Sourdough Starter Pasta and User up Pasta Sauce

It is a busy time of year we harvested, honey and have been madly preserving and  drying fruit from the back yard. Getting vegies in and keeping stuff alive in the heat (a break down on how that went soon)

But no matter how busy it is we are always up for a visit by a friend. It has been a long while since we caught up with this particular friend and it was great to see her. Time flew in her company and a bottle of wine and good food was had.

The kids had a great time number one son was enamoured and spent the whole time showing off ‘for the lady’ and number one daughter was still talking about her well into the next day. She makes a great aunt for our kids such a wealth of experiences in her life to share with them in the future.

Opportunities like this are great and you want to make good food to go with it but not be completely tied up and spend all your time in the kitchen so for me a good slow cooked pasta sauce over some homemade pasta is the deal. It started with a simple starter of onigiri with blanched green shiso and toasted sesame seed (recipe later in the week) and as it is that time of year simple fresh Satsuma plums for desert. Yep life is hard.

The pasta is something I have made before it is a great user up of excess sourdough starter which happens when our busy life doesn’t always allow us to get bread made but the starter needs a feed.(the other option is the chooks love it 🙂  )

IMG_0601-2000 IMG_0602-2000 The pasta dries beautifully and is really filling and yet strangely light. It is not good pasta to fold through ingredients as it tends to break up this is a drop of good pasta sauce on the top and cheese pasta. As you would expect it is little sour which adds a lovely extra level to the food.


The pasta sauce I started around lunch time and cooked long and slow it is a user up sauce. I had a end of salami I froze when we went away and some keep the ham skin both where added with fresh herbs and good wine and cooked for 2 -3 hours. The extra ingredients again add a depth of flavour to the sauce.

While this may seem complex it is simple to make with lots of down time to get on with what else needs to be done.

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To me nothing epitomises what I want from life more than good time spent with family and friends and well cooked food to go with this. If everyone did this just a little it would make a hell of difference to us all 🙂

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Enjoy the week ahead everyone.:)

Sourdough Pasta

  • 1 Cup of sourdough starter
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 6 egg yolks
  • A little water as required

So add the flour to the sourdough start and eggs and mix through and roll into a ball (you may need to add a little water to get it to bind). Once in a ball put the covered bowl in a warm spot for 8 to 24 hours to rise.

Once the rising time is over roll flat and as thin as you like and cut into strips (as you like). Add to boiling salted water and when it rises to the top check to see if it is cooked. Drain and try not to stir to much as it breaks it up.

User up Pasta Sauce

  • One bottle of passata (750 ml or so)
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • Onion finely sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 500 grams of ground organic beef or pork
  • 3 small carrots
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 4 -5 bay leaves
  • Parsley
  • Oregano
  • 2 table spoons of molasses or sugar if you have no molasses
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Piece of Salami or cured sausage
  • Ham skin or bacon rind or some bacon bon or some ham anything really

Fry the onion till translucent then add beef/pork then garlic and herbs. Drop in the carrot and celery and herbs for a minute or two to sweat. Add in the passata sauce, wine, salt, pepper and molasses, ham bits and cured sausage.

Cook at a low heat for an hour or two or so. I serve only the ground beef and sauce but you can server it all if you want. I top with fresh grated Italian parmesan of course. This well worth the money and food miles 🙂


The heat is still on …

Well day 3 of the heat wave is almost over. It should cool down at about 2am with the way things are going 🙂

Garden has done ok. A few sections have taken a hiding but the one thing that surprisingly so far has taken a real beating was the banana tree I had been gifted. I am surprised as this I though in a good container of water would have loved the heat. Clearly wrong on this one. It will recover but it interesting to see how things operate in these conditions. In many ways we are in uncharted territory with so many once in a life time heat waves in in 5 years.

I covered the bees with some shade in the form of a trellis but after A. got an email from the Victorian apiarist association we did a bit more work. They suggested a sheet or box of polystyrene on top of the hive to help insulate. Seems to have worked as the last two days the back hive had none and there where bees outside cooling it but yesterday and today in even warmer temperatures they seemed fine.

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We really need to get quilt boxes for them all and some Warre style tops as well. Warre hives maybe not in our plans at present in what we are doing but parts of the design I can see working with our langstroth hives.

The water bowls are checked each morning and it is nice to see the stone carving I did 18 months ago working so well as a reservoir for our bees 🙂 It is really important that you have stones or gravel in the bowl. Bees drown easily and this or floating rafts in the water supply help them to stay out of the water.

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Ducks and chickens are really feeling it the shaded pond seems to be helping and they are just staying in the shade.

The water from them is keeping some of the trees happy and it is being swapped out regularly for them.

Shade and water is all they really need.

The kiddie pool idea worked out well even my wasabi so far has stood up well (touch wood) the other plants seem fine and the wicking beds are doing their thing and the fruit trees are ripening well and even that mint seems to standing up to the heat. If a small section of food forest works like this interested in seeing how half the backyard will work.

One area we are struggling with is the house. We really need the insulation in the house. Being uninsulated it is just not staying cool and locking it up has had minimal effect. The shade sail is working well though and the back half of the house really makes a huge difference to the heat in that section it has been cooler than the back half. This sort of passive design is a winner.

When the kids come home they ask for a cool bath and this seems to make a huge difference along with a couple of small fans.

Other than we are just ensuring we keep our fluids up.

It is interesting but I think people have forgotten how to deal with this in their lives. Lots of people have lost pets by not setting them up correctly (not even enough water) and people look broken limping between air conditioned buildings and onto the train.

If this is the future people are going to need to adapt to it in regards to them and their properties. I was discussing with A. with the way that power grid is simply not standing up to the load I am wary of relying on this technology. Our house is better than most and we have the capacity to improve it to be less reliant on systems that can fail so we will.

Two days to go so hope all the Melbourne people are doing as well as me. Interesting times ahead and we will see more of these heat waves I believe.

On the upside it is not to bad to come home and go out into the backyard and be hit by the smell of warm honey and fennel 🙂 not to bad at all.

Here comes the heat !

We have some heat on the way. Our summer has been quite mild and I have not had any requirement to water the tree’s or really do more than basic management of the plants.

Tomorrow our summer starts in earnest. We are expecting a hot week with a 2 or 3 days over 40 degrees Celsius which is not unexpected in our summers but after such a mild summer such a jump will be hard on everything.

So this afternoon after some friends left I did some preparation.

The most important thing was to get the potted plants into the shade and some water to allow them to wick up moisture. I had some kiddie pools and an old bath so I put these under the shade cloth and filled them up to a level then put the pots in. I will monitor these.

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The wicking beds have handled the few hot days well but with no rain for a while they were getting down so I checked and filled all of the reservoirs till they overflowed. These will be fine now.


I also did a deep water of all of the tree’s and any potted plants that I couldn’t move such as the bay tree. It is quite amazing how many tree’s we have onsite here now. My friend visiting today thinks I have the correct number of tree’s but I am missing an acre or so of land to go with them 🙂


So far I have 34 trees on the block and space and plans for more.

As you can imagine it takes time to do that many deep waters. Each tree received about to 10 to 15 minutes of water which adds up to around 4 hours in total for each of the two hoses we have. There is little point in just doing a short water on trees as you end up causing the tree to develop shallow rooting and make them susceptible to any dry spells. Better a good water once every 1 – 2 weeks if required than a short water every second day.

I have noticed I am water the trees less these days and the area up the back that is food forest is quite moist even with no extra watering and it being a bit dry, water loving plants such as mint are thriving. The plums and the nectaries are plump and doing well. The plan is to keep building on the food forest and see how much food this low maintenance gardening  can produce.


Even Gibby’s toy barrow got a use for A.’s angelica plant 🙂


I didn’t forget the animals of the urban hippie household either the ducks and bee’s both got some relief from the overhead sun with the back hives getting a piece of some gifted trellising to caste dappled shadow and the ducks pool getting the same.

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So now on for the rest of the week. This amount of work will hopefully mean that I wont be under so much pump to keep an eye on it during the week. But I probably will anyway.

Have a good week all 🙂

Half a pig and quick salad

So I was lucky enough to be offered a half share in a ‘pig in a box’. This is from  a local farmer and  you get a pig. All cuts nose to tail no picking the cuts you want the whole hog (pun intended).


From the famers point of view they get to sell the whole pig nothing wasted nothing to worry about no suddenly finding the selves with 402 trotters not selling 🙂

For the buyer the cost is lower and it forces you to realise that this is how we used to eat the whole pig and you have to learn to use the whole thing cuts you have never used before. Some of which for most will be the best cuts.

So I picked it up today and the lady I got it from sells bread to us at a market as well. So she gave me some beautiful heritage carrots a pale yellow colour and some bread the kids liked from a market she ran yesterday.

So the meal was pretty easy when you think about it J

Fried up some chops in the fry pan and then put them in the oven to finish off while I made a simple sauce of mushrooms (from the local farmers market), onion (same market), some organic flour we buy for our sourdough and some good Smokey paprika from a small shop in Ballarat I found on a trip up there.

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The carrot served simply cut up skin on and lightly boiled.


I also picked up some zucchini at the farmers market from a lovely older Italian couple we meet there.

These where finely sliced (I used the slicer on my grater) and then tossed with some macadamia oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and a few peppered cashews thrown on top (you guessed it famers market)



So a complete meal in about 35 minutes local and ethical and not that expensive to be honest. The meat was very filling a chop each for the adults and a half for each of the kids. The carrots had an amazing texture and flavour and the gravy made in the pan the chops had been fired in was perfect for the bread to dip into. The salad cut the fattiness beautifully.


Yep our local life is hard 🙂

The salad is a great favourite and once my zucchini come on line we will be making it as often as we can. We have made it with olive oil rather than macadamia (both are good) and have used walnuts, flaked almonds and hazelnuts in it before. Whatever we have been given by family, foraged, bought  or happen to have around.


I am not trying to show off here this is just how we aim to eat and I intend to try to keep it this way as the year moves on. It is actually much easier than we realise to serve our families with nutrient dense local foods and the more of us who do this the better for us and the rest of the environment.

Cut the food miles is one thing but in the process you improve the food you are feeding your family as well!

And yes there was some left of for lunch 🙂

2014 a plan … well maybe

So another year has rolled by. Which is good because we have a whole new year to work on 🙂

And true to last year the year is already swinging by SO Fast.

I missed posting so far, working out how to clear out a rodent infestation (more on that later) and just life in general.

I don’t really have resolutions for 2014. Just a general sense that I want to improve how things are moving our lives. Improve my impact on the planet and just generally feel better about things.

Now for those trying to avoid a rant you can skip to the bottom for a very nice recipe for Thai Salad 🙂


While this is general a couple of things clarified in my mind for this year.

  1. Drop our energy usage below the 50% for Australians (a Paul Wheaton definition of being green)
  2. Improve the back yard as far as it carrying capacity goes (permaculture Principle 3: Obtain a yield – you cannot work on an empty stomach)
  3. Eat more locally, sustainably and ethically and importantly buy a LOT less from the duopoly in Australia
  4.  Feel generally better about our position in life.

The first three are measurable and I will be measuring them over the year.

Our renovation on the house will make it significantly more energy efficient so that will help with the drop. Bike gets serviced on the weekend so that will help some more. We decided to drive rather than fly to QLD for a number of reasons one being the environmental effect. The other being you get see the country and experience it.

On the trip we made the effort to shop local. We took local whole foods, cherries from my parents local apples and local ham and sandwich bread on the first day. When we did buy we avoided the fast food joints heading into small towns and hitting local bakeries and IGA. Fruit stalls along the way.  We gave the friend looking after our place a local ham, cherries and emptied out our fridge of perishable items.

When I got back I kept this moving. Avoiding the supermarkets. Cheese and yogurt from the local factory, greengrocer fruit and veg. Small family business for as much as I could and only when I had run out of options did I hit the big guys. We will keep this going and it is measurable as we keep a budget of all costs one of the things we spend on I want to decrease the amount of money spent in the big 2 by 50% this year.

The back yard is a work in progress, with the kids around time gets eaten up but this year I want to double the food coming out of the back yard. The wicking beds and forest garden stood up to the heat in our absence really well. Other garden beds did not and are going to need some love. This is going to be the year of the back yard for me. Once the reno are under way the single biggest item I need to look at is the location of the shed and this scheduled to be moved by April until then it will be working in the area’s not impacted by this move. Getting production up and the beds healthy. Runs up for manure from my parents another load of wood chips from the tree surgeon we got the last load are in order.

The last item is not measurable but is by far the most important. It means walking the walk and getting things done or not done. But also means getting the money in order. I don’t want to be riddled with the doubts that come with the financial and social issues around us. This is going to be ongoing. It will mean that I have to do a few more things as there are things that I have learned that I cannot unlearn and the issues I have with plastic bags are not the only ones I have when I look at the disparity in the world and the way I as much as any interact with this. And it is going to require me to continue to remember that enforcing my way on those around me and nearest and dearest to me is not going to lead to the good places. Acceptance of the view and life styles of others is absolutely necessary to fulfil this.

So it is hopefully going to be a blast 🙂 hope you can all come along for the ride.


On the first night of the year we started on 2,3 and 4.

We had Thai beef salad as below. Local beans, vegies from the local famers market and our garden. Local organic beef. I even roasted the peanuts from raw so that I could guarantee no palm oil in them.

At the end we feed 3 adults (our neighbour came across) and two kids and each of the adults including the neighbour got lunch as well so good value and tasted good.


  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut sugar (I avoid palm sugar which is recommended as even the certified organic stuff is leading to the deforestation and destruction of tropical forests and the animals in them)
  • 1.5 table spoon of fish sauce
  • 2 Teaspoon of sesame oil
  • Chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 tablespoon or so of fresh grated ginger.

Wisk together and then pour half over around 600grams of strips of good organic beef and let it sit for 20 minutes to 2 hours. If you get good grass feed organic beef then this will be enough for 3 adults and two kids as unlike the cheap option at supermarkets it is not pumped with water so you get 600 grams of beef.


Roast a 100 grams of raw peanuts coated in sunflower oil in a 200 degree oven till brown (be careful they burn easily)


Cook a packet of your favourite noodles as per the packets instructions (I used hokkien noodles) and set aside

  • Blanch 750 grams of green beans and chill to stop them cooking they should be crisp
  • Finely slice a red onion
  • Use a vegetable peeler to thinly slice 3 carrots
  • Finely slice 2 cucumbers (I used Lebanese ones)
  • Goof bunch of mint
  • Good mix of coriander, Thai basil, Vietnamese mint etc (whatever I have in my garden)
  • Kaffir lime leaves finely sliced


After the marinade time fry the beef to your desired level of cooking in a hot pan and set aside for 10 minutes to rest then slice finely.

Mix all of the above including the noodles and the peanuts with the remainder of the sauce add the sliced beef at the end and give another mix.


Tastes great as lunch the next day.


This is why you do not get a real post tonight…

Sorry all.  It is 11pm and I have just finished bottling 6 liters of elderflower cordial after foraging a few items of hard waste I noticed on my walk home for a new wicking bed.

So the photo below will have to do for now. More interesting stuff tomorrow.

And the taste. One of my best batches according to A. 🙂


Elderflower cordial

So now the equinox is gone and daylight savings will not start till the end of the week I am finding I am up at 5am and it is light enough to see and move around the garden in.

For those who do not know the best times to pick elderflowers is early morning and dusk. The perfume of the flowers is at its best and the flavour as well. Although I have picked them at other times and the flavour seems fine I try to go by this tradition.

This morning I found myself awake and wandered out on the front porch and noticed the elderflowers had ripened and there would be enough to make a batch of elderflower cordial.



I started the kettle up and went out and picked about 30 flower heads and quickly put a batch together to start the infusing process. The cordial is great mixed simply with iced cold water or soda water it is a light refreshing drink in the heat of summer or a favourite is to add a shot Gin to the mix and then you have a great little mixer to sit back and enjoy looking at your garden in the evening.


So the mix was done in a few minutes and then it was the daily chores of cats and chickens and then off to work.


There is something satisfying to me that I can do this before heading off to my corporate day time job. It somehow makes me feel more alive, even though most of my day will tied to this work culture  just a little bit of me is still out there enjoying the path less trodden.

Elderflower Cordial

  • 5 litres boiling water
  • 30 Elder Flower Clusters (I don`t wash them – aroma gets lost)
  • 3 kilos sugar
  • 10 lemons
  • 125 grams of citric acid

This amount makes 6 litres of syrup. You only need about 1 – 2 cm per glass.

Put all the ingredients in a clean bucket, cover it with a tea towel and stir it every day with a sterilised spoon so that the sugar dissolves with time. I cut the lemons in half, squeeze them out and throw the peels in as well. After one week, sieve it through a cloth and fill it up into bottles.

That`s all. Have fun.

The original recipe I got from my family is to use cold water but as the elderflowers have natural yeast (handy for making champagne) that ferments I try to kill this off with hot water. It saves the bottles exploding or getting a hard liquor version of syrup.

A trick to fix the cloth in place over the bucket is to take enough twine to almost go around the bucket then tie both ends to rubber bands. That way I can easily remove the string no nots nothing to worry about and makes sure the towel or cloth stays in place.

rubber bands