Sunday, July 1, 2012

Slow Living in June

I am not so sure why it is called slow living. Cooking from scratch, growing the food, crafting and living purposefully keeps me busier than ever before. I suppose food grown and then cooked is slow food rather than fast food, but I am moving faster to do it all. Coaxing milk into cheese is tediously slow, but in that, my appreciation of the final golden block is heightened as I value the process to create it. For what it's worth here is my June Journal, inspired by Slow Living Essentials

The month of June brought us a day of snow falling on the farm and covering the distant Maluti Mountains in white. It had all melted here by the following morning, but the mountains are still beautifully iced. Winter days are usually crisp and clear, inviting us outdoors. Icy mornings and evenings call for log fires and steaming cups of tea. June also heralds the winter school holidays, a welcome relief form the study routines, and a chance for a change of pace.

This past month we have moved away form the warm porridges and have mostly had delicious muesli breakfasts instead. My creative husband has been experimenting with making his own muesli, possibly to sell, and we have been the grateful recipients of the best tasting muesli I have ever had. Summer's bounty graces our bowls of muesli in the form of golden honey and a choice of preserved apricots, peaches, pears or apples topped with a dollop of fresh Rosie yoghurt. This is slow living at it's best with this wonderfully nourishing breakfast each morning.
t's potato harvest time, and so I have included many different forms of potatoes in our meals, from gnocchi, to mashed, baked, boiled, and layered potato pies. This winter potato salad was a variation on Barbara Kingsolver's recipe, using what was available here: feta, ricotta, green tomato preserve, rocket and boiled eggs tossed with the potatoes in a mayonnaise and yoghurt dressing.

One way of storing the extra cream that we have around here is to bake it into rusks. These keep well and make a fantastic any-time snack. The recipe is super easy:

Warm one liter of slightly sour cream and stir in 1 1/2 cups of sugar until it dissolves.
Mix 10 cups of flour (assorted types if you like) with 2 1/2 T baking powder, 1/2 t salt and 10 ml cream of tartar.
Stir in your choice of raisins, coconut, seeds and nuts. Mix everything together and bake at 180 degrees C for one hour. Cool, cut into squares, lay them on racks. Dry overnight at 100 degrees C.

 Our first successful batch of apple cider is finally bottled, and although meant for long term storage ... there are eight green bottle sitting in the fridge... and if one green bottle should accidentally go, there are seven green bottles....

The cheese making is continuing with new trials of Monteray Jack, Farmhouse cheddar, Raw Milk Tomme and another gouda all maturing in a cool room alongside some of May's cheeses.

Reduce, Re-Use:
No citrus peels make it into the compost heap around here. Dried and chopped, they add wonderful flavor to my man's fabulous muesli. The rest of the skins are slowly tuning into citrus cleaner.

Old cardboard boxes cut up and folded made perfect envelopes for posting computer discs. A pretty sticker, some string and a little melted wax crayon made for attractive parcels, ready for posting to someone special.

 Most of our vegetable garden is dormant during this heavy frost season. We still have some spinach, cabbage and rocket for harvesting. I am using the garden rest period to focus on a few structural changes to the beds.

I have been blessed by my husband's creativity this month. He used old ceiling boards and made me some chalk boards for advertising my cream cheese at the farmers market.

He built me a shelf for my sewing area, helping me to create some order.

He cleverly made a bracket for my cream cheeses. It attaches to the burglar bars that swings up and out of the way when not in use. He also created some straining bags using old sheeting and some fabric from my stash. Not bad for re-using and creating at the same time.

I am reading a book called Earth Artist written by one of my classmates from high school, Jenny Louw. This book challenges my approach to gardening, encouraging the use of weeds as pioneer plants and taking biodiversity to a completely new level.

My emerging cream cheese business has been enhanced by a large weekly order from a local restaurant. (A bit of reversal here as I am the local being supported) This greatly helps me to use up some of the 100 liters of milk that Rose produces a week. I was able to give crochet lessons to some little people one afternoon this month. My son earned a little extra income by caring for a friend's dog while she was away. Jack, the bull terrier usually is kenneled while his owner is away, but the kennel is almost an hour's drive from here, so this arrangement was mutually beneficial.

Happy times this month included....

... a little girls birthday party on top of a koppie with a 360 degree view of the countryside.

... a short but sweet visit from my in-laws en-route to a wedding.

.... another special family visit from faraway cousins that included a farm tour where the city kids dug up their own potatoes.

I feel as if I have hardly done justice to the month of June, just superficially touching on some highlights of our wintry days. Time marches forward into July with its slightly shorter, but much colder nights. Who knows, we may even see some more snow. Now wouldn't that be something.


  1. Looks like a busy yet very productive month for you! I agree, cooking everything from scratch is really hard work but so worth the effort. Keep up the wonderful job you are doing.

  2. Such a lovely month, my friend and well done to Elastic Dad for all his creations too. I need some of those boards for when Jonathan starts to sell his chickens at the local market...does he take orders? XX

  3. Lovely and full...miss you all!

  4. It's so surprising to me to read about snow in June and that July will be much colder... lol. Logically, I know you are in the southern hemisphere and that it's winter there. We're facing record heat now and July-August are usually our hottest months.

    How awesome that a restaurant is buying your cream cheese! And fantastic little devices your Husband had made. :-)

  5. Just popped over from Christine's blog. You've had a lovely month! I love your cheese draining bracket, very clever. I'm going to stay and have a browse around. Pop over and visit my blog if you have time :)

  6. Just popped over from 'slow living essentials'...

    It was great to read about your month of living slowly.

    Thanks for the great tip for using old boxes to post discs and I love that you save all of your citrus peel for later use.

    Jodie :)

  7. Wow! What a jam packed month! I love all the things you've been doing. I've never heard the word koppie before? I want some of that potato salad. Yum!

    1. A koppie is a rocky outcrop, usually at the top of a small hill - Afrikaans direct translation is "little head". I did wonder about using a South African word here.

  8. I just love reading of the things you get up to, Cath! Congratulations on your cheese venture, how wonderful for you! The blackboards and gadgets your husband has rigged up for you look very handy. Stay warm x