discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A year ago today...and a photo a day for the month of June 2014 ~ week 4

A year ago today I started this blog.  You can see my first post here and I love seeing how the blog has progressed and as I've grown and learnt so the blog has evolved.  I haven't been quite as committed to the blog this year, I think I'm trying to live all I've learnt and sometimes getting the camera out to document meals and processes really can take away from just living, doing and being. 
But, I still enjoy the process and will be  forever grateful that I started this, at the time, sanity saving blog. Little did I know. 

Today is also the last day of the photo a day for June, here's this weeks photos.

Day 22 "growing" peas in the ground protected by empty bottles


Day 23 "in this moment" my lunch that day 


Day 24 "what June looks like" we have been having some crazy weather~winter has hit us hard in Victoria.


Day 25 "sun flare"


Day 26 "dreaming" of when my peach tree is full again


Day 27 "loving" my new hobby ~ I'm hooked


Day 28 "bed" with the electric blankie on!


Day 29 "delight"of having hot chocolate on a cold winters day


Day 30 "the end"


So that's it, the end of the June photo a day.  July's photo a day challenge has been released, you can check it out here.  As much as I've love, love, loved doing this challenge, I really want to put some energy back into the blog about food!! Although, if I'm really honest, my crochet has taken over my life! I'm almost at the end of my first project and have so many ideas of colours and granny squares.  Another example of just what you can do if you just give something a go.  I had always told myself I wasn't crafty, let alone ever see myself standing at the wool section in Spotlight agonising over them all, and, ahem, going 2 days in a row.  I only usually did this in the supermarket or when buying wine :D

Have a great week!


Ciao, Jan x

Monday, 23 June 2014

A photo a day for the month of June 2014 ~ week 3

Another great week of thinking about each day following Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge.  You can see the photos from week 1 here and week 2 here.  Here are week 3's photos

Day 15 "lovely" a lovely weekend away with friends


Day 16 "in the shadows" this was the view out the window of the bus on the way home from the city


Day 17 "peaceful" taken awhile ago at a friends place in the country


Day 18 "quirky" this is a teddy that my 88 yr old nana made for my daughter last week, he's adorable but a bit quirky




Day 19 "habit" mmm coffee


Day 20 "yay" for fresh bread just out of the oven


Day 21 "here I am" on our almost daily walk with my boy Magic



So thats it til next week :) 

Its week 26 in the 52 week money challenge, oh I've really got to get caught up!

Ciao, Jan

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A photo a day for the month of June 2014 ~ week 2

I've been enjoying playing along with Fat Mum Slim in her photo a day for the month of June, you can check it out here.  Here are week 2's photos.


Day 8 "T is for ...." trying!


Day 9 "we live here"


Day 10 "flying"


Day 11 "in the beginning"



Day 12 "pastel"



Day 13 "simply"



Day 14 "cross"


Looking forward to next weeks inspiration :D
Ciao, Jan

Friday, 13 June 2014

Rhubarb and ginger cupcakes



A few months ago, I finally got up the nerve to ring up Foxtel after searching for Foxtel deals here and put the consumer squeeze on them to upgrade my dodgy old cluncker Austar set top box for a shiny new Foxtel one that recorded and series linked programs for you with a glorious press of a button.  I'm happy to say they came to the party :) Due to hubby being a shift worker, we have had pay tv for over 15 years and we love it.  He gets to watch his fill of doco's and big strong tough guy make it shows and I get to O.D. on cooking shows, it's perfect!  Over the past few months though I have noticed I have stopped watching my usual cheffy gurus and swapped them with baking shows and am hanging off their every word.  I've even been looking at ebay deals here for baking sheets and the best price on piping bags, I really am developing a new love affair.  I saw this recipe for Rhubarb and ginger cupcakes while watching one of these cooking shows, Baking Mad with Eric Lamlard and straight away I book marked it on the laptop as a definite bake make!  For those of you who don't know who Eric is, he is a French Patissiere with a following akin to Jamie or Nigella in the baking world with a beautiful accent to boot.  

I have tweeked the original recipe of this, wouldn't you know it, and have used Rhubarb and Raspberry jam from Lana's garden for her rhubarb coulis in the cake and icing.  I've also used brown sugar instead of the light muscovado sugar in Eric's recipe.

Rhubarb and Ginger Cupcakes  Makes 12
250g unsalted butter at room temperature
170g brown sugar
3 eggs
125ml milk
225g self raising flour, sifted
2 - 3 tsp ground ginger, sifted

For the icing
2 tbspn Lana's rhubarb coulis plus 8 tspn for centre of cupcake
75g butter
150g icing sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 180c.  Line a cupcake/muffin tin with paper cases.
  • With an electric beater, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and then slowly drizzle in the milk.  Gently mix in the flour and ginger til combined. *I add flour with each egg addition as it stops the mixture curdling.
  • Spoon,pipe or use an icecream scoop to put the batter into the paper cases.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
  • For the topping, in a large bowl, cream the butter with a hand held electric beater on medium speed.  Blend in the sugar, a quarter at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the rhubarb coulis or add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and continue mixing until light and fluffy.  Keep the frosting covered until ready to decorate the cupcakes.
  • Using a melon baller or a 2cm wide cutter, cut out 1cm into the centre of each cupcake to make a hole for the rhubarb coulis to go.  Spoon the jam into the holes, return the removed piece of cake and pipe the frosting on the top.


  • Eat them!


Ciao, Jan.

Monday, 9 June 2014

making stock


Making stock isn't rocket science but it will save you both time and money in the kitchen.  If you have a local butcher, if you ask nicely, you might even get your bones for free.  I made around 4 litres of chicken stock for around a dollar that's far cheaper than the liquid stocks available ~ it would be around $12 for the supermarket variety.

Leave it for a day when you are home for awhile and let it bubble away doing the work for you.

Chicken stock
4-6 chicken carcasses or a big load of chicken necks
2 carrots roughly chopped
3 stalks of celery and the butt end roughly chopped
3 brown onions, skin and all, roughly chopped
2-3 dried bay leaves
small bunch of fresh thyme or rosemary
10 peppercorns 
  • Place all ingredients into a good sized large saucepan. Cover them with water.  For a darker stock, you can roast the bones first if you have time.
  • Bring to the boil and allow to simmer away for 4 hours or so.  
  • Skim off any skum/fat/impurities that rise to the surface.
  • Strain and place into zip lock bags or containers into the freezer or of course use straight away

This basic recipe I will be using for my slow cooker which will be getting a strong workout this winter.  I've created a 'slow cooker' side bar which I'll be adding to over the coming weeks.  I get asked a lot for! slow cooker recipes and advice on how to use them, so I'll get cracking.  For those of you who are scared of them or haven't dusted your old crockpot off in awhile, get them out.  Just think of them exactly the same as a casserole dish sitting in a low oven, they need time and do all the work for you.  

Ciao, Jan.

P.S. It's week 24 of the 52 week money challenge :D

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A photo a day for the month of June 2014 ~ week 1

I've come to a big realisation about myself lately and that is I love to be held accountable and I love something that keeps my mind active, in both a creative and thoughtful way.  This month for some inspiration and accountablility I've joined in Fat Mum Slim's Photo a day for June.  Each day has a word as inspiration for the photo you take.  If you want to follow along you can look me up on facebook here for a bit of fun, but I will post a comment about the photo on my blog.  I'm not going to post each day on here, I'll do it each Sunday with the weeks worth. Here is week 1


Day 1 "Joy" 
a day out with my family...Daddies girl...the emu stayed a safe distance away, they scare me! 


Day 2 "Doing"
My hubby is making this amazing wet stone wall in our back yard as a retaining wall.  He is a hard working treasure.


Day 3 "Family"
This is my favourite painting that my then 4 year old daughter drew and painted which is we have framed.  This is our family under a rainbow.



Day 4 "Ordinary" 
Magic our dog.  He's far from ordinary but it's an ordinary day waiting for his breakfast. 



Day 5 "11 o'clock"
Cooking, again :D


Day 6 "adventure"
On a walk near the river after the rain.



Day 7 "pattern"
My 7 year old is crazy for the loom bracelets and has taught herself how to make them.  


I'm already taking a peak at next weeks words of inspiration to get my juices flowing, so to speak ;) Do you follow any challenges or goals each month or do you just roll in this rhythm of life?

Ciao, Jan

Monday, 2 June 2014

Chicken Pie

This cooler weather just makes me so happy.  I know, I'm strange, but I loved autumn with it's crisp mornings and sunny days and the draw of winter not far away, and here we are 2 days in.  I love cosying up on the couch with a good book while the wind and rain play havoc outside.  Pass me the slow cooker or whack the oven on and I'm a goner~it's comfort food time.
I'm not sure why I forget to make pies as they are super easy and always a hit.  I was reading Kathy's post here  about her super cute looking chicken and leek individual pies and so I got inspired to whip out the pie dish.  I didn't have any leeks but I grabbed some spring onions that had been let go in there pot outside a bit long, just perfect.  I also had a couple of corn cobs that needed using up.  That's the thing with this recipe, it is so versitile.  It could be made with just all the vegies left in the crisper, sauted up in lots of butter and garlic for a vegetarian option.  As long as you stick to the principles of the veloute sauce, you can let your ingredients run riot.  A veloute sauce is a sauce made with stock, butter and flour and is extremely versitile and velvety delicious without the naughtiness of a full cream sauce.

I honestly shake my head in denial most nights at the dinner table.  As you are well aware I lurve food as does my husband but do you think I can get my 7 year old to eat anything other than potato, corn and sometimes pumpkin? Yes she'll have avocado and a mountain of fruit but try and convince her that broccoli or carrots are amazballs tasty, no way Jose. So here I sneak as much in as I dare by serving this scrummy pie with my 3 veg mash potato.
Chicken, spring onion and corn pie
500g chicken free range chicken thighs, or left over roast chicken
4-5 white ends of good sized spring onion or 2 leeks
1-2 corn cobs, corn kernels sliced off
50g butter and a glug of evoo
400ml chicken stock, from stock powder is fine if you don't have fresh
2 tbsps plain flour
1 sheet puff pastry

  • slice up your chicken thigh into bite size pieces.  I like to use kitchen scissors for this. Finely slice your spring onions and get all of your ingredients out ready.

  • heat the evoo in a fry pan and fry the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  You may want to do this in batches as you don't want to stew the pieces, you are looking to create a golden colour to seal in the juices on each piece.  Take chicken out and keep the oil and juices in the pan.
  • In the same pan, add the butter and saute the spring onion and corn without adding any colour.  Season with salt and peper.  After 5 minutes add the flour and cook out for 1 minute, stirring all the time.  Gradually add the stock until you have the thickness you desire.  You don't want it too thick or too thin, it should coat the back of a spoon easily.  Test for seasoning.

  • Add the chicken back into the sauce along with any juices.  Mix through the sauce.  
  • In a 20cm pie dish (approximately), pour in the chicken mixture.  You can cool it at this stage if you don't need the pie straight away or freeze it also for another time.
  • Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry and top the pie dish, using egg wash or milk to coat the pastry to get it lovely and golden.  
  • Place in a 200c oven for 30 minutes or until golden.


Serve with my 3 veg mash - potato, sweet potato and pumpkin and dive in.
Some of the variations I like to make are:

  • chicken, bacon and mushroom
  • tinned salmon tossed through the veloute (use fish stock in the veloute if you have it), asparagus and spinach (also great with mashed potato on top instead of the pastry
  • chicken, thyme, spinach and potato ( blanch diced potato in boiling water for 4-5 minutes first)
  • left over roasted vegetables, semi-dried tomatoes, rocket and fresh herb (thyme leaves, parsely, mint and oregano added to sauce at the last minute
  • soft boiled egg with curry powder, parsley, potato and tuna
Be guided by whats in season and either growing in your garden or from the green grocers as to what you put in. This is going to be back on our weekly menu this winter.

It's week 23 of the 52 week money challenge, we are almost half way through the year! I must confess, I'm finding it a challenge keeping up as the numbers are getting bigger but I'm doing what I can :D

A bit of an update on my crochet.  I am very proud to show my first ever granny square!  I learnt from this granny square tutorial here that is very easy to follow for anyone who would like to give it a try. Now to practice and start my rug :D

Ciao, Jan.
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