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5 Sep 2019

Berry Bounty

I've been wanting to try growing berries for years, but never made the commitment as the plants weren't cheap, and I was nervous of not caring for them properly and killing them.

I purchased some half price berry bushes a few weeks ago as they were old stock. A thornless blackberry, a raspberry and a blueberry. I began planting them into the gardens on Thursday. Home nurtured compost was dug into the soil, plants will be watered in with seaweed fertiliser and mulched with matured horse manure and straw. The pH in that garden usually averages 5.5 along the fence line so all the requirements for healthy growth should be met.

Bed piled up and reinforced by wood beam.

Teasing out the roots was a challenge

Blueberry planted. Trench in front of bed was filled with aged horse manure.

Watered in and mulched. Remaining bushes will be planted in the next few days as now I am "bushed"!

They may need a shelter erected above them which will prevent any potential sun burn in Summer and frost burn in Winter. Now we need to keep a watch for ambitious finches and other winged pests in case a more intensive screening is required so I can harvest fruit before it is stolen.

Looking forward to possibly harvesting some fruit this season.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

19 Aug 2019

Making pastry and pies

It has been busy here lately and I have neglected to take photos of activities. Projects have been a bit disjointed too, so I felt I didn't have anything worthwhile to post. Life can be like that at times. Much happening but nothing being completed.

A couple of weeks ago we bought a pie maker. I used it today and made one of the recipes in the book that came with it.

The recipe was Moroccan lamb with chickpeas.

I changed the ingredients a little as the recipe required using lamb chops, cut up into small pieces and fried, but I had neck lamb chops that I'd slow cooked previously and stripped the meat from. The recipes in the book also used frozen pastry for the pie cases but I made shortcrust pastry for the bases  (recipe below) and used frozen purchased puff pastry for the lids.

Shortcrust Pastry:-
340g plain flour
85g chilled lamb tallow chopped in small pieces
85g chilled butter chopped in small pieces
6 tblsp chilled water

Sift flour, then stir in tallow pieces. Rub tallow into flour until mixture becomes crumbly. Stir in butter pieces and rub those into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add chilled water to flour mixture a little at a time, stirring in with a knife. As soon as flour mixture begins to come together gather it with your hands into a ball. Knead until smooth, being careful not to warm up the dough too much, form into a large pat and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in a cool area, or in refrigerator, for at least 30 minutes to rest before rolling and cutting into pie bases. This will make 8 pie bases for my Sunbeam pie maker.

All the ingredients were added gradually to the frypan. The kumera was the last addition, and it took quite a while for it to cook sufficiently enough to be used in the pies, so in future I will pre-cook it then add it to the ingredients in the frypan.

 The cooked pies.

For lunch I just added spinach as a vegetable as the pies are quite large.

We were delighted with the flavour that the garlic, spices and coriander imparted to the filling. As the recipe made enough for 8 pies, and I cooked 4, I froze the rest of the filling, along with the other four pie bases I had cut, to make more pies next week. There are 2, of the 4, pies I cooked today that will be lunch tomorrow.

Update on the muffins from this post: they freeze well and thawed out they are a similar texture and taste as when first baked. This makes the recipe a definite keeper!

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo


7 Aug 2019

Muffin experiments

There were some apples becoming a little over matured to eat so I decided that I should use them before they ended up as chicken fodder.

I quite enjoy muffins, but haven't made apple muffins for years, so I did an internet search and discovered this recipe. The recipe appealed to me as it uses wholemeal flour, and contains other ingredients I would normally have stocked in my cupboard or pantry, so no special grocery shopping was required.

 Before baking. Handy that there's no guess work as the muffin cups are just filled to the top with the mix. Obviously more practice is needed to ensure equality of size 😄.


The finished products. Due to the wholemeal flour used they are a tad denser than a white flour based muffin but, I feel, nicely light and moist throughout for a fruit muffin with a great flavour. I used Pink Lady apples.


PC can't eat fruit so I made him some chocolate muffins, using grated fresh beetroot, as this is another recipe I've wanted to try as it is supposed to keep the muffins moist while they are stored.

I decided to grate the beetroot in the sink wearing rubber gloves to minimise the mess.

This mixture was more fluid than the apple muffins so a little easier to ensure equality in size.


PC commented that they are chocolatey enough and there is a mild sweet aftertaste that is not unpleasant. He tried 3 just to be sure! The texture is light and fluffy.


Both recipes are supposed to freeze well. More information on that at a later date.

After the preparation, baking and cooling (not too much cooling!) we decided to try them for afternoon tea with a cuppa.

Scrumptious!

Do you have a new or favourite muffin recipe that you use?

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

31 Jul 2019

Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm not prone to making a short post with a picture but I had a jar of peanut butter that had to be used and PC had eaten all the biscuits I'd baked previously.

He keeps saying "those darn ants they'll eat anything!".
It's a bit of a joke between us.

I've never baked peanut butter cookies so I found a recipe and tried it out this afternoon. I added my own touch by adding a chocolate drop to the centre, as there's only a few of these left, and they need to be used as well.

Here's about half the quantity baked as the others needed to cool more before I removed them from the baking tray. They taste as good as they look 😋.



Try not to gobble them up too quickly.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

28 Jul 2019

Gardening in Winter

It’s been a strange Winter so far.

There have been some quite warm days, at 20 deg Celsius, but also cold nights down to minus 3 Celsius a few times. No wonder the plants are confused!

In the few weeks I’ve been pruning roses a couple of them have put out new shoots, even though there has been heavy overnight frost.  


The bed of stinging nettles hasn’t died off. The bed is on the north side of the yard and, due to the fencing, they are in a warm micro-climate but I am surprised the nettles have remained alive let alone continued to grow.  
The garlic in the front row is an experiment and, if it succeeds, I'll have around 30 heads.

Due to the warmer weather I am still able to grow some loose leaf lettuce and radishes. I have planted some broccoli and roquette(arugula) seedlings that will feature a photo when not so tiny! The leafy vegetables are sheltered by suspended shade cloth to prevent the frost from being in direct contact with them. 


Even the Tahitian lime tree hasn’t suffered this Winter, though that may change.  

Now is the time of year I feed the cherry tree in preparation for flowering/fruiting in October/November. I’ve forked the ground to loosen it, mulched/fed it with horse and matured chicken manure, added a sprinkle of lime, then watered it thoroughly. Mulch straw needs to be purchased to form the final layer. We’ve been doing some burning of dead wood so wood ash will be collected and stored to use on any cherry slugs that appear when the leaves have grown. 


The apricot tree will need a chainsaw pruning this year. This photo was taken last year. I've posted it, rather than a one of a bare tree, as the apricot branches are difficult to see against the plethora of eucalypt trees in the background. The branches were so heavy with fruit last year that a few broke.


What grows in your garden in Winter?

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo