Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Transmissions Will Resume Shortly

Our computer has been on the blink and in the middle we have also been on a trip to Melbourne.

I will be back shortly.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Garlic Dilemas

I have not had a lot of success with last years garlic.  But I am not really sure why.
The year before I got a lot of large bulbs and they lasted really well.

Last year I planted out some of the good ones I had grown the year before and I got only small bulbs.  They are still really tasty and pack a punch compared to their supermarket counterparts.

And now I am finding that many of the bulbs have gone soft and the individual cloves have become dry and hollow.  I am not sure if our long dry spell has anything to do with it but thankfully it has nor affected all of them.  I will not have enough to last me till this years are ready so I think I will buy some new stock and see if I have better results.

Does anyone have any ideas or tips?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Back to the Garden

The rain finally seems like it is easing off.  We are still getting showers everyday but I decided it was time to get some more seeds sown and plants in the garden.
I planted some seeds a few weeks ago but most of them rotted in the rain so I am having another go.
I planted out some seeds directly and others in seed raising mix.  I am giving brassicas one more go after ending up feeding the to the cows last year when they refused to form heads.
I think that we are just too far north to grow them and even though we get cold winters and heavy frosts the just do not last long enough.

I am hoping that I will have them in early enough this year to get better results.

Last week during a break in the weather I had prepared the 2 raised beds behind the garage.

I dug in the last of the old sugar cane mulch and added cow manure, blood and bone and then topped it all off with a new layer of mulch.
The soil in these beds is really good after 2 years of nurturing it.    It started of as about 50% clay and now with all the organic matter we have added there are worms galore and they have broken down most of the clay so that we have lovely rich soil.
I am also having a last ditch effort at growing some beans and cucumbers.  But I may have left them a little too late.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Banana & Berry Bread - Using Up The Stockpile

While doing my stockpile challenge I thought I had better start using up some of the 30 odd frozen bananas gracing my freezer.  I do not like bananas except in cake, yes I know I'm weird.  Anyway this is such an easy recipe that I got from a book from the library and I make 2 at a time as it freezes well so is great to have on hand.

Banana & Berry Bread

4 Egg Whites
4 Large Ripe Bananas
1 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Cups Plain Flour
2 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 1/2 Cups of Frozen Berries (Raspberries, Blueberries or Mixed Berries)

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees.  Grease and line 2 loaf tins and set aside.
Lightly beat the egg whites and mash in the bananas.  Mix in the sugar and oil.
Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold through the frozen berries and then spoon the mix into the two loaf tins.
Bake for 1 1/4 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Sea Of Grass

I know many people out there are just praying for some rain but here we are praying the rain will stop.  To give you an idea of how wet it has been since the start of the year (65 days) we have had 47 inches/770mls of rain.  And most of that fell since January 24th (the last 41 days).
All that rain combined with the warm summer temperatures has meant the grass has gone crazy.

In the paddock the cows are up to their chests in grass.
The grass is thick and lush.  When the win blows and the sun is shinning it is like a sea of green with waves moving across the land.
 And our lawn that was mowed 10 days ago during a break in the weather is threatening to swallow up the pets.  The toys are long gone which should make mowing interesting on the weekend (if it is fine enough).

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Stockpile Challenge Pt 6

Well the month of February is over and so is the stockpile challenge so I thought I would share how things panned out.
The idea was to use up some of the things in our stockpile and really test how things would go if for some reason we were not able to get to the shops.
As I did not want to completely sacrifice fresh fruit and veg I allowed $15 per week but in the end we actually only spent $32.60.
We had watermelons in the garden and so many eggplants that they made it into most meals over the month. And we had lots of herbs, home grown garlic and chillies so there was always enough for a stir fry (even if most of it was eggplant.
Over the month I used up a number of things both from the pantry and freezer that were nearing the end of their storage life.  I also found some green split peas that were 18 months past their used by date, not that it would really have mattered since they were dried.  They are not something I really enjoy and since they were only 99 cents ( the price was still on them) they got cooked up for the chickens.
Other than the split peas nothing else had expired.
I also used up some frozen rosellas which have been a great addition to breakfast cereal, made plenty of bread instead of buying it and generally got a bit more creative with my cooking.

What did I learn?  Quite a lot really.

We waste food.  Not a lot but more than I am willing to accept.
I always thought we did not waste much food but I think there was a lot of blindness going on.  Little things like half tubs of yoghurt, some pesto, vegetables gone soft or mushy that sort of thing.  Part of the issue is that when we do a lot of shopping at once things get lost in the fridge.  And it is easy to be so spoilt for choice that things you intended to use up do not get used in lieu of more exciting meals.

We still have a huge stockpile.
You can hardly even tell that we didn't shop.

We spend too much on food
We still have a huge stockpile.  You can hardly even tell that we didn't shop.  Based on the amount of food we still have we are spending money we don't need to. There are just 2 of us and we spend about $70 a week on food.  Since this does not include meat very often (we have a freezer full of beef and chicken) I think this needs to be cut back to $50.

We need to change the way we shop.
I am not sure how we got to the point of shopping out of habit but some how we did, well I did.  Hubby leave it to me so I guess I have no one else to blame.

So I have made a decision.  For the rest of this year I am going to not only change the way I shop week to week, but I am going to plan another 5 months where we do the stockpile challenge.

So in March we will be cutting back to the new target of $50 a week and then in April if will be back to the challenge.

If you think you spend too much on food or want to join me in April to work through your stockpile then just leave a comment below.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Pickled Jalapeños

For a while now Hubby has been requesting that I make another batch or pickled jalapeños.  He loves them on pizza, in sandwiches in almost any thing.  So this afternoon I made up a few jars.
I make up a pickling liquid pour it over the sliced raw jalapeños then put the jars in a water bath to seal them.  The water bath is not essential but means you can store unopened jars in the pantry (for up to 12 months maybe longer) instead of the fridge (for up to 2 months).
Pickled Jalapeños

650gm Jalapeños
2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cups Water
2 Tbl Peppercorns
4 Bay Leaves
4 Cloves of Garlic peeled and cut in half
4 Tbl Salt
4 Tbl Corriander Seeds
2 Tbl Sugar

Place all ingredients except the Jalapeños in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  While this is happening slice your Jalapeños and place in sterilised jars.  Pour over the hot pickling liquid and seal.
At this stage you can either leave the jars as they are or process in a water bath.

My water bath method: I brought my jars to the the boil then held them there for 10 minutes.  I then turned off the heat and left them in the hot water for a further hour.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Slow Living February 2013

Linking up with Christine again this month.  I am really glad that she is hosting this again this year it is great to hear what everyone is up to.

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 so much baking this month as I the stockpile challenge meant we were not doing any shopping. As usual all of our meals are being cooked from scratch as well.
Banana & Berry Bread
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.
Even though we have been working through our stockpile there has still been some adding to it.  Lots of tomatoes and some home made Baked beans too.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
We have been using some recycled materials to make farming equipment. Hubby also finished the wood shed which he made entirely out of recycled materials.  I think he did a great job.
The finished wood shed
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.
Well the use of home made cleaners continues, it's a pity that the cleaning part has to happen too.
Lista Gandia eggplant and golden midget watermelon
Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
I thought he tomatoes didn't make it through the floods but I might have been wrong as they seem to be making a comeback.  The peppers, eggplants and melons are still going strong.
I also have a crop of rosellas coming along nicely.
Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I am still practising my knitting and have been doing scrap booking..

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I am still reading lots of books.  I  have read "Folks this ain't normal" by Joel Salatin and am currently reading  "The casual vacancy" by JK Rowling.

Enhance Community
Planning for this years Classic Car Show is well under way again and will be keeping me busy for many months to come.  This will be our third year and hopefully even more successful that the last two.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
February included a few birthdays and catch ups with friends which was great.

What have you been up to?