Crying over spilt milk

Ok not actually spilt milk, I dropped a dozen eggs. There also weren’t any actual tears, I was more angry at myself. The sentiment was about right though. I treat the ladies eggs as gifts. Each one is an amazing gift. I dropped an entire carton. 5 were fine, not cracked. 2 were beyond hope spread across the kitchen floor but the other 5 were only cracked. I decided they were still usable as long as it was the same day.

When my grandmother passed away I inherited her mothers (my great grandmothers) old cooking books. They are recipes cut out of newspapers from the 1920’s through to the 1950’s. They are fascinating. The advice, the advertising, the ingredients! What is a gill? Oh of course that is 118mls (thanks google). And man did they use a lot of dripping in their recipes. I am choosing to use butter. There were a lot from during the war so they have ration cake, ration meals, eggless/butterless/sugarless cakes. Last week I made some Rock cakes from one of the recipes, under the title it stated “Housewives are recommended to try the following”. They were quite nice 🙂

I think though that there was a general accepted level of knowledge in the kitchen. Knowledge that I do not possess. They are really light on the details. I assume that the housewives of the time knew a lot more about baking or the people were paying per word in the recipe section. The rock cake recipe just said add milk. Not add milk til mixture comes together or until forms smooth batter or until anything at all! Then place on trays and bake in a fairly hot oven. No size, no temperature, no time length. No worries they turned out lovely!

I decided to make this caramel chocolate cake that used 3 of my broken eggs. The cake was cooling on the counter when I decided to tackle the icing. Boil the milk and sugar together. Add the butter and vanilla. Seems fine. I started boiling the milk and sugar and wondered if I was supposed to be letting it brown as in caramalise.

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I did not have time to google if caramel is one of those things you stir or don’t stir. I realised about 10 minutes in that I had just been conned into making caramel. I thought the caramel in the title was the brown sugar in the cake. A little more thought about the recipe itself could probably have enlightened me, but anyway (I actually just reread the recipe and those last 3 words should have told me!) I persevered. I decided to stir. I stirred and stirred, I had the most glorious looking caramel colour and consistency so I went to the next step, I added the butter. Within a second the whole mixture puffed up to double its size and then turned to sand.

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I have no idea what happened. Maybe it was because it was salted butter, maybe because the instructions indicated it was to be made on a fire and I made it on a boring stove top (joke!), maybe the temperature was wrong, maybe you aren’t supposed to mix it. What ever the reason, I didn’t let it get me down. Turned it into a very artful cake that tasted lovely.

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Only thought to take a photo after my sister and I had already eaten a piece…

The extra texture of the crumbly caramel was an added delight. I will continue to blindly bake my way through these recipes and see what I get to eat.

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More DIY

As I am quite proud of my hole fixing ability, a flawless record thus far. I have decided to up the stakes quite significantly.

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His afternoon napping location, unrelated to the heater, just makes me smile to see.

My sister and I removed the old gas heater (turns out I didn’t take a photo of it, so just use your imagination). As there is no gas mains to the property and the gas cylinders had been collected, I felt that this was a safe enough thing to do. If the heater had been connected to the mains a plumber would have been required to cap off the gas supply. The heater had not been used for over 5 years, it was unsafe to be turned on, big, kinda ugly and I wanted it gone.

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Also unrelated. There have been some lovely sunsets lately.

I don’t think I quite appreciated the hole that would be left behind….1650mm x 415. It is approximately 20 times bigger than the only hole that I have ever fixed. Plus there is a hole from the vent on the other side of the wall that needs fixing too. This is only about 50% bigger than my first project. I will fix that one first, build up to the other one. Wish me luck 🙂

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The vent at the back of the wall.

More Hives = More Honey

Hopefully.

I split the hive last week. My original hive came out of Winter really strongly. I checked on them towards the end of Winter and they had obviously missed the memo that it was still Winter and that they should be quietly puttering along, not expanding just yet. They were almost out of space. I made the decision to give them more space instead of splitting them as I thought it would be easier to transport one hive to the farm than 2. I was wrong. One hive 3 boxes high is a jolly tricky thing to move and it does not fit in a car which was my planned mode of transport for the girls. Anyway, lesson learnt. I moved the large hive to the farm on the back of a hired ute, challenging, as a word, does not encompass that experience.

 

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I can’t see a single bee in this picture but this tree literally buzzes, the bees are loving it.

Last week I split that 3 box hive that was almost full again (busy busy girls!) into two 2 box hives. I am hopeful that it is early enough in the season that I will get honey from both hives. I took one full frame of honey off them when I split the hive. Made sure each hive had plenty of honey, pollen, eggs, brood (babies) and nurse bees. Said hello to the queen. Closed them up and called it a day. This is called a walk away split, although I located the queen I did not keep track of her so ultimately do not know which hive she ended up in (I have a strong suspicion but don’t know for sure) so I made sure both hives had eggs and the one that is now queenless will make their own new queen from one of the eggs. Amazing huh?

 

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I wish there was smell’o’gram, this wattle tree smells so sweet and fragrant.

 

I moved the new hive to a different location as my choice for the old hive wasn’t great. I will slowly move the old hive to a new spot too. My brother very kindly made me another bee stand so my bee friends are raised up off the ground and the chickens can tidy up under the hive. This is only theoretical at the moment as the chickens have not ventured down to where either of the hives are, they have only explored a tiny part of the farm, Christopher Columbus they are not.  They will go slightly further if I lead them to a new area but they leave as soon as I do. Chickens…

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My little helper, helping me to make more bee frames.
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My first frame of this season.

My poor avocado

Do you think it can come back from this?

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I don’t think anything was eaten, just ripped off and dumped. Not a single leaf remains. I am quietly hopeful it may sprout some new ones. 90% sure it won’t. This tree is in a different area to the other fruit trees as eventually I wish to fence off the orchard area, and let the chickens free range in the orchard field full time. I read somewhere that avocado leaves are poisonous to chickens so I planted this one in a different area. Apparently a high kangaroo destruction area 😦

Sending healing thoughts to this poor sad tree.

Garden time :)

There are kangaroos here, lots of kangaroos. At the moment there is greenery everywhere for them to eat and so they have respected the pot plants that I have near the house. I thought that while there was an abundance of greenery I had time to procrastinate with putting some fences around my newly transplanted fruit trees. I was wrong.

The poor avocado got quite a trimming. It doesn’t actually look as though they ate much, just ripped branches off and nibbled the trunk. It is not looking promising for the avocado. It is in a bad way. The other fruit trees were all dormant and evidently not appetising so have only had the odd branch snapped off. I have put some light fencing around them to deter the kangaroos from nibbling the trunks. I would like it if they would be respectful of the rest of the tree too but I think I may have to share.

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I call this one Sticks in a Field. Fingers crossed for these transplanted treasures!

Anyway… So I am doing a trial garden. There is a fairly scary looking area that is fenced off, I think there may have been a dog locked in there at some point as the ramshackle structure appears to be a kennel. I am unsure how high fencing needs to be to keep kangaroos out. In Summer when all the grass is dead my garden will look like an oasis, so I am guessing quite high. I also saw a mighty fat rabbit the other day. I have seen no holes in the ground to suggest it lives here but it will be mighty expensive fencing if it has to go down into the ground to keep rabbits out and up into the sky to keep kangaroos out. So a trial patch.

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With the ladies assistance I removed all the weeds. There were hundreds of weird tiny little caterpillar like things in the soil. The chickens gobbled every one that they could find.

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My sister kindly removed the spider den, I mean, dog kennel. There was an incident. Something massive, Beatle got in there and dealt with it. From the distance that I ran to I could not identify it. Quite out of character I dragged my sister to safety with me, usually in spider situations I like to leave behind a sacrificial lamb, so there were no creditable eye witness accounts of what it actually was. It took the chicken a good while to kill and eat it. I think it was an alien spider. It was HUGE!!! The ladies also removed any visible non alien spiders. Kind like that they are.

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Spider den

Then it looked like an everyday run of the mill dirt patch. I mattocked it up as I had stood everywhere and compacted the heavy clay soil. I let the ladies have one last look through for creepy crawlies then I locked them out, added a heap of worm rich compost, some pavers to distribute my weight across more soil and watered it all in.

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I have transplanted the first few little seedlings. A couple of corn, a couple sunflowers, some mustard mizuna, pak choy, rocket and corn salad. I wish them luck.

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Rest of the tour?

Nah, it is pretty boring. I will write an entire post on the glories that will be be the wood fire heater. But there are a few steps that need to happen before the heater gets here. The rest of the house is pretty much just a standard house.

The real estate lady that sold us the house is married to one of the only people in the town that installs wood fire heaters, when we are ready he will come and tell us if the one we have chosen is appropriate for the space we are trying to heat and if the spot we have decided on meets safety standards. Next Winter ought to be a lot warmer in this non insulated house.

How do I know the house has no insulation? I decided to try my hand at DIY. There was a hole in the wall in one of the bedrooms. I assume some sort of moving mishap from the previous people. I watched a youtube video and then gave  fixing it a crack.

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I cut out a rough-ish rectangle around the hole, the damage extended quite far behind the wall so it was a fairly big hole I cut. I waited for the masses of spiders to pour out as has happened in my nightmares. Nothing came out.

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I had a hesitant look in the hole. I could feel a cold breeze on my face. Weird. Had a proper look.

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Yep that it the outside cladding of the house. Nothing in between. I was not willing to stick my hand in the hole to have a feel around and see where this breeze was coming from, so that remains an unsolved mystery. I screwed in a bit of wood so that I could attach the new plaster to something.

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Cut a piece of new plaster to the vague size of the hole in the wall. I said vague….

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Screwed the new piece in and joint compounded it.

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I have sanded it back twice and added more joint compound. I am pretty happy with the result.

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I am unsure what we will do about the lack of insulation. Short of replastering the house I don’t see how we could get it in there.

Installing double glazed windows just moved further down the list. Not much point worrying about the windows when there is no insulation. Seems like putting a band-aid on a gushing wound. Lucky I like all seasons as we will feel them all in the house. Super hot in Summer, super cold in Winter. Right now, with numb fingers the heater seems a really high priority. In a month or 2 when I am sweltering, I feel an airconditioner might move to the top of the list. Lucky I love the heat 🙂

Where to start?

A mini tour? ok. We will start in the kitchen, the heart of the home.

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Can anyone say Kermit the Frog Kitchen. Well actually in these photos you can’t quite see just how green this area is. I am too lazy to get up and take another photo. Instead I will show you another that shows all 3 greens that were used and the quality of the paint job.

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I am unsure who did this very poor painting job but it is here none the less. The 3 shades of green are not great. Green is one of my favourite colours and I actually wouldn’t mind a green kitchen, but this has put me off as I can see how badly it can go.

I have an atrocious memory and after seeing the farm, then buying the farm, then not seeing the farm for months, I could not remember a thing about the kitchen. I feared it was tiny with no cupboard space. I was right and wrong. It is small, it has no pantry but it is pretty workable. It is a funky layout that I would not have picked myself but still workable. There were some extra treats that I removed like the built in plastic wrap and foil dispenser from the 70’s or 80’s, the lace curtains, and the weird ugly utensil holder.

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There are some quirks, the rod that held the lace curtains is so long that you couldn’t open one of the cupboards without rearranging the curtains to block the other cupboard so you could access the one you want. Most of the cupboards won’t stay open by themselves so it is a wrestle to get things out at times. There is no pantry. But all in all, I would have to say I am happy enough with the kitchen. There are many things that I will change but they are pretty low down on the overall list.

One of the changes I will make is to remove this narrow cupboard that opens outside of the kitchen and has become a dumping ground for homeless things. I will put some open shelves there to display some of my purty things.  The narrow cupboard below which is currently housing baking tins will be an open wine rack probably.

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I would like to build in a shallow pantry next to the fridge. I am suprised that I have fit everything into one smallish cupboard which opens outside the kitchen, turns out this has not been that big of a deal. It is an extra couple of steps not a marathon so I can handle that 🙂

The green will go. At the moment we are looking at a shade of blue for the whole house but have not found the exact colour just yet. We bought a massive tin of what we thought would be the colour. I tested it on a spot, too blue. I bought dark grey and white and added a dash of one and a glug of the other. Too dark, but a better blue. 18 attempts later, it is totally not re-creatable but I think we are close. Probably should give up and go and buy a different tin of paint….

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And that is the kitchen.