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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Come and visit Serendipity Farm for The Virtual Vegan Potluck tomorrow…

Hi All,

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Click this link to take you to the full list of participants. I am SO excited to be taking part in this event 🙂

This is a teeny tiny little post just to test my scheduler is working correctly. I am very excited to be posting in a worldwide event tomorrow and would love for you all to come and take a look. I promise there are at least 800 words less than I usually type and LOTS more pictures and a wonderful and most tasty recipe to boot. This post has taken a whole lot of work and I really do appreciate those amazing food bloggers out there that do this every single day. I would go banana’s! Here’s a gratuitous shot of vegetable head for you all to enjoy…I am using it as a lure for prospective blog followers tomorrow ;). Have a great Friday guys and enjoy yourselves to the MAX this weekend.

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narf7 the great Stromboli maestro of old Sidmouth town 🙂

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Hows this for a vegan recipe folks? And we grew most of the ingredients and made everything ourselves 🙂

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…

Ciasto kubusiowe

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 😉

“I’m not dead…I’m just busy!”

Hi All,

I feel like copying and pasting that sentence into several emails to friends and family and using it as my Facebook epitaph. I have decided not to use Facebook any more. It sucks time and energy out of you and it is totally addictive. I don’t want to waste valuable time sitting on my bum indoors when I could be outside in the sunshine (albeit the cold sunshine) facilitating change on Serendipity Farm along with my dear long suffering husband who might be dragging his feet, but he is still coming along for the ride. We have enormous gardens to build. Yesterday, when I was picking the last of the tomatoes and some ripe red chillies for The Virtual Vegan Potluck entry that is now all done and dusted and ready for posting in early May, Steve was planning aloud. That was difficult because Earl was on the end of a lead, Bezial was frolicking free and was up for a game with his harnessed kennel mate and when 2 American Staffies want to play, it’s not so much fun to be the man on the end of the rope! He was planning (while he was being pulled from pillar to post, spun around in circles and was anchoring himself to the nearest sheoak tree…) our plan of attack.

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This is Gok…prior to his recent cooking television series I had nothing but derision for this man-Gumby hybrid. I would see adverts for his television show about making naked women feel good about themselves and would cringe…one of those “empowering the people” shows that was really all about self denial and delusion but then I had nothing to do one evening and decided to watch television and was too lazy to get up when Gok’s Chinese cooking show came on. Truth be told my interest was piqued and I am now a complete convert of Gumby-Gok. I love the man. He has elevated himself into the stratosphere and I totally “get” why hundreds of women would strip for him and parade themselves naked around on television…Gok is the new Nigel Slater and he is the hipster king of U.K. cookery that this wonderful book was sent to me by the wonderful Tanya from http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ a wonderful blog that I have been following for quite a while now. Tanya and I share an ethos, a sense of humour and a deep love for frugality and for living our lives to the fullest and Tanya decided that she wanted to send me a copy of Gok’s Chinese cookbook and I am absolutely rapt :). There are so many recipes that I want to make but the very first one is going to be congee. After that there is an amazing Chinese rice wrapped in dried lotus roots and after that the sky is the limit! I love you Gumby-Gok and I love  Tanya and Toli’s generosity as well 🙂

Steve is the heavy duty practical side of the equation…I am the numbers “man”. Together we figure it out and we put it into play and we usually end up with what we were after. It’s a great result when we work together… the only problem is that we work in such different ways that most of the time we spend trying to figure out what the HECK the other person is doing at any given time. Steve has plans…”those trees there are in the way…they will have to come out (read Steve wants some firewood for next year)… and after that we will put some poles in (read dig holes, concrete poles into the ground where only days before there was a perfectly good tree that we could have used for the same purposes…sigh…) and we can stretch that netting tight between them and after that…” I wasn’t listening by then…I was bums up doing callisthenics in an attempt to try to source some tomatoes from the jungle that used to be a tomato bed. “Next year we stake!” I say loudly and Steve looks at me in a somewhat alarmed way…obviously I must have interjected at some crucial point that most certainly DIDN’T require staking!

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I took this book out of the library recently on a whim…looks like I am going to be exercising my brain for the foreseeable future…

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Here is the button box that I recently gave my friend Kym. We swapped that lovely doily book for buttons…a great swap! We both get something that we want for something that we don’t want…the best of frugality mixed with barter 🙂

Steve says the magic words “after this garden, we will take out those trees over there and will make another one…” and THAT is part of why I love you still you smelly footed, stubborn mule of a man… you feed me what I want and I WANT more gardens :o). I have big plans for the first paddock on Serendipity Farm. Most of it is going to be a fully enclosed series of walk in, walk out vegetable gardens. I want to be able to grow chickpeas, amaranth, chia and quinoa along with buckwheat and various other hardy grains and lots of dried beans. Protein and calories are the order of the day. I am even going to have a go at growing peanuts after Sarah from http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ fame (and she IS famous folks…she has written a book :o) ) said that she bought a packet off her supermarket shelf (the ones in shells) and is growing them! She said “I like to experiment”…so do I Sarah…so do I! So peanuts are on the cards.

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This is the front cover of a wonderful crochet doily book that my friend Kym from Western Australia sent me recently. I finally found where I hid these photos! Linne wanted to see the cover so here it is…

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And here is one of the lovely doilies inside that I am going to attempt to tackle in the near future

I was going to have a go at growing Brazil nuts but found out that they won’t fruit/nut anywhere other than Brazil because they need a specific and most endemic little pollinator before they will produce the nuts…but the tree looks lovely and I might just grow one…”because I can!” I dare say no-one else in Tassie has a Brazil nut tree growing in their garden and narf7 is bolshie enough to give it the old college try. I have grown mangoes, avocados, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, carob trees and copious quantities of chestnut trees (easy peasy to grow folks, I just fished a forgotten bag of chestnuts out of the fridge and threw them into some moist coir peat in a plastic bag in a covered esky and almost all of them grew!) and love to grow something for free. It feeds the frugality in me and gives me a sense of purpose to produce things.

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These pumpkin vines are WAY too late in the season to survive the coming winter and were harbouring some small mango saplings that had grown in the compost, so I decided to sacrifice the pumpkins to save the mangoes

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This is what the compost heap looks like today and the sad withered greenery was once pumpkins…next season I am going to have amazing pumpkins that no native animal is going to have a chance to sniff let alone get close enough to taste!

I might have to have a stall somewhere to offload all of the excess food producing plants, however, because even though we have 4 acres, 20 walnut trees and 15 chestnut trees might just be a few too many for that kind of acreage if we want to have a hope in heck of planting anything else ;). That’s part of the problem. If we were rank amateurs we could head out with our heads full of hope and just “plant” but we aren’t…we are fully fledged, dyed in the wool, fully away horticulturalists and we KNOW how far apart we should space things, we KNOW how big they grow, we KNOW about forest plantings and pH and depth of planting and we just KNOW which makes it all the harder to plant out our wonderful free little babies. I might just go doorknocking in the neighbourhood and see if our long suffering neighbours would like some “excuse me…we live just down the road…you might have heard our dogs barking…here…have a tree for your suffering…” ;).

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There might not be many but these potatoes were found when we were digging up the mangoes from the compost bin…SCORE!

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The 2 mangoes in their overwintering palace, the glass house. Lets just hope they survive the winter

I need to self-flagellate…I missed Leonardo Da Vinci’s 561st birthday on April 15th! I also missed that crap mini-series that someone (trying to make a fast buck out of jumping on the bandwagon to link famous long dead (read “can’t sue me anymore”…) people with crappy vampire series…) made about him recently but unlike my sheer unmitigated glee at escaping that utter pile of dog excrement, I am a little bit sad that I missed giving this amazing man the kudos that he deserved. Some people deserve über kudos and Leonardo is one such man…let’s all give him a minute’s silence, heck, let’s give him 2! for being one über cool dude WAY back then that was likely to get you lynched, tarred and feathered or just plain tortured and dispatched. It just goes to show that the brain will out, no matter what is standing in the way (or how much armour or pointy weaponry they are carrying at the time…). I offer you the quintessential anthem to kudos that you deserve sir…ringing down through the ages you ARE remembered…you live on in so many people’s minds and as ACDC would sing, loudly and repeatedly…”for those about to rock…WE SALUTE YOU!”. We most certainly do Mr Da Vinci. :o)

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We didn’t think that these poor long suffering potted babies would survive the long, hot dry summer that we had, let alone live to give us any kind of winter display but here they are looking beautiful and begging us to plant them out this autumn…”I hear you babies…I HEAR YOU” 🙂

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We grew most of these small trees from seed. We aren’t too sure what we are going to do with them all but we might just find someone starting out anew and give them an unexpected bonus of some gorgeous trees 🙂

It’s just turned 3.29am Saturday 20th. Bezial turfed me out of bed because it’s COLD out here and he heard me telling Earl to stop shoving ;). I don’t mind, all the more time for me to tap away here and tie up online ends before my brain turns itself off early this evening. I am now the mother of a 23 year old youngest child. My daughter Bethany had her birthday yesterday and was celebrating with her sister Madeline (25) by having lunch at a new local Korean BBQ house. I hope they had a great time and I know that Bethany’s birthday cake will have been MOST interesting because they were using some purple bubble tea as the basis. They like to experiment with cooking and tend to only use recipes as a basis for their imaginative recipes and 9 times out of 10 they are successful. I tend not to be as inventive as they are but I am reasonably inventive and like to mess about with cultures and letting the cultures metabolise ingredients partially to see what happens to the end result.

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I COMPLETELY forgot to post this heart for valentine’s day! We noticed it when we were walking the dogs AGES ago in Launceston at the university campus…I heart trees 🙂

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This is a leaf hopper…usually leaf hoppers = BAD but this one is in someone else’s garden so he gets to be admired for his beauty and left to nibble another day 😉

I am going to be making more kimchi this weekend. I have a precious cup of kimchi left from my last batch that is going to culture my new batch. Steve rust treated and sprayed my new fire set black that I got for $1 from the tip shop and remembered a fire poker that we had inherited so that got the black spray treatment as well. The handle doesn’t exactly match the set we picked up but who cares? It pokes the fire and that’s fine by me! The best thing about that $1 fire set is that it is solid cast iron and was built to last. I don’t know why someone threw it out in the first place but I have noticed that garage sales are rich playgrounds for savvy people here in Tasmania. The average Tasmanian doesn’t like to get out into the world until around about 10am. We used to head off to the Evandale markets (when we lived in the city) nice and early at 8.30 and we would be finished and on our way home before the long lines of Tassie traffic were passing us in the other direction.

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This is the shop at Wychwood…isn’t it lovely?

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This is the family home at Wychwood but I couldn’t resist sharing this lovely trough of succulents with you all 🙂

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Just around the corner from that lovely trough of succulents is this lovely brick oven. I have a pile of used bricks in town with an oven just like this’s name on it…

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These are the sort of rocks that you find on the beaches around Tasmania. Beautiful weather worn, smoothed by the ocean rocks. It’s hard to leave them on the beach!

Steve shops at 7am in the supermarkets because there are only a few older people there at that time of day…he is usually finished shopping by about 10am and we only shop once a fortnight so these shopping forays take all different kinds of shops into account. We plan this once a fortnight shop meticulously and Steve has his plans of attack. Sometimes the plans of attack involve grabbing things off shelves without looking at them and then finding out when you get home that someone had decided to dump a more expensive product for a cheaper one on sale and Steve just so happened to have grabbed the more expensive product in his hast to be “OUTTA THERE” but that is happening more infrequently now that he is starting to realise that it just isn’t worth handing your tea addicted wife (since she was 2) a packet of über expensive teabags that don’t deliver that rich tannin flavour!  It takes me almost a whole day to do what Steve does in a couple of hours and even then I forget things and come home with heaps of other things that weren’t on the list. I did the shopping the last time that I stayed at my daughters. I did a GREAT job…I was very proud of myself for my efforts BUT (that year of living honestly has forced me to tell the truth 😉 ) I did have the entire weekend to chip away at the shopping list and stretched out the actual shopping over the 3 days that I was away. Some people are built for speed and Steve is one such person :o). Now he just has to allow the concept of “accuracy” to filter into his mindset 😉

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Who would like one of these gorgeous little birdhouses in their garden?

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I took a side view because I am going to have a go at making something approximating this birdhouse…wish me luck!

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I LERVE this chair folks…it is official. We have driftwood from the sea that washes down the river and onto the pebbly riverbank right in front of Serendipity Farm…we have Teatree saplings on the property that need thinning out that would be perfect to make something like this and we have lots of misshapen woody bits lying around from past thinning out ventures. This chair has my name all over it!

Remember how I was complaining about how hot it was in February and March? It WAS hot…it was dry…it was HORRIBLE and now it is cold…it went from 30+C temperatures down to 5C in a matter of weeks. My recent weight loss efforts have handed me energy to spare. It shielded me from our long hot summer and I certainly didn’t miss my extra layer of fat in summer. Everything has good and bad points right? That includes weight loss! Yeh, I might be able to power up our steep driveway in a wave of determination…yeh my knees might be happier than they have been in years…yeh I might almost have broken out into a run with Earl the other day and I might be able to keep up with Steve when we are walking the dogs and yeh I might be able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fitted into for years BUT then the frigid Antarctic autumn descends and suddenly my obsolete layer of fat has taken on a nostalgic quality in my mind…like a nice round nana (cheers for that analogy Jess 😉 ) that gives you a cuddle and a couple of her chockie bickies (that’s chocolate cookies to you Northerners) out of the biscuit barrel when you visit her and you KNOW that the roast dinner she is going to dish you up that night will have more than enough delicious roast potatoes AND there is desert!

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This is an avocado…it appears to be trying to sneak away because it is MORE than aware of it’s fate. Tonight…this avocado will be made into sushi. “Fear me avocado!” 😉

My 25 extra kilos cuddled me in winter. They wrapped themselves around me and insulated me from the worst of the cold and I KNOW WHY SEALS HAVE BLUBBER! I might be able to zip around the place like Speedy Gonzales on steroids…I might be constantly marvelling at how loose cloth feels on my legs and how I have so much energy now but I fear winter. I really do FEAR winter. I am sitting here wearing 2 jumpers, a pair of leg warmers (YES leg warmers 😉 ), my warm slippers and I am STILL cold. Is this what you “normal” people feel in winter? I am going to have to scratch a chalky little note on our shopping list…my chalky little note is going to read “dear Steve…could you please pick me up 14 hot water bottles from K-Mart this shopping…I KNOW 14 seems a little extreme but humour me… I am going to strap them to my body for winter…I am going to knit myself a full set of long john’s (brightly coloured with flares…CMON’! Would you expect any less of me?! 😉 with little flaps where the hot water bottle necks are situated…I am going to sew myself into the long john’s (cheers for that analogy Linnie 😉 ) and I am going to spend winter in my improvised suit of warmth to take the place of my fat. I can just do a few cartwheels to empty them each morning, shiver for a little while as I fill them all and sink into happy hot fugishness through my days. I don’t suggest anyone visits me over winter (bad luck Kymmy, you already booked!) as my new suit might start to reek a bit BUT them’s the breaks folks and you do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and sane 😉

DSCF0920Some of the fire utensils from the $1 tip shop bargain that I got recently. The poker and broom are still in the shed awaiting second coats but already it looks a whole lot better than $1 in my books 🙂

Bezial just got up. He who tossed me out of bed at 2.30 is lying in front of Brunhilda at 3.57am demanding that I poke her and get her going. I am starting to wonder just who is the boss around here… Apparently Bezial already knows! 😉 Bezial has been waiting for this…he and I share a winter tradition of getting up together and me waking Brunhilda up from her overnight slumber so that he can lay in front of her for the rest of the day. Bezial just decided that she wasn’t warming up quickly enough and has gone back to the comfort and warmth of being tucked under my feather doona next to Earl and Steve…sigh…that leaves Brunhilda and I to do the work of warming up the kitchen together…she is crackling into life as I tap this here and its WONDERFUL! :o).

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Still harvesting things from our veggie garden and the spinach is showing no signs of going to seed or giving up the ghost any day soon which is great because I pick it every day 🙂

Last year I got up a whole lot later than I do now…Steve tamps the fire down before he goes to bed at 11 and I will be waking her up again at 3…she seems pleased with the new routine…she  and I have lots of possibilities as the colder weather progresses. I can now add a few new routines of my own into the equation. Now that I am up 3 – 4 hours earlier than the rest of the household why not use some of this time with Brunhilda’s early morning warmth to good avail? Time to start factoring in the warmth of the bread proofer that Steve made for me, essentially a shelf a metre above Brunhilda with a metal mesh allowing the wafting heat to rise through and slowly warm whatever I choose to place up there…I could prove bread up there overnight. A nice slow proofing so that the next day I can get Brunhilda cranking and an hour later I could bake bread…fresh baked bread before the sun comes up? Now THAT is an interesting premise!

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A gratuitous bum shot…I still can’t get over where it went! I have lost more weight since this photo but you are looking at the part of me that was the most significant to say the least…now I know it was there to keep me warm in winter!

Steve recently received a gorgeous jar of Christi from Olalla’s jam. He allowed me a tiny taste but I know that this jam is precious to him. It’s a matter of supply and demand. No matter how much jam he demands, there is a very limited supply. Christi is one of the most generous and wonderful people that I know but it costs a FORTUNE to send things between Australia and the U.S. My daughters send a 4kg (that’s over 8lb) package to my son in a neighbouring state for his recent 31st birthday and it only cost them $17 to do so. I would have to SELL said 31 year old son to pay for the costs if I wanted to send the same parcel to Olalla…that should give you an idea about how expensive it is (AND he is a practicing accountant who won’t get out of bed for under $200/hour so factor that into the equation!). I am just going to have to try to get Christi’s jammy goodness recipes out of her. In the name of transcontinental happiness she just might grace me with the recipe to make Steve happy over his morning toast but the problem is that aside from not being able to get some of the more exotic ingredients, Christi has her own alchemy when it comes to jam. I have NEVER tasted better jam folks. This girl could jar it up and sell it, it is THAT good. I bow to her jammy genius and can only hope that my homemade spadle could do justice to one of her recipes. I have a couple of kilos of blackberries in the freezer…I have a homemade spadle that could stir for the queen and I have a 20 litre stainless steel pressure cooker base that doubles as an “Ace” jam pot…now all I need is that fairy dust that makes “jam”…something that Steve wants to dip his spoon into and eat from the jar 😉

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Who could resist these 2…butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths now would it? 😉

Another tome? “Et Tu Brute?!”…sigh…I guess some of you are still reading my posts and maybe I might be able to coax some strangers from the ether (via unusual tags 😉 ) to stray onto Serendipity Farm and spend the time it takes to get through a BIG mug of tea to read them. I told someone today that my blog is my way of allowing my muses to vent. I guess you, my dear constant readers, are starting to realise just how many muses this poor husk of humanity endures! Brunhilda has managed to heat a kettle of water from cold to just on the point of boiling in under 2 minutes…not bad old girl! She is in fine form and just the crackling is making me feel warmer. Apparently the roosters under the deck are feeling the love as well because they just started to crow…sigh…have a fantastic weekend folks…remember you only get 1 life and this is IT. Do something that makes you feel alive this weekend…bugger it…do something that makes you “SQUEE!” with delight :o). Have the best damned time that you can this weekend and when you have to trudge back to work they are going to wonder what that little smile of contentment is that  is hanging off the side of your mouth…don’t tell them, it’s all yours. See you Wednesday :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)

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

Hi All,

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

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2 homemade Cornish pasties with butter shortcrust and homemade oven wedges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Everything that I just said above…but closer! 😉

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

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

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

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Grout into paint…

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Mix the grout into the paint

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

https://cathyandchucky.wordpress.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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