Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Time To Let Go



Two years ago today I was on a beautiful beach in Nai Yang, Phuket for my sister, Krish's wedding. It was such a beautiful, romantic ceremony, complete with bare feet and these amazing parasols we picked up for a couple of dollars at one of the temples. I was so honored that Krish asked Paul and I to attend as we had shared their journey from the very beginning of their romance when they met online, and we supported Krish through her breakup with her ex.


I am so very proud of my little sis and so ecstatic that she found the love she deserved after years of turmoil. Congratulations Krish and Pete!

Ironically one of the reasons Krish asked us to attend was that Paul and I understood what it was like to have such an incredible romance...that the depth of affection we had for one another was akin to hers with Pete, soul mates. Unfortunately, at the time of going overseas we had just been through another major flood earlier that year...and it was taking it's toll on us. We really needed the break, and despite my checking on the kids all the time, we all did have a lovely time...except for one big mistake I made which I planned with Krish before we left Australia.


I arranged with the celebrant to have a renewal of wedding vows for Paul and I, under the flower arbour, after Krish and Pete were married. I wanted to try and capture some sort of romantic spark that had been missing from our marriage. Mental note....never ever spring a surprise renewal of wedding vows on someone. Like that situation would ever present itself again, right? It was incredibly awkward, Paul didn't get the gesture, and later said he didn't think it was a good idea.


The reason I share this story is that I think I realised then that my marriage was hurting, that large romantic gestures shouldn't be necessary to keep things moving. Now, two years later my marriage is over.

You cannot go back from someone telling you they don't love you anymore, that they don't want to grow old with you...and that nothing you do can change that. You have to let them go. If they are so unhappy then there is no point holding on to save your broken heart. You have to realise the fairytale is over, even though you would have tried to save it over and over again because you made solemn vows and promised to do so....and, let's face it...you still love him.


A month ago I couldn't talk about this, hence the reason for my bloggy break. Some would think it's not appropriate to air this in public but I felt like writing what was in my heart today, especially on this anniversary of such a moving and beautiful wedding. A day that will always hold a special place in my heart regardless of who was there.

Pete and Krish, I know you will have an eternity of anniversaries and I so look forward to sharing them with you. Don't be sad for me, I deserve to be with someone that will love me for a lifetime, no matter what...just like you.

Thanks for helping me let go...love you both so much!!




Monday, 25 August 2014

A Bloggy Break



Hey! Attention all you awesome people who read my blog. Something totally catastrophic happened to my family this week and I need to take a break for a week or so to get our lives back together.

I don't mean to be mysterious but now is not the right time to be talking about it. I promise I will once I have digested it all.

I hope you will stick with me and be there when I get back into the swing of things!

Thanks for your support xxx



Friday, 22 August 2014

Pumpkin Kale and Quinoa Salad


I was looking for an up-market salad to take to a party last weekend and thought that I would try and use up the abundance of pumpkins and kale I have at the moment. A quick Google search using the two ingredients led me to this recipe, which I have varied slightly. It is an ideal winter salad as it can be served warm or cold and it really brings out the flavours of the pumpkin without the kale being overbearing. Plus...it looks pretty fancy!

Ingredients

800g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1.5cm cubes
Spray olive oil
Olive oil
1 x onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
1 x teaspoon finely grated ginger
2 x teaspoon ground coriander
2 x teaspoon turmeric
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
100g trimmed kale leaves, shredded
1/4 cup slivered almonds, pepitas or pine nuts

Method

1. Place the pumpkin on a lined baking tray, spray with oil and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden and tender. As my oven did not crisp the outsides of the pumpkin cubes, I tossed them into a frypan with some spray oil to finish off.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion for five minutes until softened. Add garlic, ginger, coriander and turmeric and cook stirring for one minute.

3. Add quinoa and 2 cups off water, bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water has evaporated and quinoa is soft. I found I had to add more water and hence increased the quantities of coriander and turmeric from the original recipe, due to evaporation.

4. Stir through kale until just wilted, then gently stir through the roasted pumpkin and almonds. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


The salad was very popular and a wonderful showcase for the fresh produce from my property.

I hope you enjoy!

Bake Play Smile

Monday, 18 August 2014

Simple Living Sunday 39


This weekend was a write off in terms of spending time in the garden and on my projects. Even if I wasn't running the boys around all day Saturday for football, the torrential rain (Yes, Rain!!) would have prevented me from getting stuck into it. The rain was very welcome though to fill the tanks a little and green up the farm after the frost.

Kale, pumpkin, spinach and citrus are the main items of produce from my garden every week now. The chooks have been laying well again and you can see the three different coloured eggs. My favourite layer Ivory has got a cough I noticed today so it's off to the feed barn tomorrow to see what I can get for her.


I keep missing the fine line between letting the broccoli grow bigger and it going to seed. I let this one go and the bees have been going crazy.


This is supposed to be brussel sprouts but I can't see any sprouting :)


Another small cabbage head survives.


This eggplant has 'regrowth' like the gooseberry so I will see what happens with it.


I was wondering if the mulberry tree would fruit again as it had an unusual season earlier this year. Well, it looks like I will have a few mulberries but not a full crop as I did not get a chance to trim the tree back.


Although the berries are out of focus, I have left this photo in as it is a great shot of the block and trees.


I read that a good thing for a sick chicken is clover and I found this patch yesterday, so hopefully that will help her. Apparently apple cider vinegar and garlic in the water can help too.


I lost the battle with my husband's arson tendancies. I will get the boys to dig the rest of the bladey grass out and I will have another garden to plant.


This Russian Red kale is amazing, almost a metre tall and has not stopped producing, even through the frosts.


The same plant I took a photo of last week, and now there is a little baby cauliflower under the leaves.


The lettuce seeds I planted last week are already beginning to sprout.


And so is the black mint which I got from Fair Dinkum Seeds.


Finally, I was asked to take a salad to a party yesterday and came up with this pumpkin, kale and quinoa one. It was very popular and used up some of the pumpkin and kale I have here. Recipe later this week.

I hope you had a lovely weekend and enjoy your week! What did you get up to at your place?

Friday, 15 August 2014

Slow Cooked Pork and Pineapple


I posted a review of my multicooker this week and had a request for this recipe. I must confess I made it up as I went along and it turned out beautifully, so I thought it would post it here. That way I will remember how to make it next time!

Ingredients

700g diced pork (I used forequarter chops which were only $6/kilo and cut the meat off the bones, removing all fat)
1 x can of pineapple pieces (including the juice)
1 x onion chopped
1 x red capsicum chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 x teaspoon chilli powder
2cm piece of ginger, chopped
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup kecap manis
1 cup chopped pumpkin

Method

Combine garlic, ginger, chilli powder, hoisin sauce and kecap manis in a bowl. Add to the diced pork and marinate overnight.

I then sauteed my onion in my multicooker, but if you are doing this in a slow cooker I would just add it raw. Add marinated pork, tinned pineapple including juice, capsicum and pumpkin and stir to combine. When adding the pineapple juice, the total amount of liquid you need depends on the size of your slow cooker. You don't want to cover the meat, and I find about half way up the meat level works best as the pork juices will add further liquid.

Slow cook for 6 - 8 hours on low, depending on your slow cooker. I had mine on timer and when I got home I added some homemade natural yoghurt to thicken the liquid a little. You could also use sour cream or a little cornflour mixed with water.

Serve with basmati rice. The pork falls apart on your fork and is rich with asian-inspired flavour.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Multicooker Road Test: New Wave 5 in 1


With the money I received from relatives for my birthday I decided to purchase a multicooker. My main reason for buying one is that I love to cook slow cooked meals over winter and my current slow cooker does not have a timer. It is also a little overzealous so I could not leave it on all day whilst at work as it would overcook the food.

The other thing that appealed to me about a multicooker was the inclusion of a pressure cook function. I have never used one before and was fascinated at the possibilities and practicalities for a full time working mum of football-playing-eat-like-a-horse teenage boys.

So I did a bit of research and read heaps of reviews and decided on the New Wave 5 in 1 Multicooker which I ordered from Kitchenware Direct. It cost about $140 delivered (in 3 days) and just so you know, this post is not sponsored. I mainly want to let you know that so far I am extremely happy with my choice. These are the 5 functions that my multicooker performs:

1. Searing

You can brown your meat in the dish before slow or pressure cooking. Very handy for adding cooked onions and garlic to your dish - extra flavour without the added washing up.


2. Slow Cooking

These are a couple of dishes I have made using the slow cook function.


I came home to this pork and pineapple curry tonight which was such a treat. I marinated the pork overnight and put it in the cooker with the vegetables at 8am this morning before I left for work. I had the timer set to come on at 10am for six hours. The cooker then automatically switches to 'warm' function so it was absolutely perfect when I got home. I only had to boil some rice, but a lot of people put that in too.


You can see how clear and easy the functions are selected. The red time is the preset time and the green time is how long you want it to cook for. There is no low or high setting like most slow cookers and I find the timing to be in between. Most dishes you would cook on low for eight hours or high for four hours, and I find six hours is perfect in this cooker.


This is not a great photo but it shows a mild sausage curry I made for the boys. I boiled the sausages first to remove fat and skins, then put the pasta in with the curry and sausages. I then put it on slow cook for three hours. Perfect!

3. Pressure Cooking

I am so impressed with the pressure cook function and have used this the most. Anything that I would normally fry I am now cooking in my multicooker, and it is so much easier to clean. I did steak the other night cooked in gravy which took 8 minutes and was perfectly moist and tender.Getting the timing right is the key to pressure cooking and I use the recipes provided and a fantastic Multicooker Facebook group if I am unsure. It is suggested to use the high pressure for meats and low pressure for vegetables


This bolognese sauce took 15 minutes on high pressure. Next time I will add the spaghetti at the same time.


The yummy beef casserole took 30 minutes on high pressure. I browned the meat (chuck steak) using the searing function in the photo above.

4. Soup


This is one of my beautiful home grown pumpkins.


Chopped up with some onion, garlic, chicken stock and bacon.


Two hours later, perfect pumpkin soup. I have also made this on the low pressure function which halved the cooking time.

5. Steaming


How perfect are these steamed vegetables? You just put some water in the bottom of the cooker and place the steam basket on the rack...and ten minutes later you have perfect vegies.

The cooker is quite big (6 litre capacity), and the insert is made of a very easy to clean non stick metal. You can buy stainless steel inserts separately if you want to. The steam basket and rack are shown below, together with the spoon which also came with the package.


So, if you have been contemplating getting a multi cooker I can thoroughly recommend the practicality and functionality of the New Wave 5 in 1. They also have a 6 in 1 cooker that has deep frying but I thought that would just get rather messy...and I don't deep fry anything anyway.



Monday, 11 August 2014

Simple Living Sunday 38



It was a beautiful weekend here in Tandur. Overcast with a sprinkle of rain on Saturday and the promise of more next weekend. It is very dry here now and some heavier falls would be most welcome. I have spent most of my spare time in the garden lately getting my beds ready for Spring planting. I forgot to photograph my basket of goodies yesterday so the one above is from a couple of weeks ago but with the same content. Otherwise there would just be a boring photo of my garden beds as the header.


This a shot looking down the length of my eventual food forest. I have now moved the mulch aside through the middle to create a path so that I can easily access both sides of the bed. I have not yet decided whether to edge this garden. As it will have large trees eventually I would prefer not to, but I will see whether the grass can be controlled with regular mowing.


This is a close up shot of the pathway, showing how well the layers have composted, and how well the grass underneath has been contained.


This is the completed extension of the side garden, complete with a curious Alfie. He absolutely loves spending time in the garden with me. I will plant vegetables all along this bed.


This Tuscan kale is growing really well, with new growth in the centre...now that the caterpillars have been controlled.


The corn has been cleared and the water tank garden has been fertilised and mulched, ready for its next round of produce.


I have repurposed the old outdoor shower and toilet block into a potting shed...


...a handy place to store all of my gardening tools and soil, very close to my main gardens and greenhouse. I spent the afternoon yesterday potting seedlings to get a head start before September planting.


This is the inside of a cauliflower...can't see a head beneath all of the layers.


I am contemplating using this old barrel to plant potatoes. I have never grown them before but thought I would give it a go.


I finally used the pallets I picked up from the Red Cross, and made a compost pile, closer to the house and gardens than my one out the front.


I will take a bag of limes into work tomorrow as they are now starting to drop onto the ground and I don't want to waste any. We have them with our water every day, and I will juice some next weekend to put in the freezer.


This is my next patch to tackle. The grass grew long here through the pumpkin vine. Paul wants to burn it but I would prefer to cut it back and not leave a charred mess on the ground...so near to the house.


I have been recyling the water from the vacola onto my herbs on the verandah.


And I have started using the bokashi bucket again. Most of the scraps go to the chickens but there are some things they don't eat which can be made into valuable compost.


My herb robert plant in the centre is finally starting to flourish and I put it into my smoothie every morning.


Unfortunately the brahmi is looking a little worse for wear. I am hoping it will rejuvenate with the warmer weather.

So, that's my place in a nutshell. What did you get up to this weekend?


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