Making Breakfast

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It is Saturday morning here in Australia so it was time for a slightly more leisurely breakfast than our normal weekday routine.  We leave too early to consider having breakfast before we go so I have all of the necessities in my desk and I eat breakfast at the office.

Today, however, I had to make up some more cereal as I had run out.  I eat a gluten-free diet so I make my version of muesli.

Gluten-free Muesli (bulk quantity)

3 cups pepitas
3 cups sunflower seeds2 cups dessicated coconut
1 cup flaxseed meal
2 cups almonds (chopped)
2 cups sultanas
1/4 cup powdered cinnamon

Combine all ingredients and then store in an airtight container.

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Breakfast

3 spoons of muesli
1 spoon chia seeds
1 spoon psyllium husk

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I then add 2 – 3 serves of fruit and enough water to absorb the chia and psyllium.  You could use milk or yoghurt if you wish but I choose not to have them on my cereal.  If the fruit you have is lacking in moisture or intense flavour you could also use a little fruit juice.

Today I used 2 cubes each of frozen mango puree and passionfruit pulp which were surplus from the summer as well as 1/4 of a home-grown pawpaw which was given to me yesterday.

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A truly refreshing start to the day.

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A Lasting Legacy

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When we consider what constitutes a legacy, recipes handed down through the generations may feature.  However, it is not often that the recipe for a salad eaten in a restaurant would be remembered in these terms.

The salad we ate at Antique Taco in Chicago last year was no ordinary salad.  Fortunately, there is a reasonably detailed description on the menu.

I have made my version of this salad several times and it is an absolute favourite.

The kale we have growing has reached a suitable size so it was an obvious choice for dinner last night.

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ANTIQUE TACO SALAD

Finely chopped kale (remove and discard the thick central stem)
Finely chopped onion
Diced capsicum (bell pepper)
Spiced peanuts
Dried cranberries

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Combine the ingredients and then make the dressing.

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DRESSING

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon lime juice

Mix thoroughly and season with a little salt and pepper.

Drizzle dressing over the salad and toss to thoroughly coat the kale.

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This was our dinner – soft corn tortillas filled with refried beans, spicy pan-fried capsicum and onion strips and grated cheese.  Served with kale salad, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes.

I am trying to incorporate something we have grown into each of our meals and last night it was cherry tomatoes and kale.

Garden Notes – Raspberries and Rocket

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We have fruit trees and a vegetable garden.  Some years the vegetables garden does better than others.  A lot depends on the weather and how organised I am.

This year I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to successfully produce more of our own food.  Since the hot summer is over and we finally have some moderate autumn weather I have made a start on planting.

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The lettuce and kale seedlings which I planted about 5 weeks ago are now thriving full-sized plants and we are enjoying plenty of fresh lettuce.  I planted red cabbage seedlings about 10 days ago and they are established and looking healthy.

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On the weekend I sorted through a pile of seed packets which I store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Many of them are expired but I decided that I had nothing to lose by planting them.

There are bush beans interplanted with the red cabbage. Coriander and rocket are in the freshly-dug strip in the background of the same photo.  I am excited to report that exactly 48 hours after planting them, the rocket seeds have germinated and I now have hundreds of tiny, two-leaved seedlings.  Other beds have carrot, red onion, peas and radishes.  If they all grow I will have a bumper harvest, if not I will try again with some fresh seeds.

Some seeds are best raised in seed trays before transplanting them.  These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery and spinach.  Here they are on a temporary potting table which I created from a couple of sawhorses and a piece of pool fencing.  There is another piece of pool fencing over the top in an attempt to prevent the chickens from digging them up when they are free-ranging.

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Here is a close-up of the trays with their labels cut out of an old ice-cream container.

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Finally, I wanted to show you the raspberry canes on the left-hand side of the photo below.

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We have a substantial clump of raspberry canes from the original 4 canes that we planted about 3 years ago.  In an attempt to control the growth of these we have tried to contain them using star pickets and a couple of strands of wire.  When we dig up the canes which are beyond the designated area we will plant them in the vacant area beside the gate.  Our goal is to have a raspberry patch stretching from the front boundary to the gate and extending 600mm either side of the fence which forms part of the garden enclosure.

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Many people are quite surprised that we can grow raspberries in our climate.  Ours are an autumn fruiting variety which are suited to our climate and we are very happy with the yield.  This year has been the best crop so far.  While we are not exactly inundated I am picking about 50 – 100g every few days at the moment and that is definitely enough to have for dessert with some ice-cream.

Growing our own food means that it is raised without pesticides and artificial fertiliser, it comes with no additional packaging and it saves us money.  What is there not to love?

 

 

 

Fit to Wear

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There are many ways of approaching the goal of producing less waste but for me, one of the most obvious things is to consume less and make do with what you have.

Mending, repairing and refashioning will significantly extend the life of items, save them from landfill for longer and of course, reduce the need to purchase a replacement.

Here is a practical example that I did this morning in less than an hour.

This is GMan’s sweatshirt which he wears on the weekend when gardening, mowing and painting as you can see.  The cuffs and lower band are all frayed and badly stretched but the body of the garment is still relatively sound.

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When I said that I could replace the cuffs, he commented how much he liked the fit of it – although I don’t think ‘fit’ is actually the right word.  So, The first thing I did was to make a pattern for future reference.

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I use lightweight interfacing for this purpose and have a roll of it.  I find the patterns cut on interfacing are durable and unlikely to tear.

There are only 2 pieces required – one for the front and back (with different necklines marked) and one for the sleeves.

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Next, I had a dig in my stash of ribbing to find a suitable piece.  I found some bottle green which was exactly enough for the lower band and sleeve cuffs – no wastage at all.

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I then found a piece of black for the neckband and set to work.  I will not try to explain how the ribbing is attached as there are plenty of good instructions which can be found using Google.

The final result.

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GMan is happy and I am sure this will see plenty more wear in the garden.

 

Delicious Dinner

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Yesterday I worked from home so I had a larger window of opportunity for preparing dinner than I normally do on a weekday.  I even had time to take some step-by-step photographs.

As with many of the meals I make, there is no specific recipe, however, my inspiration came from this video which was posted on Facebook.  I did plan to make the enchiladas but had no way to satisfactorily slice the zucchini thinly enough to be able to roll it easily.  So, I made a lasagne.

This is the remainder of the last of the giant zucchini.

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I sliced the flesh as thinly as possible and discarded the seeds.  Some have been saved for next year’s crop.

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Next, I sliced one chicken breast fillet.  It was still mostly frozen which is useful because I find it easier to slice when semi-frozen.  When I need cooked chicken for a recipe, I steam it by placing the chicken on a cake rack over a large frying pan of boiling water.  I then place the domed lid over the top and it cooks quite quickly.

One onion (diced), 1/2 capsicum (diced), 3 birdseye chillies and a lime were the next things I prepared.

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Saute the onion and chopped chillies then add the capsicum and cook until softened.  Add the lime juice.  I only used half a lime as they were large and very juicy.

Add the shredded, cooked chicken and 1/2 can crushed tomatoes.

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Line the base of a small, rectangular dish with zucchini slices then add layers of chicken mixture, grated cheeses (I used parmesan and cheddar) and zucchini.  I also added the remainder of the can of tomatoes as I layered the dish.

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The topping is parmesan and cheddar cheese mixed with flaxseed meal for some added crunch and keep the dish gluten-free.  If this is not an issue you could use dry breadcrumbs with the cheese.

Bake in the oven until heated through and browned on top.  Alternatively, you could microwave for 10 minutes and then crisp the top under the griller.  This is what I did to avoid turning on the oven.

The meal made 3 generous adult serves from one chicken breast fillet and part of a giant zucchini which would otherwise have gone to waste.

Cause for Optimism

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It is easy to feel worn down and thwarted at every turn when you try to live according to your values with regards to reducing your carbon footprint.  However, this is not always the case.  At times there is cause for great joy and optimism and I have experienced that feeling this week.

I have been buying laundry liquid, pre-soak stain remover, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder from Felix at Kin Kin Naturals for a number of years now.  This family business is located at Kin Kin in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, about 80km north of where I live.  The products are available nationally particularly in Queensland and most especially on the Sunshine Coast.

Felix also sells the products at the Kin Kin markets which are held once a month in the small village.  We make the trip about every 6 months and stock up because it is cheaper to buy them direct from the producer.  Additionally, if I pre-order by email I can avoid new plastic packaging and buy the liquids packaged in re-used 2 or 3 litre juice bottles.  You can see some in the photo below from when I cleaned out the laundry cupboards.  You can read about it in this post.

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Last week I emailed an order to be collected at the next market at the beginning of April.  I decided to make it a bit more than just an order and sent the following email.

Hi Felix

I have previously purchased products from you at the Kin Kin markets on several occasions.  I have bought the dishwashing liquid and laundry liquid in the reused 2 and 3 litre juice which I really appreciate as it helps to limit the amount of plastic waste which our household generates.

I would like to buy:

8 litres of lavender and ylang ylang laundry liquid in the reused bottles
4 litres of tangerine and mandarin dishwashing liquid in the reused bottles
1 x 2.5kg refill pack of lemon myrtle and lime dishwasher powder
2 x 1.2kg eucalypt and lime eco laundry soaker

Does the laundry soaker come in refill packs?  If so, that would be my preference.

Is it possible or have you ever considered having bulk containers of all products at the market so that people can bring their own containers to be refilled?

There is a growing movement of people who are trying to reduce/eliminate single use plastic (including packaging).  Many of us are keen to buy/support locally produced/family businesses such as yours who produce a true eco-friendly product. Any opportunity to purchase these products without additional plastic would really be appreciated.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards

I really had no idea what sort of response I would get so I was absolutely delighted to receive the following email 2 days later.

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your order – and for thinking with us on how to reduce senseless packaging.

I will put 2.5 kg of laundry soaker in a refill pack rather than 2 of the plastic jars. Depending on the exact size of the re-used bottles on hand when we fill we’re looking at about 17 kg/L total x $5 = around $85 for your order please.

I can see the beauty of refilling on the spot at the markets but I prefer the current way of pre-ordered re-used containers because we are doing only the Kin Kin markets which are on only once a month and would be stuck with remainders of the refill drums of each of the 4 liquid variants for months which wouldn’t be ideal for product freshness.

On your broader question of packaging reduction, great point. Our current approach is to encourage stores to get our 20L drums and offer refills from those. The problem is that apart from a few stores in an area with refill-minded people (e.g., Cooran and Pomona) this refill route isn’t doing too well, I think mainly because stores don’t like the extra effort, mess – and of course selling a prefilled plastic bottle is easier, but that’s what Coles and Woolies can do too. If you have any ideas, don’t hesitate..

See you at the April markets.

I will respond to Felix and also look forward to discussing some possibilities when I see him next month.

In the meantime, this has renewed my confidence in the ability of individual consumers to influence positive change.  Not every approach will be received as positively as the example above but I will definitely be making more of an effort in the future to provide feedback to suppliers and retailers regarding plastic packaging.

Glass is Good

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I have tried, as much as possible, to reduce our use of single-use plastic.  I know that there is always more that I can do so it is a work in progress, or as some would like to say, a journey.

As with any journey, it is also easier if you are connected with like-minded travellers so I am a member of a couple of different Facebook groups whose members have similar goals.  Some people are keen to remove all plastic, however, I am not about to throw away all of the plastic containers I have (to landfill) so that I can replace them with glass.  On the other hand, I am happy to look for glass when I need some more.

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After much research, I recently purchased 2 dozen Ball preserving jars.  You can read all about them in this post.  I have used some when I made jam recently but am also looking at other ways of using them.

I am aware that some people regularly freeze food in glass but that is not something that I have really done much so I decided that some research was in order as I know several people have had problems with glass jars breaking in the freezer.  This is not a saving of resources or money so I want to avoid that happening.  It turns out that for a glass jar to be suitable for freezer use it must have straight sides – that is no shoulder where it slopes in to the neck of the jar.  The preserving jars which I chose meet this criteria and are also deemed as suitable for freezer use on the panel on the box.

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Naturally, you also need to use commonsense and not put hot jars into the freezer and leave suitable headspace for the food to expand when frozen.  I also choose to chill them first in the refrigerator before transferring to the freezer as well as keeping the lids loose until they were completely frozen.  This strategy seems to have been successful.

Here are some jars of frozen mango puree and refried beans which I was about to transfer to the small freezer downstairs.  I tend to keep this freezer for storage and items which I use on a day-to-day basis in the freezer section of the refrigerator in the kitchen.

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The other purpose for which glass can be used is when taking your own containers to be filled at the shop.  This afternoon I took one of the smaller jars to the deli counter at the supermarket and bought olives.  There was no problem with the staff weighing the container prior to filling to to assess the tare weight and the price sticker was attached to the bottom of the jar.

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Plastic containers certainly have their place and I will continue to use them rather than discard simply for the sake of discarding them, however, it is an interesting exercise to test the boundaries as to how and where glass jars can be used.