Homemade Paste Cleaner

Back in 1995 we discovered that the Uni Student, at the time a gorgeous little bundle of gurgling joy, was allergic to stuff. Things like washing powder, scented soap, perfume and other household cleaners caused pretty violent skin reactions. So we went on the hunt for alternatives.

In our search we found lots of “eco”, “natural” and “green’ products. Most of them overpriced and many containing just as many irritating ingredients as .their chemical counterparts. Big lesson here was that just because something is “natural” doesn’t automatically qualify it as “safe” or “good”.

Then my mother found a book and posted it to me for my birthday (we were living in Adelaide at the time and she was on the farm at Burraja in rural New South Wales). It was called It’s so Natural by a fellow called Alan Hayes. It’s still available I think. Give it a search through DR Google and see if you can find it. And that was how I started making most of our household cleaners and many of our personal care  products.

I did hang onto a few of my favourite commercially made products though and one of them is Gumption.


For those of you who’ve never come across it before, Gumption is a white paste sold in a tub that you rub onto dirty surfaces with a cloth. Its great for enamel stove tops, baths and basins, stainless steel pots and pans, dirty bathroom tiles and so many other things. It’s pretty low irritant too and all the safety and environmental information I can find on it says it’s completely safe to use.

So I kept using it, until recently that is. I went to our little local supermarket the other day to find that the price has jumped significantly. On “special” it was almost $6 AU a tub. Granted I hadn’t brought any for a while, I tend to stock up on these sorts of things when I find them at bargain prices and only replace them once they’ve run out, but that seems a little steep for a simple tub of goo.

Surely it could be made at home. While there are no ingredients at all listed on the tub, the information I can find on the interwebs informs us that it’s a mild abrasive with a surficant (soap) and a little peroxide or bleach (I think). I asked over on the Kitchenscraps Face-lurk page and a few of our followers provided links to either similar commercial products and a couple of recipes used by other bloggers. Armed with this info I did a quick rummage through the pantry and laundry cupboards, set to work experimenting with a few different mixes and finally came up with this one. It works a treat.

Homemade Cleaning Paste

1 cup bicarb soda (baking soda)

1/2 cup washing soda (the powdery kind, not the big crystals)

1/3 cup hot water

2 Tablespoons grated soap

1/4 Teaspoon essential oil

1 Tablespoon fine grained salt.(optional – great for tiles but probably not so great on delicate surfaces).

In a bowl mix together all the dry ingredients except the soap. In a separate bowl or jug dissolve the soap in the hot water. Mix the soapy water into the dry ingredients, adding the essential oil. Put into a  wide mouth jar or container (I used an old plastic honey tub) and when needed scoop a small amount out with a rag and gently rub onto surface in a circular motion. Wipe off with a damp cloth.

Note: It should be a thick smooth paste. If it’s dry and crumbly, add more water. If it’s really runny, add more bicarb soda, a little at a time. A 1/4 teaspoon of essential oil is about 20 drops, I used 10 drops each of tea tree and eucalyptus. You can use any oil you like or you could easily leave this out and it would probably work just as well, it just wouldn’t smell as nice.

I tested it out on our grubby stove top and one of my old cast iron enameled pots that had burnt custard stuck on the bottom. 


This cost next to nix to make, does a great job and gets bonus points because it eliminates one more piece of disposable plastic packaging from our household.
 

Scraps to Snacks

That little bit of mash.

The green end of your spring onion.

The funny little end bit of the tomato that isn’t quite pretty enough for the salad.

The piece of ham that’s not quite big enough for a sandwich.

Or the stalkss off your spinach…

You could pop them in the scrap bucket for the Immortal Chicken.  You could save them in the freezer for scrap stock. You could just throw them in the compost… 

But did you ever think about turning them into Lunchbox friendly snacks?

Mini Potato Muffins

Makes 12 mini muffins. 

1/2 cup leftover potato (either already mashed or Mash it up with half a teaspoon of butter)
1 egg

2 tablespoons Self Raising Flour

A couple of tablespoons of anything else you like. The ones in the picture have 1/2 rasher of cooked bacon and the green end bits of a spring onion. Cheese is a nice edition or for adults a little Chilli.

Mix it all up really well. Spoon into a greased or lined mini muffin tin and bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes or until firm and slightly golden.
Cheesy Stuff Muffins

Mr Scraps loves these. I like them as a quick breakfast on the bus on the way to work. 

They’re really just a bacon and egg muffin with a scrappy twist. They’re also a great way to sneak some extra veg into the kids lunchbox. 
1 egg, 1 tablespoon grated cheese and 1 tablespoon self raising flour for every 2 muffin tin holes 

(ie to make 12 muffins you will need 6 eggs, 6 tablespoons flour and 6 tablespoons grated cheese).

Finely chopped leftover bits- the one pictured has spinach stalks, the end of a tom, the meat from a lone baked chicken wing, some green onion and a small piece of pumpkin.

Salt and pepper or herbs to taste.

Mix it all up really well, season to taste and spoon into a greased or lined muffin tin.

Bake at 180 C for about 20 minutes or until golden on top.

You can make these just with ham or bacon for egg and bacon muffins.

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Web Errors, War Rations and BOB Cabbage Pasta

It’s been an interesting week so far and it’s only Wednesday!

Those of you who visit here regularly and follow along on face-lurk may have noticed that there are several post missing from the site.

It seems we may have been hacked (either that …or an update went wrong …or  I pushed the wrong button somewhere along the line…which is entirely possible) and Kitchen Scraps went down. I thought for a moment (well, a whole day) that I’d lost her forever. But a clever IT person showed me how to restore a website from old data, and we’re back online… minus a few recent posts. I’ll try and get those rewritten from my notes and re-posted.

It’s taught me a valuable lesson – BACK UP & PROTECT YOUR DATA!

It’s one we all know and should take heed of but in this techno-gizmo world, seem to ignore or just plain forget about. It was (only) a blog that I almost lost forever, but imagine if it was something really important or of huge sentimental value, like your entire collection of family photos, your next best selling novel or all your financials…

Sadly, one of the posts that went bye-bye birdy was the one I wrote about putting my family on War Rations. If you left a comment or saved the link, I’m sorry to say it’s gone now… but a big thank you. There were so many thoughtful and helpful suggestions, it really is a shame they’ve evaporated into the cyber-ether.

The gist of it was that a lot of my favourite (as in the ones I face-lurk and insta-stalk) food gurus and bloggers believe (like me) that we shouldn’t be wasting food. They also believe that it shouldn’t be as ridiculously difficult or expensive to feed our families healthy nutritious meals.

One of my favourite blogs is written by Carolyn Eakins who recreates authentic World War 2 meals. It’s called the 1940s Experiment (my all time favourite modern era) and uses the principals of English wartime rationing to help control her weight and keep herself healthy. She’s not the only one calling for a return to the culinary habits of our immediate ancestors either Sarah Wilson, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall are just three others that come to mind.

Leonora Green  1941. Coupons Required.
Leonora Green 1941. Coupons Required. Image from the collection of the Imperial War Museum London.

The short of it is WW2 rationing saw people eating less sugar, less meat, less fat and more veg. They had to use everything because there was only so much available.This went for everything, not just food. In short, people were healthier,were far more frugal and wasted very, very little.

It sounds almost exactly what we’re trying to do here, right?!

While we’re not at war (although I’m guessing there’s a few world leaders who’d like us to be) and there’s no shortages of food here, I’ve really been embracing the principals of rationing this past few weeks. More veg, less meat and making sure we stick to a meal plan, shop only when really needed and (except for staples like rice, flour and dried beans,peas and lentils etc) using things up completely before running out to buy more.

As a result, I’ve come up with a few new “BOB” recipes (BOB stands for – BACK OF BOAT – those quick, simple, inexpensive  yet  totally delicious meals that can be eaten with one hand or out of a high sided bowl with just a fork or spoon while sitting on deck and lazily drifting on the ocean).

BOB CABBAGE PASTA

This is my take on the old braised cabbage that your mum or grandma might have made. Cabbage was big in England in WW2 because it could be grown at home. The Ministry of Food even issued instructions to housewives on how to cook cabbage in the most economical way. It was pretty much a staple here in Australia too because its cheap, nutritious and like other veg, wasn’t rationed.

Ministry of Food How to cook cabbage WW2 instructions
During WW2 England’s Ministry of Food issued leaflets informing people of the most economical way to cook cabbage.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a recipe for boiled cabbage. In fact there’s no boiling water required. Except for some chopping of ingredients, this literally takes minutes to make. It’s economical too. This makes enough to feed 6 of us as a main meal (or 4 with leftovers). It uses very little meat and only a little oil or butter. You can add additional veg or change out the bacon or chorizo for chicken, pork or you can leave it out altogether.

1 head of cabbage. shredded to the thickness of fettuccine or spaghetti noodles.

1 Onion finely sliced.

2 rashers of bacon finely diced

1 chorizo sausage finely diced

2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter (I like to use a tablespoon of each).

A sprinkle of chilli flakes or one finely diced chilli.

Any other veg you’d like to add finely shredded with a grater (zucchini is great, so is carrot or capsicum)

Salt and pepper to taste.

A large pan (I make this in the 20 Litre stainless steel pot I use to make stock, soup and stew. It has a tight fitting lid and if there’s leftovers, it fits straight onto the bottom shelf of our fridge).

Heat the oil/butter in the pan and add the bacon, chorizo, chilli and onion.

Saute a few moments until the onion is a little soft and starts to go translucent.

Add the cabbage and stir over a low heat until well combined and cabbage has softened but still has a little crunch.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve just put a generous serving in a bowl.

 

 

 

 

I dropped the ball….

Actually, more like sat on it and it went “POP!!”.

My new job, a bit of extra training, full time study, sample knitting, blogging, cooking, cleaning, family…. and for the last month I haven’t seriously kept track of our household budget, cleaned the house properly.

I will say, Mr Scraps does his bit, he’s great at keeping the washing to a manageable level, wrangling the Threenager and driving myself and the Teens to and fro, but there’s some things his bit doesn’t cover. Mostly because of his physical limitations but also partly because (should I say it? because he’s a mere male?) it just doesn’t register for him.

Grotty shower floors, dishwasher smells because the filter hasn’t been emptied, scummy stuff on the inside of the washing machine, groceries, cooking, the electric and gas bills are my domain.

I’m afraid I have to admit that this last few weeks I haven’t managed to keep any of it totally under control.

I’ve done the basics.

The kids all have clean clothes…oops that was Mr Scraps (I just folded and put away or rather threw on the Teens bed and demanded they put it away… needless to say most of their clothes are probably safely stored in what I call their “floor-drobes”).

Everyone is fed.. yes I did this but we’ve been eating frozen leftovers and fake-aways for the past week.

The recycling is piling up in the laundry (Not the stuff that goes in the curbside recycle bin but all the other bits and pieces like soft plastics, old store cards and unwanted books or clothes that I usually drop off on my way to work, post in or organise for someone else to drop off when they’re travelling via a drop-off point).

We all have clean bed sheets, the kitchen benches and the loo are clean … but everything else is… well… meh.

And last week I brought wine IN A BOX! the kind with the baggy thing inside and the plastic poury nozzle… in my defence it was nice wine that Mr Scraps and I quite enjoyed and I am recycling the baggy thing and putting the nozzle in the curbside recycling because its hard plastic and I think? (hope? that maybe?) it is recyclable.

But I’m human and far from the super organised eco-warrior superhero I’d like to be. I have a bunch of kids, a casual job, I study full-time, have an extended family etc etc.. It’s not an excuse it’s just, well..life.

In short, this week I achieved NOTHING! ZIP! ZILCH! NAHDAH!

I’m behind on a sample knit for a yarn company I absolutely adore, I haven’t finished implementing the changes to my honours project that my supervisor suggested two weeks ago, I have a whole bunch of revisions to do on a report for work that’s taken me a way longer to write up than it probably should of and another one that should probably be at least half finished now that isn’t and the Threenager ate toast with peanut butter for dinner tonight because I didn’t feel like arguing over food …

And you know what, it’s completely okay… 

The  skinny of it is – I’m human and life happens. Life happens a lot.

In fact life gets in the way of a lot of things.

I originally started this blog thinking that I would share all my wonderful low cost, low sugar, low waste household and budget recipes and tips with you all, but instead it’s turned out to be about a whole lot more…life as a whole…warts and all… and guess what…?

It’s messy and disorganised most of the time and that’s more than okay.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you drop the ball and buy that plastic wrapped product, put your apple cores in the compost instead of saving them for homemade vinegar, let the shower scum take over the bathroom this month because you were just too  busy or exhausted to clean or forgot to take your list when you went grocery shopping… it’s okay.

Nobody’s perfect. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with all the “things”. We all have limits to how much we can physically achieve in a day and we all  (us mums especially) need to stop placing ridiculous expectations of perfection on ourselves. 

We’re all going to drop the ball sometimes.. and that’s totally okay.

Have you “dropped the ball” lately? Feel free to leave a comment and tell us all about it..
 

Sunday Scraps – I’m Famous! And No Bake Muesli Bars

Well that’s another week done and dusted. I had two days at work (which I wrote a little about here), a meeting with my thesis supervisor on Friday that went well and was treated to dinner on Thursday night (roast beef and veg with a lemony desert from a restaurant in town).  The Elder Teen has just finished his first week at shearing school on a local farm and Mr Scraps has finally started photographing some of our shed junk to list on Ebay.

My dishwasher tablet recipe was re-blogged twice this week. Once by someone who has been reading my posts here and once after I was approached by someone through Facebook after I left a comment on a post in a sustainable living group. Mr Scraps informs me that I am now officially famous and should start offering my services as an “expert” on TV talk shows You know like those people they get on to tell you how to feed your family for $10 a day on what equates to $50 worth of corporate sponsored ingredients.

I think I might just stick to archaeology a while longer before I start asking for a dressing room with my name on it.

I didn’t keep exact track of what we all ate this week as the Elder Teen was fed by the shearing school,  the Younger Teen had three days of cooking for Food Technology at school  and we ate out Thursday night. Between this and sports training running later than usual two nights this week I didn’t do a whole lot of cooking and we mainly ate the meals I had stashed in the freezer.

HINT:  for busy families the freezer can be your best friend.  Whenever there’s leftovers  divide them up into meal sized portions and stash them in the freezer. It’s great for really busy  days, when something unexpected crops up and your meal plan goes out the window, that week when you can’t (or don’t want to) get to the shops or just when you can’t be bothered cooking. Just pull out of the freezer, heat and eat. We call it Dinner Bingo! Our version of the old frozen TV dinners, but yummier and without the packaging.

We had both the Eldest and the Uni Student home for the weekend which was lovely.  To keep everyone feed I made a quick pot of Veg Soup Friday night using whatever veg was hanging around in the bottom of the fridge (this week it was carrots zucchini, onion and cabbage) and two containers of our homemade Scrap Stock from the freezer flavoured with the rinds from some Parmesan cheese I had saved. The cheese rind  was suggested by the Archaeologist I work with and she was right, it was delicious.

I also whipped up a batch of these yesterday.

They literally take ten minutes ( plus some time to set) and if there’s any leftover they’ll go into school / work lunchboxes during the week.

I make them low sugar by using rice malt syrup, really dark chocolate chips (which is really 85% cocoa chocolate chopped up small and kept in a jar in the pantry) and this time just a sprinkling of sultanas because I found some hiding forgotten in a container in the back of the cupboard but you can literally add whatever you like or even leave them plain.

I love a versatile, throw it all in the bowl and mix recipe. These are  dairy and egg free and could easily be gluten free if you made them with gluten free oats.

No Bake  Muesli Bars

2 tablespoons chia seed

6 tablespoons water

1 & 1/2 cups oats

1 cup oat flour (this is just oats ground until fine and powdery. I use my mortar and pestle but you could use a blender).

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew etc)

1/4 cup rice malt syrup ( or you could use honey or maple syrup)

1/2 cup finely shredded coconut

1 cup of add-ons  –  for this batch I used 1/2 cup of chopped cashews & almonds, and 1/2 cup chocolate chips & sultanas, but you can use anything you like.

To make mix the chia seeds with water and let sit while you pop the oats, oat flour and coconut into a bowl and mix well.

In a saucepan over a low heat warm your coconut oil, rice malt syrup and nut butter until melted and we’ll combined. Let cool for a few minutes then stir in the chia seed/water mix. Mix into your oat/coconut mix adding your cup of add-ons.

Once well combined  pop the mix into a tray lined with paper (or I use a wax wrap). Press down really firmly and pop into the fridge for an hour or so to set (or the freezer for half an hour if you have a Threenager/ Teens/Mr Scraps who don’t like waiting).

When firm, slice into bars. This made  12  about the same sized as those commercially made individually wrapped muesli bars but you can cut them any size you like.

These will last at least two weeks in a container in the fridge. They are quite soft but will hold up okay in a lunch box as long as the weather isn’t too warm ( coconut oil has a tendency to return to liquid on a hot summer day).

Hints: This is really versatile – add a splash of vanilla,  any chopped fruit you desire or even some chopped marshmallows. You could add things like fresh berries or other fruit  but just be aware this will shorten the shelflife of your bars a little and you may need to add a few more oats to soak up any excess moisture.

My Awesome Zero Waste Work Week 

As I’ve already mentioned, I started a new job at the end of last month. It’s been awesome so far. A huge learning curve because I’ve spent over a decade either self-employed or studying and the whole process is still a little alien yet.

I’m only doing a few days a week, so plenty of time to work on my thesis and get things done at home and I’m getting paid to work with people who love the same thing I do… Archaeology!

But another totally awesome thing about my new job is that nobody in the office thinks my efforts to avoid and reduce waste are weird.

It’s a Zero Waste friendly office!

Those of you who face-lurk or insta-stalk me might have already seen my post on Wednesday night about packing my salad in a jar for Thursday’s lunch at work. I didn’t grab a photo but one of the Ecologists brought his soup in a jar and the Archaeologist I work with regularly brings her smoothies in a jar.

There’s a kitchen… So we can bring our lunch and snacks ( less waste and way cheaper than buying lunch each day). They keep a filter jug in the fridge so there’s always fresh water to fill your water bottle and a compost basket under the sink for green waste ( our local council supplies them and the bio-bags as part of their Halve Waste program).

There’s tea and coffee too so no need to get take-out coffee but if you’re heading out to do fieldwork or travel for client meetings everyone has one of these:

And the bathroom is low waste eco-friendly too…

There’s “unpaper towels” for hand-drying and eco-friendly Who Gives a Crap loo roll and tissues. I don’t know who is washing the towels. I keep forgetting to ask, but I’m pretty sure it’s done by the Zerowaste fairy (like the tooth fairy but he/she cleans stuff instead of giving you monies.

It’s not a completely paperless office but the bulk of our work is done on the computer and scrap paper is reused before going into the recycling bin. Any soft plastics are taken home (this week by myself) to be dropped into a Redcycle bin (nearest one to us at the moment is at the Chiltern Post Office ( the Teens go there twice a week for sports training so it’s not out of the way).

Imagine if every office did these things…

Sunday Scraps – How we prep for the week ahead and what we ate this week

A big part of living low and slow is having routines, rituals and habits. No we don’t run around naked in the woods making sacrifices to the Slow Gods (although that might be fun) but we do have some things that we do on weekends that make life just a little bit simpler for the rest of the week. 

The last two weeks have been school holidays here so I must admit that routine did pretty much go out the window but we’re getting back on track now.

Our Weekend Routines

It’s tempting to sit around and be lazy over the weekend, especially when the weather is really nice (or particularly awful) but we I find that if we perform a few little rituals we can handle just about anything the coming week throws at us.

The Bed Sheet Ritual. 

Change all the bedsheets. We don’t necessarily wash them the same day but at least get them all changed so we start the week fresh. This only takes about 20 minutes if everyone does their own bed.

The Ritual Cleaning of the Sports Uniform

Takes a second or two to dump all the sports uniforms and training gear in the machine and five minutes to hang them up ( inside on a clothes horse if the weather is bad).

The Uniform Ritual

Goes hand in hand with the Cleaning of the Sports Clothes. We check everyone has clean uniforms and work clothes, organise any repairs if necessary and hang them all ready to grab and go each morning. This way you don’t have to hunt for socks or shirts or in my case, spend 30 minutes choosing which of the two work jumpers you own goes best with the blue shirt.

The Lunchbox Ritual

Takes about 10 minutes to check what’s in the fridge, freezer, pantry and fruit bowl. I make sure there’s enough for lunches and make a list which I stick on the fridge so the Teens know what they can snack on and what has to be left available for lunches

The Meal Plan Ritual 

This one also only takes about another ten minutes.  I usually already have a fair idea of what’s for dinner for the week but I do a quick double check that we have all the necessary ingredients on hand and if not I try and adjust the plan rather than run out and buy stuff. I plan mainly on a scrap of paper but I have put together and excel spreadsheet version as well. Here’s a printable version for those of you who would like to give it a try.  Weekly meal planner1

The Prepping of the Food

This one can take a little longer depending on what meals we have planned for the week. I usually spend about half an hour doing things like precutting veg or stacking the required fresh ingredients for a meal together in the fridge. I also like to pull  any meat we’ll be eating for the next few days out of the freezer and put it on plates on the bottom shelf of the fridge to thaw ( this way I don’t have to defrost it last minute in the microwave and the chance of it going bad by thawing on the bench is alleviated). Sometimes I also make up a batch of flatbreads to be used that week or put in the freezer.

If we’re home I tend to do a little baking (bread or a slice for snacks), but the bulk of our cooking gets done as needed throughout the week to avoid waste.

The Ritual Checking of the Bills & Notes

This one should probably go at the top of the list. Sometimes it takes several requests before school notes are produced or Mr Scraps remembers that the car is booked in for servicing on Thursday (this for us is also an important Ritual as we have only one car and live in the country so it needs to be kept in good condition). There’s nothing worse than a last second scrounge for a few dollars change for a note produced the morning of the school excursion or worse a phone call from the school to say your child is being left behind at school unsupervised while everyone else goes to the museum so either come pay for them or pick them up. This Ritual ensures that a) I have a chance to set aside the correct monies for any upcoming trips/bills and b) that if one of the Teens misses out on a school activity it’s because they didn’t hand over the appropriate papers when asked ( and I don’t have to rush around after them or feel guilty when I say, sorry but you’re going to have to miss out this time).
We have lots of other little things we do as well, like making sure the kitchen is clean before we go to bed Sunday night and the Threenager and I both wash our hair, but the ones above are the ones that really do make the week run smoothly.  None of these take too long. Most weekends it’s under an hour and can be done between other activities. If you have any rituals you perform over the weekend to make your week run smoothly I’d love to hear them.

What We Ate This Week

(the makings for Friday night’s Fridge Bottom Burgers) 

We were away last weekend and got home Monday night  and I had work Tuesday and Thursday plus a tonne of university work to do so we’ve had a couple of Fake-Away meals this week.

Monday: on the road home from Lakes Entrance we had toasted Ham and Cheese rolls for breakfast, stopped at a bakery (most bakeries are awesome if you are trying to avoid plastics or go zero, they use tongs to pick up pies and pop them on a real plate, into paper bag or your own containers) for beef and mushroom pies at lunch, then stooped at Rosedale for what turned out to be an undrinkable coffee (I drink my coffee black and sugarfree so might be a little more picky than the average latte drinker but this coffee was bitter and burned).Dinner was ham and tomato rolls I made before we left the cabin. Snacks were veggie sticks apples and bananas as well as some lemon slice.

Tuesday: I had toast for breakfast and packed myself a sandwich for my work lunch as well as some fruit and yoghurt. The Threenager and Teens ate Weetbix for breakfast. Mr Scraps and the mob at home ate pumpkin soup from the freezer as well as fruit and yoghurt. Dinner was Chorizo & Tomato Pasta Fake-Away.

Wednesday:  The threenager had Weetbix for breakfast. I had toast and Mr Scraps had beans on toastI made pumpkin scone bread for snacks. The Eldest Teen spent the night at a friends house so wasn‘t home for breakfast.  The Younger Teen slept in past breakfastThe Threenager had veggie sticks and yoghurt. We all ate toasted sandwiches for lunch made with cheese and veg from the fridge and dinner was baked chicken and vegetables

Thursday:  Breakfast was toast for me and Weetbix for the threenager (Im pretty sure when I’m at work Mr Scraps and the Teens skip breakfast)For lunch at work I took leftover FakeAway from Tuesday night. Mr Scraps and the mob ate toasted sandwiches, everyone had fruit and  pumpkin scone bread for snacks. Dinner was Leftovers Lasagne from the freezer

Friday:Breakfast was eggs on toast, lunch was pumpkin soup, dinner was  fridge bottom Burgers and homemade potato chips

Saturday:  For breakfast I attempted homemade crumpets. They tasted good but were nothing like the crumpets I remember my Nan making for meThe threenager and I stayed home while Mr Scraps and the Teens went to netball and foot. We had toast for breakfast, veggie sticks for snacks and boiled eggs for lunch. dinner was beef sausages and mashed potato and I made a pear and Apple flan which we ate with yoghurt for desert.

Sunday: Lunch was homemade potato chips and the last of the Leftovers Lasagne. For dinner tonight I’m making vegetable curry and rice which should have enough leftover for a few lunches during the week.

Fake-Away Chorizo & Tomato Pasta

What’s a  Fake-Away?

No it’s not pretend food or meals where you tell the family they’re eating one thing but you’re really serving them something else. (Remind me to tell you the four-legged chicken and decoy cake stories one day).

Fake-Away meals are the meals you make in less than ten minutes after a really draining day or when something really unexpected disrupts the menu plan instead of dropping in to the local takeaway. They’re our version of “convenience” food or “fast- food”. Instead of picking up take-out through the drive through (not that there’s one here anyway), one of us will run into the local supermarket and grab some stuff (if we don’t happen to already have the required ingredients already in the pantry).

Fake- Aways are fairly healthy, low cost, low waste and filling meals. They’re great for holidays when you have access to a kitchen but would rather spend your time exploring rather than cooking (I took the makings of this particular fake-away on our trip last weekend). They’re also great for those CCB (“can’t be bothered”) nights or summer evenings when you don’t want to spend an hour over a hot stove heating up the house.

To Qualify as a Fake-Away for us they have to:

1. use things that can be easily brought plastic free (once you know which brands to buy) from most supermarkets.

2. be prepared in less than 10 minutes

3. be something every family member will happily devour

4. not require any “weird” or “one-off” ingredients

Chorizo & Tomato Pasta Fake-Away

1 jar/bottle of passata (any brand will do, but we go with the ones that have no added sugar, organic if available and are just tomatoes with a little salt and citric acid. You could also use a couple of cans of tomato puree but I find the ones available here are made mainly from tomato paste/concentrate,not whole tomatoes so they tend to be a bit overpowering plus most cans are plastic lined these days and we try to avoid plastic if wherever we can).

1 box pasta (if I haven’t already got some dried homemade pasta in the pantry I buy the “Barilla” brand because it’s the only reasonably low priced brand I’ve found that comes in a box instead of plastic for anything other than lasagna sheets, although recently they added a little cellophane window to some of the the boxes).

2- 3 Chorizo Sausages (from the deli, not the plastic wrapped ones or you can use any other kind of sausage or meat you like, leftover roast chicken is good).

A pinch of salt. 

A Sprinkle of Herbs to taste.

Pop your pasta in a pot of boiling water and while it cooks chop your chorizo into bite sized pieces and brown lightly in a hot pan. Add the passata, salt and herbs to taste (we like oregano, basil or rosemary).

As soon as your pasta is aldente (cooked but still a tiny bit chewy), drain it and stir through the Chorizo & Passata sauce. Serve in bowls with a little grated cheese & a chunk of bread.

It takes about 8 minutes for the pasta to cook and you can have the chorizo and passata sauce done easily in that time, so this Fake-Away really does take less than 10 minutes.

Variations: I’ve already mentioned that you really could use just about any meat you like. You might like to add an onion or a few sliced chilli’s to the sauce. You can also throw in some grated vegetables, or leave out the meat completely and make it with mushrooms or eggplant. Serve with homemade garlic bread (mince a clove or two of garlic, stir it through some butter and spread on thick slices of bread. Pop them in the oven for a few minutes or even under the grill and they’re done).

 

Living Low & Slow

We’ve had a few life changing moments in the past decade. Mr Scraps was injured in a workplace accident.Our household income took a major dive (due to Mr Scraps accident and my own decision to pursue an arts career and then further education rather than work in an industry that didn’t allow for much ‘family time’). We’ve lost family members, friends and mentors to cancer and other health related issues. We decided to have another child (the Threenager). Add to that, we got older and (hopefully) a little wiser.

We spent a decade in a weird kind of limbo after Mr Scraps was injured.Waiting for (or rather being bullied by) insurance companies to decide whether he was worth ‘fixing’, struggling to make ends meet, feed kids and have some sort of life (any sort) where we didn’t end up miserable, cynical, overweight and unhealthy.. 
I’m sure Mr Scraps will have his own view on it all, but I was terrified that I’d end up one of those grumpy gossipy old women you meet sometimes in line at the bank or the post office, you know, the ones that hate everyone and everything because somewhere along the line life handed them a rotten orange and they didn’t know that you could chuck the thing in the compost and go pick a new one.
Somewhere along the line we decided we didn’t want to live a rotten orange life. I’m not quite sure when. It may have been when we decided to add the Threenager to our brood, it might have even been before that or it may have been after… it doesn’t really matter when we decided, or even whether it was a conscious decision or not, it just matters (to us) that we did.

I call what we do living “Low & Slow“.

No, we’re not hippy tree-huggers living in a tiny house growing our own sprouts and vegan home-schooling our kids on bicycles (but if you are that’s so awesome and I’m a little jealous).


We live in a little rental house, don’t really garden (I try but I’ve literally killed a cactus in the past), I have a job (just started in my first graduate archaeology position), we live on lower than the Australian average household income, drive a car (it’s old but reliable and fits two adults, five kids, plus Scrap Cat and the Immortal Chicken if required), our kids play mainstream sports, we own a TV and a lot of DVD’s and love the fact that we have running water and air conditioning when its hot. All in all, we’re fairly “normal”.

But we do care about the kind of environment we’re leaving behind for our children and the attitudes that we pass on.

Living Low is really all about living with less … less waste, less cost, less environmental impact, less sugar, less chemicals, less fuss, less stress and less chance of developing any major health issues later on… 
Living with less takes some adjustment. It’s been an ongoing process and we’re still learning as we go.
What we have learned is that it’s not about never having any bills or never eating out at a restaurant ever again (we ate out over the weekend), but rather about knowing that you can pay those bills in a reasonable amount of time and have the occasional night out at a fancy restaurant without giving up any of life’s true necessities or having knots in your stomach when the waiter presents you with the bill.
By living low we’ve managed to get a little fitter, to live within our means and actually enjoy it. We’ve also learned to focus on experiences rather than things.
Living Slow is about taking the time to actually enjoy life without the hustle.
It’s not about being lazy and doing nothing, or being so perfectly organised that nothing ever goes wrong. I still go to work and do university, Mr Scraps still runs the Teens to and from sports practice, the Uni-Student works two jobs.
What it does mean is being able to take a breath between activities and appreciate the little things in life, like ten minutes in the sun with a pot of tea. 

It means being able to leave the stress of work or university or whatever else you do at the place where you do it (I know, easier said than done for some of us). It means choosing what’s important for you and your family and making it a priority, actually putting it into your schedule rather than just dreaming about it.


It’s not about living in you’re own little insular dream bubble, but making real connections, with family and with community. It’s also about appreciation. Appreciation for those connections, for the environment and about finding joy in the simple things.

For us it’s also about conscious,sustainable living. About taking the time to learn how things work and where they come from or even making them ourselves.
And there’s also indulgence, in travel, in natural, wholesome foods and in new experiences….

All in all, it’s a mindset that defines who we are and how we choose to live.
How would you define the way you live ( or want to)? 
 

 

 

Sunday Scraps – Low Waste, Low Cost, Slow Boats and Beachside Strolls

Quick Scraps this week. 

I started writing this on Sunday evening from a cabin by an East Gippsland Lake, just a leisurely twenty minute stroll to the seaside. I’ll finish and post on Tuesday when we’re home ( although I think Mr Scraps has fallen in love with this piece of Australia and may be seriously considering not returning to our little rented river house). 

It’s only been a short stay and we had to drive through this to get here…

Which was a bit of an unexpected scary surprise.. But totally worth it. It was the Threenagers first experience of snow so despite the hairy trip over the mountains, it was awesome. In fact the whole trip has been awesome.

We’ve cruised the lakes, walked on the beach, watched seals play on the rocks, made sandcastles, collected seashells and eaten icecream cones lakeside.

And we’ve managed to do it all without breaking the bank, eating cheap junk food or leaving a trail of trash behind us (although I did bring home several paper napkins for our compost bin and a chip packet to add to our Redcycle bag because I didn’t come across one of their bins on our journey). 

We’ve eaten out at least one meal each day, which we planned and budgeted for. But the rest of our meals and snacks were prepared at home. I just popped a couple of the homemade frozen lasagnes from last week, a Ham and Egg slice, some fruit, Milk, Cheese, crackers, bread rolls and a few other bits and pieces in an esky. It’s winter and the car trip was only about 5 hours, plus a few stops to check out Op Shops and stretch our legs, so it was all still icy cold when we arrived. If we do the trip over summer (hopefully our Miss Cara Van project will be complete by then) we’ll have to borrow /buy a car fridge.

The cabin has a kitchen with all the basics, so we didn’t need to bring anything else. Next time we might  bring the fishing rods and catch our dinner like the locals. Although fishing for crabs is out,  according to our landlords… There were signs stuck up all over the cabin kitchen telling us not to cook them. I’d like to think it was because the owners found the thought of boiling a live creature abhorrent but I suspect it was because of the smell and potential mess…

Everyone has their own water bottle for when we’re out and about, so we save a lot by not having to buy drinks for everyone. 

We avoided “fast food” places and opted for “sit down”  small businesses who serve food on real plates with real cutlery. 

We also brought our Zerowaste style personal care kits (deodorant, toothpowder,  soap etc) so we didn’t have to rely on those little sample sized plastic wrapped things most hotels and cabins supply.

So we’ve  managed to produce practically no trash. We also came across very little considering this part of Gippsland is high traffic for tourists (although it is the middle of winter here and despite being school holidays, for most places it’s definitely off season). 

One thing we did find however, was this…

Mr Scraps picked this one up on the beach at Lake Tyers, thankfully just before the Threenager stuck herself with it while building sandcastles.