Wednesday, December 30

SLOW living

I've been feeling like a bit of a fraud for a while. This week, its really come home to roost but I've been conscious of and feeling like this for a couple of months. Fraudulent in the sense of not deceiving outright, just feeling a little like stretching the truth somewhat.

My tag line for my blog may have to change.

Living with SLOW principles when you are a mum of three and a worker and a student and starting a small business and helping another one get up and running does not for SLOW living make. Having a husband who is now running for parliament in the next State election doesn't help. SLOW living is not really HOW we live hour to hour. Its pretty hard and fast around here.
'Doh!', yeah, i hear you groaning.

Funny, I really identify with SLOW principles. I believe in savoring, getting back to first principles, working for your rewards, not taking the easy options, respecting nature, appreciating the effort that goes in to making, doing, being. SLOW principles are what we always try to employ in what we do, what we use, what we consume, and how we do it. But it all adds up in a modern world to a crazy busy life of promoting SLOW. Our lives are based on generating a public interest in ideas like this. My tag line needs to read something like' a SLOW principled woman working too FAST in a modern world, striving to make SLOW a conscious and attainable way of life.
Within all my responsibilities, paid and otherwise, I try and practice SLOW but at the end of the day it really all adds up to BUSY. Trying to live as consciously and ecologically as possible and getting the word out there and trying to make a difference as a working person with a family is inherently not SLOW.
Cant quite work it out.

Monday, December 28

bean playing

I've been busy the last few days. Busy unwinding, really unwinding, from the tight coil that was me trying to get my thesis done by Christmas. It took a few days to unfurl, to drop the physical and emotional stress I had been carrying, which had been propelling me along. Its been beautiful, this time at home. I've mostly spent my time playing in the garden, the girls too, the weather has been just perfect for outdoors. We have spent most of our days sitting in the creek, above the creek, beside the creek, listening to the waterfalls and indulging the Boybean in his favourite new pastine; rock tossing. Plonk.
I havent been out in public since I finished. We've been living off food from the garden, Christmas leftovers and pantry staples. We've been playing games, cooking together, doing hours of Lego building and watering the vegetables. Life is good this week.

Friday, December 25

comfort, joy and butter up its arse

Here's a Merry Christmas read from Waffle; Belgiums slattern extraordinaire and 'unfit' mother. Hope 'y'all had a good one. Im barely conscious. The thought of eating another crustacean is making me feel a bit ill. 'The Night' went extremely well. lots of laughter and wine and food and family goodness. It was brilliant. The Big Beans declared today the best-est, happiest day of their life which they wish could be repeated every day, like groundhog day, hereafter...
Hope you're all well satiated.

Wednesday, December 23

i dunno what i was thinking

when i decided that the 24th December would be a good deadline to submit my thesis for its last supervisors' edit. Im snappy. I think I thought maximum time to finish and then I'd be free and able to enjoy the compulsory University shut down from midday tomorow until January 5. Im cranky, stressed, short tempered and suffering a mga burn (dropped a hot molten butter pie crust on my arm??!!??) I've cooked three dishes tonight since i got home from work- dinner; ravioli with carrot sauce, sweet potato bake with nut crumble topping- sweet potatos baked with fresh thyme then mashed with cooked garlic and leek and ready to have the parmesan pine nut crumble topping placed then baked tomorrow night. Boysenberry pie crust cooked, creme patissiere made, that too is ready to be assembled tomorrow and berries piled on top. Just the Beef Wellington and hasselback potatoes and beans to do tomorrow when i get home, after Ive finished the thesis.

Looking forward to that, and the fact that my brother has promised a massive lobster, and prawns and calamari. Surf n turf tomorrow night here i come! Cant remember the last time I ate all that over farmed seafood but Im not going to kick up a stink. I love love lobster. And I look forward to a glass or two (or three or four) of celebration fizz. My mums coming for a sleepover too- first Christmas morning with her for a long time. The big beans are pretty happy about that and she's stoked too. So, this may be the last post until after the crazy hullabaloo has died down. Ive so enjoyed having you all in my neighbourhood, thanks for your company. Have a wonderful time in peace and solitude, with friends, with family; whatever the silly season holds for you. Take care and look after the planet.

Monday, December 21

carrot and citrus wine

A few months back The Gnomes came to visit to make some wine. We decided on carrot and citrus wine (we had lots of citrus- lemon, orange, grapefruit) We picked and peeled and chopped and boiled and stirred. Then we poured carrot and citrus peel and juice and sugar and regular baking yeast into a big plastic bucket and left it stewing awhile. Then we decanted and drained off the must into another bucket and left it to ferment a month or so.

We tasted, checked the alcohol content, added a little more sugar and left it to ferment again.

When fermentation had slowed right down and the water seal in the bung/ airlock wasn't gurgling anymore we racked it; drained the wine from the sludge that settled at the bottom.

Near finishing time, we checked the clarity, added some gelatine to aid it clearing, and racked it again.

So, yesterday, two months after we first chopped boiled and stirred, the Gnomes returned and we bottled up the wine. A dozen each thereabouts. We reckon it packs quite a punch.

We sampled a little; its very good, spirit-like its so punchy, no hint of carrot and the bloke reckons 'it tastes a bit like Christmas'.

The Gnomes also guided me in a trimming and carving session on a huge hunk of beef. I now have lots of meals of thin schnitzel, a fillet for christmas, some steaks and chunks for curry or mince. What a rare treat! I even got invited to a 'pluckin' party'! Like minds is all Im saying. Stay tuned for that post.

The boybeans got a sweet little thing goin' on with Veggie Gnome. Must be all the berries...

Sunday, December 20

Viva Chavez!

Press release. Copenhagen.
Chavez Calls for Systemic Change to Save Planet
By Kiraz Janicke

During his speech to the 15th United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed the lack of political will of the most powerful nations to take serious action to avert climate change, and called for systemic change to save the planet.

Chavez, who received a standing ovation for his speech, said the process in Copenhagen is not democratic; it is not inclusive. In particular, he criticised an attempt by rich countries to overturn the Kyoto Protocol. Doing so would eliminate differentiation between the obligations of rich and poor countries, treating countries from the Global North and South as equally responsible for climate change.

There is a group of countries that believe they are superior to those of us from the South, to those of us from the Third Word...this does not surprise us...we are again faced with powerful evidence of global imperial dictatorship, Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president also applauded the initiative of the protesters outside the summit who were calling for serious measures to stop catastrophic climate change.

There are many people outside... I've read in the news that there were some arrests, some intense protests there in the streets of Copenhagen, and I salute all those people out there, the majority of them youth. They are young people concerned for the world's future, he said.

I have been reading some of the slogans painted in the streets. One said, "Dont Change the Climate, Change the System!" And I bring that on board for us. Lets not change the climate. Lets change the system! And as a consequence, we will begin to save the planet. Capitalism is a destructive development model that is putting an end to life, that threatens to put a definitive end to the human species.

Another notable slogan is, If the climate were a bank, they would have bailed it out already, Chavez said during his speech. Its true; the rich governments have saved the capitalist banks, he said, but they lack the political will to make the necessary reductions to greenhouse emissions.

One could say there is a spectre at Copenhagen, to paraphrase Karl Marx...almost no-one wants to mention it: the spectre of capitalism, he declared.

History requires all people to struggle against capitalism, and if we dont, life on the planet will disappear, the Venezuelan president argued.

Do the rich think they can go to another planet when they've destroyed this one? he asked as he recommended a copy of a book by Herv Kampf, How the Rich are Destroying the Planet.

Climate change is undoubtedly the most devastating environmental problem of this century. Floods, droughts, severe storms, hurricanes, melting ice caps, rise in average sea levels, ocean acidification, and heat waves, all of that sharpens the impact of global crisis besetting us, he continued.

Human activity is exceeding the limits of sustainability and endangering life on the planet, but the impacts of climate change are also being felt disproportionately by the worlds poor, Chavez explained.

He also pointed to the relationship between economic inequality and levels of greenhouse gas emissions. He said the richest 500 million people, or 7% of the worlds population, are responsible for 50% of global greenhouse emissions, while the poorest 50% of the worlds population are responsible for only 7% of total emissions.

Using this analysis, he argued that it was not feasible to call countries such as the US and China to sit at the summit on an equal footing, insisting that the same obligations cannot be imposed on both nations.

The US, with a population of 300 million, consumes more than 20 million barrels of oil a day, while China, whose population is almost five times greater than that of the US, consumes around 5-6 million barrels a day, he pointed out.

The behind-the-scenes negotiations at the summit have been marked by sharp disputes between the US and China, and between rich and poor nations. Poor countries have criticised rich countries for attempting to set inadequate emissions targets for industrialised countries and for pledging insufficient funding for poor countries to alleviate the impacts of climate change.

According to various reports, poor nations argue that rich countries should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union has pledged a 20 percent reduction. The US, however, has only offered only a 3-4 percent cut.

Outside in the streets of Copenhagen mass demonstrations calling for climate justice have been repressed by police using pepper spray and batons. More than 1000 people have been arrested.

We ask from Venezuela: How much longer are we going to allow such injustices and inequalities? How much longer are we going to tolerate the current international economic order and prevailing market mechanisms? Chavez questioned.

Chavez called for the summit to change direction. We cannot continue like this. Lets change course, but without cynicism, without lies, without double agendas, no documents out of the blue, with the truth out in the open, he said.

Saturday, December 19

so my brother called...

and told me that he loved me, that they would lock in next Christmas lunch as i had requested, that they would come to our house on Christmas Eve and we would do dinner as a complete family, that they would bring food, and I cried. I think my last email must have worked or something? My poor mum was beside herself with joy. I cant remember the last time we had a Christmas meal with them...

So my head turns to a menu. Thinking that I will suggest they bring wine and i will do the food. I'm thinking a piece of fantastic local fillet of beef wrapped in mustard, wild mushroom duxelle and pastry ala Wellington style, a boysenberry tart courtesy of the Gnome berry bushes, nut loaf with pimiento sauce for the vegos and some vegetables/warm salads. Any suggestions? I haven't ever done a Christmas Eve dinner. Usually Im a seafood for lunch at Christmas kind of girl and we always have nut loaf, its our family tradition. Whats your favourite Christmas food? Do you have a Christmas food that's tradition for you?

Thursday, December 17

very, very adult chocolate tart

This was B1s request for birthday cake. It followed a very favourite baked chicken, proscuitto and mozarella dish that i know from memory but can no longer locate since my move-in with the Bloke and I lost my Foods of the World Time Series cookbooks. If anyone has the Italian small companion recipe book I'd love you forever if you could tell me what this dish is called. Its floured, flattenned chicken breasts, gently sealed and browned, then topped with proscuitto and mozarella and baked in stock until it looks just perfect. Its moist and delicious and when we have it (birthday dinners) I always serve it with hasselback potatoes and beans/brocollini.
So the choc tart was the only thing I remembered to photograph, well that and the risotto balls I made for the vegos amongst us but...another post...

Its Jamie Olivers Chocolate Tart, best served with some berries. Its like a good red.

4 large eggs .
3 tbsps sour cream .
1 sweet tart crust ( I used Careme sweet vanilla bean pastry)
8 tbsps cocoa powder .
250 g 70% cocoa dark chocolate .
140 g unsalted butter .
syrup .
200 g caster sugar .
3 tbsps golden syrup .
1 pinch salt .


Step #1 Pre-heat oven to 150*C.
Step #2 Blind bake the pastry shell for about 10 mins or until it is almost cooked & golden.
Step #3 In a bowl add butter, chocolate, salt & cocoa powder.
Step #4 Put bowl over a saucepan with simmering water & heat until melted & golssy.
Step #5 While above is melting, mix together eggs & castor sugar until smooth.
Step #6 Add sour cream & golden syrup to the eggs & mix again till yoiu get a smooth mixture.
Step #7 Add the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs & mix well until mixd.
Step #8 Pour this batter into the prepared pastry shell & bake for 40 mins at 150*C.
Step #9 Cool.

*p.s. Hasselback potato hint: use a chopstick to brace the knife from cutting all the way through.

Addendum; according to some, this chicken dish is apparently better than sex

Wednesday, December 16

gender bender

Im loving this.

On Monday, the Bloke won endorsement to run on the Greens ticket for the Legislative Council in the next State election in March 2010. Life will be getting busier.

Yesterday the Bloke, who is also a stay home dad to the boy bean, now 18 months, faced his first child care dilemma, the first of many to come I imagine. He has a meeting with Federal Greens Minister, Sarah Hanson-Young lined up for today. Neither my mum, B1 or myself could do it at such short notice. So he rang Sarahs office to see if it was OK to bring the bean in to the meeting. Her male PA said 'sure fine, he could help out looking after the bean a bit'. I love it! Bloke has issues with child care for meeting with female minister and takes the Bean in to be looked after by her male PA. Im really lovin' this.

Tuesday, December 15

Christmas issues

I may love Christmas and my family around but I have one small problem which arises every Christmas. My only sibling doesn't. Over the years he has made himself and his family quite scarce. Christmas has been either a 'we dont want to leave the house' day (fair enough) but we wont make any other arrangements, or a 'you're to far to travel to to be with (30 min) and 'its a pain and we'd prefer to do Christmas low key by ourselves this year' (later finding out that Xmas has been done with the in-laws family (the truth is so much better) or 'what are you doing this year? we're staying home, feel free to drop in anytime'.

Its always on his terms and at his place. Or else its a Christmas Eve visit,his kids optional and for an hour or two. No other options considered. So, if I dont take up the offers and times they propose, there's no recourse. No negotiation. 'This is what we're doing, join in if you want to see us. If you cant make it, too bad. '
Its dissapointing to say the least.

So, in the last few days, after I found out that the Christmas proposal that I thought he''d made when we last saw each other at our Mums birthday; to have lunch together, is not happening, i was pretty shattered. They have lunch with the in-laws and early evening drinks with friends and neighbours organised...but again, feel free to drop in...(thanks for including us in the arranging but we have a 1 1/2 year old, so night-time drinks are a small problem. He seems to think this is inclusive, an expression of interest. Or am I wrong here?

Alternatively, we have been offered a Christmas Eve at their place (with the caveat that they're both working till late so its probably not possible ) but hey send me a 'proposal'" or else Christmas morning at their place before they head out for lunch. Geez thanks. Last time we were invited over to their place (2 years ago) he cancelled due to rain??? And never rescheduled. I dont get him.

My heart has been in recovery mode. I sent him an email saying how sad i was about it all, his lack of priority of my family. His very legal response (he owns a law firm) was not touching and heart warming to say the least. Last time I spoke up about something I didn't like, he and wife didn't talk to me for three years.

Im waiting his response to my latest letter...Im actually quite terrified but it feels great to purge!

Monday, December 14

saving the world, one weekend at a time

Our efforts started on Friday with Bloke picking me up after work for The Greens Christmas drinks where the boy bean intermittently went from grazing the horses-doovers, returning what he didn’t like to the platters (i just know there were a few moments where i missed it...eww, sorry fellow party folk!) and sitting at the bar performing embarrassing imitations of his father by sipping his drink, munching potato wedges and slapping flies. Role modelling in action. Noice.

Flew from Christmas drinks to home where i got turfed with the boybean and the Bloke grabbed some snags and some beer and a candle or two and headed to our local library and lawn where the 350 vigil he organised was taking place. Its always nice when the co-ords late... I put the bean to bed and passed out on mine for a while then dragged my way up the hill, white wine in hand; just to keep the classiness going, and promptly had myself a good time. Finally got home at 11pm. Sleep. Up. Got the kids ready and we all bussed to town. It was great as pretty much the whole bus load were on their way to the Walk Against Warming so there was a bit of communal spirit along the way. I was half tempted to start a round of 'kumbaya'.
Once at the rally I pressed the flesh and talked the talk for Food Connect Adelaide and after an hour and a half of handing out flyers and 'doing the promo' I could hardly string a sentence together. that’s bloody hard work. Then we walked through the city centre in solidarity to take a stand for the health of the people and the planet and to try and foster some real government action on climate change.

Sunday was a Christmas picnic with friends; petanque, wine, kids, soccer, cricket. Well... I had a lie down. No, I didnt have toooo much to drink, just little sleep the nite before and a midday glass of wine took its toll. And for those of you who noticed..these are the Blokes favourite reusbale plastic picnic cups from a bar-in-his-past in San Fran. The rest of the party held up fine.

Friday, December 11

Wednesday, December 9

a dedicated reader and an embarrassing moment

Being a bit of a statistics nerd; professional interests dont just dissappear when you're on leisure time, i really have a very fond relationship with my stats counter. I uploaded Google Analytics a few weeks ago and loved the detail. Dont mean to freak you out...but I KNOW WHO YOU ARE! lol. Well i thought i did. I noticed a very avid new reader from Mountain View, California. Many, many logins per day, and every day without fail and several pages 'read' each time. Nice. I wonder who they are Will they introduced themselves? Who is this keen Mountain View reader. Who are you?

Anyway, being the ever stats nerd I went back into my set-up for Google Analytics to re-set the counter to exclude one of my computers so as to not log my self in the count and adjust some settings.
Embarrassing moment.

My Mountain View reader is Google Analytics taking daily readings.
So half smart.

Tuesday, December 8

D-Day report

Well can I say I made a mountain out of a mole hill? Slight histrionics perhaps...hindsihght is always easy. How do you reconcile a 27/28 , Ive forgotten exactly how old he is now, year old with a 14-0n the brink -of -15 year old girl? You dont. You just cope day to day and communicate and set firm boundaries. Its been tricky but I have to say, meeting the guy today was a little bitter sweet. On the one hand, I wonder about my daughter and on the other hand, Im not worried about him at all. At first sight he looked just her age. I though 'no way, he can't be 27/28' He looks like a teenager. Awkward, uncomfortable, gawky. How I wished he was interesting. Id had in mind a professional, mature, interesting sort of person; my ex-husband at 28 years old. Nup. Kid. Ten years too old for his mind and body. Im thinking they are made for each other right now. She needs love and attention from someone safe and reliable and not complicated and undemanding and unsure. Check. (absent father issues, yes) And so does he (his issues I have no idea about!) I actually felt sorry for him. He'd get eaten alive in this family. B1 on her 15th cusp seemed more worldy and mature. How does that happen? The power differential that I imagined and was so terrifying to me just isnt there. She rules their roost. He is a kid who just hasnt matured. I even wondered at some stage if she'd got his age wrong. My 21 year old nephew seems so much older. Im a bit confused by the apparent contradictions he presents. He appears to be very compliant and no threat at all?!

For those of you who cared about the lunch menu. We had home-made burgers. Toasted wholemeal Portugese rolls, bio-dynamic beef with chilli, basil and onion burger, organic cheddar, home made pickle, home made sauce, mayo, 'garden' and beetroot. It was good. Poor guy didnt even make it half way through, even without the 'garden'....

I have been so happy to hear of experiences about relationships others have had with older men in their past; Em, Katy and my hairdresser. Reassuring at least. But Jeez, its a tough one to navigate with grace as a mother. Most of me just wants to say Noooo.

Monday, December 7

Not ready for this...

Its a good thing i have been so busy. My mind has been well occupied. Tomorrow is D-Day. The meet the 'too-old-for-my-daughter-why-dont-you-just-fuck-off' bloke day. Im not ready. Im ill prepared. I have no speech, no knock out punch, no poisoned chalice or moment of hypnotherapy prepared. I dont even know what we're having for lunch. When I dont know what's for lunch you know I'm not prepared. Well I do know we ARE having salad coz apparently he doesnt do 'garden'. Well he can bloody well 'do garden' just coz thats whats in season so and you cant have your cake and eat it too right, and garden is bloody well low carbon and good for you and if everyone just ate meat and chips...can you tell im really looking forward to this? I just hope he doesnt start calling her darling or worse...babe then I just might choke on my chokoes, or thump him one, or get really pathetic and passive aggressive on him. Ah fuck it. Cant prepare for this. I'll be winging it and hope that we all make it out alive.Better get that gas bottle filled...

Farm of the Future

Im a bit of a 'know-it-all' (in my head that is ; Im not claiming out loud to actually know it all) so when i see something that provides me with simple and engaging information about stuff that I feel already well versed in (besides specific technical info of which I will never claim to know it all) then Im one happy camper. This documentary, broken into five You Tube videos, really helped me understand the role of oil in modern farming. Its about one city woman who inherts her family farm and her exploration of more eco-friendly pathways to make it a sustainable venture. The alternative cattle farming methods showcased I found illuminating. Hope you take some time to watch these. They're REALLY good.

Sunday, December 6

Scallion pancakes

Finally, a food post! A two ingredient lunch. Scallions + flour; way too easy peasy. Well water and some oil too, but hey, minimal!
A half used bunch of scallions had been languishing in the frdge for a week. Scallion gulit had become a problem. Thankfully the light bulb went on. Problem solved. Family Styles scallion panckaes. They also have a good series of pics if you cant understand my instructions. My hands were so flour coated I only took a few pics of the process.
These pancakes are quick, tasty , crispy, flaky and best of all easy and low fat. We scoffed them for lunch, even the bean loved them (sans spicy sauce).

makes 4 frypan size pancakes

:: 2 cups plain flour
:: 1 cup boiling water
:: 1/2 cup of chopped scallions
:: sesame oil

mix flour and water with spoon (its hot) and then knead with hands into a smooth, soft ball. Divide into 4 balls.

Roll a ball of dough into a thin flat circle to fit your frypan. Drizzle sesame oil to taste over surface then scatter 1/4 of the scallions over complete surface. Then take an edge and roll the circle into a 'cigar' shape. Make a coil from the 'cigar' and then roll the coil back into a thin flat circle. Fry in a sesame oiled pan , turning until cooked. Nest time I will use more oil and cook for less time. Im too used to dry frying tortilla and indian bread.

:: soy sauce
:: smashed clove/s of garlic
:: chopped scallions
:: chilli flakes/sauce
:: sugar
:: rice wine vinegar

Mix together vinegar and sugar to dissolve the sugar. Add other ingredients to taste.

Serve with the pancakes! (the leftover sauce I used to season the okonomiyaki we had for dinner)

I squeezed these in for lunch around finishing the dill pickles (after fermentation comes canning!) and limoncello bottling before I braved the 'Monster Mall' with three kids in tow. It was actually much less traumatic than usual. Either we've all grown up or the planets were aligned. No tantrums, no tears, just endless searching for the 'perfect' summer apparrel. I thought I handled myself well not to mention the picture perfect small-child-handed-down-from-heaven who happily sat in his wheel chair watching all that an afternoon at 'Fountain Lakes' offerred his innocent self without complaint. He was pretty enamoured with all the sparkly christmas baubly bits. Four hours of shopping centre tramping took its toll on both my feet and my 'stumulus tolerance' level, driving me to fall into a deeply soothing alcoholic beverage after the unpacking, re-feeding, fashion parading and bathing frenzy subsided. Ive now fallen into a second snifter of limoncello. Good thing I made somewhere near six litres of the stuff! Might get me through till Christmas...

Saturday, December 5

Christmas planning

Not having a religious bone in my body (only if you discount Green as a religion) I do ridiculously look forward to Christmas. I think possibly it may be the excuse to cook way more food than usual,and the chance to eat full interesting meals at least twice a day for days on end. Really, all i have to say about christmas planning at the moment can be found here. All i want for Christmas is to write like her. Loving the kids fridge based Christmas lists this year; scrap papers with ambit claims for outrageous 'things'. Plasma TVs, a new home, Pandora bracelets (each BEAD is a mortgage payment) and you'd definitely need oh about 15 to have something resembling anywhere near 'cool'. Must examine them to check for something reasonable.

Christamas at Chez Pan compensates for the rest of the years non-indulgence. Christmas staples from this tight wad always include a recommended read, 'more than one' piece of clothing-a whole new outit or two all at once kind of deal-(told you I was tight), fair trade chocolate, a bottle of sparkling grape juice, one 'something quite outraegous' that they have been hankering for (usually a piece de resistance ala Christmas list) and a few small other things that I hesitate to buy them throughout the year that they pester me for (make-up, perfume, new belts, bags, sunglasses). Somehow I always manage to fill the sack and they're always more than happy with their 'stuff'. B1 was NOT impressed upon learning that Christmas sacks do not just go on indefinitely until one leaves home but expire at age 16, at which she was quick to get me to clarify whether it was the 16th year or at age 16! meaning otherwise this was going to be her last Christmas and she just wasnt emotionally prepared for that! I love the christmas morning ritual of kids piling onto the bed with sacks and the patient ceremony of sharing turns at selecting and opening. Five on the bed this year. Could be messy.

How many days left to get it together? Im no way there. Havent even planned the menu!

Friday, December 4

Wednesday, December 2

Elevated Christmas

Last years Christmas 'tree' is even more useful this year with the Bean tearing around the place. He was mooching last year, but this year its essential. The only dilemma is where to put the presents? This weekend we will hoist the old steel wagonwheel into place and wind it with foilage. Its a great alternative to a tree. Last year I used hawthorne and holly from the garden. That was a little painful.
This year i think eucalyptus leaves and its big gum nuts, but maybe thats a fire hazard?...and definitely still use the glass fruit and veg baubles which I love. I mean really, how can you not be happy with a bauble shaped like a bunch of asparagus, a dill pickle or a giant strawberry?

I find my love of Christmas quite contradictory.

delays in programming

I enjoyed a glorious moment today which made my heart sing and my brain take a break from its now seemingly regular convulsing. Mid 'working with the media' workshop, where a bunch of harried university types were furiously swatting and cramming all that can be crammed in 3 hours of training, honing up on writing press releases, the do's and donts of live interview and a role play of a press conference (dont you just love adult role play moments? (well actually it was rather hilarious and we all had a good time) i looked out the huge floor to ceiling window. Far above in the sky I spotted what looked to be small gliders, moving across the sky. Well they were gliders of a blooded type. Two pelicans were playing in the currents above the city skyline; up, down ,around, moving silently through the air. It was a moment of pure peace and delight. I revelled in all 10 seconds of it.
Food post coming soon!

Monday, November 30

A little bit of inspiration

If you're after some, check out Jessica Watsons blog, live from wherever she may be, sailing her way around the world in an attempt to be the youngest solo circumnavigator. I have to admit to being a little swayed by my own prejudice (none of it remotely rational, ick, but then that's prejudice...) and all the negative publicity following her notorious 'first day at sea' accident with a 52,000 tonne tanker -oops- in her pretty pink 34" (and dont we Aussies just love a tall poppy?), but really what better publicity? But after reading her blog, shes a pretty amazing level headed 16 year old who can pen a decent piece (whatever that may mean in this keyboard world). Good on her for following her dreams and believing in herself at such a bloody young age. For all the nay-saying, I never begrudged her the fact that she is out there doing something active, following her passions and believing in herself in such an amazingly self reliant way. Incredible. And I find the thought of setting sail on our planned world trip with five of us, daunting??? And thinking about MY 15 year old even suggesting such an adventure...pfft! Its a really interesting read to follow the thoughts of a 16 year old girl alone at sea and incredibly expansive to connect with another pace of life. While Im on the topic of new blogs, please send me your current favourite blog read. In the market for adding to my blog roll without all the surfing ( no T.I.M.E) as we all have blogger block I need to fill in the gaps people!

Sunday, November 29

We have a winner!

It kills me to only have one winner! You are all so deserving, but maybe this has given you the nudge to hop online and order one, they really are wonderful, life changing things, and there's not too many things this easily 'got' in our wild weird world you can say that about.
So, the randomly generated winner is....


Congratulations. There was only one 'Sarah' so you know who you are! I truly hope you will love using it and get many many years of stress free use from it. I will get the company to send it directly to your postal address.

I love what you're doing now, Mum

That was music to my ears. B1 has been droppping reference to our lifestyle and living passions for a few months now. Im not sure if its because she's getting older and seeing things through a different and more mature lense or if that having ramped up our committments to volunteer activities, having lots of things going on and people dropping by she is encouraged to speak out. Whatever its source, Im stoked. Happy dancing pleeeased! It has been my one source of insecurity as a mother; to not be respected and appreciated by my kids, so her independent thoughts on the matter are priceless. I have to admit her sentiments were brought on by a mouthful of gifted organic rasberries from The Gnomes, but her comment fed into a feeling Ive been carrying for months.

Im very content right now in life and I think I may have to partly thank the girls Dad for moving away as its allowed us all to settle down and find a common easy pace. Ive never been in this place before. I feel so alive. Busy as all hell but really really connected. Volunteering my time to help get another business up and running and starting up my own has really helped me appreciate and value myself and get out there amongst 'life'. Academic life in my department is very male dominated, tough and an often thankless and isolating grind. My boss has NEVER told me told Ive done a good job; "Thanks Kel, well done". Can you believe that, after 10 years??? Its staggering. Its just not in his nature and lots of us struggle with it. So working for free and having some skills that others are grateful to recieve and being appreciated is really nice and novel(?!) Im gaining confidence and doing more, putting myself out there and trying new things. So life is chock a block busy and despite having this thesis to complete, life is well rounded and vibrant and I never imagined Id be here! Im totally enjoying being a part of my community.

Saturday, November 28


Did a bit today, ho-um, but its Diva Cup Giveaway housekeeping thats driving this post. Tomorrow is the last day to enter, drawn PM sometime, if you're in the market for a totally sustainable, Green, reusable menstrual product that changes your life, I kid you not, read the testimonies then enter NOW or forever be doomed to buying product from the supermarkets! I think next time i might do a toothbrush giveaway, those things have just totally maxed out my blog referrals!

Friday, November 27

Haiku Friday

Oh Fark! it's Friday!
No pic, no words, no Haiku
was ready for you.

Thursday, November 26

I am mute

I have had not much to report about anything for, what?...2 and a half days now. How can it be? I've done stuff, the Bloke and the Beans have done stuff, I've been out, worked, cooked, shopped, socialised, loved and argued and nothin', absoloutely nothin' has leapt up , hypothetical arms waving , yelling "blog me, blog me" except for this complete lack of insight into the minutae of my existence. I think the sheer monotony of finishing the Thing is getting to me. Plod plod plod is what you'd hear if my brain was on its own speaking terms.

(thanks Annuska for the pic)

Monday, November 23

the bus

Im fully fledged now. The complete and total 'take the lunch and to-go coffee mug and bus to work' package person. Its taken a while to get to full capacity but I have finally taken 'The Last Step'. The symbol of priviledge in my little wee world; The Car Park Permit has been Handed Over. Relinquished. Forgone. I shocked myself in a really scary way at just how difficult it was to hand over this final trapping of priviledged car ownership. People kept telling me 'its a four year wait you know' like i was handing over some totaly religious thing, a coveted icon without which I would be condemned forever. It freaked me out. So I wasnt driving, but I had this relic, this pass that was costing me $1000 a year but not being used but held onto 'just in case'. It got handed in yesterday. Catching the bus has been a revelation. A freedom like I never expected. I expected to feel stuck and trapped at losing the so called 'independence' of a car to work. Instead I was rewarded with a sense of total relaxation and joy. So much that it too surprised me. I get home relaxed and refreshed ready to take on the dinner/bath/Mum shift. Im happy. Chilled. Its a meditation. Driving really is a complete pain in the ass. A stressful pain in the ass, an 'I've been duped into thinking its easier' pain in the ass. Cant recommend it highly enough. Especially as a harried parent. Its perfect. I get time out- I read or just stare out the window. I feel reconnected to community. I feel a bit like a teenager again when I step off, free and cruisy out in public. I feel surprisingly in control. I really cant recommend it highly enough. Ive been known to reject a lift home so as not to miss this special feeling. You?

Sunday, November 22

A giveaway

of a rather personal kind.
Its the chance for a bit of end of year recieving for you or your beloved. If you've been meaning to try a menstrual cup and havent quite got around to it yet, are sorta kinda interested but dont really want to 'risk' the investment, think its a great idea and you think you should try it or your partner might want to give it a go, now is your chance for a possible freebee! Its a Diva Cup giveaway just coz Im so enamoured with these incredible things and I want to share, not to mention the reduction in waste. The freedom of them I just cant really begin to describe No thoughts EVER about having tampons in the house, in your bag or in your purse. Imagine that. Never ever. No stress. Its like being a kid all over again. No more being dependent on a shop for your needs, especially if you're like me and really dont like pads and so home made lovelies are out of the question. No more remembering! All you need to do is make a comment on something relevant to your desire for one and I will draw a winner from all entries next week. I do ask that if you're already using one and want to enter, then the prize should be passed to someone who doesnt already own one. Relevant size i will only ask of the winner! Fire away readers, pass comment for the first time or the five hundredth.

Friday, November 20

officially *%#@! knackered.

so go check this out if you're interested in how bloggers get their food looking so good,
and this for a bit of lovely food with an Spanish illustrators twist (thanks Robert)
and this for the worst possible new food craze to sweep the planet , for soo many reasons.
Have a good weekend.

(PS. So @#&$! knackered I forgot it was Haiku Friday! B2 reminded me...minyana)

Thursday, November 19

OMG dill pickle!

Dunno about you, but for some reason I love a dill pickle. Trashy little numbers they are, the cheap, flirty end of the burger. Kind of like the bad end of town. B2 came home from four days at camp. She's a fermented, salty, weird-food loving kinda girl , besides the dead animal weird. I knew she'd love the idea of a huge earthernware crock full of pickle which I'd made while she was away. "Check these out". Wow, four days after being submerged in their spiced, vinegared brine they tasted awesome; crisp and crunchy with the dill and garlic already shining through and already they are that weird pickle colour. God knows what they'll be like in four weeks! Not a bad way to treat a cucumber. Welcome back Lily.

Wednesday, November 18

what does your week taste like?

Limes and Lycopene has an interesting post today which got me thinking. What does a week or two look like on the food front at Chez Pan? Thinking back over 7 days, what have we eaten...
Let me start with tonight and work my way back a week:

:: homegrown salad with tuna and local goat feta , herbs and a balsamic glaze .
:: biodynamic beef burgers on Brezel rolls with homemade tomato relish, homegrown salad and dijon (looking forward to my dill pickles being ready)
:: homemade tortilla with yoghurt-jalapeno guacamole, salad and organic grated cheese
:: locally made spinach ravioli with simple organic tomato sauce
:: herby stuffed mushrooms with salad.
:: homemade pizza with roasted pumpkin, garden greens, local olives and australian feta
:: local lamb chops / vege burger with homemade mint sauce and potato caper salad

So, according to Limes and Lycopene, Ive done the pasta, pizza and meat 'n' veg. How about you? I have to say Im pretty happy with that weeks meal offerings, more meat than I thought we'd had but B2 the vego has been away for 4 days on camp...which has been a complete bummer on the blogging pics front as I use her camera! I tried to tell her she couldnt take it...but then i felt really not a good mother to let her kid take her own stuff.
What has your week tasted like? Im gunning for some ideas!

Tuesday, November 17

Allottment blogging

I really love this concept, that a patchwork of the faces of kindred spirits can form a literary quilt of a garden plot; an allotment of ideas, of 'how does your garden grow' (with designated space for fanciful food ideas and a nod to fashion).
This is quite possibly my ideal story , a heavenly tale. It comes attached to a giveaway of unimaginable delight. Ms Flint, you're all style.

Write a post on your blog about an allotment garden
real or imagined
what would you plant in yours?
what will you wear whilst tending it?
when you pause for elevenses, what will you have?

Here goes.

I would start with a border, an edible border of course, something tall, private. Espaliered fruit trees, a peppercorn too, bay and definitely a quince or two and honeysuckle and jasmine winding to enclose the space, I love to garden alone with my thoughts. Hidden. A wooden gate is essential, with a huge old lock. Memories of The Secret Garden. Inside this fragrant and fruiting fence i would hedge the line with lavenders and rosemary, some roses too. Gravel paths would form curving frames for a riot of vegetables of heirloom sorts; pinks, purples, yellows, whites, reds, oranges and stripes and spots complement an array of greens. A heavenly rainbow of edible offerings. The dark, covered ground would hold blood red beets, purple and orange carrots and creamy white parsnips. Asparagus fronds would tempt, peas dangle from natures poles, beans sway, cukes climb, potatoes rest and an earthen pile in a corner is forked, its goodness taken to feed the soil and hold the drink, unwanted growth pulled. Hours pass. A seat piled with cushions under the peppercorn would beckon. A book too. Sit. Boots removed. Feet aired. Toes wiggled. Ahhh. My back creaks and i stand and stretch. Age. An old worn, riddled cotton tank and cut off jeans even feel too hot. Panama removed. Wet hair shaken. The beloved bloke had placed a tray. A gin, some lemon, ice cubes melt. Mint is picked. Pheasant pate, fresh butter and toasted sourdough. Fragrant tomato, green oil, giant basil and coarse black pepper float on buffalo mozarella. I sit, I eat, I look and listen. My book waits.

Monday, November 16

consuming passions

If i thought that one blog, one FaceBook and one Twitter account wasn't tricky enough to juggle amidst the chaos that is my life right now, I have taken it upon myself in the last fortnight to say 'Yes' to FoodConnect Adelaide's request that I take on 'marketing and communications' (a far more responsible and glamourous title than is required) (shit, well Im hoping it is as I never envisaged myself in the champahgne role) which has entailed blog creation and management and authorship responsibility, twitter activities and FaceBook administrator. I'm pretty excited at being invited to participate in the set up of Food Connect here in Adelaide ( a community supported agriculture venture) as its an organisation that I really believe in. Giving farmers a much better deal, cutting out the monolithic Stupormarkets and giving consumers back freshness and connection to produce they consume not to mention cheaper prices. Better get the FoodConnectAdelaide Blog looking spick and span quick smart. Sharing any interesting food politics, food security blogs, updates or links, particularly Aussie ones, you have stashed away in your elecronic files would be really appreciated too. In between The Thing, work and other stuff, researching up to date info on food politics and security is a huge task. Id love your help. Join us on Facebook (FoodConnect Adelaide). Wordpress learning curve about to explode. Blogging really can change you life, huh?

Saturday, November 14

Elderflower fizz

This is the easiest 'fizz' Ive ever made. Its the fizz that Hugh serves up a River Cottage HQ. Watching his wine making efforts we have often shouted at the screen..'that's not wine' that's beer' but its so much less time consuming than a complex wine, so Im giving it a shot. A solo Gnome dropped some fragrant, voluptuous elderflowers at our house this week, intended initially for elderflower fritters, but the weather..ohhh the weather! a record heat wave in spring is not conducive to fritters, so by Friday the flowers were really stressing me out; brought all this way and still sitting in the fridge, wilting a little, looking a tad less glorious and no end to the heat in sight. Whadddaya do?...make wine.

4 litres of hot water and 700g of dissolved sugar later, the elderflowers (about 13 heads) were bathing in a demi-john (a clean bucket will do) alongside the rind and juice of four lemons and 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar (the recipe called for white wine vinegar but we had none) and a 2 litre top-up of cold water. Too easy. This will sit for a few days, covered with muslin, then the yeast checked, (if not fermenting by then, a tablespoon of regular bakers yeast will be added) and eitherway, left to sit again for a few more before being strained and bottled up in swing top bottles. Easy huh? If you've got some elderflowers to hand give it a try, just be prepared for the potential explosions! Ive read that storing the fizz under a heavy cloth works a treat.

Friday, November 13

Wednesday, November 11

environmental dental

In Australia, over 30 million toothbrushes are used and disposed each year, amounting to approximately 1000 tonnes of landfill each year, so says the blurb. If this is correct, thats a lotta toothbrushes and thats just us! A young Aussie ex air force dentist has started producing a 100% biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, both bristle and handle which goes a step toward eliminating such waste. The environmental toothbrush tried to get made in Australia but a Chinese bamboo kitchen utensil company was the only company she could source that was willing and able to produce. 12 will cost you $33 dollars including postage and handling and international orders are welcomed. That price is pretty good i reckon considering top end brushes retail at around $6. I put my order in today. Its the first time the dental mag that I get each month with my dental organisation membership has come in useful!

Green homework proves tricky

One of the core topics at B1s progressive science based public high school for this year has been Sustainable Futures. pretty self explanatory really; they cover all things Green from a multitude of perspectives. She's enjoyed it, especially their mock Earth Summit, run by the kids for a whole day, complete with world leaders, environmental advisers, water jugs on tables, UN chief and delegates and messenger runners between delegate tables. It was the highlight of her school year. On the downside was her major project on sustainable homes. The assumption behind this project was that your home was not set up or managed sustainably. B1 struggled constatntly... 'umm, excuse me sir, we have solar hot water heating, we already harvest our rain water into large water tanks, we do grow our own fruit and vegetables, we have composting and recycling systems, we have PV solar to generate power, we do use wind generated electricity when we need to, our house is passive solar designed, we dont have aircon and heating systems' get the picture. B1 was a complete headache for her teacher! Funniest part was he gave up and said well take your Grandmas house and use it to model your projections...

Hopefully one day its her whole class proving a headache...

Monday, November 9

eco-dyeing workshop with India Flint

What a glorious day it was! A whole day to learn something new, be creative and FINISH a project. What more can you ask of a workshop?

Toss in a bunch of lovely women in a stunning location and a charismatic and thorougly knowledgeable teacher (not to mention her lovely silver teapot and a pair of scissors that transported me back to childhood with their unmistakable sturdy slicing sound when put to work on a piece of fabric) and you've got a day well worth it and then some. We started with a silk sampler which turned out lovely especially when viewed all together.

Throughout the day we collected windfall for dyeing, we scratched, we pulled, we cut, we rolled, we placed, we talked, we washed, we stuffed, we stitched, we tossed, we ate, we wrapped and we beat, we washed again. We boiled. We cut.

Silk gauze was interned with embellishments of raw sheep wool, silk thread, silk organza and and silk velvet.

Simply luxurious stuff, all topped off with woollen prefelt then rolled, washed, scrubbed and had the living daylights beaten out of it until felting occourred or your back gave way. This was then sliced to one continuous sliver and bound on a stick; windfall leaves and petals from the garden were included in the bind along with some rusted metals found by the Bloke on a camping trip to the Murray.
The wrapped fabric was bound tight with cord and immersed in a bath of boiling bark tea.

The excitement we all felt at unravelling our creations, well you'll have to take my word for it, my camera died at that point. This detail below is my favourite, its muted and soft and the impression print is a frond from a pine
The piece is soft and pretty and the colours and impressions are really lovely and offerred up by nature. Im looking forward to experimenting some more.

The Bloke in his usual style declared it a masterpiece resembling a fur ball but like me, appreciates the details. Such a simple and honest transformation. I love it.

Sunday, November 8

green knickers

We went to the local Greens-party fundraising dinner last night. Great food (pesto and goats cheese bruschetta, thai chicken curry and pistachio and rose 'cake', (strange combo in hindsight but it worked) great location (Macrocarpa wholefoods in Mt Barker) and great music (la vien rose with a twist). I have to say Im a sucker for sitting in a gourmet whole foods shop for hours being wined and dined; fantastic opportunity to peruse the aisles of bio-dynamic dried beans, fermented soy waters made by the bare feet of eunichs and various types of all claiming to be 'the best salt in the world'. Interestingly, and quite unexpectedly, I came home with a new pair of knickers! Green knickers. If you want some, lemme know. $15 bucks a pop, made in Oz and all proceeds go to the local Greens. They're sage green and black cotton spandex blend )Im normally an all cotton girl but these were just so cool) but this awful nighttime pic on my bedside table of this pair of pristine duds doesnt do them justice. Dont you love that about blogging? you get to know about my new knickers!

Saturday, November 7

fantastic edible foods database

this site Plants for a Future - edible, medicinal and useful plants for a healthier world is an absoloute treasure trove of information. An incredibly user friendly and yet incredibly comprehenisve site. Add it to your lists. Its a great reference for foraging foods in your own garden and your neighbourhood. Seriously, really, go have a look, type in a plant and viola; its edibility rating, how its consumed, its other uses, its preferred environmental conditions. Its a gem. really. truly.

Thursday, November 5

No.1 kitchen implement

This is it. This is why I wanted, needed to go to the royal show this year. Its the only place I know to get them. I bought my first one about 10 years ago from one of those stalls with the big bloke who's all miked up and peeling hundreds of vegetables in like five seconds, even tomatoes (who even peels tomatoes?) and who you just know never cooks at home but he's there flogging these magical things, the eighth wonder of the modern world. (digress) But it dissappearred one day,i think it got chucked by accident, into the compost or the landfill bucket or maybe someone nicked it coz theyre sooo good. But I never found it and had to wait five long months until the show rolled into town. Its a tungsten blade multi-purpose mainly pumpkin peeler. If you need to remove pumpkin skin, its magic, totally stress free, ergonomic peeling magic. But it really comes into its own for these...parsnip chips, oiled up and baked, my favoured way to eat parsnip. One parsnip stripped into shreds in under a minute. So delicious that once again I didnt take a pic of the crispy end product.
Favoured kitchen implements. Discuss.

Wednesday, November 4

Ten things that piss me off about being Green

1. Crusts of bread hanging around for quite a while waiting to be smashed into breadcrumbs

2. Catching the bus to work in the dark, cold mornings in the dead of winter

3. Planning. Endless planning and organising to ensure efficient living on all levels. Sometimes I just want my brain to stop, it all to stop and hop off for a while!

4. The research and time that goes into any purchase. Sometime I just wanna 'grab' something!

5. Having to walk past the stinky and sloppy imported French cheese mountains at the markets

6. Everyone in the family having a good excuse when I get cranky at all the dishes thy have left piling up until enough are there to make a wash-up justifiable (i think this is my no.1 !)and knowing Im not going to have a comeback to this water saving argument

7. Always being the bad guy and endlessly reminding children to 'turn it off!' Besides which it just reminds me of my mother...

8. Wanting sometimes to just splurge to 'show my love' but pulling back in the name of less stuff and not necessary. Again, it reminds me of my mother...

9. That if I dont eat or organise the leftovers, they may get left in the fridge for a while

10. Coming home from work and making pita bread, tortilla or pizza dough coz all that plastic packaging really pisses me off

Small 'personal is political' potatoes I know, but I didnt even get started on the volunteer and activism work that gets done around here...

What pisses you off about Green living?

Tuesday, November 3

An inspirational Sunday in the church of food

Last Sundays FoodConnect workshop in Adelaide was fantastic, The Mad Gnomes kindly picked me up on the way. My tired brain may not do it justice but I'll give you some emotions and basic reflections that are sitting pretty close to the surface. The afternoon was;

:: informative. It clarified what the non-profit CSA organisation is all about and how we, the consumer and interested and supportive city based community can help to get it up and running. It also re-defined the concept of 'producer'/farmer as besides playing trade with commercial producers, FoodConnect will also take your home grown glut and pay for it, you just need to call them and let them know! No producer to small. Incredible. Connecting. Obvious. Fantstic. Cost comparisons were also given, the takehome message being that prices fluctuate but on average you pay 20% less to equivalent to supermarket prices!! Irresistable huh? The deals provided for farmers outstanding, fair and just. I saw one dairy farmer gasp! New business/economic models in action.

:: community building. I can't tell you how exciting it was to be amongst a group of farmers who also want to step out of the modern food production and distribution system and to sit with other dedicated consumers/supporters of such change. I seriously wanted to jump up at one point, tears flowing and say thank you to everyone for caring about this and for DOING something about it and WHAT MORE CAN I DO TO HELP IT SUCCEED ?( no, Im not premenstrual nor pregnant and I hadnt 'had a few' either) Weird. Meet the farmer trips are planned periodically for 'city cousins' and consumers. Feedback is that everyone involved LOVES these.

:: expansive. I must confess to being worried that a SA based system like this may have found its environmental climate a bit tough for the restricions on producers placed by the FoodConnect boundaries for producers (loca rules). Not to worry. The bounty the farmers had listed ( 60-80% anticipated organic) was extensive and went beyond my wildest dreams. A cornucopia of fabulousnes in a fruit, veg and dairy box; a foodies dream. Those CSA boxes are shaping up to put home gardening out of business.

:: clarifying. the role of the 'city cousin' was defined. City cousins form the drop of point for regional/local distribution (essentially making them 'the loca shop' without any cash changing hands) where customers can pick up their boxes at a designated time and day. Involvement in socialising optional (you dont even have to be home) but for me this is an exciting part of being a 'city cousin' is the networks and community building it offers with likeminded local people. 'City cousins' also get good discounts on produce, so if you need an incentive, this may be it. 15-20 customers per cousin seemed about the norm. Very managable in terms of storing boxes and traffic. If you're interested in being a 'city cousin' its not to late. Check out the Food Connect Adelaide website and fill in an expression of interest form.

:: Food Connect Adelaide is anticipated to launch in the early new year of 2010. The Adelaide group are inspiring and have done an incredible job. Im very appreciative we have people like this around.

Get involved. Food Connect Adelaide needs people like you and me to help it succeed!

Monday, November 2

making black tea from your camellia japonica

Camellia sinensis is the common 'tea' camellia but we dont have any of those, we have japonica and sasanquas. Why cant these be used to make tea? What is it that makes its cousin sinensis the favoured leaf? Lots of searching around the web was not very forthcoming but Mansfields Encyclopedia of Agrcultural and Horticultural Crops offerered the few words i had been wanting to read... camellia japonica can be used as a tea substitute (and tobacco)! We couldn't really undersand why japonicas and sasanquas werent used for tea making and the literature is not full of loud warnings to avoid them due to being harmful nor why sinensis had been the favoured tea choice. So we concluded that sinesis was favoured as a tea crop as it is a more prolific bearer of tips during season and puts its energy into leaves and not pretty flower production. We did find information on tea seed oil or Camelia seed oil made from Japonica. Apparently in China and Japan it has many common uses; frying, salads, dipping sauce, and it has a high smoke point and a sweet flavor. Dried camellia flowers are also be used as a vegetable. Hmmmm, trying to think of a tasty how? Interesting.

Camellia shrubs are everywhere here in the Adelaide hills where the regional climate provides perfect camellia growing conditions; slighty acidic soil and cooler air temperatures. Urban foraging for your own tea leaves is a very viable idea, particularly as they rarely get sprayed for pest and disease control.

A 'spear and two flags' is how you tip prune a camellia for tea; three leaves a pinch. Our twenty rather well 'Sprung' Camellia bushes provided two bowls of prunings, but over time with more tip pruning it will produce more tips more frequently, also catching the spring flush of new growth may have helped as most had opened and grown.
It was a beautiful feeling to finger prune the tips, they were snappy and waxy and fresh between the fingers. After we'd collected what was available we sat and rubbed the leaves in our palms.
They crumbled surprisingly easily despite being so fresh and each batch required about three rubbings to generate a leaf matter the size required.
At this point we lay the crumbled leaf on a tray and removed the stems.

We left the crumbled leaves for 2 days in a dark cool spot to dry; the pantry and could have done three and tossed them around periodically. This proces of air drying essentially oxoidises the leaves and begins a fermentation The leaf bits turned brown and looked rather awful which is what is supposed to happen.

We then oven dried the fermented matter for about 20 minutes in a low oven.
Then we had a cup of tea.
The verdict? A little shallow in flavour but aromatic and it smells just like black tea! Low tanin. Whoopee! We think maybe a little longer to ferment, an extra day and a little more roasting may bring out some more flavour but we will certainly be experimenting with home grown organic japonica tea to keep us in our habit. Depth of flavour may be why sinensis is the tea choice but some further experimentation with ferment and drying times will tell us for sure. Two big bowls of fresh leaves made about a half a cup of dried leaves! Cheaper to use the japonicas than buying enough sinensis to meet our needs and waiting thet 3 year growing period! Im amazed at how cheap bought tea is! and now I understand 'hand rubbed' as a feature of swanky tea.

***morning after update: We reckon this tea is pretty high in caffeine content and its relaxant properties as we felt very chilled but couldnt sleep. A day brew only perhaps.

Sunday, November 1

THIS is what I love about Spring

The flowering ornamental Crabapple (Sp. malus) which sits just outside our main living area provides us with not only shade in the summer months but the most glorious display for a week or two at this time of the year. Its' abundant, decadent beauty is like a huge natural vase of David Austin roses. It honestly takes my breath away and in the two weeks of spectacle each year, I take time each morning to sit with a coffee, sometimes just half a minute, sometime ten, to marvel at its sheer natural and groaning floral glory.

Its a complete riot of petals.

Saturday, October 31

sweet beetroot pillows

or marshmallows! Made for the bonfire burning at The Mad Gnomes. I'm not really a sweet loving person, my buds tending toward the savoury and if it is sweet, then i like it not very. So marshmallows, being, well pure sugar with some egg white, aren't really my cup of tea. I mostly made them for the kids, to show them the difference between mass produced stuff you get from the shops and home made (not that I'd ever tried a home made marshmallow before, but I just went ahead, used experience, and assumed!) Funny thing was, there were no kids at home to a) help and watch and b) to try the damn things! but I like doing stuff I haven't done before so it was in interesting experience, learning the nature of hot sugar syrup and egg white and whipping. The recipe is courtesy of River Cottages' Mr. Whittingstall.


• 1-2 tbsp icing sugar
• 1-2 tbsp cornflour
• A little vegetable oil for oiling the tin and knife
• 1 small, raw, peeled beetroot
• 25g gelatine powder (about 2 sachets, but check the packet)
• 500g granulated sugar
• 2 egg whites


1. Sift the icing sugar and cornflour together into a small bowl.
2. Rub a shallow cake tin of about 20x20cm with a few drops of vegetable oil and shake a little of the icing sugar mixture around the tin to coat the base and sides.
3. Grate the beetroot into a small bowl and pour over 125ml of nearly boiling water and leave to infuse for 30 seconds. Strain the pink, nearly boiling water into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatine on top. Stir until all of the gelatine has dissolved.
4. Put the sugar into a medium-sized saucepan with 250ml of water. Warm over a low heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved, then place a sugar thermometer in the pan and raise the heat, allowing the mixture to boil fiercely without stirring until the thermometer reads 122C. Remove from the heat and pour the beetroot/gelatine mixture into the hot sugar syrup, stirring until everything is well blended.

5. Pour the egg whites into the large bowl of a mixer and beat until stiff. With the mixer going at a low speed, slowly pour in the sugar mixture in a steady, gentle trickle. After you’ve added all of the syrup, leave the machine to carry on beating until the mixture turns really thick and bulky but is still pourable – when you lift up the beater, it should leave a ribbon trail of the mixture on the surface which takes a few seconds to sink back down into the mix.
6. Pour the marshmallow into the prepared tin. Leave to set in a cool place (do not refrigerate) for an hour or two.
7. Dust a chopping board with the rest of the cornflour and icing sugar mixture. Coat a knife with a little oil. Carefully ease the marshmallow out of the tin onto the board, helping it out where necessary with the knife.

Make sure all of the surfaces of the marshmallow are entirely dusted with the icing sugar mixture. Cut the marshmallows into squares, oiling and dusting the knife as needed. Store in an airtight tin lined with baking parchment.

Sticky, uber-soft, fluffy, rubbery buggers they are. No way they'd stay on a stick for toasting. More like a quick pick up and toss in the mouth before you either squash it completely or it drips through your fingers. They are incredibly,FANTASTICALLY ...flubbery ! They taste like, umm, sugar with a touch of earth.

*B2's verdict upon return: they taste like weeds! S'mores here we come!