Saturday, September 27, 2008


Gee have we got our work cut out. Along with all the other jobs that need doing around the place we now have a huge pile of mulch (30m3) to spread around all the hedges, trees and on the wind mounds. It will be great once finished though as the mulch will keep a lot of the weeds under control, and also make the plantings stand out more and the landscape will generally look a bit tidier. In honour of the occasion we also purchased a pitch fork, just what every farm should have I reckon. Makes the job of hauling it into barrows and out again a whole lot easier.

Blossoms in the orchard

The orchard is starting to look pretty now that the Spring blossoms are opening. This photo is of one of the nectarine trees.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lemon honey

Lemon curd, or honey as it is more commonly known in NZ, is one of my favourite things. And since we have an abundance of eggs at present, and G came home with a bag of lemons from a friend's tree, it seemed the right time to make a batch.

The best recipe I've found is this one by Allyson Gofton.

4 large eggs
pinch salt
125g unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
grated rind 4 lemons
1/2 cup lemon juice, strained

Beat eggs with pinch salt until smooth. Strain.
Place eggs, melted butter, sugar, lemon rind and juice into top of double saucepan.
Cook over simmering water stirring constantly until mixture thickens.
Pour into sterilised jars* and seal. I turn the jars over and sit them on their lids for 1 min to sterilise the lids.
Makes about 3 or 4 small jars (250-300g)

* I wash the jars in hot soapy water, drain and then put them in a low oven (140) for about 1/4 hr.


We bought 40 Olearia paniculata trees and G planted these as part of a shelter hedge along the front boundary fence, up to our top gate. Should look nice once they are grown, the foliage is attractive - green leaves with cream underneath and crinkly edges.
We're fortunate to have a great native plant wholesaler not too far away, Alter-Natives.
Also we bought 6 more Karo pittosporum "Ralphii" to replace some that had died.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More tree planting

Further additions to our orchard - today G planted 3 Hass avocado trees. Also 12 Feijoa trees went in as a hedge to protect the avocados from Southwesterly winds. These Feijoas are seedlings from an unspecified variety so we're not sure how good the fruit or crop will be. So a hedge with some fruit will be a bonus. Now we need to get some shelter trees to plant along the front boundary fence for some protection from Easterlies and also for some privacy for us from the road.

Picture of the goat curry and chapatis

The chapatis are easy to make. Mix 1 cup plain flour, 1/4 cup wholemeal flour and 1 Tbsp oil with enough cold water to make a soft dough. Divide into 6 balls and roll into thin rounds, stack with greaseproof paper between. Fry one at a time in a very hot pan with a little oil, for a few minutes only on each side, until the surface is slightly bubbled and browning. Brush with butter and stack, keeping warm. Serve immediately.

Goat and turnip curry

I found the following recipe for lamb and turnip curry on the net and follow it loosely to make one with some goat meat. "Loosely" as I had to omit ingredients I didn't have on hand, such as the cinnamon leaf, fennel powder and I used a touch of ground cardamom in place of whole ones. I also didn't bother with the first step i.e. salting the turnips, as mine were quite small and therefore I figured would not be too bitter.

After frying the onion, garlic, spices and meat for a while I transferred the mixture to my crockpot where I added some tomato puree and homemade lamb stock. After several hours the meat should be nice and tender. We'll have some rice and I might make some chapatis too.

I dug up the first of our purple top turnips (variety 'Milan White Red Top') especially for the occasion.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blackberry cake

With a plentiful supply of eggs, some blackberries in the freezer, and no cake or biscuits in the house, this afternoon I decided to make Julie Biuso's yummy blackberry cake.

It turned out very well and went down very well for afternoon tea with G and D, would be even nicer with a dollop of fresh cream, or creme fraiche, which is exactly what G and I will have for dessert tonight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Egg overload

Now that Spring has sprung our hens are producing plenty of eggs. We're currently getting about 6 a day which is great. Time to make some more homemade ice cream for the freezer. I've also found a great recipe for bacon and egg pie which I'm going to try in the next few days.
I'll also be on the lookout for other recipes which use eggs, maybe egg custard or a brulee. Both would be things I've not made before, but I'm game to try.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sowing time

I made time to sow some of the summer vege and herb seedlings today:

Eggplant 'Long Purple'
Bell Pepper Colour Mix
Tomato 'Brandywine Pink' (beefsteak)
Nigella 'Eastern Spice' (for edible seeds)
Cape Gooseberry
Cabbage 'Palm Tree di Toscana'
Chillies - Thai Hot and Jalapeno
Broccoli 'Tender Stems'
Beetroot 'Bulls Blood'

Next step is to prepare the garden beds, dig them over and apply some fertiliser (out of the chicken house).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Additions to the orchard

G planted 4 more fruit trees in the orchard, peach "Wiggins", plum "Elephant Heart", apple "Braeburn" and a dwarf nectarine "Flavour Zee". I updated our map of the trees so we know which are which, most have labels but sometimes the wind blows them off and we'd then be left wondering what was what.
It will be great when we can finally get some of our own fresh fruit. We've got far too many trees for our household, but our plan is to sell some at the local markets. Anyway we've got a few years to wait before they are ready to fruit.
Our next step is to put in a herbal ley. We've had rather a lot of kikuyu grass (originally from S.Africa but a weed here, to some anyway) in this area, and had to resort to spraying with weedkiller to kill it off, just a small area left to do, then we can sow various seeds - we're trying mustard and lupin, also some sunflowers, and some grass seed. May sow more but we haven't decided yet. A herbal ley is good for the soil, keeps the weeds under control, is good for animals to graze on underneath when the trees are tall enough and also brings beneficial insects for pollination and pest control, so hopefully we can achieve this.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Summer veges

It's that time of the year already. Today I've ordered some more seeds from my favourite online supplier.
Zucchini - Costasta Romanesco and Gold Rush, Tomato 'Roma' - we grew these last year and they were great, very prolific and nice meaty tomatoes, fabulous for baking in the oven and also to freeze for use later in casseroles etc. Tomato 'Rainbow Blend' - a mix of various colourful heirloom varieties. Watermelon 'Rapid Red', hopefully these will be a success. Also some corn 'Florida Supersweet' and 'Honey and Pearl'. For a few years we tried to grow the heirloom varieties of corn, such as Blue Aztec and Black Navajo but unfortunately they just didn't perform for us. So we're sticking to the modern hybrids.
I've also got quite a few other seeds already which I purchased a while back, chillies, an Italian cabbage, some other onions.
So a busy time coming up to get these under way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Our very first cauliflower, 'Green Macerata' is the variety.
Looks more like broccoli. I probably could have picked it when it was more compact but it had a pretty small head and I was hoping it was just going to get bigger. However when I next checked it looked like this so it was obviously time to cut it.
Anyhow, despite looking somewhat on the lean side, the cauli was delicious, lightly steamed with a goat and turnip curry I made in the slow cooker.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pie time again - Lemon meringue

125g butter
250g plain flour
90g caster sugar
1 egg
iced water

3 Tbsp cornflour
125g sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
3 tsp grated lemon rind
30g butter

4 egg whites
90g sugar

Make pastry and chill for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 220deg C.
Roll out pastry to fit 23cm pie dish. Prick sides and base and cook for 10 mins or until lightly browned. Set aside.
Make filling - mix cornflour, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Add water. Stir until thick. Remove and cool slightly. Whisk through egg yolks, lemon rind and butter. Pour into pastry case and chill for 1hr or until firm.

Make meringue - beat egg whites in clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Add sugar slowly until thick and glossy. Pile meringue on top of pie and bake at 160C for about 5 mins until meringue is light brown.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Homemade playdough

I found this recipe in a magazine and it works a treat. Dylan has just started playing with playdough and he loves it.

1 cup plain flour
3/4 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup cold water
food colouring

Mix together and cook slowly in a saucepan, stirring continuously. When mixture comes away from the edges of pan it is ready. Take out and knead until smooth. I added the food colouring afterwards, but I guess you could do it before cooking.

Keep in a sealed container in the fridge.