Sunday, 20 November 2011

Breaking in the New Kitchen!

 It was decided we had run out of home made strawberry jam, and that our new kitchen needed a proper test run for functionality, KT came over to make jam with us and the fun began.

Saturday B, KT, and I chopped 2.5kg of fresh strawberries (store bought unfortunately, maybe next year we will grow our own) and added sugar before leaving overnight in the fridge to combine.

 Sunday Morning after a hearty delish bacon, asparagus and fried potato breakfast, we sterilised the jars in boiling water on the stove.  We added a few extra ingredients to the jam and put it on the stove until it was ready.  We got quite a few jars of yummy, yummy, jam this time.

The kitchen is easy to use which is a plus, the only thing I have to remember is I cannot put hot jars/pots/saucepans directly on the benchtop for fear of destroying the finish.
B did however make me some handy, if heavy, wooden cutting boards from offcuts of the iron bark, which look beautiful in our kitchen.... and I can put hot items onto without fear.

I had heaps of fun chatting and catching up with KT and we invented a new drink for us, (Pictured above) half set strawberry jam in a shot of vodka... it is very sweet and quite smooth.  I think we will make more!

This weekend has been unbearably hot, despite this B has been working hard in the garden as usual, while I hid in the air conditioning.  The humidity is awful, that burning sun was not on the cards for me this weekend.  He has made a new garden bed for strawberries, is planting the next lot of things we are going to experiment with growing.  We are nearly out of wonderful beetroot and carrot, so we want to try something different, in addition we are planting parsnip, pumpkin, white squash, and spinach. I can't wait for them to grow, hopefully it rains soon, I am not impressed with it being the dryest November in 92 years!! BRING ON THE RAIN!

Here are some more pictures of the kitchen renovation, after we have lived in it a few weeks, and it is more homey :)

We have emptied the freezer of food, so next weekend begins the cooking saga, I'm thinking home made sausage rolls, and maybe a casserole or two...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A day for exploring

My mum came to visit us this weekend, it was wonderful.  We spent Saturday afternoon just talking, and catching up. We spent ages wandering through the garden looking at new plants that we put in, what is flowering and anything new.  B made us a beautiful dinner of T-Bone steak and Vegies fresh from the garden. It doesn't get any better than 30 minutes from garden soil to plate on a table.  It still amazes me the difference in flavour and texture from what we purchase at the store.

After we all ate our fill and then some, B decided to leave us to our chats and giggles so he could visit his brother for the evening. We then stretched out on the couch watched a movie, chattered away and ate lots of lollies.

Sunday morning we went through some photo's of our New Zealand holiday, but as the morning quickly progressed we decided to go exploring, which is our favourite thing to do.  No plan, no real direction just turn on the car and drive.

We went to the markets nearby and picked up a thing or two.... headed for Gatton, explored there for a while found some shops that were open and bought some beautiful items.  Had Subway for lunch and decided to head home.

 On the way home we took a few different turns from normal and drove for an hour heading for the hills in front of us, we had an idea where we were, no maps or time schedule just took in the country side.  Farms, trees, open grasslands. It was very pretty, and quite an exciting drive.

We explored along Mt sylvia road all the way from Gatton towards Mt Sylvia . it was picturesque. We passed an organic Pecan orchard it was exciting!  All those trees I never knew where there, and they were huge! Row after row of them.   We drove until we ran out of road at East Haldon, where we saw some people swimming in what looked to be a refreshing waterhole beside the road.   We turned around and went back along the same way to Gatton.  We saw a goat dairy with many little goats playing. Then hills, paddocks, rolling greens and browns all along, we came across this lovely little place with the most flowers I have ever seen packed in one front yard! Inspiring.  We drove past a pub in the middle of no-where and discovered where the Nolan Vegetable Trucks come from.

All in all it was a pleasant day, and a wonderful weekend.  I had a great time and am now thoroughly worn out. Time to go the garden and harvest more vegies for dinner I think, then a well deserved nap.  I love exploring our exciting surrounds.

 Maybe next week I will be more productive.......

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Green abounds!

I walked outside yesterday morning, in a bid to escape house work, only to discover that during our many weeks of kitchen work we had neglected many of our poor plants. Many desperately needed weeding and fertilising, also while I wasn't watching most of the cuttings we had taken had outgrown their little pots.  So all morning we weeded, fertilised, checked all the cuttings, bonsai, and plants that we are preparing to put in the ground.  It began to get quite hot as the day progressed so we spent the afternoon just pottering around the yard fixing up small things, nothing too drastic.

Our Vegie patch has been producing wonderfully, there have been many meals that are all from our garden.  We watered it with Seasol and harvested the last of the cherry tomatos.  (I'm thinking of turning them into a nice relish as we got kilo's from one hard working plant!)  Our other tomato's needed staking and a little pruning. Finally our potato's are ready, seemed like forever watching them grow. Best potato's ever, home grown always amazes me that it can be worlds apart from what we buy in the supermarket.  These were delish, which we had Roast Veg and Lamb Shanks.  Oh so easy, and oh so tasty.

Roast Lamb Shanks and Veg Recipe (that we used)

Lamb shanks we slit the meat clean to the bone at the top, so during cooking it can bunch and become tender. We got some foil and wrapped them up with garlic, time, and lemon juice (fresh from our tree)
It was beautiful! The veg was simply harvested (beetroot, carrot, potato, beans), then we chopped and roasted in a pan with lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.  The Beans we steamed with the tops of the beetroot.  I have recently decided I love the tops of the beetroot, the green leaves we can cook just like it is spinach nomnomnom.

Willis Follows around the yard helping and keeping a watchful eye out for grasshopper he can chase, which always gives me a fright.  He is unhappy with us, the last week or so we have decided that he needs to wear a collar with 2 bells, which he hates.  Our beautiful fluffy brown kitty has grown up into a very accomplished hunter, we decided that the prey needed to have a fighting chance and hopefully the bells will warn them a little, it's only fair.

The flower garden around our gazebo is a mass of colour this year. I haven't done a thing with it since we dug it nearly 2 years ago.  We planted it with phlox, nasturtiums, snap dragons, daisys, pansys and a few other things which have been self seeding ever since.  I love it, it is an unruly mass of colourful chaos, no maintenance (except an occasional pulling of a weed). It is trying desperately to escape its borders and is spilling into the lawn in places but I don't mind. It is always exciting to walk out and see which plants are popping up and flowering. 

Behind the flowering madness is a little bit of productivity.  This paw-paw survived the flood earlier on in the year, it is still struggling but has started to finally produce new leaves, it is kept company buy a tomato that self seeded and beans.

The busy hub of the garden is the massive perennial basil plant that is beside the beans, it always seems to be in flower and the bees can't get enough of it.  I only have to walk near and I can hear the gentle hum of a hard working army of bees.  Native bees are always my favourite sight and can be found here, I am unsuccessful so far in capturing a photo of these pretty tiny little guys, but we all need a challenge...

This season we planted purple beans and they grew far better than we expected, the vines went up in the blink of an eye, and we are already harvesting.  Quite tasty too.

Beetroot, carrots and tomato have been our staples for a few weeks now and are so easy to grow, the tomatos are a couple of  heirloom varieties we haven't tried before so I am excited to taste those, not much longer now though. The potato is ready, and we are turning over a new patch today to plant something else, not sure what yet, maybe eggplant?
 These are the first teensy grapes we have grown, I can't wait for them to get bigger! We have taken special care of the two vines we have and this is exciting!

The chives are even getting into the spirit of abundance and producing the most delicate flowers. Beautiful.

Manny has been taking care of us and making sure we don't stray too far alone.  He is 5 years old today, born 06/11/2006.  I am not sure where all those days went, one day he was the tiniest little kitty with the sharpest little claws and now he is a full grown adorable cat with a strong personality.  He travelled with us from house to house while we rented in the city, it has only been since we moved out here that he relaxed and settled. He loves to have Willis as company, although he doesn't like the bell on will's collar and chases him up and down the yard.

Oh well, that ends another week, in another productive month.  We do have some more projects on the way, however the kitchen has sucked up all my motivation for a bit I think.  I am at the planning stage for a few things, but they can wait until next week.