Recreation, Elephants and Drama.

It’s nearly time for me to bite the travel bullet and book my ticket to return to Cambodia. It doesn’t seem possible that it is nearly two years ago that I spent time there, teaching English. I am so looking forward to seeing all the students again.paddy

This time, however, I will be only going as recreation – a short holiday to catch up with everyone. The village where I stayed, was about 80 kms from Siem Reep and gave me an insight to the real lives of the people. After the drama of the previous despots and their regimes, the country is slowly poking it’s nose into the 21st century with the young people once more wanting education, and aiming for great things. This had previously been squashed and I could still feel the fear rippling below the surface with the older generation.

The fantastic Angkor Wat was amazing, and any photos you see, just don’t do it justice. I felt an awesomeness being able to touch history instead of only looking at museum specimens.Angkor

Several other moments were not so nice – seeing elephants used in the tourist trade was offset by seeing marauding monkeys taking their revenge on tourist handbags – abject poverty and people and children working in the hot sun, or scavenging for food contrasting with the opulent hotels for the tourist dollar – rubbish littering the streets and the smell of fresh sewerage compared to the sweetness of the interior of the incense in a village pagoda, were all a little off-putting.

But having said all that, I am really looking forward to returning to a wonderful people.

So what can I say about the food? My first meal of frog and morning glory vine will always make a lasting impression – and it certainly upset the bacteria in my stomach – but, other than the ubiquitous rice, the food was wonderful. The cooks at the Opportunity Cambodia ( https://opportunitycambodia.org.au ) sites went out of their way to make me comfortable and well fed.

I’d love to put a recipe up, but the cookbooks available bring you only the best – and I ate the village, homely food – and didn’t ask the cooks for the recipe!! In fact – even if I had –  they couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Khmer!mg

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just a quick reminder – chapter 6 (of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ ) is now ready to read on my next page. ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ).

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Also, page three ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) has Mykel’s original artwork for sale.Sparkle 40cmx40cm

Rosemary, Elderberries and Desserts.

Before I start – let me tell you that chapter 5 of my children’s chapter book is on my second page ready to read for FREE. There is also a picture book FREE if you request it through my email address – maureenlarter@gmail.com. The link for my second page is readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book

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There is also a third page. readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs

The art work for sale is original – not prints. The artist is an Australian living in N.S.W. Anyone in Australia will get free postage if you buy.

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Now that I’ve done my ‘selling’ – I would like to tell you about the beauty of herbs and berries.

I don’t particularly like herbs in cooking – I’m of the old-fashioned school of eating and enjoying vegetables and fruit just as they are – why disguise the taste I wonder?

However, herbs aren’t just to cook with. They are fabulous for making all sorts of things. One of my favourite ‘old-fashioned’ ideas, is drying lavender and making a bag to put it in. That then goes into my wardrobe and drawers to give my clothes a subtle perfume.

Drying basil, rosemary, mint and sage make for great additions to your cooking if you desire, and it also keeps the herbs for later use. Dried mint scattered into cupboards help to minimize pests,too. Of course, fresh herbs are even better.herbs

These days, there seems to be a plethora of ‘diets’ – always stated to be ‘for your own good’. There’s the gluten-free bandwagon, no sugar chariot and low carbs, high fat bus! Everyone thinks they have the answer.

Personally, I think the best way to go is to keep away from processed food – even the so-called ‘healthy’ ones. Eat in moderation and eat fresh produce. A tasty dish with lots of different colours will give your eye pleasure, your taste-buds a party and your body plenty of nutrients.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but fruit should be used sparingly – it has secret sugar! Berries of all kinds are tasty and full of bright colour. Strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, elderberries, blackberries, blueberries, and loganberries are brilliant for mixing with plain yoghurt, flavouring ice-cream (see last week’s recipe for a delicious home-made recipe.) Even a compote of mixed berries served with custard makes for a lovely dessert.

Did I mention smoothies, mixed into home-made muesli, any number of cakes, as a sauce for pancakes, and amazing popsicles for summer?popIn other words, they are AWESOME and so versatile.

Mixed berry frozen compote.

Any and all berries (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries – etc) you can find! (#freezerstash)berries

Wash berries and pat dry. (De-leaf the strawberries) Mix all together and freeze. An hour before you wish to eat, thaw in a small bowl. The freezing will soften the fruit and a small teaspoon of caster sugar sprinkled over (optional) as they thaw, will bring out the juice. Warm if desired.

Growing your own is not difficult either. Be aware, however, that they can take over, so I often recommend planting into large pots. That way you have more control, and can even grow these in a small garden or on a balcony of a flat/apartment. There is always an answer, if you wish to follow the dream.

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. The last blog post has a recipe for condensed milk and ice-cream – I updated this after making my own. https://readeatdream.net/2018/05/27/recycling-edam-and-dollars

 

 

Recycling, Edam and Dollars

Woohoo!

Back to some more of my loves. Last week I spoke about my love for ‘Classical’ music – from Beethoven to the Beatles, and Bach to Bacharach! Now let’s look at some other wonderful interests.

I love making things from scratch.

I think it is a lost art – or almost. I hate the way we have become used to buying our food in supermarkets. We race in, grab some processed food and don’t think of the way it is made. We also don’t think of the poor farmers at the bottom of the ladder, who do all the work and get the least praise and appreciation for it.

Gradually people are becoming conscious of the additives in food, from preservatives to chemicals, not only in every day food stuffs, but in cleaning products, personal products and snacks. The manufacturers have to make sure that products – even the humble apple – must stay fresh and appealing for a long time in transit to outlets, then onto shelves for display.

I love to make everything I can.

I garden organically to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I have chickens for eggs, cows for milk and bees for honey.

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I know not everyone can do these things, due to lack of space (I have 12 acres – you may live in an apartment!!), lack of time ( I’m now retired, but belonging to the workforce takes up a great chunk of time.

In my last 18 years on my property, I have grown everything from peanuts to plums, elderberries to eggplant and much else besides.

I have made soft cheeses (haven’t yet made hard cheeses like Edam, and Cheddar – isn’t it wonderful that there is so much more to learn), yoghurt, butter, cakes, ice-cream, ghee, and more.

I recycle everything I can – I have shelves of empty glass bottles that I fill with jams, relishes, sauces and pickles. I pick up old unsold papers from the local newsagent and shred them for compost and litter in my chook ( an Australian slang word for chickens) pen. I ask anyone who has old fridges and freezers that no longer work to bring them to me and I make gardens in them. And, with all this activity, I manage to stay healthy and busy – not bored and lazy!

To top it all off – it helps me to save dollars in my budget, so I can occasionally treat myself to some useful farm clothes from the op shops as well as brand new underwear from a couple of local businesses.

Perhaps this recipe might be something you are looking for:-

Home made ice-cream.ice4

Ingredients – milk, sugar and cream.

(Flavours can be added – only limited by your imagination – try crushed honeycomb, or blueberries, or chocolate chips or simple vanilla essence or crushed up after dinner mints or ….. you get the picture!).

First – make your condensed milk.

(1 litre of full cream milk – 2 cup of white sugar – 1/2 tspn baking soda) – I don’t use the baking soda – my son is allergic to all preservatives and extras – I have to be careful to use ‘pure’ ingredients!!

Heat the milk to boiling point, then add the sugar. Stir continuously (BE PATIENT) until the mixture starts to thicken. This can take some time – 15mins or more. Watch it all the time – it can boil over very easily. Add the baking soda if desired. Continue cooking and stirring until the desired thickness. Take off the heat and allow to cool. (this can be kept in the ‘fridge for about 3 weeks.) From this recipe I made approximately 600ml – the equivalent of one tin’s worth.

Now whip the cream until light, thick and fluffy. Fold in the condensed milk (if you haven’t time to make the condensed milk – one 600ml tin will be the option) and any flavouring you desire. Freeze. Serve.

Simple, isn’t it?

Enjoy.

With Kindness

Maureen

panda2P.S. The next chapter (4) of ‘The search for the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page (readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ) If you missed the previous chapters and would like to read them, email me at maureenlarter@gmail.com and I will send them to you. Let me know which chapters you need.

On the third page (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) are the stunning original art works by Mykel. Unfortunately simple pictures don’t do the works justice. They are vibrant and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravel, Elgar and Debussy

This blog is really different to my previous articles. I felt like giving you an insight into a different me.mus

As a music teacher, I love all types of music. My first love is ‘classical’ music – from Mozart to Debussy, from Bach to Ravel, and from Beethoven to Elgar. More modern music in the ‘classical’ vein has not struck me as very listenable – if that is a word.

Even though I teach music and love classical music, pop music, country and even heavy metal has a place in my life.

The Beatles were my teenage idols as far as the pop world was concerned, and the Rolling Stones as well. I could mention ‘The Beach Boys’, Dusty Springfield, Jackson Five, The Osmonds and more. Where has the time gone?

Who were your favourites?

By the time my son was born we were Abba fans. I was determined, as a young mother, to keep up with the times – but rap music, dub and all the other recent music has passed me by. Now I’m a grandmother, and feeling distinctly aged – an ‘old fogey’ if you will.

Now I understand the differences between the generations, and, as progress has bolted ahead at a wondrous speed, I wonder what my grandchildren will discover in their world.

I dream of better things for them, but often despair at the world and the hatred that is broadcast in the media. I know people in general are so much better than that – but the media keeps us in a state of fear with all the doom and gloom they report.

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I try to live by a simple code – smile, be happy and try to do a kind act for someone each day. I also try to leave my little bit of the Earth, where I live, in a better condition than it was when I arrived. If we all tried to do that, the Earth would be a wonderful place, I’m sure.

With Kindness

Maureen

panda2P.S. Chapter 3 of my children’s chapter book – ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ – is posted on my second page.

( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )

 

Also, feel free to have a look at page 3 as well. Mykel would be thrilled if you would leave a comment about his art – or even buy it, of course.

( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ricotta, Enjoyment and Dandelions.

One of the joys I have in my life is preserving the produce off my own land and that includes cheeses. At one stage, Nelly the cow gave me milk in abundance – so it was expedient to use it in any way I could.

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My previous cow -Shani. My new cow – ‘Nellie’ is  black and white.

So … I made butter and ghee, ice-cream and yoghurt, which then led to Labneh and then to cottage, cream and ricotta soft cheeses.

Soft cheese is not difficult to make. For Labneh it is simply the hanging of the yoghurt until the liquid has drained out.

To make the yoghurt I got in touch with Cheeselinks ( https://www.cheeselinks.com.au  )  and bought the bacteria and their excellent book.

Ricotta means ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, and after making the other soft cheeses, the addition of a little more milk to the whey (the liquid left after the milk forms curds of cheese) and heating it – you get the cheese.

The activity of milking your own cow is rewarding, but the enjoyment of turning that wonderfully fresh milk into other products is even better.

And, talking about produce on your own land, with the help of bees, you get honey as well. I have two hives, and that gives me enough honey to sell a little, and use all year. They are fascinating insects, and an absorbing hobby – and when the clover, flat-weed and dandelions flower in my lawn, it gives me the perfect excuse not to mow! (in Australia, dandelions are often mistaken for flatweeds. They are very similar. Flatweeds have multiple flowers to a stem, where dandelions only have one. )imagesdandI just make sure I wear shoes, and don’t step on any of the girl worker bees as they go about their business collecting the nectar.

The beauty of the Australian bush, is that we have flowering Eucalypts, which the European honey bees adore. There are Grevilleas, Banksias and Wattles, too – an absolute cornucopia for insects. We also have many native bees, so when the Gums are in blossom, the place hums.

I started with dreams of self-sufficiency, which is why I got cows and bees and chickens. I planted vegetables with abandon, then realized bees also needed flowers. It has been a wonderful learning experience and I recommend the journey to others.

I am now in my seventies and I still garden, feed the stock, collect the eggs, rob the bees of excess honey and preserve my harvest. It keeps me young in heart and mind, as well as keeping my body healthier than I would have been otherwise.

I have 12 acres, but most of the things I do can be accomplished on a suburban block – including keeping bees.

So keep dreaming, look after your body and mind, be aware of the environment and enjoy wonderful, natural food.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. Chapter 2 of ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ is up this week.  (https://readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)panda2

as well as a new painting for sale from Mykel. (https://readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Records, Editing and Dishes.

If you have been following my blog, you should know by now that I do many things. I am an organic gardener, I teach music  (piano and violin) and I write. I write and publish my own and other author’s books. I will do editing, but prefer not to.

Writing books is a strange thing. The words you write flow onto the page from the brain. You call the first writing, the ‘first draft’, then when you have finished all your first draft, you read it again.pen

And again.

In the process, you pick up some mistakes via errant fingers (typos) the occasional spelling mistake, and a clunky sentence here and there.

On your second or third reading, (after a time lapse), you often wonder what you meant with the words you wrote. Hopefully you fix that, add more details or take out unnecessary sections.

THEN – you get someone else to do the editing. Invariably they will find more mistakes.

You think to yourself – how did I miss that? – but – because you know what you meant, every time you read your work, your brain rides over the mistakes. Seems, impossible I know – but it happens all the time.

That’s why I prefer not to edit, either my own words or those of others.Alphacovers

It’s times like that that I feel like giving it all up.

My writing is not good enough.

I should go back to being a housewife, do the dishes, cook the meals – in fact, I’d even go on record as saying to myself –  ‘Give it all up – just stay in bed and hide!’

Every author feels that way at some point – so don’t imagine it is only you.

I’m here to set the record straight!

DON’T give up.

DON’T allow the doubts to win.

ALWAYS persevere.

You WILL improve.

REMEMBER – if you like the story you have written and have done the BEST you can do, then there WILL be someone out there in the world that loves your story, too.

KEEP WRITING.

KEEP BELIEVING.

KEEP FOLLOWING YOUR DREAM.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. As promised last week – the first chapter of my new book ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’ follows – on page two of this post. (click on the three bars on the left and follow the Free children’s book heading). It is ‘A Kathy Edwards Adventure’, aimed at 8 to 12 year old age group. Read and enjoy. Let me know what you think.

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An art work From Mykel is also available on the ‘Sweetfields and Mykelcee Designs’ page.

Rissoles, Echidnas and Dehydrate.

Oh my! Where has this week gone? Admittedly I’ve been  busy – but it seems like only yesterday that I posted my last blog! Is it the same for everyone, or is time really going faster?

So, what have I been doing? And why would you even be interested?

At present I have a Japanese lass visiting on the http://www.workaway.au scheme. I am a host for three such sites. HelpX is another, as well as WWOOF. This has always been a great idea, in my opinion. A visitor/tourist from another country gets the opportunity to see the country in a whole different light – not just those ‘tourist hot spots’, but the real honest to goodness experience – delving into the cultures of this wonderful country.

Of course, it is a win/win situation. The host gets a little help, often in the garden or such, and the visitor gets bed and food for that help. I also love learning about my visitor’s country and culture,too.

So… that being said – here is a favourite recipe of mine :- Rissoles. Saw what? My Japanese visitor was confused! What an earth are they!!? (P.S. – an Australian name for meat patties).

Rissoles.

rissole300gm beef mince, 1 finely chopped onion ( or a clove of garlic), 1 tin of diced tomatoes, Finely diced carrot, cabbage and zucchini.

Mix all together. Add an egg and enough breadcrumbs to bind the mixture into a fairly dry mix. Grab handfuls and form into a ball. Flatten out and roll in extra breadcrumbs. Fry in oil (or your choice). turning once or twice until cooked through and golden brown.

Depending on the size of the patties, you can make them into meatballs and serve over spaghetti, with an extra tin of diced tomatoes as a sauce. Or flatten them out and make them the size of a hamburger patty. Otherwise, serve with gravy, tomato sauce, extra vegetables and chips/boiled potatoes. It’s an ideal way to ‘hide’ vegetables for the  children!

We enjoyed the meal!

I often take my visitors for a drive, and we can go to various places to see Australian native plants and animals.

Close by my place is a remnant of the rain forest that used to be in the area before the white population decimated so much of the fauna and flora. In ‘Wingham Brush’ (https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/…/Wingham-Brush-Nature-Reserve) we have a colony of fruit bats, goannas, brush turkeys, echidnas echidnaas well as trees such as fig trees and stinging trees. It is quite an education to walk through this reserve and see what the white settler was faced with when he arrived. The aboriginals of the area lived in this with respect and ease, but the White settlers were horrified by the lack of their luxuries and cut into the landscape with careless abandonment.

Koalas are now a rare sight, although kangaroos have become something of a pest as we laid out banquets for them to survive on. (Kangaroos had been kept under control by the cycles of drought and plenty that Australia experiences – and they only breed when conditions are right. The western type agriculture practices gave them abundance all  the time, so they bred in greater numbers).

The only thing left to mention is the education that we should give our visitors.

The Australian sun is hot, and we can easily dehydrate, so always be aware and take water wherever you go. The sea here if ocean – and often dangerous, so take care in the sea. If you go travelling by yourself, be aware that this is a large country and has many d from snowy mountains to tropical paradise, from urban jungles to desert sands. If you get lost in the cities it is easy to get help, but if you get lost in the ‘Outback’, the best advice is to stay with your vehicle, have plenty of water when you travel and always always let someone know your travel plans before you go adventuring!

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. Next week I will be posting the first chapter of my new middle school age chapter book. At this point the working title is ‘In search of the Elusive Panda’. This may change in the future. Hope you follow along and enjoy the story. Six chapters have already been written, so next week is the start!panda2