It has been a while…

It has indeed been a little while since I last posted. I have been tied up, mostly with my own mind I would say. I can blame work, projects, study, the rubbish personal politics around, even the death of a good friend but at the end of the day it has been me that has been the issue.

Over this weekend I have been at a stone carving course. Learning to cut stone basins and to carve the local basalt rocks. I have found that the act of working with such a medium has forced my mind to slow down. It is slow medium and takes lots of work get a result but once you have it… well it will be there most likely longer than me.  

While traveling up to the town I was doing the course in on the Saturday I had time to think about the current wave of fear surrounding global finances. And I noted that I have been dealing with it in the wrong way. I have been short with family and friends, unduly worried about the rubbish personality based politics that goes with any work place and just generally living in low level of fear and stress as I get a lot of other people are doing.

My thoughts slowly crystalized over the day as I worked on the stone and as I left a little earlier than the finish time to travel the hour and a half back to take my family to a three year old party in Melbourne I noted a small place near where the course was being run.

It was more a shed than a house but had good stream of smoke coming out of the chimney and warm glow coming out of the window. I don’t know if this was small holiday place or if someone lived there permanently but I had minor epiphany. All the fear of losing the house and my ‘life style’ all the concerns over job and the future seemed that little bit less important. The important thing was having a good life and most importantly having my family and friends around me. Living the life, rather than existing through it. In the end if it all turned pear shaped at work and I ended up in such a place but with my family and friends around me that would not be so bad now would it?

It should not have taken so long for me to rethink this. I have plenty of good friends including my friend Libby at http://www.libby-cooks.com/ who have made choices to go against the grain and to travel a different path for themselves and their family. Hell I used to pride myself on traveling the path less traveled.

Over time I have drifted in with the herd and in the last few weeks in particular I have become nervous and anxious like the rest of the poor spooked beasts.

So back to living a life and back to living up to what I say. Thanks for indulging me this short post and expect a few more on topic posts starting tomorrow.

Oh and I am pretty happy with the outcome of the carving weekend as shown below. Thanks to A. and my parents who looked after the kids over the weekend and indulged me in this.

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The land of milk and honey

A. is on a local contact list that is run by one of the local young ladies in the area. I am not always a fan of these groups as they can easily lead to some serious cliqueness and an almost elitism attitude in people. To her credit this young lady has done a fantastic job of running the group.  Having met her she is very down to earth and easy going which I am sure helps. While I am interested in the list it is primarily a women’s list which has probably worked out better and allowed for the socialising that has been destroyed by the modern world. So far it is a success with A. pointing out new stuff that she thinks might be of interest and generally getting to interact with the local community.

The notices range from people with excess olives, lemons (A. put out a request for bottle for her wall) and the other day with a local person whose retired father is backyard producer of honey in a suburb not far from here.

A. asked would we like to buy some?

Hell yes put us down for a couple of kilograms was my response. I am working on honey mead and fruit and honey mead at the moment at the worst I can make it into that was my thought.

The pickup was an honesty system which I am fond off as we used to have them up country all the time. They indicate a sense of community so basically grab the honey, cross your name of the list and put the money under the door. At $7 per kg it is a bit more expensive than the supermarket honey and bit cheaper than the local produced ‘bee sustainable honey’ we purchase nearby.

Today my daughter asked can I have red jam please? Pointing at the honey.

So we had local honey and sourdough bread for breakfast. A nice strong coffee for me and a little bit of mascarpone on my bread then some of the honey, my daughter just went for honey and bread and some milk in ‘her size glass’

They honey was very tasty. Filled with flavours from eucalyptus trees and a real mix of other flavours. Just what you would expect from honey in semi urbane environment near a creek and parkland covered in native trees.

Destined to be eaten not end up as mead (although I may get some more for making homemade pear and honey mead)

As you all know I personally think we need to have more of this sort of thing. I have written in the post The Cheese Coop that this is the sort of think we as society need to get back to. In this case there was real win, win for all. 20 odd people get great and very, very fresh produce. The bee keeper gets some spare cash in his retirement, the people in his local area and the bush gets pollination from bees, the community gets together just a little more and the poor old earth gets a break with the honey not being transported half way across the world.

We can’t do this for everything, some things have to be monocultured in large volume. Some things are better shipped in than produced locally some things won’t grow locally. Where they can and it is better for the world, then we should support the local production

OK and someone did lose out. The big supermarkets. But hey that is a good thing too.

And me I get to eat a simple tasty breakfast with my gorgeous daughter. What more could I ask for?

The weekend contrast.

So I am sitting here eating some of the excellent unpasteurised romano goats cheese we get from our local cheese coop with my mother’s pear paste on it and contemplating our weekend just gone.

As often happens we had a busy weekend. And it was a weekend of contrast as they often are with moments of simple locavore eating to visiting a high end Japanese restaurant.

It started simply enough with homemade pancakes. I have never understood why people buy pancake shaker mixes. After all 1 cup of self raising flour, 1 cup of milk and an egg mixed together and left for 20 minutes can’t be to hard. The tricks are to leave it for 20 to 30 minutes to bubble then make sure you use a little butter to fry it in. Yes you can use a little oil if you want but for the best pancakes you need that buttery goodness.

Slather them in good Canadian maple syrup and some of our home made chestnut paste, scoop of ice-cream and good cup of coffee and you have a fairly expensive cafe breakfast for next to nothing and faster than you can drive and then park and line up for a table at the cafe.

We had a busy day on the Saturday,  the plants for the winter veggie bed are going in with us being away the next day we had to get as much as we could of the normal weekend done.

However in the evening I hit a little snag. A. is still gathering bottles for her bottle wall so off course my neighbour and I are ‘forcing’ ourselves through drinking anything that happens to have a nice bottle. At the moment it a battle between the cointreau and the Bombay sapphire gin. So after a few cointreau with ice at his place I made the rash promise ‘oh yeah come on over and have some home cured bacon for dinner’ be done in about 30 minutes…

Ok so half cut and dinner to make. Thought about simple bacon and eggs but then noticed the selection of stuff in the fridge from the ceres box and thought oven baked omelette I can do this. Just hand me another drink…

So I whipped up the omelette(recipe at the bottom of the post), some home cured bacon (another post)and a nice big green salad. A side of A.’s sourdough and not bad for dinner at all.

On the Sunday we headed up Daylesford which is a spa town in the high country about an hour and half from Melbourne. It is a pretty place and I know if well having gone to high school there when it was just another poor red neck town. This was long before it became the trendy day trip from Melbourne. The trip was eventful with lots of people selling their wares via honesty boxes along the side of the road. Unlike many of the honesty boxes I grew up around these where a little over priced and I am guessing aimed at the day tripping city folk. Hey can’t blame them for trying.

The restaurant was a Japanese fusion restaurant and as A. and I have spent a bit of time in Japan so we were interested in what their take on the food would be.

Even though the restaurant had rated very highly in its reviews we where both underwhelmed to be honest.  Food was ok, service poor it just didn’t work for the two of us. However it was full and people seemed to enjoying themselves so maybe it was just us. For the money I would say people should pay a little bit more and go to the excellent Kobe Jones in Melbourne much better value for money. Great for a special occasion.

The day was good though spent with A.’s family the kids played with their cousins, that adults and. A. drank a ton of the plum sake (that was good). I had a nice local pilsner ale. Life can’t be too bad.

Afterwards we headed to the Chocolate mill which was very cool and well worth a visit if you are in the area. I recommend the hot chocolate with chilli on a cold day. A. also got to look at some bottle walls they had added to the building allowing her to see the finished designs in a building and what she would like to do and not do.

On the way out we looked at the community garden. I can’t believe how much Daylesford has changed in the 25 years since I went to high school there. This is a great piece of work the community garden and they should be justly proud of this thing they have created. As I drove out via the route our old school bus travelled all those years ago and saw the turbines of the two windmills I was already preparing a post in my head on how this town has changed. The pros and the cons of these changes because there always are pros and cons. More on that later.

The final part of the weekend was visit to my parents place. Just a quick visit as we were quite close to my parents place they like to see the kids and all I have to hear is ‘PAAAAA…’ as my daughter ran to her grandfather and  gave him a big hug to know that this was the exactly the right thing to do. Family is the most important thing in the world

As I sat and ate a simple dumpling soup my mother had made I must admit that as uncool as it is I liked this simple meal a lot better than the Japanese.

Yep my life is hard … better hand me another bit of that cheese and pear paste to tide me over.

Have a great rest of the week all.

 Recipe for drunken baked omelette.

  • One large onion
  • 4-5 gloves of garlic crushed (as much as you want really)
  • 1 Red or green capsicum/sweet pepper
  • Some bacon fat and/or a bit of vegetable oil
  • Handful of mushrooms quartered
  • Handful of small tomatoes quartered
  • Handful of spinach leaves
  • Cup of milk
  • 10 eggs
  • ½ cup of crated parmesan cheese
  • Teaspoon of fresh ground chilli
  • Salt and pepper

In large enamelled or heavy base frypan that you can put in an oven or under a grill fry the bacon fat/oil onion, garlic, capsicum till just softening. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and when they are cooked throw on the spinach leaves till wilt and add the chilli. Stir through

While the other ingredients are cooking mix eggs and milk with salt and pepper to taste with a fork till a little frothy.

Once the spinach has wilted add the egg mix has cooked for about 4 minutes then sprinkle parmesan (or another cheese) on top and put in a preheated hot oven for around 15 minutes or until eggs are cooked through. Serve with a nice green salad, some fried bacon and bread.

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