Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm rather excited!

Look who we're going to see on Saturday night!

We are going to see Joel and the wonderful Costa at Northey Street City Farm

Yay....I can't wait!

Just a little catch up, thanks for the kind comments about my last post. I've included the soap mould tutorial I used here, just in case anyone else is interested in a little woodwork.

Hope you have a lovely day

Friday, November 26, 2010

Old skills revisited

Is it a bad thing to want to PUNCH the stupid computer? Ours is working at slower than a snails pace at the moment (sorry for offending any snails) and it's driving me NUTS!!

OK rant over, back to my original post.

Several years ago I completed a few woodworking courses at the local high school via adult education. I'd been wanting to do these for years, so finally took the plunge. The first course was furniture restoration and french polishing and the second was basic woodwork. I really enjoyed both courses, started a few projects afterwards and then like most things in my life moved on to something else, quilting I think!

My Nana's old sewing chair

The restored chair, beautiful tiger maple

The plant stand I made using Tasmanian oak. It looks a bit red in the photo, its actually a light teak colour and french polished

Anyhow..... a few weeks ago I asked Tony to make me some timber soap moulds, I had some ideas of what I wanted, found a tutorial, materials were purchased and then I waited. After a few weekends of nothing much happening, I decided to tackle the task myself. Finally putting my woodworking skills into practice. Thank goodness I remembered some of what we were taught. Actually I always loved helping my Dad build things, I guess some of that must have rubbed off.

So here it is, soap mould number one, complete with cutting guide (that needs tweaking) and removable ends. All made by me with my trusty jigsaw and power drill.

I'm proud to say I made it with very little input from Tony, except some advice on drill bits and screws. Not bad for a first attempt and I know where I need to make some changes in the next ones, they're cut out waiting to be assembled.

Filled with my latest batch of soap - almond and honey

I'm feeling all inspired again, maybe a little more woodworking or furniture restoration is on the horizon.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aprons everywhere

There's been lots of talk in the last week over at Rhonda's and on the Down to Earth forum about aprons. I looove my aprons! In fact I've been an apron wearer and lover all my life.

My first pinnie and cooking set, seems like my parents were eager to introduce the joys of cooking at an early age, my first birthday!

Apart from my last two jobs every other job I've had involved wearing an apron; waitress, housemaid, cooking, you get the picture. My very first job when I was 18 saw me making aprons for a couple of drag queens to sell in their shop. Lots of lurex, sheers, glitter and velvet, very glam! Alas that job never really took off in a big way.

My Mum was not an apron wearer, she disliked cooking so I'm not surprised that she didn't wear an apron. My Dad on the other hand being a pastry cook always wore an apron. My Nana use to make aprons to sell, lots of lovely crocheted ladies and smocking. We had our little versions of these to, unfortunately I never kept any :(

These are my current aprons

I love this apron, made from a vintage 1940's pattern. Must be time for a new one in some modern retro fabric!

This groovy number was made from a 1970's pattern. I think Mum used it for our home ec aprons.

A lovely vintage half apron I found in the local St Vinnies for $4.00!

I even have books dedicated to aprons - vintage Enid Gilchrist

How cool, so many styles to make

I'm rather excited about the apron and recipe swap that will take place next year on Rhonda's blog. Can't wait!

Hope you have a lovely day

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Butt Head

My lovely Chester turned 10 yesterday

Look at that face, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth...........yeah right!

Apart from his kleptomania and snoring he is an absolute delight.

Since Utah's death, Chester has changed a little. He is a bigger sook than before, if that's possible and now seeks attention and pats. Utah was king of the attention seekers, always nudging you for a pat or cuddle. Even whilst out walking, he would happily walk alongside someone and nudge their hand (naughty boy). Whilst Chester loves a scratch on the base of his tail and a tummy rub, he never looks completely happy when strangers want to pat him.

His favourite spot behind the chair, usually he has his rear end under the china cabinet and often gets stuck there!

In a previous life Chester was a stud dog, being trained in non slip retrieval. He then had a short lived career as a stud dog for a guide dog school, that's where I acquired him. I was working in the breeding department at the time and he came to live with me.

Whats a dog gotta do to eat in peace, damn chooks!

Now he spends his days taking it easy, being Tana's cushion

Happy birthday Chesty, don't worry I haven't forgotten your new toy.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweet treats - Goodie balls

Monday saw me visiting the organic supermarket to buy some supplies of flour, rapadura sugar, lentils etc. Whilst there I decided a sweet healthy treat was in order and found some 'goodie balls'. These are made with dried fruit, seeds, nuts, no added sugar, and no cooking involved, just what I'm looking for. I've eaten these before and loved them but at $44.00 a kilo they are a tad on the expensive side. Tony loved the sweet treat and of course put in a request for me to make some.

After a bit of searching on the good old net I found this yummy recipe at Community Foods in Cairns.

Goody Balls
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 cup of dates or figs
1 cup of almonds
half cup pepitas
half cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons tahini
freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange
water (if extra liquid is needed)
honey to taste (if you have a sweet tooth)
dessicated coconut or sesame seeds

Combine all fruit, nuts, seeds tahini and vanilla essence in a food processor, adding enough orange juice to bind (not too much liquid). I think it would be easier if you blitzed the nuts first to a smaller size, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Once mixed to a thick paste, using wet hands roll into balls (I made mine walnut size), then toss in coconut or sesame seeds. Chills before eating and store in the fridge.

Today I used what was on hand sultanas, dates, two tablespoons of chia seeds and all sunflower seeds.

Next time I'll use figs, raisins and cashews or walnuts, the options are endless. They would be great for Christmas if you were looking for a sweet healthy treat

Sorry no pictures of my creations today, I'm having problems down loading photos from my camera.

Hope you have a lovely day

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Death of a blender

I killed it!

Of all the silly/stupid things I have done, and there have been a few, this one takes the cake. Last Sunday morning I was busy in the kitchen making a smoothie, my mind was off in la la land. When all of a sudden I noticed that milk was pouring out of the bottom of the blender jug. Then I realise something was the blade and seal attachment!!!

Mind you I had just taken the blender out of the dish rack and put parts of it together, obviously not the most important bits.

Golden crush - Pineapple, mango, banana and red paw paw

Good grief Charlie Brown how stupid can a person be!

Anyway our neighbours own an appliance repair business and they had a look at my poor blender. The the verdict is.....DEAD. Apparently this type of mishap occurs rather frequently. I guess that's suppose to make me feel less foolish.

Green dragon - pineapple, banana, baby spinach and 'super greens'

What annoys me the most is that the blender is not very old and it wasn't exactly cheap. I did wonder if it could converted into a hand cranked model. That would be cool. Tony tells me it could be done but you would need a universal joint, whatever that is and a degree of ability to do the conversion. I don't think we fall into that category.

Oh well no more yummy smoothies or nut milk for a while :(

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Poison

There was talk of the book 'Sweet Poison' on the Down to Earth Forum a few weeks ago and it sparked my curiosity. Last Friday night after dinner, Tony and I headed off to the local Baskin and Robbins (how ironic) for a very rare treat, when by chance an interview with David Gillespie, author of said book came on the radio.

Well to say it was interesting and a little scary at the same time would be an understatement. It certainly made me realise how much we have all become addicted to sugar, sometimes without even knowing it.

Blood orange cordial - sugar

I try to restrict my intake of sugar. I don't drink soft drinks, have the occasional glass of homemade cordial, don't eat too many chocolates, no lollies and little to no processed food. I do have one sugar in my tea, maybe three cups a day. However with all the home cooking, jams, cordials, cakes, biscuits, chutneys, preserves etc, we are still consuming a fair whack of the terrible stuff. Especially if you go by the US heart association's recommendation of no more than 9 teaspoons a day for men, 6 for women and 3 for children. Here in Australia the dietitians association is rather different, they suggest no more than 28 teaspoons a day. Hmmm that's a big difference.

Peaches preserved in light sugar syrup

Over the next few days and weeks I'm going to do a re-think on how I prepare our food, look for lower sugar content in recipes and sugar alternatives, not substitutes.

If you are interested you can listen to the interview ABC local radio. Click on download the audio file. It's rather long and a bit repetitive but very interesting. David Gillespie also has his own web page and blog here.

Anzac biscuits - sugar

I'm off to the local library to try and track down the book. I'm sure Tony thinks I'm going to ban sugar from the house; not a complete ban just a lot less. Someones gotta look after his health, cause he isn't!

Hope you have a lovely day