Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pickled onions


Onions, leeks, shallots, spring onions, chives, the whole onion family actually do not get along well with my digestive system. Too much information I know, sorry. Garlic is ok, even cooked onion in small amounts is doable, maybe once a week or so. Until you stop and look you don't realise how many dishes or cuisines are based on onion. They add wonderful flavour to foods and have many health benefits. I just can't eat them.

A while back Tony asked me to pickle some onions for him. After putting it off for as long as I could, I finally got around to doing it over the long weekend. It's a bit of a process, peeling, rinsing, soaking in brine for 24 hours, making the pickling liquid, more rinsing, then finally the bottling stage.

I used a recipe from Sally Wise's 'A Year In A Bottle'. She recommends storing the pickles for two months before eating. I hope they're worth the wait!

Hope you have a lovely day



Monday, April 25, 2011

Memories of Anzac Day

When I think about Anzac Day this is what comes to mind. Members of my immediate and extended family who served in the British and Australian Armed Forces.

From the left - Harry's 3 brothers WWI, my grandfather WWI, Nana's brother WWI, Nana's father Boer War, Dad and Harry WWII. Two great uncles from my Mum's family also served in WWI

My Dad joined the RAAF in 1943, just two months after his 18th birthday. He spent time in New Guinea and was nearly shot in the head by one of the men in his unit. I seem to remember Dad saying that the bloke went crazy one day and fired a shot at him. He never joined the RSL or attended Anzac Day services and rarely spoke about the the war, preferring to forget.

Left - Dad and his step father Harry, just afer Dad joined up

I always think about my Nana, Dad's mother on Anzac Day Her first husband my grandfather, fought in France during WWI. He was injured (shell shock) and sent home, later discharged in 1916. Nana and Ernie married in 1918, he later abandoned them in 1928 when Dad was three.

Nana's second husband Harry joined the Army in 1941. I think Harry was an alcoholic before he joined or his time in the Middle East turned him into one. Alas he was dishonourably discharged for going AWOL on several occasions. He endured numerous health problems and spent periods of time in a psychiatric hospital following the war. I guess that would now be called post traumatic stress disorder.

A Christmas card and two compacts that Harry brought back from Jerusalem for Nana.

Tony and I usually attend the dawn service in Brisbane, unfortunately we didn't make it this year. War is a terrible thing but we should never forget those who have served and continue to serve to protect our freedom and way of life.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wool wash

Finally I've found a homemade alternative to the commercial variety. This is the second homemade wool wash formula that I've tried, you'll find the first recipe here. Whilst the eucalyptus mix worked well, it simply took too long to mix up and only resulted in a small amount of product. This new formula is much easier to make and I'm really pleased with the results.

I found the recipe in a trusty green cleaning and household hints book that I've owned since the early 90's. I can't believe I've not checked the book before now. Anyway on to the recipe.

John Schluter use to read the weather on Channel 9 in Brisbane. If I remember correctly he gave hints and tips on green cleaning and living after the weather report each night. He later compiled all his tips and the ones sent in by viewers and published a book. My copy is the revised edition.

Lavender Wool Wash -the instructions are taken directly from the book.

Cover four tablespoons of dried lavender with boiling water, leave overnight and then strain. Combine the infused water with 500g of grated plain soap or soap flakes, one tablespoon of borax and one litre of water. Bring to the boil in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan, stirring well until dissolved, then remove and cool. The mix will form into a soft jelly substance. Use half a cup for hand washing and two cups for machine washing.

I only used half a cup in my front loader to wash a load of woollen blankets. Ensure the mix is completely dissolved in some warm water before adding to the machine. I've not done any hand washing with it yet, I would suggest using one or two tablespoons per ten litres. Maybe do a test wash if you intend washing a light or white garment, due to the colour of the mix.

Update 25/04/11 - I used some for hand washing jumpers today, it did a great job. I'd still stick with 1 or 2 tablespoons for hand washing.

Yay....another item that I can tick off my homemade alternatives list.

Hope you have a lovely day

Cheers Lisa

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friendship bag

I've been wanting to make one of these cute little bags for ages. My niece is having her 14th birthday today, that gave me the perfect excuse to do some sewing.

After a quick browse around Spotlight (quick and Spotlight never go hand in hand with me), I decided on the above fabrics.

The finished bag

It was fun to make and not too difficult either. I plan on making some more, next time using some of my leftover vintage sheets and old jeans. Maybe I'll make a larger version and use it as a handbag!

This is the link from p.s. i quilt, friendship bag tutorial

Have a lovely weekend

Cheers Lisa

Water kefir part 2

Following on from my last post, my adventure into water kefir has been going well. It's really easy to make and doesn't take much time or effort. Just mix the ingredients, put it in a jar for 2 days, strain the liquid, remove the fruit, bottle it and it's done. It has a slightly fermented flavour, with a strong hint of ginger and lemon. So far mine hasn't been fizzy after bottling, maybe my second batch will be.

Second batch made up the night before, see the bubbles on the surface

Morning of day 2, lots of bubbles

I'll admit I was a little concerned that the jar might explode with all that carbon dioxide action happening inside. Whilst at work I had the jar sitting in a plastic box covered with a tea towel, just in case it decided to blow. Thankfully all was in tack when I got home. Actually I opened the jar that evening and gave it a stir which released some of the built up gas.

After bottling - 2nd batch on the left, I used rapadura sugar in the first batch hence the dark colour

For the third batch I've decided to use organic sultanas instead of a fig and I left out the ginger. The kefir grains have multiplied loads so I have extra to experiment with, maybe I'll use some fruit juice or fruit puree for a different flavour. I'll keep you posted on how it all turns out.

Have a great weekend

Cheers Lisa

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Water kefir

Have you tried it or made some yourself?

Yesterday a lovely lady who lives around the corner from me, ask Tony if I would like some of her excess kefir grains. Obviously Tony had no idea what she was talking about. I got the inquiry via a phone call and jumped at the chance, even though I didn't know if it was water or milk kefir. Once home I found my jar of grains waiting in the fridge. There was also five pages of information and instruction on how to make water kefir......yay, cause that's what I was hoping it was.

It's a bit hard to see but the grains are sitting at the bottom of the jar

I did a little net surfing and as usual there are about 50 million (ok, slight exaggeration) different versions of making water kefir. Very confusing I must say. I've heard so many good things about kefir being full of probiotics and other healthy things, so I'm eager to try it. You can even make it into a type of ginger beer or flavour it with fruit juice etc.......hmmm.

My first batch of basic water kefir - it should be ready to bottle in 24 to 48 hours.

If you'd like more information about kefir, Julie from Towards Sustainability recently did a post on water kefir and there is Dom's kefir. His site has loads of information on there, so thought it was good to share.

When I checked the culture this morning there are little bubbles around the lemon, so it looks like it's working. I'll keep you posted.

Have a lovely day

Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pumpkin fruit cake

I thought I'd share this recipe with you. The cake is light and moist, with a wonderful flavour, not too heavy on the sugar either. An all round yummy cake, well I think so anyway.


1 cup mashed pumpkin

100g olive oil

1/2 cup of rapadura sugar or brown

1 tablespoon of honey

2 eggs

2 cups of SR flour - 1 cup plain, the other wholemeal

200g dried fruit - I used a combination of sultanas, chopped up dates, figs and prunes or what ever you have in the cupboard

1 teaspoon cinnamon or mixed spice (I use both)


Preheat your oven to 160C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin

Beat the olive oil and sugar together, add the eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition, then add the honey and pumpkin, mix well. Sift the flour and spices together, add to the dried fruit, mix well to ensure the fruit is coated in flour (helps stop the fruit sinking to the bottom of your cake). Fold the fruit and flour into the pumpkin mix. Don't over mix. Pour into your prepared tin, use the back of a soup spoon dipped in water to smooth the top of the cake. Place the tin into the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour. Test with a skewer after an hour, I usually cook if for 10 to 15 minutes more. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a cake rack.

It's great for morning or afternoon tea and for lunches.........enjoy

Thought I'd show you some of my latest batches of soap

On the left , an old favourite goats milk and calendula and a new one, rose geranium and lavender. I wanted to try adding some natural colour to the soap to give it a marble effect. I got interrupted part way through and it didn't turn out how I wanted. Never mind there's always next time.

Oh I almost forgot, everything is growing well in my little veggie garden, no causalities yet. I'll post some pictures soon.

Hope you have a lovely day

Cheers Lisa