Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lots of uses for salt

We have stored quite a bit of salt in the 2011 Food Storage Challenge. Salt isn't just a seasoning though. In an emergency situation, it is a handy ingredient to have nearby.

Here are some useful things you can do with it:-
  1. Sprinkle salt on your shelves to keep ants away.
  2. A tiny pinch of salt with egg whites makes them fluffier when beaten.
  3. Soak new toothbrushes in salt water before you use them; they will last longer.
  4. Soak nuts in salt brine overnight and they will crack out of their shells whole. Just tap the end of the shell with a hammer to break it open easily.
  5. Boil wooden clothes pegs in salt water before using them and they will last longer.
  6. Put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker for easier pouring.
  7. Soak stained handkerchiefs in salt water before washing.
  8. Pour a mound of salt on an ink spot on your carpet; let the salt soak up the stain.
  9. Eliminate excess suds with a sprinkle of salt.
  10. Use salt to clean your discoloured coffee pot.
  11. Soak fresh fish in salt water before descaling. The scales will come off easier.
  12. Add a little salt to your boiling water when cooking eggs. A cracked egg will stay in its shell this way.
  13. Test the freshness of eggs in a cup of salt water. Fresh eggs sink, bad ones float.
  14. Adding a little salt to the water when cooking foods in a double boiler will make the food cook faster.
  15. Clean your iron by rubbing some salt on a damp cloth, then rub the surface of the iron.
  16. Use salt in the final rinse in your washing machine to prevent clothes from freezing.
  17. Add raw potatoes to soups and stews that are too salty.
  18. Rub any wicker furniture you may have with salt water to prevent yellowing.
  19. Gelatin sets quicker when a dash of salt is added.
  20. Sprinkle salt in your oven before scrubbing clean.
  21. Soak discoloured glass in a salt and vinegar solution to remove stains.
  22. Clean greasy pans with a paper towel and salt.
  23. Salty water boils faster when cooking eggs.
  24. Add a pinch of salt to whipping cream to make it whip more quickly.
  25. Salt and lemon juice removes mildew.
  26. If a pie bubbles over in your oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won't smell and will bake into a dry, light crust which will wipe off easily when the oven has cooled.
  27. Sprinkle salt between pavement bricks where you don't want anything growing.
  28. Freshen sponges by soaking them in salt water.
  29. Use mildly salted water as a mouthwash if you have a sore throat.
  30. Clean your greens in salt water for easier removal of dirt.
I have also heard that milk will stay fresher if you add a little salt water, but I don't recommend this unless you really need that milk to last.

About 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt per adult per day is good for us. I'm not recommending you put it in everything, as our pre-prepared food these days usually has salt added to it already.

If you wish to store salt, Iodised salt is the best one. Our bodies require iodine to keep our organs and tissue in good condition.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Enjoying the little things in life

I don't teach during the Christmas holidays, and I find it really hard to switch off. This time I made a conscious effort to rest and enjoy the things happening around me.

I am fortunate to have a husband who doesn't expect a 'Stepford Wife'. If the house isn't spick and span when he comes home, so be it. That's not to say I don't clean during the day. I just don't do as much when the kids are home all the time - it is kind of pointless.

Instead, I take the opportunity to look at all the little things around me and appreciate them. Before we realised just how much rainfall would hit Qld and Vic, and when the rain first started to fall a week before Christmas, we saw the rainbow in the top picture of this post. It truly was spectacular and the photo just doesn't do it justice. If you look closely, you can make out the perfect double over the top but it started to rain heavily and I couldn't keep my camera out in the downpour. This rainbow appeared only a few weeks ago, a couple of days prior to hearing about the Qld flood devastation. Mother Nature can be terribly powerful and destructive, but she also shows us her tremendous beauty.
My heart goes out to those affected by the floods in Qld, Northern NSW and VIC. I hope you can find the peace, comfort, strength and support you need in this difficult time, and in the years to follow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Old Friend

This is Charcoal. He is an 11 year old french lop. Really, I can't believe he is still alive, as rabbits are only supposed to live between 8 to 10 years old. He is incredibly loved and rather spoilt.

I think he has arthritis in his back, as he doesn't stand up on his hind legs anymore like younger bunnies do, and he hops around rather slowly. The vet assures me he is definitely still kicking and who knows when his time will be up.
Sometimes he is a house bunny but most of the time I keep him in his hutch outside. He is allowed to hop around out there in an enclosed area (away from my veggie patch) but he is a bit messy, and Phillip likes to accidentally leave the gate open sometimes. Oops - had a bunny ambling down our driveway last time.
Rabbits can be toilet trained, but they're still a little messy if they're not neutered. Not as messy or as smelly as a cat though! I don't think I could have one of my younger bunnies in the house full time though as they tend to like to taste and chew things. Charcoal will hop around and say hello, then go back to his beloved box or 'his' corner of the kitchen and flop on his side.

"My, what big feet you have" - Charcoal checking out my son's feet.

Charcoal's Box. The problem we have is taking the towel away to clean it, and replacing it with a clean towel. His Highness throws a royal tantrum when we do, stamps his feet and waggles his ears to let us know of his displeasure.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potted plants and visitors

It is so pleasant being out and about in the garden just as the sun is coming up. Phillip had already left for work this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep as the birds were so noisy (and my daughter had run down the hallway yelling "Daddy, Daddy, you didn't say goodbye to me") so that was that, and up I got.

Staked tomato plants near my back door

Basil growing happily in a pot

A struggling apple cucumber. Who would have thought this one would survive when my other one died? If only I can keep the bunnies away from it now.

One wascally wabbit. His name is Storm, and he is 11 weeks old tomorrow. There are 7 others! At the moment he is all by himself in that big hutch. The girls are in a separate hutch of their own, and I have two more hutches housing the other boys. We don't want more babies!

My neighbour has visitors at least twice every day who sit outside his back door and squawk at him for food. They get in a bit of a huff if he isn't fast enough!

My frangipani tree hanging over the pool is a beautiful sight at this time of year. The only problem is the flowers and leaves dropping into the pool, but at least it provides shade and a beautiful perfume.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In the garden this week...

I have been excited about my pumpkin vine this week. I had a patch of 'crazy' space in my front garden where the previous owners had piled lots of rubbish, including newspapers. My kids helped me clear it out and we dumped a big bag of potting mix there. It looked so good, and I had a packet of pumpkin seeds, so I decided to see if they would grow there, not really expecting anything to happen.

Well. The pumpkin vine seems to like the spot, gets enough rain and has somehow managed to attract bees. I was also worried as it was only producing male flowers but after much patience, it produced two female flowers. I self pollinated those just in case the bees missed them, but after I did that, the bees decided to show me who was better!

We had another visitor outside our back door yesterday afternoon. I guess she was trying to tell me that the back of my drinks fridge was a little dirty. This blue tongued lizard usually resides next to my front porch and likes to sun itself on the weeds growing there. I think she wanted to have a bit of a wander around to see if there were any slugs or snail hiding (thank goodness I haven't put any snail bait out for a little while).

She did scare the living daylights out of my daughter who happened to be riding around on her bike. My daughter stopped, the lizard hissed gently at her, and then scurried away behind the fridge. It didn't stay there long though, and I guess she was in a hurry to get back to familiar territory.

How do I know it was a she? Females have slightly wider heads, and tend to stay in the one place (e.g. on one property or has favourite places in one street). Males have pointier heads and like to wander about all over the place.

They're quite clever, and can become friendly quickly when there's food involved. I used to have a resident female sit and wait outside my back door every day for food (it was the middle of the drought - no snails or slugs). One day I wasn't quite fast enough, so she climbed up the screen door to make sure I knew she was there!

Week 3 of the 2011 Food Storage Challenge

Week 3 $10 challenge:
3 cans soup
Week 3 $20 challenge:
3 cans soup, 1 large jar peanut butter
Why store soup?
Okay, so most people can make their own soup, but in an emergency situation, you probably won't have time nor the resources or fresh produce to be able to spend that time cooking it. Canned soup (we are talking the condensed variety here) is quick and easy, and you can purchase according to you and your family's tastes. Mushroom was suggested on my list for its protein content, but not everyone likes mushroom soup. I guess because you could also add cooked rice to pumpkin soup and it tastes pretty good!
If you wanted to, you could also store some of the ready to go soups that are available. I have some of those as it would take minimal work and heating, and no water usage to get them ready. You would have to store one of these per family member instead of one or two cans of condensed soup. (ie for my family of 4, I would have to store 4 cans of ready to go soup instead of the 2 cans of condensed soup we would go through).
Why peanut butter?
In varying amounts, just about any type of peanut butter will contain niacin, vitamin E, calcium, copper, potassium, iron and magnesium. The organic products will give your body more to work with.
One of the benefits of peanut butter that many people are unaware of is the presence of resveratrol; this agent has anti-microbial properties that help the body to effectively deal with bacteria and various types of fungi.
Of course if you are allergic to peanut butter, store something else instead, like Vegemite.