This post has been forming in my head for exactly eleven days but I have had neither had the time nor motivation to sit down a write it, that’s a bit sad and pathetic really. Anyway, I have mustered both this afternoon and so will tackle the penultimate Slow Living post for the year. I must say I have really enjoyed writing these, and even more reading others. I have occasionally felt a little overwhelmed by the efforts of some or longing for more time and talent to be as creative as some, but mostly they have been inspiring, honest, often humorous and sometimes full of wisdom. So thank you to everyone who shares their thoughts, ideas, successes and…. ahem not-so-successes. I have found great gardening tips, recipes, patterns for knitting or crocheting that I will one day have a go at (I promise), green living advice and in general a sense of community that I find sometimes lacking in my real life neighbourhood. And with that, here is my November round up.
For us November was the month of broad beans, we ate PLENTY of them. In pasta, in risotto, in salads and my favourite recipe with potatoes and garlic, yum! In fact the month was really marked by the amount of home grown food that ended up on our plates. We had cream of celery soup, root vegetable frittata, salads (though not all the salad leaves were from the garden), fried rice with all the odds and sods and kale or silverbeet in just about everything I could smuggle it into.
No preserving again this month, except for kale and broad beans going into the freezer. I have also been playing around with various salad dressings trying to jazz up my repertoire a bit which is always a good thing. I was inspired after the Taste of Melbourne day where I tried several really amazing salad dressings, but as a rule I try not to buy pre-made dressings so improving my making skills is definitely worth the effort (especially with summer upon us now).
Well, there’s an awful lot going on in this department now. I wrote a list earlier in the month which I’ve copied below:
About 20 bean plants (3 varieties)
5 French pumpkins (courtesy of Andrea last year)
6 cucumbers (3 Lebanese and 3 Long)
Lots of potatoes (Pink Fir, Dutch Cream and King Edwards)
11 corn plants
3 eggplants (1 regular and 2 Lebanese)
2 capsicums (1 over wintered and already flowering and forming fruit)
10 tomatoes (San Marzano, Principe Borgese, Armish Paste and Rogue de Marmande, plus the rogues)
Lots of lettuce (mixed varieties)
Basil, parlsey, thyme, sage, rosemary, coriander, chives, bay
Onions and spring onions
Garlic (nearly ready to lift)
And fruit (all with fruit on them at various stages of maturity)
Jonathan apples (nothing on the Granny Smith)
Plum (though only two)
Figs (next door, but hanging over the fence)
I’m not yet harvesting a lot of these and I have lifted the garlic since writing the list, much to my delight. I also need to tackle the flowering celery, most of which will need to come out, and the bolting silver beet and parsley before I lose my side path altogether. It has become something of a challenge to get to the clothes line these days.
And of course over the month we harvested the broad beans and then pulled the plants out.
I did a bit of research about waste and what happens to it this month and in particular food waste. It just seemed to keep popping up as I was reading blogs or watching TV and I got to thinking about it all. The statistic about how much perfectly good food is wasted in countries like Australia, England and the US is pretty staggering – certainly enough to make the fact that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people are struggling to find enough to eat and feed their children everyday shameful – but even with this knowledge getting some widespread public attention nothing seems to change. That has a lot to do with major supermarket chains and their insane criteria placed of fresh produce (or is it us who demand straight cucumbers and perfectly formed apples), but it also has to do with buying more than we need or could eat in a week/fortnight etc. As a rule, I don’t throw away good food, pretty much ever. I dig around in the fridge often and make sure I use up the left over bits and pieces. I check out the fruit bowl everyday to ensure the softest, closest to turning bad, fruit is eaten quickly – it’s amazing what children will eat when you cut it up and put it in a bowl near where they are playing! And I buy sparingly, knowing how much I’ll get through and what I have in the garden. But I do throw away some (…a lot) of food scraps. My worms don’t eat all we produce and my pathetic attempt at a compost heap is still out in the open where the dog can get to it so I only use it for garden waste really. Some scraps I use in stock or to make a fertiliser for the garden, but in the end a lot of it winds up in the bin. I hadn’t really thought this was a big problem in the past, until I started reading. When you add any waste, food scraps included, to land fill it produces methane – a greenhouse gas that is NOT produced when you add it to a properly maintained compost heap or work farm. So that is my new theme on reduction, food waste. I want to get to a point where no food waste leaves our property (not including tins and packaging etc that go into the recycling, or bones). Guess what’s on my Christmas wish list…. a compost bin, every girls dream present yes? In the meantime, I have plenty of pots full of compost at various stages of decomposition – time to get some flower seedlings going to plant over them for a few months.
A bit of cross over the from the reduce section here. I’ve also been experimenting with home made toiletries with good effect. I’ve found it easy, extremely cheap, better for my skin/body and more effective then shop bought products.
I went along to another of our monthly knitting nights with some friends. We have been working on a blanket for the Hamlin Fistula Hospital and I think we are now done with the squares (after I finish the one currently on my needles). We’ve had a volunteer from the group to sew them together, so hopefully I’ll be able to show you the finished product soon (well sometime early next year I’d say, let’s face it we’re all to busy to get it done at the moment). I’m looking forward to getting back to some crocheting and will aim to finish my granny squares blanket soon too.
As with last month I’ve been on a bit of a fiction reading phase which has continued. I’ve just finished an Alexander McCall Smith (I forgot how sweet and easy to read his books were) and I also delved into some short stories by Margaret Atwood, which I reviewed here.
Other finds this month have been slightly incongruous with the season (well one is anyway). The cookbook Winter on the Farm (which I think someone from the Slow Living group mentioned a month or two ago and which I reserved from the library, it took a while to come in!). It’s a lovely book, great food, but not exactly suited to our current weather conditions. I think I’ll have to borrow it again in Autumn. Also the Sustainable Table book, which I love and discovered at the Taste of Melbourne day. It is full of stories from local (Victorian) produces, many of whom sell their products at the markets I go to, and recipes for using what they make. It also has locally sourced and ethical wines matched to each recipe included.
Truly, I have done a pathetic job in this category. I really can’t think of anything to put under this heading. I will have to find something to contribute to next year, it’s no wonder I feel a lack of community, I’m never really out in it! Other than at markets obviously.
A quiet few days while Miss Three spent time with my parents in the country. This also gave me a lovely chance to spend some one on one time with Miss One.
A visit from Mum, the first for quite some time as she and Dad had been overseas.
Dinner out with girlfriends and then again with Mr Good – both times Italian!
The garden, the kids, the slightly warmer weather, it’s all been good.