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!

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Yes, yes I know. I've been a bad girl. But anyone with children can relate, I'm sure. So little Blake Nathaniel arrived just seven days after my last post and this is my first chance to get blogging since then.
He's a champion little felluh - great at feeding, great at sleeping. Just great, in a  nutshell.
And after reading a couple of my favourite blogs, I decided to get my fingers tapping. Hence the "inspired" title of this blog.
Currently it's raining. Yep, it seems the wet season is here. It's funny, after just 13mm of rain a few days ago, the lawn instantly went from crunchy brown to luscious green. Nice.
Another of the big reasons why we live here.
So, to recap the last six months in the garden. For some reason the vege patch didn't do so well. I keep telling Mr TG&C that we need to do a pH test. Anyhoo, hasn't happened yet. Maybe one day.
We had an abundance of silverbeat, almost too much, lotsa lettuce, some cherry toms and lotsa snowpeas.
The capsicums (or bell peppers as he prefers to call them) didn't do so well. Even one plant that ended up under the mynah bird trap and was therefore protected.
Anyway, so 2013 is another year so here's to being inspired ... and doing something about it!
Oh, and if you're looking for a bargain, check this out!