Thursday, August 30, 2012

What to do with Turnips?

I seem to have an abundance of turnips that are at picking size so I decided to search the web looking for interesting ways to use them. I tried steaming them and didn't like that very much, then tried caramelizing them and didn't like that either.
So I ended up pickling a jar and I am hoping that they are going to come out great. I quite like pickles in genreal, so I don't see why these won't taste good. I will try them on the weekend after a week of pickling.

(*update* I just couldn't wait a week to try the pickles, they have been in the fridge for 5 days so I thought they must be done. And they were! Tasted them just now and they are perfect! They are going to be so nice in a salad or on a sandwich.)

But for now, here is how they were done:
Trim the greens off the turnips and peel them

Chop or slice into any shape pieces you would like, not too thick.
Salt the slices and let them rest for about 15-20 minutes, this will draw out excess moisture.
Boil 1 cup water with a cup of white vinegar, a tablespoon of salt and a table spoon of sugar. Add spices that you like in your pickles. I only added peppercorns.
Stuff a jar with the turnip slices and a bit of crushed garlic. If they come out nice I might add a chilli next time. Fill the jar with the boiling brine and seal.
Allow to pickle in the fridge for 4-7 days and enjoy!

I read that the leaves of the turnips are also edible and not wanting to be wasteful I thought I would give them a try. I know you can eat them raw but they are quite hairy and prickly so I cooked them up and then made an omelet/quiche thingy :)
Wash and chop up the turnip leaves
 Fry up an onion with some garlic and mixed herbs. Add turnip leaves and fry until tender.
 Add a block of feta
 Beat 4 eggs with a little milk, salt and herbs you like. Pour over the turnip leaves and cook over low heat with the lid on. You can also put it under the grill for a couple minutes to brown the top.
It was quite delicious and for a spinach loving household it made a very good alternative.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Taste of the Summer ahead

One week away from spring day and its a serious scorcher here in Durban today!
I have pasted in the details that popped up when I googled our temperature today, I nearly fell off my chair when I read it.

Weather for Durban

40°C | °F
ClearPartly SunnyMostly SunnyMostly Sunny

Wind: NW at 37 km/h

Humidity: 11%34°17°21°14°22°16°24°19°

And there is also a very hot wind blowing. I'm sure we have a bit of a cold front ahead of us, but for the mean time we are all enjoying (dreading?) what's to come in the next few months.
The last of my winter root crops wilting in the heat of the day:

I am hoping that tomorrow I can get stuck in the garden and make some space for all my summer crops.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Make your own Muesli

I have never been fond of shop bought muesli as I could never find one that had all the things in it that I enjoy, and enough of those things to get a taste with every bite.
So here is how I made my own muesli with all my favorite nuts and seeds at just the right quantities. You can adjust and change to your own liking.

What you need:
1/2 kg rolled oats
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seed
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons linseed
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix oats, nuts and seeds together. Mix honey and orange juice together and warm in the microwave so that the honey mixes into the juice. Pure over the oats mix and stir to coat everything.
Put into two flat oven trays and bake for about 30 mins at 180 degrees, mixing every ten minutes. Keep a careful eye on it as it burns very quickly around the edges.
Once it is nicely golden and toasted remove and allow to cool.
All toasted before adding fruit
Mix in your fruit

Serve with your own homemade yogurt and a splash of honey, yum.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rain, rain, more rain... and a bit of hail.

As the rest of South Africa are enjoying the widespread snowfalls, we here in Durban are getting our fair share of rain. It doesn't snow here on the east coast but we are very happy for the rain as we have had a couple of extremely dry months. Hopefully this marks our transition into the rainy season.
It has rained non-stop for about 36 hrs, so our water tanks, which were completely empty, are now full and so is the swimming pool (which we only use rain water from the tanks to fill).
We also had a surprising bit of hail, my eldest son thought it was great as the little balls of ice fell from the sky.

The little bit of hail that we got
 As I look out the window now, it seems to be clearing, its much brighter outside but still very windy. My poor potato plants have really been taking a beating in all this wind, I hope we are still able to get a harvest from them in a few weeks.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Making yogurt

I know that you don't need a yogurt maker to make yogurt at home, but when my mother-in-law asked what I would like for my birthday I knew that little yogurt maker I had seen would be the perfect gift. So that's what I got.

My first attempt was a complete fail! I followed the instructions that came with the machine but the end result was more like a drinking yogurt, very runny, but I did manage to use it in smoothies and cooking.
So I decided to see what others were doing by searching the web. I soon released that I needed to heat my milk before adding the yogurt culture. I also learned that adding some powdered milk will help it get thicker.

This is what I did:
Heat 1 litre of milk with 1/4 cup powdered milk mixed in, to about 85 degrees Celsius (180-185 degrees Fahrenheit). Apparently the longer you hold it at this temp the thicker the yogurt will be due to the water evapouration.
Allow the milk to cool to about 45 degrees Celsius (115 degrees Fahrenheit)
Mix some of this cooled milk with 2 tablespoons of plain store bought yogurt that contains live cultures (I have found that almost all of them contain these cultures, just check the tub).
Now add your yogurt mix to the cooled milk.
Pour the milk into your yogurt maker and set the number of hours you would like it to culture. The longer it goes the thicker, but tarter it will get. I found about 8-10 hours works well.

I was blown away by the results after following the correct instructions. My yogurt was so thick, thicker than greek yogurt. And it tasted just as great as the store bought, better!

Yes, that is my yogurt tub standing on its side without anything falling out, it was just that thick

For my next batches I just save a couple tablespoons from the last batch for the started yogurt.
I must admit my second batch was not quite this think, but still as thick as greek yogurt.
Next step is making my own muesli!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Buying Borax in Bulk

I recently started making our liquid laundry detergent and I think it's great. I have been using the recipe found on the Simple Green Living site. 
The one ingrediant that has been bugging me is the borax, reason being I could only find these little 100g containers in the shops and the recipe calls for just over one of them. They usually cost R10.49 for the 100g tub.
100g Borax tub

The recipe is still very economical and much cheaper than normal washing powder, but I just had to find a supplier who sold borax in larger quantities. So after looking on the web for a little while I came across an advert that led me to Kathy from KCshop, an online store that sell soap making supplies. She didn't have the borax on the site but after emailing her she said she could supply it.
So I ordered 5kg from her on Saturday, which she posted on Monday and arrived here today (Friday). Excellent service if you ask me.
5kg Borax
And the big question is the price. She charges R35 per kg or R30 per kg if you buy 5kg! Factoring in the shipping cost, it would come to about R40 per kg. So one of those little tubs now cost me R4.
This will bring my laundry detergent price right down, not to mention how many other uses borax has in home cleaning products.

Kathy also happened to stock liquid castile soap which I have been searching everywhere for, another product with many uses around the home. I was particularly looking for it to make a multipurpose cleaning spray which I will write about as soon as I have made and tried it out.

Liquid Castile Soap