Sunday, February 27, 2011

and Yesterday, I experienced Slow Food

recently, I joined the Slow Food Convivium in the Blue Mountains. the muffin workshop was part of that as was the day known as 'Pedal to Providores' that I attended yesterday.

just before I left, Joe snapped a photo of me... of course, I hate it. the double chin et al. . (oh my, why on earth did I put this photo on this post? why? why? why? - but this is me. slow. simple. simply me)

The idea was to gather produce from your own garden and I did: potimarron, cucumbers, mini capsicums, basil, eggs and tomatoes from the aforementioned self seeded tomatoes [cannot believe how many I have gathered from these plants. enough to just about open a market stall!]

then 10 of us met [from all different walks of life - even Walt, an american Navy Officer who is on holiday here at the moment] at the CO-OP in Katoomba with our chef, Andrew and hostess Anne.. and worked out a menu.. the other idea was to Pedal to all the local providores to buy goods and cook.. but some of us chose to walk. and what a walk it was.. 7 klms or there abouts..

the next stop was the Community Gardens - where we gathered herbs and foraged for weeds.. dock being the most sought after.

then onto Carrington Cellars to buy buffalo mozzarella & cream {this is Anne, our hostess - a woman, passionate about Slow Living.}

then a few stops at Hominy Bakery for artisan bread, Vinnies for some vintage aprons and then onto CloudLands - Anne's Home where we created lunch - with Andrew.

my first job was to strip the leaves from the Vietnamese Mint - which was gathered at the community gardens.

and that mint was used in the making of Rice Paper rolls along with vermicelli, carrot, smoked tofu & the mint. served with dipping sauce.

Andrew, roasted my pumpkin in garlic, coriander and cumin and served it with my basil.

He made soup from Jerusalem artichokes that were gathered from Anne's garden - served with cream and a tiny drop of truffle oil.. and bread.

eggs for a frittata, tomatoes served with basil & the buffalo cheese, a salad with cream, garlic and cucumber

a delicious lunch with people sharing a common interest.. ending with a delicious dessert of apple & walnut crumble - [apples gathered at the community gardens].

ending with me coming home, even more enthused about getting vegetables growing, tips on how to look after my chickens..and other important things.. that will help heal the planet. it all begins with me & the ripple effect that is created... know what i mean?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

yesterday I made muffins

learning a few tricks of the trade. a few little hints. inspired to cook again!

[with the Blue Mountains Slow food group - at Jemby Rinjah Eco Lodge..]

the beginnings of the fruit muffins

Our teacher was Shahida - a funny man. nothing like the 'famous' chefs we hear about.. he was friendly and simple.

once you add the wet to the dry ingredients together, you must work fast - to get them into the oven. mix from outside to middle - with a stainless steel spoon rather than a wooden spoon [which tends to mash the ingredients instead of mixing them] *note to self: buy stainless steel mixing bowl, whisk and large spoon

he suggested using a large stainless steel bowl & to whisk the wet ingredients, quickly with a large whisk. by hand.

a lovely dropping consistency

fill the pans near to the top

while waiting for the muffins to cook - Shahida showed us a few tools of his trade.

while those fruit muffins were in the oven, he took us to his kitchen garden to gather chives for the savoury ones.. I was in my element.

are they ready?

the savoury muffins - bacon, cheese and chives.. oh and Parmesan on top. don't forget that! ~ these go well with pumpkin soup ~ the ideas flew quickly ~ macadamia and honey muffins ~ spinach and walnut.. endless combinations. be creative. experiment.

the joy about muffins is they are pretty much fool proof.

a fun afternoon where i learned that coriander seed goes well with tropical fruits, that dates and orange peel are a nice combination in muffins, to put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to keep moisture in the muffins during cooking time. that creating food from scratch is part of the slow food movement. ...

has been good
for me

the past week, I have been in the doldrums - visited by melancholy again... quiet time for me...many life changes which I am grappling with. finding my footing once again. panicking trying to plan my life then realizing that I can only live in the present moment. not the past, nor the future. but here as I am. once I knew who I was. a mother.. now my children fly the coop and I am in life change again... so here we are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Joy for this week

is there any thing more joyful than this? watching it, brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes.

my grandson Harry [not quite 3], helping his brother Charlie [18mths old] to eat his breakfast...
[click the arrows in the right hand corner to make full screen and turn on the sound.. you will hear a sound of Bell Birds.. a native small bird of Australia.. only found in pockets of certain areas. we are blessed to have them near us]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lammas Love ~ St Valentines Day with a difference

the plan was to have a picnic with friends Joe & I had planned to take a picnic to Leura, a walk to Olympian Rock - a favourite bush walk of ours and sit eating our magickal picnic overlooking some of the most stunning scenery in the world..[I had visions of setting a lovely table complete with vintage tablecloth, candles and flowers - real plates and glasses.. a simple dinner of marinated chicken, salad from my garden and for a treat, one of my little homemade bliss balls].. but of course, Mother Nature had other plans.. she decided to rain on our parade.... which leads us to plan B.

buy takeaway Thai,

run to a shelter at Echo Point and sit eating our picnic in the rain..

sharing our meal with little sparrows..[that is what harvest is all about, is it not?

& sometimes being lucky enough to glimpse a view as the mists parted.. that was ok.. fine by me.. being in the presence of the ancestors in the mist.. lovely.

oh and yesterday, I made a corn dollie. my very first ever. I had bought some organic corn cobs and had one for lunch... keeping the husks for my planned dolly.. - creating the dolly took me back to my childhood.. growing up in a farming district where corn was often in abundance.. sitting with my dad, eating freshly picked corn dripping with butter and lashings, lashings of salt.

She is on my altar.. I am still yet to learn just exactly what I am supposed to do with this little corn dolly..not quite sure what the ancestors did with theirs either.. but it was fun creating her!

I have been feasting on strawberries too.. lots of them from the farmers market.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

continuing on through the season... my way

if you live near a farming region, attend a harvest festival...
the best I could do was

local farmers, market gardeners, bread artisans and others.. sell their produce... all coming from within our district.. or nearby.. therefore contributing to the slow food movement.. and helping our carbon footprint..

herbs and vegetable seedlings were popular

Market gardeners sold their produce.. getting up early this morning to come to market..

duck meat, duck fat and then onto artisan bread..

they sold out of my first choice [spelt and pumpkin bread], so I settled for an organic spelt and linseed. bake bread and give it to Mother Earth with a prayer of gratitude & when I break this bread tomorrow.. I will give a prayer of gratitude..

there were cheesemakers.. blessed be those cheesemakers...

& You could make your own muesli

to market to market to buy a fat pig
he could not resist, a bacon and egg roll

the harvest continues here at Villa Maria...
with cucumbers, tomatoes, basil & potatoes..

and Joe harvested 3 pumpkins today.. these three are potimarrons.. miniature pumpkins with flesh that taste like chestnuts.. & more to come..

[stumbling towards ecstasy as I lowered my carbon footprint]

Saturday, February 5, 2011

pretty much, right on my backdoor step and I didn't know

another day of Lammas....sitting out side this morning eating my breakfast [rolled oats, blueberries, almonds, sultanas with mango yoghurt and flaxseed oil ~ a bountiful harvest breakfast if ever there was one].. citrus butterflies flitted from leaf to leaf on my oranges trees.. laying eggs of the next generation. Ladybird larvae munched hungrily at the aphids on my cucumber vines, dragonflys & cicadas signifying yet another hot day.. still not a sign of life slowing down towards autumn..

my self seeded tomatoes continue to crop heavily. these tomatoes have sprung up from compost made from their ancestors who were slewn by the devastating hail storm last year at Inglewood.. which saw my tomato crop slashed to a messy pulp. the abundance this year is as if Mother Nature is saying sorry.. and rewarding me with abundance of fruit as a gift.

yesterday, Joe & I went for another sunset dinner to Echo Point, then decided to go for a walk..

taking a path we had never been on before...these rock faces, I had never seen.. right on my back door step.. and there are many other places to explore

the cliffs were awesome.. Joe explained things to me as we walked along.. how this was actually part of the sea bed millions of years ago and pointed out where the water lapped at the shore. it was brilliant.

I was in awe of actually being in the presence of something so ancient. being part of it...

showing just how versatile trees are. in the mountains the elements can be sometimes harsh. winds & snow.

standing like sentinels

and then
my camera went flat...
oh darn.. there were so many more things I wanted to freeze in that moment with my camera...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

a Blessed Lammas

[sunset, last night at Echo Point. a hot night, softened by a gentle mountains breeze. Katoomba. a power spot of mine]

grown from the earth with mothers love
fed by water and the sun above
taken for your power true
hung aloft in life anew
let your magick grow so strong
for you’ll be called before too long

Lammas season for me. Instead of trying to do all my little ritual & such in oneday, I am doing it over the month.. makes alot more sense to me - I bet the Cornish ancestors didn't run around trying to fit it all in.. things like: decorating the home with Hollyhock flowers to bring the "good luck" fairies to the village and home. Hollyhock flowers attract money. [The Druid would cut mistletoe with its oak branch to be nurtured on the altar for magical energy until spring when it would be placed back in the oak tree.] or baking oat cakes to share with friends.. [the cook would bake one pretty stone into one cake and the young lady who received that cake by chance would marry well the following year or if married produce a fine baby]
autumn joy... heads of brilliant orange flowers will open during the coming of autumn. Butterflies will clamour for the will change from orange to rust bringing colour to a winter garden

Lammas is supposed to signify the ending of summer.. which is where I immediately become confused.. February is our hottest month.. and this year is no exception. the first day of February was over 40degC... and today, promises to me not much cooler.. plants are wilting nearly as much as I am. is it eco friendly to have the airconditioner on as much as I do? I think not.

butterflies enjoy the last of the summer lavender and dragonflies flitter two and fro...

The Sun's strength begins to wane and the plants of spring begin to wither [the only thing they are withering from at the moment is the intense heat of February sun] and drop their fruits or seeds for our use, as well as to ensure future crops. [so please God, make it cool]

hydrangeas hanging to dry ~ a kind of harvest

but, I can give thanks for my harvest.. mini capsicums, tiny sweet bite tomatoes[which by the way were self seeded. coming from the compost that i bought with me from Inglewood..] and I have been gathering handfuls each day, basil, cucumbers. Comfrey for the comfrey tea and for my clucky girls..

and I can decorate my altar[s] - with the colours of traditional Lammas.. in doing this I bring myself closer to my ancestors

not very Catholic, I know BUT... you see, I am more than a catholic... an eccentric mix [see my profile above]. it is ok to be me. Mother Mary does approve. I am sure.
[and so for the month of February.. I will continue to observe the ending of summer.. as it happens - year after year - and will share as life goes on..]
"She seemed to come suddenly upon happiness as if she had surprised a butterfly in the Winter woods"
(edith wharton)