Saturday, February 25, 2012

This can’t be

the last week of summer in Tasmania – far south Tasmania. It’s 37.7 degrees outside and 45 degrees in the hothouse. And boy is it HOT! The solar hot water temperature is 62.5 and it’s very quiet outside for a Saturday afternoon. The skate park is deserted and I imagine that they’re all at the beach down the road.

The chooks are in the shade under the lemon tree but the hot north wind is making it very uncomfortable for them. They haven’t realised that it is better under the large, old oak tree – yet.

P1010075 This is actually a photo taken in spring, as the leaves were just coming out. It’s a lot denser and darker under there now!

M and Terry the dog are both having a siesta in the lounge and I only venture out to check on the chooks occasionally. The only ones who don’t seem too affected by the heat are the goldfish in the pond. It does look very inviting.

I ensured that I was out early to water what I could but was mindful of keeping it to a minimum as the fire service reminded us this morning. Even so, the zucchini leaves and some of the tomatoes and snow peas are looking very sad. I’m kicking myself as I put some teeny weeny brassica seedlings in a couple of days ago and I think the rainbow chard has keeled over with a vengeance. The cauli’s and broccoli might, just might, hang in there.

The hot north wind is the worry. M was out early also this morning, checking the fire pump, just in case. So far so good down our way but I’ve read that there is a vegetation fire in the Derwent valley already. Our local fire volunteers are always very edgy with a day like this and who could blame them? They’re the real heroes in my eyes.

So there’ll be salad and steak cooked on the gas barbecue for dinner tonight and I think today might just be right for a cool and icy gin and tonic this evening. (we’ve been rationing ourselves due to lack of resources). I do have to make some brownies for a birthday gift for a friend tomorrow so at some stage the oven has to go on, sigh. I would imagine that for the second time in three years we might even turn the reverse cycle heat pump on tomorrow – if we can remember how! Because we’re expecting the highly unusual same sort of weather tomorrow too.

Is it safe to eat ice cream that has been in the freezer for well over twelve months? I’ll let you know as I think a bowl of cool ice cream might be right…….


Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Some decisions are easy to make and some take a bit of time to mull over. Sometimes I consult with family and friends before I make the final call. But most times I   have made up my mind already and just want confirmation that I’m not going down the wrong track.

Decisions start for me as soon as I get up in the morning and wander out to the garden to choose which fruit I will have on my cereal. This summer has been wonderful with lots of luscious strawberries, blueberries, peaches and plums. It hasn’t been the best year for plums, quantity wise, but the taste has been just wonderful. This time last year we had given away kilo’s of plums and I had nearly thirty kilo’s frozen for the coming year. (that was very lucky due to the lack of bananas for most of 2011). So far, this year, I have only seven kilo’s of the large black plums frozen. I have made eight pots of jam too and the prune plums have yet to fully ripen but I know that we are well down this year. That’s okay as I think that plums do produce better every other year.

  purpleplum1                                   plumjam

We only have one, fairly small blueberry bush and this was the first year we had berries to try. Last year the birds ate the few that were produced. This year my strawberries and blueberry bush were under netting and safe from the greedy birds! There seems to be so many more birds around this year and they certainly have a feast from our yard. Besides the plums, peaches and apples, they help themselves to the chook food too. Pretty soon they’ll be too fat to fly!

But I digress. As my job around here is “homemaker” the next decision is what to take from the freezer for dinner that night. I try not to have set nights for certain meals as I think that would be a bit too boring for us. So, if I choose a red meat for tonight it will be fish or vegetarian the next night. The accompanying vegetables are decided by what’s in the garden. We’re eating tons of salad at the moment, the rocket is escaping from the raised bed; snow peas are waving in the breeze; radishes popping up left right and centre; cucumbers are fattening up rapidly and tomatoes are blushing in the sunshine. I’m waiting on the eggplants (what’s new) and I’ve just discovered four rockmelons in the grow house, yipee. Zucchini, kale, button squash and beans round everything out.

It would seem that most of my decisions revolve around food, and I suppose that they do, as that’s my contribution to this household. I don’t go out to work anymore so I have no cash to bring in. I provide the fruit and veggies; I keep chickens so that we can have eggs; I make all our sourdough bread, biscuits and cakes; I make M his morning yoghurt every week and have been known to make cheese in the distant past.

cast iron sourdough





This is important for me to be able to do this, as I went out to work for money since I was sixteen and I have always paid my own way, even when things were really, really tough as a single parent with two daughters. It hasn’t been easy making this adjustment, but I think that I finally have accepted that what I do IS important.  Especially now when M is finding it hard to sell his hothouses. So at the moment cash is very limited and we’re slowly working through our savings because Centrelink and all it’s intrusive forms is just too hard to contemplate.  But, having said that, we do need to see about health care cards. M requires medication every day for his blood pressure and I need it every day for pain. The prescriptions and doctor’s appointments are costing us quite a lot and with a health care card it would be much, much better. So the big decision was “do we ask for help?” The final answer is yes, for the moment.

But, if you do know anybody who would love one of these beautiful little hothouses


is where you’ll find all the information you need. we’d love to hear from you – really!!!!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yeehaw – It’s zucchini time…..

I only planted one zucchini this year. I’ve learned my lesson and it was a risk I was prepared to take that the one plant might not grow. Well it did, a lot.

Now I’m collecting zucchinis’ every day and filling up the fridge. I have given away as many as I can but it was time to tackle the surplus. Yesterday was quite cool and wet so I stayed in the kitchen and this is what I did….


I had bought the mandolin last year and not really used it as I have never had one before. I’m not sure that I’m using it correctly yet, as the instructions were pretty slack and I’ve never seen one in action before. However, it did slice the zucchinis’ to a uniform size and I planned to dry them all in the trusty dehydrator. See below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         There are six trays all full of zucchini slices there and I decided to put the machine in the back shed so I wouldn’t make the kitchen steamy and I wouldn’t have to listen to the noise. I kept a regular check on it throughout the 5-6 hours that it was running and all was fine. It was still slightly strange though, because I’ve previously dried apples and tomatoes in the machine and the aromas during the process are wonderful. There are no aromas whatsoever with drying zucchini!

And what to do with all the sliced zucchini that I had prepared that wouldn’t fit into the dehydrator. Onto the interweb and a recipe for zucchini relish that was easy and relatively fast.



Naturally, I didn’t have all the stated ingredients but with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, I think it worked out pretty well.


We will have a taste test in about one week. The jar holds the six trays of dried zucchini slices. So I guess I’ll be doing some more later.

It’s been an exciting time in the garden. I have my second batch of rocket powering away, tomatoes (of course), radishes, snow peas, sugar snap peas, cucumber, potatoes,  red onions (only a few), scarlet runner beans (overtaking the zucchini in kilo’s) and button squash.

Still to come are eggplants and hopefully the teeny tiny rock melons in the grow house will get bigger and bigger over time.

We’re having a lot of trouble with birds this year and they started with one of the plum trees and virtually got the lot. This tree only does it’s thing brilliantly every other year and this is not one of those years!. But when the birds started on the little peach tree, I was out there with my basket filling it up. I wouldn’t mind as much if the birds finished the plum but it’s a peck here and a peck there and with the holes in the fruit the ants then go in and have a party!

It was the same with one of the pear trees. M went out and picked them all in one go as they were still quite firm but very sweet. He then proceeded to peel them all sitting in the sun outside. I relented and helped but instead of preparing them for stewing and freezing, he made the whole lot into a pear sauce. I’m not sure what to do with pear sauce but I’m sure I’ll think of something soon.

And then the freezer died. On Australia Day. When all the shops are closed. We spoke to our electrician friend to see if it was fixable but no, it was well and truly dead. An evening of research re economic usage and star ratings and it was up to Hobart the next day to buy a new, slightly larger one. We were able to get one which has six stars (in the old rating system) and it’s slimline too, so it doesn’t take anymore room than the old tuckerbox we used to have. I worked it out that this old Westinghouse Tuckerbox freezer had been moved to six different houses and interstate once over the twenty years period that I owned it. And it had never broken down – not once. I bet all the new appliances these days won’t last that long.

So, it’s back to the garden and/or kitchen for me. Time is precious and at this time of the year there is soooooo much to do!