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Nana’s Pickled Cucumbers

I remember vividly standing on a stool to reach Nana’s kitchen bench as I ‘helped’ her with preserves. Nana and Pa loved Christmas. Presents were ready for us to investigate in secret months before, carols played throughout December and rather than writing names on tags, Pa would create rhyming poems about each person so we had to guess who the gift was for.

They are memories I treasure, and I love to find time to make preserves for the Christmas period to continue such family traditions. This recipe is my favourite! To confess, that’s mainly because it is so quick and easy that I can either involve the kids, or do it quietly in the limited time after they go to bed. It also works really on platters when entertaining before Christmas, and it is amazing with left over Christmas Ham!

Pickled Cucumbers

  • 1kg Small Cucumber (I like to make a few large jars)
  • 1 Bunch Dill Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Peppercorns
  • 1 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard Speeds
  • Between 1/2  – 1 cup White Wine Vinegar*
  • Between 3 cups – 6 cups water*
  • Between 3 – 6 Tablespoons Sea Salt*

 

Four Easy Steps for Pickling.

Before you start you will need to sterilise your jars. I used to two 850ml Glass Jars. To sterilise, I find it easiest to simply place the jars into a deep saucepan, cover with water and then bring the water to the boil as I prepare everything. The jars are obviously very hot, so take extra care when removing, and filling the jars.

  1. Wash your Cucumbers, dry and cut. I like to quarter mine longways, as I think they look their best, however you can cut into slices for a more traditional result if you prefer
  2. Combine 1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar, 3 cups water and 3 Tablespoons Salt into a saucepan and bring to boil*
  3. Layer the Cucumber, Dill Leaves,  Peppercorns and Mustard Seeds into jars
  4. Pour the hot mixture over the jar contents and seal the jar immediately. *The amount of Vinegar, Water and Salt you require will vary dramatically depending on the jar size and design, and how closely packed the cucumbers are. If your jars don’t fill to the top, simply boil extra Vinegar, Water and Salt to the same relative quantities until you have enough to fill the jars to the brim.

Your Pickles Cucumbers will be ready to eat after a week, and will continue to get better for up to 6 months. Store the jar at room temperature until opened, and then once opened in the fridge to stay fresh. The jars will last up to 6 months unopened, and a few weeks in the fridge once opened. (Although they never last that long in our house!)

We would love to hear your favourite food traditions for the festive summer period.

We will be spending the season enjoying Nana’s Pickled Cucumbers and Matt’s Chill Jam,  as we gather together under our native Christmas Tree, and for the first time, share presents we have wrapped with our Handmade Reusable Wrap. I can’t wait!

Matt’s ‘borrowed’ Chilli Jam Recipe

A few years ago, one of our gorgeous team members Natasha missed our Christmas Party, and so she came to visit with her family over holiday period so we could celebrate the year together. Natasha arrived with a festive cheese platter, including a bright red jar of her husband’s Chilli Jam. I was addicted immediately, and eventually managed to get my hands on the recipe. Since that Christmas, Matt’s Chilli Jam is always in our fridge. It’s so easy to make, that you can do it while cooking dinner, and it transforms cheese platters, meals and my Sunday Eggs into a feast!

With permission, I’ve listed the recipe below.

Matt’s Chilli Jam 

  • 5 large Red Capsicums (Seeded and Chopped ready for blending)
  • A handful of Chilli’s (Homegrown if possible) Matt recommends 3 Bird eye Chilli’s and 1 Habanero.
  • 8 Garlic Cloves (Peeled) Aussie Grown if Possible
  • 12cm Ginger Root (Peeled and Chopped ready for Blending)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 2 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1 1/3 Cups Organic White Vinegar
  • 2 Bay Leaves

 

Four Easy Steps.

  1. Placed the Capsicum, Chilli’s, Ginger and Garlic in a food processor and blend until finely chopped.
  2. In a large saucepan, combined this mixture with the Sugar, Salt, Vinegar and bar leaf. Bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for approx. 40-50 minutes, stirring regularly and removing any surface scum. To check if it’s ready, you can lift the mixture with the back curve of a spoon to see if it has thickened.
  4. Remove the Bay Leaf. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Once cool, I then store these jars in the fridge waiting for visitors!

We would love to hear your favourite recipes or any tips you have for catering for unexpected guests over Christmas without risking an increase in food waste if people don’t drop in.

 

Three Steps for Simple Reusable Wrapping Paper

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Each year we like to challenge ourselves to live more sustainably. As a result, we very rarely put out our Landfill Bin and have managed to establish a really easy plastic-free packed lunch routine for the adults and kids alike.

 

At Christmas time, it does often seem a little more challenging. Our Christmas is a very large extended family affair with lots of children, and so after sharing gifts, we often end up with a floor of wrapping. Whilst we always purchase recycled paper and reuse or recycle, there is no doubt we can do better.

This year we have committed to making our own reusable Christmas Wrapping, which we will repack with the decorations for next year. I’m certainly a sewing novice, and am hoping that no one looks too closely at the stiches, however in truth, the process was a lot quicker and easier than I expected. Our 10 year old even ended up sewing for the first time and took over the production side!

Step One
Choose your Material & optional Trim. We were unable to purchase any recycled material unfortunately, so selected a Linen option, as it is a little more sustainable using much less water to produce compared to cotton. We purchased 5 meters, with a number of presents to wrap. We also decide to use a trim, and given the kids chose, we selected the brightest most festive options possible.

 

 

Step Two
Cut the material to size. We wanted to have a generous gathering to knot the top, so we simply folded the fabric over on the diagonal to mark out large squares and then cut. We then cut some squares into four squares, resulting in a few large and some smaller wraps.

Note – The knot design we have chosen does use a lot of material. Instead if you use ribbon to secure the material in a more traditional way, the fabric can be cut closer to the size of the gifts being wrapped. This will means you will get more wraps out of the same material.

Step Three.
Fold the edge and then iron to secure the fold. Repeat this again to create a double fold. Using a sewing machine, sew the double fold into place. We also added our ribbon trim as we stitched to save time, however you can separate these steps if you prefer. Given the wrap will only be used to secure gifts, a single stitch will suffice.

 

 

It’s as simple as that. We then placed treasures such as the Christmas Kitchen Caddy Kit onto the centre of the wrap and knotted both corners to fold. One thing to note, the gifts are easily unwrapped, so I will be adding some extra ribbon to secure the knot for those who won’t be able to resist peaking at what’s under the tree.. like the kids and Pete!

We would love to hear any other ideas you have for making Christmas even more sustainable.

Our family always gather under our Native Australian Christmas Tree, and we have some favorite old-fashion recipes we prepare every year to help us reduce our food waste. You can check them out here, Matt’s Stolen Chilli Jam Recipe, Nana’s Pickled Cucumbers