Cake eye

Coming back from grocery shopping my youngest little monkey decided he would help put things away. Before anyone could stop him he had ‘put away’ 5 eggs. Cracked and leaking but still within their shells, I had to make something with them straight away. I couldn’t waste 5 whole eggs. But what to make?

Quiche?

Scrambled eggs?

Cake?…Well that didn’t need too long thinking about. Of course it had to be cake!

Now I had just come home with some blueberries, and all week I had had the taste for some simple vanilla cupcakes. ( I had the *cake eye you see) So why not combine the two?

A vanilla blueberry cake!

The monkeys were napping so I whipped it up. I think it had 5 minutes too long in the oven but still not bad for a made up first effort. I certainly liked the way it looked.

The two monkeys woke up and I thought I would vacuum the place, just another few years and I will be able to get the two of them  to do that for me- for a nominal amount of pocket money of course. However until then, it was me.

Happily vacuuming away and started thinking….hmm, wheres the little monkey? Its been a whole minute since I have seen him and its very quiet.

Vacuum…. too quiet…. vacuum….really should check on him….. vacuum…. oh its been 2 minutes, where is he?

I had just vacuumed everywhere but the kitchen so he had to be there.

And there, standing perched on top of his little monkey chair that he had pulled up along side of the bench. He had a prime position to pick all the best bits of the Vanilla Blueberry Cake into his sweet innocent mouth.

He had the *’cake eye’ and he had it bad. Looking casually around to me, ‘oh good mama, you were taking awhile, so I thought I would help my self to some of this delicious looking cake I found on the bench’.

* CAKE EYE– Where you have a taste for something for sweet. You can think of nothing else but cake and you will not be sated by anything else until you get it. A term coined by my dear husband, and is able to explain sooo much in just two little words…. Cake eye.

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Why don’t I grow food in pots?

Why don’t I grow food in pots?…

It really is a good question. I live in a flat, I have many pots that are empty and ready to be used. I certainly have the inclination. But…

I have been down this road several times before. So much so, that I have spent quite a lot of money on organic potting mix, seeds, seedlings, and pots. I have trawled the streets with my kids on the look out for pots during council clean up periods and still nothing to show for it. When we first moved in here I started off all gung ho and with lots of ideas of harvesting from all my bountiful pots.

What went wrong?

Not enough sun light in the court yard? Too much rain? Not enough rain? Then when they did flourish so did the slugs and caterpillars. A true feast for them!

So after numerous occasions of trying, it has just got the point where I am putting way too much money in to the potting project and just have to admit defeat. So for the time being I will stick to my succulents and my window box flowers that are supposed to be attracting good bugs and bees….

… just not at the moment.

Plums Plums Plums….

 

What to do with a huge box of plums destined for the garbage as considered too ripe? Bring them home and make…

Plum Jam– not quite the same without the vanilla bean, but certainly passed the family test. My 18month old opened his mouth like a little bird, “more, more”.

Plum Crumble– the humble crumble is a staple in our household. Even though its been a regular on my cooking list for a really long time it still is a favourite. So versatile, use what ever you have got as long as some kind of fruit and butter goes in everything else is interchangeable.

Plum BBQ Sauce– not sure about this one yet, I haven’t made it before. The sort of thing you taste, let it roll around on your tongue a little, swallow and then you are still not sure so you try it again…

Plums stewed– straight into the freezer for another time.

Plum puree– also in to the freezer for food colour of a birthday cake at some stage.

I do get a certain sense of satisfaction making all these things from something that was just going to be tossed out. If I could only get more jars I would be making pots and pots more of jam. It is such a good thing to store in a cupboard or for a little present for someone.

Mindful grocery shopping

Shopping- I really try and buy the weekly groceries as organic, locally produced, Australian owned, as little added numbers/preservatives etc,  minamally packaged as possible, and still within a budget. This can be a really time consuming thing to do, due to checking and rechecking – (well up until recently it has been.) I can usually alternate between two different main supermarkets, and know now which ones regularly have the products that I want. Add in some farmers markets, fruit shop and health food shop and we are away!

This has been no easy feat! I think it has taken the best part of the last year for me to now know most brands which fall in to my buying categories. For a long time it was reading the backs of EVERYTHING, checking out ingredients, where its made, who the company is owned by etc etc. Shopping could take a really long time.

Last weekend  after a  shop at the local main competitor super market (that will see us through the week), groceries for 4 people, $150 dollars spent, only one item made out of Australia- toothbrushes were made in Singapore. Thats pretty good I thought.

So what is my point with all this? (bit tired today but I’m getting there…)

People have become completely removed from what they are buying. .

I don’t want to just buy my packaged meat, neatly cut up in stir fry pieces with no idea where it comes from. I don’t want my pears to come from China, when perfectly delicious ones are grown in Victoria. I don’t want my chocolate ingredients to come from 4 different parts of the world to be put together in a factory that is still on the other side of the world and then shipped to me and bought for $4.50 a block on the supermarket shelf (thats not good food miles!)

What I would like is for people to be a bit more questioning of what is actually in that jar of food they have just bought, question where the meat is from, is the dairy from free range cows, and does the supermarket offer a more locally produced chocolate product? If people even slightly changed their buying habits, super markets would follow suit and produce on the shelves what is selling the most. Look at how far fair trade coffee has come in recent years.

Its really easy to look at a shopping list and just go bang bang bang in the trolley and dashing out the checkout with not a clue of how many food miles you have just clocked up, and how many additives and preservatives you have just added. Every one does this as its easy! Its convenient. We all lead busy lives and at the end of the day when your knackered, the kids are whingey, you still have to make dinner and 50 other things to do after that, that you think “as quick as possible please”.

So, how to change current habits? Even if you started off small it would make a difference.

Animal Vegetable Miracle- a book that tells the story of how our family was changed by one year of deliberately eating food produced in the place where they lived. Loved it!

Plum Vanilla Jam

Yesterday i made the most amazing jam I think I have made in my jamy career. Heaven! You could eat a bowl full of it.

Plum Vanilla Jam. Sooo tasty. You know when you cook something and you are hoping that it will turn out and it’s all looking like it should be and then you go to taste it and it far exceeds your expectations?… well, it was one of those moments anyway. I was still excited about that batch when I went to bed last night!

My only trouble at the moment- not enough jars. I have abundance of fruit and not enough jars. I am on a jar recruitment drive at the moment so am hoping that I can get a few more from other people. As we don’t seem to go through that many glass jars, and I can’t see the point in buying them when people are tossing out perfectly good ones.

So what went in it?

Plums-    1.6k

Vanilla bean pod-    1

sugar-    1 kilo

lemon juice –   1 lemon

Well worth the effort, and it comes out this beautiful rich red colour.

(Present idea– cut a round piece of material to go over the top lid, attach with some cooking twine and tuck an antique/opshop teaspoon through the twine.)

Gourmet Farmer

This is one of my favourite shows to watch at the moment. His life is what I would love to achieve down the track. After watching the show I am always enthusiastically re-telling my husband what happened. An episode ends and I have a sigh and a smile on my lips…

For anyone that wants to be inspired to grow their own food, rear their own animals for eating, live in Tasmania, or after a great recipe that will look and taste great- watch it or read the blog.  http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/gourmetfarmer/blog/page/i/1/h/Blog/

I am hoping to make the Apple and Blackberry Shortcake this afternoon. Fingers crossed I get time…

Apple Shortcake

….. and I did! It was deeelicious.

Yogurt

I am the recent proud owner of a yogurt maker thanks to my sister. How I hadn’t discovered this little winner before I dont know. Its so easy! Buy a sachet from the super market, add water and leave for 8 hours.

So far I have only made the natural flavoured ones and just added my own flavours-

Apple/strawberry puree

Pear

Vanilla

I did add some pear jam from last week one night as well, super tasty!

So no more plastic tubs to buy, plus saving money. Also it passed the kid taste test. If my boys weren’t going to eat it, it wasn’t going to happen as they are the yogurt kings in this house. The yogurt maker makes a litre at a time. So at the moment I am making it twice a week. Not sure how long you would be able to keep it for in the fridge but I guess thats never going to be an issue for us as it is eaten in such large quantities.