Pretend cheese and heavenly vegan baking books

Hi All

Wow its 11.20pm on Friday night and I just realised that I haven’t yet started my post for Saturday! We have been studying and working on landscape plans for a few days now as we have been given an assignment to design a plan for a pergola with a seat. That has kept us busy researching everything from tensile strengths of timber to the sheer factor of bolts. Can’t have people sitting in our pergola seat and ending up on the floor! I spent tonight engrossed in a sea of vegan cheese recipes. It all started with me remembering that a book that I have been waiting to be released is just about to head onto the shelves. It’s called “Artisan Vegan Cheese” by Miyoko Schinner and promises to be the answer to this cheese lovers dreams. I never liked “fake” cheese and am one of those people that would rather go cold turkey than make do with something less than par. I dabbled in making some vegan cheeses myself and some of them were quite tasty but none of them were cheesy or acted like cheese. This book promises to deliver melty, tasty, cultured cheeses and none of them going anywhere near a cow or other milk producing creature. I can’t wait to have a bit of a mess about in the kitchen and make some of these cheesy creations. I spent tonight hunting down more recipes by Miyoko Schinner and in the process discovered that this lady is very generous with recipes and that there are quite a few great recipes out there available for free. If you would like to see some of them just head off to Youtube and enter her name and there are a plethora of choices. Some of them include a mozzarella style melting cheese for pizza made out of readily available cheap ingredients, a nacho cheese sauce that is thick and gooey as well as delicious and this new book promises all sorts of amazing cheesy experiences that also involve my latest greatest flavour of the month, fermentation!

A great big THANK YOU to my good friend Kymmy for my lovely trivet (cum wall hanging). I am assured (by my good friend Google) that this is the sign for a hug…
: X not sure why, but HUG it is 🙂

I always check the spoon and fork box whenever I go to thrift shops because I love old cutlery. I found these really long handled old spoons a while ago and was going to drill holes in them and make a mobile but they told me not to. They live in one of the cutlery drawers and as of yet I haven’t found out what they are actually for

Talking about amazing books, I am waiting on my copy of “My Sweet Vegan” by the irresistible Hannah Kaminsky of http://bittersweetblog.wordpress.com/. Whether you are vegan or not, the amazing recipes in this book will have you heading back for more. I can’t wait to get my copy and start baking! Hannah is a regular reader here on Serendipity Farm and just elevated herself to a second chocolate biscuit (vegan of COURSE :o) ) with her cup of tea by sending me a signed book plate to place with all due reverence into my copy. How amazing is it that we can share our lives with such talented people as Hannah. It never ceases to amaze me how approachable vegan cookbook writers actually are. I collected every single cookbook by Bryanna Clark Grogan and this lady has done so much to bring vegan cooking out of the exotic and into the mainstream and has taken the mystery out of “what the HECK am I going to eat!!!” by many a new vegan. After friending her on Facebook to follow what she is cooking of late she regularly comments on comments that I have made. The world is such a small place these days and I am eternally grateful to each and every vegan cookbook writer who has made this journey so much more adventurous and exciting than it might otherwise have been. What the heck Hannah…you can have 3 chocolate biscuits, I am feeling generous :o). If you want to check out the book that I am just about to most gratefully acquire, head over to this site and take a most delicious look.

http://www.mysweetvegan.com/

It has been so cold on Serendipity Farm and surrounding districts that Brunhilda has been invaluable to us. We were only talking about how this time last year we were living in a house with no heat source. This year we have been totally spoiled and Bezial can’t leave the house for more than a walk without pining for his position in front of Brunhilda. I have taken to wearing fingerless gloves on our walks and we headed to the Exeter thrift shop today to look for some assorted old cutlery for me to make a mobile with and while I was sifting through the pile of forks and spoons, Steve headed off and found himself a brand new pair of black converse shoes for $3 and an amazing hat with flaps so that he can look like an itinerant Russian potato farmer when we are on our early morning walks. The problem with early morning walks in the freezing cold is that anyone with earrings really suffers as they tend to get very cold and they make your ears hurt. I have 7 earrings and Steve has 9 so he needs that hat with flaps. I need to point something out here…Steve puts on the hat with flaps and instantly looks cute…I put on the hat with flaps and look like a true Russian potato farming woman that is ANYTHING but cute…hats and I do NOT agree. I managed to pick up enough interesting old cutlery to make a mobile over the weekend and I also got a nice black top with abalone buttons and a nice stripy hoodie. The Exeter thrift shop appears to have been taking donations from “filthy hippies” as there were all sorts of amazing brightly coloured skirts, jumpers and poncho’s. I am a jeans and jumper type girl myself but should any of you feel like exploring your inner hippy (and who wouldn’t?), feel free to head over to Exeter and go nuts…you will be doing both yourself and the community centre that the thrift shop supports a huge favour

This piece of glass that looks like an eye is apparently Greek. It keeps out evil apparently. Not too sure of its heritage but Steve brought it out here with him when he moved so here is where it stays

“What’s all this aboot then?!”

Hillbilly or Gypsy, the jury is out but that banjo is swaying the verdict

Steve found a good cheap source of banjo strings online and bought a set of them for his banjo. We don’t know why he bought that banjo but he really wanted it a few years ago after my son, who was working in an auction house at the time, told us that they had a consignment of new banjo’s come in to the auction house and he was suddenly smitten with banjo lust. Now that he is learning how to play clawhammer picking on his acoustic guitar, he thought “what the heck!” and is learning it on the banjo as well. It’s like having my own personal Billy Connolly on tap without the ribald jokes. All we need now is our own personal still and we can officially call ourselves Hillbillies. We are one step closer to actually growing veggies on Serendipity Farm in the spring! We recently made friends with a man who gave us some of his surplus heavy hardwood railway sleepers to use as garden beds. I love trading things…we gave him some heavy plastic weather blinds and he gave us the sleepers. No money had to change hands and everyone ended up with something that they actually wanted. We have to do a bit of pruning in exchange for some gardening tools that he no longer wants or needs and together we are forming a tiny little community within a community. Penniless hippies we may all be, but sometimes you don’t need money…you just need someone else with what you need, who no longer has a need for it. After we did a bit of work for our friend we came home to get stuck into doing a bit of work for ourselves. The next week is supposed to be sunny and dry and so we are going to get as much work as we can done and today I mucked hay while the sun shone.

Here are my little tireless helpers in the garden scratching around in the silty topsoil layer I have just shovelled tirelessly (HA!) over half of the spent chook hay.

My tarp covered silty topsoil after half of it has been shovelled onto the first layer of hay. That strange structure in the foreground is an old brass firehydrant that we found out in the woodshed

Looking down into the vegetable garden and the second layer of spent hay that appears to still contain its past occupants. Apparently they haven’t quite finished with it yet…

The last of the silty river topsoil over the top of the spent hay and now all we need are some worms and other undersoil beneficials to move on into the mix and do their thang.

I don’t actually mind changing the spent, nitrogen rich hay in the chook pen any more. I see it as gardening futures. We paid $3 a bale for meadow hay from the Exeter groundsman of the local footy club. They were raising funds and we were in need of cheap hay…a match made in comparative heaven. We have been storing up our 10 bales that we bought and are just about through them now. We use them to line the concrete floor of the chook shed and once it needs changing I muck it out with my trusty wheelbarrow and compost fork and today I actually used something that I read to get us a step closer to being able to produce some of our own food (aside from eggs and chicken that is…) on Serendipity Farm. I am completely envious of permaculture gardens that I see online and in books. I want that! I want lovely vegetables and climbing fruit bearing vines and pumpkins taking over the back paddock and I want it soon! Today I remembered that I had read to layer soil and spent hay and manure to create a veggie garden. We had a trailer load of silty topsoil from our new friend who had to install drainage on his property and just wants it removed. We can have as many trailer loads of silty river soil as we want. Now I need to make it friable and something that not only worms and ground dwelling critters will be happy to call home in, but something that will support and give nutrition to our future veggies. We learned that straw is amazing for soil cation exchange (DON’T make me explain it again…just go Google it ok? 😉 ) and that chook poo is incredibly rich in nitrogen but burns plants if it is fresh…so we have hay…we have chook poo (copious quantities of it…) we have a trailer load of silty soil and we have an impatient wanabe permaculture gardener with all of the knowledge and none of the practical ability so if you put all of that together you end up with an idea…I layered the spent hay and the soil to form a large mound in the prospective veggie garden area that I might even get Steve to help me lug some of those old railway sleepers down to soon and allow it all to rot down over what remains of winter.

Rustic industrial garden futures! I should be able to get some more like this in the near future. Cheers Mike 😉

While I was mucking out the chook pen, Steve was dealing with this little problem that we noticed earlier in the week. Tomorrow is our day of rest which coincides with the weekly church meeting at the Auld Kirk Church so we figured that today might be a good day to deal with it.

It looks like its fellow trunk is about to go out in sympathy!

This is what’s left of the last tree that fell down in the corner of the veggie garden. Rather than remove all of this rich decomposing matter I am going to take a leaf out of a fellow bloggers book. This permaculture follower is someone that I take notice of and she uses water wicking garden beds to great advantage. Check her blog out here, its well worth a look-see. I learned that I can heap soil over this pile of rotting timber and use it to garden pretty much straight into!
http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/a-pumpkin-called-barbara/

Future nettle wine…and by the way osteospermum daisy…I DO see you hiding amongst my precious nettles and I WILL be dealing with you in the next few days so enjoy what is left of your time thinking that your little camoflage attempt worked!

It’s time to start taking all of that accumulated knowledge and throw it into the ring! Hopefully I don’t end up squished and gored by permaculture and am able to ride it to glory. No doubt I will share the results here and we can only hope that they are positive or you are going to get sick of me moaning about it aren’t you? :o). Any of my dear constant readers who are also practiced gardeners (and you KNOW who you are…) can feel completely free to share any hints and tips with we rank beginners when it comes to food production. I have so many ideas and so little practice putting my ideas into fruition. Couple that with a terrible temper and a degree of impatience and you are starting to see why the dog needs therapy. Is anyone else totally over the Olympics’ yet? If I have to hear Eddie McGuire and his condescending tones one more time I am going to throw our television into the Tamar River. For the sake of Steve’s continued happiness I think I might just close the doors between the kitchen and the lounge room tonight while he continues to watch the opening ceremony and I cease to rant and rave through the open door about the incredible waste of money (over 40 million) spent on that opening ceremony for a country that really can’t afford it. It’s a bit like Tasmania spending up big when we are broke, time to face the music guys…sports just aint worth it! I have never been a sports fan and can only be found watching fringe sports that cross over into the bizarre like Curling, coits and Greco Roman Wrestling. I just went hunting to look for a few more to make me look somewhat more learned about Olympic weird sports and found out that there have been some pretty weird sports that are now discontinued from the games…want a little peek at what we “could” have been watching should the Olympic committee this year been less mingey?…

  1. Tug of war from 1900 – 1920 which was a bit of a cheat as they let individual clubs enter as opposed to countries and in 1908 Great Britain won Gold, Silver AND Bronze as a number of teams were allowed to represent the same country.
  2. Jeu de paume or “Real Tennis” in the U.K. was only included in the 1908 games in London and only 2 teams (the U.K. and the U.S.A.) competed. The U.S.A. won gold so obviously the U.K. got respectable Silver and the players didn’t use a racket and were allowed to hit the ball with their hands
  3. Forget Clay Pigeon Shooting…in 1900 they had LIVE pigeon shooting! It was included in Paris’s 1900 games and it is apparently the only games that animals were deliberately harmed
  4. In the 1900 Paris Olympics they also allowed long jumping for horses for some reason…(at least they didn’t have high jumping for the poor long suffering creatures!)
  5. They had rope climbing in 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924 and 1932 for some reason
  6. A game called Roque was played in 1904 and only the United States competed in the event so obviously won. I guess that is ONE way to ensure that you bring home the gold! ;). It looked a bit like croquet and was dubbed “The Game of the Century” but I haven’t heard of it… have you?
  7. Water motor sports were on the cards in 1908 and only France entered due to bad weather and won gold. Again it’s a good way to ensure that you get a gold medal if your games have a weird sport that is only played in your country…
  8. The next one is an oxymoron. “Solo synchronised swimming”…EH!?! This ran for 3 consecutive Olympics from 1984 – 1992 until someone actually thought about it and they decided that it didn’t make any sense… (12 years to work that out eh?)
  9. In the swimming obstacle race we Aussies apparently won in 1900. Good old Frederick Lane won the day by scrambling over a random pile of junk in the water to almost match his time swimming the course minus the flotsam and jetsam!
  10. I like this one…”Club Swinging”. Something to do with rhythmic gymnastics and on the cards in 1904 and 1932 and resulted in the gymnast standing still and waving the clubs around all over the place in an effort to look a bit better than the other competitors wiggling their clubs around in the air…It would seem that someone said “Enough of that!” in 1904 and in 1932 some bright spark decided to give it another go and ended up out of a well-paid Olympic job after it fizzled

Well there you have it folks…10 unusual sports that are discontinued in the Olympics… (Maybe the U.K. should have thrown in a few of their endemic sports like tiddlywinks…competition drinking for England and plum duffing (whatever THAT is!) and they may have had more of a chance to get piles of that Olympic gold…). Whatever happens in the Olympics you can bet that coke paid dearly for its product placement.

The little boofy tabby here is Fatty. He was the only one of Felix’s kittens that we didn’t manage to locate and take to the R.S.P.C.A. his dad Garfield has been hanging about and if Fatty gets anywhere near the size of his massive dad, he will be almost as big as Earl!

Big Yin surrounded by some of his girls. He now thinks that he is omnipotent and is taking his job most seriously of late. I caught him following me surruptitiously around today when I was egg hunting in the scrub and making little clucking noises to his girls as if to say “don’t worry girls…my nests NEVER get found”. Here they are checking to see if we have thrown anything over the deck that might suffice as food but sadly we were too busy living our lives to be hurling food to overstuffed poultry so you are going to have to walk to your pen to get more Yin…lifes a bitch eh? 😉

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jul 28, 2012 @ 19:59:54

    How is that design going for your garden chair with pergola? There are so many different ideas to go with. I love old cutlery too. It just seems to speak to you doesn’t it. Imagine some of the stories some of those pieces could tell. I love those spoons, maybe they could be faux cheese tasting spoons?? Good luck with your vege garden. What do you think you will try first? I am going stir crazy having been in the house for 4 days now. I am going to go out tomorrow, the dogs are looking at me with expectant eyes…x

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 28, 2012 @ 22:02:48

      We have decided not to be stupid and try to plant every weird and wonderful gnarly heritage vegetable that is on offer. We are going to work out what we (and the girls) like to eat and stick to trying to grow them well…after that we can dabble in the bizare. I have always wanted to grow gourds. Mum grew some weird ones once and I would like to grow them just to see if we could harvest some and make cups and bowls out of them. Earl missed out on a walk last week…1 day in goodness knows how long and was an absolute terror! We don’t walk Earl at our own peril! I loved those spoons and have no idea what they were for aside from perhaps using to get pickles out of a jar?!I will sample my fake cheese with them and will pretend that they are royal faux cheese samplers lol. Some fake cheese is pretty good. I made some from an “Uncheese cookbook” that I bought ages ago and even Steve liked it. It wasn’t cheese, but then it was tasty and acted in a cheeselike way and for someone who hasn’t eaten it in years it was lovely. I can’t wait to see if the cheeses in this book live up to the hype as they are actually fermented like real cheese. I will either end up in raptures or croak from eating bad bugs! 😉

      Reply

  2. christiok
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 00:55:01

    Wonderful post, Fran, and I’m with you on the Olympics. “Sports just ain’t worth it.” Couldn’t have said it better! I’m also learning that trying to grow certain warm-weather veggies here in the Pacific Northwest USA just ain’t worth it. It’s still in the 40s here at night and cloudy and MAYBE gets to 65F degrees most days. This doesn’t work for corn and beans and any melons (which I gave up on years ago). Better to plant berries and broccoli and cabbage and onions, rhubarb and potatoes. I’m bowing to the climate next year. Good luck with your luscious new raised beds…and I LOVE the phrase “chook poo.” I might have to steal it for a blog title or something.:)

    Reply

    • narf77
      Jul 31, 2012 @ 06:51:12

      Lol I wonder if anyone will know what you are talking about with your Antipodean title? Who cares! Give me a heads up on some Olalla language and I will reciprocate…our readers could do with a bit of shaking up and having to think themselves for a bit ;). I am with you on the crops as Tasmania is Olalla to be honest. It can get the occasinal hot day here but its generally so humid all you can do is lay on the bathroom floor with the dogs waiting for it to go away. (tiles are cool…). I will be ensuring that whatever we plant is not only pertinant to what we like and need but also something that is suitable to grow here. What is suitable and adaptable will grow well and everything else will not only fail to thrive but will attract pests in droves. It’s nature! I just had one of my wonderful readers say that she will send me some of her “Barbara” pumpkins (you call them squash)” seed to have a go at growing down here. They have the most vivid orange flesh that I have ever seen in a pumpkin! I adore pumpkin and practically live on it in various forms and to grow my own (and Barbara has a magnificent pink and green skin) would be amazing. Nothing like growing your own to give you a new reverance for your food is there? I hope to find that out very soon. I will be going to a series of sustainable and environmental talks and demonstrations in the next few weeks run by a local watershed environmental group that I belong to. It’s actually funded by the government and also deals with ridding the area of weeds, water conservation and various other conservation projects and most of its talks are free and you even get morning tea/afternoon tea and lunch…I am SO there! ;). I will be bringing back photos and information soon to share with you all and I am very excited about going. Wish you could come with me. I could introduce you to my mate from the witness protection who “cannot be named” 😉 we could have a ball throwing abuse at the felt hatted brigade lol ;). Wish me luck! (or the rest of the audience as its THEM that is going to need it 😉 )

      Reply

  3. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 10:26:08

    Oh my goodness, you are much too kind- Though I will gladly take those three biscuits, thank you very much. 😉 Seriously, I’m just overjoyed that anyone else can benefit from the pandering that I do in the kitchen, since that alone is so much fun. Thanks for reminding me why I keep doing it when things get tough, too. For a reaction like this, it will always be worth any trouble.

    Can’t wait for you to break into that book when it arrives!

    Reply

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