Saturday, April 28, 2012

Elastic Chicken...

Every blogger who has a frugal heart has to sometime over their life time do an elastic chicken post. So here is mine...with a difference. This is how I make 2 chickens feed my family for 2 meals, make chicken 3 litres of stock and feed my doggies 1 meal.

I generally only by whole chickens these days as they are about R15 cheaper than chicken pieces and if you know how to cut up a chicken you can get so much more value for your money. So once I have taken the 4 wings, breasts of 1 chicken, 4 drums, 4 thighs I put one set of breasts into the fridge for the next days soup.

The caracasses are made into chicken stock. The stock I use in soups and risottos. The left over stock bones and skin are given to the dogs.

The pieces can then be made into any chicken dish - a casserole, a curry or something similar. This week I made a traditional malay curry. I served it on lentils as versus rice as we are still eating a low carb diet.

Cape Malay Curry
Fry in some olive oil: 1 chopped onion, 5 chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon ginger and garlic, 2 chopped green peppers.

When those are soft add a tablespoon Garam Masala, 1/2 teapsoon chilli powder, 1 tablespoon each of cumin, corainder and fennel seeds. Add 1 full piece of stick cinnamon and 2 Star Anise. Allow to sizzle.

Add your chicken pieces and brown. Then add 2 cups of water. Allow to cook until almost done. Right at the end I add a can of coconut milk to make it like a Korma.

Chicken and Mushroom Soup
The next day I used the remaining 2 breasts, 1 pkt of happy hog bacon and a punnet of mushrooms and the delicious homemade stock for this chicken and mushroom soup.

Fry 1 chopped onion, a tablespoon of garlic, a sliced pkt of bacon until cooked. Add the 2 sliced chicken breasts and mushrooms and brown.

Then add two tablespoons of flour and stir to cover the ingredients in the pot.

Add 1 litre of stock and a pinch of fresh Thyme and allow to simmer until slightly thickened. Taste for salt and pepper then serve.

Friday, April 27, 2012

How to unblock a drain the green way!

A few years ago I would casually use Caustic Soda to unblock my drains. I never gave a thought to my environment or what I put down the drains. Nowadays I know a much greener, more frugal and less harmful way to degrease my drains. This morning I needed to give the sinks a good clean as my precious child who was on wash up duty didn't clean them out properly and they were all a bit yucky. So below you see the dirty drain hole with 2 heaped tablespoons of Bicarbonate of Soda.
Then pour a cup of vinegar down ontop of the Bicarb and let it fizzle for as along as it needs to react.
Follow this with half a kettle of boiling water and Viola! clean drains and hygienic sinks.
You can read other cleaning uses for vinegar and bicarb here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Opportunity Cost - a micro economics concept.

This year I am working through economics with my elder son for his Cambridge course. It is a little stretching for my brain to grapple with the new ideas and language, but we are jumping in with both feet and finding it quite enjoyable.

During my high school years two of my favourite subjects were needlework and home economics. I had hoped to find the easier route to the other girls who were doing science and maths, but instead I found something I loved.
Condensed milk cookies repeated frequently by hungry teens
As much as I loved these subjects, I wish I could say that I left school knowing how to cook, but, sadly, I didn’t. I only learnt to cook properly as a young mum. I did take my sewing skills into grown up life though. I was thinking about the subject name “home economics” today while waiting at my children’s music lessons. These days, It is becoming increasingly difficult to be live life without being economical. I am glad that I understand the economics of running a home, and even after 20 yrs of running a home, I am learning more and more how to be frugal with my money and my time. In fact, I think that is has been in the last 4 years that I have learnt the most.

So, back to Cambridge economics: A concept we were studying this week was one called “Opportunity Cost”. This is defined as “the cost of passing up the next best choice when making a decision” in layman’s terms.
My recipe book collection
Opportunity cost functions on a macro scale in world economics and governments have to make these decisions all the time: spending money on new Mercedes or housing the poor, paying school teachers or having a party! (Sorry, a bit of a political soap box there!).

In my micro world of economics – my home – I have two main areas to focus on – TIME and MONEY. I want to throw out into cyberspace some thoughts on time. These thoughts were crawling around in my mind while I was away and I need to give them voice. Time can never be played over again. Once the time that it takes to write this blog post is over, I can never get it back. I have sacrificed something else to write the blog post because I felt that this was where I wanted to invest my time. I can hear my children giggling in the next room as they watch Top Gear with their Dad, I have missed out. (Luckily I don’t like Jeremy Clarkson’s humour!) So this is an easy sacrifice to make.

I have been looking at time guzzlers in my small world. Take FaceBook for example. I have had two profiles there for the past 3 months as I was committed to shepherding a group of special ladies in an early morning challenge. It was a wonderful time with them, but the opportunity cost was less time for my quiet time in the mornings as it took time to check in with them all. It was a time cost I was prepared to pay for that season. That FB profile is now deleted and the time once again available to use for Bible study and prayer.
Knitting started this week. Waffle weave dischlothes.
I have 3 websites and another co-owned one. This all equates to lots of time spent online as they are an income generator and contribute to our family finances so I need to count the cost of spending time on them to make sure that links are not broken, content is updated and that subscribers get their quarterly newsletters. Then comes blogger – if there is one thing I love doing online it is putting up a blog post. It quick, easy and is an online diary for me and anyone who cares to read the ramblings of my very ordinary life. But it is again time spent on one thing when the cost comes at the expense of something else.

Household snag list needing attention...groan.
Next I was asking myself, if I didn’t have my websites, I didn’t blog and I didn’t have the Simple Green Living FB group, how would I spend my time? I also asked, do these things actually take THAT much time anyway? Over the last week I have been watching how I spend my time here so that I do not miss the best opportunity for something that is just good.

The best opportunities are spending more time with my Heavenly Father, spending time with my children, shepherding their precious vulnerable hearts, spending time (albeit in the evenings) with Superman, picking up my winter habit of knitting, spending more time making more nutritious foods and decluttering my overflowing cupboards…scratch that house... dealing with the household snag list that I have been ignorning for...uum...years! Luckily, Winter seemed to arrive today with torrents of rain, so gardening will slow remarkably but there is always something to be done in the garden.
Woodpile to be chopped and moved inside for toasty fires
As you can see, if you have managed to read this far, I have many open ended questions as I am still sorting things out in my head. I do however keep coming back to one scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1:11 "So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do." Economics and the Bible dovetail…I need to make sure that my choices in my home enable me to “live a life worthy of His call.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The charm of an Autumn garden

Before we left for the UK we did a big push in the garden to get everything planted. This work has paid off as the warm days that occured here, while Son and I we freezing in the Norther Hemisphere, have caused all the growth we needed to get a head start on our future winter harvests. Over the next while we will sow seeds for the late winter.

Autumn is such a lovely time as the bugs have subsided, the hectic harvests of summer are over, the warmth of the midday is mellow and I can feel a gentleness settle around my garden. Here is what we have growing at the moment:
Mixed salad leaves (front) Swiss Chard (back)


Bok Choi

Broad Beans

Sprouting broccoli as we have much more success with it that ones that need to develop a full head

New granadilla as our one planted in 2008 died at the end of summer

Sage - to be used in cooking but mainly grown for sage and lemon grass soap.

Peas with quick growing salads in between

Onion - red and white

Herbs - borage, last of basil and yarrow.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our 2 weeks in Great Britian

It's so good to be back. No matter how wonderful it was to see my sister and her family, to tour up to Scotland, to shop in London with my son...there is truly no place like home!

Our trip was 12 days long with two days travelling on either side and was split into three main sections. The photos below are of these rough times.

Kent...time with my beloved sister and her family. Time to see the boys connect after 8 long years apart. Time to explore, walk, delight. Time to eat her delicious cooking.

Good Morning Great Britian!

Bonnie Wee Lads
Easter Sunday
Morning doses of frost

My sisters rescue chickens happy in their loving home

While there we fetched 3 new chickens from a small home based chicken business. Long narrow plot with coops and more coops of all sorts of chooks.
Outside his home he runs an honesty shop for neighbours to buy his eggs.
Lovely jam session with other musicians.
Sister's newest hobby and passion - bee keeping.
So foolish taking pictures of grocery store in SA we can by about 3 varieties. Each crate here is a different one.
Spring sprung despite negative temperatures early in the morning most days.
Sis took me to Hampton Court Palace while the boys scared themselves silly at Thorpe Park. We had a carriage ride around the astounding gardens.
Hampton Court Palace - King Henry V111 era
Hampton Court Palace - William & Mary's era

The formal gardens of William and Mary
Well, just me!
Gorgeous tulips.
Sister's enviable Yorkshire puds!
Time in Scotland...rugged, wild, passionate, beautiful, cold. Standing in awe looking at the work of The Creator's hand. Snow lay in drifts after a massive fall a few days earlier.

The magnificent Glen Coe. Listen to the story of the Glencoe Massacre here.
Glen Coe
Fish and chips at Loch Ness
Snow in the Highlands
Boat trip around Loch Nessy!
Scotland from the train window.
Warming up at Pitlochry on our way home after 6 hours up to the Loch.
A morning tour of Edinburgh Castle. Scotland left us both feeling that we have to come back.
Time in London...history, money, shopping, sore feet, night time escapes, shows, people people everywhere.

Music shops in Tin Pan Alley. I sat, he discovered.

Compulsory visit to Hamleys for gifts. Lego model of the Queen, her corgie and William and Kate - life size!
The Whispering Gallery in St Pauls. Son climbed all the way up the +/- 540 stairs to the spire to see London from way up. I stopped at 237!
Amazing wonderful show.
Bad idea - Tower of London in the rain on a Bank Holiday with the world and their children!
Then, like always its back to real life, jump in with both feet...hop on that hamster wheel and keep running.