Gathering the straws of life together

Tag: grow your own food

Do it yourself (DIY) Projects

Do it yourself (DIY) Projects

There are so many Do It Yourself (DIY) projects we can do around the home. This time of the year, heading for winter (in Australia), many of us are looking at our garden and planning a few DIY projects. My One&Only (O&O) however is doing […]

Ethical Shopping

Ethical Shopping

Yes, my topic is ethical shopping not about Ethel shopping. When I was a teenager I had a nick name for my mother. I called her “economical Ethel” – she was a savvy shopper and always looking for bargains. Just like me! There is more […]

Possum or Quail for dinner?

Possum or Quail for dinner?

When you are planning your weekly meals do you have possum or quail for dinner? Those of you who are my “vintage” – a good age, like a good wine, will remember the TV Show The Beverley Hillbillies. Grandma Clampett’s favourite recipe was possum stew. At the time I could not imagine enjoying possum stew or pie for dinner! But times change and possums are on the menu, just like kangaroo and wallaby. Can you be a native animal lover and still eat wildlife? Can you enjoy a roast chicken dinner and yet still raise hens for eggs? What are the ethics of eating animals? Christine Korsgaard, the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University argues that humans do not have a right to eat animals. She also concludes that this is a point “many  decent people would reject”. I thought writing about possum or quail for dinner would be straightforward, but this is not so! Eating native animals such as possum, wallaby or kangaroo is definitely off the menu for many people. Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland, says NO to wildlife products. Anyone who promotes the killing of wildlife for food or skins for sustainable purposes is, according to Australia Zoo, telling a lie.

Marinated Herbed Quail before it went into the oven.
We did enjoy our quail dinner – delicious flavour from the coriander, ginger, garlic and other ingredients in the marinade.

Recently I watched the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans from Tasmania, with the help of a neighbour, kill (with a shotgun) and then BBQ a wallaby. This came about due to the proliferation of wallaby’s on Matthew & Sadie’s property and the destruction of their grassed paddocks. It was not something Matthew took pleasure from but to survive on his land, with their conscious choice of eating meat, such action had to be taken. Then there are others who make a conscious choice not to eat meat or seafood or dairy. If all we ate was vegetables would we have enough protein to help our body repair itself? Protein helps our immune system and gives us energy. If we don’t consume meat than alternatives such as nuts, beans, legumes, eggs, yoghurt should be included in our daily diet. If we all became vegetarians would the obesity problem in Australia be solved? There are studies that have shown that plants have feelings. Such evidence begins to make the topic about what we should eat, even more complex!

This then leads me to raise the problem of feral cats in Australia. Every year they kill more native animals than humans do! Yes, feral cats kill more than 20 Billion Australian wildlife species every year? What should we be doing about the feral cats?

At our place, like many others across the world, we eat meat. We love our meat, our hens eggs and yes, we eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken and quail. When I was born my great-grand parents, my grand-father and uncle raised chickens and ducks for eggs and food. There were no supermarkets in those days.  Just a local shop with the basics, like sugar and flour. My great-grandparents had a cow. That is where their milk, cream and butter would be sourced. Human survival has a way of guiding and changing our eating habits! In the meantime, we can have the ethical debates and make personal choices about what we eat. Yet, we all must eat to live or we will die. It is as simple as that!

The Garden

The Garden

I really like the garden at this time of the year – Winter. We live 691 metres above sea level and with this comes cooler weather in the winter. Also, we are able to enjoy the changing of the seasons – the deciduous trees lose their […]

Too Much Apple Pie!

Too Much Apple Pie!

Who is eating too much apple pie? Not at our house. These days we prefer or our digestive system copes better with savoury food. This is working in our favour, keeping us healthier than we would be if we ate apple pie. When I was […]

The Naked Retiree, Depression and the Mediterranean Garden

The Naked Retiree, Depression and the Mediterranean Garden

The Naked Retiree, getting older, tired and depressed should now be creating a Mediterranean Garden. There is more than one reason that the naked retiree must get out in the garden. Already, many retirees have felt the heavy hand of the Federal Government changes to the age pension. That is, those that have less in their pocket. A few naked retirees have a little more, but not much more! Around 170,000, to be more precise, will receive $30 more in their fortnightly pension payment. Though for many of those, this small “leg up” will not make much difference when many are already living on “struggle street”. There are hundreds of thousands of older Australians who have a new title – the “losers”. That is the title that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conferred on older Australians. The ones that are helping the government manage an unsustainable budget with debt and deficits none of us can begin to imagine.

Now there is talk about the family home being included in the assets test for the age pension. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is the latest body to call for the change. It may happen or it may not happen but with all this media publicity it creates a sense of foreboding in retirees. All of which has the potential to exacerbate the symptoms of depression or cause those who are depression free to feel miserable about what the future holds. If you are feeling depressed beyondblue has a support service that will help you. To counter the symptoms of depression it becomes even more essential for the naked retiree to get out into the garden, a Mediterranean Garden!

It may look small but when we do the garden makeover it will be big enough!

Many of us have heard about the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet or eating regime. This includes, improving cardiovascular health, less chance of developing diabetes and increased longevity. An Australian study at Deakin University has discovered further benefits. The findings were encouraging after only 12 weeks of eating a Mediterranean-style diet. In that time, one-third of the participants showed a significant improvement in their mood and depressive symptoms. There was never a better time for naked retirees to start a Mediterranean Garden.

Very soon our herb and vegetable garden will be increased in size and fully enclosed.

The benefits are many if you grow some of your own food. Firstly, you will save money at the supermarket check-out. Then, if you follow the Mediterranean eating regime you have less chance of developing diabetes. Now the naked retiree is feeling a whole lot better about themselves and life in general. This is of course, if they do not worry too much about their “long life” and how they will manage financially as they age. So, what is in this Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean way is to eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts; olive oil and canola oil; using herbs and spices to flavour food; limiting red meat; eating chicken and fish at least twice a week and red wine in moderation. To get the lifestyle really working combine the food with exercise. This is the Mediterranean Way and it is now “our way”. We have this type of diet and it will be even better when our food is fresh, straight from the garden, as soon as we make a few changes to our garden.

Our garden makeover includes an enclosed herb and vegetable garden. We must go down this track to keep out the possums, brush turkeys, birds and bandicoots.  Our lovely plump “Grosse Lisse” and cherry tomatoes are under attack by predators.  Tomatoes are a basic of the Mediterranean Diet and that suits me perfectly as I love tomatoes. This week I made a “Garden Herbs and Tomato” Sauce. We have a small supply ready for any pasta dishes or pizza’s over the next month or so.

This is our tomato crop that the birds and brush turkeys have been enjoying!
It does not take too much effort to make your own pasta and pizza sauce. This batch of “Garden Herbs & Tomato” Sauce has tomatoes, organic garlic, onions and herbs. Only the herbs came from our garden. The combination works well for a great taste!

We have planted citrus fruit trees that already are bearing small fruit to be harvested in the winter months. Once we have our enclosed herb and vegetable garden we will be able to dig and plant with more vigour and confidence knowing that we are protecting our small crop. Getting out in the garden, digging and weeding is also good for our health. It takes time, space and effort and not all naked retirees have the agility or health to create a garden. If you are older and you can’t manage a garden, then find out about a local farmer’s market and get your produce from there. You will find it fresher and cheaper than in the supermarket.

Naked retirees, the cohort also known as “losers,” are the older Australians, many of whom went through the Great Depression of the 1930’s. After living through the “Great Depression” they and other retirees are now living through the “Great Oppression” of the Turnbull Government. When will this cease! And where are the most brilliant minds in Australia, the ones that can get us all out of the “budget blackhole”? At the very least, without penalising older Australians. There must be another way. In the weeks and months ahead I will look at more statistics about how other countries are beating the “budget blues” without beating up on their older citizens.

The Rosemary Bush has flourished with regular watering. Growing your own herbs is so much cheaper than buying them at the supermarket.

While I am writing this, I am listening to Plácido Domingo Encanto del Mar, a collection of Mediterranean Songs, which is a coincidence. I really enjoy the Mediterranean music and listen to it often and very soon we will have our very own Mediterranean Garden. The way things are going politically and the decisions that are being made we “need” our Mediterranean Garden.

Our house has Mediterranean influences. We have arched windows and the brick entrance is arched. We also have a water fountain out the front. Once I get the solar worked out, instead of running this with electricity we will hear the gentle sounds of running water. Maybe then I could start a tradition with neighbours, friends and family. Every time we have a visitor they must turn their back and throw a coin in the fountain! Just like at the Trevi Fountain in Rome. These coins can pay for our new seedlings for the Mediterranean Garden! Will that mean we will have “less” visitors? A funny statement I read recently was from an older woman who said to a visitor “please visit me again when you have less time”. The naked retiree must maintain a sense of humour as life can be difficult in difficult times!

It is difficult to “fly with the eagles, when we are stuck on the ground with a bunch of political turkeys”. Despite this, we are a resilient bunch, us older Australians. If you don’t feel as resilient as you would like, go out and find a group to support you through tough times. You could also join me and join National Seniors Australia. It is an independent voice to ensure the views of older Australians are heard by governments at all levels.


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