Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flinders Ranges (26.04.09)

To be "a tourist in your own town" is quite easy for us.

We are just over an hour from places like the awe-inspiring Wilpena Pound and the beautiful Clare Valley. The Flinders Ranges are absolutely magnificent, and they are our backyard.

This is the place where SJ grew up and he loves it, although that comes as no surprise when you get the chance to see it. With the weather being cold and gloomytoday, we thought we'd just take a quick drive through the Ranges to simply kill some time. Beats staying at home and complaining about the cold!

SJ decided to take me through some of his favourite spots in the Flinders, where he has been going with his family all his life. We travelled past Warren's Gorge and onto Proby's Grave, before continuing out past a flowing Willochra Creek, now abandoned historic settlements, to Partacoona and then back home again.

All the while the Ranges were covered in a haze of rain, something we dont see very often out this way (and to think just three days ago I was saying we have had none! Mother Nature, once again, has made a liar out of me).

Our round-trip took little more than hour, but it was wonderful. It got us off the lounge, away from the television, and out of the house.

We love to travel but dont have the time to do a lot of it. That is why I feel so lucky to be living where I live, because a little travel is possible whenever we feel like it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

ANZAC DAY (25.04.09)

The significance goes back to 1915, when on the 25th of April the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps went ashore in the pre-dawn darkness at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Water Woes.

The water to our house (the one in the middle of our street, no less) is currently supplied by rain water, harvested from Mother Nature and stored in two tanks: One underground (8,000L) and a poly-tank (27,000L).

When we first moved in, back in January, everything was on rainwater: the kitchen, the laundry, the toilet, the bathroom, as well as the garden. After two weeks we decided it was probably better to put the garden on mains water, but to leave the house on rain water. Afterall, rain water not only keeps us clean but it is also our drinking supply.

Mains water up here is bore water, as the Murray River Pipeline does not pass through this part of the Flinders Ranges. The only way I can think to describe bore water is as being "hard" - it isnt suitable for drinking, and if you were to try to wash your hair in it you'd end up with a dry, mattered mess. It probably comes as no surprise then that we are keen to continue being able to shower using our rain water supply indefinitely.

Besides which, we enjoy entertaining the thought that we can be "self-sufficient" and "sustainable" up here.

But how self-sufficient and sustainable can a household be in an area that is predominately hot and dry, and has an average annual rainfall of a meagre 300mm?

These days only our kitchen and bathroom remain on rainwater. The laundry, toilet and yards have been switched over to mains water. We have had to do this due to lack of rain and the fact that our water supplies are disappearing at an alarming rate as a result.

This week we changed the shower-head in the bathroom. Believe it or not, the simple task of having a shower uses an immense amount of water. We searched for weeks trying to find the best water-saving showerhead in town that was within our budget. $100 later and the best we could get was a showerhead that uses 6 litres per minute.

6 litres per minute.

On a day when I dont have to wash my hair, a shower takes me around 5 minutes. On a day that I do have to wash my hair it would be closer to 10 minutes. With our new showerhead that equates to 32 and 60 litres respectively. Multiply that by two people and it can be up to 120 litres per day down the drain, just from having a shower.

120 litres!

How many litres per minute, per day were we using prior to getting the new showerhead? The thought of it is staggering.

No wonder we are low on rain water supplies!

The whole situation got me to thinking about water and being water-wise. How many people are conscious of the amount of water they are using each day?

When we lived in the city and had no choice but to have mains water, where it was coming from and how long it would last was not something we spent much time being concerned about. It is only now that we have a limited supply that the extent of the water crisis (especially here in South Australia, where it is dire) truly comes to light.

During our search for the most-efficient-most-cost-effective showerhead on the market, I noticed that when it comes to water-saving showerheads, most use between 7.5 and 9 litres of water per minute. It is difficult to find anything less than that, and it would be particularly hard for those who have a very tight budget. The cheapest water-saving showerhead we saw was $25 and used 7.5 litres per minute. Our showerhead, as already mentioned, claims to use only 6 litres per minute. It was one of only two showerheads we came across that used below 7.5 litres per minute. Most water-saving showerheads were priced between $40 and $150, and yet the best most could claim to do was 9 litres per minute.

A family of four, each taking a 10 minute shower using one of the most common water-saving showerheads on the market could be using up to 360 litres of water per day, from the shower alone.

So, I thought I would put together this post and ask anyone who might happen to read it to consider how much water is currently being used in their household on a daily basis. Do you know how much water you are using through your daily routine of cleanliness? If you did know, how would you feel about it? Would you be shocked, embarrassed, concerned, or would it not bother you?

In your opinion, at what point does water usage become too much water usage?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Cauliflower Bake.

The simple Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables.
Last weekend I made the yummiest cauliflower bake.

Here is what you'll need:

450g Cauliflower, broken into florets
2 large Potatoes, cubed
100g Cherry tomatoes

2 tblspn butter, or vegetarian margarine
1 leek, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
25g plain (all-purpose) flour
300ml milk
75g mixed grated vegetarian cheese (cheddar & parmesan are yum!)
1/2 tspn Paprika
2 tblpsn chopped, flat-leaf parsley
Salt & Pepper
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish

1. Cook the cauliflower & potatoes and then drain well.
2. Melt butter (or margarine) in a saucepan and saute the leek and garlic.
3. Add flour and cook for a further minute.
4. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in the milk, 50g cheese, the paprika and parsley.
5. Return the pan to the heat and bring to boil, stirring. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Spoon the cauliflower into a deep ovenproof dish. Add the cherry tomatoes and top with the potatoes.
7. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
8. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180*C (350*F) for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
9. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 4+.

NOTE: The sauce can also be prepared in a microwave, if you are short on time.

Book Review: Plain Jane by Laurien Gardner

This is the third novel in Laurien Gardner's Tudor Women Series, but only the second I have read. The first, A Lady Raised High, was a novel of Anne Boleyn, which I really enjoyed.

Plain Jane is a novel of King Henry VIII's (of England) third wife, Jane Seymour, who seems to be his most oft forgotten wife, even though she was the only one who gave him the male heir he so desperately craved.

It is not as gripping, doesnt appear to be as well-researched and certainly isnt as well-written as A Lady Raised High. But then, Tudor history nuts like myself might say that the two novels are reflections of the queens themselves: Anne is always considered to be the most striking, interesting, and clever of all of King Henry's wives, whilst Jane quiet, dull and particularly, er, un-striking.

With few other novels to chose from and compare to, I wont be too picky. I did enjoy this book, because I really wanted to consider what life may have been like for Jane Seymour, and Plain Jane allowed me to be swallowed into her (possible) world for a while.

I recommend this novel to all those interested in Tudor history, and also to those readers who enjoy a good romance story.

I am currently offering it up as a bookring at Bookcrossing. If you are a member and would like to join, just go to my bookshelf and send me a PM with your shipping preferences. Ta!

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Perfect Brunch...

[Poached eggs on toast in a tomato & basil sauce]

Yesterday, SJ and I were late getting out of bed. The night before we did not get to sleep until around 2am, so needless to say it was no earlier than 9.30am by the time we dragged our very sleepy butts out of bed.

It was too late for the usual breakfast of porridge and fruit, and I was hungrier than normal having slept in so late. Instead I made the perfect brunch: Poached eggs on toast, covered in a tomato and basil sauce.

Here is how you make it:
1. In 1 tspn oil fry 1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely chopped.
2. Add 400g of peeled whole tomatoes, crushed or diced. Bring to boil.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer and add either 2 tblspn of fresh basil, or 1 tspn of dried basil. Continue to simmer whilst eggs are poached to preferred consistency (I think it's best if the yoke is still runny right in the centre), and bread is toasted (I recommend homemade wholemeal or sour-dough, cut in thick slices so the sauce doesnt soak through too quickly, although on the weekend I had to be content with skinny bits of bought bread as all my homemade had been eagerly consumed the night before).
4. Place poached eggs on toast, cover with sauce and enjoy!

This recipe serves 1 to 2 people.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Soup of the Day...

I was supposed to do this yesterday, but time did not permit! Shelley from Tea Time (the inspiration for my recipe posts) is certainly providing me with a challenge, as she apparently doesnt like most vegetables, particularly the green ones.


So, I sat around Friday night thinking about what recipes I had that dont have too much green stuff, but would still be considered healthy, hearty and tasty. The first that came to mind was my Nanna's recipe for tomato soup, because it's quick, easy and cost-effective, but super tasty at the same time.

This recipe can be cooked in either a slow-cooker or a pressure-cooker. I dont know how it would go in a regular pot, but if you try it and it works I'd be interested to know!

Anyways, the recipe! ~

Nanna's Tomato Soup

1 Cup Soup Mix (pictured below), soaked overnight with water to cover
1 finely chopped Onion
2 sliced Carrots
1/2 Cup Frozen Peas (optional/replaceable)
1 tin Condensed Tomato Soup (400g)
1 large chopped Potato
4 Cups Vegetable Stock

If you're cooking it in a slow-cooker, put all the ingredients into your crock-pot and then cook on low for around 6 hours.

If cooking in a pressure-cooker, you will need to pressure-cook soup mix, onion, carrot and potato for 10 minutes, and then allow to cool. Add stock, tomato soup and peas and bring back to boil for 5 minutes.

Serves 4+.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Garden Makeover = Productive Weekend!

How it was: Geraniums and daisies galore!
No pruning or adequate mulching, making the plants look stressed and weather-worn.
No planning or design, making it look untidy and awkward.

As it is now: Almost all the geraniums and daisies have been removed.

We have replaced them with mondo grass, a maori sunrise and other grass-plants, a dwarf-lavender, native hibiscus, and a carpet rose.

We removed all geraniums, daisies and irises from around our (lone) peach tree, and instead have put in a small grass shrub and a dwarf-conifer.

All the plants we used, including the beautiful silver coastal grass-plant (centre), are supposed to be drought and frost tolerant, two very important pre-requisites for a northern Flinders Ranges garden.