Lunchbox Baking

So this isn’t a cooking blog but I have to share this fantastic recipe.  These days many schools (here in Australia anyway) have a no nut policy due to many children being allergic to them.  Unfortunately this rules out the humble muesli bar from school lunch boxes.  However this recipe I’m about to share with you is nut free and I will guarantee your children will love (if anything gets the stamp of approval from our 7 year old you know you are onto a good thing).  Easy to make and full of nutrition (B vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, Phosporous and Phytosterols) and not one number in sight.  That’s right, unlike looking at the ingredients labelled on the packaging of a conventional muesli bar that may leave you confused because you are not sure what you are about to ingest, you know what you are going to eat with these.  So without further adue here is the recipe…

Muesli Bar Recipe

Will be interested in feedback and if you have been daring enough to try some variations.

Happy baking!!

 

Long Weekend = Geocaching

Well I had to share my wonderful weekend with my family and a very dear old friend and her family.  It was fantastic and very much needed.  One aspect of the trip I want to share with my readers.

On our journey to Morgan we decided to do some geocaching.  This is something I introduced my step children (and my fiancé) about 12 months ago.  They love it!  It is relatively easy to start up and the only real cost to start is purchasing a GPS.  You can do it without one but you may prove to be more successful with one.

With our newly registered geocache name (we have registered as a family unit) I put together a little booklet of some geocaches we might find over the weekend.  We managed to find seven.  One beat us this time around but we will head back sometime to find it.

The fantastic thing I find about this “game” is the low cost, it’s fun for all the family and it teaches you so much about areas that may have never noticed and are literally within your neighbourhood.

In the next day or so I will share some photos of our glorious weekend.

iPhone App of the Day: Gardenate

Gardenate

Once again this is a paid app and will set you back $1.99.  However for the keen veggie gardener it is certainly a worthwhile investment.  I have been using this app for a couple of years now.  This app is easy to navigate and is great to keep on hand while you are out in the garden.

This application is great in its simplicity.  However I will share some screen shots.  Once you have your temperature zone (Adelaide is temperate) worked out everytime you press the icon on your phone it will give you a list of plants that you can grow for that month.  Plus with a swipe either way of your phone you can see what should have been planted last month and what can be planted next month.

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Once you have selected what type of plants you would like to grow the app will give you more detail on the plants.  It will give you information such as when to grow, any special instructions in regard to growing, crop rotation details and compatability with other plants.

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The app also has tools such as a garden diary (My Garden), an area to enter other notes and an extensive plant list with plant details.

As previously stated this app is a must for every keen kitchen gardener with a smartphone.

5 stars

Buying the app…

iPhone Gardenate

Android Gardenate

Supporting website Gardenate

Spring Has Sprung…

Well it’s that time of year when the garden starts to come to life.  Not sure if I speak only for myself but like the garden I start to come out of hibernation and really start to enjoy the sunshine and the garden.

My Dutch Irises have come to life in the front garden.  They look absolutely stunning.  I have managed to even plant some broccoli and zucchini in the front yard.  Much to my fiancé’s dismay.  He’s not quite convinced vegetables belong in the front garden.  I personally don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules on where vegetables (or even fruit) can and cannot be planted.

Dutch Irises

So in the backyard I have set up a new compost bin.  It’s the first time I have used a commercial bought bin.  I suppose I will be able to let you know how it all works soon enough.

The most exciting thing is my eggplants.  I have my first eggplant and I can’t wait to be able to start picking.  The type I am growing is a heirloom variety called Listada Di Gandia.  I have grown these plants by seed and planted last season and have survived the winter.

Eggplant

 

A quick update on the garlic… It’s not happening!  I think Diesel just had too much fun with it.  However I have plenty of herbs – oregano, parsley, thyme, mint (found out I have a summer variety and it is starting to shoot), bay and I still have some basil growing.  My chilli plants have also survived the winter months.

I am so looking forward to the next couple of months.  I want to make sure I can get as much as possible into the ground.  It may also give me some welcome stress relief as my wedding day is not far around the corner now.

 

iPhone App of the Day: Shop Ethical!

ShopEthical-icon

Now I will be straight up and this app is not a free one and will set you back $4.49.  In saying that I do believe I have certainly got my money worth from it and it has opened my eyes into how the corporate world works and is even linked.

This app is not really practical to take shopping with you as (depending what product or company you are researching) there can be a lot of information to read.  It is probably better to write a shopping list out and then research from there (otherwise it could be a long shopping trip).

There are several things I like about this app.  Firstly it is quite easy to navigate.  It will tell you if the product is Australian made.  It will also tell you who the parent company is eg. Uncle Tobys is owned by Nestle.

The information provided by the app is quite extensive.  There are different levels products are ranked.  The best ranked products have a bold green circle with a bold green tick.  If the products are Australian made they have a picture of Australia next to the ranking.

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The worse ranking products receive a bold red circle with a bold red line through it.

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Once you press the information icon detailed information becomes available.  For the following example of the detailed informtion I will use Nestle.

shop ethical

Nestle Australia is in fact owned by the parent company Nestle.  While Nestle Australia claim to be a GE-Free brand and are a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant.  However Shop Ethical! are calling for a boycott of Nestle primarily due to the activities of the parent company.  These reasons include:

  • The irresponsible marketing of infant formula in developing countries leading to infant deaths.  The boycott was reinstated due to a perceived non-compliance to World Health Organisation Code regulations.
  • Control of water in North America.
  • Irresponsible marketing (especially in relation to baby formula).
  • Promotion of bottled water.
  • Child labour: for continuing to buy cocoa from the Ivory Coast, despite the use of forced child labour in that country.
  • Workers rights.
  • Water pollution in China.
  • Poor wages for coffee farmers.

While that may be enough to convince you to boycott the company, it is clear that educating people on these types of issues does place pressure on companies.  It was about 2010 when the pressure was applied to companies regarding the use of palm oil.  Since then and it has been noted that Nestle have made some changes.  In 2011, Nestle received a score of 8 out of a possible 9 in the WWF Palm Oil Buyers’ Scorecard.

As you may be able to tell the information is quite detailed.  It is an  interesting exercise to go through your pantry.  I was in fact quite horrified the first time around.  However the app can be quite empowering as it allows you to make an informed choice and it is relatively easy to find an alternative.  It also allows you to take your research  on a particular product further, as there are hyperlinks to other organisations for more information.

Shop Ethical! also has its own website that gives you further information about the community based, not-for-profit organisation and network, plus reinforcing product information.

For those that want to be informed about the products they buy this app is worth the investment.

5 stars

Back In My Day…

"Food is a Weapon - Don't Waste it" ...
“Food is a Weapon – Don’t Waste it” – NARA – 513830 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have noticed and even been involved of late with this new “revolution” to try and educate people on food waste, how it can be avoided in the first place and if you do have food waste how can it be responsibly recycled.  In the last couple of weeks through various meetings and workshops I have realised this is certainly not a new “revolution”.  I guess I take it for granted because I have always been quite mindful of waste and things like food scraps I have always placed in my kerbside organics collection, composted, placed in the worm farm or even given to our animals.  What I have come across and would like to share are the most gorgeous vintage posters.

These posters were around during the period of WWI and WWII, when rationing was a part of everyday life.  Hence the title of this blog “Back In My Day…”.  I can just hear my grandparents saying this now as we take on this issue as if it has never been addressed before.  It just goes to show we can learn a lot from our elders.

If you would like to see the many posters that were designed around this time just Google “vintage food waste posters”.  Although they had a serious message some are quite funny in this day and age (in the sense of the roles that men and women had in society at the time).

Think Glocal!

Last Wednesday (31st June) I was very fortunate to be involved in a workshop with Professor Paul Clarke, the co-founder of the Pop-Up-Foundation.

“Pop-Up-Foundation addresses one of the central challenges of our time: decoupling human progress from resource use and environmental decline.  Bringing sustainable living to people in a simple, accessible form, focused on results, Pop-Up-Foundation encourages eveyone to participate in the changes and create and share solutions.  In this way, all these small changes can connect, consolidate and have a bigger compound effect.  This is how Pop-Up-Foundation uses its local perspective to address global ecological challenge – how to live our lives sustainably.”

During this workshop we did an interesting exercise.  At our tables we had a packet of Carmen’s Muesli Bars and another muesli/breakfast bar.  This exercise required us to examine the packaging and look for information on the following…

  • Packaging (recyclable?)
  • Evidence of certification/soil association etc?
  • What is it claiming/saying about itself?
  • Can we identify where it is from?
  • Fair Trade/ direct/ ethical trade?
  • Other?

It was quite eye opening from the perspective of what is not on the packaging.  In particular, where are the ingredients sourced from?  There is nothing on packaging that identifies who the farmers are (and yes I realise there is limited space on packaging but you will find the majority of companies do not even have that information available on their websites).  Another point that was made,  for something to be labelled “Fair Trade”, only 1% of the ingredients have to be sourced as fair trade.  Astounding!!!  Well actually it’s a joke to be honest.

Another point of discussion was on one of the many projects that have been undertaken by the Pop-Up-Foundation.  The “Happy Bean Coffee Company” is a fantastic project and really does embrace the concept of “Think Glocal” – Think globally and act locally.  I believe this concept is a more realistic way of understanding concepts of food security, food miles and buying or acting locally in a world that is more connected than ever.

Further Reading…

Education for Sustainability: Becoming Naturally Smart

Cost-Effective Landscaping…

When I moved into my fiancé’s house almost a year ago I knew I wasn’t marrying a gardener.  While he doesn’t haven’t a green thumb he certainly makes up for it in the kitchen.  So it was a simple plan when I moved in… I would garden and he would cook.  However we do cross over a little as I do like to cook and I think I have given him a little confidence in the gardening realm (well at least with the mowing).

Today I was on my way home and I saw a sign for free pavers.  I stopped and got out of the car and to my surprise it was just what I was after for placing a rock border around the garden (well it has got me off to a good start) and some pavers for stepping stones to the letter box.

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After I looked at my no-cost handy work I started to think the front garden transformation has become a real tribute to sustainability in the sense of materials costing me nothing, lawn cost nothing (the real bonus with that was I didn’t even have to lay it) and apart from a few plants they to have cost me nothing.

The main outcome for the front garden is for it to be a butterfly garden and the rocks were a perfect addition as they need somewhere to rest and warm up.  Along with some nectar plants all I need now is a nice birdbath or something to ensure butterflies and birds have what they need to drink and eat.

So I guess there you have it.  You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to landscape your garden.  Generally what is required is a little patience because sometimes you may just have to wait for materials to be available.  All I can say is be on the look out and don’t be afraid to ask people if they require something or what they are doing with the left overs.  Bartering is another good practice.  That’s how I manage to get a lot of my plants (my son has a little nursery set up for native Australian plants and teenagers are always up for a good deal).

Next I might have to sneak in a few vegetables throughout the garden beds out the front.  My fiancé seems to think you can only grow those types of things in a backyard.  Well I think he may be in for a lesson on permaculture.

Related Articles…

Garden Recycling – Homelife

Butterfly nectar plants of the Adelaide Region – Butterfly Conservation SA Inc.

10 Steps to a Butterfly Garden – Melbourne Zoo

 

 

Diesel: Garden Manager…

Diesel

So finally I have garlic estabilished and growing quite well.  The lemon tree has not succumbed to anymore harrassment from Diesel.  In fact the garden is coming together quite well at the moment.

Diesel is managing to chew up his own toys (has chewing and disecting tennis balls down to a fine art) and bedding and while that is a pain to be constantly picking up after him, I already do it for 4 children so whats another 4-legged child?  He has also decided to undertake some earthworks in the back yard.  I’m wondering if it is because he saw the boys digging a hole (where I am trying to re-establish the lawn) looking for worms that he thought it looked fun enough to try himself?