Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Best Baked Beans

This is a really tasty version of baked beans that is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe.  It makes a great Sunday breakfast, lunch with salad, nacho topping or side dish.  This is what baked beans should taste like.
I am preserving some of this batch in my Fowlers jars as a bit of an experiment as it it is easy to make this in big batches.  The recipe calls for Cannellini Beans but as we are doing our stockpile challenge I used Borlotti Beans and it worked just as well.

Best Baked Beans

4 Tbl Olive Oil
4 Onions
2 Heaped Tsp Smoked Paprika
3 Large Dried Chillies (Chipotle) or
5 Small Dried Chillies (I get mine from an Asian grocer)
50 gm Butter
750 gm Dried Cannellini Beans or
6 Tins Cnnellini Beans
1200 gm Diced Tomatoes
2 Tbl Tomato Paste
3 Tbl Golden Syrup
2 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar
3 Bay Leaves
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Ground White Pepper

Soak your Beans overnight then drain and rinse.  Cover with fresh water and cook till soft then drain off most of the liquid and set aside.  (If you are using tinned beans you do not need to drain them.)
In a large pan put the oil and cook the onions over a medium heat till soft.  Turn the heat down and add the paprika and cook for another few minutes.
While you are doing this boil the jug and soak your dried chillies in 500 ml of boiling water
Add the butter and once melted add the rest of the ingredients except the chillies.  Stir everything to combine and set over a low heat.
Remove the chillies from the water ad add the water to the pan.  Dice the chillies finely and add to the pan. The heat should be low enough that bubbles are just coming to the surface occasionally.  Cook like this for an hour.
Taste and adjust your seasoning if required then enjoy.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wet Wet Wet

Well yet again we are flooded in.  We have had another 200mls of rain in the last 2 days and it is still raining. So at this stage I have no photos of our latest farming adventures.  But once I can get a break in the weather so I can get out there with the camera I will post about it.
 Jessie finds it very hard to stay out of the rain as she still has bundles of energy to burn.  Which means that we also spend time in the rain with her.  Thankfully a hot bath full to the brim is not an issue.
Hope you are high and dry where you are.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Joel Salatin Polyface Farming Masterclass

On Saturday I attended a day long course all about Pastured Beef and Pork presented by Joel Salatin who is is internationally respected for his farm's innovative, integrated animal systems.  And what a great day it was.

Joel Salatin is a world-leading example of how a small family farm can become an extremely diverse and profitable Local Food producer, and how the benefits of Local Food Systems can create resilience, stability and abundance for both local farmers and the wider community.  You can visit his farm Polyface here.

During the day we learnt about:

  • Polyface's 'Salad Bar Beef' systems, which improve the land while producing great joel with pigs'beyond organic' beef
  • Polyface's pigearator systems, using pigs as compost turners over winter
  • Polyface's forested pig systems, and how they are regenerating the landscape while producing great pork
  • Polyface's innovative direct marketing and buying club systems for getting the above products to market.

It was a big day with over 200 attendees but Joel was a generous and entertaining host.  Hubby was working so it was just me who attended and I am so glad I did.  I learnt a lot and it will really help when it comes to planning our new property in New Zealand.
Joel presenting on Saturday
In the mean time we have decided to implement at least one idea here on the farm straight away which I will expand on in another post as I want to tell the whole story.
The day was supported by a number of groups including Food Connect.  They had set up a number of displays at the venue.  Food Connect are all about connecting the farmers with the customers and are currently available in both Brisbane and Sydney.  It is really worth checking out the service they offer if you live in one of these cities.

I met some great people on the day and would really have liked to have attended the other 2 days but I had work commitments   The day really re-energized me in my beliefs about the importance of knowing where my food is sourced, how it is produced and buying locally.  So you can probably expect a bit of that to flow into my posts in the near future.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Calling All Melbourne Lovers

At the end of March Hubby and are heading to Melbourne for a few days.  I won the trip at work and so now we are considering what to do.  We will be in Melbourne for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday.

We are staying in the CBD and will be using public transport.  We have no plans other than to visit the Holocaust Museum at some stage.

So I want to hear from you if you live in or know Melbourne and have some ideas about must do/see/eat/visit places please let me know.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Salmon Flan

This is such a great recipe and works well as a lunch or light dinner with salad.  It is really easy and you can use tuna instead of salmon.  If you have not made your own pastry before then give this one a go (although you do not need a food processor I find it gives me the best result) as it is really easy.

Salmon Flan

Short Crust Pastry

1 1/5 Cups Plain Flour
100gm Salted Butter
4-8 Tbsp Cold Water
Ice Cubes

Dice the butter into small cubes and return to the fridge.  Add a couple of ice cubes to 1/2 a cup of water and set to the side.  Sift your flour into your food processor with the chopping blade, add your diced butter and pulse until the mix looks like coarse breadcrumbs.  Or sift into a bowl if you are doing it by hand and add your diced butter the rub the mixture together using your fingers. Add the cold water 1 Tbsp at a time until the mix just holds together.  Wrap the mix in cling wrap and place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Flan Filing

5 Eggs
300ml Pouring Cream
1/4 Tsp Salt
14 Tsp White Pepper
1 Small Onion
1/2 Cup Grated Tasty Cheese
200 - 400 gm Tinned Salmon or Tuna (what ever you have on hand)

Heat oven to 220 degrees Celsius   With a fork beat together eggs, cream, salt and pepper.  Dice the onion really finely until the onion is turning to mush and add to the egg mix along with the onion.  Drain the fish and retain the juice.  If the fish has a lot of bones you can remove them then mash the fish with a fork.  Add the fish and 1/2 of the liquid to the egg mix and mix to combine.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll thinly.  Line a 20 -25cm flan dish and trim off the excess which can be frozen for later use.
Pour filling into pastry lined flan dish and bake at 220 degrees for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180 degrees and bake a further 15 minutes or until the filling is just et in the middle.

Serve hot or warm with salad.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A Stockpile Challenge Pt 5

Well here we are 19 days in to the challenge and 28 days since I did a "normal" shop and so far I have spent $15.75.
I am starting to think that shopping will be different from now on.  This challenge has really opened my eyes to where we waste food, where I fail to be creative with ingredients and how much variety a few ingredients can provide.  In fact I think we are eating really well.
Last week I made an eggplant and macaroni lasagne which lasted us most of the week teamed up with salad.
I made up a meat mix loaded with our home grown capsicums and tomatoes, then I sliced home grown eggplants into 1cm thick slices and made a white sauce loaded with parsley.
Then it was all about the layers.  Eggplant, meat, white sauce, macaroni and repeat.

Then I retrieved and very hard and slightly mouldy block of parmesan from the fridge.  After trimming off all the surfaces to get rid of the mould I grated it on the top.  Let me just say it was a hit.

At the end of last week I had to got to Brisbane for a few days for work.  While I was down there I decided to go the Rocklea Farmers Market and buy Tomatoes for preserving.

I had to really stop and think about if I should buy them or not since I am doing this no shopping challenge.
Hubby and I talked it over and we decided that we should buy them now regardless of the challenge for a couple of reasons.
1. This challenge is self imposed and there are no prizes (other than the money saved and the pantry clean out)
2. Tomatoes are currently cheap to buy and even cheaper from the markets but will not remain so.
3. It is a 260km round trip to go to the markets from home vs an additional 30km since I was already in Brisbane.
4. Since all the of tomatoes were destined for preserving and we still have a few jars in the pantry they will not form part of our meals this month.
So I purchased 2 x 10kg boxes of roma tomatoes.
Hubby helped me dice them up and each 10 kg box completely filled my 12 litre stock pot once they were all diced up.
And once bottled up I ended up with 20 x 1 litre jars and another litre that I froze in small portions.
So although the challenge this month is to put a dent in the stockpile this lot will keep us going for quite a while but I don't feel bad about it.  This is the sort of stockpiling that will allow us to continue to shop frugally in the future.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Stockpile Challenge Pt 4

Well so far so good.

I am aiming to spend as little as I can this month and this is forcing me to really think about the options I have for the ingredients we already have rather than adding them to the shopping list.

The last time I shopped for food of any sort was on January 22nd.  Since then we have been eating from the stockpile.
Last week I had a few onions,mushrooms, carrots, capsicums and eggplant left in the fridge.  We had stir fry for a couple of nights then we needed a break from all the eggplant and capsicum(these are the only thing growing in the garden and they are thriving).  So I made a Beef Bourguignonne which is an odd dish to have at this time of the year but it was so very tasty and a great way to use up a few mushrooms and a couple of carrots.
On Saturday I went to the green grocer to top up our supply of fruit and vegetables.
I had set a maximum allowance of $15 per week to top up fresh fruit, vegetables and milk and this is the first time I have shopped since January 22nd.  You can see below what I purchased and coming in at a total of $15.75 I am really happy with the result.  I am sure I can make a weeks worth of meals from this lot.
Because this challenge is for all 3 meals a day I have made sure that we have so snacks ready for the coming week.  I made Bran Muffins and some Cheese and Sweet Chilli Sourdough scrolls.

Then for Sunday lunch and dinner I made a Salmon Flan.  It is something I remember eating as  a child but not something I had ever attempted.  It was really easy and delicious as well and there is enough for lunch again tomorrow too.  I will post the recipe later this week.
What have you been baking lately?

Saturday, 9 February 2013

I Don't Remember Buying That

I know supermarkets are constantly expanding their range but I am not sure what to do with this "ingredient"...

On second thoughts it is way too cute to cook.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Crystal Waters Permaculture Community

At the beginning of the year Hubby an I were able to visit Crystal Waters, a Permaculture Community in the Sunshine Coast hinterland and about 35 minutes from where we live.  I have been learning a lot about permaculture and how we can apply the principles in our life.

We had organised to take a tour of the community with the lovely Robin Clayfield.  Robin has a vast amount of experience in the world of permaculture  and has lived at Crystal Waters for many years.

At the start of our tour Robin showed us plans and photos of what the property looked like before the village  was built.  She showed us how the plans has drawn on permaculture to design the layout and features including where dams and roads would be built.

Robin took us to look at some of the home within the community and showed us different ways that permaculture had been used to design the homes.
The weather was roasting and at that stage we had not had rain for months so we toured from shady spot to shady spot.
One of the homes we saw had been built with a grass roof (above photo).  I wondered how the owners were able to collect rain water but then Robin pointed out the stone edging (below photo).
Robin and Hubby
We looked at how some residents had built food forests around their homes, others had used fruit trees in their landscaping instead of ornamentals.
We talked about the shared spaces and small businesses that had been trialled and/or established in the community   It was a fascinating tour and Robin was an excellent tour guide.
There was a lot of information to take in and it has given us a lot to talk about since.  We are in the process of trying to learn as much as we can before we move to NZ so that when we are planning our property design we end up with things in the best place.
We are not moving for a year or so which is good because I think we still have a lot to learn. 

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Lovely Golden Melons

One of the few things that is growing in the garden at the moment are some lovely watermelon.  These are golden midget from Diggers.
The skin is a lovely butter yellow colour and the fruit are quite small which makes it great for just the two of us. Apparently they are quite well suited to cooler climates too.
The flesh is lovely and sweet too.

As with all heirloom watermelon these are not seedless.  So I have some to give away to anyone in Australia.
Please email me if you would like some feebegood at hotmail dot com

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Stock Pile Challenge Pt 3

Yesterday's post prompted a comment from Linda wondering if I had stocked up before undertaking this challenge.  This made me realise that I had not addressed that point in my previous posts.

So just to clarify before starting this challenge I did not stock up on anything. The last time I shopped was the  22nd of January.   This challenge formed in my mind over the Australia day long weekend when we were flooded in.  And what I really wanted to know was, if without warning, we could not get to the shops how long could we last.

Linda also mentioned flour, and yep I have loads.  At a guess there is 2 kg Plain Flour, 2 kg Self Raising Flour, 500gm Wholemeal flour, 1 kg of 000 Flour, 4 kg Spelt Bread Flour, 4 kg Rye Bread Flour, 3 kg Wholemeal Bread Flour and 2 kg White Bread Flour.  Heavens that is a lot of flour for 2 people who would be lucky to get through a loaf  of bread a week.

So in the spirit of transparency here are our stockpiles... prepare your self...
324 Lt Chest Freezer - Filled with meat from the cow we had killed.
There are also blocks of chicken stock (the blocks on top and in the ice cream container)
There are also lots of frozen diced tomatoes.

This our second  225lt chest freezer. This one has the last of the meat chickens
we killed last year, frozen fruit and veggies, a spare loaf of supermarket bread and
general odds and ends.
The freezer above the fridge - More chicken stock, frozen leftovers,
ice, butter, crusts to make into bread crumbs, pastry
and a bag of frozen bananas
The freezer door - More frozen bananas, tomato paste, yeast
and cheese cultures
I don't actually like bananas but I hate waste so when they get soft and hubby won't eat them a freeze them.  I will have to use some to make a banana cake or banana bread.
Inside the fridge
The pantry - sauce and spice city
The pantry - Flour, legumes, carbohydrates, baking goods, crackers
seeds and nuts
Preserves, cereals and tinned foods
 Any way so you can see with your own eyes, this is why I think we could survive for a while.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Stock Pile Challenge Pt 2

For the month of February I am undertaking a challenge to see how long we can go without shopping.

I have allowed $15 a week for milk, fresh fruit and vegetables but really we will be aiming not to have to use this.
I should point out that this challenge includes all meals, with the exception of 2 birthday dinners that we are attending during the month.  We do not buy lunches and always take our own and living in the country takeaway is not something that features on the menu.

So far I have been working out our meals and any baking from what needs to be used up first.  I have made a carrot cake and used up some cream cheese in the icing.
Carrot Cake
We have also had oven roasted capsicums and grilled eggplant from the garden and hummus made from chickpeas from the pantry.
I had there have also been 2 frozen leftovers meals from the freezer.

Over the weekend bread was baked and yoghurt was made.  After all the rain we had last weekend the asparagus decided to send up a whole lot of new shots which we enjoyed grilled with poached eggs on the weekend.
I am feeling really positive about how things are going so far but then again it is only day 4.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Slow Living January 2013

Linking up with Christine again this month.  I am really glad that she is hosting this again this year it is great to hear what everyone is up to.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
There has not been much baking this month as I still had a few batches of muffins and biscuits in the freezer. But as usual all of our meals are being cooked from scratch.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
I have been dicing and freezing capsicum for use through winter when the prices go through the roof.  I have also made up a huge batch of chicken stock that is now frozen in 500ml blocks in the freezer.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
Not much going on in this area at the moment.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
Well the use of home made cleaners continues, it's a pity that the cleaning part has to happen too.
Lista Gandia eggplant and golden midget watermelon
Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The tomatoes didn't make it through the floods but the peppers, eggplants and melons are still going strong.
I also have a crop of rosellas coming along nicely.
Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I am still practising my knitting and have been making birthday cards and doing scrap booking..

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I am still reading books by the dozen so it was good to get to the bookfest with my best friend.  I have been reading a few fictional books and I also read Food Rules by Michael Pollan.  It is a quick and easy book to read and really talks about getting back to a better way of eating.

Enhance Community
Planning for this years Classic Car Show is under way again and we have a meeting this week with our Mayor to discuss how the council can help and how he can help as well.  Our Mayor is a motoring enthusiast and was one of last years judges.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
January was a quieter month with time spent at home with hubby which was a nice thing indeed.

What have you been up to?

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Stock Pile Challange

Over the Australia Day long weekend we were flooded in and we had a few of our friends ask if we were going to be ok.  They were concerned about if we were going to have enough to eat and drink if we could not get to the shops for a few days.  We reassured them we were fine (which we were)  as we had been through worse than this back in 2011. I even joked to a few of them that we could survive for a few months out of our pantry.
And that is when I started to really think about the stock pile of food we have in the pantry. fridge and freezer.
There are at least 3 packets of dates that I know of, quite a number of packets of crackers, more tea than you can poke a stick at and some tinned fruit that has been around for more than a few years.  I also found some random ingredients at the back of the pantry including marshmallows and Turkish Delight.  I guess I was planning on making rocky road at some stage.  And don't even ask about the 20 odd frozen bananas in the freezer because i refuse to throw them out (does that happen at your place).

Are there other things that are just sitting there never getting used possibly going past their used by dates?
Are we stockpiling things that we actually hardly ever use?
Are there things that we use a lot of that we are not stockpiling and should be?

So how long could we actually get by without shopping?

My guess is quite a while.

We have 2 chest freezers, the small freezer on top of our fridge, the fridge it's self and the pantry full of food.  For two people this is quite a stockpile.
Now admittedly we had a cow butchered just before Christmas and we still have some chicken left from when we butchered our own so we have plenty of meat.
But unlike most of the country, this time of year is too hot for most veggies, so the garden is pretty bare.  There are some watermelons, capsicums, eggplants and tomatoes.  I have also just planted out another round of cucumbers and beans as the last lot got cooked in the hot weather.  But these will not be ready for a while.

So the challenge is to spend nothing on groceries for the month of February.  With one exception.  There will be a small allowance for milk, fresh fruit and vegetables of $15.00 per week and we will try not to use this if we can.  So I am not going to say we will spend nothing but what we do spend will be a small enough amount to ensure that we use up the frozen vegetables that need using up and that we really focus on wasting nothing.

I think there will be a few challenges over the coming month but I think a lot of them will all come back to organisation.  So I will really be making an effort with menu planning ahead of time. I will be getting creative in the kitchen and making sure all the odds and ends are used up.  I will also be making sure there is plenty of snacks in the form of muffins, biscuits and birdseed bars.

At the end of the month I hope to have cleared out a backlog of pantry items and frozen bananas and have a much better idea of the things we use a lot and should be stockpiling.  I will keep you posted of how things go during the month and what I discover.