Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A bloke called Nev

Tonight I'd like to talk to you about our new bestie, Nev.
Nev's a butcher from the Atherton Tableland. Tolga, to be precise.
We found him by word of mouth, as is often the case, when we asked some people on the Tableland if they could recommend a local butcher.
They told us to go find the Bones Knob Butchery at Tolga. Bones Knob? What the?
As you drive into Tolga from the southern end, you will usually see a sign pointing in the general direction of Nev's place.
Now on the day we went there, Nev wasn't officially open. But the door wasn't locked and he was there. So we asked if we could get some meat? After some general discussion, he said we could put in an order and he would deliver it to us. In Cairns. About an hour away.
Nev's butcher shop is out on a farm, with yards right next door. And he told us he only buys his cattle from a few graziers on the Tableland. That was more than good enough for us. This was exactly what we were looking for.
So we put in our order. It was a fairly hefty order, but we do have a big freezer, and we don't like going to the butcher's in town too much if we can avoid it.
Now, Nev got caught up in a few other things, as we all do, and wasn't able to get our order down to us for a week or two. Nev felt terrible about this! And he told us he was throwing in a "small" ham to say sorry for the late delivery.
Like so many men, perhaps he doesn't have a realistic idea of size, because his idea of a small ham, was five kilograms worth. And I had to type that out so you comprehended the sheer size of what he had done. Five kilograms! And it was beautiful. Well, it still is. Being just the two of us, Mr TG&C and I decided there was no way we could eat it all, so husband chopped it up into more manageable segments. We still have one left in the freezer. The best ham ever.
And let me say, all the meat was beautiful. We have and will buy from him again. He delivers, the price is MORE than reasonable and the meat is tasty and it's local.
And Nev's a top bloke. What more could you want?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Of success and failure ....

What a busy weekend it's been at the TG&C household. Gardening, cooking, oh and housework. Borrrrring!
Back to the fun stuff.
Where to begin. At the beginning, I suppose.
When we bought this shack, there were elements that were pretty ordinary - fences, the soil was crapola, no vege patch (unimaginable!) etc, etc.
So one of the first things we did was install some water tanks. Three in fact. This might seem like a lot, but it's not really. Sure, they fill up quickly, but even if full, they're don't hold enough to see us through the dry season. Water from this trio is used on the vege patch, once a week the "back paddock" gets a watering through the Mr TG&C installed irrigation system, and we use it for drinking water too.
We know this is controversial, but we both grew up on farms where rainwater was de rigeur. My folks even had a thunderbox when I was little. But that's another story.
So we're happy with and love our water tanks.

One of the other things we got into is compost. Compost, compost, compost. We have one of those square, plastic, movable things which isn't ideal, but it does the job for now. With the heat we're experiencing at the moment, the contents are breaking down very quickly. But once it's filled we have to put our kitchen scraps elsewhere, so it gets buried. Which is a bit like running the gauntlet as there is a certain grey person who lives here, who likes digging up smelly things. No, not Mr TG&C.

Our kitchen scraps bin usually gets emptied a couple of times a week and we put everything into it - even onion skins. I know there is divided opinion about this, but we've not noticed a problem. The only things that don't go in the compost are meat and dairy products. We even chuck prawn and other seafood scraps in there. Provided the grey digging person can be restrained sufficiently.

In other garden news, Mr TG&C apparently meant to put our old mop in the bin the night before bin day, and was frustrated that he forgot. So I said, that's just as well. We can use it as a stake! Ergo, it's now a stake. Recycling at it's best.

So here is a snap of some beautiful tomatoes, ripening on the bush. Well, they were until this morning when we noticed that one had been totally decimated by birds and big chunks had been eaten out of another two. I think that's happened to a nearby capsicum too. It's gone! Usually when the grey person chews capsicums (and he is QUITE partial to them) there is a bit left. Not this time. And I cannot find any scraps around the garden. Are the mynah birds getting hungry?

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, yesterday I did my first ever vegetable soup. I'd had to buy celery for the green tomato chutney and thought "what can I do with the rest of this?" So vege soup it was. Went down the vege patch and harvested a carrot and parsnip. Already had onion and garlic in stock, so away we went. And it was bloody good! Like, REALLY good. Mr TG&C had some for lunch today and reckoned it was edible. I think.
Anyway, this afternoon I tried a zucchini relish. Fail. The recipe was just ... bizarre. It come from Mother Dearest and I don't know if she's ever tried it, but it was not a roaring success. Next time I'll turn to Dr Google.

Until then ....

Friday, 16 September 2011

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble ....!

Salutations and I hope the weekend weather is treating you well. This is part of the reason why we live here. Yeah, baby!
Over the last few days some TG&C produce has made its way into the kitchen for a good ol' cook up.
Tomatoes have been boiled down to make a thick tomato sauce for spag and lasagne-style dishes.
Then there's been the inaugural making of the green tomato chutney. Recipe here: http://allrecipes.com.au/recipe/6797/green-tomato-chutney.aspx
Now, I'm not really one to run down my own cooking and it IS very good (if I do say so myself). However, it's not very tomato-ey. And you have to buy lots of other things that aren't necessarily grown here like green apples and sultanas. So, philosophophically speaking, does that defeat the purpose of growing and cooking with your own? If you have to also buy other stuff?
Would love to hear what you think.
In the meantime, here's some kitchen shots.

From this ....

And this ....

To this!
And this. This be the green tomato chutney. Not very green, is it.

Anyone want to buy a ute? great for shovelling horse pooh in the garden ...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

A quick note ...

Just a quickie, guys.
Cairns Regional Council Friends of the Botanic Gardens advice that  this month's Talk and Walk is about "Practical Propagation" by the Gardens' principal propagator Steve Jackson.
Saturday 17th September 0900 - 1200, behind the old Gardens' office - just follow the signs.
Morning tea provided, Members free, Visitors $10.

What's growing ...

Greetings fellow gardeners and cooks.
Hope you've all had a good week.
Firstly, would like to send a shout out to my mate Gav King, who gave TG&C a shout out this week. And I'd like to congratulate him on being the force behind this week's herb garden initiative in the Cairns CBD. Check it out here: http://www.cairns.com.au/article/2011/09/16/182565_local-news.html.
In the meantime, here's a bit of an update of what's growing at the moment. I have to admit to a growing (pun intended) apprehension about the garden for the next few months, as it's becoming very dry and I know the moisture is going to be just sucked out. I would like to see some temporary shadecloth installed over the main vege patch though I haven't talked husband into that yet. After all, he's most likely the one to be doing the manual labour (I'm the ideas person?) so I really do need to have him onside.
Baby pumpkins growing. Grow, my precious!

Hopefully the next crop of corn, down the "back paddock".

Passionfruit vine. Nice arbor, huh? These two plants are growing on two big palm trees that I requested husband shift as they were very close to the house. It seems only one has survived.

Baby zucchinis, ripe for the pollinating.

Oh yay! Another tomato!

Baby pumpkin.

Watch this space ....

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Weekend's happenings

Buzz, buzz, buzz. Busy little bee.
That's been me this weekend. Sometimes you just want to be slothful and other times you just can't be doing enough. Well, the latter has been me (so far) this weekend. Surely it has to end sometime?
It started with a gift. The gift of soil. Free stuff. Always a bonus. Think I've mentioned before that the soil here is fairly ordinary. Well, some friends were re-doing their front garden and had some leftover soil which they generously donated to our cause. They've had plenty of tomatoes and other produce so it's a fair exchange. Said soil has been used in low patches and to generally top up the level of the garden beds. So that was good and yes, husband did most of the work. As usual.
What else? Well, we've been harvesting again, as per usual so Friday I stewed up some more tomatoes (we had three big bowls full in the fridge) to make a tomato .... thing, for putting in spaghettis and lasagnes, so they're now resting in the freezer. Made the famous coconut and lime cake Friday, using some leftover passionfruit from the freezer for icing. Husband came home from work 2am Saturday and lo-and-behold, there's a slice missing Saturday morning. Hmmmm.
Then the soil donor came over yesterday for a cuppa so let's just say the cake is fairly well gone now. Think there's about two slices left.
Had some MORE leftover passionfruit icing, so made some coconut cupcakes and topped them with that. Mother dearest thinks I'm nuts, making something just to use something up. Well, so be it. I'm officially nuts.
We've had a few sprinkles of rain last night and this morning so the garden would be LOVING that. Has been quite dry.
If anyone out there can give me any tips on how to load recipes onto this site, or cute name suggestions, I'd be most appreciative. Am after something catchy. The winner wins .... the kudos of knowing they came up with the winning name. That's worth it, isn't it? Maybe I'll make you something. If you're within cooee's distance.
Here's some pics to tide you over till next time ....

Chopping lime rind. I find this little chopper absolutely excellent. Oh, and bash the limes a few times before juicing them so they're not so hard.

Frozen passionfruit pulp.

Chopped lime rind. It does a good job of it, hey.

Another damn tomato. Crikey! What a bewdy!

The suspect slice taken from the coconut & lime cake. Hmmmm.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

What's growing ....

Phew, what a week!
Mother dearest has now returned to her homeland, so there's no more joint cooking adventures, but I'm sure she'll still advise from afar.
Did some horse pooh shovelling with husband earlier in the week, rediscovering some long lost muscles in the process. Only recovering now!
When we bought this place, about five years ago, let's just say the garden was fairly unloved. The soil here is fairly ordinary (being nice, don't want to offend it!) clay soil with v little nice nutrients, so we're trying to build it up with organic matter, compost etc. We are seeing more worms these days which gives us hope. It's far from perfect, but definitely getting better. And as anyone with clay soil knows, drainage is a bit of an issue. We have put in extra drainage since we've been here, but suspect something more substantial is needed. That must wait till we lift the shack.

Baby pineapple. Got two of these growing at the mo. Takes about 18 months to fruit, but def worth the wait!

Baby Tahitian limes. Mmmm. Am considering asking a friend for a branch of their Kaffir lime to graft onto our Tahitian. What do you reckon?

Deeevine. Baby lemons. Not just any lemons, though. These are going to be bush lemons - you know, the bumpy ones. And the best.

Monsterio delicioso. The name says it all. Can you believe I bought this from IGA a couple of years ago for eight bucks?

The latest crop of corn. Fingers crossed. Neighbours dodgy fence in the background.

In the meantime, here's a snapshot of what's growing in the garden atm...