Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Orangello muffins

They were meant to be orange muffins but we only had one orange, so in came the tangello.  These are filling and not overly sweet and a little tangier than a plain orange muffin. We doubled the recipe and made 32, otherwise they disappear too quickly and there are none for lunches.
Recipe adapted from

ingredients to make 16:
1 cup milk
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
225g butter, melted
3½ cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
1½ tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
Zest of 1 orange or tangello (or if doubling use zest and juice of both fruits)
Preheat the oven to 180C.  Line muffin pans with 16 paper liners.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the milk, orange juice, zest, sour cream, eggs and melted butter.  Whisk together to blend.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to blend.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.  
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups - about one ice cream scoop in each.  Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Playing with food dye

The big one launched into this after peaking over my shoulder while I was reading blogs. The results for red were very disappointing, just a slight yellowing, the pale daffodil is awesome and even bluer today, even though it is sitting in plain water now.

Mutato zuchinni, farewell the slug

My wonderful zuchinni Mutato (read more here) aka "the slug" has started to weep. I think it feels spring is here and wants to shed its seeds. It fits comfortably around my neck as a giant travel pillow and was harvested in January 2011, after it went unnoticed - hiding under its big green leaves (hard to believe I know).  Interestingly it was green for a long time and has only turned golden in recent months.  Amazing how long it has survived on my kitchen bench, just a bit moist underneath when I picked it up today.   Off for the chop this week, I imagine there will be more seeds than I could ever use (hello sow, give, grow) - hope one of them throws me another interesting creation.  Looking forward to the zuchinni glut, when everyone is lamenting planting too many on the other side of the world I'm pining for some green or golden goodness.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

movie, play, gardening and laughter

On Monday I saw The Guard at the movies.  Great quirky thriller/comedy.
I had free tickets to use at the Art Deco Sun Cinema in Yarraville, Melbourne. The theatres are so beautiful and they serve quality choc tops.

 L1010293 Davis 

When the sergeant (main actor) poked a dead man with his finger and then sniffed it, I roared laughing. One of many dark funny moments in the film.


On Friday I had an impromptu call from my neighbour asking me to go and see a local play with her.
mtplayers.gif gocfinal.jpg 

I really loved the vomit bit, very convincing, lots of laughing here as well, you're probably getting me sense of humour now.  The two of us walked down to our local bar and had a drink, laughed some more.

Today I did some gardening for lovely friends, it doesn't feel like work, we chat,  they feed me yummy treats and excellent coffee, and are way too generous.  We laughed heaps.
you can see her beautiful garden pictures here -

This is a lot of going out in one week - outrageous in my normally quiet life - a bit of laughter is so good for the soul. 
And I didn't even mention vegie group on Friday, where the sound of women laughing is hard to give words to, it would probably put a laughing club to shame.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Junior Landcare and the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Each week I do environmental activities with primary school kids at my children's local school -it's called Junior Landcare - the classes rotate through the whole school and we have fun outdoors.  This week was 2 composite classes of grade ones and twos.  The younger kids are studying mini beasts so we themed the afternoon around bugs.  We always start by sitting on our circle of wooden logs and having a chat.

First the kids shared some fascinating facts about bugs that they had learnt during the semester.  Did you know a slug can slide over razor blades without getting hurt? or that most caterpillars have 16 legs? or that a spider is not a true insect? Often they teach me a thing or two.

I read the kids one of my favourite books - The Very Hungry Caterpillar - I told them they could finish the sentences as I knew it would be a book they knew well - a happy chorus of "but he was still hungry" was sung and by the end of the book they were reading it to me.

We then split into six small groups and did the following (you can click on the picture for the link):

  1. Earlier in the day I visited our local reservoir and gathered some aquatic macro-invertebrates.  I had some small containers and the kids had a go at catching and identifying critters.
  2. Two groups made butterflies We are going to make these for our front window in April!  Up in central Wisconsin we still have a good 2 feet of snow on the ground right now.  {welcome spring, welcome!} 
  3. A group created ladybirds out of bottle caps to make a mobile.bottle top lady bugs
  4. A group made a bughouse bug home
  5. One group chopped fruit and put little holes in it just like the hungry caterpillar.Very Hungry Caterpillar Veggiesthe very hungry caterpillar
  6. A group made hungry caterpillar bookmarks by cutting up painted pieces of paper - just like Eric Carle does. the little one helped me paint them the day before.
  7. A group planted some freckle lettuces
At the end of the session there was show and tell, fruit to eat and a little time to run and be wild.  More of the same for the little preppies next week.  Great volunteer turn out helped make the afternoon a success - hope we get lots next week for the littlies.

You can see my Junior Landcare ideas on Pinterest  Love the way I can put them all together here.

There is a Junior Landcare watermelon challenge open to individuals, families and schools that you may like to enter. Anyone aged 16 and under and living in Australia can enter. Registered participants will receive free watermelon seeds in the mail in early October.  Great way to get kids in the garden.
Isabella and Sofia Bliss launch the Watermelon Challenge

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Birds of a feather

Birds of a feather
A panel of experts sample poached chicken.

The Age newspaper reviewed the flavour of Victorian chickens today and I was disappointed to discover the one I buy was rated the least tasty of them all. Hmmmph! I'm hoping they just got a bad Free Range Lillydale - usually tastes pretty good to me.  Interestingly there was not much difference in flavour between them, although free range birds fared better on the whole. The winner was:

Bannockburn Free Range 67/100 $7.30/kg
FROM the people who brought you La Ionica comes this well-formed chook that ticks the free-range and chemical-free processing boxes, described by one of the panel as having ''juicy, sweet, flavoursome flesh''.

Read more:

They also discussed issues of chicken breed and methods of processing chickens which may sway how you eat.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spring has sprung part two, Hakea and bugs

Australian native bees, its such a rare joy to see these little fellows, the  bigger European honey bee has taken many of their homes. This is the earliest time of year I have seen them here.  I love it that they have no stingers.

Hover flies , my wonderful aphid eating friends 

 Fly hiding something special under those wings

 Pollination at work

A metallic blue hairy bottom! Not sure if this is the fly of the "Running around like a blue arse fly" fame, that likes to lay its eggs on sheeps bottoms. See Auslang for more details. It looked much too sexy for such lowly acts.

Green arse fly


 Plain old but lovely honey making European Honey bee

We planted this Hakea about five years ago and it is at its glorious best right now.  All the bugs think so too.

Spring has sprung, August in the garden.

 Little sister delights in pushing big brother, they're still keenly earning clicks.

 Partner very kindly dug in my green manure, I did the first bed and was surprised at how heavy going it was, big points for helping with this one! we harvested and feasted on the pea shoots before burying the remainder.

 Duck poo and tip found plastic carpet protectors for solarising (killing with heat) grass and green manure. Maybe some sort of future hothouse material too?  Awaiting the time to sow summer crops, frost last night and tonight too I suspect.

 Pollen filled webs, wattles and pines are sharing their yellow goodness everywhere.

 Second sown crop of peas emerging, they seemed to take forever, sowed some more today.   There can never be too many peas in our house.

 2nd year quince with new growth

 Rhubarb re-emerging after possum attack.

 Bamboo fading, don't think it likes its new home. Poor oldhamii.

 Potatoes emerging.

 Carrots looking promising

  Little one can't resist picking a Correa flower daily.

 Buddleia tree is coming into full bloom - bees were flocking, still awaiting the return of the butterflies, everything seems early this year.

Bush tucker Mountain Pepper flowering

 Golden Dust Wattle

I adore the heady scent of Brown Boronia. The smells around here are amazing - wattles, mixed with violets, buddleia, and jonquils. 
Sweet, sweet Spring.