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.

 

 

 

 

 

Saving Scraps

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I have read many times about people saving their vegetables scraps/peelings and using them to make vegetable stock.  I take a slightly different approach and dehydrate them to make stock powder.  The end result is the same but I find it easier to make and it takes up minimal storage space.

This is my dehydrator.

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I had some broccoli stalks, kale stalks as well as some carrot and onion ends stored in the freezer so I spread them on the tray of the dehydrator and let it work its magic which took about 24 hours.  You need to make sure that the vegetables are thoroughly dried.

This was the result.

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I place the dried pieces in the small spice grinder attachment for my food processor and blitz them until they are a fine powder.

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I generally store the jar in the freezer as it does not contain any preservatives.  This partially filled small Vegemite jar is the yield from my tray of vegetable scraps.

While I have chickens and a compost heap, it is nice to actually be able to use these scraps and not have to buy packaged stock powder.

Pizza Recipe – An Update

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2017-04-20 01

It has been brought to my attention that I made what could only be described as a monumental error in the recipe for the pizza bases which I posted yesterday.

There were 2 lines which were different quantities of olive oil – one line should have read ‘warm water’.  This has now been corrected and I sincerely hope that no-one has made it from the original copy.

Secondly, in response to a comment on the post I will explain a little about psyllium.  Yes, it is a laxative but that is not the reason for using it in the pizza bases.  As Monica Topliss, the author of the recipe book explains, it is the ‘secret ingredient’ in many of her gluten-free recipes as it provides the elasticity that is lacking with the absence of gluten.  Using this theory I have managed to successfully make my own gluten-free pasta.  Psyllium is also purported to assist in lowering cholesterol levels.  Here in Australia it is readily available in supermarkets and health food shops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Future-Proofing

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Well, it is 3 days since my last post in which I shared our concern for the residents of north Queensland who were in the path of Cyclone Debbie.  What a 3 days it has been!

In 72 hours Cyclone Debbie has flattened the island resorts of the Whitsunday Islands and the adjacent mainland towns of Airlie Beach and Prosperine as a Category 4 cyclone before being downgraded as it moved inland.  Most of these areas are still without power or water and this situation is likely to continue for several more days, at least.

As predicted, the system then turned south east and headed towards the densely populated south-east corner of Queensland, including Brisbane.  For almost 24 hours we experienced substantial rainfall and some high winds – but of course, nothing like the conditions endured by those who were in the direct path of the cyclone.

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This is a view of part of our backyard this morning during a break in the rain.  The water in the background is not normally part of the landscape.  The ‘lake’ develops as the run-off from the mountain behind us pools in the low-lying part of our property.  It is not as extensive as some other occasions and will drain over the next few days.

The area where we live lost power about 2pm today and do not expect it to be restored until at least midday tomorrow.  There are currently thousands of consumers in Brisbane and the surrounding areas without power.  We are fortunate to be reaping the benefit of our decision to install a grid-connected battery system almost 18 months ago.  You can read about it here.

While it is great to be able to use our stored power each evening, the real benefit of the system is that it provides us with a power source in the event of a power failure from the grid.  Whether it is extreme weather or any other reason it is reassuring to know that we are not reliant on the grid for power.  This experience has confirmed the importance of a degree of self-reliance and we are extremely glad to be in this position.

 

Stay Safe

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My internet has been somewhat unreliable over the past few days, hence the lack of posts.  I had several ideas but have shelved them for tonight as I would simply like to say to everybody in north Queensland who is in the path of Cyclone Debbie, “Please take care and stay safe.  We are thinking of you and praying that you will be safe”.

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What I Do

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It is nearly a week since I last posted and you are probably been wondering what I’ve been doing.  Some days I wonder the same thing.  My full-time job keeps me pretty busy and t here is always plenty to do when I am at home.  So much so that I barely have enough time (or energy) to blog about it.

Here is a sample of one of the things I did today.

GMan picked up a large bucket full of passionfruit that had fallen from the vine.  The easiest way to store passionfruit is to simply scoop out the pulp and freeze in ice-cube trays.

Some of the fruit ready to cut.

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Work in progress.

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Ready for the freezer.

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Despite the fact that the garden gets minimal attention we still manage to harvest a range of produce.  Over the past few weeks we have picked passionfruit, pineapple, mangoes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and raspberries.

Stockpiling

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This blog post is copied from a post I wrote in another forum.  I am interested in your thoughts.

Is stockpiling a saving or ‘dead money’?

I do not stockpile to save money as such but I do have enough basic foods and essentials such as toothpaste and toilet paper to see us through a minimum of 4 weeks and in most instances, much longer. I am very confident that I could feed us for 3 months. There might be some odd meals but we would be fed.

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Why? It is generally acknowledged that supermarkets carry 3 days worth of stock and rely on ‘just in time’ deliveries. As we endure more severe and frequent weather events it is prudent to consider being independently responsible for your wellbeing during and immediately after these events. You will never find me queuing for fuel, buying bread or filling gas bottles as a cyclone approaches. It is already done as part of our day to day routine.

It can be something as simple as being unwell or busy at work and you can feed yourselves from what you have on hand. Some years ago I was snowed under at work and barely had time to do the basics so each week I would grab some fruit and veg and everything else came from the freezer or pantry. I did this for 7 consecutive weeks!

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By having enough on hand you will be less likely to pop into the shop and grab unnecessary items while you are there = savings.

Remember the mantra – “eat what you store and store what you eat”. In other words, do not store ‘special stuff’ for your stockpile. Do not keep 100 tins of baked beans if your family do not eat baked beans.

Whatever stock you have should be rotated. I keep 2 large tins of tuna in my pantry. When I use one I buy another. I always place the new can on the bottom of the pile.

Consider using a permanent marker to write the purchase date and month on bottles and cans eg: 10.16 for October 2016. This means that you can see at a glance what needs to be used first.

Keep track of what you have by doing a regular stocktake.

Make sure you have suitable storage containers and conditions. Food which deteriorates is a waste of money.

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My recommendation is to try to store enough food to feed your family for 2 weeks beyond your normal shopping cycle. Start small and add an extra can or packet as you can afford.

Stockpiling may save you a little money but in the long run, I think the time and sanity savings are far greater as well as the peace of mind of not being totally dependent on the vagaries of the supply chain.