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Birdsong Coleslaw

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Summer Staples

As soon as the weather starts heating up, out come our summer staples. One of which is coleslaw.

A few years back we held homeschool markets, and Rick made pulled pork and coleslaw rolls for lunch. Wow! They were good…and much of that goodness was due to the amazing coleslaw dressing recipe he used. We’ve tweaked it a bit since, and here it is…

The Dressing:

1Tbsp mustard, dijon is preferable

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2Tbsp lemon juice

1Tbsp honey (or natural sweetener of choice)

1tsp sea salt or Himalayan rock salt

1/2 Cup aioli (we love the flavour of Heinz Seriously Good Garlic Aioli, but it’s not organic, and made on canola oil…so if you have any wholesome alternative to suggest for me, post it in the comments!)

You can also add 1/4 cup sour cream if desired. Up until this point it’s a dairy free recipe though, so depends who you’re making it for!

Just mix all these ingredients well in a bowl and set aside while you prepare the slaw.

The Slaw:

This can vary according to what’s in the garden, but the pictured coleslaw is:

1/2 small red cabbage, shredded

1/2 small sugar loaf cabbage, shredded

1 coccozelle zucchini, grated

2 carrots, grated

1 shallot, finely sliced

5 small radish, grated

I usually do all the slicing/grating with a food processor, but it can be done by hand with a little extra time. Mix everything in a large bowl, pour the dressing over, mix it in…and enjoy!

Flavour Variations: Try various chopped herbs, like coriander or parsley for a little twist

Homemade Washing Powder…and Sourcing Ingredients

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Seems like more and more people are getting interested and getting started in avoiding commercial cleaning, beauty and health products and making their own at home. When you start seeing all the nasties hat go into the products you used for years unaware, it can be pretty scary! Hormone disruptors are particularly common…and we wonder why there’s so many hormone disorders around!

So I’m going to give you a recipe for one of the easiest (IMO) homemade cleaning products (actually, most of them are very simple to make)…washing/laundry powder. But first I’ll give you some info on where in Australia to source a lot of the ingredients you’ll see in DIY recipes like these.

Shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils, carrier oils, clay powders like bentonite…these are things you’ll likely see called for in DIY recipes. But many of them are not things you’ll see on the supermarket shelf. Sometimes they’re at the health food store, but often not at prices you’d be willing to pay!

I think it was originally in my search for cocoa butter that I found N-Essentialsย 

I’d checked the health food store for cocoa butter, and it was $30 for this itty bitty package of it that would only make a double batch of the recipe I was hoping to try! So I looked online and found N-Essentials had organic unrefined cocoa butter at $33 for a whole kilo! Much better. And then in looking around on their site, it appeared they also had a bunch of other unusual ingredients I needed like essential oils, shea butter, castor oil, bentonite clay, jojoba oil, argan oil etc

Essential oils in particular, are used in SO many DIY recipes (including the one I’ll share later in this post). They have so many useful properties like being antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antidepressant…and the list goes on. Exactly the types of properties you want when making your own kitchen sprays, washing powder, air fresheners and the like.

For medicinal/healing grade oils, we use doTerra, because they have GRAS status for internal use and are triple tested for purity, safety and more.

But they’re costly, and when making things like soap, DIY cleaning products and some of your beauty products, you often want to opt for oils that are quality and pure, but not necessarily therapeutic grade. What do I mean by pure? Essential oils can unfortunately be labelled as ‘100% pure essential oil’ and yet still have carrier oils added, or be chemically manufactured, or have other additives thrown into the mix. Some say only 10% of the contents of the bottle have to be the actual essential oil to label the bottle as 100% pure essential oil. It’s madness.

If you’re going to be making your own products at home, usually it’s because you’re wanting to avoid all the nasties commonly added to commercial products, and if the essential oils you’re getting are impure, it’s kind of defeating the purpose of making these products at home.

So here’s where N-Essentials can help. I’ve used their eucalyptus, bergamot, frankincense and sweet orange essential oils in a variety of applications in the past and recently I’ve corresponded with Kacie, the company Director and found out more about the purity of their essential oils. The oils they stock have nothing added. No carrier oils or additives of any kind, and I noticed especially with the frankincense oil I bought from N-Essentials that the scent was identical to the doTerra frankincense we had. Scent is important, as often if there’s additives present, it will be detectable by a quick smell of the bottle. Some ebay oils we tried were an excellent example of this. The scent was weak and clearly there were carriers present. But we didn’t have that problem with N-Essentials oils.

This company are Australian and based in Melbourne. All their oils are packed in amber glass bottles, or metal bottles for the larger quantities (you can buy one liter and five liter bottles of many of their oils). This is very important, as any essential oils packed in plastic will be compromised and any oils packed in clear glass are damaged by light.

They have something like 70 different essential oils to choose from.

It’s especially been for soapmaking that the oils at N-Essentials are handy. In looking through a soap recipe book I have, often 5ml, 10ml or 15ml of essential oil would be called for in a single batch recipe. Sometimes a recipe would call for three or four different essential oils at 5ml each! If you’ve bought and used therapeutic grade oils, you’ll realise following these recipes with therapeutic grade oils would be highly expensive! Like 5ml of therapeutic grade rose essential oil can cost about $350…there’s no way you’d pour all that into a batch of soap! That’s a pretty extreme example, and most therapeutic grade oils are under $100 for a 15ml bottle, but it’s still overkill for this type of application. Especially in soap where your oil is mixing with lye that has not yet fully completed the saponification process, and therefore could be damaging the viability of the essential oils you add.

I will mention two healing applications we used the N-Essentials eucalyptus oil for. We’ve diffused it when we’ve had sinus congestion, and it worked beautifully. We’ve also used it with great results in a homemade vapor rub.

So if you’re looking for quality, affordable essential oils to use in your DIY recipes, definitely check N-Essentials out. And it’s very handy you can get butters, carrier oils, clay powders and other supplies from the same place.

DIY Laundry Powder

Onto the recipe!

You will need:

6 cups washing soda. If you don’t use washing powder too often, just buy the washing soda from the laundry section of your supermarket. If like us you have a lot of people to wash for and need to work in bulk quantities, then I advise buying a 25kg bag of Bicarb soda from a rural supply shop like National Farmers Warehouse and converting in into washing soda. This is done by filling a baking dish or two with bicarb and putting in in the oven at 200 C for an hour. Then it’s turned into washing soda! Keep it in a sealed container, too much exposure to air will see it convert back into bicarb!

2-3 bars of soap Using homemade soap is great, especially if you are aiming t make a non-allergenic washing powder. But if you don’t make soap and don’t have someone to supply it to you (If you are in the Toowoomba area, I sell plain soap for laundry powder), you can use something like sunlight soap.

10-15 drops of essential oil. I usually use a citrus oil (like bergamot), because they have grease-cutting properties which means a lot in our household!

Ideally, you’ll also want to use a food processor to make this. You’ll get a much more even consistency.

First of all, grate your soap. I use the grating blade on my food processor. It can be done by hand on a grater if needed. If you do the latter, make sure it’s a fine grate.

Now pull out your grating blade and put in your regular mixing blade. Add 2 cups of the washing soda and give it a blitz. Try not to breathe the dust in. Though this is a safe washing powder, that doesn’t mean you’ll want it in your lungs! The reason I don’t add all the washing soda at once, is because giving this initial blitz makes it easier to be sure any lumps of soap that didn’t grate properly are broken up.

Add the remaining 4 cups of washing soda and your essential oil. Blitz until you have an even consistency.

In this photographed recipe, I used salt bar soap, which grates VERY finely. If your soap is a little chunkier than this, that’s fine. Just wanted to point that out so you don’t think there’s something wrong with your mix if it looks a bit coarser than the photo!

Now you need something to store your washing powder in. Make sure it has a lid with a good seal. We prefer to use glass over plastic, especially as essential oils are involved. Large moccona jars are great. There’s just about always suitable jars at op shops too.

I also find using a canning funnel makes getting the washing powder into the jar so much easier!

And it’s done!

How much to use? When we had a 7.5kg front loader, I used 2Tbsp per load. We now have a 10kg front loader (and children who are really hard on their clothes!), so I use 4Tbsp per load.

When buying bulk bicarb for washing soda and using homemade soap, this recipe costs about $4 to make almost 2kg.

Birdsong Drakes looking for a new home!

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We’re overstocked with drakes! If you’ve ever kept ducks…or chooks for that matter, you probably noticed that you need to have a much higher ratio of girls than boys. One male goes a long way in a flock. After last weeks fox attack, we have 50/50 girls to boys. That’s way too many drakes, so we have three beautiful Welsh Harlequin drakes up for sale. This breed is dual purpose, so they can be eaten (though I advise brining the meat for a day before roasting it for best results). Or they can be kept as pets and have a reputation for devouring snails and slugs in the garden. They also poo everywhere, so make a mess in the average backyard. We used to keep a few drakes when we lived in town and they used one of those blue clam shell wading pools as their pond. This was fantastic for the lime tree, as when we changed their water, the old water (full of duck poop etc) was emptied at the base of the lime tree and that tree absolutely flourished!

They’re $10 each, or we’ll do you a deal if you want all three.

The drakes in this picture are the dark ones with the greenish heads.

Email or message me through this website if you’re interested!

Fruit, Nuts, Cacao and Oil

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

What a week! The flu hit, so Rick has been sicker than ever before and spent 4 days in bed. The children had it too, but it was refreshingly quiet having 4 of them spending most of 2 days sleeping! Rick’s still too exhausted to get back outside to the farm work.

We’re desperate for rain, and buying hay for the sheep, but they’re eating it so fast! They’d totally gorge themselves if we let them at the whole lot at once.

Then we had a fox/dog attack. We didn’t see them, but the lone head of one of my lovely Welsh Harlequin ducks in the chook enclosure gave it away. Three ducks were taken. Such a shame…we have three drakes that are surplus and need to go, but it’s the laying ducks that were killed!

In brighter news, we’ve got some organic/insecticide free bulk food items that have arrived and are being added to our store. This is especially good timing since we’re between seasons with the crops so the range is dwindling.

We have available:

Activated almond meal, insecticide free @$15/kg

Maple Syrup, organic @$25/L

Macadamia oil, premium Australian @$15/L

Cacao powder, organic @$19/kg

Dried apricots, organic @$19.50/kg (these are amazing!)

Walnuts, insecticide free @$20/kg

I also have organic extra virgin coconut oil in bulk @$15/L, but you really need to BYO container for it, we’re running out! And trying to avoid excess packaging in the war on waste.

So I hope nobody is too inconvenienced by the smaller fresh produce range…we’ll make up for it with the Spring/Summer harvest as it comes! There’s going to be some amazing produce then. ๐Ÿ™‚

Making Sense of Essential Oils- Modern Essentials

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Have you ever bought or been given an essential oil, and then not really known much about how it can be used? Or had a sudden injury/illness and wondered what oil you could use, but had trouble wading through the masses of information online to find out? Often if you do search online for remedies you’ll find a LOT of contradicting advice. One site says to swallow a drop or two of oil (therapeutic grade) in water, while another says you’re probably risking your life if you ingest oils! So how do you know what’s safe and what’s most likely to help you?

Enter ‘Modern Essentials.’ This is a reference book produced by Aromatools, a sister company to doTerra I guess you could call it. Its designed to be simple enough for newbies to make sense of, but to have enough detail that you can dive into topics like the chemical makeup of essential oils if you desire also.
It’s pretty much an essential oils bible. It’s full colour, hardcover and details every oil doTerra sells, which oils to use for just about any illness you can think of, what oils blend well for DIY perfume, the safety data for each oil, reflexology charts, references to hundreds of studies conducted on the effectiveness of the oils and a bit of the history of essential oils. And more…but the point is, this book gives you a wealth of knowledge with studies to back it up so that you can both make the most of the oils you have, and find safe and effective remedies for any ailments you’re trying to heal up.
One suitable example we had was when Micah was bitten by a spider and was swelling up fast and in a lot of pain. I didn’t have time to negotiate the flood of information online to try and find an oil that would help, but I had our copy of Modern Essentials, so within about 30 seconds was able to find out that Basil oil helps with spider bites. And it did. The pain went almost instantly, and the swelling left very soon after applying 2 drops of that oil. It’s times like that having a real book with reliable information is a huge blessing.
The 8th edition of Modern Essentials was released late last year, and is up to date with all the new oils doTerra are producing. If you use another top quality brand like Young Living, this book would work for their oils, with exception to some blends they produce that are slightly different.
You get a page per oil describing all the common and less common uses for the oil, it’s properties (antiviral, antibacterial etc), safety data of that oil and what it blends with. It also has a full colour botanical photo of the plant the oil is distilled/extracted from.
They have a page like this for each blend also.
And there’s some info on using your oils in cleaning recipes, culinary recipes and beauty recipes.
Then the back end of the book is an alphabetical listing of most ailments or needs you can imagine, with lists in order of effectiveness, of which oils you would use for that issue, and how to use them.
There’s also some explanation of how the olfactory (smell) system functions. All up the book is 480 pages.
We use this book almost daily, and if you’ve ever bought an oil from me, I’d have given you a photocopied page from this book about the oils/s you bought so you could use it properly and to it’s full potential. It’s sad to be in a place where you have solutions like the oils, but aren’t sure how to use them, so leave them stored away! I found an almost full bottle of a fairly decent grade of Ylang Ylang in an op shop a few months back, and thought it a bit sad the donor hadn’t been able to use it up!
Modern Essentials isn’t available directly from doTerra. Aromatools sell it, as do several other essential oil supply stores, but it’s usually coming from the USA and very expensive (if you live in Australia!). I have some in stock, (down to the last 5 actually!), and they are $55 each. Or free if you’re signing up with me with an enrollment kit.
I’m sorry I can’t do them any more economically (though a decent reference book is worth that anyway) but postage from the USA this time literally cost me several hundred dollars, so it’s pushed the price up a bit.
If you live in the USA, you can order from Aromatools at a much nicer cost! And often get free postage too, unlike us in Oz!
And lastly, if you are ever giving therapeutic oils as a gift, please consider telling the recipient about this book, or giving them info about the oils your giving so they to can get the most out of those oils.
If Modern Essentials is something you’d like to purchase to have on hand, let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

Onion, Garlic and Leek

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The garlic is ready! It’s Australian, organic and it’s also our first time growing garlic! We’re so pleased it worked out, as we’d been told by a garlic grower that it can take 20 years to learn to grow garlic well.

I’m also pleased it worked out because the week that the garlic HAD to be planted (before the cooler weather set in), Rick fell ill with some sort of fever. Rick practically never gets sick, but there you go…right when the garlic had to go out, he was too weak to leave the house. So the task fell to me. And garlic is kind of particular about how it gets planted. Each bulb needs to be the right way up, and our Bazuka planters can’t do that. So I spent hours…and hours, planting out thousands of garlic bulbs by hand while Rick recovered.

It was such a relief to have all these beautiful successful bulbs harvested (thanks kids!) and know the effort was worthwhile. We’ve been impressed with the quality and flavour.

And leek! I love the delicate flavour of leek, and it’s all the more appreciated after waiting so long for the leek to mature. I could be wrong, but it seems like it’s been in the ground for over 6 months! Crazy. So good to finally get to eat the leek. We’re selling them at 3 for $3

These beauties are Trapea Long Red onions. Long alright…they grow a LONG way down into our soil. We had to harvest them with a shovel!

But it was worth it…onions were the one vegetable item I still was buying from the Sunday Markets, and now we have our own ๐Ÿ™‚

Rick has recently been reading about the nutritional superiority of purple onions (I know the name mentioned red, but they’re really more of a purple), so he’s decided he doesn’t want to bother with white onions anymore. We’ve harvested them ‘green’ (not dried), so you can eat the greens as well as the onion itself, which we’ve been doing. They’re $3 for a bunch of about 4-5 (depending on size).

Anyway, that’s what’s new at Birdsong!

Another use for the Beeswax Wrap

By | Farm Gate Stall | 2 Comments

Inspired by the SLT War on Waste Worskhop

So Saturday just gone was the SLT War On Waste workshop. It was big! Great to see so many people interested in what they can do for the environment and waste reduction.

Just before the workshop, Margy, the coordinator asked if I’d have something to give to the council reps who came to present on composting/recycling/worm farming as a thank you gift. Some homemade soaps were chosen, but when it came to wrapping them I thought “Hang on, it kind of seems backwards to have a war on waste workshop and then give a gift wrapped in paper that will be thrown out immediately after opening the gift!” There has to be an eco alternative.

At last months workshop, Margaret had briefly mentioned Furoshiki, a Japanese method of wrapping gifts, using fabric. Hmm, this trail of thought seemed promising. The thought came that it would be very possible to wrap the soaps in not just regular cloth, but homemade beeswax wraps. They would not only serve as wrapping, but also be able to be reused over and over as a food cover…or as gift wrap again!

And then my daughters helped me find something to tie a bow with…some pink wool we had in the craft box, which can also be reused.

And there’s some of the soaps that we wrapped.

Check out http://simplelivingtoowoomba.weebly.com/simple-living-blog to see how we made the beeswax wraps. I played with a few methods before settling on this one.

While we’re on the waste topic, thank you so much to all your customers that bring boxes back to us, or BYO reusable bags (no condemnation to those who don’t! I know how hard it can be to remember to BYO bags etc!).

Where We’re At

By | Market Garden | 3 Comments

Winter is definitely not as I originally pictured it for this year! When Rick first started the market garden he’d had the (fleeting) thought that maybe winter would be our off season when we work on other projects/jobs etc.

But then books started coming in the mail with titles like “The Winter Harvest Handbook.” About a year ago Rick had designed a new kitchen to replace our 1980’s one, which is starting to fall apart. When winter harvest books started arriving, it became apparent that a new kitchen wouldn’t be coming this winter! But that’s ok, there’s no rush and in the first year of a new business, taking a season off isn’t such a wise plan.

So throughout winter the planting continued. The harvesting continued. The veggies kept selling. And more and more ideas and projects sprung up, just like the seedlings in the garden.

One is the strawberry patch. We’ve planted three rows, 3 different varieties, all of which are long season. We’ve just started harvesting the odd few now, though it appears we’re competing with the local wildlife for them! Maybe one day there’ll be enough to sell, but with 6 strawberry loving children, don’t get your hopes up!

The herb patch also came this winter. What is that ugly white barrier, you say? I know it’s daggy, but the morning after hares invade and devour your whole coriander crop, your first thought is not on the aesthetics, but on how you can quickly protect what remains with what you have on hand! And it’s worked, so that’s something. Actually, the barrier may have been the second thought. First thought was that Rick’s got a lot of live target practice hopping around out there.

Anyway, the new crop of coriander is up, and safe ๐Ÿ™‚

And this is the proposed tomato patch for this spring/summer. We’ve got a decent variety of colours and sizes coming in the tomato department this year. I’m so looking forward to it, because the surplus is what I make our tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned tomatoes and more out of. And it all has a much better flavour than the supermarket versions, as it’s come from homegrown tomatoes.

The trellis hasn’t gone up yet, but now that our supports have arrived that won’t be far off…especially as the tomatoes will need to get in the ground soon. Those seedlings are huge!

The other unexpected factor this winter has been the warm temps. Looks like our mulberry tree thinks it’s spring already. And we still have a few cherry tomatoes fruiting from last summer!

Working through the winter season has been a good thing after all…the second half of the market garden is almost full now. Rick’s a machine and prepares row after row each week (and then thinks he hasn’t achieved much)! We have our surprises and set backs, but over all this venture is turning out beautifully.

Korean Beef (a recipe for mizuna and kale!)

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Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal

We buy sides of beef, so end up with a lot of mince….and I’m certainly not complaining about that. The children love mince. Here is one of the recipes we go to for a quick weeknight meal that also uses up some of the glut of mince.

Korean Beef

1kg beef mince

1/2 bunch shallots or 1 red onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp minced ginger

1/2 cup soy sauce, or soy alternative like coconut aminos

1 Tbsp chili sauce (I used a homemade hot and sweet chili sauce, but use whatever gives you a heat level you like)

1 bunch kale, chopped

1 bag (around 200g) mizuna, chopped

  1. Saute your onion/shallots, ginger and garlic for a few minutes. Add your mince and cook until browned.
  2. While this is sauteing, get another fry pan going and saute your kale and mizuna in some butter or oil. Just get them wilted and then shut off the heat.
  3. Add the soy sauce and chili to your beef and gently simmer for 5-10 minutes
  4. Stir the greens into the beef and you’re ready to serve! We like to eat this with bone broth rice…you just cook your rice as normal, except you cook the rice in bone broth instead of water.

Introducing Mizuna

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Ever tried mizuna? In this market gardening journey we’re discovering lots of veg that we previously either hadn’t heard of or hadn’t tried.

Ripe and part of our present produce list, is mizuna. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a lot like rocket, but I find it slightly more peppery than rocket.

Nutritionally, mizuna contains molybdenum, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, pyridoxine, thiamin and riboflavin.

And what do you do with it? Like rocket, it’s pretty versatile. Most often it’s used raw in salad mixes with leaves of more subtle flavours. But you can definitely be creative with this one. You can saute it alongside other greens as a side dish (Rick’s favourite use of it!), add it to soups, risottos, pasta dishes and stir frys.

It’s one of those plants that can be eaten at whatever stage you like too…you can sprout it, grow microgreens, or eat the baby mizuna leaves…or use the mature leaves (we’re harvesting the leaves when they’re mature).

So if you’re wanting to try something new, give mizuna a go!

Paper, Plastic or Cloth

By | The Balance | 4 Comments

Keeping Greens Fresher Longer

Keeping greens fresh…it can be an issue if you’re not growing them yourself, and therefore can’t pick them as you need them.

I’d been reading about cloth bags, made in Toowoomba too I think, from natural fibers that are said to keep greens fresher longer than plastic. This I had to try, especially as we’ve got a massive roll of natural linen just waiting to be converted into something creative!

Before I go any further, I will say that this experiment is not over. I’ve only tried one type of plant, and tried it in the coldest part of our fridge-the meat drawer (because the veggie drawer was full already!). To really know how effective this is, I’ll need to try other greens and in warmer areas of our fridge.

Here’s what we tested:

3 bags. One a plastic bag (with aeration holes), one a standard paper bag and one a 100% natural linen drawstring bag.

3 bunches of parsley picked at the same time and of roughly similar size and condition.

All the bags were sealed with a rubber band with the parsley inside, and placed in our meat drawer for 8 days. The meat drawer typically sits at 1.5 degrees C (I know this because Farmer Rick is also an engineer, and engineers do weird stuff like keeping thermometers in their fridge ‘just because’!!).

Today I pulled out the parsley and here’s what’s happened:

It’s a bit sad to see the parsley from the linen bag is actually the limpest and most lifeless. Bummer.

The paper bag was only slightly better.

The winner in this case was the aerated plastic bag! I’m not a plastic fan, so wasn’t thrilled with the result, but that’s how it goes in this case.

Hopefully sometime soon I’ll try again in a warmer area of the fridge, with other greens. And maybe for less than 8 days…that’s a long time to leave herbs in the fridge!

Has anyone else tried fabric bags for greens/herbs?

Nourishing Traditions Intro Workshop

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Nourishing Traditions Intro Workshop

Bone broth, kefir, kombucha, soaked grains, activated nuts, DIY baby formula, cultured cheeses, raw dairy, fermented foods and beverages and more. Though these items are slowly becoming household names, some are still unfamiliar and even confusing to people.

Nourishing Traditions is the reference book and cookbook based on research by Weston A Price in the 1930’s. He was a dentist with a passion for researching diets of traditional/untouched people groups around the world (who happened to have 99% perfect dental health) and this book puts his findings into practice. This type of lifestyle is especially of interest for people with gut disorders.

In this workshop we’ll demonstrate how to prepare these foods/drinks, sample them and look at ways to heal and nourish your body through diet.

When? Wednesday August 23rd, 1pm

Where? Birdsong Market Garden, 118 Boundary St, Cranley, 4350

Cost $20 per adult and you’ll go home with an info sheet and an item to get you started (ie jar of sauerkraut, or a kombucha scoby, or a jar of milk kefir)

Contact Racheal Cameron racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au or 0431696234 to book or for more info

Limes Available Now

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Happy Friday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Just a quick note to let you all know that we’ve got limes in stock. They have been organically grown on the property of a friend of ours at Southbrook.

They’re 4 for $2 and a great way to jazz up a variety of meals…and boost your vitamin C intake!

Duck eggs!

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Oh it feels like it’s been a long wait! Earlier this year we bought a flock of Welsh Harlequin ducks, because I wanted more eggs and had read about the nutritional superiority of duck eggs over chook eggs…especially in regards to tooth remineralisation.

So we got our flock. And waited. And waited. Most of the ducks were born December ’16, so weren’t of laying age yet, but two of them were of age and still we had no eggs.

Now in the past week, we’ve struck gold. All the ducks seem to be laying and we even have surplus.

Duck eggs are hard to find, looking online I couldn’t see anyone selling them in the Toowoomba region!

We will have 1-2 dozen a week available to sell. They’ll be $10 dozen (it’s common to pay about $1 per duck egg when you can find them) and the ducks diet consists of high protein grain mix that’s been 48 hour-fermented, organic veg scraps from our garden, insects they forage from the paddock and dam that they free-range in and sometime a bit of milk kefir.

How are duck eggs any different to chicken eggs? They’re bigger, they’re higher in fat, higher in calories, higher in omega 3 fatty acids, higher in protein, have much larger yolks, have much harder shells and a richer flavour.

Due to our limited supply, the eggs won’t be on our online store…so just ask us if you’re interested and we’ll let you know what’s available.

War On Waste Toowoomba Workshop

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Don’t you just love when you can visit or holiday at a location that’s still pristine? No rubbish, very few people, lots of trees and wildlife. That’s what we go for when going on holidays.

But places like that are becoming few are far between because of the excessive waste our culture produces. Many of you would have seen the ABC’s War on Waste series. And I know it’s making a difference, we have a handful of plastic-free customers at Birdsong.

But what else can you do? Simple Living Toowoomba are hosting a War On Waste Workshop in August, aimed at empowering people to make changes in the way they shop and live that will cut back on waste and give future generations a better world to live in! http://simplelivingtoowoomba.weebly.com/

Here’s the details:

War on Waste Workshop

Date: 19 August

Time:ย 10.00-12 noon.

Cost:ย $5

Where:ย Range Christian Fellowship, 15 Blake St, Wilsonton

What: This workshop will be full of ideas on how to reduce your waste. In the first half of the workshop we will have heaps of tips, tricks and products to help you reduce your plastic and disposable product use. Racheal will be demonstrating how easy it is to make beeswax wraps which can be used instead of Clingwrap.ย  This part of the workshop is really a forum where we are hoping that lots of people bring their hints on how to reduce waste. With plastic free July wrapping up you may have lots of ideas on whatย ‘disposable’ products can be replaced with reusable/washable ones.

The second half of the workshop will be presented by Ann from the Toowoomba Regional Council.ย  She will be talking about composting, worm farming and yellow bin recycling. There will also be time to ask any questions that you may have.

Bookings Required:ย 16 August to simplelivingtoowoomba@gmail.com

We will also have a home grown and hand made swap where you can bring up to five items that you have grown or made and then swap them for other items that are brought along. The swap will begin at 9.50am so you will need to have your items on the table by 9.45am. ย 

 

Hand-Harvested Carrots

By | The Balance | No Comments

Have you ever seen organic carrots at $9/kg? We have, and though ours are priced lower, I can understand why some are valued so high.

Friday just gone saw Rick, myself and our eldest 3 children harvesting a twenty meter bed of rainbow mix carrots. Now how long do you think that would take 5 people, to pick, trim, wash and weigh one bed of carrots (by hand)?

Just over 3 hours I think it was. 60kg of carrots came out of that bed, and five of us were working solidly for that 3 hours to get the job done!

For years I was one of those people who didn’t want to pay more than $2/kg for carrots (broad acre carrots of course). It’s all done by machine on those farms…big diesel powered machines chugging through the crop.

But at Birdsong it’s all hand harvested, and that takes time, and lots of helping hands! So at $5/kg, our 60kg of carrots from that bed are worth $300. Now, $300 divided by the 5 labourers gives you $60 per labourer, and about $20 per hour for each labourer…BUT, that doesn’t include all the time Rick spent preparing the bed for planting, sowing the seed, setting up irrigation, weeding etc. So it’s actually much less than $20 per hour per labourer. That also didn’t take into account the cost of the seeds (have you seen how expensive rainbow carrot seeds are?!), the cost of the irrigation set up, the mineral balancing (our mineral mix compost pile cost about $5000 to make for example) and the rest.

Thankfully we have lovely customers who don’t complain about the price (which is very low anyway, when you see all the work and costs associated with growing decent veg), but I just wanted to give you this little post to consider, because our culture is bombarded with cheap food. I know most people think food is too expensive, but the people saying that are generally the ones who haven’t tried growing veg themselves, or raising and butchering their own meat. Your view might change once you have. I know that after we killed, gutted and plucked 11 roosters for the freezer one day, I decided I would never again complain about the cost of store bought free range/organic chicken. It’s really not expensive at all when you know what goes into producing it!

Inspired by Little Seed: Tempura Cauliflower

By | Recipes | No Comments

Last week Carnivore Rick and I did something different and went out to dinner with some friends at Little Seed (next to Wray Organics for all you locals).

I say different, because when Rick says he wants to go out for dinner, he’s generally already got his heart set on the Reef and Beef at the Meringandan Hotel! But this time we both wanted to try Little Seed, a vegan/plant based restaurant in town. They’ve started buying our produce recently and we were keen to see what they were creating with it, and also to taste more of their range (because the first day we went there the salads and hot chocolate they gave us to try left a very positive impression! Yum!).

We were very impressed. They are definitely gifted chefs. One of the entree’s, the fried cauliflower wings, was especially delicious, and inspiring, because we had a stack of cauliflower at home to play with. Rick strongly suggested I try making the fried cauliflower at home.

Ours wasn’t quite the same as Little Seeds (theirs was amazing!), but it was still delicious, and the children loved it! This was encouraging, because they usually whinge like there’s no tomorrow if I tell them we’re not eating any meat for dinner!

Excuse the photo, I’d been working in the paddock that day and couldn’t be bothered with stylish food photography!

Here’s what we did:

Tempura batter:

200g organic stoneground flour

4 eggs, separated

4Tbsp cold pressed olive oil

Extra oil for frying

And your cauliflower of course. This much batter should see you through a large cauliflower. We used several smaller purple cauliflower from the garden.

If you are using a standard cauliflower from the shops, you should cook your florets in boiling water for 2 minutes before battering them. Our homegrown cauliflower didn’t require pre-cooking.

Grab a large bowl and add your flour and a pinch of salt

Whisk your egg yolks and 350ml water together. Then whisk this into the flour and add the oil.

Sorry to make more washing up, but now you need to grab a clean bowl and whisk those 4 egg whites until they’re stiff, and then you can fold them into the rest of the batter.

Now the fun part, heat that frying oil and start coating your cauliflower florets in batter and frying them for a couple of minutes until they colour the way you like them ๐Ÿ™‚ If they’re big, you may need to fry each side separately. Now place your cooked tempura cauliflower on a plate with paper towel and try to make sure you save some for the rest of your family!

PS I’m sorry to say we’re sold out of cauliflower until the next rotation is ready for harvest! But I wanted to share this with you anyway.

Update- Potential PCYC Markets Stall

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

It had always been a consideration of ours…having a stall at the markets. But getting the business going and the constant input the garden needs had kept the idea on the back burner.

But this past few weeks we’ve been gearing up to finally take our produce to market ๐Ÿ™‚ Though we love having people collect their produce directly from us (and we’ll still be doing that), we totally get that for some people, adding another trip to their week to collect produce is difficult. But the markets are great, because you can generally get all your produce in one hit.

So we’re aiming to have a stall at the Sunday PCYC markets soon…within a month, but hopefully more like within a fortnight. The gazebo/marquee has arrived, and now we just need a little more equipment and we’ll be good to go.

An added bonus is that we carry electronic payment facilities, which hardly any vendors offer at the PCYC markets. There’s also not a lot of organic produce there yet…it’s mostly conventionally farmed produce from the Rocklea markets. So hopefully our local, organic produce from mineral enriched soil will take off there!

We welcome any ideas and feedback ๐Ÿ™‚

Flower Artistry with Belle Bouquets!

By | Farm Gate Stall | No Comments

Ok, this one is nothing to do with veggies…though you could admire these beautiful bouquets at the dinner table while eating our veggies ๐Ÿ™‚

But I want to let you all know about this, as I know some of you would love to learn some floral artistry!

Who would like to spend a winter afternoon relaxing with good conversation and playing with flowers where you will be able to learn some tips and tricks to making your arrangements not only look amazing but last longer? Belle Bouquets is a small floral business run by Lisel Vonhoff and she has a workshop running on 29th July from 1pm-2:30pm in the front room at Canvas Coworking Inc in Toowoomba. This would be perfect for a Mum and her daughters to enjoy! The event is hosted by Ladies Stepping Out Lifestyle and you can book your tickets here – https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/belle-bouquets-work-shop-tickets-35556729134 or for more information contact Lisel at shop@bellebouquets.com.au

Cauliflower Rice

By | Recipes | No Comments

Crates of purple cauliflower. That’s what I was faced with in the cold room the other day. Yes, it’s been selling (who wouldn’t want purple vegetables?!), but there’s so much of the stuff that we needed a new way to use it.

One customer mentioned she was making cauliflower rice with her cauliflower, so we decided to give that a go.

It’s so easy! You just remove the bulk of the stem from the cauliflower, grate the rest (we simplified things and used the food processor) and then heat a few tablespoons of oil/butter on the frypan or a large saucepan and gently cook the cauliflower ‘rice’ for 6-8 minutes. We also added some garlic for a flavour boost. Rick and I loved it. The children were a little disappointed they couldn’t have ‘real’ rice with the butter chicken…but they got over it!

And I did have a pic of the finish product…but it mysteriously disappeared from my phone!

What about you, how do you like to use your cauliflower? I notice on the menu for Little Seed Restaurant is fried cauliflower wings in sesame and lime…sounds amazing!