Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cleaning that is Kind to the Environment

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About a year ago I tried to limit my use of paper towel about the house.  I bought up a heap of white face washers and used them for cleaning in the place of paper towel.  It worked really well until my cloths became stained and ragged. I found myself less likely to reach into the kitchen cupboard to grab a cloth and more likely to use a paper towel again.

Feeling guilty, I got myself into gear and organised myself with a new set of cleaning cloths. This time I bought a HUGE bag of microfiber cloths. They will last longer than the face washers and will do a better job.  They also came in a variety of colours so that I could give each cleaning ‘zone’ a different coloured wipe.

Part of the problem with using cloths last time was the fact that they were tucked away in the cupboard.  I had the plan to keep them in a nice jar on the counter, but white clothes are only display-worthy for a month or so. These new microfiber cloths have been in use for over a month and still look new, so I repurposed a lolly jar I had in the cupboard as my cleaning cloth storage.

Environmental Cleaning

Until hubby gets the colour coding down pat, I have labelled the jars with a Sharpie…..I will no doubt have to look for a more permanent label :)

What environmental cleaning practises do you use?

 

 

 

Thermomix Sugar free Tomato Chutney

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I volunteered a while back to make some chutney for a local fundraising event. I had never made chutney so I was not too sure how I would go, but I backed myself and ended up making the most delicious tomato chutney. I know I sound a little conceited, but damn, that was good chutney!

I used raw sugar for the fundraiser chutney but I thought that I should have a go at making my own sugar free version. It worked out splendidly. This is the recipe I used.

Tomato Chutney (adapted from here)

Ingredients

•200 g red onion- peeled and quartered
•1000 g ripe tomatoes
•250 g Granny Smith apples-, peeled, cored & chopped into quarters
•60-80 g Natvia (depending on how sweet you like your chutney)
•200 g apple cider vinegar
•1/2 teaspoon allspice
•1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 whole cloves
•100 g sultanas
•2 teaspoons salt

Method

1. Peel the tomatoes by scoring the base of each tomato with a cross and either

  • placing in a large bowl and covering with boiling water, and leave for 5 minutes. Or,
  • Cover the blades in your bowl with water and place the tomatoes in the varoma and heat for 10-12 minutes, Varoma Temp, Speed 2

The skins should easily peel away from the cross at the base. Chop the peeled tomatoes into quarters.

2. Place the red onion and apple into bowl and chop for 5 seconds, Speed 6. Set aside.

3. Place tomatoes in bowl, chop for 5 seconds, Speed 5.

4.Add all other ingredients, including the apple and onion, and mix for 3 seconds, Reverse, Speed 4.

5. Cook for 60 minutes, 100 degrees, Reverse, Speed 1-2 with the basket on top of the bowl instead of the MC to prevent splashes

6. Increase temperature to Varoma, and cook for another 20 minutes, Reverse, Speed 1-2.

7.Test the consistency of the chutney by spooning a tablespoon of it onto a dish, then place it in the fridge for 5 minutes. If it’s still too runny, keep cooking at Varoma for 5-10 minutes and check again.

8. Place into sterilsed jars.

Note for those wanting to use sugar instead: The original recipe calls for 300 grams of raw sugar in place of the Natvia. Unless you like really sweet chutney, I would cut the 300 grams down to 200 grams, as this is still sweet.

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We are eating this chutney with everything. I especially love it on toast with cheese. Last night we had it with our steaks. Yum! Excuse me while I go get myself another spoonful.

Remembering ANZAC Day with Children

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The 25th April – ANZAC Day, commemorates the sacrifice of all Australian men and women during times of war and occurs on the anniversary of one of the most significant battles involving troops from our newly formed nation.Remembering ANZAC Day

While I have watched the diggers at the ANZAC Day marches grow old and their numbers dwindle, the observance of this important national holiday seems to be very much alive and growing.

We have always attended the ANZAC Day march and service, but this year is probably the first year my eldest will grasp some of the significance of the day.  I want him to understand the importance of these people’s sacrifice, including that of his great, great-grandfather, great-grandfather and uncles, and the importance that these events have had on the history of our country and the world.

The boys waiting for the ANZAC Day Parade last year

The boys waiting for the ANZAC Day Parade last year

We have been reading a few story books about ANZAC Day to help him understand the events we commemorate and the way we remember them. These are our favourites so far.

Remembering ANZAC Day

Anzac Day Remembering ANZAC Day

Remembering ANZAC Day

Last week I also took the boys to the Queensland Museum.  It has two fitting displays related to the ANZAC legend. The first was The Courage of Ordinary Men. This exhibition was a moving display about 3 Australian diggers awarded the Victoria Cross medal for courage during WWI.Remembering ANZAC Day

The second exhibition was Remember Me: The Lost Diggers of Vingacourt, a collection of photographs of Australian troops taken in France while on leave from the frontline. They were lost until only 3 years ago. I fell  in love with these hauntingly beautiful sepia images. If you live in Australia, keep an eye out for it as it travels around the country over the next few years.

Last night we even made ANZAC biscuits to enjoy over the long weekend. Yum! Remembering ANZAC Day

Tomorrow we are off  to watch the parade my Grandfather used to march in when he was alive. Master O has picked out remembrance badges for all of us to wear and found an Australian flag to wave. He is excited. Success!

I hope you enjoy your long weekend if you are in Australia or New Zealand. Make sure that you check out your local ANZAC Day celebrations. Lest we forget.

Homemade Ice Cream: No Churn, With and Without the Thermomix

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Since the Thermomix has joined the Crooked Household, we make nearly everything we eat using  just the basic fridge and pantry ingredients. However, after nearly 2 years of Thermomix ownership, I had not attempted to make traditional ice cream. We had made sorbet and cheat’s ice cream using frozen yoghurt or milk and fruit, but not that delicious creamy stuff.

We very rarely buy ice cream, there are just too many nasties in the store-bought stuff, so being able ‘healthify’ a treat was a great option.

The recipe I used was for traditional ice cream from the Thermomix Everyday Cookbook. It is so simple, quick and super delicious!

Homemade Ice Cream - Thermomix

To suit everyone in the household I removed the sugar and instead added a little Natvia (stevia) to sweeten. Next time I might try maple syrup.

To store this delicious concoction in, I purchased these Retro Kitchen containers. A 1 litre container and a set of 4 mini ice cream tubs. So cute!Homemade Ice Cream

Since this little adventure I have been looking into other ice cream recipes, in particular the no churn ones. It seems that the secret ingredient is condensed milk, which I have been wanting to make from scratch in the Thermomix (see recipe here). I am going to one or two of the following recipes a try over the Easter season. You don’t need to have a Thermomix for these recipes, just a hand beater or food processor.

No churn Vanilla Ice Cream 

Caramelised White Chocolate No Churn Ice Cream

Nigella’s Coffee No Churn Ice Cream

Here are my two monkeys enjoying their first taste of homemade ice cream. It got the thumbs up from them. Homemade Ice Cream

Do you make your own ice cream? I’d love to try your recipe.

Little Boys’ Bedroom Redecoration

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Here is a little bedroom redecoration teaser…..I am waiting for the room to be repainted before I can really get my hands on the room but take a look at what I have already purchased for the redo…..

Just before Christmas we decided to move our two boys into a room together. We weren’t sure how it would all go, but we could not be happier.

The room was previously decorated in a dinosaur theme…… Dinosaur themed boys bedroom

And this worked for both of them while I could buy matching dinosaur linen for our youngest’s cot. However, once Master C moved to a big bed, I could no longer source a comforter to match his brother’s.  Apparently that is a big deal to a 2 year old.

So I was forced to visit my favourite Children’s linen store, Adair’s Kids ;) . Here we chose a travel/plane themed ‘Toby’ comforter and the matching cushions.

Decorating a Boy's Room

Decorating a Boy's Room

Decorating a Boy's Room

Isn’t the suitcase cushion the cutest!? That is what really sold me on the whole set.

I didn’t love the matching artwork that they sold in Adairs, so it took some hunting to come up with something to go on the walls.  Finally I found two very amazing Etsy stores with the most amazing prints.

Firstly, I picked up this set from the lovely Trish at Strawberry Jam Studio.

Redecorating Little Boys' Room

 

And here it is framed waiting to be hung in a freshly painted room. (Sorry for the poor picture, the weather here is still miserable!)

Decorating Little Boys' Room

I cannot rave enough about how amazing Trish’s customer service was. Thank you, Trish!

The colours perfectly suit the linen. The boys love the dog and giraffe flying the planes and I love the typography and quote.

The other piece I picked out for the room was this brightly coloured world map from Wallfry. Decorating Little Boys' Bedroom

Decorating Little Boys' RoomAgain, the colours are perfect and the Geography teacher in me loves a map.

So there is the start of the makeover. I am itching to sort out some better storage solutions in this room now that Master O has started school. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Cheat’s Sour Dough

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A few weeks ago I tried to create my own sour dough starter.  Things seemed to be progressing well then something went wrong. My starter started to stink and failed to rise, although it bubbled nicely. I decided to toss it – a tough decision as I had invested a fair bit of time into it.

Sourdough Starter

After trying to research what went wrong, I realised that even the ‘experts’ give contradictory advice. So I have decided that for the moment, sourdough is a little too ‘high maintenance’ for me.

However, I have wanted to get into creating my own bread to enjoy on the weekends, in particular spelt loaves with little added yeast.

The first loaf I made was Alyce Alexandra’s Cheat’s Sour Dough. This loaf looks and tastes like a sour dough but instead uses just 1/4 teaspoon of yeast to do the rising.

It was really simple to make using the trusty Thermomix.  I followed Alyce’s instructional video which I found on You Tube.  If you don’t have a Thermomix you could certainly whip this loaf up in your food processor.

The dough proved overnight and although wet and sticky, took very little effort to shape. It needed to be baked for 30 minutes, perfect for breakfast.

Cheat's Sourdough

Cheat's Sourdough

And this is what my baby looked like…..

Cheat's Sourdough

Instead of using baker’s flour, I used spelt flour. This messed with the texture a little. Next time I will try of combination of both these flours. I also stuffed up the oven temperature but this was the Little Loaf that Could. The bread had a great crust and sour taste.  While it tasted lovely freshly baked, I enjoyed it most toasted.

I had my slices with smashed avocado and the sweetest heirloom tomatoes. My boys had it hot out of the oven with butter and honey. Delicious! So delicious I didn’t even have time to photograph a slice before the family devoured it all.

But don’t worry, I am going to make it again tonight, ready to bake first thing Saturday. I will stand guard with a camera and a wooden spoon(to rap thieving fingers) to ensure a picture of the first slice.

Have a great weekend.

 

Easter Decorating

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I am a sucker for a cute Easter decoration. I have picked up a few bits and pieces in the last week and I have my eye on a few more. Here is what I have bought so far. Where possible I have included a link to the store where you can buy them….

This cute Easter egg garland.Easter Decorating

A pair of hanging Easter eggs.

Easter Decorating

This set of Easter bunnies. They remind me a little of the “Guess How Much I love You” storybook.

There Was a Crooked House Easter Decorating

These crockery sets for the kids. I have been searching  for some Easter themed crockery for the kids for years.  It is virtually non-existent. If you are Australia and know of anywhere that is selling Easter crockery, I’d love to know too!

There Was a Crooked House Easter Decorating

There Was a Crooked House Easter DecoratingAnd finally, we now have a family of mossy bunnies.

Easter Decorating

We only have a week and a half of school left before we break for Easter holidays. I can’t wait! I love this time of the year.

 

 

Kids’ Activity Pack Storage

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In the last week I have shown you some of the activity packs I have made to keep my kids entertained and learning. You can see the latest posts on these, here and here.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

There Was a Crooked House - Kids' Activity PacksWhile these are really loved by the kids, I knew if I didn’t come up with an acceptable storage solution for them, I would soon sooner or later prefer to see them in the bin.

The solution came in some suspension files and a storage box.

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

The box has a special rim inside that holds the suspension files in place. All the packs fit in perfectly, all I have to do is add the name labels.Kids' Activity Pack Storage

Kids' Activity Pack Storage

The box now lives in the boy’s play room. It fits perfectly into one of the shelves in the cupboard. Kids' Activty Pack Storage

 

Beautifully neat – just the way I like it.

Kids’ Activity Packs

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Previously I have shared some of the activity packs I have made for my littlies (see here and here). They have been a Godsend as not only are they educational, they keep my monkeys entertained at times when I need it the most.

Last week I was out with a friend who showed me some ideas for some new activity bags. They got me so excited that I went out the next day to buy some supplies.  Once I started to rat around my local variety store, I was amazed at the inspiration I found sitting on the shelves. I went a little crazy – so unlike me. Ha!

Here are a few of the packs I have made up so far…..

Pattern matching – something Master O is doing a bit of now that he is in Prep. I raided the craft and sewing box to create this one. It is just some coloured wooden stars and velcro. I created some patterns in a Word document for boys to copy and laminated them to make them hardier.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

Matchstick Colour Match. A great fine motor and colour match activity for my 2-year-old, made with coloured toothpick containers and craft matchsticks.

There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

But this was the one the boys got most excited over, a set of coloured keys turned into a fishing game. With the addition of numbers on one side and words on the other, I have made 4 skill games in one set – motor skill, coloured recognition, numeral recognition and sight word recall. After fashioning two magnetic fishing rods, both my boys can play the game that suits their ability level.There Was a Crooked House Activity Packs

Last night the boys didn’t even touch a toy or ask to watch their favourite afternoon show, all they wanted to do is give these a test drive.  Well worth the effort putting them together!

I have a few more packs on the go at the moment. I will share another 3 easy to create activity packs with you tomorrow.

What Ya Been Cookin’?

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I’ve been locked away in the kitchen trying to get a jump on some cooking today. On the agenda – afternoon tea for the hungry kids, something yummy for weekend morning teas, tonight’s dinner and an experiment. Take a look…..

This is so yummy! Garlic, herb and cheese pull apart.  I used my favourite bread recipe, ripped off little balls of dough and dipped them in melted herb and garlic butter. I placed them in a cake tin to rise again before sprinkling with cheese and baking.Herb, garlic and cheese pull apart

Master O is in love with lamingtons at the moment. I made half the recipe in a doughnut pan, the other in a lamington tin. Messy to make but oh so worth it.

Lamingtons

This is Jamie Oliver’s Pork Meatloaf with spaghetti Sauce. I couldn’t wait to taste this at dinner time, so I sliced a small bit off for my lunch. A-mazing! The meatloaf has feta in it and the spaghetti sauce is lovely and rich. This will become a favourite in the Crooked Household.

Pork Meatloaf

Finally, I have always wanted to have a go at making my own sourdough bread. Today I took the first step in creating my own starter. He is equal parts wholemeal spelt flour and water. Fingers-crossed this little fella works.

Sourdough StarterWhat cooking adventures are you up to this weekend?