Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Garden Share Collective

Wongbok, cauliflower and broccoli

Welcome to another tour of my vegetable garden.  I have found a new appreciation for winter gardening.  The days seem gentler and spending a whole day in the garden is not nearly as exhausting as it can be in the summer months.  

The cooler weather has slowed vegetable growth but recent rain has given everything in the garden an amazing boost.  Really there is no substitute for rain.

My first photo shows my kale 'tree' towering behind several younger kale plants. I am harvesting kale almost daily and finding new ways to use it in many meals.  

Burpees's Golden beetroot reminds me of sunsets, autumn leaves and warm fires.  OK, I might be getting a bit carried away but it is a glorious colour.

Golden beetroot

These broccoli flowers appeared very soon after the first head formed.  We have eaten the flowers, stems and leaves and I love it.  It has grown much more quickly than the more traditional broccoli and the softer leaves are perfect for stir frying.  

Broccoli, Sessantina Grossa

Snow pea

Beetroot, Burpees's Golden
Potatoes, Kipfler 

Buddha’s Hand

Coriander and lettuce pop up from self sown seed all through the garden

My apricot tree is almost bare, the quince trees are still clinging onto their leaves and the pear and apple trees are somewhere in between.

Ongoing activities 
I am assisting my daughter to submit a journal in the Country Style Harvest Table competition.  We are not particularly worried about the prize but this is a fun exercise in documenting, drawing, pasting, writing and making observations in the garden through young eyes.

All vegetables are receiving a fortnightly dose of liquid seaweed fertiliser.

I need to chop back unruly asparagus ferns.

Thank you to Lizzie from Strayed from the Table for hosting this tour.  Please call into her blog and visit other gardening enthusiasts. 

How is your winter garden? 
Is your garden a peaceful haven in busy times?  
Happy gardening!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bread, buy or bake

Around five years ago I started my sourdough adventure and since then I have baked various forms of bread regularly.  I even made a little business out of it which I bring out of hibernation when time permits.    

Over the years we have continued to buy bread.  As a family we eat a combination of homemade and store bought, depending on what is happening in our lives at the time.

In the last few months the amount of homemade bread we are consuming has almost surpassed the store bought.  The homemade bread in the freezer is starting to compete for space with the bought loaves.  Just this week we have enjoyed a combination of homemade white loaves, fruit loaves, focaccia and pita bread; all made using sourdough.  

My children now ask for the homemade bread first.  They are not asking for it in a pretentious way, they just like it and are accustomed to eating it.

There will always be a place for store bought bread.  There are times on the farm when a standard, square sandwich is required for emergencies, extra workers and unexpected visitors and it pays to be prepared.    Nevertheless, bringing together flour, water and salt to make nourishing bread is becoming part of the natural rhythm in our home. 

I feel a quiet sense of achievement in reaching our current state of bread independence and happily it is one more thing that we don’t have to rely on the supermarket to supply.  

Do you buy or bake or both?

I know many of you out there bake a lot of bread…happy baking to you!  What are you baking this weekend?  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Winter days at home

Kylie is a very funny and generous blogging friend and she sent me this package of kitchenalia all the way from Western Australia.  There is nothing like a package tied with brown paper and string to brighten up a grey winter day.  Thank you Kylie, truly.

On some recent cold, dark mornings and afternoons we have been playing our treasured vintage edition of the board game Candy Land.  I am not sure who loves passing through Lollypop Woods the most, the kids or myself!

Collecting firewood is a good, physical outing and a whole family affair.  The man of the farm takes care of the chainsaw, naturally.  I pick up whatever cut wood I can lift.  The kids disappear into the jungle which is actually a scrubby swamp but it feels like a jungle to them.    I love the feeling of the four of us together in the fresh air, no distractions, everyone has a purpose, working towards something that will keep us warm and fuel our wood oven.  Aside from cooking, collecting wood might almost be my favourite winter activity.

The final touch to our outdoor kitchen area has been 100 metres of fairy lights, thank you Ebay.  They create a little bit of magic and are strictly reserved for weekend use, just to keep the magic.

80mm of rain has turned our land from a dust bowl to this.  The ground is finally damp and with a green tinge in the paddocks winter is looking good.

How is winter looking at your place?
I hope you are staying warm and perhaps jumping in a few puddles?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In My Kitchen, June 2013

Welcome to another tour of my kitchen.  With the temperature dropping and the days becoming shorter there has never been a better time to be in the kitchen, wouldn’t you agree?

My love gave me this lavish book for Mother’s Day.  He was so enthusiastic about the recipes that he gave it to me a week early, bless him.  The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook is the perfect book for our lifestyle.  There are plenty of lamb recipes, all of the quantities are on the large side and almost all of the ingredients are available to us.  Already I have trialled several recipes. 

This is the start of an experiment with dried limes or loomi from the book mentioned above.  These have taken some time to actually dry and when I have had residual heat in the wood oven I have put them inside it, sometimes overnight.  Does anyone have any experience with dried limes?

Eating sausages feels so much better when you know exactly what has gone into them.  Here the home butcher is skilfully tying off a string of homemade lamb sausages.  We kept this batch very plain which means the whole family can enjoy them and everyone can add their favourite condiments as they wish.

My young kitchen assistant recently helped me to bottle the remainder of our olive crop.  I had to smile at her unique, personalised labelling system.

A full trailer load of oranges equals a lot of orange juice and orange cake.  Nearby orchards have been giving away imperfect oranges that the major supermarkets will not accept.  I could probably write a whole blog about the average consumer being obsessed with perfect fruit or are the supermarkets obsessed?   I am not sure.  Anyway, after some oranges were shared among friends I made these delicious cakes using Sophie's recipe.   The rest of the oranges were greatly appreciated by our sheep and cattle as supplementary feed.  

This was my first attempt at wood fired sourdough focaccia using Celia's recipe.  This bread contains a generous amount of olive oil and with plenty of our own oil on hand I know this is going to become a regular feature throughout the winter. 

Please call into to Celia's blog and take a tour of interesting kitchens all around the world.

I hope you are staying warm and baking or creating.  Lately at our place we simply cannot stop cooking!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Garden Share Collective, June 2013

This month I am linking up with Lizzie of Strayed from the Table for The Garden Share Collective.  The aim is to create a community of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills. 

In my veggie patch I lean towards growing food that we are unable to access locally such as garlic and heirloom varieties of fruit and vegetables. 

Summer in our part of the world is extremely hot and dry and the winter is cold with frosts.

The majority of my vegetables are raised from seed purchased through the Diggers Club.

The main patch is made up of six raised beds as well as one bed planted directly into the ground.  I have access to an endless supply of sheep, horse, chook, cow manure and old hay which I dig into the soil regularly. 

Golden beetroot
Purple garlic

Kale, rocket and basil


Quince trees
May in my garden

Snow pea
Sweet pea


Ongoing observations and tasks
The pome and stone fruit trees are going to sleep for the winter.

Asparagus ferns are growing tall and unruly.

All vegetables are receiving a fortnightly dose of liquid seaweed fertiliser.

All fruit trees have been fed with an organic, pelletised fertiliser.

I am reviving my worm farm that unfortunately did not survive the summer months.

While it might not be the sexiest gardening fixture I am using recycled milk bottles to cover my tiny seedlings when they are first planted out.  This protects them from clumsy feet and pests while they establish themselves.  It also provides a tiny greenhouse for each seedling.  I have found this simple idea to be very effective.

Happy winter gardening.