Weekend with the lot!

This weekend was jam-packed with a variety of things. Had a great cello lesson (practice does pay off), got home to find my husband had made great progress with painting the lounge-room, I opted to work outside because it was such a lovely day and he was also listening to the cricket (I am probably the worlds most avid hater of sport in any form!).

Went for Dulux curd full strength for the bottom section to add a little more tone to the room. Happy about that!

In the afternoon I started putting together my new Sproutwell Polycarbonate Greenhouse, after a few technical hitches (mainly due to my approach) I was underway. This construction will take shape over a few weeks as I have to fit it in between other more pressing jobs.

Now to get these to turn into one of these !
Should be a cinch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to assemble the sliding door and window components, as well as the base so we can check whether we have to make some adjustments to where it is going to be located (and we do!). Next step is to get foundations set up properly and then it will be plain sailing till the final completion.

I often like to have a wander around our backyard (at the house we are selling) on a Sunday morning looking at all the bits and pieces in the garden and remember how far we have come with developing this back yard. I hope to be able to do this soon at the ‘new old house’.

Plenty of mulberries developing this year, such a beautiful fruit, tree and colour!

Time to do some bird protection!

Blueberries are becoming nice and fat and I can’t wait for them to ripen.

I have two varieties of blueberry, this is a much fatter fruit than the other. Shame I’ve lost the tags!
The smell of this transports me straight to tropics! Citrussy, Frangipani-ish, gardenia-ish and just beautiful-shame it doesn’t flower all year round!

 

Picked the last of the broad beans and a couple of beetroot. Not sure when I’ll get to process the beans!

I then moved onto the ‘new old house’, took a trailer load of scrap metal to the tip but also came home with an old frame from a sun shelter or such. The poles from these frames make good garden stakes and I just can’t see something go to waste!

I haven’t tried using beer snail bait traps for many years as when I used to put them out our dearly departed ‘Cossie’ the dog would quickly gobble up the beer. Poor old Cossie is no longer with us, so I’ll give the traps another shot. The snails and slugs in the potato bed are the worst I’ve ever encountered, I may have to think about borrowing a duck for a few weeks.

Probably should have used beer from a not so great batch of home brew rather than bought stuff!

Inspiration! Sat under the Mulberry Tree and had a beer!

Approx 30 years ago I moved from Melbourne to the West Gippsland, Latrobe Valley region and I have still not come to terms with the lack of fresh produce available. The wonderful movement that is gaining momentum across many regions with  farmers markets, fresh is best and limited food miles has been painfully slow in reaching here. The produce stocked in our local supermarket is disgraceful and it says a lot that people don’t demand better! As for stocking anything organic or that is produced by locals, forget it.  I only venture in there when absolutely desperate and tonight I wanted to add some zing to the hot potato salad I had planned and thought some nice chorizo would be ideal-should have known better!

Home made my giddy aunt! Who keeps that chemical stuff in their pantry?
Beetroot, broad beans, garlic, garlic stem, spuds, herbs, lettuce, silver beet. Bring it on!

Anyway, we ended up having a really nice dinner of a hot (warm) potato salad type thing. Part of the harvest  I picked today and needed to use was-some nice young spuds, silver beet, garlic stem, red onion, broad beans and some mint. I also had the amazing ‘homemade’ chorizo I purchased.

Method- Put chorizo on griddle/BBQ to cook, par boil spuds till a bit underdone, while cooking, chop up some red onion, green capsicum, mint, slice garlic stem, and finely slice some silver beet or spinach. If the broad beans need double peeling blanche and do this too (I don’t worry apart from really big ones). Put the onion, garlic stem, mint, capsicum into serving bowl ( I also had some ricotta spare so I threw that in too) and when spuds are at the ‘not quite cooked but very close stage’ turn off the heat and bung the beans and silver beet into the hot water with them so they just barely cook. Slice the chorizo,  drain the spuds, beans and silver beet and add to the serving bowl, top the salad with the chorizo and some more chopped mint if inclined, grind some salt & pepper and drizzle some good olive oil over (I used Splitter’s Creek Olive Oil). Serve with some sour cream on the side.

Very nice indeed!

I had planned to do a post on my 5 favourite garden tools but forgot to take any photos. Will keep that one for another day.

 

Small pickings

It really is very satisfying when things are at a pick-able size and you reap the rewards of patiently waiting and nurturing them into fruition . With broad beans now at their peak, I am trying to use them while they are still small enough to avoid the double peeling that larger ones need. Some of the beetroot is also ready to harvest and some young beets are following giving me  succession harvesting. Along with some silver beet, lettuce and young beetroot leaves there is a great base for a salad. I had to remove some rogue potato plants from a pathway so the young spuds were also put to good use. Fresh lemon juice, some marinated feta cheese and it was a great salad!

 

Potato, beetroot and broad bean salad. AKA Train wreck salad!

After a busy day at the ‘new old house’ I didn’t have much motivation for cooking but still wanted to enjoy the first pickings of our broad beans and beetroot. Inspired from a post I read on one of my favourite blogs – Suburban Tomato, I made a few improvisations based on what was available and we enjoyed a nice healthy, snack style dinner.

Ingredients I had were:

Handful of beautiful young baby broad beans freshly picked as I came in the back gate,

2 small beetroot, also picked as I came in the gate.

A couple of old kipfler potatoes that were about to be planted because of the shoots they were setting,

Some nasty supermarket bread,

Feta cheese I buy in bulk and store in oil with garlic and olives because our local supermarket only sells stuff that is like kids school erasers (actually I think it tastes worse).

Mint and some lovely macadamia oil.

At this point the beets were steaming and the bread was browning.

First up I put the beetroot into  a steamer to cook while I prepared the rest of the salad. I peeled, cut into small chunks the potatoes and zapped them in the microwave for 4 minutes. Cut the bread into crouton sized bits and placed into a dry pan to crisp up, once the spuds were out of microwave, I drizzled macadamia oil over them and added some chopped garlic which went into the bread pan so they could all brown off together. While waiting for beets to cook and potatoes and bread to crisp up I shelled the broad beans, cut some mint and sliced some beetroot tops finely. I crumbled the feta and sipped a glass of wine. When bread and potato combo was ready, I turned off the heat and just tipped the beans, beet leaves and feta into the pan to warm through from retained heat while I peeled and cut the beetroot. Added the beetroot to the mix, stirred all through together and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. Looks a bit like a train wreck but tasted really fresh, light and filled the hungry tum. Next time I would definitely use good bread for the croutons and probably serve them on the side.

I really wish now that I hadn’t been ‘nicking’ the young broad beans as they have been forming, as the taste of these, barely cooked, young, sweet, tender beans with the lemon juice was amazing-just weren’t enough of them in the salad!

Warm Chicken Salad

I always seem to have run out of steam when its dinner time and I’ve had a busy day at work. I like to keep evening meals really simple to prepare, not taking up too much time to cook and to be relatively healthy. As usual I don’t really deal in measurements, it sort of evolves around how much is needed and adjusted accordingly. Too much and it ends up in a lunch box, too little and we can always have an extra treat after dinner! This was tonight’s fare.

Chicken ( cut into short strips), put into a bowl and pour enough sweet chilli sauce in to give chicken a thin coating, stir through and sit till ready to cook.

The other things I am adding to this salad tonight are some onion bread crouton, crunchy potatoes, cucumber, seared cherry tomatoes, beetroot, feta cheese and some fresh herbs. As my bok choy has bolted (if anyone has any solutions to this I’d welcome them), I am throwing in a few leaves and a few of the thin stems. I will quickly throw them in with the chicken for no more than the last minute or so. This changes according to what is available, which tonight isn’t all that much!

I had baked an onion and rosemary loaf of bread on the weekend so used a bit of that to make some crunchy croutons. Cut bread  into whatever size you like, put into pan with smallest amount of olive oil and keep turning until they are nice and golden and very dry and crunchy. Put aside.

Spuds – Wash, peel and cut into small enough bits that they will mix through salad well. I just bunged them into the microwave (covered) for about 5 minutes, waited till steam had evaporated and put them into pan with a ‘plop’ of olive oil. Turn and stir until they have reached the colour you want. There is no reason why both the croutons and the spuds could not just go in the oven and do their thing in there while you prepare other items.

Toss the halved cherry tomatoes into pan that is still hot and cook until they just start to soften, don’t overdo it! Put them aside.

Add chicken to pan and start cooking it off, not too hot, not too cool. Stir occasionally. While cooking tear lettuce into pieces the size you like, slice up some beetroot, finely chop some herbs (tonight mint and oregano), crumble some feta or goat cheese, slice some cucumber  and green capsicum and put with the croutons and spuds. I actually like to put everything into a bowl or plastic bag and swirl everything around to make sure flavours have combined well. When chicken is cooked add this and turn through the mix.

Looks a bit ordinary at this point!

Turn everything out onto serving platter, top with some more cheese, herbs and maybe some spring onion. Really does taste quite tasty!