Wednesday 24 June 2015

Going Green!!

We're going green here at Edward House at the moment - and LOVING it! :0) Our winter vege crop is looking fabulous at the moment ... one of the best crops ever. 

The snow peas are plotting to take over the universe ... but we don't mind cos we're enjoying the fruits of that battle! :0) After a rough start in life (ie. next door neighbour's dog, large bones, burial in my broccoli patch - GRRRR!) the broccoli is planning to assist the snow peas in it's bid for universal domination ... this was our very first harvest tonight ... and tasted DEEEEEE-LICIOUS with steak for dinner. :0) The silverbeet was perfectly fresh in quiche and stirfry over the weekend. The cauliflower is playing catch up, but I think we'll be enjoying the forerunners in the next week or so. The strawberries have lots of flowers and the beetroot are getting the hint and growing nicely too. I LOOOOOOVE having the room to grow our own garden-fresh goodies ... It's much easier to be green. :0)

Wishing you more crunch in your crispy greens! :0) Til next time ...



Sunday 21 June 2015

A.D.O.P Kicks In!!

Helloooooooo!! Hope you're all well and having a fabulous weekend! It's been a bit of a busy whirl-wind-y kind of week ... not that that seems to be unusual for the Meares' Madhouse, really! :0) I feel like a bad mama-bear that I haven't posted for a while, so thought I'd drop in and show you a few of my new treasures gathered during my absence.

Now ... you're probably wondering about my post title ... well ... those of you who know me in 'real life' or who've been popping in here for a while will know that I suffer from A.D.O.P ... Attention Deficit ... OH! PRETTY!! :0) This leads to many distractions ... and many lovely side-trips! Tee! Hee! Hee! So last weekend, my A.D.O.P was in overdrive cos my Bestest-Buddy-Since-We-Were-Nine Lynette came up the 'hill' for a sleep-over play date - YAY! It's been about five months since we've been able to catch up for a play date, so we were both ready to party. :0) Which led to a whole weekend of A.D.O.P moments and a whole lot of fun!! :0)

I won't share our itinerary with you ... you'll be EXHAUSTED! :0) But I will share some of my new pretties that followed me home as a result of some A.D.O.P. moments.

One of our stops was at a second hand store that is one of those spots where some 'junky' pieces are way over-priced, but every now and then, something special is nicely UNDER-priced. One of the latter was ...

... A pretty 'new' trio set for my ever-growing collection. Doesn't that pretty pattern just scream "SPRING" to you? And in the midst of a rather chilly winter on a drizzly, overcast weekend, it was just the splash of PRETTY I needed.

Here's its "pedigree" ... I confess to not knowing too much about which makers are 'good' or not ... my collection is all about "PRETTY", so some trios have cost $5 and some have cost $45 ... if they catch my eye ... they come home with me. :0) More pretties that caught my eye at one of our local antique shops were ...

... three pretty plates. I decided a while ago that I wanted to collect some 'odd' little plates that would be perfect to pop a before-bedtime snack on ... you know ... a little piece of chocolate slice (remind me to share a quick and easy chocolate Wheatbix slice recipe with you one day!!) a couple of choc chip bickies or two ... or if you're being 'gooder' than me ... a banana! :0) So when I spotted these three plates for only a few dollars each, they seemed the perfect way to start my 'odd' plate collection. I'm going with a bit of a 'theme' here ... an outer border of solid colour (any colour) with flowers in the middle or on the border ... it's that solid circle of colour that appeals. I'll just keep adding to my little collection as something jumps out to cause an A.D.O.P. moment for me. Tee! Hee! Hee!

Apart from a play date weekend, a crazy-busy work fortnight, Mum and Dad returning from their latest house-sitting adventures and some epic garden pruning efforts yesterday (OH! My aching muscles today!!!) ... there's been a bit of Secret Squirrel stitching going on and I've been stitching down the binding on my new flannel blankie ... YAY!! I'll share that with you next time. But right now, I need to go and stir my pot of home made chicken soup that is simmering away ready for lunch, so I shall sign off with just a little reminder to the OPAM gals ... don't forget to keep your sidebar list of finishes up to date ... the end of the month rolls around quicker than you think! :0) Til next time ...



Monday 8 June 2015

A Little Taste Of Tuscany!


Why am I typing to you in Italian? (and just quietly, even typing it I probably have a horrible accent! Tee! Hee! Hee!) Well ... We've been enjoying a little taste of Tuscany this week in the Meares' Madhouse ... well ... my version of Tuscan tastes, anyways. :0) Let me explain ...

You see ... last weekend when we were off on a road trip to Childers, we drove past a little roadside produce stall that had 'seconds' tomatoes for a REALLY good price ... like ... two plastic shopping bags full of ripe tomatoes for just $5 really good price!! And that very attractive offer just couldn't be passed up.

For a while now, I've been leaning more and more towards wanting to 'make our own' of as many pantry basics as possible ... for a few reasons. The biggest is ... home made just TASTES better!! :0) Wouldn't you agree? The second is that there is usually a bit of a money-saving element to making your own. The third, and one that is becoming more important to me, is ... I know EXACTLY what goes into it!!

So ... those tomatoes came home with us and I embarked on a ... rather experimental! ... journey to make our own tomato/pasta sauce to bottle and pop in the pantry to be enjoyed through winter. Step one was to find a recipe. Hmmm ... easier said than done! Some of the recipes I found thanks to Mr Google had odd ingredients. Others had tinned ingredients ... which rather defeated my purpose! Finally ... I called upon my blogging buddy Toni Alexander for some direction, as I knew she had made fresh tomato sauce earlier in the year ... Thanks Toni! :0)

Thus informed (roughly!!! :0) ) Mum and I set about making our own version of Tuscan Tomato Sauce.

Step one ...

... chop the tops off the tomatoes (and cut out any slightly marked or gooshy bits that had relegated them to the 'seconds' classification in the first place), peel and roughly chop some onions to scatter through the tomatoes, peel some garlic and pop it amongst the tomatoes, too. Then scatter LOTS of yummy freshly picked garden herbs all over the tomatoes, scatter some sea salt and freshly ground pepper over them all, before sloshing some olive oil over the lot and popping them into the oven to roast for half an hour ... or so! Until the skins on the tomatoes start to peel away and the onion and garlic start to brown up. And ... AAAAAAAHHHHH!!! The gorgeous aroma that wafted through the house as these were roasting away! You really did feel like you could be in a villa in Tuscany with someone's Nona cooking up a storm while the summer breeze blew gently through the olive groves! :0) Yes ... my vivid imagination DOES get me into trouble from time to time ... but it can also be a lot of fun! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Step two ...

... peel the skins off the tomatoes ... they came away pretty easily after the roasting. Pop the tomatoes, onions etc into a big pot and pour all of the liquid from the roasting pans in, too. Do you like my pretty 'retro' enamel pot? It was my Grandma's and was perfect for sauce making. :0) I brought the pot to the boil, then turned the heat back a bit to keep it simmering away nicely for an hour or so, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes had softened up. I then used my barmix to blend the tomatoes etc into a deliciously thick sauce ready to bottle.

Step three ...

... use a small heat-proof jug to transfer the DELICIOUS smelling sauce into bottles and seal them up. I left mine sitting on the kitchen bench to cool and it was very satisfying to hear all the lids 'popping' as the vacuum seal kicked in. Oh ... and even though I hid them for the photo, we've labelled the bottles with the date the sauce was made and the ingredients.

Now, I know there are bound to be some REAL Italian Nonas out there muttering at me in Italian that I have NOT made a true Tuscan tomato sauce ... but I don't mind. :0) We've actually made two batches of the tomato sauce now, cos the first one was so delicious that we went back to get more tomatoes! :0) We've used it with lean mince to make spaghetti bolognaise, with some diced bacon, mushrooms and Kalamata olives over spiral pasta and just by itself over some cooked pasta ... and each version was DELIZIOSO!

When all is said and done, I feel pretty chuffed that I've used fresh seasonal produce with no added colours or preservatives that we can enjoy through winter when tomatoes are more expensive (and not always Australian produce). You can bet that in the future, I will be looking for more ways to take advantage of fresh, local seasonal produce to preserve in some way for 'later' when its season is over ... you know ... like our great-grandmothers used to do. (Who knew our great-grandmas were so clever?! Tee! Hee! Hee! 

We're going to a big farmers' market next weekend in our local area, so I'm hoping to get some more ideas there. Who knows what country my home cooking will take me to next! Frankly ... it's about as close to an overseas holiday as we'll be having any time soon. :0)

Right ... off to hang some washing ... and decide what's for lunch cos all that talk about food has made me HUNGRY! :0)

Before I go, though, a little reminder to the OPAM gals ... Sweet Peg has done the prize draw this month and the winners are listed on her blog ... remember to always check in with both of our blogs, as we alternate doing the prize draw. And while you're visiting my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime, please send her cyber hugs and support, as she has just lost her dear mother. Big hugs to you, my Sweet Friend! Til next time ...



Thursday 4 June 2015

A Quick Trip!

Here I am, a week after my last post ... and I'm pretty sure that Dr Who and his wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff have been messing with me again, cos it seems like just yesterday that it was Thursday. EEP! The year is just zooming by WAY too fast for me!! :0)

Now, part of the reason this week seems to have disappeared is the fact that we took a little trip last weekend four hours north to Childers, where Mum and Dad were house-sitting for a couple of weeks. It was a "two-birds-one-stone" kind of deal ... we got a weekend away without having the cost of accommodation, plus we were only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from my Grandma at Bargara. Don't you love it when a plan comes together?! :0)

So off we went to Grandma's house ... wait! ... I seem to remember that happening in a fairy tale and things not working out so well! Tee! Hee! Hee! We started our visit with my Beloved Geek Boy installing a new TV for Grandma ... at 92, she says she's starting to get forgetful (what's MY excuse!!) and was starting to have trouble with dealing with two remotes. (TV and set-top box) So now she has a bigger screen to watch her beloved Broncos and only has to worry about one remote. We left her with a list of easy instructions ... and GB's mobile number! :0) And we'd worked up an appetite, so it was off to the local tavern for lunch ...

Here's me telling Grandma to "smile nice"! :0) She looks pretty sprightly for 92, don't you think? Grandma ... not ME!! Cheeky gals!! :0)

The weekend also included some relaxing time kicking back with Mum and Dad at a lovely little boutique winery that we found near Childers ... Ohana Winery And Exotic Fruit. We had a YUMMY cheese platter lunch, followed by some tasting and tippling ... HIC!! Tee! Hee! Hee! The winery is run by a lovely, friendly young couple who moved from the opposite side of Australia two years ago to buy the winery and make their mark after learning their craft in the Western Australian wine region. I think these fun people are going to go far. We were pretty impressed with the port and several of the liqueurs were YUMMO and will be DELICIOUS poured over vanilla ice-cream. MMMMMM !! Oops! I'm drooling on the keyboard now! Tee! Hee! Hee! Let's just say ... we stocked up!!! :0)

We're not really closet soaks, I promise you! There was a great "Buy 6 Get The 7th Free" deal going on and we weren't sure when we'd get back to Childers again ... so ...! (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge! That's our story and we're sticking to it!! ) Strawberry liqueur, Blackberry liqueur, Golden Rum liqueur and some smooth port. Do you see the "His" and "Hers" tipples there? :0)

And then we were back into another busy, hectic, crazy week. So ... no sewing here this week ... but the OPAM gals have been stitching up a storm. My GORGEOUS Partner-In-OPAM-Crime Sweet Peg and I have done our blog-hopping and the prize draw will be happening in the next few days, so make sure you check back with us. And if you haven't yet emailed your tally to Sweet Peg or me ... QUICK!!! You've got a day or two at most before you miss out!

Right now, however, my nose is startling to tingle with the cold (temps have dipped below zero for the last three nights running and Jack Frost has been painting our back deck crispy white - EEK!) so I'm off to crawl into my nice warm bed and pretend I'm a hibernating bear who doesn't have to come out til spring ... wishful thinking! :0) Hope your week has been fab and that your weekend includes some fun stuff. Til next time ...



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