Saturday, 20 October 2012

'Roo Pie

Last day at home before another work trip ( and last work trip) to China and I decided to spend it gardening and cooking -  things I can't do while away and anything to take you away from packing your bag, right? And after all, it was such a lovely day here in Sydney.

So, I picked a big bunch of celery,

a big bunch of radish

a bunch of baby beets and

a handful of broccoli side shoots.

The celery went into apple carrot and celery juice, and went into 'roo pies (but more on that later).

The beets got pickled and put in a jar.  I am still not partial to pickled beets but the Lad loves these.

And then, to further delay packing the bag, I got going on a long, slow cook.

Recently we have been thinking about cooking and eating kangaroo.  We had certainly eaten it before -  one memorable time after having walked  a good slab of the Larapinta trail in Central Australia and ended at Glen Helen desperate for a proper feed. It was great.

I cant remember how we started thinking about cooking it ourselves -  I think the Lad may have heard a program on Bush Telegraph - a radio program on ABC Radio National about cooking 'roo? Or we might have started thinking about eating 'roo because of our immanent rural move.

'Roo, is very very lean - all that hopping about I guess. It's also high in iron  and protein.  It looks very very dark  and has a unique smell to it. It is quite gamey. Because of the low fat, it can dry out and be very chewy if you are not careful.  It lends itself to either a quick and hot pan or a long and slow bloop. We have now done both.

We started this adventure very carefully.  I bought a pack of rump and the first meal we tried was roo steaks. I read up and  vowed not to cook any longer than 2-3 mins each side.  In the end I went for 2.5 mins and then took off to rest.  I also prepared an onion and pomegranate sauce which was amazing on top and moistened the meat. It was very enjoyable, not tough and had a great taste. I was a little chuffed that it worked!

Today I have tackled the other method -  a long slow bloop with the intention of making filing for a pie.I thought that the gaminess of 'roo would work well with a Spanish interpretation by adding lots of garlic, chorizo and smoked paprika.

'Roo pie (* from the patch)
celery* cut very fine
carrot grated
kangaroo meat ( I had left over rump and a whole packet of loin)
pepper grinded and whole pepper corns
smoked paprika
chorizo sausage
a little tinned tomato
bay leaves*
1 stubby of beer - 4 Wives Pilsner from James Squire
homemade short crust pastry -  the Lad's speciality
shop bought puff for the top

I coated the meat in flour and set aside. I cooked the onion and garlic and finely chopped chorizo for a while and then added the carrot and celery. After it had softened I added the meat and browned. Then added the rest of the ingredients and blooped on a low heat for several hours.  The need to stir occasionally, sufficiently distracted from packing the bags.

The Lad made the pastry and prepared the pies -  a little sprinkle of smoked paprika on top and  they looked wonderful. (One pie did get a little more than a sprinkle!)

And  we had it with  the steamed broccoli side shoots and a tomato sauce.

Have you tried a new food recently?  Something that was a little scary and you worried about how it would cook? Do you cook 'roo? How?

My next challenge? Rabbit - supplied fresh from the farm.

In the meantime, I will go into blog oblivion behind the Great Fire Wall of China and so will not be able to read or comment on your blogs or make any new posts. Goodbye for a while...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

From scarf to rug

A while ago now, I decided to try my hand at crochet again.  I used to crochet a lot - I made rugs and rugs  (rugs mostly), rugs that I still wrap myself in them on cold winter nights. Then I got a bad case of RSI and gave up. (The RSI was work induced - not from making too many rugs although one might wonder!)

But in my post Crochet and the Fairy Godmother, I blogged about how walking past a wool shop recently, I was drawn in by the lure of textile and decided to tackle a small project  -  a scarf  made of granny squares -  to see if I could manage crochet again.Well, I quickly finished the project without pain and decided that I didn't really want a scarf after all - I wanted a rug (old habits are obviously hard to change).

So I got hooking.

I have made about 40 squares now - half way thru an 80 square rug.

I am loving the murky colours and think they go so well with all our other things.The only thing holding me back is that the wool shop is out of the lovely dirty orange colour - called Tuscan.

Oh well, I am hooked on hooking again and now find it hard to sit at night without wool in my hands.  Looks like I am going to have to take on another project... no, not another rug!

I am contributing this to My Creative Space. Take a look at the things that others are making.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Harvest Monday - 15th October 2012

I was silly... I posted about much of my harvest this week last Friday.

It was a Friday thing... a post work stroll thru the patch and the sort of ritual of picking that helps to soothe the working week away  - and it was such a good picking that I had to post about it then and there so plenty more produce shots there.

But to cover off  the whole week, last week I picked quite a nice stash of produce. Here it is.
  • 1 main head of broccoli
  • lots of broccoli side-shoots
  • 2 big heads of cauliflower
  • several bunches of new baby radishes
  • the last of the snowpeas
  • lots of herbs - oregano, thyme, parsley, basil, mint and bay
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • lettuce leaves
  • rocket leaves
  • celery leaves
  • a solid bunch of celery stalks
  • a bunch of young sweet beetroot
  • a big handful of  lemon leaves

I also raided my stashes of the chillies from the freezer from last summer's glut, opened  new jars of my rocket fuel chilli sambal and my sweet chilli and tomato jam and dug into the home made strawberry jam and lemon marmalade.

These ingredients have gone into all sorts of food:
  • broccoli oreccietta 
  • lamb kofte with mint and wrapped in lemon leaves
  • roast beetroot and mint salad - one of Suburban Tomato's recipes that is now a regular on my menu
  • fresh green salad with loads of different leaves, herbs and fennel
  • radishes dipped into hummus
  • vegetable juices with quite peppery celery
  • piles of steamed snow peas
It's a nice time in the garden and on the plate. I am contributing this to Daphne's Monday Harvest list, there will be plenty of produce to look at there soon, when the earth turns a little more.

What are you enjoying eating at the moment with your home growns?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Caged blueberries

The time is nearly here, the wait is nearly over. Very soon I will have my first pick of blueberries.

Aren't they a pretty colour before they turn blue? A lovely purple rosy colour.

But I am a little worried that they may be sampled by my feathered friends -  Half-tail the currawong and his/her jaunty partner Snappy, or Laurie and Keats the lorikeets. A blueberry protection device is in order.

A bit of left over wire, two stakes and a bit if red nylon rope and  the device has been constructed. Ugly but hopefully functional?

  • Do lorikeets steal your berries?
  • What about your currawongs?
  • How do you keep the birdies off your fruit?
  • And, does anyone out there have advice on pruning blueberries?

I believe that you cut them back 1/3rd after they finish fruiting.

  • Has anyone tried to strike new plants from their blueberry prunings?  
  • Do you use hard or soft wood?

Friday, 12 October 2012

Post-work pickings

It's Friday and nothing soothes a week of work like a garden inspection. And garden inspections are even better when there is lots to pick as there was this afternoon.

 It's not a bad pick for mid-spring but it also represents the last of the winter crop.

 There are two cauliflowers - pretty good sized, but these are the last of the caulis now.

I also picked the last main head of broccoli and lots of side shoots.

I also picked the last of the snow peas. Despite the fact that today was a cold ( for Sydney) 16 degrees Celsius with a heavy dump of snow in the Blue Mountains, last week's 33 degree day turned the snow peas off.  While there is plenty of lovely healthy green growth, there are no more flower buds.

There is another bunch of radishes - funny how most are bright red and one is darker. 

And the first bulb from my fennel cluster.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Tomato apron

I have been busy...  I have made another apron in my vegetable series - this one is made from tomato fabric.

I really love these fabrics -  they allow me to combine three of my loves -  sewing, vegetable gardening and cooking.

The tomato apron has contrasting black neckpiece, a touch of red bias and big, deep, black pockets with green bias binding edging to the pockets and to the whole apron.

It will go into my shop Cumquat to join its friends, the carrot, citrus and capsicum aprons.

I am contributing this post to My Creative Space.

Take a look at all the other beautiful things that people have made this week.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Top 5: Cut-and-come-again vegetables

On Sunday, I posted about my discovery of fennel as a cut-and-come-again vegetable.What do I mean? Well I guess I have two ways of defining this. One definition is veg that you can harvest as a whole but that you only harvest in part by taking parts of the plant when you want, leaving most of the plant in the ground to gather more later.

Then I guess there is another way to define cut-and-come-again. Plants that, if you harvest in the right way by leaving their roots in the ground,  they will come again.

I don't do a Top 5 very often, but the post about fennel got me thinking about cut-and-come-again vegetables and how handy they are.

In no particular order here are my Top 5 cut-and-come-again veg.

1. Lettuce
Lettuce is a great cut and come again. While you cant take all of the leaves at once, selectively picking off  leaves from a number of plants at one gives you enough for a salad bowl without harvesting the whole plant.

2. Broccoli
A classic cut-and-come-again. Once you have harvested that central head, the sprouts keep coming. And they are such a handy size - no need to cut the side shoots up before cooking.

3. Celery
Celery is probably one of those plants that you can both harvest individual stalks and also cut the plant off at the base. I personally haven't cut it off at the base and had it re-sprout, but City garden, country garden has and attests to it and I will try it out myself.

4. Spring onions
I tend to pull my spring onions, as you can see from this picture, but many I know cut the onion at the base allowing it to re-sprout. I am going to try this to keep the crop going in future. Another version of getting the most from your spring onions is to buy them in the shops but plant them in the garden straight away. My mother and brother do this regularly they tell me. It keeps the onions nice and taught - preferable to them going limp and slimy in the bottom of your crisper!

5. Fennel
I accidentally discovered that fennel was a cut-and-come-again. Read about it here.

I guess there is another definition of cut and come again vegetables - they might be the ones you can 'bandicoot'. Bandicoots are cute Australian mammals that can raid your root vegetables. So in Australia we call raiding your potato crop by grubbing around with your hand and taking a few potatoes only without ripping the whole plant up - 'bandicooting'.

Which vegetables do you use as a cut-and-come-again? What's your Top 5. Which vegetables do you 'bandicoot'?

Suburban Tomato and The New Good Life  do great and regular  Top 5 which I read each week. Pop over to theirs.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Harvest Monday - 8th October 2012

I am still harvesting a mix of winter and summer crops.

I am picking the last of my broccoli and cauliflower. I have only one head of broccoli left now - still maturing.  Most of my broccoli pick from here on will be side shoots.

I have savoy cabbages still in the bed and they will take a while longer. I am harvesting  big hands full of snow peas every second day but didn't manage to take any photos of them...

I am sneaking the tips from my new baby basil,

 the young leaves of parsley and the long stems of sticky thyme flowers.

And fresh bright beautiful baby radishes. 

Daphne's place has plenty more harvests to drool over, or will have when the earth turns a little more.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Fennel as a cut-and-come-again veg

Last year I  discovered that fennel is a cut-and-come-again plant.

What I mean is  -  there are some plants that you might normally harvest as a whole, but you can also harvest  them gradually, taking bits off as you want them. Alternatively, you can harvest them completely,  but if  you harvest them in the right way, they will come again.

Last  year I harvested a bulb of fennel by cutting it off at ground level, intending to pull the roots out at a later date. But I got lazy or forgot or something and found that the base sprouted 3 baby fennel. They grew well and strong and I harvested those three bulbs, again by cutting the bulb off at the base. That base again sprouted many many babies on the outer edge of the base.

In fact perhaps this time too many have sprouted. I broke some of these off to allow enough space for them to grow.  In the end I left 5 little plants to thicken.

 Now, again, I can think about harvesting some of the bulbs that have resulted.

The other thing I have found is that the plants tend to grow fairly quickly.  Perhaps it's because they are working off such a big root system?

I wonder how long I can keep harvesting fennel in this way?  Even in wet weather the cut roots don't seem to rot.  In fact they seem to harden off and get nice and lumpy.

I will again harvest by cutting at the base to see how long I can push my luck! One makes 3, 3 makes 5,  perhaps 7 bulbs next time from the one root mass?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Citrus and capsicum aprons

We have just had a long weekend  and much of that free Monday was spent sewing on the back balcony in the sun. It's my favourite place to sew.

Here is my produce. I made two more pinafore aprons using fruit and vegetable themed fabric.

 This one is my favourite I think.  It has lemons, limes and oranges on it and lots of citrus flowers. It has a contrasting neck piece and bias binding binds all edges.  I love the big pockets. I think this one is my favourite cause I love both citrus and green.

The other apron is of a tumble of capsicums in four different colours.

This apron is the same design with contrasting neck piece and pockets and lots of lots of bias as well.

I think these will go into my shop Cumquat. But they might end up as Christmas gifts....

I am contributing this post to My Creative Space. Take a look at what others have been creating this week.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Battling the stink bug

Hmm, the stink bug - horrible creature. A tribe of stink bugs can destroy your citrus crop pretty quickly if left alone to do its evil work!

This post may be of limited interest to those who don't have to suffer this beast as the stink bug is an Australian native pest of the warmer climes only. Lucky are those that don't have to endure it.

 It is otherwise known as the bronze orange bug, the name 'stink bug' suits it well because you can normally smell them before you can see them.

Native finger lime  'Collette' in front of one of my espaliered limes
Before Europeans brought their citrus plants to Australia, the stink bug fed on the native Finger lime.  ( Oh all the poor little Collettes!).

The baby and adolescent stink bug looks so cute and innocent, lovely green and orange respectively with that cute little spot on their back. But they suck the citrus sap from the tender tops of your citrus plants, wilt the growing tips and cause any newly forming fruit to shrivel, turn black and fall off.

Last year I lost a whole crop of Tahitian Limes to the stink bug.  In early October I had started my stink bug surveillance. My method that time was to knock them off the tree and stomp on them or cut them in half with my secateurs.  Foolishly, I set about doing this with no protection at all.  Result?  The stink bug's defence is to spray highly concentrated citric acid and the beast sprayed me in the eye.

If I said this was extremely painful it would be an understatement. Thankfully I had some water at hand and bathed my eye and headed to the optomopterist  then next day, where he declared in a sombre tone, "you are very lucky".

I then headed overseas for work armed with eye antibiotics and returned to find my lime trees totally devastated.  All new stems were black and drooping and only a few tiny fruit were left on the trees.

You just cannot let stink bugs lie, you have to do something about them.Yesterday, I needed to go into battle with something more than a pair of secateurs.

This may seem like overkill, but believe me it isn't. Chastened by last year's burnt eye ball, I knew I needed better protection. So I borrowed my lad's chainsaw mask, got a dish washing glove from the kitchen and made me deadly brew -  a mix of kerosene and water in a bucket. Wearing long sleeves I went into battle picking off the bugs one by one putting them into my mix.  It killed them instantly.

I fished them out and re-bottled the mix ready for my next attack. I will have to do this a few times to get them all.  My aim will be to get the young ones in their cute orange and green form before they turn into the huge black armour plated nightmare version. View if you have the stomach.  A warning -  this link takes you to scenes of insect sexual activity and my be offensive to some viewers.

My lovely lad said on seeing these photos, " it's hard to love some of gods creatures isn't it!"


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