Friday, August 30, 2019

Home life and the next Scrappy Vintage Kitchen block...

Do you remember going to the grocers and weighing your produce on big scales like these?
I loved filling the bowl and watching the needle spin until it landed on the correct weight.
If there was too much Nana could remove some of the produce and if there was not enough she'd add some more. Mostly she bought just what we needed that day or maybe for the next.
That was an era when only seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables were available (unless you bought canned) so there was such excitement mid summer when plums arrived to carry us through into autumn, or when cabbages were abundant in winter and those summer cherries at Christmas.
We got excited about food, about what we'd find back in stock at the grocer, you know?

The complete pattern for My Scrappy Vintage Kitchen can be found HERE in my Etsy Shop

Today as I walked through the fruit and veg section at the supermarket I saw cherries and grapes from the USA, asparagus from Mexico plus more produce from other countries.
And here were are in Australia, being offered 'fresh' produce which has travelled half way around the thank you. I can wait for local.
(no offence to my overseas friends, as I'm sure you understand what I mean)

Shopping local...

Part of the process for my husband and I to simplify and be mindful of our purchases, expenses and taste, is to choose only Australian grown for our meals and sometimes that's not the easiest thing.
Even tinned fruit and veg from brands we used to trust would supply only Australian ingredients have begun to let us down. Reading labels in Woolies and Coles has become essential because we want to support our farmers (who have a hard enough time as it is). 

Tinned food...

I made an apricot cake yesterday because I had a tin of apricots (homegrown Australian) in the pantry plus plenty of eggs and all the other ingredients needed. I love that we can still have local apricots or peaches this way out of season.

I haven't mentioned this before but for three months now I have been eating very mindfully - mostly all fresh ingredients with a sweet treat as dessert each night. During this time I've lost over 11 kg (around 25 pounds), dropped two dress sizes and feel more energetic than I have in many years. I'm not missing out on what I genuinely love but have ditched chocolate and lollies because they were my everyday weakness and three months along I don't desire them anymore. 
I also swim every day (all through winter) and move my body more in both housework and the garden (as well as playtimes with Cully May and Rafaella). Without all that extra weight my knees don't hurt anymore and my migraines have decreased due to the removal of all that concentrated sugar I once consumed.

Finding good  low-fat and not-so-sweet dessert recipes which are satisfying for my husband has been a challenge because he's rather fussy with them, but this was a success so thought I'd share it with you.

·         800g can of apricots (or peaches)
·         3 eggs
·         pinch of salt
·         90 ml of lukewarm water
·         70g sugar
·         Grated zest of one lemon
·         150g plain flour
·         1 teaspoon baking powder

1.   Preheat oven to 180C.
2.   Butter a pring form cake pan around the sides and place a circle of baking paper on the bottom.
3.   Separate the eggs into two different bowls. Make sure the bowl with the egg whites in clean and dry.
4.   Beat the egg whites with salt until stiff peaks form.
5.   Beat the yolks with sugar until creamy, then add the water and whisk on a slow speed for a few seconds.
6.   Add lemon zest, flour and baking powder and mix well.
7.   Fold the egg whites into the cake mix very carefully, being careful not to overmix. You only just want to combine everything so there’ll still be flecks of egg white in the batter.
8.   Pour the batter into the pan and distribute the fruit on top.
9.   Bake for 35 minutes.
10.      Let the cake cool for 10- 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

In the garden...

I harvested our first beans yesterday!
My beloved planted beans in the front yard to add nutrients to the soil because after he'd dug up the concrete which was there when we bought the house last year the soil beneath was parched and horrid. Then came the floods in January/February. So in May he set to work adding new soil, sand, compost and mulch to the area in preparation for next year when we plan to have a fully productive vegetable garden there. We really didn't expect to reap a bean harvest now!

Carrots are also in the front garden, planted to break up the ground, and they are thriving so it shouldn't be long before my apron pockets fill with them as well.

Out back we have nine or ten pineapple plants in various stages of growth and one has just begun to put forth fruit...

Our cherry tomatoes have kept us in tomato heaven for months already and after trimming away the spent stems and leaves they looked a bit sad and sorry. Hubby thought that was the end of their season but leaves and flowers have cropped up everywhere and long hands of green plump tomatoes are forming all over the plants. 

We decided to plant out more tomatoes as well, so he put up a frame for them. We have a Black Russian which is now in flower and a small Italian tomato, something like a mini Roma which already has fruit. Apparently they're perfect for drying so that's what I'll be doing.

We've also planted birds eye chilli and jalapenos, both of which are in flower and beginning to produce their first fruits.

Something you might notice behind the bird feeder in the above photo is the clothesline. If you've followed along for a bit you'll remember it was on the other side of the yard. We want more shade on that side of the house so hubby moved the clothesline over and planted a Poinciana tree where it used to be (bottom right of the photo below). The tree is thriving and I much prefer having the line where it is now.

You can see a bale of sugar cane mulch beside the clothesline. Hubby had just mowed over the first bale to break it down into smaller pieces for the compost. He used the second bale to mulch part of the garden.

We've been visiting a cane farmer down at Majors Creek every few weeks to buy bales. They're quite expensive at garden shops or Bunnings for much smaller amounts so we thought it would be better for us and for the farmer if we cut out the middle man. 

We're only a couple of days away from Spring but already the temperatures are rising quickly and the sun is fierce during the day...I'm counting down the months to next May when the weather once again cools enough to really enjoy life in the tropics. But having said that I also intend to enjoy the time between now and then by planning ahead for more garden improvement, digging even deeper into my Bible study time, preparing for and launching the next big project for Elefantz, and learning more about self sufficiency and the value of those 'older ways' our grandparents lived by.


I used one of the September Rewind Stitchery Club patterns to make a new bookmark this week. Since Monday every morning after my husband has left for work I brew a cuppa and go sit quietly to dwell on one chapter of Ruth Chou Simon's beautiful book, Gracelaced - my Bible beside me for following the Scripture references, further reading and contemplation. 
Initially I had a scrap of paper for a bookmark, then I cut a length of silk ribbon...but as I was tidying up the sewing room yesterday and about to put this little Topiary Bird stitchery away the thought came to make it a bookmark. So glad I did.

It was pure coincidence when I opened the book to take these photos that the colours I used in the stitchery were the same as those inside the cover.

What a treasure this book is.
It's long been on my heart to buy a copy but I needed to wait awhile. Such a blessing now.

Bookmarks don't have to be complicated. 
Do you have a small stitchery you've no idea how to use?
This is simply backed with scrap fabric and a pretty ribbon sewn into the top.

If you like this little stitchery of mine it's over HERE but only until September 5th.

Well, my love's Jeep has just pulled in to the driveway so I'm going to sign off and put the kettle on. A slice of that apricot cake might be good too.

May the Lord's blessings abundantly flow over your home in the days and weeks ahead, assuring you of His faithfulness, kindnesses, forgiveness and bounty. 



Allie said...

LOVING the Vintage Kitchen in colors!!!! Oh Jenny seeing what your beautiful yard is producing is amazing, God is so good!! I can't imagine enjoying fresh pineapple - what a blessing. I agree with buying local and supporting your farmers. Local produce here is so expensive though....
That bookmark is so sweet! Love you, girl!

Little Quiltsong said...

It is so interesting to see and hear how different your gardening is in the tropics - and yet so much the same :)! We have the deep brown soil and use mostly sheep manure (if you want less weeds) to revive a garden's nutrients. So happy to see the changes you are making and the joy you are experiencing with your own home. Love your stitchery and bookmark. Thank you for these patterns and also for the lovely apricot recipe. Sounds delicious!

Unknown said...

I am always blessed every time I read your posts.

Tammy said...

Your garden is magnificent. Your cake looks and sounds delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe with us. And I love block 5 of the vintage kitchen. Thank you for sharing that too. Have a blessed weekend.

Dots said...

Hi Jenny, I have that same recipe. I have made it with lemon, apples, pineapple, peaches and cherries. My mother loved it. My daughters make it, too. Of course it is new to the grandchildren that think it is just the best! Lol, But it is very good. Like you, we try to shop American. Not easy. We do get produce from Farmer's Markets as we can. Mostly because it is so much better home grown. Plus, from gardens of family members that grow things. Being seasonable here in the States, we are at the tail end of summer heading into Fall. Apples, and pumpkins, potatoes will soon be appearing. Warm days will decline into colder weather fast. So as Fall rolls the leaves begin to change colors here. A beautiful time of year. We have four distinct Seasons here that change like clockwork. Which is nice really. Good for you on losing some weight. Quite an accomplishment. It's bound to make you feel better. Take care.

Nanna Chel said...

You must feel so much better having lost such a lot of weight, Jenny. If I am baking as I rarely do I use Dextrose instead of sugar which I buy in Big W in the home brew section. You can grow so much up there in winter that we can't due to the frosts I guess. I love the bookmark you sent me a while back and think of you every time I use it. Enjoy the weekend with your hubby. It is even going to be 28C here next week and in the thirties elsewhere.

Winifred said...

That's great you feel so much better Jenny. Luckily we're not sweet eaters and now the children & grandchildren aren't here so much I don't bake much. We do love scones but rarely make them now, I don't like them after being frozen so we would just eat them all!

You're doing really well with the gardening and it's great to support locally produced crops. It's so wasteful having stuff flown in from all over the world.
I love homegrown tomatoes, it reminds me of when I was little going to my granddad's allotment where he grew yellow ones especially for me. Our last crop of tomatoes we grew on the patio was wonderful but just before they were ready they got a blight which wrecked the whole crop. Apparently you really need a greenhouse to protect them if it's wet overnight! We have a spare bit of garden at the side of the house but our soils is awful, hard clay so next year I'm going to get some grow bags & see how I can grow some lettuces & herbs. You've inspired me.

Kay said...

I do love special book marks. I have a drawer full and am often adding to it, some of my book marks are fabric, others are card, some are gift cards, post cards, whatever take my fancy. However, they have to feel right for the book so I have to spend time choosing which will be used every time I start a new book. Thank you for the recipe, I love trying new baking and am on less sugar too so this is helpful. x

Lin said...

Thank you Jenny. xx

Susie said...

You have been very busy haven't you. My mum is going to head up to visit her sister in Cairns from Melbourne in October. She has decided she prefers it at that time as they are 84 and 82 years old and float around in the pool together all day. It's too cold for the both of them in the pool in the tropical Winter. As for us - it's bliss all year round. Good on you for losing weight also. I really need to and I hope you can inspire me to stay off the chocolate too.
Thank you for the stitchery.

Janice said...

I always find it amusing that you have the exact opposite growing season to us. There is no way we will be planting our beans or tomatoes any time soon. However, that makes us very luck in Australia in that we can have fresh seasonal veg all year round without it being imported. We definitely don't buy imported asparagus. Waiting for the relatively short local growing season makes it all the more special. We eat plenty during that time. I think I saw some local asparagus in the supermarket last week. Tinned pineapple is one that we always watch, as for a while you couldn't buy the local product, but it seems to be back on the shelves. I think your apricot cake will make it to our kitchen very soon. It looks delicious.

Lorrie said...

Another lovely post, Jenny. Like you, I try to purchase local produce and foods and eat strawberries and raspberries when they are in season, not imported. It makes them more special, and we enjoy it so much when all the summer fruits come ripe. I freeze quantities of blueberries and other produce and it feels so luxurious to pull them out when the winter rains and wind howl around the house.
Congratulations on your weight loss and I'm glad you're noticing a change in your health and energy levels.

Ondrea said...

Ah, those were tge days. I used to go to our local grocers with mum and we would ask for so many ounces of biscuits which they would take from a large tin on a shelf behind the counter then weigh on the scales and scoop into a brown paper bag. Congrats on your weight loss! Well done! Your garden is quite abundant and that cake looks so yummy. ( sorry I haven't been visiting much...a bit busy as you know)

Susan said...

I'm just back from vacation and came to see what I've been missing. Thank you for the pattern. I do remember those scales. And only having avocados certain months of the year. You'd think I'd remember other fruits, but that was my favorite treat. We get Washington's Mt. Rainier cherries here during the season, and they are usually horribly expensive, so I can never buy them. I can't imagine what they would cost where you are. We've gotten some really lovely grapes, and I don't even know where they are from, it isn't labeled, but they've been so good! It looks like you're going to have your own farm this spring! The beans look delicious.

Bobbie said...

Jenny, I bought Gracelaced and realized when it arrived that it is by seasons. Are you following the Seasons? It’s soon fall here but I think I’ll wait and start it in winter. I was so enthralled that I bought her new one and another one to read in the meantime.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

I read through winter, lovely..and then the Lord called me to just soak in His word for a season.

Karen said...

Well done you Jenny. A fantastic loss. Eating and swimming your way to a healthy you. Wonderful. I've had my hip replacement op and am 9 days in and it is wonderful. No hip pain just wound pain and that's easy to handle. Praise God. Just got to obey all the protocols for recovery for 6 weeks now. I have 2 patterns of yours ready sorted to start sometime this week as I am less tired now. So looking forward to them. Your garden is inspiring. Arohanui xx

Sara en Marie said...

We try and eat only local produce (Belgium and the Netherlands, mostly, some from France, Spain and Italy for nectarines and melons in the summer, or earlier berries, and for mandarines and oranges in the winter). We eat a lot from my mother's potager and orchard, or from local farmers. It's better for the environment, it tastes better and it's more fun! People tend to think that giving something up (like strawberries in winter) makes your life less fun, but it's the opposite! Of course we could buy apples from New Zealand or Argentina all summer long, but now the kids have been patiently waiting for the first apples, which arrived at our local grocer yesterday! I'm thinking of planting an apple tree that fruits early, so that we can have a few apples in August. These are apples that don't keep well, so you don't find them in stores. We also love strawberry season (May-June) at our house, and we "hate" (too strong a word :-)) early spring, when all we can get are oranges and stale apples. But that period of the year just makes the first berries taste all the sweeter! We do buy bananas from Afrika, because they come by boat (not as environmentally bad as produce flown in by plane). Eating with the seasons makes you live the seasons in a more meaningful way, we think!

Sara en Marie said...

Also: winter = cabbages! And some pumpkins, leeks and onions. some salad crops. Not a lot of variation. Then summer comes with courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines, cucumbers, corn, peas, beans, carrots, so much more sweetness! It's so much fun to live the seasons like this! And it's cheaper, too, buying only what's in season.

Kim said...

Such a cute bookmark. If I weren't already overridden with crocheted bookmarks, I'd be tempted to make one. And I just requested that same book from our library system. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Chris said...

I had to come back and find this post so I could thank you for letting me know about the Gracelaced book. I bought myself one and am slowly working my way through it. It's just what I needed! Such a blessing and so beautiful, too! I ordered more and gave my daughter one for her birthday and have two put aside to give as Christmas presents to special friends.