Monday, April 28, 2014

Autumn in the Southern Highlands of NSW just shines

The colour is stunning this year. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

Burrawang Hotel

My garden in Robertson

If you like my photos follow me on Instagram: homespunbliss 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bee Keeping in the Southern Highlands

I have recently become very interested in keeping bees. You might remember Howard and I went to a course recently with the legendary Bruce White. You can check my previous posts by clicking on the photos.
Day one                            Day two including videos of honey extracting and a swarm

A key thing I discovered in the course was to wait until Spring to start a hive , if you start in Autumn or winter they won't have time to store honey to feed on through the cold months.  So I have time to continue to learn and get all my equipment ready.  The next step I took was to join the Southern Highlands Apiarists Association to meet other local bee keepers and get support to make my plan happen.

Today I went to my third meeting, the AGM, and became secretary. So there will be many more bee stories to come.
Moss Vale Community Garden hosted the AGM today
The cosmos was full of happy bees
Sylvia checking the Club hive

Mushroom foraging is so enjoyable, it needs to be responsible too

We headed back to Belanglo State Forest today to collect saffron milk caps without a guide, putting into place the new skills we gained with Diego.

There hasn't been much rain since we went last time but there were plenty of mushrooms to pick. We just had to walk a bit further to find them.

We had a lovely time and had mushrooms cooked on the bar-b-que plate with crusty homemade bread for breakfast. The breakfast of champions I feel. Next time I might take some eggs to add in too.

You've all heard the warnings about not picking mushrooms you cannot confidently identify. I found many mushrooms today that fit the description of slippery jacks but I left them behind.  Another day I'll find an expert to check them for me. I agree with the warnings.

One thing I am not hearing people talk much about is responsible picking. I was devastated to see how much waste people before me had created.  This was a common sight throughout the forest, people just dumped large amounts of mushrooms to rot. The could have left them in the ground for someone else to have. Even next to the bar-b-que there was a wasted pile almost as big as our basket full.

So please, if you are going mushroom foraging show some respect for the forest, for nature's bounty and others coming behind you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Antiquing at Dirty Jane's Emporium Bowral

We love rummaging around antique shops. Dirty Janes in Bowral, Southern Highlands of NSW is a favourite. He are some highlights this week.

Oh wow I wanted to buy this ticket booth. it is so very beautiful. I can see it in my garden.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spicy carrot and sweet potato soup

Yesterday we ate out at a cafe for lunch. It was cold and wet and the spicy carrot soup on the specials board really appealed to me. But alas, as is common, the chef felt the need to use a meat stock in a vegetable soup. I always check what stock is used in soups and risottos. I have learnt to check for these hidden sources of meat. I don't know why they have to do it but t happens more often than not.

I found something else on the menu for lunch but decided the die was cast for what I would cook for dinner.  I guarantee my version was way better than the cafe version anyway.  And yes it was just the thing for a cold day.

Carrots, 4-5 large, peeled and sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
Chilli infused olive oil
Ground cumin, 2 teaspoons
Ground coriander, 1 teaspoons
Fresh coriander or lovage* see note

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Saute the carrots and sweet potato in the oil for about 10 minutes until beginning to soften.
Add the spices and half the fresh herbs.  Stir and heat a little longer.
Add just enough water to cover.
Cook over medium heat until all vegetables are soft.
Puree in a blender until the right consistency has been achieved. Add a little more water if too thick but be careful not to water it down too much. Put back in the saucepan and replace on the stove over low heat to warm again.
Serve with more herbs on top and chunks of crusty bread.

Serves 4 as an entree or 2 as a meal.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mushroom foraging for saffron milkcaps in State Forests with Diego Bonetto

We spent a lovely Autumn day foraging for wild mushrooms today on tour with Diego Bonetto.
Diego comes from Torino, Italy and a tradition of foraging for wild food, a tradition he is happy to share. Which is fabulous as my family has no tradition of foraging. Anglo-Celtic Australians such as myself have been taught to fear mushrooms and other wild foods. Caution is certainly warranted. We found maybe 20 different types of mushrooms today that Diego could not name. But he was able to teach us about one wonderful wild mushroom that is not just edible: its divine.

Introducing the saffron milk cap.

This large, distinctly orange mushroom was the object of our attentions today.  Also known as a pine mushroom this milkcap grows in a symbiotic relationship with the pine trees. This is not a mushroom that can be cultivated at home. Wild foraging is the only way to collect them.

These mushrooms are highly prized across Europe and the forest was full of people out picking today. The weather has been wet consistently across the past month and its early Autumn so picking season is upon us.

The bus tour set off from Sydney early this morning and got to one of the Southern Highlands State Forests about 9am. Mushroom foraging in State Pine Forests in allowed as a free, help yourself activity. Here is a link to the Forestry NSW guide. Diego explained mushrooming and the joys and responsibilities of foraging. We visited three different sites and today the last was the best.

This is the haul we collected. Everyone went home with a big stash.

After collecting mushrooms for a while Diego cooked up a storm for us on a bar-be-que plate: Olive oil, garlic, rosemary and sliced saffron milkcaps. The mushrooms are firm and so very tasty. The best mushrooms I have ever tasted. Truly.

I can't wait to head back out to forage for more.  I will have to be careful to not over indulge. I'd hate to get sick of them. But they will only be at my disposal for a few months.  

I can highly recommend you join a tour and learn more about this great delight and go collect your own.


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