Ben Folds King of the hipsters…

Hi All,

I think that this is the LONGEST post I have ever expected anyone to read in the history of this blog. Anyone not of a strong disposition can be excused from reading it in its entirety…the rest of you, suck it up and at least have a go…you never know what treasures it might yield 😉

First up I am going to share the best, most tasty recipe for chilli with you. It has the bonus of being incredibly easy and it freezes amazingly well. This is Steve’s “Secret” recipe and so I guess it is the bonus for all of you dear constant readers who have stuck with trying to read these gargantuan posts ;). Here you go…thank me later and remember that Steve is “The Magic Man” 😉

Steve’s Secret Recipe Chilli Con Carne

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 chopped onions

2 cloves crushed garlic (Steve uses about 5)

500g lean minced beef

250ml red wine (you get to drink the rest apparently)

2 x 400g cans crushed/chopped tomatoes. We use homemade pasta sauce and I will give you the recipe for the pasta sauce after this chilli recipe

3 tbsp. tomato puree (we don’t use this)

3 – 4 tsps. dried chilli flakes but you can use more or less to taste

1 tsps. ground cumin (Steve uses about 3 tbsp. fresh ground)

1 tsps. ground coriander (ditto to the cumin, about 3 tbsp. fresh ground…try it, it rocks!)

1 stick cinnamon

A good shake of Worcestershire sauce

1 beef stock cube (OXO here in Australia but use what you have wherever you are)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 x 400g can of drained red kidney beans

1 x 400g can baked beans (this is where Steve differs from the original recipe which calls for only 2 cans of kidney beans and no baked beans because the baked beans add a lot of body and taste)

Sour cream, sliced avocado and fresh coriander (if you like it) to top the chilli when you serve it

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until browned and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Pour in the red wine and boil for 2 – 3 minutes. While waiting, pour a glass for yourself. Stir in the tinned tomatoes (or equivalent pasta sauce…see below), tomato puree (if using), chilli flakes, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube. Pour in the drained kidney beans and undrained baked beans with their sauce into the mix and then Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the mix is rich and thickened. Add the fresh coriander if using and cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if needed. This is ideal served with lime wedges and rice, crusty bread or chips (French fried) or jacket potatoes and cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a big green salad or turned into the best nachos ever.  It might sound humble but give it a try, it’s delicious :o)

Note: if you find your tomatoes were a bit runny and your sauce isn’t as thick and rich as it should be (it should be like gravy in consistency) you can add some beurre manie which is just equal quantities of softened butter mixed with plain flour (all purpose) till combined and lump free. If you need to thicken a sauce, just add chunks of this mix into the sauce and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon till blended into the hot sauce. Keep adding till the sauce has thickened to a consistency that you like.

My homemade pasta sauce involves the following: –

1 x 400g crushed or chopped tomatoes or the equivalent fresh tomatoes chopped up

1 tbsp. olive oil

About 3 cloves crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

Yellow American style mustard

Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Bbq sauce (bottled)

Veggie seasoned salt (Masell in Australia but use vegeta or what you have elsewhere)

1 tsp. dried mixed herbs or 1 tbsp. fresh chopped herbs

We use a tsp. of dried chilli flakes but we like things hot 😉

Cook the onion in the olive oil and when transparent add the garlic and once the garlic softens add a good squirt of mustard, tomato sauce (ketchup) and bbq sauce. Add the herbs and seasoned salt chilli flakes (if using) and stir together over heat till combined. Once combined nicely pour in the tinned tomatoes gently and simmer till thick and unctuous. Give this a go, it’s delicious. I add mushrooms; capsicum, eggplant etc. as they become seasonally available (add them with the onion at the beginning of cooking). This yields a top class most tasty tomato pasta sauce that is miles apart from a can of tinned tomatoes. Try it and let me know if you like it :o)

Steve has been a bit lax with his bachelor food posts of late and after his spaghetti in frankfurter’s effort has been conspicuous by his lack of effort. He decided to share another recipe with you in the bachelor range, this time he got June, Honey Boo-boo’s mum’s recipe for “Sketti”…

Honey boo-boo must have “made it” because she just got taken off on South park…

Now we can get down to the nitty gritty of the actual post…Ben Folds …King of the Hipsters…the rise of the über cool nerdy geek and the celebration of all things retro, the legitimisation of the awkward generation, the intelligencia gets cool and suddenly we get bands like (give examples) and veganism is hip and cool and the 60’s are the ONLY place to buy your kitchen furniture. The rise of the hipster brought about the cultural desire for all things handmade, unique, the embracing of old school principals and Etsy (no spellcheck…I  don’t mean “Betsy” 😉 ) owes its beginning and sudden meteoric rise on hipsters. Ben Folds was a hipster before anyone knew what a hipster was. I am listening to his latest album and he sounds like a cross between Elvis Costello and Blur…how is that for cross Atlantic hipsterism? I have a penchant for singers who can write amazing lyrics AND give them a voice like Ben Folds. His anthems to the forgotten were just what 75% of the school population needed to hear and he came at just the right time. When Ben Folds gave a massive subculture a voice it was an awesome thing to see the results. I belong to that subculture and so do all 3 of my children. It was the right time for them to be able to embrace their inner geekiness and progress on to knowing that they are, indeed, the superior race and they got their legitimisation through people like Ben Folds. How amazing that the hipsters of today are the children of yesterdays oppressed! Everyone wants to be edgy and wear 60’s clothes and have sideburns and retro moustaches (obviously guys 😉 ) and shave their sideburns and get tats (every good hipster chick has a multitude of meaningful tats). Where are we going with fashion folks? All I know is that we can find a niche in amongst these upwardly mobile non child bearing thinkers and that some of their ethos is actually worth embracing. Cheers Ben Folds…you deserve your kudos and your fame and you probably deserve a marriage that actually works BUT if that happened would your muse desert you? 😉


We have gone from 30C heat where regular basking upside down on the deck is the norm to this…


Hiding behind the screen door within close proximity to Brunhilda’s wafting blissful heat


“Excuse me…would you MIND not opening that door please…there are dogs basking here!”

The only problem with the hipsters is that they are indulging themselves out of existence. They prefer owning a dog to having children and their need to spend both incomes on retro is still “spending” per-se. The movement is shifting sideways into the new rise of the homesteader and the hipsters desire to get their little plot of earth is starting to make rumbles in the country that can only benefit from the windfall of people immigrating from cities and repopulating the small towns…it’s obviously a natural progression and part of humanities need for equilibrium…spreading out to where you can move and think and just “be” and where you can put your mark on a tree and can feel the earth between your fingers. The selfishness is going to have to go hipsters and maybe your country born kids will rebel against being dressed up like small “Mad men” and will revert to feral hippies… wouldn’t that be something? Hey, the 70’s is back man…FLARES ARE BACK MAN! Ferals living amongst what’s left of the trees, getting their hands dirty and their feet dirty and learning how to listen to the earth and respond accordingly…perhaps it’s more than humanities survival that is being reflected in our current trends…perhaps the earth is channelling us…perhaps it’s a survival mechanism from somewhere deeper than any of us know because people are being called…drawn to the earth. Thanks hipsters, you are a good blended first generation to give homesteading legitimacy and by giving it a new voice and popularity you are showing people that it is possible for life after peak oil and that old lesson about how everything has good and bad points is being learned and shared all over the world through social media. That can only be a good thing :o)…by the way, wouldn’t Ben Folds make a perfect counterfoil for the spinster daughter in that amazingly iconic painting “American Gothic”? 😉


Cheers for this photo Wikipedia 🙂

‘All sorrows are less with bread’ – Miguel de Cervantes.

My sentiments exactly! I am now following a wonderful blog that has shot right up my blog reading list of wonderful ways to spend my early morning hours with my first cup of tea. This beautiful quote comes from her blog. It resonates with me because it’s something that we all need to remember. Miguel de Cervantes was talking about the solidity and comfort that a full belly can bring you and sometimes when we are lusting after something way out of our reach we really need to be looking closer to home to see what we already have and realising that life is about appreciation of what we already have and learning to live the best life that we can with our lot. We are all primed as children to toe the line when it comes to heading down the highway of life. We are pointed in the direction of active consumerism from a very young age (can anyone say “McDonald’s? 😉 ) And powerful media moguls make a huge amount of money messing with our minds and dangling delicious unreachable carrots in front of us to direct us in the way that they want us to go. I am not talking new cars and expensive whiskey here folks, I am talking fundamental life goals where we start out thinking that we are failures if we haven’t managed to buy a house, have 2.5 kids and own 2 S.U.V’s and a subscription to a country club by the time we are 30. We are herded into thinking that we are simply not good enough, not worth it, if we don’t keep following that carrot on a stick. A clever donkey knows after a little early carrot chasing that this isn’t going to work…that following that carrot on a stick isn’t going to get a tasty treat but a lifetime of frustration and a clever donkey just stops. I am starting to see that most people are not clever donkeys. We know that we are on a highway to discontent but we keep on trying to buy our way into happiness…a new car…15 pairs of shoes…a kitchen aid (will it make your cake taste better? Probably not but MAN it is pretty! 😉 ) And we keep cramming our homes with “stuff” in a vain endeavour to sooth our minds…minds that are screaming out “STOP!” We no longer realise that happiness is found in our own back yard…that we are the instigators of our own happiness. We are so far removed from our gut instincts and our intuitive minds that we allow “someone else” to guide us through our life goals, our important decisions and that “someone else” doesn’t have our best interests at heart.


Not quite “bread” but definitely the Asian alternative…this baking tray of slightly undercooked rice has been specially prepared for tomorrows fried rice


Seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli flakes it gets put uncovered into the fridge where it dries out a bit more, then into Brunhilda’s warning oven to dry out and heat a bit before Steve turns it into this…


Delicious fried rice. The homemade spring rolls next to it have been lightly brushed with olive oil and will be baked in the oven till brown and crisp to accompany some of this rice for Steve’s tea. Steve is the only one that eats the fried rice and spring rolls so the remaining 4 servings of each are put into the freezer ready for quick nutritious and tasty meals if we get in late or end up working too long on our studies. He also has 4 Cornish pasties made last night in the freezer for more meals. We love making extra so that we don’t have to cook all of the time 🙂

It’s time that we all stopped and actually thought about where we are headed. Our parents were baby boomers and were the only generation where life kept getting “easier”…from the 1940’s on the media took over directing our desires and we let it. It was just easier. They took advantage of our need to be part of the flock but slightly above the masses and we have been competing for superiority ever since through the acquisition of “stuff”. A new bike, camera, S.U.V. isn’t going to make you feel better. What will make you feel better is learning who you are, being honest about yourself and your situation and taking a good hard look at how you can make the best of what you are and where you are in life. Stop trying to use consumerism as a band aid. It doesn’t work. You are going to end up aged 70 with 16 facelifts, fake boobs (think Jane Fonda and Madonna…) and a pathetic need to be “YOUNG!” at all costs because you are absolutely terrified of what is happening to you…you can’t buy your way out of aging…so far, no scientist has managed to make us live forever (God help us if they ever do…) and no amount of fast cars, holidays to Bermuda or gold dangly chains are going to defy age. Even the hipsters aren’t immune…they are the generation of the “forever young” to the max…40 year olds with skateboards and pierced noses and tattoos who won’t commit to “relationships” because they are WAY too young to settle down… we are now getting so far removed from the real world that there is a backlash of people stopping and saying “what is going ON here!” It can only be good. When you stop and actually think about where you are, you can take that elusive carrot out of the equation and you can start to see your own life in perspective. What you have been given is a chance…a precious chance to learn, to grow, to communicate and to understand. You have been given your own personal vessel to experience this world and the most precious gift of choice. If you get nothing else in your life, you can choose what your reactions are going to be and that is what makes we humans so incredibly lucky, our ability to choose our own pathway.


I just went hunting for some pictures to put into this post and found this one taken from a warm spot just in front of Brunhilda…this is our idea of the perfect kitchen…no clutter (the fridge is in the cupboard in the hallway) and plenty of room to “live” in this space. That’s the great thing about doing renovations yourself, you can do whatever you like 🙂


Another photo taken last year but not used in the blog yet. Taken last autumn of the Acer palmatum maple tree on the deck stairs


This sort of scene is just around the corner on Serendipity Farm and I can’t wait! I LOVE fungi and have plans to study mycology at university in the future if only to be able to eat whatever fungi I damned well please without Steve telling me that “You are going to kill yourself and leave orphan dogs…” sigh… 😉

I would normally be sitting here reading my RSS Feed Reader at 4.44am BUT my modem has decided to pitch a fit and as a technical luddite, the only thing I know to do with modems taking tantrums is turn them off and then back on…so far my wonderful trick isn’t working…curious that I slag off Google and overnight my modem goes into the foetal position! Coincidence? We shall see! 😉 It does give me time to type out another blog post. That’s what I mean about seeing the opportunities in situations. Sometimes the situation is pretty dire and it’s difficult to see anything other than the immediacy of what is happening but that’s where we can really get the most out of this lateral thinking and we can start to try to formulate “other” ways to look at the situation. We don’t have to be a reactive creature, that’s the beautiful thing. We can be proactive about taking what life hands to us and we can use it to make our lives better…the net goes down? Forgedaboudit…type some blog posts, think about what you are going to do today, get that crochet out while Earl is still in the land of nod and maybe you won’t have those “tension problems” that you usually do when trying to crochet a row. I found some gorgeous jar holders yesterday. I know that mason jars are now de rigour in the U.S. and people carry them everywhere and hipsters are toting them to their hipster coffee shops to get refills of their hemp milk soy lattes. Me, I think they are jars! I think that jars are for preserving and saving things for the future. I have even seen hillbilly wedding mugs made of Mason jars and I think that you northerners can keep that trend and I will just keep my jars for when I need them. These lovely jar totes were amazing…the creator (Etsy, OBVIOUSLY folks, would any self-respecting hipster go anywhere else? 😉 ) had somehow felted the finished product and the bright colours got me excited more than the functionality of the item (see…this little black duck is as prone to wanton consumerist desires as the next person…) the difference is that I didn’t want to race out and spend money on them, I wanted to make some myself. Apparently I REALLY pissed Google off because not only can’t I get the modem to work, but now Microsoft can’t diagnose what is actually wrong with my connection! Can anyone say “BANNED” 😉 Bring it on Google; this little black duck has nothing to lose! 😉


My daughters gave me this unctuous and most gorgeous chestnut cream a while ago. It had an amazing flavour and I have since found recipes for how to make it online. Come chestnut season I will be making my own but for now, I have lingering memories about just how good this was 🙂 Cheers girls 🙂


I wouldn’t be smiling if I was you sunshine…

We just got a few spots of rain…we were told that we would have 100% chance of rain today and I guess, technically, that was right. Steve lugged the large heap of wood and put it under the deck yesterday so most of it should be nice and dry. He left a few barrow loads for the lizards who had just had the equivalent of Armageddon visited on them to hide in while they acclimatised to their new situation and then escaped. Feral cats love lizards and we love them too so we wanted to give them the best chance to survive their situation. I think that we also need to connect and learn the precious lessons from our grandparents and other elders. Far from being the reminders that we are all going to die and being shoved as fast as possible into homes to moulder away, we should be prizing their knowledge and cataloguing it for future generations who are going to have to remember the past to give them the best chance in the future. I just turned my modem off and am going to give it 30 minutes rest. I guess it has been busy of late and might need a nap (but only a SHORT one modem!) I have a couple of blogs that I want to reference here for you all to visit and I can’t access their U.R.L’s till the net works again. I get to put my money where my mouth is this morning. I know that I have almost 300 blog posts to read because before the network slowed down to an abject crawl, my RSS Feed reader shared that bit of information with me. I know that those blog posts are not going to stop and hopefully we get use of the net back today because 300 can swell to 500 in a very short time. While I was last away at my daughters it swelled to over 1000 posts and that takes some wading through believe me! I juggle precariously on the precipice of 500+ blogs and I guess sometimes I am going to have to burn the candle at both ends to ensure I get the best out of them.


Some of my seed haul for today. The dry seed pods at the front have an incredible strong “fruity” smell and come from some sort of herb. The red berries come from some Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington Hawthorn’s) that we discovered on our walk and have been collecting as they ripened. Hopefully we can get some to grow this year for planting on Serendipity Farm and that walnut was the only uneaten nut in a stash noticed under a shrub where there was a severe dearth of walnut trees…no idea how it got there but it is a very unusual long thin nut so we are going to try to stratify it and grow it over winter for our walnut futures.


The seed pod of the strongly scented aniseed herb that I collected today


This is the uber spiky pod of  Echinacea angustifolia (cone flower/Echinacea) with seeds in situ. I want lots of Echinacea on Serendipity Farm because it is hardy, incredibly useful and it loves dry conditions. Perfect for us 🙂

I recently discovered a blog  that is amazingly well written. I love the way that the blogger is able to communicate ideas and the fact that she looks a bit like my niece Tahlia is an added bonus :o). The post that the link will take you to is a wonderful post about taking her children to the river in the heat and a wonderful story about how to tell the truth whilst avoiding a disaster if the truth got out, an old Quaker story. I love the way that this girl tells stories and weaves her words together to play with your mind and recreate beautiful scenes in your head. I guess my mix of blogs revolve around the interesting in all facets of life. I am not interested in mainstream unless it has something special and most of the blogs that I follow are beautiful examples of “special” in the nicest possible way :o). Here’s another one that I just started following…

This is community ethos and vision and a wonderful post about how small communities can really make a difference to future generations and with a bit of effort and vision can really give us a chance to do the right thing for the earth. It’s not us that are going to bear the brunt of the last century of wanton disregard for the earth, it’s our children and their children who are going to have to attempt to live with the legacy of the baby boomers and we can at least attempt to do something to halt the road to ruin that was initiated in the name of “progress”.


If you click on this screen shot you can see it clearer. That white area is the lumber yard where Steve worked for a year. It was his second ever job after lasting a week at a local butchers. The green triangle off to the right of the lumber yard is a spruce plantation and Steve used to garner himself Christmas trees from this farm gratis…he often worried about the seat of his pants coming into contact with the cold hard steel of the farmers shotgun but when you are 21 and a hard cool punk, what’s a guy to do eh? 😉

I know that today’s post is really a couple of weeks ago post but it would be an unsustainable thing to dump a perfectly good post that was just hanging about waiting to see the light of day inside your collective heads. I have been up since 3am having a ball whittling away at my 500 blog posts that just seem to be growing exponentially but that are much more manageable now. I found 3 more scrumptious blogs to stuff in there in the wake of the old spent blogs that I discarded recently. We walked the dogs in Deviot and I invaded the small heritage apple and pear enclosure to raid the seed pods of the Echinacea that have just given up the ghost for the winter, something that smells like amazing aniseed but that appears to be somewhat salvia like in a pod and something else that has pods that smell like fruit! No idea what the second 2 pods are but my seed saving just increased our prospective springtime bonus of free greenery and gave Serendipity Farm another nudge up the “get it for free” ladder. Steve and I studied the covered top of the enclosure today (the original source of our planning for our new fully enclosed veggie patch) and have decided to go with purchasing some extra heavy duty bird netting and running rope or wire along the poles that we are going to install in the ground to form a nice tight possum proof roof that won’t sag and that will be easy to install. We got home and I collected some brushwood kindling sticks whilst holding my nose to avoid the stench of the large kangaroo that most THOUGHTFULLY chose to croak it not 20ft away from our back door :o(. Maybe it’s the culprit that has been harvesting my potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and it finally realised that “they are poisonous!” and nature took its toll. Whatever the reason, the cruel irony is that now that the days are colder, the blowflies that I HATE with a passion have disappeared and the one time that I need them to do their disgusting thing, they let me down! Sigh… no idea how long we are going to have to hold our noses as we walk to the car but the dogs LOVE it. To them, the back yard smells like Chanel No. 5 (ech!).  We then spent the morning hunting through Steve’s old stomping grounds in the U.K. and I can show you where he once worked for about 10 seconds in a lumber yard and the woods adjacent to the yard were where he got his Christmas trees from. I am going to spend the rest of the day minimising the RSS Feed Reader, stoking Brunhilda and baking up a storm and staying warm and happy inside for the rest of the weekend.

spoonsA quick pic of Steve’s draft poster for his Media assessment


And this one’s mine…as you can see we have VERY different taste 😉 The logo on the extreme right in my poster is just representative of where my logo will go when I finalise my choice of logo’s. Anyone out there with any street cred in poster design feel free to let us know what you think and be gentle folks, we are babes in the woods with Photoshop at the moment 😉

See you all on Wednesday and this is for all of you Northerners…Nick Drake and Northern Sky…just perfect to welcome spring :o)

Steves newfound redneck ways

Hi All,


The title of this post was initially because of his newfound love of all things American Mid Western thanks to the new A & E channel on Austar. Everything is “Hog Wars”; “Gators in the swamp”; “Heavy Haulers” and “Pawn Stars”. The last one in that list is Steve’s current favourite and deals with a family of enormous rednecks that have a pawn shop and the customers that come in and try to flog things to them. His next favourite is a show about storage lockers that get sold off…so its EVERYTHING redneck down on Serendipity Farm and that is also a shameless plug for Steve’s “10 best Redneck Songs” that he will be posting tomorrow for you all to enjoy. Some of them are real classics and we love love LOVE the top song so we hope that you will all enjoy them tomorrow. Just to kick off the theme for today we have…


Steve isn’t the only one that can use youtube…


We just finished doing the walls of the lounge room and ceilings of both our bedroom and the lounge room. As predicted we had a bit of bleed through in the bedroom with tar on the roof but hopefully we have seen the last of it now and we are more than pleased with the results. Isn’t it a pity that you couldn’t get a tiny taste of that euphoria that you get after you finish a job to get you up and motivated to do it in the first place? We finished the final brush strokes to the loud strains of The Spin Doctor’s. We didn’t have enough of the blue paint left over to finish our own bedroom so we have decided to paint our room a different colour. We still have Steve’s music room, the middle room (spare room) and our room to paint so perhaps we will choose something interesting to paint them in? I did suggest flocked wallpaper but even though I was joking Steve looked stricken… I can’t blame him as if you have every tried wallpapering you may never recover from that experience. I am typing out recipes from The River Cottage Handbook No. 8 (Cakes) at the moment and would like to share this interesting recipe with you. It’s not the most delicious looking cake in the book and it isn’t the most adventurous either, what it is, is an amazing way to use up left over bread and it is very interchangeable with whatever you have in the fresh fruit section. I wonder if it tastes any good? I might have to give it a go as it says that it is great for a pudding as well…

‘Bird Table Bread Cake’

“Much as I love to watch the sparrows feeding in the garden, this dense pudding-cum-cake, based on an old wartime recipe, is a brilliant way to use up the end of a stale old loaf. I like to add a few nourishing seeds to give a little crunch” (Pam Corbin – author)

Makes 10 big pieces

Ingredients: –

250g stale bread, sliced and crusts removed (to feed the birds…)

100g raisins

100g currants

1 tbs linseed (flax seed)

1 tbs sunflower seeds

125g soft brown sugar

1 – 2 tsp ground mixed spice

Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon or orange

1 apple or firm pear, finely grated with the skin on

75ml canola oil or 75g unsalted melted and then cooled butter

1 lightly beaten egg

300ml milk

1 tbs Demerara sugar to dust the top


25 x 20cm baking tin, 6cm deep (or a tin with similar dimensions), lightly greased and base-lined with baking parchment

Method: –

Cut the bread slices into quarters put in a large mixing bowl and cover with about 500ml of cold water. Leave to soak for an hour or so. Preheat the oven to 180C. With your hands, squeeze out as much water from the bread as you can. Return the bread pulp to the bowl. Mix in the dried fruit, linseed (flax seed), sunflower seeds, sugar, mixed spice, citrus zest and apple or pear. Mix in the canola oil or butter, followed by the egg and milk. Using a wooden spoon beat everything to form a wet, sloppy batter. Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours or until the top is crisp and golden. While still hot, sprinkle the Demerara sugar over the top. Serve as a hot pudding (what I would be inclined to do…) with custard or leave in the tin to cool before slicing and serving as a cake. Once cool, it will keep for a couple of days in an airtight tin. For longer keeping store it in the fridge.

Variations: –

In summertime, replace the apple or pear with a handful of fresh berries or red or black currants. At other times, an overripe banana, well mashed, can be used as the fresh fruit element.

This is a very thrifty cake/pudding and one that will be trialled over the winter time on Serendipity Farm.

As mentioned previously, I am a great fan of dense cakes with lots of flavour…spice etc. I especially like cakes made with ingredients other than flour. Almond meal, other nut meals, polenta, semolina, anything with an interesting texture. I prefer my cake plain rather than iced and I like interesting ethnic flavours. Here are some more lovely cake recipes that you can try if you like. I can recommend both of the following cakes as mum used to make them on occasion and they were really delicious

And this one…

Don’t say that I don’t give you anything…


This is the Albert Hall…not the original one in the U.K. but a pretty good town hall just the same. I love the old buildings in Launceston and spent the first month that we lived here looking up at the beautiful skyline and making the locals think that I was crazy (not hard…)


These 2 beautiful Ginkgo biloba are quite unique in the scheme of things. The tree at the back is a male and the tree at the front is a female. Nature being nature takes full advantage of their planting and the result is…


This is the female tree and around about this time of year Steve and I start to take a more active interest other than merely appreciating these glorious trees for their intrinsic value and we begin waiting for these little fruits to start their ripening phase…


They look very interesting don’t they? The Japanese take the seed from inside these fruits and treat it and use it in their cuisine. I don’t know which Japanese person first thought of using the seed because to get past the fruit is a feat in itself. As the fruit ripens it gains a pungency that makes your eyes water. Steve and I have collected fruit from this tree for the last 2 years and have subsequently grown many small ginkgo trees. To arrive at the pretty little ginkgo trees in our pots we had to collect the seed (quite high up in the tree) before council remove it…the fruit has a smell akin to a blend of parmesan cheese and vomit. It smells heartily disgusting. Steve has been nominated to clean the flesh from the seed by putting it into bucket of water to minimise the smell and making sure you use rubber gloves because not only is the fruit stinky, but it contains compounds that can severely irritate your skin. We read that it is very hard to get Ginkgo biloba seed to germinate but that hasn’t been the case for us and we will most probably collect more of this amazing fruit this year (with pegs on our noses) and grow another year worth of this beautiful, functional and most hardy of trees


The down side to painting is that we had to move all of the books from the book shelf. How the heck did all these books fit on those little shelves?! I am going to have to sort them out and see which books I am actually going to use and those that I am just hanging on to because I once had a use for them. We have been moving the furniture back in the lounge room and the colour has really made the lounge room feel like a much nicer place to be. We might even paint the bricks on the fireplace (that we don’t use any more) the same colour. That would be a very interesting effect and would stop your eyes from heading straight over to the beige bricks when you walk into the room. Steve has just suggested that we might skim it with plaster (well when I say “we” I mean “he”) and that would make it less obvious. Whatever we do with the room it already looks a whole lot better than when we started painting. Earl and Bezial have had free rein in the spare rooms for most of today. Earl is an “eater”. In the past we have had some serious problems with Earl and his eating, but to be honest, we had similar problems with Bezial when he was a pup. American Staffordshire Terriers mature later than other dogs and you have to put up with pup like behaviour until they turn 3. Bezial would deny it completely but he was an absolute terror! To look at this stately gentleman who looks on with disgust as Earl frolics around the lounge room in his after dinner romp you would think that he had always been a pillar of society. You would be distinctly wrong on that one. Bezial was an angel for a week after we picked him out as a little 9 week old pup in a local pet shop. 7 days to the hour that we bought him he turned into a monster. If we could survive Bezial (and his subsequent vet bills) Earl is completely bearable. He is starting to turn into a really good dog. He is very loyal and loving and apart from his occasional need to nibble on a book or two he is proving himself to be trustworthy. He is lying on the bed in the middle/spare room right next to his previous favourite snack food, some furry cushions, and they are still intact. Prior to this event, Earl would have gutted those pillows in 10 seconds flat but they are lying right next to him as he reclines. He still attempts dog surfing in the car whenever we go anywhere and has to be shoved back on a regular basis else he ends up slooping into the front seat. He still bullies Bezial occasionally when he thinks that he might have a bit of fun and he still doesn’t understand that he isn’t supposed to pull everything out of Steve’s pockets and drag it under the bed to be nibbled at a later date, but the extended period of time in the middle room with no damage whatsoever is giving us hope that we might be able to leave the 2 dogs alone next week when we have to go in for our first appointment with our lecturer.


Steve’s newfound redneckedness made him take a picture of this Boag’s (beer) truck out the back of the Boag’s information centre. Boag’s beer is brewed right across the road from this centre and this little truck is obviously claimed as advertising


Steve and I most definitely appreciate Boag’s and so this sign is obviously aimed at enticing our newly teetotal derrières into the centre…”BE STRONG!”


Here is the old Oast house (hop house) over the road from the Boag’s information centre and this brewery has an amazing smell akin to hot Weetabix on a cold morning when the brewing process starts


Steve’s nickname is Frog (no idea why but it stuck…) and look…right near the front door of the Boag’s information centre they have this car park! We were obviously worth more to Boag’s economical stability than we initially thought…


It’s only when you move things around to paint or when you have to move houses that you realise just how much “stuff” you have. We just moved the bookshelf worth of books from the shelves so that we can paint behind them and Steve’s music room floor is now littered with piles of them. Admittedly we do have 3 kinds of books on our shelves…cookbooks (my personal hoard); gardening books (our shared passion) and “misc.” Misc. is not very well represented and tends to be obscure books that I have picked up at Thrift shops for very little money but that might just give me some information that I might just find interesting at a later date…in other words dust catchers. Mum gave us all books at Christmas time and they have all come in extremely handy especially the Jackie French’s Chook Book and the book with how to do just about EVERYTHING yourself that we initially scoffed at the “everything” title but on sifting through some of the pages we found so much do-it-yourself information that we couldn’t believe it all. One of the most pertinent “recipes” (if you could call it a recipe) was for an interesting brew that you make using yeast for invigorating your septic tank contents. This book thinks of it all! We have a septic tank and dad was forever getting it pumped out by “Nigel’s Pumping Services” in Beaconsfield. We don’t want to line Nigel’s pockets as we figure that dad paid for that Microlight that Nigel flies over our house dangled underneath on a regular basis…we are sure he is checking to see how the septic is going as he wants to add to his airline fleet and dads pesos are sorely missed…


I have a newfound appreciation for old door knobs since I managed to pick one up for Serendipity Farm at the Exeter thrift shop for $1. This one is firmly attached to one of the local auction houses in the centre of town


This is an example of what this auction house likes to sell…


Just the sort of thing that Steve would like for his music room (and minus the mouthpiece on that Baritone he couldn’t use it to terrorise the neighbours after a few ales…not that we drink ales any more however Steve’s newfound redneck ways might allow him to make a still and produce moonshine out of our blackberry wine…watch this spot…)


I loved this little door in the middle of that enormous door at the Auction house.


I mentioned in a previous post that I am a pack rat. I come from hoarding parents who were born just before W.W.2 and who were taught not to discard anything. They took their lessons to heart and both of them tended to keep things that had no use to them whatsoever. The difference between hoarding and being frugal is a very fine line. We kept the wire that we removed from the fence that we pulled down that was no longer serving a purpose for future use but we donated our old Massport fire to the Beaconsfield Tip Shop so that someone else could get some use out of it. We figure that we will keep things that we know will have a future use but we will share what we no longer need. I have mentioned a fair bit about our painting episode on Wednesdays post. I departed from my usual modus operandi and actually typed up a post on the day so some of this is older news. I have just sorted through the acres of books and have eliminated duplicates, no longer relevant books (all of my tofu books) and anything that I simply am no longer going to use. These books will be donated to the thrift shop where I picked most of them up over the years. I got to check out some of my books as I was sorting through and some of them are going to be priceless when we are working in the garden. They were collected prior to our newfound plant passion and I had forgotten that we owned them. It’s always good to go through your stuff that you rarely use. You just never know what you will find. Steve now has 2 new Austar channels to watch and one of them (A & E) is now his firm favourite. It seems to be redneck heaven but I can’t talk…I have been captivated by some of the programs including programs about people that go to storage lots and buy the contents of storage units in the hope of finding something worthwhile. It’s very engaging television and despite the cowboy rednecks I can’t help but be fascinated by what people allow to be sold off. The units are only allowed to be sold once the person renting the unit has not paid their rental fees for 3 months. One unit had a jaguar car in it! This channel is now dealing with all of those shows about extreme conditions and people working in them. The soft shelled crab people, the shrimp people, the ice road truckers, the heavy haulage people who specialise in massive loads or weird and wonderful loads and anything to do with bounty hunters, weird pest controllers and life in the mid-West of the good ole U.S.of.A. overall. It’s like watching Big Brother but with a whole lot more action and no eliminations. I think I might just spend this afternoon playing Animal Crossing. We have 1 week left to do whatever we please before our Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are taken up by study for the rest of the year. The slack life is just about to come to an end and we will finally have our focus on horticulture renewed again. See you all tomorrow…I got $16 000 for my red turnip by the way…even the games I play have to do with gardening :o)