Tuesday, April 29, 2014

International Permaculture Day this Sunday at Hilton Harvest

You may have noticed that we spend a lot of time at our community garden, Hilton Harvest. We love it and work hard at it. Yesterday Davina and I moved part of our orchard to make way for a new fence. We had a bobcat and an expert helping us and it was so satisfying. I thought it would be such a back breaking job but throw in a machine and some fossil fuel and the job is done by 11am!

This Sunday we are moving our asparagus patch for the same reason. Everyone is welcome to the Busy Bees and usually there is a good spread of cake to share. AND this time it's International Permaculture Day!

The Permies are holding some workshops in the morning and are then coming for a tour of the Hilton Harvest and the chookship (our earthship style chicken house - totally delux accommodation!). So come to the garden at 12.30ish and have a tour! The day winds up at FERN with a gig from some wicked local groups including the Formidable Vegetable Sound System who sing exclusively (I think) about the principles of permaculture! We saw them on the weekend at Fairbridge and it was awes. So get grubby!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


While other mummy blogs are espousing the virtues of a sugar free diet, this one will share with you how to unashamedly love it! Call me old fashioned but I love the traditional baking trifector: flour, butter and sugar. Not very trendy I know, and I do love a little quinoa occasionally but on the whole I'm not into superfoods. Superfoods are for supermums and I'm not one of those. Hence this post about sugar and its use, specifically in lilly pillie jelly.

Quin and I were visiting friends on the bike the other day and he insisted on stopping to pick some lilly pillies to munch on. These are cute little fruit that grow on beautiful big trees that are common in old Hilton gardens. They are native to the east coast of Australia but do very well here. The texture is weird and slightly astringent. They are free and bountiful and so we eat them! We've done jelly and cordial before and both taste a bit like different forms of fairy floss. What's not to love?

Quin remember how much he wanted to raise some funds for his next Lego Movie Lego set and suggested we pick enough to make some jelly to sell to unsuspecting family and friends. Not wanting to quash his entrepreneurial spirit, I agreed to help him. Four o'clock in the afternoon - a perfect time to start a batch of jelly and I knew I'd 'get it done in twice the time' with Quin helping (as my Mum would say to us as a kid's with a smile and wink to Dad!). So, enthusiastically taking his life in his own hands he balanced on the fence and on the bike and we quickly picked 1.5 kgs. Perfect.

The recipe is from my favorite preserves book, A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise. The recipes are simple and never fail. This one is:
1.5 kgs lilly pillies
juice of one lemon

Boil lilly pillies in enough water to just cover them with lemon juice, then cook gently for 30 mins.

Strain through a colander, then through a sieve lined with muslin.

For each cup of liquid add a cup of sugar, stir until sugar is dissolved and then bring to a rolling boil.

When setting point is reached (ie test with a few drops on a saucer in the fridge - if it sets when cooled, its set) pour into sterile jars and seal. The jelly is beautifully clear and smooth and very fairy flossy.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Animal magic

A few weeks ago we went camping to Sandy Cape near Jurien Bay north of Perth. We also call it Sandy Crack because it's sandy and it gets in your crack. Also Windy Crack because it's windy. As sandy and windy as it is, it is also beautiful. During the pack up for camping I sometimes wonder if it is all worth it; all the gear and food, ice, surf skis, kids, a dog and a two and a half our drive just to hang out on a beach. And of course when we are there all set up on said beach it is abundantly clear to me how important it is to get in to nature. Because nature is magic.

Quincey had a particularly magic experience when we found this little fella (a Southern Spiny Tailed Gecko) by our campsite. Ads lifted up some of our gear and found him under it. Quincey ran over and squatted near him to say hello. We all told Quincey to not go too close or the gecko will be scared away, but actually the opposite happened. The gecko slowly crept up to Quin and sheltered in his shade. Quincey edged back and the gecko crept closer. How wonderful and magic and tender and special. A boy's close encounter with a wild animal. You can't script that or buy that. You don't even witness it very often.

Of course after their tender moments together we explained to Quin that, no, we could not take him home. So Quin cried and then sulked in the car for an hour. But I think it was worth it and that we will all remember it.