1 September 2014

In The Garden - August

August in the garden is all about getting ready for Spring. Of course, around here, we get frosts right up into November, so we can't plant out much of our summer vegetables till then. We can plant the seeds out into seedling trays, and put the trays in our sun room to germinate and start sprouting, before they get put into the green house.

Country Boy has chosen twelve varieties of tomatoes, as well as several capsicum varieties, some eggplants, and basil, and has planted them all into trays. He uses wooden craft sticks to label what is in each row. All together, he has 38 tomato plants - so I expect we will have another bumper crop this year!


Our winter harvest is in full swing. The kale has been used in stir frys, frittata, and of course kale pesto. Last week we picked a huge bowl of sprouting broccoli to blanch and freeze. There are now twelve containers of broccoli in the freezer for later on in the year. I can't tell you how much I love having our own vegetables in the freezer for those times when there isn't much in the garden.

We have more cabbages than we can hope to eat, and some have started sprouting and going to seed. It's hard to see them 'going to waste' but harder to eat a couple of cabbages a week. Fortunately the pigs love them, so we can just turn them into pork.

The carrots are coming out of the ground as we need them. Misshapen and smelling of fresh earth, they taste amazing, and so unlike the shop bought version. The kids pick them, and eat them straight from the ground.


Of course not everything has done well in the garden. These cauliflowers are looking a little sad, so I am not sure that we will be eating them any time soon.


Now that the days are getting longer and (slightly) warmer, we will be mulching and weeding (as usual). Country Boy will be digging over the empty beds, and adding in sheep manure, which we have in abundant supply under the shearing shed.


I am so excited that Spring is finally on the horizon. Already the trees are beginning to blossom, and the garden is enjoying the sunshine.

25 August 2014

Kale Pesto

Apparently there is a world wide kale shortage. All those green smoothies, kale chips, and miracle super salads using the latest "wonder food" has meant that there just isn't enough kale being produced to keep up with demand.


 I'm not sure I believe in "super foods" (a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and grains, with a bit of meat and dairy thrown in sounds right to me!), but I do know that kale is yummy, and that my kids like it too. While there may be a kale shortage world wide, there certainly isn't one here on the farm.

Country Boy was looking for idea to use up some kale when he came across the idea of kale pesto. We had it on pasta for dinner and the kids hoovered it up and went back for seconds. A sure sign of a hit!


Ingredients
8 kale leaves (more or less depending on the size)
3/4c olive oil
3 garlic cloves - peeled
1/3c toasted pine nuts
80g parmesan cheese - grated


Method
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to the desired consistency (we like it a little chunky).
2. You may need to add a little more olive oil, depending on how you like your pesto.
3. Stir through the grated parmesan cheese.
4. Use where ever you would use traditional basil pesto. We served it on top of pasta for a quick and tasty meal.


Got any other suggestions to make with kale? 

22 August 2014

A Walk Around The Grounds

At last the days are getting a little longer. When I get home from work there is no longer the rush to get animals fed and firewood stacked before it gets dark. If I'm lucky I occasionally get half an hour to grab the camera and take a little wander around the garden or down to the creek.

Country Boy has been steadily working to extend our house garden all winter. We now have a gate that leads down to the bridge across the creek that he built two years ago. I don't get down there often, but it is one of my favourite places on the farm, particularly when the creek is flowing steadily.  The sound of the running water, together with the sheltered sun makes it so peaceful and relaxing... at least until the kids find me!


21 August 2014

Seven Things You Don't Know About Me

When I read a blog, I imagine what the author is like based on what I know about them; their words and pictures. But of course, blogs don't tell everything about a person. In fact they tell you very little. So today I thought I would share a few things about myself that you probably don't know:

I talk to myself - quite often. Sometimes I'm imagining a conversation, while at other times I am sorting out something in my head. Country Boy often catches me in conversation and laughs at me. I maintain that when I start surprising myself with my answers, then I will worry.


I'm naturally introverted. I hate meeting lots of new people at once. Going into a room full of strangers is hard work. I'm better than I used to be, but I would never say I am excited to meet new people. Moving here was hard because I didn't know many people at all. A common misconception is that because I'm a teacher, I'm outgoing, and wouldn't get stressed about public speaking - this is not true!

I'm not always happy-go-lucky. Life is not all rainbows and unicorns. I know that I am super lucky to be where I am. I have a great husband, and great kids. I put on a good show. I doesn't mean that life is always great though. Sometimes life is just tough. Whether it be a situation at work, or just feeling overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility that I carry, or being tired and frustrated with the kids. It can get to me. Yes I'm good at coping, and yes I put my head down and keep ploughing on, but that doesn't get rid of the fact that it is hard! And sometime I snap and get cranky! I wish I didn't, but I'm telling truths today!


I like to be punctual. In fact I consider it rude to be late without either phoning ahead or having a good reason (ie flat tire/ medical emergency). If you have told someone that you will be somewhere, then don't turn up or let them know you will be late in advance, you are basically saying to them "I am more important than you, so you can just wait until I am ready". Of course things popup unexpectedly, but have the courtesy to call ahead if you will be late... Just sayin'!

I buy the same lunch everyday. That is right - Every. Single. Day. In fact the staff at work have a running joke about my gourmet chicken rolls. The school canteen makes them fresh daily, they are full of salad, and tasty. In a life which is full of decisions about food and cooking food, this is one less! In holidays, I stand at the fridge and wonder what to have before making vegemite toast.


I'm not an outdoorsy type of person. I guess with the whole farm thing going on, a lot of people think I would be a lover of the great outdoors. I am coming around slowly, but I still love to curl up with a book, or make something much more than playing around outdoors. Having said that, in Spring and Autumn, when the weather is gorgeous, I love taking the camera out to snap some pictures.

I don't watch the news or current affairs on tv. I'm not naive. I know that there is a lot of bad/ scary/ horrific things happening in the world. The 24 hour news cycle makes sure that it is all delivered to us almost as it happens. It's just that I don't want those things in my head all the time (and I don't want my kids to have to see them either). It is too easy to loose faith in humanity, and forget that there are lots of good things happening in the world too. After all good news isn't really news at all any more. Instead I listen to the radio on the way to work, and read the news online.

So there you go: seven things you didn't know. Of course there is lots more you don't know about me, but I will keep that for another time!

18 August 2014

DIY-ing

I've been reading DIY blogs lately - always dangerous. With the extension/renovation becoming closer to reality (there's been a lot of prep kind of stuff going on behind the scenes - I'll share it another time) I'm putting my efforts in to revamping some of the ugly furniture we have. I know that there is no way we can afford new furniture at the end of the reno, so I might as well start with what we have.


First up has been the chest of drawers we store Toby's clothes in. We got it from a Vinnies store, and it is U-G-L-Y. Think 1980's orange pine. I ordered some chalk paint on line because I've used it before and was really happy with the results. This time, the colour wasn't quite what I expected (a little more tan/orange than I was thinking)  but I went for it anyway - it was still way better than the orange pine. A couple of hours of painting, mixed up with a couple of hours to dry between each coat, and it was done. I also splurged on some new handles while I was in town a few weeks back, and I'm loving the final finish! Better yet, I know it will look good in his room once we have renovated! Of course I haven't got a full picture in his bedroom yet - will have to get on to that one.

While I was in a DIY/home improvement mood, I found a dining table on ebay that was both cheap, looked OK, and within driving distance. I won it last weekend, and on Wednesday Country Boy and Toby went for a drive to the Southern Highlands to pick it up. We have been meaning to buy a new dining table since we got married over 15 years ago, so you clearly can't hurry these things. $250 for this table means that if it doesn't look right once we have renovated, we haven't spent a packet!



So there you go; two furniture projects in the one week. All this comes from spending all my spare minutes looking at fittings and finishes for rooms. Can you tell I'm excited???

13 August 2014

Stills

It's a random photo day. Because sometimes the photos I take tell stories that can't be put into words, but I want to share them anyway.


12 August 2014

Sticky Quince And Gingerbread Cake

One day our orchard will (hopefully) keep us in fruit, but until then we order a box of fruit which is delivered to the butcher in town each week (I pick it up on my way home from work on Thursdays). We love that as much as possible, the fruit is locally sourced. A few weeks ago I noticed Quinces were on the list, so ordered a few. Quinces are a little hard to come by sometimes. They seem to be out of fashion, but if you can find them they are so worth the effort! They sat there for a week until I poached them, and then consulted Stephanie as to what to do with them.


According to Stephanie, quinces go well with ginger, so I decided to see how they would go in a ginger cake. The answer was beautifully.


Ingredients
2 quinces
4 whole cloves
1t vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1/2c sugar
1c water
125g butter
2/3c golden syrup
2/3c brown sugar
2/3c milk
1/2tsp bicarb soda
1 egg
1 2/3c plain flour
1T ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice

1. Peel, quarter, and core the quince.
2. Cut the quince into smaller slices.
3. In a ovenproof dish place the quince, cloves, vanilla, sugar and water.
4. In either a low oven, or on the stove top, poach the quince until it turns a pink colour, and is tender. This may take several hours (I put ours on top of our fire to just bubble away). Check it once or twice and add a little more water if the syrup is nearly gone.
5. Allow to cool.
6. In a saucepan place the butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and milk.
7. Heat until the butter has melted. Do not boil.
8. Remove from the heat. Stir in the bicarb soda and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
9. Whisk in the egg.
10. Whisk in the flour, ginger, and spice.
11. Pour into a 22cm round cake tin.
12. Place the poached quince segments on top of the mix.
13. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is set. The quince will sink into the cake during cooking.

I've made this cake several times now. I love that it can all be mixed in a saucepan. It is delicious served with a little custard or cream.
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