Winter doldrums so let’s get cracking inside!

Wow, the weather has been woeful here in Gippsland! Your wouldn’t venture outside unless you absolutely have to. So we didn’t! Breakfast in the lounge, looking out at the rain, hail and wind. Not inviting to venture out at all.



















This weekend has been a good opportunity to start preparing for when the back half of the house comes off. Forget the fact we haven’t yet got a date locked in, forget the fact we haven’t had council approval. I just had to do something that made me feel as though we are moving forward cause it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. I am over the stinky old kitchen cupboards so what the hell? Off to that very large green shed to buy a couple of shelving systems. These things are very handy and once the reno is done they will be able to go in the shed/garage or be sold. Makes life easier at the moment and I need that.

The spare bedroom that had a robe in it that we’ve used as a pantry cupboard, has had the robe moved out to store other crap elsewhere, the bookshelves that were useless have been removed and we have put two sets of shelving in. One as a pantry storage and the other to take most of what has been in the revolting kitchen.

Old bookshelves about to come out.


















Book shelves replaced by this unit. The cupboards on the left will be where my ‘toy oven’ and toaster, kettle etc will go while the reno happens.
This shelving unit replaces an old robe that had been used for pantry supplies. This stores about double than the old unit and you can actually see things!








































With these units set up it meant we could start removing some parts of the old kitchen. I suggested Mr ATMT hold back a bit as I’m not sure what gaping holes will be exposed if we just knock the lot down and with temperatures at minus 5 I’d sooner stay warm. We have a history of opening a bottle of something and becoming very creative with demolishing. As I age, I’m more cautious, so we’ve started with removing the doors and drawers first. Eeeew, it’s disgusting! The light is on in the ‘toy oven’ as I’m drying some of my sourdough starter as described by Celia. Seems to have worked pretty well. Why should I be surprised? Everything Celia does works well, she is one amazing lady!

IMG_1591 IMG_1592



































I still managed to do a couple of bread bakes. I made pumpernickel


and a couple of loaves of Chad’s Robertson’s basic country loaf. These are 30% rye, 70% hydration and I’m happy with how they have worked.


For dinner tonight I made lamb kofta using Rick Stein’s recipe from his ‘India’ cook book. Served with a yoghurt, mint and cinnamon sauce and some home-made chappatis, it was a treat to just sit in front of the fire and enjoy. I must admit I found it a bit daunting thinking about what we actually have yet to do at this place. I’m sure a bit of sun will make it all seem a bit better.



















I have to remind myself that this is meant to be a fun project, I’m not really feeling that  at the moment. I do however, know that things could be a whole lot worse, a reality I’ve experienced way too close to home over the last couple of weeks. Although I’m grumpy and frustrated I do appreciate our good fortune in relation to health and family. With a bit of luck the wind will drop, the sun will come out and I’ll be able to get outside tomorrow.



Paneer, Pears and Green Manure,

On my last visit to the Dandenong Market I bought a packet of Paneer cheese to have on hand when I felt the need to use it. Paneer is an Indian cottage cheese, easy to make but sometimes you just don’t plan ahead of time, so having some ready made is handy. One of my many favourite Indian dishes is Mattar Paneer (Mutter Paneer, Matar Paneer), but I have only ever ordered it at a restaurant or as take away. Mattar Paneer is a vegetarian dish with peas, lightly toasted paneer in a spicy tomato sauce base. Now was the time to have a ‘crack’ at making it. Took the bull by the horns and googled a recipe that I thought would be suitable and less than an hour later we sat down to a truly delicious version of Mattar Paneer.  Sorry photo a bit dodge! I followed the recipe pretty closely apart from using a ‘stubby’ of tomato passata as the tomato content, I wasn’t sure if they meant large or small green chillies, so I used 3 jalapeños and instead of all that heavy cream I did 2 greek yoghurt/1 cream. I was worried it would be a bit too spicy initially but it mellowed out to a beautiful smooth flavour. Definitely a do again recipe, Link below.

Mattar Paneer Recipe


Pear Tree

While doing a ‘tour of the estate’ last weekend I noticed my espaliered pear tree was looking quite strange on one branch. Notice the discolouration or purpling of the bottom branch?

Espalier Pear

Closer inspection led me to see the tiniest little piece of tie wire sticking out and I wondered it this in fact being ring barked from an early supporting piece of tie wire. It made me think of when as a kid you squeeze around your thumb and the blood is trapped making it look purple (or was I just a very strange kid?).

Ring Barked Pear Tree

Got out some pliers and manage to remove quite a length of wire. Bound the wound with some grafting tape and just have to hope I’ve gotten to it in time and don’t lose the branch. I think there is still some hope as there is obviously some sap getting through.

Green Manure Crop

The wicking bed I planted with a green manure cover crop a couple of months ago looked like it was ready to have the crop slashed and turned in. This form of organic manuring is beneficial in returning all nutrients back into the soil. It is a great way to add organic matter and ‘resting’ the bed in between crops. If legumes are in the mix a good source of nitrogen is also an added  benefit. This bed will also get a load of broken down ‘stuff’ when I clean out the chook house next week.

Green Manure readyTrimming Green Manure

Green Manure slashed and turned in

Other Odds & Ends-Jerusalem Artichokes

I planted a couple of tubers early in the season (or was it last spring?) had no idea what they did, how they grew or what to do with them if I got a harvest. I noticed a couple of tubers were protruding from the soil so took that as an indication they were ready to harvest. Quite a pleasant surprise when Mr ATMT stuck the fork in the ground!

IMG_4212 Jerusalem artichokesI now need to find out how to deal with them and have come up with a couple of different recipes I’ll try. Seems to be an underlying theme by experienced though, not commonly referred to as ‘Fartichokes’ for nothing. Stay tuned!