Baguettes, Walhalla, Boots, Bottles, Books and Birds.

Been a bit slow on posts recently, think the horrid weather has had a bit to do with this. I haven’t been outside much nor have I been doing a great amount inside. I have managed to read a few good books though!

Today we spent a bit of time marking out with chalk the intended design and placement of some equipment for the new kitchen. I am useless at reading plans and always complain that the finished result is not what I thought it was going to be and that nothing is where I expected it.

IMG_2251-001I dare say that even after doing this I will still get surprises!

Walhalla Road Trip

We took advantage of the lovely sunshiny day last Saturday and headed up to the historic township of Walhalla. This place just oozes history (and spookiness) and it was a great chance to spend some time with my son who now lives in Melbourne. He purchased a Land Rover a few months ago and does ‘weekend adventures’ visiting lots of interesting places.


I managed to throw together some small egg and bacon pies, kale, feta, chilli and potato rolls. A chocolate cake from the freezer and a few freshly picked oranges from our tree to have as  picnic fare. This along with  freshly boiled billy tea is about all you need I think!

IMG_2104IMG_2202While we were eating, there were a few different birds in the scrub and I noticed a green bird that I thought resembled a green cat bird which I know are more northern based . There was also a bowerbird with it so I wasn’t that surprised when I’d Googled to discover the green bird is a juvenile Satin Bowerbird. Check out those purple eyes!

Saton bowerbird
Satin bowerbird

Just beautiful!

Hidden Treasures

Part of our extension/reno means we have to demolish a couple of the oldest parts of the property. We’ve tried but there is just no justifiable way we can preserve them. I believe these 2 rooms to be the old washhouse and  would guess the woodstore. We are going to rebuild to be similar visually but they certainly won’t have the ‘charm’ of these old ones. We found a few interesting things behind the wall lining!


Several empty beer bottles tucked in her and there,




A couple old books, one a medical reference and the other a novel.

IMG_2219-001 IMG_2218-001




A pair of old boots, very old I’d guess! Hand cut leather and hand stitched.

IMG_2223-002There was also a few rat nests but I didn’t think you’d enjoy me sharing those with you!

This weekend’s Bread bake

Today I made baguettes using the gas pizza oven to bake. I was so impressed with the ‘before they went into the oven’ appearance, then promptly dropped the peel when transferring them to the oven. Never mind, still turned out well, albeit a little misshapen and a few holes lighter up one end. I also did a spelt/whole-wheat loaf. Have no idea what it is meant to be like but it smells great and looks like others I have Googled, so I’ll go with it’s pretty good! 🙂

IMG_2263-001 Baguette crumb shot


Tell me why! I don’t like Mon_day_ays. Tell me why!

Because they are bloody hard work! No, I’m pulling my own leg…. I LOVE them. This is the fourth week of having Monday off since I cut back my hours at work and it’s taking a bit of time to adjust. I’ve had this all consuming feeling that I have to pack as much into my Monday as possible to justify why I made the choice. Thankfully that’s diminishing somewhat,  but I am I; I do like to make sure I get as much value as I can from any day. It did cross my mind once today that I could actually sit down and read a book but that just isn’t me unless the weather is foul and I can do it with a nice bottle of something while sitting in front of the fire. That’s probably overkill at 9.30m!

So here is the outline of what I did today, Monday mine number 4!

I baked 2 loaves of sourdough that had been bulk fermenting in the fridge since Saturday night.


Pretty happy with these. I rarely get to taste them fresh from the ‘Toy Oven”, but I could today. Wish I’d had some smoked salmon in the fridge, beautiful.


I ripped out a bit more of the kitchen. That is so satisfying!


For lunch I had a leftover pastie that I made last night.  If anyone remembers an IMK post I did a couple of months ago, I bought an amazing rolling pin that measures 750ml end to end (I didn’t really take note of the size when ordering), I’ve named her Big Bertha. Well Bertha got her first workout last night making the lard pastry that the pasties were wrapped in. I’m in love with Big Bertha! My god, how much better is it working with a tool that is brilliant? I can see why massive rollers are used on roads, a pissy little one just wouldn’t work!

Big bertha

The pasties were lovely, standard filling of mince (just corrected auto spell of mice), carrot, turnip, swede, potato, onion etc and I added a couple of teaspoons of my Middle Eastern Spice Blend.

Cornish pasties

I started reno work on some of the beautiful cedar (Australian Red) door architrave. This poor old timber is a bit sad and sorry but it is amazing what a sand, some metho and a steel wool scrub can do. Followed by the first coat of  Feast & Watson Tung oil  to rejuvenate it. Pictures to follow!

Spice Queen!

When we went to Sydney a couple of months ago so I could participate in one of Herbies spice appreciation and blending classes, towards the end of the day we had to create a spice blend of our own. I quickly scribbled down what I included as I mixed my blend, (I’m impressed I found this scribble),

Spice rub recipe

and have been waiting for a reason/opportunity to use it. I had defrosted a small pork shoulder at the weekend so I used the blend as a spice rub on the pork and thrown it into the slow cooker with a stubby of passata plus a sliced onion and 1/2 a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Smells wonderful, I’m not sure when we will eat it but I can’t wait. I’m hoping to make some flatbread from the Indian atta flour I bought last week at the Dandenong Market.

slow cooked pork
Pork rub before adding passsata, onion and smoked paprika.

I really don’t not like Mondays, I think I had better start not liking Tuesdays too!

Have you cut back work hours? How have you changed what you do?




Gardivalia 2015-We’re in!

October in West Gippsland is the month when gardeners, would be gardeners and just lovers of gardens have the opportunity to visit properties throughout the Baw Baw Shire. Gardens that are opened up for the public to visit and learn from. Food gardens, formal gardens, native gardens, permaculture and community gardens as well as events, forums and workshops being available for people to expand their knowledge and develop friendships and networks. This event is Gardivalia and I’m excited! Yep, check out garden Number 13, Around The Mulberry Tree. That would be us.



















I’ve entered Around The Mulberry Tree so that we can show people  what you can achieve in a relatively short time to get a food garden established.  Wicking beds, chooks, shiitake mushrooms, permaculture concepts, composting, worm farming, fruit trees, berry growing and greenhouse gardening are all part of our garden. The importance of thinking through the design and demonstrating how you can use recycled materials and creating habitat for birds and bees is also part of our garden. This is only the second season the vegie patch has been constructed and we want to show the development of it and the garden over the next few years, so this is the benchmark. Excited as I am, it’s a bit like having to clean up before you have visitors! I want to make sure we present in the best possible light, so there are a few jobs to do before our open garden weekend.


We transplanted a couple of standard roses from the front yard to frame the entry to the patch. They were just in the wrong spot out the front and should do much better here. This area has compost bins, a worm farm, potatoes in the bath tub, garlic growing beside the chook shed and there will be bee attracting flowers bordering the beds.


I’ve transplanted the rhubarb from the garden beds to the veggie patch, these pavers will be filled with toppings, herbs and bee attracting flowers will be planted in the bordering spaces. I’ve planted climbing peas on this frame near the compost bins,



















and these sweet pea seeds have been planted near the berry house. I soaked these overnight then left in damp newspaper for another 2 days to hasten the germination.

In the greenhouse I have a range of cuttings that hopefully will be established enough to sell at a little plant stall on the weekend. I have tomato seedlings starting, poppies and other flowers seed ready toppling out. I will definitely need to give this a sort out!


I always perform better with a deadline and this is certainly one I look forward to meeting.






My very long tomato season comes to an end.

I cannot believe that I have just picked the last of our tomatoes for the season. Yes, they have been done and dusted in the garden for about 4 months, but the plants I had growing   in the greenhouse have been still chucking the occasional fruit. I would have been happy to have extended the greenhouse crop season until late May but to have kept it going this  long is sensational. I think the variety is money-maker, but not sure. I feel a bit sad picking these last fruits and pulling the plant, but as I do so the new seedlings are starting to come through and the cycle starts again.

Money Maker tomatoes

Sledging the kitchen. Osso bucco and Asian style Chicken Soup

I couldn’t stand it any longer! After spending most of my ‘free from paid work’ Monday out in the garden, I was itching to come in and start getting rid of the stinky old cupboards in the kitchen. I’m doing this in stages, no hurry as we haven’t locked in any start date for the build. I just have to see them gone! So out came the sledge hammer, wrecking bar and normal hammer. The tiled bench top was first to go, very satisfying smashing that!


Then it was a matter of methodically working through dismantling the rest of the framework. Things were built so well when this was made, the size and quantity of the nails is amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to find that behind this cabinet is some beautiful baltic panelling that is still in great nick. How could anyone cover up this with that awful cabinet?


The hole in the floor is the access point to the old brick, butter cellar. I’m still working out how to integrate this into a usable asset in the new kitchen.

Butter cellar


















That was very satisfying! Little by little I’ll keep chipping away!

Weekend food wrap.

On Saturday I participated in a Middle Eastern Vegetarian cooking class at Relish Mama in Cheltenham.  I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon, chef Tony Chiodo was a great source of information, the venue is set up beautifully and it was just nice to be in a real kitchen with things like having water connected, clean floors and a real cooktop. Aaaaaah, heaven. I got a few design tips too, added bonus.

Tony Chiodo- Relish Mama
Waiting for the fun to begin!


















On Sunday night I made an Osso Bucco style stew. If mammoths still roamed the earth, I imagine that their shanks would be about the size of these cuts I bought at the Dandenong market. I only used 2 and it would easily have fed 6 people. Served with mash and broad beans cooked in olive oil, garlic and lemon. A bit of sourdough to mop up the juices. Can’t beat it!

Osso Bucco

Chicken and No Corn soup.

Tonight I felt like I needed an asian style soup to warm me through. I didn’t really feel like having noodles or dumplings in it, so I just went with using some of the asian style stock I made a few weeks ago using chicken feet as the base. To this I added some finely diced carrot and celery, chilli, grated ginger, black pepper, fish sauce, a bit of water to extend the volume and 3 chicken thigh fillets. The chicken fillets poached while the stock simmered away and when cooked I shredded them, stirred in some finely shredded, freshly picked kale and 2 eggs to thread through the broth. Just what I needed, not a big fan of corn in soup anyway!

Asian Chicken Soup



In My Kitchen -Sydney Rd Shopping & Putting things off

Too bloomin’ cold and too much else going on here so not a lot of food IMK this month. Our positive energy and thoughts are being transported to Celia-Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. who normally ‘stitches’ all our IMK posts together every month. Unfortunately Celia is enduring difficult times so we are all ‘winging’ it by posting to comments on her site. For someone who is always the first to offer a helping hand and support to others, we wish her and her family a quick bounce back to normality. She is quite an amazing and caring person.

For those of you who don’t get my regular blog posts, we have started moving everything from the kitchen to what will be the temporary kitchen while our reno/extension (yes, my real kitchen) are taking place. You can read about that here.

The Lovely Francesca from one of my favourite blogs ‘Almost Italian‘ told me a couple of posts ago about a store in Brunswick that sells ‘everything Italian’. As luck would have it, we ended up in Sydney Rd last weekend when we were in full ‘avoidance’ mode at having to repair a broken poly pipe in the back yard.



















On Saturday morning it was raining heavily, a freezing wind blowing and it was threatening to snow (that is a rarity) so I quickly decided we should go looking at timber flooring for the reno rather than play in the mud. We turned off the water main, Googled for some showrooms of timber flooring and headed to Coburg in Melbourne. Coburg is close to the suburb I grew up in, Preston, but it certainly isn’t anything like I remember it. After looking at the timber place, I knew we would find somewhere to eat along Sydney Rd, understatement. We parked and walked for ages along the strip shops savouring quite a few tasty things on the way. God, I felt like I was in the Middle East and in particular Turkey (or how I imagine it). Such a haven of interesting shops and friendly people. After we’d had a kebab at one place (we weren’t piggies, we did share a small one) , we then ate lunch at the Middle Eastern cafe/bakery Zaatar. Lunch was a couple of freshly baked Middle Eastern pastries and they were delicious. The pastry was superb! We grabbed some Turkish mastic ice-cream to eat as we headed into more interesting stores. This had a very different taste but I think I could easily get to love it. We didn’t choose it based on it having ‘Booza’ on the label.




I was very tempted to buy this bag of chillies, (please excuse the blurring)


but really, how many chillies can one use?

We then headed further down Sydney Rd to Brunswick and I remembered the lead Francesca had given me about the Mediterranean Wholesaler for everything Italian. Well, the delights continued! I came out from there with some beautiful looking aged, hard cheese, we just can’t get that here.

IMG_1675and some balsamic vinegar that was in the cutest little bottle,



















definitely going back there. Thanks Francesca!

Back at home I’ve dried some of my Phoenicia sourdough starter (this originally came from Celia sharing some of her starter Priscilla). Having some dried starter, means I can share it and have some as a back up incase something terrible happens to Phoenicia.

IMG_1652Lastly, I have a lovely little teapot (1-2 cup) that I bought at what is the best tea shop I’ve ever been to. Tea Leaves in Sassafras which is in our Dandenong ranges, a popular  place for a weekend drive. We ended up there a few weeks ago after collecting something reasonably close by. They sell online and the prices are reasonable. The knowledge the staff have about tea is quite amazing. Love it!


So that’s it for this month. Looking forward to reading some of the other posts, it really is fun looking into peoples kitchens. I hope that Celia is back on top of things next month, we love hearing her stories.

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