Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Monday, 25 March 2019

Early Autumn at the Homestead

~  H A P P E N I N G S  A R O U N D  
T H E  H O M E S T E A D ~

Hi everyone,  HAPPY AUTUMN to any Kiwi readers that stop by here and Happy Spring to everyone else. I've read so many blogs and posts lately where people are super excited that it's Spring :) while here on this side of the world its early Autumn and we're already thinking about and planning for Winter. We just had the first big load of firewood delivered, so it gets me thinking about chimneys needing to be cleaned and everything related to heating.
We were considering purchasing a new fire this year to heat our home, but after getting a professional in to take a look at ours, we soon realised the repairs wouldn't cost too much and the fire was worth keeping.  It's still a good sturdy fire (a YUNCA) and with the repairs to the damper, new ceramic bricks etc, it will be good as new and keep us cozy again all Winter long. Plus we're installing a heat pump/air conditioning unit so on days we're out and about or at work, we'll just use the heat pump. Firewood is around $300 a cord in our area, and we generally would get through 4 cords in the cold months, so it works out more economical for us to utilise both heat sources rather than just using the fireplace all day every day. Update: It's been repaired now. Cost: $750. If we had replaced it, with the installation costs, we would have been looking at paying about $7,500 - $8,000 !!!. This should be good now for another 8 - 10 years. 

I N  T H E  G A R D E N:
The garden is starting to get that shabby look it always gets this time of the year. I find I just need to keep chipping away and pruning/cutting back and weeding something at least every week to try and keep on top of it. Before long the days will be dreary, foggy and dark and too cold to even venture out, so I need to enjoy the warm days we still have and do as much as I can.
This past weekend I've been picking and gathering in the last of the summer harvest and bottled a dozen jars of Salsa. 

We use the Salsa in Chicken or Beef Chilli, which we eat a lot of. I like to serve Coleslaw on the side. Generally I cook 6 nights out of 7 during the week and all meals are made from scratch. It's what we enjoy. 
Many if not all our meals will have some vegetables that we have grown ourselves. Even now there are still quite a few vegetables in the garden: beans, Kale (Cavolo Nero), tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, lettuces and of course herbs. We also have a few yellow plums, plenty of apples, some pears, & a few raspberries still growing too.
I try to make simple inexpensive meals and tend to avoid food fads. We buy free-range eggs from our granddaughter, as they have quite a few chickens and our son in law John supplies us with plenty of meat. 

Here are a couple of recipes I wanted to share. They are all simple and don't require expensive ingredients. 

Pumpkin/Apple Spice Muffins
I made these very delicious moist muffins last week since we have so many apples on our trees. I also had cooked/mashed pumpkin frozen in 1 cup bags still in the freezer since last summer, so I thought it was about time I used it up. I hate to waste anything. :/  The nutmeg adds a lovely deapth of flavor to them.
This recipe would be considered a THM - E (Trim Healthy Mama Energising meal)

~ I find the secret to these muffins having a good texture, since their is no egg yolk and no gluten, it's necessary to stir the mixture well. Generally a muffin mixture should be folded gently, but not with these ones. ~
~ I love this Almond Butter !!!! Even though it's $10.00 a jar. I love to cut the muffin in half, spread a wee swipe of almond butter on it, and then a few slices of banana..and oh my..what a treat. My husband loves these muffins too  ~

~ Pumpkin/Apple Spice Muffins ~
Dry Ingredients
2 & 1/4 cups of whole oats ground into flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup of alternative sweetener (eg. erythritol and stevia blend)
or 1/2 cup sugar if you use sugar
1 t baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
Wet ingredients:
1 t vanilla
2 small level teaspoons molasses
1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup egg whites 
(or 2 whole eggs if you are not concerned about fat)
1 apple - peeled and diced small
1 cup cooked mashed orange flesh pumpkin 
(yes that's correct there is no added fat)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F
2. Line a  x 12 muffin tray with paper cups. I spray mine with cooking spray.
3. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Use a whisk to mix.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gently pour in the wet ingredients. Add the pumpkin and apple. Mix very well.
5. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups and bake in the oven about 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently lift the paper case muffin onto a wire cooling rack.
6. Once they are cool I normally freeze them, and will defrost them as we need them for lunches.
P.S: Let me know if you try this recipe :)

Simple Beef Casserole

1 kilo (2 pounds) meat cubed
2 onions - slice into rings and brown in some oil
2 - 3 carrots - sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup peas
2 x Beef oxo (bouillon) cubes
1 T BBQ sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 D soy sauce
1 t mixed herbs
1 t ground pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground black Pepper
2 cups of hot water

Note:. This can be cooked in a slow cooker. Just put it on early in the morning (8 - 9 am.) Let it cook on low all day until the meat is tender. Thicken when cooked with a packet of brown gravy mix or some cornflour)

1. If cooking in the oven, preheat the oven to 160 C.
2. Place all ingredients in a casserole dish and cover with a tight  fitting lid. If the lid doesn't fit well I cover the dish with foil and then put the lid on.
3. Cook for about 4 hours. Thicken with a packet of gravy powder or cornflour. Adjust the seasonings if required.
4. I like to serve this with either steamed potatoes and green beans or cooked mashed cauliflower (a low carb meal) and green beans.

Red's Breakfast Sausage Patties
I make these about every 6 weeks. I buy fresh meat and freeze 
the little patties between layers of parchment paper. We enjoy them with
eggs for a cooked breakfast. 

1 kilo - beef mince
500g Pork mince
1 t oregano
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 t salt
2 - 3 teaspoons dried sage
1 egg
1 small onion - diced fine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1. Mix all together well and form into small patties. 
2. Keep a few in the fridge for dinner :) or freeze them in a container between layers of 
parchment paper. 
3. These can also be thawed, crumbled up and cooked to use on a pizza. Yum.

. . . .  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . 

When I'm not busy cooking food to eat, pottering in the garden, preserving food, cleaning the house, or helping my daughter with the children, I will probably be busy making soap..oh is abundant, busy and very good :) ...however I am also mindful of others going through very difficult times right now, such as Gina and Ed over at the blog 'Home Joys'. Ed has brain cancer and his latest diagnosis wasn't good. We've been praying for this family ever since the first diagnosis 2 years ago. If you stop by here and are a prayer warrior like me, please lift up this sweet christian family. They will appreciate it as will I. 

~ Blessings to anyone who stops by ~
& please leave a comment. Let me know what your doing too, 
whatever season your in.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Making Beeswax Wraps

Hi everyone :)
I just checked and it's been exactly one month since I last posted. The last few weeks have been busy and I must say I am tired of hot/humid weather.  We're hoping to install air conditioning later this month (please note: this is truly a hallelujah moment !!!! :). With cooler/cleaner air, I hope my energy levels will improve and my life here at home will be a lot more comfortable. Today was a hot/humid day and even though I didn't feel like doing much I pretty much worked all day and achieved quite a lot . Thankfully later in the afternoon we got some rain and things cooled off a bit.
At the start of the week I made out a list of things I need to do...some have been waiting for quite some time. I was hoping to make some skirts to wear over leggings and haven't done that yet.  However I did finally get  around to making the beeswax wraps today.
I watched an awesome video/tutorial on youtube by a lady called 'Crafty Patty'. I'll attach the link in case anyone else wants to watch it. She went through about 3 different ways of making them. Her tutorial goes for 45 minutes and she is very thorough.

Why did I want to make my own Beeswax Wraps? Because I am a nut and like to do things from scratch !! :)
but really...
1. I wanted to find an alternative to using plastic clingwrap/gladwrap, thereby reducing waste.
2. Beeswax wraps are quite expensive to buy and only come in packs of three sizes. sml/med/large
3. I wanted to be able to make different shapes and sizes.
4. I already had Beeswax and Jojoba Oil, so only needed to purchase the resin (which helps with the tackiness of the finished product, so it will stick to itself).

I initially bought Pine Rosin, but was put off by the strong odor/turpentine smell of it, even though many people use this to make their wraps, I was not happy to use it. I was concerned it would taint our food and thought the whole project was going to be shelved...until..
I did a little more research and found that some people used another resin called Damar Resin, which was meant to have a faint lemon aroma.

So I ordered some of that online. Note: I didn't find these resins to be cheap. Damar resin has a much softer smell..not really like Lemon though.

Here are some pictures of the melted wax/oil/resin mixture and the wraps painted with the mixture, then hanging up to dry.

 ~ The mixture all melted together ~

a small round wrap - suitable for covering a small round dish. I placed a bread and butter plate on the fabric and drew around that and cut the fabric out using pinking shears.

~ Air drying on the pasta racks and then onto the clothes horse ~

~ Wrap demo with an apple of how well it sticks to itself ~

~ Folded neatly into different shapes - round and square ~
and into a storage container. I lined the container with parchment paper, as the wax is tacky
and covered it with a lid  ~

H O W   I   M A D E  M Y  W R A P S :
Step 1. Cut your fabric to whatever size you want. I wanted some to wrap our snacks/crackers/muffins and for covering small bowls and dishes with. I also made a couple of extra large ones to cover a large casserole dish and to be able to wrap a loaf of homemade sourdough bread.
Step 2: Turn the oven on to 100C.
Step 3. Cover an oven tray completely with aluminium foil, tucking the edges under the tray.
Step 4. On a low to medium heat, melt the 3 ingredients together. In total for this many wraps I used: 3/4 cup beeswax, 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons  Jojoba Oil and just over 1/4 cup of Damar resin. The damar resin is very sticky as its melting. I used a small old saucepan, plus an old spoon for craft purposes. Keep on stirring until fully melted and fluid.
Step 5. Place a piece of fabric on the foil lined tray and paint some of the mixture on, so it's soaks through the material.
Step 6. Place the tray in the oven. I put mine on fan bake. Leave it in for around 5 minutes. This helps the wax to melt into the material more evenly. Remove from the oven and check to see if all areas of the fabric are evenly coated.
Step 7. Remove it from the tray and wave it around a bit so it starts to dry. I laid mine over a pasta drying stand and then removed them to my clothes horse stand to further dry.

Conclusion: I still think it's more economical to make Beeswax Wraps yourself, well it was for me because I use beeswax and Jojoba oil in my soap business and didn't need to but them. If you had to buy all these 3 products (in small quantities) which is always more costly, plus shipping, then I don't know if it would be such a good idea.

Note: I find the finished product to be very tacky/bees-waxy. It certainly sticks to itself. It has a lovely aroma :) that I am pleased with. They also make my hands feel lovely and soft..and a little tacky lol.

Update: I have been using the wraps this week and they work great ! A couple of days curing seem to help them. After wrapping a cracker I just rinsed the wrap under cold water and lightly scrubbed it with a soft brush to get any crumbs off. Then I left it to dry before storing.

~ A covered bowl of leftovers in the fridge ~
It's one thing to think about making a change in your lifestyle. 
It's another step to actually do it, and then when
it's done and you step onto that new path
it's a good feeling :) Procrastination is defeating..action brings peace.

Craft Patty's Excellent tutorial:

~ Please leave a comment if you read this blog and/or have a go at 
making these too. I'd love to hear from you. :) 
Blessings to you all ~
L I N D A xo

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