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!

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10 THINGS TO DO-when your not meant to do anything!

In the Ying & Yang of life obviously my over zealous enthusiasm for achieving so much over the school break has come back to bite me on the bum! While I was building the wicking beds I had a fall, injured my knee and wounded my shin quite badly. Didn’t stop me, couple of Panadol and I continued on. I had obviously done a bit of damage but kept going saying it will be ok in a couple of days, just a bit bruised and battered. After 3 weeks and my knee being the size of a football, not sleeping or walking well, red-hot and obviously infection in there somewhere I thought I should check it out (well everyone around me thought I should). A course of antibiotics later, tests return saying I have picked up a golden staph infection and was told to keep off it and dose up on the heavy duty ‘stuff’ I was prescribed. I’m not very good at this but took heed and was a good girl. To make it worse the weather this week was beautiful so I shut the blinds so I didn’t have to look out at it and get sidetracked. So here it is, 10 things to do while I’m not meant to do anything!

Online Shopping

What a trap! I did manage to stick to absolute essentials though. Of course I needed some more seed.

IMG_4990And it was essential I have some wasabi, cape gooseberries and fenugreek in the garden. I had actually ordered the Wasabi from the lovely people at 4SeasonsHerbs earlier, it was timely they arrived this week.

IMG_4988And I just could not ever make another loaf of bread if I didn’t have a Victorinox Bakers  knife to score the dough with. Actually, I am a little disappointed with this, maybe there is a trick to using it properly. Youtube is another thing I spent a bit of time on this week.

IMG_4999I knitted a very ugly pot holder. It does look a bit better in reality and it did use up ball of wool that was going begging. Saves me using the sleeves of my jumpers when I need to lift a pot off the camp stove.IMG_4992I uploaded a stack of books onto Ebay that have been sitting here for ages. If they don’t sell I’ll just donate them to the local charity who has an annual book fair. Probably should have done that first really.IMG_4994I got most of my tomato seeds started. I am anxiously waiting for some more that I ordered online. This year I am trying to get a big assortment of varieties and run a couple of testing beds. The ones planted here are Siberian (apparently good in the cold), Big Beef, Money Maker, Heirloom mixed, Grosse lisse, Russian Purple and Purple egg.IMG_4984I Sorted out a stack of old accounts and filing.IMG_4986I started an online music theory course in the hope that by developing my understanding of music theory, my musical journey may be assisted. No evidence of that so far, just more confused!

I’ve read 3 books, the one I am reading at the moment I’m particularly enjoying. I’t called The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs and throughout the story there are some recipes for dishes mentioned in the storyline. As I write this, I have mulligatawny soup simmering away in the slow cooker. I’ll report back on that! I have become a great fan of the Kindle Daily Deal that is offered through Amazon books. Books offered at $1.00-$2.00, a fraction of their normal price. I’ve picked quite a lot that I wouldn’t normally be interested in, they are ‘delivered’ to my iPad mini ready to read when I choose.  This book was one of those. Every day I get an email advising what the daily deal is and I can choose to buy it or not. Very happy so far with this system and I love using the iPad for reading.

Apple Orchard

Movies. I’ve never been a great movie watcher, don’t sit still long enough! I’ve had people drop in DVD’s, hard discs with movies and I’ve downloaded a couple. One in particular I enjoyed was ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, nice lighthearted story and Ewan Macgregor is gorgeous! Good, wet afternoon sort of movie. Got a few more to trawl through today.

I haven’t quite resorted to sorting through old photos, that’s when i know I’m desperate! Got any tips I can use?

 

 

 

 

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You don’t see until you look.

After reading a post from Sarah at The Garden Deli about hidden and undiscovered flowers that act as nectar and pollen attractors for butterflies, I thought I’d take a sneaky peek at what was happening in my garden. We see VERY few butterflies here apart from the dreaded white cabbage butterfly which is rated as foe, not a friend. They were conducting a ‘Big Butterfly Count‘. I might check that out, sounds interesting. I wonder if they are as obsessed with ‘big things’ over there as we are here? Maybe someone has a ‘Big Butterfly’ at the front of their business or at the entrance to the town. Would be far prettier than a ‘Big Pineapple’ or ‘Big Yabbie‘ like we have!

Anyway, I am home for a few days trying to repair a damaged knee (fell during my marathon of work a couple of weeks ago) and today was an absolutely beautiful day. It is very frustrating on such a day not to throw myself into another round of jobs and just be a bit passive, but due to the injury I really need to take heed. Something I don’t do very well!

Alas,  I found no butterflies and no hidden flower gems in the lawn, but I sat with a cuppa for a while and was entertained by some hover flies and bees in the veggie patch and garden. I deliberately left these broccoli to flower for that purpose, so it was nice to see it had the desired effect.

IMG_4859Incoming bee for landing.

IMG_4894 Hover flies everywhere and look at the pollen on that bee!

The beautiful jonquil flowers also had some visitors.

IMG_4938Flowers on the broad beans, and the supporting wire I installed is doing a great job.  Can’t wait for a harvest from these.

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Almost a celeriac!

I was chuffed at seeing how well one of the celeriac plants was doing and one morning it looked a bit lop-sided so I went to investigate and obviously something other than me thinks celeriac is worth having a chomp on. Bugger, it looked like it was going to be a cracker too!

IMG_4766Could this be the guilty one?

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Genetics.

Does how you paint go into your genetic profile? Father & son here, made me giggle.

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Its a big one!

I mentioned that I didn’t want to waste a second of time while I was on the school term break. I reckon I can quite honestly say that I have exceeded my expectations of what I wanted to achieve. The poor old arthritic hands are now pretty useless but a couple of weeks being gentle and I should be back on track. One night I came in, lit the fire and literally couldn’t get up! Let the fire go out and was in bed at 7.30. All worth it though.

Here are a few of my accomplished jobs…….

Fly through restaurant is CLOSED!

The high priority job was to run smaller mesh wire over the chook house to prevent the sparrows eating all the chook feed. Littlebuggers were going through 3 times more feed than the chooks. Me being me, I didn’t want to just throw new wire over, I wanted it fitted neatly. This meant taking off (loosening) one end of all the weatherboards, removing and dis-assembling the door, then re-assembling it. I thought I would need to remove the barge boards too but I manage to work around that when I couldn’t undo the bugle screws. The raw zinc flashing had been annoying me since the chook house went in so I removed that and spray painted it matt black. I’m really happy with the end job and it now blends so well into the landscape. looks like it’s been there for years! I have since finished spraying the door black too.

IMG_4713New wicking beds!

I built 2 new wicking beds in my sacred space. The greenhouse. I had been looking at raised garden beds at hardware stores, online and I had considered building some but that would just knock my hands around too much. I happened to call into the greenhouse display centre at Officer just to see what they had and bingo! Came home with 2 flat pack, gal kits. Reasonably priced, no bells and whistles, just what I needed. I didn’t consider it would be too difficult to turn them into wicking beds, just took a bit more time and effort. I assembled the beds, ran tape over the metal edges and screws to avoid any piercing of the plastic liner of the bed. put a sand base in and levelled, lay the plastic liner, fitted the fill hose and inlet, cut an overflow hole and siliconed a drain tube into place, filled scoria over water reservoir, put geo-textile over the scoria to prevent the soil going into to water reservoir then filled with soil. I am quite amazed at how much more growing space this will give me. I also think the thermal performance of the greenhouse will be better.

wicking beds

IMG_4756This gives me 2 lovely big beds with room on the remaining side for seed raising etc. I’ll try a couple of grow bags with tomatoes down the centre to get maximum use of height.

Shiitakes have a dedicated home.

I created a spot behind the greenhouse especially for the shiitakes. Up until now they have just been in the old bath under a tree down the back. This spot should be great, all that’s needed now is some shade cloth and when the weather warms up I’ll set up an auto spraying system to keep them damp and humidity high. I also took advantage of this space to create a spot for all the garden stakes to be stored. I rolled these concrete blocks from the far end of the block to this spot. Can see why the wheel was invented!

Shiitakes new home

Mulch, mulch and more mulch!

I think in total I moved about 4 metres of mulch. Tidies things up nicely!

IMG_4742 IMG_4719Broad beans supported. I added a new layer of supporting wire to stop them falling in the wind. I’m amazed I have any still standing after me clambering over them and sticking ladders in the bed while I worked on the chook shed! See some flowers are appearing, can’t wait for these little babies to hit my kitchen!IMG_4724Started a concept layout for the front yard. Looking good!IMG_4755View from the back looking towards house. I’m thinking as I write this that it doesn’t seem like much that’s been done, but rest assured there is heaps! Lots I haven’t posted and lots of the jobs I did took a long time, especially when it was so wet.IMG_4741 First of the jonquils out-so cheery!IMG_4720

In the almost a kitchen.

These wet cold and miserable days are ideal for enjoying comfort food. My small slow cooker died last week and I am grieving badly. Will have to replace it next week. I had to resort to using a casserole which needed monitoring, stirring and heat control management on the camp cooker. Too much hard work! This is the madras curry and naan bread I made last night.IMG_4750 I made a lemon syrup cake, recipe courtesy of Town Mouse County MouseIMG_4743 We had the last of the flatbread I stock up on when I go to the Dandenong market. I cut the loaves into 3, pack 2 slices into bags and freeze. Great to have on hand, these ones were baked with a pizza style topping of passata, mushroom, capsicum, ricotta cheese, freshly chopped herbs of rosemary and oregano, sliced olives and salami. Great easy lunch.IMG_4746

Lemon cordial-Mmmmm.

I made cordial for the first time and it is beautiful. We drink a fair amount of cordial and because I am trying to make  “plastic-free” choices I thought I’d give making some a crack. Really happy with the result and its a great way to use some of the excess lemons we have at the moment. Served mixed in chilled soda water (using the Soda Stream) it is a winner! This is the recipe I used, I didn’t add epsom salts and did add 2 extra lemons as ours aren’t that lemony!

Lemon Cordial

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Vegetable Soup

I’m drafting this post as Mr ATMT brings me in a bowl of hot vegetable soup with some of last nights left over naan bread to eat by the fire. So heartening to think that a fair whack of the ingredients came from our garden. Pumpkin, celery, tomato passata, parsley, bay leaf, and my home made stock. Sometimes I just love winter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Garden Share Collective July 2014

Time to have a think about what’s been happening, being harvested and planned over the last month.

We are halfway through a school term break here and I have been going ‘gangbusters’ trying to achieve as much as I can while I have the opportunity.

Plantings

I have planted a whole lot of flower seedlings I started earlier in the year, these have been put into the bed that has a lane way running along it. A good spot for viewing flowers from the lounge room window. I have also planted some kale, leeks, divided up and planted runners on strawberry plants. I grow these strawberries in self watering pots, the plastic drum is filled with nutrient rich water and refills the planter automatically as needed. I’ll add a more detailed post about these at a later time.

Strawberries in need of TLC IMG_4605We’ve planted a few shrubs , one I’m excited about is the native pepper berry which should fill in a nice gap along the fence as well as giving us the opportunity to use the berries in cooking and it is a good for attracting native birds. I’m still working on a place to plant my peach tree! Just can’t decide where will be most suitable.

What I’ve been and plan to be doing.

Jobs targeted over the last couple of weeks have been to spread mulch over the newly marked out beds along the back of the yard. This is what’s left (until it stops raining), rest will be spread next week.

IMG_4609 Mulch really neatens the overall look up. I had been using these beds as a dumping ground for all the soft prunings and old tomatoes, pumpkin vines etc, knowing that they would be covered soon. Now the mulch is covering this green waste, it creates a natural composting environment which will aid in developing better soil long term.

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I’ve started building 2 wicking beds in the greenhouse, already I can see how much more available growing space there will be compared to using the old bathtubs.

IMG_4600I’ve targeted next week as the time to put smaller wire on the chicken shed to stop those pesky little sparrows coming in. Only if it stops raining of course! We’ve had around 60ml in 24 hours. Glad the gutters were cleaned out last week! I also plan to move the shiitake mushrooms to a dedicated space  behind the greenhousethat’s not much good for anything else. Think it’s time to innoculate  some fresh logs soon.

IMG_4575Harvesting

We’ve had some great harvests recently. The broccoli is sensational, as is the kale. I’m picking celery, beetroot, snow peas, assorted herbs, silver beet, lemons, lemons and more lemons.  The chooks have started laying again after a short layoff. I had to buy eggs last week for the first time in 12 months, that hurt!

Had a great stir fry with most of our stuff and some kohlrabi that I bought from Thorpdale Organics. Never tried it before and it was sensational, absolute winner of a veg. Bought a water chestnut type crunch to the dish. Great chicken and veg stir fry was the result!

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Posted in Broccoli, Compost, Flowers, Fruit, Home, In The Garden, Lemons, Mushrooms, Nature in the garden, Seed Raising & Propagation, Shiitake, Strawberries, Vegetables, Wicking Beds | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In My Kitchen July 2014

For a couple of months I’ve been taking interest in what people are linking to one of my favourite blogs, Fig Jam & Lime Cordial. Celia connects bloggers by hosting an ‘In My Kitchen (IMK)’ forum where people show what goodies they have in their pantries, their  kitchens and showcase some of their favourite foods and recommend suppliers etc. Because I don’t really have a kitchen per say, I didn’t think I would dare post anything but one of the other bloggers who posted to the IMK site commented she thought her kitchen was a bit poxy! I laughed when I had a look and thought it looked like heaven to what I am dealing with. So here goes, here are some things I have to work with until we sell another property that will fund the reno including my new kitchen. I promised myself I wouldn’t put anything in the cupboards, but it’s been 18 months now and I had to do something! IMG_4623 This is a cupboard beside the chimney that I use to put saucepans, pasta pots and a couple of electric appliances like slow cookers and my mixer. Like the red inside and the brown outside? So tasteful!

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My gas range consisting of 2 butane camping stoves. For any heavy-duty stuff like sauce making, bottling and preserving I use a big gas ring I’ve hooked up to a big gas bottle in the outside laundry. Works fine. In fact I really like these little stoves and at $12.00 each and 12 cans of gas for about $10.00 at Woolies its pretty economical.

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Luckily these shelving systems are pretty cheap these days. This can go to the garage if ever we finish the reno. The bag of garlic hanging there is what’s left from my harvest this year. I use these shelves for day-to-day crockery, cutlery and utensils rather than going into the spare bedroom down the hall where I have a spare wardrobe set up as a pantry. One of the bottom drawers is handy for storing all my spices, the others have stuff like baking paper, mixing bowls, salad spinner etc.

Pantry IMG_4681

My oven is a Sunbeam benchtop pizza and grill which works like a charm! Biggest issue is the limited size of what you can fit into it. If making muffins etc you can only do 6 at a time so have to work using batches. My pizza stone doesn’t quite fit so I’ve improvised by buying a terracotta pot plant  saucer and I use that for bread and pizzas.

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Always improvising, like today when I discovered a slice tray just doesn’t fit in by a whisker. Not to worry, Mr ATMT to the rescue with his trusty shifting spanner! Fits perfectly now!

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IMG_4627  I have quite an assortment of lovely old kitchen collectibles, mostly from Mr ATMT’s grandmother that will be proudly displayed when we finally do the extension. I have a couple of my favourites out just to keep me positive (doesn’t always work!).

Food does still happen regardless.

I can honestly say that we are coping reasonably well (would have been different if kids were still at home) with these limited facilities. I still manage to make sourdough bread every week, (Celia notice the Falcon pot!). My biggest gripe is that I have things spread far and wide in (and out) of the house and I have no idea where to find stuff when I need it. All of my cheesemaking and preserving things are stored in an outside room that used to be a dentist’s workspace when he came to town once a week.

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These are the Alice Medrich Lemon Bars I made today. That’s the reason the slice tray needed a helping hand to fit in the oven!

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I’ve got the base ingredients for some lemon cordial sitting overnight ready to make a batch tomorrow.

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And even though its ugly inside, I do get to look at this beautiful oak tree outside. That’s not too bad!IMG_4643

Oh, I forgot to mention we have to get cold water from the bathroom!

 

Posted in Bread, Lemons, Preserving, Recipes, Renovation | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Planning & plantings.

With the school term break upon me, once I recuperate from the incredibly heavy-duty term and the massive task its been getting through the EOFY (End of Financial Year) this year,  I will have time to get a few jobs done both inside and outside. Although, if the weather stays like this it may be mostly inside I think!

I made a start at the weekend mainly because I had a lot of seedlings I started a while ago that should have been tended to. They were looking a bit sad and in dire need to spread their roots, I was determined they would not be wasted so spent a fair amount of time planting. There is a mix of coneflower, various poppies and other cottage garden plants in this lot. SeedlingsIt’s not the planting that takes the time, it’s all the other jobs you find along the way, such as trimming back perennial clumps (the hedge trimmer is great for this), dividing and thinning out plants, weeding, trimming suckers off the magnolia and feeding and adding compost to the bed.IMG_4500Hopefully, this bed will be full of cheery, bee loving flowers in spring and summer.

IMG_4533Time to check through the seed packets and plan what I need to use and what needs to be started at this time of year. Any old seed will go in, might only work as green manure, micro greens or chook food. Nothing goes to waste-it’s better to try to get some sort of return from it than to throw it away! All my attempts to be really organised and systematic with seed just seems to head out the window when I see something I like or someone offers to share!

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Reclaimed bricks

Our neighbours demolished an old garage and generously offered all the old red bricks to us. They’ve been stacked out the front for a while and needed cleaning, a job Mr ATMT started at the weekend. They are still stacked in the front yard, but mostly ready for using in various landscaping projects we have planned.

IMG_4507A few of the other jobs I have planned for the break are:

  • Put new wire on the chook house-small enough so sparrows don’t treat it like a smorgasbord fly through restaurant!
  • Set the greenhouse up so I have much better growing space. Thinking of putting a couple of wicking beds in there.
  • Clearly mark out fence line around veggie patch-Design gate and fence
  • Plan fruit tree planting sites and plant
  • Set up new bench in berry house for the strawberries
  • Clean up the strawberry pots, plant up runners and top up with good compost etc
  • Clean out the old stables/shed
  • Sort out back corner of yard where old timber and building stuff is stored
  • Build some potato planting boxes
  • Succession planting in the veggie patch beds.
  • Put more support wire over broad beans
  • Give the worm farm a service-take out castings and generally refresh it.
  • Clean up the garden shed and give the tools an oil, sharpen and sort out.

Gee, getting tired just thinking about it. Haven’t covered much in the way of inside reno jobs have I! If it’s too crappy outside I will endeavour to get the hallway wallpaper finished ready for painting and work out a colour scheme for the front ‘snug’. Piece of cake really!

 

 

Posted in Compost, Flowers, Nature in the garden, Seed Raising & Propagation | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment