Make It Your Own

Make it unique. Make it yourself. Make it your own

Homemade bacon failure 12 May, 2010

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 9:48 pm

Bacon fails

I’ve had a go at making my own bacon. Just a small piece of belly pork to give it a try. I followed a recipe from the River Cottage Family Cookbook. I followed it very carefully. It looks like good streaky bacon and is nice and tender but it is saltier than the Dead Sea and I’ve been to the Dead Sea and accidentally swallowed some of it. I put some cubes of it in a beef casserole and didn’t need to add any salt. I think the only thing it will be good for is supplying the salt in pea soup and such things. Good thing it lasts for weeks. I think mine will last forever with all that salt.

After looking at some other bacon recipes and curing instructions that I have I’m pretty sure there is a mistake in the River Cottage recipe. It calls for 500g salt for 1.5kg of meat where other recipes use about a quarter of that or less and also more sugar. I’m willing to give bacon another go with another recipe and over time I might cobble a recipe together from various instructions and come up with something I like.

LAMBY BARGAIN

My local supermarket is locally owned and so often has things for sale that you’d never find in Coles or Woolies. Today I bought a forequarter of lamb cut into chops including the neck, shank and ribs. It was $6 a kilo and the total cost was $20.30. After dividing up the chops into packs of 2 for the freezer I had 5 packs of chops, a neck in one piece, a shank, a set of ribs and a couple of chops that were too bony and fatty for grilling. All except the packaged up chops went into the pot with carrots, onions and celery and a few herbs and cooked gently for two hours. I strained it and continued to cook the stock to reduce it and took all the meat off the bones and chopped it up. I think I’ll make a pie with it tomorrow. 10 chops, a pie and a pot of stock isn’t too bad for $20.

HMMMMM…

All this cooking takes time and energy. I still need to keep the house clean, do all the washing (including nappies), keep J entertained and happy, visit people, go to Kindergym, Bible study, hydrotherapy and so on. I need to remember that there are more important things than saving money and home cooking everything we eat. If I buy biscuits I have not failed. If I buy some new clothes I have not failed. If J eats something out of a jar I haven’t failed either. What are the more important things? Spending time with God. Spending time with my family and giving them my undivided attention for some time every day. Seeking God’s approval and not the admiration of other people. My worth is not tied up in the things I do. I have to keep reminding myself of these things.

 

Think I Might Start Blogging Again 6 May, 2010

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts,Uncategorized — makeityourown @ 9:24 pm

It’s been a long time since my last post but I have a very good reason for this. J is now 15 months old and has just started walking. He is real cutie and loves his Dad. He is very sweet and has a gentle nature. I’m a stay-at-home Mum and after a year or so I feel that life has a rhythm and  an improvement in my health and energy levels means that I’ve doing and thinking and changing a few things. I’ve been having the urge to get a few things out of my head and onto a page so I thought I’d use my already existing blog as a kind of journal. You can read it not as you please but I hope some of my thoughts might inspire or inform someone.

Vegetables

The vegetable garden is going well at the moment. We’ve been eating butternuts and capsicums and a bit of New Zealand spinach occasionally as well as lots of herbs. We had the usual heatwaves over summer so the beans didn’t so well and butternuts almost died. The tomatoes were good though and the basil too. We decided that beans would grow better when the weather is cooler so we planted some at the beginning of autumn in a newly manured bed. Success! I picked a huge bunch of beans today and they were as sweet and crisp as you could want. I think beans are my favourite vegetable. Tonight for tea we had risotto with butternut and grilled capsicum, basil and thyme and beans on the side. The vegies were all fresh from the garden, except the onion and garlic. J likes risotto. It makes excellent baby and toddler food.

Speaking of onion and garlic, we have planted out a bed of onions, garlic and carrots. The onions were from a punnet, the garlic from the organic green grocer and the carrot from seed M saved a year ago. The garlic is up and the carrots have germinated along with lots of weed seeds but we’ll pull those out once they are bigger. We also have some spinach, lettuce and broccoli in the beds and some more brassica seedlings in the shade house. I’ve made a bed ready for podding peas but we haven’t planted them yet.

Make it your own…FOOD

I’ve been thinking about where our food comes from and what goes in it. Food these days is an industry with factories and machines, preservatives and palm oil. Highly processed food is not the kind of food I want to eat. It might be cheap to buy in many cases but it isn’t cheap for our bodies or the earth. God has given me the skills and knowledge to cook my own food and large garden to grow it and I want to do more of it. I also don’t want to put highly refined sugars and vegetable oils into the little body of my son. Below is a list of some of the things I’ve been doing myself…

Bread (in the bread machine)

Pizza

Herbal tea (herbs grown in the garden and used fresh or dried)

Cordial

Jam

Chutney and pickles

Stock (usually chicken)

Some vegetables and fruit

Eggs (we have six chickens)

Baking (biscuits, cake, scones etc)

Chicken patties (I use chicken thighs, bread and vegies and put it through my Kitchen Aid mincer attachment)

These are all fairly easy things for me to do, except for the heavy stuff in the garden of course. I think the two most important things here are the bread making and the baking. Industrial bread and biscuits are filled with all sorts of awful things and a lot of the time I don’t like the taste anyway. Our homemade wholemeal bread is heavy and dense and make excellent toast. It has no preservatives or fillers and tastes delicious. Homemade cakes and biscuits are made with butter, flour, eggs and sugar and one or two other things. They have no colours or “numbers” in them and definitely no highly refined vegetable oils which are very bad for you. They also taste homemade which is good thing when it comes to home baking. I would far rather give my little one a buttered homemade scone or a piece of homemade cake for morning tea than a bought biscuit.

My Empire Red Kitchen Aid stand mixer makes light work of mixing, kneading, mincing and slicing. It sliced 4 kilos of cucumbers in about 10 minutes!

I’ve just started to get my own bacon going but I’ll talk about that another day…

It might only be 9:20 but I’m tired. Being a full time Mum with a bee in her bonnet about home cooking makes for a tiring day. I’m going to bed with a book.

Here’s a happy snap of my little guy.

 

Knitting in Summer 7 January, 2009

Filed under: knitting,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 3:00 pm

In my opinion summer is the best time to knit. I get more knitting done in summer than any other time. The nicest place to be on a hot day is on the couch with the air conditioner on watching tennis and doing a little light knitting. Tennis is my most favourite, and really the only, sport I like to watch, though I have been developing a taste for test cricket lately. January has the perfect combination of hot weather and tennis on TV. I look forward to January all year. A whole month of nearly-all-day sport watching means lots of knitting time! This year it means lots of knitting for the growing bump.

Here are my tips for summer knitting:

First of all develop your “hot weather princess” personality. Complain to the world how your blood pressure drops/feet swell up/get heat rash/generally can’t cope in the hot weather and absolutely MUST lie down with a cold drink or you’ll faint. Practise swooning. Being 8 months pregnant or recovering from surgery (hi Dad!) are very convenient at this time.

Acquire an air conditioner and a comfy couch if you don’t already have them.

Keep the phone and the TV controls within reach on the coffee table so you can easily flick between the tennis and the cricket if you are following both.

Knit garter stitch or stocking stitch so that you can concentrate on the sport rather than the knitting. Test cricket may let you do a more complex stitch. It seems to me that you don’t really need to watch it that carefully. Just watch your knitting until you hear some cheering then look up and watch the replay of someone getting someone else out. Last week one of the cricket commentators said enthusiastically, “what a great day’s play…there’s been something exciting happen every hour.” Well that’s test cricket for you.

Don’t try to knit while watching doubles. Doubles tennis goes so fast and is so exciting that it needs your full attention.

Knit smaller items like baby clothes, accessories or pieces of a jumper. An almost-finished magic square blanket or bulky seamless jumper for your 100 inch chested relative are NOT a good idea in hot weather.

Gotta go. The Hopman Cup is on. Aussie Open very soon. Have a lovely summer everyone!

PS: with the regard to the baby: everything is going according to plan. You wouldn’t recognise my ankles though. They are like balloons. (Matthew’s comment when I mention my swollen ankles is “what ankles?” He is cruising for a bruising but has been very good at bringing me cups of tea in bed in the morning.)

 

Apricot Harvest 11 December, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,Thoughts — makeityourown @ 6:44 pm

Hi every body (including my Dad; nice to have a comment from you!)

Someone requested a baby update last week so here it is: I am now 31 weeks pregnant. Everything is perfectly normal so far and I can feel his feet and elbows sticking into me on a regular basis. He is going to be born at Ashford Private Hospital. I am planning on being a stay at home Mum. Matthew is going to be a stay at home Dad for the first 8 weeks. If you ask me about names I will give you a suitably vague reply. Names and the date of the scheduled caesarean are a secret! Okay?

WHY BOTHER WITH GROWING AND PRESERVING FRUIT

Over the last couple of weeks I have been dealing with our apricot harvest. Our small tree gave us about 5 kilograms of fruit. Not bad for a 5 year old tree. We watered it regularly while the fruit was forming so each apricot was perfectly delicious and juicy. Yum! We now have in the cupboard 12 jars of golden orange jam and 8 jars of bottled halves in sugar syrup.

Apricot Jam

Bottled Apricots

Seems like a lot of work though, doesn’t it? I guess it is a fair bit of work and takes a fair bit of time sitting at the table slicing kilos of apricots, boiling up jam, putting the halves neatly into bottles, watching over the bottles so they stay at the right temperature for the required amount of time, not to mention the slight anxiety felt over whether the jam will set or not or the bottles stay sealed or not. Is it worth it? I think it is for a few different reasons.

Taste: I’m sorry but you just can’t buy apricot jam that tastes as good as homemade jam from homegrown apricots. Just starting with a superior raw material makes a huge difference. Even if you buy apricots to make jam it will still taste better then supermarket jam. Bottled apricot halves from homegrown apricots may look the same as tinned apricots but that is where the similarities end. Homegrown apricots bottled in a light sugar syrup (or fruit juice if you prefer) taste exquisite, not an adjective used to describe even the best tinned halves. Aside from all the fantastic fruit you can eat straight from the tree, homemade jam and bottled apricots are are very tasty way of using the fruit all year round.

Food Miles: “Food miles” seems to be a fashionable thing to talk about at the moment. It is a serious issue though. Lots and lots of the food we eat is trucked thousands of kilometres in carbon burning, fossil fuel using semi trailers. The more food we eat that comes from our local area the better in terms of the environment and also in terms of taste and quality. Tomatoes that are grown in Queensland and eaten in Adelaide have to be tough to survive the journey and tough they are. The same goes for strawberries from WA. Fruit that comes from your own backyard is very low in “food miles”. Yes you may have to buy sugar from Queensland to make jam in Adelaide but it’s still better than having that sugar go to NSW to make the jam then have the jars of jam trucked to Adelaide. We live in a perfect stone-fruit-growing area; why on earth should we buy stone fruit in a tin from Victoria? (Let me stress that some things just can’t be grown in our local area. I consider coffee and sugar to be essential items and I’m happy to have them trucked from Queensland, or Ethiopia or wherever our coffee comes from. Queenslanders of course will have other items that need to be brought from the southern states and so on for whatever area you live in.)

No additives: my jam has three ingredients: fruit, sugar and pectin. Pectin is a natural ingredient found in fruit anyway and helps jam to set. My bottled fruit also has three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. No colours, no flavours, no preservatives, no mysterious numbers, none of those strange things that make many children behave strangely.

Fun: I actually enjoy making jam and bottling fruit. They are not difficult skills to master and give a great feeling of satisfaction when you see the jars lined up in your cupboard.

Our peaches will be ready soon, the tomatoes too…

 

Why buy a house 3 December, 2008

Filed under: Thoughts — makeityourown @ 8:55 am

A few months ago I was flicking channels and came across the Hack Half Hour on ABC 2 (Monday nights) where they were having the rent or buy property debate. Renting a home or buying a home are of course the two traditional methods for paying for accommodation but there are other methods such as cooperatives or not paying at all such as squatting (God forbid!). In the debate they covered aspects such as working really hard and having no fun in order to pay off a mortgage and the more carefree, less burdensome style that comes with renting. I would suggest there is a happy medium. There is no need to mortgage yourself the hilt and pay it all off in ten years and neither is renting easy and cheap with rents always going up. They questioned whether rent money is “dead” money as real estate agents would have you believe. Someone suggested that the interest we pay to banks with a mortgage is also pretty “dead”.

Since then I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about our home owner status. Obviously whether it’s better to rent or buy is totally dependent on your taste and situation and one is not better than the other.

We bought a modest home in the inner suburbs of Adelaide nearly eight years ago and we are glad we did. Owning our own house has allowed us to do many things we wanted to do that we couldn’t have done renting. Here are few reasons we love owning a house…

Energy saving: we have been able to install insulation in the roof and install ceiling fans in the lounge and the bedroom, both lessening the need for the air conditioner and the heater. We have installed a gas heater so there is no need for power sucking electric heaters. We have planted trees in front of the two west facing windows to provide shade in summer.

Garden: while you can plant a vegetable garden in a rented property, it doesn’t make much sense to plant fruit trees since you may not be around to reap the benefits. We have a large vegetable garden with raised beds and we have spent years adding to the soil to get it right. Over the years we have planted an apricot, a peach, an apple, a pear and a lemon tree. We know we’ll still be reaping the fruit from these and the benefits of the improved soil in the future.

Decorating: a small consideration really but it is nice to be able to paint rooms the colour we want and hang pictures were we want without having to ask. Many landlords will allow renters to do these things anyway.

It’s ours for good: our little house has its idiosyncrasies but we are fond of it. It’s solid house in a nice area close to the tram, the city and the beach. Since we own it, we won’t ever have to leave unless we want to.

Wages go up, mortgage stays the same: Over a 25 year mortgage, your payments are roughly the same (with variations due to interest rates of course) every month over the whole 25 years. In 10, 15 and 20 years’ time your payments will have roughly the same dollar figure as they do now. Wages, however will increase over that time due to inflation so the fraction of your wages spent on the mortgage will lessen considerably. That can only be a good thing! Not so with renting. Dollar figures for rent will always increase with inflation along with your increase in wages due to inflation so the fraction of wages spent on rent will remain the same.

The “Great Australian Dream” of owning property does make some kind of sense but to us it isn’t so that we can “own our own bit of property” or “have the security of bricks and mortar”. We can’t take it with us when we die and our security rests in something bigger, God.

 

The humble jar 19 January, 2008

Filed under: Thoughts,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:18 am

I love January. It’s the time of the year when too much tennis is never enough. No, you won’t catch me out on the court slicing and aceing and chasing a little bright green ball. I’ll be on the couch spectating my way through the Australian Open. In the less exciting matches I might do some knitting. If it’s exciting though, I’ll have my eyes glued to the telly. Tennis is the only sport that I really love watching aside from the Winter Olympics but that’s only once every four years. Consequently, not much gets done around the place during the Australian Open…

That said, I’ve got plenty of work to do at the moment. I’ve recently finished a pattern and a column for the next Yarn and I’ll start some tech editing for it next week. I’m working on designs and columns for the next 3 Yarns after that too. I’m particularly excited about the pattern I’ll have in the winter issue which is a men’s garment in some wonderful yarn. I’ve got a boy’s jumper design and a men’s sock design just about done that are Yarn potentials or maybe another magazine. I’m also in the middle of doing three patterns for Live 2 Knit. Goodness me. I’d like to try and get a pattern or to into Interweave Knits or Crochet but we’ll see what happens. My notebook seems to be overflowing with potential pattern ideas too…Good thing I love my job hey?

Knitting is not really my hobby any more. If I’ve been knitting for five hours during the day, the last thing I want to do to relax is more knitting so I’ve been engaging in some other activities lately. Since Matthew suggested that maybe we should get rid of the piano to make more space in the house (what a horrifying thought!), I’ve started playing the piano again. After four or five years of barely playing it, I feel like I’m back at the beginning again. Lots of scales and Hanon exercises are in order. The same goes for learning French. I learnt it in high school, spoke it a little in Morocco twelve years ago and barely used it since. The Coffee Break French podcast took me right back to bonjour again which is just what I needed. We were on holiday last week and I didn’t knit a stitch for almost a week!

The garden is still dry as a bone. My drought tolerant perennials are coping well and still looking fairly green though. Dad, if you are reading this: I’m pleased your vegetables are going “gangbusters” but you’ve had tonnes of rain over there on the east coast! We are jealous! I hope all that rain is falling in the catchment areas.

THE HUMBLE JAR

A couple of weeks ago my cousin and her husband came over for dinner. She brought salad and some home made dressing mixed in a jar. It was a great salad and lovely company and it got me thinking about jars…

I’m fond of jars. I used to keep and collect just about every jar I could lay my hands on; jam jars, pasta sauce jars, coffee jars, mustard jars, honey jars, round square, flat or tall. I thought that every jar could be re-used in some way, particularly as I’m fond of home made jam, marmalade and chutney. After a while I decided that some jars are better than others and I put lots of glass jars in the recycling bin now. Here’s what I do with empty glass jars and what I think are the best ones to keep and what to throw away.

What can you do with an empty glass jar?

Fill them with home made jam, marmalade, chutney and sauce

Fill airtight ones with dry pantry items such as nuts, spices, dried herbs, rice, seeds, tea or dried fruit

Mix up salad dressing ingredients in the jar, put on the lid and shake

Keep pens, knitting needles, crochet hooks, cooking utensils in them

Grow alfalfa sprouts in one

Use as a vase

Fill a nice jar with lollies for a gift

Keep craft or stationary items in them, such as paper clips, tacks, rubber bands, beads, stitch markers, bobbins, pins

Keep hardware items in them such as nails, screws, staples, washers

Use for planting seeds: part fill a jar with sand and some seeds, poke a large hole in the lid of the jar, pour the sand mixed with the seeds along a furrow in the ground. This helps space the seeds and the sand provides a growing medium

When doing colour work in your knitting or crochet put each ball of yarn into a jar to keep them from tangling.

Let me know any other brilliant jar ideas you have

The best jars to keep

Lots of food at the supermarket comes in glass jars with coated metal screw on lids. The inside of the lid usually has a extra rubbery bit of coating to make the jar airtight. Most jam jars are like this. These are the best jars to keep because they are airtight, strong and can be sterilised in boiling water or in the oven. They come in standard sizes so the lid of one jar will often fit another jar. I have a Kraft Lite Cheese Spread fetish so I end up with loads of 250ml glass jars with blue lids. They don’t make the Lite version in a big jar for some reason.

Jars to recycle

Here is a list of jars that I don’t keep and the reason why:

Vegemite jars: plastic lids are not as airtight as coated metal ones

Moccona jars: they might look nice but they don’t close tightly and don’t stack in the pantry. The rubbery bits make them difficult to sterilise. I do keep the tiny ones though for spices

Salsa jars: no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the salsa smell. You don’t want your strawberry jam having a vague salsa flavour.

Pasta sauce and Kan Tong jars (not that I EVER eat the stuff anyway): these jars are way too big to do much with and will smell odd, especially the lids.

Oddly shaped jars: tall skinny jars are too hard to get a spoon into. Unusual jars may be hard to find a lid for if you lose the original. A pretty jar that might have a use is an exception to this rule.

ANOTHER FREE PATTERN

Thought you guys might like another free pattern. I’ve added a pattern for 8ply ladies socks to the Free Patterns page.

HOLIDAYS

Here are a few pics of our holiday with friends at Blanchetown on the Murray River last week. We had a blast!

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

While I’m here I mustn’t forget to send a great big thankyou to everyone who has a link to me on their blog. You guys bring me more traffic. Also thanks to the people who have made me their friend at Ravelry. You can find me there as SarahGolder.

Have a great week everyone.

 

Autumn 11 May, 2007

Filed under: Home cooking,knitting,Thoughts,Vegetable gardening — makeityourown @ 5:31 pm

Autumn is beautiful in Adelaide and Adelaide is beautiful in Autumn. The harshness is gone from the sun and it slants through the trees in a golden way, making the shadows long, even in the middle of the day. There is sweet dew on the ground each morning on the grass, which has become lush and green after being dry and crisp all summer. If you drive up into the hills the deciduous trees are gradually warming in colour and a frost will bring out their true Autumn hues. Many people have written poems about Autumn but they are usually from the Northern Hemisphere. In Australia it is a little different in that everything becomes green as the weather cools instead of the green growth of Spring after heavy frost and snow. Autumn days in Adelaide are mild and golden, the best for enjoying the great outdoors, or just sitting on a cane chair in the garden with a bit of knitting.

PICK YOUR OWN DINNER

Here is a little harvest picked from the garden just a few minutes ago with eggs collected this morning and yesterday morning. This will be the basis of our dinner: omelette filled with young silverbeet, mint, basil and parsely and some beans and carrot on the side. All I’ll add is some cheese and a splash of milk in the omelette, a little oil and salt and pepper. It will be very fresh, very tasty and half the fun was wandering around the garden in the golden afternoon sun and picking everything. Ahhh, what a life.

Pick your own dinner

Autumn veg garden

ALTERING A JUMPER

A friend, Hoi, has asked me to apply my talents to his jumper. The ribbing is coming undone at the edges and it is too short, both in the body and the arms. Here is what I plan to do: snip a thread just above the ribbing, unravel that row and let the ribbing fall off; pick up the revealed stitches and knit a little pattern or a stripe in some complementary yarn for a few centimetres; work a new section of ribbing; cast off; give it back to Hoi and hope he approves of my colour choices. I bought the wool today. The lady in the yarn store (the Needle Nook) found a murky green colour for me. There is no green in the jumper (it is grey, grey-blue and cream) but the green looks great so I am going to add that in with some grey and cream.

Hoi’s jumper

MOTHERS’ DAY

I have decided to whip up a little something for my Mum to give her on Sunday. That gives me tonight, tomorrow morning and Sunday morning to do it as we have other things to do on Sat afternoon/evening. Can I do it? We’ll see. I’d better shut up and go start.

To everyone who wants kids but can’t, has lost their Mum or kids, don’t get along with their Mum or kids or is far away from their Mum or kids…I hope you survive Mothers’ Day; it’s not always a happy day.

To everyone else…have a nice day on Sunday. A special hello to Mum (mother), Mum (mother-in-law), Kath (step-mother) and Celia (aunt who I lived with who almost considers me one of her children).