Monday, 15 January 2018

On the Road to Rosewood

Rosewood is a little rural town to the west of the city where I live.  The drive out there took us along city streets, busy highways and past urban sprawl. Beyond that, and much closer to town, the country "opened up" and the wide open land, with its grassy paddocks and tall gums, stretched to the horizon under the Summer's clear blue sky.

Open country outside Rosewood.

This historic township derives its name from the beautiful trees, that grew and were harvested for timber, in an extensive forest known as the Rosewood Scrub. That scrub was progressively cleared to make way for farming land from the 1860s. A railway line then opened up the area more. Today, Rosewood station is the "end of the line" for the electric trains that run from Brisbane west towards Toowoomba. Coal mining began in the late 1870s and the township grew. This mining became one of the town's main industries. The impact of mining, in the huge cuts to the landscape, is evident along the road to Rosewood. 

The impact of mining on the landscape outside of town.

A train from the city rolls into town.

Just over the railway line and running right through town is the main street. (John Street) Many characteristic old timber buildings with timber posts and awnings remain from yesteryear. Like many Australian country towns, Rosewood has more than one pub! This photo is of the Rosewood Hotel:

The original Rosewood Hotel burnt down in 1914. 
It is said a ghost/s took up residence when it was rebuilt 😉.

We took a stroll along the main street and discovered the Cobb & Co. Heritage Park:

 Penny Farthing seats.

A replica Cobb & Co coach.
(It was impossible to photograph without reflections! 
This link takes you to a clearer image that you can click on to enlarge.)

A Queensland Bottle Tree and the old police lock-up!

Over on Matthew Street, is Rosewood's magnificent St. Brigid's Catholic Church. This beautiful old timber church, listed on Queensland's Heritage Register, was opened in 1910. It is Queensland's largest timber church. We did not venture in but I so wish we had to see the craftsmanship, the pressed metal ceiling and the frescoes inside this special church.  

St. Brigid's Catholic Church.

A beautiful stained glass window.

One side of this historic church.

There are other heritage buildings and old timber homes in Rosewood that we didn't have time to see on this trip.  A great reason to return one day! 

An old fencepost in a paddock outside Rosewood.

Many little towns like Rosewood are dotted between the west-of-Brisbane cities of Ipswich  and Toowoomba. I think I'd like to spend a day exploring a few more of them for it's nice to leave the city behind for a while!



Monday, 8 January 2018

Rustic Savoury Tart

Sometimes, I come across real "gems" in the cookbooks I borrow from my local library. This simple and delicious savoury tart is one such happy find. I've copied out the recipe to add to my collection so I can make it again and again. Yes, it was that good!


The recipe for this rustic tart was contributed by Cherie Bevan and Tass Tauroa to join those from other talented bakers in The Great Australian Baking Book edited by Greenwood, Harper and Hobday. There are so many gorgeous baked goods in the photos of this book. I'm sure I caught drifts of the tantalising smell of baked goodness wafting from the pages!

A great cookbook from my local library. 

The shell of this scrumptious tart is formed with pizza dough and the filling is a meat-free mix of  fresh ricotta,  roasted pumpkin, spinach and, in my tart, leeks. The recipe includes instructions for the pizza dough but I just used my usual pizza dough recipe. Instead of the caramelised onion of the original recipe, I harvested and sauteed leeks from my garden  - because leeks I have in abundance and onions I have none. I halved the quantities for my little family and that made enough for leftovers the next day. Here's how this tart came together in my kitchen:

Make single quantity of your usual pizza dough.

Combine fresh ricotta,  roast pumpkin, sauteed spinach and leeks  & grated parmesan.
Mix through an egg & season with salt and pepper.

Spread mixture over your pizza base.
Leave a generous border of dough around the edge.

Fold the edges of the pizza dough up to form a ruffled edge.

Bake until golden brown. 
Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

A piece of this delicious tart, served with salad, makes for a lovely meal. Leftovers can be eaten the next day, if there are any that is.

A slice of scrumptious savoury tart.

Slices of this tart would make perfect picnic fare too. Just imagine tucking into a pumpkin-y piece, with your legs stretched out on an old blanket in the shade of a tall gum on a riverbank. Wouldn't get much better than that, would it?


Wednesday, 3 January 2018

In the Garden While We Were Away

Some years, as we drive the familiar roads home from holiday, the haze out towards the mountain range and the brown, dry grass along roads and footpaths, signals the lack of rain since we've been gone. I know the garden will be parched and dry when we arrive home and that there won't be much to harvest. Happily this year, the grass along the roadsides and on verges is lush and green and so is my garden. 💚

After a couple of weeks of storms and rain, the veggies have all thrived. The cherry tomatoes and the cucumbers are just waiting to be tossed into salads. Although the leaves of the celery are the favoured fare of  bright green grasshoppers (clearly they heard no-one was home so decided to move in) the stalks are just fine.  Little golden beets, planted in a grow bag, are beginning to form and so are the butter beans. A rampant pumpkin vine has filled in the top corner around the bird bath. Such abundant growth!

 The top of a tiny golden beet.

Little butter beans.

A fresh & crunchy cucumber.

Un-munched celery stalks.

A cluster of little cherry tomatoes.

Lots of lettuce for salads.

Our enthusiastic pumpkin vine.

It was wonderful coming home to fresh veg in the garden ready to be picked and eaten. Such a contrast to those years when we've arrived home after little or no rain. The liquid gold from the sky makes such a difference in the garden!

What's growing in your garden at the moment?

Monday, 1 January 2018

Handmade, Homemade & Homegrown

Looking back over the past couple of years, and moving forward into this brand new one, my priorities in living a simpler and more sustainable life with my little family remain the same.  If I had to name the biggest change I've made it would be that much more is handmade, homemade and homegrown here now.  The mass produced has far less appeal these days. Making and growing things at home or sourcing them as locally as possible out in my community is an important part of our simpler life. 

One of my knitted washcloths in a rope basket with soap made by a local crafter.

A little apple taking shape on a re-purposed bag.  
(Motif by Melissa Wastney.)

Since beginning to simplify, I have embraced the handmade through knitting, stitching and sewing myself and through supporting those talented folk (with my $) who live in our community too. My sewing skills have improved. I've made a dress, a couple of tops and a skirt! My next project is to sew a pair of cushion covers from two touristy linen tea towels I picked up at an op-shop. They will be a birthday gift for my Mum. (Ssh!) I have also done some simple embroidery and, in the coming year, I want to learn and practise some new stitches. I also want to learn how to sew in a zip!

A delicious homemade savoury tart for dinner.
(Leftovers for lunch the next day too!)

A sweet & simple strawberry cheesecake for dessert.
(Don't ask me where that first slice went!)

Homemade meals have always graced our dinner table but now there are a lot more basic ingredients in our pantry and a lot more baking coming from our oven. That just-baked smell that wafts from a freshly-made batch of biscuits or a nourishing pie gets tummies rumbling round here! I am still to master the art of making bread though. While I can make simple focaccias and pizza dough, I'm a long way from a loaf of bread that isn't as hard as  a brick! So, this year I hope to learn how to make edible loaves of bread. (I think I will need some help!)

A recent harvest from our garden. Salad days!

Homegrown blueberries ripening on the bushes I grow in pots.

Many of the meals we make include some homegrown produce picked from just outside our back door. We don't have a huge veggie patch but, on our ordinary suburban block, we can grow some of our own food. At different times of the year, there is an abundance of produce in our patch and at other times it may only be a bunch of herbs that I can harvest. This year, I want to keep cutting down on the inputs we have to buy in for the garden. The lemongrass and Canna Lily that I planted  last year for mulch are growing well now so we'll  lay that down over the soil when I get round to chopping and dropping it. I want to set up another worm farm, the extra one my generous neighbour gave me in return for some homegrown veg. I'd like to plant a lemon tree! My garden is a source of joy, fascination, contentment and nourishment in my life.  I want to keep on growing food because it makes me happy. 🙂

A knitting project and a good book keep me company at the park.

If I had to name the most important ingredient that has allowed us to do so much more here for ourselves, it would be time.  Time to sit and knit a while. Time to mix and blend and bake. Time to tend the garden and turn the compost. Time to think about where "things" come from and what happens with them when they break or are no longer of use. Time to consider alternatives. Time to say "G'day" to our neighbours. Time to be together and to really appreciate home. 

I hope you will have time this coming year to spend on something important to you. 

Happy New Year!