Sunday, 28 May 2017

Looking into June

Where did May go?  Only three days left and June sails in with its cold wet wintry days.  I think it has been practicing this last week as it has been wet and cold. 

taken this afternoon from the dining room,
yes I know the grass needs cutting!
 But it is not all misery, I love winter as we are able to snug up in our nests and look out at the grey wet landscape and dream plans, crochet, read or knit without feeling we should be gardening.  We can make great steaming bowls of soups and stew, or sit on the sofa flipping through our cookbooks, dreaming of wonderful recipes, if only we had the ingredients.  Yes I admit I am bit of a foodie, I have spats of experimenting with different foods and then fall back into my tried and true recipes.  I love the produce of winter, great bowls filled with apples, pears, oranges, mandarins, persimmons, feijoas, kiwifruit, and of course lemons.

Vegetables also are different from summer, leeks, onions, carrots, parsnips, swede, silver beet, cauliflower, cabbage and kale and all the different types of pumpkin.

Vegetables gathered yesterday from my garden
Talking of vegetables, I need to eat more of them!  I buy or pick them and then have to throw half of them in the compost.  So my goal for June is to eat more vegetables, no more cleaning my vegetable bin out and finding rather limp bits of cauliflower, mushy somethings and sprouted onions and potatoes!  Well that is what I found this morning when I cleaned both my fridge bin and the bin I have in the kitchen for root vegetables.  I took the worst out to the compost bin and made a nourishing soup for my lunch.

I have decided to change my budget period which was fortnightly as that matches paydays to monthly.  I have been finding that there were a lot of food items I need to only buy monthly, such as butter, cheese, cereals, sauces, flours and so on.  I have also reduced the amount as I was having quite a lot of money left over.  So now it is $160 a month instead of $200.  We will see how that goes.  I have friends that can’t believe I lived on $200, so I think I will keep quiet about the $160, lol!  Well one friend has already forbidden me to mention how much I spend in front of her husband!  They know that I eat well from our conversations about meals.

Satay chicken pieces with salad,
the greens from my garden
What I think the difference is that I cook from scratch and have healthy stores; also I grow some of my vegetables, mainly greens this year.  They don’t.  When I suggest that they make from scratch they say that they haven’t the time or roll their eyes.  I do have convenience food in my stores, and homemade ready meals in my freezer for those times when I am not well or too tired to cook, but it is the exception rather than the rule.  I am afraid there is not a lot of commonsense in the world today. 

Also in June I want to do more of my journal pages, I only did one in May; I have taken to painting on old dried teabags using the tea stains to suggest the topic.

I then will use them in my Art Journal like this one below I did last week.  I think the teabag for that one was peach and strawberry herb tea!

I am not sure if this one is finished, we will see.  I am going to give myself a goal of doing one a week!

My crochet lately has been a bit boring, I am making beanies for the Vanuatu men that come over to work in the vineyards and orchards over the winter, there is a group that comes to our church, they don’t speak much English and send all their money back to their families, it is such a poor group of islands that has been hit by some disastrous cyclones in recent years.  They will be arriving next week and will be so cold coming here from a tropical climate.  We look forward to having them in our church as they have such wonderful singing voices and sing with such gusto that it sends chills down your spine.

Haven’t I been rambling on!  It is getting dark and I am starting to wonder about supper, more soup or crumbed fish with coconut rice……

Well, anyways what have you planned for June?

Bye for now
and the Kitties who have the right idea!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Reflections on a Sunday Afternoon.

Here is a question – how do you use your store cupboard?  Why I ask is that in my autumn fervour I have squirrelled enough food away to sink a ship!!  I kid you not. I cannot get any more food in, so several days ago I decided to organise them better and take an inventory.  I had lost track of what I had and there were some amazing collections, for example, lots of tins of chick peas, but only one of kidney beans and no pinto beans.  Taking myself in hand I decided to have only two of each in my store cupboard and the rest would have to go up into the top cupboards (which I need a step ladder to reach). It has made the cupboard more usable, now it remains to be seen whether I remember I have got a lot of food stashed up there!  My freezer is choc a block as well, I reckon I have enough food with the exception of perishables stashed away to last me several months.

Ambrose with my grape harvest which I made into grape cordial
So the question is how do I use this bounty?  Do I live off my stores for a while, or do replace what I use as I consume.  I had thought of living off the stores and saving my budget, but I am already saving money each payday and I don’t have any real needs at the moment and I have a healthy rainy day account. 
People might come into my home and say you need a new lounge suite or whatever, but my stuff is comfortable and cosy.  I can’t see the point of buying something just because what you have is old.  I am of the school if it is not broke keep it. And then I am likely to say I wonder if I can fix it!

So it looks like I will use and replace.  However I wonder whether I need as much as I have.  Most of the emergencies we have had here in NZ (earthquakes and floods) people have been evacuated from their homes, and I can’t imagine the emergency services calmly waiting while you empty out your cupboards, lol!  Although, this amount would be useful if there was a massive worldwide financial crisis and the banks failed. It could happen! (Maybe I had better start stashing money away in my mattress, lol.

So I would like to hear about how you use your store cupboard

Today, I went to the Market and brought the above collection of fruit and veg. leeks, spring onions, celery, mushrooms, baby carrots, butternut pumpkin and a huge bag of feijoas (pineapple guava), all for $10. It was a lovely little outing, a bit chilly but the sun was shining the trees and gardens lovely, the sound of crackling leaves as I passed over them lovely. 

I have been working a lot in the garden, who says spring is the busiest month!  We have had so much rain this autumn and quite a few floods as well.  My back garden has a spot where it seems to have a high water table and the last few years it seems to flood every time we have a heavy down pour and it is where my veg patch is!  So I have decide to move the veggie patch next to the house and put the existing one to grass and flowers.  Makes sense as then I won’t have to trudge down the back to pick veggies on wet blustery days and the soil near the house is wonderful far better than the existing garden.  A friend dropped of some old carpet which we have laid where I want the new vegetable beds, over the winter the weedy grass will die and compost and then it will be ready for digging in late winter.  I will have to move some of the existing flowering plants but will wait till flowering has finished, these two shows how mild this autumn has been.


Naked  Ladies, cant believe they are still flowering
I was going to talk about food but the afternoon is ticking away and I want to sit in the sun for a bit!  So I will leave that for another post so bye for now and thanks for visiting.

PS I saw this the other day and it struck a chord with me!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Comfort Food

There are just some days you need to fall back on the comfort of food from your past.  It nourishes you, and makes you feel that you can face whatever life throws your way.  One of the dishes that I turn to is a dish from my childhood Macaroni Cheese, not any Macaroni Cheese, the one that my Mum used to make.  She used to put lots of interesting bits in, always halved boiled eggs, mixed vegies, ham or salami, tomato, cauliflower or any leftover vegetables.  The top was always crunchy and the sauce very cheesy.

I am very old fashioned and make my cheese sauce the old fashioned way, if you prefer another quicker method do so.  I made enough for 3 to 4 servings.

Cheese Sauce


50 gm butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1-2 cups grated cheese
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 cups of macaroni elbows
Additions of choice – I used sliced biersticks, cauliflower, 1 small leek, 2 boiled eggs , slices of tomato, breadcrumbs.


Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour and cook for a minute or so till starting to form a ball.  Add mustard.  Gradually add milk stirring to make the sauce smooth with each addition,  Cook till sauce boils, add Worcestershire Sauce and grated cheese, keep some aside to sprinkle on top.  Season.

While sauce is cooking cook macaroni and vegies, (I add the cauliflower and leek to the mac water).  Slice the sausage and cut eggs in half.  When cooked put pasta and additions in baking dishes.  Pour the sauce over and put sliced tomato on top with some grated cheese and breadcrumbs.  Cook at 170 Celsius till brown and bubbling usually 20 - 30 minutes.  Serve with a green vegetable.

This was enough for me to have one helping straight away and one the next day and rest I froze for another meal in the future.

As always if I am using the oven I cook something else to save on power.  I decided to keep with food from my childhood.  This cake was for special occasions and it always greeted us when we visited my grandmother during the school holidays.

Gugelhopf kiwi style

This cake is my grandmother’s version of her German mother-in-law's recipe.  My great grandmother originally used yeast and sultanas and currants.  Over the years the fruit varied but a favourite variation was prunes or prunes and dried apricots.  Today, I’ve used my favourite, prunes and apricots.


3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup chopped pitted prunes
cold tea or water
170 grams butter
170 grams sugar
2 large eggs
225 grams flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
125ml runny yoghurt or milk.


Cover the dried fruit with the cold tea or water leave for a few hours. Drain.
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add eggs and beat till well mixed if it curdles don’t worry. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and yoghurt or milk.  Using yoghurt makes the cake moist.
Finally add the drained fruit.
Sugar Mix -Mix separately 110 grams brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and 1tsp cinnamon.  Place a third of the cake mix in greased 25 cm ring tin or Kugelhopf tin, sprinkle with a third of sugar mix and repeat twice.  Bake at 170 C for 45 - 60 mins (I find it takes 60 minutes in my Kugelhopf tin) or until a skewer comes out clean.

This cake can be eaten plain or for special occasions a lemon icing drizzled over it is scrumptious!

Gugelhopf is sometimes called Kugelhopf depends where you are from.  It is originally from the Alsace area but many European countries have a version.  It also can be sweet or savoury. I have made the yeasted version and it is very nice but like a lot of yeast cakes it has to be eaten on the day.  The version above stays moist for quite a while.

The weather is at last showing signings that winter is coming and the trees are starting to loose their leaves, the pavements are covered in leaves and there is nothing so comforting or fun as wading through them an d hearin g the crackle of the leaves.

Even the evening sky is golden!

Have a wonderful week!