Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rainfall 2010

The first rainfall of 2011 has prompted me to add up the rainfall for 2010. We only started recording rainfall in March, 2010 and our records have already trumped previous years. 971 mm has fallen on our property in the last 10 months. In 2009, the annual rainfall at the nearest weather station was just over 500mm. We've had almost double the rain last year as in previous years. I've had quite a bit of fun over at the Bureau of meteorology looking at their graphs of climate data. I'm very glad we got our new roof on just before those big spikes in November.

Our swales have been almost constantly full since we dug them in late March, drying up for the first time three weeks ago. Have you ever seen such green grass in an Australian summer?

Playing with tilt-shift generators to make our place look mini.
There's been no rain around here since before Christmas and a run of hot days have seen everything drying out very quickly, except the soil in our orchard below the swale, which is still moist. Looks like the swales are doing what we'd hoped - the fruit trees are looking very healthy. 30mm in the last two days and everything is full of water again. Nothing like a storm to take the edge off summer.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Food resolutions and a new year linkfest

I began this post as a quick new year linkarama to some of the great online holiday reading I've been indulging in and some quick thoughts on food resolutions, inspired by this slideshow. The post quickly grew into a congolmeration of several current thoughts and inspirations about food. Surely this is a testament to my love of food growing and eating. Food: what's not to get excited about?

The cumulative result of the last decade of food resolutions has resulted in some changed eating habits for the better. There are more vegetables in my diet (particularly raw ones), less sugar, less fried food, and I've made it a habit to reach for the healthy takeaway option most of the time. I plan well, when I can, and recognise the situations that see me sliding back into food choices that do no favours for my waistline. So for, 2011, I've made a list of food resolutions that are practical, diverse, and dare I say exciting. 

1. Design a food uniform for stressed, sad and sick times. 
I like the idea of creating a clothes uniform for oneself. A basic wardrobe of 20 or so items that suits your clothing needs and lifestyle and helps to keep spontaneous clothes consumption under control. One of the things I love about travelling is only having a few clothes to choose from. I want to apply this thinking to comfort food. When I apply time and thought to what I eat and cook, all the people in my house eat really well. When I am out of time and preoccupied I eat vegemite on toast and chocolate, two reliable and ubiquitous comfort foods. In 2011, I resolve to create a nutritious, easily prepared comfort food for hard times.

2. Find more things to do with eggs.
I have chickens, who lay more eggs than I can eat for breakfast each day. This year I perfected the parsnip frittata. I have a hunch there is a secret to food texture that involves the structural magic of parts of the egg. In 2011, I resolve to do more things with whole eggs, yolks and whites.

3. Create food theatre
I usually cook for two people and on a nightly basis we revel in flavours and textures. Theatre, with taste and smell added is an experience that defies description. I would like to train my tastebuds, with or without blindfold. The best food experiences involve a sense of theatre. Sometimes it verges on the pretentious, but food should be fun and creative. In 2011, I resolve to create food theatre for a crowd of people, cooking them a meal to remember to be served in our paddock.

4. Celebrate food carts
Last year's travels in India spoiled me with street food, ingenuity and creative reuse. A Jaipur meal of Indian mashed potato patties and baked beans will stay in my memory a long time. So much simple joy from a Saffron lassi served in a disposable ceramic mug. Bowls made of leaves and magazine bags for the deep fried edibles. A hand-pulled cart laden with fresh bread in an empty street in the early morning hours. In 2011, I resolve to explore the concept of the mobile food cart and creative packaging at local markets.

5. Foray beyond the orchard and vegetable patch
2010 saw the realisation of a long-held dream, a patch of dirt to call my (our) own. Orchards were planted, vegetable gardens developed. But there is a world of farming beyond fruit trees and vegetables called grains and animals. In 2011, I resolve to grow grain and set up a rotational grazing system and add more animals to our small flock.

6. Build a solar cooker
So many to choose from! In 2011, I resolve to build and cook with my own solar cooker.

7. Explore food culture
Mobile business inspiration. Image from randomspecific
The history of desserts and the "cheap sugar revolution" described here is enlightening. Food traditions are inspiring and constantly developing. I miss eating Ethiopian food, and Footscray is too far away to satisfy my regular cravings. In 2011, I resolve to grow and learn to prepare two essential ingredients in Ethiopian food culture, teff grain and coffee.

Hope 2011 gives me, you and all of us occasion for a proper food celebration!