Friday, 25 July 2014

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.

i usually dread it before i leave home and then end up revelling in my regular friday trip to the markets and today was no exception. the sky is sunless and grey, there is a light drizzle and a creeping cold, it would be nice to curl up with a book or a movie but the cupboards were bare so i eventually managed to steel myself and trundle off.
i have many, many times seen on the stalls large bags of partly prepared vegetables: peeled onions and chopped pumpkin, maybe other things if i had paid attention. i always regarded them as a restaurant product and then today i saw a woman pushing a trolley with a bag of cut pumpkin and something about the new context opened my eyes. pumpkin soup without all the work! i saw a new possibility in those bags. the kids love pumpkin soup but it takes so much chopping and peeling that i usually opt for something easier, could this be as good as it looked? i resolved to check out the price. it was $2, TWO dollars, for a bag of prepared pumpkin. i couldn't buy whole pumpkins for under about $4 or $5 and there wouldnt be anywhere near as much of it.
i was still on my pumpkin high when i decided i might treat myself to a handful of prawns. the fish counter was busy and i stood for a long time while some lady negotiated $5 off a $150 box of prawns. yawn. midway through this extremely painful exchange a woman came toward the counter and made a vague,
sympathetic, you-go-first kind of gesture which was weird because there was nobody available to serve us and i had been standing there for freaking ages. i made an equally vague smiley gesture and finally somebody showed up to serve me. except you-go-first-lady made an immediate and abrupt demand for some fish. i stood, slightly gobsmacked but could'nt really do much so i waited some MORE while negotiations proceeded for the $5 off the box of prawns. somewhere in all of this i thought i might not want prawns all tht much but i had waited so long i thought i would just hang in there a tiny bit longer. finally it was my turn. "Could i have about $5 worth of prawns, please?"
"no, i cant do that"
" i dont want them for $5 a kilo, i want $5 worth"
"i know, i wont sell less than half a kilo"

having been educated i was ready to say "ok, i'll have half a kilo" but she had already written me off as a bad deal and was gone, several feet away, making high powered negotiations with some other innocent.

never mind, i have my pumpkin. i should have enough for pumpkin soup, pumpkin cake, pumpkin scones, pumpkin pie and even a curry or relish. i must get to it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Love is a sacred reserve of energy; it is like the blood of spiritual evolution.

Growing up in the 70s I used to watch a bit of evening tv with mum ( I don't know why I can't remember dad in this scenario because he was home more often than not) anyways, "the good life" was one of the sit coms we would view with some regularity so I can now blame tom and barbara for developing a vague, romantic aspiration to be self sufficient.
At some stage in my younger adult life I had occasional fantasies of a grow-your-own kind of a life. And then i realised i don't really care for gardening. And i had four kids to manage and a job to go to and the supermarket became my second home. Any self sufficiency/ homesteading/ homeschooling/ sustainable living fantasy i might have had was laid aside, realising that I don't really have the commitment, passion and love of hard work it would take.
The factory I worked in was growing and the job became increasingly demanding at the same time as I was losing the physical ability to keep up. I was drained to even more exhaustion by having a psychopathic bully for a boss. Eventually I left. I had enjoyed that job and believed in the work the company did so I was simultaneously relieved and a little bit heartbroken but it wasn't long before I was struck with the inspiration to start doing birth support. Doulas have a slogan: "changing the world, one birth at a time" and i believe that to be my calling but for the most part doulas are under utilised and my days are mostly free so one day, when i was bemoaning the exhorbitant price of a decent loaf of bread, I decided maybe I would make my own. Bread makers were on sale at Aldi the following week and I would need to make just 15 loaves to recoup the cost of the machine. It was a no brainer and I started making bread.
The same thing happened with yogurt, just a couple of months later. 

You might remember that I started this year with the idea of doing a cheesemaking course. I haven't got around to it yet which works out ok because I happened to take the kids on a day out in the recent holidays and out of my regular orbit i saw what i have never seen before: a cheesemaking kit. It looked a little pricey so I came home and googled around, managing to get myself an online bargain in a beginners kit for $100 less than either the course or the kit in the shop!

A long time ago I read a promise in Psalms: "delight yourself in the the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" At the time I was not unhappy but I did hope that there was something more around the corner, even though I had no clue what the real desire of my heart might be. 

As I set up to make my first ever batch of cheese yesterday I realised that gradually and unconsciously I have received the desire of my heart. We will never be self sufficient and I am still not a gardener, the only thing I grow is alfalfa sprouts on the window sill, but evolution is a powerful thing, who knows what might be next. Right now I have all the self sufficiency I need, if only I could figure out where to put the new fermentation kit.

Home made Haloumi

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

toast, toasties, melts

after talking about the dying toaster yesterday i realised that we must truly love toast in this house. we have the regular old toaster used for making standard toast, then there is the sandwich press, which is basically for making toast with the filling already in it and we also use the griller on the oven for making really thick toast or open toast types of things.
the standard toaster might make toast to go with soup or it might be snack toast with vegemite or honey or cinnamon toast to satisfy a sweet craving, or we might use it for crumpets or english muffins......
the sandwich press lives in a drawer where it is easy to pull out and put away. in the drawer with it there what few jars i can manage to fit in, jars of peanut butter, jam, honey, marmalade, nutella etc. in my mind this drawer is known as the "snack drawer" supposedly everything one hungry person might need in one place. the drawer isnt big enough and it isnt refrigerated so it doesnt function quite the way i would hope but i stand by the idea! the sandwich press doesnt just see use for bread based delicacies, it has also been tasked with small frying jobs. success is limited because it doesnt get quite as hot as one would like but the non-stick coating is a bonus and it can turn out french toast or pancakes or even a quick apple turnover kind of thing if one is prepared to wait. sometimes we "spill" a bit of cheese on it and eat the resulting cheese lattice. yum. having said all of that, the classic cheese toastie is pretty much unbeatable, dont you think? i am also a fan of banana toasties.
the griller is the king of the toastmakers, it is pressed into service when the whole family is having toast and we want six or eight slices at once. also great for hot cross buns, turkish bread, meal-on-bread melts and the whole gamut of non-bread grilled foods: fish, satay, grilled vegetables

when i think about it, the humble toaster is versatile enough to keep a good variety of food on the table for quite a while!