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Bush Rambles and Pickled Beans

It’s a gorgeous morning, quiet and still, the rising sun setting the grass heads aglow. The sky is clear after a week of heavy clouds, wild winds, and the occasional drop or two of rain. Our world is vibrant green again and I love it.

Earlier this week our dear friend Sue, member of our medieval group, brought her granddaughter Charlotte out for a couple of days. They’re both city girls so we had a marvellous time wandering around the farm checking out the little goats, spotting a few apples, lemons, and grapes in the orchards that survived the hail storms, and, our most favourite thing, exploring our woods.

The front of our property is mostly cleared for paddocks and animal pens, but the back is a wild stretch of bush filled with gorgeous old gum trees, fallen logs covered in lichen, and all sorts of treasures if you know where to look.

 

Although it’s a nice walk from our house, little girl legs get rather tired so I took them for tractor rides on our lovely old red beauty. Sometimes Charlotte helped me drive and others she clambered on back with Sue as we motored along past startled wallabies snoozing in the grass and The World’s Largest Prickly Pear which will provide delicious fruit for liqueurs and preserves later this month.

Whenever we felt like exploring, we’d park the tractor under a shady tree and go for a ramble. We found tiny wildflowers underfoot in vivid shades of blue, pink, yellow, and coral, and a wild tangle of woody vines that looked like the makings of a woven basket.

We tested our balance by walking along the spine of fallen trees, being very careful not to fall into the hot lava and ferocious animals that awaited us on either side.

We saw glimpses of Ireland in lichen-covered rocks and of Scotland in gorgeous purple thistles, but mostly Australia in twisted gums and gumbi gumbi trees dripping with berries that will turn bright orange in Autumn.

It was wonderful out there, as it always is. Kangaroos skedaddling through the trees, neighbours black cattle coming up to the fence to say hello, and innumerable birds flitting about the tree tops. We even spotted this tiny fellow and marvelled at his markings.

Mostly we ambled and looked and basked in sunshine and cool breezes and the deep peace that always accompanies time in the bush.

After we bid them farewell, I headed for the kitchen to take care of the green beans I picked up at the market. My beans were destroyed by the hail, and my new seedlings are flowering but not producing yet, so I was excited to find bags of green beans on sale at our village farmer’s market.

When I was a little girl in Canada, my mother, a master gardener, would pickle innumerable jars of vegetables to get us through the long winter months. There were carrots and cucumbers and beets and green beans and they were all delicious.

I hadn’t made pickled green beans in ages, so when I spotted these beauties I had to nab them. I decided to make a quick Scandinavian pickle, like I did with carrots and beetroot in December. I wasn’t sure how it would work since beans are a lot thicker than thinly sliced root vegetables, but I gave it a go, spicing them with juniper berries, caraway seeds, and peppercorns.

They are beautiful!! Crunchy and fresh with an intense bean flavour. As Bear said, after gobbling down part of a jar, “They’re so bean-y!” Yep, we’re smitten.

Now the sun is up and so are the goats, heading towards the dam yard for a nibble. It’s time to finish my tea and head inside for Phase Two of Transform the Kitchen and Dining Room.

Over the past few years Bear and I have been collecting shelves, cabinets, and cupboards from our favourite thrift stores to make our little kitchen/dining area work well for us and our friends. We love our tiny house, but storage is a humbug and trying to keep things orderly without it has been a trial, to say the least. This week we finally found the last piece we needed. Yay!!! Yesterday he helped me shift the furniture in and I spend the day reorganizing and cleaning and it is looking a gazillion times better. I keep wandering out there to look at it, a huge smile on my face. It’s a lovely thing when you figure out how to make things work.

So today I will press on, finding places for what we need and getting rid of what we don’t, making our home a little haven. xo

Scandinavian-style Pickled Green Beans

Ingredients:

2 cups green beans, washed and trimmed
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp salt
6 peppercorns
4 juniper berries
½ tsp caraway seeds

Directions:

  1. Pack green beans loosely into clean, sterilized jars. Set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil over medium high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. When cool, pour over green beans to cover by 1/2 inch, gently tapping jar on counter to release air bubbles.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 1-3 days until ready to eat.
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