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Vanillekranse recipe and book review

I love recipe books especially when they are written by farmers and homesteaders. My most recent library borrow was local is lovely by Sophie Hansen who is a venison farmer in central west NSW. The book has lots of homely easy to follow recipes gathered from other farmers mostly from the central west nsw. There was a big sense of nostalgia reading this book as we lived in the area before moving to Tasmania and I recognised some of the local farms. 

We’ve been trying out lots of recipes from the book and so far the favourite has been Vanillekranse which the children really enjoyed making with the piping bag. The result is a buttery biscuit similar to shortbread. The recipe makes quite a lot so they would make wonderful Christmas gifts so snacks for days!

Baking, cake, Uncategorized

Himmelsleiter – Ladder to Heaven

The children and I bake every second day. It is something we enjoy doing together that both nourishes us and saves us money on our grocery bills.

Last week a friend shared a recipe with me for the Austrian pastry Himmelsleiter which translates to Ladder to Heaven. She had baked it on the first of November as it is traditionally baked for All Saints Day.

Himmelsleiter is a sweet yeasted pastry with the dough preparation closely resembling cinnamon scroll dough. The finished baked pastry taste similar to a brioche and was delicious dipped in tea the following day.

This is certainly a recipe I will come back too as it was easy to prepare and delcious to eat so I am sharing it here for you and for my own reference.

Ladder To Heaven – Himmelsleiter

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons warm milk
  • (25 g) sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons  active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup cream
  •  (40 g) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg  at room temperature
  • 4 ½ tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 cups Plain  flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. Mix milk and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let it activate until it forms a creamy layer on top of the water, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add whipping cream, butter, vanilla, egg ,sour cream . Stir well.
  3. Add half the flour and stir with a sturdy cooking spoon until the batter is smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the rest of the flour. Make sure you mixed in the flour thoroughly and that there is no flour sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough is quite sticky and almost impossible to knead by hand. Refrain from adding more flour or the Himmelsleiter will get firm.
  5. Work your dough with the spoon for 5 minutes; try to fold the edges towards the center, while turning the bowl clockwise.
  6. Let the dough rise, covered at warm room temperature until almost doubled in volume (about 1 to 1.5 hours) or put it in the fridge to rise overnight.
  7. Place the dough onto a floured surface, lightly flour the top, and roll dough into a rectangular shape with one side 15 inch long and 1/2 inch thick. Flip and flour the dough while rolling to make sure it doesn’t stick to the counter.
  8. Cut the dough into stripes (15-inch x 1/2 inch). Roll each stripe into an S-shape, leaving about 6 inch unrolled (straight) in the middle part.
  9. Place the rolled pastries one next to each other onto a baking sheet, leaving about 3/4 inch space between them (the should “grow together” a bit, when baking).
  10. Cover the dough with a tea towel (sprinkle a little flour on top if they are sticking and distribute the flour with a brush) and leave to prove until puffy, about 30-45 minutes at room temperature.
  11. If you like, you can brush the pastries with egg wash right before baking, which makes them shiny and darker. I usually don’t since I dust them with confectioners’ sugar anyway later.
  12. Bake them in the preheated oven at 350 °F until they get yellowish/golden, about 15 minutes. Don’t let them brown too much.
  13. Let them cool on the baking sheet. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Enjoy!
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Spring 2017

Spring has arrived and we’ve got lots of little seedlings popping up in the greenhouse. I was feeling low on energy and almost wasn’t going to bother this year as being in this house now feels so temporary. We know we can stay until our lease ends next July but things are never certain while your renting so I’ve decided to keep lots in pots just to be on the same side.

Our chicks we hatched from the eggs of our murdered hens are growing well. It seems like there will be three roosters out of 10 chicks so I am pretty happy with those odds considering most of the eggs had been in our neighbors fridge. There was no justice for the parents. The council returned the dog to the neighbor who never apologised to us for the loss of our birds and three weeks later he was selling unregistered puppies at outrageous prices from the dogs. These poor hounds were never played with ,walked or exercised. I don’t blame the dogs they are Huskies and they were bored. I feel for them and it makes me angry that people keep animals as lawn ornaments and money generators.

The chicks have softened the blow of loosing our girls and our three remaining hens are very spoilt but we have been contemplating our future in the valley. We love the community here but work is unreliable, full time jobs required to get you a mortgage just don’t exist.  The are is fast gaining popularity as more and more people chase this lifestyle and being on the highway we have noticed the roads becoming busier.  Adding to all this is the fast rise of property prices so we see our dream of a house with a few acres in this area getting further and further out of reach.

Luckily we are never ones to give up and months ago I was hunting across opportunities that might help us take a step towards our Homesteading dreams when I came across Cultivate Farms (https://www.cultivatefarms.com/).

Cultivate Farms is a new initiative that matches young aspiring farmers with retiring farmers. When I found the website it was really new and had lots of glitches. It took me applying three times over a few months for our application to be registered and I only knew that the registration hadn’t worked because I had hopped onto the facebook page and saw they had advertised a 100 acre farm in Tasmania and were looking for interested parties. I commented on the photo and asked Sam to send me the details. When he did we realised our previous application had disappeared and I had to rewrite it for him to send to the owner.

Around the same time this happened I had a new friend add me on Facebook who was in a few of the same homesteading groups as me. I didn’t think much of it when she added me and as I often use social media to connect and chat with like minded individuals and some of my best friends I have met this way.

After a bit of back and forth I mentioned to Jody that we had applied for the cultivate farm opportunity and she admitted it was her farm and she had seen my comment on the post and was sussing us out. Call me naive but I was genuinely shocked! We had built a bit of a rapport and I really enjoyed chatting and sharing ideas with Jody. We decided to go up and have a look at the farm and see what we thought. The farm was beautiful in a part of North East Tasmania 1 hour from Launceston and 20 minutes to the beach at Bridport. The property had a farm house where Jody and her partner Geoff live and weatherboard cottage. There were great views and lots of shedding and it was a joy to meet all Jodies lovely animals. My heart sang when the Jersey cows came and licked my hand with their scratchy tongue and I was reminded of our old cow Kisses and what we had left behind but could possibly have again.

Jodys farm is a ex dairy property and was used as a small piggery as well so it is set up for all kinds of potential farming and homesteading pursuits. If you would like to see for yourself what it’s like she has her own blog – http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2014/

We said our goodbyes with a lot to think about and we have had months of thinking but have decided to take the chance.

It will be a 12 month rental arrangement initially and if we are all happy after that then we will slowly buy into the farm.

When we first agreed I was filled with panic “What have we committed too” “We will have to say goodbye to all our friends here” but once everything settled down we could see the true benefits of this opportunity. This isn’t just a chance to have a home and be settled it’s a chance to build a sustainable future for our children and with things so uncertain in the world there is a chance they won’t have the chance to buy a home themselves one day but if they can stay on the family farm and have a life then they have security.

I don’t know what the future holds but I am excited to find out.

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Book review – Warm bagels and Apple strudel Ruth Joseph

It’s not often I buy books these days preferring to use the library in order to reduce clutter and remain frugal. My most recent visitor our local library I borrowed this gem of a book which I loved so much I had to buy my own copy. It’s rare I come across a cook book where I want to make every single recipe but these wholesome Jewish recipes are the sort of foods I love to cook for my family and the ingredients used were easy staples already found on my cupboard and shelves. Each recipe has a little story about it’s relations to Jewish heritage and what it means to their culture. For the record I’m not Jewish or religious but my Oma was from the Netherlands and a lot of these recipes remind me of Dutch and German cooking. The recipes are simple and easy to follow which adds to the charm of the book. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.

Today we baked Hamantaschen a tested dough with jam tucked in the middle. The result is a bit like a cross between doughnuts and jam drops. A interesting but delicious pastry which made good use of our homemade jam. 

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Contamination Pie!

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. 

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Flat Bread Recipe

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.

Happy Cooking!

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The last days of Preserving!

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
Anne

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It never rains but it pours

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.

News, Preserving, Uncategorized

Weekend Happenings – Apple and Fennel chutney recipe

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

DIRECTIONS

  1.  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
  2. Dice the onions
  3. Finely chop the garlic and ginger then wack everything into the pot
  4. Slowly bring to the boil stirring every now and then to make sure sugar dissolves and flavours mix
  5. Simmer until very thick but don’t let the apples dissolve into sauce.
  6. 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.
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Mr Dandy Our Angora Bunny

We’ve had a slow few days and my main focus at the moment besides cleaning up the constant destruction from the hurricane kids is our Angora Rabbit Mr Dandy.
We’ve only had him a few months but it’s the third time he is growing a new coat so it’s time to take off the old coat or he is at risk of wool block a horrible disease like a hairball that can’t be passed and clogs up their insides.
I chose a Angora rabbit as since learning to spin wool I wanted to have my very own fiber animal but now we are in a suburban rental having Alpacas or sheep wasn’t a option. Fortunately I can buy bags of fiber locally very cheap and I prepare this myself washing, carding, dyeing which makes it a slow but rewarding process.
The decision to get a rabbit wasn’t too hard. We missed having lots of animals as we did on the 2 acres we rented in NSW and Angoras have lovely temperaments and make excellent pets for young kids. They are really the sweetest rabbits big, fluffy and don’t mind being dragged around by 2 year olds but I do find grooming a challenge. When his coat is short I brush him twice a week but now it is long it needs to be every 2 days. He often gets things stuck in his fur which is very annoying and I’ve tried lots of different bedding. Eventually I settled on hay as it’s absorbent, edible and not too hard to remove. The first time I took his fur off I just gave him a cut with scissors and while it was effective it made is fur grow back uneven. The second time I tried to “shear” him with clippers. We both found this really traumatic i accidentally cut his extremely thin rabbit skin and he was scared by the noise so I did a bit more research and as I was wanting to spin the fur we settled on plucking. Plucking is gently pulling the old molting coat out with my hands and leaving the short under coat. It doesn’t hurt him but it is a slow process. If I didn’t do this his fur would matt and dreadlock and cause him pain. I find it ironic that I give people dreadlocks and work to avoid it in my pet!

All in all we get quite a lot of wool from our one little bunny. We are still working out the bunny system and I would like to breed one day but I will probably wait to pure breed until the children are older. We might cross breed with a meat rabbit but to do this we need a good outdoor rabbit system and while the government is releasing a rabbit virus with no vaccine to kill the wild rabbits we are unsure if we want to risk breeding.
We have plenty of time until spring to decide and for now our boy is happy in his laundry enclosure being pampered!