Saturday Stall

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Even though I haven’t written a blog post for a couple of weeks it doesn’t mean that I have been slothful. Far from it. It is just that most of the day-to-day happenings have not been worthy of a blog post.

I have also been occupied in creating as many Boomerang Bags as possible for our very first market stall at the Witta Market on Saturday. This market in our district is dedicated to local makers and growers so it seemed to be the perfect fit for our bags.

We kept it very simple and used the bags as the decorations to attract potential customers.

Here is a close-up of some of the bags.

The market was a clear success with bags being sold as well as some potential volunteers identified and raising our public profile.

Next month’s market is barely a week before Christmas so will be a great opportunity for some last-minute gifts.

A Long Road

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Many of the projects we have worked on here have taken a considerable length of time to achieve. Sometimes it is the planning, sometimes the money or resources and others are simply a matter of time and competing priorities.

It is almost 15 years since we moved here and growing some of our own vegetables was an early goal. Although we have 1.5 acres of land, much of it is unsuitable for vegetable gardening – too steep or flood-prone so we identified an area close to the house as the spot for our future vegetable gardens. It was all grassed so the first version looked like this.

The soil is excellent and our efforts were reasonably successful, however, we had a somewhat grander plan.

Early in 2011 we built the first raised garden bed. The plan allowed for 9 beds eventually.

Still just one raised bed as we needed to source more suitable uprights.

Progress and by late in 2012 there were 3 raised garden beds. The star pickets on the left of the photo show the position of the next ones to be made.

In reality, 3 beds was probably plenty for us to manage while we were working fulltime but our agenda was long-term.

By the end of 2016 the plan was definitely coming together. We had 6 raised garden beds and woodchip mulch to create paths and suppress the weed and grass growth. The area was also fully fenced.

Late 2017 shows further development but no more garden beds.

The last 6 months or so have provided plenty of opportunity for working on projects at home and thanks to scoring some additional secondhand Colorbond we have finally finished the last of the garden beds.

There are 9 nine beds as per the original plan. We will be buying some soil for the last 3 and also to top up the soil in the others. The woodchip mulching of the paths also needs to be extended to include the areas around the new garden beds.

Then it will be time to get planting. I hope the predicted rain arrives in the next couple of weeks.

All of this has been achieved with salvaged, secondhand and excess materials.

Use It All

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I have spent the day in the kitchen today. When you grow produce it is important to ensure that it is used and does not go to waste. There is a degree of urgency as we are heading away on holidays in a couple of days. I made broccoli soup, juiced oranges and limes and dealt with a bunch of celery which I picked a couple of days ago.

Some of the celery had been used on a platter with hummus and guacamole but the majority of the bunch was still intact and all of the leaves. We love celery soup and when I make it I use all of the stalks and leaves. However, I have enough celery soup in the freezer at the moment.

I separated the stalks and chopped them ready for snacks and salads, but what to do with the leaves? I decided to experiment. Firstly, I washed them then removed the excess moisture in the salad spinner.

Then it was into the dehydrator.

Because the leaves are quite light it only took about 3 hours to dry them. Then I simply crumbled them into flakes and shook them through the colander to remove the larger stalks.

This is the result.

Did you know that celery is the prime ingredient in vegetable stock powder? I will use them for seasoning in soups, casseroles and a selection of other dishes.

I am pleased to have been able to use all of the bunch of celery without wasting any of it.

Mending to Save the Planet

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The current television series, ‘Fight for Planet A’, has opened some vigorous debate in some forums.  Some people believe that promoting the use of renewable sources of energy is reckless as this is simply perpetuating the problem that is the ‘growth economy’. Unless we actually participate in degrowth the planet is doomed.

I am not totally of this mind, however, I do believe that much of our future depends on a serious change of mindset and questioning what stuff we actually need.

A really good place to start is to think twice about replacing broken or damaged items. I want to give you an example which confronted me this morning.

We have a laundry hamper in our bedroom and one of the handles snapped when I picked it up to take it to the laundry this morning.

I decided to mend the handle and found some strong navy fabric in my collection. It happened to match nicely, however, I would have used any colour or pattern if required.

I applied a small strip of double-sided interfacing to the wrong side.

The job was a bit tricky with the handle still attached to the hamper. I basted the 2 ends of the handle together and then pressed the interfacing to the handles.

The remainder of the fabric was folded over and around the existing handle. Here it is pinned and ready to stitch.

I stitched all around the patched handle and reinforced the ends and this is the result.

My repair effort is far from perfect but it is functional. I even managed to put a twist in the handle, despite my best efforts not to. However, this does not detract from the usefulness of the handle.

There is no right or wrong way to approach a repair so this is simply an example of what can be done.

The repaired hamper will hopefully last for many more years.

This is degrowth in action. Do not buy things that you do not need. Think laterally and repair or reuse what you already have. If you are not able to do you own repairs, check out your local repair cafe or ask a friend, neighbour or relative. We all have skills and we need to support each other in whatever ways we can.

Patience Pays Off

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We often think of being patient and/or persistent when it comes to locating a specific item.  It can be trawling secondhand shops or even looking for a vary particular item brand-new.

However, I have discovered that patience and allowing things to take their course can apply in equal measure when trying to sell or give something away.  Somewhere, sometime there will be somebody for whom your treasure will be just perfect.  It is simply a matter of finding them.

A case in point is this dressing table.  We bought it several years ago with a view to restoring it but plans and needs changed and we needed to find a new home for it.

The mirror attaches to the back of the dressing table and the mirror is absolutely stunning – almost a metre in diameter with a beautiful pie crust edge.

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The interior of the cupboards features a central shelf on one side and 4 drawers on the other.

I listed it over 2 months ago on several local Buy, Swap, Sell groups on Facebook.  Despite a few enquiries it failed to be sold.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to try Gumtree and was feeling a bit despondent as there did not seem to be any interest.

Yesterday I received an enquiry about the Gumtree advertisement from people who live in an adjacent locality in our semi-rural area.  They arranged to collect it at 10am this morning.

I held my breath as I cannot remember the countless times that promising sales or giveaways have failed to eventuate.

As arranged the purchasers arrived with a trailer at the appointed time and were absolutely delighted with the dressing table which they plan to put to good use as they fit out their newly-acquired home.

I was really pleased to see this go to a good home and know that it will be appreciated.

Bug-Free Brassicas – Part 2

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Remember this post?

Well, here is the first result of my endeavours.

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One of the things I am passionate about is eating local, seasonal produce wherever possible so this freshly picked broccoli from our own garden was destined to become part of our evening meal.

A simple stir-fry of chicken and broccoli.

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CHICKEN & BROCCOLI STIR-FRY (Serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet, cut into strips
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1/2 head broccoli, broken into small florets
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
Oil

SAUCE

2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered chilli
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Heat the oil, saute the chicken until cooked then add the onion and broccoli.  Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.  When the broccoli is lightly cooked add the sauce and stir until it has thickened and coated the chicken and vegetables.  Stir in the sunflower seeds.

Serve with rice.

Delicious and the money spent on netting the raised beds containing the brassicas has definitely been a worthwhile exercise.

I am looking forward to plenty more meals featuring our homegrown broccoli.

 

Ready for Refill

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It is August already and I barely mentioned Plastic Free July in the past month.  While this is a great initiative to encourage people to rethink their reliance on single-use plastics, I try to make every month as free from plastic as possible.

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Today I loaded up my basket with these plastic bottles to return to Felix from Kin Kin Naturals.  These bottles will be reused.  He has a stall at the Kin Kin markets which is about 80km from our place.  We usually go about once a year to stock up on products we use – laundry liquid, laundry pre-soak, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher powder.

It is great to support a local, family-owned business and by buying direct we can save money and plastic.

Pantry Organisation

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As I promised in my post from yesterday, here is my pantry.  It is reasonably well-organised but has not been tidied especially for these photos.

My grocery shopping can be divided into 2 basic categories.  The first is bulk bin purchases of dry goods such as nuts, flours, seeds, legumes which are shown in the first photo.  I buy most of these from Simply Good.  I am able to take my own containers to fill and thus avoid any packaging.  This is important to me and particularly relevant as we approach the end of Plastic Free July.

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I regard supermarket shopping as the last resort – I buy those items which I cannot grow, swap, buy from the producer directly, greengrocer, butcher or otherwise plastic free.  These include dairy products and a small number of canned or packaged foods.  These are mostly shown in the next photo.

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By having an organised refrigerator and pantry, I am able to easily scan the shelves and create a shopping list when required.

 

Refrigerator Organisation

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We did the grocery shopping early this morning and when I came home I wiped out and tidied the refrigerator before putting everything away.

I don’t whether it is simply habit but I routinely place items in the same area of the refrigerator.  It certainly makes it easier to locate things when I need them.

This is the main part of the refrigerator.

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The door shelves are similarly organised.

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2 things came to my notice when doing this.

The refrigerator is not overstuffed.  We have plenty of food without it being jam-packed.

Almost everything is purchased or stored in glass.  I still have and use some plastic containers but these are becoming less and less.

I am happy to answer any questions about the contents of the refrigerator.

Tomorrow I will show you the pantry contents and storage.

Eggplant Pizza

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I make my own gluten free pizza bases and often have slices of roasted eggplant as one of the toppings.

Last night I took a different path and used the eggplant as the bases.   2 separate events led me to try this option.  In fact, this blog post could easily have been titled, ‘A Tale of 2 Julias’.  In 2014 we were privileged to meet a fellow blogger, Julia Davis-Coombs from Creative Economy in the Kitchen.  Julia lives on the other side of the world so it was a delight to meet her when we were on our travels.  Our shared lunch included mini pizzas made with slices of a very large zucchini as the base.  Although I have not re-created this dish, it is a meal I have not forgotten.  The second Julia was a recent online encounter with Julia B. in a group when I was canvassing ideas for a vegetarian meal and I mentioned that one of the vegetables I had on hand was eggplant.  While I did not use her suggestion that night, it seemed ideal when I came to make dinner last night.

EGGPLANT PIZZA

1 large eggplant
Sea salt
Olive oil
Pizza toppings as desired

Cut the eggplant into slices about 1 – 1.5cm in thickness.  Place on a baking tray, lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast for 10 minutes at 160C.

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Remove eggplant from the oven and add toppings.  I used homemade tomato pizza sauce and mixed herbs then chopped mushroom and capsicum (bell pepper) and finally, sliced olives and cheddar cheese.

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Return pizzas to the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.

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Serve immediately.

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This was a light and tasty alternative to a traditional pizza and perfect for lunch.

NOTE:  You do need a knife and fork when eating these.