Apricots and Eggs – A Story of Summer Glut

I had a day off yesterday and it was hot here in Hobart, so I decided to whittle down the egg glut a bit and bottle some of the bowls of apricots that were starting to take over the kitchen!

Apricots are my favourite summer fruit and I love growing my own. Sadly, the old Moorpark apricot tree that was in the yard when I arrived had brown rot and despite all my efforts, I had to cut it down two summers ago. Knowing I was fighting a losing battle, I planted a new tree about two and a half years ago, an improved Moorpark variety called “Brillianz”.

This is the first year I’ve let this little apricot tree set fruit and wanted to give it an opportunity to establish before taking on the burden of producing a full crop. It’s a lovely fruit to eat fresh but I also had a box of beautiful Weck preserving jars I wanted to fill up, and there’s nothing quite like opening a jar of apricots in the middle of winter to have in a pie or with custard – it’s like summer in a bottle!

The littlest apricot tree a few weeks ago


Bottled Apricots (aka Summer in a Jar) 

Traditionally in my family, summer preserving was a family event, with everyone getting involved but we would often be processing very large amounts of fruit. Bottling (or canning as it’s called in the US) a couple of kilos of apricots is ridiculously easy and something I encourage everyone to do if they have the opportunity. They taste so much better than store bought and (particularly if you’ve grown the fruit) you’ll know exactly what’s in your jars. If you have access to home grown fruit and some reasonable bottling jars (they sometimes come up secondhand), your biggest investment is time. If I’m working alone, I like to put a podcast on or some favourite music to listen to while I work. Dancing in the kitchen is mandatory 🙂

Apart from the fruit, you’ll need the following;

Good quality preserving jars, lids/seals and bands/clamps

A large stockpot

Clean tea towel

Filtered or rain water

Tongs or bottle clamps

Cooking thermometer (I prefer the ones that attach to the edge of the stock pot. They’re inexpensive, easy to clean and easy to read)

I always start with the jars, lids, seals and/or bands, washing them thoroughly, checking for any chips or sharp points on the glass and rinsing them thoroughly in clean hot water. This simple step is possibly the most important in getting good results from bottling. Then it’s time to go over the fruit and with apricots, I always use slightly under or just ripe fruit. Over ripe apricots turn to mush with processing and are better eaten fresh or stewed and frozen.

And while I’m in the realm of “tips and tricks”, despite what many people say, it isn’t necessary to use syrup to bottle fruit successfully. I’ve always processed mine in just plain water (filtered or rain water) and never had a problem with either storage or flavour. Apart from being much healthier, it cuts down on cost and time.

With these lovely Weck jars, I filled them generously with halved fruit (pip or stone removed), topped to the brim with cold, filtered water, put the seal in place on the glass lid, covered and clamped down. Each 370 ml (12.5 oz) jar held six whole fruit, so in total I used 36 apricots.

I have a set of cheap stainless steel stock pots (thank you eBay!) for making things like jam, syrups or stock and I find them perfect for processing bottled fruit. The trick is to put something on the bottom of the pan to create a barrier between the heat source and the glass jars – a folded tea towel is excellent.

Put the clamped jars on the tea towel and pour in warm water, making sure the jars are fully immersed. Bring the temperature up to 85 C (185 F) over an hour and maintain this temperature for another 30 minutes.

At the end of processing, I usually wait another 10 minutes and ladle some of the water off before trying to remove the jars with bottling tongs. Dropping a glass jar with boiling fruit inside is really not a good look, so please take care with this part of the process! Put the jars on a cooling rack or board out of the way, so you don’t have to move them the rest of the day. Allow them to cool completely before trying to test for a seal, and any that haven’t sealed properly are still fine to eat. They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and make a great quick dessert.

Once the sealed jars are cooled, label them and store on a pantry shelf, away from direct sunlight. They will last unopened for at least a year, though I doubt this little batch will make it past winter!

My chickens won’t stop laying this summer and I found myself again with way too many eggs for my household to deal with. I decided to make some very simple little egg-based tarts to freeze for lunches with some local bacon and a pastry that uses oil instead of butter. This is the basic recipe but it can be dressed up by adding a little minced garlic and/or onion when cooking the bacon or with a little grated parmesan and finely chopped herbs. If you want a vegetarian option, the bacon can be left out and substituted by lightly frying minced garlic, onion, finely shredded celery and mushroom. The options are as endless as your imagination – and what you’ve got on hand.

L-R: Blind baked case, bacon and bacon with ladled egg mixture

Simple Egg and Bacon Tarts (Makes 10)


1 cup (250g) Plain Flour

½ teas Baking Powder

Pinch of salt

¼ cup olive oil

Up to ¼ cup water

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, making a well in the middle. Add the oil first and mix thoroughly (it should be crumbly and soft). Then add water, a little at a time, to bring it to a ball. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.

Cut the dough in half and cover the unused portion so it doesn’t dry out. Roll out the other half of the dough on a lightly floured surface – I cheated and used my hand-cranked pasta machine and it was perfect!

Use a bowl or small plate to cut out rounds slightly bigger than your tart pans (mine are old Willow 3” tins) and press the pastry into each tin. Fork them to stop the pastry rising or use baking beads (or a handful of dry haricot beans) and blind bake for 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Allow to cool before filling.


6 rashers of bacon, diced

12 fresh eggs

¼ cup flour

Grated nutmeg

Seasoning to taste

Parsley &/or chives, chopped finely (optional)

In a heavy pan, gently fry the diced bacon until it’s browned. Take off the heat and with a slotted spoon remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, break the eggs and whisk them very well. Add a little grated nutmeg and season to taste and mix in chopped herbs if using. Sift the flour in and mix thoroughly, making sure there’s no lumps.

To assemble, arrange the ten pastry shells on a baking sheet and divide the bacon into each. Using a large spoon or soup ladle, divide the egg mixture into each shell, being careful not to overfill them. Bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before taking them from the tins, then allow them to cool completely on a rack. One per person with a green salad makes a lovely light lunch.

Enjoy and let me know how you go with these simple recipes 🙂

The finished tarts, cooling on the rack

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


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 ❤

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!


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 ❤

The Joy of Passions – Day 11 NaBloPoMo 2015

I consider myself a very lucky woman.

I’m surrounded by loving friends and family; I have ready access to good, clean food; I’m studying things that move and inspire me and I get paid to do things I love.

This was driven home yesterday when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Listened-To made his first ever Lemon Meringue Pie. I made the pie crust and stepped him through the process of separating eggs (something he’d never done before), making the curd, getting the meringue the right consistency and so on. He is a very accomplished cook but hasn’t much experience with baking. We used a recipe from and old CWA (Country Women’s Association) cookbook and reduced the sugar to suit our tastes. It was good for me as I realised that as bullet proof as the CWA recipes are, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge in them about technique.

The lemons came from my friend Sara, so we knew they were clean and chemical free and it was another way to deal with the ongoing egg glut. It was a very fun afternoon, with my son turning up halfway through to make everyone cups of tea, poke fun and offer suggestions. We had a great time 😀

The result was delicious, though we’ll reduce the sugar even further next time.

Smiley Meringue

Smiley Meringue

Healthy new Eggplant growth

Healthy new Eggplant growth

This morning I had a brainwave in the garden about my uni assignment – that I confess I haven’t fully written up yet but I’ll get there! And there were two delightful surprises that any gardener will recognise and understand.

Firstly, a well established finger eggplant in the greenhouse I thought was beyond hope has started shooting again. I grew three from seed about four years ago and because of the unpredictable weather we can get in southern Tasmania, I kept them in the greenhouse. All three overwintered quite well the first year but I lost two this last, very hard winter. At least there’s one left to gather seed from at the end of summer.

Secondly, and to my absolute delight, I discovered a punnet of very healthy asparagus seedlings at the back of a tray. Asparagus is probably my favourite vegetable, but I really can’t come at the shop bought article. It’s one of those things I only ever want to eat fresh from my own garden. It’s a slow process growing from seed, the viability is usually best in the first year and it takes 2-3 years to get plants to maturity. Then, you have asparagus for years!

I’ll be pricking these out into home made grow tubes in a couple of weeks and putting into a permanent bed in

Delicate Asparagus seedlings

Delicate Asparagus seedlings

December. The bed will be very heavily dug over and filled with as much old chicken poo and rabbit straw as I can lay my hands on. At the moment it’s full of potatoes that are in full flower and due to be dug in the next few weeks. Potatoes grow very well here and have been my “go to” crop for reclaiming lawn areas ever since I moved in but they do strip the soil of nutrients and asparagus are notoriously hungry feeders!

I’m incredibly grateful for all the good things in my life, it’s something that tends to get overlooked in the fast pace of the modern world. There never seems to be enough hours to do it all! Meanwhile, I’m hoping to get some more uni work done, some music rehearsal and just an hour or two of gardening later…….. 😉

What are you passionate about? Let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you all! 

The Busy-ness of Spring – Upcoming Shows

Chestnut Tree Spring Oct 2015

Hello friends,

I love spring. The cycle of the seasons visibly turns and every day brings new things in the garden, the chickens are laying more eggs than we can keep up with, and here in Hobart we’re coming out of the hibernation of winter and starting to go out again.

Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Fool

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla Ice Cream

Wee Beastie Sourdough

Wee Beastie Sourdough


And I’ve been busy! In the kitchen I’ve been making Vanilla Ice Cream and Baked Coffee Cheesecake with the excess eggs, brewing and bottling cider, making Rhubarb Fool from the mass of spring rhubarb and my weekly “Wee Beastie” Sourdough. It’s been absolutely wonderful to eat so well, with so much produce coming directly out of the garden.

The garden is always a work in progress but I’ve started planting out climbing beans this week, there’s basil in the Seeds and Basil Seedlings Oct 2015greenhouse and too many vegetable seedlings coming on to mention.

And there’s music happening too! I’m in the middle of a unit in Creative Writing for my second major through Griffith University. For my final assessment I’m planning to write a portfolio of new pieces that will become new songs. Depending how it goes, perhaps the core of another album.

Meanwhile, there’s gigs coming up too.

This Sunday at The Brunswick Hotel in Hobart, I’m playing a short set out in The Yard (the beer garden) with a bunch of other local musicians, including the incredibly talented Cassie O’Keefe and my friend Matt Dean. Very pleased also that this is a family friendly show, so feel free to bring your young music-lovers 🙂

Thursday 19th November, I’m sharing a night with Cassie at The Homestead in Elizabeth Street, one of my favourite places to go and hang out with friends. No idea what’s going to happen that one – we might even work out some songs to play together!

Friday 20th November, I’ll be doing the early spot at The Globe Hotel in Davey Street. If you haven’t caught this weekly event yet, I really recommend it. It’s organised by Kevin Gleeson who basically loves all kinds of music and is good friends with so many of us. It’s a great excuse to hang out and have a good time with mates.

And there’s more on the horizon! If you want to keep up to date with my shenanigans, hook up with me on Facebook here.

Yep, it’s spring and it’s busy – just how I like it.

Wherever you are, be well friends ❤