Category Archives: Kitchen

The Slow Kitchen: Spinach, Mushrooms and Eggs

Votes are in (thank you for being so enthusiastic about good food!) and a recipe will now appear on the blog each fortnight. The recipes will be:

  • simple
  • quick
  • healthy
  • family-friendly (depending on the kids, of course!)

While the series is called The Slow Kitchen – on account of the simple, good, real food we’re preparing – the recipes featured are focused on healthy, tasty, real food that can be made in 30 minutes or less.

Many of you have asked for vegetarian/vegan options, as well as gluten-free. While I’m none of those things, I do enjoy a lot of vegetarian meals and avoid too much gluten in our diet, so many of the recipes will apply. Not all though, sorry!

The Slow Kitchen - Sauteed Spinach, Mushroom and Eggs

{via Queenie and the Dew on Flickr }

A note on eggs:

We use eggs from our backyard chickens, and the yolk is out of this world. Not everyone is able to access eggs quite so fresh, but I would suggest using the best quality, freshest eggs you can find.

To poach, there are a few methods. The traditional (and delicious) method of poaching in a pan of water is explained here and will provide you with the best tasting eggs. Considering this series of recipes is all about quick and easy, you could also simply use the microwave to poach your eggs. (This is how we do it during the week. The weekends afford a little more time).

This recipe is easy as pie, and a regular on either our breakfast or dinner table. Ben grinned one morning and said, “Just like a cafe, but in our pyjamas,” and I have to agree.

Sauteed Spinach, Mushrooms and Eggs
(Ready in 10 minutes, Serves 2)

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups soft leafy greens, washed (baby spinach is perfect, or you can try silverbeet, chard, English spinach, kale)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • knob of butter
  • 2 cups firm-fleshed mushrooms, sliced
  • eggs (free-range/organic if you can)
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)

Simply:

  1. Melt the butter over a hot stove. Add the garlic and sautee for a minute.
  2. Add the mushrooms and sautee.
  3. Meanwhile, poach your eggs.
  4. Once the mushrooms begin to soften, add your spinach and stir until it begins to wilt.
  5. Plate up the veges, add your eggs to the top and season with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Add a dash of chilli sauce.

Variations/Additions:

More Vegetables: Add cauliflower and broccoli to the mushrooms if you want to add more nutrient-rich veges to the mix.

Need Meat?: Add some bacon or smoked salmon.

Vegan: Substitute egg for tofu scramble.

 

I know it’s not a ground-breaking recipe, but this is such a great way to start or finish the day. You get the benefit of eggs (one of the best whole foods around) and a nutrient boost from the leafy greens. Plus it tastes good and is ready in less time than it takes to order a pizza!

What Jamie Oliver Taught Me About Caring (And Food)

On Sunday, Ben and I were lucky enough to watch Jamie Oliver give a Ministry of Food talk in Sydney. I’m not much of a cooking-show kinda gal and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Not only did I enjoy Jamie’s infectious passion for good, simple food, but also his determination to help change the health of the world – one person, one meal, one choice and one day at a time. This idea of baby steps is something I can really get behind.

And not only did he inspire us to think a little more out of the box when it comes to the meals we cook, but he also reminded me that each of us can affect change in the world. Every single one of us.

When faced with a massive global issue – think famine, spiralling debt, the health crisis crippling many countries – it’s human nature to say, “But what can I do? I’m just one person.” What I realised on Sunday is that being just one person is enough. Helping one other person in one small way is helping to change the world. Step by step.

It really is up to everyone to turn around the poor health epidemic, the debt crisis, famine, child-labour. It’s not enough to look at our own tiny corner of the world, be pleased with ourselves, our health, our home, our food, and say, “Well, I’ve done my part.” We all need to help.

We all need to care just that little bit more.

When I first started blogging on a different website, I posted simple, healthy, family-friendly recipes once every fortnight. Things like vegetable quesadillas and salmon fritters. Things you can cook up with a toddler twisted around your legs and a baby in the rocker beside you. (This testimonial comes from personal experience.)

Is this something that interests you? Are you on the lookout for easy, simple, healthy, inexpensive weekday meals? Or does the rise of Pinterest and a million food blogs mean you’re now spoilt for choice?

Let me know. And if your answer is definitively the latter, I promise to never mention food blogging again!

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

{ via aesthetics of joy }

 

If you love clutter, if you enjoy feeling overwhelmed, and if your favourite way of dealing with stuff is to pile it up randomly all over your house, then this post is going to be incredibly helpful to you.

I’ve got the five best, never-fail techniques to help you create a cluttered home – and keep it that way.

(If, by chance, you actually enjoy having an uncluttered home that’s easy to live in, feel free to do the exact opposite. You know, if that’s your thing.)

 

The Five Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

1. Never leave a room better than you found it.

Pay no attention to the toys on the floor, leave the clean clothes unhung and let the coffee cups sit on the bench. As you exit a room, studiously ignore anything out of place, and do not, under any circumstances, pick those items up and return them to their rightful position.

2. Never finish what you start.

This is my personal favourite, and already exists as part of life for those of us living with young children.

No kids? Don’t let that stop you!

Simply start a task, project or activity and stop before you’re done. You may want to succumb to distraction, laziness or procrastination – these are the best ways to avoid finishing anything, and therefore adding to the clutter further.

3. Do not ever tidy up as you go.

Don’t pack the dishwasher as you finish breakfast. Do not pick up the previous game before the next one is pulled out. Don’t file your papers as they’ve been actioned. And most definitely do not, ever, put the clean laundry back in the wardrobe once it’s folded.

In addition, I highly recommend leaving things out long after you’ve finished using them.

That toaster sitting on the kitchen bench? The glass you just drank from? The notepad you just wrote in? The shopping you just brought home? Sure, it might take mere seconds to pack away, but that’s time you could spend making another pile.

This way, you will amass many unnecessary stacks of things in a very short period of time. It’s the perfect way to add clutter to your home with no effort whatsoever!

4. Ignore the clutter creep.

Don’t listen to the frustrations or annoyances that crop up when looking around your home. Ignore the little voice nagging at you. And certainly don’t take any action.

Do not move through your home and pick up everything that is out of place. Do not sort it out. Do not put it back in its rightful place. Simply let the clutter slowly increase, and gradually take over your home.

5. Employ the Shove and Hide Method.

If, in a moment of weakness, you decide you have had enough of the clutter (or your in-laws decide to visit) you must employ the excellent Shove and Hide Method of tidying.

Do not waste your time putting things back in their rightful position. Instead, scoop up an armful of clutter and shove it in a random cupboard. Repeat this process for any piles you find, ensuring the cupboard is nice and full when you’re finished. This means not only are your cupboards now cluttered with random mess, but when you find yourself looking for something, the contents of said cupboards will be spread around the house. It’s a win-win for clutter!

 

OK, OK, I’m taking my tongue out of my cheek now to say this: I am not trying to make you feel bad. I am as guilty of every one of these things as anyone. I procrastinate, I shove, I ignore the mess and don’t finish what I begin. Part of that is life, but the other part is a lack of awareness.

I figure if we can put a name to the behaviour, if we can see the consequences laid out before us, we are far more likely to actually pay attention and make the necessary changes.

Pay attention for long enough and these changes will become habit. And habits? They become our normal.

 

 

Room Service – 10 Ways to Create a Beautiful, Simple Kitchen

Room Service - How to Create a Slow Kitchen

{ via Oliver Yaphe }

 

The kitchen is often called the heart of the home – and for good reason. Not only does food bring us together, nourish us and bind us to familiar rituals, but it’s also the physical hub of many modern homes. It’s a dining room, meeting place, admin area and homework station, not to mention, you know, the storage and preparation of food.

Having a simple, slow, pleasant kitchen space that works for you doesn’t mean you need to remodel. Nor does it mean you need huge, shiny benchtops, high-end appliances or a spacious butler’s pantry.

To create a simple, slow kitchen, you just need it to work for you. But first you need to take note of which tasks your kitchen is used for.

Is your kitchen used for:

  • dining – Do you have an eat-in kitchen? Do you eat at a breakfast bar?
  • admin area/office – Do you keep incoming mail, bills and papers in the kitchen?
  • computer work – Is the laptop kept on the kitchen bench? Do you use the iPad as a recipe book?
  • homework – Do your kids do their homework at the kitchen bench?
  • congregation point – Do guests often congregate in your kitchen? Is it a natural gathering point?

Regardless of how you use your kitchen, it needs to work for you, your home and the people who live there.

A simple, clutter-free kitchen is not only functional, but can also be beautiful. Some people will find it boring, but to have a clean, clear, open space that is simply a kitchen really is beautiful. It doesn’t need to be fancy or Pinterest-worthy – just functional.

 

Room Service - How to Create a Slow Kitchen

 

Room Service – 10 Ways to Create a Beautiful, Simple Kitchen

1. Embrace white space.

The kitchen, beyond all else, is a functional space and a clutter-free benchtop not only looks appealing, but also makes food prep much easier.  It doesn’t mean your kitchen needs to be devoid of personality, but you should question the usefulness of the items kept on display. Keep the benches empty (or as close to empty as possible) and try to pack away as you go.

2. Find beauty in utilitarian items.

Just because an item is useful rather than beautiful doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty there. No, I don’t mean use your juicer as a piece of modernist sculpture (unless you really love your juicer) but perhaps:

  • a stack of mixing bowls on an otherwise empty shelf
  • a fruit bowl on the breakfast bar
  • a bunch of flowers or a few potted herbs in a sunny corner
  • a handful of cookbooks lined up on a bare shelf

3. Make use of the kitchen’s functions.

That is, if you also use the kitchen space as the admin/organisational hub of the home, embrace that by having a chalkboard wall for notes and reminders. Combined with a pinboard or a magnetic surface, you can fully use the space you have at your disposal.

3. Clear the cupboards of unnecessary clutter. 

Utensils that are never used, gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time, countless serving platters, baking trays and cutlery – what of these things do you actually use? This Stone Soup post is a fantastic starting point in helping you decide what you do and don’t need in a simple, efficient kitchen.

Also consider moving items that aren’t used often to a different part of the house. For example, I store my slow cooker, serving platters, pizza stone and extra wine glasses in the linen cupboard, as I would only use them once a week at the very most.

4. Group similar use items together.

Perhaps a basic suggestion, but keeping all saucepans, pots and frying pans together, or all dry goods, baking goods, tinned foods or crockery in the same place will make it much easier to work in the space, and you will be much more efficient.

5. Consider secondary storage for bulk items.

Extra bags of pasta, tins of tomatoes, washing liquid and other non-perishable items can be kept out of the kitchen to help free up space. A shelf in the laundry may work, or a hall cupboard. Then, when it comes time to do the groceries, be sure to shop your storage first.

6. Keep the fridge orderly – inside and out.

Before unpacking the groceries, do a quick run-through of the contents of your fridge, removing anything that is past its use-by date. Milk, leftovers, fruit and veges left to linger in the crisper – these are the usual suspects. Ensuring the inside of your fridge stays healthy means you’re less likely to waste food or buy too much.

As for the outside of the fridge, keep it clear if you want – it certainly is in keeping with the clutter-free kitchen. Personally though, I like the personality kids’ drawings, various magnets and photos bring to the room. Keep them relevant by sorting through them every month or so, to stop the space becoming another clutter magnet.

7. Use lighting to add interest.

A pendant light hung above a worktop or island bench gives interest, but is also great for functionality. You want good lighting in your kitchen, so adding a light instead of additional decor is a win-win.

8. Use colour to add interest, rather than clutter.

A wall painted in a striking colour, a chalkboard feature or interesting coloured cabinetry all add interest without adding clutter to your space.

9. Buy secondhand where possible.

Enamel stoves, cookware, benches, bar stools, benchtops, hardware and sinks can all be sourced secondhand. Craigslist, ebay, local papers, op-shops are the best place to begin. Again, adding items with a history will help you to add interest and personality without adding stuff. Plus, using second-hand items is a great environmentally-friendly option.

10. Ensure everything has its place. 

As well as the utensils, gadgets, crockery, cutlery and glassware, each item that lives in the kitchen space needs to have it’s own place. If you use the kitchen as an admin area, you need to set aside space specifically for the tasks involved. Even if it’s simply a matter of putting your paperwork in folders and storing them with the cookbooks, or using a drawer to collect bills as they come in. Everything needs to have a place of its own, otherwise clutter will creep in.

If you keep the laptop in the kitchen (for homework, work or study) then find a place for that too. Alicia suggests finding an attractive box to hold your laptop and charger – hiding it in plain sight when not in use. Alternatively, you could find somewhere else to keep it.

 

Aside from cooking, what do you find your kitchen being used for? Does it work for you? Or would you like to make some changes, to create a slower, simpler space?

{ Images L-R via: This Old House | vtwonen | HomedItMackapär et Trendenser | Remodelista | Apartment Therapy | Apartment Therapy | Houzz | Better Homes and Gardens }

‘M’ is for Meal Planning: A-Z of Simple Living

Meal Planning Image via Kyla Roma

{via Kyla Roma on Flickr}

 

The A-Z of Simple Living is a weekly series to inspire and motivate – regardless of how far into the simple living journey you are. You can find all posts in the series right here.

 

Meal planning.

You understand the benefits. You know it’s a good idea. You can see it helps save both money and energy.

But, honestly…

  • Thinking of endless new recipes?
  • Keeping everyone’s preferences in mind?
  • Finding good, seasonal produce?
  • Remembering what you have on hand already?
  • Shopping for specific ingredients?

Who has the energy?

Hang on… Without meal-planning, you have to do this each and every day.

Simple living is all about reducing unnecessary stress, and focusing on the good stuff. And a good meal plan will set you up for a week or more, meaning you only have to think about the dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” once.

The trick? Think of meal planning like a good, hard work out – when you’re in the midst of it you curse the decision to ever start, but once you’ve finished and are benefiting from the results, you can see that the short-term pain was worth the long-term gain.

If You Don’t Know Where to Start:

1. Decide how often you will write out your meal plan.

Weekly? Fortnightly? I have a friend who plans her family meals 10 weeks at a time. It’s just important to establish what works best for you.

2. How will you write the plan itself?

I use the age-old method of pen and paper, but there are multiple apps, beautiful printables and online programs you can use if you prefer a more high-tech solution. Just make sure it doesn’t distract more than help you.

3. Write out the plan.

Take a piece of paper, write out the menu for the coming fortnight on the bottom half. Make sure to include lunches too, as well as any baking you plan to do.

4. Write out the grocery list.

On the top half of the paper write your shopping list for the week/fortnight. It’s easiest to do this at the same time as the meal plan – to ensure no ingredients are missed – and reduce the need for last-minute trips to the shop.

Meal-Planning Hacks to Make Your Job Even Easier:

Hack #1: It’s Perfectly Fine to Cook the Same Meal – Frequently.

If you have a family favourite there is no problem in repeating it consistently. My kids love these salmon patties (bonus Mum Points for their incredible vegetable-hiding ninja-skills) and we have them once a week at least.

I haven’t had a complaint yet.

 

Hack #2: Have the same ‘type’ of food on particular days of the week.

For example:

Monday: pasta
Tuesday: slow cooker meal
Wednesday: left overs
Thursday: seafood
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: BBQ
Sunday: soup.

This simply reduces the stress of what to choose for each day when writing your plan. Obviously you can find a huge variety when it comes to each type of food, meaning you’re not locked in to the same seven meals every week.

 

Hack #3: Know your schedule.

You know your family’s work, play and school schedule better than anyone. Do yourself a kindness and use this knowledge to plan quick and simple meals for your busy days.

 

Hack #4: Try new things.

Set yourself a goal of trying one new recipe per plan.You’re certain to discover some new favourites, some not-so-favourites and to keep growing your repertoire over time.

 

All You Have to Lose is Time Spent at the Shop.

Meal planning really doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. After all, the reason we do things like this is to make life simpler, not harder. We want to free up time for what is important: like drinking cocktails and chasing unicorns.

Share in the comments – do you have any meal-planning tips, tricks or hacks? I’d love to hear them!

 

 

 

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