In My Kitchen September

What better way to spend an afternoon (that is absolutely vile), than sitting in front of the fire and catching up on quite a few jobs that can be done while sitting on ya bum? Thought doing an In My Kitchen quick post might fit the bill for this. Thanks to Sherry over at SherrysPickings for hosting IMK, she hasn’t been well, so do a post to give her something to read while she recuperates! Thanks Sherry!

Well I tried a new calamari recipe, this time it was Annabel Langbeins 5 spice salt and pepper squid from her book the Free Range Cook. I didn’t have any 5 spice made up so I just added a little bit of cumin, chilli and coriander along with the salt and pepper. Served on a salad of lettuce, capers, our oranges, tomato and a dressing made from greek yogurt, a blur of mayo  and lemon juice and it was a nice light tea. I never tire of looking at the antique dresser I restored and the spring flowers look right at home on it. I made a peel out of cardboard for loading bread into my oven that is the same size as my steel baking stone. This piece of cardboard on the right has lasted nearly a year but is definitely showing signs of being quite ‘past it’ so I cut out a new one. I had visions of buying a beautifully hand crafted wooden peel but the cardboard works really well, even when you forget to slide the loaves off it and put the whole lot, board  and all in the oven! My daughter has been making some bath soak for the little fella to help relieve his slight eczema. She blitzed oats and Calendula but it was a bit coarse so I’m running it through the spice grinder. It is coming out very soft and fine. Speaking of my daughter, she is due to have her second baby in a week, so I’ve been working on a crocheted bamboo baby blanket. This has been a beautiful project to work on. My hands will take a while to recover, but it has been worth every ache and pain it has brought about.When we first got the kitchen operational, I built a work board out of marine ply. This was for making pastry on, making pasta and gnocchi on, putting pots etc on, pretty much for anything that might cause damage to the timber bench tops and it has been wonderful. It was getting a bit dog-eared so I have given it a sand back and a new coat of Danish oil. This has been an absolute godsend to have! I’m continually working on testing and perfecting making sourdough croissants and these have probably been the best tasting ones so far. Need more proving time but we were having them for father’s day breakfast so they got baked before at their prime state. I’d love to know how they would have been of left another couple of hours as this crumb is pretty good when still not proofed enough!Finally as we sit and listen to the rain absolutely pounding down outside I think of the pretty spring flowers that are probably getting their heads demolished by the rain. This is why we need to appreciate things at the time we see them and not put off the pleasure of just enjoying them. Happy Spring to South of the equator and happy Autumn to those in the north!

 

Day of reflection.

With the high level of energy I have been expending trying to keep 2 houses that are on the market in control, renovating to make the new old house reasonable enough to move into when we do finally sell our home and getting the vegetable garden basics in place ready for this years planting, I felt a little turmoil rolling around in my head.  Today I have done absolutely nothing apart from wander around the garden at our existing home reflecting on how much we have done here over the years both in the garden, in the house and in raising our three delightful now adult children. When we moved into this home 23 years ago it was a big empty square with a lovely acer negundo planted slap bang in the middle of the yard, an old wood shed and lots of ivy and blackberries. Over the years we have gone through 2 dogs, about 20 chooks  (the last died a couple of months ago aged 17!) many lovely meals from the garden, happy times with friends and family and many water pistol fights. Here is a little of springs offerings.

 

 

Weekend of both taking and making stock.

We have been well and truly under the hammer for time recently with trying to sell two houses, (so we can make improvements to the new one) moving my mother-in-law who is down-sizing and trying to move forward with getting our new property fit for human habitation. That along with the ‘doldrumish’ style weather we are having I just felt I needed to try to take stock. I dutifully made a list of jobs that needed to be done and started ploughing through them, first up was to make the stock for the Vietnamese Pho I planned to ho into once the tasks had been completed. I knew at the end of the day I wouldn’t feel much like cooking so this would be a welcome sight to come home to.

I am trying a method I found on the The Steaming Kitchen Blog where a slow cooker is used to slowly simmer the stock. Makes sense to me!

       

Added some fish sauce and sugar. I also added a stick of celery because there was some in the fridge that needed to be used. Left simmering all day, happy in the knowledge I wouldn’t have to stress when dinner time came. Now to knock off those jobs on my list!

Note:Wasn’t as thrilled with this version as previous ones I’ve made. I don’t think the stock reduces enough in the slow cooker to concentrate the flavours. Was still a pleasant result though.

Tomato Seedlings-time to pot up.

The seeds I planted a few weeks ago have done really well and need to go into a more substantial growing medium. I have been requesting donations from people at work for used milk cartons, wine cask boxes and any other suitable container for planting the seedlings into. So far have I have achieved about a 95% success seed germination rate which is great.

Interestingly, germination has been 100% from my saved seed and the 95% comes from the newly purchased stock. Maybe the different variety has something to do with this.

Next on the list……………..

I’ve been driving around for a week with my car chock-a-block full of ‘stuff’ that we culled from my M.I.L’s house that needed to go to the Op-Shop. Boxes gripped tight, head down, eyes not veering away from the loading stage, I deposited all the treasures. Kept my eyes straight ahead and did not dare look around on my way out as I didn’t want it to just be an exchange trip where I left with my car full of different ‘stuff! Tick that one off the list!

Next…..

Time to check on how the things I have planted at the ‘new’ house are settling in. Spring is starting to show its cheeky grin and I am bursting with the hope that things will do well.

The Update on plantings there.

Raspberries:

Yep, they are doing nicely.

Asparagus:

     Tick to that too!

Spuds (Potatoes):

The potatoes are looking a little bit ‘leggy’ but I am not surprised with the lack of sun we have had.

Garlic and Broad Beans:

            

Going well, broad beans flowering and garlic on track. Fed the bed with some blood and bone and a couple of handfulls of ‘Rooster booster’ pelletised organic  fertiliser. Can’t wait to have a few of those beans with some butter, olive oil, garlic  and a grinding of black pepper !

Back to the list…………….

I have removed a wisteria from the house we are selling and replanted it near where the future greenhouse will go. I am hoping to train it over the old woodshed frame to give a lovely backdrop at the rear of the vegie patch. Just hope it goes OK. Make note to quickly replace asparagus bed border edge with permanent one, not likely to happen once growth is established.

Rhubarb:

Plant me, plant me! I dug up some of the rhubarb for relocation and forgot about it. Seems pretty good so that has just been ‘plonked’ into the general garden space and can be divided later if need be.

See the little shoot starting at the bottom of the basket?

The rewards!

I actually achieved everything I set out to do, plus some. Quite happy with that really, taken stock and made stock at the same time.

Feel like we are getting off the ground-literally!

Today was a big step forward, the first of the wicking beds was started and the electrician came to discuss the rewiring of the house. We have been in limbo since purchasing the property and not able to do much until some basic upgrades such as reblocking and rewiring have been done. Unfortunately these are high price tag items and have had to wait until cash resources are available. We have been diligently squirrelling funds to enable us to get the rewiring done as it feels quite unsafe in its current (pardon the pun) state. Raspberry bed is finished and I planted out sixteen hollyhocks that I have started from seed saved from last years blooms (Very proud of that!).

We decided on wicking beds for a couple of reasons, elevated for easy access, easy to bird proof, shade cloth or poly covers can be added to cool or warm the beds as necessary and watering can be easily managed. The theory with wicking beds is that they work on much the same principle as the self watering pots you can buy but in a specially constructed bed so that a reservoir of water is available to plants as they need it. Evaporation is minimised and watering is kept to a minimum. For more detailed information on the construction and use of wicking beds visit http://www.urbanfoodgarden.org/. There is also a wealth of information here for living more sustainably and growing food for the table.