An Abundance of Nectarines

Late last week I woke early one morning and after a study session I went back to our room to say good morning to Jay. I could sense something was off, so I poked and prodded and eventually found that the abundance of ripe nectarines on our tree was stressing him out.

‘There’s so much fruit on our tree and it’s rotting on the tree and it’s stressing me out. It was so much easier when there was only seven big nectarines last year. Why can’t they ripen one at a time, you know, this one’s ready to, the next tomorrow.’ He said, frowning, clearly exacerbated by our beautiful abundance of fruit.

We started picking a few to munch on, the white flesh juicy, dripping over our chins and hands as we devoured the over ripe fruit.

We had friends coming to visit in a few days, we knew their preserving experience was boundless, and we correctly assumed that they’d help us deal with our glut.

The fruit was picked, chopped and went into one of two pots. Those destined for chunky stewing, or those to become fruit leather. Each 10 Litre pot was put on the stove to cook down with a little water, one left to cook longer than the other. Recycled jars popped into the oven to sterilise, and once hot, the chunky stew fruit was poured in, lids removed from boiling water and expertly tightened.

The second pot had liquid removed, and was blended with a stick blender to a find pulp. Over days we spooned the puree onto plastic sheets in our dehydrator and made the years worth of fruit leather.

I’m loving how productive our garden is this year, and hopefully we can keep it up. I shared more on Instagram about this too.

In My Kitchen January 2021

Welcome to my kitchen. As everyone is thinking and feeling, can you believe it’s 2021! Another year has passed us by and what a year it was. I hope you have had a relaxing and stress free festive season and that you have many wonderful things to look forward to this year.

I love doing In My Kitchen videos and recently hd a request via Instagram, so thought I’d get back into it. I really enjoy making videos and would like to make more this year. Let me know if that’s something you’d be into.

Thanks so much for watching. Let me know what’s happening if your kitchen this month.

Christmas Pudding

It’s Christmas Eve and as I write this my Christmas pudding is boiling away. It’s wrapped in calico and resting on an upturned saucer in a pot of water. As it boils the bubbles cause the plate to go ‘plop, plop, plop’. The familiar sound of Christmas Eve, that lasts for three hours.

It’s my grandma’s recipe. One year, probably sometime around 2009 I happened to arrive at her house a few days before Christmas, before everyone else had arrived. I had been rock climbing at Mount Arapiles near Horsham, and went to my grandparents from there. So I happened to be at her house on Christmas pudding day. I helped, and without knowing, had the responsibility of the Christmas pudding handed down to me.

The following year, when she was asked about the Christmas pudding, she simply replied, ‘Clare’s making it from now on’. She had spoken, and I would be making the pudding.

I’ve made it every year since and every year I feel the pressure. The anxiety has been warranted.

Once you mix up the fairly simple pudding mix, you pour it on to a wet and flour coated piece of calico. Then you tie kitchen string around hold it together. The pressure point here is to tie it loose enough for the pudding to rise as it cooks and tight enough that water won’t get it.

One year I didn’t tie it tight enough and after three hours of boiling I undid the kitchen twine and a wet, mess of pudding collapsed onto my festive Christmas plate. Needless to say I was making a new pudding on Christmas Day, right up to the wire.

Another year, the calico that was hanging out of the pot caught on fire from the gas burner it was cooking on.

I’m feeling confident today, but won’t know how it goes until I open it up in approximately two hours.

I’d love to hear a wonderful, but stressful Christmas tradition that has been passed down to you. Merry Christmas.

P.S It was a success! Probably the best one yet.

My 35th Birthday Cake

It was my birthday during isolation 2.0 this year, like many people. I had been trying to live more lightly, and add a little joy into my life.

I was chatting with my sister when I decided to do something that felt so ridiculous and extravagant to me. I decided to make myself a cake. A big decorated, elaborate 35th birthday cake, that I could drop at people’s door steps, because at the time we couldn’t visit of have visitors.

When I asked my sister, if baking a 4 layered white chocolate mud cake was a ridiculous idea, her response was ‘Clare, I buy $300 dresses I’ve never worn and I’m at the hairdresser today because I thought it’d be a good way to spend the day. If you wanted to know about ridiculous, you’re probably talking to the wrong person.’

I laughed, and wondered why I don’t do more things just for the fun of it.

So I spent the next three days planning my cake.

Pinterest was my first stop where I came a My CupCake Addiction white chocolate mud cake, and it was the inspiration. I started buying white chocolate from the confectionary aisle, Tim Tam’s, Lindt balls, Lindt chocolate, little white chocolate covered cookies, wafers etc.

The day before my birthday I baked two white chocolate mud cakes, and let them completely cool. I also created some decorations from here. Then on the day of my birthday I started construction.

Learn from me, I made the whipped white chocolate ganache on the day, but wish I’d made it the day before. So you should do that. And my ganache ended up a little lumpy but it was still delicious.

And once it was constructed, the fun bit began. I love decorating the cake.

Then, as we were allowed a couple of guests in our home at that point my Mum and Dad popped over for the cutting and eating.

It was a lovely way to spend the day, and I good lesson that I want to do more things just for the fun of it.

A really lovely weekend in photos

You know those perfect days, weekends of just normal, wonderful life? Well last weekend was one of those. The days flew by far too quickly, but if every day could be like these few days then I’d be a very happy woman. The had marshmallows, nibble platters, friends drop by, lazy mornings in bed with the cat wrapped around my neck, a birthday, s’mores, card games, a beautiful dinner in, beautiful, thoughtful birthday gifts, work done on our veggie garden and so much fun in the dirt. It was just lovely.

Make do and mend, or buy smart.

Elliot’s lunch box broke, on the second last day of term. We got him a lunch box from Stuck on You in 2017, it had his name printed on it and it was great for occasional care and kinder, and then the first 6 months of school.

But last week the hinges broke. and the top came completely separate from the bottom. The last day of school he went with an elastic band around it.

Jay wanted to fix it, but I wasn’t sure. I told him he had the weekend to fix it, because then I wanted to be able to buy a new one to replace it before school started.

So he drilled out the hinges, and popped a new metal part in and it was all looking great… until the plastic completely shattered in the hinge.

It’s now going to live in the shed to store screws and nuts and bolts.

So I have just purchased this planet box from biome stores. Because if we can’t fix something, we should buy better. And I think this new lunchbox will last years now.

Educating Myself

There’s been a lot of learning moments this year. The biggest one by far has been the movement around Black Lives Matter. It has become very apparent to me that I’m completely uneducated when it comes to our Indigenous Australians. And so, I’m learning, reading, watching and listening to everything I can. I came across a great list today that I thought I would share incase you’re trying to do the same.

I’d love to hear how you going navigating this, feel free to comment, or send me a message on Instagram, or send me an email.

Here’s the post that I loved today and below I’m listing some things I’ve been consuming.

I have also borrowed a large number of books from the library but I am yet to read. The Instagram post lists so many great ones.

Surrounded by a sea of library books

I’d love to hear your favourite movies, books or podcasts to help with our education.

I’m scared to commit to plastic free July

Over the years we have reduced our single use plastic and waste. We tend not to drink take away coffee and when we do we use our reusable mugs. We use reusable bags when we do our groceries. We buy a local veggie box once a fortnight that has no plastic. We use our soda stream. Don’t buy soft drink. I use a metal razor. And we have wooden toothbrushes. We do these things, we have for some time and to me, these no longer require any thought.

But there is still work to be done.

And it’s a bit terrifying.

The idea of buying our food in bulk, and not in plastic bags; the idea of eliminating foods like chips and seaweed crackers; the idea of exceeding our budget is all a bit overwhelming.

So I headed over to the Plastic Free July website to tentatively dip my feat into the waters.

I found some great information, things that made this whole task not so daunting. On the website it states that you can take a small step or dive in deep.

Now, I’ve decided it’s not too daunting, and we just need to take one more step in the direction of our rubbish reduction.

What step you do think you might be able to take for plastic free July?

Reflex

When Jay and I met, one of our first conversations was about how much I liked a good discussion. A conversation that you could really get passionate about. I wanted to talk about how the world worked, and politics and why we should save old growth forests. I wanted to learn from every conversation.

Over the years, I feel like life has taken away from these sorts of conversations. Now we debate more about what we should do around the garden or what should go in our next meal plan.

So when I stumbled across FlexMami on Instagram and saw Reflex the game I had to grab both game 1 and 2.

Each night at dinner we have been asking a question, answering on reflex, then analyse why we answered that way, exploring what has informed our opinions, then reread and analyse the question.

Some of the questions we’ve had so far are:

  • Do you respect people with views that radically oppose your own?
  • Would you rather be feared or appreciated?
  • Are you more motivated by money or praise/recognition?

It’s really interesting to have these conversations over dinner, and we always create a thoughtful ‘would you rather’ for Elliot.

What do you think? Is this something you’d be interested in?

Sourdough Ecourse

During isolation I had the time to film some videos for my brand new sourdough ecourse. I’ve been wanting to release an online sourdough course for some time. I wanted to be able to have a bread baking community with easy to follow videos and a space where people can ask questions and share photos of their beautiful bread with like minded home bakers.

If you’d like to jump in and start baking, I would so appreciate that. See you in the group.

How do we access the course?

The course content is all available through a private Facebook group. You do need to have Facebook to access this course.

I already purchased a sourdough starter from you, what will I get from this course?

This course has step by step videos, new content and recipes added all the time, and a great community feel, where you can ask questions, and share your successes and failures.

How much is it?

It’s $12.50 until July 3rd, then it’ll be going up to $24.99.

What supplies do I need?

To look after your sourdough starter you just need flour and water. Then to mix up your loaves you need flour, water and salt, baking paper and an oven. I like to bake my bread in a pot, but that’s up to you.

How time consuming is it to look after a sourdough starter? And bake sourdough bread?

You need to be around for a couple of days, but hands on time is minimal. I ‘feed’ my starter about lunch time, then mix my bread up that evening, and bake the following morning.

How do I get a sourdough starter?

If you are in Australia I will post you a dried one, there is a video on how to rehydrate it in the course. If you are international there is a video coming on how to make your very own starter from scratch.

Please let me know if you have any more questions and I can’t wait to see you in the group!

The Spoon Theory

I’m writing this post from my dining table, on my phone because the idea of walking to get my computer is exhausting. You see I worked today, and I ran out of spoons.

When I first heard of the spoon theory I dismissed it. Not for me. Firstly, spoons, seriously! Secondly, I’m fine. But the longer I sat with it the more is resonated.

If you’ve never heard of The Spoon Theory, check out this article and the photo below.

For me it’s a little different, I usually plod along until something really hits me hard. Cleaning the house uses a lot of spoons, and thankfully now we have a cleaner, showering after requires more than you would think, walking takes more spoons than riding my bike, and the rare occasion that I go to work can take every spoon I have.

So today, I’m out of spoons.