Flipper Hitler

Hi All,

This morning we were walking along the riverbank taking the dogs for a walk and suddenly a seal popped out of the river not 3 metres away from us and scared the living daylights out of us. Bezial was most interested and when the seal submerged, he watched the patterns on the water to follow it’s progress and was spot on looking where the seal re-emerged a few moments later…Earl, however, was MILES off. He was looking upstream when the seal emerged back downstream. He blames Bezial for blocking his sonar ;). Steve knows this seal well. It hangs around waiting for the excess baby salmon from the salmon farm around the corner from us to be ejected into the river. He calls the seal “Flippy” and that reminded me of a recent bought of memory hunting on Youtube that we undertook. Steve comes from Liverpool in the U.K. he used to listen to a most interesting and hilarious radio show as he drove from one guitar lesson to the next (he was a guitar teacher in the U.K.) called “Hold your Plums”. Liverpudlians are known for both their ability to charm the pants off you whilst pinching whatever isn’t nailed down AND their incredible senses of humour. This show was funny! It was sort of an online game show where people phoned up and had a go at guessing questions that the announcers threw at them. Some of the answers were hilarious and seeing Flippy the seal reminded me of an elderly lady in her 80’s who phoned up to have a go. I would like to share the link here with you because it had Steve and I laughing so much our stomachs hurt! If you fancy a bit of a deep belly laugh today, give it a go, it might just do the trick :o)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoH3tL1SOZY

Here in the frozen outreaches of civilisation in the frigid tundra’s of Sidmouth we Inuit Pimblett’s have decided that we can’t hibernate any longer and we are just going to have to rug up all Russian style and get out into the brilliant sunshine of what amounts to a day trip to the Gulag peninsula in winter. The piles of debris aren’t going anywhere themselves and we need to chop some wood for Brunhilda who never sleeps through winter. She might not be ravenous but she can certainly pack wood away at a slow and steady pace and if we don’t feed her, she goes on strike. I have to rake the driveway and find it again underneath the thin layer of mulch that the chooks scratched up to liberate some unsuspecting invertebrates and to make the place look a bit tidier. We pulled down the temporary low fence around Steve’s precious grafted maple selection because at the moment they are just sticks and no self-respecting wallaby or possum would bother with them. We want to put up a more aesthetically pleasing fence for the coming spring to dissuade the natives from scarfing the new tender maple leaves and to keep the flow of our view out to the Tamar River which is a constant source of enjoyment and wonder for us…we live here…we own this!

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Earl doing his best “Earlvis” sneer in preparation for his big debut. As it was, he got stage fright and Bezial had to step into the breech and “woof” for Steve’s animation

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As you can see, the choko is starting to take over the kitchen and I am starting to think about where to plant it until the frosts go. Probably in a large pot in the glasshouse for the moment but wherever it goes, it had best go quickly as it is starting to reach for kitchen utensils…

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What am I going to do with this bag of apples? I might turn them into apple butter or cook them down until they are quite dry and make an apple spread with some cinnamon.

The huge enclosed veggie garden isn’t going to build itself. We know that because we have been waiting and it hasn’t happened. We figure that means we are just going to have to get off our middle aged derrières and effect the change all by ourselves. We have the last net wall to go up and a gate to pick up from our friend Jenny who generously donated it to the cause and in early spring we are going to cover the lot with black bird netting and good luck to anything getting into the equation aside from us. The enclosure had an impromptu test the other day when we released the hound (the other one stayed firmly tethered to us but mobile) and he pelted up to the back garden and promptly got confused about how to get out. He barrelled into the net walls because he tends to use his brute force to get out of things but this time he ended up bouncing off the wall and stood there looking incredulously at the net…he then tried to bulk his way out of the wall again and failed again. Think sideways trampoline and you can get a bit of a picture of what Bezial was doing. After his second failed attempt he started to wander the peripherals (he was inside the enclosure at this point) pushing the net with his beak to see if he could shove his way out…nope…Steve ended up having to lift the netting for him (very heavy stuff) and release him. If a 40kg American Staffordshire terrier couldn’t muscle his way out of the netting nothing smaller could muscle their way in. I think we are onto a winner here :o).

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My underutilised mandoline actually getting a workout for once!

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The reason for the mandoline’s outing, we made oven baked potato crisps! Steve ate them all before I could get a photo but it was a test run to see if they were worth the effort it takes to make them…apparently they were :o)

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Icy cold but sunny, Winter is delicious when you have a lovely warm fire to go inside to :o)

My leaves all washed down into the Tamar River and floated away to fairer climes (that’s you Victoria). Glad burned some of them and the rest washed away with the decent rain we had. We should have raked them but have been making excuses to stay indoors and out of that icy cold and ended up losing a wonderful free ameliorant for our new garden soil. We have a HUGE pile of horse poo mixed with straw but oak leaves are precious. Glad said that there are still some leaves there and we will head over to rake the leave from under the large oak tree that borders our properties but we really shouldn’t have missed that opportunity for a few trailer loads of free leaf mould for the sake of warm hands. Steve and I spend a lot of time juggling studies and working in the garden and it’s SO easy to push studies to the front and ignore heading out into the cold. We will chalk our leaf loss up to experience and next year we won’t miss out on that glorious free annual chance to bulk up our soil and add a new suite of organisms to our soil mycology.

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Mass slaughter in the kitchen (note the nose prints all over the cupboards…) Steve usually brings a few bags of stuffed toys home after his fortnightly shop and this is the scene shortly after we dump them on the floor for the dogs to “play” with 😉

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Steve bought me a bonus coconut in the shopping which I decided I was going to turn into coconut butter. First, you need to liberate your coconut, THEN you need to cut all of the brown skin away from the coconut meat and then you need to cut it up finely. I have a vitamix high speed blender and even then it still took ages to process the coconut flesh. Apparently it’s much easier to do this with dry coconut but the resulting finely processed fresh coconut tastes delicious and I am using spoons of it in my breakfast juk

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Bugger…this is the second knife that has fallen victim to death by coconut…I am going to have to rethink the way that I liberate my coconut meat!

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Mid way through the processing scraping down the coconut puree

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Pureed, packed and ready to put on the lid and put in the fridge for future use

Now that I have outed us as lazy comfort seeking bollocks I can redeem myself by saying that today we are heading out, rugged up like Russian Babushka dolls, into the minus Celsius temperatures of Serendipity Farm to burn things. We are going to collect up some of the more aesthetically challenging heaps of branches and twigs that we heaped up and are going to drag them to our burning spot and burn them. Not only will be clearing up the place, but we will be keeping warm at the same time.

I just opened up my RSS Feed Reader this morning (yes…I am STILL doing this post today 😉 ) and had the glorious feeling of being able to manage my RSS Feed Reader…usually I would have somewhere in the vicinity of 600+ posts to manage and try to weave my way through what was “useful” and what was not necessary…I mean seriously folks…how many “recipes” for avocado on toast do we readers REALLY need?!!! On Tuesday I had a bit of a mental crisis. I was over trying to negotiate and satisfy my RSS Feed Reader. It had been a solid week of non-stop trying to eliminate it and I suddenly came to the realisation that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Once I realised that I had become a slave to my RSS Feed Reader I decided to take some action. I eliminated posts AND blogs. I now have a tiny core of key blogs that I read. I can now comment on posts again. I have the time to give each post that I read my undivided attention and I am not just skimming over the hard crafted labour of someone else’s mind to get to the next post and to be finished. I am back to enjoying getting up nice and early to open my mind up and learn from other people. I love the interaction of commenting and if someone has taken the time to share an interesting and informative post with us all, I figure I at least owe them a bit of a head’s up.

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The somewhat alarming results of leaving a glass of non-dairy kefir out for a little while…a bit like Mt. Vesuvius!

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One of what the dogs have every single day on Serendipity Farm…and we wonder why they are fussy with anything else? 😉

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I spy…with my little eye…something…beginning with…”C”…I don’t expect you to look that hard but on a recent visit by dad’s old dog Milo, he happened upon this poor unfortunate feral cat that he promptly chased up this tree…

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The cat didn’t come down out of the tree for ages!

So the RSS Feed Reader took a hiding and is a mere shadow of its former self. I have limited my Pinterest action although that’s a hard one because that’s a new addiction and you can find some amazing stuff through Pinterest. I have found that I am redirecting my attentions now away from the gorgeous pamplemousse pies and back to sustainable and frugal hints and tips and crafty deliciousness so I might yet get something worthwhile out of my Pinterest addiction. Steve and I have been cooking up a storm lately. The weather and the free stove have been conducive to us wanting to cook. We have been baking all sorts of delicious things and we both decided that aside from the obvious benefits of Brunhilda, she has given us the ability to not have to worry about what we are going to cook for tea. The ovens are always on, there is always a range of temperatures that whatever we are cooking will fit into and we don’t have to wait for anything to heat up before we can start. We can warm things over her, we can proof our Stromboli dough (Steve has had 2 Stromboli’s in 4 days 😉  ) and she satisfies my need to experiment (read “play”) with my food in a most wonderful way.

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Chestnuts for me to cut slits in and then steam ready to make chestnut paste

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Some of the chestnut paste mixed with some date paste to be used in some sweet steamed buns

I have been messing around with pastes. I got Steve to pick up some adzuki beans and some more black beans on his last foray into shopping on Monday. He also bought me some sweet potatoes, some chestnuts and 2 enormous pumpkins and some black sesame seed. I have settled on eating juk (Korean thin rice porridge) for my winter breakfasts and have modified the recipe slightly to tweak it to my own personal tastes. I am now starting to get a bit more adventurous with the ingredients that I add. My pumpkin juk was delicious and I found a recipe for black sesame juk to try. I am making pastes so that I can use them to make a sort of “instant juk” like instant porridge for when we get back from walking the dogs and I don’t have to spend half an hour prepping the ingredients to make my breakfast. We have been snowed under in studies lately and our animations are starting to take a fair bit of time to produce. We need to get stuck into our work for the day pretty much as soon as we get in from our walks so having the options of “instant juk” is very appealing. Making my own black sesame, black bean, adzuki bean, reduced pumpkin, reduced sweet potato, chestnut etc. pastes in the fridge was a tantalising thought and so far I have made chestnut puree (half unsweetened and half sweetened with date paste) and am about to spend the weekend making all different kinds of pastes. Most of them will be sweetened by date paste and reduced down to thick unctuousness to increase their shelf life. Think “Korean jam” and the ability to stir a few spoonfuls of whatever flavour I fancy on the day into some water with some fresh ground glutinous rice and have my breakfast ready in 5 minutes is very enticing.

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An artistic shot of my last 2 remaining vanilla beans. I used them today to make a rich creamy vanilla custard to make vanilla ice cream tomorrow for Steve

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This might not look like much but it is creamy English fudge…well…the beginnings of it 😉

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And this is the end of it. Some of this is going to be chopped finely and folded through Steve’s vanilla icecream

My experiments with non-dairy kefir are a huge success. I have managed to harness my kefir grains to 3 days producing homemade organic Aussie soybean milk and 1 day basking in regular whole milk to refresh them and gird their loins. I have learned that kefir grains are sugar freaks. They adore the date paste that I sweeten my homemade soymilk with and float around basking in the glory of it. My grains get huge with this regime and despite dehydrating most of them a few weeks ago; I am going to have to dry another tray of them. I am keeping the dehydrated kefir in the fridge in a jar with some organic milk powder in it to snuggle up to in their frigid dream state to keep them happy. I sent some dehydrated kefir grains to Wendy from the wonderful blog quarteracrelifestyle (that you can find here… http://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/ ). She lives in New Zealand and we all thought that she would have her grains stopped at customs but they arrived safe and well and are now producing quality kefir for her and her wonderful husband Roger (who we still want to borrow by the way Wendy 😉 ). No doubt they will start to grow exponentially and they will get snowed under with grains and can give some to friends and family. I can’t believe that there are people actually waiting in line to get kefir grains! Mine just keep on growing alarmingly. I have several clusters of grains that are almost as big as my palm and that keep shedding small nuggetty grains into my milk. I have perfected the daily process of separating the kefir from the morass (you could hardly call the mix of soymilk and brown date paste that mine bath in “milk” 😉 ). I have also learned when to decant my kefir into new milk and how fermented I like my milk. It’s all a learning process and experimenting is huge fun.

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Chestnuts inside my vitamix waiting to be rendered into spread

Steve bought me a coconut on Monday and I put the coconut water (the liquid inside the coconut) into my non-dairy kefir stockpile in the fridge. I keep a 3 litre milk bottle with however much kefir I have managed to produce ready to use and drink whenever I feel like it. We have to release the gas from the lid whenever we open the fridge and the container has managed to swell up alarmingly in the past and actually crack the plastic on the fridge door. Never underestimate the power of gas folks! Think ginger beer and kefir isn’t too far behind it when you put a lid on it ;). Aside from experimenting with my breakfast and making pastes I have been thinking outside the box a bit. I have a “what if” brain. It keeps wanting to wrap itself around ideas and get busy with them. I have been ruminating over a “what if?” for a while now and as Steve is off collecting firewood with a friend today, my “what if” might get a chance to get researched today. “What if I tried to take the natural sweetness from root vegetables and turn it into a useful sweetener?” I am talking along the lines of date paste, but coming from sweeter veggies like pumpkin and sweet potato. I am going to experiment with “butters” to see if I can satisfy my veggie sweet tooth naturally and with minimal flavour additives to the root veggies. I have also been finding lots of naturally sweet thick syrups in my forays online. Things like pomegranate and apple molasses, a result of reducing straight juice down to a thick unctuous syrup like product that has keeping qualities. Obviously this was one of the ways that our pioneering ancestors managed to keep sweet things over winter and preserve the harvest. I wonder what juices I could extract and reduce down to make some amazing flavoured thick molasses? I am going to be experimenting so expect some results soon.

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A selection of ingredients to make some biscuits. The orange peel is awaiting me turning it into preserved orange peel and that biscuit barrel is getting a little bit low…time to make another batch.

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Some of the ingredients for Steve’s Stromboli that he had for his evening meal last night

Another thing that I have been ruminating over for a little while now is this blog. I have honed my RSS Feed Reader down to accommodate our busy lifestyle and to allow me to spend more time in the mornings prepping for our day. My mornings can now be spent initially reading and commenting on my RSS Feed Reads (and pinning worthy posts) and then I get time to deal with my kefir, put beans on to soak for cooking the next day as it’s easier to plan what I need for the day and the next day when I have a specific time set aside to do it. I always forgot to soak my soybeans for my non-dairy milk but now I won’t forget. Morning is when I plan out what I need prepped for my needs. I make a lot of what I use myself including my non-dairy organic soymilk for my kefir, my almond and oat milk for my tea and personal use, a regular progression of homemade date paste and the various cooked beans that I use in my day to day recipes. I love being organised and this newfound freedom to plan my prepping has me thinking that I am starting to get on top of this country living lark. I am thinking about changing the direction of this blog. I am going to drop it down to a single post a week. I tried to do that back when I dropped it from daily, to twice a week but all of my dear constant readers protested. I have noticed that I have a lot of followers who never comment and who are effectively “sleepers”. Some haven’t read a blog post in years and I realise that my long winded, eccentric posts might be a bit much for most people.

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Oops! I am going to run out of images if I am not careful…this is the dough for the biscuits that I made yesterday. It is the same dough that I make for Quaker oat biscuits. The only difference is that I eliminate the cinnamon and sugar and add bacon and grated cheese

There are a small core of you out there that “get” me. That see what I am trying to do here and that appreciate my crazy tangle of muses that want to explode into the arena that forms this blog. I started this blog to satisfy the needs of my mum. She was happy to allow us to move to Tasmania so long as she could see what was going on and the blog allowed me to share with her, and with the rest of the world. It also satisfied my latent need to write. I have enjoyed posting and can truly say that it has never been a chore to me. Words flow out of me like water into a stream and writers block isn’t something that I have had to contend with on a regular basis. I still feel that there are millions of posts welled up inside me but the tide has started to change. I want to hone my posts and make them relevant to what we are doing here. I know that my dear constant readers are interested in what we are accomplishing on Serendipity Farm and I seem to have been stagnating here for a while. Winter and our derrières firmly welded to this P.C. throne as we try to keep up with our lecturers manic and erratic study load have left us with precious little time (or inclination if the truth be told…) to get out into the frozen archipelago that has become Serendipity Farm. You know how I said we rarely get frost? Ignore that as the machinations of a mad woman…it is practically snow here of late! I have been getting very interested in fermenting things. I am also harbouring a burning flame for planting out our food trees. It’s as if something is telling me to hurry up and I tend to listen to those small urgent voices that come from those primal places inside me more than the clamouring voices from outside.

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And here they are! Delicious oaty bacon and cheese biscuits made with butter…and they are all for the dogs! It’s certainly a dog’s life here on Serendipity Farm 😉

I will be cutting posts down to once a week on a Wednesday folks. I want to get stuck back into the garden where we belong, forging the soil, the food forest and the base permaculture cycles that we need to get this place humming along sustainably and spring is coming…the ash trees are starting to bud up! There are bulbs erupting all over the place and jonquils are waving about in the frosty breeze. The whole of the Tamar river looks romantic and windswept from the daily mist events that waft up the river and then back down at regular intervals. I want to be out there living life and facilitating change. I don’t want to wake up one day too old to do what we want to do here and have to live with that for the rest of my life. I know that you will all understand the whys and wherefores of what I want to do and that you will also appreciate the new sense of excitement that will be injected into your posts. I am hoping that my natural cut off point (that just got breached 😉 ) of 2800 words (yes…my muses let me off about then 😉 ) will not expand to a 5000 word small novella once a week. Lets just see how it goes. That’s the glory of blogging, you take it for a spin, you test it out and if it’s a dud you bugger off and go elsewhere to find one that WILL work…see you on Wednesday where Steve and I are going to share some of the animations that we have been furiously tinkering over for the last month. We are suitably proud of them and our lecturer passed us on our very first try with all of them. We were most proud of ourselves when that happened :o). Have a great week everyone and prepare for a rollercoaster of weird experimentation, extreme gardening and narf7’s eccentric take on life, the universe and everything :o).

Enter the Pamplemousse…

Hi All,

While I have your attention and before you settle into your blissful state of somnolence as you read this post whilst allowing your minds to wander to pastures green and escape the hustle and bustle of the real world…”What the HECK is a Pamplemousse?!”. I thought that might wake you up. I have been dabbling in blogs in other languages. Why not? I abuse the English language enough, may as well incite the grammar police in other countries to riot. I can’t have Madeline (my eldest daughter who is the self-appointed chief of police of the English vernacular) working 24/7 now can I? So I decided to head off and check out what other countries are doing with food blogs. Turns out they are doing just fine without the English language folks…so fine in fact, that I am veering side left to check out some of the amazing recipes that they are tossing around like so much flotsam on the sea. Every recipe looks amazing! I want to make every single one of them! Partly because they are exotic (grass greener on the other side of the fence anyone? 😉 ) and partly because they just look so damned good! I can’t believe that everyone outside English speaking countries has a masters in photography so some of this gorgeousness just HAS to come from the recipes themselves.

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This is NOT Ms Sihem. This is narf7 hanging out in front of her bestie Brunhilda with Earl who appears to be ripping up yet ANOTHER soft toy. You can’t see the hole in my track pants from this angle but you CAN see those split ends. The t-shirt is David Bowie and I am just about to feed Brunhilda yet another log to add to her log quotient for the day. Ms Sihem is an attractive well coiffured French woman who dresses in the gypsy style. I, am a strange demented West Australian who dresses in the style of “HoBo”.

Another part of the equation that makes it so tantalising for me is that I don’t understand what the recipe is about. It’s a jigsaw puzzle waiting to be solved before I can dish this lovely (but completely unintelligible) creation up to Steve (a.k.a. “Only 1 man!”). It looks good enough to bath in BUT what is it?! So I head off to my old mate Google Translate. I have studiously avoided swapping over to Google Chrome. I KNOW it automatically translates folks but it doesn’t have a favourites bar and that’s where I stash my pirates treasure of website bullion just waiting for me to revisit and roll in whenever I have a few secret spare minutes to indulge. Without them I am nothing…NOTHING I tell you! The day Google Chrome gives me a favourite’s bar is the day I jump but till then, they are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to Google Chrome! So for the purposes of this post let’s just say that I have been spending a goodly amount of time going back and forwards between Google translate and undecipherable blog posts with drool worthy images. Some of them have been quite a revelation leading me off to hunt down rare and wonderful ingredients. Some have had me excited about the possibilities of growing said ingredients myself! It’s a world of information and excitement out there folks if you don’t plan on actually doing anything with the rest of your life. You could just sit here poring over the net and becoming a resident expert on just about every cuisine in the world…but some of us have work to do and so I just cram these little undecipherable beauties into my groaning RSS Feed Reader (almost 500 again…) to delight me another day.

The word for today had me tapping the thick wooden doors to my wordy mental basement dungeon where I apparently store every single word that I have ever heard. It’s my talent… that and knowing that I spelled something wrong but not knowing how to correct it. I am just waiting for the game show that combines the two and I am IN! I have visited the great “Pamplemousse” before…just not sure where, so off to my old mate Google I go…type in P.A.M.{.{.: (bugger…fingers went too far right on the keyboard…backspace…backspace etc. till you get to the . before the M…try again dopey…) M.P.L.E (you know the rest, just building tension…I have to practice my writing skills or I am ASSURED that they will abandon me and move to a nice new human who is willing to allow them to flourish…) and the results are in folks…

A Pamplemousse is… (Drumroll….)… a grapefruit.

I can hear the palpable deflation of your expectations as I type this…you were waiting for something exotic, something amazing and delicious and utterly and entirely foreign weren’t you? Well misery loves company and so was I! It’s just very lucky that I don’t have more followers (and more of my followers that actually read my posts and aren’t just sleepers 😉 ) or I might have just been the cause of some serious literary depression there.

Now that we have our pamplemousse folks, what the heck are we going to do with it to render it so delicious that narf7 decided to take the time to translate the recipe? I might be tenacious but I am also bolshie, I am going to make this bloody thing come hell or high water! Here is the recipe folks…follow along…

http://mieletepices.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/gateau-reconfort-au-pamplemousse-rose.html

Here is my Google Translate version of what I am going to do with this grapefruit cum pamplemousse…

“Comfort cake with pink grapefruit and bitter almond

My cake comfort of these days, I love the combination of bitter almond and grapefruit is very special for me finally all cases. Because I made small madeleines for small (my son and his friends) but apart from my son who is used to off-tastes in common, other did not really like! I promised them chocolate madeleine’s for next time!

To go to the recipe, see more photos and leave a comment at the bottom click

ingredients:

100g soft butter
80g sugar
2 tbsp almond cream
150g flour
30g of wheat flour
2 large eggs
1 zest of a grapefruit
The chair of a grapefruit
3 melee yeast
1 pinch of salt
50g ground almonds
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 melee extract of bitter almonds

Extract of grapefruit zest, peel, remove the thin skin of each slice and keep the chair.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Beat the butter and sugar; add eggs, flavors, almond cream, and zest. Beat again until the mixture is smooth. Stir chair grapefruit and mix gently with a wooden spoon full of beauty.
In a separate, put the flour, yeast, salt and ground almonds, mix well container.
Stir egg mixture to the flour mixing very gently.
Butter a mold, pour the mixture and bake 40 minutes more or less.”

Note: the closest I could come to shining a light on what “melee” means is “lively crowd” so if you choose to make this recipe you need to first source yourself a lively crowds worth of bitter almonds and yeast and THEN proceed with the recipe. Always prepare your ingredients first folks! Mise en plus… By the time you get to making your recipe, you might need to enliven both crowds again so I dare say you should tell the bitter almond crowd that the yeast crowd said that their “mother was a hamster and their father smelled of elderberries” and vise-versa and that should keep them occupied and enlivened sufficiently to arrive at the desired results.

So there you have it folks…narf7’s next pamplemousse conquest. It is citrus season here in Australia and we are just about to be almost crushed under a deluge of “le citron”; “d’orange” and “le citron vert” along with our new friend “le pamplemousse” and now I am completely prepared to deal with this onslaught of citric goodness. I hope you checked out Madame Sihems’s gorgeously photographically bedecked blog. Madame Sihem appears to be the epitome of well-aged French cougar on the prowl and when checking out her “About” page (using my rudimentary 3 years of French as a guide) I discovered that she loves honey and spice for their “purity preparations” and she discovered using spices 6 years ago to (I quote) “I looked forward to my mother to turn the sleep laboratory kitchen spices.” Any younger men reading this blog who aren’t gay (that’s you Spencer 😉 ) might want to get in touch with Ms. Sihem as aside from being quite a presentable member of the middle aged woman confraternity and able to bake complete deliciousness that transcends the language barrier she is French! I rest my case. She has left her email address on her site for anyone wanting to contact her. I doubt she would be interested in any correspondence that I might generate or, indeed, my crazed pamplemousse post but I dare say she might exhibit a Mona-Lisa degree of pleasure at someone in Tasmania promoting her otherwise completely anonymous blog as furiously as this. She might even display a little pride in her blog, little knowing that my mania was fuelled by a lack of sleep and buggery-bollocks-all idea of what to post about today…

“So…how’s that garden going narf7? How are those walls holding up? What have you planted/done towards your coming springtime garden?” The answer to that is sweet bugger all folks! It’s cold out there…It’s cold and it’s covered in feral cats and chooks that are doing their level best to remove anything vaguely mulch like from every single acre of topsoil on Serendipity Farm. We are getting eggs again but we have to play “hunt the chook” to find them. We have our trusty egg hunting dog Earl (to be honest he is a “chook hunting” dog but after he extracts the chook, there are usually eggs as an added bonus…). We spend our early mornings dragging our cold and sorry carcasses out of our lovely warm bed, assembling a motley crew of clothing that makes us look strangely Russian in appearance to ward off the cold (and to cover every available inch of skin space possible), rendering us human weebles. “What’s a weeble?” I hear you say? (Yes…I hear you mentally…talent number 3! 😉 )…well a weeble is err…sort of…err…well I think I can illustrate them better in images…

Holy Crap we had this one!

This…is a “weeble”. If my sister Pinky is reading this she will probably recognise this as it looks a whole lot like a weeble that she had as a child in the 70’s.

Steve and Fran Weebles

If Steve and I were weebles, these 2 would be our anti-weebles…the day I get on a skateboard (safety helmet or not) and the day Steve takes up soccer are the day that we allow Earl out on his own to let the chooks out in the morning.

Come and sit on evil nanas knee while she sticks knitting needles into you!

I call this one “come-and-sit-on-evil-nanas-knee-while-she-sticks-knitting-needles-into-you” weeble. She appears to be modelled on Peter Griffin from Family Guy but predates him considerably so maybe the weeble creators might have a law suite in the offing (I am pointing this out in case they are looking in my direction!)

Children of the damned weeble

Lastly we have “Children-of-the-damned” weeble. I don’t think I really have to explain that do I folks?!

I have decided to use some images that I sourced from Morgue files, my free go-to site to find open source images. I might not always get what I am after but I rarely leave empty handed and I am often amused. That’s more than enough reason to go there…that plus it is one of my bullion sites anchored (so it can’t sail away) on my favourites bar. I wanted to see if I could illustrate Madame Sihem without plagiarising her image. I learned early on in my posting history that it isn’t nice to pinch other people’s images (even though I just pinched every single one of those weeble images because when I entered “Weeble” into Morgue File it came back with “?”…) and indeed it might even be fiscally painful if the other person chooses to home in on the pinchee and litigate. I try to use my own images but nothing around here (let’s face it…nothing in all of Tasmania!) is going to replicate a middle aged French cougar so off to Morgue Files I went, all bright and wide eyed and thinking “Brigitte Bardot”…and I ended up with 3 choices…here they are, so you choose which one illustrates Madame Sihem in your mind’s eye (which, let’s face it, is your very own word processor and television and film studio all rolled into one so you had best satisfy it if you want to live an interesting mental life…)…I am favouring the first image BUT you just never know how the wind blows…

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This is no doubt how Ms. Sihem would like to look…

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One of my 3 choices for “French Woman” on Morgue Files…it looks like this is the pigeons choice…

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I think we can pretty much discount Joan of Arc as being in ANY way similar to Ms. Sihem apart from her nationality. Remember this is a “pick your own ending” post so you at least have a couple of choices (some more likely than others 😉 )

I then tried to find something to replicate the “pamplemousse and amande reconfort gateau” (please excuse my terrible misuse of the French vernacular…Mrs. Quinllivin, my long suffering French teacher in high school would be rolling in her grave to hear me abuse it so…) images that Ms. Sihem has so deliciously pasted into her elegant post and Morgue File came up trumps again… I initially entered “Pamplemousse” and got “?” Ok. I then entered Grapefruit and got this…

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Excellent! Grapefruit is a good start. Now let’s just enter Grapefruit cake… I got “?” How about some other form of citrus cake…needs must you know! Ok…let’s try “orange cake”…I got this result…

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Yes…I can see that there is a very small proportion of “orange” on this cake however red is the predominate colour here so no idea how it got lumbered under “orange cake”

And this…

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Indeed this is orange. I think Ms Sihem would rather be tarred and feathered than have this cake featured on her illustrious French food blog!

Not quite up to Ms. Sihem’s gorgeous and entirely scrumptious photography illustrating her wonderful recipes and most probably not something that is going to have anyone racing from Pinterest to her site BUT it is the closest I have come to illustrating my point without getting sued! A good start as far as I am concerned. Again, you choose which one of the above images to insert into your mental word processor (I am assuming it can handle images as well and isn’t from so far back in the ether of last century that it writes in calligraphy!) This post is rapidly degenerating into a sort of “Make your own ending” post where some of you have mental images that aren’t quite congruous to the rest of you. How interesting! Has narf7 stumbled onto a new type of blog post format? I am not sure but for now I am having fun so let’s keep going…let’s see if we can’t find a cake a little more comforting…enter “cake” into the Morgue files vault…I need to first clear something up…what is it that exists in some people that makes them upload every single aspect of their lives for the whole world to see? Some of the “cakes” that have been uploaded by obviously proud photographers (and I use that word MOST loosely 😉 ) are so terrible that I would have binned and banished them from my mind forever let alone hit “upload” and “share”! I just can’t wrap my head around it folks so for a roundup of creative (open source) license let’s be at them Lawrence of Arabia Style…”NO PRISONER’S!!!)….

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This is the best I could do for Lawrence of Arabia. We shall speak no more of this image ok?

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First we have this slightly cake related image…it would seem someone was able to illustrate my daughter Madeline’s early “blue” phase in her baking career. She has completely eclipsed her earlier efforts and is a cake maker to be reckoned with now but that early “blue” phase is going to stay with us all for a long… long time…that and the blue mashed potatoes with the stone…but I digress…this aint what we are after today folks!

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This is the stuff that caterer’s nightmares are made of… 😉 sorry, a small aside but hey, we have all been here! 😉

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Most of we women of a “certain age” would associate the word “cake” with this image. I just don’t think that Ms. Sihem would go for anything as plain and nondescript as this…

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This dry, burned, misshapen excuse for baked goods is what I used to turn out in Home Economics as a young (and frustrated) narf7 late last century when home economics was specifically for girls only and the boys got to tinker around with wood and metal. It is the antithesis of what Ms. Sihem’s blog is all about…please disregard it completely and move onto the next image…

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“Move along…nothing to see here either!” (unless you count the fact that this “cake” appears to be a meatloaf in drag masquerading as cake but it’s probably best to just forget you ever noticed that and go straight to the next image…)

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Aside from being WAY too much cake, this image is somewhat disturbing because it was obviously created by someone who just wasn’t able to get into university to study architecture like they really wanted to and had to fall back on the career path of the masses and head off, tail between their legs, to catering school…

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I can find the plate… but not the cake! This plate is SO what Ms. Sihem would use to enhance her delicious baked goods…I just can’t find the baked goods worthy of placing reverently on its vintage green beauty!

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This slice of cake has all of the lusciousness of a pamplemousse. Let’s just say it appears to be dripping… but mere lusciousness alone can’t illustrate the sheer unmitigated heaven of Ms. Sihems glorious creations…back to the batmobile Robin, we have work to do!

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Too cute…

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Too flowery…

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Too plain…

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There’s that attention hog of a meatloaf trying to steal the limelight again…”I am onto you meatloaf!”…

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Not enough cake…

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And despite the obvious joy that this cake has brought to this man, this is altogether too much cake…

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Too disturbing…

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Too “other” fruity, not enough pamplemousse!

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What the heck! Let’s just decorate 1 cake to last all year. No-one likes fruitcake anyway so we can just wheel it out and get the kudos and put it back into cold storage for the next holiday on the calendar…we could do this for years!

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Let’s just say it is midway between this…

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And this…

And be done with it folks! We shall speak NO more of it! Either way I have been enjoying my early morning French lessons. Who knows, it may be Spanish superlatives next! How about some Latin lusciousness or at the moment I will settle for some Russian Rustic rather than be outside dressed like a weeble being dragged protesting along behind Earl in the frozen tundra’s of Sidmouth. I am all caked out folks. Ms. Sihem has managed to get to the end of my post and despite my most tenacious efforts, remain elusive and enigmatic to most of you. There is a great big world out there cram packed with interesting people and I have decided to head off and do my level best to bypass my lack of linguistic ability by honing in on our culinary differences and adapting them to my baking prowess. Narf7 is going to bake her way around the world! Wish me luck and see you all on Saturday when if this fine weather keeps up, you might just get another glimpse at that massive great walled garden, even if it is only to put up the last wall ;).

A Serendipitous Stromboli for The May 2013 Virtual Vegan Potluck

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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!

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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.

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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?

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Without further ado, here is the recipe…

Serendipity Farm Stromboli

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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18. ENJOY! 🙂

Sundried tomato and walnut pesto

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

Ingredients: –

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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

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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.

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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

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Adapted from “The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook” by Joanne Stepaniak

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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)

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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.

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  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!

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  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

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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…”

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Narf7 loves bread

Hi All,

It’s 3.41am on a Sunday and I just made myself some chocolate pudding. I think I need to clarify something here…the intention wasn’t to deliver myself a bowl of breakfast but a drink. I opened the fridge up this morning and took out my non-dairy milk to make myself my first cup of tea. I opened the cap and took a sniff (a wise thing to do when you make your own milks with a much shorter shelf life) and realised that my non-dairy milk was starting to head for the dark side…not in a serious way, but in enough of a “way” to make my tea curdle. Tea is my early morning institution, it’s like some folk consider their bacon and eggs…their morning toast, their newspaper…it is sacred to me and to have it curdle on me wasn’t an option. I would save my first cup of tea till later in the day when I could make a LOT of noise using my Vitamix.

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Another lovely autumn sunrise on Serendipity Farm. You can see how chilly it is these days but isn’t it pretty?

What to do with my slightly sour scented almond and oat milk that remained? Turn it into a nice big mug of hot carob! I had a container of carob that was interlaced with a bit of raw cacao that the lady in the health food shop had managed to fandangle me into buying (never shop on an empty stomach folks!) and I figured I would just apply the cocoa techniques to the carob/cacao mix. Easy peasy! I tipped 2 tbsp. of carob/cacao mix into my smallest saucepan and I crushed it to a fine powder. I then added an equal amount of the non-dairy milk and I whisked the mix till it was smooth (who likes lumpy cocoa?!) and slowly added the rest of the non-dairy milk and a few scoops of whole date paste (my sweetener of choice) until the mix was nice and smooth and put it on top of the newly ignited Brunhilda and stirred. After about 5 minutes of stirring (Brunhilda stays slowly slumbering overnight ready to wake up at a moment’s notice) I had a pot of brown unctuousness ready to pour into a large mug and enjoy.

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Steve attempting to teach Earl to “stay”…doing good Earl…doing good!

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Bezial “pointing” to a wasp

I was smug! I managed to use up something that wasn’t all that good for much and turned it into a win! That was till I started to pour it into my mug and realised that when you use “almond and OAT” milk to make a drink, and you put it on the stove you end up with chocolate porridge. Don’t get me wrong folks…I am NOT going to waste it! I have a silky smooth form of breakfast oats that I never would have tried before that tastes pretty good but a morning “cuppa” it is not. Oh well…looks like Sunday is going to be an interesting day today! I look forward to exploring its eccentricities but for now I had best get me a spoon and eat my “cocoa”…

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We were getting tired of the possums using this bench to climb up, eat our plants, knock them over and steal the wren and cuckoo shrikes cheese while we slept so we rearranged the area. So far so good…there was still cheese on the window sill this morning!

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Earl teaching me a very valuable lesson…”when we go out…make sure to remember to use the head halter or you aren’t going to be able to walk with Earl and you are going to have to ski down the driveway”…consider this little black duck taught! 😉 In this shot, Earl’s lead is wrapped around the tree in the background so that I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of being dragged down our steep driveway upside down to Steve’s feet at the bottom of the driveway…I don’t think I would have EVER lived that down! 😉 (and he had his new camera with him so you can bet he would have “documented it for posterity” 😉 )

My “cocoa” was such a success that I have started adding it to my regular breakfast line-up. I throw a handful of rolled oats, a few whole almonds (might get round to soaking them someday but for now they are just out of the freezer in their dry state) and a scoop or two of carob mixed with some raw cacao into my Vitamix and process them for a minute till they are like a fine flour. After that, I put them into a saucepan along with a couple of scoops of homemade date paste and start adding water slowly mixing to ensure I don’t have any lumps. After simmering and constantly stirring on the stove I end up with chocolate pudding porridge that appeals to the need for speed, nutrition hunting, comfort food seeking part of me and satisfies all three with great aplomb.

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Maples starting to really colour up and these brachychitons that were almost dead last year appear to be getting a new lease on life after we cleared out the weeds and debris underneath them

The title of today’s post is most fitting because bread was one of my soul foods back in the day. I could eat a whole loaf of fresh white bread slathered with butter, toasted and slathered with butter, made into toasted sandwiches slathered with butter…you get my drift ;). Today I don’t eat bread. I haven’t eaten bread since January when I started using green smoothies to mainline my nutrients and I haven’t ever felt better. Narf7 might love bread but I fear she can’t eat that fluffy white nutritionally defunct version of it anymore. So what can I eat? I can eat homemade good quality whole-wheat or multigrain bread and that’s where Audrey comes into the picture

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A shot of the terrible state of our driveway. It’s VERY lucky that we own a 4 x 4 because I dare say we would have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up if we had anything less!

I got Audrey from Jess of Rabid Little Hippy blogging fame. I have faithfully maintained Audrey, even though of late, she has only been out of the fridge for her 4 day feeding events (that seem to have stretched to weekly feeding events without much protest on her behalf). She has been incredibly faithful in her efforts and whenever I am ready to bake, she wakes up and rises (literally 😉 ) to the occasion. I have a mission. I have been stalking a most wonderful conglomerate of amazing bakers who get together to share the amazing bread that they have been baking called Yeast spotting. If you would like to check it out for yourself and are at all interested in the yeasty path of righteous baking, here’s a linky…

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2013/05/05/yeastspotting-5-5-13/

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Steve took this “shroom’s eye view” shot of the Auld Kirk Church yesterday…just thought you might like to see it from a shroom’s point of view 😉

Each one of those 3 classifications of bread links will open up a plethora of passionate bread makers who are willing to share their magnificent creations with us all. I fell instantly in love with this blog and have been following a few of the bakers that regularly post. Ian, of the wonderful blog Mookie loves Bread, bakes some of the most amazing bread that I have ever seen. Aside from the amazing bread he loves cats and he finds the time to give his amazing bread the most fantabulous names. Who couldn’t love a blog like that? I have been ruminating about wanting to start baking “real bread” for a while now. I decided that as Brunhilda is going to be pretty much on the go 24/7 for our coming 6 – 7 months of Ice age (CHEERS LINNIE! 😉 ) that I may as well use this opportunity of constantly “on” ovens to learn to bake really good loaves of bread. I have been commenting on Ian’s blog for a while now as I drool over the endless line of gorgeousness that he produces on a regular basis and he has kindly offered to assist me with my baking processes should I run into any problems…who am I kidding! I am GOING to run into problems! 😉 Why start with the basic stuff? If you are narf7, you have a built in perfection valve and Ian appears to have that very same perfection valve because his recipes leave no room for omissions. A great place to start for a beginner and so I have decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to make Ian’s amazing “Kamut-Turkey Whole Wheat Spelt Tomato Sour Dough Bread” as my very first proper loaf of bread. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out…

http://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/kamut-turkey-whole-wheat-spelt-tomato-sour-dough-bread/

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“Is it for me? is it? Please? Pretty Please?…”

I started preparing this loaf of bread 2 days ago. As someone who isn’t naturally patient (I can hear my children laughing out loud there 😉 ), this 3 day process to churn out a loaf of bread, certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think next year I am going to take up the word “patience” and run with it (or maybe “walk slowly with it” is more to the point 😉 ) but for now, good old impatient narf7 is going to have to muster up the serenity to go slow. I have the mashed potato ready for this recipe. I am raring to go and I can’t wait to see if I can bake anything like the gorgeous loaf that Ian made in this tutorial. I am prepared for disaster but my optimistic side says “go for it narf7!” so I am :o). Wish me luck folks. Today…I bake!

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Steve’s new paramour and accoutrements 😉

While I was rabidly hoarding recipes from the Yeast spotting site I came across another amazing blog. Zita, from Baking Badly does anything BUT bake badly. This young guy is a most amazing baker and his site is a study in list making, perfection and appealed to my inner experimental baker and my inner list maker at the very same time. How could you resist bread called “Pregels” a cross between pretzels and bagels…and not only does he show us how to make them, he perfects his recipe over 3 posts! Here’s the first pregel recipe should you want to drool all over your computer screen…

http://bakingbadly.com/2013/03/31/spiced-sourdough-pregels-pretzels-bagels/

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Steve’s “Old School” cameras and his new baby

The next 2 posts after this one are both about the pregel perfection process although if I could turn out pregels as amazing looking as Zita’s very first batch I would be entirely satisfied and would be baking them for the entire neighbourhood all puffed up with baking pride ;). After initially thinking that Zita was a girl and commenting as such, he forgave me my stupidity and has decided to help me through my sourdough stumbling’s anyway. Cheers Zita, you are a truly kind blogger to be sharing your amazing talent with us all. I think my next sourdough journey is going to be a nice big batch of pregels :o)

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Steve’s speed camera. He plans on raising some valuable (elusive) funds on Serendipity Farm by accepting bribe money from upset speedsters 😉

I am a camera widow. Since we started our new course Steve has been making rumblings about cameras. He is a camera buff from WAY back and it would seem our little Fuji S5700 wasn’t giving up the goods enough for Stevie-Boy. We recently got given a pittance by the government in a vain attempt to encourage us to vote for our current prime minister. Note the distinct lack of capital letters for such an esteemed position. I did that on purpose…sigh…I don’t even want to THINK about voting in 3 elections over the coming year and will probably be registering my very first ever donkey vote in my voting history because there just isn’t any candidate worthy of my vote :o(. The dribble of bribe money did, however, allow us to start a small side saving venture that we have been adding to each fortnight. Steve has been avidly studying camera review websites in an effort to isolate the very best entry level SLR camera possible for our purposes and last week stumbled over an amazing deal from Harvey Normans. I am not going to promote this shop here in my post or blog aside from this singular mention. Gerry Harvey is a racists, a bigot, and a consumerist money monger who I would rather drown than promote BUT his online shop managed to make Steve “SQUEE” last week and our carefully hoarded camera savings were able to get us a new Canon EoS 1100D a lot quicker than we thought that they would.

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One of Steve’s first photo’s taken with his new camera…note the tree in the background that STILL hasn’t fallen down!

The new baby arrived on our doorstep yesterday. Delivered by a courier, not a stalk, and the poor man stood there bewildered whilst Steve signed his bit of paper and the dogs gave him a magnificent rendition of the Halleluiah chorus from above on the deck all in barks.  After the poor man drove his van back down our approximation of a driveway (runnels included for free) Steve raced inside and fondled the large box that the camera came in. I could see that faraway look that men get when they get a new toy and knew instantly that Steve had left the building. I dare say he won’t be back for the next week. He disappeared outside with his new baby as soon as the battery charged and even read an online manual (the real one had writing that was too small…glasses time methinks Stevie-Boy!) so that should tell all of my female dear constant readers how serious this new love really is and he even found out where the “Q” button was…I have NO idea why he would think I could care less where the “Q” button was but it was apparently a small triumph…

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Steve’s new camera adds a whole new dimension to our exploration of photography. We haven’t got the foggiest idea about how to use it but you can be sure that Steve is on the case as I type this. By the end of the month it will be putty in his hands 😉

Watching a 48 year old man springing off into the vestigial jungle of Serendipity Farm with a large camera around his neck is like waving goodbye to your last child as they head out of the house…FREEDOM! I know that I can do whatever I like for the next week…Steve won’t care. He will pretend to care; he will mutter vaguely positive things whenever I ask him about anything but he is gone…away with the camera pixies in photographic heaven for the duration of time that it takes to absorb this new toy in its entirety. That might take some time folks. This one does all different kinds of things. It beeps and takes 4 or more photos a second (you get to choose) and will perform sequences of actions seamlessly and can be programmed. This camera is his new best mate and he was holding it tenderly on the sofa last night. I headed off to bed and I swear he was talking to it…should I be alarmed? Nope. I know he will be back when the novelty wears off 😉

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The new camera took this photo of our fairy grotto in these alarming colours today. Steve didn’t fiddle with it, it was on automatic and who knows why it decided to add these vibrant greens to what is actually somewhat dull at the moment. Who cares…doesn’t it look pretty? We are enjoying pretending that we actually live in Ireland 😉

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This is the actual colouring on Serendipity Farm at the moment. That large brush pile in the background is just that…a large brush pile waiting for a Guy. The collection of wood in the foreground on the right hand side is some of my driftwood that I have found just opposite this area on the riverbank

So in the throes of baking, kefiring, making various non-dairy milks and working through our latest tangled mass of studies I might love you and leave you there folks. I have so much to do today that I am sacrilegiously thinking of only half reading my RSS Feed Reader today and just blasting straight into the “Doing” bit of my day early…” sacre bleu!” I haven’t even filled my allotted 2800 words! This Saturday I will be posting my entry into The Virtual Vegan Potluck. Hopefully you all stick around to see what culinary creation narf7 has decided to enter into the fray and my own little personal twist. Saturday is also the day of the enormous progressive garage sale and Steve and I will be off and hunting nice and early. We will take the dogs and will walk them at Paper beach. Steve will be tenderly clutching his new baby and I will have old faithful, now officially “mine” so expect a LOT of pictures of the event. I will post about it next Wednesday and you will be able to tell the photos that Steve took…not by the quality, but more by his desire to use as many of the inbuilt features in a single photo as possible. Pfft…Aquarius’s and their artistic liens! 😉 See you on Saturday folks or if you choose to bypass the Veganese, see you Wednesday, hopefully loaded up with bargains and a wonderful pictorial trail of our adventure :o)

Forget the fast lane…we live Life on the fringes

Hi All,

I am living a curious life at the moment. Getting up at 2am most days puts me into a strange bracket of insomniacs and shift workers but I am here by choice. I get 5 hours to myself in the quiet of the early morning and my mind works amazingly well at this time of day. The downside is that I am going to bed at 7.30pm. I do, however, sleep the sleep of the dead now and good luck trying to wake me before 2am unless you are a large dog trying to navigate the tangle of bodies in our bed and you have an amazing ability to hone in on my stomach each and every time…I get to listen to entire albums via YouTube…several of them each morning and I get to clear out my 100+ posts by 6am and get time to stoke Brunhilda, get the kettle boiling, twiddle my thumbs in glorious, luxurious blissful solitude and contemplate the day ahead.

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This discoloured badly gestetnered piece of paper from 43 years ago contains my one claim to scholastic fame. I…along with my cousin Helen, in grade 2 got top of the class for some reason or other. Probably turning up every day, but Steve found this on FB from my old school and I am wielding it aloft like my own personal little Excalibur to prove that back in 1970 I sure knew how to rock a classroom!

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This little Rhododendron was almost dead last year when we pulled all of the blackberries out of it and freed it up. It is rewarding us by flowering all over the place 🙂 “You are welcome little Rhodo :)”

Saturday is a busy one now. I recently decided to make Saturday “cleaning day” and while I was organising, I thought…let’s make it baking day as well. I will make my vat of soup de jour on Saturdays and then I get Sunday as a bonus free day, a real “weekend” day where I can choose what I want to do. The weather is getting colder here in Tasmania although the days are lovely with blue skies and a crisp urgency about them that makes you throw yourself into whatever it is that you are doing outside in the first place. My own personal urgency involves wanting to get our food forest initiated and that involves a lot of background planning. How big do they grow? How much room do they need? Do you need 2 of them for fruit/nut set? Do they prefer the company of specific other plants? How to create guilds…prevent the natives from scarfing them whole…keep the moisture in the soil around them…make them somewhat self-sufficient over the long hot summer…lots and lots of planning to ensure that these little babies get the best chance to grow, fruit and keep on doing so for years to come.

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This is how you make narf7 happy…you let her take cuttings from your prize chilli tree, your peppino’s and your pineapple sage :). “Cheers Jen…and sorry I didn’t have today’s post ready at 7.30am when you texted… ;)”

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Here’s some parsley plants and lots of leeks that Jenny gave us to plant in our veggie garden. “Cheers Jen they love Serendipity Farm :)”

Autumn also makes me want to cook more. Brunhilda is on most of the time and so her basking warmth is available whenever I want to cook whatever I want. What a luxury! I can simmer beans on her cooktop for hours on end and can dry things out in her warming ovens. I can use the proofing shelf that Steve built over her to warm and to ferment and to raise bread. Autumn is a reminder to get used to living indoors more. There are also lots of apples and pears everywhere in Tasmania at the moment. We have a large orchard up the road from us and I buy 4kg bags of apples for $4 and apples and pears are now my fruit of choice. Fresh ripe pears are heavenly and I have visions of almond based tart pastry layered with rich custard and layered with toffee pears… I could care less about cooking in summer but autumn reignites that passion inside me and curiously, we in the South and our Northern based friends tend to be eating similar food…crossover food I call it. Soon they will be eating and posting about salads and ice-cream and I will be thinking soups, stews, and casseroles and will only be thinking of ice-cream as something to adorn something delicious, sweet and hot from the oven.

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Earl distracting me by trying to eat the duster while Bezial helps himself to the treat that I was using to get them to behave for this shot…sigh…

I am thinking of picketing the local electricity providers office in Launceston. I don’t usually do anything like this unless I am well miffed. I am well miffed. Today I woke up and rolled over and took a peek under my hot water bottle cover. Not something most people would do early in the morning but my hot water bottle cover doesn’t contain a hot water bottle, rather it sits over our overly bright alarm clock L.E.D. display and should one want to see what time it is, one surreptitiously lifts the corner to take a peek and as I am the only “one” who cares less what time it is when it is dark it was “me” doing the surreptitious lifting this morning. After blearily ascertaining that it was indeed 3.30am I turned off the alarm (set for 4am, wouldn’t want to sleep in…) and grabbed my clothes that I set out ready to be clutched in the dark and headed out to where Brunhilda was waiting for me to reignite her smouldering embers.

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot :)

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot 🙂

I got out to the kitchen and turned on the middle light. We have so many lights in the kitchen/living room area that we could have a disco should one of us decide to turn them all on and off at varying intervals and the other one gyrate maniacally. A bit of a sad disco to be sure but “whatchagonnadoeh?” When there are only 2 of you, you do what you do! After turning on the light I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes when I read “1.30am”…”1.30am? NO!”…I then checked the mobile phone and sure enough it was 1.30am! Mobile phones apparently don’t like where kitchen clocks are prone to it and bedroom alarm clocks are positively pathological about bending the truth! What happened?! What happened was a cold spell that resulted in hail storms yesterday, a government hell bent on propping up its arm of the electricity company that it holds a major shareholding interest in by pushing electric methods of heating your home, cooking your food etc. as “clean and green” and everyone deciding to use their reverse cycle air conditioners and heat pumps at once in Launceston with little regard to those of us out in the country who end up copping the brown outs that result from a spike in power use…sigh…

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Another lovely shot taken whilst walking the dogs today in Deviot

Next time I am in Launceston I am going to be picketing the office. I will have a suitably vague placard (my motto is “make them work for it!”) saying something like “I Don’t Like Brown” or “Aurora hates Narf7” and will most probably be carted off for not applying for a permit to protest or because Aurora twitches whenever anyone stands outside their “clean green energy” office for more than 5 minutes because people might question why there is someone protesting and Tasmanian’s love to stand in queues…they are used to bad service. That’s how these companies have gotten away with substandard service for all of these years…the natives have been bred to just “accept”…well not THIS little black duck! “Placards for all and brown-outs for none!” Would YOU vote for me? There isn’t anyone else to choose from! I might even get into office in the coming elections purely because I was the only candidate that no-one had ever heard of! 😉 Might be onto a winner there! At least 4 years in office with a pollies salary doing sweet bugger all would get us a heck of a lot paid for on Serendipity Farm…heck…we could have a wind farm with what those lazy buggers earn! 😉

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This is what happens when you tell a dog to go straight to his master…sigh…

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A selection of cos lettuce, other lettuce and silver beet that Jenny gave us along with the Parsley, leeks and cuttings. Get picking out those tiles girl! 🙂

So here narf7 sits at 3.43. She has been up since 1.30. Has had her first cup of tea and is already contemplating her second and will soon be contemplating her navel as she is just about to run out of RSS Feed Reads to read and Bezial assumed her warm spot in the bed back at 1.30 when she stupidly chose to believe the bedroom alarm (FOOL ME ONCE!) and he took the chance to warm his hide 3 hours earlier than usual…sigh…oh well…let’s see what I can think up here…I am ever resourceful and “bored” isn’t a word that you are EVER going to hear come out of this narfs mouth. I have a copy of “Enjoy – new veg” by Nadine Abensur that I took out of the library recently. An amazing tome of gorgeous vegetarian Middle Eastern cookery and something that I am taking brief moments of my day to type out over the next 3 weeks. I might get to type out a few more recipes. I might stick on the headphones and watch a few “The Actor’s Studio” episodes from some of the greats. I watched Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s sterling efforts the other day and am thinking about Robert Downy Jr. Anyone else think that he is gorgeousness personified?

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A goat that we saw on our walk today. This one’s for Christi 🙂

What else could I do? I could bake some biscuits. Not the “biscuits” that you Americans call our scones but the biscuits that you Americans call “cookies”. I completely forgot to make any for our friend Jennies partner Glen. I want to thank him for allowing Steve to get a load of wood from their 50 acre property out in the sticks. The pile of steel on the property has his name on it but he seems to want to leave it where it is (too late Glen, we moved it! 😉 ). I will be setting up Jennie’s phone to receive regular updates from Serendipity Farm in the near future. She can lay in bed at 1.30 as the consummate insomniac that she is and can commiserate with me for my brown out rude awakenings. What else can I do? Well I can have breakfast…I can go hunting online for solutions to the world and Serendipity Farms problems…I can read a book…I can put some more wood on Brunhilda and stand in front of her and bask in the luxury that is our simple life here on Serendipity Farm and I can just enjoy being me right here right now :o)

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Here I am feeding another goat some forbidden grass…this goat was chained to a tyre…good idea for Earl…where do we get tractor tyres? 😉

Here’s something to force a page break on this post. Even though this is Vimeo, and I would rather eat my own foot than wait for it to load, here I am both linking to a short animated video AND nibbling my extremities…I think I need to share this with you all…it’s wonderful :o)…

http://vimeo.com/65107797

And THAT is why I own a dog :o). His name is Bezial…they haven’t been brave enough to make an animation about Earl yet…aside from borrowing “Earl” from Rocko’s Modern Life as a close approximation (I would be the “Mrs Bighead” in that equation 😉 ) I can’t think of another dog that would do him justice! Refreshed after that little break? If not…you should actually “watch” it…it really is good, short, animated, has a message AND a very catchy little song that runs through it in Italian so you can pretend that you are one of the hipsters while you watch it…

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This is a HUGE Granny Smith apple that was inside the Heritage Apple and Pear orchard in Deviot. The fruit is free to anyone who would like it…this one was delicious 😉

That’s better :o) wouldn’t it be great if life came with little interludes like that at regular intervals? You could just wait out whatever calamitous thing was happening in your life at any given time, whatever was weighing heavy and pendulous on your thought processes because you would know that at precisely an hour and 45 minutes into the calamity, a nice little interlude would come along and break up the stress and give you a breather from the situation and from yourself. There are plenty of little interludes folks, you just have to go hunt for them and take advantage of them and actually look outside yourself occasionally and “notice” them. Most of them are short, simple and to the point and will do you almost as much good as a good laugh will :o)

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Before any of you say ANYTHING rude…this is a lovely little first of autumn mushroom that I fell in love with today 🙂

I just had another double take moment whilst perusing and saving recipes from my (now) 392 RSS Feed Read blogs… to be fair, they aren’t all food blogs but about 75% of them are and I actually have blogs that I can’t even read sent to me. I like to challenge my mind and I head off to Google Translate for a wonderful recipe and a good laugh. I saw the latest offering from “Cake time”, a wonderful Polish food blog that I follow and immediately wanted to know what the orange sweet curd like layer was that was sandwiching together some lovely looking sponge. I headed over to my old mate “Google” and whacked in the unfathomable recipe (no…I haven’t yet gotten around to grasping the basic premise of the Polish vernacular. That’s next on my list…) to be utterly surprised by this… Here is the name of the cake…

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You got that folks? Here is the translation…

“Pooh Cake”…hmm…appetising? Did I just find out what that “orange” layer REALLY WAS! I read further (one eye between my index and middle finger with my face covered just in case…) to find that the blog author was talking about “Pooh” in respect to “Mr Winnie The” himself! A greater sigh of relief at 5.12am I doubt you are going to hear folks! Feel free to head over to Cake Time and marvel at that gorgeous orange layer to your heart’s content…knock yourselves out! Hey…what the heck…why don’t you whack the recipe into Google Translate if you have a few minutes to spare, you might end up with a great recipe and a good laugh to boot. You don’t get those opportunities every day folks 😉

http://caketime.blox.pl/2013/05/Ciasto-kubusiowe.html

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I decided to take a photo of the outside of the Apple and Pear orchard. This is what gave us our idea to fully enclose our veggie garden. Our garden will be bigger than this.

I am back listening to early morning music again. It’s either that, or “Chicken” and “Stock” will have me outside barefoot in the moonlight cashing in my vegan ticket whilst tearing their heads off with my bare vegan hands…yes folks…music is vegan diazepam. Today I am listening to Ben Folds latest gorgeous offering. “Gorgeous” might not be the right word…quirky, manic, and poignant and simply “right”…if you can get hold of “The sound of the life of the mind” do yourselves a favour and grab a pair of headphones…let the rooster’s crow, who cares! You won’t hear them 😉 he is one of those incredibly talented people whose sum is SO much more than its separated components. I dare say there are 4 ex-wives out there that would LOVE to separate Ben Folds into his relevant components but for now he is still whole and producing the most incredibly heartfelt and honest lyrics I have heard in ages.

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One of the best things about autumn is the plethora of gorgeous fungi that spring up overnight and disappear just as fast…narf7 is a fungi nut and doesn’t care who knows it! 🙂

If you are game here’s a great song I particularly love from the reformed Ben Fold’s 5 album… “Draw a Crowd” please note there are parts of this song that might offend some of you (but I doubt it 😉 ) be warned folks! 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rBy_ZoJl5M

Is it just me or does Conan Obrien look like Gumby?! I listened twice and now am being knocked sideways by the incredible voice of Ellie Goulding an amazingly ethereal singer from the U.K. Check out “Hanging on” from her sterling album “Halcyon”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLbRpObZFGQ

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When we have treats we have amazingly well behaved dogs…as soon as the treats are guzzled, they are back to ignoring us, pulling like tractors and dragging us down the road

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The blackmailing hens won 😦 There are 9 eggs here. This was 9 weeks worth of eggs for 5 months till we conceded and started to let them out to wreak havoc on our garden again…now we get this many eggs in 2 days. I guess them’s the breaks folks! Chickens 1 narf7 nil 😦

Amazing isn’t she? Reminds me of an elven Sarah McLachlan. Music transcends so many things and I am a real believer that what you put into yourself, is what you become. Listen to wonderful lyrics, immerse your inner “you” with beautiful, poignant, real, heartfelt music, eat gorgeous things and balance them out with food for your body and soul. Don’t put anything inside you, by choice, that you wouldn’t give to your children and remember, when life is busy sucking, which it tends to do at least once on a daily basis for most people, these little moments of pure pleasure, of complete satisfaction and of comforting soul uplifting are what is going to get you through those abject moments of irritation and pain. Life is constantly trying to balance itself out…to reach its own nirvana…nature does it in cycles and we are part of that cycle whether we think we have made it to the top of the heap or not and if we listen to the small beautiful moments, if we seek out and fill our minds and our bodies and our souls and our spirits with amazement and happiness and pure unadultered pleasure we are balancing our lives and giving ourselves inner strength. See what spills out of me after a few stanzas of Ellie Goulding? 😉 Here are a few pictures I had handed to me in an early morning post this morning. I love this blog AND it’s an Aussie blog! Ever felt like packing everything up and buggering off? ;)…

http://frommoontomoon.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/rolling-homes-handmade-houses-on-wheels.html

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“WOO-HOO!” Guess where we will be next Saturday! We have a race with our neighbours around the circuit and try to best them every year. So far its 1 all… its up to Serendipity Farm to pull off a blinder of a bargain this year…wish us luck!

See you on Wednesday folks. Next Saturday it’s my entry for The Virtual Vegan Potluck so if you open your post and think “we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!” you would be right! But it’s only for 1 post guys…humour me 😉

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?

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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

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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

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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.

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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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Preparing the fruit to be washed ready to turn into jam

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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

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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”

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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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.

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Steve using a romantic fuzzy halo around his Monte Carlos

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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)

It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

Ben Folds King of the hipsters…

Hi All,

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

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

Steve’s Secret Recipe Chilli Con Carne

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 chopped onions

2 cloves crushed garlic (Steve uses about 5)

500g lean minced beef

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 stick cinnamon

A good shake of Worcestershire sauce

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

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 x 400g can of drained red kidney beans

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

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

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

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

My homemade pasta sauce involves the following: –

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

1 tbsp. olive oil

About 3 cloves crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

Yellow American style mustard

Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Bbq sauce (bottled)

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.foxnews.com/recipe/honey-boo-boos-sketti-3

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRrIbLQsRDg

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

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

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

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

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

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

Cheers for this photo Wikipedia 🙂

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I recently discovered a blog http://truebeautyalways.com/2013/03/17/earthen-vessels/  that is amazingly well written. I love the way that the blogger is able to communicate ideas and the fact that she looks a bit like my niece Tahlia is an added bonus :o). The post that the link will take you to is a wonderful post about taking her children to the river in the heat and a wonderful story about how to tell the truth whilst avoiding a disaster if the truth got out, an old Quaker story. I love the way that this girl tells stories and weaves her words together to play with your mind and recreate beautiful scenes in your head. I guess my mix of blogs revolve around the interesting in all facets of life. I am not interested in mainstream unless it has something special and most of the blogs that I follow are beautiful examples of “special” in the nicest possible way :o). Here’s another one that I just started following…

http://www.lovelygreens.com/2013/03/tree-planting-at-childrens-centre-farm.html

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

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

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

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

frans

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3jCFeCtSjk

“How’s the Serenity?”

Hi All,

To anyone unfamiliar with the wonderfully quirky Aussie movie “The Castle” (and let’s face it, if you live outside Australia, what are the odds you WOULD be familiar with it…) have been missing out on a peek inside our Aussie ethos. If you can find a copy of this movie, watch it with a beer in one hand and a sense of humour ready and willing to go…you won’t be disappointed :o). If you can’t find it, check out this trailer for one of the most quintessentially optimistic “Aussie” views on life that has ever been documented and you can get a fly on the wall look at the “Aussie” condition. A sort of David and Goliath tale with an undertow of antipodean joy…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prnQLmVg5V8

We are starting to feel a bit guilty about still having our Christmas tree fully decorated in the lounge room but are using the excuse that we only put it up late in the season to our advantage…Earl is doing his best to shred our decorative pine cones all over the floor to give me the dual happiness of exercise and compost dry carbon material and will most probably start on the actual decorations if we don’t pack them up ready for Christmas 2013. We started a new compost heap…although “heap” seems a somewhat glorious word for a ring of weldmesh plonked over a pole to prevent the wallabies and possums from log rolling it down to the front gate. We have to put weldmesh over the top of it as well or the possums climb down into the compost and hand out the good stuff to their mates on the outside. Australian possums are like U.S. racoons…all that is missing are the masks (and Earl wears that form them). They are truly gregarious little creatures but their joy at our obvious stupidity can wear seriously thin at times…we lost an entire nectarine tree full of white nectarines thanks to forgetting to protect it with netting this year. It’s our own fault and the possums took great delight in taking a bite from each unripe fruit. It’s a game of cat and mouse here on Serendipity Farm and the closest thing that we have to mice, now that the ferals eat everything small and furry, are the bandicoots that thump around and dig little divots out of the area between the house and the veggie garden that are just big enough to stop the wheelbarrow short in its tracks and render your lower portions bruised and your temper flared. Living with nature and the local wildlife is like a waltz in black…you know you are going to have to do it but you put it off till the last moment. We had to throw a heavy sheet of weldmesh (for once I thank you for your need to hoard dad…) over the top of our bean crop as the possums had not only trampolined their way across the protective bird netting over the top of them, but were using their little grubby hands to reach into the top of the netting and pinch everything green (including the tips of the bean plants) within their questing digits reach. I can’t say that I can really blame them…our veggie garden is a little oasis of tastiness that they can probably sniff out for a mile but its “OURS” you guys…we work hard to grow it and we are going to work hard to keep it! The weldmesh stops the possums from climbing up and stealing with impunity although when I was watering yesterday I noticed that one of the tassels from the top of one of our corn plants had been snapped off…possum frustration knows no bounds! Fran 1, possums nil! 😉

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If you look really hard you can see the little eggplant flowers on my eggplants

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Remember Bert, the straighlaced pigeon fancier straight man to Sesame Streets Ernie? This photo is a “Where’s Bert” moment…

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Note the large section of weldmesh over the bean plants…the things we have to do to stop our little ambidextrous native mates!

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Here’s the reason why we had to put the weldmesh on top of the bean bed…note the lovely lush beany leaves on the left…note the distinct lack of beany greenness on the right…sigh…

Steve is out floating around on the river actually catching fish! How do I know that? Because he phoned me up and told me! This time he took his binoculars out with him and is having just as much fun looking at things as he is fishing. Bezial and Earl will get fish for their tea, the ferals can fight over the gizzards and Steve can have that U.K. special “fish supper” that he lusts after…all is well on Serendipity Farm :o). It’s gone from a heatwave to rain today. Yesterday we sweat our way through 30+ and today it’s grey and a bit cold. I don’t mind, today we walk in Exeter, we post off all of the spoons that Steve made recently to their intended recipients and we get to go to the Exeter thrift shop to see if there is anything new. A series of possibilities will eventuate…possible photo futures, possible shoulder dislocation (Earl didn’t get a walk yesterday and today’s walk is somewhat late thanks to Steve pootling/floating about in his “tinny” with his thermos of coffee and his cheese “sarnies” catching fish for all his is worth and probably not coming in till they stop biting…), possible thrifty frugal purchases and possible happiness that those spoons are FINALLY on their way. I love possibilities. I have been hurling blogs out of my rss feed reader and filling the gaps that they left instantly with other blogs. I seem to be choosing more and more unusual and eccentric blogs as I do…I tossed a Polish cooking blog (in Polish) in today…they make amazing things out of cake and biscuits and Google Translate is my new bestest friend…I found a couple who have a sustainable living blog who showed me how to cover my fridge in blackboard paint and make it my own personal shopping list (if they can tell me how to remember to put the things that I NEED on my shopping list on the board then I will be a happy little alternative camper…), I also found a scrumptiously creative geeky blog from the U.K. where they showed me how to make a set of random event invention die. Yes…just like I said it “random event invention die”…I throw them in the air and suddenly I become creative to the max! I no longer procrastinate around in my kitchen looking into the fridge for creative solutions to my hunger and ending up holding a bag of uncooked rice in my hot little hand and due to my lack of creative nonce, finding myself eating said raw rice out of the bag rather than do anything with it…possibilities folks…and plenty of them…you just have to go hunting and there they are

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Steve has been chatting to seasoned fisherfolk out on the river and was put onto these little babies (most probably they took pity on him for trying to bait up with sweetcorn!)…

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Add a few more customised river boat fishing accoutraments and suddenly the possibility of fish catching increase exponentially…

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22 fish! Steve had fish for tea, Bezial had fish for tea, Earl had meat for tea (he decided that he doesn’t like fish…) and I…I get to see my feet from my head! What more could a girl want eh? 😉

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Not fish, but linked in a round-about way…these are muscat grape vines that struck and are going to be cossetted for a bit to get them happy and then they will be planted out with the eventuality of producing some grapes…then wine…and then Steve can have wine with his fish! A bit of a convaluted pathway but we got there in the end 🙂

I planted a bag full of garlic that had sprouted out into the veggie garden and we heavily fortified the bean crop to stop the possums reaching their greedy little (almost opposable) thumbs in to grasp handfuls of bean foliage as far down as their questing little digits could go. We also stretched out the bird netting that we used to fortify the veggie garden in the first place as tight as a drum so that the wallabies can’t hurl themselves at it bodily taking little wallaby sized mouthfuls of the tender greens that inevitably protrude…what with the possums bouncing about like Olympic trampolinists on the top of the veggie gardens and the wallabies going all “strong-arm tactics” on the sides the poor veggie garden was starting to suffer. Steve did our usual fortnightly shopping yesterday and on the way home he dropped in to check out some craft wood that had been listed for sale up on a local noticeboard. He picked up some lovely pieces of timber and will be making some amazing spoons soon (when he has finished catching his weights worth of fish that is)…he had been getting tired of catching “bugger all” (a fishing term that means …”bugger all”…) and decided to get tricky. He prized my fingers from the mouse and took over the P.C. to do a bit of research about “rigs” and “river fishing” and all things “catch fish – eat fish”. He then picked up all sorts of accoutrements from the nearest K-Mart and a boat rod from the local large fishing/boating shop and some special scented lures that are practically guaranteed to catch you fish and you know what? It worked! “Bugger all” turned into “15!” by 7am this morning.

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A Cornus capitata tree on Serendipity Farm with its own little occupant. We didn’t know what this tree was until we saw this flower…horticulture pays off!

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Our little Stapelia gigantea that we smuggled back from the Melbourne Flower Show in 2010 as a bare rooted cutting has finally decided to flower!

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An interesting conundrum…this little hand powered paper shredder cost $4 from K-Mart…we purchased it so that we can finely shred paper to put into our compost heaps (that are springing up exponentially all over Serendipity Farm like hives on an allergy sufferer…) however the irony didn’t escape me that I was purchasing something in order to allow me to recycle things…$4 well spent? I don’t know for sure yet but it certainly gives paper a run for it’s money, it gives my right arm a bit of a workout and it is a lot of fun 🙂

Steve and I were sitting on the side of the deck looking through the railings looking at the river at sunset last night (as you do) and talking about how glad we were that we moved to Tasmania. We could have been still living in Albany Western Australia but for Steve’s decision to “go for it!” when dad asked us if we would like to move here. I would have stayed in W.A. in a heartbeat if Steve had decided that he didn’t want to move. Sometimes taking a bit of a risk (even for 2 worry-warted hippies like us) is absolutely, positively worth it. I HATE change…I am a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to forging ahead and blazing trails. I like to wander about a bit and familiarise myself with a concept before I commit and jumping in with both feet before I have Googled it isn’t my ethos. “Slow and steady wins the race”…”Slowly slowly catchy monkey”… not “Last one in is a…” curiously Steve isn’t one for racing off waving his arms about like windmills either. We both have a degree of restraint when it comes to making instant decisions. We are list makers, weighter uppers’ and careful considers and Steve’s quick decision to move here was obviously out of the ether and most definitely side left to his usual mental mechanics. Our lives wouldn’t have been as rich, as meaningful or as colourful as they are now. I have learned so very much by having to live a frugal and sustainable life out in the sticks that I can’t imagine that I would recognise my West Australian self should I meet her in an alternate universe (let’s not talk about the quantum physics of that statement or rips in the time/space continuum…). I have really learned that happiness comes from the processes that you choose to take part in, rather than your material circumstances.

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Check out some of our tomato futures

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A little bit closer to future enjoyment…

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“Tonight we dine!” :o)

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We aren’t the only ones dining…

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The little sods have been pruning the tips of our tomato plants for us in the night!

I am going a bit cross-eyed here…I have one eye on my typing and one on the word count. I have been trying to deliver shorter more succinct posts and have been falling woefully short. I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year but choose to be a “Doer” and I am learning and applying Pilates to my life, I am propagating edibles on a mass scale to really get that edible food forest going, I will be planting out last year’s edibles en masse and I will continue to learn, Learn LEARN everything that I can and share it here. I had a bit of a think about where I want this blog to go and decided that I am most happy with my dear constant readers and anyone who wants to come along for the ride. I don’t want to compete with statistics no matter how competitive my nature is (DOWN FRAN!) and I want to deliver concise and poignant posts with the positivity of good humour. No resolutions but a bucket-load of possibilities folks and hopefully you will all want to stay along for the ride…Happy hump day and see you all Saturday :o)

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I have added a couple of tyres that have now been planted out with garlic that had sprouted…”Waste not, want not”…I hear you Grandma! 🙂

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The things that we have to do to prevent the wallabies from eating our garlic…they adore anything allium and will munch them all down to ground level if they are not protected.

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Some of the beautiful wood that Steve picked up cheaply from a fellow wood lover who is moving. There might be a future spoon draw in some of this!

Just a quick little aside…I have decided to accompany Somer from the wonderful blog site http://vedgedout.com/ in her green smoothie week for the beginning of the year along with and a throng of veganauts from across the globe …nothing like a bit of a clean out, both external AND internal to make you feel all brand new for the New Year. She has a PDF free to download on her site with the green smoothie recipes and accompanying soup and salad meals. To be honest, the “allowed” food in this 1 week program is more than what “I” eat in a day and I eat a LOT so aside from a few kilos and a nice squeaky clean intestinal tract…what have you got to lose? Come and join us (does that sound creepy or WHAT! 😉 ) and give your gizzards a bit of a spring clean for the New Year. I might just share what I have been eating on Saturday because most of it is coming from the veggie garden and I like to share :o)

Hava nagila!

Hi All,

Aside from being a most catchy song that I have NO idea what the words are and would no doubt make a fistful of Jewish people collapse hysterically laughing on the floor should I EVER be stupid enough to attempt to sing my erstwhile version in their close proximity, the name Hava Nagila means “Let us rejoice”! I have SO much to rejoice that I often feel guilty for having the odd whinge about how rocky our soil is and how many weeds we have here on Serendipity Farm. I just got back from a visit to my daughter’s home in Launceston. I had a really great time with them both and we spent a large proportion of the time that we had together cooking. My daughters are amazing cooks. Neither of them has ever studied technique or worked in the industry but they are very adventurous and tend to pair some very interesting ingredients that I would never think could possibly work together but incredibly…they do! The first night we had chilli. I had vegan chilli made with some ingredients that I had brought along with me (oh ye of little faith! 😉 ) and it was delicious. I think there is still a bowl of it in the girl’s fridge and I am sure that they will find something creative to do with it. On night 2 we had an amazing feast. The girls have recently become enamoured with all things Korean and had purchased some Korean cookbooks and some mixed cookbooks with Korean recipes in them. We decided to have a go at some of the recipes and ended up spending a marathon 5 hours preparing and cooking 12 dishes that were all amazing and that teamed up to make an amazing feast. We made cucumber salads, spinach side dishes, 3 different kinds of “pancakes” ranging from a very normal pancake type batter topped with spring onions (which we couldn’t buy at the local shop and had to sub the next best thing…leek…so from hereon in, wherever I specify “spring onion” you will have to insert “leek” 😉 ) and chillies through to a very inventive recipe using dried split green peas (which we couldn’t find in their local small supermarket on the day we wanted them but found the day after…go figure!) and rice cooked together then pureed and combined with various finely sliced vegetables and cooked like pancakes. The girls eat meat and so made some rice balls filled with smoked salmon and avocado which are technically not Korean and were based on a Japanese recipe BUT they were amazing and I had oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger and avocado in mine. They also had some marinated Korean chicken drumsticks and a pork dish that I can’t quite remember what it was but it looked good. We ended this marathon degustatory event with some simple but incredibly delicious yeasted pancakes that looked more like doughnuts without holes and that were stuffed with crushed palm sugar, roasted peanuts and cinnamon and that were amazing.

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Steve says that this truck is a transformer…the only thing that I can see it transforming is an empty space into a space full of wood chips…

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Another “Steve” shot…apparently this is ANOTHER transformer…I think we are being overrun by them!

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Right behind a new estate in Exeter are the remains of an old abandoned orchard. Steve, Bezial, Earl and I went exploring today and found all different kinds of apples, pears and even a nectarine tree out in the open and just waiting to be scrumped by possums and wayfaring Sidmouth Scrumpers

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By the look on his face, this scrumper has had enough of wandering around old abandoned orchards and wants to return to the civilisation afforded by 2 streets back to the main street 😉

On night 3 we could have been forgiven for having something very simple but not us! We went the way of the home made pizza. The girls used a cookbook that mum had given us last year full of homemade pizza recipes and as I have had more experience cooking with yeast, I made the dough. We made 3 batches of dough because we made a pizza for Steve (because he had obviously been a bit jealous of our cooking exploits over the weekend) and one for the girl’s dog Qi who has an adventurous palate for a dog and who gets very interesting meals. The girls made an almost “regular” type of pizza topped with chicken, a spicy hot salami, pine nuts and “other things” that I didn’t really notice as I was busy slathering tomato paste on pizza bases and ensuring that the cheese flow kept going. They also made an interesting combination of prawns, chicken, various other things (again…applied while I was otherwise occupied so I would only be speculating about exactly what went on) and coconut. I don’t think that Beth was enamoured of this pizza but Madeline seemed to like it. Qi got a meaty pizza and Steve got his favourite things (hot salami, chicken, onion, capsicum, chilli, mushroom and vintage cheese) and he has stashed it in the freezer for a delicious quick meal for the coming week when we have to finish off the chook pen and are too knackered to cook (smart man! 😉 ). I typed out lots of recipes from the cookbooks that the girls purchased and they gave me a couple of CD’s by a Korean band called Winterplay that do some really good covers of popular songs and I will be listening to them whilst trying to wade my way through my 1000+ rss feed reader blog posts that struck terror into even my seasoned mass blog reading heart when I got up this morning. If you would like to hear them and check out just how good this band is you can hear them covering “Don’t know why” a Norah Jones hit and can see why I really like them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVhzK01Jmq4

That’s my bit for spreading the love people…I would have NEVER heard of this wonderful band if it hadn’t been for my adventurous daughters and their adventurous palates…it’s time spent like the weekend that I just had that reinforce the value of family and of simple time spent together. No matter how ragged or crumpled your family is, it’s the closest thing to “you” that you have. Spend time with your children…spend time with your parents…heal those wounds (if there are any to heal) and get back together with the people that really do matter the most, your own flesh and blood and the people that will tell you the truth (sometimes with great gusto 😉 ). I love you girls and can’t begin to thank you for that wonderful weekend…even Bella Lugosi in Chandu the Magician, a 1932 movie that we watched to fill the Bella free zone that Beth needs to quench on a regular basis. We even watched Lilo and Stitch which I really hadn’t watched before and that I enjoyed disproportionately to what I thought that I would. I especially love this drawing that was on the fridge and that we have used as a family in joke for years without me even having watched the reference for this joke…

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vmiiw4&s=5

In a word, I did all sorts of things that I don’t usually do. I adjusted to Madeline’s stringent washing up rollcall and exactly how to put it back where it goes…I slept with Qi and learned how to contort my middle aged body into the human equivalent of a pretzel to accommodate her desire to spread out over as much of the bed as she could possibly take up and I adjusted my getting up time to fit in with the girls going to bed time. Who would have known…a change really IS as good as a holiday :o)

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Stage 1 of banksia flower development…

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Stage 2…

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and finally stage 3

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If you can avert your eyes from the insect nuptuals going on towards the top of this shot (I can’t pinpoint it exactly for you because I am averting my eyes!), this is a bottlebrush flower

Peter Cundall, Mr organic garden show ABC television presenter himself and who lives not too far away from Serendipity Farm told us that this was going to be a bit of a stinker this summer in Tasmania. Stinker as in heat…not as in smell. I tend to agree with him because things run in cycles and they tend to be 4 yearly in Tasmania. We have mild years and hot years and this just so happens to coincide with our first year in Tasmania where our first full summer was a real eye opener because we thought that we were going to be cold and we discovered just how hot it can be here and our first winter was so cold we got chilblains and didn’t even know what they were.  We are more aware of the seasons here now and know it is going to be hot when we start seeing the cicada husks stuck to the
grass. This year we can hear them getting the band tuned nice and early and by the time mid-summer gets here they will have coordinated themselves into a wall of united stomach rasping. We won’t see them for at least 4 more years because their life cycle takes that long for them to reach adulthood and emerge from under the ground. At least the native birdlife get a “Hava nagila” moment of their own with plenty of free clicking protein for all!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psaltoda_moerens

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Aside from me looking like I am doing some sort of a sailors hornpipe dance you can begin to get an idea of how lucky we were to get not 1 roll, but 2 of these rolls of ex-fish farm netting. There are about 50 more of them up for grabs and we will be putting our hands up for as many rolls as they would like to let us have. We have also removed that blue rope and are storing it in Steve’s shed for posterity…(I think “posterity” is like “hoarding” 😉 ).

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Looking back the other way towards the house. We will get 4 x 2.5 metre x 20 metre lengths of this netting that should be enough to enclose our wayfaring chooks and keep them from digging halfway to China in their endeavours to have dustbaths all over Serendipity Farm

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One of the Brachychitons that we liberated from anarchy and chaos earlier in the year that hadn’t flowered in years and that is absolutely covered in flowers this year. Now all we have to do is pull all of that dead dodder from around it’s leaves and it might stand a chance of surviving for a few years more

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A cicada husk…one of many (it’s going to be a noisy Christmas this year on Serendipity Farm!)

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A close-up of garnet particles used to sandblast the Batman Bridge before it gets repainted

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Christmas wreath (and all sorts of other project) futures!

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Harvested willow…the rest is up to me!

It’s suddenly Wednesday and after heading over to Exeter to send Steve’s mum a calendar and pick up some library books and giving the dogs a good walk in the process we spent the day productively by measuring one of the large rolls of ex-fish farm netting that we got a little while ago. We were told that it was 20 metres long by 10 metres wide and after measuring it we think it’s probably a good estimate. We should have enough in a single roll to complete our chook shed reno and the other roll can be used to fully enclose our vegetable garden. We have been promised more of this precious commodity in the near future and we are going to get creative with it and use it to protect our small possum weary orchard and other areas that we don’t want the possums to invade. We cut a 2.5 metre wide strip from the first roll using the knives that we bought for grafting. We haven’t grafted much with them but we have at least used them for something! In the process we liberated 20 metres of strong thick nylon rope and tomorrow we will liberate 20 metres more. No idea what we are going to do with all of the rope but you can never have enough rope out in the country ;). After we finished cutting the rope from the netting we folded the netting up and set it aside…part 1 of the chook shed. By the time we finish we will have 4 x 20 metre long segments that we are going to attach to poles that we have already installed where we want to re-educate our chooks into who is the boss around here. It was getting pretty warm under the hole in the ozone layer that is our bright blue sky here in Tasmania so we headed off to put some stakes into the veggie garden to hold our rapidly growing tomatoes and prevent them from lying against the bird netting and being nibbled by waiting varmints. I guess the varmints are pruning the wayfaring branches for us but for now, they have been trussed up and the varmints are going to have to wait. I took a few photos of how our vegetables are going and it’s amazing to see how quickly vegetables will grow when you give them enough sunshine, food and water. The only thing that grows faster is the weeds :o(

We headed over to the East side of the Batman Bridge where there is a free camping ground and a large willow tree just waiting for clever locals to harvest to collect some willow canes to make our Christmas Wreath from. I had a bit of an altercation with a local redneck who had been racially abusing some Chinese tourists but nothing that Earl and I couldn’t handle ;). I heard on the news today that 52% of Tasmanian year 8 students are not able to meet the benchmark for mathematics. That joins our dubious honour of having 1 in 2 native born Tasmanians who can’t read or write adequately. Education needs to be pushed hard in this state. I guess it has worked to our politician’s advantage, up until now, to have an uneducated and unquestioning public who leave politics to the “experts” but now that the forest industry is on the verge of total collapse it is rapidly becoming obvious that most Tasmanians are ill equipped to do anything other than cut down trees with chainsaws and a subclass of bored, unemployed rednecks is going to be a significant problem for tomorrows politicians and the heinously understaffed police force that was cut to the bone recently in a vain attempt to reign in the budget deficit. I sometimes feel like banging my head on the wall when I (stupidly) watch the local news. I am not a particularly politically motivated person but blind Freddy could see just how inept and self-serving our politicians are and the really REALLY scary thing is that there isn’t any viable alternative for us to vote for. It’s equally as scary how quickly I can turn rabid whenever I consider our endemic politicians so I might just stop RIGHT THERE for today :o)

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Some Serendipity Farm “Yellow Nugget” cherry tomatoes

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One bed staked…

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and the other…

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Can anyone “splain” to me why this tomato plant seems hell bent on only growing horizontally? Nick (our ex-long suffering lecturer) took a most entrepreneurial view of our crazy tomato predicament and said “save the seed…make sure it stays true to type and only grows horizontally and then sell it for vertical and hanging baskets…make a fortune!”…cheers Nick, but I think you have us confused for entrepreneurs rather than lazy bums…(our subterfuge worked! 😉 )

We are still getting used to having time on our hands to do things other than study. It has been lovely to get stuck into working around the house and we have even started using the calendar that comes with using Google as our home page to keep us moving in the right direction. I picked up Dawn French’s first fiction work today from the library and am going to give it a whirl around the dance floor and see how she twirls. I also picked up the cold climate permaculture book about Hepburn Springs by David Holmgren because I now have time to read it from cover to cover like it deserves. Helen, the library lady, had put a book aside about making your own beauty products for me. She sometimes sees a book that she thinks that I might like and puts it on the shelf along with my ordered books. Cheers Helen, I like the look of some of the recipes inside and goodness only knows I can do with a slather or two of natural unguents if they will lend me an air of respectability once in a while ;). We have a full week of sorting out the chook house and then finding homes for 20+ hens. If anyone wants some prime year old egg laying (if you can find them 😉 ) hens, let me know. I had entertained giving them the chop and filling our freezer but entertaining and doing are 2 very different things. Roosters can be rationalised but hens in their prime cannot. After we make the chook coop we will be hurling ourselves headlong into all sorts of projects that we isolated from our Tuesday meeting where we had a bit of a confab about what direction we wanted to go in (preferably forwards) and how setting a few goals might actually cause us to follow through on a few of our plans.

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The rocket, lettuce, perpetual spinach, capsicum and chilli bed

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Not too sure what you do with perpetual spinach but at least we have one! 😉

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Aren’t lettuces pretty?

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Can you see the adventitious little tomato plant that grew from last years compost placed reverently in this garden bed? We think that it is one of Wendy’s lovely heritage tomatoes and it has a sibling in the next bed going great guns. I will let you know what they turn out like…by the way there is an aphid on the tomato…it won’t last long because the veggie gardens are seething with little lizards that seem to be doing a sterling job on cleaning up the tiny grasshoppers that have been attracted to the veggie garden like moths to a light. A fine example of integrated pest management at it’s finest 🙂

It’s time to think about posting this post now and after I do, I will head up to the veggie garden and will pick some mushrooms, some lettuce, some rocket and some spinach to make Steve a side salad to go with his evening meal. Living close to the ground is about as rewarding as it gets and I am going to have to get pretty close to the ground to harvest that lettuce! See you all on Saturday when we may just have that chook yard sorted out and I might just have some photos to share with you of some stunned looking enclosed chooks and Yin with his beak through the netting protesting his newfound confinement…Tasmania is a penal colony of old sir…get used to it! 😉

By the way…anyone who would like to have a chance to win Steve’s hand made spoon has 10 days to let us know. At the moment there are only 10 people in the draw and Earl thinks that they are pretty good odds. We have a lot more walnuts than “10” so please feel free to enter the spoon draw…only 10% of you want to win? Think of Steve’s pride! 😉

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