Some nights the cooking inspiration runs a little thin and I can’t think of much too cook. With a huge veggie garden we tend to go through spurts of veggies which need to be used. This is how this soup came about. I loved it so much I thought I would share it with you.
We used the last of our spuds, some broccoli florets and silverbeet that did not sell at our farm gate. Cooked them all up and whizzed them. Staying with us at the time were our good friends Benjie and Hugo who were about to go off to France. We always seem to eat cheese when we are with them, pasteurized yes, though we all dream that we are in France eating the real deal. Anyways, with some triple cream brie on the table, they hungry folk decided that the soup could do with a few little chunks of cheese. Well, well. It was not too bad.
When we took the leftovers out of the freezer last week, we did the same thing. Brie and soup equal goodness.
Last weekend we had Dennis a farmer from down the road come up to our place to expand our vegetable garden. It was time to make a new bed – turns out that my measurements were all wrong and we have ended up with 18m x 10m new patch of freshly turned soil. As our soil is super clay like and often has large hidden boulders its best to use an excavator for the initial turning. Dennis used a ripper to turn the soil. All that is left is for Roy and I to go through pull out all the weeds, add mushroom compost some chicken shit and hill it up ready for planting at the end of August. The Ekka holiday is looming and I am not ready.
Since we brought Isla home we established an afternoon evening routine pretty early on. Hoping that this would help get the little wiggle monster to bed easier. Some days it works others it takes an extra few hours of attention before she finally settles and goes to sleep. Each afternoon once the sun has gone behind the hill which is about 3pm for us at the moment, I load Isla up in to the wheelbarrow in her car seat and head on down the hill. We take a quick stop at the chook pen to check feed and water then to the veggie patch.
I spend most of my time here attempting to water the garden the best I can. Some days I am successful others not so much. Its a great spot for an afternoon tea session that’s for sure. After I have harvested the days pickings we head on back to the chook pen. We sit there and watch the chickens fight over food, grazing and then going to roost for the night. It can be quite eventful. Once the chooks are all secure for the night we then head back to the house.
By this time it’s about 5.30 in the arvo. Time for a quick feed depending on the day. Bath time is at 6pm every night. Then its roll around on the bed time topped off with dinner. Then we read two books – too many cheeky dogs and trouble for trumpets. Usually we don’t get all the way through trouble for trumpets, it has too many words and not enough page turning according to Isla. Then I give her a last top up before bed. At this moment I hope that she goes to sleep and stays asleep. Sometimes I win and other time I am up for several more hours while she fights the sleep.
Anyone got any super tricks for getting a bub to sleep at night? She is a good sleeper once she is there but it’s just the fight I want to reduce.
Who loves bath time? Yes Isla loves to play in water, just need to find a decent salt water pool near by to take her for a good swim.
Growing your own food is feast and famine for certain veggies and I reckon our Asian greens keep us on our toes all the time. Yet again we have loads of the stuff along with freshly harvested ginger. This dish puts both of these veg to a good use and creates a healthy dinner.
The ginger dipping sauce is one of my favourites. What ever is left over can easily be added to stir fry’s or even added to a bowl of rice – yum. Roy and I love simple food and usually the simple stuff is the easiest to make too.
To make the ginger sauce combine the ginger, spring onion, salt, sesame oil and peanut oil. Leave to sit for at least 30minutes so the flavours permeate the oil.
In a large saucepan place the soy sauce, rice wine, fish sauce, sesame oil and sugar and mix. Add the chicken breast and bring the mixture to a steady simmer and cook for 13 – 15min or until the chicken is cooked.
Slice the chicken and serve on a bed of rice along with some Asian greens and the ginger dipping sauce.
Frangipane’s are so versatile you can use any combination of berry and citrus and they always taste so good. Tomorrow is my birthday and though I have to work at least I have a sneaky little snack to take with me to get me through the day. I will be doing a few talks at the Queensland Garden Expo this weekend, so if you are in the area do stop by and say hello.
I have also noticed that our frangipane is ridiculously yellow from our chooks eggs. We have a mixture of corn in our feed which makes the yolks super yellow also I reckon its the bugs they eat while free ranging our paddocks. Anyways a frangipane should washed down with a good cup of tea and a dollop of cream. Mind you a dollop of yoghurt also works just as well with the citrus flavours that are hidden inside.
Welcome to another round of the Garden Share Collective. I am happy to report that the GSC is now one year old, we started off with only seven people’s gardens and now we are a family of forty from around the globe. This coming year I have changed how you will view posts about other gardens. At the bottom of this post will be a photo grid of other gardens, if you have something to share just click on the submit button below it.
Do you like the size of the rhubarb leaf in my garden. I have chopped the large leaves out to encourage the crowns to grow stronger and thicker as I grew them from seed earlier this year. You can see how much the rhubarb has grown in a month below. We had a total of 16.5mm of rain last month its nothing to gloat about at all. However I have had a tank full of water to keep the soil moist. The weather has really been trying with strong drying winds, cold nights and the odd warm day with not much rain. Not the best growing conditions. This month I have also been struggling with a plague of aphids and disease – bean mosaic. So things have been getting pulled out of the garden all over the place and the veggies have slowed their growth.
The days will soon start to get longer again and summer will be on our door step in no time I am sure.
Last month I took a photo of our broadbeans in hopes that they might start producing. Well they did – one lousy bean, can you believe it. I have heard that they dont like nitrogen rich soil, since this is what you are usually aiming for when growing leafy greens I am not sure what to do to make the soil less nitrogen rich. The cool thing too is that the sweet potato growing in among the broadbeans is also doing really well.
Its amazing what water and fertilizer can do for a garden. Even with a lack of rain, you can see the difference in growth in our bottom bed. I have watered the garden every two or so days and fertilized once at the start of the month with dynamic lifter type stuff. Also sprayed with dipel to keep the cabbage month down. As they do love brassica’s. Also turns out we planted a lot more cabbage than broccoli as you can tell by the photos.
Grosse Lisse – seriously one of the most prolific tomato harvests we have had from one plant. Also the bugs have seemed to miss this tomato plant.
Snowpeas looking healthy, we are now picking over 1 kilo a week from our plants.
Darn aphids. If you can see the tiny grey/black looking things on the flower of the broccoli, well these culprits are what is damaging my garden this winter. They came in their millions and have decreased in numbers over the past week and a half as the lady beetle population has gotten bigger. I have tried to keep on top of spraying them too – I used eco-oil. Still we have them and they brought a disease with them. Bean mosiac, which is a virus that makes the leaves of either bush or climbing bean yellowy then goes hard and brown. It also makes the beans deformed and tougher which is not pleasant to eat. So I saved only one row of beans which don’t have the disease and hope like hell that all the new ones that have come up don’t get it either.
The strawberries have put out their first flower. The runners are slowly getting bigger and stronger however I noticed that they have black spots which is no doubt from watering the leaves and leaving them overnight. Must check it though at some point but all the new foliage is looking really good and healthy. I am just stoked to see a flower and who knows I might even get a strawberry before the crows take them.
PLANTING: This week I am hoping to plant out two or three trays of seeds for our next round of planting at the end of July start of August. I will be sowing – cucumbers, zucchini’s eggplants, peppers, more beans, silverbeet, beetroot, cabbages and a sneaky round of broccoli.
HARVESTING: Tomatoes (black russians, cherry cocktails and grosse lisse), lebanese eggplant, snowpeas, silverbeet, kale, rhubarb, zucchini’s, beetroot, broccoli and asian greens. Looks like our lettuce is good to go too
TO DO: I am going to be extending my garden, this month I have to get someone in to turn the soil, so we can start cleaning it up and hilling it for planting. Clean out the last of anything that has any disease or aphid infestation on it and get rid of it. Fertilize and spread compost and get the soil ready for more planting. Its time to start thinking about spring time growing and summer.
Last weekend Isla and I headed off for Kingaroy to visit my parents again to get some much-needed work done. I have worked on my talks for the Queensland Garden Expo which will be on next weekend. The weather was cold and miserable last Saturday until a storm came over and blew it all away. I have always said that the best time to take photographs is after it rains. Plus its even better if it is teamed up with a killer sunset.
My Dad, Isla and I took a stroll around the paddock, while dad fiddled with taps and checked on fences he had Isla in the other hand. The dogs followed us around along with the house cat who doesn’t want to miss out on the action. Lucky for me Isla loves being outdoors, weather permitting this was the perfect time to take a little adventure.
Below are some snaps I took around the farm. Nothing is more fascinating to a photographer than bits and bobs in the perfect light. Enjoy.
Isla, Dad and the Cat. It was all laughs taking this photo. Silly cat.
Comforting meals that are warming are perfect for winter. Now that the cool change has finally arrived here in South East Queensland, its time to break open the slow cookers or in this case the tagine. Slow cooking any meat until it is super tender and melts in your mouth is one of my favorites during the cooler months. This recipe the lamb is the star of the show meanwhile the last of our spuds were put to good use. However we are still waiting on peas and now that there is a virus in our garden we will be waiting awhile as we need to resow them. Frozen peas will still do the trick though.
The weather is still warm enough during the day to sit in the sun and feel the warmth. However we have a sneaky cool breeze that reminds me as soon as I go out side that yes it is winter. We are past the shortest day of the year and I am already looking forward to the days warming up and growing longer so I can take my little one outside more often. She loves being outdoors but rugging her up is hard work and keeping her out of the wind is a challenge in its self.
Hope your enjoying the cool nights. Its a good excuse to get extra cuddles I reckon.
Heat 4 tbsp of olive oil in a tagine or casserole dish over a medium heat. Cook the lamb in three batches for 5 – 7 minutes or until brown and put to the side.
Add the onion to the oil and lamb juices in the pan and stir to soften for one minute. Add the garlic and tomato and stir for a further 2 – 3 minutes. Add the ginger and coriander.
Return the lamb to the dish, cover with water and the lid bring to the boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the potatoes and peas and cook for a further 20minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a dollop of yoghurt and torn mint leaves on a bed of couscous.
I want to thank everyone for your words of wisdom, encouragement and advice. A decision has been made now that my blood has cooled.
Firstly I want to acknowledge some of the comments I received. I really appreciated them and here are some valuable lessons I have learnt.
I should of asked for payment when I started writing for the first paper. This is too true, I wanted to gain experience as a writer which would hopefully get me paid work in the future. So even asking for a minimum of $30 to cover my ingredient cost would be better than nothing and working up to full payment of a syndicated article as time progresses.
I should of asked earlier. This is the third and last time I will ask to be paid. After previous attempts of asking for payment all being declined, I was glad to hear that this time it was actually sent to the head of department. All other requests were flat out denied as all contributions to the papers were not paid – apparently. Even the journalists? hmmm. Lesson, the first attempt of asking for payment was after one year of writing, proving that I was good at the job and met deadline each month. At this moment I was still only published in one paper. The second time I asked for payment was last year when I discovered that my articles were used in several other free papers on the Sunshine Coast. This the last time is because I realize that my time is valuable now that I have a three month old and no income.
Its good exposure. Well yes and no. I know plenty of people pick up the paper just to read my recipe each week as I keep the topic about our local food and what is in season the focus. People take the recipe make it and occasionally I get feedback and a few folk start following me on social media. I am sure that more people are aware of my blog here on the coast now. It has not helped me gain any financial funds when offering workshops or classes.
Time to start a cookbook. I originally started putting a cookbook together at the start of the year only to realise the dream of a great cookbook would cost a small fortune. It would cost $40 each to get printed and I couldn’t justify adding my own time on top of that to make it affordable. Maybe an Ebook is the way to go. I plan on writing one this week (a small one) about preserving as I am talking about that at the Qld Garden Expo.
I am valuable. You know its hard sometimes to acknowledge ourselves and the work that we do. I know that I make a difference to people each week with my recipes. I am worth more than nothing and its time that I value myself and the time I put into things. Life has changed I have an adorable bundle of joy and I value that time as precious. The time I work for others should be accountable. Its time for me to get some love back.
Print media is dying. Yes it is, however if they are using my content then it should be compensated. I am sure that there are many people out there willing to work for free and get the experience. Now it is time to look at the blog and see how I can make money from it.
So what is the PLAN:
Today I am going to take my time and write an email response to both the editor whom I send my recipes to each week along with the sub-editor of the APN paper. My response will be stating how much I would like to be paid and that I have a following who pick up the paper just to read the recipe. I will explain my new terms for working for them (and getting paid) and see what the response is.
With the response either going two ways. One they start paying me and value my work OR two they don’t really care that I have bills to pay as long as they are getting paid that is all that matters and they can get plenty of other free recipes to fill my spot.
Will keep you updated and thanks again to everyone who has fueled me to ask for more.
UPDATE: 2nd June 2014
After a wonderful conversation with the current Sub Editor. Looks like there may be hope for me yet. Over the coming weeks a few changes are going to be made with-in the papers and they are looking to take me on possibly as a syndicated writer. This is no promise – however an outcome will happen over the next four weeks. This could be great news and mean that my work will be paid for and reach a larger audience. Maybe its time to write that cookbook after all. All you need to do is ask.