M Weekend!

Saturday I seemed to spend hours on the road and everywhere I headed seemed to begin with M so I decided it was to be named M weekend. Monbulk to Morwell to Mirboo North then on to our Fish Creek property to do lots of Mowing. Back home on Sunday and continued the little mind game with Meringue  for my sons Many happy returns lunch. Sometimes I think I am mentally stuck in my childhood state! Anyway a last minute decision to have a BBQ lunch because it was such a sensational spring day went down well.

On my drive home from Fishy I was trying to work out what I could do for a birthday cake as we don’t have a family sized oven at the moment. My son loves pavlova and we have had several over the years as his special day cake. It struck me that I could do mini-pavs in the little muffin trays I bought that fit into my ‘toy oven’. With a plan in mind to have mini pavlovas served with cream, strawberries, kiwi fruit and a strawberry coulis type sauce, I also bought some ready-made brandy snaps to crunch a couple up as a nice little crunchy garnish and serve sprinkled over the top of the little pavs.

My favourite pavlova recipe

4 Egg whites

1 Cup of sugar (castor sugar speeds process up a bit)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon white vinegar

Beat egg whites until firm but  still soft. Slowly add the sugar a little at a time and beat until dissolved. When sugar dissolved and mix is glossy and thick stir through vanilla and vinegar. Done, use as needed.

I spooned some mix into the muffin tins

Mini Pavs in tin

Cooked in the ‘toy oven’ set on approx 160 for 15-20 minutes. Are a little darker than normal but don’t think that matters.

Mini pavlovas

I changed my mind about crunching up the brandy snaps and decided to serve the little pavlovas in a brandy basket topped with the cream and fruit. I blitzed a few strawberries with the Bamix stick mixer with some icing sugar added (about a teaspoon) to make a nice little drizzle sauce.

Mini pavlova

Very happy with that, and when you cut into it the combination of soft meringue, crunchy brandy snap, sweet fruit and rich cream was beautiful. Took less than 1/2 an hour to make and looked pretty impressive too.

IMG_0626With this being our first outside meal for the season we set up the table under the mulberry tree and I noticed the first leaves were showing.

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Sampled some Tomato pickles (R) and tamarillo chutney (L) my daughter made with lunch. Loved the tomato pickles but thought the tamarillo chutney although very nice was just a bit too sweet to go with normal bbq. I thought it would be great to use as a glaze on pork chops then serve a little on the side as well.

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My reference to our ‘toy oven’ is actually a little Sunbeam bench top Bake and grill oven and it is sensational. Cost about $80.00 and it does everything a conventional oven does, just in small doses!Mini pavs in ovenI

I am really looking forward to this week as I’ve taken time off work and will make the most of doing what I really enjoy!

Greek lamb salad, tomatoes and crumbed cutlets.

This weekend has been a real mixed bag. With Saturday dedicated to my MIL visiting for lunch to inspect the ‘new old house’. She is a bit of a gun at 84, and a joy to have around. This will be the first time she has visited since we moved into the house in January. She lives on the Mornington Peninsula so my husband did the long trek to collect her while I put my thinking cap on as to what to serve for lunch. Because I had quite a few jobs to do outside I thought either a BBQ or I would make ‘pitta pizzas’. To be honest I couldn’t get motivated about menu planning. I had made some roast pumpkin and roasted sweet potato soup the night before as well as mixing up a poolish with rye flour as a base for a sourdough-ish loaf of bread. I decided I’d just wonder over to Trafalgar Butcher Shop and see what took my fancy and take it from there.

Good Decision, Wayne had some ‘Greek Style’ Lamb fillets so I thought a warm greek lamb salad would fit the bill beautifully. I have before mentioned  in this blog that we only buy meat a few times a year and when we do I want it to be good. I don’t want shitty stuff packed in plastic trays with what reminds me of feminine protection pads in them. I like to support local businesses who I know support local producers and you can’t do this at the supermarket chains. The salad came together beautifully.

My Greek Style Warm Lamb Salad method:

Roasted a couple of beetroot and cut them into small chunks, char grilled a red capsicum and sliced it, blanched some lovely fresh beans. These warm things were put in a separate bowl. Tore up some lettuce, chopped some small roma tomatoes, picked and chopped some mint and oregano, chopped a green capsicum, sliced a small cucumber, grabbed the olives that needed using from the fridge, picked a lemon. Put the lamb onto the bbq, 3 minutes one side. probably less than 2 the other side. While it rested for a good 5 minutes I mixed all the other salad stuff together, squeezed some lemon juice over it and gently mixed through the goats cheese. Spread the lamb on top with some shredded mint and served with greek yoghurt.

Warm greek lamb salad

Very, very nice! Wish I’d bought another couple of fillets!

The unprecedented third course!

During lunch I asked my sons how many times they can remember me cooking a lunch or dinner with three courses. Unanimous answer was only ever at Christmas. I have never been a desert person, kids were only offered fresh fruit or even cereal as a desert if they were still hungry after dinner, (we used to go through an awful lot of cereal).

So today we had, soup with homemade sourdough, warm greek style lamb salad and I had picked almost the last of the oranges, steeped them in some honey, a pinch of cinnamon and some orange juice then mixed through some strawberries and mint. Served with choice of greek yoghurt or ice-cream. Went down a treat! Three courses, light and healthy.

Orange & Strawberry desert

Sunday.

Feeling a bit melancholy today. Not sure if its due to the Federal Election result or because I just don’t want to go to paid work tomorrow or because we have had a few local  people pass away from  accidental or medical events and it plays in your mind.   With the weather  so lovely and knowing I have so much I want to do in the garden I just feel as though I want to power through things. I had one of those days that just didn’t go right. Up early after planning a greenhouse watering system in my head (when I should have been sleeping), off to the hardware store 40 klms because it is bigger than the one 25 klms away. Mmmm,  not be able to get what I needed there and the stuff I did buy was  wrong! Started to feel a bit antsy, but soldiered on (with an attitude I might add). Back to hardware store 25 klms away to get correct stuff and was rewarded this time. Back to the greenhouse and had handed the job to my husband because I just wasn’t in the right space to succeed. Great, progress but we needed some more fittings so back to the 25 klm away store. This was going to be finished today or I’d go he! At the end of the day I can’t say I did the misting system in the greenhouse I have to hand that accolade to my husband. A few tweaks and the young seedlings should be in a very safe zone.

Looking for the positive!

After shaking off the annoying thought of wasting the day  trekking back and forward to the hardware shop, I took a look at the garden and marvelled at the way things are just taking off and growing at a great rate. In particular a couple of the little grevilleas we planted are doing beautifully. Grevillea ‘Australian Beauty’, a low growing to ground cover variety with beautiful flowers that I think resemble pop corn a little bit.

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Tomato seedlings all doing well. Couple showing a bit of aphid invasion, dealing with that!

Double Whammy for Trafalgar Butcher Shop.

When buying the greek style lamb fillets yesterday, I spotted some crumbed lamb cutlets that didn’t look too shabby. I’m a bit fussy about my crumbing of meat cuts, I’ve tried a couple of cuts from various places over the years and decided it was just better to do it from scratch to avoid disappointment. Surprised and delighted to say these were absolutely beautiful. REAL breadcrumbs, with a light herb seasoning. Not too salty and the cutlets when cooked were absolutely beautiful. We had reverted into the classic meat and 3 veg aussie family of old for tea tonight. Cutlets, mash, peas and carrots with mustard and honey. Can’t remember when we last had such a meal. Don’t think it will be so long till the next time.

Straight out of the Sullivans! Meat and 3 veg

Cutlets done and dusted   Picture says a thousand words!

Plight of the humble bee.

The bee is one of nature’s most amazing creatures. Its social habitat, ability to pollinate a huge variety of food plants and the production of their beautiful honey is just some of their interesting factors. Unfortunately, worldwide bee populations  are under threat. Indiscriminate use of pesticides and fungicides  are leading to a massive reduction in bee colonies. Viruses and diseases are taking their toll and some consider genetically modified crops are adding to reducing resistance to these diseases. It is with this in mind I am conscious of planting many ‘bee friendly’ plants in our garden. We should all be mindful of these great agricultural helpers who reportedly travel an average 800km in their lifetime. Even if you are not in the position to have a garden you can help by sponsoring a beekeeper and beehive. Go to www.amazingbees.com.au and see what you can do to help. Was very happy to see this little worker on my young lavender plant.

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Spring, joy oh joy!

What a welcome start to spring! The weather this weekend was absolutely beautiful. Sunny, light breeze, bees a buzzing and great for getting stuck into jobs in the garden/yard.

With the chooks being confined to their house more, I thought it best to have a dust bath in there where they can do their ablutions. I grabbed an old tyre from the discard pile at a local tyre centre, trimmed top curve off and filled it with sand, some toppings from where they choose to do their bathing in the garden and some diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is a powder made from fossils and is purported to be great for mite control as well as a host of other conditions. Apparently the sharp cell structure from the diatoms of the DE kills mites. I’m all for trying to treat these things organically, so we will see how it goes.

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I’d bathe in that!

Good to see some birds

Native birds are starting to appear at our feeder, so far crimson rosella, lorikeets, king parrots and galahs. It is really interesting watching the hierarchy of them coming in to feed, they all take their turn and get very ‘snippy’ if one variety comes along at the wrong time. Although galahs aren’t our target, they are obviously spreading the word. I don’t think there have been any where near as many mynah birds recently, that’s a big bonus! Hopefully, once we get some of the bird attracting plants established we will be able to cut back on the manual feed.

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Strawberry heaven!

I planted some new strawberry plants into my self watering ‘Auto Pots’ and put them in the berry hut. These pots have a great little valve that releases nutrient enriched water into the reservoir of the pot as needed. Can go away for weeks not worrying about watering and it means the problems that sometimes crop up from overhead watering are eliminated.

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I am on the hunt for a small fridge or freezer that I can use as a stand for the nutrient solution that is in the olive drum on the pile of bricks. This drum holds approx 80 litres and feeds into the pots in 4mm tubing.

Potatoes/Spuds

My spuds have gone gang busters and grown too high for the bird proofing I installed, so I have to raise the height so when flowers form they wont be cramped. No drama just used some slightly longer bamboo stakes to elevate the poly pipe a bit.

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Dinner of a quiche made with home grown broccoli, asparagus and eggs from the girls and it was lovely testimony as to why we do this!

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No sooner than the last leaves of the oak tree have fallen, new ones are appearing. Next years compost in the making!       IMG_0548      Plasterer has finished the bedroom and hall ceiling. Photos yet to be taken but we are very happy with it!