Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Pork Sausages and Pumpkin Curry

You can tell I'm on my a staycation, I'm cooking more, well at least in between books (see last post).  So with more time on my hands to play in the kitchen I threw this little number together tonight and well, I think it was pretty damn yum and certainly made a few snags go a long way.

Pork Sausages and Pumpkin Curry

5 organic pork sausages - none of those commercial manufactured Emulsified Meat sticks made from poor quality meat that have numerous additives added to bind, preserve and to enhance the flavour of scrap meat. Go for organic sausages made by a local butcher or a company you trust.  Buy in bulk and freeze.

OK, you got it!  Now take those beautiful pork sausages, brown them and set aside.  When cool, chop into bite size pieces.

Make sauce -  blend in a jug using fork. Honest people, it doesn't require a powered device - you guys are just plain lazy - i still mash my potatoes (when i could eat them) with a fork and a bit of elbow grease and i am the Queen of Garlic Mashed Potato - i have a crown and biceps!

2 tablespoons of Authentic Curry Powder (Clive of India - Why? because that's what my Mum used)
1 rounded tablespoon of cornstarch
2 tablespoons of good tomato paste
salt & pepper
gradually blend in 3/4 cup of milk,    set aside.

( you could substitute coconut milk and coconut flour on paleo diet)

Cut half a small pumpkin (Kent) into large chunks and microwave for just 2 minutes.  The worms in the worm farm are waiting with anticipation for the pumpkin scraps.  They just love them.

Toss in a large pan a good handful of bacon pieces and a large onion cut into chunks. Cook until onion is clear. Add pumpkin for a minute to dry off and then a handful of broccoli florets thinly sliced
Add sauce, gently stir, bring to gentle bubble and lower to a simmer.
Place snow peas (from guess whose garden) on top and cover with glass lid.   I doesn't have to be glass but it sure looks pretty in there.

I'd give it about 8 minutes to ensure the sausages are cooked through and they have absorbed some flavour from the sauce.

OK, since i cant serve rice or mashed potato or pasta what do i serve it with that will absorb the sauce. One option is Cauliflower Rice.

You don't have to go this far, just grate cauliflower and steam till soft and fluffy (like couscous)   Believe it or not, i just shredded some crunchy iceberg lettuce into a bowl and spooned the curry over it.

It was really really good but my husband looked across the table sheepishly and asked "could we just have meat and three veg tomorrow".

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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Noelle's Funnies - Brian's Wedding Night

Brian's Wedding.....

Brian, 77, married Sue, a lovely 25 year old . . .  Since her new husband is so old, Sue decides that after their wedding she and Brian should have separate bedrooms, because she is concerned that her new but aged husband may over-exert himself if they spend the entire night together.
After the wedding festivities Sue prepares herself for bed and the expected knock on the door. Sure enough the knock comes, the door opens and there is Brian, her 77 year old groom, ready for action. They unite as one. All goes well, Brian takes leave of his bride, and she prepares to go to sleep.
After a few minutes, Sue hears another knock on her bedroom door, and it's Brian, Again he is ready for more 'action.'   Somewhat surprised, Sue consents for more coupling. When the newlyweds are done, Brian kisses his bride, bids her a fond good night and leaves.
She is set to go to sleep again, but, aha, you guessed it Brian is back again, rapping on the door and is as fresh as a 25-year-old, ready for more 'action'.  And, once more they enjoy each other. But as Brian gets set to leave again, his young bride says to him, 'I am thoroughly impressed that at your age you can perform so well and so often  I have been with guys less than a third of your age who were only good once. You are truly a great lover, Brian'
Brian, somewhat embarrassed, turns to Sue and says:  'You mean I was here already?'
The moral of the story:   Don't be afraid of getting oldAlzheimer's has its advantages.
P.S.     Have I posted this to you already?

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Help - Homemade Yoghurt Recipes Needed

THIS IS NOT A HOW TO - this is a request for all your fabulous recipes, tricks and tips. I am the first to put my hand up when i don't know something and will probably be that annoying person in a lecture that asks more than just a few questions.  Its not seeking attention, its a genuine thirst for knowledge.  

I bought one of these yogurt makers on special for $10.50 (half price) yesterday and one sachet of Greek Yogurt with Honey, just to try.  I do not intend however to be paying for sachets every time i want to make yogurt.  

Note, i prefer the thicker type rather than runny so keep that in mind when you inundate me with healthy yogurt recipes with as little carbs (read sugar) as possible.  The boys are probably going to want some sort of flavour as well.

I've done a little research and was told that the UHT milk from Aldi is great for yogurt and does not require any heating or cooling to kill bacteria.  It is also very handy to have stored in the pantry.

3 Steps to Use EasiYo

So let it rip people.  I'm waiting ...........

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Staycation Gardening and Reading

This is today's pickings from my small suburban backyard veggie garden.  Banana peppers, a variety of tomatoes, green dwarf beans, snow peas and spring onions.   Later on i picked oregano, garlic and basil to make the evening meal.   I am besotted.  Truly.  I could spend all day out there just fiddling with this and that. Today i had a visitor, Ella the Beautiful, and i was so proud to show her how everything is growing.  I've a crop of tomatoes just turning colour and if i can keep the birds away, they will be gobbled up, fresh, on salads or gently warmed with eggs.  I will admit to missing toast.

I'm finding that everything grows better when you pack it all in.   In just this small section of one of the wall garden we have rosemary, dwarf beans, basil, spring onions and several tomato bushes that reach the eaves, peppers, lemon balm, dwarf marigolds and alyssum .

Don't ask me how ill be picking these ones.  I tried pruning off some of the leaves and its way above my head even on a step ladder.  Plenty of flowers up there.

Ella believes they are so healthy as they are protected by the eaves, get the warmth from the wall (which faces North East and they are watered by soaker hose which is now well under the mulch created from leaves and grass clippings.  Birds are my only enemy, so far.

Under the protection of the sunflowers and corn are tiny yellow zucchinis.  I'm keeping my eye on them, no marrows this year.  
I think having the lavender bushes throughout my veggies are helping with pollination.  They are always covered in bees.

Small but mighty.  These dwarf yellow capsicums are so sweet and the dwarf beans are prolific for such a small plant.

  My lettuce are a bit small at the moment but throughout the bed i have baby tomatoes coming up.

Which leads me to these beauties.  What to do with them?  "Don't tell me she is actually going to pick something and use it instead of just looking at it" i hear Jessie say.

Stuffed Banana Peppers in Meat Sauce

If you are not on a carb free diet then you could do this with cannelloni.

Start by cutting the end off near the stem and using a knife, de-seed them and wash out, shake dry.

Mix together

250gms of ricotta cheese
2 cloves of garlic, squished and chopped (from my garden, of course)
2 sprigs of oregano and 4 large basil leaves (same again) chopped
2 slices of mild salami (which were left over from home made pizzas with meat base), chopped finely

Using a knife, stuff small amounts down the end of the pepper to fill and as it thickens just use a spoon.
Place on top of home-made meat sauce (because there isn't any other kind worth using) which was taken from the freezer.

I covered this with foil for 30 min on 200 (spooning sauce over)  and then took the foil off for 15 min on 180.

I served it with a sweet potato bake and my green beans.  Yes, i can use sweet potato on my diet on occasions.  It has such great nutritional value and is low on GI and is therefore acceptable despite being a carb.

Sweet Potatoes & Paleo

Just layer in a buttered dish, sliced sweet potato,  onions and cream with sprinkle of cheese, repeat several times, cover and put in with the pepper dish.  Take foil off the same time and serve together.

The stuffed peppers were really lovely and im glad i put the chopped salami in the ricotta for flavour. Funny when you are having no carbs or sugar how sweet veggies can taste.


My summer break started mid 24th and i will return to work on 5th.  Apart from gardening and doing a few projects i plan on reading.  I may have to do some housework in there as well but boring!!!!

So far I've finished the new Cathy Kelly book.

and I'm just finishing the last book in this trilogy by Nora Roberts.  That's 4 books so far which i highly recomment.   I love Irish writers or books set in Ireland.

I've got the third book in the series by Fiona McCallum  (following Saving Grace & Time will Tell) to read next

and then if i have time, i might squeeze in The Road Back and/or Gray Mountain.

Yes, i am a prolific reader and its been a while (maybe six months) but once i start, well..........

So, im off to read some more.  My next post will be about the raising of the great grape trellis.  I've squeezed in painting the poles today.   Living fences and no more neighbours clothes line, here i come.

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas in Oz - Catch Up

Goodness, when your page views get down to just a few a day, you know its time to write another.  I've been so slack writing because you guys have all been so prolific over the last few weeks in blogland and Facebook that by the time I've waded through everyone's posts its time for bed.  So here is yet another Christmas post that covers the last week including another trip home to my family in NSW and the general madness of trying to finish work on Christmas Eve so i can enjoy what will be an 11 day break.

This is where i plan spending my summer holidays - my back yard.  
OK, so backtracking to the 18th, Glenda, I , Chelsea and Maison drove home to NSW to celebrate my brothers 60th birthday with all the family at a small Chinese restaurant in Leeton. Rob was working.  I was a surprise for Mum as she really wanted all 6 of her kids to be together and with Carol from Sydney visiting for a few weeks, i was going to be the only one missing.  It was really hard to choose between pleasing my Mum and being where i was needed at work but I'm so glad i went as her face was priceless when i walked in later with others.  I'd been dropped in Narrandera at the salon for an afternoon of hair attention from my talented niece.  She waved her magic wand and all the grey disappeared and appropriately placed  blond foils now disguise where they will turn up.  It was a good night (except for when a naughty Glenda tipped a cup of ice down my back and i had to sit with a wet rump for the night) but after the trip and celebration , we were all very tired. With all the beds taken i volunteered to have the munchkins in my king size bed.  Never again.  Maison was a dream but Chelsea does a hundred laps of the bed while she sleeps.  Either that or she is hugging you around the neck.   She definitely spent the next two night with her Nan.  

Travelling with younger children (even when they are very well behaved) certainly is different than the other trips Glenda and I have made home for the weddings this year.  Less coffee and singing and lots of parks involved.

Maison wanted me to be sure and put this photo in my blog showing how high he can go.  

Later at Mum's, Maison and I had a Connect 4 marathon of which i only just won by one game.  Maison is 9.  Several games we ended up using all the tokens so it was by no means an easy win.

On Saturday we all arrived at Sandra's in Narrandera mid afternoon for the family Christmas Day.  Whilst the ladies were inside chatting and making the most amazing gourmet salads (another post) the boys were down the back yard with the children making water bombs, sliding on detergent laden plastic and generally having lots of wet fun together.   The meat was BBQ'd expertly by the men (no burnt sacrifices in this family - its BBQ art at its best) and we all spread ourselves among the long stretch of tables under the gum tree.

This is what we are all waiting for - Mum's Christmas Boiled  Pudding.  Its so rich and lovely with proper egg custard and ice-cream. 
Now that all the younger ones are married and spending Christmas Day with the In-Laws it was decided that the weekend preceding was given over to our family.   Dinner was followed by the usual volleyball match which is hilarious for those of us watching (or behind the camera) .  It starts out including the children but after coaxing them away with ice-cream the serious match begins.  It takes a while to get into the swing of it but it soon gets a little more serious.

Sister Sam after  a back hander

I think Hunter had his mind on other things.  Lots of dirt means you are having fun.

A sneaky shot of Mum enjoying seeing her family spending time together.   
Laryn with his two little boys, Blake and Hunter.  All three live in blue singlets, the uniform for Ozzie truckers, which Dad just happens to be.  
My plate of salads with BBQ onions on the side.  

I love my big family.  We all care about and for each other and in-laws are just absorbed into the mass. Everyone ensures that they are giving of themselves to make our time together comfortable and fun.  Children are handed over from adult to adult no matter who they belong to and there is genuine affection for everyone. The men in our family work just as hard as the women to bring the food together and clean up is a group effort.    

Back at work on Monday, it was a quiet few days on the phone, with most companies closing for the break on the previous Friday.   I managed to wrap everything up by Wednesday lunchtime and so it was a manic afternoon of shopping for me.  Lucky i managed to get a few gifts up home.

Our Christmas decorations extended to decorating the coffee table and making our life size Stig into a reindeer Santa draped in tinsel.  Oh the shame of it all........

I was chilling on Christmas Day and so I surprisingly didn't take any photos.  We had the strangest meal but everyone was happy with "our favourites" meal.   I'd checked with everyone before hand and they were given the option of listing their favourite meal.   Bell opted for a margarita pizza and coronas followed by chocolate. Glenda wasn't given and option because she would say "I'm fine" so she got a porterhouse steak and salad following by peppermint chocolate ice-cream (score).  Rob had Tassie Salmon and prawns and Tom wanted croissants with bacon and cheese.  I of course have missed my fruit and crackers and so i opted for a platter of both with cheese.  None of this is everyday food and it was a special treat.

Phew!  I've made it to the other side of Christmas and I'm still in one piece.  Its Boxing Day and after a wander in the garden (transplanting a few lettuce seedlings that seem to all grow in the one spot despite the fact that i sprinkled the seeds all over) I've had a lazy breakfast of leftovers from yesterday whilst perusing my new preserving book.  Doesn't everybody have brie and pate for breakfast?  I'm sure they do in France.
Yesterday was to be my only day of diet sin (which included grains and fruit) but i cant bring myself to throw them out and so today will be my "last supper" of forbidden foods.  I did as was suggested by one of my readers and grazed all day to keep my metabolism up (somehow i don't think this is what she meant).

My Christmas List including some preserving tools and Rob managed to convince Santa to come up with the goods.  

No more burnt fingers getting the jars out of hot water or handling hot lids.  
My other scored booty includes a mega garden scoop and ergonomic secateurs from Rob and Tom, my signature daily perfume "Lovely" from Glenda. Movie tickets from Bell and some English Breakfast tea from the children.

Now that is one serious garden scoop - designed for going in under veggies and then shaking the soil off.   Its so heavy duty, Rob wont be able to break this one.   He used my last  plastic one as a shovel!!!! 
As you can see in the Santa picture up front, there are some lovely baked goods which were home-made by Veronica from work (Fruit Cake, Fruit Mince Tarts and a Shortbread Round) along with two novels, more vouchers, and a generous sum from my Mother In Law which is earmarked for the garden.  I love how all my gifts were well thought out and specifically chosen with me in mind.

Today is a quiet day for me but Rob is building Tom's present.  Its a new gaming computer and being a tech head he doesn't just buy a computer from the shop.  Each of the components were sourced separately and assembled to become one megadonk PC.  It has 3 terabyte of storage and 8G of ram.  The motherboard and graphic are all designed for gaming.   Hopefully, this one will last him a while.  Nothing of course is wasted and so the old one gets cleaned up and will replace our other one (that is XP)  to be the secondary gaming machine.  We often have visitors and the boys will play each other or together .

I'm needed to go watch Total Recall with Tom at the moment (lucky me, i was planning to go outside) so i will sign off this post and do the Mother thing.  My next post will be about the garden that went totally crazy while i was away.  They had intermittent rain and sunshine that made everything go berserk.

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

Superfood Pumpkins and My Diet

Isn't this cool?  I arrived home with all the materials which were soon snapped up by Tom.  On Friday evening, he built me a pumpkin trellis which looks exactly as i imagined it would.  There is almost 60m of clothes line that has been threaded through the holes in the star pickets.  Each corner of the metal grid above rests neatly in the little cutouts in the top of the pickets, almost as if that's what they were designed for.  My raised beds don't allow for wandering vines and so like most things in my veggie garden IT WILL BE CONTAINED and trained to go vertical. Obviously I'm not growing Queensland Blues in this bed and so i have chosen a variety of pumpkin more in keeping with the trellis and space available.

Talk about marketing - pumpkin is apparently now a superfood.  Listen to the spiel on the back of the label.


The are certain foods that are especially beneficial to your health.
They may be high in protein or mineral content, concentrated with antioxidants or be a great source of cholesterol-lowering fibre.  
A healthy diet should incorporate an array of these superfoods in order to maintain weight, combat disease and prevent premature ageing.  

Pumpkin Microwave  Cucurbita maxima

Low in calories, containing no saturated fats or cholesterol.  Rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and dietary fibre. The seeds themselves are a good source of mineral zinc and can be dried for a sweet, nutty treat.  

A 'bush' pumpkin variety with a compact vine and small fruit.  Plant in full sun in well-prepared, fertile soil.  
Once flowering commences, fertilise around the base of the plant, repeating every 4-5 weeks.  Ready to harvest when stalk becomes crisp and the vine has died off.   Can be stored in a cool, ventilated position indoors for many months.  

Wow, a superfood.  I thought it was just pumpkin.  What i did note was that it was a 'bush' variety and that perhaps i wont need much trellis.  I'll have to companion plant it with something that can go all the way up. Maybe some cucumbers.  Do you know that in my circle of friends many of them don't eat pumpkin.  Its considered pig food!  I've even offered them my amazing pumpkin soup and they wont touch it.

My truss cherry tomatoes are growing well. So, well that i have been out there several times in the last few weeks to cut back the leaves to allow the light and air in.

In my quest for low carb foods i made some soup this afternoon from the tops and thick bottoms of celery. I made a box of celery sticks for snack during the week.

I chopped up a couple of onions and went outside and Ta Da! picked my very first head of garlic.  Its small, but it looks like garlic to me.

I tossed the whole head in some butter (the real stuff) with the onions, added some chicken stock, pepper, a few carrots and boiled it until it was soft enough to puree.   Once pureed i folded in some full fat sour cream.

Gosh was this nice and a perfect snack to fill me up in the afternoon.

I know what you are thinking.  She's on a diet and eating butter and full fat sour cream?  My diet or "change of lifestyle" excludes grains (especially wheat) and carbohydrates, especially sugars including fructose (i cheat a little here as i put a few berries in my shakes).  Its basically a palleo diet that includes dairy.  Rob and I are excluding all processed foods and artificial sweeteners and trying to work with proteins and fresh vegetables (and a little fruit).  I am trying to get my body into "ketosis" whereby my energy will come from the stored fat and not anything i put in my mouth.   So far, its working and Ive dropped about 7kgs in a few weeks with no exercise.  Best of all i feel great!  I'm not as tired as i was before.

How to Lose Weight

LCHF for Beginners    check out the section on theory

Excerpt from The Big Fat Surprise

If you can be bothered to look at the links, id be interested in your opinion.   I found the link between Vitamin D deficiency (common in middle aged women) and weight loss interesting and have started taking my supplements again.  

What i can tell you is that a miss bread and crackers.  I need to go recipe hunting for replacements to satisfy that crunch.  You are all posting fabulous pictures of Christmas goodies and it is driving me mad, so just stop it!

Exercise will be introduced this week and i have a piece of equipment sitting out on the deck to help.  I can honestly say that i have never touched this gym.  Its was bought by Rob about a year ago on an interest free plan.  Strength training eats up stored fat and so I'll be out there from this week.

There are diagrams for all the exercises you can do on this gym on the vertical pole.  The stereo is in place so i just need to pop in my IPod. 
I think i might have to do some research as i have a tendency to bulk up and get over sized biceps and thighs when i use weights.  I'd like long lean muscles but I'm not sure that's possible with my short limbs.  I know about using small weights with greater reps but i still get bulky.  With my wobbly feet, swimming is the best exercise for me but our pool has been closed for a $45.4 million refurb and will be open mid 2015.  I miss the hydro pool.

So i started off talking about a pumpkin trellis and ended up talking about my weight loss. Fingers crossed that they both work.

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