Gems among the Oxalis

Oxalis... My foe... It cannot be beaten.

We moved to this house in October 2014. I had spent a month or so before we moved, starting on the veggie garden, pulling weeds and trying to tidy it up. (at 8 months pregnant) I planted a load of potatoes, some broccoli, carrots, spring onions and I can't even remember what else - Not much else and not well looked after. Nothing really thrived either. Fast forward to Mid December and these little clover type weeds started popping up... A few more... Nek Minit - 300,000,000 little clover like weeds popped up and smothered everything in their path.

I brought in the calvary

I brought in the calvary

This is my first experience with Oxalis. All bloody 300,000,000 of them! The bulbs were everywhere, multiplying before my eyes in an area of 12 metres by 4 metres! I gave up. I had a newborn and although I thought I would continue my garden as wonder woman, the oxalis well and truly won this round. I even trying employing the help of my chickens! They loved the dock but like hell were they touching those sour oxalis bulbs! 

My carpet of oxalis at the back of the garden.

My carpet of oxalis at the back of the garden.

So as you may have read by my first gardening post - I bit the bullet and over winter I made 4 raised gardens and carted paddock dirt for miles to fill them up.

Less posed selfies and more unflattering arse pics by miss 3.5

Less posed selfies and more unflattering arse pics by miss 3.5

I still haven't won over the oxalis but I have started to control it.

Right now I am harvesting zucchini, the last of the peas, spinach and lettuce, the odd broccoli (The ones that didn't bolt and go to seed), spring onions, garlic, the odd surviving potato, raspberries, strawberries, kale and silverbeet. Which sounds great but I didn't keep up with my succession planting so It's not going to last quite as well as I had hoped!

It's not perfect - there are weeds. I keep forgetting to water it. The tomato plants are not as good as they should be. The pumpkins are more or less dead. The broccoli keeps bolting in the changeable weather and the potatoes got killed by who knows what.

But hey, some on has to show an honest garden right!?

In an ideal world, the picture above is how I would love the whole garden to look, year round. (minus the spinach-going-to-seed part).

I foolishly planted 4 zucchini plants this year and I'm picking one a day at least. Luckily the whole family loves them as we use them in everything. With a roast, fried with garlic and butter, grown out to a marrow and stuffed with mince then baked, make into fritters, a raw zucchini summer salad and more.

My purple and green beans are doing OK. They were planted a little late but just getting into it now.

The snow peas and sugar snaps are coming to the end of their season now so I am starting to leave a few to dry off on the plants to harvest their seeds for next year. Same with the currently flowering sweet peas.

The photos below are, from left to right, 'Love in a mist' flowers, Bright lights silverbeet, broccoli and Kale - gone to seed. It looks a little scruffy in the garden but letting a plant of each species go to seed is something I am making sure I do so that year after year to help the cost of my garden go down. The flowers also attract bees so it is a win, win, win situation!

To harvest seeds from your plants - allow them to go to flower, die then dry up. Each plant will form a type of pod or seed-like structure where each flower was. Make sure they are 100% dry before you store them in paper envelopes or glass jars to help prevent them going mouldy.

Oops, the leaves broke off as I was pulling it out!

Oops, the leaves broke off as I was pulling it out!

Garlic for me is one of my most precious crops. In the past it has been very hit and miss and already this is by far the best crop I have ever had - It was even planted a month late (It should be planted on the shortest day)

I planted 102 bulbs this year and had 96 strike - That is a very satisfying success rate! I fed them blood and bone and Seasol from time to time (When I remembered) and pulled this one today as the first one to get a better look. The soil was too dry for pulling, hence the ripped of leaves but I'm happy! Now if only my tomatoes were growing as well to pair them with....

A few gems include a large amount of raspberries that are netted, my first ever sweet peas that smell as lovely as they look, a few sunflowers that didn't like being transplanted very much and the strawberry patch (which is quite slow and I must feed more)

The strawberries have done some funny things this year which I partially put down to the changeable weather, 10 degrees one day and 34 the next. It has meant they are all preferring to throw out runners rather than produce a lot of fruit. I don't feel like there is a lot that can be done about it so I am letting them go for it in the hopes of a better crop next year.

My corn looks terrible and please note the top right photo - My first ever spaghetti squash!!

My first ever successful cucumbers 

My first ever successful cucumbers 

I am hoping these are the pickle cucumbers rather than the apple ones!

I am hoping these are the pickle cucumbers rather than the apple ones!

As you can tell, I'm no pro but I do love giving everything a shot. This year I am going to endeavour to record my garden movements all in the New Zealand Gardener, Garden Diary so  I know what i did well, what I didn't do well, when I planted everything and what I fed each plant. Fingers crossed it helps me improve year to year.

In the mean time - get out there, pull some weeds, plant some seeds and watch 'em grow!

What to grow, when: This is a website I really like and is quite comprehensive based on area, Garden Grow.


Tips + Tricks

- Grate and freeze your excess zucchini. When you defrost it to use just squeeze out the excess moisture and add to any mince dishes, cakes, sweet or savoury muffins or my personal fave, Chelsea Winters zucchini and corn fritters with feta and herbs!

- Succession plant! I wish I would take my own advice here. Plant 2 broccoli (any any of your favourite brassica) seeds every week. Plant a row of carrots every month. Spring onions and beetroot - keep 'em coming!

- Let one plant of each species go to seed to help save money on next years garden


Deerly Beloved - A gift box with a difference!

I have a secret weapon to show you.

I don't know about you but I'm at the age and stage where babies are popping out left, right and centre!

Thing is, I am time poor and it's only getting worse - so I have a wee trick and tool to share with you to get something beautiful and useful for a pregnant friend, employee or family member, with little effort, allowing more time to actually spend with Mum and bub or get some meals ready for them. We all know flowers are lovely to have and look at but why not provide a practical point of difference?

 

 

Deerly Beloved was created in 2015 by Ange Blair, a Mum living rurally who, after having 2 wee girls, understands the needs of a new mum and set out to come up with all a mums needs, in one carefully chosen and delivered box! 

Ange is based in South Canterbury and knows that living rurally can really limit your access to quality goods and boutique products. In saying that, living in the middle of a city still doesn't mean you have the time to shop around, or the knowledge of what is truly useful! 

Hunter having a rough teething day enjoying Fanfan the Fawn - a 100% latex rubber, painted with food grade paint and made in France.

Hunter having a rough teething day enjoying Fanfan the Fawn - a 100% latex rubber, painted with food grade paint and made in France.


Ange has carefully chosen the products that go in her gift boxes and has made an effort to support NZ owned and operated businesses as well as products from mums like herself, creating fantastic products from home.

Carefully made, local chocolate from Coco chocolates of Geraldine feature with high cocoa content to provide snacks for new mums without flooding them with sugar. Deluxe herbal teas from 't leaf T' - made in Lower Hutt also feature - but aren't just a regular tea. Check out this feijoa blend! Real dried feijoa nestled among green tea leaves and rose petals! - It's just as great tasting as it is beautiful  (it also makes an outstanding kombucha!)

After Miss 4 got her sticky mitts on it

After Miss 4 got her sticky mitts on it

Mum2Mum is another brand that features suitably through out the boxes and as a brand was created by 2 kiwi mums back in 2004 - They are an award winning company and not only is it great to support local mums - They genuinely have fantastic products, that I have used personally, for the past 4 years!

 

Ecostore products are also another product I would happily endorse through personal use and have used their baby body wash for both of my kids. In my box I received that baby wash, the peppermint lip balm and  bar of baby soap - all very useful if I can keep Izzy from getting into the lip balm and not use it like a crayon!

and this was only half of it!!

and this was only half of it!!

The gift boxes range in price from $65 to $150 depending on how much you would like to include - They prove to be real value for money and allow personalisation by way of a card - and I'm sure Ange wouldn't mind talking through the box with you and being able to choose colours and flavour

 

So in a nutshell, I think this is a fantastic service, full of fantastic products, and all about supporting local which is a huge personal drawcard for me.

If you want to chat with Ange about your options, click here for her contact details or get in touch through her Facebook page here!

 

 

Orokonui Ecosanctuary, Dunedin

I was lucky enough to be shown a real gem last week that I previously knew nothing about, in the form of the Orokonui Ecosanctuary just north of Dunedin.

Orokonui is a 307Ha, predator free, native filled, ecosanctuary based near coastal Dunedin and contains a large majority of New Zealands protected birds and plants and more.

An example of the predator free fencing

An example of the predator free fencing

On Thursday I had a meeting here at Orokonui followed by a lovely lunch at the Horopito Cafe, then a guided tour of the area from the Tuatara enclosure to the Long Fin Eel pond to the Otago skinks.

 

Shown below as the Tuatara, the Otago Skink, the Green Jeweled Gecko (about to shed hence the dull colour) and another Otago Skink out basking in the sun

As well as the very knowledgeable guide who took us through, I was lucky enough to have a walking, talking, bundle of knowledge in the form of Janet Gregory who I work with at Landcare. I certainly felt like I came out a lot more intelligent that when I walked in and can confidently identify a whole bunch of native trees and plants.

Can you guess what this is? Hint: It numbs and burns!

Can you guess what this is? Hint: It numbs and burns!

 Our guide pulled out some pieces of leaf for us to have a taste and identify with the instruction of chew 3 times and spit it out. Naturally I did not spit it out after 3 chews and chewed away for 30 seconds or so... Not the best idea - It was Horopito! (aka Pepper plant/Pepperwood) 

Horopito has a number of uses and was used as a traditional Maori medicinal herb with anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy and bug repellent properties as well as numbing and assisting with tooth ache! It's also used for cooking and has a pepper-like taste.

Greenhood Orchid

Greenhood Orchid

This crazy creature is another new plant to me and is called a 'Greenhood Orchid'. They live down on shady forest floors and eat bugs that are attracted to their sugary insides

The bird life and sounds were spectacular too. Tuis, Bellbirds, TomTits and Wood Pidgeons - even a new baby Takahe if you are in the right place at the right time!

Spot the Tui?  

Spot the Tui?

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this place and would highly recommend a visit for the school holidays! If your kids are old enough to really take it in then I would suggest a guided tour to really get the most out of the experience.

307 Hectares of beauty

307 Hectares of beauty




For more information and bookings, check out http://orokonui.nz/

 

The drive from Dunedin to Orokonui is only 25 minutes.

I drove it yesterday from Timaru in about 2.5 hours (add on a little more for when you stop in at Riverstone Kitchen of course)

From Oamaru it will take about 1hr20min 

Apple Cider - Au Natural!

Well well well... Do I have a recipe for you!! 

I have used this recipe for 3 years now using local apples from near unused orchards where we have been lucky enough to live. I tend to use tart cooking apples to help combat the sugar needed for the alcohol fermentation

Whole blended apples into pulp

Whole blended apples into pulp

This recipe does take a little time - around 2 weeks from freezing the apples until bottling but it's not complex in the slightest. It can be drunk as sparkling apple juice between week 1 and 3 or as a cider after about 3 months. I cracked open a bottle 2 nights ago that is 18 months old! Brilliant too.

Pulp strained out through muslin cloth

Pulp strained out through muslin cloth

You don't need to add any yeast to this recipe as there will be enough natural yeast floating around the air and on the apple skins.

Pulp gone, Time to add the lemon

Pulp gone, Time to add the lemon

4 Lemons worth of rind pre-juicing

4 Lemons worth of rind pre-juicing

Juice the lemons by hand if you don't have a juicer

Juice the lemons by hand if you don't have a juicer

Ready to start the second ferment

Ready to start the second ferment

I had a play with flavours for a bit of variety 

I had a play with flavours for a bit of variety 

Apple Cider

MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE - DO NOT STORE IN GLASS BOTTLES!

Yes, I found this out the hard way with shattered glass bottles and sticky cider for miles...

 

1.5kg Frozen Cooking Apples

6L Water

800gm White Sugar

3 Lemons - Rind and Juice

 

1. Freeze the apples in plastic bags for 3 days (minimum).  Take out and chop them roughly into 4's before putting them in a food processor. (Seeds, skin and all) Add some of you 6L of water as you blend to have them move and break down. 

2. Place the pulp and the rest of the water in a clean, 10L bucket and cover it with a tea towel for 7 days - giving a good stir each morning and night. Strain the pulp out using cheese/muslin/mutton cloth, reserving the liquid and giving the apple to the chooks or pigs.

3. Return the juice to the bucket and add in the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add grated lemon rind and juice. Leave for 48 hours.

4. Strain and bottle into recycled plastic bottles, leaving about 2 inches of air and then squeeze that air out before putting the lid on.

Drink between week 1 and 3 as sparkling apple juice or leave it for at least 3 months for it to turn clear and ferment fully.

BEWARE - They are EXPLOSIVE and can take 5 slow minutes to fully un-cap. This is likely to bring up some sediment from the bottom so it would pay to leave it sit in the fridge uncapped for as long as you can bear to resettle

 

TIPS:

Don't be afraid to play with flavourings! (add in at the first ferment)

Fresh sliced GINGER and fresh THYME

Orange and Thyme

Pear instead of or mixed with the apples

Add berries or rhubarb in the first ferment

Spiced, like cinnamon sticks and vanilla pods

Mulled - Cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, honey an Orange

 

Or take some further inspiration from the range of flavours currently on the market. This year I plan to try replacing out some of the white sugar for honey which should give it a brilliant flavour and creaminess

 

 

House Reno Part 2/3 - Bathroom + Bath restoration

The Bathroom....

The bathroom after demo

The bathroom after demo

The bathroom was a major bargaining tool in this house purchase. It didn't look like this when we first took a look but it was still pretty horrendous. The walls were primed as you can see here above the missing gib and there was a cast iron bath along the back wall with an awkward basin sitting at the end of it to the right (sadly the 'before' photos are on a now defunct phone)

The real problem in there was the trampoline-like floor! All around the bath the floor was completely rotten and with no under floor house access due to concrete solid piles between each room, we had to take a punt! Luckily, once we got in behind the floor and walls, it was bad but not unfixable.

With a 105 year old house we knew it was going to need to be entirely re-wired and that insulation would be an issue with its lovely aged, but draughty wooden floors but it was quite interesting to see the old building techniques and amazed at all the work that has gone into the walls as shown here and sealed with lathen plaster

Gorgeous huh! ;) As you can see here on the right, solid concrete separates every room making underfloor insulation near impossible without a fortune have to go into making holes in the floor of every room. 

The bathroom is only a very small 2.1 metres by 2.3 metres so that had its upsides and downsides. Cost wise it helped us in that less gib, less flooring, less vinyl, less work. I have to make a special mention to my inlaws for this bathroom. They were the ones to rip off the walls, the floor, remove rotten wood and replace it with new, they did half of the new gib (the tidy half) and alot of the plastering. So they saved us a fortune in time and money and knowledge!

Kerry and Paul kicking some ass while saving ours.

Kerry and Paul kicking some ass while saving ours.

I do think that by the time they were done there was a sigh of relief as moving the newly restored, cast iron, claw foot bath quietly tested their patience...

The master gib-stopper! The house LOVED this stuff - used a whole bucket!

The master gib-stopper! The house LOVED this stuff - used a whole bucket!

The Bath.....

I haven't decided yet whether this was a good idea or a terrible one, or if I would do it again...

I brought a cast iron, claw foot bath, filling with rust and chipped all over for $120 and picked it up from Dunedin (though actually all the way from Ohai) I figured that surely it would scrub up no problem and that the over all look would be PERFECT and a real feature for a house older than 100 years old...

Easy! Right?

Easy! Right?

  This is what I was faced with. Note that the photo of the feet above was AFTER I had given them a hefty dose of rust converter and scrubbed them down with a wire brush. Before that they had layers of cream and mint paint with rust on every paint free patch.

The inside was severely discoloured and rusted from years of neglect and the outside had seen many coats of paint along with some deep chips along the rim.

My next step was to use some more potent rust converter on the inside of the bath and around the brass plug hole, followed by some meths and an overall light sand of the the entire interior. (If I do this again I will sand the inside of the bath more thoroughly and a little more)

The outside got a similar treatment with a more thorough sanding in preparation for a paint

Propped up in the garage for work

Propped up in the garage for work

After its first coat of kill rust spray paint

After its first coat of kill rust spray paint

Please note that I hate spending money and a quote to get the bath professionally refurbished ranges from $500-$700. I did a bit of research and found that you can buy a 'Bath and Tile' specific paint for over $100 from mitre 10, but I was still determined I could work it out cheaper.

I looked into the bath and tile ingredients and searched for similar products which is when I came up with good old car paint! Which makes a lot of sense too and at $15-$17/can (needing 2 minimum for the state the bath was in)

These are the products I used:

- Wattyl Kill Rust x2 for $17/can (Supercheap Auto)

- Selleys Appliance fix for the chipped edges $19 (Mitre 10)

- Septone Rust Converter $20 (Supercheap Auto)

- Hammerite Smooth Silver Metal Paint for feet $19 (Mitre 10)

- You will also need a sturdy wire brush, some fine sandpaper and a fine bristled paintbrush

 

I ended up with loads of rust converter and silver paint left over (Great for painting the tips of pinecones as Christmas decorations)

As it was fitted after coat number 2

As it was fitted after coat number 2

Before the bath was fitted I painted the exterior with the dark grey 'Caroline Bay' paint that I had used through the rest of the house.

As you can see - it could have benefited from a 3rd coat of white or a more talented spray painter but for a rental property I was happy with the outcome and may look at a 3rd coat when we go to sell it one day.

I would also removed the brass plug fitting and polish it up pre-paint and put it back once fitted as I ended up just painting straight over it.

It took four or us plenty of sweat and stress to get in up around the back of the house and inside and I think the inlaws were cursing me towards the end. I MAY have promised them I won't do a cast iron bath for the next one but I'm not sure if I was serious just yet.

I feel it was worth it and I love the bath. Time will tell how well my job hold us but the total cost of refurb was about $80 + the bath cost of $120 - bringing us to a grand total of $200 for a character bath that suits the house beautifully. 

 

Tips and Tricks:

- Don't skimp on preparation

- Use the appliance fix paint AFTER the spray paint as it caused it to peel and react the other way around so I had to clean it off and start that area over

- Remove the plug hole first

- Wear a face mask!! Seriously - my nostrils were white and stuck together for a day afterwards, i'd hate to think how many precious brain cells i lost!!

- Get at least 4 people together to move the sucker around and use my life/back saving idea of sliding it around on old carpet once inside!

 

FEEL FREE TO FLICK ME A MESSAGE THROUGH THE FACEBOOK PAGE OR THOUGH THE COMMENTS HERE IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, TIPS OR OBSERVATIONS .

Check out Part 1 of the renovation series under 'adventures, renovation or upcycling' - Purchase and Painting!

 

x

 

Easiest Ciabatta... Ever... (seriously)

This Ciabatta is a winner - I promise!

It's so versatile too. Think buns for burgers or open steak sandwiches. Think garlic bread Oozing with garlic butter and rock salt. Think an easy Pizza base or dress it up Focaccia style with finger holes and olives. The options are only limited by your imagination!

Pre-rise dough

Pre-rise dough

This ciabatta has gone around Farming Mums NZ a few times now and I have never heard about a failure yet. The picture above is how it should look immediately after it has been thrown together - don't panic if your mix is a little wetter or drier - It will still come together.

Drizzled with olive oil and left to rise for a minimum of 1 hour in a nice warm place and this is how it should look. Puffy, bubbly and oozing in deliciousness.

Now I'm pretty flexible when it comes to toppings but this one is a favourite. The fact we have an enormous rosemary bush means that we thrash it around here and with it being in flower at the moment and drawing bees left right and centre it is particularly pretty right now.

Today I've gone with chopped fresh rosemary and garlic salt but don't just stop there.

- Olives and garlic

- Olives and fresh oregano

- Garlic oil and sesame seeds

- Dolloped in herb butter

- Sundried tomatoes

- Caramelised onions and cheese

 

Fresh rosemary and garlic salt!

Fresh rosemary and garlic salt!

With being so low carb focused and two family members with celiacs tests on the horizon this has been a little ignored lately so it's time to wake the beast...

 

 

Ciabatta

500gm plain flour

2 tsp himalayan pink salt

1 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp of yeast granules

425ml of warm water

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

 

Chuck the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and warm water together in a large bowl and mix together well until fully incorporated. 

Pour the olive oil over the dough.

Sit somewhere warm from a minimum of 1 hours or up to 10 (much longer and it will be OK but will collapse back down)

Pour out onto a lined baking tray and bake for 200 degrees Celsius for 30-45 minutes or until your desired level of colour is achieved.

Serve hot smothered in butter!.... or any other way you like. 

Enjoy ;) 

Pioneer Park Adventure

Save the bush, it's the soul of the land. - P.H. Johnson

This quote is on the plaque that welcomes you to Pioneer Park where In 1940, 242 acres of bushland was gifted to the Mackenzie District council, now in the hands of the Department of Conservation, by the owners of Raincliff Station at the time.

We are lucky enough to live just a few kilometers from Pioneer Park and have visited a few times to the main camping area but this weekend we finally went on a wee family adventure up the White Pine track. 

The start of the White Pine Track

The start of the White Pine Track

The bush here is beautiful. Magpies, Bell birds, Wood Pigeons and Fantails are abundant in here and it proved to be a fantastic place for the kids to visit. We spent plenty of time spotting nests and learning about moss and ferns while trying to make sure Izzy watches her feet while clambering over roots and branches and up and down the steps. For a 3.5 year old she put in a brilliant effort and didn't once complain - in fact she would have kept going if we had let her!

There is a 5 minute (x5 3.5 year old minutes) climb up into the bush before it starts to even out and become comfortably rolling.

The initial climb

The initial climb

We walked for an hour and probably covered just over 2km which included plenty of stopping to look at plants and chatting about what we were seeing. The wee man seemed to enjoy himself too and stayed awake to take it all in. Fantastic weather for it too - lovely and cool under the tree canopy.

A small bridge was an exciting moment for Izzy and it felt like a real 'Bear Hunt' adventure.

For a beautiful spot that feels so isolated and bathed in tranquility it is still only 18 minutes from Pleasant Point and Fairlie and about 25 minutes from Geraldine (See my map below) It's also a fantastic and quiet place to camp with TOILETS! OK, so they are long-drops but there are the best looking ones I've ever seen plus running water.

The camping area has an honesty box for campers and respecting that is crucial to areas like these being available.

The tracks are in fantastic condition considering the tree roots and sheer number of trees.

Often people utilize the track for run training, doing the loop in around an hour - I'm yet to give it a try as with no cell phone reception I'm not keen to do it on my own for the 'twist an ankle' factor. (Please let me know if someone out there wants a running buddy!)

Teaching Izzy about ferns

Teaching Izzy about ferns

The decent back to the carpark/camping ground was faster than the climb and watching Izzy navigate her way down the steps and hills was impressive as her problem solving proved to be impeccable.

Izzy and Dad with their mustering Manuka hill sticks.

Izzy and Dad with their mustering Manuka hill sticks.

 I wish this was a clearer shot as the sweet wee thing kept coming back to say Hi at them end of our walk

 I wish this was a clearer shot as the sweet wee thing kept coming back to say Hi at them end of our walk

Izzy insisted on playing some games in the grass before we left

Izzy insisted on playing some games in the grass before we left

In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this walk for a weekend outing! Go as far as you feel comfortable as the round trip provides a few obstacles on the way back to the beginning. 

Take a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet. On your way back through, make sure to stop in to check out the Maori Rock drawings, have a shot at some fly fishing or go check out the epic playground at the Raincliff Youth Camp as it is a stand out feature for kids and adults alike - and don't tell anyone but there may just be a idyllic swimming hole out past the camp near the bridge in the Opihi River sshhhh

Pop out and explore a new area this weekend - Don't forget your towel!

x

 

P.S. If you would like some more information about this historic area - click here

 





Calories, Carbs and Coffee

So this week hasn't gone fabulously after a slightly indulgent weekend (Think burger and pizza.... and wine) it's been hard to get my groove back!

We decided to get off farm to help hubby switch off a bit so took a roadie to Christchurch to catch up with friends for the night. The drive meant a burger and macarons. The dinner away meant pizza... and wine and the whole lot together meant zero exercise! - OOPs

It then went on and on. I managed to sneak away food shopping ON. MY. OWN on Monday morning at 8.30am - that in itself was super exciting (if you're a Mum, you'll understand this) and I stumbled across this....

After all the hype around the Whittakers blend from Lewis Road Creamery  (Which for the record I did enjoy and I appreciated the quality of both the chocolate and the full fat creamy milk!) I was really interested to see what the coffee one was like after hearing mixed reviews on it.

My conclusion is this - if you aren't much of a serious coffee drinker, or if you like it weak and sugary - you wont like this drink. Thankfully for me - I LOVE strong coffee and I don't drink it with sugar - meaning this plays to my tastebuds perfectly. So it's a winner for me but I know it wont be for everyone - I'm really looking forward to trying the vanilla one now which I have also heard mixed reviews on.

As a side note - it is lightly sweetened with organic coconut sugar which is quite an original 'hip/2015' spin on sweetening! - Happy as!

 

Now if you think this was unhealthy (think over 400 calories in 300mls and almost 7 teaspoons of sugar!!!) then sadly the rest of my week hasn't gone much better...

It was wet and miserable on Tuesday with a high of 7 degrees meaning the fire and comfort food was what crept into mind. Then came the thoughts of Chelsea Winters 'Oaty Ginger Slice' - FULL of sugar, carbs and butter! At this stage I'm still thinking it was totally worth it and by the time hubby got into it and I gave some away - I didn't eat THAT much.... *gulp*

I made it in a smaller tin than I would usually as my usual slice tray had a divine giant lamb leg in it

I made it in a smaller tin than I would usually as my usual slice tray had a divine giant lamb leg in it

Of course after something so sweet, the desire for something salty appears right? So in my burst of energy came some crackers. Not just any 'crackers' but the most divine recipe from Annabel Langbein and man they are good! 

These are Annabels 'Sesame Lavosh Crackers' and they rock. This time we flavoured them with garlic powder and dried oregano. Once we rolled them paper thin we cut them into shape and lay them on a baking paper lined tray. Gave them a light brush with some olive oil and a sprinkle with pink himalayan sea salt and baked them until lightly golden. 

These officially lasted from 4pm to 9am - four trays!

BBQ Roasted lamb on a stack of fresh rosemary

BBQ Roasted lamb on a stack of fresh rosemary

 

A home raised, killed and dressed lamb was the piece de resistance and the left overs went on to become pies the next day.

Next week will be different... better, I hope! I'm trying to work out how to shake things up a bit. More of a mind-body-spirit type shake up. I need to get running again a it's been 12 days now and refocus a bit. In an ideal world I have 6kg left to go before Christmas so I can then gorge on Nanas/Mums Rum Balls and cheese. Lots of cheese!

 

 

The Farm Barn Cafe - Fairlie

A flaw in my families savings plan is our love of food! During the week we have creative menu's - trying food from different ethnicities or we try something for a week, such as; Low carb-high fat, Paleo, Vegetarian or what ever else tickles our fancy.

When hubby gets the weekend off the farm, we know our bank account is in for a work out!

People have the habit of forgetting about their local haunts and travelling to taste others so this week we tried a local cafe, just a 15 minute drive away towards Fairlie.

A sample of the Farm Barns fare

A sample of the Farm Barns fare

The Farm Barn is located on the corner of the Geraldine-Fairlie Highway (Hwy 79) and Mt Michael Road - right at the gateway to the Mackenzie. It is clearly sign posted and a perfect place to stop and soak up the harsh landscape.

When we arrived there were tables of people finishing their lunch and we got coffees to start with which were PERFECT (and we know our coffee)

There are many reasons why you should pop just out of your way for this wee gem. To keep this from being 3 pages long I'm going to list a few for easy reading.

- Locally owned and operated by a brilliant team of gorgeous, friendly girls

- A cozy large fireplace for the winter months with couches and catering to the season

- Child friendly. Plenty of room to run and play - inside AND out

- They stock the famous Fairlie Bakehouse pies from just down the road but in a larger, cafe setting.

- A shop full of stunning NZ merino and possum wear including brands such as - point6, NZ sourced merino crafted into beautifully made and designed socks in the US (www.point6.com)

- Tasty NZ made, carefully selected boutique products such as ViBeri Blackcurrants, Donovans Chocolates and J. Friend and Co Artisan Honey (With more being tasted and ordered as we speak)

- They cater at a well above average standard when it comes to allergies and intolerances such as dairy and gluten

- HEALTHY FOOD! - Yes! A cafe with beautiful hearty salads which I have found to be surprisingly difficult to find in the area. Pair them with a paleo standard ginger slice and you have a high fat, low carb, whole food, lunch!

Broccoli, almond and red onion and a Kumara, orange and bacon salad

Broccoli, almond and red onion and a Kumara, orange and bacon salad

Being a rural girl, I love the rural feel of the place. High ceilings with exposed beams, wooden floors, a huge fireplace, food displayed on wooden board and rustic cake decoration such as sticks of flowering rosemary and lemons tied with twine.

 

An example of the rustic/rural based decor

An example of the rustic/rural based decor

They also stock the VERY local ViBeri products - think blackcurrants rolled in the highest quality Belgium dark chocolate and 100% organic. Look at this packaging too - Only in New Zealand! (www.viberi.co.nz)

The locally sourced and produced freeze dried and chocolate rolled blackcurrants

The locally sourced and produced freeze dried and chocolate rolled blackcurrants

Now seeing as I'm living a sort of '80/20 Paleo lifestyle' I would usually go for a salad and a nut based slice - but today  I tried the TimTam truffle. Extraordinary. Decadent, rich, caramelly, goodness coated in chocolate - can't go wrong with that really can you?

A feature that also proves the teams adaptability is allowing customers to call up with their orders so they are ready on the run - perfect for lunch on the run, or when the local stock truck is running fine on time.

To round our experience off, It was lovely and friendly with a really warm and inviting vibe to the place. We will certainly be making it a regular port of call and cant wait to see the upcoming changes to the colour scheme and product ranges.

Keep an eye on what is happening at the Farm Barn Cafe by 'liking' their page here 

BONUS TIP

This weekend (Labour Weekend) There will be no 15% surcharge for the public holiday!

 

Kiwifruit Cheesecake with a customised nut base

After speaking to a friend on Wednesday about cheesecake flavours (as you do) I decided to mix a tried and true slice base with a tried and true cheesecake mix and topping that my husband usually makes. (Yes, you read that right - a farmer who excels in cheesecake making)

The base I would usually use in a ginger slice features here in replacement of a biscuit base meaning we've straight away cut out all those refined sugars and nasties! The mousse-like cream cheese filling is a huge exception to my usual 'clean' eating type ways as there IS sugar in there (gasp!)

Paleo inspired nut and seed base

Paleo inspired nut and seed base

Chokka full of nuts, seeds, dates and butter - it's not your traditional cheesecake base but it sets solid and gives a really delish texture and natural sweetness

I made 2 wee samples for a friend who manages a local cafe (yes I am a little jealous I don't have a cafe ;) ) and they seemed to go down OK - no one gagged, choked, spluttered or cried so I'm taking that as a win.

The way I have made and whipped up the cheesecake filling keeps it really light and mousse-y (No I don't think that is a real word....) and the topping is light and tart to help balance out the other two sweeter elements. 

Also feel free to take some creative licence over the base ingredients, interchange nuts and seeds to suit what you have in the cupboard or prefer.

Now, enough chit-chat, more recipe!

Spot what is wrong with this photo. My favourite shot was photobombed but it represents my life quite accurately...

Spot what is wrong with this photo. My favourite shot was photobombed but it represents my life quite accurately...

Kiwifruit Cheesecake

Base

2 cups of nuts (Today I used 1 cup cashews and 1 cup almonds)

200gms of seeds (Today I used 100gm sunflower seeds and 100gm pumpkin seeds)

20 dried dates (Because Medjool are expensive!)

50gms of melted butter or coconut oil

1 tsp of dried ginger

- Blast all of this together in a strong food processor to a texture of your liking and press it firmly into the base of a lined cake tin. You may find that the recipe is too large for your liking so reserve some to crumble over yogurt and fruit.

 

Filling

250gms of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of caster sugar

250ml cream

a splash of vanilla extract or 1/2 a tsp of vanilla powder

4 Tbsp of warm water

2 tsp of powdered gelatin

- Whip together the cream cheese and sugar. (I would advise using a cake mixer if you have one to save your arms here) then set aside while you whip the vanilla and cream together until if forms soft peaks.

- Fold both components together ensuring to keep it light and airy. 

- Dissolve the powdered gelatin into the warm water until smooth - if you need to heat it further to combine, use a bain marie set up.

- Lastly fold this though the creamy mixture and pour over the base.

 

Topping

3-4 kiwifruit (Around 200grms)

2 Tbsp of warm water

1.5 tsp of gelatin

Squeeze of lemon (optional)

- Whizz the kiwifruit into a puree, add the dissolved gelatin (using the same method as above)

- Taste. If you like it quite tart like me, squeeze in half a lemon for more of a kick

- Pour over the creamy filling and set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

 

Bonus Tip:

If you keep the quantities of fruit vs gelatin the same, interchange them as much as you please. Some variations we have used in the past include strawberry, black doris plum, apricot and blueberry :)