Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Book

I have been keeping busy this week writing 'The Book'. I've decided to get off my backside and finally start telling the story of how I ended up in the bush, met CP and then married him, with all the trials and tribulations in between.

I'm writing it in instalments - the only way I know how - but I'm loving it so much I've just about finished the fourth chapter already.

So just in case you were wondering why I've been a bit quiet... I'm still posting, only I'm doing it over here for a bit. It's all linked into the tabs at the top of my page.

Check it out. It's a bit of light entertainment, though not completely different to my usual blogging style.

I'm loving the feedback so far!

Thanks for all the support and encouragement!


Click here to start reading!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Don't Wanna Know What I Freeze...

A friend of mine recently asked Stay At Home Mum - Secret To Living On One Wage about 'freezing lamingtons'. Being the fantastic site that it is, loads of women offered advice ranging from 'sure, we do it' to 'no, if the label says 'has already been frozen and defrosted for your convenience', I wouldn't do it.'  So I piped up with 'you don't even want to know what I freeze!' And now I need to blog about it to justify myself.

Basically, if it fits in my freezer, consider it able to be frozen.

I know I'm probably going to cop a lot of flack about this, so I would like to preface this blog with the fact that we live in a fairly remote part of Australia. Not TOO remote, but then again, I don't know too many people who would be happy doing an 80km round trip for a lonely bottle of milk or loaf of bread. Obviously this method of existing isn't going to suit everyone, and I'm not advocating it as the best way of living either. I learned pretty early on that if you don't freeze anything, you spend a lot of money on fuel. So here's how it works FOR ME. If it makes you angry, please bite your tongue. I do what I do. It hasn't killed any of us yet, and I'm actually pretty careful about all this. It doesn't suit everyone, but then again, neither does life in the bush. Before you walk in my shoes, please don't judge me too harshly.

In our freezer you will find:

1. Milk and bread.

The  dates on the labels frighten some people, but I have learned that the success of this process is all in the defrosting. Take your time, be organised, and whatever you do, DON'T leave it on the kitchen sink in the summer overnight. Never had an issue with it. Ever.

2. Meat.

We live on a farm. I see the whole 'circle of life', and I'm responsible for clearing out space in the freezers to make room for it all. We have 3 freezers primarily for this reason. The key is to label and date all packages, and be aware of safe storage lengths. Never had an issue with this either. Again, the key is to defrost slowly in a refrigerator. I never refreeze ANYTHING that has been defrosted at home. I am VERY cautious of chicken, and I have a whole set of rules alone for this product.

3. Baked goods.

I have an entire shelf in one of our freezers dedicated to baked goods, and another one for the products involved in the making of baked goods. Flour, sugar, cocoa, chocolate, bread crumbs etc. They all get infested with weevils and god knows what other creepy crawlies in our summer heat out here. But they are perfectly safe inside the freezer. Sometimes brown sugar has a tendency to go hard, but it's nothing a bit of defrosting can't fix (or a slice of lemon in the container can't fix). I've also learned that defrosting items in small amounts is handy too.

4. Pre-cooked meals.

Because my husband is 'kitchen-ly challenged', whenever I am going away, or just wanting to be organised, I cook meals in bulk and label and freeze them. This comes down to the type of food you cook of course. Stew - yes, no problems. Quiche - no. Completely awful if frozen. There are cookbooks dedicated to this point.

5. Dairy.

Milk aside, here's where it gets tricky. I have frozen almost every dairy you can imagine. Here's a few no-no's. Sour cream, cream, soft cheeses, dips etc. can't be defrosted quickly. If you have the patience, cream and sour cream will defrost in a refrigerator, but I refuse to freeze cheeses I want to serve when friends come over for nibblies. They are never quite the same. Also, some sandwich cheeses don't freeze well either, and become crumbly after defrosting. It depends on the brand, but as a general rule, I only freeze block cheese at a pinch. Grated cheese LOVES the freezer. No issues at all.

7. Vodka.

I need it there. It's a safe place. It will never freeze. But will make you feel warm and happy when you take it out to consume. Do not confuse vodka with beer or Coke. Bad, bad, bad...

What else have you frozen?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Everybody's Wearing Blue Jeans

I moved from Brisbane to St George ten years ago. I packed up all my city clobber, and naively assumed it would all be useful and appropriate in the country. I'm ashamed to admit I only owned two pairs of jeans in the year 2000. One was a faded blue colour, and the other was possibly creamy in colour. Both of them were usually stored in the far recesses of my wardrobe; only ever utilised on the coldest of cold days. I found them uncomfortable and bulky, and preferred the flexibility of black pants. I offer no apology for this. I was a city girl, and black pants were the height of fashion. They probably still are. I wouldn't know. I can't even tell you what movies are showing at the cinemas anymore.

I had been living in 'the bush' for a few weeks, when across the road from my house (at the showgrounds) was an event called a 'campdraft'. Anyone who knows anything about horses and cattle would be able to tell you about a campdraft, (hubby corrected my spelling by telling me it is only one word - not two) but I only knew that it was something about horses and cattle. (For more information, click here.) I thought this would be a great opportunity to 'socialise', meet a few locals and do something different. So I ran off to get dressed, and emerged minutes later in black pants, some synthetic shirt and possibly black heels. I'd thrown my hair back and put on minimal makeup.

I scaled the first fence, and made it to the outer perimeter of the bar area. I scanned the crowd; a blur of blues, checks, buttons, collars... and jeans. I froze, mid-step, and started my retreat. I was back home faster than you could count to ten.

Even at the local 'watering holes', the standard dress code involved jeans and varying 'dress code levels' of tops and shirts. By the end of the next week, (out of sheer necessity) I think I owned two new pairs of jeans.

Today, my wardrobe consists of this many pairs of jeans. (I was also wearing a pair, and another pair was in the wash). I just showed this picture to CP, who sees nothing wrong with it. He possibly owns more jeans than I do, and apparently he thinks this is 'normal'.

Jeans are the unofficial uniform of the bush. No wardrobe is complete without them. And they are SUPREMELY comfortable, despite my initial reservations.

Today it is my black pants that are pushed all the way to the back of my wardrobe. There is no practical use for them at all these days. Jeans are functional and I can't imagine existing without them. Jeans are especially good for scaling fences. (Including fences into campdrafts). But I don't need to worry about that anymore.

Thank goodness.