A quickie.

Things are a bit all over the shop at the moment. I’m house sitting for my daughter while she is in Hawaii (tough for the youngies!),  and while I have access to a real oven I’m madly baking like a crazy woman. I’m getting a lot of basics done of stuff to freeze for the up coming engagement party of our youngest son. Starting with good old sausage rolls (400 so far), mini quiches (72 so far),  I have plans for my veggie rolls and will expand the menu selection to some more exotics as the day gets closer. I haven’t used a real oven for so long it’s quite funny, I  have burns on my hands where I’ve juggled baking trays and I’d forgotten about how hot an oven gets on its extremities. In between house sitting and baking, I did manage to get s new batch of mushroom logs inoculated at the weekend. My old logs are about 5 years old and yields have been very sporadic so replenishing this wonderful crop was overdue.

I purchased some spawn from Forest Fungi, this time I’m doing logs of both shiitake and pioppiono varieties. The shiitake have been very successful, so I’m hoping for great results again. The spawn come on pre-inoccculated wooden dowels that you insert into tree wood. The magic begins as the mycelium spreads throughout the wood and ends up producing mushrooms if the proper environment is met.

These are the packaged dowels, the white stuff is the start of the mushroom magic.IMG_5278 IMG_5280Tools at the ready, drill with a 5/16 drill bit, hammer (this little treasure is one my dearly loved dad made for me about 50 years ago!) and I dragged some cheese wax out of the cupboard where things are patiently waiting for me to get back into making cheese.IMG_5276Holes drilled 3-4 inches apart on the log, I’m using offcuts from prunings of our pin-oak and some thinnings of the english oak in the back yard. Hole is drilled into the log and a dowel inserted into the hole then tapped with the hammer till it is at bark level.IMG_5286The surface is then sealed with bees wax or in my case cheese wax to prevent undesirable fungi taking over the log.IMG_5290That’s it! I’ve put the new logs into their new home, labelled with a coke can I cut up and will keep them damp and humid for a few months. The logs then have a soaking in a bath and with all being good, mushies will appear. The logs on the right are the old hosts, see how much they have aged compared to the newbies. The old logs are as light as anything. definitely was time to renew!

IMG_5309I’ve got much more to report but will have to wait until next weekend once my daughter has returned. Love this Spring weather I must say!

Food and fun.

This weekend has been lovely. Almost tea with my son and his girlfriend at their new home (no dinner because all the take-a ways were closed!). They are doing a great job giving a sad old post war weatherboard home a makeover. Three weeks in and it’s amazing what a difference some cleaning, pruning (major) and TLC can do to a house. Lovely seeing them looking at things from a different view as owners rather than taking everything on face value as normal. We then spent some time on our property that we are still trying to sell at Fish Creek and re-instilled some love there.   Hopefully enough to trigger a sale, but things are so slow over there I’m not holding my breath. Think I may have to re-assess how we manage that!

Re-kindle India.

While in India, we had the fortunate experience of tasting ginger tea at breakfast while staying in a hotel in Delhi. It was purely accidental that we poured from this particular pot as the ‘western tea’ had not been served at that time. I love accidental discoveries and after some lengthy interpretation with the staff we vaguely got the gist of how it was made. Googling answered my questions and it is a common beverage in many Indian households. I had a go this morning at making it and yes, it was sensational. I followed the recipe on ‘Show me the Curry‘ website and was very happy with the result. Nice start to the day indeed. Sorry but photo is a bit fuzzy!

Ginger tea

PHOT!

Not Pho, not hot pot but an attempt to marry the two. I had wanted to make pho but didn’t have bones for stock. Thought about a hot pot (or as Cam would disrespectfully say, Ho Po) but didn’t have a clay pot that would fit into our mini oven, so I tried to marry the the two together. Marinated chicken as per the recipe at recipe.com added some extra stock and put the whole lot into the slow cooker and let it go. 2 hours before tea I added some chopped bok choy and then served with fresh spring onions, rice noodles and finely chopped spring onions. I would add some star anise and chilli next time but it was very, very nice. I can really understand how these meals based on rich stock with, lovely spices and fresh vegies are soul food for so many. So fresh and healthy too!

 

The ‘Phot’ required Shiitake mushrooms and I realised that since we have been away and not tending the logs too well, my shiitakes had actually dried on the logs!

Shiitake dried on log

What the heck, cut the dried ones from the logs, reconstituted in hot water, sliced and added to the slow cooker. They were sensational!

Shiitake reconstitutingFingers crossed!

Phot

All good! This was a really nice dish. Broth was flavorsome from the shiitake and other spices and seasonings.

Jobs I didn’t get to!

Had a master plan this weekend to plant the onion bag full of bulbs that I took from the last house and to install the auto-openers on the greenhouse windows. Don’t you love it when you have a list and manage to work hard but don’t see one item from the list completed? Started out with the goal to plant the bulbs, went to compost to get some planting mix and realised that the open bins are struggling due to encroaching tree surface roots. I have never had much success with open compost bins, they dry out, roots invade and I find them difficult to turn. I am a fan of the ‘Geddye’ style bin. Easy to use and turn with a curly compost turner. Easy to manage moisture levels and worms seem to love the environment. Ahh, the bulbs will have to wait till next week!

 

 

 

Let’s see what Spring has sprung so far.

Rain, rain and more rain here in Gippsland!

Shiitakes can be sneaky!

I read somewhere that shiitake mushrooms will go dormant and to re-trigger their activity you should bang them or drop them to simulate a log falling from a tree. Apparently this is the agro-forestry version of shock therapy! Well I felt a bit silly when I did this and hey presto!

Mmmm, no sign of life.

But wait, what is that at the back of the stack?

Shiitake sneaky!

Blueberries LOADED, this may have something to with the cold stint we have had this winter.

Yellow is in!

Tomatoes doing nicely!

Wisteria seems to have coped with the move so far .

A cutting from a fig tree I acquired at Maldon when we went camping at Easter this  year seems to be proving a success. The plan is to espalier this, just where is the next question!

 All in all, Spring seems to be doing nicely for me at this stage. We had a lovely weekend, sharing a celebratory dinner with special friends (Happy Birthday Richard!), did a bit of a clean up so the electricians had better access around the ‘stuff’ we have moved from one place to another and finished up with a lovely Osso-bucco for dinner.

We just need to get through my son having surgery on his damaged hand resulting from ‘over partying’ tomorrow and it will have been a sensational way to spend a couple of days!

The PS post!

I’m not a magnolia fan, but I really appreciate the design of their flowers. We were in two minds as to whether or not to remove this old magnolia. Here is why we didn’t!