Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Simplifying with food and family...

 Most of our days have been dark and wet the past few weeks, though outside the comfort of our air conditioned home it's still very hot and humid...something the plants and the grass love, though hubby is weary of mowing between wet days. 

During the wet season each summer, I tend to spend a lot of time deep cleaning through the house, sorting, removing what's no longer needed, and making notes about what we should invest in when we can afford it. But I also spend lots of time in the kitchen too, preparing food for family, freezing, health and fun. 

Now that Blossom is a full-time homeschool mum, she is keeping Mondays free of bookwork so the kids can attend swimming lessons just up the road from my place, before stopping here for a hearty brunch, time playing in the garden and then doing some crafts I've prepared. As this week was our first Monday gathering, I set the table for a special brunch party...

...which Blossom said reminded her of our morning and afternoon teas during the eleven years of our own homeschooling season. 

I baked egg, bacon and cheese pies to fill their hungry tummies after swimming... kept some extra for Bloss to take home for Ross. 

And a batch of scones, which my grandchildren tell me are "THE best" thing to make for them. Served with homemade strawberry jam, whipped cream, and pots of tea, the next hour was a wonderful time for us all to chat and eat and laugh and sip, and just enjoy each other's company. 

This was an easy brunch to prepare, using only what I had on hand, but to my family this was a wonderful feast, and something the children asked me to do every Monday. Which of course I shall, and it will always be a bit different, depending on what I have in the pantry and fridge. 

Not too many years ago, I would have shopped for special treats and ingredients to make a really big spread for our tea parties, but I have learned that simple living is about a change of attitude towards every aspect of life - even tea parties and brunches. You can see just how happy Cully May was having time over a cuppa with all of us together. 
Choosing to simplify what I offer my family is not just about watching our pennies - it's about being content spending less than we used to, and making a conscious choice to use what is already on hand. I wonder if many of us have been lured into the world of Masterchef, famous chef/cooks, or Instagram foodies, and believe we need to be more creative in our culinary offerings? For quite a while I felt that way, and my grocery bill could attest to it. Initially it was fun, but over time, and after a number of expensive failures, there came a dull sense of dissatisfaction in my heart. That's when I really began to focus on the food of my youth, the simple meals that Nana made and the memories of how much I loved them. Well, that was my fork in the road, and helped me turn a corner. From that day, about nine years ago, I slowly began to draw on meal memories, and believe me, no matter how old you are, you can still remember the taste of food you loved as a child! 

Simplifying is also making things in the kitchen without having to leave home to buy ingredients. Yesterday I made hummus from a can of chickpeas, some tahini, parsley, garlic, Greek yoghurt and lemon juice - this is my sandwich spread for the week, in place of butter. Everything was in the pantry or fridge and it tastes absolutely wonderful. 
I also made some coconut milk, and coconut cream - the milk to use in smoothies and porridge, and the coconut cream to use in a curry tonight. 

It's stone fruit season here in Australia right now, so with plenty of peaches, and some plums on hand, I made plum and vanilla jam to have on toast...

...and a peach shortcake which will be dessert over four nights.

Last weekend I also baked a cheese pie using home brand puff pastry from the freezer, eggs, four different herbs from the garden, cottage cheese, grated cheese and sour cream (the only thing I had to buy was the cottage cheese). It was delicious served with a salad and lasted two meals, with an extra portion sent home to Ross when Blossom left on Monday afternoon. 

Next week I shall have a file for you to download with some simple recipes, and there's a dessert recipe included which is incredibly cheap and easy that children (and my husband, AND Blossom) absolutely love. It would have been done this week but I am not putting pressure on myself. Things like that can wait until I am ready to type. 

You know, I would really love to hear about the simple meals you prepare, but also the meals you remember from childhood, the ones that bring a smile to your heart today.

God bless you dear ones! I must sign off as I have a dinner to prepare for my beloved when he arrives home from work...may your own dinner be pleasing to the eye and satisfying to the soul. xx


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Anonymous said...

Love your post. So full of smiles, family and good food. Would love to see recipes for the lovely treats shared.

Anonymous said...

As always I love your posts and hope the little bacon and egg pie recipe is included next recipe post. Stay well.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Yes please for the recipes. Especially the egg, bacon and cheese mini pies.

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Food always tastes better when shared :)
We've eten a lot of meals in a lot of different locations over the years ! Amazing how many combinations and trends there have been and still to come !
Scones ! That was one of the first things I learned to bake as a kid. The love of scones stayed with me.
The evening meal today consists of fries from the air fryer, peas and carrots and a fried egg. It's 0 C . Simple and warming. Yesterday was chili with chick peas :)
Thanks for a beautiful post today :)
Love a table cloth :)
hugs, take care,

Anonymous said...

The meals I loved the most as a child were ham and navy bean soup with cornbread, chicken and homemade noodle soup and goulash with fried potatoes. I still love all of those things!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed today's post about simple foods and will look forward to next week's with the recipes. I remember my family making rissoles when I was young as I did for my own children. Lyn

Emma - Barradale Farm said...

Your meals look beautiful!

I always loved spag bol growing up, My mum is a great cook and cooked a wide variety of foods including stirfrys, curries and the like which was quite adventurous for rural Australia during that time. But it was spag bol night on Wednesday nights that I always loved. Dad had work meetings on Wednesdays so spag bol was an easy meal for Mum to manage. She made a simple buttercake which I loved too. I now make a similar buttercake for my family frequently. I like buttercake as it is easy to adapt and change.

My Nanna always made beautiful cream horns, butterfly cakes, pies and pasties for Christmas dinner, served alongside cold meats and salads. Christmas lunch was always a big traditional roast. She was an excellent cook. She made perfectly fluffy Yorkshire puddings too. I even remember her making her own fish and chips from scratch, preferring it over the fish and chip shop! I look forward to seeing your recipes.

Your morning tea with scones looks just beautiful. I bet they taste extra good after their swimming lesson. Swiming always makes you hungry! xx

Quilting Babcia said...

I agree, simple foods are the best. We make our hummus similar to yours except I include cumin and smoked paprika and a bit of olive oil in the mix. One of my favorite lunches is toasted homemade sourdough bread spread with a thick layer of hummus topped with sliced small salad tomatoes. The treats you made for your daughter and grandchildren look delicious, hoping they are included in the recipes you share.

Guida said...

Loved your post, I am also craving the things I had when I was young. It was in Madeira and then in Sydney. Boiled potatoes, carrots, string beans with pumpkin with a fried fish or dried fish (bacalau) and if they didnt have it or it was too expensive, then it was a can of tuna or canned sardines, with chilli. Yummy. Unfortunately my Aussie family dont like this, so I make do when I have other things for them to eat. Looking forward to your recipes.
Take care, Guida xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your tea party with us today. As I read your post there is a pot of chicken tortilla soup simmering on the stove made entirely from ingredients found in my pantry and freezer. I'm in the northern hemisphere and we've been snowed/iced in for 5 days. It will be a couple more before I reach a store. I'm thankful for everything on hand and the ability to make do with those staples.

Your posts and projects resonate with my stage of life this year more than ever before. I'm encouraged to take joy in the ordinary and give praise for the simple. Thank you for each post.
Hannah W.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your Monday teas with us! I remember loving when my mom made chicken and dumplings for dinner; now it is one of my children's and grandchildren's favorites.
Love reading your posts!

Patty McDonald said...

The egg, bacon, and cheese pies are delicious but how did you get yours to look so beautiful? I cook with as much whole foods as possible. I want to know what we are eating and that it's nutritionally good for us. Also, it keeps our weight in check and we have energy in our 70's. Jennifer, I would like to know your secret of making the egg pies look so beautiful. If you have the time, I'd be thankful to see you post your recipe. Thank you.

Lin said...

It all looks delicious! Macaroni cheese has to be my all time favourite from childhood - with lots of cheese on the top that has melted and browned! xx

gail said...

My Grandmother’s rissoles were the best. She bulked them out with bread soaked in water and then squeezed out and of course a pinch of mixed herbs were added. Rock cakes also were always there for us when we visited. My Mother was not a great cook however she made the best tea cake. I have started baking my own bread again. Fried rice is something my husband owes and it uses up bits and pieces in the fridge. I to am looking forward to your recipes Jennifer. I know the effort you must put into your blog and I really appreciate it very much.
Blessings Gail.

Gill said...

One of the Sunday desserts my mother made, that was simple, economic and loved by us children was a treacle tart. Made with shortcrust pastry, breadcrumbs and golden syrup ( never actually treacle!) with a spoonful of lemon juice and served with birds custard or a drizzle of cream. It’s extremely sweet and to a child, absolutely wonderful! Thinking back, Mummy didn’t make many desserts; they were a rare treat in my memory. I recall Queen of Puddings, Steamed syrup sponge and a fruit trifle or chocolate mouse (for very special occasions only) if we were lucky and the ice-cream van came jingling along on a Sunday morning we might get a small block of vanilla ice cream carefully sliced into five slices and the cardboard wrapper was put down for the cat to lick!

Anonymous said...

This is a yummy post! Every time I see your bordered and embroidered tea towels I wonder why I haven't made one yet. They look so pretty on your table. I always loved my mom's macaroni and lentils. You could go back for seconds, even though you might feel full, because it was that good!
Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother’s rissoles were the best. She bulked them out with bread soaked in water and then squeezed out and of course a pinch of mixed herbs were added. Rock cakes also were always there for us when we visited. My Mother was not a great cook however she made the best tea cake. I have started baking my own bread again. Fried rice is something my husband owes and it uses up bits and pieces in the fridge. I to am looking forward to your recipes Jennifer. I know the effort you must put into your blog and I really appreciate it very much.
Blessings Gail.

Julie said...

How absolutely wonderful dear Jennifer - to sit at that gorgeous table & enjoy that afternoon tea prepared with so much love. Look at dear Cully May's face - she is delighted!! xx

Kim @PurringCottage said...

Having grown up in the Philippines, some of my childhood favorites are chicken or pork adobo (different from Mexican adobo) and pancit (kind of like a Chinese noodle dish) and biko (sweet sticky rice cakes) for dessert. I still make the adobo and pancit now and then, but haven't ever made biko.
I've actually been wanting to get out of my cooking rut, so your new recipes which look so yummy will be fun to try.

pcpetunia said...

I can't wait to see your recipes. I too am doing my best to spend less on food but still prepare nutritious meals. And the simpler the better. Lucky for me my husband is easy to please. My mother is german and one of the things she prepared was potato pancakes. My father didn't care for them tho so we rarely had them.

Ondrea said...

A lovely Monday ritual. So good the children are having swimming lessons . My boys love them. Lots of yummy food as always. X

Anonymous said...

Simple food memories are special! I remember having cake and bread for tea (English dinner time ) at my grandparents house. Now with my children we try and have rice and beans night every fortnight to remind us how many others in the world live and to enable us to share more generously.