I should tell you what I know about gardening… but I don’t know how much of it is true…
In organic growing you’re depending on earthworms to do a lot of the work for you, if you ever lift up a piece of cowshit in a field you see under, worms having dinner. Worms dig the soil for you. They bring organic matter down under and aerate the soil. So a school of ‘no-dig’ gardeners has come about, because digging is bad for the soil and hard work and it kills everything. But to have this work you need to mulch to keep the weeds down and give the worms something to eat. I get cow dung off my neighbour, lots of it.
So I experiment with this type of no-dig gardening. Last year I mad a bed about 4ft wide and 10 ft long. I made a few, put down newspaper (about 20 sheets thick) then put about 1/2 foot of dung on top. Then using triangles planted potatoes in a bit of compost (triangles make more space than rows).
Of course everybody complained about the smell of cowshit, but not about the spuds in the summer. Read the rest of this entry »
I should tell you what I know about gardening… but I don’t know how much of it is true…
Apples! The amazing discovery by Nic and Katie of how amazing thinly sliced apples soaked in honey is on porridge ..and how un-amazing it is if you soak cubes of apple and pear in honey…
Baking, Beans, Bike Rides, Burrrito eating contests and…..BUNBURY (Nic and Mikes‘s new little puppy named after our lovely, sophisticated and exciting home town)!
Chopping wood. Excellent form of anger release. Composting toilet. Poo with a view. Satisfying. Constipation. Cheese Cheese Cheese Cheese Cheese
Digging holes. Composting toilet holes. Who would have knew this was rich’s dream job? professional poo digger.
Eating amazing foods. Curries, Roast dinners, Vegetarian delights and excellent beer and mulled wine. going to be hard to go back to a backpackers diet of crackers and tuna..
Forrest. Some of the most stunning scenic walks we have been on. Nic and Mike are one lucky couple.
Gigantic knitting needles. The talented knitter Nic and her epic needles that knitted the first ever once you start you can’t stop jumper.
Haircuts. Richard received a beautifully crafted Mohawk..with mike’s very short clippers. Henrik’s bullet wound! Shot by a rock in a poo hole!
Indoor soccer matches. Gave an insight into how unfit a few workaways were. Irish Football game – tragedy!
Jams. Henrik on lead guitar, Noel on the ear piercing tin whistle, Richard on deep smooth vocals and Katie with earplugs. Special note to Henrik for his talented guitar playing.
Kitty cats. With both of us not having the strongest of love towards cats we have made a complete turn around. Pavaoc, George and little Zizka made us fall in kitty love. Going to miss the morning cuddles from Zizka and the face plants from George.(don’t worry George..things will be ok without your balls)
Lifting bucket after bucket of rubble from the dining room. Tyre flooring experiment is now near completion. just waiting on that wood! Hopefully it will be a huge success!
Mushrooms. Eating mushrooms, picking mushrooms, cooking mushrooms and Noel drinking mushrooms. think we may have become part mushroom? Middlesborough = SHITE! HAHA
Nights out in Tabor. Epic. How could we not forget the Hoegarden beer, great feed at two cats and foosball tournaments and 12 hour sessions…
Oooooooooooooooo!! The discovery of a real breakfast in Tabor!! This had to be the happiest day of Mike and Nic’s life (ok maybe a slight exaggeration but still, you can’t go past a great cooked breakfast after a few too many beers at the Lev)
Porridge. sweet beautiful amazing porridge. thinking of marrying it rather than marrying Richard. And can’t forget Ping pong. Had our first ever game of epic ping pong. with everyone in the pub…going to bring this game to the Olympics. Pumpkin Pie! James thanksgiving treat. Poker – thanks again James….for your money!
Questionable motives behind Richard’s online dating service for Noel.
Restoration. The marathon restoration of the bookshelf. so satisfying to see it blissfully clean and varnished. Raw meat should also be mentioned here….Rich = thumbs up, Katie = undecided.
Sawing through massive logs gave us both massive guns and a massive need for tea breaks. Stalkers…Clay ones.
Tea glorious tea. Maybe the result of late night toilet runs but tea is VERY important in a days work needed at regular 2 hour intervals (or half hour ones).
Undulating hills on cute little bikes make the bikes seem less cute and more demon like…but so rewarding when reaching the destinations of Cernovice and Czech Castles.
Violent – Noels chopping technique! Actually just Noel in general.
Workawayers..Claire, Henrik, Noel and James. Our stay would not of been the same without the American arsonist, Smooth Swede, Impotent Irishman and the anti-dish American. Wedding of the century – Henrik and Lenke (BFG!).
Xrated on-line dating profiles of Henrik and Noel.
YES!Yes yes yes…the discovery of a hangover cure drink in Tabor. still yet to decide if it actually works or not..
Zizka adorable. We will very much miss Nic and Mike who made our stay so pleasant and rewarding. Thanks so much guys, we will send you a bucket load of cheese from England or maybe we will start a good cheese factory in Tabor.. Summer will most certainly bring upon a return visit to the beautiful Novy Mlyn as I don‘t think we can stay away for too long!
Coming from the bustling streets of Prague, I was ready for the lull and undiscovered woods of the countryside. I had pieced together my idea of Novy Mlyn from images on a computer screen: sweetly colored pears basking outside, an endearing huddle of mushrooms in the bottom of a basket, a row of trees bending together in the mist of a field, instructions on how to fix a butterfly wing: A conglomeration of whimsy and authenticity. When Mike picked me up from the bus station (after nearly getting killed by an ornate bus) I was already enamored with the Czech countryside and it’s bassooning hills. Novy Mlyn unfolded into all of those images I had first imagined and then multiplied on itself in depth and form and sense. There were eons of wealth in this piece of land, the four floors of space and earthy smells, the heaving barns and scrawling lush trees. I became convinced that magic burgeoned from the soil: the wild hedgehogs cultivated it, the pennybuns discussed the intricacies of the land’s fantasy. Off in the middle of the night there were exhilarated creatures that met with joyfully patterned scarves; they waved them around in ancient dances and ceremonies to preserve the spirit of this place. Yes, the land seemed enchanted and would enchant anyone who listened to it. Mike and Nic had listened carefully and they had found themselves intimately connected and tending to an accordion of history, intoxicating corridors and blossoming spaces.
It was solacing to run your palm along the cool walls of the house, see the winter light through the warm kitchen windows, smell the footprints and creaks in the encompassing attic. The house is an organism, alive in its transformation. The wood stoves its sultry respiratory system, its peeling walls its constantly renewing skin. Nic and Mike revitalized its heart and all the workawayers are guided around the house’s circulatory and nervous system, like artistic plasma.
There was not one project I did not enjoy working on. I started refinishing a window, its layers of sea green paint telling me about the turn of the century. We unsheathed the attic from a cloak of dust and bat leftovers, the air crisp and the atmosphere nostalgic. We fondled presents from the ocean and destroyed yet delicate china until the tesserae were laid out on the window sill in a mosaic. I helped button up the corners of the house and prepare it for winter (that came overnight). We all cooked and laughed and slept in warm beds. There is a constant air of movement and progress at Novy Mlyn: Refigure. Build up. Tear down. Smooth away. Research about. Wire together. Clear. Stitch. Make. Continue.
Amidst the work we wandered through the woods. When the snow fell the whole valley became even more sacred. We found a herd of horses careening through the wet ground and nuzzling in the cold. We came across an architect’s grave; an oval portrait with muted color in his cheeks by the patient lake. Novy Mlyn took its blanket of snow gracefully and shined in its white coat.
It was so hard to leave such a wonderful place with lovely people that we decided to stay longer. When the time finally came for our departure, we wrapped all the interesting projects and ideas, shared dinners and marvelous cats into a resonating memory. Novy Mlyn will be vivid to me in its pocket of enchantment nestled by the edge of the world. I think Nic and Mike and Novy Mlyn have found the perfect match in each other and I wish them all the best. I hope I can come back someday, maybe to live in the attic!
At the conclusion of my first week at Nový Mlýn, I’ve developed what you might call a frienemy. How is this possible, you ask, when only the nicest hosts, the coolest workers, and three adorable cats inhabit Nový Mlýn? Two words: wood stoves. When my toes are numb or when I’m snuggling into my bed for the night, they’re the best friends a girl could ever ask for. Or when I shower and there’s one right there, just waiting for me to finish so that it can continue to keep me warm through the drying-off process, I love them. But it was also in the bathroom last night that one of the stoves turned on me, rightly earning the enemy half of their title. As I took a quick shower, my beloved sweatpants, Vassar sweatshirt, and incredibly warm socks were nestled in a basket next to the stove. When I went to put them all on again after the shower, they were, gasp, MELTED! Who knew that cotton could melt? Not I. True, I must’ve knocked them closer to the heat while reaching for a bar of soap in the basket, but still I was heartbroken to know that the stove was capable of such destruction. And as I gaped at it in horror, it just stood there steadfastly as if to say, “Who me? No, of course not!” Not unlike George, the cat here who favors jumping on the counters to steal cheese, and then stares at you innocently when you scold him and then boot him out of the kitchen.
Alas, I should’ve known the treachery of the wood stoves, as just the night before I essentially fried two of my fingers after grabbing a hot pot off the top of one. And again, here, I should mention the human element of negligence involved, but still! I mean, I had to sleep with my fingers in a glass of ice water! We’re talking blisters and all. FYI: honey compresses, vinegar soaks, and lavender oil are all excellent home remedies for painful burns.
Luckily, no other object at Nový Mlýn has declared war on me. Last week Emily and I worked on drilling holes into the walls that surround the windows, and then we sawed IKEA curtain rods down to size in an effort to eventually cover each window with an insulating duvet. Even though it was my first time using both a handsaw and a drill, each provided nothing short of a stellar performance. We finished the job covered in red dust from the drilled brick walls and that, combined with my new tool usage, made me feel pretty badass and awesome.
I also had the pleasure of helping Emily finish a gorgeous mosaic on one of the front windowsills. She had already plastered down most of a very cool swirling star design and I simply helped her fill in the last spaces with some sea glass. It was a lot of fun picking out the most interesting pieces of broken porcelain and glass, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to learn a little bit about doing a mosaic. The only downfall was the weather; three days of constant snow doesn’t exactly nurture the best environment for being outside working with bare fingers. Therefore we took frequent tea breaks while we defrosted our numb hands next to a wood stove (oh, wood stoves…). The mosaic still needs to be grouted since Emily and Grier have just left Nový Mlýn to continue their travels. Luckily, one of the new Australian workers, Katie, has experience with grouting and has volunteered to take on the final step of the mosaic.
The past couple of days have been pretty mellow and actually quite domestic. Henrik from Sweden and Richard from Australia have undertaken the everlasting task of chopping wood while Katie and I have been doing a few little sewing jobs. Aside from pricking myself about 100 times and cursing at the thread, which liked to slip out of the needle at only the most inconvenient moments, it was nice sitting by the fire and being domestic. Today, Henrik braved the melting snow by himself to tend to the wood, while Katie and Richard worked on a draft of the Nový Mlýn property. In the meantime, I’ve been taking pictures of everyone else working and then writing about it, calling that my own form of work for the day…
A fantastic Saturday night dinner:
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk
salt and pepper
2-3 cups cheese, diced: a mix of Gouda and Edam (and cheddar if you’re lucky)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 pounds elbow macaroni
1 cup breadcrumbs mixed with a few tablespoons melted butter
To make the béchamel, melt the butter and then add the flour. Mix well, then add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes on low. Warm the milk in a separate pot and then add it to the butter/flour/garlic mixture, along with the salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil and then add the cheese. Cook on medium-low heat until it melts. Cook pasta until it’s a little underdone, drain, and mix with sauce. Place in a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture on top and bake in the oven at 375 degrees F. for like 15-20 minutes, depending on how brown you want it. Remove, let it cool for about 5 minutes, and then enjoy!
As cooked by Emily:
Clafoutis aux Cerises
Baked cherry pudding, serves 4-6
Butter for greasing
750g/ 1 ½ lb black cherries, or other fruits and berries
100g/3 ½ oz sugar
70g/2 ½ oz flour
70g/2 ½ oz butter
250ml/9fl oz milk
Sugar for sprinkling
Generously butter a wide, shallow oven dish and arrange the cherries evenly over the bottom. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl; whisk in a pinch of salt and the sugar. Sift the flour gradually, still whisking. Melt two-thirds of the butter and beat it tin. Stir in the milk.
Pour this batter over the cherries and dot with the remaining butter. Bake at 200°C/400°F/Gas6 for 35-40 minutes until the batter is set. If you don’t want to serve immediately, it may help to prevent the batter sinking if you turn the oven down to 150 °C/325°F/Gas3 and bake for a few minutes longer. Sprinkle with sugar and serve hot or lukewarm, with cream.
As cooked by Rachel
* 4 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped (I USE ¾ BAG OF TRADER JOE’S CHOC. CHIPS… WITHOUT MEASURING…. DOESN’T SEEM TO MATTER MUCH. 😉
* 1/2 cup butter
* 3/4 cup white sugar (less is more. not too sweet, brings out choc.)
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder (plus a little bit more to coat the pan with)
* 3 eggs, beaten (by hand)
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch round cake pan, and dust with cocoa powder. (JUST SPRINKLE COCOA POWDER OVER A GREASED CAKE PAN WITH A SPOON. THEN TILT IT BACK AND FORTH SHAKING IT AROUND, TILL THE COCOA COVERS BOTTOM AND SIDES WELL.)
2. In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, melt chocolate and butter. Remove from heat, and vigorously stir in sugar, cocoa powder, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slices can also be reheated for 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave before serving.
IMPOSSIBLE TO GO WRONG. NOTHING MUCH IN IT. NOTHING MUCH TO IT. EXCEPT, OF COURSE, HOW FABULOUS IT TASTES.
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