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My autumn garden is looking a little ropey, but its still producing pretty well. Carrots, onions, spinach, beets, squash and courgettes are all coming into the kitchen every few days.

Newly planted spinach and kohl rabi plants, my slightly eaten brassicas in a  party dug over bed (they will get moved I think). The back gardens, a slightly more healthy selection of broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Onion bed – nearly finished now. Carrot bed with its courgette plant. Squash still coming through. My helper. Flowers and the Monarch butterfly who visited us.

A number of the beds have been turned over and are ready for fertiliser and mulch and setting a side for winter. So its looking kind of messy!

This weekend I’m hoping to get the resting beds properly sorted and covered and the back tidied up, poles sorted. Trampoline moved out onto the concrete. 

Over winter we will do more planning and getting some new new beds in. 

May 2, 2014 Food

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Some outtakes from this week, when I’ve grabbed the camera to take a quick, often unfocused, badly lit pictures.

Baking – cookies. Damn they were good. Yoghurt making. A new tea towel that makes me happy. A knitting project (dishcloths) and a book to read form a lovely friend. The equine dude who decided to nap on our front lawn – I adore having a free range only at this time of year. Pinecone decorations by a little lady, garlic hanging in the background – I grew that! A wet wet run and soggy feet – but it was fun. And my lady, in all her frozen yoghurt eating, bum wiggling glory. She is so funny.

This week had been good. Rainy. We have walked and biked when we could, sometimes just snuggling up when the weather said ‘no’ to outdoor activity. There have been highs – and lows. Such is parenting

April 10, 2014 Food

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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 

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April 3, 2014 Food

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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!

 

 

March 14, 2014 Food

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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.

March 6, 2014 Food

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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’. 

March 4, 2014 Food

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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.

February 18, 2014 Food

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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.

February 3, 2014 Food

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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.

February 1, 2014 Crafting, Food

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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. 

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What happens elsewhere while I cook.

January 28, 2014 Food

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