21 September 2012

Time to make ... non-dairy milk






I'm a follower of the Down-To-Earth blog, where this week Rhonda shows us how to make Oat Milk

I'm not sure what is being done during processing to cow's milk these days, but both my youngest children and all my grand-children are dairy intolerant, so this will be worth a try.

The price of other non-dairy alternatives is very steep.  Soya milk (ready-made) is almost R20 a liter.  Dried milk powders like rice-milk and soya-milk are almost R40 per 500g bag which makes 5 liters at R8.   Two cups of oats will cost around R3, so there's a big saving.

If you do try it, let us know how it went? 









18 September 2012

Beans... wonderful beans!

Dried Pinto Beans or Speckled Sugar Beans (as we call them in SA)
I can rave about beans for ages, and have been cooking with them for the past 20 years!  Besides protein, they also provide fibre, which is badly lacking in today's processed foods.  Recently 2 people asked me for easy recipes to start cooking beans with, so before I waste anymore time, here is one of our family favourites.  My variations and tips are below.

BLACK EYE BEAN & VEGETABLE STEW (serves 4 - 6)
250g dried black eye beans (or peas as they're sometimes called)
1 large onion
3 sticks celery
3 carrots
1 green pepper
2 cloves garlic
50g butter
1 can chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh ones)
1 tbsp tomato puree (or 1 sachet)
2 - 3 tbsp wine (or dash of wine vinegar)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
chopped parsley

NIGHT BEFORE:
Soak beans overnight in cold water with double the amount of water. 

NEXT MORNING:
Drain and rinse beans.  Place in large pot, cover with water and simmer gently for about 40 minutes until tender.  Drain in colander and keep aside.  If you have a pressure cooker, cook for only 15 minutes.

AN HOUR BEFORE SUPPER:
Peel and chop onion, slice celery thinly, scrape & dice carrots.  Remove seeds from pepper and slice thinly, crush garlic.  Melt butter in a medium sized pot, and add all the prepared vegetables.  Fry gently without browning for about 10 minutes.  Then add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree and wine.  Season with salt & pepper and allow to simmer for 10 - 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley and/or grated cheese with brown rice and green salad.  Mmmm....delicious!

TIPS & TRICKS:
  1. One of the problems when cooking with dried beans is that we forget to soak them, so they're not ready when we want to use them.  To avoid this I always soak the whole bag of dried beans immediately when I get home from the shops.  If you have the beans soaking in a prominent spot in your kitchen, you're less likely to forget about them. 
  2. Next day I cook the whole lot with 2 bay leaves for flavour (DON'T ADD SALT as it toughens them), and when cooled, divide it up into 2 or 3 small ziplok bags and freeze (labelled of course), so that they're ready to go.
  3. If you're planning to include beans in your diet often, I REALLY recommend buying a pressure cooker!  It cuts the bean cooking time by at least one-third!
  4. I always add a tablespoon of (Ina Paarmans) vegetable stock powder to my vegetarian foods.
  5. I also always add a teaspoon of sugar when using bought tomato paste or canned tomatoes.
  6. I use cayenne pepper instead of black as it's healthier.
  7. I also cook brown rice in bulk so that I can grab a bag from the freezer and defrost in time for supper.
That's it.  I hope you try it because if you do, you'll love the taste of this recipe.  Let me know how yours turned out? 

15 September 2012

A Christmas Diary

I recently read about this great idea on another blog... her grandma used to write in it every Christmas, and update it with all the happenings of the family during the past year. 
She kept it up for many years and it became a favourite family tradition to read about the past each Christmas-time.  Now, as an adult, she keeps the diary going with stories of her own family.

How quickly the children grow up ... and equally, how quickly we forget all those funny, cute, adorable, crazy, silly things they do!  And all the events that take place in one year ... how will we remember them in years to come?  Years ago I used to keep track of my family in our photo album, which allowed a small space to add a caption to each picture.  Sadly, with the event of the digital camera, that tradition died.  My children still love to page through the old albums though, and reminisce with glee.

My dormant creative gene has been stirred from its hibernation...!  I'm already thinking of ways to combine a Thanksgiving Diary with a Scrapbook of selected digital photos. 

I hope this idea has stirred your imagination too!

02 September 2012

Slow Living August

Why do we call it slow living?  My life is so busy that time is going by too fast!  I can't believe August is gone, but I'm very happy to say good-bye to winter!  It's been such a long and cold one.  Anyway, here's what we've been up to during August.

NOURISH:
After reading 1000 days in Tuscany by  Marlena de Blasi,  I simply had to make Tuscany flatbread with olives, rock salt and rosemary.  What a hit that was, 2 flatbreads were devoured straight out of the oven.  I'll try to include the recipe here once I've figured out how to add it to a separate page! 

PREPARE:
Lemon cordial for the coming summer months, is what we've been making.  Sadly, my last bottle of lemon curd went off in the cupboard.  Lesson learnt... lemon curd must be refridgerated or frozen!  With butter being such a terrible price, I doubt I'll make any more this season.  I intend to make more marmalade before the oranges become pricey.

REDUCE:
Not much extra done this month besides the usual.

GREEN:
My first batch of homemade soap made with olive oil is still busy curing and feels a little soft to the touch even after 6 weeks.  I guess it has something to do with the cold, damp weather we've had.  (I'm hoping so!)

GROW:
With the cold weather we've had (did I mention that before? ;-) our community garden has not been producing much besides lettuces, spinach, rocket, coriander.  However, seedlings are starting to appear and we can look forward to the summer harvest once again. 

CREATE:
Started beanie for Matt (son no.3) with a skein of beautiful charcoal, 100% wool from Denmark and hope to finish it within the week (yes I know I missed his birthday deadline, but I was waiting for the wool to arrive ;-)

DISCOVER:
Busy researching Permaculture methods for the community garden.  We were approached by a local NGO (non profit), who wanted to show us how to do it the permaculture way.  Only problem was, they wanted to take over the entire garden and scrap everything we had going already.  It was a pity to turn the offer down, but we have invested too much to let it all go.  That led me to investigating further how to implement their methods.   Found a great blog that has helped to show the way.  I'll be writing up our progress on the community garden blog.

ENHANCE:
I think I mentioned previously that hubby and I are on the committee of a Scouts group.  The group is on the verge of collapse due to lack of boys and I have spent much time creating flyers, advertisements and planning social events.  Hubby and I were asked to become members of the board of Soil For Life and have accepted, hoping that we can be a benefit to this wonderful organisation that invests so much into local communities.  Attended a volunteers orientation day at our local SPCA with Sarah (daughter no.2) who wants to volunteer there, and was surprised to find out they have a horse unit as well as a farmyard and a wild life section (for snakes & baboons!).  I was so impressed that I wanted to volunteer too!  No, I didn't but I really want to... maybe someday.

ENJOY:
Surprisingly, there were quite a few really enjoyable events during August (besides a few bad ones, see below).  Sarah turned 16, Aunty Annie turned 105 (yes, it's true!), Matt turned 27 and Ruth (daughter no.1) turned 29.   Our dear friends asked us to house-sit for them over a long-weekend, and although their house is only a few kilometers from ours, the change was as good as a holiday.  Unfortunately, we discovered that our own house had been burgled while we were away.  Nothing too serious, they didn't manage to get into the main house, but broke into an out-building where we have yet to find out what they took, besides breaking a window!  Sadly, the koi and goldfish were stolen from our fishpond over the same weekend.   Strange, but true!
We attended a shakespeare play by a small homeschool group and had the good news that David (son no. 4) has been accepted at Oude Molen Academy of Science & Technology next year for grade 9.  This is a BIG step for us, as we have homeschooled up till now, but realised that he needs more than we are able to give him in technical education.

Well, that was some of our month.  How was yours?