31 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 31 - MOO Easiest Ever Cottage Cheese


You either love it or loathe it. Cottage cheese is one of the neglected cheeses, and that is oh so very wrong. It is so good, easy to use, easy to make and truly delicious.

I'm not talking about that white, lumpy stuff in yellowy water you buy.

I'm talking about real, homemade with real milk, thick, white, creamy cottage cheese. The cottage cheese you can spread on bread instead of butter, that you can dip veggie sticks into for snack, the type of cottage cheese you can substitute for bechamel sauce in lasagnes and pasta bakes.

Try it, it is good.

Easiest Ever Cottage Cheese

Ingredients:
1 cup milk powder*
1/4 - 1/2 cup lemon juice
5 cups cold water

Method:
Add the skim milk powder with 5 cups of water. Beat with egg beater or electric mixer. Heat milk in a saucepan, over low heat, until just warm. Remove from heat and slowly add the lemon juice or citric acid and stir. When curds and whey have formed strain through a cheese cloth (I use a clean Chux). Before using, add salt to taste.

*I prefer full cream milk powder, I like my cottage cheese thick and creamy. You can substitute skim milk powder for the full cream for a low fat cottage cheese. Just remember it won't be as thick and creamy - this homemade cottage cheese doesn't have any thickeners added.



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30 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 30 MOO Aioli


This delicious garlic based mayonnaise is so easy to MOO, you'll never buy it again. It's fresh, tasty, simple to make and tastes great on chicken, fish, lamb, salads, sandwiches, foccacia, rolls, wraps, as a dip with fresh veggie sticks.

MOO Aioli

Ingredients:
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
2 cups olive oil
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp wholegrain mustard

Method:
Place garlic in the bowl of a mixer and add yolks, salt and pepper. Beat on high until the eggs are thick and frothy. Gradually add the oil; first drop by drop and slowly increase to a thin stream when the appliance is on. Whisk in the water, lemon juice and mustard. Pour into a clean, air tight container. Chill and serve.

Keeps in the fridge for up to four days.



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29 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 29 MOO Peanut Butter Cups


I was having a cuppa with Wendy a few weeks ago and she reminded me of these lovely little treats and just how much I like them. This recipe is a MOO on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and having enjoyed the genuine treat it is a very good copy. The trick is to use a Kraft-style peanut butter. MOO peanut butter is too oily to make these delicious morsels, so splurge on a jar of commercial peanut butter (I use the Aldi PB and it's fine, and cheaper than Kraft).

MOO Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients:
24 foil chocolate cups*
375g milk chocolate melts
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Step 1. Melt the chocolate melts over a double boiler or in the microwave.

Step 2. Using a teaspoon, pour some chocolate into a foil cup and swirl around so it covers the entire inside of the foil chocolate cup. Repeat with the remaining foil cups. Put them in the fridge for the chocolate to set.

Step 3. Combine the peanut butter, icing sugar and salt in a bowl.

Step 4. When the chocolate cases have hardened, microwave the peanut butter mixture on half power for 30 seconds to soften.

Step 5. Using a teaspoon, spoon a small portion of the peanut butter into each chocolate cup. Leave room for another layer of chocolate. Chill until the peanut butter has hardened.

Step 6. Melt remaining chocolate. Spoon over the top of the peanut butter, making sure it is completely covered. Chill until firm.

*You'll find the small foil chocolate papers at kitchenware shops and in some supermarkets in the baking aisle with the cupcake papers etc. Spotlight and Lincraft sometimes keep them with the chocolate making supplies too.



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28 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 28 - MOO Passionfruit Cordial


Oh how I wish I had a passionfruit vine or two in the backyard. I love passionfruit - just to eat, in a sponge cake, in flummery, in yoghurt - any way I can get it really.

I especially love passionfruit cordial. It such an old-fashioned type of drink, reminds me of my childhood and how the summers seemed so hot and endless, of cousins coming to stay and picnics at the river.

I usually make one or two batches of this beautiful drink each year and then guard it jealously, bringing it out on special occasions.  I make it with either chilled soda water or plain mineral water and float mint ice cubes in each glass.

MOO Passionfruit Cordial

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh passionfruit pulp

Step 1. Place the sugar, water and lemon juice into a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until syrup thickens slightly. Stir in the passionfruit pulp. Set aside for 30 minutes to cool.

Step 2. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a jug, pushing the pulp through with the back of a spoon. Discard seeds. Pour syrup into a sterilised airtight bottle and seal. Place in the fridge to chill.

To serve put some ice cubes in serving glasses. Add passionfruit cordial to taste and top with sparkling water.


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26 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 26 Super Easy MOO Orange Marmalade


This is wonderful on toast but for a real treat use orange marmalade instead of jam in bread and butter pudding - it turns an ordinary pudding into a special dessert.

Super Easy Orange Marmalade

Ingredients: 
275g oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
500ml boiling water, divided
500g sugar

Method:
Cut the oranges into quarters, and remove pips. Chop the oranges roughly. I use my food processor to do this.

Put pips and lemon shells onto muslin square and tie with string to make a bag. Put the oranges, lemon juice, 300ml boiling water and the muslin bag in a 3-litre microwave safe bowl (or bigger if possible to prevent splashes).

Cover and soak for 1 hour. Add 200ml boiling water. Microwave on high for 20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes, until peel is tender.

Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Microwave on high for 25 minutes until setting point is reached, stirring every 5 minutes. Be careful as the mixture can get very hot.

Stand for 15 minutes, then stir and ladle into hot, sterilised jars  and seal while still hot.

This isn't pretty marmalade but it tastes delicious. If you like pretty marmalade you can quarter the oranges, then thinly slice instead of chopping in the food processor.

You can use a mixture of citrus fruit if you would like a different marmalade. You can use cumquats, lemons or grapefruit instead of the oranges or any combination of them for a mixed fruit marmalade.



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25 March 2015

Where I Shop


The most asked question today is where do I really shop?

Well, you saw where I shop on A Current Affair on Monday night. The stores we went to for that story are the stores I shop at for the food I feed my family and the grocery items I use in our home. Oh, you might see me in other stores in other shopping centres, especially on a Thursday when I take my Mum to do her shopping. But if you want to know where I shop, watch the segment or keep on reading :)

I do the bulk of my groceries at Aldi (love Aldi). The Aldi I prefer to shop at is at Vermont South shopping centre here in Melbourne. I jumped for joy and clapped my hands with glee when Aldi opened there a couple of years ago.


Then I zip down to Coles. It's in the same centre and is definitely shares first place with the Coles Bayswater store as my favourite in the area. It's always clean and tidy, is rarely out of stock of anything I want, readily gives out rain checks and if I really need something I can ask and they do their best to get it in for me. And I love the staff - some of them have been there since the store opened almost 40 years ago - it must be a great store to work in.

It gets busy so I time my shopping for either first thing in the morning or around 3pm on a Sunday afternoon. I prefer Sunday afternoon so I can check out the meat markdowns and pick up any really good specials to add to the freezer stockpile.


For fruit and veg I go to Bushy Park Wholesale and Jenkins on High Street Road, Wantirna. The prices are excellent, the quality is amazing, buying Australian isn't a problem and the staff are really nice. I don’t know what else I can say about greengrocers without sounding like a complete fruit cake so I'll leave it at that.

I think everyone knows my favourite butcher is Tasman meats. I used to go all the way to Hallam to buy meat, then a store opened in Oakleigh which is just a smidge closer. When the Mt Waverley store opened I was in butcher-shop-heaven! Only 15 minutes from home, the Mt Waverley store is lovely to shop in. Again wonderful staff, slicing meat isn't a problem, prices are always excellent but the special prices are what I wait for and stock up.


Because I only shop for meat every 3 months I usually take Wayne or one of the boys with me to help push a trolley and lift it all into the car. Twelve weeks' worth of roasts, chicken, mince, sausages, steak and chops for my family of five is a lot of meat, and I usually spend around $240, or just $20 a week on average for meat for the family. While I'm there I look for markdowns to save even more.

Herbs and spices I buy Hindustan Imports. Spelt flour, legumes, gluten flour and yeast I buy from The Full Pantry in Croydon as bulk orders once a year.

And that's about it. Nothing fancy or special, regular stores anyone can go to.

So now I've shared where I shop, where do you do your shopping?

24 March 2015

Why I bought crumpets at Coles instead of Aldi


That seems to be one of the most asked questions coming off my A Current Affair story on Monday night.

Who'd a thunk it?

I bought the crumpets at Coles because, even though the Aldi crumpets are cheaper, we don't like them. And buying them just because they are cheaper and then throwing them out because no one will eat them is as good as tossing the money into the bin with the wrapping.

I usually make our crumpets, they are easy and if you type crumpets into the search over on the right there you'll find the recipe I use, but I also buy them and freeze them because sometimes the cost of the bought $2 convenience is a better use of my money, time and energy than the stress of trying to make them, cook them and freeze them.

Simple really. Sometimes the cost of convenience is less.

23 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 23 - MOO Tim Tams


Nothing can beat a real Tim Tam but honestly they are expensive, especially when we all love them and one packet doesn't last a single afternoon tea. And that of course had me searching for a MOO for what is undoubtedley Australia's favourite biscuit.

Much to the family's delight I tried around a dozen different recipes in my quest to find at least a reasonable MOO of these delightful chocolate morsels.

What I came up with is not a genuine Tim Tam, but for a homemade version, it is pretty close and very, very good. Best of all I always have the ingredients in the pantry so when the mood strikes I can make a batch, then sit back with a glass of icy cold milk and dunk away to my heart's content.

MOO Tim Tams

Biscuit:
225g SR flour
25g cocoa powder
1 tbsp malted milk drink
215g butter
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup

Filling:
125g unsalted butter, softened
1-⅔ cups icing sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

Topping:
200g block milk chocolate

Method:
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Sift together the cocoa, flour and malted milk powder. In a separate bowl cream together butter and sugar. When light and fluffy and sugar has dissolved, add the syrup. Sift in the flour, cocoa and malted milk powder. Beat until the dough comes together in a ball.

Take two layers of baking paper. Place the ball of dough between the sheets of parchment and roll into a rectangle about 6mm ¼ inch. Trim the edges.

Using a clean ruler and a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into smaller fingers - your biscuits. I make them about 5cm x 3cm.

Carefully lift the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes until cooked. Remove from the oven and let the biscuits cool on the baking sheet. Once they are cooled move them to a cake rack to cool completely.

To make the filling: 
Beat together the ingredients for the filling until very smooth.

Take half the biscuits and turn them bottom side up. Spread a thin layer of filling on each biscuit. Top with the remaining biscuits, bottom side down.

Topping:
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan. Dip the biscuit sandwiches into the chocolate until completely covered. Shake off excess chocolate. Place on a rack to cool and harden.

Sample one, then hide the others somewhere only you can find them. Or share them with your family if you're feeling generous :)

21 March 2015

Where to Buy Lectric Soda and Borax


Every time I mention Cheapskates Washing Powder I am inundated with requests asking where you can buy Lectric Soda and borax.

The answer is simple, and Australia wide: Coles. In the cleaning aisle,

Now you will have to look for them, they're not popular products so they don't hold prime spot on the shelves but they are both there.

At my local Coles supermarket in Vermont South here in Melbourne you'll find them both on the top shelf. Washing soda is at the very end of the aisle on one side and the borax is on the top shelf about half way along on the opposite side.

I asked the manager of the store if they were available at all Coles stores and the answer was "yes".

I'm also often told that it is illegal for supermarkets to sell borax, that's why it's not stocked. It is not. As far as I can tell that is a story told as an excuse for not keeping it on the shelves.

The same goes for washing soda, or Lectric Soda (which is just a brand name). You can still get Lectric Soda powder, which is what we use for the laundry powder, although the crystals are no longer made.

So there you have it. If you can't find these two washing powder ingredients anywhere else, you'll definitely find them at Coles.

18 March 2015

Let's All MOO


 Really. Let's all take back the power of our grocery money and tell the big wigs at Coles, Woolworths and yes, these days even Aldi, that we don't want them deciding what food and brands we will buy - we want to make that decision ourselves and we'll do it by Making Our Own!

I commented on ACA a couple of weeks ago that I really do not like my shopping habits being dictated by a supermarket managing director and it seems to have stirred up a hornet's nest.

I don't care; if my comment gets people thinking about how they shop, where they shop and what they buy with the money they earn then that is fan-freaking-tastic!

Supermarkets are shrinking their grocery aisles. Aisles that used to be full of baking ingredients are now down to one half of one side of an aisle. Aisles that used to be full of beautiful canned Australian produce have shrunk to less than one side of one aisle in the average suburban supermarket.

And our favourite brands and products are disappearing. Try finding Lectric Soda in the cleaning aisle or Golden Circle marmalade in the condiments aisle if you don't believe me.


Our favourite brands and products are being discontinued and replaced with generic or store brands. That's fine, I have nothing against another brand but I still want to be able to make the choice to buy that product myself, not have it forced on me by a supermarket genius who thinks he/she knows better than me what I want and what I should spend my money on.

Every month something disappears, sometimes completely, sometimes to be replaced by a store brand, a product I may or may not be familiar with. The items that stay go up in price, putting a strain on my grocery budget.

If I could compare store brand labels to branded product labels then chances are I'd be happy to make the switch. But if I can't compare, if I am being offered just the store brand or even worse nothing, then I get cranky, I cross that item off my list for that supermarket and I start looking for a way to make it myself.

I MOO it.


So far, with almost 21 years of MOOing experience, there are very few things we would normally eat, drink or use that I don't, couldn’t or won't MOO.

Washing powder- MOO it.
Soap - MOO it.
Biscuits - MOO them.
Crackers - MOO them.
Sauces - MOO them.
Bread - MOO it.
Pasta - MOO it.
Toothpaste - MOO it.
Deodorant - MOO it.
Floor cleaner - MOO it.
Cereals - MOO them.
Taco seasoning - MOO it.
Breadcrumbs - MOO them.
Pastry - MOO it.
Pizza - MOO it.
Crumpets - MOO them.
Cordial - MOO it.
Flavoured coffee - MOO it.
Dish cloths - MOO them.

There are thousands of everyday things I MOO. And you can too.

If you can't find your favourite sauce or biscuit or shampoo or washing powder at the supermarket MOO it!


I've been MOOing and teaching others just how easy, cost effective and time saving it is for years.

There is a Let's All MOO workshop coming up on the 29th March and I'll be teaching everyone not only why they should be MOOing as much as they can, but what to MOO, how to fit MOOing into a busy schedule and best of all just how much money we save when we Make Our Own.

And I hope that at the end of the workshop there will be a lot less being bought at the supermarket and a lot more happy, smiling, MOOers who aren't afraid to tell the supermarkets that they know what is best for them and their families and that they will control their buying habits and money thank you very much.



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17 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 17 MOO Sweet Chilli Sauce


I'm not a fan of chilli, but I love a good sweet chilli sauce. I love it on fish cakes, on wedges or chips and combined with cream cheese for a dip. Yum!

This is a very simple sweet chilli sauce, great for home and perfect for gift giving.

A Very Simple Sweet Chilli Sauce

Ingredients:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Jalapeno chillies*
2 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Method:
Put on a pair of disposable rubber gloves. Trust me on this. Chilli burns, so rubber gloves are essential. And rub your eyes and scratch your nose before you start handling the chilli. Again, trust me on this. Chilli burns - you do not want it anywhere near your eyes or nose.

Prepare the chillies by de-seeding and chopping roughly. The heat of the chilli is in the seed so you can decide just how hot you want your sauce. No seeds will give a milder sauce, all the seeds will give a very hot sauce, something in the middle will give you a medium - hot sauce. And the heat will depend on the type of chilli you are using.

Roughly chop the garlic.

Put the sugar, water, rice wine vinegar, garlic and chilli in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat. Simmer rapidly for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. Stir in the cornflour/water mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.

Use a stick blender to puree. Or pour sauce into a food processor and process until pureed. Make sure the vent/chute on the processor is open so the hot sauce doesn't explode.

Pour into a hot, sterilised bottle and seal.

*The heat in your sauce will depend on the type of chilli you are using and the amount of seeds you leave in the sauce. Use your favourite chilli or a combination of chillies to get the flavour and heat you love.

16 March 2015

31 Days of MOO NO. 16 MOO Cake Mixes


Boxed (or packet) cake mixes are convenient - to a point.  You still need to add the wet ingredients, usually egg, water or milk, butter or oil, so what you're paying up to $9 for is basically flour, sugar, a rising agent, flavouring of some kind and then a whole lot of things you can't pronounce and really shouldn't be eating.

That cake mix convenience ends up costing you up to $11!

If you make a cake from scratch you'll use flour, sugar, butter or oil, milk or water, an egg or two, flavouring of some kind and if you didn't use self-raising flour, a rising agent (baking powder or bicarb soda, depending on the recipe). And your cake will cost you under $2!

Now cake mixes are supposed to be convenient time savers because you just dump the contents into the mixer, add the wet stuff and beat for 3 minutes.

If your recipe is a one-bowl mix, like the I've shared below, you do the same thing - dump all the ingredients into the mixer and beat for 3 minutes.

It may take you a minute to measure out the flour, sugar and flavourings so a from scratch cake will take you 1 or 2 minutes longer to get to the baking stage. At a saving of up to $9 a minute or two is nothing.

And they will both take about the same time to cook too, so no saving there.

If you really love cake mixes, and I confess I do, you can quite easily make your own.

When I'm baking a cake I get out a half a dozen ziplock bags and measure out the dry ingredients for 7 cakes, the one I'm baking and 6 to put in the cupboard. The bags are labelled with the type of cake the ingredients will make - chocolate, coffee, butter, sultana, cherry or whatever, a list of wet ingredients and the instructions. I do this a lot so I have marked the bags with a Sharpie. Once the mix has been used the bag is washed and dried and put away ready to use again - and the instructions are already written on it.


This is a quick chocolate cake I make into MOO Cake Mixes.

Quick Chocolate Cake

Dry Ingredients:
3 cups SR flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups cold water
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp white vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil

You can double, triple, quadruple the quantities (I measure out 7 lots at a time). Put the dry ingredients into ziplock bags and seal. Label the bag and add a list of the wet ingredients and the instructions.

To make a cake add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.

One quantity will make 2 dozen cupcakes or two 20cm square cakes. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 25 - 30 minutes for 20cm cake (or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean). Bake for 12 - 15 minutes for  cupcakes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.



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14 March 2015

Catching Up


The last two weeks have been traumatic for me, and that is not an exaggeration. I've had very little sleep, spent hours and hours sitting hunched over my keyboard, ignored housework, fed the family freezer meals, even resorted to takeaway (something we haven't had for over 5 months) for tea TWICE!

Most of you will be aware that my website, Cheapskates, disappeared on 26th February. It took 60 hours of constant Skyping, emailing and messaging with techs here in Australia, in Baltimore and in Vancouver to find out what happened and get it back up. Then the server that runs the Cheapskates Club websites decided to have a hissy fit (I wanted to have one too!) and slow down, then stop. Once it was restarted it decided to start throwing out little errors that once again brought the website down.

During this time my blog was getting hit with some unacceptable (and quite hurtful) comments and so I made the decision to turn it off, and it has been off for 12 days. I wasn't sure I'd bring it back, and if I did, whether or not it would be public.

I had no idea just how many people would miss it. Of course I see the stats for visitors each day, and I know it is  looked at by lots of people every day. But I didn't really understand how many of you would miss it if it wasn't there. This blog is really just me putting some thoughts and habits into words, sharing the weird and wacky things I do to maintain our frugal lifestyle so we can live the life we want to without the stress and confines of debt.

Over the 12 days the blog has been down I've been emailed, messaged via the member forum and the Cheapskates Club facebook page and even had phone messages asking where it had gone and when would it be back. Lots of them!

So it's back.

This is my blog, my kind of personal record of what I do in my day-to-day Cheapskates lifestyle. Sometimes I am a regular blogger, updating with titbits every couple of days. Sometimes it might be a few days or even weeks between posts. When I blog depends on time.

My time goes firstly to my family. Family always comes first. Then it goes to the Cheapskates Club members. Then if I have time it  goes to the blog.

So every day I'll post the latest Tip of the Day from the Cheapskates Club, and when I have the time to sit and write a post and take photos for you I'll blog.

Thank you for your encouragement, you have no idea how I have appreciated it.

I am humbled that you've missed my ramblings and I will do my best to blog more as requested :)

07 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 7 - MOO Bulk Taco Seasoning


Our taco seasoning recipe is very popular, one of the most popular recipes of all time in the Cheapskates Recipe File.

The only downside to that recipe is that it only makes the equivalent of three packets of taco seasoning and if you use it as often as I do you may feel, like I did, that you are always mixing up a jar.

So here is a bulk recipe.

Bulk MOO Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients:
1/2 cup chilli powder (add more to taste if you like your tacos hot)
1 cup dried onion flakes
1/2 cup oregano
¾ cup ground cumin
¾ cup garlic powder
3 tbsp paprika

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a screw top jar. Shake well to combine. Use 3 tablespoons per 500g of mince or beans for tacos.




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06 March 2015

Yes, You Can MOO Pastrami!


If I am going to eat a deli meat, it has to be something better than chicken loaf, flavourless ham or greasy stras. I love pastrami and happily bought 100 grams every few weeks for years, until my local deli stopped stocking it - seems it's not as popular as I'd thought.

I went without for a while and then one of our wonderful members, KarenE, posted how her husband MOOed pastrami. I was in deli meat heaven! I've been MOOing pastrami ever since and it is so much better than anything I ever bought.

Over the years I've adjusted Karen's instructions a little and changed the way I cook the meat. Making pastrami takes time - a week in fact, but it's not hands-on time. All you you'll have less than half an hour of hands-on time, but the effort will be worth it.

MOO Pastrami

Ingredients:
1.5 - 2kg piece of corned beef - trimmed into two or three logs roughly the same size - don't trim the fat!

Brine:
2 litres (8 cups) of water
200g coarse sea salt
100g sugar or honey
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp or so of pickling spices

Smoking:
1 small jar whole grain mustard
1 small packet coriander seeds
1 small packet black peppercorns
To smoke your meat, you’ll need a kettle-style barbecue or a kettle smoker or something of the like, plus wood chips.

Step 1. Brining. I use corned beef, which is already brined, but I do it again. It intensifies the flavours and makes the meat much more tender.  Put all of the brine ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it cool completely. Place your meat in a large bowl with a leak-proof seal or double zip-lock bags.  Pour the brine into the bow or bag, press out the air and seal. Store in fridge for 5 days, turning daily.

Step 2. After five days, drain take the meat out of the brine and pat dry. Crush the coriander and mustard seeds (I put them through the coffee grinder, you could use a mortar and pestle or a small food processor) roughly. Spread the mustard over the meat, covering all of it.  Take a sheet of greaseproof paper and spread the crushed spices over it. Roll the meat in the crushed spices, covering as much of it as you can. Press the crushed spices into the meat with your hands if necessary - just make sure they stick.

Step 3. Heat your smoker according to the instructions. Smoke your pastrami for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 70 degrees Celsius. The important thing here is to keep the heat low and slowly bring it up to temperature, for a more tender pastrami.

Step 4.  Just before the pastrami is ready to come out of the smoker, pre-heat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Prepare a baking dish with a roasting rack by pouring in enough water to come up about 3cm.  When the pastrami has finished smoking, remove it from the smoker and place it on the rack in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil, you want the meat to steam.  Bake at 120 degrees for 3 hours. You might need to top the water up, I check every hour or so and top up if necessary.

Slice your pastrami thinly and enjoy hot or cold.

Is it cheaper to MOO pastrami? Oh, yes. I buy corned beef for $5.49/kg. The spices cost approximately $1.52, the mustard is $1.99 - total cost for 2 kilos of MOO pastrami is $14.49. That's $5.51 less than the price of deli pastrami per kilo when I stopped buying it (it was $19.99/kg).

It's not a quick MOO, but it is a worthwhile MOO, especially if you love good pastrami. If you want to speed the process up, you can skip the brining. Corned beef has already been brined but it is worth the extra step for the flavour and tenderness.

This meat will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days. I slice it, vacuum seal it (you can double wrap in clingfilm) and freeze in 100g packets. It keeps in the freezer for up to six months.




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05 March 2015

31 Days of MOO No. 5 - MOO Instant Rice


How to MOO Instant Rice

For a long time the idea of instant rice just made me laugh, sometimes out loud!

Seriously, rice is so simple to cook and doesn't take very long. Even brown rice is done in under an hour, so what was the big deal about instant rice?

I started doing some research (as I do) and realised that while the packets of flavoured instant rice were just expensive, chemical laden food and budget traps, plain instant rice is very handy.

It takes just 8 - 10 minutes to rehydrate into hot, fluffy rice, making it ideal for camping. I use a gas stove that runs on cartridges when we're camping and having to wait 45 minutes to cook rice (we like brown rice) uses a full cartridge. That not only means we need to carry extra cartridges, it's expensive - those little cartridges run to 80 cents up to $1 each.

The rice will also rehydrate in 30 minutes if left to absorb boiling water, leaving you to do other things.

I use 8 cups of raw rice per batch. This gives me enough instant rice to last us around 3 months (we eat rice two to three times a week).

MOO Instant Rice

Ingredients:
8 cups rice (whatever your favourite is - brown, white, arborio, jasmine)
20 cups water

Method:
Bring the water to a boil.
Add the rice and stir continuously until the water returns to the boil.
Boil until rice is cooked.
Drain.
Let the rice cool.
Prepare your dehydrator. I use the Aldi dehydrator and it has been wonderful. For a budget unit it does a brilliant job, proving you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a reliable appliance.
Set temperature to 60 degrees Celsius and dehydrate for 24 hours or until completely dry. You don't want any moisture in this or it will spoil in storage. I swap the trays around every 3 hours and stir them each time they are swapped to ensure all the rice is dried.
Once dried let the rice cool. It will be stuck together. Gently break it up with your fingers. Measure out the quantity you need (I use two cups for my family). Store in ziplock bags or airtight containers. Will keep for up to 12 months.

To use:  Measure equal quantities of rice and boiling water. Simmer rice 8 - 10 minutes until tender.

I pay no more than $1 a kilo for rice. The cheapest instant rice I could find (as of writing this) was $6.40 a kilo, a $5.40 a kilo saving, and they all need to be microwaved, rendering them useless in a blackout or for camping.

Do I use instant rice all the time? No. Cooking rice is pretty simple. I do however use it when my day goes pear shaped and I need to get tea on the table in a hurry and all the time for camping. I've been using MOO instant rice for almost two years now and I love it.


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04 March 2015

MOO Coffee and Milk


Everyone knows I just love my coffee and since I am down to one cup a day I make sure it is good and that I enjoy it. At home I have my machine and love it, but when we go camping it's another story.

I used to love buying the Nestle Coffee & Milk for camping. Just squeeze the tube into a mug of boiling water and I had a very tasty, albeit very, very sweet, cup of coffee. As a treat it was lovely (and quick on those freezing High Country mornings).

Now I make this coffee creamer, put it into a jar with a tight screw top lid and enjoy my coffee around the camp fire. It's even better than the Nestle product because I use my favourite instant coffee, giving me the strong, rich flavour I adore.

I use MOO condensed milk and a quarter cup of instant coffee. You might like to experiment with the coffee until you get the strength you prefer.

MOO Coffee and Milk

Ingredients:
2 cups milk
2 cans sweetened condensed milk (or 1 quantity of MOO condensed milk)
1/4 cup instant coffee

Method:
Over medium low heat warm the milk.  Add the coffee and stir to dissolve. Add the condensed milk and stir to combine.  Allow to heat to just before simmering, whisking all the time. Cool slightly pour into a clean, sterilised bottle. Keep in fridge. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.




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02 March 2015

MOO Disinfectant Bathroom Wipes


The rubbing alcohol in this mixture is a potent disinfectant, more potent than vinegar, making it ideal for bathrooms and toilets.

MOO Disinfectant Bathroom Wipes

You will need:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol
2 tbsp full strength dishwashing liquid
An old lunchbox with a lid or similar container
24 rags cut into 15cm squares*.

Mix the ingredients and pour over the rags.* Then, when you need to clean your bathroom, use them as you would the disposable disinfectant wipes.

*I use old face washers for these wipes, but you could use flannel, towels, t-shirts etc. whatever you have on hand. I use pinking shears to cut them so they don't fray. If you like you can zigzag or overlock the edges. When you've used a wipe just toss it in the washing machine to be washed then put back into the container - no need to dry, just wash and return.

Alternatively, if the idea of wipes doesn't appeal, put the mixture into a spray bottle and use it as you would any spray cleaner, wiping over with a damp rag.



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01 March 2015

MOO Baby Safe Fabric Books


You can make your own little material books, safe for the little ones and they can be thrown in the wash. You will need the special transfer paper that can be purchased from Officeworks or similar stationery supply stores (Canon and Epson both have an A4 10 pack, you might also find it in $2 shops) and a photocopier, a local library will probably have a cheap photocopy service or a printer with a copy/print function, but if you want to go all out, places like Officeworks can copy onto the transfer paper for a price.

MOO Baby Safe Fabric Books

You will need:
Fabric cut into 15cm x 30cm pieces - as many as you need for the pages of your book
Scissors
Sewing machine
Transfer paper
Images to copy onto transfer paper

Step 1. Cut the fabric into 15cm x 30cm rectangles. These form the pages of your book;  Each page will measure 15cm x 15cm when finished. Overlock or use pinking shears to tidy the edges.

Step 2. Copy the images for your book onto the transfer paper. Follow the instructions for the paper to iron the transfers onto the pages of your book, making sure you get them in the right order (if there is one for your story) starting with the cover page.

Step 3. Lay all the pages together in the right order. Stitch through the centre of the pages on the short side to hold them in place.

And that's it - a simple, soft, MOO baby book that you can wash when it gets grubby. So simple and quick, they make lovely baby gifts if you personalise them with photos of family, friends, pets, favourite toys, places etc.

Use a sturdy fabric like cotton drill or calico so it will withstand the tugging and drool and of course the washing.


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