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loquat jam

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Halving, peeling & pipping the loquats was sure fiddly work- but it was well worth the excellent jam that resulted. To make the jam we reduced half a kilo of loquat flesh combined with half a kilo of sugar. When the loquats were fully cooked, we blended the mixture with a hand mixer, leaving only very small bits of loquat for texture. This made us four jars of jam. Mmm… the closest comparison I can make is that is has a similar hue and sweetness as apricot jam… but, really, loquat jam is one of a kind.

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plant a kiss

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My first introduction to a ‘blog-hop party’ came about earlier today when, while reading this lovely blog, I stumbled upon Plant a Kiss Day.

Although the idea behind ‘Planting a Kiss’ is simply a random act of kindness, after reading the blogs from all 16 contributors, I can feel there is much goodwill that ‘grows’ from the experience. Not just for the recipient, but also for the giver, the environment, & the community at large.

As someone who loves a good gallery hop, the Plant a Kiss Day blog-hop was a fantastic way to spend some time… in a community, meeting new people, sharing experiences & gaining inspiration as to how I’d like to ‘plant kisses’ in my everyday life.

I loved reading the myriad of ways the contributing bloggers interpreted ‘Plant a Kiss Day’ and the equally varied ways they ‘planted’ their kisses. I wish I could have been in Dolores Park to experience the bubble-mob that took place! What a joyful idea!

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As a sidenote, Wildendurance begins in the Blue Mountains tomorrow. Who is up for the challenge sometime with me?

peanut butter bliss

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Let me be the first to admit, I LOVE peanut butter. Especially teamed up with chocolate. I even put a glob of it with my ice-cream. But, mostly I eat it smeared on a rice cake, with or without homemade mulberry or loquat jam on top. Mmm…

But, I digress. Over the course of my life I have evolved from highly processed, sugar-coma-inducing peanut butter to the oil-on-top, more natural alternative, but never (until today) have I adventurered into the lands of DIY handmade peanut butter making madness. And, it’s so easy!!! And scrumptious!!!

Thanks to some inspiration, I have been successful in the kitchen. The only difference with my recipe was that I used roasted but unsalted peanuts. I’m now looking forward to making other nut butters as well. Break out the buckeyes!

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build-a-bear

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The best gifts are handmade (and/or edible), don’t you think? So, with the first birthday of few special little friends approaching I was quick to whip out my craft supplies.

Before long, some ‘rescued’ wool/cashmere pants (so soft but totally ugly) became a plush teddy, complete with vintage accents and recycled button eyes. The teddy is even stuffed with wool that has been carded by me and a friend, using a vintage carding machine at a local craft collective.

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The other child celebrating a first birthday was the recipient of a repurposed wool sweater/jumper. First I shrunk/felted the wool sweater/jumper in a hot wash. Next, I removed the collar and the sleeves and embellished the front with a hand-warmer style pocket that I had made using a wet felting technique. Finally, I added some embroidery detail on the pocket and around the collar-less collar. In the end, it’s a bit long for the chap, but it’s an article he can grow into (or share with his older siblings!)

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there’s a fungus among us

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Back in spring 2011, we bought a kit to grow pink oyster mushrooms from Swan Valley Gourmet Fungi who are stall holders at the Mt Claremont Farmers Market. We followed the instructions by cutting several slits in the plastic bag surrounding the inoculated straw and placing the kit in a sterile plastic tub, indoors, in a place that got only a little sunlight. We sprayed the kit with water daily. Within a few days, frilly pink oyster mushrooms had begun to grow!

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Our first flush was gorgeous and delicious. But, little did we know, we hadn’t seen nothing yet.

We had been instructed that we would get two flushes from the kit- the first being the biggest. However, for the second flush we left our kit to be ‘babysat’ while we were away camping. The spot where we left the kit was in the second story annex of a predominantly one story house, heated by wood fire. Apparently, the second story annex had very humid conditions while we were away.
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We enjoyed our pink oyster mushrooms fried up with a bit of butter. Growing from a kit was really good fun and good value. Perhaps, the next step will be learning how to inoculate our own straw. Ooh, and I’m very keen to learn how to inoculate logs with shiitake spores, but I want to be taught by the folks my heroes at Milkwood.

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snails for supper

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Back in December we had a gorgeous couchsurfer stay with us. She wanted to cook us a traditional Catalan dish for supper. Luckily (for us) it was raining during her visit (not so lucky for the snails).

She collected the creatures, purged them, and cooked up this delicious dish which we enjoyed with bread.

Snails, I do admit, are fiddly to eat and require a bit of dexterity to remove from their shells. However, I was pretty pleased at how resourceful we were to enjoy very ‘local’, international cuisine .

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chook tractor > free range

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Perhaps a bit difficult to see in this photo, behind the passionfruit vine is our handbuilt chook tractor. It is made using a repurposed vintage pram.

Building a chook tractor out of nearly anything that already has wheels is ideal. The idea is that the chooks have an easily mobile pen, complete with a nesting box.

Although our chooks still perch inside to sleep at night, our chook tractor has more or less become stationary. We only have two chooks, Yeta & Yolanda, and they are friendly and well behaved so they free range in our yard most days.

When the rains come, plenty of snails are available for additional feed, both for chooks and humans.

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This photo was taken in November 2011 when Yo! was just a chick. Look how small she was!

fresh eggs in a funny place

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This is Yolanda (aka Yo!), one of our two chooks. Although we’ve had her for months, she has just started laying eggs.

Nearly everyday she comes over the fence, on to the verandah and sits on our rocking chair. There, she spends about an hour ‘doing her thing’ and leaves us a warm, small, cream colored egg.

Finally, she clucks in celebration! I’ve never watched a chicken lay an egg before, and it’s no small feat. She wriggles and pants, her whole feathery body pulsating.

After the egg is laid and the song sung, Yo! goes back to her merry business of scratching and foraging. And I go back to my merry business of making breakfast.

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