In My Kitchen December.

Well the month started with a landmark birthday for me so to celebrate we headed to Echuca on the Murray River to take charge of a houseboat for 7 nights. Myself, Mr ATMT, my 3 sisters, brother-in-law, our 2 closest friends and our 2 sons (interchanged throughout the week) spent some lovely hours doing absolutely nothing apart from eating, swimming, drinking, dozing and playing games. Unfortunately our daughter couldn’t make it as they were in Hawaii and were delayed getting back.

Brittania on The MurraySunset starting to roll in.img_3539 Most nights we just ate, played games, had a few drinks and did lots of laughing while the cockies squawked loudly around us.img_1243

In My Houseboat Kitchen.

We ate like kings! Unfortunately I seem to have waylaid a few photos but I can share the Finnish Flaxseed Sourdough load that was made from the recipe Francesca over at Almost Italian had posted, this loaf was delicious and I have been requested to make more and more and more. The recipe was spot on which always makes me happy!

Finnish Flaxseed Sourdough

I had packed some basic supplies and ran a mini ‘how to’ session for making sourdough. The house boat had a gas oven that wasn’t all that good at keeping in the heat so it needed some assistance. You do what you have to do!oven-doorThe loaf actually turned out pretty well considering, but I have had a bit of experience cooking in a dodgy or even without an oven.bread-on-boatWe had a butterflied lamb leg that my sisters purchased at the sensational butcher in Yae. The meat from there was some the best I’ve had in a very long time, roast BBQ’d lamb, lovely fresh asparagus and salad and we were happy campers on a boat.

roast-on-houseboatI was blown away by this lemon & ginger cheesecake that my niece made and was brought along by my sister as a surprise birthday celebration. It was delicious and I kept sneaking a piece every day when no one was around.img_0131-001 I took a batch of Glenda’s orange muffins as these have become somewhat addictive for us. I had made and frozen them to take, they really last the distance very well. Not sure what made me place it on the BBQ to take a picture of, but here it is, looking back at the Murray River before it gets gobbled up.img_0184-001 Before we left I made a batch of sourdough croissants with the intention of taking them with us.img_1161They didn’t make it away and they were delicious!Sourdough croissants Finally In My Kitchen back at home was the making of the Christmas pudding. As is tradition at our place, whoever is around has to have a stir for luck. Look who I found! I’m loving having our grandson around, you turn into complete idiots entertaining him and I love every minute of it!

Pudding stirring
Pudding stirring

Thanks to Liz over at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things who takes the time to link us all together for these peeks into what goes on in other kitchens.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Christmas and holiday season. I’m pretty excited about having a kitchen to entertain and cook in this year! 🙂 

 

OMG – Shiitake and Asparagus Carbonara Gnocchi

All weekend, as I was showing people our shiitake mushroom growing area, I was keen to pick the 2 big fat mushrooms that were well and truly ready, but thought better of it as they do look pretty impressive sitting there growing out of the oak logs. These 2 pics aren’t of the current logs, I forgot to  take a photo of them, but these are of the ones I had at our last house.

Shiitake sneaky!
Shiitake sneaky!

Shiitake 5The two mushrooms had grown so much we were concerned they may have hit the ‘too far’ point but we went ahead anyway. Tonight’s dinner was going to be potato gnocchi with a shiitake and asparagus Carbonara style sauce. Along with the shiitake I picked some asparagus, a big spring onion,  some parsley, found a couple of eggs, and I bought some light cream and bacon to add to the sauce. While the potatoes were baking in the oven at 180c, I prepared the Carbonara style sauce.

Shiitake mushroomsThese mushrooms were very big, slicing them was like slicing steak!Shiitake MushroomsCarbonara style sauce

This is for half if using 1kg potatoes as as I froze half of the uncooked gnocchi

  • About 500g of mushrooms sliced. Our 2 shiitake weight about 350g and I added about 8 normal mushrooms to the mix.
  • 3 rashers of good bacon or similar sliced
  • 1 onion or a couple of spring onions whites chopped.
  • Couple of asparagus spears cut into 3cm sections
  • S&P
  • 4 garlic cloves (more or less as you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 300ml container light cream (can’t bring myself to write ‘Lite’)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • handful of Parmigiano Reggiano (I bought some excellent parmesan while in Melbourne)

Method
Into a pan drizzle some olive oil and when hot add the bacon and onion, fry until transparent.

Add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms and allow to cook until softened.

Add the white wine and cook off for a few minutes

Add half the cream and simmer, don’t allow to boil.

In another small bowl mix the egg yolk, rest of cream and the handful of parmesan. Rinse the cream container out with a little water and add to the sauce.

Let sit until just about ready to serve. Make your gnocchi.

Make your gnocchi.

1kg is of hot baked potatoes (I used Gippy gold but desiree would work well)

4 egg yolks

200g plain flour

pinch of nutmeg

S&P

  • While potatoes are still hot remove skins and put potato through a potato ricer or food mill. If none of the above, mash or even grate but don’t add any liquid.
  • Turn onto floured board and very gently mix in the flour, egg yolks, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
  • Gently bring the dough together but DO NOT overwork it. If it is extremely sticky, back of with the mixing but gently incorporate some flour. Err on the side of caution, too much flour = golf ball gnocchi!
  • Divide dough into about 6 pieces and roll each pice into a long piece as you would if you were rolling out play dough and cut each long pice into little pieces about 2.5cm (1″) in size. If you don’t have gnocchi paddles you can skip this bit but if you do it is a nice finishing touch to run the pieces over the paddles to create indentations that collect the sauce better.

Shaping GnocchiI picked up my paddles when in Melbourne. Place the shaped gnocchi on a tray or cloth that has semolina sprinkled over it until ready to cook. Have a big pot of salted boiling water ready!GnocchiI only cooked half of this mix tonight, I have frozen the ‘ready to cook’ gnocchi for next time I get the urge. For cooking, divide into smaller batches of about half or a quarter and add to the boiling water. When the gnocchi rises to the top of the water it is ready.

Turn the heat back on your sauce, set to low. Add the asparagus and remaining cream, cheese, egg and nutmeg mix, stir through. Very gently heat while gnocchi are cooking. DO NOT BOIL!

As the gnocchi pieces come to the surface of your pot, scoop them out, drain lightly and add to the sauce mix. Repeat until all gnocchi is cooked.

Serve with chopped parsley, I was a little too over zealous tonight (you could stir this through the sauce) and some extra parmesan if desired.

GnocchiThis was undoubtedly the nicest gnocchi and sauce we’ve had in a very long time. The shiitake mushrooms have a delicate flavour but they add such a great meatiness to the dish. By blending both varieties you create both flavour and texture. Very enjoyable!

Catch up post. Kombucha among other things.

Well it was time to do the taste test! My first batch of kombucha had been bottled for a second fermentation which I had read creates better carbonation, 2 bottles with some ginger added and 1 plain.

KombuchaI had read that kombucha can be pretty explosive on opening, so I decided to do this outside. Good decision!img_9281This is the trail of exploded KB over the side path. Haven’t seen something like that since the kids were home and had partied hard! I probably should have taken heed of the people who recommend refrigerating the bottles before opening. I’ll take that on board for the next batch.kombuchaThis what remained in the bottle after the explosive opening.Ginger kombuchaI can say though, I loved the flavour. The slight ginger overtones were wonderful and it was bubbly and refreshing.

For a wander through the patch.

It feels like an eon since I’ve played in my veggie patch, probably because it is. We are opening again for the food gardens section of Gardivalia this year so I had better pull my finger out and get things in order.

AsparagusThere are signs of life coming from the asparagus bed,Crimson broad beansthe crimson broad beans my brother-in-law gave me look so pretty,Broad beansand the normal ones are in flower too.coriander growingWhen I was sorting out moving stuff from the temporary kitchen to the new kitchen I threw some old coriander seed into this bed and hopefully it will keep growing. I don’t have much luck with coriander so fingers crossed.De la mal maison roseThe souvenir de la mal maison climbing rose I planted last year near the green house is in bud. I can’t wait to see these bloom, one of my favourites.leaf mold compostI spread one of the  leaf mold towers we had breaking down for the last 12 months over this bed, I now need to choose a spot for the next one to be placed. So easy just removing the wire and spreading the lush conditioner over the bed.

BREAD

I’m finally getting a handle on how the new oven operates and made some oat porridge bread. Here is the oats cooking (on a real stove top!) waiting to cool to add to the dough.Oat porridge breadThis one of the 3 loaves I made. I used the recipe from the delightful Maurizio’s site and although once again, it’s not as pretty as his. I’m quite happy with the result. Oat Porridge sourdough breadCrumb shot! Not as fine as Maurizio’s but I didn’t mind.Crumb shot oat porridge sourdough.With spring in the air and me officially finishing work I hope to be able to get a bit more in control and do some finishing off of all our half started jobs.

Sourdough sharing, garden and exteno update.

It has been great to be able to share some sourdough loaves with our friends at their social gatherings over the last couple of weekends. Home-made bread always seems to go down so well!

After being away for 5 weeks, it took a couple of days to re-invigorate Phoenicia (my pet name for my starter) into action by feeding her twice a day, she was back in form and rearing to go after 3 days. Good sourdough culture is pretty resilient and strong and can easily be revived after quite a long time if it has been kept refrigerated. IMG_8423-002With this dough made of 80% bread flour and 20% rye flour, I made an assortment of loaves to share and 2 loaves for ourselves.IMG_8433 I have quite a few people ask how I manage to bake the bread in a barbecue. It has taken quite a bit of experimenting but I seem to be coming up with some fairly consistent loaves these days. This cold weather does mean a lot of watching as there is a massive amount of heat loss in the barbecue. It then leads to over-tweaking which can lead to easily burning. It is usually only baguette style loaves I do in the barbecue as they just won’t fit in the ‘toy oven’.

I shape the loaves and prove them on a couche (heavy linen cloth but you can use a T-towel) until about 30 minutes before baking. Barbecue is then turned on, I light the two outside burners on medium and the 2 centre burners on low. I have a large floor tile over the hot plate and grill rack to diffuse the heat and an old cast iron pan with hot rocks in it which will be used as a steam injector when baking. These 2 loaves are ready to be slashed/scored and baked.

IMG_8442 They then go into the barbecue on a little rack to lift off the really hot base and I pour about a cup of water over the hot rocks to create steam then close the lid. The 2 middle burners are now turned off, just the 2 outside ones remain on. These 2 loaves were cooked for 8 minutes then turned and the outside burners turned to low, then cooked for a further 15 minutes.IMG_8444This is the Sunbeam barbecue I use, it’s been a great workhorse for about 10 years.IMG_8443 Finished loaves included, an olive, chilli and cheese loaf, a rosemary baguette which I sprinkled sea salt on top of mimicking Carol Fields’s ‘panmarino‘ yeasted loaf which I baked last year. 2 plain baguettes and 2 crusty 900g loaves. This is the basket of goodies ready to take to a party.IMG_8450Things obviously didn’t stop growing while we were away! This is my garlic bed which has had self-sown poppies decide to take up residence. I thought I eliminated these last year but obviously not.IMG_8418-002 Now that’s more like it!IMG_8421I found a couple of giant celeriac which I’m yet to cook. I hope they aren’t too woody, they may end up frozen and used as stock flavouring if they are.IMG_8419-001In the greenhouse I was greeted with loads of cheery rocoto chillies so these along with  a couple of red capsicum, were turned into some Turkish red pepper paste. I’ll let you know how that goes later!IMG_8414 I was very concerned that my precious oyster plant had croaked it but I notice some new little shoots appearing. This must be a perennial, I can’t find much info on the internet so if anyone can share their expertise I would love to hear from you.

IMG_8416The eucalyptus caesia (silver princess) turned on a beautiful show for our return. The wattle birds are loving this tree.IMG_8412-001and what a delight seeing some cheery jonquils in flower.  IMG_8408It is nice to be home and to get back into the exteno for its final stages. Floors are now done so kickboards can go on, bench tops in this week, architrave and skirting boards ordered, painter booked and most exciting part is I can organise for the oven to be delivered. Ironic isn’t though, our son, who is our plumber left the week before we got home to go on his 12 week honeymoon. One day the planets will align.FloorsIt is lovely to be home!

In My Kitchen – January 2016.

Welcome to 2016 where a very busy year is staring us straight in the smacker. To start the year, we have a grand baby due to arrive (literally any tick of the clock), a wedding in February, hopefully a working kitchen soon after that and a holiday to Greece and Turkey in May. I’m also hoping to hold some sourdough bread workshops once we have a kitchen, so I’m trying to wrap my head around the best way to present information that is most useful to participants. Thanks to Maureen over at Orgasmic Chef who has kindly taken over the co-ordinating of In My Kitchen while Celia has some ‘being gentle to herself’ time.

I’ve had a peek at a few other IMK postings and I can definitely say I’m not going to wow you with delightful Christmas goodies and gifts. In My Kitchen this month is very down to earth and some may even say “boring”. Never mind, here’s what’s In My Kitchen this month regardless.

Harvests:

Cucumbers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, beetroot, capsicum and in a couple of days there will be corn. We are chook sitting for our son, so I think I will have to turn some eggs into pasta over the next couple of days.

Egg Cucumber HarvestI love pickled cucumbers so I made some bread and butter cucumbers (not sure what the difference between the two is). I have been using this recipe that I found over at Liz’s Suburban Tomato Blog  and it’s a winner. Bread & Butter CucumbersPickled beet and cucumbersI also pickled some beetroot using this blend of pickling vinegar. This was enough for 500g of beets.

    • 750ml malt vinegar (can blend types to suit)
    • 400g caster sugar
    • 2 star anise
    • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns

Boil all together, let cool then strain and pour over cooked beets that you have sliced or cut to desired shape and size and packed into sterilised jars, seal. Let mature for a couple of weeks before using. I really like the flavour of star anise with beetroot. Served with some feta or add greek yogurt, blitz it and you have a delicious dip in a matter of seconds.

Garlic.

I’ve followed a tip from Francesca at ‘Almost Italian‘ and this year not plaited my garlic harvest but just bundled the heads together and hung them. This was so much easier than plaiting and I think they look pretty good! I have not bought garlic for years now and I just love having it on hand knowing it’s been grown with no chemicals, no bleaching agents or sterilising agents to reduce the chance of it sprouting on the shelf. Nearly 100% of supermarket garlic is imported and the growing conditions are very questionable.

Garlic harvestAs well as this stash (it should last 12 months) I have kept enough aside for planting. I usually plant in March. This is much earlier than many recommend, but I have had great success since doing so.

Garlic for plantingWe have been picking tomatoes since mid November. Most have been from the greenhouse but they are now coming in from the wicking beds as well. We have to pick as soon as they get a slight blush because the birds are onto them like a flash if we don’t.

TomatoesI have about 15 compost buckets on my kitchen table. I take responsibility for collecting the compost bin from the staffroom at work  (sadly, I don’t have to compete with anyone for the privilege of doing this). I bring the bin home, add the goodies to the compost then usually forget to put the bin/bucket back in my car to take back to work. I’ve given them all a good scrub and airing and they are ready to be returned for the new year. I really wish I could create a swell of enthusiasm among others on staff to be more involved in sustainability and waste management, but there just isn’t any interest or sense of purpose  for doing so at all.

Compost binsClean out the fridge soup! There were many bits and pieces that were getting close to needing to be used or piffed (compost only, not rubbish bin) and as the weather was nice and cool today I made soup. This meant I could use up some celery, pumpkin, sweet potato, stock, and turkey that were sitting in the fridge. I added a stubby of passata,  some potato, my favourite zing szechuan (sichuan) pepper  and served the soup with some sliced chorizo I had grilled, flat leaf parsley and some of my ‘Maurizio’ sourdough

IMG_3585that had been grilled, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and rubbed with garlic.

Clean out fridge soupHappy New Year to all fellow IMK’rs out there and to any new participants. I am really looking forward to see what 2016 will bring to everyone.

Post Christmas Musings

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?

Back Yard Xmas EveSome 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.IMG_3479 Smoked trout served with assorted sourdough crispsIMG_3477 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.IMG_3496 I made some vegetarian ricotta, feta, kale and chilli rolls, wrapped in filo pastry and served with sweet chilli sauce.

IMG_3497A 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!

Chick pea dip 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.IMG_3474 Some mini chicken tikka kebabs served with a vietnamese style dipping sauce.IMG_3489 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.

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Shade cloth overhead

I also hung some netting on the north facing side of the bed to reduce the impact of the afternoon sun.

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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.

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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!

Pollinating tomatoesThere are still a few raspberries to be found if you look hard.

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The grapes are going really well, looking forward to those.

IMG_3529Tonight 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!

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Tomorrow it’s back into the reno I think!

 

 

 

Celia’s Pork Meatballs

Now that we are in the final countdown for the open garden weekend, I thought it would be good to have a couple of things at the ready to offer our helpers. I had taken a shoulder of pork out of the freezer on Wednesday with a plan to make some sausages for a BBQ but just ran out of time. As chance would have it I was reading through my blogging friend Celia’s blog and found she had a recipe posted that was taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book ‘River Cottage Everyday. The recipe was titled ‘Tupperware Chorizo and I thought if I made some meatballs, cooked them up and packed them into the freezer in meal sized serves they could be a handy standby meal. Sausages can wait for another day.  This was a delicious dish! I’m not sure if I followed the seasoning correctly as my hay fever was so bad I could barely read Celia’s recipe. They were quite spicy but not too much so. I sautéed  an onion in a little olive oil, added the meatballs and a stubby of my tomato passata, served topped with a little greek yogurt, some coriander and served with rice. Very nice. I just hope if I got the seasoning wrong I can redo it wrong again next time!

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The small shoulder of pork was a little over double the  recipe and it gave me the chance to test drive my new Ankarsrum mixer’s meat mincer. Oh my, compared to my old one this is heavenly. Whipped through the meat so quickly I was amazed. Didn’t have to cut the meat up into tiny little bits and I went straight to the small mincing disc first up. On my old one you had to start with big sized hole and progressively reduce the size of the disc.

Ankarsrum meat mincer or grinder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flipped the machine back up and all the mince along with the rest of the recipe (plus I added an egg) went into the mixing bowl to mix it all together. Next time I’ll get smart and mince the meat straight into the bowl. Loving this machine!

Ankarsrum mixer meatballs

I made some Annabel Langbein brownies for a friends birthday, so I made a double batch and have them stored away too. The recipe called for all dates and I only had a handful so substituted prunes and added the zest of an orange. Gave them a nice jaffa flavour. Didn’t get a photo but they were beautiful! It will be lovely when I can cook in MY NEW OVEN. Yes, decision made, deposit paid and I will stop stressing. Now I just need a kitchen to put it in! I won’t have to do this anymore. Yep, do what you have to to make it fit!

Baking tray bent to fit I’ll even be able to put in 2, 3, 4 or even more. Wee bit excited! Thank you to Dave at Warragul’s sensational foodie shop String & Salt. We went to a Falcon Oven demo there and were blown away.

I think my well worn toy oven (Sunbeam pizza Bake N Grill) is experiencing some oven dementia. Maybe it senses it is about to be replaced. Is there such a thing as oven karma? Does it know we’ve paid a deposit on a new one.

I made another nut loaf in the search to find a recipe that matches what I remember as a kid. Glenda at Passionfruit Garden gave me a few leads but I’m still searching. I used this recipe Date & Nut loaf and after 40 minutes it was still raw, went another 30 minutes, still wet so went another 30 minutes and it was close to cooked. I am amazed it looks as good as it does and I had to taste test it of course, quite good. Into the freezer for this too!

Nut loaf

I can honestly say when I invested the $90 or so on the toy oven 2 1/2 years ago I had no idea it would be so good or that it would cope with me churning out a couple of hefty loaves of sourdough every week.

Sunbeam pizza bake and grill oven

 

On a completely random note, while the pork shoulder was defrosting in the fridge, it somehow was dislodged from its thawing container and as I cleaned out the fridge, I couldn’t help but remember the horrible scene from the Movie Carrie. Does anyone else remember that? Still gives me the heebie jeebies!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRWHDmCJ5mo

Gardivalia Open Day is just around the corner! Join us.

As I have previously posted, we have entered our back yard garden in the Gardivalia food gardens section this year and the opening weekend  is October 24th and 25th. That’s the weekend after next. I’m pleased to say I’m not doing my usual control freak panic (yet), quite happy to just let things evolve, ensuring a few crops are growing and that it presents well. It’s more about showing how you can relatively easily create a sustainable garden, manage it organically and use good design to ensure things flow smoothly and minimise unnecessary work. It’s about showing how far we have come in a couple of years and I must admit it’s giving the many locals who have been concerned that the house was going to be loved, an opportunity to have a look and rest assured it’s in good hands. Here is a preview of how it’s shaping up.

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The asparagus has been producing some great spears, this bed needs mulching. The thyme growing around the water feature has proven to be a great addition. Bees love it, it’s great to have for picking and it bounces back after a ‘hack’ with the hedge shears.

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The apple tree on the junk fence is in flower. Some baby figs developing too. That’s very exciting!

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The broad beans are in flower and I’ve seen bees in there. Hopefully we will see young broadies showing soon.

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This shot below is from the gate into the veggie patch.

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IMG_9284This photo was taken from a similar position August 2012, my post about it is here. It shows the asparagus bed when started and mentions my plan about having the wisteria acting as a frame around the greenhouse. It is getting there!

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I hope the mushrooms will perform for the opening but nature will dictate that. I’ll work with nature every time.

As you look around……………… click on this for a little more information of how and why we have created this  food garden. Come along on the 24th or 25th October and introduce yourself. Should be a great day!

With the balmy weather shining on us this weekend, it was a good opportunity to sit under the mulberry tree and enjoy a casual lunch. I know, the dip in the plastic container is not good. Just didn’t have chick peas on hand to whip up some hummus. Better stock up!

Casual Lunch

 

 

In My Kitchen-October 2015

I have been playing with my new Ankarsrum mixer and can happily say, I love it! This machine is very different from ‘normal’ mixers but it is amazing. Every timer I turn it on I learn something new and enjoy it more.

Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam & Lime Cordial for linking fellow IMK’ers together. I always love seeing and getting ideas from other food lovers from all around the world.

So this month, In My kitchen I’ve,

Ankarsrum juicer

been juicing oranges. We are getting to the last on the tree, they are so juicy and tasty and I am so happy that we seem to have converted the performance of the tree since we have moved in. The juice press on this machine is great, saves my dodgy hands from a lot of pain!

duram semolina pasta

There is also lots of fresh pasta. With an abundance of eggs from the girls, pasta noodles are a great way to use them. It has been a bit of a learning curve getting the dough consistency right, but I’m happy with the latest results. These noodles are made using 85% plain flour and 15% durum semolina wheat flour and eggs. Nice! I used these noodles to make a creamy mushroom, roast fennel and asparagus pasta dish.

Mushroom, asparagus pasta

I also made some ‘real’ chicken schnitzels. The crumb is made from sourdough bread crumbs with fresh herbs, lemon zest and pepper. How can anyone think the things sold in delis that resemble love hearts understand what a good schnitzel is really like? I did read somewhere to use one hand when doing the flour, egg, crumb process. Good idea!

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I have also been making sourdough baguettes, trying to conquer managing the temperature control for baking in the gas pizza oven.

Sourdough baguettes

I have also played with using sourdough discard for making pizza dough. This is a container with discard of both white and rye starter that I mixed with flour, olive oil, a little salt, flour and water to get the right consistency. Not the greatest pizza dough but still tasty and better than going into the compost!

Sourdough discard

The pizza was had a basic topping of tomato passata, onion, mushroom, capsicum, olives and a little cheese. One has salami as well.

Sourdough pizza

We are hoping to commence our reno within the next 6 weeks, I’m a little nervous about that, who am I kidding? I’m really nervous about that. I can’t wait to share the results in future In My Kitchen posts. Thanks Celia and other In My Kitchen Story contributors.

 

Gardivalia 2015-We’re in!

October in West Gippsland is the month when gardeners, would be gardeners and just lovers of gardens have the opportunity to visit properties throughout the Baw Baw Shire. Gardens that are opened up for the public to visit and learn from. Food gardens, formal gardens, native gardens, permaculture and community gardens as well as events, forums and workshops being available for people to expand their knowledge and develop friendships and networks. This event is Gardivalia and I’m excited! Yep, check out garden Number 13, Around The Mulberry Tree. That would be us.

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I’ve entered Around The Mulberry Tree so that we can show people  what you can achieve in a relatively short time to get a food garden established.  Wicking beds, chooks, shiitake mushrooms, permaculture concepts, composting, worm farming, fruit trees, berry growing and greenhouse gardening are all part of our garden. The importance of thinking through the design and demonstrating how you can use recycled materials and creating habitat for birds and bees is also part of our garden. This is only the second season the vegie patch has been constructed and we want to show the development of it and the garden over the next few years, so this is the benchmark. Excited as I am, it’s a bit like having to clean up before you have visitors! I want to make sure we present in the best possible light, so there are a few jobs to do before our open garden weekend.

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We transplanted a couple of standard roses from the front yard to frame the entry to the patch. They were just in the wrong spot out the front and should do much better here. This area has compost bins, a worm farm, potatoes in the bath tub, garlic growing beside the chook shed and there will be bee attracting flowers bordering the beds.

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I’ve transplanted the rhubarb from the garden beds to the veggie patch, these pavers will be filled with toppings, herbs and bee attracting flowers will be planted in the bordering spaces. I’ve planted climbing peas on this frame near the compost bins,

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and these sweet pea seeds have been planted near the berry house. I soaked these overnight then left in damp newspaper for another 2 days to hasten the germination.

In the greenhouse I have a range of cuttings that hopefully will be established enough to sell at a little plant stall on the weekend. I have tomato seedlings starting, poppies and other flowers seed ready toppling out. I will definitely need to give this a sort out!

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I always perform better with a deadline and this is certainly one I look forward to meeting.