Finding inspiration

The last 5 months have gone by so quickly and so much has happened since my last blog post, maybe a little too much to share every experience, but the ones I'd like to share are about a sentiment, a feeling, a loss and new adventures.

Living here in Tasmania for the last 15 years has provided us with a wonderful opportunity to fulfill a deep and growing desire to be more sustainable.  To successfully run a business created by us, to renovate a house and turn it into a home, and to build a veggie garden that nurtures us all year round. Of course the list doesn't start and stop there, there's so many other things to be grateful for, that perhaps if we were still living in Victoria we might not have had the impetus to try.

Looking back to where this desire all started, it goes without saying that my childhood was a major influence.  Growing up in a family home that had chooks in the backyard, right next to the veggie patch and a workshop where my parents would create ceramics.

Much later on, when I lived in Fitzroy Victoria, I would walk my dog up and down the cobbled laneways occasionally peering over back fences into people's yards.  There was always one backyard I loved to look into - from its back door to the back fence it was filled with a veggie garden, an amazing productive veggie garden!


One day I was caught red handed having a good old sticky beak over the fence.  The elderly gentleman who lived there was tending his garden, he greeted me, we introduced ourselves and he invited me in.  What a true delight, such kindness and generosity, after 2 hours I left with a full belly and my arms filled with homegrown veg.

A short time later we moved from Victoria to Tasmania and our little Tasmanian adventure began!

Today I'm still looking over fences, but nowadays usually just my own.  I think back to that kind gentleman and fondly think about the impact that day had on me.

This photo was taken spring time last year.

This photo was taken spring time last year.

Now 15 years on and we have our own veggie garden, our own chooks in the backyard, it feels like I have come full circle.

Late last year we decided to close the shop for all of January and this has been a source of discussion for some of the locals in Deloraine. We had a very big year, took some big risks in the shop, and have put our necks out financially and creatively with the decision to close the workshop space upstairs and the creation of the coffee nook.

I was informed that a number of people had asked why we were closed for all of January and some even went as far as to say that they thought we were silly to close during such a busy time of the year, when all the tourist were about and that it wasn't good for the town to see a closed shop.

We pride ourselves on working hard, not just when we're in the shop, but when we're at home working on shop things.  I was hurt to be told that anyone would think we were closed for all the wrong reasons.

Other than being completely exhausted at the end of 2016, we also suffered a loss on my husband's side of the family.  So we decided that the best thing was to put family first and be kind to ourselves.

That said, and now off my chest, we were greeted by so many who were so happy to see us reopen, and hoped that we all had a restful break.  I am humbled everyday when customers tell me that they have come to Deloraine with the purpose of visiting The Black Hen.

This year is going to be a great year for The Black Hen, with many plans being tossed back and forth. We'd love to see you visit us, come and have a look and enjoy a coffee, hot chocolate or tea!

We've had a wonderful time at home since I blogged last, watching the garden change from spring to summer and now with autumn knocking at our door, it never ceases to capture my imagination.

It is from our garden that a lot of our ideas come, ideas for the shop like the fantastic garden sink Noel built for our garden corner.  If you haven't seen it, check out my instagram or facebook page.

Inspiration is everywhere in Tasmania, recently on another one of our quick trips down south for the shop we stopped in at the Ranelagh General Store, and enjoyed one of the best hamburgers and chips we've had for quite a while.  

The chef creating these masterpieces makes his own pickled ginger that goes on top of his Japanese inspired hot chips, along with fried spring onion and some other secret toppings.  On returning home I just had to try to make this pickled ginger, and since doing so I think I've eaten it everyday!

Armed with some more ginger I set about making a new batch.  There are a few ways to make it if you look online, but this was my pick of the bunch from the Washoku guide website.

200g of ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Boiling water 1 kettle's worth
1 cup vinegar - 200 ml
70g sugar

Peel the ginger, cut into thin slices, and sprinkle with salt in a sieve.

Make the sweet and sour marinade using the vinegar and sugar. (Please adjust the amount of sugar to your liking.)

Pour boiling water over the ginger, drain the excess water by shaking the sieve. Marinate in the vinegar and sugar mixture while the ginger is still hot. Alternatively you can put the ginger in boiling water in a pot, and transfer into the sieve to drain.

Leave it for a while, and it will turn nice pink. You can eat it, but it will absorb more flavour after half a day or so. You can store it for a month in the fridge.

I don't think it will be long before I make another jar full. x Julie