Monday, September 24, 2012

School Holidays

Hi all

Taking a couple of weeks off of the blog due to the kids being on school holidays. See you in a couple of weeks.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Left Over Food and Curry Puffs

One of the issues that we're trying to overcome in our house is left over food. When I was growing up My Gorgeous Mother cooked enough food to feed an army, even though there were only four of us. Then Dear Old Dad moved out and MGM still cooked the same amount of food. Then I moved, ditto. You get the picture. Well, it just so happens that I married a man who cooks in the same manner as MGM.

We often eat our meals for two nights and that isn't what I'm referring to. I'm writing about those single or double portions that get lost in the freezer or the last serve in the saucepan that inevitably gets thrown out. That's not even to mention the half cartons of sour cream or salsa left over after burritos that eventually end up in the bin, as well.

All that food could and should be used. I want to; I really do. As we put away a small amount of left over curry a couple of weeks ago I joked to Husband that it would spend the mandatory time in the freezer before being ditched. Then one of us had an idea. I can't remember who it was. I'd love to take credit, however, because it was a good idea.

Earlier this week I carried out the idea. I defrosted the curry and put it in a saucepan to reduce. While it was reducing I defrosted a few sheets of puff pastry. I cut each sheet into four and put a couple of spoonfuls of curry onto each quarter. I then folded it over into a triangle and put them in the oven. As they baked I made a raita dipping sauce.

The curry puffs were yummy. We ate four each and finished them all. I certainly know what to do with those single serves of curry from now on. I just need to use up the cucumber I used for the raita now.

And yes, I do cook from time to time. Well, I had to really; Husband was away.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why I Bought a New and Unethical Phone

At the beginning of 2008 I got a new phone. This particular phone is still going strong. For reasons that escape my memory now I gave it to Teenage Daughter last year. Her phone was dying and she managed to convince me that I should get a new phone and give her my old one. The phone from 2008 is still going strong and you have no idea how many texts fly back and forth between her and The Boyfriend. We had to replace the battery a few months ago but, apart from that, it's been a wonderful phone.

Not so the one I bought to replace it. We've used Nokia off and on since we started using mobile phones. For the most part we've been happy; hence the brand loyalty. This phone was a shocker. From the moment I bought it it was a lemon. I've had it just over a year now and basically it sucks. You have no idea the number of times I had to restore factory settings on it. I'd gotten to the stage where I was doing that on a daily basis. Something needed to be done and quickly.

The criteria on Footprints are:

  1. Can it be bought secondhand?
  2. If not, can an ethical/eco-friendly version be purchased?
  3. If not, buy the best so it doesn't need to be replaced as often.
With that in mind: 
  1. I had had enough trouble with new phones I wasn't even going to try second-hand.
  2. No. Sadly, there are no ethical/eco-friendly phones. It sucks.
  3. I had an internal battle over which brand to buy.
I happen to believe that the best is Apple. I also know that Apple's contractors in China have less than savoury practises when it comes to human rights; that was in the media not too long ago. In the end, however, I still went with Apple. My justification is that I don't want to replace this phone in a hurry. I want it to last; I believe it will. That being the case, I'm using fewer resources and fewer people are getting harmed. I don't know how the factories that the other companies are using are doing in their human rights records but probably not good either. Basically, it's a lose/lose situation. The only real solution would be to go mobile phone free and that is definitely food for thought.

Not sent from my iphone!


Monday, September 17, 2012

From Garden to Table in 10 Minutes

As you know, Husband has been watching his garden grow. What you may not know is the Husband is the main cook in our family. He's very passionate about cooking. I learnt many years ago that he wasn't trying to come in and take over when I was cooking dinner but that he genuinely wanted to take over because he enjoyed it so much. That was when I handed over kitchen duties to him. It works well for us; he loves cooking, I hate it.

Over the last several weeks he's been tracking the progress of his broccoli. I say his because he's taken ownership of it. Finally, on Saturday, he cut off a stalk. He brought it in, washed it, steamed it, prepared a butter, lemon and mustard sauce and we had it with sauteed chicken over couscous for lunch. The whole process from garden to table took about 10 minutes.

Maybe it was our imaginations but we were convinced it was jam packed with flavour. It tasted great. The broccoli was barely steamed so it still had a slight crunch to it. Whether it really tasted better we can't be sure but it was just so fresh. It was a wonderful feeling to be sitting and eating something so fresh, organically grown in our own garden.

I'm planning to put another stalk into a Fried Rice this evening. (Due to circumstances beyond my control I'm forced to make dinner.) While I'm at it, I'm going to cut another one which also looks ready and blanch and freeze it. I know it will lose some of its impact but I don't want the snails to munch on it while we're waiting to eat it.


Monday, September 10, 2012


Before I begin today's post, I'd like to share a link. I've written about The Non-Consumer Advocate before. Her blog is getting some attention at the moment and she recently did an interview on Australian TV from her home in the U.S. Here's the link if you're interested: Katy's Interview.

One of the issues we struggle with is how much to use the car. Teenage Daughter's driving is good enough now that we don't have to take her out for separate drives anymore. We just let her drive whenever and wherever possible in the general scheme of our lives. (She's only about six hours away from getting her license.)

Before we began Footprints we used to drive one or both of the children to their youth group on a fortnightly basis. One of us would bring them and one would pick them up. It's about fifty minutes round trip and the meetings last for two hours. Teenage Daughter isn't doing it this year because of school commitments and the meetings are only monthly.

For various reasons, Teenage Son has only made it to two. This month and last month. Last month Husband was away so I decided it was a good time to save on carbon emissions by killing time nearby. I went to the library but it was closed. I went to the next nearest library but it was closed. I went to the next nearest library but it was closed, too. I ended up sitting in a cafe. Ultimately there was still a lot of driving around.

This month, however, the sun was shining and I knew the Botanic Gardens in the city would be open. The rest of our small city must have had the same idea. I drove along the back of the Gardens and every spot was taken. I followed the road around past the zoo and nearly every spot was taken. Obviously, those not going to the Gardens were going to see the pandas. I got to the very end of Plane Tree Drive and found a parking place. It would mean a five minute walk through beautiful Botanic Park back to the Gardens. That was okay, it was sunny. I made my way through the picnickers and Frisbee throwers and into the Gardens.

My first port of call was the cafe for a cappuccino. It was full but there are two there now so I went to the other one. I sat outside with my cappuccino and laptop and worked on The Novel (it deserves a pseudonym now, too.) When I'd finished my drink I went and sat on some lawns in the sun. I couldn't work well there so I ended up lying back, closing my eyes and soaking up some Vit D rays. (Let's not mention melanoma.) WIN!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Footprints and Poverty

Yesterday I was reading one of the blogs I follow and The Non-Consumer Advocate asked her followers to help out a fellow follower with advice. This particular person has come across very hard times and needed advice on how to make it through financially.

As I cruised the supermarket aisles today, Ethical Consumer Guide in hand I pondered what I would do if I were in that person's position. It became abundantly clear very quickly that Footprints would have to be greatly modified. Some of the changes would lead to greater care for the environment but maybe less ethical care; some would fall short on both. To be honest, although it would concern me, keeping a roof over our heads, paying our bills and feeding the family would matter far more.

As a family we'd have to try harder to use less of our utilities. Watching output for Footprints is different from watching it to keep a roof over your head. I bet Teenage Daughter actually could find a way to shorten her showers if that were the case. Instead of the heater being turned on by anyone who was cold rather than putting on an extra layer, I'm sure the jacket would be reached for. It would be a case of "this shit just got real".

I tend to buy in bulk or larger sizes where I can but, if it's more ethical to buy from a company that uses heavy packaging, I do so. I bet I'd be buying the absolute cheapest and not caring about anything other than price! And if I couldn't find something second-hand, you can bet I'd be buying it new from Big W, regardless of their ethical sourcing policy.

The responses the other readers gave, for the most, would fit into Footprints. Much of it was common sense: plan the week's menu in advance, only buy what you need, make things from scratch rather than buy them ready made, buy in bulk, buy second-hand, use your library, walk or catch the bus, put on extra layers rather than run the heater and start a veggie patch.

One thing is for sure: I feel terrible for the family that has found itself in this situation and hope it's remedied as soon as possible.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Rainwater tanks and Broccoli

The moment I sat down to write this blog someone quite nearby began using a chainsaw or some such noisy contraption. This upset the neighbour's hens so I'm typing to mechanical and animal squawking. My teeth are on edge. What began in my head as a blog about my garden may morph into a rant about the noise with full expletive accompaniment.

The Garden Whisperer and his partner gave up last Saturday to continue working on our tanks. Both of the tanks - did I mention they're enormous? - are now fully set up and plumbed to the rumpus room gutters. One of them has an overflow pipe which sits discreetly behind the rumpus room and leads to the back corner of the garden where there is nothing but rubbish and weeds. Our neighbours have fruit trees, however, in that corner so it will help water them. The other tank needs to have its overflow pipe buried underground so it will water our bottlebrushes. The pipe can't just sit in the middle the path to our garden shed. The tanks are so big, however, that I can't imagine overflow ever being an issue. Obviously, the second overflow pipe is the next thing on the agenda. We're getting a pump for the tanks to share so The Sparky (who happens to be The Boyfriend's brother) is coming in the next week or so to put in a power point for the pump. We're also waiting for the pump itself to come into stock. By having them pumped we can attach the garden hose to the tanks and water straight from them. Of course, we haven't had anything but magnificent, dry spring weather since the tanks went in...

Meanwhile ... in the veggie patch. We were veggie patch-less for a couple of years. We built a rumpus room in the old veggie patch and didn't set up a new one until last summer. I don't really know why but we chose to set one up just outside our front door. I think because, being out the front, the dog couldn't get to it to pee. We had a bumper harvest so it's a great spot. When The Garden Whisperer first visited, he remarked on the location. He wants to expand the veggie patch but leave it where it is. The soil is good and fertile but, beyond that, we walk past it several times a day on our way in and out. Husband, a self-confessed black thumb, cannot walk out without a small detour to the veggie patch to check things out. He knows when it needs water and which veggies are doing what.

At the moment we have spinach, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce growing. Each time he leaves home Husband lovingly checks the broccoli. We love broccoli in our house and cannot wait to eat it. He went out for several hours on Sunday and, in his absence, I fertilised the patch. Upon his return, he remarked on it. There is nothing that escapes his notice in the veggie patch. I've never seen him get remotely excited by growing veggies before but moving the patch has made all the difference.