How to make a hay box

Hay box cooking was popular during World War II when fuel was rationed. It is a way to save energy by turning off the oven or burner just before the food is completely cooked, and the allowing your food to continue cooking in a hay box. The lid of your pot needs to fit tightly to keep the heat in.

  • You will need a box made from plastic or metal. Fill it with dry hay
  • Cook your food in the usual way until it is hot but not completely cooked.
  • Turn off the heat, then quickly place the pot or pan into a hay box on a layer of straw. Make sure you cover the pot with more hay and seal the lid.
  • Leave for a few hours while your food continues to cook in your insulated homemade oven. Plan well ahead – the normal cooking time for this method is 4-5 hours, though it varies greatly depending on what you’re cooking. Experiment, but make very sure that any meat is fully cooked through.

Self Sufficiency for the 21st Century
– by Dick and Jack Strawbridge

Has anyone tried hay box cooking?

Do you think you could use sugar cane mulch?

Would you recommend cooking meat this way?

Review: Farm Fresh Organics delivery

I’ve been keen to trial organic box delivery, but when I did my research awhile ago our suburb wasn’t included in the drop-off zone. I’ve since found Farm Fresh Organics and we’ve had two deliveries so far.

The first week we ordered a mixed medium box of organic fruit and vegetables on the Tuesday. A Styrofoam box with ice packs was delivered a few days later containing: 1 leek, 1 cos lettuce, 3 zucchini, 1kg carrots, 4 onions, 8 mushrooms, 1/4 kent pumpkin, 1/2 cauliflower, 1 1/2 broccoli, 1/4 cabbage, 1 corn cob, 4 apples, 4 bananas, 3 sweet mandarins and 8 oranges. Phew.

Matt was concerned that he liked to feel, smell and select what he wanted to buy, but we were more then happy with the quality of the produce. One night Mattt steamed some grocery carrots mixed with organic carrots. He then asked me which where the organic ones! I selected the wrong ones based on colour. The grocery ones were bright orange and quite hard. The organic ones were duller but softer and tasted nicer.

Another concern was the cost. Organics can quickly add up, but we found that we could keep the price down by selecting produce in season and sticking to a spending limit. We also found that some things had a similar price to non-organic produce in the supermarkets. We ate everything, except the lettuce and some onions. I like to think of it as an investment in our health, and the mixed box is a good deal.

This week we decided to select individual items for our order. This time we got a bigger box, so it wan’t as packed. Matt got the scales out, but everything ended up being a little over what we were charged. A rare occurrence these days.

We also ordered some organic lamb chops, which were more gamey, with visible marbled fat. Matt said he’d order a different cut next time. I ordered my usual gluten-free loaf of bread and was impressed by how fresh it was!

The only draw back is now that we are eating more fruit and vegetables, we are probably making it harder on ourselves to become self sufficient!

Highly recommended.

Animal homes

Providing a dedicated home for the animals in your garden will contribute to their health and well-being. Encouraging native wildlife to nest or visit will ensure they return to your garden to play an active role in keeping down pest numbers. Did you know that micro-bats love eating mosquitoes and can catch up to 500 insects per hour?

Here are some alternative and funky animal homes to consider:

Nest boxes

Bat boxes

Bee hives

Chickens

Dogs and cats

Taking lunch

I’ve never been very good at taking lunch to work, but when I do it’s usually leftovers. It doesn’t help that I crave variety and hate stale bread so sandwiches are out.

Last year, I worked with a lovely accountant, who had a fabulous food preparation area. Everyone had closed-in bookshelves above our desks, and instead of storing paperwork there, she had a mini-kitchen. Her space included cutlery, plate, bowl, sharp knife, cereal, sugar and tea bags. She also had her own scrubbing brush and clean tea towels (a revolutionary idea for me, as I hated using the communal ones!)

Since then I’ve been more adventurous with my lunch preparations. I love the “The Top 100 Recipes for a Healthy Lunchbox” book as it gives a good range of options and also points out allergy friendly options. There are plenty of blogs dedicated to lunchbox ideas and they provide plenty of inspiration. Perhaps the most amazing one is the Vegan Lunch Box (and book).

Bento boxes communities and blogs include Bento ChallengeBento Lunch, Just Bento, and  What’s for lunch at our house. I love the way some people use cookie cutters to create fun shaped food, although I guess that’s really for the kids.

It’s good to have some dedicated containers for lunch. This will minimise your packaging waste and may help to stop your food from leaking in your bag. Look for heavy plastic containers (numbers 1, 2, 4 or 5) are best. Tupperware containers are a popular option. You may like to consider the following: