Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Yum ... feta and wtf is that !

Yum ... feta

We decided to try some Feta  with a few herbs in oil.  Soaked for a few days.. wow.  Awesome, as opposed to the goats milk feta from a previous blog post !

Hard at work with the feta in flavoured oil

Hotter

This year we didn't have a Spring to speak of and it's been quite hot. Trying to live with a low environmental footprint, we have no A/C etc and on a warm day (as it was on Sunday !) it reminded me of how effective  the mud brick construction and closed windows  are at keeping the house cool on such a hot day.  I took this photos of the thermometer proving the point.

Inside Temp ion the LHS; Outside Temp on the RHS
36.9 outside and 26.1 inside. Nearly 11 degrees difference.  We had just got back from a swim on the nearby Nymboida Rv, so we enjoyed how cool it was inside, amazing difference !

Fruit Fly

We tried a different method of fruit fly control this year involving traps for male adults on fence posts and enclosures and spraying organic deterents on the tree trunks. We can report back it didn't work at all and sadly we lost all our fruit.  We cleaned the peaches and nectarines off the trees the other week, and this week the apples off our two trees. We need to cook them in garbage bins in the sun for a few days :(  Next year we will bag them individually, as much as we can, it's the only process that seems to work)
Fruit fly stung apples

Weird Lookin' !

No I am not talking about me but in the process of stripping the fruit fly stung apples off the tree we came across this unlikely looking fellow

Macleay's Spectre
Wow.. what a beauty, a Macleay's Spectre (Extatosoma tiaratum), a female I believe, from all it's thorns.  No they don't bite or sting and prefer Eucalyptus leaves (like a Koala !).  She must have got lost on her way to the Gum Trees !  She was perfectly camouflaged and even waved about, when the leaves moved in the breeze.

Monday, November 4, 2013

the stink !

You Drongo !

We know when we start to see these around

Spangled Drongo

that we will have these on the citrus.

The aptly named Stink Bug, 4th instars Nymph stage

Sure enough..... there they are, Stink Bugs !  and it's time to spend a few hours picking them off the trees.

Being sap suckers, they can do quite a bit of damage.  We usually do 2 rounds, about 2 weeks apart, collecting 100's each time by hand, into a bucket of water with some washing liquid..  Only takes about 90mins a time, so not too bad but you need to make sure they don't spray your eyes, bad enough on the face with the sting from the acid (and the stink !)  Washable gloves, long sleeves and protective eye glasses are definitely the go !

Apparently the Drongo eats Stink Bugs, not a discerning palette' I guess but unfortunately (or fortunately) most of our citrus is under netted cover to stop predation from mostly possums but this has the unfortunate side effect of stopping the Drongo from getting at the bugs.

Something New

We used to often see in Cambodia, raised wire platforms 1.5m off the ground, covered in cucumbers etc which sprawl across the wire providing shade for plants grown underneath. We thought we would try that over here in Summer.  We found an old Aluminium door frame, covered it in chicken wire and Cobb 'n Co Hitched it to four support posts.



The plants will trail up the support legs and provided shade for less tolerant veggies underneath, well that's the plan !  We'll see how it goes.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

updates


Dragon Fruit

The Dragon Fruit has been going gangbusters, it seems like it gets bigger every day !

Planted in mid September
Late September

20 October

Cheese

Feta from organic Goats Milk
The great cheese experiment continues.  We have been giving some consideration to getting a goat and one of Toni's friends has some and sold us some of her milk.  Goats milk is an acquired taste, a taste I have not acquired, I disliked it... alot.  Toni did her thing, waved the cheese thermometer over the pot, said the magic words (shaboozle, shabazzle) and BAM ! Goats cheese feta ! Awesome.   but now the bad news, it tastes terrible.  Once again, an acquired taste.  Genuine feta is supposed to be made from goats or sheeps milk but obviously our palette prefers cows milk.  We sold the Feta to a local lady who loved it, so the cheese itself was not bad just not to our taste.  We hope to source a local cow to give that a try at some stage.  Until then we'll continue using the supermarket milk.  

Meals from the Garden

Breakfast was eggs, and fruit.  White Mullberries, Strawberries and Peppino's. all picked this morning, along with a few "bum nuts" from the hens yesterday. 


Yum !


Luscious !

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hot, hot, hot...

The first half of the year it wouldn't stop raining, since July it hasn't rained much to speak off and is very warm.  I am not saying climate change... DOH ! I just did but what the hell, something is screwy !  August was in the lowest 10% of driest months ever recorded apparently.

Warm dry weather brings an increased fire risk, as this screen grab of the aptly named (no pun intended) "Fires Near Me' android app displays

"Fires Near Me" android app screen grab from 10/09/2013

if it looks like 1/2 the state is on fire, well, it is ! but this is so early in the fires season it's astounding.  Toni is in the local Rural Fire Service, who do a great job.

Toni, before her new clothes get used "in anger"

She is there for community involvement and to learn, lets hope she stays safe !

Climate Change

2012 summer, a new colour scale was needed for hotter temps
Scientific American
It’s time to accept the facts about climate change and move on

"When David Biello asked last week “what will it take to solve climate change?”, my initial reaction was that we should start by agreeing on what we know about climate change – facts as determined by scientists around the world. After that, we can have rational discussions and spirited debates about how to most effectively curb greenhouse gas emissions."


ABC News
UN group links heatwave to climate change

The United Nations's (UN) chief climate science body says there is no doubt last week's extreme heat in Australia is part of a global warming trend.

Being an advocate of evidence and facts, I realise the danger of climate change.  Watching this recent lecture by Professor Kevin Anderson drove it home even further.


Those of you that get this via email may have to come to the webpage to click the link if you do want to watch it, it's probably the best wake up call I have ever seen or read.  Appropriately he says it's too late for supply side changes (ie government to mandate via market driven mechanism eg carbon tax etc) to do anything to stop > 4c, if there is to be a chance of even holding 4c, demand side change has to occur.  remember this was last year, and nothing changes.  Look to the recent Australian election for proof of that that and no, I didn't vote Greens !

A recent survey indicated most people were happy to accept > 4c when asked, as they didn't think it that significant... that clearly points to an issue of not understanding the consequences.  The difference in temperature between the last ice age and now was only about 5c degrees.

Lack of "alarm" ? 

There was a recent op-ed in the New York Times raising concern again over the seeming complete lack of alarm.  Along with Forbes magazine, that bastion of American business that had an article headlined  "The Daily Mail Is Wrong: The Earth Keeps Warming" and this bit caught my eye, especially in relation to my comment about this winter being "hot" and last winter being "cold"...  "when you’re looking at long term trends in climate, you have to look at just that – the trends. Not the year to year noise"

Skeptical Science Temperature "escalator"


The science is unequivocal, as the years roll on, some being wetter then average and some being drier, some being colder but most being hotter, groups like the volunteer RFS will be under extraordinary pressure because hotter and drier is the very thing that turn bushfires into infernos.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New arrivals

Chickens

We have been trying to slowly build up our stock of chickens so it was great to receive some from a local who was moving away.  12 Barnevelder chickens and their Mum

Mum and babies admiring their new accommodation


Dad came as well.  The normal fighting happened when a new rooster was introduced, we clipped both their spurs first and there wa s hiug brawl until the "pecking" order was established.

Meet "Chuck", named after his namesake "Chuck Norris"
We also had one of our own go broody about the same time, so we placed a few eggs under her and waited
Baby chicken hatching
they are laying prodigiously at the moment, so what to do with excess eggs, plenty of passion fruit and lots of strawberries ?  PAVLOVA !

A stack of them

Three flatter layers to form a sandwiched stack



Yum, it didn't last long !
the other thing we are just trying is pickled eggs.

First test batch of pickled eggs

This lets us have them later when the hens are laying as many and also allows us to take them hiking, camping etc where we have no access to refrigeration.

Garden


The garden is still producing,


Garlic

Onions, Spring Onions and Leeks

Broad Beans


Sugar Snap Peas

Strawberries !

plenty of  other vegetables as well at the moment; carrots, beetroot, broad beans, peas, choy sum, snow peas as well as fruit; Peppinos, Tangellows and Limes.

and a random photo of the beautifully ethereal morning in the mist

Front the front door

Monday, September 16, 2013

warmer weather..

The warmer weather has continued, with a brief interruption for a cold burst to remind if of winter.  It has started to dry out a little now. to be expected over winter but strange after seemingly endless rain since late January.

Don't drink the water !

A trip recently to Brisbane to visit my mother reminded me of the "weirdness" of urban living

what what what .... what ?

The pollution makes the rainwater unfit for drinking, never mind breathing it in every day... I guess you get used to the smell. not sure how good it is for you though with recent reports having "invisible" pollution linked to asthma and autism development, I guess a good enough reason not to drink it ?

Early spring ?


The flowers are still flowering, with native bees everywhere, working...  like bees I guess !

Rocket flower with native bees
the parsley is doing well

Parsley in the herb garden

Strawberries are on the table regularly for breakfast




but the pests start to come out, the Cabbage Moths are out 'n about



but the birds are fluttering


Azure Kingfisher

Iconically Australian !
Female Satin Bowerbird raiding the Cherry Guava Tree
The garden is in it's winter phase but still productive, we; wary of this early spring and have held off a little in case the recent cold snap is repeated


Sunday, August 11, 2013

New things

Damper


We were doing some burning off the other day and Toni was inspired by our friend Steve, the "Damper Guru", to try her first.  So off she went, and made a savory Damper using her home made cheese and some garlic.

Damper


It went down a treat with her home made sweet corn soup, done on the top of the wood heater
Home made Sweet Corn Soup (cinnamon scrolls and bread proving at the same time)

Sorrel

Always learning. For the longest time we didn't really know what this was

Sorrel in the garden

It's always been there in the garden, turns out it was Sorrel, who knew ? Not us.. until now !

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

time for an update

Bloosoms

the winter so far has been fairly warm and the fist of the buds are out for the Peaches

Peach blossoms
Nectarines and Apples

Apple Blossoms

The Apples have never been particularly successful, I am told our "monsoon" weather pattern is the main reason, that is, wet summers and drier winters.  We'll see how they go this year as we've had a wetter than normal, albeit mild winter.

Weeds

For those interested in edible and useful "weeds" we came across this a few months ago

We've found a couple of the weeds mentioned and plan to use some in various salads etc
Dock, found growing in the Orchard

You can get a copy here if you're interested.  Interesting book.  We just wish we could find something on Fungi, as we have so many varieties on our property with no real idea as to which ones are edible.  Anyone know of a foragers guide to Fungi in Australia ?

Cheese...


is going great,

Freshly made Feta
Feta and Ricotta only at the moment. Neufch√Ętel is the next cheese to try.  You can read more about the great cheese factory here.  It sells well when Toni takes it to the Farmers Market and overall the feedback has been positive.  After watching her idol Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on River Cottage the other night, now she wants her own Cow... mmmm

Baking

Cinnamon Scrolls

Just before going in the oven

 were recently added to the home baked menu, love 'em !

Breads and Scrolls proving near the fire
Stored in the freezer, they are easily reheated over the fire in a small metal pan.  No Gas or electricity (even though we're 100% renewable) needed !

In fact, I am off to heat one now !  Ooo 'roo !

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

and again with the cooking

When life hands you lemons, make lemon cheesecake.  There are a couple bush lemon trees on some public land just down the road that are currently full of lemons

Using the recipe below it's quite easy

Easy Lemon Cheescake

Ingredients

397 grams sweetened condensed milk
80 grams butter
300 grams cream cheese
285 ml of thickened cream that's been 1/2 whipped cream
4 large lemons
biscuits (crushed for the base)

Procedure


  • Take a loose bottomed cake tin, melt butter slowly on stove and add the crush biscuits. Once the butter has been absorbed, turn into the tin and pat down gently and refrigerate.
  • For the cheesecake mixture, place the soft cheese into a mixing bowl and start to soften with an electric mixer add the sweetened condensed milk slowly, this will ensure no lumps from the cheese remain
  • Then add the cream
  • Squeeze the lemons
  • Add the lemon juice to the bowl a bit at a time & you'll find the mixture starts to thicken
  • Once all of the lemon juice has been added then transfer this to the biscuit base and refrigerate for an hour. 


We added some grated lemon rind to get a but more tang !

Easy lemon cheesecake
Long time blog followers ha ha ha ! May remember we had a visit from our local superhero, Superfixerupperman the other week, lucky we did as we used the repaired pan for the cheesecake above.!

Lemon Delicious

on the topic of desserts, we were at a friends house a week ago and they made a "traditional" Lemon Delicious or Baked Lemon Pudding.

Lemon Delicious borrowed recipe

They had no lemons and made it on limes, equally "delicious".  We have plenty of lemons, so off Toni went again

Lemon Delecious

Served six it said... mmmm :)

and Sweet Potato Soup

You may remember a couple blog posts ago about the sweet potatoes, well after boiling away on the stove,

Stove is heating the cottage, heating water for the dishes (rainy day, no solar)
and cooking the soup

this is the end result, after it goes through the blender for 20 seconds (renewable solar energy used for the blender !)

Home made bread with sweet potato soup, parsley from the garden
and some grated Granna Pedarno cheese