A bushel of beans

Hi All,

It’s been predicted by the weather man (why do I keep believing him?!) that this weekend is going to be a bit of a wet one. I have decided to collect some firewood and cross my fingers and hope that he is actually right this time as Steve has wanted to make some miniature pork pies for ages now and it has been too hot to light the wood burning stove. We have the meat and the bacon in the freezer ready to go and we have a packet of lard for the hot water pastry and all we need are the right conditions to light the fire and do it. When the fire is on I can also do a bit of bread making. I found lots of bread books and pizza books in my cookbook selection that I managed to keep hold of the other day and think that I might make a few different loaves. I might make some cinnamon buns with some glaze icing. I might make some focaccia or perhaps some pizza for Steve’s tea one night. I love to cook but like everything else I need to have it all prepped up before I start. I guess that comes from my past cooking life where mise en place was the only way that we cooks could keep up with the frenetic pace that we were forced to work under. I mentioned a book that contained a recipe for activating your septic tank the other day. I know that most of you are going “EWW!” right about now and wondering why ANYONE would want to even talk about septic tanks but those of us that own them would rather eat our own feet than call up the septic tank pumping man and so keeping those little bacterium happy is the way to minimising those trips to the pumping station. Here is that recipe should any of you find yourself suddenly living in the country and off the sewer grid (like we are) and Nigel the Septic Pumping man is breathing down your neck for his next Mercedes…

Whether you like this tree or not, you have to admit this Rhus tree is a lovely specimen

 I would make a minor change here…I would remove the word “coffee” and insert the word “tea”

You can see that some deciduous trees are telling us to get our firewood in and to get ready for a long hard winter ahead. Forget the weather man… I believe the trees and the ants that are stocking up all over the place for winter

Please note that all of these recipes/hints and tips come from The Readers Digest book of “Homemade” over 700 everyday items that are easy to make and will save you money. This book suggests all sorts of ways to recycle and use simple household ingredients to make your own cleaning products and other basic things that we usually get from supermarkets…in other words it gives us back some of our own control over how we spend our money. Always something good in my book! Cut out that middle man…that is where we are all being ripped off!

Septic Tank Activator

If you detect a persistent unpleasant odour from your septic tank, it’s probably due to a ‘die-off’ of sewerage digesting bacteria. Before you call in your local septic tank specialist (a.k.a. “Nigel”…) try using this simple recipe to give the little beasties a boost… 2 cups (440g) sugar 4 cups (1 litre) simmering water 2 cups (300g) polenta (yellow cornmeal) 2 x 7g packets dry yeast 1. Dissolve the sugar in a saucepan of simmering water and cool to lukewarm. Mix in the polenta and the yeast. 2. Once the solution has been mixed, flush it down the toilet (flush twice if necessary). For best results, do this before turning in for the night, or when there will be no activity in the bathroom for several hours

There are heaps of really interesting “recipes” in this book for all sorts of things. I think that mum gave us a priceless book here at Christmas time. Not only was it the last thing that we ever received from her, but it passed on some amazing thrifty and handy hints…reminding us of the very essence of mum and what she was. Thanks mum…I will always think of you whenever I am using this book :o)

I just might share a few more of these “recipes” with you here now…

Aspirin Systemic Insecticide

1 ½ regular strength aspirin (450mg in total) 10 litres of water Plant experts have experimented successfully with watering plants with aspirin water as a systemic insecticide and promoter of plant growth. Plants naturally produce some salicylic acid, which aspirin contains, as a natural protection. When watered with the aspirin solution, treated plants absorb extra salicylic acid, which helps them repel sucking insects, and they produce strong, healthy growth 1. In a large watering can, stir the aspirin into the water until dissolved. Water plants as usual with treated water or put it in a spray bottle and use as a foliar spray 2. Treat plants twice monthly with aspirin water

Alcohol Insect Treatment

Methylated spirits is a tried and true homemade treatment for soft bodied garden pest insects such as aphids and mealybugs. Traditionally, it was advised that you dab it onto individual insects with a cotton bud but this is a time consuming task. Try this speedy spritz instead…

1 cup (250ml) methylated spirits 1 cup (250ml) water 1. Combine the alcohol and water in a spray bottle and shake to combine 2. Before treating, spray one leaf of the infested plant as a test to make sure that there are no reactions, such as browning. If not, spray the entire plant, including undersides of leaves and flower buds. Avoid spraying open flowers, which may turn brown if treated with alcohol 3. Repeat every other day for 3 days to kill hatchlings. Monitor plants and spray again as needed. Label the bottle and store it out of the reach of children and pets 4. I would add here personally…if the pests are becoming altogether too much for you to bear and nothing (including this spray) is working, drink a few large stiff glasses of spirits (NOT methylated…) and forgedaboudit!

Ammonia Plant Conditioning Spray

 Ammonia is a concentrated form of nitrogen, which is the nutrient most needed by green plants. You can make an inexpensive all-purpose fertiliser and insecticidal spray using ammonia and soap. The soap helps the ammonia stick to the leaves and also kills soft-bodied insects. Mix as much as you need for garden plants and lawns. Store all garden treatments, such as this, in a sealed and labelled bottle in a childproof cabinet 1 part household clear ammonia 1 part dishwashing liquid (do not use laundry or dishwasher detergent) 7 parts water 1. In a large container combine the ingredients 2. Fill a spray bottle and apply the mix to stems and both sides of leaves for garden plants. Use a hose end applicator to spray the lawn

Houseplant Food (or mum’s liquid manure…ech…)

For an easy organic food for houseplants (or other potted plants), try this recipe for ‘manure tea’ 2 bucketful’s of fresh horse or cow manure or 1 bucketful of chook (poultry) manure 1 hessian bag Rope 1 barrel or rubbish bin Water 1. Dump manure into the hessian bag. Tie the bag shut with one end of a long rope and put it in an empty barrel or rubbish bin 2. Fill the barrel or rubbish bin with water and leave the bag to steep for a week, using the rope occasionally to jerk it up and down and mix the liquid (like a huge teabag…) 3. Thin the ‘tea’ to the colour of weak black tea and apply monthly to the soil around houseplant roots. Keep reserved tea in labelled containers with tight lids out of the way of children or pets but goodness only knows how stupid your child would be to open this up and decide to take a drink! Mum was always trying to get me to make manure tea out of our chook dung. I KNOW it’s great stuff, but you know what? So is castor oil and I have steadfastly refused to take part in that little event either. I remember mum’s manure tea…Compost and weed tea are a totally different matter.

There you go. Some hints and tips from that wonderful book as listed above the recipes. If you are a slave to Readers Digest (like mum was) you might be able to get yourself a copy of this book. It’s actually well worth buying and keeping and something that we are most definitely going to be using over the years and one day handing down a well-thumbed and well-used copy to following generations.

This is a dog who is tired of walking around on what was shaping up to be quite a warm day…

Here is the progression of a dog who has learned how to manipulate from a master (Bezial) in attempting to manipulate Steve into taking him for a walk. We had to wait till 10am to walk the dogs yesterday which is a good 3 hours later than usual and “somebody” didnt’ like it…

Giving his most pathetic “see how sad I am?” eyes when I was taking documented evidence of his sulking…

Bezial was taking the offensive stance and decided to wreak havoc on the loungeroom floor and rip up as many of his toys as he could to show his displeasure…

The lead had been “appropriated” from its spot on the table and “someone” was attempting to put on his own lead and take himself for a walk. I noticed him trying to push his nose through the gate to head out a little while after this shot…Earl has had enough of his lazy humans and is sure that he can work those pedals in that car…he sits in the front seat behind the steering wheel whenever he can so no doubt he has had a good look at them

I am going to be spending a little bit of time tonight typing out a few recipes from a cookbook that I am donating to the thrift shop. Most of the recipes are never going to be even looked at but a select few are really good and as such I would like to keep them so I add them to my large document collection that I am amassing for a rainy day. I might just pop off now and type them out so that I have a good bit of time to play Animal Crossing before I have to start winding down our day and doing all of the necessary chores that need to be done at the end of the day on Serendipity Farm. See you all tomorrow when apparently it is going to be raining, cold and a perfect day for sitting reading a good book next to the fire. Just before I go, I just got this most interesting post sent to me by Anthropogen, with a link to the following PDF called “Sturtevants Edible Plants of the World” and thought that there are some of you that might be interested in it. I am collecting (and collating) as many of these free PDF’s as I can at the moment because I don’t want to have to pay Google for them should they be able to (and with the size of the 3 biggest players…Google, Apple and Microsoft why do we think that they won’t have the political clout to ram this through the courts?) implement the “Cloud” system that I talked about in a previous post, I will at least have found as many of these precious free resources, currently out there for anyone interested enough to find and saved them for future reference. Here’s that PDF if you are interested…


This spider wasn’t angry, it was starting to shed it’s skin. We were able to watch this facinating process over the period of a couple of hours and now know that the spider husks that we have been finding are not victims of a larger spider, but actually belonged to a spider that got too large

Some of the bottles that we are going to recycle into a bottle feature wall “somewhere” on Serendipity Farm. We are collecting multicoloured bottles and storing them in a small shed on the property. One day we will have enough and we will share what we do with them here

The pile of books that headed off to the Thrift Shop yesterday

I really liked this photo. I think I captured Big Yin, Houdini and Big Yin’s progeny perfectly. Not the best photo but definately showing who is the boss. Houdini won’t let ANYONE else next to her babies. As you can see they are starting to change from tiny fluffballs into tiny chooks. They are already playing and watching out for each other and as ferals (living outside the coop) they are true survivors on Serendipity Farm where just about everything wants to try a tasty little chicken (including Bezial and Earl if they got out…)

The last photo for today is of my enormous quantity of dried beans soaking. I have left them soak overnight and will spend most of today cooking this lot on top of the wood fired stove. I will also be baking bread, making miniature pork pies and various other things in and on top of this wood fired stove. I try to do whatever I can to ensure that I take full advantage of this great “free” (at the moment because we are using wood from the property) cooking source.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Roz Takes
    Mar 03, 2012 @ 17:17:01

    Happy cooking Fran! All the goodies I can’t have. Foccacia, cinnamon buns and pizza. Did have a piece of bread twist today cooked with bacon and cheese in it. Was quite nice but I will suffer for it later.
    Off to listen to more of Steve’s Redneck songs.


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