The Perfect Imperfect Fathers Day.

As most of you know I am wary of the tales that we tell as bloggers of all good and the shining light of our lives. It has been described as the ‘highlights’ version of life on facebook. People comparing their lives with all of its ups and down with the highlights people post on facebook. All ups and no downs all sun and roses.

It is not always so as we know.

For me I had a great father’s day. My wife took number three of to her sewing day and I was left with the other two. I cooked a magnificent roast of lamb while she was away (she cannot stand the smell of cooking lamb) baked bread, made two type of soup and had our neighbour over for dinner even got the new wicking bed in place and level.

bread wicking bed soup base

This is the sunny all light version.

I could mention that my five year old daughter made the most perfect and beautiful remark that it was lovely outside and ‘we should eat outside’. BUT then I would need to tell you that we ate inside because I caught them climbing over the safety glass and had to rescue them. Twice …

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I could tell you how they played like angels in the back yard… for a while until they found sticks and proceeded to pound on anything that didn’t move including my plants.

angels anddevils

I could tell you of the feeling of pride as my son and daughter taking the weeding I had done to feed the chickens and ducks but then having to stop my son from pulling out all of my garlic.

And at the end of it all I would have to tell you that on father’s day I spent more time yelling ‘ don’t do that’, ‘put it down’, ‘what are you doing’ and ‘go to your room’ than I heard I love you dad (although I did hear that from all of them a number of times 🙂 )

I am blessed in the urban hippie household and I don’t ever, ever forget it, but don’t have any illusions we have the same issues as everyone else.

I am behind in my diploma, more work than I can handle at the office (I come like a zombie) and the hybrid life style I lead means I haven’t even got all the seeds I need for the upcoming season planted.

Our lives are what they are ups and downs. Without the downs there is no contrast for the ups.

In the end all we have is time so just remember that and try to look at anyone selling ‘it is sunshine and roses all the time’ message from a blog or an article with a smallish grain of salt.

Speaking of salt see below for some gratuitous shots of the alchemy a leg of lamb, salt, pepper and herbs along with slow cooking will perform.

alchamy

Method.

Bring roast to room temperature, slice some holes and insert 3 or so cloves of garlic (you don’t need to peel them. Also make some holes and push in 2 -3 rosemary springs as far as you can. Rub the roast in olive oil then give it a liberal coating of good salt flakes (I use Maldon) and a good grind of black pepper. Roast in preheated oven at 240 degrees Celsius of 20 minutes then drop to 150 degrees Celsius and cook for 3 hours.

Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

pre-alchamy

 

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Organic Yep there is Fauna.

This is the non cool view of organic food. This is from my father and as you can see it is more than healthy.

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I found this when working out what I could make from what I had in the house . With A. staying home for 12 months for number 3 (more on that later) our budget is being pounded (however there is still a lot of fat in there to be honest compared to many) and we are living on what is in the house and what we have.

So we had a nice cabbage from my father and some cooked rice we had for dinner the night before with some left over curry. So my thought cabbage rolls.

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We did a big purchase of meat from a local farmer at the farmers market and some of the good bacon, a leek, and a few bits and pieces. Below is the recipe I used. So there was a meal for last night along with fresh bread just made and still warm.

This needs to be the philosophy for all, what you have, what is local, a few luxury items and not letting anything to go to waste.

Cabbage Rolls

For the rolls

  • 500 grams of mince
  • Leek finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 rashes of the good bacon diced
  • A cabbage cored and as leaves.
  • 2 -3 cups of rice
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs to bind
  • Bowl of iced water to quench the leaves.
  • 2 table spoons of passatta sauce.
  • Grated cheese.
  • ½ cup red wine
  • Bread crumbs

Sauce

  • Two cans of organic tomato. Buy European organic if you can (I know not local) as they have rules on BPA in the lining
  • ½ cup red wine
  • ½ cup of water
  • Table spoon of molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 bay leaves
  • A handful of perennial basil or other herbs (optional)
  • Teaspoon of chilli or to taste.

Fry up the bacon and leek and add the mince, cook till almost brown then add the garlic crushed for a further 2 minutes add the spices for a further 1 minute. Add the red wine and passatta. After 5 minutes add the cooked rice. Cook for a couple of minutes until mixed through. Drop into another bowl to cool.

IMG_3488-2000 IMG_3487-2000Blanch cabbage leaves 4 or so at a time for around 1 minute in lightly salted water. Refresh them in iced water and drain in a colander.

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Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce ready to add.

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Once the filling has cooked add some cheese (of your choice) and two eggs to bind. Mix through and add bread crumbs till the mixture is no longer sloppy.

Once the filling is ready put a tablespoon or so in each blanched leaf and fold, putting the fold down the bottom. Fill the container with rolls ladle over the sauce and either put in an oven until the sauce has thickened or on stove top till the same.

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I served it with grated cheese but some sour cream would be nice as well.

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We need to get over the fact that there will be bugs that things will not be perfect in our vegetables. Be grateful we have food and help out the world by eating what is there not what is perfect. We cannot in the long term afford to ask farmers to throw away straight banana’s or bent carrots. And why should we?

10 minute bread kind off…

I got some comments on my facebook timelines to on the bread photo’s I have been posting that it was delayed gratification. And to a degree it is 🙂 but short of buying it in a shop this is the easiest and quickest bread I have ever made and it is SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD. IMG_3437-2000

One of the things I looked at in July was no plastic July. We didn’t do it as it is a bit hard with only one of us really on this path (I sneak it in when I can 🙂 ) what I did look at was at what plastic we had and how we could reduce it. One of the things I noticed was plastic bread bags and those nasty little clips that close them. Add to this if you look at the list of ingredients on a loaf of bought bread you will go ‘what the …’ so I decided while I am on leave I would get the bread making down pat so I can do it couple of times a week. This is the link to the original recipe I used I have consolidated it as below. It takes less than 10 minutes in all steps but there is proofing and resting time as well as cooking time. I still love that this can be done in around 3 hours so come home from work and have fresh bread for the next day.

Step 1.

Fill measuring cup or bowl with ½ cup of freshly boiled water and 1 and ½ cups of tap water. Add a table spoon of sugar. Mix. Sprinkle a packet or two teaspoons of dried yeast over the top of the water and leave for 10 minutes in a warm spot. (I use Tandaco sachets but need to find a bulk supplier of yeast to avoid those nasty little foil wrappers (we do what we can)).

yeast in a bowl

Work Time 30 seconds.

Step 2.

Put 4 cups of plain flower and two teaspoons of salt in a bowl and mix with a wisker to incorporate.

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Work Time 1 minute.

Step 3.

Once the 10 minutes is up and the yeast is nice and frothy, mix into the water and pour into the flour mixture and mix through thoroughly. The dough should be quite wet so add a bit more water if it looks dry.

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Cover in a tea towel and put in a nice warm spot and leave for 2 hours (you can leave for less but this is the best time I have found)

warm bread

Work Time 3 minutes.

Step 4.

The dough should have risen nicely by now. Grease the bowls to be used for baking with a good coating of butter (don’t be tempted to use olive oil I tried it, didn’t work for me). Once buttered use two forks to divide the dough mix into two parts this will knock it down as well use the forks to separate the dough from the edge of the bowl and lift with the forks and drop each half into a buttered oven proof bowl. Put in a warm space for 30 minutes. It will rise a second time.

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Work Time 3 minutes

Step 5.

After 30 minutes put the bowls in a pre-heated oven to at 220 degrees Celsius and set timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes drop back the oven to 190 degree and set time for another 15 minutes.

Turn out the bread. If it is still a little pale. Put it back on the rack for 5 minutes out of the bowl to brown off (I never have to do this)

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Let it rest for 10 minutes then eat 🙂

Work Time 2 minutes

Total Work Time 9 ½ minutes.

The bread is great warm and toasts nicely but doesn’t brown as much as commercial bread. It last ok for few days but will not last like store bought bread as it has no preservatives in it (this is a good thing FYI)

This will become a regular for us moving forward. Cost wise because we purchase good organic flour the cost is about $1.50 per loaf only about $1.20 cents less than I can get at Aldi or a local supermarket on special but this adds up when I work out a 4 loaves a week over a year it works out at $250 saving per year. Nothing to be sneezed at.

But the big thing is I know what is in this bread. It also means that there is a few less plastic bags and clips in the world. A little less food km and more money out of the corporate system.

The latest reports on plastic in oceans is not pleasant reading and honestly cleaning up is great and we have to do this but first thing we need to do is to make sure as little as possible gets into it from now on! Every single piece makes a difference 1 item per Australian per week not kept out of the waste stream is 1,196,000,000 objects. Yes a lazy 1.2 billion items out of the waste stream every year if we are careful. Still don’t think that your little part in this little country can make a difference?

Increments

There is always more to do in the hippy household and less time.

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Just to add to my time (and with number 3 a week away) I have enrolled in a diploma of ‘Organic Farming’ to fill my time.

In the end all you can do is what you can do. I want to be able to have some flexibility with my kids and know in their teens I am going to need to be around a lot more. I can also see a time with the way things are going that having a business is going to be important to ensure some of my children at least have a place to work.

Despite the lack of posts we are still working towards self-sufficiency more now than before and it is well worth while reminding myself of the increments get done each day.

This weekend has been busy.

I picked up a second hand bath and built a new garden bed. I am very much into the ‘obtain a yield’ principle at the moment.

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While we are not perfect from an environmental point of view it has been a long time since we bought salad greens, eggs or many veggies.

We still get some veg from farmers markets and my parents but each plant, each garden bed, each bath used as wicking bed brings us a little closer to being independent. One more dollar or set of dollars, one more increment to move towards other goals.

It is the same with cooking from scratch or drying my own nettle tea rather than buying it each little amount adds up and allows you to do the next step. For us the cash saved from foraging wood for the fire, and heating with it will hopefully allow us to put PV solar on by the end of the year.

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Each day you pick up new skills. Who would have thought 12 months ago that I would be able to quickly whip up a bee feeder to make sure our third hive will be ok over winter. (again we have not paid for honey in the last 12 months and have traded it for a number of other things over time) each day pickup new skills and work on you and ours resilience.

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But mostly enjoy 🙂

Oh and I must admit to being a bit chuffed so far my perennial basil has been producing both leaves and flowers with no heating or costs. Just a nice spot sheltered spot. No greenhouse gases and full flavour, kids loved it for dinner in the spag bol

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Looks like the bugs of winter…

So I had hoped to post a long post tonight as it has been a great day with my oldest turning five. She is a great kid and I am delighted and saddened at the same time at how fast she has grown and what a real little person she has become. My little girl is growing up to be a wonderful empathetic, happy little person who loves all around her but she is growing up so fast…

My parents came down and dropped of a big box of quinces to process next week and on top my usual bottled quinces for winter I have a few idea’s including bletting some of them in my freezer to try them and a cordial a good friend Libby at libby-cooks has been talking about (if I can con it out off her 🙂 )

But now I feel like the proverbial. We have already had a run of bugs in the house and as winter kicks in it appears one more has decided to come our way from the biohazards that are our crèche children.

bottle

So instead of a long post I am brewing an early batch of elderberry syrup. This is a medicated brew rather than a eating syrup and is proactive measure to keep you healthy and fight virus’s.

Recipe is below. In addition I am drinking a couple of hot lemon and honey drinks as below.

Hopefully I can short circuit this one and do a post on the soups I have been making on my new stove this week.

Hot Lemon Honey and Spice Tea

  • Juice of a lemon (or half a lemon to taste)
  • Table spoon of raw honey
  • ½ teaspoon of dried ginger
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Hot water to a cup

Nothing much mix it all together and drink hot. Very effective.

Elderberry Syrup

  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen elderberry or 1/3 of cup of dried
  • 2 tablespoons of ground ginger or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves (about ½ if you are using ground cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 3.5 cups of water
  • 1 cup of honey

elderberry

Put all ingrediants except the honey in a pot and simmer till it reduces by about a third to a half. Once this has happened pass it through a fine sieve and use the back of spoon to make sure you get as much liquid as possible add a half a cup of boiling water to help push the last of it through and use the back of the spoon again.

When tepid add the cup of honey and stir in (don’t add the honey when to hot) bottle in a sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge I have around a ½ a shot glass a day in winter (starting now) as a proactive and if I am feeling fluey I have it every 4 hours or so.

Should last a month or so in the fridge so make up a batch at a time rather than to much at once.

A New Easter

As I sit here eating left overs I would have to say the urban hippie household has had a great Easter.

IMG_1916-2000With the sad passing of the matriarch of our family my grandmother last year this was the first year where we mixed new and old traditions. Making new traditions or reviving old traditions is becoming more and more important. Our culture has had 50 years of traditions being ‘reinvented’ every couple of years to keep the market going and keep the economy ‘healthy’. Buy your traditions is the motto of the defining western culture 😦

For us every Good Friday was at my grandmother’s house. A traditional German fare of pickled foods, heavy casseroles and my Oma’s famous ‘vegetarian’ chicken stock dumpling soup 🙂

This year I hosted my immediate family and we had by any rule of thumb a feast. Wild salmon, smoked salmon, local fast growing sustainable fish and squid crumbed and fried. A few old favourites such as the herring salad my mother resurrected from grandmothers recipe and fish casserole.

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And an old favourite with a small twist my potato salad with wasabi and the crunch of fresh cucumber.

For desert pavlova from my parents pasture eggs with cream and berries.

We tried to make the event as sustainable as we could. Potatoes and veg where from the local farmers market, local olive oil to fry, pole and line caught tuna for the casserole, local fish such as bream, trevally and local shark (quick growing and sustainable in the way it caught here) we had wild salmon (frozen and transported but wild caught) the only down side was the smoked salmon and gravlax that came from somewhere in Europe and was probably farmed.

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But with the feast and the over cater gene I got from my grandmother comes left overs. Which is what we had for the next day. We try to waste as little as we can in our house.

Sunday was again family with a Croatian feast with A.’s family cabbage salad, potatoes, pork and beef cheeks. Baked cheeses, polenta and lemon meringue for dinner. None of which I am sure of where it came and if it was local or sustainable or anything else but you need to be careful to make sure that you are leading. People can be non-Newtonian liquids forcing your views on them is not going to work unless you lead by example. My local dinner was pretty damn fine and you can taste how fresh the just caught local fish. Fish most people have not eaten not because they are no good but because they are not exotic enough or are ‘not in fashion’

After the big lunch we all grazed in the evening feeling stuffed and I got a little insight into how not to waste things. A’s mother had some of the left over polenta with milk for dinner which all the grandkids proceeded to try and all loved. We have to relearn such uses. Nothing should go to waste.

We need to remind ourselves that feasts should be just that. Something special, a time to eat those things that we only have once in a while. One of problems with the middle class of which arguably most permaculture people are from (whether they choose to believe that or not) is that most western middle class folk eat better than kings of bygone eras. To that end we will be living off left overs and the last of my parents and my garden for a few weeks. Seasonal food to balance out the feast.

But enough comments. I hope you all had a brilliant Easter and are living of the left overs of your feasts J post some left over recipes if you can be interested to see what people do with their recipes. Below is the recipe for fish casserole we eat each Easter and the potato salad with wasabi and cucumber.

OH And as a bonus for me J I planted out some of my winter brassica’s just an hour or so in the garden to weed and plant and bit of pruning but it was very nice 🙂 need to get out there a bit more don’t I 🙂

Fish Casserole

  • Potato’s for 3 layers in your container parboiled and sliced
  •  Two 2 gram tines of tuna (you are looking for skipjack tuna pole and line caught. Aldi sells a good one) alternatively my mother has used baked fresh fish in place of tinned fish
  • 6 – 8 hardboiled eggs sliced
  • Mustard sauce as below
  • Cheese to top.

Mustard Sauce.

  • 80 grams of plain flour
  • 80 grams of butter
  • 900 ml of milk
  • Mustard to taste (you need to use a bit I used a small whole jar of German mustard)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Method: Fry off the butter and flour to make roux or paste. Make sure you fry off the flour long enough to make sure you remove the flour flavour. Add a little bit of milk and mix to make paste and then add a bit more as you got to make smooth white sauce and mustard and salt and pepper to taste.

To put together the casserole put a layer of potatoes on the bottom of a casserole dish, a layer of the tuna, then add sauce to cover. Ad the eggs and another layer of potato and tun then more sauce then a final layer of potato and the last of the sauce to cover then add the cheese to top.

Cover and cook for a while remember most of the ingredients are already cooked so it is just combining and warming it thought. At the end take of the lid and let the cheese brown off.

Freezes well and tastes better next day 🙂

Potato Salad.

  • 1 kg of potatoes cooked till just cooked (not over cooked) an important thing for both the casserole above and the salad is to start the cooking from cold water and bring to the boil it is a trick I learnt making chowder as it stops the potatoes starch breaking down incorrectly.
  • Mayonnaise (as A. is pregnant I used kewpie mayonnaise) about a cup
  • One cucumber deseeded and sliced into 5mm squares.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Wasabi paste to taste.

Cut up the potatoes once warm but not hot mix through the ingredients and serve and room temperature. Needs an hour or so of sitting time to combine the flavours.

Real Food Again

So we have been to New Zealand for a holiday (more on that later) and have had builders working on our house for the last 2 week (much more on that latter!) so we have been living in an apartment a bit closer to town.

I cooked while we were there but it was very basic based on what I could get and make at the nearby ALDI or local takeaway.

So when we moved back in on Friday we went to the local fish and chip and decided that was it for a while. Enough we need real food.

Having to work all evening Saturday complicated this but we had, had enough.

Having access to my kitchen, larder and garden made this easier.

I had a pumpkin, sweet potato and some pears from my parents just staring at me as I opened up the fridge.

Some bacon off cuts from the freezer and soup cried out at me.

It was interesting adding the pears as it made it a little sweeter but also added a greater depth level in the flavour that I had read about but you have to taste to understand. A little cultured sour cream and mmmmm J and the soup was very filling.

It is interesting to. I have noticed in the last few months that nutrient rich foods are making us less hungry. We get our tortillas for Mexican from a place in South Kensington who uses corn fresh ground on the premises.

A pack is enough to feed us to stuff point but other brands just don’t seem to fill us up I wonder if food, real food, nutrient dense food makes us less hungry. Or perhaps a better way to look at it is the calorie rich, nutrient poor food is leaving us craving these nutrients and leaving us hungry as our bodies seek the nutrients despite the calories and we can only get these through eating a lot more?

Either way for the next months we are eating a lot more of these nutrient dense foods. I have hit my parents place as our garden needs some love courtesy of the madness leading up to our trip and the work on the house. On the upside I am seeing the lots of nettle coming up J nutrient dense, low energy weeds are the best tonic for all in regards to our society. Now if we could just stop the council spraying them.

Recipe for Pear, Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup.

  • Half a butternut pumpkin or equivalent
  • A very large sweet potato (or a few small ones)
  • 2 pears cored but with skin on
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Teaspoon of curry powder of choice (I used a Jaffna Sri Lankan style one)
  • 100 – 200gram of bacon off cuts or ham or prosciutto ends)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Olive oil
  • Optional but recommended cultured sour cream to server.

Method

I used a pressure cooker but this can be done in a pot if required the cooking time just goes from 15 minutes to about 45 minutes.

Sweat down the carrots, onion, celery and garlic in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Ensuring they don’t brown add the bacon pieces and bay leaves and let them sweat for a further 2 -3 minutes until you can smell the bay leaves.

Add the other ingredients excluding the sour cream.

Cover with cold water and bring to the boil and simmer or to pressure in a pressure cooker. (15 minutes for a pressure cooker or 45 for a normal pot)

Remove from the heat and allow to cool remove the bacon and bay leaves and use a stick blender to blend. Shred the bacon and add back in and reheat until it is simmering. Simmer for 5 -10 minutes. Season with more salt or pepper to taste.

Server with sour cream and crusty bread.

Freezes very well but don’t add the sour cream when freezing.