In january of 2011, Our family of five (now 6) lived off garden produce from our suburban front yard for one week, and we didn't loose any weight...unfortunately. It was an experience that changed the way we thought about food and the value of a suburban garden. Since then we have extended our sustainable food production beyond our suburban front yard, and into our local community and neighbourhood, beginning a community orchard and local food swap. One front yard just isn't enough!
It was a beautiful, balmy Spring afternoon last tuesday, as the entire family gathered around our latest arrival...she was beautiful. She came complete with shiny chrome curves, 7 adjustable roller width options and a coloured manual in French, Italian, English, japanese and possibly even Lithuanian.Our pasta maker from Big W online had finally arrived... soon the children would be asleep, and we could begin mastering the art of pasta making!
With 117 days to go before our Funky Frontyard Farming Challenge we got a little mumbo Italiano in the kitchen and made pasta for the first time ever. It was heaps of fun. As one of the items to remain on our shopping list during the challenge week is flour, pasta is likely to be a menu option. That aside, we eat it regularly and love the idea of making it ourselves anyway.
The recipe is surprisingly simple. 500g of flour and 5 eggs from our chookies. mix until the dough is consistent, adding water if too dry, or flour if too sticky. Cut the dough and pass it through the pasta maker rollers to make flat sheets of pasta. Run the sheet through the press a few times again, making it thinner as you go. The sheets can then be cut to which ever style of pasta is preferred, either by hand, or using one of the cutters on the pasta maker. Our one cuts fettuccine and spaghetti. We decided to make a fettuccine. When the pasta is cut, let it rest for an hour or so. We found it best to drape the fettuccine over a wooden spoon to stop it compressing. After an hour, cook the pasta in boiled water, with a little oilve oil and a pinch of salt. Strain and serve.
Albeit a little on the thick side, our first attempt was deemed a success. Belissimo! We would like to perfect the process and would love any suggestions or handy tips. We would also like to try mixing through some basil or beetroot to add colour and some fresh summer flavours. Just waiting for them to grow. Best of all, though, making pasta, with a glass of red on the side, made for a fun night in.
Looks pretty yum!
Our pasta prototype was served with olives and double smoked pancetta that we purchased at the local growers market in Blackheath on the weekend. Delicious. The Blackheath markets are a great option for a day out on a lazy Sunday. Everything from fruit, to herbs, smoked duck, wine, goats cheese and even pig ears were sold. I presume the pig ears were for canines, and not just something to chew on whilst meandering through the market stalls. That said, you do get some strange types further up the mountain... You know the types, organic with a capital O, and home knitted rainbow coloured beanie wearing quasi-Buddist. At least they're friendly and harmless.
One such character, a protector of all things native, became instantly concerned when Noah discovered a sleeping possum high up in a tree near bye the stalls. when Noah began shaking the branches to say hello, (no doubt amazed by the novelty of finding a possum in broad daylight), multi coloured beanie man dashed to the possums rescue, and enlightened Noah about the importance of possum welfare and preservation. No doubt, this was news to Noah, considering our stance on possums and their antics in our vegetable garden. Got to love the highlanders.
Since we last blogged our flowers seeds have sprouted and the buds on our grape vine, pear trees and nectarine tree have burst into Spring. We have also planted Turks Turban Pumpkins, Sugar Baby watermelons, long Cayenne Joe Chillies and some more Tigerella tomatoes in seedling trays and beetroots, Lebanese cucumbers and purple dragon carrots throughout the new garden beds. If you like your coffee and you like growing carrots you might be interested in this little tip. Word on the street is that used ground coffee is the secret to nice big carrots. You can dig in the coffee grounds to your garden bed before sowing your carrots or you can mix the seeds with the coffee before sowing to help separate the seeds, we are trialling this with our new plot of purple dragon carrots and will let you know how it goes.
Also if you are a coffee lover it is handy to have a new neighbour who roasts and grinds his very own fair-trade organic (with a small o) coffee beans in a great big, sexy red, brand spanking new, industrial sized coffee roaster grinder (which we are thinking of breeding with our pasta maker). But what are the chances of that? well funny you should ask... our new neighbour just so happens to do exactly that, and more so, has asked if its ok for him to give us free coffee in case the smell of freshly roast coffee may offend us. oh, alright then!
Whilst our new garden beds still under construction we are facing a race against the clock as we had anticipated completing them earlier. To give Joe time on the weekend to build bed 3 it was crucial that all kids be kept occupied far far away from him in the backyard, in order to preserve his sanity... and ours.
N and G dressed up as a knight and pirate princess and had a marvelous time doing 'water painting', that is painting on their blackboard with water. How cheap are we?! Surprisingly it kept them thoroughly entertained well beyond the expected time frame. It is a wonderful way to water the garden and wash the children at the same time and by the time they had dried out Joe had finished garden bed no. 3.
This weekend we are going to do a 'poo run', buy another two hens and make some home-made ice-cream.
For those of you who are not familiar with a 'poo run' it is when Joe scours the Richmond district for the best, big bags of horse manure for $2 a bag...poo in these parts is hard to come by. Richmond is a good half hour drive from here and we have been desperate to locate a poo source closer. We stumbled on a little district called Sun Valley, peppered with paddocks and poo potential but alas none of the horse studs sell their poo. That said there is a small produce store in Sun Valley where we will buy our chickens.
Next blog we look at planting our pumps, eating icecreamy lumps, and pulling out stumps. stay tuned.