2019 Kitchen Resolutions

Over the last year I’ve been trying to improve my weeknight meal & food shopping organisation. In the course of trying to better plan out my meals & become more organised, I’ve noticed that during the weeks I get it right, I’m significantly happier & far less stressed. Even though I love cooking (& I’m pretty good at it), there’s something stress inducing about the evening meal especially when you get home late, you haven’t got anything planned & only have 45mins to feed & bath a toddler & get him into bed before he has meltdown & the whole evening turns into a total shitshow.

Anyway like I said, to avoid this I started getting a lot more organised, doing the shopping every Saturday morning, spending an hour or so on meal prep on the weekend & having everything ready so that cooking the weeknight meals wouldn’t take more than 15-30mins. Last year it worked well because I largely stuck to meals I regularly cook & didn’t need recipes for. This year I wanted to branch out a little more & try out some new recipes. I also want to get better at eliminating kitchen waste, trying to pick recipes that utilize similar ingredients for the week or month to minimize the amount of leftover, half used bottles of random stuff in my fridge & pantry. I’m hoping that documenting what I do here will help keep me accountable & maybe even help others out who are trying to do the same thing.

Each week I’ll post a list of meals that I’ll be making. I’ve established a rough set of guidelines for recipe selection;
– Each week I have to use up something that has been sitting in my pantry for a while, for example an old pack of rice noodles or can of beans
– Each week I have to use at least 1-2 sauces/pastes etc that are currently sitting in my fridge
– If I have to buy a new sauce or paste for a recipe, I need to find recipes to use it multiple times that month
– The recipes I pick each week should use up any fresh produce I need to buy, for example if a recipe calls for half a bunch of parsley, then I need to make some other things with parsley that week or find a way to preserve it for use another week.

I’m on maternity leave for the first few weeks of this year so will have a more time than usual to plan & prepare meals, but at the same time I really don’t want to be spending huge amounts of time prepping the weeknight meals so hopefully I can develop some good habits over the next few months that will carry me through the rest of the year.

Sewing for a new bub

I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. One of the things I was most excited about was all of the fun things that I could sew for her, after all, as a child all of my favourite dresses & outfits were things that my Mum had made for me.

I also have a number of fabric scraps that I’d been saving over the years from past projects or from various family members collections that are really only big enough to make something for a baby or small child.

These are the first two things I made for the new bub.

The purple dress was made using a small scrap of corduroy I had from my husband’s grandmother’s fabric collection. I used Simplicity 1205 as a basis for this dress, however it was a pretty small scrap of fabric & I actually didn’t have enough to make the dress per the pattern, so I reduced the amount of gathers in the skirt, thereby reducing the width of the pattern piece. This ended up being a good move because the pattern recommends thinner fabrics than corduroy & I think it would have been too bulky gathering that much corduroy. I also combined the chest band with the upper shoulder portion rather than adding a decorative chest band. I added the trim around the sleeves for an extra bit of fun.

The grey dress was made using a quilted jersey I found at Joanns. I used Simplicity 8346 to make this dress & for once in my life made zero alterations to the pattern. I simply fell in love with this pattern when I first saw it – isn’t it just the sweetest little dress?! This was a lovely pattern to make – it was relatively simple & came together very nicely in a single afternoon. II wanted to make something a little more casual than what was pictured on the envelope, so the quilted jersey was the perfect fit!

Next on my list is to make McCalls M4424 in a navy corduroy.

Tropical Dream Cake

Do you ever bake a cake just to use up some odd ingredients you have left over from other recipes? I had a few egg whites left over after making the fruit mince pie pastry earlier in the week & wanted to make something to use them up. I also had a HEAP of tinned passionfruit pulp in the cupboard & some limes that were getting a little long in the tooth so decided to throw it all together in a tropical version of Flour & Stone’s Lemon Dream Cake, (you can find the base recipe for this cake here).

There were a number of changes I made to the recipe. I added the following ingredients to the cake batter;
– The juice & zest of one lime
– 70g of desiccated coconut
– An additional 20g of self raising flour

I used a single 9×13 inch tray to bake the cake in rather than two 22cm diameter cake pans & once the cake batter was in the baking tin I drizzled a 170g tin of passionfruit syrup over the batter & then added the meringue on top of that.

I cooked the cake for an additional 15-20mins because the syrup had made it very moist. I didn’t bother with the lemon curd or whipped cream though a dollop of whipped coconut cream would actually go very nicely with this cake.

The resultant cake was really quite nice, the meringue came out crispier than usual due to the longer bake time but provided a really nice textural contrast to the cake. The cake itself was super moist & almost like a drizzle cake with the passion fruit syrup soaking all the way through.  I’m pretty happy with it & will most likely make it again in the future. It doesn’t look like the most tropical cake around but it certainly tasted it.