Small is Beautiful

To grow or not to grow, that is the question. Of course, we’ll continue to grow. Plants that is! But whether to expand, either in scope or size, is a question we often roll around in our minds.

 

There’s something irresistible about growth and achievement in the human psyche – a constant yearning for more or new conquests. Psychologists have never quite answered why a constant urge to have more, be better, reach further or out-compete is so pervasive in the human condition, but it seems likely that this basic drive is the result of the more competitive, expansionary and intrepid of the species being more highly rewarded by their gains in the past and so came to dominate.

 

This gives current humans (well, the two of us at least) much anxiety and discontent. No matter what is achieved, even beyond our own expectations, we keep upping the bar and striving towards new goals and better results every year. Why can’t we just stop and smell the tomatoes? Or at least catch our breath?

 

Every time we see an opportunity to expand the produce side of our business (or are asked by others why we don’t grow more), we have to actively ask ourselves: will achieving more and increasing our outputs make us happier? In our experience, happiness (or at least satisfaction) is more likely if we are challenged only from time to time, not all the time, and if we have a variety of work and past-times that provide a richer life than doing more of the same thing every day.

 

We are again reminded of E.F.Schumacher’s words in Small is Beautiful:  “any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”

 

Roast Veg Tart

A great snack for using up left over veggies or for showing off those bite sized baby varieties. You can make your own pastry or whip out some puff from the freezer – no one’s judging when the hanger is descending …serves 4.

Ingredients

  • About 400-600g of vegetable cut into wedges or slices (root veg^ are perfect and a red onion always helps)
  • A good glug of oilve oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar (apple cider)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (brown)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • Feta, goats curd or capers (optional)

^ we’ve found zucchini too watery, preferring carrots and beetroots.

Method 

Step 1: Heat oven to 200C. Coat vegetables in oil, vinegar and sugar mix., season well and place in oven. Roast for about 45min.

Step 2: Roll out pastry to about 0.5 cm thick. You can get creative with shapes and double up edges for a thicker crust if you like.

Step 3: Arrange veggies on the tart and crumble in cheese or add capers. Bake for about 25-35min until pastry is golden brown.

Top with some peppery rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to serve

 

The Power of 2

This week we’ve felt the pinch of doing it alone.

Diversity of income streams is part of our resilient lifestyle design. This helps to alleviate some pressure on decision making in our property development, allows us some latitude with experimenting and crop failure in the garden and we are able to wear the farm set-up costs easier.

Yet it does come with a cost. Anna is constantly pulled in two directions, preferring to get soil between the fingers and care for the plants rather than staring at the screen all day. The remote work also means periodic trips back to Sydney.

We are lucky to live in a time and place that makes this lifestyle achievable – with good Internet connectivity and easy access to cheap air travel (we’ll leave carbon guilt and externalised costs for another post). However, when one of us is away from the property and the other has to keep the lights on (enough to keep everyone and thing alive), it is bloody tough going.

We realised pretty soon into this caper that its not necessarily the extra pair of hands to help on a task but the moral support that is essential to get you through tough periods or help counter the other’s ebbing moods.

We call it the unimaginatively named: ‘Power of 2‘. Whether its weeding or watering, or sowing or simply cleaning up the excessive amount of crockery used to preserve something, it is all so much easier with someone to chat to and vent to and laugh with.

We are in awe of those who do it alone. We certainly couldn’t do it without each other. ..

 

Fruit Crumble

This recipe hails from our most thumbed cookbook: River Cottage Everyday. Hugh’s crumble can work on just about any cooking fruit (apples, quince, rhubarb compote etc). Enjoy it with ice cream for dessert or with yoghurt for brekky..serves 8.

Ingredients

For crumble

  • 225g Plain Flour
  • a pinch of salt 200g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 150g sugar (brown is nice)
  • 75g oatmeal
  • 75g ground almonds

For the Apple Walnut version

  • 1 kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced
  • 100g walnuts (can pre-toast in oven at 180 for 5 min, then chopped roughly)
  • 50-100g sugar (or could try honey)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Method 

Step 1: Sift flour and salt into bowl. Add butter and rub with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse crumbles (this can also be achieved by pulsing these 3 ingredients in a food processor).

Step 2: Stir in sugar, oatmeal and ground almonds. Squeeze a few handfuls of the crumble into larger lumps to provide that textural difference.

Step 3: Place your cut fruit in a bowl and sprinkle with as much sugar/honey as you like. Add nuts and spices of choosing mix and then place into an oven proof dish.

Scatter crumble on top and bake for 40-45min at 180, until browned on top.