Thursday, 16 July 2015

Independence Days Challenge: Week Seven

'As long as you use your stores and use them wisely, you don't have to have enough to last you forever. The truth is that is the present system stops working, a new system will arise. We had shoes and food before peak oil and climate change, and people will make and grow them afterwards. But there will be a transitional period where there might not be enough food for sale, and where no one may be making shoes or distributing them, or where you can't afford either. And while we may have to get used to living without some of these things, it doesn't hurt anyone to make that a gradual transition, not a rapid one.'
Independence Days by Sharon Astyk pg 72

This is where I am heading with my food storage and preparation plans. I feel it is worthwhile to store food, but not to rely on this entirely. It is more important to be planning alternative ways of providing the goods we need. 

For this week:
I finally finished the narrow path!

 It has really made that huge bed much more useful as previously I had to step on the bed to work.

The strawberries I planted two weeks ago all have leaves, although I am hoping they make it through this cold snap we are having.

1. Plant something

Once again, more flowers! I am waiting for the cold to pass before sowing any seeds, even under cover. I don't have any heating for propagating.
A trip to the hardware yielded some more plants from the markdown table - I just cannot go past this table!
2 Easter daisies for $2 each and 3 punnets of calendula for $1 each.

You can see the leaves of the calendulas look a bit ratty but after only a week in the garden they have little flower buds.

2. Harvest something

Yay for the chickens! In the past week, they laid 67 eggs!! I have been giving some away, but hopefully will get back into selling them soon, when production stabilises. Even more hopefully, I will hatch some more chicks this year as I didn't do any at all last year - and I missed their gorgeous fluffiness and cheeping.

Still loads of lemons as well.

Also harvested some lavender to dry and to use to make lavender vinegar for cleaning.

3. Preserve something

I made a batch of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer - see here for recipe. Yield was five zip lock bags with 3 cups in each. 

Does making vanilla essence count?! My order of vanilla beans arrived, to be popped in a bottle of vodka to steep.

4. Minimise waste

As a follow up to two weeks ago, the chickens are LOVING the compost system. Just outside their pen door, I have started a pile just for them to scratch in. As our paddocks are overrun with nettles, I started with a big layer of them. Then weeds from the garden, some rotted down sawdust, some fallen leaves and some rotted down pea straw from last year. Then keep on layering. To encourage them to use it, I sprinkled some grain on it for the first few days. But now they go straight to the pile when I let them out for the day. I just have to keep adding to the pile every day or two.
I'll get some photos of them when the rain stops!

It is Plastic Free July at the moment as well, so working hard to eliminate those single use plastic items.

5. Want Not
I have been slowly adding to my stores. I have devised a master shopping list of items that I will buy, some every week, some once a month. This will slowly build up my stores again without adding too much extra to the weekly shop. 

6. Cook something new

I tried this Chicken Cacciatore recipe, using the roasted tomato sauce in place of the bottled pasta sauce. It was yum - and everyone in the family said so! It is quite rare to have every single person agree on a dish, so they will probably get fed this until they are sick of it!

7. Manage your reserves

So that all those eggs wouldn't go to waste, I had to freeze some. I have also juiced some of the lemons to freeze the juice and also the zest. There is only so much lemon curd the family wants to eat!

8. Work on local food systems

I have found two produce swaps that happen locally. Well, when I say 'locally', I mean they are both about 70 kms drive or so - that is local! I am really hoping to start one here - I have heard that there is definite interest, so this is in the back of my mind for spring/summer.

So, still not a huge amount happening here. It will all start to speed up soon and then I will be wishing for it to slow down again so I can keep up!

Some links for this week:

How To Grow Herbs Fast For (Almost) Free - all about taking cuttings

Grow Ginger From Grocery Store Ginger

Food Storage Calculator - super simple calculator. Just enter the number of family members and the number of months you want to prepare for and voila! This is a great starting point for you to fiddle with to suit your own needs.


  1. I am just about to harvest my lavender to hang to dry for sachets. I would love you to share the lavender vinegar proportions and what it cleans.


      There are quite a few lavender cleaning recipes here, plus some cute printable labels.Jes's blog has the best info - well worth a look!

  2. I was going to ask about how you make your lavender vinegar, too. :)


      As above! Jes has some wonderful info, recipes, free printables on her blog.

    2. Thanks, Jayne. :) I should've thought to look for recipes for JES.
      Have a great weekend!
      xo Lisa

    3. She has such a lovely blog - so much information. I am still reading through all the back posts!

  3. Lemons! You lucky lucky lady. I wish we could grow lemons here, but I would need a greenhouse.

    1. Our lemon tree is a real treasure! Especially as the trunk is actually split and after that happened two years ago, we were expecting the tree to die. It has lemons about nine months of the year in two separate flushes.

  4. What a fab looking path :D And lucky thing having a lemon tree. That chicken cacciatore sounds delicious! I'll have to add it to my menu plan for next week :) xx

    1. It really was delicious. Although I would probably add lemon zest strips to it next time (I have a few lemons around!)

  5. I'm envious over the abundance of eggs and lemons. I go through enormous quantities of both in our household. Good idea though to freeze them for future use. You may already do this but other recipes you could use to reduce the surplus is to make lots of pavlovas and meringes. Also have you ever thought of making those salted preserved lemons in a jar used in Morocan cooking? They are very trendy and may sell well at a fete or stall. Also drinking lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning is very cleansing for the liver.

    1. Lots of lemon curd being made too. Everyone loves pavlova here and I did think the other day that I should make one. I wonder if you can freeze the bases?

  6. My lemon tree and orange tree are loaded with fruit which sadly won't ripen here in the North East of England. We just don't get enough sun. I do use the zest off them though and the flavour that they add is wonderful. The cherries are free for the picking locally and it is a glut year. These happen about every threee years so I pick as many as I can use. I have just started a rumtopf with some raspberries from my garden and cherries left over from a batch that I am preserving in brandy for Christmas.

    1. Oh, cherries! I think a glut of cherries would make up for the lack of citrus! Your preserving sounds so delicious!