Friday, March 20, 2015

Green and Thrifty


Well, of course I have to mention the pears. Still picking and preserving. I am keeping the dryer trays full, but still only just keeping up with demand. I am absolutely going to have to hide the dried pear. It is so sweet it is like fruit candy. Today I spent some time up in the pear tree picking some of the really high ones. My mum and dad are visiting, and mum graciously formed part of the chain gang ferrying the precious pears into a basket. I have given the apples a week off this week, because the pears are higher priority - if I don't pick them all now they will drop and squash..




Greengages! I had only ever read about these plums in old English novels before I moved to Tasmania, but many old gardens here feature a greengage tree, which are highly prized locally for making Greengage Jam. A kind friend invited me over to pick greengages from her laden tree, and having enough jam to last about three years I decided to dry the greengages. Oh my, they are extremely yummy. I will have to hide them too, and ration them over the winter.

Honestly, I am starting to feel like a squirrel. This is the first autumn that I have been really serious about food preservation of the summer harvest. It is hard work, but I am loving it, and loving the feeling of security when I open the cupboard and see all that wonderful food there. This week I have made another four kilograms of tomatoes into passata, and feel like I have really gotten on top of the process now, which is great because I need to do many more in the next couple of weeks in order to have my year's worth of passata sorted. Next spring I need to plant so many tomatoes!

Thrifty food saves this week - a wilty Chinese cabbage turned into coleslaw, wilty celery thrown into the shepherd's pie, a small amount of mince for the shepherd's pie eked out with the amazing disappearing trick that is red lentils. Report: no-one noticed that there was a)less meat or b)lentils in the shepherd's pie. Win.

Tried a vegetarian curry with chick peas and lots of veg. Nailed it, despite sniffy remarks from the ten year old about it not being a 'real' curry (she still ate it..). Made lots of chicken stock, have another chicken carcass to turn into more chicken stock tomorrow.

Have been experimenting with alternative food for the dog, mostly by giving him human food left over from dinner. So far he has loved roast chicken dinner (well, der), also pumpkin soup and assorted roast veg. I saved the chicken fat from the roast and have been adding a spoonful a day to his kibble when there is nothing else fun available. So far I have been feeding him half his normal kibble and half human dinner. He much prefers human food, and as most of the meat, veg and grains that form the basis of most of our meals cost less per kilogram than the expensive dog kibble the vet recommended.. well, it must be reducing the dog food bill.



Today the universe conspired to send me lots of books - mum and I 'accidently' wandered into a haven for old books (seriously - it was masquerading as a cafe), and had to bring a few home with us. Then when Posy came home from school she was proudly sporting a 'library monitor' badge, and as a reward for volunteering to do whatever important jobs library monitors do, she was allowed to bring home a stack of unwanted library books. Such taste that girl has - a Beatrix Potter compendium, a splendidly illustrated biography of Ernest Shepard, an origami book, some Judy Blume, Diana Wynne Jones, Ralph S Mouse (remember him?), and a book which she apparently chose for me particularly, about a family which moves to a remote bay in southwest Tasmania to live the pioneering life. Published in 1952, it was originally bought at Birchalls, our celebrated local bookshop, for 6/3 (six shillings and threepence?) and has been on the shelf at Posy's school ever since. I love Tasmania:) So that is my Friday night treat - adventure at World's End among the centuries old trees and the blue sea. There are pigs, hard working children, vegetable gardens, and a wicked aunt. All my favourite things!

What thrifty treats has the universe provided for you this week?








25 comments:

lucindasans said...

You started off talking about pears and hen we get the first photo. Funny pears, I thought. Very small. Maybe it is just my failing elderly eyes. Pinch that picture larger. "There not pears. What is she talking about? They're unripe plums!"

Then I read the rest Ah!!! So save some dried plums for me. Coming this January.

As to chick pea curry. My boys, all carnivores, eat it with relish. Literally. I make the curry with Campbell's real stock. My secret ingredient. And coconut milk. Serve it with rice, homemade yoghurt and mango chutney. Not that the latter is cheap and frugal. Sometimes I also serve it with naans, sprinkled with turmeric and water, wrapped in baking paper and heated in the oven. Thanks to Jamie Oliver for the naan idea. Sometimes I use coriander stems at the start, if I have coriander in the fridge. Chop the stems and fry them with the curry paste. A hearty winter warmer. And often served at my place.

lucindasans said...

And please put down typos to autocorrect and my tiny keyboard on my iPhone. Not intellect.

Lovely book choices btw.

CJ said...

Dried pears, I'm very envious. I need to try that this year. You're doing really well with your preserving, it will be such a treat in winter to just reach for your jars and bottles. I like the idea of coleslaw made with Chinese cabbage. Coleslaw can be a bit tough with ordinary cabbage sometimes, the Chinese one sounds delicious. I'm a big fan of old books as well, I love a root round a secondhand bookshop. And well done to your daughter on her excellent choices. I sneaked some of the last squash into chocolate brownies yesterday. No-one knows that there are vegetables in there. Time to sow seeds for this year now I think. CJ xx

Jo said...

Lucinda, our curry recipes sound very similar - but homemade yoghurt - that is next on my list of things to try. How do you make yours?
PS I would never doubt your intellect:)
CJ, hiding veg in cake. He he. You are so sneaky:)

Lynda D said...

Its so lovely reading the joy in your posts. You are doing life really well. You are in control.

Goodness, that sounds like a good book. Ill be searching for it today. Wonder if our library has it.

Jo said...

Lynda, I wouldn't exactly say in control.. but I am having fun!
I would have my doubts about finding this book in the library - most libraries have thrown out their 1950s children's books by now, if they haven't been re-issued. It's generally 'in with the new', and not always for the better, as we well know..

lucindasans said...

Jo, I don't know if my yoghurt will be homemade enough for you but let me sing the praises of Easiyo. I bought the kit for $20. It is basically a thermos. You mix the packet in the provided litre jar with tap water while the kettle boils, pour the boiling water in the thermos, put the jar in the thermos and leave for 12 to 24 hours, depending on how you like yoghurt.

We only use the Easiyo Greek. Rich and tart. My eldest, husband and I love it. Nicer than any expensive one. And it lasts longer in the fridge than any I have ever bought. I don't have waste. And you can have the sachets waiting in the pantry. If I don't have any but need it for a curry, simple. Make it the night or morning before. It's delish as a creamy dessert with passion fruit or raspberry and rhubarb.

One friend I put into it, started eating it for breakfast every morning. She couldn't believe how yummy and creamy it was. And so easy to make.

On SS, there are thread on making it more cheaply, using a bit of a previous batch as a starter and using skim milk powder. I havent tried it. We like it the way it is. And I don't stock milk powder.

Works out at about $4.90 for a litre of the best yoghurt ever. You can buy packets for cheaper online at Golden Glow, if you buy in packs of 10.

wendy duchess_declutter said...

You are doing so well in your thrifty endeavours Jo! Nodding my head to a lot of them, particularly dog food. Our dogs love any form of human food with a bit of dog pellets thrown in.
I love Tasmania too - just visited in February to try and escape some of the Qld heat. Didn't really work because it's been hot right through to now. Your book sounds interesting and well done Posy for becoming a library monitor! cheers Wendy

Jo said...

Lucinda, my mum does the same, and has been telling me how fab easiyo is. I would like to get away with not buying the kit of course, because I am a complete masochist, but if the super crunchy home made recipes aren't fabulous, I will know where to turn next.. because we need fabulous yoghurt here. My kids live on it because I don't buy them cereal..

Thanks for the lovely encouragement Wendy:) Hope you had fun in Tasmania. I really enjoy Queensland.. in July:)

heather said...

I have heard that it is easy to keep culturing yogurt at the right temperature in a dehydrator with a temperature control. Keep meaning to try it…

I have two Green and Thrifties which revealed a single lesson this week: don't make such a Thing out of everything.

1. I was considering buying a new pair of lightweight pants for an upcoming trip. Instead I dug through the closet and found a nice pair of black linen pants (with a comfy stretchy waist- I'm such a fashionista) that my mother in law bought me, which have been languishing in there for a very long time, waiting for me to hem them up. But you see, something's wrong with my sewing machine thread tension, so… I pinned them up and ironed them and found a pocket of time in my schedule this week when I'm going to be sitting through a boring kids' activity practice. Voilà! I shall hand-hem my pants! No new ones, no paying a tailor (yes, I have done this…), and no throwing the sewing machine through the dining room window. Savings all around.

2. I got seduced into buying too many mushrooms this week. (Not the thrifty part.) Organic was on sale for the same price as conventional, as long as you bought the whole pound box… Sadly, I'm the only one who eats mushrooms at my house. But I told myself I could just dehydrate the extras, after slicing them up on my seldom-used mandolin. Of course the reason I don't use my mandolin that often is that I'm scared of it- I seem to slice myself along with the food EVERY TIME. Plus, it's a hassle to wash, and it takes up so much room on the counter while it's drying… wah, wah, wah... So the mushrooms have been reproaching me from the crisper drawer all week. Today I sucked it up and got out the mandolin- which tore up the mushrooms instead of slicing them. Paring knife, cutting board, 5 minutes. What was my mental blockage? And it turns out that you can towel dry a mandolin- who knew? Bonus: when I put the mushrooms in the dehydrator, I found two trays of dried peppers that I had forgotten about for, oh… let's just say it's been a while since pepper season here. :) There's my gift from the universe.

So note to self: quit procrastinating by making everything into such a big hairy deal. It's not all that hard to be a little green and thrifty sometimes.

--Chicken Heather

Jo said...

Heather, you are a star! I am so impressed that you saved on reglazing your windows, and also on finger surgery. Good work!!
I am hearing you on the simple save - sometimes it is so obvious it is embarrassing! OK, here is how I dry mushrooms - leave them in their paper bag in the veg crisper, find them three weeks later, shrug, pop them into the paper bag of other 'dried' mushrooms in the pantry, resolve not to buy any more mushrooms, rehydrate mushrooms in glass of water, then slice and throw into the slow cooker casserole where hopefully the children won't realise they are eating mushrooms..

missmaudy said...

OOh, Easi-yo. We did that for a few years - pretty much until I started working full time, and everything went by the wayside. I wholeheartedly second the greek yoghurt being fabulous, and the strawberry one (I am pretty sure... it's been a while since I made it) was nice as well (like the fancypants pot set Jalna one). Some of the other flavours weren't very nice.

(The only remotely thrifty thing I've done this week is um. Not buy a bra! One or two of mine went awol, and I was having to wash in the middle of the week - not optimal as I tend to forget the machine and have wet and soggy supportive undergarments instead of nice, clean and dry ones. Anyway, two went missing about three weeks ago. I am the only girl at mine, so unless we'd had snowdroppers...I had no idea what was going on. But I kept an eye out for my favourite being on sale, and kept my fingers crossed for them to show up. One did, but I still needed the other one. And it FINALLY reappeared on the weekend, saving me at least $30! Probably more, because my favourite tends to come as a two pack.

Oh, and we had the school carnival last week - It's basically hand over all your cash for plastic tat that you can donate to the carnival for next year. I gave the kids $20 each and bought them dinner, got my wine raffle ($20 for a bottle of wine and $50 of vouchers. Win!) and that was about it. Less than $100 for a change. It's the school's major fundraiser for the year, and has paid for all the landscaping and replacing the play equipment since the BER rebuild a couple of years ago - so, while on the one hand I don't mind because it's going to a good cause... I SO MIND!

Jo said...

Ok, so another vote for easiyo.

Congratulations on finding your wayward underwear. I have to say that finding things that were lost makes me so very happy. It's like one in the eye for the sneaky universe (because I KNOW it is the universe that steals these things. Then it sniggers..)

Oh, the evilness of the school fair. At least, as you say, there is a payoff, treforehe (I just had to leave that word there. What on earth did I mean to write, I wonder?).

If only they didn't have bags of neon coloured fairy floss it would be slightly more bearable..

Jo said...

PS Here is a thought - what if we all volunteered to pay $100 to NOT have to go to the school fair? Or, even better, the school could raise thousands by asking for donations to NOT be obliged to attend the school play or the school band concert??

missmaudy said...

I WOULD SO PAY TO NOT GO TO THE FAMILY DANCE (I have one more of those to get through) OR THE SCHOOL CONCERT (two more of those). The dance is more horrendous than the concert by about a million per cent. Every time, I hope they've come up with an alternative and simultaneously thank my lucky stars that it's only every second year.

Jo said...

We are so downtrodden and oppressed:) Perhaps we could form a union? The Union of Beleaguered School Parents? We could insist on minimum conditions, like a limit on school events involving beginner violin students, and time limits for speeches at Graduation Ceremonies?

Anonymous said...

Dear Jo, have you posted your tomato passata recipe and I have missed it? I'm hanging out for a tried-and -true recipe to use up all my lovely tomatoes, and relying on you:-)

Had our little town's monthly produce swap on the weekend - which I help run- and came home with all sorts of bounty: passionfruit, potatoes, apples, kale, spinach, plumcots. I took rhubarb, garlic chives, carrots and thyme, so not a bad nett result!

Immediately made kale chips which the kids hoovered down. Nothing like a good slug of olive oil and salt to make a vege palatable! Though it totally stinks up the house.
Loretta

e / dig in hobart said...

This is a crazy time of the year, isn't it? All this processing and preserving. Good on you for still having the energy for it, and wanting to do even more next year! Me, i am worn out and looking for the break that is winter. But it's agood feeling as you say to be fully prepared for the months ahead.

Minerva said...

Greengages! I haven't lived in Tasmania since 1987 so you are tripping me down Memory Lane. Thank you!
Re dog food: A friend of mine fed her dogs on a boiled up mixture of McKenzies soup mix, rice and mince. Very green, very thrifty and she had the healthiest, shiniest-coated dogs ever.

Jo said...

Loretta honey, no you haven't missed it - I've been trying ALL the different recipes. I have decided that the simplest is the best. Will post properly later, but just for you - Chop tomatoes roughly, boil up in a big pot for an hour or so, uncovered, with a bit of salt. Whiz up with a sick blender, skin, pips and all (or pop it through a mouli or kitchen aid attachment to get rid of them - my thoughts - why waste good food?).
Pop a large basil leaf and a quarter teaspoon citric acid in the bottom of your jar, fill with hot tomato mixture, lids on, pop in vacola or large stock pot full of cold water which covers top of jars, set timer for an hour (water shouldn't actually boil, merely simmer, but mine always does because I forget to check). Turn off, forget to take jars out, take them out next day, check seals. Done:)

e, not saying I won't be pleased to have a little break over winter:)

Minerva, lovely to meet you, love your name, you must be wonderfully wise:) Yes, greengages, don't you love Tasmania!! Thanks for that recipe - mince, rice and veg seem to be a recurring theme in all the recipes I am looking at, thanks for that:)

Jo said...

Not a sick blender - a stick blender of course:)

Mimi Mama said...

Lovely post, from the pears to the parsimonious book buying. Luff it all, as a blogging friend of mine says. My thriftiness pales in comparison Jo, so I wont bore thee. Suffice to say that a $13 bottle of white truffle oil has eliminated the need for chicken in the chicken risotto for months to come. You must try it! Mimi xxx

Jo said...

White truffle oil! I have never tried this! What if I spend $13 and decide I don't like the flavour of truffle? I mean, I might be a complete gastronomic barbarian! I feel this is highly likely.
Anyway, I totally don't believe that I could be more thrifty than you because you are the thrifty queen and can cook like a goddess..

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Jo! Unfortunately I don't have preserving jars, so will have to cook and freeze the sauce this year, but NEXT summer I will be prepared if I have to scour every op shop in SW Victoria for Fowler's jars!!
Am also reading Walden: "I love a broad margin to my life" is a quote I try to live by.
Loretta

Jo said...

Loretta, I am just using the ordinary passata jars that the passata came in when I bought it at the supermarket. They all have pop-up lids which pop down when I water-bath can them:)

That is a great quote. I am still smitten by 'cultivate poverty like a garden herb'. I am still pondering the implications of that one..

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