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.
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.
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.
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.
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 shelf–life of your bars a little and you may need to add a few more oats to soak up any excess moisture.
The University Student moved back home this week, so she will be eating at home more often (and bringing her friends with her).
I started a new job as a Research Assistant for an Ecology and Heritage Consultants in the Big Town about 30km up the road. I spent some time last week doing a little training and had my first official day on Tuesday. It’s only two days a week (plus some days in the field here and there) but it’s given me an excuse to pull out a few new slow cooker recipes that I’ll try over the next few weeks.
It’s also given me the chance to test out the Glasslock containers we got to replace some of our very old (I’m talking 1970s era) Tupperware containers. In short, they work. I’m still a little dubious about how long the snappy plastic thingamajigs on the side will last especially with the kind of use they’ll get from the BHG and the Teens, but I’ll try and reserve judgement for now.
My grocery spend this week was $89.20. This included some meat, most veg and dairy as well topping up three bulk items (flour, oats and salt), the ingredients to make our own French Onion Soup Mix ( which will be enough for about 6 casseroles) and a tub of ready-made whole egg mayonnaise which is the Younger Teens favour and has a low Sugar content but is only brought when “on special” as I usually make it myself.
This is what we ate this week.
Most of the dinner meals had some leftovers which I popped straight into containers and into the fridge and freezer for handy lunches, emergency meals for those days where life gets in the way and our version of TV Dinners (no prep. heat and eat in the loungeroom front of a movie – watching a movie or a few episodes of a TV series on a wet weekend or winter weeknight is one of our favourite things to do as a family )
Mon: Leftovers Lasagne – made with last week’s spaghetti bolongnaise sauce – this also made several TV dinners and a freezer meal large enough for four if served with a salad (for one of those nights when one or both the Teens are off doing their own thing).
Tues: Chicken Schnitzel with Potatoes and Salad
Wed: Italian Beef Casserole
Thurs: Slow Cooker Braised Lamb and Rice
Fri: Slow Cooker Chilli with Rice and homemade flatbread
Sat: Country Chicken Casserole and Mash Potatoes (This is a family favourite and is great for using up scraggly veg. I make it in a lidded casserole dish in the oven while I bake bread and other things. Made with chicken pieces, the last of the veg from the fridge crisper – this week it was a couple of carrots, some cauliflower, a few mushrooms, 4 Brussels sprouts , half a zucchini cut into chunks and a handful of greens from the freezer, covered with a double serve of French Onion Soup Mix and 1/2 cup of water baked with the lid on until chicken was tender, then I stirred in 2 teaspoons of arrowroot mixed with about 1/4 cup of water and returned to oven without lid until liquid reduced by about half).
Sun: Leftover Country Chicken Casserole with Sweet Potato Mash.
Breakfasts: Eggs on Toast, Cheese and Tomato or Avocado on Toast, Baked Beans on Toast, Oats, Weetbix
Lunches: included leftovers, my No Pastry Ham and Egg Pie with Salad, toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches, Homemade Flatbread salad wraps and homemade noodles
Snacks: Fruit, Low Sugar Chocolate Slice, Homemade Hummus and Homemade Crackers, Nut Butter Dip and Veggie Sticks.
Another big week here in the Scrap House.
I was asked to take part in the 2017 Act For Peace Ration Challenge. Basically, in return for donations you live on the same rations given to refugees. It’s not much and pretty hard to make palatable, but you can survive on it for a week. Long term I think you might have some pretty serious health issues unless you could find a way to supplement your meagre supplies with a few vegetables or a little meat. Especially if you have children. I’ll be blogging about it in more detail next week. Donations/ sponsorship runs until the end of June, so there’s still time to join in for anyone who’s interested. You can donate here to my personal challenge page.
I got my Archaeology Degree in the mail on Thursday. I’m still planning on going to the graduation ceremony in October, but thought I’d get it sent out anyway, just in case I’m too awesomely busy doing archaeology to attend. I can now officially call myself an Archaeologist, granted an inexperienced one… but I have it in ink on a bit of paper now, so it must be true.
I also had a meeting about my first proper (paying) archaeology job. They offered me a contract. There’s probably still some details to work out but it’s really exciting to find that after slogging my butt off and driving the BHG, the Teens and myself mad for the last two and a half years that bit of paper meant something to someone besides just me.
The BHG and I saw Wonder Woman at the pictures this week. I LOVE going to the movies. You leave life at the door when you walk in and for an hour and a half you’re somewhere/ someone else, plus there’s popcorn (or if you’re lucky enough to have Gold Class tickets – wine). I’m a huge Wonder Woman fan (Whovians can love Wonder Woman too! Now wouldn’t that be a cross-over).
The Teens did the usual of teen stuff, but as Monday was a public holiday and Friday was report writing day at their High School, it was a short week for them. The eldest Teen spent two days working in a shearing shed and came home with what to him was a wad of cash (remind me to discuss that with Grandad Scraps sometime – I’m pretty sure that all those school holidays I spent as roust-a bout in the shearing shed means he owes me about seventy billion dollars plus interest).
The Threenager and I did lots of cooking (including perfecting the Not Little Bears recipe I’ve included below) and sorting this week. It’s now definitely winter here and the increase in chill factor now dictates that its time for some serious winter woollies. Many of her clothes from last year still fit quite well, but we’ll be looking for a new jacket in the coming weeks as we discovered the sleeves on hers are almost up to her elbows and she could probably do with another cardigan and vest. A good excuse to get the needles out and sit in front of the fire and watch the next season The Walking Dead and maybe (probably) Black Sails too.
The BHG and I are also in the process of sorting through the two shed loads of stuff we’ve been carting from place to place for the last 12 years. I blame him and his “collectables” a lot, but secretly, I have to admit most of it is my junk from when I was running my own bricks and mortar business. Some of it comes from the houses of deceased relatives, but the majority is just the result of our (my) own sentimentality. We’ve finally realised that if we’re ever going to go truly nomad sometime this century, we’re going to have to get tough on our “stuff”. I’ve sent a lot off to charity shops, but we’ll probably be doing a lot of eBay listing and free-cycling over the next few months. I really like the idea of minimalism, but getting there (mindfully, without just throwing everything we’ve accumulated in a skip and sending it to landfill) feels like an incredibly arduous task.
Speaking of going nomad, those who saw my Instagram posts about our pop-top “Miss Cara Van” will be pleased to know she is coming along nicely. It’s taken a while, but now most of the structural stuff is done and she’ ready for a new floor. Then we can get onto the fun stuff (kitting her out and decorating).
Now to the promised recipe. I’ve had a few friends try this out with all the variations listed and they’ve been pretty successful. They’re quick, fairly simple (the Threenager easily helped with the mixing, rolling and cutting) and they’re lower in sugar than the store brought version and can be popped in a little container or waxed baggie in a lunch box, so no plastic packaging in school lunches.
Not Little Bear Biscuits
Makes 60 Little Gingerbread Man or bear shapes approx. 5cm tall.
½ Cup Softened Butter
¼ Cup Rice Malt Syrup
1 Cup Plain Flour
½ Cup Self-Rising Flour
1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
Extra flour for rolling
Mix together butter and rice malt syrup until creamy consistency.
Add vanilla essence and flours, stirring until it forms a soft dough.
Refrigerate in covered bowl at least 30 minutes.
Roll out on a floured surface until approximately ½ cm thick.
Cut into small shapes using a cookie cutter or knife. (I used a little mini gingerbread man cutter because that’s what I had in the kitchen drawer).
Place on lined biscuit trays and bake at 180 C for approximately 5-6 mins or until lightly golden.
Leave on trays a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight tin.
These will keep at least a week
(or more, but they’ve never lasted long enough in our house for me to test properly).
Note: You can substitute margarine for butter, honey or maple syrup for rice malt syrup.
To make chocolate biscuits simply replace 1& 1/2 tablespoons of the plain flour with cocoa.
Gluten free or Vegan Version: Gluten Free flour works as well but the consistency is more like shortbread and the dough is very delicate. It is best rolled out gently in small batches. To make them vegan friendly you could use olive oil spread (we tried some of the Nuttelex brand and it worked just fine).
For the first week, after unpacking the groceries (you can see what we already had and what I brought here), I made two small loaves of bread, a batch of Not Little Bear Biscuits, divided and cut the Ears of Corn into 3 portions and placed them in the freezer, reserving one whole ear for making Mexican Chicken Soup on Saturday. I also sliced 2 of the 4 bunches of Leeks and placed them in the freezer.
In addition to this the Threenager and I spent a lovely hour on the Monday morning making some sauerkraut from what was left of the red cabbage. I also made two more loaves of bread on the Sunday and brought 6 more litres of milk throughout the week at a cost of $6.
This brought our total grocery/cleaning/toiletry spend to $95.
You’ll notice that most breakfasts and lunches list more than one meal type. This is because 5 days a week the Teens are at school and the BHG, Threenager and I all sort of do our own thing even if we are home together all day. The youngest Teen does food technology at school and often eats what she cooks in class (this is paid for in her school fees so doesn’t come out of our household food budget) and the eldest Teen does a little farmhand work on weekends and school holidays. He sometimes (maybe once or twice a week) chooses to spend a little of what he earns at the school salad and pasta bar rather than bring lunch from home. They go to an awesome little country high school that provides some really healthy food options, so please no emails or social media messages or posts about not feeding growing teenagers properly.
|Wednesday||Toast with Butter & Vegemite
Weetbix & milk
|Toasted Cheese & Tomato Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Nutella Sandwiches
|Single Breasted Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry with Boiled Rice
Self- Saucing Choc Pudding (h/m) with Frozen Yoghurt
|Peanut Butter on Bread
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
|Thursday||Weetbix & Milk
Toast with Cheese & Tomato
|Leek & Cauliflower Soup
Cheese & Tomato Sandwich
|Grilled Beef Sausages with Baked – ½ Sweet Potato, 3 Garlic Cloves, ½ Red Capsicum, 1 Large Potato and 1 & ½ Ears Corn boiled
Orange Jelly Chocolate Self-Saucing Pudding & Eater Cheater Custard (h/m- Recipe Below)
handful of Choc Chips
|Friday||Toast, Vegemite & Butter
Wheaties & Milk
Toast & Nutella
Can of Irish Stew Soup
Adults & 3-year -old lunched at grandparents’ house.
|Everyone had main meal at grandparents’ house.
|Saturday||Toast, Nutella, Apricot Cheese, Tomato slices, Peanut Butter
|Leek & Cauliflower Soup
Toasted cheese sandwiches
|Mexican Chicken Soup
Slice of Cheese
Peanut Butter, Nutella
|Mexican Chicken Soup
Chocolate Nut Squares
Coconut Milk Custard
Chocolate Wheaties Slice
|Monday||Toast, Peanut Butter
Weetbix & milk
Small can of Tuna
Bread & Butter
|Homemade Coleslaw Dressing
Sweet Potato Chips
(with Red Dip Dip – Recipe Below)
Chocolate Nut Squares
|Tuesday||Weetbix & Milk
Toast with butter & Vegemite
Coleslaw, Cheese & Tomato Sandwiches
|Savoury Chicken & Cabbage Stew
|Beverages Cosumed During the Week||Milk or Akta-Vite||Coffee||Tea – Black, matcha & herbal
Lemon Water (h/m)
These are a few of the things I made during the week. To avoid a massively long post and so they can be searched more easily, I’ll pop some others into separate posts and tag them in the table above as they are published.
AKA: Low Sugar Tomato Sauce
This is a staple in our house. The Threenager loves it and won’t eat any kind of meat or hot chips without it.
1 large (600g) Jar of Passatta or equivalent in tinned tomatoes
(look for the ones that are just tomatoes, without anything extra added).
½ brown Onion (finely chopped)
1 Clove Garlic (finely chopped)
¼ Cup Malt or Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Rice Malt Syrup
Pinch of Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
1 Whole Clove or a pinch of Powdered Cloves
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Put everything in a saucepan, bring to the boil then immediately reduce heat and simmer gently until the Passatta (or juice of canned tomatoes) is reduced to half its original volume. Blend until smooth or push through a sieve. Pour into a clean jar or bottle.
Refrigerate between use.
Will last about a month in fridge.
It can also be frozen.
Single Breasted Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry
Serves 6 with rice as a main meal.
1 Large Chicken Breast
1 large Onion
Red & Yellow Capsicum
1 Red Chilli
½ Large Sweet Potato (approx. 500g)
¼ Cup Milk Powder
2 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Boiled Rice to Serve.
Finely dice onion and chilli.
Chop Chicken Breast, Sweet Potato and Capsicum into small cubes.
In a pot or large frypan, heat olive oil and over a low heat sweat off onion and chilli until onion turns clear.
Add ¾ of water, chicken, capsicum, curry powder and sweet potato.
Cook over low heat until chicken is cooked and sweet potato is cooked but still firm (you may need to add a little extra water during cooking).
Mix milk powder with remaining water and stir through.
Cook until thickened.
Served with Boiled Rice.
Eater Cheater Homemade Custard
2 Heaped Dessert Spoons Cornflour (or Tapioca Flour)
1 Desert Spoon Rice Malt Syrup
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
2 & ½ Cups Milk (or use milk powder)
In a medium sized saucepan whisk together eggs, cornflour, vanilla, essence and rice malt syrup until smooth and fully combined with no lumps.
Place over low heat and continue to whisk until thickened to desired consistency.
If custard is too thick, slowly drizzle in some more milk until desired thickness is achieved.
Variation: Replace regular milk with coconut milk.
Note: while this is simple and only takes about 10 minutes, it is not something you can walk away from at all. It needs to be continuously whisked/stirred to avoid burning or becoming lumpy.
This Week in the Scrap House
We’ve had a busy week. Mr Scraps spent the week sorting through the shed and packing up all our unwanted bits and pieces to sell at a friend’s garage sale. The Teens had the usual school week with football and netball training thrown in (the youngest Teen’s team won their game by a massive margin this week). The Uni Student popped in a few times and is off interstate for a few days with the Eldest who graced us with his presence for dinner Friday night. We also made the trek over to Grandma & Grandad Scraps for an afternoon tea on Saturday which turned into dinner.
I’m now getting to the pointy end of my Archaeology Honours Project (the bit where you have to actually do something with all the data you’ve collected and historic documents you’ve unearthed, scanned and photographed). As a result there’s been a fair amount of thinking, hair-twisting and pacing up and down in front of a blank computer screen. In between, Miss T and I managed to do some experimenting with bread recipes, planted out our celery and leek butts that have been sprouting on the kitchen bench, tried our hands at sauerkraut with some red cabbage (much easier than I imagined) and spent Saturday morning knitting at the local library for World Wide Knit in Public Day. She made and installed her first ever “Yarn Bomb”. and as a result the librarian has given us permission to decorate all the trees.I don’t know who was more excited, the Threenager or my friend who had neglected her own knitting project to help her craft her installation piece. She also proudly modeled a new prototype vintage fabric skirt from Vintage Bubs . She was allowed to keep it and we had to pries it off her to pop it in the wash after an afternoon in the park.
There was also a lot of experimenting with homemade cleaning products. We already have a few “go to” cleaners we make ourselves, but a couple of them have ingredients that are either a little expensive or difficult to get without ridiculous amounts of plastic packaging or trips into the nearest large town. I shared a post about experimenting with dishwasher tablets over on the Facebook page this week and a lot of people asked 1) How they went and 2) If I could please share the recipe.
Why I wanted to make our own dishwasher tablets
Dishwasher tablets are very convenient, but usually expensive (hard to pay less than 18-20 cents per wash) and although they come in a box they’re usually individually wrapped in little plastic packets inside it. The powder is better package wise with most brands only packed in a cardboard box, but still not all that cheap. Both contain chemically stuff or things I’m not happy to ingest, like borax.
Now while borax isn’t thought to be particularly dangerous, there is some evidence that it has the potential to cause skin irritation, stomach upset and may be a hormone disrupter. There’s lots of recipes for homemade dishwasher powders and tablets out there on the web, but most of them contain the stuff, so I’ve been on a bit of a mission to find a way to make my own without borax. This week I think we’ve done it. After two full dishwasher loads (I only turn our dishwasher on when it’s really full, about every second or third day) and both have come out clean as a whistle without any residue left on the glassware.
1 Cup Washing Soda
1 Cup Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda)
1 Cup Salt
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice.
2 Ice Cube Trays (or similar)
Mix all your dry ingredients then pour in lemon juice (make sure you use a fairly large bowl because it fizzes quite a lot for a few moments). Mix it really well and divide mix between the ice cube trays packing down really firmly. Leave to dry at least a few hours before popping them out and leaving overnight to dry completely. Keep in an airtight container and use like any commercial dishwasher tablet.
This recipe makes 24 tablets (or more if you use a smaller mold). I used two 12 hole plastic ice cube trays because that’s what I had. They came out quite easily, but silicone might be even easier. Just make sure that your tablets will fit in your dispenser. To check just fill your container with water and freeze, take one of the ice cubes, pop it in the detergent dispenser and make sure it closes properly.
Be fairly gentle when you pop them out of the trays. They do harden up a bit more as they dry. There were a few crumbly bits (which is why they put the commercial tablets in plastic wrap). I just scrapped them up and will pop them in the dispenser like powder.
If you prefer powder, just omit the lemon juice and instead use 1 Cup of Citric Acid, mix together and keep in an airtight container. To use place 1 tablespoon per load in the dispenser.
For sparkly glassware, pop white vinegar in the rinse aide dispenser.
If you find you have some residue on your dishes after the dishwasher cycle finishes, try making sure the water going through your machine is nice and hot. Pop a pot or bucket in your sink, turn on your hot tap and let the water run a moment until it’s flowing hot before switching your machine on (this can also help with store-brought dishwasher tablets or powder). I empty the water in the pot into my washing machine or use it to water plants or wash the floors so it doesn’t go to waste (it’s usually less than a litre but in winter when the pipes are really cold its more).
Homemade Vegetable Stock is seriously simple, super easy, only takes a little prep and is about as zero waste as you can get. Unlike store brought varieties you control the ingredients, so NO ADDED NASTIES (you know, those ingredients on the packaging that are either unpronounceable or just numbers) and if you use vegetable scraps it’s also FREE!
Just save those little bits of vegetables that you’d usually throw in the compost, like the end of the brown onion you chopped to make pasta sauce, the stalk you cut off your broccoli, your carrot or potato peelings (but only if they’ve been really well washed – you don’t want gritty dirt stock). Basically almost anything you would usually throw away. I keep a bag in the freezer and as I cook just add all these bits to it until I have what amounts to about 3/4 of a 20 Litre pot full, but you don’t have to wait that long, use an amount to fit whatever pot size suits you.
From there vegetable stock is as simple as throwing vegetables into a pot, covering them with water, bringing it to the boil and letting it simmer away for a while (30 minutes will do it but about an hour is better). I like to chop and saute off some of my veg in a little olive oil before I add the water just to kick start the flavour process.
When your stock is done simply strain it and keep in the fridge or freezer. I like to make it up in big batches and freeze in lots 1 litre/ 4 cups (those big yoghurt tubs or washed out milk cartons are good for this, anything where the mouth of the container is as wide as or wider than its base). When I make soup or casseroles I simply take some out of the freezer, run the bottom of the container under water until the contents start to free up a little and slide it straight into my cooking pot or slow cooker.
I use the ends of onions, broccoli or cauliflower stalks, those bits of green onion that are too wilted for salad, the tough outer leaves of leeks, celery leaves and the white end bits of the stalks, carrot tops and peels.. the possibilities are almost endless. I do find that the best stock includes onion, carrot and celery.
If you’d prefer a vegetable broth (clear- ish soup) all you do is add seasoning while simmering, usually its a little salt and pepper but you could try anything, chili, curry, garlic or ginger can be nice.
The flavour of your stock (or broth) will depend greatly on what vegetables you choose to include. I’ve made a list below of a few that good and some that are not so good for stock and broth. Feel free to comment with any I’ve missed or something you’ve tried that tastes great, a method that worked really well (or even something that completely ruined your stock).
Acorn and most other kinds of Squash – The peels are great for stock, but the flesh is too starchy and should be left out.
Asparagus- Good in very small quantities.
Basil- Good in very small quantities.
Bay leaves- 1 or 2 leaves per quart of liquid is a good amount.
Beet Greens- Good in small quantities. You may want to add greens toward end of cooking as they break down quickly.
Beets- Beets can be added, but they will turn the stock a very dark color, which may not work well for some purposes, such as pumpkin soup. Don’t use the skins, they give your stock a funky flavour.
Bok Choy- Foods in the Brassica family, such as Bok Choy, are too strong for stock/broth and can impart a bitter taste.
Broccoli- Foods in the Brassica family, such as broccoli, are too strong for stock/broth and can impart a bitter taste.
Cabbage- Foods in the Brassica family, such as cabbage, are too strong for stock/broth and can impart a bitter taste.
Capsicum (Bell or sweet peppers) – Okay in small quantities. I don’t use them much as the Imortal Chicken loves the seeds so they always go in the chook bucket.
Carrots- Excellent !
Carrot tops (leafy part)- Use only in very small quantities. Too many make stock bitter.
Celery stalks – Excellent!
Celery leaves- While the outer leaves can make the stock bitter, a small amount of the inner leaves can be used with good results.
Chard – Good in very small quantities.
Chives- Good in small quantities.
Cilantro Leaves (aka Coriander to us Aussies) – Too strong for broth/stock. I can’t stand them, tastes like soap but if you really want to use it, use a very small amount. A very little goes a long way. The seeds are a little different and in small quantities can be quite nice.
Collard Greens- Another one in the Brassica family.Too strong for stock/broth and can impart a bitter taste.
Corn- Corn doesn’t really add any flavour and will make the stock/broth cloudy.
Cucumber- Good in small quantities.
Dill – Good in very small quantities.
Eggplant – Good in small quantities.
Garlic- Excellent! But I love garlic so may be slightly biased.
Green beans- Good in small quantities.
Greens- Avoid bitter greens and members of the brassica family (kale, cabbage, Bok Choy). Other greens can be used in small quantities.
Jerusalem artichokes- Good in small quantities.
Kohlrabi- Another Foods in the Brassica family.Avoid using it.
Lettuce- small quantities only. Most lettuce varieties don’t add much flavor to the stock/broth so is just a waste of real estate in your pot.
Marjoram- Good in very small quantities.
Mushrooms- I love them! Not technically a vegetable but Mushrooms add rich flavor to vegetable stock. Some studies suggest they can contribute to kidney stones and other health issues so maybe avoid them if you have any issues.
Napa Cabbage – Another from the Brassica family so like cabbage can impart a bitter taste.
Okra – We don’t get it much here unless I happen to be at one of the city markets but Okra can add body to broth. Use in small quantities to avoid overwhelming flavor.
Onions – I would class them as THE essential ingeredient so excellent for making stock/broth. If you don’t have any though, leek does almost as good a job.
Onion skins- Onion skins add a lovely colourJust don’t add to many of them unless you want your stock to be really dark.
Oregano- Like all the leafy herbs Good in small quantities.
Parsley – Same as Oregano.
Parsnips- Good in small quantities.
Peas – Also good in small quantities.
Peaa Pods- Same as Peas
Peppers, Hot Peppers, Chillis- Not recommended for stock but a tiny little bit can be good in broth.
Potato peels- Can be used in small quantities. Potato skins add an earthy, but slightly bitter taste. Too many can make the stock cloudy. Be sure the peels are very clean, otherwise you’ll end up with stock that tastes like dirt.
Pumpkin- Pumpkin is a little too starchy for good stock or broth.
Radish – I don’t really recommended them.
Romaine Lettuce – Can be okay in small quantities.
Rosemary – Some people like the taste but some find it a bit bitter, so you may want to use it with caution.
Rutabagas – Another in the Brassica family..
Shallots – Also Excellent.
Spinach- Good in small quantities Add toward the end of cooking because it breaks down quickly and can make your stock murky looking.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet Potatoes don’t add much flavor to stock or broth and some are too starchy for good stock or broth.
Thyme- Very good in small quantities.
Tomatoes- Excellent for making stock/broth. Don’t include too many tomato seeds as this can give a bitter flavour.
Turnips – Turnips are too strong for stock or broth. They tend to overpower any other flavours.
Turnip greens- Ok in small quantities. Like other greens you may want to add greens toward end of cooking as they break down quickly.
Zucchini – Also good in small quantities.
Don’t throw out your apple cores. I know some people eat the whole apple, core and all, but most of us don’t. Our youngest daughter eats at least one apple per day, that’s seven apple cores a week either going to the immortal chicken (I’ll tell you that story another day) or to compost each week. We also use a lot of ACV. I use it as a hair rinse, in cooking, as a salad dressing and in household cleaning products among other things and if you’ve been to your local wholefood store, health shop or even just your local supermarket lately, you’ll know that stuff can be expensive.Especially if you like to buy the certified organic brands.
Originally I went looking for a place that retailed ACV in bulk and at least a little cheaper than I could buy it in glass bottles from my local supermarket. Imagine my delight when I found you could make your own and all you needed was already right there in my kitchen.
What you need:
Apple cores (about half a dozen and skins if you have them)
Chlorine Free water (if your tap water is chlorinated leave it sit out in the open air for a while for the chlorine to evaporate or if you can get it use rainwater).
A wide mouth glass jar that will hold about 1.5 litres of liquid ( you can use larger or smaller just adjust your quantities).
A piece of cotton cloth (a bit of old sheet, a hanky or napkin will do)
An elastic band or piece of string.
Put your apple cores into your wide mouth jar.
Mix water and sugar at ratio of 1 teaspoon sugar for every 1 cup of water. Make enough to fill the jar. I like to use warm water and mix until the sugar is dissolved, but its probably not a necessity.
Pour the water sugar mix into the jar all the way to the top.Make sure all your apple bits are submerged (or they’ll go mouldy).
Cover the mouth of the jar with your piece of cotton and secure with an elastic band or string.
Stick it in the back of your cupboard for about 3 weeks to ferment. You’ll know its ready when it begins to smell acidic and well, like vinegar. You can use it as is or leave it another week or two and it’ll have a stronger flavour.
Strain into a bottle, put the lid on and set aside for a few days to settle. You might want to open the lid every day or so for the next week to “burp” the bottle, just in case it hasn’t quite done fermenting. A vinegar explosion in your cupboard might not be pretty.
You can give it a stir every few days if you like, but I usually forget.
You’ll know its ready when it smells really acidic,if it really smells like rotten apples, chuck it and start again.
Surprisingly, you’ll probably have to put your nose fairly close to the cloth “lid” to smell it. The first time I made a batch I was worried it’d stink out the cupboard because you need to leave the jar open (the little microbes in the water and apples need to react with oxygen- thats why you don’t use chlorinated water, it kills all the little microbes that make the vinegar), covering it with the cloth stops dirt, bugs or rodents getting in the jar.
If you get a white gungy looking thing floating about in the jar before you strain it, hang onto it. It’s called the “mother” and will help speed up the process if you add it to the next batch you make. You can either pop it in with your strained ACV or put it in a separate little jar of its own. I usually start the new batch fermenting as soon as I strain of the ACV, so just transfer it into that one.
Keep your apple cores in the fridge or freezer until you have enough. I keep an old bread bag in the freezer that I throw the cores into as soon as I’ve cut up the apple.