Green and Thrifty

The first roses of the season. Happy Spring:)

Ok, so first we have the Not Green and Thrifty section to get out of the way. This morning I emptied all the dead food out of the fridge. Oh dear, oh dear. Report card reads 'Could do better'. Note to self. Just stop buying cauliflower. No-one will eat it, no matter what you do to it.

Chopped up a big bunch of spinach from the school vegie garden into the lasagne - and, while we are on that subject, during my nana nap this afternoon I had a sudden vision of how to make bechamel sauce in the blender. This is how I always make custard, so I thought I would try it with white sauce as well. Worked like a dream (well, it would all have been much better if I hadn't dropped the flour container on the floor and had to do significant sweeping). So I put in the milk (600ml), melted the butter (60g), added that, then the flour (60g) and whizzed it all up in the blender, then whisked it in the saucepan as per usual, adding grated cheese (handful), nutmeg, pepper and salt at the end. It was much quicker than making a roux, and I imagine it wouldn't be as likely to go lumpy either. So, cooking experiment success story. Although it has just occurred to me that it makes more dishes. I love the dish washer.

In the last two weeks I have been given two cartons of eggs (thank you Karlin and Cindy), so we are enjoying our home laid breakfasts:

Gorgeous nana crockery from the op shop.

I have discovered there is nothing more fun than to dip asparagus spears in a soft boiled egg while reading murder mysteries at breakfast time. The easiest way to have the egg and asparagus ready at the same moment is to pop the asparagus into the egg water when it starts boiling. They will both be ready two and a half minutes later.

The weather here in balmy Tasmania is absolutely freezing. I am sure it is snowing on our nearest mountain right now. It is sleeting here. The vegie garden is hanging on, but kind of sulking a bit. I don't blame it. We are trying to be very good and wear all the layers instead of turning on the heaters, and I hope we are winning at the battle to save electricity. Our tumble dryer broke a couple of months ago. I haven't replaced it, because with only four people living here now it is possible to dry all our washing inside. Although really, I generally just hang it outside anyway and cross my fingers. The great thing about our weather is that there are usually enough breaks between rain to dry washing. So far, from a combination of luck and planning there have always been dry school uniforms, although the girls have had to wear their school socks twice on a number of occasions. I tell them hardship is good for character development:)

The reward for walking to the gym this week has been adorable fat pink crab apple buds. I have also actually walked into town a couple of times and not died, so that was good. I also got to appreciate the giant chestnut trees in the parks, with their elegant white candle flowers. Love, love. While I was walking I casually broke off a few geranium cuttings that were poking through front fences. I popped them into a glass of water on the kitchen bench, and so far have only one growing roots. But one free plant is better than none, non?

I have declared this week Rhododendron Appreciation Week, because they are at their glorious peak at the moment, veritable cascades of blossom in parks and gardens. My favourites are the white with pale pink edges. Monday is a public holiday, and I have planned to meet up with friends in a local park which has an entire hill covered with rhododendrons. We shall eat home baked goodies and stroll around the rhododendron forest appreciating them with enthusiasm.

Being thrifty is so easy if you love gardens. You get to walk everywhere and appreciate lovely gardens, a grand day out is appreciating gardens in beautiful free public parks, you get to share plants with friends and make whole new plants out of tiny twigs from people's front gardens, because nature doesn't ask you to pay for any of her bounty. Today I picked a salad of self-sown lettuce, which has been feeding us for about two months now. I also picked rocket which has been self-seeding between paving stones, and added self-sown parsley, and new little broad bean and snow pea leaves, which I grew from saved seed. Thank you nature. Keep it up:)


Anonymous said…

Laughing about the washing as we just restrung the washing line, making it possible for me to hang washing on it without having to wash the washing twice because the sheets dragged in the dirt...sigh...and I headed out in the afternoon happy as a lark because the mornings grey conditions had disappeared and the sun was shining and the blackbirds were singing. I no sooner got inside and sat back down again after hanging up my washing than the sky instantly got dark and it poured down raining. Not just drizzling, pouring down in buckets, for the space of 5 minutes whereby it stopped and went back to sunny blackbird trilling again. Sigh...

Hardship is most definitely good for character your children's future novels that they are going to write about you like Carry Fisher wrote about her mum...EEK!

Nature is my best friend. I just discovered some glorious double bright pink flowering hawthorns growing on the side of the road on one of our early morning dog walks. Guess who is going to take cuttings and plant them along her fenceline?

Making another homemade Christmas tree this year as well. Since we learned that plants are amazing we haven't had the heart to cut one down for our gratuitous carol (drunken) carol singing, so we make them out of driftwood and cast off tree branches etc. We thought we were onto a winner with a lovely central pole made of a big straight driftwood stick and driftwood spiraling up the central pole. It was a great Christmas tree till borers ate it in the shed :(. New tree this year! We are making all of our own Christmas decorations this year including dehydrating slices of citrus (very pretty and look like instagrammed stained glass), home-made gingerbread biscuits, clove studded oranges (still got one that was perfectly preserved from years ago) etc. We are taking Christmas back this year. NO commercialism at all. Just us, and the sunshine (hopefully, it IS Tassie after all ;) ) and a glorious elegant sufficiency of happiness methinks.

I am loving your posts of late. They all ring with spring possibilities and happiness and the frugal backbone is admirable and exciting. Keep up the good work and let us know (some photos?) how that visit to the Gorge goes. Those Rhododendrons are magnificent but I rarely get into town now to see them. We have our own motley crew of them here on Serendipity Farm but they just aren't the same as those towering Rhododendrons at the Gorge.
Anonymous said…
I agree with Fran, your plots are sounds so much more positive and full of the joy of life.

I have been very thrifty and green in ensuring very little food is wasted, but last week threw out some cheese. Felt so guilty. What a waste of all that work and effort of the cows, the farmer and the cheese maker!

I do love a rhododendron display! evey year I say I will go up the Blue Mountains to see the display but it is always a busy and tiring time of the year and if you saw the weekend traffic you'd hibernate at home too. Another reason to quit work. I could do what I want when I want, including going up the mountains during the work week!
Anonymous said…
Plots should be posts.

i think blogger is sabotaging wordpress commenters!
Bek said…
I have the same thing with cycling (my daily commute to work method). It really is amazing how much more you see of the world. I drove everywhere for years, burning oil and not knowing what I was missing. No more!
Yay for self sown lettuce. Rocket and parsley are terrible weeds though. They grow everywhere, especially where you don't want them.
Kristen Johns said…
Love your post! I am an avid walker too for the main purpose of looking at everyone's gardens! I find it so interesting that so many of the plants you mention surround me too, even though I'm on the other side of the world (in Canada).The chestnut trees, rhodos,geraniums,crab apples...I have all of these outside my front door! Similar climates perhaps? Or is it our Commonwealth roots? Whatever it is, I love hearing about your garden and your walks!
Jo said…
Fran, thanks for that link - but believe me, I only throw out food when it is WAAAY past making soup. It was all quite nasty..
Oooh, hawthorn hedges, yes, you really need to do that! And I LOVE your Christmas already, it is just what Christmas should be and sounds very Little House on the Prairie:) I have a clove-studdded orange that my younger cousin gave me when I was about 18. It is still perfectly preserved and fragrant and lives in my underwear drawer.
I love the rhodos at the Gorge, but tomorrow I am going to Punchbowl Park. An entire hillside of rhododendrons to fall in love with!
Lucinda, your cheese waste is super virtuous compared with what I just threw out! And this is another reason to move to Tasmania - rhododendrons within a five minute drive!
Bek, rocket and parsley may be weeds, but they are edible weeds, for which they are forgiven!
Kristen, we gardeners are so easily amused, aren't we? Tasmania would grow much the same range of plants as Canada, but our seasons are much milder. We don't get very hot, and we don't get six feet of snow, except up in the mountains. Ideal for growing just about anything! Lucky me:)
I just love seeing all the plants and trees here that I only ever read about in English story books. Bluebells, chestnuts, oaks, beautiful autumn colour, spring bulbs - plus our wonderful native forests. I am only perplexed that everyone doesn't move here!!
Anonymous said…
I walk every day and my main preoccupation is plants - everything from weeds in ditches to gardens to public parks. And of course I don't put any of my "learnings" into effect in my own yard/garden. Lots of room for improvement!
Anonymous said…
Wordpress hates blogger, blogger hates wordpress - anyone would think they were in highschool!

I am so much better at the using stuff before it gets festy and turns into science in the fridge (I only chucked out two half bits of dead carrot and half a punnet of very scientific cherry tomoatoes.) Oh, and some chocolate pudding that disappeared into the fridge for two weeks. Not sure how that happened, although the fridge is deep rather than wide.

I am also totally stealing your white/bechamel sauce methodology. Last time I made it (1.5 times the recipe. Awkward translations of this much so half this much again kind of thing.) I stuffed it up beyond belief and learned about cold roux, thus rescuing the imminent disaster. I reckon if my blender can cope with double your recipe, I am laughing like a fat, hairy green spider.
Jo said…
Dar, the wonderful thing about room for improvement is that you can indulge in a wild sense of optimism about how good everything could be, without ever having to put it into practise. I do this ALL the time:)
Miss Maudy, sounds like you did a spectacular save already. Those white sauces are so tricky. My classic white sauce save is to throw it in the blender with some cold milk, which so far, has worked every time. So I figure, if I'm going to get the blender out anyway, may as well use it to start with:)
I want to see the whole fat, hairy green spider laughing thing. I am sure it is a sight not to be missed..
Anonymous said…
Well, I tried the white sauce in the food processor (I had it out anyway to make breadcrumbs from a loaf of bread everyone was refusing to eat) and um. Not awesome. I think because the blades aren't quite at the right levels. So, next time I will try the blender!
Jo said…
Definitely go the blender! By the way, the sauce will look awful due to the whizzed up butter, but it soon blends beautifully in the pan. Good luck:)

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