Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunday Sewing

Yesterday I thought I would have a go at making a 60s (?) style garden apron pattern that I bought.

Here it is. I will not be showing a close up as they would not pass inspection as I still have a long way to go on the learning to sew path. However I'm reasonably pleased that it turned out OK for round the house, and I learned a few things along the way. It was quite a good project for an afternoon - took me 4-5 hours all up but if you were a good sewer it would be a lot faster. The thing I really like about this pattern is that the apron sits on the shoulders rather than hanging off the neck. Much more comfortable.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

I made socks!

And here they are...

Glossing over their (many!)  imperfections I'm quite pleased as they are my first ever attempt at socks. I did cheat and use a 2 needle pattern as I still can't get my head (or hands!) around DPNs. They will certainly be good enough to wear around the house with slippers or as bed socks. They are in a 4ply cotton that I bought from the outlet store at Bendigo Woollen Mills.

Now for my next project....I wanted to try and make a cardi but I only have 15 balls of the wool I want to use and its not quite enough. So I think I might make another shrug either this one or maybe this one. Decisions, decisions............

Friday, 26 March 2010


I remember not so long ago (as the lovely Jerry reminds me) complaining about the lack of cucumbers and what a dismal season it was for them.

Clearly nature has a sense of humour and wants to teach me a lesson. Today I picked 3kg, Yep, thats 3 KILOgrams of the b*ggers. Now I like cucumbers as much as the next woman, but come on...3kg ! This is all from the one plant mind you. What's more, there looks to be another 2-3 kg hanging on the vine ripening away.

Needless to say I spent some time in the kitchen peeling and slicing and salting in preparation for ANOTHER batch of cucumber pickles. On the bright sideat least they are my favourite variety (apple cucumbers), although not the best for pickling in slices, so I cut them into wedges
Anyone have a favourite pickle vinegar recipe they would like to share?

Oh and Jerry dear - cucumber will be on the menu for the foreseeable future!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I'm growing my hair and making noodles - aint multi-tasking grand!

Of course, this will only look impressive to those of you who knew how short my hair was before  :*)

And on a culinary note I made parsley egg noodles 2 nights ago.....using a recipe from Lacy's excellent blog - although be aware that a US cup is only 240ml not 250 if you're going to try this at home. Mine was very dry and I had to add extra milk as I didn't work this out until AFTER I'd started.....  :*)

Indoor clothes lines have a multitude of uses!

Monday, 22 March 2010

You don't need to be rural to be radical

Suburbanites don't despair! You don't need a Margo and Jerry size backyard .... watch and be inspired !

I REALLY want some goats now though, as those kids are just gorgeous!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Adventures with rosehips

This year we decided to do something with the hips from the wild rose bush near one of our garden fences. After a bit of reading I decided to make rosehip syrup to use over winter, and mostly followed the directions from Carla Emery's excellent Encyclopaedia of Country Living, with a bit of The Cottage Smallholder thrown in!

While I was out buying pears for drying and bottling ($2 a kilo form the local orchard!!) Jerry was picking hips. Then he spend a happy (?!) hour or so de-stalking them while we watched some "The thick of it" on DVD. So funny. Peter Capaldi is just brilliant.
 While they were straining in the jelly bag (given to me by mama and papa Jerry ..see I use it, it's great!!) I also put a few of the 6kg (!!) tomatoes Jerry picked with some home grown basil and garlic to slow roast in the oven for pasta sauce.

And here's the result - from about 1.2kg of hips I have just under 2l of syrup. I'm planning to call my mum to ask her to save her hips too as she has loads of roses.
What about those pears, I hear you ask. I bought Red Sensations (a red williams pear) and regular williams (oh, and a kilo of peaches cause they smelled so nice). The reds are destined to be dried pear, and the williams I will bottle. Got to make the most of the season whilst they are cheap!
Oh, and Aussiemade to answer your question I have an Ezidri FD1000 dryer. I picked this one based on other people's reviews, availability, and the accessories available - also it can dry up to 30 trays at once (I have 10 at the moment). I prefer to use the solar drier that Jerry made, but it has been too humid. However, I try to only use this electric one when I have 10 full trays on the go to make it really worth the electricity.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Harvest is in full swing

After despairing of the cucumbers earlier in the season - kerpow, they have gone off like a rocket! The Armenian ones were a complete failure, but the apple cucumber vine is threatening to take over the garden, and we've had a few Lebanese cues as well.

Here's the latest harvest tally - I don't bother to weigh leafy greens, herbs or spring and salad onions....

I'm feeling quite pleased with that, as you can imagine. The beans are particularly satisfying as for several years I haven't had much luck with them. However, this morning I picked 1.5 kg of the scarlet runners, and then prepared them for freezing using my nifty new runner bean slicer. After blanching they are now on trays in the freezer, and I'll transfer them to bags once just frozen. Then I sliced up a few kilos of the lovely local red sensation pears, which are now in the dehydrator.

I also put the finishing touches on the 1.5kg of apple cucumbers I prepared for pickling last night (by cutting into "fingers" and covering with salt) - I used a vinegar combination of 50% apple cider and 50% white (cause I ran out of ACV!!) with 3 teaspoons of brown sugar and 4 mini chillis (also home grown). I boiled the vinegar for 6 minutes, then let sit to go cold. I packed the rinsed and dried cucumber pieces into cold sterilised jars, covered with the cold vinegar, removed the air bubbles and sealed. Hope they taste nice!

All that before 10am  - I call that a very productive morning.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Harvest time

Yesterday was busy with garden tidying, harvesting and a bit of preserving. As you can see we're having a huge year for eggplant! I used just over 1kg to make some char-grilled preserved eggplant which we will eat in a week or 2 (not pictured). I also bottled some tomatoes (loads more to do), and made some quick sweet cucumber pickles, again for eating in the next few weeks.

Just look at that grass! Incredible for so much lushness at the end of summer - that's what happens when you get over 200mm rain in 2.5 months.

A few people have asked about the scythe. Yes, it is VERY sharp, but you do have to sharpen it with a whetstone as you go along - maybe every 5-10 mins depending on the grass you are cutting. It is tricky getting your stance and the angle right on a hillside, but I think once we get the hang of it and get a rhythm then it will be easier. On the plus side you don't get vibrating hands of a face full of fumes as you do with the whipper snipper. Scything is much more meditative.......

Anyway I'm off to the markets today so best get ready...happy Sunday everyone

Friday, 12 March 2010

The best kind of mail

is a present form a friend! Thank you lovely Estelle for all these French delights. I particularly love the chicken cereal bowls. You can't see them here but there is also a lovely set of tea spoons that spell out tea in French. I don't know about you, but to me everything looks better in French  :*)

Oh and while we are at it, here's a few pics of Jerry trying out the "latest"Austrian technology...his scythe. It's a bit tricky on a hill, but we'll get the hang of it. It is certainly a lot lighter than the strimmer / whipper snipper.
And the obligatory "food porn" pics: bread, home grown tomatoes, basil and garlic for roasting, a recent harvest basket (potato, aubergine, courgette), and a batch of chutney (courgette and aubergine) ready to cook
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