The title of my post today is, coincidentally, the source of a great degree of twitching on my behalf. Pumpkin, the great orange starch of choice of South American’s, African’s and we Aussies en masse could hardly be seen as anything other than benign. Slightly to very sweet, with dense flesh that can be roasted, steamed, mashed, made achingly sweet in the great American traditional pies or soothingly silky in a roasted pumpkin soup and all things in between. Versatile to a “T” BUT that’s when you are cooking with them. I personally LOVE pumpkin but the thought of wielding a pencil and drawing 50 of them makes me twitch. We just did a Google search and found some past students work and I don’t feel so bad any more…I am still going to practice drawing pumpkins and be innovative about what I draw but I no longer think I have to be artistically gifted after seeing what other students have cobbled together…the net is a great fear leveller .
What was left of the pumpkin vine on the large compost bin next to the chook shed after the possums decided that they might just eat those prickly pumpkin leaves as a remedy for starvation…
Something invaded Poland and scarfed all of the leaves off the potato plants…can’t blame the possums for this one (unless they breed them miniscule these days…) and my money is on slugs but those spuds needed to be dug up…
The MASSIVE haul of potatoes from the heap…I have to say with 10kg of potatoes going for as little as $6 a sack in Tasmania I am seriously asking myself if it is actually worth attempting to grow spuds on Serendipity Farm!!!
Trying to make them look more but any way you look at it, a bit of a mingy serving for 1 methinks! Back to the drawing board!
Steve noticed something out of the corner of his eye in the side garden when we were hitching Earl up for his walk yesterday morning. Apparently it’s not only the wallabies and possums that have been evicted from their native bushland by the bushfires…3 large grey kangaroos hopped away and up into the first paddock where they stood watching us and waiting for the troublesome humans to head off before them came back for second helpings…I know its them that have been tag teaming my vegetable garden all summer and they have been working together to push in the netting and eat whatever lush green things protrude. I can’t be overly angry at them because times are tough at the end of summer in Sidmouth and we veggo’s have to stick together. We have noticed an increase in the amount of birds coming to drink and bath at our bird baths because the little fresh water creeks are all dried up and water is a precious commodity. We have water bowls on the ground for our 3 feral chooks…”Stock”, “Pot” and “Ermingtrude”. I would imagine the wildlife take advantage of the opportunity to avail themselves of some free water after they have been predating (doing their rounds) our helpless potted plants on the outside of Steve’s shed, selecting the tenderest leaves and shoots to eat first. I note that one of them has eaten the leaves off a small (only just regrown) rhubarb again and can only wonder at the cast iron stomach that could digest something so poisonous! I read an article http://permaculturenews.org/2013/02/23/fernglade-farm-late-summer-2013-update-australia/ this morning about a fellow Aussie food forester who has had to get ingenious with how to keep his food forest alive over an extended long hot and VERY dry summer. Using permaculture principals and ideas he has managed to prevent 90% of his trees, shrubs and perennials from drying up and blowing away. It’s a most interesting read and there is a short video accompanying it.
If you would like to check out the article that I wrote for the latest Tamar N.R.M. newsletter…click the above link
I am in print folks! I wrote an article for the Tamar N.R.M. February Newsletter about my recent attendance at some of their free workshops, in particular, their sustainable living workshops and if anyone would like to read it, please head over using this link to read my very first “published” article . I have also been asked to review someone’s book. I follow a blog called “Active Happiness”…no surprises that I would be following a blog that actively encourages and fosters the act of happiness as a valid choice in life, but to have Lynda ask me to review her book was a real privilege. I love how her blog gives little daily pictorial wisdoms and the occasional article about promoting the act of happiness as a choice, rather than waiting for it to come to you. I have been SO busy this week that I haven’t been able to read the book yet but it’s not huge and I will be reading it today. I get to review it on Amazon and another website and if the book is anything like Lynda’s blog, it will be a runaway hit. Feel free to head over and explore her blog… if anything, it is refreshing to find a blog in pursuit of such a noble cause )… http://activehappiness.com/book/
Steve’s River Rats weather rope
They say that adding something unexpected into a post gives it more interest and weight…is this unexpected enough for you folks? I found it on one of my walks with Earl and thought that Steve would like it for his music room…the music of the seagull isn’t really something that would lull me to sleep but hey, the ditch was suffering from a lack of nightingale skulls the other day…what can I say!
This is what our Aussie plain wrap ciggarette packets look like now. Steve and I don’t smoke so when I found this packet on the road I was most intregued. I realise that the government is worried about the aged population of smokers who started smoking back when smoking was hip and cool in the 50′s and 60′s and they also want to disuade the young women who take up smoking as an aid to weight loss…these packets are probably going to at least make their target audience uncomfortable whenever they flip the packet lid to light up BUT they just might be shooting themselves in the foot…sort of a 2 steps forward and 1 step back moment because every single 8 – 12 year old boy is going to want to collect every one of these packets…may as well take up smoking while they do! AND imagine the emo’s, steampunk alternative artists etc. who would not only be completely unfazed by these photos, but would get actively excited by them! Back to the drawing board Australian Government…you just robbed Peter to pay Paul!
Steve just made the equivalent of a “Redneck Weather Rope”. He made it for our friend Guy who lives opposite the boat ramp just around the corner who rather than calling himself a hillbilly, would rather be known as a “River Rat”. He even has a flagpole with his own Triple R (River.Rats.Retreat.) Bar flag which is flying at half-mast today in honour of Roxy’s now defunct cat that was found dead in the gutter by Boofy yesterday a victim of a fast cornering car. The cat’s most dubious name was “Maggot Guts” and I haven’t ever asked why the poor thing had that awful moniker…some things just “are”. Roxy and Guy are good friends and most interesting people. Thinking about our little local community brings me back to an online conversation that I had yesterday with “Chica” (have I ever asked you your name Ms Andaluza?!!! ) the amazing Spanish dwelling frugalista of http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ fame who said that where we live on Serendipity Farm in Sidmouth reminds her of her own small village. She has a resident transvestite and we have Michael, our resident aging Californian eccentric with “interesting” views of the world and self-claimed prophet of the rapidly approaching apocalypse. Where her tranny dresses up, Michael passes out conspiracy theory material to anyone who will foolishly take it. The further out of a city you get, the more eccentric and eclectic a mix of people you end up with. It’s funny that people who like to live in the country tend to be somewhat eccentric. It might just be that you don’t notice it in the city because the constraints of city life don’t give you the time to examine your neighbours with a microscope…in fact it might even be against some city ordinance to do so! Out in the country the rules are made to be broken and the officials who make those rules rarely visit (if ever) and so suddenly we country dwellers find ourselves on the fringes of civilisation with a very loose translation of the rule book in our hands and having to make it up as we go along. It certainly makes for a most interesting life! As a proponent of the elevation of Communities above the self-rule model, I think that we have a long way to go until we can feel comfortable with opening up our ethos to group sharing but those communities that do share, are the strongest.
Luminous over exposed tomatoes…”whatchagonnadoeh?!”
Not so over exposed but definately over abundant…what the heck are we going to do with all of these!!!
The beginning of our tomato harvest and the end of our cucumber harvest…a somehow fitting photo
A while ago I was staying with my daughters and I overheard them commenting on a television advertisement “she is obviously a dancer…look at those calves!”… I, myself, am in possession of voortrekkers calves thanks to daily juggling between studiously resisting being pulled up the road and hauling protesting dogs back up the driveway when they have realised that we are on the home stretch which just so happens to be complete with its own built in steep ascent where the act of dragging a 40kg dog certainly gives a body a set of biceps to be proud of and on the way down, the dogs are in full tractor pull mode which goes part way to revealing why we have worn heels on all of our shoes… Sturdy vorrtrekkers calves that will take me where I want to go…calves that won’t win any medals for elegance or shape but that give me an overall solidity that makes me hard to shove over. What my daughters had said got me to thinking about what we do to our bodies and how they respond. The musculature of a dancer and the biceps of a brickies labourer notwithstanding, how about the pallid, pasty white exterior of a computer programmer or the bespectacled visage of a librarian…we all fall prey to judging books by their cover but are we feeling badly about that for nothing? Certain types of people are drawn to certain types of employment and often a specific “look” is required for the position…read supermodel and weep folks! Are we being shallow and superficial when we put someone in a certain box? Perhaps in hindsight not! There are always exceptions to the rule but I have found that people in the mainstream are perfectly happy to be tarred with specific brushy genres so long as they are seen as “normal”. As a scruffy, middle aged, somewhat bolshie student hippy I can’t complain when someone judges us as such… that’s what we are…voortrekkers calves and all!
A mix of sugar, olive oil, chopped dates, vanilla and eggs, soon to be wading in a sourdough pond
The above mass mixed into the waiting starter, flour and kefir mix and doesn’t it love it! You can see the starter mix feeding on the sweet date mix within a minute of stirring them together!
This is what the flour, kefir and sourdough starter pre-ferment looks like. It’s stirred together about 8 hours before you want to make your cake which predigests the flour making it more nutritious and easily digestable and it smells delightful. I decided to sub kefir for the milk called for in the recipe because I was drowning in the stuff! Kid Creole and his rapidly expanding “coconuts” adore living on Serendipity Farm and are reproducing en masse…anyone in Tassie who wants some Kefir grains let me know!
Stirring the cocoa, sugar, eggs, baking soda, vanilla and spoonful of coffee granules into the above sourdough starter mix to make a chocolate cake
Here’s the “fresh out of the bbq” sourdough spice cake next to Steve’s little handmade dragon cup
Spice cake + chocolate cake = happy Steve
Yesterday I separated out a batch of sourdough starter that I had been feeding at room temperature. I have been meaning to make cake for a few days now but haven’t managed to find the time and so it has been merrily bubbling away over a slumbering Brunhilda waiting for my attentions. Just after lunchtime I decided to get the ingredients for both a chocolate cake and a date spice cake together and separated the starter in two. I then added 2 cups of plain flour to each of 2 bowls, a cup and a half of kefir (in lieu of the designated milk) and a cup of starter then went into each bowl and after stirring, I covered the bowls with a dinner plate so that the mix had a teeny bit of oxygen and promptly forgot about it. The recipe states that you should leave this initial mix for 8 – 12 hours but does anyone out there think I am going to be getting up at 1am to make cakes? Not bleeding likely sunshine! So I just left them do their thing and today at 11am I started making cakes. The recipes for both of these cakes can be perused at the websites below. The chocolate cake recipe is the cake that I made recently but the spice cake is a new one to try. I also found a gorgeous looking sourdough carrot cake recipe at the King Arthur site along with lots of other scrumptious looking cakes, breads and other treats. Check them out if you want to drool!…
With the addition of a cup of chopped up dates, no cloves (Steve doesn’t like them) and an extra tsp of cinnamon, a shake of chilli flakes and using olive oil instead of the coconut oil or butter, the spice cake was the first one into the covered bbq. The cakes are incredibly forgiving and don’t mind you opening up the bbq to spin them around after 15 minutes or all of the prodding, poking, spiking and general fussing about that Steve and I tend to do to cakes. After the cake tested clean with a metal skewer we took it out, whacked the chocolate cake ingredients together and poured it into a greased and lined baking tray (these recipes make BIG cakes) and it is currently toasting its cocoa-y feet in the bbq as I type this. We are going to put orange icing on the chocolate cake and chocolate icing on the date spice cake after cutting the cakes into thirds and freezing 2/3rd of the results. Sourdough starter gives you a whole new world of possibilities. There isn’t much you can’t add a bit of sourdough to where it won’t give you improved flavour and better nutrition. If you mix the ingredients and allow it to work its magic for a matter of hours the results are always stellar. I love the smell of a baking sourdough cake. It has a rich yeasty tang to it that makes you instantly want a piece.
Bezial the great blowfish hunter. He almost fished a dead one out of the river that was floating past him the other day…puffer fish are deadly to dogs! Steve managed to grab him by the neck as the blowfish floated past on the tide that was taking it out to sea and Bezial hasn’t forgiven Steve yet…
The lengths a person has to go to to get a photo of a dog who spends at least 40% of his time in this position who rolls over the second he hears the camera start-up sound and gives me stink eye…guess what Bezial…Ma 1, Bezial nil! . Steve just told me that he would like it known that whenever Bezial is reclining in the sun like this he calls him “Upside Downey Juniour”
Well that brings us to the end of today’s post. Steve and I have to get into studying again and giving up the complete free reign that we have had for the last few months to do whatever we want, whenever we want. It brings out the petulant child in me sometimes but as I am actually enjoying this course a whole lot more than I thought I would, that isn’t really a problem. I am off to read Lynda’s book and try to write a review that really reflects how noble a cause the pursuit of happiness really is and what a “good sort” she is for sharing her secrets with us all and giving it the old college try to extract our twitchy morose modern day ethos and insert a degree of gratefulness, thankfulness and happiness for our lives, no matter who or what we are. See you on Wednesday when I will be the world’s BEST pumpkin sketcher!