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The Green Grocer

8 Jul

Shopping Day. Not the supermarket chore it used to be. Now it involves buying up bulk at the peaceful bulk food shop, then popping next door to the family-owned green grocer. The great thing about the green grocer, is that I know their eggs come from happy chickens near Mt Somers in Canterbury. They also give away big bags of fruit and vege scraps – ideal for chickens or to boost your compost. You get to chat about the state of the nation and the weather for free too.




2 Jul

More seed planting tonight while the oven heated up for lazy bread. The reasons for this were:

  • So I don’t have to splash out a small fortune on seedlings in the spring
  • To supplement my (so far very lazy) chickens’ feed
  • To provide me with something to trade with over the coming months (esp. for lemons)

I chucked seed raising mix into 3 punnets and planted more basil, silverbeet, and bok choy. These three punnets get the sunny spot on the lounge windowsill. The seedlings that were there go in the cold frame outside, and one of the punnets from the cold frame is now hardening up under the eaves. Bit like musical chairs. One is always left out in the cold.

It helps that all this is done within an eight metre radius. Not too much walking required. Then the bread went into the oven. Whammo. Sustainability Wench-ness achieved, thus cancelling out the takeaways we had for dinner (no actual scientific evidence in this theory).


Best Ever Fish

2 Jun

Tonight was fish night. Not because I went to the shop and decided Tonight Was Fish Night,  but because my sister gave me some blue cod yesterday. Use what you have in the fridge I say.

Pan-fried fish with a beurre noisette sauce is a really easy, cheap, and tasty way to celebrate the fish that died for your plate. Plus it sounds super-fancy.

I ate it before considering taking a picture of it for the blog. Here is a picture of a blue cod. I used to work at an aquarium. These little guys are really polite, but grumpy-looking. It didn’t look grumpy on my plate at all.


To learn more about blue cod in New Zealand, visit

To make my version of fish with beurre noisette:

  • Pan fry white fish fillets on both sides quickly in butter. A couple of minutes maximum  suits me. Put them onto hot plates.
  • Put 25g (or whatever) of butter in the hot fry pan, and cook gently until it’s browned up nicely. Take off the heat. Add juice from half a lemon, chopped parsley, roughly chopped capers. Pour onto fish.
  • Eat immediately. We didn’t eat anything with it. Just the fish.

You’re meant to use unsalted butter, but I never have that in my fridge. It’s also really good without capers if that’s how you roll. It’s a pretty good feeling eating a dish where the fish was sourced locally, the parsley was straight from the garden, and the only cost is the butter and capers.

I got the recipe from my Stephanie Alexander cookbook. Don’t let the title deceive you. I live in New Zealand and have no problem translating their Australian language. It’s a great book for getting the most out of whatever is in season. It wasn’t cheap, but I’m a fan of buying a handful of excellent books that you refer to time and time again, rather than buying up large and only using a few recipes from each book.


Essential herbs – Herbes essentielles

22 May

I love this – I don’t think we use herbs enough in New Zealand. Read this and be inspired (and get planting)

Sustainability Wenchy-Updates

9 May

I’ve had some great feedback and ideas since starting this blog, and also have updates on some of my experiments, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Porridge Saves the Day

Porridge and Peaches

I had some tasty and simple (in style of Sustainability Wench) ideas via my Facebook page on the topic of porridge.

My friend Joanna recommended this to me:

“Before serving porridge mash banana into the bottom of each bowl then pour porridge over the top. Continue to serve as per usual. As you eat the top of the porridge the banana underneath cooks, until eventually you eat down far enough to strike the caramelised treasure- yummo!!!”

Cindy suggested this:

“I have porridge every morning made with milk (made just for me, kids have cereal at the mo) and add ground linseed and when cook pour over frozen blueberries – yummmmmo. Sometimes I get it ready at night and let the oats soften and soak in the milk”.

And my favourite comes from Belinda who recommends:

“Sometimes I make chocolate porridge (although not for breakfast) by adding chunks of rich, dark chocolate…finished off with cream of course”.

Selling The Goods

Plant Sale

We’ve had the plant stall out by the street for five days. Yesterday an Aloe and coriander seeds got nicked. Boo to them. Will now only put it out when I’m home. One woman I met who bought some hellebores, is keen to exchange bottled pears for native seedlings. Warm Fuzzies all round.

Aloe Aloe Aloe

Aloe Face

Am still LOVING this pampering once a week, with no freaky reactions. It’s not for everyone, but it suits my skin type and is super-easy.

Crazy Chemical Free Shampoo

Baking soda

This was perhaps the weirdest experiment I’ve ever undertaken, but I’m very much still enjoying the results. Last week I had to use the dregs of the shampoo as we’d run out of baking soda. After the first wash, my hair felt all nice and shiny, but all subsequent washes resulted in limp static icky hair. Back to the baking soda.

Aphids Suck

Aphid juice

Much to my delight, this actually worked. I used the treatment three times (every few days). I kept the mixture in easy reach in the kitchen so I could Grab and Spray. Once I forgot to rinse the plants. The plants survived. No sign of aphids for the past couple of weeks at all.

Compost Love


Now the rain has been falling, my compost is a thriving hub of worms. They have used no contraceptives at all, based on the huge increase in numbers. I’ve been able to dig right to the bottom (access from the side), and use the delicious compost at the bottom to feed my broad beans. Winning with the compost.

A Day of Hippiness

2013-04-11 09.19.53

My home-brewed rosehip and almond oil has been lovely to use. Still a bit weird-smelling, but it feels great on my skin. I think it’s lifespan is fairly short though, so I’ll need to stop using it in a week or so. Next year I’ll make less, and give more away so that it doesn’t go to waste.




Butterfly Magic

5 May


There was a bit of excitement in our house this morning as we discovered one of the Monarch caterpillars had finally ‘hatched’.

We planted four swan plants in summer under a little tree to provide some shelter from overhead predators. They may not have any enemies from above, but I was too lazy to Google. We ended up with ten caterpillars. They got massive. Embarrassingly so. Then all but one disappeared. People told me they build their wee chrysalisses (plural?) anywhere, and that they travel interstate to make their grand transformation. Like going to LA for plastic surgery. Those People may have just been being kind. The caterpillars may have died.

The one we saw drying its wings this morning emerged from the sole chrysalis on one of our swan plants. It was a very nice surprise in the middle of Autumn.

I’m a big fan of butterfly gardens. They add another livestock component to your garden. Throw in some swan plants, sunflowers, marigolds, and zinnia in the spring. Check out progress of your caterpillars/butterflies daily, preferably while walking around your garden in gumboots with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

For butterfly gardens in New Zealand, check out Green Urban Living for some ideas.

Worm Love

28 Apr

Every few months, my partner methodically sorts out our Worm Farm. I think it’s a type of meditation for him. Once I heard him talking to the worms. Was cute.  He does this sitting at an old picnic table under the cherry tree at the end of the garden. Far away from the sounds of squabbling kids.

We bought the Worm Farm a couple of years back, second-hand. It’s just a plastic one. One day we’d like to have a fancy wooden one.

He removes the undigested chunky stuff (remnants of an old bathmat, newspaper, and recent food additions), then gently separates the worms from their poo, or vermicast. Then the undigested chunky stuff and the worms go back into the farm with a bit of straw. The vermicast goes to wherever it’s needed in the garden. Today we put it under the lemon and lime trees. Usually the process takes about an hour. Sometimes the three-year-old helps out. It’s very peaceful.

Worm Farm about to be sorted

Worm Farm about to be sorted

Worms being separated from vermicast

Worms being separated from vermicast

Worms gone back to bed.

Worms gone back to bed.

Vermicast ready to go on garden

Vermicast ready to go on garden