Thursday, 29 September 2011

growing veggies and keeping chickens

to those of you who have been reading the blog for a while now, it won't come as much of a surprise to you that i have a keen interest in self sufficient living. i love things from scratch, rather than quick convenience - and i've chosen a lifestyle that nurtures that passion. it allows me time to make my own butter, grow my own veggies, sprout my own alfalfa, and spy out local fresh produce at the market every week.

now that my time in Australia has come to an end, i've had time to reflect on my experience there, and some of the things i learnt.

it was a sincere joy to hang out with a young family in Armidale, who grew muc of their own food and kept their own chickens for eggs. they ate vegetarian food, had no dishwasher or microwave, lit a woodburner each day, homeschooled their kids and they even had a ceramic countertop water filter. they've spent years living this way, and so they've come to know how best to do it - it's no longer a dream way of life, it's reality.

their veggie patch was tended constantly each day, and we ate from it at most evening meals. it was winter, but in Australia that is quite a flexible term, as they were still growing chilis and tomatoes indoors, as well as herbs and leaves outside.  

chopping your own firewood is a pretty tough but rewarding thing... quite different from switching on the electric or gas central heating.

the chickens were very happy little birds, laying quite frequently, and keeping the family pretty well stocked in eggs. i'd love to own my own chickens one day, when i've got more garden space out back (or the ideal 1 acre plot - a girl can dream!)

so, we already do quite a lot of eco-friendly food shopping, growing and cooking. and i think doing a little more each day is the way forward - simply spending more time at the allotment and picking wild produce, buying and cooking in bulk, eating less meat and dairy, are all choices that we make every day. and it's often cheaper as well to do things the healthy, eco way... or it should be.

i guess for most people it's the time issue that gets in the way - it is after all far more convenient and quick to go down to the store and buy apple puree instead of picking, peeling, coring, dicing and boiling your own isn't it?

so, i wonder, what things do you do to be more sustainable and eco friendly?

do you use chemical free dishwashing solution? do you dry your clothes outside rather than in the tumble dryer? have you picked any wild produce this year? do you grow your own herbs or sprouts?

currently reading: Dr Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes - very interesting! not totally sure i agree with all he says, but he advocates a low fat vegan diet, which is brilliant! for my regular readers, you know i'm currently sort of low carb primal, sorta. well, i might just try veganism, and see how my diabetes copes... what do you think?

Friday, 16 September 2011

chorizo baked eggs and great cappucino

hey everyone! well, with only a few precious days down under, i'm trying to squeeze in as many experiences as i can, as well as getting out into the sunshine as much as possible - tomorrow i'm going to a gig in katoomba with a few friends, and then i'll be learning the art of excellent meringues on sunday with a lovely lady called Betty.

i've been treated out a few times since i've been here, and one particular occasion, that i've been waiting to share with you is the delicious Neram cafe experience - which was just so wonderful!

my great aunt and her daughter took me out to this pretty, wholefoods cafe in an art gallery in Armidale for breakfast - my favorite meal of the day. needless to say, i dressed up for the occasion - it's not everyday you get to eat really expensive food in the morning, is it? and it was so worth it.

spicy baked eggs with tomato, chorizo and onion, and a side of fresh toasted sourdough. so so good!

afterwards, i had my first proper coffee... now, i've never liked coffee. i always thought it was bitter and unpleasurable. but, in Armidale, everyone was into coffee in a big way - and i was so intrigued! i figured it was worth trying out, just in case it tasted different, and goodness gracious, it was good!

it turns out that all i've ever drunk is bad quality, burnt or off coffee. freshly ground coffee with perfect temperature frothy milk on top is amazing! granted i won't be drinking it all the time, given that it keeps me awake (this is a new and rather unpleasant discovery) but it's so nice to know that i actually do like it when it's good :)

me, my great aunt and her daughter - waiting patiently for our delicious brekkies. they both had a full fry-up with all the trimmings...

so, i hope you are all well and happy! i've still got so much to share with you guys - i guess that's what happens when you've got limited internet, and i apologise for the delay in posting these last few months. i've got so many exciting plans for things to do when i return to the uk, in terms of the blog, so stay tuned!

currently reading: the moon seems upside down edited by jim mitchell - it's a beautiful collection of love letters, written between two australians during the second world war. i love love stories.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

a day out in mosman with scandi foodie

g'day everyone! the sun decided not to shine this morning, most unusual, instead it tipped it down with rain... perhaps it's getting me ready for going back to England? no matter, i got on with some very serious work, before i head out this afternoon for coffee with a friend in the local organic cafe.

last friday i had the wonderful opportunity to meet up with Maria of Scandi Foodie - if you haven't checked out her blog, then do make sure to have a look, it's full of beautiful and delicious Scandinavian inspired recipes and baked goodies :)

i've been following her blog for ages, and pretty much as soon as i knew i'd be visiting Sydney, i got in touch and we arranged to meet up in Mosman. i had a really fantastic afternoon - we talked about the amazingness of fresh yeast, my new book (which she loves, yey!) and the importance of enjoying your life to the full! she's such an encouraging woman, and so interesting too :)

here's a few photos of our day together:

we walked along the beachfront... very picturesque.

i went into David Jones to check out the spring floral display - it was incredibly beautiful, and i'm so glad i got to see it  :)

♥ i came into Mosman on the ferry, before catching bus 230 up to Spit Junction for out meeting - the area is outstanding, with gorgeous houses and lots of boats. in some way it feels very european. 

we stopped off at a cafe for coffee and a little lunch, there were so many places to choose from, i'm glad i was with a local who knew where was the best!

i got the mediteranean salad, which was no longer on the menu, but they were happy to do it on request, as Maria has so enjoyed it before. falafel, tahini, aubergine, sundried tomatoes and very crisp leaves. it was massive, and downright delicious!

on our way back from the beach, we stopped in at a few tasty places to check out the local produce - you can always find amazing food in cities. i picked up some date and walnut cake for my train home in The Cheese Shop, and then went to foodie heaven, aka Fourth Village Providore. it blew my mind - they have an incredible cheese room, and deli counter, and a little cafe/restaurant too, as well as loads of european goods. i was so tempted to buy everything, but restrained myself as best i could!

it was so wonderful to meet up with her, and i'm so glad we got the chance! i look forward to more blogger meetups in the future :)

currently loving: walden by henry david thoreau - i just can't get enough of his philosophy, it's mindblowing.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

coconut lamingtons and bunless burgers

so, by now you probably all know via Twitter that i met up with Scandi Foodie in Mosman Bay last week!! it was an awesome afternoon - she's such a wonderful lady, and it was a pleasure to meet her. i haven't been able to upload photos yet due to travelling up north again, but they are on the way...

i'm currently exploring the coastline between Sydney and Port Macquarie with a friend of mine called Barbara, who is an absolute legend of a lady at 73 years old :)

anyway, onto some of my latest eats and treats:

homemade meatballs with basil crumbed green beans and roasted red pepper - most delicious. it was a very welcome lunch for my cousin's student border... he had the biggest smile on his face!

my first proper lamington. no jam - no siree! this was from Moxon's Bakery in Armidale, as light as a feather and perfectly coconutty. i shared it with my new friend Sara, who enjoyed hers heaps too.

a deconstructed burger. if you ever go to Neville's in Armidale and ask for a Works Burger, but with no bun, this is what happens!! it was truly yum, and i'm so grateful to the fab chef who was kind enough to do this for me.

well, that's all folks! another installment from my adventures down under... stay tuned :)

currently loving: writing to my mum - we've been writing proper handwritten letters each week whilst i've been over here. it's as lovely to write and send them as it is to find one in the letterbox!