Monday, 19 December 2011

Why has it gone all falccid?

I hope someone out there can help because it has me scratching my head.

My Rhubarb is dropping dead and I cannot figure it out.  One day it is all looking healthy and lush putting out new growth and the next day the entire bush has flopped.

 And when I say healthy this is what I mean.
I originally had 3 plants in this raised bed.  And after loosing my rhubarb to rot last year I made sure the bed was raised and had plenty of good soil compost and sand dug through for drainage.

You can see from the below photo that one plant looks fine and the other ...
Well what can I say, it's flaccid!
So I have already had one plant droop and die and it used to sit at this end of the bed, now what ever has happened has moved further along. 
What should I do?  Water more?  Water less?  Dig out the healthy one and move it?

Ideas please everyone.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Must Keep Cold - The Gift

Well what was it that I was so excited by?

Well see for yourself, a cheese making kit!!!!

I was like a kid on Christmas morning I was so excited.  I could not have been given a more perfect gift.
With all the bits an pieces required so that when I get back from NZ I will get to play with my new cheese making kit.

So Liz from Eight Acres you were pretty close, with your guess of cheese.

 I also received this beautiful hand painted bowl, a scarf and calender from my in laws so all in all I think I am very spoilt.
Well for now I am off to study up on cheese making and after Christmas I will let you all know how it goes.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

An Early Christmas

This year Hubby and I are off to NZ to spend Christmas with my family.  Due to work commitments I have not spent Christmas with my family for 8 or 9 years, a long time between drinks so to speak, so you can imagine how excited I am. 
This will also be the first time in a year or so that my mum, dad brothers and I are all together as someone has always been away working or living overseas.
So since we are away for Christmas we had an early Christmas with Hubby's parents, brother and soon to be sister in law (SIL).    We went out for lunch at a restaurant and took along our gifts to exchange.  And let me tell you both hubby and I were very perplexed about what it was that my BIL and SIL were giving me.  Hubby was told to bring an eskie and some chiller bricks and was told not to ask questions just do it.

So my three wrapped pressies arrived at the table in an insulated picnic pack and I was very curious to see what it was that would need to be kept cold.  All sorts of things were running through my head, food that needed to be kept cold, some kind of plant that needed to keep out of the heat of the car an animal like goldfish or a hermit crab...  Yep by now my mind had wandered off the road and into the obscure because clearly you do not gift wrap pets.

Now the challenge, and even if you do not know me personally you are just as likely to guess correctly as some one who does... Can you guess what my gift was?

I will post the answer with photo tomorrow

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Crafty Christmas Cards

Being crafty is something I find really helps me to unwind.  So I try and take some time out each week to do something crafty whether it is paper craft and scrap booking, sewing or learning to crochet.

For the last month or so I have been making Christmas cards and here is a few that I have made.  The first and last ones stand up on their own and fold flat to be posted.  The rest are just your standard folded style (some of which blogger will not rotate, so apologies if you get a crook in your neck)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Not Enough Hours in the Day

Lately there has just not been enough hours in the day to get everything done, so something had to give.  That something was blogging.

I would love to say that I was busy with the joys of everything Christmas but sadly that is is not the case.  There has been some Christmas cheer which I will post about later this week, but mainly the busyness has been focused much closer to home.
To keep the story short, and not go into a complete rant, a developer is lodging an application to put a Sand and Gravel Quarry just up the road from our house, and the houses of many other people in our small rural community.  
Needless to say the community are not happy and we have started an action group S.C.R.A.M (Sandy Creek Residents Against Mining) had public meetings where I have been the facilitator, created a website and a facebook page, put up signs, had bumper stickers made and are now in the process of writing to the media, local government, state and federal government and the government and associated departments involved such as Main Roads, SEQ Water and DERM (Department of Environment and Resource Management).

The whole idea that our quiet country lifestyle could soon be shattered by the sound of quarrying 6 days a week from 6am till 6pm, and up to 1 truck and trailer every 3 mins for the next 30 years is to be frank devastating.
There are many reasons that the development should not go ahead including the area being Class A farmland, there are issues with salinity and soil acidity and the site is bordered by a creek and treated water will be pumped into the creek which runs in to the dams holding the Brisbane water supply.
While we understand the need for resources there are areas put aside, with buffer zones to lessen the impact on the surrounding area, under the planning scheme and this is not one of them, so we say go there and leave our community in peace.

On top of this I am involved in a couple of other community groups that also require my attention, there is full time work, full time wife, housework, Christmas parties and preparing to head to NZ for Christmas with my family.
Then there is the garden which is both thriving and failing on my neglect but more about that tomorrow.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Garden Whip Around

That my friends is a banana flower and those little things you can see poking out
are the bananas.  So far we have 3 hands of bananas.
 This is a first for us and even though I don't eat bananas I am
still very excited.

The Mango tree that we planted last year is putting on some new growth.
I was strong and picked off all the flowers. 

The gone wild cheery tomato's are giving us about this many every day.
They are so sweet and delicious.

The zucchini are starting to produce fruit.

These two dead things are my potato's.  Not sure what happened but
all 4 that I planted ended up like this.  But I dug under them just in case and ...

Just a few potato's from the dead plants. 
Still there were enough for a number of meals.

Finally I made these Sourdough Bolo Levedo for Sunday breakfast and they were delish!
Linda over at The Witches Kitchen posted about these the other day.
I didn't have blueberries but I did have peaches and it was a great breakfast.
If you want to try them head over to Linda's

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Cordial That Broke The Camels Back

The camel in this story is my poor Hubby, and perhaps after telling you all the things he eats for lunch in my last post I was inviting this to happen.  But any way this is the story.

H = Hubby   M = Me

It is a Thursday evening at the end of another long week and Hubby still has to work again tomorrow and Saturday as he is an employee Mon - Fri but still runs his own business as well.

H - Honey can you get some cordial when you do the shopping.
M - What do you want cordial for?
H - I'm sick of drinking just water it would be nice to have something with a bit of flavour when I get home since I drink plain water all day at work.  (Hubby drinks about 3-4 litres of water a day because of his physical job)
M- Ok but don't put it on the list cause we have some lemons so I will make you some.
H - No!  Just buy it. I am sick of home made everything.  Everyday it is the same healthy food in my lunch grown at home and to be honest it is becoming boring as bat sh*t.
M - Ok... but it will be cheaper if I make it and will not have artificial colours and preservatives in it, and it will be better than what I can buy.
H - Yes I am sure it will be better and cheaper but it will still be home made.
M - So what is wrong with home made all of a sudden.  Thirty years ago there was no such thing as manufactured everything, if you wanted it you made it.
H - Its just boring.  Every day the same things, fruit and veg, fruit and veg or left overs I just want some thing different is that ok?
M - Ok.  Well what would you like me to make you for your lunches so they are not so boring?  I could make some stuffed capsicums, savoury muffins, vege pasties, mini pizzas...  You tell me what you want and I will make it for you.
H - No!  I don't want you to make anything.  It's not the point.
M - But if you are bored then tell me what would be better and I will make it.
H - Don't worry about it.
M - Well you said you were bored and I want you to be happy with your lunch so I will make you something different you just tell me what you want.  Do you want me to buy you some shapes (the crackers) with the shopping?
H - No you'll get the wrong flavour
M - Well what about something else?
H - It's not the point.
M - But you said you were bored?
H - I just want to be able to have what ever I feel like on the spur of the moment.  If I feel like a hamburger I want to have a hamburger, if I want to buy a packet of chips I don't want to have to think "oh I can't have that because I don't have any money"
M - What do you mean you don't have any money?
H - The ATM at the servo wouldn't give me a balance so I don't know if that developer has paid me and I have put the rest of my money into the mortgage offset account.
M - Ok well I have some money in my wallet if you want to buy your lunch tomorrow.
H - I can't.  We are working in the middle of nowhere so I can't get to the shops and the boss has put his foot down about us wasting time stopping on the way so everyone can buy their lunch.
M - Have you checked on line to see if you have been paid?
H - I'll do that now.

H - Oh far out!  I got paid on Monday, why didn't it show up?  That stupid ATM  never shows you a balance.  All this time I did have money.
M - Ok, so do you want me to make something tonight for you to take tomorrow.
H - No don't worry I'll find something.
M - Look I'll get the banana cake out of the freezer and make you some devilled eggs and there are muesli bars in the pantry.
H - Thanks honey and could you make some cordial on the weekend, yours will be heaps better than the shops stuff.
M - Sure no worries.

So it turns out that homemade is better, and money worries can mask themselves and morph into other things.  This was a great lesson in communication for us, it took a while but we got there in the end.
We also had a discussion about how the way we live, growing our own food, making what we can where possible (like the cordial) is not the norm for most people, although I'd like to think we were getting back there.  We also talked about the pressures to conform and how it can be hard at times not to feel like you are missing out.  But in the end we came to the conclusion that we wouldn't change the way we live.  In fact we will keep working towards being able to do more for ourselves and become more self reliant. 
We do however need to make sure we don't feel guilty about not always meeting the standards we set for ourselves.

Does this happen at your house too?
Are you hard on yourself about living up to your own expectations?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The $21 Challange - Breakfasts and Lunches

Well by the time I got to the end of my post the other day I figured I had waffled on long enough.  I hadn't really thought about the fact that breakfast and lunch did not even get a mention even though they were included in the challenge and the $19.45 I spent that week.

A comment by the lovely Ali over at Mud Pie reminded me that I really should finish the story.

So to recap my shopping for the week was:
Rump steak
Spring Onions

Total spent $19.45

And the Dinners were:
Sat - Pea & Ham soup (this was actually so bad it got replaced with toast)
Sunday - Home made Pizza
Monday - Thai beef salad with vermicelli
Tuesday - Zucchini slice
Wednesday - Penne Putanesca
Thursday - Chicken Stir Fry
Friday - Bacon and Eggs

So to fill in the gaps this is what we did for breakfasts and lunches on the weekend.
Sat - Poached eggs (from the chickens) on Home made sourdough
      - Left over stir fry from the night before
Sun - Porridge with sultanas
       - Toasted Sandwiches
During the week we generally have left overs for lunches and each of us has our own breakfast.  I find it far easier to cook dinner for 4 and have the option of another dinner or lunch the next day.  It also saves on fiddling with recipes to downsize them for two.

I work from home so I tend to have cereal and yogurt for breakfast most mornings.  I had cereal in the cupboard and I have an esiyo yogurt maker that I use to make youghurt using powdered milk, again this was in the cupboard.  During the day I have almonds and fruit or cheese and crackers as snacks and sometimes dried fruit but I find this quite sweet.  Lunches this week were Tuna Salad, leftover beef salad, zucchini slice for 2 days and Penne Putanesca.

Hubby gets up early and has a long day of very physical work so don't be too shocked when you read how much he eats and still manages to stay a trim 78kg. 
At 4am he has 4 slices sourdough toast for breakfast then takes the larger portion of leftovers the same as what I have.  He then adds some raw veggies (at the moment a couple of carrots, some beans, some cherry tomato's and a cucumber, it depends what is in the garden or in season) a tin of baked beans, some baking (muffins or biscuits or Bird Seed Bars) a boiled egg or two, a couple of apples and a container of dried fruit and nuts.
And every afternoon the lunchbox is empty!

This week I did a normal shop for us which is normally about $70 - $110 p/w depending on if there is anything on a bulk special and if I buy any meat.  I don't think we spend a lot on food (even though  the way Hubby eats we are shopping for three) and I don't think we are scrimping either.
In the $21 challange it talks about the average household of four people spending $320 per week on food (maybe even more) and this figure seems really high to me.  I know we have chickens and a vegetable garden and don't eat a lot of processed food but even still....

How does everyone else feel about this $320 p/w?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Eating For Less - The $21 Challenge and the worst meal ever

This is something I have been thinking about for a while and so after borrowing the book from the library the time had come.
Rather than re-invent the wheel I will just use the information on the website to tell you what the challenge is all about, in case you have not heard about it.

It is also worth checking out the rest of the website for all of the other great info they have on saving money.

What exactly IS the $21 Challenge?

In a nutshell, it is a one-week grocery slashing marathon where you can save a big pile of money, de-clutter your pantry and learn new skills all at the same time!

How does it work?

Simple! For one week you try as hard as you possibly can to stay out of the shops.  Instead of going out and doing your usual supermarket shop you have to stretch the food you already have in your cupboard, pantry, garden and freezer to stay within your $21 budget.

It is a fun way to save $300 in one week!

You see, the average household of four people spends $320 per week on food. By completing the $21 Challenge for just one week you will have an extra $300 in hand. This means if you do a $21 Challenge once a month in your household, you can save yourself $3600 in one year.
Inside the pantry, and yes that is a window on the back.  This used to be the stove alcove and the window now looks into the laundry as the back of the house was enclosed.
 Now I have to admit that I knew that we would not have to make much of an adjustment to complete this challenge as we have a well stocked pantry and freezer, a vegetable garden, and a flock of chickens.
I have always been a careful shopper and when I see a product that I know we will use, has a long shelf life and is on sale I will buy a bulk amount.  The most recent examples of this are:
$4.99kg for chicken breasts but you had to buy 5kg min - This was divided into 11 lots and each lot will feed the 2 of us for 2 meals.
$1.99kg for Pitted Australian Dates - I purchased 2kg
.39c 400gm Baked Beans - Hubby takes these to work a few days a week so we purchased 36 cans.

First thing you have to decide is if your $21 is for all meals or just one or two meals, we decided all meals.
Then you do a stock take of what is in your freezer, pantry, fridge and garden. 
This was easy as I had just cleaned out the fridge, my freezer has a list on the outside of what is in there (it is a chest freezer and things get lost if you don't know whats in there) and I knew what was in the pantry.
The freezer list (note all the Pea and Ham Soup)
Then you do a menu plan based on what you already have with the idea of just adding a few extra things to make up the meals. 

So what did I plan for the week and what did I buy?


Sat - Pea & Ham soup (Not really soup season but it needed using)
Sunday - Home made Pizza
Monday - Thai beef salad with vermicelli
Tuesday - Zucchini slice
Wednesday - Penne Putanesca
Thursday - Chicken Stir Fry
Friday - Bacon and Eggs


Rump steak
Spring Onions

Total Spent $19.45

So how did it go?

It was a great feeling to walk into the supermarket with only 1 bag know everything would fit.  It was a challenge though not to buy anything else when you weren't literally only able to afford $21.

Would I recommend it?  Very much so.  In fact I intend to do it at least once a month so that I can use us things that I have surplus of or are getting close to their expiry date.  I really liked the challenge and it really makes you think about waste.  Waste of time when you are not organised, waste of money buying things you don't need, waste of money if you have to throw things out because they were past their used by date.

And what of the worst meal ever????

That would be the pea and ham soup.  It was awful!!!
Even my hubby who will pretty much eat anything said it was bad, and that means it was really really bad. 
I have no idea what went wrong and I am actually a pretty good cook.  But I can tell you that even though I am against wasting food I will be throwing out the other 2 lots of frozen soup in the freezer.  Thankfully it was cheap to make with a left over ham bone and the peas.  We ended up having toast for dinner it was so bad.

Oh well you live and learn, and at least that will free up some more space in the freezer.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Curry of the Week - Turmeric Chicken with Potatos and Peas

This Curry requires you to make your own curry paste but if you have all the ingredients it is not difficult.  You will need a mortar and pestle and, depending on if you cook Thai food very often or not, the only slightly uncommon ingredients are fresh Turmeric and Shrimp Paste.
Before giving you the recipe I would like to give you some quick information on the fresh Turmeric and the Shrimp past in case you have never used these before.

Fresh Tumeric is a small knobbly root like ginger but usually much smaller.  It stains like mad so when you prepare it consider your workspace carefully as it is extremely difficult to get out of clothes and bench tops.  Tumeric is reported to have a number of significant health benefits including its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and cutting the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease in half.

Shrimp Paste is basically what it says it is.  You can buy it in small quantities at Asian grocers and some supermarkets.  It smells awful but once it is roasted it much more mellow.  Once you buy it it needs to be kept in the fridge in it's container inside another very airtight container.  When you roast it you add the required amount to al foil and wrap it up to seal it then roast it in the oven till it is a crumbly texture, usually about 5- 10 mins at 180 degrees.

Curry Paste

8 Large Dried Chillies (available at an Asian grocer)
2tsp Fresh Tumeric, peeled and chopped roughly
2tsp Coriander seeds
2tsp Cumin seeds
2tsp Shrimp paste, roasted


5 Tbsp Vegetable oil
8 Chicken Thighs
2Tbsp Garlic, roughly chopped
400ml Coconut Cream
500ml Chicken Stock
8Tbsp Fish Sauce
4Tbsp palm Sugar (raw sugar can be used in it's place)
500gm Waxy potato's, cut into chunks
1 cup of peas
1 large Green and 1 large Red Chili, halved de-seeded and sliced
1 Lime
Coriander to garnish

Making the Curry Paste

Soak your large dried chilli's in boiling water for 10 minutes.  While these are soaking you need to roast you shrimp paste (as above) and dry roast your cumin and coriander seeds.  To do this just put the seeds in a small dry saucepan and heat on the stove on a medium setting until you can smell the spices releasing their oils.  As soon as you can smell them tip them into your mortar and pestle so they do not burn.  Add the salt, fresh turmeric soaked chilli's and roasted shrimp paste.  Pound to a smooth paste.

Making the Curry

Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the chicken pieces in batches.  Remove the chicken and reduce the heat add the curry paste and garlic to the pan and fry until fragrant.
Add the coconut cream, chicken stock, fish sauce and sugar, stir till the sugar has been dissolved then add the chicken pieces and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins.
Add the potato's followed by the peas 5 minutes later and and cook until tender.  Stir through the sliced fresh chili.
Serve with a wedge of lime and some chopped coriander.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Horror Week

I have been absent from my blog this week due to an awful incident that happened on Sunday night.
I won't go into details but I was basically attacked on a personal level by a member of the community at a group meeting.  The attack was, as confirmed by those who were there to witness it, unjustified and inappropriate.
It has however been extremely upsetting none the less so I am giving myself permission to take some me time and will see you all in a few days.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Curry of the week - Pork and Lime Curry with Spinach

With the hot weather upon us there is no better time to be eating spicy foods.  Contrary to what you might think eating spicy foods actually helps your body cool down, or so I am lead to believe.  Regardless of this we love spicy food in our house and both Thai and Indian form part of our regular diet.

This is such an easy curry to throw together and you can use any kind of leafy green such as silverbeet, spinach, Malabar spinach or Asian greens.  It is a sour Thai curry but not so sour that it makes your mouth pucker and it is not overly hot.  Well by our standards (and really that is a how long is a piece of string thing isn't it. My hot may not be yours.)

My top tips for this would be to prepare your sauces and sugar in a bowl you can set to the side and have each of your ingredients measured out ready to go.  Use fresh garlic and not the jarred stuff as the flavour is far better, and it is the tamarind that makes it sour so if this is too sour or not sour enough you can adjust the amount of tamarind accordingly.

3Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic crushed
2Tbsp Red Curry Paste
250 ml Coconut Milk
500 gm Diced Pork
3Tbsp each of Fish Sauce, Tamarind Water or Paste, Soy Sauce
1 Heaped Tbsp Palm Sugar (or raw sugar if you do not have palm sugar)
250 ml Chicken Stock
10 Kaffir Lime leaves
200 gm of leafy green ( I never weigh it I just work to what I think would be 4 portions when cooked)
1 Lime

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan and fry off the curry paste until fragrant and starting to separate.  Add the garlic and fry briefly but do not let the garlic brown.
Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil while stirring. 
Add the diced pork and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Add your fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and chicken stock.
If you used pork fillet cook just long enough for the pork to cook through.  If you used a cheaper cut of pork you can put a lid on you pot and cook for 45min - 1hr so that the pork becomes tender.
Once the pork is cooked added your leafy greens and cook till wilted.
Serve over rice with a Lime wedge to squeeze over the top.

Do you have a favorite Curry you want to share?  Feel free to link back to here.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Baking Bonanza

Well  I must admit I got a stack done in the kitchen yesterday.

I made....

A quiche with some rainbow silverbeet from the garden.  It will be too hot for it soon, and will get fed to the chooks, so I will try and get just a few more meals from it.  I also used the last few leeks from the garden instead of onions and one of my fresh garlic bulbs from my recent harvest, and boy do they pack a punch.

Self Crusting Quiche

The last of the leeks
Some scones to use up the 1/ carton of cream in the fridge

A banana cake made with some very brown bananas that have been in the freezer for ages.  The cake itself has gone back in the freezer for another time when I haven't baked.  And some beetroot and chocolate muffins that have lasted all of one day.

Beetroot and Chocolate Muffins and Banana Cake
Finally a couple of loaves of sourdough baked before dinner and then a Pork Curry for dinner, sorry no photos of that, but I will post the recipes for the Muffins and curry tomorrow.  I cannot provide the quiche recipe as I just make it up as I go along, one day I might weigh things as I go.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Weekend Beats

Over the weekend I came across some beetroot that I had not checked on for a while.  Check out the size of the monster beetroot.
Beetroot from the garden, scissors left in the photo for scale.
The were washed, peeled, diced and roasted for salad.  I will add chopped walnuts, feta, chopped parsley and a balsamic dressing.
 Then the chooks enjoyed the tops for dinner

Friday, 11 November 2011

On My mind is my Lime Tree

Linking up with Rhonda today.

Lime tree lime tree where for art thou lime tree?

Apparently the cherry tomato seeds were still quite viable in the compost we used to plant out the lime tree a few months ago.  Oh well may as well wait for the tomato's now.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Great Garlic Harvest

Way back in May I posted about the garlic I had planted, and being a virgin garlic grower I'm not really sure if I have been successful in producing a good crop as I have nothing to compare to.

An organised gardener would have counted exactly how many cloves of each variety was planted, what the "mother" bulb weighed and what date they were planted out.    Had I done this I would be able to report accurately my yield and plan for my next crop accordingly.

But I didn't, so this will be an inaccurate report where all descriptive terms such as large, small, lots, heavy, and other such words have no true measure or control group and should be taken with a grain of salt.  Next time I will take a leaf out of Hazel's book and do it properly.

I really did not know if the garlic was ready but someone somewhere in blogland recently mentioned the had harvested their garlic so I figured it was something I needed to consider.  All the information about harvesting advised that the tops of the garlic should be turning brown and there should be 3-4 layers of covering around the bulb.  To test this you need to dig one up and cut across the top.
I dug up the Oriental Purple first and most of the bulbs had grown, multiplied and fattened up and for all intensive purposes seemed to be big enough to harvest.

As I dug them up I laid them out on a piece of cardboard.  Once I had them all out I used a brush to remove as much of the dirt from the roots as a I could.  After the Purple Oriental came the Australian Cream, I dug a couple of the Australian White but they were not quite ready so will stay in the garden for another week or so.
All laid out, still a bit dirty. Australian Cream at the top of the photo,
Purple Oriental at the bottom and the couple of Australian White on the right.
Some of the bulbs were as big as commercial ones
They ranged from pink...

To purple...

The Australian White leaves had not browned off as much as the others so when I see them get to the same stage as the other ones I will dig up another bulb and see if they are ready.
The last of the garlic looking a little lonely in the garden.
To give the garlic a chance to dry out I have made use of some coat racks that we have out the back in the laundry area near the back door.  I tied each of the bulbs around the rack and have left them to dry out a bit more before I try and brush off any more of the dirt.  You will see that one of the varieties, Australian Cream yielded a lot more garlic but this is because I had two bulbs of it to start with and only one of each of the others. 
Coat racks given over to garlic
Hung out to dry
Once they have all dried out I will weigh them so I know how much I started with and be able to measure how long they last.  I am not sure heading into summer how the garlic will keep here in Queensland with our humidity.  Does any one have any tips for storing garlic?

There were a few really small bulbs some that had not multiplied so I decided we would eat those straight away.  We had a couple in a stir fry last night and they were quite pungent.

Small garlic bulbs, I included the peg for some scale.

 Well I can tell you one thing about harvesting garlic, once you hang it to dry you will have no worries about vampires.  I am glad I have these hanging out the back because even with the skins on there is the scent of garlic in the air.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Pomegranate Dreaming

Like rubies glinting in the sun, with a sweet yet tart flavour, little jewels that burst and pop in your mouth, such is the allure of the pomegranate.

I have 2 pomegranate bushes, one that was planted 12 months ago is located in the chicken pen with a wire fence around it to keep the scratching at a safe distance and one that was planted 4 months ago out in the main orchard.
The 12 month old bush, don't mind the weeds
The 4 month old bush, must do something
about that grass
 The other day when I was out feeding the chickens I noticed the most exciting thing, a flower.

The petals were soft like crepe paper
Now the flower has dropped off and there is a bud, or is it another flower yet to open?
The bud

Ohhhhh  how I hope it's a fruit.

But I have my doubts about the strength of the branch's to hold a developing fruit, let alone a rosy, fully ripened, bursting with luscious juiciness mature fruit. 
The branches are mere twigs, but perhaps since the bush is so small the fruit could sit on the ground while it ripened? 
But that would mean bugs and pests and would therefore thwart my plans for homegrown pomegranate in my salads, or in cocktails, or juiced over ice this summer.
Maybe I will have to build a stool for my little fruit to sit on...

Perhaps I am over thinking things at this stage, maybe I should hold off before making any rash decisions about supporting and eating my pomegranate until it grows a little more.  At this stage it is probably just as likely to drop off after undesirable weather conditions.

Grow little pomegranate grow, a few more flowers please.  I have some many plans for you, and yes my expectations may be high but I am sure you will want to live up to them.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Braving the Elements

Over the weekend Hubby, Jessie the puppy and I headed an hour west of Kilcoy to the Bernakin State Forrest for two nights of camping.  We planned to relax, read, swim in the creek, play some majong and enjoy the wildlife on offer.

We do quite a bit of camping and have all of our things packed into plastic storage tubs so we just throw the tubs on the trailer and away we go. 
We own two tents, one that is only a few years old, very sturdy and sleeps 8 but takes a bit of time to put up, and the second that is over 30 year old sleeps just the two of us and was a hand me down from Hubby's parents. 
The old tent is so quick to put up that we decided that since it was only two nights we would just use it.  But it seems that some pesky rodents had taken a liking to our tent as a possible nesting material and chewed some holes in the sides and floor. 
Not to worry, a bit of the old gaffa tape to the rescue on the hole in the wall and an extra ground sheet under the tent  instead of taping up the floor and we were good to go. (I do wonder what other campers must have thought seeing our patched up tent).
We spent the first two days teaching Jessie to swim, relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  There were King Parrots, Pale Headed Rosellas as well as Lorrikeets and Galahs.  We even had a Koala sleeping in the tree above us and Bandicoots raiding the campsite at night.
Learning to swim
Pale Headed Rosella

Mr King Parrot and just on the right is Mrs King Parrot hiding behind the twigs
Can you see her?

Because of all the bandicoots during the night Jessie kept barking at them (we don't have them at home) and after trying to get her to calm down I gave up and brought her in the tent with us. 
Once inside she was fine and lay down on the floor beside me to sleep.  But apparently she was not ready to sleep and wanted to wrestle her lead instead. 
After being kicked in the side a few times as she rolled about on the floor fighting her lead I finally got her to calm down.  So with Hubby sound asleep beside me, oblivious to the goings on, I am finally nodding off to sleep.   Then I head this twanging noise and feel movement beside me again.  So on comes the torch (by this stage I don't care if I wake Hubby up) and here is Jessie with a cord from the tent between her teeth using her paw to pick at the cord causing it to make the twanging noise. Ahhrrrr.
After doing an investigation into what else she might be able to get he puppy paws on we finally settled down for some sleep.
Thankfully I was able to catch up on a few hours with an afternoon nap the next day.

"I like camping"
The next day was filled with more swimming and general relaxing.  As we headed off to bed that night we noticed some lightening to the west so we secured the big tarp that covered the tent and gave us an undercover area, made sure all the plastic tubs had their lids on tight and headed for bed. 
But then it started to rain, and not just a little but a lot.  And in rolled the thunder and lightning just a little at first but I could tell it was building.  So since I knew Jessie was frightened of storms, and could bolt for miles if she got off her leash there was nothing for it but to bring her in the tent with us.  Oh dear not a repeat of last night.
Thankfully no not a repeat of the night before, but this time I had a trembling puppy snuggled up next to me while the rain pounded down on the tent and the thunder and lightning crashed around us.  It was raining pretty hard and I could feel the water running under the tent, and I could hear it pouring off the tarp in a a waterfall.  The wind was blowing a mist of rain under the tarp and the sides of the tent were billowing in and out, but as long as we were dry it didn't matter too much.  The storm would pass and we could dry everything out in the morning.
The next morning we woke to the sound of the early morning bird chorus just as it was getting light.  The storm had passed in the night and the tent was still standing but I still had this feeling of being a bit damp and figure it was time for a cuppa. 
It was when I sat up and looked at the bed that I realised the was a pool of water at the foot of the bed and the cotton blanket on the bed was acting like a wick soaking the water off the floor and drawing up towards us.  That hole that the rodents had chewed in the floor (yes the one we did not tape up) had channeled the water into the tent, under the bed and had then become trapped inside by the (none holey part of the) waterproof floor. 
Oh well too late now, may as well have my cuppa then worry about it.  In the end it was not as bad as it had looked, and since the blanket was already wet I just used it to soak up the puddle of water and would worry about it when we got home.  Sadly though with lots of water comes lots of dirt splatter so all the plastic tubs and eskies had dirt splattered up the side of them.

The morning after
Needless to say I have spent the last few days washing and drying all of our camping gear, thank goodness we have had great weather.  It is not the first, not will it be the last, time that we have come home a bit soggy but that does not put us off.  

However I think we will patch those holes in the floor after all.