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Have a passion for interior design and plants, books and music, DIY and creative projects, arts and travelling.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Crochet craze - bubble stitch blanket

Working on a large crochet blanket with bubble stitches. Takes time and lots of money for yarn, but I know it will pay of! The bubble stitch looks complicated but quite easy really. I learned it from this video tutorial.

Friday, 19 June 2015

No food waste

Growing up I was taught that throwing out food is almost a sin. Not because I grew up in a communist Mongolia with deficits on some food, modest choices and likewise salary, but because we were taught that food is a result of hard work of people and throwing food means disrespect.  With years my view against food waste was strengthened by more arguments related to poverty and environment. I wouldn’t say that I am holy with it comes to food saving, but I do my best to keep up with it. Therefore I would like to share some of my tips to avoid food waste.

1.       Keep your food right and tight
Obviously keeping your food in a way to prolong their freshness is the must if you want to avoid food waste.
Keep most of your fruits in a room temperature. Some fruits and berries like it more cool, so keep your peaches, raspberries in the lowest compartment of your fridge. Apples can survive in 0 degrees Celsius, so if you had a good harvest, you can keep them in your garage away from humidity and light. Some veggies like squash, eggplants and pumpkins should be kept in a cooler place. Potatoes, garlic and onions tend to sprout out, so it is best to keep them in a dark and dry place.    

The dry foods like flour, rice, dried beans and lenses, dried pasta, sugar, salt can be kept way beyond the “expiry date” label. Just remember to keep them dry and cool and in well-sealed bags. If you are not sure if these are still fresh, use your nose – if it smells wrong, it should go out, if there is mould – out! Oils, vinegars, soya sauce, honey like to be kept in a cool and dark place.
Wheat bread should be kept in a plastic bag and in a room temperature. The rye bread likes cooler and dry place, so you can put it in a fridge.  

All dairy products should be kept in the fridge. If you serve milk with coffee, take out only what you need and avoid letting the milk cartoon standing on the table. It goes for butter as well and the butter should be kept in a container with a lead on.
It goes without saying that all the meat, fish and poultry should be kept in the fridge. Use them before the expiry date. But they can also be kept in a freezer, which will extend the expiry date. I usually divide the meat into smaller portions and put them in a freezer. This way, you defreeze only what you need and keep the rest of the meat fresh. If you defrosted fish once, you have to eat it, as you cannot freeze and defreeze it more than once.

2.       Wonder-freeze
You can freeze just about anything. Leftover food, fruits, veggies, spices, dairy and even eggs! The general rule is that you keep the food in the freezer for 3 months (although from my experience food kept for more than 3 months is perfectly edible and safe). Remember to put the food in well-sealed containers or plastic bags in order to avoid odour contamination from other food.

I make double portions of food and freeze the leftovers. That saves food and time for preparation, as you only have to warm the food. That is a lifesaver and much better alternative to the take-away pizza or kebab, when you come pretty crashed from work in the evenings and just can’t pull yourself together to cook. If you made just too many dumplings and ravioli, freeze them without cooking. If you have some leftover spiced up minced meat, make small meat balls for the next time.  
Frozen veggies and fruits have just as many vitamins as the fresh counterparts. If you have too much veggies lying around in the refrigerator, which are at risk of being thrown out, cut them and freeze them for next time! The fruits and berries the existence of which you forgot - cut and into the freezer for a healthy smoothie in the mornings. This way, you will save time and money! But do not freeze cucumber or uncooked potatoes!

Your fresh herbs and spices will keep freshness in the freezer, frozen chili pepper and ginger are almost as fresh and you don’t have to wait till they are defrosted. Fresh herbs can also be frozen in different ways. You can top up a little plastic cup with herbs and olive oil or mix the herbs with butter. You can also freeze the herbs in water. I make ice-cubes with fresh pieces of lemon and mint leaves.

If you have some pesto left – freeze them for the next time, but remember to put it in a plastic container or bag, as glass might break in the cold.
You can grate the cheese that you didn’t manage to use before its expiration date can perfectly be saved in the freezer for the next occasion pizza topping, lasagne or for cheese scones. You can also freeze thick cream in smaller portions to use for the sauces. Try also to mix yogurt with fruits and berries in a blender and freeze them in smaller containers – lovely substitute for ice-cream!
If you want to freeze eggs, you have to separate the egg white and yolk and freeze them separately. I must admit that I find the method of separating whites and yolks just to freeze them too much of a hustle. But the small packs with pasteurized yolks or whites can perfectly be kept in the freezer for later use.  

Fresh pasta is perfectly freezable as well.  It is also possible to keep the leftover dough in the freezer in a plastic bag, but I didn’t try to freeze bread dough myself, but all the homemade pasta, butter dough and dough for cookies are perfectly safe in the freezer if you put them well-sealed.

Any type of bread can come to freezer, which will be lovely and fresh after some minutes in the oven.

What comes to canned food - as soon as you open the can put the content in a plastic container and keep in the fridge.

3.       Love your leftovers
Parts of veggies that you don’t want to add to your wok, let’s say, broccoli stems, chop them in the food processor and add to the meat balls. Healthy and no waste!

Leftover mashed potatoes are great next day, mix it with couple of eggs, chopped onions, little bit of flour and spices, make small sized balls and fry them in oil – that would make a nice side dish! Again, no waste and money is saved!

Leftover cooked veggies from previous dinner – potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers and whatever there is (ham, salmon leftovers ets) can make perfect frittatas, homemade pizza or pies the next day with just few additional ingredients. Just remember to put them in the fridge right after the dinner.  
And of course, freeze the leftover food – stews and soups. You will thank yourself later. Don’t let the meals to sit night over, freeze them right away (after letting the meal to cool down a bit).

The ripe fruits can make a lovely desert, if you make a fruit salad – cut into smaller pieces all you’ve got and mix them with little bit of whipped cream, or crème fraiche and add a pinch of vanilla sugar.  
Leftover bread can be minced in a food processor and added into meat balls. Or you can put the crumbles in an oven for a short while and top your moussaka. I also make croutons, by cutting the bread into small cubes and putting them some time in the oven for short time - depending on the bread (white bread usually requires shorter time – just to get a golden colour, and rye bread needs longer time).

The crunchy croutons are lovely with a soup or salads.

You can also mince the rye bread, mix it with little bit of sugar or honey, distribute evenly on the pan and roast it in the oven for 15 min or until they are nice and crunchy. This mixture will be a lovely fiber addition to your breakfast yoghurt.  


4.       “Date of expiry” panic

Trying to avoid food waste by any means and getting some nasty stomach infection is obviously not the option. But religiously throwing out everything which is just a couple of days beyond the expiry date is also not an option. My rule is – use your senses to determine if the food is a no go.

But there are things which I am extra cautious with. Canned food, which stood open in the fridge for some time is a no go for me at all costs. Nor the sausages, which are beyond the expiry date is worth of taking risks. Anything mouldy should go directly to the trash bin. The mouldy part can be a small part, but that is only the part of it which is visible, all the nasty stuff has already gotten into the rest of the food. However, one exception is cheese. If you see a mould on the cheese, just cut it off. The rest of the cheese will be edible. But that is only the hard types of cheese. Eggs can give some nasty surprise if they are too old, I wouldn’t take a risk, but there are ways to determine whether eggs are still fresh or not. Learn to test your eggs for freshness here.
Other than that, use your senses. If your milk or thick cream has a weird odour and has big clumps swimming in it – out with it! If your yoghurt and crème fraiche has mold – out it goes! (that means that you can still enjoy them after the expiry date, as long as there isn’t any mold).

Tuesday, 2 June 2015


Recently I finally invested in a weaving loom! I had some previous experience with it, but that was 15 years ago, and I loved it! So now - weaving it is!!!