Thursday, December 31, 2009

What to do with stone fruit...

Boy did we get a lot of stone fruit yesterday. There is no way we're going to be able to eat that much before the fruit goes downhill, so I got stuck into preserving and jam making.

I sterilised jars, put some chopped stone fruit in them (plums had skin removed) and topped the jars right up to the top with a light sugar syrup (1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water). Into the oven (100 degrees C) for 45 mins to cook the fruit a little, and to seal the jars. Cool on a wooden cutting board - so the jars don't break being placed on something cold, then I labelled them with the contents and the date once the jars were cool.

7 out of the 8 jars sealed. The one that didn't seal we put in the fridge to be used up when we're craving mangoes again ;D
I followed a simple recipe today to make jam. I used peaches, mangoes and apples.

- Wash, peel and remove stones from fruit, then weigh the chopped fruit.
- Cook it gently in a very large saucepan until it begins to bubble.
- Add the sugar. Most recipes recommend you use the same weight in sugar as fruit, but I only use half.
- Boil the fruit rapidly, stirring constantly for five minutes, but not on full heat otherwise the jam at the bottom of the pan may burn.
- Add the jam setta and boil for another five minutes.
- Pour immediately into sterilised glass jars and seal with an air tight covering.

Note: If you are making jam with non-citrus fruit you should add the juice of one lemon after adding the sugar.

One child did a taste test and LOVED it. Said child could eat an entire jar if allowed.

A great food day trip

We were going to head to Bilpin yesterday and do some fruit picking, but I had limited cash, it was going to cost far too much in petrol, and it was going to take an hour and a half to get there, and the same back. We weren't sure if the fruit was going to be great once we got there.

To cut a long story short, we decided to head Dural way and track down some road side stalls and see what we could find.

I had $100 in cash, $20 of which went to Darling Hubby for petrol. We ended up spending under $60 on fruit and veggies, and I have just over $20 left over. Because it was a shorter drive, we didn't have to buy lunch either :D

This is what you get for $60:-

(Watermelon, navel oranges, strawberries, lemons, corn, white nectarines, plums, mango butter, roma tomatoes, peaches, 2 boxes of mangoes - yes TWO! and a cucumber)

You can probably get more for your dollar at the market, but the markets aren't as picturesque as a drive to Rural Dural.

Peach Lemonade

"Moving to the country, going to eat me a lot of peaches"...

  • 2 peaches peeled and cubed
  • 4 C water
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3/4 C Fresh Lemon Juice
Bring the peaches, sugar, and water to a boil, and then simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool, then strain through a sieve, pressing to extract as much juice as possible. Stir in the lemon juice, and serve in tall glasses over ice.

You can reduce the amount of sugar in this and add more lemon if you wish.

Adding ginger beer to this concoction after it has cooled would be FANTASTIC :D

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Miniature Gingerbread Houses

Usually I make gingerbread men to take to our neighbours, but this year I obviously wanted to feel under a little more pressure, and decided to make miniature gingerbread houses instead.

They are soooo cute!

My gingerbread recipe is:-
125g butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in golden syrup and egg yolk. Stir in dry ingredients (flour, ginger and soda bicarb).
2. Press into a ball, knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Refrigerate for 30 mins.
3. Roll dough between sheets of greaseproof paper. Cut gingerbread shapes from dough. Place shapes about 3cm apart on lightly greased oven trays.
4. Bake in moderately hot oven (180 degrees Celsius) for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on trays.

Royal Icing:
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
food colouring (optional)

Mix all ingredients together. You may need more icing sugar, as it needs to be quite stiff if you want to use this on mini gingerbread houses.

Here's the link to the pattern for the miniature gingerbread houses:

It suggests doing these as a gingerbread house party. What a great idea!
(the image is from the Canadian Living gingerbread house party suggestion)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Trifle

This looks so pretty, depending on how you throw it together.

85g packet red jelly
85g packet yellow jelly
85g packet green jelly
250g packet French rollettes, sliced
2 cups mixed berries (blueberries, chopped strawberries, raspberries etc)
600 mls ready made custard (or make your own)
300 mls cream, whipped.

1. Prepare each jelly according to packet directions. Pour into shallow trays lined with greaseproof paper. Refrigerate until set.
2. Assemble the trifle by arranging the slices of rollettes around the sides of 1 large serving dish (or individual dishes if you prefer).
3. Fill centre with berries and some chopped mixed jelly.
4. Pour over cool custard. Top with cream. Decorate with remaining chopped jelly. Refrigerate until required.

I took my end of year frustration out on some more clinkers (popped them in a snap lock bag and whacked them with a rolling pin), and threw them crushed on top for good measure. This trifle was for a Ward christmas party, and boy did it disappear fast! Just a word of warning, if you do want clinkers on top, put them on at the last minute so they don't go soggy. You probably don't want to assemble the entire trifle until an hour or two prior to serving anyway.

Apricot Flummery

Mmmm we used to have a green version of this when we were growing up, and nicknamed it "Snails guts". Of course this one isn't green, and is a Summertime favourite here.

8 apricots, peeled, halved and seeded (or a 425g tin, drained - reserve the juice)
2 x 85g packets orange jelly
375ml can evaporated milk
85g packet lemon jelly
1/2 cup apricot nectar (or half cup of the juice from the tin)

1. Arrange apricots in mould. Reserve some to chop to add into mixture later.
2. Prepare one orange jelly according to directions, but use only 1/2 cup hot water to dissolve the crystals. Stir in 1/2 cup cold water. This will make a firm jelly. Pour over apricots in bottom of mould. Allow to set until tacky.
3. Beat evaporated milk in a large bowl until thick. Dissolve remaining jelly in apricot juice/nectar over low heat. Allow to cool slightly. Beat dissolved jelly into evaporated milk. Fold in reserved chopped apricots. Pour into mould. Refrigerate until set.

Christmas Tree Bark

Another very simple, yet effective table decoration that people can nibble away at:-

2 x 180g blocks good quality cooking chocolate (white, milk or dark).
Lollies (ie crushed clinkers, crushed candy canes, M&Ms etc.

To break up the clinkers, I placed them in a large snap lock bag, sealed it up, and took out all my pent up frustrations on the bag with a rolling pin. Works wonders ;D

1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on a MEDIUM-HIGH setting until melted (only use a metal spoon, and don't put the metal spoon in the microwave)
2. Add in your lollies, mix.
3. Spread out on a BIG piece of greaseproof paper. Leave until set.

You may have to refrigerate this, depending on what chocolate you use, and what the weather is like.

Mars Bar Slice

So easy to whip up, if the Mars Bars last that long at your place ;D

You will need:-

3 Mars Bars
3 cups Rice Bubbles
90 grams butter, chopped
1 block Cadbury milk chocolate

1. Measure out 3 cups Rice Bubbles in a heat proof bowl.
2. In a saucepan, melt together the butter and Mars Bars.
3. Pour melted Mars Bar mixture over rice bubbles and stir.
4. Leave to set for an hour.
5. Melt block of chocolate and drizzle over slice. Refrigerate until set. Cut into required size.

Christmas goodies - microwave fudge

Here's the start of the Christmas Goodies I cook up. I happened upon this whilst searching another website, realised I had all the ingredients, and gave it a go. It is so smooth. Not as good as the stuff with the real cream that takes hours to make, but it got rid of my fudge craving, and only takes 10 minutes.

You will need:
395g can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
125g butter, chopped
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
200g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
Glace cherries (or nuts, whatever else you want to put in it)

1. Lightly grease base and sides of a 20cm (base) square cake tin. Line base and sides with non-stick baking paper, allowing a 3cm hanging on all sides.
2. Combine the condensed milk, sugar, butter and glucose in a 2-litre microwave-safe Pyrex bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on MEDIUM-HIGH/70% for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture beings to boil, stirring every 2 minutes with a balloon whisk.
3. Microwave mixture for a further 3-4 minutes on MEDIUM-HIGH or until fudge is thick, golden and boils rapidly, stirring every minute with a wooden spoon. Carefully put the bowl on a board and set aside for 1 minute or until the bubbles subside. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Stir in cherries (or nuts whatever)
4. Spread mixture evenly in to prepared tin. Set aside for 3-4 hours or until firm. Remove from tin, wrap in greaseproof or non-stick baking paper and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Cut into small pieces to serve.

NOTE: You will want to use oven mitts to take this mixture out of the microwave after each time you zap it. It will be hot. I also make sure the surface I put it on isn't going to melt as well (ie no plastic chopping boards).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bunnies behaving badly

I have two adorable pet bunnies. One is heading for 9 yrs old now, and is quite a character. Very gentle in nature, very tolerant of my kids, but still a cheeky bunny personality. He LOVES chocolate!

The other we rescued is about 4 yrs old, very gentle too, a little more shy when it comes to humans, but has a frisky side due to his not being de-sexed (he was too old when we got him).

I just came across this on, and it gave me such a laugh, I thought I'd post it here:-

Things That Bad Bunnies
Should Have to Write on The Chalkboard 100 Times!

And please remember, these are NOT tasty snacks...
Bathmats, bicycle tires, bills, bits of wire, books, carpet bindings, electrical cords, fine leather handbags, fringes, items of drying laundry, leather jackets, legal, documents, pants cuffs, paychecks, phone cords, plaster corners, plastic bags, printer cables, rubber tub stoppers, rugs, shoes, slipcovers, socks (being worn or not), towels, wastebaskets, waste in wastebaskets, welcome mats.

A. --- Annoying/Embarrassing Habitbits ----

  1. After my human has been on the floor petting me for forty-five minutes, I will refrain from nudging her ankle and grunting determinedly at her in order to elicit MORE petting when she gets up to make her dinner.
  2. As much as I love my brother, I do not need to show it to the world. Especially while on display at an Easter egg hunt so that Mommy has to come up with some sort of explanation for the little humans.
  3. Being chased with a net is not a game. I will not dance like crazy, shake my head and wiggle my ears in a fit of silliness while Mom is trying to catch me. (Rascal was an abandoned bunny who took me weeks to catch, as he was loose in my neighborhood park).
  4. I do not need to pounce on everything I see.
  5. I will accept the traditional meaning of 'no!' and quit trying to continually redefine it.
  6. I will not attempt to escape my cage by climbing through the feeder.
  7. I will not disappear by fading into the shadows and then laugh at the humans when they can't find me (Pyewackit, the stealthy black bunny).
  8. I will not growl at my parents when they try to give me my medicine.
  9. I will not hide in the closet so Dad can't see me, then scare him to death when he sticks his hand in to feel around, and!
  10. I will not look really cute and snuggle into people's laps and then pee.
  11. I will not pout and throw a fit every time the slaves leave town.
  12. I will not push open the closet door and camp out in the dirty laundry.
  13. I will not rush at Mommy growling and batting with my paws when she tries to pick up my food dish. She is trying to fill it not STEAL it.
  14. I will not scare people who ring the doorbell by sitting in the parlor window, pretending I'm not real, and then standing up and grooming myself.
  15. I will not scratch at the bedroom door to be let in when I *know* they're in there!
  16. I will not sit on Mom's sister's head when she is sleeping on the sofa bed, even if it is MY turf.
  17. I will not yodel after successfully breeding. It is bragging, and the does don't like it. (I had a French Lop who literally sang, up and down the scale, after he mated. Evidently it was genetic, since his son later did the same thing.)
  18. I will stop conspiring to get into places with my boyfriend. I will stop engineering it so that I knock down the barrier, and he provides the mobile distraction while I devour all the oats.
  19. If my human fails to release me from my cage immediately when she wakes up in the morning, I will not go temporarily insane and rip fur out of my neck for the next two hours.
  20. If my human gives me extra petting time one day, I will not sulk if I don't get the same attention the next day.
  21. My girlfriend is for mounting, not Mommy's foot.
  22. The humans do not appreciate having their hot water turned off.
  23. There are no lost children, rabbits, adults or even planes that need help finding their way through the hall, so there is no need for me to keep "marking the trail".
  24. We will not zoom over to low, flat containers of wine, jam our heads in, and start drinking alcoholic beverages without Mom's permission.

B. --- Bodily Functions ---

  1. Getting my claws trimmed does not hurt and helps me hop better. My human should not need to sneak up on me to accomplish this, one toe at a time.
  2. I don't need to wait until I'm out of my cage to go to the bathroom.
  3. I will never spray on Dad again.
  4. I will not attack and spray the stuffed animals.
  5. I will not groom myself so strenously while I am shedding that my stomach fills with hairballs, then grind my teeth and stop eating, causing three days of hospitalization and $500 in vet bills.
  6. I will not get pitiful hiccups to demonstrate how neglected I am, and stop them immediately when I get some attention.
  7. I will not intentionally pee on people I don't like.
  8. I will not pee on any floppy disks inadvertently left on the floor.
  9. I will not pee on my human's bed because she won't pay attention to me.
  10. I will not pee on the floor immediately after it has been cleaned.
  11. I will not poop and pee in front of the other rabbits' cages.
  12. I will not poop on Dad's side of the bed and then pull the sheets up to cover it.
  13. I will not render opinions of The Economist or The Nation by pooping on them.
  14. I will not scratch earwax deep out of my ear and then lick it off my toes.
  15. I will not spray my human simply because she reached into my cage.
  16. I will not try to impress people with my aim by "marking" Mom from 10 feet away, through another set of rabbit cages. (True story!)
  17. I will stop playing "Guess how many turds I can pile all in one spot?" when I am out on the rug.
  18. Mommy and Daddy do not find bunny farts sexy, especially during hot summer days.

C. --- Destroying ---

  1. Eating the keyboard cable is not the proper way to turn off the computer, even if the screensaver annoys me.
  2. I will ask Mommy to show me what carpet tacks look like, instead of digging up the carpet to find out myself.
  3. I will not artistically scallop the edges of borrowed books.
  4. I will not bite the baseboards.
  5. I will not chew holes in the floor pillows.
  6. I will not chew on the furniture. There is enough fiber in my diet already.
  7. I will not chew on the wires of my cage, since that will mess up my teeth.
  8. I will not chew through Mommy's watch band if she stops petting me and falls asleep.
  9. I will not chew through the TV cord; it frizzes my fur, and makes it smoke!
  10. I will not chew through the bunny gate. No matter how badly I want into the other room.
  11. I will not chomp the phone cord when Dad is talking on it instead of petting me.
  12. I will not chomp the refrigerator cord, subsequently scaring Mom and Dad to death and causing two hours of repair work.
  13. I will not eat the bill from the vet for my neutering.
  14. I will not eat Dad's new rugby boots, getting Mom in a lot of hot water.
  15. I will not fringe all those boring hemmed jeans.
  16. I will not get jealous over the amount of time Mommy spends doing research, and will not display my "appreciation" of her work by shredding her only copy.
  17. I will not gnaw on Daddy's genuine birds-eye maple desk that his father made for him 40 years ago.
  18. I will not gnaw on my bedding when the humans are asleep.
  19. I will not gnaw the plastic off of the slave's eyeglasses.
  20. I will not intentionally bite through the refrigerator power cord to make my human give me all the veggies before they go bad.
  21. I will not nibble chunks off the hem of my human's mother's favorite silk dress when she fails to pay attention to me for two minutes.
  22. I will not nibble large holes in the shower curtain to punish my human whenever she is away overnight and forgets to hike it up. Plastic is not good for my digestion.
  23. I will not push open the bedroom door and eat the wallpaper when Dad's asleep.
  24. I will not remove the titles from the spines of all of Daddy's paperback science fiction.
  25. I will not remove the titles from the spines of all of Mommy's LPs.
  26. I will not shred the water heater blanket, rendering it useless, getting Mom in a lot of hot water...oops, getting Mom in big trouble.
  27. I will not sneak past the bunny-gate, jump into my human's bed, chew up her sheets, build a nest there, and line it with my own spare fur.
  28. I will not try to make a nest on Mom's stomach and bite two holes in Dad's favorite shirt that Mom is not supposed to be wearing! (It was actually kinda funny - I mended the bite holes and put the shirt in his closet. After the next time he wore the shirt I asked him if he had noticed anything wrong or different about it. When he said he hadn't seen anything wrong with it I fessed up. (Cause if I had told him *before* he would have noticed *every* blemish - even those Pixie hadn't made!) He isn't on PetBunny, but he is a Very Sensitive Bunny Guy! Thank goodness!
  29. It is not good to chew the toilet paper off a new roll, just to get to the cardboard tube. Mommy provides me with plenty of cardboard tubes to play with.
  30. It is ungrateful of me to steal things to destroy when I have many toys of my own.
  31. Just because I want out doesn't mean I have to knock my cage completely over and kick the door with my back feet until it breaks off.
  32. Just because the mouse cord is hanging down doesn't mean I can eat it.
  33. Mommy's cutting board is not a toy that I can shred or throw around.
  34. Teeth marks are not attractive decorations on cabinet doors.
  35. The buttons on the remote control are not meant to be eaten.
  36. The carpet does not exist purely for my grazing pleasure.
  37. The catnip mouse is for the cats to play with. It is not for me to chew on, take the tail off of, dump in my water bowl, and eventually disembowel.
  38. The leather couch is not a food item.
  39. The new carpet is not my new snack.
  40. When Mommy has finally chosing the perfect outfit, I will not chew a hole in it as she says "goodbye" to me.

D. --- Food/Water ---

  1. A threesome carrot eating session, with me and the other rabbits, is frustrating. I promise not to try it again. I will eat my own piece.
  2. Foam blankets are not one of the four food groups.
  3. Green stuff is a food.
  4. I am a herbivore and therefore do not need to have a bite of Daddy's sandwich.
  5. I should have come with a warning label: "I will eat everything I see except food that is good for me."
  6. I will eat food that is there, instead of trying to rip it out of my boyfriend's mouth.
  7. I will eat the broccoli with my ground up medication smeared on it, instead of turning it upside down and rubbing the medicine off on the carpet.
  8. I will eat the green stuff instead of only lunging for the carrots.
  9. I will not beg to try everything that the humans eat.
  10. I will not drink beer until I am twenty-one.
  11. I will not eat all of the indoor plants. I have plenty of fresh veggies and other food to eat.
  12. I will not eat my human's guests' shoelaces.
  13. I will not get fed significantly faster if I knock the food-scoop out of my human's hands before she empties it into my bowl.
  14. I will not hide under the Christmas tree, zoom out to a candy dish, rip the aluminum foil aside, grab a *big* piece of fudge, and zoom back under the Christmas tree, where Dad had to crawl in and take the fudge away from me. I will not growl at him when he takes the fudge away, either!
  15. I will not leave "presents" in my own food as an excuse for not eating it.
  16. I will not lick the carpet. It gives me hairballs.
  17. I will not make off with Mom's sushi. (Wow! What was that funny green stuff?
  18. I will not run with my food dish in my mouth, making noise against the cage walls, while my Mommy is having company, to make them remark "Oh how cute ... poor little guy ... doesn't she ever feed him?" even when I HAVE just been fed.
  19. I will not sit right next to my litter box and urinate on the floor, just to make a point!
  20. I will not starve to death if my human fails to share her tortilla chips with me.
  21. I will not suffer withdrawal pains if I don't receive my papaya tablet promptly.
  22. I will not thump angrily after "only" 4 mini-carrots.
  23. It is not necessary to shove all the commercial food pellets out of my bowl and onto the floor in order to reach the dried vegetable bits I like. I get plenty of fresh vegetables.
  24. Molding is not a food.
  25. My life will not be over if the humans run out of applesauce and so give me broccoli for my midnight snack instead.
  26. My Mommy will give me treats as she sees fit. I need not snack on potpourri and candles when she is not looking. After all, I am suppose to be a 5 lb minilop, instead, I am a 13.5 lb hunk of attitude. Maybe I don't need a snack today anyways!
  27. Not everything that I see is food. Namely the human hand that feeds me.
  28. Pelletized litter is there for my business, not for my snack time.
  29. Pringles are not for bunnies.
  30. Shoes are not a good source of fiber.
  31. The stuff at the bottom of the food dish is not different from than that at the top.
  32. Tipping my food dish over is not a requirement if I want to eat I do not have to trap the food. It is all ready dead.
  33. Urine is not a food supplement.
  34. Veggies are not better if I roll them in my litter.
  35. Veggies do not taste better when spread out over the kitchen floor.
  36. We will not throw our toys down the ramp in our two-story cage, just for the thrill of the noise it makes! (It scares the 70 lb. dog!)
  37. Yogurt drops are treats for when I obey. Not when I claw and bite at the human.

E. --- Hampering ---

  1. I do not need to sit on the book that someone is reading to remind them that I'm here.
  2. I will go directly to my cage when it's bedtime, and not initiate a game of "keep away from the human."
  3. I will not chew off any bandages which may be on me. The vet put them there for a reason.
  4. I will not grab sections of newspaper and hop away with them while someone else is actually reading them.
  5. I will not hide Mom's squirt gun underneath the TV so she can't find it when I'm shredding the carpeting.
  6. I will not jump into the tub when my Mommy is trying to run a bath.
  7. I will not pull out any stitches I may have. That is counter-productive.
  8. I will not zoom up to Mom's feet as she walks down the hallway, so that she either usually kicks me or almost steps on me!
  9. If I want to be petted I will sit still and not try to play tag.
  10. When my human opens the front door on her way out to work, that is not a good time to sneak outside.

F. --- Human-Related ---

  1. Despite what I may think, humans do need their eyebrows.
  2. Fingers and toes are not tasty snacks.
  3. Humans are not here to be my snack.
  4. I am not a hairstylist or a beard-trimmer.
  5. I can show affection others ways beside biting and clawing.
  6. I do not need to take Mommy's glasses off. She can manage that task on her own.
  7. I must remember that I have enormous feet with enormous claws, and these can do serious damage to flesh.
  8. I will not bite Dad when he gets back to petting me after petting the other buns.
  9. I will not bite Daddy on the thigh just because he's talking to another woman on the phone. (like Mommy).
  10. I will not bite my human if she does not feed me immediately when she wakes up.
  11. I will not burrow into my human when she is wearing a nice sweater.
  12. I will not grunt and run around Dad's feet because he cannot be my mate.
  13. I will not grunt, growl and attack Dad when he moves his legs and then pretend like nothing happened and ask for petting.
  14. I will not helicopter my ears so vigorously that Mommy gets a tummy-ache from laughing when she is supposed to be heading for work in the morning.
  15. I will not jump onto Mom's stomach to wake her up when she's taking a nap on the couch.
  16. I will not lunge at visiting 6-year-olds.
  17. I will remember that I hate being on humans' laps before I jump up on them to steal food.
  18. I will stop looking so cute, only to remind Mommy that I am not cuddly by giving her a sharp nip in the finger.
  19. If Dad wants to shorten his hair, he'll get it done professionally.
  20. If I would sit on my human's lap calmly and not jump off in a panic, gouging my untrimmed claws into her legs, I would get petted more.
  21. It is okay for my human to do things other than pet me.
  22. Just because my human's legs are smooth most of the time, it doesn't mean it's a good idea to nibble off hairs when they are not.
  23. My human has the right to nap. While she does so, I will refrain from picking up and dropping the plank of one-by-six to which my food bowls are nailed, hooking my claws into and rattling the bunny-gate, and digging to China through the floor of my litterbox.
  24. When Mom says she loves me, I will not bite her. Love is a good thing.

G. --- Mess-Making ---

  1. I can hide under the table if I don't want to seen. I do not need to roll in the fireplace and get ashes all over my beautiful white fur.
  2. I don't always have to help Mom clean my cage. It is really unnecessary for me to spread the clean shavings across the room.
  3. I don't need to knock over anything bigger than me or because it is in my way.
  4. I will not "mark my territory" on the carpet. There are no other bunnies here to smell it, and my human does not appreciate the perfume.
  5. I will not peel each and every sticky note off the pad.
  6. I will not pull all of the facial tissues out of the box.
  7. I will not pull banana peels out of the garbage.
  8. I will stop making paste at the bottom of my food bowl by getting my face wet from the water bowl, then attempting to eat the dust at the bottom of the bowl.
  9. Kicking things out of my litterbox defeats its purpose.
  10. My litterbox is not a fun place to play.
  11. Pins are for sewing use, they are not toys that I can pull out one by one and throw onto the floor.
  12. Shredded cardboard is not a desirable decorating element.
  13. Sorting the recyclables is not my job.
  14. We will not dig the cinders out from underneath the wood stove, causing a cloud of ash to erupt in the living room. Too bad we missed the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, it would have been really cool, but it was before me.

H. --- Miscellaneous ---

  1. Anything a foot and below isn't mine just because I chinned it.
  2. Biting does not get me what I want, unless I want to have a time-out.
  3. I am not the boss.
  4. I really don't belong on top of the chest of drawers.
  5. Negative attention *is not* better than no attention at all.
  6. Whatever is yours is *not* mine too.

I. --- Misuse/Misappropriation of Items ---

  1. I will not jump up on the chair to steal bananas from Dad's breakfast cereal.
  2. I will not jump up on the chair, then to the table, to steal M&M's.
  3. I will not remove shoelaces from any pair of shoes left unattended.
  4. I will not steal my human brother's Legos from his room. (My little dwarf Hottot, Rosie, does this sometimes. If my son is missing a certain piece, it's almost guaranteed to be found by somebunny's cage.)
  5. The broom is not my lambada partner.
  6. When the floor has been waxed, it doesn't need my bunny butt to it.

J. --- Night-time ---

  1. I will go outside my cage and play during the day, when the door is open, rather waiting until the door is closed at night to loudly announce my desire to get out.
  2. I will not carry every single one of my toys to the upper floor of my condo and then drop them down to the first floor at 3 a.m.
  3. I will not hop onto the night stand at bedtime and drink Mom's herbal tea.
  4. I will not jump all over Mom and Dad at 4:30 a.m. when they are trying to sleep. (Why are humans so lazy?)
  5. I will not leap onto the top of my water bottle at 3:00 a.m. just to see if I can. (Water bottle: 3" diameter. Sam's butt: 5")
  6. I will not pull the sheets off of Mommy's bed while she is still asleep beneath them.
  7. I will stop sitting on Mommy's face at 3 a.m. in order to get her to pay attention to me.
  8. Mommy and Daddy do not appreciate me careening off the wall, the couch, the furniture, the boxes in my room, the hallway wall, the stairs, the table, the other set of stairs, and my boyfriend at 4 a.m.
  9. 3:00 a.m. is not a good time for a thump fest.

K. --- Noise ---

  1. Humans aren't impressed by a rabbit that grunts and growls.
  2. I do not need to thump and hide when the clock radio goes off in the morning.
  3. I will not growl at the fish tank.
  4. I will not growl at Mom and make her look foolish for being afraid of a 2 lb bunny.
  5. I will not rattle the cage door or try to break out of Alcatraz at 3 am, when I am on time out, when I hear the human walks in the front door, or when I want more food.
  6. I will not scream whenever the emergency signal is broadcast over the radio.
  7. I will not thump and snort if I am not offered some of what the humans are eating.
  8. I will not thump or scream whenever someone plays a noisy computer game.
  9. I won't thump every time the neighbour's dog barks.
  10. It is not necessary to thump in response to thunder.
  11. Rattling the bars on my cage will not get me anything good.
  12. The broom is not my enemy, and I do not need to growl at it.
  13. The sound of silverware scraping a plate does not signal danger, and I do not need to thump repeated warnings every time I hear it.

L. --- Not All There ---

  1. An orange vacuum cleaner is not a noisy moving carrot. I will try not to chase Dad and the noisy carrot.
  2. Candles always burn my whiskers, I do not need to keep sticking my face in them to verify this.
  3. I am in no way endangered by the smell of the dog my human petted earlier today.
  4. I can not go through walls no matter how fast I may run at them.
  5. I cannot fit my body through the two-inch space under the bedroom door.
  6. I will *look* before running at top speed so I don't trip on the phone cord.
  7. I will cease attempting to dig a burrow in the kitchen linoleum. I have been trying for seven years and I haven't made any headway yet, and I never will.
  8. I will eat the plain yogurt Mommy offers me, instead of backing up and shaking my ears so hard that the humans laugh until they cry.
  9. I will not crawl into the space between my litterbox and cage just because it smells like me.
  10. I will not fight with the fan.
  11. I will not fling my food dish to the other end of the condo when it is empty, then rush back to where it *was* at feeding time.
  12. I will not head-butt the "bunny-gate" at a full run.
  13. I will not leap into the toilet.
  14. I will not make unannounced, flying leaps into solid objects, like entertainment centers. It hurts the head and confuses the bun.
  15. I will not run full speed onto the slippery linoleum floor and try to execute a sharp right turn. Bouncing off the wall is undignified.
  16. I will not take flying leaps at the 2 inch openings in baby gates, to try to ram my head through.
  17. I will not throttle my water bottle. (Pretty catchy, huh?)
  18. I will stop jamming my head inside sweaty Doc Martens and getting high off the smell.
  19. If I want pets I'll sit still and not dodge away.
  20. Just because I am very still does not mean I am invisible; Mom CAN see me.
  21. No matter how hard I try I can not squeeze out of my cage starting with my nose via the wire gridlines.
  22. Suddenly launching myself from Mommy's grasp when I am only a foot from my cage will not get me there any faster.
  23. The alarm clock is an inatimate object; I do not need to show it who's boss.
  24. The crows on the neighbor's roof are not out to get me.
  25. The telephone is not out to get me.
  26. The vacuum cleaner and mop are good things.
  27. The vacuum cleaner, telephone and crows on the neighbour's roof are not out to get me.
  28. Velcro and the cat's food bag are not my enemies.
  29. Yogurt drops are not my enemy. They are good to eat. I do not need to bite them viciously and shake them until they disintigrate.

M. --- Other Critters ---

  1. Cat's tails are not toys.
  2. I am a rabbit, not a cat. (I got Tori when she was a couple months old, and the only other animals around are cats, so she thinks she's one of them. She even curls up into a ball as much as she can to sleep.)
  3. I will be nice to the fellow rabbits.
  4. I will not act "inappropriately" with Mr. B when company, like the parents of one of Mom's friends from college, visits.
  5. I will not attack the cat just because I can't get to that new guy on the other side of the baby gate.
  6. I will not chase the cats.
  7. I will not confuse the patient old family dog with my bunny running zig zags, and cause him to throw up all over the kitchen floor.
  8. I will not drop the sections of newspaper right in front of the cats in order to get them to help shred the newspaper into tiny bits.
  9. I will not eat all the guinea pigs' food and ignore my own.
  10. I will not egg the other bunny on when she is shredding the water heater blanket.
  11. I will not grab the treat, forcing my mate to chase me around the room in order to get any of it.
  12. I will not hump the male cat, even if he does lie there and take it. (My fiance had a rabbit that did just this.)
  13. I will not hump Jessica's head when I'm frustrated with the humans.
  14. I will not mark other rabbits.
  15. I will not nip my mate to get him out of the way when treats have been dispensed.
  16. I will not pounce on napping cats.
  17. I will not present myself to the other rabbits for grooming and then rip the fur off their butts as soon as they turn around. (That'll keep 'em guessing, heh heh heh.)
  18. I will not push the other rabbit off the couch; there is room for both of us.
  19. I will not sit on the guinea pig's head.
  20. I will not sit on the other rabbit.
  21. I will not stick my nose straight into the hedgehog's face, for my sake as well as the hedgehog's.
  22. I will not try to steal bananas from anybun who doesn't eat as fast as me.
  23. I will not try to practice interspecies genetics.
  24. I will not whip around and try to bite Calvin for no apparent reason. (Jessica, who says "But Mom, I *always* have a reason!")
  25. I will stop acting macho and actually groom my girlfriend in front of the humans instead of pretending that I don't when they catch me.
  26. I will stop attacking other things that are bigger than me, i.e. dogs, cats, and humans.
  27. If I wish to make a nest I am to use my fur, not my bunny friend.
  28. My napping father is not a stepping stone for when I want to hop across the cage.
  29. Other bunny's fur is not for me to steal.
  30. Other bunny's whiskers are not for *my* amusement.
  31. The mouse is not a disguised predator, and I should stop running for my life when he comes out to play.
  32. The other members of my family have just as much right to have whiskers as I do.
  33. The other rabbit is not a chew toy, food, a teething ring, floss for my teeth, or a between-meals snack.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Feel like taking the kids fruit picking?

Last year I got the desire to go fruit picking, to show the kids that fruit doesn't come purely off a supermarket shelf - there is a little more work involved than that.

I got the okay from hubby (he was the one who had to do all the driving, so that was only fair), did some research and settled on Pinecrest Orchard in Bilpin. It's a lovely drive there, long for the kids, but lots to see out the windows.

Did we enjoy it? Why yes we did! The kids loved every minute of it, especially being able to choose and pick their own apples. We did end up with a few unripe ones, but as my kids picked them, I was going to pay for them! After the kids took a few bites they realised why we were telling them to pick ripe ones (tee hee).

Here's a little about what Pinecrest Orchard has to say :-
"We have had a great crop of apples and stone fruit but all the fruit is finished for this season with winter fast approaching. Thankyou to all of our customers for supporting us during this season which for us has been one of the best for years. The young pink lady trees started to produce this year and we had enough of most varieties except Fuji which also suffered from the wet February causing a lot of splitting.
From boxing day (Dec.26) 2009 it all starts again with peaches to pick followed by the plums and apples from mid January.
We plan DV to be open Friday to Sunday through to the end of April 2010. . There is no entry charge. Just pay for what you pick. Toilets and picnic facilities available .


Enjoy a day out with your family picking your own fruit, strolling through the fruit trees and appreciating the adjoining Australian bush. If you plan to come in a big group we suggest you ring first so we can plan to maximise your enjoyment. Click on "NEWS" for the latest info.

We also sell homemade Jams including Apricot, nectarine and traditional Plum Jam. The Shed also stocks local honey and nuts (when in season)."

I can't remember exactly how much a kilo their fruit is, but I know it was still cheaper than at the Supermarket. They have buckets there for you to fill and are happy to show you around, how to pick the fruit, what to look for, and any other questions you may have.

We missed the peaches last time, so I'm keeping my eye out ;D

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mulberry Jam

Just in case I lose my Mulberry Jam recipe when I need it in a few months, here it is:-

1 kilo mulberries
Juice of 1 lemon
500 gms castor sugar

1. Put mulberries and lemon juice in a large saucepan and simmer 15 - 20mins.

2. Heat sugar in oven, careful not to burn it.

3. Stir sugar into mulberries and simmer until it thickens.

Cheese and Bacon scones

I had a request today for my cheese and bacon scone recipe. I can't remember where I got it from, have had it for quite a number of years, but I love this recipe. It's so easy:-


2 cups self-raising flour
30 grams softened butter, cut into pieces
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 rasher bacon, chopped (pre-cooked if you want it cooked thoroughly in your scones)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (or a teaspoon of dried)
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water

1. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add butter. Rub in lightly using fingertips until flour resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Mix in 1/2 cup cheese, bacon, parsley, salt and pepper. Combine milk and water. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in ALMOST all the liquid at once, reserving 1 tablespoon for glazing.

3. Using a bread and butter knife, mix quickly to a soft, sticky dough. Don't over mix.

4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface (using self raising flour). Knead lightly. Press out to about 2.5cm thick.

5. Cut using a floured plain round cutter, or cut into triangles using a sharp knife (or place spoonfuls of mixture into greased muffin tin). Place close together on greased tray. Brush with reserved liquid. Sprinkle with a little cheese if desired.

6. Bake in a very hot oven (220 degrees C) 12 - 15 mins or until golden and sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with butter.

For variations you could omit the bacon and use ham instead (no pre-cooking involved), cook some onion with the bacon and add to your scones. Capsicum and lots of cheese. Dried mushroom and onion for real earthy tasting scones.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Update on Lochgary Lamb

Well, looks like Lochgary Lamb is permanently at Winston Hills, which I am very happy about. I have to stock up my freezer again :)

They have amended their website, and now have a 1/4 lamb option for $48, if you're worried about purchasing a bigger box without testing first.

A few other options available now too.

Can I just say now, that the rack of lamb I got in my box was FANTASTIC. I did a herb crusted lamb rack, and it turned out absolutely mouthwatering (no, they don't pay me to say any of this lol).

I'm heading back next Friday to purchase another 1/2 lamb box - $95.00.

Handmade Soap

I found a fantastic easy recipe to make soap. The hard work with the caustic soda is already done, because the Lux soap flakes have already gone through that process, but the result isn't bad.

4 cups Lux soap flakes (with the washing machine powder in your Stoopidmarket)
1 cup milk (cows or goats)
1/2 cup powdered milk
Oils etc for fragrance (we used 1 tsp scented Apple oil per cup of Lux flakes)

Spray your soap moulds with spray cooking oil to prevent the soap from sticking.

Measure out 4 cups Lux Soap Flakes. Measure out about 1 cup milk (You'll add this as needed, you may not use it all, or you may need to add a bit more). Add 1/2 cup milk to the Lux Flakes and begin stirring on a low heat (we used a saucepan directly on low heat, but if you're worried about burning it, use a double boiler). It if looks dry, add more milk and so on, until all the Lux Flakes are melted.

Keep stirring until it begins to look like soft mashed potatoes. It may also look lumpy. Add about 1/2 cup powdered milk - the secret ingredient! The powdered milk will make the mixture very smooth and easy to pour.

It's now that we added our Apple scented oil. You can also add colour at this stage (if you want to - we didn't). When all is done, pour into your mould (it will set quickly), and leave it overnight or until dry. Remove them once they're dry and cure them for 1 week on a drying rack (we used a large biscuit rack).

The soap isn't a very 'bubbly' kind, but is absolutely perfect for washing hands. I am doing a trial and so far, it hasn't left my hands dry, they smell nice from the milky apple scent, and the creamy coloured bar looks really pretty in my bathroom, with the other cream coloured ceramic items I have in there :)

It's a fairly cheap way of making soap too. We did this as a family so we could see how easy this recipe could be, before we tried the caustic soda type (don't have kids around for that.

August Storage

I found a Monthly Food Storage Purchasing Calendar compiled by Andrea Chapman, which again is American and has totally different measurements and storage options than what we have Down Under, but you get the general idea. I love how they stress the need to store water.

Week 1: 25# Rice
35# sugar
1 #10 can instant potatoes
5 (kilos) salt

Week 2: 1 case tuna or salmon or other meat
2 #10 cans dry milk (powdered milk?)

Week 3: 2 #10 cans dry milk
2 cans shortening (I would store olive oil here)
1 #10 can instant potatoes

Week 4 Looooots of cans of fruit
5 kilos salt

Seems like a lot, but this is if you are still just starting out. I have to confess, I am going a little slower. I like to make sure I have space to store my food, and enough storage containers to avoid rodents etc getting to my food.

Andrea Chapman says at the top of her calendar:-

"If you are just starting out, this calendar can be used any year. Just start with the current month's items.

We have tried to keep the costs down to between $25 and $35 per week. This might seem rather costly, but if you want to build a good food storage in only one year, it will cost you more each week than if you spread out acquiring it over several years. Be certain to buy only items your family will use, and rotate and use the items in your storage throughout the year. Milk is an expensive item and prices keep soaring, so you might need to invest in a bit higher food storage bill to buy it right now.

It is vital to get water storage. If you don't have water, you will not be able to use many of the foods you have that are dehydrated or require water to cook. Many times in natural disasters, the electricity goes down and you will not be able to access your water. Sometimes the water is contaminated from flooding and cross-contamination from sewage. You will need water, at very least, you will need 3 days worth."

"It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark"

"If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" Doctrine and Covenants 38:30

I've heard all kinds of scary things lately - Nostradamus predictions, Myan Calendar doom and gloom, comets could crash, meteorites hurtling through space etc. We're obviously on a collision course for disaster!! But then again, haven't we always been?

It doesn't phase me though, rather just makes me more determined to get my stuff sorted out.

A little while ago I printed out an emergency preparedness calendar from The Idea Door titled "It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark". The Idea Door has had a few problems recently, and this calendar isn't available at present. Lucky I was prepared, and had printed it out ;)

August hints are as follows:-
"For the moment we live in a day of peace, but is shall not ever be thus. Great trials lie ahead...and we must prepare ourselves temporally and spiritually. - Bruce R. McConkie.

Spiritual Goal: Have family home evenings with your family every Monday night.

Priesthood Provident Living Goal: Learn to preserve food in a way that you haven't tried before. Make sure your children receive blessings before school starts.

Storage Goal: 100 quarts fruit and/or vegetables per person
24 pints jam or jelly per person
School supplies
Pet supplies

72 Hour Kit: 1 can tuna and 1 can pork and beans per person
1/2 lb dried milk or 6 shelf-safe milk containers per person
2 packets hot chocolate mix and 2 cup instant soup packets per person
Disposable plates, cups, bowls and silverware
Pet supplies - be sure to include dishes, leash and extra water
$25 cash.

I really do love this idea. We do have slightly different measurements in Australia, and I guess the whole point is that so long as you are doing SOMETHING with your food storage, as well as other areas, then that's a good thing.

I have also been following another Emergency Preparedness plan, but I'll include details of that in a different post. Soooo many to choose from on the net these days.

Monday, June 8, 2009

$20 in 20 mins food storage FHE

I stumbled across this idea last night, although I added a few bits in. The game goes like this:-

1. Divide your family up into groups.
2. Head all together to the supermarket.
3. Give each team $20 and instructions that they have 20 mins to buy as many useable food storage items as they can with their $20.
4. Meet back at the checkout in 20 mins with their goods.
5. The team with the most food storage items wins.

You could do $10 in 10 mins. The point is to teach children about food storage and being money wise all in the same short space of time.

Hubby was quite keen on the idea, and we're going to try it next time I have a spare $40 (for two teams).

He added a varation on the idea:
1. Two teams
2. Head to the supermarket
3. Each team has $20 to buy ingredients in 20 mins for dinner that night (or over two nights).
4. They have to cook dinner at home using only the ingredients they just bought.

Just one problem honey, isn't that what I do normally during the day?? ;)

Lochgary Lamb

For the last couple of months, there has been a Lochgary Lamb van parked on Fridays in the Liquormart car park outside Winston Hills Mall. Curiosity got the better of me a few weeks ago, so I wandered up to find signs stating "$95 1/2 lamb/box" and "Fresh farm lamb". I was intrigued, so I asked the poor guy a million questions "How long had they been in business", "Were their lambs organic", "Were the lambs free range" (dumb question, I know, but these days... some people are really cruel) "Can I have a look?". He was more than happy to answer all my questions.

So Lochgary Lamb has been in business for 3 years. They are family run company. The lambs are free range, and would be certified organic, except they drench them. I got to have a look at the contents of one of the boxes (1/2 lamb) and it looked pretty good. The same quality as Spring Hill Beef, but I liked the look of the Lochgary cuts better. Lochgary made a seasoned roast out of the flap (which was very nice, I have to say. It is a very, very fatty cut of the lamb, and most people don't know what to do with it. Usually ends up being fed to the dogs). $15 cheaper than the lamb from Spring Hill Beef, no scraps (however they do sell dog food separately if you want that - I don't have dogs)

I bought a box last Friday, and the lovely gentleman carried the box to my car!

Overall I'm very pleased with Lochgary Lamb, and will be purchasing from their vendor from now on. Still getting my beef from Spring Hill Beef.

On a side note, Lochgary is having some troubles with their phone and internet. A female member of the family usually mans the phones and email, but her service provider was giving her grief, so she cut off the internet connection, not realising her phone would go as well. They are fixing this up at the moment.

A box ($95) of lamb from Lochgary contains the following:-

10 forequarter chops
3 lamb steaks
2 lamb shanks
1 leg of lamb
10 short loin chops
2 neck chops (I got 4 in my box)
1 rack or 8 cutlets
1 rolled lamb roast (this was the flap seasoned roast)

"Every box contains at least 8kg of farm fresh lamb, and all meat is butchered to meet halal requirements".

My box got a big thumbs up from me :)

Eddited 23//9/10 to add that Lochgary Lamb appears to have vanished :( They no longer have a van at Winston Hills and it doesn't appear that you can purchase from them any more. If anyone has any other info, I'd love to know as their lamb was REALLY tasty.

Friday, April 3, 2009

$150 Challenge

Hubby and I were discussing what would happen if we were to not have an extra $150 each week, ie it would be spent on something else, like rent.

We decided to try it and see if we would actually be able to handle it. Then use that $150 where we see fit, either to save for something I need before things get tougher, or to put onto credit cards.

We're only on the second week of this challenge so far, and it has been successful.

There was an emergency at the end of last week and I was very glad I had that cash on hand, but I would have been able to get it from another source if needed.

This week I have another $150 set aside, hiding this time. Out of sight, out of mind! I think this week's $150 will go towards our holiday next week. A night out to a romantic dinner with hubby sounds like a wonderful idea.

We did the $150 challenge, because that's how much we'll end up being out of pocket for if circumstances change, but you could do a $50 a week challenge, and set that aside for whatever you want.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Experiment

The last little while I have secretly been doing an experiment on my family. Just how long can we get by on Food Storage?

It started mainly to start saving for, and to clean out the fridge before the big celebration we had a few weeks ago for my son's 8th birthday. We ended up with a fridge full for a couple of days after that and gleefully lived on roast beef, pork and salads until that ran out.

Then the lack of food in the fridge hit, and my refusal to buy any more (because I've been saving for other things) and I really wanted to see how long my family would be able to handle living just on what we have available. Apparently the answer is "Two weeks". Poor hubby cracked today and is craving all sorts of things, which just aren't in the cupboard any more. No more chips, soft drink, cordial, meat (we're having the last of the bacon tomorrow), fried chicken, 'normal' soup (he likes brand name soup).

Heaven help us if we actually have no choice but to live off our food storage!

So, would your family be able to complete this challenge? Would you be able to survive on just what is in your pantry cupboard? Do you have appropriate food in there that you can make complete meals out of? Would it be a reasonably balanced diet? Do you know how to make bread/pasta/tortillas etc without running to Google for help?

The 'two weeks' was a bit of a lie. We actually have survived for a few months, with a $100 spend in the middle of that for fresh fruit, veggies, milk, bread and sandwich meat for hubby to take his lunch to work (plus washing powder, tissues, toilet paper, dishwashing detergent etc that I hadn't stored up on, all in that $100 too).

Not a bad experiment, if I may say so yourself.

Try it, you may be suprised!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What to do with powdered milk

I'm planning on stocking up on some powdered milk this year, but as per usual, before I actually buy bulk anything and store it, I want to be able to make sure I can actually use it, and that I know how to use it.

So I did a little Googling, and here's what you can do with Powdered Milk to make it 'useable':-

Whole milk

1 cup water
1/3 cup powdered milk

Evaporated milk

1 cup water
2/3 cup powdered milk

Whipped evaporated milk

Makes 3 cups

1 cup evaporated milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Thoroughly chill evaporated milk.

Add lemon juice and whip until stiff.

Sweeten and flavor as desired.

Condensed milk

1/2 cup hot water
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered milk

Blend thoroughly in a blender.

Can be stored in refrigerator or frozen.

Buttermilk or sour milk

1 cup water
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 Tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

Drinkable powdered milk

To improve the flavor of powdered milk, mix it half and half with 2% or whole milk. Another suggestion would be to try adding a little sugar or vanilla to enhance flavor. Let chill several hours before drinking.

(I found this info on '')

Monday, March 9, 2009

Home made musical instruments

Have to love those rainy days with the kids, when all they want to do is make noise. Here are some musical instruments you can make with them:-

Maracas Two small, dry, empty water/juice bottles with lids.
Fill about a centimetre from the bottom with rice or beans.
Tape lids on and decorate.

Drum A large ice cream container with a lid on makes a fantastic drum. Add wooden spoons for a 'professional' effect.

Shakers Two toilet rolls, one end taped on each.
Fill 1/4 way with rice or dried beans.
Tape other end (I tape over a piece of thick paper).

Cymbals Saucapan lids make fantastic cymbals, but they may never look the same again (or fit on your saucepans)

Rubber Band Music Put a rubber band over two cupboard handles. My kids loved to 'twang' them for ages.

Tapping Sticks Find two thick sticks out of the garden, or wooden spoons will do, and tap them together.

Clappers Two metal teaspoons back to back, hold between three fingers, with your index finger in the middle.

Guiro Cheese grater and a wooden spoon. Hopefully you don't have a very very sharp cheese grater, or you may go through a few wooden spoons.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Playdough Recipes

I have tried and tested a few playdough recipes over the years, and these are the ones I liked the most:-

Homemade Playdough 3 cups flour
1/4 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
food colouring

1. Mix flour with salt.
2. In a jug, mix water with oil and food colouring.
3. Add liquid to flour slowly and mix with hands until it feels like 'playdough'.
4. Store in an airtight container.

Koolaid Playdough (smells sooooo good and feels great to play with) 1/2 cup salt
2 1/2 cups flour
2 packets koolaid
3 tablespoons oil
2 cups boiling water

1. Mix dry ingredients.
2. Add oil.
3. Add water and knead (careful, I usually let this cool a bit first before handling).
4. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Cooked Playdough 1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
food colouring
1 teaspoon Orange/strawberry/vanilla essence

1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan, stirring all the time.
2. Take off heat and allow to cool.
3. Knead.

Finger paint (not playdough, but still fun on a rainy day)
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
food colouring of choice.

1. Add all ingredients together.
2. Paper down and off you go!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Stocked up on bacon? no problems

I always find if I am low on meat in my freezer, there is always bacon left in there. Bacon is cheap, really easy to buy in bulk, separate and throw in freezer bags. So just what do you do with all that bacon?

Here are a few ideas:-

Bacon Family Chowder
1 tablespoon oil
3 rashers bacon
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 potatoes, diced
any other veggies you want (Celery, capsicum, sweet potato etc)
2 1/2 cups hot veggie stock (I use one cup veggie stock, one cup bacon stock)
440g tin creamed corn
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk

1. Heat oil in pan. Cook bacon and onion until cooked through.
2. Add other veggies until half cooked.
3. Put into a big oven proof pot along with stock and cook covered for 5 mins. Stir in creamed corn.
4. Blend flour with milk to make a smooth paste. Stir into soup. Cook for 10 - 15 mins.
5. Stir in dried parsley or seasonings if required, or add grated parmesan cheese or swirl in a little cream to make it creamier. (Note: I only add the parsley, because it's usually salty enough with the bacon and bacon stock in mine).

Bacon Wrapped Potato Gems
Bacon (whether you leave the rind on or off is up to you)
Frozen Potato Gems

Soooooo easy. Just wrap the potato gems with the bacon and bake for 15-20 mins until bacon outside is crispy. Fantastic entree, just not that great if you're on a diet!

Hawaiian muffin pizzas
1 rasher bacon
1 English Muffin cut in halves
2 Ring of pineapple, drained
2 slices of cheese

1. Lightly toast the muffin halves until only just golden.
2. Put slice of cheese, pineapple and bacon on top
3. Pop under grill until the bacon is crispy and cheese is melting.

Bacon Caesar Salad
Chopped, cooked bacon (dried on paper towel)
Croutons (cubed bread under the grill, lightly sprayed with cooking oil if you like)
Parmesan cheese

Add all ingredients together, drizzle with Caesar dressing (1 teaspoon white vinegar, 2 tablespoons mayonnaise)

We had the Bacon Family Chowder for dinner tonight, and my kids are already on their second bowls. A really fantastic family recipe!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Simple Savings

Simple Savings is a website that is designed to do, well, just that. Save!

Here's a little bit of what they have to say:-

Most people pay too much money for things but never realise it, so they are always behind. They are always in debt and continually playing catch-up. It is a pretty horrible time-deprived way to live.

They do have a 'vault' and you can pay $47 to access all the tips and tricks members have put in there, but you can also browse all the other things they have for free, and learn a few things along the way just by doing that.

What I love is the monthly challenges they have in their "ATTACK YOUR DEBTS MONTH BY MONTH":-

January was 'Find a Better Deal' on your service providers for eg home phone, insurance, internet or credit card.

February was 'Find Time'. Finding spare time to then be able to think about what you're purchasing.

March is 'No Spend Month'.
Here's the blurb about this month.

Sometimes we need a big jolt to shake up our spending habits. So here's one for you! Your challenge for March is not to buy anything non-essential. The ONLY things you can buy this month are pure essentials such as basic food and prior bills. Ask yourself at the end of day, did you buy any non-essentials today? If not, tick the day as a success, well done!
I'll add the new challenge for each month to my blog, if only to keep myself reminded of what's in store.

Spring Hill Beef Hampers

A little info on Spring Hill Beef Hampers, if anyone is interested:-

At Spring Hill we guarantee 100% pure, hormone free, premium quality Angus cattle. Each steer is raised in the quiet, stress free environment in the misty green hills of the NSW Southern Highlands.

Here our cattle are treated with kindness and respect. Tranquil grazing on lush natural pastures ensures Spring Hill Beef develops a special taste and tenderness.

Spring Hill Beef is exclusively “Grass Fed”, guaranteed free of hormones and antibiotics. We DO NOT boom-spray weeds to ensure there is no contamination of the cattle’s pastures. Each steer is handed over to our local butcher within a life span of between 18/22 months which guarantees prime tender beef!

They do home deliveries in Sydney with a one off (first purchase) of $10 for a cooler bag. Home deliveries are free with hampers over $175. Delivery fees cost a little more in other places. Check their website for more details.

Dinner Menu Plan

I have found the easiest way to not waste food in my household is to do a fortnightly dinner plan. I've been cooking for them for over 9 years now, so it's not hard to figure out what they like and don't like, and by now we have favourite meals. My kids aren't afraid to try anything new either, and Matthew is excitedly learning how to cook.

For example this week, my dinner menu is as follows:-

Saturday - leftovers (hot pot, tuna bake, sandwiches, whatever is in the fridge that has to be used up)
Sunday - Family Chowder
Monday - Muffin Pizzas (Matthew's turn to cook) and Pineapple Upside Down Cake
Tuesday - a different Pasta Bake (different recipe from the one last week to add variety)
Wednesday - Spaghetti/bacon bread cases (again, Matthew's turn to cook)
Thursday - home made pasta
Friday - Shepherds Pie
Saturday - Leftovers (from a Huuuuuuuge lunch we're having that day)

So how do I do the dinner plan?
Depending on what's going on, how much money we have, how much I can be bothered spending, how adventurous I'm feeling, I'll do the following (or a combination of both:-

1. Sit down and look through my Super Food Ideas Magazines and come up with a few simple recipes. It keeps me motivated to cook, and their recipes are so easy to follow and fool proof. I started buying their magazines before they published monthly ones, and have so many now that I don't need to buy any more, and just re-read older magazines to 'trick' me into thinking it's a new one.

2. Look in my pantry and fridge, decide what needs to be used up and how quickly it needs to be used, what I have available, and design recipes accordingly.

My big meat shop is in just over a week to allow room in my fridge/freezer for this Saturday's BIG DO. I am going to try using Spring Hill Beef Hampers and that's why there's a lot of bacon being used in my menu this week. I'm clearing out my freezer, and I only have ham and bacon left, which is absolutely fine with me. I bought mince specifically today for Friday's dinner.

Get the kids involved. Mine really love to help as much as they can, and although sometimes it doesn't look as appetising, they have to start somewhere right?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spaghetti 4 Ways

I had to ask my husband to open a couple of containers of my food storage today. If anything happens to him, and I need to use my food storage for any reason, I need a huge hammer to smash the lids on these containers. They do seal really well, so I know I'm not going to get any bugs in my stuff.

We found quite a few cans of spaghetti, baked beans, corn, tuna, dried beans (much to poor hubby's dismay), dried peas (much to my disgust) and some dried instant mashed potato that came from my mother-in-law, use by date '99. Somehow, I think I have to replace the instant potato!

Got me thinking about the spaghetti though. We're talking about the type with sauce and possibly cheese, not the plain kind you have to cook in water. What would you do with the spaghetti. Surely you'd get sick of it after a while.

LOL my daughter just reminded me I can use the dried peas to feed the fish "For their dinner". Thanks for that tip! Yes, goldfish ARE vegetarians and yes, they do love de-shelled peas, broken up a little depending on the size of your fish.

Back to spaghetti. I thought of a few things you could do with the spaghetti if you were simply rotating your food storage.

1. Spaghetti, cooked bacon, bread baskets (cut crusts of fairly fresh bread, cooking oil spray a muffin tin, put bread into muffin pans to make 'baskets', bake until just golden). Add spaghetti to cooked bacon, fill bread baskets and bake a little longer. Add cheese on top if you so desire. Not overly healthy, but my son can make this on his own!

2. Spaghetti bolognaise. Brown an onion and some mince, add perhaps some Italian Capsicum (see below post) and add your tin of spaghetti at the end to warm through.

3. Spaghetti, cheese and ham jaffles. Butter bread on 'wrong' side, fill with spaghetti, cheese and ham and cook in jaffle iron or those new jaffle makers that I always see, but never have the cash on me at the time. Then when I go looking for one, they're never around.

4. Spaghetti parcels. Cut a square of puff pastry up into 4 smaller squares, spoon tinned spaghetti in the centre. Fold up the corners and bake in a 200 degree oven for 15 - 20 mins until pastry is golden brown. My kids love this, and I love puff pastry so it keeps us all happy.

I have to note that we don't eat this type of food all the time. Tonight, for example, we had lamb hot pot with potato dumplings. Looooots of veggies involved, but on occasion I just can't be bothered cooking. Usually it's after I've already spent a day in the kitchen and I'm knackered. Takes two seconds to do something with a can of spaghetti though, and that's something to be happy about.

Happy cooking

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Di's Photos

Getting Organised with your food storage

Everyone has a different way of viewing their food storage. I do it firstly because I think it would be really stupid not to have a supply of food stored away in case of emergency. Everything is going along so well right now, hubby has a great job, we're in reasonably good health and we are in a position to be able to do something about food storage. Don't leave it until you actually need it!

First things first. You need to take a look at what room you have to be able to store your food. It's no good going nuts and buying heaps of food if you have no-where to store it.

Do you have containers to store your food? You don't want to be attracting mice and cockroaches, and it can cost a little bit of money to get the containers/mylar bags/oxygen absorbers before you can start storing your food away.

If you have a supply of food already, take stock of what you have. How long until the use by date? How much more would you need? Are there any bugs/rodents/moisture getting into what you already have? Have you been rotating it? Are you storing what you would normally eat?

So I already have a about 3 months worth of food. 52 kilos of rice, about 20 kilos of wheat, cans of spaghetti and baked beans, 10 kilos of honey and a few other bits and pieces.

Next big item to buy on my list before I get started on my own food storage (I had a little bit of help last time) is a food sealing machine (a pouch sealer), oxygen absorbers and mylar bags. This will let me seal up what I buy, because I'm planning on buying dry goods first, which can be sealed up for long periods of time in mylar bags.

The pouch sealer I'm going to buy is $586.85 AUD which I know seems alot, but I do have RSI, and I have trouble using my hands for long periods. This particular pouch sealer has a foot pedal, less work for my poor hands to do.

Oxygen absorbers are $19.50 for a pack of 100.

Mylar bags are $152.50 for a pack of 250 (which will last me quite a while).

While I'm saving up for those, I'm going to have a look around and see if I can get any cheapish storage containers that are suitable for storing my mylar bags in. Mylar bags can be chewed through by rodents. You will need to store then in something like those big clear plastic tubs with handles for easy transporation, in case you have to move them somewhere. If you have heavier grains in your mylar bags, store them in a slightly smaller container for ease of lifting.

Happy Storing!

Italian Capsicums

I'm really in love with my food dryer, and I had a kilo of capsicums sitting in my fridge that I picked up from Aldi last Saturday. They had kept really well, so I decided to dry them for 8 hours in my food dryer, and stuff them in a few sterilised jars with the following:-

1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
about 1 1/2 cups olive oil, until the jar was full, and covered the dried capsicums.

Stick the jars in the fridge, and they should keep for up to 6 months.

Use in pasta sauce, in pizzas, sauces, or as an antipasto with feta cheese, olives and whatever else pickles your fancy.


Well, this is my trial blog. Just a test really to see if I can set one up, before I start my big food storage rampage. So excited, it's just around the corner to go out on a limb and start all by myself, firstly by ordering a food sealing machine, then to organise some storage space while I save up for Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Then I can really get stuck into updating my food storage. Can't wait!