Monday, May 30, 2016

Planning ahead

It's taken a while, but winter has finally started to bight at the heels of autumn. Along with it, came some strong winds to knock down one of our acacia trees, on the front street. It also blew around some stuff in our yard too. Basically it was a messy, blustering few days.


Fallen tree


Yesterday though, the wind had gone and I took stock of what was needing a good tidy. I evaluated the fallen tree, with another tree, near the chicken coop. This particular tree is a Washington Navel orange, and while it has survived many years without much TLC from us (yay for citrus) this year, nearly did it in.

Because the rain has been very evasive, and what has fallen, is less than previous years. It's not the only reason its had a hard time though.


Washington Navel fruit, ripening


We only received one fruit this year, even though several set. I'm surprised even this one managed to hold on, because the poor tree met with some unexpected (or should that be EXPECTED) fowl play.

When we started to let a lone chicken, free range, to avoid pecking in the coop and a bunch of new brush turkey's, decided it was a pretty awesome place to hang out too - well, between them, they destroyed the mulch we set down to keep the moisture in.


The dust bowl


Poultry know where to find all the best meals, and the loose sugar cane mulch, succeeded in ringing the dinner bell. Mulch soon went everywhere. So I put down more mulch, with a few buckets of water to remedy the lost moisture.

Of course you know what happened next, don't you? It quickly fell, to fowl play, once again! When it hadn't rained for a couple of months, and summer temps decided to stick around longer than usual, we had one mighty stressed tree on our hands.


Brittle wood


Branches became brittle and even fell off in the wind. I think it has some kind of insect eating the wood too. I mean, why wouldn't they - a stressed tree, is like ringing the dinner bell for all sundry of pests too? This tree had been in the ground, long before we even built Hilltop chicken coop though - so it was worth attempting a rescue mission.


Missing limbs


The gaps in foliage above, is where whole branches have fallen off. I have to hand it to this tree though, its one tough nut to hold on through the extremities it has. Although, in comparison to its sister tree, also planted at the same time and a mere 12 metres away - a Lane's Late orange - the two seem to be world's apart.


Lane's Late, Navel orange


The Lane's Late, has held on to a lot more fruit and isn't as appealing to the fowl's scratching it seems. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact, we planted a Casuarina on the western side, to help block the afternoon sun from this particular tree. Maybe they don't like the strong scent of it's pine-like needles?

But even with the occasional fowl assault, the moisture hasn't been sucked right out the ground due to this companion planting. The Washington Navel however, has no such companions to help it along, which is why it depended on that mulch layer to survive.


Barrow trip #1


When the wind makes a mess of your yard, everything came onto my radar for potential mulch materials, to go under our struggling orange tree. I found an old, root bound pot plant that died. It went into wheelbarrow number one, along with spent potting soil from plants I re-potted recently.

Also, note the bizarre concoction in ice-cream tubs. These are actually spent coffee grounds from David's workplace. But they have been sitting so long with lids on, that they've grown fantastic moulds and fungi! Who knows, maybe they'll kick-start the soil microbes under the tree? This mould, is truly fascinating stuff.


Coffee grounds, mould


It goes orange, and even smells like sweet orange. If you click the image to enlarge, you'll even see some sort of juice on the surface. I don't know how it got there, condensation perhaps, but we noticed the native bees taking a particular liking to one tub, with a slightly ajar lid. You can even see a native bee, still intoxicated by the sweet juice. When I poured the contents under the tree, mixed with the coffee grounds, it actually smelled pleasantly like "jaffa".


Coffee grounds, down


I collected another two buckets by hand, which made a total of four buckets of spent coffee grounds - with who knows what, growing inside them. It all counts as living biota though, which I want to get back into the soil as quickly as possible.


Spent potting mix and plant roots


I broke up the root bound ball of soil, and once the microbes move in, it will act like a sponge to capture moisture. If we get some of those rainfalls predicted in the next few days, it should soak well, and kick start this entire process forward.

Naturally, when I went to collect more materials in my wheelbarrow though, who should I find upon my return? No doubt, checking out the new, sweet, jaffa nectar, I dumped under the tree?


Turkey!


Those brush turkey's are fantastic survivalists. I swear, they watch our movements around the chicken coop, hoping for another opportunistic meal. We don't attempt to feed them, but we put a little feed out for our free range chicken, who seems to be happy to share it with them.

Thankfully, I have enlisted the help of a mercenary in this department of bird control though...


I'm watching you


Our cat, Muesli, loves to scout from this tree, or wait, hidden behind the pallet, to ambush the gaggle brigade. She loves to chase them off, even knowing full well, she won't be having turkey for dinner. Although, they seem to watch her movements too and wait for her to lose interest or go have a nap in the shade.

They're clever, those turkeys! I admire the local wildlife, only long enough, before I start unloading the next barrow of materials, collected.


Barrow trip #2


When the rain doesn't come, and it kills off all the grass, you can either lament the lack of greenery, or you can collect all that dead stuff afterwards, and put it to some use, feeding something else. Autumn has been prompting me to plan ahead for next year. Because what I put down now, will feed the next season's growth.

Which is why these dry times are very necessary. It's how nature prunes material, via moisture deprivation and then the seasonal winds to blow everything down. I just borrow some of nature's ingenuity, and use it elsewhere. So the dried grass went under the tree, but I also had another excess material, I could use...


Surplus compost


When we built our wicking beds recently, we overestimated, how much compost needed to fill them. We haven't been able to use the trailer, due to this over-abundant resource we're still finding ways to use up. So a small amount, would soon benefit our sickly tree.


Barrow trip #3


With another barrow of mulch material, that made three barrows, so far. I didn't use too much compost, because I was just balancing the spent, potting soil, already placed around the tree. I got half way around, with a scant layer, and wanted something similar to cover the other half of the tree

It should all break down over time though, to feed the soil. Given those pesky diggers can be actively discouraged, that is. So I considered the fallen tree up the top, to give me some inspiration. Another spent resource, just waiting to decay back into the landscape.


A pile of mulch material


Somewhat like these trees, we prepared a few years earlier. They fell down from the street too, but we carefully moved them into an empty swale to get them out of the way. It was the most convenient position for them at the time. As they have decayed though (much more, than the newly downed tree) I could break several large branches up, by hand, and stack them under the tree. Making more room in the swale, for the new tree to come down soon.


Sticks down


With a layer of large to small branches and twigs, this should curtail the antics of the scratchers. Although I'll be keeping a close eye on them! Never underestimate the enthusiasm of a hungry, scratching bird. But, I also had another resource to utilise while it was still fresh and vital! It came from that fallen tree up the top.


Barrow trip #4


Like its fallen predecessors, it was an acacia tree (black wattle) which are renown for their ability to procure nitrogen from the air. Unlike its dead relatives however, it still had leaves and flowers to be collected for my mulch rescue mission. This made four wheelbarrows of materials, under my sick orange tree.


Finished!


I'm thinking it will be challenging (though not impossible) for scratchers to remove this particular mulch away from its intended recipient. While it stacked really high initially, it should slowly break down, over time and drop. I was sure to keep the trunk, clear of materials though...


Orange trunk


I didn't want to go to all this trouble, only to give the poor tree, collar rot! So when the rains arrive (fingers crossed) it won't cause further stress to the tree.

I actually got this idea of how to mulch under trees, from what we did to our carob tree several years earlier. We have only ever mulched under it, with fallen tree debris.


Under the carob tree


We've even placed, old pallet woodm under it too. We had to do something with it, so why not use it as mulch? It all breaks down, over time, and it means I don't have to purchase mulch materials instead. Our carob tree has done really well, over the years, because all this excess that gets dumped under it.



Carob tree


We also grab another variety of acacia, to mulch it's leaves on top, too. They grow like weeds around here, so we remove them while small and put them under our trees. Because we're putting down leaves, still attached to branches, it's not as easy for scratching fowl to move mulch material away. We've not had problems with this particular tree having its mulch removed.

Although, I'm without any doubt, the local inhabitants will sure give it their best shot!


I can't tell if she's confused by the new mulch ~
or planning her counter attack


The best part is, all this stuff (or a great deal of it) was grown right here. Except for the compost, we really didn't have to venture off site, to collect this massive pile of food and protection (hopefully) for our orange tree. It took several hours to complete, but it was a lovely way to spend the last days of autumn. Knowing, I was making food for my tree, next year - and no doubt for the damn turkey's too, lol.

I must confess though, I was a little saddened lately at the absence of rain, and the fact autumn was clinging on, without allowing the coolness of winter to move in. Because it made my garden look like an absolute death trap for plants! Then when the wind came, it made even more of a mess. But in the stillness afterwards, I had to look around and contemplate, whether these things were actually beneficial to the landscape in the long run - and nature actually intended for them, to take place?

My job: like the turkeys and chickens, is to scratch out a place in the landscape, that will feed me and make use of what's already fallen to the ground. We're always chasing that abundance of course, but it sure doesn't mean the lean times, are any less necessary to our long term survival. It goes a long way, to planning ahead for that next meal. In this particular case, I hope its oranges.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Natural resilience

We live in a moderate to high bushfire area. There are still remnants of the last bushfire, all around our property. Many burned out tree stumps and fallen trees, belies the truth of our landscape. The last bushfire came through in 2003, but it would be another two years, until we purchased the property.


Fire scorched tree, down


So when it comes to building bushfire resilience into our landscape, we went looking for answers in the unconventional. "Natural" resilience, in other words. It may seem contrary to standard practice of clear and burn, but we use all our vegetative matter (fresh and dried) as moisture and silt traps.

Because if there isn't the constant rainfall to hydrate slopes regularly, the only kind of vegetation to grow, will be leggy, brittle and fire prone. To change the kind of vegetation that grows here, we first have to address the way we manage the vegetation.

If you want to read an extensive view on how David Holgrem, has approached bushfire resilience in his districts of Daylesford and Hepburn, please read this informative paper on the matter. I read this paper, many moons ago, which got me observing vegetation in my landscape, in a more appreciative way. It wasn't something to be feared, it was something to be used, to build resilience instead.


Lower Gully ~ or Dragon, as we've nicknamed it


Seeing our lower gully transformed, with its seasonal water flows, retained in the landscape for longer, has really convinced us "natural" resilience, was indeed the way to go. It wasn't just a theory in a paper any more, because it was actually emerging in the landscape as a result of our intervention.

To demonstrate the difference, I would like to show our southern slope. What is so different about this area, to the lower gully is, we haven't actually managed the landscape since moving here. It's actually how nature is working on the slopes with zero intervention from us.


Looking up the southern slope


This southern slope, is quite degraded. It's mostly dried mulch for ground cover, all falling naturally from the eucalyptus scrub. There is grass growing, but mostly in sporadic, dried clumps. The nature of a slope is to run everything down hill, so as you can imagine, the ground is somewhat hydrophobic. It takes quiet a lot of consistent rain, to get moisture down into the soil.

Because of this, its extremely difficult to grow GOOD vegetative matter. Nothing but the hardy eucalyptus trees, lantana bushes and a few leggy acacias survive. Sadly, this is prime bushfire fuel, especially when it hasn't rained in a while.


Prickly pear


Which is why we've noticed the prickly pear emerging up here too. A true desert survivor. It lives off the moisture in its succulent pads, as there's nothing in the ground to hydrate it.

What this area really needs, and we're looking into rectifying, is swales. More like modified swales, by using branches, twigs and any kind of vegetative matter, and laying on the surface - across the slope. This will help catch water and debris, from going down hill and in turn, will grow better vegetation.

With better vegetation, comes the potential for more moisture to be contained on the slopes. It's all about defying the laws of gravity, with intelligent intervention.


Deliberately placed horizontal saplings


We have started this process already, at the lowest point of our southern slope. This is close to our lower gully work. When we manually cleared some small saplings, we started laying them across the slope. It got them out of the way, but also stopped things going down hill too.

What we find emerging near these debris piles we're laying, are native grasses. They are the strappy leaf variety, which aren't really edible. Grasses like lomandra; niche plants, which pop up in the right conditions.


Native grass in seed


They prefer locations near depressions in the ground, where it catches rainwater, or near where debris lodge, accumulate and get wet. These clumps of native grasses are the biological filters, which specifically emerge where they can exploit a niche of seasonal moisture and nutrients, in other words.

When you see these living biological filters on your landscape, observe the features around them. Then attempt to duplicate what's happening, somewhere else on your property. Because they're great indicators for what's working in your landscape. I can show you what works here, but where you are, will have different conditions and features. But it is the plants which tell us, what's working.


Earthworks


Higher up on our southern slope, the plumbers dug some spoon drains to divert water away from our septic run-off area. It no longer works, since being clogged up, with tree roots. Unfortunately, this spoon drain wasn't built on contour though, so it can't retain water. It diverts straight downhill again.

David and I plan to tweak it gradually with manual digging, as well as placing vegetative matter as modified swales. This is what we do, when we don't want to involve machinery. Not only does it give us time to observe carefully any changes we make, but it takes a certain degree of skill to operate machinery to the benefit of the landscape, on a slope. We've seen some shoddy workmanship before - cutting land for the benefit of machinery, rather than what's best for the landscape. We don't have to worry about that, when we work at the manual pace we do. 

But the reason the septic run-off area got clogged in the first place, is due to the weedy nature of the eucalyptus trees. Specifically to this region, the spotted gum. These can grow up to 45 metre giants, which drop some large branches. They have their good points and their bad ones.


Weedy trees


The problem with the spotted gum is, they're really good at dominating the landscape, quickly. So they are, in fact, a weed, nature has selected to stabilise these slopes. But I will emphasis, while nature will always attempt to cover the soil with what WILL grow, it doesn't mean, just because its "native", this monoculture is actually healthy for this environment.

As you'll see a little later, "mature gums" still have an important part to play in our system. They can be, effective and intelligent management tools as well.


Natural soil condition


Because to build natural resilience into our landscape, we have to change the dead and lifeless soil on these slopes. The key components are (1) identifying where the water flows across the landscape, and (2) marrying that to plants which will capture moisture and fertility. We're the third component though, because its our job to observe the interaction, cut down vegetative matter when it will feed the soil, and assist in restoring an ecological improvement to fertility.

These key components will then generate a lot of "edges" to exploit. A lot more than exist now. Hopefully over time, it will change how the soil retains moisture and what vegetation can grow. It's a gradual process and its one best navigated, utilising what's already in the system. It won't grant immediate success, but we've learned nature's pace is also a good pace for us to work, as well.


Ground litter


As gums dominate, we'll be using a lot of their dropped material in our modified swales. Branches and limbs, don't have to be spread around the base of the trees, like confetti. The trees don't need them to grow. But we can collect and position them across the slope instead, to capture water and debris travelling downhill.

In theory, it will act somewhat like a hugelkultur bed over time - once the seasonal rains arrive, for all those soil critters to get to work again.


Large termite mound


Speaking of which, I've mentioned the dreaded termite before, but they really compliment this ecosystem perfectly. They break down all those hardwood trees, in short order. Which favours the fungi and microbes to move in next, creating friable humus. So its important to acknowledge the role they play, improving soil fertility. A termite mound, is part of the natural resilience at work in this landscape.

In suburbia a termite mound means a completely different thing, than where they emerge in a food chain of endless hardwood trees. So if you hear me singing their praises, don't think I've completely lost my senses. They just have an important job to do, and its my job to acknowledge that, for our land's sake.


Another gully


Onto something a little scary and a little disappointing, further up the hill though. This is one of the gullies, much higher up the slope, than our lower one (Dragon). We have several gullies crossing our land, and the ones higher up, are in poor shape. All that spindly scrub, is prime for burning. These gullies have no plugs to slow the flow of water, and are designed to simply run water down hill, as quickly as possible. Which is part of the reason why everything is so brittle.

It's not the scary or disappointing part though - neither is the 90 degree turn downhill, despite the fact, you can see the erosion caused by the 2011 Queensland floods.


Click to enlarge


Imagine a cute little gully, running gently with water, after a large rain event, for many days. Unfortunately the force of water involved in the 2011 flood, chewed out part of the slope and will simply keep eroding, without some kind of intervention. It was always our intention to work our way back up here, and modify this area.

However, the intervention which came, wasn't something we had planned for. Which is actually the disappointing part.


Spot the gully


The gully was filled with trees, so you cannot see it any more. It was done by our neighbours about 26 months ago. While part of this gully comes out on their property, the part I'm photographing now is on our land, higher up.

I would have liked to be consulted, before this specific strategy was done. I was told they were going to do some clearing on their land, and might encroach a little on our side, because its difficult to tell the property boundary. I imagined a downed tree here and there, crossing into our property, but I didn't imagine a concerted effort to fill the gully, with some of our own trees.


Scenic but potentially dangerous


The reason I would like to have been consulted specifically on this strategy, is they didn't fill the gully with the debris properly (see above). Dumping large vegetative matter indiscriminately, creates caverns, which ultimately allows the water through. Only they've narrowed the pathway of the water even further.

This will force any increase in water flow, into the side of the gully wall, taking soil with it. I thought it was accidental at first, because I concede the difficulty with property boundaries when dealing with scrub. Until I realised, the only downed trees on our side of the property, were directly adjacent the gully.


.

Follow the grass straight up the slope, in the image above, to determine the real boundary between properties. The clump of trees on the left, are on our side. So they only scraped back the trees on our land, that would fill the gully.

It shouldn't bother me, but the reason it does is because all care and consideration should be taken, when attempting to manage seasonal waterways. The force of water which travels down them in a wet year, are phenomenal. All the plugs we make are from vegetative matter which is small, and breaks down into a mat. It won't take out soil, if it gets dislodged by the force of water.

Any trees which end up in our waterways, are the ones nature has felled, naturally.


Very edge of our lower gully


As you can see in the image above, there's a tree tilting forwards behind the log. This path becomes a waterway, in heavy rain, and so any trees which grow in it, are destined to eventually (with enough size) topple over. Their roots cannot handle the water-logging, the bigger they get. But we didn't plant it here, the tree came up of its own fruition. There's also another tree, coming up on the other side of the log, to replace it. This is the cycle of nature at work. Something is dying, while something else is getting ready to replace it.

Understanding how native vegetation is operating in your neck of the woods, is important for understanding how you can use it to create natural resilience. While we may not deliberately drop a tree into a gully at this point, I'm happy for nature to decide if it will. We work together for the same cause. Resilience. But if we are going to do anything on purpose, we ought to comprehend the effects of such.

Trees in waterways are one thing though - trees growing out in the open, are quite another.




This is looking onto our neighbours property, which was partially cleared about 26 months ago. They haven't managed this landscape, since scraping back trees and burning them off.  While this is considered the conventional approach to bushfire mitigation, it does require maintenance on behalf of land owners. Because opening the canopy up, without managing the land, has created opportunity for prolific new seedlings to sprout.

If they don't mow, they could end up with replacement trees, in another 26 months. Which brings me back to the subject of mature gums, as management tools in the landscape.

Mature gums are the ones most useful for native animals, to nest in the hollows, once large branches fall off. But mature gums also make it difficult for establishing seedlings to emerge too. The only ones to emerge around mature gums, are the ones they throw up from their roots, at the drip line. These suckers will be thick and moist, because they'll partially feed from the parent roots.


Note the distance between the mature gum,
and where the saplings are growing


In effect, having mature gums around, thins unwanted seedling growth for you, and only allows strong saplings to emerge on degraded soil. If its not a wet year, for several seasons, saplings emerging from seed, can grow leggy and be fire prone. More so, than the ones emerging from the roots of a mature gum. Its important to remember not all gums sprout suckers, but the ones in our area do. Even still, mature gums can hold back seedlings emerging from seed, at least to their drip-line. Often smaller trees, like acacias can emerge closer to a mature gum, but they're smaller and can help to fix nitrogen.

On the downside though, you have to watch the drip-line of the mature gums, and thin some of the suckers which come up from the roots. Which is easy to do when they're small. So its not all tea and crumpets with mature gums. But at least sapling numbers can be controlled with a set of hand tools, rather than spending a few thousand on machinery for a weekend. Plus you've left those tree hollows for native animals to use.

Unless the intent is to move into a cleared area, and use it for pasture, access roads or other features in the landscape which will be used frequently, its best to leave established vegetation alone. Because there's still a semblance of balance at work, in favour of stabilising the environment. This can be hard to appreciate, when everything within that environment looks so degraded though.


Gold nuggets


Speaking about degraded, this is kangaroo poo, on impoverished soil, with eucalyptus leaves everywhere. It looks to be a truly sad image. Who would want this kind of soil on their land? However, this is precisely what its all about. Right here, is an opportunity to take what's pre-existing in the landscape (free manure supply) and find a way to use it.

We can't keep livestock on these slopes in their present state, but we can find ways to entice the local inhabitants to continue foraging for food. Leaving their little nuggets of manure on our land, as way of thank you. Which is also part of the strategy of leaving some elements of nature in place, rather than removing what we think is a problem. Animals will feed and raise their young where they can appreciate some protection, so we keep strategic stands of bushes, for them to move around the landscape safely - seeking food and water.

We aren't particularly enamoured with mowing ourselves - we do what's in our interests to control. Which is why having those unruly bands of vegetation spotted around the landscape, works both in the animals' interests and our own. We only have to control the areas we use, which tend to be the footpaths. The animals can still have the protection of bushy cover elsewhere.


Maturing female brush turkey


We are always excited to see new animals, which haven't appeared on our patch of land before. Such as the clutch of baby brush turkeys, which hatched in our area recently. Their appearance signals, some aspects of our land are now habitable enough for them to emerge.

When I was up on the southern slope a few days ago, I noticed all the holes they've dug out, around the mature gums, to get at beetle larvae. They've also scratched open an emerging termite mound. As these brush turkey's seem to favour the land around the house the most, they may actually become a natural deterrent to termite mounds, where we don't want them in future.


 Signs of a brush turkey at work


So when I talk about natural resilience for the environment on our property, I'm talking about a host of different elements, accumulating something better, out of something degraded. If I'm tempted to believe, anything is out of alignment with my personal vision for the land, I just have to watch nature's clues, for why they might actually be the perfect fit instead.


Even this large prickly pear is struggling


Prickly pear may not be my desired plant up here (we're working on it) but they're just filling the niche, created in the landscape. A lot of emphasis is placed on weeds being an issue, needing to be controlled - when its really the degraded "environment" which needs dealing with. Measures which require more placement of people, rather than machinery and poisons, as a form of control.

Because its the people with the intelligence to figure out, what the landscape actually needs. If our vision is merely short term, focused on immediate solutions, then we will never allow ourselves to look beyond what we're doing, to the potential consequences - good or bad.


The dragon sleeps for now


We want to work more on this...more vegetation which brings comfort to the environment it grows in. That sandpit caused by human induced erosion, due to land clearing, which we were first introduced to - is no longer radiating heat up to our faces, and we can visit it more than just in the cool of the morning and the afternoon.

I'm not suggesting we have the perfect system or solutions, but when I see the difference between the southern slope, and the lower gully, the change is enough to warrant continuing with our interventions. Which is really the desire to farm natural fertility for the cause of resilience in nature.

Bush fires will always be an ongoing concern here, but so should the lack of healthy vegetation. For healthy vegetation, doesn't burn as readily. So somewhere, a compromise needs to be found in between. Which is why I'm not entirely against the conventional approach, of clear and burn. But it does require more ongoing maintenance of vegetation afterwards, than perhaps is fully appreciated. It's up to everyone to find their own balance.

Perhaps where we all struggle, is learning to appreciate what actually is an asset to the landscape, instead of what's perceived as a detriment.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Surplus to requirement

David made a delicious Hollandaise sauce, to go with dinner the other night, only there was a surplus of egg whites afterwards. So it became my challenge to find a recipe suitable for such ingredients.

I really wanted to make a Lemon Meringue pie, as a few lemons were gleaned from my sickly tree recently. Only the filling required egg yolks too, which would bring me back to leftover egg whites again.

So of course, this left me with only one delicious choice. Coconut Macaroons.


Almond-coconut macaroons


They're not like any other I've made in the past. I got my recipe from here, but it didn't quite meet my number of egg whites, so I tweaked the recipe - adding other things too. It made a light and sweet, in just the right amount, treat.

They were even quite the hit, at playgroup, with parents asking to try one too.


Stores 3 days on bench and 7 days in fridge


So here is my very easy recipe for:

Almond-coconut macaroons


Ingredients:

5 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup almond meal
1 cup chopped cranberries

{Chocolate for topping}

Macaroons:
  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan-forced) 180 degrees celcius, otherwise.
  • Line and grease about 3-4 biscuit trays (depending how big). Set aside.
  • Beat whites, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until foamy - about 3 minutes.
  • Add all the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir until all the lumps are out.
  • Stir whites into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Use a tablespoon measure, or ice-cream scoop of same size, and scoop out. Dip utensil in a cup of water every time, to help mixture come away easily.

Tip: use an old coffee scoop, and a teaspoon to nudge out


  • Line macaroons evenly onto trays. These will keep their shape and won't spread, but leave space for air circulation.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until tops are golden. I switch trays around in the oven, about every 8 minutes - using my digital timer.
  • Leave on trays to cool completely, and then top with chocolate.

Topping:

Use whatever kind of chocolate is your favourite. Dark, milk or white!
In a double boiler, melt chocolate, or my preferred method is the microwave. It usually takes a minute, followed by stirring until lumps are gone. I dipped the macaroon directly into the chocolate, or if your mixture is thin enough, drizzle with a spoon, over the top.

Makes about 40