Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas in the bush

This year we went camping for Christmas.

On the beach we made a candle runway for Father Christmas and his sleigh, although it was too windy to actually light the candles.

On Christmas morning we woke up to the water lapping just metres from our swags, strong billy tea and breakfast cooked on the fire, complete with mini croissants.  I have officially borrowed this tradition from you, thanks Kate

Christmas lunch included yabbies we had pulled from the water just hours earlier.

In the afternoon the swimming went on for hours.  

It was a relatively simple Christmas spent with family in and around the water.  I was free from housework, table decorations and the need for a Christmas outfit.  This year it worked for us.

How was your Christmas day?
Did you break from tradition?  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Salvos Give a Lunch for Christmas

Christmas is a special time but it can also be completely crazy, wouldn't you agree?

Each year I feel bewildered by the sheer waste and excess I see around me.  I am working hard on simplifying our Christmas, focusing on sharing and rest and moving right away from mindless consumption. 

With this in mind I have decided to support the Salvos Give a Lunch for Christmas appeal.  Please join me and share your lunch photos on FacebookInstagram or Twitter with #SalvosGiveaLunch.  The more meals you post the more donations you are sure to inspire.  Help the Salvos fill 8000 empty plates this Christmas.  My food blogger friends should have no problems with this.  

As 2012 is rapidly disappearing I have decided to make this my last blog post for the year.  Spending some time with my family minus the school routine is something I have been looking forward to for some time.  I might even put the camera away and just enjoy the moments as they unfold.

Thank you to my regular visitors who continue to inspire me.  You are always so generous and supportive with your comments.  Welcome to my new visitors and Merry Christmas to everyone in blog land!

My first photo to post for the appeal is of a regular weekday lunch I prepared recently.  Just in case you are curious it was zucchini slice served with caramelised onion jam and goats cheese.  Simple, goodness mostly home grown.

Jane x

*I support the Salvos just because I like them, I have no other association with them.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

In My Kitchen December 2012

Welcome to another little tour of my kitchen.  Thank you once again to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this fun kitchen tour.

Firstly, a test batch of Christmas baking and some festive bits and pieces as we start to make and bake some goodies for Christmas. 

A tasty little selection of smallgoods purchased from the Adelaide Central Market  while attending Eat Drink Blog.  The jamon, chorizo and butter have all been on my ‘must try’ list for a long time and each mouthful was savoured.  The sheep milk cheese was purchased just because I was unable to stop myself with so much cheese on offer.

Bread straight from our wood oven.  We all joined in sprinkling these loaves with fresh garlic and rosemary from the garden and I think this will be one of my favourite family food moments for the year.

Mulberries and a lonely strawberry picked from the garden.

A batch of swirly, purple mulberry muffins.  I followed a basic blueberry muffin recipe (substituting with mulberries) to make these and they were moist, light and just sweet enough.

Immature Tromboncino zucchinis and a handful of snow peas from the garden. This year I have vowed to pick my zucchinis every day as last summer both the vines and the vegetables grew so enormous they threatened to take over my life.

Around this time every year I order a case of wine from Logan Wines.  I am certainly not a wine expert but I am easily influenced by a gorgeous newsletter, attractive packaging and impeccable customer service.  Some of these bottles will be gifts and some will be shared on Christmas day with family.

Recently we saved some excess roosters from the inevitable.  They had a short but happy life with our chooks and now I have 14 feet.  Any suggestions on how I might cook them?  

What is happening in your kitchen this month?
Are you doing any Christmas baking?
Would you eat chicken feet?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sourdough for an inland beach wedding

I have always loved weddings.  It has been almost 13 years since Terry and I tied the knot but that doesn't stop me from taking the occasional peek at wedding photography blogs.  My two favourites are here and here just to get you in the mood.

Almost 12 months ago a girl named Summa asked me to make the bread for her wedding.   As the year progressed the plan changed from large loaves to individual dinner rolls for each guest.

Last Friday, armed with almost 5 kg of active sourdough starter, 9 kg of bread flour and just enough salt and water I started working towards producing 200 dinner rolls.  My afternoon fell into the steady, comforting rhythm that the bread people out there will understand.

On Saturday morning I was calm and ready for a few hours of solid baking.  Annabelle, George and I then had the privilege of delivering the finished product to a particularly stunning lakeside marquee.

With the bread delivery taken care of we enjoyed a simple beach picnic and a paddle in the water.  The temperature was rising towards 40°C but it was cool and tranquil near the water.  These moments sitting in the shade reminded me of just how beautiful our part of the world can be and how fortunate I am. 

All the very best wishes for the future Summa and Nathan and I hope you managed to eat your bread rolls on the night!


PS I want to be a baker when I grow up.

Do you love weddings?
Do you love making bread?
Or is it just me?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Garlic, the good stuff

I have been waiting patiently since April to harvest my garlic crop.  Finally, last week I could wait no longer and in no time at all I had unearthed around 100 bulbs from the soil.  

Originally I planted 5 different varieties all purchased from the Diggers Club.  Judging on size, appearance and overall plant health I would say the two most successful varieties have been Italian Purple and Italian Red.  We have only taste tested a small amount so far, the rest have been strung up to dry.


In keeping with my garlic harvest tradition I made this bread with a loaf freshly baked in our new wood oven.

Earlier this month I painstakingly transported a piece of very special butter home from Adelaide after it had survived a whole day sitting at a conference in a ‘coolie’ bag.  The interstate transportation of butter is another whole story.  Luscious butter teamed with fresh basil and garlic produced this indulgent loaf.

Having access to an abundant supply of my own garlic makes me very happy and content.  Some lucky friends might even get a pungent piece for Christmas.

Do you share my love for garlic?
Do you occasionally set yourself a transportation challenge with food?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The wood oven project

At the end of our verandah now stands a wood oven and an open fireplace.  The natural stone looks as if it has stood proudly in place forever and smoky smell has already seeped into our surrounds.

Earlier this year we deliberated over a family holiday to King Island or an outdoor wood oven and the wood oven was the eventual winner.

We were fortunate enough to cross paths with a man who calls himself Ossie.  He is almost 70 and has been bricklaying since he was 15.  Ossie is the quintessential Aussie character,  full of stories and knowledge collected over a colourful lifetime of manual work, fishing, family and mateship.  Put simply he was the perfect man for the job.

The construction took longer than we expected but what we now have is a structure that has been built by hand from the ground up.  The stone, which was collected from a ruin on our property will be a constant reminder of the history that surrounds us.

On the night the job was finished we lit a small fire in the oven and cooked a simple meal of grilled homemade sausages and beef ribs served with salad and sourdough.  In amongst the concrete dust and rubble Annabelle spontaneously picked a bunch of roses for the table.  We had a few drinks with Ossie and reflected on bricklaying, beautiful stone, life and the tenderness of the beef ribs.

We have copper pipes within the roof of the oven to heat water.  We also have plans for a smoke box within the chimney to smoke food with.  Already our new infrastructure is proving to be very versatile.

There is something special about cooking with fire isn't there?
It is really about getting back to basics with cooking.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eat Drink Blog 2012

Two things happened to me last Saturday.  Firstly it marked 12 months since I started my blog adventure.  The second was that I found myself on the pool deck of the Adelaide Hilton enjoying a cold South Australian beer, tempting food and the company of 80 other enthusiastic food bloggers who had gathered for Eat Drink Blog 2012

To get things started on Saturday we took a guided tour of the Adelaide Central Market.  Celeste was our bubbly tour guide and as we weaved our way through the market we enjoyed some samples and spoke to generous stall holders who were obviously having a busy Saturday trading.

In the afternoon some delegates enjoyed winery tours of either the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale.  I chose to participate in a Food Writing Workshop with the talented Dianne Jacob.  Dianne made me realise that I could put a lot more thought into my writing and I came away feeling very impressed with the spontaneous creativity of some of my fellow bloggers.

The balmy Adelaide evening provided the perfect atmosphere for the Eat Drink Blog dinner at the Hilton.  We were greeted with the sight and unmistakable smell of a whole lamb on a spit which set the tone for a special evening. 

I will not attempt to recite every dish but Dennis Leslie and his team cooked up a Latin American inspired feast topped off with two glistening Haigh's chocolate fountains.  My fondest memory of the dinner was having the opportunity to chat with old and new blogging friends, most of whom I had only just met in real life.

In the early hours of Sunday morning Twitter told me that my favourite Adelaide bakery would be supplying our breakfast.  I knew immediately that it was going to be an extraordinary day.

Again, I am not going to attempt to cover all of the valuable information we received.  Perhaps one thing I learnt is that I still have so much to learn! Finding a balance that works for your blog and keeping your blog authentic was a reoccurring theme in most of the presentations.

The Local and Seasonal presentation by Simon Bryant and Tammi Jonas, chaired by Amanda McInerney was particularly relevant and interesting to me as a farming person.  Both Simon and Tammi spoke of the importance of eating locally and seasonally and making informed choices when it comes to eating, particularly in regards to meat.  The subject of meat sparked a lively discussion amongst the speakers and delegates.   

Simon of Simon Food Favourites captured the movement and excitement of the weekend perfectly in this video.  Enjoy. 

Thank you to the hard working committee for providing us with this experience.  My mind is still buzzing and I feel very fortunate to have been involved in Eat Drink Blog 2012.

Amanda McInerney (co-chair) Lambs' Ears and Honey
Christina Soong-Kroeger (co-chair) Hungry Australian
Alex Prichard Eating Adelaide  
Celeste Wong Travelling in MaryJanes
Erin Brooks She Cooks, She Gardens
Kirsty Dummin SmithThe Natural Foodie
Natasha Stewart Playing House

 *I would also like to thank my friend Mel from The Adventures of Miss Piggy for initially telling me about this gathering otherwise it may have completely passed me by.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In My Kitchen November 2012

Welcome to another little tour of my kitchen.

This post had to start with a photo of amazing chocolate made by Celia.  I was fortunate enough to win 500 grams of dark chocolate goodness in Fig Jam and Lime Cordial's Million giveaway.  I would have been happy with one block but we have been savouring no less than 6 different chocolate blends.  This was a very generous giveaway.  Visit Celia's latest blog post for more chocolate treats!

Two lovely old teapots thrifted by my husband on a recent trip to country South Australia.  The floral arrangements were put together by our children.

Fresh strawberries picked straight from our garden.  I cannot believe how good these taste and smell. 

A bowl of freshly set home made yoghurt.  As a family we consume a lot of yoghurt and recently I have been making my own.  It really is easy and is something I should have been doing years ago.

If you are not really into meat you may want to look away for the next photo.

We recently slaughtered a heifer* which will keep us supplied with beef for many months.  The home butchering and meat preparation is something Terry normally handles but this time I decided to take care of the the tongue and tail myself.  I treated the tongue in a similar way to corned beef by soaking it in a brine solution and then simmering it slowly.   The taste reminded me of corned beef although the texture was more gelatinous.  

The tail was put into a big pot along with the beef cheeks, plenty of vegetables, stock and seasoning and cooked very slowly until the meat almost came off the tail bones.  This was a hearty and delicious meal.

Lastly, a test batch of white sourdough dinner rolls.  Next month I am making 210 of these for a wedding.  I cannot wait to get stuck into a big bread project.

What is happening in your kitchen at the moment?
Please share!

*Heifer: a cow under three years of age which has not yet had a calf.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lately in the garden

With spring in the air I thought it was time for a garden update.  I always have plans to keep each bed orderly but somehow I end up poking vegetables in wherever there is space which means there is a bit of everything everywhere.

Our outdoor bath.  On a warm evening this is a beautiful thing.  The kids can relax and get clean while I enjoy a few moments in the garden within sight of the bath.

I am filled with joy whenever the kids collect a bowl of goodies like this one.  A few wonky carrots, a tiny flower, some juicy strawberries, greens and a fresh egg.  Almost enough ingredients to make a simple meal.

Coriander seed that we have picked and are now drying.  I love to use this seed in cooking, it might also make a nice gift when it is dried.

A teeny, tiny, fury quince just formed on a tree I planted last year.

Asparagus poking through the mulch.  I am patiently waiting the recommended 2 years before I start to harvest my crop which is taking a lot of will power.  

Pretty sage flowers.

Our olive trees have burst into flower.  At the moment we are looking at a bumper crop, is anyone interested in a few days of olive picking in return for olives or oil?  It could be a big job!

Garlic looking healthy and getting close to harvest.  I cannot wait to celebrate with a loaf of garlic sourdough.

A bucket of well worn brick laying tools.  Construction of our outdoor wood oven has commenced.  We have dreamed of this day for a long time and now the perfect person for the job has come into our lives.  I am planning a big pizza and bread making session already.

What is happening in your garden?
What are you growing or making?
Do you grow asparagus and how long have you waited before you harvest it?