12 of 12 April 2015

Today was the Derwent Valley Autumn Festival, which is one of the biggest events held in the Valley each year.

The weather forecast wasn’t sensational, but there wasn’t any rain or wind forecast, so we had everything crossed that it would be a nice day. It was a chilly 7 degrees in the morning when we woke up, and by the time Juniordwarf and I arrived at the festival just before 10.00 it was 11 degrees. I wished I’d worn some more layers, as the day’s top was only 15. At least it didn’t rain!

1 of 12 - Pre-show selfies

1 of 12 – Pre-show selfies

Juniordwarf and I were scheduled to do a half-hour slot on our community radio station’s outside broadcast from the festival at 10.00 but, due to circumstances beyond our control, we ended up doing the whole hour until 11.00 – which is Juniordwarf’s normal timeslot on the radio, but today he’d been looking forward to getting off early and looking round the festival, so he was a bit irritable during the second half hour.

2 of 12 - On air (thanks to one of our lovely volunteers for taking the photo)

2 of 12 – On air (thanks to one of our lovely volunteers for taking the photo)

He’d been eyeing off this climbing maze from where we’d been sitting, so that was the first place he went to.

3 of 12 - Kid heaven

3 of 12 – Kid heaven

20150412-13 Climbing maze

$5 to play for as long as you like, though I’m not sure it means you get to abandon your child there while you go and explore the rest of the festival. Thankfully I had another responsible adult (Juniordwarf’s grandmother) with me, so I could run off and do a couple of things I needed to get done while he was having fun.

4 of 12 - This looked like fun

4 of 12 – This looked like fun

There was heaps of stuff to do and see and eat and drink.

We bought chocolate wheel tickets.

5 of 12 - Lions Chocolate Wheel

5 of 12 – Lions Chocolate Wheel

We won nothing.

We checked out the local railway society’s display.

6 of 12 - Derwent Valley Railway

6 of 12 – Derwent Valley Railway

Juniordwarf lined up very patiently for a long time to go on this attraction. I know it’s heaps of fun for the kids, but it always seems weird to hand your child over to a complete stranger who then seals them inside an oversized beach ball!

7 of 12 - Juniordwarf getting blown up inside a beach ball

7 of 12 – Juniordwarf getting blown up inside a beach ball

7 of 12 - Who knew rolling around in over-sized beach balls could be so much fun!

8 of 12 – Who knew rolling around in over-sized beach balls could be so much fun!

9 of 12 - Lots of people

9 of 12 – Lots of people

One of the new features of the festival this year was the Taste of the Valley, where local producers talked about their produce. We were treated to a lesson in making beef stock and sauce by the fabulous Ashley from Two Metre Tall.

9 of 12 - Our favourite mad scientist brewer makes beef stock

10 of 12 – Our favourite mad scientist brewer makes beef stock

I thought the raspberries had finished for the season and was pleasantly surprised to find lots of them at Westerway Raspberry Farm’s stall (probably should have taken the picture before I started eating them).

10 of 12 - Raspberries

11 of 12 – Raspberries

We bought soap from the lovely Veronica from Veronica Foale Essentials and her able assistant Kim, who was SUPER HELPFUL!

11 of 12 Soap by Veronica

12 of 12 Soap by Veronica

Unfortunately I missed out on seeing the snakes this year. They are usually a highlight for me, but we didn’t get there before they packed up.

Just before we started getting ready to leave, Juniordwarf wanted to take the camera for a while. So as a special bonus, here’s 12 of 12 from the festival from Juniordwarf’s perspective (slightly cropped but otherwise as he saw it).

It was interesting to see the things that caught his eye. I think I should let him do this more often!

1 of 12 – That looks pretty good.

20150412-02 Autumn Festival

2 of 12 – Cute car

20150412-04 Autumn Festival - Wine Car

3 of 12-  Jane from Two Metre Tall in action

20150412-05 Autumn Festival - Jane

4 of 12 – Pat from Tynwald Estate with some of their Wessex Saddleback ham.

20150412-08 Autumn Festival - Tynwald

5 of 12 – Jam from Westerway Raspberry Farm

20150412-10 Autumn Festival - Berries

6 of 12 – A random festival goer enjoying a Forester Ale from Two Metre Tall

20150412-11 Autumn Festival - Me

7 of 12 – Veronica and her able assistant Kim and a lot of yummy soap

20150412-16 Autumn Festival - Kim and Veronica

8 of 12 – Big Red Box

20150412-17 Autumn Festival - Big Red Box

9 of 12 – A very large dog (he cut its nose off)

20150412-19 Autumn Festival - Dog

10 of 12 – Some coats.

20150412-20 Autumn Festival - Coats

11 of 12 – Wandering players

IMG_1104

12 of 12 – One of the four entertainment stages

20150412-27 Autumn Festival - Band

 

 

Advertisements

Tassievore Eat Local Challenge Week 1 – Food Forager

I’ve been busy walking this week, so I haven’t given the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge my full attention.

I wrote a post about getting started last week,  and have been doing what I can for Week 1’s challenge, which has been to “seek out Tasmanian food and drinks . . . whether an old apple tree on the side of the road, a bottle of wine you haven’t tried before, or a recipe that has tweaked your interest”.

Funnily enough, the apple trees on the side of the road that I noticed last Sunday got pruned to within an inch of their lives during the week. Something about power lines, I believe . . .

Foraging at my house is primarily the search for eggs.

The oldest chicken decided long ago that the laying box wasn’t for her and has taken to laying in a spot in some bushes that we’ve nicknamed The Egg Butty. This comes from something Juniordwarf used to do when he was very small, and it kind of stuck. She’s had more than one Egg Butty over the years, but this is the current go-to spot.

Egg Butty

Egg Butty

The new chickens are gradually getting used to laying and are figuring out where to do it. One of them has even found the laying box.

Laying box

Laying box

The other one has decided it’s better to lay in the very back of the chook house, between the two perches, right in the chook shit from the night. She invariably knocks the perches off and we have to perform contortionist acts to get the egg and set the perches back up.

Not the laying box

Not the laying box

Foraging in my own back yard.

One of the new chickens

One of the new chickens

I also got 2 strawberries off my plant this week. I think that’s about 10 now. None of the other plants have fruited, so 6 plants for $10, and 10 strawberries = $1 per strawberry. Bargain! At least they aren’t fumigated with methyl bromide.

Gourmet strawberries

Gourmet strawberries

And by happy accident I discovered a self-seeded oregano plant in amongst my pennyroyal in one of the most shady parts of the yard. How it got there is anyone’s guess, but I’m not complaining.

Feral oregano

Feral oregano

Because I managed to kill my raspberry plants, I didn’t get any raspberries this year. So as a consolation, I’ve been drinking the raspberry cider from Two Metre Tall. It’s very good.

My main source of raspberries this year

My main source of raspberries this year – note deliberately out of focus cider so you can read the sign in the background (ahem)

I had a couple of ideas of new places to go foraging, but other things got in the way and I didn’t make it.

I did pick up some Tasmanian produce from Eumarrah in Hobart, and I really like the new labelling that Hill St Grocer has for its fruit and vegetables.

Apples at Eumarrah

Apples at Eumarrah

Garlic at Eumarrah

Garlic at Eumarrah

Hill St's produce labelling

Hill St’s produce labelling

This morning we went to our local market, the Big River Growers Market, which has some wonderful people with fantastic produce (and also excellent laksa).

Big River Growers Market

Big River Growers Market

20150307 Big River Market 1 20150307 Big River Market 2 20150307 Big River Market 3

Laksa!

Laksa!

And we were walking past a new business that has recently opened, so decided to have a look in there and picked up a few different vegetables as well.

Spud Hut

Spud Hut

So we ended up getting a pretty good haul for the weekend.

Weekend's haul

Weekend’s haul

And dinner tonight was accompanied by one of my favourite wines (which I foraged for in my fridge because I needed wine for the dinner recipe . . .)

Derwent Estate Chardonnay

Derwent Estate Chardonnay

Week 2’s challenge is to “grow your own”.

I used to be a gardening fanatic, but since we’ve been in this house – in fact probably since we had Juniordwarf – my commitment to the garden has declined and I haven’t grown anything (successfully) for several years.

Perhaps this is the time to fix that.

Stay tuned.

12 of 12 May 2014

Monday 12 May was the start of the second week of school. All the good work I’d done getting back into a walking routine before the holidays started has gone out the window and I’m back to doing nothing. I just can’t bring myself to set the alarm for 5am . . .

1 of 12 – and the reason for this is probably because I’ve been staying up until after midnight most nights. Yesterday’s excuse was that I was reliving some of the fun of the weekend’s Eurovision Song Contest.

20140512-01B Euorovision

2 of 12 – I’m still struggling with trying to give up fructose. I made this choc-nut granola from Sarah Wilson’s new book to try and console my sweet tooth.

20140512-02 Granola

3 of 12 – It’s autumn! St David’s Park is looking very pretty.

IMG_6006

4 of 12 – This is what’s left of the old Government Print Building and the old PABX building in Salamanca Place.

20140512-04 Parliament Square

5 of 12 – I’m not being very successful at drinking more water during the day either.

IMG_6009

6 of 12 – Monday is a heavy walking day. Time to bust out the new shoes.

20140512-06 Walking

7 of 12 – Macquarie Street late afternoon. I want to know that little box on top of that building is.

20140512-07 Macquarie Street

8 of 12 – Pretty autumn colour.

IMG_6013

9 of 12 – It’s getting darker a lot earlier now.

20140512-09A Moon over Hobart

10 of 12 – Juniordwarf’s current thing on the way home is to stop in the ABC Shop and look at the Ben & Holly books.

IMG_6022

11 of 12 – Jack’s back!

20140512-11A 24

12 of 12 – Every time one of the Diggers Club catalogues arrive in the mail I feel very miserable that I’ve done nothing in the garden recently.

IMG_6030

12 of 12 April 2014

12 April 2014 was a Saturday. It’s the weekend before Easter and leading up to the last three days of school for the term. I’m tired. After the Walk in her Shoes challenge ended, I couldn’t manage to get out of bed in the mornings to go for a walk. Not even my shiny new shoes could tempt me. This week, I finally started doing it again.

1 of 12 – The streets are deserted this early in the morning.

Image

2 of 12 – The leaves are starting to change. Autumn is here.Image

3 of 12 – On the weekend I can get up a bit later and walk when it’s light. We live in a beautiful place.

Image

4 of 12 – Saturday is local market day, and I look forward to laksa for breakfast every week.

Image

5 of 12 – I recently decided to stop having milk in my coffee. I’m a long black drinker now. We go through a lot less milk now, and I drink a lot less coffee. I think my coffee addiction was actually a caffeine milkshake addiction.

Image

6 of 12 – Juniordwarf said that knitting was his new hobby. He’s never knitted before, but he wanted to do it. So we went (in his space ship) to Planet Knitting and I started to show him how. I didn’t think I’d remember what to do, but it all came back to me quite quickly.

Image

7 of 12 – I filled this garden bed with chook poo and straw for 4 months, before starting on the next one. The idea is to fill them, let them rot for a few months and then start planting in them. This one is ready to go.

Image

8 of 12 – My poor zucchini plant.

Image

9 of 12 – I’ve managed to grow one paltry tomato this year. No, make that two. I suck at gardening.

Image10 of 12 – Juniordwarf has just started to read some Enid Blyton books for the first time. He said that the garden is “The Enchanted Garden” and we’ll have adventures there. Today we climbed the Faraway Tree.

Image

11 of 12 – The teddies’ Easter Party has been on the calendar for weeks. It was on tonight and involved singing, dancing and a 6 course menu.

Image

12 of 12 – I’m trying to increase my vegetable intake so I’m looking for ideas on different ways to cook them. Thanks State Library for your excellent selection of cook books.

Image

Tassievore Eat Local Challange – Week 4: Tassievore Dinner Party

Once I’d finished my epic 12 km walk on Saturday, it was time to start preparing my feast for the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge. This was Week 4’s mini-challenge: to have a dinner party where all the food is from Tasmania.

I’ll put my confessions up front. The butter we had in the fridge wasn’t Tasmanian, and I forgot to buy some of the Tassie butter. I didn’t buy Tasmanian olive oil. And I’m pretty sure sugar and coconuts don’t grow here. I also used salt, which I didn’t think could be obtained from Tasmania either. (But I later found Spice Tasmania, which does produce a salt blend locally – but from the information on the website, it looks like it’s a blend designed for cooking with fish, not as a general table/cooking salt.)

Now that’s out of the way, I can get on with the post!

“Dinner party” implies more people than just us, so I invited Lil Sis, Mr Tall and their friend Mr Not-as-Tall. Two of these people have worked as chefs, so there was no pressure. None at all.

I decided on my menu earlier in the week:

Course 1 – Dips and vegetables

Course 2 – Pumpkin soup and bread

Course 3 – Slow roast beef from Two Metre Tall with roasted pumpkin, beetroot and baby spinach salad

Course 4 – Apple crumble with Valhalla Ice Cream

Course 5 – Pyengana cheese and the black garlic I bought in Week 1

I bought the ingredients during the week, making sure I was only shopping at Tasmanian businesses (from my previous post) and I was only buying Tasmanian products.

My main problem was getting hold of Tasmanian pumpkin – there didn’t seem to be a lot of it around. I’m not sure if it’s a bit too early in the season, but I was almost at the point of changing the menu to carrot soup, when I finally found some at Eumarrah. Day saved!

I made myself a running sheet so I knew what I had to be doing when. If you’re doing a multi-course dinner I would highly recommend doing this so you don’t forget anything and everything’s ready at the right time.

And here’s how it happened . . .

After I got back from my walk, I put the beef bones (souced from Two Metre Tall quite some time ago) into the oven to roast for the beef stock. I’d never done roasted beef bone stock before, but it’s a great way to do it and the stock I ended up with was fantastic.

Image

While they were roasting, we headed off to the local market for some veggies and some take-home laksa for lunch, because I knew I wouldn’t have time to do anything for lunch.

When we got home, it was time to put the bones and vegetables into the stock pot. It simmered away all day and I took out the stock as I needed it.

Image

At midday I got the beef (a 2.3 kg piece of chuck steak we’d picked up from Two Metre Tall on Friday) ready for the slow cooker.

Image

I seasoned it with salt and pepper, seared it all over and put it in the pot with vegetables, some of the Tasmanian mountain pepper berries that I bought in Week 1, and a cooking liquid that used some of the stock and might have included some of this.

Image

Image

At the same time I roasted the beetroot and garlic in the oven for the beetroot dip.

Image

Once I’d made the two dips (tzatziki and beetroot – using Elgaar yogurt), I had a bit of a break so I could do some housework (yay) and get the dining room ready for guests.

The cooking-in-earnest phase began at 4.00, when I cut up the pumpkins for the soup and salad, the beetroots and the apples. If you ever have to cut up a lot of pumpkin, I suggest allowing about an hour for this task.

Image

Image

The soup cooked away nicely, the salad veggies roasted very well, the apples stewed, the dips were ready for a 6.00 start and I was ready to do this.

Image

The rest of the evening was busy, making sure everything was ready with the other things it was meant to be ready with. You know, things like cider.

Image

I used the Tasmainan mountain pepper in the soup. I served it with woodfired bread from Redlands Estate that we got from the market and cream from Elgaar – and chives from Lil Sis’ garden.

Image

Image

The beef roast was divine. I think it’s the best beef roast I’ve ever done and I’ll definitely do this again. Especially as it needs a bottle of wine to be opened.

Image

I loved the beetroot and pumpkin salad that went with it – the highlight of this was the Tasmanian walnuts from Tamar Valley Organic, (that I got from City Organics). They were cracked open and scattered over the top straight away. Fresh, unopened walnuts are infinitely superior to the opened ones that you can buy in the shops. I always thought I didn’t like walnuts, but now I know I don’t like pre-opened ones. These were wonderful.

Image

The accompanying wine for the main course was another Derwent Estate. This time a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, which we love, and managed to get the last 5 bottles from the cellar door a couple of years ago. A worthy wine for this dinner!

ImageImage

I found a very strange recipe for apple crumble online, and the topping reminded me more of an ANZAC biscuit than a crumble topping. It worked pretty well, although I think I could have done with 3 or 4 more apples because they weren’t very big.

Image

We finished off the evening with some Pyengana cheddar cheese and the black garlic I bought in Week 1. It had an interesting flavour and I think it complemented the cheese (and wine) very well.

Image

And that was it. A huge day of cooking. Done. I survived and everyone seemed to be happy.

I really don’t like cooking very much. The only time I enjoy it is when it’s something I can do over a few hours, have a glass (or two) of wine while I’m doing it and get totally immersed in it. This ticked all those boxes, and the fact that it was so close to being completely Tasmanian made me very happy (I’m still annoyed I forgot about the butter though).

I might do it again one day.

sunday selections: hunting the fagus

Today’s post is a Sunday Selections post for River, which I haven’t participated in for ages.
 

One thing that wasn’t on my 100 things to do in 2013 list but should have been because it’s something I’d wanted to do for ages, and that is to go and see the fagus in autumn. 
 
Fagus, for the unaware, is also known as deciduous beech (or if you want to be scientific, Nothofagus gunnii) and is the only winter-deciduous tree in Australia. The only place it grows is Tasmania, mostly in remote highlands areas above 800 metres.
Every year around this time I see spectacular pictures that people have taken of the turning of the fagus, as the leaves go through the autumnal colour change. And every time I think I should go up and have a look, and it never seems to be the right time, and I miss out, thinking I’ll do it the next year. And by the time spring and summer have hit, I’ve forgotten all about it (which is why it wasn’t on the list).
This year it was different. I started seeing posts about people’s trips to Mt Field a couple of weeks ago, when the colours started changing and decided that this was the year I was going to go. 
So we blocked out the day and headed off to Mt Field. We had a vague idea of where to start looking and thought that bright yellow and orange leaves should stand out pretty well – which indeed they did.
Our first stop was at the boulder field, where there is a short walk amongst the rocks, and a few fagus trees growing nearby. These had only just started to turn yellow, so we hoped we hadn’t come too early. 
Oh yes, there was also snow. It’s pretty cold up there at the moment.

We drove a bit further up to Lake Fenton, which is in Hobart’s drinking water catchment. There’s some spectacular trees around the lake, including the beautiful snow gums that we saw last time we were there
There’s also fagus! The trees here were more advanced in colour than the ones lower down and we weren’t the only people taking photos. The main problem I had was trying to take photos of some delicate little leaves that were constantly moving in the wind. Not an easy task. But I got a couple of photos I was happy with, so it was worth the trip.

 Apparently there is another area in the park where the fagus grows; this is the Tarn Shelf, which is higher up in the park and involves a two-three hour walk. Not really an option with Juniordwarf in tow (based on previous experience of longer walks), but perhaps that can go on next year’s 100 things list.

Trout Weekend

 We’ve just returned from a weekend at Liawenee in Tasmania’s Central Plateau. Apparently it is the coldest place in Tasmania. Clearly somewhere you really want to go heading into winter . . .

We went for the Inland Fisheries’ annual Trout Weekend, which is held at IFS’ Field Station, near Great Lake. We decided that rather than drive up and back in a day, we’d stay up there overnight, so it was a nice weekend getaway.

Among the things to see and do was the angling pool, where kids could catch trout; watching trout being stripped of eggs (a very strange thing to see); and helicopter rides, which we decided at the last minute to do, because it’s not an opportunity that you get every day.

It was a fun weekend and, although it was cold and there was some snow on the ground, it wasn’t as freezing as we’d expected. Today was a beautiful, clear sunny day, perfect for our helicopter ride.

Juniordwarf was very excited to catch a fish from the trout pool, and was even more excited when he got a certificate (he’s highly motivated by certificates at the moment). He thought it was great to catch a fish that he could eat for dinner – only once it was on his plate, he said he didn’t like it and filled up on carrots instead.

For the record, the trout was 35 cm long and weighed 600 grams. Not a huge trophy fish, but perfect for the three of us.

On the way home, we stopped to have a look at the Steppes Stones, which are some wonderful sculptures by Stephen Walker in the middle of the bush.

Great Lake at Miena – trying out the AutoStitch Panorama app on my phone

Great Lake at Miena

Great Lake Hotel, where we stayed

Juniordwarf was fascinated by the egg stripping

IFS officer talking about egg stripping

Juniordwarf and his fish

Near Liawenee

Helicopter ride

Helicopter ride

View of Great Lake from the helicopter

Helicopter ride

We stopped to look at the fantastic Steppes Stones on the way home

The Steppes Stones by Stephen Walker

The Steppes Stones

Country road, take me home . . .  (outside Bothwell)