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

Fuss Free Clean Windows and My Go To Muffin and Mini Quiche Recipes

Washing windows!! I have always wanted to find a way to clean my windows that actually worked, didn’t cost a fortune or leave smudges. Sometimes you can clean a window, it looks great, then when the morning light or the sun hits it in a certain way, the window that looked so lovely after all your hard work, now doesn’t look so great!

I have always loved the feeling of looking out of a clean window. I don’t like cleaning windows, but I love to have them ; ) And living in the country has it’s fair share of challenges. The only lights out here are our lights so every bug and insect is attracted to our house (windows!) and what is attracted to insects??? Frogs!!! So when I wake up in the morning not only do I have insect marks, but frog footprints and other left behind tell-tale signs of my nightly visitors.

They are lovely, but they are also very messy. I’ve had to let go a lot over the years with my need for clean windows and that’s been good, because some things in life are an uphill battle, we need to learn when to let go and accept. But every week or so, I’ll get my tools out and wash a few and stand back and think, gosh I love a clean window!

My Tools

This is what I use, a cloth nappy/or an old tea towel, a good quality squeegee, mine is an Australian made one ( Willy Wagtail!) a microfibre cloth or any cleaning cloth, and a bucket of water. If I’m using a microfibre cloth I don’t tend to put any detergent in the water, if I use a normal cloth I put a little of Aldi’s dishwashing detergent in my bucket. I personally find this one gives me the best results, I’ve used other ones that just were not as good.

Clean windows and Frank in his bed, yes he has his own recliner chair ; )

I have a lot of windows in this house, these are my windows at the kitchen. It’s lovely to work away and look out at the world around me, and Frank : ) Sid has his little bed out there too. We are stand alone solar, so the theory would of been, good air flow through the house, to keep it cool, which it does, however there is a lot of glass. The way to have clean windows, without smudges is to touch it with a cloth as little as possible. So I wash the window down with my bucket water, use my squeegee to get all the water off, working top to bottom and use my cloth nappy to dry the rim or edges of the window, and it’s done. It takes a few goes to get your technique down with the squeegee, but once you’ve got it your away!

If you have limited space to grow things, bathtubs are wonderful! I have these one’s at the end of my house where I can just go out and pick things for my kitchen. Very handy and great in Summer when it’s so hot, I can spoil things a bit out here with water and shade. I have herbs, carrots, chillies, silverbeet (chard), often lettuce and other greens, at the moment bok choy and various flowers. I just top them up with compost inbetween crops, it’s very easy to maintain.

Some evidence of the light rain we had last night on my rose

I wanted to share with you my go to muffin recipe, it’s another basic and easy one that I’ve had for years, and enjoyed by all ages. This recipe makes about 12-15 muffins. Depending on how big you make them. I like to individually freeze the ones that don’t get eaten in the first couple of days, then pop them straight into lunches.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 2/3 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk

In a large bowl, rub together flour, sugar and butter until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs.

Stir in mashed banana, choc.chips, egg and milk combine, do not over mix.

Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 190 degrees celsius for 20-25mins (check at 15-20mins)

My other go to recipe – mini quiches, I love these!

Sour Cream Mini Quiches

  • 3-4 rashers bacon (chopped)
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-2 tsps minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 2 sheets puff pastry

Fry bacon and onion until browned.

Then in a bowl mix sour cream, eggs, minced garlic, tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt, the bacon will add some saltiness).

Stir with a whisk until smooth, add bacon and onion then add the cheese and mix.

Cut your puff pastry into rounds, you can use a cookie cutter, suitable glass or empty tin. It doesn’t matter as long as you get the shape and size you need for your muffin tin. I always grease mine with butter and a dusting of flour. I just prefer the taste of this than the spray oil. Place your pastry into muffin tin, then I like to use my 1/4 measuring cup, to carefully fill the pastry just so the mix comes almost to the top. Making sure as much as you can to have an even mix of liquid and bacon/cheese ingredients.

Just about to go into the oven

Bake at 180 degrees celsius until golden

Yumm!!

I hope you try and enjoy these recipes, I have been using them for years.

Here in Australia we have a long weekend for ANZAC day, as we remember and honour the brave men and women who fought, served and sacrificed for our safety, and the safety and freedom of so many. I have so much respect and gratitude for people past and present who give and gave so much to keep us safe. And make/made it possible for us to live the way we do. There are no words really are there, just enormous love, respect and thanks. May we always remember and never take for granted all that they did and all that those who serve continue to do.

Use It All Loaf – A Winner!

Well this one is definitely worth sharing!! It’s simple and it’s delicious. There are all different combinations you can use as you will see in the recipe below, for mine I used a combination of grated pumpkin, grated carrot, dates and walnuts. Then before I popped it into the oven I chopped up some extra walnuts and put them on top as well as pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Very moist and light using whatever you have on hand.

Use It All Loaf

  • 150g (1cup) self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 tsp ground spice or cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice (I used my jar labelled mixed spice)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup (110g) castor (superfine) or raw sugar
  • 150ml sunflower or good quality vegetable oil
  • 300g grated fruit or vegetables – apple, pumpkin, pear, beetroot, carrot, zucchini
  • 75g pantry strays, plus extra on top – choc-chips, seeds, dried fruits or a combination of nuts

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius and line a small loaf tin, the recipe says 23cm loaf (bar) tin with baking paper.

Put your flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and ground spice in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Danish Dough Whisk

This is a great tool I use for baking where you want to be careful not to over mix like mufffins etc. And where the recipe states to fold the ingredients, it’s a wonderful gadget.

In a separate bowl beat together eggs and sugar until pale, thick and frothy.

Slowly add the oil and continue to beat for a few more minutes until smooth and well combined. Add your grated fruit or vegetables and stir to combine.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry mix, adding your choice of pantry strays. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and scatter a few extra nuts or seeds over the top.

Bake for 50-60 mins ( mine took a bit longer, I think it would depend on the fruit etc. and the moisture content, plus I used my smallest loaf tin which can make the cooking time longer, however the end result always ends up nice and moist) I would just keep checking after 50 mins and use your skewer to make sure it’s cooked right through.

This loaf will last well-wrapped for up to a week (I know mine seems to get better each day!)

Some of the suggested combinations to try are:

  • Pumpkin (squash), apple, ground ginger, pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Beetroot (Beet), pear, allspice and choc-chip
  • Zucchini (courgette), apple and hazelnut

Such a practical and tasty recipe : )

Pomegranates

Aren’t they beautiful!! If you are able to plant a pomegranate tree I highly recommend you do. The fruit is not only delicious, it is one of the healthiest foods on the planet!! They tree itself is very hardy and gets the most beautiful and vibrant flowers. The fruit is said to reduce your risk of various illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. It is full of vitamins, so a great fruit to have in your backyard.

Snooze time

Catching Up And Cooler Days

Meet one of the loveliest dogs in the world Frank our Wolfhound cross : )
Frank’s best friend Sid : )

Well I feel like I have so much catching up to do!!I think it has been 3 weeks since my last post. I kept thinking of things I wanted to share with you, but a combination of different things meant I had to pause and come back, so here I am! I hope you have had a nice Easter and perhaps a break from your usual routine. We had a wet Easter which was very, very welcome, wet and cool, not as much rain as they predicted but still a decent amount to top things up and keep things green and happy. It has been lovely and cool again this week with a cool change pushing through on Sunday night. As I was walking around outside yesterday, I couldn’t help but think and notice how content all the animals were. The birds, the dogs, all the animals, all of nature happy and content, relishing the conditions (including the humans!)

I came home from church on Sunday to a lovely suprise, my husband busy in the house yard doing all the mowing and whipper snippering. Everything looked and smelt amazing, I love this kind of spoiling ; )

I have been trying to plant out seeds in preparation for the cooler weather. I keep thinking with just the three of us here now I really should be able to grow and supply most of our vegetables over the cooler months. We got in and dug a trench and planted potatoes last week. Our garlic has gone in. Carrot seed and beetroot seed, my last crop of corn before it gets too cool. Tomatoes are still popping up here, there and everywhere! There is always a cherry tomato to be found somewhere in the garden.

I have my gardening table at the end of the house that has onions and leeks germinating. It’s a first for me growing onions from seed. I also have beans, pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini ready to plant out. I like to cover all bases by having warmer weather veges mixed with cooler weather veges, you just never know what the weather will do, and as long as I get them up and going, I can get away with a lot in our climate, frost is the only thing that will put a stop to them. But I’ll also have my winter broccoli and cauliflower seed going in soon. And I am going to try and grow parsnip from seed, I have never grown parsnip, but I absolutely love eating it! Roast parsnip, yumm! We always have our green leafy vegetables such as bok choy, silverbeet and/or spinach growing too.

This is something I have never used before to germinate seed. It is used for horse bedding and comes in a bag as pellets. When you wet it, this is the result. The bonus is it is fine enough for small seeds like onions and it holds the moisture however, I’m thinking they will be needing to be planted out pretty soon after germination as I can’t see there being any goodness in it for them to feed on. That is why I’ve planted them in egg cartons so I can put the seedling in the garden, egg carton and all and not disturb them when they are so little and fragile. The egg carton will break down and the vegetables will grow, hopefully!

My Butterfly Bush (Clerodendrum Ugandense)

With the cooler weather I found myself wanting a hearty meal, so of to the butcher I went and brought us some Osso Buco and made a lovely casserole. However still adjusting to not cooking for an 18 year old male anymore we had leftovers, yes!! Leftovers!! : ) !! So to make it a bit different when I heated it up the next time we had it I made my potato dumplings to go on top. I have had this recipe for so long and it’s so simple and tasty, I thought I would share it with you today.

This is before I baked them in the oven, I forgot to take a photo of them when they were cooked, we were too excited to eat them : )

Cook 350g of peeled potatoes, drain then add 50g butter and mash. Add 2/3 cup of milk and stir with a wooden spoon, until smooth. Add 1 1/4 cup of sifted flour and 1 1/4 cup grated cheese. Stir until well combined and season with salt and pepper. Put spoonfuls on top of your casserole and bake uncovered in your oven at about 180 degrees celcius. I never really look at the time, I just take them out once they look like they are browning, check them after about 10mins they don’t take too long in a hot oven. They are very delicious and make a meal go a long way.

We have this little family of Willy Wagtails living here, they are teaching their young lifes lessons, it’s lovely to watch and have them darting all around you. The other day I had a very special moment where one of their young, I’m pretty sure it’s this one that visited me at my gardening bench : ) flew into my front door and landed on my window sill in the kitchen. I was standing on my verandah at the time thinking, now how am I going to get this bird outside???? It’s going to fly around everywhere, but would you believe this young bird, just stayed right there and let me clumsily scoop it up. What a joy to let it go after I had a quick look at it, indulged myself and said good morning to my little visitor. What a treat!! I have to say that’s the first time I’ve ever had the privilege to hold a Willy Wagtail : )

What a glorious day!

Take care, and I will be looking forward to sharing a new recipe I have made today. I found it when I was looking at one of my old gardening magazines, it’s called “Use It All Loaf”. I just have to taste it first to make sure it’s worthy of sharing ; ) xx