Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thursday Garden Gobbles - Peaches and Saladings

Today I  gathered rocket, chives, parsley,  lollo rosso lettuce, beetroot leaves and peaches from the garden,

added bocconchini mozzarella (un-photographed) and a pomegranate molasses, olive oil and lemon juice dressing and made a Peach, Mozzarella and Rocket salad.

We ate it with a very good locallly raised beef Scotch fillet steak and roasted mini potatoes, garlic cloves and shallots. Yum.

A beautiful sunset accompanied dinner.

I am contributing this as part of Veggie Gobbler's Thursday Garden Gobbles. Gobble on everyone. Thanks VG.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Old citrus and new

Those who know of my Sydney garden via this blog will know that I am in mourning, in mourning for my fabulous citrus trees that I had to leave behind. My Sydney garden had a large lemon tree that kept us supplied year round and two wonderful espaliered Tahitian Limes. When we left Sydney for our bush life, the only citrus I could take with me was my finger lime, Colette, who was in a big pot.

So what's the citrus situation at the new patch?

First my 'old' citrus, Colette (that's her variety) the finger lime. After many false starts where flowers appeared and fruit set but soon fell off, I finally have fruit that has stayed on and swelled.

There are about 8 fruit forming now, there would have been 9 but the wallaby ate one (yeah, yeah, the dog ate my homework... but it's true, it's true!).

Finger limes are Australian natives and are typically under-story shrubs in the rainforested areas of northern NSW and further north.  They come in all sorts of wonderful colours, Colette has dark green to black skin with lime green citrus bubbles inside. I can't wait till these fruit are ready to pick.

My biggest worry with Colette is that she is totally unsuited to our climate which is a Mediterranean climate with frosts through winter (I need to get a frost cloth or keep her on the verandah when it gets cold).

And my new citrus? Well, I have only just started buying the plants I want to put in but here are my first three new citrus babies.

This is a Minneola Tangelo. Tangelos are a cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit.  Fancy that, been buying the fruit for years and never knew that. This kind of tangelo has a 'neck' to the top of the fruit which gives them quite a distinctive look.

Apparently they are more cold tolerant than grapefruit but they are not frost tolerant... hmmm, maybe I have made a mistake in buying this one?   However others living around the area  all say that they grow citrus of many sorts successfully apparently once they are established they don't 'feel the cold', so the trick appears to be nursing them through the first few winters.

They do need long hot summers to allow the fruit to ripen  and we certainly have those. They have about the same drought tolerance as oranges which is quite high.

Underneath the bagged baby citrus is some of my rocket crop.

This is a  Seedless Valencia Orange.
Apparently they are later fruiting than many oranges but otherwise similar to Valencias.

Oranges of all sorts can cope with really hot temps over summer (we can provide that!), but vary in their cold tolerance.

Tucked underneath and also in pots are two blueberries, a comfrey plant and in the ground a baby Drum head red cabbage.

And my third baby new citrus is an Imperial Mandarin. Here she is standing imperially in her bag over the Drum head red cabbages and the tiny recently emerged sugar snap pea babies. It has much thinner leaves than the other two citrus.

Apparently mandarins tolerate the cold a lot better than oranges, apparently Ellendale is the most frost-tolerant and I might go on the hunt for that variety too.

I have been waiting for the weather to cool down a little before putting them into the ground, but am really confused about where to put them. Citrus will do better when warmed by a north-facing wall so I might wait until some of our sheds are installed, or I could tuck them around the protection of the peach trees...

Anyone out there have experience of growing citrus in frosty areas? Any advice?  Do you use frost cloths or  do the food forest type of thing to protect them? Do you load them with seaweed solutions?

And when it comes to lemons, which variety from your experience is most frost -tolerant?  I have heard conflicting accounts that Eureka is best or that Meyer is best.

Hoping that your citrus are doing well.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Zucchini Tuesday - Best in Show

Being singularly inept at  my own zucchini cultivation this year, I decided to see how it should be done by visiting the zucchini exhibit at the Gundagai Show.

I know you are eagerly awaiting the results, but first the category for judging - Three Zucchini, not over 18cm (I am loving the length stipulation lest people bring in their  forgotten club-like fruit). Entrants pay a $0.50c entry fee and the prize - $3.00 for the winner and $1.00 for second prize winner.

There were 9 exhibits submitted and all but one of the exhibits were dark green skinned zucchinis. The exception was a mottled skinned zucchini. And here are the prize winners.

Mr Patrick Daley has bragging rites and is $3.00 richer.

Now I am not wanting to be critical of the judges but lets face it, when we go to the show we always sit in judgement don't we? So here I go with my own expert comments -  I am a little disappointed by the scratched skin and the less than straight third zucchini.

And here is the second prize winner -  D&D Bell.

Again I am disappointed by the skin of the zucchini and the less than careful trim of the cut end... poor presentation I feel.

Here is the only 'coloured' zucchini submission, just so you can get a sense of  some of the rest of the class.

I can't help thinking that some of you in blog land - yes you Bek and Liz and Jen and many others, should try your hand at a regional agricultural show. From your harvests I can see that you would be very competitive in a 3 zucchini under 18cms class.

Just in case you wanted to try your hand, here is the schedule of  the vegetable competition from the 2013 show, to get you preparing  ahead.

Until next week -  love your zucchini.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Wildlife watching

Following on from yesterday's post  about our fruit raiding wallaby, I thought you might like to see some of the other wildlife at Highfield that we have spotted recently,  mostly from the comfort of our front verandah. Apologies, some of the photos are just a little blurry.

This very dusty wombat was spotted while we were eating breakfast. As a nocturnal beast he was obviously  up very late putting in a few finishing touches to his new burrow. What a dusty bum!

If you look very closely, you can see a possum staring at you from it's tree hollow high up a white box tree.

This possum was spotted by the Lad somewhat incredibly from the ground. He thought he could see a face in a tree hollow and wondered if it was an interesting feature of the tree hollow.  No, it was a possum! Well spotted, an elephant stamp should be issued.

I love how it has its big ear and eye ideally positioned to hear and see outside its hole.  If you look closely, you can also see its whiskers as well.

This very spikey dragon was lounging on a big log soaking up the sun. We have noticed that these dragons adjust their colour a little to suit the environment.  I have seen them with splashes of yellow to match a yellow lichen.

A pair of beautiful bee eaters.

A hooded robin parent supervising  baby taking a bath.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Gardener meets Peach pincher

Our peach pincher, parsley pecking, chive chomping, beetroot biting, spring onion stealing, rose ripping wallaby now visits during the daylight hours as well as at night giving us the opportunity to take a portrait shot or two. Here is  our native neighbour who is as fond of eating from our garden as we are...

I am calling him Old half-ear. He is an old male Swamp Wallaby who has obviously come off second best in a fight or two. We have noticed him on our walks into the Nature Reserve next door, he is always alone and never seems afraid, he has seen it all I suspect.

As well as his tattered ears he has a big scar on his back and lumps and bumps on his tail but I think a proud stance. The fence line provides no barrier, he hops right through.

I am ok sharing my peaches with him now, I have more than I can eat and use anyway. It is possible that, as this property has been vacant for a good while, he has been eating the peaches here for years. Old half-ear may be cross with having to share his peaches with us?

He can no longer get into the vegetable patch - thank goodness, the beetroot are now all our own!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Fruit pies

Long time no blog, not even a Zucchini Tuesday, I have been busy.  I have been away from hearth and internet doing courses on being a farmer, grazing cattle, keeping chooks and  building soil and have come back with my head swirling and full of ideas (and just think, some of my workmates thought that I'd be bored here).

On my way home I couldn't resist a little gleaning. Whizzing down the Hume I saw many trees laden with fruit, very few of them with a handy spot to stop close by. But on the Sydney side of Goulburn there was a perfect spot for gleaning. There were two apple trees dotted with rosy fruit near a handy layby so in no time at all I had collected a large basket full.

On arriving home I found that we had 4 enormous bowls of peaches waiting for me. Beautiful orange skinned ones  -  all cling stone and with very little blush. Despite nightly wallaby raids, there was still ample fruit for the wallaby and us.

My immediate thought on dealing with the glut? Fruit pies, so I got skinning the peaches and stewing them,

and stewing the apples, and with the assistance of the Lad's masterful pastry hands I had made 12 beautiful fruit pies - 6 peach pies with stars,

and 6 apple pies with flowers.

They have a rich shortcrust on the bottom and flaky on top. They are pretty good...

Now my problem is, how to eat them all.

Oh and now the Wallaby visits in daylight hour as well as in the evening. He is quite an old male wallaby with tattered ears and a fat tummy!

So that's 2 of the 4 bowls full of peaches dispatched, not sure what to do with the remainder. You can't eat that many peaches fresh.... I have lots of jam put away already and don't need any more and I have already a stash stewed in the freezer for winter eating and a jars of peach chutney -  any suggestions?

And I also have 3/4 of a basket of apples  to dispatch!

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Thursday Garden Gobbles - Peaches

Veggie Gobbler has started a new theme for Thursdays - Garden Gobbles. As the only glut I have at present is a peach glut this Garden Gobble features two dishes using peaches that I cooked this week. (It is possible that every Garden Gobble will feature peaches at this rate!).

Peach and almond muffins (*from the garden or thereabouts)
1 1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup  shredded coconut
pumpkin pie spices
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
75 gms butter
*1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
*2/3 cup of peeled and stoned peaches

For the topping
*Three pieces of peach for each muffin
Slivered almond pieces
Mix of pumpkin pie spice and raw sugar

*I have included the  honey as a garden product. It resulted from hives that were put on the neighbouring property  but just down the track from us. Given that we have lots and lots of trees, it's my bet that in part at least, this honey came from our Red Box tree flowers.

The recipe made 9 muffins, I ate one before I took the photo. They are pretty yummy but quite grown up in flavour. They do have an almondy taste (which I love) and are not very sweet.

Peach chutney (from the garden)
*8 peaches, peeled and stoned
8 tomatoes, peeled
2 capsicums (1 red, 1 green)
*1 long cayenne chilli
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
a nob of ginger grated
10 black pepper corns
10 white pepper corns
3 tsp black mustard seeds

This long cayenne was grown in my former city garden and kept in my frozen chilli stash
Cut fruit and veg up into chunks, add all ingredients into a saucepan and cook until it has thickened into a jammy thick sauce. Put into sterilised jars.

This quantity made 4 jars of chutney. I have tasted it, its a unique sharp and sweet chutney. I reckon it will be perfect with a really tasty cheese and a biscuit. I love the colours!

Pop over to Veggie Gobbler to see what others have contributed to Garden Gobbles.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Year of the snake - Day of the snake

So much to post on, so few days! I would have posted on this the day it occurred - Sunday 10th Feb -  which also happened to be the first day of the Chinese New Year and the first day of the Year of the Snake, but I had already posted by the time this happened.

I would have posted the day after - Monday  11th - but that was Harvest Monday and I had something to show for myself and I would have posted on Tuesday 12th, but that was Zucchini Tuesday. So in case you are not sick of me posting every day, here is my Chinese New Year post - you see we had our very own Snakey Day for the first day of the Year of the Snake.

I first came across the snake - a red-belly black snake - when I was heading for the mint bed to pick some for a pistachio lamb kebab.

A good third of the snake's length was slipping over the top of the mint bed and up onto the pier of the house. I wasn't really expecting to see it there, right where I was about to plunge my hand to pick mint, so I can tell you honestly a let out quite a whelp!

I can only assume that the snake was similarly surprised to see me because it spent the next good while hiding from us under the house. The snake decided it especially liked being under the front stairs - comforting for the snake perhaps but not for us.

Shaken (and stirred) I decided to stay inside while my heart rate returned to normal. Instead the Lad kitted up (long pants, boots, mini gaiters and long stick in case) and went on snake vigil. He basically wanted to make sure we knew where it went and we hoped that it would move away from the house, but it didn't for a very long time.

Instead - twice, it decided that it would try to climb the stairs to the verandah.

Not wanting to hurt the snake, or worse anger it so much that it would strike, but also not wanting to share the verandah with it either, the Lad did some vigorous tapping of the steps with his long stick and deterred it from further ascending, phew!

But when it did head off it took its exit thru my now Wallaby-proof vegetable patch slipping over the rocket and parsnip bed and over the Minnesota Midget rock melon. It was amazing to see how if slipped thru the plastic mesh that looked much smaller than the diameter of the snake.

The snake disappeared into a crevice in a eucalypt close to the house. We hope that isn't its permanent home.

Incidentally, my snake-charming husband is actually born in the Year of the Snake, its true!

Now I am decidedly realistic person and not at all drawn to horoscopes whether Occidental or Oriental, but (oh right, here she goes, she just said she wasn't into these things!), I hope seeing a snake on the first day of the Year of the Snake is auspicious. Perhaps doubly so for the Lad? One can hope, it would be some compensation for the fright.

After promising each other not to leave the verandah without suitable boots and trousers, I kitted up the next morning on a peach picking round and, there it lay, just under the outdoor table and chair setting. A little vigorous shouting at it telling it it wasn't welcome resulted in the snake heading off into the grass metres from the front of the house.

Obviously the snake defence devices that I bought just don't work.

A belated Happy Chinese New Year everyone and may your house be snake proof, unless of course the snake happens to be your loved one!

Gong xi fa cai!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Zucchini Tuesday - Pancake Tuesday

Today is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent and traditionally the day to both confess and to eat up all the rich food in your cupboard before fasting, at least that's what Wikipedia says. So naturally today I am using a zucchini to make a pancake and, to eat up the rich foods in my cupboard, I am adding bacon and avocado.

Where is the confession bit you ask? Well I don't think I should turn this blog into a confessional, so I will limit my small confession to the topic. So here it is - this recipe is not my own creative invention, I got the recipe from a website and provide the link below as well as my version. It seemed like just the right meal for the day. (Phew, feel better already after having confessed!)

Zucchini pancakes with avocado and bacon (* from the garden)

1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
*1 zucchini grated
3 bacon rashers
*cherry tomatoes
1 avocado
* basil leaves
1/2 red onion
1 clove garlic
balsamic vinegar

Make a batter with the flour, baking powder egg and buttermilk. Add  grated zucchini. Cook the pancakes and keep pancakes aside in a warm place. Cook bacon and keep aside.With the remaining ingredients, prepare a chunky salad. Assemble with pancake on bottom topped with bacon and salad.

I enjoyed this. It was light and fresh and could lend itself to many other flavour combinations.

Anyone else got a good pancake recipe that includes a zucchini? Did you make a zucchini pancake recipe today? If so tell all (but leave out the confessional). I have made plenty of fritters before with my zucchinis, a particularly nice one with dill and a fetta dipping sauce, but this is my first venture into zucchini pancakes.

What's happening with your zucchini?

Until next Tuesday - love your zucchini.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Harvest Monday - 11th Feb 2013

The peach harvest has started in earnest. This morning I picked a small basket full of blushing, fragrant beauties.

They came off two different trees - one of the trees produces much smaller fruit than the other but both are delicious.

The smaller peach is a cling stone and the larger one a free stone. I don't know what variety they are at all.
Until now I have been eating 3 or 4 peaches a day, with this pick, I am going to need to find some peach recipes and get preserving.

My other pickings are still meagre.

This is the last of the tomatoes. The constant heat meant that the tomato plants just dried up. The fruit however because of the heat  had such a concentrated flavour. The chilli plants still produce.

My stash of mature spring onions is nearing its end now, more are just striplings having only recently germinated. These ones are so white because of the very deep mulch I have been applying.

There have been a few cucumbers to pick thru the week, every salad features cucumber at the moment. I wish I had enough to preserve as bread and butter cucumbers but the heat and the Wallaby has knocked the plants around a little too much.

I have also picked lots of mint and some oregano but I didn't take any photos...

I am contributing this to Daphne's Harvest Monday. Join her for pictures of lots more produce.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...