The Annual Egg Glut Games – Day 11 NaBloPoMo 2017

 

Despite being mostly older ladies, my six lovely chickens are laying for all they’re worth at the moment. So, as we do every year, I’m giving away eggs to family and friends and making a lot of egg-based dishes. We’ve had custards and cakes, hard boiled eggs in salads and whole egg mayonnaise.

At the moment, I’m also suffering from a spring glut of salad greens – life is tough (not)! So, I picked a bunch of vegetables this morning and made a rich and luscious pastry-free quiche for lunch. It’s a very easy recipe and I often make it as a vegetarian meal as eggs are a great source of protein. But today, I added a couple of rashers of diced bacon, fried with garlic. It also works really well with cooked and shredded chicken, pork or cooked white haricot beans or chickpeas. I’d also recommend adding chopped fresh Italian parsley or chives, it’s really dependent on what you have on hand.

 

Deb’s Vegetable & Bacon Quiche (Serves 4)

 

6-8 free range eggs

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 thick bacon rashers

2 small leeks, washed and chopped (can be substituted with shallots or spring onions)

4-5 cups shredded green vegetables (spinach, silverbeet, kale, collards, rocket, pak choy, mustard greens)

1/2 cup milk (can be substituted with 1/4 cup cream)

1/4 cup plain (all purpose) flour

2 cups of grated Colby cheese (Cheddar would be fine)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

a little grated nutmeg

Method: 

Preheat an oven to 160 C (320 F). Dice the bacon and fry gently. Add the minced garlic towards the end, taking care not to burn it. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Whisk the eggs until frothy, grate in nutmeg, mix in the milk (or cream) and flour.

Using a fork or mixing spoon, gradually add the chopped vegetables and grated cheeses. Stir through the cooled cooked bacon, making sure everything is well incorporated and coated in the egg mixture.

Pour into a greased 20 cm (8 inch) souffle dish and bake for 45-55 minutes. This makes a soft-set quiche, but if you want it firmer, I recommend covering with foil and baking a further 10 minutes.

Serve alone as a light lunch or with a salad for dinner.

Let me know if you try this and what you used in your mix – I love your feedback!

Take care and I’ll see you tomorrow ❤

Garden Update – Day 8 NaBloPoMo 2017

Yesterday, I wrote about teaching Food Gardening so I thought it was only right and proper to give you all a little update on my own urban farm.

While it’s undoubtedly spring and the soil is starting to warm, I suspect my patch is about two or three weeks behind where we were last year. Raspberries were setting fruit this time last year and I was getting ready to lift the main garlic crop for curing. At the moment, all the berries are only just flowering and the early garlic (my main crop) is nowhere near ready yet. Nevertheless, there’s bright spots – it looks like I’ll get my first Tayberries this summer ❤

Tayberry flower

Also, we’ve had a rough entry into spring, with very warm weather followed by snow and a few very cold nights in the past month. This didn’t seem to hurt my young apricot tree, which has quite a few fruit on this year. The plum an nectarine are loaded and I’m thrilled that my pollination plan with my 2nd year dwarf apple trees worked a treat. All four trees are looking incredibly healthy and all carrying fruit. I’ll be thinning it pretty drastically to encourage stronger trees and discourage biennial fruiting but I’m very, very happy to be finally looking at a few home grown apples at the end of summer.

Baby Royal Gala apples

Because of the up and down weather, I haven’t planted out this summer’s tomatoes yet, but I decided to grow them on a bit longer in folded paper pots. It’s a really good way to use up newspaper and come planting time (this weekend I hope), I can put the whole thing in the ground and avoid transplant shock.

Mama Mia tomatoes, waiting for the sunshine

As you can see above, I mark the plant name and the date they were potted up as I tend to lose plant tags. If anyone’s interested, I’ll write up some instructions on this great little paper recycling tip.

In the meantime, the zucchini’s are in the ground (most of them survived the cold) carrots are starting to size up, the late garlic that I’ll be lifting in the new year looks fabulous but a good deal of the early garlic that I normally dig up in November looks like it’s rotted in the ground. Incredibly distressing! Also, the Snow Peas were decimated by slugs this year but the potatoes are looking great.

Through it all, the chickens just keep on laying eggs! Considering most of my ladies are quite elderly (4 years and older) they really are quite remarkable and I’m struggling to keep up with them!

Madame Mephisto

So that’s all for today – I’m off to bed early tonight as I have to do my six monthly blood test tomorrow morning and I’m helping out with a fencing job afterwards. Sometime tomorrow I have to make bread, write a story draft for uni, do my prep for teaching work on Friday and maybe do some catch up with weekly work for uni. (I’m tired just thinking about it!)

Take care friends and see you soon ❤

Sunset from my backdoor

Sick Day Blues – Day 5 NaBloPoMo 2017

Well, best laid plans and all that jazz……..

I was supposed to go out to the wonderful MONA today for a special lunch with a whole bunch of female musician friends but no such luck 😦

Last week, I got a Whooping Cough and Tetanus booster shot from my GP because there’s a very small and extremely precious brand new member of our tribe I want to hang out with. My doctor warned me I might have some pain from the Tetanus part of the deal and it would hang around for a few days. Yep, he was right on all counts – but I’m sure it will be worth it!

When I got up this morning I had trouble lifting my arm above my shoulder, so hanging the washing out was pretty hilarious – not! Combined with very little sleep last night, I feel utterly wrecked today, so I’ve decided to rest up so I can make music tomorrow with my friends at Oak Tasmania.

Meanwhile, after wrestling with the clothes, I found some lovely bits around the yard that made me smile. I live in a fairly moist climate and there’s always water in the garden for bees and native birds. But because I breed rabbits, I try and avoid mosquitoes as they carry some truly awful diseases. So, I got some tadpoles from my friends Josie and David and was really pleased that they’re thriving in a tub I eventually plan to turn into a wicking barrel. I spotted some fat little chappies this morning, feasting on mosquito larvae 😀

And over near the chook house (aka as Frankenhutch) I drank in the heady perfume of lemon and lime flowers ❤

The lime in particular is thriving, after surviving the Tasmanian winter and after the flowers have gone, I plan to leave a couple of flowers and see if we can have a few fresh limes next year.

I’m resting up now, dinner’s in the slow cooker (Beef and Bean Curry) and I’ve movies to watch and uni work to do.

See you all tomorrow!

Spring Chicken – Day 3 NaBloPoMo 2017

The weeks are flying by now and the year is almost done. We’ve moved over to Daylight Saving Time last month, and the days are noticeably longer. Nevertheless, there was snow on Mt Wellington/kunanyi this morning. It made me very happy I held off planting the tomatoes last week!

In so many ways I feel I wasted the long evenings of winter with study, books and too much YouTube! It’s depressing. I had so many plans for sewing and handwork projects, seed sorting and trying some different recipes but so little seems to have come to fruition apart from the seed saving. Looking on the bright side though, I do have very good uni marks and jars of saved vegetable seeds!

A couple of months ago I got lucky, splurged a little and finally bought a food processor. As someone who’s serious about food, I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve never owned one but I could never justify the expense of something decent, so I stuck with my old blender and a good set of knives and whisks. But a friend had a Kitchen Aid her son bought and never used, complete with a case overflowing with attachments and at a very reasonable price. It was a very VERY good idea!

The first thing I made with it was a main course that looks harder to make than it is. The food processor makes easy and quick work of mincing the meat but as with all these kinds of stir fries, the trick is to have everything else chopped and ready to go before you start cooking! I used a lot of fresh vegetables from the garden for the rice (broccoli, silverbeet, spring onion, mustard greens, kale, orach, over-winter carrots and celery) but I suggest you play around with it and use what you have on hand. I also used one of the first lemons from my little tree, eggs from my hens (who insisted on laying through winter, bless them), some of last summer’s garlic crop and home-grown dried chillies.

Spicy Chicken Patties with Enriched Fried Rice (Serves 4-6)

 

Spicy Chicken Patties

2 skinless chicken breasts

1 onion

Thumb of ginger *

1-3 cloves garlic (to taste)

1 fresh lime or lemon

¼-1 teas dried chilli (to taste)

1 tab sesame oil

1 tab Chinese cooking sherry

1 tab plain flour

Flour for dusting and a little oil for cooking

*Don’t laugh – I use my thumb to measure fresh ginger and find it’s surprisingly accurate! From the tip of my thumb to the first joint is half a thumb, to the second joint is a full thumb.

Method:

Peel and quarter the onion, peel the garlic clove(s), peel the ginger and put in the food processor bowl. Pulse until chopped. Cut the chicken into chunks and add to the processor with the chili, sesame oil and cooking sherry. Carefully pulse so the chicken is a fine mince. Turn the whole mixture into a mixing bowl, grate in the lime or lemon zest and squeeze in the juice. Add the tablespoon of plain flour (All Purpose flour to my US friends) and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavours to develop.

Heat a heavy based pan with a little oil. Put a little plain flour in a shallow bowl. With damp hands, form the chicken patties into small balls. Coat them in the flour and fry them over medium heat for a few minutes each side until cooked. Keep warm while you assemble the Fried Rice.

 

Enriched Fried Rice

1 cup long grain rice

Water to cook

A little oil for frying

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ thumb ginger, finely chopped

1 tab soy sauce

1 tab sesame oil

1 teas dried chilli

2 eggs beaten in a bowl with a few drops of soy or fish sauce

2 cups hard vegetables chopped (carrot, broccoli florets, celery, mushrooms, snow peas, etc)

2 cups soft greens shredded (spinach, silverbeet, mustard greens, orach, parsley, coriander, kale, etc)

Method:

Cook the rice by your favourite method while you get the flavour base started and the Spicy Chicken Patties cooked. (My favourite way of cooking rice is the absorption method in the microwave.)

In a large heavy pot, heat a little oil, add the garlic, ginger, onion, chilli, soy and sherry. Keep stirring over a medium heat – don’t let this burn! Once the onion is translucent, add the hard vegetables and cook a further minute. Add the cooked rice – it should be about 3 cups now – and the sesame oil. Stir it thoroughly. Add the beaten eggs and keep stirring, making sure the egg mixture coats every piece of rice and vegetable. (If it starts to stick, take it off the heat, keep stirring and add a teaspoon or two of water.) Add the soft vegetables, take off the heat and stir them through.

Serve immediately, garnished with some fresh chopped coriander, flat-leaf parsley or spring onion greens – or all three!

The verdict was pretty clear – the Kitchen Aid is a winner! I think it will really come into it’s own once this summer’s crops come in. Processing cooked tomatoes for Passata, basil, garlic and olive oil for pesto base, juicing lots of citrus fruit for bottling syrup and beating egg whites for fresh berry pavlova will be much, much easier 😀

Something in the Air

Full moon at dawn

Hello friends,

It’s been another busy week, lots of writing, reading, gardening and music! The image above was snapped on my mobile phone at daybreak Tuesday morning, when I was getting ready to head off to work. The weather’s been fairly typically cold and frosty mornings but sunny most of the day. Great weather for working outside – as long as I keep moving!!!

In my reading, I came across an interesting old method of planting peas, and it reminded me of something my dad used to do when I was an avid young food gardener. The idea is to plant the peas in a good quality mix in clean half eggshells and once the seedlings are big enough, the whole thing can be planted out. The eggshells with break down in time and offer extra calcium to the plants. My family love Snow Peas and the only variety I grow these days is Mammoth Melting, a lovely heirloom variety and I let a few pods grow on so I have a fresh supply of seed for the next year.

Although I’m a little late, we tried it out at Oak this week, planting two dozen for the Food Garden program, and was thrilled how engaged my crew were with the idea, even to sorting out a watering plan. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they fare 😀

I had a great time yesterday, weeding the incredible garlic beds in the sunshine, and picked a massive winter salad for dinner last night. But today really felt like a proper winter’s day, with steely grey clouds, cold wind and I even disturbed a bird of prey eyeing off my chickens and rabbits – twice!!! The first time was fairly early this morning, as I was feeding the animals (who are all in secure, closed areas by the way!) and again late this afternoon as I picked greens for tonight’s stir fry. It was too fast to get a decent photo on my mobile phone but I think it was a Brown Falcon, a fairly common bird throughout Tasmania. Some of you might recall a few years ago I came out one morning and found a beautiful White Goshawk perched on the chickens’ enclosure. It’s not unusual to see birds of prey here, despite being only a few minutes from central Hobart!

The chickens offered up three eggs despite their would be visitor, testimony again to day length being the trigger for egg laying rather than temperature. Despite the cold today, I get the sense of something stirring as the days slowly get longer again. We’re past the winter solstice and on the home stretch. Time to top dress the asparagus bed! 🙂

Take care everyone, wherever you are ❤

4pm Sunday 16 July 2017

 

Aioli – The Love Affair

Hi everyone,

I just posted a pic on Facebook of a batch of Aioli I made this afternoon and one of my friends asked for the recipe. Easy done I thought, I’m sure it’ll be on my blog somewhere – but I couldn’t find it! High time I rectified this incredible oversight!

I’m not a true mayonnaise connoisseur like some of my friends and in truth, I rarely eat it. I do like to make this however in summer and autumn, when eggs are plentiful and garlic is still fresh and pungent. And I dug late potatoes this morning, a Dutch cultivar called Patrone that are apparently a fabulous salad potato. I’ve never grown them before, so this week will be full of interesting taste tests 😀

Home grown/made potato salad and Aioli is one of those dishes that is sex on a plate, everything about it screams wonderful. The texture of the potato cubes, their earthy flavour against the rich, creamy Aioli, with the pungent garlic and the lemony tang at the finish. You get the picture? This is love! And I make this only three, maybe four times a year, when everything required is in season.

So, here’s the Aioli recipe. Please bear in mind several things. Firstly this uses raw eggs so always get them from a reliable source and be assured they are fresh. Secondly, that I make this by feel and taste and recommend that you do the same. I used 8 eggs for this batch as I’m giving a pot to a mayonnaise-obsessed friend too. My rule of thumb is a clove of garlic per egg yolk and it works well for me. The finished Aioli will keep for a week in the refrigerator, though it usually disappears very quickly at my place!

Aioli 

Egg yolks                  Fresh minced garlic             Olive oil                 Lemon juice           Salt

In a clean bowl separate the eggs (I freeze the whites for later use in baking). Crush, peel and mince the garlic (I sprinkle a little salt on the crushed, peeled cloves and mash it in with the flat of a cook’s knife, making a particularly fine mince). Add this to the eggs and beat them well until they’re frothy. Here, you can use a hand beater but I prefer a balloon whisk.

7 eggs that looks like 8 – spot the double-yolker!

Very slowly add the olive oil while beating the egg mixture. A thin drizzle is best – you really don’t want this to split! (I put a teatowel on the bench to stop the bowl from flying away too). For my 8 egg yolks I used  a very generous cup of my Basil Oil for an extra summery note but any good extra virgin olive oil will be fine. Keep beating until the consistency is like thick cream. Once you’re happy with this, start adding the lemon juice. I recommend beginning with half a tablespoon per yolk and do a taste test. Adjust as needed and add seasoning if you want. Pot up, label and refrigerate immediately.

Apart from making the sexiest potato salad dressing in the world, this is wonderful with chicken, fish, green salad and as a dipping sauce.

Enjoy 😀

Stay well friends, and I’ll see you soon ❤

And So It Goes – Day 30 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today is the last day of the blog challenge for 2016. I think this is the third year I’ve been involved with NaBloPoMo and this one’s probably been the easiest in many ways.

Life has been no less busy, in truth I’ve probably been more stressed than I have in years but after three years of NaBloPoMo and three years of constant writing for university under my belt, I tend to make time in my day to make these blog posts happen.

I’ve got back into the habit of writing!

And perhaps more to the point, I’ve got into the habit of seeing and doing things that I want to write about and share here. Today was a very good case in point – as soon as I saw this in the yard I wanted to write about it!

I had to say goodbye to my apricot tree a while back (my favourite fruit). Sadly, it had brown rot and I really couldn’t save it. In anticipation, I planted another two years ago. It’s doing really well and I decided to let it bear a couple of fruit this year so I could at least have a taste of apricot goodness. Unfortunately, we had some high winds and I found the few fruit I’d let stay had fallen 😦

And then, this morning while I was weeding around the tree, I found this!!!!

img_20161130_110812

It is quite big and won’t be ripe for at least another month, possibly six weeks, it might not even make it – who can tell? But it’s the only one on this little tree and I’m unbelievably thrilled.

Meanwhile, the rabbits and chickens are incredibly indignant. We’ve had workmen in to remove English Ivy from the backyard. The rabbits were upset that we had to move their hutches near the chickens and the chickens were indignant that the rabbits were there at all. And then there’s been all the noise and power tools upsetting everyone’s calm – it’s been bedlam! Hopefully, it will all be finished tomorrow and we can get back to the usual run-of-the-mill bedlam that passes for normality in my place 😀

I might take a break from blogging for a few days – I have baking to do tomorrow and my birthday to celebrate on Friday – but there’s things afoot that I’ll want to write about coming up.

So thank you for reading, and take care dear friends wherever you may be on this beautiful little planet. I’ll see you soon ❤

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