Sunday, August 30

whats pissing me off right now...

Californian grapes flooding the market with slick advertising, sales tables and free samples. They're not only flown half way round the world, but they're frickin grapes! (something exotic I might turn a blind eye too on a bad day). Its winter. NOT.GRAPE.SEASON. I have to confess to being quite loud with my incredulity and horror as I passed the tasting table. Hoping that my snarky food miles comments and the ridiculousness of consumer demand for grapes mid winter got a few thinking. Food activism in action! Give it a go. Its quite theraputic.

Saturday, August 29

Im with Michael Moore

Im getting a bit worked up over all the US media reporting on the Obama administration plans to propose some univeral health care in the US and the amount of rhetoric thats getting bandied around. The fearmongering and misinformation thats being poured on the population is incredible (but predictable). Living in a country where universal health care has been a part of the health care landscape for forty years or so I just cannot imagine life without such a fundamentally civilised approach to population health. Well that might be the problem, the 'population' bit. The US has such a fiercely individulaistic approach to life that collective insurance hits a nerve. The old red herring of the red peril, 'the Socialist road' predictably gets given a work out. Like its a BAD thing. "Oh no, lets not look after each other in times of great stress and need, thats too SOCIALIST." Coming from the land of the religious zealots, i find that a bit rich! Surely universal health care beautifully embodies the Christian tenets? The US stands alone in the industrialised world as not offering its citizens access to good quality health care as a fundamental right. Doenst that ever give them pause for thought? Why is everyone else doing it and were not?

Doesnt the fact that they have one of the most expensive health systems and yet 40 million remain outside that system, ever make them think that theyre not doing this health thing very well, very effectively? That their life expectancy and infant mortality rates really suck compared to other 'comparable' nations? (heck, even uncomparable ones like costa rica). The whole 'its too expensive, we cant afoord it' argument gets wheeled out along with the substndard medical care argument. All the research shows the US spends way more per capita for poorer outcomes.How is that a measure of 'better'? I look with interest to see if the people start to march in the streets demanding what Australia, England, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Singapore all enjoy. Last time I looked, all pretty capitalist societies - no Reds hiding anywhere near power there. I can dream cant I? Sadly, I think I know where this attempt will end, triumph once again for the rich and powerful industry lobbyits keeping the stockholders happy. Ahh Capitalism, humane isnt it?

Friday, August 28

Haiku Friday


some like it, some don't.
visits plummet, stats decline.
Meh! It's my party...

Thursday, August 27

a collision of reality and desire

This work gig really gets in the way doesnt it? Im trying to write a journal paper and Im having a hard time focussing on the discrepancies in the delivery of oral health care in residential aged care facilities, why is that? Im struggling to focus and it has to be ready in draft form by next Monday. Shit shit shit. Its not really my field of expertise, so Im having to do loads of speed reading in order to retrospectively learn about aged care and oral health in Australia in order to generate a decent introduction and discussion around my data! I was just the consultant who did the focus groups!!! What do I know? Aggghhh

But all i can think about is whats been bottled and in the pantry, what lovelies are in the cellar, whats on the trees and whats in the garden that I can pull together to make something for this weekends blogger feast. Im in the mood for bakin'!

What have i got stored? what's ready out there? ...

chestnuts
apples
walnuts
pears
lemons
oranges
quinces
almonds
red currants
peaches
rhubarb
apricots
honey

all from our garden or from friends. Magic.

hmmm, listed like that Im forming an idea.. definitely pastry involved dont you think?

Wednesday, August 26

integration

I saw the girls Dad last weekend. Its been a while since we have actually physically crossed paths, something like a year and half. Its been good this lack of contact. Healing. For me anyway. Our interactions for years prior have been filled with anamosity; he was always on the attack, incredibly defensive and I dreaded the thought of just being near him. He was so very, very angry. Something was different last week.

For the last eight years or so he has looked at me with steel in his eyes. The piercing rays of hatred that he can manage with those cold blues makes me almost quiver. The smirk and scorn of pure hate is something to expereince from an ex with Borderline Personality Disorder with narcisistic co-morbidities. I wouldnt wish that on anyone. But at our front door I noticed a little somehting had changed. The stare he usually saved for me had gone. He looked softer, almost vulnerable. I actually felt sadness for him. Both the Bloke and my mum noticed it too. He has definitely softened, changed. Maybe, just maybe, he is learning to take some responsibility for his situation, his life. The experience of moving away and leaving his girls, co-habiting with another woman and her kids and then to experience again the trauma of a breakup with her couldnt still all be blamed on me. Finally it looks like he might have worked out that his life is up to him and he is not a 'victim' of the choices I have made for myself. That he is the driver of his own truck of life. I hope he can finally move towards happiness.

Monday, August 24

Mt Torrens Olive Oil


I get our olive oil supply from our local monthly markets. The stall is womanned by Mrs Mt Torrens, she's on the stall every month and her local small owner business olive oil is GOOD. Really fruity and a bit grassy. Its nice. I tried the other guys at the other olive oil stall and it was dissapointing, cheaper by about three bucks for a 2 litre bottle, but no where near as good. So i get oil from her every month. A few months ago we got chatting and i asked her if she wanted me to return the glass flagons she sells the oil in, or to just put them in the recycling. She said returning them was great for her as she was really peeved with the glass recyclers here in South Australia for clear glass. She said THEY NOW SEND CLEAR GLASS TO HONOLULU for recycling! Now this sounded very odd to me, 'Its a new development' she said, but 'People want to see the oil, hence the clear glass' she said and you cant use plastic as oil pulls the plasticides out of the plastic. But HONOLULU sounds atrocious. Apparently flint glass like this, clear and pure is very difficult to generate from recycled glass as its very sensitive to any glass contaminant. In Australia, a lot of our recycling goes into one curbside bin; a commingling recycling strategy resulting in much broken glass, hence making the glass good for 'commingled' glass product: coloured glass. Apparently we no longer recycle clear glass here, as we just dont have the population or means to support such recycling of pure clear glass. So we get it made, import it and then we send it back! Madness. Now I have to rethink my olive oil strategy. i think i may have to ask her if she can bring a barrel of the stuff and i can refill on site.

Sunday, August 23

Rhubarb Champagne


Its rhubarb season, isnt it? Apparently Australia does not have a rhubarb season, it grows all year round and if i think about it, my perennial plants are just that, perennial, fruiting ...umm..does rhubarb 'fruit' or just 'stem'? - off and on the year round. If you'd like to do something a little more unusual with your rhubarb, try this, some rhubarb champagne. We've not made any wine this past year, BoyBean *ahem*, but this summer we have agreed to lay down some more wines. Champagne will be one of them and for my taste buds probably mostly grape with some quince, rhubarb and Gooseberry champagne.

There are alot of recipes around on the net for a non-alcoholic version of 'rhubarb champagne' which is made quite alot like the method for ginger beer: mix, steep for a few weeks, strain and bottle. Not really methode champenoise if you're looking for something with a bit of the good stuff. So if its the alcohol content you're after, then Im afraid you're going to have to invest a little more time and effort.

The recipe below has a few 'chemical' additives but most organic wines have these as the shelf life is not much if you dont! All that hard work and you end up with vinegar...bummer.

6lbs rhubarb
4.5L water
1 cup herbal tea
1 cup Gooseberry must - you can use any other must or omit
50mg Sulphur Dioxide (S02)-provides germicidal and anti-oxidant properties
8oz sultanas
DAP 200 mg/l - yeast nutrient
FERMAID 250ml/L - yeast nutrient especially for must
VINO SUPER 0.3ml/10L -removes pectins to clarify the wine
TANNIN GALALCOOL 250ml/L -a naturally derived tannin for the protection and treatment of white must and wine and is derived from the gall nut of oak trees

FERMIVIN - yeast, can use any you like possibly champagne yeast too
2.5 lbs sugar

Cut 2cm off top and bottoms of rhubarb stalks, wipe clean with a cloth dipped in half strength sulphite soloution, chop stalks and put into fermenter (with bung, click here for previous wine recipe for some definitions)) with the water, tea, must, So2 and sultanas. Soak for 2 days, add remaining ingredients.

Strain and put into fermenter. add VINO SUPER 0.3ml/L (this is the first rack)

Second racking. 4 months later. add rapidase filtration (50 mg/L) and SO2 (25mg/L)
7 months later add 17g sugar per bottle and 250 mg/L LALVIN yeast and 100mg/L DAP and cap. Rack and cellar for a good while, 6 months or so, and then on a coolish day fill bucket with ice and stand each bottle, neck down, in the ice for minutes to 'freeze' the yeast plug that will have formed. This is why champagne is stored as it is, to keep the yeast in the nck ready for removal. Dont tilt a stored champagne bottle before removing the plug or it will get distilled back into the fizz. Remove cap quickly and the pressure will release the yeasty plug. Press thumb on bottle neck to seal when plug has gone and recap or cork. Rack and drink when desired!

Alternatively you could make a simple rhubarb cordial by boiling up and reducing water, rhubarb, sugar, rosewater and vanilla to add to your champagne!


We enjoyed the last bottle of this 2001 fizz tonight in celebration of finally moving some furniture into the studio. Its a warm, light, calm space. Im loving it (except for the rug temporarily appropriated from B2s room) The fizz looks like beer but didnt taste like it though; it was toasty and dry -just how I like it.
I think I will bring a bottle of Goosberry and Quince fizz to next weekends blogger feast at The Mad Gnomes . Blog readers and blog owners all welcome!

Saturday, August 22

these are a few of my favourite things...


Im not really that into stuff, i dont have collections of things really, except books, and things get pretty dusty around here so i dont like to add to it, but here are a few of my favourite things that i enjoy, besides people and place.

These Martin Boyd ramekin dishes from my childhood. I dont remember using them very often as a kid but when we did it was always for the same dish; baked eggs with breadcrumb. B2 uses these to make wholemeal chocolate puddings; her signature dish to date! i love sitting down with one of these and a tiny spoon.

A Buddhist amulet from a Thai boyfriend 20 years ago. He gave it to me with a declaration that if i didnt return to marry him, he would become a monk. He is now living on London with his dentist wife! I wear it often.

Years old birkenstocks that will most likely not last another summer. I live in these when the weather is good. Can they manage a fourth resole?

A teapot that i bought in Nimbin with some of my first ever pay as a working person. I just loved how weird and organic it was, i still do. The trip to Nimbin was weird too, me and a colleague who had just had breast reduction surgery...lots of rocky unsealed roads the poor girl. It came with a set of four odd cups which are still intct but Im no so enamoured with them as I am pretty picky about a tea cups...i like a fine lip! who woulda thought?



Another bit of kitchenware from my childhood; a Marianne Westmann salt pot for rock salt or salt flakes. I love using it coz you can dig your whole hand in.



A set of reclaimed Huon pine salad hands - technically not mine as a I gave them to the Bloke a a gift...before these we had both lived without any salad utensils for ever. Great ergonomics, like prosthetics!



A set of Avery scales which weigh our favourite things.; rice for risotto, flour for pasta. Its a pleasure to use and is so sturdy.

A sugar caster! I love this as its just so useless, well for me anyway. It was a wedding gift from my ex-mother in law, along with a few other really useless sterling gifts which aren't my favourite, like a silver muffin dish with warmer!


A handmade pair of Chez Guevera earings that I bought from a great little shop on Brunswick St in Melbourne. They're my no.1


There's quite a few food related items in this list. Must do another someday without the food focus. I couldnt help it, really. Actually in reflection its all pretty utilitarian stuff. None of these things I would run into a burning ouse to save, but they make my daily life somewhat special.

Friday, August 21

Thursday, August 20

where did i come from?

Im not sure where my passion for ecological living comes from. The love of forests full of hidden edible treasures, the thrill of catching your own dinner, the skills inolved in boning and carving, the use of 'weeds'' and 'trash' to their full potential, the art of minimising expenditure and consumption, conserving energy. It all gives me a great thrill. Is it a mindset we're born with or is it created? Can we teach it? Is it a religion? Am i a zealot? Or is it just an interest that i have developed through years of reading and listening to theory and practice about urban and environmental ecology? I mean, i have loved Landline since I was a teenager!

At the heart of my love for all things eco i think is the fundamental challenge of doing things the smart way with the least amount of stuff, in the most artistic or creative way possible and with minimum disruption to natural ecosystems. Its smart living, not mindless living. Thats where my spirit is nurtured, in that moment, in that decision to take or make or change something in a way that is least disruptive to the world around me, knowing that the decision is made with the best of intentions. It requires knowledge, skill and thought. Consciousness. But really, what is it about the idea of self sufficiency that gets me just so excited? Seriously, why do i find the idea of rearing a pig, butchering it and then finding every possible way to cure and use it so enthralling? Why does foraging for mushrooms give me butterflies in my stomach? What is it with self sufficiency and food?

Whats going on ? Im a small c career academic with smallholder tendencies. Somethings gotta give.

Tuesday, August 18

lazy gardening tips


What does a lazy gardeners saved seeds from last season look like?
...someting like this!

This technique requires no washing, stripping, drying or sorting of sloppy seed and pulp! Plop mashed insides, in this case tomato ( works for cucumbers, zucchini...sloppy seeds) on paper towels, spread somewhat, leave to dry in cool dry spot. Fold and store or leave in piled stack. Write on each towel what type of seeds they are. When ready to plant out, chop paper towel into small bits and plant out seed/s (with piece of towel is ok). Voila! easy seed saving for lazy gardners. Works every time.

Ready to go today were last years best producers; yellow pear, green zebra, black russian and a pink 'somethingorother' (i just labelled that one 'pink' obviously thinking at the time that the rest of the name would be obvious when planting time came!). The weather does tend to push you outside at this time of year. The winter vege patches really need some serious attention dont they? straggling old sorry things they are at this time of they year.. I did attempt weeding and general prepping on most of the patches today but small person issues hindered the whole hog happenning -what else? and at one point nearly rolled himself sideways over the edge of a 2m dry stone wall and onto the driveway, how he managed such a feat under and behind the grapefruit and mandarin i dont know but small people have a way of doing the seemingly impossible don't they?, and quickly!

I did however manage to weed a carrot, beetroot and tomato bed and de-rocket the cabbage patch. I found a few cabbages that i had cut back ready to pull from last season , but didnt, and they have sprouted two leaders on either side of the cut and are producing small heads in each. A bi-annual cabbage! Extra perfect for the lazy gardner, but the ones i planted out a few months ago are really looking quite good, the 'foil' of rocket forest surrounding them really keeps the pests at bay as they cant see the leaves well when they fly over looking for cabbage! Brilliant companion planting.

Another lazy gardning trick that is a stroke of engineering brilliance is leaving last summers' bean stalks on the bamboo trellising we use. The old winding thick stalks provide the perfect easy grip surface for the new seasons peas on the rather slippery bamboo. Pea anti-skid, free. The peas i put in a few months ago have survived the onslaught of winter slugs and are now a good 2 ft tall.

Didnt quite get around to potting up the tomato seeds...

Monday, August 17

yeah baby!

The bean has started giving kisses. On cue. Sweet! Its what every parent looks forward too; some reciprosity of affection. Its taken awhile.
His pucker action has expressed itself in the Kath-Kel Day-Night style. He walks forward, positions himself face on, looks me in the eye, opens his litle wet lipped moosh wide, moves his head forward and plants his wide open mouth over my puckered one. A small outbreath sometimes with a sound "uueeeh", no moving of the lips, and then its removed just as it was offerred. Its the sweetest, softest most innocent little act Ive experienced in a long while. He registers nothing in it but the fact that we all smile and I go 'mwwaaah'. It makes my heart do the flippy flop. I have to confess to asking for more than my fair share of these delectable, exquisite Beany offerings.

Sunday, August 16

more feckin' food


I could post about about the glorious day in the sun yesterday, playing with the bean in his sandpit for the first time, involved in the moment, watching the bean have endless fun redistributing sand everywhere but in the pit; underneath the deck now lies half the contents. We watched the Bloke finish the last bit of the studio floor too, finally (but hey, Im not building the damn thing so technically I cant really bitch about the timing)but its not very riveting for others and i didnt take any pics. It was great to be outside again in good weather. Winter's a bitch and its hailing now.
Last nights Weekend Carnivore Finale was Baked Wild Bunny with Pancetta and Olives.
I had a mildly hard time portioning the thing. Not used to bunny physiology so had to do a lot of 'intuitive' knife work (You Tube helped) ahhh, technology in the kitchen. The front legs freaked me a bit, rotating free like flippers; no joint, just a shoulder blade. Little thing looked a bit sad all splayed out on the board; I just had to do a little bit of mindbending dissasociating. I took a rather 'interesting pic of the bunny before i worked out how to make a skinned rabbit look less terrifying. Portioned, I olive oiled it all up and covered with thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and two small fresh (from the freezer) chopped chilli, some fresh picked whole baby purple dragon carrots and then layered on some more meat! some local, biodynamic naturally cured pancetta. .
I bunged that in the oven for 20 minutes, then removed and added a cup of white wine and a good handfull of black olives and and baked again until cooked. Served this up with a homegrown trio of baked King Edwards (my new favourite potato) with rocksalt, balsamic glazed bulls blood beets and sauteed kale with Mad Gnome garlic. I left the kale in the pan too long and crisped it up quite a bit, shattering between the teeth type crispy. Got me thinking that on purpose deep fried kale could be worthwhile or tempura kale. Anyone tried this?
Meanwhile i put the rib carcass of the bunny in a pot with some of my freezer collection of celery tops, coriander roots etc and herbs. I just keep adding to this collection whenever i have 'stock bits' but am not making stock. I recommend keeping a freezer bag of 'stock bits' as it makes spontaneous stock making not only a breeze but possible.
We gnawed our way through this finger licking feast with the rest of the wine. Never having eaten rabbit before outside a pie, i was impressed with the flavour. We will definitely be adding bunny to the list. This dish was full of flavour but a litle on the dry side. Rabbit cacciatore or Essex Fried Rabbit Jamie Oliver style, next.

We then settled down for some more homegrown downsizing and foraging fun ala Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall style with a limoncello (almost that time of the year again folks). Lights went out at 1am. One whole series down and umm. endless more to go! Thanks Gnomes. Maybe this afternoon I will get around to fixing my header pic; its been bugging me for weeks but havent had the time nor inclination to fix it.

Saturday, August 15

taking on the Golden Arches

Hows this for a franchise concept? putting other issues of farming commercial beef aside, its presence is a challenge to the norm at least. I love it when i come across websites and information like this. I feel supported, connected and feel that people out there are thinking, doing stuff, taking 'it' on. I think that's one of the reasons i love to blog, that on the off chance, it will make a difference somewhere, that someone will think about a lifestyle choice they may not have ever challenged and to learn from others myself; to challenge my status quo, my normal, to shift my boundaries of what I percieve is is possible. Small changes can change the world but big changes are better!

Building a business based on an 'organic or bio-dynamic' principle carries so much more moral responsibility than a regular business who does not have a 'principle' at stake. Invariably, businesses that base their trade on an organic product are under a higher code of socail obligation to do and provide everything else 'organically', sustainably. This pressure is enourmous, to get every other facet of your business right so as to not fall over on the moral code you are proposing to make a living peddling. If only we held 'regular' business under such scrutiny. It is however, the blight of the socially aware, that you cant just do a half assed job. If youre gonna promote organic and sustainable then you have to go the whole hog or provide a bloody good reason why not. I need to remember that sourcing 100% of your business resources from sustainable and organic sources is a huge job, and cut them slack. 60-70% is a bloody good start.

Friday, August 14

Thursday, August 13

pan fried gnocchi with wild mushroom and sugar cured bacon


this is definitely a waist line buster. Those of you that know me or read this blog will know that when the girls go away with their dad I break out the flesh at meal times. I get molto carnivore to make up for the endless weeks of vegetarian meals. Dont get me wrong, i love vegetarian and vegan food but when you're deprived of something you really enjoy and and you have some great meat choices available, whatcha gonna do? Eat Meat.
So tonight i chose to use the Black Big sugar cured bacon we bought at Lucias in the Central Market. God i love that place. They cook the most luxe sauces and bake amazing deserts on portable stoves sitting on the countertops people! You jostle between simmering pots for payment space. its fabulous. Anyway, I'd come out of there with some handmade gnocchi (i know- but i didnt, OK. Besides, my gnocchi never tastes like theirs; so light and fluffy, and its just the two of us. A treat!), and some Black Pig products. Have you ever noticed just how many almost vegetarian recipes call for pancetta or a bit of speck? You just can't not do it. That fatty salty essence is, well, the essence! Peas and zucchini on pasta just isnt the same. Digressing, sorry. So gnocci, bacon and gosh, surprise! I just happen to have lots of wild mushroom duxelle in the freezer, frozen for a moment just like this one.
Just for the record before this year i had no idea what a duxelle was, its knowledge only borne of necessity. About 20 kgs of 'got a bit carried away by the fun of mushrooming' necessity and was forced to research and make some glorious long-life mushroom goods, tidy bags of duxelle being one of them.

So I decided on some crunch and chew to compliment the squishy sauce and decided the pan fried gnocchi was the way to go. Major tip of the day. Dont boil the gnocchi if you want to do it pan fried. It doesnt need it and it will end up very water logged and smushy if you do. Just fry them in a bit of butter. I fried thin strips of bacon in their own fat and then when they were browned and a bit crispy on the edges added the defrosted duxelle to the pan which with a couple of cloves of minced garlic even though the duxelle already had garlic. I warmed the musroom mix through and when the gnocchi were browned i salted them, served them and topped with the mushroom and bacon sauce and some creamed ricotta and pecorino. Sadly i was in such a hurry to eat this delight that we forgot to add any greens but upon finishing, we both noted that some freshness and real crunch in the form of rocket or spinach would have really helped and had i had any parsley currently producing, definitely some of that. All up, about an 8/10. Pretty tasty.

The pic above I just liked coz it shows my very aesthetic sensibilities: can you see the good use to which I have put that piece of art on the windowsill? That sculpture made with love from our uber cool Flaming Lotus Girl/ Burning Man niece is my extra plastic bag drying aide when the PuraTap is fully loaded up. Noice touch huh?

Wednesday, August 12

home alone

oh.my.god. Its here. The night i have been waiting for. And Im totally unprepared. Usually with a night alone i like to cook, stand at the stove, you know how it goes...recipe book, glass of wine, music and chop and stir and sip then eat. Maybe a movie organised or continue with a good book. Bugger. I discovered Im way underprepared. Got home, girls gone with their dad for a four day weekender, boys teething and cranky and the Blokes cooked quiche and now departed. Greens meeting. Bath 'n' bed for the bean and there's nothing for me to do! Sheesh. Bunny in the fridge but thats for Friday! Hands off. Im getting bad at this. The relaxing. Doing not much. Thought I'd relish the silence, the quiet. My pace. Nope. Quiche gone, kale cooked, wine nursed and Im wanting some input, could call someone...I find myself here with the electric 'puter box. Hellooooooooooooooooooo. Could do jobs. bonk! Could tidy the study. Bonk! Dishes? Double bonk! Could say Hey! theres a Blogger feasty get together for all you Adelaide bloggers. That's more like it. Some excitement! Yeah. Details copied directly from Mad Gnomes blog ( with their permission to cross post).

Who?
You, dear reader(s)!

Where?
The Mad Gnomes' place in the Adelaide Hills. 40mins from Adelaide CBD. 20 mins from Hahndorf. 20 mins from Stirling. Details with directions will be emailed to interested bloggers.

When?
How about the last weekend in August? Sunday, 30 August 2009.

Time?
From 2pm onwards.

What to bring?
A plate you'd like to share for afternoon tea. Sweet or savoury. Your choice.

Wouldn't it be lovely to put a face to all the names you have seen on blogs and comments?! So, don't be shy. Do come! We'd love to meet you.

It will be a relaxed, informal afternoon. See you soon! :)

Finally a crowd! Whoohoo. See you there? Let the Gnomes know.

standing up for a basic human right


Yes, grinning innanely, in love, just hours after birth and just a step away from my special patch of floor where i birthed the Bean.(doesnt look very beany...more like a watermelon! 11.5 pounds or 5.5kgs of watermelon at home-it can be done! lol)
If you have ever thought home birth was an option, ever thought there may be something to be gained, had, by birthing at home, if you've ever imagined another way, then take some action now and support your right, your partners right, your sisters right,your daughters right, your friends right, a womans right to birth how she needs too.

Laws are notoriously hard to overturn and impending policy change is about to make a womans choice to birth her children safely at home impossible through the mechanism of exhorbitant insurance by way of lack of government indemnity and the link between insurance and midwife registration. midwives will be able to attend homebirths as a 'guest' but will have no recourse to a legal and respectful hospital transfer if required. This blog post written by my last homebirth midwife tells it well.
Homebirth Australia is organising a rally in Canberra on September 7 at 11.30am if you can make it, but they have also come up with what i think is a stroke of genius for those who can't attend but want to show their support on the day; a virtual rally ticket where "your pledge of $25 goes towards the printing and assembling of your head shot and message, as well as towards our continuing campaign to keep homebirth with a midwife a viable option for Australian families” and your ugly mug can be placed on Parliament House lawns.This act will help try to keep Homebirth a legal and viable option for Australian women who choose another way to birth. Attend the rally or buy a ticket to have a virtual attendance. Imagine having a law that mandated you had to take all mammalian pets to the veterinary surgery for them to birth their young? Sounds crazy like that huh?

Tuesday, August 11

living on the edge


You remember i was cleaning my study? well that small move started a movement; the girls decided to switch rooms and we havent yet recovered. the amount of stuff... the amount of stuff they decide they dont want anymore when they have to shift it...now its all in my study. the house is a pit. a dump. im wantiing to move out. Tried 'spring' cleaning in winter with a kid? Production drops and you dont get paid, well much. Should be fixing this mess while the bean sleeps, not blogging about it. Whats happenned to me?Bloke up in studio finishing the floor so cant get him to help. He's officially being Class A productive...and Im blogging and have taken pics and uploaded them. Cant face the music just yet despite having two espressos. The hallway is somewhat tidy, might hangout there, where there's only two bags of stuff visible!
What you cant see in the pics are the muddy floors, the kids toy/play pad with extra socks, tops, creams, books and the fires' crumbs, the food mashed into coir, and the mess in the pantry where the bean discovered the bulk bin of muesli.
On a brighter note the garden is forthcoming. Loads of King Edwards unearthed with every dinner haul and the bowl and contents looks clean and oranised!

This is last nights stash from one plant minus a few biggies i put in the curry! Me loves potatoes! OK, Im off!

Monday, August 10

afternoon delight

Sunday afternoon visitors are a great treat for me, especially during the winter months. It means a compulsory but welcomed stint in the kitchen and a fire on early. Pretty close to heaven. The kids love it too; a sense of ease and timelessness, everyone leisurely enjoying their own pace and interests together downstairs in the warmth. The Mad Gnomes dropped in, kindly proffering the prize i won, The Silver Spoon, in their Gnome competition (decorated with a homegrown head of garlic!)
What a prize! Described as Italy's best selling cookbook for over fifty years and the bible of authentic Italian cooking, I was pretty stoked at winning such a tome! Befitting a delicious biscuit to serve with drinks dont you think?

Chocolate Wheaties

90gm butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup wheatgerm
3/4 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/4 white self-raising flour
90g dark chocolate

Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, beat well. Add coconut and wheatgerm and flours. Roll teaspoonfulls into balls and squash with a fork. Bake in a moderate oven for 15-20 minuites. Dip in melted chocolate. Refridgerate to set on a wire rack. Eat.

Sunday, August 9

dying to be green

Rixa wrote a great post on home burial a few days ago on her blog Stand and Deliver which got me thinking about the connections between birth and death and just how removed we have become in western, highly industrialised societies from the cycles of life and our propensity to hand over the 'management' of some of the most intimate expereinces we ever face as humans to commercial business. The baby/body becomes the comodity. Home birth may be still a fringe occourence, less than 0.1% of women birth at home today in Australia, the statistics on home funerals/wakes I'm unclear about.

When Simons wife died he brought her home and held her wake here. It freaked me a bit at first to know that. That my study... but in my heart I believed what he did was the right thing so i managed my weirded out feelings. When my twin sister died, my mum carried her coffin in the car to the crematorium. Being close and involved seems important in the grief process.

When i was living in Thailand and on holiday with my boyfriend in his rural hometown, his grandfather passed away and it was one of the most incredible expereinces i heve ever had and the memory has always been a wonderful one. For three days the whole community prepared. As Thais live in rather open style homes you could see preparations going on all down the main street where his family lived; grandma and grandpa lived across the road and cousins and aunts and uncles down the street, so you could see into peoples homes and the preparations the community was undertaking. Men were hard at work making the coffin and preparing the ceremony and women were sitting around threading flowers onto strings to make hundreds of garlands for the service and preparing huge pots of food.
Come the day of the service i was blown away. we walked across to his grandparents home/shop and the shop had been clearerd out to make rom for all the guests. The coffin sat in pride of place but set back into a corner. It looked fantastic. It looked like a tall decorative steamboat, and it stood three tiers high. The bottom tier contained the body, then there was a smaller long box on top and another smaller one on top of that. I am not sure if these other boxes served a purpose. The coffin was beautiful, painted black and decorated ornately with thousands of tiny coloured tinfoil cutouts. It looked like sparkly mosaic and it was draped in twinkling fairy lights and flower garlands. It was the most beautiful coffin Ive ever seen. The attending monk sat next to the coffin and conducted the service which was full of guest chatterings and not alot of listening! My boyfriends grandma seemed to pay more attention to my novel blonde hair than the service for her husband! After the service, the coffin was lifted by the men in the family and carried it low and we walked, some 100 strong down the middle of the main street of his small town, to the temple where the body was deposited to be burnt, returnng to my boyfriends house to feast. The ownership of that funeral was intense and is something i have since realised is so humane, normal and integrating.

Rixa talked briefly about home burial, now Im not sure what the legalities of that are in Australia. But I know 'green' funerals are becoming more popular as cremation and burial both have environmental impacts. Eco funerals in Adelaide provide cardboard coffins lined in calico, carbon offset credits and use Toyota Yaris! (how a body fits lying down in a Yaris i dont know!) and WhiteKnight, also in Adelaide, have removed the coffin completely, shrouding the body in cotton then hessian - no wood, no waste, no varnish, no metal, no formaldehyde leaching into the grondwater. Additionally , instead of burying the body at the "traditional six feet under, the body is buried at medium depth, allowing it to break down at a normal, healthy rate rather than the much slower rate imposed by anaerobic conditions further down in the soil" How green is that?

Bush burials are taking off and its this kind of burial that I'd like. Bushland setting, body in ground, tree planted on top. Yes please. If i could, id be propped under a tree somewhere in the outback, but thats not allowed. Burials, even so called bush burials must take place in a designated 'graveyard' and there are only a few in Australia, Lismore, Adelaide and Tassie. These kinds of burials coupled with a home wake and preparation seem to me to be more humane, more loving, intimate and meaningful and certainly greener. How 'bout you, what are your preferences? grin.

Saturday, August 8

window farming

I found this on city farmers news (another great blog jam packed with great info) but im not sure how much of this is designer dreams but it appears to be viable for small size herbs and vegetables and a cool way to use some plastic bottles. Not totally into hydroponics either but worm wee is good! Could be a winter soloution for herb access and those cherry tomatoes...

If anyone gives it a go, let me know.

Friday, August 7

Haiku Friday


the pressures of time.
life runs away, weeds flourish.
f*#k f*#k f*#k f*#k f*#k

Thursday, August 6

a house called nut and some eco stuff

A bit of link love this morning. I have discovered a wonderful blog all the way from Finland A House called Nut is a wonderful exploration of life by a couple living in a house called 'nut' in the forests of Finland. She blogs about making, foraging, wilderness, growing...all the good stuff and has a great photographic eye. Her tutorials are great too; her bangle wristwarmers got me all yarn excited. Another great blog that I susbscribe too on another forum is Inhabitat: its a green 'design' weblog , "devoted to the future of design, tracking the innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future". It throws up some really cutting edge ideas and designs and is an exciting and interesting read covering areas of architecture, interiors, products, technology, energy and the arts. A more local newsletter i subscribe to is ecoconnect , a small Aussie business (located in Brissie) who specialise in communicating, educating and engaging creatively about science, natural resource management and the environment. Their newsletter is a great source of eco ideas. Oh, and a fresh new blog by an Adelaide landscape architecht with an eco passion often sidelined by great food who has a new blog all her own My Feet Move Forwards. Check 'em out.

Tuesday, August 4

an indulgent bit of naughty- cloche de beurre


I blame Julie from Towards Sustainability and Em from Dance of Small Things for this indulgence. I had never heard of such a thing before they both posted about them. A butter bell, or french butter dish, designed to keep butter in an air tight, oxygen free environment by hanging it in a water bath thereby eliminating rancidity but still maintaining room temperature as it needs no refridgeration. Wikipedia says
This 19th century French-designed pottery crock has two parts: a base with a hollow cylinder attached to it, and a cup that also serves as a lid. The cup holds the packed in butter, and the base holds water. The water creates an airtight seal that keeps oxygen away from the butter so that refrigeration is not needed, and the butter can be used in its soft form. This method will keep butter for around a month provided it is kept at temperatures below 80F (27C).
The online literature says its traditionally French but my francophile husband reckons he never saw one in all his years in France! An American company has trademarked the name butter bell and seem to have a sales and production monopoly, so that got up my nose and i searched around, high and low for a producer/retailer in Oz. Zip.
Looks like this little invention has slipped by our national consciousness. So instead of waiting for the next local market to chat with the resident potter, i purchased this lovely hand made crock from Jim online...in Oregon. oops.But its lovely and looks just right in the kitchen. No more stilton style butter for me.

Monday, August 3

putting my money where my mouth is...

So i had narrowed the field down. One, a supermarket shelf type but purchaser driven, web compliant and somewhat individually tailored e-commerce web and logo development company. They're based in another state and run carbon neutral and support lots of female web developers. The other, a boutique 'green' business consultancy located about 100m from home with an amazing approach, fully customised 'we build your whole web business from the gound up' based web developer with an integrated waste system, green powered, carbon neutral, 100% recycled everything except the macs and telephones, practice. Its not hard to guess which one i really wanted to work with.

When push came to shove however, the difference in price of over $7000 kinda made my mind up for me. Yes, their designs are exemplary, exquisite in fact. Sigh, but thats a whole lotta bags!

Sunday, August 2

oh no, pesto!


Its that time of the year again when the rocket is shooting away and I start looking at it like its a green manure crop and not something to be ingested. For me, feeling guilty at letting it all go to waste is a great motivator, so i put in the hours required to cut, trim and wash the rocket and the usual real killer of my best laid plans, shelling all the walnuts required for the pesto. All up i managed to use about a twentieth of the rocket and about a tenth of our walnut stash from last seasons crop,
a head of our garlic and a chunk of local parmesan and olive oil. viola. pesto! or as B1 said 'looks like something out of Harry Potter' i tend to agree.
But its so fresh and fragrant and flavoursome, the three F's! that it will definitely get devoured in a myriad of ways.

On an aside, the kid is thriving but i had forgotten just how enthusiastic about helping one year olds can be. Murphys Law about kids helping; when theyre old enough to do a good job they no longer want to do it. Everytime i get out the broom and start to sweep the floor, he rushes off to the laundry to grab the dustpan and brush, whizzes back and redistributes the pile I've made in a blustering effort to complete the task. Life is definitely taking more than twice as long these days...

Saturday, August 1

life takes over your life

if you know what i mean...
i finally hauled myself off to the doctors this week to get a full blood test done. Thyroid malfunction at both extremes have plagued many women in my family so i wanted to get this and my iron count checked. I have been experiencing tiredness like never before. The 'is this what CFS feels like?' tiredness. The 'ohh i know ive just had 10 hours sleep but i could go a whole days extra' kind of tiredness. She actually laughed at me "yes i know i work, am finishing writing a thesis, have a one year old, two teenagers, am trying to set up a business, have a garden to manage, a household to help run and exercise three times a week, but i feel more tired then normal" . I have to say after telling her all that i felt pretty stupid! hmmm, maybe i no longer know what normal is?

Life seems to be running away from me, im happy, interested, enthusiastic, but i cant seem to squeeze enough hours out of the day to do what i want to do. i need spares, time vouchers please. So this weekend im purposefully spending my time slowing down, sorting out my life by cleaning and organising the study, removing dead printers,sorting the piles that need filing so i dont lose track of where im at. im feeling like another week of chaos may tip me over the edge "sorry, what company are you from? who are you? i ordered what?" I know myself well enough now that a good tidy up followed by the reward of a few long hours chopping and stirring fridge and pantry contents into something special is literally just what the doctor ordered. Now, i just have to decide on the something really tasty and special to cook? What do you like to indulge in preparing when you're in need of some one-on-one with a saucepan? Some ideas would be great.

and the winner is?


Last night in Adelaide the Greenpeace design awards for 2009 were held. Due to incredible interest and volume of submissions,the awards were split into an international and Aussie category. Some incredible designs were put forward. The winner,second place and runner up? who do you think?