Wednesday, March 21, 2012


"Today is Monday, today is Monday,
 Monday is wash day,
 Everybody happy?
 Well, I should say!

 Today is Tuesday, today is Tuesday,
 Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day,
 Is everybody happy?
 Well, I should say!

 Today is Wednesday, today is Wednesday,
 Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing, 
    Monday is wash day,
 Is everybody happy?
 Well, I should say!

 Today is Thursday, today is Thursday,
 Thursday is baking, Wednesday is cleaning,
    Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day,
 Is everybody happy?
 Well, I should say!

 Today is Friday, today is Friday,
 Friday is fish, Thursday is baking,
   Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing,
   Monday is wash day,
 Is everybody happy?
 Well, I should say!"

What does the rhyme mean by "Friday is FISH"?? Well honestly I don't know. Google shed no light at all other than stating that the Roman Catholic church advocated eating fish on Fridays centuries ago. The reasons given for this varied. So go ahead cook fish or eat fish out or go fishing, this Friday.
I'm now going to take 'artistic license' and use this post not to talk about fish, but to deal with a household job with huge difficulties - DE-JUNKING or de-cluttering your house and your life - a fitting job for Fridays, or any day of the week.

" I discovered that people suffered acute guilt and actual damage from the junk that clutters their lives. I found that every one of us is a junker - and that it's the single biggest reason for personal unhappiness" 
To say anything in this area I once again must return to Don Aslett and his book, "Clutter's Last Stand: It's Time to De-Junk Your Life".
I hope his quote caught your attention because living in and with clutter affects, has consequences, creates habits, wastes time and money and energy, is a distraction, makes pressure.... every day in huge ways. The best way to test if this is true is to read on, put the advice you find into practice and re-evaluate the change in your life.
Just reading the word "JUNK" or the idea of having to DEAL with your clutter, may be raising your blood pressure right now. You could be considering deleting this post to head on to something less demanding. If you wish to stay a junk-a-holic then go right ahead, but if you would like help to quit your habit and gain some simple effective strategy, read on.
There are so many everyday innocent reasons why we get into cluttering up our homes with stuff. Don has great fun justifying the tendency with chapters such as "The Junkee Entrance Exam" "The Genealogy of Junk" "101 Feeble Excuses for Hanging on to Clutter" "Committing Junkicide" "The Economy of Clutter" and so on.
Don points out, our junk can be neatly packed away in out-of-sight areas, or be huge collections of gadgets, plastic bags, frozen food in the freezer, perfumed soaps, unidentified keys, knickknacks, left over paint, quaint old antiques, unwanted gifts, trophies, junk mail waiting to be looked at, unread newspapers, books, magazines, old photos, bulging clothes closets, chock-a-block garages, luggage bags ready for travel or returning from travel, and many many more.
1.  Kids junk ~ (A) Get rid of excess toys, clothes, games, sports equipment.
                          (B) Store stuff and rotate it.
                          (C) Give them a place for their stuff "if there's a place to put it, the chances are sixty percent better that it will get put there."
                          (D) Lower clothes hanging rods in cupboards so the kids can reach them.
                          (E) Put wheels on the toy box so kids can push it around for toy pick up.
2.  "How Do You Judge Value?" ~ "Judgements on the worth or worthlessness of things are in the end, your business, not mine....I'll be satisfied if I manage to make you stop and think about, weigh the worth of some of the 'valuables' you hoard, guard, polish, worship and display....  I know people who buy silver saddles and snow mobiles before putting braces on their children's crooked teeth. Fascination with trinkets passes, but a self-conscious child is cheated for fifty years."
3. "Keep it in Your Heart, Not Your Closet" ~ "We can't hang on to everything our loved ones ever owned or gave us, or even to all the things of theirs we find meaningful. But don't hurry to dispose of their belongings; keep them a while, meditate on them, store up the memories - then save a few most cherished items and give or throw away the rest."
4.  Miniaturize ~ This "is the art of taking a big piece of junk that has to go and reducing it to a little piece of junk that can discreetly stay around. ...pluck just a button off that shaggy dog sweater, snip a swatch of the wedding dress, press a rose bud instead of the bouquet. .... keep the elk's tooth instead of the elk'e head. ... For stirring memories a piece, symbol, or sample is as effective as the whole."
5.  Don's "Junk-Sorting Guidelines." ~ 
It IS junk if you can tick one or more of the following:-
 ___  it's broken - unrealistic to be fixed
 ___  "you've outgrown it physically or emotionally"
 ___  "you  have always hated it"
 ___  the size, colour, style is all wrong
 ___  it's not worth the effort to use it
 ___  "it wouldn't really affect you if you never saw it again"
 ___  "it generates bad feelings"
 ___  "you have to clean it, store it... but don't get much use or enjoyment out of it"
 ___  "it will shock, bore or burden the coming generation"
It is NOT junk if you can tick one or more of the following:-
 ___  it gives good feelings or love
 ___  "helps you make a living"
 ___  "will do something you need done"
 ___  it has 'significant' money value
 ___  "gives you more than it takes"
 ___  "will enrich or delight the coming generation"
6. "How to get Rid of It" ~ Don endorses Gladys Allen's method of getting rid of junk. You need 3 garbage bags - 1 for junk, 1 for charity, 1 to sort. You also need 1 box for emotional withdrawal.
Take the bags and box on a tour through the entire house, one room at a time. "Assign every junk suspect - every piece of loose clutter, clothing, magazine, toy, shoe, stray animal, unidentified child etc - to one of the bags or box."
"1. Junk - if it's broken, out of date, lost it's mate, out of style, ugly, useless, dead or moldy, then it's junk - DUMP IT"
"2. Charity - if it's still repairable or useful (to someone else) if it's the wrong, too little..big for you, bores you, or is simply an excess, chuck it in the charity bag ... - GIVE IT AWAY"
"3. Sort - all your loose, misplaced and homeless stuff that is still useful and needed, but that you haven't figured out where to park, put in the sort bag... - KEEP - SORT OUT IN A MONTH"
"4. Emotional withdrawal - inactive, unused, out dated sentimental stuff. - KEEP IN JUNK LIMBO FOR - MONTHS - THEN THROW IT AWAY"
Bag 1 and 2 can be finished with immediately. Bag 3 may sit for a long time as you realize you will require more time to decide what to do with the items in this bag."The longer it sits, the less you miss whatever was in there. You're getting along fine without that whole giant bag of 'good stuff' the longer it sits and the less you miss it. Finally the prospect of pitching most of it outweighs the dread of sorting it - and after pulling out and intelligently placing the things you do need, it's 3 bags down and one to go!"
"No matter how great our zeal to de-junk our lives, and no matter how firm our resolve to be ruthless and cold as we maraud our cupboards and denude our drawers, still, every now and then we uncover something we just can't bring ourselves to toss into the charity box...."
"So what we need to do is  get a box and label it "Emotional Withdrawal". Then when we're mercilessly de-junking with that predatory glint in our eye, and suddenly come upon one of those gripping things that it seems a sin to knowingly discard, then DON'T! Don't upset yourself and lose momentum by trying to argue with your emotions. Just pat it affectionately and lay it gently into your Emotional Withdrawal box." 
Store the box safely away and 6 months later get it out but "DO NOT OPEN IT OR PEEK INTO IT". Don says we will have forgotten what was in it and be ready to get rid of it - but - "if sentimental ties clearly demand a retrial, if an appeal to the Supreme Clutter Court is imminent, remark the bow "trial pending" and let it sit another 6 months".
I have found these methods really do work, they are fair and humane.
There is so much more in Don's book. 
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ make a start with one of the 6 suggestions from Don. If necessary have a reward ready for after the job's done. Happy de-junking!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Meal prep by our family last weekend - 5 photos
It was our youngest's birthday - table setting by I, pasta by J, pasta sauce by SM, birthday cake by L, cake decoration by Z, potato by V, asparagus by L&C, cheesecake by Z&C, chicken and roast vegies by C.

"Today is Monday, Today is Monday,
  Monday is wash day
  Everybody happy?
  Well, I should say!

  Today is Tuesday, Today is Tuesday,
  Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day
  Everybody happy?
  Well, I should say!

  Today is Wednesday, Today is Wednesday,
  Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing, 
   Monday is wash day
  Everybody happy?
  Well, I should say!

  Today is Thursday, Today is Thursday,
  Thursday is baking, Wednesday is cleaning, 
   Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day
  Everybody happy?
  Well, I should say!..."
"I am as keen as the next person to present my dinner guests with a frisky little entree, ultra fashionable main course and diva dessert. But my most discerning dinner guests are also my most frequent; they appear at the table three times a day expecting to be tantalised, nourished and satiated regardless of whether or not I feel like cooking.
...It is the relentlessness of feeding the family that makes it such a culinary challenge, whether the family is a couple dining at home, or a clan. If it were only about nutrition it would be simpler, but food is one of life's greatest pleasures and keeping it interesting, enjoyable and maintaining healthy approaches towards it add to the burden.
...With the need to fit meals around overtime, extra curricular activities and social engagements, it's little wonder many households have given up any attempt at a family mealtime, let alone a home-cooked meal.
Experts frequently tell us we should avoid eating on the run, consuming fast foods and snacking. The parenting professionals expound on the value of family mealtimes to strengthen the family unit, provide a forum for communication and create a feeling of belonging.
I'm with the experts on this one. Our family mealtimes have become more important as the kids have got older because often it is the only time of the day that we are all in the same place as the same time... And providing a meal every day that everyone will eat and enjoy remains a constant challenge. But I know without a doubt that food is more than fuel, and food thoughtfully and lovingly prepared nourishes more than just the body."
SOPHIE GRAY: "Destitute Gourmet. Everyday Smart Food For the Family"

To go to one of Sophie's cooking demonstration evenings is both an entertainment and education. The speed at which she can work, while simultaneously logically talking with dashes of humour, is fantastic. she's honest but stimulating, and here again in this quote, she nails the points that vie in cooking at home - constant meal production, the need to keep it interesting and healthy.
As a meal-maker it is common for us to get hooked on one of these points at the expense and loss of the others.
How are YOU doing at the moment in keeping a balance of these three points?   
1. Constant meal production.
Yes it's meant to be blurrred.
How can you get around the constant production of meals, especially with busy lives, changing schedules, special diets and individual likes and dislikes for certain foods? Well, to prevent drowning, you must ~
(A) be Stimulated and Inspired to keep going.
As in so many areas of life, if parents are excited, inspired and enjoying themselves, they excite, inspire and teach enjoyment to their kids. Our pleasure becomes theirs. This works in the food area too. Cook food which you are excited about and brings pleasure to you - possibly from your childhood or from a holiday in a place with great food memories. Your excitement in preparing, eating and sharing the food communicates infectious pleasure to the family.
(B) Take Short-Cuts.
I love to bake our own bread, but to survive at times I buy sliced bread. The same with Italian sauce, or a supermarket ready-made salad, a BBQ chicken even a frozen meal which only needs to be heated up.
(C) Cook Double the Volume.
Instead of just cooking for tonight, cook double the quantity and freeze half of it to eat next week. I really got into this system at one point. The kids were involved washing, peeling. cutting, stirring... There was a book around at the time called "The Once  Month Cook". My version was to choose 5 to 6 meals we loved and cook enough of each for 5 to 6 meals of each, totalling 25 to 36 meals, all popped into the freezer, ready for use. It did take a lot of time to prepare these meals, even though it was convenient to have the easy task to make dinner. But as our family grew in numbers, meal sizes also grew and it became ridiculously hard space-wise to fit this number of meals into the freezer. So I simply went back to  cooking double sized meals a couple of times each week and freezing them for the following week.
2. Interesting and enjoyable food.

How do you keep cooking interesting and enjoyable food at home? Most of us enjoy buying a new pair of shoes, article of clothing, tennis racquet or car. It makes life more interesting and enjoyable using the something new. We can justify the purchase because the old one has worn out. This is true too of the food we eat at home. It can become so familiar and mundane that it's like an old worn out pair of socks. It does the job of filling our stomach, but doesn't bring much joy.

You can find interesting ideas for cooking by swapping recipes with friends, neighbours, work colleagues, parents and grand parents. The TV is full of cooking programs, the internet and endless source of food information. Find out what other cultures eat for breakfast or how they cook chicken - and have a go yourself.
If you have good friends who are a different nationality to yourself, you could offer to cook them a meal from your tradition each month and swap it for one of theirs. The possibilities are endless - no excuses for boring food today!

3. Healthy eating.

In my once a month posts entitled "Healthy Eating in...", I am attempting to provide ongoing examples of how to include both uncommon healthy ingredients into meals and how to prepare and enjoy common ingredients in a different way.

Along with the need for meals to be healthy and interesting to eat, there is the need for cooking to fill the slot in your family's life that you want it to. For example, some of our friends have the approach to preparing a meal which makes the cooking a crucial part of the time together. When we visit, it's rather like a restaurant in action, where we all participate. It's slow, relaxed, warm and friendly. We may snack and drink as we work away cooking together, but there's room to eat the meal once made. To them, preparing the meal and eating the meal are equally important experiences. 
Then we have other friends, where with their busy lifestyles, a simply prepared meal is ready as soon as we arrive. We get straight into eating, tidy up the mess and then relax and talk talk talk.
As Sophie Gray says, "food is more than fuel", so think about how you as a family are experiencing food. If food is regularly on a tray in front of the TV - then turn it off, put a cloth on the table or floor, sit around it and learn to listen and talk to each other.
You may like to read some other posts on this topic - I'M CONFUSED WHAT IS HEALTHY EATING?  OR  FAMILY DINNER
There is also the area of baking - sweet and savoury treats for snacks, desserts and bread. Each of these are a huge world of their own, which most children, if shown, would find fascinating to explore. If you think your child would find no or little interest, turn on your TV and watch an episode of Junior Master Chef, and you will change your mind.
We are so privileged to live at a time when so much food information is very accessible. So we have no excuses!
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ as I have written before, kids can be a part of meal preparation. Starting with pre-schoolers, they can learn simple tasks from washing vegetables and fruit and arranging them on a platter, to cutting it into pieces. Older kids can learn cooking procedures, to begin with as your helper and increasingly independently cook the whole meal. Give them some freedom in recipe choices and they will be off.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


                           "Today is Monday, today is Monday
                            Monday is wash day,
                            Everybody happy?
                            Well, I should say!

                            Today is Tuesday, today is Tuesday
                            Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash day,
                            Everybody happy?
                            Well, I should say!

                            Today is Wednesday, today is Wednesday
                            Wednesday is cleaning, Tuesday is ironing, Monday is wash 
                            Everybody happy?
                            Well, I should say!"

This post on Cleaning, is part 2 in the series, "Some Plans to Simplify Household Jobs".
It all sounds so easy and so organized! Could it really be like this? From the start I have to confess I have times when our house is regularly clean and tidy and other times, like now, a week after our daughter's wedding and relatives staying, when life's routines are overridden. I am not complaining, mind you, as the past weeks have all been great fun. But if you have a system, you know what you are doing and cleaning becomes easier.
Over twenty years ago a friend at that time told me about an American who had written a few hilarious books on cleaning. She had found the books in the local library, so I borrowed, re-borrowed time and time again, Don Aslett's "IS THERE LIFE AFTER HOUSEWORK?"
I picked up and put into action principles which he suggested. I still follow a lot of his simple ideas and intend to write about my version in this post. But first some background on the man.
"No one's time should be wasted cleaning needlessly or inefficiently" Don Aslett. 
"Housework is, in fact, never ending and little appreciated. There is no superwoman homemakers - most women are barely managing, meeting daily crises and demands, just like you are, wondering too what's wrong with them. It's amazing that no real training is provided for the most complicated, life-affecting job on earth:homemaking." Don Aslett's blog February 10 2011.
Don Aslett is not a nobody. As a university student he began cleaning homes as a part-time job. His job grew, so he employed other students to clean alongside him. This escalated, resulting in him forming his cleaning company. A press release in 2007 stated his American wide company "Varsity Contractors" had 5000 employers, 3000 subcontractors and annual sales of $250million. So maybe he has some advice worth listening to.
 :\|/:A    Don has a FOUR STEP METHOD IN CLEANING which he applies to cleaning objects and surfaces in and out of the house, along with cleaning walls, ceilings and floors. He says ~
"Cleaning should be done with your head, not your hands....IN FOUR EASY STEPS.
         1. ELIMINATE - sweep, dust mop, brush or wipe all dirt, gravel, crumbs and other loose material from the surface.
         2. SATURATE - apply cleaning solution generously to the dirty surface .... and let it sit.
         3. DISSOLVE - the liquid and the chemical action of the cleaner, will loose and dissolve the dirt.
         4. REMOVE - with a sponge, cleaning cloth or squeegee, remove the now-dissolved mushy dirt. .....
It really works. Discipline yourself to use it, and you'll reward yourself with two hours of free time out of the four hours you once wasted grinding and scrubbing away!"
:\|/:B     Next, to help minimize the time and effort spent cleaning, Don says "Be sure to MATCH YOUR CLEANING AGENT BASE TO THE DIRT OR SOIL YOU'RE TRYING TO REMOVE. This is a simple but important principle. 'Base' in this case simply means dissolving agent. Water won't cut oil because it's the wrong base. Vinegar won't cut grease even  for Merlin the Magician. Most household cleaners won't cut oil at all: and inexpensive oil-based solvent or thinner will dissolve it in seconds. When oil or tar gets on the walls, floors, rugs, or even clothes, a solvent (like paint thinner, turpentine, or other oil-based cleaner) will break down the tar or oil so that it can be easily wiped away.....
Cleaning preparation labels generally give the base (oil, naphtha, water, etc). Whenever you're in doubt as to whether a particular base should be used on a particular surface, test it first in an inconspicuous area."
So check your products so you know what they can clean. Read the labels, Google the chemicals listed, or Google "what cleans soap scum off a shower/stains in the toilet.." and then judge if your cleaner is the right one for the job.
You can also buy Don's book where he gives lots of specific answers to cleaning problems.
:\|/:C     To spend as little time as possible overall on cleaning jobs, it is certainly true that the more regularly things are cleaned, the cleaner everything remains. - little and often. The philosophy is - clean as you go!
How does 'clean as you go' work????
I'm not a morning person so the bathroom is the first room I head for to be resuscitated for the day. After finishing with the TOILET, I take the toilet brush in hand, give the toilet a spray and scrub then leave the cleaning solution on the toilet surface. Germs and grime continue to be worked on by the cleaner until the next person uses the toilet and flushes it away. If I do this once a day I hardly need to do a serious toilet clean. It may work better for you last thing at night when there are less toilet users.
I take a SHOWER, dry myself then use a small shower squeegee to take the excess water off the shower walls and floor.
Once dressed, before I leave the bathroom, twice a week I spray the bathroom MIRROR and BASIN and use one of the bath towels to clean and shine them.
At another time of the day, once a week, I vacuum the bathroom FLOOR, do a spray with the all-purpose cleaner and use a towel to rub over the tiles to dry  off the surface.
About once a month I need to clean the DRAINS in the basin and shower. 
This method keeps the bathroom in a clean condition.
Once a month WALLS and CEILING are vacuumed removing spiders webs - a benefit of living in the country.
Twice a year the CEILINGS and WALLS are washed with water and a drip of washing up detergent.
BUT if, as of late, I'm NOT DOING THE REGULAR LITTLE CLEANS, I have to spend more concentrated effort and time to get the grime off. 
I start on my plastic-molded SHOWER, with white vinegar which I wipe on the walls with a sponge. If this doesn't release the soap scum I add baking soda which gives a fizz reaction, and clean the glass door and plastic walls with the two ingredients in combination, finishing off with a clean water wash-down.
I choose to use vinegar and baking soda as they are 'kind' to our sewerage system, maintaining the balance of bugs needed for it to work.
The tough stains of the toilet I again use baking soda, leaving a paste of it to work on the stain - and keep at it.
Have the cleaning products right there in the bathroom so the family can clean as they go.

The second room of the day for me is definitely the kitchen. With our large family of the past (it is fast diminishing, with another daughter moving to San Francisco next month as an au pair for the year), we have a policy - you get the food out - you put it away after you use it; you made the mess/spill - you clean it up; you took your plates to the table - once finished, you take them to the sink, rinse and stack them. If you can establish this routine at home it not only speeds up meal clean-ups, but pays out benefits to your kids once they visit or live elsewhere. They can be responsible and not an encumbrance to someone else.
After all meals the CROCKERY and UTENSILS are rinsed and stacked. We don't own a dishwasher so our method has always been to do all the DISHES immediately after each meal. This way there's no time for food to harden and become difficult to clean. Once the food is served out of the POTS I put in a little water to soak and prevent a huge scrub job later. If the POT is particularly difficult I put it back on the stove with a little water in it and gently heat it up. A little scrub and the food remains easily come off before the wash up. 
All kitchen SURFACES and TABLES are wiped down so they are clean and ready for use after each meal, and CROCKERY, UTENSILS, POTS and PANS are put away into their storage place.
SINKS are cleaned with baking soda twice a week. Baking soda is a great cleaner for DRAINS as the cleaning continues as it goes down.
After breakfast the FLOOR is vacuumed and again after the evening meal if necessary. The FLOOR is washed once a week with an organic wash for wooden floors.
Cleaning the FRIDGE, STOVE, OVEN, RANGE HOOD, FREEZER, CUPBOARD SHELVES and DOORS, KITCHEN CEILING and WALLS, dining room TABLE and part of our family Saturday jobs, where each person in the family chooses a job to do.
Cleaning the KETTLE, COFFEE POT, TOASTER, FOOD PREPARATION MACHINES... is an on going, as it's used exercise. Again this is Don Aslett's philosophy - clean as you go.

When most of our kids were little, the lounge FLOOR and RUG were vacuumed once if not twice a day, but now it's every two to three days. We have a wooden FLOOR and it was washed each week, now every two to three weeks. Once a week the WALLS and CEILING are vacuumed - country areas get more spiders and dust than urban. 
WOODEN FURNITURE is dusted weekly with a cloth and oiled with light furniture oil about three times a year.
The occupants of the bedroom are responsible to vacuum their own FLOOR. A child as young as three years can have a go at vacuuming a couple of times a week, with a parent doing the real deal once a week. Most care in bedrooms goes under the heading of tidying which will be discussed in a future post.
Again depending on the mess level of the family, the FLOORS in these areas are vacuumed daily up to weekly.
The laundry FLOOR is vacuumed as regularly as the hallway. The exterior of the WASHING MACHINE and DRYER are cleaned with the all purpose spray when they get dirty. The SINK is cleaned weekly, again with baking soda.
My husband loves to clean our windows. He uses a bucket of water with a couple of drops of washing up detergent, rubber window squeegee and rag. He generously wets and rubs over the glass with the rag, and squeegees off the water. He does this every 2 - 3 months.
Be kind to yourself and make sure you have an adequate door mat outside each exterior door to your house. If you train the members of your family to wipe their feet on it before passing through the door, you cut back on the time you will spend cleaning floors. You also protect the floor surface from damage by walked in grit and protect your family from slipping on the wet brought in by shoes on rainy days.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ read this Don Aslett quote. 
"You are entitled to a life of love, fulfillment and accomplishment, but these rewards are almost impossible to obtain when you spend your life thrashing and wallowing in a muddle of housework. Time - the time to love, to be, to grow - is the most precious commodity on earth. No one's time should be wasted cleaning needlessly or inefficiently." 
Quotes like these are why I love Don's approach to cleaning. The big focus is NOT to become some super cleaning frenetic machine. We are people, and as Don says, cleaning is to assist us to enjoy our families and life. So put your perspective of cleaning into the right gear. 
Does the cleaning program at your house need to change? Every member of your family will benefit if you approach cleaning using Don's model.

Friday, March 2, 2012


The humble pumpkin is grossly under-estimated in some countries where it is seen to be admirable farm fodder but good for little else. What a waste!....Do not stint your imagination as you contemplate the preparation of pumpkin. Be adventurous.The pumpkin can take it. Baked or boiled, eaten as a vegetable, baked into a sweet tart or pie, a magnificent soup, bread, scones, muffins, puddings ....those lucky farm animals never had it so good."
The raw tomato consists of about 90 per cent water yet it compresses into that compact, attractive body mass flavour of a sort which can be turned to a myriad cooking styles and dishes." 
"Jack Forsyth's : Scrumptious Tucker" : John Forsyth.
Pumpkins are a good source of Vitamin A and C, they have some potassium and calcium, are very low in salt and fat and are cholesterol-free. Our family's favourite variety of pumpkin is Buttercup which have a delicious creamy flavour. It is plentiful and a good buy at the moment here in New Zealand.
I learnt this recipe from a chief who worked onboard a boat on Milford Sound, fifteen years ago.
1. Wash the pumpkin, then cut it in half length ways. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
2. Rub Olive Oil all over the the two halves including over the skin and place them on a baking tray.
3. Next you can choose either of the following two options.
 ~ the quick simple option ~ grate or grind any or all of the following onto
      the two halves - black pepper, salt crystals, parmesan cheese, garlic 
                                    cloves, chopped fresh marjoram or basil.
      Bake at 180 - 200*c for about 30 minutes.

~ the longer option ~ salt and pepper the pumpkin halves, then fill the
      pumpkin cavity with any of the following or you own version.
                                  - 1 - 2 tins of tomatoes or several fresh sliced
                                     tomatoes + fresh herbs, fine sliced capsicum and
                                  - pre-cooked rice, spicy vegetables, meat or fish.
                                  - pre-cooked minced beef with herbs, tomatoes,
                                     mushrooms and capsicums.
                                  - pre-cooked spicy sausages, sliced with onion, 
                                     tomato, capsicum and mushrooms.
     Bake at 180 - 200*c for about 30 - 45 minutes. When you think the pumpkin is cooked, stick a sharp knife into it to test if it is soft.

Some people only eat tomatoes in salad along with lettuce and cucumbers. But try this quick easy hot dish which your family can  appreciated as the evenings sometimes turn chilly from here on.
Tomatoes are a great source of Vitamin A, B, and C groups. Low in calories, fat, salt and cholesterol-free. They are best stored at room temperature, but refrigerate if they are over ripe to slow them down.
1. Wash the tomatoes, cut in halves and put into a buttered baking dish.
2. Top with any of the following - salt and ground black pepper, fresh chopped herbs, lemon juice, zest of lemon, grated parmesan or edam cheese.
At this stage they look and smell delicious but resist and don't eat them yet - Bake them at 180 - 200*c for 15 - 20 minutes - THEN enjoy them.
The sweetness of the tomato increases with cooking and the taste improves especially with the other added flavours.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~  if you have never eaten cooked tomato or pumpkin - have a go! Try to involve your children in making the dish. I hope you enjoy the experience of making the dish and eating it.