Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Insourcing...growing, baking, making hay while the sun shines...

I haven't done an insourcing tally for a while, as I've been a bit all over the place with fatigue and generally being busy and whatnot, so having had what I would call a more normal week this week, I thought I'd give you an update on all things DIY.
First of all, our fruit trees, just 3 years old this Summer, are really starting to kick on. This is the fifth harvest so far this season, and one of the most rewarding. There were 3 pawpaw, 20 cumquats, 5 lemons, Makrut lime leaves for Thai cooking (formerly known as Kaffir lime), and heaps and heaps of lavender. There are figs, Tahitian limes, Pineapple oranges (so called for their colour), more lemons, and more pawpaw coming along. Remember these trees are planted into what is more or less road base and clay, and they're doing brilliantly. Just one or two fruit trees, things that you like to eat or preserve, can save you so much money, and the feeling of picking and eating your own produce just cannot be beaten. Pawpaw particularly here in the tropics, grow from sapling to fruit producing in just one year! I love them. They're so much sweeter than the supermarket version, and in addition to eating them fresh, I pick the green ones to make Thai salads.
Our favourite is Thai Noodle salad:
Cook flat rice noodles according to instructions and drain well, covering with cold water to stop them cooking and to cool them. Slice cherry tomatoes, shred Makrut (Kaffir) lime leaves without the stem, and any other crunchy vegetables you have on hand eg. carrot/cucumber/capsicum, half a grated green pawpaw or green mango, and red onion or green shallots (spring onions). Make a dressing with 1/4 cup lime juice (bottled is fine), 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar, and a good pinch of dried chilli seeds or a sliced fresh chilli. Toss everything together and garnish with fresh chopped mint and coriander. Serve topped with crushed peanuts or cashews.

 Annabel at The Bluebirds are Nesting has a series going called The Home Pharmacy. Annabel and I think alike on matters of good health, and she's got me all enthused about essential oils as home pharmacy items for general wellbeing and keeping the bugs at bay. She motivated me to resurrect my Mums old copy of The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood. What a treasure trove of tips and ideas this book is, and it's still available out there. I highly recommend it as an encyclopaedia of essential oils and their uses.

Meanwhile while leafing through the book, I found a handwritten recipe in my Mums handwriting for something called Thieves blend. I'd never heard of it, but Annabel clearly had, as she mentions in her post here. Annabel will soon be posting her experiences and her own Thieves blend, so stay tuned to her blog on that.

I made up Mums blend and found it a bit heavy on the Clove Oil, but I've rectified that and I'll share how successful it is as a guard against the nasty flus and colds.

Whist on the essential oils, I made up a Home Deodorising blend. This is just equal parts Bicarb Soda (Baking soda to my U.S. friends), Cornflour (Cornstarch), and essential oils to your taste. For me, that's 3 dessertspoons each of the Bicarb and Cornflour, and 30-40 drops of essential oil. This one I did in Lavender, my favourite, but you can use any scent you like. This was sprinkled over carpets and microfiber couches, cushions and mattresses, and rugs, left for an hour, then vacuumed thoroughly. The house went from stale and musty after recent rain, to fresh and sweet, just like that. I decant mine into cute recycled single serve yoghurt pots. I poke holes in the lids with a heated metal skewer, and make sure the lid is firmly attached before shaking, as they're not THAT secure. You can also glue them into place if you're gifting this, but it means you can't then refill them.

I made my Depression Era Three Ingredient Fruit Cake, keeping half for us, and gifting the other half wrapped in foil and kitchen twine, and decorated with labels that Annabel had sent me for Christmas. Thanks Annabel. I absolutely love these!
To that basic mixture, I added two eggs and 50gms (1 1/2 tablespoons) of melted butter, to make them a little more luxurious. I also added chopped preserved ginger and chopped almonds. They're delicious, and so easy. This time I soaked the fruit in half coconut milk, and half chocolate flavoured coconut water. The flavour is subtle, but lovely.
One batch of mixture made two loaf cakes and a dozen muffin sized ones, so it's very economical.

I wrapped one large loaf, and two small muffin sized ones for gifting.

I've seen fruit cake wrapped exactly like this in kitchen foil and kitchen twine, selling in a posh deli near us for $6.95 for the small, and $22.95 for the loaf. So don't go thinking foil and twine are too humble!
I baked not one but two batches of my Gluten Free Oat Free Anzac cookies, and they get eaten as fast as I can make them!

Those cumquats I harvested? Well they were turned into Mums Cumquat Marmalade....

More pretty labels from Annabel...thankyou...
...and some of my Mums handwritten recipes...
I made flavour infused gourmet salts for gifting as well. I just did tiny ones in those little crafting bottles. Just enough to season a roast or two or a whole fish once or twice. They look super cute. I did Matcha, and Lemon Zest. They'll go into upcoming hamper gifts.

 So all up a good week. In terms of financial value, I've generated savings on produce of around $50, and savings on gifts of well over $200.

$250 in retail value for a couple of hours of my time, is pretty good, I think.

How about you?

Do you insource? What are your favourite DIY strategies?



  1. You've been quite busy. Did you do all of this in just one week?

  2. Thanks for all that info, Mimi. It will come in handy. You can read about the origin of the Thieves Oil here

  3. I do not usually calculate the value of my efforts but I do know that the 10kg of cherry tomatoes that I picked a couple of weeks ago would be worth over $100 if I was to buy them. Some of the things I have done in the past week include making a batch of refried beans (now frozen in Mason jars), making spreadable butter (3 tubs in the freezer), scooping pulp out of 127 passionfruit and freezing it in ice-cube trays as well as pureeing the last of the box of mangoes that we bought on our way home from Stanthorpe a couple of weeks ago.

    For anyone who thinks they don't have time - it is a matter of making time. I also hold down a busy full-time job plus 3 hours of commuting 3 - 4 days/week.

  4. Thankyou Mimi, Ive copied those two baking recipes down , they will come in handy. You have done well with your fruit ,reaping the rewards of your hard work and planning.Love Maria xxx

  5. Hello Mimi, I have come visiting from The Bluebirds are Nesting. I will be staying. I have just started the homesteading trend of life at the age of 70. A little late but a good thing I think. Partly out of necessity and partially because its interesting and frugal. But mostly I love the idea of making my own home sweet smelling, clean and with home remedies.
    Would please tell me the measurement that a desert spoon would equal?
    I very much appreciate you breaking down what some of the ingredients would be in the USA.
    Very much looking forwards to being friends.
    Have a great day.


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx