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Real raw food

If last week I did something crazy, this week I did something totally illegal.  Yes, I broke the law.  I bought and drank pet milk.  Alternatively known as raw milk.

Inspired by the Real Food book by Nina Planck, I've been itching to get my hands on high quality raw milk for ages, and found myself considering the idea of getting a house cow. However quietly asking around for a regular supply, this week I finally found it.

"You're allowed to buy cigarettes but you're not allowed to buy this. It's not for human consumption -  only for pets" stated the source of my illegal booty.  I couldn't help ponder this absurd state of affairs as I drove straight home and poured myself a glass.  It tasted so sweet and delicious and unlike any milk I've ever tasted.  It was so good I had to pour it over a bowl of granola and promptly gobbled that up too.  

The big test was going to be if the peeps drank it, because really, I want them to enjoy the health benefits that raw milk provides.   Having never liked drinking milked before, they almost polished off two litres last night and this morning.  Law broken again.  But I was smug in the knowledge that their tummies were full of vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, beneficial bacteria and a host of other goodness that crime seems a small price to pay.

The virtues of clean raw milk sourced from grass fed cows are extensive, and there's plenty of information around if you look.  Both for and against.  It's a complex issue that I won't explore here.  What I am looking forward to is making yoghurt, butter and fresh cheeses.  All for my pets of course.  I wouldn't to be involved in any illegal activity.

But I was reminded of this... 

Crazy, crazy love

I did something silly today.  
I knew I'd regret it. But I just couldn't resist.  I could not stay away. Oh boy.  

In the next village south from us an amazing group of properties has come on to the market.  An old church subdivision.  The church, the presbytery, the convent schoolhouse and some land are all being sold off for the first time ever.  Today I had a look at the church, which is totally fabulous, peeked through the windows of the gorgeous convent school house.  But it's the presbytery that has stolen my heart. 

It's a building I've often admired.  It stands tall, high on the hill, across the road from a riverside playground where I've spent many an hour gazing up at its grand but slightly dilapidated facade, whilst the children played on the swings.  With its grand proportions, numerous rooms, gorgeous staircase and landings, it's a little bit Cloudstreet, a little bit Northanger Abbey. 

It is cold, it's run down, boasts a basic kitchen and a shabby bathroom, yet it's the perfect house for our family to rattle around in.  I can imagine the children running through the hallway, sitting on the landings and hiding in the huge spooky cupboard under stairs. We could spend summer evenings dining with friends on the wide verandahs overlooking the river.We could walk to the pub, the river and to the shops. We could say "more tea vicar?" Oh yes. I'm totally in crazy love. I don't think I will sleep tonight. As all three buildings are so close together, I think it's best to buy all three properties and live in the presbytery, run a business in the church and have friends come stay in the convent.  You can come stay too if you like. 

Of course, it's all total folly as we really don't want to move, nor do we have the money to do so.  And the reality is, the place needs a tonne of work.  And I reckon it would be bloody freezing too.  It's just a dream.  A crazy one. But my goodness it is a wonderful dream though.....

I took 143 photos of it today, here are a few, I edited as much as I could.  If you want to buy it, the link is here. Tell my friend Ian I sent you.  Please invite me over for if you do.  For tea with the vicar.

In the kitchen

A few snaps of the kitchen, which received a jolly good scrubbing today.  Because I am avoiding those several kilos of quinces that need preserving. We're slowly learning to use the Rayburn, our lovely English girl.  It's taking a lot longer, to, well cook on it that we thought.  Fires need to be stoked at around 2pm to get the oven hot enough to cook dinner. But we rarely get there, with the temperature languishing at around 150 degrees for hours and the children having last minute grilled cheese on toast, which still takes about 30 minutes using the Rayburn.  Then finally tonight's dinner is ready at 10pm, so  it becomes tomorrow's lunch.

When the oven does work, and is firing nicely, the results are amazing. Nothing dries out in the gentle cast iron heat.  And anything slow cooked is marvellous.

It's comforting to hear the noise she makes as the water fills up and she gurgles and glugs, heating our hot water cylinder. You can hear how the fire's going too, by the crackle and ticking noise the oven makes.  That noise in the background keeps me company when I'm home during the day.  Lets me know what's going on and if she needs my attention.   Just like a child, silence usually means trouble and the fire's gone out. 

She's a little bit contrary, but extremely capable when she feels like it. And we love her dearly.  We've yet to think of a name for her, I'm not entirely sure, maybe after my one of grandmothers, Hilda or Cecilia. What do you think?  Do you have any suggestions that might suit this contrary English lady?  

P.S. here's what the kitchen usually looks like, taken on Sunday morning.

Boys Annual

The annual birthday party.  Often an angst ridden affair with a last minute rush of crocheting party favours and painting papier-mâché at midnight the night before.  It's not the feeding of a hungry bunch of kids that worries me. I love cooking for children. It's keeping them amused for three hours, and the preparation it requires that frightens the bejesus out of me.

This year, thankfully, Hugo didn't want any party games, no pin the tail on the donkey, no pass the parcel and definitely no girls.   What he did want, was a bonfire and a chocolate cake, with "Hugo's Chocolate Cake" written in running writing on the top.  Too easy. Now this is a party we can do.

A handful of school buddies, building towers with kindling, tossing paper aeroplanes down the hallway and toasting mama-made marshmallows on the little campfire we made. And of course finishing with the requested chocolate cake.  That mama forgot to buy six candles for.  Luckily no one noticed. They were all too busy having fun. Even without a piñata.