Thursday, 30 October 2008

Apricots this year?

Every year we ask the same question. 'Will we get apricots this year?'

Well, it is looking pretty good at the moment. But anything can happen.

This is an apricot on a tree that we netted.
These are on a tree that we could not net as it is just beside a narrow path. So we will have to beat the birds. (Yeah, okay, we can but try.)
We didn't have any apricots on the trees the last few years. So this is a new sensation.

Monday, 27 October 2008

What a treat!

We had rain over night. What a wonderful sound it was! Ahh....
In the morning it was still a little drizzly, but it soon cleared. The rain gauge showed 21.5mm! *happy dance*

Flowering chives.Bronze Fennel.

Yellow rose
(don't ask, I'm the Veggie Gnome, I don't know its name.)

Protea (see above).

This pesto rocks!

There is a wild rocket and parsley jungle out there.

Perfect to make a big batch of pesto.There is no law that says pesto can only be made with basil. Is there?

Friday, 24 October 2008

And now for something more uplifting!

Enough of all this doom and gloom!

I decided to have some time out (from work, weeding, planting, mowing, weeding, fire prevention measures, weeding, brush-cutting, etc.) and try a new recipe or two.

A post by Taurus Rising inspired me to make another batch of yoghurt. Not with spiced chai syrup - which I will try another time - but with some mixed berry coulis. The idea was to have a layer of berry coulis at the bottom of the jar and the yoghurt on top. It didn't really work out that way, but never mind. You can see the jars in the background.

Then a batch of baguettes for tomorrow's afternoon tea.

Then something that sounded super-delicious: Spiced Chocolate & Orange Bread from another blog that I read regularly. I used hazelnuts instead of pistachios, because that's what I had at home. The mixture was enough for 2 smallish loaf pans. I might put one in the freezer, hence only one was decorated.
I decided to cut it so that you could see what it looked like inside. Not to eat any, no no. Well, I did have to do some quality control as it was already cut. I also passed a small piece to the other taste testers in the household and it passed with flying colours. Now to putting it somewhere safe.

Oh dear

First fire ban of the season tomorrow, 25 October, in 8 Fire Ban Districts, including the Mt. Lofty Ranges.

This from the website of the Bureau of Meteorology:

Forecast for Saturday
A hot to very hot and dry day with some high cloud. Moderate northeast
winds becoming fresh to strong and gusty northwesterly by late morning.
Winds turning milder, fresh and gusty southwesterly during the evening.
Extreme fire danger in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Precis Windy. Late change.
City: Min 19 Max 37
Elizabeth: Min 17 Max 38
Mount Barker: Min 13 Max 36
Can't blame them. The vegetation still looks green, but the ground is dry and dusty.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Here it is!

Things are crazy around here and I didn't have time to share our garden risotto with you before.

Here it is.I toasted some croutons and roughly chopped almonds to scatter over the risotto. It was a hit. There were no leftovers.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

What's for tea?

Let's have a look in the garden.
Aha! Globe artichokes. They'll be lovely.
Hmm... let's fill up these gaps with asparagus and broad beans.
Looking good. I can feel a garden risotto coming up. Might just grab a big bunch of parsley, too.

Oh..and I'll need some leeks. No problem. I know just the spot to get some. Hmmm...which one to pick? Ah, the small one will do.I better get cracking - all this shopping in the garden has made me hungry. :)

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Salad Bar

I planted a few more seedlings into my salad bar today. 2 lettuce varieties - Drunken Women and Red Leprechaun. Great combination, don't you think?!

Then some Red Orache, Chervil, Komatsuna, Chinese Broad Leaf Celery, Red Giant Mustard, Red Bunching Onions.

They joined the garlic, spring onions, leeks, wild rocket and a chilli plant (3 years old!).
The salad bar is underneath the loquat tree and fairly shaded from early afternoon onwards. As we are approaching summer with quite a number of stinking hot days, the shade will ensure that the salad greens will (should) have a longer life expectancy and don't go to seed on the first hot day. At least they should keep us in greenery until the tomatoes enter the scene some time mid-February.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Triffids update

What's this strange clicking noise? And now? What's that?! Is that the sound of a whip-like tongue lashing out? Oh no, the triffids are coming closer...

Huh? Tomatoes?! Really?

I had to put some bricks at the corners so that the window pane can rest on them during the night.

The eggplants, chillies and capsicums in the other frame are growing nicely, too.

A close-up specially for neighbour gnome. :)


Well, not exactly right now, but look at these seedlings. They look pretty promising. I reckon come tomato season, we shall have a few basil leaves with our tomato/bocconcini platter.

This is Lettuce Leaf Basil.They are still enjoying the view from the window sill but I think I shall move them into the cold frame very soon. Just to harden them off a little bit.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Flowering Granny

Isn't she a beauty?!

Granny Smith in all her glory.
Have a closer look.This is normally the last apple variety we harvest. It's a late maturing one and tastes absolutely delicious. Nothing like the store-bought ones which squeak when you bite into them. You know what I mean. The taste is totally different too, when you let the apples mature properly.

Spot the artichokes!

Very soon we will pick the first globe artichokes again.
I thinned out the artichoke plants heaps this year throughout winter, but there are still tons left over. I did that to ensure the flower buds (the bits we eat) are getting bigger again.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Our Clever Chicks

Our clever new chicks all snuggled up for the night. Olive, are yours on the perch yet?

Look at that!

Remember the little experiment I started way back in May? I planted some self-sown tomato seedlings into my raised compost bed and put window panes over them to protect them from frost. Only 1 survived but it has now some tiny fruit on it. Look at that! Aren't they cute?
Let's see whether we'll get some ripe fruit off that plant. Wouldn't that be marvellous?

Sunday, 12 October 2008

New chicks on the block

7 1/2 weeks later the chicks have come to their new home. I think the neighbour gnomes, especially Popeye, were a bit sad to see them leave.

Let's see what is inside the shed!

Oooohh... what's there?! Wait for me!

Look at me! I can perch!
Let's check out our new neighbours.

Hey, girls! The grub's alright here!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Time for some dessert!

One of our favourite desserts at the moment is vanilla pudding and berries. We freeze heaps of berries during spring and summer. Usually we start with red currants, then raspberries, boysenberries, youngberries and blackberries. The strawberries are eaten fresh as they don't freeze well. If there is a glut we make jam. The blueberries are eaten straight off the bush and never make it inside the house.

Anyway, we still have a variety of frozen berries in the freezer. They are great throughout winter in all kinds of desserts, muffins, cakes, etc.

I make a thick custard. Put a layer of frozen* berries in a glass (or a bowl if you don't want to make individual portions), then pour a layer of custard, another layer of berries, etc. *There is no need to defrost the berries. Just pour the warm custard over them. They'll defrost pretty quickly and set the custard at the same time. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Potato bed

3 different varieties of potatoes were planted in this bed.
Lustre, Up-to-Date, Dutch Cream.

They are enjoying layers of various manures, compost, good soil. Then a thick cover of hydrangea mulch.

I am already looking forward to our next potato harvest!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Asparagus Flan

Asparagus is in season! Even though we do have an asparagus patch, it is still not as productive as we would like it to be. The fruit & veg shops are well-stocked with fresh asparagus, though.

This is the first time I tried my hand in flans. Wow! They are easy and delicious! Make a big one and you will have leftovers for lunch, too. It is delicious cold.

Flan straight out of the oven:Method:

Make short-crust pastry (or buy one). Line flan tin with it.
Crack 2-3 eggs into a bowl, add a little milk (1/4 - 1/2 cup or so), some cream cheese (1/4 - 1/2 cup), grated cheese (lots if you like it cheesy), season with salt & pepper and freshly chopped herbs.

Arrange asparagus in flan tin, pour egg/milk mixture on top. (If you would like to please a carnivore, add some ham when arranging the asparagus.)
Slide into pre-heated oven and bake at 180 - 200C for about 20-30 minutes or until it is set and golden on top. I like to sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top just before serving and let it brown up before you take it out of the oven.

Serve with a freshly picked garden salad.
The flan is also lovely with all kinds of roasted vegetables. Again, this is a recipe to play with. Use whatever you can find in your garden. Or fridge. Or pantry. :)
Ps.: Any tips on how to remove the bottom of the tin without having to juggle the whole tin like mad? You know, so that you are left with the flan bottom without the fluted sides? It's easy to slide the flan off the bottom after that.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Building extensions

The tomatoes are growing like crazy. We had really lovely, sunny weather and they must have enjoyed that. The first ones reached the window pane on top of the cold frame.

So it was time to build on.

Let's see how long it will take until they reach the top. Unfortunately it won't be another 3 weeks or so until I can plant them out. We are still experiencing frosty mornings.

The eggplants, capsicums and chillies are in the new cold frame.
There are still some pieces of wood left over which is a good thing as I am sure I will have to build another layer for the frame soon.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Tasmanian Mountain Pepper #2

The new growth on one of the Tasmanian Mountain Peppers is very encouraging.
Have a closer look at the flowers.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Woolly Monsters Resting

Notice something odd in this picture?

Let's have a look at Johnny, while you are trying to figure it out.
Here he is. The big woolly sook.
Tadah! The chook that likes woolly backs.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A glut of eggs

... means it is Frittata time!

Frittata is one of the most ingenious dishes imaginable. You can use up leftover vegetables. Or go for a walk in the garden and pick whatever takes your fancy (it has to be edible, though!).

Anyway. Here is what we had last night.Method:

Heat up a little oil in a cast-iron skillet (I absolutely love my cast-iron skillets. Brilliant stuff!), add some garlic (I used young, freshly picked garlic from underneath the fruit trees. Greenery and all.), spring onions or other onions, your (leftover) cooked vegetables, heat through, season with seasoning of your choice, add chopped greenery of your choice. Stir in. Let wilt a little.

Meanwhile crack some eggs into a bowl. Depending on how hungry you are or how many eggs your chooks have laid lately. I used 5 eggs last night. Season. Add chopped fresh parsley. Mix.
Then add this to the pan on the stove. Distribute evenly. Let cook for a few (5-10?) minutes. Then put under the preheated grill until the egg mixture is set. Sprinkle parmesan over top and put back under grill until it is golden brown.

This is one of these recipes where you can let your imagination run wild. Use whatever takes your fancy or whatever you have on hand.

If there are any leftovers, it is delicious cold the next day. Or re-heated. Serve with a little salad, if you are very hungry.Add chopped bacon or speck when frying your garlic. This gives it a lovely smoky flavour. Throw in chickpeas if you feel like it. As I said, just play with it. Enjoy!