Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Bega 16

It must be Christmas time!!
The last few days have seen a good many great things come our way, like jewel-like raspberries on the side of the road near our house...

and exquisitely beautiful donkey vases (I do collect them, and I will accept them as payment for custom clothes).

We have also been the lucky and extremely grateful recipients of no less than sixteen beautiful chickens, lovingly carted all the way from Jamberoo to Bega by my mum and Jen in the back of their Prius. Quite a sight, no doubt.

They're a handsome bunch...

The chickens, all 16 of them, are a housewarming gift from mum's friend Deb, who is not only a superb chicken-breeder, but also an all-round lovely lady, as exemplified by her giving us chickens and helping out the week we built our little house. In addition to a number of barnevelder/wyandotte ladies and gents, we also received, as a christmas gift for the kids, a lady bantam, her extremely handsome boyfriend, their 4 babies, and another lady bantam who I can only assume is the nanny. 

This chicken has been named (by Olive) 'Last-time Lee' on account of the fact that he was our chicken 'last time' we had chickens. She moved to Deb's when we moved to Bega, and now she's back with us!
It is SO NICE to have chickens again! Don't get me wrong - we freaking love our ducks. But chickens, with their scratchy, clucky ways are charming in their own way. They're also yummy. I daresay that when they (and/or their babies) are old enough, we'll be engaging our new haybox cooker to send them to a state of extreme deliciousness.

The haybox cooker is the latest in streamlined, sophisticated kitchen appliances. Every home should have one (note state-of-the-art boogie-board and strawbale insulation).

Yes, today was our inaugural attempt at cooking a slow-cooked  Greek lamb stew in a haybox cooker, an awesomely old-school, lo-fi way of slow-cooking that uses about 90% less energy than a normal slow cooker. How so? Basically, the cooker uses the same principles as our little strawbale house, ie. straw is a kick-ass insulator. And if you tightly pack it around a pot of boiling stew, the straw will keep the heat in for hours, slow-cooking the contents without using any more power than it takes to bring the thing to the boil. Ace!

The lamb stew being unpacked after around 4.5 hours in the haybox.

I'd first read about haybox cookers in good ol' Grass Roots magazine maybe 10 years ago but, for some reason hadn't actually gotten around to making one and giving it a go. But since we've been living this kinda (comparatively) lo-fi life where, in order to take a hot bath we need to collect and cut firewood and build a fire, we've become really acutely aware of the resources (water, power, fuel) we used to take for granted. For example: Pearl usually makes a christmas pudding, which we all enjoy. When she read the recipe recently though, she got to the bit about boiling it for 6 hours and thought "What the?? Did I really boil it for 6 hours???" only to realise that she did, of course, always boil it for 6 hours. But because she was using an electric stovetop - she just switched it on - the reality (and associated energy-use) involved in the 6-hour boil hadn't really been in the forefront of her mind.
Anyway, the point is, we now know a little bit more about how much things 'cost' in terms of energy, so things like haybox cookers have taken on a whole new level of appeal.
And the stew? Totally amazing, melt-in-the-mouth amazingness.

Trust me when I say that it tasted even better than it looks


  1. It looks yummo! I love the box - gorgeous handle and little labelly thingy. What a fantastic idea for slow cooking. Incredible!!! x
    PS Lovely to see you at the markets and at Mer's yesterday:)

    1. You should give it a go Kim - it is SO easy and SO yummy... and saves energy to boot! x

  2. I'm definitely going to try this....soon. Saves energy and keeps your house from getting too hot in summer!

    Thanks for the reminder.


    1. Oh yeah! I guess because of the cooking outside thing I'd forgotten about the hot house issue when slow cooking - good thinking Nada!

  3. Love your chooks! How wonderful to have chook goodness around you again! That haybox cooked meal sure does look amazing - you guys are so clever!

    Wishing you all a wonder-filled first Christmas in your magical new place!

    Lots love and festive cheer

    Ally, Rich and Annie xxx

  4. note to self: look out for donkey vases on next op-shop romp.