Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A-Z Simple Living: H = Homemade

It is not a secret that I like to experiment with making things myself. It is something I let go for so many years whilst I was raising small children, but now that they have grown up, I am finding that it is a wonderful and fascinating hobby. I have only ventured as far as foods and cleaning products because my sewing and craft skills leave a lot to be desired...and I have to get my kids to thread the needle these days :) However, you never know where this road will take me and I may just start sewing and knitting one day.

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Sewing and knitting remind me of when I was a young girl and my mother used to make some of our clothes, whilst my grandma knitted us cardigans and jumpers. Back then it was the sign of a not-so-prosperous household, because it was cheaper than buying them. Now the opposite is true - to have handcrafted clothes or hand knitted jumpers is something to be treasured as the cost ( in time and money), far outweighs the ready-made stuff you can buy. Funny how times change :)

Here are just some of the things I have made at home (some successful and some not), and a glimpse into what I have planned to make during my holidays. There is nothing like that feeling when something turns out better than the original, and saves you money in the process:

I picked up a dehydrator last week for $5 from a garage sale. When the guy I bought it from said that it makes the best beef jerky I couldn't resist trying it out....and he was right. Not only does it taste better, but it is relatively inexpensive to make compared to what you buy in the stores. My boys go on Army camps and jerky is a great staple for them to take as it is nutritious and does not need refrigeration. We still have to tweak a little to perfect the recipe but our first batch was a great start!

I have already told you the story of my soap-making. Not a huge success...but something to cross off my list of things to try.

This was my last experiment with bread rolls. I have yet to perfect them and have added them to my holiday experimentation list. My kids love them, and with living out of town, it would be really handy to whip up a couple of batches every week.

Homemade bircher muesli. This is an amazing breakfast cereal and just takes a little bit of preparation. I put all of my ingredients into a coffee jar, add skim milk or juice and let it soak overnight in the fridge. Easy.

This was my first batch of cream cheese made with full cream milk. I have just finished another batch using skim milk and am very pleased with the results...I'm sure my waist will be too :)

My kids love homemade sausage rolls in their lunchboxes. I do tend to rely on the frozen sheets of pastry so there is another thing to add to my (ever growing) homemade list.

I made my first Christmas cake last year...and will now make one every year. I have hot-cross buns planned for Easter, which is another first.

This is the homemade hamper I made for Xmas last year for each family. It was really well received and the preserves were all made with ingredients from the garden.

I cannot wait to get stuck into some cheese making these holidays. I have all the stuff, I just needed the time and the temperature (my cheese fridge ran too warm in summer). I have never made hard cheeses like cheddar before, and if they turn out I plan to make camembert (my favourite) also :)

I can also see the Vacola getting a bit of use during my holidays as well. Although I don't have a lot of my own produce to preserve, I have planned a few trips to the markets. Nothing like getting everything stored before winter :)

I also really enjoy making jams and chutneys (which we use all the time now) so I can see I will have to research some new recipes...maybe some pumpkin preserves :)

Other things I have planned are....homemade chicken stock, homemade mayonnaise, homemade soups, and some traditional baking. Phew, its a long list but these are the things I love to do. The moral of the story is....homemade is the way to go...for me anyway.

Do you make many things yourself? This list only scratches the surface, I would love to hear any other suggestions :)
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