Saturday, October 31

sweet beetroot pillows


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

Marshmallows
Ingredients:

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

Method:

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


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

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


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

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

Friday, October 30

In my inbox this morning

Dear All -


Today’s financial climate means we are all exposed to additional pressures that make conducting research, teaching and administrative duties even more difficult. This environment results in some staff feeling anxious about their work and all too often they feel they don’t have enough time to get the job done.

Email is the most commonly used software application in the world, and arguably the work based activity that consumes the most time. Many staff feel anxious about the size of their Inbox and that email is controlling them and their time.

The Take Control of Your Email course has been delivered to 300 staff from all corners of the University (Academic and Professional) and has achieved outstanding results. The average attendee (Academic or Professional) surveyed 5 weeks after attending the course, is saving over 40 minutes per day by applying the behaviours and skills taught in the course. Staff suffering extreme email anxiety has dropped 50% and staff are feeling less anxious about their daily tasks.

The University recommends all staff attend this course, new staff, staff who are time poor, staff who feel anxious about email or staff who would just like to spend less time using email and more time doing something else.

As managers why not give your staff the gift of additional time by sending them on the course before Christmas? The best results have been achieved by teams of staff attending the course together as they can determine agreed group behaviours that minimise email traffic.

Book now as places are limited


Now i do know that some staff are incredibly inundated with emails, particular higher up the food chain, but I did still find this quite amusing and honestly initially thought it was a joke mail. Its on my Christmas wish list!

Haiku Friday

We stand in line, hot
sweating, patiently waiting.
Ice cream from the Gods.

Thursday, October 29

do you hide your blogging?

this question has been on my mind for a while and Ive basically been wondering if Im abnormal. I do not tell people outright that I have a blog. I may say that 'I blog' but thats vague; it can be taken a passive and not an active statement. i generally dont say I have a blog and here's the address. I dont invite my close others in. I have over time become comfortable with the Bloke reading it but thats taken a while, he didnt know about it for ages. Its an interesting thing this 'hiding' from close friends and family. Why? Is it the idea that we can be seen differently? that we may present a face unknown to those who believed they knew? Is it an essential shyness, an insecurity? Im not really too sure. Im getting better at disclosing it. Are you an overt or a covert blogger? Im curious.

i was thinking...

thinking that all your comments on yesterdays post were so great that I could post bits of my thesis here every day we could get this damn Thing done together! Whaddaya reckon?

Wednesday, October 28

oops, now its felt!


This was my all time favourite jumper; a Debbie Bliss silk and cashmere aran blend in Pistachio. Luxurious. Comfortable. Warm. Home made. The Bloke washed it. In the washing machine. With a full load. Mega spin. Yes, I was rather unhappy. I had hoped I had left these kind of Bloke mishaps behind along with my last relationship. Aparently not. I reckon thats topped up the bill to nigh on a couple of thousand bucks worth of clothing that Blokes in my life time have single handedly significantly 'altered' or rendered completely unwearable. This easy wear jumper is now about three sizes too small and a sports a stiff felt-like texture. All you crafty types out there, your ideas are needed. I cant bear to part with it but in its current state its completely un un-doable as its just to 'felty', but I have no good ideas what to do with such an expensive piece of...uselessness. Actually, i have a few of these felted pieces quite similar to this that I have stashed away over the years, remnants of relationships gone... waiting for inspiration. Ideas welcomed.

Tuesday, October 27

ohh boy, is that do-able?

just to continue with yesterdays purging theme (I'm on a roll), here's my life for the next two weeks:

- Bookclub;

- Greens state council;

- Montessori school drama production;

- Opening night of Pippin at the youth theatre;

- Foodconnect workshop;

- Chapter 6 of my thesis edits completed;

- A whole new chapter written - qualitative focus group stuff that my 'old' supervisor dissed (he being the super dooper stats guy) which necessarily includes all those transcripts analysed so I can keep on track with my deadlines for a Christmas submit of the thesis;

- Greens fundraising dinner;

- Open house and garden day for 'Sustainable Living' fundraiser (fuck the garden needs to look fab);

- India Flint eco-dye workshop;


All that squeezed around work and kids...should be manageable? Right? Breathe

Monday, October 26

time to purge

I think this is going to be a vomit post- you know the ones, they just spill out, no real theme or rhyme or reason, no plan. Its either that or no post at all, and that just bugs me no end, so goddamit, Im posting! It could turn into a whinge post too, about how tired I feel which also makes me not want to post (i know, just dont do it! but well I must be a bit OCD or something, else just a control freak coz i want to write but cant put two coherent thoughts together really, so lets just see where this ends up..) Well now that Ive started its surprisingly alieviated some pressure, of what we're still not sure, right?. Im cooking, just not posting about my storms, not entirely sure why, but mostly it just seems like just our bloody dinner and who the hell would be interested in the tortilla, the pide or the bio-burger? Im still gardening and its the same gig; who the hell cares that the leaves are being munched off the tomato plants by unidentified leaf munchers who leave bare stems in their wake? or the cucumbers Ive planted out, who gives a hoot? I suppose my creative mojo has just been subsumed. Kids, house, garden, paid work, clubs, volunteer work, PhD. Have found myself frequently wondering how people manage big families? Crrr-azy busy!

The 'holy crap B1 is dating a bloke' saga continues. The heats gone out if it (at my end only!) Shame. Was hoping for some incompatible fizzle. But we're all still talking, being honest and telling it like it is around here and we have noticed that she has grown and met our expectations with her usual amazingness and loads of responsibility, so i am really appreciative of her management of most of the stuff thats come up and out of this situation. Every now and then she shows her age and I just want to slam my adult trump card down on the table and say ' see, its too hot! get out of the kitchen' or 'you wanna play being a grown up, this is what you have to deal with' but mostly I manage the demon. She tells me stuff, I respond, we debate and we move through. Its all good, well as good as it can be when you've got shit like this going on. We still havent met, Ive tried but apparently he's concerned about his hair... A spin off issue has been appropriately guiding her little sister through the matter. Not easy when they talk to each other and Im the bad guy. Im hoping for a rewarding parenting moment in 15 years time.

The garden grows, problems get solved, we love and laugh, we clean and tidy and sweep and wash, work gets done and time passes.

The Thing moves on.
It should be a great Christmas.

Sunday, October 25

a free lunch with Team Friend

nothing quite like them. I prefer to think its not because im a tight wad or cheap or anything but the politely referred to 'catered' or 'lunch/dinner provided' has a way of bringing people together in a spirit thats unmatched. Its a freedom to revert to the somewhat irresponsible, unite as a group, feel a part of Team Friend. Thats why I really love weddings. The ultimate in TeamFriend, a party of oneness like no other. But the 'free meals' Ive been invited to lately have been for the ritual passing over into the 'shit, I really am officially in the no longer a groovy young thing realm and staying there may be a little embarrassing' camp.

Somehow, with the passing of years we have morphed into 'middle class, middle aged comfortables with kids' and after time apart when we we all get together we relive our misspent youth (some more than others) and wonder how 25 years has passed so quickly. These cliches of time inadvertantly arise, get dissected and declared 'how true' and the comfortable conversation of people who have been around each other for so long moves seamlessly along. We are doing this more and more, the amazed declarations of the passing of time.

I love these occasions, and as I get older these old friendships from high school and university have come to mean so much and catching up with families of these friends; the parents, siblings and grandparents gives us all an opportunity to remember those parts of our lives we shared together. The trouble we got into and the accidents we had, life events like death and divorce get discussed and all are viewed with the rose coloured spectacles of time and drinking too much wine together. Then we sing a silly song, candles get blown, cake cut and shared, cheers are called. Its all good fun and life affirming. Im looking forward to another 12 months of the passing into 40 of those around me and I have to say Im looking forward to mine.

Saturday, October 24

bits and pieces

The Danish minister for climate and energy on a 13 km cycle through Copenhagen drumming up support for the 2009 Climate Conference in Copenhagen. Wishing our Climate Minister would take such a profile.

52 suburbs-photographic blog journey which will be through 52 suburbs in sydney. stunning and thoughtful images. Make a request!

a fantastic story in the NYT about new laws in Sweden which list on food labels carbon emissions generated in the production of packaged foods and new dietary recommendations there which account for carbon as well as health "eat carrots not tomatoes" "eat beans or chicken not beef". Amazing. progressive or too prescriptive? Thanks Annuska for the link. And while youre there check out this essay by novelist Johnathan Safran-Foer.

the daily green for good green news

check out the possibilities of what could be, on Brisbane foodconnect products page - meat, cheese, dairy AND fruit and veg delivered to you door from your local farmers and producers

some of these might turn a smile for someone, somewhere, or just make you feel fat or sick or both!

Got an old foosball table lying around and a team of old Barbies that you want to crucify?

and Ireland, has banned GE food/stuffs much to the dismay of the EU and the USA and Canada. Way to go!

Ahh, that feels better, cleared out a few half drafted and idea posts from my draftbox. What an easy way to do it! Hope you found something of interest in there. Have a great weekend.

an easy way to participate in todays 350 event

Didnt get your shit together for todays 350 event? No worries. All you need to take part in this 350 event is a camera and yourself!

The Alternative Technology Association (ATA), established in 1980, is Australia’s leading, independent member-based organisation providing practical advice and information to households on sustainable living technology and practice. ATA publishes both ReNew and Sanctuary magazines.

Our members are people who are walking the talk on sustainable living in their own homes.

To bring together members and supporters, from across Australia and New Zealand, ATA will be hosting an online event where people can share their images of sustainable living.

Over the coming weeks ATA will be gathering 350 photos of real people living sustainable lives to be uploaded to an online image gallery on October 24th, the Global Day of Action.

To join this living gallery, take a photo of yourself and your favourite sustainable living activity or technology. This could be anything from you on the roof with your solar panel system to growing your own veggies or riding/walking to work. Invite your friends and family to join you in documenting your favourite aspect of sustainable living at your place.

Email your high resolution jpgs to 350photos@ata.org.au
See www.ata.org.au for more details

...or just go sign the petition on the 350 link above.

Friday, October 23

Haiku Friday


my kitchen spaces
packed with tools, herbs and spices
creative places

Thursday, October 22

In my inbox this morning

et je t'aime aussi ma petite chouxcroute!

a message from 'the beloved'. Sweet, he knows I love it when he m'écrit en français (I have avoided all deconstruction, Freudian, feminist or francophile thus far and just let my self love it) but has The Bloke just plain got it wrong this time? or is he acknowledging with the most delicious double entendre, my gastronomique proclivities?

Wednesday, October 21

Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff) speaks





remembering the happy meat

Its taken a while to eliminate a lot of my old habits but I have noticed over the last 6 months or so that my unconscious brain has moved over into accepting full happy meat consciousness. I now remember to search out the vegetarian dishes when Im dining out; no proscuittto on my pizzas, no chicken in my past sauce, no prawns, not a lot of fish. Its taken a while to accept this as I am definitely a meat lover by nature but i just cant do it anymore. Not from a happy meat point of view or a human population health point of view. Its happy meat or its the vegetarian option. Actually if I was a vegetarian it would have been alot easier to remember; the full monty would be with you always. So i have found that the trick is to pick the right place for anticipated failure. Japanese is good, so is Italian and Indian, well Thai too. All the eating out vegetarian options are really tasty if they dont do happy meals. As a meat eater, doing veg when Im out has been very very difficult but its really just taken a shift in how i think about it. No longer do i go 'nooo' carbonara is what i want! i reframe from 'Im missing out' to 'i can do this', be Big and do the right thing and retrain my brain to think it can all be delicious without the meat. Anchovies have been known to save me from despair!

As I have become more diliget about it, the BBQ chicken pizza loving B1 has been known to object, not taking to it to well (especially when olives are present to ruin the WHOLE thing) but she is coping and she understands the reasons. It sounds fanatical , I cant quite believe Im 'one of them', Im usually all for putting the stomach first but Im finding that harder and harder to do as my knowledge has increased over the years. Ive been good for a long time on buying happy meat for home consumption but eating out has always been my downfall. So what's next for me is to start asking if the chicken/pork is free range or if there is a free range option when Im out. I have resisted this tactic as i know damn well its not, but its like the whole smoking in public places thing. If people didnt start asking to sit in non-smoking sections in restaurants, societies attitudes would have taken a lot longer to change. You have to market the idea, one individual at a time and at all points of sale, not just the butcher. Remember life before real vegetarian options? A pineapple ring, a half a canned peach and some ricotta cheese set in the abyss. That used to be the veetarian dining out alternative. It had to start somewhere. Self as one-woman happy meat consciousness raising and marketing campaign.
Sigh. Then there's the unhappy cheese on the pizza...no wonder we dont eat out often!

I came across this blog postyesterday, its easy to read and informative so I thought a cross post would be simplest( my brain is otherwise occupied). or you can cut straight to the Farmacology article here. Anyone out there still eating intensively farmed meat? Thinking about switiching? Why? Why not?

Tuesday, October 20

back 'crack'


it went yesterday morning, bouncing on the trampoline with the bean, I was even on my knees and just picked him up for a cuddle and 'crack' i couldnt move. Stuck on the tramp, one arm around the boy, one arm clutching(as well as you can clutch your back with an arm), calling feebly to the Bloke without wanting to sound a) either too hysterical b) to needy and c) without the neighbourhood coming to the rescue (small valley, noise travels).Fuck. Serious pain. Bloke finally arrives, takes bean, i crawl off. I can bend, just cant get upright. 'Walk' into house like a wizened old lady with a bad case of osteoporosis, hands on kness. Not quite ready to admit middle age. Fuck. Back issues hppen to other people not me. The really bad bit was yesterday was the first glorious day we've had in weeks/months. Sunny, balmy, warm. I had been looking forward to a day in the garden.

The upside of spending a whole day lying on my back in various locations was i got to read a whole book that i had been meaning to get onto for a while. Fab. That bean really is an angel child- he played happily all day just coming over every now and then for a story or a kiss (he's still bestowing us with lovely, breathy wet '0's)or a babble-chat. A whole book in a day with a kid! Fucking amazing! the big bloke was working in the garden and just took The Bean away for meals and nappy replacements. Not a bad day really if i think about it. I joked with the Bloke about 'doing my back' to get out of some you-know-what, but maybe 'doing my back', wink, to get some reading time isnt a bad way to go! Julie and Julia was a good light read and really, how can a book about food and blogging be anything but enjoyable? "Fuck" played a greater role in the book than the movie which was inspiring. Julie came across as way to sweet in the movie. Additionally, I managed to wrangle a beanbag (well, a lentil bag really) for the bean out of the torn leg of a pair of my pajama pants, stitched by hand as Im not 'sewy' and have no modern machine to speak of (besides I was on my back, cant see what youre doing on a pedal machine when ya on ya back!). Well, the Bloke has a machine, an old black cast iron job from like circa 1850. Maybe I'll take it for a spin one day. Only four more to go, but if the backs better, it may be awhile...

Monday, October 19

tile dreaming


If small squares of glass could embody all that I find appealling, these tiles are 'it'. I love them; earthy, cool yet warm, full of deep sea myths and mossy boughs.
We faced a bit of a dilemma with the building of the studio in the garden; a space where the teens could go hang out and be noisy without us spoilsports telling them to 'Ssssshhh alright' all the time, where i had a space to make a creative mess and LEAVE IT OUT (nice right?) and a place where we could retreat to in winter and have some sunny and bright living space. Although our house is lovely with a great view, it sits in the bottom of a small valley and in winter can be quite dark and just a little cool!
As the planning and building evolved we constantly faced the dilemma of under or over capitalising "if we're spending money on a roof and walls then maybe we should try and keep it warm? if its got a roof lets put solar on it, if its warm in there maybe we should include some more floor area, if its that big we can put in a sink, if theres a sink we may as well have some lights, if theres lights we can put in some couches....' so we put in the light, the sink, the solar, the couches. We scrimped on the couches (new covers on op-shop finds that I have been lugging around with me for years) the sink (cheap reject) the floor (old Greenpeace newspaper cuttings on ply), spent big on the bi-fold windows and deck and the last job, the tiling behind the sink was giving us grief. Nice seconds were hard to find and I got picky until i found these. We both loved them so much we forgot to ask how much they were when we ordered them, i mean just how dumb is that? but after towing a kid around tile shops and you find just the ones you just think Hoo-bloody-rah! and go with it.
Ouch.
Finally the space is ready.

Sunday, October 18

Michael Pollan Talks- Bioneers conference

If you've ever wanted to hear Michael Pollan (In defense of food and The Omnivores Dilemma fame) talk and not had the chance, here it is. A live recording from the Bioneers conference held in San Raphael, California this weekend. This is Mr Pollans Plenary address where he adressess issues around the industrialised food system. Enjoy, and have a look at some of the other conference presentations while you're there.

Saturday, October 17

chorizo and eggs


Isnt it pretty? I've been meaning to have a go at the chorizo for a week or two. The pantry, which smelled of fermenting garlic and meat when they were first hung, now has a sweet yeasty smell from the carrot and citrus wine that is blurping away in the demi-john. So its all good in there. Its not the smell thats distracting me from the sausage, its the fuzz. There's been not much more growth of mould in the last few weeks but I keep reading about the killer sausage (did you know that botulism is actually the latin term for sausage! - its a hard one to get your head around) and the statistic that 25 people died from foodborne botulism in the US last year, mainly from home canned goods but you dont read about people freaking out about the dangers of home preserving do you? and 25 in, oh what..305 million billion people well, that wont even compute sensbly on my desktop calculator!

The risks are there eating homemade salume or charcuterie made without the nitrites, but like home birth, me thinks that the risks are present, but if you follow advice sensibly then the risks are minimised; thats life. So with lots of mental gymnastics about musculoskeletal paralysis behind me and some sensible approaches, i peeled off the casing from the sausage, and hence with it the fuzz, inspected the casing and the sausage for mould penetration and meat spoilage, decided that it looked good and that it was completely superficial.
The chorizo texture was moist and crumbly which is so different to the salami which had the same meats just different herbs and spices, amazing that it should make such a difference, it smelt good (garlicky and sweet) and so I sliced some off, inspected it again and threw it in a pan. Botulism bacteria dies at 60 for 10 so frying it in a pan to accompany eggs should nuke any hiding botu bugs. Im such a chicken.
I must say it was the most stressful brunch i have ever had but it tasted great! The 10 cloves of minced garlic came through! and it wasnt to hot and spicy to overwhelm the other flavours.
Taste wise, 8/10. Health wise, we wait and see but my stomach is feeling a little weird and Im hoping its 100% psychosomatic!
But, can i just say that a meal with homegrown eggs(not mine), home grown kale, homemade wild meat chorizo and local olive bread was for this loca vore, pure and simple delight!

Friday, October 16

food connect

For all you in adelaide, here's a link to the FoodConnect webiste where you can read up about Food Connect, CSAs, place an expression of interest in helping the organisation, becoming a drop off point for CSA boxes, subscribe to their newsletter and recieve updates on progress.

Thursday, October 15

Haiku Friday



the power of one
to wake up and take a stand.
our beds are burning.

Wednesday, October 14

Im so excited. CSAs have finally arrived!

Im so excited i dont even know where to begin this post. OK all you Adelaide Taurus Rising readers. Time to come out of the woodwork. Time to support the local food movement! CSAs are coming to town!
CSA (community shared agriculture) is a grass roots food movement (Google it) and food production and distribution system that has been practiced in the USA and canada for years and is a relative newcomer to the Australian food market. CSAs have been operating in the lush regions of NSW and QLD for a few years but none so far have operated in Adelaide.

Essentially, a CSA works on the consumer 'purchasing' in advance a committment to buy produce from a group of local farmers for their weekly fruit and vegetable needs. Its like a share system, investing directly in the primary producer. If youre interested in helping to set up this system - becoming a 'city cousin' (the person with some city responsibility to pack or distribute the goods) then this meeting is for you. Attending and giving a workshop on the finer details of CSA with growers and customers will be Robert Pekin, founder of Food Connect (Brisbane)

Main Hall, Clarence Park Community Centre
72-74 East Ave, Black Forest, Adelaide
sunday, November 1
1.30pm - 5.45
Afternoon tea will be provided.

To RSVP and for more information contact Sally Fisher info@foodconnectadelaide.com.au by 28/10/09

Help make sustainable and local food sytems prosper and help our local food and consumer communities connect, flourish and grow. See you there or comment me and we can go together!

primary bread person

The boybean and the Bloke have a fantastic relationship. Thats good. In fact its great, fantastic, wonderful, precious. It's so special to watch those two play; the bean squeals, cuddles, kisses, blows rasperries, hides, talks, all with an incredible sparkle in his eye when he looks at his Dad to check out if his behaviour and actions are pleasing. Its a revelation to me that look. Dads 'It'. The Main Man. Mr Love. When we're all together, he chooses Dad when he's fallen over and banged his head, when he wants a story or to play a game. I didnt realise I could feel this conflicted over two peoples love for each other. When I kissed them both goodbye this morning, having fun at breakfast with books and jokes and the bean pre-empted my departure with a wave, a finger point to the back door and a broom broom noise, my heart fell out and rolled across the floor. I came to work this morning with a rather bitter taste in my mouth. Primary bread winning, although it gives me a whole lot of intellectual freedom and exercise and some decent dosh, is making my heart just a little sore.

Tuesday, October 13

water bog



remember this?...

well, its amazing what can happen when you take a small kid out for an afternoon!!

it can turn a house bound, stay-at-home dad into a digging maniac and you return to it looking like this! Not a bit of black plastic in sight, edged in a rather rather naff style and complete with drooping, replanted rhubarb (which he assures me love a boggy patch) and some native water grasses.



The idea is that all the 'grey water' run off from the studio (anticipated to be not very much; some handwashing from doing gardening, art, vege cleaning, small amounts of dishes washed with phosphate free, grey water friendly 'detergent' will be collected heree as the pipe feeds directly into the 'bog'. If I can ensure the runoff water is 'clean' enough Im hoping a family or two of frogs will move in (and that we can eat the rhubarb).

If you've got some expereince with artificial bogs like this, Id love some hints. Next project are some gates on the deck! Those old Greenpeace 'Save the Whale' signs that we religiously slot in and out of the decking are driving me crazy!

Monday, October 12

of land and labour

peel your carrots and potatoes?

toss out bread crusts?

throw out processed food thats just gone past its 'use by date'?

dont plan weekly meals or have no real idea whats in your food stores ?

choose takeout once a week?

dont care about food waste?

Bad news. Chances are you're contributing to the staggering estimte that a whole quarter of the worlds food supplies is wasted annually. Thats not including the costs of the waste of water used to grow it, the enery used to produce it, transport and store it and the loss of quality and literally lives to those denied it. I have a new favourite quote, it comes from John Locke, a 17th century political/social philosopher.

But if they perished in his posession, without their due use; if the fruits rotted, the venison putrified, before he cold spend it, he offended against the common law of nature, and was liable to be punished...if either the grass of his enclosure rotted on the ground or the fruit of his planting perished without gathering and laying up, this part of the earth, not withstanding his enclosure, was still to be looked on as waste and might be the posession of any other...

He was only to look, that he used them before they spoiled, else he took more than his share, and robbed others. And indeed it was a foolish thing, as well as dishonest, to hoard up more than he could make use of. If he gave away part to anybody else, so that it perished not uselessly in his posession, these he also made use of. And if he bartered away plums, that would have rotted away in a week, for nuts that would last good for his eating a whole year, he did no injury; he wasted not the common stock; destroyed no portion of goods that belonged to others, so long as nothing perished uselessly in his hands...the exceeding of the bounds of his just property not lying in the largeness of his posession, but the perishing of anything uselesly in it.

John Locke, Second Treatise of Government (1690),v.37-38,46

Sunday, October 11

was I being dramatic?


...just a bit. But i took your advice yesterday and today and it feels good. I overcame a huge theoretical hurdle that i have been avoiding for oh, just a few years and didnt feel so bad about missing out on the gardening. I did get out and water a few new seedlings, planted out some radiccio and tomatoes that were getting ahead and generally hung out with the boybean in between storming my way through a chapter.I have to say, this outlook on a sunny day can get me sitting in front of my laptop anytime...
Somehow, in between, we managed a leisurely afternoon tea with the Gnomes who were visiting for the first racking of the 'TRMG' carrot and citrus wine we are making as a joint venture and somehow, the leftover waffles that B2 made for breakfast (doh! she made a recipe for 6 when only 2 were at home to potentially eat waffles) morphed into a waffle, redcurrant and orange 'bread and butter' pudding to share. We are hoping the wine is ready for Christmas consumption. So far, so good.

Saturday, October 10

GreenBean awakening

This post by Green Bean over at the The Green Phonebooth really struck a chord this week. Ive been feeling rather disinterested with all things indoors. I need to get out; stretch, walk, run, feel the sun on my skin and blood coursing my veins. Sadly, Im even more stuck at a desk, finishing off the last dying throes of my dissertation. I should be done in 12 weeks all going to plan. I just want to get outdoors and dig, play in the sun and the sand, focus on my business and get excited, plan the future, start sailing, prepare for Kel and Si's Big Adventure, downsize, get chickens, make cheese, fire up the pizza oven, have parties, learn new stuff.

Instead, Im stuck on a computer, 8 hours a day, longingly looking outside as the weather improves but having to generate numbers and write text. Im really gearing up for a sea change, literally. Sitting at a desk most days, crunching numbers on the pc with a bit of teaching disgruntled dental students and stressing about the next research grant is not really where i want my life to be in 10 years time. Something has changed in the last few years, I really used to love my job but I feel Im gearing up for a shift. I dont think its just PhD blues. Maybe it is? Anyone out there felt like this? followed their dreams and ousted a career they'd spent years developing? How'd it turn out? How scary was it? It this just my mid life crisis?

Friday, October 9

Haiku Friday


referenced by longing,
a mind, a heart, a soul, can
reach for dreams and grow.

Thursday, October 8

living feral


Can you spot whats so very wrong about this picture? We did, half way through our 'romantic' dinner for two last night as the girls were away with their Grandma. Yay Grandma! All organised by the Bloke. Nice.

Local fish, garden salad, champagne, music, candles...teeth?
Living with kids, life takes on that extra feral edge.

Wednesday, October 7

Just call me Molly Malone


My love of free food, wild food, foraged food, happy food is well known to you who read this Blog. Its something deep within me, a wonderful a sense of connection with nature, the environment, with the continium that is 'My Life'. I love it. One thing I look forward to each year is the start of Cockle season; November 1 here in South Australia. Over the past few years, cockle sizes have been diminishing and a shorter cockle season for the professionals last year was ordered in the hope of boosting both size and numbers of this years harvests. Im looking forward to seeing the impact of this shorter season.

I go 'hunting' cockles at Middleton, 'Cockle beach', where the Cockle train passes by with its puffing and choo-choo'ing, it makes for a lovely day. I thought, why look forward to this wonderful beginning with just my family? Is anyone interested in a Blog Cockle hunt sometime in November? I thought we could meet at the beach on a nice sunny day, 'hunt' cockles and then head back to 'our' beach house for some homemade fettucine alla Vongole or Chorizo and Vongole paella and then make our ways back to our respective city homes, beachy, salty, sandy and happy with a bucket or two of freshly collected cockles.

Tuesday, October 6

feeling rather enamoured with...

...life as describe by Belgian Waffle. Im not really the cynic at heart, Im an 'optimistic soul' but there are philosophical depths i tend not to explore here. I kind of feel i do enough hard mental work in my paid working hours and enjoy the lightness of debriefing about the other side of me on here. Sometimes i feel 'lightweight', like I should be all philosophy and contemporary political opinion but I figure thats what I read other blogs for! To fulfill that side of me that is feminist thinking and politically deconstructive. Sometimes my mind explodes with too much information that I cant process and write.

Over time I have dealt with my fair share of mental health issues, been at the brink of despair; Ive had moments where i have felt that life is not quite worth living at times, understood those who wanted to end it all, even with children. Im not there now, but I do 'get' the darker side, I appreciate and empathise with people's depths and I really do love a good dose of cynicism. Im a Black Books kinda girl. But right now, Im feeling rather grateful for,

:: the hour every morning I spend with my man and my boy just rolling around on our bed at dawn, playing, blowing rasberries, giving and recieving big boy and little boy cuddles, reading books, reading books, reading books and testing out a very small persons new language skills. Its such a wonderful hour.

:: the chance to have a new life, a loving life, an expansive , 'give it a shot' life

:: the opportunity to view myself froma different perspective, to have a whole new self paradigm.

:: the chance to reconnect with family

:: new friendships

:: the ability to think outside the square and view life from many angles

:: to see opportunity where i may not have in the past

:: to experience life , to know pain and sorrow and to really know that I can cope and manage on my own and live and love even when it feels like life is ending

:: to have choice

::to have knowledge, an education, space and time

::to have land to use and water to run

:: teenage daughters who give as good as they get, argue, call themselves feminist and want to win the lottery so they can spread the feminist word ( i did remind them that you dont need mney to be a feminist! but they arued it could do more work, further afield, for longer...)

:: to have food and wine and love and laughter

:: to have stability and peace in my life. A precious, very precious luxury

Im feeling rather appreciative at the moment.

Monday, October 5

wild boar salami update - we're still alive!

To follow up my salami post from a few weeks back, heres an update on its progress. The salami has lost about 30% of its weight (mositure loss) and that's the recommended minimum wait time for eating, that and 3-4 weeks as an alternative criteria. Heres what it looked like the day it was made. My date for sampling filled both criteria. Problem solved. Time to try!

As you can see from the pic below and a little in the pic above, the mould is blooming; the white chalky, dry looking 'good' mould. The jury seems out in general on the topic of mould in the salumi blogsphere: some say all fuzzy mould is bad and some say greeny-blue mould and some brown and black mould is just fine and its the red mould to look out for and avoid. Its very confusing. Im thinking mouldy salami is bit like homebirth- lots of fear around it based on the notion of 'sterile' and 'safety' and when you do the research its actually a different story... So Im not going to do what alot of the online and American sausage writers do, chuck it out! (yes, theres a whole sausage community out there) I will do some more research and decide. The European sausage makers who blog all seems rather enamoured with the flavour enancing qualities of a good bloom like this one and check this green salami out, it'sfor sale!. I figure Im in good company with a couple of thousand years of tradition...

So, Im just watching those few sausages which are happily growing the fuzzier stuff and will check for mould 'roots' which spread from the surface to the interior and decide from there.
We cracked the first salami and the duck proscuitto at our wine making afternoon with The Gnomes. Post on that to come. We all actually woke up the next day, alive and its a good thing too coz the salami and duck 'proscuitto' (eaten with last seasons pickled figs) were delicious and I'd hate to waste it. So im feeling pretty chuffed so far with my first foray into charcuterie and extra happy when i saw wild boar salami selling for $60 a stick!

Saturday, October 3

liquid gold


If you need one good reason to buy a duck, besides being tasty, sustainable and low impact happy meat, this is it. Duck fat. Liquid gold! Think potatoes. Fried golden crispy potatoes done in the oven or in a pan. Think the best potatoes you'll ever taste. Dont think of your arteries. This fat imparts an incredibly rich and rounded flavour to the potatoes, not at all greasy nor 'ducky'.

Duck fat is very easy to render out from duck skin. Just put chopped duck skin and excess fat trimmed from the bird in a pan and shallow fry on a medium heat for about 20 minutes. All the fat will render out from the skin and leave you with molten gold in a pan as well as lots of 'quackling'; crispy duck skin fried in its own fat. Oh my god. It all sounds soooo bad for you!
When the skin pieces hit a deep brown and become really crispy, remove them and then drain the slightly cooled fat through a sieve into a storage container and refridgerate. It keeps well for quite a few months and can probably be frozen. While youre rendering out the fat, you may as well stick the duck carcass in big pot with some of those vegetable trimmings that you stash in a bag in the freezer and some seasoning and make stock, right?



So heres what you can get from a duck:
:: a meal for 4 using the meat (2 legs, one breast)
:: one duck breast proscuitto, enough for 8
:: enough duck fat for roast potatoes for 8
:: 6-8 litres of duck stock
:: quackling

An amazing amount of goodness from a small bird. The boybean was quite partial to a bit of quackling, having discovered them for himself when he climbed up to the benchtop. He must have eaten, ohh about ten of these tasty morsels before i intervened. The crispy rendered duck bum i fed to the cat.

Friday, October 2

Haiku Friday


driving this morning,
I forgot which foot did what.
Three pedals, no clue.

Thursday, October 1

food waste

Tristam Stuarts book Waste is currently under review and living on my bedside table. I havenet read for months (you may have noticed my currently reading links have not been updated for a while!) as I have been busy with my business and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall during my normal reading hours! I was going to finish reading the book and write a review before I posted anything about it, but the pics on the Waste website i find are just so telling and interesting that I thought Id provide a link for those who are interested. Some of those displays look just like our weekly veg shop! Why food waste is so passionate a concept to me i have no idea. Food politics in general just gets my juices flowing. You?