Showing posts from October, 2013

Foods in the Bible

As I have mentioned many times before, we eat very little processed/packaged/pre-made foods. I cook from scratch and we rarely eat take-aways. Eating healthy foods is important and I try hard as the cook in our house to prepare healthy homemade meals.  Ever since this switch, pre-made food just doesn't tastes as good as what you can make yourself and I have lost interest in take-aways, they are always disappointing. 
In recent months there has been a number of stories in the paper/TV regarding sugar and how bad it is for us. Sugar is in so much processed foods and in products such as supermarket bread. If we cut our processed food, we cut out lots of sugar. Skip the fizzy drinks and even more sugar is removed from the diet. I do add sugar when making cakes/muffins and biscuits, but reduce the amount I add.  I am moving toward honey as a replacement as this is far less processed and better for you (in moderation) - here is a link for using honey as a sugar substitute.  However remem…

Doing it tough?

The other night I was watching  "Foreign Correspondent " on the ABC TV on employment and wages in the USA.  The reported said the following. "The federal minimum wage in the US is $7.25 an hour but for restaurant and bar staff it’s much lower - $2.13.  . It’s tips or starve”.  I thought I had mis-heard the dollars - $7.25 per hour with restaurant workers earning $2.13 per hour. No, I hadn't, this was how much many American workers are earning per hour.  I almost fell of my chair. 

No wonder so many are living in poverty and are unable to rise up and get ahead.  The USA is called the wealthiest country in the world, but for many it its only a dream that is out of their reach.

“Close to 50% of Americans are working and are economically insecure. And that means they can’t afford their housing, their healthcare, their childcare, their transportation. They can do no saving for an emergency or their own retirement. Half of the country lives in economic insecurity”.


Happy birthday vegemite

Now owned by the American company Mondelez International, Vegemite was born in 1923 and now a quite elderly 90 years old. Each year, 25 million jars are produced and mostly bought by Australians and New Zealanders. It appears that the rest of the world doesn't like or understand vegemite. Interestedly, the vegemite we eat today is the same recipe made 90 years ago - it has been a winner ever since.  
Its not an unhealthy spread - one teaspoon of vegemite contains 50% of the recommended daily allowance of folate (great for women), its the world's richest known source of B group vitamins and it doesn't contain fat. 
I grew up with vegemite and here are some of the way I eat it (or have eaten it!): On toast for breakfast, even better on crumpets with lots of butter.In sandwiches with a slice of cheese (when I was at school).Vegemite and cheese pinwheels/scroll - my children really liked these when young (and they are so easy to make)It is very good when feeling sick and you c…

Book review: The depression years

A Secret Gift by Ted Gup

I have just finished reading the most interesting book “The Secret Gift” by Ted Gup.
—what was life like for the ordinary folk in the town of Canton, Ohio in 1933?
It was horrible — with no jobs and no money, many families had nothing — some didn’t even have a roof over their heads, shoes on their feet, food on the table or even a coat to keep themselves warm.  However, in the midst of such terrible conditions people struggled on—they didn’t complain (or whinge as we like to do today) and even though many might have wanted to give up, they kept up the fight for survival. Mums and dads both searched desperately for what every work they could find, every cent was precious—no one had the luxury of sitting around and doing nothing.  Some had no choice but to take their children to the local orphanages as they simply couldn’t look after them (other children died from malnutrition). Suicide, drinking, turning to crime or simply abandoning …

The cry of every generation

Before I return "Family Secrets" by Deborah Cohen to the library I wanted to share one paragraph with you because it made me smile.  I don't know how often I have read about how bad today's society is - moral decline, increased violence, more divorce, increase in one-parent families, more delinquent children etc..
I think this is the cry of every generation - because in 1940 they bemoaned the same story - in fact what is written below could fit today! 

First detected in the 1930s, the breakdown of the family had become nearly a truism by the following decade.  There were the so-called "problem families", whose acute poverty and neglected children brought them to the attention of authorities. Even worse, though, were the signs of a moral breakdown among the populace at large. Skyrocketing rates of illegitimacy; a huge rise in the number of divorces; an epidemic of juvenile delinquency, personified by the spectacle of degenerate and rebellious Teddy Boys; an …

The humble tea-towel

At what point in one's life does one get excited about a pile of new tea-towels?
At my age!!
I went to Costco on the weekend with my son and I bought (among other things) 8 new tea-towls and gave my husband a pile of old scruffy ones (to use in the shed).  It was so nice to open my drawer this morning and remove a brand new tea-towel that looked smart, stain-free and scruff-free!!
Even the smallest, most trivia things in life that can bring joy and a smile!!
And if you thought tea-towels were for only drying dishes, how wrong you are:

Easy apron Wrap ice and break Line your tea tray Protect your tender hands  Dry fresh greens Create a cushion Give as gifts Wrap as gift wrap Line your bread basket to keep bread hot As a napkin or table cloth As a placemat or table runner Wrap a wine bottle To stabilise a mixing bowl Drying glasses - stand on a tea-towel to soak up the water Line shelves inside cabinets Frame-able art
And if you are a boy (my brothers) then you use them to "flick" your s…

He will never leave us

What a sad start to the bushfire season - not that is really is fire season yet as it is only mid October and its another month and half until summer arrives. 
Unfortunately many parts of New South Wales are timber dry and it doesn't take much for a fire to start, something as simple as a cigarette butt tossed out of the window can bring such heartbreak to families. 
Bush fires in Australia are unforgiving and ruthless, they can be unpredictable and destroy everything in their path. They can burn for days, out of control and whilst our fire-fighters do all they can to save lives and property. I grow up understanding the dangers of bush fires and the cost of living in a rural environment surrounded by trees.  Whilst it is beautiful it can be destroyed in a moment.
In the last few days, many families have lost their homes and everything they owned with hundreds of houses destroyed or damaged.  The life they had a week ago has changed by this tragedy. It shows how quickly we can go …

Book Review: Family secrets (and some Victorian art)

I thought I would do something a little different this Friday, combine a book review with some Victorian art.
I have finished reading the most fascinating book called Family Secrets: Living with shame from the Victorians to the present day by Deborah Cohen (published 2013).  I would highly recommend this book to anyone interesting in the social history of Great Britain from the Victorian era onwards. It is not hard read but it is full of the most intriguing stories of what these families were willing to do to hide their secrets.  I will admit I did struggle to put this book down!!
We currently live in a society with very few secrets -- where the unmarried girl next door has a baby and everyone knows about it -- when the couple down the street gets divorced, no one is really surprised -- when a gay couple move in together, its accepted as normal. We gossip about these things, they appear on Facebook, in magazines, on TV (in reality shows) and most accept them as the norm with no d…

Drafting a skirt or top

I have just discovered a great blog (I think its pretty good).
I have been on the hunt for sewing blogs, the sort that give practical advice on how to make basic garments, not those making couture that is way out of my league!  Shannon Sorensen Designs is one such blog and I have attached two really useful links for anyone wanting to draft their own patterns. 

Drafting straight skirt pattern:

Drafting your own top:

And whilst I was wandering about I came across this nice top and its free pattern. I will certainly give this one a go - I have printed off my pattern, just need to assemble it!!:

Check out the advice for "tummy bulge" in this old article - its worth a read!!!  

300 sandwiches

I am not sure if you read the story in the newspaper the other week about a young American woman making 300 sandwiches for her boyfriend. Here is a snippet:
One woman is using a tried and tested formula — food — to convince her boyfriend to put a ring on it. Stephanie Smith, a reporter for The New York Post, started a blog documenting her quest to woo her boyfriend Eric with delicious bread and meat creations.  “Sandwiches are love,” he says. “Especially when you make them. You can’t get a sandwich with love from the deli.” One lazy summer afternoon just over a year ago, I finally gave in. I assembled turkey and Swiss on toasted wheat bread. I spread Dijon mustard generously on both bread slices, and I made sure the lettuce was perfectly in line with the neatly stacked turkey slices. Eric devoured the sandwich as if it were a five-star meal, diving in with large, eager bites. “Babes, this is delicious!” he exclaimed. As he finished that last bite, he made an unexpected declaration of how …

Ten foods to avoid & National Baking Week

Below is a list of foods that nutritionists suggest you stay away from (source), I have to agree:
White breadSoft drinksBanana bread (homemade may be much better)Cheese-flavoured snacks (I would also include chips)LolliesChocolate nut spreadsFruit barsDoughnutsRice snacksMargarine I can think of a few more to add:
any processed food than contains artificial colours, flavourings or other questionable ingredients (if you can say or spell them, then avoid them!!).shop bought cakes and bisuuits - make your own, at least you know what is in each bit. cheap chocolate - if you are going to eat chocolate, spend more for quality What else would you add to the "no" list?
I am finding more and more of my friends are skipping these processed foods and cooking from scratch. As my friend said to me the other day "if granny didn't eat it, then we shouldn't". I have to agree with her - however I don't think my granny ate feta cheese or goats cheese or chorizo sausage li…

Simple things in life

Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best.
The smell of freshly cooked bread is so good.  

Who has a really good bread roll recipe?
This is the recipe I used however I doubled the recipe as it makes hardly any:

Art Friday: Harold Anderson

Artist: Harold Anderson 1894 - 1973
American painter and illustrator

Quick and yummy evening meal: Free-form chicken pie

One of my favourite recipe websites is, the recipes are generally easy to make with ingredients that I usually have in my cupboard.  This week I came across a really great idea for a 'free-form" pie (see picture above) that was very quick and easy to make - even the children could help with this one.
This particular recipe is Chicken, Chorizo and Potato Pie, however you could really do as you please. I didn't add the potatoes, instead I cooked some mushrooms. I made a cheesy b├ęchamel sauce, which I used to covered the chicken mix with (once in the pastry dish), sprinkled fresh sourdough breadcrumbs and baked in individual pie dishes. I used individual pie dishes as it was easier and meant I could customised the pies to suit each of us -  each person can make their own pie they way they want it!!
I don't make my own puff pastry - it is one thing I do buy as its so much easier - I might give it a go one day.

400g cream delight potatoes, peeled,…