Here is the lesson for the week…”some loaves of bread shed a WHOLE lot more crumbs than their physical presence actually warrants.”
In saying that, I have been girding my loins this week bolstered by Jo’s (All the Blue Day) sterling efforts to live frugally with what she has in her pantry. I found myself last night with half a jug full of buttery mashed potato with Italian mixed herbs in it. There are a couple of things wrong with that sentence…firstly “Why are the mashed potatoes in a jug?” and “why are there any leftover?!!!” Firstly, they were in a jug because I needed room in the fridge and so I relegated them to a tall container and secondly, alas, I am no longer able to avail myself of potatoes, even their shallow nutrition free husk (dehydrated potato flake) form that these were. I would usually use them up on top of a tasty shepherd’s pie (one of Steve’s favourite meals) but he doesn’t like the texture of them used this way so I had to come up with another use for my leftovers…
When your husband is very adverse to using leftovers creatively for lunch you have to come up with your own way to cope with the mundane…I call this “Pollock on white”
Not really “left over” per se but a nice cold frosty glass of non-dairy kefir on a hot day is a most glorious thing. Almost as glorious as the feeling you get when you use up all of your leftovers creatively :)
I decided to make a big stockpot of vegetable and red lentil soup which we both love and after seeing Tanya from Chica Andaluza had made an amazing bread recipe that she sourced from Celia at Fig Jam and Lemon Cordial I was bolstered to invent myself a bread. Yes…invent. Why on EARTH would I use a recipe? I started by measuring out 14g of yeast into a Pyrex jug. I figured that I would probably need a bit more yeast as I was going to ask it to leaven about 500g of mashed potato in the dough and had read that yeast struggles a bit with butter (and these spuds had a fair bit in them). I added a teaspoon of sugar and a cup of warm water from the kettle and let it prove while I measured out 600g of strong white bread flour, a teaspoon of salt and dumped the mashed potatoes and what was left of a jar of marinated capsicums chopped up. I squelched it all together and tipped in the yeast mix once it had frothed and then I kneaded the mass (for indeed it was a delightful mass…) on my kitchen table (please don’t ask me if I wiped the table down first…). I bunged it into a largish bowl that I had liberally buttered (you can NEVER have enough butter…) and set it to prove next to the pot that I was tossing vegetables etc. into to make soup.
A creative use for “last nights Asian veggie rice noodle soup” is to eat it for breakfast!
The Lord and Master of Serendipity Farm looking down upon a humble little long suffering aquilegia that has learned to use Earls “leftovers” to its advantage and who has been surviving on said “left overs” in lieu of rain all summer long
After the dough had risen beautifully (giving me a bit of hope that it might at least look like bread when I baked it) I punched it down and shaped 2/3rd of it into balls and put them into a lovely flower-pot cake pan I once bought specifically for baking bread rolls in and the rest into a small loaf pan (both liberally buttered). I let them prove and then baked them when the soup was almost ready for 30 minutes and the bread was apparently really delicious as Steve ate 3 of the large rolls with his soup. I find that most homemade bread is lovely on the first day you make it but tends to be a bit tough the next day and best used for toast. Not THIS bread. I cut some and the crumb was as bouncy and wonderful as supermarket white…now I have to sit down and try to remember exactly what I used and how I did it to attempt to replicate it in the future!
According to Ms Lena Lovich “The best things in life are free” but the best bread ideas are also free but when you freestyle your bread you have to be certain that you don’t want to make it again or that you have a very good memory…
Does anyone happen to know what this lily/bulb is? I bought some bulbs in pots last year from a small nursery and just bunged them in never thinking that any would survive and this lovely big red thing appears to have survived right in the middle of where the chooks have dust baths…obviously you could grow these on the moon…pity I never knew what it was called
I have been meeting up with a lady from down the street called Jan. She and her gorgeous female Rottweiler Mica (I hope I spelled that right Jan ;) ) walk down our dirt road regularly and we decided to see if Earl and Mica would play nice. Mica has a bit of a problem with small dogs and Earl is…well… Earl, so we tentatively started walking after meeting up on the road last week. The dogs were exemplary and behaved themselves impeccably which surprised both of us and we have been meeting up every couple of days to walk them together since. Today we walked back to Jan’s house where Earl and Mica frolicked (flat out) around her magnificent big back yard and it was lovely seeing them both enjoying each other’s company. “Hi Jan” if you are reading this post :)
Here is the veggie garden update images for this week. As you can see the warmer weather has been a boon to the veggies and at least something on Serendipity Farm is enjoying it!
My experimental gone exponential fecund garden. I have NO idea how I am going to find the fruits of this harvest but I just love that it grew. Any actual harvest will be a bonus to the wellbeing I have gained from this little oasis of green :)
What is left of our potted plants being watered with the long suffering tumbleweed filled arid garden next to it
The weather has finally decided to cool down a bit here and the last couple of days have been positively blissful. It might even r.a.i.n. this weekend (you have to spell it out because if it knows you are onto it, it won’t appear, much like Father Christmas…) and I, for one, can’t sing loud enough in gratitude. I have a pretty busy day today with posting and heading over to pick up library books and post off some items to some most deserving blogger mates. Pauline, Bev and Jess, watch your mailboxes sometime next week ;) . I was able to tear myself away from walking Earl and lazing around Pinning on Pinterest in order to water the crazed mass of vegetation formerly known as “my vegetable garden”. I have given up looking for order and have let it run amok as a kind of super experiment to see what happens. This garden wouldn’t have happened without my friend insisting that I plant it and providing specimens from her own garden in order for it to grow and along with adventitious pumpkins, potatoes and tomatoes and the odd cucumber that have sprung up out of the compost and disturbed soil this entire garden is lucky to be growing and so I owe it to nature to allow it to do whatever it wants this season.
I love that “weeds”, in this case white clover, are all jumbled in with the good guys and the bees are loving these white clover flowers while they fix nitrogen in the soil. I reckon they deserve their place in my garden :)
These are garlic chive flowers and they have the most delightful floral fragrance, nothing like garlic at all!
What happens when you turn on the hose and nothing comes out and you go to investigate and unplug the hose from the main tap…sigh…I attempted to take a selfie of my face as it copped most of the water but the end results had me looking like a startled Beaker from the Muppets so I decided to spare you the pain
My experimental compost heap has apparently exploded with pumpkins. There is a kind of natural selection going on that involves possums bouncing up and down on top of the netting in order to try to reach something underneath and snapping off and spitefully (they hate pumpkins…) chewing off my pumpkins that have reached the top of the enclosure but in the process they are actually doing the pumpkin vines good! I was a bit put out by them snapping off my giant sunflower but it has grown side arms and is waving its cheery happy flowers up at them in a most karmic way. I get the feeling that possums are vindictive little buggers because I was wondering why some of my pumpkin leaves were suffering some kind of “disease” where the surrounding pumpkin leaves were absolutely fine. I scratched my head until I realised that the “diseased” leaves were all in a row…a long sort of row that led to where my sunflower had been decapitated and where the pumpkin vines had been chewed off…”possum pee!” Possum pee is pure stinky battery acid by the way and as pumpkin leaves are tough as nails you get the feeling that you wouldn’t want to be standing underneath a possum looking up when he decided to relieve himself…
I left this silverbeet stump in the ground as an experiment. It survived being attacked by possums, chooks, wallabies and was STILL alive so I let it grow and it has now gone to seed. As far as I am concerned, the best seed is from the hardiest plants and this baby certainly fits the bill when it comes to survivors
Looking back at my experimental compost heap veggie garden. Everything that you see here grew from the compost heap
As you can see the experimental compost heap is going great guns. I reckon leaving it heaped up has enabled the mass to retain a lot of moisture and these pumpkins are especially happy with their lot and are migrating outwards to cover the bare patches at the top of the veggie garden where beds haven’t been built yet
Another image of how crowded it is getting. There are garden beds under here but I am loath to trim anything back this year. “Let it grow!” is my motto. I am sure I will regret this train of thought at a later date but for now I am luxuriating in how lush it all looks
My yacon plants that keep sending up little new yacon through the middle of all of these spuds. I am most interested to see if anything eventuates from their efforts and I had best start looking up how to harvest them and when to do so. Anyone have any ideas?
Crew cut button squash
The exponential garden is starting to provide us with a few odds and sods to eat. We picked a plethora of zucchini and an enormous “button” squash that would be more appropriate to use as an anchor than a button. I was a bit miffed that my scarlet runner beans weren’t growing any beans but have been noticing a few large beans that I will collect this year and grow some more next year along one of the sides of the enclosure. Pumpkins are forming rapidly and are getting larger by the day and corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and various other fruits are forming on my frolicking plants that seem to like living in a tangled mass that gets sporadically watered. I get the feeling that nature is smiling on my tangled mess and is rewarding my complete lack of care that the tomatoes are all laying down on the ground, the possum battle scared silverbeet/chard is more “chew” than leaf and my pumpkins are spreading throughout the large expanse of enclosure by allowing me to actually harvest a few items this year.
Prospective harvest! Even if they don’t ripen I have lots of recipes for green tomatoes
More prospective harvest looking MUCH happier than the transplanted corn that I grew last year. This corn grew from a seed in situ
If you have a pot, a bit of potting mix, heck, even a pile of dust you can grow strawberries. I got all of my strawberries from runners that someone had thrown out at the tip! They are the hardiest thing known to man (aside from cockroaches but as far as I am aware, no-one actively cultivates cockroaches ;) )
My first ever crop of peas. Planted from seed we have high hopes for them. My friend and I tried a couple and they weren’t all that not so long ago but I left some ripen up and fill out their pods and even though the pod isn’t particularly tasty, the peas inside are sweet and delicious. There might even be enough for Steve to have as part of a meal! ;)
I might not even mind that our summer is going to stretch out another 60 days. I am going by Mr Puxatawny Phil the ground hog who says that you northerners are going to be subject to a long winter and conversely we should be enduring another 60 days of summer. It’s my logic…sue me! I am hoping that some of the small green tomatoes will become large red ones and that my poor eggplants that are still purple flowers will have a chance to grow eggplants but I am not holding my breath. Next season I will be growing my own veggies from seed. I will be planting garlic, kale, all sorts of brassicas (I LERVE me some brassicas!) and anything else that will grow merrily through our mild winters. I love English spinach and will be planting an entire bed of it to repeat harvest like I did last year. The ability to stand up and garden has been blissful and being able to see the vegetables rather than have them covered up for their own good has done wonders for my desire to look after them.
I reckon by the size of the leaves that this is a Queensland blue pumpkin. That would mean that this little pumpkin fruit that is currently the size of a baseball has the propensity to grow to a gargantuan size…lets just hope that it can hang on!
One of the elusive Scarlet Runner Bean pods that I am going to allow to mature on the vine and will pick when dry for next years seed. Again, these beans grew from stumps that had been chewed down to the base by chooks and native animals and they spent the winter uncovered only to start shooting when spring came. I reckon their seed will be most able to survive the test of time on Serendipity Farm :)
It has been so hot here that the chooks have gone on an egg laying sabbatical aside from a couple of the younger girls who are still producing. There are 2 hens sitting on an enormous clutch of eggs most determined to bring out about 40 babies and I have no idea what to do with them all. We are going to reduce the amount of chook we have here (again!) and this time we might get on top of the egg laying and clucky baby producing cycle by counting the hens that go into the roost at night. When there are a lot of them it’s too hard to count them but when there are only a few (say 8) it is a lot easier to see if one of them has absconded off into a shrub to attempt to double the hen population (or in our case, the grain guzzling rooster population :( ). We have learned some valuable lessons since we moved to the country and most of them revolve around throwing romantic/idyllic visions out of the window and embracing the gritty truth of country life before it sends you mad in the process. You have to be tough. You have to be ready for anything. You have to be able to problem solve on the run and you have to be willing to fall over and get back up again on a regular basis. I am quite proud that Steve and I have managed to achieve everything that we have done here over the last 3 years living on Serendipity Farm. We might not be fast but we do it properly and what we lack in funds we make up for in determination.
“Look! I found a nest of them!”
Our next project is an extension of the dog’s compound around our house where they can run freely. We plan on extending it out to encompass a stand of Blackwood trees and our small heavily possum predated orchard along with the area where we have our potted plants. Watching Earl frolic with Mica today in Jan’s big back yard made me all the more determined to get started on making this project a reality. I am also about to start collecting all kinds of soil ameliorant’s to heap up on top of the large pile of zucchini leaves that I removed from my plants the other day in order to let the rest of the garden breath. Everything is an exciting experiment for me as this is only my second year of growing vegetables and my first year of being able to compost close to the garden without having to lock the compost up like Fort Knox in order to keep out the possums and chooks. The large compost mound that is currently under a mountain of pumpkins is full of worms and I have been noticing bees (both regular and bumble), lizards of all sizes and even a little frog have taken up residence in the veggie garden and as I stand there hand watering I am overcome with simple pleasure at my good fortune in being able to have my own little space where narf7 can plan her heart out and fill to the brim with exciting possibilities
Even if the only thing that these scarlet runner flowers do is attract bees to the enclosure they have earned their place in this crazy jungle
I have yacon growing in my garden and NO idea when or how to harvest it. I really don’t know a lot about vegetable gardening at all but I do follow some sterling blogs that point me in the right direction. No matter how frazzled by the heat I feel I am always invigorated and refreshed by a quick visit to the veggie garden that occasionally resembles a tropical jungle when the sun is beaming down. The netting over the top diffuses the sun’s rays enough to stop the sun from burning the veggies and they absolutely love the growing conditions inside the enclosure. I am SO glad that Steve and I put the effort in to create this possum/wallaby free space for me to explore and I will be ready for next spring with a whole lot of heritage seedlings that will have “grown by narf” written in crayon on their tags
I got this long fig cutting with roots (root layer) from Beaconsfield recently and after potting it up in homemade compost it appears to have survived admirably and is growing lots of little green shoots so this will be fig number 5 for Serendipity Farm (3 from the same source as this one and 1 from a now deceased tree in the city that we took cuttings from)
Figs are incredibly hardy plants. This last very long cutting/root layer appears to have died but I am not counting it out yet. They have a way of surviving anything and whether or not it lives at least something is happy in its pot :)
And we come to the end of another post and another Wednesday and you find me champing at the bit to head off and find those addresses so that I can send my parcels off to their recipient’s. I will be sending Tanya some dehydrated Kid Creole kefir grains in the U.K and she, in turn, is going to send me some of her “Moby Dick” sourdough starter. I wonder if they meet in a sorting office halfway around the world in passing. I don’t believe it…I can hear r.a.i.n on the roof! It has been over a month since we last had even a sprinkle. Duckie WILL be pleased :) I hope you all have a really lovely week. Some of you are embarking on creative adventures and some of you are living frugally and some of you are just putting your feet up and reading a good book and whatever you are doing I hope you enjoy it :)