Connection to landscape

It has been ages since I posted- its the problem when I am swapping my time at work so i can pay someone else to gather my food. Well that’s what most people do. I guess I still play a large part in the gathering of my own food. Not all foods but a lot. I am still swapping y butchering skills for meat to bring home.

My Veggie garden is still ticking over; I am starting harvesting broccoli- how do I store them you ask. Well its easy- only cut the head of the broccoli off and leave the stalks in the ground, they will continue to produce small heads at each leaf join for months to come. Once you have cut them off, cut them up- include the stalk that is below the flower heads. The stalk has as much nutrition as the flower and tastes the same. Blanch in hot water for a short period of time ( http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-blanch-vegetables-home-108570). Once blanched, drain them for a while, then put on oven trays overnight, once they’re frozen then you can put them in a bag, that way you will have individual broccoli and can easily use them without having a great blob of vegetables.

broccoli in the freezer

broccoli in the freezer

Something else I have made is an outdoor seat- but it’s not just an outdoor seat- it’s a journey that’s inside my head, same as all my food- I know the journey and connection, the animals that I harvest, I know the effort it takes to get them or gather mushrooms, the distance travelled, the journey of my food sits in my soul.

This particular seat came from some neighbours that had a frame to give away. The wood was salvaged form a skip bin one night out the front of an old night club, which is now a bank, the oregon beam was too good to be throwing away (a whole topic for another time). I moved this wood several times when we moved and finally when I got the frame, I realised what it would be good for. I planned it down, varnished and vola- A Seat that sits undercover but is very heavy, strong and will last longer than my life.

outdoor seat

outdoor seat

A recent camping trip in the middle of winter was great fun on the Murray, catching crayfish and releasing most; we had enough food and really wanted to catch them to show the kids. I would recommend winter camping, kids loved it, we all got dirty. Dirt is good for the sole and too much focus is made of us being clean, we are losing our physical connection with the earth.

murray crayfish

murray crayfish

My final thoughts are about enjoying the fruits of our labour- and once again it’s a journey that’s inside my head, i know the place that we as a family went to collect wild blackberries, I can almost feel how hot the day was, the black snake that we see, it’s like recalling a movie in my head. That’s the story of food, that’s the journey that should be in all of our heads, that’s our connection to landscape. The supermarket does not provide this; could this be the reason why we as a society throw away 40% of all of our food? I know that I cringe if I have to throw out my food; at least my chooks recycle it back into protein.

The bottom photos are preserved blackberries form 2 years ago and yet the memory is strong. To have them in custard is like magic, hard to describe, keep all your zumbo cakes and deserts, I dare anybody to say this stuff is not liquid gold, it connect to my childhood, food is the mortar of our lives, it keep us all together, both as individuals but as family and community and our big connection to landscape

Preserved blackberries

Preserved blackberries

blackberries in custard

blackberries in custard

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Protein Conversion

The Little chicks have grown into velosa Raptors, in 9 weeks I have harvested 4 of them, I have left 3 to grow some more. The first meal that we ate was crumbed chicken schnitzel. Whist the whole thing has not been a piece of cake, it really shows the effort that it takes to look after another animal, even though I am going to eat it, I still owe it to the animal that it should live the best life I can provide for it. I have them in a pen but most days they get to forage around the yard. Plus now I am getting them to convert Venison into Chicken meat!!. Thats a win win.

chooks

chooks


Another whole meal grown, harvested & cooked entirely by myself.
Crumbed Schnitzel

Crumbed Schnitzel

I still struggle with getting the feathers off without tearing the skin, A mate has offered to come and teach me. I still have things to learn, and never doubt that I could always learn more. But its still works, everything is just skinless.

freezing

freezing

Yep- Crumpets dont have anything to do with wild harvest, but this is a way of life that I am trying to get across, this is how I freeze all my food, individual portions, once frozen, then thrown them in together. This was there will not be any loss of food as its all stuck together.

crumpets

crumpets

Dont forget its Garlic & onion planting time

Garlic

Garlic

Another step towards zero left overs- Chooks will really only eat, what we eat, cooked food mostly. Pumpkin, potato, fruit skins etc, they wont eat, but what I have learned is, if I cook the leftovers and mash it all up, they will eat it, and best of all, its cooked on the stove top using no energy in the process.

Left overs

Left overs

Getting venison has been a revelation, well not really- I am around venison a bit, but only thought of it as human food, but when there is surplus or Stag meat thats not so great. I give it all my animals, the photo of the chicks is them eating venison and converting it into chicken!- its sustainably harvested, and in fact is helping the Australian bush. It sure beats buying canned and other pet foods. The best way is to mince it all, stick it into muffin tins and then freeze, once frozen stick ti all in 1 bag. Each night I put some in the fridge for the morning- cat, dog & chooks.

Venison

Venison

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Change of Plans

Its been a different kind of year. I feel as though I have slacked end off. I did not pick wild blackberries, plums or apricots, actually i did not make any jam at all. Truth is we still have heaps of jars still to eat. I always found I gave away more than I kept, which is fine but.

Its arly may and I have just planed my brocoli- usually i would have had it in for months. I have moved a few veggie beds around and am trying to raise some Meat chickens
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They have grown 5 times this size in about as many weeks, I have bough them food, but also supplement with protein from wild deer or rabbits. Its called protein swapping! and will taste like chicken. If I get myself a smoker I would like to raise some chickens for this purpose as well. Smoked chicken is great, like ham really.

My change of plans came about when i made heaps of sausage mince. I intended for it to be put into skins, my mincer is not really suitable and it became a task that was going to drive me nuts before i finished. So it came about that I made quite a few kilo’s. I froze it all in bags. I took some of it back up tot he farm where I butcher and they made them into sausage rolls- They were fantastic. Thus I came home and did the same. I did what i normally do, get food ready, freeze it individually then once frozen, bag them up and keep in the freezer. these are simple to pull out and bang into the oven and Boom, hot Delicious sausage rolls that i know I made from complete scratch.

start of the process

start of the process

Frozen snag mince

Frozen snag mince

rolling the babies

rolling the babies

freezing them

freezing them

packing them

packing them

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Seasons of change

Well every time I seem to write something I am blabbing on about the new season that is upon us, but that most likely means I am not writing enough. It’s been a season to learn from, good crop of pumpkins, nearly all butternut, which is fine. I have 3 large greys.
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The garden is looking pretty tired- time for a rest. I still have not planted any winter veg as yet, but I am almost reluctant to as I have beans, beans and more beans, maybe I might plant some late broccoli. It’s always a good time to really think about just what you are eating- I actually cut out my thornless blackberry, even though it was going crazy, it’s all about the room, I needed the room, and I can get wild blackberries at the drop of a hat. It would be very different should I have land, that’s a whole other story, what I would not do…….

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I have already found lots of wonderful mushrooms, wonderful, much better than the white flavourless things they serve up in the supermarkets. These guys pack a punch!. I like to fry with garlic, served with soft eggs, mmmmmm.

I have done some butchering at the farm and now have a freezer full of meat, no money needed to change hands, just swapped my skill for meat, win win. I have some snags to make and will post some photos of that process, I think I need a cool room- hmmm I do have the room in my shed. Now there’s an idea. I seem to have some little rats getting around my kitchen shed.

I have added some features and started mud bricking up the corner joins, to make it a snug fit. It certainly is a lot cooler already, but that bit extra should help it maintain even better temps.

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Passata Train

Passata
I love this time of year, but it always reminds me to get more organised. I am having trouble with my Tespade mincer- only the tomato attachments broke, I had a local engineering firm fix it but it broke again the other night, leading me back to my old trusty hand machine. I will persist with getting it fixed and hope they will come to the party and replace the parts.

My tommies did not do so well this year, well what actually happened was the toms that I planted did not grow and were dwarfed by cherry toms- which are not great for passata- too much liquid, small seeds and painful to pick. I found a local grower whom was happy to part with bucket full of Romas.

I always involve the kids, they love it and I know its these memories that will last their lifetime, not what their latest toy is but doing foody stuff as a family. I am yet to change over to the traditional Italian way- I am still doing it all hot- It helps to move off some of the watery liquid that you can get in the jars. Anyway- my goal is to have my machine working and do it cold then a large water bath for the jars of tomato passata. The only thing I put in the jars is a sprig of Basil and sometimes a wee bit of salt. I am in two minds whether to use my fowlers jars for the storing or keep up with the passata jars. I have found a supplier that I can get them off. I think as long as you change the lids over every now and then- they should last for years and years. Oh and Glass wont contaminate you like plastics do.

passatan

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Food is Free
I am still supporting this group and look after their facebook page. I would like to do some guerrilla gardening a bit more but will get to i when I can.
https://www.facebook.com/FoodisFreeProjectGippsland/

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Banana Cake
Just because all good days should end with baking a cake and eating it while its still hot!- Me I love banana cakes as it uses up old bananas.

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Resources everywhere

its amazing just how much resources there are to be had. Everywhere you look, and a lot of things we do, produce some kind of output. What possibilities are there? In this resource hungry life, many of them we just cannot simply off set, however if we are prepared to “get our hand dirty” lots of things are possible.

Pet Food- is a massive global burden, there are starving people around the globe, while our pets are overweight in the western countries, causing global warming with their plastic toys, eating human fit food like sardines from the oceans, robing sea birds and penguins from their daily food. Our very pets put tonnes of salt from the food that we feed them into the waterways in the way of faeces.

I know many will argue that pets re adorable and are good for people, I wont argue that, its we just need some perspective and the ability to take it on board. 1 pet is itself all find and dandy- its just when we put them together and they are in the millions, and we feed them food that is fit for human consumption.

To overcome this I have paired two things together- controlling pest animals and providing food to my pet cat. I can put the bones and all through the mincer and it comes out fantastic.

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Just a little treat- We have a mushroom that lives in the back yard and we harvest form that- its got about 20 mushrooms.! Thankyou Mother Nature
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One last thing- My Wood shed is full- whats more exciting is the bark that is left over from splitting and carting- I have been running through the mulcher and am now putting that on my garden beds- I dont like to waste anything
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Growing Season

Well, time travel fast, and its 2/3rds the way through Summer- its been a trying season with really hot days that has pushed some plants to their limits. fruit trees have seem to faired well, with some first year fruit. I will pick most of it off and let the tree grow. I am to still set up my gray water system to help them along.

Garden is still going well with plenty of spuds and corn, tomato’s are starting to grow and even the butternut pumpkins are growing. Still we are to face feb which for Victoria usually has some nasty weather over 40- considering we have had spates of over 40 already, dont know what to expect.

I ended up with quite a lot of onions- both brown and purple (Spanish). I lost a lot last year from going rotten in the shed, this year, I left them longer outside to dry out, hope this is the fix.

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I did some blanching of the corn, easier outside, I suspect most of the harvest is best done outside, less mess.

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