Experiments In The Art and Science of Soap:

Bars of soap

Soap. It’s become the new gold in supermarkets since COVID 19 turned our world upside down. 

In recent years we’ve been bombarded with advertisements for soap alternatives. There are all sorts of fancy hand sanitisers, wet wipes, and sprays on the market. 

But it turns out that good, old-fashioned soap is the key to washing dirt and germs off our hands and down the drain. 

So, from a teacher and science-nerd, try these experiments to see why every bubble needs a little soap these days.

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Tasty Veggie Bread

A loaf of sliced tasty veggie bread

Whether you’re gluten-free or not, many people tend to eat too much wheat in a day. Some days you even end up eating wheat in some form at every meal.

Because I’m actively trying to eat a wide variety of food — and especially increase my vegetable and protein intake —  I love to eat this tasty vegetable bread instead of an ordinary loaf.

This is a very forgiving recipe. I’ve tried all sorts of variations — and most have been delicious. 

Follow the recipe exactly and your veggie bread should turn out like this. But it’s such a forgiving recipe that you can make all sorts of variations and find the combination that suits you best.

Veggie Bread 

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

In a large bowl mix:

  • 1 ½ cups almond meal
  • ¾ cup of rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt

In a second bowl mix:

  • 1 large, grated carrot (2 cups, grated)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 5-6 chopped sundried tomatoes
  • ½ – 1 cup of grated cheese
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

Combine the two mixtures in the large bowl. The mixture will end up damp, thick and sticky but not sloppy. 

Tip it into the loaf tin and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes on fan-bake. In an ordinary oven, it will take 5-10 minutes longer.  

Uncooked veggie bread batter in the bread pan.
Raw batter in the bread pan ready to cook. I’ve added chopped spinach to this one.

Veggie Bread Variations

  • Vary the flour. Try buckwheat flour or gluten-free flour instead of the rice flour. The only flour I wouldn’t use is coconut flour because that would make the bread very dense and heavy.
  • Add some chopped walnuts for extra nutty goodness.
  • Swap the dried tomatoes for a few olives if you like them. 
  • Change the vegetables. Substitute grated courgette for the carrot or try a mixture of both. 
  • Add more veggies to the basic mix. I like finely-chopped spinach, cooked corn — canned or frozen  — and spring onions.

Once cooked, let the bread sit a little before turning it out onto a rack to cool. 

Veggie bread is delicious served fresh and warm with butter and your favourite topping. 

It keeps for several days in the fridge and is delicious as toast after a day or two. After that, slice it and freeze. Then you can get slices out as you need them.

If you like your toast crisp then it’s best to toast slices twice in the toaster.

More Farmhouse Recipes To Try

Mrs Mac’s Deluxe Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni cheese is a favourite in our family so I like to add extra goodness by including vegetables and eggs in my recipe. Be warned. Once you’ve tried this recipe you may never be satisfied with plain macaroni and cheese again.

Macaroni cheese, cooked and golden,

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked macaroni
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated tasty cheese
  • ½ cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • ½ can creamed sweetcorn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 – 3 hardboiled eggs
  • 4 rashers bacon
  • ½ – 1 cup grated cheese
  • 2-3 slices bread or packet breadcrumbs

Cook the macaroni, cauliflower and bacon

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add 1 cup macaroni and stir to loosen all the pieces. Cook the macaroni at a rolling boil for 10-12 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  2. Add the cauliflower to the pot halfway through.
  3. When cooked, drain the macaroni and cauliflower into a sieve and rinse with water to stop the macaroni sticking. Put aside until it’s needed.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon in a separate pan.

Make the white sauce while the macaroni etc is cooking

  1. Put 25g butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until melted.
  2. Stir in 1 heaped tbsp flour using a whisk. Microwave for 20 seconds.
  3. Stir the roux (butter & flour mixture) again with the whisk.
  4. Slowly add 1 cup milk, stirring constantly with the whisk to mix it all evenly.
  5. Microwave on high for 2 minutes then remove and stir to help it thicken. Cook for another minute and stir again. 

Put it all together

  1. Tip the macaroni/cauliflower back into its large pan.
  2. Stir 1 cup grated cheese, frozen peas and ½ can creamed sweetcorn into the white sauce.
  3. Cut the fried bacon into small pieces and add it to the macaroni.
  4. Peel and chop the hardboiled eggs and add them as well.
  5. Pour all the cheesy sauce into the pasta mixture and stir together till combined. Then tip the whole thing into a large baking dish.
  6. Mince the bread into crumbs in a food processor or open a packet of crumbs.
  7. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the macaroni cheese mixture in the baking tin, then sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  8. Bake in the oven at 180°C for 15 minutes. 
  9. Alternatively, if you’ve been quick and the mixture is still hot, simply pop it under a grill until the cheese is melted and crusty on top. (Take care that it doesn’t burn.)

Tips and Tricks

  • A simple hand whisk is your best friend when it comes to making a white sauce (also called a roux). It works like magic to keep the sauce smooth. 
  • You can make this gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and flour. 
  • I sometimes add chopped fresh tomatoes too. Yum!
  • I find it easier to make a white sauce in the microwave, but you can do it on a stovetop too. Here’s how:

Melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring all the time. 

Bring the milk to the boil, stirring it often while it thickens. 

When it’s thick enough, remove from the heat and stir in cheese and corn. 

More Recipes Our Farming Family Loves

How to make perfect cheese scones

Extra-special pumpkin soup

Mushroom Risotto

Mixed grain and walnut salad

The Garston Cemetery: A Very Special Shelter

The normally-tranquil Garston Cemetery was a-buzz early in November.

Residents past and present were gathering along with SDC mayor Gary Tong and councillors John Douglas and Rob Scott, for the opening of the cemetery memorial board and shelter. 

The ceremony marked the end of two years planning, fundraising and organising for the Garston Cemetery Trust. Designed by Gordan McMillan and built by Aaron Abernethy and Jordan MacGregor, this lovely little building is one-of-a-kind. 

Cutting the ribbon on the Garston Cemetery Memorial Board Shelter.
Noel McMillan and Gary Tong open the Garston Memorial Boards’ special shelter.
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Muscovy Ducks On The Farm

“What on earth is that?” exclaimed the tradie when he spotted the Muscovy duck sauntering past our gate last week. 

I laughed. We’re used to reactions like that when visitors first see the oversized birds that live in the paddocks around our farmhouse.

Muscovy ducks aren’t the most common farm birds in Southland, but they’ve become a bit of a hobby for us in the last few years. 

So what are Muscovies and how did they get to the farm just as I’d managed to become pet-free? Here’s how it happened.

Muscovy Ducks swimming on a farm duck pond.
Just a few of our Muscovy ducks swimming on the duck pond.
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4 Easy Recipes For Choco-Banana “Ice-Cream”

choco-banana ice-cream dessert in a glass

DID YOU KNOW that you can make a delicious “ice cream” from frozen bananas?  It’s not dairy-based. It’s not loaded with fat, sugar, cholesterol and sodium either. No, this “choco-banana ice-cream” is an almost guilt-free treat. 

Here’s all you need to know…

NB: If you don’t like (or can’t eat) bananas then sadly, this recipe is not for you.

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