Friday, February 28, 2014

What's cooking?

While reinventing my blog I have taken the time to do some research.  AKA reading lots of blogs.  As I love cooking, a lot of the blogs I have come across discuss food, and more increasingly 'diets'. 

I don't really like using the "D" word as I always think it implies an end date.  For me I try to strike a balance by not really classifying foods as bad or good.  Rather I aim to eat lots of fruit and vegetables, mostly home kill meat, and breads/cereals.  We do not have any food allergies or intolerances in our family so no foods are banned on this basis.  I guess I just try to eat most food in it's most natural state, but have to say I find it hard to give up potato chips!

I love baking but there is so much talk these days about the detrimental effect of sugar, I have been looking at sugar free options.  I'm ok with honey as an alternative and have used this successfully to make bread.  However, it has become increasingly clear to me a lot of these 'sugar free" recipes are just that.  Free of sugar, but still contain a sugar like substance.  As I would prefer to eat food as nature intended I steer clear of artificial sweeteners like aspartame and it's various cousins.  I'm also wary of "syrups". How is corn or rice syrup created?  It reminds me of a comment I read regarding rice milk.  It was written by a raw milk advocate and they asked what a rice cow looked like.  Ok so not everyone uses cows milk for a variety of reasons but the point they were trying to make was more about the over processing of our foods and the impact that can have, particularly the rise of obesity and diabetes.

That brings me to the Paleo diet, or cave man diet as some refer to it.  As it is the 21st century I'm not sure why we want to eat like cave men, but I think the basic premise is that we eat less processed and more "as nature intended it" foods, and avoiding grains, legumes and some dairy products.  Sad face.  I loooooove dairy products especially cheese so don't think it's for me.

Paleo is a lot like the dietary guidelines from the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).  I have a copy of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon which discusses a diet of saturated fats, fermented foods, soaked grains and fresh organic produce.  I think this one is more me, although as busy Mum I find it hard not to look for convenience at times.  I don't think my sweet tooth will allow me to completely eliminate any 'sugars' but certainly reducing them, or finding less refined options can't be a bad thing!

Interesting! Where do u fall?
Shared on Facebook by Eatplaylovemore via

Friday, February 14, 2014

My light bulb moment

It is coming up 2 years since we moved to our 7 acres of paradise, so it seems like a good time to reflect on our journey thus far. 

Reading Linda Cockburn's book Living the Good Life really started me on the journey I am on today. We were living on a quarter acre section in an urban area with dreams of a lifestyle block. The house wouldn't sell, I was dealing with Post Natal Depression and life didn't seem so great. And then the light came on.
Reading Living the Good Life I realised I was putting my life on hold waiting for the dream property and then I would live a more self sufficient life. I had things round the wrong way. So I started living the way I wanted to, even if it was on a smaller scale. I got the vege garden well established, filled the glasshouse, learned how to preserve fruit, made jam, and did lots of research (and testing) of making things from scratch.  We even got some hens!  Somehow they made it all seem more real. 
We did eventually sell our house, and pack up and move to 7 acres 10 minutes drive from the town we had been living in.  We certainly have no regrets about the move, but there are always jobs to be done so it is no walk in the park.  It is however, more that worth the effort when you sit down exhausted at the end of a busy day and know you have done an honest days work.
We have learnt some lessons too in the short two years we have been on "the block".
  • Where there are livestock there are dead stock.
  • Never trust a goat.  They can leap over fences as tall as me and love nothing more than to eat my fruit trees!  I wouldn't be without them though.
  • Hens really do have a pecking order and if the top hen "exits stage left" it really unsettles the rest of the hens for a few days until another hen assumes the throne.
  • When it rains lots over 3 consecutive weeks, water can appear to be coming up from the ground in the strangest places.
  • Having a torch which works is really important because when you have animals to look after, going for midnight walks with your husband can be a regular occurence.
  • A 5 minute job will always take 60 minutes longer than that!
  • Goats can jump really high.  Especially if there is a fence to the orchard in the way.
We have also learned a lot about ourselves too.
  • Chickens REALLY are good for the soul.
  • I missed living in the country.
  • Our daughter can sing incredibly loud.
  • When we need to we can work pretty well as a team.
And finally
  • Baling twine really is the farmers duct tape.
  • I love baling twine and all it's various uses.
  • My husband does not like baling twine.
  • My husband is a perfectionist.  I am a "it'll be ok for now" fixer.  The two do not always work that well together.....


Thursday, February 13, 2014

10 ideas on how to stress less

I found this yesterday on Facebook from The Organised Housewife.  It has some good simple advice for us all in a busy world, especially my current chaos with a 6 year old firecracker, and her 11 week old brother.

10 ideas on how to stress less

I would sum it up by saying "Do things that nourish you".  For me that is a walk, yoga, listening to music, gardening, cooking, reading and play time with family to name a few.

With that in mind I'm enjoying a quiet afternoon inside as the rain has finally arrived.  Nice steady rain is a wonderful sound on the roof, especially when I spent an hour in the vege garden yesterday clearing weeds.  I took a before photo so you could see the wilderness I am working with!

This morning I made some Damson Plum jam with plums Miss 6 and I picked the other day.  I also made a jar of Damson Liqueur. My Mum has put in an order for Damson Gin for her birthday so when I pick the rest I'll make her some.

What have you done lately to nourish yourself? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Attack of the killer snails

Over the summer I have had terrible trouble with snails and/or slugs eating all my vegetable seedlings.  I lost 3 courgette plants in one night!  Needless to say I felt the need to do something about them and starting seeking out options.

Of course there are commercial baits but I would prefer to be as chemical free as possible while still managing to salvage some vegetables.  I also have chooks that free range around the garden so I would prefer not to have pellets scattered round if I can avoid it.

Some ideas I have heard of:
- Cut an orange and leave in the garden.  Slugs love them and for whatever reason get stuck to them.  I tried this and got one slug.  Does this mean it doesn't work?  Well I'm not sure really.  It obviously got one but if I thought I was going to have loads of protein for my chooks I was mistaken.  I also seemed to create a fantastic home for ants.  On to plan B.

- Go out at night with a torch and a bucket of salty water to drown snails.  I haven't tried this because I have a 10 week old baby and if I am not feeding him at night I am in bed.

- Sprinkle coffee grounds around plants.  I like this idea as the coffee grounds will break down and condition the soil so it is a double whammy.  I'm collecting some coffee grounds from home but will also ask at my local cafĂ©. 

I am going to try a comparison between commercial pellets and the coffee grounds and see if there is a marked difference.  This is sprouting broccoli on the left and Kale on the right with coffee sludge poured around the seedlings.  Lets see what happens.

What other solutions have you heard of and/or tried?  I would love to hear.

On a brighter note my tomatoes seem to be taking off and now starting to ripen.. Fantastic.  I have some Sweet 100 which are great for school lunches, and a tasty morsel on the way past the glasshouse, Money Maker and Black Krim.  Here's hoping for a good crop this year.

Monday, February 3, 2014

My new reality

It's the first day back at school for my daughter today after the summer break.  I have to admit while we butted heads at times over the holidays it is VERY quiet this morning.  I put the wee fulla back into his bed when I got back from drop off and he has gone back to sleep!

Soooooooo what to do.  Well most importantly have a coffee and something to eat in peace, listening only to the sound of the birds in the trees outside.  Mr Bellbird has gone AWOL this morning but there are plenty of others chirping on a lovely sunny day.

Washing is already hung out.  Animals fed.  Lambs collected by Dad and taken to saleyards.

Today is going to be a day for me and only me.  Well, interspersed with feeds for Dylan, collecting Miss 6 from the bus, making tea etc. 
Coffee and morning tea finished and now updating blog.

Maybe a to do list of goals for the week.
1. Declutter and tidy pantry
2. Clear space in garden and plant out broccoli and kale seedlings
3. Read books/magazines/blogs
4. Go for some walks
5. Do some Yoga

Right that is enough I feel.  Of course that is in addition to my normal everyday activities like copious washing (cloth nappies and baby clothes as Master 10 weeks has explosive bowels!!!), feeding animals, retrieving goats from neighbours, fixing electric fence that was wrecked when goats escaped into neighbours, cooking meals, and if any time left housework, and gardening.

It just makes me feel tired looking at it.  Maybe I need to schedule in a nap this morning :)