Saturday, March 30, 2013


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This post is to "claim my blog"on Bloglovin. You can now follow Spades and Spoons on Bloglovin, apparently. Hopefully.
You can tell what a computer whiz I am.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's that time of year making

A few posts ago I wrote about the dilemma of whether to pick our grapes or not. The update is..we didn't pick. Life and triathlons got in the way so we didn't pick right away. Then the rain came. And came. And came. And that was the end of that. The birds had a right old time. If we were both retired, we'd make a better job of using our own grapes. You really need to be johnny-on-the-spot with regard to picking at the right time. We're just not.

Not to worry. Action Man decided to buy grapes in - 20 boxes of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from South Australia. They arrived yesterday morning on a truck, and the local home wine makers descended to pick up their grapes for the year. 99% of the local winemakers are Greeks, Italians and Balkan types. The other 1% is Action Man.

The ute was backed in to wine making central. Action Man set up the crusher/destemmer. Cameron, the 15 year old was roped in to help feed the crusher with buckets of grapes.
The good news was that the grapes were perfect as is - the brix and baume readings right on the money. No need to doctor this juice. It's right to go.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My sewing blog

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you would know that I have an interest in sewing, mainly for myself.
I've occasionally posted my makes on this blog, but I've decided to post all my sewing related doings on my other blog, La Sartora, which I started a few weeks ago now. Check it out! Hope you do.
I'll keep this blog up, and post as often as inspired.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Things to do with pumpkin - paint them!

Staying on the subject of pumpkins, I thought I'd share with you another use I've found for painting subjects.

Here is a fledgling still-life of a Queensland Blue, and a pear, both of which we grew here. I'm particularly proud of the pear. It's the first pear we have grown to maturity here. Very exciting. Certainly worth a painting.

So this painting is at blocking in stage. Over the next few days, I hope I'll go in and refine the painting a lot. Just looking at this photo I can see so much I want to work on. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Things to do with pumpkin - Gnocchi

The pumpkins have been going well after a slow start. We've just started picking, and it looks like we'll be ok for pumpkin for months to come.
I thought I'd share this recipe, which I haven't really seen published anywhere - pumpkin gnocchi. It is very easy, very delicious, like little clouds of pumpkin and unlike some other gnocchi not at all heavy.
Pumpkin gnocchi
1 butternut pumpkin - about 1kg or so
1 cup flour
1 egg
Halve the pumpkin, and place the halves on a baking sheet, then into the oven heated to 200C for about 45 minutes or so, or until the pumpkin is tender.
Let the pumpkin cool. Removed the seeds and membranes, then spoon out the pumpkin flesh and mash. Add an egg, about 1/2 tsp salt, some nutmeg and enough flour to make a soft sticky dough.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Using two teaspoons, take teaspoons of dough and drop into the boiling water, about 8 -10 at a time so as not to overcrowd the saucepan. When the gnocchi rise to the surface, they are cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon into a heatproof dish. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Over a medium-low heat, brown about 100g butter. This takes about 5-8 minutes. Watch carefully, so it doesn't burn. Add about 2 tablespoons of chopped sage, then pour over the gnocchi. (Yes, there is no sign of sage in this photo - I'd forgotten that I'd pulled out the sage bush a few months ago and didn't replace it! Shows how often I use sage). Serve with parmesan cheese.
The gnocchi will keep in a warm oven for a while, so you can make these ahead if need be.

Friday, March 1, 2013


A few weeks ago, the nearly 15 year old and I experimented with making our own bacon, for the benefit of his science assessment task.
Using a recipe in Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking, we dry cured a piece of pork belly. This essentially involved rubbing a tablespoon of rock salt and some chopped herbs into the pork and leaving it for a few weeks. That's it. It took 5 minutes of our time, tops. Too easy. Parenthetically, Darina specifies dairy salt in her recipe. What the heck is dairy salt? I couldn't find out, not that I researched it much, so I just used rock salt. Anyone out there who knows what dairy salt is?
So last night we cooked some bacon up to use in the Spaghetti Carbonara I was making for dinner. Guess what? It looked like bacon (or pancetta to be more precise), it smelled like bacon, it tasted like bacon. It's bacon. And the taste verdict from the family? Better than the bought stuff. I agree.
I never thought I'd get into smallgoods making, but I think I'll be making this bacon on an ongoing basis. Whyever not? It's so easy, and the product is delicious.