Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Homegrown Pickled Beetroot

Just a few short weeks ago, I sowed some beetroot seed to fill in an empty spot in the veggie garden. They grew well and we used the baby leaves regularly in salads. This week however, I noticed that several bulbs had formed and after a previous attempt at trying to grow beetroot and ending up with woody roots, I decided to pull them up, if a little on the small side - at least they would (should!) be tender.

Fresh from the garden!
After removing the leaves and leaving a small section of stalk attached, I ended up with one kilogram of beetroot.  They were then washed...

Trim the leaves leaving a section of stalk in place, then wash...
....placed in a pot and covered with water and then boiled gently for around 20 minutes until tender. Leaving the tap roots and stalks uncut while cooking prevents loss of flavour occurring from excess bleeding.

...and then boil until tender (20 mins approx)
Once tender, the beetroot was drained and left until cool enough to handle. The skins were slipped off with the help of a small paring knife and then the whole bulbs were quartered or halved, depending on their size.

Once drained and cool enough to handle, carefully peel the skins off - they should slip off easily
Around the same time, I got the pickling solution under way. The following ingredients were placed into a pot:

4 cups vinegar (I used 2 cups white & 2 cups apple cider)
1 1/2 cups sugar (more or less may be used, depending on your preference)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
about 8 cloves
10-12 peppercorns

The ingredients were brought to a simmer and stirred occassionally to allow the sugar to dissolve and the flavours to infuse.

The beetroot segments were placed into (sterilised) jars, covered with the pickling liquid, leaving a 1cm headspace and processed. (I used the Fowlers Vacola unit, however a 15 minute boiling water bath could be used in place).

1kg of beetroot yielded three modest size jars of pickled beetroot
Perfect for summer barbeques!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day '10


Silverbeet/ruby chard and spring onions

Flowering potatoes

Man v's Reeds?

Uncoordinated fun

Climbing beans - Blue Lake

Lavender - Munstead

Another year older...

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Holiday Greeting...

May your holidays be happy. May they be spent with those you love. May they be filled with laughter and fun times.


May your bellies be full and your belts easily loosened. May the weather be kind and the children content.

 Wishing you a happy and safe holiday! xx

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Macadamia & Chocolate Chip Biscotti

Who doesn't love biscotti? I admit I have a fondness for the dry, hard biscuit but had never actually got around to making any. Combine that with the tempting pictures posted by Celia,  and this little biscotti-lover just had to get baking!

Original version with macadamias and milk chocolate pieces

I used the recipe  kindly shared by Celia and my inclusions were: 1 cup macadamias and 1 cup of choc-chips for the first batch.....

Chocolate version with macadamias and white chocolate pieces

.....and for the chocolate variation/second batch, 1 cup of macadamias and 1 cup of white chocolate chips. Yummy!

Packaged  up with a nice ribbon, they made sweet gifts for our daughters' teachers. With some positive feedback today, I'm relieved to say that they weren't mistaken for stale cookies, thank goodness!! (I was a bit worried, ok!). And for an entertaining account on figuring out the complexities of eating biscotti for the first time, hop on over to Brydie's  and have a read of her biscotti post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We have raspberries!

Oh, yes! We do!


Several, in fact....


...everyday!


The tallest canes are taller than me!

In a bowl of cereal, in a smoothie, with yoghurt or ice-cream, in a tart, or on their own...


....nothing compares to picking them fresh, ripe and juicily delicious!

It feels like I've waited soooo long for them I can't help but celebrate their arrival!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A-line skirts and a little babushka dress......

Remember those pre-loved sewing patterns  I picked up from the tip a little while ago? I have actually been a little busy using the skirt pattern which has turned out to be just my size! I have a  bit of a 'thing' for a-line skirts and enjoyed making them up - they are so quick and simple!

This one is made from a remnant of khaki drill. The pockets were made because I was in a funny mood and felt like using up some oddments of material I had lying around. It is a gardening skirt after all, and one needs a place to store seed packets, don't they!

And this one was made with some discounted fabric I picked up on my travels - I wanted to make sure the size was ok before looking at other fabrics...

...which it was.  Gotta love that :)

I've also been busy making a dress for a special little person. A babushka dress.  I had seen one similar in a craft magazine from the library and thought I'd try my own take on it:


As the magazine had been returned, I came up with my own pattern for the babushka lady and used fusible web and zig-zag stitch to attach the pattern pieces to the dress. Our local primary school had a fete recently where I found the fabric scraps, which I thought would be ideal for this project!

The face is embroidered with two strands of embroidery floss and the cheeks are small circles of felt.


The back of the dress - no zip, nice and simple....




I'm pretty happy with it, and although it could be finished now, I think it's still needing something...Maybe some trim along the bottom edge? Rick-rack? What colour? Or perhaps some pockets? Square or curved? Argh! I've been staring at it too long and am completely confused. That's why I'm throwing it out into the universe in the hope that the answer will come back to me. :)

Have you got any projects on the go at the moment?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Spent calendulas and a comfrey tea update....

Helloooo there, 101st follower! I never thought that 101 people could ever possibly be interested in my scattered (sometimes wine induced) ramblings, and to be honest I keep this blog as a record for myself and a little outlet from everyday life. Nevertheless, I am overjoyed that there are people reading out there and am usually just to shy to say it, but HI, and welcome! I hope you enjoy your time here :)

So...today I have an update on the mysterious comfrey tea that I started to brew a couple of weeks ago.  First though, calendulas, or rather spent calendulas and just what exactly to do with them when they are still being generous as ever but the space is really needed for something else.....!

Our calendulas were grown in a double row in a bed just over 3 metres long. They provided so many blooms for months and months but the space was needed for some climbing beans. All of the plants (which were showing signs of age, at no expense to the flowers), were pulled up and filled a wheelbarrow generously.


I had thought I would pass them through our little shredder but this proved to be virtually impossible so chose the lawnmower instead.


It made light work out of mulching them up finely.

The same wheelbarrow of plants, significantly reduced in size after shredding.....

Then into a circular vegetable garden bed they went, to be turned and distributed by our feathered workers.

I'm hoping that as they break down they will act as a natural pest repellant to control nematodes, which Sonya  has written about here.

And now to the comfrey tea.  I had been checking the leaves daily and noticed that they stayed in tact for some time and then virtually overnight they seemed to break apart and start rotting! Really fast!


 Not quite a black liquid yet but it's getting there, and there are still some leafy particles that I want to break down a little more until virtually disintigrated. Maybe a couple more weeks? Oh, and the smell is not that bad...Ok, it's bad, but not that bad.......not when it is compared to the rotten eggs the duck had been sitting on!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Zingy Lime Tart

This would have to be one of my favourite tart recipes. It's really quick and easy to prepare with no blind baking the pastry case. It uses fresh lime juice and zest although could easily be adapted for other citrus fruit, PLUS it calls for 7 eggs (4 whole +  3 yolks), which is fantastic for when the chooks are laying regularly!


Zingy Lime Tart
Base:
185g plain flour
90g butter
3 tbs icing sugar
iced water

Filling:
4 eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup cream
juice and rind from 3-4 limes

Preheat oven to 180c or 170c fan-forced. Place flour, butter and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until combined. Gradually add enough ice water in a thin dribble until dough resembles breadcrumbs. Remove and press together gently to form a ball. On a a lightly floured surface, roll dough out until approx 5mm thick (1/4"). Place into a greased flan tray with removable bottom or individual tart cases, trim excess then refrigerate while the filling is prepared.

In a large bowl, gently hand whisk eggs, yolks and sugar together until combined. . Add the cream, juice and zest and mix gently. Pour mixture into prepared pastry case and bake in the lower half of the oven  for approx. 30-40 minutes, or until set and lightly golden on top.

Allow to cool and then refrigerate until required. Serve with fresh berries and cream.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A soggy start to Summer....

It's been raining so much here lately. It just keeps coming - I don't know where from! And it comes down hard. It is so frustrating when we get stuck in it. And so frustrating not getting the washing dry....or being able to duck out and pick a few herbs because it's bucketing down...again! I don't know how people in tropical climates cope!

I have lived most of my adult life on rural properties and at times have depended on the rain for our water. We do respect and value the rain but it has gotten to the point where enough is enough, the ground cannot absorb any more moisture....

Our dam has overflowed for the first time since we have been here.....

Yup, it's full alright! It won't hold anymore.....

Over winter we had a river running through our property...now we have three! One comes from the overflowing dam, and the other two fork out from the rapids that travel down from further up hill. Naturally this flows into our neighbour's already overflowing dam!

Thank goodness we aren't using the fire anymore as I don't think I could cope with heaving a wheelbarrow through this slosh everyday!

The ducks were ecstatic with the recent downpours but I noticed that even they were looking a little bored in another shower today...

They seem to enjoy the temporary streams a whole lot better....

What better place to clean off?

Our mama duck is happy to be wandering around again after her eggs hatched a week ago.


There are only two ducklings in this picture as unfortunately we had a nasty bout of fox visits, losing 3 ducklings (!) sob, and our two most recent ducks. It gutted me at first but I have come to realise that if we choose to keep animals then this is a risk we take. They could be locked up in cages all the time, but what sort of life would that be? And I could never be as good a mother to those little ducklings as the mama is, so will choose her to raise them anyday. I am learning so much from her, it's very humbling!


The goats have soggy feet. They don't like it! Their paddock is on a slope but it's still so wet. I feel so sorry for them. They take turns lounging on the big tree stump right at the top of the slope that we have started calling their 'couch'. It looks so uncomfortable but they adore it!


They are keeping on top of the grass in their section, although right on the other side of the fence the grass is out of control! If it stopped raining for long enough, hubby could get in there with the lawnmower (actually, I think it's a brushcutter job now....).


One good thing about the rain is that it has made the garden go beserk! These are some gifted kipfler potatoes that were really suspect when I planted them. Their position and the rain seems to be agreeing with them though.....


I haven't grown kipflers before, so am pretty excited.

There is also lettuce, lettuce, everywhere!! Everywhere!

I never tire of salad with a meal - there is just so much you can do with it!

And this is the view looking down at four of our circular garden beds...


A chaotic mixture of volunteer tomatoes, rhubarb, kale, potatoes, lavender, sage, flowering alliums, Californian poppies, flatleaf parsley, and silverbeet.
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