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?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

1000 miles on horseback

There is something special about the clip clop of horse's hoofs approaching and the gentle jangle of their harness.  Last week we cooked dinner for some riders who are on a 1600 kilometre (1000 mile) horseback adventure as part of the Thousandmiler trail ride.  

On the day this intrepid crew rode into our property they had been in the saddle for around 50 kilometres through rain and freezing cold wind.  Despite this they were in good spirits and happy to see a blazing camp fire and hot showers.

Under difficult weather conditions Terry skilfully cooked home raised roast lamb and crispy potatoes in our camp ovens.  I could have happily spent the entire afternoon taking photos of the magnificent horses but catering duties called.

To our new friends, good luck for the remaining ride!  It is an inspiring journey you are undertaking.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A slice or two

Today I am sharing two slice recipes that I have recently baked.  They are both easy to make, taste delicious and freeze well.  If you cut them into squares prior to freezing your life is even easier next time you need something sweet.  

Banana slice.  Recipe from CWA Classics.

1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cloves
60 g softened butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 banana, mashed
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon hot water
lemon juice, to taste
icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180°C.  Grease a 15-cm x 25-cm slice tin.  (I like to line tin with baking paper)

Sift flour and spices into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar, then add the mashed banana and beat for 2 minutes.  Add the egg and beat well.  Mix in the milk and flour mixture alternately.  Stir in the walnuts.  Put into prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes.  

To make the icing, combine the butter with the water and lemon juice and add sufficient sifted icing sugar to achieve the desired consistency.

While the slice is still warm, spread with lemon icing and cut into squares.  

*I found it easier to cut the slice into squares once it had cooled.

Lemon and coconut slice.  Recipe from Donna Hay magazine, Feb/Mar 2011

1 1/4 cups (185g) plain flour, sifted
3/4 cup (60g) desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g cold butter, chopped
icing sugar for dusting

lemon filling
4 eggs
2 egg yolks, extra
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour, sifted
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
1 cup (250ml) lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).  Place the flour, coconut, sugar, vanilla and butter in the bowl of a food processor and process until mixture just comes together.  Press into the base of a lightly greased 20cm x 30cm tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden.  Set aside.

Reduce oven temperature to 160°C (325°F).  To make the lemon filling, place the eggs and extra yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the sugar, flour, lemon rind and juice and whisk until smooth.  Pour the mixture over the cooked base and bake for 20-25 minutes or until just set.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.  Dust with icing sugar to serve.  Serves 10.

Do you cook slices?
Do they remind of cake stalls or visits to elderly relatives?
I hope you enjoy these two!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pastry and pizza in the outback

On the long weekend we ventured over the border into South Australia to visit some of my family on their property.  This was an opportunity for all of our children to play together and for the big people to chat, compare some gardening thoughts and cook together.

In the afternoon Annie, Kate and myself gathered around Sarah’s kitchen bench for a big pastie making session.  We all contributed our ingredients and set to work rolling, chopping, peeling, mixing and creating.    

Sarah made the comment that cooking together is an important part of some cultures so why shouldn't it be something we embrace?  As we went about our pastie business there was a feeling of understanding, quiet listening, laughter, deep thoughts and not so deep thoughts.  In the end we made around four dozen pasties which we divided amongst our families.  The test batch received a big tick of approval!

Within the shearer’s kitchen on the property happens to be an old wood oven dating back at least one hundred years to a time when all of the cooking took place in a wood oven.  The shearer’s cook now has access to modern gas ovens but the old oven remains in place, thankfully.  As the sun began to set we made our way towards the stone shearer’s quarters to prepare pizza for the wood oven.

Once again everyone contributed ingredients and with a flurry of rolling, chopping, flouring and shovelling multiple pizzas appeared.  Experienced pizza people handled the cooking and cutting with style as hot slices were passed around on big wooden boards .

The back of the wood oven.

After toasted marshmallows and conversation around the fire we rolled out our swags  within the thick stone walls of the shearer’s quarters and slept soundly.

This really was a memorable weekend.

Do you ever cook together as a family?

Monday, October 1, 2012

In My Kitchen October 2012

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

Home made muesli makes a regular appearance in my kitchen.  I like to use organic rolled oats gently roasted in locally sourced honey To the oats I add almonds, good quality dried fruit, mixed seeds and some shredded coconut.  Served with natural yoghurt this is my favourite breakfast.

Recently I have found myself making more slices than usual.  Depending on the recipe they can be quicker to bake than cakes, I find them easier to cut and they travel and freeze well.  This Banana Slice from the CWA Classics cookbook was particularly moist and delicious.  If anyone is interested in the recipe please let me know and I will post it.

I almost squealed with delight when I recently spotted these Queen B candles at my friend's shop Thom, Dick and Harry's.  Terese is always bringing beautiful things into our country town that we would otherwise have to buy online or wait until we travel to the city.

A plate of homemade hummus made for my daughters recent birthday afternoon tea.  I harvested my first piece of garlic especially for this occasion.  The cloves are not yet fully formed but they still gave the hummus that essential garlic kick.

A bunch of sweet peas from my garden.  I am asking myself why I have not grown these before.  They were so easy to grow and the sweetly scented flowers fill my heart with joy!

Sourdough balls waiting to be rolled out into pizza bases for a big family pizza gathering.  More on that later.

My brother grew an enormous pumpkin and my friend Sarah was then inspired to paint it.  How special to be given a piece of art created by a friend.

I know many people in the blogging world are reading this book by Rohan Anderson.  For anyone who is interested in real food, good living and self sufficiency you will love this book.  Whole Larder Love is full of practical advice and beautiful photos.  It is also very funny in parts.   

Are you cooking or reading or painting?
What is happening in your kitchen at the moment?