Monday, June 4, 2018

MPM: easy homemade sushi

My family loves sushi. And they love to eat. Ordering sushi can cost us a small fortune! 

Fortunately, when I first fell in love with sushi during my year 8 Japanese class (some 20-odd years ago, I’m frankly too scared to do the math, lol) there were only a few sushi places in our city and certainly none in the semi-rural town where I lived so I learned to make it myself. 

Over the years I’ve fine-tuned my technique to something that works well for us. It’s not necessarily authentic but it produces some really yum sushi! So I decided that for this ‘Meal Plan Monday’ I would include some of the tips and techniques we use when we make our own sushi. 

Firstly, the rice. You can buy sushi rice but I find arborio rice (another short-grained rice used for risotto) is more widely available and usually cheaper. I cook it in our thermomix and then add sushi seasoning and let it cool. I haven’t included these steps in this post but you’ll be able to find instructions elsewhere on the internet. 

Secondly, fillings. There are so many different fillings you could use, we like to use tinned tuna, chicken ‘chippy’ fingers (or other oven-bake chicken), tofu, cucumber, avocado, carrot. And wasabi mayo for those of us who like heat! It’s less of a punch-in-the-face when it’s in mayo form and when it’s already inside the sushi. 

Third, making the sushi. That’s what this post is really about. I used to have a proper bamboo mat and I used to have a sushi roller that made special shapes but now when I’m standing at my sushi production line, I just use a piece of plain old baking paper. 

I lay the nori sheet (seaweed paper) onto the baking paper and then put some cooled rice on top, leaving an empty strip at the far end. I don’t worry about little gaps, they’ll be fixed soon. 

Then I place another piece of baking paper on top (if you’re worried about environmental impact, I’m sure a silicone mat or similar would also work fine) 

And using a rolling pin (or a tin can. Or a wine bottle. Yes, my toddler hid my rolling pin for a while, why do you ask?) I lightly roll out the rice. This fills in the gaps, stops the rice being too bulky, spreads the rice to the ends, and helps it all stick. 

Then I place the fillings at the end closest to me (you can make a dent in the rice first to hold the fillings, I usually don’t bother). This is also a good time to add a smear of wasabi mayo. Trust me, it works so well. 

Then I use the baking paper to pick up the edge of the nori and start rolling. I add a smear of water along the exposed edge of the nori to help it stick. I usually make several rolls to this stage and leave them sealed-edge down. 

Then I cut the rolls with a sharp knife. If it’s not sharp, don’t even bother! 

For the little kids, I serve their soy sauce watered down. They can’t even tell ;) 

Half of us love okonomayaki and half of us hate it so it’s something that we sometimes make to go with the sushi 

Like I said, they can put away a lot of sushi! 

Sometimes I make mini-sushi too, using half a sheet of nori and a very thin layer of rice, so it rolls into a very thin roll. But even the baby manages perfectly fine with these full size pieces. 

Hopefully these tips can help you up your sushi game. Or better yet, encourage you to make sushi I’ve you’ve never attempted it before! 

Monday, May 28, 2018

MPM: Pros and cons of meal planning

Our town is pretty small. I don’t mean that everybody knows each other, I mean that it is approximately 3km x 1km. So, literally.... small. 

Well this weekend we’ve had four power outages in our tiny town! Unbelievable! 

And my husband and I are *both* sick at the same time. Unbelievable! 

Not a fun weekend with four kids running around. Did I mention we’ve had storms? We’ve had storms. 

It got me thinking about how meal planning can be both a good thing and a bad thing. 

For example, this weekend it was lucky that I already had tacos planned for Saturday night as I was able to pop the meat into the slowcooker in the morning (a gamble, as I hadn’t ever done it like that before) and then a little later on I prepped the taco toppings and stored them in the fridge. I already knew what we were having for dinner and already had the ingredients so was able to tackle the meal-prep in short bursts as I felt up to it. Despite being sick, I was able to provide my family with a delicious, healthy home-cooked meal with minimal effort. 

However....  not every meal we have planned recently would be cookable in a power outage and in a worse case scenario, if the outage was long, then a weeks worth of food or more could be spoiled (our power company provides financial reimbursement of $80 if the power is out for longer than 12hrs which is not even a week’s groceries) 

So I jotted down some notes about our fortnightly meal planning; 

  • Saves money 
  • Saves sanity (don’t have to think on the spot)
  • Saves time (shopping less, plus meals can be prepped earlier) 
  • Less flexibility
  • Might miss out on some specials/sales
  • Potential food spoilage (power cut or if you end up eating away from home for whatever reason)
  • Storage space can be an issue  
  • More planning/funds needed up front 
I know the list has ended up with more ‘con’ than ‘pro’ but it’s not an exhaustive list and I think the pros are stronger than the cons. 

I’d be really interested to know whether anyone else has some pros or cons to add to the list? And whether those pros and cons change for weekly/fortnightly/monthly meal planning? 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

MPM: fortnightly plan

This is the plan we had for this fortnight. I spent just under $200 at the supermarket and then drew up this meal plan: 

We will also use up some meals we already had in the freezer or pantry (such as the meatballs) but then we will have some meals leftover from this shop that will go into the freezer for another fortnight (like the chicken fajita). 

So far I have topped up with bread, bananas, muesli bars, a soft drink, cheese, sour cream, milk and eggs so about $20.  

At the end of the fortnight I'll recap the fortnight and what we actually ate. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Back to school

School went back on Wednesday for children in Western Australia 

This is my eighth 'first day of school' as a parent so we were pretty relaxed. 

We employed the usual tricks to help us get ready and out the door,
  • Lay out uniforms the night before
  • New socks, all labeled 
  • Lunches pre-prepared
  • Bags prepped the night before
  • All back to school supplies labeled & in one bag
  • Hair freshly washed 
  • Early to bed, lots of sleep 
  • Already found out which classrooms to go to. 
Foolproof, right? But Miss 7 managed to lose her uniform between laying it out before bed, and getting up to get dressed in the morning. 

It turns out she had moved it to the end of her bed when she went to sleep so it would be right there when she woke up. But she tends to kick off her blankets in the night so when she was tossing and turning she kicked her uniform down the side and end of her bed, lol. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

MPM: why meal plan?

We tend to get into some silly habits over the holidays and just roll with the punches, so to speak. Most of the year, however, we're a meal planning household. We've just gotten back into the swing of meal planning again. Whether you're new to meal planning or stuck in a rut, I thought it might be a good time to list some of the great reasons to meal plan. 

1. It saves time 
If you have a meal plan, you will be more efficient when you are shopping, you will stop wasting time standing in front of the fridge wondering what to make, you can even save prep time by prepping for two meals at once (since you know which meals are coming up) and of course, you can make just one trip to the supermarket per week. 

2. It saves money 
By having a plan, you avoid buying things you don't need, are less likely to waste food and also less likely to panic and buy take away food. 

3. It allows delegation
It is such a relief when I am wrangling kids and nappies and I come out to see hubby has already started dinner because he already knows what we're having that night. 

4. It stops the dread 
I absolutely hate that feeling of frustration when I have to decide on something for dinner, it's a feeling that can last for hours if I'm having trouble thinking of something. Providing a meal for my family should be a joy, not a chore.

5. It reduces waste
Planning ahead means I only buy what I need and anything that might be leftover is pre-planned to be incorporated into future meals. 

6. It stops the endless questions 
My kids: "Muuuuummmm, what's for dinner?" 
Me: *points at list on fridge* 

7. It gives more change for better nutrition 
When you plan several meals ahead, you have the time to make sure that each meal is nutritionally balanced alone and in context with the previous/following meals.

I'm sure there are more reasons, but these are just some of the reasons why meal planning works for us.  

Sunday, January 28, 2018

New Year Post

Happy 2018! 

I have made a goal to blog regularly this year. I had the first few weeks of the year off because it has been sooo busy at work. Normally the time before Christmas is busy (which I guess it was) but due to some restructuring, a lot of things were delayed until after Christmas and so the first week or two back after our break were just ridiculous. 


Here's an image I made of all the calls I took/made over just one morning. It doesn't even include the texts or the emails, nor the fact that some of these individual lines included two or three attempts to call before it connected! 

Still, better to be busy than broke, right? 

I've also been keeping an actual journal, just jotting down some of the things we do each day, some of the things the kids say, what we ate etc. A few months ago we were cleaning out some cupboards and found a journal I kept for a short while around the time my eldest turned one. The kids were in *stitches* as I was reading out the entries. So when it came time to write my Christmas list I knew what I wanted... a journal! :)