Monday, August 30, 2021

Around here - on hold

In 2021 good old customer service and speaking to someone seems a really challenging thing to do these days.  We used to think it was only the Government Departments that you had to wait a minimum of an hour on hold to speak to them however not so.  I do feel sorry for people at the other end of the phone too however wait times between 30 minutes and one hour are the norm for anything you want to do.  As an example of recent phone calls I've had to make:-

ANZ - 1 hour on hold and the person at the other end was not in Australia, it couldn't be resolved and I was told to ring back, we are open until 11pm.  It's not the opening time until 11pm, it's the one hour wait to speak to someone.

Qantas - Had to wait for a call back in the queue between 1-2 hours, then on the phone for one hour only to be transferred to another department and on hold for 1.5 hours so a 2.5 hour phone call and they were in South Africa.

Dodo - 47 minutes.

In order to make your phone calls you have to get in the headspace that you are going to waste at least an hour before you can speak to someone and have your phone on speaker while you attempt to do something else.

We constantly hear that due to Covid there are less people to answer phones however this is something that gets done from anywhere in the world, surely it can be done in Australia, with Australian employees, Australian time zones in Australian homes that are in lockdown.

There's not much we can do about it and it's extremely frustrating however it's ridiculous at the same time.

I'm so over phone calls and wait times to get to speak to someone so hopefully I won't have to make any other phone calls this week.

Here's a picture of the clover in my backyard for some calming effects.  

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Around here - Home Made Non-Alcoholic Ginger Beer

A few weeks ago I was reading Dancing with Frogs blog post about making Ginger Beer and low and behold she linked back to the fabulous Rhonda from Down to Earth's recipe.  Since I had so much fun mastering my sourdough bread I thought I would give this a try.  I made the non-alcoholic version using this blog post of Rhonda's.

Mine took about 11 days until I thought it was ready to squeeze out and add the water, sugar and lemon juice to it.  It was actually a really fun experiment and I have a glass of ginger beer sitting next to me right now.  Back in the day there wouldn't have been any soft drinks and supermarkets and it was more than likely how it was made.  All you need to start off your ginger beer plant is some water [I boiled the kettle and then let the water cool down], ground ginger and sugar.  You can use real ginger however if you use ground ginger it is supposed to taste more like the bottled stuff that you buy so I thought I would start with that version the first time.

You can read Rhonda's detailed post how to make it however a brief summary is as follows:-


  • Put 375ml [1.5 cups] of water in a glass jug or bowl.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.

STIR TOGETHER and leave uncovered on the bench.  At night just place a cloth on top and remove in the morning. 

DAY 2-7 [in my case I continued on to DAY 11] each day do the following:-

  • Add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.

STIR TOGETHER and leave uncovered on the bench.  At night just place a cloth on top and remove in the morning.

DAY 11

  • Add 2 teaspoons of ground ginger.
  • Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.

STIR TOGETHER and leave for a while on the bench.  Come back in an hour or so and then you will want to strain the liquid through a cloth into another jug underneath.  Let it strain by itself for a bit however you will need to get a spoon and stir the mixture around as it's quite think and will prevent the liquid flowing through easily into the jug below.  I ended up pulling the cloth tight at the top and twisting it and then squeezing by hand all the liquid through the cloth until only the dry mixture was left inside the cloth.  You can put this dry mixture into a container and this is called the "ginger plant" [something like a sourdough starter] you can start another mix of ginger beer using this dry mix.  The second time making it using the ginger plant it should be faster to ferment than the first time because you will be using the ginger plant you've just made.


Using the liquid you have just squeezed into a jug you will need to add the following to it:-

  • Four litres of water [boiled water cooled down]
  • 2-3 cups of sugar [I used 2.5 cups of sugar]
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.

I didn't quite know what to mix all of this in as I don't have large bowls that take 4 litres and luckily I had a container that could take 8.5 litres so I used that.  Once all of the mixture was in the big container I left it on the bench for a few days stirring it and had a chux cloth pegged to the top allowing air at the side as the cloth wasn't that big.  After a couple of days on the bench I then put the liquid into the empty cordial bottles with the lids off and left them for a day or so on the bench and then put them into the fridge.  NOTE:  You must use PLASTIC bottles as you don't want to have an explosion of glass if there is any build up of gases in the bottle.

I had fun making ginger beer and can add another string to my bow [ha ha].  I actually found this fermenting experiment fascinating.  Here's some pictures of the stages.

This is what the mix looks like to start off with.

This is ready with all the bubbles to strain out through a cloth.

This is the liquid and it's really thick so you need to stir it around to drain the liquid.

This is the dry mix that's left over now called a "ginger plant" which is your starter for your next batch.

This is the strained liquid with the water, sugar and lemon juice added.

This is after a few days in the large container with the bubbles.

Popped some of the ginger beer into plastic cordial bottles [must be plastic not glass].

Finally a glass of home made ginger beer ready to drink.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Around here

Around here we are in Week 7 of Term 3 and the teenagers are wearing masks to school in Queensland.  I think we will be wearing masks here for a bit longer and I guess with the protest march on the Qld/NSW border last weekend we may see some cases in Queensland in the next few weeks.

New South Wales and Victoria are still in a world of trouble with New South Wales recording their highest daily figure yesterday of 919 cases with a 30 year old Mum of 3 passing away overnight.  Her husband is now in hospital with Covid and I can only pray that he makes it so those kids have one parent.  It's so heart breaking and I don't know how the NSW cases are going to end to be honest.  Victoria was given the virus by NSW people [I believe] heading there when they were supposed to be in lockdown.  Only a couple of weeks ago [7 weeks into NSW lockdown] two girls flew to Melbourne who had Covid.   I don't understand how "stay at home orders" means getting on a plane and flying interstate whether you have Covid or not.  Today, the 26th August, 2021 there are 1,029 cases.

Grade 12 mock exams start with the count down to the end of the year with the Senior exams starting on the 25th October, 2021.  I still can't believe I will have my oldest graduating High School in 12 weeks time as I can still remember walking him into school for his first day of Prep back in 2009.  That means next year I'll have one at University and one in Grade 11.  Both have great part time jobs and have a great social life as well so my Mothering days look a lot different these days to 10 years ago when we moved into this house in June 2011.

I am still loving making my sourdough bread and I can't believe how easy this recipe and process is compared to many others and in particular starting with a cold oven as well.  I also made some tomato sauce using the recipe from Additive Free Lifestyle.  The girls [sisters] have just created a Gluten Free 4 week online course which is the pilot course which I subscribed too.   I'm not gluten intolerant however having extra recipes up my sleeve which are healthy is always good and the girls recipes are amazing.

I have also experimented with making home made ginger beer using Rhonda's recipe from Down to Earth blog which I'll write about in another post.

This lovely Kookaburra has been hanging around our backyard this week.

Home made Tomato Sauce using this recipe.

Home made non-alcoholic ginger beer in the making.

Home made pizza for dinner.

Healthy Brain Balls using Dr Libby's recipe.  This batch is half the recipe.

I dried some of my home grown oregano which ended up being a huge effort for a tiny bit of dried oregano however I have been wanting to do this for some time.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Around here - still in lockdown in Brisbane

Brisbane went into a 3 day lockdown last Saturday 31st July, 2021 at 4.00 pm which was extended during the week to 4.00 pm tomorrow, Sunday 8th August, 2021.  We had 13 new cases today and 12 were in lockdown so no community transmission and the 13th is being looked into however they aren't to worried about this but are investigating.  Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said there will be many more cases within the families that are in lockdown in the coming weeks however they will all be isolating at home.  If one family member gets Covid the whole family are in isolation, if a few days later another family member gets Covid, the isolation days start from zero again and so on and so on.  She is expecting the cases to be similar each day however none of them will be in the community which is the "key factor" here.  It appears Sydney still have a large number of their cases out in the community which then transmits to others in the community and like ground hog day, the next same happens the next day.  It's the people out in the community when they are infectious is the main problem and so far Brisbane has managed to keep that under control with the initial 3 day lockdown however we are not out of the woods by any means yet.

My next door neigbour's were at an exposure site on the weekend and have tested negative and are isolating for 14 days.  I got them onto sourdough making last week so they are perfecting the perfect loaf before sending me a pic.  I made them some Lemon & Chia Seed Muffins yesterday and dropped it off at their front door, came home and sent a text to say that afternoon tea had been delivered.

This this morning I was letting the chickens out and the neighbours were in their back yard so we were talking all things Covid and Veggies.  Our yard drops down about a metre and a half from their yard so they look down and I look up for our chats.  I was standing about 4 metres from the fence line anyway and they asked me if I wanted some ginger.  Last year I was gifted some of their home grown ginger and in fact I used some of it this week even though it had iced up in the freezer so I was delighted that I was gifted another lot of ginger.  They were gifted the first piece of ginger and planted it a few years ago and from the little plant they get about 1.5kgs or more of ginger which at $45 a kg and organically home grown is worth it's weight in gold.  The piece of ginger on the right with all the dirt and tail is for me to plant into my garden.  Don't you just love neighbours who grow things.

Speaking of shop bought ginger don't get caught up packaging.  I just jumped onto Coles website and found this below.  If you pick up a piece of ginger and buy it the price is $45.00 per kg however if you get some packaged it's nearly double the price at $86.67 per kg.  Honestly this is just outrageous.  The one on the left is priced at 120 gms and the one on the right packaged is 150 gms for the extra 30gms and the packet you are paying $7.60.  Okay, I've just re-read this and the one on the right is organic however so is the one my neighour popped in a bag and threw over the fence for me.

I normally purchase my spices from our local bulk food store and just get what I need however I had to buy some ground ginger from the supermarket and 50gms was $3.70 and I needed 100gms so it cost $7.40 and if I bought it from my bulk food store it was $1.50 for 50gms so a total of $3.00 vs $7.40 from the supermarket.  It pained me to pay more than double for the same item however because of lockdown I only popped into the supermarket at 8.30 pm at night when the shelves were restocked and hardly any people were shopping which I felt was the safest this week.  I am going to make non-alcoholic ginger beer for the first time using Rhonda's recipe.  You can use ground ginger or real ginger however apparently the ground ginger gives you the flavour that you would be used to drinking a commercial ginger beer so I'm giving this a go first and then next time might try with the fresh ginger that my neighbour gave me.  Stay tuned for this kitchen experiment.

I am LOVING making our sourdough bread and if we weren't in lockdown I would be making some for my family and delivering it to them as well.  Honestly it's the best process and recipe from Elaine Boddy in the UK and it works every time.

I made some marmalade jam this week however I boiled it for 5 minutes too long so it's not runny however it was my first attempt so I'll know better next time.  I did have some on my yummy sourdough bread and it tasted great, just not the consistency I was going for.  I used this recipe form Cornersmith in Sydney. 

One of the great things to arrive this week was three books I got for my early birthday present in 5 weeks time.  I ordered them early because they were having a 40% sale.  OMG the books, there are 3 of them and each one is AMAZING and you just want to make everything in it.  I've made the Tahini-Roasted Muesli this afternoon however it's very similar to one I make but with a few different ingredients.  If you are after a birthday present I can highly recommend them all, I can't pick which is the best so just get them all either now or order them for Christmas.  Given Sydney is in lockdown and will be for some time supporting this family business is also a very good deed.  This is Cornersmith Instagram account if you want to get some inspiration.

These books are beautiful and amazing and I can highly recommend they are 100% worth getting.  It would also be a lovely gift for someone you know who are into food.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Around here - Snap 3 day Lockdown - Brisbane

Around here it seems that one State or another is going into lockdown.  Brisbane, Queensland has been very lucky in the fact that we were in 2 months lock down April/May 2020 like the rest of Australia and from time to time we do a snap 3 day lockdown which isn't too bad.  About 4 weeks ago we went into a 3 day lockdown that extended to a 4 day lockdown however these short lockdowns seem manageable.  We've had a few this year and they are short and sharp and get us through safely.  Yesterday the 31st July we went into another 3 day lockdown from 4pm for 11 of our Local Government areas as follows:-
  • Brisbane City
  • Moreton Bay
  • Gold Coast
  • Ipswich
  • Lockyer Valley
  • Logan City
  • Noosa Shire
  • Redland City
  • Scenic Rim
  • Somerset
  • Sunshine Coast

This latest outbreak is due to a University Medical Student who tutored a student from Indooroopilly High School and then the whole family contracted Covid.  This is the very contagious "Delta" variant so it's way more serious than our April/May Australia wide lockdown from 2020.  There is no school on Monday, only students of essential workers and on-line learning will commence on Tuesday.   Masks must be worn by teachers and students from now on at school when they go back. [Updated - Queensland Health think the family gave Covid to the Medical Student who came to tutor - we are now in further lockdown until Sunday 8th August, 2020 at 4.00 pm.]

Personally I think this lockdown will extend to 2-4 weeks at the very least as this school had open days for parents and Universities and businesses came to talk to parents about careers so lots of outside people into the schools from all over Brisbane and those people would have gone back to work places and businesses.  The good thing is we have gone into lockdown about 2 days after the first case however there will be many more cases arising from this outbreak.  They believe the medical student caught it from returning overseas Covid patients who may have been in hospital.  They are still trying to work on that link in the middle.

Sydney are having a lot of trouble trying to manage this Delta variant and they have been in lockdown for 6 weeks now with another 3 to go before further decisions are made.  Their main problem is at the moment is the number of cases that have been in the community.  So if there are 200 cases and they are all at home in isolation, you have a chance to get on top of things however everyday half of the cases have been out and about in the community so it's just spreading like wild fire every day.

Whilst we lead fairly normal lives in Queensland, we have been mask wearing for the past 4 weeks because of NSW border hoppers however we have managed to not have any outbreaks.  At the end of the day, we are still in the middle of a PANDEMIC and sometimes we forget that because we generally lead pretty normal lives.  Just think, my kids, kids will be learning about this pandemic in their history lessons in years to come.  Learning about how people had to stay home, no one could travel overseas or for that matter Interstate as travel plans get interrupted all the time due to Interstate border closures.  So whilst we wish this pandemic would end...we, the whole world are still pretty much in the middle of it and not out the other side by any means so I'm not surprized life is not back to normal.  I have had my first AstraZeneca jab with the second one due in about four weeks time. 

So on with some photos of what's been happening at home.

This was my sourdough bread using the long oval banneton however I needed to do my cut deeper on this one.  The bread was delicious and we had it with minestrone soup for dinner.

Sourdough bread and minestrone soup for dinner.

This is one of our regular recipes from the Thermomix Book "Five Seed Bread"

These are the micro-herbs that I wrote about in this post.

Lovely gifted lemons from my friend who has a fabulous lemon and lime tree.

Multi-Grain Sourdough Bread - this one looks better than it was because I used a different recipe from another person and it was too dense so I am going to stick to Elaine Boddy's recipes.  I'm loving the rustic artisan look to my breads though that makes me very happy.