End of Summer season in the patch

I take my hat off to all our dedicated food growers, especially those who are committed to growing organically. It’s when we have seasons like this I can’t help but wonder how this nation ever got off the ground at all!

As the summer season comes to a close I’ve been trying to sort out the veggie garden to have it ready for some serious, more dedicated growing throughout the year.

I started by moving the 2 compost bins that were in the area where we have just moved a small outbuilding from. This area will become a courtyard and I don’t really want to look out the kitchen window to the bins. The bin made from wire and lined with weed mat contains last seasons leaf mulch and it’s not quite ready to use. I need to work out where this years leaf bin will go. This area does become a natural collection point for the english oak leaves so it can’t be too far away. I will have to move the little blood orange that you can see in the front. This was being espaliered on the wall of the building we moved, so it may end up against the fence.I have previously mentioned how when you clear the compost you discover insidious bits of plastic that you didn’t know you had. Here you can see the remains of a spinach box. I bought it in a box thinking it was plastic free, but as with so many packaged items the plastic is hidden. GRRRR!You can also see here that the paper vacuum cleaner bag still has a bit of decomposing to do. I will just put that into the relocated bin. I am cutting back needing to use bags in the vacuum as I now have a barrel unit that can be emptied directly into the compost (unless it has bits of glass etc in it). The big vac with bags will be used much less frequently.From these 2 compost bins I got enough compost to top dress the big 6 meter long wicking bed and the 3 smaller wicking beds as well as give the orange tree a really good top-dressing.As  always, our last chook Rene was on hand as oversee to the works!

Last men standing.

I removed all of the tomato plants that were passed it and their remains have been put on the bed that will be where corn will be grown next summer. I really should remake this box as it was put together as a temporary bed when we first moved in, but it still has another season in it I think.The remaining tomato plants in this big bed, have had exclusion bags put on the last fruit and I will be planting a green manure crop of mustard seed and assorted seeds that are well beyond their prime and that I am unlikely to plant here. I keep  saying I will rest this bed for a season, but space is just too precious. I guarantee I will still end up using half of the bed for something!I have had marginally more success with pumpkins this season, but they are still not what I would have a hurrah over. The plants that were not going to give any return have also been pulled and put on the pile with the spent tomato plants and I’ve let the ones still performing in, hoping that they will develop and mature some more.There are quite a few small ones still developing but I don’t think they will develop enough  before the cool weather hits. They are pretty though!Remember my experiment of trained versus free range tomatoes? This is a couple of pics of the issues I had with free ranging tomatoes. I don’t think I’ll try that again!

The big success this season is our grapevine, this is performing really well and these grapes are delicious! Although it is a slip grape, supposedly for winemaking, it tastes like passionfruit and we use them just for nibbling on. They do have a few pips but I don’t  mind that.

There are still a few jobs to do but I really enjoyed getting back out into the garden and claiming some thinking time as I worked.

Sourdough

This is a pic of my rye dough that decided it wanted to take over the world. I thought the overnight temperature was going to be quite a bit cooler than it turned out to be, so I gambled on leaving it out on the bench overnight. The lid was nearly at right angles before I removed it! Fortunately I saved it in time and managed to produce some lovely loaves of 50% rye and 50% organic Laucke T55 white flour. The tang in these is amazing!So now I have to decide on what my next ‘get back in control’ jobs will be in the garden. Well, everywhere I think!

Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style), Lentil Curry and Lamb Momos

I was a little selfish this weekend, (yes, it’s all about me)!  Although I was conscious that there was plenty to be done  with our reno and in the garden, I opted to do a little cooking. I was in need of a change from the normal weekend sourdough bake so I made some Hokkaido Milk Toast (Japanese style) bread that looked interesting.

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This bread is reputed to be soft and fluffy, suitable for sandwiches and more typical of the supermarket fluff on shelves in the major ‘not so super’-markets. Very interesting method used to make this dough. You create  some tangzhong, which is exactly like making glue from a bit of flour (50g), 5 times quantity in water (250 ml) and cook over heat until 65 degrees or lines form when stirred. This is then cooled and added to an enriched yeasted dough, kneaded by machine and shaped, proved and baked. The result was not disappointing even though I misread the recipe and added the entire amount of tangzong. A bit of tweaking with some extra water and turned out OK. The bread had a distinct sweet aroma while baking and I thought this would prove to have a sickly sweet flavour but no, it was fine. Will definitely try this again, it was a nice change and my occessional hit for some vegemite on fluffy bread was satisfied!

Milk toast dough Vegemite bread

Lamb Momos with Tibetan Chilli Sauce.

I’ve borrowed Rick Stein’s India cook book from the library, so I’m test driving as many recipes as I can before it goes back. This way I can see if I like it enough to invest in buying it. I don’t buy a lot of cookbooks these days unless I know the food is going to be good and that I can go on a bit of a journey when I read it. This book certainly takes me on a journey. The photos put me right back in India and I can hear the crazy sounds and noise of the buses and traffic. The colours are stunning and I remember the smells and hustle & bustle that is everywhere in India. I made the Lamb Momos (Nepalese Dumplings) with Tibetan Chilli Sauce last night and tonight the Spicy Lentil Soup with Squash (pumpkin) tomato and green beans. Golly those Tibetans must have a strong constitution! This sauce was very fiery but also had a really good flavour. The momos dough was beautiful. I loved these but I think I’ll cut way back on the chilli next time!

Lamb momos

Momo Yum!
Momo Yum!

Tonight I made Rick’s Spicy Lentil Soup and once again it was beautiful. I had to make a few comprises as I couldn’t get either fenugreek or asafoetida anywhere locally. Will put those on my list for my next trip to Dandenong Market. I opted to leave off the tarka topping due to lack of fenugreek, but it didn’t detract from it’s delicate flavour. I served this with rice but I think it would be good, (although not traditional) with cous cous or even cooked with pasta in it.

Rick Stein's Spicy Lentil Soup

Zen with our brunch!

As I’ve mentioned before, we really enjoy our Sunday morning brunches, especially when we can eat outside. Today just made it into that category and I got to cook some pullet eggs I bought at the Warragul Farmers Market. What are pullet eggs you ask? These are the eggs laid by chickens who are just coming into laying age, the “P” plate chook you could say. Not as big as normal eggs but don’t be deceived by that! The flavour, colour and creamy texture of these eggs was beautiful. Free range farmed at local Willow Zen Farm,

Willow Zen Pullet eggs.
Willow Zen Pullet eggs.

I look forward to having them as a regular brunch item. I poached the eggs and served them on my sourdough toast along with mushrooms that were cooked in butter/olive oil with a  small chilli finely chopped and in the pan. Some chopped coriander, ground pepper and a dash of white wine vinegar stirred through before serving. Look at the colour of those eggs!

IMG_0882 Poached eggs

Out in the garden.

I discovered a few hidden bunches of grapes in the berry hut this week. This variety is a slip grape, put the grape near your mouth and slip it out of its skin! With a  lovely hint of honey flavour, it was indeed a pleasant discovery!

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The other exciting discovery was in the greenhouse. I didn’t think I would have any success with growing sweet potatoes. Yes, I’ve had plenty of green on top but getting tubers is difficult in this cool climate. Well lookie here…………………

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes

I might just have some success this year!