Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The Week That Was .....!!!

Last week my man and I took a few days away...first holiday in 12 months !! .... after a beautiful 4 nights in Robe, SA, which truly is an absolute gem to visit...breathtaking scenery with a great coastal vibe in the town, we headed to Cape Bridgewater, just 10 minutes from Portland. What an amazing place to visit with its fabulous stretch of beach and absolute tranquility.  

The Doorway Rocks along the Robe coastline, part of the limestone coast...walked the coast trail...just spectacular.

The house we stayed in at Robe was fitted out in 1960's retro - ....50mts from Glass Beach..with ocean view !!

Cape Bridgewater - we stayed in this cute as a button historical stone cottage, with fab views of the beach.

Cape Bridgewater beach which runs for a few kilometres...surrounded by wind farms

The fluffy girls had a blast on the one around so they were off lead and into it.
My ancestors come from Portland so we visited the grave of Samuel Proudfoot Hawkins..his historical home is listed by the National Trust as he was fairly prominent in the area and also the grandfather of Vida Goldstein who you can read about here ... she was a feminist, a suffragist (along with her mother) and the first woman to run for Federal parliament in Australia.

Samuel Hawkins is the brother of my great, great grandfather.
 I have blogged previously about my love of old cemeteries...there is just something incredibly moving about reading old much history retold in the names and ages.  I came across something you don't see everyday....while it is a bit hard to see in the photo a man called John Pitcher buried his beloved wife Mary Ann aged 32 years in 1867...then proceeded to bury his next beloved wife Charlotte Elizabeth aged 26 years in 1872 in the same grave!!!  Maybe it's just me?

The garden went riotous while we were away and there are eggplants popping up everywhere...we are exhausted with all the tomatoes....passatta, relish and sauce even frozen some (apparently you can do that !) and given many away..  But it was so windy here yesterday that now the garden is in uproar and tomato plants are all over the it may well be the end of the season for them :-( 

Not really an eggplant fan....need more recipes I think....but the sheen and colour is so beautiful
My lovely neighbour looked after the garden and the feathered girls while we were away....but this is the first Isa Brown I have had who has gone broody....I didn't think they did that....I haven't been able to get her to stay off the nest for over three weeks...she sits even when there are no eggs under her and squawks like a mad thing when I move her off the nest....any suggestions gratefully accepted !!

Broody girls wont get off the nest....Oh Dear !!

Some of the other girls who don't know what all the fuss is about.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Travelling from Joy to Heartbreak........!!

A very busy time this past week......a wonderful celebration on Saturday at the engagement BBQ of my daughter and the lovely  man in her life...a beautiful day that they had both spent so much time and energy preparing and everything... even the weather...was perfect. They now live up country so we stayed the weekend at a lovely guest house in Benloch with my eldest daughter and her family...such a nice break.

Check out the bride to be's new blog here ..hopefully she learns to cook..!!

The engagement sign my eldest daughter and I created....she did the fab lettering and I did the chalk flowers...
made to match her engagement invitations..

The oh so cute cake and a snippet of the pink DONUT wall....delicious !!

The happy couple....can't wait for November 
Sadly my man and I then had to travel to Sea Lake for the funeral of my much loved auntie who passed away unexpectedly from a stroke....she was an integral part of the small community there and it was so wonderful to see well over 300 people at the service in the community hall...she was an avid supporter of all the town activities but the sporting clubs in particular..she sold the tickets on game day, volunteered behind the club bar and prepared meals for the teams after 81 she was fiercely independent..spent most of her time maintaining her beautiful lush garden..a rarity in the dust bowl that is Sea Lake..and visiting and taking care of 'elderly' town residents...the funeral cortege drove down main street to the cemetery and shop keepers lined the know her was to love her and the town will sorely miss her vibrant personality. 

Rest in peace darling Joyce...the world shines a little less brightly with out your amazing sparkle .

This poignant wreath in club colours hung in the ticket shed where she sold tickets every game day.
I always like to finish on a positive note so I thought I would include a picture of the basket of goodies delivered to Aimee yesterday....includes a jar of my man's beetroot... I have finally gotten him interested in getting involved with the produce !!!
Eggplant, celery, rhubarb, cherry toms, passionfruit, spring onions, zucchini, pears & Bonza Beetroot !!

Monday, 29 January 2018

2018 Hopefully a Year of Abundance ..............!!

How distracting life becomes when it takes us away from spending time doing what we enjoy....The start of the year has unfortunately been filled with nothing but bad news about family and friends....Illness and loss has pervaded the first few weeks but life being what it is we continue to try and make the best from awful situations.  Loving thoughts to all friends and loved ones who are going through difficult times.

On a lighter note the New Year has bought forth an abundance of life into my garden....even my fruit trees have started to produce fruit...and like all other vegie gardeners the zucchini and tomatoes are rampant.  We planted a small but mature little peach tree that had two buds on it several months ago and they turned into two lovely peaches, the birds didn't find them and we picked them yesterday.....they were delicious!!  A sign of things to come I the Apricot tree was laden with fruit but was useless as they had a brown fungus on them which we will have to watch next year.

Yesterday's haul from the garden including the Peaches and the fist of the pears, passionfruits and eggplants !!
The chicken coop got a revamp last month....we have raised the enclosure fence...the new girls..even with clipped wing....managed to get over the small fence....we have also netted the roof to keep out birds who eat their food and poop in the water....we hope to put raised garden trugs in there along with the chooks, to grow berries that we wont have to share with the wildlife !!
The new fenced enclosure attached to the chookhouse to keep out wild birds and keep the girls in.

Planted pumpkins along side their chook house to try and create a bit more shade.
In just over 18 months that the garden and trees have been planted it has all grown incredibly well...the red soil we have in Gippsland must be doing the trick....even after all the really hot weather we didn't lose too much....kept the water up to the plants and heavy rain last night seemed to have made it all look quite lush today.

All of the pink flowers in the front have self seeded...not sure what they are called but they look lovely...I love anything that self seeds 

You'll have to excuse Daisy taking a PEE on the path as I took the photo !!!

We have over 17 fruit trees planted in our small suburban back yard....our whole block is only 800 sq metes....we put in the Avocado tree that you can see above surrounded by's been in since September but is the only tree not doing very well... keeping water and food up to it but it is struggling....Just have to wait and see.
It's a little late for New Year wishes but I hope everyone has an abundant 2018 !!

Monday, 16 October 2017

When Things Stop Being Simple.....!!

The simple things in life are often taken for granted, especially when circumstances prevent you from doing what you want to do.....After losing dad last year, mum's cancer returned and we also found out that she has Alzheimer's.  The diagnosis was missed for a long time because we were putting her memory issues down to stress and tiredness from taking care of my father.   The crunch came in April when she was no longer able to live by herself in the Retirement Village that had been home to her and dad for the past 10 years..... Ssssoooo she moved in with my husband and I until we figured out what else to do.. She has been with us for six months, which had been challenging for everyone...then she finally agreed that aged care would be OK...There is a facility within walking distance from my home..who knew??.... after filling out a dozen forms and answering a million questions, we sold her property and 2 weeks ago got her a bed in the local aged home...
All the walkers liked up as the ladies do lunch in the dining room at the nursing home.
Happy to report she is going amazingly well and has taken to it like a duck to water...after 6 months with us where we could get her to do little more than sit in a chair and watch TV all day...she has a new lease on life and getting on like a house on fire, made new friends and joining in loads of activities... they even got her to take up knitting again which I couldn't get her interested in at all.......and I have my life back!!.  It's a win, win. ...  so back to the blog and my "Simple Life".

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Well...This is Demoralising ...!!

They say practice makes perfect...well I certainly need a load more practice because take 2 is a darn sight worse than my first attempt... Yes I am a dreamer and the tantalising smell of freshly baked sourdough with a crust that cracks to reveal a beautifully cooked loaf is what I am trying to achieve...perhaps I need to aim a whole lot lower !!  It looked so easy at the cooking class and Georgie produced magnificent loaves even after all of us had stuck our fingers into it and seriously overworked the dough... I am definitely doing something wrong at the very beginning of the process.. possibly I need to investigate the whole 'Hydration" thing again.  Sigh.. !!

Baked two boulders... one on the left was shaped in a banneton ...not that you can tell.
What a sad sticky dough it contained... and dare I say flat as a pan cake.
 Thankfully the daily visit to the vegetable garden gives me way more pleasure than my baking efforts.. picked the first of the pumpkins today..also getting passionfruits from a vine I only planted last year... Maybe I should just stick to gardening.
I fill this basket each morning with goodies from the garden.. 
 The abundance of fresh produce from the vegie patch always leaves me with the problem of using them up...I do give lots away but really think I could utilise way more if I only knew more interesting ways to prepare them.   I received Maggie Beer's Harvest cookbooks for my birthday...there is one for each season and has some great recipe's  and ideas to use your own produce...very timely I think.

Hopefully these will generate fabulous ideas to use up my home-grown produce.
I will get back to the sourdough drawing board...I'm deflated but not yet beaten....the dream of making my own delicious sourdough is still flickering...  hopefully it won't be snuffed out by take 3 !

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Very Sad Sourdough....!

My first attempt at making sourdough was to put it mildly ..... abysmal...I baked two house-bricks !!  I am not put off yet...however I'm not sure where I went wrong.  Am attempting 'take 2' today...already off to a bad start as the dough looks the same as this one...something not quite right at the very early stages I fear.  I am still going to bake them and see what I wind up with...if nothing else it is good practise on oven first efforts cooked on the outside very early in the process and started to overcook and the middle was still not right... food for thought.
Very sad looking preformed dough...didn't have a 'gluten skin' I think is the problem.
Sad looking house-bricks...very doughy in the middle and definitely no hollow sound when knocked on !!

February lunch with friends...J&A produced a lovely Rick Stein Moroccan chicken dish, the Big K and Robbie supplied pearl couscous with delicious Mediterranean bits.... I was designated to bring salad so roast beetroot, sweet potato, asparagus with macadamia nuts...J&M brought up the rear with dessert..baklava and stuffed dates (sorry J didn't get a good picture of them)...lots of wine and laughs as always.  
The usual suspects !!
Delicious lunch. !!
My man and I took a five day break to Batemen's Bay to celebrate my birthday...fortunately the dogs were included as the accommodation was dog friendly...Daisy knew something was up because once I got the suitcases out she plonked herself in my man's travel bag and wouldn't get out...she is so gorgeous..she even had her 'Santa Monkey' toy who she wanted to bring along with her. 

Daisy packing herself for out road trip to Bateman's Bay !!
 We spent five beautiful days here .  Carrie was a fabulous host.  It is a B&B on a 20 acre farmstay...loads of farm animals, situated on the Clyde river...nothing to do but sit back and relax...the fluffy girls had a great time..  They even behaved themselves when we took them into town each day for lunch at local cafe's.  it was a really beautiful spot and lovely accommodation.
The view from our deck to the Clyde River in Nelligen.
 Last night I attended a Gnocchi making course at String and Salt (surely after all these classes I will manage to make something edible !!!)  with the lovely Anna running us all through the was great fun...I actually think I might be able to make gnocchi certainly looks easier than making sourdough....tonight will be the test as I am going to give it a go at home... how hard can it be right ??

The lovely Anna directing the sauce making.

everyone getting hands on with the gnocchi making....

I'm off to put the next lot of sourdough into the oven....wish me luck !

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Sourdough Pancakes .....

I've had a request to put up the sourdough pancake recipe so here you go...

Sourdough Pancakes
2 cups active sourdough starter
1 egg
sugar or maple syrup to taste
cinnamon to taste
2 tbsp. oil or melted butter
1tsp bicarb soda
2-4 tbsp. milk, coconut milk or water (your choice)

Butter or coconut oil for frying pancakes

Handy tip: mix other ingredients separately then add to the sourdough starter & just fold through so you don't knock out the air bubbles.
1. mix together egg, sugar or maple, oil and bicarb and sourdough starter,
2. add (milk, coconut milk or water) to thin the batter to a pancake batter consistency.(start with 2 tablespoons of liquid and add more if needed
3. heat frying pan and once hot, melt a slice of butter or coconut oil on the pan and spoon approx. 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake.  cook until golden and flip to cook other side 

Handy tip: to see is your starter is active drop a small amount into a glass of water and if it rises to the top it is active.

If anyone is interested in the stewed plums (which were delicious):

(we used about 12 blood plums) 
Halve and pip the plums, add 1 tsp raw sugar, a couple of star anise, 1 scraped vanilla & pod, squeeze juice of one orange and just a dash of water (enough to stop them sticking to the bottom of the pot).  stew until softened.

Monday, 6 February 2017

It's All About The Sourdough !!....

Saturday was sourdough day......I gave my daughter a sourdough class for Christmas and I joined her to learn the beautiful craft of bread-making...I had no idea how specialised artisan bread making can be.... the dough can be a contrary beast whose quality is affected by temperature, handling, moisture, shaping etc...the list goes on.  Thankfully the loaves made by the class all turned out beautifully...even though they had been man-handled by a group of beginners.  I hope that one day I can bake the perfect loaf....apparently it take quite a lot of practice, patience and perseverance...all of which don't come naturally to me !!  It will be worth it  though.... the bread was delicious and the smell of freshly cooked sourdough was amazing.

I'm trying to shape the dough and keep a "gluten skin" on it.... not as easy as it sounds !!
Loaves out of the oven...once cooled they were devoured

Thankfully the 5 hour class included morning tea and lunch....we were served delicious sourdough pancakes with home-grown stewed plums with mascarpone & yoghurt ... the tastiest pancakes I have ever light and fluffy with a hint of cinnamon...Yum
Sourdough pancakes
 Lunch was an array of delicacies from "Stella's Pantry" which were perfect accompaniments for our freshly baked sourdough....all washed down with a glass of wine ....very civilised.  It was a fabulous experience put together by String & Salt in Warragul and I would highly recommend it to anyone wishing to make their own sourdough.. 

Gourmet lunch ...perfect way to end the day and savour the delicious bread.
We were offered a few fresh plums and armed with the recipe for the stewed plums and pancakes we repeated the pancake dish for Sunday breakfast..(I should say my daughter did... she paid better attention than I did and thankfully took great notes!!).. Scrumptious....very decadent breaky !!
Re-produced the pancakes  and plums for breakfast the next day !!

We were shown how to make our own starter which we took home to get us started.... need to remember to feed .....get some more ingredients and then I will give my first loaves a this space !

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

The January Whip Around... !

I say it all the time...but I can't believe how fast time flies and January is already done and dusted...It's been busy especially the CWA volunteering on Australia Day....and preparations for the town's Ficifolia Festival.  CWA have a big weekend planned on 11th & 12th at the hall and I'm busy with recipe in a jar and preparations for the garage sale......AND... Zucchini's are everywhere at the moment ... followed closely by some early bring on the bottling !!

Zucchini's all sliced up with onions ready to be pickled.
All pickled and in the jars.... !!
January also saw me continue on the mosaic which I haven't touched since before  we moved over 18 months was originally going to be for a covered external wall in our old house....wasn't sure where it would go here, but have decided we can hopefully waterproof it somehow and hang on the outside wall when it finally gets has been a very long all my projects !!

Finally making some progress with the mosaic.
One of our small apple trees (an orange Blenheim) ... only been in a year produced about 10 apples...they were a bit scrappy but the birds decided to leave me these five and along with our rhubarb I managed to make an apple & rhubarb excited to have fruit in the garden even if at this stage they are minimal.

Apples and rhubarb from our own exciting

Homemade was surprisingly delicious ..!!
 The zucchini assault continued all of January.....this lot turned into Zucchini Relish ...even managed a few red capsicums from the garden as's been a zucchini fest !
Zucchini and capsicums from our garden....onions, vinegar, sugar, turmeric etc.....equals relish.
Bottled up into jars....most of these get given away as gifts..... one can only eat so much zucchini !!
This month I discovered the local op-shop warehouse....they have some amazing stuff in there...picked up a dozen fowler jars...$1 each... they have heaps so I will be back....also vintage tortoiseshell knitting needles...I have been on the hunt for these for ages...couldn't believe it...I had been looking for some on Ebay and the few I saw were very pricey....I actually paid extra for these at the op-shop because they were so cheap !!...they were a real treasure to find.

Fowler jars and vintage knitting needles.... I just need the top bar for the jars.
My neighbour Les introduced me to his 'lunar planting guide' that he bought off the internet....I made a copy of it for myself...he swears by moon-planting so I am going to follow the guidelines and see what happens...There may be something in it.