Narf7’s Bolshie Blissful Buckwheat Granola Clusters

Hi All

No, narf7 hasn’t eaten some “special” green granola and is having flashbacks to the 70’s (even though those were some SWEET times 😉 )…I found a recipe on Pinterest and decided to have a go at making it. As some of you know, I am a most prolific pinner of all things interesting on Pinterest. As a vegan who likes to make as many of her own foodstuffs as possible from scratch I watch Pinterest like a hawk because the vegan community are very inventive and like to share. I have been looking for something “interesting” but UBER healthy to eat for breakfast. There are only so many buckwheat smoothies and only so much buckwheat porridge that you can eat before you start to wish buckwheat had a bit of a wider repertoire. Well it does. Aside from delicious vegan buckwheat pancakes (which are probably next on the list to tick off…) there is this seemingly benign concoction that has opened my eyes up to the wonder of buckwheat all over again.

Buckwheat is the BOMB folks. It’s good stuff. It has all kinds of excellent health benefits but the one that really floats my boat is it is a wonder food for helping regulate circulatory problems. Coupled with the magic of sesame milk and the excellent backup of dates this heady trio packs an incredible nutritional punch whilst delivering some serious benefits including lowering the risk of heart disease. When I decided to limit the grains that I ate I decided to find something to fill the niche and buckwheat was my new Russian ally. Much like its Russian fermenty mate kombucha, it is relatively late to come to the narf7 party and prior to its inclusion I was a most suspicious narf7 whenever it came to thinking about eating buckwheat even though I do love a good yeasted buckwheat pancake.

So desperation often leads to serendipity and this was the buckwheat case. I love the stuff and the earthy depth of flavour that comes from this humble, easy to grow, drought tolerant, perfect cover crop for our climate (can there BE too many superlatives for this incredible cousin to rhubarb?) has made me even more determined to include it as a staple in my diet. Enter the buckwheaty granola recipe of happiness. I decided to give it a go because why not? I did have to manufacture some sunflower seed butter but that wasn’t a problem. I just toasted the seeds in my frypan, tossed them into my trusty VitaMix and made it growl till they turned into molten seedy lava after about 5 minutes of hard grind.

I mixed everything together after realising that I needed “applesauce” and not having any, decided to hurl all of the wet ingredients into the blender along with 2 cut up apples complete with skins and blend till smooth and not wanting to use whatever strange unguent “syrup” the recipe called for I used homemade date paste and the end results of the wet blend was amazing on its own. I would spread it on toast let alone mix it with granola.

Wendy from Quarter Acre Lifestyle (LINK LINK LINK) asked me if I would share the recipe and so here I am, sharing just for you Wendy and this recipe is well worth the effort. The results are scrumptious and healthy and nutritious and I can’t wait to mess around with this recipe to customise it and make it even more narf7 friendly. How about adding cocoa to the mix? Or instead of vanilla, substituting another essence like rose water or orange blossom water? How about juicing an orange and zesting the skin and throwing that into the mix along with the cocoa? Just about any fruit puree would work mixed through this healthy cereal alternative and I, for one, am really looking forwards to breakfast tomorrow 🙂

Blissful Buckwheat Granola Clusters

Taken from this website via Pinterest…

http://ohsheglows.com/2013/02/20/blissful-buckwheat-granola-clusters-oil-free/

Adapted by narf7 due to necessity and sheer unmitigated laziness and sloth 😉

I doubled the recipe because aside from being lazy and not wanting to have to make it again for at least a couple of days, I like to make things in quantity. It makes me feel rich 🙂

So here is the amended recipe

Dry Ingredients: –

3 cups of raw buckwheat kernels (groats)

1 cup of leftover sesame seed pulp from making my sesame seed milk for my tea (SCORE! I love a good reuse 🙂 )

1 cup of raw sunflower seeds (hulled)

3 tsp cinnamon (the recipe would have called for 4 but I was using Dutch cinnamon which is much stronger in flavour so cut the amount down)

1 tsp fine ground Himalayan salt

1/2 cup coconut sugar but you could make date sugar and that would be even more preferable. I haven’t made it yet but you can find a really good recipe here…

http://www.includingcake.com/home/2013/02/date-sugarthe-only-wholefood-sugar.html

Wet Ingredients: –

4 tbs unsweetened applesauce (I used 2 whole small red apples skin and all raw, blended into the mix but feel free to use applesauce if you have it)

1 cup homemade date paste (more than what was called for but date paste isn’t as sweet as other sugars and I really wanted the mix to stick together and form clusters)

6 tbs sunflower seed butter (or any other kind of butter or tahini)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat your covered bbq, or if you don’t want to live on the wild side like the crazy middle aged hippies at Serendipity Farm, preheat your oven, to 150C. Now I am quite sure that our bbq doesn’t go as low as that but I watched the granola like a hawk. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper/parchment paper.

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The easy part…even I can mix raw buckwheat groats in with raw hulled sunflower seeds…

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This is what remains of sesame seeds after you soak 2 cups of them and make sesame milk out of them. Here you see the leftover pulp. The recipe states that the author used almond pulp and I can’t see any difference so I used this. She also said “just leave it out if you don’t have it” so that’s what I am going to say to…”just leave it out if you don’t have any” 🙂

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Add cinnamon “tick”…

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Add coconut sugar and sea salt “tick”

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This is what it looks like at this stage

2. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. If using leftover nut/seed pulp, it will remain a bit chunky but not to worry. If you didn’t have any nut/seed pulp spare you could always add a bit of fruit puree. I am going to experiment by using pureed cooked beans but then again, I am food eccentric to say the least!

3. In a smaller bowl (or your blender like I used) mix the wet ingredients until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until the dry ingredients are well coated and wet.

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Organic vanilla, homemade date paste (of which I am NEVER without these days) and the lazy narfs “applesauce”. I did chop the apple up and remove the core but the skin went in and my vitamix did the rest

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This is around about where I got to this stage and it said “add sunflower seed butter”…err…sunflower seed butter?…”SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER!” so after a frantic trip to the freezer I found a big bag of sunflower seeds (thank GOODNESS I am too lazy to have made that cinnamon sunflower seed butter I bought them for…) and quickly threw them into a big frypan to toast them…

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Then I put them into my vitamix…

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And made sunflower seed butter (good save narf!)

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And when you mix in the appropriate amount with the vanilla, the apples and the date paste you end up with this which tasted AMAZING! I could have eaten this with a spoon out of the container (I DID eat this with a spoon out of the container 😉 ) but most of it lived to be part of the recipe…

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Add the wet mix to the dry mix…

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And you end up with something approximating this

4. Spread the mix onto the prepared baking sheet in an even layer. Bake at 150C for 20 minutes, roughly toss the granola at this stage and bake for another 18 – 20 minutes, watching it like a hawk so that it doesn’t burn. It will be light golden-brown on the bottom and hardens up a lot as it cools.

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If I had used molasses or honey or something other than date paste I dare say the buckwheat mix wouldn’t have looked suspiciously like I was trying to make an enormous biscuit (cookie for you northerners) but I don’t eat sugar so date paste it was.

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As I had to cook this in a covered bbq that hasn’t got a good temperature regulator it was inevitably going to get slightly “caramelised” but I nibbled those bits and they were delicious…BONUS!

5. Cool completely on the baking paper lined sheet and then store in a glass container for up to 3 – 4 weeks but I seriously doubt it will last that long. It is delicious just eaten out of hand as a healthy snack

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And “Voila” tasty breakfast cereal that is eminently customisable, UBER nutritious, completely delicious and a small bowl fills you up for the whole day. What’s not to like?

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It might not look at it’s best here but it has date paste and homemade sesame milk and a large mug (bucket) of tea as Sancho Panza to it’s Don Quixote and together they managed to duel my internal windmills most admirably 🙂

Notes:

1. Don’t worry if you don’t have any almond pulp. You could use up juice pulp here if you like

2. If you don’t have date paste feel free to use coconut nectar, brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave, rapadura or even regular sugar if you don’t have a problem with it. Brown sugar would be nice. The syrup is so that the granola sticks together but so long as you have a good ratio of “sweet” to dry mix I reckon you are pretty safe and even if it doesn’t clump, who cares! It is delicious 🙂

Ok you lot, don’t say that I don’t share anything with you. This is something that you might want to hoard it is that good. Think of all the add-ins…chopped nuts, dried fruit, fruit pulp, vegetable pulp (I LOVE being able to use up food waste to good advantage 🙂 ), various spices could be added and you could make Chai buckwheat cereal…SO many variations are possible so feel free to head off now and get stuck in with making this delightfully healthy excuse to eat breakfast 🙂

By the way…with the rest of the sunflower seed butter I am going to make this…YUM!

http://www.gypsyforest.com/welcome_to_gypsy_forest/2012/09/cinnamon-maple-sunflower-seed-butter.html

And after the next batch (see…I am already planning on making more!) I am going to try this…

http://www.choosingraw.com/homemade-salt-kissed-vanilla-sunflower-seed-butter/

I just LOVE making things myself 🙂

If for some reason you DON’T like buckwheat (?!) here is another exemplary healthy version of breakfast cereal made with puffed rice that you could try just so’s you don’t feel left out 😉

http://nutritionstripped.com/cinnamon-puffed-rice-cereal/#.UuKpAGe4Y_4

Have a go and let me know if you like the results in the comments below 🙂

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Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Hi All,

Have you ever listened to roosters till the novelty wears off? I do it on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that roosters are just like bagpipes. The similarities are actually quite startling. They are both bags that when inflated and squeezed (the pipes are man squeezed, the roosters are self-motivated…) they make a noise. The “noise” that emits from them could, initially, by some romantic person living 3 blocks away, be seen as entertaining for approximately 5 minutes before the novelty wears off and the repeated inhales and exhales punctuated by a raucous droning sound become unbearable. I have the dubious luxury of being situated directly above where our 2 feral roosters roost at night. We know that they roost there because aside from the loud inhales and exhales that can start anywhere from 1am onwards, we have discovered a large pile of nitrogenous fertiliser on a tall pile of firewood under the deck that coincides with the rough approximation about 2 metres above said pile of fertiliser that narf7 sits above as she taps away here to her dear constant readers…that would be you!

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Here we have the two feral roosters that I talk about in this post. I have officially named them “Ralph” and “Hewie”. Their female counterpart who tends to hide a lot has been named “Elvira”. That interesting metal thing to the left of Ralph (the dark rooster with the rose comb) is my prospective still/rocket stove. I have yet to work out how to make it but for now, prospective is good enough for me!

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This is not a rooster. It is a duck. You would think that a duck wouldn’t have the bagpipe lungs of a rooster but you would be wrong. A duck can use her lungs to great advantage when she wants to and this one wants to every 10 minutes.

Roosters are windbags. They are solely there to make a lot of noise and to repopulate the earth with mindless hens. The hens are mindless BUT they have enough primal cunning built in to allow them to hunker down and stay shtum once they spot more than 3 eggs in a nest…they remain hunkered for 3 weeks when they emerge triumphant leading a bewildered and bedraggled selection of fluff balls out of hiding and straight into the jaws of the starving feral cats…roosters are SUPPOSED to be protectors of the flock. In our experience, they are the first to run and hide up a tree and crow from a nice safe distance once they have covered their own furry derrières. If a mindless hen spots ANYTHING out of the ordinary…say a human standing in an area that they weren’t standing in 10 minutes ago…they will send out an alarm cluck…this cluck will be passed on with exponentially increasing degrees of alarm and clucking, much like the ubiquitous Chinese Whispers game, until all roosters are crowing maniacally, all hens are clucking in unison and the alarmee is supposed to flee in mortal terror at the sheer amount of noise going on.

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If you look carefully you will see the quack-bag herself hiding behind this snapdragon that self seeds every year from goodness only knows where.

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Myrtus communis…a Mediterranean fruit that tastes somewhat foul on it’s own but that enterprising Greeks have managed to turn into some form of potent (lethal) alcohol that they imbibe on a regular basis…you have to love the Greeks…they certainly know how to take a difficult situation and make it rock!

I read a lot of blogs folks…a LOT of blogs. Some of them deal with life on farms and smallholdings and no matter how many times you read about the keeping of hens, and what a pain in the derrière they can actually be, there is a propensity for “regular folk” (that’s you lot, living in cities and big towns) to wear rose coloured glasses whenever you think about fluffy bottomed chooks clucking quietly and pecking delicately around your back yards in a romantic countrified way. The reality is that chooks are the equivalent of Somalian pirates. They rob from the rich (supposedly “us”) and they give to themselves. They navigate Serendipity Farm with stealth and cunning that leaves us alarmed, bewildered and afraid for our lives. We managed to coral them into an enclosure for 5 months and the resulting garden happiness was directly correlated to a decided lack of the ovarian orbs that make keeping chooks worth it. We might not have had chicks popping out from all over the place but we also didn’t have any eggs. What’s a smart person to do? Give in to the pirates that’s what!

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One of the “things” that have been keeping us busy on Serendipity Farm. Our crazy hippy friend down the road wants us to drink rainwater…we don’t have a say in it apparently, we HAVE to be drinking rainwater so he has given us a permanent loan of this 600 litre rainwater tank…I wonder if he will let us paint it blue to match the gas hot water heater (that is full of spiders as it gets turned off for most of the year while Brunhilda is pumping out her delicious heat…)

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Another one of the things that has been keeping us busy for the last few days. Steve headed out bush to get a load of wood with a mate on Sunday and this is the resulting haul. He will be heading out again for more wood sometime soon so thanks to his wonderful mum Kaye, whose property they are plundering for firewood, narf7 and Stevie-boy should make it through winter without turning into human popsicles

We are already finding nests in far flung well hidden places. I can only image how this is going to end and I have a VERY good imagination. When we bought our initial 8 chooks from an unscrupulous (read desperate) woman at a local market she insisted that they were all hens. I now know that this poor woman was desperate to offload at least one of her windbag roosters to some poor newbies with rose coloured glasses and visions of gorgeous fluffies assisting them with their permaculture ideals. I have since discovered that this poor woman’s flock have gone over to the dark side. No longer working FOR her, they have taken over her entire property and are festering malcontent all over the place. She has no control over them anymore. They live out of the lovely high-rise coop that her husband made for her back when she was a wide eyed newbie (not all that long before I myself came into the picture…) and they live in the trees and on the surrounding neighbour’s properties. There are so many roosters that have gone feral that there is no chance of stopping this maniacal hen invasion and the only option is to plead insanity…Allison…I no longer hold you responsible for your actions when you slipped Big Yin into my initial 8. I would do exactly the same thing. Desperation breeds craziness…a yard full of chook poo, no eggs, 40 000 chicks and 20 feral roosters all crowing directly under your window at 2am is going to render you somewhat crazy no matter how stoic and resilient you are. And still my dear constant readers will smile knowingly and will muse internally about the delights of keeping chooks. That’s how they get you folks…be afraid…be VERY afraid…

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I have been given permission to share a few of Steve’s more creative endeavours with you…

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I like to call this one “Serendipity Farm as a Christmas Bauble”…

I have been invited up to a neighbours for “morning tea”. I am a hermit. I have forgotten the niceties of social graces. I eat cake with my hands and tea from the ceramic equivalent of a bucket. I don’t have to worry about slurping or where my pinkie finger ends up or how to make small talk because Steve could care less about any of it. We talk about what our lecturer is going to do when he sees some of our “creative” photography and how we are going to be able to amend our creativity once he does. We talk about rain, and we talk about digging holes and how to deal with feral cats. I have NO idea how to talk to real people. These people, an older couple from Western Australia, my home state, are very nice. They live in a lovely old homestead with a gorgeous cottage garden in a completely walled property with gorgeous deciduous trees and three lovely miniature schnauzers. The only thing that we have in common with them is a love of gardens and a propensity to visit the husband’s place of work, he manages a bottle shop.

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I bought this ice-cream maker years ago from a market stall at the Evandale Markets. I paid $10 for it and have hardly ever used it. I would like to draw your attention TO the delicious chocolate ice-cream that is being churned in the ice-cream maker and AWAY from the dribbled chocolate creamy custard that narf7 dribbled onto the ice-cream maker and that Steve wouldn’t let me clear off before the shot was taken because I might melt the ice in the machine…sigh…

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Aside from the chocolate deliciousness in the ice-cream we chopped up some Cadbury’s dream finger biscuits and an entire crunchy bar to add. Steve is hovering around the freezer just waiting till he has eaten tonight’s Cornish pasty and spicy homemade oven wedges till he can serve himself a HUGE bowl of it. There are a lot of benefits to having a vegan wife…consider this as being one of them ;).

By the way, if anyone would like to try the truly innovative recipe for homemade chocolate ice-cream that doesn’t require eggs and is loosely based on David Lebowitz’s recipe, you can go to my food porn heaven site at Food 52 and find it here… http://food52.com/recipes/5872-naked-chocolate-ice-cream-for-lovers

Being “me” I have tried to think about the angles of this “visit”. Steve has been let off the hook (the lucky bollocks) because someone has to stay here because today is the day when the electricity metre reading man turns up and we had to promise to be here and contain our dogs because he took one look at them 5 months ago and refused to read the meter even though they were completely enclosed at least 10 metres away from where he would be reading said metre. We now have the honour of being able to read our own metre 3 times in a row and only having to lock up our dogs once every 4 months for a day till the metre reader has been. Today IS that day so Steve is off the hook. I, however, am not. A social butterfly I am not. A bewildered narf7 I am! I made a cake. I made it last night out of whatever I could cobble together that I figured would taste good and that I could eat a thin sliver of. I made it vegan and I made it chocolate and I made it with tofu and I used this recipe…

http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/veganchoccake.htm

I then decided to top it with a couple of jars of homemade coconut oil (that I almost blew my food processor motor out on trying to make), some date puree and some cinnamon to replicate a caramel topping. I ended up with something more akin to a caramel marzipan but it tasted delicious so I went with it. I formed it into a round on top of the cake and patted it neatly into a disc that fit the top of the cake nicely. I used a bit of Christi’s Farmlet jam, the BEST JAM IN THE WORLD to put in the centre of the cake and the end result looked both presentable and tasty, who could ask for more?

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Today is Bezial’s day on the blog. He is tired of Earl getting the centre stage and told me in NO uncertain terms that it will be a dog day afternoon if I don’t do something to redress the imbalance so here is a profile picture of Bezial (showing his good side apparently…)

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He will magnanimously allow this shot of Earl and would like to point out that battle scar that he, personally, inflicted on Earl making him the superior beast on the block. He doesn’t want me to tell you that this wound was inflicted while they were both rolling around playing on the floor…that would NEVER do 😉

I will hold this cake aloft like Excalibur along with a bottle of my non-dairy milk. I would hate for anyone to feel put out by my personal choice to exclude animal products from my diet. I hate a fuss being made and as I am already at a social disadvantage, I don’t want to add “crazy health nut lady” to my exponentially growing list of “crazies”. Steve and I keep to ourselves. We have, on occasion, visited with Glad next door. Glad is lovely. She is 90 years old, tough as old nails, calls a spade a spade and is ANYTHING but “old”. She also could care less what we wear and seems to like us. Frank and Adrian, our long suffering neighbours to the left seem to have gotten used to living next door to ferals. Feral cats, feral roosters, feral chooks and feral neighbours…they sigh but seem resigned to their fate. We never see Noel, our ex pilot neighbour who lives behind Frank and we don’t talk about our neighbours directly to the rear but needless to say, if “feudin’” were to be part of life on Serendipity Farm, we would pick these neighbours to start with…

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Here you see yet ANOTHER reason why we have been busier than beavers around here on Serendipity Farm. We saw a note stuck in our gate latch the other day saying “ring this number to get some more horse manure”…we phoned and were told that we could have a mountain of aged horse manure from a gentleman’s property because the person who was supposed to be taking it, didn’t so it was now free for the taking…we took! Here you can see 3 trailer loads. We ended up with 6 so even after our feathered buccaneers did their best to level the heap you can imagine the size of the mountain of manure that we can use in our new fully enclosed veggie garden 🙂

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Bezial laying next to a pile of spent hay that the chooks have done their best to redistribute all over Sidmouth. I am thinking of hiring them out as earth  movers…sigh…

The people that I will be visiting today (Tuesday) live directly opposite the neighbours directly to the rear of us. I will be heading up through the back of our property, cake aloft, plastic beer bottle full of non-dairy milk aloft and will gingerly attempt to step over the barbed wire fence between our properties where there is a council enforced “no-man’s-land” that was once mooted to be a road before they realised that lesser Sidmouth was NEVER going to be a teaming metropolis and shelved the plans to fester, along with neighbourly coveting of this area of non-road. We could care less about this small stretch of prospective road but Frank has already claimed his bit. He let us know in NO uncertain terms that should his bit of ex-road become available, he had kept it cleared for the past 10 years and had first dibs. Fair do’s Frank, you have earned it!

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Steve insisted that I put this photo of me actually doing some work on the blog. Here I am…narf7…willing and able to be the stunt double of the lead singer of Aphex Twin 😉

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Someone MUCH more handsome to look at. Isn’t he lovely? He actually smiled in town the other day and Steve got this lovely shot of him where Bezial has an uncanny knack of being able to avoid being photographed 🙂

I am not so sure that I would be as accommodating with the ex-road at the rear of our property…our neighbours to the rear are the same folk that duped our house sitter into cutting down trees on our back block so that they could attempt to gain more of a view to sell their house for more. No-one is willing to pay the ridiculous amount of money that they are asking for their modest home and so they are resorting to telling fibs to try to increase their chances of a sale. These self-same people sold my dad a dud of a car that he then gifted to my eldest daughter for her 21st birthday. He paid enough for it to have bought a sensible small modern car but a massive great automatic Mercedes Benz from the 70’s is NOT an ideal first car for a girl to learn in. When it stopped doing what cars are supposed to do…”Go”…she managed to sell it for $200 and is well shot of it. She catches buses along with her sister and living 4km from the city centre is an added bonus. No need of a petrol guzzling, road tax requiring car when you practically live in the middle of Launceston. It’s this ex-road that I will be navigating to get to my morning tea date today. Wish me luck folks and hopefully our neighbours to the rear don’t choose today, when my hands are both full, to decide to take a pot-shot of your own dear narf7!

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Here is Steve wearing his Canadian Club hat that keeps his ears warm…

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And here is Steve “Acting the Giddy Goat” as my nana would say. I doubt that he thinks I am going to put this picture in today’s blog post…but you know what Steve? You would be wrong! HA!!! He just told me he doesn’t care because this Canadian hat has been superseded by his new Russian hat that you will have to wait till my next post to see…

Bollocks…a week has passed since this post and I am tossing up whether or not to hurl it into the ether but I only have a day till I need to post again and narf7 needs something under her belt (aside from a stiff vodka) to get her through the day. It’s all things go here on Serendipity Farm. On Sunday Steve was fast asleep in bed and I was pootling around buttering bread to throw to feral chooks (it’s a tough life here on Serendipity Farm…) when the phone rang. I picked it up in shocked confusion hoping that my daughters hadn’t managed to get the dog stuck in the blender…again…and was pleasantly surprised to hear the dulcet tones of our friend who lives down the road asking for Steve. I carried the phone reverently in to Steve who was now awake and a detour for his day was on the cards. Our friend Guy was off to collect wood on his mum’s farm and had invited Steve to go with him “someday”. Apparently Sunday was “someday” and Steve was up for it. He jumped out of bed (another Jamie Oliver “literally” moment…) and hooked up the trailer and was off in a space of 15 minutes (had to have a coffee as well). That left the boys and I twiddling our thumbs and doing sweet nothing which gave me the time to eradicate my RSS Feed Reader and actually do something else on my Sunday

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Here’s a blended photo of Earl and Bezial. We had 2 photos. One where Bezial looked good and one where Earl looked good but the other dog (in each shot) was looking away so Steve used a Photoshop blending tool to blend the images. This is his first attempt but if you look closely at Earls little pink nose, you will notice it looks a little bit strange…

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With a bit of blending and a bit of cropping Steve turned less than great images into 1 wonderful image…Photoshop is the bomb! 🙂

I chose to take some gorgeous brightly coloured knitted sock boots that my wonderful son had bought for me previously. I had removed the red fleece insert prior to Earl nibbling 2 holes in each one and they had been languishing in the cupboard as I was loath to hurl them out. It’s lucky I didn’t hurl them out, even though they have the equivalent of a small airplane of a moth bite in each one, I can unpick them and use them for my next knitting project. My last knitting project, if I can remember back that far, was when I lived in Western Australia and attempted to make my ex-husband a jumper. It got as far as the front and back portion and the 2 sleeves and when it came time to put needle to collar and cuffs that was all she wrote folks! I have been married to Steve for 13 years this year so you can work out for yourselves how long it has been since I knit anything. I am going to take this gloriously and most raucously dyed (supposedly) Tibetan wool (it is certainly rustic enough in texture to be nomadic…) and after wrangling it out of its booty shape, which takes HOURS and is punctuated with moments of arm waving and Earl restraining as he is reminded of just how tasty nomadic Tibetan woollen boots are, rolling it up into ball shape and then actually knitting gauntlets using a pattern that I found through Ravelry, a most wonderful and magical place where furtive knitters and crocheters can go to satisfy their textile lust in packs. You can get some amazing patterns for free if you hunt and cheers to Linnie for sharing it with me…

http://www.ravelry.com/

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Here is a random stolen image from my brothers Facebook page of the beach where I come from in Western Australia. Check it out folks…it’s paradise :). It took a fair bit for us to consider leaving this wonderful part of the world and relocating down to the hole in the ozone layer but the lure of 4 acres of self sufficiency was strong young padawans and here we are…but I do miss those beaches…and Steve misses the fishing…by the way sorry for pinching your image Jim (no I’m not…you never read my blog posts anyway! HA!) 😉

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I designed this shirt. I WANT this shirt. Steve Photoshopped it for me and I am going to just have to head in to a printers somewhere and get myself this shirt.

On Monday I got addicted to Pinterest. That’s all I really need to say about that. On Sunday I looked down at anyone who used Pinterest as “sad” and “pathetic” creatures who didn’t have a life. On Monday Steve left me alone to go shopping and by 11am I was hopelessly addicted with the fervour of a heroin addict on a crack high.  I have been a Pinterest “member” since foreverty-boo and just ignored it ever since. I like the fact that I had to go through a waiting period to be admitted (and they say that clever marketing doesn’t work!) which shows that I fit exactly smack bang into the middle of their ideal demographic and niche market… the person (usually female) who has NO control over her life but who has a tragic desire to put EVERYTHING in labelled boxes and create order in her chaotic (read “real”) life. It’s food porn folks, food, and health, and travel, and photographic and just about everything else “ic” that you can think of and I am now officially addicted beyond hope thanks to Steve going shopping and my RSS Feed Reader emptying out nice and early in the day. I spent an entire morning cramming my Pinterest fluffy cloud with as many foodie things as I could find and I can find a HUGE amount folks, that’s what narf7’s are for…finding things. Steve returned with a carload of stuff and I had 154 Pinterest pages open on my poor groaning browser and couldn’t do ANYTHING till I had clicked “follow” on every single one. I learned (quick smart) how to make other pages on my page and now have so much food porn I won’t ever have to cook anything myself ever again to be able to satisfy that “perfect shot”. Don’t you love the fantasy of the interweb? 😉

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Steve and I FINALLY finished our media studies for this term. We finished nice and early to give ourselves 3 weeks off to get our veggie garden built. We needed to produce a slideshow of 11 photographs that we took ourselves that mirrored the 11 rules of photography for our final assessment. The only real stipulation was that we had to link them with the common theme of a colour. Steve chose green and this photo is a portrait shot…

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This was my submission…I chose blue…I didn’t get away with it. I had to repost another image that was less photogenic where Earl and I were both looking most intently over the deck rail but a girl has her pride you know and I liked THIS shot! It might not give a very good representation of portrait but who cares…for once I am happy to post an image of myself to the blog so here it is…happy days! 🙂

So there you have it…another big mutha post and I haven’t even caught up with what we are doing! I guess that means I have plenty for Saturdays post already so I might just start it off so that when I am laying somewhat comatose at 3pm because of all of the hard work that I have undertaken for the last week and am unable to lift my feeble fingers to keyboard to share it all with you, I will at least have something to offer you, my dear constant readers. See you then and whatever you do…DON’T go to http://pinterest.com/ …don’t say I didn’t warn you folks! 😉

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)

Pasta sauce and preserving the harvest on Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

Another shopping day has arrived and Steve will be up at 6am for a quick cup of coffee and to grab the veggies and herbs that I have parcelled up for our daughters, the pile of seeds and a single eggplant (she is suspicious to the last! 😉 ) for our Friend in the witness protection and my library cards to pick up my holds at the library. I have been getting quite adventurous with some of my holds and am sure that one of the librarians is living vicariously through my choices ;). Steve loves the processes and the speed of shopping. He loves the mad dash to get to the shops just as they open and the natives are conspicuous by their absence. He gets the supermarkets to himself and now that we don’t have a massive shopping trolley full of groceries he can race to the finish line without having to feel guilty that they only put 1 poor girl on in the early mornings and that someone is muttering behind him because they only dropped in to grab a carton of milk on the way to the office. Steve has his little shopping processes and sticks to them religiously…starting with Woolworth’s and ending with picking up our chook grain from a local producer he drives like Sebastian vettel from shop to shop, out to Bunning’s (a large hardware chain store) to pick up our gas bottles and then back to town to see our friend in the witness protection at work and to pick up some tender baby leeks and black corn that she wants us to grow here to protect them from the heavy blankets of frost that she gets on her inland property (sharing means a more resilient seed bank). She bought some red flowering heritage broad beans and although I wasn’t in a position to grow them last year (before we built our raised beds) I handed them to Roxy, another friend of ours in the neighbourhood who grew them, kept half and passed the rest of the seed back to me and now I have some to share with our friend in the witness protection (I am going to have to start saying that as OFITWP 😉 ). We recently divvied up a stack of organic soil amendments that she had purchased and that we traded a stack of conifers for half of. Steve Solomon had recommended that we use these wonderful natural soil amendments and gave us soil prescriptions to remedy our soil nutrient problems (after we had a soil analysis) and all we have to do is mix up our amendments in the correct ratio’s to make our own C.O.F. (Complete Organic Fertiliser). If you would like to read a bit more about Steve Solomon who lived somewhere closer to Christi in Olalla Washington State (http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ ) than he did to us and then moved to Tasmania and is now a whole LOT closer to us than he is Christi check out this article in Mother Earth News. Steve started Territorial Seed Company in Washington State and now runs a small farm box business and develops new seed for our local conditions here in Northern Tasmania…

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2006-06-01/A-Better-Way-to-Fertilize-Your-Garden.aspx#axzz2NowQKomN

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A basin of ripe tomatoes just about to be turned into unctuous Italian style pasta sauce

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Veggies and herbs

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Found spirulina! Once disgusting, now still disgusting but useful in my morning breakfast smoothies

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How much is in each tub?!!! I have 3 of them…should keep me going forever “I have an inheritance for my kids!” 😉

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Just be thankful…VERY thankful that you don’t have smellivision on your monitors 😉

I will be making pasta sauce with another large basin of ripe tomatoes that we harvested the other day. It’s the best way for us to make good use of our gorgeous ripe tomatoes and aside from a few damaged ones that are mouldering away in Steve’s shed to give us seed for next year’s tomato growing activities, the rest are being put to good use. We use a lot of “tomato sauce” in our house. Not the ketchup variety, but home made with onions, garlic, herbs and love. We used to use tinned tomatoes but now we won’t have to because I am freezing this homemade gorgeousness in small batches, enough for a recipe. There isn’t anything that you can buy from a supermarket that compares with the flavour of homemade. It might be an old cliché, but it’s true. The processes that need to be involved to churn out an endless supply of a specific product and have it turn out the same batch after batch render that product generic to say the least. So many additives are needed and the product ends up being beside the by compared to the process that gets it from its raw state to the can/jar on the shelf. If you can do it yourself, do it. It makes a lot of difference to your intestines, your self-esteem, your wallet and to your tastebuds. Rabid (Jessie from Rabid Little Hippy blog fame… http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ ) recently made something out of the wild hawthorns on her property. Aside from skewering herself on hawthorn thorns (kudos girl 😉 ) she got 3 jars of “something” out of a whole lot of nothing and made the most of the wild harvest that was sitting outside her door. I have to take a whip to myself mentally and flagellate myself because of my inability to organise and get out and harvest more blackberries this year. They were everywhere and my only excuse is that it was so hot out there I didn’t want to stand there picking them. A pathetic and most lame excuse indeed and one that doesn’t even wash with me! Lazy… sigh. I can make it up now with the bumper crop of ruby red haws that are presenting themselves like strumpets in the hedgerows and on the sides of the road at the moment. We also have glorious and fluorescent orange wild rose hips festooning the drab little shrubs in huge quantities this year. The long hot dry conditions have at least favoured some shrubs and we may as well take advantage of this. I am thinking “Membrillo” or the Froggy equivalent “Pate de fruits” or perhaps rendering them down into a thick paste and then dehydrating them into roll ups so that I can pull a bit off the edge to use to add flavour and texture to recipes. The hips will be made into syrup to be boiled slowly down or perhaps a type of rosehip molasses like pomegranate molasses to add a major hit of vitamin C to whatever I choose to use them in.

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Although the zucchini plants are sucumbing to powdery mildew at an alarming rate, the eggplants are soldiering on regardless no matter the weather

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I really love these long thin Japanese eggplants and will grow them again next season. Much quicker to fruit and ripen and they just keep on going…and going…and going!

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I thought this was a daikon radish when I saw it the other day…nope, an albino eggplant! I am going to attempt to keep some seed from one of these to see if it will reproduce true to type 🙂

As the pasta sauce simmers (and the dogs sulk on their respective couches by Brunhilda who isn’t even on to give them a reason to lay there) I will potter around sweeping the floor (a.k.a. moving the dust from one area of the house to another) and cleaning off the computer area. It’s really my area. Steve isn’t really interested in this workstation much. He would prefer to be “Off doing something” or watching television and playing one of his guitars at the same time (acoustically folks, he isn’t superman 😉 ). He practices scales while he watches TV. I spend my free time here researching. I have recently discovered several crafting blogs through Rabid and one of them belongs to Linne who is one of my new dear constant readers. Linne is a human dynamo! The things that this lady has done with her life proves her to be a true survivor and innovator of note and if you would like to check out her blog please head here… http://arandomharvest.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/giveaway/ her most recent post is about a very novel giveaway idea that she has come up with for her 100th post. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from this feisty and most wonderful lady than to donate money to a worthy cause in the name of the winner of her 100th post giveaway. The winner will get a chance to win a most gorgeous handmade quilt and know that the money donated in their name will be used to give secure safe water to a community. What better giveaway could you want? I love people like Linne…they don’t let life get them down; they just get stuck in and go lateral and find the answers. That’s my kind of peeps and whether you are from Canada (as Linne is) or Australia or Uzbekistan or anywhere else in the world your life can’t help but be more beautiful and poignant and meaningful if you actually apply yourself to living it wholeheartedly.  Linne puts me to shame on the craft fronts. I bow to her abilities and the crafty endeavours that she is involved with are endless. I dabble (rarely) in crocheting and will usually manage a row or two of knitting before either tension problems or Earl come to rescue me but Linne soldiers on and creates beautiful things from raw materials and is truly a wonderful ambassador for her ilk.

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What do you do with 2 litres of mature kefir?

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You drain it till it is quarter of its original bulk

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and you end up with the tangiest ricotta substitute you ever tasted 🙂

Linne and I were recently talking about how we need to preserve our traditions for future generations. The crafts that we do today for pleasure are the result of the necessities of the past and we need to be learning these crafts and pass them on. Linne mentioned a wonderful teacher who took their student charges out to learn from elders in the community. Aside from being a wonderful opportunity to forge community, imagine the skills that these children were able to learn? I think it is a wonderful idea. Apparently the teacher and children documented these forays into the community and what a wonderful learning exercise that would have been. Today’s political correctness would have that sort of community venture fraught with legal requirements and prohibitive insurance coverage rendering it near on impossible to do something as simple as share anymore and we are lesser people for our need to clog up any process with so many rules that we can’t actually do ANYTHING  anymore. Our parents and their parents seemed to manage alright playing on swing sets without a metre of soft fall underneath…sure they broke a few arms but they called it “experience” and were done with it. No-one expected “someone else” to pay for their own personal choices but now everyone seems to want to pass the buck. There are always consequences folks and even if we do manage to get someone else to pay for them, what goes around comes around and society is worse for our efforts.

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Freshly harvested walnuts “NO MORE FOR YOU RATS!”

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My work station to remove the husks from the nuts and toss them straight into the compost heap where they can leach to their hearts content. Note the chickens behind bars…a most satisfying situation 😉

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How disgusting do my hands look?!! I have to tell you that it was only 3/4 of the way through my shelling event when I rememebered that walnut husks are used to dye wood…and apparently fingers 😦

http://mysite.verizon.net/ELLshipmodeler/walnut.htm

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Some of the husked nuts showing you that we had a good walnut year this year

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They look like little brains…which is coincedentally what eating walnuts is very good for…your brain. (Note to self EAT WALNUTS! 😉 )

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Now I just have to let them dry out to store them in their shells

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This nut split while I was roughhousing it and the fresh nutmeat is very different to the dry nut we know well.

My new rss feed reader has me a bit flummoxed. It’s not that it is worse than Google read; it is just “different”. I am not a creature that likes change. I like my morning processes to be regular so that I can yawn and get out of bed, stumble to the kitchen (I am starting to sound like some song lyrics here 😉 ) in the dark and put on my clothes where I won’t wake Steve up. I then put the kettle on (still half asleep and half clothed because I have tried to put my shirt onto my leg 😉 ) and I turn on the P.C. and monitor to get them going ready for when my eyes have decided to focus on the same thing at the same time (Steve Buscemi doesn’t know that I borrow his eyes for a short period of time while he sleeps on the other side of the world 😉 )…my processes are my slow ascent into my days and each one primes me for my 3 or so hours of research, blog posting and eventual readiness to tackle my days head on (and at full speed once Steve and the dogs wake up at 7am) with a positive attitude and a readiness for what is ahead. I used to be a real grouch in the mornings and now I am practically Pollyanna ;). This new Rss feed reader is completely independent from a browser although I have to be connected if I want to update my feeds.  I can read to my heart’s content but at the moment it still feels foreign to me and hasn’t quite got me excited about my mornings. Google will be stopping their reader on July 1st. I am hoping that my feed reader (that currently syncs with Google Reader) won’t suddenly do a Millennium bug and “stop” when Google disappears. I have taken a backup of all of my information just in case it does (fool me once!) and will just have to head off (sighing heavily) with my tech savvy husband to find another feed reader that will support my 501 blogs that I follow (3 up from my last post 😉 ). Who would have thought that a Luddite would come to be so dependent on something technical eh? Certainly not this little black duck, but as a ducky style magpie my need to learn has overridden my bolshie need to stay put when it comes to technology and I keep forging ahead because it suits me to do so.

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Herman’s old sourdough pot being recycled to house flour and starter overnight for early morning cinnamon muffins

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After taking off the lid the sourdough is ready to be used in my muffins. I add kefir to my mix to ensure I get a really good rise and great flavour and digestibility with anything grainy

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The finished muffins. Poor Steve keeps getting more and more treats to eat and there is only 1 of him. Might have to start taking treats to the neighbours 😉

I should be reading my rss feed reader as I tap away here. It’s 5.42am and I will be putting the kettle on in a minute to make Steve his first and only cup of coffee till he gets home at around 11am. If I went with him (and God forbid…the dogs!) we would probably be still shopping at 3pm. Steve is a human one man dynamo who is able to negotiate the supermarket aisles with both speed and purpose, stopping only to help short elderly ladies to reach things on top shelves. Curiously babies and elderly ladies know with an inerrant instinct that Steve is harmless. He might appear to be a crazed trolley wielding maniac to most people but animals, babies and the elderly just “know” :o). Where other people tend to steer clear of us/him when we are on a mission (he is hardly “mainstream” material!) he is constantly being approached and asked for help by elderly ladies who he always helps. He is, despite his appearance, a most wonderful soul and always finds time to help someone who needs it. He is a crazy mix of incredible impatience that will have him twitching at a moment’s notice but an equally momentous stubborn streak that will have him labouring long into the night to ensure he is able to solve a problem or find a way to do something. We have to head out soon to attend our graduation for our Diploma of Landscape Design that we completed last year. We will wear gowns and will be presented with a bit of paper for posterity’s sake and will be applauded by an audience of our peers and who would care about it if we didn’t want to send Steve’s mum a photo of the event. Hopefully we will return to a home that hasn’t been desiccated by Earl and Bezial will be still mentally able to function and won’t be a dog perpetually mentally in the foetal position for the rest of his life. Earl has a way of making people twitch ;). We might even be able to meet our current lecturer at this event. Any lecturer worth their salt turns up to give their graduating students a bit of well-deserved kudos, after all, its these graduating students that keep lecturers in jobs. We will get Nat to take a photo of us in our silly gowns and if I don’t hate the results too much, you might even get to see them here…if you don’t…don’t ask! 😉

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I decided to use my mature kefir “ricotta” to make Steve a wonderful homemade lasagna. I had some of the aforementioned unctuous Italian style pasta sauce and decided to make lasagna sheets (after looking in the pantry and discovering that we didn’t have any…)

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Earl has developed a distinct love for raw eggs and anything containing a large proportion of eggs (think omelette, French toast and now egg rich pasta dough!)…don’t panic, he didn’t get that questing beak into the pasta, Steve removed him and all traces of his presence from the table quick smart! 😉

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A close-up of lasagne heaven

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Another case of “Not enough Steve’s” to eat what I make him…anyone want to be adopted (but only for mealtimes and coffee breaks!) 😉

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I would like to call this post “Windswept and interesting” and be done with it! (Note, Steve insisted on wearing those Cons to maintain his hippy dignity in the award ceremony…they worked…the M.C. (after delivering the correct Diploma spiel for me) announced Steve as “Steve Pimblett”… nothing else! Obviously he was so cool he didn’t need to pass anything to be given an award 😉

Another post is starting to draw to an end and I am constantly amazed at how avidly my muses direct me around the dance floor of my mind. I used to wonder at Stephen Kings ability to write book after book and now I know how he does it. He is harnessed to a flotilla of muses who are all forging ahead regardless and all he has to do is listen intently to their avid mutterings and he has his “words”. Mine flow out like overflow water from a rainwater tank and for now, they show no signs of halting. Whether that’s to your benefit or not I am sure you will work out for yourselves ;). I officially have 133 blog followers but I have more than a sneaking suspicion that most of them don’t actually read the blog any more. I have a close core of dear constant readers who grace me with wonderful comments and suggestions and I couldn’t hope for better. I am, indeed, a very lucky blogger. I get delightful regular spam that sometimes makes me “SQUEE” with delight because it is so hilarious…something along the lines of “I loved your blog and share with kids mine happy days you mate!” from someone called “BIG_willyforu”… how could you not love that eh? ;). Blogging has certainly made my life richer. It channelled my need to write and allowed me to quantify my own little world to share with the rest of you and sharing is what this is all about. I get the feeling that some people don’t really realise that. You can tell bloggers who are blogging in an attempt to elevate themselves up the social hierarchal structure…the “Look at ME” blogs and the “Aren’t I FANTASTIC” blogs…and I don’t follow blogs like that. I prefer real people who are open and honest about their lives and who like to share. Why would you want to follow someone who spends their posts telling you how great they are? Surely you should be able to work that out for yourself if, indeed the blogger is worth reading about? Every one of my 500+ blogs is worth it for some or other reason. They range from the blogging equivalent of rock stars to humble small blogs with very few followers and every single one of them is precious to me. If I follow your blog, you are one of the select groups of blogs that has made it through my rigorous selection criteria to get to where you are and I am a HARSH task mistress…a positive sadist when it comes to blogs so you can only begin to imagine how many blogs I reject ;). Ok, enough of this! We all have things to do this morning/today/tonight and we can’t be spending hours with narf7 on a quest to goodness only knows where…time to mentally disengage and head off into the real world and get “doing”… thank you all for sharing the time with me to read what I tap out here in my early mornings when my brain is fresh and raring to go…most of you won’t see much of 3.30am so I am glad to translate it for you. See you all on Saturday when goodness only knows what we have been up to but at least we are living it to the fullest :o)

A confraturnity of early morning bloggers

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This is OFFICIALLY “Me” 🙂

Wednesday wanderings and last posts

Hi All,

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

I get a little chuckle sometimes when I get the little witticism that WordPress gives me, most graciously, whenever I post a post. I shared it with you last post and this one made me smile so I am going to share it with you again. Do you Blogspotters get that? If not…time to rise up against Google’s oppression! Sorry…my bolshie self-overpowered my well behaved beginning of post self and snuck out there for a moment…please disregard that last sentence ;).  It’s Sunday and I found myself up and typing at 2.30am. It would seem that misery LOVES Company and Bezial is taking his own degree of schadenfreude from his personal refusal to eat his tea last night (for whatever reason… Bezial is a complex conundrum at the best of times and at the worst of times he is a neurotic bundle of self-appointed restraint processes…) to avail me of an early rising time so that I can listen to him drinking water after being forced to eat DOG BISCUITS to prevent himself from starving to death…and expecting me to shepherd him back to my side of the bed…to my nice warm pillow where he will rest his head until approximately 6.30 where he will get out of bed and lay staring at me until I go to the cupboard and retrieve some form of treat to fill his nagging stomach… dogs are children for life people…CHILDREN FOR LIFE!

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Our current “children” after an impromptu walk and swim at Swan Point yesterday

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A hound and his rock

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Not to be outdone, Earl on HIS rock

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Bezial walking on water…”You WIN Bezial” 😉

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How we get our “children” to listen to us and do what we want

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of something or somewhere we really don’t want to be. It might be right off the beaten track and all we can see is the moment and how stuck we are BUT sometimes we need to be dragged away from our comfort zone so that we can find something new. I guess what I am trying to say in my usual convoluted word paths are that every cloud has a silver lining and that where you are at the moment might just be the pathway needed to get you to someplace better. This experience that you are going through right now might be important for some prospective future happiness and we just don’t know it now. I am in the process of trying to not sweat the small stuff and learn to find “something” positive in every situation. It makes me cringe to type that because murphy’s law dictates that someone who is cocky enough to type something like that is going to take a tumble post haste and have to ruminate on the true meaning of their words but there comes a time when you have to start honing your behaviour and your responses to what life hands you so that you can get the best out of every situation. What’s the point sitting in a pile of ashes and lamenting your lot when you could rise up like the phoenix and make something beautiful out of what life has handed you? There is our true strength of character…the ability to keep getting up and facing what we are gifted and making the most out of it. That all came from me finding a recipe that wasn’t particularly what I was interested in this morning but that had links at the bottom of it to some really great recipes. If I hadn’t clicked on this recipe, thinking that it was worthwhile (it wasn’t…) I wouldn’t have found the other recipes. We have to step out in faith that we are going to make it, that we are going to make a difference to our lives and knowing that in being brave enough to face what life hands us and deal with it, that we are going to live a more honest and productive and “real” life in the process.

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A Serendipity Sunset moment

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The pretty pebble beach at Swan Point

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The only shot of about 70 that I took that has something even VAGUELY looking like the wasps that live in this hole in the photo. They were exiting in a steady stream totally ignoring me with the camera perched up close and personal to their exit hole. The wasps and I are mano-a-mano 😉

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A lovely Pinus radiata right on the edge of the pebble beach

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A closeup of the pines root system showing how they grow right into the river

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This little section of beach reminds me of Victorian England for some reason

Now that the philosophy is out of the way I can talk about a few more processes that take you from A to B. It’s just on 6am on Monday morning. Once a fortnight Steve joins me on my early morning wake-up session not quite at 4am but I deliver a cup of strong coffee (his last till 11am when he gets back home) just before 6am and he gets up, puts the shopping list on his phone and heads out the door armed with veggies for our daughters in the city, the ubiquitous gas bottle that needs filling over summer and anything else that needs to be done on the day to take advantage of the $40 of fuel used to do this trip. Today Steve has a doozy of a “doing” day. Last night we had to head into the chook run to catch as many young chooks as we could. We are giving some to the woman that we buy our dog meat from as her husband’s hens are getting a bit long in the tooth and are no longer producing eggs. I had NO idea if we were choosing roosters or hens because it’s dark by the time that we are able to go into the run or all of the chooks would turn into a seething mass of squawking flapping chaotic feathers and we would stress them out unduly so after dark we sneak quietly into the coop armed with Steve’s trusty L.E.D. torch and try to work out what we want to catch and what we don’t. Steve went first to check where the younger chooks (ascertained by their size) were roosting on the perches and came back armed with one of them…BONUS! Only 4 – 5 to go! Next I headed in and grabbed 2 from a perch that Steve had directed me to with his torch. We got out to the shed where we had a larger cage with hay in it to hold them overnight until we could put them into boxes for their trip to the city. When we got to the shed we realised that one of the chooks we had nabbed was Pingu!!! So back to the shed she went protesting all the way and was put back onto a perch and we spent the next 15 minutes trying to find young chooks whilst not retrieving older hens. We managed to get 5 and I have the strong feeling that at least 3 of them are roosters but I am NOT feeling guilty about it anymore because the rendezvous that Steve set up with our dog food lady that she was supposed to turn up to resulted in him waiting around for her to turn up and it being a non-event. He had to drop the boxed chooks off at our daughter’s house and they have to stay in boxes till 9am till he can take them to her shop and drop them off. He is NOT a happy camper to say the least! When someone puts a LOT of effort into giving you chooks for free, you at least bother to turn up to get them!!!

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Apparently this is where Thomas the Tank Engine resides in the day time…

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A closeup of the Batman Bridge in the distance from Swan Point

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I love the way that the conifers grow right into the river

Next on Steve’s long and winding list is heading to our daughters home. He put the chooks in the shed where Qi, the girl’s little staffy dog, will be MOST interested in the blucking contents of those boxes.  After spending ages rolling around on the floor in the unit out the back of our daughters home with Qi, Steve went through a few stored old boxes and found where he had stashed the tripod to his camera ages ago and some large containers of Spirulina, some protein powder and some other useful products that we may as well use as leave sitting in the unit. Madeline picked him some pears while he fossicked around and he delivered the eggplants, tomatoes a couple of corn cobs, some cucumbers and a few zucchini to them. After that he had to head off to Polytechnic over the other side of the river (Launceston sits at the mouth of the Tamar River) and get some student I.D. (photo library card) to prove that he is, indeed, studying so that we can get our student copy of Adobe CS6. He also needs to print out some A3 pages from our course so that we can draw 50 Pumpkins (badly) for task number 7. We are up to task 14 at the moment and have studiously avoided the pumpkin drawing efforts but as the due date is racing towards us we figure we had best bit the bullet (almost literally!) and get scrawling. We also have 3 pages of instructions for David, the owner of our local health food shop for how to look after and use Kefir and Sourdough Starter. I gave him lots of links so that he shouldn’t have any problems with it. Jessie from http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ most generously swapped some real sourdough starter and milk kefir grains with me a while ago and both of them are doing extremely well. Audrey produced a sterling child to send off to David and Kid Creole waved a fond goodbye to most of his coconuts in the same transaction. Next I will be getting some water kefir and I even found a recipe for kombucha SCOBY manufacture by using only purchased kombucha. I am going to have to see if any of our local health food shops sell it. I don’t think David does and here in conservative Launceston where people who eat only vegetables are seen as mutants from outside space, it might be best not to advertise that said “mutant” is trying to breed colonies of strange growing fungi and bacterial relationships… you never know where something like that could end!

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The mist on the water was really pretty this morning

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There is something very romantic about mist on the water and yachts

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I am ONLY allowed to use this photo if I call it “Reflections on rock 1” apparently…

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closely followed by “Reflections on Rock 2″…(sigh…)

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Now that Steve has given up his Yoko Ono phase in photography for today here is another pretty shot taken while we were walking the dogs

After getting the printing done at the Polytechnic library where we only JUST found out that your first $5 worth of printing is free… (After 4 years of Polytechnic you would think that SOMEONE would have told us that by now?!!!) Steve will head back into Mowbray to do some veggie shopping because finally some of the shops he wants to shop in are opening. He has already picked up the 2 x 18kg sacks of free range chook food at the stock feed place on the way to our daughters home and done most of the shopping at Woolworths in Legana but he likes to check out Coles as well and Mowbray has the best Coles shop in Launceston and is conveniently right next to David’s shop and our grocers store. Steve then has to head back to our daughters on the other side of the river to pick up the poor long suffering chooks in boxes to take to Suzie’s and drop them off. He is going to make sure that they are not going to be left in her car till after work or he is going to bring them back home! She is going to guarantee him that she will take them straight home or he won’t leave them. After picking up our $80 dog steak order for the fortnight Steve will head over to Bunning’s about 15 minutes away from Suzie’s shop and pick up 2 gas bottles and anything else on the list that is “hardware” based and by that stage he should be well and truly ready to come home. He will drive back the West Tamar way and will drop off my library books that are due back today whilst picking up at least 1 book that has been languishing there for ages waiting for both us to go to Exeter and the library to be open (not easy when it’s only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and last Wednesday it was closed for a horserace!) I sometimes don’t “get” Tasmanian mentality but that might be a good thing ;). Steve will get back home laden with “stuff” that will need to be put into fridges, onto pantry shelves and batched up and frozen and whether he is tired or not it all has to be done pretty much immediately and all whilst fending off excited dogs who miss him like crazy when he goes. Do you wonder why I don’t volunteer to do the shopping? ;). Seriously though, Steve loves the cut and thrust of a crazy shopping day. He lived in cities all of his life and he just doesn’t process the bampf like I do. I get UBER stressed out when hurled into a day spent handing over the readies and driving back and forth all over the city in ever decreasing circles of frustration so it’s VERY lucky that he doesn’t mind doing it. We can’t afford the bail money if I am let loose on an unsuspecting Launceston all on my own 😉

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Bezial furtively hunting for fish and the mist has almost cleared

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It’s hard to feel anything other than blessed when you get to walk someplace like this any day you like 🙂

I am researching vegan cheeses yet again. I am now able to add a few extras into my new eating habits and the odd bit of something reminiscent of cheese would be a “tick” on my part. I found a great site called http://www.veganwiz.com/ on my early morning travels and have been trawling their cheezy back posts and found something called “Vegrino”…not wanting to miss out on something that looked frankly amazing, I headed off to Google the recipe after being unable to find it on the site. There were plenty of references to it with variations but not the original recipe. I ended up finding a recipe for it on the Italian sister site to Veganwiz “Veganblog.it” http://www.veganblog.it/ and have added this to my rss feed reader as well because nothing stops me from a good recipe! Google translate has given me a means to an end when it comes to seeing something scrumptious and being hampered by a lack of comprehension (on my part) for the language being used to explain it. After spending 30 minutes translating various explanations for what Vegrino was (and initially having to find the site through Pinterest…) I managed to find a translatable and understandable (not always the same thing! 😉 ) recipe to follow. From what I can see it is the vegan equivalent of labna and is a soft mild soy yoghurt cheeze. Was it worth an hour of my time to find it? I don’t know to be honest but you can be sure that when I try it, you will be the first to know :o). I have taken to rinsing things out in the sink and taking the rinse water out and tipping it over the deck rail into the garden below. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this idea but finally I found a way to stop feeling guilty about running water down our sink. Steve has an idea for how to irrigate the garden with our grey water from the sink and when he sorts it out I will share it with you. I will be checking Bev’s ideas from Foodnstuff as she is ingenious when it comes to irrigating using waste water and run-off water. I also have an idea to turn the pantry in the kitchen into a little nook for me along the lines of this beauty…

Lovely book nook from a cupboard

I don’t know who owns this photo but please don’t sue me! I am giving you acres of kudos for this amazing cosy nook and aside from shamelessly stealing your idea the kudos is ALL yours!

Now I am off to finish off my Rss Feed reader for the day then I will be hunting out an interesting font that I like. I need to do an exercise using the font of my choice to construct a typeface box of glory. Steve has finished his…Steve is a girly swat. I haven’t finished mine. I am a procrastinating sloth. Now that I have said it, there is nothing for it but to head off and hunt! Shopping I suck at, hunting is where I excel so long as it stays in the mental realm :o). Ok you lot, we have spent enough time writing and reading this post of randomness. Hopefully your minds are now cram packed with interesting facts and wonder and you are eager to head off into your day/night and make the best of the fantastic information that I just gave you… OR you could just go and watch telly and “forgedaboudit”… see you on Saturday guys, enjoy your telly watching 😉

When more isn’t the answer

Hi All,

Writing is a struggle against silence.

Carlos Fuentes

Isn’t that lovely? I hasten to add that I hardly need to worry about the silence because whenever I get 2 minutes to myself the silence suddenly disappears into a frolicking dog, a husband who needs a hand with something or I fall asleep…hardly time to worry myself about silence but let’s just start tapping away to make sure that it doesn’t invade our psyche and do some sort of Freudian damage. I wasn’t sure what I was going to type today. We have been pretty full on with our studies this week and it is somewhat difficult to get back into the study habit when you have been luxuriating in all the free time in the world and being able to do whatever you want with said time. The course isn’t difficult but it is making us think a lot and is pulling us into a more creative frame of mind which suits both of us just fine. We learn something every day and Steve is picking up a copy of the student version of Adobe C.S.6 on Monday when he heads in to do the shopping so that we can launch ourselves into Photoshop 6. My wonderful kind younger brother bought himself a new camera not so long ago and gave us the perfectly good camera that he already had. This works out wonderfully because we really need a camera each for this course and now we are able to head off in different directions and take lots of photos for the course requirement. Steve is really interested in using Photoshop etc. and there are some very interesting programs in this package for writers as well. At least we are gaining a lot of information that is helping me, especially, to learn more about technology.

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The camera that my brother gave us. If you are reading “Cheers Jim! :)”

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On wednesday Serendipity Farm was dripping wet…today it’s sunny again

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The vacancy rate might not be anything to write home about but at least 1 wasp lived here over the summer season 🙂

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Serendipity Farms view of the Tamar River this afternoon

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A panorama taken with the new camera…not bad! 🙂

I pulled up the older corn and stripped the few cobs of corn from it. It wasn’t a huge success but at least we got some corn. The tomatoes, on the other hand, are going great guns. I just picked another large basin full of them and there are plenty still on the bushes. I picked lots of eggplants and I am tossing up what to do with them. I will give some of the tomatoes and eggplants to my daughters along with some zucchini and their creative minds can come up with something that they would like to do with them. No doubt it will be something Korean and delicious. Our chickens are still on strike and I am getting tired of “no eggs” as their mantra. I know that they are moulting but surely someone could lay an egg?! We are giving 6 away on Monday to minimise the flock a bit and we are also giving away some of Kid Creole’s coconuts (excess kefir grains) and I am feeding up Audrey to donate some of her to our local health food shop. David and Lee are lovely people who are very knowledgeable about health and when I asked them if they would like some excess kefir spotted an opportunity. I dare say they will be able to share it with customers who would like some. I love the way that generosity flows around. You pass something on to someone else, and they share with someone else and pretty soon everyone is sharing. I saw a really great idea on one of the blogs that I follow the other day. It was about a new system at the library where if you hold a library card you can take a packet of saved seeds to grow in your garden. Once you grow your seed and bring back seed to swap you can swap it for another packet of seed. I love the idea of using a library for more than just books. Libraries are hubs of knowledge for the common man. You don’t need the internet to take out a book and as your library card is free, the knowledge is also free…how precious is that? :o). I have been formulating my seed swap network along with designing a web page for the course we are doing. Steve is working on his spoon website to sell wooden spoons and I figured I may as well start where I meant to finish up and so will be working on designing and planning how to go about swapping seed in Tasmania. Firstly I need to get a network of people who are interested in saving and swapping seed and I might have to pick the lady who blogs at http://ediblethings.net/ mind regarding her seedy pen pal swaps and see what kind of swaps can be made. It’s an entirely exciting proposition and one that would develop a network of like-minded people and a virtual seed bank of possibilities for many others.

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Apparently my kitchen is part of the arch nemisis of Batman confraturnity  but even though I was on a considerable lean, you can see some of the harvest from this morning along with Kid Creole and his erstwhile coconuts awaiting their morning bath in fresh milk

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We seem to have a decidedly orange theme going on in the last 2 photos. I keep throwing found road things into that brass hanging pot and the blue thing on the top is my latest find. We discovered it on one of our daily walks and it’s the brass nozzle of a spray painting unit.

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I was testing out the new camera…Bernard and Manny our Java finches say “Hi” 🙂

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Still a bit orange but that’s mostly to do with the Western Red Cedar cladding. This photo was to show you how happy the yellow banksia rose is now that I have tipped a heady mass of mulch over its previously parched roots…it wants to repay me by taking over the house. Join the queue rose, Earl is first in line…

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I have just snuck this shot in as Steve found it and said “This is genius food!” He is going to buy some frankfurters and spaghetti on Monday in the shopping and is going to reproduce this amazing food. He also said “No kid would be able to resist these!”…obviously not… 😉

It’s the second day of autumn but you wouldn’t know it here in Tasmania. We have the promise of 27C today, 27C tomorrow and 30C on Monday. I am starting to wonder if summer is going to be the new black! I still have a big heap of mulch that I might start wheelbarrowing around to the side garden to try to give it a bit of relief from the long dry season that we have just had. I heard on the weather report that we have broken all of the records for temperature and for dryness in Australia this year and that’s not something to be proud of. They were saying that if you are 27 years or younger, you have no idea of what Australia’s “average” temperature for summer is because for the last 27 years we have exceeded it. I am not a fear monger and I am not in the business of trying to scare people but this long extended dry season is starting to make me twitch. I know that we aren’t the only people sick of summer. I read blogs about the flip side and how people can’t wait for summer. If I could bag it up and send it off to you I would folks! Most Australians would love to deliver a big bag of summer right to your doorstep for a bit of rain and a few days indoors near the fire. I am trying to work out what we are going to plant for winter crops this year. I haven’t ever grown a winter crop before and it’s a complete unknown quantity to me. I have been shamelessly pilfering information from wonderful gardeners like Sarah from the wonderful blog http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ because New Zealand is just a hop-step and jump from us here in Tassie and so what she is doing, I can surreptitiously pinch and do here. Sorry Sarah, remember that they DO say that copying is the sincerest form of flattery ;). There are some amazing gardening blogs out there and one of my favourites is http://www.sgaonline.org.au/ and I certainly get heaps of ideas from this blog but I like the personal touch of checking out what other people are doing just like me. I can learn so much from these more experienced gardeners and even though they might be on the other side of the world I also follow Margaret at http://awaytogarden.com/ that has a fantastic blog with amazing information. Her back posts are the stuff that this penniless hippies dreams are made of and she shares her knowledge so readily. Her friend Gayla is also amazing and has a fantastic blog called http://www.yougrowgirl.com/about/ all of these gardeners are our kind of gardeners…real people with real problems and solutions for what happens from day to day in their gardens. We might not have some of the pests and diseases that they have and they might not have some of the imported weeds that we suffer with but the online gardening community is an incredibly vibrant place to be and in sharing what we learn, we are giving someone else the chance to get down and dirty and fall totally and utterly in love with this big wide beautiful world. Getting your hands dirty is tantamount to a serious sensual awakening folks…you can’t help but gain something from the experience :o)

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Flower number 1. I found this nice little geranium, that has the added benefit of being scented, on one of our walks and took a piece to grow. Geraniums are incredibly hardy, waterwise and very easy to grow for those of you who aren’t gardeners and I plan on sourcing lots of lovely specimens for Serendipity Farm

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This pretty Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) is thriving in Steve’s shed. It is too hot to plant it out yet and once it cools down a bit and we get some rain I will be planting it somewhere in the side garden

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The Mondarda that I bought when I went to Wychwood has finally flowered. It too lives in the shed for now, but will be planted out in the side garden as well.

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I had just watered our potted plants and noticed this most interesting effect on a small Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) in a pot. I liked how the hairy leaves had held onto the water droplets

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My small potted fig tree has produced tiny figlets for the last 2 years but they dropped and nothing eventuated. This year it has 2 large figs… maybe I will get to try one? It all depends on whether the possums learn to fly… 😉

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One of the Nerine bowdenii that are flowering like crazy in the front garden and are making a lovely splash of autumn promise

It is getting hard to find nice pictures to share with you all. The garden has had enough of summer and we don’t have to worry about pulling weeds or mowing lawns in 2013 because they are all officially deceased. Brown is the new green in our neck of the woods and Tasmania is wet compared to most of the rest of Australia. Where I come from in Western Australia the vegetation is brown for most of the year as millennia of low rainfall has taught it not to trust dark clouds. You would be surprised just what grows in arid areas though and Western Australia has some of the most beautiful plants and wildflowers in all of Australia. I have one little bit of hope that at least nature thinks that it is autumn. The nerines are all flowering. It’s hard to believe that anything would have the will to flower when the soil it is growing in is little more than transient dust but flower they are and most beautifully as well. I have a cunning plan. I am going to formulate a list of very hardy arid waterwise plants (preferably perennials and shrubs) that I am going to source next spring to plant on Serendipity Farm. I am tired of planting things that need extra care when what we need are hardy plants that are just happy to be in the ground. No more mollycoddling plants and anything that doesn’t like living here won’t be getting any preferential treatment any more. We have been amazed at being able to grow plants like cardamom and turmeric and even if we have to resort to doing something like this…

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/01/11/free-hot-water-from-compost-wheelie-bin/

to keep our glasshouse warmer in winter and grow happy tropical rhizomes we will. Isn’t that a good idea by the way? The West Tamar council are trialling giving ratepayers a compost bin each to see if it doesn’t cut down green waste. At the moment the scheme is only available to the residents of Gravelly Beach but hopefully it will expand and we will all get one. Ratepayers can choose to use it as a compost bin or to put all of their green waste into it and wheel it out once a month to the curb to be collected by a council truck that will haul it off to be composted en masse.  I think it’s a great idea and if we do get one, I will make a hot water glasshouse heater with ours :o)

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We went to Deviot to walk the boys today and Steve liked the look of this shot…I like the look of it as well 🙂

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An Echinacea angustifolia growing inside the heritage apple and pear covered garden at Deviot. I am waiting for the seed to dry and will shake a few into a paper bag for Serendipity Farm

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The toilet block at the back of the Deviot Hall. I like these donated white tiles that were painted by the local children and their parents and that now grace the loo.

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Just to show you how dry our soil is here at the moment. This large crack was spotted on our walk this morning

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A ricketty jetty leading out into the river.

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Looks like Italy doesn’t it?

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Its been a really good blackberry season this year so far. I am doing my best to collect as many as I can to use my alchemy and turn into blackberry wine

It certainly took me a long time to get around to talking about the title of the post today didn’t it? Anyone who has been reading my blog for more than a few posts knows that I have been attempting to get healthier since my mum died last year in January. I took a long hard look at my relationship with food and decided that my 40 year love/hate relationship with food was officially OVER. I stopped dieting because you would think that if something was going to work it would have done so in the previous 40 years so I figured that dieting wasn’t working for me (or anyone for that matter) and started to eat healthy food, to exercise daily and to start coming to grips with severing the link between my emotions and my mouth. I weighed in at 90kg when I headed over for mum’s funeral. Not lightweight by anyone’s ideals and I had a lot of problems with my knees and was starting to think that I might actually need surgery on them in the near future. Since mum died I have lost 23kg. I now weigh 67kg, which might not be light by some people’s reckoning but that, is the lightest that I have been since I was 12 years old. I no longer have pain in my knees and although my left knee is stiff, it isn’t sore. When I gave up dieting I gave up so much more than an unhealthy relationship with food. I gave up the need to legitimise myself through food and my excuses for why I wasn’t a capable person. After just over a year, food is just that…”Food”. I no longer think about it every waking hour and that is possibly one of the most liberating things that has ever happened to me. I love to walk now and actually volunteer to walk Earl when Bezial has a sore leg. I have heaps of energy and have discovered that getting up early gives me some precious “Me” time every single day. I think there comes a time when we all have to question our bad habits and see if they are worth our support. My emotional need to overeat was holding me back from living. I can do what I need to do now. The only problem that I have is when Steve wants me to hold both dogs’ leads when he wants to take a photograph because now, their combined weight exceeds mine :o). The best thing of all is that I haven’t felt like I have been deprived of anything whilst I have been steadily losing weight. I plateaued at 76kg for about 4 months but then started having green smoothies for breakfast and suddenly I started to lose weight all over again. I don’t eat any less, I just eat what my body needs me to eat and I make sure to include healthy fats because despite what modern society might preach, we NEED fat folks. Fat is incredibly important for metabolism and for our ability to absorb certain vitamins. If you want nice skin, you need to eat the right kind of fats. I no longer have to starve myself, I no longer have to count calories, I no longer have to weigh myself morning and night and I certainly don’t have to strip down to my undies to try to eke out the best result. I am left lighter in body but more importantly, in mind, spirit and soul. I have been given a second chance while I still have time to enjoy it and I will make sure not to abuse this privilege

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This poor Stewartia pseudocamellia was on its last legs in the ground but we dug it up, repotted it and left it to soak in this container of water and look at it now! Plants are very resiliant things 🙂

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Some of the grape vine cuttings that struck…all of them will be planted out around the circumference of our large fully enclosed veggie patch

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These potted plants don’t get hit so hard by the direct sun because they are on the South side of Steve’s shed but they are still showing signs of being completely OVER summer

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The sole artichoke plant that survived. I think its simply because it is right near the deck in a semi enclosed area and the wallabies are too scared to get too close to the deck because the silent marauder lives on the deck (One of Earl’s pseudonyms…)

I am going to head off now and spend the rest of today hunting for recipes for ways to use up kefir. Kid Creole and all of his coconutty babies have been going nuts and producing a steady stream of yoghurt like kefir that I don’t consume and that Steve is wary of. I include it in Steve’s favourite sourdough chocolate cake now but 1 cup once a week isn’t going to empty my fridge of kefir and as self-appointed “house researcher” it is my duty to find useful and tasty ways to use it up. Wish me luck folks or we might drown in the stuff! See you all on Wednesday and make sure to take a moment out of your day to be grateful for everything in your life, It is a most rewarding practice and apparently, according to scientific research, it makes you a happier person and who wouldn’t love to be a little bit happier for free? :o)

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