Less food for more food

My trip down the “slow and sustainable living” pathway is going really slowly, which, in itself,  is probably good because I am learning to do things at a slower pace, however, I am getting impatient with regards to the food side of things. I want to be able to produce as much of my own food as possible. My plans for my veggie garden are in place and should be up and running by winter time as most veggies in our region are grown in winter.  I also have plans to build a chicken coop and plant some fruit trees.

My” little” job with a matching ” little”  salary has forced me to pace myself and do things slowly as I can only do what I can afford to with minimal savings.  In an effort to speed things up and get cracking (see me trying to up the pace again – this slow thing is really hard :)) I need to allocate more funds towards my food production. A large portion of my salary buys food and normally one just jots that down as essential and moves on to look for other areas where one can save.  As the rest of my budget is really tight I decided to see where I can make savings on buying food. I need to spend less on food in order to grow my own food.

Once I put my food glasses on and started to look at our buying, eating and cooking habits, as well as doing a little research I discovered some interesting facts.

Worldwide, from the farm to the table, we throw away about 50% of our food.  If we don’t grow our own food, not all of this waste is under our control, as much is thrown away at farm, market and store level. At those levels I will only be able to make the savings once I produce my own. However, we do waste quite a bit of food at home.

People who practice  “sustainable living” often talk about how their waste goes onto the compost heap and back into the food they grow and so doing make savings that way.  This does not help me right now though because I am not growing my food yet (although I do need to get a compost heap going). So how can I make savings now – before I produce my own food.

When one thinks about recycling which I discussed in this post, we sometimes only concentrate on glass, cardboard, and metal items but the same principles of reduce, reuse and recycle also apply to food.

  1. Reduce – buy only essential food items,  shop around for lower prices, eat out less often, limit junk foods and unhealthy snacks. Buy fruit and vegetables from local farmers.
  2. Reuse – save leftovers, freeze portions that can be eaten as another meal and use the parts of fruit and vegetables that you normally throw away (ie: celery leaves for soups and stews, pineapple skins to make your own vinegar, potato peels for a crispy snack (fried), bones to make your own stock etc)
  3. Recycle – compost only what you can’t eat using a compost heap and/or vermiculture (composting worms) for fertiliser and compost.

I think the areas where we can save most right now in our home are:

  • freeze left overs instead of popping them into the fridge where they eventually grow jerseys and get tossed out
  • find novel ways of using left overs (the same meal for 4 days in a row becomes a little tired)
  • buy fewer “easy foods” for quick lunches and dinners
  • make our own snack foods ie: biscuits, humus, crisps etc.

By following only these 4 points I should be able to save 30% of my monthly food budget.  That’s a huge saving.

Last night I made a pie using left over beef stroganof from the weekend as a filler.

 

It tasted delicious, even better than the original meal, and it will last us a few days too.  It looks rather rustic but then that’s how we live – rustically.

Now all I have to do is use my incredible selling skills on the Bean to get her buy-in regarding the snack foods. Wish me luck…..

Good times

This last weekend was awesome.  Some busy time and some extremely lazy time which is just what I needed.  Just our current lack of electricity that brought me down a bit.  I can’t wait to get it fixed.  I think so often these days, of the settlers who travelled this land many years ago without any fridges or freezers – no lighting except candles, and so many wild animals and biting bugs around.  They must have been very special people.

On Friday night I was invited to a dinner at L’s house (a new friend) at Raptor’s View.  I met some more new people and we had a fantastic dinner prepared by Mr K ( L’s friend who visits often).  We had raclette for dinner which is so common in Europe yet I never tried it while I lived there.  The image below is of a raclette grill – you melt raclette cheese in the little pans with spring onions and mushrooms (or other things)  – which you then scrape onto a baked potato.  On top of the grill you cook your meats .  It seems that just about anything goes.  A very social way to spend time eating.

Above is the modern way of making raclette.  Traditionally it done like this:

Raclette is a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland, Wallonia and France. The Raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates; the term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning “to scrape”. Traditionally, it is accompanied by small firm potatoes , gherkins, pickled onions, dried meat, such as prosciutto, sliced peppers, tomato, onion, mushrooms, pears, and dusted with paprika and fresh-ground black pepper.

L’s house is lovely and we spent quite a bit of time round the fire outside.  I have posted a few images below.  They give you a good idea of what it is like partying here in the bush at night.  The pictures are very dark – I could have used a flash but it really spoils the effect.  It is really this dark here.

We  listened to some good music

Good food, good wine, good music and great company – what a lovely evening!  Thanks L!

Sense and Sensibility

I had my second yoga and meditation class yesterday.  Last time I posted about my yoga lessons I promised a picture of our studio.  I tried to take one last night but struggled with the light.  I wish I could show you how beautiful it really is but getting the light right when you photograph out of a darker room is a little too much for my blonde brain.  The room is so peaceful and tranquil and the view is absolutely breathtaking with the green trees reaching out for miles and the sun shining on the mountains.

Looking at the photo I think I need to take a picture when the sun is a little higher in the sky – that should work. I know a couple of you are stunning photographers so some advice please.. Sam?  Olivia?

On the yoga – I am already noticing extra flexibility after just two lessons.  The lessons here are quite different from the ones I took in Belgium.  We do the same poses really but I do miss they way we started overseas laying flat on our backs doing a visualisation and breathing.  We do open with breathing here, but it is more active.  Also, we don’t close off with a relaxation, however because the meditation classes start straight after, I do get my relaxation in anyway.  I just feel that the people who do not stay for the meditation lose out a little.  On the positive side, we focus much more on our breathing with each movement here which is a good thing.  Also the fact that our teacher makes us hold our tummy muscles in for the whole lesson is painful really good.

The meditation class is just awesome. Lisl is busy taking us through different methods of getting into meditation.  Last week we did chanting which can be quite daunting when you are new, in a class full of strangers.  It turned out to be really great.  This week we did it by walking…..very very very slowly, focusing only on our feet and leg muscles, feeling every tiny movement as your feet raise and fall, feeling every tiny touch as your heel, sole and toes touch the ground.  It sounds rather strange but was great. 

I got to thinking afterwards how important our senses are to being in the present – not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow.  The easiest way to be real, here and now, is to feel it, see it, touch it, smell it and hear it.  How much do we just block out through the day in order to rush on with our tasks – that is just not living in my mind, although I agree, it is necessary to block out some stimuli otherwise we wouldn’t get things done.  Think of it this way – take something you don’t like – like washing dishes for instance, and try this.  Feel the water on your hands as if you have never felt water before, touch the tiny gentle soap bubbles and feel how fragile they are – listen to the squeak of your sponge on the dishes as they come clean, smile at the glint of clean shiny dishes  – that’s living in the now.

Because of the pressurised lives that most of us lead today, it is impossible to notice every touch and smell we encounter every day.  We need to remember to take time out to notice our sensations, to slow down and just be.

The good news is that many people actually do this unknowingly – by having hobbies.  It is at times like these when we are enthralled in our woodwork, photography, scrap booking, etc. that we are taking notice of all our senses, living in the now and just being ….. and it’s good.