Archive for July, 2015

First attempt at red cabbage

July 29, 2015

My neighbour told me her way of cooking red cabbage—slice finely, steam gently till soft, add a dash of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of raw sugar. I tried it, liked it and thought: I’ve got to grow this.

It wasn’t a great success.

I sowed seed of the variety Red Acre from Eden Seeds in December last year and eventually put two seedlings into a wicking box :


They grew pretty well for some weeks and then one died. The other one developed a small head which stayed that way for months, so I got fed up and picked it yesterday.

After taking off the coarse outer leaves, I got this :


Taking off off the not-so-coarse inner leaves, I was left with this :


Oops! That’s a little Badge Huntsman spider lurking in there (brief pause while I return him/her to the garden).

What was left was no bigger than a baseball! :


I cut it in half and after discarding 2 worms and a slug (not considered significant enough for a photo), this was the sum total of 6 months work :


Enough for one meal, but like I said, not a great success.

Back to the drawing board.

Around the blogs

July 27, 2015

There’s such an incredible amount of information on the Net. I read a lot of blogs….each one has some useful snippet of information that I would like to share. I can only write so many blog posts about what I’m doing in the garden (out there most days) or the kitchen (not in there a lot), so I thought I’d try a regular post about some of the stuff from other blogs that interests me. Much of it will be food-related…..growing, preserving, cooking…..some will be peak oil and energy decline related and some will be just ‘miscellaneous’. I’ll provide a brief note of why I think the site is worth sharing and links to the particular posts. Sort of a shorthand way of reblogging other people’s posts, particularly since some sites don’t facilitate reblogging.

So here we go.


Being tickled by soy sauce :

Do you smother everything in soy sauce? There’s a reason. Here’s an interesting post from Stephan Guyenet of Whole Health Source about how soy sauce ‘tickles’ the reward-sensitive centres of our brains.


Ginger-turmeric-honey bomb :

Although I’m partial to a nice cup of coffee, I can’t stand the thought of it for breakfast. I drink herbal tea, usually with something I’ve collected from the garden, like lemon verbena. My all-time favourite is a few slices of fresh ginger with a teaspoon of honey, in hot water. So I was interested when a friend sent a link to a recipe for a honey/turmeric mix that promised to be super-healthy. I Googled and found a better one here. Go take a look. The site is worth it for the gorgeous photos alone.

I made it up and tried it and I’m sold. It will be my breakfast drink from now on. I get the ginger and the honey as before, but now I get healthy, inflammation-reducing turmeric and a burst of lemon zest. But be advised: don’t use your best white china cup. Turmeric is all-pervasive.


Plastic is rubbish :

I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I buy. It’s not easy.  I found this site with everything you’d ever want to know about plastic, how it’s made, all the different types, and the shocking reality of where it ends up. There’s a lot to read. When I’ve taken it all in, I think I’m going to try and go a week without buying any plastic; then two weeks; then….. Well, anyway, take a look. This is one of the most comprehensive sites on any topic I’ve seen.


A Dying Hen :

A lovely post from Terry Golson at Hencam. I’ve experienced the pain of losing two hens now, so for me this is just a beautiful piece of writing :

This is the reality of backyard chicken keeping. Animals under your care will die. Chickens have short lives. They’ll die sooner than you think. For those of you with only three or four hens, this can feel devastating. Even for someone like me who has a dozen hens and has kept a flock for twenty years, the loss of a bird is difficult. But, it helps to accept your limits as a caregiver. It helps to recognize that within the world of backyard hens, that this is normal. It helps that I know that I have given my animals the best care possible, so that while they’re here, they have a good life. And then it helps to let go and move on.

Terry’s blog is full of useful information for the chicken-keeper. There’s now a remote camera in each of the outside runs, so it’s possible to watch both of her flocks at their daytime activities. I still can’t get over how I can sit up in bed at night and watch a flock of hens cavorting around on the other side of the planet. Technology!!



July 7, 2015

I finally harvested my Wombok chinese cabbage. It looked like this a couple of months ago in a wicking box :


The plants were starting to push up flower stalks from the centre of the clumps, so there wasn’t much use leaving it any longer. The chooks got the outside leaves :


and I got a couple of stir fries :



and probably will do a small batch of kimchi.

I’m sure this isn’t the same variety that is sold in greengrocers. The leaves don’t seem as crinkly to me; just elongated stalks with leafy bits at the side. There’s another similar variety called Michihili; I don’t know which is which. My seeds came from DT Brown and were labelled Wombok. It took 5 months from woe to go (seed sowing to harvest), so I don’t know if I’d bother to grow it again. OK if you have plenty of space and time to wait. One reference said the outer leaves should be gathered together and tied around the centre. Maybe this would develop bigger heads. Has anyone grown it? How did it go?


Winter eggs

July 4, 2015

I’m rapt that I’m still getting 3 or 4 eggs a week, despite the short winter days…..the first time I’ve had it happen in four years of chicken-keeping.

It’s all down to little Clover, my favourite of the three New Girls, because she was the one the others always bossed from the beginning. When she laid her first pointy one it was a novelty, but this is the last two week’s worth of pointyness from her :


I don’t know why they’re like this now or which end comes out first; I’m just happy to be able to have my scrambled egg treat each week. Go Clover!

The End of the Oil Age.

July 4, 2015

This is one of the best and most pertinent posts I’ve seen on the end of the oil age and energy decline. Watch the interview at the end with Joseph Tainter, author of The Collapse of Complex Societies and take note of the answer he gives to a questioner about whether technological innovation will save us.

This came from the comments section:

“Anyway, collapse can be defined as moving from one level of complexity to a much lower level of complexity, so the takeaway message is we will simplify. It just won’t be voluntary, and it won’t be pretty.”

No, it won’t be pretty. But how to make people aware and how to implement change? The answer’s beyond me. I’m just doing what I can on a personal level and hoping I’ll be pushing up daisies before it all gets too nasty.

Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Author: Norman Pagett (The End of More)


But how can we define an oil age? It has been about 150 years since the first deep oilwells were sunk, and just over 200 years since the viable steam engine was developed. The two are linked, because the steam engine made deep drilling of oilwells possible and gave us access to a hundred million years worth of fossilized sunlight. Perhaps we have not strictly had an oil age, but rather the first and only age where we enjoy vast amounts of surplus energy that we have extracted from hydrocarbon fuels, of which oil is the most energy dense. It has brought us material wealth, and the means to indulge in wholesale killing of each other and all other species. It gave excesses of food and a population that consumed that food and grew to five or six times the sustainable…

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