Thursday, 23 March 2017

Independence Days Challenge: Week Twenty Two

I'm so excited - I feel like one of those crazed fans! I just picked up the mail and my signed copy of Grown and Gathered has arrived. Yay!

I had to return my library copy as there is a long hold list on it. So I just had to order my own copy.
This quote shows one of the things I love about this book - many people seem to have become too caught up in the 'labels', paying more attention to this than to the more important issues. It is pointless buying organic if it has to be flown halfway around the world to get to you.

'We would love to see everyone return to a simpler, slower life, more connected to their food again. Such a connection changes the way we see our food, the way we purchase, eat, cook and live. It is a connection to all of the experiences that lead up to - and run so much deeper than - the eating. Food experienced in this way just tastes so much better.
We believe in growing the traditional way, before synthetic fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and the very idea of waste existed. We want you to forget all the words. Forget "raw" and "permaculture" and "biodynamic" and even "organic". Farming should just be farming, growing growing and eating eating - without chemicals and synthetic fertilisers. It was the only way in the past, and will be the only way again in the future.'
Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil pg 33

1. Plant something

There was a plant sale in our town this week, so I purchased a few perennials and natives to fill in the garden and fenceline.

Filling in the rock garden. It looks very bare at the moment, but I have made the mistake before of planting too close together and then having to move perennials.

In the greenhouse, I have sown kale (red and dwarf), lettuce, silverbeet, fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, pak choy, parsley, coriander, purple podded peas and sweet peas. And quite a few have already germinated!

In the garden, I direct sowed some snow peas.

The shelling peas have been growing well, so I will sow another row next week.

I also found some carob and stone pine seeds. They are use by 2010, so I have just planted them to see if any will germinate. I soaked them for 24 hours before planting them.

And I have set some avocado pits in water to see if they will germinate. It is probably too cold here for avocadoes to do well, but I have a sheltered corner I could plant them as an experiment. If they sprout, that is!

2. Harvest something

It is really just the herb garden growing at the moment - mint, Vietnamese mint, sage, rosemary, chives. And eggs.

3. Preserve something

A friend has just bought a new house and has inherited the most gorgeous fig tree. It is absolutely bowed down with fruit, so I was blessed with some this week.
I made Slow Roasted Figs, using this recipe from Canning For A New Generation. Except I did not preserve them. I roasted the figs as per the recipe. Without cleaning the pan, I then roasted a chicken in the fig syrup, putting the lemon slices on top of the chicken. The figs we had for dessert with ricotta and honey.
It was so delicious! And the gravy that was made from that pan was so rich and gorgeous!

4. Minimise waste

I have been given a water saving device that collects the water from your washing machine and diverts it to the garden, a Water Wheelie . I would not have bought it but as someone gave it to us, I am using it. It was very handy to keep the fruit trees watered in the recent hot weather without me having to cart water to them.

5. Want not

Just a little upcycle this week. I was given this teabag box a while ago.

It did have a glass lid but one of the boys broke it. I mainly use leaf tea but have kept it knowing there just had to be a use for it. And I have come up with one!
I will use it to separate seeds into weeks for planting. This way, I can have nine weeks of seeds organised, ready for sowing. Every four weeks, I will rotate them and organise the next month of seeds.

Slightly more organised than my current system of piles of seeds and notes for planting on the dining room table!

6. Cook something new

My something new this week would be the fig recipe above. I have never had access to figs before and they are way too expensive to buy fresh from the supermarket. So cooking figs was a new experience for me. I had wanted a fig tree but now I know I definitely need one!

7. Manage your reserves

Not much this week but I did collect some more jars for pantry storage organising. Slowly getting there.
I also sorted out lots of the boys' clothes and have bigger sizes in crates in the ex-possum shed. The boys do love to go 'shopping' in the crates!

8. Work on local food systems

I have been having some discussions with other mums and it is amazing to find out just what other people are growing that I didn't know about. I think there could be quite a bit of trading in my future.

I thought I'd share some general photos of the garden/farm at the moment.

Still very dry, but I think this week has been break of season and the rains should be here soon.

I was very sad to only have one sunflower this year - yes, one! I planted out about 100 seedlings and rabbits ate all except this one. And it is a pretty short and mangy sunflower at that. But I love it anyway!

The gerberas I planted this year had a few small flowers. I am looking forward to seeing how much bigger they get next year. This is my favourite colour - it starts out lime green with red edges and then ends up red with lime green edges.

Some self-sown poppies that appeared in the paddock beds.

My one little chick for this year is now nearly as big as mum.

And here is my little gardening companion, Sugar. She always comes to find me and rub against me when I am in the garden.

Hope you have a lovely gardening week!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Independence Days Challenge: Week Twenty One

You need to visit Matt and Lentil at Grown and Gathered and read their About page. Everything they have articulated there is how I have been feeling for a very long time, but they are way better at saying it!!
I borrowed their wonderful book from the library and have been devouring it - can't get enough. Take a sneak peek inside the book here. The book is divided into sections - Observe, Grow, Gather, Nurture, Trade, Seek and Eat. This quote explains why.

'This book is full of the things that we grow, gather, nurture, trade, seek and eat where we are. And that's how it worked traditionally. You grew what you could where you were, and then you ate what you had, sourced a few special things from far away, and that is what made up regional diets and led to the development of specific cuisines.'
Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil pg 21

Exactly what I have been trying to explain to hubby for 25 years!
So simple, yet it is so necessary for us all to start living like this - now, before we have no options.
After spending way too much money on pretty average produce at the supermarket yesterday, then coming home to read some more of this book, I am on fire to achieve this on our block - all alone, if necessary!

1. Plant something
As those shelling peas germinated so well, I have planted some more direct in the garden. And hundreds and hundreds of daffodil bulbs! My back is sore, but the mass display in spring will be worth it! Hopefully something like this:

2. Harvest something
The zucchinis are finishing up now and there is always at least one that gets away from me! They seem to grow overnight as I don't know where this one came from. I have been checking the plants every day.

And eggs, of course!

3. Preserve something
I made some yummy Apple Maple Jam last season from a recipe in the Ball Preserving Book but it didn't set properly. But you know what, I am happy it didn't set as I have found a way better use for it than as jam. In fact, I am planning on making it again this season and making sure it doesn't set!
Pancakes are a much loved breakfast dish here, and it is the custom to drown your pancakes in maple syrup. That uses a lot of maple syrup! Here in Australia, I have not been able to find bulk maple syrup - I am very jealous when I see those big tins that you can get in the US and Canada!
So this recipe is the perfect way to get that pancake maple syrup to go much further. Warning - it is VERY sweet; a little goes a long way!
Apple maple pancakes, anyone?!

4. Minimise waste
In reading Grown and Gathered, I was very impressed to read that their farm operates as a closed loop, something that is definitely in my long term goals. But in doing this, I am finding I do not have ENOUGH waste. I'll clarify that, enough of the right type of waste. All my food scraps go to the chooks and they can never seem to get enough. So I have not got much to compost, other than egg shells, tea leaves and coffee grounds. I think I need to source some organic waste material from somewhere.
Do you source compostable material from an outside source? What type? I'd love to hear!

This is what I need!

5. Want Not
It is time to dig the garden paths over into the garden beds and top up with sawdust. Luckily, hubby has sourced a massive amount of free sawdust - yay!
The garden paths are teeming with worms and will be so fantastic for adding to the garden beds, especially the rhubarb and asparagus beds.
Someone else's trash is definitely my treasure!

6. Cook something new
Not really new, but after being terrible in the school holidays and letting everything die, I am restarting my sourdough starter, kefir grains and ginger beer plant. I always seem to forget that someone will need to 'feed' them if we go away, as well as the animals!

Image from Grown and Gathered book

I have also been pretty slack with grinding my own grain. I haven't attempted to grow grain yet - I'd love to hear if you have!

7. Manage your reserves
Hmmm, cleaned out a whole shed on the weekend. So I may soon be able to start stocking up again! The possums had actually chewed through the walls in places, so hubby boarded up all the holes and has put wire mesh over the gap in the eaves which was their means of entry. Hopefully that will solve the problem and keep them out. I am only putting non-food items in there for the moment, until I know the possums are definitely gone!

8. Work on local food systems
I love how there is a whole chapter on Trade in Grown and Gathered as I really feel this will be how we will conduct a major part of our 'business' in the future.
And I just love this quote on trade from the book:

'When you trade, genuine human interaction is unavoidable, because a trade is only possible with conversation. You must discuss what a fair trade is. You must discuss the exchange of goods. Whereas with money, you can just hand over the money and get a product in return, no conversation required. Sure you end up with the same product, but with a remarkably different experience. And this is what we want to highlight here: the experience, that human connection, is the most important thing. When we have more human interactions - talk to strangers, have great conversations - we believe that society is at its strongest. When we realise that we are all more similar than we are different, when we begin to understand each other more, see each other's points of view, share skills and have empathy, we all become happier, and we all become stronger human beings.'
Grown and Gathered by Matt and Lentil pg 111

So true! How many times do you feel, after doing all your errands in town, that you haven't actually spoken to anyone in any meaningful way? I think trade will be vital and plan on making it a major part of my system.
My problem will be that I always tend to undervalue my work and will feel very strange about attempting to calculate trades. It will be a bit of a steep learning curve for me!

Have you introduced regular trading/swapping? Is it working for you; what items are you trading?

I would love to hear any comments as I am always looking for new ideas or methods.

I'm off to the garden as today is a lovely cool day, the only one before it heats up again for a week. Have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Yarn Along - A Cute (Still Not Quite Finished) Coat and a Funny Book

Joining today with Ginny for Yarn Along.

I went for a quick read this week. I absolutely loved this movie - another one of those quirky movies in which not much happens but it is all about the characters.

And the book is just as wonderful - full of humorous character observations.
There is apparently a local legend about the hill building, but it has been found to be fiction. The 'mound' on Garth Mountain (the apparent inspiration for the movie) is actually a Bronze Age burial mound, not earth placed there in 1917 to fool some English surveyors!

The thing I found utterly astounding about the book was that the author, Christopher Monger, had, until a year before writing the book, never spoken, let alone written, in English. His only language to that date had been Welsh.

As I said previously, my favourite aspect of the book are the astute character/personality observations. I was found to be chuckling to myself many times!

Such as this one:

'So in a time honoured tradition that extends to politicians today, he started to speak about something of which he knew nothing, but in a tone of voice which suggested authority. And more precisely, he started to string together many phrases and platitudes which all seemed to hold the promise of something, but which in fact amounted to nothing more than decorative vacillation.'

Indeed does sound like politicians today!

And how is that vintage Sunday coat coming along?
Well, the back, left and right fronts are completed, so now I am starting the sleeves. It is still so hot here and my hands get too sweaty while knitting! I'm sure if autumn is coming for a while yet.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Menu Plan Monday

Joining with I'm An Organising Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Time to get back to organised menu plans, after the bliss of the holidays and just winging it. It is taking me way too long to settle back into a routine!
This cartoon pretty much explains how menu planning has gone for the last six weeks (and first month of the new school year!).

This week I am using a number of free magazines that the supermarkets issue.

I am not collecting any more of these as I have always been reluctant to take them, due to the waste issue. But these are some that I already had, so I am trying some recipes and will cut those out to keep and recycle the rest. I have SO many cookbooks that I really don't need to collect any more.


Pork roast with roasted potatoes, honey carrots, minted peas and mashed sweet potato
Fruit salad

Chicken and broccoli penne
Strawberry shortcakes


Spaghetti and meatballs (make double to have some for the freezer)
Peach and Raspberry Cheesecake Slice

Fish burgers
Passionfruit Ice-Cream Yoghurt

Lime Chicken Skewers
Green salad
Garlic potato fries

Vegetable curry with naan bread
Coconut pudding

Salmon and mango salad
Potato wedges
Chocolate and caramel poke cake

Poke cakes are a new favourite around here. So obvious - why didn't I ever think of it before?! We have also tried the lemon blueberry one - yum.

I am happy that I am able to start doing some more freezer cooking. The freezer is finally starting to have a little bit of space in it, after being full to the top with meat for so long. There is no butchering planned for at least a month so I can get some other goodies into the freezer at the moment.

Planning for this week:

Meatballs - making double on Wednesday
Pizza bases
Banana muffins
Various biscuit dough logs

Have a delicious week!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Adventures In Stitchcraft - March 1937 Issue

I was reading a book about vintage knitting recently and it allowed me to finally put my finger on what I love so much about 30s patterns.

'The sense of humour apparent in the knitwear and crochet of the Thirties remains unrivalled. One could be amusing to look at, rather than beautiful.'

This is so true. Looking at patterns of the 30s, you can see it is all about the changes in details - frilly or puffy sleeves, big buttons, unusual collars or bows at the neckline, embellishments like embroidery or ribbons, so many interesting and fun options.

Here are some examples from the book, A Stitch In Time: Vintage Knitting and Crochet Patterns 1920-1949.

And just think - knit something from a vintage pattern and it will be a fair bet that no one else have the same garment! Vintage knitting is a great way to express your individuality.

Now let's take a look at the March 1937 (No 55) issue of Stitchcraft.

Another gorgeous jumper on the cover. Red is so striking.

This is a twinset of a high-necked jumper with a matching cardigan.

Fashions from Paris correspondent, Anne Talbot

Look! Same basic idea as the vintage style coat I am making. Pretty sure grandbaby needs a dress as well!

Some simple handwork to add a touch of glamour to a purchased garment.

Lady Morris adores dancing, the round of theatres, all of Society's brilliant functions. She loves sports too. She rides, swims, even plays squash. Indeed, her days are just as strenuous and busy as your own. Yet, whether you see her in the sun at Cannes or in the bold daylight of London, you are amazed at the fresh rose-petal beauty of her skin.

Mary is making candies this issue - make some of these for your next bridge party!

Who knew this existed in 1937? Not me!

Not sure I want to know what the ingredients of this were!

I would love to decorate a house in 30s and 40s style. My grandparents had armchairs exactly like these and I remember spending many a weekend curled up in one, reading.

I think for this issue it will have to be the two year old's knitted dress. Just so wonderful that it matches the coat in style, although I don't plan on making it in the same yarn.

And I just love the descriptions from the magazine. For this dress:

'Dress-sense cannot be learned too young! So the lady on the opposite page is taking an early lesson by wearing a chic woollen dress in pale pink with a bunny wool collar and revers. The double-breasted front with its six big pearl buttons has quite a grown-up look; and a narrow belt gives a decided waistline, because we know that most of us at two years old don't have waists anyhow and something's got to be done about it!'

Indeed! Although I agree that it wouldn't hurt us to have a bit more class/style nowadays!
The pattern calls for 4 oz of Paton's Super Scotch Fingering 4ply and one ball of Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angora (which is also 4 ply). Not sure if I want to make the neck section in Angora; it may be too irritating for little ones. So I will probably just use two different colours of 4ply. I have LOTS of 4ply in my stash to choose from - you can take a look here, if, like me, you enjoying spying on other's stashes!

As for the rib jumper from the February 1937 issue, here is the progress to date.

Hmm, not a great deal of progress as yet! 4ply really does knit up slowly in an adult jumper!

See you next week!