We haven’t gone away- we’ve just moved!

Have you noticed things have been a bit quiet lately?

That’s because we’ve moved to a brand, spanking new website.

You can find all the old stuff, and heaps of great new posts too, over at

WWW.THISWHOLEHOME.COM

There’s lots of new info on canning and homeschooling, and it’s all much easier to find with the new format. There’s a great community building over there too πŸ™‚

Hope to see you over there soon

Kirstee xx

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Best Banana Cake

I have been making this banana cake for over a decade now and it’s still my favourite way to use up blackened bananas. You know, those ones that are too far gone to be good eating, but not so far past it that they’ve turned into a fruit fly’s sludgey heaven in the bottom of the fruit bowl.
Now there’s always a fight in my house over whether to ice this partocular cake with lemon butter cream (my vote) or to just slice ot warm and eat it buttered (the Mister’s vote). I’ll let you lot argue about that amongst yourselves πŸ˜‰


You will need a few things besides the squishy ‘nanas…

1 tsp bicarb

1/2 cup milk

125g butter

1/2 cup raw caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 large free range eggs (whisk lightly with a fork)

3 large over ripe bananas (mash with a fork)

2 cups self raising flour


1. Preheat oven to 180Β°C. Grease and flour your cake tin (or line with paper)

2. Dissolve bicarb in the milk. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Mash the bananas in a separate small bowl. Set these three bowls aside for now.

3. Cream butter and sugar in a small bowl.Add in vanilla essence then slowly add the eggs, beating all the while.

4. Add in the banana and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a larger bowl.

5. Add in a third of the milk mixture and stir gently. Fold ina third of the flour. Repeat with another third of the milk and another third of the flour. Add in your last thirds. Make sure the mixing and folding is done gently with a metal spoon so that you are incorporating air into your mixture.

6. Pour batter into your tin, smooth over the top and bake for 1 hour.

7. Cool on a wire rack then fight over the correct way to serve the cake. Remember, I am voting for lemon butter cream πŸ˜›

8. The most important step of all…ENJOY!
I adore this cake. Least of all because it uses up bananas that would otherwise die an unhappy death in the rubbish bin. Waste not, want not πŸ˜‰
Happy baking,

Kirstee xx
This recipe is adapted from one I found in an old ‘Family Circle’ cookbook 

A Quiet RevolutionΒ 

​”Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.” ~Marianne Williamson

We live in a world where homesteading, which is really just living much the way our grandparents would have, is a quietly revolutionary act. In a society ruled by corporations, this is one of the few ways we can take back control of our lives and reclaim responsibility for our future and for the future of the Earth.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to corporate greed and control. No, I’m not ok with you forcing farmers into unsustainable practices whilst offering (forcing) them ridiculously low prices for their produce. Farming is a profession which should be respected, celebrated and supported. I do not wish to be party to your bullying tactics.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS to losing touch with seasonal living. Sorry, but I am not ok with eating out of season food that has been trucked in from out of state or worse still, shipped in from overseas. Those unnecessary food miles and the resulting pollution are not ok with me, thanks anyway. I would much rather wait patiently and truly enjoy the first magical strawberry of the season.

Growing our own food is a way to say NO THANKS, I’m not comfortable with large-scale monoculture practices and the subsequent chemical use. I would rather not ingest those pesticides if I can avoid it, and I’d prefer not to be responsible for degradation of our soil. Instead I will work to repair the soil on my small patch and feed my family food that barely needs rinsing.

Keeping animals for food, even if it’s just for eggs, is a way of saying NO THANKS, I am not ok with the factory farming industry and it’s unspeakably horrible treatment of animals (buying direct from one of the many wonderful, ethical farmers in this country can send the same message). I would rather watch my hens forage around my yard and gratefully accept the eggs they gift me in return.

Cooking from scratch is a way to say NO THANKS, I am not ok with accepting the highly processed and packaged foodlike items that are robbing us of our health. I would like to know what is in my food, know that it nourishes my children’s bodies. I can do without all of the unnecessary plastic that pollutes our planet.

NO THANKS, but I don’t want to accept a one size fits all life for myself or for my children’s education. I don’t want my clothes to be made from oil. I don’t want to rely on a factory to provide me with something so simple,  so everyday, as a dishcloth. I don’t want to pay for things I can do myself. I don’t want to live detached from the Earth I came from. 

Like a toddler I want to scream, “I can do it myself!”

Suburban homesteading is a way to take back control. Control of our spending, control of our health. Through growing, cooking and preserving our own food we can accept responsibility for ourselves and for our impact on the Earth. We can thumb our noses at the corporations that try to tell us how to live, from the clothes we wear to the water we drink. 

The problems of the world can seem insurmountable. We can feel lost, powerless and afraid. Or we can take back our power. 

Each person who plants a garden takes back some control and responsibility for themselves. Each person who plants a garden inspires a friend to do the same. Slowly, quietly, the revolution is spreading from one backyard to the next. 

Have you joined the suburban homesteading revolution?

Get started with these ideas for homesteading in the suburbs.

 

Frugal meals: Devilled Sausages

This may come as a shock but I live on a *gasp* budget. Crazy right :-p But if you’re reading my blog I’m guessing you are probably doing the same. And when you think how much money gets spent on food in a week, well it makes perfect sense to cook some budget-friendly meals. Cheap and cheerful! Devilled sausages are a regular favourite here and so easy to make πŸ™‚

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Devilled sausages are the perfect comfort food

Ingredients:

6-8 sausages of your choice

Splash of olive oil

2 small onions
1 large green apple
2 small tomatoes (you can substitute with half a can of crushed or diced tomatoes)
1 clove garlic crushed

3/4 cup tomato sauce (preferably homemade for extra flavour)
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1Β clove crushed garlic (yes, another one. You can leave it out if you want. Or you know, add more because garlic is the shizz!)

It may look like a lot of ingredients when you could mix up a Maggi packet and call it a day, but I’d wager most people have these things stashed in their pantry.

Step 1
Preheat your oven to 180Β°C then fry your sausages in a pan. You can use whichever sausages you prefer or have a go at making your own.

Obviously cheaper sausages have less meat and more fat, etc. in them but sausages NEED fat to hold them together and give them that sausage-y texture. Also…they are cheaper! Because this is meant to be a frugal meal, right πŸ˜‰

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Save money by buying whichever variety of sausages your butcher has on sale this week

When they are browned all over remove them from the pan, chop into bite sized pieces and transfer to a casserole dish.

Step 2

Slice the apples and onions thinly, and chop the tomatoes into a large-ish dice. Toss them into the pan you used for the sausages, add a splash of oil and the crushed garlic. SautΓ©e for about 15 minutes until soft. When they are done add them to the casserole dish with the sausages.

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Don't wash your pan after cooking the sausages. It saves time and add flavour!

Step 3
Here is where you forget the packet of goodness-knows-what-dried-powder that you find in the supermarket, and instead make a delicious alternative with REAL ingredients. In a bowl mix together the remaining ingredients from the list and pour over the sausage mixture. Give it a good stir and pop it into the oven. Cook for 45 minutes with the lid on.

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Cook on 180Β°C or 350Β°F for 45 minutes

While you wait…
Do yourself a favour and make up a BIG bowl of mashed potato. The creamier the better. It is the perfect accompaniment to Devilled Sausages.

Enjoy!

Now I didn’t share a photo of the finished product because let’s face it, no matter how awesome this tastes it is never going to be a particularly pretty dish. Looks aside, my munchkins are GUARANTEED to eat seconds and even thirds when I cook this dish. Any leftovers make the perfect lunch for The Mister to take to work with some buttered bread.

Honestly, the vast majority of us are living on a budget so it makes sense to have a few of these frugal meals up our sleeves.Β 
What is your favourite frugal dinner?

Homesteading- what is it?

You’ve heard me talk about it. Suburban homesteading. But what is it?

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If you get up in the morning and put on gumboots instead of slippers, you might just be a homesteader.

If you ready your kids for school and find yourselves sitting around the kitchen table ready to start your lessons, you might just be a homesteader.

If it’s time to put dinner on and you send the kids outside to collect what you need from the garden, you might just be a homesteader.

If the change in seasons means something to you beyond a change in wardrobe…
If a hole in a sweater means work not shopping…
If you keep animals but not just pets…
YOU MIGHT JUST BE A HOMESTEADER.

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Homesteading- it’s a bit of a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it more than once, even sussed out that it refers to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I’d wager you could even list off a half dozen or so activities you think it includes. And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still a little…vague about the idea.

And that’s because homesteading is more than a location. More than a set of actions. It’s a lifestyle, but more importantly it’s a mindset. And that’s why homesteading can happen on a farm or in your suburban home. And it’s why anyone can do it!

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To be a homesteader all you need is the drive to become a more self-sufficient. That’s it! If you want to live more naturally, be less reliant on shops, save yourself some money, and become a maker not a buyer, then you’re set to be a homesteader!

And because this is a mindset change,Β  these pearls of wisdom may come in handy πŸ˜‰

“Use it up, wear it out. Make do or do without”

And

“It’s not about where your home is, it’s about where your head is”  ~Rhonda Hetzel

So- are you a homesteader?

Shared on
Our Simple Homestead Bloghop

Recipe: tomato sauce (it’s like ketchup but better!)

Here it is!

After promisingΒ  (and forgetting) then promising again, here is my current favourite recipe for tomato sauce. Or ketchup if you are American. I will not be swayed on terminology, especially with Matt Preston declaring our take on catsup more sophisticated due to it being more vinegary and less sugary than its American counterpart πŸ˜‰ And who is going to argue with Matt Preston?!

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Homemade tomato sauce

You will need:
1L vinegar
1kg sugar
150g salt
6 cloves garlic (crushed)
6 cloves (ground)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp sweet paprika

5kg tomatoes (peeled and rough chopped)
1kg brown onions (peeled and rough chopped)
1kg green apples (peeled, cored and rough chopped)

Allspice (to taste)

Glass bottles and lids

Step 1
Place vinegar, sugar, salt and spices (except allspice) into a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Prepare the tomatoes, apples and onions (see here for how to peel tomatoes quickly) then add to vinegar mixture once it is boiling. If your pot isn’t ridiculously huge you may want to halve the recipe.

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Tip: if you have a food mill for step 3, you can skip peeling your tomatoes. I don’t have one so I peel- easier now than later. I also don’t bother to remove the seeds. They cook down soft and add good flavour.

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Step 2
Bring to boil and then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. While the sauce bubbles away, wash your bottles in hot, soapy water. Rinse clean and leave to dry.

Step 3
After two hours, pass the sauce through a food processor or mill in batches. Return to the pot and bring back up to the boil. Add ground allspice to taste (I like plenty and feel it adds body to the sauce). Keep at a simmer until you reach desired consistency-no more than a half hour or so. The sauce will thicken a little more when it cools, so keep this in mind. Or, you know, forget and accidentally make chutney. I may or may not have done that once or twice πŸ˜‰

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After passing through the food processor

Step 4
Place bottles in a hot oven to sterilise for 10 minutes. The lids can go into a bowl of boiling water. Rummage around in the drawer to find a ladle and funnel. They are probably at the back πŸ˜‰ Fill your bottles. It should be hot sauce into hot bottles to avoid glass cracking. Fasten the lids tight.

Step 5
I am going to go ahead and tell you to waterbath your sauce so that it will be shelf stable for 12 months. This is the current recommendation for safety reasons. I don’t want anyone blaming me for contracting botulism! Personally, I am old-fashioned and happy to use the overflow method for bottling sauce. But I told you to waterbath for safety. Remember that :-p

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You can reuse old bottles so long as they don't have plastic lids and no cracks

So long as you keep your ratios of tomatoes, salt and vinegar the same, it is safe to half or double the recipe. Hell, you can quadruple it if you have a massive tomato glut. Do NOT mess with the vinegar and sugar ratios though! You can also play around with the spices, or use different varieties of tomatoes, apples and onions. Make the sauce your own πŸ™‚

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We picked these on a family trip to Stanthorpe

The batch I bottled yesterday has tomatoes from a local farm as well apples and tomatoes from our recent trip down to Stanthorpe. I love buying the local produce wherever we visit.

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My little Apple Picker

Apologies to those I promised this recipe to months ago.

Happy bottling xx

How to peel tomatoes when you have MILLIONS of them!

I’m having another sauce bottling day. Bottling days are some of my favourite days and for me they are an integral part of suburban homesteading. I may not be able to keep a cow, fish in my own dam or spin fleece from my own sheep, but EVERYONE with a stove can bottle their own sauce. Seriously,  my home smells amazing today!

And while bottling sauce is easy, it is rather time consuming, so it helps to know a few tricks. This includes how to easily peel bucketloads of tomatoes πŸ˜‰

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Step One
Put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to the boil. Rinse your tomatoes. Discard any that are rotten. If you wouldn’t eat it fresh, your definitely do not want to preserve it!

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Step Two
Score the base of your tomatoes using a sharp knife  (a paring knife is easiest to work with if you have one).

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And YES, I do mean score every single tomato. This is the most time consuming part of the process but I promise,  it makes step four so much easier!

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Step Three
In batches, add your tomatoes to the rapidly boiling water (and it will be at a rapid boil by the time you have scored them all πŸ˜‰ ). When the skins start to pull back from the score marks, use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pot and put them into a bowl of iced water.

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Step Four
Wait a minute for the tomatoes to cool enough that you can handle them without scalding your fingers. In the meantime add your next batch to the pot to boil. Once the tomatoes are cooled a little you can peel them. Thanks to the scoring, the skins peel away easily. Really, they pretty much wipe off with a rub of your thumb. Told you the scoring was worth the hassle πŸ˜‰

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Step Five
Keep repeating the process for each batch until you have peeled the MILLIONS of tomatoes. Keep all of the discarded skins in a bowl to go into the compost. Done!

Now all that’s left to do is tidy your work area before you start on the sauce itself 😊 Or any other fabulous recipe you want to use your tomatoes in.

Tomorrow I will share my current favourite recipe for tomato sauce x

Take aim and fire!

I have recently discovered some people find it offensive for a suburban homesteading page to discuss despatching animals to feed your family. Trust facebook to bring out the ugly in people.

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It has me wondering though… are our followers not aware that we here at ‘Forage and Forge’ all about becoming as self-sufficient as we can on our little patch of suburbia OR do people not really know what suburban homesteading is? Maybe people believe we should strive for self-sufficient vegetarianism? Hmmmm

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So I have (of course) decided to write a series of blog posts explaining the how, what and why of suburban homesteading 😊 Which makes NOW the perfect time to ask any questions you have about this way of living.

Fire away!

Cooking like a Grandma: pickled silverside

How good is a silverside sandwich. Crusty bread, too much butter, loads of pickles,  maybe a little tomato relish…and delicious slivers of tender pink meat. Oh my gosh. Drooling over here!

It’s March and the weather is still ridiculously hot but I’m pretending autumn has really, truly arrived and I’m getting set to tuck into some comfort food. That good ol’fashioned silverside is in the pot, bubbling away for tonight’s tea.

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Do not judge silverside on that chewy grey stuff you buy from the Woolworths deli counter. Real silverside is soft, pink and full of flavour. And despite being a brined meat, it shouldn’t taste overtly salty. The trick is in the cooking. Here’s how my Nanna makes it πŸ™‚

Ingredients:
2 large carrots
1 large onion
Whole peppercorns
Whole cloves
Bay leaves
Vinegar
Brown sugar
A piece of pickled silverside from your local butcher

Rough chop a couple of carrots and a large onion. Chuck your pieces in the bottom of a large stockpot. Sit your piece of silverside on top of the vegies.

Fill the pot with cool water, just enough to completely cover your silverside. Add in a cup of vinegar. It doesn’t matter if you have brown or white, but I almost always add in the cheap white stuff.

Add in a couple of bay leaves, a few whole peppercorns and half a dozen whole cloves. Now for the secret ingredient- a heaped dessertspoon of brown sugar (saltiness begone!).

Set your pot on the stove over a medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. Once it’s bubbling away, reduce the heat just enough that you maintain a gentle simmer. Continue to simmer the meat for 30 minutes per 500g of silverside.

Once it’s done, remove it from the pot and let it rest on a plate for a good 10 minutes. This will stop it toughening. If you’re eating the silverside hot for dinner, you have just the right amount of time to make up a cheese sauce πŸ˜‰

Now the best bit. Eat it!

Homecooked silverside, made the way nannas make it, is truly delicious. And it makes sandwich fillings for DAYS.

ENJOY x