Friday, February 26, 2016

Busy hands and slow moments

This week it occurred to me that whenever we make, create, cook, build or do anything with our hands it forces us to slow down.  Thankfully, there are still some things in life that cannot be sped up by gadgets, touchscreens or infuriating password controlled systems.  While life is busy, I am trying to embrace the slow things, even if those slow moments are brief. 

A gifted leg of pork that weighed in at around 9 kilograms.  This pig was raised by hand, fed and cared for by a young family of willing helpers, slaughtered by skilled hands and finally deliver to us with care, by friends.  No factory farming, no supermarket queues and no plastic wrapping, just real food and friendship.   

Our girl, winding down after school in the vegetable patch collecting celery seed.  Slow, quiet time in the shade is the perfect after school activity I think.

Our boy, using his busy hands to make his dog a water bowl, using a piece of bark he had collected just for that purpose.

On Saturday morning the catering, photography and support crew half of the family collected a few sticks, lit a fire and cooked breakfast in the paddock.  Meanwhile, the horse riding half of the family saddled up the horses and rode in to our camp just in time for a picnic breakfast of bacon sandwiches.  Fire lighting, outdoor cooking and horse riding are three things that should never be rushed. 

The specialist skills of both blacksmiths and farriers are something that has always fascinated us as a family.  This is partly due of our love of horses, partly due to an interest in metal work and partly due to a great respect for skills and tools from the past.

I couldn’t help but be impressed when a young woman, who is a farrier, recently visited our horses.  She handled the large horses, heavy tools and hot conditions with ease and a gentle touch.  It was rather inspirational to meet a young woman who is continuing to keep these very old skills alive.  I know there are a lot of women involved in the horse industry but that was the first time I had met a female farrier.  

Are you doing clever things with your hands that force you to slow down?

Are you keeping any skills from the past alive?

I know many of you are baking, growing, farming, sewing, crafting and taking gorgeous photos.

Happy Friday, friends x

Friday, February 12, 2016

Taking stock

My mind is a bit of a tangle right at the moment so I thought perhaps one of Pip's Taking Stock lists might be a good place to arrange my thoughts.  It is rather long, so no need to read every detail!

Making: lunches and snacks 

Cooking: salted maple honeycomb to put on top of some little cakes 

Drinking: water, iced coffee and white wine, all with plenty of ice cubes

Reading: school notes, so many of them

Wanting: this gorgeous hat 

Looking: at my dying lawn and wondering what to do with it

Playing: this video because Hermitude, Triple J and Adelaide seem like a great summer combination 

Deciding: to turn the dullest, most mundane moments into something positive

Wishing: for a proper, old fashioned soaking rain 

Enjoying: our outback world, even though it can be harsh at times 

Waiting: for the bus

Liking: Graziher magazine

Wondering: if we have made the right choices with schooling our children, always

Loving: my husband who rarely stops working to make our lives better

Pondering: how to put together a special vintage/recycled/reclaimed wedding gift 

Considering: a new Elk handbag

Buying: a new Elk handbag

Watching: for the pretty light

Hoping: for a fun weekend ahead 

Marvelling: at a talented Indian lady who is making a big batch of flat bread for me 

Cringing: at the harsh sun in the middle of the day, really it is best to avoid it if possible 

Needing: to eat more cucumbers from our abundant crop

Questioning: why my last few batches of sourdough have been too solid and far from my best baking 

Smelling: my children, especially their hair

Wearing: when I am home, long sleeved shirts, denim shorts and work boots

Following: too many people on Instagram, this website and Instagram is a favourite 

Noticing: how dust in the air always adds more interest to my photos

Knowing: that getting away from the house each day is the best way to revive our spirits 

Thinking: about a little tin hut we visited last month 

Admiring: our Annabelle for her resilience and ability to adapt and take on challenges 

Sorting: clothes, books, pieces of paper, lists, craft projects, cooking projects and Lego men

Getting: into a new school routine

Coveting: more cotton shirts in more pretty patterns 

Disliking: innocent photos of innocent children, partially dressed on social media.  Is it necessary I often wonder?  

Opening: my camera bag, constantly 

Giggling: at the things our George creates throughout the day with paper, string, Lego and everything in between

Feeling: tired and energetic and happy and worried and positive and everything in between

Snacking: Cruskits topped with hommus, cheese and spicy relish, almonds, dark chocolate 

Helping: with farm stuff when I can

Hearing: the hum of the air conditioner and the ABC on the radio 

You might feel like Taking Stock  also?

Happy Friday, friends x

Monday, February 1, 2016

Summer grazing

January may not be an obvious month to do a lot of cooking.  Everyone is still full from Christmas festivities and a hot oven isn’t particularly appealing when the outside temperatures start to soar.  But, I just can’t help myself.  Free from our normal school schedule I have had time to do plenty of cooking this month as well as harvesting from the vegetable garden.

Sourdough focaccia is always a winner especially with the young bread eaters in the house.  It is soft and fluffy with just enough salt and oil to make it completely addictive. 

Iced coffee is my summer morning drink of choice.  Please, no cream or ice-cream just coffee, a dash of milk and plenty of ice.  At the moment we are trialling a cold brew coffee concentrate from Serious Deliria.  This is milder than I expected it to be but tasty.  On a hot morning it also it saves me from firing up the coffee machine.

Individual egg and bacon pies are a great way to use up excess fresh eggs from my chooks.  I have made these for an easy picnic dinner and also for morning tea when substantial food for farming men has been needed. 

Sometimes I see a recipe that I just have to try, enter homemade donuts.  These were in no way healthy or nutritious and not really summer food either.  But, they were delicious with our morning coffee.  

Tomatoes, zucchinis and a rockmelon all picked and eaten on the same day.

Rockmelon picked straight from the garden and filled with natural yoghurt makes such a simple, summery snack.  The kids call these rockmelon bowls.

Fresh figs gifted from a friend.  I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed these and I have made a mental note to have another attempt at growing my own figs.  Some people make it look so easy, whereas I have had several failed attempts in the past.  

Whenever my own personal butcher slaughters a sheep I get a big bag of ribs for the freezer.  I tend to cook them more in the colder weather but lately I have cooked them in our outdoor kitchen and they are a tasty, meaty treat topped with plenty of salt and pepper. 

What are you eating at the moment?  Are you baking or harvesting? 

For those of you getting ready to go back to school, good luck.  We are about to make major changes to our schooling program with our eldest switching from distance education to a main stream primary school.  It all feels very new and a little bit scary but the time has come to embrace the change.

Farewell to the long, unstructured days of January, you will be missed.