06 April 2013

Slow Living Journal - March 2013

It's time to join in with Christine at Slow Living Essentials to review the past month of slow living successes.  Pop over to Christine's blog to check out what everyone's been up to this month, and perhaps you might like to join in as well.

A few days of cooler weather convinced me it was time to start using the oven again, so I got back into lots of baking, including some bread, Hot Cross Buns (via my mate Trish's The Pink Leopard blog) and the most delicious Flourless Chocolate Cake imaginable from Matthew Evans' The Real Food Companion.  I can't find a link to his recipe but it's worth seeking out  a copy of his book and having a go at it.

The oven was also used to sterilise lots of jars to make Apricot Jam, Golden Squash Pickles and Sambal Oelek (using Liz from Suburban Tomato's recipe here).  I also made more pesto and tomato sauce for the freezer.  Freezing pesto was a bit of an experiment.  Even though I'd read that it would work I was a bit sceptical.  But I used the first of it this week and it worked perfectly!  I also tried freezing some basil leaves, but they take up much more room in the freezer, turned very dark and have broken into little pieces as they get pushed around the (very small) freezer, so i think making up pesto and freezing it is definitely the way to go.
The colours of Autumn

Last weekend I blitzed the shed in the City Garden and managed to turn it back into something approaching a useable studio.  This revealed lots of bits and pieces I'd been throwing in there for a future garage sale that my neighbour and I have been talking about for months.  Now that I've found all the stuff it's time to organise the sale!

The Country Garden provided about 95% of vegetables for March for two households, as well as salad ingredients and herbs for the restaurant.

The transition from Summer to Autumn/ Winter in the garden has begun.  I have started to implement the Planting Plan in the Country Garden, although slowly due to the unseasonably hot weather that keeps popping up unexpectedly.  

In the Country Garden I harvested tomatoes, capsicum, squash, zucchini, lettuce, rocket, basil, potatoes, silverbeet, celery, corn, beans, sorrel, eggplant, rhubarb, cucumber and various herbs.  Broccoli, radish, fennel and lettuce were planted, and several beds prepared for planting over the next couple of weeks.

In the City Garden I dug over the garden beds and then took away the fences and let the chickens in to help prepare the ground.  I've now planted broccoli, silverbeet and broad beans, as well as replacing my bay tree that died over Summer, a Kaffir Lime and Blood Orange tree.  Three fruit trees to replace the apple trees that also died will be planted in a couple of months.
Baby Bay Tree with anti-chook-scratching devices!

The Granny blanket... still on the Granny Blanket...!  I've also been trawling Ravelry looking for the perfect jumper to knit for Winter, but now have so many items in my queue that I can't decide!  I don't know how to link to Ravelry but if you can find me on it ("citygarden") perhaps you can give me your opinion?

Turning the shed back into a studio has inspired me though, so with a bit more cleaning up I hope to get into some more creative stuff in there this year...

I've helped out at vintage in the vineyard for many years, but after having spent some time last year working in the vineyard (yes my time as a farmer is officially over for now), it was great this year to understand much more the process and steps that had been taken to get the fruit to ripeness, and the winemaking process itself.  I've said it before: whatever you pay for a good bottle of wine, it is an absolute bargain compared to the work that goes into producing it!!

I participated in my first Seed Swap with Farmer Liz of Eight Acres.  

After all the time away in the first couple of months of the year it was great to spend some time at home, including doing lots of work in the City Garden to repair the damage from the extreme heat of Summer and prepare it for the rest of the year.


  1. I loved Matthew Evans book too. There are some great recipes in there - we loved the hot chocolate!! Yumm - definitely on the cards for winter :-)

    1. I haven't tried the hot chocolate but will give it a go come winter! As well as the recipes I just love the look of it, such beautiful photos!

  2. Those hot cross buns look fabulous. Was your bay that died young or old? I'm having trouble with my bay at the moment and I'm not sure if they just don't like Melbourne or I need to give it some TLC.

    1. I'll add a link into the post for the HCB recipe. I think it does need significantly more spice than the recipe calls for though. I've made them at other times of the year with apple added which was pretty good.

      My bay tree was about 3 years old. I kept it in the same pot and it didn't grow really fast but it was quite healthy. It died this Jan when the temperature hit 47 degrees and we were away on holidays so it wasn't getting watered. Until then it was fine. The pot sat in a spot that was sunny most of the day, and I only watered it when it was quite hot (or when I remembered). I saw a beautiful hedge in NZ that was made of bay trees. I'd love to do something like that but suspect it would take many years judging by the speed that my last one grew!

  3. I had no idea you could freeze pesto! No more basil going to waste for me!!

    Consider yourself friended on Ravelry... I'm Alpacamundo. :-) I have that yoga wrap in my favorites too.

    1. Thanks for befriending me on Ravelry! As you can see, my output isn't very impressive, although I think my lighthouse tea-cosy is a bit of a masterpiece - either that, or just a bit wrong... ;)