Thursday, August 2, 2012

Slow Living in July

Join me as I reflect on the month of July, inspired by slow Living Essentials. Icy weather has kept the fire burning day and night and drawn us together in the evenings as one of us reads aloud and the others sketch, crochet or snuggle a pet as we listen. Many meals have been shared sitting in the lounge, as close to the fire as possible. Snow has fallen again on the distant Maluti Mountains, but not on the farm. the bare, dry landscape is barely nourishing our animals as we endure the last few weeks of Winter.

I am still producing trays and trays of rusks, each batch flavoured with a different selection of seeds, spices and other yummy ingredients.  This month, they made great in between meal snacks, car snacks for long trips and early morning tea-in-bed treats.

We have plenty of rocket in the garden, so even in the cold weather I have been making salads.
This simple but delicious salad is an example of the sort of lunches that have been alternating with soups and cheesy sandwiches.... Rocket, farm potatoes, sliced boiled egg from our hens, spring onion, fantastic grilled gourmet bacon that was a gift, all drizzled with a vinaigrette.

I am trying to make the most of the potato harvest while it lasts, as sadly, they don't seem to be storing well.

In my cheese making adventures I have discovered an easy recipe for a cow's milk version of a goat cheese, chabrie. I love this recipe as it produces fast results, being edible a few days after making. This firm salty cheese, flavoured with herbs or sun-dried tomatoes has graced many meals lately, and even friends' tables, appearing in salads, on pizza, in pies and even just cubed and tossed in garlic and rosemary laced olive oil and devoured just like that. Delicious.

This month we tasted our first two ready hard cheeses, gouda and cheddar. Both were great.

Whenever I have extra cream, skimmed off the plentiful milk buckets, I process it into butter for the freezer or for sale, ice cream and lately, soured cream, into rusks and pastry. The rusks don't last long before they are gobbled up, but the balls of frozen pastry are wonderful for stockpiling.

My cheese store is growing. By the end of July I had 12 cheeses maturing in the cool room. Some cheeses will only be mature in 6-18 months. Obviously, with the cheddars, the longer, the better.

There is always an effort to reduce our expenses and reuse as much as possible around here. I have taken a break from meal planning, then shopping to fit the plan lately and try to use only what we have in the garden, pantry and on the farm. I am also selling whatever I can find that we no longer use. Rather convert my resources into cash than let them sit gathering dust.

This month we sold our piano and used the funds to buy a pedigreed puppy, a much better use of that asset, if you ask me.

Every time a kitchen glove develops a hole in it, I cut it up across the width giving me a handy pile of elastic bands of various sizes.

We have branched out with our market stall. My husband has started baking breads for sale alongside my cream cheeses. He uses old tin cans as moulds and we wrap them in brown paper from recycled paper bags and tie them with raffia kept from gifts in the past. Quite a lot of recycling with a difference going on here.

My faraway Cape Town friend posted me some soap nuts. I had no idea what they were, but after a little research eagerly tossed some into the washing machine instead of powder. Surprise, surprise, my washing  came out clean. I have yet to try them in the dishwasher.

Our veggie tunnel is mostly resting during this icy time of year. The oats that I planted as green manure are almost ready to be dug into the beds in preparation for Spring. Now that there is little for them to destroy, our chickens are sometimes let in for slug patrol.

Winter is a great time to concentrate on structural changes in the garden. Lebohang built me a new herb bed in the bare patch of lawn that was left from a small garden pool. Those beautiful sandstone blocks came from a derelict pile of stones in the cattle field. It will take time for me to gather all the herbs for the bed, so in the meantime, we have planted it with some strawberries and garlic in the alternate compartments.

My talented son, following in his father's footsteps, made me this beautiful side table using oak, plum and beech wood. I am so proud of him.

I had fun creating two of these little succulent planters, one for my sister, and one for me. The pebbles were collected when we lived in a cottage on a rocky beach shore five years ago. Touching them takes me back to days of crashing waves, salty wind and combing the shore for treasures.

I knitted these darling booties for an order. I adore this pattern. It's quite fiddly to make, but the end result is always worth it. They are knitted up in bamboo yarn. I couldn't resist naming them:
 lemon meringue, cinnamon and apple pie.

Most of my month has been spent discovering old invoices, processing their data, and documenting school records, a huge admin slog, so not much else in this department.

Besides a little milk donation, my world has been so inwardly focused as I have gathered the various documents together, but my son has provided a kennel service for Jack the bull terrier again. He did earn some good money from the job, but I know how much Jack's owner appreciated the care.

My daughter enjoyed a wonderful holiday with her Aunty Deborah, traveling to Mozambique for a week. My husband and son enjoyed the trip to fetch her and our new puppy with a bit of bow hunting and guy time with Dieter. I enjoyed the silence.

Even more, I enjoyed having my family all back together again and with the bonus of a new furry member of the family.

Winter time is puzzle time. We built a 1500 piece puzzle over the school holidays. Nothing like a puzzle to make you live in the slow lane.

Early morning puppy wee walks have taught me to enjoy beautiful sub-zero sunrises that I never would have experienced had I not been out on the ice encrusted lawn coaxing our pup to do the right thing.


  1. Lovely Cath...wish I was there to share in those amazing meals you always seem to produce!The booties are just too gorgeous too!

  2. Your breads and cheeses are beautiful. I love your new herb garden too.

  3. Beautiful beautiful post. I love the cheeses (and a cool room full, no less), the wrapped breads, the herb bed, the tiny slippers -oh my are they adorable.

  4. Thanks for the gracious comments. I must say, having an outside guest cottage with screened cupboards at the perfect temperature for maturing cheeses is a real bonus.

  5. So enjoyed this glimpse into your life. You are definitely living the slow life that I long for.

  6. Cath, everything looks so lovely, love the booties you are so talented and well done to G with the breads. Just having been t the market once with J makes me realise how much can be done and sold there but time is the issue so it is not for now. Well done, you inspire me!

  7. Your cheese looks beautiful. What a great idea to use old rubber gloves for rubberbands. And the booties are beautiful. I wanted to knit or crochet some booties for a friend but wasn't feeling too confident. I ended up crocheting a pram rug instead.

  8. PS I wanted to congratulate you on your latest furr-kid addition to your family.

  9. What a lovely month you have had Cath! I just love your new baby - too cute! Your early morning and winter pictures of the landscape and garden instantly transported me back to my highveld childhood days! Really love these posts :o)

  10. My goodness! So much! The gloves into rubber bands, the bread in tins, the beautiful table your son made...... You are doing some very interesting stuff and I loved reading about it.

  11. Hi Cath, Your cheese looks amazing! Do you have the recipe's posted anywhere on your blog?

    1. Thanks Kea, the recipes aren't mine to share really, but if you google Ricki Carroll's cheese making site, you will find a lot to get you on your way. Once I begin to master the cheese making I will look into sharing my own ideas.

  12. Hi Cath, Your little booties are lovely, I have 2 little people being born soon into our family and would love to give them a pair each. Is it possible to get the pattern from you or do you only take orders. You can catch me on

    Thank you so much your blogs are a real inspiration!

    Kind regards,
    Nolene MacDonald