(Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday…

Hi All,

 

Today’s blog post is a little bit different than my usual word filled ramble. Today I am going to talk in photos while I give my brain a bit of a rest from the muses endless clatter. Please click on the link at the end of this post to visit an African farmer who has given me pause for thought and great hope with what we are trying to do here in our little patch of paradise…now on, to the not words…

 

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris :)

Our old lecturer from last year gave Steve this excellent Adobe book when Steve was dropping off our last assessment in the city. Thank you Chris 🙂

 

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter...

Spread rounds of bread dough of your choice with garlic butter…

Bake them till golden brown...

Bake them till golden brown…

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup :)

And serve them with some delicious home made veggie and lentil soup 🙂

How to train a dog to use a treadmill...hint...make sure to have a LOT of treats...

How to train a dog to use a treadmill…hint…make sure to have a LOT of treats…

"Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!"

“Seriously? You want me to walk on this?!”

"OH I get a treat? Sign me up!" ;)

“OH I get a treat? Sign me up!” 😉

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

My little indicator apple tree next to the protected pile of manure to prevent Earl from using it as a ramp to evacuate from the compound

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is an almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure

I have been keeping myself very busy working hard in the garden. This is the almost extinct pile of earthworm packed horse manure prior to me wheeling it up to Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

And this is a pile of very damp oak leaves just about to be moved into Sanctuary

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Happy chooks scratching through the remains of the pile and that log selection contains a small oak tree that grew from the debris

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

Acess to Sanctuary via the shed

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

A big compost pile in the corner now covered in manure and leaves

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

More manure and leaf piles that are feeding the surrounding citrus trees as well as becoming the beginning of future garden beds in the process. I keep adding buckets of veggie scraps and plant material and dry leaves and the worms and fungus do the rest

The last of the currant compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in...

The last of the current compost piles inside Sanctuary. Earl has claimed this one to roll in…

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

Happy rhubarb in its forever home surrounded by oak leaf mulch

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

My transferred Jerusalem artichokes in their new bed where they can grow and expand to their hearts content

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and "other" things are growing

Weeds pulled out of garden beds and sunlight accelerating the growth of seeds that were already in the beds. Lots of free tomatoes, pumpkins and “other” things are growing

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

Curry the male Currawong in mid splash

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

I managed to save a little honesty plant inside Sanctuary and it has rewarded me by flowering. Now I just need to remove that blackberry that is giving it a hug

 

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new "Donna Hay" green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

We had to redo our new compound gate as the old one was built out of obviously very green treated pine that warped magnificently. This new “Donna Hay” green gate is made out of dry timber and should last the distance

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Steve got tired of my dehydrator being in his music room and made it a new shelf in the laundry

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Monday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday

Veggie seedlings on Wednesday. Growing like weeds 🙂

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

Looking back outside the glasshouse door you can see a dog sniffing around for the chook that I just saved that was stupid enough to fly into the dog compound

My purple artichoke babies :)

My purple artichoke babies 🙂

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

The other inhabitants of the glasshouse enjoying the sunny weather

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here :)

I grow my nut trees from seed I collect on my travels and I obviously have 2 different kinds of walnut here as you can see by the leaf structure 🙂

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! :)

Look Bev, how your babies have grown! 🙂 These are pepino cuttings a good friend sent me and aren’t they healthy little babies. Bev certainly knows how to grow a mean pepino 😉

Even under the potting table is green!

Even under the potting table is green. This is a lemon balm growing out of one of the cracks in the glasshouse concrete floor

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks :)

The first of the rhododendron blossoms on Serendipity Farm. The surrounding neighbourhood is full of them and we are enjoying basking in their beauty on our early morning dog walks 🙂

The first of our raspberry futures :)

The first of our raspberry futures 🙂

Wait a minute...isn't this for the dogs? ;)

Wait a minute…isn’t this for the dogs? 😉

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden...

Bezial relaxing after a particularly difficult trot around the garden…

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

My 2 fig cuttings that were bare sticks over winter that are now taller than the fig cuttings that I planted out last year. Ready to be planted out

Potato, yacon and "other"patch

Potato, yacon and “other”patch

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are ;)

Zucchini and some form of cabbage or cauliflower seedlings. My friend that gave them to me has no idea which they are 😉

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn't worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! :)

That very overgrown area at the back of Sanctuary is just about to become my grape arbour. Who says that compost isn’t worth making? This area was where I threw a few buckets of compost last year and look at how much vegetation is growing in this small patch. Compost folks, compost now! 🙂

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking "his" patch ;)

This photo was taken standing inside the fence looking back towards the rear compound fence. These trees would have been devastated by the combined efforts of the possums and the wallabies by now but the new compound seems to have given them a much better degree of protection than I would have initially thought. Earl is obviously VERY good at patrolling and marking “his” patch 😉

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible :)

Look at how my little indicator apple has grown! It might just be a rootstock apple but I can graft onto it. Apple futures on Serendipity Farm, I never would have thought it possible 🙂

 

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/10/28/glimpse-climate-smart-agriculture-kenya/

Anyone who is struggling with the costs of growing vegetables and gardens in general take heart from Maurice’s story and go and get yourself a bucket full of hope, possibility and enthusiasm from this mans dreams that he turned into realities with his steadfast and most determined actions. He is a credit to penniless people everywhere and a great example of how anyone can do this, you just need to find ways to access cheap/free soil builders. We are just about to pick up 3 trailer loads of grass clippings from Glad’s place next door. Another garden bed inside Sanctuary once they rot down. Its all in the possibilities and in recognising them when they raise their heads 🙂

Last but by no means least…here’s a little pre Halloween image where I become a zombie thanks to Papa Doc Earl…

"BRAINZ!" ;)

“BRAINZ!” 😉

Using every bit of the metaphorical cow

Hi All,

Firstly, has anyone else out there noticed an increase in blog followers lately? Aside from the blog followers, are any of you experiencing a lot more spam making it through the spam filters for WordPress? Well I have been and so I went hunting to see what I could find. The reason I went hunting was that I am naturally nosey and I decided to see who my “new followers” actually were. It turns out that 6 of the last 10 blog followers are not actually bloggers. Several of them are blogs that show me how to make money out of blogging and the rest are either suspended blog accounts or remain unused. It turns out that this problem, as it IS a problem, has been surfacing on many blogs lately. It would seem spammers have worked out a new way to make revenue out of blogs and are exploiting a loophole where WordPress doesn’t allow bloggers to choose who follows them. A simple choice, like we get with comments, would solve the problem but apparently WordPress is loath to implement this change for some reason. At the moment all we can do is report these spam/faux blogs to WordPress. Here is a bit more information about the problem…

http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/04/09/wordpress-com-follower-management/

From the site above I found a link where I headed over to a forum post specifically to do with spam followers…

http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/preventing-spammers-from-being-notified-of-new-posts/page/4?replies=83

If you have suddenly become incredibly popular in the last few months you may have picked up some spam hitchhikers but at the moment we just have to grin and bear them. The only option available to us is to report them to WordPress but as I said, WordPress is in mass denial mode and seem to want to divert the problem rather than deal with it. Let’s just hope that these faux followers are merely a nuisance rather than a problem waiting in the wings that WordPress simply can’t deal with.

DSCF3061

“Sorry? You want me to look dignified? Not today, I am too comfortable”

DSCF3069

A very large boat heading out to sea via the Tamar River

Now I can get back to the title of the post after sharing that with you. I think that everyone needs to know that the spammers are trying to get in the back door so to speak before heading side left into metaphorical cows et. Al. We all need to be more aware of food waste and we vegans can’t be smug in that arena. We might not end up with lots of grisly and gristly entrails dripping with gore when we choose to make our evening meal but we do end up with a whole lot of skins, pips and “other” that needs to be dealt with. We can compost our bits or we can often use some of them to feed domesticated animals (Earl and Bezial would like it to be known that they are NO-ONES domesticated animals and therefore point blank refuse to entertain the idea of eating our veggie and fruit scraps) but what about those skins that worms fear to taste like citrus skins and onion and garlic skins? What do we do with them? I am as guilty as the next person of surreptitiously tossing them into the rubbish bin salving my conscience with “they will biodegrade before I do!” but if everyone throws their peelings into the bin that’s a whole lot of waste on top of the waste that is more difficult to get rid of. What’s a conscientious environmentally aware person to do?

DSCF3015

After paring the white pith away from the zest they had to be covered with cold water and brought up to the boil

DSCF3028

Draining the peel after one of it’s simmering sessions

DSCF3036

After the final simmer in fresh water the peel is added back into the pan along with sugar and water

DSCF3058

Here the peel has taken on a translucent look and the syrup is thick. After checking that the syrup had reached 230F (the recipe was in “F”) I removed the pot from the heat and allowed it all to cool down for 30 minutes. The end results are a delicious way to preserve all of the harvest and minimise waste.

Well, let’s think of a clever way to reuse those problem peels. You can use pips and skin of citrus in marmalade. Save them in the freezer till you need them. You can also turn citrus skins into zest for all kinds of cooking purposes that you can freeze until needed or you can glace or candy the zest for cakes and decorations or just dipping into chocolate or sugar and eating. Here are a couple of links for anyone looking to have a go at minimising their own personal waste in the citrus area…

http://veena-cakesbakes.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/preserved-orange-peel.html

http://kitchenpreserve.com/candied-orange-peel/

http://daysontheclaise.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/preserved-orange-peel.html

http://scraplunchproject.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/preserved-orange-peel.html

The same principals can be used for all citrus zest, just make sure to get as much of the white pithy bit from the zest as you can because it makes the final product bitter. I am peeling some orange skins at the moment and just found out a small tip by good chance. I froze a lot of orange skins in a bag in the freezer and was adding them to the bag as I ate my oranges. The frozen (now thawed) orange skins are much easier to get the zest from than fresh orange peels so if you want to make a lot of preserved orange peel, it might take the edge off all of that pith removal. This next tip is specifically for lemon rinds and results in zest powder and the link after that is a spin on preserved lemons, using the preserved orange rinds to make a savoury ingredient. No waste, useable and desirable edibles and less landfill a win-win situation

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/06/roasted_lemon_zest_powder.php

http://scraplunchproject.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/preserved-orange-peel.html

The onion skins make a wonderful natural dye for egg shells and natural spun wool and combined with alum and other mordants you can get some pretty amazing colours out of the humble onion skin. See some of these links for some really useful information and sites…

http://pioneerthinking.com/crafts/natural-dyes

http://craftykatiegates.blogspot.com.au/

http://waysofthewhorl.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/natural-dyeing-take-2-onion-skins/

Anyone wanting to keep their own goats or sheep might want to head to that first blog where there is an extensive list of colours linked to particular plants. The second blog is now defunct but still there for us all to check out and this clever little cookie has managed to use some interesting things to dye skeins of wool including the humble black bean!

DSCF3016

My lovely new friand/financier pan courtesy of my wonderful daughters

DSCF3033

err…”Oops!” I always forget how powerful the vitamix is and this is what happened to my soaked skun almonds, they went straight from nut to paste!

DSCF3031

After sieving the paste through a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the lumps I decided to soldier on and hope for the best that almond paste would suffice for almond meal

DSCF3035

There’s quite a lot of butter in friand but what’s a slab of butter when something is delicious eh? 😉

DSCF3046

The end result, lovely rich, dense little cakes that taste wonderful

I have just been doing a bit of nosing around on a website that I previously pilfered a few tutorials and articles from but haven’t had time to revisit for a while. Jess, a.k.a. “Rabid” from http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ and LyndaD from http://middleagedreflections.blogspot.com.au  reminded me what a valuable source of information this site actually is. I was trawling around and discovered this amazing woman. She built a log cabin on a waitress’s wages all on her own and then after losing it to a fire just after it was completed, she and her partner did it all over again! What an inspiration of a woman! Check out her story here and marvel at how this woman was able to overcome the odds and never EVER try to beat her willpower to succeed, methinks it must be diamond skinned!

http://www.dorothyainsworth.com/welcome.html that’s a lot of linkies in one post and I promise no more.

It’s now 4.24pm and suddenly it’s almost time to post this post and I have been phaffing around all day trying to animate teapots and kettles but realising that I am certainly NOT the I.T. Specialist in this family. The clucky who was sitting on eggs has hatched out 4 babies and despite being completely surrounded by feral cats as soon as they realised that there were 4 tasty little fluffy squeakies she still had 4 fluffy little babies. It would seem that her mother’s (Effel Doocark) uselessness with hatching out babies hasn’t passed down to this angry mother of a chook and she is ready to take ALL of the feral cats on at once! She attacked every single one that came close to her and is now sitting in the middle of a pile of grain that I tossed out for her on top of her fluffies and maybe…just maybe she might manage to keep all 4 babies but I am not investing myself in baby chicks anymore. The odds are against them folks and narf7 has no way to make those odds any better short of trapping all of the feral cats, driving them over the Batman bridge and hurling them out into the park on the other side along with the feral crazy man who emerges from his caravan to greet his day with a solid round of yelling each morning. Steve, the dogs and I get serenaded by his dulcet tones. Maybe he would like some cats to keep him company? At least he would have something to yell about then! 😉

DSCF3022

This is Steve’s latest batch of homemade ice cream. It’s rich vanilla bean ice cream with homemade creamy English fudge pieces

DSCF3024

The ice cream packed into a container and heading for the freezer

DSCF3076

My choko now looking like some sort of exotic mantis giving a speech

I have decided to take up knitting for relaxation. I don’t know how that is going to work out to be honest because whenever I get a knot the relaxation quotient of knitting is probably going to get a reworking but the other day I decided to head off and find a sound wav of a kettle boiling. A simple little sound wav that I could put into my next animation. The very first site that I clicked on was infected with a Trojan and instantly, so were we :o(. Steve was out so narfy, the technophobic luddite had to think her way out of the fact that AVG appears to be on the blink and not updating properly and was only managing to “contain” the virus and every 5 minutes I would get a pop-up warning telling me that I had 3 viruses all vying for my attention. After ascertaining that an AVG scan just wasn’t going to cut the mustard and realising that I had NO idea where Malware Bytes was situation on our computer any more (after the last virus went through the start menu got erased)… and as I was downloading Microsofts answer to Armageddon I suddenly realised that we had been contracting a lot of viruses lately, all from websites. AVG SHOULD be catching these viruses before they have a chance to invade Poland but apparently the free version no longer does a very good job. It would appear that “free” is something that WordPress and most internet security services no longer want to host.

DSCF3048

A tray of sausage rolls for Another one of Steve’s evening meals

DSCF3059

Finished and ready for mass consumption

DSCF3071

I had some milk kefir hanging about in the fridge and as neither Steve nor I use it I decided to put it to good use and make a cake. The cake recipe was for a buttermilk spice cake. The end result was incredibly moist and smelled wonderful. Being a spice cake this should mature nicely as well. I even made the icing sugar myself (from regular granulated sugar) in my vitamix.

It took 15 minutes to download the most excellent Microsoft malwares tool (from here should anyone out there find themselves up to their armpits in viruses with no-where to go…)…

http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/security/pc-security/malware-removal.aspx

After choosing “full scan” I was told that it was going to take over 2 hours…there went my morning of study! I spent the next 2 hours clicking “heal” on AVG every 5 minutes and knitting up a storm while I watched the monitor for those 5 minute pop-ups courtesy of Mr Virus and his host of minions, most persistent little buggers they are, so knitting was my only real option. I actually had fun! Once the malware removal tool had managed to find the 23 infected files and deal with them the PC was back to perfick and Mr Virus is going to have to wait till stupid narf7 plays Russian roulette again with wav sites…on second thoughts, I reckon I am going to record the sounds myself as then I am guaranteed virus free. It looks like we are going to have to pay for virus protection for the very first time. A sad but sorry indictment of the “free” software that is lagging behind and is going out of date faster than the viruses are replicating (lightning speed). As irritating as having a virus (or 23) was, there is a real danger that there are many people out there simply unaware that by clicking on a website you can become infected.

DSCF3078

As you can see I have some knitting in prime position next to the P.C. (and yes Sarah, that IS one of your glorious U.K. meadow shots blatantly pilfered and used as my desktop 😉 )

Well that’s Wednesday done and dusted folks. It’s getting later and I have to liberate Steve’s tea from the oven. Tonight he is having marinated tofu and oven baked Chinese rice. We had 3 blocks of tofu that need to be used up and so tonight is the night. Lucky Steve likes it really ;). See you next Wednesday folks. Steve is going to have a look at working out how to format the animations so that I can share them with you along with a few photos. Take note, this post is 800 words less than your usual doorstop and narf7 is honing her craft ;). Till Wednesday, Ciao :o)

Here are my last 3 animations. You will have to click on the links below because WordPress won’t allow imbedded content. Make sure to turn your speakers on because the last animation has sound.

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/BabooshkabeforeEase_zps58a0c4c6.mp4.html

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/FranWindmillTask_zpsdb06ed8d.mp4.html

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/typeanim_zps2bd9c39b.mp4.html

Brunhilda feeds tonight…

Hi All,

You can’t stop a behemoth. By its sheer solidity of purpose it has a primal desire to flow from one state to another and good luck stopping it. Brunhilda is one such behemoth. She affects a type of reverse hibernation where she sleeps all through the bustling summer months when everything else is up, procreating and turning green. Brunhilda settles down into her long slumber in mid-October when the frosts officially cease but I have my suspicions that it might be slightly later this year. The berries on the cotoneaster and the hollies are both copious and incredibly bright red so I think we might be in for a long winter. Brunhilda rises to the call of the cold. She opens her door and yawns for the first taste of kindling and the behemoth awakes. From that first flickering flame Brunhilda is constantly in a state of fire. She “ticks over” or she burns like a funeral pyre and in between she gives us something that money just can’t buy, she makes our cold winter house a home. Brunhilda has been going since early May and aside from a few hairy moments when one or other of us forgot to add her fuel of choice and she threatened to go on strike she hasn’t gone out. After you set a behemoth on its way you have to step back and let it do its thing. We put in the fuel and she walks her primal pathway. We reap so long as we pay. It’s a pure case of symbiosis and I love it!

DSCF2532

I am not the only one that has complete and utter adoration for Brunhilda and all that she stands for…meet her humble servant Bezial…

Brunhilda prefers nice dry wood. She is a creature of comfort, much like Bezial who prefers steak and butter and like Bezial we have to temper her desires and she gets her version of broccoli in wood that might not be completely dry. We know that so long as we mix the slightly damp wood with lots of dry we won’t have any problems and it is amazing to see Brunhilda and her tongue of flames turn something that was a tree last year into ashes. You learn a lot about life if you observe its cycles and fire is no exception. I love my winter cycles. They seem so much more real because the cold hones your perception and forces you to focus. We collect our wood like squirrels and we stack it in well-ordered piles on the deck and we slowly feed it into Brunhilda as she works her way through the pile. When we bought this particular model of Aussie made oven I wasn’t sure whether we had done the right thing. Aside from being very expensive (although nowhere NEAR as expensive as her imported brethren) we were going out on a limb to try and support an Aussie business and there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there about their range. It would seem that people like imported Aga’s and Rayburn’s. Brunhilda is not related and where her imported cousins can be colour coordinated with your kitchen there is a degree of bolshiness about her little black attire that reminds you that a stove is supposed to heat, cook and maybe heat your water if you thought about it in advance and decided to spring for the hot water jacket…

DSCF2541

Steve bought these 2 filters and 3 in that little wallet underneath the box at the rear for $15 total. No postage and they got here in just over a week from Hong Kong. Steve has been buying online camera equipment now for a couple of months and so far everything that he has purchased has been a lot cheaper and a lot better than he would have imagined.

From the moment we lit Brunhilda she has been reliable and frugal with her appetite. We feed her, she burns. Because of the unique firebox position in the middle of the 4 ovens, the heat gets retained better and so long as Steve stokes her up before he goes to bed she is waiting for me to give her breakfast when I get up at 3am and open her up. We don’t need firelighters, she just keeps going and my first cup of tea is in line with the first cuppa’s that our pioneering women drew their daily strength from in the past. When you bypass the instantaneous ability to flick a switch or click a gas jet you take on a role in the processes that requires you to keep up your end of the bargain or the cycles stop. You can’t be lazy and take a holiday from hauling wood or stoking Brunhilda because you won’t be able to heat the house and fuel yourself with those soul warming cups of tea and so we become part of the cycle and the process and there is a wonderful degree of fulfilment that comes with stepping in and taking up that yoke.

DSCF2551

I think I might just have to buy this book. It is excellent. James Wong shows us all how to grow some pretty amazing edibles and 3 weeks worth of reading has made me want to own this book.

Yesterday we put up 2 more nets around our huge enclosed garden. We can see the scope of the area that we chose now and I am getting really excited about the possibilities. Where before it was all in my mind, now my idea is coming into fruition. It might not be pretty but it will stop the native wildlife from scarfing our precious food crops and what price that? Again we come back to cycles and our part in those cycles. How can we appreciate what we get if we haven’t had to take part in the process? Handing over a few dollars for a whisk from Shiploads (our equivalent to Wal-Mart apparently…) doesn’t give us the satisfaction of being part of the process. Some poor worker slaved on a factory line in China to make that whisk and its $1.97 price is completely unrepresentative of the true cost of its manufacture. I didn’t just pull “whisk” out of the atmospheric dictionary dear constant readers, I just bought one. I know…”SHAME ON YOU NARF7!”. I supported slave trade… I consumed… I did a bad thing…did it count that I thought about what I was doing?

DSCF2554

This book was in the car ready to be taken back to the library (unread…we have been VERY busy…) when I had to wait in the car for Steve to pick up some plumbing gear from the Beaconsfield hardware shop and so I started to read it and decided to take it out again. It’s a very interesting subject…not sure I would be willing to leave my body to Mr Bass when I die after reading what they do to human remains but kudos to the people that do, a lot of crimes have been solved thanks to the research and macabre generosity of people with their earthly remains after they no longer inhabit them…

While I was twitching that whisk around in a bowl of homemade soymilk and some homemade date paste that I was turning into food for my kefir I was thinking about how we really don’t appreciate the things that are available to us because we really don’t know what cost they truly represent to us. The up-front $1.97 is just a fraction of what any of us earns. Even penniless student hippies that get paid by the state to pretend that they are not actually unemployed, but are productive members of society get more than enough money to justify paying out $1.97 for a whisk but behind that heavily subsidised miniscule price there is an incredible price to pay for the ability to stir some soymilk. Raw resources are being taken from the ground in alarming rates so that we can have whisks, plastic funnels for $1.76 (a set of 2 folks…who WOULDN’T want them…), 3 sieves that fit neatly inside each other for a bargain $1.52 and more…who cares that they are flimsy and will fall apart…just throw them into the rubbish bin and buy another one! That’s the cycle of consumption folks and narf7 doesn’t want to support it. That’s why we spend our days lugging wood and feeding it into Brunhilda. For our part of the equation/cycle we get so much more than a heated house, 8 months of free hot water on tap, 4 ovens to cook just about anything we want to at the same time and our knickers dried in front of the fire, we get the exercise of cutting the firewood and carting it from its resting place to Brunhilda. We get the incomparable joy of waking up knowing that all we have to do to make our home cosy is to take our place in the cycle again and there is something truly primally satisfying in taking up that yoke

DSCF2555

See that “pile” just behind those white poles there? That’s narf7’s hard slog from 8.30am till 1pm. As you can see it’s a large pile of horse dung and it was in mid compost when I hauled it to it’s new residence (inside the structure). Note we have covered it with some ex fish farm netting in a vain attempt to stop the chooks from moving the entire pile back outside the fence perimeter. Lets just say that I wouldn’t be pleased if they did!

Today I take on another process. This one will give me more exercise than I could hope to get in a single day but I am less inclined to yoke myself to this process than I am to stuffing some wood into Brunhilda’s gaping maw. Today I shovel 6 trailer loads of composted horse poo from one pile to another pile 2 metres away. I need to do this so that when we put up our final net wall for our fully enclosed garden the enormous pile of dung won’t need to be manually barrowed all the way around to the other side of the enclosure where the gate is going to be situated. There are benefits to shovelling dung. Exercise is the predominate benefit (although 2 days later when I am aching from my efforts and my lats are reminding me of my impending 50ness I won’t be so chipper about the whole thing) closely followed by job satisfaction and the equal satisfaction that I am going to get from stopping the chooks from spreading the 6 trailer loads of manure to the 4 winds. They have taken their task most seriously and the pile has been somewhat levelled by their determination. Once inside the enclosure the chooks will have to stand around outside and look in as wistfully as I hope the possums will be looking in come spring.

launy

This is a native Tasmanian Grey Shrike Thrush. He decided to check Steve out when he was testing his new filters on the deck. This particular Shrike Thrush comes on a regular basis for small cubes of cheese that we leave out for the wrens and Shrike Thrushes. The sparrows weren’t invited but gate crash on a regular basis

After shovelling the dung I have another mammoth task that needs to be taken on before I can start creating the garden beds that will give us a huge degree of food choice this growing season. I have to chop up the branches and leaves from the sheoak and wattle trees that we had to remove to create the garden. Trees are clever things folks. Never let it be said that they are just “vegetables” in disguise. They have a primal need much like Brunhilda does and if you allow them to coexist with your vegetable garden they are going to take as much advantage of your tender loving care for your vegetables as they can. You are going to water your veggies and the surrounding trees are going to respond like ferals and send all of their available roots over to freeload. Fertilising your garden? “Cheers!” say the trees and promptly pinch your soil ameliorations before they get a chance to settle. Trees are most adventitious at surviving against the odds and if you turn the odds in their favour they are going to take whatever you give them. I am all for the trees. I love trees and Steve and I plan on populating Serendipity Farm with a plethora of them BUT to get the productive and useful trees that we want we are going to have to sacrifice some of the hardier foundation trees that have sprung up on Serendipity Farm

DSCF2556

This is our back block. It was cleared back when Ida owned the property and all of the trees that you see here have grown over the last 20 years. Most of them are wattles and sheoaks with the odd young eucalyptus

DSCF2557

Here’s where some trees have decided to die in the back block and are being harvested for their tasty firewood…Brunhilda approves

When I say foundation tree I am talking about seral behaviour. “Seral” is like viral folks. They just take off running and when we humans do our thing and clear huge tracts of land the seral community starts right back in where we left off and the earth tries to heal itself. Have you ever wondered why all of those pesky weeds spring up whenever there is a bare patch of earth or why your outdoor fire patch seems to grow the best weeds? Nature hates bare earth. It is foreign to survival and needs to be covered and so she allows those little freeloading weeds to get active for a season. What makes them pests is also what allows quick ground cover and their short lived vigour (thanks to huge amounts of available sunlight caused by a sudden lack of trees) allows some of the smaller shrub species to get a foothold in the soil amongst them. Once the shrubs start to grow some of the trees on the periphery of the area can shed some seed inside the weedy vacant lot. Once a few small trees start to populate the area nature is back on track to regaining control of her cycles. We just don’t see that these “weeds”, those ugly native shrubs, that prickly ground cover and those boring sheoak’s that shed their needles on anything that walks past them are doing an amazing job at keeping the moisture in the soil, nitrogenising the soil (sheoak’s and fast growing wattles are all nitrogen fixers) and are doing it extremely tough so that those tender useful species that we humans so covet for their ability to feed us can survive in the cycle of events.

DSCF2560

The branches you can see on the ground are part of Steve’s latest barrow load of wood. Today has been particularly lovely. Sunny with gorgeous blue skies but nice and cool, perfect for a shovelling narf. The lovely manicured lawn with the pretty orange coloured tree in the rear of the shot is our neighbours to the back. They would like us to clear our entire back block so that they have a better view of the water. We would like for the back block to not slide down the steep slope in the next rains so we tend to ignore them much to their disgust. It must be difficult to have awful penniless student hippies living in front of your prospective perfect view… 😉

DSCF2558

These little shrooms were sheltering underneath this spiders web underneath where Steve was chainsawing tonight’s firewood and they managed to survive the onslaught…kudos shrooms!

I love to learn. Shovelling horse poo and manually cutting up entire trees to line raised garden beds might not be everyone’s idea of a school room but to narf7 it is a precious opportunity to learn at the coalface. Yesterday while we were hauling ex fish farm netting from where we had stored it under the deck after cutting it in half for our purposes I noticed that the ground was unusually damp next to our glasshouse. It might be winter here in Tasmania but we haven’t had much rain over the last few days and this was more than dew…it was positively squishy. I mentioned it in passing to Steve on our first trip up and he muttered something about a tap and we didn’t think any more of it. On our second trip up to the garden hauling a larger net we were going slower and Steve looked down at the tap that he had been muttering about and was somewhat alarmed to notice that the large piece of white polypipe that surrounded it was half full of water and I was positively duck like in my squishing around the area and suddenly Steve had one of those forced life lessons that no-one really wants to take hold of…it was time to dig up the pipes.

DSCF2533

Check out Steve’s fixing job with assistance from some wayfaring plumbers. He hasn’t filled the assembly back in yet as we are waiting to see if it leaks…fool us once!

DSCF2546

Here is my choko. If you check the end it is starting to sprout and after some research that took us to permies.com (one of my go-to places to find “stuff” out) we found out that after it shoots we can plant it out. We will have to protect it from the marauding possums (remember the top of the fully enclosed gardens won’t be put on till spring) by covering it with some ex fish farm netting but this little baby is going to love climbing up and going nuts. Lets see if we can keep the choko cycle going 🙂

Serendipity Farm has been home to 3 “families”. None of them has had children living with them. The first family was an elderly couple who bought the land from their friends (Glad and her deceased husband Ted) and who lived in a caravan in the shed until the house was built. They are the creators of the gardens here and apparently the gardens were something to see back when they owned the place. The husband sadly died a month after the house was built but Ida lived here for many years and it was her love of interesting plants that forged the remnants of garden that Steve and I spend our days trying to find. Next came my father and his partner Val. They fell in love with the property and bought it from Ida and promptly realised that gardening was NOT their forte. By the time Steve and I inherited Serendipity Farm, the once delightful terraced gardens were jungles of overgrown struggling survivors and adventitious weeds.

DSCF2505

In my last post I talked about dehydrating kefir grains. I have way too many to keep using and don’t want to euthanise them so I decided to dry them (according to Dom’s instructions here… http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/sharing-kefir-grains.htm ) and I just wanted to show you how my experiment went. Wendy, you will get your grains soon. We went to Beaconsfield yesterday with the duel purpose to post your grains and return my library books but in the rush to get out of the door I completely forgot to bring the grains! The very next time we are someplace with a post office we will post your grains 🙂

DSCF2509

The image above and this image show what the excess grains looked like after washing them carefully in rainwater (I actually HAD rainwater… “Squee!” 😉 ). I decided to put a bit of baking paper onto the mesh screen from my dehydrator as the grains were still wet and dripping. In the end I didn’t even use my dehydrator I just dried them out on the bread proofing rack above Brunhilda

The property is littered with taps. I have NEVER seen anything like it. Ida must have never wanted to be more than 20 metres away from a tap because for some reason, the entire property has been dug up and black irrigation pipe laid down in the past. The problem is that around about now, that pipe is rapidly starting to degrade. If the pipe had degraded when my well-heeled fathers partner Val was still alive, it might have been replaced but once we penniless student hippies inherited, we suddenly became the keepers of the pipes. Steve has already had to do some serious digging to fix a pipe that decided to explode down in the garden in front of the house. Aside from being somewhat annoying (more so for Steve who actually had to do all of the digging and fixing bit) we were able to fix it quite quickly. The problem comes from the fact that the water mains is right up at the top of the property, up a steep hill and at least an acre and a half away from the house…a heck of a long walk to turn the tap off…then back on…and then off…and then back on again and just that bit too far away for anyone to hear what the other person is yelling to them. It is one of the ONLY times that I am glad we have a mobile phone!

DSCF2516

You can see that the smaller grains have dried out quicker than the bigger grains. As the grains dried out I put them into a small bowl that contains some organic milk powder that I purchased a while ago and keep in the fridge.

DSCF2515

A closer shot to show you how the grains look as they dry out. They get very yellow and start to smell vinegary

DSCF2523

Most of the grains had dried out enough to be put into the milk powder by this stage. Only a few of the larger grains were still slightly soft and needed a bit more dehydrating. You can see how much smaller the grains are now that they have shed their moisture

Today I shovel poo…yesterday Steve had to mend a pipe. We took my overdue library books back to Beaconsfield and we paid out for overpriced plumbing equipment from the local hardware store. We might have paid more than we would have at the large hardware behemoth (my word of the week… you aren’t the only one who has Wednesday words Linnie! 😉 ) Bunning’s that we Aussies are completely and utterly addicted to BUT we supported a small business and while Steve was wandering aimlessly up and down the plumbing resources section with his out-dated tap assembly in hand he met up with 2 plumbers collecting a few doodads and doohickies that they needed for a local job. They noticed his furrowed brow and his damp appearance and decided to help a poor (obviously clueless) hippy. After asking Steve what he was after they quickly ascertained what he needed with a few questions and set about assembling the puzzle of components that Steve needed for his job. Within 5 minutes the 2 of them did what would have taken Steve about 30 minutes of frustration to do and he is eternally grateful to them. That small section of tangled pipes and brass and pressure valves is now safe and updated but there are thousands of metres of aging pipe that still remain and we are afraid…we are VERY afraid…

DSCF2529

Here’s the finished kefir grains in stasis in their milk powder. Wendy will get most of these and if anyone else is curious about kefir or would like to try some please let me know. From now on my excess grains will be “free to a good home” anywhere in the world 🙂

DSCF2544

This last photo for my post is to show you my 5kg sack of “juicing apples”. Can you see anything wrong with them? Neither can I! I have eaten quite a few already and still nothing to show me why they were separated for different treatment aside from them being somewhat smaller than what you would expect. For $5 for 5kg I will take small thankyou! You can also see the kefir grains and my enormous glass jar that I was given by a previous employer along with many more. I worked in a deli and they got lots of huge glass jars containing antipasto ingredients and didn’t want them. I got a lot of lovely big jars and still have some to this day. I can’t remember what was in this jar but pretty soon it will be full to the brim with 2 enormous cabbages and 1.5kg of shredded carrots worth of kimchi. The folded blanket to the rear was a gift from my wonderful daughters. I wrap it around me every morning while I am waiting for Brunhilda to heat up the kitchen after her overnight slumber. It is MOST appreciated and Bezial says that if I put it down anywhere lower than the table he is going to steal it 😉

Bezial just got up and decided to take advantage of his sofa in the prime position right next to Brunhilda. Her balmy warmth is his until Earl decides to brave the day and shoves him from his lofty position. Today I shovel poo and I make kimchi in a huge jar that I forgot I owned till I went hunting in the empty granny flat behind our daughters home that is littered with leftover “stuff” from our moving here and our emptying out dads “stuff”. I carried the jar reverently home and pulled my precious cup of remaining kimchi out of the fridge ready to inoculate my new batch. I have to chop up 2 large cabbages, about 1 ½ kilos of carrots need to be shredded and a whole lot of garlic needs to be crushed to be added with lots of chilli and ginger to form the basis for what is going to ferment and bubble away in Steve’s shed for the next few months. Steve won’t let me keep my kimchi in the house after I added sea vegetables (for added nutrition) to my first batch and it smelled like a dead fish on a hot tin roof. Sadly it will fester away in the shed but I am happy in the knowledge that no matter where it rests, it will do its thing and I will someday take my place in the process and reap the benefits of being part of another small cycle of life. See you all Saturday when that pile of hard work will be merely a muscle memory and where my kimchi will already be starting to “BLOOP” its first fermented sea scented burps of life…aren’t cycles wonderful? :o)

Finally here is Steve’s latest animation complete with sound. We have certainly come a long way with Flash ;). Hopefully you can all see this, Steve is rightfully very proud of his little project 🙂

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocA6y8O3Dlg&feature=youtu.be

 

A Serendipitous Stromboli for The May 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck

vvpLOGO

DSCF0896cropped

I hope you enjoyed your flight over from Colorado in the U.S. where you just explored Reia’s wonderful culinary creation at The Cruelty Free Review to Sidmouth Tasmania. I guess you are all starting to know how Santa Claus feels on December 25th 😉

Welcome to Serendipity Farm for the May 2013 round of The Virtual Vegan Potluck. This is my very first time as a participant but I have avidly followed the previous 2 events and found a lot of amazing new vegan food blogs to tuck into my overstuffed RSS Feed Reader. If you want to check out a list of all of the participants in one fell swoop you can click here. Otherwise you can start off hungry and end up stuffed like Mr Creosote from the Monty Python movie “The Meaning of Life”. The trick is to eat slowly folks and not get overwhelmed or the fate of Mr Creosote might be inevitable with 169 fantabulous recipes for you to try. As this potluck is going to have you zipping from one side of the world to the other in a dizzying race to the finish line I figure we can all indulge freely…how many calories does it expend to race from one side of the earth to the other? Quite a few methinks and we are running this marathon all night folks!

DSCF7126

Here on Serendipity Farm we do things old school. Not because we shun the amazing plethora of vegan short-cuts that are available, but simply because as penniless student hippies living in Tasmania who are trying to live as sustainable a life as possible we choose to try to grow or make our own before we turn to the supermarket shelves. Secondly, most of the amazing vegan items that are simple shelf selections for the rest of the world just aren’t available here in Tasmania. I shop at our local Chinese, Korean and Indian stores to get my “interesting” ingredients and everything else we grow or we create ourselves from scratch.

DSCF0775

DSCF7142

My recipe for the potluck is a conglomeration of several other recipes. Some I borrowed and adapted and some I invented. The mushrooms, tomatoes (Fresh, sun-dried and dried and powdered), jalapeno’s, spinach and walnuts used in this recipe were all grown on Serendipity Farm. I wanted to show you all that even if you can’t get vegan convenience food or takeaway where you live, you can make something just as satisfying and delicious with a bit of planning and thought. My Stromboli came about because Steve was watching “Man vs. Food” one night, that horrific show where one man attempts to eat his way through the American fascination with everything HUGE and comes out the other side with a t-shirt and a case of indigestion that would haunt him for a week. Neither of us had ever heard of a Stromboli but I am game when it comes to invention and invent I did! I hope you all enjoy the results. Steve did and as a picky Omni who doesn’t like kalamata olives at ALL he managed to polish off this entire enormous Stromboli in 2 settings. What better praise could a vegan want?

20626_4406679479230_281891643_n

Without further ado, here is the recipe…

Serendipity Farm Stromboli

DSCF0893

Stromboli dough ingredients: –

Adapted from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/399/calzones with my own personal touch…

8g of instant dried yeast

1/2 tsp. ground Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp. caster sugar

3/4 cup warm water

2 cups plain (all purpose) flour

2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. Italian dried mixed herbs

1/2 cup of home dried tomatoes ground into a fine powder in a coffee grinder

1 tsp. dried chilli flakes or more to taste

Filling Ingredients: –

1 batch of tomato and walnut pesto (see recipe below)

½ batch of Vegan Colby Cheeze (see recipe below)

2 medium sized ripe tomatoes sliced

1 medium onion sliced very thinly

Approximately 250g (just on 9oz) of button or field mushrooms thinly sliced

1 bunch of fresh spinach shredded

½ cup Kalamata olives, seeded and cut in halves or sliced

A little olive oil for frying the mushrooms and sautéing the spinach

Fresh ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Method:-

1. Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a jug and stir with a fork. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place for about 5 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface.

2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the dried tomato powder, the mixed herbs and the chilli flakes evenly.

DSCF0797

DSCF0789

3. Add the yeast mix and 2 tbsp. of oil. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for 15 – 20 mins or until doubled in size.

DSCF0804

DSCF0807

4. Preheat the oven to 220C (428F). Line a flat biscuit (cookie) tray with baking paper. Aside from preventing the Stromboli from sticking to the tray you can use it to guide you when you are forming the Stromboli.

5. While the dough is rising prepare the filling ingredients

6. Finely shred the spinach, slice the mushrooms, tomatoes and Kalamata olives and very thinly slice the onions.

DSCF0828

DSCF0832

7. Gently fry the mushrooms in a little oil to remove some of the moisture to ensure they don’t make the Stromboli dough wet.

8. Flash fry the spinach in a little oil till just wilted

9. Shred the vegan Colby cheeze

DSCF0836

10. Assemble all of your filling ingredients together on a plate, not forgetting the pesto, ready to layer on the dough when it is ready

DSCF0847

11. Once the dough has risen, punch it with your fist. Knead it gently on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be quite soft and easy to work. Press the dough out to a 30cm x 35cm (11 x 14 inches) rectangle and try to ensure that the sides of the rectangle are reasonably straight. This will make it easier to roll the dough around the filling.

DSCF0856

12.  Spread the pesto over the rectangle leaving a 5cm (2 inch) border all around the outside of the rectangle. Top with the spinach, tomato slices, onion slices, fried mushrooms, olives and lastly the vegan Colby cheeze shreds.

DSCF0861

DSCF0862

DSCF0863

DSCF0864

DSCF0865

DSCF0866

DSCF0867

13. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper

14. Starting with one of the longer (35cm/14 inch) sides of the rectangle and using the baking paper as a guide, roll the Stromboli up like a sushi roll. The dough will probably stick a bit to the baking paper so do this slowly and tease the dough from the paper as you go. When you get to the end of the roll, press the sides and ends of the dough together. The dough should be soft enough to meld together. Once you have pinched the dough shut and using the baking paper as a guide roll the Stromboli back onto the sealed edge.

DSCF0869

DSCF0871

15. Using a bread knife or other serrated knife, make slices 2 ½cm (1 inch) apart along the length of the Stromboli, ensuring that you only cut down halfway through the roll.

DSCF0875

16. When you reach the end of the roll put it into the preheated oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown

DSCF0883

17. Remove from the oven when done and allow the Stromboli to cool for about 5 minutes and then slice into pieces and serve with salad or on its own.

DSCF0892

18. ENJOY! 🙂

Sundried tomato and walnut pesto

DSCF0762

Note: – you will need a full batch of pesto for the Stromboli

Ingredients: –

DSCF0764

1 cup of walnuts

1 cup of Sundried tomatoes preserved in oil patted dry on paper towel

1 tsp. dried Italian mixed herbs

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp. chilli flakes finely ground

1 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

2 tbsp. Chili Bamboo Shoots a wonderful Chinese product that adds a lovely cheesy taste to this pesto

DSCF0756

Method: –

Put everything into a food processor and whizz until the pesto reaches a consistency that you like. It’s nice smooth or chunky. For this recipe I used it chunky to give added texture to the Stromboli. Note: – if you can’t find the chili bamboo shoots just omit them. They add flavour but the cheezy flavour can be somewhat replicated by using 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes (nooch). If you like your pesto a little looser you can add a little olive oil to the mix.

DSCF0770

The only vegan “cheeze” available in our local Tasmanian supermarkets is plain nasty. Its soy cheeze and looks like soap. It kind of tastes like soap as well…I only ever tried it once before wondering at the desperation of the masses purchasing this more than once and keeping it on the shelves. We might be penniless student hippies but we never compromise on taste. If we can’t buy it better, we make it better! I turned to my trusty old agar stained copy of “The Uncheese Cookbook”. I imported this book from the U.S. and after making most of the uncheeses contained within its hallowed pages, Steve and I ended up loving this version of Colby Cheeze.  The only additions that I make is to add 2 tsp. of miso and swap the mustard powder out and add yellow American style mustard to add colour and just the right flavour.

Colby Cheeze

DSCF0734

Adapted from “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” by Joanne Stepaniak

DSCF0608

Ingredients: –

1-1/2 cups water

5 tbsp. agar flakes, or 1-1/2 tbsp. agar powder (I used powder)

1/2 cup roasted red capsicum (peppers) skin and seeds removed, or pimento pieces

1/2 cup raw cashews or skinless Brazil nuts (I used cashew pieces)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I used bottled as we didn’t have any lemons)

2 tbsp. tahini (I made my own using this recipe http://vedgedout.com/2013/01/02/toasted-sesame-tahini-pictorial/ )

2 tsp. onion powder (I made this using dehydrated onion flakes in my repurposed electric coffee grinder)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder (again, made from garlic granules in my repurposed electric coffee grinder)

DSCF0610

DSCF0614

1 tsp. salt (I use ground pink Himalayan salt)

1/4 tsp. mustard powder (I subbed 2 tbsp. of prepared yellow American style mustard for flavour and colour)

I add in 2 tsp. of Hikari white miso paste to add an umami cheesy flavour to my uncheeze but feel free to skip this ingredient if you don’t have it, it isn’t in the original recipe.

Method: –

  1. Lightly oil a 3-cup plastic storage container and set aside. I used a small metal rectangular muffin pan and a small round ceramic bowl.
  2.  Combine the water and agar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until dissolved, about 5 to 10 minutes.

DSCF0619

DSCF0624

  1. Transfer to a blender and add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Process several minutes until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender jar as necessary. I use a Vitamix to do this to ensure my mix is completely smooth
  3. Pour into the prepared container and cool uncovered in the refrigerator. NOTE: – I find that this cheeze sets almost as soon as it is made so make sure that you pour it out of your mixer into your moulds as soon as the mix becomes smooth
  4. When completely cool, cover and chill several hours or overnight. As I mentioned above, don’t hang around once your mix becomes smooth in your blender or your uncheeze may set in the container. This has happened to me on more than once occasion so take note!

DSCF0628

  1. To serve, turn out of the container and slice. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Will keep 5 to 7 days.
  2. This cheeze can be grated easily and will soften nicely when used in hot dishes

DSCF0625

Variations: – In place of the red peppers, use 1/2 cup cooked chopped carrots, 2 to 3 teaspoons paprika, or 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste. For Chedda Cheeze add 2 tablespoons light or chickpea miso prior to blending. For Olive Cheeze replace dry mustard with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. After blending, stir in 3/4 cup chopped black olives or sliced pimento-stuffed green olives.

I managed to find a YouTube video of how to make this cheeze and it looks like Jack Black beat me to it! 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3FYduSF-dw

So there you have it folks. Hopefully you will enjoy our Stromboli creation and will be fortified enough for the long haul flight over to the next blog in Canada, the amazingly delectable Mermaid Café where your chef for tonight will be the lovely Mira. “Please ensure that your carry-on baggage is stowed safely in the luggage compartments above your head and enjoy your flight…”

go_bck-300x257       go_forward-300x243

When chaos comes to town

Hi All,

It all started with one small Camellia sinensis and a chance chat with fellow blogger Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid Little Hippy”. If you are a horticulturalist or, indeed, a gardener, you have a pretty good idea what a Camellia sinensis is. If you are someone who could care less about gardening you may not be aware that this humble little shrub is the stuff that wars are made of. Camellia sinensis is the starting point for the elixir of life…tea. I drink several cups in the morning. I have been drinking tea since my tea drinking grandmother introduced me to it when I was 2. It is a tradition that has been passed down through the ages and that my sister and I are wholeheartedly addicted to and woe betides ANYONE that comes between us and our first cup of tea in the morning. It is our wake-up ritual and our collective sigh of acquiescence to our early rising habits (hers natural, mine entirely artificial 😉 ). A good half of the world wakes up to it each day and uses this humble brew to ignite their wavering brain cells to greatness. I would like to think that Mr Leonardo Da Vinci was fond of a cup or two…perhaps Mr Einstein? Even Mr George Bernard Shaw was most probably prone to a sip or two before he launched into the mental minefield that elevated him to his own personal form of greatness. Life without tea is unthinkable…as Fezzik from the wonderful movie “The Princess Bride” would say …life without tea is “Inconceivable”…but is it?

Sketti Doritos

Remember Steve’s “Sketti” meal from the last post? 😉

Tamar NRM Bush Tucker Gardening Workshop

I just signed up with Jenny (how relieved am I that I no longer have to say “friend in the witness protection!” to attend this Tamar NRM workshop and will make sure to take lots of photos and to post all about it for you all

DSCF1153

Don’t you love natures way of dealing with aphids? Let something else make a meal of it…cycles and circles

We have all heard of the principal of “Peak Oil” and whether we choose to deny its existence or not, if the oil companies are buying up patents for any kind of clean energy producing systems as fast as they are being invented, this little black duck has stepped on over into the “believer” camp. What IS Peak Oil? In a nutshell…it is the opinion that we are well past our due date for using up our available reserves of oil on this planet. Oil makes the world run. We are so used to its black liquidity greasing our economic system that the mere thought of it not being available is the cause of most of our modern day wars. What happens when the oil runs out? Most of the processes that keep society running will cease folks. Peak Oil has spawned a massive market in prepping. There are people all over the world digging shelters, hoarding and there are vultures sitting on the fringes making money hand over fist out of people’s terror. I choose not to weigh into that fear here on this blog, needless to say there is a LOT of fear and it is spawning an industry.

DSCF1154

Gardening smart involves finding what is going to do best in your conditions and planting within those parameters. Rhododendron’s might be pretty, but they are some of the hardiest shrubs around and can take a long dry summer where some of our conifers died. Do your homework and you can have a lovely garden that is completely functional within Permaculture parameters 🙂

DSCF1149

Using plants that are native to your country as well as to your local region will give them the best chance to grow successfully in challenging conditions.

DSCF1142

There is always room for “pretty” things especially when they attract bees and butterflies and other pollinators

I choose to be positive about the inevitability of Peak Oil. Yes we will be without the ability to head down to our local fast food franchise and buy ourselves a burger and fries. Our ability to produce food in massive factories is going to stop. Where we now put our food production into other people’s hands, we are going to have to think about where our food comes from. Is this a bad thing? I choose not to think so. I turn 50 this year. I remember life (last century 😉 ) when there were no supermarkets. I remember corner shops and butchers and bakers and small hardware shops and I remember towns being important. I remember that most people had a job and Peak Oil might just return us to full employment. No fast food = a chance to get our health back on track. To get a burger is going to cost more in time and effort and is going to involve taking back those extraneous processes and doing some of them ourselves.

DSCF1139

Shrubs with hairy and thin leaves are better acclimatised to survival in dry conditions and we get 4 months of extremely dry weather over our summer so this exotic plant is perfect for our conditions.

DSCF1157

“Weeds” are just useful plants growing in the wrong place folks! These dandelions might be taking advantage of Earl’s free nitrogenous injections but the roots will be perfect for making a coffee substitute and should we ever be able to wean Earl of his desire to “decorate” them on a regular basis, the leaves are very nutritious and wine can be made from the flowers

DSCF1151

This Liquidambar styracaflua might have pretty leaves but its common name sheds more light on how useful this attractive deciduous tree might be. They are called Sweet Gums and like Maples, their sap can be used to produce a natural sweetener

Humanity has specialised itself out the wazoo. There are people employed to answer telephones. Their whole life revolves around moving voices from one place to another. Peak Oil may just restore some reality about the processes of life that are truly important. What about that little Camellia sinensis? Well this little black duck doesn’t want to give up tea any day soon. Tea is a product that tends to be made in foreign parts. It IS produced in Australia but there isn’t a lot of it and when Peak Oil strikes, the important economic rule of “Supply and Demand” steps in. With half of Australia’s population drinking tea, the demand is going to be very high and the supply very low. Think “sailing ships” folks… without that black iquor keeping our wheels of trade thrumming under our mental thresholds we are going to have to rely on good old sail power (or at least something green that approximates it) and that takes time. The concept of having to wait is going to be a very hard one for modern society that is used to being delivered what it wants instantly.

DSCF0985_6_7_tonemapped

This has absolutely nothing to do with Peak Oil but isn’t it a pretty picture?

DSCF1109

Preparing the first paddock area for the beginnings of our 14 metre x 12.5m fully enclosed vegetable garden. That’s 4 times bigger than we had this year and I was able to live predominately from our 7 small garden beds this year despite significant possum and wallaby predation. One day the entire first paddock will be enclosed and we will grow a good proportion of the food that we need ourselves

DSCF1110

The sheoak in this picture took it’s revenge on the veggie garden to the left of this shot and dropped it’s canopy right on top of the garden…luckily nothing tall was in the bed and the silverbeet underneath the branches sustained very little damage.

I own a single tiny Camellia sinensis. I have plans for that little Camellia sinensis. They involve me taking cuttings and growing more. I plan on having my own little mini tea plantation on Serendipity Farm. I have saved articles about how to process tea…which bits to use…how to ferment it to get the best out of it and this little black duck won’t be without her tea come the revolution. I have also tucked away how to make a coffee substitute using acorns or dandelion root. Tasmania is full of oak trees and acorn coffee is something that should be easy to make if the need arises. Aside from a Camellia sinensis I also have a coffee plant. I know that Tasmania isn’t a prime location for this tropical shrub BUT enter my optimism and as the weather situation starts to heat up; this little coffee plant might just feel more at home on Serendipity Farm. For now it lives in the glasshouse but who knows…

DSCF1045

This is an Arbutus unedo or Irish Strawberry tree. There are a lot of food producing plants growing locally and the more that we know about them, where they are, what can be done with them and how to prepare their yields for maximum benefit the better off we will be

DSCF1023

This is what the fruit of the Irish Strawberry tree looks like on the shrub. I decided that it was wasteful to leave this fruit to rot on the ground and so I harvested some

DSCF1050

After collecting some of the fruit I chose some to dry out to attempt to harvest the seed and grow some more Arbutus because this particular tree produces very tasty fruit which isn’t always the case.

I took Earl for an afternoon walk the other day. He was twitchy and I was up for an additional walk. Sidmouth in autumn is a lovely place to be. As I waited for Earl to sniff and urinate his way along Auld Kirk Road, I ruminated about my little Camellia sinensis and the value of at least knowing how to do things for yourself. I am a vegan. I don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs. I don’t eat honey but that’s not because I am vegan, it’s because honey is a prohibitive price and I prefer to make my own date paste as a sweetener. As I dragged along behind Earl acting as ballast I realised that “come the revolution” we horticulturalists have a prime roll to play. When humanities “needs” come to the fore after oil ceases to flow, food is going to become something that we all have to think about. Steve and I are in the process of building a very large fully enclosed vegetable garden. Today we will be collecting some of what we need to build it over the next few weeks. It’s the beginning of several interconnected large fully enclosed areas that we are going to build to produce as much of our own and our daughter’s vegetables and other crops as we can. If Stewart and Kelsey move here, we can produce food for them as well. Food will go from being something that is artificially kept at low prices by government subsidies to its rightful place as one of our primary needs. As a vegan it should be easier for me to adapt to life after Peak Oil

DSCF1054

Preparing the fruit to be washed ready to turn into jam

DSCF1064

Good stainless steel non reactive saucepans and stockpots are a very wise investment as they last a long time if cared for and don’t leach anything into what you are cooking

DSCF1067

Mum gave me these when she visited last Christmas. It’s a small jar of cumquats preserved in brandy syrup from her own small cumquat tree. Preserving fruit like this is one way to extend the harvest of fruit and to make it available long after it’s season is over. I decided to use these “mumquats” to add a bit of bulk to my jam

I say “easier” because I don’t need milk from a cow to put into my beverage of choice. I don’t need eggs from a chicken (thank goodness because our girls are skating on thin ice regarding egg production at the moment) to make my cakes and I don’t need any form of animal flesh to grace the centre of my dinner plate. I am not prothletising here folks, I am just stating fact. “Come the Revolution” this little black duck is perfectly happy to live on vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes. That brings us to the point and we have to ask ourselves “how much food do we need?” You only really start to realise how tenuous our food security is when you start to work out the true cost of the food that we consume.

DSCF1072

I processed the cumquats to add flavour and nutrients to my jam

DSCF1081

After cooking for 10 minutes the jam/cumquat mix had to be sieved to remove the small woody seeds and tough skin of the Arbutus

DSCF1086

after straining the mix the resulting smooth pulp was put back into the stainless steel pan and the brandy syrup was added and a little sugar

That burger, fries and coke that cost us under $5 at our local fast-food restaurant costs a whole lot more to replicate at home. If you don’t believe me…try it. After you head to the supermarket and pick up the ground meat, the burger buns, the bag of salad, the tomatoes, the jar of pickles, the container of sauce, the container of mustard, the breadcrumbs for the burger, the egg to hold the burger together and you factor in the electricity cost to cook the burger, the frypan you need to cook the burger and your own time to make the burger (and that’s JUST the burger folks…don’t forget the fries and the coke…) you can start to see just how unrealistic our food costs actually are. Why is it so cheap? Because most of what is going on behind the scenes involves mass production, cost cutting and government subsidisation to keep the prices artificially low. We need Calories, calcium, protein and replacements for dairy (think spreads and oils and avocados and nuts), starches (chestnuts, potatoes and acorns) and we need to think further afield for how to process these things to get the food on our tables that we need to survive. We don’t need “fast” we need reliable.

DSCF1091

This is what the puree looked like after the brandy syrup and sugar had been added and it had been simmered for a further 10 minutes

DSCF1102

Here’s the finished batch in a sterilised jar. It didn’t quite fill the jar so we are keeping it in the fridge. The results are very fruity and a good way to use up fruit that might not initially be considered “edible”

DSCF1161

Please ignore the flour coated shirt, the bright red track pants and the terrible split ends and completely unbrushed hair…Steve wanted me to include this candid shot as he said I was the most animated “spoon rest” that he had ever seen 😉

As I said earlier in this post. I am NOT here to scare people. I want to show that we CAN produce our own food and we can do it well and for the most part, Peak Oil might just be the making of us. At the moment we think of the “Individual” we think of ourselves as solitary units but back before the Industrial Revolution where all of this oily stuff started to be used to form international networks of greed, society consisted of small communities that fed large cities. The size of these communities was limited by their ability to produce humanities needs and most of what this society needed was produced by their own hard work. Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and farmers were all important. Corner shops (think Arkwright’s shop in “Open All Hours”) were the hub of a small town and everyone in that small community worked together to keep it going. Community is going to become MUCH more important after Peak Oil. Do you know you neighbour? What does your neighbour do for a living? I think Frank was a tugboat driver…Adrianne his wife is a registered nurse, Noel, behind Frank, is a retired Quanta’s pilot and Glad on the other side is pure Chutzpah on a stick. After Peak Oil, what you can actually “DO” is going to become more important. What you “Know” is also going to become important. Why do I want physical books instead of downloading them from some remote “cloud”? Because I like to keep my information close at hand and would rather know that I can physically pick it up and flick to a page to isolate said information rather than having to rely on a tenuous system of delivery that might simply disappear at any given time.

DSCF1106

Making meat stretch further is the name of the game as it keeps getting more and more expensive. I am vegan but Steve is Omni and last nights tea was conjured up from Steve’s school childhood. He decided that he wanted a “Mince Cobbler” for his tea. Not entirely sure what it was but it figured in school lunches and he had fond memories of it so we set about recreating a childhood memory…

DSCF1131

After cooking the minced beef with veggies to extend the meat it was thickened and a spicy scone topping was made to soak up the gravy and to further extend the meat proportion of the meal whilst adding filling carbohydrates and making this a one pot meal.

DSCF1137

After removing the mince cobbler from the oven it was apparently a great version of what Steve remembered and was very tasty to boot.

I have been collecting recipes and food production processes for more years than I care to admit here. My children could all tell you about me scribbling down recipes from library books, pulling out pages from magazines etc. and I have ring bound files in our spare room full of recipes. I love processes. I love to know how they work. I used to think that I was just a bit of a nosy little black duck but now I think it goes deeper than that. I know how to make non-dairy spreads for my home-made bread that are healthy and that approximate butter. I know how to turn beetroot into a sticky sweetener that for the want of a better word we shall call “molasses”…you can do this with any sweet vegetable and if granulated sugar suddenly disappears from our shelves we need to know how to approximate sweetness ourselves. I know how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables to extend the harvest and I know how to do it without electricity. I am growing date palms, fruit and nut trees and various perennial food producing plants and am in the process of planting them out with the eventual hope of creating a food forest that covers the 4 acres that encompass Serendipity Farm.

DSCF1159

One way to make your food budget go further is to make as much of your own food from scratch as you can. You can customise what you cook to your families tastes and you can eat better for less. I choose to use butter to make Steve’s shortbread because I think it is healthier than other alternatives

DSCF1163

Frugal recipes using dried fruit as sweeteners are great ways to add little luxuries to your menu and this recipe came from an old Country Women’s Association cookbook from 1954 where frugality was a lot more important than it is today

DSCF1169

Baking many items to use the heat of your oven more efficiently can save a fair bit on heating and cooking costs

I know how to grow and prepare most of the calories, sweeteners, protein etc. that we need without having to resort to raiding the farmer’s paddocks at night by using legumes, nuts and grains that we can grow here BUT can I grow enough food for our needs? That’s where community comes in. “I” might not be able to grow every single thing that we need but if you spread the food production around a community, the problem starts to ease. Specialisation isn’t a bad thing and we all have abilities that lend themselves to different things. What I am trying to say here is that we CAN do this. We just need to be educating ourselves about the pro’s the con’s the whys and the wherefores. With a few chooks, a small dinghy, a well-planned garden and a well thought out food forest we can produce almost all we need here. We can add various natural systems and cycles to make Serendipity Farm pretty self-sufficient and we are in the processes of integrating these cycles. Composting, worm farming, water harvesting, vegetable gardening, protecting our orchard, planting our own food, integrating all of our systems to maximise potential and minimise hard graft…all possible using permaculture and our horticultural knowledge but most importantly, using what we are learning to give us back hope and choice

DSCF1170

I used some home made coconut flour in these Monte Carlo biscuits to use up something that was a by-product of making non dairy milk. Using as much of your food as you can reduces food waste. What can’t be used by us goes to the chooks…what they can’t eat gets returned to the soil via the compost heap and its wormy and micro-beast inhabitants

DSCF1178

Baking on a Saturday allows me to take note of what I need to be purchased on Monday’s shopping list

DSCF1182

I used some of Christi’s amazing home made jam and some homemade vanilla buttercream to sandwich the coconutty biscuits to form classic Monte Carlos

I would like to thank Jessie for putting this tiny seed into my mind. Up till now I have been pushing “Peak Oil” into the too hard basket in my mind. I have been skirting around the outside of this issue. I know it is coming, I just chose to avoid it whilst increasing my knowledge base as much as I can. Steve and I have learned to be problem solvers. If you are an aging penniless student hippy who lives on 4 acres 50km away from the nearest city you HAVE to learn to solve your own problems. I choose to see the problem of Peak Oil as just that…a problem to be solved. I can’t see the point of running around panicking or hiding under the bed or putting your fingers in your ears and yelling “IM NOT LISTENING” as loud as you can to try to drown out the inevitability. In my mind it’s something that is just going to “happen” like birth, death and taxes…it’s there folks and we just need to start thinking about how we can shore ourselves and our communities up against the worst effects of it. We humans are incredibly resilient. We have been able to circumnavigate the earth; we have been able to tunnel, to elevate, to be incredibly inventive and to increase exponentially to our own detriment. Peak Oil might just be our saving grace and is the equivalent of a set of reigns pulling in the cart horses before they run headfirst over a cliff…dare I say it…humanity might just NEED Peak Oil.

DSCF11951

Steve using a romantic fuzzy halo around his Monte Carlos

DSCF1191

You CAN have your cake and eat it too, you just have to plan, to educate yourself, to learn how to do things for yourself and develop problem solving skills folks… Monte Carlo’s are the result of planning, organisation and processes

Well here we are at the end of the story folks. Nowhere near as entertaining as The Princess Bride. If you haven’t watched The Princess Bride go and watch it or forever know that you missed something special in your life. Wednesday’s post won’t probably contain anything at all about Peak Oil. This is my reckoning, right here. This is where narf7 tells it like it is and after this, it’s all how to get around this massive global problem…it’s all water tanks and Brunhilda and building gardens and shoring up futures and positive hope and how to and D.I.Y. because THAT’S where the future lies…in educating ourselves and learning and finding ways to do what we need for ourselves and in being optimistic that the collective process of man are SO much more than the collective processes that we actually need. Have a great weekend and know that our Peak Oil future really is in the hands of the individual :o)

When soybean met date…”I want what they are having!”

Hi All,

I have been making my own homemade soymilk for a few weeks now as an alternative to the carton stuff that I had been using. Soymilk is a dirty word these days and aside from my early morning cuppa I don’t use it. I had been drinking the Coles brand for a few weeks (Steve does the shopping and it’s only $1 a carton 😉 ) till something made me take a look at the carton more closely and I realised that the magic words “Non G.M.” were most suspiciously missing on my carton! That’s often more telling folks and this little black duck isn’t going to be drinking soymilk made somewhere else using genetically modified mutagenistic materials! No sir! So what’s a girl to do? I didn’t want to start buying the more expensive cartons because 1. They are more expensive (duh!) and 2. I can make it myself…and 3. I actually own an incredibly underused soy milk making machine that I can and should be using. 3 strikes and I am out! I asked Steve to pick me up some organic Aussie soybeans from David, our local Health Food shop maestro and my new cycle began. I say “cycle” because I never really understood the true cost of my early morning splash of soy milk before. When you make it, you suddenly realise that it’s not instant folks! I soak my beans overnight. They really do need to be soaked for at least 12 hours to loosen the skins…why care if the skins are loosened? That’s another 1; 2 folks…1. Because the skins clog up the machine, make the milk über frothy and very hard to clean and 2 (most importantly) if you skin the beans (yes…hand skin…) the resulting soymilk is actually drinkable…even tasty! As with everything that I do, I like to refine the processes. If you are going to keep doing something, it has to fit in with your ethos and your life and thus the refinement process began…

DSCF0447

2 homemade Cornish pasties with butter shortcrust and homemade oven wedges

521721_540741029311339_1179342727_n

Any of you craft mamma’s out there want to give me ANY idea how I could make something like these?!!!

DSCF0492

The closest I got to actually documenting the soymilk making process today. Sloth overtook me and I spent the day researching all kinds of fermented goodies recipes…I have to skin all of these babies before I can turn them into soymilk so you can see the process in Wednesdays email 🙂

Soak the soybeans overnight (first REMEMBER to soak the soybeans overnight…black tea tastes hideous!)…next skin the beans. Find a way to make skinning the beans enjoyable as it’s going to take you the better part of a hour to do it and you will resemble Rumplestiltskin with a hump by the time you have finished if you stupidly decide to do it at the kitchen sink… I choose to sit on the deck dangling my feet alternating looking at the view, dropping the soybean skins to the ground below where the feral kittens toss them about and the feral chooks eat the beans that I accidentally throw over the edge (whilst tossing the skins into my newly popped pile…sigh…). I usually end up with Steve and the dogs as my companions and when I finish I head inside to the awaiting machine…toss the skun beans into the basket of the machine (obviously I am going to have to take some photos of it now…note to self…”TAKE SOME PHOTOS!”), wrangle it all together (like every other electrical machine that I own it has a personality and not a good one :o( ) and plug it in, press the start button and wait for it to do it’s “thang”. After it beeps at you an inordinately long amount head back from the furthest reaches of Serendipity Farm where you OBVIOUSLY have to be and start the next part of the equation…making it taste good. As I mentioned, if you remove the skins you are most of the way to getting something approximating shop bought carton milk. Unlike shop bought carton milk, homemade soymilk hasn’t got all the fillers, the oil, the sugar and the thickeners etc. that shop bought milk has. You get to customise it out the wazoo and that’s what makes this little black duck’s heart sing! I don’t use sugar any more. I gave it up back in January when I started my green smoothie challenge (another moment when I was just going along for the ride and ended up predominately changing my life…) and I have no intentions of starting it again just to make soymilk palatable.

DSCF0494

I got this sturdy cast iron fire set at the local tip shop for $1. All it needs is a bit of rust removal and rust protector and it will be as good as new… does ANYONE know what those weird extending tongs are?! You usually get a fire poker with these sort of sets but I had to have these because of that extendable set of pinchers 😉

DSCF0482

This wonderful cast iron pan cost me $1 at the Exeter tip shop as well. It was a bit rusty but here it is after Steve, the maestro rust remover and pan seasoner has worked his magic on it. I LOVE tip shop bargains ;). As you can see by the silicone oven mitt, this pan is smoking baby!

DSCF0478

I have a newfound desire to start cooking recipes from some of these wonderful books…watch this space…

Cow’s milk naturally tastes somewhat sweet and as someone who needs her early morning mug (bucket) of tea, not wants folks…NEEDS…to function through her day, I wanted to approximate the mouth feel and level of sweetness that cow’s milk delivers. I decided to use my newfound sweetener of choice. I made up some date paste. I make it in my Vitamix and use some of the date soaking water to process the mix. When I finish scraping out the resulting smooth paste, I throw in the rest of the soaking water (sweet in its own right) and whizz up the dregs of the paste to make date syrup that I use in my morning smoothies…no waste here on Serendipity Farm! I add 3 heaped tablespoons of date paste to the hot soymilk and half a teaspoon of fine crushed (in my mortar and pestle) sea salt and voila…I have a really tasty soymilk minus the gums, thickeners and weird sugar approximations. I love it, and Kid Creole’s babies apparently love it to! I used some to attempt to make soymilk kefir. I thought it was a complete flop as I tasted it while I was separating the grains from the resulting mass (couldn’t technically call it “kefir” 😉 ) and at best it could have been considered thin, lumpy soy vinegar but I underestimated the power of the date, and the kefir (that I poured into a 2 litre container after 2 days of making it and promptly “forgodaboudit”) kept doing its “thang”…I noticed it in the fridge door and thought “best taste it before I throw it out”…and it had transformed! It was fizzy, lightly sweet, clean tasting and sort of alcoholic! I put this down to the inclusion of the dates as apparently you can culture kefir twice. Once in its milk and then with added fruit. I am well on my way to making something that I can use neat in my morning green smoothies to give added probiotics and to take out the frowned on soy molecules and make them acceptable (fermented). “WOOT!” Another job done and dusted…”NEXT!” 😉

DSCF0452

The “ingredients” for a homemade chalk board…some leftover acrylic paint…some leftover tile grout, a paintbrush and something to paint

DSCF0453

Everything that I just said above…but closer! 😉

DSCF0457

The recipe calls for half a cup of paint…Steve calls for autonomy of his processes and the right to remain free to choose how much paint he is going to use and just “bungs” some into a glass…sigh…

Why all of a sudden has Serendipity Farm been littered with posts and pictures about food? The weather is starting to turn the thermostat down and we are having blissful low 20C days and cooler mornings and nights. As a newfound convert to early mornings I am starting to have to wear jumpers again and I love it! With the newfound arrival of autumn, it seems my desire to cook has ramped up. It’s like bulbs sprouting in the spring, bring on colder weather and my cooking genes ignite. As most of you know, I am a vegan. I have been vegan for about 17 years now and I follow a lot of amazing vegan blogs. I consider these wonderfully innovative people to be like rock stars and last year I discovered an event that handed me a whole lot more amazingness to cram into my RSS Feed Reader called “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. I had never heard of a “Blog Hop” before. It is where a group of people get together and decide to post on a similar theme and link to each other. There are lots of small blog hops online that range from once a week to a few times a year and The Virtual Vegan Potluck is a biannual event (cheers for clearing that up for me Google or I may just have inadvertently made it once every 2 years in my ignorance 😉 ). It sees some of the most amazing vegan food bloggers coming together to create a monumental homage to vegan food gorgeousness. All kinds of people post recipes because the only stipulation to join in on the blog hop is to post a completely vegan recipe. There are vegetarians and Omni’s (that’s you “normal” omnivorous people shortened to make you as cute as we vegans 😉 ) that post and this year I have bowed to pressure and will be joining in myself. It’s a complete departure from normalcy here and for one post I will be part of a united chain of vegan deliciousness that will circumnavigate the globe. Whether you are interested in animal welfare, or just some delicious meat, egg and dairy free grub it’s a great place to check out what vegan food is all about. There are fringe groups that are Gluten Free, Paleo vegan’s and all kinds of strange skewed varieties of vegan but we all unite to agree to disagree to create this incredible ladder of food hope and you are all invited to check out the amazing array when I take part in May. For one day, Serendipity Farm posting will be hijacked and there will be a link to the post before me, and the post after me that if you choose to take a little trot around the world, you might just find some incredible new recipes to tantalise your tastebuds and add something new to your repertoire. Even if you just want the odd vegan recipe in case your crazy sister comes to town (hint hint Pinky 😉 ), you will find something here because everyone pulls all the stops out and delivers their very best. Last year one of the stellar crowd delivered the most amazing vegan cheeze en croute that you could imagine including recipes for the unctuous “cheeze”. All free, all just a linky click away. I have plans this year. As you all know I am OCD when it comes to just about everything and when I channel it, hopefully it can be used for the good of all mankind ;). My entry will be in the Main course section and will showcase our home grown produce and just how frugal deliciousness can be. I hope that you will all head off in random directions and salve your curiosity and discover that vegan is the new mainstream black :o). You never know what deliciousness you will find…

DSCF0460

Measure out your grout…1 tbsp. for 1/2 cup of paint…can anyone tell me why it’s alright to measure grout, but not paint? 😉

DSCF0461

Grout into paint…

DSCF0462

Mix the grout into the paint

My little sister Pinky (Catherine to you 😉 ) has started a new blog. She has just gone part time working as a Laboratory vampire (I will let her explain) and has time to twiddle her thumbs and contemplate her navel now so being the wonderful big sister that I am, I decided to introduce her to the world of blogging. I know that she will end up as addicted as I am to this amazing platform of communication and after feeling her way around the blogosphere, she will find her niche and will slot in nicely. If you would like to check out her blog it’s here…

https://cathyandchucky.wordpress.com

Love you Pinky! :o). It’s been raining steadily here for most of the early morning. Steve is NOT going to be happy! We had plans to collect wood today and I think our sporadic sky precipitation might have just put the kybosh on his plans. I can’t say that I mind. I have always got a backup plan and todays backup plan is lighting Brunhilda, baking some decent sourdough carrot cake (using up some of that milk kefir) and reading a good book. Steve will just have to twitch in the lounge room and watch some of his “stories” ;). A wet and extremely happy Earl just burst through the dog door, flipped himself upside down onto the kitchen rug, ootched along on his back in ecstasy  and is now trotting around in the dark lounge room at 5.41am expecting me to join him in his tomfoolery…”TOO EARLY EARL!”…sigh…the story of my, and his, life ;). Yesterday the dogs got bones from Nigel, our friendly butcher. They got enormous meaty delicious bones and as top dog (in his own private universe) Earl has decided that it is HIS job to patrol the bones. He must get up at regular intervals and stalk around ensuring that nothing has touched his bones. A difficult task when there are lots of feral cats, possums and butcherbirds all concertedly trying to steal them. It’s a tough job but Earl is up for it!

DSCF0465

Steve decided to mask the frame after a “discussion” about what happens when artisan craftsmen “bodge” things and their wives find interesting ways to take revenge…

DSCF0470

Just paint the amended paint onto the surface. It doesn’t need any preparation but if you are using something shiny and metal it might be an idea to lightly sandpaper the surface. Cover the paint glass with some cling wrap to keep it damp in between coats. Note, this coating will dry quite quickly.

Steve donated his shed white board that he never uses to be our new pantry door chalkboard. This time I took some before and after shots to share with you so that you can see how easy it is to make your own chalk paint and save yourself a HUGE amount of money. We didn’t have to pay anything for our chalkboard paint as we have lots of leftover tins of paint. Think about how good you are, recycling paint and grout that you might otherwise have had to toss into landfill? Think about how you don’t need to find scraps of paper to scribble down “must buy turnips” or “must remember to brush hair” or “must eat more fibre”…you mean you DON’T scribble down things like that? If you DO plan your scattered life in a series of mounting scraps of paper (must get myself a spike…the wind is a biotch!), a homemade chalkboard will give you a degree of autonomy that is amazingly satisfying. You can make it any colour you like. You can use any kind of grout you like to make a smooth as silk finish or a nice rough finish that will hold chalk nicely. You can even make your own chalk! I know you can, I researched it :o). I found recipes using plaster of Paris that work amazingly well. I also found a recipe for how to make your own crayons but they are probably not the best medium for writing on chalkboards kiddies! Think of the trees that I am saving! No more scraps of paper telling me to “drink more water”…I can write it on the chalkboard and erase the dust as and when I please. I feel positively cleansed folks! Consider this pictorial tutorial our gift to you trees…aside from trying to plant as many of you as we can in a single given location (NOT IN OUR LIFETIME! 😉 ), we are singlehandedly going to get everyone to stop using paper! Ok, so that might be a bit of a pipe dream, but if every one of us used a little bit less paper we might be able to preserve some of those amazing old forest trees that have been strutting their green stuff for hundreds of years and wouldn’t that be an amazing thing? You can all call me the Narfy Lorax now in unison :o)

Here’s a linky for how to make some chalk (plain or coloured) to go with your chalkboard if you want to make one :o)

http://www.ehow.com/how_6867981_do-chalkboard-chalk-household-ingredients_.html

DSCF0471

After the first coat it will look a bit blotchy but there is enough paint left for a second coat which will render the surface nice and evenly coated

DSCF0475

The painted board in situ on the pantry door where we can now write items we need to put on our shopping list whenever we think of them. Steve is being used to show you how big this board is

DSCF0483

This is one happy camper…Brunhilda has been on for 2 days straight now and this little black dog is about as happy as a pig in muck :). This is his own personal couch right next to the blissful wafting warmth of our wood fired 4 oven stove (Brunhilda) and Earl has a recliner chair on the other side. They both spent most of the day upside down sleeping…whoever first used the term “It’s a dogs life” certainly knew what they were talking about 😉

I tried some of my homemade soymilk kefir in my breakfast smoothie yesterday and it was so delicious, I had to immediately put some more beans on to soak. I am going to look into making kefir with other milks, specifically the cheaper ones like sesame, sunflower and perhaps grain milks like oat. If you are going to use something on a regular basis you need to make sure it’s going to pay you back in kind and won’t deliver too many negative results. The jury is still out on soymilk. I just found some good recipes for combining oats and a few almonds to make satisfyingly delicious non-dairy “milk” that should be cheap enough for me to use regularly without the hype of soymilk. Now all I have to do is see if Kid Creole’s coconuts feel the same way about it as they do soymilk. I think the secret is to use dried fruit to get a secondary ferment (to all of you crazed fermenters out there that this means ANYTHING to 😉 ). Kefir, correctly cultured, ends up slightly alcoholic. I made soymilk booze! Forget sake folks, this stuff can be drunk for breakfast?! I am in! I will let you know how my experimentation with oaty, almondy goodness goes and if Kid Creole’s coconuts have anything positive to say about the equation. I will be experimenting with different fruit pastes as well. I adore dried figs. Let’s see if Kid Creole’s coconuts do too. I will be experimenting with making home-made beer soon. I will be buying the barley, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating it myself. I will also buy local hops fresh from this year’s harvest source to add to the brew. I want to see if I can make it myself and I want to cultivate “barm”. Barm is a frothy mix of bacteria and yeast that forms on the top of brewing mash (or Wort as it is commonly called). The barm is the lively stuff that converts the sugars and starches into booze… the magic little tiny union of alchemists that deliver us into table dancing maniacs and that hand us our regret on a headachy platter the next morning. I recently read that this barm is also what brewers used to sell to bakers to bake their bread…how interesting? My little twitchy researching brain started twitching rhythmically when it got onto the scent of an interesting new hunt…I headed off and discovered that you can, indeed, make the European version of a sourdough starter using barm and that it was, indeed, the precursor to todays dried yeast! Guess who will be brewing more than just beer in the near future :o). I also have plans for home brewed, fermented ginger beer from a ginger beer plant (hopefully Pinky still has mum’s recipe…) and home brewed naturally fermented root beer for my daughters who LOVE the turpentine taste of Sarsaparilla. If this little black duck can make it herself, saving HEAPS in the process, damning “the man” and customising the flavours and nutrients to her own desires then its BONUS time in the deal-o-drome (if you don’t watch “Deal or No Deal” that isn’t going to make any sense to you 😉 ). Time to make like a tree and leaf folks. Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever you have planned to the max. If it doesn’t work out…always have a plan B and that’s the sage advice that you are getting for free from the Narfy Lorax today ;). See you on Wednesday when goodness ONLY knows what craziness we have gotten up to in the name of frugal penniless student hippidom! :o)

A confraturnity of early morning bloggers

Hi All,

What have I done! It would seem that my newfound zeal for early mornings has managed to insinuate itself on Jess (a.k.a. “Rabid”) from   http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ and now one of Jess’s blog followers the wonderful Linne http://arandomharvest.wordpress.com/  has started following the blog and suddenly here we are…a confraternity of early morning ladies gathering in spirit all over the world! Admittedly our early mornings are Linnes evenings but our ethos is woven together over the miles (kilometres in our neck of the woods but who is going to count eh? 😉 ) and this small sisterhood of communication and mutual respect has begun. Who couldn’t love someone who says that “My inner geek is a luddite!” The girl is speaking my language! Next, I got this marvellous comment when Linne had a peek at our sideline page where we admit to being middle aged hippies…

‘’Aging Hippies’??? Wonder what that makes me, then . . . nope, you are still very young; try using my New Age Ruler: 0 – 50 = Young; 51 – 100 = Middle Aged; 101 – 150 = Old; anything after that and you’re Ancient’

And this lovely lady lives in Alberta…that’s in the U.S. to all of my dear constant readers in other places in the world (all 4 of you 😉 ). Don’t forget Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ who is officially my olalla twin and so many more of you that I have come to think of as family more than dear constant readers. I have to admit that when I started this blog it most certainly wasn’t to communicate with like-minded people in far flung corners of the globe, but more a way to keep my mother who lived in my home state of Western Australia in touch with us without the need for a 7 page email every day. Mum loved the blog and it was a sort of letter from the new country to her heart and she loved Serendipity Farm with a passion. Like most things born of necessity, the blog grew like topsy and took on a life of its own. I have met amazing people through this blog, pioneers of their own minds who take hold of what life has handed them and make the most of their lot. True heroes who explore the parameters of life and tease the fabric of the extremities just to see how far their life can take them. I love you all dearly and you go a long way to making my own personal life a more meaningful and vibrant place to be. I think the blog has given me more than a means to communicate, it has given me a way to release my inner writer and despite my inner writers desire to maniacally type till the cows come home, you keep coming back to pore over my rampant words and find something that resonates with you and I thank you all for your confidence in me :o)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kniphofia uvaria seed stripped off a stalk on our walk this morning with the dogs and scattered near the gate just inside Serendipity Farm. It’s plants like these that are going to give us the look and feel that we want here at no cost and with minimal intervention. It’s all about getting cluey enough to work out what is going to do the best on your property/in your garden and get clever about sourcing it and planting it. Over winter this year I will be poring over my gardening tomes to find all different kinds of plants that will love living here and that will be something that we actually WANT to live here…a juggling act that will be worth the effort

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Badumna longinqua “Black house spider” whose habitat is listed as “tree trunks, logs, rock walls and buildings (in window frames, wall crevices, etc).” I would like it known that the “etc.” part of this equation also encompasses sports shoes…and my worst nightmares!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here she is looking decidedly groggy after her forced eviction from my shoe. Note the laces have been undone because Steve insisted that she was gone…I am an Aussie…we Aussie Sheila’s don’t “bugger off” all that easily mate…I KNEW she was still in there…apparently the females never leave the nest (unless they are forced out with a stick and the arachnid equivalent of a force 10 earthquake when their new house is being banged against the brick wall…) and remain in situ waiting for males to come along and coax them out of their homes…this one decided that my sports shoe was a LOT better than the shoe that she had been living in (rent free mind you!) right next to where my shoes were stashed… its VERY lucky I decided to take a peek inside them before I put them on!

Back to the early morning thing… I am sitting here at 4.22am thinking “I had best get back to my rss feed read”…I think I am addicted to it, to be honest. These early mornings are more to feed my information habit than for any other reason. I am a quintessential knowledge fiend who loved to acquire useful information that is pertinent to our own personal situation. I don’t know why I feel compelled to hoard this precious information but it’s like gold to me and gives me the ability to be able to choose to bypass mainstream consumerism (which is a good thing because mainstream consumerism involves large quantities of the plastic folding stuff and here on Serendipity Farm that is a rare commodity!) and find ways to do what we want to do here at minimal cost. Have you ever felt rich beyond your wildest dreams? Sometimes a recipe, or a technique or a specific way of doing something that I wasn’t aware of before that is revealed to me in an early morning blog when my mind is wide awake and I am vibrant with possibility after a good night’s sleep makes me feel like that. Its really strange the more I focus on how lucky we are, how happy I am and how many possibilities there are out there to give us what we want and change our lives, the happier I get! Its not like anything has really changed, we haven’t suddenly taken receipt of any secret formula for how to change the world around us and it certainly isn’t as if we have come into a large sum of money, it’s something more fundamental than that. It’s the ability to think, act and do for ourselves what humanity has been doing for millennia and what has delivered us to this very point here in our existence with the ability to choose to “first do no harm” to ourselves and our surrounding environment. Once you get your head around the fact that you DO, indeed, make a difference and that even your smallest efforts are like that smile that we have all heard about that can travel the earth or that small ripple on one side of a lake that causes a bow-wave on the other side, we can start to feel like our existence is worthwhile, meaningful and that there actually is “Hope”. Happiness is something that we weave ourselves…it might have a lumpy boucle look, it might be ruched by the dog pulling the wool/fabric of your existence, it might have slipped stitches and mismatched colours and be badly knit and you might have to wear it minus the collars and cuffs because life is too short to learn how to make them BUT at the end of the day you have a life jumper and it warms you when its cold and it gives you a sense of solidity that your life is actually something that you chose to take part in…your life HAS meaning and at the end of the day, that’s something precious :o)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Look! Lassie came home!”…wouldn’t Earl just LOVE that! This is Della a beautiful bearded collie. She is one of the boys friends from one of their regular walks and she comes up to the fence to get treats. She is well behaved, beautiful, elegant and dignified… her son “Tiny” shares NONE of those traits and spends he days racing up and down the fence barking at the top of his lungs and attempting to incite riots with Earl who studiously ignores him (making Tiny even crazier)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Meet Tenodera australasiae or “Purple-winged Mantis” (thanks to http://www.ozanimals.com/Insect/Purple-winged-Mantis/Tenodera/australasiae.html for pictures so that I could identify him 🙂 ). This one was sitting on the edge of the ashphalt and so we picked him up and put him into the shrubs on the side of the road

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an Egretta novaehollandiae or “White faced Heron”, one of the local birds that cohabit our little space between the river and our property. They nest on Glad’s property next door and spend their time alternating between invading our garden for worms and insects and fishing in the river

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Cassytha melantha or “Coarse Dodder laurel” and I am assured by a most reputable website that the fruits are edible and harvested from the wild but we know dodder more for its ability to completely cover a tree and kill it. Any parasitic plant that kills its host is a bit mental but as you can see, dodder fruits prolifically and if the seed is actually tasty, its no wonder birds carry it for miles

That’s what early mornings deliver to me…I am a philosophy major at 4.32am ;). Let’s see how my mind, my energy levels and my desire to wax lyrical change over the course of a day shall we? It’s Friday…todays’ blog post (posted Saturday night) is going to go…today we have to upload all of the activities that Steve and I have been slaving over for the last week. This course isn’t difficult but it is work intensive and we are learning heaps about all different kinds of things and I, for one, am loving it. Steve has very kindly let me do most of the work…I know that sounds like I fell for some sort of sales pitch and Steve is sitting with his feet up and a straw in his mouth dreaming of television and a nap on the sofa BUT “I” am the luddite and “he” is the computer literate and to let me bumble around in programs where he can just zoom, is an act of love on his part. Steve is like Speedy Gonzales that little Hannah Barbera mouse who goes 110% all of the time. To slow down to my Luddite speed is tantamount to being given a huge dose of valium and told to “sit”. Not an easy task for him to say the least but to give him his credit, he has been an angel about me clicking the wrong dropdown boxes for the 27th time in a row and I am only able to detect him twitching after about 6 hours solid of sitting here next to me. I didn’t think that I would like this course but I actually love the freedom that learning about how to really use the Adobe suite is giving me. We are even talking about heading out and designing our own web pages and bollocks to WordPress but that’s in the future and like we all know…in the future there are robots!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These are Crassostrea gigas or “Pacific or Japanese oysters”. In some places in the world they would be sought after seafood and indeed, many tourists scarf down copious quantities of them on their camping holidays but eating these babies from the Tamar River might give you more than a stomach ache. As filter feeders they collect lots of heavy metals and it simply isn’t worth eating them. This shot was to show you why we don’t let our dogs loose just over the road from Serendipity Farm…we love them too much 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the panorama’s that Steve took from directly in front of Serendipity Farms front gate. The lighthouse to the left is in front of Glad’s house and is an historical monument and the rest is just…”rest”…whatever the camera picks up while Steve is slowly tracking. If you want to see this photo larger just click on it and when you finish looking hit your back button to return to this post…I will wait for you here…no really… knock yourselves out! 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another misty morning and part of the payback for walking the dogs every day is that we get to see things like this, nice and early before most people are up 🙂

That’s about all I am going to do now as it’s 4.39am and Bezial just came in from his early morning back yard dog bone munching efforts and on his way past he sighed at me…he has ensconced himself on the sofa where he will “mind” me for the next few hours till Earl gets up at approximately 6.45am and prods both Bezial and I in readiness for his happiest part of the day…”THE WALK”…the reason for Earls very existence is “THE WALK” and his questing beak is stuck into any portion of both human and kennel mate in a furious effort to arrive at “THE WALK” as soon as is possible after that 6.45am wake-up call. See you later in the day to see how these synapses adapt after a few hours study… It’s now 1pm and Serendipity Farm is shimmering with heat. Steve is outside taking a few panorama shots for me with the new/old camera that my brother gave us and Bezial and Earl are panting under the table. That’s what autumn brings to us here in Australia, 32C today and no change in the immediate future…global warming has knobs on! We finished our learning activities for our course yesterday (all except having to draw 50 pumpkins and we won’t talk about that for a little bit because it makes me hyperventilate and need a paper bag…) and posted all of the links to our pseudo blogs up. Do you remember me making snide comments about the class factotum? Well Steve and I just officially moved into that spot as of this morning when we uploaded EVERYTHING that we possibly could to the study site and we can actually “feel” the rest of our class seething through the ether…too bad…we have 50 pumpkins to draw over the next few days and we don’t need any distractions getting in the way. Now all of our current workload is uploaded we are free to concentrate on those dreaded pumpkins. We are studiously avoiding them at the moment. “It’s too hot…I need some photo’s for tomorrows blog…I have to think about what we are going to cook for tea tonight…I need to lay on the ground and look at my navel…” you know the kind of procrastinations that we humans can come up with to avoid having to do what we know we are going to have to do sooner rather than later…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another one of Steve’s panoramas, this time showing you the state of our “lawn” in the side garden and see how some of the shrubs are actually starting to curl up? Not a good sign!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back towards the house and if you notice that the “lawn” hasn’t been mowed, keep it to yourself. “Tut-tut” me and “Pfft” me all you like but do it behind my back…I am a broken woman with all of this heat and mowing what’s left of the “grass” is a sobering reminder that rain isn’t going to be coming any day soon 😦

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This walkway leads from the driveway up to the house. You can walk this way or you can head on up the steep driveway if you are insane enough… I choose the steep driveway every time. It’s nothing to do with my sanity and everything to do with me heading straight out to water the veggie garden as soon as we get back in from walking the dogs. I water, I think, I ruminate, I pick a bunch of spinach and I head indoors to blend a green smoothie and start my day

I can’t wait for the weather to cool down. It’s not only the heat, the dryness, the cracks in the ground and the soul sapping, ongoing, stretched-outedness of summer, it’s the minimalist role that cooking takes in summer that gets to me. I want to dance the dance of the Swedish Chef from the Muppet show as I hop from one pan to the next on top of Brunhilda and all ovens have something exotic wafting from them. I want to “feel” the warmth of the fire as part of something wholesome and not something that has to be endured. You can tell the plants on Serendipity Farm that have suffered through all of the extended summers past and they are eking out what remains of the soil water at the expense of the green stuff that some would call lawn that is now brown, crispy and blowing away on a regular basis. If the soil wasn’t so hard, rock filled, sloped and comprised of clay I would simply get rid of most of the “lawn” and would make more garden beds. I saw a really great idea on Facebook…Facebook is where I get a lot of ideas. I am a bit over it for “communication purposes” but ideas flow left right and centre from the carefully selected pages that I like and today I noticed some spiral herb gardens giving lift and shape to garden beds. One was simply made of rocks (we HAVE those!) and the other was made of gabion and looked fantastic. We don’t have a lot of wire at the moment (it’s draped over EVERYTHING that we don’t want the possums and wallabies to inhale…) so gabions are out of the question but like cooking, gardening in our “autumn” is starting to make me twitch. You can almost feel the earth yearning for water. I noticed someone digging out their dam today on our morning walk with the dogs. Large scoops of duck infested slime being removed so that this year’s winter rain (if, indeed, we get winter…) will fill it anew. Steve still hasn’t returned from his photographic sojourn down to the river… (Speak of the proverbial…he’s back! 😉 ). Off for a bit to check his photos :o)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a “red lily” don’t ask me to find its botanical name because I already tried that. I can tell you what it ISN’T…just not what it is. I have NO idea what it is but it cost me $2 from Big Pot Nursery and it seems to like it here so it can stay 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Orange seems to be the colour of late summer…maybe nature is trying to reflect the enduring heat of it all…
I have been pulling this plant out all over the place becase I thought it was a weed…this one escaped my attentions after hiding out in a spiraea (English May) bush and isn’t it pretty? I hereby cease my efforts to remove this “weed” from Serendipity Farm! 😉

DSCF9938

Some beurre bosc pears that my eldest daughter Madeline shimmied up the tree and picked for Steve when he was visiting on Monday. I may, or may not have eaten a few of these pears and I may or may not have inadvertently consumed a coddling moth larvae. I expect to have an angry lynch mob complete with pitchforks and lit torches from the vegan society banging on the door any day soon to take my membership card away…

It’s Saturday and it’s still hot :o(. I am NOT happy about the “hot” bit because hot and I make bad bedfellows. Luckily we don’t have to study today because we were such swats yesterday and handed in most of our work AND we uploaded our websites so our fellow students can REALLY think we suck. Sometimes you just have to do what you gotta do and finishing up work early is how we roll. It’s a good lesson to learn when you work from home and we learned it very early in the piece. We still have to draw those pesky pumpkins but I can feel a smattering of artistic interest being piqued by my artistically challenged brain so it might be more interesting and enjoyable than first thought. For today though, I have fed Audrey, the fridge dwelling sourdough, I syphoned off 250g of her unfed bulk to make a large sourdough carrot cake tomorrow and I have decided to have another go at making home-made soy milk. I own a soymilk machine that has been gathering dust for years now after I tried to make soymilk that would work in my daily cup of tea and failed abysmally. I know that store bought soymilk has little tricky inclusions like sunflower oil, gums, starches and sugars to give it body and flavour and mine just tasted watery and beany and not very nice in my tea. I am going to spend the day hunting to see if I can’t find a recipe to approximate store bought soymilk at home. I dare say the spiders will be upset about being evicted at short notice from the soymilk maker but fair do’s, they have had a VERY long lease! ;).  I am getting more and more interested in fermentation and feel the need to ferment myself some miso and other interesting Japanese ferments. I have found a source of koji (the ferment used) but need to source it from the U.S. It might be a very exciting experiment as miso tends to be a slow cultured ferment and I like the idea of tucking it away and waiting till it is ready, sort of like a Japanese Christmas present. There are so many ferments that indigenous cultures use every single day. We think of them as exotic, but to their daily users, they are just a means to an end in food form. I really like the idea of knowing how to make these incredibly useful and nutritious ingredients myself and in being able to source the cultures. Once you start making your own miso, you can keep using it to culture future batches. I had an amazing book about tofu that I can’t find. Steve and I just turned the house upside down and I fear I may have included it in a stack of books donated to the local thrift shop! “Zut alors!” Or more like “Dummkopf” on my behalf :o(. Oh well…I DID find a great ex libris copy of a fantastic book on how to make your own soba noodles so that salves my tofu and miso parched soul…

DSCF9929

I have Birdy style “Skinny love” for these eggplants. I most cleverly (I can’t be waiting for you lot to praise me up so I am just going to have to do it myself…) chose to plant these smaller Japanese style eggplants so that they wouldn’t require a longer period to ripen than our short season can give them. I did the same for our tomatoes choosing cherry tomatoes and “medium” tomatoes (that are large but shhhh! Don’t tell! 😉 ). You have to work with what you have, what will grow well in your endemic situation and you have to learn from your mistakes…consider it done! Next year I will be an older (sigh…) and wiser Narf7 🙂

DSCF9932

Here we have Kid Creole and his coconut. I can’t help but think of the Clash song “Rock the Casbah” when I look at my kefir pot. Kid just sent his coconuts off to convert the milk that I made from this very cute coconut. Just a quick aside…does anyone else think that the advertisment for Wrigley’s Extra Gum delivers the wrong message? I don’t see that cute food as anything bad, in fact I want to embrace that doughnut! I want to bring him home and snuggle him up into a paper bag so that I can open it and look at him whenever I need a smile. To all of you outside Australia, here’s one of the adverts if you would like to check it out…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTEhfj24PBc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

“The act of smelling something, anything, is remarkably like the act of thinking. Immediately at the moment of perception, you can feel the mind going to work, sending the odour around from place to place, setting off complex repertories through the brain, polling one centre after another for signs of recognition, for old memories and old connection.” – Lewis Thomas

Am I the only one that uses their sense of smell more than just a way to get those stomach juices roiling? Scents can take me all over the place…I get a slight whiff and I have strong and vivid memories related to these scents. I have a theory (might even do a thesis on it one day should I ever stray into the realms of social nutrition or psychology 101…) that we more “generously” proportioned human beings have much better senses of smell than you skinny malinkies out there. We are able to use our olfactory senses to seek out food, much like little piggies hunting out truffles. Rather than be sneered at as a lack of personal willpower, it should be seen as a survival trait, much like our bodies stubborn refusal to give up its fat stores at all costs…modern humanity scorns it, we exhibit it and it could help us live longer in a famine situation…see how I turned that negative into a positive? I would like a positive point now please…preferably a nice shiny factotum gold star ;). Well the heat is starting to melt my brain. Its autumn and its hotter than summer was. I am more than over summer and 90+F (that’s for all of you Americans who scoff at our 32C days because you didn’t see the “C” and thought we were whinging about the cold…) Indian summer that we are being forced to endure. I am going to resize some photos, soak some soybeans, decant my weird fizzy sour tasting homemade coconut milk that Kid Creole’s coconuts just made me and put Kid into some new fresh milk…I am then going to try to work out what to do with 2 litres of kefir  and do my level best to find a free online PDF of “The book of tofu”…”The book of Miso” and “The book of Tempeh”… consider it a challenge and this little black duck loves nothing more than a challenge! “To the fray Robin!” (That’s you Steve…NO I get to wear the cape! 😉 )…

minimalism_superhero-1366x768

This is OFFICIALLY “Me” 🙂