Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Great Wardrobe Clear Out of 2014

Over the last 10 months I have been loosing weight slowly but surely and have so far lost over 30kg.  I won't go into all the ins and outs of it, but the excess weight was mainly due to a medical condition.  However when you add a office job and a love of cooking and eating it was a bad combination.
The medical condition has now been addressed through medical intervention and this along with a reduction in calories has facilitated the weight loss.  

This has resulted in my wardrobe getting a great big clean out.  So far I have cleared out over 70% of my clothes and I am looking at getting rid of more all the time.
Every week I go back to my wardrobe and review everything again as some clothes have been harder to get rid of than others.  Some items  that were hard to get rid of were clothes that were still in really good condition and others were items that I really liked.  For a while I was tried to convince myself that I would wear them again or would alter them.  I was kidding myself in 99% of cases.

At this stage I have now gotten rid of all of my winter clothes with the exception of a few woolen items that can be layered with other clothes.
I have also gotten rid of most of my summer clothes except for farm clothes as those do not matter if they are baggy and unflattering and just add a belt to pants that are too big and you are good to go.

I have not been replacing things except where absolutely necessary and I have made a decision to dramatically reduce the number of clothes I own moving forward.
I still have more clothes than I need and therefore I am going to just keep giving a few away every week to the Op shop until I feel that my wardrobe has slimmed down (excuse the pun) to a more minimal collection.

I must say I never thought I had that many clothes but once I started getting rid of some I realised I was wrong.  Perhaps I did not have many compared to a lot of people but I still had far more than what I actually need.

I am not sure how few clothes I can get away with but I am on my way to finding out.

Has anyone else dramatically scaled back their wardrobe?  
How many/few clothes do you own?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Petition and Belinda The Single Fish

I received this email today and there is the opportunity for you to have your say about the proposed development.
I just added my thoughts about the project on the electronic submission form at this link.  It is not difficult all you have to do is add a few of your thoughts and feelings about the proposed development to the form and send it off.  If you have time please take the time to add your voice. 
And check out the clip below, it is very clever.

 "Once again the Government is trying to fast-track the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. Environment Minister Greg Hunt given a ludicrously short window for the public to comment on plans to dump millions of cubic metres of dredge spoil on a Great Barrier Reef wetland.
If approved, construction in the wetlands could begin as early as January 2.
The dredging and dumping is to facilitate mining giant Adani's Abbot Point coal port expansion. Adani has been unable to secure funding for the project yet, and there's a chance it may never go ahead. Meaning that dredging of seabed and dumping on the wetlands could happen for no reason at all.
It's time for our Government to stop fast-tracking the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.
Can you please make a submission and ask for our Reef to be protected? Our Government needs to understand how unpopular these decisions are with the Australian public.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Gardening at 87

While we were in New Zealand I got to spend some time with my maternal grandparents.  The still live in the own home at 85 (my Nan) and 87 (my Pop) and are both still very active especially my Nan who plays golf, bowls, goes swimming and boogie boarding in summer, rides her bike and even still skis in winter and even has a ski pass booked for next year when she will be 86.

My Pop has always been a gardener and for as long as I can remember he has been growing amazing potatoes, awesome pumpkin crops, and huge cauliflower, cabbages and lettuces and so many other veggies.  When they moved from their 8 acres to their city section we all wondered which of all the small bits of lawn would be sacrificed for his veggie patch.  You see the section is flat where the house is but the back drops away steeply which you can see in the photo below.

This is the view from the back of the house and the tree tops that you see just below the low hedge
are growing about 10m below in the gully

Well Pop just started terracing the steep bank building small garden beds separated but wind screens to slow the win that races up from the gully below.  He put in a set of steps and created a large terrace at the bottom.

Even the smallest spaces are used

Then below the large terrace he created, there are a couple of fruit trees and a grape vine planted.

The large terrace currently planted with leeks potatoes, corn silverbeet and lettuce.
There are 2 compost bins and a near vertical retaining wall to the right of the photo.
The fruit trees are planted below and you can just see the tops of them and there is a
grape vine on the other side of the wind cloth.
Their section is surrounded by native bush that grows on the sides of the gully and right up to the edge of the garden and vertical frames allow growing space to be expanded.

If you look at the bottom left of the above picture you can see that even the pathways
have more terraces added to them.

There is also another small garden squeezed in beside the garage where there is a lemon tree and a mandarin tree and a few more veggies.  The garden produces most of the vegetables that they eat and are given away to the family as well, and they are always amazing quality.

I feel blessed to have grown up in a family where providing for yourselves was just part of every day life and I hope to be gardening into my eighties as well.

Who are the gardeners in your family?

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Weekend Kitchen

It is going to sound like I was joined at the hip to the stove over the weekend but strangely I actually found time to do a whole lot of other things as well.  Now that I look back at how much I got done this weekend I am quite surprised since I was fighting off a migraine all weekend and had an afternoon nap on Saturday for a few hours.

I started this relish on Friday night as the vegetables need to be salted and drained overnight.  It is a new recipe to me that I found to try and use up some of the zucchini glut we still have.  I will post the recipe once I have tried it an I am happy with the result.

I used some lovely meaty bones from our recently killed cow to make some beef stock.

I made a test batch of Orange and Almond Biscotti which I will be giving to a few people as gifts this Christmas.  I was pretty happy with the recipe, which I adapted from my original one, and it is really easy so I will share it later this week.

I also had a go at making a Christmas cake.  I normally make a Very Boozy Christmas Pudding but this year I decided to have a go at a Christmas Cake.  I should have phoned my mum for her recipe as she makes a great Christmas Cake but I decided was too impatient and used one online.  It made a very very tall cake and it took ages to cook.  As I am still dousing it in alcohol I can't give you the verdict yet but I am hoping it will be ok.  I used the dried fruit I had on hand rather than go out and buy more because that was what the recipe indicated.  This allowed me to use up some dried fruit that I had on hand that was a bit dry and crystallised but I figured since the fruit was going to be soaked in alcohol it would plump up just the same and it did.

Mixed dried fruit that was a bit chrystallised.

The dried fruit I had on hand sultanas, currents, apricots, mixed fruit and cranberries

The cake ready to go into the oven

I also cooked up some very tasty sticky chicken wings for dinner.  These are so easy and very tasty.  I just marinade them for an hour in 1 1/2 cups of the BBQ sauce I make each year and added a table spoon of fennel seeds, 2 table spoons of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  Then I tipped the whole lot into a baking tray and covered with foil and baked at 200 degrees for 35 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes (or until sticky) basting with the sauce and turning after 10 minutes (or every 10 minutes until done).

And finally just for Lynda who I have been promising a low carb recipe, I made some baked egg cups.

I do not follow a recipe for this as I use what ever I have on hand but the basic idea is the same.

Baked Egg Cups

Grease some muffin tins and line with a ring of streaky bacon (the thin end) and then add a filling of beaten egg, salt and pepper, grated cheese. diced asparagus, finely chopped parsley and spring onions and pour into the lined muffing tins.  Bake at 180 degrees until set in the middle.

This weekend I also lined some of the muffing tins with thin strips (about 3mm thick) of zucchini and I added the bacon diced up in the middle along with a mix of creamed corn, egg, grated onion, grated cheese and parsley.

You can modify this recipe to include what ever you have on hand including diced cooked veggies and cooked meat.

What did you get up to in the kitchen this weekend?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Gingerbread Biscuits

At this time of year many people are baking gingerbread biscuits and I thought I would share my recipe.  This one uses ground cardamon as well as the ginger and I sometimes bake these during the year as well not just at Christmas. During the year I just use a non Christmas shape cutter but at Christmas I like to make these into Christmas trees.  This recipe is easy to double and the cooked biscuits freeze well.

Gingerbread Biscuits

125 gm Butter
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1/4 C Golden Syrup
1 egg Yolk
1 3/4 C Plain Flour (Sifted)
2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Tsp Ground Cardamon
1 Tsp Baking Soda

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
Cream the sugar and butter until the mix is pale and creamy then add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until well combined.
Add the dry ingredients and mix well then tip out on your bench and knead till smooth.  Roll into a large ball and wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
Remove dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured bench to about 5mm thick.  Cut out your shapes  and bake for 10-12 minutes.  When cooked allow to stand on the tray for 5 minutes before moving the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
You will need to roll out all the dough scraps as you go and if the dough gets too soft to handle just place back in the fridge for a few minutes.