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.

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

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.

 

Piesties, Sourdough, Pain & Shit Shuffling

Please forgive me for the expletive in the post title, but there is no other way to describe things so accurately. With the back half of the house about to be removed (so I can have my long-awaited kitchen), we have a shed full of ‘stuff’ that will surely be used some day, and lots more ‘stuff’ that came back here from the property we sold at Fish Creek, I decided all we were doing was shuffling shit to different spots. OVER! Time to make decisions and get rid of ‘stuff’ that is most probably never going to get used by us. So now that we have the new little shed up,

Black Shed

and are shuffling stuff about, it is time to seriously cull anything we are never truly likely to use. Three different piles are being created –

  1. Get rid of by using either free-cycle, buy/swap/sell sites, op shops or tip
  2. Definitely should keep, in which case these items will go into the new shed
  3. Need to sort out and decide. This section includes tools and things we have acquired from others. I decided we didn’t really need 6 painting extension poles, so into the scrap metal for them! Most of this pile will probably go to the mens shed and tip I think.

It’s very exciting to know that we might actually be moving forward with this reno but I’ll hold my excitement in until it actually is underway.

Piesties, not a pie or a pastie.

I’ve given my Sat night dinner this title, it came about by starting to make shepherds pie from leftovers from our last lamb roast, I had cut the lamb up and stored it in a zip lock bag in the freezer.

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I’m not a big fan of Shepherds Pie as I like meat with a gravy to be encased in a pastry shell, or served on toast. Out of the freezer came a couple of frozen pastry sheets. I mixed the chopped lamb with onion, carrot, peas, rosemary, mixed herbs and a little (shut your eyes and skip this bit!) Gravox powder, purely as a thickener with colour, it is Sat night after all! I cut the pastry into squares that would fit into my tapas dishes and filled the pastry with the lamb mix.IMG_1525

The pastry was overlapped and at this point I decided to name them piesties as it looked more like a pastie than a pie.IMG_1527

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now here is the interesting bit! Yesterday, when I went to our great local fresh fruit and veg supplier  which we all affectionately call ‘The Spud Shed’, I got some purple potatoes (spuds).

Yes, purple. This not beetroot, it is a potato.Purple potatoes

I was keen to see how they cooked up and wondered if they kept their purple colour once cooked. I’ve grown purple beans and they turn green when cooked but had no information about how purple potatoes behave. I had an inner giggle when I pictured having purple mash on top of our Shepherd Piestie so thought I’d give it  a go. But guess what?

Purple Mashed PotatoPurple potato stays purple when cooked! I made this mash by boiling the spuds as usual and when cooked added some goat cheese, S&P and milk. I loved  it but Mr ATMT preferred the standard white mash in top of his Piestie. I sprinkled finely chopped rosemary on top and served with tomato relish. Beautiful flavour.

IMG_1532Pain-too much of it.

To all of the people I care about  who are dealing with awful situations (and there are just way too many) including death, long term physical impairment, diagnoses that are not positive and loss. I wish I could offer you a magical way of just washing all the pain away but sadly I can’t.  I can only offer support, love and a helping hand if you need it. Please ask,  it is sometimes a tonic to us both to be able to help.

Sourdough

I think I have just about worked out the idiosyncrasies of my new gas Pizza Oven. This weekend I tried 2 different styles of sourdough. One was Josey Baker‘s hearth sourdough but I used rye rather than whole wheat starter. This loaf was the first one I cooked in my new Sassafras La Cloche bread baker. Very happy with the result too.

I also made Chad Robertson’s basic country loaf. Im finding this is becoming a well loved staple. I make it using 80% bread flour & 20% rye flour mixed to about 68% hydration. Just always seems to work! I like that. The photo below shows from L to R Chad loaf, peek of the ‘La Cloche; behind the Josey Baker Hearth loaf and on front another loaf of Chad’s.

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I have a few issues with the bottom of the loaves getting a bit overcooked but I think I have a solution to that. Stay tuned!

This week, my first phase of cutting back on my work commitments begins. Mondays are now MINE! I have reduced my hours and will continue to do so as some very exciting times are ahead of us.

 

 

 

Goat Curry, Pulled Pork, ganache and….

I haven’t ever cooked goat before, so when we were at the Dandenong Market last week I could not pass up buying some ‘goat curry’ cuts when I saw it. I knew I wanted to try it either as an Indian curry or as a middle eastern tasting dish so onto the internet. The first recipe I found when I googled was Rick Stein’s Goat Curry so that was that settled. I love Rick Stein, haven’t made many of his dishes but he just seems like a delightful man.

We weren’t disappointed at all. I thought the flavour might be a little light on because there is minimal spicing in the recipe but no, it was delightful. Served with rice, greek yoghurt and some of the leftover flour tortillas from Fridays Lunch.

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Friday’s Lunch

Let’s just say one of my better lunches! Pulled shoulder of pork made with a rub of salt, cumin and Garam masala, . Before I went to bed Thursday I chucked it into the slow cooker on low with a cup of stock, some onions, garlic and star anise. Removed from slow cooker about an hour before serving. I served this with a simple tomato salsa made of tomatoes, capsicum, black pepper and spring onions and an asian flavoured slaw salad that was really nice. Some Annabel Langbein flour Tortillas that were used as wraps, some plum sauce and tomato pickles on the side as well. Was really lovely, tasty and light.

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Dessert was not so light! Brandy snap ‘shells’ with chocolate ganache, quince that had been slow roasted for about 7 hours with sugar, cinnamon and star anise. A plop of double cream on top, yummo.

Quince brandy snaps

I resisted having another serve of this for breakfast so I compromised,

Banana, ganache sourdough

Sourdough toast spread with ganache and mashed banana. That is better for me isn’t it?

Seasons are Turning. GSC March

I’ve missed doing a post for a few Garden Share Collectives (GSC) recently, just can’t seem to make the deadline! Thanks to Lizzie at StrayedTable  for co-ordinating all of us home growers showcasing what is happening in our plots.

Harvests at the moment. What else? Tomatoes, tomatoes and yes tomatoes! I say that bit it has generally been a pretty average season. Also capsicum, cucumbers, grapes, zucchini and mini eggplant. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to planting full size eggplant. The ‘finger’ variety suits us well. There are a couple here left, centre.

Tomato harvestThe capsicum crop has been the best in years, yet I haven’t had much success with chillies that  are usually mounting up by now.

IMG_9815I discovered what an invasion of white cabbage moth on the capsicum growing in the greenhouse so a dose of Dipel was in order. Dipel is an organic pesticide derived from Bacillus thuringiensis. I’ve used this successfully in the past and I must admit I love seeing the little critters fall to the ground!

IMG_0116Yet again the value of using exclusion bags on crops as they mature has been proven. This shot shows tomatoes, some in the protective exclusion bag and one that didn’t have the protection. See how the birds ruined the tomato? Little buggers are even attacking green tomatoes this year!

IMG_0110I’ve started seed for kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts and cipollini onions. Hope I haven’t left it too late for the sprouts!

IMG_0124Time to gear up in preparation for the onslaught of autumn leaves that have already started to shed from our English Oak. This is a massive task. Will need to spread the 4 different compost piles I did last year and reset them ready to fill this year. This photo was taken last year and I love it. Quite look forward to seeing these pretty colours!

IMG_4643Head over to the Garden Share Collective and see what other gardeners are doing.

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Backs, Bread, Brunch and Bountiful harvests.

Since we moved in to the ‘new old house’, the only kitchen workspace I’ve had has been the table. I’ve found this really causes my back grief because it is so low and I have to work in an unnatural position.  I’ve recently been moved to tears with the pain while working, so when we were at Ikea (which I survived with no panic attack!) and I saw this kitchen work trolley I just grabbed it. I can’t believe the difference it has made. I can now work comfortably and without pain. It also doubles as a great space to keep some of my bread making ‘stuff’. Wish I’d thought to do something sooner! I’m pretty sure this will also be able to fit in easily when we build the extension and new kitchen.

Ikea kitchen trolley IMG_9819

Dough on left is a light rye, one on right is a basic white. I made the batch a bit bigger than normal so took a bit from each and have done a twist.

Twist loaf

Interested to see how it goes. Shouldn’t take to long to prove with todays weather.

Speaking of backs, we really tested our metal yesterday when we collected an antique kitchen dresser that I bought on Ebay. The place we collected it from was spilt level and the driveway was so steep Mr ATMT wasn’t game enough to back the trailer down as it was wet and we may have rolled right into the sellers garage. We had attempted to get hold of  a piano trolley to assist but this didn’t pan out so I grabbed a skate board from the lost property cupboard at school thinking it might be handy. Good move, it was. The man selling thought we were nuts (perceptive) but it worked brilliantly. Once we got up the 5 split level steps we whizzed that sucker straight up the driveway on the skateboard. Seller was gobsmacked! This unit is 2.4 metres tall and VERY heavy. I’m hoping to restore it, get rid of the high gloss polyurethane finish and bring it back to a much more natural state.

Antique kitchen dresser
Sideboard Dresser antique 1920’s colonial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had thought one of the first things I would do, would be to replace the door handles but then I saw this,

Wooden door screws

These are handmade wooden screws and door knobs. Think I might just see how they clean up. Very special find!

Harvesting the bounty

The tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and capsicum are in full swing now and some of the tomato varieties I planted to test and compare are quite interesting. I’ll do a separate post on different varieties in a few weeks.

Harvest

This photo shows a few, the varieties and some of the weights I’ve been averaging from them are: Top Centre going clockwise-German Johnston 314g, Tigerella 65g, Periforme abruzzese 350g, Black krim 265g, Russian purple 40g, Big Beef (beautiful) 402g. In centre, money-maker 60g and yellow pear 10g. Not sure what’s happened to the other 4 varieties I planted (San marzano, Hungarian Heart, Gross Lisse and Amish Paste but they are not behaving. Some of these are planted into the garden and don’t receive much sun so they may take a lot longer.

Tomato varieties

 

Mr ATMT loves this time of year with all the tomatoes and one of his favourite breakfasts/brunches include tomatoes and bacon cooked together. I prefer my tomatoes just lightly grilled.  I made this today and served it on toasted sourdough along with a poached egg and grilled mushrooms. Yum, yum, yum!

Tomatoes and bacon

Taking it easy today, think we exerted a bit too much energy moving that dam dresser yesterday. Gee I hope its worth it!

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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!

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Warragul Farmers Market!

The weekend started magically with me having my monthly visit to the Warragul Farmers Market to stock up on some of the sensational organic and locally produced providence that is showcased there.

Wgl Farmers Market

The market celebrated their 1st birthday this weekend and it has just grown from strength to strength since its inception. I always think a good market not only offers great produce, but it creates an emotional link within the community. People develop relationships with traders and other community members, they come together to chat, relax, share stories and take home some wonderful things. A feel good experience! This market offers all of this, set in a beautiful location, music by local artists, activities for the kids and some of the best produce Gippsland has to offer!

Warragul Farmers MarketI really look forward to my visit to this market to see what will jump out and ask me to take it home. Some of my favourite and highly recommended traders are, Thorpdale Organics, Gippsland Mushrooms, Mirboo Pastured Poultry, the Apple lady (I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know from where but I always buy her apples!), and after tasting Jindivick Hydroponics tomatoes they are up there too.  Although I didn’t buy  as much as I normally tend to, I came home with some lovely tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, apples and a warm heart. Some of these went into a carbonara style pasta using our home grown broccoli, snow peas, broad beans and herbs, added some of Thorpdale Organics eggs into the sauce and voila, a fresh, mostly organic and made with love dinner. Thanks Warragul Farmers Market!

Carbonara

Flour woes

I reverted to using the ordinary old ‘organic bread flour’ in my sourdough this week and it just cemented how good the flour I brought back from Callington Flour Mill in Tasmania is. Dough hydration was 75% but this flour just doesn’t have to ‘guts’ to cope with that much water so it’s a very wet dough.  I used a portion of the dough into a ciabatta style loaf and will just keep my fingers crossed for what I expect to be a very flat loaf with the rest. Looks OK, smells great but it’s too early to cut to check if I’ve got those lovely big ciabatta holes in the crumb. Time will tell. It is amazing how much variation there can be with flour and protein levels, water absorption and general structure. Back to the Callington Mill flour next week!

Ciabatta sourdoughWe spent most Sunday at the Traralgon Poultry Auction. That was a new experience indeed, not sure if I’d relive it, but it’s something new I can say I’ve done! My son and his fiancé wanted a couple of chooks to include in their backyard so off we went thinking an hour would probably knock it over. WRONG! Finally, a long 4 hours later, they did manage to secure 2 lovely little chooks, not sure of variety but I think there is some Rhode Island Red mixed with maybe some Australorp in there. They have obviously settled into their new home well as I got a message from D&A with a photo of 2 eggs. Pretty impressed and happy they are! I get a real sense of calm knowing that all 3 of our children, grow things, cook things and love fresh unadulterated produce.16112014Got the fence around the veggie patch fully painted/stained, I’m really pleased the way the stain has made the fence blend in with the old hard wood. Bit hard to see here cause of the shadow, but the patch and chicken coop are now really looking integrated.IMG_6372

IMG_6375 Nice weekend indeed. Hope you enjoyed yours too!

Lucky I like parsnip!

I pulled the entire parsnip crop on Sunday because I needed more space for tomatoes. I am really chuffed with the results, most are a pretty good shape and a decent size. They probably should have stayed in longer to develop some more, but, oh well…………….

IMG_6189 The oddly shaped ones will go into one of my favourite childhood foods. Carrot & parsnip mash! Just boil carrot and parsnip until mashable, drain well add salt and pepper (I like heavy on the pepper) and a good dollop of butter. Mash or give it a stick blender whizz and it’s done. The better shaped ones here will go in with the roast lamb I’m cooking from the recipe posted by Kylie over at  Town Mouse Country MouseParsnips cleanedOnly problem is that It’s hard to fit the joint and the veg into the ‘toy oven’ so I cooked the veg on the barbecue on a cast iron pot.Roast lamb Jamie OliverWorked out OK but unlike Kylie I wasn’t that thrilled with the gravy. I was having a bad day and even spilled olive oil on my keyboard while reading her recipe! Presentation is pretty ordinary too but the lamb tasted great! Our parsnips, our broccoli, our thyme and parsley in the rub.  All clean, fresh and full of flavour. This is why we do these things!Roast lambOther weekend jobs in the garden were, pulling the first of the garlic to make room for even more tomatoes. Looking great, another couple of weeks will really make it shine I think.Italian garlicThe berry house was out of control! First time I’ve been in there since the spring growth started, boy, things had gone ballistic! IMG_6173I found some baby grapes on the grape-vine. This variety is a slip grape we got from a man who used to supply Mr ATMT with winemaking grapes and it also makes a great table grape. First time its fruited so I’m a bit excited really.IMG_6175 Couldn’t see or get to the strawberries because of the growth of the raspberries. A bit of jute, a couple of bamboo stakes, some judicious trimming and its back in control in there.IMG_6178 As I was collecting the trimmings to go into the compost I realised I was about to waste a great resource-vine leaves. Fresh, organically grown and no blemishes at all. Gold! I will use these to make some dolmades and there will be enough to preserve a few as well. Glad I came to my senses before they hit the compost!IMG_6204

Not this year birdies! These blueberry plants are about 7 years old and I think we’ve picked about 10 fruit at the most. We have however been tagged as an easy target for the birds who love them. Not any more, tonight I covered several with my exclusion bags in the hope they will ripen and we will reap the rewards.IMG_6220 IMG_6236Today is remembrance day in Australia, a time to reflect and remember our soldiers from all the wartime conflicts we have sadly been involved in. The Flanders poppy is a symbol of remembrance day developing from its association with poppies flowering in the spring of 1915 on the battlefields of Belgium, France and Gallipoli, this vivid red flower has become synonymous with great loss of life in war.

I didn’t plant that variety but I did grow from Diggers seed “Poppy Ladybird” and it’s very pretty as well as fitting to watch and reflect on remembrance day.Ladybird Poppy

Lest we  forget.