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.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Mandarins galore & Stockpiling Brocoli

First of all, I need to apologise to each and every person who has been following and/or reading my blog....I have been quite swamped these last few weeks, and to say I haven't had time to blog; is an understatement......
Some of you will already know that I am caring for my elderly mother....at the moment, Mum has a torn cartilage in her knee and is waiting to be operated on in September....it is a day only operation, so she will be in and out in the one day....once she starts to get over the operation, at least she will be mobile again......
I also have my DS19 who has lost his licence due to a lack of points, so I need to get up at around 5am every morning now to take him to the train station....I get back home and I have had 20 minutes before taking DS16 off to Work Experience......so I am back home from getting them both on their way by around 6.30am.....All in a days work........a very tiring and long day.
This week, is just train station...ad DS16 is back at school resuming studies for the week, but the following week, he will be on Work Experience again at another location.

Back to blogging....I knocked on a ladies door about ten days ago....Oh My! Has it been that long, she will be thinking I am not coming back....I had been eyeing off her lovely huge mandarin tree for a while now...and it soon got the better of me, and I approached her to ask if I could barter some fruit from her in exchange for some baking.....so this is what I have done with the mandarins so far............

Mandarin Kefir drink

For this amount of Kefir,
I used 2 cups of Mandarin juice
It could have been stronger, but it was lovely just the same.

Mandarin Jelly from "Wonderful ways to prepare PRESERVES by Jo Ann SHIRLEY page 52"

1 1/2kg (3lb) mandarins
1 lemon
15g (1/2 oz) citric acid
11 cups (2 3/4 litres) water
1 3/4 kg (3 1/2lb) sugar
1. Chop the mandarins and the lemon into small bits, peel, pith and all.
2. Mix together the mandarins, lemon, citric acid and water in a large bowl and allow to soak overnight.
3. Transfer to a large saucepan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the lemon rind is tender.
4. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag and allow to drip for at least 12 hours.
5. Pour the juice into a large saucepan and add the sugar.
6. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.
7. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the jelly has reached setting point.
8. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal when cold.

 Today I will strain the pulp and water mix, then tomorrow I will finish the recipe.

Mandarin Cake

While the whizzer is dirty with mulched Mandarin and lemon...I decided to just give it a quick rinse...then make Rhonda's Whole Orange Cake


1 whole orange   
3 eggs
180 g melted butter (6.3 oz)
1 cup white sugar
1½ cups self raising flour OR 1½ plain  (all purpose) flour with 1½ teaspoons baking powder sifted in

I weighed an orange, then used that weight in mandarins.....I also doubled the recipe, which I usually do, seeing the oven is on and there is space......I thought it would be  great way to use up all the little mandarins that are fiddly to peel.....*see note

There are five of the mini bar cakes missing, as we had these for dessert.
Today I will deliver the large cake to the lovely lady that gifted me the mandarins
Then tomorrow I will give her a few jars of the Mandarin Jelly
 Mandarin Icing
* Please take note of the amount of rind you use....I found because I used lots of little mandarins, I had more rind....this made the cake slightly bitter or tangy.......so I decided to ice the cakes...adding a bit more sweet to the cakes paid off. I don't usually ice my cakes, but I think this called for it to be done.....Next time I will roughly guess the amount of rind in an orange, and substitute that same amount in Mandarin Rind.

Add a nob of butter to help make the icing mixture set.
Use mandarin juice to flavour the icing

If it is too thick to spread easily on a cake...........

Add a little more juice.

Broccoli for the freezer
I really admire those of you who can grow your own veg and have the space to grow enough to put up in the freezer....But for me, as I don't have the space in my garden to grow a lot of Broccoli.....I grab it when it is at a great cheap price....This time it was .99cents per kilogram....What a bargain!

I'm trying a new method of draining the broccoli....after blanching in boiling water for 2 minutes...I immersed the broccoli in cold water, changing the water twice with each batch...If you add too much broccoli into the boiling water, it will take longer to come back to the boil, exposing the broccoli to the heat  for longer than needed. Stopping the cooking process quickly in cold water, keeps the lovely green colour that broccoli has.

I love eating the stem of broccoli while preparing the dinner veg, (This is what a like to call a cook's treat, or snack on the go)......as there was far too many stems to munch in one sitting, I decided to give Lacto Fermenting a go...this way, they can be added to a salad plate or at least snacked on straight from the fridge.......

For this amount, I added 1 tablespoon of salt

Add the salted broccoli to a clean sterilised jar, then top with boiled cooled water
Loosely cover with a lid, and leave on the bench at room

Add the salted broccoli stems to a clean sterilised jar, then top with cooled boiled water.
Loosely cover with a jar lid (not shown), and leave at room temperature for 3 to 5 days....tasting every 12 hours or so after day 3.

I'll let you know how it goes........

7 bags of Broccoli for the freezer, some for dinner that night, and the lacto fermented stems....
Not bad for around $4.....

Oh, and the water I used to blanch all that broccoli.....I added some chicken carcasses to it, to make my chicken and veg stock for the week, which I will also be straining today.

Overall, I think I had a pretty productive Sunday. Hope to see you all back....please leave a comment on my blog, I would love to hear from you all.


  1. You are amazing!!! love,andrea

  2. The first picture of the mandarin beverage made my mouth water - and then one picture after another of gorgeous food! Glad I've already had supper, or I'd be ravenous!

  3. Forgot to say, I hope your Mum's knee is not too painful while she's waiting for the surgery.

  4. Busy, busy, woman. Don't forget to take time out to look aft yourself.

  5. I just cannot believe how much alike we are! I just love kindred spirits. We had a bumper crop of mandarins almost two years ago. I cannot believe how creative one can get with a ton of free fruit. We are in the mist of canning four different types of pears currently. I blogged about canning pears last year this time. I am planning on doing some post on the different things I am doing.
    I am wondering if you would be interested in a state side, homesteading, homeschooling crazy canning pen pal? I love pen- pals and have two here in the U.S. I think you would be a wonderful overseas pen-pal. Let me know what you think. Good luck canning. Melissa

  6. Thanks everyone....I love making the best of a product, and try to think of ways of enjoying it again once not in season....I will be adding Mandarin peel to some of my Citrus Cleaner as well, although not too much, as it seems to gel if you do...This is the only citrus peel that has been turning to a gel....once in the vinegar.

    Melissa: I would love to have you as a pen-pal...I've often imagined the two of us canning together...Wow, four different varieties of pear...how lovely...

  7. Well, come on over we can can!!!! Might be a bit of a swim..... Today I canned 7 quarts of pear segments 5 quarts of pear juice for drinking, 7 1/2 pints of pear jelly and the pulp made 2 pints of pear sauce. I am overrun by pears. I have 7 bushels to go. That is over 250 more pounds to can. I am going to try a pear salsa with green and yellow bell peppers. I will snaps some shots and put them up.
    As far as a pen-pal I know I can send a postcard or letter for .96c, (U.S. cents). Just under a Dollar. I am not sure the currency in Australia. I will send you an email in the next day or so and we chat email about addresses and the like.
    Super excited! Melissa


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