Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Pickled Cucumbers

Linda's Sweet and Sour Cucumbers.
There is a link to the recipe in the previous post.

The vinegar smelled lovely and tasted nice. It will be hard to wait for a whole month until I can taste some of the cucumbers.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Pickles and Preserves

The madness has begun. The kitchen bench is filling up with produce from the garden (and friends' gardens).

What do you do with a glut? Preserve and pickle!

Here are 5 jars of bottled tomatoes and 12 jars of Zucchini Pickles.I hope there will be lots more tomatoes in jars. They are absolutely fantastic to have in the pantry.

Just to the left you can see a corner of a tea towel. This is covering a bowl of cucumbers for Cosmic's Sweet and Sour Pickled Cucumbers. The recipe can be found here.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

The best cardigan ever!

Mama Gnome has been busy. First she had to spin the wool from our sheep. Then do some serious knitting. Then some felting - to decorate the cardigan.

This is the end result. My cardigan. Bring on Winter - I'm prepared! :)

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Sourdough bread

I have been experimenting with sourdough again. Slowly I am getting more confident. (Confident enough to post the results.)

This time I tried Laucke's German Grain. I have been using it to make 'normal' bread (with yeast) but never sourdough bread.

I took half of my starter from the fridge. Poured it into a bowl and fed it with 1 cup of strong flour and 1/2 cup of water. I weighed it at this stage (for my own reference) - 400g. Let rise.

Add 700g of the German Grain bread flour.

Then it got messy. I always muck up the water quantity. I added approx. 300ml of water. This was too much. So I had to add a bit more flour to make it less runny.

Oh, nearly forgot. I added approx. 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.

Anyway, once you are happy with the consistency, work your dough till it's lovely and smooth. I fold it into a ball* then put back in the bowl to rise for another hour or two.

Take out gently (on to lightly floured work surface), fold into a ball again. Let rise for another hour or two.

Take out gently. Divide into two halves. Fold into balls.
Line proving baskets (straw baskets) with tea towels. Flour generously so that the dough doesn't stick.
Let dough rise at a cooler temperature (17-19 C) overnight.

This is what they look like after a night of rising slowly and gently. (Yes, it's a boy and a girl!) ;)

Heat oven to highest temperature, with the trays inside.

Take out trays (at this stage I line them with baking paper), carefully tip bread dough out of basket on to tray and place into oven. After 5 minutes turn down heat to 220C. Then bake for another 20-25 minutes.

There is still room for improvement, but I am happy with the results.

*This may not make much sense if you haven't read Richard Bertinet's book "Dough", or his latest "Crust". He works his dough differently - instead of kneading he stretches and folds his dough. Then he folds it into a ball. Just take one side of the dough, fold it over, then another side and fold it over. May not be very clear if you have not seen it before - and I am no help as I can't describe it well.
The advantage of this method is that the bread is a lot lighter and fluffier. There is more air in the dough.

This is NOT an alpaca-blog!

...but they are sooo cute, and I have sooo many pictures of them.

So, skip this post, if you are tired of alpacas.

We went to visit our neighbours and their alpacas on the weekend. It is amazing to see how big the babies grow in such a short time!

Addie (in the middle), Flora (the youngest) on the left, and Ezekiel (to the right). Flora is already bigger than Ezekiel.

Cocoa and Shadow.

Ezekiel being curious.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Curry-leaf Tree

(Murraya Koenigii)Another beautiful plant in a pot on the balcony.
Very fragrant leaves that are used a lot in curries.

It flowered a while ago (very prettily indeed!) and you can see the seeds now. I hope to be able to germinate some of the seeds to grow a few more plants. Just because they are really lovely.

Lemon Myrtle

This plant is in a pot on the balcony. It looks absolutely stunning at the moment. Full of flowers. The bees are busy buzzing.

The leaves are very fragrant and have a strong lemon scent and taste. I use them regularly in all kinds of cooking. It's especially handy when the lemon tree is having a little break. (Or if it's a tad cold and wet out there in the middle of winter and the lemon tree seems sooo far away.)

Growing okra

...for its pretty flowers! The edible 'by-product' is just a bonus. :)

Monday, 18 February 2008

Turmeric #2

The turmeric in the pot has started to grow. It will be interesting to see how big it will get, before autumn (frost) hits. It would be lovely to be able to harvest our own fresh turmeric.

Curries! Yum, yum.

Today's harvest

A variety of zucchini (Lebanese, Golden, Costata Romensco, White Aegyptian), tomatoes (Druzba, Black Cherry, Snow White, Broad Ripple Yellow Currant, Moldovan Green, Picket, Kotlas...), Italian Chilli, Doe Hill Capscium, Chilli Astrakhanski 147).

The cucumbers are having a rest at the moment (the cold weather last week slowed them down quite a bit), but I saw a few little ones today. So the production should start again soon. Unless the forecast cold nights at the end of the week put a stop to that.

The weather is a bit extreme at the moment. Last week we had a few nights where the lowest temperature was 6 C!! With a fierce, icy wind. Some frost burn on chillies and cucumbers was the result. Nothing serious, thank goodness.

The last few days we had temperatures at around 35-36 C.

Anyway, here's today's basket:

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Doe Hill a small, orange capsicum. 4-5cm long, bell-shaped.
The plant grows 40-60cm tall and approx. 30cm wide.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Here is Flora!

Arrived this morning at 9am.

She's already posing daintily.

Mother (Xenia) and daughter.

Let's play!


Saturday, 9 February 2008


Fans of the TV show "Food Safari" on SBS will know immediately what I am talking about.
Austrians would call this dish "Gulasch & Nockerl*". *Germans call Nockerl "Spätzle".

The recipe can be found on SBS' Food Safari website.

Guten Appetit!

Friday, 8 February 2008


How much better can it get?!
Tomatoes from the garden, bocconcini, a sprinkling of fresh basil, salt & pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Served with home-made crusty bread.
I couldn't decide which picture to show, so I am posting both.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Tomato Gallery

We have had a little drizzle this morning. So I decided to snap a few pictures of tomatoes with rain drops on them as this doesn't happen very often. The tomatoes will be our lunch today. With freshly baked bread that I have just taken out of the oven.


Striped Turkish Monastery
Earl of Edgecombe
Pearly Pink Cherry



They have been doing extremely well this season. They flower and flower...
The interesting thing is that the plants don't have one single colour but a mixture of red and orange. One even has bright yellow. Lovely!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

It's a boy!

Here is Ezekiel, one day old.

Mother and son.

Auntie Cleopatra checking out the little one.

Cocoa (remember the little one 4 days ago?) and Ezekiel.

Edited on 5 February 2008: After receiving quite a few (very positive) remarks concerning these alpacas I would like to make it clear that they are not our alpacas, they our neighbours'. I hadn't realised that I had not made this clear in the blog posts. Sorry about that. Our neighbours are just very kind people who let us fawn over their alpacas.