Kitchen Garden Guides

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hi..... I'm Pickle


image Hi, I'm Pickle and I can do all kinds of cool stuff with my ball. There is a new trick I have just invented. I got Kate to take some photos of it for you..... it starts with me getting up on the couch with my favourite ball.....








First, I make out I am hiding the ball between the cushions on the couch......

Then I grab hold of it like this....

Then I do this fun manoeuvre...

and end up all dizzy, wondering what happened to the ball.....

Did you see me?

Here's me practicing my tricks with my outside ball.

I also love pots because you can throw them in the air, you can put your feet or your head in them and there are hundreds of them at my place!

Most fun of all is making out I am an otter and sliding down the bank into the pond. But when I come racing inside all wet and muddy I get put out again. Not sure why!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bringing people together

There is always the dilemma, in forming action groups, of how to bring in those who are outside your circle of contacts. Plus, there are people who simply do not want to join your cause. But something like a transition group needs to communicate with everybody.... that is the whole point .... to make change for everyone and have the whole community onside. The other problem is funding.... there's no money for signs and posters and hiring halls for meetings. Luckily here the bottom pub kindly lets us have meetings there...and of course everyone buys coffee, drinks, snacks etc so it is a win/win situation.

In order to forge community spirit and start people thinking about the whole local thing, a member of our transition group is organising a raffle. He has been to every business in Cygnet (that's not many!) and from them has received a voucher for whatever it is they do/sell.

To enter the draw to win a prize you simply shop/do business at a local shop/ hairdresser/ real estate agents etc... free entry, no strings attached.

Every time you shop locally, you get a raffle ticket. Brilliant, don't you think? Prizes will be the vouchers he has collected from the businesses.

This brings together everyone, not just people interested in the transition movement, and throws at them a morsel of enticement to think local, as a first step. It incorporates the local shops too, and getting business onside is paramount. People stand outside the shops, chatting, and their news travels from one person to the next. If someone has just been given a raffle ticket for buying something at the bakery, the IGA, the butcher then soon everyone she passes in the street (of this small town) will know.

At this stage, it does not matter what they buy.... the first step is to get them to buy in Cygnet instead of driving to the big supermarkets further afield. I love our local shops and find there is barely anything I need which I cannot get here (except for the totally useless Mitre 0/10, that is!)

Rod is doing a great job with the Transition Cygnet website and evidently there is a logo happening. We just need people to use it the website.... and slowly the wheels will start to turn.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

House sit in Hobart, Tasmania for summer

There is a Tasmanian friend of mine who is going to be away from Nov 29th 2010 to Jan 10th 2011 and she needs a house sitter. She is a keen gardener and needs someone to care for her pots and garden whilst staying in her home in Hobart.

The place is very central but peaceful, great views, north facing, 3 bedroom, new kitchen, big sunny deck, very pleasant home. The person would need to contribute for cost of power and gas, and a donation towards general expenses of household life would be much appreciated.

Hobart is beautiful, like Sydney in miniature.... all situated around bays, with views to die for. There are fishing punts for fresh seafood right at the end of the main street and 2 fabulous weekend markets. Gosh, if I didn't live in Tasmania already I would be taking up this opportunity as fast as a speeding bullet. It is amazing that she even has to ask.... most people in the world would grab this chance before the words got out of her mouth!

Summer in Hobart is beautiful. They call 30C "stinking hot" and anyway the sea breeze always comes by in the afternoon so life is extremely pleasant. There is plenty of sun and also (hopefully) some rain to keep things fresh. Local festivals abound... and the berries are a reason in themselves to want to come!

If you are thinking of Tasmania as a destination this summer, please contact me ASAP before the chance is lost. And, what is even more exciting to me, is that you and I can share some fun, some sun, some walks and some great food together as I am only 50 minutes from Hobart.

Have a look at where Hobart is on this map.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Prince Charles.... born into his position for a purpose...

and these few words, so well put, indicate what that purpose may be.

I have a lot of respect for Prince Charles and admire his efforts to be outspoken about the planet, about agriculture, architecture, history, science and about what we should see as an opportunity to succeed, not a fear of failure.....

by creating an active state of harmony......

"Harmony" is the new book from The Prince of Wales. Working for more than two years with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly, The Prince today sets out his own personal view of how we can live sustainably to protect the long-term future of our planet.  The book is accompanied by a film.....


In Harmony The Prince brings together his unique wealth of experience to present a positive agenda for a wide array of modern challenges. From farming and engineering to medicine, architecture and education, Harmony suggests that by taking the best of modern science and technology and combining these with traditional knowledge and methods, we can begin to restore the balance between Man and Nature.


Read more.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Snow and sourdough


image When I looked out the window soon after 6am, all the hills around me were white. I opened the door to let Pickle out.... one whiff of the cold and he backed away from the door and crept back to bed in front of the fire.

I, on the other, changed the lens on my camera and went outside to catch the moment and feel the chill.

Beautiful. This is what I came here for.

The sky opened up, the sun shone brilliantly and for a couple of hours it was a magic day. Coming in for coffee about 10am was excuse enough for the weather to decline into rage and torment, crying curtains of frozen tears for the rest of the day.

I slopped about in the bog, loading up with almost the last of my firewood, and had burnt the lot before dark! However, this return to winter gave me the opportunity to try out a sourdough method recently learned from my friend, Jan, of "tomato appreciation society" fame!

Fortunately, I had listened to the weather forecast yesterday and so started the sourdough process then, in anticipation of today being an excellent day for cooking. Following Jan's no knead method, the dough is left to rise for a good 18 hours for its first rising. The second rising is for a couple of hours during which time it is important to heat the oven to its hottest temperature, along with a cast iron pot and lid. The bread cooks in the pot, with the lid on, for 1/2 an hour then another 15 minutes at a slightly lower temperature, with the lid off.


You are not supposed to cut the bread for 2 hours but hey, don't tell Jan, but I could not wait that long.... so I decided I would cut it after I had done the washing up.... and look! I have never made sourdough this good before! Mine is dusted with polenta but you could use various other things.

Now I have indigestion and feel VERY full because it was impossible to stop at just one slice! The second slice went very nicely with a plate full of spinach topped with a poached egg, for dinner, though.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I've found it.....

..... the kindred spirit!

I wrote about a beautiful little stall and a lovely young woman (whose name I now know is Paulette) at the Tas Farmgate Market in Hobart.... where I bought all kinds of wonderful, interesting things a few weeks ago.... well, she has a blog and it is fabulous, inspiring, fun and she eats all the crazy stuff I eat!

Provenance Growers

Yippee, skippity doo dah!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Skyrise Greenery and a magical, babbling brook


OK, so this is NOT Pickle..... there is so much good stuff happening in the world, I can't stop wanting to show you!

I keep writing half a blog piece and not finishing them.... so many different topics, from cheese to rocket science, common sense, happy gardeners and seed sowing.... even this Singapore conference called Skyrise Greenery and Biover-city from Wilson's blog.

Why does the media focus so much on fighting and accidents and politician's scuffles, when there is so much worth while information pouring out from every corner of the world, every day? I reckon Maggie could tell us more than enough great stuff, all by herself!

Today I cleaned out the chook pen. Hard to know what to call it really.... its a couple of old apple boxes, on upturned, old metal drums, with a couple of sheets of corrugated iron over the top..... typical Tasmanian construction, using stuff from the tip shop.

I have been putting off doing it for ages but Wednesday is "please myself" day so I did it.... because I didn't have to.... I am a bit like that.... I hate doing stuff if I have to! Anyway, I had a wheelbarrow load of dry, old chook poo and straw so I did another job I have been putting off, clearing around some of the young fruit trees, making a chook proof ring around each and filling it with goodies to feed the developing fruit; namely the stuff from the chook pen. Sounds rather dull and why am I telling you this??

.... Because the fruit trees are all in full blossom and a babbling brook chatted merrily away with me as Pickle and I worked.... well, Pickle mostly ate chook poo, dug holes or chased the chooks, while I did the work. If you are from almost anywhere you will still be thinking "So what?". BUT if you are from South Australia you will entirely understand how enthralling, relaxing, uplifting and wonderful it is to have a babbling brook beside you as you work in your garden!

Jersey cows with long eyelashes chewed the deep, green grass on the other side of the chook yard..... the willow is donning her new, lime green gown and it swished this way and that in the light spring breeze. All the while, the water flowed beneath the trees, which themselves housed families of wrens, honey eaters and other singing birds, building spring nests....

I felt like I was in rural England.... where apple trees laden with blossom are de rigeur and brooks babble in every little village, dipping under roman bridges, turning millstones, or accessed down cobbled lanes dotted with Tudor pubs and women in scarves.

If I say it felt magical, you will ask what I put in my gin and tonic! But to me, it was magical. I chose this house to live in after a rather stressful year; it could have been a disaster. It was the only place I actually looked at, in an alphabetical listing of likely 1 acre properties in Tasmania. So when it feels so right, so me, it really is magic.....

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One sunny Cygnet day....

The sun was shining and spring was swinging through the trees as I headed outside to take more photos of happy little plants appearing in my garden. I walked this way and that. I sat, knelt, twisted and contorted. I stood, leant and laughed with Pickle. But then, on the way back to the house, something orange caught my eye next to a rarely used little pathway. I had to clear away long grassy weeds to reveal it. It took my breath away.

I have come back to the photos time and time again during the day, between house work and book work; how can anything be so beautiful...... A moment ago, as the sun was setting I thought I'd go and see it again, for real.... and at first I couldn't find it but then I saw a shrivelled crimson flower completely folded up and finished. Oh. Its all over. Just a memory and some photos. All those millions of years to become so incredibly detailed and then it closes up and disappears. There is not another in my garden. Its like I found the secret to perfection and in doing so, destroyed it.

To blaze it across this page would seem brazen and almost rude. So, you will have to click here to open the door. Please click slideshow and enjoy what nature has provided for us.

There were plenty of other beauties in the garden today. I wish we had bird-whistle blogs because it is such a treat to be accompanied by these tiny, elusive creatures as I wander through their home, my garden. In fact I feel I am the newcomer here and that the birds and plants know far more about where I am than I do. I feel awkward saying "my garden" every time I write it or tell people about it, but it is long winded to say anything else! And anyway, they already think I am mad, that would really be the icing on the cake.

image imageMy very most favourite vegetable in the garden is fennel. I have written about it so many times on the Hills and Plains Seedsavers blog. It was one of the first things I sowed when I arrived here but it was obviously too late as it has taken months to get going. Now it is finally becoming plump and beautiful.....soon I will be slicing the crisp, juicy flesh into my salads and those feathery fronds are such a delight to touch and smell and photograph....


If the blossom of the Lady in the Snow apple tree is anything to go on, its going to be another bumper crop
image image


The oak tree is in flower and leaf and the sugar snap peas are as high as an elephant's eye in my poly house

All of the berry, grape and kiwi fruit cuttings people have given me are bursting into leaf

And the wonderful scent from this unknown bush, and many others under the willow, fills the air

Everywhere is a riot of colour and I have no idea what most of it is!

Whatever this delightful little tree is going to be?

The display goes on and on.....

But to me, a veg-garden-holic, nothing brought a bigger smile to my face than the day I removed the cloche and revealed the glory of green I had grown from seed all winter long in my experimental bed.....

which now is screened from my lovely ladies' prying eyes and beaks, and from the ferocious winds, by miles of white shade cloth, cheap polyester fleece, and fish nets gathered from other parts of my garden. Along both sides are raspberry canes, given to me over the last 6 months, and all preparing to provide me with luscious loads of fresh raspberries in the months ahead.
Next I was going to put photos of Pickle's contribution to the day but... ... I couldn't choose a photo - he is soooo photogenic -  so the next post will be entirely Pickle Pics!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Delving into deep pockets of thought.....then having fun!

Two weekends in a row going to Hobart..... will I ever live it down! But it was certainly worth it both times. This time it was the Botanic Gardens Spring Fair, formerly the Tulip Festival but now so much more. I met Erica at the gate and we checked the programme.... Paul Healey was about to talk in the vegie patch so off we went. We sat on the edge of one of the plots you see on Gardening Australia, along with maybe 50 other people of various ages, shapes and varieties.....

image I thought Paul would be talking about his Barnvelder chooks, of which he is an expert and a passionate enthusiast but instead he talked about vegetable gardening. He talked about how we are all responsible for the state of the world and how we can change what we do and make a difference. Paul calls a spade a spade. There was no airy fairy introduction, and what he had to say should have been recorded and broadcast to every one who eats.

He talked about designing house blocks for food growing. He revealed his childhood in North Melbourne and how his grandfather got him started on organics. There was a wonderful vision created of the transformation of his street in an industrial zone into a food paradise, when Greek and eastern European families moved in, bringing backyard milking goats, olive trees, grape vines and tomato plants, as well as the joie de vivre that comes with cultures whose greatest aspiration is to share food with friends and family.

image We heard about the Greek man who removed all the metal sheeting from the massive shed on the block next door to Paul in Melbourne, and used the frame to grow every imaginable climbing fruit vine, filling the concreted space under it with seats and a BBQ, laughter, sharing and eating..... and no doubt drinking the home made wine from his grapes.

He talked about worm farming vs composting..... about worm farming as a better way to turn everything into something wonderfully versatile and nutritious for the garden.... about carbon and how hot composting emits all kinds of things we should be trying to remove from the atmosphere..... about how not to be in such a rush and that hot composting is simply, once again, man's synthesized use of a slow natural process, to produce instant results and now is found to be, surprise surprise, not what its meant to be.

He talked about starting small in your food growing life, about not growing in lines but in the jumble that I am always going on about as being the only way to produce vegetables naturally, without needing to use any form of pest or disease control. He mentioned families working in the garden and learning to use unmechanised ways of doing things, such as a weighted chaff cutter instead of a mulcher..... about what I call "reality fitness".... working in your garden instead of the gym.

It was a talk of passion and enthusiasm and hope. And after more than half an hour, just when I thought he was about to wrap it up, he said "But what I am going to talk about today is....." and Erica and I looked at our watches and decided we had enough to absorb from Paul already and wandered off...... filled with admiration and ideas and stories and so so glad we had bothered to go to that tiny corner of the world on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon and hear Paul delve into deep pockets of thought.

image Erica said she wasn't going to stay long at the fair..... well she stayed for 3 hours and we had the best time! We bought unbelievably cheap Tasmanian native plants from Wild Seed Tasmania. We bought vegetable seedlings from Pete's vegie patch, we had lunch on the lawns, watching, listening and feeling the power of the Taiko Drummers and I NEARLY bought a bag of Dutch donuts..... if only Erica had not been there! We wandered the gardens filled with tulips, and other colour and gazed silently at the spectacle of the conservatory, artistically filled with every imaginable orchid, in full flower.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Books to shake, move and caress your soul

I found the first 5 of these books, including the photos, blurb and prices on the Green Harvest website. Most are Australian. I am going to keep adding to this myself, so soon there will be a list of my favourite food related books. (Why does blogger have to make things so difficult? I would love to have this as a link at the top of the blog but...... it is soooooooo hard to add to it after its been published!)

Wild Sourdough - The Natural Way to Bake

Yoke Mardewi, 2009, Western Australia

This is a hands-on and highly practical guide to sourdough bread-making at home.

There’s a comprehensive list of equipment needed and a discussion of flours, grains and other ingredients. The whole process is explained step-by-step, including time taken for each stage. There’s also an alternative method for time-strapped people “how to fit sourdough into your life”. You’ll learn how easy it is to make your own starter.

Enjoy an excellent, diverse range of recipes accompanied by mouth-watering photographs. The recipes are divided into White, Wheat grain, Wheat-free, Savoury, and Sweet sourdough breads as well as sourdough pizza, pastry, flat breads, crackers, cakes and pastry. You could be turning out Black Rice Sourdough Ciabatta; Quinoa Spelt Sourdough; Beetroot and Feta Sourdough Loaf; or Bitter Chocolate, Cranberry and Pistachio Spelt sourdough. Irresistible!    

The author runs a successful sourdough bread-making school in Perth and her passion for sourdough bread-making is evident in this beautiful book.

224pp $30.00 

A Year in a Bottle: How To Make Your Own Delicious Preserves All Year Round

Sally Wise,  2008, Tasmania

Sally Wise has been a passionate preserver of fruits and vegetables for over three decades. In this concise and practical book she explains the methods and basic chemistry of preserving and goes on to share more than 100 recipes for jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles, cordials and spreads.

There is clear advice on techniques, with straightforward explanations of basic preserving methods. Also included: a helpful trouble-shooting chart; a chapter on drying; sugar-free recipes and tables on preparing fruit and vegetables for freezing. These recipes, emphasizing temperate Australia, will help you make the most of your excess of apricots, apples, crab-apples, pears, plums, blackberries, cherries, rhubarb, tomatoes, tamarilloes, lilly pillies, passionfruit, strawberries, raspberries and roses. 

Sally has written several cookbooks and can regularly be heard on radio 936 Hobart on Saturdays, after Peter Cundall's gardening talk back (9am).

255pp  $25.00

Preserving the Italian Way

Pietro Demaio 2008, Australia

Reading this Australian book is like stepping into a gorgeous Italian delicatessen! The impressive range of old-style recipes from regional Italy provides easy-to-follow instructions for preserving fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, accompanied by engaging anecdotes of childhood and travel. There are dozens of recipes for pickles, sauces, syrups, wine, cheese, salami, prosciutto, liqueurs, pesto and sauces. Easy minimal tool methods include using salt and weights, preserving in oil and pickling. Recipes for rustic breads are accompanied by instructions for building a bread and pizza oven. While many books focus on what to do with a glut of fruit and vegetables this book addresses and targets those who aim to produce their own meat and dairy.

247pp full colour pictures $40.00


Wood Oven Recipes: Volume One

Pizzas, Roasts, Entrees, Desserts and more…

In this companion volume to the bestseller Back Yard Ovens, inspired and creative back yard oven owners share their stories, hot tips for using their oven and recipes. Learn how to make the most of your back yard oven: produce the perfect pizza; bake bush tucker bread; roast a whole fish or turn out a tempting Tarte Tatin. You may never go back into the kitchen! More than 30 recipes covering entrees, mains (meat or veg) desserts and baking with over 14 pages dedicated to pizza, with delicious-looking colour photos throughout.

80pp $20.00

The Perfect Pickle Book (how could I resist a book about Pickle!)

David Mabey and David Collison 2007 (UK)

Armed with this book, you could pickle just about everything in your garden, and then some! Originating as an accompaniment to the British TV show “The Perfect Pickle Program”, this book includes some very useful, delicious-sounding, tried and tested recipes, none of which is too complex.

Recipes are grouped according to country or area of origin – you can dip into “The British Tradition”, “North & South America”, “The Caribbean”, “Scandinavia & Northern Europe”,  “Eastern Europe”, “The Mediterranean” or “The Middle East” for your pickling inspiration.  Whether you’re looking to pickle vegetables, fruit, fish, or meat, you’ll find an answer here.

Here’s a few examples: Pickled Okra, Pickled Nasturtium Seeds, Pickled Elder Shoots, Pickled Water Chestnuts, Tofu Pickled in Miso, Gravlax, Pumpkin Chutney.

204pp $25.00



Spice Travels

Ian Hemphill 2002, NSW, Australia

A beautiful book for anyone interested in where and how the spices we use every day in the kitchen are grown. A tale of one of Australia's best known and much loved spice merchants, Ian Hemphill. Ian shares his passion and knowledge for everything to do with spices as he travels the farthest reaches of the world in his research.

I bought it quite recently at a second hand book shop in Moonta, SA, for $9.



 Herbs for the Kitchen

Irma Goodrich Mazza, 1979, USA

Amongst the cookbooks I have had forever, is a little gem published first in 1939 in the USA called "Herbs for the Kitchen". It was one of my first books on herbs and I have some great memories of discovery the joys of cooking with herbs, in my early 20's. My version was published in 1979. The language is delightful and it makes a good read now, as well as being full of ideas, suggestions and recipes for satisfying a husband like her's, who was "a Latin".


The price inside the front cover when I bought it new, says $2.95.... shows my age!