Tuesday, December 31, 2013


No blooging as I am on holiday, and very little cellphone coverage. Happy new year everyone! See you in 2014

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Watering tips

My hubby calls it "irrigation", but I just call it watering!

Here's a few quick tips for the summer:

- Soaker hoses can be cheaply bought, and you can nail them into place on fencing or the top of vege garden raised bed edges, then all you have to do is connect the hose and turn it all on.  We had these very successfully nailed to our fencing when we lived in Cromwell, and it worked well for several years.  The hoses to eventually deteriorate, but you can get a good couple of years use out of them.  Just nail though the edge of the hose, the flat bit.

- If you are short of water, plants dont mind soap.  They can't utilise the stuff in soapy water, so you can collect the water from your washing machine quite happily and use it in your garden.  Just put the washing machine hose out the window and let it empty into a big black rubbish bin.  You might be surprised how much water a washing machine uses, one spin/rinse will fill a bin.  If you pay for your water usage, this is a great option.

- Bury bottles of water at the base of plants at risk....see elsewhere on the net if you are not sure how to do this.  Pop some holes in the top of a fizzy bottle, Cut the bottom off.  Tip upside down and bury lid down at the base of your plant.  fill with water!

- Water late in the evening or early morning in order for plants to get the most out of it.  Tempting tho it might be to water when it is very hot, a lot of the water is lost in evaporation.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Fruits of our Labours - rewarded with strawberries, raspberries and mixed berries - offer of raspberry canes for sale also

Look at this bowl of yummy fruit!  picked this minute from my garden

We have friends coming to stay tomorrow night, and I think fruit, icecream and chocolate sauce is on the menu!

If you too would like to grow some raspberries, like the ones in the picture, you can purchase this years canes from me for $10 for a bundle of 5 - a mixture of sizes, from 1 foot to 3 feet high.  Post anywhere in New Zealand for $8.00.  Put them in the ground on arrival (they are packed with wet newspaper and are fine in the post).  This year they will just grow on, no fruit.  Next year they will fruit most of December and January, and they will put up their own suckers.  After their fruiting cut the canes down to ground level, leaving the suckers to grow.  Also remove any dead canes.  Raspberries grow on 2nd year canes, so basically the woody parts that grow this year will fruit next year.  

A lot of people make the mistake of pruning every year, and never getting any 2nd year growth, then they get all frustrated at the lack of raspberries.  But, follow my instructions and you will be fine.

Email me grace.anderson@xtra.co.nz

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finally! Rain :-)

Yippeeeee, everyone else has had storms and thunder and lightening, and rain, and hail and all sorts.  All that we have enjoyed is overcast skies, low cloud cover and threats of precipitation.

Until last night.  I woke in the night to hear it torrential outside!  This morning the rain guage read 8mm fell overnight.  For every 1mm we get, our roof collects 800litres of water.  So this  morning the tank was full.

We have pumped up a tankfull, and now it is still raining...I am very thankful for the tankfull!  it helps in the hot summer months to have water to fall back on!

Rain Gods, thank you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Latest Harvest

I'm pretty pleased with the Savoy Cabbage, which is one of many we have cut from the garden
As you can see, we are still having a glut of artichokes!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Killing day, and the cow that got away ! (warning, graphic dead cow pix inside)

Last Sunday was killing day.  4 cows killed, skinned and sent away to the Butcher.  Thanks to our local mobile abbatoir.

The Wednesday before 4 other cows, the really big ones, were supposed to go on the truck to the works.  Well, into the yards they went, waiting patiently, patiently.  Until - the truck came, and the two largest panicked....out of the yards they bellowed, and galloped around our pig pen, over fences, through gates, into a peaceful field.

The truck driver, Hamish and I tried to get them back in, but to no avail.  They were stubbornly not going!

So, two remained.  The following Wednesday the truck came again, only one cow went away.  The biggest one jumped out, ran around the yard, jumped a fence or two, and eventually ended up on its back with a hoof entangled in the netting fence.  We finally set it free, and the truck departed without it.

It has had a small reprieve, and can hang out with the little guys until next year, when it will have to go in the freezer!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rumtopf - fresh berries and Rum, the taste of Summer

When the strawberries start ripening in my garden it is time to make Rumtopf.  A wondrous mixture of Rum, Sugar and the Berries from your garden.

I make mine as I was instructed, maybe 30 years ago, by my ex-Mother in Law.

Always start with strawberries.  These are generally the first berries in the garden.  (or purchase from a store)... Weigh them, and put them on a plate.  Pour over their weight in sugar.  So, if your strawberries weighed 300g, pour over 300g sugar.

Leave overnight in the fridge.  In the morning pour the whole lot, including any juice that has seeped out, into a large earthenware pot.  Pour over Rum to cover the berries.  Submerge the berries in the rum.  Put in the fridge.

Over the summer and autumn add all berries you fancy, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and anything else you can rustle up or buy.  For all the subsequent berries only add 1/2 their weight in sugar.

Personally I don't like stonefruit in mine, but this recipe here does.  I find they go a horrible slimey texture, but if you dont care about that you could give it a go.  The attached link is a complicated version, but I have added it for interest.


It should keep for years.  I just keep adding over the summer, eat all the fruit and as much of the juice as I fancy, and start again the next year with any juice that is left over.  The alcohol and sugar are basically preserving the fruit (and adding that extra va-voom).

HOW TO USE "RUMTOPF"> Spoonfuls over icecream, in the bottom of bubbly champagne, in pies, in lemonade, to add a little extra to Summer Pudding and on pancakes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pesto - the great entertainer

Pesto many ways... on pasta, (of course).used to coat chicken, spread into button mushrooms for grilling, in salad dressing, stirred into bolognaise sauce and more.  It is a great entertainer, and is fab just as a dip with crisps.

I recently harvested our first lot of basil leaves from the glasshouse and made up Pesto for freezing.  Once the mixture is prepared, spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze.  The next day, ease of the trays, and put into plastic bags in the freezer.  That way you can just take out exactly what you need, so there is no waste.

PESTO - use your blender or food processor

Pour in about 1cup olive oil
Add 2 cloves garlic, whole
Salt, pepper

and whizz, till the garlic is absorbed into all the oil.

Take several large cups of picked basil leaves. Add them to the bowl, and pulse till they are chopped in small pieces.

Add walnuts (about 1/2c) or pinenuts if you have them, and pulse till they are roughly chopped.

With a spoon stir in about 1c of grated cheese of your choice.  Purists would use parmesan, but I am not fussy.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Make your own pasta sheets - Lasagne for two nights, in a "rush"

Lasagne is one of those dishes where I usually have all the ingredients but the pasta sheets in my pantry.  So then I give up.  But just recently I have revived my pasta making.

I used to make pasta many moons ago when I was a young thing, but it was a complicated affair involving a pasta machine, much rolling, drying and so on.  It does not have to be so!

Try this for a recipe which will make 2 x large Lasagne's.  One for the oven, and one for the freezer for another day.  Its quick and simple, and I can prepare the whole lot in about 1/2hr.

Take 2 or 3 large onions and a very large slosh of oil, put them to saute in a large pot.  Add 2kg of mince, breaking it up with your fingers.  Stir till everything starts to cook, then add 2 large tablespoons of plain flour (this keeps the mixture nice once assembled).  Add 1 can of tomato puree, some tomato pasta sauce if you have it, a little water to thin a bit (maybe 1/2 cup), salt, pepper and herbs of your choosing.  I used fresh marjoram from the garden.

While that lot is cooking, make a white sauce.  Good slosh of olive oil (or about 100g butter if you prefer - which I do!), 1cup plain flour, and cook till it makes a paste.  Add 1 x litre of milk.  Stir till the sauce thickens and boils.  If you are feeling flash, add 1 or 2t chicken stock.

Now make the pasta.  In the your mixer or food processor add 2 eggs, 1T oil and 6D water.  Whizz, then slowely add 1 cup plain flour.  Keep adding flour up to about 2.5cups in total, till you have a dough that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.  


Put spoonfuls of the lasagne in your first dish to make a layer about 1inch thick.  Roll out 1/4 of the pasta till thin, and cut to fit your dish.  Put the pasta layer ontop of the mince.  Then spread with a good dollop of the white sauce.  Repeat with mince, pasta and white sauce.  Top with grated cheese. 

Keep going with the 2nd dish.

Put the first in the oven for about 3/4hr at 180C and cover the other in tinfoil once cool, label and pop in the freezer for later.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Look at the Hoglets we found in the garden

Tiny little, 3inch long baby hedgehogs, still with their eyes closed.  They have drunk catmilk, about 5mls, and are now happily sleeping!

The day without Stampylongnose

Somewhere in the UK there lives a young 24yr old man, by the Youtube moniker of "Stampylongnose" (previously Stampylonghead).  http://www.youtube.com/user/stampylonghead

Somehow he has captured a corner of the the internet all for himself...he is the new child's entertainer, and is likely to become as popular as "The Wiggles".  His channel is completely PG rated, designed with children in mind, and will never contain bad-language, x-rated activities, or violence.

He talks a lot! I mean, a real lot!  his premise is something called "Let's Play", which basically means he plays a game online and you get to see him doing it.  For children these are primarily "Minecraft" LetsPlay videos.  Inside Stampy's Lovely World, he has mini-golf, a dog assault course, a garden where he posts the names of his favourite followers, he loves cake, he has friends online who he plays with.  Minecraft is a bit like lego online.

I have learnt all of this slowly over time, and as more of his videos are avidly watched by my children, so my admiration of this young man has grown.

How did he end up being a child's entertainer of such reknown?  he has over 665,000 subscribers to his channel!  Children from all over the world send him pictures on Facebook of cakes they have made, pictures they have drawn of him, and little poems.  https://www.facebook.com/Stampylongnose

He is majorly famous....last week there was complete mayhem in my house when it was discovered that YouTube had removed his channel.  In the end it was down for less than 24hrs, and Google/YouTube restored it all after a massive Twitter and Facebook campaign.  There was also an online petition signed by over 6000 people in several hours.

My daughter even wrote him a poem (to the tune of Pussycat, Pussycat)

Stampycat, Stampycat where have you been?
I've been to the Love Garden, to visit AmyLee
Stampycat, Stampcat what did you there?
I frightened a little squid under her chair

(AmyLee is one of his friends, and so is a lad called iBallisticsquid)

I am amazed, and it shows my age.  My children don't find it strange, to them it's just another form of entertainment.

In short, I am in awe.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Strawberry-licious - jam making

Its hard to drive past .89c a punnet strawberries.  I was compelled to pull over and buy 10 punnets, $8.90 worth.

2kg of strawberries..!   Out came the AGEE jam jars, lids and the jam pan.  This pan is an old brass one that I bought from a 2nd hand shop during my years in the UK.  Its gorgeous and makes a nice even heat.

I chopped the strawberries, only into halves, because I like the end result to have chunks of soft berry in.

Then, for easy jam, I heated them up slowely.  Do not add water or anything, juice will come out of it's own accord.  I then stirred in one packet of Jam setting mix.  Now, generally I would not bother, but I wanted a nice professional result, and this was some mix I bought yonks ago for just this purpose.  Bring back to the boil.  Then slowely I added 1.2kg of sugar.  The ratio does not need to be exact, but about 2 parts strawberry weight to 1 part sugar.  You can add lemon juice if you like, but I did not this time.  Boil for 6 mins on a good rolling boil.

Take off the heat, and let sit for about 15mins, this starts it setting and keeps bits of fruit suspended throughout the jam, and not sunk to the bottom.

Ladle into hot, steralised jars.  Pop lids on and you are ready!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Just joined Bloglovin

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Herb Drying Time

My house is smelling fragrant and summery.  It's been herb drying time.

I have quite an extensive herb collection now, and in this warm weather they are all going rampant.  The easiest way to keep them for winter use is to dry them.  Most herbs respond really well to this treatment with the exception of basil, which just smells like damp mouldy stuff when dried and is no good for use.

  • Pick your herbs in the late evening or midmorning, when it is not too hot, and there is no dew on them.   I picked - French Tarragon, with its lovely aniseed flavour that goes so nicely with chicken dishes - Marjoram and Sage.
  • Hang in bunches leaves hanging down, till they are dry and crunchy.  You don't need to have them in the sun, a hot shady place will do such as in under a veranda.  I have some just hanging in my kitchen.
  •  Or if you have a dehydrator, as I do, then you layer them in the machine, and follow the heat instructions.  I usually put them on about 50C for 6hrs or so.  Again process till crunchy.
  • Or you can put them in the oven, on a low heat, the door slightly ajar.
  • Once they are dry, strip them off the stalks and keep in bags or jars, well labelled so that when the time comes you will know what is what.
  • Go crazy!  while the garden is going crazy, you can too.  Dry every herb in sight, for most of them will die down for the winter.
  • The leftover stalks can be used to make skewers of roast potatoes, for flavouring soups and stews or even for throwing into a bath.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A new garden, start to finish

We seem to have such busy weekends, and this one was no exception.  What a result at the end of it, a whole new garden.

On Saturday Mark had his apprentice finally build an edge round the in-ground watertank, ready to shape the corner of the carparking area.

To then make the new garden, this is what we did:

Spent a whole morning, with Mark on the tractor bringing cow feed poo/hay from the paddocks, and dumping loads onto the gravelly base of the ground.  Our ground there was basically river gravel and large stones, no topsoil whatsoever.  I spread  the cow muck round with a fork, and the help of four reluctant small children (2 of our own, 8 & 6, and two nephews 8 & 10).

At this point the largest stones were set round the edges of the tank for a bit of definition.

Then, a second round of tractor visits with topsoil from a pile we have been saving for such an occasion

The we broke exhausted for lunch.

Next Pam, my mother-in-law arrived with a carload of plants.  She has been amazing in taking cuttings, dividing plants, and on-growing things that she has been nurturing for this garden.  It is in quite a prominent position, being right by the house and carpark.  All visitors will see it on arrival.

We unloaded the plants and set about deciding where to place them.  Then I got to work with a thistle grubber making the planting holes, and away we went.

Last, but certainly not least, we put over two bales of peastraw to finish it off.  Only running out of pea straw at the end.  I need to get one more bale to finish it off.

A few moments of fun along the way (notably the cat catching another rabbit, and 3 birds during the day), and it was done!