Monday, September 29, 2008

A Nice Spring Day

With a good drop of rain last week and the sun shining today, things have really started to move in the garden. There is still an abundance of broccoli, celery, English spinach, silverbeet, spring onions and beetroot while the asparagus, peas and rhubarb and now ready to pick. The broad beans are a little slow and I can see the first of the artichokes bursting out. I am really looking forward to the garlic maturing as last seasons is long gone and I can't find any Australian garlic at any nearby supermarkets.

We have been away to Albany for the weekend to catch up with friends and celebrate a 30th and a 60th which was really lovely. I love Albany on the weekend as they have a fantastic farmer's market every Saturday morning. I managed to pick up lots of goodies including leeks, apples, oranges, free range chicken, local milk, lettuce, jerulasum artichokes (not quite sure what to do with them?) and some potted herbs. While in Albs Lyssie and I snuck down to the nursery without baby Emme and picked up all our Summer seedlings. It is a bit early to put them in so they will have to wait in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks. I got a bit overexcited with the tomatoes I think.

Dinner tonight was a risotto cake. Had to get the cake cover out as it cooled as the blowflys have returned with the warmer weather. When I make a risotto cake I just put in whatever is in season and needs to be used. Here is a basic recipe.

Olive oil
3 spring onions (or an onion or leek, just happen to have lots of spring onions at present)
2 rashers bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken stock
a couple of cups of vegetables- usually two or the following, roasted pumpkin, broccoli, asparagus, English spinach, peas, mushroom etc
half a cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
3 eggs
Fresh herbs chopped- whatever you have and like eg basil, parsely, chives etc
pinenuts and a sprinkling of parmesan to top
salt and pepper to taste

Gently fry off the spring onion, garlic and bacon in the olive oil. Stir in the rice and then the stock, cover and simmer 10 mins or so until the rice is softish, but still with a little crunch. Turn off the heat and add vegies of your choice (today I used asparagus and English spinach) and stir through with cheese. Let it sit for 5 mins or so and then transfer to a mixing bowl and let it cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 180* and lightly grease a 23 cm springform cake tin with olive oil and line with baking paper. Stir through the eggs and herbs (today it was Italian parsely and chives), season to taste and transfer to the baking tin. Smooth the top and sprinkle with extra cheese and pine nuts. Bake for 40 mins or until top is gloden.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frosty Nights

We have had a couple of really nasty frosts this week that could have been quite destructive for the asparagus patch. Some of the asparagus has been in for 3 seasons now so it has become quite productive. There are lots of babies in that have self seeded themselves and also some new purple asparagus planted last year from the Digger's Club. The purple and green look really pretty coming up together. Thankfully to avoid frost damage Ian rigged up a cover we can put over at night. He wishes he could do this for his 'big vegetable patch'.

The asparagus is planted in a raised bed made out of old hardwood sleepers. It use to be used as the compost heap when Ian's parents lived here so it is full of wonderful rich, moist compost that drains well, perfect for asparagus.

Potatoes thawing out and going to mush!

The frost is s real pain at this time of year as you start to prepare for summer. Usually frost intolerant summer vegies can't go in until at least the middle of October. A couple of years ago we had a frost as late as the 3rd or 4th of November- that set back the tomatoes and unfortunately the wheat as well!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mmmm Pig's Bum

The remnants of a delicious Sunday night dinner- perfect for the freezing windy day it was. Home grown roast pork on a bed of sliced onion with rosemary and thyme, roasted pumpkin, sauteed silverbeet with spring onions and pine nuts and steamed broccoli. All beside the onion were home grown.

A scrumptious Pig's Bum (rhubarb steamed sponge pudding really) thanks to Nigella Lawson from her book How To Eat. Definately need to double to recipe- then it is fits perfectly into my pudding tin. I was going to make a 'real' custard last night as we have a lot of eggs at the moment, but didn' quite get to it. So we had our family favourite 'Nina's Custard', amazingly simple and always a winner. Not usually one for product endorsement, but it must be made using Nurses Full Cream Custard Powder.

Nina's Custard

2 tbsp Nurses custard powder
2tbsp Nurses cornflour
1 egg
spalsh of milk
2tbsp white sugar
1tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered milk
4 cups water

Mix the milk powder, vanilla, sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently. In a small bowl mix the custard powder, cornflour and eggs to a smooth paste- use the spalsh of milk to assist. When the milk mixture is warm, slowly pour in the egg mix and whisk gently over a medium heat until thick. Mum always turns it off after the first bubble appears. If you are leaving it to cool don't cover the pan or the condensing water will drip on the custard and ruin the consistency. Also, if you cover the pan it won't form the fabulous skin that many prominent cooks tell you how to avoid! (I love the skin that forms on custard.)

Friday, September 19, 2008


This is a photo of the girls ready for a walk a couple of weeks ago. This is what I wish we had managed a bit more of this week, but with windy, showery weather for the past 8 days really prevented us leaving the house at all. We all tend to get a little tetchy when we can't get outside (especially me). Thankfully Ian did take the girls for a drive this afternoon so I could get out into the garden.

So, had lot of time to cook this week. We are down to our last 4 pumpkins so I thought I would get stuck into one of them. They are a variety called Triamble from The Digger's Club. By far the best growing and healthiest looking pumpkin variety I have grown and a really heavy fruiter. I will definately be growing them again this year. We seem to have had pumpkin in everything this week from muffins and fruit cake to lasagne and risotto.

A few tried and tested pumpkin recipes.

Pumpkin, Zucchini and Bacon Soup

about 1 1/2 kg pumpkin, peeled and cubed
2 rashers bacon, trimmed and chopped
1 large brown onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
chicken stock to cover
sprinkling of nutmeg
tsp sugar

In a large pan add pumpkin, bacon, onion and zucchini to a little olive oil and gently fry until all heated through. Add stock to just cover (not too much or with the zucchini it will become too watery). Gently simmer until all ingredients are soft. Wizz in a blender or using a hand blender (less washing up), add the nutmeg and sugar and season will salt and pepper.

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins
makes about 10

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup sultanans
1/2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
1 cup mashed pumpkin
2 cups SR flour
cinnamon and raw sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 180* and prepare muffin tins. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix through pumpkin and sultanans. Fold through spices and flour until just combined. Spoon into prepared pans. Sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon and raw sugar and bake for about 20 minutes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Windy Weekend

I look foward to the weekend all week long so Ian can look after the girls and I can get out into the garden, but is was so windy last weekend it was a mission not to get blown away feeding the chooks, so not a lot of gardening was done at all. It did give me some time to do some cooking which was nice.

For lunch on Sunday I made rosemary and Parmesan foccacia that I found the inspiration from here and a simple broccoli soup to help with the great broccoli glut. I always thought that broccoli soup was quite bland, but have discovered if you use good home made chicken stock and stir through very finely shaved parmesan that the end, it is actually really yummy.

I finally had time to make a beetoot and apple relish. It makes a great replacement for plain old beetroot in any sandwich or wrap.

Beetroot and Apple Relish

900g beetroot, peeled and grated
400g apples, peeled and grated
1 large red onion finely chopped
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine vinegar
pinch of dries chilli if you like a bit of a kick in it (Ido)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in a large heavy pot. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring every couple of minutes. Cook on moderate heat for a about 45 mins or until reduces and a nice syrupy consistency. Carefully fill and seal prepared bottles. Mmmm yum.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

I love my vegetable patch for inspiration. (Even though not that much has been done since Emme was born 4 months ago- and probably for a few months before that!)

Beetroot, spring onions, broccoli and crimson broad beans

This is a fabulous recipe that makes two 23cm round cakes, perfect for keeping one in the freezer for later. They are relatively light in texture, so it is well worth going for the rich chocolate ganache style icing. The recipe originally came from the ABC somewhere, I had a search earlier and couldn't find a link. This is my version.

Fresh beetroot ready for boiling

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups castar sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarb soda
400- 600g beetroot (up to you how 'beetrooty' you want it to be)
200g dark chocolate
40g chopped butter
2 tbsp cream

Cook (boil), peel and blend beetroot and allow to cool.
Prepare two round 23cm cake tins by greasing sides and lining base with baking paper.
Whisk eggs is a large bowl. Whisk in oil, vanilla and sugar one at a time. Fold in flour, cocoa, salt and bicarb followed by beetroot.
Pour evenly into tins and bake at 180* for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before icing with ganache.
To make ganache, melt butter and choclate gently in bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat and stir until smooth, stir in the cream and ice.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008


What can I say, I am certainly a bit over kids and husbands with illnesses related to the common cold!

This morning Ian and Emme had to go to the doctor, last Monday it was Lyssie. Ian has lots of tablets for a bad sinus infection (has been in bed for two days with a migrane), luckily Emme's cough and cold are only viral so she doesn't need to take anything. So the kids have been generally grumpy and sick of being inside. Luckily the sun was out this afternoon and Lyssie helped me get the wood with her wheelbarrow. I am amazed at how well she can manage it now.

Hopefully I will manage to get out into the garden or have time to cook something more adventurous than steak and salad soon as that is what I made the blog for!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Father's Day

Just at the end of a lovely Father's Day weekend away visiting my sister and her family. We had fabulous food all weekend and thankfully no indigestion like last time we were all together (my sister and I were both quite pregnant and paid the price for eating nice rich food)!

Kate, Emme and Gracey.

Ian and Lyssie getting ready for a special Father's Day lunch- doesn't she look like an angel!