Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kefir fizzy for the weekend

I recently wrote about my adventure with Kefir Water....and making my fizzy drinks.....
Well, I think I've done it! Yep, I think I have finally mastered a few techniques that will keep me in good supply of fizzy drink. I like my soda...I can't help it...I like the bubbles...lol

Experimenting with Kefir grains 

Straining the Apple & Blackcurrant Juice
which I added Kefir grains to for 48 hours.

Orange from the juice and rind of 1 orange
Quince from 1 tablespoon of Quince jam added
Passionfruit from some really old Passionfruit jam
Apple & Black Currant from Juice with grains added
Cherry from some preserved cherries

Lots of Kefir grains after straining

These ice-cube trays fit a good tablespoon of Kefir grains
Storing Kefir grains in the freezer.
(You can also dehydrate them, which I will do next time I dry apples)
All of the flavours were lovely and mild..don't expect the same strength of a store bought soda as *they are laden with lots of chemicals for colour, sweetener and flavour......*They can't be good for you.

With the orange Kefir; I won't use the rind of the orange again as I needed to add too much sugar to sweeten it, and this kind of defeats the purpose of all those good pro-biotics. So I think I will be able to cut out most of the sugar in the orange drink if I only use the juice next time.

I have one jar of preserved cherries left from the back of the cupboard...I'm so glad I found a use for them, I think they lost their prime for ice-cream a few years back.

I'm so happy I have worked out the Water Kefir...I wonder what flavour will be next?

Friday, July 29, 2011

On my mind......Nan's Apple Pies

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY. If you're in another country you should join in when you read this, even if it's still Thursday.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to here. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, come back and add a comment below, with a link to your blog photo so we can all find you. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.

On my mind...is my Nan's apple pies.....Nan used to make Apple Pies for the Red Cross stalls, which she was a lifetime member....Not only were pies donated to the stall, but any crocheted jug covers, hand-sewn aprons, pot holders, jams, pickles, and other things, what ever she had a surplus of at the time.....

I've recently had a go at making Nan's pastry...and it worked perfectly....she is right you know...4 tops and 4 bottoms....that's how many pies can be made with the pastry recipe...as far as I can recall; Nan got this recipe from her mother...so it's a good one for many more reasons....

I halved the pastry recipe for this amount of apples.

Old apples from Mum's fridge

added 1/2 cup water, and teaspoon of sugar

2 tops and 2 bottoms

They didn't make it to the freezer...
I'm going to have to stop making all this yummy food...Oh but wait...I'm about to go and pick up 2L of fresh local cream from South Coast Dairy.

Please join in on the On my mind.......
leave a link back to your blog here in my comments.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spaetzle with Kefir Milk

Welcome to all my new followers...I usually have time to individually say hi to you ...but I have mum with a torn tendon behind her knee, which has been keeping me extra busy...I'll be planning a give-away shortly...so look out for that in the near future.....

I've just made some spaetzle for lunch and thought you might like to have the recipe......seeing I don't have a spaetzle maker It took a few experiments to work out what to use...but its all fun here.

I still have plenty of batter to make up more tonight for dinner for the whole family.

Spaetzle...serves as a side dish 6-8 people

3 eggs
1 cup milk (I used kefir milk...and about 1/2 cup extra)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat the eggs until foamy with a wire whisk. Beat in the milk until well combined. Mix together the flour and salt and then stir into the egg mixture a little at t time. The dough should become stiff and elastic.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. *Using a spaetzle maker, fill the square basket with the dough. Rest the unit over the pot and slide the basket back and forth, watching little bits of dough plop into the water. You’ll know the noodles are done when they rise to the surface, which should take about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Cover while you finish with the remaining dough.

*I don't have a spaetzle maker...but I found this potato press in the op-shop the other day for $2...and couldn't help but try it on the spaetzle...I had to thin the dough to more like a thick batter....but you could just use a colander to let the batter drip through....

Too thick...the batter wouldn't drop
Too close together, they stuck to each other.

Changed the holes...

A bit too chunky..but it works.

Test: Thinned some batter with more Kefir

The batter runs almost freely.

A much better size.
 After making what I thought would be enough for lunch.....I strained it more...and added some chilled chicken stock (jellied) and some of my kitchen mix that I always keep in the fridge....

I have posted about this mix before here  and here. To make my kitchen mix just blitz a couple of bunches of spring onions, and a few bunches of herbs, what ever you have really...and a jar of good crushed garlic...then blend in Olive Oil to mix..it will set in the fridge as Olive Oil does...but thats ok...it melts back down if you leave it out of the fridge.....I use this to add to a cup of soup...pasta....even on a slab of fish when cooking it...smear in on a steak....the uses are as long as your imagination......but very handy to have....and lasts for ages in the fridge........

Here's our lunch from yesterday...

Here's a side dish for one....I had enough to serve the 5 family members.

It just shows...you don't always need to have the gadget they suggest.....although I could have just used a colander...but I got this potato ricer at the op-shop for $2...and was looking for an excuse to use it...

Mum and I enjoyed our very filling hearty lunch, and hubby didn't believe I had made the pasta...lol...he should pay more attention and not watch so much wrestling...lol.

Although I haven't made spaetzle heaps of times (YET)....I do plan to try different ways of making it...with a stiffer dough...my knife skills aren't that great to cut thin slices off a chopping board into the boiling water (the German method)...and I can't imagine being quick enough to be productive for a family of five.....but I was thinking of almost freezing the dough..then grating it on a grater....I wonder if that would work? Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Kefir - Pancakes, Straining & Fruity flavours.

These were lovely...whenever I make pancakes, the family all gather around the kitchen bench and just chat while I am cooking....there is eating while others are cooking....and suggestions of what topping is nicer.....some prefer honey, while others like margarine then sugar and lemon juice.....I like the latter topping, but I must say I have fallen in love with the Honey Haven Strawberry honey..and although it is infused with an essence, you really can't tell in the gentle flavour....I did ring Honey Haven, and they told me that by law they are allowed to add 4 % of 'other' ingredients before needing to include it on the label....So that's why it is described as "100% Australian Honey", but it's still yummy.

Kefir Pancakes...These are lovely light and fluffy..and although my Kefir was not very thick this time...I'm going to make them again....DS16 asked if we could have these every weekend.  So I guess they get the stamp of approval.

I got the recipe from here...and Tammy has a whole heap of great recipes over there...

Fluffy Kefir Pancakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups kefir*
1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Fresh fruit, butter, or syrup, for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. In a separate bowl, combine kefir, milk, vanilla extract, and eggs. Add to dry mixture and mix just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy!
3. Pre-heat griddle or skillet over medium heat (or just below). Lightly grease griddle or skillet, and spoon batter on.
4. When many bubbles have risen to the top of the pancake (about 3-4 minutes), flip over and continue cooking until done (about 1-2 minutes).
5. Serve immediately, or keep pancakes warm on a plate in the oven until all have been cooked. Serve with butter, fresh fruit, or syrup. Enjoy!

Always pour your batter from a jug

Use a non-stick griddle, and don't put any oil on it.
I only use this griddle for our pancakes...
this way it remains in good condition for a lovely pancake finish.

When bubbles appear, and the surface appears to be drying slightly
then it's time to flip the pancakes.

Standing around, chatting and snacking

I've been working on achieving the right consistency with my Kefir milk....it seems after reading more on Dom's sight...I have learn't that my strainer is far too fine....and I should be stirring the milk more when it sets to a curds and whey....so I have MODIFIED my strainer......hehe...(there's more than one way to skin a cat) (no animals are ever skinned here, just a joke)...lol according to Dom, the strainer should have no less than a 2mm gap....which gives you are far better end product....

When I started MODIFYING my strainer..I tried to give the 2mm gap, but found it to be too flimsy...so I only removed every second thread..only on one axis....you'll see what I mean in the picture.....

Besides the messy bit where I tried to reach the recommended 2mm
but the strainer was too flimsy like that.

After 36 hours

Stir the kefir gently, you don't want to break up your Kefir grains.

Then strain it...with my newly MODIFIED strainer.

Ahhhh, this is the good thickness that gives you that
wonderful Kefir moustache.

I think my grains have now doubled in size.
So now I have achieved the right consistency..there's no stopping me with more recipes...
so bring them on I say!

Fruity Flavours..bring 'em on!
Upon receiving more instruction from the lovely Lisa, the same Lisa for whom I am thankful for the beginning of my grains....I have started trying other flavours with blended fruit.....

 After fermentation, I then strain the grains....

 and add the pulped fruit..this time strawberries.....
 I'd leave some to let you try, but this is all I had left when I realised I hadn't taken the photo of it yet....
It is very very nice, and got the go ahead from all the family...even hubby said it was nice.

 So after straining, you immediately put another brew on for the next flavour experiment...

To the next strained batch of Water Kefir, I've decided to try orange...so I added the juice and rind of 1 orange...and half a cup of sugar...Its still brewing...so it will be exciting to try this later.
I like that I can change the flavour each time...it gives me heaps of room to experiment...and that's what cooking and kitchens are for.

I'm loving my Kefir journey.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kefir Milk Bread Rolls

After making those lovely Kefir Scones last week....I've been wanting to add Kefir milk to my bread....
not wanting to look around too much, I found a recipe in my bread machines recipe book...called Milk Bread......so that's what I used....

Milk Bread.....for a 1.25kg bread....

450mls Milk   (I used my Kefir Milk here) 
2 tablespoons Margarine
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon bread improver
760 grams white flour
2 teaspoons yeast

I set the bread machine on the dough setting....

then I punched the dough down...and halved it.....then weigh it to make sure it is even......
then divided each half into 5..(to suit our family).....then weigh it to make sure it is even......
each tenth piece then got halved again...and weighed again.......

This makes sure that each roll is very similar in size after rising.......and no fighting...lol
then placed slightly apart on lined baking tray....and covered with plastic wrap....

Then placed in a warm area....because of the heavy rain since we got back home...I have washing TRYING to dry near the heater....so the tray got put on the clotheshorse....
and it worked very nicely.....

I then glazed them all with milk and sprinkled them with Chia seed and sesame seeds.....

Into the oven for about 20minutes on 180c....although I didn't time them....

Fresh and hot out of the oven, they got glazed with milk again....

Sorry, but I do have to blow my own trumpet...These are the best rolls I have ever tasted...soooo light and fluffy...with a lovely soft crust which I like....and a mild tang you get from the Kefir milk.

Next time I will halve the amount of sugar I used....and I will double the time for my Kefir Milk fermentation to 48 hours...

It can only get better from here.....oh and half of them are gone already...I don't think any of these will make it to the freezer.

Are you baking this weekend?
If so, leave a comment about it...
even better; leave a link to your blog about it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On my mind....My Nan, My inspiration

Edeline Parrish was the 6th child born to George Albert PARRISH & Emily Cooper on 22 July 1916, born in Kangaroo Valley, Edeline was one of 8 girls and one boy to George and Emily.

She married her sweetheart Richard Cady in Berry in 1933. In 1934 Edeline and Richards first child; Joyce, was born. Joyce is my mother and for whom I am thankful for giving birth to me and much more. Edeline & Richard went on to have 2 more daughters and 2 sons.

Nan lived a very simple life raising her family on a farm in Foxground....When they moved to Oak Flats to build the family home...it was too new and made Nan uneasy...she soon bought the local Doctor’s surgery from up the street...and had it put on the same large block of land....At this time Oak Fats was still very much unpopulated and these houses were the only ones in the street.

I remember Nan telling me that the house cost $450 pounds....and when Pa came home from work one day...she told him she had spent all of their savings...Nan used to laugh when she told the story of how when they moved the house...having it transported on a truck; they only broke 3 bathroom tiles.... she was very proud of this story and told it to those who would listen.

I have many fond memories involving my time spent with my Nan....When I was little we made the yearly 10 hour drive to spend Christmas with Nan and Pa.....they had these little foot stools that Pa had built....and us kids were allowed to use the magnifying glasses to burn graffiti into them...It was so cool...AND the only time we were allowed to do it too...On our visits, we made kites, went fishing, played at the park, fed the ducks, got shirts made for us out of Wheat and Flour bags......those were the days....Nan never used a pattern either...and only years later had her Singer Push Pedal converted to electricity....

When we went to feed the ducks...I’m sure Nan broke her bread up smaller, just to make the outing last longer....she got a big kick out of feeding the ducks...and even sacrificed fresh bread if we were visiting....I can hear her laughter still.

Nan spent many hours in the kitchen stirring jams and pickles...and preserving other fruits too...but I mainly remember the jams, pickles, pies and KB Rolls....she was a life member of the Red Cross and donated a whole bunch of baked goods for every stall, she never missed one while she was healthy. She tended a great vegetable garden down the side of the house too....which she loved to show off... When visiting years later, I still enjoyed the afternoon walks around the garden with Nan explaining all the things that were going on....

When I had had my first child, we made the big move to the Illawarra...and it was then I was able to help Nan out and spend much more time with her...I used to take Nan to do her shopping...I left her to do her own thing occasionally...but always had one eye on her while doing my shopping.  This way she was able to keep her independence for longer.

I enjoyed those morning phone calls to let me know that IF I was going to bingo that she wasn’t doing anything for the morning and she would come too if I wanted the company…..It was rather funny playing bingo with Nan....having to sympathise with her that she hadn’t won for so long....but knowing full well that she won the previous week or a few weeks before last.

Nan loved to go swimming at the baths at Shellharbour early in the morning. We would do laps starting on the ocean side and we would laugh how we got washed to the other side by the waves lapping the side of the pool....We’d start on one side of the pool, and by the time we had finished the lap....we were on the other side.

Whenever I took Nan for a drive....she was always amazed at the amount of cars lined up in the streets...especially in Oak Flats at the Shopping Center. “Look at all the cars” she would laugh.... She would always be amazed at how much we could achieve together in such as short time having the car to run around in.  I guess my car is a lot faster than a horse and cart…Nan never got her licence, she couldn’t see the need for both her and Pa having a licence.

I can still hear her bursts of laughter when I took her through McDonalds drive through for an ice-cream.... “What! You don’t have to get out of the car to order it?”, “They even hand you the change through the window” she would say....”Now I’ve seen everything....what a silly thing to do....being handed your ice-cream through the window of the car”.

with son Donald
Back row: My Mum and Nan
Front row: Irene, Joe & Evelyn
At the Berry Show
Christmas 1982
Christmas 1982
Evelyn, Don, Pa, Nan, Joyce, Irene
Another Christmas lunch at Nan's
Oak Flats with Douglas (my now DS19)
Oak Flats Rowing Club jetty
Swimming at the baths at Shellharbour
Swimming at the baths at Shellharbour
Nan & Pa's Golden Wedding Anniversary
Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary
4 Generations
Me, Nan, DS19, & my Mum
Cleaning out the flu 
Back Row: Uncle Don, Pa, Nan, Aunty Heather, Uncle Ike (Isaac)
Front Row: Aunty Irene, Uncle Joe, Aunty Evelyn and Joyce (my Mum)
3 sisters
Nan, Aunty Eva, Aunty Millie
I convinced Nan to climb in my father-in-law's truck...
abt 1989
Look how much fun she is having.
Pa & Nan with baby Joyce (my mum)
Pa & Nan with baby Joyce (my mum)
My sister Sue with Nan
Nan survived her sweetheart by 20 long and lonely years...waving to a photo of Pa on her dressing table every morning, saying...”I’ll be with you soon”.  She left behind 14 grand-children and 24 great grand-children and died nine days before she would turn 88 or 14 days before her first great-great-grand-child Callum was born..........

I learnt many skills over the years watching my Nan work....I like to think that she would be proud of me today...doing the things I do....I also like that I am keeping Nan’s memory alive through my blog.....I miss ya Nan!...but I'm happy for you; knowing your finally with Pa........

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