Horse Chestnut tree-never heard of it!

We are preparing for planting out the front yard come Autumn.

Front path

We are lucky enough to have a great local business who can help design and source plants for your garden. We are pretty ok with the design concepts and ideas, but knowing what plants are available that are suitable for the hot, dry, low maintenance area out the front that will give the look and feel we want, is where Katrina from Katrina’s Garden has been a great partner to link up with. Katrina has some some great ideas and we are making a list of what to purchase ready for planting at the start of Autumn when the weather is not likely to fry things, yet the soil is still warm, enabling new root growth to establish the plants. By Autumn, we will have had time to prepare the soil and there are a couple of large camellias we are needing to move from the side garden to the front that will require machinery to dig holes. Don’t want to run over new young plants when we do this!

There is a tree in the front yard we only ever notice when it is in flower. It reaches up to within the branches of the big pin oak and Katrina has advised it is a “Horse Chestnut” tree. She did comment that we are lucky it is protected by the pin oak as well as a massive blackwood and a  beautiful, very old, fragrant camellia or it would be a monster! This photo is looking back to the ‘horse chestnut’ tree from the side gate. The blackwood is on the right and the camellia under neath.

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The pink flowers are obviously attractive to birds and I spied a wattle bird dipping into the flowers, taking it’s fill. Wattlebirds are prolific this season.

Wattle bird

We are continually amazed at how many birds we are getting into the garden compared to the first season. With all the planting planned for out the front this will only increase the bird life. Nature is indeed a wonderful thing.

Last weekend before our Gardivalia open garden, quite a few last minute jobs to do!

 

 

Pork buns, shed bases and birds.

Shed Bases.

With our extension/reno scheduled to begin later this year we are going to be in an interesting position with management of a few things such as having a laundry and cooking area, storage and generally keeping things manageable while works are under way. We decided to have an extra garden shed put in place which will be used as storage for the mower, camping stuff and lots of shelves will be incorporated to take boxes that may need to be stored until they can come back into the house. We’ve sited this shed at the back and will be able to screen it almost completely with planting. Added bonus is that it will screen neighbouring properties.

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We are lashing out and having this shed installed, something we have never done before but the cost is reasonable, it means it will be done and dusted and our list of jobs is so long it just seemed sensible.

Birds

We love having native birds as part of the garden. When we first came here there were no birds apart from sparrows and the dreaded Indian mynah, we have been gradually increasing bird attracting plants and every day we are thrilled by our feathered visitors who are increasing rapidly. This morning I was mesmerised listening to a magpie who was sitting and ‘chatting’ away just outside the bedroom. I found this magpie video of a warbling magpie that captures it beautifully, I could listen to them for hours. Along with bird attracting planting we are ensuring we have water available for birds, bees, lizards and every other ‘critter’ that is welcome. here. We are establishing an area in the back corner that I have labelled as the ‘bus stop’ and Mr ATMT is currentLy working on. We bought a cast iron bird bath that will be positioned centrally in this area. The bricks we claimed from the neighbours garage when it was demolished are slowly being integrated into the landscape.

CAST IRON BIRD BATH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buns

This morning I picked some lemon grass, spring onions, broccoli raab and I had some cabbage that needed a purpose. There was some pork mince in the fridge that also needed using so with these all being a good base for asian dishes I thought I’d have a go at making steamed pork buns. We have dumplings quite a lot so something a little different was appealing. I have never had steamed buns before and had no idea what to expect.

I made a filling of pork, cabbage, ginger, spring onion, char sui sauce, chilli and garlic and made Pork bun dough using this recipe.

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The dough worked really well, I was happy with this.

Pork bun dough

Divided into 16 pieces which I filled with the pork and ginger filling,

Pork Buns

Into the bamboo steamer on a small piece of baking paper and steamed for 15 minutes.

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No idea if this is how they are supposed to look but they were as light as a feather to pick up and to eat. Served with some soy and sweet chilli sauce, I wish I’d been bothered to make a proper dipping sauce, I think it would have made all the difference.

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From the photos I’ve found they look pretty much like they should. Any pork bun experts are welcome to give me their thoughts!

Back to work tomorrow, I need some motivation!

 

 

Weekend Wrap

Leave it!

It’s about this time of year we get fed up with the leaf litter and do a major clean up. Even though there are more to fall, it gets a bit out of hand. Everywhere you look, leaves, leaves and more leaves!

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They get piled into one spot and this week I will be mowing them to chop them up a bit and making a couple more leaf mould bins. The chopped leaves will be layered with lime, manure, some greens and mature compost. Wrapped up for 12 months then the resulting leaf mold will be spread onto the garden beds. This acts more as a soil conditioner than a fertiliser and I love watching the process take place.

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We hadn’t seen this area for months!  The before shot is on the right above. There has been the fire wood that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago dumped here, the trailer stored and then the leaves started falling. I’ll bet by tomorrow it will be covered again!

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Some more work was done on thinning out the  ‘spooky’ area out the front,

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Compost and coffee grounds are collected from work, I even have the cleaner bring me in spent coffee grounds from her husbands bakery. I’m sure she think I’m nuts, she’s probably right! Great for the worm farm and compost bins though.

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We have ordered another garden shed and started marking out where it will go. We will need every bit of space possible when the back of the house comes off when the extension starts. Had to move a couple of plants, hope they cope with this! I really like the way this bed is coming together, hard to imagine just 2 years ago it had a revolting old bungalow here.

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I finally cracked it about my tiny little oven! As good as it has been, I had to take something to work for morning tea last week and it took me over 2  hours to cook a standard size batch of mini muffins as I could only fit a small tray in to bake so it was done in succession. I’ve been trying to think of ways around this for a while but the problem has been that it doesn’t matter what we bought, it would have to be moved/disconnected when the kitchen reno begins. That seems a little extravagant and wasteful so I have bitten the bullet and bought an LPG gas pizza oven that I hope will pretty much function as a normal oven. I have set it up on the side verandah along with a temporary light and table. This area should (in theory) work well and when the building works start I can move the oven anywhere. As I write this, my first loaf of bread is in cooking. Bit nervous about taking the lid off the dutch oven! I can’t believe the delight it brings being able to put a pot in without having to take the knob off first so it can fit in!

I’ve just been out to remove the lid, temp up to about 230c and loaf looks pretty good so far. Might be a challenge learning to manage the temp control but I can cope with that. I could actually take the lid off the dutch oven without having to remove the whole pot. Yay, progress!

The loaf I am testing this week Is Josey Baker’s ‘Your First Sourdough Loaf’, I wasn’t that pleased with the way the dough was behaving so I might need to make some adjustments because of the whole-wheat flour I am using. I have a bag of Callington Mill organic whole wheat and it seems to take up less water  than other whole wheats I’ve used.

Drumming my fingers in anticipation for the timer to go off……………. Drum roll please!

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I’m pretty happy with that! Think the temp might have been a bit too high for starters but it smells great, I am looking forward to tweaking and learning how to use this oven more effectively now.

 

 

 

 

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!

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