Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pumpkin and sage risotto

I have started to chop up and process the large Banana pumpkins. Yesterday I sliced and oven baked quite a lot, to pulp and freeze in 1 cup size batches for use later in scones etc.

I also made our dinner, a pumpkin and sage risotto.

1 chopped onion, softened in olive oil, add about 1/2 dozen chopped fresh sage leaves, then about 170g risotto rice. You need about 600mls stock, add about 1/3rd to start then add about 250g finely chopped pumpkin, gradually add all the stock as the rice absorbs the liquid. Stir frequently. When done to the consistency you like (I prefer slightly al dente, my husband likes it softer) serve with grated parmesan or Romano cheese. I ran out of this so we also had some grated cheddar on top. And garnish with a few fried sage leaves.

Very tasty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More chicken pictures

These pics are of an Indian Game hen and the white one is a Chinese Silkie.

Green shelled eggs

Thought I'd post a photo of our Araucana hens and the eggs that they lay. They are green in colour (normal looking egg inside!) The Araucanas are the grey chickens. The buff is an Orpington and the other one is an Indian Game rooster.

I also have a few Indian Game hens, some are a bit old now and a couple are young and have not started laying.

The chickens are tucking in to some 'Blue Aztec' corn and some summer squash.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Quince jelly part 2

OK I finished making the quince jelly today. Just like the crab apple jelly I only got about 800mls of juice from 2kgs of fruit. I ended up with 4 small jars. I think I must have put it in the jars too soon (i.e. too hot) as there are a lot of little bubbles through it. At least there's no scum like the crab apple jelly though! It tastes nice quite a sharp fruity flavour, will be nice with roast meat like lamb.

Tomato, feta and basil quiche recipe (again)

I made this one again but with slices of tomatoes not cherry ones.

Here is a photo.

Hot (un)crossed buns

OK I made some hot buns today, didn't put crosses on top because we're not Christians.. (sorry Mum but you should know me by now!)

The recipe was from my breakmaker book, I have a Sunbeam machine.

Hubby said they were very tasty and gave them the 'thumbs up'.

The recipe is:

1 egg mixed with 150ml warm water.

Place in bread pan. Add 2 tblspns butter.

Mix 280g plain flour with 2 tblspns brown sugar, 1/2 tspn salt and 1/2 tspn ground allspice. Add to bread pan.

Make a small depression in the top of the flour and add 2tspns yeast (2 1/2 for NZ conditions).

Turn on to dough program.

Once ready, take out and knead for a bit then divide and shape into 12 balls, place close together on a greased baking pan.

Glaze* and bake for 25 mins at 200 degs C.

* Glaze 2 tblpns sugar, 2 tblspns water, 1 tspn gelatine heat and stir until sugar dissolves.

If you really want to put the crosses on top, 40g plain flour mixed with 2 tblspns water and 1 tspn sugar to form a paste then pipe the crosses ontop before glazing.

We need rain!

Everything is pretty dry in the garden and since we are on our own tank water (too far from the town for main supply) we are now down to only about 2000litres... if we don't get rain soon, we'll have to buy some water.
I have beetroot seedlings and onions that need to go in, I've planted some already but they're struggling to survive in the heat. Temperatures are still in the mid 20s here in Northland.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rustic home made pizza

Here is an easy way to make delicious pizza. I use my breadmaker to make the pizza dough, just follow the instructions given. Then I roll out and shape the dough to fit what pans I have available, doesn't matter if it isn't perfect. Then I top with whatever I have on hand and feel like.
Tonight I made pizza with a base of a homemade sweet tomato and apple chutney (will post recipe separately), then some finely chopped white onion, finely chopped mushroom, grated mozzarella cheese, chopped home grown tomato, then fresh herbs - I used marjoram, sage, rosemary and thyme, then lastly some ground sea salt and pepper.
Cook for about 10mins in a hot oven (200 degs C) until golden brown.

Crab apple jelly

Finally got time to make the crab apple jelly. I got about 800mls of juice from 4kgs of crab apples which wasn't very much so I'm not sure if next time I need more water. Anyway, ended up with 3 1/2 small jars of nice pink jelly. Unfortunately though there was quite a lot of scum (froth?) on top and though I tried to scoop it off before putting the jelly into the jars, it still managed to permeate the jelly so it's not crystal clear. However, it tastes just fine.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quince jelly part 1

OK I finally got around to dealing to the quinces today. Chopped them and boiled them up with some water and will leave in the jelly bag overnight to drip juice.

They were as hard as rocks when raw, but after about 2hrs simmering in the pot they softened up nicely and there seems to be quite a bit of juice. Hopefully the jelly will turn out OK. Also smells nice. Have not tried quinces before so this will be a new experience for us.


Imagine my surprise when hubby came home last night, with a huge crop of fresh figs acquired from one of the farms he was working on! Must be about 6kgs all up. Some of them were a bit crushed, so I took it upon myself to deal to those ones first as figs must be among the most fragile of fruits and do not keep well.

An hour or so later and hey presto 7 jars of lovely jam.

The recipe I used was:

2kgs figs, soaked in boiling water for 10 mins then destalked and chopped (next batch I will chop finer)
3/4 cup water
6 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

Place figs, water and sugar in preserving pan. Stir until sugar melts then boil rapidly until thick. Add lemon juice, boil for a bit longer. Pour into hot sterile jars and seal.

Mine did not set all that well, I rushed it towards the end as it was late at night and I wanted to go to bed... however it tastes just fine. Rather delicious in fact.

Still have not made the crab apple jelly... but I did process the remainder of the crab apples and now have the juice ready in the fridge.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crab apple jelly

Finally got around to doing something with the crab apples. I followed one recipe which suggested using no more than 2kgs of fruit, boiling up and then straining through a jelly bag. I've a feeling I should have used more water than was indicated though, as I only ended up with 600mls of liquid...... so I haven't made the 2nd part yet (using sugar to form the jam like jelly). I think I'll boil up the rest of the fruit first so I've got a bit more to play with!

Also the quinces are now ripe, so I'll be doing something with them in a day or so. Not always easy to find time, Dylan our 10 month old son, requires a lot of my attention!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Easy home made vanilla ice cream

This recipe does not require an ice cream machine and you don't mix the ice cream once it goes in the freezer like some recipes.

You'll need:

300mls fresh cream
3 eggs*
some caster sugar
1 tbpsn vanilla essence** or 2 vanilla beans
3 bowls


1. In a large bowl beat the cream with 1 tbspn of sugar until whipped softly.

2. Separate the eggs into 2 more bowls, then beat the yolks in one with 3 tbpsns of sugar until light and creamy.

3. Make sure beaters are clean, then beat whites in the other bowl until soft peaks form. Then beat in 1/2 cup sugar until thick and glossy.

4. Mix all together GENTLY with the vanilla essence or seeds scraped from the split pods.

5. Using a spatula, scoop the ice cream into a plastic container and seal with lid.

6. Freeze for 12 hrs,

* I use fresh free range eggs when our hens are laying. If you have to buy them get free range, I urge you to avoid purchasing eggs from battery hen farms. The labels on the cartons can be misleading, such as "Farm Fresh" etc so watch out. Why not think about keeping chickens? You only need a few. I'll be posting some tips on chicken keeping soon.

** I never buy artificial or flavoured essences as I personally think these are unhealthy to consume. Look for natural vanilla essence, or even vanilla beans, after all you're going to the effort to make some delicious ice cream why not make it a real treat? I buy my vanilla beans from Trade Me (see links).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pumpkin harvest (some of it!)

Harvested 4 huge 'Banana' squash (almost 1m long!), plus 4 big orange pumpkins (variety unknown). Might use some of the Banana squash and pulp and freeze the rest, not sure how well they will keep as have not grown them before. Here's a photo of some of them, shoe in picture to show scale!

Crab apples and quinces

Hubby came home a few days ago with a big bag of crab apples he procured from a wild tree growing near his workplace. I weighed them and there are about 4kgs which is a good amount. I will be turning them into crab apple jelly any day soon (recipe to follow).

Also he brought another bag of wild quinces, these are not quite ripe yet as they are a bit green. From what I've read they should be yellow and quite fragrant when they're ripe, but it wasn't a bad idea to pick them when unripe as they're a bit like pears in that respect. I haven't weighed the quinces yet but there must be a few kilos again will turn into jelly I think.

Apparently quinces fell out of favour in England once apples and pears became more readily available, and were able to be stored for long periods, unlike the quince presumably.

Anyway, it's just great to be able to pick these fruits from wild trees in our locality, plus it's a bonus that no one else seems to have noticed them, or maybe they just aren't bothered about getting some free fruit!

Blackberry ice blocks

400mls sugar syrup*

500g blackberries, fresh or frozen

1 cup water

In a large saucepan stir all ingredients over medium heat until simmering point. Turn heat down, put lid on and simmer for about 3 mins. Turn off heat and let sit for about 10 mins.

Push through sieve into large bowl to remove seeds. Scrape pulp from under sieve. You have to do this several times to get as much juice & pulp out of berries as you can. Discard seeds.

Add a further 1 cup of water to mixture and stir in. Then pour into ice block molds and freeze for 24hrs. Remove from mold by running warm water over mold or putting it into warm water for a few seconds until the ice blocks come out easily.

* Sugar syrup is made by dissolving 1 1/2 cups caster sugar in 2 1/2 cups water. Once cooled it can be stored in the fridge for use at a later time. I use a big jam jar (with lid) to store it in.

You could use other berries for this recipe, we just have a lot of blackberries we can use!

Wild goat curry

A little while ago we were fortunate to be given a couple of legs of wild goat from a friend who went hunting. I put these in the freezer for keeping. Here is the recipe for the goat curry we ate last night using one of the legs.

I thawed the leg of goat first, then soaked it overnight in milk. Previously when we've eaten wild meat it's invariably been quite tough, so I figured the soaking might help. It did.

Then I sprayed the bowl of a slow cooker with oil (olive), set it to 'low', rinsed and dried the meat using kitchen paper (I just put the whole leg in or you could dice it). Then I added the following spices mixed to a thin paste with a little water:

about 2 tspns ground coriander

about 1 tspn turmeric

about 1 tspn chilli (depending on how hot you like your curries)

about 1 tspn salt

I poured the 'paste' over the meat and spread it all over using a spoon, put the lid of the slow cooker on and left it for about 5 hrs. Remember not to lift the lid of a slow cooker while cooking unless you really need to otherwise the cooking is interrupted by 30 mins each time!

After about 5 hrs I turned the meat over to make sure it was all coated in the curry paste and liquid that forms during cooking.

After about 10 hrs cooking time it was considered ready to eat, and we were hungry, so out it came. It was tender and tasty and fell off the bone. I served it with a little jasmine rice and some peas, and it went down well with us and our guest. The meat was really no different in taste to mutton.

Tomato, feta and basil quiche recipe


1 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup cold butter (about 80gs) cut up into cubes

2 to 3 tbspns ice cold water

If using a food processor put flour, salt and butter into it and process until crumblike. Add just enough water to form a ball. Do not overmix or pastry will be tough. If not using food processor put flour and salt into bowl, add butter and mix using finger tips until crumblike. Then add water and gently shape into ball. Wrap in plastic film and put in fridge for about 1/2 hr to chill.

Meanwhile prepare filling. I used a small tub of cherry tomatoes, approx 300g, but you could also use big tomatoes, sliced up. I cut them all in half so they were nice and small. In a bowl mix up 3 eggs with 2/3 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream, some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Roll out pastry to fit a quiche dish, then blind bake (line with tin foil and put dried beans, rice or pie weights in) for 10 mins on190 degs C. Then remove foil and bake for a further 5 mins or so until the pastry looks done. Remove and cool.

When pastry case cool, add crumbled feta, about 150-200g, then cherry tomatoes, a few torn basil leaves.Carefully pour over the egg mixture.

Bake for about 40mins at 190 degs C. Should be nice and golden brown and not runny when you shake the dish.

Serve with a green salad. Yum!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tomato sauce recipe

OK we have a big tomato harvest this year so I've made some sauce with the following recipe.

3.5 kg ripe tomatoes, I used Roma not too juicy nice and fleshy

1 chopped onion

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup sugar

1 cup white vinegar

A spice bag containing about 1 tbspn whole cloves, 1 piece of cinnamon broken up, 1 tbpsn whole peppercorns, anything else you fancy.


Wash and peel the tomatoes, remove cores and chop up. If they are juicy put them in a sieve to drain them before putting in a large saucepan or preserving pan. Mix in onion and cayenne. Bring to boil, simmer until tomatoes are soft (about 20 mins). Stir occasionally. Puree using a hand-held blender or put in a food processor.

Return tomato puree to pan, add sugar, vinegar and spice bag, bring back to boil and simmer for about 2hrs or until the mixture is reduced by about half. It should be quite thick.

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal. Keep in the fridge.

Monday, March 10, 2008

So what is a Cabbage Tree?

OK so you're probably wondering, if you're not from NZ, just what is a Cabbage Tree?

There is a lot I could write here but here's a brief explanation for starters.

The name Cabbage Tree is the common name for Cordyline australis. Cordyline is from the Latin word "Kordyle" which means club because of the shape of the root. Australis means "Southern". The Maori name is Ti kouka (Maori are the indigenous people of NZ).

It looks a bit like a yucca or a palm but is actually a huge lilly growing up to 20m tall!It prefers a wet area although cabbage trees grow in all areas of New Zealand.

The Cabbage Tree has clusters of white flowers in early spring which are sweetly perfumed.

The Maori highly revered the cabbage tree for it's versatility, and used the leaves for weaving baskets, footwear, thatches, bird snares and eat the young shoots - according to the European settlers, these were supposed to have tasted a bit like cabbage, hence the name "Cabbage Tree".

Also a medicinal tea could be brewed from the leaves.

We love Cabbage Trees and have planted lots of these on our farm.

This is what they look like when in flower (spring time).


Hi, my name is Bridget and this blog is about Cabbage Tree Farm, and aims to describe some of the day to day goings on of life on a 10 acre piece of rural land in Northland, New Zealand.It may be of interest for those city dwellers who dream of moving to the country to be self-sufficient or living the “good life”. That was the dream that my husband and I had several years ago, and we are now trying to turn the dream into reality. Our priority is to produce for ourselves as much fresh, natural food (i.e. not sprayed with pesticides) as we can.A little over a year ago, we moved from the city onto our ‘block’ (short for lifestyle block, the common NZ description of our land). We have yet to build a house, and since moving here have had a baby, now 10 months old. We are all living (happily) in a garage and a caravan until the day comes when we can afford to build our new house.

Meanwhile we are working on the land: trying to establish an orchard, maintain a good supply of vegetables and herbs in our garden, landscape our surroundings for privacy and wind protection, and raising some stock. At present we have our own supply of fresh eggs and some meat from our chickens.

Looking forward to sharing our stories with you and some recipes too for all the food we manage to grow, hunt and gather.

Anyway, here we all are, me, my husband Graham and our son Dylan: