Monday, 31 August 2009

A great bunch of people...

...visited Gnomesville yesterday afternoon!

Gosh, what fun we had! Thanks folks, for coming. You made the afternoon very special.

And now we also know that it takes 4 hours to cycle from town to our place. Just in case you ever wondered. Wonder how long it took Ting & Olly to cycle back home all the way downhill?

After all the introductions and plonking all these enticing plates and bowls of food on the kitchen bench, we decided we should have a quick walk around the garden.The rain was not kind to us, but after a little break we continued our tour.The wind was icy, so it was soon time to go inside to the wood fires and the food.
(Thanks Flower Gnome for taking these 2 pictures. All my pictures are of food. Ooops.)

What a display!
I thought I had managed to try every single dish, but looking at the pictures, I notice I missed Ting's steamed cake and Maggie's salted nuts. Not bad, really, considering.

There were Kel's Honey-Ginger Apple Tarts with Cinnamon-Sugar Walnuts. We also had a chance to sample her raspberry wine and quince champagne. They were amazing.Pip's macaroons and potted pork. Neighbour Gnome's nibblies with smoked salmon, all very prettily decorated. Ting's steamed cake and her own preserved olives. Maggie's carrot & lentil dip, salted nuts and a bowl of garden greens & flowers. It was like nibbling our way through her garden. Katrine's brownies and falafels with yoghurt. Everything was incredibly delicious!
We offered a very deconstructed Beef Wellington. I made my own puff pastry which was a huge disaster. The 'thing' (can't call it puff pastry) was a crumbly mess. The mushrooms (gathered earlier in the season from the forest) and the meat was delicious. But all the bloggers saw, was the thinly sliced meat. Condiments were mustard, pickled figs, zucchini pickles, spicy salsa. Homemade bread.

Oh, how could I forget! The raspberry icecream. That's all that was left over.

Here is Katrine holding on to her flower pot.

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures of more people! But I was too busy enjoying your company. Thanks again for coming and making this a very special gathering.

This is really only a very brief description of the afternoon. There was so much fun, laughter, chatter and general happiness!

We shall try to do something similar some time in October for a spring seedling swap. Or that's the excuse. I'm sure we'll have some food as well. :) I think Kel offered to host the next event. But we are quite happy to open our house again, if need be.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Something rich...

...and decadent for Sunday.

Rasberry Icecream.
This is a recipe from a Donna Hay magazine. She calls it 'crushed raspberry semifreddo'. We changed it a bit to suit our taste.

3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1/2 tsp rum
1 cup caster sugar (or less)
500g frozen raspberries
420ml cream

Take out your egg carton with the dirty eggs. Our chooks have not yet learned to wipe their feet when they enter their nesting boxes. Some good rum (or any other good liqueur) and caster sugar.Rummage through your freezer to get to your bags with the frozen raspberries that you diligently picked throughout summer.
Beat eggs, sugar and rum until thick, frothy and pale yellow.
This is done in a bowl over a saucepan with simmering water.
Bung in crushed raspberries.
Fold gently into egg mixture.Get your favourite thick, double cream (local). Whip slightly.Fold egg/berry mixture gently into cream and divide between two lined loaf tins.
Cover with alu foil (any suggestions how to avoid alu foil?) and freeze.
Make sure the leftovers go into two cups so that you can do some quality control.

Then the bowl-licking will commence.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Lemon Pickle & Honey Wine

The honey wine has been bubbling happily for 25 days and today it seemed to have stopped. As it's still miserable out there and I felt like doing something 'homey', I bottled the honey wine.
After some sampling, of course. Hmm...not sure yet. It's a bit too sweet for our taste. It has a lovely honey taste, slightly effervescent on the tongue, but too sweet. We'll see what it tastes like when it is a bit older.We have another honey wine on the go with the addition of ground coffee and banana. Will report back when it is ready to be sampled.

At the seedsavers' gathering some generous folks brought their surplus citrus crop along. So we came home with some amazing lemons. Maggie mentioned she'd try her hand in lemon pickle which goes well with curry. Aha! I thought, and did a little search. Thanks for the idea, Maggie.

I followed the recipe on this blog.
6 lemons cut up.

Spices added.

Enjoying the view.
It is actually supposed to be sun-cooking. So, I am hoping the sun will shine again soon and start cooking the pickle. It smells delicious and I am eagerly awaiting the time when it is ready to be enjoyed.

Something cheerful...

... to counter the wild weather we are experiencing at the moment. At least the gusty winds brought heaps of rain, too. We had 59mm in the rain gauge this morning. Nice!

This is a pink rosemary hedge in the orchard. It attracts tons of bees and hopefully they will be busy pollinating all flowers on the fruit trees once they are out.The blue rosemary is just outside the garden shed and a lot of it ends up in our kitchen for cooking.
The white rosemary should have a more prominent place, really. It is a bit hidden behind the (small) lemon tree.
All of these attract tons of bees. It's lovely to see them all buzzing around and enjoying the flowers.

Monday, 24 August 2009

This & That

We celebrated Kitchen Gardeners' Day with the Adelaide Hills & Plains Seedsavers yesterday afternoon. What a delightful bunch of people they are! It all took place at the Fern Avenue Community Garden. We loved the whole concept of the garden and all the plots in there. Every household should have access to a plot in a community garden.

We swapped seeds, seedlings, cuttings, citrus fruit, tips, stories and enjoyed all kinds of food. Thanks everyone, it was a lovely afternoon.

Seeing that banana tree, we just have to have one in our backyard! It's worth a try!

We have another afternoon of swapping, eating, yakking and fun lined up. Yes, I am talking about the blogfest at Gnomesville on Sunday, 30 August! Please send me an email (to be found on the right-hand side), if you would like to join in the fun. We shall email you directions to our place.

Let's hope the weather is good enough for a walk around the garden. A word of warning: our garden is a work in progress. (Translation - it is messy.) You will see weeds - plenty of them - and the brushcutting will probably not be done as the weather this week does not look promising.

The fruit trees are about to flower and they should look stunning. You can see the buds on the apricot tree.

Oh, and Flower Gnome has already decided that we should do some tasting of various concoctions that have been brewing in the kitchen. The honey wine should be ready by then, the cider can be sampled (it's still pretty young), lemonadecello from last year is delicious, the honey stout is still young but already lovely. Of course, there will be food, too. :)

Saturday, 22 August 2009

What a miserable day!

It is cold, foggy, windy and showery today. A real winter's day again. So, to cheer ourselves up a little I'll post pictures of daffodils.
I took these pictures a few days ago when spring was a-springing.
There should still be quite a few flowering next weekend.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Brezel day

Brezel fresh out of the oven.Last night's tea: Brezel with a layer of Nuage Blanc, a layer of locally smoked salmon, a few capers. Accompanied by a little garden salad - all leaves and herbs picked from the garden just before tea time.
Life is good!

Ps.: No leftovers.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Cape Gooseberry

Planted in a spot where it is protected from frost, it has survived quite a number of winters now.

The fruit is fascinating - as you can see from previous pictures - and delicious. They never make it inside the house. Scoffed on the spot.

Now it is bearing fruit again and it won't take too long until we can enjoy them on the spot again.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A little walk in the garden

The broccoli is growing nicely. I just hope it won't start bolting as soon as the warmer weather hits.The white flowering rosemary is covered in flowers and looks amazing!The daffodils are out en masse. They are slowly replacing the jonquils.The King Protea is shaping up nicely and should look stunning once the flower opens up.
Flower Gnome's raspberry icecream is always a hit. Local thick cream with our free-range eggs and organic (frozen) raspberries from our berry patch.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Feeding frenzy!

Last weekend we went out for tea - something that doesn't happen very often. But we were too knackered after a day of shovelling 1 ton of dolomite sand, manoeuvring a 5000l rain water tank into position, etc. to do any cooking in the evening.

Anyway, we were enjoying our meal immensely, and all that was left on the plates was a big pile of bones (pork ribs, lamb shanks - a real meat feast!). So, we were saying how much our chooks would enjoy these bones (there was still a smidgen of meat left on them), when the waitress asked how things were, etc. When we told her how lovely the meal was and that we were wondering whether we could have the bones for our chooks, she didn't bat an eyelid and brought out some alu foil to wrap them up. Wow! We did feel bad about the alu foil, and were wondering whether to bring a container for chook scraps with us next time we went out for tea...but that might be another story.

So, next morning the chooks had an absolute feast! They weren't too keen on the lamb shanks, but enjoyed the pork ribs.

Here they are:

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Look, what I found!

All hidden underneath the bird netting and broccoli foliage.It's a Broccoli Romanesco! This is the first time we are growing it and it is looking good! A few more weeks and we should be able to get a good meal out of this. Well, that's the plan.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Let's have a blogger feast!

Why not meet up for an afternoon tea in an informal setting?
Chat, eat, drink, have a tour around the garden (if so desired), share cuttings, seeds, etc. (if so desired).Don't be shy - come to our place!

You, dear reader(s)!

The Mad Gnomes' place in the Adelaide Hills. 40mins from Adelaide CBD. 20 mins from Hahndorf. 20 mins from Stirling. Details with directions will be emailed to interested bloggers.

How about the last weekend in August? Sunday, 30 August 2009.

From 2pm onwards.

What to bring?
A plate you'd like to share for afternoon tea. Sweet or savoury. Your choice.

Wouldn't it be lovely to put a face to all the names you have seen on blogs and comments?! So, don't be shy. Do come! We'd love to meet you.

It will be a relaxed, informal afternoon. See you soon! :)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Spring colours

The jonquils are really powering along now.
There are a few different varieties.
Don't ask me what they are - that's Flower/Berry Gnome's domain.
The Snow Drops are looking pretty, too.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Luise our oldest chook at 6 years (or more) of age.

She's the little grey one. The two others are ex-battery hens and they were 18 months when we got them about 4 years ago.
Luise has been in semi-retirement for the last 2 years. When she gets broody (which happens very regularly), she sits in the nesting box for about 2-3 months. Must be cosy in there. We leave her be, as she seems to need the rest. The other chooks tend to just walk into the same box (we have 8 nesting boxes, but they only like the ones where another chook is already laying or sitting!!) and lay their eggs. So Luise sits on quite a pile of eggs every morning. You should hear here screech when we take them from underneath her. Sometimes you have to lift her up and do a little bum-check, as she sneakily clings on to an egg. Then one day she'll just get up and leave the box. For a few months nothing happens - then, suddenly, she lays an egg!
Spot Luise's little, pointy and very hard-shelled egg. It's perfect for when you want to crumb something.