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!

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.

IMG_5336

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!

In My Kitchen

Golly, it’s nearly too late for this month’s IMK post, a blogging forum graciously hosted by Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial.

I’ve been house sitting for my daughter while she was away and taking advantage of having a ‘real’ oven. See my post “A quickie” to see how I coped with that!

So, in my kitchen this month,IMG_5361Is a vase of lovely spring flowers, and my new cast iron dutch oven. Is it wrong to buy a pot because it matches the tablecloth I bought in Sumatra?IMG_5363Is a big pot of stock simmering in the slow cooker. Smells great! I’ve found this is the best way to make stock and we never run out any more.IMG_5334Is a big basket of freshly picked oranges, kale and broccoli. It is just about the end of the crop for all three so I’m making the most of them. Tonight’s dinner will be leek, broccoli and mushroom risotto. The broccoli have been absolutely sensational this year. Harvesting from next planting is still a few weeks away yet.IMG_5365On the fridge is the next page of the list of instructions we found left by Sheila for the housekeeper. We think circa 1960, first time I’ve ever heard of spare keys being kept in a pin cushion!20130630_142902In my kitchen is an old cheese/butter cellar. This is built under the floor of the kitchen. It’s about 500 deep and 400 wide, there is a hole covered by mesh on the lower section where cool air from under the house enters into the cavity keeping things cool. You access it by lifting a bit of wood on the bottom shelf of a base cupboard. I’m hoping to incorporate this into our new kitchen design by using it as the bones of a cooling cupboard. This was very common way of keeping perishables apparently before refrigeration was commonplace.IMG_5368This months view out to the oak tree. Amazing that the new leaves are so well established in such quick time. It’s almost as the last autumn leaf falls the new ones pop out. This tree is a great haven for birds of all kinds. It is hilarious watching the pecking order. First come in the lorikeets, then the corellas, rosellas, then galahs push their way in and then back to the lorikeets. Today, I caught a couple of Corella lovebirds up there preening over each other.  I just couldn’t live somewhere where there were no trees!

IMG_5425

 

 

 

 

 

A quickie.

Things are a bit all over the shop at the moment. I’m house sitting for my daughter while she is in Hawaii (tough for the youngies!),  and while I have access to a real oven I’m madly baking like a crazy woman. I’m getting a lot of basics done of stuff to freeze for the up coming engagement party of our youngest son. Starting with good old sausage rolls (400 so far), mini quiches (72 so far),  I have plans for my veggie rolls and will expand the menu selection to some more exotics as the day gets closer. I haven’t used a real oven for so long it’s quite funny, I  have burns on my hands where I’ve juggled baking trays and I’d forgotten about how hot an oven gets on its extremities. In between house sitting and baking, I did manage to get s new batch of mushroom logs inoculated at the weekend. My old logs are about 5 years old and yields have been very sporadic so replenishing this wonderful crop was overdue.

I purchased some spawn from Forest Fungi, this time I’m doing logs of both shiitake and pioppiono varieties. The shiitake have been very successful, so I’m hoping for great results again. The spawn come on pre-inoccculated wooden dowels that you insert into tree wood. The magic begins as the mycelium spreads throughout the wood and ends up producing mushrooms if the proper environment is met.

These are the packaged dowels, the white stuff is the start of the mushroom magic.IMG_5278 IMG_5280Tools at the ready, drill with a 5/16 drill bit, hammer (this little treasure is one my dearly loved dad made for me about 50 years ago!) and I dragged some cheese wax out of the cupboard where things are patiently waiting for me to get back into making cheese.IMG_5276Holes drilled 3-4 inches apart on the log, I’m using offcuts from prunings of our pin-oak and some thinnings of the english oak in the back yard. Hole is drilled into the log and a dowel inserted into the hole then tapped with the hammer till it is at bark level.IMG_5286The surface is then sealed with bees wax or in my case cheese wax to prevent undesirable fungi taking over the log.IMG_5290That’s it! I’ve put the new logs into their new home, labelled with a coke can I cut up and will keep them damp and humid for a few months. The logs then have a soaking in a bath and with all being good, mushies will appear. The logs on the right are the old hosts, see how much they have aged compared to the newbies. The old logs are as light as anything. definitely was time to renew!

IMG_5309I’ve got much more to report but will have to wait until next weekend once my daughter has returned. Love this Spring weather I must say!