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Friday, 23 November 2012

Frugalness and other stuff....

Being an indie musician... I don't have corporate dollars backing what I do... so being frugal has become a necessity, to enable me to pursue doing what I love most! Thus, I have become a bargain hunter! In all reality, I really don't like shopping very much... but when I do, I love checking out the op-shops, garage sales and markets or savvy boutiques that sell that "something different"... I love things that have a story behind it, maybe even a bit quirky, antique or even just uniquely creative...

Here's a groovy little cupboard I picked up recently, something small to make my very bland hall look a little more interesting....

I can appreciate the creativity in others, and admire their handiwork, craftsmanship, planning, creative genius or maybe even the ruggedness of shear improvisation when materials have been in short supply...the simpleness of "necessity is the mother of invention!"

The next challenge is making it work practically with where I have intended for it to go (having already mulled this over before I purchase it... but not always :)!)... Not only do I like being creative... I also like being practical! (Which is probably a rare trait in creative people! Haha...) I like to blend that "unique find" with something modern... hopefully creating a harmonious mix of that reminiscent of a bygone day with a more contemporary setting...

Having just moved recently, it was time to downsize and re-organize! But also an opportunity to find something "new" that would be more space efficient... since cupboard space is sadly lacking in my town house... I've come up with some cool retro ideas for storage...

This pic displays lots of my interesting finds... an old sea chest... now filled with memorabilia and stored in  my retro cane bookshelves, with photo albums and vintage leather suitcases... all these items (except the photo albums) came from scouting around recycle shops etc... (as opposed to boring plastic tubs etc.)... and it didn't cost me anymore than what plastic storage tubs or a cupboard would have!! Bonus!!

The previous owner tells me that the metal trunk came on journey with his grandmother from Tunisia... and had been tucked away ever since in a lovely old home in the outer suburbs of Sydney... but now, was sadly being parted with as the "Victorian" era home was being made ready for new tenants, and all its former goods and chattels were being sold off...

The old suitcases each have their own story... the top one was given to me by a friend for baby sitting her doggies... it had belonged to her father who was a missionary... the other two leather suitcases came from a Op-Shop in a small country town, and the little blue case came from a garage sale and was once a school bag...

The last "find" I would like to show you this charming old clock. It came from an Op-Shop also...
Unfortunately it doesn't work anymore and I did consider taking it to a clock doc to get fixed... but then the reality is that it would cost me a small fortune to have it restored... so I decided to appreciate its aesthetic beauty... with the clock having its hands poised - capturing a moment in time that could have long been forgotten... save for the relic of its stalwart build that has enabled it to stand. It was made by Gilbert Clock Makers in the USA, in 1911.

Back in the Kitchen...

Feeling frustrated with all the "junk" that is in the food in the supermarket these days... I decided it was time to try some baking again... Sigh... seems that anything "yummy" is loaded with fat, sugar and salt... and a host of artificial additives, colours and preservatives...

I remember listening to a radio show once... and the announcer was interviewing someone who had been employed by a major food company... and was literally paid tens of thousands to come up with recipes that would be addictive!!! He openly admitted that all those recipes typically have as their core ingredients: FAT, SUGAR and SALT!!!

Hmmm... well it's interesting... since people used to eat this stuff all the time and would be healthy and not fat... so why has it changed?? Well, food ain't what it used to be! Wheat has been so genetically altered it's not funny! Modern wheat & oils actually make you hungry because the body can't process the modified nutrients and it does not realise when it has had enough... Sugar & salt have become modern man's poison.... but it seems that that's only the "icing on the cake"...

Being an asthma and allergy suffer all of my life -  I've always tried to be careful with what I eat... It seems lately though, that no matter what I do, my allergies have gotten worse... so I decided it was time to change tactics!!

After much research... I've decided to go relatively grain and diary free... and so far it seems to be paying off... I'm about two weeks into my new way of eating and I've lost weight and starting to feel healthier...YAY!!! I do love diary though, so occasionally I tend to have some cheese and yoghurt, and have cut out milk in my coffee etc... but I'm going to see if it makes much difference if it is cooked. 

Pretty much, I am trying to eat food in more of its natural state...the way God intended it to be eaten... and not according to all our modern concoctions of it! So that gets rid of a LOT of foods commercially available...

But wait... what am I eating?? Cut out wheat and processed sugar and there's not much to choose from!! Basically, that leaves anything that is meat, fish, vegetable or fruit, natural sugar like honey, maple syrup etc and some diary and FAT!!! Yep... butter, beef dripping, organic coconut oil... for cooking.. since they are more stable and have higher cooking temperatures, and olive oil for salad dressing and cold foods etc... so probably pretty much like the Atkin's or Paleo diet... with maybe a few slight variations...

I've cut out all processed foods, and I'm trying some different things like: Quinoa, Almond Meal, Besan Flour (made with chick peas), arrowroot powder (tapioca starch) - to replace flour. But I've also given Spelt flour a go for the first time today... it is an "Ancient" grain... more like the original wheat that ancient people ate... not the modern flour of our day that has been genetically modified, cross bred and so on, to become a culinary and gastronomic disaster... being a catalyst to the increase of allergies, Celiac's disease and so on...

So, how do I eat this stuff??? Haha! that's the fun part... trying to find alternatives and how to prepare them properly...

Well, I've been very busy today and invented a spelt and besan flour chocolate cake... and much to my delight it was a winner the first time round! I also made my own homemade chocolate...although my second attempt was much better than my first... it needs a little more tweaking - but it's still quite palatable :)

Spelt & Besan Chocolate Cake:   (makes two loaf pan sized cakes)

2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 cup besan flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (tapioca starch)
6 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
4 free range organic eggs
1 1/2 cups full cream milk
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup honey
100 grams butter
teaspoon organic vanilla essence

 Here's my cakes...

1) preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and grease two loaf pans with coconut oil
2) Melt butter and honey over low heat. Remove from heat and mix in sifted cocoa powder until all lumps are gone.
3) In another bowl, sift flours and baking powder & mix together until evenly folded in.
4) Gradually mix in eggs and milk, followed by the butter, cocoa and honey mixture. Mix until all ingredients are blended well.
5) Grease two loaf tins with coconut oil. Pour cake mixture into tins.
6) place into the oven and cook for about 40 minutes.
7) Allow to cool for about 5 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool - I covered mine with a cotton tea towel to help keep moist whilst cooling down
8) Enjoy with some Greek yoghurt and strawberries :)

And here it is served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt & strawberries... It isn't as sweet as store bought cakes, but it is quite nice once you get used to the slightly different taste... it was also quite filling and this small slice was pleasantly satisfying.The reason it is so filling is because spelt and besan flour are very high in protein (as well as the eggs)... and are much lower in carbs... so you feel full quicker and eat less!

Homemade Chocolate:

150-200 grams coconut oil
2 - 3 tablespoons cocoa powder... depends on how strong you like it!
1/2 cup honey

Now it seems a bit tricky getting the honey and cocoa to blend evenly with the coconut oil... but after a couple of tries... I found that instead of having the oil too liquid from being melted, that the other ingredients blended better when the coconut oil was not far from room temperature... it it was too much hotter then it just remained  impossible to blend them together!

1) So, make sure the coconut oil is soft almost melted.
2) Mix honey and cocoa together until all cocoa lumps are gone.
3) Now mix coconut oil in to the cocoa and honey.
4) Place the chocolate mixture into an aluminum lined tin, silicon muffin tray or chocolate molds. Decorate with cashews, dried fruit etc.
5) Allow it time in the fridge to set (at least 20 minutes or so... depending upon how thick it is)...enjoy!

You need to store in the fridge as it has a low melting point.

here's my chocolate slab... with cashews :) - this is very filling also, because of the coconut oil... although it is a saturated fat - it is healthy for you and filling - so you don't need to eat much at all to be satisfied.