discovering a simpiler life

discovering a simpiler life

Monday, 23 September 2013

Roast Pork Sliders

We love roast pork in our house, you can read a bit more about the love affair here.  Saturday night we had these awesome roast pork sliders, which is just a flash word for a small hamburger.  Let me tell you the pile didn't last long!

Roast pork sliders
Bap rolls, allow 1-2 per person ok maybe 3
1 roasted leg of pork, with crackle of course
gravy made from the pan juices, I did use some gravox and the juices
Carve the pork with the crackle still on. for extra crackly crackle, whack the roast under the grill for 3-5 minutes.  Place 2 slices in each roll and a good drizzle of gravy and eat without delay.

I roast my meat over a wire rack with water in it so I can collect all the lovely juices and fat. I also use a meat thermometer for obvious reasons, it just takes all the guess work out of it. I pop the jug of juices into the freezer for half an hour or so and when the fat has nicely settled to the top and is rather firm, I scoop the fat off and save it to bake my roasted vegies in next time, use some of the juice to make gravy or freeze any left over for a rainy day. Perfect to add to a slow cooker meat dish.  The fat will keep for ages, I keep it in the fridge but I remember as a kid my nan had a dripping bowl in the cupboard and she would just top it up after each roast...I must ask her if she ever emptied it or if it ever goes bad.  Anyway, its a great use of one piece of meat.  We got 6 sliders, 4 serves of roast pork & vegies the night after, fat for the fridge which would equate to 50mls of oil I'd guess, and around 500mls of stock for another recipe.  Talk about run a $12 roast through its paces!

I've got a bit of a challenge coming up for October so stay tuned!

And here is a few pictures of happenings in our garden from yesterday, I love spring, everything is happening out there in the garden and the fruits of hubbies labour are so sweet.


This is my lemon tree above, I'm SO excited to see little babies forming, 7yrs of persistence I hope is finally paying off, please!!

The most beautiful oregano

tomatoes on the go

a new chilli for the collection

lovely lettuces

Ciao, Jan

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Being a tight arse

Vintage jars

I hate being a tight arse and if I'm honest I'm not very good at it.  I love nothing more than the odd day here and there looking for pretty things, a wine with a good view with friends, trips to the city to explore and holidays away.  Its more in the day to day running of our house that I'm trying the frugal living approach, although sometimes I think we are living high on the hog as it doesn't seem we are sacrificing much.  I can go most weeks without spending a cent apart from on groceries and gas for the car, well maybe a coffee or two.  
We eat almost all meals at home or taken from the kitchen to work, and its with no deep breaths or thoughts of dread, its joyous actually.  I love feeding my family, friends and loved ones nutritious and hopefully tasty food from my heart. Yes there are days that I am sick of dish pan hands and there are times when a meal out is heaven sent, but mostly give me my kitchen any day.
                       our vintage home love: How To Build A Rustic Kitchen Table Island
Its the little things everyday that you can do to save some pennies that will add up and also add to your cooking.  Some of the things I do are making stock out of a roast chicken carcass and freezing it for some soup or a stew another day. Baking snacks for your childs lunchbox instead of buying pre-packaged ones, one large slab of cake cut up into portions and frozen or a few dozen muffins will surely save you money. I bake bread every other day, something that is now a lovely ritual that never ceases to thrill me each time a gorgeous loaf comes out of the oven.

This batch of rock cakes are made for a few dollars
stale bread and over ripe tomatoes become tomato and onion pie
Peanut butter and vegie rice paper rolls made for next to nothing

Weekend lemon & sugar pancakes, a hit everytime

And finally a motto I live by is this "Use your best things everyday, don't wait for special occasions.  This is your life; enjoy your good silver, china, fancy soaps, bath oils, these things aren't for decoration, they're for using! Amen.

Ciao, Jan

Thursday, 19 September 2013


PB's Markham Console (as bar with vintage wine crate storage) ~ screenporch

I've started a stockpile. I've never done it before, never felt the need, never knew the concept existed until I stumbled across it recently. Don't get me wrong, I buy multiples of things on special but have never concentrated on building up supplies.  But over the past month or so I've been allowing $10-$20 per week to start my stockpile.  I got a nice little tax return and invested some into it as well.  I'm buying items we always use when they are on special, or the great multi buy that the supermarkets are force feeding us lately.  But its not a bargain if you don't need or use it, remember that. Don't go nuts buying 58 cans of tinned tomatoes if you hardly use them. 

Love this pantry! I'm a sucker for chalkboards by antoinette

I'm not a dooms day preper and unfortunately in Australia we don't have coupons so I'm not an extreme couponer, I'm just wanting to save some money where I can really. It also helps that I love to grocery shop, scouring the aisles for a bargain.  I'm going to also ramp up our preserving this summer as the benefits of jarring homegrown goodies can be benefited all year.  We are still using the tomato passata and chilli sauce we made last summer and we should get through to the new season almost upon us.  If the stockpile helps us through some uncertain times in the future, well wouldn't that be great.  

When I did the decluttering challenge last month, I cleared out an old meat safe that housed some linen, cleaned up the linen cupboard so the linen could be re-homed which left me with a good sized cupboard to use. So what's in my growing stock? All your usual suspects really.  Dish washing detergent, paper towel,  toilet paper  washing powder(I really must try making my own....any one done it or doing it??), tissues, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, glad wrap, foil, pasta, noodles, flour, yeast, jam, tinned fruit, oil, cooking oil spray, rice crackers,  Vegemite,  honey, peanut butter, soy milk, wraps, rice cakes, homemade passata and a few other odds and sods.  And where I can they are all Australian made/owned. And the sad truth is I'm hooked!!  It makes me feel safe and secure for some unknown reason.

If you do want to start a stockpile, find a designated spot for it.  You might keep all the laundry 'stock' in the laundry if you are short on space.  Don't keep it in the day to day food pantry area though, it needs to be separate to what you use each day.  But it could be the bottom shelf of your pantry if there really is nowhere else, in the garage, linen cupboard or under the bed!! My mother in law has hers in the spare bedroom built in robe.  But there are a few things you should keep in mind.  

                                    Pantry.  Love the green accents by megan

Only buy what you eat in reality, will the kids really eat 5 boxes of weetbix when they love nutrigrain?  You would benefit with making a list of all the non perisable things you normally buy each week and have a rough idea of what each item usually costs.  Then when you are doing your shop look out for these items on sale.  Take your time to build up your supplies, buying a little or allowing a $ amount extra each week will get you well on your way.  Make sure you also rotate your stock, first in first out to avoid any spoilage and wasted money.  Group items together, so all dishwashing liquids together, all pasta together and so on.  Also, don't forget you can stockpile your freezer too.  Freeze leftovers or do a big cook up on the weekends to ease the load during the week.  Eat from your stockpile, don't just put it in the cupboard and forget about it.  I'm using it this week instead of doing a big shop, apart from fresh fruit & veg, it should save us $150 I'm guessing.

I think the biggest tip I can give you that will really help you save money is to look at your supplies and do up a menu plan for the week or fortnight with it in mind.  Make meals stretch over 2 meals if you can and make eggs or vegetarian meals at least once a week.  With the growing price of meat, eggs are awesome with plenty of bang for your buck. Who wouldn't enjoy an omelete, frittata or even poached eggs on toast for an easy mid week dinner when time is short, its really a nutritional saviour.

Do any of you stockpile? Are you keen to start one? Go on, give it a go.

Ciao, Jan

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

not your usual coleslaw, coleslaw

We have been reaping the garden rewards this past week, and I made some coleslaw for my lunch today.  I baulk at the supermarket brought variety, laden with too much bad mayonnaise and limper vegies than well, you get the picture.  This version is so light and crisp and crunchy, just how I like it.  You can have it on its own or serve it with a big pork chop would be just delicious too.  Its also fairly low calorie and packed full of vitamins and delicious to boot!

Our cabbages are gorgeous and small, perfect for this dish.  This would easily serve four.

Jan's wicked coleslaw
1/2 a sm cabbage finely sliced
1 handful of baby spinach leaves finely sliced
1 decent sized carrot either grated or cut into fine strips
1 avocado cubed
2 spoons of sunflower seeds
1 spring onion finely chopped
1 corn on the cob, de cobbed
small handful of peas (not necessary but sweet as a lollie if you have them growing)
1 small handful of fresh mint finely sliced
dressing ~ 1 tspn good mustard, 3 tspns evoo, 4 tspns of white wine vinegar or lemon juice, good pinch of salt and a lot of cracked black pepper.
1 soft boiled egg for each person (place eggs in cold water, bring to boil and after 3-4 minutes they are done)

In a large bowl put all ingredients except the dressing and eggs and toss really well.  30 minutes before serving, dress with the vinagrette.  Quarter the eggs and arrange on the plate with the salad and dive in.  It is also great with shaved parmesan or a good goats cheese fetta gently tossed through and a handful of walnuts would also go down well.

In other gardening news, we have a new addition to our backyard that I'm just thrilled about, a water tank!! Hubby has built it a nice home, he's so clever. it rained last night so it is already filled, 205 litres of beautiful rain water, I'm putting the kettle on for a cup of rain water tea.

Ciao, Jan.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tart Baked Rhubarb

 Rhubarb, its one of those things you either love or hate, and I love the stuff. I have a deep love for it in crumbles especially, paired up with some apples it is superb.  It is super easy to grow, you can propergate it by dividing an existing rhubarbs roots and planting it out in the cooler months when it is dormant. You will reep the benefits for years, over 10-15 years for one plant! You only need one plant if its just to satisfy yourself, any more and it will be wasted, unless you have friends a plenty.  I havested some this morning and tried a new recipe with it. Baked rhubarb.  A dear friend gave me a belated birthday pressie yesterday, bless her, and its one of my favourites, well my food hero really, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  This is his take on the pinky red and sometimes green sour plant, which you might be surprised to know is a vegetable not a fruit.


It couldn't be simpler really. Take around a kilo of Rhubarb stems, trim to around 5cm long, making sure to peel the woody strips off, and place in a baking tray along with the juice and zest of an orange and 4 tablespoons of honey. i didn't put that much honey, I love it still with that sour bite. Loosely wrap in foil and bake at 170c for 20 mins or so until tender.  I actually roasted half the orange and then squeezed the extra juice over the cooked rhubarb.

Some gloriously sweet Western Australian Honey

It will last beautifully for around a week in a sealed container with the juices in the fridge.  I'm having mine for breakfast with greek yoghurt.  You can always add a swizzle more of honey to it.  This baked rhubarb would also be great in muffins or a tart but I'm having it like this.

Just a word of warning about rhubarb, don't ever eat the leaves as they are poisonous, even if they do look like they would be great cooked!

I've got loads of new inspiration from my new cookbook, I can hardly wait! 

Ciao, Jan

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

sometimes only chocolate will do

Modern Shabby Chic Kitchen
I've had writers block these past few days.....things have been feeling a bit same same, so I needed to whip up some cooking inspiration and I got it from a friend who was cooking up some chocolate brownies.

I'm not a mad sweet tooth, I'm a savoury girl at heart but there are certain times that nothing but chocolate will do.  I've been wanting to make a chocolate brownie for ages but am scared I'll eat it all at once. I've made a deal with myself to only have a small slice a day, pinky promise.  

Heathers chocolate brownie
1 cup sugar
3-4 tbspn good quality cocoa
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup or 185g melted butter
3/4 cup plain flour
Mix your sugar and cocoa before adding the eggs, vanilla and melted butter.

Add sifted flour and mix well to get rid of any lumps of flour.
Pour into a greased square tin and bake at 175c for 25 mins or so.

You can also ice with your favourite icing, a good one is a tbspn of cocoa, same of icing sugar, a tbspn of soft butter and a dash of water.  Allow icing to set in the fridge before cutting into squares. You can also add coconut, choc chips for an extra chocolate hit or nuts like walnuts.

I must admit, I made a few changes to the recipe.  I did 1/2 sugar 1/2 brown sugar, used raw 100% cacao powder and added a 170g block of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa.  So whats the verdict?  Amazeballs. I better hide it. And next time I'll be adding walnuts to it and will keep some good vanilla icecream on hand to have with it, I feel a bad addiction coming on!!  Whats that saying, "chocolate makes your clothes shrink" sign me up for some new jeans.

Ciao, Jan

Monday, 9 September 2013

3 years ago......

Today I woke a little depressed.  3 years ago to the day we were in Italy! Bon Journo!! What a wonderful experience it was and I was just reminded of it after reading a blog from one of my favourites what katie ate and her recent visit to Europe. So I thought I'd share a picture or two.  We were lucky to stay with my cousin who was living in Belgium with his wife, what an amazing experience they gave us with insider knowledge.  5 food filled weeks we had all up 2 weeks in Belgium, 2 weeks in Italy, a day in Paris and 3 days in Luxemberg which was a little gem thrown in at the end.  I was so excited about Italy as it has always been a dream of mine, but was surprised at how beautiful and underrated Belgium is. I'd go back in a heartbeat.  There are too many stories, too many delicious meals to share but hopefully one day I will get back to Europe to explore some more.

The castle we stayed in was also a winery in Grieve, Tuscany

A cooking day with Fabio. Here we are making gnocchi,
 they were the softest clouds you could imagine
Now thats a deli

rolling hills of tuscany

the view from our villa in Trevi, Umbria...I fell in love with this town
Velvety spaghetti pesto

the cobbled streets of Trevi

We shopped at the local markets and made dinner most
nights as restaurants didn't open til 8pm, too late for us and our bambino

A lunch in Paris, with the Eiffel Tower as our view. French onion soup on the left and goats cheese on potato rosti on the right

couldn't go all the way to Paris without trying the snails, slippery suckers

Brussels beautiful

The produce at the Waterloo market in Belgium would make your heart melt

They are very serious about their beers in Belgium

I'm still living on the memories everyday......

Ciao, Jan
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