Thursday, 28 February 2013

Drying herbs

Today I'm drying herbs.  Yesterday I cut, Italian and curly parsley, sage, oregano and basil.   Thankyou to Sharren, a friend who suggested turning the oven to 180c, laying the herbs on greaseproof paper on a tray, placing in the oven and then turning the oven off.  Leave them overnight and in the morning they will be dry, crunch them and place in jars.  I'm now on my second batch,  I'm sure I will now have enough herbs to see me over the winter.

Scissor keep

One of my friends called in today to return some patterns I had lent to her, as a thankyou gift she presented me with this cute scissor keep.  I was at her house last week when she showed me a pattern she was having trouble with, as I read the pattern I realised that there was a mistake in the instructions, she had thought this as well but just needed a second opinion.  Well, as it turns out it was the intructions for this little scissor keep, she was very sneaky.  I love it and have already placed my embroidery scissors inside.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Home made Passata

What a relief, the heat has finally abated and we have had three days of rain, so happy to see the rain, this summer has been long and hot.   I picked the last of the ripe tomatoes yesterday and realised I had enough to make some jars of passata sauce.   While blanching and skinning the tomatoes, I was once again taken back to my mothers kitchen, I seem to do a lot of thinking about her and my childhood while working in the kitchen.    This was one of the jobs I was volunteered to do when mum was bottling the tomatoes, I did'nt mind though, I quite enjoyed pulling the tomatoes from the icy water and skinning them.     From the pot of sauce  I cooked I filled 5 large jars and one smaller jar, this jar I gave to the son that does everything and his wife who came for morning tea today.  I've cut herbs today and have frozen sage, basil, and parsley, with what I have left  I think I will try to dry them.   Almost time to clear the vegetable patch for the winter planting, this has been a productive garden and I'm happy with what this small area has produced.

Passata Sauce

15 fully ripened tomatoes med-large
1 large red onion chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
1 desertspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
salt to taste

Place a cross slit at the base of the tomatoes,  add to a large pot of boiling water, as soon as the skin ruptures remove and add to a sink full of  iced water.   Peel the skins and place in a blender with garlic, basil and black pepper.  I had to do this in batches.  In a small pan pour in the olive oil and gently cook the onion till opaque.  Remove and add to the blender with the tomatoes.  When all batches have been blended add the tomatoes to a large pan and bring to the boil.  Add the tomato paste and simmer for 30-40 mins. till the sauce has reduced a little.  Pour into sterilised jars and seal.  Meanwhile line another large pan with a couple of tea towels, add the jars, not touching, fill to below the lids of the jars with cold water and bring to the boil.  Cover and leave about 20mins to simmer. Turn off the heat and let cool in the pan.  Once cool remove and label, the jars should be sealed.  This will make 5 large jars or bottles.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Fresh eggs

On Saturday I had a group of old friends over for the day, my sister and I have known this group for over thirty years and it is so good to catch up with what is happening in their lives and reminisce over the past.  My sister Kerri was a great help organising the day and helping with the preparations.  One of these friends has a wonderful yard full of fruit trees, vegetables and her own little flock of chickens, I was so pleased to receive a dozen eggs from her,  I did exchange a jar of chutney for the eggs and one of her jars of salsa.  I have decided to use these eggs to make a yummy egg and vegetable pie for dinner, I checked out the vegetables in the fridge, some pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach and red onion, and I found some goat cheese leftover in a small container,  definately enough for what I nedded to make a pie. I have just removed it from the oven and it looks so good, some for my dinner and the rest for the freezer.

Egg and vegetable pie

Line a pie dish or in my case a 28cm x 18cm rectangle dish with pastry ( I only had puff) and then blind bake this for 10mins. Remove the baking beads and parchment and cool.
For the filling:
8 eggs beaten
1/4 cup of cream or milk
180g pumkind diced and roasted in the oven till soft
100g mushrooms diced or sliced
1/2 red onion chopped
100g spinach
150g zuchini chopped
100g goat cheese or feta
Olive oil ( about tablespoon)
Gently fry onion till soft, add mushrooms, zuchini and cook till zuchini is soft.  Add the pumpkin and stir through.  Place over pastry, pour over eggs and cream, add spinach and cheese, a little salt and black pepper and bake on 180Celcius for about 30-35mins till a knife comes out clean,  Remove from the oeven and sit to cool 5mins before cutting, serve with a side salad.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Chutneys and pickles

The jars I bought last week have all been filled, this afternoon I have cooked a green tomato chutney and a nectarine chutney.   Yesterday I made a piccalilli, which has lots of vegetable from my garden it it, it looks so yummy.    I have'nt made nectarine chutney before but my dad gave me a container filled with frozen nectarines, he has a large tree in his yard and when he has had enough he slices them and then stores them in containers in the freezer.    I have packed the jars with the hot chutneys, and now I'm just waiting for them to cool before placing the lids and labels on the jars.   I have had a sneak taste and I really like it, so much so I will include the recipe.
11 medium nectarines (2kg) nectarines chopped
1 medium (150g) green pepper, chopped
2 1/2cups white vinegar
4 cups (lkg) brown sugar ( I used 3 cups, trying to cut down on the sugar)
1 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup glace ginger   (I did'nt have glace ginger, so used 1 tablespoon ground ginger)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan, stir over heat, without boiling, until sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil, simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours, or until mixture is thick.  Pour into hot sterilised jars; seal when cold. Makes 6 cups.  After opening store in the fridge.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Fresh from the garden

3 bags of beans for the freezer
What a relief, we have had a cool change in the weather and a little rain, I was begining to think these hot days were going to go on for ever.    More warm days are forcaste later in the week but I've had a chance to recharge my batteries haa, and I spent a few hours in the garden doing some weeding and cleaning up.  With summer almost over I have been thinking about what to plant in the vegie patch for winter crops.    On top of my list will be broccoli, parsnips, carrots, onions, not sure what else at this stage.     Todays haul is a bounty, I've just blanched three bags of beans, picked another six cucumbers, a basket of tomatoes, silverbeet, capsicums and some small chillies.    Dinner was once again compliments of the garden, I am getting very used this, and I can't wait for the winter vegetables to make pots of soup and casseroles.  Does anyone know of or have you ever frozen silverbeet?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A bottle or two of sauce

I was awake early this morning so decided to start on the tomato sauce and bottling those cucumbers I have so much of.    Today will be another hot and windy day, I love summer but I am starting to look forward to Autumn and some cooler days.   While cutting cucumbers, tomatoes, onions etc, I thought why not pick some of the green tomatoes for a green relish as well,  while cutting the ingredients for the relish,  a little panic hit, you see,  I have  lunch date on the other side of the city and just  thought I may have taken on more than I could get done in time.  I finished up with four bottles of bbque sauce, two large jars of pickled cucumbers and two jars of green tomato relish.  I think I'll start on the chutneys next week.   I  have time to let them cool before putting the lids on and heading into the shower and dressing.  It would have been my mums birthday today, I'm meeting my sister and dad for lunch and then a visit to the graveside.

Red Geranium

I just have to show you what I bought today during my little shopping spree.  I fell in love with  "Caliente" a beautiful dark red geranium.  These photos do not really show just how beautiful this plant is, the flower is dark crimson, I know, it is just a geranium, but if you could see it,  I'm sure you would appreciate it as well.    I have a couple of empty terracotta pots and this will look very much at home in one of them.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lots of jars

I realised as I was about to get busy in the kitchen, making chutneys and relishes, that I did'nt have enough jars.    You see, I gave away jars of produce for gifts over Christmas and no-one has returned the jars.    The forcaste for today and the next couple of days is very hot, so maybe this is a good thing, who wants a large pot on the stove bubbling away when the airconditioner is trying to cool down an already hot house.  Shopping seemed the sensible thing to do, after all I have to buy more jars and it will be cool in the shopping centre, and then while I'm there I could do some browsing and maybe buy myself something.    Seems like a great plan, the chutney and relish have been put off until there is a change in the weather.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tomatoes, tomatoes and cucumbers

I have just returned home from interstate where I spent time with my son while he was in hospital, and helped my daughter-in-law with their young family.    My son has a few hurdles to cross in the future but I'm sure he will make a complete recovery.    One of my daughters and her fiance have been caring for my dogs and garden and I'm surprised to find how much a garden will grow in just over a week, it looks like a jungle, so many tomatoes and cucumbers that I guess I will have some preserving and chutney to make in the next few days.    The cucumber bread and butter pickles that I made early in the summer have all been eaten so a few more jars just for myself, along with red tomatoe relish, capsicum relish and cucumber relish.  Then I will have to wait awhile for the tomatoes to stop ripening to remove the remainder of the green tomatoes and make green tomatoe pickles, always a favourite in my family.  The beans that I thought were a complete waste of time have surprised me, I have just found a few beans hiding in amoungst the plants, I'll have a good look in the morning.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Quilting with a friend

Last Wednesday one of my friends and I set aside the day to spend some time quilting.   I have had the fabric for Isaac and Noahs quilts for awhile now, and it was definately time to make a start on the quilts for their rooms.  I spent most of the day cutting the fabric for Noahs quilt.  I had purchased  Tim and Becks "Bungle in the jungle" in a Jelly roll and a layer cake which I thought seemed very appropriate for a little boy named Noah.  The pattern I have decided on is one from Moda Bake Shop called Jungle path by Jessica Kelly from "Sew Crafty Jess".  It was time consuming cutting all the pieces,  maybe it just seemed that way because of all the talking we did, but 3pm arrived and it was decided that it was time to pack up and maybe meet again this week.      I have put this away for awhile, I have had news my eldest son is unwell, I will be going to visit with him, not sure when I will get back to this.