Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Time and lack of it

My life just seems to turn into one big whirl of busy-ness sometimes! It's nearly Christmas and I'm really not ready for it, although I am ready for the 2 weeks away that we will be having over that time! Kim and I will be having some time off in Western Australia - can't wait to catch up with Kim's family from over there, but especially our daughter.....she wants me to spend some time with her in the kitchen as she wants to get her mojo back.

Has anyone been inspired by my Lucy's Kitchen Facebook page. I've been enjoying posting about our food, and if even one person gets some inspiration to cook something, whether it be something I've done, or just been motivated to cook something from scratch or plant something in a garden, then I've achieved what I set out to do. As I've said before, it's not hard to cook good food, it's all about prioritising time and buying good ingredients.

This afternoon I decided that I'd better make some time to spend in the garden and tidy it up or else I won't have a garden! The green panic grass was starting to take over and shade too much. A little bit of shade in this heat is good, but not the amount I've been getting!

We've been eating kale and other greens, the odd tomato and lots of herbs. My eggplant is not so good - it's always too bitter, even after salting it. My lettuce are really struggling in this heat, so yesterday I bought the first lettuce that I've bought in months! I'm just waiting for my Brazilian spinach, Ceylon spinach and a newly planted Egyptian spinach to get big enough to start eating. The Ceylon spinach got me through last summer as our go to lettuce for salads.

I've pulled all my garlic - I didn't weigh it, but I did get two lovely big plaits. I've planted and waiting to harvest - snake beans, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicums, rosellas. The rosellas I mainly want to make some tea, although if I get enough off my two plants to make a small batch of jam I'll be happy with that too!
This was the first one I did and about the second one was twice as big as this. This one is gone and I'm working my way through the next one.

Below are some shots of my tidier garden, however I've lost quite a few plants from last weeks heat!

This last photo shows my two surviving (out of 5) rosellas and my asparagus that I never managed to eat in time. I didn't have enough netting to go over the top, so I've just put it around some of the plants to try and stop the chooks.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Last weekend I spent a day doing a kitchen garden workshop with Kookaburra Organics. It was very well run and a small group so very personal and easy to ask questions etc. It has made me very enthusiastic to get my own garden organised. I've got lots in my garden, but I have to keep it covered to keep the chooks, turkeys and poddy goats out! It's not ideal on a few fronts - it looks terrible, the bees can't get to my plants, and I've only got some stuff covered. Asparagus, banana trees, chilli bushes etc are all uncovered and have been really suffering.

I planted up most of my veg back in June, although I planted the garlic way before that. In my garden at the moment - I'm picking - eggplant, silver beet, perpetual spinach, lettuce, shallots, , basil, parsley, chilli, capsicum (not many), the odd tomato, kale (curly and calvero nero), warrigal greens, celery (very small but I keep picking it), garlic tops at the moment, the bottoms are going to be a little while, kang kong (water spinach), a little bit of coriander, but it's mostly gone to seed now, turmeric - mostly dug, but still a few bits to dig when I want fresh stuff.

Kangkong, chilli and turmeric from the garden

Stir fried kangkong for dinner

What's not growing very well, is my asparagus and bananas thanks to the animals! I've got mulberries and mandarines in the chook yard. Limes are still coming on, but slowing down now. The lime tree is in flower and got baby limes on - it's a fantastic tree!

So this is my garden at the moment.

I wouldn't have anything in the garden if I didn't have the netting, but it's not pretty!

This kale is from last year. There's also basil, lettuce and the silver beet and spinach that the goats ate.

Eggplant in the back, some marigolds and tomatoes struggling.

A close up of my tomato (I don't have many on). I have some yellow cherries in another bed as well.

Lots of kale  and a wombok cabbage that has gone to seed. I grew some nice ones last year, but haven't had any luck this year.

My garlic section with some turmeric and another cabbage not quite gone to seed yet.

My fantastic lime tree.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Goaty Tale

We love to eat goat meat and whenever we visited Kim's brother we would always came back with an esky full of goat meat. He lives at Aramac and had a nice little herd of goats. Once we started the free range pork business we decided to offer goat meat as well, so that meant we became goat breeders with our own little goat herd. 

We've gradually built up numbers by keeping our own females and occasionally bringing in some live nannies from Aramac. In the meantime we ate the odd goat from our neighbour. No we aren't into goat stealing, Kim would help him kill one or two and we'd get some of the meat. This meat was much nicer than our own goat meat (my apologies to any customers reading this). For some reason that I am unaware of (although I am positive that's what he told us), we had thought his goats were Anglo Nubian, which is a duel purpose breed - meaning good for milk and meat. For the last twelve months or more we've been trying to get an Anglo Nubian billy. We drove all the way to Kingaroy once to pick up one but when we got there we discovered that they were another totally different breed, British Alpine, and when I googled them (at the farm) it stated that they were not suitable for the tropics.  We decided not to take them, but because we'd travelled so far he gave us a whether of very dubious age. We ended up eating him and he too was very tasty. 

So back on the trail of getting our hands on a billy. The next time we rang about one, the breeder bred Anglo Nubian and Kalahari Reds. She had one of the latter available and seeing as we desperately needed a bully we took him instead. All this while we kept asking our neighbour for one oh his billies. Finally just after we got onto another Anglo Nubian billy, our neighbour sold us a nanny with a billy kid. The Anglo Nubian we bought was a totally different looking animal to the neighbours. When I mentioned this to the neighbour he was quite emphatic that his breed were definitely Saanen! We have been looking for the wrong breed the whole time!

And now we have lost the little billy kid to some sort of predator. I don't think we are meant to have a Saanen.  The funny thing was that when we went to buy the goat that turned out to be a British alpine, it was the colour of it that made me double check the breed - Anglo Nubians happen to look more like a British alpines, and nothing like saanen!

Further to the story about our Saanen nanny that is kidless.....She's not terribly quiet and I would see her with her bulging udder and feel sorry for her, but I could never catch her to do anything about it. The other day I went out to the goat paddock and she had her head stuck in the fence. I grabbed a dish and milked her out. Everyday she gets her head stuck so I've been milking her out every day. Then I decided to give the milk to one of our poddies who hasn't been drinking the calf powdered milk and is a little bit sick looking. The little goat drank the goats milk straight away. Makes sense really. 

We have 8 poddy goats at the moment and I had thought about trying to see if the nanny will take one of the kids so maybe I should see if my sick little one will bond with her and her with it.

They are cute when they are like the above photo, but not so cute like the below one. I have also had to banish them from the house yard as they have stripped every plant they could reach and managed to get under my bird netting in the garden!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What's happening at my place

We've had rain recently (a lot of it) and since then it's been unseasonably warm. My asparagus thinks it's spring even though I'm sure it's going to get cold again. For the last couple of years I have not really been good to my asparagus bed and this year I had fully intended to cut it back and mulch it as soon as it got cold. However, I've only done one bed already so today I started to to tidy the second bed. I did run out of time, but I've weeded all the couch and the next job is to cut back the ferns, put on some compost and mulch hay.

My lime tree has been producing so many limes for a while now and there's still quite a few on the tree and it's flowering again. Just about every meal has lime included somehow, even if it's only in some soda water to drink!
Lately I don't bother to pick the limes until they start to colour. Makes it easier to see them in the tree.

We are eating some veg out of the garden too, although I did stock up at the markets this weekend just to make sure we have some variety and because my garden can't supply enough. One day........
I found a couple of capsicums amongst my chillies. I had two plants but I thought they were both chillies. Pleasant surprise.

I'm making pretty good bread lately (sourdough) and tonight I did a free form loaf and it looks pretty good! I use khorasan (kamut) flour, which is an old variety of wheat, a bit like spelt, but I think it makes a much nicer loaf than spelt. I use a rye starter, which is just about impossible to ruin and just about always comes up nice and bubbly.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lucy's Kitchen

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while, would know that I'm quite passionate about food. Especially made from scratch, home grown, healthy food - slow food! A while ago we had a backpacker staying with us who was into technology and he tried to convince me that I should video myself while cooking. He felt that I could show better then tell people how I cook. I do kind of agree with him, because I tend to make things up as I go along and I could explain what I'm doing as I do it. Often I'll have a plan in my head of what I'm going to cook, but change my mind half way through. Not sure if this would make for good viewing or not. But anyway, I'm not quite ready to go to the full on video concept, but I have decided to start a Facebook page focused on what I cook and eat, each day (or most days). I'm also planning on starting a YouTube channel too, so stay posted for that.

It's not hard to cook good healthy wholesome and tasty food, but you need to have a basic cooking ability, good ingredients and the confidence to give it a go. It also helps to have a bit of an understanding of flavours and what works and what doesn't. This can be learnt, although it does come more easily for some people than others.

I'm a pretty busy person, but I do prioritise food time. I make time to make real food - fermented vegetables, yoghurt and cheese, sourdough bread, kombucha and kefir, baked beans, etc. The essential thing to do with this, is to plan. You can't just wake up in the morning and decide to have baked beans for breakfast - you need to think about baked beans for breakfast 24 hours before you want to eat them. But with a little planning and cooking ahead, you can take a container of baked beans out of the freezer and have them for breakfast. It's about forming habits - taking meat out of the freezer, feeding the sourdough starter, making bone broth, bottling kombucha, growing herbs, growing vegetables.

So, if you would like to see what happens in my kitchen on an almost daily basis, please pop over to Facebook, find my page, like it and keep up-to-date with what I'm doing. If you want me to share recipes, please ask me. Sometimes I keep it brief, but I'm happy to share recipes when I can. Sometimes it's not a recipe, but a concept. Sometimes I just like to show that it's not so hard to cook a really nice meal, in a very short time, or it can take all day to cook a really nice meal! Just be warned, you won't see fancy photo's of staged food. I'm a cook, not a photographer (or a fancy cheffy type with my plating up either).

Hopefully that link works. If not search for it. Use the picture below as an example, so that you know you've got the right one (there's a few Lucy's Kitchens on Facebook). I am sometimes technologically challenged!

Lucy's Kitchen

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Who wants to be a farmer???

I've just written a post over on the Dawson Valley Free Range Blog about an exciting opportunity for a young person to be involved with our growing business. I won't re-write it all here, just pop over to Dawson Valley Free Range or our other internship website to find out more information.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Over the last couple of months I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with our lifestyle. I sometimes think that we just work so hard and seem to get no where! I had a little health scare last week and realised that my health is being affected by my stress levels. Last Sunday I decided to make some changes. Part of this decision was based on the fact that I bought a stack of vegetable seedlings - I was forced into spending some time in the garden or else I would've wasted my money. Well, it paid off! Not only did I get my garden weeded and every available space planted, I ended up being far more productive in the office.

Some plants survived the summer - this bed is a mix of old and new plantings.

The moral of this story is that I need to make time to do the things that I really enjoy doing and hopefully this will ensure that my stress levels don't get to being unmanageable. And if I'm more productive then it's a win/win all around.

So, a week later and having just spent a busy but relaxing and enjoyable weekend with our eldest son and his partner I am feeling great about life on the farm. I love farming and I really don't want to do anything else. I feel very lucky to have the lifestyle that we have, especially being able to send Benjamin off with eskies full of meat and milk. We made strawberry jam, killed and processed 6 roosters and 3 ducks, did some cattle work, managed to keep all the pigs feed and still relaxed and had family time.

Healthy farming is also about keeping the Farmer healthy! We need to keep our life in balance - all work is not good, and my goal now is to keep that balance.

Some of the roosters were a little old so we minced them - originally we planned to make sausages, but ran out of time.......I think minced chicken will be great!

The bones went into the stock pot to make a big batch of chicken bone broth. This will be handy this week, as Kim is coming down with a cold! 

The remaining chickens must have been a bit worried with the slaughter yesterday - they've gone from a couple of eggs a day to 10 today! 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Farm Butchering Day

We haven't killed a beast for ourselves for a long time. We usually have some left over from the markets so we don't really need to do it ourselves. However, we've had a dexter steer that we were given by some friends. They didn't know what to do with him and didn't want to eat him themselves, so they thought that we may be able to put him through the markets. Well.....he was quite a bit older than he looked and we weren't really sure how old, and to top it off he was cut proud. This is a term used when the castration wasn't successfully done and they are a kind of bull. We had no idea what he would taste like, so we decided to do him ourselves and if he was too tough we could just cut all up for dog food. And....Edmund wants to learn how to kill and cut up a beast, so we thought we'd do it.

After two weeks hanging in our coldroom - today was the day. We cooked up a bit of topside, which we use for steak, but most people don't! It was tasty and tender, so after a sigh of relief we got into it. have steak again! We never have that left over from the markets! This is the rib fillet and it's quite a small steak, obviously because he was a small animal.

As we were doing it ourselves, we could play around and try some different things.

Bone in Shoulder and Bone in Brisket. Meat cooked on the bone is so much tastier! We also kept one of the shin pieces as a whole piece with the bone in......think osso bucco uncut!

These Mini Roasts were Edmund's idea - one is garlic and herb and the other is Moroccan flavoured.

We did mince and sausages. 

To give an example of how small this fella was, a few weeks ago we helped cut up a bullock of Kim's brothers. We did 65kg of sausages. Today we did 15kg's of sausages. We like plain and simple, so we did herb, garlic and chilli and some of Brad's homemade wine.

I like to mix the seasonings into the meat before we mince. I add the liquid after we mince (in this case it was wine, but often it's water) and before we fill the skins.

I only learnt how to tie sausages a few weeks ago helping out west, so mine are a bit uneven.

Our tradition on butchering day is to have rib bones for lunch, usually this follows a breakfast of offal, but we had the liver and bacon, heart and curly gut two weeks ago when we killed the steer. Today we had topside steak and eggs for breakfast. The rib bones I cooked in the oven with some herbs and a bit of sauce over the top. We also had mince patties, which was the mince left in the mincer after we finished the sausages (you can't get all that out). So a very meat filled day......Vegie soup is what we are going to have for tea!

Oh and you may be wondering what curly gut is - it's what it sounds like, the intestines! Kim gives them a very good clean out and then we cut them into small bits and fry until very crispy(think pork crackling).

On a final note. I have just started a Facebook page called Lucy's Kitchen. If you like hearing about food and what I cook on a daily basis, you may like to follow it. Hopefully this link  will work, otherwise search for Lucy's Kitchen - there is a few of them! Mine has sausages as the background photo!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Early May

I can't  believe it's another month....the busier we get the less we seem to get done!

Edmund who works at home with us most times, is going away in June, so he keeps giving us weekends off. So like all good parents, we do as we are told. The down side of having time off of course, is that the jobs that you want to get done, don't. That means that all the things I want to do in my off time (ha ha that's a time!!) aren't being done, so the garden is still not planted up for the winter growing. Winter is our main season for growing - when I say winter I mean that short period of time when it's not HOT and that usually occurs sometime between May and August. It's been summer up until today! We had a low of 3 degrees this morning, although it did warm up to the mid 20's I think.

Anyway, I might buy some seedlings to plant out next week. I'm going into Rocky for a weekend off this weekend (did I mention how much I love Edmund!) I also need to plant out my garlic. I saved some garlic (200) cloves from Tom who grows garlic at Yeppoon and I'm hoping that I'll have more success with a local variety. I harvested my turmeric today, and was very dissappointed with how much I got. I cooked it and dried it and this is what I have. I'll freeze some of it as I found one year that it went moldy before I got to the end of it and I don't want that to happen.

A few weekends ago, we went camping. It was a lovely weekend spent with friends and family and fishing. Well we ended up with one feed of fish out of it, but the main thing was that it was relaxing and fun and just so good to get away. Did I mention how much I love Edmund!

We've also had another visit from Peter Andrews. I will post a bit more about that another time. Needless to say, it was interesting, informative and inspiring. The little bit of work we've done in our creek since he was here last, has worked really well and it's great to see how easy it is to halt erosion! 

Last weekend, which was another weekend off, thanks to Edmund, we went to Aramac. We visited Kim's brothers place to help him cut up a beast. He'd killed a steer a few weeks ago and had it hanging in a cold room. We haven't done our own meat for a while, but you just don't forget some things. A job like that is so much easier and fun when done with a few people - the time flies while you chat and catch up. This was us making sausage - we did 60kgs, so we had a mincer doing some as well as a sausage filler.

We enjoyed it so much we decided to kill a steer ourselves this week. We had a dexter steer that we weren't sure would be good enough to sell through the markets so we've now got him hanging in our coldroom for ourselves. I want to have a go at some different sausage varieties. I also want to borrow my brothers smoker and have a go at some salami. I will keep you posted!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

I love recipe books

This book was given to me by one of my great friends! I absolutely love recipe books and this one is one like I could write! Some bits maybe not, as they aren't really things I would eat, but most of it is! It's all doing it from scratch cooking and using up leftovers and what you have on hand. I love it because she talks about bone broth and ferments - two of my favourite things to make lately! But mostly it's just cooking simple but interesting real food! I haven't bought any of the 'I quit sugar" books, mainly because I haven't really quit sugar, but I've certainly cut back a lot. What I have done though, is just quit buying packaged food. This way you limit sugar, salt and all the other nasties.

I love this quote and it is exactly what is behind my food lifestyle choice! I've only done a few things out of the book so far, but she's inspired me and I've got my cooking mojo back, so I'm happy. The photo below is my fermented roasted garlic. I've fermented garlic before, but raw garlic, so it'll be interesting to see how this one tastes. The raw one is pretty good.

One thing Sarah encourages is doing a flow of cooking - just get in and do lots at once. While I was cooking some oven chips for lunch yesterday, I decided to roast the garlic at the same time as this, I made some seasoned salt. This wasn't one of her recipes, but I think she would approve:
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • ground pepper
  • chopped chili
  • chopped garlic
  • lemon rind
  • oregano 
  • rosemary
  • dulse flakes

Other things you can add or put in salt are dried mushrooms, dried tomatoes, celery,'s only limited by your imagination. I chop it all up fine and then put in the oven for about half an hour, so that all the uncooked bits dry and and stop the salt from going moldy.

I'm currently making some tomato sauce with my tomatoes left over from easter weekend. I've just done a quick pasta sauce in the thermomix, which I'll put into the freezer. Pulled pork with homemade tortillas last night for tea. I've baked a couple of cakes and I tonight I think I'll just make soup! This book is currently my favourite recipe book.......what's yours?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Locavore Party

The party of the year was two weeks ago and it was fantastic! Just about all of the food was grown locally. One of my main reasons for having a locavore theme was because I am a passionate supporter of a local food industry and wanted to encourage other people to think about it too.  Benefits of eating locally produced food and supporting local manufacturers, is that you support local businesses, which are usually small business or family businesses. Food grown locally is eaten fresh and in season so has to be better for you, it certainly tastes better than well travelled food!

 One of my friends brought some cheeses and other nibbles from the Sunshine Coast, the meat was all ours and the veggies were either bought from the markets or home grown. Many guests brought either home made things or other fresh produce. Coffee from the Capricorn coast, beer from Baffle Creek and Bundaberg, wine that had been bought at a cellar door when travelling, as well as some home made wine and spirits.

We had a pig on a spit as the main meat, as well as a roast beef and a roast turkey. My sister picked up some local (Bribie Island) prawns. 

Capricorn coast grown vegetables.

We had cheeses made by myself and my two brothers, Chicken liver pate, homemade crackers, pesto dip, capsicum jam, quince paste (homemade by a Western Australian guest). Vegetable sides consisted of white sweet potato bake, stir fried greens, sweet potato spinach bacon and feta salad, ratatouille and a big tossed salad. 

Desserts were delicious! Cheesecake made with home made quark, macadamia flourless cake, pavlova, fruit salad and my home milked and separated cream.

We ate a lot of food over the weekend and mostly local or home made. We actually had about 30 people camping over for the weekend so the meals were a challenge, but no one went hungry. I think there were about 70 at the party itself. It was a weekend filled with family, fun, food and love! It was the party I wanted to have and I feel honoured to have such great people in my life. People travelled from Western Australia, NSW and southern and central Queensland.