Saturday, May 22, 2021

Surviving in My Kitchen during Renovations

Aussie Beef Salt Bush Pie, read on

Now that the dust has settled, literally, I have some time to write on my blog again. Have you noticed I've been a bit quiet in the blogging world? Last week after taking a deep breath, we had our whole house retiled, except for two bedrooms and the bathrooms. All the furniture was removed from the lounge, dining area, and the two main bedrooms. It happened quickly, as surprisingly the tradies were ready to do the work. So the house inside was shrouded in plastic as the first couple of days were very  dusty and noisy when the existing tiles were removed. 

Luckily, we could move into the bedroom at the back of our house near the kitchen and still use the guest bathroom until the last day of tiling. There was less upheaval for us that way, and it was quite comforting during all of the mayhem to still be in our own home and to be able to use my own kitchen and laundry, even though friends offered for us to stay at their house during the tiling, which we really appreciate. The plastic was removed from the kitchen once the old tiles were removed. I also found some comfort in going shopping!

We chose our tiles, they were laid over three days  and now we are very happy with the result. I love our new look. Mr. HRK and I moved all of the furniture back into the house, the beds, the lounge suite, the China Cabinet,  the dining suite etc,  and along the way we needed to make compromises about what we should keep and what should be sold or disposed of. This was the perfect time to scale down and decide what we really don't need. It really came down to what is essential for us now, and what we are emotionally attached to. Now our lounge, dining area and bedrooms have a whole new layout, lovely refreshing new tiles and we are happy with the result. Our backs were sore for a day after the shifting, but that was the least of our worries. It was done. However there is still some sorting through cupboards and drawers to be done, but the worst of the renovations, the heavy lifting and the decision making, is over. 

But how did we survive with enough food to nourish us during this experience? Those of you who read the last In My Kitchen post, will already know that we have a mandarin tree which has just been laden with fruit, so we have had plenty of fresh citrus to enjoy, and as I am writing this post I am sipping on some freshly squeezed mandarin juice. It's really delicious. We've had a couple of cold snaps and some rain, so the mandarins are at their peak of juiciness. We've also had lots of dried mandarins to nibble on.

I'm really happy that we didn't need to buy any takeaway meals, and we didn't dine out during all of the upheaval, as nice as that is. We were too tired to be bothered. In anticipation of what was going to happen, I made my very easy and tasty Zucchini and Bacon slice which is always a great standby during any kind of upheaval and busy times. I also delivered a couple of slices to a sick friend, and another friend who visited during the mayhem was plied with a  slice for lunch. The slice stretched a bit like the Biblical Loaves and Fishes tale.

I'm still surprised that not everyone knows about this great slice, which is so tasty and easy to make. Sometimes we just need a small reminder about how delicious these classics still are, and everyone enjoys this one. This post is about nutritious and tasty food, circumstantial and essential food, not adventurous food. Although for those that don't generally cook, I suppose it could be adventurous.

Zucchini slice was originally created, back in the 1980's to assist busy parents to cook a healthy, nutritious and very tasty savoury slice for the whole family, requiring no precooking of any ingredients, just some grating and slicing. It became so popular, that  you could depend on there being a Zucchini and Bacon slice at any family gathering or party. Bring it back I say.

There are many variations available now, however the basic ingredients of eggs, flour, cheese, zucchinis and bacon still provide the base for a popular and economical meal.

Zucchini and Bacon Slice


375 grams zucchini (approx. 2 large or 4 small)
1 large very fresh onion, finely chopped
3 rashers bacon, finely chopped, fat removed
1 cup very tasty grated cheese
1 cup SR flour
1/2 cup Rice Bran oil
5 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

I added a 1/2 cup of corn this time, and 1 grated carrot.


Grease and line with baking paper a 30cm x 20cm Lamington Tin.
Grate zucchini in a food processor and finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, corn, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs.

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt or to taste

Pour into your lined and greased baking tray,  or you can also use a  pie dish or a large quiche dish. Top with sliced tomatoes if you wish.

Bake in a moderate oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until brown.

Homemade Chicken stock or Broth 

Homemade Chicken stock being cooked

It must be nearly Winter if I am writing about soup here in the Tropics. With three containers of my homemade chicken stock in the freezer, and the weather cooling down, it was also very easy to make some chicken and barley soup, which only takes about an hour to make. It has been a wonderful standby to have on hand for an easy dinner or lunch.


1 1/2 kg chicken wings, or 1 whole free-range chicken, or 1 1/2 kgs of bony chicken parts such as necks, backs, breastbones, frames  and wings  ( whatever you have works)

3 1/2 litres of water ( so that it covers the chicken) and 2 tablespoons vinegar
2 roughly chopped carrots
1 onion, peeled and  halved
4 stalks celery roughly chopped
3 stalks fresh parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove peeled
A few peppercorns

Bring to the boil in a large stainless steel pot, and simmer the ingredients on the stove top for 8 hours so that the marrow from the bones is completely removed and enriches the stock. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavoursome and healthy it will be. 

About  10 minutes before finishing the stock, add the parsley.

Remove the whole chicken pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let this cool and remove the chicken meat from the carcass for other uses such as sandwiches and curries, enchiladas or salads. (The chicken meat can also be removed from the bones after only 2 hours of cooking when it will be nice and firm.) I don't bother removing the fat from the stock now by chilling it first and letting the fat rise to the surface, as I think the fat gives the stock a beautiful flavour. However that is a personal choice. You might also prefer to make your stock in the pressure cooker or slow cooker. The stock can then be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

I really believe that chicken soup made from scratch is very healing. Some say it reduces allergies, improves digestion, and gives us strength. I love to give chicken soup to friends and family who have colds and flu, I'm sure it helps their recovery.

Chicken Barley Soup Recipe

2 Litres homemade Chicken Stock
4 finely chopped carrots
1 finely chopped brown onion
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup barley or short pasta (rinsed in water)
2 teaspoons Fish Sauce
Leaves from 4 stalks of fresh celery, finely chopped
Salt and ground pepper to taste

A Handful of fresh herbs

I make this very simply. Fry up all the vegetables in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onion is translucent and vegetables slightly softened.

Add the stock, fish sauce (my secret ingredient) and bring to the boil. Then bring the heat down to a simmer. Add the fresh chopped herbs including parsley, the barley, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the vegetables are softened, taste to check the seasoning. and the soup is ready to serve.

Last Tuesday night our football team was playing, they are the North Queensland Cowboys. This is Rugby League football, for those who don't really follow it. Mr. HRK played Rugby League when I first met him, and then when he moved away to Teacher's College he stopped playing competitively, but never stopped loving the game. In the morning, I assembled my Salt Bush Beef Stew in the slow cooker and it was cooked by lunchtime. The Aussie meat pie and football are synonymous, and feeling that we needed some stamina to watch the football and hopefully will the Cowboys to win, I converted the beef stew into a meat pie. I added a couple of extra teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce to give it the Beef Pie edge, and  because I was short on time and the tilers were still around, I used frozen shortcrust pastry for the base, and puff pastry for the top layer. It worked a treat. Mr. HRK loved it. After all, what's not to love about a delicious Aussie Beef Pie with Tomato Sauce. And the Cowboys had a great win. Overall, a successful night.

You can find the Aussie Salt Bush Beef Stew recipe at this link on the blog where I have loaded it previously.

Football night

Have you noticed there are no sweets listed here in my menu plan? Dessert each night was yoghurt with fresh fruit, or with Tropical Stem Ginger in Syrup from my preserves stash. Which reminds me, it's nearly time to harvest our crop of ginger again, now that the foliage is dying off.

Hope you are all having an enjoyable weekend,

Warm wishes



  1. Renovation during pandemic? isn't it too risky having a renovation workers in your house? Or did you do all the works yourself? Anyway, I am glad that the job is done and the result is very satisfying.
    The beef stew looks so GOOD! You too have a great weekend!

    1. We had workmen here to do the work Natalia, and no problem as there isn't any covid in our community. No pandemic restrictions at all here where we live. Best to get the work done in case that changes. Thanks so very much for your interest.

  2. Renovations can be both exciting and overwhelming. I’m glad you were able to use the kitchen during re-tiling.
    I saved your zucchini slice recipe. I’ve never made one before. Can you freeze it?

    Have a wonderful weekend, Pauline.

    1. Nil, this is one of the best slices to freeze. Sometimes I make two, one to freeze and one to eat and share. Wonderful to have in the freezer to just heat up a slice for a quick meal.Thanks so much for responding and great to hear from you.

  3. That beef stew looks yummy. It is 90 degrees here today. So, I bookmarked the recipe for the future.

    1. Gosh 90 degrees, that sounds warm. I am wondering where you are. Anyway wonderful to hear from you and thankyou for your interest in my recipe.It is a delicious stew.

  4. i love zuke slice and make it quite often. so quick and easy and delish! you've done well cooking during the renos. it's always so dusty and noisy isn't it? I love a pie in winter. in fact my next post is a pie. so comforting. how lovely to have fresh mandarins. i love them and eat heaps in winter. have a great week. xx

    1. Sherry I made most of this in advance of the renos. However the beef pie was easy to put together when I had full access to my kitchen again. Look forward to your pie recipe. Important to eat lots of citrus and I am loving the mandarin juice. Have a terrific week. xx

  5. They say a change is as good as a holiday! Removing tiles is such dusty work but I trust from what you have said that it was worth it :)

    1. Tandy it has been worth it, we love the result. thanks for your comment.

  6. Pauline, I often make the Zucchini Slice. It is a great golden oldy. I still have nightmares thinking about our renovations especially the bathroom and toilet as we only have one of each 😳

    1. Chel, yes yours was much more of a complex renovation than ours was, still you got through it which is great. There are just so many decisions to be made aren't there with renos as well, that's where the nightmares come in. Hope you are well and not too cold in beautiful Toowoomba, Pauline


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