Saturday, 27 August 2011

Weekend's events

Well, it's been nothing if not an action-packed weekend in the TG&C household. A little less of the gardening and a little more of the cooking.
Firstly, mother dearest and I managed to have a more successful bout of making passionfruit jubes. Delish, let me tell you - strained passionfruit pulp (about 15), caster sugar, gelatine, water. Last time we didn't put enough gelatine in, but this time we did. Yumbo.
I had had the recipe for a while and re-discovered it in my search for passionfruit recipes out of the norm. You know, anything other than on pavlova.
I am planning a recipe section on this blog, but while I'm learning to drive, if anyone wants the recipe, drop me a line.
Other gourmet (??!) creations include tomato chilli jam, which we found in a Gourmet Traveller cooking book lent to us.
This went particularly well with the much talked about zucchini and smoked salmon fritters. I do have to say they need "something", but not sure yet what that something is. Couldn't believe how much moisture to wring out of the zucchinis!
Still got four zucchinis in the crisper to use so more ideas are gratefully accepted.
Also boiled down some of the abundance of tomatoes to make a tomato sauce - in the same vein as tinned tomatoes. so we now have two batches, happily freezing away.
In other news, Mother Dearest and I had to go to Big W yesterday to get some photos printed, and I suggested that seeing as we were there, that we should just poke our noses into the gardening section.
They had fig trees! and raspberries! and rhubarb plants!
Muchos excitement. Particularly re: the fig tree. Think it cost $12. There was another customer looking at them at the same time as us, and while Mum didn't think I should buy the fig, he said to give it a go. He was a mature gentleman from Innisfail, originally from Greece, who said he has one in Innisfail and it's going well. So fingers crossed. He also showed me the best one to buy and said when I plant it, put some rocks in the hole, because where he comes from in Greece, they spring up between the rocks. Oh, and lime. He was a great source of information. Need more interactions like that.
So we also bought the rhubarb plants (have you ever made rhubarb jam??) but gave the raspberries a miss. I have heard they grow "up the hill", but not too sure about down here on the lowlands.
What have you bought from the nursery this weekend, or made from your own produce?

Friday, 26 August 2011

Almost wordless Friday

Baby passionfruits. I think these are the purple ones
Inspired by a good friend, this is my idea of wordless (almost) Friday. Do a few captions count? Here's the story of our garden, at the moment, told photographically.

The citrus are fruiting! The citrus are fruiting!

Wild sown tomato running free.

Something pretty, lettuce, something pretty.

Eggplant. We don't eat a lot of this, but we're learning!

The baby butternut pumpkins.

Corn sown down the bottom of the ornamental garden where we recently got rid of an unwanted tree.

Snowpea teepee.

The passionfruit vine. Donated as seedlings by the next door neighbours.

Zucchinis. What to do with them?

Baby jap pumpkin

Thursday, 25 August 2011

What's growing in the garden

Well, here we have it, late August, almost Spring (!) and we are overwhelmed, nay inundated with produce.
Just proves what can be achieved.
I have to say, from the beginning, that most of this year's crops were sown and planted in consultation with Sheree Scott's Moon Gardening Calendar. It has been invaluable and we have noticed the difference by using it this year, compared to previous years when we didn't have it.
We're finally starting to pick a few carrots, which are almost a year-round part of our diet, so great to be able to grow our own. Husband is picking tomatoes daily, though the snow peas have slowed down to almost nil. He has planted some more elsewhere in the "ornamental" section of the garden so hopefully we get some more before the wet season sets in. He has been busy blanching and freezing them, so the freezer is gradually filling up.
The zucchinis keep coming and almost every morning there is hand pollinating to be done. This is always a race between husband and I as to who was responsible for the pollinating.
We've got some jap pumpkin vines growing in the front ornamental garden and managed to find both male and female flowers so finally have another pumpkin growing.
I bought a butternut the other week to make "good" pumpkin soup for mother dearest, planted the dried out seeds in the back ornamental garden, and they're already waving in the breeze.
There's plenty of passionfruit - made some passionfruit jellies last night, though have to admit I haven't tasted them yet.
And much to my delight, yesterday I found one of our pineapples is growing a baby. They take a long time to grow, but so worth it!

So recent meals have been pretty well comprised of our own produce. Tonight's salad with salmon rissoles was comprised of our lettuce, our tomatoes, a friend's cucumber (Thanks Leah!) and some marinated fetta from Gallo.
Oh yes, there's also a couple of pawpaws growing out the front, and our citrus fruit FINALLY have some babies on them.
The mango tree in the front yard also has some fruit set, though not much as it took a rather severe pruning earlier in the year.
The dawg guards that day's produce
There's a lettuce hiding behind that pumpkin leaf!


More lettuce

Oh wait, there's another lettuce!

Baby tomato bush in the ornamental section

Baby chilli in the ornamental section
More photos over the weekend, hopefully.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Of failures and discoveries ...

Well, due to popular demand, I am compelled to recount my most recent failure.
Apparently that's a good thing ... right? That way you'll see I'm not perfect? Eeek.
Well, mashed parsnip was not a success in the TG&C household last week.
I failed to listen to my mother's advice (!) and decided to roast the home-grown parsnip before mashing it. Uh uh. Mother dearest advised boiling it first. She's from the boiling generation, you see.
I did heed the online recipe instructions, and did not roast the core. This is where the fibrous bit is.
Well, the parsnip sat in our aged oven for abt half an hour and failed to soften. So it was served roasted. Sort of.
However, I am determined to tell you about at least one success. Recently we had a spectacular lamb roast. Oh so tender. Not so much due to my cooking, I hasten to add, but due to the beautifully-prepared hunk of meat. Thank you, Earlville Butcher! Anyway, as we all know, with a piece of roast meat, one must serve roast vegetables. So with our piece of baby sheep we had roast beetroot, carrot, and parsnip, all from our garden, along with some briefly boiled zucchini.
It seems we currently have about six zucchinis sitting in the crisper so we're researching more recipes. I have one for a zucchini and smoked salmon fritter and mother dearest suggested a zucchini relish. Am i game enough? Suggestions? Preferences?
Oh, have been absent for a cupla days, been on a roadtrip with the aforesaid Mother Dearest, to Cooktown. More research needed, but the chef at the Sovereign Resort seems to be rather brilliant. We had spectacular meals both nights, including potato mash with .... truffle oil! Must buy some, don't think there's any grown here in the tropics. Suggestions on where to buy, please?
On another note, I would just like to say, keep the comments coming, I'm loving the feedback and suggestions. All very new to this blogging caper, so am  open to ideas.
'Till next time ....

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Today's harvest

Greetings, followers, if in fact there are any out there.
Today, from our garden, we harvested a few things.
Firstly, there was a couple of yellow passionfruit, which I have added to the pile for future use. Am thinking of a little passionfruit lolly for them. Found a very smple recipe in a mag ages ago, which I did try last week, but failed to put enough gelatine into on first attempt. Will advise how attempt number 2 goes.
Secondly, there was another damn zucchini. We now have about three of our own in the crisper, and after making a HUGE batch of mum's famous (well, famous with me, anyway) zucchini soup last week, I think we have enough of that. Mother sent a recipe for a yummy looking zucchini and smoked salmon fritter the other week so might give that a crack.
Oh, and tomatoes. we seem to be picking ripe tomatoes every day. Today there were heirlooms, grosse lisses and a throwback yellow one. This chap certainly seems ripe to touch and seems to be covered in a furry down. Will advise what he turns out like.
And then, yes, I know, the list is never ending, there is parsnip. I'm going to attempt a parsnip mash. Sounds fancy, doesn't it. Our parsnips have not been huge, we think that's because the "good" soil we have in our vege patch is not very deep, so when the parsnips (or carrots) hit the crappy stuff, they give up. 
Today's bounty

Husband's sun and oven dried tomatoes

Passionfruit pulp
Will advise on success (or otherwise) of these projects in due course. If there's interest, that is!

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Greetings, salutations and hullo.
Welcome to my thoughts, for what they are worth, about gardening in the tropics and cooking with what you grow.
Who the heck is The Tropical Gardener and Cook?
Well, I grew up on a smallcrops farm in southern Queensland so a life on the land is close to my heart. Having moved to FNQ about six years ago and having not much income, my husband (a former farmboy) and I were keen to start our own vegie garden.
But for those who know, gardening in the tropics is not a piece of cake and finding valid, credible information can be a challenge.
It is important to grow what is in season and more importantly, eat it while it's fresh.
And as those of you who have tried it know, sometimes it can be a challenge finding recipes for tropical produce.
That's where I come in. I am not an expert on either topic, far from it. But I would like to think of myself as a filter, a gatherer of information and hopefully we can learn and grow our gardens and kitchens together.
I am keen and eager for comments and input, so please let me know what you think.