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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Meatless Monday (on Wednesday)

We are trying to have at least one meatless night per week, in the interests of health, economy and saving the world. 
This week I decided it would be Chick Pea Patties, and they turned out amazing.

chick pea patties

I Googled a recipe, but didn't have all the ingredients, so I improvised. I will put both versions here.

Chick Pea Patties

2 x 300g cans of chickpeas (but I used 2 x 415g cans)
1/2 cup of greek yoghurt (I used 1Tbsp yoghurt, 1 tsp tahini paste, 
                                     1 Tbsp sour cream and 1 tsp tomato paste)
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 egg
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 green onions ( I used 1 1/2 red onions)
1/2 cup coriander ( I used parsley)
Process in a food processor then form into patties and put them in the fridge until ready to shallow fry, a few minutes on each side.

I love having my recipes on my blog, as now they are accessible from anywhere..and as we are off to Australia next week, I might be needing them.
Phew, I am almost organised. There has been so much to do - definitely a lot more work having a housesitter in, making sure everything is clean and tidy. Even the dog got a bath today (of sorts), while tied to the lemon tree, with my foot on his lead. He hates having water poured on him - even though it was warm.
My big boy Cinderpuss - approx 12 years old. You can he's a boy because he has control of the remote!

But the housesitter will be worth it, saving the boys having to spend a fortnight in the cattery and kennels, and security for us knowing someone is in the house. Plus half of my spring cleaning is already done.
So no blogs for 2 weeks and I hope to have lots of new and interesting things to blog about when I get back. Bye for now. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Reducing the numbers

Every week Wendyl Nissen does a column in the Weekend Herald taking a packaged food and decoding what is in it. Last weekend's food was a pam's frozen cheesecake in which there were 42 ingredients.
As an alternative she suggests a Nigella Lawson recipe that contains 15 ingredients.

If there was ever an argument for returning to slow food the numbers are up lower fat..reduced sugar..lowering salt..taste..control of what we are eating. And then there is sense of achievement, nurturing and so much more.
I also believe that home cooking is one of the memories we give our children, the smell of baking when they get home from school or for a partner, the smell of a casserole when they come in from work on a winter's night.

I hasten to add, after finishing the book The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, which I referred to in an earlier blog, that I won't be cooking roadkill or making cannabis oil any time soon, although there was definitely interesting content in the book.


After following a tip to remove permanent marker pen from something with hairspray I'm definitely having second thoughts about spraying that stuff on my head. It just dissolved the ink, which was great - but scary as far as chemicals we use.

Cleaning, cleaning...
That's what I'm doing at the moment as we are going on holiday and have a housesitter coming in. Suddenly I am seeing everything with new eyes. The place smells wonderfully of Dr Bronner's peppermint castile soap.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Russell and Kawakawa, Bay of Islands

This morning I had an errand to run to Russell - which is such a good excuse to mooch around there. I love Russell, and in the Winter it's quiet and villagey. 

I took my metal detector with me, as Russell is one of our oldest established towns in NZ, having once been bustling with whalers and settlers. Sometimes while beachcombing we find sea smoothed pieces of old patterned china, plus always bits of "shipwreck," which I use in my art, and loads of beach glass.
One of the locals was quick to point out that if I should find anything of historical significance that I should hand it in to the police station. I told him I was really hoping for gold coins. I did find some coins, one gold, but not enough to buy my coffee later - however I spent my findings in the local op shop. (purchase shown further down page)

Russell waterfront

Russell Wharf
I decided to pop in to a local training cafe for some sustenance to keep me going while I caught the vehicle ferry back to Opua, which saves a long windy drive around the coast. I carry my reuseable takeaway coffee cup in the glove compartment for times like this, and the barristas are always happy to fill it for me - some ask where I got it, as it is perfectly sized for coffee machines. I tell them to look here - where they sell for $15

Ideal Cup
 Not only did they make a top cup of coffee, and were nice to boot, but with a piece of carrot cake it all only came to $5. Recommended.

Unique Cafe - Russell

A little detour on the way home saw me stop at Kawakawa - a little township famed for it's public toilets - designed by the late artist Friederich Hundertwasser who lived nearby for some years.

 It also has railway lines that run through the centre of town, where sometimes an old steam train will run on an excursion.

I stopped in at the St John's Op shop, where I found these beaut old vintage curtains. They won't suit our place, but I thought I might like to make something out of them.

true vintage - and $4 each.
My purchase in Russell's Op shop was these shower curtain rings - which were not really cheap as I think they put the prices up for out of towners, but it is a donation to charity, and I don't like buying new plastic - there is already too much in the world. I only wish I had bought a few more, as I underestimated how many scarves I have.



Thursday, 15 August 2013

Be The Change You Want To See

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Ghandi 

I wondered if there was a word for fear of running out of plastic bags, because I think Derek has it - but when I googled it there wasn't one. He will learn to cope with paper lined bins etc. but we haven't managed to run out yet.
 It's really hard work to stop people giving you bags with things. For example I take my reuseable bags to the supermarket, but when I'm not looking they put all the meat into plastic bags, and then into my reuseable bags "in case they leak". So I put plastic bags in the reuseable bags for them to use, and sometimes they do, or I ask nicely if they can wrap things in newspaper, which I know kind of annoys them as it is time consuming.
I am working on finding a butcher who doesn't need to also put everything on styrofoam trays so that will solve a lot of that problem, and also to provide the cat's food, as he only really likes Jimbos, which comes in a plastic pot. 
I hope that by the end of this year I will have managed ways to reduce most of the packaging coming in to our home.

The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved
I picked up this book in the library the other day. The introduction nearly lost me - "I was inspired to write this book by two years of travelling around the United States and Australia talking to people about fermentation." - but it is proving interesting. There is a chapter on slow food, and some interesting recipes. He describes a Bread Club, where people drop in for all sorts of food products which are made in everyday kitchens, but has evolved to include veges, honey and eggs etc. It was started by a man who makes bread, but doesn't want to go to the extreme of becoming a certified commercial enterprise. So it is like a neighbourhood where they sell and exchange the produce they make. It has to be an underground movement, not to attract the attention of officials as the premises are unlicensed. I thought that sounded like such a good idea - I would be  in to that.

I wish my blueberry bush looked like this!

In the book he also talks about blueberry bushes that are still producing after 30 - 60 years! Mine is looking sick after moving it, but it would be worth buying a few more if they last that long. Blueberries are relatively new plants here in New Zealand.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Making lots

Yesterday became a busy day. I had a plan to make a couple of recipes, but it evolved into...while I have these out I might as I made:
Lasagne - having handmade the pasta first.
Dishwasher Powder
Laundry Powder
Lipgloss (melted down rundown lipsticks and mixed with a Thin Lizzy Gloss)
Liquid Hand Soap

The recipes for most of these are already in my blogs.
The hand soap I made as follows:
still needed to add more grated soap

I used Melt and Pour soap from A 1kg block was $16 and I used 150g. This made up enough for 3 hand soap pump bottles. Not only is this way cheaper than buying it - but there are no plastic bottles to dispose of. This recipe is adapted from one I found in "The Complete Soapmaker"

150g grated soap of your choice - i used clear melt and pour soap
450g water - yes you need to weigh it
1 tablespoon of glycerine
essential oil for perfume as you wish

Melt all together and mix. If it is too thick add more water, if too thin add more soap - easy! Pour into pump bottles you have saved.
This recipe could also be used for body wash for the shower, as I think they are essentially the same thing. 

Our garden is not a thing of beauty this winter. The possums and slugs and snails have take their toll. After trialing lots of methods of pest control we have resorted to hand picking the slugs and snails at night, and that seems to work best. Much more productive than watching television.
The critters made short work of my sugar snap peas, despite netting, so that we only got about a dozen I have now taken to using the new sprouts in my salads and stirfries. At least I feel like we are getting some return. I don't know why I didn't think of this before, they are yum.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A bit of NZ

Kina's Nest
First up I have a genuine Kina's Nest. Kina, for overseas visitors is the Maori name for the sea urchin.

Kina's Nest.
Small Town - Paihia, Bay of Islands

This weekend gone was the Annual Jazz and Blues Festival in the Bay of Islands. Unfortunately due the lead guitarist having a broken finger we had to pull out, but it was a great opportunity to see all the bands we could (there were about 50), without having to rush between venues ourselves.
The weather was a bit drizzly, so it didn't make for good photos, but the atmosphere was great, and there was a good crowd this year.

love the shoes
The weather stopped a few street performances, but here are a few pics.
loved these two, especially his high kicks!


We stopped in at Ipipiri Art Gallery in Paihia, where there was a great painting display by Patricia Macdonald,  but also these amazing little fairyscapes by Sheree Wagener. I can't get an image on here but will link to the gallery's flyer here - go have a look at the extraordinary detail. Even the men were fascinated.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Seaweed and a little Mail Art


There are two schools of thought on whether to wash seaweed before it is used on the garden as mulch. We used to wash it, but learned that we needn't bother at a composting workshop a while back. Now we just pile it straight on. Our garden has thrived from using heaps of seaweed that is free for the taking so close to home. 
We layer it around all our fruit trees, and as mulch around all new plants we put in. It is reputed to help break down clay soil, which is what we have, and this seems to be true here. I like to put lawn clippings on top of it, which I think helps it to break down, as we don't bother to chop the seaweed up.
We also figure that using it in our vege garden adds iodine to the soil - a mineral that New Zealand soil is lacking.

We use it to make liquid seaweed fertilizer, by putting it in a big barrel in the garden and covering it with water. After it has been there for a few weeks/ months I just ladle it out onto my plants. I don't bother diluting it and it is fine. I then top the barrel back up with water, and after a while put the used barrelled seaweed on the garden and get some fresh stuff.
Seaweed also gets thrown into the compost bin mix.
The gardens look so much healthier since we started using seaweed, horse manure and lawn clippings. No need to buy compost here.

Mail Art
I take any opportunity to turn parcels I need to post into mail art. What would you rather find in your mailbox - a courier post bag or something like this...

On the back is a collaged love poem - given that it is an engagement present.
This one is fairly understated, but it uses recycled materials.

Recently I received my sewing machine in the post that I had bought on Trade Me. The seller had charged me $7 above what the postage cost. When I questioned her about it, she said it was for packaging as she'd had to buy lots more bubble wrap - AGH! If she had asked me, I would have requested she find some packaging to recycle - I'm sure everyone must have access to this. Newspaper even.

We are off to the Jazz and Blues Festival in the Bay of Islands for the weekend, so will have some photos for the next blog.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Working Out

Yesterday I found this book "How to Never Look Fat Again" by Charla Krupp in the library.

Today I have been going through my wardrobe, and have some ideas on altering a few things and discarding a few others - but more on that in a later post. What I really took away from it was a lightbulb moment.
I have bemoaned the fact that now that I am over 50, kilos seem to hurl themselves at me. I have wailed " Not fair - my activity and eating are no different to what they have always been!" According to the book, therein lies the problem. I can no longer live like that without piling on weight.
My 19 year old daughter says "Just go to the gym"...She so doesn't get my lifestyle.
Some days I get my exercise by lugging 10 kg bags of horse poo (two at a time) up the steep hill in the paddock next door, or working out in the teatree, cutting boxes full of dead branches for fire starters. Otherwise it is going for a bike ride with the dog and picking up litter, or gardening. Are you seeing a theme here? 
Today I felt like a change, so Munta (dog) and I drove to the beach, which is 7km from home. We walked for 1 3/4 hours, mostly in the soft sand because that was where the driftwood was. I picked up driftwood, plastic rubbish, pumice, shells and flotsam.
In that time there were a couple of other people on the beach. These views are looking both ways on Pataua North beach

 This was a beautiful little beachscape that I found - just as it lies..

Flotsam or Jetsam? I took it home
Flotsam, flot'sam, n. Portion of a wreck that continues floating.
Jetsam, Jetson, jet'sam, jet'sun, n. The throwing of goods overboard to lighten a ship in distress; goods so thrown away.

Then home for a good lie down and a cup of tea.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Green recipe and some Green comment

In my last post I followed some recipes, but wanted to test them out before posting them here.
 I made a Rosemary and Vinegar Hair Rinse- which the jury is still out on. It by no means left my hair easily combable, and it didn't look much different, so I might be searching for a better formula.
The Olive and Coconut Oil soap looks like it turned out well, but has to dry for a few weeks before use, so I will most likely post that in October, along with some tricks I learned that weren't in the recipe.

olive and coconut oil soap - curing

I have been out to the garden this morning to check how the citrus shell slug n snail collectors worked - and yes! I picked a little bowl of the critters and dealt with them appropriately.

The Laundry Powder was a success, and I will be using this from now on:

Grate 1 cake of soap Sunlight or Sards Wonder soap. (I used Sunlight)
1 cup washing Soda
100 g Borax

I crumbled the soap in my fingers, and crushed the bigger lumps of washing soda, but I think next time I will whiz it in the food processor to make more of a powder. 
Use a laundry powder scoop to measure - or experiment for yourself.
This works fine for our frontloader, which requires low sudsing, and is also safe for the septic tank and as grey water for the garden. It dissolved in a warm wash, with no residue and the clothes were clean.

laundry powder

 I found this in our local library - grab it if you see it - it's great.. 

Organic solutions to garden and household pests

This is a second edition, published in Australia in 2011.
The photography is lovely in this easy to follow little soft cover book of 150 pages.
There are ideas for physically protecting plants using such things as copper collars and plant covers, lots of companion planting ideas, and comment on purchased pest killers among loads of other good information.

I was interested to read that she doesn't use Derris Dust - which is classified as organic, as the active chemical is rotenone, which is poisonous to frogs, fish and worms and may have long term health consequences for people.
Being an Australian book, the section on possums made me feel so sorry for them. "By law any trapped possum must be released within 50 metres of where it was trapped." Not much point really. A bit different to New Zealand where many people go out of their way to run them over on the road.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Help - we've been brainwashed!

Looking back over my life I realize that I have automatically followed what my mother has done a lot of the time. Now if you have read my older posts you will know that my mother was an early greenie and quite frugal, but even my mother didn't use a lot of the green cleaning ideas. I think cleaning products were supposedly exciting and new labour-saving ideas back then...but in my early adulthood I just followed on. Special window cleaner (pink stuff that was dreadful), oven cleaner, different cleaners for more.

So it is exciting that a lot of today's young mothers are on the Green Train - hopefully their children will copy them too.
I have just reread Wendly Nissen's book "Domestic Goddess on a Budget"- link to her site here for all sorts of recipes.

I have been on a 5 day internet diet (because I did too much ..ahem..research before the end of the month). I could have topped it up, but was being frugal, and wanted to prove to myself that I wasn't addicted. It was tough though..especially the last day. 

Olive and coconut oil soap, rosemary and vinegar hair conditioner, laundry powder

But I have been productive, making soap, and rosemary and vinegar hair conditioner and laundry powder among other things. I will post some recipes etc when I have made sure they all work.  

Snails again

If I seem a bit obsessed with snails it's because i have a plague of them and don't like to be here's the latest..from the book "Gorgeous garden Boosters"
..In 2010 amateur observer Ruth Brooks astonished scientists by proving what gardeners have always maintained - that snails have a "homing instinct".
She did this by collecting snails by hand, marking their shells with nail polish, then transporting them increasing distances from her garden, discovering that even when left 30m (100ft) away they managed to find their way back. good just throwing them over your fence.
Also a tip - if you leave emptied out citrus halves face down in the garden snails will shelter in them and can be picked up and disposed of easily. I haven't tried this yet, but will when the rain stops.