Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Rice is In

Twenty-three weeks from seed sowing to harvest and the rice is safely in the house . Now to thresh, winnow and remove the hull (which is probably going to be the most difficult part of the exercise). I am so looking forward to the one meal we will have from this crop.
My homegrown rice
638 grams of lovely grains and something a little different from a backyard garden. The experiment has been interesting and after a few moments thought, I have decided to branch out further with our grain growing. Next to be planted will be oats, rye and spelt. The advantage of living on a small farm is that there is plenty of room to grow our own food without the pressures of relying on the farm for our livelihood.

Not a bad place to work

The weather today is just perfect. Sunny, a slight breeze but a little cool. I wanted to go for a bike ride but my tyre was flat so I decided to work in the garden instead. It really is the best place to be right now. Good things to harvest and still things to plant too. I planted garlic and broadbeans this morning and I really feel like heading back out.

There is still some patience to be exercised. My luffa plant got off to a slow start because of the cool and wet spring and early summer season. It has however decided to put out a solitary fruit. Although it is slightly obscene looking I hope it can hang on long enough to ripen so we have a new sponge and some seeds too.

While I seem to be energised, I will head back to 'work'.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Harvest Monday- 28 March

In my second attempt at posting a Monday Harvest post which is hosted by Daphne, I am late again. I am posting on Tuesday but I am hoping that it is still Monday somewhere in the world so I'm not too late. We have had the usual autumn harvests. Tomatoes, zucchini, baby leaves, beans, capsicums, chillies. On the menu has been stir fries, a Balti curry, homemade pasta and beef ragu, salads,leftover and even a night of lamb and veg. After an unfortunate incident with our freezer(the door was left ajar while we were away), I had to buy meat. I was a little shocked to say the least that 10 lamb chops cost me $28. I always thought of chops as a meal that was a bit humble but with prices like that, I guess the humble chop has become gourmet and I'm glad that we have some lambs almost ready for butchering. I made mint sauce to accompany the lamb along with salad and other vegies.
Mint Sauce

1 handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar(I use apple cider)

half teaspoon sugar

half teaspoon mustard

Place all ingredients in a jar, close the lid and shake.

I'm not sure of my total harvest tally for the week but in a few days I will post my total for the month. The rice is coming off tomorrow so I'm excited. I really do think I need to get out a little more, if the thought of harvesting a pstch of rice from an old bathtub is exciting. Tracy

Friday, March 25, 2011

The autumn weather is certainly doing wonders for the garden. The dahlias are blooming lovely and would have been perfect for the local show which was scheduled for next week. Unfortunately due to some issues with venues and possibly some show society bureaucratic red tape, the show has been cancelled this year.

Dahlia Tiger Bey

Dahlia Lemon Snow
Parsnip flowers
I might have missed the ideal moment to plant our garlics for the year but they have always grown well before. I don't really garden according to any philosophy in particular but like to borrow bits and pieces from all styles to work out what suits us best here.

Last week I finally spent my Christmas gift voucher from my parents. I'm a sucker for birdhouses and this rustic looking metal one really caught my eye. The problem with a gift voucher is that it is just so hard to make a choice. I'm happy with my choice though. At the moment it is hanging on the verandah but will probably make a move to its permanent home soon.
Tomorrow is the cricket grand final. It has been a long season with the Christams holidays in the middle. We now move on to hockey for the winter season. It will certainly be a change of pace from the cricket not to mention much cooler too. I'm hoping to start a new craft project to keep my hands busy while I watch the games.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Harvest Monday- March 21

After partcipating in Belinda's Back-to-Basics last year, I thought I might participate in Daphne's Harvest Mondays. It will at least give me a little bit of focus rather than being all over the place all of the time. Hopefully.

My Harvest Monday is actually posted on Tuesday but is what I harvested Monday afternoon for our dinner. All up there was 1.242 kg / 2.74 pounds of bounty from the garden in my little basket.

We had an Hungarian Beef casserole for last nights dinner so I accompanied it with a creamy mash of potatoes- Sapphire and Kennebec. Unfortunately even the temptation of a purply mash cannot make my youngest eat mashed potatoes. She only likes them roasted. Alongside the potatoes were top weight carrots, greensking zucchini and a side salad of rocket, cos, tomatoes, basil, spring onions, lemon cucumber and Hungarian wax capsicum. And just because it was an Hungarian casserole and was flavoured with smoky paprika, I included a gorgeous red paprika chilli from the garden too.

The paprika chilli is quite mild with a thick flesh which I guess makes it good for producing the dried and ground paprika. I have plenty of seeds from the parika chillies for next year and swapping if anyone is interested.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I've said it here before that patience in the garden is not one of my virtues. I am however biding my time, waiting for the rice to be just right before harvesting. It won't be long now until the little bathtub rice 'paddy' is harvested and ready for threshing and winnowing on a very small scale.
On Saturday I went to Nundle for Kerry's annual Girl's Day in the Country. The day flew by and although I'm not entirely happy with my little purse that I made, I'm happy to say that I finished it and I would gladly make another.

There were quite a few bloggers in attendance and it was nice to meet the people who write some of the blogs I like to read. I now have a few more blogs that I will be catching up on. Being someone who would be described as a bit shy/quiet, it could have been a little daunting but everyone was friendly and welcoming. I will gladly go again next year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Autumn Sowing

The days are most definitely shortening so it is a good time to get busy in the garden. The weather is milder (today it is even overcast) so working is more pleasant. Everyday I can rely on the garden to provide for us and I want to make sure we don't have a lean gap between summery vegetables and wintery ones.

I have seeds on the go and I'm looking forward to the wholesome tastes of the cooler season crops. In the trays are:
  • Musselburgh leeks
  • Kale- Nero di toscano
  • Cauliflower- snowball
  • Cabbage- sugarloaf and Dutch red
  • Brussels sprouts- ruby and Evesham special
  • Broccoli- Romanesco, Waltham 29, purple sprouting, green sprouting and red arrow.

Today I will directly sow a few things too. I spent last night looking through my Digger's newsletter at the lovely things they have on offer. Although I'm not one who is prone to shopping trips for fun, I can certainly get carried away dreaming of new plants and seeds.


Monday, March 14, 2011


Greenhouse by Joost that is. After reading about this pop-up cafe and seeing images hof the carpet of strawberry plants covering the exterior walls, I really wanted to visit this cafe while we were in Sydney over the weekend. It is a temporary venue and will be gone at the end of the month. If the busyness is any indicator though, it could easily become permanent.
I really liked the idea of the strawberry pots balanced in the reinforcement steel. So much so that I would like to use the idea somewhere around our garden. There were very few srawberries on the young plants and those that were there were very small and looked like they were struggling just a bit. Althought he location is very pleasing on the eye, I'm sure the sun, city pollution and salty air from being on the waters edge is not good for them.The structure also acts as an interactive art installation. The magnesium oxide boards used for the walls are covered in thought provoking words and phrases which Tim enjoyed reading. For me the effect was just a little too large to enjoy. each to his own as far as art and life goes I suppose.
I did like the re-used wine bottle as water carafes. This is something we do at home too.

The roof top was lovely. We visited in the morning so the roof top area was just for enjoying the view. Later in the day, it acts as a bar. The outer edge is planted up with herbs. Parsley, basil, marjoram and perhaps a few others. These were definitely suffering from the aspect. Although some herbs often tolerate and sometimes enjoy more arid conditions, these looked like they would rather not be harbourside. The gardener in me felt sorry for them but not for the lucky person who gets to tend the little plot.

The views were good all the way around. This is from our 'window' seat. It is an open structure so there really aren't any windows.

Unfortunately we missed breakfast and it wasn't quite lunch service so we just had a coffee. I was expecting it to be over-priced because of the 'trendyness' but the coffee at least was on par with other cafes. I can say for certain it is the first time I have had my coffee served in a recycled jar. Different, fun, a little gimmicky but best of all, a day out with my favourite man. I do wish he had have taken a picture featuring the coffee in a jar rather than a picture of me with the coffee tacked on.
There is a much better description and pictures on this blog. Anyway, the cafe culture lifestyle of yesterday is over and today it I'm happily back to being a hillwilliam.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Savoury Please

I'm feeling a little in need of a savoury fix this afternoon. I have Tim and Tom both at home today. They are the two most appreciative of my cooking so I treated them to a little sweet treat. Meringues for Tom(he doesn't like cream) and meringues fancied up into mini-pavlovas for Tim.
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 egg white.
Pre-heat oven to about 120degC.
Beat egg white until peaks form.
Beat cornflour and vinegar into the egg white.
Heat sugar and water over a low heat until dissolved then bring to boil. Pour into the egg white mixture whilst the beaters are still running.
Continue beating until the mixture is quite stiff.
Place mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto a tray lined with baking paper.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes and then allow to cool in the oven with the door ajar.

The final straw on the sugary front though is the seven kilograms of honey we bottled up. You can't bottle it without a taste or two. I never ate honey until we had our own bees and now I am a definite convert. A couple of jars have been claimed but the rest should last us until next harvest.
One thing is for certain there will be no dessert in our house tonight. I am off to Sydney this weekend for my son to participate in an English workshop. Dinner out on Saturday night and most of Sunday to see the sights.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Today was one of those sweet days. The kind where yoou seem to get a lot done and even have time for a little nap in the afternoon too. It might be that my pace isn't so hectic today or that the tasks themselves are sweeter.

We robbed one of the hives this afternoon so we are honey rich at tonight. The bees weren't too pleased but there were no stings and we left them plenty for the winter which will be here soon enough. Tomorrow we bottle. Sticky fun.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


If I had to take a picture to show you what my Tuesdays look like, it would be a picture from the drivers seat of my car. Every Tuesday during the school term is hectic. Well hectic for me anyway. It is not my favourite day of the week. I leave home at 6.30am after having a hard time rousing the kids at 5.45 to get ready for the day. Grace has a violin lesson 7.30 to 8.30 and then we have to dash to school. During the hour of her lesson, we often head to the only venue open in town for a cup of coffee or tea. Thankfully, I take my knitting, crocheting or some other on-the-run project and relax even if the atmosphere is not too condicive to relaxing. Today I also had to be back closer to home to drop off the girl's baking for the next round of CWA competitions. I am half hoping that they don't make it any further in the competition just so they don't have to make the same things again so soon.

Now I have finished the chores associated with my 'simple' life such as poultry feeding and garden watering and am enjoying a break with a cup of peppermint tea and one of Grace's rock cakes she baked for the competition. Then this afternoon, it is back to town for Hope's violin lesson, drop the car off for a pre-registration check and home to cook dinner and bed.

I'm not complaining. Just letting you know that the rural life although it is idyllic most of the time, has its draw backs. If you want to or need to do anything, it is usually a long drive to do it. I love seeing my children learn their instruments and develop their sporting abilities. It brings me joy. The driving however I could live without. A 100km round trip each time we go to town gets a bit tedious sometimes. In the blink of an eye though, this stage of my life will be over and I will then be wishing back the times when my babies needed me. Car time is great for talking and thinking. I must be a glutton for punishment though because I am off on the weekend for a trip to Sydney so Tom can attend a workshop for his year 12 English class. It's an excuse to visit my sisters and to have a little taste of life in the city.

Does anyone else have crazy, hectic days? I'm sure everyone does.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Tomato, chilli and coriander relish

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take charge of some of the rampant tomato bushes and do something with the abundance of fruit. I'm always on the lookout and ready to try a new recipe but sometimes a tried and true recipe is called for. On a Sunday afternoon, I don't usually feel like experimenting so I made up a batch of Tomato, Chilli and Coriander Relish from a recipe that I have used before with success. This batch was just as good as the others. It is sweet, spicy and savoury and lends itself to many uses. On potatoes with sour cream is a favourite here.

Tomato, Chilli and Coriander Relish
1kg tomatoes, halved
olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
5 red chillies, stems removed
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
3/8 cup vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
1/8 cup fish sauce
160grams brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
Coat tomatoes in olive oil and roast at 180deg C for about 30 minutes.
Place garlic, ginger, cumin and mustard in a food processor and chop finely.
Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy based saucepan and simmer for about an hour until the mixture has thicked to a consistency you are happy with.
Remove from heat and process with a stab blender or in a food processor.
Return to heat for a few minutes.
Pour/spoon into hot sterilised jars and seal.

This morning we had one little duckling that needed a bit of TLC. The cold weather this morning brought his body temperature down and a half-hour on a hot water bottle was all he needed. It is funny to watch a little chilled duck be all floppy and drowsy one minute and then suddenly it's up and running around as if nothing has happened. I have a helper at home today studying for exams so the ducky interuption was welcome for the scholar at least.

There are plenty more tomatoes to be made into edibles for the future so off I go.


Saturday, March 5, 2011


The weather today is decidedly autumnal. There is cold wind blowing in gusts yet in the sun, it is hot. That is how it was in town at cricket this morning. As if the weather is trying to decide which season it wants to be. At home though it has definitely settled for autumn. The sun is a little more friendly and the nights are cool enough for a blanket. It is lovely.The change of season is bringing the pumpkins that little bit closer. I have only eaten pumpkin twice in about six months and I am waiting (im)patiently for these to be ready.
Thankfully the the two vines growing in the compost heap turned out to be recognisable varieties. The butternut and the jap. They were both in flower at different times so the seeds should be good for saving too. I can't wait to taste their pumpkiny goodness.

The windy weather we have had has brought down a lot of bark and a few tree limbs too. This one thankfully missed everything that it could have hit and landed on the grass causing no damage. Now it will be cut up and become future firewood.
I am working on a few little projects behind the scenes. A swap for the Girls day in the Country organised by Kerry. I'm looking forward to meeting some fellow bloggers in Nundle in a couple of weeks for a day of stitching and fun. A little thank you gift and some other swaps too. I'll post some pictures soon.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Farm Duties

After a few days of feeling off colour with the cold, it is back to 'normal' now. It has been pretty much all work and no play though. Today we have been working with the sheep. Ear tagging, drenching and vaccinating lambs. Work like this though is a little like playing though. Our flock is only small. It would be a different matter if we were dealing with thousands of animals like on large farms.
Oliver was in need of a pedicure. Periodically we have to trim his spurs as they annoy him when he walks. The procedure is quick and easy, just like cutting fingernails. The hardest part of the exercise is actually catching the chook.

The cute factor on the farm has increased considerably. We have a turkey sitting on a clutch of various eggs, a chocolate Indian Runner on six eggs and a clutch of five Indian Runners hatched out. These little guys were a surprise. I wasn't sure how long the mother duck had been sitting but obviously it was long enough. Now if I was just quick enough to catch one.
I've missed reading my favourite blogs and I think I will have a little catch up now.