Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Elderberries - Freeze or Fork?

Despite the beautiful weather my children have managed to catch colds. It started off with a bit of a runny nose and a temperature, but after taking them swimming for a few hours (what was I thinking??) William at least has developed a chesty cough. I've been using some essential oils and vitamin B3 to help him sleep (he always gets very restless and has nightmares when he gets a temperature), but today I decided to make some elderberry elixir to kick this thing for good.

If you've never made it before, you should follow this simple recipe, and the nice part is elderberries are in season right now, so it's easy to make a big batch and freeze some for the autumn/winter. 

Elderberries are super stain-y and used to be used for making dye, so I've always been a little wary when processing them. I was told the simplest way was to freeze them in a bag, then crunch the frozen berries off the stalks. That's the way I've always done it, but today I was feeling bold, so I went with the messier 'forking' method. 

Thing is, it wasn't messier. In fact, I spent a lovely 20 minutes sat out on my patio in the sunshine scraping berries off with a fork, and I didn't get any on my hands. The best part is that because the berries are so soft and the stems are pliable I don't end up with lots of sticks that I need to sift out of the mixture like I did with the freezing method.  In fact, this method was so fast I don't think I'll ever freeze the berries again. 

WARNING: Most species of elderberries are poisonous when eaten raw. You must cook them to benefit from eating them. 

I've had people ask me why I'd risk cooking something that is dangerous to eat raw, well I also eat chicken and no one has ever suggested I shouldn't because it needs cooking. I feel the same about elderberries, but you need to decide that for yourself. 

If you want to know more about the health benefits and risks, click here

Monday, 21 July 2014

Four years old

Can't quite believe my baby is four!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Musical Garden

Behind the scales I built last week there's a secret passage that led to a massive compost heap. 

We dug all the compost out and used it to build our raised beds, but it left us with a massive crater that was just begging to become a play space. 

A few xylophones and some tambourines later and we have what the kids are calling their 'musical den'. 

All that was needed was a little fishing wire for hanging some cheap plastic instruments.

And a screw driver to remove some of the fun parts from said plastic instruments.

And the best part is that now all the noisy play can happen in the garden making our home a much more peaceful place ;-)

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Grow Your Own Food Summit

Anyone interested in learning more about growing your own food?
I totally am, and I'm super excited about this free online event where you can watch some amazing speakers for free! Joel Salatin is going to be speaking and I can't wait. Here's the blurb:
JoelSalatin"The Grow Your Own Food Summit will teach food growing people, both novices and experts, how to improve the world more than any other event in the last decade. Learn step-by-step instructions for what you can do today to put healthy, trusted food on your table in the future! Plus, it’s ONLINE and FREE from July 7-14, 2014.
Enthusiastic food growers and community builders, Valerie Kausen and Gary Heine, have created 34 presentations to show you how growing your own food can change your life. This event is truly for everyone… because growing your own food contributes to improved health and connected community. It’s also an activity for the whole family that builds friendships in your neighborhood as you share each other’s skills and interests

You can buy all the videos after the summit if you miss some, but if you are super organised you can just watch them as they stream.
Here are a few of the speakers:
  • The Good Food Revolution is Here… Take Action!, by Will Allen, Founder, Growing Power; Winner, McArthur Genius Grant; Farmer; Author, Speaker
  • Why Our Current Food System “Just Ain’t Normal” and How to Change It, by Joel Salatin, Sustainable, Maverick Farmer; Lecturer; Author (personal favourite of mine!)
  • How Mushrooms Created, and Can Save, the Living World!, by Paul Stamets, World-renowned Mushroom Researcher; Inventor; Entrepreneur
  • Saving Seeds, Growing Food and Ending GMOs Can Save the World, by Vandana Shiva, World-renowned Indian Activist
  • The Food Revolution and How GMOs are Disrupting It, by Ocean Robbins, Co-founder, Food Revolution Network; Author, Speaker, Educator

If you register today you'll get a free gift, but also an email to remind you when the talks go live each day :-)
Enjoy fellow gardeners!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Tomato and Lime 'almost' Hummus

Tomatoes and limes are a match made in heaven.

It's been warm and my kids are loving eating outside so today I said we could have a picnic dinner in the garden. 

Wanting to make salad a bit more interesting I remembered that we used to really enjoy hummus in our pre-GAPS days. We've tried it since weaning off GAPS, but found it still left us feeling bloated and uncomfortable, so I came up with this totally legume free version of hummus, based on the lime flavoured Doritos I used to love (back when I didn't know about corn). 

I can't really call it "hummus" because that's the turkish word for mashed chick peas, and it doesn't contain any, but here is my tomato and lime "almost" hummus recipe.

3 tbsp of tahini
3 tbsp lime juice 
1 small shallot
3/4 cup of sesame oil
3/4 cup of dried tomatoes (if you don't own a dehydrator, make sure you buy the ones that don't have lots of preservatives added). 
Lime pepper* 
Water (up to 1/2 a cup which you may not need)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend away until you get a nice consistency. 

You may need to add some water. 

* You can (and should) make lime pepper! All you need is a pepper grinder salt, peppercorns, lime zest, dried corriander leaves, lemon zest and lemongrass. Mix it all up to suit your tastes. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Garden Scales Project

We love to get muddy in the garden, and one of my children's favourite activities is making "mud cakes" and decorating them with flowers.

Today I made them some scales so they could weigh the "ingredients" for their cakes. It was pretty easy and only took about 15 minutes. It was something that had pinspired me a while ago, but I just hadn't got around to doing.

You can use any spare tree branches you have lying around, or timber if you're fancy. We used black locust because
I) it grows faster than we can cut it around here
II) it's naturally fairly weather proof and will last several years - by which time I'm fairly confident the kids will have grown out of their scales! 

You will need:
- wood/branch/timber x 2
- washers x 3
- large screw
- tin cans x 2 
- garden twine
- chalk
- sledge hammer
- drill

Saw the end of the bigger branch into a point so you have a stake you can drive into the ground with a sledge hammer.

Next you need to find the balance point on your other branch. This will not be the middle unless you are using pre-cut timber. Find something to balance you branch across (hand rail on my kids slide worked well) and adjust the branch until it balances nicely across it. Mark the point of contact with some chalk. 

Now drill a hole slightly larger than your screw all the way through from you mark to the other side of the branch. 

Placing washers either side and a second one on the side that will join, screw your branch onto the stake. 

You should now have a freely moving beam that spins around on the stake. If it doesn't move freely, loosen your screw a little.

Drill some holes in your tin cans and thread some garden twine to tie them onto either end of your moving branch and you're done.

Happy weighing and measuring! 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Ice Cream Recipes!

It's been sunny recently, so it's time to post an ice cream recipe! 

This recipe can be adjusted several ways, so I'll just give you my basic vanilla first, and then some ideas to mix it up a bit.

This ice cream is refined sugar free, grain free, real food creamy deliciousness that is all GAPS legal so you and the kids can enjoy plenty guilt free :-) 

300ml (preferably raw) cream
9 eggs
1 cup of raw honey (preferably runny, if it's crystallised you may need to hear it gently)
2-3 vanilla pods and a shot of vodka

Separate your eggs and whip the whites until stiff in a blender.

In a separate bowl whip your cream until stiff.

In a third bowl mix together vanilla essence, honey and eggs.

(If you are using fresh vanilla pods and vodka, blend this all together for a few minutes then pour through a sieve to get rid of large bits of pod).

Fold in the cream carefully.

Stir in half the egg whites.

Fold in the last of the egg whites and freeze.

Don't skip the vodka or your ice cream will be a rock hard block of ice. One shot in a quantity like this isn't going to get anyone drunk. Use potato vodka if you really need this to be totally grain free.

Now for the variations...

1) "Stracciatella" add raw cocoa nibs
2) "Mint Choc Chip" add raw cocoa nibs and a few drops of peppermint essential oil
3) "Chocolate" stir some raw cocoa powder into the honey and eggs at the beginning
4) "Raspberry ripple" lightly stir through some homemade chia seed jam right before you freeze
5) "Strawberry" blend a punnet of strawberries with the honey and eggs at the beginning.
6) "Bananutter" blend 1/2 cup of peanut butter in with eggs and honey at the beginning. Chop bananas and stir through at the end.

I'm sure you can think if more. 

If you need any serving suggestions, Lila recommends melting your ice cream on hot pancakes. 

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