Monday, 13 October 2014

Fishy or fruity...or both?

Nigel Slater's mackrel with rhubarb and sherry vinegar. In a nutshell: pan fried mackerel served with oven baked rhubarb. The sherry vinegar comes into it at the end when you are rewarming the rhubarb in the pan before serving. Mine was a bit mushier than Nigel's, and didn't look pretty, but the taste combination was surprisingly good.


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Chicken and corn soup

Lizzie's chicken and corn soup - love it. Her recipe calls for fresh corn, but it also works with frozen corn, albeit with a much shorter cooking time. This is my go-to lunch when I have leftover roast or poached chicken.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Orchard update - sometimes things just don't work out

In July 2009 (can't believe it was so long ago!) ago we created a mini-orchard that we planned to espalier. We had 2 plum trees, 2 cherries, 2 apricots, 2 peaches, a nectarine, 2 apples, a pear and a nashi. A friend with a digger came over and drilled some nice big holes for the trees, we put in posts, strung wire, planted and looked forward to many home grown fruity adventures.
Five years (!!) down the track, the orchard experiment has been a failure. With the exception of the two plum trees, which have given us buckets of delicious plums, all the trees have failed to thrive. In fact, most still look almost as spindly as when they were planted. One of the apricots grew quite well, but gave almost no fruit. We can't say for sure why this has happened across so many of the trees - poor soil, wrong location, not enough feeding/watering (or both). However, given the peach tree in the veg patch we planted in 2008 before now has a trunk thicker than my leg (and gives the most amazing peaches), it became more and more obvious that there wasn't going to be a miraculous growth spurt.

At the same time we have been thinking about a new chicken coop up closer to the garden, so we can make better use of the new chickens in the garden (when we get some). Locating it near the berry cage (in the current orchard area) and including a gate would allow us to have the chickens roam this area in the non-fruit season to manage grass and pests. It would also put the coop closer to the house, and right nest to a tap for convenient water top-ups.

So... we made the decision to remove all of the trees, apart from the two plums. One apricot is still in the ground, as it was too big to easily remove with large pruners (yes, the trees were THAT spindly), but it will go. The posts and wires are still up, but they will be removed in the next few weeks, and I will start training the plums to be "all round" trees, rather than fan trained. We live in an orchard area so we have access to cheap, local fruit so we will just continue to support our local economy by buying what we want when it is in season, and preserving our favorites to enjoy at other times.
 On the bright side, however, the rhubarb seems to be quite happy!

You win some, you lose some.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Breakfast babies

No need to panic, we haven't turned cannibal! The babies I'm referring to are Dutch babies (aka dutch baby pancake, Dutch puff, German pancake or puffed pancake - but I think they are an American invention). This is another tasty discovery from Gina's blog, and has become a firm favourite at our house. Dutch babies will never win any glamour awards - although they rise spectacularly (and unevenly in my case!) they collapse as soon as they are out of the oven. To me they are a cross between a pancake and a yorkshire pudding.
They are quick and easy to make - I've managed to whip one up on a weekday morning to enjoy before heading to work. We tend to have ours with golden syrup, but berries and sugar, apples or other fruit would be a good healthy alternative as well. The added bonus is it is quite filling, and will keep you going until lunch. You can reheat leftovers in the microwave the next day, and they are almost as good.

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started - why not try one this weekend?
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