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A ramble about saving money in the kitchen…

21 Jan

I just wanted to do a quick post about some of the things I’ve been doing the last few days to save money in the kitchen which in turn saves waste or should that be other way around?  Either way if you want to learn more about what I am personally doing, then read on my friend.  I’m really getting into the whole stopping food waste movement within my own home.  In fact I’ve really put my foot down.  I think it all started with that watermelon rind relish..anyways here’s my list.

  • I am making smaller  meals.  There are only two humans in this house to feed and I find these days that a lot of recipes make more than the traditional 4 serves, more like six or eight even!  While I don’t mind leftovers for lunch the next day, I don’t want to be eating them all week long.  Ah but what about freezing leftovers I hear you say?  Yes I do that too but I prefer to plan to freeze leftovers or extra when I make something that I know will survive being frozen and reheated well, like bolognese sauce.  So now I’m reducing, sometimes halving all the ingredients a recipe calls for.  We still get another meal or two out of it, I don’t have to buy as much and so far there’s been no food thrown in the bin.
  • I had a good think about the leftovers I do freeze, I love making casseroles and stews with potato but after thawing and reheating the potato is just yuck.  Something happens to the texture when it freezes and it is not pleasant at all.  So I thought about it for a while when I had a few serves of chicken curry (with potato) that I knew wouldn’t get eaten in the next few days and I came up with = soup.  Yep simple as that.  I froze the curry in one person portions and put instructions on in case I forgot my grand plans.  I am happy to report that when I dashed home for lunch yesterday I grabbed my defrosted chicken curry, tossed it into the Thermomix for five minutes or so on 70 degrees celsius then gave it a quick whiz on reverse and viola, I had a lovely soup.  Because the potato was mushed up during the “whizzing” the texture problem disappeared.  You could still do this without a TM, just reheat your dish and use a stick mixer, blender or try a potato masher.  If it comes out too thick add some liquid like water, stock, cream, milk etc.  Now I’m really looking forward to my winter stew leftovers.
  • I’m also trying to use the leftovers in a different way, for example making extra rice one night and putting some aside for the next nights meal to be made into something else entirely.  Then it becomes not leftovers but a “get ahead” cooking idea saving time and energy.
  • I’m trying to use what I’ve got and not buy special ingredients.  There’s a lot of things that can be substituted without changing the results of a recipe much.  It’s harder to do in baking but cooking just begs for some improv.  Last night I wanted to make a creamy pasta dish and I didn’t have any cream but I knew I could make my own evaporated milk which is often used as a lighter version of cream.  So I did a quick search and found the easiest instructions: 280g of water + 90g powdered milk, whiz in Thermomix speed 5 for 5 seconds.  Done.  And I can assure you my creamy chicken and bacon ranch pasta was indeed creamy.  Of course you can whiz your homemade evap. milk in a blender or just whisk by hand.  Too easy.

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  • On the subject of meal planning I’ve tried it all, one week, fortnightly, monthly even but right now what is working for me is daily.  I know it doesn’t sound like much planning but what I’m trying to achieve is using all the food in my fridge, freezer and to a lesser degree pantry and stockpile.  I want to shop out of my own kitchen and save my pennies.  I find it easier when I am rummaging around in the chest freezer to pull something out for tomorrow nights dinner and take a look at what I’ve else I’ve got at home to make it a complete meal.  This is also where substituting comes in handy.  By doing it day by day I find I am using my brain much more to come up with ideas and recipes to use what I have instead of writing down a month of meals and a massive shopping list to go with it.
  • Two words: failed recipes.  Don’t you hate it when you see a great recipe on Pinterest and try it out only to have it flop for whatever reason (not always the recipes fault).  I’ve changed my attitude to these failures.  Usually they would sit in the biscuit tin or fridge untouched as time passed by then I would have to throw them in the bin because, well they must be off or stale.  No more food waste.  I told you I was putting my foot down.  A while ago I made what was going to be a lovely fruit bread for my toast in the mornings.  Well I missed the breadmaker beep to add the fruit, threw it in way too late and of course the sultanas just baked on the outside of the loaf.  Not good for toast (all those ‘tanas dropping and popping in the toaster).  So what could I do so I didn’t waste it, well I decided it would be perfect for bread and butter pudding, which we love to eat.  The loaf is currently residing in my freezer waiting for the weather to cool enough to turn the oven on.  Did I mention I love eating bread and butter pudding for breakfast?  Win!  Last week I attempted two Pinterest recipes that did not work out at all.  One was a cookie dough ball recipe which wouldn’t roll itself into balls so I squashed it flat in a dish instead.  The other was a peanut butter oat cookie that just didn’t want to set hard enough.  These were both no-bake recipes (I did mention it was hot didn’t I?)  anyway the consistency of both products was not conducive to eating as is so I put on my thinking cap and decided I would use them (separately) in my oatmeal and in smoothies.  I am currently making my way to finishing them and I am just about overjoyed that they did not get tossed in the bin.  By the way the cookie dough ball is awesome in oatmeal – it has choc chips in it which just ooze through the oats.
  • I’ve also decided to toughen up and not be such a prissy when it comes to using blemished or slightly not quite right produce.  There are many things you can safely eat without having to throw it in the bin, for example limp or wrinkled produce can be tossed into soups and stews.  So before I chuck anything in the rubbish now I give it a really good going over and asses if it can be salvaged either as a whole or some part of it.  If you’re not sure about food safety issues you can look them up online.  I’m talking mostly about produce here – fruit and veggies not meat, dairy etc.
  • It’s a funny thing that I’ve just got stuck into these strategies this last week or so and Taylor over at Home Storage Solutions 101 has posted an Eat From The Pantry And Freezer Challenge.  How very timely!  I am following Taylors 52 week declutter/organisation program (which is free) and I can tell you it has helped me immensely in all areas of my home – and it’s good for the budget too.  I plan to talk more about the 52 week program in another post so stay tuned.

Well so much for a short post, I hope some of you may be inspired to challenge yourself to stop food waste and save money in the kitchen.  If you have any tips or please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas.


From Food Waste to Fabulous – Watermelon Rind Relish

10 Jan

Food SOS – save our scraps people!  Did you know you could make a delicious savoury relish out of watermelon rind that you’d normally toss in the (compost) bin?  I have to thank Pinterest for this enlightenment.


I looked at a whole bunch of ideas for using up watermelon rind; pickled watermelon rind; watermelon rind jam and even watermelon rind candy, but I settled on the relish because it looked like a quick, simple and easy recipe…and it was!

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I followed the recipe for watermelon rind relish from the Attainable-Sustainable blog with a few tweaks as follows:

  • my red capsicum (bell pepper) was less than whole
  • I didn’t have any jalapeno pepper so I used some crushed chilli from a jar (just a touch)
  • I used mustard powder, about 1tsp as I didn’t have mustard seeds

I’m really into substituting and using what I have rather than running to the shops.  It saves money, time and hassle.

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My rind came from a quarter watermelon piece which made up the 4 cups needed, this was from an everyday, large, seedless melon.  I did use my Thermomix to quickly chop the rind, onion and capsicum.  Next time I will probably do the simmering in the TM too.

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The recipe made two jars of relish which is a good amount for a two person household, I gave one to my Mum but there are also instructions on canning the relish if you want to keep it in the pantry rather than the fridge.  I didn’t bother because we’ll eat ours straight away.

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With cheese and crackers!  Mum said she had hers on some corn fritters, oh my.  Have to try that next.  I just love that you can make something really yummy out of scraps that would normally go in the bin.  Stay tuned for more posts on this topic.

There are a lot of worrying statistics out there about food waste.  You can check out the facts at Foodwise about how much food us Aussies are throwing out.  I really can’t stand wasting food in my household, probably because I’m a “Simple Saver” and to me it’s like throwing my money in the rubbish bin.   According to Foodwise we are tossing up to 20% of the food we purchase, that is around $70 a month for our household or $840 per year.  Oh My Golly.  That’s just not good enough so I’ve decided to change my ways and I’ll be sharing my journey with you as I find out all the tips and tricks along the way as well as sharing what works for me and what does not.

So do you think you’ll try your hand at watermelon rind relish…or pickles…or candy?  I’d love to hear about it.  Also tell me how you eat your relish?  On burgers? On crackers like me?  Do you even like relish?

I tried to find out where watermelon rind relish originated from but couldn’t – if you know the answer please share it with us, I’m really intrigued.

new directions in 2015 and the truth about blogging

3 Jan


Hello all and Happy New Year to you!  A brand spanking new year is an amazing gift isn’t it?  A huge blank slate.  A time to plan, to start over, and to dream of all the wonderful things you can accomplish this year.

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I have been thinking a lot in the past six months about this blog, whether to continue doing it, feeling guilty about not posting frequently enough, toying with the idea of creating other blogs for other topics, wondering if anyone still reads this one?

If you’ve been here before you’ll know that my blog is predominantly a craft blog with a few wee sprinkles of other parts of my life.  I’ve read a lot of blog tips and advice and one major point has always been to find your niche and stick to it like glue.  I always thought crafts, particular paper crafts was my niche and my passion but honestly I have many passions and I really want to share them with anyone who will listen (or read them).

So I have made the executive decision to write about all my passions right here on this single blog.  The truth about blogging is that you are the owner of your blog, it’s yours, you are in controland you have absolute power.  I like the sound of that.  It really comes down to this – if I want to write about plucking my eyebrows then I can and will, even though it’s not craft related (or it could be if I plucked them into a pretty pattern I suppose).  In life there is always going to lots of advice around about anything and everything but in the end you need to go with your gut or your heart or whichever body part you wish.  This to ME feels like the right thing.

Yes my dear friends there will be a shift of focus in 2015, but don’t worry I still intend on posting lots of crafty goodness, after all it is a rather large passion of mine!

Wondering what to expect from now on?  Here’s a list of some of the topics I’d like to talk about in 2015…





Finance and Saving Money


Gardening (or my poor attempts at it)


Careers/Early Retirement

Arts and Crafts



It’s a pretty big list I know but I’m hoping there will be enough variety for everyone.  Are you planning any big changes in 2015?  Which direction are you going in?  I’d love to hear about it and if you’re a fellow blogger please leave a comment so I can come visit!


Thank you cards

30 Jul

Recently my partner celebrated a milestone birthday – the big three oh!  I got my talented friend Mel to make him a special cake, themed with his favorite superhero.



Isn’t it amazing?  It was exactly what I wanted and James loved it too.  Mel and I combined a few elements we’d seen on the net to come up with the design.  Anyway we had about 30 people which I catered for, yes I am quite crazy, but it was a fantastic night and I wanted to make some thank you cards for James to send out to those who gave him a pressie.


So I came up with these quick and cute cards.  If you’re a regular here you might recognize the bright blue card base.  The patterned paper was punched then layered onto white then the base card.  A little sentiment in matching blue ink finished these off nicely.


Midnight Snack

31 Dec

Okay so it’s not quite midnight but it is way past dinner time.

Chocolate fudge pie, cranberry coulis and ice cold milk. Sugar free!
Happy New Year everybody.

Mac and cheese

26 Dec

I know it’s Christmas time and depending where you are the thought of turning on the oven makes your hair frizzle but I had to tell you about this awesome recipe.  I recently purchased the Thermomix Vegetarian recipe book, no I’m not a veggo but it has a lot of great recipes, some vegan some not.  Plus they are mostly very healthy with things like chia and quinoa.    The mac and cheese is probably not any of those things BUT it’s got to be healthier than the ole Kraft box that you buy at the supermarket.


Folks it was delicious.  As you can see we both had two large helpings each.  You cook the sauce and pasta together in the TM then throw it in a dish with the grated cheese and bake.  Hooley dooley it is divine, rich and creamy.  If you’ve got the book – look up this recipe, if you were contemplating buying it – do so, it’s a fantastic recipe book chock full of yum.

By the way I am not a Thermomix consultant nor have I been paid to write this post.  It is simply my opinion and me sharing what I’m doing in the kitchen.

Healthy Nutella?

26 Nov

Yes it does exist – yipee.  I made some for the first time last week and it is good.  I used two recipes and made my own but I didn’t write it down as I wanted to see if it actually worked and tasted good.  I think I will tweak it next time as I used butter and it is quite hard (has to be refrigerated) to spread.  I might use this batch in something that calls for Nutella.  Here’s the links to the two recipes…chocolate covered katie and quirky cooking.  After I made it I also found a recipe in Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar cookbook that I have!

My choc hazelnut spread was made in the thermomix and with natural sugar substitutes (I gave up sugar in Feb).  It’s nice to have something to spread on toast since jam is out of the question.  Unless I make sugar free jam……hmmm.

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