Friday, December 31, 2010

Summer lovers

These have all revelled in heat and (accidental) lack of water.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some more yellow tailed black cockatoos

They have been destroying the protea next door.  You need to look closely to see them.
Hint - right in the middle

I got too close

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We've lived in the area for years, but rarely leave the property - work to be done being the usual argument.  But just at the moment - while we wait for the sun and heat to ripen the blueberries, we do have time to head out and explore.  So we visited Mt Franklin - Lalgambook, as it was known by the Dja Dja Wurrung, is located 8 km north of Daylesford, 2 km off the Midland Highway (Daylesford-Castlemaine Road). The sheltered extinct volcanic crater of Mount Franklin provides ideal surroundings for a picnic or short term camping. Panoramic views can be obtained from the summit and there is a scenic walking track along the rim of the crater. (Comment from Parks Victoria website - have no idea where they got their panoramic views as the hillside is covered with conifers which soar way above the summit, blocking out all but the tiniest windows onto the other world.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Strawberries by the kilo are waiting to be picked.  Strawberry jam.  Strawberries and natural yoghurt. Strawberries and strawberries.

Peas - large, luscious, sooo sweet and so few.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Favourite Food by Valerie Childs (published in 1987) is rapidly becoming no longer a folio cook book but a source of very colorful heavy paper for making paper bags.  Some to be used for christmas gifts tomorrow.

Books meet a very strong need (?) - I must read, I must have books around me, I must keep them (even if they are never read again). I've never damaged/destroyed/desecrated a book before so cutting out the pages gives rise to very strange feelings/emotions.

Given my extremely poor engineering skills I'm rather chuffed by the outcome!  The concept came from here long ago - it did need quite a bit of tweaking.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goings on around the property

Three boys going about their business
Love these amazing markings
Hydrangea in early stage of blooming

Cotinus coggyria

Monday, December 20, 2010

Black cockatoo

On investigating distinctly different bird sounds I discovered this yellow-tailed black cockatoo in a very tall tree nearby - at least that's my excuse for a poor image.  These usually hang around in pairs or family groups; would be interesting to know where the others are.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New fruits coming

Discovering how nature "works" takes patience, sometimes years.  Last year there were no persimmon fruit, loads of figs, pears, quinces and apples and masses of blueberries.

This year, there will be no figs, few apples and pears, some cherries and quinces and lots of persimmons. Blueberries are looking good but are waiting - patiently - for heat to bring on sugar and the luscious blue color.

Persimmon flower

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baking day

Today's forecast was for 30C  so of course I elected to bake.

David Lebovitz's non-fat ginger snaps - this what mine look like.

Nothing like David's - but delicious and peppery-gingery.  The difference might have had something to do with my "slight" adjustments to the recipe - like using quince instead of apple or pear, and probably too much pepper. But yummy nevertheless.

Annabel Langbein's busy people's bread. Delicious, but not well cooked.

Paul's Christmas Pudding.  I've made this many times - and each year it's just a little different (again - free range imagination re ingredients!).  It should have been made weeks ago - and still has six hours of simmering.  Better late than never.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Strawberry jam

This jam was made from the first major harvesting of our strawberries - some "ordinary" strawberries and some hokowase - a Japanese strawberry and one of the best sweetest acid-free flavoured strawberries I've eaten.

Instead of jam making as I've done for decades, I decided to follow the queen of preserves - Christine Ferber (Mes Confitures - The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber, Michigan State University Press).  According to Mme Ferber I've been doing it all wrong!  Instead of taking a couple of hours to make jam, I should have taken three days.  Well - I did, and this is what I got.  They were the last two jars to be poured so they are more like jelly than jam!  The distinctive (illustrative) strawberry is a hokowase.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Today's harvest

Red cabbage, rhubarb and romanesco cauliflower/broccoli.

There's a great article about romanesco broccoli here in John Walker's article Fractal Food - Self-similarity on the Supermarket Shelf.

And here's my romanesco:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Always look on the bright side of liff

It's raining, raining, raining.  And it's the middle of summer!  We are now desperately seeking sunshine to ripen the blueberries.  The strawberries are going mouldy.  The guinea fowl are over the rain and each time we have a heavy downpour they stand in the middle of the orchard heaving squawks skywards in the hope that the opposite of a rain dance will work.

However, if it wasn't raining so much then I wouldn't have had time to bake this delicious banana bread - yet another recipe from Joumana at Taste of Beirut..  Now I have to be patient and wait for it to cool.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baba ghanouj

Just made delicious baba ghanouj.  Used this recipe from taste of beirut.  Thanks Joumana!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Recently watched a tape of Who do you think you are, featuring the actor Kevin Whately. He discovered his one of his forefathers had been a 'turkey merchant', which all thought meant a trader in turkey (birds) and was considered with some disdain.

The synchronicity?  Not long after I came across the same term in the book "Strange Blooms - The Curious Lives and Adventures of the John Tradescants" by Jennifer Potter.

So - what was a turkey merchant?  Well, they were Turkey merchants - Turkey, as in the country.  There's a good description of the Levant Company, or Turkey Company on wikipedia.  The Levant Company came into being in 1580, and went into decline in the early 18th century (when Kevin Whately's ancestor was working for the company) and was finally dissolved in 1825.  What an exciting time!  Think of all those exotic goods being discovered in the Levant.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pretty in pink and purple

The paeonies and cistus are blooming bright pinkly and the last of the rhododendron is in flower (as the first starts to drop its flowers).
The paeonies perfume is just gorgeous.

We've had so much rain the paeony heads can't stand upright.

Cistus - looks like an inclination to luminous pink flowers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

First dye results

Avocado pits and the green leaves of red cabbage were the first veg used to learn natural eco dyeing on silk.  The gorgeous bronze of the avocado pit was achieved on unmordanted silk, the gold from the green red cabbage leaves was over 1/3 vinegar 2/3 water mordanted silk.
Green red cabbage leaves left and avocado pits others

Compare the green leaf of red cabbage outcome above with the red cabbage leaf outcome achieved by Lisa here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Today we downed tools and went exploring to the Loddon Falls and Glenlyon Cemetery. Here's an interesting entry by someone who has recently paddled from the falls at Glenlylon along the river to Vaughan.  The vertical pipe-like structures are evidence of ancient volcanic activity.

Walking back up from the falls, we passed a paddock of cattle. Ever mindful of the response to "here kitty kitty" we tried "here moo moos" - and it worked! Well - sort of. They all raced to the fence, checked us out then decided we weren't worth anything in the food department and eventually wandered off.

Glenlyon Cemetery is small and seems little populated - but who knows what unsigned graves are under the grass.