first, peel your banana

andy-banana

Bananas don’t last long in the extreme Australian summer heat. Five were dying in our fruit bowl this morning. Mr FD manned up and added two to his lunch time salad, but two from five still left three. I decided to make the two ingredient cookies my granddaughters love (2 bananas : 1 cup rolled oats, bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes) . Except somehow I never manage to follow the recipe correctly – this time not quite enough rolled oats in the pantry- and so I topped up with muesli!

Earlier this morning I had noticed all the New Year Resolution posts popping up online. This year’s resolution for me was to be creative and I have given myself a 9 out of 10 for that resolution. Not quite a 10 because sometimes I am too lazy to do anything but sit and mindlessly flick through Facebook or mindlessly resort to old habits! By creative, I don’t just mean “arty”, I also mean trying too look at a world with a design mind – seeking new uses for things, being innovative in my life as well as creative. I am happy with what I achieved overall though.

Looking at the sad bananas in the fruit bowl, I though that maybe 2017 could be the year to work on food waste. We buy so many vegetables and fruits that just wither and rot in our refrigerator. Much of this is due to the fact that I have great plans for the week, but as each day passes and I get tired and the school work piles higher, I resort to pulling in for takeaway at night rather than even think about making a simple meal.  Bad girl!

Looking at it creatively, trying to minimise food waste also means that I am planning our shopping better – maybe even save money in the process. We will certainly eat better meals, and that will impact positively on my health, which we all know needs all the help it can get!

Mr FD  in recent weeks has become quite the hand at the barbecue, so if I  plan meals around that to start with, I can’t see how we can’t prosper. I have a slow cooker to use in colder months. It also continues on my 2016 creativity resolution, which makes me self-pleased. I am feeling superior already.

So, that’s it, folks – my resolution for 2017 is to reduce food waste in our home. Good for me, my family, the community and the planet. What’s not to love?

Just going to tell Mr FD what his first resolution for 2017 is…

 

 

 

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A foodie’s salute to Australia Day

Or foods Jamie and Nigella would never tell you about.

January 26 is our Australia Day, the day the celebrates the arrival of the British First Fleet of convict ships, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788. It is the day that the indigenous world mourns.

We will be celebrating with a barbecue; surely the norm for the day. So to mark the celebrations I share with you  our foods, new and traditional that make Australia, well, Australia.

 

Australia Day 2016 11

a minimalist life lesson

useful

After a lifetime of living with myself, it appears I am still learning things about the person that I am. Since commencing my own Red Shoe Project and working towards minimalism I have learnt:

  1. Pace the project. I can’t start a project “gung-ho” if I mean to sustain it. This is because if I work for large chunks of time the quality control on my decision making diminishes in proportion to the length of time worked. My discipline goes right out the door.

Solution : I work best if I work in 20 or 30 minute chunks of time. A cup of tea, a walk to the mailbox with Augie Dog, or just doing a daily household chore refocusses me and I can return to the task with my decision making refreshed. Then, I can make the correct decision into which pile my belongings belong – bin, donate, save.

2. Don’t get bogged down in the little stuff, too soon. Clear the closet first, before tackling the jewellery and accessories. Chances are a lot to that jeweller that has been lost at the back of a closet, if chosen to be kept, will need some work – chains untangled, cleaning etc. before going into a new place of use. In my experience, it starts a side tour from the main path.

Solution: I have chosen one set of shelves where “tiny projects” such as jewellery boxes can sit and wait their turn. Once the closet is sorted, a home chosen for my belongings that is both accessible and sustainable, then I can sit down and look to the “small stuff”.

Not bad retrospection or reflective learning, whatever you choose to call it, for two days along the Red Shoe Project. It’s nice to find, early in this project, that there are unexpected bonuses – and three tidy closet shelves.

red shoe project 2016

Minimalism : a job for warrior baby boomers!

image

 

Has minimalism been designated as a “young person’s” zone, or am I just unlucky to have come across nothing but twenty-thirty something young persons tell me how to get rid of my stuff?

Try being a baby boomer that birthed three children, now adults, who has been married 38 years and then tell me about stuff. I have multiple potato peelers older than most of the so called minimalism experts.

I started the flirting with minimalism a couple of years back. When we made our tree change I tried to shed as much as I could, but we ran out of time and energy in the moving process and so more stuff than I wanted made the journey to the country with us.

Then my mother went into care and the contents of my parental home of fifty plus years had to be dispersed. That meant incoming, but I managed to keep it to those things I considered important to me. My brother and sister took the mother lode, so to speak.

Not long afterwards, Mr FD’s parents died and though I stated VERY CLEARLY that I desired nothing from their home except for a few select items I thought our children should receive, Mr FD heeded not and a peculiar assortment of household items made their way into our garden shed and home. Most of it pretty ugly.

Now I open drawers and find three potato mashers and five pastry brushes. I make pastry about once every three years, tops.

So, some perky little thing with nice teeth who has only ever collected shoes and drink coasters from holiday nightclubs is not going to know the minimalism I am seeking. I need it in the large family size tub.

Baby boomers have a unique position on clutter. There is the clutter of two lives joined together; the clutter of  children and their lives before they flee home leaving everything in their rooms and the plastic storage containers in the garage. This is then topped by the yours and mine parents’ hoarding of their lives and the stuff we left behind when we fled the parental abode as well.

A weekend, two cupboard boxes and three plastic shopping bags are not going to meet my needs.

I’ve made a decision. I am going to complete the kitchen project kick started by Son while I was interstate. In turn, I think he was influenced by his sister who gave me a set of coffee mugs as a Christmas gift, then refused to leave the house until I shed an equal or greater number of  ugly and mismatched mugs that no one ever used. You know the type – the tiny mugs that only hold a thimble of tea or coffee and so are always pushed to the rear of the cupboard. Also, the cups that were “special” to your children, when they actually were children, but  are now on a top shelf, out of reach even if anyone desired to use them.

I wanted to shed the children’s cups for aeons, but I just knew the gods would go crazy and the very next day one of the children would have a mental melt down that would only be contained by drinking out of the mug they got at Dreamworld in 1997. However, Daughter1, a thirty something, steam rolled me into agreeing to allow her to remove them. That is, I allowed her to think she was steamrolling me and now if her siblings complain about a departed keepsake cup I can point the finger of blame her way. Win, win, for me. She gets to think she got one over mother, which is always a good ploy by any mother. Let them think they win, when in fact you have won big time.

How is any twenty-thirty something going to understand that type of minimalism psychodrama? Move aside this project requires a Baby Boomer Warrior Minimalist!

And no, I won’t be wearing any big girl undies on the outside of a superwoman costume. It’s always the pearls, dahling.

Cookies and milk

dancing housewife

My mission for the day, which I chose to accept, was to bake lactation cookies. I had never heard of them either, but apparently they assist in mother’s milk supplies.

The secret ingredient is brewers yeast. Once upon a time this could be purchased at the local supermarket, but our failure to source it yesterday confirmed that the supermarket chain no longer stocked home brew supplies now that they owned a  liquor chain outlet. Wonder why?

Mr Daughter2, the new Daddy, went out on a hunting excursion and was almost lost to the wildes of the Home Brew Store until he remembered his quest and returned with sachets of brewers yeast. The store owner had gifted them to him when she had heard the reason for his quest.

So Grandma, that’s me in this tale, sallied forth into the kitchen and created lactation cookies. Oh, it was a jolly time, with many a joke about  “we mustn’t allow the men folk to eat our cookies, or heavens knows what might happen to them!”

Daughter2 wondered aloud what might happen to her if they were wildly successful. I said we would make a podcast for YouTube and create a lactation cookie empire.

Three trays of cookies were baking in the oven when for amusement I reread the recipe and realised that one ingredient was missing. The super duper secret ingredient – the brewer’s yeast.  Too late to whip the trays from the oven and add the ingredient, I thought of saying nothing and hoping the placebo effect would do its task, but my sharp intake of breath informed Mr D2 standing nearby, that something was amiss. I could have lied, but had to confess. He manfully offered to eat the evidence. What a hero!

I set too and made a second batch. Trays cooling from the oven, I started to clean the kitchen after admitting my error to Daughter2, who was not surprised at her mother’s antics, and to be honest would probably have been surprised had I indeed read the recipe correctly first time around. She remembered too well the great mustard fiasco of year 12.

As evidence that the brewers yeast was now ensconced within the cookie, I wafted the 5g sachet under her nose.

“Wow, how convenient that it was exactly one sachet that the cookies needed,” she declared, impressed.

Ummmm

Close inspection of the recipe stated that 2 TABLESPOONS of brewer’s yeast was required. I had used a mere 1 teaspoon.

We are still relying on the placebo effect.

 

 

 

I’m calling yoooooouuuuu

baby doll

I lost a large part of the night to Nelson Eddie calling Jeanette McDonald – a solo bird calling in search of a mate; an Australian Love Call, so to speak. Nelson was lucky that I could neither pin which tree he was serenading from and that my throwing arm is not what it was (if it ever was!); or stones may have flown. Instead, I lay awake envision him in someone’s Sunday stew pot.

Sunday morning, I felt like I was hungover without any previous enjoyment. Tired and emotional, I wrote what I hope is my final word on the student issue – still unresolved, and no doubt will remain so as the students are not willing to be honest. Of course, the fact that they caused mayhem in the library and made a rude finger gesture towards me has been lost in all the pretend issues, but I refuse to give them more power and so will no longer sign anything. My parting comment is that they have learnt behaviour that works for them and now they will use it towards other teachers.  I am finished.

baking 1

So, what to do when I am feeling tired and emotional? Bake a second dried fruit Christmas Cake. It emptied the Brandy bottle! This cake will fly with me to Perth. I was allowed to use brown sugar in the second cake, instead of the rice syrup that Daughter 1 asked for in my first baking. Daughter2 is of the mind that Christmas cakes should not be messed with, a child after my own heart. The texture and taste were superior in my mind, but the proof will be in the eating.

Mr FD calls nightly. Poor Uncle has real mind and body issues, and it appears that the family has to set in place the power of attorney to protect his interests. He’s 91 and has faired well until the last couple of years, but this year in particular he has declined. The problem is he lives alone, having never married. He had a farm manager couple who assist him, but you can’t allow the manager to run the properties without oversight. So this week, Mr FD and his cousin will be visiting the lawyer and the health authorities to gather help and support for Uncle. Even though Uncle has set all this in place, he will be very difficult to gain cooperation from.

The problem when they slip in and out of dementia is that they don’t consider there is anything wrong with them. We have been through this too many times now, with both my parents; Mr FD’s to a lesser degree and now Uncle. Expertise in a field we don’t desire.

Petite Fille, hopefully is coming to visit next weekend. If the weather is hot, I will roll out the water slide for her, and we shall slide down our hill under the sprays. Now that’s something to look forward too!

Drunken fruit season approaching

drunken

I had tucked up the drunken dried fruits for the night, with the intention of mixing the Christmas cake on the morrow when I received that phone call alerting us to the knowledge that my Mother was in an ambulance. So life being life, those fruits got to imbibe the Napoleon brandy for an entire week until I could return to the kitchen.

The recipe evolves every year. This year in a salute to the sugar less family members I used rice syrup instead of brown sugar. The proof will indeed be in the mixing.

I am still trying to reconcile my brain with the knowledge that the organic rice syrup  was a product of Belgium. In all my fantasies I have never imagined the Belgians: Flemish, Walloons or German, as rice growers; but who am I to argue with a food label? Should I ever travel to Belgium I shall waste time looking for them toiling in the rice paddies.

This year, as the family will be split between east and west Australian coasts I will endeavour, family dramas allowing, to bake a second dried fruit cake to transport to Perth. We shall partake as we hopefully also toast the safe arrival of Peppercorn Flamingo Dancer, due Boxing Day.

Terrible season for a birthday, but fear not, as long as Granny Flamingo Dancer is able, she will ensure a birthday worth celebrating. No one present for both occasions – no fair.

Christmas is going to be a drunken affair this year, as I gifting dessert fruits in various alcoholic syrups as my office gifts. Nothing that cannot be used short term, or requires long term storage is my mantra these days. It must also be something I would be happy to receive myself – the ultimate good taste test!

Maybe the world would be a jollier place if we steeped all our foods in alcohol. Grumpy Cat might not be required to communicate for us. I wonder if a red or a white would go best with porridge?