Tag Archives: food

Fermentation, Sourdough, and childhood favourites

12 Apr 16
Megan
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4 comments

Last week as part of Cee’s Share Your World post, I shared a list of my favourite childhood foods including Golden Dumplings. I was asked if I could share the recipe for this particular dish…

The recipe comes from an old cookbook my mum had at home, it was so well used that when a new addition came out a few years ago my sister and I both got ourselves a copy (and a new copy for mum). The book is the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s “NMAA Cooks Recipes for Busy Mothers“.

My copy of NMAA Cooks Recipes for busy mothers

My copy of NMAA Cooks Recipes for busy mothers

And the recipe is:

Golden Dumplings Recipe, page 192 of the cook book

Golden Dumplings Recipe, page 192 of the cook book

Since finding out I’m gluten and dairy intolerant I’ve had to experiment a lot with my favourites to see if I can adjust them to work without them. The dumplings do work reasonably well just replacing the flour with gluten free flour.

One food item I have yet to find a reasonable replacement for is bread… all the gluten free options I’ve found or attempted to make have not been anywhere near as good as their glutenous counterparts. In fact, the only way I like the gluten free bread is either fresh out of the oven or toasted.

E has been doing some reading and has found several research papers which show that people who are intolerant to gluten are sometimes able to cope with sourdough bread (not gluten free). The proposed reason for this is that the process of making the sourdough (if made the traditional way) breaks down most of the gluten proteins in the bread before baking making them easier to digest.

I’ve decided it’s worth a try if I can add something back into my diet but many of the commercially made sourdoughs are not made using the tradition long fermentation time so I’m going the home made route and making it from scratch.

I began my ‘Sourdough starter’ last Thursday and today I made pancakes with the discards from feeding it so we’ll see how I feel after them to see if I may be able to add sourdough bread into my diet…

The starter is really simple to make, you can check out a quick guide here at the Zero Waste Chef. It’s basically just flour and water and time… You start with equal parts flour and water and you “feed” it daily by adding more flour and water each day. I didn’t discard for the first few days, but starting this morning I’ll be ‘discarding’ (using to make pancakes) at least half of what’s there and feed the rest.

Making sourdough pancakes with my discarded starter.

Making sourdough pancakes with my discarded starter.

Once I feel that it’s ready (see the Zero Waste Chef link above for what to look/smell for) I’ll store it in the fridge and take it out to feed it weekly when I make my loaf of bread.

Another home fermented item I started last Thursday is a Ginger Bug. A ginger bug is a way of making soda by fermenting ginger and sugar in water to make the fizz. Once it’s ready, you mix a quarter cup of the bug with juice, tea or other drink to make the drink fizzy. You follow the same process as for the sourdough starter, ‘feeding’ the bug daily until it’s ready and then storing it in the fridge and feeding weekly. I believe my bug is ready to use today, but I’m going to give it another day or two to be sure.

My sourdough starter and ginger bug last Thursday immediately after they were made.

My sourdough starter and ginger bug last Thursday immediately after they were started.

Another simple to make at home item that I believe will get regular use in our house is vanilla essence. I started my bottle of vanilla essence just before Christmas and have been storing it in the back corner of the pantry. It’s basically just vodka with vanilla beans in it and all I need to remember to do is shake it occasionally. By the time we run out of the shop bought stuff this time it should definitely be ready to use.

The feature image at the beginning of this post shows the sourdough starter, ginger bug and vanilla essence as they look today.

Do you make any of your own products at home?


turning thirty

Turning Thirty: Reflections, Visions, Plans

11 Jun 15
Megan
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I turned 30 last weekend.

Those of you who follow us on Facebook or Twitter would be aware that my husband’s 30th was only a few weeks earlier. We decided to do a joint party on my birthday (it was Saturday) and invited friends and family to join us. We had an amazing day with close to 50 people joining us to celebrate.

I put a lot of effort into planning the party so that it would be aligned with my values and life goals.  By that I mean that I attempted to plan the party to be as close to zero waste as possible, and to be focused mainly on spending time with family and friends.

I created a large stack of cloth napkins which did get used, however when the cake was cut paper napkins were still used to distribute it.
cloth napkinsThe napkins I made were from leftover material in my sewing collection, mainly the scrappy bits too small for anything else.

Most of the food was homemade finger food with cocktail pies, pasties and sausage rolls purchased from the local bakery to supplement the food supply.

Reusable and compostable We used as many reusable items as possible and what wasn’t reusable I aimed to make compostable (cornstarch cups, bamboo plates, paper straws).

Although I did my best to pace myself in the days leading up to and the day of the party, it was still a much busier week than I would normally have and I have spent the last few days recovering. I’m starting to feel better now (Wednesday – 4 days after the party) but pain levels and fatigue levels have both been rather high the last few days.

Before I go further with this post, I just want to apologise for the large gap between posts lately. Both Janelle and I have been very busy working to put together the Back to Basics Workshop which will be starting in the next few weeks (You can still join if you’re interested).

Turning Thirty: Reflections

Large life changes are always times to reflect on where you have come from and consider where you want to go moving forward. Turning 30 is one of those times.

Looking back over my life I have always had pretty clear ideas of where I though I would be by the time I turned 30. Although some of these things have come true, my life is nothing like what I had imagined (as you’d expect).

My childhood and teens were spent making friends, spending time outside and getting to know the world around me. As I moved into my 20’s it became more about getting to know myself and becoming clearer about where I wanted to head.

During my 20’s I married my long term boyfriend, we bought our first house together and moved in, and got our own pets.

Early 20’s were focused on finishing study and starting my career as well as focusing on my health by exercising regularly at the gym.

Late 20’s my vision of myself, my career, and my health all changed when chronic pain and fatigue became a part of my life. My goals had to change to fit into my new reality. I could no longer be the ‘gym junkie’, the active outdoors person I was before…

Turning Thirty: Visions

Although part of my vision has stayed the same, I still want a family and to work in community engagement and sustainability,  most of it has now been modified.

How do I see my 30’s going?

I will have a family (biological or adopted) and will be working in community engagement and sustainability field by consulting and providing services through this site.

I will find balance between work, social, and me time. This will include time for meditation and rest and some form of exercise (at this point walking and very basic yoga).

By finding balance and pacing well, I will recover to a point where I can enjoy travelling with my husband and family.

Our life will be as simple, sustainable and meaningful as possible.

Turning Thirty: The Plan

To make my vision come true I will need a plan. The plan is to answer the following questions:

What would make my/our life meaningful?

I’ve already begun answering this question by completing the 100 Goal Challenge last year, but through participating in our Back to Basics Workshop I’m going to review those goals and reassess what is meaningful to me.

I will also have discussions with my husband about what is meaningful to him so that we can make our future plans together.

How can I simplify my life?

A simple lifestyle is key to living well especially with chronic illness. By identifying areas in my life that I can simplify I should create more room to do the things that I meaningful.

Steps I’m already taking towards this are:

  • Hiring a cleaner. Over the past few months I had been doing the cleaning myself again. To begin with I managed to keep up and do a good job, but I’ve found that as I’ve begun adding other meaningful activities into my life (like work), I no longer have the energy to do the cleaning as well. For the cost of $75 a fortnight it is worth having someone come in and clean for us.
  • Simplifying my wardrobe. I’m finally getting to a point where I’m happy with my wardrobe. Through my decluttering efforts I’ve removed over half the items in my wardrobe that were not comfortable, didn’t suit my lifestyle, or were worn out and stained. My next post I’m going to share in detail what is left in my wardrobe.

How can we be more sustainable?

Because sustainability is one of my key values, this is a question that I’m constantly asking myself. I’m attempting to move us from single use and disposable items towards ones that can be reused over and over. Buying quality items that last (instead of large quantities of items) is also key to aiming for a more sustainable house.

This area is one that causes a bit of tension in our house though as my husband doesn’t necessarily understand my strong focus on this value. I’m not saying he doesn’t believe we should do our part to help the environment, it’s just that he thinks I take things too far a lot of the time. For example, he rolls his eyes each week when I take out my keep cup to use when we get takeaway drinks, and he doesn’t feel comfortable using my cloth bags for vegetables or asking the butcher and baker to use my containers (instead of plastic bags).

Another part of being sustainable is to be financially secure/independent/whatever term you’d like to use. This is something that I’m spending a lot of time researching at the moment. Security is one of my husband’s biggest values and so making sure we have enough money to live the lifestyle we want to and achieve our goals is very important to us.

Financially speaking we want to make sure we have enough saved for retirement (so we don’t have to rely on a pension that may not be around), we want to be able to travel and buy nice things when we want to (we have a large lego collection, good quality camera and camping gear, and my husband maintains his bikes), and we want to be debt free.

In general we are doing well in this area (our mortgage is our only debt) but, given I’m pretty much not working at the moment (I don’t bring in any regular salary), I’m not having money put into Super for me and we basically have to live off my husband’s salary. To me setting ourselves a financial plan for the next 2-5 years and belong is a key step to achieving our goal to live a simple, sustainable and meaningful life.

Next week I’ll be sharing my simple, sustainable, and (almost) minimal wardrobe with you.

Do you have a clear vision for the future and a plan to get there?

Have you got a financial plan in place to help you achieve your goals?

 

nutrition

Nutrition and Diet – Keep it Simple

07 Apr 15
Megan
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No Comments

You are what you eat

That’s the saying…

It’s World Health Day today and the focus is on safe food. As a result, the WEGO health activist writer’s challenge is focused on nutrition and diet today.

Last month we talked about eating locally and how you can support your local farmers, and today I’m going to talk about how I eat for my health

Even before March 2013, when my life went upside down with chronic illness, I was on a path to becoming the healthiest I could be. I have suffered from allergies, eczema and asthma my whole life and about 6 months earlier I had gone to an allergist for testing.

At this point my diet changed. I removed all dairy and gluten, and I noticed that my eczema disappeared.

Then the pain and extreme fatigue started.

My diet didn’t really change that much in terms of the types of food I ate but my ability to spend lots of time cooking did change. As my illness progressed I also began to add supplements to help with management.

I now take fish oil, magnesium, calcium, iodine and folic acid, Vitamin D and Vitamin B regularly. Combined these are helping to reduce my pain levels and increase my bone density (which was found to be extremely low last year).

Thankfully my husband is around to help make meals and this means I’ve been able to maintain a healthy diet while managing my energy levels. As I’ve recovered slowly, I’ve been able to make more meals myself although I still have to pace.

When I’m cooking myself I’ve found a variety of meals that are simple and easy to make. These include lentil burgers, pad thai and steak or sausages and veg during summer, and soups during winter. Many of these meals are also generally made in bulk so that after cooking one night we have leftovers for another dinner and usually a lunch or two.

By cooking in bulk I keep it simple. I use fresh produce as much as possible and I get support from family and friends when I need it. As previously discussed, we do grow some of our own vegetables as well. When there’s greens in the garden and I’m home, I tend to get lunch straight from the garden.

Do you focus on your nutrition to maintain your health?

Have you had to change your diet for any reason?

100 Goal Challenge

100 Goal Challenge: Life Enjoyment

19 Feb 15
Janelle
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Like Megan’s last post, I will be sharing with you my 100 Goal Challenge. This challenge came about for Megan last year when she was reading a self-help book that focused on getting the reader to conduct activities that would help to identify your passions in life. The book is titled It starts with Passion by Keith Abraham and the idea behind it is to “do what you love and love what you do”.

The key to this challenge is that by writing down your goals, whether achievable tomorrow or maybe in the next few decades, you have identified the direction in life you want to take and inherently giving yourself something to strive for.  That drive in life is what makes you jump out of bed in the mornings instead of just rolling over wishing you could sleep for another few hours.

This will be once again a long post and I have, like Megan tried to break it done into categories to make it easier to work through. My 100 Goals are not just physical things that I want to do or achieve but also about creating and working towards the mindset and person I want to be, which I feel is just as important. What follows is my 100 Goal Challenge in no particular order of importance.

My 100 Goal Challenge List

 

House and Garden

  1. Buy a house

    A plant from our garden – many more to be added

  2. Have and maintain a garden
  3. Make people feel welcomed and relaxed in our home.
  4. Clean regularly – something I need to do after I finish writing this!
  5. Build a garden from a patch of dirt.
  6. Grow a herb garden
  7. Cover the walls with our lives and adventures (art that is personal)
  8. Grow a fruit tree
  9. Renovate (or even build?)
  10. Grow a veggie patch
  11. Knock down a wall!

    All ready for some plants!

  12. Build a wall.
  13. Have a proper compost pile
  14. Have a house full of laughter
  15. Set up a rain water tank to recycle water
  16. Have a functional and usable home
  17. Spend more time in the garden to enjoy it.
  18. Share my home with friends and family
  19. Grow a hedge of fruit trees (espalier)
  20. Set up a veggie patch with aquaponics

Travel

  1. Visit each continent

    Plane wing from our last overseas trip

  2. Travel to India
  3. Go diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  4. Put my feet in as many seas as possible!
  5. End every holiday with a restort to relax.
  6. Go on local holidays a few times a year
  7. Climb a Mountain!
  8. Don’t go on fast tours – stay in destinations
  9. Go and see the Northern Lights
  10. Honeymoon!!!!

Food

  1. Cook and bake more for the enjoyment

    baking some cupcakes

  2. Try new recipes every month
  3. Eat less meat
  4. Learn how to cook Indian
  5. Make healthy snacks
  6. Learn more vegan and vegetarian dishes
  7. Cook a pavlova.
  8. Eat more fruit and veggies
  9. Learn how to make more raw dishes
  10. Drink more juices and smoothies, every few days!

Me playing some tennis

Fitness and Exercise

  1. Maintain and increase my current level of fitness
  2. Get to 10 000 steps most days
  3. Go swimming weekly
  4. Play a sport socially – always!
  5. Be able to do 10+ push-ups without dying
  6. Have a six pack once in my life
  7. Get up before work to do exercise
  8. Improve my tennis game – win more often!
  9. Compete in obstacle courses (True Grit)
  10. Try out running, as a habit.

Education and Learning

  1. Never stop trying and learning new things

    Graduation a few years ago

  2. Educate myself on finance
  3. Get further certification / degrees
  4. Research and implement further sustainable living
  5. Stay open minded to ideas and technologies
  6. Teach myself about soils, fertilizers and composting.
  7. Learn more about photography
  8. Learn nutrition
  9. Learn massage and body movement
  10. Learn aquaponics
  11. Learn about myself and further my interests
  12. Education in business management
  13. Improve on self-confidence, projection and conversing

Mind Development

  1. Listen, learn then form opinions

    spending time alone to reflect is productive

  2. Approach everything with an open mind
  3. Respond do not react.
  4. Be more patient
  5. Speak to my sister every week
  6. Be more assertive
  7. Value my own opinion
  8. Spend time alone every week
  9. Focus and remember the positive
  10. Do not be afraid to disagree
  11. Become more patient and giving with my parents
  12. Be present where I am
  13. Voice my opinion, especially when I don’t agree
  14. Become aware of time constraints and be realistic in planning

Life…

  1. Own a house
    just waiting to be ridden!
  2. See parents once a week
  3. Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – ‘not yet’ is not an answer
  4. Visit my sister a few times a year
  5. Have children
  6. Learn to ride a scooter (maybe a motorbike)
  7. Fix my own computer once or twice
  8. Laugh and enjoy the people around me
  9. Hold dinner parties regularly
  10. Catch up with friends more often
  11. Save where we can but not at the expense of living
  12. Go on more dates

    our cat – being sneaky

  13. Use less chemicals
  14. Declutter my home
  15. Declutter my life
  16. Go Abseiling / rock climbing
  17. Skydive
  18. Go in a hot air balloon
  19. Find a work / life balance
  20. Have more family pets (especially a dog)
  21. House at least one Guide Dog
  22. Read more – fact and fiction
  23. Get Married!

 

Alright so that is my 100 Goals! It was hard to get started but once you do you’ll find that it just follows out. I’m also sure I’ve probably missed things but its written down for now and as I grow and change so will my goals.

Now the challenge is set! Go and get a pen and some paper if you have not already and start writing down your 100 Goals.

We would love to hear how you went so please let us know if you try the 100 Goal Challenge or if you have any suggestions for future posts.