Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Storm Season Begins With A Mini Tornado

Well storm season has kicked off with a bang with 3 very hot days (37 - 40 degrees Celsius) followed by storms in the evening.
On Saturday night there was lots of wind, thunder and lightning but very little rain.  Monday night there was lots of everything including rain which was such a blessing. But Sunday night we had a storm with lots of thunder and lightning and a burst of storm activity that I can only describe as a mini tornado.

We had all the doors and windows open and the cool breeze was cooling things down and the rain was pattering on the roof.  But then I heard the wind pick up and I could hear it roaring through the trees that line the creek nearby.  
I started rushing about shutting doors and windows and called for Hubby to come and help (he was already in bed) and within about 30 seconds it hit the house.  The wind was so strong that I could barely pull the door closed against it and as Hubby was closing  one of the windows the wind slammed it on his finger (enter a few choice four letter words at this stage).
The wind slammed against the house for about 3 minutes and then died back down again.  A little while later just as I was going to bed the rain stopped.

The next morning I was astonished to see that our garden shed has been demolished with a few panels in the neighbors place.

The roof off Jessie's kennel had been blown off (we had her inside with us because of the storm thankfully) and it takes the two of us to lift it as it weighs about 40kg.  The tree branches above her kennel had been torn off and flipped over the fence.

The tree at our neighbors gateway lost a huge branch and locked them in.

The main reason that I think it was a mini tornado and not just a wind gust is the randomness of the things that were affected and where some items ended up.
The roof on Jessie's kennel was only 6 meters from the front porch yet the cane furniture on the porch was still there the next day.
The peg bucket from the back yard was found around the corner of the house and almost in the front yard (so at 90 degrees from where it should have been) about 40 meters away.
One of the flower bushes was blown over but the tomatoes that were staked nearby were still standing.
Our shed was blown to bits but the lid on my worm farm right beside the she was still on the worm farm in the morning.
So many random occurrences.

We spent Monday morning gently removing items from what was left of the shed and having a good old throw out before dismantling the shed and taking it to the dump.  I was a good excuse for a clean out and we had it on the cards for the near future but now it has been done.  It was great to get rid of a whole lot of junk and I hope to get rid of a bit more in the weeks to come.

Hubby pulling the shed apart and loading the trailer
My next job is to deal with all the empty garden pots that were stored behind the shed.  We can't take them with us to NZ so I plan on washing them all and giving them away.

Te cleared shed slab

Today we headed out to buy a new shed but I am not sure when it will be assembled.  I know one thing for sure and than is that noting is going back into the shed without first being scrutinized.
Hopefully the heat wave is over for a bit as it is too early in the season to be getting 40 degree days, it's still supposed to be spring for heavens sake!

How's the weather been at your place? 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Classic Car Show Success

For the last 4 years I have been the event director for a classic car show and this years event was held on the 19th of October.
It is a huge job and the committee and I spend most of the year planning and promoting the event an then the day itself starts at 5 am and by the time we clean up it is getting dark so hence thing have been a bit quite on the blogging front.

The car and bike owners, stall holders and viewing public were treated to great music provided by our roving entertainers the Memphis Moovers.

The stall holders all reported that they had a great day with plenty of interest.

This year we expanded the event to include replicas and kit cars and we had a great turn out form the Cobra Club, some drivers travelling from as far away the mid NSW coast, and the GT40 Club where we had 4 of the 7 GT40's in QLD turn up on the day.

We had one man bring along some amazing pedal bikes which you pedal to get going and then they run on the smallest amount of fuel.  Just what we need as we head in to a future of oil descent.

I might have to invest in one of these.  I think it would be the ideal mode of transport for short trips into town.

Overall it was a great day and although vehicle numbers were slightly down on last year we had large numbers of spectators and the ones I spoke to were having a great day out.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Snail Plague Update

Following on from my post the other day about our snail plague the 500+ snails have now been delivered to the wildlife carer who was astounded at the number we had collected.

She ended up paying us $50 for them which we were happy with considering she was taking them all off our hands.  We still have more snails but most of them are just fed to the chickens.

Hopefully we will have less destruction in the garden now that we have less but I suspect there are probably many more hiding in the garden.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Things That Make Me Smile

Over the last week all of my hippeastrums beside the driveway have burst into flower.  The whole patch was planted from bulbs that Hubby picked up from a job where they were being thrown out. Their loss our gain.
Although they only flower once a year they make me smile and add a burst of colour to the drive way.

They even make Jessie smile.  And looking at her made me smile.

Until she got distracted by something much more interesting.

This weekend is the classic car show I am the event director for and things are all on track.  We are praying for fine weather and a good turn out and i will share some photos next week.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Farewell Freezer 2 (Finally)

After more than 3 months of waiting today we finally said farewell to Freezer 2. I am not going to go into all the details but in the end we were not able to have her killed at home due to the unprofessional unreliable home butcher.  
This for us was really disappointing as we wanted to have her under as little stress as possible right up until the end.

In the end we sent her off to a family owned abattoir and her carcass will then go to a local family run butcher who will do the processing.

Today I had the job of moving her from our place through the neighbors paddock to their stock yards and loading ramp.
Hubby was at work and I was a bit worried that she would play up or get freaked out at being lured into the yards and then run away leaving me chasing her around the paddock and us both ending up stressed. 
But I needn't have worried.
With a wheelbarrow full of cut grass positioned just inside the pen and some broccoli plants, that refused to do anything other than grow leaves, tucked under my arm Freezer 2 calmly followed me from our place through the neighbours paddock and into the yards.  I then left her there for a few hours with the wheelbarrow of grass and a trough of water.

When the truck finally arrive to pick her up the driver took one look at her and said " Gee she's fat" he then asked me if I wanted a hand to load her.  I said that I would try and get her on myself since she knew me.  I calmly got her into the loading chute and then she just stood there like a stubborn old mule.  I got her moving forward towards the ramp after a bit of pushing and then she got stuck in the gateway between the chute and the ramp.

Yep her great big fat stomach was keeping her from moving easily up the ramp.  So I whacked her on the rump with my hand to try and get her moving but she was just standing there like a stubborn mule again.  I got the cattle truck driver to come and have a look to see if she really was too fat and he told me that she would fit even though it was a bit of a squeeze.  So I went around to her side and got her to move back a few steps and then got her moving forward again this time keeping her moving all the way up the ramp and onto the truck. Whew job done.

I have to say there were a few moments there where I really did think that we were cursed and that this would just be another failed attempt to have her killed.

Once she is killer her carcass will be sent back to the butcher where she will be hung for up to 2 weeks.  The butcher will then cut her up as per our specifications, pack, cryovac and freeze all the portions for us.  
The big benefit of this is that it will last well without getting freezer burn and can go into our freezer and be left there as it is packed.  With home kill meat it would get packed by us and stacked in the freezer unfrozen so we have to keep rotating it while it freezes so it all freezes evenly.

So now we just have to wait and see how much she weighs in at as a carcass. We are guessing at over 300kg but will wait and see.

I will post an update of how we get the meat portioned up and how we deal with such a large quantity in another post.

For now I am just glad this stage is over.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pestilence and Destruction

Sound the alarm we are under attack!

Attack from a plague of snails of biblical proportions.

I am not sure why but this year we have more snails that I have seen here in the last 5 years and I would have thought with all the dry weather over winter it would not have been great snail breeding weather, I guess I was wrong.

Check out the below, this is how many snails we collected from the garden on day 1.

Since these photos were taken we have collected another 200 - 400 snails from our garden over a couple of days.
So rather than just think about how we can get rid of them  (I have a plan for that) I first started thinking about what is this infestation telling me about our garden?

The ideas I came up with were that:
We need more lizards and frogs (our winter was quite cold and we have not seen as many frogs as normal)
We should be raising ducks, although I am not sure they could be controlled to just eat snails)
Our veggie garden is not the major food source (although they seem to be big fans of my seedlings) as we are seeing some damage but not complete devastation
We could be eating snails as a form of protein (I am not entirely joking about this )
We need to be more diligent and feed more of them to the chickens
We need to snail hunt on a regular basis to control the population
Our humid shade house is the perfect breeding ground for snails

So what am I going to do with over 500 snails?  Well I am taking then to a wildlife centre.

For the last few weeks Hubby's parents have had a carpet python in their garden.  Because it had not moved and we thought it was injured they called a wildlife carer.  The wildlife carer came and confirmed that it had a broken back o took it away to be euthanasied.  But at some stage during the conversation the wildlife carer told my in-laws how they were buying in snails to feed to all the lizards and that there was a snail shortage (yes because they are all at our place) and they were having to pay up to $1 per snail.
Ding ding ding!  Show me the money!

So the plan is to take the snails to Brisbane (Hubby has to go anyway) so that the wildlife people can make good use of our excess and hopefully we can bring the pestilence and destruction to an end, well we should slow it down at least.

We are pretty sure they will be shocked at the number of snails we are delivering so it will be interesting to find out their reaction.

Do you have excessive snail numbers, or anything else, at your place?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hanging My Garlic For Storage

Following my post the other day Cheryl asked about the hanging rack I use.  Well it is nothing special just a portable clothes rack we got from Ikea many years ago before we purchased some freestanding wardrobes.
It is currently set up out in the laundry and we use it for hanging coats and hats on as well as the garlic.

The hanging rack

I then take a each of the garlic bulbs and tie them to the rack one by one.

You just keep tying them off and I posted about this back in 2011 when I had a bumper harvest and you can read about it here where there are more photos.

This year I harvested my garlic a bit late and a lot of the stalks had dried out and I was not able to tie them off individually so instead tied them together with kitchen twine and then tied them to the rack in bunches.

There were also a few bulbs that lost their stalks entirely and these ones will be the ones I use up first.

The bulbs that lost their stalks were also the ones that had lost a lot of the outside layers of papery skin.  This means that by the time you have brushed off all the dirt there is not much skin left on them hence these need to be in the first group to be used up.

I will not be planting garlic next year as since we will not be staying here I will use the garden space for something else.  This also means I can eat all of my home grown garlic and not have to think about having some left for replanting.

How do you store your garlic?

Monday, 13 October 2014

The Joys Of Gardening In Queensland

Over the weekend we had some great weather and I managed to spend some time in the garden early each morning before it got too hot.  I was doing a special job which I will tell you about tomorrow.

It was just as well because later in the day when it was warmer look who I saw peeking out of the bushes later on.


He /she heard me an made a run or should that be slither for it.

A good thing too because although we know these red belly black snakes are around and are timid as far as  snakes go they are still very poisonous and should be avoided.

Have you had any interesting garden visitors lately?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

2014 Garlic Harvest

This year I planted two rounds of garlic, the first round from larger cloves and the second round a few weeks later from some smaller cloves that had started to sprout.

The first round were ready to be harvested about a week or two ago but we had quite a bit of rain so I needed to wait until things had dried out a bit.  But as you an see from the photo the leaves and stalks had really started to die off ( the brown leaves in the photo) and this will make them hard to tie to my drying rack.  The second round of garlic could have gone another week but it was just easier to harvest all the garlic at the same time.  Because it had not gone so far the leaves are in better condition and will be easier to tie to my hanging frame.

None of the bulbs are huge but they all have quite a few cloves and if the past few years are anything to go by each clove will pack a punch so size will not matter that much.  There are 36 bulbs in all so that should last a while.
I will leave them to dry for a few days then use a soft brush to brush off the dirt.  Then I will use the stalks and leaves to tie the bulbs to my hanging frame.  I can't wait to try them.

Did you grow garlic this year?  How did yours go?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Weekend Kitchen

It was a long weekend here and boy did we pack it full.  We caught up and went walking with one friend on Saturday morning then went out for lunch and did some shopping (something that we have been putting off for ages since we are not fans of shopping).  Then we went out for a farewell dinner with my youngest brother and his girlfriend who are off to Korea for the next 2 years.
Sunday morning we caught up with Hubby's best friend and his wife and kids for brunch then it was back to Hubby's parents for lunch with them his brother.  We got home at about 4pm and had a early night.  Monday morning was spent doing jobs around the farm and finally in the afternoon I did some baking,  All in all it was a busy weekend.

I did make a carrot cake using my recipe that is super easy.  This time I topped it with a cream cheese icing flavoured with orange rind and it was a very tasty combination,

I have also been making a lot of juices lately with all the beetroot and oranges we have.  I like to include all the beetroot leaves plus ginger, mint, parsley, carrots and cucumber with a bit of orange juice.  It makes a great mid morning pick me up.

What did you get up to in the kitchen on the weekend?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Curry Of The Week - Rogan Josh

Following on from my post yesterday about spices I thought it was time for a curry post.
This is such a tasty curry and is not at all hot but feel free to add extra chilli if you want.  It also takes lamb and onions and turns them into something amazing through the addition of spices.

Rogan Josh

1kg Diced Lamb
1 Cup Yogurt
1 Tbs Malt Vinegar
6 Cloves of Crushed Garlic
2 Tbs Grated Fresh Ginger
2 Tbs Ghee (use vegetable oil if you don't have ghee)
4 Cardomon Pods
4 Cloves
2 Tsp Fennel Seeds
1 Cinnamon Stick
2 Large Brown Onions
4 Tsp Ground Cumin
6 Tsp Ground Coriander
2 Tsp Sweet Paprika
3/4 Tsp Ground Chilli
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock (you could use water)

In a large bowl combine your yogurt, vinegar, 3 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 Tbs of grated ginger. Once combine add your lamb mix well to coat, cover and place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, but the longer the better.
Dice your onions and set aside in a bowl.  Then add you ghee and whole spices to a large heavy based pan a cook over a medium heat until fragrant.

Whole spices and ghee

Add the onions and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and a little brown then add the rest of your garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.

Onions and spices

Add your dried spices to your onion mix and cook them out (cook until they are fragrant but do not over cook or they will turn bitter).

I find it easier to measure out my spices so I can add them all at once and quickly blend them

The marinated lamb

Then add your lamb mix and combine with the spice mix then add your stock and mix until well combined. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours then remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the lamb is tender

Stock added

The finished dish
I like to serve with chopped fresh mint and coriander sprinkled on top and while it does not look so pretty in the photo above it was extremely tasty.  It just goes to show that by adding spices to meat and onions you can turn them into something interesting.

Do you have a favorite curry?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Using Spices For Frugal Flavour

When it comes to turning a few basic ingredients into something spectacular with barely any cost at all spices are your go to guys in the kitchen.

I love all the different colours of spices

People often say that they don't like spicy food but what they really mean is that they do not like 'heat'.  
Spicy and heat are not the same thing and to say you do not like spice is almost like saying you do not like flavour.  You also need to remember that chilli's range in their heat intensity from mildly hot to off the charts hot.  Spice and chilli can be a marriage made in heaven but many dishes can be cooked with very little or no chilli at all and still be delicious.

I have a really good range of spices in my pantry and I use them for both sweet and savoury dishes.  We both enjoy ethnic foods with strong flavours from different parts of the world and are particully fond of Indian, Thai and Middle Eastern foods.  Spices are not expensive to buy and as long as you store them correctly they will last a long time (although the flavour will diminish a bit 

Some of my spices and dried herbs.

If you are new to using spices or need some tips on which spices to try with which meats here are some of my suggestions:

For me cumin is the go to spice for lamb but you can also use coriander, sumac, paprika and cardamon as well as the spices listed in the mixes below.  There are a couple of spice blends that are great with lamb, Ras el Hanout which is a Moroccan blend and Baharat a Lebanese blend that often includes nutmeg, paprika, cloves, cassia, allspice, cardamon, pepper and sometimes mint and chilli.
Basic Spice Rub for Lamb Chops: Dry roast some cumin seeds until they are just fragrant and grind them then add some sumac and salt.  Rub into the chops and grill. You can also grind cardamon seeds with salt and use that as a rub.

Pork and fennel go hand in had but I am also a fan of smoked paprika and oregano with salt as a rub and caraway seeds add an interesting flavour.

All spice and juniper makes a great addition to any sort of stew.  Cumin, paprika coriander and ginger all add interesting flavours to steak.

Cinnamon and allspice go really well with chicken as does fenugreek. A great marinade for chicken is preserved lemon, ground coriander and oil all mashed together and rubbed into the meat.

Aniseed type flavours work well with  fish so try fennel and star anise combined with different citrus. Turmeric and saffron and paprika all work well with fish as well as imparting their colour to the fish.

There are so many different spices out there and it is all a matter of taste so try new combinations and if you find one you like write it down so you can use it again.  

Do you have any favourites spice combinations?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Slow Living September 2014

Linking up with Linda who is now our gracious host having taken over from Christine in hosting the Slow Living Nine.  I love joining in each month and reflecting on what I have achieved, it is also great to hear what everyone is up to and share in their achievements.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
We make all of our meals from scratch pretty much but I do sometimes buy cereal.  I was shocked most recently to find that the "Just Right" Cereal that I buy is about 28% sugar.  Some comes from the dried fruit but some of it is added.  I used to make our own mixed cereal but I got a bit lazy and went back to buying it.  Well I will not be doing that any more.  Along with the sugar there is a whole lot of other stuff in there I don't want or need.

During the month I made some more sausage rolls.  Hubby really likes these in his lunchbox even though they are cold as they make a nice change from sandwhiches.  There have also been some yummy sweet treats like the orange and almond cake.  I still have oranges so I will be thinking up some other ways to use them.

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.

During the month I made a heap of pesto some of which made it into the freezer for later use.  I also froze some portions of quiche to have on hand for easy lunches when we are busy and want something quickly.

The macadamia and lemon myrtle shortbread were a real hit so much so that I had to hide the second batch in the freezer in small portions.  Most of them were still discovered but I have one last container full hiding down the bottom for an emergency.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
I am not sure we did anything in the re-purposing area but we continue to try and de-clutter giving things away that we cannot take with us to New Zealand.  I gave a friend a whole lot of huge plastic garden pots.  I am sure if I washed a disinfected them we could take them but it would make it more likely that they would want to pull our shipping container apart.

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.
Just the usual happening on this front.  I have a catch of citrus cleaner on the go but now that I have all the oranges I will be getting another batch started.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?
The garden is producing lots of Silverbeet and herbs, we have harvested a couple of purple cauliflower but it is now getting very warm and I suspect the rest might not come to anything and get fed to the cow. I am growing spring onions, beetroot, fennel and celeriac, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, capsicum, cucumber and eggplant.  The zucchini are just putting on their first small fruit so I am looking forward to harvesting those later this week. .

The zucchini are smothering the lettuce plants around them but that is ok because we
will be harvesting the lettuce over the next week

The mulberry is fruiting,  mmmmm can't wait

All of the citrus are flowering like mad so hopefully it will be a bumper crop next year.

The native bees are loving all of the citrus flowers and were there in their thousands
so we must have a nest nearby.

I have to hurry up and use these lettuces as the snails are into them in a big way

These beefsteak tomatoes are coming along and the cucumber will take off in no time at all.

I am doing much better at staggering my plantings this year and have just got my second round of seeds in.  Already I can see that we need to eat more veggies as there is a glut of beetroot, lettuce and silverbeet in the garden.

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I have finally picked up my crochet hook again after a long hiatus and have  been trying to maser the basic stitches so I can make something other than the dish cloths I have been making.  I am happy with my progress and my stitches are becoming nice and even my tension is better.

Nothing too exciting about this but my stitches are getting better.

On this one I have done 4 rows each of single, then double, then triple crochet hence it
is a bit curved but since it is going to be a dish cloth what does it matter.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
Over the last month I have read a few interesting books including the one below which I posted about here.  I am also reading the transition towns book but i will talk more about that later as I have just started.

Enhance Community
It is all systems go (only 8 weeks to go) in organising the car show that I am involved in and things are just getting busier and busier in this area.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
Attending the Real Food Festival was one of my highlights of this month and we also spend some time camping with friends which was great. I know October is full of get togethers with family and friends so I am looking forward to that.

What have you been up to?