Friday, 27 March 2020

how not to waste food

and yummy food on the cheap

In the United Kingdom, one of the biggest problems is the colossal landfills of WASTED FOOD. Let us not be like that in God Zone. Whilst we are in lockdown, and who know for how long, we can relearn how to not be wasteful, and also resourceful. Younger people may not know, but this was what our country (New Zealand) was known for, for many decades. Let's resurrect this wonderful aspect. 

  • it preserves and respects our heritage: Papatuanuku (Mother Earth). This is a time when we can ALL make a turnaround in this area. We rant and rave about it, and blame governments, conspiracies, "them" and "they", etc, but truly, we all need to actually do things for this preservation to happen. This is way more powerful and gives us more mana, than if we keep blaming and don't "do" ourselves 
  • we don't need everything that we want. Honestly, if we want self respect, this is one of the easiest ways to get it: by not falling victim to the wanting and having mentality
  • it's cheaper and saves us money 
  • there is more to go around for everyone, and in this way, those who are suffering financially on low incomes, they can have what they need for their whanau (family) as well

have less waste

Stop biffing little bits and pieces. That scrap of cheese, that half a cup of unused cooked rice, whatever, that didn't get served up:
  • freeze them and use them up as needed
  • throw bits of cooked vegetables, cheese, grains, baked beans, dhal into a pot for soup
  • leftover dhal can be combined with leftover mashed vegetables to make a spread or dip, or a pie with that scrap of unused cheese grated on top
  • leftover dhal if it's thick can be a spread on it's own
  • leftover rice can have a vegetable with it and an egg or beans on top
  • leftover grains like couscous, quinoa, rice, can be used as porridge, or added to porridge
  • leftover porridge can be baked with anything lurking in your pantry like sunflower seeds, coconut, almond meal, to cut up after to make "cereal bars"

We don't know how long this lockdown will go on for, nor about continued plentiful access to our favourite foods, so yeah, right now you might not be impressed with these hints, but (and I hope this doesn't happen), we might have to tighten our belts a bit more during this time. 

get more out of your vegetables

Some vegetables grow more food if the roots are kept in water. There are lots of google posts about this, but here's one to get you started:  I've got spring onions, carrot tops and various bits of herbs that I got gifted, regrowing. And I'm a bit self reproachful that I wasn't doing it all  along.

"stew" fruit

You know that fruit that you used to biff just because there was (gasp!) a bruise or mark? Or it was getting a bit soft? I pop it into a pot (ok, now I do it) with a touch of water, cover, bring to boil and simmer. 
  • I'm having stewed plums and peaches with my breakfast
  • you can have it with custard for dessert, using custard powder to save on using up your egg supply, and I bet custard powder is still on the shelves
  • make a crumble topping for pudding. I never done this, so I'll leave it to google. Keep it simple

make your own stock

For soups, stews,  cooking pasta and other grainy things.  I have done this since I was a young mum. In later years, I did quite a bit of communal living, and my flatmates would be aghast at my vegetable stock method, but almost all ended up doing it as a way of life. As I write this, my son is teaching one of his daughters how to do it. 

What you do is, as you're preparing your vegies, you save the skins like onion and garlic skins for example, tail ends of your carrots etc, pumpkin skin, pumpkin seeds, stalks, crummy leaves. I would add that sulphur based vegetables like cabbage can make for a gassy stock, so I don't use them, but that's just a moi thingey. You can keep a bag in the freezer that you keep throwing them into, but I just pop them into a container in the fridge.

You put your stuff into a pot, cover with water, if you've got peppercorns, add about six, if you've got bayleaf, add one. Bring to a boil, simmer for a few minutes. Then I just let it stand and drain it through a fine sieve. Hey presto!! Nutritious water to cook your food in. (you're welcome)

chicken or meat stock

That chicken carcass which you so blithely throw out? Horrors! What a waste. Add it to your brew, with a splosh of vinegar to leach the calcium out of the bones, and you will need to cook it for much longer. And some salt.

And finally here's another excellent link for the Destitute Gourmet who is just fantastic. She also has a facebook page.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

how to make dhal

the most simple nutrious food?
it's dhal
good food in difficult times

(my son and I, so long ago)

In 1981, I went to live in a communal situation. To be honest, I was about to lose my job (which ended up not happening) and couldn't afford to pay rent for the flat I'd been sharing, as my flatmate had moved on, and I was also paying child support. I was offered to pay to live in a yoga centre. My options were very limited, so I joined a small yoga community. One of the first things that I learnt to do, was how to make dhal, which we used yellow split peas for. We ate it with a side of rice, and subji which was spiced cooked vegetables. Years later, many of us were still making it as a staple part of our diet, because
  • it's cheap
  • nutritious
  • quick to cook
  • fills hungry bellies
  • good food for the masses (when you have a lot of mouths to feed)
  • delicious
  • makes one feel good
These days you can get a lot of recipes for dhal on the internet and in books and magazines. Back then, you couldn't. My youngest and two eldest grandchildren were reared on it for many years. Then, one day, I was simply "over it". I'd had my fill, so to speak. But recently, I started really wanting dhal again.  

How I learnt to make dhal was Ashram style, or, poor feeding for the masses. I recall many a time having to make bread, dhal, and subji for up to fifty people on my own. In just a few hours. (this might have something to do with my long time lack of interest in cooking which followed)

how to cook very basic dhal

You can use red or yellow lentils, the fat ones are the best, yellow split peas, brown fat lentils, and a myriad of pulses which are best obtained from an Indian or Middle Eastern food shop. In a supermarket, which is what I'll focus on, the range is limited to
  • split peas, green or yellow
  • small red lentils
  • brown (not puy) lentils
  • green mong beans 
Wash whatever pulses (lentils, peas) you are using, with hot water. I just use a sieve because it's easier. This is to remove the sapons (soaps) which are what can cause gas. Put in a pot with no more than twice of that amount of water. Bring to boil and simmer. If you add some tumeric, less than half a teaspoon, it will soften the cooking time. Red lentils cook in 
about ten minutes, the others take maybe up to thirty minutes (actually I forget how long). Skim any froth off the top as they cook (sapons)

Whilst dhal is happily simmering, just keep an eye on the water in case you need to add a bit more, stir occassionally as it does love to stick to the bottom of the pot and burn (or is it just me who does that?). If you add too much it will be too liquid, but without enough water, it will burn. 

Heat some fat (oil, ghee so yummy, coconut oil), and saute any chopped fresh ginger or garlic that you want to use. If you have a pestle and mortar which of course I do, grind some cumin and coriander, black mustard seeds, fenugreek - whatever, add to the oil, ghee, etc. They burnt really quickly so be careful. Then add chopped onions, and tumeric. Cook everything slowly so that the onions are sweet and (hopefully) don't burn.

If you don't have seed spices, just slowly cook your onions in the oil with the basic three dhal spices, using the powders, maybe a teaspoon of each:
  • tumeric
  • cumin
  • coriander
Other powdered spice variations are:
  • add a pinch of chilli powder
  • tumeric (optional), cumin (optional), curry powder
  • add some ginger and/or garlic powder/s
  • tumeric, a teaspoon of garam marsala, half a teaspoon of curry powder
  • curry leaves added to the onion cooking, with or without any spices that you use
Whatever method you use, the smell will get your digestive juices going. When the dhal is almost cooked, add the onions and spices, do a quick swish of the pan with water to get the ends, add salt. Cook for a little bit longer, as the dhal mysteriously starts to thicken (provided you haven't drowned it with too much water)

 Now, I am no gourmet, nor a great cook. This is very basic dhal, and no doubt dhal purists will be horrified at my lack of dhal dexterity. but it is good food. Usually served with vegetables, but you could have a salad instead, and roti or rice. 

100% yum.

I have cooked red lentils and split peas with just some salt, and you can also add tumeric of course. Just to show you that in life and cooking, nothing is set in stone.

You can also add a small tin of coconut cream or milk at the end to thicken dhal.

Friday, 20 March 2020

what can one do?

what can anyone do?

in this new scary time in modern life
how can we survive food-wise?

This photo is from the first Christmas living at my Mum's with my sisters and brother, after living with my Dad for five years, many decades ago. Mum had eight children, including myself, and I often look back at the wonderful job she and my Step Father Joe did, feeding, clothing and educating my siblings. They both worked as well, and not in high paid jobs.  I'm second from right.

Like so many, I've definitely been through incredible hardships in my life. And always came out the other side. Of course I have been through these cycles, because I am older. But, this time it is different. It's a bit scary as this time we are uncertain of the outcome. And we are not sure about our loved ones, in particular. Aside from the health issue, how will they cope? And, if someone has never been without, how will they adjust? Although, adjusting to going without is in truth still a first world problem.

I know how to:
  • make dhal, probably the cheapest way to feed anyone
  • have plain porridge for breakfast
  • make rotis (flour and water to make small tortillas)
  • drink water
Absolutely not the healthiest diet, but sustainable in an emergency.

About twelve years ago, I was completely broke. A big recession was in full swing and I was earning very little money. And eating as above. After paying rent, I had about twenty dollars a week to live on. I ended up at WINZ (social welfare system in New Zealand) sobbing, unable to cope financially anymore. I was not alone, this was quite common in that recession. After getting a lecture (which is not part of the job description of case workers by the way), I got a very little bit of help. I then set about making sure that I was never in that situation again. 

But even so, with these new, necessary restrictions, I too shall be affected with what I do keeping my head above water financially, which I'm quite okay with as I don't have a family to support. Luckily, I live in this country where we have the world's best Prime Minister. Ever. And all families will be looked after. New Zealand was one of the first countries to recover from The Great Depression of 1929, which was done largely by creating work, such as manual planting of forests, and creating money. It will be interesting to see what happens in this area of work recovery when the time comes.

So, the first important thing: how do we feed a family on a restricted budget? One of the very best websites for doing this is:

where Carolyn Ekins followed the British World War Two food restrictions (called rationing) during a time when she was rather impoverished, and along the way, she dropped over one hundred pounds of excess weight. Lots of (vintage) recipes and advice.

And another, which is a homegrown one (New Zealand):

This one ended some few years ago, but is still up, and is priceless.  

Food is potentially going to be one of the most difficult areas to get right during The Lockdown, so reading these two blogs may even only let you know that it is possible to eat on less, albiet very simply. 

The absolute basics that I would recommend to have on hand, providing they too have not been stripped from the supermarket, are:
  • red lentils
  • a legume and grain soup mix
  • oats for porridge
  • rice to go with the lentils
  • flour to make tortillas (see my facebook page for a recipe)
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • milk powder
  • oil
  • salt
Vegetables, fruit, bread and eggs, as and if we can get them. This is probably sounding like an alarmist post, but truly my intention is really just to show everyone that it is possible to be fed in very difficult times. 

And maybe it'll stop so many of us being so precious with what we want and encourage us in so many ways to be more resourceful, which this wee country was so "world famous in New Zealand" for.

Next week I promise to be not so preachy. 

Friday, 13 March 2020

le evening regime

why would anyone want an evening routine

 (making an evening list)

Isn't this just another anal-have-to-do thing? Or not? Because, yes we all have routines, whether we realise it or not.

I mean, if you look at what you do each night, it will follow a pattern. It's just the way that we all are. So, yes, we all have some sort of evening regime, no matter what it is. So why would we want a special evening system?

my former useless morning routine

Being a morning person, I've generally always done everything early in the morning, before my day starts. I thought that it really suited me, as that's when my energy is at it's highest. I obviously had it all wrong. 

I would be dashing around, putting away the dishes that were washed the night before, putting on washing (which I still do), ironing (which I no longer do), preparing food, trying to figure out what to wear, getting stuff together. It was all preparation for that day. Which was great. But I would be so tired by lunchtime. And if I added anything for me, it would be a joke, it just wouldn't get done, as there would be no time.

Which I didn't really understand. After all, didn't the "experts" say to do things when your energy is at it's highest? 

Yes, they do. But they meant Other Things. Not the daily life stuff. For example, I write, and I can tell you that I do this best before lunch. And study? Yep, that has to be done before lunch too, as my learning abilities are a bit haywire in the afternoons. And these are the type of things that the experts are talking about with when your energy is at it's highest. So, in business, there are some tasks that you would find you could do when your energy is a bit low. For me, these are, for example, emails, food shopping, boring stuff that doesn't require too much gray matter. 

And I always felt that I "had" to do some yoga in the mornings, because that's when you do it, right? Or go for a walk first thing because it helps with weight loss? Go to the gym asap. Well, yes I actually do these things. But I do have to get up really early to do them or else I lose my morning prime time. But, I may change it all. I'm not yet sure, I'm just going to fiddle around and see what I can do when.

I've nearly finished my first book 

And it's to fit in with my writing. I've almost completed my first little book, which will be going out soon (hopefully) on Amazon as Kindle, and probably as a book as well. I also have two half written books which I would like to complete. So, I really do need to reassess how I am managing my time, to get all of this done. Plus do health and fitness, maintain friendships, spend time with family, earn money, etc, etc (phew).

le evening regime

And in a round-a-bout way, this does go back to the ole evening routine as well. I do need to sort this out to reduce morning stress and wasting time. So, this is the new plan, which might be adherred to and kept, or changed and tweeked if it doesn't agree with me:

1.  aim for an early night. Asleep by ten if possible
2.  about an hour or so before, start getting ready for the next day by:

  • quick dishes and tidy (new, or should I say "resuming")
  • look at diary for the next day (also resuming)
  • turning most lights off
  • turn that *#!* computer off!!!!! (resuming) 
  • laying out my gym gear  and clothes for the rest of the day, which I already do
  • clean off make-up etc, moisturise face, neck, chest, hands and feet (only the feet are a new addition)
 3.   get ready for sleep (new routine)
  • do a couple of very easy, relaxing, yoga poses
  • a wee meditation
  • give thanks for whatever
4. bed!! zzzz

I used to have a really great night-time routine, however when I had less personal space, my before bed routine became non-existent. But, I do love to be organised. I am that person who finds an organised life to be a great stress reducer. So now I feel that it's time to recreate my evening routine, as the time and physical space is all there.

I eat my dinner early, at about 4pm. If I'm sharing a meal, I'm okay with it being later, but when it's just me, then an early meal, it is. Because this is when I'm really hungry. In did it for years, and wish I hadn't stopped, as it so suited me.

And I guess that with organisation and routines, it is all about what suits oneself, one's life and circumstances. 

What do you do? And why does it suit you?

Friday, 6 March 2020

putting the magic back into life

I love magic
and really, who doesn't?

I love the magic in life, and of life. I was reminded of it today, when I had been feeling so exhausted, and kept falling asleep.  For no reason at all. Which I really don't like doing. I like to live my life, and preferably during the day.  

negative ions

Then, I had an epiphany: I realised that I hadn't done much cleaning lately. When it's just oneself, and you're quite tidy and clean, there's not much that needs doing. But still, really it is best to do it regularly. Why? Well, there is the negative ion thing. So, these are little particles in the air. They abound in nature. And also increase in our environment when we dust, vacuum and such. The thing is, these negative ions, they make us feel good. On all levels. You know when you go to the beach and just feel wonderful afterwards? Or into the bush, or forest, and you become revived? I find this even happens going to a park. Aside from the science of it, to me this is quite magical. That little unseen minute bits in the air make us feel so good.

And I had stopped doing my morning yoga breathing practices. Vigorously breathing in and out of my nostrils, really fast. Then doing deep restorative breathing. And, this also increases negative ions. You get like an unseen big "bubble" of them around the nostrils. And this also helps so much to increase our immunity. I find March is a good time to amp up anything in advance that will help with preventing or even just minimising, the coming winter ills.

home clearing

I like to "energetically" clean my home, too. It just feels amazing afterwards. Fresh. In fact, I often do it for people's homes and businesses. I use sea water, whereas another healer friend makes sage bundles which she uses very successfully. And another friend burns camphor. I really find that I need to clear wee abode a couple times a week, for the best effects. It only takes a few minutes, and I find that my energy bumps up straight away, afterwards. To me, this is also magical.

feng shui

Years ago, I learnt Feng Shui which is great too, and also did this for businesses and homes. I stopped awhile ago, I had so much happening. But somehow I've also forgotten to do this in my own wee abode. I really need to do it though. My romance sector is where the loo is, and yes, it is as though that sector of life keeps being flushed away. I just need to put a pair of something, like male, and female, there, and the only space is on the windowsill or in a corner on the walls. The romance area is the far right corner of your home as you enter the door which you usually use as your main "front door" whether it's at the front or is really your back door. 

The left far corner is for money, and that's in a dark area in my small kitchen. Which kind of sums up my money situation at the moment. I do know that it's easy to fix with Feng Shui, so how come I just forgot to do it? A pot plant with rounded red leaves or petals is good to put there. Or, a small picture of the Goddess Lakshmi, who is to do with prosperity. 

As these are two important sectors, I really do need to sort them out. Soon. Bring back some more magic. 

magic in life

I find magic everywhere. Nature being at the top of my list. 
Young children are magical. And then there are moments. Pauses in time, when I can feel that special, indefinable something.  

I am a healer and clairvoyant, so for me, magic is just part of life. I get to do some really special things which are past the realms of logic, and I am very grateful to be able to do it. It makes my life rather lovely, and keeps me quite positive. One very special time in my heart, was finding my grandson's guardian angel for him, when he was six and really worried about something. (He's an adult financier now)

Do you have special magical moments, or "things"?

Friday, 28 February 2020

this was the week that was

it was a "phew" week
because that's how that week was

sunset from my home over the beautiful Waitakere Ranges

life always ebbs and flows

Life just happens. And sometimes it's just great, it really is. But why oh why, does it have to accompany other, hard, stuff?

the fantastically wonderful stuff

So The Great was a new birth. I'm from a very large family. Originally I had six sisters (RIP to one of them, sadly) and a brother. As well there are extended family of other brothers and sisters. And we welcomed a little girl, who already has lots of little cousins. The New Wave of Souls. Actually she's my sixth grandchild, and I have a young great grandson. So that was very, very exciting. 

Little miss Pixie is being a Big Girl about it all. Not. She hid when she heard baby cry for the first time.  Mother is recovering amazingly. New Father is the sort of wonderful nurturing partner who is changing nappies, burping, doing all of the chores. There weren't too many of this sort of male around when I had babies. In fact, I didn't know any. I'm so glad that times have changed.

new life is the most wonderful happening

New life. So precious:
  • spring blossoms bursting forth
  • rain after a drought (it always seems like new life, to me)
  • the start of a new day. Dawn always seems like something new and exciting, in my moi-iverse. I sincerely hope to start yet again, rising just before dawn each morning. The solitude, the stillness then the special sounds of dawn, the higher level of prana (life force) in the air, the absolute beauty of the sun rising. New life, indeed
  • all of the animals and birds who are born. My eldest has a farm and welcomed unexpected lambs and chickens to the farmyard whanau (family) this spring, which of course was so lovely for daughter
  • and of course, human babies
the horrid stuff

Then there are The Other Things. I had extreme nerve pain throughout my whole head. All week. I could barely cope. Couldn't work. I was even going to drive to a hospital to get a large molar ripped out, in case it was just toothache. (I'm glad that I didn't). But instead, I had a romiromi (Maori healing) from a dear friend which helped a lot. Then, alas, a few days later, I was not handling my very sore head. 

Excruciating pain. So I went to a local Chinese acupuncturist  in desperation. The day of the birth, actually. As a healer, I'm always totally fascinated at what other healers do.  This incredible nosiness of mine helped to allay the oh-so painful but 100% amazingly beneficial  treatment, just a bit. My other "caving" thing was taking Panadol. And Pixie was staying, so Nurse Pixie helped heaps in the cuddling department. 

(happy to be at Granny's)

I have very little pain, now. It just ever so slowly went away. Very slowly. Not completely, but mostly. It teases me now and then by almost returning in full force. Then not. Just disappearing before it flowers. A real cliff hanger of pain situation. I now feel as though I have New Life.

I pretended that nothing was wrong, because, well, a daughter likes her mum close by when she's going through birthing.  And, honestly, that time was not about me!

I nearly lost my new book which I'm writing

My wee notebook computer crashed. I was trying to clear it's history because, um, I'd never done it. Which I now know is Bad. I think computer just couldn't cope with it all. It was so upsetting as my almost completed book was in that wee computer. Luckily I had (only just) saved it to one of the clouds. I had another small computer, so I got that up and running, and figured out how to retrieve my chapters. 

Mysteriously little notebook is now again going fantastically, so "phew". I hope to have the book finished soon.

more mishaps 

As well, friends had hard dramas, bad accidents, the flu, and so on. I like to Be There for my friends, but some days this past week, no, I was too sore to speak let alone think. 

Does anyone have any times like this? I'm sure it's just not moi. Any advice? Especially for neuralgia. And computer maintenance.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Taking advice

helpful, or ?

We need to find out what's best for us

When I was younger, I often would get upset when people gave me unsolicited advice. Of course, when we are young, we are more sensitive to criticism. Partly because, um, we think we know more than we really do. And partly because we want to find our own way, which I do feel is so important. Having our own successes and learning from our "failures". And how can we possibly learn and succeed if others are trying to control our course? 

I am really big on encouraging my family and friends, on their own successes. I know the special things that are so wonderful about each and everyone of my family. And I'm so proud of them all. I want them to know that we don't all have to be the same. That it's okay to be different. Actually, with a couple of them when they were young, I may also have been proud of some somewhat imperfect (naughty) things that they did. Just because of the cleverness involved.

These days, for myself, I can quietly get a tad "ggrr" when controlling advice gets given. When you're older, people often assume that you're stupid. Which is, in itself, really stupid. And when you're small (like moi), well, the same reasoning can often be in place. So not nice. I just give a big polite smile when it happens, and remove myself if I can. I am totally over arguing a point. 

I know that I have areas of dumbness, and I'm okay with it. I am not great with anything at all that requires really simple tech savvy, for example. I once house sat for family who had remotes for nearly everything. I could use some of the lights, shower, loo, kettle, toaster and fridge. I was in total confusion over tech things that my very young grandchildren could do. 

know our own brilliance

I do believe that everyone has a special gift, and that some people have many. These days I focus on what I can do, and what I excel in and at:
  • I can be relied on when people are hurting, or having difficulties, to just listen with love
  • I have very unique gifts as a healer. But I'm not as great with the purely physical, and I'm okay with that now 
  • I am very clairvoyant. But when I know someone is being dodgy to or about me, I don't really have the skills to do something about it
  • I'm a really good yoga teacher. I can't swim but I'm great with all aspects of yoga (maybe not so good with the singing though)
  • I am methodical, loyal, and hard working. But not so great with socialising
  • writing comes easy to me, but computers? (aarrrgghhh)
I know that everyone has the can do-s and the cannot do-s. I used to work so hard on what I couldn't do, and life just didn't work out for me. So now it's just putting my energy into what my own skills are. 

And it's so good to look at this for oneself, so what are your skills?

I wish when I had been a young mum, that I'd had a "mentor"

It would have made life so much easier. My own Mum had a big family and worked, so I felt that it would have been unfair to "hang off" her. I didn't know how to drive until four years after becoming a mother, so I couldn't get to see her during the day without lots of bus travel, as I lived semi-rurally, and to get anywhere was a mission, with two young kids. Although I did have a couple of nearby friends, there wasn't that wise guiding hand nearby. Sometimes, on reflection, I wonder if it was that I had been the eldest of five until I was twelve, and Mum's right hand man with child care, that made motherhood easy to step into at a young age. But still, I did long for someone wise to turn to.  Maybe it was just part of My Path in Life to have to sort things out for myself.

when to listen (for moi-self)

I do listen to advice, quite often. And ask for it. Sometimes I've had female flatmates tell me I look good wearing this or that when in fact I looked terrible. Or that I looked awful when I was looking good. Yes, I stupidly listened. But sometimes I get it right: I lightened my hair recently (dark blonde which doesn't really look blonde at all, but it's not brown), and was wearing bright pink, at a family gathering. And to my surprise, my youngest sister who has never ever made a comment about my appearance, told me twice in one night, that both looked good. To keep the hair colour, and to wear that shade of pink. Wow. Thanks, Joanne.  And I asked an eternally youthful and gorgeous friend what to do about my appearance. I really did listen, because she had it all so together. 

I know that how you look is a somewhat shallow reason for taking advice or not, but it does matter to me.  On more important matters, yes, of course I ask for advice (frequently), and even if the answer doesn't feel right, then it's still another point to consider. 

What are your thoughts on advice? 

how not to waste food

and yummy food on the cheap In the United Kingdom, one of the biggest problems is the colossal landfills of WASTED FOOD. Let us not be ...