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Weekend reading


We're having a fairly mild winter so far with cool to cold nights and warm sunny days. It's ideal gardening weather. How is it where you live?  I haven't had much time for gardening this week because I've been writing the notes for my blogging course. Happily, I've finished that now and I'm hoping to get out into the garden this afternoon to tie up some wayward tomatoes and sweet peas and fertilise some of the vegetables.

I hope you've had a good week. I look forward to seeing you again on Monday.  😋

Cut power bills this winter
3 ways to turn herbs into cleaning products
How to make chilli powder
How to make passatta
How to make sauerkraut
Australians spend less on food but waste more of it than we did in the 1970s
The good, bad and ugly truth about your career after 50
How To Stop Losing Your Socks in the Wash
Vegan cashew icecream
Throwaway culture has spread packaging waste worldwide

Using traditional skills in a modern home

We all work in different ways in our homes.  Some of us have babies, children or elders to care for, some produce fresh food in the backyard, there are readers with cows, goats, chooks, ducks, geese and bees, many of us make laundry liquid and soap, we have candle makers, quilt makers and producers who, for necessity or love, make all sorts of things. We also have people who go out to work and who are part-time homemakers, doing their chores after their paid work and on weekends. There is no doubt about it, there is always something to do in our homes and homemakers, both full time and part time, are the ones who get things done.



The idea that is sometimes floated in magazines, or gossiped about, that homemakers sit around drinking coffee with their friends or watching TV is laughable. I'm sure there are some women, and men, who do that but it is not the group defined as homemakers.  We're busy creating the life we want to live and we do that by working at a thousand different things in our homes.



Here at our place, Hanno has been busy harvesting and juicing oranges and lemons. I've been picking herbs so I can freeze them before they die off during winter. We look after grandchildren. Hanno has deep cleaned the chook house and tidied the yard. I made up a ten litre batch of laundry liquid a few days ago. I've sown seeds, cleaned cupboards and washed curtains with Hanno's help. I don't know what we'll do tomorrow, but it will be very similar to what we did today. And yes, we sit down to rest and drink tea, we have conversations about work and life and then we carry on.


As I was thinking about all this yesterday, it occurred to me that it is the traditional work that most of us love doing. It's the harvesting, the slow cooking of food, the jam making, fermenting, soap making, sewing, mending and reusing, over and over again, what we can. They are our pleasures. If we can do our work using a traditional method, that is what we do. I can't say I've ever thought how wonderful it is to use a tea bag but I love making tea in a pot so that I can pour that properly brewed tea into cups standing on saucers. I've never celebrated paying through the teeth for a bottle of laundry liquid at the supermarket but I adore opening my plastic bucket to scoop our a tiny portion of homemade laundry liquid. Do you know of anyone who looks forward to a store-bought frozen meal heated in the microwave?  I don't, but I know many who want to eat the food I cook from scratch. Beautiful handmade soap is such a tender treat and sleeping under a homemade family quilt surely brings the best sleep.  It's the keeping of old ways that make these tasks remarkable and significant.



I'm always motivated to work when I see or read about others working in their homes. I feel like I'm part of a big working bee and that if we all pull together, everything that needs doing will be done. Most of us aren't part of a community that takes part in barn raisings or working bees but we have one going here. You in your home making bread and biscuits this morning, me starting to prepare vegetables for our lunch at noon, Hanno out the back fixing a fence, Kate who has been knitting beanies and gloves, Jack who moved his bee hives yesterday, and I've seen those gorgeous photos of cakes and slices made by our local ladies for the recent show. No, we're not part of a real life community who does those things but we're doing them nonetheless and we're reaching around the world with our photos and words. Let's celebrate our work and what we do at home. We're keeping traditional skills alive and supporting each other in the work that others seem to have forgotten. And that's worth celebrating. ❤️


Weekend reading


Another week almost over and I don't have much to show for it. I've been concentrating on my blog course this week and should have it ready to send out on 26 June.  It's been raining or overcast here so the temperature has been at a mild 10 - 15C at night and 20C during the day. Next week will probably be colder.  If you're in the northern hemisphere, I hope you're enjoying your summer temperatures, if you're here in the south, I hope you're not too cold and have a warm home to shelter in.

Thanks for your visits this week. Visitor numbers are starting to increase again which is surprising as I've been around so long.  Still, I hope my new readers find the blog interesting and motivating. I'll see you all again next week. Have a lovely weekend, my friends. xx

How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply
Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts
Australians want government to focus on renewables even if it costs more
The Great Allotment Challenge - first series, no. 1  I love this series, particularly the Make challenge.
20 best vegetarian recipes: part 3
A story about cold chickens and their knitted jackets - this is in my neighbourhood 😊
Patterns for aprons, modest clothing - women, girls, men and boys, some free patterns
Consumer watchdog launches legal action against Thermomix
Cooking hacks - You tube
Swedish Food - lots of delicious recipes here
How to control tomato caterpillar


Winter warmer - beef with vegetables

We had this for lunch yesterday and it was delicious.  Just to set the scene for you, outside was wet, windy and cold and this meal was an aromatic pleasure that carried on for hours.  As soon as it started cooking on the stove top, then braising in the oven, the aroma sent out the message: you'll be having a delicious warming lunch soon.

If you want to make this recipe, when you buy your meat, don't buy good quality steak. It will dry out and be tasteless. You want a cheaper cut, something like round, blade or skirt steak. The meal will cook slowly for a couple of hours so even if there is a bit of gristle or sinew in the steak, which is often present in secondary cuts, it will melt during the cooking process and add to the flavour of the dish.  I used two thin pieces of round steak. The vegetables you choose can be whatever you're growing or what's in the fridge. I had some mushrooms and a leek I wanted to use but I started with what I usually start with - onion, carrot and celery. This is commonly known as a mirepoix, which is the flavour base of most European-style casseroles/stews.  

INGREDIENTS

Meat
one thin slice of round, skirt or blade steak for each person you're serving. This needs to be thinned out with a meat mallet so all the meat is the same thickness.
For the stuffing
Mushrooms
Leek or onion
Garlic
Speck - cut into lard ons, or bacon - cut into small pieces
Mirepoix
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
The sauce
Either beef or chicken stock or water and a stock cube
Salt, pepper, paprika, plain flour, parsley

chopping vegetables
First, prepare vegetables for the stuffing.

Place into a frying pan with a small splash of olive oil and cook until the speck/bacon is crispy and mushrooms and leeks/onions wilt a little.
prepare meat
While the stuffing is cooking, thin all the meat slices.


stuffing meat
Then place a small amount of stuffing on the meat and fold it so you can secure all sides with toothpicks.  The steak isn't rolled, it's folded so it forms a pocket.

cooking beef rolls
Place the stuffed steaks in the same frying pan you cooked the stuffing in and start browning them on both sides.  Don't miss this step because this browning process is where you start building natural flavour in your meal.
When the meat is seared on both sides, place it in a casserole dish suitable for slow cooking in the oven.
When the frying pan is free again, start your mirepoix. Add chopped carrot, celery and onion (the onion went in after I took the photo), salt and pepper to your taste, two teaspoons of paprika, two tablespoons plain/all purpose flour and cook on medium heat till the vegetables and flour develop some brown colour.  Again, this will add natural flavour to your meal.

Add the mirepoix mix to the casserole dish, add whatever vegetables you want to add. In addition to the mirepoix, I used the rest of my mushrooms, some chopped herbs and the leftover stuffing. Pour in about one litre of water with a stock cube, or stock. You could also add some Worcester Sauce for added flavour. 

Heat up the mix on the stove top, put the lid on, then place in a pre-heated oven and cook at 165C/330F for about two hours.

beef stew
About one hour before you intend eating the meal, add some potatoes and greens so it's a one pot meal.  I added potatoes and Brussel sprouts. Test taste to see if you need to add a little more seasoning. 

beef stew
This is a really delicious meal that will fill you up and make you feel well fed. It is good home cooking that is tasty and healthy and you can mix it up depending on what's available in the fridge or garden. Don't forget to remove the toothpicks before serving. 

I hope you try this, especially if you're having a cold spell where you live. If you give it a go, let me know what you and the family think of it.

A recommendation

I want to recommend two products to you. I use these here and as they're not in the mainstream of consumer products, I thought some of you may be interested in them.  I have no affiliation with Slipgard or Clover.

Many of you might remember we renovated our bathroom last year and instead of a regular shower enclosure, we installed a walk-in shower with tiled floor and a glass screen. It's been a real pleasure to shower in there but it had one draw back for both of us. We felt we might slip on the tiles in the shower when they were wet. We used an anti-slip tile to the Australian standard but they felt slippery. We bought an anti-slip mat but it absorbed and held water and eventually it became a slip hazard too.  I couldn't find anything in our local hardware stores or paint shop but online I found an Australian product called Slipgard  We purchased a pack for $69 which included the Slipgard and a bottle of Tile Power, which cleaned and prepared the tiles.


Hanno applied two coats of Slipgard, it took minutes to dry, there were no fumes, it's environmentally sound and the tiles look the same. We've been using it for a week and the floor feels very safe now. Even when wet, it's not slippery and we can move around with ease. We also did the tiles at the front door, they too now have a good grip, even when wet.  Slipgard is guaranteed for 5 years. It's a really good product that I've never seen advertised anywhere.



My next product is an excellent thimble from Clover. I'm sure many of my patchworking friends would know this thimble. It's got a metal tip with a silicone cup which fits over the finger comfortably. You can use it for hours with your hand stitching. It's much better than any other thimble I've ever used.  I bought mine from my local patchwork shop, The Patchwork Angel.


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