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.