Monday, April 30, 2012

Clever use for left over Anzac Biscuits

Monday last week I made Anzac biscuits to take to work for Tuesday, prior to the Anzac public holiday on Wednesday. One of the best things about Anzac bikkies is that they keep, really well. And its easy to make a huge batch.

Today I still had some left overs but definately didn't feel like eating anymore this week. So I crushed them and made apple crumble.

On a quick side note - Anzac biscuits are an Australian staple made from golden syrup or treacle, sugar, plain flour, rolled oats and melted butter (plus a little bi-carb and hot water). They were sent to the Australian and New Zealand troops overseas during WWI. ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day originally commemorated those soldiers from WWI but now includes all wars.

The apple crumble was very simple. I'm not in to recipes with lots of measurements or precision. I'm definately a have a quick glance at the recipe and throw it all together kind of a cook. That's why I don't bake cakes very often as I think you do need to be a bit more careful there.

I peeled and sliced two Granny Smith (green cooking) apples, tossed them in all spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, and placed in a baking dish. 

To make the topping I combined melted butter with brown sugar, plain flour, rolled oats and cinnamon. I used the end of a wooden rolling pin to crush the Anzac bikkies which were then added to the topping mix.

Pour crumble mix on top of apples and bake until apples are soft and the crumble golden.

Oh and I threw some sultanas in with the apples. It was a last minute decision. See what I mean about slapdash - I stumbled across the sultanas when looking for the oats. 

This crumble is going to be super yummy with some tangy greek yoghurt. Left overs will freeze well in individual serve containers. Probably a packed lunch treat for work over the next few weeks.

Hope you liked my no recipe, recipe. The simpler the better.

I have been very busy since my last post, gardening, creating a studio out of the spare room, improving life for our chickens, composting, worm farming, cooking, baking bread and doing plenty of other homespun things so please stay tuned as I share my tales.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Late afternoon sun

I spied the late afternoon sun shining through the kitchen window. Only seconds after I snapped this photo the shimmer had gone off the day as the sun slipped behind the hill.

Daylight saving has finished and night appears so quickly and suddenly. I was glad I saw this when I did. Celebrate the moment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5 things Wednesday: Lotus pond photos

I met my friend after work and went to the lotus pond at a local Buddhist temple. This is a hidden treasure, so many people don't know it is there. The lotus' are in full bloom.

This reflected leaf photo was taken by my friend RachaelB.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lemon Balm discovery of uses

For my Mum

A year or more ago I visited a local open garden owned by an acquaintence and spent $1 on a potted lemon balm. She told me it is good as a mozzie repellant. That appealed. Of all my district we live in pretty much the only suburb with mozzies, being high up above the coast.  I grew up with mozzies, the little wretches are relentless.

I took it home and planted it in my herb garden.  It grew modestly and I pretty much ignored it. Last summer I picked a few leaves, rubbed it between my fingers and then on to my ankles. I was happy with the results as it seemed to keep away the mozzies. This summer has been cool and wet so no mozzie repellant was needed.

I love my herb garden. It rambles happily and needs no attention bar the occasional thinning out. The chives flower and then die back heading into winter but faithfully come back in spring. The Vietnamese mint is rampant, especially as I hardly ever pick it.

Today I planted some coriander in pots - it does better here in Autumn as it doesn't bolt to seed as quickly as it does in Summer.  I also planted some extra parsley as the old stuff is bolting a little.

And I noticed that the lemon balm is taking over the oregano which has been dominant for a long time.

My Mum bought a little pot of lemon balm at the Brisbane farmers market we went to over Christmas and I did promise to let her know what else she could use it for.

So being a lazy long weekend I am doing some research.

Its scientific name is Melissa officinalis.  Apart from insect repelling it was said, in the 1600s by John Evelyn to be good for "strengthening the memoey, and powerfully chasing away melancholy."

So how can it be used:
throw the fresh leaves in salads, sauces, herb vinegars and with fish.

It is reported to be good for indigestion especially it associated with stress or nervousness. It can be made into teas and added to potpourri.

I also learnt that is part of the mint family which rather explains why it is trying to take over my garden.

 Lemon balm infusing in olive oil from Razorback Olive Grove for tonight.

Tonight we are eating farmers market asparagus with mashed home grown potatoes. I am going to try a lemon balm sauce over the top. Sounds great!

Post script
ok perhaps steamed potatoes and asparagus. I went to grub some potatoes and they are all tiny. As I said, a dismal summer. These rather sad looking kippler and otway red spuds will taste delicious as they are so fresh. LOL

Wollongong Friday Markets and Good Friday brunch

Every Friday the Wollongong mall is taken over with a market. Everyone rushes out of the building at lunchtime to go shopping. I like to wander around the stalls and see the regulars and what's new. The weather was truly dismal all summer so the autumn sunshine makes the market even more special.

The Friday market was cleverly held on Thursday this week to get in before the Easter long weekend.

I took my camera with me to have a play and see if I could get some pretty snaps.

 I bought up big this time: potted herbs, vegetables, bread and more. I headed back to work with arms laden with (re-usable) shopping bags.

 Aydin and Danny from Razerback olive farm - makers of the best olive oil, haloumi and baklava. I stocked up on stuffed olives, haloumi and fresh figs.

An intergalactic visitor?
 I bought a piece of rainbow onyx to help become master of my own fate and a hematite chip bracelet for a friend who is studying from this easter bunny.
 Easter Friday brunch consisted of sourdough baguette, grilled haloumi, olives and poached eggs fresh from the coop. We'll be enjoying market delights all weekend. Will keep you posted.

Enjoy your Easter

Monday, April 2, 2012

Making compost the homespun way

Since we brought chickens to live with us we've created quite a system for dealing with organic waste. I thought I'd share some notes on my system and how it all is working.
Chickens eat kitchen scraps, scratch around in straw and mulch and sleep and lay in waste paper. Chook poo is very high in ammonia which is too strong to go straight into the garden so I process it through the compost. My vegie garden has been a bit neglected of late and is in desperate need of compost so I'm eagerly anticipating the next batch. This production line seems a little complicated but is turning into wonderful, life giving rich compost quicker than usual.

The experts talk about carbon to nitrogen ratios of 30:1 for perfect compost. Carbon is supplied from sawdust, straw, paper, ash, wood chips = brown materials. Nitrogen comes from kitchen scraps, weeds and manures = greens. I have always been low on the carbon but the paper, straw and mulch now being pushed through the system has changed the balance for the better.
1.  Our garden waste, hedge and tree prunings, leaves and twigs are turned into mulch by "the beast", a large petrol run shredder.  Some of this goes straight onto the garden (flower and fern beds not vegies) but we have kept a large bag aside.
 This forms a scratch layer in the bottom of the coop.
 2. All of our paid bills, receipts etc are shredded. We've started to bring shredded paper home from work as well as we can't keep up with demand. This paper becomes a dry, springy bed for our chooks and prevents eggs from getting cracked.

 3. I scrape up both the bedding paper and floor mulch once a week and layer into my compost bin.

4. I keep kitchen scraps in a cute little bucket in the kitchen. I put things like egg shells, tea bags and gross things from the fridge into this. Peelings and green scraps I throw into a stainless steel bowl and feed to the chooks fresh. Fruit scraps tend to go to the worm farm as that is their favourite.  See my earlier post about the worms.

I add the scraps and other green material including cut green grass and weed clippings to the compost.

The scraps that I givet to the chooks contribute to what I scrape up each week ;)

5. Maintaining the compost.  It is important to turn and aerate your compost regularly to prevent it compacting and becoming inactive. As you can see the compost is full of worms.
 I keep a garden fork and bag of horse manure handy to add to the mix. When we empty the wood burning combustion stove I keep the ashes in a bucket near by to the compost. Sometimes you don't have quite the right materials on hand to add when needed. Turning can help with this. I have two bins (although only one lid sadly). Sometimes I tip the whole lot out and re-layer.
Tip: Here's a free tip to give your compost a boost.  Add a drink of molasses once in a while.  As you know molasses is very sticky and stiff. Mix with a little bit of hot water until runny and then top up with cold water. You don't want to scold the worms.
 Make sure its cool and then pour into your compost. This keeps the mix moist and attracts all those little micro-organisms who make your compost. They seem to have sweet tooths!
Benny and Harry watched the whole operation from the verandah.

I'll let you know when I start to spread the compost.


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