Practical Change

So I have been a bit quiet of late on this blog. There are many reasons as I have discussed previously the most important one has been work and doing the urban hippy life rather than writing about it.

I have been time poor and have had to focus on priorities and while I have thought of many posts and have wanted to start them on many occasions the lack of time and energy due to other things has prevailed. I would rather cook the home made meal for the family from the garden even if that means no time to post about it.

Work is always in the way it is a grind but as I sat in traffic the other day thinking about a post bitching about putting on white shirt of the corporate slave etc etc. It occurred to me how lucky in so many ways I am. It would not be an inaccurate claim that 4 -5 billion people on this planet would most likely swap their lives of poverty and boredom in heartbeat for the one I live. So I need to get that monkey off my back it appears.

The title of this post is practice change. I read a lot and I am on a number of email groups based around change, transition, permaculture etc.

All have valid points of view but to me the essence of the change has to come from me as well. If I am not changing then how can I expect anyone else to change? The change needs to be at the root level. I was at a seminar with David Holmsgen one of the founders of permaculture and he described how we need people to come across to a change because it is better for them. It is a better life style, better for the world but primarily better for them.

So how to do this well in the last few weeks I have learnt to make salami and planted seeds traded eggs for services.

I have also shown how good organic home dry cured bacon tastes compared to the commercial stuff and inspired a few people to try making it (sorry Libby your curing salt will be n the post this weekend) I have also show a work colleague the value of gardening sometimes it is just about showing that items that you just can’t get normally can be sourced via a bit of work.

In this case it was kale. The lady is Irish and they apparently eat a ton of it in Ireland and love it but she could never seem to find it here in the supermarket. So I potted up one which is doing ok but not producing and this has inspired her now to look at vegetable garden. So if everyone blogging was able to make just one of these changes then things would pretty damn fast.

You can get some change by making people feel guilty, you can get more by being an example and you will get a hell of a lot more by the process of people seeing that what is in it for them has value. Self interest does hold value. Rightly or wrongly.

So this morning as I have a bit extra, I picked some kale for her and brought it to work just to reminder my colleague why she needs that garden.

Onward I will post when I can about what I can when I am not doing the change so if I am away for a little while sorry but it cannot be helped getting the practical stuff done.


Nettle soup and A little urban foraging not wasting the world away

I like doing a good bit of foraging and colleting stuff. One of my pet hates is seeing stuff that could be used for something being thrown away and ending up in land fill and then seeing people purchase something new that takes yet more from a world that can ill afford it. Mind you I have been banned from hard rubbish days for the time being until I use up what I have already rescued.

I have been looking for some additional pallets to put up some shelves in the back shed and happened to notice a good batch of them at favourite haunt. I use pallets all the time and keep a good stock to allow me to make things like the warm bed I made recemtly for my seedlings, so I grabbed them and will build the shelves and post on that and other projects shortly.

Also managed to get a hold of a nice big bag of nettles to make soup. For those of you who have never had nettles give it a try. It tastes fantastic is cheap and very very good for you. Be careful obviously that you know where you nettles come from just to make sure that they have not been sprayed.

Using these sorts of things in simple meals makes a big difference. We waste so much spraying out so called weeds to plant other plants and as I have said a frugal life has to become the norm in the 1st world as it is in the 3rd world. At the end of the day we all live in one world.

As for the nettles if I can get some more I am going to make pesto with some local hazelnuts I have

Recipe for Nettle Soup

  • Big bag of young nettles
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 -8 garlic cloves to taste
  • 3 potatoes (I used Dutch creams)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 liters of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • cream to taste when serving (optional)

Dice onions and potatoes and crush garlic sauté in olive oil for a few minutes.

Strip the leaves of the nettles (warning they bite) I use scissors to remove the leaves and wash in cold water if there is any dirt on them

Add to the pan with the other vegetables and wilt then add 2 liters of stock and cook for 20 minutes or so till potatoes is soft. Cool and puree with a stick blender. Reheat and serve with cream and cracked black pepper.

The soup will freeze well but don’t add the cream till you warm it up

(Note : I made a mistake and started with too small a pan which is why you see two pots in the photo’s next time I would just use the big pot)

Scones and getting stuff done

So I have a habit a bad one, well actually a bad two (well actually a lot but I am only talking about two today).

1. I tend not to start stuff and to procrastinate on things rather than getting into them


2. I tend to get 95% of things done and not finish the last 5%.

The thought occurred to me as I was making my first ever batch of scones. I have always been daunted for some reason by scones. Perhaps it was the fact that the CWA always used to make the best scones at all the local shows I used to attend as a kid. Somehow I built them up in my mind as being difficult when in fact I have discovered they are very easy …

I have also noticed this has hit me with this blog. I have some ideas for a post and then seem to manage to put myself off writing it. To hard other things to do (what other things? Even I don’t know). Or I get started and get to within the last little bit and then manage to find reasons for not finalizing it.

So basically it is time for me to hard the …. up and get on with it. On that note the recipe for scones is as below.

Speak to you all a little more often I hope.

Basic Cheese Scones.

  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • ½ tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ cup of tasty cheese grated.
  • ¼ cup of parmesan grated.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 300ml of milk
  • 1 egg

Sift flour, sugar and salt together. Pinch in cheeses and butter till the flour mix resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add lightly whisked eggs and milk and combine. Turn out on floured surface and knead quickly (apparently too much kneading makes them tough). Roll dough to 1 inch thick and cut using a cutter. Place on greased tray in an pre heated oven at 220 degrees Celsius for 10 -12 minutes.

A pile of junk to some

The weekend was busy as it seems to always be (I need to go back to work some weeks for a break) . On top of the usual Saturday of visiting the farmers market and the food swap we visited friends who had had a baby. A. has been making quilts (and doing a fine job) and she had one for a gift. For us this has become a thing we do more often, making items ourselves or giving people locally made produce. It is nice that we can do this and we value what we give and hope people value what we give. The idea of just giving cheap mass produced stuff for the sake of stuff will have to end and we have started this now in our own little way.

We also had some family drama’s that lead me to travel back to the town I come from in the evening. Family is important to me as I have said before and this visit was important to me and I was grateful I had the chance but did leave me with many things to thinks about.

I think better on the move and had the luxury of doing so and living up to a couple of permaculture principles of Catch and store energy, & Produce no waste. I had been offered some second hand pavers 6 inch by 6 inch by 1 inch. A good size and they had about 1400 they wanted to get rid of.

The location was about 20 minutes away so I grabbed a trailer and headed up there. In a day including 4 hours having a break spent at a 3 year old party I moved by had 350 square feet of these pavers by hand and stacked them. The time spent doing this manual work allowed me to work though my thoughts.  This process is important to people and it is something that we don’t do often enough. My thoughts on my family and where it has come from and the things they have seen where in my mind. I didn’t come up with all of the answers but I got a good chance to think about it.

So what am I going to do with 350 square feet of pavers? Paths spring to mind. I have a few to put in and pavers will good as I can fill the gaps with herb seed and sand and grow some herbs in low traffic areas. The shed is due to be moved this spring and these will now mean that the compacted gravel will be a little more  user friendly with this as floor. I am also going to put them down in the base of the hot house to act as heat sink. Garden beds for the curb. Heaps of uses.

As I unloaded the last load of the pavers at 7:30pm in the cold I did wander why I was doing this for (A. voiced this as well) At the end of the day waste not want not these will get used and to me it feels good to reuse items rather than buying new things and having them made again. Concrete is like plastic something you want to buy as little as possible and reuse as often as you can. An interesting fact is that concrete is the second most used item by humanity after water. So my little reuse if practiced by everyone could have a decent impact.

But enough for one night the old office based muscles are feeling the strain a bit and time for sleep.

Of Procrastination and Soup

So I have started the tale of the trip I mentioned last post but for some reason I am suffering from a bit of procrastination. Some would call it writers block for me it is just plain old procrastination. Sometimes I just have to get into stuff to get going but at the moment I am going to have to wait for the phase to pass and get this tale told then.

Since we got back it has been a case of head down and sort out sick kids, works and life in general.

To keep it in perspective life has been pretty good I have managed to track down another window frame by the side of the road for the hot house I am building.  Planted some more beans, radishes and other veggies even managed to take off from work earlier to take my aunt from Austria to the airport (family is important to me)

When I got back one of the first things I did was to make up a big batch of homemade soup.  I am always amazed that people seem not to realise how easy it is to make soup and it put food on the table for 2 nights and a couple of lunches. Took about 20 minutes to make and an hour to simmer away and gets better each day.

My friend Libby at libby-cooks wrote about how hard it is to keep to the ethics of food and sorting out where it comes from and who or what is harmed in getting our daily bread (and other food groups) For me I find that making my own meals from as local or as ethical sourced base ingredients helps to keep me relativly sane trying to sort this out.

So for the rest of the week we at pretty well. One night we had a meal of the excellent broccoli  fritters I have made before and managed to cut and fry some of the bacon I made just prior to my trip (I was hanging out for this). Some of the Risonni and chorizo  Salads made from scratch, and this evening a very nice penne pasta made with bacon, leek and pumpkin.

All good simple food made from scratch most of the food came from our garden or the ceres box. Quick to make and all pretty good.

But back to that procrastination … yep looking at this list I have even less reasons to not have done that post… Oh well maybe tomorrow I will get it done…

Simple Soup

Sweat some carrots, celery, leek, 4 bay leaves, a bunch of flat parsley and an onion in some olive oil for about 10 minutes till soft but not browning. Add several crushed cloves of garlic and about 250 odd grams of smoked pork hock or bacon pieces. Drop in a can of chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 10 minutes stirring regularly. Add 2 litres of cold water salt and pepper to taste and 3 medium sized potatoes diced to about 2cm cubes, diced parsnip and a small diced turnip(any or no root vegetables are good). A bunch of kale or other greens (I used some Tuscan kale and Russian kale). Simmer for an hour or more and serve with rye bread and some of your favourite sliced or grated cheese. This soups stores well and is even better on day two or from frozen.

Bacon, leek and pumpkin penne

Finely chop 500 grams of pumpkin and steam or microwave in some water till very soft.

Fry 250 grams of thinly sliced bacon (I used thick cut homemade bacon) 2 small leeks in some oil.

While doing this cook half a packet or so of penne in some salted water (a bit more is fine this pasta sauce coats the penne beautifully)

Once the bacon and leek are just starting to brown add 2 crushed cloves of garlic and all of the drained pumpkin. Add 250 – 300 grams of tomato passata stir though and cook until the pumpkin has virtually dissolved down to a paste and mixed through. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss through the drained penne and stir till coated. Serve with grated parmesan (or not)