Saturday, January 28, 2012

Harvest Scene - Updated

We set off early this morning to pick up fresh produce from Devonport, Frankford, Flowery Gully and Hillwood. It's been an amazing season for hay, with many farmers reporting nearly twice as much as their normal summer yield. Round bales littered the countryside en route like giant billiard balls, but it was the paddock of old-fashioned stocks that caught our eye. We're going to do some digging to try and track down the farmer who still harvests hay in the traditional way.

Update Monday: Just got off the phone to Pam and Bevan who own the farm where we saw these piles of stacked up hay. "Stooks, not stocks", corrects Pam. Oops, of course! Pam and Bevan are third generation farmers from East Devonport, growing cabbages for seed, poppies and hay for chaff. Which is where the stooks come in. Apparently stook hay makes better chaff. "I don't know why, I'm not a horse," said Pam. "They're fussy creatures!" Pam says her husband, Bevan, was selling chaff to some local old timers who inspired him to cut his paddock in this old-fashioned way for the first time last year. One of them had an old binder which is what's used to make the stooks. Each stook consists of six or seven stacks (or sheaves) of hay which is stood up to dry, then rounded into bales and sold for premium chaff. "It took such a long time, we thought we'd be here til June," says Pam. Friends and family pitched in, though, and now the paddock on the side of the Bass Highway is attracting tourists from near and far. "Everyone wants to take photos," says Pam, adding that the best viewing point is from the flyover - unless you can fly. That, she says, would give you the best view of all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Shed Fashion

Sunday nights are for packing at the hilbarn shed. Each week is different. It starts slowly and mindfully, while the four of us decide what goes on the bottom and how each item will fit together. We think about colour and crushability, and whether or not an item needs packaging in brown paper or plastic bags, or otherwise wrapped in newspaper. We like there to be as little fuss and wrapping as possible - only what's necessary to keep an item fresh or from spoiling others in the box - as if it's just been picked or harvested. Once we've settled into the way and how of packing, and the task is understood without hard thinking, the conversation moves to how our week was spent, to recipes tried, or friends enjoyed. And to having a laugh. So when Rhonda turned up in cut-off trackies and farm boots we couldn't resist a snap. This is Rhonda, showing off the latest in Shed Fashion. We aren't the most glamorous puss in boots in town, but on a 25 degree day, it's cool and comfortable and that's what counts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

How To Keep Basil

Graeme and Kym's beautiful hydroponically-grown basil plants filled the van with an intoxicating aroma when we picked them up on Saturday morning to pack in this week's boxes. Just letting you know, if you keep your basil plant on the kitchen windowsill in a glass of water (don't let it go dry) it will last for a couple of weeks at least. Not that we expect it to last that long at all; now is the time for basil with everything! Ever tried Basil Ice Cream?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cherries On Top

Last year, Pete's cherries, grown in the cool climes of Mt Arthur in Lilydale, were devastated by an unseasonally wet summer. This year, we found Pete in a very happy mood. He says it's one of his best cherry seasons yet, and it's only just begun. Yesterday, we picked up boxes of Pete's freshly picked "William's Favourites", an early variety, and took them straight home to weigh and pop into brown paper bags for this week's hilbarn boxes. We love the way they look and taste like a bag of sweets. Come back in a couple of weeks, said Pete, for the Ron Seedling variety, a large dark red cherry that ripens later in the season. Then, as we were leaving and the sun was setting over Lilydale and the western Tiers, he introduced us to last year's vintage homemade cherry wine - happily shared. Thank you, Pete and Betty, for a cherry season like no other.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Courgette or Zucchini?

Thanks to Tim from Latrobe who provided the zucchini in this week's hilbarn box. You can see it growing here in Tim's great shot of the unmistakable countryside of Tassie's Central Coast. "What's your favourite way of eating your zucchini," we asked him. "I'll send you a recipe," he said. And by the time we got home and unpacked, the recipe had arrived. Here it is, happy to share it with you, especially as we tried it out last night after packing this week's hilbarn boxes. Try it - it works!



2 large or 3 med zucchini, grated coarsely

1 large onion, chopped

2 rashers bacon or some ham, chopped finely

1 cup grated cheese

1 cup self raising flour

Half cup olive oil

5 – 6 eggs

Salt & Pepper


Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs. Season.

Pour into greased 20cm x 20cm tin

Bake at 350F for 30 – 40 minutes

Nice hot or cold

Sunday, January 8, 2012

hilbarn in 2012

We've spent the last two weeks looking up at busy summer clouds while we rested. Now we're back, ready for hilbarn in 2012, with Graeme's lettuce picked so fresh this morning it's still wearing raindrops; Colin and Jenny's tomatoes, Tim's zucchini (recipe to follow shortly), Dave's organic garlic, and Sara's piles of plums from her garden just up the road that Benny and James have just helped us bag, ready for our first pack of the year this evening. Our "blue sky thinking" for this year? Sharing even more of the same wonderful fresh Tasmanian produce with you. We'd love you to spread the word. As Graeme told us today: "a happy customer makes a happy grower "!