Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary


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18 June '02
Dried Broad (Fava) beansWinter cooking means more dried beans at our place (yours too probably), and last year along with  the regular borlotti, lima, kidney beans and lentils, was the first time I'd used Broad or Fava beans in recipes. Fresh broad beans have been a garden staple for as long as I can remember having vegetable gardens, but the only dried ones have been those we've kept as seed for next year's planting. 

The commercially grown ones look so nice I had to photograph them, and they feel good to handle.  Most of the bulk packets of dried beans I found were grown in Australia, the imported varieties are usually boxed so I don't know if they're pretty too. The Latin name is Vicia Faba  and they're called Grosse Fève or Fève de Marais in French. It seems they're Fava everywhere else but my place.

Cultivation of broad beans goes back to Neolithic times, they're mentioned being eaten in Egypt in 1800 BC, and in early Greek and Roman literature. The variety equina or horse bean is grown for animal food, and there are smaller varieties, the minor or tic bean and in Central Asia they have a variety paucijuga.

They need to soak overnight before you can peel the tough skins off and I've found that if you soak them too long, they fall apart quicker when they're boiled. This doesn't matter if you are going to puree them as some of the recipes suggest, and it really only made an aesthetic difference when I boiled them up with herbs (sage, rosemary, garlic) and then lightly fried the cooked beans with chopped bacon and olive oil. The very first recipe I tried was for a light bean soup called Maco di Fave and you could really appreciate the subtle flavour of the dried beans, so different from the strong taste of the fresh ones. I've put that recipe online here.



Was it good luck or good management that the 'No Bloody Charcoal' stickers fit neatly on the 'side' of the truck silhouette on those yellow 'Trucks Entering' signs? I've seen a few now, and thought it really worked as a piece of adbusters-like 'culture jamming'. 

This sticker placement on a sign in the grove of elm and poplar trees near 'Sonza' (one of our local vets), is a bit more just like fun.

21 June '02 - Winter solstice

Galahs, Kings Highway Bungendore 5.00pm 
22 June '02
Michael & Stephanie hung out the shingle and opened their shop/gallery today. It's called My Country and is in the house beside the 'Village Square' that Michael once used for his framing workshop. The little fibro house had bars on the windows and was a bit tatty and as you can see from the photograph, they've now made it look quite smart. On a cold winter's day, Stephanie said they'd had around 80 visitors and she was pleased at the response. Along with some craft items, there are lots of Michael's more 'casual' photographs for sale, as compared to his beautiful formal panoramic landscapes that he sells from his 'Wild Places' shop in the square.
 
They should do well, and Stephanie (at left with baby Sasha) says the yard will look even nicer when all the spring bulbs she's planted come up, but despaired about the grass seed she'd sown. While the new patches we planted six weeks ago have all grown well, the difference of a few weeks before the frosts had started, is obvious. We're now well into the no grow season.
23 June '02
John Walters BungendoreI walked past John's house on Friday night after walking along the Common (in a round about way to pick up Kate's car from the garage). I saw the trees with big red berries first, and then recognised the Osage oranges piled in two neat pyramids on each side of the gate. I could see another pile against a tree in the yard but I took the last two images on the disc and in the cold, the camera battery was too flat to format a new one. (Digital is great isn't it?) Having just read up about the Osage (and written about it in this entry) I was amazed at the serendipity and I resolved to return the next day and ask the owners where the fruit came from.

Yesterday I knocked on the door, got no answer and in true country style, went around the back. An older man was in the yard and I introduced myself, and said how I'd like to photograph his Osage trees.  John seemed pleased that someone was interested and we talked, and I photographed, as he showed me around the trees, and the seedlings he was growing. I came away with a new part of the story of the Osage, a young seedling tree and some fruit.

John said that he used to work on Carwoola Station at Captains Flat and that there is a long row of Osage trees, he estimated about 200 or so, growing on the property. He'd grown his own trees from that seed. Captains Flat was an early gold mining area and John believes that the trees came as seed with the American miners who came here after the Californian gold rush. He had a few tall, relatively young trees on his fence line, and some smaller ones growing with hawthorn in a dividing hedge that he said he had to cut back often, as they grew so vigorously. The trees as you'll see from the pictures are  not very dramatic in their winter undress, but judging from the amount of fruit on the ground, would have been quite spectacular a month ago. 

One thin branch about two metres long had a rope around it, John said the branch would have broken with the weight of the fruit if he hadn't tied it up. He said his wife nagged him to pick up the fruit and take it to the tip, but his pyramid sculptures are a creative solution.

As I walked back home, I met Greg the real estate agent, who has a great love of the history of the town and seems to know everybody. He saw the bag and the bare Osage stalk and I said I'd just been given it by John. Greg said he also had a plant from him, and that John was Bungendore's 'Johnny Appleseed', responsible for many of the community plantings and for a great row of oak trees nearby. 

There's more to learn about this man and the Osage story and I'm sure you'll get to read about it. 

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