My Pins

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Could You Give A Fig?

I may seem a little quiet but it's not from lack of interest I assure you and though I may not be leaving a lot of comments, I am certainly reading loads of interesting blog posts.
I have a lot of things pencilled on the calendar and they require a bit of homework to pull them off.
I will certainly be around and here is where you will find me over the coming week....

Tonight at the Living Better Group 
upstairs at the Cock and Bull Launceston Tas from 7-9
All welcome

This Saturday 2nd Feb ut si growers market 8-12

This Sunday 3rd Feb Killiecrankie Nursery open day 10.30-2.30
Talking and demonstrating the value of harvesting herbs. I'll be making healing herbal salve, herbal hair rinse, insect repelling sachets for cupboards and herbal "tub teas" for the bath.

Monday 4th Feb at the West Tamar Discussion Group 7.30-9.30
All welcome to this informal meet-up over a cuppa.
We'll be talking about "Harvest and Produce"
Vicky Cowan of VIX KITCH and Graeme of THIRLSTAN GARDENS will also be there.

Maybe you couldn't give a fig...
I could.
I can give you two in fact.
My fig tree is producing wonderful large almost palm sized fruit but not enough to spare for the market.
Perhaps you have a glut of figs at the moment and if you live locally, why not bring them down to our growers market and spend a lovely morning with us.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Zucchini Chips

The zucchini glut is so dire at the moment that I couldn't even GIVE them away at the market!
I'm not bothered though. I am happy to store up my zucchini for the winter too.
We talk about zucchinis a lot here on SJ but for a recap, my soup recipe is here and the minted roasted zucchini here or refer to my cook book on pages 20 &21 which also includes the zucchini slice recipe.
So besides sticking them into every unsuspecting chocolate cake and freezing huge batches of soup, dehydration is another sterling idea.

Wash and cut into uniform-ish sized pieces and place in the dehydrator for about 7 hours depending on the size. The resulting "chips" can be used as lunch box snacks for the vegetably-inclined but they are a great addition to the slow cooks and casseroles of winter.

Store them away in an air tight jar in the cupboard.
Both our freezers are chock-o-block. Just look how much space you save. A large coffee jar would easily be equivalent to 10kg of fresh zucchini.
At this moment communities here are still struggling with the effects of the latest bushfires and Qld is in the midst of another terrible flood. Even if your house is not burnt out or flooded, you can still be affected by power outages for extended periods. It's a good idea to store your food in a number of ways. If you preserve and bottle and dehydrate, you will still have food sources if your electricity should fail and spoil your freezer load.

Reminder that the Living Better group meets this Thursday 31 st Jan.
details in the side bar or email me.
I will be doing some talks and demos at the Kiliecrankie Nursery open day on the 3rd Feb from 10.30-2.30


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cubby House Busy

My nephew has come for a visit from the mainland and I am very busy;
making cups of tea and banana pie,
phone calls, washing up,
shopping, making orangeade/lemonade,
telling the time and dressing babies.

sorting shapes and colours, reading books,

Moving furniture and organising people and pondering dress standards.
And that's all without leaving the cubby house!

We also have a bag of money that we take with our folding chairs to see the circus just along the way, through the gate and beside the chook house in the shade of the apple tree. 
We pay for our tickets and sit and enjoy the show.
After the circus we have to feed the chickens and collect the eggs

Pick some vegetables and visit the fairies

Isn't 3 a gorgeous age?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using The Whole Animal

A little while ago we purchased a whole pig from a farmer we know in a town not far from here. They were not heritage breed pigs, just plain old Landrace but well bred and ethically raised in a paddock with somewhere to wander and snuffle. 
There are many cuts from the meat and they are all frozen into portions in the freezer.

As I did last year, I made Fromage de Tete (see above) from the head and trotters and you can read about that here. It keeps for up to a month in the fridge and is delicious for cut lunches and carries a robust chutney or pickle very well.

The left over liquor from the simmer makes a wonderful pork jelly with creamy rendered fat on the top.

This is the leftovers to give you an idea how it looks stored in the fridge.
Pork jelly is the solidified rich stock that naturally occurs from using the trotters. This is very nutritious and a real treat heated up as a broth or even a couple of tablespoons into a mug with boiling water to fill and stirred to dissolve makes a nourishing drink and is very good for when you are feeling poorly. 
The fat is easily scraped off the top and is spreadable on bread if you are so inclined or may be used in place of cooking/frying oil.
( Read an interview here with Sally Fallon author of "Nourishing Traditions" about animal fat. Even better, by the book)

I wish I was a big fan of offal but I'm working towards it but the dogs like a lot of the stuff I don't. I do favour the cheap cuts too though and you can read how to enjoy ham hocks here.
The extra fat is cut and rendered for soap and we have talked about that here before.

The advantages of getting to know producers in your area and being able to buy a whole beast and honouring that beast by using the whole product. I am supporting local producers who raise ethically AND living frugally. It is a fallacy to say that eating organic is always the most expensive route. If you live in a city you may have to look to a small town for a producer or approach a butcher for a better deal for a whole beast, fat and all! 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beetroot and Carrot Salad with Pomegranate Dressing

Last week we talked about the beetroot glut and I gave you some ideas about how we are enjoying them and last night I made this salad for dinner and I'm pretty sure I haven't shared it with you before.
It is a recipe originally from the Thermomix recipe community but it was a little too sweet for me so I have adjusted the dressing. I'm pretty sure you could use the pulse function on your food processor to achieve a similar texture.
This recipe is SUPER-fast and don't be scared to tweak it and make it your own.

1-2 tabs of pomegranate molasses
1-2 tabs vinegar (eg balsamic, white wine, chive flavoured)
3 tabs of good olive oil
squeeze of orange juice

Whizz to combine in your processor 

400g of beetroot trimmed and quartered
400g of carrots cut into similar sized chunks.

Pulse till chopped to a moderately fine texture.
Stir in a handful of currants or raisins or cranberries and a couple of handfuls of pumpkin seed kernels

Spoon onto a bed of baby spinach and sprinkle with cubes of feta.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Fairy Garden

I have vague memories of going to see a fairy garden when I was about four years of age. I recollect that it was in the Currumbin Valley area back in the days when the Gold Coast was a lovely seaside town. Before the days of skyscrapers and shopping malls. At that time I contracted German measles and measles at the same time and was very ill and hospitalised and while confined to bed I whiled away some hours with a fuzzy felt of fairies. I digress but it serves to illustrate how memories become influenced with all these contributing factors. Suffice to say I have, and this is no exaggeration, glorious and grandiose memories of visiting a fairy garden and have carried the desire within me to re-create this for my own children. 

It never happened. 
I was too busy being a mother etc. but I am determined to have one for my grandchildren one day. I have had a section of the garden set aside for this purpose for years but it has languished a bit. I have procrastinated, planned and even pinned lots of ideals here.
My nephew's imminent visit has spurred me on. I hadn't intended to buy "stuff" but at short notice a few props were in order. In my mind I had imagined hand making and weaving little fences and crafting houses from coconut shells and drift wood. Still it is an on-going project and there is always time.

Basically I have a section containing rhododendrons and camellias that I have styled in a rough canopy over the years so that children can wind around little paths beneath their boughs. Even to this day I love tunnels of greenery above my head, so mysterious and secret. ( I read a lot of Enid Blyton)

I like little things to discover around bends.

Butterflies and toadstools.

And fairy stepping stones....

A fairy house (made from a trinket box) hiding among the tall Solomon's Seal fronds. We forget how tall these plants appear to a 3 or 4yr old. The trick is to scooch down and see the world from a different perspective.

Another fairy house....

And another hanging in the trees....

It's quite a small space, probably only 2m x 5m, not like the whole garden I visited in my childhood, but still a tiny piece of magic. Plenty to help fire an imagination I hope.

Can you see here I have added an old dressing table mirror to make the area look bigger and add perspective? It's been in the garden there already for five years just waiting for something to happen.
well it's a start and it has given me the impetus to tend this patch of ground with more purpose now. I would like to add some clematis in the future to add to the canopy and some more ferns and hostas below. Perhaps a gravelled path for the littlies too.
Have you created fairy gardens? Or perhaps you have visited one. Please feel free to share your links to fairy kingdoms in the comments so we can all share.

The Magic Onions Blog is holding their 5th annual Fairy Garden contest and is open till Monday 5th August 2013, so plenty of time to 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Know What Sunny Days Are For...?

Sunny days are for sunflowers and happy moods and motivation.
We are getting plenty around here.
I take these lovely multi-headed bronze sunflowers to market and what doesn't sell comes home to sit here on my bench seat like a big outdoor vase of flowers.

Sunny days are for painting and I am getting plenty of that done too.
The chook shed has had a spruce up and a couple of the gates and arches around here.
The cubby house is next in my sights as I am expecting a visit from a 3yr old nephew.
Just a little excited as we haven't met before.
His visit has also given me the impetus to get in and make a genuine start on the fairy garden.

...What wondrous life is this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
the nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach:
Stumbling on melons as I do pass,
Ensnared in flowers, I fall on grass.

From "The Garden" by Andrew Marvel (circa 1650)

Hope your day is filled with sunshine and if you are having a gloomy winter day in the north, just close your eyes and imagine it so.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Don't Forget To Harvest Herbs

The days have been quite hot and dry with little dew about. Now is the time to be harvesting many of your herbs for seed, leaf and flower. Everyone gets quite caught up in the vegetable garden at this time of year with everything putting on lots of growth and needing extra mulching and watering and it is quite easy to keep putting the herb harvest on the bottom of the I have been doing with the lavender.

Pick your herbs when the sun has been up for a while and everything is dried off a little. They can be hung in bunches or spread on fly wire frames. Herbs like mint and parsley can be placed in your dehydrator.
Store dried herbs in sealed glass jars in a dark cupboard to preserve the maximum potency ready for use over winter.

Our Living Better Group this month will be looking at ways of using dried herbs in the home. We will be meeting at the Cock and Bull from 7-9.
I will also be demonstrating at the Killiecrankie Farm Nursery open day on the 3rd of February.
In the meantime get yourselves out there and pick some heavenly sweet Roman chamomile. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Beetroot Glut

Perfect weather at the market yesterday and there is a subtle change in the produce available.
Chard, spinach, radishes are giving way to beetroot, figs and berries.

Coriander, celery leaf and sage are giving way to parsley, basil and mint.

We are enjoying a glut of beetroot at the moment and my hands are commonly pink at some point daily.

We are boiling them and slicing them for sandwiches or enjoying them hot as a side vegetable at dinner.
We are adding cooked chunks to salads or using it raw grated with carrot and dressing it with a pomegranate molasses, olive oil and cider vinegar dressing with walnuts and feta.

I am also naturally fermenting some for lacto-fermented pickles.
Tangy crunchy beetroot slices for anti-pasto platters.

It is on my bench and being turned daily. 
I took inspiration from this recipe here for my pickling solution flavours.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Smoke and Stashes

We are in the middle of a heatwave and the island is struggling with terrible bushfires to the south, the east and north-west with watchful eyes on low grade fires in the upper midlands.
We are totally out of harms way here but the smoke is affecting my asthma so I am laying low inside as much as possible. The heat forces me in doors anyway.
From inside I hear the fire helicopter going over head on a regular basis, rattling the windows and sounding more sinister than reassuring (too many movies I guess).

I am making the most of the opportunity inside and have made a pair of pyjamas for my 3yr old nephew who will be visiting this month from Melbourne. They remind me of the vintage print of my childhood and many a night I went to sleep on hot summer nights like these tracing the cowboy and Indian images with my eyes across the wall paper in my cousin Pete's room.
I am very excited about my nephew's visit and when it cools off a little, I want to give the cubby house a coat of paint. Both of his parents work for Circus Oz  and I smile a little because he is coming to do a circus school camp (with his parents of course) out at Golconda past Lilydale.

I was originally going to do buttons but then I remembered I had press studs and they always seemed a bit retro cowboy to me. 
The pattern was using New Look 6746 and has sizing from 3-8. I would rate this for intermediate to experienced sewers. Beginners should seek some guidance from a mentor as the collar and inner facings are a bit tricky and the instructions were a bit short on clarity. It was only because I used to make this style for my own girls that I managed it.

I have also been making peg bags and they are great for using up bits and pieces.
I used the pattern here and it is dead simple. I opted to sew mine up all the way around and pull through the hole for the hook though, making the base stronger with machine stitching. 
I was aiming to get these made in time for Christmas gifts but they didn't run to schedule....Next year!

Between gifts at Christmas, new cushions for the lounge and curtains for the cubby house and a couple of aprons, I am making some serious in roads into the stash. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...