Almost everytime I see someone on the street, my brain goes to categorise them as either male or female. Sometimes my brain has a bit of trouble, and then I think: “Why am I doing this? It shouldn’t and it doesn’t matter.”

I think my brain does this because it is trying to assess threat levels. But I have observed violent tendencies in both male and females.

Gender is not black or white, it is not binary. To quote the tv show “You can’t Ask That”, Gender is a spectrum between black and white and all the shades of grey in-between.


Harvest Monday, 10 June 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Guava season has started. I have recently found out that my variety of guava is the hawaiian guava.

I pruned the tree back quite hard after the harvest in Winter 2018, so the crop this year is not bending the tree in half. It has also been a really warm autumn, so my laziness in not bagging the fruit this year means I have had some fruit fly.

This is 1-2 days worth of crop:
guavas 2019

I don’t have the quite the quantities I have had in the past to make such amazing swaps as I did in 2017, and the crop is compromised by the fruit fly. Any takers must be “willing to cut the bad bits out”. The smell is so heady and intense though, and the edible bits of fruit are still quite delicious.

I have recently acquired another dehydrator after my last one went on permanent holiday to a friend’s place (reluctantly!).

So this year, I thought I would try dehydrating the unswappable guavas to a “fruit leather”. I remember reading somewhere that guavas need to be blended with another fruit to make successful fruit leather, so I sort-of-but-not-really-followed this recipe from thorseby cottage, except with apple instead of pear and no thermomix. Oh, and I didn’t measure my ingredients.

Cooking down the fruit:

guavas cooking down
This might be 10-20 good bits of guava, with the seeds scooped out, and one apple. No additional sugar, but a little lime zest and some citric acid to assist preservation.

Ta da!
dehydrating guavas

Hmm. Not quite what I was after. This was dehydrated at 50 deg C for 12 hours. I spread the mixture thin-ish, but in a continuous sheet. I wanted a “leather”, but I didn’t want to have to dehydrate for longer than 12 hours. This clearly hasn’t worked.

Oh well. I have had some suggestions on facebook to blitz this to a powder, and then use as a muffin or icecream flavouring ingredient. I’m not sure. I may keep it as a “crisp” for now. Anyway, I have a little more mixture to play with – I’m going to add some more apple, and try again!

Harvest Monday, April 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

cherry tomatoes:
Cherry Tomatoes 2019

We had hot weather, then some cool, and then the first weekend in April was another warm one. APril in Autumn. I’m happy that my cherry tomatoes are still producing, but I just don’t have time to harvest them as they ripen right now (so busy!), so some are rotting on the vine or being eaten by snails. Oh dear. I got the plant via a crop swap.

I also am not eating them as fast as I am producing them. So I made oven dehydrated tomatoes:

Dehydrated tomatoes 2019

I haven’t yet decided if I should keep them whole, but I am leaning towards the idea of blitzing them into a powder. Then I can add a sprinkle of them whenever I need a hit of intense tomato flavour.



This is a little on the small side, but I am partial to a small apple. This is from a ballerina columnar apple tree, either Waltz or Bolero. Waltz I think. These trees have done *so* much better since I dug them out of the heavy clay soil (shaded by banana palms) in spring 2018 and put them into pots facing the full western afternoon sun.

I have also harvested another warre box of honey/honeycomb from my first beehive. No photo, sorry. That’s about 36kg from that hive this season.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this autumn?

Yummy things inside

I spotted this in a second hand store recently:


Schlemmertopf! Apparently in German, it is slang for “yummy pot” or “yummy things inside”. This is the first one I’ve seen, and well I ended up buying it. I figure that I can give it a go as an experiment, and if I don’t like it, I can always re-donate it for someone else to discover. Before humans learned to work iron, we cooked in pots like this. I have never seen one of these before, in at least 10 years of op shopping. A friend and talesfromchiconia both claim that these pots were very popular in the 1970s.

First up, I “deep cleaned” it by boiling both the lid and the base for 30 minutes, according to the Römertopf USA distributor’s instructions.

Then I tried to slow cook a steak and vegies. 150 degrees for about 6 hours, lid soaked in water for 30 minutes before cooking.

(lid soaking in the background, as per instructions)

Steak and veg, schlemmertopf style

Steak and Veg - after schlemmertopf

Although it kind of smelled good while cooking, the meat turned an unappetizing shade of grey.

Next up on the menu is sourdough bread. I am not a confident baker. Usually I start the proving process, then get too busy and the dough becomes overproofed. I am also not confident in my kneading skills and the rigor required to ensure the gluten strands end up in one direction.

My recipe was inspired by the swirling spoon, but with timing instructions from Livestrong. Of course, not having fully read the instructions from the swirling spoon, I don’t realise that the recipe is for two loaves. So I have made ONE LOAF, but with double the amount of starter, and 150% of the flour required. I also have a pumpkin from last season that I had to break into, because the stem broke off and the vermin started to nibble it. The starter was a combo of a 100 year old starter, recently received via a crop swap; and another crop swap starter, about 1 year old. I told you I wasn’t very good at following instructions.

The pumpkin/onion/potato just after roasting:

Roasting Veg in the solidteknics lid

The dough, just after shaping:

Bread proving

Baked bread:
Pumpkin bread - ta da

I cooked this for 250 deg C with the lid on for 20 minutes; then 200 deg C with the lid on for 15 minutes. I then removed the lid and checked at 5 minute intervals until the skewer came out clean. 45 minutes total.

I let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Pumpkin bread - sliced

It smelled pretty tasty. With the onion though, not sure how well it will go with the morning’s peanut butter!!

So dear reader. What mysterious item of cookware have you recently rediscovered?

Harvest Monday, February 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the background behind Monday harvests, please visit the Our Happy Acres blog.

Snakebeans and cherry tomatoes:
Snake beans, Cherry tomatoes

The snakebeans have been described as “cute”.

Bunya pine nuts:
Bunya Pine nuts

You know those pine nuts that you buy from the shop for about 90AUD per kilo? Well these are a giant version of these.

I didn’t grow them, I foraged them. The pine cones of Araucaria bidwillii can be the size of a football or larger, and I collected about 4.5 pine cones – approx weight 5kg. I then reduced this to 1.5kg worth of viable pods, and stripping out the outer layer, reduced it again to about 1kg of actual nut. Last year I only got about 4 viable nuts per bunya nut cone, this year it’s been about 15 per cone. These will be frozen for storage, and then turned into pesto or added to soups for bulk. Others have turned their harvest into a “milk”, or roasted for extra yumminess. Usually the bunya pine fruits every 3 years.


Not grown, swapped. The other swapper was happy to give them away for free, but I didn’t feel that was fair. So I swapped four of my snakebeans and a small amount of honey. Once the other swapper saw the honey, she gave me some extra silveebeet and a ‘bottle gourd’ sample to try. I’m supposed to cook it like zucchini. I still feel like I came away with the better part of that deal.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?

Harvest Monday, January 2019

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. For the January 2019 host of Monday harvests, please visit the From Seed to Table blog.

This sounds daft, but summer has been hot, hot, hot. We had a week of 35 deg C + temperatures, and not only that, but 15 of the hottest places were in Australia last week. So for that week, I got up stupid early to water the garden and hang up gauze cloth coverings over the most vulnerable plants.

Cherry Tomatoes:
Cherry tomatoes

I think I got the plant via a crop swap. My neighbour dislikes cherry tomatoes, too fiddly for her, but I like seeing these little jewels glowing amongst the greenery. This garden bed now has a Olla embedded within it, and the plants are looking really lush. I am filling this Olla about once every two days. Yes, I got the Olla via a swap.

Snake Beans
Snake beans

I planted some snake bean seeds, one germinated, and then I planted this seeding out. I went away, came back three weeks later, what is this plant? It’s snake beans! First time growing them, it’s amazing the growth that the beans can put on overnight. the vine itself is growing over the shadecloth framework.


I bought these seedlings, didn’t realise it, but it looks like the beetroot itself is a striped variety. This got turned into a Sri Lankan beetroot curry, along with some leftover pumpkin from last years’ harvest and some curry leaves fresh from the garden.

Sri Lankan beetroot curry

It was quite an unusual curry to my palate – I haven’t really used fresh curry leaves before, but they do give an interesting taste to any dish.

Beatbox hive honey harvest

Harvested from the batbox hive. These ladies are on the cranky side, so as soon as we lifted the quilt off, the noise level “went up”. I think I’m going to have to put the callout for somebody to take over this slightly hot hive, because I cannot cope with having to hide in the house for the remainder of the weekend/week, just because I played with the bees on one day.

This crate is approximately 12kg worth of honey. I harvested 12kg in December 2018, and about 1kg in November (one frame: the reason why there is one bright white coloured frame in this box). That makes 25 kg this season.

Beeswax harvest is a little harder to calculate, as I have a big 20L bucket which contains (still) honeycomb waste from last season, as well as being topped up with honeycomb waste from this season. One advantage of this hot weather is having my solar wax extractor working perfectly.

So dear reader, what have you harvested this summer?

2018 Review Thingo

Questions repeated from Shauna Reid 2017 Review Thingo, because the actual reverb thingy appears to have stalled on the interwebs.

Earlier “year in review” posts can be found:

2014 part one, part two

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Visited the Great Barrier Reef (Lady Elliot Island).

Celebrated thanksgiving in the USA.

To me, celebrating Thanskgiving is kind of how Australians celebrate Christmas. I enjoyed it. There was cranberry sauce (made from fresh cranberries – I’ve never been able to try that before), the bird, sweet potato casserole, cheesy corn casserole, green beans & toasted almonds, green beans in garlic (because I thought beans & almonds was too boring), some kind of cheese choux pastry. Then a super rich cheesecake made in an “instant pot” pressure cooker/slow cooker.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?

Gratefulness – I thought about doing it, on and off.
100% – Nope. I practiced a little more active listening.
Me time – some. I made an effort to go to the gym at lunchtimes. I also found a great massage therapist. OK, so she’s on the other end of town from where I am based, but, finding a good massage therapist makes it worth it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Amelia says: “Hello!”


She was born in February 2018.

4. Did anyone close to you pass away?

Not someone close to me, but a colleague lost her mother-in-law one year after she lost her husband. Both to bowel cancer. Awful.

5. What countries did you visit?

Taiwan (Christmas/New Year 2017/18) and USA.

6. What would you like to have next year that you lacked in this one?



7. What dates from this year will remain etched upon your memory?

The week that I spent on Lady Elliot Island, in the Southern part of the Great Barrier Reef.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making time

9. What was your biggest failure?

Stopping procrastination.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Yes, in the second half of the year, I did something to my leg and then I was trying to rest it, and I was all sad because I couldn’t get my endorphin rush from going to the gym.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Hmm. Massages for me.

12. Where did most of your money go?


I told you last year that I bought my first solidteknics pan.
I have now bought a lot more pans, and replaced all of my teflon frypans (as well as ones that claimed to be for life). Now these ones are actually for life, even if you do burn them to a crisp while cooking.

The first pan I bought, the deep pan, I have *ahem* sold, because it was too heavy for me.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My first visit to the Great Barrier Reef.

Going to Brisbane to see a production of Terry Pratchett’s Men At Arms.

Eating lunch at Chez Panisse cafe.

14. What song will always remind you of this year?


15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

Marginally happier.

b) thinner or fatter?

Marginally fatter. Too many american breakfasts in a short period.

c) richer or poorer?

Probably poorer due the amount of solidteknics metal I have purchased.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Massages for me.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

The last working day of the year, or what I would term ‘Christmas Eve’, I spent at a BBQ with cycling friends. I didn’t make last years Christmas cycling event, perhaps I will in 2019.

Road trip for the real Christmas date in the calendar.

19. Did you fall in love this year?

20. What was your favourite TV program?

Doctor Who

The Checkout, a consumer affairs show which has now sadly been cancelled.

21. What was the best book you read?

Not sure if it was the best book, probably the only books I read were:

David Holmgren’s Retrosuburbia – case studies on how to downshift and retrofit your house.

The subtle art of not giving a f*ck – took me a while to get to this book. The GM left, and the very next day, a copy of this book was found on the street library bookshelf in the office.

But I am looking forward to receiving my copy of Forage, Ferment and Feast, a book co-written by Wei’er Higgs, one of the founders of Gutsy Ferments. They make lots of different kinds of yummy sauerkrauts, amongst other ferments.

22. What was your favourite film?

I really only watch movies when I’m on a plane, going for an overseas holiday. So…. this year I have seen The Incredibles 2, The Kingsmen 2, Mission Impossible: Fallout (6), Deadpool 2. Looks like I chose only to watch sequels (or sequels are the only things available).

CRAZY RICH ASIANS. I saw that on the plane. The other movies I enjoyed. This one I might make an effort to see again.

23. What did you do on your birthday

Went to work. It made me sad.

24. What kept you sane?

Gardening. Cycling when I couldn’t go to the gym.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?


26. Who did you miss?

A more content me.