Saturday, February 28

how well do you know your fruit and veg? (amended with answers)

Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?

What fruit has its seeds on the outside?

Name the only vegetable or fruit that is generally never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh. ( i can think of one exception but its french style so that may explain it!)

Have fun!

well just how excellent are you guys!
I have the 'listed' answers but i wanted to check them myself before blindly declaring them... turns out you are all fabulous and there are three common, not two perennial vegetables and you got them all; artichoke, asparagus and rhubarb ( a vegetable not a fruit). Other uncommon perennials are sea kale ( who said that? Lizzie?) and sorrell.

Strawberries have their seeds on the outside, well done wombat.

And the listed edible never sold anyway other than fresh is lettuce, although you can buy it in a restaurant as the dish RINI suggested; more peas than lettuce thankfully but delish. Wombok i have seen pickled and for sale in jars, barbara i believe medlars are sold as a jelly or jam and veggie, was banana your answer to all three??

shocking realisation

I flopped on the couch last night after dinner with great relief. My brain had just hit its computational limits. After the rush of Thursdays excitement, Friday was spent dealing with the reality that is the death throes of preparting a thesis for submission. My brain actually hurt...forging a straight line from a web is no mean feat. So i crashed on the couch at half 8 with a glass of wine , probably groaning out loud with relief. I was very not happy when half an hour later i checked the diary... fuck.

Montessori Cake stall; Sat 10-12 (2 batches of goods promised)
[insert mental expletive; to tired to express it]
So i drag my suitable for outside clothes back on (well, my bra and skirt) hop in the car at 9pm, drive to an open shop and get the stuff we dont have, race back, put the oven on and cook up a batch of biscuits and a slice. Not what i was hoping to be doing last night at 10pm and today is certainly not going to see the brunch we had planned for this morning with the whole family. I dont do those rude shocks very well but i have to say I was proud of the lack of whinging and self pity that i managed to control. I figured it could have been worse; it could have been a hard core school working bee or school camp i'd agreed to attend this morning. So, im off in an hour to 'woman' the stall.

Friday, February 27

a conversation with my prof

is never something i really look forward too. He is such a miser with the positive feedback ( like one in my 10 years at work) that i always figure a conversation with him is going to land me somewhere im not really happy being. So just start to imagine how bloody good i felt yesterday afternoon (after a run no less, so i was feelin pretty pleased with my self anyway for dragging my butt out the door in 40 degree heat instead of lunch with a colleague,) when i walked out of his office with...

a) a swanky new office of my choice, including the one with couch (lol, very coveted in our department) just vacated by exiting naughty other prof. Think Im gonna take the one next door though.

b) a promotion

c) academic control over a entire MOU work program involving 5 independent research projects and support staff

d) 4 more guilt free months on salary to finish up The Thing.

Im pretty stoked. It was a good day.

Thursday, February 26

top ten

I go to bookclub once a month. We're an eclectic bunch of women, a motley crue; an ex nun, a dentist, moi, a psychologist, an architecht, a retired internatinal studies lecturer and a stay home mum; we're aussies, were kiwis, were spanish. 'We' used to be mainly americans. That was interesting. Membership is by word of mouth and then consensus when an old member moves on. We have been meeting for four years. We're not a traditional bookclub; we have no set books to read. We're more like a mobile library... with recommendations. Each month we all bring along a book or two (and food) and we take turns to introduce our new books by review and we review books borrowed from last month. All get entered into the 'stash'. Whoever hosts the next month takes the stash (quite a few big bags)and provides the wine. Its a great, informal stress free bookclub. We have even invited some authors to attend and review their book - the last one was Knitting author Anne Bartlett, who lives locally. So for those who are interested, here's my bookclub Top Ten.

*Four Fires - Bryce Courtney ( dont like any of his others but this is brilliant)

*Cathedral of the Sea - Ildefonso Falcone

*The Other Boleyn Girl - Phillipa Gregory

*Q&A - Vikas Swarup ( the movie slumdog millionaire based on this book)

*A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( possibly my no.1)

*A spy in the house of love - Anais Nin

*Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett ( unlike any other Ken follett book - not a mystery but historical fiction)

* Middlesex - Jeffery Eugenides (possibly my No.2)

*Keeping Faith - Jodi Picoult

* The Pursuit of Happiness - Douglas Kennedy (no.3)

*eat pray love is a stand by top ten!
Is one of your top ten in my list?

Wednesday, February 25

organised chaos

thats my life. but not so organised that ive written a post. I usually try and write a post at night, with a glass of wine after the chaos of the day and general after school hubub and dinner and bedtime routine has subsided and ive got a quiet hour or two. I schedule it to publish the following morning; thats my general bloggy plan of attack. If i havent written a post the night before, then on days when im home its no problem as i use the beans morning sleep time to write, and usually ive used the evening before and my lying in bed time to think about whats on my mind and what i might like to post about. This morning, ive got no post and no time; Im at work. I need to run in my lunch hour so cant use that time to construct something and ive got some interesting stuuff from the last few days to post about, but they need some fine tuning time. So this is it! my post of the day. Squeezed in between turning my pc on and dashing downstairs with my cup to get a coffee. Ive still got my bag slung over my shoulder,i havent taken it off from the walk to work. So have a great day and hopefully tomorrows post will be more insightful!

Tuesday, February 24

that was close

i think i made it out, fully recovered and grounded. I dont know why i did it, how even. Phew! gotta be more careful. I just followed one link and then another, and then i got sucked into the narcissistic picture perfect vortex that is the uber fabulous US mommy/foodie/crafty/photography/syndicated book blogger. These women make life seem like one huge bonbonierrie...

4 kids under 5, one with special needs, husband who's never home but we're sooo in love (childhood sweethearts) our church is everything, our friends are fabulous, i can write, i can cook, i can craft, life is a box of chocolates.
Is this real? I felt lied to, cheated, maybe a little decieved. It all just looks so picture perfect gorgeous ( if you're in to that kind of gorgeous) and there's no mention of doubt, introspection, current world climate or even just a little bit of kid vomit, well maybe some mention, but its modern martha stewart styled vomit, not regular low down stinky carrot vomit, wiped up with a retro napkin from a un-matching set of 6 that dont go with the curtains off a kid sporting same retro napkin as head scarfe. I came out gasping for air and an unedited photo.

I got totally sucked in with the those muted pics...white background...over exposure..anyone else had this near death experience or is it me?

Am i just being a grumpy, judgemental bitch?

Sunday, February 22

from seed to seed

finally...a gardening post. i have been 'preparing' the garden beds for a few weeks, clearing out all the old veges, turning the soil, planning the plantings and getting the compost finished and sieved. When you have limited space you have to be clever how you plant. In between kids and work, snatching good time to move enough compost to regenerate old beds and prepare them well enough for seed sowing has been tricky. Yesterday my lovely bloke and I managed a pretty good day outside, getting both top and bottom beds ready for winter planting, leaving behind the still productive plantings.
We tag teamed it with bean duties inbetween time for him hanging in his jumping contraption under the apple tree; its quite sweet as he has worn a bare patch with his feet into the earth from many half hour sessions. I'd made things more of a challenge for myself this year by resolving to try and do all our veges from seed. Id kept some seed from last seasons crops ( carrots, beans, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage) but id also had some new seeds arrive from Eden. Yesterday i sowed carrots, parsnip, beetroot, bintje potatoes, beans, chives, kale, rainbow chard, sweet pea and climbing peas, wild rocket(aragula), garlic, with more to sow in March.
According to the guide, its a waning moon and 4 days off being full. I figured thats close enough and besides, i had a free day! I always look forward to the beginning of a new planting season. Everythings looks so full of potential, neat and free of weeds or straggling bits and rows are ordered and crisp. I love the reward of sowing seeds after so much preparation and I love the anticipation and the wait for the first sign of them emerging from the soil, that lovely sense of timelessness when Im out watering, ambling and looking closely for that first sprig of green.

So i have to be vigilant over the next few weeks, watering every morning so they never dry out, get stressed and D.I.E, keeping the slugs n friends at bay and the damn cat out. Should be a challenge.

I'm really looking forward to the kale, did i say kale?

Saturday, February 21

what mummy guilt looks like (this morning)

Im one month back at work and trying out this 'new to me' experiment that is 'The Bread Winner' (well, the go somewhere and actually do some work bread winner. Simon does earn bread, but its passive,; otherwise known as Capitalist Bastard in in my undergraduate lingo. Im think im doing pretty well, it is only 3 days a week after all. The hardest part is not getting up early, its not the school drop offs on the way to work, its not the work either. Its the getting home and not behaving like a paternalistic, chauvinistic 'what have you done with your day' bitch. Its really interesting and frustrating, and challenging and confronting being on this side of the fence after having grazed the pastures of the stay home mum off and on for a few years. The things i have issues with shock me; i mean when did i start to get all judgemental and prescriptive about having dinner ready, toys tidied and bathrooms clean? Its weird how expectations change. I know how time consuming babies are and if Im honest, i think if spent as much time as Si does on the floor playing with the bean, instead of concerning myself with the keeping a tidy house...maybe Im feeling resentful? Im not actually at the point of not wanting to go to work and be at home looking after the bean instead, hell no. I think its just this new way of doing things is confronting my habits, an old record i never knew i had is still playing away in the background. Im shocked at this archaic, quiet inner rustle of judgement that i didnt know i had, that works its way through my reason, about how it should be.

I think the stress of finishing my dissertation has finally come home to roost, Im in that final stage of getting it ready. Im turning inward, wanting to get cranky, and controlling and am not behaving in a very inclusive manner. Its all so internally intense. Im working hard to not let it loose on anyone. Im struggling to keep my congitive process in charge of my bear brain and to just continue to talk and negotiate our way through the quagmire that is responsibility.

So in our house, mummy guilt this weekend looks like bananna and maple waffles and Yahtzee.

Friday, February 20

Haiku Friday

i found her, there! two
degrees of seperation
across three nations

Thursday, February 19

a long lunch

We used to belong to our local SLOW food convivium. It was full of locals with a passion for growing food, eating food, talking about food and making wine. Definitely in principle my kind of group. So why did we stop participating? I think life got busy and as it was a group that simon and his late wife belonged to before i came on the scene, possibly without my 100% enthusiasm it got too hard, Ive never really asked him his thoughts on why it fizzled out. Many in the group were retired and I felt that i just didnt have that much in common with everyone to make it an easy get together; particularly with the 'other' woman and the 'younger' woman mantle that i felt i was carrying. Those early days were hard. Forging ahead with a open face and measured words, head first into everyone elses expectations of just who this woman replacing their dceased friend could be. I spent months of our early relationship searching online for some support. No peers of mine had ever been divorced let alone started a relationship with a widow. So i think all the stress of being in the 'old group fishbowl' coupled with my own new divorce, two young kids and a career just kickstarting, plus being newly in love, we didnt have time for a full day of slow food !

One thing i did however take away from these gatherings was the concept of the Long Lunch. Its a great idea and one i think thats a fantastic focus for a meal with friends. The idea is to get everyone to bring a food contribution to share. The rules are that whatever you bring, the ingredients used must be local, seasonal and made in its entireity by each guest. You can distribute the responsibilities; some bring drinks, some do bread, some bring savoury, some do sweet, some do appetisers/canapes/whatever word you want to use for those really nice nibbles that you just want to stand next to for a little while longer than is socially acceptable (or is that just me? - (memories of the lemon and olive oil draped homemade warm haloumi wafting past). Its a neat way to bring the ideas of SLOW sustainable eating to the fore and possibly to share these concepts, in hopefully a really inclusive way or at leats a tasty way, with others who may not be so interested in the principles of sustainable living. Just dont stress out the guests too much.

So, I bet you can guess the bloggy lunch basics...

Wednesday, February 18

ladies and gentleman, we have a winner!

drum roll please...

[insert suspense]

B2 draws a name!

CONGRATULATIONS! I look forward to creating something special, made with all the things you love. It was wonderful serendipidity that you included more than 2 of your favourite things. It gives me so much more to work with.

Melinda, Katrine and Aztec-rose and Alex, nice to meet you! And thank you innercitygarden, rixa, karin, restisnotidleness, barbara, julie, veggie gnome, elburro, greening of gavin, kale for sale, jen, annuska and notes from the frugal trenches for playing. I will definitely be doing more of this sometime soon; I cant bear the thought of Veggie and elburro not winning anything again. It's also inspired me to have a bloggy lunch for all those who are interested??? stay tuned, and if and when Im passing by your neck of the woods, i will definitely drop by anyway and cook you lunch!

Laura jane, i will be in touch to get your postal details!

Tuesday, February 17

Happy Anniversary 17.02.07

We've been married two years today. It was, i have to say, the best wedding I've ever been too! LOL. Warm weather, friends and family, great food, great fizz, great music and great lighting; our garden looked like magic. It was a really wonderful night. By all accounts it was a 'responsible' wedding; electronic invites, loca vore catering, no waste, no flowers, homemade clothing or at least reusable, charitable donations for a well in Africa, wedding rings from recycled jewellery (and teeth- eek! weird)but the best part was the love and the fun on the night. Yesterday when we were preparing dinner and talking about the time that had passed, Simon said "its been a fun couple of years" and i had to agree, its been bloody wonderful. It was interesting though as my first reaction was to balk and says to the ever present guilt monkey on my back "hey, you're not supposed to think life is fun like that, you're a mum, you're a professional, you're your mothers daughter, fun doesnt enter into it". But i have learnt in the last few years that IT BLOODY WELL DOES! and here's cheers to a lifetime more of it.
Thanks for always reminding me Si that life may be full of necessary things but there is always room for fun. So yesterday i made a gift for my lovely man, a declaration of love filled with symbols from our past together. It was so enjoyable to spend part of the day being creative; getting out of my head and into my heart and fishing around the house for bits and pieces to use. I hope he loves it. Happy Anniversary Moo.

Monday, February 16

there's a diva in the house

B2 loves all things theatrical and dance is no exception. She often spontaneously bursts into finger snapping, hip thrusting cha cha cha moments when you least expect it- like in the middle of a converstion. She is also rather fond of dramatic monologues with the bathroom mirror. Probably with a little cha cha thrown in, but i dont stick around too long for that. Theres only so much lovin i can take. She loves to watch 'So you think you can dance?', a TV dance competition and last night she had something to say, something very important to convey about the host, who is not only beautiful to look at in the very classsical sense, but a talented singer in a very successful a rock band. B2 said to me "you know whats different about her mum?, thats so different from all the other women who do these jobs on TV?" I preempted her answer, and thought to myself, great, shes switched on, making an observation about multitalented women. "You mean she's succesful in another area of life? and not just the pretty face?" i offerred.

B2 " No, shes got good knees"

Sunday, February 15

another 5 minute bread convert

I havent done a food post for a while (or a gardening post for that matter)...not too much going on in the garden of late; the is corn maturing, the tomatoes are teasing me with their 'not quite readyness', the beetroot is finishing up and im letting a few go for seeds, the last cabbages are standing, the basil prolific, the beans are going for second flush as are the lemons, some oranges and mandarins are edible and we're harvesting a huge bowl of apples daily; the drying rack and Vacola are about to get a workout. Im focussed on getting the beds ready for the next round of planting and their second season. This was the first growing season for these new patches, and it exposed what needs doing differently; better attention to irrgation to compensate the slight slope and which parts lose moisture quickest.

Back to the food post. After hearing so much about this book, i bit the bullet a few weeks back and ordered it, as the breadmaker has gone back to school. Most weekends she's got just no time for breadmaking. So bread can get a bit hit and miss around here now, but I still havent resorted to anything wrapped in plastic-its been months now. So i whipped up the inaugural batch of dough this morning. Like the title says, its ready in five. Its quite incredible. After the initial investment of about 10 minutes of actual work (2 hour minimum of cumulative time, most of it waiting), its ready to go.

The idea is to get the bulk batch ready and just pull it out of the fridge, chop off what you need, shape it up and bake it. Dead easy. That pretty much sums it up, and the texture and flavour... Wow! *who needs a bread oven* she says tearing out her hair. Look at those chewy holes! The book promises your loaves will emerge from baking with that lovely artisan crust and even my shitty oven, which leaks heat, managed it. Yippeee! Cant wait to try the rye and wholewheat. White bread is nice every so often, but when i crave bread, its the heavy stuff. Sorry kids.
Next dilemma after they came out of the oven was to find a something other than cheese to top it off ... a look in the fridge declared itself. Beetroot dip. I used up leftover cooked beets, a spoonful or two of cashew butter, a hunk of parmasaen, a clove of garlic, some olive oil and juice from a lemon. Magic.

So while the oven was still hot from baking, despite the leaks, and as we had friends coming over, i made an apple streusel cake for afternoon tea, which used all of about 8 apples (double the recipes suggestion) and a baby leek and feta galette for dinner (im thinkng galette is just a posh term for a long thin quiche?) - looks like muck in the pic, tasted great. Im very ready to stop and sit with a cold glass of wine.

Does anyone have any feedback or have done anything interesting with this basic Boule recipe?

Friday, February 13

Friday Haiku

lost in the moment,
i look, turn, feel, read the need
of my world around

Thursday, February 12

Now I have a dilemma

Geez, I should have known better than to have a giveaway. There are so many varied responses about which giveaways interested people, i just want to make you ALL winners and end the drought for some! I'm so happy to 'meet' some more readers and I do hope to hear from you more often; its the reward for writing. Building community in any way is such a great thing and its so nice to know who is reading your blog. So thanks for stepping up to the challenge, we all have our reasons for privacy so I really appreciate it.

And for all of you who I 'know well' through Blogville, thanks for giving me just a little more insight into who you are and all your kind and generous affirmations (sounds a bit like an awards acceptance speech -eek). Im really looking to forward to posting/ making/ gathering/ hosting and Im excited to know which it will be. I will do the usual trick of names, paper and hats and let you know next week, enough time just in case some more 'lurkers' want to come out to play!


true compassion

CFA firefighter Mr Tree said he was in the middle of backburning at Mirboo North when he saw the stricken koala.
"I could see she had sore feet and was in trouble, so I pulled over the fire truck. She just plonked herself down, as if to say 'I'm beat'," he said. "I offered her a drink and she drank three bottles.

"The most amazing part was when she grabbed my hand. I will never forget that."

image by Mark Pardew

Wednesday, February 11

giveaway madness, like reefer madness but better (would taurus rising readers please stand up)

With the horrific events of the last few days Ive been a little down, depressed even. Im a little surprised at just how the tragic losses have affected me. So in the spirit of celebrating life and the unbelievable generosity of the Australian public; 10 31 millions bucks in just 23 days (and the number rising by the hour) from a country with a population of just 21 million, I want to give something too, beyond the fires, so Im having my first ever give away. Of what?...well of that Im not sure, i thought id leave it up to you! you have a choice of...

1) 2 lovingly knitted organic washcloths, made just for you!

2) A bottle of homemade, Gold medal winning, organic quince or plum wine; or verjus (Aussies only i think, but if you have your heart set on it i can investigate further for you the legalities of sending unknown proof alcohol O/S).

3) A pre loved book from my top 10 collection - probably Four Fires by Bryce Courtney (a truly magnificent Aussie epic, his only book I've ever liked)

4) Peter Bennets 'Organic Gardening' book for Australia and New Zealand or Barbara Kingsolver "Animal, Vegetable. Miracle'.

5) Artwork by Moi- potluck, but i guarantee it should be interesting and let me know 2 of your favourite things.

6) A collection of heirloom seeds, all still very viable (<12 mths old); cucumber, lettuce mix, tomato mix (about 6 varietals), zucchini, beans, peas, carrots, beetroots, rocket, corn, coriander, rainbow chard, parsnip, cabbage, kale and probably a few more.

7) An AU$30 donation to a charity of your choice made out in your name, receipt provided.

8) Loca vore lunch made by me at my place (or at your place if Im passing)

All you have to do is just tell me which one you're interested in and WHY! and YES, this is also a really transparent way to get to know the lurkers amongst you. I want to know who you are and those i know, i want to say thanks for reading! So, get spirited, get brave, post me, tell me what you want and i will draw one, maybe two, winners at random (im a statistician so trust me). I will let you know the winner in 7 days time. Thats it. Post away lovely blog readers.

Tuesday, February 10

cutting the crap

I was telling Kale for Sale last week that i had begun fishing through the rubbish bins at work. Yikes. Ive become a bin lady. Seeing the stuff that gets tossed; food scraps, tuna tins, pot o soup bowls and tetra milk cartons is getting my knickers quite twisted but it wasnt until Thurdsay that i started really fishing around in there. Enough was enough. My duds had seriously twisted and then caught fire! It reminded me of when i was a kid, travelling in a car on the Sydney Harbour Bridge with my best friend and her parents and they stopped to pick up a discarded Coke can. Stopping on the bridge is no mean feat but this was a full on recycling mum who rode around on a bike with a roof slate and chalk tied to the handlebars of her bike for her shopping list! I was pretty embarrassed then but I think Ive been affected.

While i was on leave i had been thinking about the problem of lack of recycling at work and how to manage it, but being part time coupled with the local politics ( admin vs academic staff) i felt there was not alot i could do that would be effective. Trying to organise and managing a recycling system would not go down too well with the already maligned administrative staff who seem to take matters of the kitchen as their crucible. One slip up by me; forgetting to take it home if I had organised it would be a akin to murder in the first degree and i dont think there woud be many willing to cover. 'Forgetful' (imperfect) academic staff aren't forgiven easly. Oouch. So i had comitted to just doing it quietly; sort through it at the end of the days when im at work and just take it home as my own business. Until I read Mels post on normative behaviours, which pretty much just spelled out the doubts Id had about my 'system' (or lack thereof). Quietly taking home other peoples waste wont change how people view tossing their rubbish in the bin but if they know Im taking responsibility for their s/crap and taking it home to recycle or compost maybe they'll start taking responsibility for it themselves or will they just get pissed off with me for sticking my nose in 'their' business?

So in the process of writing this post Ive become at least clear that i need to have a discussion and that the relatively informal atmosphere of morning tea is just the place to start. I just cant believe that a 'Group of 8' university, which advertises itself as a leader, innovative and responsble, doesnt have more than a paper recycling system in place. Somethings gotta give. If a then middle aged millionaire could ride around with a slate tied to her bike and take the time to stop and pick up a can someone has discarded on a busy freeway, surely we can all take responsibility for our lunchtime tuna tin, or at least let me?

Monday, February 9

no post

our hearts are heavy. help out when you can.

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund

Donate online or:

at any branch of the National Australia Bank
BSB: 083 932
Account Number 04829 9080

via post to:
Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund
PO Box 508
Traralgon Vic 3844

Australian Red Cross - Victorian Bushfires 2009 Appeal

Donate online or

any Bunnings Store;

any ANZ, CBA, NAB or Westpac branch

or Direct Deposit:
Victorian Bushfire Relief Fund
BSB 082-001
Account number 860-046-797

or phone 1800 811 700

Myer Bushfire Appeal

all proceeds will go to the Salvation Army.

Donations can be made at any Victorian Myer Store.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Bushfire Appeal

Donate Online

or any branch of the Bendigo or Adelaide Banks

Sunday, February 8

Raw Cashew Butter

I returned from California with a new love. Organic raw cashew butter. But, I cant find raw style butter here, every brand i have seen always uses toasted nuts but in my opinion the raw cashew butter tastes much smoother and silkier. Since then I have been buying various nut butters from our local organic store at quite a hefty price and Im realising it doesnt bloody last long. We use it every day; stirred into the boybeans rice porridge, on toast or bread and in smoothies. Its luxe. So after buying just one too many jars of the stuff (the cashew, brazil and almond mixed butter is grreat too), I was inspired to make some.

I got as far as the cashew bin with bag in hand before i realised i had a serious problem. How to transform it from a nut to something paste like? We have a food processor, but lets just say, a Cuisinart its not. I bought it for 20 bucks and it chops the bottom 1 cm of the load. Thats it. Lots of poking with a wooden spoon required. Useful. Not. Bugger. For a foodie it was a serious error made on the run, I wasnt in the mood for spending money and fooled myself into thinking it would do the job. Damn. Now Im stuck with a half arsed machine that i cant bear to replace.

So i left the idea (too hard basket) until i read Naturewitches' post about her new machine. I was inspired all over again and just kind of casually said to Simon, "Hey, do we have anything we can make nut butter with? I want to make some cashew butter but the blender's just going to burn its motor if i use that?" Hmm, maybe i should burn out the motor.

"Sure, we have a manual stone mill for flour and nuts in the pantry"

"We do?"

We do.


Cohabiting with someone who lived through Glastonbury and Woodstock has its advantages!

So i got it out, worked it out, and set to work outside in the cool of the morning turning the handle until all the nuts resembled a fine greasy meal.

I decided against adding more oil to combine it into a wetter, sloppier consistency, I just pressed the meal into the jar as it wasnt grainy at all. The texture is firm but silky smooth and spreadable.

So in half an hour yesterday morning, a kilo of raw organic cashews got turned (literally) into this. It tastes divine, so fresh.

Too Easy.

Saturday, February 7

a circle of sorts

Ive been looking, but i cant find one; a knitting circle close by. Initially my reaction was "oh bummer, i s'pose thats it then, cant find one, not gonna happen" That would be the sometimes rather thick, non-problem solving, giving up straight away Kel talking. Then my inner lightbulb went on... "so start one". oh poop! my brain automatically darts to the percieved emotional responsibility for the hanging together and successful meeting of a group. Hmmp. Old Kel tape. Insert new one. I think Im up for it...Im not going to be part of a circle if i dont.

No choice. Embrace it. Its on my list for 2009.

I love the 'idea' of knitting and every winter i get inspired find some wool and set down to make something fabulous. I want to make socks, that beautiful blanket, a jumper for the bean. I can cast on, i can rib, i can drop and pick up and i can do it in the round, until something unidentifiable happens and i cant work out how to solve it. i need to be around knitters who know whats going on! I want to chat, sip tea, eat chocolate, learn to problem solve with sticks and string and make new friends. I started a wonderful bookclub and its still going strong 4 years on...we all get on well and have successfully weathered a few storms and seen new members come and go. But i have never been involved with a 'creative club' like this. So, i have a few questions for those of you who belong to knitting cirlces or any other kinda circle.

How did yours develop? was it word of mouth to friends, through local advertising or some other way?

Where do you meet? Have you always met here or have you changed location for some reasons?

How do you structure the group and the time you are together, if at all?

Do you have rules and are there any things that in reflection you regard as really important about running/ being a part of a group like this that i should know?

Lastly, if you're local and belong to a circle can i join you? lol or does anyone wanna join me in a new one? I really want to finish this scarfe...

Friday, February 6

Thursday, February 5

i have a dream

I grew up in a pretty special place on Sydney harbour and spent my childhood at the beach, watching boats come and go and fantasising about the waterborne gypsy lifestyle i saw so many living. I love the sound of rigging clinking on the mast, the salt water and feel of the spray, the sound of waves glugging against pilons. So when my neighbours sold up and left for a 3 year, round the world voyage on a boat, taking my 10 yo friend and her brother, i was pretty much green with envy; the closeness with your parents that it affords, the outdoor adventures and cultural wonders to be experienced, the sea, the beach, the sun.

So when i first met my husband and found out he had spent 4 years sailing the world as a single man, being both crew and captain on ocean crossing voyages, i knew he was the man for me. I grew up sailing but not like that; trailer sailers and moths on beach hikes was as exciting as it got. So, when i told him of my fantsay to sail around the world with my family and homeschool aboard a boat i was totally gobsmacked to find that it had been a lifelong dream of his too. SHAZAM! Its the perfect way to travel; low impact, no hotel costs, the best views in the world and SLOW! LOL

We now have a 7 year plan. To buy a second/third/fourth (read affordable) hand Catamaran and say goodbye for 3-4 years to circumnavigate the world. The girls will both have finished school and can choose to join us if, when and where they wish and the boy will be a 7/8 yo bean, a perfect age to leave behind daily land life and go to sea to expereince the adventure that is ocean cruising.

Do you have a long term goal or plan that fills you with so much excitement that you're just bursting?

Wednesday, February 4

2009 True Food Guide

We have very limited labelling laws in this country for identifying those foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, making it difficult for us to avoid GE foods if we wish to do so. Products which dont use GE help out a little by oftentimes labelling as 'GE Free' but these tend to be specialist product. That's where the True Food Guides comes in handy, to help you shop for everyday food items which are GE free.
From baby food to beverages, pastra to poultry, the guide rates brands and products as Green (GE-free) or Red (may contain GE). The guide is available online and in a convenient pocket-sized form to keep in your wallet.

The guide gives a simple method for identifying and selecting foods using as stop/go green and red identifying system. Easy!
You can also check out the True Food Network. The True Food Network is a is "a growing community of everyday Australians, chefs, food experts, farmers and community groups uniting to protect our food from genetic engineering (GE)"

Joining the true food network provides you with updates on companies, products and brands going GE-free, info on events and opportunities for taking action in your local area and the chance to share ideas on how to build a GE-free future.

So, click the link and order your pocket size 2009 True Food Guide or download either the full size or pocket size pdf to print off yourself and join the network!.

GE. Its more that just canola!

Monday, February 2

the poo bar

well, that's a post title to make your eyes water (or your stomach turn).

Ive 'been there done that' soo many times over the years, trying to go 'no poo'. The first time would be, ohh god, nearly 20 years ago (@#%!) ...young feminist hits university, majors in third world political economy and womens studies, the intellect gets sharpened, the politics heightened and the legs grow a forest, the pits too. Permaculture gets explored, passive solar makes it into my vocab and i start saving seeds and homesteading in the back garden... so, ive been at it a while. But nothing to this day has made me give up 'the poo' long term. I just like that clean, stripped bare to the roots but silky kinda feeling. Im with Crunchy all the way; that chalky saline soloution and cold vinegar rinse just dont make me feel like getting out of bed in the morning and as for the thought of trying to put a comb through the resulting nest. Staus quo remains.

Cut too 2009 and many attempts at' no poo' later and the plastic bottles in the shower are really starting to piss me off; that shelf is the last frontier in this household. Now i know I could get a haircut and i think the day is getting closer but 'the problem' is a teenage girl in the house with hair dramas (well, make that daily crises); only a mercenary could remove the Pantene. We have tried many, M.A.N.Y herbal, biodynamic, vegan, paraben free, SLS free concoctions but nothing cuts it with the very picky and very vocal teen "im going to die if you dont buy the shampoo mum" or "that is social suicide dont you know and Im not willing to try it" and a mum with particular fussies about the feel. Until now.

Yesterday, I finally bit my eco-pride bullet and came home tentatively sporting a *hand over the mouth in hushed tones* Lush shampoo bar. Ive never been into a Lush store before; you can smell them a mile away and quite frankly, to my senses, they stink. But the shop in town was well ventilated with double doors in the wedge shaped shop and seemed quite approachable on the orrofice front and the enourmous wheels of earthy looking solids had my inner aesthete drooling. And I had a mission. No bottle!

The chunk looks soo at home, happy, sitting on the wooden shelf in the shower. The most incredible thing is, we all LOVE IT!!!!! Its soft, creamy, silky and probably non-biodegradable, plastic bottles. Its given me the impetus to make my own. Anyone got a creamy olive oil recipe they swear by?

**Addendum: lush also do a solid conditioner which i will try out this week.

Sunday, February 1

Summer Pasta

An oldie but a goodie, and what better way in this heat to avoid cooking (boiling water for pasta does NOT count as cooking) and use up the tomatoes and basil that are by now prolific in everyones gardens (well, if not your garden, then hopefully a friends or in laws garden or at the least the local market!) A staple when i was an undergraduate at Uni (coz its soo cheap and tasty) and still a favourite simple pasta 'sauce' When i cook i rarely use weights or quantities (except baking stuff- then its essential or else you can end up with a crunchy biscuit when you meant to make a cake), so heres a rough guide.
This is what i did last night.

1 large tomato per person
A big handfull of fresh basil leaves (thank you veggie gnome, they are thriving)
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
balsamic glaze
Parmasen cheese (those foot filings in a green pot wont do!)

Dice tomatoes, chop/rip basil, mince garlic and grate cheese. Combine these ingredients in a bowl with olive oil- enough to end up as a good coating for the pasta, so to your preference, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, seasonings and let sit to mingle flavours or use straight away for a fresher taste. Serve on pasta; i like fusilli or penne. The great thing about this 'sauce' is that if you make too much, its essentially topping for bruscetta, so it does breakfast the following morning !

Warning: the garlic in this dish is raw so plan ahead!

in my inbox this morning

In my inbox this morning, an invitation for the Festival of Ideas to hear Peter Singer talking about his new book The Life You Can Save : Acting Now to End World Poverty . Ive been a fan of his for 20 years since my university days. Ive posted about tithing before and Peters ideas but I have never attend a lecture of his. Im definitely going. Heres an excerpt from the invitation

According to the World Bank, 1.4 billion people live on less than US $1.25 a day,. this entails a vast amount of suffering and avoidable loss of life. The Life You Can Save : Acting Now to End World Poverty offers a solution to world poverty. If enough of us can be moved to act—to make some moderate sacrifices in our lives—huge numbers of people could be saved from death and suffering. And if the world’s wealthiest 10 per cent of people were to donate a fraction of their income, extreme poverty on a large scale could be eliminated altogether. With his trademark clarity, logic and intellectual flair, world renowned philosopher Peter Singer shows us not only that this solution is possible, but also that we have a moral obligation to be part of it.
‘Peter Singer may be the most controversial philosopher alive; he is certainly amonghe most influential'

It was the jolt i needed to do some research i had been meaning to do all week. I have just bought some new spectacles; being back at work was a shock to my eyes and i was experiencing eye strain and nausea like never before. A clever colleague suggested an eye test (this bright spark hadn't thought of THAT). So i emerged with a set of graduated lenses (bi-focals in the old language...that sounds a little over rthe hill). I keep my last pair always as a back up at work in case i forget my current ones. Now the old back up pair is not needed any longer. I had a friend who every year would trek with her optometrist husband in Nepal to reach far off villages where they would perform free eye tests and provide those that needed them, with spectacles which had been donated in Australia. It sounded like such a good idea but my researcher brain kicked in and first i wanted to know if i did donate my spectacles, was it really a good idea? Looks like there are problems but the conclusion, little research and sometimes the spectacles are not distributed correctly or efficiently but the Optometry Association of Australia supports the practce and sends glasses to nations along with an optometrist. So for now, i decided i will donate.Its easy.

Now donating my old specs isnt going to end world poverty, but it was a timely reminder to do the research on the impact of my giving and that in this current international climate of fiscal uncertainty for many in the developed/first/affluent (whatever you want to name it) world, people contract in fear and stop giving, sharing. "if world’s wealthiest 10 per cent of people were to donate a fraction of their income, extreme poverty on a large scale could be eliminated altogether" Thats US!, the worlds wealthiest 10%. Despite feeling the pinch a little with food prices and growing children, we are still donating around 15% of our income. It shocked us a little that it was this high, but when we sat down and actually worked it out, thats what we came up with. Now for any of you thinking we're rich and are therefore better placed to afford it, we are rich by many standards, but we certainly bring in well under 100,000 annually and support 5 people in the family. So 15% is alot, but it doesnt have to be that high. Be inspired, do the math, choose a cause.