31 May 2018


There is an easy, cheap and energy efficient way to keep your washing machine clean and in tip top shape, and it works. It's the method I've been using for 26 years.

First thing you need to do is find out if your washing machine actually has a lint filter. My HE machine didn't, my new machine does, so check your handbook to find out if your machine has a lint filter.

If your washing machine is a top loader it should have a lint filter in the agitator.  Pull out the top of the agitator and it should have some kind of little bag or basket attached to it.

Gently take it off and give it a good clean. You may need to empty the lint out of it first. Then rinse it under hot water. If you use fabric softener then you will also need to soak it for a few minutes in white vinegar. Fabric softeners leave a film over the mesh that actually stops the water from getting through. You need to get rid of this build up.

Front loaders have different lint filters - check your handbook to find out where it is and how to get to it.

If you empty and rinse the lint filter after every wash you'll stop those black flakes of gunk that sometimes appear on your washing - that's the old muck out of the lint filter flowing back up into the bowl. Yuk!

While the lint filter is soaking, get a cloth and a bucket of warm water and add a splash of vinegar (about 1 cup). Use this to wipe around the top of the bowl, under the lid, over the outside of the cabinet etc. Don't forget the inside of the agitator and the fabric softener dispenser. If it's particularly grungy, sprinkle with bi-carb and use this as a scouring powder. Just watch your fingers - the edges of all those ridges and rims can be sharp (guess how I know!).

Put the lint filter back together and replace the top of the agitator. Then run your washing machine through a full cycle on the longest and hottest wash cycle (this is the only time I use a hot wash) and add a full 2 litre bottle of vinegar to it. Don't add any clothes or other detergents; let the vinegar work its magic. The vinegar will remove the scum and gunk and any hard-water build up in the bowl and hoses.

Wipe over the outside of the machine with a damp cloth and dry.

You washing machine will sparkle inside and out. Do this on a regular basis and you'll extend the life of your machine and save on costly maintenance calls.

My handbook suggests every 100 washes, for me that's about every two months because of the amount of washing I do. For my mother it's every six months or so as she only does two loads a week. If your family is larger you may need to do this more often. It may seem like a tedious chore but it is worth taking care of this most useful household appliance.

Think about what you'd do if you couldn't use your washing machine for a week - hand-washing, paying for the laundromat -and you'll see the benefit quickly.

25 May 2018

Cath's Meal Plan Week 22, 2018

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Lamb

Monday: Sausage Wellingtons, vegetables

Tuesday: Lasagne, salad, garlic bread

Wednesday: Shepherd's Pie

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Lamb curry, steamed rice, papadums

Saturday: Chicken enchiladas

18 May 2018

Cath's Meal Plan Week 21, 2018

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Tuna Surprise

Tuesday: Spaghetti Bolognese, salad

Wednesday: Sweet & Sour chicken, fried rice

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Cream cheese rissoles, salad

Saturday: Muffin Surprise

11 May 2018

Meal Plan Week 20, 2018

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Beef

Monday: Fish, potato gems, coleslaw

Tuesday: *Fettuccine with Chicken and Bacon

Wednesday: Rissoles, mashed potato, peas, corn, carrot, gravy

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Tomato & vegetable soup

Saturday: Sub sandwiches

04 May 2018

Cath's Meal Plan Week 19, 2018

This week we will be eating:

Sunday: Roast Chicken

Monday: Vegetarian Moussaka, tossed salad

Tuesday: Saturday Night Sour Cream Pasta Bake

Wednesday: Haystacks

Thursday: MOO Pizza

Friday: Honey mustard chicken

Saturday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Grilled Cheese

01 May 2018

Baked Rice Custard

 Don't you just love this old enamel dish? Aunty Elaine gave it to me before we were married, and I love it (and her!) to bits. It gets used all year round in my kitchen.

Who's old enough to remember the Women's Weekly Cookery Club? The one where you sent away and they sent you a box, with dividers, then each month a new set of recipe cards would arrive in the mail? I think it was the precursor to the Women's Weekly cookbooks, and as soon as I started working I subscribed and collected those recipe cards in the neat off-white box.

I still have them and I still use them, quite often. They're over 30 years old now, and quite tattered. But those favourite recipes are much loved and guarded. One of them is the Baked Rice Custard. It was something my mother made weekly during winter as we were growing up, and we'd have it with ice-cream or a drizzle of cream when it was hot, then the next night it would be with hot custard over the top.

My brother and I would beg to be allowed to have the "skin" off the top. Mum sprinkled it with nutmeg and sugar and it was so good - worth fighting with a brother over!

Then, when we were first married I would make creamed rice or baked rice custard every week, it was one of Wayne's desserts. These days they are a treat, we don't eat dessert very often. But back then he had dessert every night, without fail. Both puddings are a great way to use up milk that is about to go off or excess milk if you have it.

Here's my easy recipe for baked rice custard - it's good hot or cold!

Baked Rice Custard

1/4 cup rice
2 cups boiling water
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sultanas

Cook the rice in the boiling water, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla, add rice and sultanas and stir to combine. Add milk and stir again. making sure rice and sultanas are evenly distributed. Pour into a shallow oven-proof dish. Stand in a baking dish and fill with water to about halfway up the side of the pudding dish. Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat to moderately slow and continue to cook for a further 30 - 40 minutes or until custard has set.

Depending on appetites and generosity when serving, this will give you 6 - 8 serves. It keeps for up to three days covered in the fridge too. I use a 1 litre enamel pie dish to make this pudding, just make sure to butter it well so the rice and custard don't stick to the bottom and sides.


The dishwasher is running through a cleaning cycle as I post this. A routine clean, on the first of the month (because that's easy for me to remember) keeps this essential household appliance in excellent running order.

Do you give your dishwasher some TLC regularly?

How to clean your dishwasher:

Step 1.  Place a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of your empty dishwasher. The vinegar will help to wash away the loose, greasy grime, sanitizes, and helps remove the musty odour.

Step 2. Sprinkle a cup of bicarbonate soda around the bottom of the dishwasher. The bicarbonate soda will help freshen the smell of the dishwasher as well as brighten up the look of the inside of your appliance by removing stains.

Step 3.  Using the hottest water available, run the dishwasher through a cycle – except for the cup of vinegar, the dishwasher needs to be empty.

Now that the dishwasher is clean and running right here are a few tips to keep it that way until the next cleaning.

Run a bit of hot water in your sink before running the dishwasher. You will get cleaner dishes if the water starts hot. You can collect the water you run and use it to fill the kettle or for watering plants or other purposes. Run the water until what comes out of the tap feels hot.

Make sure your water starts hot enough. Set the thermostat on your hot water service to 50 degrees Celsius. Water that is cooler than this won’t be hot enough to clean properly and water that is any hotter could scald.

A routine dishwasher cleaning is a good habit to get into. Mark it on the calendar to do regularly each month, the same day you do the drains and the washing machine.