Sunday, June 24, 2012

Garden scenes from the solstice

A quick journey through my garden shortly after the winter solstice.  It is a cold winter, very crisp days, a little rain but mostly sunny. There have been many frosty in the area but no so many here. The odd plucky little potato and nasturtium vine are testamony to few frosts.  After the solstice we acknowledge continuing cold but celebrate the gradual lengthening of days.

For late June however the garden is a little confused.....

An agapanthus on the shady side of the hedge in flower to spite the cold.

Daffodils a month early...
And jonquils ...
My earlier rhododendrens...
blue and yellow, marquerites and lavender...
and snow flakes.
In my vegie garden I have been weeding and mulching for a new berry patch.

 My new berry plants have arrived from the ...
 Diggers Club. I have high hopes of delicious berries this summer.

 A teensy wincy cauliflower.

And salad greens galore. I have planted rocket, red sorrel and Japanese red spinach or komatsuna.  My aim this year is to plant lots of different plants, lots of unusual varieties.

Hopefully we will have a fruitful season ahead.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homespun muesli recipe

Apples and cinnamon baking in the oven. Smells so enticing, so comforting when its cold.
Tonight I made muesli or granola, for the second time. I feel ready to share it with you now.

If you've been following my cooking posts you'll know I'm a slap dash sort of cook, a bit of this, bit more of that. I'm not precise or fussy. This recipe is very adaptible. I'll share as I mix it up. Please let me know your variations too.

Mix together the following dry ingredients:
rolled oats
wheat germ or bran
sunflower seeds
pepitas (green pumpkin kernels)
nuts of choice - pecans, hazlenuts etc...

Stir these wet ingredients into the dry until well combined.
Juice 1 apple. If you don' have a juicer about 1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread onto a lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 35 minutes or so.
Keep stirring evey 10 minutes until cooked evenly. It should brown gently.  It will crisp up as it cools.

Add chia seeds. I haven't done my research to know how well the nutrients cope with cooking so I added them at the end. Add dried fruit of choice - I added sultanas and dates. I recommend organic where possible. Sulphur doesn't agree with me so I look for low or no preservative fruits. Additive 220 (sulphur) keeps fruit from turning brown. That's why organic dried apricots are black not orange. Visually less appealing but they taste the same. You wouldn't notice the colour or lack of, in this muesli.

Store in an airtight container. My last batch lasted beautifully. 

Serve with fresh yoghurt. Its so easy, so adaptable to your own taste and is sure to impress your friends.  I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New blog link - Very-Marie

Now here is a blog I am interested to follow. Very-Marie is setting out on a journey to achieve work-live balance. Ah I certainly struggle with that one.

Right now I'm winning. I am leaving work early twice a week to go swimming. So my exercise quotient has gone up and that feels good. I am having half hour lunches a few days a week to help me get out early.

I am not sewing right now but I am cooking and gardening. I am eating well: homemade bread, yogurt, muesli, extremely fresh eggs! I am on a sugar free month apart from fresh fruit so I am eating more fruit. I can be a bit slack about fruit normally.

Recently I have felt that I wasn't spending enough time with friends. Its hard to do everything and this had suffered. Today we went to a lovely housewarming party for friends we hadn't seen in a couple of years. I have had lunch with a couple of good friends over the past week. Next weekend we are going to stay over with friends and then go with them to a zine fair in Wollongong.  So things have improved there too.  All I needed was to recognise what was making me sad and address it. I have and that's good.

Ah balance, you are a hard thing to capture and retain. But we need to keep trying. Remain mindful and aware. Constantly adjust when we realise we are off track. This is the path, I think, to contentment.

So I recommend this blog to you and wish very-marie very well on her journey.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

yoghurt update

The yoghurt set! Yay, I won.

I feel very homespun again today. I ate homemade bread for breakfast with a poached, freshly laid egg, and have homemade yoghurt and muesli for morning tea.

I hope you are eating well today too.

Yoghurt challenge

I am finding making yoghurt a challenge. I am determined to not let it beat me though. Naturally.

I bought a yoghurt maker. It is like a big thermos that you fill with boiling water. A jar goes inside with the powdered yogurt and water. Leave it 10 hours and hey presto, yoghurt.

Well, in theory.

A couple of times this has been the case. One time it was kind of stringy. Othertimes still runny.
We definately don't want to get sick so we're very cautious. These attempts have been thrown out.

So back to the drawing board...

The instructions say cool water. Well research has suggested this could be more tepid-cool, even body temperature, just not warm. Seriously just give me a temperature!

I measured the temp of our tap water: 10 degrees Celcius. Well that's borderline cold not cool. I have added a little hot water and brought it up to 28 degrees. That still felt cool really.

Last time I left the thermos on the kitchen bench, next to a window, closed but, we're getting down to 2-5 degrees overnight. I have moved it into the lounge.

I'll let you know what I find in the morning. Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Update on the chickens

Our three hens have had a lot more time out in the garden this week. Good for their health and good for their souls.

Kate is doing ok. She is healing. I am still quite amazed she's alive really after how bad her wounds were. By the end of today when she went back inside the coop she was looking raw again so I will put some more antiseptic spray on.  Her rear feathers are still bright purple from it. She will look better when they are all replaced after her moult.

The moult is on and we are getting very few eggs. I know moulting is natural. Since Kate has been pecked and as we have only had the hens since January it is a difficult time to be confident. I think they are all ok. They seem ok. Bright eyes, bright combs.

So ok that today Scully caught and murdered a frog. It was quite horrible. The frog let us this pitius squeal. It happened very quickly. Scully pounced, and dashed off with the poor doomed frog in her mouth. They all had a turn trotting around with it, legs akimbo. I don't know where the remains ended up but I do hope the dogs don't find it.

We push on.  We feed them, clean their coop. Enjoy their company.  Pray for the frogs...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Breakfast egg cups

I have started making divine baked egg cups for weekend breakfasts.

They are easy and a great twist on eggs on toast.

Cut the crusts off a fesh, soft slice of bread.

Line a muffin cup with baking paper and push the bread slice down into the cup.

Crack a fresh egg into the bread cup.  Top with crumbled parmesan, herbs or mustard.

Enjoy with salad or fake bacon, mushrooms and spinach.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Update on Kate our injured hen

Kate spent the day languishing in our bathroom. She is a bit brighter tonight. She is very alert, her eyes and comb are bright. I worried last night and again today when at work that she'd die. But she is fighting on. She really doesn't want to be touched though. Can't say I really blame her.

I did some more research today and spoke to the wonderful Vanessa, an environmental planner.  Tomorrow if Kate seems to be healing I will let her into the garden with the other girls, under supervision! I am concerned about infection and more fighting.  I am using an antibiotic spray on her wound.

In the meantime I will make changes to their coop.  I have learnt that the top chook should be sleeping higher than the other girls. They've always cuddled up together.  But now that they are getting older they need to establish their hierarchy.  So I will work out a way to add roosts. We also need to make a daytime run that we can move around the garden to give them more space and more variety.

I believe that their diet is good. I try hard to make sure they have variety - mash with warm water and milk powder, scratch mix, scraps, weeds and grass. I clean their coop regularly and change their water.

I am worried of course about what will happen if I put Kate back in the coop.  If needs be we will re-house the unhappy pecking one.

It is so sad, I have tried hard to give them a good life. I feel a failure. But I will press on and seek chookie bliss. They are sooo special to us.  We are determined to win!


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