Baking, Bikkies, and Beautiful Banana Bread

With the warm yellow sunny days now fading and turning crisper, I thought it might be a great opportunity to share some of my go-to, no-fail baking recipes!
These are regulars in Katie’s lunchbox, or when we need morning tea! 
First, my NO FAIL AWESOME ALL PURPOSE BISCUIT RECIPE!
Yummy! EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
3/4 cup SR flour
3/4 cup plain flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g butter, softened.
Mix ingredients and knead with hands to form a stiff dough. Roll teaspoonfuls into balls and press lightly onto a lined baking tray. Bake 180 deg celcius (160 degrees if fan forced) for 12 mins for a soft cookie, 15 min for a crunchy one.
You can substitute lots of things for choc chips! I’ve used nuts, sultanas, muesli, dried fruit, m&ms…
You can substitute coconut sugar or stevia for the brown sugar.
You can substitute 1/2 cup coconut oil for the butter if you want a dairy-free version.
So versatile!

The second staple recipe in my house is my friend Laura’s Banana Bread. It’s super easy, and it’s like a warm hug from a friend on a cold grey day 🙂

LAURA’S BANANA BREAD

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp salt
3 Large very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teasp vanilla

Preheat oven to 180 deg C (160 deg C for fan forced ovens). Mix all wet ingredients together well in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients, and mix till well-combined. Pour into a loaf pan. Bake 50 – 60 min or till skewer comes out clean and top feels ‘springy’.

I promise you it wont last long! And your house will smell AMAZING when it’s baking!

So there you go! 2 staple recipes from my kitchen (2 of many!) that are super easy and yummy for lunchboxes or afternoon tea.

Or midnight snacks 😉

What’s baking at your house?
xx

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Chickens, christmas, and cans of catfood.

That fox. She has me paranoid. At every cluck of a chook now, I bolt outside like

It’s totally nuts. Plus our chickens seem to have totally gone off the lay. 15 chickens only producing 2 eggs a day. Hum.

The chicken forum I follow on facebook suggested upping their protein as they will be trying to recover their feathers after life in the battery farm. And you know what they suggested?

Cat food.

(Yeah, I know.)

But we’ll try anything, so bring on a the tinned Whiskas and we’ll see what happens I guess!

As things head toward christmas, Im really thinking about what Im going to give for gifts this year. I LOVE giving presents! It’s one of my FAVOURITE things. BUT, I hate commercialism and giving “stuff”. There is a practical side of me that hates the frivolity and waste. I hate wrapping paper, I hate birthday cards, I hate useless plastic gimmicky crap. So this year I am trying to give what I love receiving: handmade and useful gifts.

I’ll go into more detail post-christmas (just incase anyone on my gift-giving list happens upon this blog! *spoilers!*)

But I do love how busy the end of the year gets. I love the end of year festivities: concerts, parties, catch-ups… FUN!

OOH! And DECORATING! A new house to decorate! We dont even have a tree! Where do we start?!

Get thinking! Only 5 weeks to go! 5 WEEKS!

Longer post next time, I promise x

2 weeks of living RIDICULOUSLY frugal.

We’ve all been there. For one reason or another, one week you blow your budget (mine was a doctor’s appointment, an X-ray – she’s fine! – and a govt admin mistake which accidentally cut off some of my income.)

It SUCKS. And truth be told it’s taught me some really valuable lessons this week, the most important of which is to appreciate that for me this state is temporary. For many others, it is not. 
For the most part we can afford for me to be a stay-at-home mum & live off my husband’s wage. Things are tight, but mostly we do ok. Still there are always the occasional suprises (car breakdown, vet bill, health emergency, school excursions, fines, bill-shock, home repairs, the list is endless!)
So here’s some things – good AND bad – that I learned from my 2 weeks of living on about $40. 
1. Being poor can be really humiliating. 
This week I had to put back groceries at the checkout, tell my 4yo we couldn’t afford bananas (wtf?!), turn down invitations, and had a friend pick up a bill for coffee (Thankyou Tash!!! xx). It SUCKED. But it happens to everyone. I hope I can return the generosity and patience I was shown when I’m in a better situation!
2. Being poor forces you to be bloody creative!
I made that $40 <<>>. I budgeted each spend down the cent – which was frustrating, but I was quite impressed with how creative I was! I made packed lunches for the kids everywhere we went, took a thermos of coffee to the park, found free kids entertainment, mended holes in the kids tights, made birthday presents, asked a friend if we could pick some oranges off her LOADED tree (“PLEASE TAKE THEM. I’LL GET YOU A BAG!” – woohoo! Free fruit!) and made meals from scratch and what I already had in my pantry!
I made a roast chicken into 3 meals (4 if you include dog scraps!) and all that was left was a tiny pile of bones – use EVERYTHING. Waste as little as possible! 
Porridge anyone?

3. Use your skills.

I sew, knit and crochet (thanks Nan x) so I was able to mend some clothes to give them a second go, and make some presents for people. I also whipped up a coat for a friend’s dog, which she paid $20 for! Yippee! Bonus! (“We can buy bananas AND some apples, Katie!”) I also make it a point to try to bring good karma when times are bad – “No one ever went broke by giving” – so I made some pressies and sent some good vibes out into the world. Happy given out, will always make its way back round.
4. Use what you have. Use every last bit.
From using up leftovers, to shopping your pantry and wardrobe, you can usually make do with something you already have. 
And so, finally – here is my recipe for “Bill-Payers Chicken” (feeds 4 people for 3 meals. Plus some skin and gristle for 2 slavering mongrels!) 
Meal 1
Roast chicken.
I did it in the slow cooker (Mummy’s best friend!) with some seasoning from my pantry, carrot, cabbage & roasted sweet potato. Yum.
Meal 2 
Chicken sandwiches.
Set aside some chicken breast for sandwiches. Add some mayo, and lettuce if you have any? No? Parsley? No? Celery?
Meal 3
Chicken & corn soup.
This is where you get really creative! You know the liquid in the bottom of your slow cooker after you cook a chook? Don’t chuck it out: It’s perfect stock! If you refrigerate it overnight, you can skim the fat off, then add WHATEVER you have in the fridge vege-wise! Tin of corn? In it goes! 1/4 of a capsicum? Chuck that sucker in! Celery? Yep – leaves and all! Plus I found a near- empty packet of quinoa in my pantry. Sure why not?! 🙂 

Serve with toast. Or make some scones (they are easy-peasy! – google it!)
And FINALLY – the most IMPORTANT THING is your health. No use saving a few bucks here and there on heating in a Melbourne cold snap by refusing to turn on any heating. You will just all get sick. Trust me on this. 😛 *cough cough* 
It’s not quite over yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and pay day’s just around the corner…
Got any good tips you can share?
Here’s to better days ahead.
Xx