Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bounty of Barter

Hello chickens ~ sorry for being quiet.
I have been so busy after a super week of bartering, scuppering and trading - now stewing, freezing and bottling the 'fruits' of my adventures.  Oh - and eating them!  And I thought we were going to struggle not being able to budget for any food shopping this week. Heck - we had enough to go and get the chookies some grain today! $20 for 30kg of grain and 5kg of grit to help keep us in eggs to barter with! 

Because we have not had to spend (say) $50 on the fruit and veggies we've received, we free'd up cash to spend on items we can't trade through a retailer. And put money on the VISA to bring that monkey down even further. Along with the marked down meat and staples I've been buying, I've worked out we are feeding ourselves on about $1 per head per day and it's not 2-minute noodles! We've enjoyed eggs on toast (funny that!), a Chorizo, Zucchini strudel, Banana Bread, Apple and Rhubarb crumble and will have Chow Mien, Tuna Mornay and Pepper Steak as part of this weeks menu. Here are some of the yummy scrummy good food we have enjoyed, along with an approximate costing of the entire dish.

The Zucchini-Chorizo Strudel
Serves 4 - cost us $2.50

1/2 a whopper zucchini - Free 
(or 3 supermarket zucchs)
1 onion, chopped/diced - Free
2 gloves garlic, finely chopped - free
1/3 cup brown rice (makes one cup cooked) - 40c
1 cup grated cheese (I used 2/3 tasty cheddar, 1/3 parmesan) - $1ish
1/3 cup chopped chives - Free
3-4 chorizo sausages, cooked and sliced - $1.51 (or 100g pkt slices)
3 hard boiled eggs, halved - Free
1 egg, beaten - Free
Poppy or sesame seeds to sprinkle on top
2 sheets shortcrust pastry - 50c

Oven at 200C or 180C fan-forced
Greased, lined baking tray

Grate zucchini and squeeze out all excess liquid.
Heat pan with a little oil, soften onion and garlic
Add zucchini, cook and soften/wilt
Take off heat and stand to cool - drain off excess liquid
Add cooked rice, cheese and chives
Combine and add salt/pepper if required

Put the pastry sheets on the tray, over lapping by 2-3cms for length
Place sliced chorizo down the centre of the pastry - leave an 8cm border all around
Spread half the zucchini mix over the sausages
Lay the boiled eggs down the centre of the mix
Cover with remaining zucchini mix

Bring pastry up to cover - a bit like a strudel or sausage roll
If going for fancy, first cut the pastry at 2-3cm gaps on each long side
Fold the ends up over the mix and then criss-cross the side pieces over the mix to enclose it
Brush the pastry with beaten egg
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30mins, or until golden brown
Stand for a few minutes, slice and serve

The Apple and Rhubarb crumble
Served 4 - cost us about 90c

Crumble ingredients
1/2 cup plain flour - 50c
1/3 cup brown sugar - 50c
1/2 cup oats - 50c
1/2 cup coconut - 50c
50g butter - 25c

Combine the first four ingredients
Rub through butter until like bread crumbs
Store in container in refrigerator for use
Will be enough for 4 x 4 servings of crumble

Stewed Rhubarb and Apples
2-3 apples, peeled and chopped - Free
3-5 rhubarb stalks, cut in 2cm pieces (NO leaves) - Free
1/4 cup brown sugar - 35c
1/2 cup juice (squeezed an orange) - free
splash of vanilla - 10c
sprinkle of cinnamon - 10c

Put it all in the pot, bring to boil and simmer until the fruit is mushy

Pour the fruit mix into a baking tin - I just used a loaf tin
Top with crumble mix (not all of it - about a quarter of the mix)
Bake in a med/hot oven for 15-20mins
Serve with cream, ice cream or custard

I've put the Banana Bread recipe on Facebook - just to share the love - but this is what it looked like. We had it for dessert one night, after school munchies, take to school munchies and I had a breakfast or two with this and a shake or coffee. All up - we got about 12 big slices. And I had requests to make it again!

A little about ME
I must say I do feel a little better than I have the past few days. Pain levels are definitely higher than I've felt for a while, but its not controlling me for once, the brain is a little clearer today and holding thoughts is a little easier. Sort of ~ I think I am out of practice on that side of things *laughs* I have a new found understanding, tolerance and admiration even for those on narcotic recreation drugs who choose to stop using ~ prescribed narcotic and opiates as pain killers are not much different and the withdrawal experience is really crap.

In the days of old, I would have been prescribed a pain medication called heroin. Because of its addictive properties and adverse effects, heroin stopped being used for medicinal pain relief. When I was in hospital post op, tripping off my nut on ketamine - often referred to as horse tranquiliser - the nursing staff commented a few times how much easier it would be if I could have heroin for a few days instead of other chemicals. Regardless, it was not available, and now I am experiencing the same type of withdrawal and hating every moment. Too often I have just wanted to say bugger this, put a patch back on, pop a few pills and relax in the foggy bliss ~ I can see why this is so hard.

My very clever friends have been reiterating to me just how strong they believe I am - how hard this must be to go through on top of other life struggles and today I think I can believe them. I am truly blessed to have the support and care and understanding of such people ~ no 'pseudo-professional' know-it-alls bringing me down, no-one making me guilty for focusing on me, suffering injustices through jealousy and making it all about them any more. Some losses hurt more than the back pain, but this too may heal - in time.

A good friend, Haych, sent me a little note saying: "You're stronger than what you think you are." In the past, I would have pooh pooh-ed that ~ today I reckon she's right. Thanks Luff - you rock!

And now I shall scoot and get dinner underway ~ peppered steak, steamed broccoli, honey'd carrots and something with silverbeet! Feeding friends tonight - should be about $6-$7 for the four of us. Beat that Mickey Dees - four for less than the price of a McValue Meal!!

Chat soon xx


  1. Hi Mands
    What wonderful meals you have made and so economically.
    Glad that you are feeling better today too :)

  2. Have been thinking about you honey pie! Know that you have been doing it tough re the pain meds the last week or so. Fabulous post AS ALWAYS! You are such an inspiration to so many.
    I love stopping by here :]

  3. I am Rosemary ~ feeling a bit more on top at times. It can be a daily ride.

    Kimmie - been thinking of you too ~ hope its going OK with the clean up. Thanks love - you do inspire me and keep me up :D

  4. You amaze me with your enthusiasm and drive to survive this debt with your sanity and waistlines intact.
    You are stronger than you think.
    Thanks for sharing all the tips, we can all use them.