A quick whip around the patch.

I haven’t done a post for a while on what’s happening in the veggie patch/garden. This is most likely because I haven’t really been doing much out there. With us now being into the third season of establishing the garden, we are finding that it is much more about maintenance rather than building new areas. We are still working on developing paths, contemplation spots and have yet to start tackling the front yard so it won’t be all sit back and relax for a while yet.

Peeking into the greenhouse.

I have a couple of sugar baby watermelon seedlings that appear to be happy and growing well. These may just take over the entire greenhouse!

Sugar baby watermelon
Sugar baby watermelon

One of last years capsicum has over-wintered well and is throwing flowers with some baby caps appearing, this is much earlier than usual.

Capsicum flowering
Capsicum flowering

I have taken some cuttings from the perennial Rocoto chilli and these seem to be quite successful. I’ve used the method similar to planting laterals that are removed from tomatoes that grow so well.

Rocoto cutting
Rocoto cutting

There is a flower on the mature Rocoto Chilli. It was very rude and wouldn’t look at the camera!

Rocoto flower
Rocoto flower

Out in the Patch

The flowers on my Souvenir de la malmaison rose have suffered badly from the excessive amounts of rain we have experienced but it is growing nicely.

Souvenir de la Maison Rose
Souvenir de la malmaison Rose

I have however, had some good results from the roses in the laneway but I didn’t get a good photo. The lilac is magnificent! First time flowering this year and I am in love.

Lilac
Lilac

This years garlic crop is looking terrific.

Garlic 2016
Garlic 2016

The shiitake mushrooms are giving the best yield in quite a few years. I think the high rain and humidity is just what they demand.

Shiitake
Shiitake

I have some baby figs, YAY!

img_0045and some baby apples.

Apple babies
Apple babies

This button lettuce is proving to be a lovely variety. It is working well as a ‘pick as you need’ lettuce and bounces back quickly. The silver beet and kale behind it is all that remains from the last planting. I need space for tomatoes!

img_0059In the berry house, the raspberries, loganberries and thornless blackberries are all flowering profusely.

Berry house
Berry house

and the grapevine is starting to cover the climbing frame on the roof well with lots of grape clusters evident.

Grape vine
Grape vine

I have some pretty little daisies that bees and hoverflies just love and it is making me smile every time I see it.

Happy daisies
Happy daisies

All in all, it’s looking pretty good.

img_9909I trimmed a lot of the parsley stalks that were threatening to seed, picked some lemons from our new tree, found some beetroot I didn’t know about (too woody for roasting but I think it will be ok as a dip), some new potatoes, some self sown garlic, mint and herbs and we had enough to throw into a salsa verde for tea.

Harvest pickings
Harvest pickings

A  peek in the new bedroom.

I have decided that I will now continue working in one room at a time and it will be completely finished before I move onto the next (please remind me of my pledge when I stray). We always seem to fall into the trap of saying “we will get back to that” and it takes a very long time to get back, but no more. I am absolutely going to follow through on this! This is the new spare (guest) bedroom that was part of the exteno. Painting is almost finished, carpet is booked for laying,

img_1023We have rehung the old kitchen door on this room and that needs to be repaired and painted. Mr ATMT did the skirting in the robe space this afternoon so that now needs painting. I absolutely love this colour. The walls are Taubman’s Raincloud and the ceiling and trim is Dulux Classic White. img_1024 I have almost finished painting the window and it is looking great. The radiator that was in the old room before demolition has been cleaned and polished. This was pain, one of those jobs where you use a knitting needle with a cloth over the end to get into all the little nooks and crannies but worth it.img_1022I am already becoming aware while I write, that there will be one unfinished part of this room and that is internal fit out of the wardrobe. We will use a set of the shelving units we had in the temporary kitchen  I think. They are really good and will leave some options for the final design.

What jobs do you leave until you put the house on the market?

Making do in the kitchen! Hot air balloon flight-Tick!

I have not been that motivated to do much since we returned from our holiday in the balmy summer warmth of the Mediterranean. I’d never understood why people head to warmer parts over winter, but I can now see why.  One bright and sunny thing we have going on is that our oranges are ready for picking to give us a daily serve of juice. These oranges are sweet but with a degree of tartness which I like to give you a bit of a zing.IMG_8488With the imminent move into the new kitchen, I’ve been trying to avoid shopping for much, as we will soon have to move everything from the makeshift kitchen to the new kitchen (never thought it would happen!). This means the fridge and freezer will need to be cleaned out and defrosted and all pantry items sorted through and some culled. So there has been a few “make do” meals happening rather than throwing things out. Breakfast today was sourdough pancakes with maple syrup, lemon and sugar, fresh juice and a lovely cup of tea. Didn’t use much in the way of pantry surplus, but it did mean I could use the sourdough starter that would normally be discarded. These pancakes are always so light. To make the batter I use approximately 1 cup 100% sourdough (SD) starter, about 3/4 cup of SR flour, a generous tablespoon of sugar, one egg and enough milk to mix to whatever consistency you prefer.IMG_8491Our first breakfast in the almost finished new family room. The pancakes look a little wonky but were fine.IMG_8493As I work through using (or chucking) anything in the freezer that should go, I’ve found that the ‘toy oven’ put on a very low setting is a great place to start the defrosting process. The item then goes back into the fridge to avoid contamination as it completes the defrosting process. I have some lamb chops defrosting on the top of the oven here. I also ran out of my normal bread flour so I am using up whatever is to hand. This Italian flour was used to make a loaf scored to resemble a sunflower about to open.IMG_8480It is quite pretty, not necessarily like a sunflower, but pretty. Sunflower loafThe chops were grilled with a pomegranate molasses glaze. I served them with leftovers of a dish I made earlier in the week. Stuffed eggplant (vegetarian), a red pepper burgul salad and some obligatory mash. Sadly the chops were as tough as old boots! The rest however was  delicious.IMG_8495 It is that time of year where we are inundated with oak tree leaves falling. This is one of the collection points from last year where we had added manure, grass clippings and other organic ‘stuff’ throughout the year. What is in the barrow is the result, beautiful black, crumbly compost. I emptied this bin and re-assembled it for collection of this years leaves. Once it stops raining I can start re-filling it. I do run the mower over the leaves to  hasten breaking down.IMG_8478

Holiday snaps – Hot Air Balloon flight, Goreme Cappadocia.

I had thought that on our return I would be very organised and would carefully put together a series of posts in correct sequence of our journey across Greece & Turkey but I just haven’t, so I’m randomly putting up a few shots. These are a few of our hot air balloon flight across Goreme Cappadocia. It took quite a lot of self-help to get me onboard and I am thrilled that I did. Being among 90 hot air balloons up in the air at the same time was amazing. I was fine once I had clipped the safety harness on, which alleviated my fear of jumping out. Over at Almost Italian, Francesca has just posted about preferring to look up rather than down. I know we’ve touched on heights before but I am so pleased (and chuffed with myself) that I overcame the doubt and fear.

IMG_2649Sunrise in the sky at 4000 feet.IMG_7283Capadoccia hot air balloon IMG_7212 IMG_7225 IMG_7242 Landing. These guys actually pull you in and ‘park’ the basket on the back of the trailer. Skill levels and brawn that would astound you!IMG_7294I think I took about 400 photos during this flight. It is still too amazing for me to sort inside my head to work through which ones are special and why.

I may still get to doing a series of better constructed posts, I hope so for my own sake.

Countdown to Kitchen Lift off is imminent – IMK June.

Woo hoo! Very excited here at ATMT. After 3 long years of trying to sell our property at Fish Creek (Fishy), which is a quirky and delightful town close to our fabulous Wilsons Promontory (The Prom) on the southern tip of Victoria.  We have just had settlement, money is in the bank and we can now proceed in ernest with the reno at this ‘New Old House’. Very sad to be losing the association with the property that I ran as a self contained accommodation facility for about 12 years, but I want to put some energy into this project now. This photo is of the iconic ‘Fishy Pub’, famous for the fish on the roof!

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So, what is in my kitchen this month?

PLANS, PLANS, PLANS! Although we have been preparing for this time for a while, we didn’t want to get to bogged down with the detail until we knew how many $$$$ we had to play with. Massive price reduction to sell meant that what we could do here was affected.  Since we moved in (2 years) and while the Fishy property was on the market this place  has been listed as a Heritage Protected Property, so have had to go through planning approval for any changes. That’s all done, now we need to get final plans drawn up and the building permit issued. When that’s done, we are aiming to start in Spring, couldn’t handle no back half of the house in winter! If I was really optimistic, I would be saying things like I hope to have a kitchen by Christmas, but I doubt it. So consequently in my kitchen are plans and wish lists. I’ve been collecting pictures and ideas that will all be used for tips and ideas in the final mix. If you look closely, you can see a little  spot on the plans marked ‘Kitchen’!

PlansBecause I’m so excited, I got a bit carried away thinking about how I will be able to bake things like croissants, puff pastry, more than 6 sausage rolls and maybe even 2 loaves of bread at a time. My bench top Sunbeam Pizza Bake N Grill has done well, but gee, I’m over it! So, to assist in making all the lovely pastries I plan to make, I decided I needed a good heavy-duty rolling-pin. Probably should have checked the measurements first! The one I ordered online from Amazon is what I will label as my “2 & 1/2 wine bottle pin”. Love it even though it is a monster!

IMG_0966We are still on the quest to find some tea that was as delicious as the assam tea we bought while in India. Not having much luck but when in Melbourne last weekend we bought home a few to try. There are also a few  tomatoes that are trickling in from the greenhouse.

IMG_0969We went Melbourne to celebrate Mr ATMT’s 60th birthday last weekend (Post coming later) and I did the clean out the fridge “what can I use up to take as nibbles routine”. Quite amazing what you can throw together when you have to. These were the most beautiful marinated mushrooms I’ve ever had. Quartered the mushies, cooked in microwave for about a minute and a half. Meanwhile into a pan went some olive oil, about 6 garlic cloves and a chopped up chilli. Heated just enough to slightly cook off the garlic and bring out the chilli oil. This was then poured over the mushrooms, seasoning generously with salt and pepper, the lemon zest of  1 lemon and about 1/2 a tsp of the leftover Spicy Tibetan Sauce I made to go with the Rick Stein Curry I made earlier in the week. Into a container until we used them and they were beautiful. Shame the photo is fuzzy!

IMG_0940I also found some leftover lamb mince, so I threw this in with some chopped rosemary, onion, garlic S&P and an egg to make little meatballs. Served with my tomato relish they were lovely.

IMG_0944Some brownies packed to go with our cuppa, these were made using Annabel Langbein’s brownie recipe. Once again a never fail!

IMG_0951I’ve recently been reading a few different bread making books and currently have Ken Forkish’s Flour, Water and Salt  on loan from the library. Good read so far.  I’ve split ‘Phoenicia’ in half to make a rye starter as well as a basic white. She’s happy with the separation.

IMG_0973Well, I didn’t think I had much to report this month and yet now I feel like I’ve been waffling on for ages. Because we are heading into the wintry blues I thought I’d close with a shot of some of the vibrant colour we experienced in India.

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Thanks Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for your hospitality and generosity with the IMK community.

Chick Peas, Pulled Pork, Tortillas, Bread and Garden.

Yep, it’s been a busy weekend! I love it when you get to achieve everything you set out to, it is incredibly satisfying. It certainly helped that the weather was absolutely beautiful. After 10 days of non stop rain and misery the sky was blue, no wind and the temperature got to about 19 today.  This is my son’s dog enjoying the warmth as did we!

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I’d been feeling a bit under the weather Thursday and Friday so it was great that I felt energised and raring to go for the weekend. First up I chooffed off to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on some goodies. This market has developed well and even though we are entering winter, there is still a great range of produce and a really strong sense of community from every one who attends or sells there. I love it! I bought some beautiful organically grown carrots (see recipe later) and leeks from Thorpdale Organics  (forgot to take a pickie), organic milk and paneer from Miranda Dale Dairy, chicken from Mirboo Pastured Poultry, Eggs from WillowZen, who claim their pullet eggs are sensational poached. I’ll report back on that later! Apples (I always forget the business name but they are very friendly),  Mushrooms from Gippsland Mushrooms, Saffron grown in Mirboo, just up the road, chorizo sausages and surely something else! No need to go into those awful big ‘not so super’ markets at all!

With the shopping stowed away I spent a couple of hours in the veggie patch trying to bring a bit of control back into it. I hadn’t done much over the last few weeks and found it very therapeutic getting out there and getting stuck into it. I tweaked the area where last season I had put a bath to grow some potatoes. It is now a better use of space and gives me a spot to put a chair so I can just sit and contemplate. It also means the worm farm and compost bin are easier to access.

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Some gravel fill in between the pavers and some bee attracting flowers planted, it should come up quite well. I also gave the greenhouse a good clean up. I noticed there was quite a big build up of muck on the panels which would be reducing the mount of sun coming in. With the cold season I need to capture as much warmth as possible,  so some hot water, truck wash, broom and a good high pressure blast of water and it is back to looking loved.

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Belated Mothers Day Lunch.

We were in Sydney for mothers day, so the kids came home today for lunch. I was really happy with today’s  meal. I often don’t enjoy eating what I cook but thoroughly enjoyed these dishes. Eating while sitting out in the lovely sunshine consisted of:

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Spicy Pulled Pork– Pulled pork is such an easy and cheap way to feed a group. I put a pork shoulder in the marinade/rub  in the slow cooker pot Friday morning before I went to work, put in fridge until Sat night then turned the slow cooker on low and it was beautifully cooked by Sunday morning. I do cover the meat with some baking paper to keep it moist while its cooking. It just falls apart and is so juicy and tender.

Spicy Pulled Pork

The recipe had ‘Cebolla en escabeche’ (picked onion) as an accompaniment. The pickling being achieved by soaking onions in lime and orange juices. I didn’t have limes so substituted green lemon juice and it was fine. Love the colour!

Cebolla en escabeche

Last week when I was at Herbies Spices in Sydney we sampled a lentil and kidney bean dhal using his ready made blend. I bought some of the blend and used it to make a chick pea dish to go with lunch today. So easy, add some oil/ghee to a pan, add 1 finely chopped onion and soften, add 2 tablespoons of the spice blend and cook out for a minute or so. Add drained chick peas (2 X 400g cans), tomato passata (I bottle mine in beer stubbies so that would be 375ml), 1/2 the juice from the drained peas and cook until required thickness. I also threw in a couple of the last cherry tomatoes. If too thick, add a little water to thin. You can also add some yoghurt but I didn’t and it was still lovely. Served with coriander on the top. Beautiful.

Chick Pea Dahl

An interesting side dish  I made was a carrot and radish (turnip) salad only I couldn’t get radishes at the farmers markets so I used young turnips which have a similar spicy element to them. Put the carrot and turnip through the V-Slicer, took about 2 minutes to make. Winner-It was really nice!

radish and carrot salad

Home made tortillas, Annabel Langbein’s recipe of course!

Tortlllaswhich were used as a wrap for the pork, chick peas and side salads. Some greek yoghurt, bean sprouts and tomato relish as well and it went down really well.

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Lastly are a couple of photos of the pretty spider webs I saw when I ventured out early Sunday morning. Hope your weekend was as fulfilling as mine!

Gate cobwebs
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Weekend wrap.

Christmas thoughts.

I’m pleased to say that even though Christmas is about to hit us, all is calm, peaceful and smooth sailing  down here. I consider one of the best decisions we have ever made was to avoid the hype and marketing that goes with Christmas. We focus on friends, food and fun. I must admit that I am not a religious person and for a long time I struggled as to why we even have to acknowledge Christmas when we are non believers. I found it just too hard trying to explain to many of our ‘just because you should’ extended family, so I came up with my own justification that I use the Christmas period to celebrate family and friends and to reminisce. I am also a big fat sucker for pretty lights and I like nothing better than sitting on the floor staring into those sparkly delights. IMG_6682We decorated a tree this week and it was quite emotional. No kids live at home any more and they have pretty much cleared out all the tree ornaments with them. That’s OK, my plan was that they get a new decoration each year, then when they left home they would have enough to do their own tree. We are left with lots of broken balls, baubles without hanging hooks and tinsel that has lost most of it’s sparkle. We do however, have some beautiful memories, cards the kids made from kinder and early school years.20141214_194754books that were lovingly read in the lead up to Christmas and ornaments made with love from family and friends. Little knotted christmas bells that my sister gave me when our daughter was born 15th dec 1986, they went on her hospital crib and jingled around the ward for a few days. A decoupage egg ornament my niece brought back from America, a lead light decoration made by a family friend who has had long-standing mental health issues and I have no idea where  or how she is now. Especially nice are the few ornaments we bought way back when we were as poor as church mice and the only thing we could afford when we went to buy some decorations were pencil sharpeners. Important not forget how far we have come and the obstacles we have tackled to get where we are now.

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We went down to Monbulk yesterday morning to have a lovely catch up with friends and also managed to visit the Monbulk Market. Small market, but big on quality from what I could see. Our favourite organic vegetable growers Thorpdale Organics were there so I was able to thank Wendy and Tony for their ever consistent quality produce and outstanding service and wish them a happy festive season. I also got to sample some preserves from Grandmas Delights. Quite nice they were too!

We continued on to the Dandenong Market and returned with some pork ready for the next sausage making adventure, some turkish bread and mangoes. Summer is here for me when I start gorging on mangoes and this began in earnest today!

Outside wrap.

We (well, mostly Mr ATMT) finished fitting out the last wicking bed with its four poster poles. I can now train the tomatoes up the climbing twine and will be ready to fit shade cloth in preparation for the summer swelt that is bound to hit.

IMG_6695The plot where corn was  planted but had been decimated has had the chooks in there a few times this week to cleanse and I decided to put some diatomaceous earth in the drills with the new seed. DE is an organic product used for organic pest control management in livestock, poultry and agriculture. DE is a really interesting product and it would take far too long to cover its reputed benefits in this post so I recommend you do some research.IMG_6685Starting to get some decent harvests now. First tomatoes and capsicum were picked tonight, I also picked some very young butter beans. These went into a pasta dish along with some of the last of the broccoli, some snow peas, nasturtiums, asparagus and herbs.IMG_6703I made a pasta sauce out of sour cream, lemon juice, sage, S&P and some delectable pumpkin seed oil. This is an interesting oil that has the most amazing dark green colour and it adds a nutty overtone to the dish.IMG_6706 IMG_6708

Quite delicious really!IMG_6718Please take the time to enjoy your family and friends rather than get carried away with commercial activities this Christmas!

 

 

 

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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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.

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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!

 

The Ins and Outs of the weekend.

The in’s- In the kitchen.

This weekend’s kitchen round up includes, jerusalem artichoke Trial #3, new test for cooking sour dough, delicious breakfast in the (what may be one of the last opportunities) beautiful morning sun.

Jerusalem artichoke Trial number 3.

My nieces partner who just happens to be a damed fine chef, graciously shared a couple of recipes for JA’s. I was hesitant to share them but I saw the recipe for this on the website of Jones the Grocer as well, so figure it mustn’t be too secret! Link for recipe-

Jerasulem Artichoke Soup Recipe

This recipe has L’Orto di beppi marinated garlic in olive oil as a major ingredient. Jones the Grocer are the most likely to stock this, but the closest  store, Chadstone, is about 2 hours away from me and no way anyone down here is likely to have any marinated garlic in any shape or form so I improvised and roasted a full head of my garlic and mixed it with some olive oil and white wine vinegar. I love roasted garlic, it adds a really deep, mellow dimension yet still gives a good garlic taste.  No idea of the comparison to the listed ingredient but it tasted good to me! Other improvisations I made to the recipe are: I used my stock which is mostly vegetable based and darker, so the soup will be darker.  I made some ‘chips’ from a bit of JA as a topping garnish, I also toasted some beautiful, freshly picked walnuts my friend gave me (thanks Richard) and sprinkled these, some thyme and freshly ground pepper on top for serving. Toasted some of yesterdays sour dough, rubbed with oil and garlic and yummo! We have a winner! Still a bit flowery for me but really nice. Thanks Bec & A!

Jerusalem artichoke soup.

Playing with sour dough.

I have been fortunate to find a blog by an amazing woman who posts the most delightful, informative and practical ideas regarding everything she does with preserving, making bread and baking. Every post of hers I read, makes me feel like I want to jump up and give it a shot. Well Celia, from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, I have jumped up and given this a crack! With only having my ‘toy oven’ to use for bread baking I found the top was sometimes getting a bit dark due to the frequent kicking in and out of the top element. Celia mentioned she used a Falcon Enamel Cooker for cooking her high hydration (wet) doughs. My niece had also mentioned a couple of weeks ago she used an enamel pot for cooking her ‘faux sour dough’, synchronicity at large here, better get one! I divided the dough in half,Sour dough Proved the dough and one went into the silicon bread tin and the other into the new enamel pot.

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I wasn’t that confident that the pot would actually fit in the oven, perhaps I should have tested that first! Breathe easy, it fits! Interesting, the pot loaf is actually darker and flatter than the tinned loaf. Haven’t cut the tinned loaf yet but the pot one is fantastic!

Sour dough

Breakfast in the sun.

What better way to start the day than a yummy breaky consisting of everything bar the bacon & mushrooms coming from our kitchen and garden. The mushies did at least come from Gippsland Mushrooms. I discovered them at the last Warragul Farmers Market. Mushrooms were cooked in a little butter, added some garlic, white wine vinegar, p&s and a little stock. I also threw some kale in with them to take on the flavour. Couple of poached googies, toasted sour dough toast and a cuppa. All is good on the world! Should have wiped the dust off the table though.

Breakfast

The Outs.

Plantings:

I flew into the Yarragon market on my way to Melbourne yesterday hoping that John from ‘Herbalicious‘ was there, even though it was a bit before opening time. I was in luck, grabbed some borage I want to plant for attracting bees and use as decorative garnishes. Those blue borage flowers are beautiful, no wonder the bees want to stick their heads in them! I was very impressed with the quality and great range  of John’s stock, so hoped I would be back in time to have a better look. I was, also picked up some ruby mustard, miners lettuce (winter purslane) and chervil. Think I might just be getting quite a few plants here.

HerbaliciousAlso planted some spinach, leek seedlings, carrot and kale seed and stuck a few garlic cloves into some gaps in the garlic bed. This photo shows the dibber I use for helping plant so many things. It belonged to Mr ATMT’s grandfather and is beautiful in the hand. Every so often I give it a light sand and soak in oil and it jumps back to looking like new. I love using it and it is really nice thinking of Grandpa Cray, he has been dead for many years now and the blue lake beans I plant are direct descendants of seed I saved from his at least 20 years ago. Love that!

DibberThe broad beans are going ok but broad beans tend to flop and need support. I have placed some stakes at the corners of the bed and slipped some 100ml spacing wire over the stakes. The broad beans can grow through the wire and I can just move it up or add another level if needed as they grow. Especially good to prevent wind damage which broadies are prone to.

Broad Beans support Broad bean support

The cuttings I took from some sweet potato and the ginger root I’m trying to sprout are beginning to look more like they will work. The tiny little speck of green in the bottom right is the ginger.Sweet potato and gingerSomeone pointed out to me that you can take panorama shots on your phone. Well I’ll be danged, gave it a go and here’s my panoramic view around the patch. Might have to play a bit more with this function!Panorama

 

 

 

 

First jobs for the New Year – and the last of the last years!

I must admit to having a very lazy day today. Not from over partying the seeing in of 2014  but just because it felt right. I am going back into the office tomorrow which doesn’t fill me with glee. I have been really busy since school finished and it was the first time it just felt right to stop.

Some of the jobs I ticked off over the last couple of days in readiness for the new year are:

  • Mulching the citrus trees with manure and topping with spent hay to keep cool
  • Feeding citrus
  • Getting my espaliered pear tree a bit under control and headed the way I want it to.

Before                                                                                             AfterEspaliered pear before TLCEsp Pear after TLC

  • Succession planting of leeks, cucumbers, radish, lettuce and beans
  • Cleaning up the perennial cottage garden bed
  • Get the holiday herb pot going. A few years ago my sister mentioned they took a pot with lettuce and  herbs away with them and I must admit I thought they were bordering on senility! A few camping trips ago I had a glut of basil, parsley, lettuce and something else, so threw them into a pot to take with us. guess what I have been doing every camping holiday since! It’s amazing how much difference a few sprigs of fresh herbs can make to a camp dinner or breaky. Especially some fresh bruschetta with basil. Mmm, mm, mmmm. These should be ready for our trip in a couple of weeks.Camping salad herb pot
  • Mulching, feeding and deep watering the raspberries. I topped the beds up with bags of manure, compost and some pea straw. Rejigging the placement of the strawberry pots so we can actually get into the berry house is an improvement. Really happy with these raspberries in their first season. Adding all this feed now to boost resistance to drying out and to get root system really well developed.Berry house
  • Sorting out the worm farm and harvesting some worm castings to go onto the surface of strawberry pots above.
  • Pruned, tied and generally tidied up the 40 tomato plants I have planted. That seemed to take forever and it appears harvest will be late this year. Not a lot of young fruit developing yet. Plenty of flowers, so I am hand pollinating hoping to get better sets. Zucchini are not setting male flowers so I hope they get working soon or I won’t have any. I attempted pollinating zucchini with a male pumpkin flower yesterday, so that will be interesting!

    Big Beef (I think)
    Big Beef (I think). Name tags a bit muddled.
  • Yesterday I got onto the roof of the old stables in the hope I could pick some ripe mulberries that the birds had missed. Not a hope! But while up there I did take a couple of shots of how the yard is progressing. Things look so much different from above. Not bad seeing this garden is only a few months old!Aerial viewIMG_2287
  • I can remember reading or hearing somewhere that laterals removed from tomatoes can be replanted and they would grow new plants. I put this to the test a few weeks ago and voila! Really healthy, strong, new plants created. I might do this towards the end of the season and get some fresh plants for the greenhouse overwintering.Tomato lateral growing

Today I set about creating a better system for storing and tracking what seeds I have. Do I really have seed of 11 tomato varieties? How did that happen? I can now record what I get and when planting I can make sure I use the oldest first. I am going to set it up with an auto colour/shading formula so I will be alerted to old or approaching past best by times.

Seed Tracker

A lovely time watching the pretty little poppies dancing in the breeze today. Can even see some pollen flitting around on this one. Happy New Year everyone!!

Poppy pollen

More good food, more painting!

When I created this blog the main intention was to keep a diary of how our works were progressing with the renovation and in the garden. It has been a delightful added bonus that I keep discovering a myriad of new and exciting ideas for cooking, growing, lifestyle choices and every possible facet of living. I have also been introduced to a world of like minded people who are keen to share and support those with similar interests.  I am a pretty keen internet user and my work colleagues call me the ‘Google Queen’. The first thing I do if I have a question about anything is to ‘Google It’. I haven’t used a phone book for years, I find youtube great for learning new skills and watching how people do and manage things. Now if only we can ensure it is always used for good and not evil…………

Dinner Saturday night.

Thanks to Lisa over at the ‘Gourmet Wog‘ for posting her recipe and information about Lebanese Toum. I had never heard of Toum before,  but her lively description enticed me and having the ingredients of my garlic, our lemons, oil, egg thanks to our girls, S&P and a bit of water all to hand it seemed a breeze. I mixed the Toum with the Bamix, using grape seed oil and it was a great taste sensation.

Here we go!
Lebanese Toum ingredients-the egg yolk doesn’t go in though.

IMG_1879Served on a nibble platter with grilled turkish bread, grilled chunky and very meaty mushrooms, freshly picked asparagus (sadly not mine), roasted cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and cucumber. Mr ATMT  sat dipping the veg into the sauce for 2 hours and looked like he may hyperventilate if I removed the platter! Luckily we will both stink as badly as each other after such a hit of garlic.

Dinner Sunday Night

We seem to have fallen into a routine of using whatever leftovers there are from Sat night’s creation and rejigging them for Sunday nights dinner. With so many jobs to do with the reno it’s lovely to have a plan in place in advance. Last nights Toum recipe is traditionally served with chicken so I thought some chicken wraps with tabouleh, Toum and salad would be good. It was.

Toum and tabouleh chicken wrap

Outside

Spent a fair amount of time repairing, filling, gluing, sanding, undercoating and applying first coat of paint on the recycled cedar skirting boards that are going back into the bedroom. Will do a few coats while removed and once fitted will do final fill and paint.

Skirting painting

 

Does anyone know if these are Artichokes?IMG_1909 

I planted some tubers earlier in the year but can’t remember where, these are appearing and look too much like they belong so I thought they may the artichokes. Surely someone will know!

IMG_1905I’ve been struggling with the look of the chicken house being so obviously ‘new’, so I have been hunting for ways to make the timber appear a little more seasoned. I settled on using a stain by Intergrain which is apparently a Dulux product, colour I chose is charcoal. I’m really happy with the result and with a little weathering I think it will help the chicken house blend more in with the environment rather than sticking out like a pimple on a bum! It’s nights like this when we have really hammered away with jobs that I miss my japanese bath that we had at the old house. Oh well, there’s another plan to put on the list!