Monday, August 18, 2014

Strawberry Bed clearing - and spring lambs

Today I spent an hour clearing up the strawberry bed ready for spring.  This involves removing all runners that have suckered up around the plant, getting rid of dead leaves, and general tidying up.
I have lots of stones lying around the edges of the beds because they are holding down the edges of the black plastic.  

Looking at the photo it looks quite messy, but actually, before hand it was just a tangle of dead leaves.  Job well done.

Strawberry plants are really hardy.  They will send out suckers each year, and those make air roots which attach to anything.  Sometimes they just stick onto and grow on the black plastic.  You can cut each of these off their sucker, and plant them out for next year.  My brother told me that when he worked in a nursery they used to punch the plants straight into plastic, no pre-hole, just punch it through and create the hole as you went.  Which seems harsh, but he said the plants didnt appear to mind at all.    I have kept plants just lying around, and then planted them a week later, and they have been fine.  Also, you can post them!  just wrap in some wet newspaper, pop into a plastic bag and send to a friend! 

We are hoping for lots of strawberries like last year, they are such a treat in the summer.

This is "Lucky" who was rejected by his mum.  He was so strong and healthy, I didnt want to leave him to die, so now we have a pet lamb! very cute, just look at those ears!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Finalist - our Bathroom

We are finalists in NZ House and Garden "Interior of the Year" and the photographer came today.  These are some photos I took before she arrived.  Clean and tidy.

Of course, she took out the potplants, took out the loo roll, changed towels and then took photos for 2 hours.  Apparently there is an award ceremony in Auckland! I think I might just have to go to that.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cheese Adventures

With little to do in the garden, I have turned my mind back to cheap milk and what to do with it.  I have been able to access 50c/litre raw milk (thank you, you know who you are), and I have been making cheese at home.  
This is Brie draining in the hoops.
Brie growing mould under a plastic bag

This is Feta waiting for it's brine solution

Most processes for cheese start out much the same, pasteurise the milk, let it cool to about 32C, add culture and rennet, for Brie you also add penicillin to make the mould, and let curds form.  Cut the curd up.  Then it changes depending on the cheese.  Either keeping the curds warm and stirring, or letting it cool naturally, and not stirring.  The size of the curds changes also.  For Mozarella, there is then a heating process where you pour hot water over the curds and stretch/melt them.  Others are pressed, or drained carefully (like Brie).  

I have used recipes off the net in the past, and while we were in the Barossa Valley a few weeks ago I bought a cheesemaking book from a cheese shop, "Udder Delights", in Hahndorf.  It explains the processes in an easy to access way, with not too much difficulty, and I am going to try a White Wensleydale next!  

My Brie rounds are now in the wine cellar (they like 11-14 degrees), growing their fluffy white mould in a humid environment (wrapped in a plastic bag), and they smell amazing!  I wish Blogger had smellovision.  

I am really enjoying this diversion into cheese, it has been so exciting.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The promise of Spring - green shoots are up

I feel hope in the air, Spring promises to arrive in the not-so-distant future.  This is my August posting for the Garden Share Collective

Small green shoots are showing from the garlic, and around our trees where there are daffodils.

Crocuses are appearing in small clumps.

Jobs I have undertaken this month included pruning out the old canes and clearing out unwanted parts of the blackberries.  I also sprayed around the bottom of the raspberries with roundup (shock-horror).  While the canes are bare of any leaves it is safe to do this, and it will prepare the raspberry bed for spring growth.  In the picture below the weeds have just started to die down, in a week or two it will be all clear.
We have had a lot more trouble with wind, both cold and warm, and all the citrus which are in pots have lost their leaves in protest.  This Lime is a particularly bad example, and one of the jobs I have to do this month, is find somewhere more sheltered to keep them.  They looks so nice on the veranda, but are far to much at the mercy of the wind and cold.  One of the places I am considering is the glasshouse, where they would join the lone orange tree.

These flowers and parsley are so much happier!

Jobs to do this month: - Dispose of the glass which came out of the glasshouse in the recent winds and smashed, which I have left lying in place... Weed the garden round the underground water tank.... Move the lemons and limes to a more suitable location

Harvesting this month: - Spring Onion, Cabbage (Red and Savoy), a few herbs, and that wonder food Kale

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A new jumper from an old one

Do you remember a photo I posted of hanks of unravelled wool drying on the Rayburn? Now it has been transformed into a hoodie for Albie

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Roast Carrot Soup - $5 bag of carrots

I picked up a $5 bag of "seconds" carrots yesterday at our local greengrocer.  Here's what I did with them, 

Cut up as many carrots as you think will almost fit in your biggest oven dish.  I used our food processor to chop them up.
Process about 5 onions also.  Put the carrots and onions in the largest oven dish you have, and generously slosh with oil.  Stir in 2T coriander seeds, 2t dried coriander, 1inch piece of fresh ginger (or use dried if you have it), 1t salt, pepper, 5 cloves of garlic (no need to peel or chop, just chuck them in).  

Bake on a low setting like 160C for a good hour.  Add 3 cups stock, adjust seasoning if necessary.

Bake another 1/2hr till everything is tender.

Whizz with a whizz stick.  Slaken with more stock, or cream, or sour cream if you want it less thick.

If freezing, do not add cream or sour cream, but freeze the puree in bags.  Add the cream after defrosting.