Considering I didn’t really give Christmas much thought this year, I seem to be doing a really great job of needing to recover from it. Yes, I did party way too hard on Christmas Eve, yes, I did eat too much and yes, I had an awful lot of dishes, tables, glasses, bottles and paraphernalia to cleanup, but nothing like we usually deal with. I like to think it is because its been a big year and we now have the opportunity to slow down, so I have. Yesterday was a day of getting up, having a shower and then getting straight back onto the couch. Justification was that I could do some research on kitchen cabinets, tiles, window coverings and all sorts of things for the exteno. I also managed to read a really good book!
Christmas came and went. We had about 25 family and friends gather here on Christmas Eve sharing food, laughing, singing and generally letting loose. I do recall at some time one of the kids made a comment that the tables had turned and they were now watching the oldies do what we used to criticise them for doing. Fun times! This was taken very early in the evening, before everyone had arrived and the fun began. Goodness, I wonder whose rude children they are giving the camera the finger?
Some of the food we shared included a platter of assorted roast veg with marinated mushrooms, roasted red capsicum and almond dip, tomatoes baked with sumac, olives and assorted crudite. Smoked trout served with assorted sourdough crisps Indian Vegetable Pakora. This is always a standout favourite and is requested at most family get-togethers, I use a lot of cauliflower in these and the batter is made using besan (chickpea) flour and beer. Served with mint yoghurt sauce. I made some vegetarian ricotta, feta, kale and chilli rolls, wrapped in filo pastry and served with sweet chilli sauce.
A surprising hit of the night was a chick pea dip I made at the last minute. Purely a can of drained chick peas, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil zapped together in the food processor. Served with some olive oil drizzled over it and some turkish bread. This got lot’s of yummy!
Dukkah served with sesame and rye ciabatta. I cooked this bread on the barbecue and was really pleased with the result. I added black and white sesame seed to the dough which worked really well with the dukkah. Some mini chicken tikka kebabs served with a vietnamese style dipping sauce. There were only four of us here for Christmas Lunch (which turned into tea due to our Christmas Eve shenanigans!). We went to our sons for breakfast and after that decided it might be best to do tea rather than lunch. I am a bit of a sucker for traditional Christmas fare, didn’t take any photos but we had pork, turkey that I had brined before roasting (that went well), ham, roast veg with all the trimmings, pudding and it was all lovely. All cooked on the barbecue to perfection. Who needs a kitchen?
Garden catch up
Today I was back up and rearing to go so I got stuck into the vegetable garden. It’s the first time I’ve focussed on it since our open garden weekend and it was in dire need of some TLC. With more hot weather forecast, I put up extra shade protection around the tomatoes. The late afternoon sun is ferocious and I noticed there has already been considerable damage to some flowers which will reduce the yield dramatically.
Shade cloth overhead
I also hung some netting on the north facing side of the bed to reduce the impact of the afternoon sun.
Light netting along north facing side of wicking bed.
The winds have been awful and the wicking beds have been struggling to keep up. I think mostly due to evaporation from the surface of the beds so I have placed a really thick layer of mulch on the surface. Hopefully these measures will assist in the tomatoes coping with more extreme heat. I trimmed off the growing tip on a few to allow the side shoots to take off. These will have many more new flowers which will hopefully set fruit and not get burned off.
To assist in pollinating the tomatoes, I have for a few years now used an electric toothbrush. You just start-up the toothbrush and touch the stem of the flowers, the vibration shakes the pollen onto the stamens. Much easier than going around with a paint brush or shaking the trusses that can be too rough on the flowers. If you look closely you can see the pollen. A bit like fairy dust to me!
There are still a few raspberries to be found if you look hard.
The grapes are going really well, looking forward to those.
Tonight we had the first bruscetta of the season. The tomatoes in the greenhouse have been producing well and we have been picking these since mid November. Tomatoes, basil, feta, olive oil on top of grilled wholewheat sourdough that had garlic and olive oil rubbed into it. Heaven!
Tomorrow it’s back into the reno I think!