Saturday, 31 August 2013

Spicy Meatloaf

This is a very yummy meatloaf.  It makes a 500 gm pack of sausage meat and about the same amount of minced beef go a long way.

Loaf:

2 onions, chopped
1 apple, grated (leave skin on)
1 carrot, grated
1 egg
1 cup of breadcrumbs or cooked rice or cooked pasta
2 teaspoons of curry powder
500 gms of beef steak mince
500 gms of sausage meat
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of milk
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Put into two greased, medium sized oven-proof dishes.
Bake together at 180C or 350F for an hour, then remove from oven and drain off excess fat and liquid, cover with sauce and return to oven for another 30 minutes

Sauce:

1 cup of water
1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of tomato sauce
4 tablespoons of vinegar
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 cup of brown sugar
50 grams of butter
 2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder.

Combine and simmer in a saucepan on the stove for 5 minutes or otherwise combine and microwave on high for 2 - 3 minutes. 

This is very nice served with mashed potatoes and green vegetables. It's even better the day after and the day after that!




Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Not-So-Humble Spud

It's sometimes called "the humble spud" but I don't know why as it's certainly one of my favourite vegetables.  Originating from the Andes in South America, where there are still thousands of varieties, the average person on Earth eats over 30 kg of these little beauties every year.  Even the United Nations has called the potato a "hidden treasure". 

I usually plant mine in good soil with a handful of "blood and bone" fertilizer and hand-water as necessary in the evenings.  Generally speaking when the potato is flowering the tubers are still forming but I've found sometimes a mature enough potato, even if still flowering, will supply a reasonable quantity of early potatoes.

Sometimes tubers grow at the top of the plant near the soil surface so to prevent greening it is necessary to cover them up.  This can be done by "hilling them up" with earth by just using a shovel or even a hoe or machinery if the rows allow.  Another option is to cover them in straw.

In the garden we've often had crops of 3 kg or more from some of the main crop plants, and single tubers weighing 1 kg or more each, so they really can be quite prolific.

Photos from the potato patch at Kewmarnic Cottage:








Thursday, 22 August 2013

Smile, Breathe And Go Slowly.



Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

I often bring to mind these seemingly simple, yet somehow powerful words, from this wise and wonderful Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk.

The smile is sometimes too hard, but the breathe, just breathe. Very few things do not suddenly seem just a little bit better if you just breathe.

Breathe.

And slow down.

Just slow down.......

What's the rush anyway? What is this sense of urgency that seems to sometimes bring me to near panic? Is it really that important? And will rushing even help?

The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough - Rabindranath Tagore.

.Did you ever see a butterfly rushing? I never have. I've seen them dreaming though.

Like this beautiful little yellow admiral who paused to dream on my leek flowers. Of what does she dream,  I wonder?

Hens Love Mashed Potatoes Too!

One of my earliest memories as a child was when my father and grandmother would boil up big coppers full of potatoes for the hens and ducks.   These would be surplus or lower grade potatoes. We'd light the fire, cook them and when they were cool enough mash them down somewhat and often mix them with some laying mash or wheat.

The hens and ducks loved it and invariably thrived.  These days I still do it for the hens when we have spare or damaged potatoes.  Make sure you do not use any green potatoes and remove any green skin or green pieces from the potatoes.  If in doubt throw them out!

If you have spare or damaged potatoes it's a great way to use them up.  If you're short of money but have some spare ground on which you could plant some more potatoes, it would probably be worth growing potatoes especially for any hens or ducks you might keep.

In recent times I've also used the pulp from the centre of pumpkins and lightly cooked them for the hens as well.  Once cooled, the hens enjoy the pumpkin pulp too.   They'll also readily eat cooked pumpkin skins. When peeling pumpkin pieces to make pumpkin soup I mix the cooked skins into the bucket which contains any other household scraps for the hens.

Pictured:

One of my little red hens, Matilda. Is she asking when the next batch of mashed potatoes will be ready?


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Life Long Love Affair With Sunflowers

I have been enchanted by sunflowers ever since I was a small child.  When I visited my grandmother, who lived five miles away, I would often cross the road and see my delightful great-aunts, Auntie Lizzie and Auntie Sarah.   They were the proverbial sweet little old ladies with their long white hair tied back in neat buns.  Auntie Sarah was hard of hearing and spent most of her day in a rocking chair.  Auntie Lizzie used to talk to her down a horn. Auntie Lizzie was the younger and more sprightly of the two.  Neither had ever married.  They'd been born, raised and lived down on "Bridgefield", the farm at Lakeside, till they'd retired to their cute little cottage in  the small town of Leeston.   They always showered me with kindness, warmth, milk, home-baked biscuits and sweets.

It wasn't only my lovely aunts themselves who drew me over the road but their cottage garden.  I would stand and stare up in awe at their giant sunflowers. They were so tall and glorious I could scarcely believe it!  Thus began my life-long love affair with sunflowers.

Aunty Sarah and Auntie Lizzie are both long departed this world, one aged 99 and the other 97, but every time I see a sunflower I remember them and the visits to their cottage and garden which were one of my childhood's delights.

Not only are sunflowers beautiful but they are easily grown and their seeds are nutritious.  I like to plant a climbing bean at the base of a sunflower so it can grow up the stalk of the sunflower.

Sunflowers from my garden:




Nature's Palette


One of the best things about growing, cooking and preserving your own food is savouring Nature’s stunning and vibrant palette.   

The deep, rich crimson of red beet.

The sunny, golden glow of apricots.

The deep purple and white flesh of the blackboy peaches.

The vibrant red of succulent, homegrown tomatoes.

The rainbow in a patch of coloured silver beet and Swiss chard. 

How easy it is to stop and just be enchanted by the gift of their beautiful hues.  Life is such a feast.


Some of the red beet in the pan being  cooked before making beetroot chutney.



Beautiful apricots glow in the early morning sun.



After making apricot jam I am still so enchanted by it's glorious colour I have to photograph some on the windowsill.


Mmmmm.  Juicy, fresh, homegrown tomatoes.


The pretty purple of the blackboy peaches.

 The rich burgundy of  fresh cherries against pale, ripening apricots.

The First Of The Spring Daffodils

In August some of the first of the Spring daffodils brighten up the living room with their lovely, cheering colours.  This is the time for dreamily perusing through seed catalogues as well!