Friday, 27 February 2009

Pretty Peachy!

I was a bit stressed at first, when I thought about all those peaches from our neighbour that were sitting in a box on our kitchen counter. I hate wasting anything and I thought I would not have enough time to preserve them. However, where there's a will, there's a way!

One batch fresh out of the preserver:
Then a batch cut up to go into the dehydrator:
Nicely dried.I like them still a touch 'fleshy' and not totally dried. So these will go into the freezer. I may be a bit paranoid about them getting mouldy, but while I have the freezer space, in they go!

One day I'm hoping to get my act together and build a solar oven for drying.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

From garden to plate

Last night's harvest. Some Bianca Oval eggplants, Yellow Button Squash, Blacknite eggplants, Hungarian Wax chillies (mild), Ronde de Nice zucchini and a very bitter cucumber.Pondering what to make with the eggplants, I followed Pip's recipe for a gorgeous garlic & basil dressing/marinade (see previous post's comments for this and Jen's recipe). And then I thought, 'Why not just throw all the veggies in this marinade?' So I did.Just because I could, I threaded some prawns on to skewers with some kaffir lime leaves inbetween. Salt & pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
All the marinaded veggies on the barbie.Close-up.Throw the bbq-ed veggies back into the bowl with the marinade. Now it can serve as dressing.

Verdict? Fantastic! The non-eggplant eating gnome liked the white eggplants because they don't have such an intense eggplant flavour. They are indeed very mild but still tasty. I liked everything. There were, of course, quite a few leftover veg. So tonight we will have a frittata with the barbecued veggies. Can't wait.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Now I know why...

...eggplants are called eggplants.

This is Bianca Oval.
The fruit has the colour and size of eggs.

So, what would you suggest I do with these eggs? I am NOT going to make eggplant parmigiana with them, thank you very much!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Sitting on the roof this morning...

...I was wondering why I had still not sown any seeds for my autumn/winter vegetable garden. The last few weeks I could be heard mumbling, 'Next week I will sow my seeds.' While I collected twigs, sticks and leaves off the roof (again!), scraped the gutters clean (again!!) and replaced the gutter guard, it came to me! Fire-proofing the place as much as possible has taken up a big chunk of our time. That's why. And an hour later we were raking the place (again!) and collecting branches and leaves around the shed and house. It does look good now. We may be totally knackered now, but we are happy. We did what we could.
There is still time to sow some seeds later. Next week. Or the week after. :)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Hello, Isis!

There is a have a peek at Zinnia and her baby, Isis.And all together now, 'Aaaaaaahhhh....'Ps.: These are the neighbour gnomes' alpacas.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Going solar #2

I would like to ask you - who are already on solar power - a few questions, if I may.

How many companies did you contact?

How many of those did actually come to your place to give you a quote?

What determined which company you went with? Price? Salesperson? Quality of information? Etc.?

We have had 2 quotes so far and they are so different where the set-up (type of panels, side of roof where to put them, etc.) is concerned it is mind-boggling. So at the moment we have no clue who to go with. We have another person coming next week. Maybe that'll clear things up a little?

Your experience and suggestions are as always very, very welcome!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

It's crazy!

3 days ago we were sweltering in the heat. 43C!

Last night it cooled down to 9C outside, the wind was fierce and cold, and we wore jumpers and ugg boots plus wrapped ourselves in our beloved sheep wool blanket* as it went down to about 16C inside.

*Mama Gnome spins our sheep's wool and knits wonderfully warm blankets, hats, gloves, socks, etc.

Tonight it is even colder inside and we had to light our wood fire. Crazy! Especially thinking of the 30-33C days forecast from Friday onwards.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


Thanks everyone for your kind words and good wishes.

The change came in the evening with calmer and cool winds.

No major dramas during the day around here. Thank goodness! However, I am very saddened to hear that Victoria did not fare well at all. My heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones. What a tragedy!

This morning we awoke to rain drops (!!!!!) falling on the roof. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful sound! There were not many, but every single one was welcome. They managed to dampen the surface a little bit.

It is much cooler today and what a relief this is! Let's hope Victoria will soon experience a cool and safe change, too!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

It's nasty out there!

It is stinking hot.

Strong wind, with even stronger wind gusts!

Shutters up. Gutters blocked and filled with water. Fire pump ready. Generator inside.

Hoping for the best.

Keep cool, keep safe, be prepared! All the best, folks!

Friday, 6 February 2009


...or plum jam / plum butter. Very popular and widely used in Austrian cooking. It is used as a filling (sweet dumplings, cakes, biscuits, etc.) and you can use it as a spread on your bread, of course. It also adds a lovely flavour if you use a little in your gravy. Or smear some Powidl on to your meat before roasting or grilling. You could also add some to your vegetable stir-fry with your other sauces. Basically, I think it is the bee's knees!

The pictures aren't great as the house is pretty dark again. We have the shutters on the windows and the curtains are all closed due to the stinking hot day. I also didn't feel very artistic when I took the pictures. No blemishes (ratty labels) were hidden.
It is very easy to make, especially if you have a slow cooker, because then you don't have to stir that often.

Use very ripe plums and you will not have to use any sugar at all!

My recipe, roughly:

Take approx. 4 - 5 kg plums (as unblemished as possible, of course) or as many as would fill the slow cooker. Wash, de-stone and cut into chunks. Throw straight into slow cooker.

Add about 1/2 litre water (or red wine). Adjust quantity if you have less or more plums.

Grind your favourite spices and add those. I ground 1 very long, thick cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, a few cloves and also added ground ginger.

Depending on how 'spicy' you like it, add more or less. For 4 to 5 kg you can add 3-4 teaspoons of ground spices. With this quantity you won't have the spices overpowering the Powidl. But you can add more or less spices, of course. All entirely up to your taste.
You could also add rum or whiskey or any alcohol of your choice, if you like.

I did have to add some sugar, as the plums were not totally ripe and a bit tart. So I added roughly 200g of sugar per kilo. You can add more or less. (Don't you like recipes like this!?)

Cover pot with lid and leave on until the fruit is soft. Then take off lid and let bubble on 'low' for hours or overnight, until you have reduced the fruit by nearly a third or so. Stir occasionally. You should end up with a lovely, thick, sticky, brownish-black mixture. Powidl! Fill into clean, sterilised jars. Enjoy!

You could play around with the spices. Chillies would be nice, too, I think. Or black pepper, etc.

Edit: I just remembered - I also added dried lemon & orange peel to the spices in the grinder. Whenever I squeeze a lemon or orange, I dry the peel and store it in an air-tight container. Very handy for all kinds of things.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Going solar!

Finally we managed to make a list of companies that do solar installations.

The list consists of 5 companies (so far) and they were all contacted today. One has already replied and set a date for a quote. Woohoo! I'm getting excited. It has been our dream for quite some time now to go solar.

We have been reading up heaps to make ourselves as knowledgeable as possible. But I am sure when the day comes we will probably still be overwhelmed by all the information.

Now, if anybody has any advice, suggestions, words of wisdom, own experience (good or bad), etc. please do not hesitate to share it with us. We will appreciate any feedback from you all.