Thursday, 27 January 2011


This is the first year that I might have some success growing celeriac. I love this knobbly root vegetable, but haven't eaten it for at least 20 years. I think.
There are two patches of this vegetable and both of them are looking really good. Dare I get mildly excited at the thought of having a celeriac glut? Stay tuned, I shall report back in autumn. :)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta

Yesterday's mozzarella, after it was cut.
Look at the lovely layers. That's how I like my mozzarella!
It's fantastic with fresh tomatoes. We are still not harvesting our own, but a kind gardening friend shared hers with us.

Grill some slices of bread. Brush with the cut side of a clove of garlic, sprinkle some olive oil over it. Top with thick slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Garnish with basil.

A perfect lunch!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

30-Minute Mozzarella

One of the quickest and easiest cheeses to make.
I use the recipe from this website.


• 1 1⁄2 Level teaspoons Citric Acid dissolved in 1⁄2 cup cool water

• 4 litres of Full Cream Milk

• 1⁄4 teaspoon Lipase Powder dissolved in 1⁄4 cup cool water

• 1⁄4 teaspoon Rennet dissolved in 1⁄4 cup cooled boiled water

• 1 teaspoon Salt


Heat the milk to 12°C and, while stirring, add the Citric Acid solution, then add the Lipase solution and mix thoroughly. Heat the milk mixture to 32°C over medium to low heat.

Gently stir in the diluted Rennet with an up and down motion. Then heat to 38-41°C. When the curds are pulling away from the pot they are ready to scoop out (3 to 5 minutes).

The curds will look like thick yoghurt and have a bit of a shine to them, and the whey will be clear. If whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes before scooping.

Scoop out the curds with a slotted spoon into a microwaveable bowl.

Press the curds gently with your hands, pouring off as much of the whey as possible. (I haven't found the most efficient way yet, to pour off the whey. This step still takes me about 7-10 minutes, until all the whey has been drained.)

This is the bowl after scooping the curds from the pot into it, and before draining the whey.

This is the bowl, after draining off all the whey.

Microwave the curds on HIGH for 1 minute. Drain off the excess whey, then gently fold the cheese over and over with your hands or a spoon. (This is a crucial step. Be gentle. Fold it over. And over. If you knead it, or are not gentle with the curds, the texture will be very dense. With gentle folding you will have these lovely soft layers in your end product.) This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (60-65°C).

Microwave twice more for 35 seconds each time, adding salt to taste after the second time. After each heating, gently fold over and over again to distribute the heat.

Fold quickly until it is smooth and elastic. When the cheese stretches like taffy, it is ready.

If the curds break instead, they are too cool and need reheating.

When the cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into small balls and eat while warm. (I don't bother rolling it into small balls.) Alternatively, place the cheese balls in a bowl of ice water for half an hour to rapidly cool the inside, then cover and store in the fridge.

This is the mozzarella after having been chilled in ice water in the fridge. Water drained off, and ready to be eaten. It does keep well in the fridge for several days.
(The yield is about 750g - 800g with milk from our favourite Jersey cow, Chocolate. Milk from other breeds can yield a cheese of between 400-500g.)

Friday, 21 January 2011

Egyptian Walking Onion

Also known as Tree Onions, Perennial Onions, etc.This is a groovy kind of plant to have in the garden. I received bulblets from a gardening friend in Tassie.

Plant the bulblets about 1-2cm deep in the soil. Water, watch. They grow like 'normal' onions at first. Then they develop bulblets at the end of their stalks.
When this set of bulbets gets heavier, they will bend over, then take root in the soil. Hence the 'walking onion'. This way you will have little onions all over the garden (if you let them) and forever.
If that's not groovy, what is?!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Hydrangeas again

We pruned our hydrangeas extremely late last year. Despite that fact, we still have quite a lot of flower heads. Usually, however, you see a sea of blue. (Our soil is rather acidic, hence the blue colour.)
There is one bush at the corner that shows a mixture of colours. From pink to light blue.And these are at the other end of the line.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


They are looking stunning again this year!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Ho Ho Hollyhocks

Yes, that time of the year again. Hollyhocks!

As most of you already know - these are one of my favourite flowers!

Double salmon coloured.
Single white-pink.Black flower bud.Black flowers.One more.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Berry Breakfast

The berry patch has been very good to us this year. It got off to a slow start due to the cool weather but once it got going in the middle of December it was pick pick eat eat...freeze freeze freeze. We are still picking at least a punnet of mixed berries every day and the autumn raspberries are starting to flower. Below is a selection of berries that we had for breakfast a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time that we had been able to pick some of each variety. Some varieties were just finishing, some just starting and some in full swing.

There are raspberries, yellow raspberries, silvan berries, tay berries, young berries, boysenberries, logan berries and strawberries.
All absolutely yum!

Thanks to all our friends that came to give us a break from picking during the height of the season. Hope you enjoyed your pickings.

Today's view

The last two days were foggy and damp. Weird weather for summer. And it only got up to 19C yesterday. I am not complaining, as I don't like extremes - such as heat waves or flooding. My heart goes out to all the people who are affected by the floods in the north, and the bushfires in WA.

Monday, 10 January 2011

When friends...

...give you tomatoes AND beans, and you have your own lettuce and potatoes from your garden - you have to make Salade Nicoise.
Mop up the leftover juices/dressing with some good sour dough bread. Can it get any better than that? :)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

When friends...

...give you tomatoes.
You appreciate them immensely (the friends and tomatoes. Of course). And try to do the best you can with them (the tomatoes). Apart from scoffing them.

Thickly sliced, some torn off (home-made) mozzarella, basil, salt & pepper, good olive oil. It can't get better than that.And I haven't even mentioned all the other goodies. Yet. :)

Friday, 7 January 2011

Visitors to the garden

Most of the times I leave vegetable plants in their beds, long after they have finished producing vegetables. Mainly because they flower profusely, look pretty, attract lots of insect life, and then give us tons of seeds for the next season.
The leeks are flowering at the moment. They are amazing plants, from the time the flower buds develop, then shed their little 'hats', until finally they develop their flowers.
Yesterday evening there were at least 20 butterflies circling above the leek bed.Settling here and there.
Opening and closing their wings.
Busy feeding on the flowers.
And generally just looking incredibly pretty.
Sometimes there were as many as 3 butterflies on one flower.
You can't beat entertainment like that! :)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Picking and preserving organic cherries

There is an organic cherry orchard just down the road. The season started late due to the cold and rainy spring/start to summer. So there are still cherries to be picked for the next 2 weeks. The place is on the Cherry Trail and called Old Coralinga. Do give them a go, they are organic and it's great fun to pick your own.

We love preserved cherries in winter. So this was a great opportunity to get some preserving done.

Wash cherries.
Wash preserving jars, lids, rings.Pip cherries. You can preserve them unpipped, of course. Put cherries in jars, top up with water, add sugar. (1 tbsp for No. 20 jars, or 1/2 tbsp of honey.) Or you can add sugar syrup.
Put in preserver, process according to your preserver's instructions.

Gloat.I've got 22 jars lined up in the pantry. Feels good. :)

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Red currant jelly

This must be one of the easiest things to make!

The basic recipe from Stephanie Alexander:

500g red currants
2 1/4 cups sugar (I used 1 3/4 cups and will reduce it even further next time)

Bung washed red currants (stalks and all) and sugar into a pot. Bring to a hard boil. Then boil for 8 minutes. Strain through sieve. Pour into clean, sterilised jars.

It is as easy as that. Mind you, my first batch didn't set and I have no idea what went wrong. Made another batch and it set beautifully.

Anyway, here is my batch. I added dried orange peel, black pepper corns, dried chilli and cinnamon sticks to the berries and sugar.
Bring to a boil, then boil for 8 minutes.
Strain through sieve.Pour into clean, sterilised jars. There was a smidgen left and that ended up in a cup.
Set beautifully, as you can see.I am already looking forward to pork spareribs, etc. as this is great for marinating anything porky.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Elephant garlic?

I harvested some 'fat garlic' last year. They were single fat bulbs. I suspected they were the result of some elephant garlic that I had planted the previous year. (I always have labels in my veggie beds, but birds sometimes pull them up and they get lost. Hence this query.)

Last autumn I planted these 'fat garlic' bulbs and look what the result is.
Good sized bulbs, with several fat cloves. Plus bulbils surrounding the bulb. I read up on elephant garlic, and this fits the bill. In autumn I shall plant those little bulbs, and probably some of the fat cloves, too.

But if anyone could confirm that this really is elephant garlic, I'd be very thankful. :)

Edited on 4 January: confirmation has come in - it is indeed elephant garlic. Thank you!