Friday, January 30, 2009

Baked zucchini stuffed with red rice

Yes zucchini is still on the menu......!

This is a recipe I made up with what ingredients I had on hand, mainly some big zucchini which got away on me (not quite marrows but bigger than I prefer to cut them as zucchini), also some red 'Carmague' rice which I had in the pantry and was keen to try.

3 large zucchini sliced lengthways, flesh scooped out and reserved
1 red onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, crushed
Some roasted red and green pepper, skin removed (about 1/2 capsicum, but you could use more)
Fresh thyme
Sea salt & cracked pepper
Some cooked red rice (I used about 150g)
Grated cheese

In a frypan, fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the chopped up zucchini flesh. Fry with a dash of water until soft. Add the chopped peppers, and thyme leaves, season to taste.

Cook the rice, it takes quite a long time (similar to brown rice in texture) about 40mins all up. Add to the above mixture, adjust seasoning.

Put a dash of olive oil in an oven dish and line up the zucchini. Fill zucchini with the mixture, top with grated cheese. Add 1/2 cup water to the dish. Cover with tin foil. Bake for about 50mins at 180 deg C. Remove foil, bake uncovered for further 10 mins.

I've seen a similar recipe including beef mince which sounds tasty, but this dish was just fine for dinner and was surprisingly filling.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Tucked away in the back of my breadmaker manual and recipe book I've got a recipe for bagels that I was given in the UK. Bagels are just as easy to make as bread rolls and even easier if you have a breadmaker to make the dough for you. Today I just felt like having bagels at lunch.

The recipe is:

250ml water
450g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
15g butter
1 1/2 tsp breadmaker yeast

Put all the ingredients in the order listed into your breadmaker and turn it on to the dough cycle.

When ready, remove the dough and break into 8 even pieces, roll each into a ball, flatten slightly and then make a hole with your finger stretching the dough so the hole is about 1 inch in diameter. Place the bagels on greased baking trays and cover with greased plastic wrap until doubled in size (for about 1hr).

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and carefully drop in a couple of bagels, boil for only 1 min, remove, drain and place back on baking trays. Repeat for all bagels.

Brush bagels with egg wash, then sprinkle on poppy seeds (or sesame seeds).

Bake at 200 deg C for 10-15 mins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lemon and zucchini muffins

Yes you guessed it the zucchini are taking over the kitchen!

This morning I found this recipe for lemon and zucchini muffins and gave it a go. The muffins are delicious, thanks for sharing Robert. I used a Yen Ben lemon for the zest (as fortunately I had some on hand) which I think gives added flavour, the Meyer lemons are certainly very juicy, but having a bit of orange in their genes, they lack that certain bit of sharpness other varieties of lemon have.

Anyway, these were a definite winner, even though they only used up one small zucchini.

Quality soap

For some time now we've been buying our soap online from Justsoap. I thoroughly recommend their soaps, they are made by hand and contain natural ingredients. They have a good range to choose from, and some unusual scents and combinations, for instance the Kudzu soap has "Gorgeous floral scents of Jasmine & Rose. Fruity scents of Grape & Strawberries." The soaps also make nice gifts.
Thought I'd just give a little exposure to this company as I've been so happy with their products.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What have we been doing lately?

My posts have been very thin on the ground lately, sorry folks. We've had a few visitors staying and so a bit of down time with them. Also just flaking out in the hot weather, which doesn't make me inclined to do much outside other than sit in the shade with a cold drink!
The vege garden is surviving the dry, we give it a bit of a watering with the hose every now and then. I'm getting a good amount of green beans, although some of them are a bit on the curly side, I guess from lack of water. I've sown some of the Italian flat beans to put in for a later crop as well.
We've eaten a handful of tomatoes. The Black Krim are delicious. Also a couple of Roma. Lots of fruit developing and I'm giving the plants an occasional drink of vermiliquid (worm "wee").
Zucchini still chugging up the fridge, I'm putting them in chocolate cake and nearly every meal, also giving them away. Same old story each year with zucchini as they are prolific fruiters, but I wouldn't want to go without them.
I've dug up a few red and white onions, they are starting to die down now so won't be long until can harvest them all.
Haven't got on to plaiting my garlic as yet, it is drying nicely though.
We're still getting a few strawberries, a handful a day, now tending to munch these on sight or soon after rather than doing anything in the kitchen with them. If we manage to get more plants going from the runners for next year I think we'll have a much better crop. Around 70 plants sounded a lot when we started but it wasn't enough for us.
We've eaten the last of the frozen blackberries from last summer. Had them as a compote on banana ice cream one night.. yum.

Will now have to wait a few weeks before the new season's blackberries are ready. We checked out one spot last week but it was too early.
We've eaten a few more of our own nectarines, which were delicious. The peaches are a bit slower to develop, although one or two trees have a small number of tiny fruit on them. I don't think we'll be eating any this year but it is very early days as we only planted them last year (but they were a good size tree). Looking forward to when we'll be getting a lot more of our own fruit that's for sure.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Maple syrup

Here is the bottle of genuine Canadian maple syrup, all 1 litre of it, a present from my friend H who is here in NZ for a holiday. YUM! None of that artificial flavoured stuff masquerading as maple syrup, this is the real mcoy. The last bottle she gave me ran out a few months ago, so I've been substituting golden syrup on my waffles, pancakes etc but it does not really measure up. What a treat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Update in the vege garden

Finally the galangal is out of the pot and into the ground. Hopefully it will flourish! It's looking a little yellow at the moment but should come right with a bit of watering and mulching. I have not as yet used any of the root as it needs to grow a bit larger before one can start harvesting it, a bit like growing rhubarb.

The onions (here "Californian Red") are really doing well, some big bulbs on some of them. I have more seed going for "Yellow Sweet Spanish" and shallots. I'm collecting the seed heads from the red bunching onions to sow later in the year.

A picture of the artichoke plant, there are half a dozen small buds remaining and I think I'll pick these off soon. I read that it helps the plant to do this when it is only young (this one is less than a year old) so it can put more energy into growing taller and stronger.

G kindly prepared the mounded kumara bed for me since my back is still a bit dodgy and yesterday I put in all 30 plants (about 30cm apart). Gave them a watering in. Now I have to keep the area weed free and water the kumara a couple more times to get them established.

Just a couple of shots of the bean poles and herb area. Looks a little bit scrappy as I've left some of the clover for the bees and have some cardboard down by the fence to keep that area weed free for planting. The net is over the blueberry plants as the birds were getting the small amount of berries they have!

...and just to keep me busy, I received some more seeds in the post this morning:

Bean "Italian Flat"
Beetroot "Chioggia Red/White" a stripy beetroot great raw
Leek "Lungo Della Riviera" - baby leeks
Some Mesclun mixes - lettuce mix, Oriental and Italian
Coriander "Indian Summer" - a slow bolting heat tolerant variety
Italian Parsley
and Epazote a herb (new to me) used in Mexican chilli sauce and supposedly great mixed with coriander

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eating our first artichoke

Last night I cooked up the first of our artichokes. The big 16cm one, which we shared. It took about 1hr in a big stockpot which had a couple of inches of water in the bottom, a clove of garlic, a bay leaf and a slice of lemon (actually rangpur - the orange lime - as I had no lemons).

The hollandaise sauce was a success, took a bit of careful whisking over a very low heat (bain marie) and the verdict from G for the whole 'meal' was 10/10!

A definite winner!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This morning I harvested our first artichokes. One is a good size - approx 16cm diameter, and the other 2 are about 13 cm diameter. We've only ever eaten them once, a few years ago in England, we spotted them at a farmer's market and took them on a visit to my parents. Mum cooked the artichokes and Dad made the hollandaise sauce. They were a delicious treat.
I've never cooked artichokes or made hollandaise sauce before so it will be a bit of a challenge. Will post the results later.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A day at the beach

I decided to travel north with G for the day yesterday as he had some work there. So we packed up a picnic and stopped at Matauri Bay on our return. What a beautiful spot.

Garlic harvest

Yay, at last we've harvested the garlic! We now have it hanging in bunches in our garage to dry. Should take a couple of weeks. We're really pleased with the amount of large bulbs we got. Interestingly, the pink skinned variety did not grow nearly as large bulbs as the white. Not sure if this is a reflection on the variety itself, or perhaps the location it was planted. Both varieties have a really intense flavour, streaks ahead of anything I've bought in the shops. Once it's dried, I'll plait some up and post a photo.

Also our red onions are starting to form decent sized bulbs now. Here is one I dug up for use in a salad a few nights ago.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year and update

Happy New Year to all.
I've been offline for a few days, resting up and socialising in the hot weather we've had here, also recovering from putting my neck out and on top of that a phone fault prevented us connecting to the internet... our lifeline was cut!
Anyhow, what's to report down on the farm?
We harvested the first of our beans today, from the variety 'Market Wonder' although they are flat green pods not yellow.
Have also dug up a small amount of garlic. Will be harvesting the rest any day now. Have done a bit of research on plaiting so will be interesting to see how this turns out.
Getting lots of zucchini. Broccoli still going ('Tender Stems') also have lots of the Palm Tree cabbages, these taste like spinach or silverbeet, so would be good for a lasagne or similar savoury dish. I might freeze some for use in a dish like this later.
The chilli seeds have still not germinated, so I bought a cayenne pepper plant which is already fruiting. Can't get by without any fresh chillies! Also marked a spot in the garden for my galangal to be planted , so far it's been in a pot. It needs about 1m space and grows to around 1.8m so I had to consider the shade it would create in the garden. So it's going next to the compost heap.
We picked some of our first nectarines the other day. Early Red, which has red skin and a yellow flesh - very tasty, and Spring Red, a white fleshed variety with red skin. These trees were only planted last year and they're quite tall, still requiring a good prune, but it's lovely to get a taste of what's to come.
Still getting some nice tasty carrots.
Also have acquired some kumara plants. Once the garlic comes out we'll put in the kumara, adding some peat to the soil first to build up into mounds. Apparently they need watering in well for 3 days but after that should look after themselves. I have only grown kumara a couple of times in the past, but never successfully as I didn't realise the importance of mounding the soil to improve drainage.
The basil seedlings are coming along, won't be long they can go in the ground next to the tomatoes.
Also have some seedlings of Spanish yellow onions and some shallots.
Will post some photos soon of all these things.