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The Best Homemade Tartare Sauce

Monday, 31 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

Last Friday night, Lovely Hubby cooked some magnificent fish for dinner and there were two pieces of pearl perch, left over. So, for lunch on Saturday, I made a fish fillet sandwich each, along with this wonderful homemade tartare sauce.

Ingredients for homemade Tartare sauce, from left-
4 small pickled cucumbers, chopped finely, a small handful of parsley, chopped finely, 
2 teaspoon capers, chopped finely, juice of half a lemon or lime and one cup of mayonnaise 

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well 

If time allows, let flavours mingle for an hour before serving 

What a great lunch, fish fillet sandwich with homemade Tartare sauce. Delicious!

So, tell me, what homemade sauces do you make, that are better than bought? 

Chocolate, Date and Nut Bliss Balls

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

A lovely lady at work was having morning tea recently and was just finishing a healthy bar of some kind, when I came into the tea room, as I am always interested in what people are eating (I know, weird hey!) I asked her what was in it and if it tasted nice. She said, it was just delicious and wouldn't it be good to be able to replicate it, because they were very expensive to buy.

When I looked at the ingredients, there wasn't anything complicated and all the ingredients were natural. I said I would try and make them as they seemed simple enough. So this is my version, of that little healthy bar, in bliss ball form. Enjoy

Ingredients for Chocolate, Date and Nut Bliss Balls, clockwise from top right-
1 Tablespoon coconut oil, 200 grams dates, 80 grams roasted almonds and 65 grams roasted cashews, 30 grams peanut butter and 10 grams tahini, 2 tablespoons cacao, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons shredded coconut 

To the bowl of a Thermomix, add the dates and honey. Blitz for 10 seconds on speed 7, remove lid and scrape down sides 

Blitz again for 10 seconds on speed 7. This is the "glue" that sticks everything together 

Now add all other ingredients and blitz for 10 seconds on speed 7 

Remove lid and scrape down sides, it will be very sticky and quite hard to scrape down 

Blitz again for 10 seconds on speed 8. Remove mixture from TM bowl and roll into little balls. You can leave them "nude" or roll them in more shredded coconut

Delicious and wholesome

So, tell me, what bought food item have you replicated at home, that was just as good, if not better? 

Peanut butter and jam drops

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

As you probably know by now, I collect recipes like they are going out of style. I have so many bits of paper and scribbled down recipes, that honestly, if I never collected another recipe, I would have enough to see me through to old (er) age. But I just can't help myself especially when it's a great flavour combination such as this one. Oh my, these are so very good, you just have to make them.

Everyone knows this ultimate combination of sweet and savoury, Peanut Butter and Jam (Jelly) is a match made in heaven, well these biscuits are just as heavenly. They are super crunchy and the tartness of the raspberry jam is a great foil for the sweet and nutty biscuits. They smell divine baking and will have your family asking, what's in the oven and when will they be ready?

Ingredients for Peanut Butter and Jam Drops, clockwise from top right-
220 grams brown sugar, 1/4 cup raspberry jam, 70 grams roasted peanuts, finely chopped, 
100 grams butter, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla paste, 140 grams peanut butter, 
1/4 teaspoon bicarb of soda and 190 grams of plain flour

Cream butter, peanut butter and brown sugar together, until pale 

Meanwhile, finely chop the roasted peanuts and set aside 

Then add the egg and the vanilla to the creamy mixture and continue to mix until well incorporated (sorry for the weird colour, I don't know what happened) 

Add the flour and the bicarb and again mix well 

Now add the roasted and chopped peanuts and gently incorporate 

Refrigerate mixture for up to an hour or until quite firm

Roll teaspoon full into little balls and flatted them gently with your fingers, then make a little well in the middle and load it with raspberry jam. Bake at 160 C for 20 to 25 minutes. Every oven is different though so keep an eye on them. Take them out and cool a little on the tray and then transfer them to a cooling rack

Super delicious and easy. A sure fire crowd pleaser!

So, tell me, what is your go to, crowd pleaser, biscuit recipe?

This Weeks 5 Frugal Things on a Friday

Friday, 28 October 2016
Hello Dear Reader,

Welcome to Friday! How has your week been? Busy? Quiet? In between? How ever your week has been, I hope you had a good one, with some time to yourself and time to enjoy being with your family. It is hard sometimes to strike a good balance isn't? I know, with me, while I try to live a simple, quiet life, real life/fake life seems to seep into it. Is anyone else feeling the stress or pressure of this other unwanted life in your own?

I try and keep fake life from coming through my front door by limiting junk mail (I only read the grocery catalogues) and not watching TV. I know to some it sounds dreadfully boring but it is how I choose to achieve my goal of a more simple life. I would rather spend an hour getting my house in order or cooking dinner than spending an hour in a shopping centre/mall. In fact, shopping centres over whelm me, there is just too much to look at and so much "stuff" that to me seems useless and so not in context with my life. Of course I still have to go shopping sometimes, but it is with intention and a list and I will spend as little time as possible within the walls of those shopping centres as I possibly can.

As a way of trying to live a simple frugal life I write down what I feel have been my frugal achievements for the week, so this is my 5 frugal things this week.

1. Caught the warm up water from the shower, in buckets, to water the potted figs and the agave out the front. We have had these figs for 20 years and have potted them on to bigger pots about 3 times. I love them and apart from dropping some leaves sometimes are super easy to take care of.

2. Started making a birthday gift for a friend from fabric I already had in my stash. I am making a cutlery wrap and I have sourced some lovely, fine cutlery from an op shop. I am following a pattern from "The Rogue Ginger" blog and the idea is to always have this little cutlery wrap in your bag, so you never have to use plastic cutlery. It's a great little idea that not only looks great, it saves the environment from more plastic and is totally portable. I will post about it when it is finished

3. I planned a menu and bought the food I will need to host my daughters birthday lunch at home. It not only saves money but we all get to spend as much time as we like with each other without being "moved on"like you do when out in a restaurant. I am also making her "Birthday Cake" in the form of some iced cupcakes, which we will serve for dessert with ice-cream and vanilla whipped cream. The photos below are from my daughters birthday, last year. The cake was coconut and white chocolate with a white chocolate ganache and toasted coconut flakes.

4. Line dried all the washing, we have had no rain, which is great for the washing but not for the garden

5. Blitzed the worm food for the worm farm, I find by blitzing the fruit and veggie scraps first it takes less time for the worms to break down the food waste and convert it into liquid gold

So, what have been your frugal or free things this week?

Cleaning the Showers. Take 3

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

A little while ago, I posted about a fantastic shower cleaner I had made, I was so happy with the results that I blogged about it straight away. However the next time I went to use it, it had gone rock-Hudson-hard. I think what I created was a little science experiment that went wrong or right which ever way you look at it. If the experiment was to make a very hard, rock like substance, than I got it right, but, we all know I just wanted to make a good non-toxic shower cleaner. We also, all know, that this particular shower cleaner (number 2), except for the first time you use it, was an epic fail. I am so very sorry to any of my lovely readers (I am looking at you, Darlene) that made this very good shower cleaner only to find that the next time you went to use it, it had turned to rock.

As I don't like to waste anything, I continued to use the "rock-Hudson-hard" shower cleaner by watering it down and giving the jar a really good shake. It was okay, I still got a fairly clean shower even though it was not full strength. So I set to work researching a new shower cleaner that would stay stable. Enter Shower Cleaner, Number 3. I found the "recipe" over at "The Life of Clare" and I have to say, I love it. It cleans both the shower glass and the tiles extremely well and best of all stays "paste" like, so its good for now and for next time your shower is calling you.

I must admit I did have a little mess when I added the vinegar to the jar with the other two ingredients in, it just bubbled and fizzed so much that it over flowed the jar, so when you make it, make it in a large glass or plastic bowl, okay! Any cleaner that is left you can then store it in a screw top jar.

Ingredients for Shower Cleaner Number 3, from left
A very good squirt of dish washing liquid, 1/2 cup of plain white vinegar and 1 cup of Bicarb of Soda 

To a large glass or plastic bowl, add the bicarb and the dishwashing liquid, then pour in the vinegar. Give it a really good stir with a plastic spoon, it will start to froth and bubble and will also grow in volume. This does settle however, and if you start with a large enough bowl to accomodate this, it will be all right in the end 

This shower cleaner makes a paste, so it is very easy to use and as I mentioned, it will stay stable for future use

I offer this new shower cleaner recipe, to everyone, especially Darlene, as my way of an
apology, for leading you all down the garden path or is that the shower drain. Sorry

So, tell me, have you ever had a "epic-fail" with homemade cleaners, like me?


What we bought, spent and ate this week

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

I stayed at home over the weekend, getting the house ready for a visit from my darling daughter and her lovely partner, who will be arriving tonight. It was her birthday yesterday and they have come home to celebrate her birthday. I have been busy making and baking special little treats that I know she loves and we will be getting all the family together for a Sunday Lunch to help celebrate this occasion. I love that our daughter is living her own life and doing a great job at it too! But I still miss her, dearly, everyday. But thats all we hope for, isn't, that we have given our children the right tools to help them make a good life for themselves and that they are happy doing it. 

So, this is what we have been up to on the food front-

What we bought

Shopping from ALDI, Woolworths and Coles 

What we spent

Coles-$5.20 + extra later in the week $7.05


What we ate 
Wednesday and Thursday-Our Favourite Pumpkin Soup with fried sage leaves and sour cream with fresh bread and lashings of butter 

Friday-Pan fried Snapper and Pearl Perch with My Big Tossed Salad and Balsamic and Basil Salad Dressing

Saturday-Honey Prawns with Steamed Basmati Rice and English Spinach 

Sunday-Pork Ball and Bok Choy Noodle Broth 

Monday-Tempura Whiting and Honey Prawns with Steamed Basmati Rice and Steamed Broccolini. Lovely Hubby had taken out too many packets of prawns on Saturday so he cooked the rest up on this night, we certainly didn't mind a re-run of Honey Prawns

Tuesday-Salmon Quiche with another Big Tossed Salad

What has been on your family, table this past week? 

Rosemary and Lemon Salt PLUS a Sunday Lamb Roast cooked in a Clay Pot

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Hello Dear Reader,

Flavouring salt, is such a simple idea, that adds an amazing boost of flavour, to all sorts of food, I know there are so many varieties of flavoured salt out there, but this combo is my favourite. I use Himalayan salt, as I love that there are so many beneficial minerals along for the ride, but you could really use any salt that you like.

Ingredients for Rosemary and Lemon Salt 

Slice the ends off the lemon and with a very sharp paring knife, carefully slice off the rind, avoiding the white pith 

1/3 cup good quality salt, picked leaves from 2 sprigs of Rosemary and the rind of 1 lemon 

Put all ingredients into the Thermomix bowl 

Blitz for 10 seconds on speed 7, open the lid and give everything a good mix around 

Then blitz again for 10 seconds on speed 10 

The end result is fine, herby, lemony salt. At this point, I put the bowl of flavoured salt out into the hot sun to dry off, alternatively you can put the bowl in a very low oven, for 30 minutes or until dry and faded in colour 

Rosemary and Lemon Salt ready to use 

I always have Rosemary growing in our little veggie garden, it is such a hardy herb that just keeps soldiering on and I love to use Rosemary with Lamb and Potatoes, hello Sunday Lamb Roast, I'm looking at you. We ask our lovely butcher to de-boned and roll the leg of lamb, it just makes for easier carving. I simply take the rolled leg of lamb out of the mesh sleeve, pat it dry and rub the amazing flavoured salt over both sides of the meat re-roll it back into shape and pop the mesh sleeve back on. I then roast the leg of lamb in my clay pot. Clay pot cooking has been around for centuries and this way of cooking produces a most succulent and tender roast, it is just a wonderful way of roasting meats.

Soak the clay pot for 2 hours prior to cooking 

Take the pot out of the water, but don't dry it. Put in 1 onion, cut in half and 3 whole garlic cloves 

Open up the de-boned leg of lamb and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of Rosemary and Lemon Salt 

Flip the leg of lamb over and do the same to the outside 

Re-roll the leg and put it back into the mesh bag or tie it with kitchen string. Place leg of lamb in clay pot and place the lid in position

Put the clay pot in a cold oven and then preheat oven to 190 C, start timing lamb from when the oven is up to temperature. I like my lamb well done so that means a cooking time of 30 to 35 minutes per KG. 

Perfectly Roasted and Succulent Lamb. I then make the best "gravy" from the juices off the roast lamb. 

When using a clay pot to roast meat you can't make the gravy in the traditional way, because you simply can't put the clay pot on the stove top and also because there isn't any "burnished bits" on the bottom of the pot. The clay pot steams more than roasts so you don't get those golden bits of goodness stuck to the pan. What I do, is strain every last bit of glorious stock into a jug that separates the stock from the oil. After pouring off the stock, I top the stock up, if needed, to make 2 cups in total. I then make a roux of 40 grams butter and 40 grams plain flour, pour in stock/water and whisk on medium heat until thick. It makes a more "blonde" gravy, but, oh my, it is totally divine. 

A family favourite, Roast Lamb with all the trimmings

So, tell me, how do you cook a roast? Any special seasonings that really add fantastic flavour?