Saturday, March 31, 2012

Independence days: Week 8

Plant something: Potting up more herbs to transport down to Tom at the townhouse- lemongrass, rosemary, curry plant to name a few.
Potted up some geranium cuttings I took in town and some bunya seeds too.
Planting the years garlic.

Harvest something: eggs,herbs, rocket, beans, strawberries,tomatoes and zucchini .
The turkeys below will be 'harvested' next week.

Preserve something: just freezing leftovers this week.

Waste not: The usual scraps to the chooks, worms and compost.

Want not: Reading a lot and gathering up inspiration and ideas to tweak for us. I have quite a few pallets to make in to something 'new' for the farm.
I really do want for nothing, I have everything I need.

Eat the food: Meals at home have been varied this week. Chilli, curry, stir fry and a couple of soups. Baking morning tea treats and also some meringues as a special last day of school term treat for Grace and her friends.

Building Community: I have been a homebody this week and haven't done much community building at all. I am taking part in EarthHour tonight and I have decided to host an Australia's Biggest Morning Tea at home this year to be held in May.

Skill Up: Honing my soap making skills or lack there of.

Also skilling up on weeding. My absence from the farm has meant that although the plants are fine and dandy, they are just crowded by weeds but every day I am making a little progress.

Independence days is hosted by Sharon if you would like to read about other's efforts or even share your own.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

Bec asked a little while ago if I would post the recipe I use for my chocolate and zucchini cake and I am finally getting around to it. We had a few zeppelins to deal with after the time away so plenty for cakes, biscuits and anything else I can think of. Last night I added grated zucchini to the meat sauce in our lasagne and it went down without any complaints. Lucky Tom is not at home, he would have spotted it.

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake


110 grams butter, softened

180 grams brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

1 tsp coffee

2 cups plain flour

1 tsp bicarb

1 tbsp cocoa

2 cups grated zucchini, drained well

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180 deg C.

Grease and line a loaf tin.

Cream sugar and butter until pale then add the eggs, coffee and vanilla.

Sift in the dry ingredients and combine.

Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips and mix until well distributed through the mixture.

Spread into prepared tin and bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

In my oven which cooks quite slowly, it take about 70 minutes to cook this cake. When it is done, let it cool a little then remove from the tin and enjoy a piece while still warm... delicious.

That was yesterdays cooking. Today I have sliced up nine onions and quite a bit of garlic for some onion soup which is slowly cooking away. What a difference a day makes.

I am also going to try another zucchini cake recipe today (yesterdays is all gone) but without the chocolate this time and with a lemon glaze. If it passes the taste test then I will share the recipe.

Unfortunatley life isn't all baking and I have been busy, busy trying to make a dent in the weeds which have made our garden their home during our absence. Farm work too.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Independence Days

Plant something: Planted up pots of herbs and row of lavenders at the townhouse for Tom. The pots were left behind by the previous occupants and I took the plants from here on the farm.

Sowing seeds for winter goodness, turnips at the top of the list.

Harvest something: Since we have been home, we have been harvesting like crazy. There are a lot of tomatoes to get through and the sheep and poultry have been enjoying the glut.
Also harvesting beans, rocket, chillies, herbs. flowers, parsnips
Preserve something: tomatoes into tomato sauce.

Waste not: Composting, feeding the worm farms and treating the livestock to some garden abundance. They love it.

Eat the food: The good part of our trip away was that because it is our place, we can still cook our meals just like at home. We took produce from the farm and cooked it there supplemented with locally bought ingredients.

The homemade/homegrown highlight of the week was the parsnip soup we had last night with the poppy and carraway seed crackers. Icheat a little and use a pasta machine to roll the cracker dough thinly. Not to the thinnest setting or the seeds rip holes in the dough (trust me I know this).

Building community: Well I should be in Nundle today building community with the sewing girls but circumstances were against that. Not to waste the opportunity of a glorious autumn day though I have been gardening to my hearts delight.
Tonight we will be switching off the lights for Earth Hour and having a candle lit dinner with our own homemade candles.

Skill Up: I have been working diligently on my granny squares and learning new variations to make more intricate patterns.

My workplace, I love it.
The Independence Days Challenge is organised by Sharon. It is a great place to garner ideas and inspiration.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Settling Down

My version of the simply life has been off the rails lately with travelling so much and spending so much time away from home. But since Tuesday, things have started to settle back in to the normal routine, thankfully. Tim went back to work today after a few weeks off so things were even more 'normal'. I love him being home but we do tend to take more tea breaks and sit around just a little more. Great for our relationship not necessarily as good for the to-do list.

I have a lot of weeding to catch up on. Just as the garden has been having an autumn growth spurt, so have the weeds. The parsnips above are the byproduct of my overzealous weeding. Not wasted though. The minestrone I had planned for tonights dinner was just replaced with parsnip and pear soup served with poppy and caraway seed crackers.

What I did manage to achieve while away in Sydney was some granny squares. I really am not a pink kind of girl whatever that means but these colour ways have grown on me. I joined a Facebook group which is swapping squares within Australia. Who knew there were so many pattern variations for the humble granny square.

I really have a renewed love for my work here.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm glad

My last post was on March 9th and I have been away from the farm since then. We moved my son into his permanent Sydney home that day and it has been busy, busy there ever since. Cleaning, cooking (always a challenge in a strange kitchen) and spending too to set up house for him. I am hoping that he will be happy there and enjoy his university experience over the next five years. I was more than a little sad to say goodbye to him on Monday morning but the prospect of coming home gladdened my heart.
The first thing I did after making sure the livestock were all happy and accounted for was to go tot he vegetable garden. I'm glad I got home in time to enjoy these late sunflowers while they were still in the happy stage. Sunflowers always seem cheery and welcoming until they become heavy with seeds and droop their heads. The summer/ early autumn vegetable garden can become a bit wayward in no time so there is a lot of tidying and harvesting to do now we are home.

Being away from home always makes me ponder. Ultimately I always come up with the same answer, that this place is where I want to be. It doesn't take long for me to miss the work, the sounds, the peace and the complete darkness in the night. The city always seems to have a glow and I find it hard to sleep soundly. Having said all of that, I am willing to pick up and head off at a moments notice if Tom needs me there.
I'm glad to be back.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Independence Days Update #3-5

With travel being high on my agenda these last few weeks I have kept up-to-date with the Independence Days updates but here is my attempt for this week. The idea comes from Sharon and there are always some great blogs to discover from fellow Independence Days followers.

I am out of batteries on my camera too so unfortunately there are no pictures to go along with todays post. I have been surprised this week to find out how attached I am to my camera and picture taking.

Plant something: cauliflower, Brussell's sprouts, cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli and regular green broccoli. All planted in the mini greenhouse.

Harvest something: zucchini, tomatoes and beans mostly.

Preserve something: Freezing grated zucchini from the ones that got away from us and in an effort to do something with the tomatoes when time was short, I slow roasted a couple of kilo's with salt, pepper and white wine for a rich sauce and froze it to use with gnocci later on.

Waste not: Regular composting and scrap feeding to poultry and worms.

Want not: I do really want a new car as mine is in need of some work which is just not worth the expense but we are going to make do with one car which will require some careful shuffling and very likely some early morning starts for me and the girls.

Eat the food: having been away for most of last week it was great to be at home to cook and dine. We have been eating mostly from the garden which is having a flush of autumn growth. Baking has been on the agenda too- honey pear cake and biscuits/cookies.

Building community: Giving away some surplus eggs and tomatoes. Free food definitely fosters good community relations.

Skill up: Crocheting granny squares beyond the basic square. I have added flowers and other fancy stitches to my repertoire.


Monday, March 5, 2012


Garlic is a much loved flavouring here on the farm. I grow more than enough for us each year so there is enough to give away and to keep for planting the next season. When my garlic came from the supermarket I thought garlic was garlic but growing a few different varieties really does open your eyes and tastebuds to a whole world of different garlic flavour. Some are definitely on the mild side and some have quite a bite to them. It is now time to order new bulbs and there are some temptations to be sure but with finances tight, I will stick to my free members seeds only. Usually I plait my garlics for storage and they have managed to hang in the laundry room and keep for many months. They do look quite appealing too.

This time however I was a little lazy and decided to try just chopping off the dry tops, brushing off the excess dirt and storing them in a ventilated box. This method actually seems to be better for me. Perhaps because there is less light in the box than the laundry so there has been no sprouting whatsoever. Next year I will probably err on the side of laziness again and leave the pretty plaits behind.