Saturday, April 30, 2011

End of season bruschetta

I'm out here in the dark, tidying up my autumn garden. The tomatoes are finally succumbing to the mites and the cold, and after our two weeks away I managed to drag in 300g I could put into a bruschetta as Edan's birthday meal. There was enough basil around and I bought a Spanish onion to make it work.

But for me, this time of year is about managing decline is as positive a way as possible. The soils will warm up again, the trees will come into leaf again. Yes I'll get some sneaky winter lettuce and broccoli but autumn is about managing the wind down, winter about building for the future and spring is about moving quickly.

And I'll try to grow some tomatoes under plastic to buck the trend.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Citrus is Tropical

OK, I've learnt something up here in Cairns.

Citrus is a tropical plant. At the back there is a two year old mandarin that was ten foot tall until dad just cut it back to four. At the front is a lemon that languished in a small old pot and burst forward once repotted.

So one just needs to try a little harder down in Adelaide, keep the soil a little drier when it gets cold.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

ANZAC dawn amongst the palms

5.20am today. Lots of people at the service. It was good.

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Self Seeded Bird's Nest Ferns

In a place where warmth and moisture (together) are the order of the day, these ferns spring up everywhere.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Australian grown vanilla

It takes 18 months to cure and I got five pods. Their vanilla essence is the only one in the world - he says - that is not chemically extracted, and with no added sugar. I believe him.

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Leek and Potato Soup (Vichyssoise I suppose)

Good for hot weather. Or cold. Quick and easy, serve hot or cold.

Slice four leeks, white bits, into 5cm slices
Chop five garlic cloves roughly
Heat. 4 tablespoons oil and one of butter
Fry leeks and garlic until transparent but not browned
Get some salt in there (about 2 teaspoons) and pepper as much as you can
Add 2 kg of peeled sliced potatoes and fry a little more, but still don't brown anything
Tip in a litre of chicken stock
Bring back to boil and then turn down the heat to simmer slowly until potato is soft, about 40 minutes - covered.
Take off the heat, blend with a stick mixer
Add some boiling water until it's the right soup consistency for you
Pour in some cream and top with huge amounts of fresh chives
Served hot or cold

Leeks $6, potatoes $4.

Still under $15, and this will do two meals for a family of five. Easy

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Pomelo - my curiosity is sated

They look like way oversized grapefruit and taste of nothing too much.

Because their pith is so fibrous it's a fair old job cleaning them, almost as tricky as a pomegranate. So in all, not too impressed with pomelo.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Three elements

I'm wearing this now. The brochure said it represents connections to the three elements. Edan suggested it to be my three children, which is a great idea. And I have my own. So:

Edan, Mia and Jonah as the three elements and of course Sylvia as the gem in the middle.

The Bico catalogue suggests the three elements to be reality, fate, and time.

And I aim to be at peace with them all.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Glass at the Cairns night market

We found a guy who makes glass stuff on site and decided that it looks like it's his own labour going into it. Here he's making spinning tops for us.

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Edan and the coconut

In Rusty's market in Cairns, Edan got a green coconut and its juice.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mussels in white wine

I did them tonight and they were nice. I used a recipe (and this photo) from Sydney Fish Markets

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coconut self seeded

This is how it happens. They grow, they fall, they shoot and they grow again. And in many places when they create their 20 or so nuts. Then the councils need to try to get them stripped so that falling coconuts don't kill people.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Rain and warmth and ferns

This puts the "Oz" and "Garden" in Oz Food Garden. We're up in Cairns and as Teagan calls me the "little garden gnome' is happy.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

My marigold experiment

So I grew them and have dug them in, as somebody has said is a good treatment for root knot nematodes.

I'll let them decompose, but I have been getting a noticeable odour of pyrethrum when I'm around that bed. It could work.

Results won't be in until about January, when I pull up some tomatoes and see how the roots are.

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Loquats being a little surprising

To see the so strongly in flower right now is a little bemusing. I know they're a very early season fruit but to flower in April?

I think I've seen loquats carry fruit over winter and then ripen in early spring, but not on my little, young tree. But perhaps that's what it'll do this year. If it works then I'll probably get about ten kilos of fruit around September / October.

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Re-empty the rainwater tanks

As I prepare to go up to Cairns and put the Oz into Oz Food Garden I'm getting my rainwater out onto all my plants for two reasons:
  • We always seem to under-water in autumn
  • While I'm away I'll probably see the tanks a little replenished.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Surprising behaviour from a Dracaena

Dracaena Marginata. These are sculptured indoor plants that propagate beautifully from top-tip cuttings; they fork where you cut them and the tip you take is a new plant.

This 5ft specimen is 20+ years old, the first ever plant I got - as a "top-tip" cutting from a friend. It has now probably given a half a dozen babies of its own.

A secret trick is to get them under shadecloth and feed them up with high nitrogen, esp is spring and early autumn. Summer and winter they can use the protection of the indoors.

This year this one surprised me - put a strong growth shoot straight up from the middle. Funky.

These plants vary in price - in premium retailers they might be $150 but I saw one at the carpark caper for $30. A pot full of ten baby shoots was $10 and I bought one for Mia, but in a nursery, probably $45.
As my dad would lament, I can't believe how easily people get fleeced when it comes to plants. Getting a green thumb can probably save a person $20,000 over their lifetime.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Last night's lamb into tonight's pasta sauce

Perfect. One bottle of tomato sauce, a tin of tomatoes, some garlic and oregano.

Simmer at low for hours, as many as you like. For me the meat fell off the bone at the one hour mark, then I chopped it and put it back in.

I'll probably simmer for another hour making sure there's always plenty of water in the pot with it. I'll probably freshen it up with chopped basil or parsley just before serving.

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Saturday, April 9, 2011

$10 per kg lamb

It works. I remember in the 70s where mum would cook loin chops for dinner and we could take as many as we want.

And (gasp) as a kid I'd far prefer sausages.

These are lamb ribs and I got them for about $8-10 per kg. Do this:
  • Salt them in the tray
  • Get a pan hot - nonstick
  • Throw them in and sear on the salt
  • Salt the top
  • Cover, turn the heat down
  • Let them go at low heat for about an hour, shake ten every 20 minutes or so to get the red bits into the heat
  • Get another non-stick pan really hot and then sear the crap out of them, all over.
You get a great tasting, tender, salty fatty lamb cut for a fifth of the price of loin. We're not swimming in money at the moment so we make do. This is pretty good. With some broccoli, peperoli and beans it still gets a five person dinner done for around $10.

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Dehydrate some figs

Later than I ever remember, but my fig is producing now. So the ten or so that I had, I washed and halved, marinated in lime for 20 mins and put them into the dehydrator.

We'll see how it goes.
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Peperolli over the weekend

My lovely mother-in-law gets fresh produce freebies from a neighbour from time to time. Therefore so do we. This time it was a huge bag of red capsicum. Fantastic.

Cut down the middle.
Flatten out on a grill tray.
Grill hard till skins blister black (you'll know it when you see it)
Put them all in a plastic bag and let them go a bit soggy
Rub off the skins (WAY easier than it sounds)
Slice them
Pour some olive oil over them
 Salt, garlic, refrigerate.
Will go mouldy if left too long.
Spoon it onto fresh bread or a secret ingredient in an allapanna.
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Friday, April 1, 2011

Scrambled eggs: No such thing as too much basil

They say "don't tweet what you eat" Okey dokey. I'll blog it. 8xeggs from my chookies, bust the yolks, one tsp chicken salt and a qtr cup milk. But the secret ingredient was a ten inch length of basil, pull off all the leaves and shred them. It was a lot, about a half a cup. Fry it until dry. It was stunning.

When it's fresh I stand by my argument that "there's no such thing as too much basil".
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