Monday, August 3, 2020

Around here

How is everyone going these days?  Covid-19 is so scary and out of control world wide even though here in Australia we are doing okay.  Sadly Victoria is not doing okay [better than the rest of the world] however not good based on the rest of the states in Australia.  They are now in Level 4 Lockdown for a further 6 weeks and many in aged care have got Covid-19 which will result in many more deaths and families loosing loved ones.  When I started posted the stats for Covid-19 back on the 25th March, 2020 those numbers seemed high to me however if you look at the numbers now it is almost unimaginable.  If only the outbreak had been contained in the first place the world would not be suffering physically, emotionally and financially.  It's like your worst horror movie being played out in real life.

Wednesday 25-03-2020        World Wide Cases         417,348                Deaths      18,596
Thursday     02-04-2020        World Wide Cases         936,886                Deaths      47,264
Monday       03-08-2020        World Wide Cases    18,234,936                Deaths    692,794

Wednesday 25-03-2020        Australian Cases               2,144                Deaths - not sure didn't look
Thursday     02-04-2020        Australian Cases               5,124                Deaths          24
Monday       03-08-2020        Australian Cases             17,936                Deaths        208

Things were contained in Australia up until the 23rd June, 2020 when Melbourne exploded with community based transfer as a result of the Hotel Quarantine and the less than reputable security guards who were manning the hotel guests.  Australia had 7,474 cases and 102 deaths at that stage, and now it has bumped up to 17,936 cases and 208 deaths and counting.
New South Wales started to have community outbreak as a result of infected people from Victoria travelling through New South Wales.  Queensland had been doing really well until three girls bought the virus back from Melbourne and entered Queensland under deceptive and misleading information resulting in our first community outbreaks last week.  The Health Department are onto it straight away however these people went to work, restaurants, shopping centres, cafes etc. in 11 different suburbs in Brisbane so next week is critical for Queensland.  

Luckily for us we are on the Northside of Brisbane and not the Southside of Brisbane where this break out occurred however I'm more alert at the moment than usual.  World wide it's so hard to think of where things will be in 6 months time.  I feel safe in Australia however both the Victoria, New South Wales and now the latest Queensland issue all could have been prevented which is the worst thing about it.  Stay safe everyone and here's hoping Victorians get through and break this cycle.  I have relatives in Melbourne and it's been a very long year for them all.

Now onto some brighter more fun things like food here's what's been happening at our place lately. 

Next time you have a movie night or just want to indulge in this Caramel Popcorn I can highly recommend it as it only took 10 minutes and it was delicious.  Using corn kernels from the bulk food store and butter and golden syrup to make the caramel and enjoying this snack with no preservatives and chemicals.  Just make sure you cook the caramel for the time so that it becomes sticky and sticks to the popcorn.  The recipe is on the Additive Free Lifestyle website.

Zucchini slice for dinner and school lunches.

Dinner party and Pictionary Night.

Pictionary night...lots of laughs and the kids beat the adults twice around the board.

First time made this particular Chocolate Cake recipe.

Below is how it ended up shortly after cutting it.  Yes I do make flops...not very often however this was as a result of the mixture went into one tin when I should have baked two halves instead.  The cake was still hot when I put the icing on as it was for afternoon tea and to be honest this cake had way too many eggs, too much sugar and way too much butter in the cake and the icing so I won't be making this one again.  I've listed our family favourite Chocolate Cake recipe below.

I personally love this chocolate cake recipe which you put all the ingredients in any order and mix it together.  Then you can put the mixture into what ever tins you want.  One cake tin and muffin tin or two cake tins or all muffins.  This recipe freezes really well and doesn't need icing you can just sprinkle some icing sugar over the top.  You can also make it in a loaf tin and make slices for the freezer.

I made this "Soft Scrub Cleaning Paste" and used it on my pan after making Zucchini Slice as it always gets stuff stuck to it after cooking and nothing has been able to get it off until now.

Pan with cooked edges and some soft scrub paste.

Rubbing the pan with a rag and the paste I was able to get all the marks off which I was amazed at. 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Around here

We have had some lovely rain over the last week and it's nice to be inside nice and cozy.  Over the past 7 days I participated in the Additive Free Lifestyle 7 day challenge again which was a great reminder of how far we have come and a reminder of why it's important for your health and well being.  I've had a big cook up to get organized for the week ahead.

One thing I need to do is get stuck into the veggie garden as I've neglected it while I sorted and de-cluttered my garage which took a very long time.  Selling things to make some money and donating lots of things to charity as well.  It was a huge job and I'm so glad it's done now that's for sure.

Here's a few photos from our week.

Muesli Slice for school lunch boxes.

Made a batch of mayo and coleslaw dressing using this recipe.

Made this slow cooker pork recipe from Additive Free Lifestyle blog.

Pork in the slow cooker smells amazing.

Made a batch of this stock paste from Additive Free Lifestyle blog.

Recycling my Aldi Maple Syrup bottle as it has a pourer on the lid and put my home made tomato sauce in it using this recipe from Additive Free Lifestyle blog.

Home made biscuits using this recipe.  I love this recipe because you can make jam drops or any type of topping on your biscuits or even freeze half the dough to cook later on.  These go straight into the freezer.

OMG this Sweet and Sour Chicken Meatball recipe is AMAZING.  I would just use chicken pieces next time as meatballs take time and then when I eat them I cut them in half anyway so you could use this recipe and put in chicken breast or thigh fillets or pork.  It was so quick and easy and the smell and flavour was incredible.

I don't buy any packet mixes any more however the one take away that is my favourite that we only have about 3 times a year is Panang Chicken.  This sachet is all herbs and spices and no additives or preservatives so it's a good one.  They have a variety of sachets however it's the Panang Chicken that I made and it was great.  These are from Woolworths and handy to have it in the cupboard knowing it's safe and has no nasties in it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Around here

During the school holidays we went strawberry picking which was great and we especially love the strawberry ice cream we have while we are there.  It's not a big outing in that we are only there for about an hour and it's an hour's drive there and an hour's drive back.  I can say that the strawberries were delicious and I made a pavlova and decorated it with fresh strawberries for our family BBQ.

We also bought some party lights from Bunnings and put them up and they look great and now the outdoor entertainment area has a nice festive appeal.  These I bought plug into my outdoor power point however there are lots of different solar lights as well if you don't have access to power.

Tracey & Jo from Additive Free Lifestyle are currently running their "beginners guide to going additive free 7 day challenge" this week and even though I did this May last year it's a great reminder to keep going.  Food companies do get away with a lot of things and try and trick us into thinking things are healthy.  Have you read this blog post about "flavour vs natural flavour"? 

This is a link to my blog post when I did the 7 day challenge which has links to some podcasts.

Today's topic was on caramel and it's not good for you and it's in lots of things.  I went through the sauces I have in the cupboard and pulled these out to throw away which either has nasty preservatives or caramel.  To be honest I only the Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Oyster sauce.

I have been making my own Tomato Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Pizza Sauce and Sweet Chilli Sauce since May last year.  I believe Melrose brand has some better options and Ceres Organics.  It's just a matter of double checking labels which I normally do however as I make most of my sauces now there is less to read. 

If you get a chance to listen to the podcasts listed above in the blog post from last year they are worth your while.  Hope everyone has a good week.

I made some condensed milk this afternoon for the first time in my Thermomix which took less than 3 minutes to make and OMG it's delicious.  Tomorrow I'm going make this ice cream and I thought I would have a go at making condensed milk myself as it's so easy.  I have used brown sugar so that's why mine looks brown rather than cream as you get in the tins.  I also used salted butter as that's all I had on hand and it's fine.  The original recipe calls for unsalted butter and can be found on Sophia's Kitchen YouTube channel.

I also like to have the recipe on my blog so here it is:-

50gms unsalted butter [I only had salted so used that]
125gms water
200gms brown sugar
110gms whole milk powder

Place butter, water and brown sugar in Thermomix bowl and heat on Varoma temp for 2.5 minutes on speed 2.

Add the milk powder and blend for 30 seconds on speed 10.

Transfer into a sterilised jar and leave to cool before refrigerating.  You can keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  So quick and simple.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Around here - Lemon Meringue Pie

Last week I asked my friend if she had any spare lemons from her tree as I was going to make some lemon cordial.  I've never made my own cordial before however I wanted to give it ago.  Then a couple of days later I read Beth's latest blog post from on baking with lemons and apples and one of them was Lemon Meringue Pie.
I have made plenty of Lime Tarts in my life time and I think I've only ever made one lemon meringue pie and decided I was going to make one using my friends lemons.  It's one of those all day affairs, or should I say half day affair as you need to make the pastry first then let it cool.  Next you make the lemon filling and fill the pie and then put it into the fridge for 3 hours,  Lastly you make the meringue and then bake in the oven for 5 minutes or so.  Overall the time to make each individual thing is no longer than 15 minutes each however it's the time in between that makes up most of it.

I can say it was worth the effort as it was simply delicious.  Beth's recipe uses condensed milk as does my Lime Tart recipe however I used the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe which is in my TM31 Thermomix recipe book.  You could use a food processor to make your pastry and do your lemon filling on the stove top however the following recipe is the Thermomix one.  I found this recipe for you to make the lemon filling on the stove top if you don't have a Thermomix.


200gms Plain Flour
100gms Butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon of salt
50-60ml water, chilled

Preheat oven to 200-220 degrees. [400F]
Place flour, butter and salt into TM bowl and mix for about 10 seconds on speed 6 until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Set dial to closed lid position.

Add water and knead for 10-20 seconds on interval speed [wheat icon] to from dough.

Add a little more water if necessary to bind.

Turn mixture onto floured board and knead lightly.

Wrap in cling wrap and put in refrigerator for about 15 minutes before rolling out to your desired pie dish size.

Place onto pie dish and trim overhang to 1cm and turn under flush with rim.  Scallop the edge with an inverted teaspoon, pressing down hard for each cut to form the design.  Prick bottom of pastry with fork.  Place baking paper and pie weights over your pie or you could use rice instead to weight it down.

Bake in pre-heated hot oven [200-220 degrees] for 8-12 minutes until golden brown and then allow to cool.

TIPS: Pastry shell will shrink after it cooks and also make sure all sides of pie crust is same height so filling doesn't leak out the sides.  The pie shell needs to be cooled completely before you start making the lemon filling.

1 tablespoon of grated lemon rind [I used a micro plane]
300gms sugar
70gms cornflour
pinch of salt
400gms water
4 eggs - room temperature - separated [put egg yolks in one bowl & whites in another]
1/2 cup lemon juice [just a touch under don't fill to top] [or use TM cup/lid and fill]
60gms butter


Place grated lemon rind, sugar, cornflour, salt, water and egg yolks into the TM bowl and cook for 10 minutes at 90 degrees on speed 4 until thickened.

Add lemon juice and butter through hole in lid and mix for 1 minute on speed 4.

Pour into cooled pastry shell and cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.

TIP the lemon filling will set immediately like jelly so you can place your cling wrap [plastic wrap] over the pie.  I was thinking it would be like liquid and the cling wrap would stick to it however that's not the case.  


4 egg whites [which was separated earlier on due to lemon filling]
1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
100gms icing sugar


Insert "Butterfly" into Thermomix and place egg whites and Cream of Tartar into TM bowl.

Beat without the MC in place for 3-5 minutes at 50 degrees on speed 4 until stiff peaks form.

Add icing sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time through the hole in the lid with the blades rotating on speed 2-3. Take at least 2-3 minutes to incorporate the icing sugar.

Spread the meringue over the entire top of the lemon filling to the pastry edge.

Bake in hot oven for 3-5 minutes until meringue starts to colour slightly.

TIP - I baked my meringue for 5-8 minutes in my oven - just keep an eye on it.  The top is a soft meringue and not like a pavlova so it's not crunchy it's more like marshmallow.

I can highly recommend you make this as it's delicious and worth the effort.  

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Around here - Tiny House Video

I've mentioned before that I love Bryce from New Zealand's "Living Big in a Tiny House" YouTube channel and I watched this video yesterday of this tiny house in NZ with an add on deck and spare room.  This design is incredible and I love that she and her daughter have their own bedroom vs a loft where you are crawling on your knees.  Everything in this tiny home has been thought of carefully and it has a huge big comfy couch with space around it, another thing that can easily be comprised in a tiny house.  This video runs for 22 minutes and you won't want to miss one little bit so grab a coffee and sit and watch it. 

What a wonderful home for her and her 7 year old daughter to live in, not to mention the amazing location.  I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Around here

We've had a little bit of rain this week which has been lovely and we've also had some hot nights for June as well.  I think summer will be here before we know it.  Only one more week of Term 2 until the school holiday and it's strawberry picking time so we are going to go to one of the strawberry farms on the holidays.  The strawberries are expensive, however you can't get much fresher when you pick them yourself and I always consider this as an experience and an outing as well as purchasing the strawberries.  My kids also love the fresh strawberry ice cream and that's all they are talking about at the moment when I mention we are going to the strawberry farm.

This was our first time strawberry picking back in 2014 when the kids were little.  The strawberry industry did it tough in 2018 with most of the crops having to be destroyed costing strawberry growers $12M in losses.  It was absolutely heartbreaking for the growers and the customers.

Here's a few photos from our week.

Not much growing in the garden however I harvested this bowl of cherry tomatoes.
This is the Orange Trumpet Plant which flowers May/June although it was a bit late this year.

Tomato ready to be picked.

Some more tomatoes ready to be picked.

The Trumpet Vine.

Home made baked beans.  If you've never made them before I urge to you make this recipe so yummy.

Salmon noodle dish which was quite delicious.

Home made chocolate slice.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Around here - Sheppard - Thank You

I was looking at this beautiful video clip of Brisbane's Band "Sheppard" again this week and I thought I would post it here.  The 3 siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard are all in the band and you might know of one of their most famous songs called "Geronimo".  They have all been in ISO together in Brisbane and have been writing and recording songs at home.

On May 8th ahead of Mother's Day the band released the song "Thank You".  Written as a song of gratitude for their amazing Mum Linda and for all the other incredible, generous, selfless, beautiful, strong, loving, super hero Mum's around the world.  Raising a human probably the hardest job there is [and you don't even get paid?] so to all the wonderful Mother's - THANK YOU?

The band said "In May 2020, while planet Earth was locked down during Covid-19 pandemic, making music videos was challenging.  We asked our fans to send in clips of themselves spending time with their Mothers/kids for this music video.  Thanks to everyone who sent in footage.  This one is for our beautiful Mums'.  Happy Mother's Day!"  The above words were part of this article.

I loved the nostalgia feel to the clip and that fans were involved and the song is beautiful.

Here are the words to the song "THANK YOU"

Thank You
When I couldn't fall asleep
You'd read to me
And lay right there at my side
If I grazed a knee
From climbing trees
You'd comfort me as I cried
Made my lunches every day
And though you were running late
You would walk me all the way to school
Building castles out of sand
Way too young to understand
That life was easy all because of you
So I wanna thank you
For making me half as good as you
And as I get older
I understand what I put you through
I misbehaved, I made mistakes
But you never turned away
So I wanna thank you
For all that you do
For all that you do
As a teen, I lied
Ignored advice
Pretended I didn't care
I should let you know
It was all a show
I loved you more than I shared
I put your patience to the test
But you always did your best
You were tough but you...