Showing posts from February, 2011

More Dissapointments

This lifestyle can be tough at times. I've just discovered that our turkey who has been sitting outside the houseyard on her eggs for a  month has been taken by a fox just as the eggs hatched. In hindsight we should have moved her into a safe spot to hatch her eggs but we thought that as she had survived over two weeks she would be alright. I think that fox must have been waiting for the eggs to hatch. Makes me sad. I was so confident we would get about ten little turkeys that I have probably sold too many now. Hopefully the others will go broody soon and we will set them safely this time.
To cheer myself up I took some photos of things that are doing OK. I have finally got some turmeric to grow.

I planted this months ago so hopefully it will form some bulbs before the frost starts and I think I will mulch it really heavily so it comes up again in the spring. The biggest risk is Elle, the puppy, she dug up some of my ginger the other day.
These little rock melons have been deliciou…

So Dissapointed

I have been watching the pears grew and ripen for months. Had visions of bottled pears, poached pears, pear chutney, making Perry and Pear wine. It has all come to nothing and i am so disappointed. Last year I thought I had worked out how to keep the apples and pears free of the dreaded coddling moth.  

Last Years harvest 
I have had my traps out for ages and they seemed to be catching lots of moths however as the first of the pears ripened it was clear there was a problem, they were rotten and brown on the inside despite looking almost perfect on the outside. I clung to my hopes for a while but this morning it was evident that even the Beurre Boscs had coddling moth. I have stripped both trees and fed them to the poultry.

Such a shame. When I read last years entry two things stand out, firstly the harvest was about six weeks later, so i wonder what impact that has had plus the very humid weather. The other is that I put the exclusion bags on last year and I am so annoyed with myself …

Peppermint Slice Recipe

Don't  you love it when you find a new recipe that is simple and delicious!
Zoe brought some of this home at Christmas, one of her colleagues had given it to her. We all really liked it. I asked for the recipe thinking it would be quite complex. Its not at all. I made it for the first time on Saturday to take to a friends place for dinner. It was a big hit. Fortunately I hid some away in the crisper of the fridge so we can have some for our guests tonight. Peter ate all the bits that he could find while I was away.
I used 70% dark chocolate with mint from Aldi and used about 180 grams for the base and half milk chocolate with the dark mint for the topping. I didn't have any peppermint essence and it still taste minty enough to my mind.
Chocolate Peppermint Slice


Look what happened while I was away for two days!

These rond de  nice zucchini grew into monsters. The  small one is the size I like to pick them at. I thought i had picked everything before I went away but obviously missed these ones.
There are lots of trombocino's as well but fortunately they have not reached monster size yet
and only one largish black jack zucchini.
so I guess the zucchini bread will be on the menu again as well as a zucchini filling for some Cannelloni I plan to make when we have houseguests tomorrow.
There were a couple of cucumbers that had escaped as well which annoyed me as I thought I had picked all the small ones to make my dill pickles the other day. by the way the Dill pickles  are very good and I will be hunting for small cucumbers to make some more. 
I was also pleased with these pickles from the Not Quite Nigella blog. They are like having a jar of lovely  Asian salad in the fridge ready for use at all times.There  is always such a lot to do when I ha…

Salmon and Zucchini Patties

Living a long way from the ocean we don't have access to a fresh seafood market. There is a fishman comes to Parkes on Thursdays. When Peter was working in Parkes we would buy from him sometimes. It was nice and fresh but quite expensive. As Peter no longer goes to Parkes for work we don't bother.
In the absence of fresh fish I have been using canned red salmon. Throughout the summer I have been making nice Thai style fish cakes. Yesterday I felt like a bit of a change. Partly because I wanted to use up some of the zucchinis. In the absence of a recipe I made these up.
Salmon and Zucchini Patties
About 2 cups of coarsely grated zucchini, if you are using bought ones you should probably drain them or squeeze them a bit, I find the fresh ones are nowhere near as watery
1/2 red onion finely chopped
400 g red salmon
1 cup course sourdough breadcrumbs, if we have any stale bread i make it into breadcrumbs and freeze them so I  usually have a good supply
2 eggs
combine all together using a…

Plum Jam

Plum Jam has never been my favourite. Growing up Plum Jam was the jam most on offer in our house. It came in a can and was smooth, sweet and somewhat tasteless.My thoughts of Plum Jam are coloured by this memory. Nevertheless I could not let the last of the blood Plums go to waste and there is no more room for bottled or frozen plums. Plum Jam it would have to be. We have a fundraiser coming up so I can sell some there in anycase.
I used my usual stone fruit jam method of equal parts of sugar and fruit with no added liquid. Cooked the quartered plums in their own juice for about twenty minutes until they were a bit soft and then added the warmed sugar. I had 3 kilos of plums, so 3 kilos of sugar. This produced a lot of liquid and quite a bit of foamy, scum on the top which I skimmed off. I used my thermometer and cooked it until it reached 104 degrees centigrade. This takes the jam right to the edge of being burnt and has produced a magnificent flavour. I thought I had overdone it for…

An unplanned day in the kitchen

It is still such a pleasant surprise to me to wake up to grey cloudy skies and a real rainy day. In the first four years we were here we did not have one rainy day. The thing is though that I don't factor rainy days into my thinking anymore. The idea of putting off things to do on a rainy day had become obsolete. So today I had planned to spend the afternoon in the garden, after I finished off some work. As I had a big day at work yesterday and was away from dawn to dark there would be many things that needed picking, pruning, weeding or otherwise attending to. However it is cool and very damp so a gardening day is not to be although I will need to venture out and pick the tomatoes and Zucchinis as they are in full swing and  really need to be picked every day.
Last year my neighbour brought over a magnificent tomato that one of his mates had grown. It was huge and delicious. I saved the seeds and grew some. It has grown true to type and is producing amazing tomatoes.

I think it m…

Sharing the fruits of our labour

I have had a run of entertaining over the last few days. A friend came over for lunch on Friday and then we had houseguests for the weekend. I've always enjoyed cooking for friends and family but the enjoyment is significantly magnified when I am cooking and serving almost all of our own produce.
Friday lunch was a zucchini quiche, made with the little rond de Nice zucchinis that I sliced and fried with their flowers attached before adding them to the quiche, of course I used our own fresh eggs.
The finished product, pretty and delicious, served with a potato salad, homemade mayonnaise and tomatoes.
Saturday morning we went to the Orange Farmers Market and derived considerable pleasure from the things we no longer need to buy, fruit, preserves, bread and vegetables. It was interesting to see that there are now two stalls selling organic garlic, maybe I will have to think about if  growing this on a large scale is still a good idea, perhaps I was too slow! We really only needed to b…

On my mind

Puppy proofing my garden so the adorable Elle does not do too much damage!
This is the result of my leaving a pot plant at ground level on the back porch.
She is having a rest after her gardening!

Perfect Potatoes

We haven't bought potatoes for months. Partly because there are so many other things that need to be eaten and partly because there are a lot in the garden. I have planted potatoes each year we have been here and they have never done particularly well but well enough to persist and the taste is fantastic. The thing that happens is that they spread over the garden and keep on coming up, so as well as those I have purposely planted there are loads of volunteers.
Last year I decided to be a bit more organised and planted out about forty potatoes of different varieties, in rows in a new area of garden. I fastened the bags they came in to sticks so I would know what was what. Well of course the bags blew away! shortly after the plants had emerged we went into our early, hot, dry summer and they all disappeared. I dug over that patch in the winter and did not see any signs of potatoes at all. I have planted pumpkins there now and they are doing beautifully but in among them are loads of…

Passionfruit Curd

Yesterday it felt like I spent the whole day dealing with the produce from the garden. I made some Passata from the tomatoes, to go with the Trombocinos in a lasagna for dinner. Then I discovered some corn that was really past its best so decided to make some Corn Relish. Once removed from the cobs there was about a kilo of kernels and the chooks also got a nice lot of corn for their dinner.
The corn relish tastes good but may be a little bit chewy. I will leave it for a bit to see what happens.

There are loads of passionfruits at the moment on the new and old vines. I have frozen some, given some away and we are eating lots. I decided to make a batch of passionfruit curd which used up a lot and eight eggs as well.

Passionfruit Curd
One cup of passionfruit pulp
1/2 cup caster sugar
250 g butter
8 eggs

Place a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. You don't want the bowl to touch the water. Dissolve sugar and melt butter into the passionfruit pulp.
Lightly beat the eggs and st…

Using the Zucchini harvest

Five days away from home last week so of course I returned to an oversupply of Zucchinis. Not really an oversupply, more a test of my imagination and cooking skills. There was only one Black Jack that had really got away so I picked it and shared it between the turkeys and the worms. One of the great things about keeping poultry is that nothing ever goes to waste, just gets converted into meat or eggs.
That being disposed on I still had about five kilos of various types of zucchini to use.
First up a Zucchini bread. On the weekend I had a very poor example of pear and raspberry bread, in a tourist trap cafe at circular Quay, I really cant think what possessed us to go there. I also had a very nice example of the same at Palate Pleasure in Bowral. I thought I could make a similar loaf using Zucchinis. It turned out very nicely.

Zucchini Bread
3 cups grated zucchini
2 cups raw sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of nuts, I used macada…

Introducing Elle

We picked up our new puppy yesterday. She is just beautiful. A black and white border collie with medium length hair, she has lovely markings, white stripe on her face, a white collar and a white patch on her rump. After much deliberation her name is Elle Macpherson,  because she is beautiful, and because Border Collies have a Scottish heritage as does our family the Macphersons. 

Elle travelled well in the car and had a good first night. She has claimed a mat next to Angus's bed as her  bed.

Other than taking one of my shoes for a walk she has been pretty good. I don't think Angus knows what she is or what to do with her. They are starting to make friends I think.
The idea is that they will be company for each other so I hope she doesn't stress him out too much. It will be interesting to train her, she is very smart and will already sit when told to.

Five days away has made a huge difference in the garden. It has weathered the heat wave and we had some rain, 18 mls last Th…

Off to the "Big Smoke"

I'm heading off to Sydney shortly, a day of work, a day of maintenance (dentist and eyes) and a day of catching up with family and friends. On the way home we will collect our new puppy!
I will be taking eggs, Jam and pickles I have made

and some honey from our neighbours. I cant take anything too perishable this time as it is so hot and I have a days work to do first.
I will stokc up on some of the ingredients I find hard to get here, Asian ingredients, beans and pulses. We are leaving the incubator full of eggs of indeterminate age so hope nothing goes amiss with them while we are away.

It's going to be a stinker!

A stinking hot day that is, it was 29 degrees when we got up at six this morning. Yesterday went over forty so I guess we will be up around 42 or so today. There is also a hot  North Westerly wind blowing.
It is so hot the fruit is cooking on the trees.....

I have done what I can to protect the garden, watered well and mulched. I have some old cotton sheets that I have spread over vulnerable areas of the garden to provide some extra shade.

Thank goodness we do have much more shade in the garden than we used to and we have water. 

Plants are amazingly resilient though, yesterday I thought this silver beet was well and truly finished but today it looks good enough to eat .

The first of the sunflowers are flowering, what a pretty sight.
The grapes are almost ripe, they are ripening one by one so you have to pick individual grapes not bunches. They are full of flavour. If Jemima was here she would think they were lollies. Some of them are very small.

The good news on the weather front for us…