Weekend Roundup

Golly, lots of things achieved this weekend. Had a lovely start to the weekend by heading off to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on the great, local produce that is presented  at this market. I came home with some of Thorpdale Organics sensational Produce. This business goes to great lengths to ensure their produce is at its absolute prime when presented for sale. I bought some kohl rabi, potatoes and some of the nicest lettuce I’ve had in a long time (apart from my own of course!) I used the lettuce in some chicken wraps I made for lunch. I also bought some goats cheese, apples and the most stunning bunch of waratah flowers. They are massive and look great in the lounge under the bay window. 20141018_185412The lettuce I bought from Wendy & Tony went into some ATMT’s Chicken Wraps we had for lunch. It was a beautiful day, kids had come home and we had other friends here as well. These chicken wraps are one of our favourite camping meals as they are so easy to prepare, tasty and don’t create many dishes. This time I added some Middle Eastern Spice mix I made to the chicken and it gave it a little extra zing. I’ve added the spice blend to the bottom of the recipe. After our leisurely lunch I continued working on getting the hall reno moving along more. The Anaglypta wall paper has been a little difficult in a few spots, I think because of the amount of fill and work done to the panelling underneath. It’s is coming together though, can’t wait to see it finished. The pattern we have chosen is one of the original heritage styles which is in keeping with the house. IMG_5205   Work continues out in the yard with Mr ATMT having nearly completed the fence around the vegetable area. Need to oil the timber, design and make a gate and it a tick off the list. Yay, haven’t had many ticks recently! IMG_5193The cherry tee is really booming. It caused some difficulty for Mr ATMT to access what he needed to for the fence but it coped well. Look at those baby cherries!IMG_5197 I am really happy with the progress I’m making with my sourdough bread. Since investing in Chad Robertson’s book, Tartine Bread I have learned loads of new tricks. Last night was the first time I have done an overnight proofing in the fridge and it worked well. Makes it great for time management. I have also been a little concerned that the hole in the lid of the DO (Dutch Oven) where I have to remove the knob so it fits in my ‘toy oven’ has been letting the valuable steam escape. This time I removed the knob and plugged the hole with a bit of bread dough.  Loaf looks good. I only bake once a week so wont be able to see the crumb until it is cut later in the week. IMG_6100I also made a double batch of Lemon Cordial Recipe tonight. This had proven to be an absolute winner! My son and his fiancé are now enjoying it and even want to make some for their upcoming engagement party! A win I think.

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Espaliers, skirting boards and spring pasta.

We have at long last commenced the fence around the veggie patch. We are going for a rustic paling look across the front and on the gate but along the back it is just posts with ‘reo’ attached so I can use the steel as framing for espaliers, beans and other things as needed. I got to plant the fig which has been in a pot since we bought it at the Castlemaine market the Easter before last. This may be quite a hot spot so hopefully the fig should do well. Not sure about the root system, but what the hell! I’d already started training it to a ‘U’ Goblet shape and hope I get some side shoots soon so I can train it to spread across as well as up.IMG_5168I’ve also planted 2 apples along this fence. With another 2 planted along the front patch fence which I will train as step over apples, (photos when that fence is completed). This means they are varieties which have been grafted onto unusually dwarf rootstock so you can keep them small and manageable.IMG_5169I’ll train the granny Smith as a double cordon style shape like this photo below. Mine certainly won’t cover as much space as this but I want to demonstrate what you can achieve in small spaces with fruit trees.espaliers-2013-13-620x416

Now to the walls on the inside!

I have spent some time this weekend working on the hallway. I managed to finish hanging the wallpaper and started work on restoring the 8″ cedar or Australian pine (not sure which or what the difference in fact is ). It would be so tempting to just paint these or even go and get new, fresh, perfectly recreated mouldings made from craft wood or pine but these babies have been here since the house was built and I like the scars they show and the story they tell. I wonder how many of the scuff marks are from people who were quite nervous (justified I’m led to believe) about going into the doctors for a procedure or checkup. This is the starting point, the boards have been sealed or varnished over the years with a quite dark finish. They are terribly scuffed and we’ve had to glue quite a few together in places.

IMG_6094I started by going over the boards with metho to break down the finish (luckily we found a couple of 10 gallon /20 litre) drums of metho in the stables when we moved in. Doctors obviously bought their metho in bulk! IMG_6095This along with a scourer to help dissolve the finish, washed and a final sanding using steel wool and they are looking much happier. Love that grain!IMG_6096The first coat of Tung Oil, and I’m really pleased with how they are coming up. They still show many dents, scuffs, splits. holes and dings. I’m quite OK with that! They don’t actually look quite that red which is good. Another sand with steel wool, another coat and they should be good to put back in place. I’m keeping the unveiling of the hall until it’s just about finished.IMG_6097

Spring pasta.

We are starting to get much better harvests now that the soil has warmed and the sun has been out a bit more. (I nearly stupidly said “now that we have more sun because of daylight saving”, but that would have been silly). Dinner last night was an easy pasta dish. I walked around and picked a young garlic plant that was growing in the way of something else. Young garlic delivers a subtle flavour to a dish without overpowering it. I also picked some young asparagus, thai basil, oregano, parsley and chervil.IMG_5183 Now don’t get excited but I also picked, yes, broad beans. A whole tablespoon full. We love broad beans and have been anxiously waiting on a harvest as they are very late this year. IMG_5185A couple of leeks, some broccoli I’d frozen before we went away, along with these herbs, some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and it was lovely light dinner. IMG_5189

 

 

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Tasmania Top Bits

Just some last highlights of our Tasmania trip. From Tarraleah we headed to Richmond and parked the camping trailer in a great bush site of the Richmond Caravan Park for a week doing day trips around the island. We covered Hobart, the capital, Bruny Island which is the most magnificent island south-east of Tasmania. It had been 20 years since visiting there and although much more developed it is still beautiful. There are boutique food production places dotted throughout Tasmania, many doing some wonderful things with cheese, cider and preserves.  There are many wonderful historic sites of both convict days and early settlement. I’ll continue the tour using the photos!

Hobart Botanical Gardens

One of the places I did insist on going to was where they film the ABC Gardening Australia vegetable gardening segment (commonly referred to as ‘the patch’). This was great to see, it will be so much better now that I have offered ‘my two bobs worth’ (for those outside Australia this means my opinion) to the head gardener.  IMG_3645They have a rocoto chilli planted there that is amazing! Fully laden with fruit, no sign of frost damage and he reckons no protection was offered to it. IMG_5999I have my doubts about that. This is my rocoto after winter frosts and it had carefully and lovingly protected from the heavy frost. Hopefully it will re-shoot!Rocoto chilli frost damageThe Japanese Garden, just beautiful.IMG_6012 Now this is a Mulberry tree! IMG_5989  Just making sure he’s got things sorted before we head off! All looks good. Carry on.IMG_3644Entally House – a beautiful historic mansion (although it is showing signs that funding for restoration and repairs may have been cut). IMG_4002 I was very impressed that it has what is believed to be the only surviving Victorian Glasshouse in the country. Now that’s a greenhouse!IMG_4005 Hows this for a water filter? It must have taken weeks for about a cup of water to filter through and come out the bottom.IMG_4016 This is a cracker! They planted grapes in the garden outside and trained the vines into the glasshouse where they grew along rods ensuring fruits were protected from birds and weather extremes.IMG_4031We accidentally stumbled upon ‘Woolmers‘ a world heritage listed convict site. I wish we’d planned a bit ahead for visiting here. All I can say is if you are in Tasmania and you like history you MUST visit this place. There have been 6 generations of the Archer family living here since it was settled in 1817 and everything they lived with, worked with and played with is still in place. Too much to relay, check it out! I’m going to have to build this in the garden, what do you think it is?IMG_4035 Bet you didn’t pick it is a smoking room! Not sure who would be the grog getter these days.IMG_4033Some pig food! It was great coming back to camp in the afternoon and firing up our Ozpig. We are absolutely thrilled with the way this little beauty performed over the week. Some of our fare was: Vegetable soup with a pork sausage in it of course!IMG_5903 A quick fire up in the morning for breaky and a cuppa.IMG_5907 Moroccan styled chicken and rice.IMG_5985And the highlight I have to say, was the pot-sticker dumplings I made from the leftover pork belly from lunch at the Kettering pub.

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It is with a heavy heart I write this post as our dear friend who lives in Tassie, that we unable to catch up with as they are travelling the mainland, passed away suddenly while they were in the red centre. Love ya Mick!

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Sunset at Richmond

 

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Sausage making at Tarraleah. In someone else’s kitchen!

This months “In My Kitchen” is not from in my non-existent kitchen! We have just spent 2 weeks touring the beautiful island of Tasmania which is in Bass Strait south of the mainland of Australia. The only planned event we had was to participate in a sausage making class at the amazing village of Tarraleah which is in the high country of Tasmania, located approximately midway between Launceston and the Capital Hobart.IMG_5867 The rest of our time was spent touring and returning to our comfy campsite based in Richmond. When we decided to do the trip to Tassie, I thought going to a class of some sort of foodie thing would be good to do. Googled, and the sausage making class at Tarraleah came up. Sometimes you just know things are going to be good purely based on the initial communication and service standards that you get. I can only say our experience was delightful. We had booked  a camp site, but due to the minus 4 temps we asked if there was any indoor accommodation available. Some quick compromises were done and we were checked into Scholar House which is the old school of the township. An extension lead out the front door of our room for our camping fridge into the car and we were sorted. The room was extremely comfortable and happened to be in the same building our sausage making class was being conducted. IMG_5802After a lovely dinner at the pub and a great sleep in the extremely comfortable king size bed we woke and headed off (20 metres) to the kitchen not too sure of what to expect. No worries on that front! Small class of 6 lovely people (including us), chef Michael took us through the steps of making Cumberland, Bratwurst, Polish Smoked, Duck with cherry and apple cider vinegar and lamb & wattle seed sausages. We learned how to portion a duck, mince the meat, stuff the sausage casings, make a beautiful reduction for the duck sausages, use a smoker and had a few good laughs to boot. We then had the opportunity to sit down and share the feast while imbibing some great local wine.  I really did enjoy the day, the class offered great basic information and we came away with some great new skills. I am going to return for some other classes they do at Tarraleah as they are very good value. Here are some photos of our very successful day.

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Cutting up the lamb into mincer size pieces.

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\ An assortment of our meats used in the sausages. No skin was used, just lots of fat!

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Making a stock from the duck carcass.

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View out the window at the cold, wet miserable cow.

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Lamb & wattle seed snags.

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Ready to cook, by this time we’d lost track of which were which!

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And more, and more.

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Chef Michael stuffing things up!

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We ate, and drank and continued to eat sausages for a week after the class.

Snags, wine and laughter. Thanks Tarraleah for such a great day! Think next time I’ll suggest a salad to share too though. A little different IMK this month thanks to Celia from fig jam and lime cordial for hosting. But hey, it’s a kitchen! I usually close my IMK post with a photo of how the oak tree outside my kitchen is looking. Amazing how it can be bare one month and fully dressed the next! IMG_4047

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Touring Tasmania

This has been our 4th visit to Tasmania and we explore a little bit more every visit. Sadly, our friends who live here are travelling Australia at this time so we will not be able to hookup with them. We have no plans apart from participating in a sausage making class at Tarraleah and going to the Salamanca Market in Hobart. Every other day is just ‘free wheelin’.
We travelled over on the Spirit of Tasmania II with our camping trailer. Weather forecasts of -4 in the high country at night are a little daunting but we can always choose to have some luxury (and warmth) by using a cabin if we feel it’s unbearable.
We had a great start to our adventure, I had been under the pump at work and didn’t think I would be able to get packed or mentally prepared in time but somehow did. I desperately needed some new shoes and had found no joy looking locally so asked if we could stop at the Melbourne Walking Company on our way through to the boat. Sure, no worries, trying to find somewhere to park in Melbourne with a camping trailer attached! No drama, loading zone right out the front, I ran in, managed to buy 3 pairs of shoes and was back out in under 8 minutes? This shop has a great system where can ‘Reserve to Try’ online, you walk in, check out your choices and it’s done and dusted. That’s shopping I can cope with!
Stopped in South Melbourne, had lunch at the Downstairs Bistro with our son and then walked to the National Gallery to kill a bit of time before we could be loaded onto the boat. Off to the South Melbourne Market to get some nibbles to have on the boat. Tasmania has strict quarantine laws so we couldn’t take any fruit and veg, that will have to purchased on arrival. Still a little too early to board, so we found a bar on the St Kilda Esplanade and had a glass of wine while watching the wind surfers.IMG_5651Was plenty of wind to keep them moving! I can’t imagine how sore your upper body muscles must be doing this sport.

Finally, onto the Spirit of Tassie, armed with overnight bag, nibbles, and an extra pillow. Watched the lights on the shoreline for a while, enjoyed some wine and cheese and settled into our cabin for the night. I love sleeping to the moving motion of boats and trains, I had a great sleep even though it was  quite a rough sea. Woke up in Tas!

Offloaded in Devonport and tried to decide on which direction to head over Breakfast. Decision was to go towards Deloraine via Mole Creek, and then to lake St Clair travelling past the Great Lake which is beautiful and has hundreds of fishing huts dotted along its shoreline, many of which look like recycled scrap. Don’t get me wrong, love the recycled thing but it doesn’t do much to the aesthetics of this landscape. It was freezing, wind was really strong and when seeing the snow still on the ground we were a little concerned about setting up camp in such conditions.

IMG_5684At lake st Clair we decided to stick with pitching the camper and set up on an unpowered site. Was not the best pitch we’ve done!

IMG_5701Unfortunately you can’t have fires at many places in Tassie so we gave our little butane camp heater a good workout. It was great. We had packed our Ozpig hoping to use it wherever we stopped but this didn’t seem likely so far. We survived the cold night, worst thing was when you want to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and its about -2 degrees! Good sleep (after I’d braved the cold for a wee), no leaks in the camper and no trees came down. Breaky of bacon and eggs cooked on the electric BBQ, cup of tea was very well received! Did the Platypus Walk around the edge of the lake, it’s so beautiful! Lake St Clair is one of my favourite sites in Tassie.

IMG_3619 IMG_5765Packed up the camper and headed off to see the Wall in the Wilderness. What amazing talent that artist has, well worth seeing. We continued towards our destination of Tarraleah for the Sausage Making Class. This town was originally the base for the community who worked and ran the hydro power station. A complete community that was once busy and thriving. When the hydro station was converted to automation, the town disintegrated and was virtually abandoned. Some forward thinking people purchased the entire village and have converted it to a dedicated tourism and accommodation facility. Cooking classes, conferences, weddings, golf trips, photography etc. You name it, I think they’d cover it. We decided to book a room for 2 nights due to the cold conditions and it was a well made decision.

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Our room in Scholar House, well our bed really, there was so much more to the room!

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Hydro Power Station that was the reason Tarraleah originally was.

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View of the grounds looking at Scholar House.

We stayed in Scholar House which was the old school that has been converted to comfy rooms.  Very reasonably priced and extremely comfortable. We’ve plugged the camping fridge into an extension lead to keep supplies all good, had a nice dinner after a few drinks at the pub the came back to sit by the open fire in our building. Great sleep in the comfy king size bed, waking up ready to tackle making some sausages! Wonder what we will learn! I’ll do a separate post about this class!

From Taraleah, we headed south and made a base camp at Richmond where we found a spot that didn’t mind us having a campfire. The great thing about touring Tassie is that you are never far from anywhere. We decided that it was better to travel a bit each day and come back to a comfy camp site rather than pack up and resettle everywhere. Good choice it turned out!

That’s it for the first leg, I’ll continue with the highlights next post. I hadn’t realised how much I wanted to say about this wonderful part of the world!

Sent from my iPad

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Can’t think of a title for this post!

I was trying to come up with a catchy title for this post but it just didn’t happen. I had toyed with Friends, food and ….mmmm, got stuck, fun, friends and ……. stuck again. SO here it is, the post without a title! We had a lovely evening at a friends home in the Dandenong Ranges on Saturday night. There is something soulful about getting together with people who you can relax with, share ideas with and most importantly, have so many of the most wonderful belly laughs that it hurts! I wanted to take an offering so with the batch of sourdough I was working on I decided to make a couple of sourdough bread sticks to take. Should have proved a little longer but it just had to go on due to time restraints. As most of you know, I have limited cooking facilities so these were baked in the outdoor BBQ with the hood closed. I was very happy with these, the crust was crunchy, the crumb soft with a good flavour, sort of came out with a ciabatta style structure. This was sliced and we ate it slathered with beetroot relish and brie cheese. Very nice! My friend had made some Georgian cheese bread which is similar to puri and it was lovely, rich, but soft and full of flavour. Sourdough ciabatta bread sticksThe bay tree I’m working on establishing as a ball top with a straight stem needed some straightening so I bound it up with soft tie and cleaned any side shoots off. It’s at the right height now so I pinched the top out and will keep trimming to get the desired result.IMG_5622 Mr ATMT started extending the veggie garden path to where it will finish at the old stables. Neatened things up and now just need to infill the pavers with toppings.IMG_5627My garlic is going really well, This lot is planted in a separate box in the garden,IMG_5629 And this lot is in the asparagus bed. I’m a little concerned that the asparagus hasn’t yet started showing and I have read that garlic and asparagus shouldn’t be planted together. Waiting game now to see what eventuates.garlicThe succession planting of the broccoli is coming on nicely,IMG_5647 I pulled the last scrappy beetroot and will make some relish from these as they aren’t pretty enough to serve whole. Couple of baby parsnips here too that I pulled to see how they are progressing.IMG_5650 IMG_5632I put an old sewing machine base in the vegi patch and plonked a surplus sink onto it. This is proving to be a great asset as a workbench, potting bench and I can chuck stuff into the sink and hose it off before bringing it inside. I’m considering adding a foot pump or caravan sink type water tap to it to add to its use. IMG_5648 I’ve bagged the kale seed heads to keep the seed,IMG_5637 Such a lovely afternoon the workers downed tools and enjoyed the sun too!IMG_5635The backyard is shaping up nicely. Mt ATMT top dressed a few patches in the grass and put down some new lawn seed. Last time he’s says, it will have to fend for itself now. Let’s wait and see how that pans out!

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Garden Share Collective

Thanks Lizzie at Strayed Table for getting all these together.TheGardenShareCollective300pix1

Well Spring is well and truly showing its face. Flowers are smiling at me, fruit trees and deciduous trees are in bud, leaves are popping and showing signs of life. Birds are sharing their joyous chatter and everything just looks clean, pretty and bursting with energy.

I’ve been picking oranges from the now very healthy tree. The broccoli and kale are nearly done but I’m still getting side shoots from the broccoli.

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I started some sweet potato in the greenhouse and have planted them out into one of the greenhouse wicking beds. I don’t really expect to get a crop of tubers but the leaves can be used like spinach and in stir frys. Good little root system! IMG_5358 The broad beans are growing beautifully, but no sign yet of ‘beans’. Researching I found mention that they don’t usually appear until it warms up enough for insects to do their thing with pollination. Sure hope this little guy has done a good job!IMG_5355 My worm farm is apparently a nice place for slugs to take up residence. This is just a few that were ‘relocated’ never to return. I’m sure their offspring will though!IMG_5345 I’ve tidied up my pots, adding fresh potting mix, thinning our any dead wood and fed them. All my seedlings are doing well, tomatoes growing rapidly and the cipollini onion seed that I heard about from another blogger are up and nearly ready to transplant. Time to do some cucumber, pumpkin, beans soon and all those other summer crops. The Brussel Sprouts still are teenie weenie, don’t hold out much hope there.

First tulip opened today.IMG_5417Two Corella birds sitting in the oak tree watching down on me.IMG_5428And this magnolia says it all!IMG_5270And this magnolia says it all!

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