Monday, 31 March 2008

Perfect bread for cheese platter

Hazelnut, Shallot, Raisin Bread
I used my basic bread recipe:

500g bread flour (I mixed 150g German Multi-Grain with 350g Strong White bread flour)
10g fresh yeast (or 2 teaspoons of dried yeast)
1 tsp salt
300-350ml water

2/3 cup shallots (or onions) sliced
2/3 cup crushed hazelnuts
1/3 cup raisins (I accidentally added 2/3 cup and it was very nice)

Heat a little butter and oil in frying pan, add shallots/onions and fry till soft and brown.
Add hazelnuts and fry for another minute.
Add raisins and heat for another 30 seconds.

Add mixture to bread dough. Knead.

Let rise, shape into loaf (or baguettes), let rise again. Bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.


Sunday, 30 March 2008

Spiced Crabapples

Today's experiment - Spiced Crabapples. Recipe from "Joy of Cooking".They are absolutely pretty!
450g of crabapples taken care of, another 2 buckets to go.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

...napping on a Jerusalem Artichoke leaf.

Actually, it's not that itsy bitsy. It looks like something from outer space.

I didn't mind it while it was meditating.
But suddenly it started to move while I was very, very close up to take pictures. It seemed to flex its muscles while looking straight at me. Creepy. I left while I could.

Edit: I would be interested to learn what kind of spider this is. If anybody knows, please drop me a line in the comment section.

2nd edit: It's a Bird-dropping Spider. Thanks to Scarecrow who identified it for me. The fact sheet can be found here.

Turmeric #3

The turmeric is doing really well. Especially considering the extremes in weather in the last 2 months!

The big pot out in the garden - remember what it looked like in February? - looks like this now.
This is a pot on the balcony. I planted the turmeric months before the above. However, it only emerged at around the same time as the one in the pot in the garden.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Froggie wants a pat

They are real sooks at the moment, these sheep.

Pat me? Please?

Freckles has a friend!

Look at the smile on Freckles' face. He is obviously quite happy to have a friend.

This is the second time in as many days that I caught the chook on his back.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Preserving pears

Bought some wonderful "Sensation" Pears at the market for $1.00 the kilo. How could I resist? My first thought was, 'preserved pears!' There were other varieties as well and as I just love pears, we came back laden with bags of pears. Good thing we have a second fridge in the shed.

Peel and core pears. Don't discard the peels and cores, but put them in a big pot to make syrup later. Thank you for this tip, Joy! I really loved the syrup.

Pack jars with pears.
Add water and sugar to pot and bring to boil. My ratio for a medium syrup is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of sugar. This syrup was made with 9 cups of water and 4 1/2 cups of sugar. I made that much as I intend to preserve another batch of pears tomorrow.
Once the sugar has dissolved and the syrup tastes heavenly (of pears), strain liquid.

Add syrup to jars.

Put ring around top, add lid and clamp. Place in preserving kit. Fill with water.Can't wait to eat these pears!


Rain, rain, glorious rain!

What a wonderful sight! Open your curtains, sip a cup of coffee and watch the rain!

The rainwater gauge held 14mm at 8.30am. More showers forecast for this week.

Let's all do the Happy Dance! :)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Busy bees!

No blog entries lately, sorry. This was due to a lack of time and not a lack of activities to report.

Preserving, planting, sowing and putting up a shed (intermingled with the usual everyday activity - such as work). Lots of pictures have been taken but not yet edited. Soon, soon.

The forecast is for a week of showers and cool weather. Perfect to sit in front of the computer and concentrate on paid work, plus updating the blog.

Not sure what showers look like. Is this the wet stuff that falls from the sky? Wow! That would be fantastic. :)

Thursday, 20 March 2008


I have been experimenting with pretzels again. Today's batch was really, really nice. I was very pleased with it. I could pretend that I intended them to look like pretzel rolls, but I won't. There are not many left, as we had them for lunch, together with a big plate of Insalada Caprese.

Monday, 17 March 2008


Picked a big basket full of tomatoes yesterday morning before the heat hit.

Well, I couldn't just leave them on the plants, could I? My thinking is that if the tomato fly has infested my tomato patch, I'd rather pick the tomatoes diligently to avoid the larvae going into the ground and overwinter as pupae only to emerge next season.
So the more tomatoes I pick, the less larvae will go into the ground to emerge next season. That's my theory.

Anyway, there it was. This basket full of beautiful tomatoes. I plucked up my courage and decided to wash and core them. Just to see what was inside. Every time I cut open a tomato I held my breath. All prepared for a nasty sight. Nothing. The big pile got smaller and smaller...still nothing! Wow. The last tomato was cored and cut. Nothing. Geee... was it all just a nasty nightmare last Thursday? (No, it wasn't. I found the picture we took of the infested tomato. Still gross.)

Well, I decided to chop them (just to make sure I could inspect every millimetre of every single tomato) and preserve them in my jars.

It took me double the time it would normally take me to preserve tomatoes. But now I am happy with the result. I am very sure that nothing is in the jars that should not be there.

Here are the chopped tomatoes already preserved. You can also see some raspberries (autumn fruiting Heritage), a small watermelon, and a big bowl of plums in the background. Some cherry tomatoes. The zucchini, cucumbers and capsicums I picked that morning are already in the fridge.

Thursday, 13 March 2008


I was all geared up to preserve more tomatoes today, despite the heat.
Washed them all and started coring them. Bleaaghhh! A maggot?! My skin started to crawl. Okay, take another tomato. Totally unblemished. Beautiful. Cut. Bleaghhhh! Now that's getting scary. One big fat maggot. Not a caterpillar that I am used to. You know, the ones that bite a hole into your tomato, leave some poop around it, and they are big and greenish and well, caterpillary.

So now I'm getting really worried. Fruit fly? Not good. Well, onto the Internet and a quick but thorough search. Not getting better. Hmm.... consult with neighbours. They have been around a bit longer than we have. Give them a little Show & Tell. No conclusion.

Okay, better call the fruit fly hotline. Quick and easy. Question - answer. Ping - pong. No worries. It's not fruit fly - it's the tomato fly. Oh. Nice. Big, major relief. But still gross.

I am NOT going to preserve any tomatoes at the moment. I don't even want to touch them. Yuk. I am having a tomato-free day today.

I will also refrain from posting a picture. That'd be too revolting. (We have some, ask and ye shall receive. If you must.)

Ps.: The spellchecker didn't like 'Bleaaghhh!' I checked for suggestions and this is what it gave: 'Castlereagh'. Much better. :)

Another record

Well, Adelaide has reached the 11th day of the heatwave - the longest ever of any Australian city. A national record. Which we are most likely to break every day until next Wednesday.

The garden is drying up rapidly. Leaves are getting crispier. Vegetables are getting cooked on the plant. There is no chance for them to ripen up. Cooked.

Northerly winds are picking up. So far we have been very lucky with the bushfires. Let's hope it stays that way.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

It's official

The current heatwave in Adelaide is now the longest hot spell on Adelaide records.

We have now had 9 days in a row with temperatures above 35C. Apparently we have had 8-day heatwaves of above 35C in March before. The last one in 1934.

I don't like such records.

Unfortunately, we will break our own record tomorrow, the day after, and on and on, until at least next Monday. 14 days in a row!!! I sure wouldn't mind if the forecast was wrong there. Apparently we are in for 38C - 39C days until Monday.

Officially, it is autumn here.

I could post pictures of crispy fried leaves on various vegetable plants, but that would be too depressing. When you touch the leaves they just crumble to fine dust.

On a more positive note:
We measured the level of water in our water tank for the house and found it at a reassuring level. Slightly more than half-full. *phew*
All our water-saving measures are showing great results.

The garden water tanks still have some water in them. Enough to keep things alive. Hopefully.

Rain dance, anyone?

Friday, 7 March 2008

Preserved Lemons

What to do with a big bag of lemons that a friend gave us?
Preserved lemons!

They are easy to make, keep for ages, and can be used in 1001 dishes. (Or more.)

Wash and dry lemons. Cut into quarters (or cut into quarters but don't cut through at the stem end so that you still have a 'whole' lemon). I did the latter this time.

Get a clean, sterilised jar, sprinkle a spoonful of salt at the bottom of the jar. Take cut lemon, open up a little and sprinkle salt generously along the quarters. Push into jar. Do the same with all lemons until the jar is full. Push them in so that they release their juice. If there is not enough juice to cover the lemons, cut and squeeze more lemons to fill up the jar.
I also pushed in individual quarters to fill some gaps. So I cheated, call the preserved lemon police.

Be generous with the salt and lemon juice. There are lots of recipes how to make preserved lemons. They may vary slightly, but the basic principle is the same. Here is one that I used when I made them the first time.

That's what they look like when you have finished filling up the jars.
Put the jars into the pantry and let them do their thing for 3-4 weeks. They should be ready by then.

I use them mainly in chicken and seafood dishes. They add a great zing to a dish. Most recipes call for only the peel, but I usually use the whole quarter. Just make sure you are aware how salty and lemony they are. One quarter is very often enough to flavour a dish for two or three.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Summer is back!

Last week I thought autumn was here, but I am glad summer is back. Things are ripening up at a speed I thought impossible. Last week I was a bit worried I would not get many more tomatoes, zucchini, chilli, etc. Thank goodness I was mistaken! A few more harvests like this and I can preserve another batch of tomatoes.

Today's shopping trip in the garden.

Spread out on the kitchen bench.

Getting hungry? Let's slice a few tomatoes.
Add some sliced bocconcini, fresh basil, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, some salt & pepper.... lunch is ready!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The odd things you see

If this photo was taken near Gnomesville it would only be a little odd, but it was taken in the middle of suburbia in a major city. The things you see on a Sunday morning. Just prior to taking the photo the sheep stopped to nibble on a hedge, the woman then took off in quite a hurry and disappeared into the shopping centre car park or into the local cafe, not quite sure which.