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Tuesday, February 2, 2016


The kitchen has arrived just in time for 

This is a very old white peach tree and it hasn't had much loving for the past many years. The lack of pruning has made the tree lanky and weak limbed, especially laden as it is in high winds. I love a white peach variety but this season the fruit flavour is average. I'm sure with some proper feeding and pruning next years' crop will be outstanding. 

You can see why we bought this size oven. Both pots going at the same time, no problem!
The white peach is a free stone variety and tends to go a bit soft with the preserving but the flavour is great. No need to peel the skin of this variety, just a good wash. Remember, peaches don't ripen after picking so only select ripe fruit from the tree. Remove them with a gentle sideways twist.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Finally A Kitchen

Finally, after six months, the kitchen is IN!

We hadn't planned to rip the previous kitchen out but the damage from a dozen cats was way more than we had realised. I have spared you a lot of the graphic photos but a couple of before shots help to realise the "journey". Even every power point has had to be replaced as they were wet and yellow inside. We couldn't even save a hinge as they were all rusted. On the left, is the back of the built in oven and cooktop. In order to remediate we had no choice but to rip out what we could, and that included the plaster and architraves, skirtings....everything. The floors were scrubbed at least 15 times with a special solution to destroy the protein molecules. After thoroughly drying, the areas were coated with a special shellac based primer, Bin Zinser to further seal. The walls re-plastered. There are no short cuts and if you have a similar problem then do lots of research as mis-treatment could mean you actually set the protein rather than destroy it.

But lets look at some prettier pictures as we leave the past behind....
A lovely big set of shelves built in to my island bench. So handy for the cookbooks. The island has a bank of drawers either side for extra storage and is a great central working area, perfect for rolling out pizza doughs on Friday nights.

Overhead glass front cabinets reflect light and add lightness. If money had been no object I would have lit the cabinets but that would have been an extravagance and we can live without it. First world problems and all that....!

Again, like our previous home, I've chosen to keep to a classic palate of black and white which can be dressed in so many different ways as styles and tastes change. I'm adding warm copper and natural wood accents for our Georgian cottage.

For quick easy cleaning I have chosen knobs and pulls instead of the D/C-shaped handles. These are by Castella from the antique range and so much more robust and ergonomic than other ranges I looked at.

Just two handles short! But they'll be here on Thursday along with extra pantry shelves that I have ordered in order to maximise the storage space as there is very little in the cottage.

It looks a little white on white but I do love light, especially through our dark long winters. 
The kitchen has been built by Jason Phillips 

The walls are painted in "Hog-bristle" half strength, so not really white but a good light neutral background with warmth rather than cool blue tones.

The tiling is yet to be done, the architraves and skirtings fitted. The floor for now will be painted white until we can afford a timber floor...
But we are IN!
We have unpacked another swathe of boxes and I can again look at recipes and plan preserving. Just in the nick of time as the tomatoes will soon be ripening.
One last piece of advice;
many well meaning friends will tell you that once you "air the place out and paint" it will be fine. Not so. Unless you break the protein molecule you will never get rid of the smell. Air does not destroy it and paint does not cover it. Essential oils and perfumes also will not rid the smell, they merely compete with it. it is very hard yukky work but it can be done. I do think cement style products are the most challenging though and our battle continues at the front door step.

For cat pee remediation I suggest you start

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

BBQ Apricots with Fetta and Mint

Slight hic-cup with the kitchen and it won't be going in today but that's OK, it's been six months so another few days won't matter. We have relied heavily on the BBQ for most of our meals, especially breakfasts.

Apricots are ripe now and there is another glut to add to the zucchini! 
For breakfast we are having zucchini fritters with spring onion and basil (not too much) from the garden and I'm sure you know how to make these or if not type "fritter" into the search box at the side and I'm sure another post will give a method and recipe.

As for the apricots, simply cut in half and pop a wedge of feta in the indent where the stone was and add a little finely chopped mint. I am cooking them in some coconut oil on the BBQ on a med-high heat. After a few minutes, turn gently and cook for slightly less time than the first side. Use a spatula to remove, neatly keeping all the feta yumminess intact.

The apricots are soft and sort of jammy and a perfect summer accompaniment for the fritters. Love this for breakfast but of course it would be suitable for any meal or BBQ  entertaining. Feta is a very handy ingredient in the fridge and makes many a meal special. It seems to go with just about anything!

And don't stop there, take them cold for lunch as well!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Six More Sleeps

This time next week I hope to have most of a kitchen and do you know what I miss the most?
A sink!
We have been managing these past five months between the BBQ, thermomix, slow cooker and small bench top oven that I got at a garage sale but with tomato preserving time just around the corner the oven needs to be installed pretty damn soon!

Tonight we are having slow cooked chicken legs with orange juice, soy, garlic, onion, a tiny couple of drops of sesame oil 

and Western Australian honey, a special gift from Kylie.
She is an interiors/styling/architecture blogger though she is not writing very much at the moment, you can still find a good read through her archives at 
We almost met when she was here for a whirlwind holiday in Tasmania last spring. Face to face or not, she is a dear friend and I'm richer for having our shared experiences.

Spring onions are coming thick and fast in the garden so I am using their plump batons to keep the chicken off the bottom and these will cook on  slow for about 8 hours. In the last hour I will add some zucchini, also in glut!

I always finely chop the tops and pop into the freezer, making them a very easy and brilliant addition to stock, soups, sauces, omelettes etc. I use them straight from the freezer into my cooking and have them all through the out of season time.

We kidnapped the MIL for a few days and teased my SIL sending her photos pretending we were spending all her inheritance! Shortly I hope to really give this a good workout. I wasn't really intending to buy one this big but all the large hot plates/burners are situated in the front now and I felt that was too dangerous for my big preserving pots so chose this one with a central wok burner. The upside is I'll be able to fit four roasting trays in the oven when I'm doing tomato paste. I'm sad that doors don't pull down and slide under anymore but I suppose that has been for a safety reason.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Perfect In-betweens

It's unlikely you will find these cherry plums at your local store but you may find them at a growers market or more probably a friends tree. They are ripening now (just after the height of cherry season but before the plum season, how perfect) and the best flavour is gained from one ripened on the tree and eaten at room temperature and no two are the same. Some taste of vanilla and some of rosewater and some pure classic "plum". This variety is from a green leafed tree and quite sweet unlike my experiences with the purple leafed variety of cherry plums that I find a bit tart. They are perfect for lunch boxes and in between snacks but mostly I pluck as I wander the garden and I share the windfall with the chooks and even Bella dog likes a few de-seeded ones. We have had children visit and fill their T-shirts and what a perfect memory of summer that is.
This style of plum is not great for chutneys or the like as the seeds are too hard to remove without sacrificing precious flesh and are best eaten with passion and seed spitting. I will not attempt to preserve these, this is one of those times to embrace the season and the glut and simply enjoy the fruit in it's perfect abundance.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - A Retrospective

"Come quick dear friends, I am drinking the stars"
                                                                                Dom Perignon 

The year did not go at all how I planned. I was going to slow down and have less commitments but maybe that was my guardian angel preparing a clear path for our major life change this year.

I didn't entirely let go of the Living Better With Less group but I am more of an active organiser with lots of others as the group members have also stepped in to organise and plan too. I did a radio interview with ABC Tas about our group and we had an "expo" at the Fiesta on George back in October. A big highlight for me was meeting Steve Solomon and his garden (here)

The group also got to forage for olives earlier in the year, had a guest speaker about cheese making, learnt how to make soap and deodorant and dabbled in gardening by the lunar cycle and much more.

The volunteer/fundraising focus was firmly on Kidney Health this year with with the Big Red Walk, two fashion parades and a garden tea party and dialysis group luncheons. There are so many good people in the community all working away quietly and I would like to recognise them and thank them for all they do and providing us the opportunity to help.

Julien turned one and has attended his first shearing lesson.

I organised another knitting tour, this time we toured the north west of Tasmania and visited the Tasmania Weavers Spinners and Dyers Guild.

But our biggest and all consuming project for the year has been the move and renovation of our new home. To be honest, if we were 10 years older, we wouldn't have been able to do it. It's not about the money, it's about the sheer physical requirements and mental fortitude that this job has required. We still continue to scrub and still there is no kitchen but we have no regrets and are loving life. Again, thanks to the dear friends who helped and gave us positive messages of encouragement.

We've really enjoyed the opportunity to start another garden and already I can see the design being as fluid and changeable as our old one as we learn to garden in another climate zone.

Next year I believe we will complete the inside and have all rooms functioning at the very least and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't have a poly-tunnel or glass house of some sort so we can grow citrus as winter temps typically drop to -5C here and sometimes a smattering of snow!

So onwards dear friends, the only thing that can stop you achieving your goals is lack of heart and imagination. Find a moment in every day, no matter how small, to say " doesn't get any better than this" and you'll lose count of your blessings.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas on the Harbour

Still having no kitchen in sight, eldest daughter invited us to Christmas in Hobart with breathtaking views from the heights of Bellerive. It was magical but also the hottest Christmas I have ever had in Tasmania - 36C (96.8F)

I managed to prep all of my two dishes using a small (and I do mean small)bench top oven and the thermomix. I elected to do a rolled roast loin of pork and a hazelnut meringue from the Christmas 2015 issue of Australian Country Style magazine (their photo on the left as I failed to get one simply because it was all about enjoying the moment let's face it). The recipe in the magazine is on page 82 and called Slow Cooked Pork Loin Stuffed With Pistachio and Pickled Raspberries but my version used black currants instead as they are what we are picking from the garden at the  moment. The beauty of pork is that it lends itself so well to a great variety of fruits; apricot, prunes, pear, apple and certainly black currants, in fact I think the black currants offer a better robust choice over the raspberries.

The black currants were soaked in balsamic vinegar for 24hrs and then strained reserving the black currants for the stuffing mix. A couple of tablespoons of brown sugar were added to the vinegar and then it was simmered down to a syrupy reduction for glazing. 

The stuffing is a combination of torn breadcrumbs drizzled with butter and roasted to golden combined with slow sweated chopped onion and mixed with chopped bacon and pistachios for lovely nutty crunch and tangy black currants.

After stuffing and tying the loin it was placed on quartered red onions to keep it off the bottom of the pan and white wine added and some water which later goes on to become a final sauce with the addition of some left over glaze. 

The recipe was a bit involved but it is worth buying a back issue just for this recipe alone if you missed a copy but you'll definitely want it for the Roasted Hazelnut Meringue with Boozy Cream and Berries.

Again, the black currants were king in this recipe too and so under-rated by folks who just want to add lots of sugar to them and turn them into jams or cordials.

There is no better way to top off a special but somewhat weighty meal than with a light meringue and fresh fruit and this version is like eating Ferrero Rocher and all the best fruits of summer.

The roasted hazelnuts were divine and a zesting of lime rind, exquisite. So easy but big impact among your guests. Above right is the version from the magazine.

Teddy stuffed a turkey and put a whole orange in the cavity that infused a wonderful subtle citrus flavour into the meat (and oh that view of the harbour as we cooked and dined!)

Every window was open and cross current breezes captured and chased in each room. The sky brilliant blue and the water reflecting the same. Our setting, red and gold.

Our glassware the Ritzenhoff Champus that I have been collecting for her each year for the past 12 or so years. They are individually designed by different designers and I stuck to a gold theme which has come together into a lovely and practical collection. We drank soda water most of the day for it was even too hot for champagne!

You can get a digital download of the Christmas 2015 issue here for just a couple of dollars. I am not affiliated in any way or receive kick backs, I just include the link because it is a bit hard to find and I found it to be a particularly good issue with interesting stories and great recipes. 


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