Monday, September 26, 2011

Lots happening at the farm... all 1/8 of an acre of it :)

I am loving having a strong set of arms (belong to my husband) who is happy to dig holes, move heavy things and is currently installing my fence between the lawn area and the vege garden area. All the posts are in now, just need two more recycled hardwood rails - from my BIL who is renovating his and my sister's house and ripped out some walls.

I have been busy in the kitchen...

Sourdough english muffins for breakfast this morning...

Sundried tomato and olive sourdough loaf....

And exciting to be bottling the first produce entirely from the garden! 4 size 20 jars of yummy rhubarb. I was given the plants from a special friend who was killed in a freak car accident shortly afterward and they are very special to me. This year I divided most of the original plants and they are doing so well. I always make sure I leave two leaves and one baby leaf on each plant when I am picking it.

Sourdough loaf (you need starter from a friend or watch multitudes of youtube videos on how to grow your own.

Feed your starter with a flour/water mix the night before

Before work the next morning....

1 cup starter

1 cup water

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar or honey (only if going to be a fruit loaf)

I put all these in a mixer with a dough hook and then add plain flour (mix of regular and wholemeal) until dough forms a lump and comes away from the sides.
Then place dough - still a bit sticky - in an oiled bowl and turn a few times to coat in oil (stops it drying out) Put the whole bowl in a plastic shopping bag and leave all day.

When you get home from work.

Tip dough (should have about doubled in size) onto well floured bench.

For a plain loaf - knead a minute or two then put in loaf tin

for a fruit loaf - knead a minute then use fingers to spread dough out into a rectangle. Sprinkle mixed fruit (I am using sultanas/raisings and dried plums at the moment) and 1 tsp mixed spice onto the bread, then fold it over and knead the fruit through a little. Place in loaf tin.

For a savoury loaf. Do the same but use sundried tomatoes and olives (no pits) chopped roughly and I use mixed italian herb sprinkle too. Place in loaf tin.

Leave for 1-2 hrs. (I have noticed that there is a warm spot just in front of my oven... not sure why, but tins go there while oven heats up)

Bake in a hot oven 200-220'c for 30-35 mins

Should pop out of tin straight away.

(loaves can also be made freeform on a pizza stone)

delicious toasted.... just had two slices of fruit toast to prove it.

Anyone have any other interesting sourdough recipes

Hannah xo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

vege garden update

Everything is growing, and currently it's raining and all the plants are loving it! In this bed all the potatoes are up and I have filled in their trench with the soil I had taken out of it. When they grow some more I'll pile up some compost and straw for the potatoes to keep growing and more of a harvest out of a small space.

In the middle I have just planted fennel, beetroot and climbing beans under the frame. On the end near us is some silverbeet from my sister which has just taken off this week, picked first leaves this morning to have on sourdough toast with poached eggs.

On the right from front to back is basil, carrots, eggplant, lettuce, okra, tomatoes and capsicum, more carrots and rocket.

The photo of the other garden didn't work but we are eating cabbage, broad beans, coriander, broccoli, celery, kale and onions.

In the very rear of this photo you can also see the great fence my hubby is putting up for me, it is to hold an antique blacksmiths vice from his great grandfather, and to seperate the vege garden from the rest of the yard. I am going to use the thickest straightest prunings to use as palings to make it look as natural as possible and will use it to grow something, maybe passionfruit? Any other suggestions...?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Upcycling - recycling but better.

Rhonda over at Down to Earth posted this week on recycling and asked others to talk about their efforts. My house, and the majority of it's contents are recycled in some way, in fact it's only in the last year or so that I have ever bought new furniture (although I did buy new whitegoods when I moved into my house as I had given my old ones away a year before when I moved from Sydney to the south coast to board with friends.

My garden beds are recycled from old fences, rabbit cage from an old chook cage that was chucked out on the side of the road, Some of my plants are recycled (cuttings, saplings from other gardeners, even a mature pear tree that someone gave us in return for digging it out of her garden.) About half of my kitchen equipment is recycled, handed down by an aunt when she replaces things, collected at op shops and garage sales etc. Clothes the same. The list could go on....

Probably my favourite example of recycling/upcycling is my wedding. (click on hyperlink to go to photographer's blog) I got married in June and a lot of things were recycled. Candle holders from op shops and markets, vases from a friend at church, ring holder made from an antique prayer book by inserting a secret hole by cutting out with a punch. We also had a friend drive me to the wedding in a recycled boat (he bought it worse for wear and did it up) some friends were taking bets that I would fall in as there wasn't a proper jetty and we had to walk off the front of the boat

The most important upcycled item was my wedding dress. I purchased it over ten years ago (about 9 or so years before I met my husband but anyhow, it was a steal) in a second hand shop as it was beautiful and fit me like it was made for me... It was a bit old in style though - think lace sleeves with frills over your hands, high frilly neck. I unpicked the sleeves and worked out that I could modernise the dress by pulling it to the sides. Lucky for me I have an amazing friend who studied fashion design and together we recreated the dress....
And it was an amazing wedding!

This last photo is a photo of us recycling a shed - It was originally recycled with old corrugated iron roofing, built around an old cottage fireplace with chimney - to use as kitchen for a camp, and storage when camp not on.

It was blown down in storms last year in September (on father's day - Aussies will remember the weather on the south coast) and we rerecycled it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spring and all it's sweetness

My garden is full of spring, new seedlings, lots of broad beans ready for picking, grass growing faster than it has through winter.... but my favourite thing is flowers... especially on the fruit trees. This is my nectarine, which is one of the last to flower. We had a couple of days of high 20's even up to 30 degrees celcius here in the last week, and it finally decided to bloom.

Also blooming is my new pear tree... and the most gorgeous baby pears forming after the flowers are done... I think it's a new favourite, they are just so perfect. The apple trees are just budding, small bunches of tiny buds pushing out of their branches almost miraculously.

Chamomile... looking forward to harvesting some of my own for tea...

Citrus... limes, oranges, lemons and more... the scent in the morning is divine. I am watching out for the descent of the stink bugs, but they haven't arrived yet and I am hoping that newspaper and mulch that has gone down over the last year may just have broken the cycle....

Roses... just because they're beautiful, and I think I pruned at the right time this year

Grapes... one vine already has tiny bunches coming out. The sultana I planted two years ago is growing leaves but no fruit yet... hopefully it still will.

Strawberries, mustn't forget them... have started work on a driveway of strawberries. Can't wait to see it complete, but as we have to kill off the difficult weeds and grasses that are underneath, it is going to be a work in progress for a while.

Monday, September 12, 2011

learning new skills

A year or two ago I bought some cake decorating equipment at a garage sale. My grandma has a history of beautiful cake decorating, equisite fine lacework and my parents wedding cake (in fact every wedding cake of my aunts and uncles) my dedication cake and other special events were all celebrated with cakes she had made.

Today I spent the morning with a friend from church learning and experimenting with how to use some of the equipment I had purchased. These are the piped butter icing cakes, a sunflower, a flower and a swirl. Then we played with fondant, and I made a rose and a carnation. Amy my friend has attended two short courses and then taught herself the rest, and is very inspiring. She was very impressed with the supplies I had bought... and it may have inspired her to start attending garage sales :)

I had one of the cakes for afternoon tea with a cup of earl gray, and it was very nice.

Then while I listened to a uni lecture, I made cassoulet - I have been wanting to make this since we ordered it on our honeymoon in july and it was delicious, both then and now. I roasted vegetables to go with it, and the sage, leeks, kale, potatoes and sweet potatoes were from my garden! And served with my sourdough bread... The proportion of food from the garden is steadily increasing...

I didn't find this recipe on any of the websites, but the place we went served the dish with an amazing crumb, reminded me of farofa from brasil. The chef told me it was almond meal and sage in olive oil.

My version of sage crumb
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup almond meal
1 clove garlic crushed
small bunch sage leaves finely chopped
s and p
2 tbsp olive oil

Lightly cook garlic in oil then add other ingredients, turning to coat crumb with oil and prevent burning. Ready when fragrant and lightly brown. Serve generously sprinkled over cassoulet

Speaking of the garden, yesterday I visited a gardening friend and came away with a plum tree sucker I had been wanting ever since eating the fruit of one of the other trees, a fig tree, warrigal greens, leeks, carrot seedlings, mint, currant bushes, turnips, and land cress. Everything seems to be growing well, and the bunnies are enjoying the pepino leaves she picked for them.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

ferment and family

I got a wonderful gift from a colleague at work - some sourdough starter. Her sister has had this one going for almost a year, and got it from someone else before that so I have no idea how old it is.
It was not very exciting looking when I picked it up, murky white underneath, with watery liquid on top, and faint bubbles coming through, a bit of a beery smell....

I quickly did some research on tending for my new aquisition and headed home to feed it... after a while it started to respond, as you can see in this photo, full of bubbles - a sign that it is alive and well, as the yeast and bacteria eat their way through the new flour.
I divided the starter and with some started making pancakes for the morning, and with the other fed it and in the morning, mixed up dough for a loaf of bread. The pancakes were amazing.

1/2-1 cup starter
mix with one cup flour and one cup water
Leave overnight

In the morning mix in one egg
2tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

It's ready to cook, they were lovely, thick and moist with lots of bubbles. Delicious with fruit and yoghurt, or jam/syrup

The bread was delicious too... I will post recipe and photos soon.....

Also had a lovely time on father's day at local cafe with my dad, siblings and some partners. My nephew was only a few weeks old last father's day. He's a toddler now and thinks he's very grown up

Monday, September 5, 2011


My sister showed me this clip tonight....

Makes you stop... and think about life...

This young man was physically deformed by chemical warfare in middle east, but was found and loved and nutured by an extraordinary woman. He doesn't really care that he doesn't know his birthday or how old he is, he has a family. A brother who survived hell with him, a mum who rescued them, healed them and is their hero, and a future.

I am grateful for a husband who loves me, siblings and parents who live nearby and are part of my world. Friends who I love and support and who love and support me. For a garden where I grow food. I am grateful that I do not have to worry about my safety walking outside my house each day, that Australia is relatively stable financially, politically and otherwise. That I can legally attend my place of worship with other believers. I am grateful that I have a birth certificate and a baby book scrapbooking my entry into the world and my growth. I am grateful for the life I have lived and excited about the future. I hope I live it well and expansively.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

fire's burning....

We have been enjoying clearing up some of the remains of my recent kitchen renovations by making use of the firepit. it's a 44 gallon drum made from steel and cut in half that I picked up at the tip for $2 or so. I drilled holes around the base on the outside to allow for ventilation and propped it up on a couple of old bricks and hey presto - it's a fireplace. I have a grate I can put over the top to make it a bbq too.

There's something magical about flames, I can sit and watch them for hours, occasionally adding a log or repositioning... We have had a few dinner parties now outside around it with mugs of soup and fresh bread, cooking damper as the coals die down (delicious) or just enjoying it while people are arriving and chatting. an essential part of the backyard :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Garden Lovers Fair and hummus recipe

Last sunday I woke up, looked outside and felt a sigh of relief as I saw the sun. It was the sunday of the Garden Lover's Fair, annual fundraiser of our permaculture group, and the weather can be quite changeable at this time of year and the fair is amazing, the biggest collection of plant growers, seeds, garden supplies on the south coast, and this year we increased the focus on food products and sustainable living.

I spent a lot of time on the gate, and behind the permaculture stand, answering questions about growing food, living sustainably, meeting times etc, and eventually found some time to have a wander around, buy my spring seedlings (there's a store that does pick your own punnet - so I got a punnet with 2 each of tomato, capsicum and eggplant, and one with different herbs and some red onions.

Also got a strawberry guava and a lillipilli (native food producing plant) which I'm going to plant in my neighbours yard ( we have a hold in the fence so I can get in to water and harvest) and an orchid I have been wanting to get for a while... I then texted my hubby to say thankyou to him for buying me such a lovely gift.

One of the highlights was the cooking demonstrations that were put on by with a vege tagine, hummus and salad. I went home and made the salad and hummus monday night, and it was amazing...

1 tin of chickpeas drained

1/4 cup tahini (ground sesame seeds)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 clove garlic


Put all in a food processor and start it, slowly adding water to the mix until it is a smooth consistency and able to be poured (like thick cream)

Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika and served with flatbread to dip.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

hello world

I haven't posted on here... gosh in maybe over a year. life has been busy. Hectic. managing nearly fulltime work, parttime study and life is hard, but I have my eye on the prize, graduating at the end of the year. And I've also had another big thing happen this year... I got married.
So last weekend, despite the wet weather as we were staying in camping caves (giant overhangs that stay pretty much permanently dry) we went on our first hike on our own. Love hiking in the Budawangs, on the east coast of Australia, and the fact that it is only just down the road for us is amazing!

On the second night, I was very grateful that there were two caves, as a scout troop arrived to stay the night after we had settled down at Gadarra Point. They were pretty good, and it was funny to hear a family voice coming down the hill towards us (I knew one of the leaders) It was good to have a chat, and they showed us a track to a waterfall that isn't marked on the maps.

Well, I am going to try and post regularly again - once a week minimum and hope to see some of you here again.