So we love fruit leather in this house, but damn its expensive. We favour Annie’s but it adds to much to the grocery bill to buy it weekly – particularly at the rate madam eats it. Hubby mentioned he’d seen a recipe that you can do without a dehydrator. So I googled. Then I did my own thing. I do that. I’m a culinary rebel.
Using the thermomix I blended what we had – strawberries and peaches from the garden and some slightly sad grapes from the back of the fridge. Does anyone else get that – sad fruit forgotten at the back of the fridge? Anyway, I digress.
Blend fruits, I then used thelma to cook off the fruit for about 30 minutes (90oC reverse speed 4), I added a 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid as we were out of lemons and a teaspoon of maple syrup for balance.
Once cooked off and looking syrupy pour into lined trays and pop in a very very low oven (70 degrees C) for anywhere between 4-10 hours (mine took 10) Yeah it was a long time. Really long. Most of the online recipes say 4-6h but at that point mine were still goopy in the middle. Next time I do them I’ll just do them in the evening and leave them in overnight when our rate is lower.
They are yummy. Seriously as good as the bought thing. Next up, home made Nutella.
Oh and I made muffins too – for more immediate gratification
To many photos, sorry.
Dog, mints and herbs, blueberry bushes, peppers (sweet banana). Carrots (paris market) and beets (bulls blood). Peppers and cherry tomatoes (sweet 100). Cat (Binkie). More peppers (California bell). Tomatoes (copia, yellow pear, black Cherokee). Carrots (rainbow blend) courgette (gold rush) beets (choggia) Mostly hidden squash (pattypan). Insanely big pumpkin (no idea – seeds where a gift), onions, courgette plants in the background looking worse for wear. (costata romanesco, gold rush, black beauty). Winter brassica bed broccoli – (sprouting) cauliflower (little cloud) A single sad lonely kohl rabi – they didn’t do at all well this year.
The garden is doing well, still producing as much as we can eat. Sadly a epic fail this year for the majority of brassicas, we had a few cauliflowers but little else. I have seedlings coming in hopes of some late autumn revivals, kohl rabi, kale etc. The courgettes are slowing down a lot (need to plant a few more mid season next year for a more continuous supply). The squash is lovely – will do some proper summer and winter squash next year as we are loving eating it. Who knows what that pumpkin plant will produce – need to think about planting arrangements if that always get that big!
Strawberries still giving us lots (when madam doesn’t get there first). Tomatoes would have done better if I hadn’t mucked up their planting and staking.
Live and learn. This garden has given us huge amount of joy as well as produce this year. We enjoy it, it challenges us, but I think for the first time since we moved in 4 years ago we are actually in charge. We are running the garden its not running us!
The garden is beginning to look ‘autumny’ – that is to say the climbing beans have come down. Onions are coming up and being hung, as is the garlic. The tomatoes are slowly – slowly ripening. Strawberries by the bucketful. Courgettes are slowing down but the squash are coming through great guns. The pumpkin plant is enormous (must get some pictures) but very few fruits so far. I pulled the first of the rainbow carrots today. So exciting. Nim was delighted to see ‘pink’ carrots. Peppers are big enough to eat.
The seedling trays are looking dull – we’ve had a few days of really cool weather (single digits at night, cold and rainy in the day) which have slowed them. My planted out seedlings are slow to come away – poor things went in a just the wrong moment weather wise.
Its delightful out there at the moment, there are weeds and dead bits and we are trying to get on top of it all, but it feels real and alive and where we want it to be. Today hubby and i were chatting and stood by his office door, looking out, we both used the term ‘oasis’.
“As you walk through the desert of life, may you always find your oasis – a place where you can find safety and sustenance.”
Although the literal meaning of oasis is a green spot in the desert, it can also be used to describe a peaceful area in our everyday lives.
Today was wet and windy. Pre-school in the morning while I ran and met a friend. Quiet coffee and chatting, other friends passing by with hello’s, hurried words and greetings. My run was cold and gusty. Big fat splatters of rain. An afternoon inside, fire blazing, hot chocolates. Baking sprinkle cookies. Funny little wonky shapes. Brightly coloured sprinkles. Quiet activity with her threading beads. Books to read and share. Happy peace.
*We use a simple cookie dough recipe. 100g butter, 50g sugar 175g of flour. Mix, knead a little. Roll out. They egg free and really easy to do gluten free or dairy free too. Although I like the butter! You can add citrus zest, or spices, or coco powder. The sprinkles were an add hoc addition curtsy of a 3yr old who can reach the shelf in the pantry and a mama who wasn’t looking! Cook for about 10 mins – but look in and check them – these little shapes cooked fast and ended up a touch ‘well done’.
The garden is going great guns so I felt it deserved a post. Spinach and beet seedlings are in for autumn, as well as broccoli and cauliflower seedlings in the brassica bed. We are harvesting and eating peppers, courgettes, carrots, the tomatoes are redding up and the onion tops are fallen and drying out. The courgettes are suffering from a blossom rot type issue, 50% of the crop are ok, but every second fruit shrivels up and goes nasty before its big enough to pick. My cauliflowers are great and tasty but for some reason my broccoli plants are huge but with no florets on them.
My winter carrots are looking stronger since I picked out and tidied the bed. There is a random squash plant in there too. And a squash in the ground behind. Its got lovely yellow space ship shaped fruits on it. There is also a pumpkin growing, YAY. Ive never grown pumpkin before!
Our peachcot tree has fruits on it and so does the Fuji apple on big lawn. The others haven’t fruited this year as they had a tough times last year with leaf curl and not thriving. They are better but I think it’ll be a year or so before they truly take off. There position is more exposed than the peachcot.
This week I’m planting winter crop seeds in our little mini planter and tidying the edge flower beds as they are weedy and messy. Music group. A coffee date. A haircut. Then we are off for a weekend down south. I’m meant to be running a 5km hill run. That will be ……… interesting. Given my current state of fitness – or lack thereof.
This is really a garden update, that is to say the gardens doing well, we are continuously harvesting onions, zucchinis, carrots, beens, beets, and brassicas. Not to mention strawberries. Loads of strawberries, much to the delight of little madam. The peppers are filling out and I’m waiting for them to turn red and juicy. Still waiting for the tomatoes to turn too – although in the last week the number of little fruits on all the bushes has really increased. With warm weather and brassicas comes white butterflies and the caterpillars that come with them. Eating my veggies!
While harvesting today Moo noticed the little pretty white butterflies flitting about. So after some chatting about where they come from we did some art, well. She splashed pompoms and glue about and I tried to do something that resembled the circle of life – butterfly style. We had fun.
One thing I am surprised about this year is that although we have 5 raised beds going, plus a couple of other containers we really aren’t inundated, even with 5 zucchini plants prolifically producing we are coping just fine using everything on a day to day basis. Onions are being used as needed out of the ground, same with carrots and beets. We have enough beans but not to many. I wonder how much we would need to put in to be able to preserve an excess? I’m predicting a bit of a flux in tomatoes once they are all through and freezing a bit, but the rest – we just eat our way through it.
Winter garden wise I have plans for planting some parsnips as soon as I’ve straightened out the autumn carrot bed (job for this week) and I am starting broccoli, kale, kohl rabi, spinach and cauliflower in little paper pots for when the current carrot and paper/tomato beds are over and cleared out. Some ornamental kale will go round the garden boarder as colour for winter too.
In my week. Random shots from our life. Mundane normality and each is special in its own way.
Roses from my garden. Supper about to be cooked. Enthusiastic art. New shorts, made by mama – Violet Fields Threads ~ Daphne Knickers. Off Biking with daddy. Insane jumping about just for the joy of it ~ nana knitted top and Sleepy Jeans by Brownie Goose by me, in awesome bonkers fabric from Riley Blake. There is a lot of jumpy singy dancey goodness in our house at the moment. Her little voice lights up the afternoons, while her not so little feet stamp and clump and bounce like a herd of mini elephants charging through the house. Its delightful.
We have had a good week, busy. Full of life of all types. Swimming finished with a bang, unfortunately not a firework style bang, more ballon bursting style. She was over it. To cold, to much pressure to follow instruction. We bailed on the last lesson. Know when to quit huh? She’s done really well, now for a break to let her physical strength and ability catch up with her confidence and enthusiasm.
Ballet still gets mentioned multiple times a day – my response is that wonderfully noncommittal parental phrases ‘we’ll see honey, may be’. Yeah, I’m turning into my mum.
Ok, so only one crappy photo. Sorry. My bad. Not even a complete Thermomix. Oops.
I call mine Thelma. She’s awesome. For a wide range of things. Some days she’s a glorified blender while other days I use the cooking function for multiple dishes. The steamer part – not so much so far. But hey, there’s time. I use the cooking function for risotto, soups, curry, dahl, and a variety of sauces for pasta and other. The blending function I use for baking, grinding, milling, beating and whipping.
This particular meal was home made soup – made with a little left over curry as the base that I’d done the night before – in Thelma. I added a few fresh garden veggies, 1ltr of home-made stock and some home made 30 min rolls and you have dinner. Typically I didn’t take a photo of the delightful fresh bread or hearty soup. That’s how I roll. Useless. (ignore the strawberries in the pic, Moo ate them within 2 mins of the photo being taken)
A few comments on my over all impressions. I don’t like the sales process. We didn’t buy mine through a demo. Hubby called up and just ordered one straight off. They are not hard to use. It’s not rocket science. The slightly cult type following. Not interested. The actual machine – for us – great.
At the most basic they are a fancy blender, if you don’t use its capacity to cook that is what you bought, a big fancy, very costly blender. The scales. Yeah, they are ok. Pretty accurate. I’m a kind of free hand cook, theres not a lot of measuring that goes on on this kitchen!
If you use the cooking function its a huge help in the kitchen, particularly when you have busy afternoons or little ones about. It’s not going to turn you into Nigella Lawson. But it will help create great meals from scratch if thats your thing. And it will quietly work away while you do jigsaws or read books with small people before dinner. Mine genuinely makes certain meals for me, I put the ingredients in, blitz, start cooking and I wander off. Water the veggies, play on the trampoline with Moo etc. Is it worth the cost. Yes, I think so, but only if you utilise the cooking function.
For example on the last couple of days Thelma has made – mango chicken curry, leftover veggie soup, choc cookies, banana bran muffins, green smoothie, and banana pancake mix. Oh and lemonade.
I don’t tend to follow any recipes, thats just me. I like cook books for inspiration but then I strike out alone. Its taken me a while to perfect some dishes. A good example of bolognese – a staple in our house. Made exclusively in Thelma it comes out unpleasantly watery. I make the tomato/veg base in Thelma, fry off the mince and combine to two in the pan. simmer for 5 mins and voila. Perfect bolognese – Like stir in sauce, only homemade.
I will make a big effort to put more of what we make on here.
What happens elsewhere while I cook.
We are eating well out of the garden at the moment, most of our meals are chock full of veggies we are picking ourselves. I’ve started writing my notes about this years bounty and what I have done ok and what I want to change for next season. Unsurprisingly the list of things I will do differently is huge, but I guess everything is a learning curve. I quite enjoy this process, the note taking, plan drawing, working out my rookie mistakes. Reading up on how to get the best, keep the plants producing for as long as possible.
Carrots – great, be more organised planting. Beets – as carrots, and plant more. Onions – great, same again. Beans – murdered by wind, need more mulch and more shelter. Brassicas – all slow to come through, perhaps too crowded start seedlings under cover. Peppers – doing well, more water needed, Mulch. Tomatoes – more staking, less chaos. Strawberries – good, take more room then the produce they give. Peas – been and gone, did ok. courgettes – love.
This year my biggest ‘success’ per say is that we eat everything we grow, its all spot on veggie basics and its really helping both our physical beings and our wallets to be able to have fresh veggies on hand out if the garden. And it helps my ego a little. Because I’d be totally lying if I said I didn’t get a slightly smug feeling from picking home grown veg for supper. I think so far courgettes are by far my favourite plant, so much veg, so many uses! Our newest delight is courgette choc muffins, delicious.
The sunflowers are going to be left and the seeds will feed the birds in winter. The tiger in my garden, more cute than scary. Don’t tell her though.
For our autumn/winter beds I’m planning on what beds I’ll use and which I’ll stuff with manure and leave to rest. Winter will be kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (left in the ground) kohlrabi and spinach. The carrots are already seeded and starting to come up. Once the beets are out I’ll thin the carrots into orderly lines and tidy the bed. The strawberries are coming out and that will probably be the winter brassica bed, that and the ones by the back door as they are sheltered and easy to care for.
Currently it is growing very well! We are harvesting daily now. Courgettes, onions, strawberries, lettuce (oh so much lettuce) the peas have peaked and gone (pulled this week, new ones are slowly coming away) carrots and beets are also through, little paris market round carrots and beautiful striped choiggia beets. Moo loves to pick her own strawberries – coming in with bright red juice dripping down her chin. She eats peas straight, pod and all. Lettuce does not do it for her.
The tomatoes and climbing beans are coming away slowly. My 3 pepper plants are growing slowly, perhaps in need of a little additional food. I have 2 random tomato plants, sprouted from discarded ‘failure’ pots. Additional carrots are sprouting. Nutri-reds and purple dragon, some white cosmic and a few others from a ‘rainbow’ mix. An abandoned potato has sprouted at the end of one bed.
Flowers are blooming too, nasturtiums, calendula, borage are all out. The sunflowers are getting tall.
It is so lovely in our space at the moment, it feels friendly and welcoming, a safe haven. Leafy and green. Fun.
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