Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Plum Jam

Yesterday I blogged about the plum sauce I made and so today here is the jam recipe that I bought the plums for in the first place.  It is a basic plum jam recipe with step by step instructions and photos if you are new to jam making.

Homemade Plum Jam



Plum Jam


Ingredients
2 kilos of plums, pitted and cut into 1/4's
1 cup water
1 lemon (or 2 tbsp juice)
1.5 kilos sugar
1 sachet of Jamsetta (optional)

Method
Place plums and water in large heavy-based saucepan over a high heat.  Wash lemon well, squeeze and add both the juice and the left over lemon halves to the pan.  This helps extract more pectin to help the jam set.  



Once the plums have broken up into a pulp (about 15 mins) heat the sugar in a microwave for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it and add to the plum mix.
Set temperature to keep jam at a rolling boil and stir often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom and burning.  Jam recipes usually say that this process only takes about 20 minutes but from experience I would say closer to an hour or more to get your jam to setting point.

Add squeezed lemons for extra pectin
Test to see whether the jam has reached setting point.  This can be done in a few different ways but the method I prefer is to place a plate in the freezer until chilled.  Spoon some jam onto the cold plate and leave for a minute or two.  If the jam creates a skin when pushed with your finger it is ready.

Testing to see if the jam is set
Pour into sterilized jars and seal while still hot to create a vacuum and prevent bacterial growth. Label and store in your pantry.   These labels I found as free printables online and a quick google search will bring up plenty to choose from.  Most say to print out onto sticker paper or ready made labels but I just print onto regular copy paper and paste onto the jar with a glue stick.

Printable labels
Tips
If you have some marbles you can add them to the jam and as they boil around they help to keep the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Use Jamsetta, found in most supermarkets, if you don't have much time or want a lighter coloured jam.
Follow the directions on the packet. Adding Jamsetta increases the cost of your jam slightly as it is an ingredient you don't need but is handy to have if you don't want to be cooking jam for hours.  In Woolworths the cost of Jamsetta is $1.75 per packet.

I have figured the cost per 500g of my homemade plum jam is about $1.30 (using the jamsetta) whereas to buy it from the supermarket ranges in price from about 1.50 for a cheap (goodness knows what's in it) jar to $3.50 for Cottees brand and $4.50 for a small jar of gourmet brand.  I am way ahead by making my own and I know exactly what is in it.

Chez

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Plum Sauce

My daughter recently found plums at her local fruit shop for a ridiculously low price of 99c per kilo and she rang and asked me if I would like some.   Umm yes please!

Homemade Plum Sauce

When you can buy in-season fruit cheap it is the ideal time to stock your pantry with all sorts of homemade goodies.  I asked her to pick me up 4 kilos worth to make some plum jam but while making the jam I decided to try some plum sauce as well.  Here is my recipe below because as usual I have researched a number of different ones and combined ingredients until the sauce is to my liking.



This sauce can be used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, or chicken, duck or pork strips etc, or it can be used as a marinade on pork ribs or chicken pieces.

Plum Sauce


Ingredients
1.5 kilos of plums, pitted and halved
1 onion diced
2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic salt)
Salt to taste (less if garlic salt was used)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup malt vinegar (or cider or brown vinegar)

Press through a sieve 
Method
Place all ingredients in a large heavy saucepan.  Bring to the boil and reduce to a medium heat. Once plums are pulpy turn the heat off and cool slightly before placing in a blender.  Blend until smooth and then push through a sieve or food mill so that your sauce is smooth.
Return to the heat and simmer for another 10 minutes adjusting seasonings to your liking.  Cool slightly and bottle in sterilized bottles and jars.

Return to heat and adjust seasonings to taste

Process jars in a water bath for 30 minutes if you are storing in the pantry.  If you don't want to process them store in the fridge.

I think pork spareribs in plum sauce are in our very near future.

Chez

Monday, 27 February 2012

15 Minutes

You can do anything for 15 minutes.

You know all those jobs around the house and yard that you just keep putting off over and over again because you either hate doing them, it's too hot (or cold) or they are just too big to think of tackling?  Well taken in bite size pieces of 15 minutes they all of a sudden become much more manageable.

I hate ironing and usually there is an overflowing basket of ironing around the house somewhere, but if you do just 15 minutes of ironing once a day or even a couple of times a day it will eventually disappear.  The same with cleaning walls, folding laundry, cleaning out the garage, dusting, mowing the lawn, weeding, washing the windows, cleaning down cobwebs, filing the paperwork pile, cleaning out the spare room or that cupboard you are too afraid to open for fear you will be buried alive.  Any job that you really don't like you can accomplish by breaking it down into smaller pieces.

Simple kitchen timer
Set a timer for 15 minutes.  If you don't have a timer like the one in the photo, maybe you have an oven timer you can set or an alarm on your watch, phone, alarm clock.  All you need is something that you can set for 15 minutes and it will sound an alarm of some sort to let you know time's up and it's over. Knowing that the alarm is going to go off and you will be able to stop helps you to keep going no matter how much you dislike what you are doing.

I have used this technique many times over the years since I first saw it on the Flylady website and it works for me.  Maybe it will work for you too.

Freshly mowed lawn
I have had two of my teenage/adult children move out of home to go to university in the last few weeks and that has left me with a greater load of work to do around here and so I have recently employed this 15 minute trick to get me through some of the bigger jobs like mowing the lawn.

At the end of the 15 minutes I reward myself with something I like to do like sitting down with a coffee and some computer time or relaxing outside with a cold drink, or sitting quietly and doing some knitting or craft.

Try it, you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish.  I'm going to use this over the next few days to get all the lawn edges done.

Chez

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Weekly Wrap Up

This weeks overview of successes and........well, lets call them......learning opportunities :)

Monday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/growing-sprouts.html

Growing sprouts was almost instant gratification.  You can see them growing day by day and in less than a week you are eating your own home grown produce.  Much quicker than waiting for months for veggies in the garden and therefore a great activity to do with the kids.
Cost a few cents for the seeds.  Savings approx $3 every punnet.

Tuesday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/teacup-candles-from-recycled-materials.html

The wax has sunk in the middle as it cooled.
I was really happy with these candles.  I can display my antique teacups anywhere in the house now and they look really nice.  I found that the candles sink in the middle a bit now that they have cooled so I did a little research on why.  Apparently wax will do that when it cools and usually you have to keep a little aside and do a repour on top once the first pour has hardened.  You can also buy 'one pour' wax now that doesn't sink in the middle but obviously that won't work if you are using the cheap candles from the discount stores or ones you already have like I did.

2 Teacup candles cost $2 for 1 x medium size church candle from discount store.  (I already had the teacups)

Wednesday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/lawn-grubs.html

It only takes me about 10 minutes to go around the outside of my house with a broom and get these moth eggs down, which I did right after I wrote this post but today I noticed that there are more back again.  It is a weekly process and to get good control of these lawn grubs I'm going to keep at it as I don't want to use chemicals to treat them.  Lawn grub granules and sprays contain Bifenthren which the EPA has stated is a class C carcinogen and it has been banned in the European union since 2009.  Read more here.
Savings = Broom free, lawn grub killer $15

Thursday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/apple-pancakes-paleo.html

Apple Pancakes
These tasted lovely but were very fiddle to try to flip over and maintain a pancake like appearance.  In saying that I would make them again if I wanted some Paleo friendly pancakes.

Friday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/yes-i-knit-socks.html

Knitting socks will never be more economical than buying yourself a pair so there are no savings to be had here unless the yarn was donated or a gift, but knitting is quite time consuming as a hobby and therefore the few weeks it takes me to knit one pair of socks is relatively cheap.  I also do crafts like scrapbooking and quilting and in comparison to those knitting is quite economical especially if you use thinner yarns as they take longer to knit into a project.

Saturday


http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/weetbix-slice.html

Weetbix slice with lemon icing.
I have to call this a success when it is eaten within 2 days and there are only 3 people in the house at the moment. It's also a pretty good sign when the kids walk by when you are cooking it and say "oh yum, weetbix slice".
Cost of this slice to make would be approximately $1.50 and makes 16 good size slices.  

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Weetbix Slice

This is a favourite slice in our house.  Quick, easy and inexpensive to make and it is great in lunchboxes if it lasts long enough to make it to the next day.  This is the lemon version but you can ice it with any flavour icing you fancy.  Chocolate, orange or plain would be equally as nice.  You can also add cocoa to the weetbix mix to make it into a Chocolate Weetbix slice, it's very versatile.



Weetbix Slice

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups Self Raising Flour
3 Weetbix
1 cup desiccated coconut 
3/4 cup brown sugar
125gm butter

1 cup icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 - 2 tbsp hot water
extra coconut for decoration



Method
Crush weetbix and place in a large mixing bowl with all the other dry ingredients.
Melt butter in microwave or on the stovetop and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix well and press into a square cake or slice pan.  Bake at 180C for 20 t0 25 minutes or until top is a light golden brown colour.





Icing
Place icing sugar into a bowl and add the juice of one lemon.  Mix until smooth and a thick but runny consistency.  Add some hot water if needed.
When the slice is cold, spread with the icing sugar and sprinkle with a little extra coconut.




Cut into slices and enjoy.

Chez

Friday, 24 February 2012

Yes I knit socks!

I know most people will be wondering why on earth do I bother to knit socks when I can just go buy them for a few dollars but there is something very satisfying about knitting a pair of socks.

I have gifted my hand knitted socks to a few people and they always want more because they fit so well and are really comfortable.  I enjoy knitting them and I get a sense of amazement each time I 'turn a heel' as it is quite magical to watch it emerge row by row.  It's really very clever and looks far more difficult than it actually is.


Warm snuggly feet


These are 'Nine to Five Socks' by Nicole Hindes and it is a free pattern that I found on Ravelry.   If you are not a member on Ravelry the pattern can also be found at 'Allbuttonedup' a blog about knitting.


Mock cables
The pattern is a Mock Cable pattern, meaning it looks like I have tediously knit row after row of cables but really it is just a snazzy little knit 2 together stitch.  I love cables but I'm not a fan of knitting them.

Interesting patterning down the heel
Despite it being Summer here, I have still managed to get a little knitting in at night.  Socks are a good project because they do not lay all across your lap making you hotter than you already are.

Now to go and find my next project and cast on.

Chez


Thursday, 23 February 2012

Apple Pancakes - Paleo

I have wanted to try these Apple Pancakes made for a Paleo diet for awhile now so I tried them out for dinner one night when there was only myself to cook for.

They worked okay, tasted great but were a bit awkward to turn over and maintain their pancake shape.

Whisk eggs, vanilla essence, water and honey
As usual I just used what I had in the fridge and so these 2 lovely little Jonathon Apples where used up in this recipe.

Peel and chop apples
 Grain Free Apple Pancakes - Makes 8 


Ingredients
3 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup peeled and diced apple
Melted butter or oil for pan

Method
Preheat the pan over low heat
Whisk the eggs, honey, vanilla and water together in a large bowl.
Mix in the almond flour, salt, and bicarb soda
Fold in the peeled, diced apples
Using a large spoon or 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop batter into the pan.
Cook until the edges are dry and the tops have a few bubbles.  The heat needs to be really low.
Using a thin metal spatula, flip the pancakes and cook 1 or 2 more minutes, being careful not to burn

Serve warm with maple syrup and butter or cream or ice cream.


One at a time is best for flipping these babies

I had to let them cook very slowly, flip them really quickly and then kind of pat them back into a pancake shape with the spatula.  Once cooked on both sides I quickly cooked them on the first side again just to get any raw bits that showed up in the quick flipping.

I cooked them one at a time so there was more room for flipping successfully.

Cook very slowly or they will overcook on the outside before cooking on the inside

I wouldn't say they were a disaster but not necessarily the prettiest pancakes to look at on the plate. However they are Paleo and they were yummy.  I served them with Maple syrup and some butter but it would have been cream or ice-cream if I had some.

I think I would make them again.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Lawn Grubs

We get lawn grub in our area and they really make a mess of the lawn, leaving large brown patches as they go along munching the roots of the grass and therefore killing it off.  They seem to be in plentiful supply at the moment as they love the warmer months.

Army Worm (photo borrowed from www.coastalturf.com.au)
They were named 'Army Worms' because of the way they start at one point in your lawn and eat progressively across it like an army marching in battle.


Army Worm damage to my lawn

Knowing the life cycle of these little pests can give you insight into how to control them naturally.  First  the adult moth lives for 4 (or so) days and during that time it lays little clumps of eggs which hatch after just 2 - 5 days.  At this stage you can eliminate most of the problem by getting rid of the eggs.  They lay them around the outside of your home in places protected by the weather.

Moth eggs from Army Worms found under our house eaves

Some of the more common places to look are, up under the eaves and window ledges, along clothes lines, along the underneath of gutters and downpipes.  A quick brush with the broom or high pressure hose down will get rid of these but you need to keep this up every week throughout the warmer months to be really effective.

Pupae of Army Worm

After the eggs hatch you get the Army worm stage where they devastate your lawn resulting in ugly brown patches.  If you have chickens this is probably a good time to let them roam on the lawn and do some pest control for you.  The worm will live for about 3 weeks and after this they enter the pupae stage.  To eliminate them in this stage you would need to pick them out of the soil when gardening and dispose of them.  It is pretty obvious that to control these pests naturally the best time to get them is at the egg stage where they are fairly easily seen.


Adult Army Worm - Moth (Photo borrowed from www.brisbaneinsects.com)
You may also see wasps hovering over your lawn during this time.  They are a natural predator to the Army worm as they lay their eggs in them.  Lady beetles are another natural predator so encouraging these insects to your garden will also help control them.

Time for me to get back out there with the broom.

Chez

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Teacup Candles - from recycled materials

I saw this idea on Pinterest a few months ago and have been dying to try it ever since.  I think these are just gorgeous and they would make a lovely gift.


Teacup Candles

I didn't want to have to go out to buy supplies or spend any money on making these so having a little hunt around the house I tried using what I already had.  The result worked beautifully.


Gather your supplies
I already had these candles in the house but they can be easily bought for a couple of dollars from the discount shops.

Melt the recycled candle
First melt the existing candle over a low to medium heat on the stovetop.  You could use a glass bowl in the microwave too I'm sure.  Wax gets very hot so it needs to be a container that can stand some heat.

Stick the wick onto the chopstick with a little wax
I even recycled the wick from the store bought candles but because they are quite short, there is not enough length to tie them around the chopstick, so I 'glued' them on with a little of the melted wax.  I just dabbed some onto the chopstick and then held the wick there until it cooled and stuck.  There was enough wick in one store bought candle to cut in half for both teacup candles.

Suspend the chopstick and wick over the teacup

Place the chopstick over the top of the cup so the wick is suspended in the centre.  If your chopstick rolls a bit and just won't stay in place you can anchor it to the top of the cup with a little more cooled wax.  One of mine played nice and one needed to be held in place with the wax.

Add essential or perfumed oils to coolish wax

After you melt the store bought candle on the stovetop leave it to cool.  You want it to still be a pourable liquid though.  Mine took quite awhile to cool down but it is a very warm day here today.  Once the melted wax has cooled you can add your essential oils.  I used about a teaspoon of a Rose and Sandalwood blend.

Pour or ladle warm wax into teacups and centre the wick
Pour or ladle the melted and perfumed wax into your teacups, being very careful not to disturb the suspended wick, and leave them until completely cold.

Finished teacup candle
Once the wax is firm you can carefully remove the chopstick from the wick and trim the wick up to approximately half a centimeter above your new candle.

I got two teacup candles from one recycled candle
One of the store bought candles in the top photo made these two teacup candles with both wax and wick.  I added a slight pink tinge to my wax when it was melted on the stovetop.  I used a soap colourant but the hot wax didn't like it to much and it crackled and spat in protest a little bit.  However the end result was a lovely soft pink hue.

You can also buy wax beads, wick and wax dyes from craft stores.  In Australia I have seen them in Spotlight.  Pretty teacups can be picked up in Antique or Op Shops.

Chez

Monday, 20 February 2012

Growing Sprouts

Live foods are always considered to have more health benefits.  Foods with live cultures like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and homemade ginger beer not only taste good but are good for you to eat as well.

Growing your own sprouts is another way to consume live foods.  The seeds have germinated and are actively growing when we eat them.

There are a lot of different seeds and different flavours that you can sprout and they are really easy, quick and very economical to grow and you can do it right on the bench in your kitchen.  You can pick up seeds for sprouting from your local health food store.

Ham Tomato Feta and Alfalfa sprouts sandwich

I am growing Alfalfa seeds in these photos as they are great in salads and salad sandwiches and wraps for lunches.  Other types of sprouting seeds you can try are fenugreek which has a slightly curry flavour, mung bean which are good in a stirfry, lentils, black eyed peas and other peas and many more.

All you need is a wide mouthed jar, some mesh like cheesecloth, muslin or clean stocking, water and your seeds.

Soaking in warm water for 6 - 8 hours

First you need to initiate germination by soaking the seeds in warm water for 6 to 8 hours.  I usually start them after dinner and leave them overnight.  I have about a teaspoon of seeds in this jar but it would fit at least twice that much.

In the morning you will notice the water is a little tarnished in colour, just tip that off, rinse the seeds and pour the water out through the cloth so you don't lose the seeds.  They should be moist but not sitting in puddles of water.

After initial soaking rinse and drain well - or suspend jar upside down
Each day rinse and drain the seeds a couple of times and after 5 or 6 days you should have lovely fresh Alfalfa ready to eat.

If you want a constant supply start another jar about 3 days after the first one and you will have a fresh batch every 3 or 4 days.

Sprouts after day 3 - Can be eaten now if you are impatient but they will grow a lot more
Different seeds take varying times and conditions to grow but usually a sprout is considered ready to eat when it produces its first two leaves at the top of the little stems.  It is a good idea to taste your sprouts after each rinse to see if the flavour is good for eating.  Some sprouts will turn bitter if left too long.  All sprouts need to be rinsed (watered) every 12 hours for optimum growing.

Sprouts after day 5 - Ready to eat
Here are some general guidelines for various seeds:

Alfalfa:
Soak for about 6 - 8 hours.  Ready to eat in 5 to 6 days.  1 tbspn will give you 1 - 11/2 cups of sprouts.

Mung beans:
Need to be grown in a dark area or definitely out of direct sunlight, or they will become bitter.  You could wrap your jar in a tea towel to create a mung bean friendly environment.  Soak for 8 - 12 hours first.  They can be eaten after just 2 or 3 days when the little roots emerge or leave them for 4 or 5 days for bigger sprouts to add to stirfry's and salads.  1 tablespoon of seed should give you about 1 - 1 1/2 cups of sprouts

Lentils:
Soak for 8 - 12 hours and rinse rinse rinse to get rid of all the starchy water or they won't sprout.
Growing time is approximately 3 or 4 days.  1 tbspn = 1 - 11/2 cups

Fenugreek:
Soak for 6 - 8 hours and rinse.  They are ready to eat after about 4 days.  1 tbspn = 11/2 cups



Sunday, 19 February 2012

Weekly Wrap Up

Read on for this weeks wrap up.

Monday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/so-disheartening.html

This was not a good day, the day I woke up to find my over half grown sweet corn scattered around the backyard by our labrador puppy.  I am still to gather materials to build a fence but might have to look at that this weekend. Financial loss - $2.99 for the punnet of seedlings.

Tuesday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/children-and-healthy-eating-habits.html

Encouraging your children to adopt healthy eating habits.  I believe I save money by preparing my own snacks and also by having the fruit washed and cut up ready to be eaten.  This way it actually does get eaten instead of becoming some wrinkled, unrecognizable science experiment in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Wednesday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/tortilla-chips-and-hommus.html

Definitely a winner here.  The homemade hommus is quick easy and economical and because it is full of protein it is a very filling snack too.  The Tortilla chips were made from something that would normal have been thrown away because they were a bit stale.

Thursday

http://monarch--place.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/handy-hints-for-your-kitchen.html

A list of handy kitchen hints and tips that I regularly use in my own home.

Garlic cloves with skin on
Here is another one to add that I saw on TV last night.  Fast Ed, a chef on Better Homes & Gardens, showed how to peel garlic by putting the cloves in a large bowl, covering it with another large bowl the same size and shaking like crazy.  I tried it in a jar and it works just as well.


After vigorous shaking activity.

You take the whole bulb of garlic and smash it with a knife to separate the cloves.  Put the cloves in a jar, put the lid on tightly and shake shake shake.  The skins fall right off.  How easy is that!



Friday


What can I say, I loved paper dolls when I was a kid and my girls loved them too.  This site has them for free so lots of fun for the kiddies and sanity and savings for the parents to be had here.  I also noticed one of the link had paper doll birthday cards to print out.  


I printed these Heritage Paper Dolls out for myself to have a little play with and show you.

Saturday







Well this has got to be a positive for the week.   I received a Liebster Blog Award which is an award for new bloggers nominated by one of their followers who have enjoyed reading their blog regularly.

Hope your weekend was productive and restful

Chez

Saturday, 18 February 2012

My First Award!

I received an Award!  It is an appreciation award for my blog.  How exciting, it's my very first award.



Thanks Sammyleia for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award.  Sammyleia has a terrific blog I follow over here at http://www.sammyleiamoneysaver.com/ and I have picked up lots of tips on how to stay strong and save by following her journey.

Here are the Liebster rules:


  • Say thanks to the amazing blogger who awarded your liebster and link back to their blog.  (I'm happy to recommend Sammyleia to you all :)
  • Choose 5 other fantastic blogs for a liebster award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.  They must have under 200 followers to be eligible.

I would like to nominate 5 beautiful blogs that I read on a regular basis and they are....

Jen over at http://www.sewsocrazy.blogspot.com.au/ is a friend and a wonderful crazy patchwork and embroidery teacher who does the most amazing work.

Michelle at http://mk-handmade.blogspot.com.au/ is a great cook and has wonderful homemade goodies that you wish you could reach into your computer monitor and steal when she's not looking

Sharon at http://midlifemommusings.blogspot.com.au/.  Now technically I'm not supposed to nominate her blog because she has more than 200 followers but only just..... and she inspires me so I've nominated her anyway.

Jolie over at http://shakingthemoneytree.blogspot.com.au/p/my-2010-goals.html for her inspiring goals on budgeting.

FaeryFay here at http://www.faeryfaysflowersknits.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/slow-living-month-by-month.html  We have a fair bit in common in trying to live a slower lifestyle and the love of knitting, and she is a fellow Ravelry member.









Friday, 17 February 2012

Free Craft

Here is a fun site a friend showed me that has free printable vintage paper dolls and clothes.  My friend referred me to it because she thought it was a good idea to print out and put in shoe boxes for Christmas Gifts for 'Samaritans Purse'.  If you have never heard of them before they are a charity organization that collect gifts from generous donors and distributes them overseas to children who have never had a gift at Christmas before.  The program is called 'Operation Christmas Child'.



The idea is that you fill an empty shoe box with gifts like, a piece of clothing, a toy to play with, a toiletry item, a toy to love like a bear or doll and something for school.  You also donate $7 to the cost of transporting the box overseas and can even track where your gift ends up.  It is a wonderful thing to do with the whole family and teaches your children about others who might not be as fortunate as they are.  There are many inexpensive items that can go in to fill a box and make another childs life a bit brighter.

You can become involved by reading more here on their website http://operationchristmaschild.org.au/

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Handy Hints for your Kitchen

I thought I would write some handy hints that I have found for around the Kitchen.  Little knacky things that are just clever or ......well.......handy!

Open stubbon Pistachio nuts - Many of them arrive in shells barely opened. Rather than attempting to bite them open or ruin your nails , next time try this.  Take one half of a shell, stick it into even the littlest opening of an unopened pistachio, and turn the shell half like a key. The pistachio will pop right open!
I got about 3/4 cup of juice from this one orange


Citrus Juice - To get more juice from a lemon, lime or orange just heat it in the microwave for 10 - 20 seconds.
To get egg shell out of eggs cracked into a bowl - Use another piece of egg shell to scoop it out.


Baking and don't have enough eggs? - You can substitute a tablespoon of vinegar for one egg in a cake recipe if the recipe has 2 or more eggs.


Hard boiled eggs - Rinse in cold water as soon as they are cooked so stop the grey ring around the yolk they get if they cool slowly.


Peeling hard boiled eggs - Tap lightly in two or three places around the egg to break the shell then roll with the palm of your hand on a cutting board or the benchtop applying gentle pressure.  The shell will nearly fall off unless they are particularly fresh eggs straight from the pen.




Invest in kitchen scissors - I keep my kitchen scissors handy and use them for so many things. Cutting open packages, cutting hard stems from vegetables, cutting chicken into pieces, cutting beans into bite size pieces, cutting baking paper to fit trays and cake pans.  The list goes on and on.



Boil water quickly - To bring a pot of water to the boil quickly add salt to water after it is boiling and then add your veggies or rice, pasta etc.


Don't throw out fresh garlic - If you never get around to using all the fresh garlic before it gets old and needs to be thrown out you can peel the cloves and store in a small jar covered with vegetable or olive oil and keep in the fridge.  Use cloves as needed.




Peel garlic easily - Smash it with the side of a large knife.  The skin will easily rub off.


Removing cakes - Always line your cake tin with baking paper.  When you tip the cake or slice out it will come out easily and you can peel the baking paper off while it is warm.  It should come off easily leaving you with a perfect cake or slice.


Remove labels from jars - Soak in warm water or run through the dish washer with a regular load.  If the label is stubborn and still won't come off easily use a cloth dipped in Eucalyptus Oil.  It will dissolve the glue.




Seal an open bag - in the pantry or freezer with a clothes peg or an elastic band


Honey - Spray the measuring cup or spoon with oil before measuring out honey or other syrups.  It will run right off.


Pumpkin Seeds - Don't throw away your pumpkin seeds when you are cooking with pumpkin.  Wash them well, spread on a greased tray and sprinkle with salt.  Bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes.  They are a yummy snack.


Disinfect dishcloths - Microwave for 2 minutes.


There is about a tablespoon of chopped parsley in each of these cubes.
Leftover fresh herbs - Freeze leftover chopped herbs in icecube trays and throw in your casseroles as needed later.


Fridge Odours - Wipe your fridge out with water to which a little vanilla essence has been added to eliminate food odours.


White board in the Kitchen? - You can use your fridge door as a whiteboard for messages.  Just remember to check on a small unseen area first.  I had one fridge that this didn't work too well on, or maybe it was the whiteboard marker but it left a slight greyish mark. 



This is a list just off the top of my head but I would love to hear other tips you do in your kitchen.


Chez
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