Sunday, March 22, 2015

What a super busy year

This year has been amazing in my preserving kitchen. Which is the same as my regular kitchen.... but you know what I mean.
With new friends and new groups has come new food and recipes and ideas!

I have made for the first time ever:
Grape Jelly (gifted Shiraz grapes from a local winery)
CrabApple Jelly (foraged crab apples from our local park)
Cabernet Merlot jelly (left over wine.... yes it can happen!!!)
Apple Juice (thankyou steam juicer I love you)
Apple and Blackberry pie filling(foraged fruit in return for picking some for others)

The list doesn't actuallg end there. This week will be Apple Mint Jelly and Apple Rosehip syrup. And possibly Apple Chutney.

There are more apples and soon quinces and pears and possibly other things.

It's rather hard to beleive I have been so blessed!

My pantry is overflowing with fruit goodness and I have had such a fabulous time with it all.

This week just gone it was a number of loads of apple butter and 15 jars of strawberry jam.

I will need to photograph all my full jars at some stage and probably keep a decent list so I know how many of which things I have made and how many we go through in the year so I can plan for next season.

So much fun!

How has all your preserving been?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Oh how bright the capsicums look!

Today I'm doing pasta sauce again. I say again despite the last time being four (or was it five??) years ago. It has been far too long!

I'm following the recipe from

Once all the veg is chopped and starting to boil it looks like this!!! I ran half the tomatoes through my food mill first this time in an effort to smooth out the sauce to meet with hubby's tastes.

This is what's left after simmering for approximately 3 hours. I'm hoping this will work out at the least cost even with commercial sauces.

I'm using my electric Fowlers preserving kit as my waterbath today. It frees up my stove for more pots. And because it runs essentially like a kettle it boils faster than the pot on my stove.

As you can see there is the unit boiling away while dinner cooks on the stove.

And there are the jars out and cooling.

I had a friend around today who was helping me chop and learning how to do her own sauce. The recycled jars are hers and the Fowlers jars are mine.

My count is 8 jars of sauce from my batch. As per the recipe that was 5 kgs of tomatoes, 4 capsicums, 5 onions, some herbs and spices and salt and sugar and the all-important squeeze of bottled lemon juice in the top of each jar prior to the water bath.

Not including electricity costs this was a total of $16 (including the price of new jar rings for my jars).

These are 600ml jars... at $2 each. This is the equivalent of a jar of commercial sauce on special.... but better as there is much less sugar and salt, no thickener or preservative and i know exactly what went in it!

Insert happy dance here!

Friday, January 16, 2015

I've been busy!

Managed to do some more bottling! Its stone fruit season and although i have no producing trees of my own i have been gifted fruit from my lovely in laws and various neighbours.

Apricots and nectarines followed some plums. I made jam with the first round of plums and have bottled the apricots and nectarines in water.

I have another round b of plums to convert into jam and plum sauce over the next few days and after that, peaches will be ready!

It feels fabulous to be getting back into it again. My pantry is looking happy and I'm gearing up for a big tomato round in early February. Cant wait to have a cupboard full of home made pasta sauce and salsa again!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A baking post... again

So I have been baking again today, and decided to document an experiment with muffins.

Normally I bake a lovely cupcake recipe I found online here  This recipe is fabulous and ticks all my dietary requirement boxes - gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free. The only bit it doesnt cover is... what happens when all my chickens are either broody or off the lay and I have no eggs.

The nature of coconut flour is that it absorbs moisture at a great rate. It is, after all, around 50% fibre. So lots of eggs are usually used. I wanted to play with some of the vegan egg replacement options instead.

For today, I opted for the "flax egg", a teaspoon of ground flaxseed mixed with a tablespoon of water, per egg.

So.... in pictures, what has happened in my kitchen this evening.

The red liners are the flax egg version, the black belong to the egged up ones.

Needless to say, flax egg did not work in this recipe at all.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Back on the horse at last

So,  as you can see from the attached photos, a number of exciting things have happened.
Firstly,  the new oven  that I have scrimped and saved and struggled for its here,  it's working perfectly, and I have been baking and baking and baking.

Secondly,  inspired in part by new stove, in part by a helping hand call out and in part by large bags of veg at cheap prices at my local,  the canner came out, was dusted off,  and put back to work yesterday.

See the pics of my cupboard? Do you have any idea how amazingly good I feel having just those few full jars in there? It's like the return of a favorite blanket,  missed for many years that I have just found again! I'm all warm and fuzzy.

The specifics - raw pack, hot jars, hot stock,  pressure canned as per the ball blue book. Notice I used Mason jars this time.  I still have all my fowlers jars,  but I honestly don't think I'll use them for pressure canning again.  Tomatoes and fruits and anything waterbath, definitely,  but I wasn't overly happy with the rubbers on the Fowlers jars after pressure canning. 

Big W are now stocking Mason jars where they used to stock Fowlers. While the prices are not bad,  Red Back Trading online store had much better prices especially if you buy in bulk. Shipping will be a factor unless you live in Melbourne but I think the prices still come in cheaper.

I refused to put my canner away in its dark corner again. I have moved it to the cupboard where the full jars are kept,  so I see it often.  I must honestly say I'm envisioning much harder, leaner times in my future (if not all of our futures) and I am going to make the commitment here and now to restock my pantry and with it, my frugal habits. 

It's past time for me to start over.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Baking, with a twist

The wait for the oven is doing weird things to my brain. The other day i bought real vanilla extract at the supermarket. The REAL stuff, not the essence that i have always used and was raised with.
I don't really know why, because there is no oven yet.
Or is there?

I need to bake. I'm over the cupcakes in the little electric cupcake machine. I need to make cookies.
Time to put on my MacGyver hat.

There is a relatively new appliance in the house which has, in 3 uses, already paid for itself. Its a little electric pizza oven. It only has the cheap teflon tray, not the stone ware one, but it is fun to use and very easy to make personalized, cheap pizzas on.

I reckon you can make cookies on it too.
I must apologise for the term "cookies" here, i used American recipes and i got stuck in good 'ol US of A land for a bit.

I found a gluten free, dairy free recipe that DIDN'T say it made 7 dozen biscuits (surprisingly hard to find), made some quick substitutions, and had some thing resembling crumbs in my bowl. so i added two eggs and started rolling biscuit balls.

The first batch through the pizza oven were testers. They all disappeared in about5 seconds.

Heartened, i added some plum jam and some fig jam to the centres of the next lot.
I may have been over confident, because my fig jam oozed out and burnt.

Take that how you will!

After a quick wash of the tray, i rolled the rest into little flat rounds and cooked them too.
All in all i'm relatively happy with my days experimenting, although again, cooking in such small batches at one time seems like a lot of time used up for a tiny result.
BUT you can bake cookies in an electric pizza oven.
So there.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Co-ops and cooktops, fridges and free time

Free time. That thing you always said you'd have more of once the kids were at kindly. Then school. Then once school holidays come round when you are no longer interrupted by pick up and drop off timetables. That thing you knew you needed before you could get back into baking, do more preserving, spend more time doing what you always wanted.

It doesn't exist, folks. There is no such thing as free time! It's all made up, it's a fallacy, a lie!

Since reaching this conclusion, along with one related to it (that of One Day I'll - there never is that one day), I have determined that i will make things happen TODAY!

And so, things have happened.

I bought a fridge, about 100 litres bigger than the old one.

I put a 5 burner oven/cooktop combo on layby.

And i joined a new organic local food co-op where i can bulk buy again.

My first pickup is due next week and i have to admit I'm excited. I ordered bulk coconut milk, oil, flour and cream, and some tinned legumes. Some buck wheat grain and some lovely local honey.

I put in an order for some bulk glass sauce bottles too, only we didn't meet minimums this month from that supplier so i will try that again next month.

I think in order to get to where i want to be, i have to go there despite the struggles, otherwise nothing will happen. So onwards and upwards i go!

P.s. thanks to a share on Facebook my breakfasts these days consists alternately of traditional porridge and chilled raw chia seed porridge. Easy as pie to make the latter. Some chia seeds, some coconut, some random dried fruit, soaked overnight in a milk of your choice. I sometimes drizzle with honey. Sometimes put in a grated apple as per the original recipe too. Delicious!
The former is cheats fast porridge, rolled oats that i have thrown in the blender to cut up small, some more dried fruit, milk and microwave.