Twin tub washing machines save water

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We use a 10kg twin tub washing machine to wash our clothes (and everything else). I find it saves water and is much more flexible than a front loader. It is terribly dry here (and everywhere else) at  the moment and we are struggling to save every drop of water. Along with our policy of tipping animal water pots onto deserving gardens or trees before refilling, we also recycle our washing water onto the garden, a twin tub allows us to do that easily (relatively).

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Top view of the spinner

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Top view of the washer

The procedure is as follows;

  1. Sort all washing carefully into piles; first by colour and use, then into cleanest to dirtiest.
  2. Resort after various family members add their assorted contribution to random piles. Sigh, and try not to swear.
  3. Fill the machine to it’s highest level and throw in some home-made washing gel.
  4. Fuel up the generator and get partner to start it for you (or a daughter in a pinch).
  5. Throw in the first load of clean-ish washing and wash for 6 minutes.
  6. After the wash is done put the clothes in the spinner, making sure the drain hose takes water back to the washing tub. Throw in the next dirtiest load and continue.
  7. When all loads are washed, drain the washing water into buckets and carry out to the garden while the tub refills with rinse water (to which I add a cup of vinegar).
  8. Rinse loads of clothes, being sure to return rinse water to the washing tub for each spun load.
  9. When all loads are rinsed, drain rinse water into buckets and carry out into the garden to slake the thirst of garden beds and trees.
  10. Peg out the weekly accumulation of clothes, towels, sheets, dog bedding, cleaning rags, etc.

I know this seems like a lot of work, and it is, but it completes two tasks at once; washing clothes and watering the garden. The machine takes 100 litres to fill for washing and the same for rinsing, so in total I use 200 litres of water per week to do the washing and the garden gets 200 litres of water to help keep it alive and growing.

I don’t enjoy washing; I would prefer us all to wear nothing and air dry after a shower, but it is a fact of life and must be done. Doing it this way means we can live on much less water (which is a valid currency in the bush) and also get my load-bearing exercise for the day to help prevent osteoarthritis (not to mention the water for the garden). Did I mention that I hate to waste anything?

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This is what 100 litres of water in buckets looks like

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This is the weeks total of washing

How much water do you use doing the weekly washing?

 

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Introducing two new family members- Frieda and Daisy.

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Yes we have some new family (we hope), with an interesting story. My daughter is a house sitter; she looks after people’s homes and pets, etc while they are away. It is a great way to get to know many different walks of life and (for her at least) find new family to bring home. At her current job there is a herd of Dorper cross sheep, and it is lambing time. One ewe in the flock gave birth to twins a few days ago and decided she didn’t want them.

My daughter noticed the ewe lambing during the day and took care to keep her in sight (from a distance) to make sure she was OK. The ewe had her first lamb and got up to clean it, then had another lamb which she seemed to lose interest in (maybe she only wanted one?). When my daughter checked her next she had rejoined the herd and left the lambs, bleating helplessly, where they had been dropped. My daughter left them be until almost dark, but the cold was coming in and the bleats were getting  faint, so she picked up the babies (after getting permission via phone from the owner).  I found myself driving to her current abode with a car full of multi-species formula, bottles, teats, vinegar (sterilizer), hot water bottles, towels, blankets, a big wooden box that used to be Shaun’s (previous lamb) and a horrible coughing fit (pneumonia is no fun). We bedded the babies down, got them warmed up then gave them a feed. They were both girls (although at first we thought one was a boy) and very, very adorable. We both fell in love with the little faces and nuzzles immediately.

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The next day I forced myself up and out of bed again (still feeling very tired and sore from coughing) and drove in to town to get disposable nappies, baby wipes, electrolyte mix and new formula. My daughter had rung me at dawn to report that the babies had developed scours (diarrhea) at about 3.00am and had painted the inside of the box and each other with this new and interesting art medium. I arrived with the supplies and we cleaned up as best we could with hot water and damp cloths. Put a nappy on them both and then had a shower (it was messy work). Their box was scrubbed out and they were given a bottle of half strength electrolyte and milk to keep them hydrated. Scours can be serious in little babies so my daughter was really careful to be sure they were drinking enough and that they were kept clean.

We think they developed scours because they did not have any colostrum (the magical first milk given by the mother in the day after birth) and also because our milk formula was old (and had been open for a few months). We changed to a new formula tin immediately just in case.

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The next day I was back down there again because they had used all the nappies. We bundled them into the car along with the dog my daughter is looking after and went for a drive to get nappies in bulk. I hate disposable nappies, but I do not have any handy washable sheep nappies either and they needed to be able to be kept clean if they were to be living in someone else’ home. I am currently working on a design for sheep nappies, modified from the doggy version (watch this space). We also picked up some inject-able re-hydration fluid (Hartman’s) and needles while we were out…just in case. When we got home we injected some Hartman’s fluid under the skin of each of them (poor babies) as they were very de-hyrated by that time. About 40ml each was all that it took and they perked up and asked for food within a half hour.

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They are doing well now, although Frieda (the black and white one) has a limp in one hind leg (possibly nerve damage from a botched injection…but we hope it isn’t permanent). This is a very photo heavy post because I am besotted (again) by their sweet, trusting natures and their lovely little faces. My daughter is equally besotted, but is doing  the vast majority of caring for them and as such is also struggling with sleep deprivation and frustration at not being able to visit the toilet alone (any new mothers can obviously relate) not to mention the shear weight of washing. We hope that the owner of the herd will allow us to buy these two from him to become part of our family…Shaun would be so proud.

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Lentil meatless loaf

I have been enjoying having my eldest daughter around the place to look after animals (mostly hers I might add) and cook dinner. She is a vegan, so our meals have been entirely animal free for quite a while now. My daughter suffers from MMA (or the alpha gal allergy); she has an allergic reaction to almost all animal products, so we try not to use them.

The recipe below is a simple meatless loaf that fills a hollow tummy and tastes pretty good on sandwiches the next day too. I made this on one of my rare forays into the kitchen.

This is the recipe I followed (I followed it all the way through, for a change)-  recipe

I didn’t remember to take photos until about halfway through the process.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown or green lentils
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup bulgur or toasted cracked wheat for gluten-free version, use certified gf steel cut oats (I used oats as that’s what I had in the cupboard)
  • 1 cup water boiled
  • 1/4 cup natural ketchup
  • 1 cup rolled or quick oats ensure gf certified for gluten-free
  • 3 tablespoons tamari use wheat-free for wheat/gluten-free version
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons ground white chia or can use flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce see note for gf version
  • 2 tablespoons tahini or sunflower seed butter
  • 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses (I skipped this ingredient)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel optional
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Topping:

  • 3-4 tablespoons natural ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce OR 2 tsp vegan bbq sauce optional, optional

Instructions

  1. Combine the lentils, vegetable stock, 1⁄3 cup of water, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until just about tender. Once done, add the bulgur and boiling water, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for another 8 to 9 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil an oven-proof glass loaf pan and line the bottom of the pan with a strip of parchment paper to cover (place it in to protrude along the short ends of the pan; this helps for easier removal of the veggie loaf from the pan). Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Once the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and add all the remaining ingredients (except topping). Stir very well. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and pack it in. Spread the topping mixture over the top.
  4. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or so, before cutting to slice and serve. Serves 5-6.

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Just out of the oven

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A close up of the texture

This is a fairly quick to make meal which leaves some left overs. I will be making this again.

Preserving eggs for winter

 

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We have a lot of old girls in our flock; I feel that a life time of service providing eggs, compost and weeding shouldn’t be rewarded with death when laying starts to wane. We always have a few younger hens coming up to lay too though, so our egg production during peak spring laying is about five eggs per day from a total of ten adult hens. Five eggs a day is just too many for our needs these days, there being only two of us most of the time (and my daughter can’t eat eggs, even when she is home). So I have been looking for ways to preserve eggs for years now.

I haven’t found anything remotely workable before, but this technique looks like my style; easy, cheap and effective. Water-glassing is a method which uses good old chemistry to seal the shell of an egg and prevent bacteria from penetrating the shell and causing it to go bad. I found a particularly good recipe for making water-glass (this version is actually lime water, but apparently they are all called water-glass) here. 

Most sites and books seem to state that the lime chemically seals the shell of the egg so that no oxygen or bacteria can get in and this preserves the eggs for up to eight months or so (some sites say twelve months). For this reason it is very important to make sure your eggs are clean, with no mud or chook poop on them, it is also really important to not wash the natural protective layer off the egg before preserving. All the older sources recommend having your lime solution ready to go and placing eggs into it each day as they come in from the chook pen.

Water-glassing solution

30g hydrated lime (slaked lime)

1 litre clean water

Combine water and lime, pour into a light proof container with a lid. Carefully place clean unwashed eggs into solution and store in a cool place.

Eggs will keep for 8 months.

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I will leave this dozen eggs here on the bench until January or so. Look forward to an update when I open the first preserved egg. This could be one very smelly experiment.

De-cluttering- kitchen

At the end of this term I was very unwell; I managed to pick up the flu that was going around. I ended up with a mild case of pneumonia and having to take antibiotics for the first time in decades. It has left me feeling very tired and low-energy, so I decided to give myself an easy project this school holidays; de-cluttering the house. I have been feeling a bit like a hoarder lately; things are piling up and dust and dirt are creeping in. It is hard to keep things clean in a semi-open humpy with so many animals living inside. Things get dirty fast and it takes a lot of cleaning to get back to an acceptable level.

First up was the kitchen. I had thought that the kitchen just needed a good clean, not much to throw away, but I managed to collect four boxes of general stuff to go to a new home and five feed bags of rubbish (mostly out of date food and animal care stuff).

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Before shot of one of the kitchen cupboards

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Before shot of my coffee corner

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After shot of the cupboard

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After shot of the coffee corner. It may not look that different, but it feels different.

I cleaned out the inside of the cupboards, wiped over the outsides of the cupboards, cleaned the window, scrubbed the floor and vacuumed out the wall cavities. It didn’t look very different when I had finished, but it did feel clean and somehow…lighter.

It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I clean out a room; it is a mixture of relief and anticipation. I love to come into a recently cleaned room and know that everything is in it’s place. It took me three days to finish this room because I had to stop often to rest, but it was worth it. I now have a clean, fresh kitchen and I found my yogurt maker (I now have yogurt being made on the bench). Now onto the next room.

This whole rape culture thing

I don’t usually write about contemporary issues; I would rather let the world pass me by unnoticed most of the time. I decided to weigh in with an opinion on this one though. There has been a lot of articles, opinions and comments on social media lately about the rape culture we live in as modern humans. Some people seem to think that this is fair and ‘the way things have always been’ while others rail against the status quo. I can’t really decide which side I am on.

On one hand; I too have felt the fear of walking alone, of being uncomfortable with male company and unable to politely move away. I too have felt the need to check whether I was showing too much skin, to make sure I have a semi-sober girlfriend to make sure I get home after a night out (I have been the semi-sober girlfriend too…occasionally). All this is now a memory, in the past; fear of being attacked by a man has lessened over the years. I think because I am older and less attractive. I have been attacked by men, I have had unwanted attention from men, been physically attacked, verbally attacked and abused. Now my instincts are much better, I can usually sense a situation I will not be comfortable in and avoid it. Does that make it OK? Does my withdrawal from many activities in order to feel safe, make it acceptable to live in this culture? My daughters both phone me or each other while walking alone in the city, they say they want a witness to their death if someone attacks them (very reassuring for a mother who is thousands of kilometers away, I can tell you). Neither of them do that in the bush, they are happy to tramp about in nature all day by themselves, the difference? There is a much slimmer chance of running into a man in the bush. Why should my big, strong, confident daughters feel that they need to have someone on the phone when out night or day (even on a bus)? Why should they feel that they have to guard themselves always (clothes, actions, speech) in case they attract the unwanted attention of a man?

On the other hand; I am a farm girl, I know I am strong. I have had more than one physical fight. Although I am a gentle person who doesn’t go looking for a fight, if one finds me, I know I can defend myself. I have noticed over the years that I am at least as strong as most men I meet (sometimes considerably stronger). I am brave; I am the snake and spider remover, the big, scary animal facer (including men). Why do women feel the need to be frightened? Can’t we all just learn to not be frightened? In my twenties and thirties, I walked home from work in a city centre at 2am by myself, I spoke to dodgy looking men all the time (it’s a bit hard to avoid when you are a barmaid) and I had to woman-handle the odd bloke out of the bar a time or two. I learned that I am capable of these things and I gradually let go of my fear.

Men apparently don’t feel fear of walking alone in the city at night, or fear being in a room full of other men (usually) or even a room full of women. Why? They don’t worry that the button-up shirt shows some chest hair which might be taken as an invitation for someone to run a finger over it. They apparently don’t worry about walking past a group of women standing on a corner in case there are cat-calls and lewd comments (there often are lewd comments boys, just not very loud).

I think men do face some of the same issues that women do, maybe not as an ingrained and expected part of life, but they do face them occasionally. Tell me men, have you ever hesitated to go into your bosses office with the door shut in case she/he made a move on you? Have you ever felt unsure about walking to your car because there are a lot of men standing around? Have you ever been the only person in a train carriage when a vaguely threatening man came in and sat near you? Have you ever been too drunk to drive home and worried that the taxi driver would attack you because you were not on the alert? I know the answer is “Yes”; almost every man I know has experienced this or something like it at some point in their life. The common factor here though, is ‘men’; would you be so worried by a bunch of women standing around your car? or a vaguely threatening woman sitting near you? What about the boss’s office? Are you worried that she will make a move on you? We are raised to see men as more dangerous than women, and so they become more dangerous than women.

There is no reason why a woman can’t be as dangerous and obnoxious as a man. Most (certainly not all) domestic violence is perpetrated by men, what if women took to beating their significant others with a bat if they were late home, didn’t do the washing or made meatloaf not steak for tea? Most inappropriate comments and cat-calls made in public are made by men, why can’t women shout out to men in the street about how we like their rear ends or shoulders? (I wonder if that would make job-site workmen put their shirts back on?). Most random acts of intimidation in public places is done by men, why can’t women stare at a man alone on the bus, move closer to them and whisper lewd comments in their ears? Why can’t women follow a man walking alone on the street ‘just to watch his behind jiggle’ and make him cross the street? Maybe it is time to show men what it feels like to live a life of constant vigilance, what it feels like to be always subtly under attack. If they won’t listen when we tell them, maybe they will believe when we show them.

I’m not sure whether women behaving like men would solve anything, maybe it would make things worse. I think I am just angry and venting. My world is safe and secure at the moment, I am happy and valued, but it wasn’t always so and my daughters have to live in the world outside my bubble, I would love to make it a better one for them.

Local insects and animals- Eucalyptus tortoise beetle

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This little beetle rode into the house on my tracksuit pants leg. I saw a shape clinging to the fabric and, when I put my glasses on, it was revealed as a tiny beetle. She looked a bit disgruntled to find herself in a humpy and not on a tree, so I snapped a few photos and let her go outside. Then I set off to find out what kind of beetle she is. At first I thought she was a kind of Lady beetle (I was thinking shape and size here), so I googled Lady beetles in Australia.

None of the pictures matched my little visitor, so I went to the an online insect identification key, which eventually…after many entertaining side visits, led me to the right family of beetle. She is a Leaf beetle.

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The closest match I could find was the Tortoise Leaf beetle; a kind of beetle that eats eucalyptus leaves and is fairly common in this region. I have not noticed these beetles before, maybe because the Bell Miners (Australian Bell Bird) have moved further away from the humpy in the last year or so. Bell Miners eat all sorts of insects that inhabit the bush.

No matter how she came to be clinging to my pants leg, I was glad she came and introduced herself. Yet another member of the huge community that shares our niche.

Plants in the garden- pomegranate tree

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A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a tiny seedling pomegranate tree. I took her home and potted her on to a larger pot. This little seedling sat in the garden (in one place or another) for a further year, until one day I decided it was time to plant her out.

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The pomegranate is one of the world’s oldest cultivated trees. They are a hardy and do not have many pests (excepting ducks, sheep and fruit fly), so my little tree is becoming a much bigger tree. She has not yet flowered, after three years, but that is probably because of the long term neglect she has suffered while waiting for me to get my act together and find a place to plant her.

 

Plants in the garden- Madagascar beans

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There are a lot of plants in my garden (not as many as my mother’s garden, but still, a lot), and these plants don’t often get to be noticed by anyone other than me. So I thought I would start a series of posts that introduce the plants I manage to grow in my garden, despite animal depredation, insect attack, serious neglect and outright attack with a mower or whipper snipper.

First in the line up is the Madagascar bean; a perennial , sub-tropical lima bean. I planted 5 seeds in toilet paper rolls in the Summer and planted out the sweet little seedlings about three weeks later. I chose a spot in the Hugelkultur garden that would let the beans climb on the fence and would eventually give shade to a couple of beds for planting lettuce and silverbeet in the hot summer months. Little did I know that the plants grow like Jack’s beanstalk and look likely to take over the whole vegetable garden roof area. I think that I will be doing a lot of pruning next Spring to keep some growing areas in the sun.

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Somewhere in there are 5 little bean seeds

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Planted out as young seedlings

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I have created a monster

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Apparently the seeds can be eaten when young as a broad bean substitute (steamed or boiled) and the dried beans can be used anywhere dried beans can be used (soaked, cooked and put into soups, stews, burgers, casserole, etc). My vines have pods, and I am now waiting around impatiently (checking my watch, sighing, pacing a little) for them to form beans so I can try to trick my partner into believing I have grown broad beans for him (he doesn’t know what the plant looks like anyway). I am becoming a big fan of perennial vegetables, I think I will seek out a few more.

Making margarine

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We have been trying to find more vegan alternatives (daughter’s and friend’s delicate stomach) so we have been using more plant based spreads (or margarine for us old school people). That stuff can be expensive, and it seems to have some hidden animal products; my daughter’s animal protein detector (aka, dodgy stomach) is set on sensitive. She had digestive trouble whenever she eats any animal protein at all; no cheese, no butter, no eggs, certainly no meat and even no animal based rennet used in soy cheese making. Some margarine brands have been making her feel sick and since we use a lot of margarine, I thought I would have a go at making my own. As usual, I researched it all online and found some alternatives.

It seems that it is basically an oil of some sort, whipped with water and an added emulsifier to stop it all separating. I found many recipes, mostly with fancy ingredients, and finally settled on one that looked fairly simple.

First I had to find some sunflower based lecithin (which is not that hard to find online), this was found and ordered in about 15 minutes. This is the all-important emulsifier, that keeps the oil and water components in suspension. In the case of my chosen recipe the water part was actually a mixture of soy milk and apple cider vinegar, but the principle still stands. After a three week wait, the lecithin finally arrived and I could have a go at making margarine.

The recipe below is modified (slightly) from the original (to see the original, just click on the title).

Spreadable Olive Oil Vegan Butter Recipe

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
4 grams salt (if you don’t have a scale, use ¾ + ⅛ teaspoon salt)
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon refined coconut oil, melted
¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon liquid sunflower lecithin
½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1) Curdle your soy milk

Place the soy milk, apple cider vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2) Mix your Vegan Butter ingredients

Melt the coconut oil so it’s barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the olive oil to a bullet blender. Making smooth vegan butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it’s mixed. This is why it’s important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifies

Add the soy milk mixture, lecithin and psyllium husk powder to the food processor. Process for a count of 15, then shake the container, process for another count of 15, continue this for approximately 3 minutes. This allows the salt to dissolve completely. Pour the mixture into a shallow jar or other container and place it in the freezer to solidify with the lid removed so it solidifies as quickly as possible. The Vegan Butter should be ready to use in about an hour. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year. Makes about 1 cup.
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Ingredients gathered and ready to go.

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Soy milk with Himalayan pink salt added

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After I added the vinegar it curdled and thickened a bit

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I didn’t have any unflavoured psyllium husk powder, so I used some orange flavoured stuff, hoping the orange wouldn’t come through (it is only a small amount after all)

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pouring ingredients into the blender cup

 

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Everything blending nicely

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Poured into a container and ready for the freezer

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Looks good

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Spreads easily

The resulting spread has a great texture, is very spreadable and apart from a faint orange flavour (I was wrong), tastes like any other margarine. I will be making this again, once I can get hold of some unflavoured psyllium husk powder.

I also found a recipe for hard vegan butter on the same site. I have included the recipe and the link below (click the title).

Regular Vegan Butter Recipe – Coconut Oil Base

Yield: 1 cup (215 grams), or the equivalent of 2 sticks

¼ cup + 2 teaspoons soy milk
½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon coconut vinegar (if you can’t find coconut vinegar, substitute with ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar so the total is 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar)
¼ + ⅛ teaspoon salt

½ cup + 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (130 grams) refined coconut oil, melted
1 Tablespoon canola oil, light olive oil or rice bran oil

1 teaspoon liquid soy lecithinorliquid sunflower lecithinor 2 ¼ teaspoons soy lecithin granules
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ + ⅛ teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1) Curdle your soy milk

Place the soy milk, apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar and salt in a small cup and whisk together with a fork. Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the mixture curdles.

2) Mix your Vegan Butter ingredients

Melt the coconut oil in a microwave so it’s barely melted and as close to room temperature as possible. Measure it and add it and the canola oil to a food processor. Add the soy milk mixture, soy lecithin and xanthan gum to the food processor. Process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides halfway through the duration.

 TIPMaking smooth Vegan Butter is dependent on the mixture solidifying as quickly as possible after it’s mixed. This is why it’s important to make sure your coconut oil is as close to room temperature as possible before you mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

3) Transfer the Vegan Butter to a mold so it solidifies.

Pour the mixture into a mold and place it in the freezer to solidify. An ice cube mold works well. It should be ready to use in about an hour. Store Vegan Butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 year.

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Vegan scones made with the vegan butter recipe. Just ignore my little mishap with the baking paper being too close to the oven flame, it was very exciting

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Served with vegan margarine and jam, very yummy