Archive for August, 2009

Spring Time

August 30, 2009

It’s that time of year, you start looking at the garden, tidying up and getting your seedlings ready for the season coming.

Yesterday I planted spinach, broccoli seedlings and transplanted some bok choy that had started flowering around Joy’s Peach Tree to attracted good bugs.

Last week I did a quick light mulch of sugar cane, I love standing back after mulching as the garden look tucked in, if you know what I mean.

Today I went for a drive and I wanted to share with you some of the places I visited.

First stop was BAAG, Bulleen Art and Garden, this garden centre always inspires me, they have a huge collection of food plants, wonderful inside and outside products and a great selection of books. They have multible working displays of food gardens, including bush foods and their chook set up is a must see for anyone thinking of keeping chooks or wants ideas to make their chook pens a more interesting place.

I couldn’t help myself, I picked out a punnet of rhubarb, chamomile and a sad and sorry Indian Guava from the specials table.

Next stop was the nursery across the road from BAAG, very conventional and apart from the pretty interior decorating displays I didn’t feel the need to get my purse or my camera out, still it was nice to walk around and they had a coffee stand out the front so I had a latte to warm my hands and get the energy levels up for the next part of my journey for the day.

On to Ceres, my camera didn’t stop clicking. My first encounter of Ceres was back in the early 90’s, my daughter and I helped to plant out trees on the neglected creek bank …… I visited Ceres many time in the 90’s, my little taste of what could be, something I could aspire too, one day when I could get a little place of my own.

My focus today was in looking at the nursery (a must see), checking out the worm farm setup WOW and looking at their chook set up.

Ceres market garden

Ceres market garden

A nursery food garden, note the upturned punnet trays to protect plants.

A nursery food garden, note the upturned punnet trays to protect plants.

worm farm bath tubs off in the distance

worm farm bath tubs off in the distance

Bath Worm Farms, all draining into a bath for storage.

Bath Worm Farms, all draining into a bath for storage.

all baths are plumbed to a main pipe that drains into a bath for storage

all baths are plumbed to a main pipe that drains into a bath for storage

I love this archway, concrete reinforcement mesh bent onto star pickets.

I love this archway, concrete reinforcement mesh bent onto star pickets.

and here is a few photo’s of the chooks at Ceres.

chooks at Ceres

chooks at Ceres

Auto watering system for the chooks

Auto watering system for the chooks

From Ceres I went hunting for some gluten free food, so I headed to Fitzroy, on the way I spotted a garden on a nature strip, did a U turn and found a perfect example of community and food production …….. LOVED IT!

A great use of a nature strip

A great use of a nature strip

every street needs one

every street needs one

An Oasis on a street corner

An Oasis on a street corner

To all those who say "I would love to grow food but my soils no good" ...... no more excuses, there is no difference between the closest nature strip to the camera and the food garden, except love and attention, oh and a bit of mulch and compost!

To all those who say "I would love to grow food but my soils no good" ...... no more excuses, there is no difference between the closest nature strip to the camera and the food garden, except love and attention, oh and a bit of mulch and compost!

Please take the time to visit Cultivating Community and start a community garden in your street …… I spoke with Pete and we have decided to turn our nature strip into a community help your self food garden, stay turned for updates.

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#26 Steaming Brown Ale

August 7, 2009

Ingredients

  • 2.25kg Ale malt
  • 500g Light Munich malt
  • 200g Light Crystal malt
  • 200g Chocolate malt
  • 500g Dextrose
  • 1kg Light Dry malt extract
  • 20g Nothern Brewer hops pellets (AA ?%) @ 60mins
  • 40g Fuggles hops pellets (AA ?%) @ 15mins
  • 30g Fuggles hops plugs (AA ?%) @ 15mins
  • ??g Golden Cluster hops flowers (fresh)  @ flame-out
  • Wyeast 2112 California Lager liquid yeast (1lt)
  • Estimated OG:
  • Estimated IBU:
  • Estimated EBC:
  • Actual OG:  1.056
  • Actual FG: 1.011
  • ALC/VOL. 5.85%

Method

The grains were mashed together for an hour in 10lt water. Then brought to the boil with the hops added as per schedule. Dextrose and LDME were added 5 minutes before the end of the boil. The fresh hops were from our garden. They were left to steep in the finished wort for 1/2 hour. The wort was then cooled, and yeast pitched. Because this was a very spur of the moment brew, I hadn’t gotten a yeast starter together – so I used 4 of my 6 bottles made when I made my original 6-way starter. After fermentation I bulk-primed it with 144g Dextrose and bottled.

Notes

Unfortunately, this didn’t turn out very brown. According to Promash it should have with the amounts I put in – but there’s the difference between theory and praxis I guess! It may also have been due to the age of the grain. It was stuff that was left-over in the cupboard for a couple of years. I have yet to taste it, as it still needs a couple of weeks in the bottle.

It’s getting chilli around here….

August 7, 2009

Please be careful when grinding up last season’s chillis to make pepper – I haven’t been able to stop my eyes or nose running for the last half-hour….

LMAO

Certainly my newly-acquired coffee/spice grinder comes in handy for such things. Just cut the chillis off their string, place in the grinder and let it rip!

Voila! Instant cayenne pepper!

From this ...

From this ...

... to this!

... to this!

Uses for Cayenne Pepper

Well, you can use them for cooking obviously. Sichuan cooking (southern province of China) incorporates these chillis whole; but they are used in many recipes requiring the flavour and heat from chillis. I find that drying them on a string and then grinding into powdered form is a wonderful way of preserving them. The powdered form means it can then be mixed with other ground spices to make a ‘curry’ of your choosing.

What creates the heat from chillis in general is a compound known as capsaicin, which is found in all fruits of the Capsicum variety – cayenne chillis are generally regarded to be a variety of Capsicum annuum – which are all part of the Solanaceae family (“nightshades”, along with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, belladonna and tobacco).

Capsaicin is said to reduce platelet aggregation in blood and help relieve pain. It is also said to contain vitamins E and C, and carotenoids.

In Chinese Medicine Dietetics, it is considered Hot, and so can counter col, especially in cold climates and seasons. It is also Pungent/Acrid, and so will assist in dispersing qi up and out, which is often why pungent foods/herbs are employed in cooking to help sweat out a cold/flu. However, too much of a good thing can also be harmful, as the heat in this little cracker will dry up the yin/fluids. Those who constantly eat hot-spicy foods often present clinically with a lot of heat in the Lung and Stomach with some manner of yin-deficiency.

I find that adding a very small amount of cayenne gives you the flavour and a little heat, without a meal becoming over-poweringly hot. At the end of the day, if something is soooo hot you can’t taste the other flavours, then you may as well have just eaten the chilli on its own.

Surprisingly, our chilli bushes are still alive, even in this cold weather. The Jalapeno is still throwing fruit, as are the Topino Rosso. Even the miniature Sweet Chocolate Capsicum is alive. I haven’t noticed the Cayenne bushes producing anything, but then I haven’t looked.

Now that we’re in august, we are planting the seeds for spring growth – mainly greens still at this point. But in the next couple of weeks, we plan to start putting in more carrots, swedes, turnips, some more brassicas (the possums ate everything we had in!), celery, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, etc. The snow peas are growing slowly, and I’ve noticed the first green shoots from the potato bed. Winter has been harsh, with everything growing really really slow – and anything that was going well was eaten by possums (I wonder if I can use the infamous ‘Snail Ale’ to use here…..? LOL).