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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Ta-may-toe" "Too-mar-toe"

This is how I garden....
The rhododendrons are waning. The white (Fragrantissimum) is very special to me with it's rich heady fragrance that wraps around my head as I enter the fowl yard early morning and at late evening.
This is where I will wind my fairy garden for the grandchildren.

Sweet pea has come up through the rocket and now both are flowering profusely together

The ornamental kale was a big hit with the snails, I only have three left.

At the back door geranium hugs the warm bricks and jumbles together is pyrethrum, sage, common time, and potato.

Clematis are my favourites and a running joke in our household. 
Before I discovered a spot for them surrounded by wire, Craig used to whipper-snip them to the ground, every year, just as they were emerging again from the previous years caning. One of them I couldn't remember what the flower looked like because I hadn't seen it in five years! It finally got a chance to safely bloom this year.

The old post box is waiting for letters to the fairies of the garden, either side is a riot of raspberry or potatoes (blue sapphire) with chives bordering the front. A horses skull crouches behind like a tiger....

This is how I garden....
haphazard, eclectic and with a nod to the past and the future, to the animals and the fairies.

This is how Craig gardens....


Lettuce seedlings
neat blocks and rows.

A block of NZ yams and successive carrot sowing

Successive carrot and rows of beetroot
lots of stick markers
tidy edges

Rows of Cavolo Nero kale and spinach next to that...

Stakes, markers, sticks, string, uniformity and regularity and mounding.

He says "ta-may-toe" I say "too-mar-toe"
There is a lot of love and passion in our garden and though it may take different forms we do work better as a team. The garden would lack something if it were only either one of us, but with the two of us contributing together we have heart and soul.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Salads Have Seasons

I know many of you are food growers and many more of you are more than competent cooks but there are some people who still feel very constrained about a green salad. I meet at least a couple of them every market day. One lady stood in front of two of my huge full baskets of mixed lettuce leaf and asked me if I had any lettuce. I knew she had meant to say she was looking for an iceberg lettuce so I directed her to the shop across the street because you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink.

There are others though whom I meet at the market who are embracing some new foods like rat tail radishes and garlic scape and using flower heads like chives, calendula and borage.
Sadly even my own mother said to me just last month "I can't have a salad without tomato"
Well yes you can, especially if they are not in season.

One of my favourite ways with a salad at this time of year is mixed leaf of young spinach, beet leaves and the last of the Asian green leaf with very lightly steamed potato dumped hot onto the leaves with a dollop of natural yoghurt and a spoon of mustard and left to cool and ever so slightly wilt the leaves.
Or like the salad above foraged from the garden; a couple of baby beets, some baby blue sapphire potatoes, a carrot, a few asparagus spears, all lightly steamed and then added to leaves with chopped garlic scape, raw young peas and wilted beet leaves.
It's still a salad.

How about a bowl of loose lettuce leaf (butter, curly, lollo and red coral) with Asian green flower heads, delicious chive petals, wilted beet stems, chopped rat tail radishes and two sliced eggs ready for a simple dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

This is a salad too.
No iceberg, no tomatoes and no cucumbers ready yet either.
There is so much more excitement to be had from your food. It is important for your body to get many nutrients and it is also important to have bitters and raw greens in our diet that stimulate digestive action from the moment your tongue tastes it.
There is no need for heavy seasoning when you are sprinkling chopped garlic scape or chive flowers and there is a whole other world out there when you start adding some fresh herbs too. When the scape is gone and the chive heads are finished, it will be the season of basil. 

So when you come across a growers stall, open your mind and adjust your thinking from the classic supermarket shop and embrace the seasons as they ebb and flow offering new and exciting taste combinations. Be guided by your growers and what's in the garden now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elderflower Cordial

There really is a cordial for all seasons.
Now is the time of the Elderflower. Large heads of tiny white flowers are blooming now.
 Elderflower cordial is like drinking flowers. It is like taking Spring into your body.
It reminds me of fairies and Shakespeare's "Midsummer Nights' Dream"

The most potent blooms are the ones half in bud and half blossomed, they'll be quite fresh.
Don't harvest every bloom as you want to save some for forming into berries for later in the season.

To make about 6lt:
Harvest about 50-60 heads. Shake them gently to remove insects.
Remove most of the stem and place in a large vessel.
Add the zest of about 9 lemons
Pour over 4.5 lt of boiling water and allow to steep overnight.
Strain through a muslin lined strainer into a large pot and add the juice from the zested lemons (about 450ml) and add 3 heaped tsp of citric acid.
Add 3 kg of sugar and stir over a gentle heat till dissolved.
Gently heat till the cordial comes to 70 C. Don't be tempted to rush this step and use high heat because you want to maintain a beautiful golden colour.
While the cordial is heating, place thoroughly cleaned bottles into the oven at 150C and allow to heat for about 10 min to sterilise.
Once the cordial has come to temperature, bottle into the warm sterilised bottles and seal.
This will keep for many months if you can make it last that long.
Once opened store in the refrigerator.
Serve on warm spring nights and hot summer days with ice and sparkling water.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Dishwasher/Hand Wash

This is my new cutlery draining basket.
It's from my dishwasher, now defunct after a mere five years, with a "notorious for that model" circuitry defect. It's had very light use as there is only the two of us extending to entertaining once a week I guess but really it all still looks brand new.
This is the stuff of "Planned Obsolescence" in consumer product.
It's too expensive to replace the electronics and better to buy another one apparently.

This is now my new "under the bed rolling rack/basket storage unit"
It's like brand new too.
So is the metal cabinet that houses the whole dishwasher.
But all that is junk now. I could take the metal to the scrap metal guy for recycling but there is still a lot of pieces that are just landfill.
I don't know that in all conscience I can keep buying stuff that is purposely built to fail within a few years so we buy more stuff.

This blog recently posted a lengthy analysis here at Growing Things and Making Things about hand washing vs dishwashers. My hands have become quite roughened and dry with the extra water. Craig said he was missing the dishwasher, but yesterday he told his mother that he didn't really mind not having it (and I mouthed to her "because he hardly ever has to wash up")
I do miss it for jar and bottle washing but I always had hand washing every day anyway.

So I find myself wondering if I will "do a Rhonda" like here, and just pull it out and make a little curtain over the cavity and use it for potato and onion storage instead?
I think to myself, if we were a large family then I think we would need a dishwasher, but then I remember we once were a large family and washing up was what we all took turns in. It was an opportunity for camaraderie between siblings who didn't spend much one on one time with each other. Everyone did it differently, some haphazardly spilling lots of water, some slow but it taught patience and team work. I have lots of memories of my different brothers foibles washing up.

Do you know why people think they need dishwashers? The old "Time" gets trotted out again here. But do they really save you lots of magic time? I'm not so sure of that. I'm not convinced we are as time poor as we make ourselves out to be. I think dishwashers are a part of the whole breakdown in family time schedules. Once upon a time, everyone ate together, including breakfast. There was no parade of plates, bowls, cutlery at any old time of day. Having a dishwasher aids and abets the haphazard schedules and negates the need for people to be with each other.

I do like the way a dishwasher can hide the mess till I'm ready to deal with it. I like the way I can shove everything in quickly when visitors are coming and give the impression of ease and elegance (heaven forbid anyone should find out that my life is not the mirror image of Home and Garden) and I do think it saves my hands and paper thin fingernails that keep shredding and desiccating. But is this enough reason to buy another one. Without any calculations of soap or electricity or water, forget all that, just purely for the fact of it physically sitting in my kitchen, it cost $160/year ($800 machine over 5 years). 

I'm not preaching one way or the other for anyone else's household but it's been a month now and I'm still not inclined to go shopping for another. Never say never though hey!
And if you want another dishwashing story then here is my all time favourite post by Calamity Jane on the Apron Stringz Blog, it's called "Germaphobes and Cleanfreaks Look Away Now"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Never Say Never on a Mend Opportunity

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the humble wheelie bin.
It's made from tough, durable plastic of some sort and is now several years old.
It has been hauled and lifted and upended by a truck and sometimes fallen off the curb.
The lid has been cracked and finally one of the hinge extensions broke through and the lid flopped about and I thought we would have to order a new one from the council.

But Craig is a most practical man.
He plastic welded the lid. Basically that is melting and melding the plastic together with a soldering iron.
It's not pretty but it's solid again.

And look what you can do with a bit of aluminium and a riveter.
He has used some leftover metal from the plane he is building in the garage and stabilised the area from the outside....

and the inside.
Again, it's not "pretty" but we have saved another broken item from ending up in landfill. While I don't expect everyone to be this handy, I so think we could all take a second look at something that we are contemplating throwing out because it is broken.
I for one was about to write off this bin. I would have said it had serviced well and was well and truly past it but a bit of practical thinking has taught me a really good lesson.
Once again Craig has shown me the quiet ingenuity of a bushman.
This bin will go on for another few years yet I'll warrant.
I think our world would appreciate a second look at our throw away society.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sparkly Crochet for Christmas

Take some glass balls....

Perhaps some pearly beads...

Some vintage silver and gold thread from the 60's/70's

Getting some crochet on!

Coats Patons Aurora in gold and silver with 2.00mm crochet hook.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

70's and 80's Fabric Week in the Shop

Summer fun with this one and it is ideal for a maxi-dress. 
I'll bet there are some out there who remember these prints.

Cool and fluid but definitely NOT in a corner!

The 70's/80's collection is available in the shop now.
Click on the shop tab above (below the banner)
Postage is calculated for Australia only but if you are overseas and would like a postal quote simply email me or request below in the comments.

You just don't see fabrics like this any more. 
They will give a genuine look to your retro pattern for sure.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Using Garlic Scape

For us, this time of year is the gap in the year for garlic. We have used all our stores and the last few corms have sprouted and disintegrated about a month ago, the new crop is still about four weeks away. It's at this time that I eagerly anticipate the small window of opportunity for the garlic scape. It is the flowerless tip that the bulb throws when the garlic (hard neck variety) is close to harvest. If left the scapes would develop a bulblet type growth diverting vigour away from the corm. Cutting the scapes produces bigger bulbs.

The scape is delicious and fills that garlic gap when I am hungering for it so. I take scape to the market and I would say at least 90% of people ask what to do with scape and have never used it. Commonly I suggest chopping it and adding to pasta dishes, quiches, salads or stir-frys.

Here is another fabulous way to enjoy scape...
as stuffing for roast chicken,

Finely chop some scape and add to some roughly chopped Australian Limes. Add a few leaves from a Tasmanian Pepperberry tree, finely chopped and add a generous pinch of salt and a slick of oil.
The Tasmanian Pepperberry Tree produces berries very similar to peppercorns but the leathery leaves are also edible though a little goes a long way, they are very hot and spicey. We have a small tree growing and keep it trimmed to a manageable height. Unfortunately it doesn't bear fruit as you need a male and female plant.

Stuff the mixture into the cavity of a free range chicken and bake as you normally would in a moderate oven. The mixture will get all juicy and flavoursome and combine with the chicken pan juices making a sumptuous base for gravy made in the pan.

For more scape ideas have a look here at 7 things to do with scape 
How do you enjoy your garlic scape?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Clove Oil and Toothache

I'm sharing a rainy day picture with you because;

a) it's raining
b) the inside of someone's mouth is not the most elegant or attractive sharing experience

Craig complained of a toothache last week and asked me to make an appointment for him but you guessed it, a weeks wait.
I had a look and it seems he has a piece broken off one of his back molars.
By the time Craig says something, you know he is in agony as he has a very high threshold for pain.
He has taken some paracetamol but applying some clove oil with a cotton bud has been very helpful. It has anaesthetised the area and probably helped in an anti-bacterial way too.

I wouldn't advise using this remedy instead of going to a dentist because pain is the body's way of saying there is something wrong and it could be any number of things but as a remedy to help you get through the wait period till an appointment it's a big help.

I'm a big fan of clove oil for cleaning mould and killing spores and deterring spiders and insects. You can also add toothache remedy to the list too.  

We are getting some lovely rain today, just right for the seedlings and much needed.
Big smiles all round.

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