Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bare rooted fruit tree labels say the darndest things

A couple of weeks ago the family and I headed out to the Urban Homesteaders Club at Eat at Dixibelle's place. It was a great afternoon to see around her garden and chat with like minded people. This was the first time I have taken my kids and they seemed to have a ball playing with all the other kids that came this time. Next get together is at our place so we are busy preparing to have everyone around!

On a tour of her garden, hubby and I were admiring her nectarine tree with lovely ripe nectarines gracing the branches, when I turned to hubby and said " You know, our nectarines don't look like that - they are....fuzzy", hubby agreed. After we came back home and checked the tree, we realised that the bare rooted tree we planted two and a half years ago and only bared fruit for the first time this year, was not in fact a nectarine like we thought, but actually....a peach tree!!!

I guess it is just lucky we planted another TWO peach trees this year as didn't think we had any!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Update on Operation 'One Last chance'

Previously I have blogged about my troubles with growing passionfruit in our climate. Well here they are two months on - one has gone absolutely crazy and the other is only just finding its groove. They are exactly the same type and had the same soil preparation so I have no idea why one is bigger than the other.

They are both still alive and growing, even taking into consideration the cool summer weather we have been having. You gotta be happy with that! :-)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

My disappointment at the absolute farce that is food labelling

The other day I was contemplating the blissful existence that is summer and preparing food that has come straight from the garden - food metres as opposed to food miles. I was making quiche for dinner, with eggs, parsley and onions all from the garden with a garden salad (sadly with *gasp* bought tomatoes as we don't have any yet!).

As I am a busy mum of four young kidlets between the ages of seven and two, I am woman enough to admit I take shortcuts to get dinner on the table. The shortcut for me with the meal in question is pastry. I can't make it. Tried and it was so disgusting we all gagged and I think the chooks even gagged when it was delivered as part of their scraps!

Anyway, I have been a bit lax in reading all the food labels lately, but for some reason, on this blissfully sunny summer day I decided to take a look at the list for the pastry.

Previously I have just glanced at the back but this is what I saw:

'No added colours, preservatives or flavourings' . 'Product of Australia'. 'Australian Made'.

Well that's pretty good I thought. If I can't cook it from scratch, at least there are no baddies in it and I'm buying Australian made.

Tsk Tsk. How wrong I was!

As I started reading the actual ingredients list, part of the list contained:

'emulsifiers (471, soy lecithin, flavour, food acid (330), antioxidant (320), colour (160a)'

Hang on a bloody sec. Didn't I just read no added colours, preservatives or flavourings???? 'Cause, to me - a mum who admittedly has not reclaimed all the lost grey matter from repeated 'baby brain' episodes - that list just read as if there are colours, preservatives and flavours added to this product!

As there were a few numbers, I consulted my 'bible' on this stuff, 'The Chemical Maze' by Bill Statham which lists all the numbers that you see on the back of food items and many common personal items, as well as common side affects of these and whether good, bad or downright ugly nasty little critters.

According to the book,

471 = Mono & Diglycerides of fatty acids :-)  :-)
330 = Citric Acid :l
320 = Butylated Hydroxyanisole :( :( - petroleum derivative!!!!!! Gastrointestinal, liver, endocrine, immuno and neurotoxicity!!!!! Carcinogenic!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!
160a = Carotene - orange/red colour :) :)

OK the zillion exclamation marks and WTF are mine, but really, how can our food labelling laws be so poor that a company can legally state there are no added bits and pieces when clearly, there are.

Now that I have discovered what is going on, I feel a bit like the bunt of a joke. Like someone who has just found out that the joke has been on them for the last several years and they have only just wised up to the fact! That large corporations are mocking me, the mum who endeavours to put a home cooked meal on the table that is not only nutritious, but one that also has the chance to be eaten by the little kidlets, only to have petroleum derived ingredients added to it!

It downright pisses me off.

And the worst thing is, I buy this pastry in bulk and I have an unopened packet still in the freezer. I can't now feed it to my kids knowing what I now know is in it but what on earth am I going to do with it? What was once an easy, recipe-in-the-head, make-blindfolded-and-in-a-hurry type meal, has now become a longer tasking chore that may well be scrapped off the menu plan for a little while.

I am annoyed that labelling laws in Australia allow this to happen and that the powers that be believe petroleum derived carcinogenic additives have ANY place in  foodstuffs!

And lets not get me started on labelling for organic/natural/green washing products vs true certified organic products, GMO's, what is ACTUALLY local and imported, and listing ALL ingredients on the ingredients list and not just those greater than 1%.

I strongly encourage all to read your ingredient labels and if there are any numbers in the ingredients list - check them out! It might be something you weren't expecting.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Berserko Veggies!

Just before we went on holidays we had about 5 inches of rain in a week, and while we were away our neighbours said we had somewhere between 2-3 inches of rain. Combine this with summer FINALLY arriving and  - WHAM! - berserko veggies!!

The first corn that I planted and got hit by the frost, is now 6 foot + high - and I think some of the cobs are nearly ready to harvest. Yum!!! Fresh corn!! I remember going out to a farm near us as a kid and collecting bags and bags of fresh corn for next to nothing! Mum would then boil it up and we would smother with butter. I think I might have to investigate further if some are mouth is watering!

And here are the chooky girls chillin' out in the shade of the corn.

My eggplants are finally getting some flowers on them, although you have to just take my word for it as you can't see them properly in this photo.

The zucchinis are upping production to a zillion zucchinis a day.

The pumpkins have finally taken off, but no flowers on the Kent yet.

And here are the first two QLD Blue I have ever grown

A butternut

And my first vegetable spaghetti!

Here are (from L to R) my peas, green beans and red kidney beans. I finally put in a makeshift trellis for them yesterday when the weather was a bit cooler.

The tomato plants are growing well but very few tomatoes. There are heaps of flowers coming on now so hopefully we will actually get some shortly. I am sure we were already making batches of sauce by this time last year. I have tied them up since this shot :)

My Tomatillo bush has also gone a bit berserko and there are heaps of fruit on it. I am going to have to look up what on earth I am going to do with them shortly!

And finally, my luffas, which I will include as they are close to the veggie patch (but not the pumpkins). Although I started them off in the greenhouse, again, I am not too sure if they are going to get big enough by the end of the season to actually be useful. I am actually considering growing them solely in the greenhouse, next time, to make sure it is warm enough for them.

 (lets just ignore the weeds though, thanks :) )

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Welcome to the New Year!

Wow! I just realised how long it has been since I last blogged! Man time goes fast over the silly season.

We have been busy, busy, busy prepping for Christmas and end of school year, heading off on our annual holiday to the beach (which most of the time ended up being in jumpers with the rain pouring down), the over eating that is Christmas Day with relatives, and finally back home to start on the massive list of 'to-do jobs' that needed to be completed/started around the place. And now, it is the downward stretch to when school goes back...time is seriously flying already!

But during my time off/away from blog land, I have been doing some cooking and creative/building stuff that we are pretty proud of.

This year I decided to make the Teacher's Christmas presents so they all got some Rocky Road from the kids - I think it is a bit nicer to have something made than something bought from the shops.

I also made the kids Christmas presents from us this year - notice boards (as they have been bugging me to hang things on the walls) and personalised boxes to store their precious 'stuff'. These are the notice boards I did for the boys, the girls got a yellow and purple one.

Previously I was a bit unsure what to do with the beetroot I had grown, so with this years crop I decided to make Roasted Beetroot Dip (recipe from Nov/Dec 2011 Organic Gardener magazine). Turned out pretty good with some crackers!

On our 'to do' list, was to create another shelf in the pantry to *hopefully* store all the jams and sauces I was going to make with all the lovely produce from our garden. Ahem, yes the least the shelf has been built in anticipation! Adds SO much more room in the pantry - its great! (It was just the top shelf in this pic)

We are also finally getting around to fitting out the laundry into a more functional space...will include some photos soon.

So, being a new year and all, I guess I should have some goals to achieve this year. Only small ones so I actually have some hope of actually achieving them!
  •  I think the main one for us is to SAVE this year  - save money from cutting down on our trips to Bunnings/nurseries and the like (hubby, yes this applies to you too!), save money by stretching our grocery trips out to at least once a fortnight, hopefully more (currently up to about a week and a half), and save on buying food by trying to grow more at home especially since I will have my greenhouse up and running from the beginning of the cool season this year.
  • Make bread from scratch, even if just once.
  • Run in at least one 10km event  - looking at either Mothers Day Classic (May) or try again for Canberra Fun Run (September). Anyone up for it? :-)
  • Start writing!
But I guess the more pressing issue is to tackle my veggie patch and actually find the veggies amongst the weeds!

MM xox