Thursday, 28 June 2012

Not Your Average Flower

We have this amazing bromeliad in our shade house.

It is quite large and has very spiky leaves so it is well away from the path.  When it flowers it sends out these amazing flower spikes with little spiky berries on them.

 The berries start off green with red spikes on the end of each berry.  Then they turn black and keep the red spike on the end of each one.
I have never seen one like it and have no idea what it is called

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Meat Chickens - An Update

This post is a bit delayed and since these photos were taken the chickens have grown a lot and I will no doubt be posting about them again very soon.
So where are we at with the journey and what have we learnt so far.
Well I can tell you one thing for sure, these little buggers eat a lot!  In fact all they do is eat, poop, drink and sleep.
We are really treating this as an experiment in a a number of areas:
How do we feel about raising our own meat and butchering it ourselves?
How do we feel about a commercial breed vs a heritage breed for meat?
How much does it actually cost? Does this save us any money
What are the yeilds from the birds?
What is the meat vs fat ratio?
And importantly how do they taste?
It will be a while before we can answer all of these questions but we have already made some observations.
"What you lookin at?"
There are some behaviours that these chickens exhibit that I think has to do with the comercial breed and the rate at which they grow.  They seem to need to streatch a lot for one thing and you often see the streaching out a wing or leg.  Now I have to be realistic in the fact that we do not usually spend as much time looking at baby chickens (these ones spent a few weeks inside) and perhaps all little chickens spend time stretching but I am not convinced it would be so often.
They also seem to spend a heck of a lot of time sitting down.  This is something we knew to expect as the commercial breeds are so heavy.
It is always dinner time.
One final thing that has become obvious is that there can be big differences in the size between some of the chickens.  They were all hatched over two days but some of the chicks are twice the size of others.  Check out the difference between the three in the photo below.
The chicks are now living in their outside residence and I am quite glad to have them, the noise and (yes mum) the smell gone.  We have had some cool weather lately so they still have a light to keep them warm but this week should be the last week for that too since they are now fully feathered.

NB Apologies if there are spelling mistakes but blogger does not want to check it for me, grrrr.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bi- Carb Cream Cleanser

Over the last 12 months we have been working our way through an array of cleaning products using them up but not replacing them.
For some reason the last owner of the house left behind all sorts of cleaning products plus we had the ones we brought with us.  We had  over 20 half bottles of all sorts of things that we would not normally purchase, but did not want to be wasteful and throw out.
I while ago we made the decision to switch to simple green cleaners that are cheap and easy to make at home.
The basis of most of these cleaners is Bi-Carb Soda and for $25 we purchased 25 kg bag that I blogged about way back here.
In the past I used to purchase gumption for use as a cream style cleaner.  I have also used Jiff  in the past but find the smell unpleasant.
So now I make a cream cleanser using 1 cup of Bi-Carb Soda, 1 tablespoon of Glycerine and just enough water to make a smooth paste.  And that's it.
It s slightly abrasive so don't use it on anything that will scratch.  We have a ceramic top stove and that is one of the places we do not use it.
The way I use it is to put some on a cloth and clean the area that I want then give the area a spray with white vinegar.  This activates the layer of Bi-Carb left behind by the paste and helps pick it up.
I also keep a shaker of Bi-Carb under the kitchen sink too, great to sprinkle where ever it is needed then spray with vinegar for a quick and easy clean.  The next thing I want to make is some citrus cleaner.
What do you use at your place?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Coriander and Macadamia Nut Pesto

After my last post Wendy from Duchess Declutter asked for the recipe so here it is.

I will say though that this is a recipe that you have to adjust to your taste.  Personally I like mine quite nutty and with a generous helping of cheese and garlic.  But you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Before starting roast your macadamias in a 180 degree oven until just starting to colour.  Remove and cool before making pesto.


3 packed cups Coriander
1 1/4 Cups Roasted Macadamias
3/4 Cup Parmesan
4 Cloves of Crushed Garlic
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the coriander, garlic, macadamias and parmesan into a food processor and blend till broken down a bit.  The add olive oil till it becomes a paste.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

In the Kitchen and Garden

Over the weekend I spend a few hours in the kitchen whipping up some tasty treats.

I made some sourdough sweet chilli scrolls using my standard bread mix and adding sweet chilli sauce and grated cheese.

I also made some coriander and macadamia nut pesto.  We have coriander growing like mad in the garden and it was a great way to use a whole lot up before it all goes to seed.

I will let some go to seed to attract the good bugs to the garden but there will be plenty to do that even if I harvest all of what is in the veggie garden.  Last year my coriander went to seed and I left it so that I could harvest all the dry seed for cooking.
But just as the seeds were ready to harvest we got rain and they got washed off the bush and all through the garden.  Now we have coriander popping up everywhere.  Oh well not really an issue just more to let go to seed  for next year.
Coriander growing in the wood mulch paths around the raised beds

Coriander in the driveway

And growing in the garden edging
Do you have any self seeded herbs of veggies popping up in strange places at your place?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Curry of the Week - Delicious Dahl

This recipe is so easy to make and is cheap, filling, comforting and oh so tasty.

I makes a big batch and you can freeze leftovers. The below recipe makes a spicy dahl so you can cut the chilli back or leave it out altogether.  Serve as a side dish or as a main course, or even as a spread on bread.
The dry ingredients, ginger and garlic
This recipe is made with two sets of ingredients, the main ingredients and a spice mix.

375gm Red Lentils                           5 cup Water
1 large Onions diced                        4 cloves of Garlic crushed
2 tsp each of Ground Turmeric, ground coriander, and ground cumin
40gm grated Ginger                         2 tsp chilli flakes

Spice Mix

2 Tbs Vegetable oil                         2 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 tsp Fennel Seeds                           2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
2 tsp Cumin Seeds                        2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar                                      4 Tbs Lemon Juice

Wash and drain the lentils then add the rest of the the first set of ingredients.  Cook for 20 mins until lentils are mushy.
While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a small pan and fry the seeds of the spice mix until just fragrant.  Remove from the heat and add the salt, sugar and lemon juice.
When the lentils are nearly cooked add the spice mix and cook a further 5 mins.

The mix will thicken as it cools and can be kept for 4 days in the fridge.

Water added and onto cook

The finished product
A final word of warning.  The recipe contains turmeric which will stain everything it comes in contact with so wipe up any spills or splashes asap and cook in a stainless steel pot.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Long Weekend Camping

Over the long weekend hubby and I managed to get away for a few nights camping at Bernakin State Forest.  This is the second time we have camped here and last time it was a bit of an adventure that you can read about here.

Friends of ours were able to feed the cat and chickens for us and you are allowed dogs at this camp ground so Jessie got to come with us.
The weather was cool and damp but not rainy other than the odd shower.  We had a fire going and spent our days sitting nearby, knitting (me not hubby), reading, and playing majong.  We also went on some bush walks where we saw lots of kangaroos and deer.

We got a new tent and look who I busted cuddled up in bed!
Get that smelly little puppy off the bed!!
Naughty husband, happy dog.
We had a visit from a Koala too.
He proceeded to join us for breakfast.
Mmmmm gum leaves.
A lovely relaxing weekend away, just what the Dr ordered.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Veggie Garden Whip Around

The Winter veg are coming along nicely.

There is Kohl Rabi and Fennel

 And the Kohl Rabi are ready to harvest.
 Mini Cabbages nearly ready too.
 Crunchy Pak Choy that has been making it's way into stir Fry's this week.
 Silverbeet and Coriander going crazy.  I think there will be coriander pesto on the cards this weekend.
 And the brassicas out the back in my gardening experiment are coming along nicely.

What's happening in your veggie patch?

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Slow Living - May

Linking up with Christine again this month although I am running a little behind but hey that happens sometimes.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
There has been a lot of bread making again this month as well as biscuits and slow cooked meals.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
Other than the failed batch of Lime Pickle there has not been any stockpiling going on but I did acquire a lot more preserving jars so that I can do more in the future.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
This month I have had to mend some of our flannelet sheets as they had worn through in a couple of spots. I think this will at least get us one more winter from them.

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
Nothing new here just sticking at what we are already doing.
Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
I have been picking figs and raspberries this month and we have lots of lovely silverbeet and coriander.

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I have been knitting away and have now made three dishcloths.  Next project will be a scarf.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I have just read "The healthy house cow" by Marja Fitzgerald.  Not that we are looking at getting a house cow any time soon, but it was on special and one day I would like to have one.

Enhance Community
I am the event director for the Kilcoy Classics on Wheels (a classic car and motorbike show) for the second year so there is a lot going on working towards the event in October.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
This month it was about learning new skills for me.  Cheese making and knitting.  It was also about working on my relationship with hubby and doing more together.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Babies on the Farm - The Start of Meat Chickens

We made the decision to take the plunge and have a go at raising meat chickens and over the weekend we picked up our chicks.
We believe that since we are meat eaters it is important to be in touch with where our food comes from.  It is one thing to know that your meat comes from an animal but to actually be part of the process I think will make us appreciate it a lot more.
We have discovered that with farming it is best to really think things through, come up with a good plan then smile and get creative after your plan goes sailing out the window.
We have two bantams who spend a lot of time being clucky and the plan was that they would sit on half the chicks each.  So what do you think happened a few days before we were due to pick up the chicks?  Yep they stopped being clucky.
So now we have a cage full of chickens in front of our fire in the house.  And let me tell you these 14 little chicks make some noise.

It is not ideal to have them in the house but without a couple of surrogate mothers we are limited in our choices.
At this stage all these little guys do is eat, sleep and poop just like all babies so other than providing basic needs we are not too involved at this stage.
Before getting the chicks we spoke to the breeder at length.  We discovered that once you make a commitment to raise meat chickens you have to follow through as there is no changing your mind and deciding to keep them for pets as they will not survive if they are purpose breed meat chickens.
Basically there are two types of meat chickens, purpose bred like the ones used in a commercial chicken farms and then there are the naturally heavy breeds of chicken suitable for meat.
The big difference is that purpose bred chickens are the result of two very heavy breeds crossed with each other to produce a very heavy bird that gets big fast so you do not have to spend huge amounts of money on food.  But they have a short life span as their legs cannot hold their body weight if you let them get too big which is part of the problem with the birds raised in some commercial situations where the birds can become injured  and they are so crowded together that it is not noticed.
We will be killing our birds at 13 weeks so that should be well before they get too heavy and could possibly become injured.

I will keep you all posted on how we go with this new journey as I am sure there will be a lot that we learn along the way