Popped up to the pool with the kettle - as you do. No, I wasn't planning an afternoon tea pool party, although that idea certainly has its merits. I was actually planning an all out assault on certain persistent weeds in the retaining wall there. I plugged in the kettle at the pool deck, repeatedly filled and boiled it, then poured it on the dock and dandelion weeds whose roots go down between the bricks in the retaining wall, and refuse to die. Ha. That learned 'em. They won't try that trick again in a hurry. When I wasn't waging war on weeds I fed the orange trees up by the pool with two bags of delicious straw chicken bedding that my lovely gym buddy gave me. Best. Gift. Ever. Will make my hungry oranges happy, and biodegrade in no time. Brilliant present, requires no dusting! Am hoping for many more similar gifts:) Also added sheep poo for extra goodness. Sheep poo was the only thing I bought at the recent school fair. It actually doesn't provide much extra nutrition to plants, but is the most marvellous soil conditioner, especially for my clay soil.
It has been cool and rainy this week, which is excellent weather for transplanting, as the poor plants and seedlings get a good start with the rain, and no heat-induced transplant shock. Who has seen the gardening hint regarding planting the bunches of spring onions that you buy at the shops? Well, this week I had a go - used the tops of the onions, planted out the bottoms. Let's see how that works out. Has anyone else tried this?
Baby peas, baby parsley, wonky spring onions
Although I have tried many home made and natural cleaning products, I have always had to resort to nasty chemicals for the oven, because I wait for about a year between cleanings, despite my best intentions. Well, this weekend, I finally found a way to clean my oven successfully using lemons and baking soda. And lots of elbow grease.
When I started getting email reminders for this year's school fair, it occurred to me that I still had unidentified chunks of frozen lamb from last year's school fair, when I bought a side of lamb all at once to be thrifty. I am pretty sure that year-old frozen lamb won't kill us. At least it hasn't yet, but I did make a resolution to cook the remaining lamb chunks ASAP. So I thought I would share my fail-proof recipe for Mystery Freezer Meat. I made up this recipe because my family didn't really like any of the slow cooker recipes I tried. Not enough flavour, and vegies that taste blah at the end of all that cooking, so my solution was to invent a slow cooker base recipe, which I cook up with a big chunk of any cheap meat, then freeze and reheat with fresh vegies and spices at dinner time:
Best Ever Slow Cooker Base
Throw into the slow cooker:
1kg (2 lbs) of any cheap stewing meat. Fatty is fine, and makes it lovely and tender, just pop it straight in. A whole chicken also works well.
2 chopped onions
2 to 4 minced or chopped garlic cloves
2 heaped tsps dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 bottles tomato passata (680gm or 24oz each)
Cook on low for 8 hrs (I always start it on high until it boils, then turn down to low).
Once the meat falls apart when poked with a fork, turn it off and cool it down. When it is cool I pull apart the meat and fish out any bones, cartilage and fat. The I pop it into the fridge overnight. The next day I skim off any fat, and freeze in dinner-size portions. This amount makes about four dinners for our family of four.
When I want to serve I add salt, spices and vegies.
For Chili con Carne I add chili, coriander and cumin plus kidney beans, and serve with corn, salsa and sour cream.
For a classic stew, sauteed mushrooms and steamed or roasted pumpkin and carrot served with mashed potato.
Chunks of roasted zucchini, tomato and red pepper for a vaguely Italian inspired dish served over pasta or cous cous.
Whatever else your imagination suggests..
What fun thrifty projects have you undertaken this week? Any kitchen and garden adventures?