Friday, April 29, 2011

Keeping it Real

I like blogs that have pretty pictures, delicious recipes, gorgeous gardens and sensational sewing but I'm very much aware that sometimes things don't go to plan. I have had two flops in the kitchen in the last two days. Just to keep the blog real, I decided to show them off.I made a chicken and lemon casserole for dinner tonight. It looked so good in the recipe book . I usually use recipes as a guideline and make adjustments along the way. Not today. It looked better than it tasted. The sauce was so bitter. I added some sugar and a dash of stock and it was edible but not enjoyable.

Yesterday I had apples on hand and made some apple and cinnamon muffins which were safe and delicious. Then on a whim I decided to use another apple for apple and custard tea cakes. I have made this recipe before and it was just fine. Yesterday however, it overflowed and dripped all over the oven tray. They were good as long as you ate them with your eyes closed.

I'm hoping my kitchen disasters (which really aren't that disastrous) are over for now.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Harvest Monday- 25 April 2011

Harvest Monday is hosted by Daphne from Daphne's Dandelions. There is plenty of inspiration for making the best of what has been harvested if you wish to check it out.

This weeks harvest tally at Sunny Corner Farm is 10.4kg which equates to about 23 pounds. This total was bumped up by a haul of over 5kilograms of limes. This afternoon I have been busy juicing and zesting and using some of the limes in some baked goods.

We have also had some great holiday type harvest meals. Pizza. It certainly was a harvest pizza. Herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, beans, capsicum, chilli and the tomato based sauce was homemade too. I ended up using spelt flour for the crust and it was delicious. No more white flour for our pizza crusts.

We seemed to eat our way around the world's cuisines this week. We had pizzas, lasagne, stir fry and Thai style red curry. The curry included lots of vegetables. Eeggplants, capsicum, onions, lime juice and carrots. Oh and a little basil too. The coriander is a bit too small to handle flavouring a curry just yet. It might not be authentic but it tastes good and that's what counts.
113 limes came off the tree last Tuesday. I think I have picked them all but they are sneaky and there just may be a few left behind. I have made a few baked items with the limes,lime cordial and some lime butter/curd but I'm at the stage where I am now just juicing them and freezing the juice in half or quarter cup quantities.

Lime Curd


Half a cup lime juice

100 grams butter

Half cup sugar

1 egg plus 3 extra yolks.


Combine butter and juice in a small saucepan over a low heat and stir until butter has melted.

Whisk in the sugar , eggs and the extra yolks.

Stir this mixture over the heat until it thickens (about 5 minutes).

Store in jars in the fridge. It can be used in place of lemon curd and is only a little more tart. My favourite way to have it is on meringues made with the egg whites left over from the lime curd recipe. A little whipped cream is nice on the meringues too. Although this recipe is for limes, it is quite adaptable and lemons, oranges or even passionfruit pulp can be used in place of the lime.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I know blog posts without pictures are not as interesting as those with but I just couldn't find one I was happy with today. One that wrapped up what has been happening at home and out and about. I have had my niece visiting for a couple of days. I know she had a fun time even if it meant being out of mobile phone range for 48 hours. Unfortunately the rest of her family were busy and couldn't make it for a visit. Maybe next time.

The days have been warm and the nights milder this week so the summer bounty is still hanging on. I am at that point where I am half hoping that I can remove them soon because there is only just so much space ina garden and the old must make way for the new. I'm ready for peas and brassicas instead of tomatoes and cucumbers. I still can't bring myself to pull things out prematurely. Maybe I need a bigger garden.

Easter has been quiet. We went out yesterday to a local festival but with Tim at work over the whole Easter period, we stay close to home and enjoy the last few days of the school holidays. The kids are back at school on Wednesday and tomorrow they will be marching as part of the local ANZAC day ceremonies. Then home again for some baking and sewing.

I'm revamping the herb patch. It has been planted out in its current configuration for 8 years so it is due for a makeover. Half done, half to go. That might be done tomorrow too. I have loved these school holidays. We have had a few day trips but mostly been homebodies. Just what was needed and wanted.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Slow Fast Food

The school holidays sometimes involves some sort of fast food consumption. I'm grateful that the kids didn't ask for any of the popular mass produced fast foods. On occasion we do have regular fast food but I much prefer the home grown and home cooked kind.They were all hungry today and sandwiches didn't appeal for lunch so I made them hot chips. I had just dug up some purple Sapphire potatoes and I was going to use them for gnocchi but I thought purple chips might look and taste good. Par-boiled, drained, coated in olive oil and roasted in a hot pre-heated oven (240 deg C). They come out crunchy and not greasy at all.

The heat from chips steamed up the lens a little but they did taste good. The white chips were good too. They were coliban potatoes and just as good as the purple. I'll give the gnocchi a go next time.

I was planning to give the garden a rest from potatoes next year but when I think about all of the heirloom varieties that are only available when homegrown, I don't think I want to give them up. If I have to rely on store bought, I won't be able to have as much fun in the kitchen.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How To Grow Rice at Home

At least how I grew rice in my backyard anyway. I'm sure there are plenty of ways to do it but this is what worked for me. I should mention that my climate is generally hot and dry in the summer and the rice was grown in full sun. It may not be as successful in a cooler climate or one where the growing season is short. In a cooler area it would probably be best to grow it in a bucket just as an experiment or for fun/interest. The whole family got involved in this project which I was grateful for especially when it came time to thresh and de-husk.

The first step is to procure some seed. Just simple brown rice from the supermarket is fine. I used biodynamic rice as I wanted something that hadn't been overly treated or processed.

In my experiment, I used an old bathtub filled with compost as a growing medium. The compost was not sifted and was quite moisture retentive and thankfully relatively weed free. This made it ideal. The growing area was about 0.8 square metres and eventually provided us with 400 grams of rice to eat. Enough for a meal.

I soaked the seeds overnight and then directly sowed them onto the flooded bed. Over the course of the summer, I maintained the soil moisture but it was not necessary to flood the bed. Just kept it moist.

The first shoots appeared after about a week and it grew rapidly. It took 23 weeks to the day from planting to harvest. It is a low maintenance crop. All the work comes after the harvest.

The seeds heads develop and about a month later, they have browned off and are nodding and ready to harvest. At this stage it is a good idea to ease off with watering which allows the grains to continue to ripen and dry out.

To harvest such a small amount, it is easy enough to just cut below the seed heads and then allow them to dry out further in a sunny, dry spot. Threshing a small amount can be done by stripping the seeds from the plant by hand. The tough job is removing the husks. Once you have tried it, you can see why it is done by machine and why we buy rice rather than grow it.

The way I removed the husks was by using a mortar and pestle to gently rub the grain and dislodge the hull. This still proved tedious and after winnowing, many grains had to go back for a second or third turn in the mortar and pestle.

The rice can be stored then or enjoyed straight away. One thing is for sure when you have processed the rice yourself, you will make sure the meal is something special with the rice as the star.

Growing rice has sparked a whole grain growing frenzy in our home. I now have spelt, oats and rye in and plans for other grains next summer. Yes, I will grow rice again next summer even if it is tedious to process. Next time I will try growing in regular garden beds as well as the container system. It was a great learning experience and the kids enjoyed it too. I would like to especially thank my husband ,Tim, for his efforts in processing the rice once it was harvested. Thankfully he doesn't give up easily.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Harvest Monday- 18 April

This week my harvest total was 1088 grams/ 2.4 pounds. It was a mixed bag of vegetables hanging on from summer- tomatoes, cucumber, beans, capsicum, beetroot and some late corn. The corn was surprisingly sweet even if on the small side. I much prefer quality over quantity any day. There are still a few more cobs in the garden but they won't last long.

The lettuce and rocket are really growing well and I'm picking leaves as we need them. We have been enjoying salads with Amish Deer Tongue lettuce, brown mignonette and Lettuce Reines des'glaces. I can't really discern much of a taste difference between the varieties but they all look different and make the garden sound a little more exotic.

Another exotic that we tried for the first time tonight is the African Horned Cucumber. I picked it at an immature stage and it had a cucumber flavour but with less of a crisp texture. It was quite spiky and I really only grew it as a novelty. I don't think it will be on my planting list next spring.

I'm very happy that my broadbeans are up and growing well. I will put in some more seeds in a week or two. Broadbeans are something I had never tried until I had a large garden and now I love them.

Thanks to Daphne for hosting Harvest Monday.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cake Weather

The cool weather is most definitely right for cakes. Both making them and eating them. I receive the free River Cottage newsletters and in one of the most recent was a recipe for a lemon madeira cake. It tempted me enough to make it. The recipe called for two lemons but as I only had one lemon and still an abundance of limes, I used one lemon and one lime. It was delicious. I decorated it with hearstease blossoms which made it look quite delicate and pretty.
A perfect afternoon tea by the fire.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Table runner...done and posted

I did complete the sewing that I set out to do last week. I stuck with a fairly simple style as my swap partner didn't give me many clues as to what she would prefer just the guidelines of nothing too pastel. I think I covered that pretty well. I don't really have many pastel fabrics in my stash anyway. Apart from the backing and the white, the fabrics I used came from Bec. I'm glad I have some left over too because I really liked the colours. Thanks Bec. We spent another day In Uralla and Armidale yesterday. The weather was beautiful until the afternoon when the typical autumn afternoon coolness crept in. Instead of coming home via the highway, we detoured via Walcha. I always enjoy travelling through Walcha because I get to see my dream home, Langford. It is a beautiful, grand house and a trifle ostentatious but I could handle that I'm sure. I just satisfy my desire for a big, old mansion by choosing that style of accommodation whenever we travel. All the fun without the expensive upkeep. Today is chilly. I'm even thinking about lighting the fire. It would be nice and the kids will love it. I'll do it. Tracy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grain and Cake

unripe lemons

apricot tree

The lemons and the apricot tree have nothing to do with grains or the cake I baked today but they did appeal to me when I was in the orchard with my camera this morning. I love the structure and colour of the apricot tree. It is starting to lose its leaves in its understated fashion unlike the really showy deciduous trees that get all the attention in autumn.

Today I planted out some grain seeds. In the ground are rye, oats and spelt. Just small experimental plots of 6feet by 6feet. We don't have a rotary hoe or plough so everything is done with a maddock or hoe. It's a good workout to say the least.I'm hoping to sow some lucerne this afternoon. Dinner is in the crockpot so there is nothing to stop me.

We did stop for a break of tea and cake.

Pear and Honey Cake


150 grams butter

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 and 3/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

2 pears

2 eggs

1 tbs apricot jam


Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin.

Combine butter, honey and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Heat until butter has melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Place flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix to combine. Peel, core and dice 1 pear. Add the diced pear, eggs and the butter mixture and stir until combined.

Pour into tin and smooth the surface.

Peel and core the other pear and slice thinly lengthwise.

Arrange the pear overlapping on top of the batter.

Brush with warm jam.

Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

We had it warm from the oven with a little bit of cream. Tonight I will serve it warm with custard for dessert. It is quite a moist cake because of the pears and will keep for a few days in an air-tight container.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pear, Ginger and Chocolate Chip Muffins

After a brief trip to town this morning to donate blood and to return library books, I spent the afternoon taking it easy at home. No heavy garden work, just a potter in the orchard. Moved some sheep around and a little bit of baking. We have some pears that need to be used so today I made muffins which I freeze for Tim to take to work for morning/afternoon tea and tomorrow I am going to make a pear and honey cake.

Pear, Ginger and Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients 2 cups self raising flour 1 cup brown sugar 2 pears peeled, cored and chopped 3/4 cup chocolate chips 60 grams butter, melted 2 eggs 3/4 cups milk

Method Preheat oven to 180 deg C . Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Add pears and chocolate chips and mix gently until evenly distributed. Combine melted butter, eggs and milk in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 2/3 fill muffin cases with the mixture and bake for about 20 minutes.

Best eaten when warm.

Tomorrow I'll post the pear and honey cake.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Harvest Monday- 11 April 2011

This week 2.2kg/ 4.8 pounds made it from garden to kitchen. I harvested the first of the butternut pumpkins because we had roast lamb for our Sunday night meal and I just couldn't resist. The pumpkin was sweet and I much prefer the butternut to the golden nuggets which have been our only source of pumpkin for months. It has pretty much been a mixed harvest. Tomatoes, chillies, herbs, salad leaves, beans, zucchini and capsicums. I'm not a huge fan of capsicums but I like to use them to make a relish that is both sweet and spicy. We have had quite dry weather after the flooding of late last year. So dry in fact that one of our water tanks was emptied on Friday morning. Thankfully, we have enough water storage tanks to ensure that we don't run out of water. The 43mm of rain that we had overnight has gone a long way to refilling the empty tank too. I think even when you rely solely on the rain for your water supply, you can become a little complacent and everyone here is going to be more vigilent with their water usage. There are more Harvest Monday post to read over at Daphne's Dandelions. Tracy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sew Sew

Tonight I am having a sewing bee. I have a table runner to finish up for a swap and it needs to be posted this week. I am determined to have it done and in the mail on Tuesday when I go to town to donate blood. No pictures yet but by tomorrow it will hopefully be a different story. I figure if I write it here, I will have to live up to it. Ofcourse I will be multi-tasking. Sewing while watching one of my favourite television shows, Are You Being Served. I probably shouldn't admit to that.The girls in Uralla
Not a very good image of the cross stitch I started on Thursday. I actually received the kit from my sister last September for my birthday so I feel a little guilty not having started yet. I'm looking forward to having this one on the wall so I think I will make good progress with it. I'm also still working on my tea cup cross stitch but it is in its final stages. Just the border to go. Hooray. Tracy

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Day (or two) visiting the tablelands

Tim spent a few days this week working at Uralla fire station so the girls and I decided to tag along. They are on school holidays so it was nice to have a little vacation without going too far from home. It was a bit difficult leaving home by 5am both mornings and we were all weary by the time we drove home in the evenings.The weather on Thursday was delightful. Typically autumn with lovely sunshine and just a hint of coolness. The trees in Uralla are just starting to turn and the parks and gardens were looking good even if a little on the dry side. We did the town heritage walk which had some interesting buildings and landmarks.

The girls made the most of the playgrounds in the town. This picture was taken in Alma Park which was lovely. The gardens were beautiful and the girls ruled this playground as the best in town.

My favourite place was Gostwyck Chapel. It is about 11km out of town and you drive up to it through an avenue of elms. It was peaceful and had a real Anne aura about it. I wish that my sister was there too because she is a kindred spirit and we could have had a lovely time enjoying the weather, the surrounds and cross stitching while the kids played.

Friday was damp and cold. We drove up to Armidale, window shopped and went to the Gold Fishbowl Cafe. The coffee was good and the woodfired sourdough bread was even better. The cafe has a very hipster air with its cushioned milk crate seating and mismatched decor. Like a little bit of the inner city in the country.

Tim and I will head back to Armidale and across to Inverell in a couple of months for our anniversary so I took the opportunity to secure some lovely accommodation.

Today however is back to my real life. Gardening, washing, housework, ironing, baking, sewing but not necessarily in that order. I love it.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vitual Decluttering

Today I'm taking advantage of the windy conditions and spending some time inside. I decided it was high-time for some virtual decluttering. I have files on the computer that are past their usefulness and many, many pictures that needed to be put on cd before printing.

Tim and Tracy

I thought this portrait that Hope took wasn't too bad. There were some keepers amongst the pictures but I'm not sure I need too many pictures of Tom's dartboard as evidence of a great score or of Hope's Polly Pockets performing various activities. I just never know what will be on the camera.

I think I have burnt almost 1000 images to cd and I'm very much in need of a rest from this small screen. Thankfully the garden wants watering and I'm up for the task.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Harvest Monday- 4 April

Lots of fresh produce has passed through the kitchen this week. I have a glut of limes to be processed into all sorts of tart goodness. So far we have had lime sorbet, lime delicious and coconut muffins with lime syrup. The next phase will be to preserve some of these lovely fruits for later but right now we are just enjoying them fresh.

The March harvest tally for this year was 21.918kilograms which equates to about 48.32 pounds. Things will slow down a bit now as there will definitely be a lull between summer crops and winter bounty though when the pumpkins come in, they will bump up the totals.

The first three days of April I harvested limes, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumber, chilli, eggplant, zucchini, basil, thyme, beans, capsicum, rocket and spring onion. A grand total for the three days of 5.4kg.

My favourite way to cook and eat is not by deciding what to cook and then selecting the ingredients but by going outside, looking at the ingredients growing in the garden and letting that decide the best meal for us. The best days are when the fridge is empty but the garden is full.

This week we have eaten curries, homemade pizza, tomato soup, stir fry and last night just a platter of fresh veg, cheese and some pickles. Humble, rustic home cooked/prepared dishes that nourish the body and the spirit.

The change over from daylight savings back to standard time has been a boon after only two days. I'm a morning person and I feel like I have now got an extra hour in the morning to potter about. Maybe I will even have some time for some craft before everyone else wakes up.

Now it's Chilli Basil Beef stir fry for dinner. Quick, easy and delicious.

Pop over to Daphne's blog to see other delicious harvests.