Friday, December 31, 2010

End of Year 2010

The end of this year looms.  Tonight the magic happens, and we move into 2011.  Looking back through my blog it is exciting to see what adventures I have had in my garden.  All the recipes, the good, the bad, and the ho hum. 

Artichokes have featured well! 

We have not done so much "hard" work as in previous years.  Building of garden beds and paths were mostly in place, so it was nice to focus on the growing of plants. 

Now we are in Amberley and new gardening adventures await...I'll keep you posted. 

May 2011 bring you health, happiness and many happy gardening hours.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Dilemma

So, we have moved to Amberley. All packed, all transported, mostly unpacked, well....almost mostly unpacked.   My garden is in the unknown hands of our well meaning tenants.  I have left the raspberries to their fate, and the boysenberry.  Please let them be kind to the roses, and tend to the compost, and remember to water the veges.

Amberley.  What is there here.  A large piece of lawn, and overgrown, grassed over flower garden and half a path.  I say "half a path" because when we first moved in there was no path, but a few paving stones visible at the back door, the rest was grass.  Or appeared to be grass.  A few slides of the shovel and more paving stones revealed themselves, then more, and then a whole half a path and a halfround of patio.  Like the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a path almost brought back to life.  I just need to spend a little more time.

The only other thing of any note is a large Grapefruit tree covered in glorious ripe grapefruits.  A small blessing amid such inauspicious beginnings.

First there was a school "fair" at Montana-Rose's school.  Tomato plants for $4.  I put in 6....Then I bought some of that basil "planted and ready to eat" which has been nurtured under lights and has only put it's roots down into hydroponic waters.    I stood fast and divided them up, and planted them into *gasp*, soil!  Their tops droop, and their insipid foliage looks very unhappy exposed to the elements.  But.....wait....I'll keep you updated.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beans on Toast - a la Anna

Pick your broad beans on a sunny morning, in your PJ's, before anyone has even got out of bed.  Shell them in the quiet of the kitchen while enjoying a coffee.  Pop the shelled beans in the fridge for later, and get on with the morning rush.

At lunchtime, take out the beans.  Put 1T of butter in a frying pan and heat up gently, add the broadbeans and 1 clove of crushed garlic.  Stand their gazing out the window and idly stirring the beans till they are almost cooked (about 3 or 4 mins), add 1T freshly picked thyme (the Central Otago kind, of course), and a grind of salt.  Let fry for about 2 mins more.  Stir in 2T cream cheese and swirl about till it breaks down to a slurry.  Pour over your toast of choice, in this case, I just put on fresh cheese topped bun.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cricket Ball Artichokes

My dinner last night, 3 cricket ball sized artichokes, with my own mayonnaise....

With a whizz stick in hand...put into a glass jug 1 egg, 2T white wine vinegar or similar clear coloured vinegar, the rind of one lemon peeled off, the lemon juice and 2 cloves of garlic.  Whizz till all is chopped up.  With the stick blending going, start pouring in oil of choice (something light, like Canola).  You will need to add at least a cupful.  Once it goes thick it is ready, if it isn't thickening just add more oil.

Pea Straw Magic

When we put the garden beds to sleep for the winter, we covered them in a thick layer of pea straw each.  With the spring tiny little shoots came up, then pea vines, and now peas!  I thought they would be straw from something industrial, like peabeans, or chickpeas...I'm not sure what I was thinking actually.  What came up appears to be Mangetout.  Wow, today I went out and picked a colander full, and there must be at least twice this amount again, ready to be harvested.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Artichokes are for Eating

The Artichoke is a fine plant.  It is such a great grey, with large spikey leaves and a fabulous presence in the garden.  But the best bit is the artichoke itself, just eat it cooked, dipped in mayonnaise...mmmm

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't the Raspberries look great!

But I am dying to know if they will be ready before we move, first week in December.

If anyone knows how long from flower to fruit, please post in the comments.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Our lovely home is up for sale.  You can now secure yourself a small piece of paradise in Central Otago.

4 Bedrooms
1 Study
1 Bathroom
1 Toilet
1 Ensuite
1 Walkin Wardrobe
1 Playroom
Large Kitchen with 6  burner Gas Hob, and large oven, dishwasher
Separate Dining and Living areas
Large covered Veranda with access from 2 of the bedrooms and the living areas
1002 Sq Metres section
3 rows of grapes (1/2 Pinot Noir, 1/2 Pinot Gris)
Large Vegetable garden as viewed on this blog
Large grassed area with sandpit for children
Fully Fenced and private

Can be viewed at (note the kitchen photos on there are old, and now has kickboards fitted, and red paint etc)

Comes with 100m access to Lake Dunstan boat ramp for boating and swimming.  7km from Cromwell township.

Cauliflower Soup

We have just eaten the last of the Caulis in soup, very very nice:


Cut up one cauli into flowerets and put in pot with one leek, one carrot and one piece celery.  Cover with 500ml chicken stock.  Simmer till veges are soft, then puree.  Add 1 can evaporated milk, or 200ml cream.  Reheat but do not boil.  Season with salt and pepper.

It was absolutely delicious.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rose Wine...

I made some very suspect wine from our eating grapes in January, and on the container I had written "bottle up in August 2010".  I just did that on the weekend, but man, that stuff tastes bad so far! I hope that 3 years down the line, when it should be drinkable, that it actually will be!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The fruits of our labours are coming!

Even though we havent planted the vege garden this year, the good old faithfuls are still doing their wonderful thing.

Artichokes are forming on the huge plants we have, sending up small tennis ball sized ones that I know will soon be good for eating.

The raspberries are going crazying with a gazillion flowers, the whole bed is full of the promise of sweet raspberries.

Our new plants, both blackcurrant and gooseberry, are making their first fruit ever.  In fact the gooseberry flowered, and within a week has pea sized fruit on it which I imagine will grow so quickly I will be able to eat them before we go.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Rat Hunt

For those of you that don't know, we are having to leave our little patch of paradise, to  move to North Canterbury.

Much to my heart's regret, this means leaving our garden and starting all over again in a new place.

First the chooks had to go.  Our good friends Steph and Terry are going to have the house and 4 girls, and I sold off the other 7.  So moving day came for the house, but just as we were getting it onto the trailer a rat hunt got underway.

Isn't that the cutest, softest, fattest rat you ever saw!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cauliflower Heads

How did I grow these so big, my sister wanted to know.  I don't have the answer.  We put them in as autumn seedlings, and sometimes this is a big mistake (we have experienced "going to seed" as soon as spring starts).  This year, beautiful caulis.


Keep the head of cauli whole, and submerge in cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer about 5 mins till tender.

Put the whole head, cut stalk down, and pour over your own cheese sauce recipe.  Top with fresh breadcrumbs and bake till crisp and brown on top.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not so much happening

I just don't seem to have a lot of time at the moment, and the garden is raring to go.  The weather is settled, warm and wet.  It's perfect planting weather.  Who knows if there are frosts to come, I shouldn't rule it out, as we have had massive snowstorms before at this time of year, but I have been lulled into a lovely sense of security.

Yes, the garlic is in, so that was one job well done.  I have also dug in some of the pea-straw that was overwintering on the beds.  But only on a few of the gardens.  The rest make me feel guilty every time I look out the window, as they do need my attention.

We have moved some roses, and cleared out a bit of space where the tomatoes will go.  The remainder of the work may have to wait a few weeks.  It's hard to get motivated when there is so much else to do, washing for 5 kids, cleaning for 5 kids, picking up after 5 kids, and more.

The raspberries are coming out in green leaf, the willows I did actually do some work on a few weeks ago and pruned off lower branches.  They are now that beautiful fresh green.

Gordon Bennett, some time soon I will have to plant potatoes...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bottling up Elderberry Port Wine

Today is just about 6 months since I made up the first stage of the Elderberry Wine and put it into my cask.  Out came the cask this morning, and I steralised some wine bottles, tops and muslin.  Then Mark helped me to bottle the wine.

Only 3 years till its ready to drink!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Uh Oh, Spring is coming and I am not ready

I see the roses putting out new leaves, the lavender greening up, the garlic sprouting at a rate of knots and huge buds on the grapes.

I am not ready, help!  I haven't had time to do half the stuff I planned. Today I rushed out in a frenzy and cut the lavender back by 1/3 to give it a chance.  But on the way I saw so many things I havent done...pulled out the blackberries, tackled the winter weeds, moved the roses and some of the clematis.  Lordy, lordy, lordy, I can see it's all getting away from me already eeeek.

PS...cos I haven't killed the old chooks yet (ahem) and the new chooks are installed, we have 17.  And what do you know?  11 eggs yesterday, and 9 today :-)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Chickens for the Chop

Ever since the beginning of winter our chickens just haven't been doing their job.

We only have 7 hens now (since one got snaffled by a ferret, see earlier posts!), and we have been lucky to get 3 eggs a day, if that.  So, we have decided to give them the chop and put them in the pot.

A couple got a reprieve tho!  I took them to Little Wonders, for a new life with the kids.  Into an old guinea pig cage they went, new straw, made a bigger door then let them out.  The kids were great, really interested in what the chooks were doing scratching around the playground.  They helped fill water containers, fed them some of the lunch leftovers and had their photos taken with them.

The chooks rose to the challenge.  They were relaxed, happy, and got straight down to the business of being a chook!  no eggs yet, but watch this space.  The kids will be so excited if they get an egg or two!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's been a real mixed bag

Not only the weather!

First it was cold, freezing fog, frosts, snow and miserable.  Now we are having a week of "Psuedo Spring", it's warm during the day, (well if 10C is warm), and it feels kinda balmy.  The garden is in a false sense of security, the buds are out on the roses, and even the artichokes havent died off completely.

I pruned the grapes out the front, which involved a bit of wishful thinking.  When we "rescued" them, they had had their main arms cut off, so I am having to imagine which of the shoots sent up last year will become a permanent branch.  Anyway, I did my best...

The roses also had a look in.  I have pruned 2 of them, the 2 that are going to be moved.

Garlic has shoots up, and the onions (despite their teeny tiny size) have not died!  which has to be good...

Things have been pretty busy here, which is why I havent posted much.  We said a very sad goodbye to Luan, who went back to Brazil (with dreams of NZ still in his head) and said KiaOra to Majan from Germany.

Also, Mark is now working away during the week, leaving me with 5 kids to look after, as well as working about 25hrs per week!  jeepers, I am stuffed by the end of the week!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Garlic and Onions are in

I am sure that this is the time to plant Garlic.  In NZ they always say to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year.  It's pretty cold now, but garlic needs some cold weather to germinate.

I am not sure about the Onions tho'.  Mark found onion seedlings in the garden centre,and optimistically brought them home. I have duly planted some of them, and so far they are not dead.  That's got to be a good thing.

It's a waiting game now, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The first snow morning...

Teenagers and friends playing in the snow on the first snow morning.  Montana-Rose even made a "snow angel", awww

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A visit to Franz Joseph

Gee, I look so happy here LOL...(bad camera angles).  Anyway, behind us is the marvelous Franz Joseph Glacier.  An hours walk from the carpark, with 2 little kids, and 3 teenagers (who climbed rocks and ran about all over the place).   Then the hours walk back again, dragging both sets of children LOL!  The weather was sunny, fresh and just right for walking.  A very nice man at the start took a picture of all of us, here we are...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lindis Pass is closed

You can see why

Teaching Luan to cook

Luan is our student from Brazil.  He has been learning the secret ways of Edmonds cookbook cooking....herewith Chocolate Pudding!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Big and the Little

A big day cooking today.  When it's raining the Victorian hoarder in me comes out to play.  Both tomato pasta sauce and green tomato chutney.  Basically the tomatoes left from about 6 weeks ago have ripened as much as they are ever going to on the window sill, so the red ones became pasta sauce and the green ones chutney.  In fact they looked so beautiful on the stove....looky here...

A teeny, tiny egg today in the nests....

In among rain showers, torrental rain and a steady rainfall, I went out and dug up two shores of Red Rascal.  Beauties aren't they!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

There is snow on the Hills!

This time, not just a little, but a LOT.  Yesterday it was right down the foothills, and today it's raining down here and a little on the foothills is melting, but on the tops it's thick and fluffy white.

Luan is so excited... I drove him to Bannockburn and it snowed on the car.  I didn't dare drive past the tarmac road onto the gravel road as it was so slushy.  If I had been in the 4WD I could have taken him up to touch the snow.  However, if there's one thing I know from living here it's "the snow WILL come".  We even had a skiff at home here and Luan stood out in it and I took his photo, for posterity.

I dug some Red Rascal potatoes out of the garden.  If we leave them in too long I'm worried they will split in the rain or freeze in the frost.   Funnily enough our garden still seems to look quite good.  There are flowers on some of the roses, and carrots, brocolli and silverbeet still in the garden for eating.  The spring onions turned into "leeks" are still going strong too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Rain!

The chooks are looking quite bedraggled out in their yard.  I have upgraded their house tho...the other day I put clear plastic on over their window and door, so that in the winter they wont be quite so wet and cold as they were last year.  I remember when it snowed a lot of their house was pretty miserable and damp too, so hopefully the plastic will alleviate that.

In the absence of gardening I have been doing a little sewing (or upcycling!).  This red vest (on a particularly sulky looking 2yr old) was a merino jumper of mine that had developed some holes at the bottom.  I turned it into a vest for Albie, a pair of thumbholed wrist warmers for me and a cowlneck scarf for Montana-Rose....4 items out of it!! pretty pleased with that!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?

It's your guess!

Here's a hint, it's usually white, or pale yellow.

No?  Its mashed maori potatoes! cool huh! really lilac or purple in colour and it just tastes like mashed potato....

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Broad Beans and Pea Straw

Traditionally in NZ broad beans are planted on ANZAC weekend.  I am not sure what Mark and I were doing that weekend but we didnt plant our beans.  Last weekend we finally managed to put in 3 rows.  I am really the only one who appreciates them, I'm sure there are still some in the freezer from this years harvest.  It doesnt stop me though.  Not only is it rewarding to have something actually green in the garden over winter, but they are ready so soon in the spring and make a nice change to winter fare.

We also put a few bales of pea straw on our now-empty beds.  The humble plot is already looking so wintery, and bare, it felt like we were tucking them in with a duvet for the winter.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Capturing Autumn in a bottle

This is 2 and a half bottles of Rosehip Syrup, golden orange and fragrant....Central Otago is overrun by Sweet Briar Rose, it grows on all the hillsides and along all the roads, and will quickly take over and populate any farmers field.  The early settlers brought it to NZ so that they could make Rosehip Syrup as a source of vitamin C during the winter months.  

I'm really not sure how much Vitamin C is left once you have made it, to be honest.  But it sure does look and taste lovely and is well worth it. 

This recipe is close to the one that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall has on his website, but I have simplified it as I needed instant gratification!
1.    Cut your hips off the rose bushes, or pick by hand.  Take them home and weigh them.  For every part of Rosehips, weigh out 2 parts of sugar.
2.     Put them into a pot, and add about 2litres of water for each kilo of hips. 
3.     Whizz with your whizz stick, only enough to break up all the hips.
4.     Bring to the boil and then turn off and let them sit for 1/2hr.
5.     Strain through a muslin.  Return the squishy stuff in your muslin to the pan and add water....about half the amount which you did last time (this is new, fresh water).
6.     Bring to the boil, just like you did last time, then turn off and leave for 1/2hr.  Strain this through a muslin too.
7.     Put both strained liquids to one pot and add your sugar, then stir to dissolve.
8.     Boil 5 mins then put into steralised bottles and fill right to the top.

Apparently this will keep for ages, so long as there is no air in your bottles.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pass the honey, Honey

Lemon Honey, pots of it in my fridge...yellow, and creamy, and fragrant.  Possibly the best thing to have on toast:

Anna's Lemon Honey

Grate the rind of 4 lemons, squeeze the juice.  Put into a pot with 125g of butter, and 3c sugar.  Melt gently till all the sugar has dissolved.  Beat 4 eggs in a bowl, till well combined.  Slowely drizzle eggs into the lemon mixture.  Heat on a low heat till everything is thick and coats the back of the spoon.  Do NOT boil (this will curdle it and it will be spoiled).  Pour into hot steralised jars, and put on lids or jam tops.  Keep in the fridge.

It only keeps about 3 weeks, if your family can resist it that long!!!  It's really good to use for lemon meringue pie filling, and for little pastry tarts.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Peach tree is in

We bought a Peach Tree on a whim, a couple of weeks ago at the Nichols birthday sale.  It's been sitting in a bucket waiting to be planted, and finally we did that today.  On our front lawn.  Actually, I wasnt sure if it was the right place, only AFTER we had planted it.  I took the label off and had a read of it, (I know I should have looked before planting) and it said to "protect from frost in late winter, early spring as this can damage flowers and fruit".  Well, our front lawn tends not to get the sun in the winter until the afternoon and can sit with frost on it for hours.   I guess we will see if this is the right spot, only time and crossing of fingers will tell.

Two Lemon tress are on our veranda waiting to go into pots.  The idea is that we will move them under the veranda for the winter, and out into the lawn for summer.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quick, the tomatoes need picking, the rain is making them split

Well, rain is good for th garden, and I know I should  be happy.  But...the poor tomatoes are splitting round the tops.  Their skins have a little ring of split near the stalk, and I have had to go out and pick a whole lot before they are completely spoiled.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More RAIN at last

So, it has rained for the past 2 days and nights.  Torrential, heavy, wet and noisy.  It's been great.  The farmers are all talking about "drought-breaking rain", but all I can think of is that it might give us one last sprouting of mushrooms!

There is fungi of all sorts everywhere, and I wish I could identify more of it.  There were some shaggy ink caps hanging round the Swimcentre sign, looking very bedraggled.  And the silver birches all have the same kind of fungi growing round them, they look at bit like  field mushroom but with a dent in the centre of the cap, and a nasty poisonious looking white gill underneath.  I see others have been frustrated and turned them all over looking to see what they are too...or just kicking them over to get rid of them.

I did pick some lovely big horse mushrooms today!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I love Autumn - Walnuts & Apples

Today it was fresh and cool with a new dusting of snow on the tops of the mountains.  As the day warmed up, we have had blue open skies, no cloud, no wind, and it is clear and beautiful.  All the trees are turning yellow and losing their leaves.  I saw some Japanese tourists taking photographs of Jacksons Orchard, with their rows of yellow trees, all looking absolutely gorgeous.

It really is a very beautiful season.

Foraged today!  both walnuts and apples.  I have been working away on shelling walnuts and the apples are destined for apple jelly.

My heartfelt thanks to Linda who gave me 6 Quinces, which are now a clear, bright jelly in 3 jars on my bench.... a very guava-like colour.  They almost look too jeweled to ever eat.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Boar! thanks Steph & Terry

Our friends Steph and Terry have a pig trap and sometimes catch whole families.  This is the boar from a group of 6 pigs caught on their farm today.  2 boars (1 with tusks) and 4 sows.  This is the boar, now hanging in our garage for a few days before being cut up and frozen.  That should keep us warm for the winter.

For those readers who are interested in the farming life in New Zealand, Steph has a blog, and you can find a link in my blogs list on the right hand panel.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Matt's 3 course dinner

My Matthew, 14yrs, has an ambition, to be a chef in the airforce.  Tonight he decided to make us a special 3 course dinner.

We had:
*Prawn Cocktails*
*Chicken Pie*

He pored over the cookbooks and eventually produced a lovely meal...Didnt he do well!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Free Food....Rabbit and Crayfish

Nothing better than food you didnt have to pay for at the supermarket.  This Easter weekend we have had some treats indeed, first Rabbit Pie, then Crayfish Thermidor.

Rabbit Pie
Take your rabbits (2 will feed about 4 people), and simmer gently in water on the stove for about 4hrs till the meat is soft and will come away.  Saute several onions and lots of garlic.  Add a few tablespoons of flour and some of the rabbit stock, then some milk. Add   Bring about 5 large sprigs of fresh thyme and some salt and pepper.  Bring back to the boil and let it thicken.  Take the rabbit meat off the bone and add to the sauce.  Put the whole lot into an oven dish and top with Flaky Pastry.  Cook till browned (about 1hr) on a high-ish heat.  Enjoy with your favourite friends and family!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter Eggs, thanks to our remaining chooks

Here is Montana-Rose proudly showing off her coloured Easter Eggs.  When our German student, Franziska, stayed with us her mum sent her some egg dye, and although we didnt use it then, we hung onto it and now, this year, have put the dye to good use.

Along with the coloured ones, I also made "Tea Eggs"!

Tea Eggs: take your eggs and hardboil them.  Then crack them all over, be pretty ruthless.  Put them back into the hot water they were boiling in and add 4 or 5 tea bags.  Boil for about 20 mins.  Then cool and take off the shells....voila pretty marbled eggs with a delicate flavour.

Luan, our current student, who is from Brazil, said "eewww, yucky!" (a new word for him!), but I think they look gorgeous :-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Walnuts and a Zundapp Sewing Machine

Just look at this beauty!  a 1950's styled machine, made in Germany by a company who were better known for their motorbikes.  That is real eye candy.  I havent yet put it to use, but I'm hoping it will be sturdy and a good choice for basic quilting.

It is in going order, and actually had rows of sewing in it.  It has its own case, a lovely set of extra feet, some screwdrivers etc and someone even wrote out some instructions on how to load the cotton and bobbin.

I'll let you know how I get on.

As an aside, I have some walnuts now drying......another job to come, that of shelling.  Oh joy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feels like frost, pulled out Basil

Well, the nights are colder, and there is a distinct autumny feel in the air.  I pulled out the last of the basil last night before going to bed, as I was worried about getting up in the morning and finding it all gone brown overnight.

Here's my pesto recipe...I often substitute parsely for basil in the winter, with great success

Pick all the parsley or basil that you can.
In the blender put 1c oil and 3 cloves (or more) of garlic.  Whizz till you have garlicky oil.  Add the pesto, 1t salt, 1t pepper, and 1/4c of walnuts (if free even better) or pinenuts (not so free at about $17.00 per oz).  Whizz till you have a thick paste.  Scrape out of the blender and stir in 1c or more of grated cheddar cheese.  Stir through hot, drained pasta.

I know this is not a "traditional" pesto, there's no parmesan!  but it is made with staples from the pantry and is much easier to rustle up when it doesnt call for hard to get, or expensive ingredients.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Just checked the Wine

Somehow the grape wine hasnt quite finished fermenting.  There is still a lot of fizzing going on, even though I have now "casked" it.  When will it stop?  if it doesn't stop do I bottle up "sparkling wine"?  Oh, my technique is so vague that its impossible to know what is going to happen.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

High Drama in the Chookhouse

It's 3:52am and I am wide awake.  In the chookrun a ferret skulks in a trap.  We can hear the occasional rattle as it tries to free itself.  I know that in the morning I will have to kill it!

We were woken earlier this morning by the screaming of a chicken.  I didn't know chickens could scream, it was surely a sound I have not heard before.  Due to the unusual placement of our chook run it is right outside our bedroom windows.  Bad news, bad news.  I woke with a start, jolted by the sound.  Mark is grumbling that he will ignore the noise, but I cant.  By the time I rushed outside in dressing gown and gumboots the chicken noise is horrible.  Mark reluctantly got up, and went to the garage to get a hammer.  Actually he came back with a torch, which proved to be just as good as a hammer.

My god, a FERRET was trying to drag one of the chickens (still alive) under the chookhouse.  Dumb thing had not worked out that one large chicken will not fit into one small ferret hole! The chicken's head and neck are under the chookhouse and the rest of it is flapping around.  Mark dragged it back by its feet, dragging the ferret out at the same time.  He proceeded to hit the ferret on the head with the torch to make it let go, which eventually it did, retreating into the hole.

We close the chookhouse door (we have been slack recently and not locked them in at night)

We went back to bed.

5 minutes later we got up again.  More drama....the ferret is now trying to climb through the chicken netting to grab a chook which is not perching but sitting in a drab heap on the chookhouse floor.  I have the torch trained on the sharp toothed killer, it's in the spotlight.  This doesn't seem to deter it one little bit.

Right, I go and get the dog from Matt's room.  Dog is pleased to see me, but not pleased to be thrown in to the chookrun in the middle of the night.  Mark tries to interest the dog in the hole where the ferret has retreated for a second time.  Dog ignores Mark and tries to get out the gate....

We do have a ferret trap, left over from our last ferret experience (2 ferrets on consecutive nights).  I get it out, and place an egg into it.

We go back to bed.

Neither of us can sleep....soon we hear the telltale rattling sound of a ferret enjoying an egg, but not enjoying captivity.  Thank god they are not particularly bright!  Yay, one ferret caught.  However, Mark and I are wide awake.  A cup of tea and a read of a book....

Photo to come in the morning :-) night all....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pumpkins today, also the promised Elderberry Wine recipe

So, today was the pumpkins final day, I hope they enjoyed the sun for the last time.  Now they are put down in the garage for a long sleep until we need them.  I did manage to cut one of them accidentally without a stem, so we will eat it first, but the others should last for months in the cool garage.

The Elderberry Wine recipe is especially for my motherinlaw, Pam!

ELDERBERRY WINE (Gentlemans Wine, or Elderberry Port)
This makes a strong, fragrant, sweet port-like wine which is lovely after dinner.

Step 1: Take 2kgs of elderberries, stalks off (to do this, run a fork down the stems to remove berries), put into a bucket and mash with a potato masher.  Pour over 6 litres of boiling water.  Cover with a cloth (to keep out flies and bugs) and leave to stand for 2 days, stirring each day.

Step 2: Strain through a muslin into a clean bucket.  Slice 1 lemon without peeling, bruise a 2inch piece of root ginger with a hammer (I just grate it), put in a pot and add 1 litre of the elderberry liquid.  Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4oz cloves.  Boil for 20 mins.  Put the whole lot in with the bucket of liquid.  Stir in 1.5kg brown sugar and 8oz  raisins (chopped roughly).  Stir in 1t yeast.  Cover with muslin and leave in a warmish room till it stops foaming and fermenting, which takes about 6 days (more or less depending on weather).

Step 3: Strain into a big clean container.  Leave 6 months.  Then into clean bottles.

Ready to drink in 3 years...but I started drinking mine in year 1 and it was lovely!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Crescent Dragonwagon rocks!

When I was in my late teens I lived in Sydney and I had a lot of spare time, being young, working (read - had money!), and exploring the Sydney streets all the time.  Not long after I had arrived I picked up a copy of a cookbook called "The Commune Cookbook" by Crescent Dragonwagon.   What a ridiculous name, I thought.  How could that be her real name?

It read a bit like a diary, with recipes inserted.  Kind of like a blog is these days.  She was 16 and had moved in with this guy, into a Brownstone in (perhaps) San Fransisco or somewhere similar.  I have since read that she and her hubby (yes, she was impossibly young to get married, it hasnt lasted so I read on the net), wanted to change her name.  There is a strange story about how they came up with "Dragonwagon".  I think they changed it by deedpoll and everything, it was her legal name.

She tells of trying to make and sell bread (not a success), of getting free food at the end of the day from markets, and even of "gasp" stealing food in an effort to live cheaply.

So, I trawled the net.  It's not a book I have managed to hang onto over the years.  She read so well tho, despite being very young, impressionable, incredibly idealistic and naive.  I found that she is the author of many, many books.  Several cookbooks, a myriad of childrens books and goodness knows what else.  She also runs writing classes.

When I owned this book I thought it was a one-off, oddity.  Not so.  So, not so!

Go Crescent!

Food from today's harvest

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Winemaking, the good old fashioned way

At last! someone who sees the world as I do.  This person has "uncomplicated" the art of winemaking.  I particularly like his suggestion of taking a container of wine juice and leaving it in a container in a warmish place for 3 months then bottling it and simple can that be!

Today I have picked the last of our eating grapes and made them into my own "wine"....I'll let you know in 2 or 3 years time how that has gone :-)  I just squished them up, added boiled water and sugar, and a cinnamon stick, a few cloves and some grated fresh ginger.  I then added 1t of plain yeast....and now I wait.

It;s a pretty nice colour, and the stuff tastes good off a spoon....

How to dehydrate herbs

Pick the herbs on a dry afternoon, place in a single layer in the dehydrator.  Put on low heat for about 4-6hrs.  The ones I have been most successful with are thyme and mint.  In fact, the mint smells wonderful, good enough to make tea with!

You can also just tie them in bunches and hang in a cool dry place till crispy, which is the old fashioned way and just as successful.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Maori Purple Potatoes

I don't know what variety these are, just that they are known here as "Maori Potatoes".  They are deep purple in colour, both inside and out.

Previously I have tried to cook them by boiling, but the result was not very good, they fell apart and made a mess rather than something nice to eat.  My sister gave me seed potatoes this year, and told me to roast them and then eat hot, or wait till they are cold and add to salads for colour.

We are going to try this lot with our Roast Chicken tonight.  I'll keep you posted on how we go....

Look at the inside of them, as purple as the outside, it's very spectacular.  The kids refused to eat them, but Mark and I enjoyed them :-)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fence Fixing and "The Digger over the Fence"

One of the planks fell off our boundary fence, so I was out there banging in nails to fix it. Both Albie and Montana-Rose came to have a look, and Lo and Behold, as soon as I had finished a DIGGER came to the next-door-neighbours house.

Albie stood for ages watching it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our new way of getting about.....albeit, slowly!

The frypan sized mushroom

I picked this mushroom on the way home from town, popped it into the frying pan and, see, it only just fits. Mushroom steak with garlic, and carrots, tomatoes and capsicum from the garden now comprise my lunch. Simple but delicious, food of the best kind.