It seems I've caught myself in some time parallax. The days between now and Christmas seem to be disappearing at an exponential rate and yet it seems the Big Sister has already been on school holidays for an eteeerrrnnnity. If I blink after breakfast it's lunchtime, but it takes forever for five o'clock to roll around. Speaking of which, what's the time? oh, only three. Here's what's being going on in Casa de Cooker.
crying over spilt tomatoes (ok not crying, but despairing over tomatoes)
I’ve spent many hours standing at the stove stirring tomato paste this week is because a local farmer gave me thirty kilos of her finest tomatoes. thirty kilos. You know why she gave them to me? Because she cannot afford to send them to market.
After she planted, tended, watered, picked and packed this crop, she’s getting 60c per kilo at market. By the time she pays for the box and the shipping, she’s making a loss by sending them to market.
Last week while the media was making a big to-do about selling imperfect produce, I was chopping tomatoes. It got me thinking, if sixty cents per kilo is the going rate for perfect produce, I wonder what the market price for imperfect produce is and whether that's worth sending to market either.
The imperfect produce press release leaned heavily on this statistic “25% of edible fresh produce is thrown away due to visual imperfection or cosmetic damage every year in Australia.”
When I asked who the source was (yes, I was cross enough to ask), I was informed it was a statistic from Horticulture Australia. I contacted HA to find out where the number came from (like I say, I was pretty cross), but they haven't got back to me yet.
I've done my own research since then and there’s little data available regarding how much fresh produce goes to waste before it leaves the farm gate. In fact in 2011 the National Food Waste Assessment identified there are significant gaps in data regarding pre-farm gate food wastage. Put simply, there are no measures of just how much produce farmers plough back into their paddocks every year.
Planting crops is such a hopeful thing. I imagine it breaks farmers' hearts (and their bank balances) to discard their produce.
the spiky golf ball tree is flowering
This tree may well be my favourite plant on the whole farm. It's a Leichhardt Tree or Yellow Cheesewood (Nauclea orientalis). They're native to North Queensland, New Guinea and South-east Asia.
You can eat the fruits (hence, cheesewood) but they're apparently quite bitter. I'm lucky enough to have a steady supply of actual cheese, so I've never been tempted to try. Legend has it you can also make a fish poison out of the bark, but I've never been into eating poisoned fish either.
The sole reason I planted this (now sizeable) tree is for it's fantastic spiky golf ball sized flowers. They smell divine and well, spiky golf balls, what's not to love?
On Wednesday I drove the Little Sister down to Brisbane to swap spots and have her share of the Nan treatment. She'd packed her bag full of toys by 7am and by the time it came to leave, she rolled her carry on luggage all the way to the car herself.
By the time we got there, she'd changed her mind. Cue massive tears from the Big Sister about missing out on her 'mummy-time'. It's nice (if not noisy) to be popular.
steamy skinny dipping
The farm is very busy at the moment, as people hurry to have their yards looking lovely for Christmas. When Bearhands isn't busy taking orders or cutting turf, he's busy wondering when it's going to rain. There's been so much storm activity this past week, but little actual precipitation. I swear I can see his pulse quicken every time he hears the sky rumbling or checks the radar on his phone.
On Tuesday the storm was so fierce we lost power for the night. Around here no power means no water. So we all wound up bathing in the blow up pool in the backyard. (I'll spare you photos of that!). Lucky for our neighbours they're a loooong way away!
So that's the state of play in Casa de Cooker; we're hot, we're sweaty and we're all sporting shorter-than-normal fuses. Good times.
how are things at your place?
have you ever seen a Leichhardt Tree before?
PS. If you've just emerged from a social media blackout and haven't heard me banging on about Flossie - my free eCookbook - all week, you can download your copy here.