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With Easter this weekend I thought it might be time to make something for the Easter Bunny. We all know that bunnies love carrots and this cake would be the perfect treat, that’s if you want to share it with anyone special.

Easter for us is generally about going to Blues Fest in the Norther Rivers. This year we are waiting on our little one coming in to the world. We would usually stay with Roy’s folks in the rain forest and spend some time with them. As well as our friends in the area and others who come for the occasion we get to catch up with. Music for us always brings us together. We really should have a theme song, well I guess that is why Roy writes a music blog to catalog the music we do listen too.

I hope you all enjoy your Easter with either friends or family and eat some scrumptious food. If you leave a slice of this cake out for the Easter bunny you may get a real big Easter egg this year. Mind you I would prefer a slice of the cake instead.

Happy Easter


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Carrot Cake w Cream Cheese Icing Recipe
 
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Author:
Recipe type: cake, sweet
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup (250gm) brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of carrot, grated (about 2 lge)
  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Cream Cheese Icing
  • 300gm sugar
  • 125gm cream cheese
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1 tbsp milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180’c and line a round 23cm cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the sugar and oil into a large mixing bowl and stir to combine removing any lumps. Mix in the eggs, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Add the bicarb soda, flour, carrot and walnuts stirring again to combine. Pour the batter into the cake tin.
  4. Bake in the oven for 35 – 45 min or until its lightly golden on top and springs back in the middle when touched. Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool completely before making the icing.
  5. To make the icing place the sugar, cream cheese and milk into a medium sized mixing bowl, using an electric mixer combine. Add the lemon zest and continue stirring creating a stiff paste. Spread over the top of the cake and decorate with walnuts.

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Planning to have a new family member can be be a rather daunting task. There are so many things that come up and make you think about ‘are you making the right choice’. Most often the first concern of having a baby is how much is it going to cost. Roy and I are fairly low fuss people and both of us had childhoods that were very basic. No fancy stuff, not loads of toys or brand new clothes.

We were happy with what we had both of us agreed that the most important things are that we had a roof over our heads, food and clean clothes. So like our parents we have been given plenty of second-hand clothing and I presume I will shop for some when our little one does grow. Food is free, breast milk comes naturally and when we do start feeding our little one food we have a garden full of organic veggies. Our roof is only a humble shed but at least it doesn’t leak and we have a cot for out little one to sleep in. One day we will build a house and bub can have its own room, until then we are sharing our very limited space.

Needless to say when you look at our budget we still ended up spending a bit of money. Some of the most costly items were the baby carrier, cloth nappies and the maternity bras for me. I thought I would include in the budge things that I spent leading up to having a baby. Maternity wear can be truly expensive and some mums do have fancy office jobs which they do need to look nice at. Meanwhile farm work is not so glamorous I can get away wearing tights and an old t-shirt.

There are a few things you do need to purchase before the baby comes along that are essential. You must have a baby capsule in your car for transporting your baby home from hospital and around. Some form of nappies either cloth or disposable, you can take this one-step further and get a baby change table too. Also bub needs clothes to stay warm so you can op-shop like mad or buy things on-line or even splash out and go shopping.

BABY BUDGET

For any new mum the costs of having a baby can be quite frightening.

I Spent Average Cost*
Books about pregnancy & Parenting $60 $40 – $100
Toiletries for hospital $40 $30 – $80
Clothes during pregnancy $50 (tights & long singlets) $100 – $1000
Underwear during pregnancy $40 $20 – $50
Maternity Bras’ $90 I got two $75 for three
Change table n/a – using our washing machine $80 – $250
Cot / crib / bassinet $0 – given $230 ($100 – $850)
Car Capsule $76 – hire for 6 months $80 – Hire   $150 – New
Ergo Baby Carrier (or Pram) $180 $100 – $1200
Cloth Nappy pack $150 Cloth nappies x 24 $150 – $600
Totals: $686 $725 – $3855
After Baby is Born (first 6 months – ongoing costs)
Nappies $5 a month (laundry & power) $19 a month – Cloth washing$72 a month  – Disposables
Breast Feeding $0 $105 a month – Forumla
Baby Clothes $0  we have been given loads $59 a month
Toiletries for mum & bub $15 a month $21 a month
Total for first 6 months: $130 $595 – $912(excludes formula)

TOTALS:

$806

$1320 – $4767

Resources:

Gumtree – second hand items
Ebay – second hand items
*Baby Centre - baby budget calculator

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Mung Bean Dahl Recipe

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Last year we trialed growing mung beans in the garden, just one row. In total we harvest about 5 cups of mung beans from the row after two spurts in growth. The most tedious part of growing mung beans for home use is shelling them. They are so tiny and the shells dry quite hard which is tough on the hands after peeling them more than an hour. I spent four hours one day peeling them and I think I managed to get about two cups worth. I tried many techniques to peel them easily but nothing seemed as good as individually peeling. The whole idea of growing these mung beans was to see if they tasted the same as the ones you buy at the shop. A packet of mung beans costs less than $2 and we wanted to know if our homegrown organic ones would be better.

Roy loves dahl, he loves mung bean dahl more. I often make it for him when he comes home from PNG, it reminds him of his childhood growing up in the rainforest on a commune. The ate so many meals with lentils while I am from the country I grew up on beef. Lucky for me I also now love lentils and curries just as much as Roy does so we often eat them. My limited knowledge of curry making stops at this mung dahl and the old-fashioned curried sausages. I leave the curry cooking to Roy he seems much more in tune with it than I.

This recipe I have used for years to impress my man. The only difference is that I like my dahl relatively thick, still a little sloppy but holding itself together nicely. While Roy loves it sloppy and watery. How do you like your dahl?

Also we attempted to make roti for the first time to accompany the dahl, it was a right laugh. There is really a special technique involved with making roti. You need to have light fingers, a very oily bench and stay relaxed as much as possibly while flicking the dough. The recipe we used was from Gracie Cooks, she explains it really well plus hers look totally crispy unlike our lumps of fried dough. We are still yet to master roti. Click Here for her recipe. Also you can eat the dahl with chappatis’ if you like instead of roti.

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Mung Bean Dahl Recipe
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups mung beans
  • 1 tbsp (10g) ginger
  • 2 tbsp (10g) fresh coriander
  • 75g ghee (butter)
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Wash the mung beans and pick out any bad beans. Place into a large saucepan and cover with 3 cups of water. Peel the ginger and chop into four pieces and place in with mung beans. Wash the coriander and chop roughly and add to the pot. Bring the mung beans to a boil and cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes or until just soft. Discard the ginger from the pot.
  2. In a frypan dry fry the cumin until it starts to crackle. Turn down the heat and add the butter along with asafoetida, chili, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Add the mung bean mixture to the spices and stir carefully for five minutes. Add the garam masala and lemon juice stir through and check for seasoning adding more salt if required. Serve immediately with roti or chapatti.

 

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Baby Capsule : 1 Week to Go

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Last Friday we got our baby seat (capsule) fitted in our car. We now have every thing organised, even our car is ready for a baby. After talking to new mums around the place Roy and I decided on hiring a baby seat instead of buying one. There are plenty of places you can hire baby seats and other equipment around. However we stuck with going through the Queensland Ambulance Service. They seem to be the most popular and the same price as anywhere else.

There are plenty of cool nifty car seats available on the market these days, ones that clip into prams, ones with extra safety features and I’m sure there are ones that just look cool. When the guy installed our baby seat he said that these are one of the safest on the market. I just need to put in a towel and find some sort of baby head support for the car seat. One last little job, but not necessarily important straight away. We just need to get bub home from the hospital first before we take it out on big drives.

Now the waiting game begins… [click to continue…]

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Our first harvest of snake beans from the garden

Welcome to another round of the Garden Share Collective. The Garden Share Collective is a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. Creating a monthly community to navigate through any garden troubles and to rival in the success of a good harvest we will nurture any beginner gardener to flourish. Each month we set ourselves a few tasks to complete by the next month, this gives us a little push to getting closer to picking and harvesting. The long-term goal of the Garden Share Collective is to get more and more people gardening and growing clean food organically and sustainably.

March proved to be a challenging month in the garden again with the first few weeks being very hot and dry again. Yet the last week of the month the skies finally opened and dumped over 300ml at our place over the week. 200ml of that was in 24 hours. The pleasures of living in Queensland I guess. Great News, our tanks are finally full and my garden tanks will be able to provide plenty of water for me to keep my garden thriving through the drier months later in the year or give a good drenching after a scorcher day. No more fingers crossed waiting for rain. Hooray.

With the rainfall our plants managed to grow incredible big these past few weeks. I took a couple of before and after shots for you to see the difference in what the garden looked like at the end of last month (feb) and then the end of (march) which was last week. We have once again an abundance of zucchini’s and everything else is taking off getting ready for us to harvest again for the coming months.

I have planted out another rotation of seedlings this month into the garden and into trays to be planted in the coming weeks. I really want to master succession planting this year and not run out of food. I guess its easier said then done as at the moment we don’t have any tomatoes except a few split cherries left from the rain. Though it looks like int he come coming weeks we should have the next crop ready again of real tomatoes.

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Above: Our raised bed from last month which has grown incredibly. Small seedlings from last month and now big towering zucchini’s and silverbeet plants.

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Above: the tomatoes have quadrupled in size, while the potatoes have come up too. Below: The before and after of the zucchini’s and beans from last month.

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Above: Rhubarb in one of our raised beds

Planting: We have planted seeds like mad. This past month though we planted out the seedlings that did work. Things like; Broccoli, cabbage, kale, tomatillos (for Roy), silverbeet, tomatoes, garlic, zucchini’s, beans, asian greens, lettuce and also a bed of rhubarb. Our onions and leeks didn’t seem to do so well so will try and put them out as just seed. We are going to be planting another tray of seedlings any day now for us too, to keep the succession planting going.

Harvesting: With the rain over the past few weeks we have had plenty of zucchini’s. Another glut but a tasty one at that. The tomatoes have slowed and we are now waiting on the new ones which we planted out in Feb. Beans have just started doing well, both snake and green lake. The silverbeet has just come on nicely and the poor old kale is still getting munched on, so it’s very hit and miss.

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Above: Our cucumbers going up to save on space and start of our harvest. Below: A stripey zucchini which is meant to be a golden zucchini.

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To Do: With me about to have a baby, the plan is to fetilize the garden and for Roy to plant out any of our last seedlings. Roy will also do a dipel spray ever week to keep the cabbage month and cluster bug away from the kale. Otherwise its time to sit back and watch the garden produce us ample amounts of food for a month. I am going to put my feet up for the month, well I will try too anyways.

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Above: freshly planted out rows of broccoli, kale and silverbeet.

Below: One of my cabbages hanging on for dear life after being attacked by cluster grub, then grasshoppers and then cabbage white fly. Must keep using Dipel.

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GARDEN SHARE COLLECTIVE MEMBERS

 AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND   UNITED KINGDOM
 Eight Acres – Qld  Our Wee Farm  Spade Fork Spoon
 Melissa Loh- Qld  Five Course Garden  Mark’s Veg Plot
 Sunny Corner Farm  - NSW  The Fig Tree  The Landrovers Owners Wife
 Dig In Hobart - Tas  Living the Good Life  The Garden Deli
 Dusty Country Road - Vic  Frog Pond Farm  A Whole Plot of Love
 African Aussie - Qld  Cottage Tails  Shabby Chick
 A Fresh Legacy - Vic  Living our Good Life  An Urban Veg Patch
 Chole’s Garden - Vic  Alder & Ash
 Claire K Creations - Qld
 Bek’s Backyard - Vic
 Ock Du Spock - NSW  CANADA
 Helarious – NSW  Hiemstra Gardens
 Think Big. Live Simply – Vic
 The New Good Life – Vic
 Donna Digs – Vic
 Merryn’s Menu – NSW
 The Country Life Experiment – NSW
 Chez Skud – Vic
 Wild Thyme & Sweet Pea – NSW
 On The Ning Nang Nong – Vic
 13 Acres – Vic
 Poppy Fox – Vic

 

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Eggplant Bruschetta Recipe

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This year we have had an incredible number of eggplants from our veggie patch. I guess that is what happens when you plant so bloody many of them. Needless to say with the weather cooling we are seeing the last of the days of eggplants as winter creeps in.

The wonderful thing about eggplants in the garden is that they last a long time and are pretty hardy. Our plants should also get us another crop of eggplants when the weather warms again in spring and early summer. I just need to keep them well mulch, fertilized and the bugs off over winter. I have pruned them back and staked any of the larger trees ready for a small hibernation.

Eggplant bruschetta is quick and easy to make and super tasty. We ate this as a part of a lunch spread of bits of nibbles with bread. Perfect for when guests come around and sharing a communal plate of food in the middle of the table is one of my favourite things to do. I find that it is best served warm and a little sneaky pecorino grated on top makes a great combo.  [click to continue…]

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Birth Plan : 2 Weeks To Go

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I am 38 weeks now. This means that the baby could come at any point from now until week 42, so looks like we are having an April baby. My feet are swollen and I can’t seem to shake the fluid unless I stay on the couch at all times with my feet up in the air. My belly has increased in size this week a lot and when pregnant women refer to themselves as feeling heavy and whale like – I have finally reached that point and now understand.

A Birth Plan is not something everyone will have or want to think about. Me on the other-hand I like to be organised and I also like to know what I am getting myself into. Over the past few months I have done loads of reading about what could happen and researching my options while I am at the hospital. Us woman have rights you know.

With my student midwife I went over my lengthy version of my birth plan so she would know what I want and how I want to birth my baby. I have made a simplified version for the hospital when I go. A one pager with big letters, about the most important things. Its amazing how much the medical system has changed over the years and is now very accommodating.

My plan is to have a natural birth. Bringing this point across to the hospital staff is very important. Roy is going to be my spokesperson while I am in labour as I want to concentrate on my breathing and keeping myself as calm as possible. I have done loads of reading about Hypnobirthing and active labour. I have also been doing pregnancy yoga over the past few weeks with Carrie of Joy Mumma. I think I should be in my zen and if not, at least I know how to get into it.

A good birth plan needs to be very clear. Your partner must also understand your wishes along with any other midwife/doula you have engaged with for your birth. When you arrive at the hospital or birth centre you can also pass along your birth plan to the staff. Keep it to a one page number with bullet points, so it is easy to read and reference.

There are no right or wrong birth plans it is all down to the individual and the family. A few points that I really wanted to stress is that I want a natural birth, minimal monitoring, Roy as my spokesperson, I will provide my own water*, skin to skin contact immediately after birth, the cord to stop pulsating before cutting and no one is to ask how my level of pain is.

*I am a water snob, living on tank water I am blessed to have the best tasting stuff ever. So I don’t want to drink the water at the hospital.

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Our tanks are finally full. After installing our tanks in early December we have waited for rain for the past three months to fill them. I was getting rather nervous. With the imminent arrival of our first baby I was worried we might not have enough water. This past week we have recorded over 300mls which has been a blessing to the ground as well as our tanks. The first real rain for the year.

Working in sodden earth has its challenges, however the trees that have been planted out are happy in their new homes as the soil is damp around them. They also got watered in again yesterday. With the weather looking like a few more showers over the next few weeks they are off to a great start, better than our last planting. We had a drought straight after our last planting for four months. So fingers crossed this time we get a steady rainfall each month to keep them moist and hydrated.

We called in a few friends to help us out with the planting as I am now 38 weeks pregnant, I am not going to be climbing up and down hills in the mud. The chances of me loosing balance is at an all time high and falling over would not be great. I helped out by getting trees, passing water to thirsty workers and a few other tasks that let me stay on flat ground. Roy was in charge for the day.

The first section we planted out was the wind break for our veggie patch. It’s a 30m section of fence line which we staggered lily pilly’s to form a hedge. Each August we get belting westerlies that tear over the dip in the hill-side through that part of the garden. Hopefully in a few years time they will be big enough to shelter my veggies.

The second part of our tree planting was around our chook pen and near our new garden shed. The area had been cleared previously now dotted with green triangles and native trees planted throughout. Our goals for this property is to cover all our slopes with trees to hold in the soil to stop erosion and any possibility of land slips. Plus the more trees we have the less we have to mow, right.

After last week and the episode of the goats eating my trees in the driveway we have also planted a few more lily pillys to finish off the bare sections. Or replace any of the trees that were totally devastated. I think only 20 trees total were required for this area. Once again i want to create a space that we don’t have to mow, keeping our maintenance down is really important when living on a large property. Our priories are growing food not maintaining a manicured lawn.

Roy and the team also went through our first ever tree planting section and weeded, mulched and fertilized with dynamic lifter. They also replaced about 30 plants in the section too. Hopefully with a little love they will burst with growth this year.

With Roy home over the coming two months, we hope to get on top of the weed control in the tree planting areas. Keep water up to the plants so they do grow. Also fingers crossed that next month we find out if we were successful in applying for a grant to help with maintenance and plant even more trees. This year is all about trees for us.

THANKS: Big thank you to Julian, Tabitha, Amy, Benjie, Hugo, Luke, Kiyomi and Tao for coming along and lending us a hand. More hands always make light work and we really appreciate any help we can get. Especially working with unusual weather conditions.

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ABOVE: The tree planting crew digging holes, making triangles, checking over the tubes. BELOW: Our wind break for our vegetable garden.

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ABOVE: My happy chickens helping with the digging, BELOW: Amy and Hugo picking out trees.

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ABOVE: Roy happy with his tree selection, BELOW: The crew working down the hill-side planting.

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