Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Summertime blues ...

Good evening ... or good morning wherever in the world you may be reading this ...
It's been an interesting few weeks in the garden, here in the tropics of Far North Queensland. We had probably 10 inches of rain a few weeks ago, but since then it's like the wet season has almost dried up. And yet there's still been a bit of rain floating around.
It's officially Autumn now of course which means we should really be coming into our growing season. We've been away a little bit of late and have another trip coming up soon, but hopefully after that we can get cracking and planting.
In the meantime, here's a few recent shots of what's growing and what we've been up to.

Yay! Finally some passionfruit. I never realised until relatively recently, but passionfruit vines die after a couple of years. So I was devastated when our previous vine died, but finally we've got some fresh babies growing. Yay!

Pawpaws have been fairly prolific this year. Forgive the wrong orientation. Too tired to correct, but you get the idea. Thinking I might throw a few in our new, whizbang dehydrator. Thanks Sis!

Capsicums. Seem to have been saved from the dog's jaws for some reason. Think some of these made their way onto Mr TG&C's home made pizzas tonight. Yumm.

Another prolific fruiter. Limes. This tree seems to bear fruit all year round. The other week I made a lime cordial - didn't have enough sugar (about half as much as needed) and it was the wrong sort (raw instead of white) but it's a good way to use them, anyway.

Bush lemon. Grow my pretties, grow!
What's growing in your neck of the woods?

Friday, 3 January 2014

There's a monster in the garden!

As I write this, a small boy is resting his head on my right forearm. Very cute, but hard to type.
A few minutes later and he's happily eating his dinner - cheesy vegetable-laden fritters and water, followed by fruit. Even though he was a BLW baby, I've struggled to get veges into him. Sometimes he'll go for a room-temperature cherry tomato, other times not, but that's about all that I can get into him without disguising it. I guess since he came into our lives I've become a lot more conscious of our own diet and just how damn processed it is sometimes. While hubby and I both are "farm kids" by background, you just can't get fresh local produce all year round where we live. Unless you go to the local "markets" and even then, only a few of the stalls are local and you have to get up at sparrows to get there before they sell out.
So we try to grow our own. Living in the tropics of Far North Queensland, that can be quite a challenge but sometimes the garden surprises. For example, at the moment, we're enduring 30+ days and the humidity is most unpleasant. Yes, that's not as hot as many other parts of Queensland at the moment but it's still mighty unpleasant.
And so we would have thought that growing anything at this time of year was pointless, but I was rattling off to a FB contact what's growing in the garden atm and I was pleasantly surprised. We have lemons and limes, as we do almost year-round. There's also a few pineapples ripening. And there's capsicums growing in a special fenced off area (fenced off from a certain grey dog who has a penchant for bell peppers!).
But then in our main vege patch we've had basil growing for aeons and aeons and aeons. After our last crop including sweet corn and sweetpeas (now happily resting in the freezer) concluded, we decided to let the main vege patch fallow for the hotter months. But low and behold, a monster butternut pumpkin vine has sprung up.
Then there's a Jap/Queensland blue lurking down the back. (Is there a difference or is it like the KP/Bowen mango thing?)
Oh, and then there's a couple of cherry tom's hanging on in a shaded section ...
Oh yes, and here's the so-far safe capsicum ...
What's growing in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Inspired ...

As anyone who follows me on social media might notice, I've had a bit of an epiphany of late. And it's all because of our fortnightly shop. After we got home, the boy was in bed asleep for the night and I went through the receipt to look at what was processed and what was not. Now, I should preface this by saying that we buy our meat from a local butcher (who I have blogged about before) and our fruit n veg from the local grocer - that is, anything we don't grow ourselves. But in this particular grocery receipt, there were four items that were not processed. Chicken breasts, eggs, avocado and something else that I can't remember. Pretty pathetic, hey. What am I giving my family? What is my little son ingesting??
So what could I make for myself? Could I become one of those people who makes most of their own food? Well, why not. We don't have a breadmaker - merely a very old, almost dead oven. But it made great bread. and I LOVED the kneading bit.
I'd like to try making flatbread. I'd also like to try to make a savoury snack biscuit. And why not yoghurt? And butter?
Well, I've sort of made my own fruit mince pies, seeing as it is the festive season. Though I did cheat and used store-bought pastry - somehow it's never worked for me here - I think it must be the humidity. But I made the fruit mince from scratch. That counts, right?
Last night I made lime basil sorbet ( Mine is very basil-y but definitely edible. Ingredients? Basil, limes, sugar and water. The first two were grown in our backyard. The sugar is the raw variety and the water is the rainwater variety.
Today I made my own Christmas cakes for the first time in my life. Here's the recipe as recommended by a good friend ... Bloody cakes. Smelt so damn good when they came out but I have resisted - two are going to be gifts and the other one is for us to take away. On said friend's recommendation, I did let the fruit steep in the alcohol for longer than recommended. And I used Mr TG&C's home made rum. That counts, too, doesn't it?
In the meantime, what's growing? Well the basil is ballistic, we've had a few pineapples (so incredibly sweet from such crap soil and little boy almost devoured a whole one in a day himself), still a few pawpaws, and pumpkins growing too.
What's growing and being produced in your yard and kitchen?
Happy cooking and eating this Christmas!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Using what we've got

How many times do we go through our garden and think "Gee, I've got so much of that ... (insert fruit or vegetable) ... what the heck can I do with it?"
Believe it or not, we've had that situation with pawpaws this season.
We've never previously had much success with pawpaws here in the tropics, particularly in our dreadful clay soil.
But for some reason this year we've hit paydirt, so to speak.
There's been pawpaws aplenty, you could say. I reckon we've had probably 20, which is a bit of an issue when Baby TG&C doesn't fancy them. This boy eats almost every fruit known to man and woman-kind, but nope, not pawpaw. Well, hopefully it's a case of not yet.
So we can't dispose of them down his gullet.
Earlier this week we found ourselves in the situation of having picked four that were ripe with more still ripening on the trees.
What to do, what to do?
So thanks to Mr Google, we found a recipe that seemed to suit.
Now I would never have thought of this combination myself, but I tells ya ... it works!
And the other beautiful factor was that we could use so much of our own produce - our own edible ginger and our own bush lemon.
Now I've got a bit of a "thing" about bush lemons. I happen to think they're the best sort there is.
This is a bit of a relic from my youth I guess, when my folks had bush lemons "down the back creek". So every year when they were fruiting we would make a couple of treks down the back for a picking session.
This happened to coincide with the local country show and I know I won a prize at least once for "my" bush lemons.
Anyway, I have digressed, of course.
So here she is, the famous new recipe.

The ginger gives a nice surprising little zing and I really felt the lemon helped it gel, contrary to the recipe, which seemed to indicate it wouldn't happen.
Unfortunately I didn't have the blog on my mind when I was cooking so there are no shots of the jam in progress, but there are shots of pawpaws before and I've done you the service of taking some shots of the jam jars.



Thursday, 29 August 2013

Today we're making...

A bloody big mess!
Yes, it's tomato passata.
What's the story?
Mr TG&C's tomato crop has been out of this world, this year. And we had over a kilo of beautiful, luscious, ripe tommy-toes gathering in the fridge. What to do with them all? There's only so many can be eaten on Sao's with cheese for afternoon tea and a cuppa.
And he wanted to do "something" with them.
Check out the recent tomato crop on the previous blog.
Having attempted relish and chutneys before and failed, I decided I wasn't up for that failure again.
And I had seen passata on some cooking show or other. So why the heck not?
Well, it's not difficult like Rosella Jam is.
It's just fiddly and rather messy.
Better clean up the kitchen before he gets home!
This is the recipe I used, though they all seem to be much-of-a-muchness...

Thanks SBS.
And in the absence of a tomato press, I was wracking my brains, trying to figure out how to squeeze all the goodness out. Tried our Christmas ham bag. Nup, no good, tomato guts went everywhere. So that was one dirty cloth to be washed.
Then I just got out a sieve and potato masher and did it that way. Seemed to be fairly effective though messy.
So in the end I reckon we ended up with about 1.5 jars (using our own basil leaves, of course). Which is ok. They're boiling away as we speak.
Wrapped up in a tea towel each. That's another two dirty cloths to be washed.
Why do I hurt myself so?
Till next time.

What a pithy,pulpy mess.

Note the splatter in the background. No, it's not a crime scene. Well, it's probably a cooking crime but only time will tell.

This is what I managed to reduce it down to - there was just the seeds and the skins (below) remaining.

Ta da!!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Of life and death ...

What a morbid headline, I hear you say. Well, I guess you could say that. But there's a tremendous amount of it around at the moment, so it seems. There always is, I know. But it seems to be hitting those around us particularly hard of late.
During a recent wander around "my" grounds, I got to thinking about the cycle of life. (Gawd almighty, this wasn't meant to be a D&M - someone stop me now!!)

Well, no one stopped me so here goes. There's so much death and sadness and pain that it becomes all the more important to appreciate the life that there is around us. In my view, that is.
The orchid that's never flowered before, that bloody rosella that seems determined to die (but I won't let it, dammit!), and the mandarin tree that just decided to up and kark it. (or cark it - either seems permissible?)
But then the tomatoes have gone great guns this year, the corn's been lousy, lettuce great, pawpaws prolific, pineapples on the grow, and bush lemons aplenty for pad thai.
Must do a lemon butter one of these days.
One of the constants in our garden is the lime tree. It ALWAYS has fruit on. The mango tree out the front on the other hand, never does. We're starting to think it's fruiting days are over. But it's still a  beautiful tree and gives fabulous privacy.
What's growing in your garden and what are you doing with it?

Don't mind the spots. Just cut them out. Grown sans chemicals so worth a cupla spots.

Special variety of tomato known as the prolific lawn cherry tomato. Great for feeding little boys fruit straight from the plant. Big boys too!

Lett...uce pray!


Oh look, there's a tomato.

Tomato, anyone?

Need I say more?

So how's about the weather, huh?

Corn. Obviously. Hopefully we'll get something edible this time around.

Pineapple. Also obviously. Hoping to make a pineapple jam for a good friend - if the fruit survives the three of us!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Starting over

Well, it's winter again so Mr TG&C has been hard at work planting seeds and then planting out the resulting seedlings. Well, those that come up. Not having a wonderful strike rate at the mo. What's yours like?
But we're not giving up and so far we have corn, tomatoes, snowpeas, capsicums and silverbeat planted in the vege patch.
Elsewhere in the garden we have a proliferation of pawpaws actually fruiting AND a few Jap pumpkins. These were a conundrum to me this time around as we had very few female flowers to pollinate the boy flowers with. Anyone got any tips on what it takes to create girl pumpkin flowers?
Anyway, here's a visual feast of what's growing ... and what's not!