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Showing posts from June, 2011

Cooking up a storm

I am cooking for fifty people at a function on saturday night, no time to  blog but will post some pictures and recipes as I go.

Growing ginger

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In my quest to grow all my own herbs and spices http://balmoralparkgarden.blogspot.com/2010/12/inventory-of-herbs-and-spices.html  
I decided to try and grow our ginger. I think i was prompted to do this after paying almost $30 a kilo for some rather ordinary ginger one day.

My plants came up alright and seemed to be growing quite well. Naughty Elle dug up some of the plants in the garden but I had some growing in a pot. All of sudden it has dried right off so I thought I should harvest it.
I was a bit disappointed only about 300 grams, but it does look lovely.
I have already put a few pieces in pots under the cold frame so hopefully I will get a head start for next year and Elle will have stopped digging. The Turmeric was even more disappointing, nothing to harvest, but I have also planted some of that in pots for next summer as well. My cold frame is chock full of things I am trying to start, maybe I will need a bigger one.

My morning Coffee ritual

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I cant remember when I stopped drinking instant coffee, many years ago though. I found in my workplace that people were constantly making instant coffee and by the end of the day I felt horrible after drinking it. At that point i changed over to drinking herbal tea at work to be sociable. Probably at about the same time I discovered that I enjoyed milky coffee, Latte or a good Cappuccino. Going for coffee became an occasional treat and then later a weekly trip to Coffee Culture in Bowral became a Saturday fixture. I think my friend Rossana introduced me to the stove top  pot, they have a coffee first thing every morning. Initially i used to make stove top coffee on the weekend. Somewhere along the way I got a milk frother, this lifted the quality of the coffee and made it just like cafe coffee. I don't know why but for me the froth really improved the taste.
When Zoe was at uni and living at home I was spending some time at home setting up my business. She got in the habit of aski…

Cooking with Love

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I've noticed on Masterchef and other cooking shows there are a lot of references to cooking with love. There are however, no attempts to describe what is meant by this concept. Now I think i know what they mean but it is a concept to be treated with caution. I think you do need to have a passion for good food, that starts with the ingredients that you use, the best that you can get, that doesn't always mean the most expensive, but often does mean the freshest, ingredients in season, and local ingredients. A lot of love and care can turn the most humble ingredients into a feast. Love cant make up for knowledge though and I think all cooks need to develop a healthy respect for the basics. What goes with what, how certain ingredients behave under certain conditions etc. Popular cooking is full of jargon, Peter, who believes in the erroneous concept of more is more and steadfastly refuses to use any basic cooking cooking principles, can be heard to mutter about caramelisation, he …

Enjoying the Seasons

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One of the reasons we chose to live here is that there are four very distinct seasons. Beautiful Spring, stunning autumn, blazing hot summer and generally a cold, but bright and vibrant winter. This winter has been a bit different, certainly it is cold, but is has been bleak. No cold frosty mornings followed by crisp, sunny days. It has been overcast and drizzly most days. I was sort of complaining to myself about it this morning and thought about embracing it.
I am fortunate in that despite living in quite a draughty old house, I have two lovely fires that keep the place warm. Since moving here I have also come to love my hot water bottles and , hitherto despised, flannelette sheets.
The idea of a day without taking miss Elle for a walk is unthinkable so this morning I rugged up and off we went up the hill. It was a drizzly, misty morning. I feel very lucky that I have a long Drizabone to wear. When I was younger I worked on a farm with disadvantaged Young people. We worked outside i…

Oh Elle!!!

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I'm trying to build a garden and raise a puppy, a Border Collie puppy at that, known for their energy and curiosity as well as their intelligence and loyaltyt. Cant say I don't enjoy a challenge. I have invested a lot of time in training the lovely Elle and is most ways she has been very quick and responsive. She is also, I hate to say it, very naughty! She has already had two brushes with death caused by her curiosity,  http://balmoralparkgarden.blogspot.com/2011/04/cautionary-tale.html   
the rat poison episode and then the undoing of her stitches. No doubt she is a precious girl and I love her to bits but she is very naughty! When Zoe was here she decided Zoe was another puppy and persistently jumped all over her, a habit I had thought she had got out of and then yesterday she was back to her old gardening habits. My back was sore so we didn't go for our usual long walk. Every time I looked outside Elle appeared to be asleep. Well no wonder she must have been very tired…

A Bumper Citrus Harvest

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We have six old citrus trees here, two mandarins, two oranges, two lemons. They have fruited quite well most years since we have been here but this year they have the most extraordinary crop. They are loaded.

We probably should have thinned them out but left it a bit too late. We have been eating the mandarins for a few weeks now, they are a bit tart but nice nevertheless. they are getting sweeter every day. We will have to give lots away and find some good mandarin recipes. I might have a go at preserving some segments as well.
The oranges are not quite as prolific but will still keep us going for many months. The great thing about the winter fruit is that you can leave it on the tree and just pick it as you need it.





We have planted some new citrus trees as well. they are very slow to grow but the ruby grapefruit tree has a decent crop this year. I really like grapefruit for breakfast.


I will have to look after the other small citrus a bit more this winter and hopefully they will grow…

Friends and Memories in the Garden

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At the moment every time I look out the kitchen window I am reminded of my mother. This cactus that is blooming came from her garden. Mum has been dead for many years now so it is lovely to look at the plants that came from her garden and that have moved with us over time.


There are a couple of Jade plants as well, when the girls were little they used to pull the leaves off these bushes at Mum and Dad's and use them for money in their "shop" , a double memory. the girls playing and my parents garden.

Many of the plants in the garden have come from family and friends. My friend Rossana gave me my orchids. they started off as three pots and  now there are a dozen. I am pleased to say they are actually going to flower this year. I was thinking of giving them away as they haven't done so well here and I though perhaps the climate was too harsh. Now they have a reprieve and I think i have found the right spot for them.

Just after we built out house at Balmoral Village we v…

Zoe's Guest Post

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I love coming to visit Mum and Dad on the farm. It is always exciting to get here and see what is new on the farm and how everything is going. Today on the farm the sun is out so all the animals are making the most of the warm sunshine.
The chooks are happy nesting in the dirt and soaking up the sunshine.

Elle is happy playing with her rope.
I am happy sitting in front of the warm fire, and thinking about coffee and morning tea that has been freshly made by my wonderful mum. Yummo!
How lucky am i :)


Collies and Kelpies

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We spent most of the weekend catering at the Utility dog Trials in Eugowra. Despite the fact that we had the National Champion participating there was only a small crowd so we had lots of time to watch the dogs.
This is a very demanding and exacting sport. The dogs have to bring three sheep across the paddock to their handler in a very narrow area. They then have to get the three sheep into the yards, where they are mixed up with another seven sheep. The sheep are then sent up a narrow race and drafted. Three sheep are let back out in the paddock and have to be put through a series of gates that are just setup in the paddock and then into a pen. all this in fifteen minutes and points can be lost for many things, not staying in the boundaries, going the wrong way, not completing on time etc. I really enjoyed watching these clever dogs. Most of them are Kelpies, the iconic Australian dog, there was just one border collie competing. The dog that won was twelve years old. In the finals he…

On my mind

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My morning walk, the best part of the day. Walking up the hill with the dogs in all sorts of weather.
Today there was a heavy fog, beautiful.
Only Elle came with me, I think Angus thought it was too cold or maybe he was confused because Peter was still at home when we went.

Jerusalem Artichoke soup

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I planted a couple of Jerusalem Artichoke tubers about three years ago. They are a nice plant to have in the garden as they take care of themselves, grow quite tall and shade other plants in our hot summer and have a nice, bright yellow flower, similar to a sunflower. The harvest the first year was a bit meagre and barely worth preparing. Last year there was so little water I pulled them all out. This year they grew nicely but I must admit I have been looking at them and thinking "are they really worth the effort?"  Jerusalem artichoke soup was on the menu when we visited "The Lakehouse" at Daylesford, so I have been thinking if its good enough for a two hat restaurant maybe I should bother.
I dug a few up a week or two ago and roasted them whole. They were very nice and nutty.
Yesterday was real soup weather, cold and bleak, I thought I would have a go at the Jerusalem Artichoke Soup.
I was pleasantly surprised when I went to dig them up to find some nice sized tu…

RIP Dinkum, a fine gentleman

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Dinkum came to our farm December 2009. My sister was coming for Christmas with her family and asked if we thought we could borrow a horse to lead the children around on. I wasn't very hopeful as I didn't know many people here at that point but I asked the only horsey person I knew and lo and behold a couple of days later was told that Bill Howell had a couple of old horses that he thought had a bit more use in them. I called Bill and went to look at the old horses, Dinkum and Buck, beautiful old boys. At that time we were in the grip of the drought and our place one of the few around that still had some feed so it was a win win situation. They arrived just  before Christmas.
Dinkum  was about 14.2 hands high, a  beautiful old Palomino gentleman. Easy to catch and handle and very gentle with children until he thought he had done enough work and then he would make his feelings quite plain. Up until about February this year if you saw him galloping around the paddock you would ha…

From the sublime to the disgusting!

Yesterday I was happy to post about my lovely lotions and potions, beautiful. Today however what I am thinking about and feeling happy about is my new method of catching mice.
The mouse plague is still with us and I am so tired of these horrible creatures. The wire cage traps are working quite well but really don't make a dent in the mouse population. Once caught you then have to drown the mice and empty the cage, yuk! It is starting to turn my stomach.
I have heard of this bucket and bottle trap idea before but it sounded improbable and I couldn't quite visualise how it would work. There was an article about it in the paper on Saturday and I thought i would give it a go. I did a bit of research on the Internet so I had a clear picture in my mind and then constructed my trap.
You need one large  plastic bucket, ten or twenty litres I think. The sort of bucket you have around because things come in them. You then need a wine bottle, an old sock and some peanut butter.
Fill the …

Lotions and Potions

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I started to make my own face cream a few months ago. I  no longer want to pay the amount that a  nice face cream costs and I found the cheaper ones to be quite horrible. I happened upon a recipe that made me realise that face cream is mostly water! I gave that cream a try and it was quite nice, Just a quarter of a cup of oil, emulsifying wax and water. This time I thought I could improve on this so heated together 1/4 cup of apricot kernel oil, Almond oil, Avocado Oil, that is a total of 1/4 cup so just a little bit of each, heat that with 13 gram of emulsifying wax, warm a cup of water. When water and oil reach  45 degrees, mix them together, add a tsp of vitamin e oil and a few drops of Lavender oil. Stir occasionally  until cool and then poor into a container.
I am really pleased with the result, lovely to use and it looks pretty as well. The thing is there is no going back from this as I now don't want to use anything else.



I have been having trouble with my hands as they wer…

Fabulous Flour

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Yesterday I made an increasingly rare foray into the field of paid work and training, and went to Dubbo to run one of my Strengths Approach workshops. It was quite good fun now that I only do it occasionally but the real payoff was that in Dubbo I have found a Flour Mill, that mills local grain and has a retail outlet. Very exciting. I have learnt a lot about all things bread from the wonderful http://figjamandlimecordial.com . A while back I found the shop Celia recommended, Harkola Wholefood , www.harkola.com.au    and purchased a bag of Manildra Bakers flour among other things. I was really happy with this flour but even though we live near Manildra have been unable to buy any up here and as I am not going to Sydney very often thought I would be going back to supermarket flour. Which would be a shame as the quality of my bread has improved noticeably with the new flour. I think it is because the flour is just so fresh, it feels silky smooth.
Anyway after work yesterday I went to B…