Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays

Wishing you all the very best for a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.

A big thank you to all my lovely followers, for taking the time to stop by and read my ramblings. Your comments always brighten my day :)

Cheers Lisa xox

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas has landed at my place

We don't usually have a tree or really celebrate Christmas. When it comes to Christmas Tony is scrooge in disguise. Nothing would please him more than to have Bah Humbug in lights across our house and have a display of Santa being stuffed head first down a chimney. Do you get the picture. He likes the gifts, the festivities i.e. food and drinks just not the christian ideal.

Growing up as a Catholic, Christmas and other holy days were important to our family (Mum, me and my sister) and always observed. My Dad, well that's a different story he was an atheist and held other spiritual beliefs. After my Mum passed away Christmas was never really the same and I do struggle with this time of the year. Friends use to invite us to their Christmas breakfast every year, as we were the orphans. It was lovely, but I eventually stopped going cause it just made me more sad that I have no immediate family near by, my lives sister is 2000kms away. Anyway enough of the sob story, there are many much worse off than me.

To my surprise, this year Tony suggested I put up a tree. I think he must be feeling a bit guilty. What to do, we don't have a Christmas tree any more. It was donated to charity after sitting untouched for years. Then I remembered seeing a few blogs with fallen branches used as Christmas trees. I love Brydie's Cityhippyfarmgirl as well as Veggiegobblers Festive Fallen Branch Friday.

After a bit of searching around the backyard and the local parks I gathered enough sticks to make my tree. Tony's comment when I first started was 'Why don't you just buy one'. No no no I want to make it!!!

Here it is, my bundle of sticks. I must say I rather like it, some of the ornaments have come from swaps and some are older than me. Due to a large black dog who shall remain nameless a few decorationsBold had to be moved, he thought they looked like nice toys.

I hope you're enjoying the festive season and not feeling too overwhelmed.

Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Look what I won!

In October I purchased a few raffle tickets to help support a wonderful charity that rescues and rehabilitates neglected and abused horses. Charlie's Angels Horse Rescue
On Monday afternoon I received a phone call telling me that I'd won the raffle. To be honest I'd forgotten about it and couldn't remember what the prize was. To my delight I've won a overnight stay at a beautiful B&B, with a 2 course dinner, wine, full breakfast and late checkout. How good is that!!

Wiikirri Bed and Breakfast Retreat is in a town called Blackbutt in the South Burnett region of South East Qld. Famous for its beautiful scenery, wineries, cheese makers and of course peanuts.

My Mum grew up in the town of Kingaroy not far from Blackbutt. As a child I spent many a holiday visiting my grandparents and my Aunt and Uncle's farm near Nanango. Sadly its been many years since I last visited my Aunt so this trip to Blackbutt will provide the perfect opportunity for a catch up.

Now to decide when to go on our weekend away and what to do with the animals.

Cheers for now

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas cheer

I recently took part in a Christmas ornament swap at the Down to Earth Forum. This is the second year I've participated in this swap and its always lots of fun. My swap partner Becci sent me the most wonderful bundle of goodies.

As you can see I was very spoilt

This is what I made for Becci, little patchwork pillows scented with dried orange peel, cloves and cinnamon and some 3D card ornaments made from last years Christmas cards.

Keeping in the Christmas theme, on Sunday night Tony and I went to see the RocKwiz Christmas show at the Tivoli theatre in Brisbane. For those who are not familiar with RocKwiz, as the name suggests it's a music quiz show, with more of a rock / alternative edge. It was a fantastic night, lots of laughs and great music.

It seems that we're in a bit of a comedy spell at the moment. Early in November we saw the wonderful Barry Morgan (last post), then on Saturday night we went to see the Kransky Sisters and Topology. I think that's my socialising over for another year.

Just in case you're wondering who The Kransky Sisters are, here is a clip from one of their performances.

Very funny ladies, with a slightly bent view on life. Last time we saw them they arrived on stage in their Morris Major car. This time it was on Brisbane City Councils City Cycles wearing plastic strainers as bike helmets LOL.

Cheers for now


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh, Barry

Nothing simple living about this post, just a bit of comic relief.

As a treat for my birthday Tony and I went along to the Powerhouse Museum last Sunday to catch Mr Barry Morgan from Barry Morgan's World of Organs in Adelaide. Regular viewers of the ABC's show Spicks and Specks will be familiar with Barry and his wonderful organ. I have to say the show was hilarious, almost like being in an infomercial. Heck there was even a set of steak knives throw in for the person lucky enough to purchase Barry's wonderful Hammond Aurora Classic.

Check out Barry on Spicks and Specks sharing the love.

To top off the night our car got locked into New Farm park, my fault for being in a rush and not reading the signs. We managed to get out, just had to drive along the walkway / bike path to the road. Beats paying the $40.00 council call out fee for opening up the gate. Shhh....don't tell anyone!

Have a great weekend
Cheers Lisa

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Under attack

Just when I thought all was going well in my tomato patch.

Yesterday I discovered that my Rouge De Marmande tomatoes are being devoured by some caterpillar beasties.....argh!! Initially I was a little worried about the plant as I think it has some type of disease (black spot, wilt?). We had a busy day on Sunday and I didn't get out to the vegetable patch for my usual daily check. Monday morning came around and I was out there watering and checking when I came across this.

Anyway after a bit of a chat with google, I sprayed all the tomato plants with garlic and chili spray and today I'll get some Dipel and try that.

This year I have eight tomato plants growing, two of which I purchased as seedlings. The Tommy Toe is at least 2.5m tall and still growing, fruiting like crazy. The second one purchased is a Pot Prize, such a sturdy little plant. The rest are all volunteer tomatoes, the Rouge De Marmande from last year. I wont be growing it again as I think it is best suited to cooler climates. A Roma tomato and two mini pear shaped tomatoes, I know they are from a Diggers plant from last year plus a mystery tomato.

Summer is really upon us now so I don't know how my tomatoes will fare with the heat. I'm thinking I might invest in some type of shade netting to put over the garden beds. It's so disheartening seeing all the plants wilting away from the heat.

On a positive note, check out my tropical apples, this year is it's first proper crop. On last count there are about thirty apples on the tree. Whilst they look lovely, taste wise they are a bit on the tart side and appear to have been stung by some type of insect. I'll have to look into a suitable type of organic spray, any suggestions?

How is your garden growing?

Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Buy Nothing New Month - final update

This is the first year I've participated, as I rarely buy new things that part was easy. The challenge I set for myself was to buy nothing unnecessary for the month, this is where I came a little unstuck. As I mentioned in my previous post I needed supplies for the garden, all for food production, so extra compost, potting mix and mulch was purchased. Oh and a few seedlings, all grown from saved seeds or cuttings. I felt justified that this was OK, I wasn't buying cheap imported unnecessary stuff, that would either fall apart after wearing a few times, be out of fashion next season or break. Did I bend the rules?

Buying nothing unnecessary was a little more difficult, I tried my best but fell down in the final weeks. Blame it on a funky looking garage sale on the way to the organic markets. Normally I don't bother with garage sales however this one had so much wonderful looking stuff we couldn't resist. Then there was the quick stop at the local Lifeline shop on the way home, again I couldn't help myself. Actually I did restrain myself, there were heaps of things that I liked but didn't purchase.

Anyway this is my little stash for the month, some unnecessary but all secondhand.

I can hear you already, not more sewing patterns and vintage sheets

Two genuine vintage shirts

I didn't take photos of the never used expanding bamboo trellis or the three brand new fowlers preserving jars.

Tony and I are on a savings mission at the moment, he's given up junk food for a month (I know, one of my pet hates) and I'm really trying to not spend at all. I'll definitely be joining in Buy Nothing New Month next year, actually I'll just keep going in the same vein till then.

Hope you have a great day

Cheers Lisa

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Buy Nothing New - week 3 update

Gosh we're into week three already of Buy Nothing New Month and to be honest it's been fairly easy. The only new non food items I've purchased have been seedlings, mulch and some compost, I just cannot make enough of the stuff to replenish my no-dig garden beds. As its all for food production and necessary I'm allowing we go, making up my own rules :'}

There are a couple of items that I am almost tempted to buy because they are kind of necessary, a new battery charger for my camera, inserts for my bike helmet, oh and a very belated birthday present for my nephew. OK not really necessary I guess. I did however received a Visa gift card recently for doing an online training course, maybe I can use that to get my nephew a gift. At 11 years of age I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate knitted face clothes and

Even in the kitchen second hand is best

After the month is up I aim to continue in this no spending mode. I know it will be tuff avoiding the op shops and markets, goodness knows I don't need anymore stuff no matter how useful or beautiful it may be. Perhaps if I've been good I'll allow myself a little treat and have a once a month nosey.

Did you join in, how are you fairing?

Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meeting in real life and a muffin recipe

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet a fellow blogger and moderator from the Down to Earth Forum. Narelle from Just Like My Nan Made is in Brisbane with her husband for a few days and dropped in for a visit. I had a lovely time chatting with Narelle, we talked about gardening, crafts and our pets, amongst other things.

Tana and Chester thought they were in heaven with all the pats and attention they received. Poor dogs, you'd think they never got any attention from us.

For morning tea I decided to adapt my favourite lemon and coconut muffin recipe.

Tropical Fruit Muffins
1 1/2 cups unbleached white SR flour
1/2 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/3 cup dessicated coconut or 1/2 cup shredded
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup macadamia nut, virgin coconut oil or similar mild flavoured oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup milk kefir or 1/2 milk and 1/2 yoghurt
3 eggs
1 lady finger banana chopped and equal amount of mango flesh chopped (I have both frozen from last years season)

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease muffin tins or line with papers. Sift flours together, stir in coconut, lemon rind and chopped fruit. In another bowl beat together eggs, oil, lemon juice, honey and kefir/milk until well combined. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry and lightly mix until just combined. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool a few minutes then remove from tray.

Makes 12 - 14 1/3 cup muffins.

The addition of banana and mango makes a nice change.

Thanks for visiting Narelle, I hope you managed to find your way to the op shop and nursery and didn't spend too much money.

Cheers Lisa

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Samosa, curry puffs or little vegetable pasties

These little treats are a quick and easy way to use up leftovers. Today I used leftover chickpea and vegetable curry or you could use leftover roast vegetables, chili, thick lentil and vegetable pasta sauce, tofu and stir fry vegetables. Anything really, just make sure that the mixture isn't too moist, otherwise you'll end up with a big mess when you cook your parcels.

Here is the original pastry recipe, I'll add my modifications in (..........)

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 cup unbleached white plain flour

1/2 cup wholemeal SR flour

3 tablespoons + 3 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup cold water (I use 4 tablespoon of milk kefir or yoghurt in a half cup measure, top up with water, then add more water as you mix the pastry).

Sift flours together add oil and lemon juice. Using a butter knife lightly combine the oil and lemon juice into the flour, then rub the mixture using your finger tips till it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the kefir/water then gradually add more water as needed. Mix well until it comes together in a ball. Knead lightly then allow to rest 3o minutes or longer in the fridge.

Prepare your filling, chop or mash the mix to the desired consistency. Sorry I'm not able to give exact amounts of filling required. I'd say you need approximately 2 cups or, if you're like me just stretch it out with the leftover rice from the curry.

Prepared your baking sheets, either grease or line with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to moderate 180C.

The parcels can be whatever size you like. Divide equally into eight for large size, I usually stretch it out to make 16 or 18 puffs. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle, you want it fairly thin. Brush some water around the edges of the dough, place a spoon full of mixture on one half (keep about a 1 cm clear from the edge), fold over the dough to encase the mix, either crimp the edges with the tines of a fork or if you want to be fancy, lighty brush the curved edge with a little water and fold the edges over (sorry its a bit hard to explain). Use a fork to make a few holes in the top of the parcel, then place on your baking tray. Continue on till you either run out of filling or pastry.

Brush the tops with egg wash (optional) and bake for approximately 30 - 40 minutes depending on your oven. Turn your trays around and swap shelves half way through baking.

Serve as a meal with a green salad, chutney or homemade ketchup. They are great for a snack or even as finger food for a party.

Leftover pastry can be stored in the fridge and used the next day.



Monday, October 3, 2011

Buy Nothing New Month

After my recent spending sprees (all secondhand mind you) I remembered that I wanted to join in this years Buy Nothing New Month . Whilst buying nothing new will be easy, I'm challenging myself to buy nothing unnecessary. No more op shops or markets for me this month.....eeek!!

Come on, join in, you could even win a prize and you'll feel better for doing it.

Cheers Lisa

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Latest op shop and market finds

I'm happy to admit that I'm a bit of an op/charity shop junkie. My first job after finishing school was volunteering in the local St Vinnies shop. That was in 1983 and everyone was throwing away all their 40's, 50's and 60's possessions........I was in heaven. Thus began my slight obsession.

Anyway I digress, I still love nothing better than a good nosey around the flea markets and op shops, always hoping for a little treasure. Here are some of my recent finds over the last few months.

Beautiful cotton Country Road top

with 3/4 sleeves

This one is made of silk and cotton and had a small tear on the cuff, 15 minutes at the sewing machine and it was just like new. I got both for $30 as they were in the designer section.

Some much needed storage - I'd say 50's era blanket box, the legs are inside. Just needs a coat of paint and a new cushion and cover. Perfect for all our winter manchester and clothes. Not bad for $40.

Can you believe I found a canner from the USA in Brisvegas. On the same trip I found a Pyrex double boiler. I can't tell you how long I've been looking for one and was sooooo excited when I stumbled upon this beauty. These items were a bit on the expensive side, $70 for the pair. The op shop is near the city and prices reflect their close proximity to town.

Oh dear, a few more vintage sheets to add to my collection. Word must be getting out that they are in demand, cause the prices have been steadily going up. I paid about $23.00 for 4 single bed sheets.

If found this cute old jar at the local market, only paid a $1.00 for it.

At the same market I found this lovely trio of Royal Vale china, a steal at $2.50.

$6.50 for this little bundle at Lifeline. Can you believe the cotton was 50 cents a ball! I'm planning on using the fabric to make a strainer for paper making and for some fruit and veg bags.

I'm now working on the system one item in two boxes of my junk out. That should help me rid myself of some of the clutter.

Hope you've had a great weekend.

Cheers Lisa

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A - Z of Me

It's been a while between posts. To get me back into the swing of things and for a bit of fun, I'm joining in with Sue from Living the Good Life and an A-Z of me.

A=Age; 46 1/2, eeek, the big 50 is looming!

B=Bed size; Queen, I'm only little!

C=Chore that you hate; currently vacuuming, cause I have a stupid vacuum that keeps falling apart....arrgh!!!

D=Dogs; 'Chester Pester Cat Molester' the Labrador and Tana the Tenterfield Terrorist.

E=Essential start to you day; A quick dash to the loo then a cup of tea. Of course the dogs and the chooks come before the tea.

F= Favourite colour; I love green, especially lime green.

Something else you might not know about me, I have a tattoo of the gumnut babies

G=Gold or silver; Gold, gold, gold, none of that silver stuff for me.

H= Height; My licence tells me that I'm 160cm tall, thank goodness for that cause I never remember!

I=- Instruments you play; I have an antique clarinet that I tried playing a few times, does that count?

J=Job title; Retail assistant wannabe radical homemaker/permaculture gardener.

K-Kids; Whoops forgot to have one. Seriously, one of the selfish decisions I made early in my adult life that I now regret, I think.....

L=Live; Brisbane, Queensland.

M=Mother's name; Mary, sadly no longer with us.

N=Nickname; Leec or Leeceelou

O=Overnight hospital stays; Hmmm there's been a few, a couple of days when I had my tonsils out (aged 5), overnight when I had my wisdom teeth out (I was an adult but they had me in the kids ward), one night spent in ICU, then three days, following oral surgery, then a week due to an emergency admission and surgery (female troubles, you know). I think that's enough!!

P=Pet peeves; Vegans who feed their pet cat or dog, pet food made from factory farmed animals or a vegan diet (it's a carnivore for god sake) I know it's a little obscure. Me, always running late, the story of my life.

Q=Quotes from a film; "Oh, for goodness' sakes, get down off that crucifix. Someone needs the wood" - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

R=Right or Left hand; Right

S= Siblings; Sister, 18 months older than me.

T=Time you wake up; Depends on the season, 5 - 5.30 at the moment or whenever the chooks wake me up.

U=Underwear; Yes, cotton of course, now I make my own!

V=Vegetable I hate: None, except I can't eat capsicum

W=What makes you run late; I make me run late, see P. Always leaving things to the last minute. It's genetic!

X=Xrays you've had; Too many, loads when I was having dental surgery, ankle, foot, back, hip, mammograms, CT back and abdomen.

Y=Yummy food that you make; I make a mean cheesecake so I'm told.

Z=Zoo animals; Not so keen on animals in zoos. Many years ago I was in the Philippines and we went to the Manila zoo, a very sad place. They had a large male gorilla that was kept in a tiny round cage with little to no room. One of the adults in our group was making monkey noises at the gorilla, it turned around and spat at the guy, got him right in the face. I think justice was served that day.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about me. Go on, join in I dare you.

Cheers Lisa

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Solar success

Its been just over six months since we had our solar panels installed. At the time I was rather concerned taking on more debt but was assured that our repayments would be equal to our bill. I must say I'm feeling in a better frame of mind now, having recently paid off my car loan, along with receiving our second electricity bill. We are now in CREDIT with the electricity company......Hooray!!

Our electricity bill has gone from $300.00 - 400.00 a quarter to $30.99 in credit. Its a great feeling. I'm sure we could do better by adjusting some of the ways we use power in our home. Also I think Tony is finally going to close down his six foot fish tank. As you can imagine it consumes a fair bit of power. After reading Narelle's post yesterday I'm off to get some standby adapters. I've been thinking about it for a while but have not followed through. Thanks for the prompt Narelle.

Hope the sun is shining at your place

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Is anybody still out there? I'd be surprised if there is!

Ooh I've been such a bad blogger for the past few months. Life just gets in the way sometimes and I've really not had the motivation or urge to post.

Now don't faint, but I have been sewing. Yes, even I'm impressed with my efforts to get back to my machine. A friend asked me to make a coat for a her dog. The poor little darling is getting old and has some major health problems at the moment, so some new pj's were in order.

I've also started doing some patchwork again. It's been years since I did any, so I'm a bit rusty with my straight seams etc. I'm making a table runner at the moment, actually it's a tester for the one I want to make for my Aunt. You see, my Mum's sister is turning 75 in September and I'm going up to Cairns for her party and to spend some time with my sister. Yay....I can't wait!!

After work today I spent about three hours in the yard doing some weeding. That made a small dent in the overgrown mess. More weeding and yard work tomorrow if the rain holds off.

Hopefully I'll get my blogging mojo back soon and I'll post on a more regular basis.

I hope you're having a lovely weekend.



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Water kefir - fruit flavoured

About a month ago I encountered a few problems with my water kefir grains. They'd been chugging along nicely, doing their thing, when all of a sudden the liquid became thick and the grains slimy. Oh no.......I've killed them!

Jan, the lovely lady who gave me the grains had also experienced similar problems. After a bit of net surfing I came to the conclusion that the little blighters had a mineral deficiency. Previously I used organic raw sugar, 1/4 of a organic lemon and a tablespoon of organic sultanas with the grains and water for the ferment. It was time to go back to basics, no more lemon, reintroduce half rapadura sugar (it's full of minerals) as well as adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of bi-carb to the water (more minerals if you are not using spring water). Thankfully the grains sprang back to life and began bubbling again.

Now if I want lemon flavour in the kefir I simply add the juice of half a lemon after I bottle the fermented liquid. Another method that I have been trying is a secondary ferment with crushed fruit or fruit juice. I make the kefir in the usual way, strain off the grains then add approximately 3/4 cup of pureed sieved fruit to 1L of kefir. Seal the bottle airtight and allow to ferment for another 12 - 24 hours on the kitchen bench. The longer you leave it the more effervescent it becomes and slightly more alcoholic too......hiccup! I've not let it ferment any longer than 20 hours as I'm a little worried that the bottle might blow as it gets very fizzy.

Mango flavoured water kefir - thank goodness for frozen mango from last season

After about 20 hours fermentation

If you try this don't be expecting it to taste like soft drink, it has a mild slightly fermented fruity flavour, I find it very refreshing. I'm eager to try some grape juice but I'll have to wait till they come in season, any fruit with a high sugar content would be suitable. I've also seen kefir made with freshly crushed apple juice instead of water. From my understanding you only consume small amounts of the apple kefir and you need to halt the fermentation before it tastes like apple cider vinegar.

Berry flavoured water kefir

After 20 hours fermentation

A word of caution, if you intend fermenting grains in juice or other liquid always use excess grains in case the fermentation kills off you kefir.

A few weeks ago I did a swap with the lovely Narelle at Just Like My Nan Made. Narelle was eager to obtain some kefir grains and as I always have excess I was more than happy to help out. In return Narelle sent me two chokos...yay and a bar of her handmade soap. Thanks again Narelle, I hope those babies are working for you.

Little chokos and handmade soap

Cheers Lisa

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sourdough bread - 1st attempt

Inspired by some fellow bloggers I decided it was about time I tried my hand at making sourdough bread. Me being me I wanted to make my own leaven. Goodness there are so many methods out there for making a starter, it's soooo confusing. After having rave reviews on several blogs, I settled on Dan Lepard's leaven recipe (I found that at Gillthepainter's blog.) At the same time I reserved Dan's book 'The handmade Loaf' at the local library, thankfully it arrived just in time to make my first loaf.

After feeding and caring for the baby for eight days, it seemed to the untrained eye ready to use. It was doubling in size every day, there were bubbles on the surface, surely it must be ripe.

I used the White leaven bread recipe and religiously followed the instructions. What a labor of love this sourdough bread making is, a whole day to make two loaves of bread!

Actually I think it kind of worked, not the best example but it wasn't a total brick and the taste was not too bad either. By now my starter is 11 days old and last night for the first time the starter was frothy, I think it's now ready to use.

Apparently you are suppose to name your starter. As I don't want to break with tradition I've named it in honour of my Dad 'Kev'. He was a pastry cook and loved to bake and a great inspiration to me.

Kev - late 40's or early 50's. It looks like he's icing either a wedding cake or a very large Christmas cake

Have a great day


Monday, July 4, 2011

Cheese making and fermentation part 2 - milk kefir and yoghurt

Ok, so a day has turned into two weeks, I'm just hopeless with this blogging business at the moment!

Another topic discussed at the workshop was milk kefir. If you are not familiar with kefir have a look at Dom's Kefir for some very detailed information. Kefir is a fermented food, full of friendly micro-organisms and yeasts. It has many health benefits and can help create a healthier digestive system.

I've been making this wonderful stuff for about two months now. The organic markets where I buy my fruit and vegetables has a stall that sells fermented foods. I was chatting to them one Sunday and offered them some of my water kefir grains in exchange for milk grains.

Milk kefir grains - this is what I started with, not even a teaspoonful

After a few weeks of culturing the grains have multiplied and grown in size

It's really easy to make, simply place the grains in a sterilised glass jar, add milk, then allow to ferment at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, strain out the grains, put the liquid in the fridge or allow it to ferment for another 24 hours for a thicker more tangy kefir. The grains multiply with each batch you make. I started with less than a teaspoon, now I have about 1/2 a cup of grains. Drink it straight or make it into a smoothie. As I'm without a blender at present and I'm not that fond of drinking it straight, I use the kefir instead of milk, buttermilk or whey in cooking and baking. Not the best use of it, as cooking destroys all the probiotics but it makes lovely light cakes, bread and scones. Kefir can be used to ferment milk and make a light curd cheese or ferment cream into sour cream or fermented butter.

Kefir after two days culturing, the grains and kefir rise to the top

We also learnt about making yoghurt using raw milk and yohurt starter culture. In the past all of my yoghurt making has been done using prepared yoghurt, milk, a bit of milk powder thrown in to thicken it, then incubated overnight in a thermos. Whilst this has usually worked, it has been a bit hit and miss at times. I have to say after using a starter culture I'll never go back to the old method. The end product is far superior not only in taste and texture but the number of beneficial bacteria are in the millions as opposed to the thousands in the other method.

Yoghurt culture - you only need 2 - 3 grains to set 1 - 1.5 L of milk

If you intend using raw milk when making yoghurt with a culture you need to heat the milk to 85C first. The bacterial present in raw milk will work against the culture you inoculate your milk with and it wont thicken. Once heated, allow the milk to cool to 43C, add a few grains of yoghurt culture, pour into a suitable container, glass is best, then incubate overnight at 43C (I use a large thermos that I heat up with hot water for 5 - 10 mins). The next morning pour the yoghurt into a muslin lined sieve and allow to drain for 10 - 15 mins. Place in the fridge and allow to chill before devouring. Keep the resulting whey to make ricotta or use it in cooking.

Yoghurt draining

The finished product, thick creamy yoghurt

Elisabeth had samples of kefir grains and yoghurt culture for sale on the day, which was great. The culture she uses (Type C aBt) makes a mild almost sweet tasting yoghurt. Actually it tastes wonderfully creamy, great to use on fresh or poached fruit or just eat it by the spoonful!

If you are interested in cheese making or making your own yoghurt with a starter culture here are a few sites with lots of info and products to get you started - Cheeselinks and Green Living Australia .

Phew....that was a long post, I should have put a rambling warning at the start!

Cheers Lisa

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheese making and fermentation - part 1

Oh's been a while since I gave my poor blog any attention. I had intended doing this post the day after I attended a 'Cheese making and all things dairy' workshop, however time just got away from me. Here we are, more than a week has passed and I'm just finishing the post.

Now back to the workshop, it was fantastic! Loads of information and tips, great atmosphere and a terrific bunch of people. There were 25 of us there, all eager to learn about making cheese and other dairy products using raw milk....yes you read right, all made with raw milk. We learnt about the value of raw milk, how to make cheddar, brie, cottage cheese, ricotta, neufchattel, fermented cream, butter, ghee, sour cream, milk kefir, yoghurt and using different types of whey. Talk about brain overload. Whilst we didn't individually make cheeses, volunteers were asked to help in each part of the cheese making process. With a very funny mishap along the way!

For morning tea we had sourdough pikelets with kefired cream, cream cheese and jam.....yummo. Then at lunch we had a feast of fermented foods including sourdough bread, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, fruit and nut kimchi, salad, fruit and an assortment of Elisabeth's homemade cheese and to finish off, some homemade lemon wine. For me the taste of fermented foods was a real shock to the taste buds, it really is an acquired taste. However the health benefits of fermented foods are well documented so it really is worth a try.

If you live in South East Qld and are interested in a good basic cheese making and dairy product course then I would thoroughly recommend this workshop. Elisabeth Fekonia from Permaculture-realfood is an accredited permaculture teacher. Her enthusiasm for home food production and preservation is infectious. One point that she stressed was for us to pass on our new skills and knowledge. Sounds familiar doesn't it. Elisabeth also runs sourdough and lactic acid fermentation workshops. I'll be booking in for one of those as well.

All in all it was a really enjoyable day. It was great to be amongst people who were all interested in knowing where there food came from and wanting more control of what they ate. By sheer luck I got to meet Holly (albeit very briefly), one of the members from the Down to Earth forum. I think there may have been another new member there as well.

On the subject of raw milk, I've been buying Cleopatra's bath milk for a while now. It's a great product but rather expensive if you intend using it for cheese making. Luckily for me a neighbour purchases milk in bulk from a local dairy. I got my first lot this week, it's not organic but it is raw and at a great price. Once I get all my cheese making equipment sorted there will be no stopping me!

I'll be back tomorrow with part two - milk kefir and the BEST tasting yoghurt ever.

Cheers Lisa

I seem to have made a bit of a mistake with this post i.e. when it was published. I've deleted the originl post and reposted today. Sorry Rose your comment got deleted as well.

Friday, June 3, 2011

There's been fowl play in the veggie patch

Yes, you guessed right someone got into my vegetable garden and did a bit of their own landscaping. Sorry no photos as my camera decided to kark it. Just picture lots of mulch thrown all over the place, thankfully nothing was damaged.

I believe Miss Lulu to be the culprit. Of the three chooks we currently have, Lulu is the most adventurous and by far the funniest chicken I've ever owned. She walks around the chook yard with you, pecks at your shoes, rings and buttons, then runs after you when you go to leave. Very cute, plus she likes a cuddle too. talkin to me!

Mitzy....our second new chook, she's a bit of a nervous nelly

Margot....older and bossier

Does this photo make my bum look big?

Sadly our little Queenie died a couple of months backs. She had been sick and despite lots of love and care she eventually passed away. Damn wild birds that leave their diseases and parasites around the place!

We've only had these two new girls for three weeks. I wanted a heritage breed or ex-battery chooks but we came home with hybrids. Apparently we are going to add two more to the flock soon, maybe I'll get my way then.