JUstDreamInparadise.......JUDI living in Paradise

I am fifty something and I love my family and the life I live. I'm an optimistic person by nature and I try to find a positive for every negative. I'm not a vegetarian, but the animal I eat is. I enjoy cooking, photography and scrapbooking. Since living here I have become a gardener and take immense joy in the beauty of my garden. My husband and I feel that we are the caretakers of the land rather than land owners. We run a grass fed Droughtmaster Stud on our little piece of Paradise and the cattle are a never ending supply of photo opportunities.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Fermented Vegetables

We have been loosely following a paleo diet for the past couple of years and when I say loosely I mean that we have cut back on sugar, eat good quality grass feed meat and plenty of fruit and vegetables from our garden.  Its all pretty basic stuff really and it was the way that our forefathers ate without putting a fancy name to it and actually it is the way that most people in the bush eat.  There are no fast food outlets on cattle stations!
The one thing that we had not tried until recently was fermented vegetables.  It just sounded terrible. But then I wandered into a health food store in Cairns and picked up a bottle of Kimchi.  It looked okay, and I do eat with the eye, so I decided to be brave and purchase a bottle.  It was expensive at almost $20 but I kept thinking of all the good things that it would do for our bodies.  You can read about fermenting benefits HERE
The next morning I cooked up our standard bacon and eggs and decided to have the Kimchi on the side.  I went to open the bottle and it said "open with care"!  Goodness me......so I did the brave thing and asked Philip to open it.  I don't know why they had the warning as it was fine and the Kimchi was really tasty with just the right amount of heat.  
We have now finished the bottle and I started googling the fermenting process and decided that I could do it.  We have a beautiful supply of fresh vegetables growing in our garden....all organic, so it was just a matter of purchasing a fermenting kit.  I settled on Pete Evans kit as it seemed to be the only one that had everything included.
So I have been waiting for the kit to arrive and finally this week it came.  It didn't take long to read the instructions and put together my first bottle of fermented vegetable.  It has been sitting on the bench for the past three days and I tasted it this morning and I think it is close to being ready.
The best part about fermenting your own vegetables is that you can use the products that you like the best.  We had cabbage, daikon radish, carrots, ginger, coriander, garlic, chilli and turmeric growing in our garden so that is what went into our bottle.






Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Cycas Revoluta - "Sago Palm"......

.....or Cycad for short!
When we put the pond in our garden in August 2009, apart from it being a beautiful feature, it gave me an area to plant the things that I always wanted to grow but never could when we lived at Julia Creek.  We planted tree ferns, orchids, lilies, iris, bromeliads.....just to name a few.  One of the last things we planted were three cycads.  Some people dislike their thorny leaves and lets face it, they do get big, so they are not for everyone.  But we had the area so into the garden they went.  We didn't really know how to look after them until we employed Trudi.  She showed us just how elegant they look when the old leaves are removed to allow for the new ones and why landscape gardeners love them.
Fast forward six years and this year one of the cycads has flowered.  We were not expecting this at all because any article you read says that you have to wait 15-20 years for a flower.  All I can say is that they must love where they live!

This is a male cyclad.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Juvenile Sunbirds

What I love the most about living where I live is that I can have a garden full of colourful flowers that will bring lots of birds to the garden.  It is spring and each morning I am woken by the chattering sounds of birds.  The fig tree is fruiting at present so that is bringing in flocks or all kinds of birds.  We even had a pair of king parrots visit us last week but as I didn't have my camera handy you will just have to believe me!
We have been watching daily two little sunbirds that were hatched just a few weeks ago.  They are so extraordinary quiet and not afraid of us at all.  From what others have told me they like being close to humans and indeed where they build their nests is always very close to the house.  They try so very hard to build their nests on the fly screens and it is heartbreaking to watch.  They fly in and place one tiny piece of grass into the screen and as they fly away to get another piece the one that they just put in flutters to the ground.  This goes on for days.  We are of course left with a pile of grass and leaves on the veranda floor.
The little sunbirds that I photographed were waiting for mum to feed them.  I waited patiently for this to happen but as is always, the way the minute I gave up, mum flew in and feed them!  I did however get a photo of one of the little birds after mum had feed him.  The insect was almost bigger then the bird.



It seems appropriate that the sprinkler head that these little ones were sitting on was a heart shape!

This little fella struggled trying to eat this insect.  

Monday, 26 October 2015

Mustering

I don't often go with Philip when he musters but I wanted to check on the wild raspberry bush to see if it had any fruit.....sadly it didn't.  But I do enjoy the muster especially since we purchased the Polaris Ranger buggy.  The first cattle we moved were the cows and calves and of course Milly.  I haven't updated about our donkey but sadly she lost her foal a few months ago.  We don't know what happened but Milly keeps on keeping on, doing her job of protecting the calves.  She always waits to go through the gate last when we muster.  She hates being crowded.


Next mob to muster were the young bulls.  There are two age groups here 2013 and 2014.  Sadly with the ongoing drought in the west we haven't been able to take the bulls out to Caleewa.  If we have another failed wet season the older bulls will be going to the meat works next year.  
The sign of high fertility in a bull is his scrotum circumference size, and yes it is measured with a tape measure! This young bull would win all competitions. He has a very large scrotum!


On to move the last mob....the maidens.  Now there shouldn't be any calves in this mob but we have three!  Yes the bull got to them last year.....

This is a first calf heifer and would you look at the size of her udder.  The poor little calf could never drink all that milk.

As Philip opened the gate to put the cattle through, he just couldn't resist giving them a rub.  Our cattle are very quiet and so easy to move from one paddock to another.  They know Philip and I but they get testy when anybody else is around them.  







Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Lillies are Out

We went for a drive this morning to the paddock we call Swamp.  The paddock holds our largest dam that is awash with colour at the moment.  Lilly colour.  And hiding amongst the lilies are the Magpie Geese who come here each spring to build their nests and mate.  You would have to be keen to wade through the water to get to their nests so I will never be able to photo that, but you should never say never!
The geese are quiet enough to get some photos on the water but after awhile they took to the tree tops.  The lilies are lovely.  They open out as purple then change to white so you get a sea of white, purple and yellow.  Mother Nature is wonderful.

Magpie Geese



Saturday, 24 October 2015

Time for a recipe.

A couple of months ago we bought a side of pork from a local producer.  The meat has been wonderfully tasty and the three kilos of bacon that came with the side has been the tastiest bacon ever.  I think because it is nitrate free.
The side included a few kilos of pork mince so I have been looking for tasty, easy recipes to use the mince.  Yesterday at www.taste.com.au I came across this recipe.......SATAY PORK PIES.
There were a couple of steps to making the pies but well worth the effort because they were delicious with a capital "d".  I served them with a simple tossed salad and a beetroot and orange salad (because I had leftover beetroot and orange!)


SATAY PORK PIES

1 onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp grated ginger
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
3 tabsp unsalted peanuts
1 tabsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tabsp peanut oil
200g pork mince
1/4 cup plain flour (35g)
1 carrot, grated
1 cup Chicken Stock (250 ml)
1/4 cup coconut cream (60ml)
2 tabsp chopped coriander
2 sheets shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Place onion, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, peanuts and sauces in a food processor and process to form a coarse paste.
Heat oil in a deep frypan over medium heat.  Add paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.  Add pork and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until browned.  Stir in flour, carrot and stock.  Bring to the boil.  Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens.  Stir in coconut cream and coriander.  Allow to cool slightly.
Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees.  Grease six pots.  Cut six 10cm circles from shortcrust pastry and six 5cm circles from puff pastry.  Line your pots with the shortcrust pastry.  Fill with pork mixture and top with puff pastry circles.  Brush with egg.  Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Note:
I par baked my shells for 15 minutes before filling.


The Filling

Par baking the shells

Ready for the oven



Friday, 23 October 2015

Going, going Gone!

Our vegetable garden is at the rear of our house and right beside the garden are three giant Alexander Palms.  The trees themselves are impressive but gradually their roots had been extending into our vegetable garden to the point that we couldn't use a quarter of the vegetable garden so the decision was made.  They had to go.
I always panic with these sort of jobs, all the time visualising what could go wrong so I was very pleased when Trudi arrived for gardening this morning and told Philip she would assist with taking the trees down.
It was actually a very easy job and I didn't give enough credit for my husbands chainsaw skills.  The trees fell exactly where he wanted them to fall.  He did tie a rope to the top of each tree and then attached the rope to the Polaris Ranger.  Trudi, driving the Ranger, then applied just enough tension to the rope to ensure that the trees did fall where they were supposed to.
I am very pleased with the result.  We are now going to transplant all the banana trees and take everything else out of the vegetable garden over the next few weeks so that we can work on bringing the soil back to lusciousness for our next vegetable planting in autumn.

The three large palms. Vegetable garden is to the left of the palms

One down two to go

Going

Going

Gone.  The sound that the tree made when it hit the ground was very scary!

And now we have a lovely clear view of Black Mountain

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Asparagus

I love asparagus and it is on my weekly grocery list.  I planted an asparagus plant in the garden more than two years ago and it has been shifted a couple of times.  Now I understand that you have to wait two years before you can harvest asparagus and there was no way I could harvest what the plant was growing anyway.  Asparagus spears that would not feed a bandicoot!  This year I gave up on the plant  because to be honest I thought it was dead.  I purchased another four asparagus plants (that were two years old) and have been harvesting smallish, but tasty, spears from these plants since August.
It has been raining here every day for the past week so I have not been out to water the vegetable garden. You can imagine my surprise when I wandered out there yesterday and from the "dead" asparagus plant emerged this giant spear.


It is 30cm long (or 12 inches on the old scale) and as thick as my middle finger.  Whaaatttt!  So maybe I had to wait until the plant was completely dormant before it would send up any spears worth harvesting.  This one spear is a meal in itself so for lunch today I will soft boil an egg and happily use this big spear as my "soldier".

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Food Glorious Food!

Taste of Tableland at Atherton has become one of the "to do" things on my calendar each year.  I love it.  Being the "foodie" that I am it is right up my alley.  The highlight for me is the chef "cook-off" where Tafe Trainees, High School Students and professional Chefs all vie for the winning trophy.  I would not like to be a judge as I'm sure the food tasted as good as it looked.
The first cook-off started at 9.30am and I sat through two full sessions that ended at about noon.

This lovely girl smiled every time I pointed the camera at her.

Liam Flynn from Flynns Restaurant, Yungaburra



The Peace Lutheran College students, Alexandria and George,  were competing and as they were right in my vision I concentrated on what they were cooking.......lamb kebabs with roasted vegetable couscous and a fresh tomato sauce for main meal and lemon meringue tartlets for dessert.  I watched Alexandria make the tarts and pop them in the oven.  When she went to take them out of the oven somehow the whole tray upended into the bottom of the oven.  They couldn't be saved.....poor girl.  Anyway they quickly re-grouped and instead of a dessert they made an entree from the leftover ingredients from the main.  Splendid recovery!

The last time we saw the little lemon meringue tartlets!
The qualified chefs that "cooked off" were Liam Flynn from Flynns at Yungaburra, Dan Daw from Barron Valley Hotel Atherton, and Benjamin Hendy from Red Beret in Cairns.  We have eaten at Flynns numerous times so I was very interested in Liams cooking.  It looked sensational, in fact all the plates were beautifully presented and looked very appetising.  All the chefs are given a "mystery" box of ingredients and then have ten minutes to come up with an entree and main meal and 45 minutes to present the meal.











After sitting through two sessions I was very hungry. Lunch was a difficult choice as there are literally dozens of food outlets and each and every one smelt so good as you walked past but I eventually decided on a Mexican Crepe.  The wait for the crepe was extraordinarily long but well worth it.  It was so delicious.  I didn't get a photo because after my half hour wait I was really, REALLY  hungry. Of course I followed the savoury with a sweet, this time Greek and I couldn't pronounce the name but it was a lemony custard filo pastry and needless to say.....Yummy!
After lunch I went for a nice long walk around the grounds.  The festival is at the Chinese Temple Gardens on the western side of Atherton and everywhere you walk you come across lovely chinese pieces.  Some are considered good luck like this one


and this one is the lotus flower


There were hundreds of people milling around the various stalls and I think the organising committee would have been happy with the numbers even though it was a miserable day.


Nick from Nicks Restaurant in Yungabura and another fellow were put in "jail" and had to sing for their supper...very well I might add.  They were collecting donations for charity.


As I left the grounds and headed towards my car I passed a vintage car display.  The owners should  be very proud of their restorations!


I thoroughly enjoyed the day and my congratulations go to the Rotary Club for putting on such a wonderful festival every year.  I look forward to 2016.






Monday, 19 October 2015

A lunch with friends.

We had the lovely experience of meeting new friends on the weekend.  Our good friends from Brisbane,  Jack and Kim, asked us some time ago if we would mind them bringing Kim's Aunty and her partner for a visit.
It is a lovely story.  Kim's aunt was adopted at birth and only last year, after a search by the Aunt, did they all finally get to know each other.  The aunty and her partner still live in the UK but decided to come to Australia this year to meet all the new family.
We of course welcomed them into our home and they were terribly excited when Philip offered to take them for a drive around our place to show them the cattle.  They had never really been up close to cattle before so it was all a new experience for them.
We had a lovely long lunch, telling yarns over a glass or two of wine.  We have been invited to stay with the Aunty if and when we get back to the UK and we will most definitely take them up on the offer.  We really enjoyed their company.



Sunday, 18 October 2015

1st Anniversary

On the 5th of September.....Kurt's Birthday.......we had owned our HSV Senator Signature exactly one year.  Imagine our surprise when we received a card in our mailbox telling us we had a parcel to collect from Mt. Molloy.  That in itself is strange because all our mail goes to our post box in Port Douglas.  We didn't get across to collect the parcel until last week and would you look at what it was!





A fantastic travel kit - Picnic rug, Thermos and LED Torch!  Just what we wanted and needed for the Camper!  
Once you own a HSV - Holden Special Vehicle - you apparently become a VSP - very special person.  This is the second gift we have received.  The first was this when we purchased the Senator.
Really, they need not send us any gifts because we are well and truly sold on this vehicle.  It is far and away the best vehicle we have ever owned and compared to a european car with the same specifications it is one of the cheapest.  
We have put the Senator through its paces in the last year and God knows why we still have our licences, but that big V8 engine just rumbles and makes you want to plant the foot!
However, we have that out of our system so now we just take in the beautiful drive and ride of the car.  Pure luxury.  Thank you Holden for keeping the HSV in production.  The HSV factory in Victoria will shortly be the only car factory left in Australia.