Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Spring flowers

You can never have too many irises in the garden
  Cornflowers and apple blossom
 Flowering brambleberry - can't wait for them to turn into berries!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Herbal hair rinse

I haven't used shampoo for a few years now - I just use bicarb and some water. I used to follow with just a plain apple cider vinegar rinse, but after reading a few skincare and herbal books I decided to try making a herbal vinegar rinse. This month it's a mix of mullein and chamomile - supposedly good for blonde hair (according to James Wong from Grow your own drugs). It's very easy - put vinegar and the herbs (fresh or dried) in a jar, and leave in a sunny spot for 2 weeks. Shake/stir gently every few days. Drain. I use 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water in an old shampoo bottle as a rinse.
Last month my scalp was getting a bit itchy so I made a rinse with rosemary and sage and that worked a treat.

The added bonus is that bicarb and ACV are VERY cheap compared to shampoo and conditioner. My scalp is in much better condition since I started this regime (less itchy and flaky) and my hair looks and feels good. Once every 4-6 weeks I do a "hair mask" with olive oil or jojoba if I'm feeling decadent. Just massage it in, leave for 2 hours under a showercap/cling film then wash out. The jojoba in particular leaves my hair super soft and shiny.
I know you can go totally "no poo", but this regime seems like a good compromise to me :-)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Springtime in the garden

Look at all that lovely green!
 Late broad beans (as in I planted them late!) and garlic, with a giant red mustard plant going to seed in the corner, and the struggling passionfruit vine on the concrete tank. The kipfler potatoes are coming along nicely.

 Looks like another bumper year for raspberries, and the violas are out an looking lovely

 Jerry scored a kitchen tap from a work colleague, so he incorporated it into my garden sink and connected it to the tap so now I can wash my veges there mush more easily. The wash water and dirt drains into a bucket and then goes back onto the garden. Clever Jerry!

I used our electric mulcher to mulch up old / gone to seed vegetable matter that the chickens don't eat  (eg turnips, carrots, broccoli stems) to add back into the garden beds. Our local greengrocer does this in his garden and swears by it so I thought why not?! It's best to let the wetter vegetables dry out for a few days first or they clog the mulcher (as I discovered!). This does seem to really encourage the worms, particularly if the bed is damp and you dig th eveg matter in and then cover with straw or other mulching material
 Seedlings in the greenhouse are coming along as well. Rockmellon seeds I received in a swap - they were home saved and they all germinated!!! Very impressed with my swap buddy's seed saving skills.

 This years tomatoes, peppers, chillies, eggplants are coming along. I've also decided to start off some pumpkins in the greenhouse. I know it's not ideal, but this will give me an extra month of growing which might mean we get a decent crop this year. I planted a lot of home saved chilli and capsicum seeds and they have germinated well so I'm pretty happy with that.

Happiness is a full water tank (the red marker near the ladder shows the height of the water) - in fact it's overflowed a few times, even after we pumped water to the 2 hill tanks (which are also now full). It will be quite a while before we need to resort to bore water  - even in the garden.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Brambleberry Semifreddo

I adapted this recipe from one in Australian Good Food magazine in Nov 2009. Theirs was called "double cherry semifreddo". I used brambleberries (as we still have a few kg in the freezer and the plants are flowering abundantly for this year's crop already.
  • 1kg berries - I think any berry type fruit would work well
  • 200ml thickened or pure (thick) cream (the bulla one) & 200g cream cheese (original recipe called for 400ml thickened cream only)
  • 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
Line a smallish loaf pan with plastic wrap (I used a 400g loaf bred tin). Bring berries, cream and cream cheese to boil (just) and then simmer for 5 mins until softened. Whizz in a blender when slightly cooled and pass through a sieve to remove seeds.
Whisk a bit of this mix into egg yolks while still hot, then pour back in to fruity cream and then cook on low heat for 5-10 mins stirring all the time until the mix thickly coats the back of a spoon. Strain again into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap - on the surface of the custard mix not over the bowl - to avoid a skin forming and leave to go completely cold.

Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then fold in completely cold berry custard a bit at a time - careful not to knock all the air out. Pour into tin and freeze overnight. Of course I forgot to take a pic of the completed item, but the magazine pic is a good approximation.

I quite enjoyed the bit of 'tart'ness that the cream cheese gave the overall flavour. But I'm sure all cream woudl be decadent and lovely. This was super-easy and quick to make. Highly recommended for berry season!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A couple of easy dinners

I'm still feeling a bit time poor - but here are a couple of this week's easy and low-fuss dinners

Okonomiyaki - a japanese savoury pancake (I posted the recipe here last year). This time I used leftover lamb as the meat (optional), kale, carrot and chinese cabbage.  IT was a bit big to turn over all in one piece alas! Served with sweet chilli sauce. Lovely. Took 20 minutes from start to finish including all the prep (which takes about 5 mins). Added bonus-  all veg came from the garden, and the lamb was local too.

Last night I made a burrito style dish with chicken, asparagus and red pepper cooked with some taco seasoning mix from screaming seeds. Served in a spelt burrito with a spread of cream cheese and some chopped tomato. Also not bad :-)
Tonight it's fish and home made chips followed by brambleberry semifredo (if it works I'll post the recipe!)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

An apology and some muffins

In the last month we've had
  • a dog that's had cruciate ligament knee surgery, and the 3 weeks laterd had to have the other knee done (4 7+ hour day trips to melbourne and counting)
  • Jerry's needed root canal
  • the TV broke
Needless to say it has been a VERY expensive month, and Freddie is walking around on our holidays for the next few years I think!  I've also been very busy work-wise and doing 6 days in some cases so not a lot of energy left for anything much else, including blogging.

However this weekend I've been in the garden planning and potting on tomatoes and peppers, and in the kitchen making some chutney (rhubarb, pear and ginger), some lime pickle, and another batch of matron's most excellent sourdough english muffins. I can't encourage you enough to try this fabulous recipe.
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