Strange things a brew

Hi All
I am starting to wonder if our local Tassie farmers (not you Harvey :o) are undertaking some form of genetic mucking about. Steve and I love spring rolls but we don’t like paying for what are effectively 4 shreds of cabbage, a half a chunk of carrot, some undetermined “possible” meat products and a fair whack of wrapper. We would rather make our own at a massively lower price and fill them up with what we like. We throw in the ubiquitous cabbage and carrots and use oyster sauce, sesame oil, chilli paste and sauce (we like them hot), fresh pounded garlic and ginger, Massell chicken (only flavour, no meat included) stock powder, a quirt of yellow mustard (prepared) a couple of eggs, 2 packets of 2 minute noodles (cooked), then throw in their flavour sachets (waste not-want not…) and we often have minced mushroom that we pre-cook because mushrooms release a lot of moisture as they cook and moisture is the enemy of a good spring roll. We have been known to put all sorts of things into these and in the past, Steve used to have cooked pork mince in them as well but now he just cooks some marinated chilli chicken pieces and I add them to his batch. We buy our spring roll wrappers (life is TOO short to be rolling pastry that thin…) and we use spray oil after I roll them and we bake them. They are delicious deep fried, but apart from not liking the fried smell that permeates the house for weeks after and the massive use of oil that you then have to find somewhere to store or dispose of, it’s much healthier to bake them. So long as you don’t leave them sitting around for a while, they are crisp and delicious and very healthy. We decided to have spring rolls last night for our tea. We always have a couple of packets of spring roll wrappers in the freezer for whenever we want them or samosas which are equally as easy to do baked. I got everything ready (mis en plus learned from 2 certificates in Commercial Cookery :o) and had just grated all of the carrots needed for the recipe and started finely slicing the cabbage. It was at this point that my genetic mutation theory became alarmingly apparent.

I am NOT a supporter of genetic engineering. You think that God didn’t know what he was doing when he put fish genes into fish and wheat genes into wheat? Scientists are skating on thin ice and we should all be paying more attention to what they are messing about with. They recently killed a bacterium and then injected another live bacteria genetic code into the dead bacteria which came back to life and started living life again. Scary stuff eh? Stop messing about with our genes you stupid scientists! Apart from my son Stewart, who would like to be mostly bionic, the rest of us would like to remain human thanks. I am totally against messing about with genes that shouldn’t be there. I don’t need square eggs, resistant mega crops or cows that produce milk 24/7. That’s not how the world should be and we can’t sustain it. To the people that want to live forever YOU CANT. Simple as that. If they ever do manage to find a way to make it happen, they are then going to have to address the problem of population growth because the world can’t sustain anyone living forever with any sort of growth from that point on. Ok, I have now made it quite clear why my cabbage alarmed me last night. We bought ½ a cabbage. We don’t eat a lot of cabbage and as such, we would prefer it if our vegetable crispers remained somewhat free of dissolved cabbage slime (don’t judge me…you have ALL been there :o) so ½ a cabbage is more economical. I got the cabbage that I must admit I purchased because it was probably one of the biggest cabbages that I had ever seen and it was only ½ of the total cabbage. This cabbage half was like half a medicine ball! Anyway, I got the cabbage out of its cling wrap and started to cut it. I always remove the core first and on the side of the core was a tiny cabbage. Nothing alarming there I often find tiny capsicum inside red capsicum and so I didn’t think much of it until I went to cut up the rest of the cabbage and realised that the tiny cabbage was not the only one….I removed 10 baby cabbages from the inside of my ½ cabbage and there are more in there in between the larger leaves waiting to be removed. Are they splicing Brussels sprouts into cabbages? Are they putting tiny cabbage genes into larger cabbages so that you can take out as much as you want prepare it and the rest stay fresher? What is going on! When I bought this cabbage it didn’t say “mother cabbage, babies included”. It just said “1/2 cabbage $1.50”. This is a prime reason why I want to get those veggie gardens in as soon as humanly possible… no more mutant Brussels cabbages for me thank you VERY much!

Here are some heavily genetically modified crops and the square watermelons are actually real, they sell them in Japan (square for ease of stacking) but I think that the blue strawberry is pointing at possible future trends, developing ‘designer food’.

Although funky, these possible genetically modified fruit combos are quite alarming!

Pingu is getting a lot more interested in his/her world. Steve went for a tip run with the trailer on so we hunted around for all of the rubbish that we could find. I had earlier taken Pingu out on my shoulder into the big wide world when I took some bits of cheese out to throw to the chooks. They LOVE cheese and I had to get some of them from out of the compound and rather than chase them with my dicky knee I needed to lure them out. Pingu stayed on my shoulder the whole way out to the chook yard, while I went inside and fed his brothers and sisters their cheese and his aunties and big uncle Yin, and then all the way back to the house where he got some weeds and dirt to play with. I subsequently headed into Steve’s music room where Pingu is ensconced in his condominium, to check Steve’s bin and as soon as I opened the door, Pingu flew out of his condo and straight over to me. This is very cute but also very foolhardy as if he ever flew straight out the door when the boys were here, it would be R.I.P. Pingu! It’s almost to the stage where Pingu’s disco light gets turned off and Pingu needs to be rehoused outside. We are thinking about making him/her a little run next to the rest of the chickens with his own little coop attached. That way he can be close but he can also be protected from the witch of a Wyandotte broody who attacks all of the other broodies and chicks. She laid an egg yesterday so it’s getting to the point where the mums can be let out with the babies. We just need to make sure that they are big enough to be cat proofed.  Pingu needs to discover his inner “chook” if he/she is ever going to join the flock at some time in the future.
The ducks are now part of the poultry family. They are very easy to look after and I initially thought that they were going to be hard work. They just waddle around eating grass, weeds, and bugs, having a swim in the boat-pond and generally enjoying their lives. I thought that I was going to have to provide them with green food as they need a high proportion of greens in their diet and other vegetative matter, but they seem to be quite content to bumble around scoffing all of the grass and green material out in the veggie garden area. I noticed some interesting little ‘dung flies’ (for want of a better name) that seem to only be interested in poultry manure. We also saw dung beetles at work and it’s very interesting to see how nature cycles everything back into itself. The ashes from the fire go into the compost and into a heap to be reused as needed, the worms and slaters and various other bugs render the wood chips in the pile down to mulch and then they get recycled in the chooks (who LOVE slaters and those weird little hopping bugs that live under wood and rocks in the damp areas. The ducks managed to release themselves this morning. They must have decided that we were taking too long as we had a little sleep in today (till 7am) and when we headed outside this morning they were already on their boat-pond. I went to take a look to see if their door was ajar but the door was still against their enclosure and so they must have squeezed out of it. They are still wary of me but are watching me interact with the chooks who are not scared of me at all. I have several of them that will take cheese from my hands. The ducks need to work out that they are safe. At least they are happy and spend most of their days waddling around either swimming or eating and lying on the spent hay mulching the nectarine tree (adding to the fertiliser no doubt).

There is something eminently satisfying living out in the country. It’s a bit of a culture shock to me and my need to be organised. Nature has its own way of being organised and chaos tends to shuffle itself into order in its own good time. Everything strives for equilibrium in nature, chemistry and science. That is indisputable and I sometimes have to remind myself of that fact when everything is clucking, quacking, shrieking, squeaking and any permutations of the 4 for our attention and time. It’s lucky that plants can’t yell because we wouldn’t get any sleep. I think that if I keep myself busy, that I won’t have time to be critical, worried or stressed so I am employing my new found enlightenment as much as I possibly can and am finding things to do all over the place. I must admit to being a bit of a procrastinator and being most inventive in ways to get out of doing things. Having said that, it’s not usually because I am lazy that I am avoiding things. It’s because I have a real problem with not wanting to do anything if I can’t do it really well. It’s a problem because I just ‘don’t’ do things that I might otherwise really enjoy or be happy with because I have a need to know everything about it first and second, be amazing at it before I attempt it. Stupid…yes…something that I can change easily… most probably not! I am trying though and despite not having a whole lot of ideas about how to beautify our garden spaces (the Diploma in Landscape Design starts next year…), we are going to give it the old college try and just get stuck in. Perhaps you can give us some ideas Nat? Now that we can use Autocad, we can map out our property and use a bit of what we have learned to start sorting out what we want where and if it will work or not. The ‘pretty stuff’ needs to be addressed as I am not a naturally gifted designer when it comes to gardens. I can see structure, form, function, colour and height but when it comes to putting them all together I am a bit of a Picasso so it’s going to be a real challenge to me to learn all about garden design and how to implement it.

If you click on this picture you get a better view of it…

Here is an explanation of how forest gardens work. I figured that we have some large established trees, quite a bit of undergrowth and a very sloping block. The area of the property that we are going to work with first is the already established but overgrown acre of gardens containing the house. If we start there, then we have 3 acres of land that we could put to all sorts of good use including slowly growing more forest garden. A forest garden is an area with food producing trees, shrubs, climbers and understory plants. I figure that if I am going to plant things all over the place, that we may as well get some sort of value out of this system. Even if we dont use the fruits and nuts etc. the local wildlife will be able to and so we will have a garden that pays for itself (even if its only purpose is to stop the wildlife scoffing the veggie garden and orchard). There are many people using this principle and implementing it alongside permaculture theories so thats what this little red hen is going to do! Here is an example of a beautiful garden in the U.K. that has been put over to forest gardening principals to show how a productive garden can also be a lovely one…

We are making bread again today and are using the bread prover for the first time. It’s definitely warmer up there than where we usually put the bread and so on cold days it’s going to be great for proving the bread. I love it when a plan comes together :o). We now have more than enough room to put multiple bread loaves in various stages of development. It’s always easier to make things in bulk and store the remainder for later and so we now make 8 big loaves of bread at a time. We use more bread on the chooks and sparrows and other critters that like bread than we do on ourselves. In this latest batch, the first 4 loaves are the remainder of the “Super soft white bread mix” that we bought from the Flour Mill in town. The second batch of 4 loaves (we make 2 batches at a time and each batch makes 2 loaves of bread) has Chia and Multigrain for 2 loaves and Stoneground Wholemeal for the other 2 loaves. As you are all well aware, my rotund physique is going to undergo a bit of a change. Not for vanity (although that might be a by-product of it…) but for my health and so I need to learn to eat “normally” again. I have spent most of my life on one or other diet and I figure that its time that I learned to eat in a healthy manner rather than starve myself or eat supposed diet miracles. It’s all bunkum people…no diet works because your body sabotages you. Believe someone who has been dieting for more than 35 years and give it up as a bad lot. If you want to lose weight there is only one way (that it’s going to stay off…) and that is eat healthy food that is lower in calories and do regular exercise. That’s the secret and no amount of diet pills, protein only, fat free, rainbow raw food dieting is going to work in the long term. So at 48 I have FINALLY learned what it takes and am having to totally re-educate myself in how to eat. I don’t eat breakfast and I am going to have to do so…I rarely eat lunch and so that’s going to have to be included. I tend to eat a big meal at the end of the day which is also bad for you so now I am going to simply start eating breakfast, lunch and tea and make sure that I eat lower fat foods with lots of fruit and veggies and exercise every day. I will let you know how it goes. I get the sneaking suspicion that even if I don’t lose an enormous amount, due to the regular blood sugar from regular eating and not having to only eat vegetables (which has tended to be what I do…a huge bowl of steamed veggies at the end of the day…) that I will be a much nicer person to be around :o) I guess I am just going to have to see if it works. Heres the first 2 loaves out of the oven. The smaller of the two went to our neighbour Frank. I still think that he is of the opinion that we are axe murders but he at least took the bread. I wonder if he eats it?

I made boobs :o)

Here are Steve’s efforts and the smaller loaf went over the fence to our neighbour Frank
Here’s a couple of photos of Earl and by the look of alarm on his face he is perfectly aware that he is skating very close to Mr Water bottle coming in and visiting his retreating derriere!
Earl is always trying to hide bones inside the house. He KNOWS that he isn’t allowed to bring bones in, but due to our suspicion that Earl had a bit of a hard life when he was a pup, he has this incessant need to hoard food and here is his latest efforts to hide a bone under our bed…

Here he is sitting on the sofa…no problem with that you say, but he is actually sitting ON Bezial’s head. It’s one of the ways that Earl bullies Bezial into playing with him when Bezial is not interested and as such is a squirting offence. You can see the look of alarm on his face as he knows that this is a big no-no and you can’t tell me that dog’s don’t know right from wrong…this little Diddy dog knows all the tricks…

Incidentally, I think that I have solved my mutant cabbage dilemma. I went hunting online and found this…

“Hi all, I let a red cabbage go to flower then started dismantling it and inside I found 10 large sprout sized red cabbages clustered round the central flower stem. Is this unusual and if not should it be the way we harvest red cabbage to give lots of individual portion sized cabbage.

And accompanying the question on The Kitchen Garden Website…

There was this picture…

So not only did Arthur solve my problem, but he used a vegetable that he grew himself and he did one better than me and used red cabbage. Cheers Arthur :o)


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nat
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 10:54:54

    hi guys

    Something else freaky to do with veg. Last week one of James’s students brought in a tomato that she had brought. It was a vine ripened tom and she noticed that it had bumps under the skin. She scaped a bit of the skin off and under the skin was a seed that had sprouted. upon futher investigation she found about 10 sprouts. It was very bizarre to look at and none of had ever seen anything like it. We should of taken a photo. I can not wait until my toms are ready and we don’t have to buy tastless supermarket crap. Craig and i are making a real effort this year to grow more veg, each healthier and buy local produce. Most of the food you buy in the supermarket has travelled futher around the world than i have. As Indira Naidoo says “you can’t grow all that you eat but you can eat all that you grow”. Next i will be baking my own bread as well, but we will have to draw the line at having chooks and ducks. Lucky i have wonderful friends who give me fresh free range eggs from time to time.

    See you soon


    • narf77
      Nov 14, 2011 @ 11:14:43

      We grew tomatoes a few years ago that did the same thing. It was the seeds germinating inside the tomato and I have no idea why they did it, but it was very interesting. Our girls are all ‘in transition’ at the moment and we are lucky to get an egg a day. One of the broodies has started laying again and the others are all either going broody, on strike or thinking about one or the other…one day you shall have your fresh free range eggs cinderella….(or is that leech lady? :o)


  2. Mum.
    Nov 14, 2011 @ 10:55:30

    That is rather alarming, having baby cabbages formed inside the main one. Something is not quite right there,& maybe someone has been messing around. Radiation causes mutation, doesn’t it? Probably a throwback now & then causes it. Any good rearranging the embankment out your back door, & putting bonsais here & there Pen? I saw on B H & G friday, that garden in Queensland an old couple had spent their life making. It’s in the latest magazinme, have a look. You have tons of granite there, you could make minature mountains with under the trees,& have various plants growing on them here & there too. It’s back cool & drizzly again today, hot last night too, so you have it coming. Poor Bezial, being flattened by Earls bum ! The bread looks wonderful, I could smell it.


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 08:19:08

    I love cabbage. We grew tiny cabbages last year. Spring rolls is something I think I could attempt. This past year I made dolmas and sushi or rather veggie rolls, and both turned out quite well. I looked at the garden. It is magnificent.


    • narf77
      Apr 12, 2013 @ 17:03:12

      I LOVE cabbage. I added some to my soup last night and it gave it a great texture. I even love Brussels sprouts and broad beans but then if I started to be fussy about my veggies, there wouldn’t be a whole lot left to eat would there? 😉


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