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.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

In the last week we have......

.......dined with friends from Caloundra at our little local tavern, practised yoga TWICE this week and walked EVERY day, made a trip to Cairns to check on the  conversion progress of our new Toyota (almost completed), purchased a rechargeable blower from Bunnings that has been THE best thing we have ever owned (the garages have never been cleaner), ate Hummingbird Cake at Bunnings, cos' you know its hard work in Bunnings, trucked our weaner steers to be sold at Mareeba market on Friday (they sold very well with record prices), started moving the gravel from the driveway so that it can be converted to lawn (we have now broken three windows from whipper snipping the driveway), pulled a breech birth calf (Philip....today, and the calf is still weak but we think it will survive), cooked some delicious meals with the lobster tails that were given to us by a friend, took a blast from the past and made little Golden Syrup steamed puddings (that I converted to Paleo), checked on our little abandoned calf that is a real fighter and getting a feed from any cow that will let her.
What else, oh, that's right, did I mention it was my birthday...........actually we celebrated two birthdays, mine (59) and my friend (58), had a birthday lunch at Bel Cibo in Port Douglas, received some fantastic gifts for my birthday; Candle Holder with the most beautiful smelling candle, Salad Servers that I have been lusting after for ages, wine glasses from my friend, a gorgeous ring from my hubby that is still in transit, cash from Mum and John that I converted to Manicure/Pedicure/Hairdo.  Yes, actually it has been a fabulously busy week!

Lobster Ceasar Salad with crumbed eggplant on the side

Our new car....needs suspension upgrade and toolboxes fitted and it will be ready to go (about two weeks)

Hummingbird Cake complete with the obligatory plastic fork

Morning Walk

Our little abandoned calf (on the left) sneaking drink from an unsuspecting cow.  It's learnt to come in from behind so the cow doesn't see it.....clever little thing!

Golden syrup Pudding

My husband made us this delicious lobster and prawn salad for my birthday lunch

Gifts from my DIL and son
Out goes the gravel driveway to be replaced with grass.
Our little breech calf.  She can't stand yet as her back feet are very swollen.

More gifts from the family



Monday, 22 August 2016

The New Cattle Yards

It's been a long wait, but finally, the truck arrived with our new portable panel cattle yards.  As I posted previously, the old yards were well past their used by date and although it was sad to see them go, commonsense has to prevail.  They were dangerous.


It was a little bit touch and go as to whether the truck would make it up our long and steep gravel driveway as we had just enough rain to make it slippery.  Lucky for us the truck driver was very experienced!
We had borrowed a friends tractor to unload the 100 odd panels, calf cradle, loading ramp and gates.  Philip would have used our little Kubota tractor but it doesn't have forks so it was useless for this job.
The day after the yards arrived Philip had organised for two of our local lads, Zach and James, to give him a hand to build the yards.



Does anybody remember Meccano from their younger days? Well, building these yards was just like building a giant Meccano!  All the panels are joined to each other with large pins and there is movement in the yards but this is remedied by using extra panels as 'stays".  The yards can't fall over but they can be moved sideways if you have a bad tempered beast in the yard. It all came together quite easily and the men were finished building the yards before the sun went down.  

Completed.

Today we had to needle our cows for Vibrio and Pestivirus and I'm pleased to report that the yards worked very well.  We wondered at how the cattle would react to the bright galvanised steel and all the clanging us they passed through the race but they were all very well behaved.



Thursday, 18 August 2016

Taste Port Douglas

Last weekend was the annual Taste Port Douglas Food and Wine Festival.  It is a foodies paradise and I was in seventh heaven. Some of Australia's top Chefs (throw in a Michelin Star or two and many, many hats) are invited to demonstrate their cooking skills.  The Festival starts on Friday with the launch at the Sheraton Mirage followed by several degustation meals.....Big Taste Sydney, Big Taste Queensland, Big Taste Melbourne and Big Taste Beer Loves Food.  On Saturday and Sunday it all happens at Rex Smeal Park where food trucks are in abundance with some very cheap and tasty meals to choose from.  There are lots of cooking demonstrations in between all the eating and The Harry Hawker Food Party and Night Market puts a full stop to Saturdays activities.  Sunday is more laid back with still more food and talks.
We were lucky enough to get tickets for the Big Taste Sydney held at QT Resort Bazaar Restaurant.



Our Sydney chefs for the evening were Colin Fassnidge (4 Fourteen and MKR Judge), Matt Kemp (Boilerhouse at Q Station), Alex Herbert (Bird Cow Fish) and Trent Sydenham (QT Resort).  I managed to get a quick photo with Colin and Matt before they started cooking......

Not the greatest photo but COLIN touched my phone! Swoon!
Our starter by Trent Sydenham was Goats Cheese Mousse, Beetroot Crumble, pickled zucchini, hibiscus, young celery and parsley....

Almost too pretty to eat but eat I did and it was DELICIOUS!


Entree was created by Matt Kemp - Raw Cobia & Fraser Island Spanner Crab, Galangal, Parilla and native finger limes.  I forgot to get a photo but I must say it was also very, very tasty.  I had never eaten raw fish before so this was all new to me but it was so good that I am now a convert.

Main was by Colin Fassnidge and was Ginger Poached Pork Fillet, Duck Fat potatoes, ham hock parsnips, broth. 

So much flavour in this dish.  The only downside was that the vegetables where not cooked enough for my liking.
Who doesn't love dessert and this one was one of the best I've ever eaten.  Cooked by Alex Herbert it was Apple, Tea Prune & Oat Crumble, Citrus Curd, Mungalli Cream and fried apple skin.


After dinner the Sydney Chefs made themselves available for question time....but no critique !


It was a lovely night made all the more enjoyable with the pleasant company that we had at our table. We met Stewart and Cheryl while we were having pre-dinner drinks and just hit it off straight away.  We were delighted to find that we were all sitting at the same table for dinner.  What a coincidence!  We talked, ate and drank (wine) the night away before finally making our way back to our room.  It really was an unforgettable night.













Monday, 15 August 2016

An abundance of produce.

I am overwhelmed at the moment by the amount of produce coming out of the vegetable garden.  It's very hard to keep on top of it so I have been making full use of the freezer.

We covered our tomato plants this year and it has been the best crop we have ever had.  Rats are our biggest problem.

But then the fridge freezer died.  This is where I keep all our frozen produce.  Fortunately we have another freezer so it was easy enough to transfer everything to it.  The trouble is that I didn't notice that the freezer wasn't working for what could have been up to twelve hours so a lot of my frozen goods had thawed. A lot had to be tossed.


The electrician arrived first thing this morning and has declared that we need to replace all the freezer parts....fan and motor.  Fortunately it is still under warranty.
Electrician hard at work
Anyway, back to the problem of using up the abundance of produce from the garden.  I have zucchini, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, beans, peas, sweet potato, tomatoes, bokchoy and spinach all ripening at the same time.  
I picked all the beans, sliced and froze them.  The tomatoes have been made into relish and the cabbage and carrots I turned into freezer coleslaw and another batch of Kimchi.  The bokchoy, apart from being a great stirfry ingredient is also lovely sliced thinly and mixed with pine nuts and feta cheese and wrapped in filo pastry.  These have been frozen for a delicious evening nibble. The sweet potato gets sliced thinly, roasted and used for nachos (thanks Roz for that idea). The eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes I roasted with onions, garlic and herbs and then once it was nicely caramelised (almost burnt!) I pureed it into a delicious sauce to serve with pasta or over meatballs.
Freezer Coleslaw

As today is Meatless Monday I made up my own pasta recipe using whatever vegetables I had.  This happened to be Broad Beans (that had thawed after the freezer died), garden peas, broccoli that I chopped in the food processor and my pureed roasted vegetable sauce.  I squeezed in the juice of a lemon and added a handful of shredded mint.  I also added roasted pine nuts and mixed the whole lot together with orecchiette pasta and quite a bit of the pasta water.  It was delicious with a capital "D" but very filling.  No dinner for us tonight!

Lunch

Sunday, 14 August 2016

House Repairs

For the past few years we have been watching in dismay as the architraves and skirting in our home gradually disintegrated.  It is doubly disappointing because when we purchased our home, less than ten years ago from Traditional Queenslanders, we were assured that the materials that they used for the building of the house were top grade but I can tell you now that the MDF (Manufactured Density Fibreboard) architraves and skirting are not top quality and should never have been used in our high humidity climate.
You see the problem is that the fibreboard just swells....and Swells and SWELLS and then disintegrates......
The swelling in the fibreboard is quite obvious in this photo

The MDF skirting



When we contacted Traditional Queenslanders they apologised and said that they used MDF because they couldn't get the profile that they wanted to use in pine.  It's a reason but not an excuse.  Traditional Queenslanders have given us a large discount on the new pine architraves and skirting but really it is a pittance compared to how much this repair work is going to cost.  So far we have had the builder for four ten hour days and we have at least another three days to replace the skirting. The painter will be the next tradie and goodness knows how long that will take.  Altogether we replaced the architraves around 6 sets of French Doors, 9 sets of louvres, 2 bifold doors, 2 windows, 3 built in wardrobes and both sides of 7 doorways! It is a lot of work.

Anyway the good news is that we will have a home that looks (almost) like new.

The verandah has become a construction site

From room to room....here is the bedroom that my mum slept in just last week!


The newly replaced architraves

Philip and John spent many hours undercoating the architraves so that it would be easier for the painter.





Sunday, 7 August 2016

A Family Visit

We have just farewelled my mum and her partner after they spent the past week with us.  We planned this trip quite a few months ago, booking flights and ensuring that the bus timetable fitted in nicely with their Jetstar flights.  They bussed it from Toowoomba to Brisbane Airport and from there it was on to Cairns.  They had a bit of trouble getting through security at Brisbane Airport however and I intend writing to the head of security about the way John was treated.
John has had a hip operation and of course this sets off the beepers as he passes through the security screen.  However he was then made to stand with his arms out-spread for quite a length of time and then told to sit on a chair with his legs in the air, again, for quite a length of time while the security lady checked him over for "weapons of mass destruction!"  After he was cleared the security guard then turned his suitcase upside down and emptied everything out.  All she found was a gel deodorant that she claimed she needed to confiscate.  For goodness sake.  John is closer to 80 than 70 so you can imagine his stress through this ordeal and I think somebody should be apologising for this.
I am pleased to report though that the return trip was 300 percent better.  The security guard in Cairns airport was very friendly and joked with John through the check and didn't make him stand with this arms outstretched for any length of time.  Brisbane airport seems to be the problem.
We planned the time that Mum and John were with us very carefully as we didn't want to tire them too much!  They certainly brought the sunshine with them and it was a welcome change for us to have sunshine days rather than the cloudy wet days we had been experiencing.
One morning they went with Philip to move the cattle from one paddock to the next....



Mum asked me to take some photos of the garden to show her friends so here a couple of the ones that I chose.....


On Thursday we took them on a Daintree River Cruise to spot some crocodiles.  It was almost low tide so we saw many crocs of various ages.  In fact it was the most we had ever seen!




It is very rare to see Thorntons Peak without cloud cover!

The beautifully serene Daintree River


While we were waiting for the cruise to depart we watched a little sunbird making its nest and then I photographed one of the magnificent orchids in the lovely garden at the Discovery Centre.




On Friday we decided to have lunch at our local tavern....The Highlander.  We often take friends there for lunch and even though it is "pub grub" it is usually good quality and it didn't disappoint.  Mum and I both had the grilled coral trout and Philip had the Lasagne.  John had the mashed potatoes and sausages.  



We loved having Mum and John visit us and we hope that they try and come up here for winter each year to get away from the very cold weather they experience in Toowoomba. 

PS
Mum and John, you took the sun with you as it has been wet and cold ever since you left yesterday!