For the love of bees

Native Stingless Bees Australia || cityhippyfarmgirlNative Stingless Bees || cityhippyfarmgirl

I hadn’t seen the bees for awhile now. It being winter and actually feeling like winter, I’m like a concerned parent. Silently hoping for a day over 18 degrees, just so I can check in on them all, make sure the hive is ok. A reassuring healthy buzzing bee off on a foraging trip, that’s all I need to see.

That day comes, it’s warm, it’s crazy warm and the first thing I do after ripping my too hot woollen scarf draped around my neck is scamper up the hillside (err, slight slope in the very urban backyard but who’s paying attention to those details) to see if the bees are out. They are! My little native stingless friends are out and about and there is rather a lot of them.

In summer, first thing in the morning. I can sit outside, close my eyes, and hear a bunch of different bees and other pollinators amongst the tomato flowers. Opening my eyes I would often find a variety of different bees crowding a flower peppered plumbago. The hedge really should have been pruned back long ago but I can’t seem to do it with so many bees sourcing their daily foraging needs within the blue flower buds. It would feel a bit mean.

Ever since I did a Native Stingless Bee course, bees have been a constant source of intrigue and curiosity. Not just the native stingless ones, but the whole lot of them. European honey bees, solitary bees, they really are incredibly interesting creatures.

Gina Cranson

I adore this poster by Gina Cranson. Copies of the poster can be bought through a variety of places, but you can start with her Etsy site if you are keen, (there also now available QLD versions). One of these posters sits above my desk- learning the different types just by glancing at the pictures several times a day.

When we lived in Sydney, I had organised for our local council to fund some native stingless bee hives to set up residence within the school grounds. There were 3 when we left which opens up the possibilities for either splitting the hives and passing another on to another school or harvesting the honey. Either way it’s a wonderful lesson for school kids, and I’m hoping to do the same here at our new school.

Another option for bee lovers is to host a honey bee hive. Not technically yours for keeps, but a wonderful alternative, which gives a pollinated garden and proportion of the honey as a trade off. It’s a winning system I tell you.

insect hotel || cityhippyfarmgirl

More reading and information for all the bee enthusiasts out there

Earth Garden magazine frequently writes on a variety of our wonderful bees.

Awhile back I wrote about how to create your own Insect Hotel, over on Milkwood.

Tim Heard is the Native Stingless Bee master with his book The Australian Bee Book, (he also does frequent talks and workshops up and down the East Coast of Australia several times a year.)

Urban Hum hosts hives if you are in Newcastle, NSW.

Doug Purdie from The Urban Beehive, has you covered for all things honey bee related.

 

 

Seven kinds of lovely

Hunter Valley 6 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 5 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hunter Valley 2 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 7 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 4 || cityhippyfarmgirl

It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s lovely… Seven kinds of lovely.

Lovely big quiet spaces to explore

Lovely log fires to practise fire making skills

Lovely misty mornings

Lovely smokin’ hot tea

Lovely little towns to walk to for coffee

Lovely visiting dogs

Lovely little family break.

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Hope your tea is hot and your toes are warm this week people.

Also, thank you so much to all the lovely kind people who dropped in and said hello in my last past. It was really wonderful seeing all the comments trickle in from long term commenters, to people who had often lurked in the shadows and commented before. Thank you!

 

Connecting with community

connecting with community || cityhippyfarmgirlconnecting with community 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlconnecting with community 2 || Brydie Piaf

Some times having a blog can feel a bit like having a one sided conversation with yourself. You know when you see someone standing in the corner, just quietly having a chat to themselves? Yep, that can often be how blogging feels. All a little one sided. Not today though, not this post. Nuh uh.

Today it’s about you the reader, the visitor, the lurker and the person who accidentally dropped in when they searched for emedia piano and keyboard method, (sorry, I have no idea what that is either.)

For this post, I’d love you to tell me something about you. What you ate for breakfast, what’s growing in the garden, how you trained your cat to dance cartwheels before bed time, the best way to slaughter a chicken, your Grandma’s favourite pre-dinner cocktail, what annoyed you on Tuesday. Anything, honestly I’d love to know, (adult conversations have been a bit low on the ground lately.)

To make it slightly easier, I’ll start off…

Hello there, I’m Brydie. This is my space where I waffle on quite a bit about things that are important to me, things that come to mind and things that I like to take pictures of. While mostly I do it for me, I also do it for the connection that it gives me to other like minded souls who sometimes drop in. Like you, the lovely readers, visitors, lurkers and the odd dissatisfied but still hopeful emedia piano person.

I like knitted socks on my feet in winter, looped scarves any time of year, home-made sourdough cut in thick slabs, whippet snuggles, steaming chai in the morning, permaculture inspired gardens, reading books that make your heart grow big and conversations that make you think in ways you haven’t thought before.

Teas hot, scones are warm, and talk is open to all topics.

Hello:-)

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Scone recipe here, from back in the early days of blogging, recipe is still good to go, just excuse the very average photos.

 

Kangaroo Pie

kangaroo pie || cityhippyfarmgirl

It’s labelled as ethical, sustainable, lean and a great substitute for other more popular red meats, but is eating kangaroo really something that Australian’s should be embracing further, (and will kangaroo pie be the thing that gets us there?)

The first few times I tried kangaroo, my taste buds were so traumatised that I didn’t touch the stuff for another 9 years. Not being a huge meat eater to begin with, it can be quite gamey and a bit of a strong taste. While great slabs of meat on my dinner plate is never going to happen, I thought I should revisit the eating of kangaroo and see if I couldn’t do it a little differently.

The results I’m happy to say, were far more satisfactory, this time round.

Now why did I bother revisiting the eating of our national icon? Well, because it ticks quite a few of the ethical and sustainable meat boxes that many others in the commercial meat industry simply don’t. While there are still issues that also surround this industry, to me (at this stage) it comes out ahead when you weigh it up against some of the other everyday meaty kinds.

A snapshot of eating kangaroo.

  • It’s a lean read meat.
  • It’s wild
  • Environmentally, kangaroos have a much smaller footprint than a cow or sheep
  • Farm free, (remember it’s wild)
  • Harvested in the wild as well, not trucked to slaughter
  • Dependent on where you buy your meat from- some companies only source the males for eating. Making sure any young joeys aren’t left motherless.

Have a look at this article here for a further well rounded look at the pros and cons of eating Skippy. It’s definitely not a simple process, but eating meat for most of us really isn’t anyway.

Unless you are rearing, hunting, or butchering your own meat, there are many questions to be asked, values to consider and choices to be made. It’s the way it should be.

Anything less than that is devaluing what goes on to our dinner time plates, and ‘blind eating’ of anything isn’t something we should be engaging in at any point of the food chain.

While this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve talked about ethical meat eating on this blog, having a kangaroo recipe is.

And the secret for me in getting a meal past my family that wasn’t going to taint my tastebuds for the next 9 years? Kangaroo mince (not chunks), great spices, and the best accompaniment for any true Australian pie, tomato sauce…you little beauty mate.

Kangaroo Pie

800g kangaroo mince

olive oil

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried vegetable stock

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 medium diced onion

1 large diced carrot

1 large diced eggplant

pastry (frozen or make your own)

In a large pot, add a couple of good slugs of olive oil, the finely diced onions and cook through until translucent. Add the kangaroo mince, brown it through and then add your spices, and vegetables. Pop the lid on until the vegetables are cooked mostly through. Put pot aside and allow to cool a little.

Oil baking tin and line with pastry. Add kangaroo mix and make your pie look pretty with remaining pastry. Bake at 200C for approximately 35 minutes or until pie is cooked golden.

kangaroo pie 04 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Further ethical eating conversations can be found here.

Food for thought- the ethics of rather a lot.

Meat, could you? Would you?

loving, living, laughing

Loving meeting friends for a solstice swim at sunrise in the pouring rain. There was a chorus of small folk bundled up in jackets, beanies and boots looking on as their parents braved the wintry watery ocean depths in a nod to all things solstice. It was cold and raining wet and grey.

I loved every bit of it.

Living one step away from chaos every day. With three kids who regularly make mischief of one kind or another and a pup who will chew everything, anything in sight.

Chaos.

Just one step away from it.

Delicious laughing at things small people come out with. The smallest is quite intrigued by babies at the moment, and is looking forward to having one. I was gently telling her, well she had to do quite a few other things first. She has to learn about lots of different people…discover new things in wonderful places. She has to try lots of delicious foods, like eating ice cream in Italy…and sausages on cold days in Germany…

[She has a think about this]

So we have to eat lunch first?

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What are you loving at the moment?

[“Often life’s pleasures pass us by simply because we don’t take a moment to focus on them… Make a point of noticing everyday something that uplifts your spirit or tickles your heart… Stop to breathe in the joy of this moment and then tell someone about it. Share your joy and revel in it. When your joy is savoured, and then shared, it is magnified…” ROBIN GRILLE]

 

Compost, sharing the love

compost 101 || cityhippyfarmgirl

composting 101 || cityhippyfarmgirl

I did this poster for friends of ours recently, (old school method, pen and paper even) They were starting a compost system up and were asking for a few simple tips on getting it all up and running.

I took that as a, yes, of course they would like it in an A3 poster format!

I also did a post on becoming a little geeky about the whole composting process over at Milkwood recently, if you would like to know a little more about the whole composting process.

good compost || cityhippyfarmgirl

How about you? Do you have any tried and true composting methods? Or failures perhaps? Any tales of composting woe that you’ve learnt great lessons from?

More composting details can be found here, and more information on those tiny compost friends Black Soldier Fly.

black soldier fly larvae || cityhippyfarmgirl

 

Long Weekend Lemon and Olive Oil Cake Strikes Again

lemon and olive oil cake || cityhippyfarmgirllemon and olive oil cake recipe || cityhippyfarmgirl

Long weekends,

call for longer sleeps,

longer conversations,

longer socks,

long sips of hot chai

and lemon cake.

Lemon and Olive Oil Cake

From here on in, all long weekends held in June will be marked by the baking of lemon cakes. (Best eaten in colourful socks, sipping chai and surrounded by excitable conversation.)

Recipe here.

simple lemon and olive oil cake || cityhippyfarmgirl

 

How to dry your sourdough starter, and bring it back to LIFE again!

how to dehydrate and rehydrate your sourdough starter || cityhippyfarmgirlhow to dehydrate and rehydrate your sourdough starter || cityhippyfarmgirl

Baking your own sourdough bread from a little naturally fermented flour and water (starter) is one of those simple things in life that’s hard to move away from once you begin. Being able to dehydrate it and then rehydrate it, essentially bringing it back to life again is another handy additional skill to have as a sourdough baker.

Being a home baker, means that on the odd occasion I’m asked for a some starter to get people going with their own sourdough journey. It’s something that is forever growing and being used, so it’s easy enough to do and if it encourages someone to get cracking with baking the ‘good stuff’, well, I’d like to be a part of that.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to first, dry the starter if you are the giver and how to revive it if you are the recipient.

how to dry sourdough starter || cityhippyfarmgirlhow to dry sourdough starter

How to Dehydrate your Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter– refreshed and bubbling. The more alive it is, the easier it will be to trap that fermented goodness and revamp it again down the track.

Sun– you can use a dehydrator or an oven on low, but if you have access to sun, use it.

First up, spread some of your refreshed starter on a paper lined baking tray. Thick or thin is up to you, depends on how long you have and sun quantities. Obviously the thicker it is, the longer it will take.

If you can cover it at all with some fine wire mesh, or muslin do so. This keeps out any nosy bugs that might be keen to check out what’s going on.

Keep it in the sun until it’s nice and dried.

Break off into small flakes and store in a glass jar, or alternatively grind your dried starter in a blender and again store in a clean glass jar.

And now pass it on to someone who will love it as much as you will!

How to Rehydrate your Sourdough Starter

25g dried starter

80mls tepid water (1/3 cup)

50g flour (1/3 cup)

Mix the three ingredients together in a ceramic bowl (at say 6am.) Cover it, muslin and a rubber band, beeswax cover or a loosely fitted lid of a glass jar.

Leave it in a warm spot- top of the fridge is good during winter or just the kitchen bench top over the warmer months. At 6am the next day, add 80mls of water and 50g of flour to the mixture, stir it through and cover it again. Back to the warm spot.

At 6am the following morning, add a further 200mls water and 150g flour. Mix together and cover, leaving in the warm spot. As the day progresses check it for bubbles, if it looks a little sluggish leave it for another 24hours and if it’s got lots of happy bubbles action going on, you can make up a dough about 12 hours later- say 6pm.

Also, make sure you have a good smell of it. If it smells like flour and water it’s not ready, if it smells sourdoughy it’s getting ready to rock. Make sure before you make up your dough, you leave some aside to keep as your mother, which can now be stored in the fridge.

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how to dry and rehydrate your sourdough starter

If you are keen as a bean to get started with your own sourdough baking journey and can’t access any starter, I’m happy to post a few starters out if you would like to trade something with me. I’m not doing this for coins, but I would love in return a postcard, mixed tape of your favourite Wham songs, or picture of you at your favourite corner of the world- whatever you want!  Drop me a line at…

cityhippyfarmgirl (at) gmail (dot) com.

Sorry international peeps, Australia only at this stage.

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If you would like more information on baking sourdough, there is a backlog of info within here.

How to bake a basic sourdough loaf

How to create your own sourdough starter from scratch…it’s easy, promise.

If you have any further specific questions please read through the comments of this post here. There are 95 comments, which equals to a whole bunch of potential information.

If you still have further questions, pop them into the comments and I will do my best at answering them a little further down the track.

Happy baking people!

 

 

Mayfield Better Block

Newcastle Upcyclers || cityhippyfarmgirlReMake || cityhippyfarmgirlbetter block mayfield || cityhippyfarmgirlMayfield better Block 2 || cityhippyfarmgirl Mayfield Better Block 1 || cityhippyfarmgirl Mayfield better Block 0 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Saturday May 21st saw the Newcastle suburb of Mayfield with a little transformation. Transformed into something quite appealing indeed for many of the locals and visitors on the day. What this tiny corner of Mayfield had gone and done on this Autumnal day in May was it turned itself into a, better block.

This wasn’t the first Better Block I’d been to. Long term readers might remember a post on the first Clovelly one in Sydney a few years back. While completely different in what they wanted to do, one thing was a simple theme. They wanted something better than what they had.

The Better Block concept was one that came out of Antonio, USA, a few years back. The concept was a common one for people around the world and adopted (officially and unofficially by many). Whether as permanent changes or simply playing with ideas and getting locals more connected, talking about what they would like to see done differently to the area.

This is a community model of care that I whole heartedly embrace. Watching the whole day come together and seeing the excitement on people’s faces as they begin to visualise something different to what they currently have. It’s exciting and quite inspiring to watch.

Best of luck Mayfield. I think you’ve got something quite wonderful going on.

See here for more pictures from the day.

Autumn, you are confused…and I’m worried

sea || cityhippyfarmgirl
tomatoes || cityhippyfarmgirl autumn 01 || cityhippyfarmgirlutumn 00 || cityhippyfarmgirl

With 10 days to go before winter technically starts, Autumn isn’t looking overly well…autumnal.

As I write this it’s a sunny 26C, the sea temperature is as lovely as it was in peak summer. The tomatoes are still flourishing, again like mid summer. The sun is still with a bite to it that makes you seek shade, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat, (responsible sun use in this country is not something to be taken lightly.)

While a recent trip to the Blue Mountains saw lots of beautiful Autumn colour changes, this isn’t particularly evident closer to sea level. It’s simply too warm, too dry and with that I have a garden regularly gasping for water.

I live in an area where there should be seasonal changes showing by now, and when those differences are rather minute?

I can’t help but be a bit worried.

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How about you? Are your seasons as they should be? Is there rain?