Winter mornings mean hot breakfasts in our house. The most popular hot breakfast is porridge. It's not the porridge of years go however. It's warm and creamy and ready to eat as soon as we get up. It's slowcooker porridge and I just love it.
The secret to slowcooker porridge is to always use rolled oats, not instant rolled oats, and to use a suitable sized crock. If you are making porridge for four and only have a 6 litre slowcooker you'll end up with dried, disgusting rubber unless you cook your porridge in a smaller dish.
Follow the instructions and you'll end up with the creamiest porridge you've ever enjoyed - don't be tempted to skimp on the water, you need it all.
1 cup rolled oats
1.25 litres (5 cups) cold water
Put the oats, water and salt into a heatproof bowl with a lid that fits inside your slowcooker. Put the bowl into the slowcooker and add water to the crock until it comes about halfway up the side of your heatproof bowl of ingredients. Turn the slowcooker to low. Put the lid on. Cook for 8 hours.
Now if you have a smaller slowcooker you can add the ingredients to the crock and cook them. Also, newer slowcookers tend to cook faster and hotter than the older style. I set the timer to start cooking at 11pm and breakfast is ready when we get up at 7am.
You can add dried fruit and cinnamon to your porridge while it's cooking.
Some recipes call for using half milk and half water. Don't. The milk will cause the porridge to stick and it may even burn, ruining your porridge. Leave adding the milk until you are ready to serve.
Eczema is horrible. It's red, itchy, scaly, painful and ugly. If left untreated it can leave horrible scars. And it is almost as common as the common cold. And like the cold, there really isn't any one successful treatment for this painful skin complaint.
Hannah and AJ both suffer from eczema and have done since they were babies (another reason I MOO washing powder and soap). Over the years we've spent a fortune on creams and lotions, doctors and specialists, natural remedies and some not so natural. And while some of them worked for a short while the eczema always came back and the painful cycle would begin all over again.
Until Hannah found a recipe for a homemade cream and gave it a try. And it worked! Oh joy, oh happy relief!
It soothes and stops the itching, cools the skin quickly and moisturises and softens dry scaly patches. Best of all we had all the ingredients in the kitchen.
Over the years we've tweaked it to the recipe below. It is far and away the best eczema cream we have used and its all natural - not a steroid in sight, no need for a prescription and it costs under $1 a jar.
It only has four ingredients: rolled oats, coconut oil, rosemary oil* and olive oil.
Oats have been used to soften and moisturise skin for centuries. They are know for their anti-itching properties and are an easy treatment for dry skin.
Coconut oil is rich in fats, Vitamin E, proteins and fatty acids. It is renowned for it's moisturising and anti-aging properties. Because coconut oil doesn't go rancid it can be applied to the skin it can work longer without going rancid.
Rosemary oil is know for it's therapeutic properties and is a common ingredient in shampoos and moisturisers for it's purifying properties.
This recipe can be used as a daily skin moisturizer to prevent eczema from flaring up. If by chance it does still appear this helps to nip it in the bud quickly!
You will need:
1/4 cup of oats
3/4 cup of coconut oil
Few drops of rosemary oil* (optional)
1 tbsp of olive oil
A small jar with a screw top lid, sterilised
Step 1. Finely grind the oats to a powder/flour consistency and set aside. I use my food processor but you can use a stick blender, vitamiser, mortar and pestle (if you have the muscles), a Magic Bullet - any appliance that will grind the oats into a fine powder.
Step 2. Over a low heat, melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan until it melts.
Step 3. Add in a few drops of rosemary oil if you are using it. I usually add 8 drops as we like the fragrance and I like the antibacterial properties of rosemary oil.
Step 4. Add finely ground oats to the saucepan and mix until well blended. At this stage the mixture will be quite thin.
Step 5. Now, pour the olive oil into the mixture and stir until blended.
Step 6. Once all ingredients are thoroughly combined remove from the heat and let it cool, absorbing all the goodness from the oats. While it is still semi-liquid pour in to a small, sterilised storage container. It won't matter if you get any of the oats in the jar, your cream will just have a little texture. If you don't want any oats, strain the liquid into the jar. Let it cool and harden for several hours.
Apply to hands and skin as needed and feel the moisturising magic at work!
From Debt Free Cashed Up and Laughing
Not too many prepared cleaning products are used in our home. In fact aside from dishwasher powder and dishwashing detergent, and laundry soaker, everything else is made from ingredients I keep in the cleaning stockpile.
From these ingredients I can keep our whole home clean and fresh, and do all our laundry.
Yesterday I made a double batch of Miracle Spray. I saw it being made on TV on Saturday, and watched. Not to be picky, but if you make it the way they did on 9Honey Hacks, you won't be happy. They used the wrong quantities of ingredients. I guess that's what happens when you try to copy something, right down to the name, and don't pay close attention. If you'd like the original and best Miracle Spray recipe, you'll find it here. And you can watch me make it here. Joy submitted this recipe to the Tip Store way back in 2008, and Wendy called it Miracle Spray in 2010, so I've been making and using it a long time. Miracle Spray is used to clean the bathrooms, shower, basins, toilet, hard floors and most other things that need cleaning. I also add it to the washing for sport clothes and Wayne's dark work clothes.
This morning I half filled a dishwashing detergent bottle with water and topped it up with full strength detergent - two bottles of dishwashing detergent for the price of one and it works just as well at half-strength as it does at full strength.
These days I like Morning Fresh dishwashing detergent, and when it comes on half-price sale (two or three times a year) I will replenish the stock so I always have six bottles in the cupboard.
So what's in my cleaning stockpile?
Where do I buy cleaning ingredients?
Borax and dishwashing detergent come from Aldi (the borax is a special buy - keep an eye open in the catalogue for when it comes on sale as it's around half the price of borax from the supermarket and in a reasonably sized tub).
Laundry soap and dishwasher powder come from Coles. They are both generic. Coles have stopped stocking the You'll Love Coles dishwasher powder, and have switched to a "concentrated" powder in a blue plastic jug that is twice the price. I'm not as happy with it, it doesn't do any better a job than the $2.20 a kilo powder. I have also tried Aldi dishwasher powder, but my dishwasher doesn't like it, nor does it like the pods, so I'm stuck with the Coles powder for now. You'll find laundry soap in the cleaning aisle, usually on either the very top shelf or the very bottom shelf near the laundry powders.
Dishwasher powder is normally on the bottom shelf with the dishwasher powders.
Eucalyptus oil and lavender oil I buy direct from Bosistos. They have great sales and this year they had a 4 litre bottle that I was able to share with friends that brought the cost down to $23 a litre - the cheapest price at the time for pure eucalyptus oil.
Citric acid and washing soda come in 5kg buckets direct from Aurora Cleaning Supplies in Dandenong South.
White vinegar I buy at Aldi.
Bicarbonate soda can be bought in 5kg bags from Costco. If you don't have a Costco membership then you can buy it from pool shops under the name "ph buffer". Just be prepared to have to buy it in bulk - perhaps you could share it with a couple of friends.
What do I make with these ingredients?
There's not a lot in the cleaning stockpile. Every item has multiple uses and can be mixed with the other ingredients to keep our home clean without spending a fortune and using lots of chemical based cleaners.
Use them for Easter, for birthday parties, to hold small gifts - these very cute, super easy little baskets are quick and inexpensive and a great way to use up that stash of paper or cardstock you have.
Make them larger, from 30cm cardstock, line them with a paper doyley and they're perfect for delivering a gift of home baked muffins or biscuits too.
You will need:
18cm square of heavy paper or cardstock
1 x 30cm strip of paper or cardstock 2.5cm wide (handle)
Fancy scissors (optional, but they give a pretty edge to the baskets)
Step 1. Score your paper into three columns 6cm wide. Then score three rows 6cm wide. You'll have a grid of nine squares on your paper (see the template).
Note: You can make these baskets any size, as long as your square can be divided into nine equal sections.
Step 2. Cut the decorative edge along the edges parallel to the red lines (see the template).
Step 3. Cut on the red lines.
Step 4. Fold the paper on all score lines, with the decorative side to the outside.
Step 5. Punch a hole in the centre of each end of the basket handle about 2.5cm from the edge. Punch a hole in the centre of each end of the strip of paper for the handle about 2.5cm from the edge.
Step 6. Fold the two corner squares so they overlap each other and the centre square on one side of the basket. The centre square should be on the inside of the corner squares.
Step 7. Punch a hole in the centre, through all three layers, about 2.5cm down. Put one end of the handle between the two corner squares and the centre square, and attach a brad through all the layers. Repeat for the other side.
8 vine-ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
3 medium sized orange sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 eggplants, thickly sliced
3 red capsicum, cut into 8 pieces
5 zucchini, thickly sliced lengthwise
200g mushrooms, sliced
sea salt for sprinkling
375g fresh lasagna sheets
1 kg fresh ricotta
¼ cup chopped basil leaves
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
¾ cup cream
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup grated mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplants, capsicums, zucchini and mushrooms on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 40 minutes or until tender and golden. To make the ricotta filing , combine the ricotta, basil, parsley, eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Grease a 32cm x 22 cm or similar ovenproof baking dish. Line with some of the lasagne sheets. Place half of the vegetables on top, then another lasagne sheet. Spoon over half of the ricotta mixture, then place another layer of lasagne sheets on top. Continue layering, finishing with the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and bake for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Note:You can use dry lasagne sheets that have been cooked in boiling water until soft.
Use MOO Cottage Cheese instead of the ricotta to make this dish cheaper.
From the Vegetarian Recipe File
Here is an idea to vamp up Easter and give a new look treat to friends and family that you are able to put your own twist on!
You will need:
Ice cream cones or waffle cones
Chocolate Easter ornaments
Lollies of your choosing
Mini chocolate eggs
Step 1. Fill your cone ¾ of the way full with your lollies.
Step 2. Put your chocolate on top of the lollies (you can put more lollies around it to help stabilize it).
Step 3. Next you take your mini eggs and fill the cone the rest of the way.
Step 4. Wrap your cones in cellophane and tie with curling ribbon so they look like a “carrot”.
Note: You may need help with making these so you can use an ice cream cone holder or another person to hold them for you.
All of this will cost you around $1.10 - $1.20 per cone.
From the Special Occasions: Easter Tip Store
Grow your own. It's not really hard and can be so satisfying. When tomatoes are $5/kg and you have bushels of them on your plants you'll have a smile on your face.
You don't need to have huge garden beds and spend hours and hours in the garden. You can start with a styro foam box (ask your greengrocer, just don't tell him you're going into the grow your own business).
Plant lettuces, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, silverbeet, capsicums, eggplant, parsley, mint, chives - whatever you eat - in these boxes and sit back and watch your savings grow.
Visit the Gardening Tips pages in the Menber's Centre to get some expert advice on just how to get started and then jump right in, just like Deb Parker did.
"Since I mastered the art of pot gardening last summer I have managed to keep my family (five of us) in vegetables all year. The only veggies I have bought for twelve months have been potatoes and onions. I started with two concrete pots with tomatoes in them and have moved on. I now have 49 concrete pots of varying sizes placed around the sides of our house and each one has something growing in it. Oh, I didn't buy the pots. I looked up our council hard rubbish calendar and on the first day of each hard rubbish collection in our bordering areas I spent an hour driving around collecting pots. I haven't had to buy any. I cleaned them and painted them inside and out before planting, to help them retain the moisture. They look great and better still they are saving me money."
Contributed by Deb Parker