Sunday, July 19, 2015

Last day of our holiday

All good things come to an end! Today has been an absolutely lovely day. The weather, while still abit cool is so much nicer than it's been all week, the sun is shining and that cold wind has disappeared. I'm sitting out on the deck enjoying the sun and the bird song.  There are quite a few different varieties and the odd crow can be heard as well. It's lovely, peaceful and relaxed.This will all change tomorrow. Will get an early start so that we can get through Brisbane before peak hour.

I couldn't live in the city, but I do love to visit it. We haven't eaten out very often, but we've had seafood a few times - prawns, bugs, oysters and fish.  We love seafood and don't get to have it very often and I'm happier to spend the money on good food to prepare at home rather than spend a lot more and get less. And sometimes I just think that I could do better cooking it myself than going out!

We discovered an artisanal baker not far from here, which makes the best sourdough I have ever tasted. My goal now is to make bread as good as that! Although I must admit that I don't normally eat much bread and the first loaf we bought we ate in a day......the second loaf lasted about half a day longer!

I found a little health shop a few days ago so stocked up on a few groceries that I can't get in Baralaba.  I also bought a neoflam saucepan.  I've been looking at these for some time but wasn't quite sure. They have a non stick coating but apparently are all good. I love my cast iron fry pans, but some of my stainless pots are starting to die.   Bought them when I first got married so thought I might upgrade slowly. The neoflam pot is also extremely light so I'm not too sure how it will go. Has anyone else tried them?

Anyway, we will travel home tomorrow and it'll be straight into work mode. We couldn't have gotten away without the help from our boys, who have been doing a great job managing everything, with the able assistance of some great backpackers.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Leaky weirs

So, finally I get to show and tell....... we have Peter Andrews standing in the Creek and looking up and down - he sees stuff that we don't!

No. 1 Weir: We started at a road crossing and this is just above where we are starting to see some erosion happening. We laid a large hollow log across the bed of the creek and then proceeded to fill it with sand - lucky it wasn't me on the end of the shovel, or it would have taken longer!

We then filled it in and under with smaller logs and drove in some wooden stakes on the bottom side of the log, with the it angled against the current, to anchor the log. We then laid some berry bush across and layered it with sand to hold it down.

We will get some rocks to place at the back (downside) to help hold the log. Peter says that we need to get grass growing on these straight away, so this one we planted para grass at the base, as there was a small puddle of water already there. He suggested Kikuyu for this type of thing, or if you are lucky enough to have them, Willow trees are best. Use these as the stakes as they should grow. Or just have some seedlings to plant in the pile.

No. 2 Weir: there was a log already in position, so we just put in another to form a V shape. This one we will still have to finish - we'll put sand and berry bush again on the tip of the V and some rocks.

No. 3 Weir: standing at No 2, we looked down the creek to see where the next one should be. To do this you look to see where the grass level changes. And the amazing thing is, when you walk to that spot (and No. 4 was the same) there just happens to be an old tree across the creek. Mother Nature is already trying to heal it, so we are just giving it a helping hand!the log below the white one was there originally.

We just kept laying logs across the creek and where they had a fork, we would place the fork into the standing tree to jam it in. These logs were found in the very nearby vicinity.

The next weir was just on the corner that you can see above.

Weir 4 we did much the same as the previous ones, logs across and anchored against the tree that was conveniently next to the creek and the one in the creek.

We used wire quite a bit in the building process, either to tie logs together like above, or to tie them to the living tree that happened to be handy.

Peter did suggest that with all our weirs and other works, the secret is to get grass growing on them. None of them were actually higher than the bank, just as high. The idea is to slow the water down and make it spread out into the bank. If we can get the dirt or sand to fill in around the logs and then get grass, and he suggested kikuyu, to grow, that will help hold it all together. 

I do have to confess, that we haven't actually finished them all off yet. We will before it rains....and then I'll take some final photos, as well as some after photos when it does rain.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


We are having a few days off - this time house sitting on the Gold Coast! We do have some fabulous friends!

The view from our back/side deck.

It's not all holiday unfortunately, we are trying to do some budgets and planning as well, we just don't seem to get that sort of thing done at home. There is just too many distractions and interruptions. So we work half the day and then relax the other half. I thought I'd catch up on some blogging, because I got very far behind what I wanted to do, but haven't really got around to it until now. Our internet was so slow at home for the last two weeks, it was just too frustrating to try and blog.

Afternoon tea on our first afternoon.

My own Farmhouse Cheddar and our salami, with some olives and olive paste that I picked up in downtown Currumbin. The olives do come from Greece - I justified my purchase by saying that I'm supporting the Greek Economy.

We went for a drive over the hill into NSW yesterday and unfortunately just missed a farmers market, but did pick up a few vegies on the way back - an organic vegie stall on the side of the road.

Dinner last night was Duck Confit with Vegetable stew. I have had the duck confit in my fridge for god knows how long! I cooked it up ages ago and cryvacced it in it's own fat. It was so perfectly alright, I was amazed. (I was a little concerned about giving myself food poisoning, but fortunately that didn't happen).

Tonight I'm going to bake a whole whiting and some fish wings, and we'll have an entree of fresh prawns and oysters. I decided to do the fish wings (because they are yummy) mainly to use bits that don't always get eaten. We as consumers need to consider the whole animal when we eat - hence a whole fish  and the wings to bake. I'll bake these in ginger, garlic and lemon. I don't have a lot of condiments here, so I'll let the produce speak for itself!

Life is too short for bad food!!

Monday, July 6, 2015

French Farewell

Our two lovely french girls are leaving tomorrow, so tonight is a little sad! We get very attached to our backpacker helpers and it's always hard when they leave. Marie and Louise-Marie have been with us for 3 months. Most of our backpackers stay the three months and the majority enjoy the time and the experience. It's a win/win, as we get to enjoy the company of some great young people, and they get to learn about the Aussie way of life and also a little about living a sustainable lifestyle.

These two girls both received parcels from home while they were with us and these included some things that we had tonight as part of a farewell dinner. Foie Gras, rillette, champagne and some red wine. I was very unsure about the Foie Gras, as I really don't like the way it is produced. I was so prepared not to like it! But....I was creamy and soft (and firm at the same time) and just the faintest of liver taste. Marie made ginger bread and Florine (another French backpacker) made some onion jam, which is one way to eat it. We had three types of rillette - sardine, prawn and tuna. All were quite good (although I think I do prefer pork rillette). I made a loaf of garlic herb bread, which I cooked in the camp oven. I had promised a camp oven meal, but it never happened! The bread was great with the rillette.

I cooked a good old Aussie stew for main course (goat, which isn't typical, but nicer than lamb!).

The girls did desert, but couldn't decide what to do, so Laura (English backpacker) made a cheese cake and Marie made chocolate brownie. I'm saving the brownie for tomorrow, because one desert is enough for me!!(everyone else had a bit of both AND icecream!) The cheesecake was delicious, especially with some local Yeppoon strawberries.

Our "family" will be less two tomorrow, but we still have four helpers, so all's good! Edmund took this photo, so he's not in it, but we have Maitland at home as well, so it's a full house!

I haven't been posting very often, as we have used all our download (a week ago) and we still have a week to go before it resets. It's taken me nearly an hour to do this post! Sometimes it's frustrating living in the bush and only being able to get a maximum of 25 gig!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Tied to the kitchen

The last few days we have had extra people so life has been revolving around the kitchen and preparing meals! We had 4 backpackers and then two more came Sunday (an accidental overlap!) and also on Sunday a Vet Student turned up to do a weeks work experience here, as well as a mate of Maitland's from the Sunny Coast. So.....12 people at present.

I have great help with food prep, but it does take some organising to make sure it all happens. How do you keep 12 working people well fed?

Breakfast is usually a cooked one - eggs and leftovers or eggs and salami, or scrambled eggs, or eggs! Fortunately the chooks are laying very well at the moment.

Morning teas are usually toast or if someone has baked biscuits or cake, we have that.

Lunches - I like to alternate soup and salad lunches. My soup is usually made up of some of my bone broth and whatever vegetables that are in the fridge and need using up. I also throw in whatever cooked vegetables are left over. One soup this week, was three different soup leftovers that were combined to make one soup. Delicious! Nana would be so proud of me! Salad lunch - we have cold meat, either corn beef, pickled pork, salami, ham or left over roast. A salad made up of fresh lettuce from the garden, tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum - just the usual suspects. We've been picking up some lovely cheap avocados from a roadside stall and of course my feta cheese. I've been making lots of it over the last week and as usual it is proving very popular amongst the backpackers.
Soup of the Day today is ham and vegetable soup.

Dinner......This week we've had BBQ, Slow Roasted pork (was supposed to be pulled pork tortillas, but we got a bit busy and just had it with vegetables), Edmund's spaghetti bolognaise and goat curry. Tonight's dinner is going to be slow roasted shoulder of goat - roasted with lime, rosemary and garlic. Served with roast vegies.

We do eat a lot of bread here, and the bread machine goes every day. I try to stick to my sour dough bread, but the backpackers all love bread and especially the home made stuff. I've made three batches of feta this week and 3 litres of yoghurt. We cooked up a batch of tomato sauce with tomatoes from the markets and also some star fruit jam. I picked up the star fruit from the roadside stall and while I'm not over fussed on the fruit itself, it makes lovely jam. One of my lovely customers from 1770 made some for me and so I've made a few batches now as it's quick and easy to do in the thermomix with a small amount of fruit. I put a vanilla bean and the zest and juice of a lime to give it a little extra oomph!!! Yum! Happy to post the recipe if anyone wants it.