Weekend Round Up

What a cracker of a day it was yesterday! Promises of things to come in spring, blue sky, lightest of breezes, warm sun and no deadlines that had to be met. Pure and simply, a beautiful day that makes you feel warm and motivated.

I spent the day ‘pottering’ around doing all sorts of jobs. At this time of year, I start to list things that need to be done and I get a bit panicky that the sky might fall in if I don’t get to them. Hasn’t happened yet, but I do usually manage to get the jobs done so I don’t want to tempt fate! Some jobs on the list were, spray the fruit trees with copper and lime (bordeaux), feed fruit trees and roses, make sure tomatoes are started, top up veggie beds with compost and manure, clean out the chook house, plan spring and summer plantings, plan where I’m going to put things that won’t fit in the veggie garden and prepare the soil to give them the best shot. I need to make up some potato beds and find space for more tomatoes. I’m a bit disillusioned with spuds (potatoes) after the trouble I’ve had the last two seasons with them being eaten by earwigs and all sorts of other critters. I’m hoping that as the garden gets more and more established and natural ecosystems kick in this will be less of a problem…. I’ll persevere to test this theory.

I’ve just about got all the tomato seedlings potted up. I am in need of more coffee cups/milk containers to finish off the last few remaining ones. 14 Varieties totalling 354 seedlings, gee I hope my stall is a success!IMG_5177I planted some cape gooseberries I bought. Never had anything to do with these so It will be interesting to see what the outcome is. IMG_5186 I’ve been putting off getting this apple espalier  started until the fence around the veggie patch is complete but it really needed to go in and have the branches commence their training. The branch on the left is quite rigid so I’m hoping to slowly coax it down to close to a right angle. Depending on how successful this is (or isn’t) I may have to break the branch and re-graft it to the angle I want. Fingers crossed. This apple along with all the fruit trees, raspberries and roses got a spray of bordeaux mixture. It is possibly still a little early for best effect so I will most likely do another spray before blossom opens. This spray is a fungicide that helps prevent leaf curl which along with being ugly, debilitates the plant somewhat. Mix 50g copper oxychloride that has been mixed in 2.5 litres of water with 60g of hydrated lime which has also been mixed in 2.5 litres water. Combine both solutions together and using a pressure spray pack, spray all parts of the tree/plant. Make sure all safety precautions such as gloves, glasses etc are observed.IMG_5185 The garlic had its net removed for an extra dose of sun and some compost was added to the bed. Looking good at this stage.IMG_5181 Gave the whole veggie area a bit of a tidy up. Looking pretty good I must say. I also planted some carrot, snow peas and lettuce seed. Frosts should have finished by the time the snow peas flower avoiding damage to them. The garlic I planted in the asparagus bed is also going well.IMG_5231  I collected this pink grapefruit off the ground many weeks ago waiting for it to ripen to have a look inside. Yep, its crap!IMG_5224 Thick pith, no colour but the taste wasn’t too bad. I think the ones still on the tree should be a lot better. Will pick and compare shortly.IMG_5227Silver beet and parsley that I have planted at the end of wicking beds to utilise some extra space got a top up of compost and were fed.IMG_5234 Patiently awaiting the broad beans to grow. Such a pretty flower.IMG_5237 What’s that? Wasabi!IMG_5228I was fortunate enough to source a wasabi plant and have planted it in a damp, dark part of the garden. Trying some various techniques to keep snails and slugs away from it. Bit of a long shot but like the concept.

Sunday breakfasts are becoming a favourite part of the week. Today we had freshly squeezed orange juice from our oranges, toast from my sourdough, poached eggs from our chickens, mushrooms and a lovely pot of tea. All this sitting near the lounge bay window looking out at the magnolia that is just out in flower. Nice way to start the day!

IMG_5214As I am writing this post, I hear the rain bucketing down and think that all the bordeaux spray will probably be washed off everything I sprayed and will need to be redone. Oh well, that’s a gardeners lot!

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Posted in Asparagus, Compost, Fruit, Garlic, In The Garden, Potatoes (Spuds), Tomatoes, Wicking Beds | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oo, oo, oo, oooh!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I didn’t think the Brussel Sprouts were going to amount to anything, but on closer inspection tonight (glass of wine in hand) I noticed these little nubs that look about the size of a pea forming on the stalk. Not having grown B/Sprouts before, I am not really sure, but I reckon they may be baby sprouts. This made me very excited, I love surprises and especially love ones that come on things I have grown from seed. What’s your verdict? Baby Sprouts or not??? Photo was taken with my phone which I discovered had gunk over the lens so its a bit fuzzy.

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The next lovely surprise I got was while cutting some broccoli florets, I thought I’d pull a parsnip seedling to see how/if they were progressing. I love parsnip and haven’t had a lot of success over the years, but these look like they are going to be sensational. Straight, clean, not knobbly and taste like parsnip. Happy, happy happy!

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Ooo, look at this daffodil!

When my sister moved she collected a load of bulbs of various varieties and I was lucky enough to score some.  Wasn’t sure what they were, just stuck them in randomly throughout the garden. This beautiful daffodil greeted us tonight and I must say it made my day! I did clean my phone camera lens after this too! Spring is definitely starting to shine through.20140819_164859

Posted in Broccoli, Bulbs | 3 Comments

Just a little trim!

Lucky for us, these guys are nuts! Our massive pin oak in the front yard need some TLC. Nothing major, just some culling of dead wood, clearing some growth that impeded pedestrian traffic and lifting it a little from the house. We love trees and get very nervous about letting chain saw wielding maniacs loose. You can’t stick a limb back on once its been severed! No cause for alarm here. Ryan from Quality Tree Works in Traralgon did a great job. Focus on safety was paramount and the work done to the tree was done judiciously. Looks much better and without close inspection we can’t really tell where growth has been removed. Can always do a bit more later if need be. The following are some photos of various parts of the job. Hard to pick the best shots and apologies if they all look the same to you. I am still in awe of how these guys do what they do!  IMG_3554 IMG_3564  IMG_3572   IMG_3584 IMG_3586 IMG_3595 IMG_3598   IMG_3575 IMG_3566

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BBQ’d Bread and other stuff.

With both myself and Mr ATMT being out of action due to injury and surgery, it is very frustrating sitting at home looking at what should be done and can’t be. We decided to make a trip to the Springvale and Dandenong Markets because I needed a few staples for Asian cooking that we just can’t get here in Gippsland. I also love the feel of the places, different cultures, great variety of foods and busy, busy, busy people everywhere.

I bought a couple of new Kiwi knives, these knives are the absolute best value in the universe. I’ve mentioned them before but I am still in awe of how good they are. I bought this lot, total price $12.00ish. The one in the middle looked like it would be great for scoring bread dough. Didn’t disappoint me which I’ll cover later in this post.

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Tomato season begins in earnest:

IMG_5154It is time to plant up some of the tomato seeds that have germinated. This is the first lot, 75 in total, another 200 or so to go. I am in desperate need of more coffee cups, milk cartons or similar to plant into. I put a request in the school newsletter last week so with a bit of luck I’ll get some donations this week. Once potted up they are going into the greenhouse for developing.

BBQ’d bread.

I’ve been bored and frustrated trying to create really nice bread in the ‘Toy Oven‘ so today I thought I’d have a crack at baking bread in the BBQ. I gave my sourdough starter a bit of a workout this week as it seemed a bit weak, (that’s the only thing able to have a workout here at the moment)! I cooked the loaves in cast iron pots, one camp oven and one pseudo Le Crueset.  Boy, I’m glad I had this idea. This bread looks great, has great crumb and crust is beautiful. Only downside is there are a couple of hotspots where crust has burnt, but not badly. A bit of tweaking and I think this will a regular way of baking our bread. The added bonus of being able to cook 2 full size loaves at the one time is great.

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Favourite soup-Pho

I had planned on making gyoza dumplings for dinner but we had some for lunch at the Dandenong market. Plan B in place! I just love Pho soup. I made this last night using the stock I made on the wood oven top last week and it hit the spot on a cold, wintry night. Irony was, we couldn’t find bean sprouts anywhere at the asian markets or big supermarkets. I actually found some at the local fruit shop and what was most surprising is they were fresh. Just have to have bean sprouts on ya Pho! Check out he beautiful clarity and deep colour of this stock.

Pho

 

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Garden Share Collective-Firsts.

Bit of a mixed bag this month, Winter can be quite depressing with the weather cold, daylight hours are short and some of the winds we have had have tested the moods of many. Rain has been incessant too, making it difficult to get out into the garden. That’s why on days like today we need to celebrate and make the most of such lovely sunshine.

Loads of firsts to report!

First baby lemons on the dwarf Eureka lemon IMG_5024 First shiitake mushroom since I set up the new dedicated spot for them IMG_5029 First crops in the the new wicking beds in the greenhouse are going well.IMG_5036First fruit on the Pink Grapefruit tree. Waiting with anticipation to see if they are pink when they ripen. Climate can effect how much colour develops, with warmer areas having stronger colour.IMG_5041 First tomato seeds planted have emerged. So far I have planted Siberian, Purple Egg, Grosse Lisse, Heirloom Mix from Diggers, Russian Purple, Money Maker, German Johnston and Tigerella, I’m yet to sow Amish Paste, San Marzano, Periforme Abruzzese, Black Krim, Big beef and Black cherry. I’m determined this year I will have a great range to do a taste test of. I am also planning on selling some to staff and passers-by. This helps cover cost of seed, potting mix etc.IMG_5052My first ever brussel sprout plant is not performing too well (I think). Seems stunted, anyone got any ideas? It’s about 500ml high, maybe that’s normal but not having grown them before I’m not sure.IMG_5027 First heavy frost came yesterday, looks like someone has put cling wrap over the bird bath.IMG_3501 First of the jonquils are smiling around the placeIMG_3521  First firing up of the wood fire stove this year. I did the big clean up of it and baked bread, osso bucco, potato & leek soup and made a lovely big pot of chicken stock. The bread I made this week isn’t my usual sourdough but a loaf my niece handed over the recipe too. It’s a basic yeasted white bread cooked in a cast iron pot. Because I had the wood fired oven on I was able to fit it in, bliss! Loaf looks good, osso bucco was delicious as was the potato and leek soup. the only things bought for all of this was the osso bucco meat, and some chicken necks for the stock. Everything else came from the garden or what I have in bulk (bread flour etc). That makes me happy!IMG_5131

Osso bucco with mash and broccoli.

Thanks Lizzie from Strayed Table for hosting the Garden Share Collective concept. Great to see what others from around the world are up to. Hook up to GSC wont be available until Monday 4th August. Looking forward to what you have to report.

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Posted in Bread, Broccoli, In The Garden, Nature in the garden, Potatoes (Spuds), Recipes, Seed Raising & Propagation, Shiitake, Sustainable Living, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

In My Kitchen

Thanks again to Celia from Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for hosting this series. Last month was my first post to IMK and it was lovely getting feedback about my kitchen and also seeing so many valuable stories from others who are part of this feed. Lots of friendly banter too about some of us contending for having the worst kitchen! This month I’m showing a few jobs I’ve got on the boil (bad pun I know) while the weather is miserable and making it ideal to be inside.

The wood fired stove:

This wood fired oven that is in the old kitchen space was apparently a necessity just in case of power failure. Because this house was the original Dr’s residence, it was imperative to have the ability to boil water at the drop of a hat (or a baby). Because it takes nearly all day to get it up to heat and uses a massive amount of wood, I don’t fire it up regularly. It also acts as valuable storage space for baking trays and tins in my limited available space. Today I did the annual clean and polish. There is no seal to the chimney so lots of water enters causing rust to build up. No drama, some wire brushing, vacuuming and stove black polish and its as good as new. This oven works beautifully and if I wasn’t at work most of the time it would be going most of winter.

Before the scrub begins-IMG_5054 Scrubbed, stove black applied and fired up-IMG_5058Good as new-IMG_5061Can’t waste this great source of heat energy, so on went a pot of potato and leek soup, which we had for tonight’s dinner. Chicken Stock, some osso bucco and a loaf of bread prepared to cook after the other food was done.IMG_5121 Osso bucco in the pan browning, thanks again Wayne from Trafalgar Butcher Shop!IMG_5079In my kitchen there are about 10 bottles of opened tomato sauce due to poor management of my labelling system. I bottle my passata in 500 ml cider bottled and 375 ml beer stubbies, spicy tomato sauce usually gets stored in Grolsch swing top beer bottles. Last season I forgot to label the excess spicy tomato sauce I put into cider bottles, so every time we pick what we think is passata it is often spicy sauce. Make a note for next season!IMG_5085We found many old surgical items and equipment here when we moved in, some have been repurposed for jobs that are purely practical. These tongs (I’m sure there is a correct surgical name) are used for opening the stove lids and the fuel box grate. Work beautifully!IMG_5093In my kitchen is a note that was found amongst some old books. It was obviously left for the house-keepers when ‘Sheila’ (the Dr’s wife) was not going to be in residence for a while. I’m hoping to post a page in each IMK over the next few months. It’s makes delightful reading and shows just how organised things were around here. Anyone know when milk was 10 or 11c a pint? I estimate mid 60’s. Sounds like grandfather was an interesting soul.IMG_5115 In my kitchen is a basket of freshly picked oranges that we are making juice from daily. The large one on the left is a pink grapefruit that fell during the big wind gusts last week.IMG_5109 In my kitchen is an assortment of used coffee cups that I ask people to collect rather than binning. I use them for seed raising and they are serve the purpose brilliantly. IMG_5098   In my kitchen are the best knives I have ever had the fortune to use. I used to spend a fortune on specialist knife-ware and these babies cost between $1.50 and $10.00 each at the asian grocers in Springvale. Range goes from paring knives to big cleavers. I still can’t believe how good they are. Light, super sharp and they re-sharpen brilliantly. Kiwi brand from Thailand. I put a few in our pay-and-stay place at Fish Creek because it gives me the poops when I stay somewhere and the knives are crap. Don’t have to worry about them walking at this price!IMG_5082 Think I’ll close every IMK post with a pic of this oak tree that I can see from the kitchen. Shows the seasons of change. Almost completely bare of leaves now, but new ones are ready to burst at any time.IMG_5080      Looking forward to seeing the other IMK posts this month. Thanks Celia

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Mulligatawny Soup & Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

If anyone had asked me what mulligatawny soup was, I would have replied “something Scottish I reckon”. Wrong, mulligatawny soup as it happens is a Tamil dish from India. There are many variations of how it is prepared but I tried the recipe that is in the book, The Apple Orchard’ I mentioned last post. My first impression was that it tasted like liquid chow mien, but once it had cooked for a while and mellowed out it was just a straight out nice curry flavoured chicken soup. Was perfect tea for in front of the fire after the wet, cold and generally miserable Saturday we had. Served with sour dough croutons, greek yoghurt and chopped chervil. Very nice. Click on the link below for the recipe I used.

Mulligatawny-Apple OrchardMulligatawny Soup

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

On My last visit to Warragul Farmers Market, my purchase from Mirboo Pastured Poultry was a whole bird but quite a bit larger than the usual size, apparently 10 weeks old rather than the usual 8 weeks. Ilan asked for feedback on this chicken so here it is.

I cooked this chook whole in the slow cooker. I made a rub of butter, lemon zest, S&P and tarragon and put some of this mix into breast between the skin and flesh, then rubbed the rest of the body with it and sprinkled with salt. I stuffed the cavity with my favourite stuffing. This is made by mixing breadcrumbs, chopped green capsicum and an egg all together. Love this stuffing and stick to all the time now. I lined the base of the slow cooker with some sliced potatoes to act as a trivet keeping the chook off the hot base. I threw in 8 smashed garlic coves and 1 lemon cut in half. Some of Wendy & Tony’s beautiful Dutch Cream Potatoes from Thorpdale Organics  went in the pot too. I was going out for the afternoon so I knew everything would be ready  for dinner on my return. I zapped some dutch carrots ready to do a last minute heat and glaze for serving, picked some broccoli florets and beetroot from the garden. I roasted the beetroot in foil while I cooked the bread this morning and planned on putting this with some feta in to heat with the spuds before serving. When I got home I put the chicken and potatoes into the ‘toy oven’ to brown off, took some juice from the slow cooker, added some orange juice and a little sugar and boiled the daylights out of it to reduce it making  a nice jus. I zapped the broccoli for app 1 min 30 secs, reheated the carrot and threw into a pan with butter and chervil. I put some feta in with the roast beetroot and threw that in with the crisping spuds to heat and melt. Dinner was ready to serve.

Slow cooker roast chicken

Roast chicken slow cooker

Dutch carrots with chervil glaze, broccoli, roast beetroot and feta, chicken with orange jus.

Chicken was stunningly juicy and moist. Skin crisped up beautifully with a little zap under the grill element. Considering it was all done and only tweaked after returning from being out for the afternoon it was great. Just can’t work out why anyone would still buy supermarket poultry. I think I would use sage instead of tarragon in the butter rub though next time!

Posted in Capsicum, Chickens, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments