Category Archives: Kitchen Fixes

Four Ways I’m Inspired by Spring

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It’s well and truly almost summer here. The days are still sporadic, wind is still tormenting my broccoli plants and rain clouds loom in the afternoons, but its 10 a.m and I think I would almost get a tan if I was outside (if I could tan, which I can’t). This, and autumn, are two times of the year when I feel most inspired about food.

– I’m inspired by my garden constantly. Yesterday we finally ate something from this springs crops. Lettuce doesn’t usually ignite my passion for cooking, but picking it from my own garden – all covered in dirt and slightly nibbled on – inspiration, unlocked! Its not too late to plant something. I’m yet to plant tomatoes. You can always grown in buckets on your sunny porch, if nothing else.

– I’ve been reading Peppermint Magazine, and this issue (spring 2014) is right up my alley. It features interviews with a whole range of different foodies. So far, I love the emphasis, on real, from-the-earth food. I was pleasantly surprised by the interview with Sarah Wilson – she wrote the ‘I Quit Sugar’ books – she writes here about sustainability and food wastage. Definitely get your hands on this issue!

– Every year, when my garden starts to belt out food, I get out Annabel Langbein’s book Eat Fresh. It’s the one cook book you should have over spring and summer. It capitalises on fresh food from the garden in stunning, simple, delicious recipes. I love it! (I can’t seem to find a link to this online unfortunately. It was published in 2007, see if your library has it, or try one of her other books).

– Tonight we are having this for dinner. I’m very inspired by all of the fresh veg available at the moment. Cheap avocados. Tomatoes have come down to $3.99kg (this will drop rapidly over the next few weeks and then my own will start producing tomatoes like crazy). And I feel like piling my plate high with different veg. I’m dreaming up some new quesadilla recipes to make the most of the good food available. If you want inspiration, head to your veggie shop and check out the new season produce!

Sunbeam Snack Heroes Popcorn Maker: A Review

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First things first, no one has asked, or paid me, to write this. The following opinions are my own, from my own first-hand experience and I’m purely writing this review because its good to share good things!

Moving on, lets talk appliances. OK, so you know that thing where you don’t need to own an oven any more because there are 635 cheerful little appliances that will do the job for you? Brownies? You don’t need an oven, they have their very own appliance. Doughnuts? Cupcakes? You got it. Well, I’m going to review one of these, behold, the popcorn maker!

I personally think that space, and power-points, are at a premium in most kitchens, and appliances are in an abundance. You’ve got electric frying pans, beaters, blenders, jugs, toasters (and, in breaking news, a food processor!). So you don’t really want to clog up cupboard or bench space with more stuff. Sometimes though, you want food that’s really easy. And not a bag of potato chips. So last Christmas I made my request. And Santa delivered. I love this little machine and I want to tell you why.

Note – we don’t have a microwave (and please don’t buy us one in case you feel that way inclined!), I haven’t tried any other popcorn makers, just this one. I have been using this machine for seven months without fault. Without further mumbo jumbo – this is why I’m giving my popper valuable air time.

simulate http://www.grpromotions.com/58338-zithromax-cost.html Its fast  travel buy modalert – you know how when you get home from work and its dark, and your feet feel like stumps and you just want to sit in the cupboard and suck up its contents like a vacuum cleaner. This machine is your guy. Popcorn in a flash! I should have timed it for you, but I’m going to guess it takes 1 – 2 minutes from hangry to popcorn face stuffing.

аnticipate http://www.europeandobermanstud.com/63186-himcolin-gel-price-in-india.html Its really clean zyprexa price transpose – you are probably all wondering why I don’t just make it on the stove like a real foodie. Well, I could, I did for a long time. But this machine requires no oil, no dishes and I am so on board with that. Which leads me to..

voltaren gel usa consider Its healthy –  well, who knows what ‘healthy’ even is these days. But I like that this is a snack I can eat without feeling gross. This, of course, hugely depends on what you put on your corn. I stick to just a little salt. I’m yet to try the butter because I’m afraid there’ll be no going back. I like to think this option is healthier than the microwave bags (no clue what makes that stuff taste so good, but no need to find out any more).

Its cute – Yes, this is a factor. It sits on the bench without a) taking up a bus-load of room or b) making my rental kitchen uglier. A lot of appliances can be downright mood-killers that you want to hide as far back as you can in the cupboard. Not this one (IMO).

Its popcorn – So at the end of the day, its just good old fashioned popcorn. Good for movies. Good to cart to work. Good for general snacking. But its good old fashioned popcorn that’s super speedy and hassle-free.

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Eat Your Freezer

DSC_0070About a week ago, when popping a bag of peas back in the freezer I stopped and stared at all of the stuff. What was in my freezer? I decided it was about time I found out. I don’t have a big freezer, just a fridge freezer combo. I also don’t actively stock my freezer (due to the size). I have fond memories of mums chest freezer. It was like a treasure chest. There was always one more container of frozen strawberries (from PYO in the summer) or other berries from their garden and it usually took a good five minutes of rummaging to find them, but they were there. It turns out my freezer is mostly full of pumpkin soup, which is slightly less exciting. Here’s what I found.

– My freezer is a pretty random concoction of stuff. Peas, spinach, buns and about five small containers of leftover soup. Also, some beef mince, pork mince and sausages (not surprising that they got relegated to the freezer because veg is just too good!).

– Before you put anything in the freezer write a date and description on the container. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘I won’t forget what that chunky yellow stuff is’.

– Also, before you put anything into the freezer, think about when you’re actually going to use it. I had great intentions for my soup, upon freezing, but then proceeded to forget about it. I think I’ll keep a list on the fridge door of frozen lunches ect.

– Freezer + fridge + pantry = dinner. I made some pretty flash burgers from my lurking beef mince. Conveniently I had a tin of pineapple in the cupboard and tomatoes and eggs in the fridge. Last night I was cooking for one and so I threw together some rice egg sausage veg scramble thing. Which was great! And reminded me that a lot of the time we have enough stuff to make a substantial meal from assorted pantry and fridgefreezer paraphernalia.

I’ll be checking my freezer more regularly for lurkers – one day I might find some strawberries!

As an aside, I’m not really a sausage eater but the ones I had in my freezer were from the Blackball Salami Company and I recommend them!

Meal Planning Part Three: A Free Printable for You!

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Once you have decided what you’re going to cook you then have the fun task of hitting the supermarket and giving away your hard-earned cash. Never enter a supermarket unprepared – you’re just asking for trouble.

I write my shopping list by first choosing what we’re going to cook and then figuring out what all those meals require. I then build my shopping list around that. Yep – a three step process. And now you can do that too if you fancy making foodie lists. I’m all for the foodie lists.

Final A5Click here to download your printable!

Hint One – the printable prints quite happily in grey scale if you want to be more economical.

Hint Two – after cutting it down to A5 you can fold up the bottom ‘menu’ portion and then fold it in half with the two lists facing out – convenient for supermarket jaunts.

This is the ‘last’ instalment of my three-part meal planning series. Did you see the Blackboard Clipboard DIY?

Meal Planning Part Two: Blackboard Clipboard DIY

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I’ve always wanted a blackboard wall in my kitchen. A big scribbling spot for ideas and inspiration and all important list making. We’re renting so that’s obviously a no-go. This simple DIY is a compromise. A good one!

Blackboard Clipboard DIY (Blickboard? Clapboard?)

You will need:

Meal Planning Part One: Menu Planner

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Hello! Today I’m posting the first in a series of three about meal planning. You can read about why I like meal planning here.

Make a cup of tea, this is a tad long!

So, what does meal planning mean anyway? It can mean different things to different people. To me, it means, in a nutshell, buying very specific things from the supermarket store to make specific meals.

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Stage One of Planning: Make a Menu Planner

You can probably cook 10 really good things without even thinking about it. Maybe more. You can probably cook 10 really good things with a recipe. Definitely more. But can you remember everything that you know how to cook? Probably not. I’m constantly surprised by how much worse my memory is than I think it is. The fact is though, you don’t have to remember everything. You can record it! And once you start recording you will be astonished by how much you can cook. I find the hardest part of meal planning is deciding what to make. I want meal planning to be easy so I got rid of all the icky decision making.

I created a GIANT chart thingy in Excel that is all very neatly categorised and colour coded. It has two primary functions. 1) a place to record all the new things I learn how to make and where I found the recipes. 2) a go-to list for choosing what we’ll cook each week. My man also uses it (sorry guys, you are useless at deciding what you want for dinner!!). I say, ‘pick two things, one from that category’ and he does. Its like magic. But to be honest, I find it super helpful too. Its always easier to focus on and choose something when its in front of you, not in your head. You can totally do this by hand too, in a notebook. If you prefer that.

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I have mine categorised by the ‘main’ ingredient. This is a bit inaccurate since we put very little meat in our meals, but I do think the meat that you use sets the tone for the meal. My categories are: vegetarian, chicken, beef, pork and fish. I’ve colour coded some of the squares – blue is for winter (hearty, warming soups, stews ect) and green is for summer (stuff you can only make in summer like salads, stuff with fresh tomatoes). An instant visual. Right now I totally ignore the blue squares when meal-choosing. I also have a little symbol to indicate whether a meal produces leftovers or not so I can quickly pick a meal for Sunday nights. I also have a section for fast meals (basically no cooking). I do Pilates twice a week in the evenings and on these nights I need fast dinners!

Basically, you can make this as simple or as technical as you like. You can do it by hand, or use a software program like Excel. You can get real fancy with your colour coding, or not bother. My only piece of advice is this:

If you like to cook or are learning to cook and that involves trying new recipes, have a place to record them. It helps with the learning process. It gives you something to fall back on when you run out of kitchen inspo. Its a reminder of how far you’ve come. It tells you a lot about your cooking style. You can share it with friends and family to inspire each other. And it gives you a jumping off point for a little meal planning each week. Some people find plans and routines tedious. I find them freeing. If I have a plan and I totally navigate away from it and try something else, that’s OK. Planning to cook well and try new things also makes me accountable. I know a lot of people that borrow recipes books, have a flick through and never make a thing. If you incorporate a new recipe into your plan, then its in the plan and your more likely to try it.

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Here is a bit more about why I meal plan, if you want to read on. (Or scroll to the end to see my menu planner in full). 

– You spend money more precisely. You don’t buy things that you think you need and don’t use. You buy all the things you need.

– You learn what meals complement each other. Not necessarily in a ‘taste’ way but by learning what meals are good for leftovers, what meals are good for guests, what meals are fast. You can plan ahead to get a balance of flavours and a variety of nutrients.

– You can take advantage of specials because you know what you use a lot of and what you use little of. This leads to having a brilliant stash of good things. Also, things like peanut butter and milo are great but expensive. I try to plan it so that we only buy these things on special.

– To be blunt, you buy less crap. When you have a plan and a list you don’t dilly dally. I rarely chuck ‘extras’ into the trolley.

– Meals flow. This week I want to make lemon and feta spaghetti. I know that one block of feta can accommodate two meals, so I’ll make something else with feta. Or buy avocados for a yum breakfast. This week I want to make curry. I know that goes two nights. I’ll make it on Sunday so that means I don’t have to cook after work on Monday. I want to cook with fresh corn and beans which are cheap and delicious at the moment so one night we’ll have tuna bake which requires a side. Last week we had BLATs – this means we have leftover bacon and buns – more BLATs this week! (A summer food only!)

– Some weeks you have to buy dreaded things like cheese or rubbish bags. Hello expensive! To counteract this I will aim to make more vegetarian, or more soup, or more simple meals that week.

– I’m going to use my mum as an example here (I love you mum!). My folks are super foodie people (no surprises there) and when I visit home I spend a good five minutes gazing longingly into their pantry. You can’t see the back of it. They cook a lot, so it makes sense to have a stocked pantry. But sometimes you get used to this stocked pantry and keep buying more stuff. The pantry items become like décor. Try to plan your meals or some of them using what you already have. This goes for your fridge and freezer too.

Phew! You made it to the end. Thanks for reading. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. I’d love to hear how you plan your meals, if you do. Let me know!

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