Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Hops have arrived (thanks Jon) and I have 2xfuggles, 2xchinook and 1xhersbrucker! I have put one of the fuggles and chinook into the AP system and will put out the rest into the dirt garden. Hops in AP is a bit of an unknown, so if they go well, then I will split the rhyzome of the hersbrucker next year and put it in the AP, if they don't well then I will still have hops in the dirt garden as they should grow fine! Very exciting indeed. Now if only I had enough land to grow my own grains, then I could do all grain mash homebrew with yeast harvested from a coopers commercial beer or air ferment!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wicking beds.

Father in-law delivered some apple crates on Friday (thanks Vern!). Got 2 out of the three set-up as wicking beds this weekend. WIll do the third one sometime during the week if I can get home early from work. Basically, the crates are lined with builders plastic, drainage slots are cut out/sliced 1/2 up the crate and then the crate is filled with straw on the bottom half, then garden soil on top. The straw does compact down about 1/2. When it rains, the soil will suck up all the moisture, which will sink to the bottom of the crate. This then wicks up through capilary action, the root zones of the plants. If there is a massive downpour, the water will flow out of the drainage slots in the plastic lining. Wicking beds are reported to be 30-50% more water efficient than traditional dirt gardening. With summer coming up, it will be interesting to see how well it works. I moved our strawberries up to one of the crates and these should fruit and spread over the next season. Being so high up, I am hoping that bugs, snails and slugs don't get to them. It will also be interesting to see which strawberry patch produces more, the wicking bed or the AP one. In anycase, the damn pine tree that was sucking all the goodness and water out of the dirt vegie patch can now suck another patch of earth dry the bloody thing!
Have included a pic of a wicking bed we made about 1month ago. Filled with carrots!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks and AP salad!

Just shoved into the oven, lamb neck shanks, potatoes, AP carrots, AP thyme and rosemary, lemon, garlic, onion, homemade chicken stock, salt and pepper. 150c for a long time, thinking until 4:30pm-5:00pm (it is now 10:30am). The meat should fall off the bone! Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Relaxing Weekend!

Weekend again (thank God!) an time for a cook up. Sourdough and sandwich loaf proofing, should be ready to bake by mid-afternoon. For lunch, homemade chicken nuggets!

Using free-ranbge organic chicken breast and a homemade crumb recipe, the boys hoe into them like nothing else!

For the crumbs, I use rice cumbs and crushed corn flakes, seasoned with mixed herbs and salt Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, dip in a whisked egg mix (I used duck eggs), coat with crumbs and shallow fry (or deep fry) until golden brown. Drain then eat. Yummo!

Made these and then sliced nuggets in half and sat them on top of an AP salad washed down with homebrew. Ahhhhh life is good sometimes ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jamie Oliver

We are currently watching Jamie Oliver at Home series on DVD. To anyone who has not watched it, do yourself a favour and get it. Well worth the watch and very inspiring. What he does is amazing, not just for at home (like in this series) but for under privileged and for the public in general. Hat off to you Jamie and well done!

Going out for dinner.

Went out for dinner tonight with the family, first time in two years that we have all gone out together for dinner. Sad to say the food was very average. On the bright side, Kobe-Li said "I don't want to go to a restaurant, we have special food at home!" I've got to say, it brought a smile to my face! We are trying to raise our kids knowing where their food comes from and how their food is cooked, all with heart and soul. For KL to say what he said was pretty special. The hard work both Hayley and I put in is sometimes (read often) draining, but well worth it in the long run.

Note: we won't be going out for dinner in the near future, unless of course it is a 3 chefs hat one!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smoked Trout

Had Toby, Henny, Samuel, Simon and his better half Kristy over today for lunch. Great day, great food and great beer! Simon bought over his smoker and had smoked trout for lunch along with a whole host of other food. An AP salad, bread, roast chicken with roast vegies, lasagna and a rice salad. Very yum indeed! The two bigger trout at an easy 40cm were too fast for me to catch without stressing all the other ones out, so it was pot luck. 3 26cm rainbows weighing between 210-230grams each.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Today we vote!

After the bitter disappointment of inaction on sooooo many issues from the Rudd led government, today is an exciting and scary day for us Australians. I will definitely give credit where it is due and one of the most positive aspects to come out of Rudd's leadership was his apology to the Aborigines on behalf of the national for the horendus treatment of there people in the past and some would even say (as I do) present.

Today we face a scary prospect of the coalition getting into power as well as the slightly less scary prospect of Labour retaining power. Of the two, I hope Labour retains power, but struth it ain't much of a choice. The negative campaigning by both parties should leave them ashamed of themselves. It would be great to see a positive campaigne from the two major parties sometime, where they talk about how to lead the country forward in humanity, environment, local Indigenous issues, education, health and peacekeeping.

I was ashamed and embarrased to call myself an Australian during the Howard years, excited at the prospect of real change and action during Rudd's short term and am now fearful of being ashamed again but excited that the Greens vote has increased and they will now hold the balance of power in the senate. What does this mean? Well if either party gets into power (and I would rather Labour to the coalition) then any bill that makes it's way to the senate will have to have a Green tinge to it. The Greens will never (although I wish they could be a contender) be contenders for running the country, but they can influence policy and direction. Fair enough some of there policies and ideas may seem to be radical and some would even say economically ignorant (and to a small - read very small - degree I agree) but as I said, they will never actually run the country, just have a say on it's direction. I agree on the direction of the Greens on so many levels, particularly humanity for those less advantaged than us, the environment both globally and locally, education and health.

Heaven forbid if the policy of "stopping the boats" was in place in 79' then me, my family and my family friends fleeing persecution, torture and death in Vietnam, would more than likely be dead.

Go Greens, get in there and make a difference!

Bread Night!

Tonight is bread night. Got a sourdough, mixed seeds and oats proofing overnight and a plain white proofing as well. Also left out my sourdough mother to keep it well active. It is working fine, but best to make sure before I put her back in the fridge for another week. Tomorrow a visit to Trentham market (maybe) bread baking and potato wicking beds. I suppose I should probably do some work as well. Will also get some more brew going. Chocolatre stout...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beetroot Preserve

Never really been a fan of beetroot, but Hayley makes beetroot preserve to die for. Must be all that vinegar she uses!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Full AP lunch!

Was going to have an omlette for lunch, but alas, no eggs, so I thought "why not have a trout?"

Couldn't say no, so I did! Carrots, beetroot leaves, lettuce and trout! All from the back yard!

Mental note: Next time, I need to make sure I get out 2 fish, one for me, one for Tano-Li! He keeps on eating all my food!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Baked Soudough!

Dust surface with flour
Dough has been proofing for 20hrs.
Scrape out onto floured surface Light knead, shape and cover with cling film in warm place until double in bulk.
Doubled in bulk in 2.5 hrs.
Pre-heated oven at 220deg c and cast iron dutch oven
Baked sourdough bread cooling on rack! Nice sandwich size loaf! Hmmmmmmmmmm!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sourdough Bread Making Pictues

1/4 cup Sourdough starter and 1 2/3 cups warm water
3 cups flour
Seed mix 1/3 cup of each
1 1/3 teaspoons salt
Add seeds
Oats as well
Mix it all up with your hands
Turn out and knead for 5 mins with fast kneading action
Put back into bucket
Leave to rise for 12-24hrs!

Making Sourdough Bread!

This is my sourdough bread recipe. I have used a lot of principles from the NY Times Sullivan's No-Knead, but there are a few differences.

Pour out about 1/4 cup of sourdough starter into a bucket.

Add 1 2/3 cups of very warm water (use warm water if the starter is at room temp. Mine is at fridge temp ie 3deg c) Mix well.

Note: A purist would probably slap me, as they would mix 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water to this mix and leave for 2 hrs before using. I am time poor so I don't do this. Plus by doing it the pure way, the bread has a more sour taste, I like my sour dough a bit milder.

Once mixed, add 3 cups of flour - bread flour preferably, but plain flour still gives great results.

Note: I have also used 1 cup bread flour, 2 cups wholemeal with great results.

Add 1 1/3 tsp salt

Add about 1/3 cup each of linseed, flaxseed sesame seed, chia seed and oats (or any other seed you have).

Note: Would love to add sunflower seeds, but don't have any hulled at the moment.

Once all in, mix using hands. I think this is the only way to do it, bugger the electric mixer or bread machine mixer. You get a good feel for the dough using your hands an know if you need more flour or water. Different flours absorb water at different rates so get a good feel for the dough and adjust accordingly.

Once well mixed, I then turn it onto a bench and do a very quick action knead for about 5 mins. This is not strictly no-knead, but as I said before, this is one of my variations. You need to knead with a fast action to avoid the dough sticking to the bench. Mind you it will definitely stick to your hands!

After about 5mins of quick kneading, put back into bucket, wrap with cling film, use a rubber band to hold the cling film in place.

Place the bucket on the bench for at least 12 hours. I always go minimum 18hrs.

Lightly flour surface and turn out the dough.

Next knead the dough for 3-4mins, no more. Once again, this is not strictly no-knead (obviously).

Shape the dough on baking paper if free forming or in proofing baskets, pans etc...

Let rise for 2 hrs then pre-heat oven for 30mins at 220deg celsius.

If you are going to bake it in a dutch oven, pre-heat this in the oven with lid on for the 30mins. If you are not, then just pre-heat oven with a shallow dish of boiling water at the bottom of the oven.

During the last 15mins of the final proofing, slash with a very very sharp knife.

Don't start baking until the dough has close to doubled in size.

Bake in oven for 30mins at 220c (if using a dutch oven, bake with lid on)

Turn down to 200c and bake for another 15mins (if using dutch-oven, take lid off at this stage as well)

I like to bake for a further 5 mins to get a good chewy crust so a total bake time of 50mins.

Let rest for 1hr and then eat with slabs of butter!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I love the smell of fresh baked bread in the morning! The first two photos are of the bread I baked last night, a plain white bread and the following ones are the sour dough bread I shaped and baked this morning.! Yum!
On an AP front, I graded the trout this morning. Trying to separate the rainbows from the browns so the browns get a chance to feed and grow. Rainbows hit the feed harder than browns and they feed closer to the top. Browns are mid stream feeders so best to get the rainbows out so the browns can fill up! Anyway removed some rainbows and the largest was easily 40cm long! I'm guessing the weight at about 375grams, but the biggest may have been close to 400g. I think I'll give them another 2-3weeks and then pull out the biggest for a feed!

Bread, truffle and venison!

Making some bread tonight! One to be baked tonight, one to be baked in the morning. Tonights one is a standard no-knead bread. Tomorrows one is a sour dough bread with linseed, flaxseed, sesame seed, chia seed and oats. Should be awesome!

Also bought some truffle and venison today. Oh my it was good! The boys kept asking for more and I was left with only a small piece for myself. Raising the boys on gourmet food is gonna get expensive!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Gourmet Farmer and personal musings

I was put onto "Gourmet Farmer" by Shaza ages ago. Didn't manage to catch it on sbs when it was on because of this that and the other, but when i could i would watch it online. Borrowed the dvd from the library not long ago, watched it back to back a few times, now have bought the dvd and am e-watching each episode as many times as possible! Absolutely love it! Matt Evans has been inspirational in our family's journey to self sufficiency. If you haven't watched it, do your self a favour and get it. http://www.sbs.com.au/shows/gourmetfarmer/blog/page/i/1/h/Blog/

Although the dream is to buy some land and set up a farm, that's a fair way away. For now, it is turning our 1/3 acre block into the most productive block possible. we are unning out of tree planting space, so now will espalier any new fruit trees we get along fence lines.

The AP system continues to supply us with salad greens, brocoli, carrots and herbs, and as the days continue to lengthen, the gowth becomes more visible. the strawberry crowns are filling out with leaves, i even have one that is flowering!

our silkie chickens have hatched and another batch on its way. these i plan to sell (more like give) to friends and if there are any roosters in the next batch, they will become roasts. Silkie meat is meant to be sweeter than usual chicken and they have black skin, so it will be interesting when the time comes.

Work on the wood oven has stopped but will start up again in the next couple of weeks as i source more mateials. wicking beds likewise.

all in all, life is good, family is healthy and work is crazy but worth the stress and heartache for the difference it seems to make. sometimes when I think I've had a bad day, week, month, even a year, I kick myself as it is nothing compared to what other people go through.

time to give the wife and kids a hug and kiss and go to sleep.

Enjoy the moment!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Homemade Pasta!

Made some fresh pasta tonight, 3 eggs, 300g organic flour, put in food processor at full ball until bread crumb texture. If it all sticks into a ball, add more flour to get bread crumb texture. Empty onto bench, roll/knead into ball, using pasta roller on the thickest setting, roll out a sheet of pasta, fold in half and roll again. Repeat until pasta is smooth. Once smooth, drop the thickness down one at a time until desired thickness reached. Flour surface, fold in half, half again and then again. Cut pasta into fettuccine or desired thickness. Cook in boiling salted water for 1-3mins (depending on how you like your pasta - the longer the boil, the chewier the pasta).

For the sauce, pull up a whole brocoli plant, cut up the leaves, stalks and heads and blanch in boiling salt water. Make up a basic cream sauce - cream, butter, dash of milk, salt, pepper, cheese and herbs. Mix blanched brocoli in the sauce, stir sauce into cooked pasta, serve with parmasen cheese! Yum!

Didn't take photos tonight, but the family loved it so much that I will make again tomorrow night and do photos.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Although not strictly AP (don't know how to change the name of the blog) we got a large bed of potatoes online today. Peter Cundall no dig style. Animal manure and blood and bone onto the grass, newspaper and straw straight on top, potatoes on top of that and then layer the bed with straw (lots of), sprinkle blood and bone, more animal poo, then straw. Keep doing that until the pile is about 30cm high. Water in (straw will compact) and leave fo nature to do its thing. As the potatoes shoot, I will add a couple more layes of staw, poo and blood and bone. If all goes well, should havest well over 250 big potatoes (maybe 50 odd kgs). Pictures later!