25 February 2020

Back to Basics Make It: How to Make Pancakes

There’s nothing quite like fluffy pancakes from scratch for brunch on a weekend morning or for an afternoon tea treat.  We even have them for lunch when there is no bread. Here’s a recipe to help you whip up some great comfort food for breakfast. These don’t include a lot of sugar because the addition of syrup as a topping adds plenty of sweetness.


2 cups SR flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 ¾ cups milk
¼ cup vegetable oil

This recipe makes approximately 14 pancakes.

Step 1: Preheat Pan or Griddle

Preheat your pan or griddle to medium high heat. If it is not non-stick, add a little butter to keep pancakes from sticking.

Step 2: Mix Dry Ingredients

Add the flour and sugar to a large bowl. Whisk until well combined and lumps are removed. 

Step 3: Mix Wet Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk the  eggs, milk and vegetable oil until fully combined.

Step 4: Combine Wet and Dry Ingredients

Add the wet ingredients to the dry.

Whisk until combined, but don’t worry about removing all the lumps as this will cause you to over mix the batter.

Step: 5 Time to Cook

Using a ladle, spoon about ¼ cup of batter per pancake on your pan or griddle.

Your pancakes are ready to flip when they become firm on top and lots of bubbles appear.

Once you’ve flipped your pancakes, they will only take a minute or two to be done. Make sure you don’t over brown them.

Serve the pancakes warm and top with MOO pancake syrup, butter, stewed fruit or whatever suits your fancy.

These pancakes freeze well and are a nice addition to lunchboxes. Butter them and spread with jam or lemon butter and sandwich two together, wrap in clingwrap and freeze. Then just pop one or two into lunchboxes, straight from the freezer. By lunchtime they will be thawed and just right for eating.

Back to Basics: Make It, Bake It, Grow It, Sew It

Welcome to the first in a series of back to basics posts I've called Make It, Bake It, Grow It, Sew It that I'm writing to help everyone get back to basics.

From my You Tube shows, and questions that come from Cheapskates newsletters, I've realised that there are a lot of folk who struggle with cooking, baking, meal planning, writing a shopping list, building a stockpile and preserving, not because they don't want to, but because they're uncertain of where to begin, and what steps they need to take to get started.

I was blessed with a mother and aunties who were amazing cooks, and who taught me how to cook, bake, preserve, and then clean up the mess; how to knit, crochet and sew; what to grow to keep us fed and how to grow those foods on a budget. Not everyone has been so blessed and so I'd like to share what I've learned over the years about using basics to create a happy, healthy home.

I think the best thing any young person can do, for themselves and their family, is learn to cook basic meals from scratch so they can ditch the expensive "convenience" style meals and ingredients. From those basic meals they can meal plan and write a shopping list of ingredients. Next step would be to take that list of basic ingredients and see how many different dishes they can make with them. If they can do that they'll never go hungry, won't get bored eating the same meals over and over and won't be spending a fortune at the supermarket.
Learning to grow at least some of the food you eat not only saves you money and time, but it gives you options. You're not limited to what's available in the shops. We are seeing more and more ordinary fruit and vegetables disappearing from supermarkets, only to be replaced with more expensive exotic produce, or not be replaced at all. Having just a few veggies and some fruit in our gardens or on our balconies means we can always have fresh produce for just a few cents a week.
When you know how to sew on a button or take up a hem, you can do most running repairs on your clothing. Take it a step further and you can make pot holders, tea towels, pillow slips, tablecloths, turn old towels into bath mats or cleaning mits. Then take it even further and you can make your children's clothes, and your clothes; you can alter clothes you have or find for a few cents to fit and look like a new garment.
So every Tuesday I'm going to post a Back to Basics post, with simple, step-by-step instructions on the basics. Yes, how to boil an egg or cook a roast chicken; how to make a fruit cake and bread; how to do a pantry inventory; how to meal plan; how to stock a pantry on a budget; how to write a shopping list; how to make a pot holder, take up a hem and sew on a button; how to start plants from seed, what to grow for a basic summer and winter garden, how to preserve excess produce  and more.
Because when you know the basics, it's easy. You can take what you have and make a meal; you know what to keep in the pantry so you can always eat; you can write a shopping list that will not only fill your pantry, but feed your family and stay withing your grocery budget.

You can turn an old sheet into curtains or tea towels or pillowslips or even a new dress. You can take a ball of wool and knit or crochet a blanket. A skein of cotton becomes a dishcloth or a pretty doyley for your home.

You can fill your garden with no or very low cost plants to feed your family and brighten your home.

And if you have any questions, let me know, or if there's anything in particular you'd like to know more about, let me know! Just put your question in the comments below so I can find it.

23 February 2020

Happiness Homemade 23rd February 2020

What made me happy last week:

Carol gave me a big box of Fowlers Vacola jars, rings, lids and clips. What a generous gift, and just in time for preserving season.

I picked the first of the red tomatoes from the garden. They are huge - one I weighed was 438 grams, another was 405grams and another was 277grams. They tasted so good. I kept them for our salads, and one was enough for the five of us to have tomato with our dinner.
I picked some capsicums and eggplant from the garden.
I picked basil, chopped it and froze it in ice cubes. There wasn't enough to dry.

Joy was able to get 10 kilos of brown onions for $3.99 so I've chopped, sliced and dried most of them.

She also picked up 15 kilos of potatoes for $3. Wow! That was enough for me to practice pressure canning potatoes. We use tinned potatoes when we go camping, so if I can can them when they're cheap, it will be a big saving for us.

In my downtime, some cards were made. Photos need to be taken, and then uploaded.

I've been down with a migraine since Monday. It is apparently caused by the infection I had a couple of weeks ago, I wish it would just go away! It has eased, although for four days I lived in darkness and tried really hard not to move my head. The cough is lingering, even with antibiotics and lots of Manuka honey, so talking is almost impossible (some may say that's a good thing). That meant no You Tube shows last week, it would've been a horrible experience all round between coughing, wheezing while trying to talk, taking gulps of water to ease the cough - so the shows were cancelled. Hopefully by Tuesday I should at least be able to have a short conversation.

All our meals have been made from scratch, using pantry, fridge and freezer ingredients.

I made a meat pie for our dinner, using the large Kmart pie maker. It was on clearance for $15, and can be used to make cakes and quiche too, so home it came. I wasn't sure - the logic was to try it and see how it went, if it was a dud then it was only $15 I was donating to the op shop.

Well it is amazing. So far we've made meat pies, quiche, and a delicious chocolate cake.
I kept reading online how small it was, and honestly to look at it you don't think it is a family sized pie, but it is. It fed the five of us, with a wedge leftover, and the serves were plenty big enough. Along with the individual pie maker, this may become a well used kitchen appliance.

Petrol is coming down - after jumping 50 cents a litre in one day, it will be nice to see it down again. I have a 4c off voucher, and another 10c off on my Flybuys, and then if I buy the milk instore I'll get another 4c off, bringing it to 18 cents a litre off.

A Card a Day - Day 40

9th February 2020

I loved making this baby card. It was very simple - a die cut, a strip of DSP and some bling. I used a Kaisercraft stamp for the sentiment and stamped pram on the inside of the card.

A Card A Day - Day 39

8th February 2020

A Card a Day - Day 37

6th February 2020

16 February 2020

Happiness Homemade 16th February 2020

This week has been busy, with lots going on, and lots getting done. But when I look around, I can't really see all the work and effort. It's hidden in tidied cupboards, washed curtains, cleaned ceiling and exahust fans, scrubbed grouting - all jobs that are hard work, but don't give a "wow you've been busy" impact at first glance.

Oh, I cleaned the oven too - not that it's working, and it's about to be pulled out, but I want to keep the racks because they should fit the new ovens, and that will give me more shelf space.

Yesterday was card day. We had a lovely day at Wendy's, with a surprise birthday lunch for Pamela and an extra special surprise visit from Carol. Our gang was almost complete. Card day is my day. It's the one day of the month that is for me, me, me, and it would take something very big and important to have me cancel.

If that sounds selfish, it isn't. The rest of the month I devote to my family and friends. I care for our home and garden; I look after Cheapskates Club; time is spent volunteering for others. As a wife and mother, and a homemaker, I need time to myself, doing something that I enjoy. It's time out (that's the modern name for it) and I don't feel guilty for taking it.

When AJ was born, Mum gave me some advice, that my Great-Grandma Curtin, who raised seven children during the Great Depression and WWII, had given her: once tea was over and the dishes were done and the baby was in bed, my work for the day was over. Just because I'm a mother and homemaker doesn't mean I work non-stop 24/7.

So, even after all these years and adding two more children to our family, after dinner, when the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean, I stop.

I don't fold laundry. I don't do the ironing. I don't clean or tidy or dust or vacuum. I don't do website work.

Most evenings, by around 7.30pm, my work day is over. I make a cuppa and the time is spent reading or knitting or making cards or sewing or working a tapestry. During the summer I like to potter in the garden, watering and weeding and planning the next planting. Or Wayne and I will go for a walk and talk and catch-up from our day. In winter I'm often in bed (it's warm and cosy, and there's no point in heating a big room just to sit and read).

If you're a wife, mother, homemaker and work outside your home, you not only can, but need to stop your day and rest. You may need to get organised (I did, but the habits have stuck), and you may go non-stop for an hour or so before dinner, but you need time out to rest, recuperate and rejuvenate before you tackle the next day.

Don't feel guilty for being tired. And seriously, those super-women who seem to be able to do it all - well chances are there are quite a few things they're either not doing, or not doing very well or getting outside help - the illusion of having it all is just that - an illusion.

Remember: if you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of your family.

14 February 2020

Happiness Homemade 14th February 2020

One of my favourite things is pottering around at home, tidying, cleaning, cooking, changing doyleys, washing windows, setting a vase of flowers in a corner or on a table. They all make me smile. They're all chores, jobs to be done, and some of them are hard work. So why do they make me smile?

It's simple: they make my family happy.

Sometimes when we're homemakers, it may seem like our hard work and loving efforts aren't appreciated. You may never get a thank you for the clean bathroom or the swept porch. The fresh towels in the bathroom won't get you a thank you. The nicely set table and the full cake tin may be ignored.

But look at your family, see the happiness in their eyes, the contentment on their face when they eat the meal you prepared, or take the ironed shirt from the wardrobe.

See how they enjoy being at home.

Of course it's nice to get a thank you, and you should get them. Every night after dinner all my family thank me for their meal. I know they appreciated it, they ate it. But it is nice to hear it.

But sometimes a thank you isn't delivered in words. It may be in a kiss to the cheek, or a hug. It could be help brining in the shopping, or pulling weeds or changing a lightbulb.

When you're feeling discouraged, and tired, and wonder if it's worth your efforts, take a look at those happy faces and realised they're happy because of you.

This week Wayne and Tom helped me wash the outside windows. They were filthy after the dust storms and smoke we've had the last month, and desperately needed cleaning. Here's how I wash the windows with just an ice-cream container of water, and they sparkle.

All our meals have been cooked from scratch, using ingredients from the pantry, fridge and freezer, or from the garden.

The meal plan was a guide and I swapped around and changed up to suit what we wanted to eat each night. That's a huge benefit of having a pantry of ingredients - switching things around is simple and doesn't cost a cent.

Over the weekend we worked outside, tidying up the garden, cleaning the cars, sweeping down cobwebs. Getting ready for Autumn and the change of seasons. I trimmed bushes and dead-headed the hydrangeas and geraniums and lavender.

I took some lavender stalks to strike. All the lavender in my garden has come from strikes from my mother-in-law's lavender garden. They were slow to start, but this year they've all taken off and during spring and early summer it was gorgeous. The plan is to put these new plants under the front windows.

I made zucchini pickle.

I made mixed berry jam.

I finally caught up with the card a day challenge, and managed to get more done for CWA. There should be enough to send off by the end of the month. Then I'll start on the nursing home box again.

I taught myself to crochet a doyley. The first one was a little wonky, and I just used a scrap of yarn I had left. The next one was better and the third one is good enough to use. Now I have something else I can make for the present box, and for our home.

My happiness was homemade again this week.

07 February 2020

Happiness Homemade 7th February 2020

This week has been wonderful.

We had a little more rain which was very good for the garden, and then the days have been mild and sunny, such a relief after the heat in the 40s.

The medication kicked in, and combined with my home remedies and oils, my headache and cough eased and I could breath again. By Monday I was feeling almost 100%, certainly better than I had been for a few weeks, so I've been able to get things done.

This week I counted the tomatoes on the bushes - 306! That's a lot of tomatoes. Plenty to make sauce and dry, and to share with friends. Hopefully they'll ripen slowly over a few days so I will be able to pace the preserving - otherwise it will be a marathon! The eggplant are growing well and the orange tree has lots of little oranges on it.
Pellegrino's had strawberries cheap so some just found their way into the kitchen and they were used to make lovely strawberry jam. I added the strawberries from the freezer; they came from our strawberry patch. Altoghether they made 4 x 500g jars and 2 x 120g jars, so we're set for strawberry jam for the year. Of course it had to be sampled, so as soon as it was cool, the troops opened a jar and gave it a thumbs up.
I've almost caught up on the card a day challenge. None were made while I was sick, I just couldn't be bothered.
Instead I've been knitting dishcloths and crocheting scrubbies. Nine dishcloths and two scrubbies have been added to the present box and Hannah's glory box. The yarn was expensive $25, so they've cost about $2.30 each to make, not including the hour it takes to whip them up.
All our meals have been cooked from scratch using ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer.

I dried bread for breadcrumbs using crusts and stale bread saved in the freezer. Now the breadcrumb canister is full. This means the breadcrumbs were free - a saving of $2+ on buying them.
Petrol dropped down to $128.9/litre so I filled up my car, and Wayne filled up Hannah's car. Then it jumped up to $179.9/litre! 50 cents in a matter of minutes.

With being ill, and the Coronavirus in the news, our medical pantry has had a stocktake and I have a list of a few things to add to it, to rebuild it.

I found a crochet pattern for a very simply doyley. I've never made a doyley, so this is my task for the weekend: to crochet a doyley. I have the cotton and the hooks and the pattern was free. If it doesn't work, I can always undo it and use the cotton for another project.

This week has been a home week, and its' been good, with lots accomplished.

I hope you've had a happy week. How did you find happiness homemade this week?

06 February 2020

A Card A Day - Day 34

3rd February 2020

A Card A Day - Day 33

2nd February 2020 -

A Card A Day - Day 32

1st February: A month of cards done already!

A Card A Day - Day 31

Card A Day - Day 30

A Card A Day - Day 29

05 February 2020

A Card a Day - Day 36

5th February 2020

04 February 2020

A Card a Day - Day 35

4th February 2020