Friday, December 12, 2014

Its not mushroom season, no

Christmas Pudding - NZ Summer Style - Icecream

I have made this recipe several times, and it is a winner for a hot summer Christmas.  You can prepare it weeks in advance and it is easy to make.

2litre tub vanilla icecream
4T dried cranberries
4T mixed dried fruit
4T brandy

Soften the icecream and tip into a big bowl, stir in the rest of the ingredients.  You can add nuts too if you like.

Line a pudding shaped bowl with gladwrap and tip in the icecream mixture, flatten the top, as eventually the pudding will sit on the flat side.

Freeze overnight.

Next day spread a large piece of clingfilm onto your kitchen bench, and lightly oil.  Heat up in the microwave till melted, 1 large block of white Chocolate.  Spread this onto the oiled clingfilm.  

Get your pudding out of the freezer and upend onto a plate.  Remove gladwrap from it.  Lift the chocolate by the gladwrap it is spread on, and lay over the frozen pudding.  Press down gently, and remove the gladwrap.  You now have a White Chocolate Covered Icecream Xmas Pudding!

Keep in the freezer (wrapped in plastic) until needed.  On the day decorate the top with sugared cherries or sprigs of mint.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Strawberry stunner milkshakes

What to do with the one jar of strawberries that didn't seal when I canned them....

1cup ice cubes
Half cup Cream
1 cup Milk
1 scoop Vanilla Icecream
1 Banana
2 cups Canned Strawberries
Put all into a blender and blend vigorously for 1 minute, serve immediately so it is nice and cold

Sunday, November 30, 2014

On the Fickleness of the Weather

When we lived in Cromwell I could not grow a strawberry.  We had lots of plants, none every made proper berries.  They would flower, then the fruit would be all stunted.  I tried several years in a row, and eventually decided that "I cannot not grow strawberries"

Now I think, perhaps it is more weather dependent....this week alone I have picked 3 large colanders full.  We have a strawberry glut!

I have made strawberry jam (on 24th November, my birthday, at 6am!), and today I have both frozen and canned strawberries.

Canning them using the waterbath method does result in a pale sloppier strawberry, but should be pretty good for pies/milkshakes/icecream.   Freezing them gives a fresher result.

I hope that by using a variety of methods to keep them I will have covered all eventualities.  I used the method in the Youtube video link below.

In general the garden is starting to look better.  We have had a bit of rain, and this has helped things along.  I have also had some help in the garden, with a lady coming on a Monday to help weed and plant, given that this is the crazy time in the garden, trying to get plants in, protect them from wind, and imminent hail etc!  along with watering and picking what is ready to be harvested.

The onions with our decimated, windblown glasshouse beyond.  (if you look at previous blog posts you can read all about our glasshouse heartbreak).  The other photo is my small Medlar tree which I have been nuturing.  It is now growing some Medlars, which is a wonder in itself as all the other fruit trees flowered just before a huge storm, and all their flowers were blown off.  I think I can find ONE apple on all my apple trees.  The rest have just disappeared.

You can see how dry we have been, by looking at my so-called "lawn"'s burnt off already and today is the last day of spring.  God help us when summer arrives with full force.

This is a Medlar fruit forming.  Eventually when it is ripe I will have to "blet" it (leave it to rot!) before eating.
 I purchased a new apple tree, a Pacific Rose, (hubby's favourite) and I have tied its arms down so that it will grow in a manner which we can pick off.

This is my Garden Share Collective post for December.  You can check out all the other bloggers and what they are doing once the link is working.  I will update this post when that happens.

Planting now: Corn, Carrots, Potatoes, Corgettes, Pumpkins, Lettuces

Harvesting now: Lettuces, Strawberries, Asparagus, Spring Onions

Jobs to do this month: take away all 15 bags of glasshouse glass to the dump, Cover the berry fruits with bird netting, continue to harvest and freeze strawberries

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A bit of propogating

I've never been much good at growing things from cuttings .  For example, my sister Karen on Rosemary, "just pull bits off and stick them in the ground". I do that? They all die. She does that? They all grow into robust plants.

This is my attempt at lavender. We have a beautiful pink one here and four of a row of them just "FLEW" away in our latest gales.  Disappeared. Nada,  nothing left. Ripped out by the roots.

I'm feeling pretty hopeful about 5 of these. I have been careful with them. Woody parts selected. Stripped stalks.  Tops trimmed. They look the part and, boy, I'll be stoked if they grow.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Canning Broad Beans

I have canned broad beans several different ways.  Some in an oil/lemon/vinegar/thyme mixture, a bit like artichokes and these ones in salt and mint.  Very yummy!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Devastation - The Glasshouse is Goneburger

Big gale force winds overnight, which woke us at 4am and we didn't get any more sleep.  At 1:37pm at the time of writing this, it's still gusting, though no where near as bad.

The glasshouse is anihilated, with the frame bent, all the glass gone and not recoverable.

I am even more devastated by the damage done to the plants the glass landed on, it's tragic really.

I don't know how we will replace it, or with what.  For the moment it's a large cleanup job, then waiting for the wind to go so I can water and give the broken plants some hope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Early morning Elderflower Cordial making

It's mins past 7am and I am zimmering a 6 litre batch of cordial from fragrant elderflowers. They steeped overnight and now its time to bottle them up.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Late Spring - The Garden Share Collective

It has been a difficult spring here in North Canterbury.  Late visits by Jack Frost, and hard ones!, not much rain, and the predictable roaring Nor'wester have combined to make things very late in the garden.

A few pumpkins and corgettes were blackened off by two hard frosts three weeks ago.  The cold has conspired to make flowering late, and then any flowers which did form on apple trees and pears were frosted off, meaning we will get very little fruit in our orchard.

Thank goodness for the glasshouse
We have had so many broken panes that I have black taped the panes together in an effort to stop so much breakage.  Someone I met recently who lives nearby suggested that sealing all the joins with sealant to strengthen it.  We may yet go down that road.

However, inside things have started to grow.  These beautiful lettuces were a gift from a great-uncle as little seedlings.  I don't know what variety they are, but they are sweet and crunchy.  I made lunch for 6 of us last weekend using them, and a more divine lunch I cannot imagine.
Our own lettuce, eggs, bread and bacon all combined to make a beautiful, tasty salad.

Anna's Caesar Salad
1 Lettuce from the Glasshouse, ripped into large pieces
8 eggs soft boiled and left to cool, yolks should still be slightly un-firm
4 large slices homemade white bread, cut into 1 inch squares and fried in oil till brown on all sides
4 large rashers homekill bacon, cut into large pieces and fried till crunchy
Mix all that in a huge bowl, and pour over the following dressing:
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/3c Olive Oil
4 anchovies, chopped finely
salt and pepper

 In other news, our Blueberries are totally covered in fruit, in some cases meaning there is not a leaf to be seen, just ripening berries!  It's not easy to see that in this picture, as my phone is not very good at closeup photos.  

 I tackled the water problem for them by attaching a soaker hose to the fence.  This, and the chicken netting up to knee height, seem to have finally got this bed sorted.  Now they have water, and no sheep can eat them through the fence.  A good job, and one that has been on my list for several months.

I have covered the strawberries, and we have had our first berries off them.

Harvesting this Month: Asparagus (yum), Leeks, Broad Beans (Fava Beans), Artichokes and Lettuces.

Jobs to do: Water every day!  think about how to restrain our Raspberries, plant maincrop Potatoes, and cover the Cherry Trees to protect the fruit from the birds.
Our "Mixed Berries", which are rather like Boysenberries, are spread around all the fencing of the garden, and are all coming into flower.  

All in all its been a good month.

This is my November post for the Garden Share Collective.  To read other members postings on their gardening efforts, check them out by clicking the link below.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Perils of Farming - the story of our "Black Bag" Ewe

The first ewe to produce a lamb had a ewe-lamb about 6 days before any of the others.  We called her one lamb "Fluffy".

At injection time and drenching we noticed that one of her udders was all blood-blistery under the skin, all the udder had gone hardish and swollen and the teat was protruding up and about twice the size of the other side. Like a pyramid on one side, and she was limping so it was obviously sore.

We called the vet on the phone who diagnosed her with mastitis, sight unseen.  We started her on antibiotics which I had to inject her with, and Mastalone injected into both teats following milking her out by hand every night for 5 nights.  She was kept separate with her lamb in the yards, so I could keep an eye on her and treat her every day.

She stopped limping and recovered her oomph, so we let her back out into the flock.

Then last weekend we did our crutching.  There she was again, this time with most of the udder fallen off and hanging on by a thread of "meat".  All the wool had also gone from her underside.  We called the vet, again.  He came out within 1/2 an hour and operated, cutting off the udder totally.  She had a large open sore where it had fallen off by itself, but it looked good, no infection, and it was granulating and healing nicely in the from the edges.

He shot her up with antibiotics again and left with instructions to treat her for flystrike a couple of days later.  Well, we got them into the yards again today, and put on the flystrike powder.  The wound looked great.  It has decreased in size down to about a 10cm square piece and is all healed looking.

I can't believe one her udders just "fell off"!  how wierd is that, and what a lot of pain she must have been in.  She certainly is one tough old bird!

Apparently she will raise a lamb quite successfully with just one teat, but if she has twins we should take on off her next year and hand raise it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Start of the Preserving

I find it so exciting going when there is more produce in the garden than we can eat on a daily basis.  Then my mind works overtime trying to figure out what to do with the glut before it spoils.

The first things ready have been Broad Beans, or to give them their fancy name, Fava Beans.  I ended up using a recipe adapted from my treatment of artichoke hearts last year.
Fava Beans in dressing
Blanch the broad beans for 3 minutes.  Pack into clean Agee jars. To each jar add several sprigs of thyme, 1 clove garlic chopped,  1/2 teaspoon salt and a grind of pepper.  Make 1 part olive oil,  2 parts white vinegar, 1 part lemon juice dressing.  Heat till hot in the microwave.  Pour over the beans, leaving 1 inch head space.  Process at 15 lbs of pressure for 35 mins.
At the same time I made some Leek and Potato soup base and they are processing together.
I really like canning. Food doesn't spoil or get freezer burn the way it can in a freezer, and there is no defrosting.  Just take off the shelf and heat well. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

A great planting day

When the rain has finally fallen (6mm in the rain guage) and the weather is overcast and warm the only thing to be done is to get into the garden and make the most of it. yesterday there was no wind, the rain had ceased,  and there was no risk of sunburn. So out came the hoe and trowel and we got to work
I put in several rows of carrots, many rows of french beans, a block of corn, some lettuces, and two whole beds of potatoes.  One bag of Jersey Bennie,  creamy and waxy for spring eating, and one of indeterminate origin because I had kept them all winter in a bucket and have forgotten their exact origin.  From memory they are probably jersey bennies too.
These are Dwarf French Beans

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spears and Things

One of the first spring harvests, Asparagus, is finally coming into it's own.  These spears are from 2 year old plants, and I have a couple more plants from older rootstock, which are slowely coming out.  I think it has to be one of the most succulent and tasty of early harvests, especially with poached eggs and hollondaise sauce.

My leeks are looking pretty good too, I must say.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Blinky frost - my poor Mulberry Tree

 Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while will know how much I have hankered after a Mulberry tree!  Now that I have two decent sized specimens what happens?  the hugest frosts you ever saw - look at the buds on my best tree...completely frosted off.  Every bud that has had leaves is now black,  There are still a few buds not yet burst and I have hopes that they will be OK.   Does anyone know if they will come away again? or is this the end of my tree?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Spring hope is in the Air - The Garden Share Collective for November 2014

The hope of spring is all around me, with bulbs flowering, trees coming into bud and flower, and the empty beds in the vege garden looking inviting for new seeds.

Daffodils have come out in abundance, and I am so pleased with some of the varieties that I bought from the Spechleys Bridge daffodil farm last year.  They are beautiful, with large open faces, and bright colours.

My mother says that daffs which are frilled, like the second one below, aren't daffs at all, but I rather like the look of them.

My tulips have also given a good show, and I have even managed to pick some to bring inside.  They are just beautiful, clear, glossy and bright.

I do have to be patient throughout Spring tho.  We have had a few humungous frosts, and I have already managed to kill off two pumpkin seedlings by not remembering to cover them at night.

 Frost has bitten and frazzled all the little potato seedlings from the potato harvest last year.  This is a good thing.  It will help to clear the ground of invasive potatoes that aren't going to be productive and will allow other things to grow without being smothered by rampant wilding potatoes.

Jobs I have undertaken this month:
1. Sprayed around all the trees in the lawn, to keep the weeds from taking over.
2. Sprayed the vege garden paths for the same reason
3. Weeded the vege beds ready for planting.

Harvesting now:
Leeks, sprouting tips of broccoli and cabbage, asparagus, the first broad beans (yay), lettuces from the glasshouse

Jobs to do this month:
include sowing carrots, sowing peas, planting the potatoes which have all sprouted and are ready to go in the ground as soon as the frosts have calmed down,  cucumber seedlings in the glasshouse, and I need to pot up the self seeded tomatoes.

A tray full of Trilliums waiting to be put out for the summer.

Tulips providing a show outside our bathroom windows.

 This is my November blog post for the Garden Share Collective.  If you click here you can view garden blogs by people all over NZ, Australia and the UK.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Plum nectar

This glistening jug of sweet nectar is Plum cordial.

My good friend and housekeeper Stacey persuaded me to help her clean out one of our 3 freezers yesterday.  In the bottom, among a gazillion bags of beans and peas and what have you, were a bag of plums.  I think I go these from Michelle last year, and I didnt use them all at the time.

So I endeavoured to get them out and do something useful with them, to make room in the freezer for other goodies.

What I did:
Upend the whole lot into my biggest pan and let them defrost.  Added 3c sugar and 2t Citric Acid and simmered them till the fruit was all softened and falling apart.  Drained them in a sieve and put the drainings into a jug for decanting.

Stacey and I then rewarded ourselves with a Hot Plum Cordial, about 1/4c cordial topped up with boiling water.  It's kind of blackcurranty and plummy and thickly delicious.

I reckon "Hot Plum Rum" would be pretty divine in the winter, just add a dash of rum to the plum tea!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

All in an Afternoon's cooking

At 12midday I decided that I needed to prepare some dinner, given that we will be out and about after school with Glenmark Keas.  So I started hunting around for things to feed us and my parents who are visiting at present.

For inspiration I took down my sister-in-laws' cookbook, Coromandel Flavour - A Year of Cooking at the Bach.  I found a bread recipe, called "Winemakers Bread" and thought maybe I would make garlic bread.  Then the obvious thing to go with that at our place is Lasagne.

Out to the freezer I went to get mince, then I came back and looked harder at the "Winemakers Bread" recipe.  It called for something called "yeasty sediment", which I pondered for a little while.  In the end I decided that beer sounded about right, and I retrieved 2 bottles from the fridge.  I then poured the beer into a pot and warmed it on the Rayburn, then stirred in 4t yeast and 2t sugar.  I left it on the bench and went back to recipe.

It was only then that I noticed that on the facing page was a recipe for Feijoa Wine, and the "frothy sediment" mentioned in the bread recipe originated during the winemaking process!

Oh well, I kneaded in enough flour to make a soft dough, and 2t salt, then set it to raise for 30 mins or so while I made the lasagne.

The bread got kneaded again, then proved for about 20 mins, and then into the Rayburn which was at about 200C.

Now, 1.5hrs later dinner is ready, and it looks and smells very pleasing indeed!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

I'll let you in on a Secret - Perfect Cupcakes

Do you ever have trouble with cupcakes sticking to their cases, or to your tin?  Are you sick of creaming butter and sugar, and endless standing over the mixture?  

Try these:  Anna's Magic Cupcakes

You do need to have fresh cream (the whipping kind, not single, or thickened)

You will need - 2 eggs, about 1/2c cream, 3/4c sugar, 1t vanilla and 1c Self Raising Flour (or 1/4c cocoa and 3/4c SR flour if you want chocolate ones)

Firstly, heat your oven to 170C

Then, break the eggs into a cup, and top up to the top with cream.  Put these in your mixer and whisk for 1 minute.  Add vanilla and sugar and beat for 3 mins still soft and fluffy.  During this time put your cupcake cases in tins.  Fold in the flour, till it is all combined.  

This is a soft, fluffy mixture!

3/4 fill your cupcake cases and cook for 15-20mins till lightly browned on top and cooked through.

These are so quick and easy to make, and today I doubled the mixture because tomorrow is the Rock N Wheels meet.  Its a large classic wheels show in our Domain and is the biggest fundraiser for the Brownies/Guides/Pippins in our area.

Think of me tomorrow, as I am manning several stalls all day, including bacon butties and sausage sizzle.  Montana-Rose is in the cake stand.  If you are in Amberley, come on down!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Now we are ALL happy

One of those moments...a serendipitous moment....

I visited wonderful Helen from Roses at Cust last week to pick up a few roses we had ordered.  One of these, St Patrick, I have been waiting on with baited breath for two years.  

On getting out of the car my attention was snaffled by some rose standards which were at the front of the shop.  "Fresia" which is a wonderful yellow rose, with a fragrance to die for, and a beautiful clarity of yellow colour.  Here they were, lined up looking for new owners.
Here they are lined up outside my house, waiting for their new home

Helen told me the story of how they were a cancelled order, and she was so upset because the order had been for 14 Fresia Standards, and her supplier only delivered 9.  So, at vast expense, she had visited Oderings and purchased 5 more to make it up to 14.  Now they were cancelled, and the stock was just sitting there.

It was just the motivation I needed to finalise my "New Garden".  Plans below, a Fresia Rose Bordered walk in through our herb beds, into a hot-air-balloon shaped new defined area.  

A round garden, with a camomile lawn in the middle, a fountain in the middle of that.  Surrounded by a white stone chip and paver walk.  Laburnum hedging around the exterior rim, 3 x pergolas to shelter the lemon trees from frost and wind, and rose standards both leading into the garden, and on interior beds.  Also planned are lavenders (grow well here).

I am happy! I have the most beautiful Fresia Standards.  Helen is happy, her failed order is off her hands!

It's love all round

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Flowers in the Frost

These were a reminder not to  forget to put my gear away, I'm not putting my hands in these any time soon

It is Spring... we have lambs, the garden weeds are growing, the lawn has to be mowed, and everything is thinking about flowering.

In the frost, some have even made a start, the almond trees are flowering.  I am so impressed.  However, the poor daffodils droop their heads every morning, but raise them in the sunshine of the afternoon.