Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Here's a Hint

Recently my auntie who was moving gave me, among other things an old book called "Here's a Hint" it was printed in the year I was born (1977 shhhh).  Its a book of hints for all parts of the house, easy way to do things, different homemade chemicals to use and ways to reuse things and save money.

Yet again it reminded me of what a throwaway society we live in.  People buy disposable wipes, disposable nappies, disposable cleaning cloths, disposable containers for the kitchen, disposable wraps. Basically everything comes in a disposable version.  But do you know what....... we don't have to follow the norm and all the advertisements selling us another throwaway product.  Because although they may say they are disposable they are only disposable to us, not to the environment, hell half these throwaway products will still be hanging around the dump in 30 years time.  So not only do these products cost us more to buy but they are going to cost us and our environment in the future. 

OK off the bandwagon now, I thought I would just share my favorite hints with you, if your lucky I will include some funny ones too.

  • Hold a tube of toothpaste under hot running water to extract that last bit of paste.  This saves quite a bit that would otherwise been thrown away (bet you never tried that hard to get that last little bit out).
  • To cut down on electricity for water heating, have the thermostat set to 65 C turn hot water switch on just before going to bed, then switch it off when you get up each morning.  You'll find you have plenty of hot water to last you all day. This is a great saver if you live alone or have a small family.
  • Fix a small hook near bathroom, kitchen and laundry sinks if you like to remove your rings when washing or washing up.  There will be no chance of rings being lost if they are always hung on one of these hooks.
  • To clean the copper base of saucepans, place in a jar one cup of flour and two tablespoons of salt then mix to a paste with vinegar.  Rub on copper with fingers.  Cleans in seconds and requires no hard rubbing.
  • To clean the inside of a thermos flask fill the flask with boiling water then add one teaspoon of baking soda.  After all bubbling has stopped, wash flask normally in warm water.
  • Instead of boiling the jug of hot water every time you want to make just one cup of tea, fill a large thermos with hot water in the morning and get your hot drink from there all day.
  • Put a small bell on the fireguard that way you will know as soon as a child touches it.
  • Sometimes mothers are faced with a child who will not stop crying.  When this happens, immediately get a bottle so that not one tear is wasted.  When we try to get a bottle full of tears, it  is amazing how quickly the tears stop (this one made me smile).
And the book goes on and on all  in all a rather interesting read.  There is a lot of stuff on how to use old pantyhose to clean, mmmmm lovely.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Starting a Diary

    I decided that I would start a diary, sorry to disappoint but it wont be on here.  I don't think you actually need to know how many loads of washing I did and if the kids took a poop or not.  I randomly decided to write a diary yesterday after I found an old book that I used to write poetry in.  Suffice to say there is plenty of room as I only used two pages with my creative writing.

    Where did this idea come from?  Sorry it wasn't in a bid to record my oh so exciting, jet setting lifestyle.  No, while I was at my parents place my mum pulled out and old diary she had written when I was young.  It wasn't feelings and grumps and fluffy dreams, it was what had happened in that day, what the weather was like, what us kids were doing, what happened on the farm, meetings etc.  I realised that it was actually quite useful, not only was it an interesting read 20 years later (yes I am that old and I was no baby when she wrote the diary either) it was a reference to things we often forget.  Like where did I buy those nice socks from.  When did I get my last haircut, what were the kids doing at this age etc etc etc.

    As much as I love the Internet and blogging etc, I LOVE PEN AND PAPER.  I write lists on paper, write notes on paper, read paper books, I just like paper.  So yesterday I started recording what I had done, how the kids were, that we went to the docs and what we had for dinner, or in yesterday's case what we didn't have (vegies).  In doing so, I realised I actually do a hell of a lot so this could also prove as a great way of showing other people in this house that I don't sit on my bottom playing on the Internet watching cartoons all day. Oops had better finish this and get back "doing things".

    Not sure if this will last, I mean like learning Hindi it may be forgotten but I will try, I wont panic if I miss a day.  It isn't supposed to be a chore but an unwinding time.

    Happy writing people.....

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    The bread making continues.....

    Who would have thought that after a few months I would still be making bread on a 2 day basis.  NOT ME.  Granted we have had a bit of brought bread (still haven't used a whole loaf of brought bread since starting the challenge, it sits in the freezer for emergencies).

    I went away with the kids for a week and hubby was disturbed to find there was no homemade bread left for him, so he had a piece of brought bread only to find the taste so horrific that he called me to find out how to make bread himself.  I hate to say it but he did a dam good job, so good it made me try harder.  We now have two lovely puffy loafs of bread made every second day.  Just to give you a giggle each bread tray has two little balls of dough in them so when the bread rises it looks like someones bottom bursting out from under the teatowel.  If nothing else it makes me smile.

    Today after trying to find snacks for the kids in a house with not to much food left in it (grocery day tomorrow), I stumbled across an idea.........BREAD STICKS  so after baking my two loafs I used the last bit to make thin little bread sticks.  I cooked them for the same time as the other bread (30mins) so when they were finished they were crusty sticks and the kids loved them.  BRILLIANT healthy snack number 1 that kids love.  I think I got the idea as I was tempted to make pretzels but couldn't be bothered.  So now I am on the lookout for other bread related ideas..... 

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Sour Dough has been abandoned!

    Well I have officially given up on making Sour Dough Bread.  No reason or at least not one I wish to discuss.

    On a side note, if anyone would like to purchase a brick that has a pleasant sour smell to it, then please contact me.  It is very sturdy and I doubt very much that it will ever break.  Alas it is very heavy so if you wish to purchase it, it may pay to bring someone else with you for pick up, to avoid a back injury.

    As you were.....

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Sour Dough 2.0 try and try again

    Sour Dough kicked my butt once but I will be dammed if it beats me again!  So a few days ago I started small.  Using an old formula scoop I started out, leaving my mixture on the sunny windowsill in my kitchen.

    Day 1: One scoop flour, one scoop warm water (stir)
    Day 2: One scoop flour, one scoop warm water (stir)
    Day 3: Oops
    Day 4: Two scoops flour, two scoops warm water (stir)
    Day 5: Half a cup flour, half a cup warm water (stir)
    Day 6: I drained some of the liquid out that sat on the top then added a cup of flour and a cup of warm water (stir)
    Day 7: (Today) Since my mixture was bubbly and lovely and ever so slightly stinky (OK quite stinky but I didn't linger to take it all in), I decided to make me some BREAD.
    Playing it by ear I added 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 2 cups of flour and realising it was too dry I added some warm water.  I proceeded to knead it for a bit and was surprised that this time it felt right.  So left it on the bench to rise hoping it doesn't get too cold over night (tempted to put it in my little mans room where the heater is due to turn on at 3:30am)  Tomorrow will tell, can I convert this house to a Sour Dough house....... Dun, dun, dun (Play dramatic music here)

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    My bread making milestone nearly reached

    Tomorrow is the day.... One month since I started out on my bread making mission.  I can confirm that I have yet to use brought bread and I have enough bread in the bread container to make it through tomorrow.  I am currently patting myself on the back Whoop Whoop.  Sorry little bit excited here, not often I follow through on something.  Thank you blogging world for pressuring me into finishing, the fear of posting my failure up here helped me make it through those difficult times.  I know I sound like I have conquered a nation or something but no, I just made bread for our family for one month.

    Although it has been hugely satisfying, at times it hasn't been easy.  There have been a few evenings when I have noticed my husband having unauthorised  bread (aka I didn't realise he was going to have a sami at night time and I only had just enough bread for breakie).  So I have had to start mixing and kneading away, letting the bread rise overnight to cook in the morning.  Although I did notice my lovely husband did co-operate after all and didn't have toast for breakfast.

    Then there was the special Cat Bread.  No special recipe there, just that I leave the bread in the bedroom to puff up, as the sun shines into that room making it lovely and toasty and great for expanding bread.  Thankfully it always has a clean tea towel over it, as I went to check on it and found the cat sitting next to my rising dough.  After hissing the cat away I noticed that each loaf had a lovely cat foot indentation in the top of it.  COME ON CAT YOU DIDN'T NEED TO STAND ON BOTH LOAVES!

    Are you going to continue in your bread making adventure you ask?  Well yes I think I will.  Apart from the fact that we all love it, I am actually enjoying the process.  Not sure how easy it will be in the winter the the house all cold.  Might just have to invite the dough into the lounge where we are to stay nice and warm.  Then finish proofing it in the oven.

    i am still determined to conquer Sour Dough Bread, I have another batch festering away now, although I admit I did forget to feed it yesterday.  But on the bright side I remembered to feed the kids so all is good, rather the Sour Dough starve than my kids.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    My Bread Making Mission 3 weeks and counting

    Three weeks have passed and still we have not touched the cheap back up bread located in my freezer.  Mew ha ha ha ha (insert evil laugh here).  I feel like some sort of superhuman hero.  I know, I know, its only bread but I think deep down inside my hunter gatherer needs are satisfied by being able to supply my family with something so basic all by myself (insert goofy smiley face here).  If you ever see me in the supermarket  you might think I am a little crazy.  Not only do I talk constantly to my kids, but whenever I go past the bread isle I have a crazy satisfied little smile on my face.  When I go past the nappy isle and don't have to buy any (due to using reusable apart from night time) it is just about too much for me to take lol.

    So I am on track to make my four weekly target.  It may be a little extra work, but seeing my kids munching down on fresh bread and totally loving it is enough to make it worth it.  Not to mention that this mornings toast was THE BEST mmmmmmmmm fresh bread.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Sour Dough Day 3 and 4 - Houston we have a problem

    Well it seems Sour Dough Bread is not fool proof, aka me proof.  I let it rise for 24 hours, ever the hopeful am I.  Yet my Sour Dough is just a hefty solid block of dough. 

    So hefty I wondered how to dispose of it...................... Didn't want to look all dodgy carrying a big black bag to the car and dumping it in a bin somewhere in an isolated park.

    I thought of the waste disposer, mmmmm nope it isn't that tough.   One blob of the Sour Dough brick and that disposer would be jammed up big time.

    "Compost heap", I said to myself, mmm maybe not, it is a growing thing that would mould up and be all smelly and gross.  Plus if some poor bird got hold of that it would loose its ability to fly instantly held back by the Sour Dough weighing down its little intestines.

    The only other option I had was the rubbish bin.  This worries me, as our bin is black heat seeking oven like contraption, that only gets picked up once every two weeks.  I am worried that my dough will join up with the kitty litter poop, expand and grow into a 'Sour Kitty Poop Dough Monster' and will come alive and try to take over the world.  Mmmmm think I should stop watching so many kids cartoons.  I did put it in the bin and am hoping for more rain and dull cloudy weather, I have to say the sunshine today is worrying me.

    Am I giving up.... NO WAY I shall try again to make my Sour Dough Starter and try again to make my bread again (after I build up the courage).

    I am still all go on my Bread making challenge, even with the Sour Dough Bread failure, I had back up loafs that I had made (kinda expecting this outcome).  Even though last night I was about to give up and let us run out of my beautiful bread, I didn't.  Personally the thought of eating our cheap brought bread from the freezer grossed me out.  So I pulled up my sleeves and kneaded that dough baby, at this very moment I have two fresh loafs cooking in the oven.

    Sour Dough you may freak me out with your hideous smell and your blob brick like appearance but I will not be defeated.  I will conquer you dam it!

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Sour Dough Day 2

    Ahhhhh I am not sure I can do this.  Uncle Fester (my pet name for my Sour Dough Starter) well, he STINKS, and not just a little bit but he is RANK. Ew ew ew ew ew suffice to say I think Uncle Fester is alive as they say when he stinks its all go.

    So I have started to make my first Sour Dough bread.  Have told Hubby that if we don't like it we are staying with yeast.  I have put a bit of starter with a cup of four and a cup of warm water for Unlce Fester to reproduce and make a Sponge (thats what they call the intial part of Sour Dough Bread making.

    Just went into the kitchen yucky Uncle Fester and his kids are stinking out this house.  So apparently Sour Dough Bread making is not for the faint hearted.

    To be continued......

    Sour Dough Day 1

    Mmmmmm had what could be considered a dubious start to my Sour Dough making experience.  I forgot to feed it, it was only born yesterday and already I forgot to feed it, my bad.  Good thing my kids can tell me they are hungry otherwise there might be trouble. 

    On the bright side the dough is bubbly and is starting to smell a little nasty.  Just fed it and hope it will forgive me and grow grow grow.

    In case you are wondering I am using the following website for instructions to grow my little Sour Dough baby. http://www.bakesourdough.com/making_sourdough_starter

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Sour Dough

    In continuation to my bread making mission, I am now trying to make my own Sour Dough starter.  Why you ask would you do that (well thats what I asked when I heard about it), well well well its CHEAP.  The only expensive part of making bread is buying yeast.  I figure if I am making bread each day then why not create my own little live starter instead of buying yeast.

    So this morning I put equal parts of flour and warm water in a container and left it in the nice warm sun to 'fester' OK thats not the proper word for it but it is growing its alive I tell you ALIVE.  Crazy much, why yes I am surprised you didn't realise already.

    I seem to be getting way to excited about this, I am thinking I may have been born in the wrong century.  I also think that if mixing flour and water gets me so excited I may want to try and get out more lol.  I don't know if other people get it, but making things from scratch is really satisfying.  Yes I could buy bread from the supermarket but that, well it doesn't spin my wheels, making bread on the other hand does.

    I am getting so much satisfaction out of it, even I am surprised.

    I will update you in a few days as to wether my Sour Dough Starter has started.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    My Bread making mission

    For the last few months I have been making bread on a regular basis.  Well in the last week I have made a new mission for myself (and by no means is it mission impossible).  I aim to not buy any bread for the next month.  Now I have 2 loafs in the freezer 'just in case' but will try not to use that either.  So far I have made 2 weeks without using any brought bread.  That is saying something as I go through the bread.  We have it for breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner.

    I am making bread from scratch, no bread maker or anything. I feel like such a domestic goddess. OK not so much of a goddess but very domestic. I have to say, I am loving it, it is so easy and not at all time consuming. I simply spend 5 mins getting the bread started in the morning, then let it rise, 5 more minutes spent with my bread at lunch time, then I leave it again till late afternoon to cook. OK I have some mishaps, yesterday it was a bit bigger than normal so I undercooked it a bit. But all in all it is brilliant, even the kids love eating it. I know exactly what I am feeding my family and we can chop and change to get different flavours.

    The recipe I use is just the Edmonds cook book 'white bread'.  Although I just realised that for the last 20 times I have mis-read the recipe (DOH) instead of the 2 tablespoons of yeast they say to use, I have been using 2 teaspoons.  To be honest it seems to be one of those mistakes which works, not only do I like the non yeasty smelling bread, it's cheaper whoop whoop.  At the moment this recipe makes two little loaf tins of bread and lasts us two days.

    White Bread (My version)
    In a bowl mix
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons Surebake yeast (if you like yeasty bread 2 tablespoons)
    2 cups flour
    add 3/4 cup cold tap water
    immediately followed by 3/4 cup boiling water (I mix the two into a jug and add at once)
    2 tablespoons of oil (you don't have to add but I like it)

    Mix together into a paste, leave for 2-3mins while you put the washing out.

    To the mix add 2 more cups of flour (have another cup of flour sitting on the side to use when kneading if needed.
    Mix into a dough turn out onto the bench and knead until it springs back to the touch (about 4mins).
    Clean the bowl you had the mix in, put a bit of oil in the bottom and wipe it around to cover sides (this lets the bread rise easily), pop your dough in and make sure you roll it around a bit so it is covered in oil as well.

    Cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm spot (no need to drive to Napier to do that just pop it somewhere warm (aka hot water cupboard if you have one, next to cooking crock pot, near oven).  I pop it in my bedroom sitting precariously on the window sill, where the sun shines through.

    Leave it until it doubles in size or until you have another spare moment aka lunch time.

    Pull dough out and knead for another 5 minutes, place in oiled tins (aka the ones you are going to cook them in) and then place in a warm place until it has puffed up again (another few hours).  I find that small loaf tins are best as it makes 2 loafs of bread and the bread fits in the toaster, unlike my bigger loafs.

    Place in the oven at (recipe says 200 degrees) but I like it at 160 as I have a hot oven.  Leave it in there for about 30mins then let dry on a cooling rack.

    Tip: If you don't want to make 2 loafs, you can make a loaf and buns or use the leftover as a pizza base or even a pizza bread just pop some relish etc on top with a bit of cheese and cook until puffed up.

    My next aim is to make sour dough (aka that fermenting stuff so that I don't need to buy yeast which is rather expensive.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Zuchinni, Zuchinni, Zuchinni and more dammed Zuchinni's

    This year has been a brilliant year for the garden and Hubby has worked extremely hard growing plants from seed, watering them, weeding them, putting compost on them and generally telling me of for trying to kill them.  All this hard work means that our Zucchini plant or should I say PLANTS, are producing big time. 

    To start with I thought he had planted three plants and even then I sighed to myself wondering what i was going to do with all those Zucchini's.  Well I just discovered it isn't three plants but more like ah FIVE, yes five.  We have found in the past that one plant does us fine producing a Zucchini every second day, which to be honest was all i could handle as I never really liked them.  These days I have 2 giant bulbus Zucchini's every day.

    We are at the point where Hubby doesn't have to ask if there is Zucchini in dinner, he just instinctively knows.  Its sort of like Forrest Gumps shrimps.  We have grilled Zucchini, roasted Zucchini, boiled Zucchini, stir fry Zucchini, BBQ Zucchini, Zucchini muffins, Zucchini in spag bol, Zucchini in rice, Zucchini in mince burgers Zucchini in EVERYTHING.

    It is only since I have started to be very creative with Zucchini that I have really started to like it.  I hate normal plain Zucchini, but when I sneak it in things I love it.  I mean I just popped it in my spicy rice.  My favorite so far has been my Zucchini and Cheese Muffins.  For this I just modified a Edmond's Cook book recipe.

    Zucchini and Cheese Muffins.
    1/2 cup cheese
    1 cup Zucchini (if possible sprinkle with salt and leave to extract juice otherwise put it in a clean tea towel and squeeze the crap out of it water should come out)
    2 tablespoons of sweet Thai chili or other favorite flavour
    add 2 cups of sifted flour
    4 teaspoons of baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Mix again
    Quickly add
    1 beaten egg
    50g butter melted
    1/2 cup milk
    Mix together
    Put into muffin trays and cook at 200 degrees C for 15mins or until golden.

    Oh and my Sister-in-law made a tasty chocolate cake with Zucchini in it.  you have no idea it is in there but it keeps it nice and moist.  Here is the link http://karen-barlow.blogspot.com/2011/02/best-chocolate-zucchini-cake.html

    Happy Zucchining, may the Zucchini be with you

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Rant of the day - Whitcoulls book pricing

    I was in central Wellington today, not a common occurance in my world as I don't really like it.  I had an appointment but also wanted to look for a certain book or set of books for my daughter.  They are Dora reading books that come in levels and encourage word recognition etc.  They are only thin books of about 10 pages each, I have seen them in Palmerston North for $4.50 each.  Well today I went to two city Whitcoulls, to find that the same books were $8.99 in one shop and $10.99 in another.  HELLO they are only 10 pages long and of average paper stock etc.  How can they justify the price tag of $10.99.  Esspecially when at the Whitcoulls online store you can get a 12 pack of these books for just $23 dollars.

    If you are wondering the reason I was looking in the shops is that I haven't seen many and I want to see what they are like before ordering them online, plus if they were as cheap or close I would have brought them instore.  I couldn't believe the difference in pricing.  Its like someone just randomly popped a price into the pricey thing and stamped it on.  Suffice to say at the most expensive shop I did say out loud "Holy Crapiola that's expensive".  There were 4 staff members in close proximity and not one blinked a lash at that.  I think they hear that quite a lot.

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    I have just finished a great book...

    And to be honest I feel totally lost.  I am the type of person that really gets into a book.  I get attached to the characters and feel like I actually know them.  I can visualise the scenery and can picture the character walking down that street.  So when I finish a book, especially a really good one, I miss it.  I miss racing down to my bedroom to sneak a few seconds, of quiet time, with the people I feel like I know and the place that I have been enchanted by.  I suppose at this point I should tell you the name of the book so you can be equally enchanted.  It is written by Rosie Thomas and called Iris and Ruby.  Set in Cairo both in the second world war and today.  It is a moving story of mothers daughters  and the power of memory.

    I often get attached to Characters and places in books.  I remember when I read Gone with the Wind, it is probably the longest book I have ever read so I was quite proud of myself.  It took so long to read I got super attached to Scarlett.  When I finally got to the last page and read "Frankly my dear I don't give a dam" I actually said out loud (in public) "What the?"  I don't care if he doesn't give a dame I give a freakin dam where is the rest of my book and what happens to everyone.  I know that it was probably a brilliant ending that was world renowned, but i felt cheated.  I had just spent a VERY long time reading this book and all of a sudden it was cut short without my happy ending (yes I like happy endings).  I have however heard that there is another book simply called Scarlett probably written for all the people like me who felt totally ripped off.  In saying that I totally loved the book, descriptions and characters.

    I often wonder if everyone gets an attachment to the books they read and if they see the book through their own eyes.  That is why I think that books are so much better than movies.  Your imagination creates your very own individual book.  No matter how many other people read that book they will never come out with the same story that you did.
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