November 25, 2018

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Making beeswax wraps by Milkwood

Making beeswax wraps

The universe has been pushing me to make beeswax wraps. We have a bulk supply of beeswax from years ago when a friend had a honey business at Nundle, I've had two conversations giving me how-to tips from grating, to oils to mix with the beeswax, and when 'Milkwood, Real skills for down-to-earth living' arrived it had a instructions on 'Making Beeswax Wraps' (featured on their blog this week). I have been following the Milkwood blog for years and I was thrilled when Milkwood founders Kirsten Bradley and Nick Ritar announced they were writing a book. I love the chapter on Wild Food, being blackberry, apple, fig, mushroom and nettle foragers. 

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November 25, 2018

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Reversing climate change, reducing food waste

Reversing climate change, reducing food waste

Sustainable North West committee member Col Easton began the forum, 'A Mandate for Climate Change for Tamworth', with the question "What can I do in all aspects of my life to reverse climate change?" The forum, attended by more than 60 people, is the latest in Sustainable North West's community events that include Sustainability Expo, Open House, 100 Mile Dinners, and Youth Enviro Race. It aimed to share ideas with business, government, communities, and individuals about the urgency to increase action on climate change. The catalyst for the event was the book. 'Drawdown' by Paul Hawken, which brings together the expertise of 70 students and scholars from 22 countries to list 100 climate solutions with the greatest potential to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The solutions were then peer reviewed by a 120-person Advisory Board. Ranked number three in the Project Drawdown list is Food Waste, from food rotting on farms, or spoiling during storage or transport, to retailers rejecting imperfect produce, and consumers buying too much food, throwing out food past its use-by date, or not using leftovers.
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November 21, 2018

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Christmas cake with the help of friends

Christmas cake

It was a delight to mix the dried fruit, see the cake batter coming together blending the dark brown sugar, butter, flour, eggs, and fruit. Our nine-year-old came home from school as I was mixing the batter and he gave it a stir for good luck before it was spooned into the tin. Our kitchen smelt like Christmas as the cake baked for four hours. The recipe made a high sided, dense, dark Christmas cake. Once it was cooled I followed Mickey's advice, wrapping it in baking paper, foil and a tea towel and placing it in a cupboard. I look forward to opening the cupboard door and breathing the scent of anticipation.

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November 09, 2018

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Flowers steal the Nundle Art Show

Nundle Art Show Flowers

Nundle School of Arts Hall looked more like a florists today as CWA members prepared flower arrangements to decorate the Nundle CWA Art Show. The Nundle CWA flower team of Margaret Chamberlain, Barbara Webster and Margaret Schofield collected flowers and foliage from their gardens, and laid them out on four trestle tables before creating their displays. Delivering her second boot-load of flowers and foliage for the morning Margaret Chamberlain says, "You've got to see my smokebush." She walked into the hall with an armful of roses, salvia, valerian, and oak and gleditsia foliage. The season was looking desperate until last month when Nundle had about 60mm of rain in three days, followed up with 20mm this week. "A couple of weeks ago there was nothing in the garden, not even weeds," Barbara Webster says. Thanks to the good falls Nundle School of Arts Hall is full of the delicate scent of roses, larkspurs, pittosporum, star jasmine, cottage rose, and cat mint. 
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November 07, 2018

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Salted dark chocolate layer cake

Salted dark chocolate layer cake

This Salted dark chocolate layer cake is for our friend KG who lives in Sydney and says that if she lived around the corner she would be on our doorstep every time I posted a cake shot on Instagram. Well, she was in the neighbourhood recently and I made this cake for dessert. The recipe is in October Country Style, 'Pure decadence', an excerpt from Donna Hay's cookbook Modern Baking. It's all about the super rich chocolate ganache with this cake. Unfortunately our daughter suffered the pain of watching me make the cake and then had to leave before it was served. However, our sons were very happy to have left overs in their school lunch boxes the next day.

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November 07, 2018

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Yankee Jack - The Musical, homegrown country arts

Yankee Jack the Musical
Nundle musician and mother, Toni Swain, has taken a character from Nundle's history, John Wright (aka Yankee Jack), and brought him to life in an eight-song musical, Yankee Jack - The Musical, to be performed by Nundle Public School students this month. A desire to see her son Quin perform in a musical, and a newspaper article about Yankee Jack who died as an 86-year-old Hanging Rock recluse, inspired the original work. Toni first saw The Illustrated Sydney News article, which includes the first photograph of Yankee Jack, on the wall of Nundle's Mount Misery Gold Mine Museum when she moved to Nundle 10 years ago. "I would always tell friends about this fascinating character in Nundle's history, a 12-year-old boy who travelled from London to find his fortune in the Hills of Gold, and between the ages of 18 and 24 crossed the oceans seven times and visited every continent," Toni says.
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November 06, 2018

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John Fryz Tamworth Country Music Festival photo essay

John Fryz Tamworth Country Music Festival Nundle Rocks The Peel Inn Country at The DAG
Last summer we had the pleasure of having dear friend photographer John Fryz stay with us at Nundle during the Tamworth Country Music Festival. We have a special bond with John because John, Duncan and I visited Nundle together for a Country Style magazine shoot in 1997. It was this visit that planted the seed for Duncan and I to move to Nundle from Sydney in 1998. There we were in January 2018, Duncan and I well and truly entrenched in the Nundle community, having revitalised the general merchants Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores, and settled in a modest house on eight acres shared with our three children. John was keen to experience the Tamworth Country Music Festival through Nundle eyes, taking in gigs at Nundle Rocks at The Peel Inn (The Slowdowns), and Country at The DAG (Luke O'Shea) and our verandah (Rachel Webster). John's images show that the country music festival is about so much more than music. It is a relaxed, Australian summer vibe; the shared enjoyment of music and food with friends in a beer garden, seeking out Sheba Dams' freshwater for respite from the summer heat, fishing in a tinny at twilight on Chaffey Dam, and taking in the crazy colour, characters, and busyness of Tamworth's Peel Street. It is a healthy mix of noise, movement, crowds, quiet, stillness and solitude.
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September 12, 2018

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Chai chocolate chip biscuits

Chai chocolate chip biscuits

Don't you just love it when new recipes hit your email inbox. Immediately I am transported (read distracted) into the kitchen, imagining new dishes to try my hand at cooking, inspired by seasonal flavours, and expanding my skills. If a recipe title includes the word chai, it grabs my attention straight away. It is the beginning of spring, yet chai holds its allure. A recipe for Chai chocolate chip biscuits posted by ABC Life last Wednesday had me reaching for my phone to make a shopping list and I made the biscuits on Sunday. The recipe author Thalia Ho, of Butter and Brioche food blog, introduced me to a new technique called pan banging, literally banging the baking sheet against the oven rack several times during cooking to help the biscuit dough spread during baking. For the first time I used a small ice-cream scoop to measure out the biscuit dough, a tip I picked up from customers buying ice-cream scoops in our shop, resulting in eye-pleasing, uniform sized biscuits.

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August 11, 2018

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Reducing electricity bills

Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores

Reducing electricity bills is not a topic I would usually cover on our shop blog.  In the past two months there have been two free State Government energy education workshops in Tamworth, Demystifying Energy for Households, and Introduction to Energy Management and I went along to boost my energy literacy. No one likes opening up an electricity bill and feeling deflated to spend a large chunk of money, only to forget about conserving energy until the next bill. In line with the waste hierachy Reduce, Reuse, Recycle we try to be conscious of simple energy conservation, turning off lights when we aren't using rooms, installing heavy drapes to keep out the winter cold and shading western windows from summer heat, but now we are ramping up our knowledge a notch. We're taking steps to install solar to power efficient heating and cooling, and improve the comfort levels of our 125-year-old shop building.

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August 08, 2018

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Cooking with honey

Backyard Bees, Doug Purdie, French honey loaf, Honey Anzac biscuits
Learning how to cook with honey has become an interest after reading about the health benefits of using produce as close as possible to its raw form in Ngaire Hobbins' book, 'Better Brain Food'. Ngaire says that while honey is a sweetener and should be used sparingly as a treat, not an everyday food, less refined sweeteners like honey contain small amounts of minerals so are more attractive than granulated table sugars. She gives the tip, the darker they are, the more extra nutrients they contain. 'I am Food' author, Anthia Koullouros suggests using honey like a spice, sparingly, and buying good quality, organic raw honey.
We always have honey in ample supply, my parents Don and Margaret Dixon having kept bees for about 40 years, and our shop buying honey from local beekeepers, Pam and Ted Lowick, in 20 litre drums to bottle and sell under our Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores brand. Driving past a group of hives amongst gum trees in a paddock always makes me a smile.
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