Thursday, October 30, 2008

Growing Challenge Update 1

We have had quite a lot of rain over the last week which has been just lovely for the garden and to finish off the crops on the farm, so much so that we are ready for it to stop now and dry out ready for harvest. It has been great weather for the seeds I have planted to get going.

Potatoes in front, just mounded more pea straw up around their stems, scarlet runner beans on left down fenceline, little corn seedlings where it looks bare then onions behind

Here is a quick update on the seeds in the vege patch
  • all the corn are up and happy- waire cages are now off
  • most of the pumpkins and zucchinis are up and their first real leaf is forming
  • some of the Minnesota Rockmelons are up
  • 2 out of 3 varieties of cucumber are up- Chinese snake and Lebanese mini muncher are up, still waiting on sweet and striped to appear
  • Scarlet runner beans are up- I am surprised at how big their leaves are!
In the greenhouse
  • something has eaten the Tuscan kale
  • the spinach is developing real leaves
  • the corn and zucchinis are ready to be planted out
  • the butternut pumpkins are a bit slow- I had a dig in the toilet roll pots and they are beginning to germinate
I have never been one to save my own seeds except for maybe a pumpkin here or there, but this year I did try and grow my own chillies with some seeds off another chilli- and to my surprise it actually worked! I have just pricked out some little baby two leaf chilli plants into a punnet. There are still a lot more left. If they grow like I imagine the will make great Christmas presents.

The chilli seeds germinating

Seedlings that have just been pricked out and out into a punnet, English spinach in front of them

The rain has kept the fruit trees looking fresh. The old plum and apricot have been netted as we have quite a parrot problem here. Would like to do the quince this weekend and the two little apple trees, a pink lady and Granny Smith. They are tiny- not even as tall as me which is annoying as they have been in nearly 4 years! At least they are covered in fruit, not sure if it should be thinned out or not?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Finally I have found a pastry that is actually relatively easy and not too time consuming! After trying many versions of 'classic' butter and flour style shortcrust pastry for quiches and pies I was beginning to think that I really wasn't cut out for making pastry. But I had one more crack and decided to make Maggie Beer's sour cream pastry. It is surprisingly easy to work with and forgiving!

Ready for tart making, fresh eggs, asparagus and the very last of the leeks

I made a version of Maggie's Asparagus and Leek Tart as we are getting a nice bunch of asparagus a day at the moment and it is just divine! It is such a treat to nibble of fresh asparagus as you wander around the garden, even Lyssie has a go. The tart worked out really well, although I did swap the 12 egg yolks for 6 whole eggs and the two and a half cups of cream for one cup.

My little helper. Every time I walk even remotely towards the kitchen Lyssie is following me with her chair to stand on. Here she is ready to help, snotty hay fever nose and all! Not sure why she needed a beanie as it has been a bit warm this week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Growing Challenge

Time to join the Growing Challenge!

I am located in the Great Southern region of Western Australia and fall into zone 4. I have been an avid vegetable gardener for 4 years and find the whole process very rewarding. I get most of my seeds and a lot of my ideas from The Digger's Club and their associated books.

Something new I have tried recently is the idea of raising seeds in toilet rolls which I have seen in a few blogs lately including Towards Sustainability. I really like the idea of reducing the transplant shock as many times I want to plant things before their roots are developed enough to withstand being moving out of a container.

Two weeks ago I planted
4 into corn (unsure of variety)
4 into Tuscan kale- haven't grown before
2 into blackjack zucchini
2 into Lebanese zucchini
2 into trombocino zucchini
4 into butternut pumpkin
4 into Spinch Winter Queen (these were into an old punnet as I had run out of toilet rolls)

So far the corn are popping through, the Tuscan kale and spinach are up and the blackjack zucchini are just about up. Hopefully the other's aren't far behind.

I have planted other zucchini seeds into the vege garden, so the ones above I will use as back up and the fill in spaces- you can never have enough zucchini plants (although my husband disagrees- he gets a bit over eating them in summer- not me, they are my favourite).

Above is 4 rows of corn that were planted on the 12 of October- most have popped through now. They have wire over the rows as in the past I have had trouble with birds getting the seeds. When they get a little bigger they can come off.

The aim for this week is to start the war against slugs! They are everywhere!

Sunday's Goals

I managed a couple of things ! Mainly the cooking (always seems to get done before anything else).
Things completed
  • pickled beetroot- yum (only 1 more batch still in the veg patch)
  • made quiches
  • made banana loaf (Lyssie loves it)
  • did actually vacuum- moved some furniture round first and tried to give the living area a bit more play space- bit over constantly treading on various toys and play mats and tripping over the rocker
  • packed away some of Lyssie's toys- she hasn't noticed yet or found them
  • went for a walk
Still haven't cleaned the stove or blogged or joined the growing challenge- hopefully I will now as long as no one wakes up!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have recently been inspired to set myself some goals (from here). Before I can set any long term goals it would be best to get through each day! So here are my goals for today.
  • pickle beetroot
  • make mini quiches for Lyssie's dinner tonight
  • make banana and date laof
  • vacuum living areas
  • Blog about a fantastic lunch last week
  • join the growing challenge
  • clean the stove (after I have finished cooking)
  • take the girls for a good walk
  • when Lyssie is asleep tonight, pack away and hide some of her toys for a few weeks (then they will be like new ones)
Not quite sure how I will go as it is 1.00pm already and I have only just managed to blog this. Best be off to bring in the washing and do all the day to day things that aren't goals before I can really get started!! Will report back in tonight- hopefully!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Local Show

On Saturday it was our local agricultural show. It is by no means a 'big' show, but it is quite a local event. For the first time I managed to get organised and enter some things I have grown and made. I was pretty pleased with how I went, but I must admit that in a couple of sections I was the only entrant!

Here is how I went
Plum Jam- first (out of two)
Pickles (I put in a jar of beetroot relish)- first (out of one)
Loaf, unsliced suitable the butter (I made a banana and date loaf)- first (out of two)
Bearded iris- first (out of about 8)
3 pansies distinct- didn't get a place, I thought they wanted three the same, but it was actually 3 different, something I have learnt for next year
Pumpkin- first (out of two)
Bunch of spring onions- second (out of two)
Bunch of silverbeet- first (out of four)
Basket of herbs- second (out of two and the first place was really quite good)
Basket of vegetables- first (out of one) this did manage to win best exhibit in the home industries section so I was quite happy with that

Silverbeet relaxing in the bath before their big day on show

Best exhibit in Home Industries- included silverbeet, kale, beetroot, asparagus, snow peas, crimson broad beans and artichoke

Friday, October 10, 2008

Everyday Sourdough

This is not quite traditional but certainly tastes great and is simple to do any day of the week. This recipe makes quite a decent sized loaf and I always do the hard work in the bread machine.

Sourdough Starter

125g white baker's flour
1 tsp dry yeast
125ml tepid water

Mix together quite well in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

Sourdough starter after ready to go into bread machine

Sourdough Bread

280ml tepid water
sourdough starter mix (above)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup natural yoghurt
600g white baker's flour
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast

Put all the sourdough bread ingredients in the bread maker and put through the dough cycle- an hour and a half in my machine.

Prepare an average sized mixing bowl by lining it with a clean tea towel and dusting with a generous amount of flour (enough to stop the dough sticking). Turn completed dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Place smooth side down in the bowl, cover with the excess tea towel and stand for about 45 minutes (or until doubled in size).

Preheat oven to 210*. Prepare a flat oven tray (I always line with baking paper). Place a dish of boiling water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.

Fold the tea towel back and place the tray over it, flip it and carefully remove the bowl and the tea towel. Place 3 or 4 cuts across the top each way with a sharp knife. Bake for 20 minutes at 210*, then reduce to 180* for a further 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Ready for the oven

Friday, October 3, 2008

Homemade Presents

It seems like a long way off, but Christmas is less than 3 months away. I decided it was time to think about presents so this week I have done a lot of reading and researching and got some great ideas from 'Blog World'. As I am really not a crafty person (never been praised for being persistent so never really became skilled at anything crafty) it took a while to find something that suited me. Finally I found the perfect homemade present- cake mixes in a jar. What a simple, yet practical idea that suits me perfectly. After reading a lot of recipes it became clear that it would be easy to adapt the idea of having dry ingredients in a jar and simply adding a couple of basic wet ingredients. This is what I came up with. Might try to adapt this cookie one this week if I have time.

Rich Chocolate Walnut Brownies
This mix fits perfectly into a size 31 Vacola preserving jar

For the cake mix:
2/3 cup self-raising flour, sifted
2/3 cup cocoa, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix together in a large bowl, put in jar and seal. (Did try to make it look pretty with layers, but unless there is no air at all the layers will move around a bit and look a bit sloppy. Also with the choc chips and walnut layers the finer ingredients move through them.)

Instructions to go on gift

Preheat oven to 160* and line a square cake tin with baking paper. Tip all dry ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre. In the well add 1 teaspoon on vanilla essence, 4 eggs and 330g melted butter and mix well. Pour into cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until just cooked.

No picture of the finished product I'm afraid, was quite rich and yummy, Lyssie and Ian were both pretty happy with the result!