Category Archives: Food and Concoctions

The things I like to create in the kitchen

Weekend stuff.

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On Saturday we cooked…really cooked.  We cooked 31 meals, which means even though we were tired, we are done for a whole month.  It took all of Saturday, and we hosted a playdate too.  It was a busy busy busy day.

A friend said she tried to cook like we do, but she failed and she is never doing it again.  I have to be honest and say it would be a big ask for one person to do this alone.  I would most likely not do it.  Hubby and I work it out together and we cook together and the rule is, clean as you go, so we do not sit with a huge pile of dirty dishes to do when we are tired after cooking.  We prefer to do it on a Saturday, so that we can get a break on the Sunday.

We also have a plan, written out, that we can work with and strike of as we go.  We also know the order we are cooking in, so that once the oven is hot, we cook everything that needs the oven, one after the other.  We also have the pans ready, the heavy duty foil and marker ready.  You have to label everything, include the date too.  Sometimes I might add something later, and you do not want food lying in the freezer for too long.

We cooked two dishes on Friday, while we were eating dinner.  I had got off work early and we decided to get a start on the stove top cooking.

The other way to do it, is to cook a double portion and build up your stash of meals over time, which I do sometimes.  Like, I will roast two chickens and freeze one.

In non food related news…

Sunday I was so sick, I spent the entire day in bed.  I only moved out of bed to use the toilet and have a shower.  Hubby brought food to me and I just stayed there….and I feel a heap better this morning.  I needed to ensure I was well for work and  I am.  I have not slept that much in a long time.

I knew I was feeling a little sick on Saturday, but I was too busy to get into being sick.  On Saturday I got into bed at 20h00 and I was done.  I awoke at about 02h00 on Sunday morning with the most incredible pain in my head and face.  I tried to blow my nose, but it did not help.  Eventually I went to sleep sitting up and it helped.  I think the sinuses where just unhappy and lying almost flat does not help.

I also managed to finish my costume design and price it out for the school.  I will make one prototype next weekend to work out the kinks. I just have not found a suitable bonnet pattern I am happy with.

HB is learning Zulu, which is great, but I don’t really speak Zulu myself, and everytime he needs to learn a new word, I have a bit of research and then I have to teach it to him.  I have not worked out how to get it into his head…currently we are just using repetition, but I need a better system. I try to find the easiest word, without any clicks in it and teach him those first…the Zulu teacher can teach the click words.  My knowledge of Zulu is greetings and then random vocabulary which I cannot really piece together…It would be great if I could actually speak the language.

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Getting back on the wagon.

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After my blood tests, my diet sort of fell apart.  I just gave up.  I was feeling like what is the point of all this if the main reason I started is not working. We have our freezer cooking weekend, coming up and I was very ready to throw it all in.  I have to admit…it does cost us more to buy the diet stuff than to buy the food we normally buy. It was very tempting. I had all my recipes ready and was about to make the shopping list…and then a little voice said:

“You have been feeling so good about being smaller, you are at you pre-pregnancy weight, don’t you want to go all the way?”

I know my cholesterol did not really excite me.  I do have to go do a proper test (when I am psyched to  do it again, I am not there yet).  The reality is that  my cholesterol may never get better, no matter what I eat.

I have 10kgs to lose and it is taking very long to lose these 10kgs. So I need to not give up hope and just stick with it for now.

I agreed with hubby that I will look over my recipes again and I will make diet friendly freezer meals for all of us.  My challenge (which I look forward to), is to make sure that our grocery budget remains within reason. So my rough ides for now:

  1. Baked chicken wings. Why do chicken wings cost so much per kilo?
  2. Venison lasagne with aubergine replacing pasta and my cauliflower white sauce.
  3. Crustless spinach and mushroom quiche with homemade cheese and eggs replacing the custard bit (that thing that holds it all together).
  4. Egg and veggie (pepper, onions, broccoli, mushrooms) muffins (for grab and go breakfasts).  Do not use brown mushrooms here.  Only white button.  The brown ones tend to make the muffin look brown and disgusting.
  5. Pot roasted chicken and veggies.
  6. Cabbage and mutton curry (reminds me of home).
  7. Butter chicken with homemade yoghurt replacing the cream. I will have flaxseed and sunflower rotis to go with it.
  8. Samp and beans with lamb. This is a whole meal by itself, not the dry samp that you see in the shops.
  9. Homemade fish cakes made with flaxseed “bread” crumbs.
  10. Venison and peas in a tomato based curry without any potatoes.  Hubby and HB can cook rice that day to go with it.
  11. Beans curry made with cow peas. Again, no potatoes.
  12. Veggie soup.
  13. Maybe a veggie pizza, if I feel like it.
  14. Plain roast veggies which we can toast in a jaffle with cream cheese.  I love jaffles…but the bread is not allowed, I will have to use my own flax or sunflower bread.
We just add salad to go.  And I use salad loosely.  HB and I will just eat a chunk of cucumber and tomato and be good with it. Hubby wants more of a production, but then he makes it.

I have left off the pies because I have no suitable replacement for the puff pastry.  I am not keen on cauliflower mash or rice.  It smells strange.

I am open to suggestions.

Getting that grocery budget down.

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The grocery budget finally seems to be under control.  Our 20 points for getting it right (for us anyway):

 Budget at the beginning of the month before you are paid.  We do it a few days before salary comes in.
  1. The grocery budget then is divided over four weeks.
  2. We only major shop once a month.  It makes a huge difference not to be popping into the shop every week.  You waste less money on things you should not buy in the first place. This also means our poor baby is not getting PnP animal cards.
  3. Menu plan.  We menu plan and cook ahead so that there are good meals ready and waiting.  This avoids having to buy something you can cook quick, because most convenience meals tend to cost more. This also avoids the take away thing. (this is a post on its own)
  4. As an aside, we have budgeted two take away meals a month, or one sit down meal at a restaurant.  We make the most of it, and because it is limited, we carefully pick what we want to do. We prefer the take away, because then we make it a family movie night thing.
  5. We no longer sale shop (because we find that it actually wastes money more often than not.  I remember thinking that was nonsense, until we stopped doing it.
  6. Our grocery budget includes non food items like dish washing liquid and toiletries. It also includes the cat food.
  7. Yo do not have to buy everything at once. If there is something you want to buy that is not on the list, write it down for the next list.  Then the next time you will end up seeing if you really needed that, because the impulse is gone.
  8. Some things we do buy in bulk:  Meat, because it is cheaper like that.  We eat loads of game meat, because it just has so much less fat than any other red meat we have come across. So if we bulk buy the game meat, then that is the meat.  We normally don’t use it all up in one month.  With the menu planning it is so much easier to balance the meals, because you know what you are eating over a long period.  We ensure all portions have enough veggies. Also, because starch cannot be frozen, we eat less of it.  Not because we believe in Banting, but because it is icky defrosted. So if we did the bulk game this month, next month is will be chicken.
  9. We buy frozen veggies for cooking and only what fresh veggies are in season.  They just are much better quality and priced when you buy in season.  The same goes for fruit.
  10. We only buy fruit once a week, and then it is one or two at a time.  We only get as much as can be eaten in one week.  I eat about two or more portions of fruit a day and HB two, and Hubby we have to force feed. Fruit is a huge money waster.  You buy too much because it looks yummy in the store, and then it ends up going bad at home.
  11. We have an A4 white board and marker next to the fridge.  As soon as something is approaching finishing, we write it on the list. This is the only shopping list (other than the one menu planning weekend).  We stick by this list very strictly.  No deviations allowed.
  12. HB and Hubby get lunch at work and school, so I am the only one needing lunch everyday…I tend to eat leftovers.  HB’s snack box is standard and stays mostly the same: Yoghurt, biltong, cheese, crackers,fruit, sandwich..and it varies only slightly.  We buy all the snack stuff monthly as well. (Not yoghurt, and I do homemade yoghurt for myself)
  13. Breakfasts are also very standard in our house…oats or bread.  And then pancakes or eggs, etc over weekends.
  14. We make our own burger patties, meatballs and planning sausages as well.  We are not super healthy earth types, but it just tastes better when we make our own.  A burger and chips is a good substitute for when the take away craving hits.
  15. Like mentioned above, the biggest thing to reduce the grocery budget is the menu planning.  It so easily becomes a part of your life, that there is no other way.
  16. On a weekend, we will cook something that has starch in it…like a breyani or curry that include potatoes or something like that.
  17. DO not be afraid of leftovers, they are your friend.
  18. We have a deep freezer, so we are able to freeze ready made meals and buy meat ahead.
  19. You also have to make a hard decision, that you just cannot have some things.  Yes we can buy it, but it is not in the budget.  If we spend it all, there will be no money saved and nothing extra to the home loan.
This can only work if the whole family is committed to it.  You have to work at it together and make sure everyone is happy.  No one wants to feel like they cannot move an inch…so you need a tad bit of float in that budget to be human.

The Cookies

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OK here we are with the cookies. I am not doing sweet filled party packs because parents seem to not like them (even if the kids love them). Here are the cookies that are going into the party pack. I am just doing the cookies for school and I want to try out a cake I saw. If the cake turns out well, I will send it to school, otherwise it will just be cookies. For the at home party we are doing the same cookies and the capes masks.

The cookies did not turn out as I hoped. I had a vision of actual Spiderman, but I realised that I would have to invest time and money into getting those right. I thought about it for a long while and eventually decided to just do with what I have. So here is what I produced.

The Cookies

The web cookie looks like a snowflake because I could not get a deeper blue and the black will not set. I have decided if I have time to make some red cookies too.

There are so many people doing wonderful things with cookies, but I do not have the experience or equipment. I just used one old fashioned syringe thing with one nozzle tip. I was not going to buy a whole set for one birthday…and the fancy food colours are so expensive. I figure the 3 year olds’ will not mind my wonky 3 or snowflake web thing. They will just lick them and eat them. I used lemon flavouring in the icing to try to counter-act the sugary sweet of the icing.

I was happy the icing dried nicely. I was really worried I would not get it right.

Another one of those boring posts

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It has been a crazy week and I think I have not commented, even if I have read. I will drop by to catch up.

I have decided to do a post about trying to make a different lifestyle work. I know there are so many of these posts around, they are boring, but it helps me keep track of everything.

The LCHF eating has become a way of life mostly. I was sceptical at first because it looked like too much fat and meat. I am not sure how everyone else is doing it, but I have found that I am actually eating a greater variety of vegetables than I used to. I think it comes from paying more attention to meals instead of flinging random things together because I am too tired to make dinner.

Hubby is such a great supporter. In fact he too has fallen partly into LCHF eating because I am doing it too. He likes the meals and has not fussed at all. Hubby is the one that keeps me supplied with all the wonderful veggies. Even things I have never eaten:

Waterblometjies

Shimeji mushrooms

Baby savoy cabbage

Broccoli and cauliflower

Aubergine

Fresh baby gherkins

Zucchini

Leeks

He has also been buying milk on sale so I use it to make yoghurt and paneer which we all enjoy. I have about 15 blocks of cream cheese in the freezer too (we got these practically free). I know you are thinking one cannot freeze cream cheese and you are partly right. It cannot be used as is or for spreading because it loses texture. Like veggies, you can still use it for cooking without any loss of taste or texture. You can still use it for sauces or baking. There are advantages to Hubby working for one of the largest supermarket chains. Certain items are marked down and sold to staff only which is where we score on the price of food.

The exercise is going well and I am feeling better. I do not know if I have lost any weight because I have not weighed myself and I do not plan to do so. My weight never bothers me, it is my size. So I am happy just to fit comfortably into my clothes and not have to buy anything bigger.

I decided to track my food and exercise on one of these online diaries, but I think it is fake. According to that thing, I should really be losing weight effortlessly. I am apparently eating less calories than required for me, and my carb intake is averaging at 80g per day. I know all that sounds complicated, but the online tool works it out for you. I am pretty accurate with logging everything I eat and the formal exercise. I do not track walking up and down stairs or to the store as part of exercise. I guess I just assumed I ate too much bad stuff and the diary makes me realise my eating habits are not that bad. I think the big thing was stopping all the sugar in my tea. It all started when I was breastfeeding but I do not have that excuse anymore.

According to the diary, my biggest carb/sugar food is the milk I drink. I love milk so I am not sure if I would stop drinking milk.

My aim with the lifestyle is to be healthy because diabetes is a reality in my family with my sister (who is not overweight) being pre-diabetic and she is only 18 months older than me. My Mom is a confirmed diabetic who cannot get her blood sugar levels under control (she refuses to modify her eating and I know she is heading for insulin).

I think it is working for me and I do not feel restricted in what I eat. I am not terribly strict and I am not trying to make fake bread or pasta. That works for some but I do not have the time, budget or patience to make substitutes. Runnermom has been making some interesting things and I admire her perseverance. If I want bread, I will eat a slice every now and then. I think my aim is to maintain health.

Enjoy the weekend all. It is perfect cuddle weather.