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Racheal Cameron

October Storms

By NutritionNo Comments

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First, the good news.

All the people, animals and vehicles here at Birdsong are unharmed.Β 

After Monday’s hail storm, however, I can’t say the same for our hail/shade netting!

I could feel this coming, and last week had asked Rick how he thought we should protect the cars if we had severe weather (our business is heavily reliant on them).

Just before the storm, we walked outside to view the skies and saw the tell-tale green tinge of impending hail.

India was running around frantically trying to make sure the chickens and ducks had enough shelter in case the hail was fatally-sized.

Chickens don’t happen to be the brightest of animals, and chose to stand about two meters away from the shelter, saturating their feathers in the heavy rain. Oh well, she tried!

Before long, hail was pelting down (very exciting for the little boys!) and thankfully it was only small.

Once the hail stopped and the rain slowed a little, I ran out to inspect the damage. Wow. We’ve had strong winds that have damaged the steel support poles of the hail netting before, but this was something else. Almost the entire acre of hail netting was down, and some of the steel posts were bent completely in half.Β 

Large piles of hail were caught in the netting- the netting did protect the crops, at least. Twenty-four hours later, there was still piles of hail that hadn’t melted yet!

Rick wasn’t phased at all. These things happen, and while they take time to repair/rebuild, it’s really no big deal in the scheme of things.Β 

So for the past few days, he has been out there in an excavator working at repairing the ruins. He says the shade net needed a remodelling anyway πŸ™‚

The crops appear to have survived unscathed, and we had harvested a lot of produce just the day before, so business goes on pretty much as usual!

This Week at Birdsong

By Farm Gate Stall, Market GardenNo Comments
Good Morning,
Not much has changed this week, though we almost have our sweet corn ready to sell…hopefully within a week. It’s one crop that loved all that rain. Some others, like the tomatoes, are struggling after being water-logged.
I’ll be listing a small amount of cucumber this week. Bulk deals are still on for carrots, potatoes (both Sebago and Dutch cream), and beetroot.
We’re on school holidays now, so are more flexible with pick-up times on orders. If you would like an earlier pick-up time than 11am, just let us know in the comments box of your order.
Deliveries:
Wednesday 8th December, 1-2pm for orders $50+ in Toowoomba
Friday 10th December, 12:30-2pm for orders $50+ in Toowoomba
Thank you for returning glass jars, preserving jars, waxed boxes and plastic crates πŸ™‚ By the way, unwanted 1L coconut oil jars are an excellent size for 500g portions of nuts/seeds. If you have any you don’t need, we’d love to use them (don’t worry about cleaning them up too much, as we have to sterilise them anyway).
Thank you for supporting Birdsong!

Nutrient-Dense Nut Bars

By RecipesNo Comments

I love nut bars, but the commercial versions often contain undesirable ingredients. Here’s a recipe for a customisable homemade version that is tasty and nutritious.

1 1/2 Cups chopped Brazil nuts (or another nut, but I choose Brazil nuts because they are one of the highest known sources of dietary Selenium, and most my children don’t like eating them plain!)

1/3 C chopped walnuts (again, you can sub out for whatever nut you like, but walnuts are another one that I take the opportunity to hide in these bars so the children will get some in their diet)

1/3 C Pumpkin seeds

1/3 C Sunflower seeds

1/3 C Dark chocolate chunks (or cacao nibs if you want a lower-sugar alternative)

1/3 C Sultanas (or another chopped dried fruit)

1/3 C Honey ( I haven’t tried this, but I’m sure maple syrup would work, if you’d rather avoid honey)

1/2 C Hulled Tahini

1tsp Vanilla Extract (or vanilla paste)

Heat your oven to 180C

Mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

The next step depends on the viscosity of your honey. If your honey is runny, then you are just going to mix it together with the vanilla and tahini until homogenised. If your honey is too thick, then gently heat it in a saucepan until runny, and then mix in your tahini and vanilla.

Bake at 180C for about 10 minutes…slightly longer if you prefer a browner, slightly crunchier bar.

Allow to cool. Then enjoy!

Made For Mum

By RecipesOne Comment

Interested in making some delicious (and nutritious) goodies for Mother’s Day? Check out WholefoodSimply. We’ve been making a variety of the slices (like Raspberry Ripe Slice), which happen to be GF, DF and often V (Honey is used in some, but can be substituted for maple syrup if needed).

They are heavy on the nuts and nut butters…just saying, in case nut allergies are an issue for you. If you’re after something wholesome and special, Wholefood Simply is definitely worth checking out.

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #8 Maple Pumpkin Bread

By NutritionNo Comments

I couldn’t do a series of pumpkin posts without mentioning this recipe. We LOVE pumpkin bread, and this is my favourite recipe so far, from the Prairie Homestead.

It’s sweetened with honey and maple syrup, loaded with fragrant spices and delicious any time of day πŸ™‚ It makes 2 loaves…enough to share or freeze.

It’s the kind of recipe you could add walnuts or pepita seeds too, though our children love it just as it is.

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #7 Cubed Roasted Pumpkin with Balsamic Glaze

By RecipesNo Comments

Simple, but tasty.

We were given a bottle of balsamic glaze at Christmas, and it’s added a lovely flavour to a variety of sides. It goes beautifully with pumpkin.

Recipe:

Approx 2kg of pumpkin, skinned and cubed

1 onion (red, if you have it), cut into wedges

Oil of choice, about 3Tbsp, we used macadamia oil

Salt, we used our Garlic and Sage seasoned salt

Balsamic glaze

Optional: crumbed feta cheese

Directions: Heat your oven to 180C (fan-forced)

Pour the oil onto a baking sheet, then add the cubed pumpkin and onion wedges and toss to distribute the oil.

Sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake for about 45 minutes (longer if you like a bit of char!)

Sprinkle with balsamic glaze and the feta, if you choose. Serve immediately (though it can be reheated).

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #6 Pumpkin + Cashew Quiche

By RecipesNo Comments

Pumpkin and Cashew quiche…we’ve been making this for about 10 years!

Pictured is the following recipe with the filling tripled. With such a large tribe at our place, the single recipe just wasn’t enough. The crust however, doesn’t need to be doubled unless you want to split the recipe between multiple dishes.

NOTE: The recipe calls for roasted, cubed pumpkin. So you’re prepped accordingly, make sure you have the pumpkin roasted (or at least in the oven) before you start making the rest of the recipe.

The Crust:

2 Cups organic baking flour

125g butter (or coconut oil)

1/2tsp salt (I use a seasoned salt, like our garlic and sage salt)

Approx 120ml of water or broth

Turn your oven to 180 C, fan forced.

In a food processor, mix the flour, butter and salt until you get a fine crumb. Then with the motor running, slowly add the water/broth. You may not need all of it, depending on your flour. What you’re looking for is a cohesive lump of dough, that’s not too sticky.

If the dough is too soft, you can refrigerate it for half an hour before rolling out. Otherwise, go ahead and roll it out straight away. It will be enough, with a little surplus, to fill a 12″ pie dish.

Bake for 10 minutes.

While that crust is baking, prepare your filling ingredients.

200g (minimum, you can use more if desired) cubed, roasted pumpkin.

1/2 C cashews (for extra crunch, you can roast these too, if desired)

1/4 C cream

150g tasty cheese

a spring onion or shallot, finely chopped

3 eggs

1/2 tsp nutmeg

In your baked pie crust, arrange the pumpkin and cashews.

Whisk up your cream and eggs in a bowl, then add the cheese, onion and nutmeg.

Pour this mix over your pumpkin and cashews. Bake at 180 C for approx. 35 minutes. All ovens are slightly different, so just check on the quiche after about 25 minutes, to check how much longer it needs. Our tripled recipe needed almost 40 minutes.

Can be eaten warm or cold…some of us even like it for breakfast πŸ™‚

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #5 Pumpkin Cauliflower Gratin

By NutritionNo Comments

Pumpkin idea #5…Pumpkin and Cauliflower Gratin. I made this tonight as a side with our dinner, though it makes quite a decent portion and could be used as a vegetarian main course. It’s creamy and filling.

The recipe is from Well and Full, and grabbed my attention as it uses both pumpkin (puree) and cauliflower (which I had a bag of in the freezer from last year’s harvest). The only adaptions I’d make, are adding some crushed garlic and sprinkling the finished dish with sliced shallots or garlic chives.

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #4 Pumpkin + Ginger Chutney

By NutritionNo Comments

Pumpkin chutney? Yes. A friend once gifted me a jar of her pumpkin chutney, and it was delicious. You can use this chutney just as you would any other chutney, but it especially works as an alternative to mango chutney on curries.

I doubled this recipe from The Crafty Larder, and it made 4x approx 700g jars, plus the little mason jar of chutney pictured. We tried it on Butter Chicken, and were happy with the results. πŸ™‚

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #3 Chicken and Pumpkin Chowder

By RecipesNo Comments

With the weather turned cold and damp this week, soup is definitely on the menu. I was looking for some savoury pumpkin ideas, and came across this one. I was impressed that so many people mentioned their children liked this recipe. I made it yesterday, and about half my children tested it for breakfast (I know for some, the idea of soup at breakfast is weird, but to me it makes perfect sense to eat a nutrient dense, easily digested meal like soup for breakfast).

I will say that the base recipe from Wholefully is comforting, but also a little plain (no doubt why so many children enjoy it). To make a slightly more adult version, I added some homemade sweet chilli sauce, upon serving. Wondering if using coconut cream instead of dairy cream, and adding some adobo hot sauce during cooking would add a delicious twist…?

I loved the addition of quinoa to the soup…definitely like a chunkier soup, and quinoa thickened the mix beautifully.

A lot of pumpkin is used in this recipe. A whole small pumpkin cubed, plus a cup of pumpkin puree!

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #2 Pumpkin Pie

By NutritionNo Comments

I don’t know that I’d ever tried pumpkin pie before celebrating Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania, as an exchange student. Loved it!

We grow pumpkin each year, and often end up with a surplus, so recipes like this that call for at least 2 cups of pumpkin puree, are a wonderful way to put some of the harvest to good (and tasty) use.

Though most recipes call for a sweet crust, I don’t think it needs it…the filling is sweet enough.

Makes enough pie to fill a 12″ pie dish and often a little extra for a ramekin.

Heat your oven to 180 C (Fan-forced) and then…

For the crust I use:

2 cups organic bread flour

125g organic butter

a sprinkle of salt

Approx 120ml water

*optional 1tsp pumpkin pie spice

The food processor is the quickest way to blend this, but it can be done by hand if desired. In your food processor, blend the flour, butter and salt until it looks like a fine crumb.

Then add your water slowly, while the processor runs, until you get a nice ball of dough that holds together.

This can be refrigerated for half an hour if you need to firm it up, but I roll it out right away, using a dusting of extra flour to prevent it sticking to either the rolling pin or the pastry cloth.

You can roll the pastry onto the rolling pin for an easier way to transfer it to your dish without it tearing.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven.

Filling:

2 cups pumkin puree

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups cream (or coconut cream if desired)

150g coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

1Tbsp pumpkin pie spice blend

I blend all these filling ingredients together in the food processor, and then pour into the baked pie crust. The filling will be runny at this stage, but will set as it bakes. Carefully place your filled pie back in the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes. I start with 30 minutes, then open the oven door and give the dish a jiggle. You will be able to tell if the pie is set by watching the centre of the pie to see if it wobbles loosely, or looks set. Once set, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

The pie can be eaten warm, or chilled. Store in the fridge.

What to do With all that Pumpkin: #1 Pumpkin Porridge

By NutritionNo Comments
Pumpkin Pie Porridge

The end of summer is when we have harvested all (or most) of our pumpkins and you will be finding these pumpkins in your seasonal mixed boxes. But besides roasting them as a side at dinner, what do you do with all this pumpkin?

Our go-to pumpkin creations are pumpkin pie (I was an exchange student in the USA and took an instant liking to pumpkin pie!) and pumpkin + sweetcorn soup. But there are so many ways you can prepare this versatile veg.

Today we’re looking at incorporating pumpkin puree (very easy to make) in your porridge.

I based the trial on the recipe below, but made a few changes.

*I used dairy milk

* Skipped the maple syrup and used a sprinkling of coconut sugar and organic sultanas instead

*Used a teaspoon of a homemade pumpkin pie spice blend, rather than individual spices.

*Added more like 1/2 Cup of pumpkin puree

The result was far less pumpkin-ish than expected, which was fine. It was also only mildly sweet, which suits me, but if you’re a sweet tooth, you may want to up the sugar, or use the maple, as suggested in the base recipe.

If you regularly make porridge, the only change you would need to make to your regular base recipe, is adding 1tsp (or to taste) of the spice blend while cooking, and add the pumpkin puree close to the end of cooking and heat through.

A recipe to get you started, from DamnDelicious

Next up, will be our pumpkin pie recipe. I’ve got some savoury pumpkin recipes on the upcoming share list too!

This Week…

By NutritionNo Comments

Good Morning,


Loving this autumn weather! Now we just need some more rain…


We’re pretty low in fresh produce until Tuesday. I’m alsoΒ not able to make any mixed/seasonal boxes until TuesdayΒ (for Tuesday afternoon pickup, at the earliest). By then I will have some celery, cabbage, ginger and more potatoes.


Deliveries:Tuesday 9th March, 1-2pm for orders $50+ in Toowoomba. Please place your order by Monday night. If there are items you’d like that are not online yet that I’ve mentioned here, just request them in the comments box of your order, and I can send an invoice.

Friday 12th March, 12:30-2pm for orders $50+ in Toowoomba. Please place your orders by Thursday night.


We have 4 little week-old Australorp chicks (unsexed) left from India’s last incubation. They’re $12ea if anyone is interested.

Storing Your Preserves

By Farm Gate StallNo Comments

Pickles, ferments, relishes…how do you store them?

I’m getting asked about this semi-regularly, so thought it was time to make a post so you know how to safely store your bottled goods.

Ferments: (ie. sauerkraut, lacto-fermented pickles, lacto-fermented beets, beet kvass). These are created using the vegetable, and then a macrobiotic salt brine. The product is left to lacto-ferment at room temperature for about three days, and then moved to the fridge. Even if unopened, the ferments need to remain refrigerated.

Relishes/Chutneys: (ie. the caramelised onion and beet relish, or corn relish). These are made using vinegar and sugar, which together do create an unfavourable environment for bacteria to grow…but this doesn’t last forever, unless the product has been pressure canned. I do have an use a pressure canner for some preserves, but not these. I prefer to use less processing for higher nutrient retention. Your relishes/chutneys are shelf or room temperature stable for about 3 months, if unopened. Once opened, they need to be refrigerated. I keep them all in the cold room regardless, because the summer heat here is more of a risk than I want to take with leaving preserves out. If you are keeping them on the shelf, choose a place free from excess heat or sunlight.

Pickles: (ie the bread and butter pickles). Again, these pickles are based on vinegar and sugar, so do have some shelf stability, about 3 months, like the relishes. But the fridge is definitely preferable, and ours are always stored in the cold room. And of course, once they are opened, they definitely need to be refrigerated.

Birdsong After the Rain

By Market GardenOne Comment
It’s a jungle out there!
In the 7.5 years since we bought this property, this is the first time this garden bed has flourished.
It’s taken about 2 years, but the greenhouse is finally planted out.
Retractable shade netting, instead of the poly-film we originally intended to use.
The citrus grove
Inside the stone fruit/apple orchard
Rick bought an array of unusual varieties of apple, that should thrive in our climate.
The trees are only a couple of years old, but fruiting heavily already.
Another apple tree
Looking back down at the market garden from the top paddock
Not willing to budge! The broody duck refuses to get out of the way for her friend, who also wants to lay in this nest.

We live in what is typically a drought zone. Excellent bore water, but very little rain to speak of. This last month of rain has really beautified our area, so I got outside to ‘take a picture, it’ll last longer’, as the saying goes.