Archive for the ‘harvest’ Category

An ode to Mizuna

September 21, 2013

I believe in good home grown nutrition… but I also believe that what you put on your plate should be as aesthetically pleasing as it is tasty. This is mainly what drove me to try Mizuna seeds back in June when I was shopping on diggers.com.au for my future salad crops.

I had always seen Mizuna in mesclun salad mixes at markets and on my plate in restaurants, but never thought about trying to grow it until this year. I wish I had started earlier! Its just about the perfect green vegetable – you can eat it fresh in salads, sauteed with chorizo & tossed though fresh linguine, added to spicy stir fries or blended into a tangy version of pesto. So much potential in one little plant! And of course, its soooo prettyyyy.

Adding to this is the fact its one of those “cut & come again” wonderplants that you can start harvesting 6 weeks from germination, and its pretty much earned a permanent spot on my salad bowl rotation in the garden.

Here was my Mizuna patch first thing this morning:

photo 1

I decided to pull out a couple of the green plants to make some room for the one lettuce and carrots that are sharing the space, and I couldn’t stop taking photos of it:

photo 2

 

These Mizuna plants, paired with some rocket, went spectacularly with some spinach & ricotta cannelloni. Yum!

photo 3

Advertisements

First harvest!

September 3, 2013

Just a quick post to show y’all my first decent harvest from my new garden!! Delicious rocket & mizuna:

Lettuce

You can see the red mizuna a lot better in this photo than the “in garden” photos. They have the most gorgeous colour and lacey appearance.

And here are some yummy peppery radishes:

Radishes in bowl

A couple of them had split from the high rainfall but they were still delicious and made the perfect side salad for my lasagne!

My First Rhubarb

October 23, 2011

A few months ago, in the depths of Tassie Winter, a friend from Ravelry (whom I had never met) gave me 3 Rhubarb crowns. For nothing! I adore gardeners (and knitters!). I promptly planted them in my free garden bed (the busy-ness of my last semester at uni made planting a Winter crop impossible), mulched deeply with composting leaves, and waited.

 

Fast forward to October. Spring is well underway, the daffodils have come & gone, the lawn needs mowing endlessly, and my Rhubarb – it has leaves!!

And leaf stalks. Bright juicy red leaf stalks. I started looking up recipes, and decided on Rhubarb Crumble, but all the recipes I found wanted 6 cups of Rhubarb to serve 8 people! Since its only me that will probably end up eating it, I didn’t want to get fat on 8 servings of Rhubarb Crumble. So I looked at a few different recipes, and added a couple of rosy Corella pears:

 

And added the chopped Rhubarb:

 

 

And then I loosely followed Elise’s recipe for Rhubarb Crumble.
Unfortunately I forgot to take any in-progress photos…. And then the finished product wasn’t awesome to look at, so I didn’t take any photos of that either. But! Look at my gorgeous Rhubarb! It is so red on the outside, but I was surprised to find it bright green on the inside! Its just like Christmas, and very photogenic:

 

I do however have some tips for my fellow bakers who decide they want to make some Rhubarb Crumble of your own:

1. Use a fairly deep baking dish

Use a baking dish deep enough to provide a pretty substantial layer of fruit, but additionally you really want to put lots of crumble on the top too!

2. Don’t dilute the Rhubarb

As much as I like pears, I really wished I had kept the Rhubarb unadulterated for this dish. I really craved that tart yet sweet Rhubarb flavour, but this also means I will need to wait even longer before I can harvest enough of my Rhubarb for a whole dish of crumble.

3. Don’t leave the house…

Yes, I admit it, I left my oven unattended. I had a craving for ice cream with my crumble, and had to go to the shops to buy some. Pair that with getting distracted at a new Japanese restaurant for a takeaway Bento box, and my crumble was in the oven for probably 10 minutes too long. It wasn’t burnt, and still tasted delicious, but the hardened syrup around the edges made the dish very difficult to clean!

4. Take a sniff

Another unexpected feature of Rhubarb was the smell! As I cut the fresh Rhubarb stalks the smell got stronger & stronger, and I couldn’t get enough of it! It smells a bit like custard and caramel, but not quite, a bit hard to describe. You’ll just have to cut up some Rhubarb and see for yourselves!

 

And there you have it. Stay tuned for my next Rhubarb adventure!

From the backyard to the table

March 1, 2011

In my last blog post, I wrote about my desire to live completely independently, or at least semi-independently, on the food that I can grow in my back yard. Last night, albeit for only one meal, I achieved this!

I love gardeners. Especially vegetable gardeners. You can go up to pretty much any veggie gardener with a glut of produce, offer them something in exchange, and chances are you will be extremely well-received. I have arranged many swaps with my gardening friends in the past – corn for tomatoes, beans for radishes, potatoes for peaches, the list goes on. Last week however, I did a different kind of barter deal.

My friend Veronica from Sleepless Nights has a rather large property in the Southern Midlands of Tasmania, and on it she raises free-range ducks and chickens. A while ago she put the call out on Twitter if anyone was interested in purchasing some free-range, ethically-raised, happy and healthy ducks. There was only one caveat – the ducks had to be taken live!

The duck she reserved for me had several weeks before he was ready, so I had a while to get my head around this duck killing business. I did some research on the net of slicing their throat vs chopping their head off, and they both have their good & bad points but I won’t go into those here. My dad clearly stated he wanted nothing to do with the matter, though he was quite happy to eat my duck once it was cooked.

So, I was on my own.

On Friday (as in, 3 days ago) I drove out to Veronica’s place, my cat cage in the back of the ute, and my barter exchange on the set next to me. (If your wondering, I “bought” my duck with my home-grown potatoes and 4 different flavours of jam that I’d made, from my home-grown fruit or fruit collected from friends). We lured my duck in with some grain, and lots of flapping ensued until we managed to get him into my cage. Phew! Ducks are feisty, unlike chickens who can tolerate being picked up.

I took my duck home and collected my thoughts, changed my clothes and organised myself to do the deed.

Now I’m no softcore, but I admit I was pretty shaky after I killed my duck. Mostly because I wasn’t expecting the nerve flapping that results from severing the spinal cord. The flapping scared the crap outta me actually, and continued for long enough that I actually checked that YES the duck’s head IS completely off, and is in fact a metre or two away from me, so there’s no way this duck can be alive still!! My heart slowed down a bit after the nerve flapping stopped, and I could get on with it.

The plucking took ages, and I did it on the lawn which probably wasn’t the best idea because the feathers won’t come out…. Oh well! By the time I got it plucked it was pretty late so I shoved it into the fridge to worry about on Saturday. I didn’t eat dinner that night.

Saturday afternoon was dedicated to butchering my duck. I’d completely gotten over the shakiness from the day before, and got right down to the business of gutting and deboning my duck. This went relatively smoothly, as my knives are sharp and duck bones are smooth. All in all I got just over a kilo of meat, and 700 grams of bones, excluding the wings which I cut off (because the feathers were too hard to get out). I kept the bones for stock, kept the skin for the fat, and started planning what I wanted to do with the delicious-looking duck meat!!

For those of you who don’t know, duck meat is not white like chicken or turkey meat. It more like a deep purply-red colour, and, oddly, the breast meat is actually darker than the thigh & leg meat. Here’s a photo:

The thigh meat is laid over the breast meat in the photo, you can see the colour difference. The yellow specks are bits of fat; duck fat is deposited as a layer under the skin and this is where duck gets its reputation for being a rich and fatty meat. Prepared correctly however it is very lean, as almost all the fat comes off when you skin it. If cooking your duck with the skin on, prick the skin all over so the fat can escape through the holes; if the duck is being roasted the fat can then drip into the pan below.

So, here’s what I did with my deboned duck!

Here’s what I did: I made a stuffing of brown rice, almond meal, flaked almonds, finely chopped Australian apricots, an egg to bind it all together, and some nutmeg, salt & pepper. I laid the stuffing out on the meat (laid out like in the top photo) and rolled the meat around it. Then I wrapped the whole thing in bacon (YUM), tied it up, & put it into the oven on about 170 degrees Celsius for about…. 90 minutes? I wasn’t really keeping track (just like I wasn’t keeping track when making the stuffing how much of each ingredient I used; just wing it guys!).

In the meanwhile I made some stock from the bones and carcass, to use in something else one day. I used some (with the pan drippings) for a delicious gravy that was delicious. Did I mention it was delicious? It really was delicious!

Along with my roast duck, I roasted some of my home-grown vegetables. Potatoes, Golden Nugget pumpkins, and brown onions, and I also steamed some green beans that I picked up from the Farm Gate Market this past Sunday. Here’s a (crappy iphone) photo of the final meal:

 

(The onions didn’t actually make it to the dinner table – they cooked much faster than the rest of the food so we had them as starters!)

So there you have it! My duck was extremely delicious and tender, not fatty at all, and now my mind is swimming with other possibilities of what to make with my future ducks (yes, I am considering getting some more from Veronica!). Any recipe suggestions are welcome (especially since I didn’t use a recipe for this dish…) Except for the bacon, and a few ingredients in the stuffing, the entire meal was raised or grown by myself and other Tasmanians, ethically, organically, and sustainably! I hope to have many many more meals like this in the future 🙂

Hobart Farmers Market

November 28, 2010

This morning I got up semi-early and visited the Hobart Farmers Market. Despite being established over a year ago, this was only my third time visiting, mainly because I usually work on Sundays or have other important “plans” (like writing assignments). Now that uni is over though, I can take advantage of my rare Sundays off and wander around the market!

 

Hobart Farmers Market view

 

The aim of the Market is to encourage the local market for high quality produce, and only local growers and producers are allowed to sell at the market.

There is always interesting things to see, like this colourful garlic:

 

 

Both me and my sister who was with me today love broccoli. Have you ever eaten the stem of the broccoli? Its delicious! Simply peel the tough skin off and slice up and munch away. I have often thought to use it in a salad or stirfry but it disappears so quickly from the chopping board there’s almost no hope of it ever landing in an actual dish! One day. We did buy some broccoli but it was only later that we saw these beauties with their long stems; this broccoli will definitely be in my future!

 

 

I’m also fond of radishes but I prefer to grow them myself, as I can harvest one at a time, rather than trying to use the whole bunch in a few days. But I can never resist taking photos of the bright red globes!

 

 

And who can resist a good bunch of carrots?? Not I. These are so orange and luscious!

 

 

And, almost my sole motivation for going to the market today: Peas!! Its pea season here in Tasmania and I look forward to it every year. I’m not growing any this year, due to a combination of lack of space and time, so when I saw them at the market today I snapped them up!

 

 

More green things in the form of some juicy-looking mixed lettuce leaves:

 

 

And the markets aren’t just for fresh fruit and veggies, you can also pick up meats, bread, poultry, oysters, cheeses, preserves and sauces, and… Flowers! Just like the Salamanca market on Saturdays, I always try to buy some locally grown flowers to brighten my dining room table. On offer today were some gorgeous Peonies in a range of pinks, from almost pure white to the brightest pink:

 

 

So I bought some of these bright pink ones, always a lover of bright coloured flowers. They should be fully open in a few days!

 

Anyone in Hobart and the surrounding area should really make a trip to the Hobart Farmers Market, and soon! Its an awesome venture and I love it there.

 

Home grown broccoli

September 7, 2009

I took these photos a while ago but forgot to post them, that is until my Twitter friend Bianca reminded me! I sowed these broccoli plants in about March, they were in the ground by April & then I just kind of ignored them, that is until the last few weeks while they’ve been making broccolis! They have been fairly trouble-free, aside from picking off a few cabbage moth caterpillars when they were seedlings. Then it’s just a matter of waiting til they are big enough, then cut steam & enjoy! 🙂

A Garden Update

May 16, 2009

It was so cold & blustery outside today, but I hadn’t visited the garden for a few days so I thought I had better pay it a visit. So this afternoon the sun was coming & going between the clouds, so this would be a good a time as any to go outside.

There few a few tomatoes hanging on the vines still, but I think I am going to have to pull them out soon. Once they are close to ripening the wet weather quickly rots them and I end up throwing them onto the compost. A not-so-wonderful end for the last veggie of Summer in the garden. So it’s time for the Winter veggies to have their turn in the (low gloomy Winter) limelight.

Broadbean shoot

I sowed these broadbeans about 3 weeks ago from memory, and they have just shown up in the last few days. I guess it’s the cold that has delayed their germination, but I seem to be getting very good germination rates so I don’t really mind. I would have planted them sooner but I had Golden Nugget pumpkins here that just refused to die back like they were supposed to, and I didn’t want to damage the pumpkins by pulling them out prematurely. I’ve never grown these before so I’m interested to see if I’m going to need to stake them or not.

Pea blossom

My plan for an Autumn crop of peas is coming along nicely, with the first flowers appearing this week. Here’s hoping I get some pollination & some yummy peas in the next few weeks!

Carrots freshly pulled

I had sown a small row of carrots before I planted the cabbage seedlings (in top left corner of the photo), and, being my usual impatient self, I just planted the cabbage seedlings on top because I didn’t want to have to wait for another area of the garden to free up. But it has worked out okay as an accidental catch crop, because now that the cabbage leaves have almost started to cover the space in between each plant, the carrots are just about ready. Well, for baby carrots anyway! I have a few in there still, so the next lot I pull will hopefully be a bit bigger. I have 2 rows that are 4 weeks old also, and my last sowing (2 rows each of St Valery and Mini Round) have sprouted this week. I am determined not to run out of carrots before Summer this time!

Parsnips & carrots

Out of sheer curiosity (and also because I am terribly impatient) I pulled two parnips as well. These were sown on the 28th of January, and I was very surprised at the time because they had all germinated after only 9 days. Covering them with plastic & onion bags really works, and have used it for my carrot seeds with great success too. So these ‘snips are about 3 months old now & still probably need another 3 months! They are cool though! I’m going to grate them up along with the carrots & make some veggie fritters. It will be my first time eating parsnips so I hope I like them!!

Parsnip leaves

Here’s a photo of the parsnip leaves, which was another thing that was a mystery to me when I first started growing them. They are a bit like flat leaved parsley, but several times larger, and the stem bases wrap around the newer middle leaves – you can see this a bit in the other photo. It’s kind of cool. Carrots do this too but because the stems are narrower it’s less noticeable.

Turnips

Also eagerly awaiting my first turnip!! This is the biggest one, I might roast it, or make some soup with the winter squashes I still have. Such excitement!

That’s it for now – I’ll see what the weather’s like tomorrow after work, I might pull out the tomato plants & spread out a load of manure & coffee grounds. Seems like a long time until its going to be Summer again!

Still harvesting

April 29, 2009

Today I thought I’d better pick the rest of the capsicums since it’s gotten pretty cold now & they’re not going to get any riper. So I picked 4 of those, and another handful of tomatoes that have ripened. They seem to be ripening slowly but surely. Also today I visited my friend Eryn & her 4 month old identical twins, Bella & Olivia. They were gorgeous, even if they did spew on me a bit!! Also I finally gave them their presents that I made them, two kitties from Amy Butler’s new book, Little Stitches for Little Ones. They are so easy to make, and I’ve given them to a few other children of friends too. Anyway that’s all 🙂

Garden Update

April 15, 2009

It’s well & truly Autumn now, and today it’s rainy & dull & gloomy. I was meant to mow the lawns today, I should have done it yesterday when it was nice & sunny! Here’s some photos I took yesterday in the sun:

apples

These apples are nice to look at but are full of codling moth worms. I have tried for 2 years to get decent apples from this tree, and this was it’s last chance so I will be taking it out this winter & moving a nectarine tree in it’s place. Sorry apple tree!

nashis

In contrast to the doomed apple tree is the very well behaved Nashi pear tree, giving me 7 fruits this year. Nashi pears are not actually a cross between apples & pears as some people think, and these don’t seem to be attractive to coddling moth or pear & cherry slug, so I think this tree has earned another year in the garden 🙂 Behind the nashis are my slightly-chewed cabbage plants, they have had a growth spurt in the last couple of weeks.

squashes

My first time growing winter squash; had great results but the vines (2 of them) ran rampant through the whole veggie patch & onto the lawn, so I will have to grow them on a trellis next time. They have been lined up along the edge of the veggie bed for the last couple of weeks to cure, but since it’s raining today I really should bring them inside. They have a really hard skin so I hope this means they will store well. I will have to investigate recipes for soup & things. Overall I got 17 cute little yellow squashes.

bed

Just for something different, I thought I’d post a photo of my bedroom this morning as we got a tiny moment of sun earlier on. The nights are starting to get colder, so last night I put on my Laura Ashley throw rug for extra warmth. Also, it keeps the Puss fur off my luxurious Laura Ashley sheets so I only need to wash the throw when it gets too furry & not the whole set. Can you tell I like Laura Ashley? One day I will get rid of that ugly lamp & buy a pretty Laura Ashley one, and get two bedside tables that actually match, and some new curtains that aren’t pink. But, that’s for another day. Actually, considering their prices, another year! Anyway, I love opening the curtains & letting the sun come in, and my view of the (too long) green grass & tortured willow in the front yard is so nice 🙂

Today’s Lunch

April 5, 2009

It was cold & gloomy today, and at lunchtime I felt like having something a bit fancy-shmancy as well as quick & easy. I have been harvesting some decent-sized tomatoes lately, so I really wanted to showcase them somehow. Bruschetta was the perfect solution.

I used a lovely sourdough from work for my bruschetta, but use any thick cut crusty loaf.

I made mine with tuna, diced tomatoes, grated cheese & oregano, but use anything: avocado, mushrooms, capers, olives, smoked salmon… The possibilities are endless. Grill or bake until bread is crispy & your ingredients are heated through. Dig in & enjoy!