Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from March, 2012

Nourishing Traditions - more chapter reviews

A few weeks ago I started a review of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (part 1 and part 2).  I've been a bit slow to continue the review because I've got up to the chapters that I haven't found very useful myself!

After finding the Introduction and "Mastering the Basics" chapters extremely valuable, and having implemented many of the ideas in our everyday meals, the next chapters on "Great Beginnings", "The Main Course", "A Catalogue of Vegetables" and "Luncheons and Supper Foods", have been less relevant.  There are a few recipes that I've tried and a few more that I want to try, but on the whole, I haven't needed these chapters as I've just adapted my own recipes to incorporate the recommendations in the first two chapters.  It is worth writing a brief summary of the useful and interesting bits of each chapter, as some people may benefit from an overview more than I did, and then I will get …

Ongoing climate confusion

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I'm trying to figure out what to grow over winter here in Nanango.

I've mentioned before that the climate here is confusing!  Over summer we have daytime temperatures of up to the high 30degC, afternoon storms and high humidity, with night-time temperatures in the high 20degC (if we're lucky!).  Its almost a sub-tropical wet season, rather than summer.

Around this time of year though the climate changes dramatically.  We still have 30degC days, but overnight the temperatures can be as low as 10-15degC.  As winter approaches the daytime temperature will get down to mid-20degC, but overnight we can expect frosts.  The strangest part is that the frost is very much location dependent.  Our neighbours did not suffer from frost last year as their house is at the top of the hill, but we are down lower on the hill and cold air being dense tends to roll down the hill, so we had some severe frosts.

Our winter is then a real temperate, or at least mo…

Sugar free fruity ice treat for hot summer days

This post is linked to Freaky Friday on Real Food Freaks.

Queensland summers are HOT and if you're not eating sugar and processed foods, that means no ice cream or ice blocks to cool you down.  But don't worry, I have found a solution by fiddling with a sorbet recipe.  I just don't add the sugar, and I blend the fruit so that it keeps most of the fibre.

I just mix up any fruit that we have around, things like banana, mango, and pineapple are good, especially if I can get cheap orange or mandarins to bulk it out.  Melon and mint is yummy too, I haven't tried berries (as they don't last long around here), but I would imagine they'd be yummy too.  I squeeze and citrus and then I blend the other fruit.  Mix it all up and put it in the freezer in a little pot with a lid.  As long as you give it a stir every few hours, it won't freeze into a totally solid block.  When you want to eat some, you just scrape off some of the fruity ice into a cup and enjoy.  Sometim…

Dealing with broody hens

Occasionally one of our hens goes broody, even though we use breeds that are not supposed to, and for that reason, I don't trust them to follow through.  Also, they distract the other hens from laying as they can be very protective and annoying (sometimes to the point of pecking me when I try to collect the eggs), so its best to get them out of their broodiness as soon as possible.  The best way to do this is to separate the broody hen from the rest of the flock, in another cage with food and water, for a few days.  Eventually she will forget her broodiness and will be back to normal when reintroduced to her mates.  We were told to put the hen in a small cage and hang it up in the shade, as the cool air blowing over her is supposed to reduce the urge to hatch eggs. We did do that for a while, when we had a suitable place to hang the cage, but these days we just put the hen in one of our spare chicken tractors for a few days and that seems to work just as good.  I have also been to…

More on yoghurt

Ever since we got our dairy cow, Bella, I've wanted to make raw milk yoghurt.  My early attempts were unsuccessful, I had problems with the milk splitting into curds and whey.  In the end I gave up and started to pasteurise the milk, which was very disappointing.  I posted a summary of the different ways I use to make yoghurt here.

Pateurising the milk involves heating it to nearly boiling (around 80 degC) in order to kill both pathogenic bacteria, and other beneficial bacteria in the milk that will compete with the yoghurt bacteria.  It also has the effect of denaturing enzymes that can cause the yoghurt to be runny.  As you're starting with more or less sterile milk, it makes the process of yogurt making easier and more repeatable, in fact, I've never had any problems with pasteurised milk yoghurt not working, however if the temperature gets too high during pasteurisation (ie if you get impatient, turn up the heat and turn around to do something else) you end up with sol…

8 acres becomes 258 acres

Over the past 6 weeks my husband and I have been working hard to secure finance for another property, and today we found out that it had settled and its now ours!

The property is 258 acres in Kumbia, which is near Kingaroy and about 30 min from where we live now in Nanango.  The property has no house, just good fencing, a hay shed, nice solid stock yards, five dams and four divined bore sites.  The property comprises of about 60 acres of cultivation, with about half of the remainder selectively cleared and contoured, and the rest with natural vegetation cover.

Many of you will wonder why we need 258 A when we already had 8 A.  There are two reasons.  Firstly we have been buying a lot of supplement feed recently and we felt that we would never be entirely self-sufficient with the number of animals that we want to keep on only 8 A.  We really need about 20-50 A, but a block that size is hard to find, and most are not good quality country, just the bad bits chopped of a larger farm to m…

My winter garden plan

As summer draws to a close here in Queensland, Australia, its time to reflect on what worked and what didn't, and start to plan for winter planting.

This summer the successes were:



Cherry tomatoes - the random compost sprouting tomatoes provided enough for salads, but it would have been nice to have more of them to freeze

Beans - this year I managed to protect my green beans from cattle (although Bella took an early interest) and even though the chickens launched a late attack on anything that came over their side of the fence, I managed to harvest a decent amount for eating and freezing - 3 climbing plants and 3 bush plants were sufficient. Potatoes - I planted most of them in a drum and the leftovers in the garden.  Ironically it was the leftovers that did really well, I think the drum ones got too hot.   Basil - last year it grew to one meter before I noticed, this year I pinched off all the growth tips every few days and produced a lovely little bush of basil :)Mini capsicums - o…

Aquaponics progress - building the greenhouse

I mentioned ages ago that we were thinking about setting up an aquaponics system.  We ordered it back in September and the kit was delivered to Kingaroy in December last year.  We unloaded it from the ute and left it stored safely in the shed while we thought about where/how to build our greenhouse.

Aquaponics is a system that combines hydroponics and aquaculture.  The water cycles between the fish tank and hydroponic vegetable grow beds.  The fish produce nutrients that are consumed by the vegetables, and in turn, the vegetables removing those nutrients cleans the water for the fish.  We just need to feed the fish.  The system needs to be in a water proof greenhouse so that rainwater doesn't dilute the process water, and needs access to electricity to run the pumps, so we needed to build a greenhouse.

After much deliberation and assessment of possible locations, taking into account access to electricity, the limited number of flat spots on our property, sun and shade available, a…

Reducing electricity bills using a remote monitor

Last year Gavin of the Greening of Gavin blog ran a challenge over several weeks to reduce home power consumption (see the first part here), and I realised that, in comparison to other people who joined in, our consumption is relatively high (at the time it was 16 kWh/day).  I had also been seeing heaps of ads for the Queensland Government Climate Smart home service, which has been running for a couple of years now.  As part of the service you get a visit from an electrician, who fits a remote digital power monitor to your meter box, and you get remote controlled "standby eliminators", power saving lightbulbs and some good advice, all for $50.  I thought that might be a good way to reduce our power consumption, so I requested an appointment late last year, and we had our service a couple of weeks ago.

The minute the electrician left we started playing with the meter.  We turned things off, turned them on, turned them down, trying to get our usage below our target of 10c/hour…

Ginger ale vs. ginger beer

My mother in law gave us a big bag of ginger, some of it had sprouted, ready for planting, but there was plenty of pieces, so I decided to make ginger ale, no, ginger beer, I couldn't decide, so I made one batch of each to compare.  I can't wait to grow my own ginger so I can make these regularly (have planted the left over ginger in a large pot).

Ginger beer
Following the instructions in Nourishing Traditions, I grated lots of ginger.  In a jar I put 1.5 cups of rainwater, 2 teaspoons of ginger and 2 teaspoons of white sugar, put the lid on and left it on the bench.  I added 2 teaspoons each of ginger and sugar every morning for a week.  After a few days I could see bubbles forming (that was an exciting start to the day!).




After a week, the bug was ready, and I was supposed to make it up to 8 L, adding sugar and lemon juice, however, I wasn't sure what vessel to use, as ginger has a reputation for explosiveness!  My husband had the bright idea of using one of our beer fer…