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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-Essentials 

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. 🙂

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 🙂

Onion, Garlic and Leek

By | Farm Gate Stall | One Comment

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 🙂

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!