Sunday, August 31, 2008

Pumpkin pie

We're having a bit of a pie fest at the moment. Always on the look out for a pumpkin recipe, yes we're not sick of them yet, here is one I made the other night. Pastry got a little over brown on the edges, but the taste was good.

500g cooked mashed pumpkin
90g sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 eggs
160ml evaporated milk
125ml milk

Pastry for a double crust pie:
250g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
155g cold butter
60-90ml ice cold water

Make pastry and chill.

In a large bowl mix pumpkin, sugar, spices. Add eggs and beat until combined. Gradually add evaporated milk and milk. Mix well.

Line a 23cm pie plate with pastry. I made leaf shapes to put round the edge to build up the sides if I made the pie again I might not do this as it was a bit fiddly, plus they caught on the oven rack when I took it out.

Pour the filling into the pastry. If using leaves to decorate cook these separately on a baking sheet for about 15 mins then place on top of cooked pie.

Cover edges with foil to prevent over browning (cut out a hole from a square of foil) and cook at 190C for about 25 mins. Remove foil and cook for a further 25 mins until a knife inserted near the middle comes out clean.
Cool on rack for 1hr, then chill for 3-6 hrs.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Turnip harvest

Here is our very first turnip harvest. We've not grown them before. I pulled them when they were quite small, around 5cm diameter, this plateful was 300g worth. The variety is Tokyo White Cross F1. Strangely they seemed to be growing on top rather than under the soil, I'm not sure if this is normal, or maybe I made some mistake in planting. The other variety I have growing, Milan White Red Top, seems to be growing under the soil as one would expect. Anyhow they tasted just fine, peeled, quartered, fried in oil and then added to a goat curry that I made in the slow cooker.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blackberry and apple pie

We have a lot of apples on hand (in the 2nd fridge) mainly as we like to buy in bulk from a good grocer. So I made this pie the other night.

350g plain flour
150g cold butter, cubed
100ml ice-cold water
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 apples (recipe said Granny Smiths but I only had dessert apples - Pink Lady)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
250g frozen or fresh blackberries
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
100g caster sugar, and extra for sprinkling on top
2 Tbsp cornflour
1 egg white, lightly beaten

I made the pastry by hand (since my food processor is in storage) rubbing in the flour and butter, then adding the water and egg.
I peeled and sliced the apples, then mixed them with lemon juice, added the blackberries, cinnamon, sugar and cornflour.
Once the pastry had chilled for a while I rolled it out to fit my pie dish, added the filling then topped it off with more pastry. Then brushed the top with the egg white and sprinkled a little more caster sugar on top.
Cooked for40 mins at 190c.

Verdict: looked nice, but the apples were crunchy - maybe because of the variety I used, or maybe too much filling? The following night I reheated the pie in the oven for a while and the apple was a bit softer. If I made it again I'd probably cook the apple first.

Stressful solo herding with toddler in tow

What a stressful morning. I discovered one our five cows had decided the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, and was in an area it was not authorised to be in. I managed to herd it into another paddock, not easy with Dylan in tow, I had to carry him on one hip and wield a large pole in the other to get the cow to shift.
I saw that the cow had broken the fence where it joined onto another fence. While I was looking (from a distance) another cow broke through.. I was unable to herd this one into the same paddock as the other and after much running, again with Dylan in tow (I put him down but he wanted to follow, being the inquisitive toddler he is), I had to abandon the mission. Now I was worried. There were trees that could be eaten, hedging and more concerning, the citrus and fruit orchards. I'd have to keep an eye on the cow to make sure it didn't stray out of the grassy area it had moved to.
After a bit of thought, I decided to park the car across an opening in the hope that the cow would keep away. Unfortunately, I have a lot to learn about cows. When I got back to the house, I looked down to see where the cows were and there were now 2 of them in the prohibited area, the one I'd put into the other paddock had escaped from there too......... arrrgh.
Off again, with Dylan in tow. My efforts to herd them this time were a little futile. Mmm, what to do, hubby at work, broken fences, bovines on the loose...... I went back to the house and thought about calling neighbours to mind Dylan while I chased the cows.
I looked out the window again to check on the escapes. They had moved up past the car and were now by the chicken enclosure. Out I went again, Dylan on hip, big stick in the other arm. This time they were in a good position, the gate to their original paddock was directly opposite. I opened the gate and amazingly they stayed where they were, enjoying the long grass too much no doubt either that or by now they saw me as absolutely no threat whatsoever. Waving wildly with my big stick, at last I managed to direct them through the open gate and shut them in.
Great. Now I had to fix the fence so they couldn't get out all over again! In to the car, back to the house, collected hubby's toolbox for fencing jobs and back down to fix the fence. Dylan was happy in the car seat while I wrestled with the fence. It had come away and the cows had mangled it a bit, but I straightened it and pulled it and secured it as best I could. Hopefully it should last the day at least, until G gets home and can make things more secure.
Lesson to be learned here: firstly, DON'T PANIC. In hindsight I realise I did just that as I should have fixed the fence to start with....... Also inadequate fences don't mix with big four-legged determined munchers. I'm quite exhausted. But at least they fruit trees were saved.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Some time ago, maybe 4 years, I was given some limes to try from a lady at my workplace. They were orange in colour and she said they were a 'Bartender' lime. With a bit of research I discovered that the Bartender lime (Key lime, Mexican lime) is actually yellow/green in colour.

This lime is one of 2 possible varieties:

1. Calmondin or Musk Lime (Citrus x Citrofortunella mitis). Also known as calamondin orange; Chinese, or China, orange; Panama orange; golden lime; scarlet lime; in the Philippines, kalamondin, kalamunding, kalamansi, calamansi, limonsito, or agridulce; Malayan names include limau chuit and limau kesturi (“musk lime”); in Thailand, ma-nao-wan.

2. Rangpur Lime (Citrus x limonia Osbeck). From the Pacific Rim, the Rangpur lime has an orange rind and orange fruit. It is also called the Mandarin lime. The name can be misleading because there are few similarities between the Rangpur and true limes—it is probably a lemon x Mandarin orange hybrid. However, the Rangpur is highly acidic and can be used as a substitute for commercial limes. In the West, it is made into marmalade (it makes a superb marmalade, superior to the Seville, or sour, orange commonly used).

Looking at photos on the net I am inclined to think it is a Rangpur lime but not 100%. If so I'll be looking forward to more fruit to make some marmalade.

Anyway, I saved some seed from the limes and grew 3 small seedlings in pots. When we put in our citrus orchard last year, I finally got to plant out the 2 surviving plants.
Today I picked the first ripe lime from the tree. It was very juicy and had a definite sour lime flavour.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Moreton bay fig

When Dylan was 1 yr old we celebrated his birthday by planting a tree. That tree was a cutting (fallen branch) from a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig tree, which grows at a small coastal settlement called Pahi.

The tree (a native of Queensland, Australia) is supposed to be one of the largest of its kind in the world and has a recorded height of 27m, spread of 42m and girth of 14m, although I suspect it is somewhat bigger than this now as the sign looked a little old.

Anyway, the cutting we picked up from the ground was shoved into a pot of soil and left for a few years. It sprouted and flourished and we felt it was a special tree and appropriate for planting on the occasion of our son's first birthday.

But disaster has since struck, the cows have forced their heads through the fencing and munched the tree almost to oblivion..........

So yesterday we ventured out to find another cutting to replace the tree and were successful. Let's hope the cutting strikes and we can replace the tree in a couple of years, with more robust protection from the four legged munchers!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pumpkin and cranberry loaf

Yay, another pumpkin recipe!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups cranberries

Preheat oven to 160deg C. Sift dry ingredients together in large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar, then add eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree and orange zest. Add orange juice and then the flour and spice mix. Fold in cranberries. Pour/spoon into greased loaf tin and bake for about 1hr.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Apple trees

We've added a few more apple trees to our orchard today. (Notes from our supplier). Hopefully they will all do well.

Early (Dec/Jan/Feb):
Akane - a Japanese dessert apple. Keeps well on the tree.
Albany Beauty - dessert and cooking, Gravenstein strain. Stores for a few weeks.
Hetlina - mid early, originally from Czech republic. Firm, crisp, reliable cropper.

Mid Season (Mar/Apr):
Egremont Russett - golden brown russett skin, distinctive nutty flavour, good cropper, pre 1872.
Freyburg - yellow, juicy and crisp. Also used for cider.
Priscilla - bright red splashes, keeps for over 2 months, good disease resistance.
Telstar - NZ apple (1934), Dessert apple, yellow/orange skin, red flush.

Late season (Apr/Jun):
Braeburn, well known commercial variety, can hang on tree
Charden - from France, large juicy apple, yellow skin with red cheek. Keeps 4 months.
Kempton - Dark red apple, firm. Potential for cider.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chocolate chip apricot cookies

These cookies definitely got the thumbs up from hubby so I'll make them again. As he takes a packed lunch to work it's handy to have some cake or cookies on hand as I almost never buy biscuits these days.

Mix 1 cup flour with 1 tsp baking soda in a bowl.
In another bowl beat 115g soft butter with 1/2 cup demerara sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla essence.
Add the flour and baking soda. Then add in 1cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped apricots. Mix.
Place teaspoonfuls of mixture on lined baking sheet and bake for about 10mins at 190C.

Recipe source: Taste NZ mag

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Tiramisu, Italian for "Pick me up". Sometimes it's essential to eat a rich dessert like this one, especially on a winter's evening. Warning - not low fat!

1 cup mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
150ml strong brewed coffee, chilled
1 1/4 cups cream
3 Tbsp coffee liqueur (I used Kahlua)
115g Savoiardi (sponge finger) biscuits
Plain dark chocolate and cocoa to serve

Grease and line a loaf tin with plastic wrap.

Beat mascarpone and icing sugar for about 1 min. Add 2 Tbsp of chilled coffee, mix thoroughly.

Whip cream and 1 Tbsp of the liqueur until soft peaks stage. Stir a spoonful into the mascarpone mixture, then fold in the rest.

Spoon half the mixture into the loaf tin and smooth the top.

Put rest of coffee and liqueur into a shallow bowl. Dip one side of the biscuits in the liquid for a moment and then arrange coffee side up over the mascarpone mixture in a single layer.

Spoon rest of mascarpone mixture over the biscuit layer and repeat with remaining biscuits. You should use 6 biscuits per layer, there were 12 in the pack.

Drizzle any remaining coffee liquid over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Boysenberry, dessert wine and rosewater jelly

I'm back after a few days away from blogging, been pretty busy with stuff at home this week.

I tried this recipe today, and then discovered G is not a big fan of jelly! The jelly had quite a strong flavour, while not unpleasant, I most likely won't make it again.

Here's the recipe (courtesy of NZ House and Garden).
Makes 6 small glasses/jelly moulds (I did half the quantity).

2 cups frozen/fresh boysenberries
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp gelatine
1/3 cup hot water
1 cup dessert wine
1 Tbsp rosewater

Mix berries, sugar and first measure of water in a pan, bring to boil, stir to dissolve sugar then simmer for 5 mins. Turn off heat.
In separate bowl mix gelatine with smaller amount of water (hot) stir to dissolve gelatine. Add to hot berry mixture, stirring well.
Add wine and rosewater, stir again. Strain into jug (reserve berries for serving) and pour into moulds or small glasses. Refrigerate until set. Serve with cream and reserved berries.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Round up of the last few days

What a busy week. I haven't had a chance to bake any more bread, will get on to that at the next opportunity. Also want to give making muesli bars a go, I haven't done those before.

It's been slow progress outside. A couple of nights of 'slug patrol' and a few barrows full of mulch spread about. The citrus orchard needs some attention, mowing and then each tree needs weeding and mulching before we hit the warmer and drier weather and the ground turns to 'concrete'.

Weather wise it has settled down a bit, we've had a few non-windy days, even a bit of sunshine, frost on occasion. But everything is still pretty muddy and soggy from the major amount of rainfall.

I bought some more broccoflower and broccoli seedlings to boost the dwindling crop due to slimy munchers. Also got more 'wildlife friendly' slug bait (obviously not friendly to slugs..), trouble is the rain keeps washing it away. If we're lucky we'll get a few veges yet!
Planted a lemon thyme plant and a 'curry' plant today. Lots of onions still to go in.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Peach danish

This is a nice quick and easy 'pudding' for a winter night. It's from a cookbook called Alison's Kitchen by Alison Holst.

2 cans sliced peaches (in juice not syrup)
75g butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup juice from canned peaches
1/4 tsp almond essence
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups SR flour

1/4 cup flaked almonds

Optional icing: 1/2 cup icing sugar mixed with 2-3 tsp lemon or peach juice.

Drain peaches in a sieve reserving the juice.
In a large bowl mix melted butter, egg, milk, 1/4 cup peach juice and the almond essence.
Chop peaches roughly in sieve, add 1/2 of them to the above mixture. Add sugar and flour and stir gently to combine.
Spread mixture into a greased or lined cake tin (I used the small roasting tray from the benchtop oven). Spread remaining peaches over the top and add flaked almonds (OR reserve flaked almonds and toast to sprinkle over top and drizzle with the icing AFTER cooking).
Bake for 15-30 mins at 190deg C.

Serve with cream, or better still, homemade vanilla icecream.

More storms coming our way

We are due to be hit by another storm later today, with strong to gale Northwesterlies and winds of up to 110km/hr in exposed places..
On the positive side, our water tank is almost full.
So we're off to the local farmer's market this morning, before the bad weather sets in.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Over the years I've tried baking my own bread on a handful of occasions (without the aid of a breadmaker that is) and never been successful. After a bit of investigation, I've discovered that conditions in each country vary considerably, so much so that to try baking bread from a UK bread book (as was the origin of the one I owned) would be futile. I've subsequently purchased an old copy of "The NZ Bread Book", written by Mary Brown, Helen Leach and Nancy Tichborne.

Yesterday I tried out one of their recipes, for "Cold Oven Batter Bread".
Their description of this bread is as follows: "this quick bread became popular during a bakers' strike, when even those who had never made bread before were forced to make their own or resort to scones and bsicuits. No kneading is required and the short rising time of 15 minutes takes place in a slow oven."

While it did not rise as much as I expected - came out quite a flat loaf - perhaps I could have put more batter in the pan that I did (the recipe said not to fill more than 1/2 the tin), the taste and texture was very good. So I'll try it again, just making one large loaf not 2 flat ones.

1 Tbs honey
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold milk
1 Dsp dried yeast

1 cup white flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup rye flour
1 cup fine cornmeal

1 1/2 tsp salt

Measure the honey into large bowl. Add boiling water, stir, then add milk, stir again. The liquid should be warm not hot, sprinkle yeast on top and leave in warm place for 10 mins.

Combine flours and salt in another bowl. Grease a large loaf tin.

When yeast is frothy, stir gently to mix. Tip dry ingredients into yeast liquor. Mix thoroughly with wooden spoon. Spoon mixture into loaf tin.

Place in cold oven turn on to 100deg C for 15 mins. Then increase to 185deg C for about 45 mins.

We ate most of the bread with butter and strong cheddar, also with some homemade soup. It was delicious.