Monday, 29 July 2013

Harvest Monday - 29th July '13

While it's still officially winter here, the air is warmer and the sun stronger and spring feels like it is much, much closer. My produce though still has a winter feel.

This week at Highfield I picked more beautiful caulis. I photographed them here with my tea cosy cause it looks a little like a cauli too.

I do apologise for the bizarre angle to this shot I hope it hasn't made you feel seasick!

I continue to pick and use loads and loads of parsley,

I also had the first decent parsnips - these were truly delicious, they had a creaminess to them that I have never experienced before in shop bought parsnips. This is the first year I have grown parsnips and I found them quite easy. They are small but sweet and I am pretty happy with them.

I picked quite a good amount of broccoli side shoots,

some lovely jonquils,

and a beautiful Savoy cabbage called George.

That's it from Highfield  this week. Pop over to Daphne's place to see other people's harvests for the last week. When the earth turns there will be plenty of produce to ogle.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Saturday Spotlight on Sunday: Savoy cabbage

When I am late with a day-related post like Saturday Spotlight I first fret, and then realise it is still Saturday in most of the world.

Buoyed with this realisation that temporarily banishes ODC (Obsessive Date Compulsion) and inspired by the royal events of the week, I decided to stroll the patch and report on some of my produce and contribute it to Liz's Saturday Spotlight.

This week I want to tell you about my Savoys. I think savoys are my favourite kind of cabbage. They were the first variety I ever tried to grow a few short years ago, they have a mild flavour and their crinkliness is particularly attractive.

I also like how  the surrounding leaves have a blueish tinge and yet the centre is greener.

I have always found them pretty easy to grow, producing good heads with limited attention. I can't say the same for the Red Drumheads that I am trying for the first time this year - I think they will be pretty unsuccessful.

I think they are adorable but that might be because I am their mother. Here they are all crinkly and wrinkly in their cosy surrounding leaves. My husband and I are particularly thrilled  with this specimen which I am officially going to call George. 

Here is George in his bed before he was picked.

And here is George resting on a chair after the traumatic experience of having been picked. George weighed in at just under a kg - a healthy weight for a Savoy.

Here is George in the arms of his mother. She is wearing typical farm gear, a checked woollen shirt and bushwalking trousers.

Tonight we are going to eat George with some braised lamb shanks and mashed parsnip and potato.

Pop over to Liz's blog to see other people's produce.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Monday Harvest - 22nd July '13

It's been a week of cauliflowers -  this week I have picked so many of different sizes and colours. Some tiny ones that grew in the shady places,

  and some of quite a decent size.

As well as the bountiful caulis, there has been rocket,

and celery,

and  a little broccoli - a  big side shoot.

That's it really, but it's been plenty. Plenty not to really be buying vegetables.

I am contributing this to Daphne's Harvest Monday. Click away to see plenty more pickings from around the world. They will be there when the world turns a little more.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

My broad beans go bung

I think my broad beans are bung. I may need to translate here - in Australian English, bung means, 'stuffed', 'broken', 'had it', 'bad' or another 'b' word which is also a very Australian word for broken but which some find offensive.  It's a word I love except when it might apply to my vegetables!

What's wrong? Well my entire crop of broad beans are displaying curled leaves. (Please forget/forgive the weeds, it's a consequence of using sheep manure!)

At first I thought the rolled leaves a result of a little frost bite, but then today I took a closer look. Here is a close up - the underside of the leaves seem to have a texture to them.

 I cannot see any insect pest at all.

Anyone know what the story is here? Are my broad beans bung? Do I need to destroy them? Or will they produce? Should I plough them in as a green manure?

How are your broad beans? Are they bung or just fine?

Friday, 19 July 2013

Cauliflower ears

I am up to my ears in cauliflower! Well not quite but still I do have a lot coming on.Yesterday I picked 4 beautiful cauliflowers.

Three white ones and a purple cauli. The white caulis are a 'mini ' variety, even so they are not that 'mini', they are actually quite a decent handful.

I guess I could have let it grown on a little further too, but I like my curds tight.

Here is a closer shot of the purple cauli.  I love how the colour is made up of a darker purple surrounding a lighter purple curd centre.

The chookies always enjoy the picking of a brassica - they get the leaves.

There are more cauli to come too - several more, I am sure they will be the main vegetable eaten over the next couple of weeks.  Do you have a favourite cauliflower  recipe, I think I am going to need options!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The first sign of spring

Here we are only part way through the second month of  the southern hemisphere winter and this morning the first sign of spring could be found poking thru it's oaten hay mulch.

The first spear of asparagus has arrived but I must resist the urge to cut it and steam it and dip it in olive oil and eat it.

My asparagus plants have only just gone in.
This is the first time I have tried growing asparagus. I bought 5 crowns just a few weeks ago and planted them carefully into a their bed loaded with multiple kinds of manure  - sheep, cow, horse, alpaca.

I covered the bed lightly with oaten hay that Geranium our house cow had not eaten and pretty much left the crowns to get on with it, and they have.

I wonder how many stalks each crown will produce this year? And if I am very good and don't cut any this year,  will I be rewarded with  many more stalks next year? Will the restraint be worth it to strengthen the crowns?

I am thinking that my mother (an asparagus lover), who has  until now at least, vowed not to visit us in our cold winters or in our ferocious summers, will nonetheless be tempted to visit us  in July or August next year in order to share in the first of the season's asparagus.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Harvest Monday - 15th July '13

This morning, before the rain closed in and sent me inside to sit in front of the fire, I cruised the garden for pickings. Here is the stash I picked.

Out of shot of this photo above was the first picking of the savoy cabbages. Here it is in all it's crinkliness!

For a close up view  of the produce picked today, here is the mini cauli ( in variety and size!) and some side shoots of broccoli.

Some baby leeks and celery.

A fluffy fennel top - I have plans for it and the baby leeks in a smoked salmon and fennel top and baby leek quiche.

A pile of very hairy rooted beetroots. These poor babies got their tops grazed off several times over summer by a grazing wallaby  and as such are not the best quality. I think I will pickle them.

Today's pickings join the mini wombok picked earlier in the 'harvest' week,

and another handful of broccoli side shoots.

The womboks are nearly all finished now - I have just two left to pick. But the savoys are now coming on and they will be followed by a small number of Mini cabbages - I wont be cabbage-less at all. I have really enjoyed the womboks and will definitely raise more next season.

That's the pickings for this week. Check Daphne's Dandelion's for her pickings and other harvests from around the world. 

Keep picking!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Bringing home the bacon

Some weeks ago now I reported on the pancetta I was making from the wild pigs caught on Highfield.
I also had a good deal of pork frozen in the freezer - a  gift from a neighbour. The other day I decided to thaw some out - a piece of belly I think - and try my hand at another form of pork preservation, this time bacon.

While searching for  a recipe for nitrate-free bacon ( I simply cannot buy the stuff even if I wanted to use it), I came across Food Domination and a recipe for French-style nitrate-free bacon. The author - Chef Paul does a great rant about why nitrate-free meat is a good thing that you can read if you are interested and provides his recipe. I have followed it almost exactly just amending for the fact that I had 2 kgs of meat where as he had 4 pounds and I used fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden*.

I wont repeat the recipe here cause you can see it on Paul's site. Suffice to say that the meat is cured with a combination of these herbs and spices:
  • pepper
  • bay
  • rosemary* 
  • thyme*
  • caraway seeds
  • fennel seeds
  • paprika - I used smoked paprika
  • garlic
 added to brown sugar, maple syrup and salt of course -  sounds good doesn't it?

Basically you crunch up the spices and the herbs, mix with the sugar and maple syrup and salt and rub it into the meat.

Then pop it in the fridge for 2 weeks, turning the meat each day. There is of course more to the recipe past this stage to make it into bacon or a French-style lardon, but I will report on that when I get to it. I think I am going to spend a lot more time looking at Paul's site....

In the meantime the pancetta I am making is coming along beautifully and this will also become the subject of a future post.

Have you ever made your own bacon? How did it turn out?

Monday, 8 July 2013

Harvest Monday - 8th July '13

It's been another good week for pickings and as a result, I'm hardly buying any vegetables at all.
Here's what I've been picking.

Several small beetroot,

some rocket and mint. The rocket is getting pretty close to flowering so I expect I wont have rocket for much longer. I have just put in another lot of seeds but there will be a gap now in my rocket produce.

A few good stalks of celery - this went into a Wild Pork and Celery stir-fry. There is loads of celery to pick.

Side shoots of broccoli. This is the first batch of side shoots with more on the way.

The purple cauliflower I have been waiting for. Disappointingly it turned green when steamed. And three bulbs of fennel.

Parsnips - some mutant, some not but all pretty small.

There was also a wombok and some spring onions but these  missed getting snapped. How are your pickings?

I am contributing this to Daphne's Harvest Monday. When the earth turns a little more you can see loads of produce on her site.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Herd Community

Our first little herd of sheep have arrived, they are 38 Dorper ewes in-lamb and we are very excited to be starting our first little farming enterprise - raising great prime lambs.

Dorpers are a South African breed of sheep. They  have come from  Black-headed Persian sheep and Dorset horn sheep and together their names form the name of the breed 'Dorper'. They are tough and hardy and suited to the harsher landscapes that Australia has in bucket loads. They should do well on our 'unimproved' native grass pastures, hilly landscapes and scorching summers. We hope to do our best by them.

They have a tendency to shed their fleece and do not require shearing. Some of them shed better than others - some have little remnant  woolly rugs on their backs.

There are some twins brewing here...
A new Highfield past-time is emerging. It consists of pulling up a chair and watching the girls graze (or waiting for them to pass before us). It's a very peaceful activity somehow deeply satisfying.

Shepherd stations
Shepherd at work

Sooner than we know and possibly sooner than we are ready, it will be lambing time. We are looking forward to it and are slightly trepidacious at the same time.

It occurred to me that this must be an ancient practice watching ones' herbivores graze - one that is buried deep in our mutual evolutionary history?

Humans and herbivores have been together for a very, very  long time. Perhaps as with our history with dogs and horses, we have co-evolved with herbivores such as sheep, goats and cattle.

I intend to keep up the association between human and herbivore, shepherd and sheep.

Our Dorper ladies have come from  the  extremely helpful and knowledgeable Nicola and Harry at Alpine Dorpers. They are in a similar climate to us, up in the outstandingly beautiful ranges around Mt Buffalo  in NE Victoria. Thanks Nicola and Harry for all your help.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Saturday Spotlight - Florence fennel

I have only relatively recently come to love fennel. I guess as a kid it was never part of my diet, indeed, it was never seen in the green grocers.  But gradually over time and I guess because of welcome Italian influence to Australia, fennel has come into my life and into my vegetable garden. It is now a regular plant in the patch.

I've been harvesting a few lately, mostly as quite young bulbs - welcome additions to winter meals.

I find them very easy to grow. I grow them from seed planted directly into the patch and find that they come out of the ground pretty easily.

Early on in their growth, I do find that they need a little support by gently mounding a little soil up so that the thicker bit if the stem - the bit that will eventually be your bulb - sits just on top of the soil with any lower stalk covered up.

I find them very hardy too tolerating  both hot and dry summers and cold winters but if you can spare water in summer, the more water, the thicker and juicier the bulbs.

I harvest bulbs both at a slim 'baby' stage and at a fat 'mature' stage.When I harvest them, I cut them off their root at soil level.

After a little while, new baby  fennel plants start developing on the outer edge of the cut root.

Here is one I cut a few weeks ago now - 5 new little fennel are sprouting - I will remove some so there is room for the others to grow.

I love fennel with fish and pork, bacon and potato, with fennel seeds and tomatoes and in salads with lemon juice and olive oil.

I am contributing this to Liz's Saturday Spotlight. Take a look at her blog to see what produce others are spotlighting.


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