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—earth.blogspot.com 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!! : )

Turning Produce into Delicious Delights!

Jalapeno Chilli’s

Well I have once again restocked my pantry with delicious sweet chilli sauce. Two things I never buy from the store anymore are sweet chilli sauce and tomato sauce. I ended up making a double batch yesterday with these chillies weighing a wonderful 1/2 kilo. Chillies are very easy to grow over the Summer months. My favourite way to use them up is like this, or I freeze them, for over the Winter months. Normally I grow the bell chillies, it was lovely to pick and chop these larger ones. I find myself having to wear my reading glasses more these days, when preparing food, chopping etc. which feels like a nice safety precaution when chopping chillies! One time I was chopping away and a chilli seed flicked up into my eye! I was here alone and my eye was on fire, I didn’t know what to do, I actually thought I might have permanent eye damage it was so painful. But good old logic and commonsense kicked in and I rinsed my eye out in the shower and the pain eventually settled down, however I definately do not want to go through that again! The kids always laugh when I bring it up, I always start it off with “Now did I tell you about the time I got a chilli seed in my eye?!?” : )

In the pot ready to boil

This is the size I like to get my chilli, ginger and garlic. I like to have some chilli seeds but not too many. I chop it all up roughly then put it into a handy little blender I’ve had for a while, where you pull the string and it chops everything up, the more you pull the string the finer it gets, it’s wonderful and easy to wash up. There is a picture below it’s called a Pull Chopper. My recipe comes from Sally Wise’s book A Year On the Farm. I love this book and I love Sally’s recipes. I have adapted mine slightly to suit my taste.

My Gadget!!

We run on stand alone Solar out here, so things like this that work well and require no power are great! Having said that, even if I had conventional power, I would still love it, it’s just so practical and handy, oh and tough too!

Sweet Chilli Sauce

  • 250g long red chillies, chopped into 3 pieces
  • 4cm piece ginger, very roughly chopped (no need to peel)
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled ( I use about 2-5 large cloves)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups white or cider vinegar (I always use apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 tbsp extra vinegar ( I find I have to use a bit more sometimes to get it to a nice thickness)

Place the chillies, ginger and garlic in a food processor and process until chopped finely, but not so much as to turn it into a paste. Then place it into a saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and salt.

Bring to the boil, stirring, then cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes. Add the cornflour and vinegar paste and stir until slightly thickened. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then pour into sterilised jars and seal immediately.

I have left the chilli mix in the pot until the next day often, made it one day, then reheated, thickened and bottled the next. Sometimes it’s just too hard to fit it all into the one day. This recipe makes about 750ml.

This is the finished product after doubling the recipe, I ended up with 9 lovely jars full!

When my husband leaves for his day’s work at about 5am I always make my way down to the chook pen, to let the geese out and feed and water everyone for the day. Well this morning, when I made it round to my little bird bath to refill with fresh water, I couldn’t work out why the water was so dirty. Usually you have feathers or bird droppings, not muddy water. Well the mystery was solved! I was in the vege patch doing a bit of weeding later in the morning and throwing bits over the fence for the geese and there they are with their beaks in the bird bath having a drink! How clever must they think they are to suddenly work out this new trick!

A Sunflower reaching for the sky!

I just wanted to say thank you to all the people who have subscribed and or are following my blog. I’m enjoying this so much and to think that people are wanting to come and visit with me here is such a blessing, so thank you!

Carrot Cake and Homegrown Produce

Today I decided it was time to pull out all of our carrots, which as you can see really should of been pulled out a long time ago. I have more coming through in the garden, these ones were grown in the styrofoam boxes found in the fruit and vegetable section at the supermarket. They work well for carrots here in our hot climate, they are an ideal depth, you can keep them in a cool part of your yard or garden and give them all the water they need. I find I always leave them in the ground too long though. I think I just love to know I have carrots in my garden. This year I am making a promise to myself that I will pull them out while they are still young and sweet! It has to be one of the most satisfying vegetables to grow and harvest, my 10 year old loves to pull them out. This was one of his chores this morning. At first he didn’t because he thought surely he had heard wrong, I had to reassure him, yes we need to pull all of the carrots out.

With these ones I will grate some for quiches/baking and chop/blanch the rest for different dishes. One thing to remember when growing carrots is, they do not like too much nitrogen and I personally never fertilise mine while they are growing. I try to start of with a soil that is loose and friable and not too rich. The hardest part I find is getting the seed to germinate, they take longer than a lot of other seeds 14-21 days and you need to keep the soil moist this whole time. I like to grown mine in partial shade in the warmer months.

I have put some of those carrots to good use! This is such a delicious carrot cake. It’s an old recipe from a NZ cook Simon Holst the son of Alison Holst. I love the cream cheese icing it gives it that extra something special. I keep mine in the fridge and it just keeps getting better with age, I actually prefer it after a day or two. It will keep for a good two weeks, so if your worried that a whole cake will spoil in your home, that it won’t get eaten in time, you might like to try this one. And remember you can freeze individual portions.

I like to make as much as I can from scratch. It’s partly to do with the fact that my body just doesn’t like all those preservatives in the packaged food. But also it just tastes so much better in my opinion. And once again I am providing for myself and my family. My pantry always has the staples, so I know there will always be something that I can make. I have always loved to cook, ( I do still enjoy a night of now and then), however cooking to me goes hand in hand with gardening. You are creating, providing and always learning. Becoming self-reliant and ensuring both you and your loved ones are getting the best of what you can offer or provide. This can look different for each of us. But even if it’s something small like a cherry tomato plant on your balcony or lettuce in a pot. Herbs in your kitchen, I guarantee it will bring you a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. These simple things can lead to making sauces and pesto. Fresh food from your home to your stomach!

Carrot Cake

  • 1/2 Cup Canola or Olive Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 3 Cups Carrot (grated)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Soft Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/2 Cup Cold Cream Cheese
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1-1 1/4 Cups Icing Sugar
  • Chopped Walnuts to decorate (optional)

Preheat Oven to 180 degrees celcius

Place the oil and eggs into a large bowl and whisk. Then add grated carrot and mix through. Sift the following into the wet mixture, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir until evenly combined. Line a 23cm tin, pour in the batter and bake 25-35 mins. My oven takes around 40-45 mins so check yours at the half hour mark to see how it’s coming along.

Once it’s cooled beat your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar with a hand mixer until it’s smooth. Ice your cake and if you like decorate with the chopped walnuts. Place it into the fridge in a sealed container and you will have something lovely to enjoy for the next few days or the next few weeks, depending on your home and schedule!

I hope you give it a try and enjoy it!

I am so grateful to Rhonda at the Down To Earth blog (down—to—earth.blogspot.com), I have followed and learnt so much from Rhonda over the years. I have all of her books, they are wonderful! To have Rhonda say she likes my blog and to share it on her latest blog post I would have to say has been so incredible for me. We all have people hopefully, who inspire, encourage and teach us different things in our lives. I am feeling very grateful to have someone who has inspired me in the different seasons of my life, encourage me in this way with my latest endeavour. To share a part of my story with you and what I have learnt, and to hopefully inspire or encourage others. Or perhaps help in some small way as we go about our days.

We have gone from 4 to 3 Guinea Fowl, but they are now happily scratching around in the chook run.

I hope you have a lovely weekend.

Miracles and Thankfulness

Well we have had something truely wonderful happen here at our farm! I am so happy to say that everyone of our 10 dams are full!!! It’s just amazing, a miracle! A storm came through on Saturday night and gave us 70ml in just half an hour or so. We have had empty dams now for easily 2 years, and to look out of the window on Sunday morning to see them full was just incredible!! We couldn’t believe our eyes! I even had a little radio interview on our local station, I couldn’t believe that either, but it was so lovely to share a little of our story.

Like many others we have struggled through the drought. Wondered what the future will look like. Lost cattle, sold cattle, watched them struggle to survive and watched my milking cow Bessie just give up. We were mentally and physically exhausted at times. I remember the days I looked forward to night-time, it was just such a relief to not look outside. Now on the other side of this we have green grass in the paddocks, the dams are full and I have a new milking cow Maudry. So very thankful for all these blessings.

What a lovely sight!

It certainly can be a land of extremes, sometimes we wonder why we do it. But at the end of the day we just love it. We love the land, the quiet and solitude of country life, working with livestock and having all of our other animals. Growing food for ourselves and always hoping for that water that brings life. We see and hear life bursting from everywhere with precious rain. Something that we never take for granted the smell, sight and sound of rain, and all that it brings.

Some of our calves coming through

This was a quick snap shot taken a couple of weeks ago when we got our cattle in to treat them for fly and worm, and tag calves etc. It really is a family effort, we all have our jobs and if each person does their bit, the day flows nicely, well as nicely as can be, sometimes the cattle don’t always want to co-operate, but our herd is very quiet, the biggest problem we have is the occasional one that wants to stop and not move! And the odd grumpy cow that wants to be with her calf. All in all not too much to complain about.

It’s encouraging to go into the new year this way, I hope wherever you find yourself today and in the days ahead, you find moments that bring you hope and encouragement too.

Tomorrow I can’t wait to share with you my favourite Carrot Cake recipe, it’s simple and it’s delicious!!

Self-Crusting Corn Quiche

The Crepe Myrtles are starting to flower

I would have to say Quiche is one of my favourites. It’s fuss free, easy to use as a snack or as an addition to a meal, nutritious and a great way to use up those surplus eggs. In my last post I mentioned how wonderful goose eggs are. Well that very afternoon when the boys were collecting the eggs and putting our feathered friends away for the night, a precious surprise lay hidden behind the compost bins, a goose egg! I’m delighted! They are wonderful to cook with and make the most amazing Impossible Pie.

A chicken egg/goose egg

The guinea fowl are settling into their new home. They are funny things to watch, it’s lovely to have some again!

Well with my egg bowl bursting, I decided to make this delicious Quiche and I thought you might like to try it too.

Self-Crusting Corn Quiche

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Self-Raising Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 425g can Creamed Corn
  • 1 1/2 Cups grated Tasty Cheese
  • 1/2 Red Capsicum
  • Shallots or onion
  • Bacon Rashers ( 2-3)

Heat oven to 220 Degrees Celcius.

I used red capsicum and shallots because that’s what I had on hand in the garden, you can use whatever suits you. I chopped up my capsicum, shallots and bacon and fried them off. While they are cooling mix your first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in your corn and cheese, then add your ingredients from the frying pan. If you have any parsley on hand that would be lovely too.

Pour into a lined lamington tray or whatever quiche dish you would like to use, it should be around 20-23 cm in size. Bake for 20-30mins, or until the centre is firm. Serve warm or cold.

I find my mind starting to wonder to things like our youngest going back to school and our oldest son leaving home to start university and all that entails. Finding my routine again and I guess starting a new season in life where we will have only one of our three children left at home. Life keeps moving and changing, and with it so to the structure of our days. But with those changes come new beginnings and new experiences. Life is never dull, and much like a garden where one thing ends something new and exciting awaits!