DIY-ing (and a cautionary tale)

I love doing things myself. It makes me feel capable and I get a real sense of satisfaction and achievement from it. When I was teaching Prep, many years ago, my classroom had electric blinds on the outside of the window. We had a recurring issue where one of the wires was loose and the switch for the blind stopped working. Each time it happened we had to get an electrician in. I became really tired of having to wait for the electrician to come, so when he turned up, I surreptitiously watched what he did from my desk. It was a very simple matter and it took about three seconds to correct the problem. So the next time it happened, I took off the switch plate and did what I saw the electrician do. The only difference between what he did and what I did was that I got a teeny tiny little electric shock. When I got myself back together, I put the plate back on and tested out my blinds. They worked. When it happened again, I told the principal and she called the electrician and the whole cycle began again. The moral of the story? DIY is good, but don’t DIY electrical work. That is dumb and you could die. Be patient and leave it to a professional.

Something that I feel great about doing myself (and that isn’t going to result in me getting electrocuted) is making my own food. I love to cook, and I love to make things from scratch. I’m learning to love growing my own vegetables and I’m trying hard to tolerate my chickens. I definitely don’t love my chickens. One of them attacked me when I went in to feed them yesterday and I am still dirty on her about it. They are a both a bit feral.

Today, after 20 days of fermentation, I transferred my Indian-style kimchi* into jars to go in the fridge.

I love this stuff. I have it with scrambled eggs and it makes the eggs so much more interesting. It’s great for the gut, super cheap and super easy to make. When I was working I used to buy it, but a jar like this will set you back anywhere from $7.95 to $13.95 in the shops. I made three and half jars and I think it cost me about $5 in total for the ingredients. I use this recipe and I use this fermenting crock that my awesome Dad gave me for Christmas.

I’ve also started making my own gluten free sourdough (using a recipe from the River Cottage Gluten Free Cookbook). The jars at the back are for Augie’s pumpkin, carrot and quinoa puree that was bubbling away on the stove when I took the photo.

So there you have it. Today’s food DIY, no electric shocks, only deliciousness. Money saving, health promoting and hugely satisfying.

What is your favourite food DIY?

*Now don’t get all mad about me calling it kimchi. I know it’s not legit Korean kimchi. That’s on the cards soon. I just don’t know what else to call it. Feel free to suggest an alternative name if you wish.

On Making Gifts

The big changes in our life has led to the necessity of making big adjustments. One of these big adjustments is living to a budget, something we haven’t had to give a lot of thought to for a long time. We used to spend money with little consideration or planning, but going down to one income means that things have to change.

I have been working on a few ways to cut our spending, which I will go into more detail about another time, but one of the areas that we have to make cuts is in gift-giving. Rather than buying things, I am planning on making them. A handmade gift, a gift that someone has put thought and time and energy into feels a lot more meaningful than something picked up at Kmart on the way to a birthday party.

On that note, I’m proud to say that this is my first handmade gift! You can’t really tell from the picture but it is a lined library bag for our dear little friend Ella.

It took me a while to make, but I’m so happy with how well it came out, despite having to unpick the handles three times.I am trying not to buy things new, so the fabric is from the local op shop (a bargain at a dollar, enough for two good-sized library bags) and a pair of pants that no longer fit. Wrapping paper freaks me out (but that’s a another post for another day), so the bag is folded and tied with some rag twine I made. I hope she likes it!

Lined tote tutorial here

Rag twine tutorial here

How do you feel about handmade gifts? Any suggestions for my next project?

 

 

A Change In Direction

Like all good things, life here at Anarchy Road has changed since I last posted almost three years ago. Our values are the same but our circumstances are hugely different.

Our duo became a trio when we welcomed our son, August, to the world in February 2016. We have moved from Melbourne to Geelong, back to the original home of Anarchy Road, back to our vegetable garden and chickens.

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These life changes have also led to a change in direction for this blog. I am on leave from my job indefinitely, and the plan is for me to take the role of looking after our child and home while Tyson works. Anarchy Road is still about good food, but our focus has expanded to making a good home as well. And by good home, we don’t mean an Instagram home. We mean a home that is simple, clean and healthy, full of love and family and good times. We are taking inspiration from simple living advocates, our families, and our desire to live a simple, ethical and creative life.

Tyson and I have always considered the name Anarchy Road to be an overarching title for our joint projects, be they food, home or otherwise.  If you are new to the blog, welcome! You can check out our old posts for lots of stuff about food, particularly ancestral health related content. If you are a seasoned Anarchy Road reader, we hope you will continue to follow us on this journey.

 

 

 

Fig and Lemon Balls

Today is a cooking kind of day.  It’s blustery, rainy and cool outside, I have the day off (because it is school holidays!) and there is not much I need to do. Perfect for firing up the oven and turning some ingredients into delicious meals and snacks.

So far I have made skinless sausages (pork, fennel and thyme), roasted cauliflower, lemon and fig balls and coffee-chocolate balls. Still going is the slow cooked beef and sweet potato stew (in the oven), roasted pumpkin and beef jerky. Up next is grain-free crackers and some pumpkin hommus.

I just wanted to quickly share the recipe for the fig and lemon balls because I just created it, and it is pretty good. I had an Emma and Tom’s Fig and Lemon bar a while ago, and it was ok …but I thought I could do better. So I did.

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Fig and Lemon Balls

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Ingredients

1/2 cup of almonds

6-8 whole dried figs, depending on consistency of the mix

The juice and zest of a small lemon

Method

Put the almonds into the food processor and process until they are in tiny, even chunks. Take the almonds out and put the figs, lemon juice and zest in. Process for a bit, then add in the almonds. Process until it is of an even consistency.

If it is too dry, add another fig and some more lemon juice. If it is too wet, add some extra almonds. You might need to tweak this according to the size of your lemons and figs, but it will taste good either way. The mix shouldn’t be too sticky, it should hold together and mold nicely when pressed.

Roll the mix into balls and store in a container or a jar in the refrigerator.

My mix made about 10 but it depends on the size you make your balls.

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And now to the worst part of having a fun time making a mess in the kitchen – cleaning up.

Hayley’s Whole30

I’m doing a Whole30 for the month of September! I’m super excited about it, looking forward to getting back to basics and having a bit of a detox. My last Whole30 was in August last year, and I really got a lot out of it.

For those who aren’t familiar with what a Whole30 is, it is basically a 30 day nutrition program that eliminates all foods that may be having a negative psychological or physiological effect on how you look, feel and live. This includes grains, legumes, dairy and sugar.

I didn’t want to jam up the Anarchy Road blog with my own Whole30 stuff, so if you are interested in seeing what I’m up to this September, you can check it out over here.

Happy September, everyone! Enjoy the sunshine!

Enough

A while ago, Mark Sisson wrote this blog post  and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. If you’ve got a minute you should check it out. In the article, he says ‘I don’t want the perfect to become the enemy of the good‘, and this phrase resonated for me.

It is so easy to get caught up in ideas and plans and to become obsessed with doing things perfectly. I’m guilty of this all the time. I do the best that I can to nourish my body with natural, chemical free foods, quality sleep and regular exercise but if something slips through that isn’t optimal, now I just roll with it. Once upon a time I would have beaten myself up and promised to be more strict in the future. But, for the sake of my sanity, I take a breath and look at what I am doing and how far I have come and let it be enough.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Do the best you can with what you have, and let good be enough.

How To Be A Modern Day Hunter Gather

In an ideal world, I would be the ultimate hunter gatherer. I’d grow all of my own fruit and vegetables. I’d preserve them lovingly and those rows and rows of jars would sustain us until next season. I’d raise chickens, cows, sheep and pigs with care and slaughter them with compassion. I’d go fishing and bring us home a tuna. I’d carry a kick-ass basket. I’d feed us with my skills and general awesomeness.

(via lego.wikia.co)

But that isn’t the real world. I work full time, with a long commute three days each week. I go to CrossFit. I have a family and friends and sometimes I like to have a moment to read a book or play with my dog or watch Buffy. So the vegie garden is neglected, the last time I went fishing I was wearing jelly sandals (apparently they are making a comeback – ew) and my poor chickens met their untimely end in December 2011. I can’t be a true hunter gatherer, so I have to do it the 21st century way.

On the long drive to work the other morning I was listening to my favourite podcast (Relentless Roger and the Caveman Doctor). I love those guys. They deliver good information in an accessible way … and they are bloody funny. Something that rang true for me in this particular podcast was the Caveman Doctor’s discussion on being a modern day hunter gatherer.

The essence of what he was saying was this. Rather than going to the closest grocery store or supermarket and buying stuff there, be selective. Be a hunter gatherer like your ancestors were. If you can’t get the organic, grass-fed butter that you want, don’t settle for margarine because it is all they have. Get on the Google and find out where you have to go to get the good stuff. Even if you have to spend a little more money or drive a little further to get it, it’s worth it. You are hunting your food like your ancestors did, admittedly, in a different way, but still a valid way.

I’m the hunter gatherer in this family. Tyson hates shopping with a passion, so I do it, because I don’t mind. When we first moved to Melbourne I’d hit the Preston Market. It is just around the corner and have everything I needed … in theory. They have carrots. I eat carrots. So I bought the carrots. Unfortunately, the carrots were crap. So was the meat. After one particularly bad experience, I decided that things had to change.

After a few (disappointing) trips to some other stores, I discovered Terra Madre in Westgarth, and that solved most of my problems. Fresh, organic produce, niche pantry staples, Istra smallgoods and high quality eggs and dairy available seven days a week. Easy.

The missing piece of the puzzle was MEAT. I firmly believe that if your food eats bad food, it in turn becomes bad food. I want my food to eat good, species appropriate, food. I don’t want my cows eating grain or my chickens eating soy. It’s just not natural. I also want to know that the food I eat didn’t die in a pile of poop and agony. If I eat that, I’m effectively taking that poop and agony into my body, and that is not what I want.

My sister, who knows about this kind of thing, recommended trying out meat from Koallah Farm, and when I checked out their website I noticed that one of their stores is about a 20 minute drive away. So I headed down to Rosanna and checked it out and have been shopping there ever since.

So I hunt. I arrange my spare time around getting to CrossFit, the butcher and Terra Madre. I gather what I need from the sources I have found to be reliable. It doesn’t take much to be a modern day hunter gatherer – armed with a little research and a desire to give yourself something better, you can be one in an afternoon. You don’t have to wrestle a mammoth or wait for some seeds to grow. It’s all out there waiting for you.

Just not at the supermarket.

It’s A Cookie Kind Of Day

It’s miserable outside. Drizzly, cold and grey. When the weather is like this I crave three things – hot drinks, good books and fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits. I must have been preparing for this subconsciously – I absentmindedly picked up some organic dark chocolate chips while running the gauntlet that is Terra Madre on a Saturday morning. So when the longing for a warm baked sweetie knocked on the door of my brain, I was ready.

I waded through about a zillion websites, trying to find a grain-free, low-sugar recipe that didn’t look like balls. It took a while. Just when I thought I’d found a good one it would include something completely whack or the comments would annihilate the recipe and it’s maker.

Eventually, I found one that sounded pretty good and tried it out. You can find it here. I made a few changes (added extra choc chips; halved the recipe because I WILL eat that many cookies if they are around; subbed coconut sugar for palm sugar and cut it by a half as the coconut flour I use is quite sweet already) and they came out great … although I was not paying attention towards the end, and the cookies came out a little browner than I would have liked. But they taste lovely, have a nice texture and are just the way I like my choc-chip cookies – thick with a soft inside and slightly crisp on the outside.

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Now the heater is on, I have a full tummy and all is well in the world. Happy cookie day!