Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sewing cupboard Part 1

Check this out! Clever husband brought home this old cupboard that was being dumped from one of the building sites. We had planned on converting a cupboard into a portable "sewing room" for me for a while but were waiting for the right old cupboard to fall into our hands. We figured that by doing this we could use the whole room that I normally use for sewing for something else.

Sewing cupboard Part 2

Dave used a few pieces of another cupboard that came with this one to make shelves all to the measurements to fit in my bits 'n' bobs, and made a shelf on a roller that pulls out for my machines to sit on. I pull up a chair and off I go! All the cords are ingeniously attached to the back of the roller shelf so that I don't end up on my hands and knees trying to find them!

As Dave set about the practical details I focused on the pretty things! I wallpapered the inside of the doors with some vintage wallpaper that I had stashed away and used Japanese washi tape to cover the edges of the shelves which were a bit knocked around. I savored the time putting in all my things in just the right place and hammered nails into the doors to hold my cotton, labels, etc. It has turned out better than I hoped and working there is actually easier that what I had before as everything is within arms reach. Also I love that at the end of a sewing session I can just shut it all up and not look at it anymore! I think this would be perfect for someone living in a small apartment or share house and wanting to have a sewing space.

We now have used the space that I used to have for sewing for something else which I will post about soon!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blackberry season

This is just our third Summer in this house. The first year was a drought year without much rain at all, the second was an average year but still without too much rain and this year, as is widely known, the Summer has been drenched in rain. . . . more rain than we know what to do with. This has meant that the garden is looking very different than what it normally does this year and things are flowering that I have never seen flower before. And the blackberries! Last year we got a good amount and the year before hardly any. We have a wild, out of control weed like blackberry up here in the hills that is really in plague proportions and while during the rest of the year we curse it and try to get rid of it, it is this time of year that we appreciate it. And especially this year where I can pick a huge bucket of plump berries every day and still not be able to get them all, and that is just on our property. We are planning on eventually clearing them because they are a problem and we will plant a variety that is easier to control and in a place that we want them, but in the mean time I am picking as many as I can and freezing them for muffins, cakes, jam and whatever else I feel like using them for throughout the coming year.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Making pasta

In our attempt to replace as many store bought items with ones handmade we now make our own pasta on a regular basis. We used to only have this as a special treat before we got chickens as the cost of handmade pasta when buying eggs is expensive compared to store dried pasta. But, now that we have the girls out the back providing more than enough eggs we can enjoy the good stuff all the time. Again, as I always say, the closer you get to a sustainable lifestyle the better you eat!
Making pasta also provides some entertainment for Jonty who is now the master of the pasta machine. . . . I'm not allowed to touch it anymore!

The recipe is very simple; 1 egg to 100gms of bread flour. Just mix it together by hand on a bench or put it in a food processor. Once you have a stiff dough refrigerate it for a few hours before working with it.
We use a pasta machine to roll it out but you could use a rolling pin if you don't have one although I think this could be pretty hard work. I don't use the attachment to cut it into strips as I prefer the handcut look better and also like a nice fat strip called pappadelle instead of the thin which the attachment cuts.

I make a large batch at a time and then freeze it in batches so that it is there when I have a pasta craving which happens at least once a week.
The only problem with making your own pasta is that it is very hard to go back to the bought stuff which never compares!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Garden review

Sorry about the lack of new posts lately but my camera broke down. However, a very generous friend has lent me her spare one and so now I'm back!
So, just to take stock of the garden at the moment. . . .
we are harvesting a variety of goodies that I don't think I will have to be buying any vegetables for a very long time. There are been enough to start stockpiling for lean times and I have been blanching and freezing with also a little preserving.

Currently we have zucchinis which can get away from us every now and again and we end up with huge marrows but I find that they are still delicious in soup or layered in a veg lasagne. I might try to pickle some soon. They are coming on at a nice pace though and because it is one of my favourite vegetables I'm finding a way to get them into most dinners lately!

I'm still pulling up the last of the beetroot and made three jars of relish yesterday.

I've experimented with growing a dried bean selection and thought that this would be harder than what it was but it has turned out quite successfully. The beans can been eaten fresh or left on the plant to dry and when you open up the brown shriveled pod you find these brightly coloured beans. I'm drying them out a bit more and then they will be put in a jar ready for cooking up one day! I've grown borlotti, black beans and yin yang beans. They have been fun to grow for something different.

Check out this beautiful heirloom beetroot!

Our heirloom pumpkins are doing great and are very prolific; I'm having to rescue them from getting over the fence into the neighbours yard! We have already eaten a few and soon I'll start piling them up on a shelf in the kitchen where they will hopefully sit until needed. I'm definitely saving seeds from these beauties as they will be something to be grown each year I think.

Also being harvesting at the moment is lettuce, capsicums, the last of the parsnip, blackberries, rhubarb and the brussel sprouts rescued from the caterpillers.
Next to soon come on are the tomatoes, chillies, celery and globe artichokes with potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes in the ground to come at a later date. I need to get to planting all the seed for the next planting out so will do that in the next few days. As long as I stay on top of it I should have a great variety for the table all year round. It's not something that you can get lazy about for too long I'm discovering, otherwise there will be very lean times in your harvest but it doesn't take that much time really to get so much reward.