Living In Mud

This post is long overdue.

Mid 2019 we started fulfilling our dream of building our own mud brick house on some land that we could farm and utilise to become as self sufficiently as possible.

Our Development Application passed and we were granted our Building Certificate.

Mid November 2019 the site was excavated and our slab was poured. The steel frame was being fabricated and due to arrive soon after, ready to be put up before Christmas. We ordered our roof to coincide so it could all be done.

Then the frame was delayed, and delayed. It finally arrived just before Christmas, however with no time to be put up. The roof arrived too.

We headed to Sydney for Christmas as planned, managing to get through as the roads had been closed due to major bushfires everywhere. They hadn’t reached our area and although ember attack was being predicted, we’d had a few bushfires very close before and had been safe. We lived close to the village surrounded by dairy farms – not next to the bush.

It happened though. History repeated. There was a fire that wiped out almost the entire district 70 years ago. It started as a “normal” bushfire however the weather and the wind – in less than hours it had spread hundreds of kms and wiped out entire villages. It was insane. And on New Year’s Eve 2019, it happened all over again. The same path, the same wind, the same destruction.

Where we lived with Kel’s parents was completely decimated in minutes, the neighbour watched as a fireball leapt from the old Quaama tip and swallowed up the property.

We lost practically everything. Our home, our possessions, our business, and our history. We were devastated.

The property we were building on was impacted too however not nearly as ferociously as Kel’s parents.

The fire went around the slab. It burnt over the steel frame, which had been sitting in the grass. Had it been built and standing as hoped, it would have crumpled and warped, potentially cracking the slab with it. We are deeply aware of how the delay was indeed a true blessing. We realise now even in the midst of tragedy and trauma, we were still being looked out for, looked after.

The roof was gone. It didn’t really have a hope. We were generously donated funds from people all over, setting us up to purchase a new one.

Over the next month we stayed with family and friends and in emergency accommodation. However we decided it was only right to live on our block. It would be rough to begin with however we wanted to be there. We wanted somewhere that was ours and that was permanent. We also knew that if we didn’t live onsite, the build would not progress.

This is where our Instagram @living_in_mud was born. It’s been over a year now that we’ve been posting on it every day. One to update family and friends and also as a memory diary – one day we can look back and see our journey.

We haven’t blogged in almost two years and I don’t see that changing, however our original dream and purpose for starting the blog has not changed –

“Our dream is to live self sufficiently on our own land; rearing our own animals for meat, dairy and eggs, growing all of our own fruit and vegetables and providing a place for people needing regeneration and a new lease on life. With this dream in our hearts and the start of our adventure upon us, we have decided to record it all through videos, pictures and words on this blog.”

I feel the chapter on Chef and the Waitress has closed. That’s not really who we are anymore. It’s where we began, who we were. Although we are on the same path as before, our journey is evolving.

This isn’t how we imagined ourselves in ten years. Although it’s kind of exactly where we hoped we would be – just minus the traumatic bit and the grief of losing everything. It’s weird how life works.

We’d love for you to follow along if you’re interested @living_in_mud both on Facebook and Instagram. We also want to thank all those once again, who generously donated funds, needed items, time and more. We never would have been able to get to where we are now without you all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Recipe Recommendation: September

Oh dear! I’ve really let the blog go, haven’t i? The longer you leave it, the harder it is to get back into it. So much has been happening so i want to get on top of it so i can bring you all our news!

First up though, back into the recipe recommendations.

Looking back at this month it seemed that I hadn’t done much cooking or baking! However I think it’s just that I didn’t use many other people recipes, only mine!

Anyway i will leave you with some delicious pictures instead.

We went and stayed with my parents to celebrate Father’s Day and my birthday. For Father’s Day my Mum baked this DELICIOUS dairy-free Persian Love Cake. IT WAS SO GOOD. I had a dollop of coconut yoghurt on top of mine. So yum. I’m drooling thinking back on it.

 

And then for my birthday she made a dairy free Lemon Meringue Pie. Also delicious.

 

Recipe Recommendation: August

Unfortunately i don’t have any recipes to recommend this month. Usually i have a pretty good reason why however the only thing i can think of is that i sliced my finger tip open and was out of action for a week or two in the kitchen (that’s actually a pretty good reason come to think of it). Never rush when you’re cutting up bread!

Anyway I’ll leave a picture for you of this great cake we made for Ethan’s 3rd birthday. He’s a mad Disney Cars fan and he was stoked with his birthday cake and two new cars.

Ethan's 3rd Birthday Cake

Recipe Recommendation: July

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of July. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

Vegan Vanilla Cake

Vegan Vanilla Cake

For our wedding anniversary we decided to have a picnic with the kids rather than go out for a fancy meal as i have to be super strict with no dairy and soy while breastfeeding Ava. Rather than a cake, i decided i wanted trifle so of course you cannot use the traditional jam roll that you buy from the supermarket if you cannot have dairy or soy! I made this cake for the trifle and while the recipe for the trifle as a whole needs tweaking, this cake was DELICIOUS!!! I even made it again as cupcakes and it turned out fantastically! Don’t mind my attempts at piping icing though 😉

Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes - Iced

Recipe Recommendation: June

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of June. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (Wheat)

All of our hens went into molt at the same time and stopped laying for over a month so we had no eggs for quite awhile. I wanted to still keep baking so researched different egg replacement methods. Obviously flax and chia are a popular alternative at the moment however i find that they yield quite a dense crumb, which is fine in heavier baked goods however i wanted light and fluffy, white flour blueberry muffins. Vinegar is in fact a substitute for eggs and this recipe is a testament to how well it works. Delicious! Kel preferred when i used a rye/barley mix instead of white flour (see below) however i prefer the white flour ones 😉

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (Rye/Barley)

 

Recipe Recommendation: May

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of May. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

We’ve pretty much run out of beef in our deep freezer and the next steer isn’t due to be culled for at least two months. We’ve also been wanting to try and eat less meat and more plant based meals and with my need for no dairy, we’ve been experimenting a bit with vegan dishes. This one was EXCEPTIONAL. Oh it was so good. I’ve made it again since and it’s probably going to become a staple meal in our household.

Red Pepper Cheese Dip (Vegan)

Red Pepper Cheese Dip (Vegan)

I noticed that I’d been making a lot of sweet snacks and no savoury ones. I was really craving some cheese and crackers (which i cannot have) so i found this and thought i’d give it a go. It was great! We all enjoyed it and although i don’t have it pictured, the best veggie to dip in it was actually steamed broccoli! So delicious.

Recipe Recommendation: April

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of April. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

Pina Colada Water Kefir Ice Pops

Pina Colada Water Kefir Ice Pops

I’ve been brewing Water Kefir lately (read this post here) and each brew increases your yield of Water Kefir grains so unless you want to brew enough Water Kefir to supply an army, you need ways of using up the excess grains that you’ve grown. Obviously you could just compost them however it seems such a waste. People have come up with many various ways to use up your Water Kefir grains, and i found this one that i was super keen to try because i LOVE Pina Coladas and i was wanting something healthy and refreshing in the warmer weather. Also Ethan is not a fan of the taste of Water Kefir however he really enjoys sharing one of these with me so it’s a great way to get some extra probiotics into him! Definitely recommend.

Vegan White Sauce (Bechamel)

Vegan White Sauce (Bechamel) - Before Vegan White Sauce (Bechamel) - After

As surprising as this might be, i didn’t realise you could make white sauce, or Bechamel, dairy free. I thought it had to be butter and milk. It doesn’t. It has to be fat and liquid. Kel informed me afterwards that you can even make it from stock! Well. That opened up a whole new world for me! I’d been craving Aussie style Mac n Cheese (cooked pasta, white sauce and cheese on top, baked in the oven) and i found this recipe so thought i’d give it a whirl. It wasn’t until after that i realised that basically oil had been subbed for butter and non-dairy milk for dairy milk and i could have figured that out for myself (haha). If you’re like me though and you forget quantities and like to have someone else’s recipe to work with rather than just experimenting from scratch, this is a great recipe to start with when making a dairy free (or vegan) white sauce. Apart from the cheese on top, this was just as good as the dairy version and totally satisfied my craving!

Tahini Cardamom Cookies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Tahini Cardamom Cookies (Vegan & Gluten Free)

I finally found a cookie recipe that ticks all the boxes for Ethan’s “cup of tea and biscuit” time! These are easy, healthy, quick and delicious! Ethan loves to help me make them and because they are vegan (no raw eggs) i don’t mind at all that he loves to “taste” the batter constantly (and lick the bowl clean at the end). I’m not a huge biscuit person however even i enjoy a couple of these with a cuppa. Cannot recommend this recipe enough.

Slow-cooker Chicken Cacciatore

I forgot to take a photo of this dish – i remember it being a bit hectic when i was serving up so in all the rush i obviously didn’t stop to take a photo for the blog! I didn’t add the mushrooms because they make my father-in-law ill however it was still super tasty and warming.

Maple-Sweetened Banana Muffins

I can’t believe i don’t have a photo of these muffins because I’ve literally been baking a double batch every week for a month or so! These are obviously great considering i keep baking them. They are dairy free and super easy to make – Ethan often helps me make them. A great muffin for morning or afternoon tea.

Healthy Quiche Taco Boats

My brain must have been taking a holiday the past month considering i forgot to take a photo for the THIRD time of a recipe i made. These were delicious and a hit with the whole family.

Water Kefir

We’ve been interested in the idea of improving our gut health with either Water Kefir or Kombucha for awhile now so when a notice appeared on our local noticeboard from a neighbour with excess Water Kefir grains, we thought, why not?

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Water Kefir grains from our neighbour

After searching up various methods for brewing the Water Kefir, I found this one, that after I’ve been using for awhile now, am super happy with.

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I accidentally added double the amount of molasses for my first batch, hence why it’s so dark 😛 However since then i have added the correct amount and it looks and tastes much better!

Brewing Water Kefir

Brewing a double batch of Water Kefir

Bottled Water Kefir

Bottled with sugar added for the second ferment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it taste like? It actually kind of tastes like beer! Surprisingly enjoyable. Kel has one each night with his dinner, just like you would a beer – except this one is much better for you. His digestive system seems to be going well so here’s hoping it’s doing lots of good and improving his immune system 🙂

 

Recipe Recommendation: March

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of March. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

No Food Processor Protein Balls

No Food Processor Protein Balls

Awhile ago i bought a giant tub of vanilla flavoured pea protein powder however i much prefer the dairy-free Isagenix shakes so it’s just been sitting there unused. I found this recipe to start using it up! I’m not a huge fan of these protein balls as i find them too rich however Ethan can’t get enough of them (we’ve given him a limit of two per day) and Kel loves them too although they are quite calorie dense so he doesn’t have them that often.

How To Make The Perfect Custard

How To Make The Perfect Custard

I had half a carton of Bonsoy that had been open for too long and i didn’t want to waste it. I had some fruitcake to eat and so i thought, why i don’t make custard? I know how to make custard however i wasn’t sure whether simply substituting the milk would work so i looked up a recipe to guide me. OHMYGOODNESS. This was actually the best custard EVER. You could hardly tell it was made off soy milk and it was SO delicious. Even Kel had a serve and loved it! I’d be interested to try the recipe with other milk substitutes. Highly recommend even for normal milk.

Recipe Recommendation: February

These are the recipes that I’ve tried from other bloggers/websites that I haven’t altered that we’ve really enjoyed for the month of February. It’s nice to recommend others plus it’s also encouraging to know the recipe didn’t just work for the person posting it but for others too (I’ve tried so many recipes that just simply haven’t worked).

Paleo and Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Naturally Dyed Icing

Paleo and Vegan Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Naturally Dyed Icing

Ethan loves having a cup of tea and a biscuit with his Pop and although Milk Arrowroot biscuits aren’t too bad, i was wanting him to have something a bit less processed. Although this recipe fit the bill and was super delicious, they were SO sweet (and we didn’t even add the icing!) and aren’t really an everyday biscuit so although i do recommend the recipe, only as a sometime treat! Ethan did have a lot of fun using the cookie cutters.

Italian Tomato and Spinach Risotto

This is the second time i have forgotten to take a photo of a recommended dish so you will just have to take my word for it! I’m loving The Healthy Mummy recipes at the moment because they are super easy, delicious and healthy! What more could you want? This was a great dish that tasted like a meatless version of bolognese with rice instead of spaghetti 😀