I'll be in touch to find out where you are! Thanks eveyone who entered.
I hope you, lovely folk, have a snippet of encouragement in your day.
Me, I'm always encouraged by a nice fence.
And no, I don't mean melting down milk chocolate and pouring it into moulds!
I mean: make it from scratch!
The first thing you should know that unless you have a conching machine (or possibly a thermomix - I suspect you might get some fantastic results if you could use a thermomix to conch/continually stir the chocolate for say, twelve hours) your chocolate will not taste exactly like Lindt.
But it's not bad!
I've tried making chocolate a number of different ways now. I started with "raw" chocolate which is typically made up with raw cacao powder, coconut oil and dates and prunes. I make this up into balls and they're seriously delicious.
My kids love these. They're really chocolately, and no sugar!
My incredibly healthy yoga-teacher friend Meg taught me how to make these.
Now back to something slightly naughtier that contains sugar.
The very first go I had at something with the texture of chocolate turned out like this:
It tasted like chocolate, but see those tiny white flecks? Pure icing sugar.
Note to self: to use powdered sugar in chocolate, it needs to be powdered.
Next, when I was at the Berry Co-op buying pig food, I popped in next door to the Treat Factory and found some chocolate moulds for about $4 each.
And my third attempt, using agave syrup instead of sugar, looked like this:
They don't look bad, right?!
Anyway, here's how I make the raw chocolate balls, using a recipe adapted from Meg.
RAW CHOCOLATE BALLS
Melt the coconut oil to liquid form over a low heat. Whiz all the ingredients in a food processer until completely amalgamated.
When smooth, roll into balls and into coconut. Store in fridge.
Melt the cocoa butter to liquid form over low heat. Mix all ingredients into the butter and stir really well. Pour into moulds and set in the fridge.
PS My apologies on the WEIRD formatting! Typepad is not allowing spacing!! Grr.
PPS I'll draw the bikkie giveaway tomorrow!
no child at risk
freedom of speech and beliefs
an end to domestic violence
worldwise fair food distribution
and the rest.
But if if I can look on my little precious bubble of a world for a moment, deeply aware of how damn lucky I am, then happiness is:
fresh scones for afternoon tea with friends we particularly like, using this recipe and using up the end of the blackberry jam. LICIOUS, says Ivy.
Manager: will the parents please get the baby off the wall?
Happiness is a simple little life that sometimes smacks you in the head with how ridiculously and incredibly lucky we are. Nutritious food on the table. Roof over heads. Clothes on back. Extended family. Friends we adore. Health. A chance to do work we find really satisfying.
Happiness is overwhelming gratitude.
(And a left over scone.)
For you? Happiness is...?
Some years don't go as planned.
I have a friend who says she barely holds it together through the odd number years but all good things happen in the evens.
Some years might be punctuated with illness, or just pass in a blur of tiredness, and you might not really recollect them at all.
Some years change you. Adam and I spent a year (two, in the end) living in Bethnal Green in the East End of London. I worked in London at a job I adored and took the summer off to go and work on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Then there was that one year I wore a wedding dress down an aisle, turned thirty and got pregnant.
This twelve months? It'd be all PR spin if I didn't say it'd been a stretch. But it was just one year ago that we started the Buena Vista Farm idea. That we might one day have more than twenty chickens and maybe sell our pigs for their delicious pork and how about we make biscuits and sell them at local produce markets?
One year, and we're still in business. Still building, still planning, still growing.
One big year.
Today as I rolled out hundreds of biscuits for delivery over the next two days, I felt incredibly grateful that I am baking for a living. It might not be everyone's dream but I can't imagine why not. How totally great it is to walk into a big clean commercial kitchen and chop butter and weigh flour and pipe hot caramel and twirl Ginger Twirlys.
Plus, to add to the feeling of celebration, our first lot of Spring broilers arrived today. Fluffy little delights. These birds will be free-ranging, as opposed to being in pastured pens.
The fact that I even have half a clue about these things is a year-long miracle.
Are you in a big year? Or a quiet year?
And would you like some Ginger Twirlys?!
Leave a comment on this post and I'll random-number a winner next week, and yes I'll post overseas! (The gingers last and travel well.)
Thanks for sharing this year with me, you lovely folk.
I was at a friend's farm today collecting milk when I spotted AN ENORMOUS CLUMP OF NETTLES!
Oh yes. After all these years of avoiding nettles, I now travel with rubber gloves. Bonkers, maybe, but have you tried nettle tea?
I'm not going to pretend I'm some botanical expert who can tell you all the good things nettles bring your body. I googled it. I was sold. Apart from all those good things, it tastes great! I'm a big fan.
I've tried a number of ways of de-stinging nettles this past week. Always always use gloves to harvest them unless you're fond of that stinging feeling and each to their own of course. I don't use scissors, but you could.
I've poured boiling water over them and let them steep. I've frozen them. I've dried them in a low oven and I've soaked them in cold water. The last experiement, the cold water version, I plunged my hands in after just five minutes and they were still a tad stingy. Twenty minutes later though, not at all. Boiling water fries off the tiny stinging hairs immediately. As does drying.
They've been going into everything, but one of the tastiest was some homemade pasta for a family lunch on the weekend. I had an extremely excellent sous chef, my niece Georgia.
For pasta I use Jamie Oliver's principle of 100g flour per person plus and egg. Mix up and knead a bit then roll out (with a borrowed pasta maker, mine is in storage!) It's quick and simple and a five year old can make it.
For the ravioli filling we just mixed ricotta, coriander, nettles, sweet chilli sauce and salt.
My sister Naomi and I have been drinking nettle tea by the glassful. It's fabulous stuff. (And that raw grated beetroot, segmented orange and walnut salad was good too.)
If you have a minute, go have a look at what nettle claims to be a cure for. Arthritis. Rheumatism. Hair loss. Anemia. Thyroid issues. Bladder infections. Skin complaints.
Nettle tea. Even if it does nothing it tastes lovely, and if you put a slice of lemon in it it changes colour, something to do with the pH levels.
According to Inner Pickle I planted potatoes around mid May. I really need a garden journal that is a tad more specific. Note to self.
Anyway, something's been shredding my vines.
Thoughts seem to be it might be a ten spotted ladybird (of which there is no sign) or caterpillars (of which there are also no sign.)
As I am a very curious gardener and have never grown spuds before, I dug up one vine today, one that had been decimated and that I assumed would not have produced tubers, and in that gorgeous loamy soil I found these:
It's just like magic. You plant an old sprouted spud out of the pantry in the ground. Hill up the soil around the vines when they come up and then voila, a bunch of potatoes grow.
That is the COOLEST thing. I'm so proud.
And just like that, you can feed a family.
Of, er, very very tiny not-hungry elves.
A slice for Wednesday, made by Adam, enjoyed on Thursday. A vanilla slice. This one. Pudding-y, velvety and with that tangy passionfruit icing. Small round of applause.
My sister Naomi's oatcakes. Courtesy of our dearly, dearly beloved Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall (I've just ordered his Bread book on Amazon.) The recipe is online over here, Nomie improves them enormously with the addition of sunflower kernals and sesame seeds. They are particularly amazing with apple jelly and cheddar.
I grew a lettuce! And we ate it! I should say: Dad, Adam and I grew a lettuce as this is a shared garden and come to think of it, I may have only supervised the planting of that particular lettuce and may not have been responsible for it at all beyond bringing home the seedlings. And admiring it daily. Which counts, I think.
This month, she's written a little bit about our 'Game On' challenge!
How 'bout that. Little old Inner Pickle in House and Garden. Cheering.
Hope something is making you cheer this week.
It's very nearly Friday?! Hooray!
P.S. Mum, totes mazeballs = 'totally amazing' in teenage speak. Because I am, you know, like so down with that. For shiz.
In the old days, while I spent the majority of my time hanging out with two small people not at school, I dreamt up Slice of Wednesday. I'd make one most Wednesday mornings all of last year, and take it to morning tea with friends at 10am.
At 10am today I was knee deep in flour, eggs and brown sugar, operating an enormous brand-new planetary mixer at the commercial kitchen. I did not make a slice.
But I thought you might like to see my first foray into feeding the family stinging nettles!
They are YUMMY! SURPRISE!!
Even though I was wearing rubber gloves, all those years of carefully avoiding stinging nettles made me hesitate in picking them. I picked the tops of some of the newest ones I could find over near the hayshed.
I put them in a pan in the fat left over from frying the bacon for the same quiche, and the rule is once the tiny stinging hairs are cooked off (almost immediately) they're no longer stingy.
Chopped it up and stirred it into the quiche. Didn't tell anyone about the nettles until after dinner (except Naomi who's hands are in the pink gloves above!) The kids were surprised then nonchalant. 'Tastes like spinach.' Adam looked at little horrified and demanded to know which exact patch of stinging nettles I'd harvested. One just at the end of the driveway, hello, and anyway I washed them thoroughly.
I am now officially a huge stinging nettle fan. Thanks for all your suggestions for recipes, I'm going to try nettle tea next, a nettle cracker and I'd really like to try nettle cheese. Free greens! Pumped full of blood-building chlorophyll and high in iron and magnesium and calcium. And delicious. Who knew?! Not me.
And then in the fridge tonight I found this:
Yes, it's a slice. Made by Adam who was home today looking after Ivy. I've asked if he'll cut it and photograph it in daylight tomorrow while I'm out at the commercial kitchen.
It's vanilla slice.