Life in May and Practical Recipes

A dainty Salvia in the vege garden

Well it’s been a while since I have taken the time to write a post, but here I am at long last. I was actually debating whether to keep writing or not. I guess as you can see, I have decided to keep going : ) and it feels lovely to be back. The year has been a mixture of different things so far with extreme weather events, floods that washed parts of our driveway away, where once there was a road a river gushed through! leaving me unable to go anywhere for about 5 weeks. Which to be honest, I actually quite enjoyed ; )

Puddles!

We also decided to take our 11 year old son out of mainstream schooling and homeschool him. This has been such a wonderful experience! What excitement when our registration came through and it was all official! Yes there have been challenges and adjustments, a very big change to my daily routine, but to see him learning and experiencing such a rich curriculum as the one we have found has been worth it all. I love that he can work at something until he gets it, and not just get left behind because of the schedule classrooms have to work to. The literature he is reading is wonderful and the work we can get through especially on good days is amazing. I think some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt, is not to expect each day to look the same, and to not be too hard on myself or on Luke. To be flexible and to accept each day for what it is. I try to look at the way we are traveling on any given day and pick subjects/workload to suit. Life skills are also being learnt, when you live so far from the school, all the traveling and long days just don’t allow for much learning here, normally they have had enough and are just plain tired through the schooling week. So now we have cooking as part of our weekly routine, yesterday we butchered old hens and roosters for the freezer. I have started teaching basic mending and sewing skills which is something he has been enjoying. Bush walks and time to enjoy the nature that is all about us. I do not regret my decision, it’s not for everyone that is for sure, and not every child would want this, however for now we are happy to have gone this way.

A nice place to grow and learn, and step away from the crazy world for a bit

A bee enjoying a flower on my Panama Berry fruit tree, those green berries go a pinkish red and are delicious!! They fruit all year round and taste like a dessert in a berry!

My little friends in the garden love these berries also : ) They even take them while they are still green, cheeky!

A Brazilian Cherry, very good for you and a lovely bush. I wait until they have gone darker than this so as not have a bitter after taste, picked at the right time they are lovely.

Pecans!!

Malabar Spinach, once you have this growing you will always have it, mine comes up every year, very hardy and very good for you. It has 3 times more vitamin C than spinach and over 1.5 times more vitamin A than kale. Lovely cooked lightly and served with a little melted butter.

I always feel this sense of urgency as the weather cools, to have all my veges in and growing. It’s just such a productive time of year and you want to make the most of it. I have had a few set backs, we have a mouse problem again, and they seem to be stealing a lot of my seed that’s getting planted out. Even when I bury them deeper they are digging down, and we have had such a lot of wet weather, so there could be seed rotting in the wet soil as well. At my seed raising gardening table I have seeds germinating such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, various flowers and a continual flow of carrots being planted as well as in the main garden. I will have to focus more on getting things up here and planting them out in the vege patch. Potatoes are in and sprouting, tomatoes are going crazy, I actually went down and pulled some out. Very hard to pull out healthy plants, however the reality is we can’t live on tomatoes. Lettuce is growing and being harvested and for the first time I am having a go at growing parsnip and onions, so hopefully I will master these two lovely vegetables. I’ve had such a thing for my pickled beetroot lately, so I have been putting more beetroot seed in. Hopefully this will ensure I can keep my supply in the cupboard topped up. It’s such a lovely thing to eat what you have grown knowing there are no chemicals on it, not to mention the flavour. I get such a shock lately when I go to the supermarket and see the prices and the things missing of the shelves. The more we can grow and provide for ourselves the better.

Arrowroot that I had chopped into with my shovel reshooting! And I just noticed there are beans shooting around the base of them! That should work well beans growing up arrowroot, might just leave them be : )

Some of the potatoes sprouting, with some of the bad ladybirds on them. It always pays to have a wonder just to look and see. Much easier to take care of pests when you catch them early.

Nasturtiums coming back in full force.

I have carrots growing in these boxes as well as in the garden, so I know I will have a continual supply.

Thinning out carrots leaves a hearty addition to a soup

An Agave flowering at the house, amazing!

A closer look at it’s flowers.
Morning!

A handsome fellow

There’s always one! Everytime I take the lid off, in she goes!

Molly!

I have this duck, Molly. What a character she is! This is her nest apparently, no-one elses and even though there are no eggs, it is hers! I have tried taking her out, even locking her out and she always finds her way back in. Have you ever seen a duck climb? This one can, she can climb the chain mesh wire fence we have down there, she grips onto it with her feet and uses her beak to scale up it, I never would of believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. She can fly like a bird and has often given us a fright as she takes flight and zooms overhead down from one end of the yard to the other, never with a delicate or precision landing mind you. There is so much personality and entertainment to be had in a chook pen. Molly has won, I have given up, her determination has given her full rights and occupancy to this nest.

With the harvesting of pumpkins and rosellas, I have been busy in the kitchen making rosella jam. And what better combination than pumpkin scones with rosella jam. I have a rosella jam recipe in one of my earlier blog posts, if you have a look under recipes you should be able to find it, it’s a lovely recipe and turns out everytime. Recently while we were in town shopping I purchased a punnet of strawberries. They looked and smelt beautiful, however when I tasted them, they were not beautiful but sour. It seems very hard in this part of the country to purchase strawberries that are full of flavour. Anyway I decided to turn them into jam, and it has turned out to be delicious! I had only about 400grams of strawberries, so I added about the same of sugar and the juice of half a lemon, about 10-15 mins later I had 2 jars of beautiful jam. It made me realise two things, we can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary with the right perspective and cooking in small batches is quick and fun!

As for my pumpkin scone recipe this is the one I used:

  • 2 Tbsp or 60 g butter
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour

Line a flat baking tray with baking paper or use flour. Heat your oven to 220°C or 200°C if it is fan fo Cream butter and sugar, add pumpkin. Add well beaten egg and milk, mix then add the sifted flour, mix until it comes together and knead lightly on a floured board. Roll out to 2-3 cm thick and cut into rounds, place one a baking tray

The simple things like scones are always enjoyed, easy and they don’t cost you a lot to make. I often find myself thinking back to old recipes and practical ways of doing things lately. Sometimes I think some of the ways we have moved forward or the direction society has gone can be over complicated and excessive. It really doesn’t take a lot to eat well, have good flavour and enjoy whats on your table.

This is one of my favourite recipes now, Egg, Bacon and Sausage Pie. Sorry about the slight blurriness of the pie in the photo, I should of had my glasses on. This is on a plate with home grown pickled beetroot and the salad is all home grown except for the onion and cheese. I tried for so long to master the egg and bacon pie, but was never satisfied with the final result, then one day I came up with this recipe and it is loved by all.

Jo’s Egg, Bacon and Sausage Pie

I use thick pork sausages from the butcher, about 6 or 7. You can adjust the ingredients to suit how many mouths you have to feed, however remember leftovers are great and this is just as good cold. 1-2 brown or purple onions ( I have a love of purple onions lately, cooked or raw), about 4 or 5 bacon rashers. Slice the onion, I like nice size slices not diced. Chop up your bacon and fry with your sausages in a frying pan until cooked and browned. If you like you can add your onion towards the end so as not to overcook it. When its cooked, take your sausages and chop them up into chunks. Butter and flour your pie dish then line with a sheet of puff pastry. Put your bacon, onion and sausage in, then in a seperate jug or bowl, crack 5-7 eggs, whisk, I like to whisk mine if you want to leave some whole in your pie, add them separately. Whisk egg and season with salt and pepper, not too much salt, your bacon and sausages will add saltiness, and I also add a good dollop probably about a 1/4 cup homemade tomato sauce. But store tomato sauce or even some relish would work great too. Mix through, then poor over your sausage mix. Add another sheet of puff pastry for the top of your pie, seal edges and bake in a moderate oven for about 40 mins or until the egg is cooked through and pie is brown.

This is such a tasty and simple recipe and you could play around with it. I am happy, much happier with this than all of my other attempts at egg and bacon pie. I think the addition of the nice pork sausages really makes a difference. The bacon can be any bacon, whatever you can get your hands on or afford. Spending a little more on nice sausages is definately worth it in my mind though.

Well I feel like the jobs are many but the hours are few. When I start to feel this way I remind myself that when we start to put all this pressure on ourselves it robs the days, the moments of their joy. It’s good to have goals and things that we want and need to get done, but we also have to remember that our time here is about the right priorities too. To stay connected, to care for one another and for ourselves. To be aware and awake to not only our own lives but the lives of others and use the gifts/talents each of us has been given. Sometimes it’s something so simple as a listening ear or a message, a call. Never underestimate the impact of what might seem like small or insignificant things. All those things make up a beautiful masterpiece called life. And we all have an important role to play just by being you and by caring, that’s such an important gift that each of us can give. Each journey is unique and different, but each of us has a valuable part to play.

Blessings from my home to yours

Early Morning Milking and A Beautiful, Simple Dessert

It’s good times on the farm at the moment. We have green grass in the paddocks! What a beautiful sight. It’s almost as if our eyes are adjusting, you become so used to the look of the dry after a period of time and then when all this green surrounds you it’s like a long distant memory has come back to life again and you realise what a difference it is to live in times like these. The cycle of life! What a blessing : )

And of course green grass is not only lovely to look at, it also means plenty of food for our cattle and plenty of milk for the calves. My milking cow Maudrey had her calf on the first day of Spring, our son has named him Henry : ) And I have been loving getting back into my routine of milking in the early hours of the morning.

The dogs and I walk up the road to the cattle yards and then we walk back with a full milking can. I have always milked in our crush, with her leg tied back with a rope. There is no way I want to take any chances with my bucket getting knocked over! I seperate the calf the night before, then take my share of the milk and put them back together once I’m done. Everyone has worked out the routine now, Maudrey practically runs up the race to the crush, because she knows I have her grain waiting for her, and she loves it! She’s even so clever to shuffle around while I’m milking when she’s run out so I will give her more ; ) The rope is not something they like at first, it would feel very odd, there is a lot of kicking so you have to be careful, but now she understands and it doesn’t worry her in the slightest. You also have to watch all of the body language while you milk, tail raised, shifting position, incase they decide to empty themselves, in which case you need to be quick to grab your bucket and get well back! Maudrey would have to be the best milking cow I have ever owned, she gives all her milk to me (I have had some that hold it back, very frustrating!) And she does not empty herself whilst I’m milking. The first 3 times she would wee and I would growl at her and give her a smack, after that she would raise her tail to get me worried and let a little trickle out, I tell you, some cows are clever, especially Jersey’s! But now she knows and behaves.

An action shot! Very tricky to milk and take a photo!
Henry : )
Maudrey finishing of her treats
I always leave one full teat for him xx
My milk, still frothy from milking
You can see from the yellow how creamy her milk is, as I’m preparing the bottles and the milk sits on the bench the cream rises to the top
A healthy looking fridge

You can see the layer of cream, so beautiful. All strained through a stocking and bottled in clean glass bottles. You just give the bottle a good shake and you have full cream milk, skim the cream off and you have skim milk! I only have to milk a few times a week, now that there is only the three off us. It feels so good to start the day this way and know we are getting so much goodness from fresh, raw milk! Thank you Maudrey! Oh and Henry for sharing : )

I absolutely love this custard tart, so simple and so delicious. Might even be one you might like to add for Christmas. I use a pre brought puff pastry base, and bake blind, place a layer of baking paper and beans or I use rice that I keep for this purpose, and cook for 5-10 mins at 180 degrees celsius, remove the rice and just brown it a bit more for 3-4mins. After this stage it goes in the fridge no more oven cooking so just cook it until you are happy with how it looks and to eat.

Then while all this is going on or after, whichever you prefer, make your custard filling. This is similar to a creme patissiere, sounds fancy pastry cream then, so easy!

Grab a saucepan and a jug or small bowl. In the jug/small bowl put 2/3 cup of milk, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, whisk together, set aside. Then in the saucepan add 3 tablespoons of butter, place over a low heat, melt, now stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, add 2 Tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup castor/fine sugar. Pour in the milk mixture, keep stirring all the time. When the sauce thickens (this will happen quickly) turn of the heat and beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until smooth. Put back over a low heat and cook stirring for a couple of minutes. Spoon this deliciousness into your pastry shell and chill for half an hour.

Now for the topping you can use whatever fresh berries or frozen you like and a glaze of maple syrup or warmed up jam, the options are many. I have used mulberries with a mulberry jam glaze. A combination of fresh berries and frozen with a jam glaze, frozen berries and a maple syrup glaze, it’s all wonderful! The picture doesn’t really do it justice, I forgot to take a photo of it on the day I made it, I think this is a couple of days old, and I dusted a bit of Icing sugar on to try and pretty it up : )) I hope you try it xx

It’s original name from my River Cottage Family Cook Book is Summer Fruit Tart. I have adapted the recipe slightly over the years from the original.

My next adventure, hatching chickens!
The production line Garlic scapes from our beautiful neighbours (they are on facebook Goodnight Garlic) and my own celery and eggs
Chopped and bagged for the freezer, ready for future cooking : )
The Jasmine vine is finally taking off!

Frank and I last Sunday sitting under a shady tree enjoying the view. The simple things in life! To live and to be content with little or with much. See you soon xx

Springtime and New Beginnings

My happy place

Well it has been lovely to be in the garden, preparing the soil for Spring vegetables after some much needed rain. There is just nothing like working or for that matter enjoying the garden and outdoors after rain, everything is alive and fresh and singing it’s thanks. Even the birds are excited and especially active. Today has seen blustery storms and rumbling thunder, nothing too crazy here so far thank goodness.

Queen Anne’s Lace! Growing like wild : ) xx
Preparing beds with cow manure

It was lovely to get in and chop up the cow manure I had collected after the rain had softened it a bit more, see everything’s better after rain, even dealing with cow poo! It chopped up nicely and then it was covered with mulch. I haven’t added manure for a while, so I thought it would be a good addition along with my kitchen scraps, all free and readily available. I’m doing it at a steady rate, not all at once, a garden bed at a time, but I will get there. Who needs the gym when you have a garden or a farm for that matter! The cool season vegetables are finishing and now I am planting out my warm season ones such as beans, zucchini and cucumber. A beautiful friend has given me some seeds for purple cherry tomatoes which are up and just about ready to be planted. Pumpkins are growing, but not in the vege garden! I’ve learnt my lesson there, they take over and are a nightmare to pull out, so I have a nice spot, actually a couple of nice spots in the yard, where they can grow wild. Sweet potato is always there and faithful just like the cherry tomatoes, and next to go in will be capsicums, chilli’s, peas, carrots, different types of lettuce varieties and some sunflowers! This is strange for me not to have sunflowers, but the Hollyhocks are putting on a lovely show and came up like the Queen Anne’s Lace all on there own, soon it will get to hot for them, so I am enjoying the beautiful sight while I can.

Lovely Organic Celery
My garden is full of skinks, they love there home and I love having them : )

Here in Australia celery brought at the supermarket is one of the vegetables to be found with the highest doses of pesticides. So every Winter I make sure to put in plenty of celery seed to add to my soups etc. I’m thinking I might have a go at freezing it, this way I can still use it in my cooking over the warmer months.

Sometimes when your walking around the garden, you look and there is just a beautiful combination of flowers that appear, and I think wow, look at that, and it’s like a gift, a treasure, and I think gosh I’ve got to get a photo to show you. And I wonder at how precious these seemingly small things are, but they’re not small are they. They are special moments where in part it is our hard work but also in part the miracle of creation all around us, putting on a show for those of us that have eyes to see, I don’t want to miss those moments and I love being able to share them with you xx

A Little kurrajong in flower

Baskets over seedlings have become a necessary addition to my garden when planting out, as there seems to always be at least one, sometimes more, cheeky chickens in there!

Mulberries!

The chickens have been enjoying the fallen fruit around the vege garden too! We have had so many mulberries this season, what a treat. I have been making plenty of jam and the odd mulberry pie : )

My jam recipe is from the Sally Wise recipe book A Year in a Bottle and it is a great one. You need 1kg of mulberries, juice of 2 lemons, 3 cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated ( I didn’t grate mine), 1 kg sugar. Place mulberries, lemon juice and apples in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 mins. Add the sugar and bring back to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. This time when I made it, once the fruit had softened, I used my stick blender to get it to a consistency I was happy with, then continued to cook until setting point was reached. Pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately. The jam is ready to eat! Makes approx. 1.5kg. I think the hardest part about growing mulberries is getting the fruit before the birds do ; ) This year though, I seem to have enough for all of us.

My pie recipe is very basic and rustic, for the filling add 500g mulberries to a saucepan with 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tbsp of water, simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved and the berries are soft and jammy. Add 2 tbsp of cornflour to the mulberry stew to thicken and set aside. For the pastry, sift 1 3/4 cup Self-raising flour and mix with 100grams of chopped butter with your fingertips and add 2 tbsp water, bring together roll two lots one for the base and one for the top to fit a 20 x 30 cm rectangular cake tin or as you can see above I use a round one, it really doesn’t worry, grease and dust with flour then put your base in, filling, top on, sprinkle with sugar and bake approx. 1/2 hour 200 degrees celsius or until golden, serve with either custard or icecream.

A baby!

Yes!!! a baby, and two very protective geese! This little one hatched from some fertilised eggs I was very kindly given, and we are over the moon, just the one hatched, but my goodness it’s cute!

I have so much more to share, it feels so nice to be back here typing away, hopefully brightening your day or giving you something nice to look at while you take a break. I love writing this blog, taking photo’s and sharing what I’ve picked up along the way, which in turn might be useful to someone else. There seems to be a very changing world about us, but hopefully we can remember that taking care of ourselves, each other and our homes is valuable and vital. Each story, each journey looks different, the words that keep ringing in my ears lately are, “kindness is an attribute that should be highly valued” xx

More babies!

Cream of Chicken Soup and The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Celery and parsley ready for the pot

Well here I am with two very tasty recipes, this cream of chicken soup is easy, hearty and so delicious! There is something so comforting about soups over the cooler months and they come with the added bonus of being economical to make, and hopefully leftovers for the next day. There is nothing like a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

Cream of chicken soup

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
  • 300ml carton thickened cream
  • 1 cup (150g) frozen or fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup (10g) fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (I use ones that make 2 cups per cube)

Place your chicken in a pot with about 3 litres of water, and season with salt and pepper. Place over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, try not to boil otherwise this can make your meat go tough. Remove the pan from heat.

You can leave out this step and use a precooked chicken and ready-made chicken stock if you like.

Remove the chicken onto a large plate. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat and shred or roughly chop, discarding the skin and carcass. Strain your stock into a large bowl.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add your onions, carrots and celery, lightly fry until they are tender.

Sprinkle in flour, stir well. Take your pot of the heat and stir in 2 litres of your stock, stirring constantly. Return to the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.

Stir in the cream, shredded chicken and corn kernels and simmer for 10 mins to heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Now at this stage I like to have a taste and that is where the 2 extra stock cubes comes in, taste and if you think it needs it add a stock cube, simmer, taste again and if you still think it needs a bit more add the other one.

This is such a lovely soup : )

My other recipe is chocolate chip cookies! I have tried a few different recipes over the last month, my husband and son happily kept taste testing and giving their valued opinion ; ) this following recipe is the best by far. It makes a good quantity and they store well.

Chocolate chip cookies

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 200g plain chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a bowl until creamy. Beat in the vanilla and egg. Sift the flour, bicarb soda and salt, add to the mixture. Mix well to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir well.

Using a teaspoon, place small mounds of the mixture, spaced well apart, on lined baking trays. Bake in the oven for 8-10 mins, or until the edges of the biscuits are light brown and still slightly soft in the centre. Leave on the tray for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Well I have recently taken the time quite a bit of time to clean out and organise my walk in pantry. I remembered reading Rhonda’s blog at Down to Earth a little while ago where she was cleaning out and organising her cupboards, and I thought mine were doing okay, well they were, but wait there was more! A lot more that needed doing, I didn’t realise this of course until I got started and what made me get started??? That horrible word that no-one wants to hear associated with their kitchen…….mouse, “I think I heard a mouse” : (

My husband heard a noise in my cupboard and that set me off! I thought and continue to think of the people who have suffered through mouse plagues and my heart goes out to you. So much destruction and devastation. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to deal with everyday and try and keep your farms going and animals fed. Homes as free as possible from them, they can get into places and you just think “how”??

My mind was set on keeping my food safe and in containers, as much as I possibly can. As well as setting out to trap and bait any trying to call my kitchen home. Living so far from town means my cupboards have to be fairly well stocked, this was in the middle of the chaos…….

Plenty of buckets at the ready, being filled to feed out to the the chickens, they did well that week! I have lots of empty storage containers and jars now. There were things from when I’d tried different cooking techniques and used different ingredients, that I had completely forgotten about or put off doing anything about is probably more to the point. Well a combination of the two : ) you know how it is. But at the end of a long day, order was restored.

: )

Still some more that can be done, but it is a good feeling to have this much achieved for now. I have changed where I keep most of my spices, they are put away in my draw next to the stove, which seems much more practical and convenient, other ideas and improvements will be made or thought of over time. Isn’t it funny when you change something and you wonder “why didn’t I do that all along??” I thought sharing some photo’s might inspire or give some idea’s. I love to see how other people do things and organise, we can always learn so much from each other!

Take care and stay safe xx

Spring is Just Around the Corner!

The Hollyhocks are popping up everywhere and their buds are just starting to open

Spring is in the air, we are not quite there yet, however the temperatures and the flowers blossoming are sure signs that Winter is all but gone for another year. Spring is a special time of the year, the nights are still cool and the day’s still bearable. The choice of seeds to plant are still varied and many, and if Spring rain does happen to fall everything just looks so wonderful. Spring rain!! Oh yes please! I have been busy watering our many tree’s this week as everything starts to wake up again, very time consuming but rewarding when you see everything looking happy again. Once again I feel that tug of outside chores verses inside chores, there seems to be so many things from the garden to preserve at the moment. I have an abundance of citrus still, so marmalade, more marmalade keeps popping into my mind. I have pulled up all my beetroot and pickled it, chillies are ready to be picked and made into sweet chilli sauce. And just the other day I brought some beautiful strawberries from a local strawberry farm and made jam. Homemade strawberry jam! The jam you buy from the shop just doesn’t compare to homemade, not to mention the smell when it’s cooking : ) As I get through my tasks each day I’m reminded that the simple life does not mean the easy life. To grow and harvest and store your food takes time and effort, but the reward and skills gained along the way make it all worth while in my mind. What a lovely feeling it is to know all my jams are made with my own hands, the tomatoes I grow provide us with not only jam but sauce too, vegetables are frozen, pickled or eaten fresh. Fruit picked and eaten straight from the tree. And just the other day I picked my first broccoli from the garden, a bit late, but finally here at last, and they were tasty!

These are just some of my potatoes they all seem to be growing well and look healthy

No sprays just lot’s of flowers and herbs to keep pests at bay. Tomorrow I have decided to get in and pull out a huge bush tomato vine growing in here, so I can plant out snow peas and beans. These tomato bushes produce tiny tomatoes that grow in bunches on the vine, they grow wild in the paddocks are so tough and resilient and are the sweetest little tomatoes! But the plants do take up a very big area and since I have plenty of tomatoes I can sacrifice this one, and I know that they will keep coming back, once you have them you will always have them! The chickens, ducks and geese will be very excited when I let them pick through it : )

These are how they grow, only little but very tasty!
This is one bush! Can you see the sneaky chicken in my vegetable garden!

It’s probably time to start thinking about zucchini, salad greens, corn, cucumber all those lovely warmer weather crops as the soil starts to heat up. Growing from seed means trying to be on the ball as the seasons change, it’s funny the things that can set you back, things you would never imagine. My broccoli is so late because a sneaky chicken managed to find my seedlings and munched all the leaves off them, so I had to get them back nice and leafy and strong again before planting out, do not become complacent about your seedlings and their safety was the lesson learnt here!

I have one last little bit of hay left for the garden, can you see the hole where my little bird friends have decided to nest and have babies!
One of the parents waiting to pop in xx
My little plum tree is putting on a beautiful display xx Below is Strawberry Jam, Pickled Beetroot and homegrown goodies!
New Zealand Tea Tree

I’ve been having a time away from social media, and loving it! I find it can all get a bit too much for me and starts to feel unhealthy. Even though I was not on there all the time, it made me question do I want all this going in and do I want what little extra time I have spent scrolling? For me the answer was no. I love to come here and write my blog, I always have this in the back of my mind and would like to start writing more regularly, and there are two other blogs that I like to take the time to sit back and enjoy. They are Outback Tania and Down to Earth. I have taken up crocheting again, simple things like dishcloth and face cloth squares. Practical and easy, I have been inspired by some friends and am thinking I might tackle a blanket soon. Between my garden and my home, and the farm there is plenty to fill my days, I had it on my heart to get back to simple things like creating and making more. Calling people on the telephone!! Writing letters, all those things that I seem to be loosing touch with. It’s good for us to take a step back now and again to re-evaluate our time and how we use it. We are better positioned to give to others when we have balance in our own lives and a sense of accomplishment as well as rest.

Just about finished : )

I’m running out of time so tomorrow I am going to write another post where I want to share two great recipes and show you my kitchen overhaul, well pantry overhaul that I tackled recently, what a job that was! xx

A Whole Lot of Little Things Make Up One Big Life!

Beautiful Borage is back!

I love borage and so do the bee’s, it’s lovely to have it back in the garden again. It’s been a time of lot’s of little things around here lately. Reorganising cupboards, cleaning out the old and unused and trying to pick as many tomatoes as I can, when I can, and turn it into delicious things like Tomato Sauce and Tomato Jam. The citrus keeps coming so another batch of Marmalade is next on the list! And suprisingly I have still been getting chilli’s, so sweet chilli sauce is a must. Thankfully chilli’s and tomatoes can be frozen, so if need be that can buy some time.

My kitchen bench of late, daily collection of eggs (can you spot the goose egg) tomatoes and citrus. This is a tidy version, there is usually much more!

I have noticed a change in my garden this Winter, we have had a few frosts in the end of the garden where the vegetables grow, however the shrubs and trees around it seem to have created a little micro-climate where it is not getting frost damage. That and the sprinklers turned on before the sun hits. I have been thinking though that the sun would not hit my vegetables until after the frost would of melted anyway. It’s amazing how the garden changes and evolves as it grows. We have been having extremely windy weather and it’s a little sanctuary down there, protected from that too. I find the chickens, geese and ducks happy to hide down there for the best part of the day in extreme conditions, they have the best of everything now, shade, protection from the wind and tomatoes/ weeds flying out of the vege garden when farmer Jo is in there! : )

Happy chickens!

I have been making sure the chickens have a nice deep layer of mulch in the chook pen, and feeding out plenty of leafy greens like arrowroot leaves, comfrey and chicory. I have chicory all the time in the vegetable garden, it’s extremely hardy and grows year round, self-seeding. It has a deep taproot and helps to break up compacted soil, so a great addition to your garden. You can find it on the Green harvest website if you would like seed here in Australia.

Mr Handsome!

Happy, healthy chooks means lovely eggs, and, it just makes me happy to see them happy. The other day I collected 19 eggs! I’ve had such lovely feedback from people saying how much they enjoy our eggs, doesn’t get much better than that!

A Goose egg!

This is a meal all in itself a goose egg in my AUS-ION pan, these are from SOLIDTEKNICS. I have finally finished with spending money on pans that promise the world and just don’t last. From now on it’s cast iron or these which are amazing and much lighter than the cast iron. These are made from wrought iron. Now that I have finished seasoning it, the food including eggs slides right off. It has a date of when it was made in the handle, why?? Because your Grandchildren will be able to use it! They are expensive, but when I think of the money I have spent over the years on other products. Even if I buy one a year, and keep on with my cast iron, that’s fine with me. One or two things to remember is heat the pan before you put your food in, never wash in dishwashing detergent. And unlike a lot of other products it keeps getting better over time.

Some of our young cattle that will be going to market next week

This is my tomato sauce, it’s so good. I can guarantee you, if you make this and taste it, you will not want the shop stuff again! Even if you have no tomatoes, it’s still delicious with tin tomatoes. My recipe is from the ever reliable Sally Wise, out of her “A Year In a Bottle” recipe book, and it is called Winter tomato sauce (I think because you have the option of fresh or tin tomatoes). I have been making it for years with tin, fresh and frozen tomatoes.

For the above result, 9 jars I doubled the recipe, which requires a large pot, or if it gets a bit scary like mine did, you can use two pots until it’s reduced down enough to fit it all into one : )

Into a large pot place

  • 500g sugar
  • 2kg tomatoes
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cooking apple, cored and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 dessertspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 3 cups white vinegar (I always use apple cider vinegar)

Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until the mixture has thickened to a sauce-like consistency. Then you need to push it through a sieve, once cool. I take my pot over to the sink and have a large bowl in the sink, as well as my chook bucket. Then I take cup fulls of the sauce mixture and push it through the sieze then what’s left in my sieve goes into the chook bucket. Repeat until you’ve finished and put the sauce back into a clean pot. If it seems too runny, I like to thicken it with a mix of vinegar and cornflour, you make a runny paste, put into the cooled sauce and heat the sauce gently again. The end result should be a nice thick sauce.

Have jars boiling on the stove, take your jars and place them on a board. Fill them, I find using a funnel to be the easiest way, seal with sterilised lids that have been boiled with your jars and your sauce will keep for up to a year.

The promise of peaches in the Summer

I feel like the garden is getting ready to burst into a new song! The Hollyhocks are getting very tall and on the verge of opening up into flower as well as so many other things. When I stand in there, I feel like it’s just about ready to burst! I love to just sit or stand and take it all in, so much to be grateful for. I made a lovely cream of chicken soup the other night and it felt so good to go and pick fresh, organic celery and carrots from the garden to put in it, as well as corn I had grown and frozen. The work of our hards is never in vain, all the little things add up to make one big life! Yours and mine, however your days might look, it’s all important xx

Making Each Day Count

Time……. it always seems to move so fast. I start each day with the hope and prayer I’ll use it wisely. I want to finish each day knowing I’ve done what I should for that day and the good sense to leave what can be left for tomorrow. The balance of smelling the roses and a good days work. To have that sense of satisfaction, knowing my day was full and I’ve used that precious time well. It is a gift, each day is a precious gift. Sometimes we need inspiration or motivation and it can come in the most unlikely places, a book, a blog post, a visit from someone, or simply a memory. We need each other that is for sure, each story, each journey, those little encounters all mean something.

I was inspired this morning to bake these Bran Muffins from a new cookbook I purchased, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook. It’s funny how things happen. I came across a lovely photo on Social Media and someone asked if it was a photo of Tasha Tudor, so I looked up her name and she is the illustrator of the classic story “The Secret Garden” as well as many other stories. I saw this recipe book and thought I would treat myself to it. Around the same time a beautiful friend lent me the movie (latest version) of The Secret Garden, which I am very much looking forward to watching! Tasha Tudor sounds like a woman after my own heart, gardening, baking, cooking from scratch, chickens, milking cow and one of her quotes ” Everything in moderation, except gardening” Ha, love it!

I have just started embroidery! I thought I would show you the beginnings of my project! These lovely little kits come with everything you need to get started, they are made and put together by a couple of ladies in Melbourne, sister’s I think. I’m trying to tackle the French knot at the moment, for the flowers. I think they are a great idea, the fact that it’s not a major project, it’s something I can just pick up when I get the time suits me. And hopefully at the end I will off learnt more and ended up with a lovely picture!

A fairly decent carrot!
Why???? There are 6 nesting boxes! Why must we all use the same one.
The anticipation of the door about to be opened : )
An exciting find in my garden!

Inside the nest xx

This nest was such a joy to find! Down in my vegetable garden, I was working away, when I heard the sound of babies chirping excitedly as the parents fed them. The nest is amazing!! It took me some time to find the opening, (my eyes aren’t the best) however when I did, I very carefully took this photo of them tucked up safely inside. They are flying around now, hiding in my shrubs and tree’s, the parents are still feeding them. The added joy of gardening, all the visitors that come and go, or stay and call it home!

Well there has been an abundance of lemons, oranges and mandarins, so I have been busy making marmalade. Next I will be using up my tomatoes that are growing like crazy at the moment and turning them into Tomato Jam and Tomato Sauce.

It’s a lovely wet day here today, hopefully this whole area will get a good soaking. I rushed around yesterday fertilising and planting out, digging up and moving roses all in time for the rain that is supposed to fall today and tomorrow. I have been picking carrots and digging up fresh potatoes, ohhhh there is nothing in the world like a fresh potato!! I just love this time of year!

Tasha Tudor’s Bran Muffin Recipe

  • 2 cups crushed bran flakes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons very soft butter
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used the trick 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup molasses (I didn’t have molasses, so I used golden syrup)
  • 1/2 cup of raisins (I used chopped up dates)

Preheat oven to 200 degress celsius

In a large mixing bowl, combine crushed bran flakes, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in butter, buttermilk. eggs, molasses, and raisins.

Bake 20-25 minutes in greased muffin pan

For some reason I used muffin cases, I wouldn’t do this again, they stick to the cases. In hindsight I should have greased my muffin tin with butter and a dusting of flour. The next day they do stick less, live and learn! They are also very nice cut in half and buttered, which makes me wonder if I might try it as a loaf, but muffins make for a nice change and are handy. Or as Tasha Tudor would say “they travel well, store well, and are nourishing, filling, and invariably welcomed by visitors”.

What more could you ask for! xx

Pineapple Loaf

Just a quick post today to share this lovely recipe. A few people have asked me for it, so I thought why not share it with everyone😊

Pineapple Loaf

  • 450g Can Crushed Pineapple (if I don’t have any I get pineapple chunks or slices and blitz them)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Self-Raising Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Castor Sugar
  • 1 Cup Coconut
  • 1/2 Cup Milk

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Line a small loaf tin, I use my Willow Orange Cake loaf tin which is approx. 21.5cm long X 11cm Wide measuring on the inside. If you double the mix a 24cm long X 13.5cm wide loaf tin works well (also measured on the inside)

Drain pineapple, make sure to press as much of the syrup out as you can, discard syrup.

Place pineapple, and egg in a large bowl, stir together with a wooden spoon, then add remaining ingredients, mix well. Spread mixture into lined loaf tin.

Bake for around 50mins

Pecans about a month ago
Pecans now!

My discovery this morning when I was walking around in the orchard, pecans! Our first year of harvesting nuts, it should get better with every year now. It’s such a good feeling to be getting more and more produce from our tree’s. Providing for ourselves and as time goes by hopefully plenty to share.

My little friend in the Pecan tree xx
Some of the girls at work
Rambling Nasturtiums

Take care and stay warm! xx

Chicken Pie, Cackleberries and Winter Wonders!

Well it’s been a while since my last post! I hope you haven’t given up on me! It feels wonderful to be back : ) The month of May has been a time of feeling under the weather, getting sick, then getting better and catching-up. It can be quite a process! It’s lovely to be back to normal and in the garden, it’s amazing how much can change when you haven’t been in there for a bit. To my delight all my Winter flowers and herbs are popping up everywhere all on their own, it always amazes me : )

Beautiful Calendulas are coming up everywhere and smiling at me!

I’ve been busy planting out Winter seedlings that have been crying out to me from my gardening table! They should be happy now, they’ve made it to the garden! Some of them include, cabbages, broccoli and different varieties of spinach and silverbeet. I have a golden rule in my Winter Garden. I never plant out broccoli until I see coriander starting to germinate. I have found over the years if I grow broccoli and coriander together I never have an issue with pests. My veges are completely organic, so my herbs play a vital role. The way I like to go about my gardening is to try and work with nature not against it. Not only are the results beneficial to your health, it is a lot less expensive and labour intensive. My other rule is no neat rows!! No, there is nothing formal and neat about my garden, but to me it is rambling and beautiful. And thankfully each year I see the soil getting better and better. This will be our 9th year on this farm, good soil takes time and effort. Don’t give up, keep digging in those kitchen scraps and green manure crops. It works, but it takes time. Time not money! Don’t get caught up in all the stuff they try to sell you, gardening is for everyone, it shouldn’t cost you a fortune. Grow from seed, let plants go to seed and self seed, dig kitchen scraps and plants/weeds into your garden, mulch. Think back to times gone by and keep things simple.

Just in this spot alone there is borage, calendulas, Phacelia, dill, zinnia’s, lucerne and of course tomatoes!! All self-germinating without me!
Staggered plantings of my vegetables throughout it all
Definately rambling!

The new hens are settling in, their official breed name is a bond white, which is a white Leghorn cockerel crossed with a Rhode Island White Hen. I have been doing some research and the so called ISA Browns most people get, around here anyway, are actually Bond Brown hens and these are a cross between a Rhode Island Red cockerel crossed with a Rhode Island White Hen. So there you go! The ISA Brown genes have been kept a secret, so I’ve always wondered how people were able to breed them. I think most of them would be Bond Brown hens, or crosses. It seems the Bond Brown hen is more popular than the whites because people prefer a dark brown egg??? I wonder is this so?? Do you care if your egg is white, cream or dark brown?? I think if I was buying eggs I would like to see a mix of colours.

Cackleberries!!! Also known as eggs : )
I love to sit on my chair and spend time with the girls xx
I always catch these two napping in the garden ; )

I love this time of year, it’s such a relief to have lovely cool days and snuggly nights! I love the shorter days, when you live on the land it’s always hard to get everyone in and sorted for dinner. Even I want to be outside at the end of the day because it’s so much cooler. For a time the shorter days mean an early knock off and dinner on time! A change in seasons, also means a change in routines and I think that’s good for us.

I have a delicious Chicken Pie recipe to share with you, it’s so good!! And nothing time consuming or complicated.

Chicken Pie!

  • 400g Chicken Thighs diced (it’s okay if you use more)
  • 1 Large Onion diced
  • 2 Medium Carrots diced
  • 1 Large Potato diced
  • 1 Cup Frozen Peas and Corn
  • 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Cream
  • 1 Cup Grated Tasty Cheese
  • 2 Sheets Puff Pastry

Take Puff Pastry from the freezer and cover with a damp tea towel, or at least have it covered so it doesn’t dry out and preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

Add a tbsp of oil to a pan, add chicken and fry until browned. Add onion and cook until transparent, add potato and carrot. Season to taste, fry off a little. Then add chicken soup and cream, stir through. Add peas and corn, cover and cook gently for 20-30 mins. Fold cheese through and allow to cool.

Grease a pie dish with butter and a dusting of flour. Place your sheet of puff pastry in, spread it out with your fingers so it fits out the dish. Spoon your filling in, place your second sheet of puff pastry on top, push down the sides so it is joined, sometimes I like to get a fork and push around the rim to finish off. Bake in your oven until golden.

I hope you try it and end enjoy it

I think this photo speaks for itself. But here are my thoughts 1- basil is extremely tough, it will even grow in my driveway! And 2- even in the most challenging circumstances life and hope can bloom xx

See you soon! xx

Around The Garden And Another Delicious Loaf Recipe!

Well the garden is coming along, the seeds are germinating, more seedlings have been planted out, celery is in the ground, the beans are climbing and the weather is getting cooler, hope springs eternal!

In this photo the beans are just starting to climb, and the other plants are lucerne, dahlias and zinnias.

The Capsicums are ripening, and the corn is coming along very nicely. It will be a treat to have fresh corn at the end of Autumn!

I have been thinking it’s looking like a good time to start picking my rosella’s. Begin the process of cooking some lovely jam while they are plump and juicy! Can you see the soilder beetle on one of the leaves on the bottom left, I didn’t realise until I had put the photo up here, what a wonderful suprise!! Another beneficial insect, making my vege garden home : ) Love it!!

The start of our potatoes and garlic are starting to pop their heads up, very exciting!! I have a lot more potatoes to go in. There is just nothing like a eating a fresh potato from the garden, it would have to be one of the loveliest experiences to eat a fresh potato, boiled with melted butter!! Bliss!! I will eventually fill up this trench with the mounded dirt as the potatoes come up, and mulch. If it looks like frost at any stage over the cooler months, my plan is to go down early before the sun hits their leaves and turn the overhead sprinklers on, this will stop ice from forming or melt any ice and prevent the burning of their leaves.

This was another lovely suprise, grown from seed I had saved, planted out as a seedling a week ago and producing already! It’s late in the season to be planting zucchini but I like to mix it up and take my chances with certain things, I guess keep the garden adaptable so that if we have a warmer Winter, I will have food for our table and if we have a cold Winter, my broccoli and cauliflowers etc will grow well. I’ve learnt over the years if I stay too focused on cold Winter vegetables over Winter months, I can get disappointing results. Our Winters vary so the garden and my thinking needs to be flexible and ready for what may come. Farming of any sort is never predictable, so we need to be flexible. Some things will work and some will not.

Nasturtiums

Nasturtiums!! A great addition to any garden. They make a great companion plants in the vegetable garden and they are edible. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all a good source of vitamin C. Mine come up every year on their own as the weather gets cooler. I planted seed once and have never had to do it again. My son loves to suck on the flowers and taste the nectar. They are great performers that flower well even in poor soil and attract beneficial insects and pollinators. And well they are just very pretty!

Sometimes I’m just amazed by all the colours in a garden, there are just moments where you really appreciate how beautiful and amazing nature is.

In one of my last posts I talked about trying pellets that are used for horse stables in raising seed. You wet the pellets and it expands, holds moisture and seed germinates in it. Well I have to say it’s not for me. But what I have done is mix it in with some dirt we already had here, which was a little water repellent (courtesy of our cattle yards ; ) I’ve found by mixing the pellets in with the dirt it seems to have a much better water holding capacity and the seed is germinating and doing much better after the initial germination. Another lesson learnt!

The numbers in our hen house have grown recently, I have purchased some new White Leghorns. I’m trying to increase my number of fresh free range eggs. It’s a settling in time at the moment, but I can’t wait to let them out into the paddock! The White Leghorns are known for being great converters of feed to egg ratio. Which basically means they won’t eat you out of house and home like some of the other breeds, and will give you a very reliable supply of eggs. Win, win!! They are known for being flighty, but these seem quiet enough, I’ve even had one let me pat it and hold it! We had a lovely little chat : )

This is so nice with a cuppa, I did put butter on it, but I found it looked nicer in the photo butter side down ; )

This is such a lovely loaf, so good!! And a throw it all in the bowl and mix it one! I baked it for the first time just the other day and I thought this is one I have to share with you! It’s an Apple and Sultana Cake but yes I used chopped up dates instead of sultanas : )

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a loaf tin.

You simply peel and dice 2 apples, chop 1 cup of dates (if using dates) and melt 125g butter.

Then mix all together in a bowl your apples, 1 cup of dates or sultanas, 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, beaten, 125g melted butter and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Mix with a wooden spoon.

Bake for 50-60mins – once mine was out of the oven I put a little butter on the top to melt and sprinkle of castor sugar and cinnamon.

Well I hope this post finds you well, thank you so much for coming and taking the time to visit with me and read my posts. The number of people coming and subscribing keeps growing and it just fills me with so much joy. To be able to share a little of my life here on our farm and hopefully give you something positive to take into your day or even maybe give you a good recipe to add to your collection is such a blessing!! Take care xx