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!! 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


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 : )


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

Inside or Outside? Kitchen or Garden?

Magnificent!! A beautiful visitor on my rose this morning : )

It’s a never ending tussle in my mind. To work outside or inside! There’s always plenty to do on either side. And the thing about growing food is, sometimes in addition to your usual cooking there is pickling and preserving to do. These are good problems to have though, and in the end it all gets taken care of one way or another. And there is also the absolute certainty that it will still be there tomorrow! ; ) It’s been a busy time with my second child leaving home, getting his licence (yay!) and getting on top of chores around the house and in the garden, ready for the most exciting and productive time of the year for us. The rain has been falling which has been so lovely and welcome, so far we have registered 50mls in our rain gauge. The cooler weather has been bliss too. It’s just such relief. The tanks that supply our water to the house have been overflowing, so as any wise woman would do I have been taking just a little longer in the shower. Oh the spoiling!!

Tomato Relish

I made this lovely relish yesterday with this old recipe card that was shared on a group post. I think it’s a Women’s Weekly one, I did a few things differently. I did not separate the tomatoes and onions. I placed them in the same bowl together with 1 Tbsp of salt not 2. And I did this early in the morning then made the relish in the afternoon. I didn’t do the seperate boiling times, I put everything in the pot and boiled until it was reduced down and nice and thick. To skin the tomatoes, you score the bottoms of them with a sharp knife then place them in or pour boiling water over them, drain then put into cold water. I always sterilise my jars by boiling them, so once the relish was in the jars and sealed, I placed them in the pot of boiling water with the lid on and let them boil for a few minutes, then turned it off and let them sit in the pot overnight. By morning all the lids had sealed, even the cheaper jars which I can sometimes have trouble with.

Boiled Fruitcake, I like mine with a little butter and a cup of tea or with custard for dessert : )

While I was in the kitchen yesterday I also made 2 boiled fruitcakes, one for us and one for a gift. This is a lovely recipe and the great thing about fruitcake is it keeps getting better and better!

Boiled Fruit Cake

  • 125g Butter
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Soft Brown Sugar (I used Rapadura)
  • 1 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 200g Chopped Dates
  • 80g Sultanas
  • 80g Mixed Fruit
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/2 Cup Rum (Sherry or Port)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Plain Flour
  • 1 Cup Self-Raising Flour

Place the butter, water, sugar, spices, fruit, bicarb. soda and rum in a large pot and bring to the boil. Pour into a mixing bowl ( this will allow it to cool down quicker) leave to cool, heat oven to 150 degrees celcius. Grease a deep 20cm round or square cake tin, line the base with baking paper then grease again.

Whisk the eggs then add to the mixture along with the flours. Mix until well combined, pour into tin and bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

You can coat the outside of the cake with a little more alcohol if you like, I use a pastry brush and just lightly go over it, this will help it to keep for longer.

The Rosella’s are very happy after the rain.
More babies!
Curry Tree getting inspected after some pruning and tidying. Nice shady spot to hang out too ; )

Well as well as working in the garden, I have been organising in the house. Adjusting to cooking for 3, and marveling at how the house stays cleaner with one less person, who would of thought!! Amazing!! It also made me think of how hard we can be on ourselves. Sometimes we just don’t realise or appreciate all the other contributing factors going on in our lives and homes. We are human!! So have a cup of something you really enjoy and take some time for yourself, because it will all still be there, but your peace may not if you don’t take that time to just be still and breath.

I have more I want to write and share but I’ll save it for my next post, it’s so lovely to be back, see you soon : )

It’s a New Day!

The happy morning dance!

I love those early morning moments just on daybreak as the sun announces a new day. It seems like such a special time of the day, everyone and everything is fresh and all the possibilities of the day ahead await you. However there are also those times when the thought of a new day leaves us feeling a little anxious as we step into the unknown or prepare to face events that are going to stir different or difficult emotions in us. It is all part of the journey really isn’t it. And I guess we appreciate those special mornings even more when we have faced the challenges and can experience the calm and peace again. Simple pleasures are a wonderful thing. I’ve had a full week so this morning to be able to just be quieter and do simple things like watch the geese do their happy morning dance, help a guinea fowl get back to her friends and think on a lovely visit I had with family yesterday was very lovely! And of course enjoy a cup of tea or two.

Twins!! Born a day after my birthday : )
A very clever girl!

I have discovered an even better date loaf recipe than the previous one I shared a little while ago and have been looking forward to showing you. I have had a couple of very special ladies test it out, as well as my family and they all gave it a big thumbs up. So it has most definately been tried and tested. And an added bonus is, it has half the sugar than my previous recipe and uses wholemeal flour. So not only does it taste great but is healthier too.

This one has 1 cup of all-bran, 1 cup milk, 1 cup dried fruit (I use just under 1 cup of chopped dates), 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1 cup whole-meal self-raising flour.

Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius

Mix all ingredients together in bowl and leave to sit for at least 1/2 an hour. Then pour into a lined small loaf tin. Bake for 1 hour, some ovens may take less time so check it after 40 mins.

I made this one in the early hours of the morning, before the heat set in. There is also something very lovely about baking in those early hours, when it’s quiet and cool, it almost feels like your one step ahead and it’s such a nice feeling to have something prepared before the day has even properly begun.

The end of the day is pretty special too

I have been getting some lovely cucumbers from the garden, so I decided to make some bread and butter pickles. It’s such an easy one, so if you are new to preserving it’s a great one to try. And a great addition to sandwiches, burgers or on your plate with salad and cold meat.

Simply thinly slice 1 kilo of cucumbers and 1 onion and place in a ceramic or glass bowl with 1/4 cup of salt and enough water to cover. Cover the bowl and leave overnight.

Strain and rinse the next day. In a pot heat 2 cups of white vinegar, 1 – 2 cups of sugar depending on how sweet you like it. Pickling spices about 1 tbsp, you can add some chilli flakes if you like. Or if you haven’t got any pickling spice a mix of mustard seed and peppercorns will do, whatever you have in your cupboard. A dash of tumeric and some sprigs of dill if you have it on hand.

Heat this mix until sugar has dissolved. Put your cucumbers and onion into hot sterilised jars, push the cucumbers down so they are packed in and pour your liquid into the jars so the cucumbers are covered and put lids on securely. As the jars cool the lids should make a pop sound as the middle part of the lid goes down. If any of them don’t you will need to either water bath them in a pot ( place jars in a pot and cover with water and simmer for at least 10mins) or alternatively store them in the fridge. Leave to pickle for 2-3 weeks before eating.

Well Autumn has arrived which means my brain is starting to imagine what seeds I’m going to start planting out and all the tidying up I need to start doing in preparation for our growing season. And there is a lot of tidying up to be done! With the extreme heat and busy days, I haven’t been in there as much and things are looking a bit crazy, but nothing a couple of days of hard work can’t sort out, and hopefully some cooler overcast days.

My favourite corn seed from Greenharvest has arrived as well as carrot and celery seed and Zaatar seed, which I don’t think I have grown before, it’s a relative of oregano. I have saved broccoli and cauliflower seed from last year and I have tomatoes constantly coming up on their own, so no need to worry about those. I will have lettuce growing, potatoes and beetroot, peas and beans. The flowers will slowly change to the cooler weather varieties as well as the herbs. As I watch my garden and see what’s germinating of it’s own accord from the seed in the soil from previous seasons, I can tell more accurately what is ready to start planting out. Our gardens have a voice if we listen closely enough!

Have a beautiful weekend and don’t forget to do your happy morning dance, even if it’s on the inside. xx

Fruit Fly, Mosquito Nets and Mango Cheesecake

I have been losing so much fruit lately, all my lemons are getting stung and some of my oranges. It’s so disappointing to have so much fruit go to waste. So I have decided to firstly keep my fruit trees at a manageable size, and secondly put nets over them to protect the fruit. These two tree’s are a mandarin and a Washington navel. I purchased these mosquito nets which were cheaper than fruit fly nets, and my thinking is, if they can keep out mosquitoes, they can keep out fruit fly! Because of their design they should be simple enough down the track to make a frame, so the tree’s are not bearing all the weight.

Green manure crop of Japanese Millet and Cowpea
Rosella Jam will be coming soon!
Milking Cow -Maudrey : )

It’s been a busy time lately. I think I’m still trying to find my routine from the Christmas break, which seems a strange thing to say. But I feel like I’m in this funny phase of limbo, my second eldest is getting ready to leave home in March to start University, and it’s this time of waiting for it, but making the most of what time you have before he flies the nest, so to speak. Those moments when you know a season is ending but a new one is about to begin and all the thoughts and emotions that go with that. We will be left with our youngest who is 10 still at home. A new shaping of our family! And this is how it should be, each one making his/her way in the world. Learning, growing and becoming an adult in a world filled with wonders and challenges.

They don’t stay babies!
Mango Cheesecake!

We had such a lovely time with our daughter last weekend she drove out to the farm for a visit, she turned 19 and I turned 44 last week! So I figured a special treat was in order, a mango cheesecake! What could be more delicious mango and cheesecake!! I had some in the freezer from when our tree was fruiting ( you could use tin mango) and it turned out to be just the right amount, it was meant to be! The colour is beautiful and the taste is delicious! Everyone voted it the best cheesecake ever : )

This recipe was supposed to be mixed in a food processor, however for mine I just used a stick blender to puree the mango and to mix the cheesecake. The less dishes the better. And when I do my biscuit base I always bash the biscuits in a decent bag with a rolling pin.

Mango Cheesecake

  • 250 grams plain biscuits ( I used Scotch Finger Biscuits)
  • 150 grams butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp gelatine
  • 500 grams cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup castor sugar
  • 400 grams mango pieces
  • 300 ml thickened cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut to decorate (optional)

Lightly grease the base of a 22cm springform tin and line the sides of your tin with baking paper. Take the cream cheese out of your fridge and unwrap to get it to room temperature, this helps to get a smooth finish.

Crush the biscuits and add the melted butter, mix and press into the tin then place in your fridge to chill.

Heat water and mix in gelatine, stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Puree mango in a food processor or with a stick blender.

Place cream cheese in a food processor or bowl with sugar and mango and blend until smooth. Add cream, blend again, slowly add gelatine and blend until all mixed through and smooth.

Pour into tin, smooth the top and place back into the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to set.

Lilly Pilly look so lovely covered in fruit
Salvia’s are a great addition to any garden including vegetable gardens!

I have been having fun learning how to make coffee on the stovetop with an espresso maker. Rhonda at down—to— shared a slow living silent vlog, Apronful of Stones, which I really enjoyed. As I was watching I saw her making coffee on the stove top, and was inspired! I am a devoted tea drinker, however I have to say coffee made this way is very nice, it will not replace my tea but makes for a nice change now and then ; ) and the smell, love the smell of coffee!

Freshly ground coffee beans, they even look lovely!
And up it comes into the top ready to pour out.

Have you had much needed rain in your area? We are hoping and praying it will come to this part of QLD. We have been missing out, and the combination of very hot days and no moisture is making the paddocks turn off again. We were hoping for a good wet season this year, but it hasn’t happened so far. Having said that, we are looking much better now than last year, and we are so happy and thankful that a good storm came over in January which filled all our dams. However there has been no follow up rain, the clouds come but nothing much falls out of them, not good! It really does make such a difference to your whole outlook when rain falls, it’s just so refreshing and everything and everyone is happy, just so precious. Hopefully it will come before to long and we will relish it! The ants are going crazy, so this could be a very good sign.

The geese love it when I’m splashing water around : )

I hope where ever you are, you able to find time to rest and recharge. To keep doing that next thing. Focusing on doing the next thing infront of us is so important and keeps you in the right frame of mind rather than thinking too far ahead all the time. We miss out on so much when our minds are racing ahead and not focused on the here and now. The actual moment that we are in. I often catch myself out when I’m going about my day, my mind races on to all the other things I have to do. And further on into the future days, while I think planning and preparation are necessary and important. I also think staying focused on the thing that is front of us is also important and healthy. A healthy balance, days and moments go by so quickly, seasons begin and end, we are always learning, growing and changing, a process, a journey! xx

Using What You Have on Hand

I have to say I have been really enjoying my passionfruit cordial of late. When I come up to the house after working outside it’s so refreshing, much better than anything you can buy from the shops. If you can get your hands on some passionfruit or have it growing in your garden, it’s well worth a go. It uses up a lot too, so those times when you have passionfruit coming out of your ears, cordial is a wonderful way to use them up. My recipe is in one of my previous posts, but it’s just a matter of mixing 1 cup of pulp, 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp of citric acid in a pot, then heat until the sugar dissolves and bottle, simple! For my last batch I doubled the recipe and ended up with this full bottle and half again which has already been consumed : )

Capsicum, shallots and silverbeet from the garden

I was getting ready to make mince chow mein the other night, and decided to use whatever I had on hand instead of exactly what was in the recipe and it turned out great. Seasonal cooking and adapting recipes to suit. The Capsicums in the photo are a Perennial Capsicum that can live for up to 5 years. It’s very hardy and produces a lot of Capsicums. They are a little fiddly to prepare, however I don’t mind because they taste great and are so easy to grow. I take the top of and with a little vegetable knife scoop out the seeds before chopping. You can purchase the seeds online through Greenharvest.

My Mince Chow Mein Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp Oil
  • 500g Mince
  • 1 Med Brown Onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 Tbsp Curry Powder (or to taste)
  • 1 Large Carrot, chopped finely
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 1/3 Cup Oyster Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Soya Sauce
  • 450g Egg Noodles
  • 1/2 Cup Froz. Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Froz. Beans
  • 1/2 Small Chinese Cabbage

Heat oil, stir fry mince and onion until brown. Add curry and stir-fry for about 1 minute or until fragrant. Add carrot and fry until they soften. Add stock, sauces and noodles, stir-fry gently until combined, bring to the boil. Add peas, beans and cabbage, reduce heat; simmer uncovered tossing occasionally for about 5 minutes or until veges are just soft.

Maudrey my milking cow

This is Maudrey, hopefully we will be very good friends and she will be co-operative in giving me some of her beautiful milk! We purchased her just before Christmas, so hopefully by Spring she will have a calf and I will have fresh milk again! It’s amazing the difference in some milking cows, I’ve had one that was of the mind, as long as she had a treat to eat while I’m at work milking, I could have all of her milk. Then I’ve had another that was so stubborn she would completely stop her milk flow, in the end I had to let the calf on and let it have two teats while I milked the other two. Which is a tricky business as they get older and are head butting the udder as they drink. The reward awaits though! It’s such a beautiful sight to have bottles of fresh milk in the fridge with all that cream on top, I can’t wait!

A little suprise down in the chook pen!
My Sunflowers just keep coming! I never have to buy seed anymore, hardy, beautiful and useful!

The Guinea Fowl are doing well, it’s like they have always been here. I have kept one of my young roosters that hatched out here and they are never far from his side. I thought they would fly out of the chook pen and do their own thing, but no it seems they want to be in here with everyone else. Even when I let them out in the afternoon, they go back in for the night with the rest of them, funny little things they are. At the moment we have an outbreak of grasshoppers and crickets, it’s very amusing watching them chasing after all these delectable delights! Certainly keeps them busy and us entertained : )

The garden is slow this time of year, however I’m still harvesting cucumbers, capsicum and chillies, the tomatoes are starting to come on again. Lettuce, silverbeet and shallots are in a cooler more shaded spot. And the rosella seedlings I planted are coming along nicely. Flowers such as Zinnia’s and Dahlia’s keep popping up all over the place and flowering along side the herbs and Salvia’s. I have my green manure crop in and am trying to improve the soil in time for cooler weather. The garden is alive with finches fluttering here and there as well as butterflies and bees! Sometimes I’m amazed at all that’s going on around me! xx

Chicken’s and Making Beautiful Soil!

A very co-operative butterfly having breakfast on my Drumstick tree flower

I just could not imagine my garden without my chicken’s. They have been so valuable over the years in so many ways. From their delicious eggs, to the free fertiliser, to the sheer enjoyment of just being around them. Having said that they can be very painful when you are trying to keep mulch around your trees and garden! I have recently gone from letting mine out all day to only late in the afternoon. They have a very big run to peck around in all day long, and plenty of shade, so it’s not such a bad compromise. In this heat I need to have mulch around my trees and gardens to lock in any moisture I can, so for now this is the plan. The geese and ducks are free to roam around and the guinea fowl, however the guinea fowl seem to want to be with their chicken friends!

I like to make my own dirt for raising seeds etc. by having a layer of mulch/hay on the floor of my chook pen all year round. Then when I clean it out, it all goes to a large compost pile that we turn with the tractor every now and then, as well as my small one right outside the chook pen door.

Dirt in the making!

After a bit of time you will end up with a layer of dirt and hay when you clean it out, the dirt layer will depend on how often you do it and the weather. I throw scraps in here for them too, which encourages them to scratch around and turn it over. Whatever they don’t eat will break down in here or in the compost. Even giving it a rake and stirring it up is good to do occasionally and gives the chickens some excitement!

My small drum outside the chook pen door
Beautiful soil ready for me to use

This takes time, but it is well worth it, when I dig down there are so many worms, it’s so much better than anything you can buy from the shops. Every know and then I throw in my bucket of kitchen scraps and I always wet it down when I go in and clean their water. This will be used in raising my next lot of corn seeds and topping up pots etc. All those little jobs, I’ve already taken some to use in other little gardening projects. So once this is empty I will start again and in 3-4 months it will be looking good again.

I have been enjoying a passionfruit everyday lately. I will start making Passionfruit cordial in the next day or so. It is a favourite around here, the recipe I use is very simple.

  • 1 cup passionfruit pulp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

Combine the ingredients in a pot and mix well, heat but do not allow it to boil, you just want to make sure the sugar has dissolved. Take it off the heat and leave to cool.

Strain through a fine sieve and pour into sterilised bottles, seal straight away. This will keep for a year and makes around 400ml.

To make a cool drink dilute one part syrup with 4 parts water, lemonade or soda water.

Or you could use it as a syrup over your icecream! Yumm!! I do that with my homemade mulberry and rosella jam. My husband always comments, “You wouldn’t get this at any restaurant” or “You’d have to pay a fortune to eat something like this at a restaurant”. It always reminds me of that Australian movie the Castle, so funny!

I hope you have a lovely weekend, I will be mulching, watering and catching up on jobs in the house and in the garden. It’s supposed to be pretty warm here over the next few days, hopefully the heat might bring some rain or storms. Some rain days would be very welcome! Rain, a good book, a cup of tea, and a little treat, yes please!! : )