Friday, November 22, 2013

Handmade and home grown

We recently had an afternoon filled with bad tempers and frustration caused mostly by the malfunction of a certain piece of Apple technology.  I am not sure what was more frustrating, the actual malfunction or our inability to fix it.  Either way, after dinner Terry opened his leather working kit and made some horse equipment with his own hands.  

Sitting at our kitchen table, talking while a set of grass reins took shape, the irritations of the day seemed to melt.  Perhaps that is the difference between technology and making things by hand.

I am loving the bumpy surface on this Long Florence zucchini which has just started to produce in my veggie patch.  Each summer I find the first zucchini harvest so exciting and then as the summer progresses and the zucchinis start to clamber over the fence I start to fear them!

Flowers picked from the garden and a beeswax candle.  A peaceful display in amongst the chaos of school, paperwork, washing, toys and family life.

A brave little fig tree growing in the paddock near our house.  The lush foliage is very noticeable against the red dirt and dry grass.   The tree has been surrounded by a sturdy square of portable sheep handling yards to keep it safe from hungry horses, kangaroos and anyone else who feels the need for a green snack. 

Are you admiring your vegetables or making stuff with your hands?
I hope so.  
Have a lovely weekend!

*Grass reins are light reins used to prevent stubborn ponies from eating grass while being ridden, particularly useful for young riders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Worm farming and food waste

We have been the proud owners of a worm farm for over a year now.   Sadly, last summer all of our worms died due to extreme heat, although at the time I thought I had taken all of the necessary precautions.

Mum kindly restocked our farm with worms during the winter and recently I have been working hard on reinvigorating our worm friends and their by-products for the garden.  This new interest has also made me reflect on our food waste generally.

We are in a position to have many options for recycling or disposing of food waste.  The most obvious solution is to cut down on waste in the first place.  I love the challenge of trying to use up all our leftover food and sometimes surprise myself with these solutions.  In our house it is rare for any food scraps to go into the actual rubbish bin.

Leftover roast lamb goes into lamb fritters, meat pies, shepherd’s pie, yiros and sandwiches.

Leftover cooked vegetables get squashed into sandwiches, used in salads or chopped and put into fritters or frittata.  

Leftover gravy also finds a home in meat pies or stews.

The small bits of pickles, sauces, mustard and marinades that get left in the bottom of jars are swished out with some water and use in stews, curries or gravy.

With leftover mashed vegetables, I make vegetable patties.

As a family, we are fortunate that most of us are home for lunch most days.  This often means parts of previous meals are eaten again the next day.

Occasionally we kill some chooks and their bones go into stock.  If I don’t have time to make stock immediately, I freeze the bones and make the stock at a later date.  The rest of the time I make vegetable stock, using celery leaves and any other vegetable bits and pieces I can find.

Our sheep dogs get any meat scraps or pieces of trimmed fat.

Our chooks get any other food scraps, such as corn cobs, vegetable and fruit peel, excess sourdough starter and miscellaneous bits and pieces from the fridge. 

Coming back to the worms.  They dine on a chopped mixture of vegetable and fruit peel, tea bags, tea leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells and a little shredded paper.  Once a week they also receive a shovel full of soil.  My vegetables have been enjoying a weekly dose of worm tea and occasionally I collect their castings, dilute the dark sludge with water and put it on any vegetables that need a boost.

Following Celia’s recommendation I have purchased Save with Jamie .  If you are interested in using up leftovers and cooking economically this book is attractive, fun and full of great recipes and information.  

How do you deal with food waste and leftovers?
Are you a worm farmers too?  
I hope you are having a lovely week blog friends!

Friday, November 1, 2013

In My Kitchen, November 2013

Welcome once again to my kitchen. 

After a recent trip away the first thing I wanted to do once we had arrived home was refresh the sourdough starters and bake bread.  I set aside a Friday afternoon, lit the wood oven and made white loaves and pita bread. This really is my ideal afternoon and a perfect way to feel settled again after being away from home.

We have a big mulberry tree in our garden which usually produces far more fruit than we can use.  One way I put this soft and tasty fruit to use was in an easy mulberry frangipane recipe from Lizzie.  Perhaps it would have looked more attractive in a round tart or pie dish but I cooked this in the wood oven which required a heavier baking dish. As Lizzie said, any berries would work perfectly in this.

After waiting impatiently for the recommended two years I am finally harvesting asparagus.  I made this simple lunch with homemade sourdough, asparagus and salad from the garden accompanied by our own olive oil.  No matter how simple the meal is it always tastes better when it is entirely homemade or home grown, excluding a little black pepper. 

Our first little harvest of Kipfler potatoes.  Previously I have harvested all of my potatoes at once but this year I plan to dig them up as I need them.  I am hoping they will store better in the soil than they will in my pantry. 

Kind and generous Celia sent me this bread stamp which I am looking forward to testing soon.  The robust chopping board was a recent lucky find at our local Lifeline shop for $3.00.  The elderly volunteer lady behind the counter asked me who I was going to whack with it!

Years ago a generous aunt gave me the recipe for these Monte Carlo biscuits.  I don’t often make them as I find the icing a bit fiddly and it also adds an extra layer of sugar that we don’t really need.  However, recently I have been thinking about the strong women in my family and their unique and individual characters.  They all have a story to tell as they navigate farm life, town life, health issues and life in general.  The time seemed right to make a batch of these delicious biscuits.  Annabelle declared them the best biscuits ever, I couldn't argue with that.  

Do you cook sentimental recipes sometimes?
What is happening in your kitchen at the moment?

Joining in with Celia and her friends as we take a tour of some interesting kitchens from around the world.