Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Change of blog URL

Tonight (ie in 8 hours) I'm going to change the URL for this blog from to

Hope it doesn't affect anyone too much!

Fiona @ Feebeez

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Linked to by the Veggie Queen

My post on the Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker has been linked to by The Veggie Queen, who is a pressure cooking advocate and also a cooking teacher, Registered Dietitian and writer. Her goal is to get everyone to eat in a more green, sustainable and low-impact way -- more vegetables and vegetarian food, raw or quickly cooked in a pressure cooker.

The Veggie Queen also has a DVD, website .

Non-Chilli Con Carne

Non-Chilli Con Carne
(modified from recipe on tin of Masterfoods Red Kidney Beans)

Serves 4

440g red kidney beans, drained
2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic
500g minced beef
425g can crushed or diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp cumin
Note: Original recipe included 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder, however I've removed this so that the kids will eat the meal!

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add meat and cook until brown. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ottober 2/2006#1 t-shirt

Yesterday I completed my second attempt at Ottobre 2/2006#1. This time I made it up in a very good quality knit from Knit Wit. The only pattern modification I made was to lengthen the sleeves, other than that it is exactly the same as the navy trial t-shirt that I made earlier.

This fabric doesn't have as much stretch as the navy, and it make is very apparent that I should be using the next size up.

I'm really happy with how the v-neck turned out. I didn't struggle with the V like I did with the navy shirt. The only problem.... the white overlocking is just peeking out from under the self-binding. You can only see it if you are at the right angle, so I think it is still wearable. I certainly don't fancy unpicking the binding and reapplying.

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Christmas Cake in the pressure cooker - Part 2

A quick update on how the pressure-cooker Christmas Cake turned out.

From the same batch of cake batter I made a cake in the pressure cooker and also one in the oven. Interestingly, the pressure cooker cake has a much darker appearance. It also has a lot more moisture.

The pressure cooker cake worked out OK. The texture isn't what you'd expect of a Christmas Cake. It is more pudding-like. It is very moist and tasty. (We've been eating it as I wasn't sure if it was a success and I didn't want to risk it).

I'm not sure if I'll bake the cake in the pressure cooker again (I suppose I would if I was pressed for time). I will definitely marinate the fruit in the pressure cooker - that worked out really well and the smell in the kitchen was divine.

Menu Monday - 24th Nov

The freezer contains frozen lamb chops, rump steak, chicken breast, beef mince and beef sausages. Consequently the menu plan for this week is:

Grilled lamb chops, mashed potato (with hidden Brussels sprouts), corn-on-the-cob, and broccoli
Honey Mustard Chicken (pressure cooker)
Fan-fried rump steak with potato salad and green salad
Non-chilli Chilli Con Carne
Grilled sausages with potato salad and green salad
Fish cakes

Other menu ideas can be found at I'm An Organising Junkie.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

potential change of blog url

It annoys me that my blog name (Feebeez) and my blog URL aren't at all similar. Blogger will let me change the URL from to .... I just need to know how much it will bother my readers.

If you don't want me to make this change, please comment, otherwise in a week or so I'll be changing the URL. (I'll warn you before it happens).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tomato Topped Macaroni Cheese (microwave)

Tomato Topped Macaroni Cheese
from The Women's Weekly Microwave Cookbook

60g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup tasty cheese, grated
6 cups cooked macaroni (2 cups dry macaroni = 6 cups cooked)
2 tomatoes thinly sliced
1/2 cups grated cheese (extra)
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Combine butter & onions in a shallow dish, cook on HIGH for 5 minutes or until onions are tender. Add flour, cook on HIGH 1 minute.

Blend in milk, cook on HIGH 3 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens, stirring occasionally. Add cheese & macaroni.

Pour into deep dish, top with tomato and combined extra cheese and Parmesan cheese. Cook on HIGH 6 minutes or until heated through.

Note: is nice with a teaspoon of mustard blended in at the same time as the flour.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

While the cat's away....

Ruby never sleeps during the day unless she is sick. However, today little Snow White (she is in costume) has passed out on Roberts bed and is snoring loudly. If only her little sister would do the same thing! Unfortunately Laura has decided that she is NOT going to sleep.

I find it so amusing that Ruby will only sleep during the day if she can pinch her brother's bed.

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Christmas Cake - in the Pressure Cooker - Part 1

I am being a bit experimental with this year's Christmas Cake. That's right - I'm going to make it in the pressure cooker. Miss Vickie's Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes devotes a number of pages to Fruitcakes and she indicates that Fruitcakes cooked by the method she describes will be moist and divine. "A genuine fruitcake is sinfully rich, moist, delicious, and studded with a cornucopia of plump, naturally sweet (not candied!) dried fruits soaked in spirits and mixed with complex spices, and there's not a green candied thing in the lot". It is quite an interesting read as she goes into details on how to 'feed' the fruitcake once it has been cooked (regardless of how it was cooked). This is something I've always wanted to know but have never had the information. I should have Googled it a long time ago.

Today I prepared the fruit for the fruitcake. I've "super marinated" it by putting the dried fruit, port, and cheesecloth bag of spices into the pressure cooker for 2 minutes. It certainly smells yummy! Tonight I will cook the cake. Fingers crossed that it will work out OK

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

7 Minute Risotto

7 Minute Risotto (From Pressure Perfect, by Lorna Sass)
Serves 4 as an entrée and 6 as a side dish

This is such an easy Risotto. It only takes 4 minutes at pressure, and then requires stirring for approximately 3 minutes.1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup finely chopped onions
1½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
3½ to 4 cups Homemade Chicken Stock
1 teaspoon salt (optional, depending on how salty the Stock is)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more if needed
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Note: To the above, you can add various extras, such as meat and vegetables. I particularly like adding Butternut Pumpkin. Items that need a reasonable amount of cooking should be added just before sealing the lid. Items requiring little cooking (eg peas) should be added after depressurising.

Heat oil in cooker. Add onions and cook over high heat for 1 min, stirring often. Stir in the rice, taking care to coat it with the oil.

Stir in the wine (careful you don’t get spattered). Cook over high heat until rice has absorbed the wine. Stir in 3½ cups stock and salt (if using). Scrape up any rice sticking to the bottom of the cooker.

Lock lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce heat just enough to maintain pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Quick-release by setting the cooker under cold running water. Remove the lid.

Set cooker over medium heat and stir vigorously. (The risotto will look soupy at this point). Cook uncovered, stirring every minute or so, until the mixture thickens and the rice is tender but still chewy (around 3 – 5 mins). If mixture becomes too try before the rice is done, stir in the remining ½ cup stock. The finished risotto should be slightly runny as it will continue to thicken as it sits on the plate.

Turn off heat. Stir in cheese, salt & pepper to taste, and the parsley.

Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker

I adore my pressure cooker and I much prefer it over my slow cooker. I use my pressure cooker once or twice a week, while the slow cooker gets used only once a month or so.

I generally find the pressure cooker more versatile. Here are the the advantages that I see it has:

a) There isn't a minimum of food that needs to be cooked. You do however need a minimum of liquid. For my very large pressure cooker it is 1 cup.

b) You can brown the food directly in the pressure cooker before cooking, thereby reducing cleanup.

c) You can cook an amazing range of food in it. Obviously there are the traditional stews, but you can also do risotto, cheesecake, custard, and Christmas cake. Risotto is brilliant ... it takes about 7 minutes of cooking and only about 3 minutes of stirring. I'll be posting a risotto recipe soon.

d) You can cook multiple items at the same time. For example, to make a curry I put the curry ingredients in the bottom of the pressure cooker, then I balance a bowl of rice & water on top of the curry. The two take the same amount of time to cook and aren't mixed together during the cooking process.

e) I find the pressure cooker easier to clean than the slow cooker.

f) You can use the pan from the pressure cooker for other things where you need a really big pot - like jam making.

g) I prefer the taste of the things I make in the pressure cooker. It may just be the recipes I am using, but I've had some really big disasters in the slow cooker (and they've always involved a large quantity of food).

h) I like not having to plan so far in advance to cook my food. Sometimes I'm not organised enough to get the slow cooker on in the morning, and sometimes I'm not home at the right time to turn it on. I can't find a reference to double check this ... but I seem to remember that something that take 6 to 8 hours to cook in the slow cooker would take 20 mins to an hour in the pressure cooker.

For further reading, including info on the correct and safe usage of pressure cookers, and how to select a pressure cooker, see: Miss Vickie's. Also see The Pressure Cooker Centre. I'm not affiliated with either of these sites.

As to recipe books, I'd recommend both. :
- Miss Vickie's Big Book or Pressure Cooker Recipes, but Vickie Smith
- Pressure Perfect by Lorna Sass (I don't think I've had a single recipe from this book that I disliked)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock
based on a recipe from Miss Vickie's "Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes"

1kg bones
500g root vegetables, coarsely chopped
3 cups aromatic vegies (eg onions, garlic, shallots, celery stalks & leaves, parsley, leeks)
500g leafy vegetables
2 bay leaves
10 peppercorns

Toss everything into the pressure cooker and cover with water. WARNING - be careful not to overfill the pressure cooker. It should be less than 3/4 full. Lock lid in place and bring to pressure. Once at pressure, reduce heat to the lowest possible setting whilst maintaining pressure. Keep at this setting for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let pressure cooker naturally cool down and depressurise. Once cooker has depressurised, strain stock and then refrigerate the liquid for a few hours. This lets the fat solidify on the surface. Skim fat off stock, divide stock into portions and freeze.

Stock is great to use in soup or risotto.

Menu Planning Monday - 17th November

Last week, I was focusing on restocking the freezer and I managed to put three or four meals in there. I did that by doubling 'freezer friendly' recipes that I made during the week.

I was very grateful for the freezer meals as I've spent the last 24 hours in bed vomiting with gastro. Actually, planning the next week of meals is the last thing I want to be doing, but I'm going to plough on.

I've also put up a post Pressure Cookers vs Slow Cookers.

Corned Beef, mashed potato & green veg
Grilled stead & salad
HomemadeChicken Stock (in pressure cooker)
7 Minute Risotto (in pressure cooker)
Macaroni Cheese (microwaved)
Homemade Pizza & Salad
Curried Sausages
Fish Cakes
Lamb Chops & Salad

As I did last week, I'll try and upload some recipes to my blog during the week, so stay tuned. Also check out I'm An Organising Junkie for other menu ideas.

Friday, November 14, 2008

photos - Ottobre 2/2007 #12 skirt

I completed the skirt last night.

It was fantastic to sew. Went together like a breeze and was incredibly quick. There is no facing or waistband - just a petersham ribbon. Gave it a nice finish and really speeded up the sewing.

The fit isn't brilliant. As I mentioned yesterday I had to make the waist 2 sizes smaller than the hips and THEN take out an extra 5cm. Even then the skirt is a bit big in the waist. Kind of baggy between my waist and my saddlebags. The degree of curve to the hip made the zip hard to apply and it doesn't sit that well. Next time I'll do a seam at centre back and put the zip there.

Overall I'm pretty happy and I'll make the skirt again with some modifications for fit.

Edited to correct the design number: The skirt is from Ottobre 02/07 #12 (not #10 as my original post stated).

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ottobre 2/2007 #12 straight skirt

I'm gearing up to sew a pair of trousers from Ottobre ... but I am starting off by sewing a straight skirt so that I can work out my basic 'Ottobre adjustments' first. Last night I cut out began sewing the straight skirt from Ottobre issue 2/2007. Despite cutting the waist 2 sizes smaller than the hips, I still had to take out an extra 5cm from the waist.

I'm really happy with how the skirt is progressing. I'm making it from a soft corduroy, which I grabbed from Textile Traders for $2AUD/metre (reduced from $7.99). The print on the fabric is "OK" and the texture/weight feels perfect for the pattern. As this skirt is being used as a 'muslin' I haven't used my favorite stash fabric.

I'll put some photos up tomorrow once I've charged the camera battery :)

Edited to correct the design number: the skirt is from Ottobre 02/07 design #12 (not #10!!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slow Cooked Lamb Chops in Worcestershire Sauce

I very fast and simple low-fat dish that the kids and adults love. Lovely flavours of sweet and sour.

Note: This recipe was provided to me with the name "Slow Cooked Buggered Lamb Chops". I have altered the name due to some of the meanings of the word 'Buggered'. I'd also like to point out that in Australia, the term has both positive and negative meanings and I'm sure the original recipe name didn't refer to sodomy.

Slow Cooked Lamb Chops in Worcestershire Sauce

1 kg lean lamb (I use lamb rump steak or diced lamb)
1 single onion, sliced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup sugar

Put chops and onion in the slow-cooker. In a jug, combine the remaining ingredients and the pour them into the slow-cooker. Cook for approximately 8 hours on lowest heat setting.

You can adjust the quantity of sauce, depending on how much meat there is. Simply use equal quantities of each of the sauce ingredients.

Best served with mashed potato.

self-drafted tube skirt disaster

I've been doing a bit of sewing lately, but am churning out a few disasters.

I had a large amount of bitter brown synthetic lycra in my stash. I don't love the fabric, but it is a great base colour for my wardrobe. I decided a quick tube skirt was in order.

Cut a rectangle of fabric:
- The length is the finished length plus an allowance for hem and elastic casing.
- Width is your widest part (hips), plus 5cm ease, plus seam allowance.
- Remember to remove the selvages prior to cutting the rectangle. My disaster involved leaving the selvages on when I cut the rectangle. I then removed the selvages and ended up with a skirt that was too tight. I've managed to find a new home for the skirt, so I haven't had to throw it in the bin.
- The skirt has one seam. You may want to leave a slit at the bottom for walking space. You can wear the split at the centre back, or on the side seam.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the Ottobre sewing I've been doing. I've got a few fitting issues as my waist is 2 sizes smaller than my hips.

Monday, November 10, 2008

free t-shirt folding machine

I can't remember which blog I was reading when I came across This video, detailing how to construct a cardboard t-shirt folding machine. I am going to make one on the weekend!

I also found this very quick method of manually folding a t-shirt. The second video shows it step-by-step so you can work out what on earth is going on!

Glazed Lentil Beef Loaf

Glazed Lentil Beef Loaf (modified)
From "FoodCents" from the Health Department of Western Australia

Serves 8
Preparation time: 10 minutes (plus 1 hour soaking time)
Cooking time: 1 hour

1/3 cup brown lentils, dry (1 cup cooked)
500g lean mince
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 egg, eaten
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup low-fat milk
Sprig of fresh rosemary, wood removed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Add boiling water to lentils, cover and stand for 1 hour. Drain.
Mix together lentils, mince, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, egg, onion, milk & rosemary.
Place in a lightly greased loaf tin and bake for 40 minutes at 180C. mix brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce together and spread over loaf using a knife. Bake for a further 20 minutes and serve.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder - serves 4
Freezes well

1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 cup milk
1 cup water
425g tin tuna (in brine or water) , drained
1 tablespoon chicken stock powder

Place water, onion, celery, carrot and sweet corn into a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes.

In another saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in the plain flour. return to heat and stir until sizzling. Remove from heat and gradually stir in milk. when combined, stir in contents of other saucepan. Add chicken stock powder. Bring back to the boil, stirring frequently until thickened. Stir in drained tuna and heat through.

Menu Planning Monday

I used to do menu planning, and then got out of the habit. However, after a couple of weeks of struggling with last minute dinner ideas, I've decided to begin menu planning again.

Here is the plan for the week. I also need to restock the freezer, so where possible I'll be doubling recipes and freezing them. All the links take you to recipes from my recipe collection.

fish chowder
No Pastry Quiche - and salad
spinach pie - with mashed 'golden potato', peas, and cauliflower
Slow Cooked Buggered Lamb Chops
- served with mashed potato and broccoli
Glazed Lentil Beef Loaf - with roast potato, pumpkin, parsnip and steamed peas
non-chilli con carne - served on rice with a side salad
pan fried snapper fillets & veg

For more great menu ideas, head on over to I’m an Organizing

Friday, November 7, 2008

Replacement timer for my Tefal Clipso Control Pressure Cooker

My Clipso Control pressure cooker includes a very handy timer, which automatically starts 'counting down' the moment my pressure cooker gets to the correct pressure. Unfortunately the timer doesn't like water. It especially doesn't like having chicken stock poured over it. I tried that two days ago. *sob*

The Pressure Cooker Centre priced a replacement at $99.95. OUCH!! They also suggested drying it with a hairdryer, and then leaving it under the 'fridge for a couple of days and hoping. (The fridge removes moisture from the air).

Happy news of the day is that the fridge treatment seems to have worked. The timer is now fine!!!!

'Twas a magpie

Update on the nesting honeyeaters:

It was a magpie that raided the nest. It came back again whilst I was washing the evening dishes. It had another go at the nest, but I don't think it got anything. The honeyeaters don't appear to have returned to the nest since the first incident.

A shame really, but it has also been very interesting to see the nest raided.

I did get up on a stepladder to have a look at the nest, but I was still too low to see into the nest. I am sure that any remaining chicks or eggs would have perished by now.

Yahoo Groups frustration

In one of the Yahoo Groups that I use, there is another person who posts under the name Fiona H. They were in the group before me, so I need to change my nickname ... or author name... or whatever Yahoo Groups calls it. Ages ago I made such a change and I can't remember how I did it. I think Yahoo have changed things as it certainly wasn't this hard previously.

I have literally spent a number of hours trying to change my name. I still can't do it! Yahoo seems to have so many different names/nicknames in different locations.

Please please please can someone help me????


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Fiona's No Pastry Quiche

What are you having for dinner?

Tonight we're having my "No Pastry Quiche", which is a family favorite. As the name suggests, it doesn't use pastry. Instead, flour is mixed into the egg mixture, which settles a bit during cooking, creating a 'base' for the quiche.

No Pastry Quiche
Freezes well
Fast preparation

60g cheese (or to taste)
meat eg bacon, ham, chicken, tuna
4 spring onions, chopped
1/2 capsicum, chopped

Egg mixture:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped, to taste

Spray quiche dish with cooking spray. Scatter filling ingredients over base of dish.

In a jug/bowl, whisk components of the egg mixture together.

Pour egg mixture into quiche dish. Bake in a moderate oven (180c) for 40 to 45 minutes.

I modify the filling ingredients based on what is on hand. Pumpkin or zucchini makes a nice addition!

Lessons on life

About 3 weeks ago a couple of honey eaters decided to build a nest in a vine directly opposite the kitchen window. The nest is only about 2 metres away from the sink. The brave birds selected this nesting spot while we were away on holidays. I don't think they realised quite how much human traffic is normal (our washing line is directly below the nest). They have also coped with hubby using the electric hedge trimmers on the vine...

When we first noticed the nest it was in the very early stages of construction. You could really see the 'foundation' sticks that they based the nest on. It has been fascinating to watch. I've tried to peek into the nest to see how many eggs were laid, however it is too high up.

Over the last couple of days the activity at the nest has changed and I've seen more of both parents, rather than just the one sitting on the nest. This has made me suspicious that the eggs might have hatched.

DISASTER has now struck the brave birds. While we were eating lunch we saw a magpie or a mudlark raid the nest a fly off with something in its beak. (Hubby had a good look at the bird and always gets confused between mudlarks and magpies). I'm not sure if it stole an egg or a chick. I'm not sure if there is anything left in the nest, and if the honeyeaters will return to the nest. The kids saw it all happen too, which of course let to a torrent of WHY questions.

Fingers crossed that there are still some eggs/chicks and that the honeyeaters will return. I've really been looking forward to watching the little family grow up. It has certainly made washing dishes a little less boring!

Edited to add: It was definitely a magpie. It just made another attempt at stealing from the nest, but didn't appear to find anything. As yet the honeyeaters haven't returned...
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