Saturday, October 29, 2011

I will not negotiate!!!!

Green living, frugal living, sustainable living or whatever you want to call it does ask that we change many things.

Eating seasonal veg and fruit can be tough sometimes but I can do that.

Recycling...that I can do.

Walk instead of drive I can do within my comfort zone.

Lots of things I can do, but I will not negotiate when it comes to smelly armpits!

I have tried lots of natural products but none of them work for our family and I will not go back to traditional deoderants. I was delighted to find a home made product that truly really works and I have been testing it over the last few weeks before telling you all.

Yes - simply take a little lump of coconut oil (keep it in the fridge in warm weather) and rub it under your arms. Then take a tiny pinch of Bicarb and rub that over.

You won't stop sweating (sweating is good as God made it like that) but you definately won't smell.

I have gone to look at my internet history to see where I found this remedy but I can't find it...but thank you to whoever it was!

Friday, October 28, 2011

On my mind - mushrooms

Mushroom season past without us getting ourselves organized and going to the forest for pine rings. So when I saw a mushroom kit on a blog I follow - and it was local - I just had to find out more.

Yesterday when I took my daughter to her exams I passed a nursery that sell these kits and I bought the white oyster mushroom kit to try. It should give 4 flushes of fungi and it will equal the price of 4 shop bought punnets. They also have button and pink oyster kits.

I have been thinking about growing mushrooms for a while as I read how you can cultivate them on an old log in Jamie At Home and have been itching to try until then this was a good tester.

On my mind @ Rhonda's

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Simple Steps Towards Frugality and Green Living

Simple Steps Towards Frugality and Green Living #1

One of the easiest ways to save a bit of money and reduce your dependence on grocery stores is learning to grow your own salads. Every time you pick your own salad leaves you can save yourself between R10 and R35 depending what you like in your salads.

The great thing about growing your own salads is that it allows you to "test the veggie growing waters" by making just a small garden patch or by growing in containers.

Salads are also able to grow throughout the year in our Mediteranean climate and even in those climates that get cold and frosty, you can grow them under cover - even on a sunny windowsill.

Salads in our home are:

Lettuce leaves
Spinach leaves
Spring onions
Edible flowers

Obviously in our summer we add other things like green beans, corn and tomatoes to the list.

So how do you take this simple step?

Gather your need a patch of ground (1.5 X .5 is perfect) or for those with only container space some nice big pots like wine barrels sawn in half or for those with balcony/sill space a series of smaller pots. Untreated Terracotta is the best.

You will also need good potting soil for those containers or some compost and manure to dig into your soil. You can either grow your salads from seed, which is the cheaper option or you can buy seedling punnets from your nursery. If you want more bang for your buck, then a seed packet will offer much more and one packet of lettuce seeds (buy variegated for color) will last a long time as will chives and radish.

Fill your pots with soil, or dig in your compost and simply sow the seeds in circles or straight lines. Keep the soil moist until germination.

You can then make a decision to thin the seedlings and turf the ones you uproot or you can try to transplant them. If you are going to transplant them once their first true leaves show, its best to do it at twilight so that the transplants do not have to contend with the sun during the day while they reestablish themselves.

When the salads get to the correct leaf size, you can start picking off the outer leaves and the plant will continue to grow from the center.

You also need to think of protecting your seedlings from pests.

Thereafter you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and the fact that there is one less thing for you to buy from the shops....and you can save a little each day!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Feeding the family on the QT - majoram chicken.

On Tuesday we have our evening home church meeting. Oftentimes we have extra mouths to feed...Tuesday is also my working afternoon so that I can stay up to date with orders. I also like to take Lucky and the kids for a walk on the local farm lands nearby or up to the park.

This Tuesday I had a lot to do workwise and needed to feed our family of 6 and another two young men with healthy appetites but time was going to run out if I went for a walk too. Lucky seems to know her walk days and follows me around all day just waiting for the moment that I put my takkies on which signals the walk. Then she starts to loose her mind as she whines, pants and jumps. Bad dog behaviour, I know, but it is the highlight of her day.

All this to say, I needed a meal that would cook away without me until 5.30. This is what I did...

Majoram is such a humble herb but I love using it in my cooking....I have about 10 plants in the garden, all loving the spring heat.

So, pick a huge handful of majoram. Wash and set aside.

Chop two onions and place in a roasting dish. Place 2 free range chickens on top. Pour over 1 cup dry white wine and 2 cups homemade chicken stock. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the majoram leaves.

Peel and chop 8 potatoes and 6 carrots and 6 celery stalks. Arrange these around the chicken. Cover with tin foil or lid and then roast slowly at 150 deg C for 3 hrs. For the last 1/2 hr take off the cover so that the sauce can thicken.

Serve into wide pasta bowls making sure everyone gets the rich flavourful sauce. I made 2 french loaves to mop up all the juices.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Today in the garden

Some snapshots from today in the garden...spring visited for a couple of hours and then the NW wind pushed in with sprinklings of rain.

Potatoes were banked, but the bed needs new sides then we can add more soil until just the tippy top leaves stick out. Lucky, the potato dog, decided to check the bed for any last spuds before we planted it up with transplanted seedling. The bees have done their job and all our boysenberries have set their fruit.

Tomatoes were trimmed and staked. The potato planters that were started at the end of August are growing so well. Hope this experiment works!
Asparagus in its full glory all frondy and waving in the wind. When we let the chickens out we have to cover our newly planted beds to protect new seedlings. Littlest one dug out these self seeded (from compost) squash and tomato plants which were transplanted. Some of our best tomatoes and butternuts came from self seeded plants last year. Granadilla is in bloom.
Once littlest one had moved the above seedlings he turned the bed and planted out the last corn with me. The chickens are so funny because they have figured out that as soon as we start digging they can feast with little work on their behalf!

A good day in the garden. What's up in yours?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cavalo Nero....

Say it with me - "ca-va-lo nero" or if you prefer "Nero-di-Tos-ca-na"...sounds romantic doesn't it? And no, I am not learning Italian, but rather falling in love with this "old fashioned" Italian cabbage.

While it looks like spinach it is actually part of the kale family and kale is part of the cabbage family and cabbage is a there you are. Let's say it again "Cavalo Nero".

With veggies the rule is the darker the leaf the more nutrition it has and some call this "black cabbage" too so just think of all the nutrients that are packed into this humble cut and come again veggie.

My youngest will say it is a vile veggie, but he thinks most veggies are vile and I know he will outgrow it like the rest did. Poor him...I overplanted this veggie and have about 50 plants which will keep producing ALL YEAR LONG (wicked grin!)

Cavalo Nero can be cooked just like spinach but it does need a little longer to cook. You can also serve it like spinach -

~with butter and nutmeg
~in a cream sauce
~as a nest to serve schnitzel on
~in quiche
~in omlette

Or like I did yesterday....

Eggs Benedict - poached eggs, hollandaise sauce on lightly toasted bruschetta and a bed of Cavalo Nero which had been sweatted in butter and whole garlic cloves. Delicious.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

In the garden today...

Last night we had some delicious rain which made everything look so bright and clean this morning, so after gym I got stuck into the garden with potato dog and littlest one.

Lucky and my son uncovered a decent harvest of our last winter potatoes.

The asparagus is still sending up beautiful spears and I am so tempted to cut a few for a meal as I saw a yummy looking potato and asparagus pie on Jamie At Home and I am itching to try it.

Spring potatoes were banked...

Marrows are looking strong with protected by their cut worm collars.

We have almost got all our corn in. They were started in newspaper cups in a 2 week staggered planting program.

I stood and looked at our avo tree for a bit. It lost a branch in a storm so it looks a bit skwiff, but it's growing like a bomb. Only 4 years to wait ;)

Check out whats happening in the herb department at my herb blog.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

No more breakfast cereals

I know many a mom who finds making breakfast just too much effort and grabs for a cereal box. I did my fair share of cereals as a kid and as a young mom also offered these up to my children. It has been a good couple of years since we have had breakfast cereals, with the exception of "instant oats" when we are camping. However, even instant oats no longer find their way into my shopping trolley.

Maybe I should share what is wrong with them before I give you the recipes.

1. They are processed foods...
2. High in fat
3. High in sugar
4. High in salt
5. Contain additives and preservatives

This equal more cost, lower nutrition, teeth cavaties, increased weight, less sustenance, water retention, higher BP and more. This is a good article which covers more of the dangers.

I thought I would share some healthy yummy whole breakfast ideas for those moms who still find themselves grabbing boxed cereals. They will involve a bit more time spent and those, who are not morning larks like I am, may battle with adding this new cooking time to their life, but even if you just substitute 2 or 3 mornings of boxed cereals to start with, its better than nothing.

Slow Cooker Oats For our family of 6. Adjust quantities as needed.

Grease your slow cooker with some butter.
Add 3 cups organic rolled oats
1 litre raw milk
500ml spring/distilled water
1/2 t salt
1 T raw honey or muscovado sugar
1/2 cup raisins/cranberries or 2 chopped apples
1/2 t cinnamon or one piece of stick cinnamon

Turn onto low when you go to bed and in the morning you have a delicious porridge which needs a little raw honey drizzled onto it.

Cooked oat with toasted almonds and cranberries

Cook the amount of oats you need for your family either in raw milk or water as you prefer.

Toast 100g of almonds lightly by dry frying them in a cast iron skillet.

Sprinkle over each persons serving of oats and top with cranberries and honey.

Raw muesli This is not my recipe - I got it from

3/4 cup oats per person
1 T mixed seeds (Chia, Flax, Linseed, Pumpkin, Sunflower etc)
1 T raisins or cranberries
Mix together.

1 T butter/coconut oil per person
1 T raw honey per person
Melt together in a double boiler.

Pour honey/butter over oat mix and stir until well blended. Serve into bowls and top with some homemade yoghurt.

Avo Toast

I make two loaves of spelt bread whenever I do make bread. One loaf is kept for the next morning and it is delicious toasted and topped with avo, salt, black pepper and lemon juice.

Wholemeal Muffins

These muffins are so daughter put the recipe on her blog for you.

Oat waffles

We love these oat waffles on a Saturday or Sunday when we have more time to prepare.

Breakfast scones

Another every now and again treat from the baking department are breakfast scones. I learnt to make these in Home Ec at school and they are still fun. Combined with a protein they are great.

500ml flour
1ml salt
15ml Baking Powder
Sift together

40ml nut oil
150ml milk
10ml sugar
Add and mix

Shape into rounds place on a baking sheet and score into quarters. Bake at 200 Deg C for 15mins. Serve with cheese, butter, jams.


Fried eggs, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, eggs benedict (weekends!) or omlettes are all great ways to start the day too. We do this 2x a week.

Homemade Flapjacks/American Pancakes

This is a so much-so much recipe for each home but a delicious start to the day with savory topping like bacon and mushrooms or sweet like a homemade berry "syrup" with yoghurt.

There are lots of ideas and each are MUCH better than grabbing a box of empty calories.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hope is an incredible thing...

Each year I plan, sow, plant, water, weed, nuture, protect, prune and harvest....

Each spring as I put these plants in the ground I visualize the boutiful harvests we will have.

Hope is alive in me in spite of the fact that there will be pests, deaths, a destroying chicken intent on digging up seedlings...but I still hope for the best crop!

These were some photos taken today...early tomatoes are starting to flower.

I planted lots of salads today...mixed lettuce, rocket, watercress, coriander, radish...

Our herb tower is doing so well. Edible flowers, celery, coriander, thyme, oreganum and more...

Carrots planted last week are up. I planted then in the old brassica bed WITHOUT adding compost. I hope we do better with carrots this year.

My son made a big cucumber trellis for us on Friday, I have planted lots of cucumbers again this year. The first year we had a supberb crop, last year we got about 4!

First corn planting is up. I am staggering the planting by 2 weeks. We have 4 planned. Lots of tomatoes have popped up from the compost so I will save a few and dig the rest in so as not to compete with the corn.

I have planted about 30 butternuts around the place. We got some really good ones last year.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spare Tyres and Chocolate Brownies

Every Friday for the past few months I meet with a friend to walk in the forest at 8.30am. All or some of my children come along depending on their school workload, but my 4 legged child, Lucky, is always there! It's one of my favorite things to do...walk my dog, see my children enjoy nature and spend time chatting to this relatively new, but very dear friend. We also workout at the gym together 3x a week, are in the same small house church and spend lots of R & R time together too.

While we were walking we were talking about the things that are concerning us with regards to turning the corner at 40. One of those things is the comfy spare tyre that has settled around our waists.

Well I got myself into such a tizz about it that I had to rush home and make the most decadent, rich, yummy, sticky, chocolatey thing I could find. This is what I made and it put all thoughts of spare tyres far from my mind... :-)

300g butter
300g sticky muscovado sugar
4 eggs
120g stone ground cake flour
50 raw coco powder
100g hazelnuts (bashed a bit to break up)
100g of good quality organic chocolate chopped into bits.

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, mix well. Mix all dry ingredients together with the choc chips and nuts, add to the butter mixture. Put in a greased medium oven dish. Bake at 180 deg C for about 20mins.

To make them gooey and yummy, do not over cook, but when you stick your knife in it MUST have some mixture still stuck to it...not too much though.

Allow to cool slightly and then gobble as many as you can before worrying about the scale or the headache tomorrow.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Good, better, best
Never let it rest
Til your good is better
And your better best!

Drink water = good
Drink natural (unbottled) spring water = better
Drink purified water (distilled, reverse osmosis etc) = best

Make your own bread = good
Make your own bread with unbleached stone ground flour = better
Make your own bread with freshly milled organic wheat flour = best

Eat your vegetables = good
Eat organic vegetables = better
Eat homegrown organic vegetables = best

Clean your home = good
Use natural shop bought cleaners = better
Make your own cleaning solutions = best

Feed your pets :0 = good
Feed your pets organic shop bought pet food = better
Make your own pet food = best

Attend to your personal hygiene :) = good
Use natural and organic hygiene products = better
Make your own soap and shampoo = best

I am sure you get the idea...?

Too often we beat ourselves up for not doing enough...I have tried to stick to the good, better, best principle and to keep growing and learning as I go along.