Saturday, 29 January 2011

Garden update

Plum, peach and nectarine
I can't believe we still have green grass in late january! Plus sweet potato (my first attempt at growing these - might not be hot enough this year), borlotti beans and capsicum
Roma tomatoes, beans, nasturtium and basil. There is also a cucumber in there somewhere. Zebra beans climbing over the fruit cage, and chillis.
The passionfruit is looking a lot happier this year, and has even had a few flowers. I've also started off my autumn brassicas (collards, red and green and Chinese cabbage, and kale)
I'm delighted that the elderberries we planted a few months ago are doing quite well. All have flowered and we even have some berries!
Lucky chick contemplates the sunflower - probably wondering how long it will take the seeds to appear :-). The old apple tree is groaning with apples - even the marauding rosellas and parrots can't keep up!
 This is the first year we've been here when here has been so much rain and it has really made an enormous difference - although I'm very happy we have raised beds!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Pumpkin heaven

Pumpkin has always been one of those easy crops that everyone can grow easily...everyone except me!  I was determined to do better this year, and I'm not sure if it was determination, early planting in the greenhouse (not normally recommended) or all the rain but the signs are VERY promising this year.

L-R: Pink banana, Red Kuri, Long Island Cheese and Qld Blue
I grew a few red kuri's last year and they kept extremely well and had a lovely flavour - particularly roasted - but they didn't grow to the size of this year's crop. There are already 6 on the vine in varying stages of maturity. This time last year they were only lemon size.

I'm looking forward to a great pumpkin harvest in autumn :-)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Harvest snapshots

A few snaps of the bounty from the garden in the last week. We're really just now heading into serious harvest territory, as it's been cooler and wetter than a "normal" summer. I've been very surprised to find any potatoes, as the plants never really got going as per previous years, and I will swear that they didn't flower!

What's happening in your garden?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Kimchi verdict

I left my Kimchi for 5 days in the cheese fridge. In that time the fermentation made some of the brine spill out, but the plastic bags on top kept the cabbage covered. Then all I needed to do was seal the jars and into the fridge where it will keep for months.
 It taste's pretty good too - nowhere near as sour as sauerkraut, but it has a lovely warming 'kick' form the ginger and chilli, and the cabbage still has a bit of crunch to it. I think I will prefer it cold, but Jerry wants to try some warmed a bit.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Adventures in fermentation - Kimchi

The lovely Jerry gave me The joy of pickling for my birthday last week, and then some friends gave us a lovely home grown cabbage, so I decided to try making some kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage). I've always enjoyed it in Korean restaurants and it seems simple to make and keeps for ages.

There are several recipes in the book, but I decided to start with the basic. Step 1 was to make a brine of 3 tablespoons of sea salt and 6 cups of water. Then core the cabbage and cut into large cubes (2 inches / 5cm).
Combine cabbage and brine in a large non-reactive dish (ie not metal), weight the top with a plate and leave stand for about 12 hours.

The next day drain the cabbage and reserve the brine (you will need that in a minute). To the cabbage add 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger (minced or grated) and 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (I bashed mine in a mortar and pestle). The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons korean chilli powder which is apparently not very hot. I used about 1/2 teaspoon of my home grown thai chilli powder - which is hot). At this point it's already smelling DIVINE (even Jerry agrees). Put the cabbage mix into a large jar (2L size, or a 1.5l and a 350ml one like me!) and just cover the cabbage with the reserved brine. Then put a food grade plastic bag in the jar and fill with brine to create a weight to keep the cabbage in the brine and allow to ferment  in a cool place (no more than than 20 (68F)) for 3-5 days. Not the fridge though as that is too cold for fermentation to occur. As it's summer here I'm using my cheese fridge, which I can keep at about 15-16.

Here's how it looks today - I'll post an update in 3-5 days :-)
If you're interesting in learning more about fermented foods then Sandor Katz's wild fermentation site is the place to start.

This post was part of Fight back Friday (even though it was a Sunday LOL)

Friday, 7 January 2011

On my mind....

My lovely new stainless steel steam juicer from - thanks to the strong aussie dollar and some help from grandma Jerry's xmas present. Ordered on 2 Jan, arrived 7 Jan - not bad from USA to country Australia! Can't wait to make some more brambleberry jelly using this tomorrow!

On my mind inspired by Rhonda

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Garden pasta dinner

Last night we had a simple garden veg pasta dinner. The garlic, courgette (zucchini), tomato, tomato paste, basil and chilli were all home grown/ made, while the orange and red pepper (capsicum) came from the local farmer's market, and the olive oil was local too. The pasta wasn't home made because I wanted to use up my store of bought pasta.

Topped with some parmesan cheese (alas not local) it was very tasty - and Jerry didn't even comment on the missing bacon LOL.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Homegrown chilli powder - a revelation

Last year we had a bumper crop of small thai chillies - called purple tiger. The dried very well in the dehydrator, and then I put the jars in the cupboard and I'm embarrassed to say forgot about them !

Last week I needed some chilli powder and didn't have any ...until I remembered these dried chillies. So into the spice blender attachment of the kenwood they went and a few seconds later voila, home made chilli powder.

What a flavour revelation!! The powder is HOT, so you don't need much, but it is a flavoursome hot. It's not a "hit over the head with a 2x4" kind of all heat that some commercial chilli powders are. It has a depth and character - almost a fruity heat. Just fabulous. I can grind just enough to last a month or so and always have fresh chilli powder.

What's even better -with another 2 jars in the cupboard I won't run out anytime soon! I have also dried some jalapenos so I will be interested to make some powder from them to compare.

btw the spice storage containers (right pic) I have are from Tablefare and I love them! Jerry found them for me as a Christmas present and they have been brilliant. They come from the US, but the lovely Tablefare people shipped them over for Jerry specially (we were their first Australian order) and he said they were a pleasure to deal with.  With the Aussie dollar so strong against the US dollar I'm seriously considering getting a few more.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year everyone

For the first day of the new year my true love gave to me 9.5kg of brambleberries......
The advantages of getting out into the garden at 7:30am!! So after a morning of mulching in the garden, a trip to the farmer's market and a celebratory brunch of french toast with bacon and maple syrup at a local cafe, I spent much of the rest of today making brambleberry jam and brambleberry jelly. 18 jars later I STILL have about 2kg to deal with tomorrow. So far we've picked 21 kg and there are still more to come! Brambleberries certainly fruit better in the second year (they had a radical haircut mid 2009 and we only got about 6kg from them last year) so I think we might do the same this year and have a smaller brambleberry year next year. We will certainly have enough to freeze a good few kilos.

I also took the opportunity to take a few garden snaps so you can see how things are progressing. I'm amazed to see so much green in January.
The tomato beds have new higher hoop frames with shadecloth - the higher hoops do make it much easier to work in the bed. The tomatoes have started fruiting as well.

Oca, yacon, peas and beans and the peach tree. Peppers, chilli, eggplant, pumpkin and courgette...and some rogue potatoes!
HURRAH!! There are pumpkins! I really want to end the season with more than 6 this year. These are the Red Kuri variety that grow to 1.5-2kg - a perfect size for 2 people - and they keep well.
Seed pod on the nigella
On the harvest front for this season (starting Dec 10) we have
  • 21 kg brambleberries
  • 8.4kg redcurrants (made into vinegar, jelly and some frozen for summer puddings)
  • 1.8kg blackcurrants (made into jelly)
  • 1.1kg boysenberries
  • 200g raspberry (just starting)
  • 220g loganberries
  • 1.5kg runner beans
  • plus sugar snap and snow peas and wild rocket
I am looking forward to some tasty home grown tomatoes in a few weeks though!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2011.
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