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What we bought, spent and ate this week

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,
We have had a fairly uneventful week, just daily work and some spring cleaning at home. I was able to finish the blinds and windows and lovely hubby has also pressure washed the outside of the house. So I really feel like we have had a good head start on the spring cleaning.

The next biggish job I want to tackle is the skirting boards and the walls, which all have marks of some sort on them. You know, you don't really notice the marks until you start to look! I will use good old Gumption cleaning paste on the walls and my all purpose cleaner on the skirting boards. It's another job that hasn't been done in a long time, I always say"I wish there was another me"

On the food front, this is what we have been buying and eating this past week-

What we bought
Shopping from Coles-Lovely hubby ended up buying 2 cans of their own brand of Coconut cream as they were out of the Ayam powdered coconut milk. The asian greens were on a good special-3 bunches for $5.00! 

Aldi-$92.66, pretty pricey, the macadamia's and fruit, namely the Red Paw Paw's have pushed the price up this week. 

And the Butcher 
What we spent
Nothling Brothers Quality Meats-$40.92

What we ate 
Wednesday-Chicken and Bacon Salad 

Thursday-Smoked Salmon Pasta 

Friday-Goan Fish Curry 

Saturday, Sunday and Monday-Chicken and Ginger Congee. I made a huge pot of this comforting, nourishing dish. My Mother in law came home from hospital on Saturday and I always make this for her when she gets home. 

Tuesday-Spaghetti Bolognese

So, tell me, what was on your families table this week?

Home Made Vanilla Essence

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

This is something I have wanted to do for a L-O-N-G time but somehow, hadn't gotten around to doing it. I have had some perfect sized glass jars ready to go for such a long time and every time I saw them, I would think, I must do something about that project! So last week I bit the bullet and ordered some vanilla on line, went to a liquor shop and bought the cheapest vodka I could find and yesterday morning got those two ingredients together, to work their magic.

Now all I have to do is wait the two months for the vanilla to permeate the vodka and I can start using it. I have gone with the "keeping the vanilla pods whole, intact and uncut" method of making this vanilla essence so then I can harvest all the black gold (the vanilla seeds) to use at a later date.

I sourced the vanilla from here and the vodka was, as I said, just the cheapest that the liquor shop had. I didn't outlay a huge sum of money so if this little project doesn't work out, I won't be too upset.

The ratio I have used is very generous, as I would rather use more vanilla per volume of vodka to have a better chance of it working out. So the ratio I used is - 4 vanilla pods per 250 mls to 300 mls of vodka

Ingredients for homemade vanilla essence-vanilla pods and vodka 

Add 4 vanilla pods to clean glass jars 

Pour vodka over and put lids on. Simple

I will get back to you in 2 months to see how this project has gone. Wish me luck

So tell me, have you had a go at making vanilla essence? How did it work out?

Home made glass cleaner

Monday, 29 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

I have finished cleaning the windows and blinds! Woot! That's a good start to my spring cleaning. I have to admit the windows and blinds only get cleaned once a year, I know, slack hey? I simply do not have the time to do this huge job, more often than that. Maybe when I retire (20 years and counting) I will have clean windows and blinds all the time.

I did it in small chunks, just one window and blind every afternoon, starting last Monday and finishing yesterday. As I mentioned last week, we had already cleaned the windows and blinds closest to the kitchen, about three weeks ago, after the charcoal chicken debacle, so that meant four less sets to clean this time around. I used up all of my current batch of home made window cleaner to clean the windows, so it was time to make another batch. I find this glass cleaner very effective, no streaks and it seems to be able to lift tough dirt on the windows.

Ingredients for home made window cleaner-from left
1/2  teaspoon dishwashing liquid, 1/4 cup home brand white vinegar, 2 cups water
Add 2 cups of water to a suitable spray bottle 

Add 1/4 cup of vinegar

And 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid, pop the lid on and give the bottle a good shake. 

Use in the usual manner. I use a window cleaning cloth to clean and shine the windows, so no lint is left behind. 

That's it! Super simple, 3 ingredient window cleaner, and guess what? It actually works!

So, over to you, what do you use to clean your windows? What about timber blinds? Any miracle cleaners?

Goan Fish Curry

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

With lovely hubby being a great fisherman, fish is always plentiful in our house. We eat fish about one to two times a week which is not only good for us, it usually means I get the night off cooking, sweet! However, when it's a stronger tasting fish, we usually turn it into a curry, and that is my domain.

I am always on the look out for a new fish curry recipe and that is exactly what we tried on Friday night. It is a Goan fish curry and quite simple, delicious and full of flavour. It is from an old recipe book that we have had for probably ten years, one of those "bookclub" books that were often found in workplaces. Anyway, it has been a great little book, it is where my Thai fish cakes and smoked salmon pasta recipes comes from. The cook book is just called "Fish Food" and was published in 2003. I hope it is an authentic curry, even if it's not, it is still very delicious!

Ingredients for Goan Fish Curry
From top right- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut, 2 tablespoons tamarind puree, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 4 to 8 small red chillies (depending on how hot you like it) 20 medium green prawns-peeled and deveined, 500 grams fish suitable for a curry, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, 2 cinnamon quills, 2 cloves garlic-grated, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 large brown onion-finely chopped, 4 cardamom pods, 2 teaspoons mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander, 2 cans of coconut milk. I forgot to put the cloves in the photo, you need 4 of them.

Lightly crush the cardamom pods until the pods split, then remove the seeds from the pods and put into a small fry pan with the coriander seeds. Dry fry until the seeds start to jump.

Remove, then tip into a mortar and pestle and grind to a powder

Tip the mustard seeds into the same frying pan with the coconut and toast together until the seeds begin to pop and the coconut turns light golden brown, remove and set aside

Finely chop the onion, and chilli, grate the ginger and garlic on a microplane

Add onion to a medium hot pan and sauté for 5 minutes until it starts to soften

Add garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric and nutmeg and cook for a further minute

Tip in the ground spices and sauté until fragrant

Then add the toasted coconut and mustard seed, the cloves, tamarind water, cinnamon sticks and coconut milk

Stir well and heat until just below boiling point, then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes

Add the fish and prawns, mix well

Poach fish and prawns for 5 to 7 minutes or until fish is opaque and the prawns are pale pink. I served ours with steamed basmati rice and coriander sprinkled over the top

Looks as delicious as it tastes!

What fish do you eat in your part of the world? How do you like to cook it?

My Menu/Shopping List

Saturday, 27 August 2016
Hello Dear Reader,

We all have a system that works for us, when planning a menu and shopping list for the week. I just use a piece of scrap A4 paper and folded it into quarters. I then title the quarters :

Top left hand square-days of the week and Butcher,  my menu runs Wednesday to Tuesday, as we shop on a Wednesday

Bottom left hand square-Fruit and Veg

Top right hand square-Woolworths/Coles, depending on where lovely hubby is shopping that week. This then depends on what catalogue specials are on and whether it is worth going to both supermarkets

Bottom right hand square-ALDI

So, then we make up a menu, taking into consideration anything happening that week that will have an influence on dinner prep, also what, if anything, is left over from the previous week, to use up. We don't always get the paper catalogue delivered, so we have a quick look at the online catalogues, to see if there is anything that we use and need, on a good special.

Things can change and sometimes we find a better price at another supermarket and will go there instead, it helps to be flexible and have the time to do that. As we have all three supermarkets within 3 km of home, it is an easy choice for us. I realise not everyone is that fortunate.

As I work full time and lovely hubby part time, he has taken over doing the shopping, I have to say, I do miss it a bit, as I find I am getting out of touch with prices and what is available, but for us, at this time, this is how it has to be.

If you are having some issues with budgeting, meal planning is a great place to start, food is expensive no matter where you live. I find meal planning encourages you to use up food you already have in the house, this will prevent waste and save $$$.

We all have to eat and eat well, to not only survive but live a good life. You need to nourish your body and mind with quality food, from all food groups, to be the best version of yourself you can be. I know everyone has heard it before but you can't expect good performance if you don't feed your body good fuel, it's that simple.

I try and cook from scratch as much as possible, but if it cheaper to buy a ready made product, such as a tomato based pasta sauce, I will buy it. The ALDI brand cost $1.57, so I am happy to pay that small amount for convenience. Like wise, with stock cubes, I don't always have time to make chicken and beef stock and freeze it into portions for later use, so I use Massel stock cubes, they are a quality product that I am more than happy to use and are inexpensive.

You just have to go with what is right for you and also what works, not all of us have the luxury of time, so sometimes, you have to cut corners a bit to get dinner on the table. We all do the best we can and when we know better, we can do better.

So, tell me, what is your system for making a menu and shopping list? What works best for you?


This weeks 5 frugal things on a Friday

Friday, 26 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, didn't this week fly by? Time seems to being moving by so quickly, I wish it would slow down a bit! It's not that I am super busy, really, I seem to be able to get everything done without too much stress and bother and I am still getting into bed quite early, all pluses considering I feel I have no time! So in the end, I must be doing something right!

As I mentioned on Wednesday I have started my spring cleaning by doing one window and one blind a day, I didn't manage it on Wednesday as I had a blinding headache so I had the day off, both from work and from "home" work. Sometimes you just have to listen to your body! Lovely Hubby worked on my neck (Remedial Massage) and has given me some relief, thank goodness for that.

This is the office window and the view I look out of when I am at the computer, this photo was taken 5.59am this morning just before I published this post 

So, here goes, this weeks 5 frugal things on a Friday

1. Cleaned the house with home made cleaners, it really is incredible that such simple ingredients clean just a well as all those chemical laden ones, that cost a fortune. My go to cleaners are mostly based on plain white vinegar ($1.19 for 2 litres at ALDI) Eucalyptus oil ($6.99 for 200 mls) and good old dish washing liquid, Cheap as chips and a clean home to boot.

Shower Cleaner, take 2 - Epsom salts, Dishwashing liquid and Bicarb soda. This is the shower cleaner I have been most happy with, shiny tiles and clean, clear glass AND no nasty smelling chemicals!

2. Made another batch of Pumpkin and Lentil Savoury rolls to use up the rest of the pumpkin, no waste-sweet! I had bought this huge pumpkin a while ago when they were $1 a kg, I have made many pumpkin soups, savoury rolls and just plain old roast pumpkin with this one. Once the pumpkin is cut, I remove all the seeds and pulp and wrap it in foil, it keeps well for a long time like this.

3. Made another sourdough bread, this time it's a Light Rye Sourdough with Caraway seeds

4. Dug out my first crop of homegrown ginger, I am thrilled with this and I have replanted the next "eyes" hopefully they grow well for the next season too!

5. Bought some lovely quilting fabric from "JJ's" to make another little patchwork quilt, I love these gentle colours and prints. They look really cute and soft together. JJ's has been established for around 30 years and their prices on their quilting fabric is hard to beat. 

The last row isn't sewn on yet, that's why it look wonky. The finished quilt will be about

32"x 38" with a 3" boarder and a 1. 5" binding, it's a small quilt to give as a baby gift.

I have used the "Large Simple Wedge" from The Missouri Star Quilt Company to cut out the triangles

So, tell me, what have you been up to on the frugal front?

Broccoli Salad

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

I'll bet you don't hear those two words together very often-"Broccoli" and "Salad"but stay with me. If you love broccoli, as I do, when you read this little recipe you'll know it's going to taste great. Lovely hubby says he could eat this just by itself! It's that good. So, along with the broccoli there is bacon and we all know that any veggie from the brassica family are best friends with bacon, they just go together so well. Add the sweetness of sultanas, the soft saltiness of a grated mature cheese and a simple tangy-sweet mayo dressing and you have just made heaven on a plate.

I have made this recipe twice so far and when I went to make it the second time, I was out of sunflower seeds, so I replaced it with toasted macadamias, oh my, it took this already divine little salad to another level. So substitute away, I say. I have tweaked this recipe a little (I have steamed the broccoli and reduced the sugar in the dressing) but the original recipe comes from Mels Kitchen Cafe.

Ingredients for Broccoli Salad-from top left
Dressing-2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar-put into a screw top jar and shake, shake, shake
Salad-1/2 cup grated mature cheese, 1/2 a small red onion finely sliced, 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or toasted macadamias, 1/2 cup sultanas, 4 slices bacon-fried golden and cut into chunky pieces and 450 grams broccoli-steamed for 1 minute and then put quickly
into iced water and then drained well

Steam Broccoli for 1 minute, then plunge into iced water and then drain

Drain Broccoli on a clean, lint free tea towel

Into a large bowl combine cooked and drained broccoli, grated cheese, finely sliced onion, sunflower seeds or toasted macadamias, sultanas and bacon

Pour over dressing

And toss really well. If time allows, let salad sit in the fridge for 2 hours and then give the salad another really good toss. Transfer to a clean serving bowl

Eat by itself or like we did, served with slow cooked BBQ pork chops and apple, fennel and chilli sauce

So, tell me, what is the best salad you have made/tasted?