Food and fun.

This weekend has been lovely. Almost tea with my son and his girlfriend at their new home (no dinner because all the take-a ways were closed!). They are doing a great job giving a sad old post war weatherboard home a makeover. Three weeks in and it’s amazing what a difference some cleaning, pruning (major) and TLC can do to a house. Lovely seeing them looking at things from a different view as owners rather than taking everything on face value as normal. We then spent some time on our property that we are still trying to sell at Fish Creek and re-instilled some love there.   Hopefully enough to trigger a sale, but things are so slow over there I’m not holding my breath. Think I may have to re-assess how we manage that!

Re-kindle India.

While in India, we had the fortunate experience of tasting ginger tea at breakfast while staying in a hotel in Delhi. It was purely accidental that we poured from this particular pot as the ‘western tea’ had not been served at that time. I love accidental discoveries and after some lengthy interpretation with the staff we vaguely got the gist of how it was made. Googling answered my questions and it is a common beverage in many Indian households. I had a go this morning at making it and yes, it was sensational. I followed the recipe on ‘Show me the Curry‘ website and was very happy with the result. Nice start to the day indeed. Sorry but photo is a bit fuzzy!

Ginger tea


Not Pho, not hot pot but an attempt to marry the two. I had wanted to make pho but didn’t have bones for stock. Thought about a hot pot (or as Cam would disrespectfully say, Ho Po) but didn’t have a clay pot that would fit into our mini oven, so I tried to marry the the two together. Marinated chicken as per the recipe at added some extra stock and put the whole lot into the slow cooker and let it go. 2 hours before tea I added some chopped bok choy and then served with fresh spring onions, rice noodles and finely chopped spring onions. I would add some star anise and chilli next time but it was very, very nice. I can really understand how these meals based on rich stock with, lovely spices and fresh vegies are soul food for so many. So fresh and healthy too!


The ‘Phot’ required Shiitake mushrooms and I realised that since we have been away and not tending the logs too well, my shiitakes had actually dried on the logs!

Shiitake dried on log

What the heck, cut the dried ones from the logs, reconstituted in hot water, sliced and added to the slow cooker. They were sensational!

Shiitake reconstitutingFingers crossed!


All good! This was a really nice dish. Broth was flavorsome from the shiitake and other spices and seasonings.

Jobs I didn’t get to!

Had a master plan this weekend to plant the onion bag full of bulbs that I took from the last house and to install the auto-openers on the greenhouse windows. Don’t you love it when you have a list and manage to work hard but don’t see one item from the list completed? Started out with the goal to plant the bulbs, went to compost to get some planting mix and realised that the open bins are struggling due to encroaching tree surface roots. I have never had much success with open compost bins, they dry out, roots invade and I find them difficult to turn. I am a fan of the ‘Geddye’ style bin. Easy to use and turn with a curly compost turner. Easy to manage moisture levels and worms seem to love the environment. Ahh, the bulbs will have to wait till next week!




Back in town.

After a few confronting weeks in India and some time to ponder the obvious troubles over there, we are back and attacking the reno with gusto. If only the tradespeople we book would do the same! We locked in to have our hydronic heating system installed before going to India and pressed the need to have a fixed date arranged. With the weather about to change we didn’t want to be left out in the cold and anticipated installation would be as soon as we returned. Turns out we are left in the cold and things are starting get that slightly damp feel to them, we are getting the “we’ll definitely be there next week” story. That’s now been four weeks and I am getting quite peeved. I just wish people would at least ring to say they won’t be there as stated. Luckily we have a nice cosy little open fire to sit in front of on these increasingly chilly nights , not too pleasant when we leave that particular room though!

Cosy Open Fire

Feel like we have done nothing until you think……………………….

Hmmm, let me do a run down of what we have and haven’t achieved so far this year. It has been slowed down by moving, weather too hot, out for a month house-sitting for our daughter, overseas trip followed by two weeks camping. The have achieved are: good supply of tomato passata and tomato sauce in the pantry, new Sproutwell Greenhouse is up (one of those processes when divorce seems good, similar to selecting paint colours!) and nearly fitted out, possibly have found a builder who is going to be good to work with, our neighbour demolished their brick garage so we are now the proud owners of approx 1000 reds which will be used for paving and garden decos. We have come up with a final design for the garden and extension which has been no mean feat. I have ordered our chicken mansion, shed/garage under way with permits and planning lodged could start anytime. Holland roller blinds ordered for every room, front door measured for leadlight design and quotes being sought. Helped our son and his girlfriend with purchase of a house and subsequently moving out (YAY!). Have some beautiful carpets we bought in India on the floor in several rooms. The mantel clock that was a wedding present of my mother in law’s has been put in for restoration. Booked plumber to install heating. We have bought 20 Camellia sasanqua ‘Asakura’ thanks to our friend Mark from ‘Plants R Us’. Many, many years ago we ran a garden design business at Gardenworld in Springvale and Mark was one of the nursery staff who helped us tremendously. These camellia will be planted to form a strong, base structure of planting around the back yard as well as possibly forming an espaliered area outside the master bedroom and bathroom. We also learned how to appreciate and respect this wonderful country we live in.

Greenhouse up and running, beautiful camellia (original) flowering. It is just beautiful!
Camellias side garden
Some structure starting to take shape!
Camellia Planting
More framework.
Strawberry flowers
Strawberries in greenhouse looking very happy.

New kitchen goodies!

Now that the weather has turned to being a bit too cool to be using the BBQ I invested in a new gas range.  A whole $13.80 at Bunnings for a Butane gas camping cooker and I’m off and away! So nice to have somewhere to boil a pot, use a wok or throw on the frying pan.

New gas range.
Looking forward to firing up the combustion stove!

Did a great job of cooking up some Singapore Noodles for dinner tonight!

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