Monday, January 21, 2019

Menu planning - Vegan recipes

I have a daughter in law who cannot eat eggs or milk, so am always on the lookout for recipes that I can use when she is coming around. On Saturday we had 7 people to dinner, and I cooked cassoulet again.  That is fast becoming a favourite meal for a crowd.  I serve it in my big bessamer pot, and I like to make it in advance so the flavours can meld as it simmers slowly on the stove.  This means I am not rushing around preparing dinner at the last minute.  Alongside I served a big salad with spinach and a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers,red onion and chick peas marinaded in a lemony olive oil dressing.   Of course there is bread to mop up the juices!  Oh!  and bubbly (not French my budget doesnt run to that,)  and French red wine. 
For dessert I had to do a bit of research and planning.  I have had this recipe for vegan chocolate cake on my evernote feed for quite some time, and eventually tried it, and it is a keeper!
I did of course mess with the recipe a bit.  I couldn't find applesauce so took some pears canned in their own juice, drained them and mashed them.  I also used canola oil, instead of coconut, and used 1 cup of sugar instead of  1/13 cup.  OH!  and I also made half the frosting, didn't add the chocolate chips, and that was plenty!   That recipe is a keeper.
Since I had the oven on, and you can always have more dessert, and I had just opened a can of chickpeas for the salad I decided to try cooking with aquafaba.  For the uninitiated, this is simply the liquid from a  can of chickpeas, and you will not believe it, but it whips just like eggwhite.
That in turn became those pillowy little cookies. :)  Once again I didnt add chocolate chips, because quite honestly in my little town you are not going to get vegan chocolate chips, and anyway I think these traditionally only contain nuts.   If you want to try the recipe it is here.
Next week the menu will be super healthy!  (Oh there is one birthday, so maybe not!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Living the gentle domestic life part 2 - domesticity

This week in our book study over at Jenny's blog she is talking about  domesticity which is a bit different from the normal drudgery of cleaning, and keeping house.  That stuff still does need to be done, but domesticity seems to be the cherry on the top, the extra little bits that make a house a home.
Mostly this is handed down from generation to generation, and I especially remember my great Aunty Ellen.  She taught me to crochet when I was about eight - not with wool and a big hook, but with thread, a tiny hook, and  a complicated doily pattern!  Later she taught me tatting, which I think not many people have the privilege of knowing.   She lived a thousand miles away, and we used to go down to the coast once a year at Christmas.  I loved how she didn't treat me like a child, but a fellow crafter. I still use her shortbread recipe to this day. 

 When my girls were little and I was sewing, they would pick up the scraps and "design"  an outfit for one of their dolls.  Honestly their dolls had more changes of clothes than they did!  Now I have the joy of introducing crafts to my grandchildren.  These days I think it is even more important to pass these gentle domestic arts on.  They dont have to be expensive, using preloved fabrics and buying thread from the thrift store somehow takes these crafts back to the way they used to be done.
I had enough left over from the binding of my quilt to make a little dress for my grand daughter in America.  Her Mom always talks about the fond memories she has of a favourite dress I made her. The pocket had a little applique of a deck chair and a palm tree.  I have decided that this little pink dress needs a special pocket, so am embroidering a butterfly!  I am hoping to find a little butterfly toy that will fit inside the pocket.

I hope that down the road she will remember her little pink dress with an embroidered butterfly pocket!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Menu planning

We have my stepson staying with us this week, and I thought I had better get a bit organised with my menu plan.    What  I normally do is write down on the left hand side of the page a few dinners that I would like to cook for the week, and then on the right side of the page write the ingredients I need (after checking what I have on hand).  Breakfast and lunches are normally leftovers or regular rotation, so certain things are purchased every week.  I have being doing intermittent fasting for about 6 months now, so each day is only two meals.  Lunch and dinner over the weekends, and then breakfast and lunch during the week.  I thought I had better do a bit of baking to have some things on hand.  A staple growing up was my Moms crunchies, and they changed over the years to a healthier option.  Every time I make the recipe I change a few things as I use up whatever is on hand. This time they are walnut and date based.

Sunday: Roast chicken and vegetables, and I made stock with the bones for Saturdays Cassoulet.
Monday :  Roast vegetables with some leftover chicken.
Prep day: Extra roasted vegetables to go with salads for the week.   I chop a bowl of kale and massage himalayan salt into it.  This really softens the leaves, and they are used with roast veggies for salad, and the leaves sit quite happily in the fridge for days. Hummus or another protein is normally added.
Ham and  cauliflower pots, these are kept in the freezer to be taken out for lunches with a salad as needed.  This is a tasty way to use up the christmas ham. Here is the recipe.

Tuesday:  Pizza out.
Wednesday:  Hubby will make his beef curry, with lots of vegetables added.
Thursday:  Pork chops with potatoes, I like those low carb ones, and parsley (and of course butter) with a mixed salad.
Friday: Dinner out with family
Saturday:  Cassoulet, a little reminder of my lovely french holiday this summer.  This will be cooked in my big bessemer pot which will feed a crowd. 

Do you meal plan?  Do you have  a fairly loose arrangement like I do?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Living the gentle domestic life linkup

The Link up party has started, and I think this is going to be fun. I remember one year I read Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  I read it every day for about three years.  Every year I felt that I got something new out of that book.  She talked about finding the joy in everyday things. At that stage that is what I needed, right now the gentle art of domesticity sounds exactly what I need!  Isn't it wonderful when the right things show up at the right time?

 I like to write down something I am grateful for in a journal every night before I go to bed.  I love the fact that this helps me to go to sleep thinking about my good life, because even in the deepest, darkest days, there is good to be found.
Doing things around my home is something that gives me great pleasure, and I have just had two weeks off work when I had time to potter around, clean the fridge, clean the windows and window screens!   I sorted through some cupboards, washed walls and curtains. I tidied up the garden a bit, picked some flowers,  and shared home baked goodies with friends.  I also did a little bit of just sitting and reading, and just sitting.

 This gorgeous flower will turn into the most delicious deep red dragonfruit.
 Here is the fruit with pineapple and pawpaw, which I also grow here in my little garden.
 I am so blessed to live here in the tropics (North Queensland) and enjoy such exotic fare.

I have been doing some little embroidery squares in the evenings and when we babysat the grand kids my 11 year old grandson expressed an interest in making something.  He embroidered "game over"  in black on a white pillow which he sewed and stuffed all by himself.   I love to pass on what I know, as so many handcrafts are being forgotten. I am so blessed to have had lessons from others along the way.  In her blog this week, Jenny talked about being afraid to start quilting because of the fear of not being perfect.  I think that every time you sew love into the stitches that article could not be more perfect!  This quilt was made from the pieces of painted fabric my Mom had made, and it now sits on my daughters bed in Europe.  What better way to share memories?

I love the table runner pattern that Jenny has shared - one day when I am looking for a new project I can pull it out and begin stitching.
Hello to all  on the link up, I look forward to getting to know you as the year progresses.
~ Gillian

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Blog inspiration and blog love

I see I am not alone!  many other bloggers seem to have been mulling over their blogs.  I get such an awful lot of pleasure out of reading other blogs and connecting with like minded people.   I wondered if I should be trying to make some money out of my blog, then did a free course and realized -
NO! I dont want to have pop ups and invasive questions littering my sacred space!  .
I love to share what I do to inspire others, as I in turn get inspiration.  I have got some lovely free patterns for embroidery squares.  My daughter and I are each doing squares in the evenings and then next time I visit her in America I will sew them together into a quilt.   A quilt that spans the miles.

I do like it when I get a few free seeds, and can even offer a giveaway or two as I did before Christmas.   At one stage I thought I might start blogging more, and even made a list of subjects that I would blog about -   The list will stay in my mind though, as these are things I enjoy and would love to share.   I am not sure if I will head them as such, but these are all areas that interest me and I will be posting on in the future.
 1. Healthy lifestyle
2. Growing organic vegetables for a better world
 3. Cooking at home for health and wealth
4. Crafting for personal pleasure
5. Reading for enjoyment
6. Helpful links
I hand quilted around all these animals and made a quilt for the new baby granddaughter on her way!  I am loving doing hand sewing in the evenings, although I am thinking I might need a better light! 

I have  readers that I have followed for years, through ups and downs and I feel they are friends.  I never actually want my blog to get too big, that I dont immediately connect with whoever is commenting.   Here are some of the inspiring blogs that I follow:

 I like the idea of following along with a theme, and this year I am looking forward to
Jenny's  simple domesticity book study on her lovely blog Elephantz .  I dont have the book, and neither does my library, but might try and get them to order it in for me. 

Tracy at Sunny Corner Farm has started blogging again, and I am pleased about that.  Years ago I had a quilt squares swap and she sent me a wonderful fabric with farm animals on it.  In fact I used it to make a page on the busy book I made for my grandsons. busy book
She mentioned a friend of hers that has started blogging again, and I have started to follow, mainly I think because I love the name of her blog.

Amy at Love made my home.  A lot of her comments said they missed the get-togethers and sharing that used to be a part of blogging. A lot of those groups have fallen by the wayside, so maybe can be resurrected.  I think too that blogging has waves, at one time all I blogged about was gardening, then I included a bit of crafts, then a bit of cooking, and at every turn I discovered other like minded people all over the world. 

I think I will regularly start to share blogs from now on and if we all do that, I am sure will re-discover the support, creativity and blog love that we clearly all miss when we step away from it. If you have any blogs I might like, please share them in the comments. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Top echo bloggers to follow - that is me!

I just received an e-mail saying that I had been chosen as one of the top sustainable echo bloggers to follow!  This award is put out by Future Super, an ethical super fund.  They are not paying me anything to post this, but I feel that any way that we can help our fragile world is worth investigating. It got me thinking about what I actually do to live a sustainable life, and what I plan to do in the future.
This is a big one I feel, and one where we can each make such a difference.  Composting sequesters carbon into the soil, and not only does it do that, it enriches the soil so that the vegetables we grow are more nutritious. I went and got a free load of mulch from our local tip to put on top of the hugelkulture raised bed.  There is a good layer of wet newspaper under that.  That will break down over the wet season and be ready to plant out in a couple of months.

In my climate pawpaws grow up everywhere, and an old Italian neighbour once showed me how to tell by the roots which plants are female.  The one in the front has a good strong tap root and is a  male plant. I have one male in the garden so he went into the compost bin and she was planted out to bear fruit!  Growing fruit and vegetables acclimatized to your garden is the best way to ensure that you will get a good harvest, so collecting your own seeds, and growing plants that come up from the compost makes a lot of sense.  I do try to grow as great a variety as I can to get as much diversity as I can though, so am always trying new things. 

I am not so keen on filling up my recycle bin every fortnight as I am not entirely sure that it is all being properly recycled.  A better way is to see if I can find another way to give the product a longer  life while it is in my hands.  The few plastic containers that I inevitably end up with get re-used to grow things in, or to store things in.  I have not been able to never buy things in plastic, but they sure don't get thrown into the re-cycle bin after one use.

Bits of fabric are used to make tote bags and we have slipped right into the habit of using our own bags when shopping. These bags made from scraps are pretty and useful! 

This year I am going to make more of an effort not to bring plastic into the household.  What are your tips to become more echo savvy this year?

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Christmas giveaway!

My very favourite seed company has this wonderful Christmas gift idea. Vegetable, Herb or Flower seeds all in little Christmas packages.  How cool is that!
Christmas seed bundles

The bundles of ten seed packages are 25.00 each (with free shipping Australia wide.) - you can gift the bunch, or slip each one into a Christmas card.  As you will know from my last post I love to have little extras to slip into my Christmas cards.  

I have had great success with their seeds, when you get 10 seeds, you get ten plants.  believe me, it doesn't always work like that!  These little lettuces came up from a lettuce I grew last year!  Called black seeded lettuce they have become one of my favorites, especially now that they seem to have made themselves at home and reproducing!
The same with my rocket. - excuse the leaves, we just had the remnants of a cyclone come through, so the entire garden is covered with fallen leaves!  Oh well it just adds to the mulch!

You can rest assured that you are getting quality seeds as  they are Heirloom. open pollinated, non-hybrid and non GMO with no chemical treatments.
I like to grow microgreens like this bok choy at this time of year as I can harvest them before the bugs find them!  The seed collection has a wide range of microgreen seeds at really good prices.

The seed collection have kindly offered one of my readers a Christmas bundle of their choice.

To get your order in time to post out before Christmas I will have to draw the giveaway on the 16th December.  Sorry this is only open to those with an Australian address because of customs issues.

Comment here telling me about your favourite vegetable to grow, and you will be in the draw to win.   I will do the draw the old fashioned way, drawing the winners name from a hat.  Just because!  Make sure your comment has a way I can contact you!
Good luck! 

Disclaimer:  The seed collection is providing me with my very own Christmas bundle!  My observations and thoughts on this company are entirely my own. 


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
e-mail me at