The Pantry Project

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It is hard to believe that it is almost 3 months since I wrote this post about my new labeller.  Although that post was about labelling the small drawers in my sewing room, if I am really honest, my main motivation was so that I could re-organise my pantry and label everything.

Unfortunately, the labeller has languished in the cupboard while the state of the pantry went steadily downhill.  Until yesterday.  The thing that finally prompted me was the arrival of some more Mason jars that I had ordered online.  They would not fit in the cupboard as it stood so this required some major re-thinking.

I am really very fortunate to have plenty of storage space so it was simply a matter of utilising it better.  I have a large corner pantry as well as a floor-to-ceiling cupboard on the other side of the refrigerator.  There had previously been a mix of both food and other items in both cupboards so the first step was to remove the remaining foodstuffs (mostly canned goods and jars) from the cupboard.

I did not take any before photos as I launched into this endeavour early yesterday morning without a specific plan.

This is the cupboard once I had finished it.

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The top shelf is pretty much as it was with the Soda Stream, Easiyo, bucket with spare gas cylinder and Soda Stream bottles and pasta attachments for my KitchenAid mixer.  The pasta attachments were previously in the corner pantry.

The second shelf has 2 plastic tubs of glass jars and bottles which I use for storing juice and homemade sauces.  I have culled these considerably over a period of time as I have invested in more Mason jars.  In fact, I was able to swap them from a large and medium tub to a medium and small tub and move them from the top shelf of the corner pantry to this shelf which means they are much more accessible.  The large plastic tub fits neatly in the bottom of one side of the wardrobe in the sewing room so I will utilise it there.  But first, I have to finish the cupboard and the corner pantry.

The third shelf is various sizes of Mason and Weck jars with some spare lids and bands as well as a pair of lifting tongs from my most recent order.  These will make retrieving jars from the hot water bath much safer and easier.

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The bottom shelf is 4 buckets of bread flour – 2 white, 1 wholemeal and 1 rye.  This is GMan’s domain as he amkes the bread.

The corner pantry is still a work in progress but more about that tomorrow.

Mothers Day Makeover

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For those of you who think this post is going to be about me with a new hairstyle or looking particularly glamorous, you are going to be disappointed.

GMan and I spent a good portion of yesterday and today (Mothers Day) working on a garden project.

Here are some before shots.

January 2018

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Then we planted some shrubs.

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Easter 2018 – GMan and my brother dug 6 holes and put in 3 posts.

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GMan and I then finished the remaining posts but then there was no more progress during April as we were busy socialising and celebrating.

Part of the grand plan for this space was to remove a portion of the lawn and plant some low to medium height native shrubs.  We had already planted a few in January and will add some more soon.

GMan dug up all of the lawn in squares then we covered the area with cardboard which we had been collecting for some time.  It makes a great weed suppressant and breaks down over time.  Finally, we covered the area with mulch which had been languishing in a pile below the chicken run.  This mulch resulted from some tress we had lopped ages ago.

I did not take any photos during the process as I was busy loading cut turf into the wheelbarrow and relaying it elsewhere.

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We did not have to move the turf too far as we have relaid beside the path just inside the gate.  It is a bit uneven in places but is an improvement on the state of this space previously.

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There is more to do yet – we will complete the portico and plant flowering creepers to cover it, plant some more shrubs and build a gabion seat in near the corner of the mulched area.

Like every area of our garden this corner is a work in progress and will develop over time.

 

 

Re-Purposed Boxes

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I am not a great fan of re-purposing as I feel that some people use it as an excuse for not trying to reduce the stuff (particularly packaging) that they acquire.  However, sometimes it is impossible to to gain items.  This was the case recently when my birthday gift from my work colleagues came in 3 matching cardboard boxes.  They looked too good to simply put into the recycling so I put them in the cupboard with the vague notion that I may be able to reuse them as gift boxes as they had no visible brand name on them.

Today I needed to pack up my sewing as I was going to a production day for our Boomerang Bag group.  I keep all of the sewing threads in a small plastic basket but it was not really easily transportable as it does not have a lid.  Additionally, the basket was overflowing, thanks to several reels of thread that had been given to me recently.

Thank goodness for the boxes.

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The threads fitted easily in 2 of the boxes and I put the box of bobbins as well as scissors, pins etc in the third box.

The slide-on covers mean that things could not fall out during transport.

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I have decided to keep the threads in the 2 boxes on the shelves in my sewing room.  The other notions are back in their regular places and the third box is available to transport them on future occasions.

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The small white basket at the far left of the shelf is identical to the empty one which previously held the threads.  I will probably rearrange things of some of the shelves and use it for storing other items.

The plastic baskets have stood the test of time as I originally bought them for dividers in the drawers of our bathroom vanity unit.  I subsequently replaced them with some straight-sided containers which were a better fit for that space.

Citrus Season

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Although we grow a range of fruit and vegetables, it is the citrus harvest that can be truly overwhelming.  We have 3 orange and 3 lemon trees as well as a mandarin, grapefruit and lime.  The lemons are the least prolific,  I manage to use the limes as they are ready, we eat the mandarins but the grapefruit and oranges are simply too many to manage.

So, we juice them and freeze the juice in 2 litre ice-cream tubs for use throughout the year.  I had a citrus juicer attachment for my food processor which has worked admirably for a number of years.  However, last year it became obvious that it was failing.  On closer examination, I discovered that several of the plastic cogs which drive the mechanism had broken.  As the season went on a few more broke until the attachment was pretty well useless.

Over the past 6 months or so we have researched and discussed our options as it is clear that we need to have some sort of electric citrus juicer.  I contemplated buying a replacement attachment for the food processor but it did not appear identical to the original and there was the small issue that it would only last a few years before ending up in the same state as the existing one.

We finally decided to bite the bullet and buy a commercial-grade citrus juicer from Ceado (an Italian brand).  We picked it up last week and I have now re-arranged my appliance cupboard to make space for it.

Here it is – bright, shiny and ready to use.

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With the lid opened you can see the reamer cone and the press which holds the fruit in place.

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We have been picking limes and a few lemons in the past couple of weeks, however, the purchase is very timely as the grapefruit are ripening quickly and we will be picking them by the bucketful within the next few weeks.

I know that the juicer will get a real workout and I look forward to sharing the results with you.

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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End of Easter

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Well, it is nearly 2 weeks since my last post and I honestly cannot remember what I have been doing, apart from to say that I was totally occupied by my paid work in the run-up to the Easter break and I spent a most enjoyable Easter with various members of my extended family.  There was not a chocolate in sight…………….however, 4 generations of my family were able to enjoy a shared lunch on Saturday.

GMan, my brother and I worked hard to earn our lunch as we positioned and concreted these 3 posts in place.

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This followed on from the 6 holes they had dug the day before.  It is all part of a project which has spent several years in the ‘dreaming’ pile and has now started to come to fruition.  You can read about it here.  We hope to have the other 3 posts positioned and concreted next weekend.  I am busily working on the design of the rest of the construction and hopefully it will not take too long to complete.

There were some other fun and games as my brother-in-law extricated a visitor from the hen house.  He had been there for a couple of days and we think he was looking for a warm, dry spot to digest what looked like a substantial meal.

Anyway, it was time to move along…………

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And off to a more appropriate spot………………….

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Today was quieter and an opportunity to catch up on some jobs at home so that I can start the working week with a clean slate.  I am pleased to report that all of the washing and ironing are done as well as some voluntary admin work completed.  I even made time to do a little bit of sewing.

I hope you had a safe and relaxing Easter break, too.