We have made it to Mid Winter in Tasmania. I’ll admit recently I cheated a little when in Early July the children and I went to NSW for a week to visit family. It really was a summer holiday in comparison to home but I wouldn’t want to deal with the hot sticky summers that are getting hotter every year.
It was good to see family but I was glad to be home. We still haven’t quite settled back into a routine as not long after returning home we all went up to Northern Tasmania on a short family road trip. We booked a pet sitter to come feed and check on the pets, got packed and hit the road!
Well the drive up wasn’t so bad the kids didn’t fight much and we stopped in Ross which is a lovely little historic town that is quiet and full of big stone heritage buildings. It has a bakery that resembles kikis bakery from the studio ghibli animated film Kikis delivery service. Unfortunately this was under renovation much to the childrens dissapointment but we did enjoy going into the Tasmanian wool centre and buying some dyed wool tops ready to spin, some wool dye and some knitting needles for little miss Hunter Gatherer. You can look at the wonders of the wool center online here http://www.taswoolcentre.com.au/
I was inspired by my visit to research what sheep I would have if I was ever to get one for fiber and I have settled on English Leicester. We are limited by heritage breeds in Australia and even more so on our little island Tasmania and the English Leicester seems to tick a lot of boxes for a hand spinner as well as being available in Tasmania and completely adorable with their long flowing locks.
After Ross we headed to Evandale to stay with my Aunt and Uncle who have a airbnb and had some family time. Evandale is a sweet town just outside of Launceston. It’s very much a chocolate box town with lots of beautiful houses, heritage pubs, a penny farthing festival (yes really) and one of my favorite markets in Tasmania.
The following morning we headed off early to Scottsdale to visit a friends farm and see if we might like to live there one day to share farm. We are completely taken by the farm and area and I wish I had taken some photos to share with you but there was so much to take in as well as wrangling two tired little people. If you would like to see photos you can see their blog here http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2017/ . I liked Scottsdale it has everything you would need in a town and Launceston only 1 hour away. It’s hard to think of leaving the Huon Valley where we have quickly made a lot of friends but with the reality of little full time work or a chance of getting a mortgage to buy our own farm here not to mention fast growing property prices we feel the pull towards a chance to build a farm for ourselves and our children.
After our tour of the farm we went for lunch at the local bakery that had delicious pastries and from there went for a play in the local park that had a wetland habitat and rainforest walk that was just like a fairy garden. We took our friend back to the farm and she sent us on our way with a big bag of merino fleece for me to play with as well as some of her own honey.
I will touch more on how we came across this opportunity in another post but for now I’ll say goodbye until my next post where I will include a recipe and book review 🙂
We had a week disaster here yesterday when I was waiting for my dreadlock client I thought I’d check the ferments fridge up near the studio. This is basically just a fridge I use for homemade cider, sparkling wine, fermented food and excess garden produce. About a month ago I’d wrapped all the red apples off the trees in newspaper and stored them carefully in the fridge. Well a contaminate must have got in and the skins of many had a light covering of mold. Not to let anything go to waste I peeled all the apples and decided to test out the apple pie recipe in the Australian heritage cookbook I’ve got. This was the first time I’d made this recipe but I’d been eyeing it off for a while.
The cookbook is a funny one lots of lovely pictures around Australia and it gives a good insight into Australian cooking which to be honest hasn’t always been as good as it is today! The baking recipes however are all amazing and this has become my favourite pie the pastry was lovely and crisp and perfectly balanced.
My new favorite. If anyone would like a copy of the recipe I can photograph it to share in this post.
I started making our own flat breads a few years ago when we were working to get out of debt. I couldn’t believe I had wasted so many years buying packaged flatbreads when they are so easy to make. There a a few different variations you can do but this is a go to one. I also make it without the yeast with great success.
We usually eat them with curry or egg and bean dishes. They make for a very frugal and filling meal.
Easy Flat Bread Recipe
2/3 Cups of flour – I use plain but you could use your proffered flour of choice.
2 Teaspoons of yeast
1 Cup warm water (use milk as a variation)
2 tablespoons of Olive oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
Plop flour in a bowl and make a well.
Add yeast and warm water
Mix and add olice oil, sugar and salt. Now knead until soft and leave for 10-20 minutes.
It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t rise or if you don’t have time to let it rise.
Once happy roll into medium sized balls. Roll the balls out individually and pop one in a lightly oiled fry pan.
Once lightly brown on one side flip over. You should see the bread puff up a bit.
When cooked both sides pop the bread on the plate and repeat. I don’t usually re oil the pan as I find they cook better without the oil.
This week I’ve been sitting back and watching the children learn. It’s hard to sit back and trust they are learning but I’m so glad I did as I’ve noticed things I might not have had I not been paying attention.
Little Liss HGF has been sounding letters and can connect three letter words now. This is something she’d struggled with and was often frustrated by so I hadn’t pushed it but she’s been asking to practice and it was great to see it click for her.
There’s been lots of different learning this week which I’ll share below for our records. I don’t take photos of everything but I’m trying to have a good record for inspection time when we register.
Her playdough and modelling work has really started to take form. We’ve been using lots of different types of modelling materials, poluclay, red clay, playdough, and a corn flour/conditioner experiment
Collecting rose hips for a natural dye experiment on handspun yarn
She has a natural interest in sewing so has been practicing by sewing rose petals for fairy blankets eventually she wants to make clothes for her dolls.
We’ve also been getting out in the garden whenever the weather is good and choosing produce for dinner.
It’s a good feeling when you come to the last of the produce to preserve. Satisfaction , Elation , Relief! It’s a hard job and now I have two active little children I understand why in the days long gone people came together as a community to preserve the harvest. It’s a shame in our day we have lost that sense of community even in Rural areas. There are some who try to revive it so maybe in time things will change but it is hard to step out of that zone and ask for help.
All I have left in the freezer now is 8kg each of Blood plums and Greengage to preserve and 4 kg of Apple scraps that I will make some syrup and apple cider vinegar from. Honestly we don’t need anymore apple cider vinegar as the cupboards are bursting but it will never go off and is very useful to have. I had plans to sell it at the Market but If we don’t then it will not be wasted. You never know we might have a apple shortage and I will be relieved to have a never ending supply.
On the bench I have 1 box of sour apples which I plan to make into Hard Cider for Mr Hunter Gatherer and some sour pie filling. I might even do some more apple and fennel chutney as it’s delicious and I’m sure we will eat all of ours.
Yesterday wasn’t the best day in terms of our moods we were all cranky and once Mr HG went to work we stayed like that. I decided that I wasn’t going to let the moods take over and it was a day to get things done. We made Silvan Berry and Peach Jam and 10 big jars of Chinese plum sauce, Gingerbread men, Did lots of craft and painting and worked together to make a chicken and vegie pie for dinner. By the end of the day we were in a much better space and it goes to show how busy work can really up lift you.
Unfortunately we don’t have photos to show you as my phone is on the fritz but I wanted to update anyway before I forgot.
I trust everyone is happy and homesteading. Keeping warm if in our hemisphere and planting out in the other!
Until next time
It never rains but it pours or so the saying goes although in our case at the moment they are all positive things that have got us thinking about our future. Not that we ever AREN’T thinking about it. In fact sometimes I wish we could just exist in the moment a bit more.
We have been living in The Huon Valley Tasmania 9 months now. It is truly a special place with a loving open community, lots of culture, artists and surrounded by farms. We have not wanted for employment since we came here but unfortunately all the employment is temporary or classed as seasonal. Mr Hunter Gatherer does want to give up working in farming industries and we don’t want to stray to far from the ultimate goal of our own farm and working in the industry is a important part of learning. To stay in the valley means a longer road to buying our own. We have tried to find a long term farm rental here as a compromise but as it is a highly popular area and lifestyle they are few and far between or expensive.
Another problem with the valley is it’s one of the most expensive rural areas in Tasmania so even if you did save to buy we would likely have to buy out of the valley to get what we wanted.
We were never meant to come here. We knew we liked the area but originally we were meant to go to Northern Tas to pursue a career in Dairy but timing was off and the floods meant rentals were scarce so we came south. We don’t regret it and in fact living in town on a suburban block although convenient it is not where our hearts truly lie. We miss the animals mostly and the freedom on space and privacy. It’s also not helped with my driving as although I can drive I am a nervous driver with lots of anxiety surrounding it and having the excuse not to drive and be able to walk to town fuels that avoidance.
I’m not sure where we will end up we have options all over the state and Tasmania is truly special that way being a area rich in Agriculture where we can move all the way across the state if we choose and still be close to the friends we have made here that we could visit in a day.
Well as predicted I couldn’t keep up with daily blogs but I am happy because it got me back towards blogging regularly.
We had a lovely weekend with Mr HG home. He’s been working so much recently that we really appreciate that family time. Although work at the Apple orchards will likely slow down soon we have some exciting prospects on the horizon but I won’t go into that just yet in case I jinx us!
On Saturday we were blessed with lovely weather so we potted around the garden as a group and all clipped the ripe rose hips together. The children go to use sharp scissors and garden shears so they were thrilled about the job. As we have so many roses at this house we’ve decided to dry the hips on our air dryer in the laundry over ysing the dehydrator. It’s a slower process but I feel like there is more “goodness” in the end product.
This last week the children and I picked the majority of the apples. I was tired of parrots eating them and wasps being attracted to the munched fruit so we thought it best to get the bulk off. We did a shout out on social media for free apples and had the lot taken. I still have a big box and 20 litre bucket to process ourselves, some left on the tree for the birds and one tree left with sour cooking/cider Apples I’ll get to shortly.
We also picked the last of the green tomatoes and pulled the plants up. I still can’t get my head around tomatoes being a Autumn fruit but Tasmania is a crazy place and the climate here is one of the things I love about it.
I decided to make some Chutneys a spicy green tomato and apple chutney and a Apple and Fennel chutney. The Apple and fennel was so delicious I made a second batch. It would be perfect on a pork roast but we stirred it into a spice chickpea curry and it worked beautifully in there too. We always save our own fennel seeds and the flavour is indescribable in comparison to store bought. In all honesty I have never managed to grow a fennel bulb but I’m great at growing seeds!
I’m adding the recipe to the post today I’ve found the blog is a great way for me to find my favorite recipes each season when it’s time to go back to them!
Apple and Fennel Chutney
- 1 kg Apples
- 2 large Onions
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 50 g fresh Ginger
- 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar ( or white if that’s what you have)
- 2 Cups sugar
- Juice and Zest from 1/2 Lemon
- 1-2 tsp Dried Chili Flakes
- 2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 stick Cinnamon
- 1 Star Anise
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Peel and core the apples I use a slinky apple peeler then just check them in and bash them with the spoon as they cook
- Dice the onions
- Finely chop the garlic and ginger then wack everything into the pot
- Slowly bring to the boil stirring every now and then to make sure sugar dissolves and flavours mix
- Simmer until very thick but don’t let the apples dissolve into sauce.
- Pop into sterilised jars and process using your proffered method and store in a dark and cool place it should last 2 years if processed and stored correctly.