Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Summer 2018

Well once again the blog has fallen on the back burner and I apologise. I find it difficult these days with two small children ,homeschooling,  two little businesses and D working full time to keep up with everything and I’m probably most active on Instagram if you like to keep up to date with us.

Summer has been busy with lots of visitors from the mainland , lots of work and lots of delicious produce. We’ve not had the best luck with the garden this summer everything seems to be growing very slowly despite the good weather. There is a young wallaby hiding in the garden which we haven’t managed to flush out yet. I know its in there as I find its gigantic scats through the garden as well as my young cucumber seedlings being nibbled.

I think the garden can feel our energies shifting from it as we prepare to move. We haven’t found somewhere yet but with our lease ending two weeks after our new baby is due we are constantly searching for the right place. It is hard in the valley at the moment with long term pet friendly rentals scarce and cheap properties to buy even scarcer. This area has become really popular since we moved down and things get snapped up very quickly.

To keep myself distracted I’ve been enjoying all the delicious summer produce available locally. We have had a really amazing cherry season with local orchards having more than they can deal with and selling fill your own buckets for $5! The Stone fruit orchards had sun dribbling peaches and the blueberries are also abundant. A friend and I have started up a preserving group where women come together to preserve the harvest while the children play and form their own tribes.

The first meeting was small but we did peaches in bottles, Jam and wine. Next we will be buying local cucumbers and others will be bringing their own produce. I’ve decided not to preserve at the next one but instead I’ll be on hand to chop and help newbies. I’ve got lots frozen in the freezer now that plums have come into season and I will slowly be doing a preserve a day. Today was Plum and vanilla bean jam and Apricot Jam from our trees. Jam seems to be what we go through the most as the children love it with yogurt but I also need to get creative and replenish our sauce stocks. I am hoping we get a good crop of tomatoes and I long for the day I can have a polytunnel to increase our growing season.

Until next time

Anne

Fermenting, Uncategorized

Cherries – Sour cherry cider recipe

We have been very spoilt this year with a wonderful cherry season. It wasn’t looking good at first as our ill positioned tree lost all its fruit to bad weather and birds but our neighbors trees, the wild trees and the local orchards are thriving. My friend and neighbour who’s fruit I regularly pilfer in return for preserves gave the call out for me to come help myself to Cherries. I picked as much as I could possibly close to 20kg but the trees were still laden!

D and I spent the next few nights painfully pitting them to freeze and use in preserves so I will slowly be sharing my recipes over the next few weeks. We have so far picked them, Fermented them in a Salsa and made a batch of jam. There will be even more cherries coming our way soon and with the frozen ones and these I plan to bottle cherry pie filling and do some experiments. I’ve also been doing some simple country ciders with the wild sour cherries we have been picking.

Sour Cherry Cider

This is a very simple recipe I make this up in a 5 litre food grade bucket with a muslin close and rubber band to secure it.

I used

500g sour cherries pits squeezed out and squished in the bucket

to this I added 4 Cups of sugar and 1 litre of boiling water. I stir until the sugar is dissolved then top up the bucket with luke warm water before adding the cider yeast. I add 2 tsp but it depends on the brand you are using so just follow the directions on your yeast packet.

I pop the Muslin cloth on and take it to my fermenting spot where I leave it for 3 days

after three days I scoop the cherries out and then leave it another week. Then I bottle it and leave it 2 days to carbonate before putting it in the fridge.

You can drink it whenever you wish but it’s best to leave it 6 months to a year to mature but if you are like me you won’t be able to wait! Luckily this time I’m pregnant so I won’t be enjoying any of this batch until next summer!

 

Homesteading, Preserving

Rose petal Jam

I first made this Jam last year. I didn’t use a recipe and experimented but this year I wrote it down to share so I can find it next year! Unfortunately I haven’t managed to figure out how to make this in larger batches as its a very delicate jam and I don’t want to compromise the flavour which is like Turkish delight in a jar. Because of this it’s a really special jam in our family and we live to make rose jam tarts with whipped cream in the winter. 

Recipe 

I fill my basket with the most fragrant and darker coloured roses in the garden. Measured out it’s about three compacted cups. 

I put the rose petals in a pot with two cups of boiling water. Simmer until the petals have almost list colour then add two cups of sugar and one squeezed lemon. 

When sugar has dissolved I added 11/2 teaspoons of powdered pectin. 

I then bring to boil and reduce to medium boiling until it reaches desired consistency. This Jam sets a bit more like a jelly with the use of pectin. If you prefer a syrup for ice cream or cordials omit the pectin and do not boil as long. 
Enjoy

Uncategorized

Vanillekranse recipe and book review

I love recipe books especially when they are written by farmers and homesteaders. My most recent library borrow was local is lovely by Sophie Hansen who is a venison farmer in central west NSW. The book has lots of homely easy to follow recipes gathered from other farmers mostly from the central west nsw. There was a big sense of nostalgia reading this book as we lived in the area before moving to Tasmania and I recognised some of the local farms. 

We’ve been trying out lots of recipes from the book and so far the favourite has been Vanillekranse which the children really enjoyed making with the piping bag. The result is a buttery biscuit similar to shortbread. The recipe makes quite a lot so they would make wonderful Christmas gifts so snacks for days!

Fermenting

Green garlic pesto

We pulled up a bunch of green garlic recently. The garlic was here when we moved in and had self seeded but we think we’ve identified it as elephant garlic which is more closely related to leeks than garlic so has a mild garlic and onion flavour. 

I wanted to make a fermented garlic pesto or paste. This was very much a experiment and we shall see if it works. 

I did this in two batches in the food processor using about 10 large green garlics. I removed the tough outer leaves and chopped them to add to the food processor. 

I then added 2 cups of nuts(1 per batch). I used mixed nuts but you could use any you prefer.

Next add for each batch 1/4 Cup Kombucha, 1/4 C apple cider vinegar and olive oil. 

One all pureed together I popped it in a jar to ferment. The taste at this stage reminded me of sour cream and onion dip so I definitely think the mix could be adapted for that. 

I’ll be fermenting for a week to taste but If your not wanting to ferment you could add Parmesan cheese to make a pesto to add to pasta ect. I’ll be using ours to add to sauces as the taste is a bit strong alone for young children but if your a garlic and spice lover it was work wonderfully on it’s own. 

Baking, cake, Uncategorized

Himmelsleiter – Ladder to Heaven

The children and I bake every second day. It is something we enjoy doing together that both nourishes us and saves us money on our grocery bills.

Last week a friend shared a recipe with me for the Austrian pastry Himmelsleiter which translates to Ladder to Heaven. She had baked it on the first of November as it is traditionally baked for All Saints Day.

Himmelsleiter is a sweet yeasted pastry with the dough preparation closely resembling cinnamon scroll dough. The finished baked pastry taste similar to a brioche and was delicious dipped in tea the following day.

This is certainly a recipe I will come back too as it was easy to prepare and delcious to eat so I am sharing it here for you and for my own reference.

Ladder To Heaven – Himmelsleiter

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons warm milk
  • (25 g) sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons  active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup cream
  •  (40 g) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg  at room temperature
  • 4 ½ tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 cups Plain  flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Mix milk and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let it activate until it forms a creamy layer on top of the water, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add whipping cream, butter, vanilla, egg ,sour cream . Stir well.
  3. Add half the flour and stir with a sturdy cooking spoon until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rest of the flour. Make sure you mixed in the flour thoroughly and that there is no flour sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough is quite sticky and almost impossible to knead by hand. Refrain from adding more flour or the Himmelsleiter will get firm.
  5. Work your dough with the spoon for 5 minutes; try to fold the edges towards the center, while turning the bowl clockwise.
  6. Let the dough rise, covered at warm room temperature until almost doubled in volume (about 1 to 1.5 hours) or put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
  7. Place the dough onto a floured surface, lightly flour the top, and roll dough into a rectangular shape with one side 15 inch long and 1/2 inch thick. Flip and flour the dough while rolling to make sure it doesn’t stick to the counter.
  8. Cut the dough into stripes (15-inch x 1/2 inch). Roll each stripe into an S-shape, leaving about 6 inch unrolled (straight) in the middle part.
  9. Place the rolled pastries one next to each other onto a baking sheet, leaving about 3/4 inch space between them (the should “grow together” a bit, when baking).
  10. Cover the dough with a tea towel (sprinkle a little flour on top if they are sticking and distribute the flour with a brush) and leave to prove until puffy, about 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
  11. If you like, you can brush the pastries with egg wash right before baking, which makes them shiny and darker. I usually don’t since I dust them with confectioners’ sugar anyway later.
  12. Bake them in the preheated oven at 350 °F until they get yellowish/golden, about 15 minutes. Don’t let them brown too much.
  13. Let them cool on the baking sheet. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!
News, Uncategorized

Spring 2017

Spring has arrived and we’ve got lots of little seedlings popping up in the greenhouse. I was feeling low on energy and almost wasn’t going to bother this year as being in this house now feels so temporary. We know we can stay until our lease ends next July but things are never certain while your renting so I’ve decided to keep lots in pots just to be on the same side.

Our chicks we hatched from the eggs of our murdered hens are growing well. It seems like there will be three roosters out of 10 chicks so I am pretty happy with those odds considering most of the eggs had been in our neighbors fridge. There was no justice for the parents. The council returned the dog to the neighbor who never apologised to us for the loss of our birds and three weeks later he was selling unregistered puppies at outrageous prices from the dogs. These poor hounds were never played with ,walked or exercised. I don’t blame the dogs they are Huskies and they were bored. I feel for them and it makes me angry that people keep animals as lawn ornaments and money generators.

The chicks have softened the blow of loosing our girls and our three remaining hens are very spoilt but we have been contemplating our future in the valley. We love the community here but work is unreliable, full time jobs required to get you a mortgage just don’t exist.  The are is fast gaining popularity as more and more people chase this lifestyle and being on the highway we have noticed the roads becoming busier.  Adding to all this is the fast rise of property prices so we see our dream of a house with a few acres in this area getting further and further out of reach.

Luckily we are never ones to give up and months ago I was hunting across opportunities that might help us take a step towards our Homesteading dreams when I came across Cultivate Farms (https://www.cultivatefarms.com/).

Cultivate Farms is a new initiative that matches young aspiring farmers with retiring farmers. When I found the website it was really new and had lots of glitches. It took me applying three times over a few months for our application to be registered and I only knew that the registration hadn’t worked because I had hopped onto the facebook page and saw they had advertised a 100 acre farm in Tasmania and were looking for interested parties. I commented on the photo and asked Sam to send me the details. When he did we realised our previous application had disappeared and I had to rewrite it for him to send to the owner.

Around the same time this happened I had a new friend add me on Facebook who was in a few of the same homesteading groups as me. I didn’t think much of it when she added me and as I often use social media to connect and chat with like minded individuals and some of my best friends I have met this way.

After a bit of back and forth I mentioned to Jody that we had applied for the cultivate farm opportunity and she admitted it was her farm and she had seen my comment on the post and was sussing us out. Call me naive but I was genuinely shocked! We had built a bit of a rapport and I really enjoyed chatting and sharing ideas with Jody. We decided to go up and have a look at the farm and see what we thought. The farm was beautiful in a part of North East Tasmania 1 hour from Launceston and 20 minutes to the beach at Bridport. The property had a farm house where Jody and her partner Geoff live and weatherboard cottage. There were great views and lots of shedding and it was a joy to meet all Jodies lovely animals. My heart sang when the Jersey cows came and licked my hand with their scratchy tongue and I was reminded of our old cow Kisses and what we had left behind but could possibly have again.

Jodys farm is a ex dairy property and was used as a small piggery as well so it is set up for all kinds of potential farming and homesteading pursuits. If you would like to see for yourself what it’s like she has her own blog – http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2014/

We said our goodbyes with a lot to think about and we have had months of thinking but have decided to take the chance.

It will be a 12 month rental arrangement initially and if we are all happy after that then we will slowly buy into the farm.

When we first agreed I was filled with panic “What have we committed too” “We will have to say goodbye to all our friends here” but once everything settled down we could see the true benefits of this opportunity. This isn’t just a chance to have a home and be settled it’s a chance to build a sustainable future for our children and with things so uncertain in the world there is a chance they won’t have the chance to buy a home themselves one day but if they can stay on the family farm and have a life then they have security.

I don’t know what the future holds but I am excited to find out.