Rural rhythms…

Rhythms are so much better than schedules. One day might be at a super fast tempo, the next a slow, dreamy waltz. As someone who has never enjoyed regular schedules, I revel in developing rhythms.

In cooking, as in life, rhythms should respond to the seasons. When warmth comes from the sun, it’s the season for light, sharp chopping and cold, crunchy vegetables. When the woodstove warms the hearth, it’s time for slow-simmering stews, endless loaves of bread and a bottomless pot of chai.

Frosty mornings

Jonai Farms is teaching us its rhythms. Frosty mornings call for a hot oven to bake the sourdough that rose overnight as we watch another perfect sunrise.

Bread rising with the sun...
Love that big new oven

Days that can’t break 10C beg for a chai station on the woodstove, which also doubles as a temperature regulator for the nighttime yoghurt making brought on by the endless supply of fresh milk from a local dairy.

Chai station

Perfect spot for setting yoghurt
Real milk

A farmer’s life of physical toil from sun-up to sundown justifies fresh eggs daily on the morning’s sourdough with thick lashings of butter, and sometimes Greenvale Farm‘s most excellent bacon.

A farmer's breakfast

Warm days invite us out for lunches al fresco, but the mercury drop that trails just behind sunset demands enamelled cast iron be filled with luscious lamb shanks, a huge pot of dahl, or cinnamon-spiked chili.

Dinner our first night at Jonai Farms - big pot o' chili

When a big storm knocks out the power for the night, break out the hurricane lamps and shift that osso bucco out of the electric oven and onto the gas stovetop.

Cooking like they used to

A couple days of meaty wintery dishes lead us naturally back to gado gado or palak paneer kofta.

gado gado
Palak paneer kofta, masala dahl & fresh yoghurt

And no matter where we are or what the season, ‘peace and happiness begin, geographically speaking, where garlic is used in cooking’ (Marcel Boulestin).

These are the rhythms making the Jonai happy beyond our wildest expectations of farm life. What a privilege to be both grateful beneficiaries and mindful custodians of the land.

Oregon – the End of the Road Trip

A captured moment of cousins capturing an image...

I forgot to share my final Crikey post on Road Trip USA: Breathless in Oregon Rivers in the wonderful madness of returning to Oz and moving directly onto Jonai Farms! Watch soon for a new website and farm blog…

As for Road Trip USA, it was an incredibly enriching, grounding experience for all five Jonai, bringing us closer and teaching us things together in a sustained way that just doesn’t happen in the banal confines of home, with all its attendant work, school and social distractions.

Would we recommend driving across a country in a small RV with three kids? Absolutely – we adjusted rather quickly to living in a small space, cooking with limited gear, and coping without air-conditioning in a heat wave. Okay, we never *really* adjusted to that, but we did learn to put up with it.

Having sold the RockVan at the end of the trip on eBay for slightly less than we paid for it, the trip didn’t turn out to be *too* expensive – cheaper than if we’d hired an RV and cheaper than staying in hotels as well as hiring or buying a car. Being in between paying rent and a mortgage also made the trip achievable (not to mention Stuart working two jobs for the previous 2 years…).

Thank you to the wonderful people we met along the way who made the trip more interesting, warm and full of great learning, and big hugs to my extensive mob of family in Oregon and California.

So that’s a wrap, armchair travellers. The Jonai have settled in on the farm, and your next reality show is about to begin. 🙂

Jonai Farms view from the house
Jonai joy at the bottom of our volcano

Breathless in Oregon rivers

Dictionaries should define ‘breathtaking’ as ‘Oregon rivers’, an obvious double entendre for the initiated.

And if it’s not the rivers that make you gasp, there are the mountains — either steep or rolling bristling with acres upon acres of deep-green conifers.

Unlike Colorado or Utah’s eye-popping grandeur though, Oregon’s beauty is exquisitely banal — it’s perfectly inescapable, joyfully simple, and utterly lovely.

Continue reading Breathless in Oregon rivers