Monday, October 31, 2011

The Place to Be

I have the herb garden all sorted with mulch and in a state of orderly chaos that I like best. Too neat and formal and the maintenance would be beyond my time constarints. The place to be right now though is under the jasmine covered arch. The scent is sublime and one of my favourites.

The table above is where Tom is doing most of his study for his exams. I don't think I would get much effective study done there, I would be too distracted but he seems to be coping. Only chemistry and physics left to do and then the long wait for results before university offers.

The house is also resembling itself now too. Extra bedding washed and packed away and normal routines back in place. At least until the weekend when we will have Grace's party for her friends. This afternoon I am going to experiment a little in the kitchen and make some rose syrup. There are some very sweet roses in bloom so I'd like to make something that captures that besides pot-pourri. If it is a success then I will post a recipe but if not, I will most likely never speak of it again.


Sunday, October 30, 2011


As I said last week, my sister and her two sons came to visit over the weekend. Fun times were had by all but we are all completely exhausted. She was a very appreciative audience for offerings from the kitchen. So much so that she ordered the asparagus pizza for lunch on arrival and then perused the cookbook and suggested (very wisely too) the curried sweet potato soup for dinner the next day. Only a sister would be so bold.

Grace had her birthday cake which was completely luscious and too much for even the nine of us to eat. Grace's biggest fan is her little cousin Ted. He calls her Mary and is relentless in his adoration of Grace. Her patience with a four year old is to be commended.

The cake was inspired by the latest Donna Hay magazine. I couldn't make the icing as white as that in the magazine but I'm a little dubious about the authenticity of magazine pictures sometimes. I also didn't make the cake into six layers, four was quite enough. The proof was in the taste though and it was lovely.

Farm activities also go down well with little boys and Ted loved having the freedom of Sunny Corner Farm. The baby being eight weeks was completely adrift, and unsettled so I'm hoping that now he is safely back home he can be the good baby that he is and let Kelly get a little more sleep.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today is Grace's 14th birthday and I just wanted to tell the world what a lovely, sweet fourteen year old she is. She has a full day with school and orchestra this afternoon but we are going to squeeze in a little after school afternoon tea at her favourite cafe and then presents tonight. Tomorrow my parents, sister and nephews will be visiting so the celebrating will be a little more elaborate. Not too elaborate though, a bbq and then a chocolate cake. Nothing too fancy, we are saving that for the high tea next weekend.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Banana Fruit Loaf

You never realise how much you like something until you can't have it.Bananas had been off my shopping list since cyclone Yasi made them unaffordable but they are back in my basket. I have missed them a lot. Bananas are one of the few fruits that I let creep in beyond the local eating parameters. Bananas and mangoes, I just can't say no to them. The availability of the new season fruit and also some stiff competition amongst retailers has even allowed me to buy enough to make a banana fruit loaf. It is sweet and moist but with a little bit of a healthy feel to it because of the fruit. It is a great loaf to serve warm and for those who are wont to, with a little butter. Besides that, it is easy peasy.

Banana Fruit Loaf

2 cups mixed dried fruit
1 cup black tea (I use Chai)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 and 2/3 cups self raising flour

Preheat oven to 180 deg C and grease and line a loaf tin.
Boil the kettle and make two cups of tea, one to drink and one for the cake.
Soak the dried fruit in the tea for about 10 minutes or the time it takes to drink your tea.
Combine all the ingredients together and mix until combined.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 65 minutes. It may take a little longer so test the cake with a skewer to see if it is done.
Allow to cool slightly and then turn out onto a wire rack.

As the kids don't particularly like this cake I usually slice it up when it is cool and pack the slices in the freezer separately. That way they can be defrosted and toasted or warmed in the microwave as desired.


Sunday, October 23, 2011


Further to my ramblings about garden love, it appears that I was a little hasty with my professions of weed control. The main rose garden was in danger of being overrun by the oats that had sprung up from the mulch.

It is now in better shape with the weeds removed and the chooks moving in to help with the clean up. I can now see the gorgeous blooms and pick some too without having to wade through the grass. Right now, Graham Thomas and Seduction are at their best with a few other varieties just about ready to take over as they start to fade.

Saturday was hive day. We installed the swarm we caught in the newly painted pink hive and also took some frames from the established hives for extraction. Not the frame above, not enough of the cells were capped but it does look lovely. There are a lot of eucalypts in flower right now and the bees have an abundance of honey and plenty of time to make more for both us and them.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turkeys today

Vickie the mother turkey is the most patient and dedicated broody, she can rival any bantam. Last year she hatched out two clutches of eggs in the season and as it is so early in the season, I think she will this year too. So far we have six baby turkeys which she introduced to the outside world today. They only stay cute for a few weeks and I am guessing that they will be a hit with the girls at Grace's birthday party.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Garden Love

I always love my garden, it provides me with so much. Exercise, nourishment, fun and perhaps most importantly, joy. I am however not always in love with the garden. When the jobs to do seem a little overwhelming, it can become just another chore rather than my passion. Not right now though. There is plenty that needs to be done but it is wonderful to do. The weather is right, a little rain and sunny days. The plants are zooming along and I have the weeds under control (for now).

My favourite place to be is the herb garden and I will take some pictures to post soon. I am finding that because everything in the herb garden is so lush, I am working that little bit extra to incorporate it into our meals. I have had to do some culling in the herb beds though and have been left with some empty spaces. I have used some volunteer plants- lavenders, oregano, parsley and southernwood to fill some gaps but there is so much room for new and interesting plantings. On my trip to town tomorrow morning I am going to make time for a visit to the nursery and a visit online to All Rare Herbs too.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

River Cottage Lunch

It may be quite some time before I actually have lunch at one of the River Cottage establishments but nothing stops me from having it at home. I used Hugh's recipe from the River Cottage Veg Every Day! book to make up Sunny Corner Farm version of a very satisfying baguette with broad beans and asparagus.

It was completely delicious and didn't suffer from my improvisation of home made bread rolls and cream cheese rather than goats cheese.

The chickens have been having the best time too. Their foraging is getting beyond what I am happy with, a little too free range. When they see me turning soil or weeding, they are there. It appears that I am the source of all things delicious to chooks. I am not about to lock them up (not yet) but I am seriously considering electric poultry netting as a control mechanism. I'm just trying to decide if the $300 price tag is worth it.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I have posted about hospitality before or rather the lack of opportunity I have to open our home to others. Not for long though. Grace wants to have a birthday party this year and I have agreed to it. Her plan is to have a high tea style affair at the end of the month for about seven girls. I love that my girl wants to do something like that rather than something noisy or a sleepless sleepover. Hope on the other hand wants to have a Doctor Who themed party when it is her birthday in December. I'm not sure what we will do for that but she will know.

My biggest issue now is that when you don't entertain even on a small scale, you get out of practice. Although I shouldn't, I am succumbing to a little bit of the "I'm not good enough" mentality. That isn't what it is about afterall. When I go to someone's home, I don't mind what their house or gardens are like, I just enjoy the friendship they are offering.

Grace has picked out all of her favourite recipes for dainty morsels (the list grows daily) which should have us busy cooking for days. Apparently the girls are planning on being very grown up and lady-like for the afternoon tea and then they are going to go outside and be themselves. It should be fun.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

I need to toughen up

I have once again let the hearstease proliferate in the vegetable garden. It is just so pretty that I can never bear to pull it out so it pops up year after year. It is an easy plant to remove so not a problem really. I have also allowed the lettuce to grow and grow wherever they like. I figure if they self-seed in a spot then it must be the ideal place for them to grow.

I am toughening up though, cosmos are definitely coming out as soon as they show their first little leaves. I know it has a nice flower but it is weedy and a nuisance. Especially in the vegetable garden.

Another prolific seeder that I let go is borage. Yesterday I removed a heap from the paths in the vegetable garden but left these ones alone. The bees are loving them right now so they can stay for now at least. Until I need the space for tomatoes.

The bees were still happily foraging here right up to nightfall and the buzzing was LOUD.


Friday, October 7, 2011

On My Mind- My garden

I'm joining in Rhonda's "On My Mind" posts. To read her post and those of other participants, just pop over here. My garden and in particular the vegetable garden is front and centre on my mind. I have plenty of seedlings in the little propogating/ germinating house. They are waiting for that crucial time when the weather is right and they are safe from the frost and also when there is room for them too.

These yellow podded peas are a while off being finished so that is a bed which will have to wait for spring/summer plantings.

I noticed a few globe artichokes just poking their baby heads up through the leaves today. They are gorgeous. A stunning plant that is probably best grown somewhere besides the vegetable patch because they really do take up a lot of space. I always have the urge to touch the leaves because they look so unfriendly but are in fact soft and lush.

When I think about my food garden, it is always with the kitchen in mind. If I see a recipe that intrigues me, I will grow the vegetable just for it. I am grateful that I have the room to do that. I am always collecting new ideas for cooking our produce and keeping our diet interesting, healthy and tasty.


Thursday, October 6, 2011


Cold weather and a cold in my head. For the past week or so I have been laid low with a head cold which has thankfully is now leaving my system. I think my nephew, Ted, was the culprit to thank for the cold but in all honesty, it was more likely my strong country immune system couldn't stand up to the rigours of the Sydney public transport system.

I spent Saturday in bed and even the temptation of Devonshire tea and a quilt airing in Nundle couldn't persuade me to head outdoors. The quilt airing was cancelled due to the rainy weather so the cold didn't make me miss everything.All is well now and I am back at the helm of my little home. Thankfully, energetically and excitedly.