What’s on the Menu Tonight?

This post is inspired by a Facebook friend who’s also a gardener. She often asks in a group we belong to “what’s on the menu tonight at your place?” and follows with gorgeous meals she’s prepared for her family. I thought it’d be lovely to share our family celebration with you all tonight.

Uni exam results came out today and my crew both got outstanding marks – my household has plenty to celebrate! So tonight we decided on a favourite simple, healthy meal.

I picked wild rocket, endives, young silverbeet, spring onions, tender new kale and some surprise new lettuce that self-seeded from last year.

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A little grated carrot (mine aren’t ready yet), some chopped young mushrooms and cubed Danish Fetta cheese completed the combo. I don’t like a lot of dressing on my salads, and use just a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of rice wine vinegar.

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The end result was just scrumptious – and we had it with oven fries and barbecue steak.

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As usual, the guys handled the meat and chips – and overloaded my plate! But it was fabulous and a great way to celebrate their tremendous achievements ♡

Whining and Winning

I’ve been complaining – no, let’s give it the proper title – whining for weeks about the weather.
After gorgeous sunshine yesterday, and nearly a full day weeding, I woke up to leaden skies and my buck rabbit Barabas, thumping the ground to let me know a thunderstorm was on the way. I love a good thunderstorm, though the rabbits and chickens probably wouldn’t agree but the rain is back. And frankly, we’re all sick of it!
The only positive things are the water tanks are still full and the amount of green feed we’re getting for the chickens and large growth of treats for the rabbits – chicory, nasturtiums, thistles and blackberry leaves especially.
To give you some idea of what I’m facing, this is a picture of a garden bed – not a weed patch.
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This was last weeded and mulched six short weeks ago. Underneath all this is a lovely small-growing bottlebrush that brings native birds into the garden, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower and silverbeet. I made a start yesterday but after the storm passed this morning, I couldn’t quite face mud-filled boots, so I switched to weeding the raspberry bed.
This has been another of my ongoing experiments. Last year I tried planting bare-rooted canes along my north facing wall but some very inventive starlings and a ridiculously hot summer saw all casualties and no survivors.
This winter, I tried again with a few bare-rooted canes in a raised bed in front of the greenhouse – with ample bird-netting! And again, nothing! But I did get a brilliant crop of mushrooms, so no real complaints.
In desperation, I bought a pot of sprouting Chilcotin canes from the local hardware centre a few weeks ago and literally emptied the pot into the bed alongside the canes that didn’t take. Finally, raspberries are growing and forming beautifully in my garden. Imagine my surprise then, as I was about to pull out what I thought was a dead cane today and spotted new growth from the base of two seemingly dead canes!
After all that whining, finally a win!

Elusive Spring

As you’ve probably gathered, the weather in southern Tasmania has been pretty awful, with unseasonal rain and colder weather. As we come to the end of November, it’s starting to feel like spring – about three months later than expected!
This morning I couldn’t sleep, so was up and out in the yard before 7am. It was damp and cool, but lovely. Undoubtedly my favourite time of the day and the chickens and rabbits were happy to see me – and get an early breakfast!
All the wet weather has played havoc with some of the plants. The few tomatoes I have outside are struggling, as are the corn and zucchini plants. Berries are the hardest hit, but my Chilcotin raspberries are in a raised bed and covered with bird netting so I think there’ll be a few sweet treats by Christmas. The boysenberry (a new addition) has set a few fruit so now the big issue will be keeping the birds off.
After the disastrous heat of last summer, I lost all but one of my strawberries. So in winter, I potted up the last little survivor and put it in the greenhouse for safe keeping, waiting for runners so I could propagate more plants.
Imagine my delight when I went in to water this morning and found not runners but a clump of perfect fruit – and some ripe enough for breakfast. Let’s hope that spring is finally here 😀
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Back to University and Beautiful Friends

Well, today is momentous. I am now officially back at University! I’m a little scared still but very excited about getting back into scan reading mountains of papers and books for references, making coherent arguments in essays and referencing it all correctly – oh dear, what have I done??!!! No, seriously – it’ll be fun once I get back into the swing 😉

Thanks to my beautiful friends Lauren and Patsi, I’ve been able to log on and join in the discussion board and download extra material that Griffith University didn’t post to me. Yes, I still don’t have a dedicated internet connection at home and sadly, I haven’t been able to keep up with my NaBloPoMo committments, but I’m doing my best.

Over the weekend, I also had some great times with other beautiful friends, namely Jax and Malcolm Battersby. Mal and I played a really nice gig at the Richmond Festival. It was the inaugural Songwriters Concert at the festival and we got to work with some great local artists and the organiser – champion of original music, Roger Joseph.

The other truly beautiful thing is I heard a new song Jax’s written (as yet untitled) and it’s just gorgeous. I understand she’s going to debut it live at the ASA December 11th gig and I can’t wait to hear it again! I heard a rough from Belfry Studio but once the mix is finalised, it’ll be up on Jax’s Triple J Unearthed page. It’s so satisfying to see someone with so much raw talent start to blossom into a confident and accomplished writer and recording artist – it’s really inspirational!

All in all, a very satisfying time in my life – despite the lack of home internet.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful day too, wherever you are

Debra 🙂

Mal & Jax 24 Nov 2013

A Future of Love

Usually, my posts are centred around music, writing and urban farming, but today is an exception. Most of you won’t be aware that I studied Sociology and Political Science, and worked for a time as a policy analyst for a Tasmanian politician.
With all the things that are seriously wrong with my country at present – our horrific treatment of legal asylum-seekers, our federal government’s head-in-the-sand attitude to climate change, our appalling and disrespectful bullying towards our neighbour Indonesia – I am heartened and inspired by this news story.
In this lecture, our current (alas, soon to be past) Governor General, proposes an Australia that I want to live and participate in.  
The full article, from ABC’s Radio National, includes audio from the speech.
This week, a momentous piece of legislation was passed into law in Tasmania. It is no longer a criminal offence to have an abortion in this state. And further, anti-abortion activists will not be able to protest directly outside clinics.
In recent times, there have been attempts to pass other forward-thinking bills in Tasmania, enabling death with dignity and same sex marriage, but sadly,  these were defeated. And now, with parliament concluded for the year, we approach a state election in early 2014 that will likely see a return to conservative state government, similar to the Abbott-led federal picture.
But nevertheless, Bryce’s speech has given me hope. Yes, it’s idealistic to suppose that we as a nation will all willingly embrace a republic, or even same sex marriage but surely we are prepared now to acknowledge the right of women to be treated with equality in our workplaces and in the choices we make in our lives.
I long for the day when I can celebrate with my friends and family our status as a republic, our rights to choose for ourselves what we do with our bodies, aren’t institutionally or financially discriminated against because of our gender and can marry whoever we love if we want to.
That’s a future that I can live with.

Upcoming Gigs for the End of the 2013

Now that I’ve finished recording The Lucky Six, it’s time to spend a little attention on two live shows I’ve got in the immediate future.

Firstly, this Sunday 24th November, my partner in mayhem and music – Malcolm Battersby – is joining me for The Richmond Festival. We’re performing as The Fringe Dwellers at the Songwriters’ Concert and we’re both looking forward to it immensely! There’s some great Tasmanian songwriters on the bill with us, Marc Smith, Peter Hicks and the wonderful Wolf Arrow Rain.

If you’re in southern Tasmania, it’s worth the trip out to Richmond. It’s a lovely little hamlet and I have it on good authority that the weather should be fine after a damp morning…….

In December, it will be ten years since the Australian Songwriters Association (Tasmania) reignited at The Telegraph Hotel. Apart from making me feel really old, it’s fabulous to see how many performers from those days are still playing in venues here in Tasmania as well as interstate and overseas. In honour of the occasion, a very special ASA night is planned for Wednesday 11th December at The Night Owl Cafe in Liverpool Street, Hobart. The best part for me is that students of mine, Cassie O’Keefe, Kirsty Leaf and the fabulous Jax will all be performing, along with myself and Mal.

I couldn’t be prouder!

ASA 11th Dec poster

Back to the Future Garden

Amidst all the bunny porn I’ve been posting lately (a friend’s description – not mine!) there’s been other things happening.
Up until yesterday’s rain, the weather was lovely and warm. The Basil is starting to take off in the greenhouse and I’ve been trying to pot up a few more each day to increase the crop.
On the balcony garden, which is primarily a winter salad garden, I’ve started sorting out the planter boxes and I’m thinking baby carrots along with the usual mustard greens and Coriander for the summer and autumn.
Also I gathered a large amount of Kale pods to dry. This much maligned vegetable is one of my favourites, as well as being one of the hardiest plants for my climate. Finely shredded, it’s the mainstay of my winter salads and stir fries, and the flavour is definitely improved by a good frost. My favourite variety is the Italian Black Lacinato but I grow Russian Red in the backyard too for the tender new leaves and Broccoli-like heads – the chickens get plenty of it too!
Collecting seed can be tricky as Brassicas cross pollinate easily but it’s worth the extra effort for the satisfaction of growing your own. It’s an investment in the garden of the future.
Wherever you are, have a great day in your garden 😀
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