Guest post on Ranting’s of an Amateur Chef.

So I have been a follower of the Ranting chef for several years.

I am honoured he offered me a guest post and had a post I was about to put together for something A. and I have been eating a fair bit later that I thought would suite.

To me he the ranting chef is a constant. Every day in rolls another email about a meal to make.

My wife often comments can go to a fridge and pull together a meal from what appears to be nothing. It is a skill I used living in share houses in London when I lived there in the 90’s it is skill that allows me to save money and means we waste little.

Perhaps the first step in people taking back some control of their lives is cooking their own meals and knowing what is in them. Cooking from scratch should not be in the realm of master chef style reality television shows or only the realm of celebrity chefs it should be a day to day thing. Shown to be easy skill it really is.

With knowing what comes in your meal is the ability to mix in the few ingredients have in your garden you started gardening in or the items you have never seen before from the local farmers market.

The Ranting Chef blog shows this day by day, week by week, building up skills and using ingredients.

His stamina is also quite impressive in regards to rolling out blog posts as a blogger who is an absentee writer a lot of the time I know how hard to roll out a post almost every day for years at a time.

http://rantingchef.com/2014/12/23/guest-post-anthony-meat-balls-and-zoodles/

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The Silence

I woke up late and fairly tired yesterday morning. The previous night I moved the back hive to my parents place. In many ways it was a triumph as no bees died in this move (which means by default I didn’t get stung). I am getting the structure of the hives down pat and managing the bees is becoming easier in some ways.

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On the other hand the movement of the bees is a complete disaster. We had a complaint late last Sunday that our bees where attacking our back neighbour. Threats ensued of calls to the council and pest exterminators so we made a decision even though we are flat out and it is five our round trip to get them out of Dodge City for a while.

From what we can tell the neighbours had a swarm in their compost. Dug up the compost got stung looked over the fence and saw the hive which has been there for three years with different bees in it. Freaked out and became very, very, very irrational about it. (Quite scarily irrational to be honest) and started yelling and screaming.

It is a great shame as this is a very urban friendly hive. If they had one fault they were so indifferent to humans that they would fly near them and not flee. This lead people to believe they were being attacked, swatting them and getting stung.

Our 5 year old is devastated, my wife is devastated and I am far from happy. This is a swarm we got as a fist of bees and just filled the hive to the point we needed a new box on top.

So the last two mornings I went up to open up the chicken run and went past the location where the hive used to be, had a quick look to check if any had been left behind (nope all clear) and noted the absence of them in the flowering kale, again I noted it in the lavender out front.  Thursday in far less sunny and warm day the back yard and front yard hummed with bees.

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And today? Silence.

The neighbour’s husband while I was talking to him was raving at his almond tree and the productivity of his vegetables last year. Well not now. And this is the big debate that needs to be had in a culture where a person get to reach into another’s back yard and be irrational about something well with that comes a responsibility.

The person in question invoked the ‘I am worried for my children’ comment for her own fears. Well I am worried for my kids future but not because of a few bees which they know about but because this very same rational if taken to its extreme (and that is something humans are good at) will lead to my children having a poorer future.

‘I will get arguments about well as a community we all need to respect each other’s views’. Having grown up in a small community YES you do and they will not be your views so you need to suck it up and move on! A community of like minded souls is not a community it is somewhere between a cult and self-validating support group.

A. ss annoyed as a scientist she wants a rational conversation with people and that is simply not happening with people these days. It is not just the urban folks it is also parts of the alternative community and permies. The bigger picture is hidden as everyone want their ‘personal rights’ to supersede everything. Everyone is getting into their own bunkers and not even bothering to look at empirical evidence or each other’s views.

On the upside there a small number of feral bees around and at some point we will likely move the bees back and put them in a private location where people cannot just look over the back fence (mind your own business people) and away from this neighbour. We will be quiet about it and work on our desire to get people to realise the value of these beautiful creatures in a way that allows us not be target by this type of person.

It is the old flying under the radar vs. getting things done argument and on this occasion low flying looks like the option.

I still cannot shudder at a world that our children seem to be destined to inherit!

Enough for one day I have swarm trap to setup in the hidden corner of the chicken run !

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The Old Splitter

I was up at dad’s place and split a few logs for him with the old splitter.

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This old girl has been with us for 50 years. When dad broke the handle he took it down to my uncle who welded a pipe into it for him.

We talked that if we had a few cents for every log it had split we would be a lot richer than we are now. If I had a dollar every time that handle jarred my hands on a cold morning getting the wood for the day 😉 And in a way we are. My family heated house hot water and cooked on wood almost entirely in my youth so each split was in its own way a version of currency. A self sufficient currency many of us might end up going back to.

IMG_3705 A good Canadian splitter is a must if you have a small holding or just warm your house with wood.

It fills the roll of a sledge for most farm jobs like putting in posts and is one of the most used tools even at my place in the city.

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Not in my backyard …

This is the second thing today that makes me wonder about how selfish as a society we have become

http://civileats.com/2014/08/06/to-locavores-dismay-a-humane-meat-processor-is-put-out-to-pasture/

The second was the ABC morning team that on an interview Doug Purdie was making comments about ‘well I would not like them in my neighbour’s yard..’ then ridiculing the responses to them not understanding where we are at with the state bees and the world and there feral bees in their backyard.

People buy in places where there are already farmers then complain about the smell or the flies or the trucks or the mooing of the cows (I kid you not). And take action to ban these.

Take some ownership of your own life !

I would simply ask every person who has an issue with their neighbours yard being not what they want or the sound of a rooster waking them up in the morning to remember that this a very isolated epoch in time and a few years you might be grateful for the a neighbour who can supply chicks to you or for local honey not to mention your vegies getting pollinated.

Take a long term view on these things.

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)).

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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)

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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?

Your on the wrong Phase.

‘Sorry…’

‘Yes’ said the young man at the other end of the phone. ‘The reason you can see your neighbours lights on while your house is in darkness is that 1 in 3 people are affected with sort of outage’.

‘Ok well we have a 7 day old here any eta on when the power will be back on?’ was my reply.

‘Oh sometime in the next 4 hours. Have a nice evening’

This was the conversation I had with the supplier of power services in our area last night. This was after ringing the retailer who we get our power through and being told they could help but could give is the name and number of the supplier of lines and services in our area.

So there we were with a 170 odd other households in our area in darkness no lights, no power for heating or entertainment.

For us it was not such a big deal our house is now well insulated we have the wood stove, torches and candles. Even our dinner was nice and warm having just been warmed in the oven prior to the power going out.

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We had a great evening eating by candlelight and watching the fire on the couch. We even heated up the water for the kids hot water bottles on the stove !

And just after the kids went to bed up came the power. Outage of less than two hours.

Got me to thinking though! What about some of the other people without preparation and without a wood stove to heat. It is winter after all and a tad cold …

When we got the nectre woodstove the primary reason was cost and environmental reasons. There was also the small but compelling argument that having this piece of infrastructure is handy for when things like outages happen. I have had several friends in the USA loose power for a week at time in the middle of winter. And that was only 20 miles from a city of 100,000 people.

With the finding against the pole and service companies in Victoria over the last few years and the arguments over the power grid there will be more down time not less in the future and getting ready for a short to longer outages is probably worth at least being ready for.

But on the upside we had a chance to chat to our kids and discuss the unique experience in their young lives of no television. The oldest looked horrified as we discussed that a lot of people do not have access to power let alone television 🙂

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And some sober reading to finish up 😦 . I read this, this morning.

http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/water-cooler/how-a-2012-solar-flare-could-have-wrecked-earths-electronics