'treat' each too.  

Next time I'll have to show you what we ate at the party.  And no it won't be pancakes and corn fritters!  I'm thinking of making these into a tea towel wall hanging.  Don't you get annoyed at having to get out the same recipes all the time?  Well now I won't have to.  I still have quite a few to stitch and they are terribly time consuming, but fun.

Golly three year olds are funny!  No.4 has just come out all grotty because her biggest sister wants to watch Harry Potter and she wants to watch one of the girls movies.  Little girl ones she means.  The face and talking is too funny.  She does pretend cross very well these days. 

Anyway must be off.  Stuff to do.  Potatoes to peel.  Fights to sort out.  The joy of holidays is wearing off!!  But I am enjoying having all my girls at home with me really.  See you next time!