Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's mushroom and grape season

Autumn is always a rush. There's picking to be done everywhere you look. I madly pick berries, cut cabbages, dig up spuds and pull carrots.

The grapes have been patiently waiting for me.  After Himrod, our wonderful eating grape, all got eaten by the birds before I could get the nets on, I have been keeping a watchful eye on the other vines.

Finally I picked, and now I am making juice.  Last year we made wine, not particularly successfully.  Initial tastings of "Albie's Feet" were not pleasant.  Sharp and acrid. Not sure if a few years will help that along or not?

But I made some jars of juice which we have loved. So this year I decided, no wine, just juice.

I destalked the grapes, cooked them till the skins were soft and the juice ran, sweetened them a little with sugar before packing them into empty wine bottles.  Finally I processed them in a water bath for 10 minutes. Grapes are high in acidity and so the water barth doesn't need to be very long.

So far, I have done the Pinot Noir and the Pinot Gris.  Only Sauvignon Blanc to go.
Packed bottles after processing in the waterbath
You can do all sorts of fancy things to remove the cloudyness like putting the cooked juice in the fridge for 48hrs then straining off, etc, etc.  But this will be just nice enough for us, thanks!

My poor flat smells of mushrooms, which isn't as nice as smelling of wine. I have been drying my pickings in the oven and the dehydrator.
Mushrooms growing in our orchard

What will I do with all these?

And more from the roadside!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Teaching my son to cook - continued - Steak/garlic butter with Tabouleh Salad

Hamish, try this!  This is my favourite salad of all time - Tabouleh.

When I moved to Australia at 18yrs old a whole new world of food was opened up for me.  Having come from Dunedin where the extent of takeaways was Chinese or Burgers, and eating in a restaurant meant steak and chips, Sydney was a revelation.

This includes steak, but pairs it with the first salad I learnt to make in Australia.

Tabouleh- traditionally made with cracked or Bulgar wheat, it is just as nice with Cous Cous and way simpler to make.

- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Mint
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh Parsley
- 1 chopped tomato (finely diced)
- 1 cup Couscous or Bulgar wheat, cooked
The couscous has to be made according to the packet, it takes about 5 mins, but then you have to let it cool.  So follow the very easy instructions an hour or two before making the salad.  If the couscous is hot the fresh mint will go black and revolting.

Mix everything together in a bowl, and then squeeze over the juice of a lemon.  You might like to add a little olive oil to soften the flavour, but I like it sharp!  so use your own judgement there.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and it's ready.

Steak: Use rump or my favourite, ribeye.   Heat the pan till very hot, add some butter (a small knob) then the steak, cooking hard till it browns well and blood rises to the upper side of the steak.  (about 5 mins) then turn over.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook another 5 mins or so.

While its cooking make Garlic Butter.  Chop one clove of garlic finely and mix with about 2T butter.  Roll in some tinfoil and leave to cool in the fridge.

There you have it, Steak and Tabouleh!

Shopping List
Fresh Mint
Fresh Parsley
1 Tomato
1 Lemon

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hope arrives in the Garden

It has rained! and rained, and rained.  We have a rain gauge attached to the fence, and it collected 20mm of wet water.

The 'grass' can hardly believe it and has put a few green shoots out overnight,, tinging our lawn with hope.

Because of our family situation I have not been here to look after the vege garden, or the rose garden for that matter.  Today I drove up to spend the night here and I have worked in the vege patch all afternoon weeding, collecting rubbish, and even harvesting a few things.

Measly onions, great blackberries a few veges, and the first of our grapes

Ah, life feels so much better after rain!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Our first ever Apple harvest

I am so proud of my apple harvest this year, meagre though it is.  This is the first time we have had apples that look like edible apples.  Large, juicy, almost like something you would find in the shop.

Few in number, but they fill my heart!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

New Roses

With such an extensive garden I'm always looking at planting, what I should put where, how big it will grow and how expensive it is.

Lately I've been trying to take cuttings and grow from layered pieces of existing plants.

I travelled up to Motueka last week to visit my parents and while I was there we visited Tasman Bay Roses.
What a display in their growing paddock
The sales area, this was the best kept bit
 So many varieties, and colours, and fragrances! it was a pity that the yards were not better kept, for if someone had whizzed round with a weedeater it would look better.

They have rows and rows of roses as a "garden", which was unfortunately neglected.  The roses needed a prune, deadhead and a weedeat.  There didn't seem to be any order to the rows, with roses of different colours and types just lumped together.  No labelling had been done either, or pricing, which was a great disappointment.

I could not resist though, and bought a "Jude the Obscure" and something else which I can't bring to mind right now.

We also visited the Memorial Rose Gardens in Motueka, which were looking lovely.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Year of the Berry

Last year was the "Year of the Strawberry".  We picked kilos and kilos of them, in fact our freezer still has a few bags waiting to be used.

This year is going to be the "Year of the Berry".  Boysenberries, Raspberries and Currants.
Just over 3kg of Raspberries

over 3kg of Boysenberries

Getting ready to cook jam

Jam in progress

33 jars of Berry Jam, Done!

Last week I picked 8.5kg of fruit and made it up into jam, yielding 33 jars of mixed berry jam.  Enough to have one every fortnight for a whole year.  I can think of lots of things to use it for, jam flan, Bakewell tart, jam donuts and more.  Hmm, must get my pinny on.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Those pesky birds!

I have started netting to deter birds.

Despite my earlier post with pictures of christmas decorations in Cherry trees, I have bitten the bullet and started netting.  As soon as the cherries went red the birds started.  There is such a good crop of cherries in the tree that I am pretty desperate to keep them so we can enjoy eating fresh ones at Christmas.  It's only one week away.

When we first moved onto our property it was just two enormous paddocks of broom. I remember noticing that there were no birds, and I thought it was because it was too hot and dry.  But as soon as we started planting trees and flowers the birds came.  We have starlings, thrushes, chaffinches, hawks, sparrows, oystercatchers, skylarks, yellowhammers, the odd fantail and even the other day I saw our very first NZ Falcon (v. exciting moment).

The boysenberries have also suffered from attention by the birds, so, on went the netting too!