Rain, Elusive and Daytime

Here in the Mid North Coast of Australia, we are in the last month of winter. So far, there has been so little rain that I’m hoping my cows, goats and chickens on my property aren’t going to become extinct!!

The ground is like concrete and the grass is dying – in fact quite a lot of it has completely died. I am feeding my poor animals every day, and the cost of stock food continues to rise, as it becomes more and more scarce.

I really have tried to ‘drought-proof’ my land, but it isn’t easy. Although, I remember when I first moved here, nearly twenty years ago, the ground was empty of vegetation – it was just dust. So I haven’t done too badly, I suppose.

ISBN – 978-0-9876393-9-4 Contact me if you would like a hard copy.

Another thing that has been going well is the breeding, in China, of the fabulous Giant Pandas. They were considered close to endangered and now seem to have been brought back from the brink. I wrote a book – called ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ (a chapter book for children) and in my research was pleasantly surprised by the work that is going on in the field. This book is a ‘Kathy Edwards’ adventure, and I have decided to use that type of theme for my other books in the series. The next book in the series (now half written) concerns the sea-dragons off the Tasmanian Giant Kelp fields. And to be quite honesty – I’ve already planned out another 2 books with endangered turtles in one and a more general ‘rain-forest destruction’ in another.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough daytime hours for me to do everything I would like to do. but I still persevere. There isn’t any point in joining ‘protest’ marches about climate change, the destruction of our environment and the wholesale extinction of so many of the world’s creatures, if I don’t actually do something about those problems. I’m hoping my books will educate the younger generation. The previous generations certainly didn’t have any idea what their practices were doing to our planet. I also have my doubts that today’s politicians care either. Their hip pocket seems to be the only thing that drives them. Let’s hope that will change radically in the future. (Although – having said that – if the dinosaurs hadn’t become extinct – we’d still be knee deep in them! – perhaps we should be thankful for that!!)

Roasts, Eucalyptus and Depression.

I remember when I was young – (don’t you just hate those type of comments, you know, like:– ‘In the olden days’ etc) – the Sunday roast was the highlight meal of the week. The rest of the week was meat and 3 veg – every night!

Haven’t we come a long way in our culinary tastes. Even this recipe includes sweet potato, which wasn’t in my childhood.

Roast potato, pumpkin and sweet potato mix.

roast

2 kg potatoes, peeled, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1.2 kg sweet potato, peeled and cut into large pieces, 1/4 cup olive oil, sea salt flakes, 1.2 kg piece of pumpkin, seeds removed and cut into large pieces.

  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Peel potatoes and place in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil over high heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
  3. Use a fork to rough up the surface. Place potatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
  4. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Cut into large pieces. Peel sweet potato and cut into large pieces. Place pumpkin and sweet potato in a roasting pan. Add olive oil and toss until well coated. Roast for 1 hour or until golden and cooked through. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes to serve.

When Europe was still under the effects of WW2, and depression and rations were everywhere, our family saved hard and paid our passage to Australia. It was a young and vibrant country, and everyone agreed.  The influx of migrants began. We saw the arrival of Italians, Lebanese and even Germans. There were a lot of prejudice in those days, and worse still when the Asian ‘invasion’ occurred.

Now we live, mostly, in harmony. And the benefits certainly outweighed the disadvantages.

Before this time, I’d never heard of eggplant, broccoli, sweet potato or zucchini. Now these are common delicacies.

zucNowadays, I grow all of these vegetables, and more. The zucchini is abundant, and when in season, produces far more than we could possibly eat. So… what to do with all of them (before they grow to torpedo size!) ?

Here is a recipe that can be eaten hot or cold (ideal for school lunches, too!) and adds some extra vegetables in as well.

Zucchini slice:-

½ cup brown rice, 1 carrot, grated, 1 or 2 zucchini, grated, 1 small can corn kernels, drain, wash, ¼ cup chopped chives, 1 cup cheese, grated, extra grated cheese for top, ¾ cup SR flour, 4 eggs, ½ cup milk, ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°. Grease and prepare a slice tin
  2. Cook rice to instructions on packet. Allow to cool.
  3. Combine rice, carrot, zucchini, corn, chives, cheese and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, chilli sauce and milk together in a jug.
  5. Add to rice mixture and mix well.
  6. Spread in tin, sprinkle with extra cheese, then bake for approx 35 mins, until cooked through and lightly browned.
  7. Stand in pan for 20 mins then slice and serve hot or cold. Serves 8.

And while we are at it – here’s a yummy pickles too.:-

Sweet Zucchini/Cucumber Pickles:zuccs

Slice 5 kg zucchini and/or cucumber and 5 kg onions thinly. Soak overnight in a 3/4 cup salt in water.

Next morning drain and rinse. Place in a vinegar mixture of 5 cups white vinegar and 5 cups white sugar. Add 1 teaspn of mustard and 1 teaspn of turmeric. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10-15 minutes. I then added thickener.(about quarter cup and tblspn cornflour). Place in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

I actually halved the zucchini, onions and cucumber, but kept the rest as it was, which is why I needed to put some thickener in it. You could possibly add a little less sugar, too. If you halve everything that may not be needed.

And just in case you’d rather sit out under the Eucalyptus trees or on the verandah, with wine glass filled with your favourite tipple, you can even make Zucchini chips, doused in a tasty spice powder mixture.

Zucchini crisps:-

Slice zucchinis thinly then deep fry in an oil of your choice. Scoop out and place on absorbent paper to remove excess oil, then tumble in a bag of spice mix. The spice mix can include garlic powder, grated Parmesan cheese, chili powder and/or any other combination that suits your taste. You can always experiment!

With kindness

Maureen

P.S. – lots of recipes today – nice to jumble up my blog sometimes.

Also – chapter 7 of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ is up on my second page:-panda2(readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book)

and another example of Mykey’s Art (already sold) on third page:- (readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs)

Squidhands(dylan)web

 

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

panda2

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.

***

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

 

 

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.

daisies

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 )

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

panda2

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

Rain, Excitement and Dates.

rainI never realized when I lived in the city. The outpourings from the sky were a nuisance. I had a life to lead, time to play, and I found it cramped my style. It made me miserable and grumpy.

Rain.

That’s what I’m talking about!

I smile now, when it rains.

I live in the country and try to grow my own food. Admittedly, I have to fight snails, slugs, rats, possums, kangaroos, wallabies and other sundry animals who love the tenderness of fresh growing food – but I persevere.  So … when it rains, I get excited.

The soil greets the water like a long lost friend, and the plants lift their leaves heavenward with gratitude. There is excitement in the air. Farmers around here are delighted – and ask for more. Even when it floods, the ground water is topped up, even though so much water always runs away, and sometimes creates sour soil.

I always consider it amazing that I can diligently water the garden with the collected rain water in my tank, but the plants do so much better with the offerings from the clouds.

I always wondered why – but the truth is, the Earth is full of wondrous events, and rain, as it falls collects all sorts of minerals and bacteria that the soil needs. That is the horror of our neglect – that when ‘acid’ rain falls – it has collected the chemicals so thoughtlessly spread about our globe, often by unthinking communities.Earth

I could turn this post into a diatribe about the awful effects of mankind, but I refuse. We have a beautiful planet on which we live and need to learn appreciation and love for our environment instead.

Let’s make a date – let’s create a feeling of thankfulness, and – like Earth Day – and the turning off of lights to conserve the energy of our home – let’s form a time when we all agree to create a better Earth around our small area of paradise.

I am aware that many places on Earth are ravaged by war, poverty and violence. Places and companies that scarify the beauty, but with one step at a time, one place at a time, one person at a time, we can make a difference. I am also aware that many of us are already trying our best to improve the way our society treats our planet.

Keep going and keep hoping.

Start now – in your own small way, and let’s hope we can grow the movement into a huge benefit for our planet. Let’s make this dream a reality, too.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just started on a new chapter book for children. I haven’t got a title yet, but it is about the search for a wild Giant Panda by a young girl. I will be uploading a chapter at a time soon, on my second page, for you all to read and comment upon.panda2

P.P.S. As per request :-

Quick Date, Apricot and Sunflower seed slice.

  • 125 g dried apricots, chopped.
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 cup self-raising flour sifted
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dates chopped
  • 170 g butter melted
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm (7″ x 11″) slice tin.

Soak  chopped apricots in enough boiling water to just cover them. Allow to soak for 30 minutes.

In a separate bowl combine sugar, self raising flour, sunflower seeds, chopped dates and salt. Add strained apricots and melted butter. Mix well.

Spread mixture out in a slice tin and smooth the top.

Bake in a moderate oven for 25 minutes or until cooked. Sprinkle with a little toasted coconut or icing sugar if desired. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.