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.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

30 Minute Stock

Yep, you read it right!
I've been experimenting with my Pressure Cooker after rescuing it from the top of a cupboard in my kitchen. It's been there since I bought it, remembering the complete disaster  I had with a find at an op-shop when I was first married. This attempt involved complete bowing of the bottom of the pot. No instructions, no internet...........It's taken me 20 years to give them another go.

But this time I would be prepared...boasting to hubby on the phone that I would be using it that night; I'd let him know the outcome the following morning when we talked again. Turns out I wasn't that prepared after all...........The meal would need to be cooked the following evening because......
When you first buy a Pressure Cooker, you need to season the pot before you cook in it.
Don't forget to take time to read all the instructions that came with the cooker.

To season your new Pressure Cooker....
Season the rim of the pot with a little cooking oil. This lubricates the lid and the pot making it easier to remove the lid.
Fill the Pressure Cooker to half way with cold water.
Place the lid on according to the instructions
Heat until steam releases, then turn the heat down and allow to 'season' for another 20 minutes.
Then turn the heat off and leave to stand until cold. Do not remove the lid until the whole unit is cold.

Meal number one....Beef Stew
*Huge success with minimal fuss.
*25 minutes under pressure
*You can see how the meat just falls apart.
Now onto some much needed STOCK.
I was pleased to discover that our local Meat Market had re-opened...so I went to check it out.
I bought home two big bags of Beef Bones $4 each....and two big bags of Chicken Carcasses $2 each.
Baking all the bones in the oven, gives you a deeper, richer flavour....
Beef Bones
Ready for the oven
Using half the baked beef bones, I went on to add other usual ingredients that I put in a stock....
The other half of the baked beef bones are labelled and in the freezer for another stock day.

Add 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 sticks of celery, fresh herbs and mixed spices
Cover with 3 litres of water. Make sure your pot is never more than two-thirds full for stock.

Put the lid on following the instructions....then once the steam starts to come out of the relief valve....turn the heat down low and allow to cook for a further 30 minutes. Allow to cool or release the steam as per instructions and reveal a lovely stock, ready to strain.

Beef Stock in a Pressure Cooker
While the oven was on I also baked the Chicken Carcasses....
I'll be making Chicken Stock using half of these baked chicken bones today....and the other half will go in the freezer for when I want to make some more.
Baked Chicken Bones
 Do you make stock? 
Do you use a pressure cooker? 
What do you cook in your pressure cooker?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wood Stoves & Charities

I've always admired the people who are equipped to cook on a wood stove in their kitchen. Glimpses take me back to my childhood to a few of those people. The first that comes to mind was my best friends Nanna. Nanna Humphries taught me how yummy mushrooms were, by dabbing a bit of butter directly on the hotplate and frying a freshly gathered mushroom right on the heat....a pinch of salt and ohhhhhh sooo yummy. I couldn't wait to run home and tell mum I finally like mushrooms. I'm sure she was most impressed as mushroom hunting was a weekend event we enjoyed quite regularly.(I never liked the way Mum cooked mushies back then...even though I cook them the same now)...lol

Aunty Milly (my Nan's sister) and Uncle Lindsay lived in Ardmona Victoria and ran a Dairy Farm. I always got up earlier than the others because if I was sneaky enough I could pour fresh milk on my cereal without stirring the cream in. "Did you stir the cream in before you poured your milk Narelle?"
"Yes Aunty", I'd reply.....I think she knew better though...lol

On childhood visits I recall cooking toast on the fire with Aunty and her always having a huge teapot of hot water on hand...even for washing the dishes. A good cook knows how many logs of Red-gum and how many of Yellow-box will make a good batch of scones; Aunty was one of 'those' cooks. She certainly knew her Slow Combustion Stove and she knew her cooking too. The taste of smokey toast after being 'blackened' by the open fire was delicious...or maybe it was the farm fresh butter.....even if I did have to scrape half the charred remains off. The mere fact that I was allowed to fork a slice of bread and sit at the fire to 'toast' it, was good enough for me. We certainly weren't allowed or able to do anything like that back at home.

I recently spent the weekend in Mudgee with Hubby and the family he is boarding with while away for work. What a wonderful family they are too. I never imagined that allowing my hubby to live with another family would be so hard.  BUT....all my fears and insecurities have now been washed away after spending the weekend with them. I felt right at home and am also able to join in the conversation now with Hubby when he talks of  the people 'I didn't know'...It's great, as I am able to relate to everything much easier...and I'm welcome back there any time as they say I'm now part of the family too.

While there I was able to cook on top of a wood stove all weekend ... which was heaven. I was truly in my element...only problem now is that I am looking for ways to incorporate a wood stove here....the family think I'm nuts..all that extra work....lol.. A girl can dream though hey!

Sure, the cooking can be fantastic, but the money saved in heating excites me big time. I heard on the radio this morning that electricity prices in the Illawarra will rise by 18% next month...and even though I have natural gas for heating, we have three heaters on our property that can all be on at once sometimes.....If I could limit the amount of gas used in the winter months, by rendering fat, brewing soups, drying clothes, enjoying the warmth, ect on a wood stove I'm sure we could come out in front.......

I figure if I have any chance of installing a wood fire in our house...I better get rid of some stuff! Lately it seems that almost every room in the house has become a spare room...so I'm decluttering the spare room and moving things around to get things fitting back in there. Maybe then I will be able to work on decluttering the kitchen and moving larger items into the spare room.
My larder takes up an entire wall of the dining room and it's hard to do a full day of cooking up and down the step that divides the two rooms. I'd dearly love to have the dining room floor built up to the same level as the kitchen...So I've kind of set myself a 12 month plan to be ready for next winter......but to do all that renovation...(as cheap as possible of-course).......
I first need to de-clutter....

If your local to the Illawarra area and are looking for a good place to recycle your old computers...look no further than the Illawarra Computer Bank.....they do a great service providing people with computers who can't afford to buy one......
Donating 2 computers & 16 boxes of books
Not a bad start to a dream

Also, if your looking for a good charity to donate books to...Lifeline runs a 3 day book fair every year raising thousands of much needed dollars. The profits of which go toward supporting Lifeline South Coast activities in our community.

Do you have a wood heater or wood stove? What tips do you have?
Maybe you have used these charities before....I'd love to hear about it. 
Do you attend the book fairs?
Maybe you know of another charity similar in your area.  
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