Something from Nothing (Almost)

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About a week ago I made Thai Beef Salad for dinner.  The first step was to marinate some thinly sliced beef which was done the day before.  I did not not have a recipe for the marinade but it did include lime juice, olive oil and fresh chillies.

On the night I quickly pan-fried the beef before adding it to the salad.  The meal was truly delicious.

However, the essence of this post is the residue that remained in the pan.  After dinner I added a cup of water to the pan and heated it gently to lift the remnants of beef marinade.  This resulted in a rich and tasty ‘stock’ which I allowed to cool and then froze.

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Today I thawed this to make gravy.  All that was required was a sprinkle of herb salt and 1 tablespoon of arrowroot blended with a little water and I had a delicious gravy.

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A simple yet tasty meal – sausages with mash, peas and carrots topped with gravy made from last week’s pan residue.

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Rescued Fruit

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Even though I do my best to minimise my waste on a personal level, it can be very difficult to control the waste that occurs in other facets of my life, most notably my workplace.  I work in a corporate office and there are instances where there is catering ordered for business lunches and so on.  I generally try to make sure that any leftovers are not wasted.  Last week there was a small amount left on a fruit platter which I retrieved with no particular plan in mind.  I decided to put it in a container in the freezer with a view to using it for smoothies at a later date.

Yesterday morning I removed this frozen block of mixed fruit which included a couple of types of melon, strawberries, grapes and a few blueberries.

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Into the blender…………

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I added juice of a lime and a banana and blended it until smooth.

About 1/3 of the mixture was added to a small amount of water and became part of my breakfast.

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The remainder went back in the freezer.  I whizzed it briefly in the evening and we had a delicious fruit sorbet for dessert.

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It is a small but important step to save whatever perfectly good food that I can.  Otherwise, I know it will simply be thrown out.

Christmas 2017 – A Review

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Christmas is over for another year.  I did not write about Christmas preparations because there really were not any preparations.  We arrived back at the beginning of December from our 4 week trip to the UK.  I had organised a week at the beach earlier in the year and bought experience gifts for our daughters and granddaughters.

I planned the menu, gathered up the food and utensils as well as some beach attire and headed off last weekend.

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We had a delightful week of relaxation and casual living.  The biggest decision I had to make was whether to do some more of the jigsaw or play another game of ‘Upwords’.

My daughter and I went to church on Christmas Eve.

The menu for Christmas Day was chosen to fit with hot weather at the beach and there were next to no leftovers.

Proscuitto wrapped asparagus and haloumi
Cold curried chicken
Rice
Parsley and cranberry crusted salmon
Mango and avocado salad
Beetroot and feta salad
Green bean salad with slivered almonds
Meringue roulade with berries and pistachio nuts

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A couple of days after Christmas I finally wrote a Christmas letter and emailed it to my close friends.

So, that was it – no tree, no decorations, no mad rushing around choosing gifts for the sake of it, no looking for a hundred ways to serve ham in January.  I know that this is simply not feasible for many people but every second year our Christmas is an adults only affair so we can approach the day quite differently.

I feel as though I drifted through the second half of 2017 in a haze of inertia following the death of A (our daughter’s partner) in May so relaxing with all of my immediate family was just the antidote we all needed.

I don’t have any major resolutions or grand plans for next year, however, I look forward to 2018 with the optimism that seems to greet every new year.

I hope your Christmas was what you had hoped and all the best for the New Year.

My next blog post will be looking forward to 2018 which conveniently begins on a Monday.  I  like the idea of a nice, neat start to the week and year.  Anyone else feel like this?

Holiday Learning

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Education comes in all sorts of guises and is not necessarily undertaken in the classroom.

It has been school holidays here for the past two weeks and our granddaughters came to visit for a couple of days.  As always, they enjoy activities which they do not have access to at home.

The citrus trees still had plenty of fruit so they picked 2 buckets full of oranges and then it was time to squeeze them.

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They both had plenty of opportunity to hone their skills and Olivia was also able to cut the oranges.

The weather has been very dry recently and last week was particularly hot so watering the garden was essential.  There is not a lot growing at the moment but plenty of water has ensured that the young bean plants survived the heat.

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It is difficult to think of anything that is more important to learn than nurturing, picking and preparing your own food.  I find it very gratifying to be able to share these skills with the girls and encourage their interest.

 

 

My Minimalism

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I often read or hear people asking quantitative questions with regard to minimalism.  These generally revolve around how many of something you need.  Examples include, “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” or “How many sets of clothes do I need for a 2 year old?”

Additionally, there are numerous blogs and articles out there which exhort you to get rid of appliances or say that one set of crockery per person is all you need.

Conversely, I maintain that minimalism should not be prescriptive and that each person has different circumstances and will make their own choices.

The thing that defines minimalism to me is that whatever you own is mindfully curated and limits are set.

In particular, I have been reminded recently of variations in kitchen requirements.  We grow some of our own food and naturally we end up with a glut of certain produce from time to time.  I do my best not to waste it.  Processing a large quantity of produce is generally when appliances come into their own.

I can happily squeeze 2 or 3 oranges using this vintage glass juicer.

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But when it comes to juicing the 160 grapefruit that we have picked in the last 2 weeks I have neither the time or energy to do them by hand.  My trusty food processor with the citrus juicer attachment comes into its own.

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This was one batch of about 60 grapefruit that I juiced last weekend.  In the space of 30 minutes I had several bottles of juice for GMan plus containers of juice to freeze for future use.

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Citrus are not the only produce that I deal with in bulk amounts.

Some time ago I bought a 20kg bag of onions.  Once again, I routinely dice one or two onions using a sharp knife but the food processor with the cutting blade is invaluable for processing larger quantities of onions.

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I chopped 3kg of onions and then used another appliance – my dehydrator – to dry them.

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24 hours later  – back to the food processor, but this time with the spice grinder attachment.

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The end result was dried onion flakes and onion powder which cost me $3 and a little time as compared to nearly $13 to buy the same quantity from the supermarket.  As an added bonus there is no packaging either.

I have used the deydrator to make garlic powder, tomato powder and vegetable stock powder using the same general method.

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Then there is the Kitchen Aid mixer which I regularly use to make spreadable butter, pizza bases, combine various flours for my gluten-free flour mix, the occasional cake and GMan uses it when making sourdough bread.  It also has a pasta attachment which I use occasionally.

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The high-speed blender is also used regularly to make smoothies, mango sorbet and peanut paste to name but a few.

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So, my minimalist kitchen is probably a joke in some people’s eyes but it works for me.

However, I do not have single-purpose appliances such as a waffle maker, ice-cream maker, hot dog maker and so on.

You see, minimalism really is what is right for the individual and their circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Loaf

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I thought the sourdough loaf that GMan managed to produce 3 months ago was good and you can see it here.  He has continued to work on fine-tuning the method and I think his most recent effort is pretty well perfect.

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It must be about time he tried making that gluten-free starter for me.  🙂

Bad vs. Worse

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You would think that a single-use plastic take-away food container would be the last thing I would post about during Plastic-Free July.  Bear with me while I explain.

During the week there was a meeting at work which I was not involved in but this was some of the leftover lunch catering.  At the end of the day someone mentioned that if anyone could use the leftovers to please take them.  I am one of the last to leave the office so I had quite a pile to take with me.  The first stop was to leave a tray of sandwiches and wraps at the park for some of the homeless who are often nearby.

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This container had not been opened and contained a mix of pumpkin, onion and baby spinach.  It seemed to have a seasoned oil dressing on it.

This morning I decided to make a vegetable curry.  The pumpkin chunks had not been peeled so I removed the skin.  I know that it is edible, however, I choose not to do so.

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I fried a couple of small chillies (diced) and some curry paste, added green beans and capsicum (bell pepper), some coconut cream and finally the pumpkin and spinach.

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This was our dinner which I served with some brown rice.

So, I have acquired a plastic container.  However, I saved perfectly good food from landfill.  The container will be used many times over.

I also salvaged some fruit from the same event.  The container on the left is my lunchbox which I filled with fruit that was on skewers (kebab-style) and the other container was provided by the caterers.  This is now in my recycling bin.

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I put all of the fruit in the blender along with some frozen pineapple, passionfruit and mango from the freezer.  This made enough for 4 large semi-frozen fruit smoothies.  Here is mine which I had for breakfast.

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I could have refused to have anything to do with this excess food because of the plastic waste, however, I chose to take responsibility for it and use the food as well as doing the best I can with the plastic.  Much better than it all ending up in landfill.  Do you agree?