Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pumpkin chutney

Note to self: this year plant Queensland Blue pumpkins, not Jap. They seem to store better.
The race is on to use up the remaining Jap pumpkins, before they end up only fit for worm food (which if they have to end up anywhere, is as good a place as any).
I'm partial to chutney, so was keen to try this recipe for Pumpkin Chutney found in Sally Wise's "A Year in a Bottle".

Pumpkin Chutney

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped,
1 cooking apple, cored and chopped
500g pumpkin, chopped
10 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon salt
125g sultanas
500g brown sugar
2 cups cider vinegar
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Heat the oil in a saucepan, and saute the onion, apple, pumpkin and garlic for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower heat to bring to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally to prevent it catching on the bottom.

Decant into warm sterilized jars.

Apparently this will keep for a year. If it lasts that long.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sinking feeling

If it's not one thing it's another.
Had plans today to order fruit fly exclusion bags for the stone fruit. Yesterday I checked out the trees and the fruit set has been pretty good!
But we might not be needing exclusion bags after all. Casting my eye over the blog just now , I see in the side bar a post from last year "How to make Bordeaux mixture". Bordeaux mixture is an organic mixture you spray on your stone fruit before bud burst. It's meant as a preventative to leaf curl.
I realised then with a sinking feeling that we forgot to spray this year. Life just got too busy in August and that one passed me by. Leaf curl - definite possibility.
Dang! Will we EVER get to eat our own peaches?

[Edit - All's well.When I shared this realisation with Action Man, he replied something like "My dear, while you have been impersonating a headless chook over the last month or two, I've been quietly going about my business, including spraying the fruit trees for leaf curl. " No wonder I call him Action Man. He's a keeper.]

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spring has definitely sprung

This is my favourite time of year in the garden. So much is in flower at the moment, and the scents wafting around are just gorgeous. Photos courtesy of my daughter (**Parental brag alert**- my daughter has had a photo shortlisted as a finalist in the Moran Photographic Prize in the primary schools section. To check out the finalists, go to ).
[Grumpy aside here...why, why, why does Blogger make it so hard to upload multiple photos. Also, once I upload them, why is so hard to move them around. I'd love to do more multi-photo posts, but the frustration isn't worth it. Am I doing something wrong?]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Who made my cheese?

That would be me..
I've been musing for a while about learning to make cheese and yesterday, I did it. I took a one day workshop to learn to make camembert and ricotta. Above is a picture of my take-home cheese, a camembert soaking in brine, before being stored in an esky for a few weeks to develop that characteristic white mold exterior.
The workshop was held at Small Cow Farm at Robertson in the Southern Highlands. It was very much hands-on, and a lot of fun. We all got to take home a cheese which we will tend over the next few weeks before we get to eat it. Can't wait to eat it with some home-made wine!
I'm keen to have a go and make some more, but I'll have to navigate my way through a few obstacles. 1) I'll have to try and source some non-homogenised milk, which is necessary for cheesemaking. Homogenised milk doesn't cut it. I think I'll have to of approach the dairies around here directly. 2) I'll have to pick my day when nothing else is happening, and I can stick around the kitchen for a few hours - these days are few and far between for me. Cheesemaking is a bit of a long drawn out process, so I'll have to pick my time well.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Woolly jumper

Brrrr. When I started this jumper a few weeks ago, I thought it's first wear would be next winter. But the chilly winds are still around, and I seem to be getting through this much faster than anticipated thanks to the chunky yarn and big needles. Who knows, I might get to wear it in the tail end of this winter.
This is my first ever attempt at a jumper and I'm quite pleased with how it's going. Deciding to knit a jumper was one of those things I just fell into. I was in the yarn section of the local Spotlight looking for yarn to finish this blanket. Couldn't find any yarn I likedfor the blanket, but did see some Patons Inca yarn that I did like. Wandered over to the patterns, and found a pattern for a classic sweater in the Patons Learn to Knit book, just what I had in mind and it didn't look too complicated for me. Bought the book, but held off on the yarn.
Went home and got onto ebay where I got the yarn for $2.80 a ball, a lot less than I would pay in the shops. When you haven't knitted anything before, you don't want to invest heavily in the materials in case it turns into a schemozzle.
So here I am, and I'm feeling confident, although the neckband looks at bit complicated. I've read the instructions and can't make them out. Here's hoping that it will all make sense when I get to that bit...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Spring, compost and other things

Every year from about August to November I tend to go missing in action from this blog. I've been teaching as many hours as there are available for most of this term, so spare hours to do anything blogworthy, let alone blog about them, are at a premium. By some miracle I only got booked for a half day today so here I am.
Typical spring weather here - balmy one day, blustery the next. Getting organised to plant up the vegie patch, mainly spreading old sheep manure and compost about. You could smell the fertility of the compost, fantastic stuff.
I've been also planning what to plant. Even though we have five acres here, vegie garden space is limited, because our property sits on the side of a hill - very little flat space. The only flat space is around the house, and up next to the shed. That's it. Our vegie patch is about 36m2. It's very productive, but I have to be choosy about what to plant. I would love to build more vegie beds so can grow things like artichokes, asparagus and strawberries. Unless I get the earth mover in, though, it ain't happening.

So, what to plant: going on my experience from the last few years, here is what I am thinking:
-Plant more lettuces than I think we need. We always eat them.
- Don't bother planting cherry tomatoes - a self seeded plant always pops up somewhere.
-Plant tomatoes much further apart than I think they - I tend to plant too close.
- Don't plant pumpkin in the vegie patch!
- Only one eggplant as I am the only one who appreciates them.
- Ditto beetroot - limit.
- Plan for successive plantings of beans.
-Experiment with climbing beans this year, to save space.
-Plant cucumbers up a trellis this year, again to save space.
- Raise seedlings.
- Don't forget basil - I did last year to the chagrin of my children who live for pesto.

That's the plan. Now, I just need a bit of time to get cracking. School holidays can't get here too quickly.