Uncategorized

Wholemeal honey cake recipe

I’ve been meaning to share this for a while. In fact I’ve got about ten mentally prepared blog posts waiting!

This honey cake was one I took to a friends gathering a few weeks back and we loved it so much I knew I needed to write down the recipe before I forget!

I adapted this from the River cottage everyday cookbook recipe. There’s only slight changes I use less sugar and instead of almonds on top I used pimentos and served with home made ricotta. If you want the original recipe I highly recommend buying Hughs book as there’s lots of really great recipes in it.

Honey Wholemeal cake

Ingredients

300g butter – I use salted and don’t add extra salt to the batter

4 eggs

80g brown sugar

150g wholemeal flour

2tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb soda

150g ground almonds

50g pimentos (or almond flakes, walnuts ect)

4 tablespoons Honey

Method

Preheat oven to 180C

Grease your cake pan. I use a round springform pan but whatever you have on hand is fine. I save my butter wrappers to use for greasing and baking

Put softened butter and sugar into a bowl and cream together then beat in eggs one at a time and add a spoonful of flour with each egg

Fold in ground almonds then add in remaining flour ,baking powder and bicarb. You can sift it if you want a lighter cake.

Scrape the mix into your prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35-40mins or when the knife comes out clean

Take from oven and while the cake is hot poke holes all through the cake with a skewer and drizzle honey over.

When cake is cool top with ricotta and pimentos then drizzle extra honey over the top.

Enjoy!

Uncategorized

Tasmanian Bush fires

We’ll we’ve had quite a unplanned adventure the last few weeks when we really would have rather been in the garden!

Dane had been working long hours at the orchards while I was holding fort with the kids at home. We were both so exhausted and barely able to say two words to each other before falling asleep of the evening.

I remember putting Banjo our 4 year old to bed one night when there was a huge bang of thunder.

Thunder storms are unusual in our part of the world and this one was powerful. We saw lightening strike at the end of our street then all was quiet.

The next morning we noticed smoke and checked the fire site online to discover the lightening had started several fires across the state and a fire at the end of our street.

Luckily they got the fire on our street under control fairly quickly, The kids loved seeing the helicopter fly low over the paddocks and put their siren on for them.

Quickly we went back to our normal routine of work, kids and chaos not knowing what the next weeks would bring.

We were excited when Dane finally had three days off and had lots of plans to do garden and bee jobs.

One of the Fires in the Tahune wilderness had grown larger so we vaguely kept a eye on the TFS alert page and listened to the radio for any changes.

We spent the morning collecting chamomile to harvest and I noticed I had lots of messages. When I checked I saw we had been upgraded to emergency level and advised to leave the area.

Our next few hours were spent wrangling chickens, packing essentials and listening to the fire news which was sounding ominous and saying the fire was quickly growing.

Eventually that afternoon we got to the evacuation centre where we slept 2 nights inside and 3 out in a tent we borrowed from friends.

It was very stressful being away from home but it showed us how special our community is. We made new friends in the evacuation centre and had lots of offers of help from friends which we really appreciated.

We are now back home and while the fire keeps burning , we remain on advice warning and the sound of the helicopters send us ridged. The smoke has cleared and we feel safe to get back to business.

We feel very lucky we could come home. We are devastated for the wild life but the firefighters did a amazing job preventing any human lives being lost and few homes destroyed. We feel for those who lost their homes many being uninsured artists who’d built their place with love not money.

The process has taught us a lot the importance of being prepared. The importance of community and also what in our lives is important.

Foody things

Simple homemade ice cream and sweetened condensed milk recipe

It’s been really hot for Tasmania recently and I wanted to have a treat for their kids in the freezer. They can’t have commercial ice creams as Miss 6 reacts to additives and preservatives but I don’t want them to miss out on the childhood joy of summer ice creams.

Usually I make ice cream using a egg base but our chickens have been cunning recently and hiding the eggs so we don’t have as many on hand.

I make my own sweetened condensed milk so I decided to try a new simple no churn ice cream that worked out beautifully.

Making sweetened condensed milk is really simple you can do it in a blender, saucepan of just a bowl. I never buy cans anymore which cuts down on cost and waste.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Ingredients

1C boiling water

55g butter or margarine

4C milk powder

1-2Cups sugar depending on desired sweetness

1. Add butter and boiling water to your blender or bowl and stir it blend until melted

2.add 1 cup Milk powder and 1 cup sugar at a time and mix/blend after adding continue until all ingredients are used up then pop into a sealed container and refrigerate

Simple icecream

We added lightly cooked fresh cherries to ours but you can add anything you like. Blue berries, caramel ect

Ingredients

  • 2C condensed milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pour ingredients together in a bowl and whip until thick and making patterns

Pour into bread pan lined with baking paper or similar vessel add your extras and swirl around

Freeze for 4hours and enjoy!

bee keeping, Homesteading

New Year and first honey harvest!

Well I have lots to catch up on and once again writing gets away from me.

Life is so full and busy these days especially with all the summer garden and homesteading chores.

Ember is now 6 months old and trying to crawl. She loves watching her older siblings play. Having three children at home and homeschooling full time is full on all the time and crazily I’ve applied to have a stall at the Tasmania made markets in Hobart next June which means I need to push myself to create more stock. It’s a big market running over two days but I’m hoping it will be good a good way to promote my Etsy store.

We’ve been having lots of home days recently. Dane is back working at the orchard Cherry picking. He was offered a supervisors role but turned it down as after the picking season he’ll need to concentrate on finishing his Diploma in Agriculture.

The garden is looking lovely and lush. We’ve just picked our cherries and frozen some for winter but mostly we’ve just enjoyed eating them fresh. Especially Banjo who’s given himself the nickname John cherries.

We’ve got growing pumpkins, zucchinis, beans, eggplants, capsicums, nectarines, peaches, lots of tomatoes and a experimental watermelon.

I’ve taken an greater interest in flower gardening this year since we got bees. The chamomile is going crazy and we are looking forward to our tea parties in winter.

The bees have been feasting on a fire thorn near the orchard and lots of delicious native tea trees and gums. Our hive is thriving with a very strong colony and we’ve been doing inspections every 10 days or so to prevent swarming and are looking for signs to split the hive. They are such calm lovely ladies and this weekend we took 4 frames of honey.

We were very nervous about taking the honey expecting them to be really angry with us but they didn’t even blink!

How we collected the frames

We took down a plastic storage container with a lid and smoked the hive.

We took off the hive lid and removed the honey super then closed up the hive.

We shook the bees off a frame then brushed any remaining off and quickly popped the frame in thebstorage box with the lid on. We did this for the remaining 3 frames then closed up the hive and double checked we weren’t taking any bees with us and went inside to start extracting.

None of our harvesting tools had arrived so we extracted the honey using a baking tin, metal spatula , kitchen colanders and muslin cloths. Not your most sophisticated set up but it was low cost and worked!

Using the metal spatula we scraped the honey out of the frame on each side being very careful not to break the foundation. The honey was then tipped from the baking tray into a muslin cloth over a colander on top of a 5litre food grade bucket to drain out.

We popped the lid on the top and weighed it down with heavy jars. We’ll leave the rest to drain out in a warm spot indoors and from time to time squeeze the muslin cloths to get more honey out.

After this with strain again over a fine sieve and pop them in the jars!

We probably got just under 10litres of honey from 4 frames in a deep 8 frame hive. We are expecting a few more frames but are making sure that we leave a full ideal of honey foe the bees over winter.

Considering I was expecting the worst with lots of angry bees and sticky mess this was a pretty successful harvest in my eyes!

Homesteading, Uncategorized

Beeswax lipbalm

A few weeks ago on instagram I posted about rendering down the old wax from our beehive to have on hand for making home products.

This was a messy but not difficult process and quite easy I just had to make sure we did it very early on a cool day before the bees got too interested.

We used a bucket , old electric frypan and a muslin cloth.

I wrapped the old comb in the cloth and secured with a rubber band then filled the frypan with water and put the comb filled cloth in when the water was boiling.

The bucket was filled with cold water and when the cloth had emptied of wax I poured it off into the cold bucket and left it to set.

Once set I remelted the wax disc to clean it from any let over dirt and then poured it through a coffee filter into the paper cup moulds to set.

We were all in desperate need of new lip balm the wind and hay fever season chapping our lips.

After much searching we decided on doing a simple coconut oil, beeswax and essential oil balm.

  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 20-30 drops essential oil
  1. Melt beeswax and coconut oil in a double boiler stirring constantly until melted.
  2. Remove pan from heat
  3. Add essential oils
  4. Once you’ve added the essential oils fill your containers. We used some old empty lip balm tubes and small glass jars.
  5. Let tubes sit at room temperature for several hours until cooled and completely hardened before capping them.

If you want a  thicker lip balm use more beeswax during the melting process.

Happy making

Uncategorized

Possum proof plants for bees

We’ve been discussing our future here and what we’d like to do. We are in a great rental and we have decided we would like to sit down with our landlord and make a 5 year plan to ensure we are safe to establish things and build infrastructure.

Now we have bees we really want more bee friendly flowers but as we only have the netted orchard area at this stage and we are using that to grow food and herbs it means space for ornamentals is limited due to the rampaging local wildlife.

I’ve been trying to think of ways around this and in my googling ‘plants that possums don’t eat’ I found some results through a PDF file from town and country gardens called ‘Possum proof plants’

Some of the plants listed are already thriving in our garden but not all are safe for bees.

The Rhododendrons are a worry as the flowers can create ‘mad honey’ once used in wars to take down enemies through poison and hallucinations but from what I read the bees tend to avoid it when they have other options and we should be safe (stay tuned!)

White Lillies, lilacs, Iris and daffodils are some ornamental thriving in our garden but what else could we add?

After going through the list and checking which of the mentioned plants are safe for bees these are the ones I’ve chosen for our garden.

My only concern is that some are not safe for any future livestock. I’m not worried about the poultry as they avoid most of the poisonous plants here already naturally (They even eat the foxgloves leaves a little for self worming!).

If we do get goats in the future they won’t be in the areas the ornamentals are so hopefully everyone will be safe!

After we’ve spoken to our landlord we’ll start making a plan for a ornamental garden surrounding the house.

Bergenia cordifolia

Perennial growing approx 30cm high and spreads to 1m. White or pink flowers in winter, it is
excellent as a ground cover, rock garden or border plant. It is easy to grow, and will tolerate a wide
range of conditions, however it prefers semi-shade and moist, rich humus soil.

Acanthus mollis (Bears breech, Tasmanian angel)

Evergreen, soft wooded perennial which grows in an upright clump to approx 1m x 1m. The dark
green, glossy leaves are lobed and toothed. Purple and white flowers appear on tall, erect spikes
from November to January. This plant has weed potential, so should be planted where it can
spread. A great ‘filler’ in a large garden.

Viburnum opulus (snowball tree, cramp bark, Dog berry, guelder rose, )

Viburnum opulus is European cranberry bush. This viburnum shrub grows roughly 10 feet tall and wide. Like many viburnum shrubs, it grows well in full sun or part shade and adapts to many different kinds of soil. Viburnum opulus grows even in consistently moist or wet soils. Once established, this viburnum also shows good resistance to drought, heat and pollution.

Multi-season interest is a hallmark of Viburnum opulus. White flowers up to 3 inches across appear in late spring and early summer and resemble lacecap hydrangea blooms. The blossoms fade to form pendulous berry clusters that ripen from green to bright cherry red by late summer. Typically berries remain on the shrubs through fall and winter until birds eat them the following spring. Green leaves turn shades of gold and red-purple in fall.

Hydrangea

The most commonly grown hydrangeas are a must have shrub for shade – planted in the ground or
pots. Flowers are mainly blue, pink or white and are ball shaped or lacecap form. You can change
the colour of the flowers by altering the pH – pink in alkaline soil, blue in acidic. Pinks and blues can
be intensified using chemicals resulting in mauve, purple and red blooms. They like a fair amount of water

Chaenomeles speciosa (japonica, flowing quince) we already have these here so will propagate them from cuttings

This drought tolerant deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub grows 8 – 10ft with equal or greater spread.
The ‘Flowering Quince’ has a very dense jumble of spiny branches and has white, pink or red
flowers in late winter / early spring. They make a good bonsai specimen. These are the first flowers to bloom after winter and provide food for the bees.

Snow in summer

Great in hanging baskets, this evergreen, drought tolerant, fast growing ground cover spreads to 60cm
in a sunny well drained position. It has furry silver green leaves with masses of white flowers living up
to the common name ‘snow in summer’. Grows well under roses, and looks great planted with
succulents.

Crataegus laevigata ‘Pauls Scarlet’

Image result for Crataegus Paul’s Scarlet tasmania

Deciduous tree, 5-20 ft (4.5-6 m), low branching, rounded top, dense thorny (to 2.5 cm long) branches. Leaves alternate, simple, glossy green, rounded 3-5 lobed, serrulate, of variable size. Flowers double, scarlet with a tinge of rose, very showy

Other plants I’m interested in

Salvias

Crepe myrtle

Daisy, natives and other varieties

Poppies

Native Sarsparilla

Fairy fan flowers

Correas

Grevillis

Pin cushion tree

Bottle brush

Banksia

Sedum

Butterfly bush

I’ll add more as I come across them but that’s all for now 🐝

Homesteading, News

Spring 2018 -Goslings, gardening, busy bees

Lots has been going on here in Judbury.

We’ve had family visit which was lovely but it’s always nice to get back into our routine after. Little Ember has been to the paediatrician to make sure her skull hasn’t fused early which would mean surgery. Something we’d really like to avoid since I worked so hard to have a natural birth after two cesareans. We’ve been doing regular cranio work with the chiropractor which seems to be helping so we are remaining positive at the moment it’s all watch and wait until she’s two.

She’s nearly four months now and is looking so much like her big sister at that age.

Our landlord took his bees away which we all decided was for the best as the hive was neglected and it was too much for newbies like us to take on.

Instead we went out and found our own year old colony and hive from a local bee keeper and it is very healthy and buzzing away. The orchard has just burst into flower and the bees are happily helping pollinate the cherries. We will do a thorough inspection on the weekend and soon after harvest the honey. I’m really excited about our veg garden this year and becoming amateur bee keepers.

If there’s no queen cells found during the inspection then we are going to put a extra super on top to try and prevent swarming but we are also planning to set bait hives up around the property to catch swarms so we will have more hives next year.

We’ve had some other new additions with our goslings hatching. Only two are out so far and unfortunately they have splayed legs which we have bandaged to try and correct. We watched a great YouTube video by a Australian farmer https://youtu.be/cF86DffddXc and I highly recommended watching it if you have similar problems. The Goslings are now looking great and waddling around.

Dane has been working hard getting the goose yard ready he’s brush cut all the thistles, taken down a old garden net and started building a gate for easier access.

The garden is looking wonderful. Dane’s been building some beds in the ground to give the garlic more room and have the beds free for summer veg. We plan to have a flower garden at one end of the orchard and plant out some of the lemon balm and apple mint we have in pots.

It’s hard having having possums destroy everything outside of the netting as it means we have to plan more and restrict what we plant in the ground.

The netting at the end of the orchard needs a lot of work to repair but the long term plans are to fix it up and have berries growing in it.

I’ve been dabbling in wetfelting and found a new passion for making hats

I’m really enjoying learning about the process and will be putting my early creations on Etsy to try and raise the funds towards better equipment. Eventually I’d like to be able to make farm hats.

I’ve been busy at night making cheese after a generous gift of milk from a friend. It’s been fun refreshing all my cheese making skills and we are reminded of our time with our old Jersey. We won’t get a cow again for a long time but we would like goats at some point. For now we have our hands full and we will keep happily busy enjoying all the promises of spring.