Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What's in my garden

We are flooded in once again, although we can get out to Emerald or Blackwater for groceries if we need to. I couldn't be bothered - well that is until we run out of coffee! I decided that I should take stock of what we have and what's in the garden. My garden efforts have been pathetic! It has been so hot for the last couple of months that most plants just die! Also, we have turkey's and we can't seem to keep them out of the house yard - it was the only green place, so you can't blame them. Anyway, my garden is quite overgrown - I think that the grass helps to keep the plants that are hidden in there somewhere some shade. Also by keeping green plants, even if it is grass, we are building carbon. Also, we have a grass here called green panic and I think it makes quite a good companion plant. It doesn't seem to compete for moisture like other grasses.
The grass is green panic, but there is a passionfruit vine along the tank, some turmeric and ginger, strawberries in there somewhere and then bananas at the back - two bunches on. I have started digging, but it will take a while.
Cassava - we had some chips last night and I'm roasting some with my roast pork tonight. I only use the roots - can you use the leaves as a vegetable? Hiding behind the casava is eggplant (loaded), then I have comfrey, brazilian spinach, some herbs and then there is a capsicum/chilli.

I bought the above plant at a street stall - supposedly a capsicum, but it does have a slight bite. It's only about 2 cm long. Has anyone ever seen these? I really like them and will try and keep some seeds, but am not sure whether they will grow true to type.

I also have some beans - the ones that survived the turkey scratching and a guada bean. I like this one, because they ensure that we have plenty of greens for a while!

And finally I have some pumpkin vines growing - it has been way to hot for them, so hopefully they will grow and won't get overtaken by the grass!

So we won't starve, even though my garden isn't real flash! We do however, have plenty of milk for yoghurt, fetta cheese, butter, cream, as well as meat - fish (we swap for meat), beef, goat, pork, duck and chicken - the latter are all home grown!

I do love being "almost self-sufficient".

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's Raining, It's Pouring......

Wow, we've had some rain. It started about midnight Wednesday night and now at midday Friday, we've had over 225mm (9 inches). Everything is very wet and we'll be quite happy if it lets up a bit. Our property is isolated from town in all directions. I've taken some photos this morning, and will put more on the photo page.

This country was brown and the grass all burnt off before the rain - it's greening up already. I think it helps that we have had this paddock resting - the grass just recovers instantly.

This is our new dam - it was only built a few months ago. One thing you don't want when you build a new dam, is to get ALOT of rain in one go. This dam, also didn't have a high enough bank. It should bywash before getting this close to the top of the wall. The next photo shows what happens........
when you get too much water to quick. We saw this happen - the water was gone in seconds! The ideal situation would be to get some small falls of rain, so that the water flows into the dam gently and the dam wall has time to firm up before getting storm rain. We haven't had much rain at all since it's been built!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I got a bit carried away over the Christmas period and bought a lot of fruit. We didn't really have enough people here to eat it all so I decided that I either preserve it some how or wait until it goes off and compost it! I was VERY fortunate to get a Thermomix from my fantastic family (it will be my Christmas and birthday present for the next 5 years!!!) Anyway, so what have I done.......

Pineapples - we've been buying some lovely little rough leaf pines for a while now - grown locally at Yeppoon and to me, they are the best pineapples you can get. They are sweet and juicy and I've never seen them in the shop for as long as they have been this year (well last year really!). I had about 8 that I didn't think would last much longer, so I got the Fowlers Vacolla gear out. I made a sugar syrup and managed to fill 4 jars with chopped pinapple and because I had enough syrup and jars, I did one with sliced mango. I didn't cook the fruit at all, just sliced it and put it into the jars and then poured the hot syrup over. Into the pot and boiled for about 20 minutes. The jars all appear to have sealed well and they look really pretty!

I had some strawberries in the freezer - these were homegrown and just the odd shaped ones that no one wanted to eat. I only had 250g so had put off doing anything with them - I had planned on making jam, but it was a bit of a pain for such a small amount. Not when you have a thermomix though! I just put in the fruit and sugar, set the temperature, time and speed and went and did other things while it cooked. I only got about 1/2 a jar, but it was easy and so yummy - especially on fresh homemade bread with my own fresh raw cream!!!

Then because I had left over plums and cherries that were getting passed their useby, it was straight into the thermomix - this time I got two jars of jam - it's also good with bread and cream!

Mangoes - we had some common mangoes (these are the stringy ones, but tasty). The last couple of years I've slice and dried them, but this year I've just frozen them. I sliced them and spread on trays in the freezer, and then just bagged them. This way you can just take out what you want for a smoothie or icecream....or frozen mango/vodka slushies, which we had over Christmas! Recently it was frozen mango, cream, yoghurt and egg yolk, whipped together and then put into the icecream maker....YUM. We also made a huge batch of mango chutney - very good with roast pork on sandwiches.

Bananas - we had another bunch recently and in this heat they all seemed to ripen at once, so they too have gone into the freezer - just freeze as they are, skin on. For smoothies or banana cake, just need to defrost enough so that they can be peeled easily.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Spontaneous Dinner Party

I recently made a short notice trip to visit my brother and his wife. Got there just in time for drinks on the front lawn - very civilised when you visit people on holidays! Another brother turned up with his partner for dinner so it was a nice treat. It was made even better when we started eating and so much of the food was homegown, homemade or local.

One of my sons had given me some red claw to take with me. This had been previously wild caught and frozen. My brother who also turned up for a visit brought some home made cheese - he's been on holidays and has been busy working his way through his cheese making book.

So with a bountiful garden and home preserves, cooking up a feast is not difficult when you get unexpected guests.

We started out with cheese and home grown/home preserved pickles - cucumbers and baby corn. I was really taken with the corn (and we did include some not so local salami and crackers!). The entree featured the red claw, cooked in a chilli sauce, served with a squeeze of lime! They were delicious, and the only problem being that there weren't enough!

Main course was my nephews job and was a really nice Chicken Bake - including freshly picked pumpkin and herbs.

Desert was a great finish with some local mango frozen yoghurt.

I always get excited when I eat food that is local and fresh. It really does taste better. I think that it's easy to cook good food with good ingredients. It's impossible to cook good food with bad ingredients. Therefore the fresher the ingredients, the more likely that they will be good! I just wish I had taken some photos, as my family are all really good cooks! And we all love our food!