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.

Tomato Trial

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I apologise for the break in posts but my computer access has been somewhat curtailed due to some repairs to the main computer.  It is all resolved, thanks to the local computer shop, and we are back in business.

Today I want to share my latest success in preserving our bumper harvest of cherry tomatoes.

After removing the stalks and rinsing the tomatoes, I blitzed them in the blender.

My dehydrator has solid sheets for making fruit leathers so I poured the resulting puree onto the sheets.

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Here is the same tray after drying for about 8 hours.

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I removed the dried tomato and broke it up.

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It was quite leathery and pliable so still had some moisture.  I returned the pieces to the dehydrator and dried them some more.

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Finally, I ground the dried pieces in the blender and this is the result.

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From a couple of kilos of cherry tomatoes I have 1 jar of powdered tomato concentrate.  This can be blended with water to make tomato paste which I can use on pizzas or added directly to casseroles or soups.  I am sure there will be a hundred and one uses for it and the great part is that I have a single jar which stores easily in the door of the refrigerator.

More Dehydrating

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Dehydrating seems to happen in fits and starts around here but I am on a roll at the moment.

My brother-in-law recently gave me a piece of home-grown ginger and I had used a little of it when I decided to try drying the remainder.

I carefully peeled it and then sliced the ginger root fairly thinly.  Here it is spread on the tray of the dehydrator.

004The process did not take too long at all. Four hours later it was dried to a crisp.

006The final step was to grind the dried slices to powder in the spice-grinder attachment of my food processor.

008It has a beautiful, pungent odour which is quite different to the purchased spices.  Next time I think I will cut the slices into slivers before I dry them and store as slivers which will be great for adding to stir-fries.

Onion Tears

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Do the tears flow when you start cutting up onions?  Here is a way to minimise the suffering in the long-term.2015-07-27 01I bought this 10kg bag of onions last weekend for $7.99.  I shared a couple of kilos with a friend and had used a few myself but today it was time to prepare them.  I peel and quarter the onions before chopping them in lots using the food processor.

First I filled the four trays of the dehydrator.

2012-02-02 01When the onion is thoroughly dried I will grind it to make flakes/powder.  It takes up very little space and stores well.

I bagged the remainder of the chopped onions in as many ziplock bags as I could muster.  I do not buy ziplock bags.  I collect mine through “dumpster diving”.  There are people in my office who bring 2 Weetbix to work for their breakfast in a brand new ziplock bag, tip them into a bowl and toss the bag in the bin.  If I open the bin and the discarded bag is on the top I simply bring it home and wash it for reuse.

Anyway, I digress – the chopped onion is in ziplock bags.  I pack 150g which is equivalent to a medium onion in the small bags and 300g in the larger bags.  I ended up with 10 small packs and 7 large packs of diced onion.  Because I packed the diced onion fairly flat, it is easy to break off a section if you only want a small amount of onion.

2015-07-27 03I sliced the remaining onions by hand and they are packed in the red lidded container.

This means that that I will not need to chop or slice an onion for several months.

Slow Living – February

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This is my second month of joining in the monthly round-up at Slow Living Essentials and already I seem to be struggling with what to write.  A couple of things seems to have conspired against me – it is a short month – is it really the end of the month already? and the weather!  Since the dry spell broke on the Australia Day weekend (26th January) it has rained almost constantly which limits our activities somewhat

Here are the Slow Living categories:

{Nourish}  With the onset of some cooler weather with the rain it was an ideal time to pull out the slow cooker.

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I made a batch of pumpkin soup and and beef casserole.

Dinner

{Prepare}  We had an excellent crop of figs.

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As well as eating lots of them fresh from the tree, I was able to dry some.  This was very successful so I am hoping to have enough to do again next year.

 

{Reduce}  This is always a hard one as we do this each and every day.  I turned a singlet of mine that was too short into one for Miss O.

2013-03-03 05{Green}  The weather has brought out the mould but I am keeping things clean and smelling fresh with the use of clove oil.  You can read a previous post here.

Clove oil

{Grow}  The warm, dry beginning to the summer meant that we had about 8 mangoes on our small tree.  We planted it about 4 years ago and this is the first time it has fruited.  I suspect that it is generally too cool for them here but this year’s crop has made it worthwhile.  They are some of the best mangoes I have tasted and the flesh is as smooth as anything with no sign of stringiness.

Last weekend we had a rare fine day so we bought and planted some vegetable seedlings.  They have more than doubled in size in a week.

2013-03-03 07{Create}  Since my sewing machine has returned from being serviced I have got quite a bit of sewing done.  I am working through my stash of fabric as well as some pieces I have been given.  Here are some of the results.

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Winter and summer pyjama bottoms.

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A new lining in my skirt.

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{Discover}  I don’t think I have read anything this month but in a different vein I did discover some fabric to be used when I was sorting out my stash.

{Enhance}  We gave away the used fencing wire via Freecycle.  I also shared some of the many self-sown cucumber seedlings with neighbours, work colleagues, blogging friends and also on Freecycle.

It is a shame that I did not take some photos of them.  Not so much for the seedlings but the innovative packaging.  I used some excess egg cartons that I had been given and each seedling and its soil was packed in a space in the carton.

2013-03-03 11An internet friend sent me some fabric and I used some of it to make a dress suitable for an 18 month old.  I will send it to her for her granddaughter who was born last week.

{Enjoy}  We travelled to Melbourne and spent a weekend with our daughter who moved there recently.  We saw her new home, sampled food at some local establishments and shopped.

2013-03-03 12I bought this dress to wear to a wedding in a few weeks.  I just need to finalise accessories.

The slow living this month has been heavily weighted towards sewing and I guess that is not entirely unexpected with being stuck indoors due to the weather.

Now I am off to check out some of the slow living blogs.

Til next month………..

Storing the Surplus

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We have a fig tree that we planted about 5 or 6 years ago and for about the last 4 years we have been able to pick enough figs to enjoy a good feed during the relatively short season.  Invariably, the birds get some and some go rotten, particularly the last couple of years when we have had a lot of summer rain.  This season has been mostly warmer than usual and fairly dry.

I have been picking and eating figs when I am in the garden for the past few weeks so yesterday I started picking some and realised that there was an enormous number ready to pick.  Here is the result.  Yes, that is my hat that I collected some in.

2013-02-03 01I ended up with 5 kg of figs so it made sense to preserve some for later use.  I love fig jam but we don’t really eat much jam so thought I would trying drying them in the dehydrator.

2013-02-03 02I filled the 4 trays with cut figs.

24 hours later I have semi-dried figs.

2013-02-3 03I am going to store them in the refrigerator as there is still some moisture in them.  Meanwhile we still have plenty of fresh figs to eat at the moment.

Filling The Freezer

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I spent yesterday afternoon in the kitchen and here are some of the results.

A batch of pastry used to make 12 mini meat pies

and 3 meal-sized pies (pastry tops only)

Trifle – using leftover sponge from when I made a Dorothy the Dinosaur cake 6 months ago.

Zucchini and carrot quiche – to use up some of the eggs we have in abundance.

Banana cake – more eggs

Lemon Delicious – eggs and lemons

It makes good economic sense do do a batch of baking while the oven is turned on.

I also made refried beans in the slow-cooker, lasagne sheets (more eggs),  spreadable butter, chopped up chillies to dehydrate them and picked 2 kg of cherry tomatoes from the neighbour’s garden.  They are now frozen waiting for me to have time to make tomato sauce.

The freezers are full and we have plenty of food for the days when I don’t have the time or energy to cook a meal from scratch.  Do you do a big cook-up in one go?