Christmas cookies – Again!

December 24, 2011

Every Christmas, at least for the past 5 years or so, I make a big batch of cookies, and package them up for my workmates. Last year I made Nicciolini, the year before that I made Lavendar & Lemon, and for a few years before that I made plain shortbread. This year I was confident enough to “invent” my own recipe, even though I’m positive its been done before. Enter Lemon Shortbread.

These were by far the most successful shortbreads I’ve ever made. Successful in that they kept their shape perfectly during baking, even the most intricate shapes. The cooking time I chose was spot-on, even though it was a number I literally picked at random. The dough was so easy to work with and didn’t deteriorate as it got warm. I will be coming back to this recipe again and again.

Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

3 & 3/4 cups of plain flour

1 & 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup caster sugar

1 large egg & one large egg yolk

grated rind of 3 large lemons*

 

*make sure, if you can, that they’re organic lemons, or get them from a home garden. I’d hate for anyone to ingest poisonous sprays with their cookies!

Method

In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together for about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure all the butter is mixed in. Add the egg & egg yolk and the lemon rind, and beat until combined and smooth. Add the flour one large spoonful at a time, until all flour is incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl one more time and beat until mixture is smooth. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, and pour out the contents of the bowl onto the plastic. Press the dough into ball and wrap tightly in the plastic. Refrigerate for several hours, the easiest though is to make the dough the night before you need it, as this gives the lemon the most time to infuse its flavours into the butter. Also, the dough needs to be quite cold when you’re working with it, as this is one of the factors that help the cookies hold their shape.

Time to bake those cookies! Preheat fan-forced oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Find a smooth surface to roll out your dough onto, I did mine straight on my kitchen counter. Using a rolling pin, slowly roll the dough out until its about 3mm thick. (Two things – roll it out slowly to prevent the dough from tearing and forming odd shapes. Secondly: 3mm might seem thin when the cookies are cut out, but they do rise ever so slightly in the oven, and 3mm was the perfect thickness for my cookies. Do experiment with different thicknesses until you find one you like.) Start cutting out your shapes – I did stars, flowers, snowflakes and a bunch of mini shapes with the scraps. Place on baking trays lined with baking paper**, fairly close together (remember these cookies hold their shape really well) and bake for 8 minutes, or until the edges are just turning golden. The biscuits will feel soft when they are hot but will firm up once they cool.

**I recommend preparing at least 4 trays with baking paper. This way, you can bake 2 or 3 trays while cutting out your next lot of shapes.

Once cookies are completely cool, you can now decorate them! There are lots of ways to do this. I used royal icing, but you could just as easily use a lemon sugar glazing, or simply dust with icing sugar. I made so many, and I don’t wat to bore you with thousands of cookie photos, so I’ll just show you some of my favourites!

Stars & Stripes

Groovy Snowflake

Classic Snowflake

Spotty Stars

Let the icing set for at least an hour before bagging them up and giving them away 😀

Ready for gifting!

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers, I’ll see you in 2012!!

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!

Spring is here

October 23, 2011

Well Spring has finally come to Hobart, and it’s so nice to have some colour in the garden again. The California poppies & Aquilegias are starting to bloom, and my climbing roses are starting too. I also have lots of baby blueberries on my 3 bushes which is very promising! Also the raspberry flowers have started opening & is attracting hundreds of bees, and I can hear their cacophony of buzzing as soon as I open my back door. It’s a good time of year!

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(Mis)Adventures with Choc Chip Cookies

May 31, 2011

I had a craving this morning. And no, before you ask, I’m not pregnant.

I had a craving for good old-fashioned chewy choc chip cookies. So, naturally, I went onto the internet in search of a good recipe.

Here was the source of my mis-adventure.

I like Foodgawker. I have got many many many great recipes from there, and I use Foodgawker because the recipes cannot be posted to the site without an awesome photo in the original blog posting. Photos are essential for my recipe searches, as I am a very visual person, and will rarely try a recipe unless it has at least one photo of the end result. (Some recipes have automatic immunity however. Julia Child’s original Boeuf Bouguignon recipe is an exemplary dish which rose far above the modest tone of the printed recipe.)

So I searched on Foodgawker, and selected a bunch of delicious and chewy looking recipes to look at. I wanted something simple, just with chocolate chips, so I closed all the ones that had nuts or oats or peanut butter or salted caramel or cranberries or raisins. I closed all the ones which were egg/dairy/gluten/sugar/salt/cholesterol/whatever free, and closed the ones for which I didn’t have ingredients (I am not leaving the house today. That would require a certain level of kempt-ness that was beyond the scope of my effort levels today). As I was reading & closing recipes, one thing stood out to me like a hamantash in a row of kourabiedes.

On more than one of the recipes I was browsing today, this was listed in the Ingredients section:

1 package instant vanilla pudding mix

Begin rant.

It is a total cop-out for anyone professing to be a so-called “food blogger” to publish recipes touted as the best/chewiest/tastiest/moistest/amazing cookie recipe when a significant portion of the “ingredients” are a commercialised replacement of a once-traditional foodstuff, like “pudding” (which, as far as I can gather, for Australian audiences is most similar to our cartons of custard. So imagine that, but in power form.). It is an insult to real cookery masters everywhere to pass these kinds of short-cut recipes off as the bees knees of cookie recipes, and do you know what the really sad thing is? New cooks make these recipes and it shapes their understanding of home cooking from then on! These new cooks, these unwitting victims to short-cut cooking, have no concept of the skills, guts, and sheer brilliance of traditional do-everything-from-scratch cooking. And that really saddens me.

Yes, I take shortcuts. Yes, I make my chicken laksa from store-bought laksa paste. But, combined with my homemade chicken stock, homegrown herbs and vegetables, my laksa still possesses a lot of the traditional elements authentic laksa has, and furthermore, my desire to learn how to make my own flavour pastes is just waiting for when I have enough time to dedicate a day or two to learning how to do it. You have read before on this blog about my love of the long way round to gastronomical bliss, and when I eventually learn how to make my own flavour pastes I know this will open up a whole new world to me. But I digress.

So I made my feelings known to the whole of Twitter (with liberal use of the exclamation mark and the rage hashtag), and I was not prepared for the overwhelmingly positive outpouring of support of my statement. I made the pleasing discovery that I was amongst like-minded people, and was blown away by all the offers to share their tried & true choc chip cookie recipes. My #rage quickly subsided, and I went about choosing the recipe that I made this afternoon.

This recipe was generously given to me by my knitting friend Sheralynn and with her permission, I am going to share it will all of you lovely readers.

Regular Run-Of-The-Mill Traditional Choc Chip Cookies

Ingredients

125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4/5 cup (that’s four fifths) self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
200g chocolate chips

Method

1. Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla and combine.
2. Sift in flour & salt and mix, then stir in choc chips.
3. Roll into a long tube about 1-2 inches in diameter and wrap in saran/glad wrap. Chill the log of dough for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
4. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 180oC and slice hockey pucks from the log, place on baking tray and bake for 7-10 mins.
Cookies should be golden.
5. Leave to cool on sheet until hardened then move to rack to cool.
So I made these and they were delicious! Chocolatey, sweet, chewy, nom! The only little hiccup I had was when chopping the log into “hockey pucks” (I just love this term) they didn’t hold together very well, and I think this was because I was using chocolate chips that were a bit on the large side, and the knife couldn’t cut them easily. But it didn’t matter, I just pressed the mix back together for each cookie. Also, one of my Silpats made the cookies stick, but the other didn’t. I’m not entirely sure why!
So, what have we learned today? I have learned that blog sites are sometimes not all they are cracked up to be. I have learned that twitter friends are amongst the bestest friends one can have. And I have learned that there is at least one recipe that I want to try on a different day, for it requires some pre-bake planning.
I have also learned that while the cookies might be mangled from getting them off a sticky Silpat, they are still delicious!

Autumn & Easter

April 23, 2011

Well, Autumn is well and truly here in South Tasmania, much to my delight as its my second-favourite season after Spring. My family have gone up North to spend Easter so I find myself home alone in the peace and quiet – no nagging! No-one to cook for! I can listen to loud music & have as many lights on as I like! 😀 They’re really not that bad. Really.

I went for a stroll in the garden this afternoon. Everything’s still there, albeit covered in a fresh flush of new weeds now that the rainy season has started.

You know its Autumn when the Cyclamens start showing up. The flowers have gone (these ones were bright white) but I love the leaves, they stick around all Winter and are well worth having around.

Next to the Cyclamen is another favourite foliage plant of mine, a Pulmonaria or Lung Wort. They have cute blue & pink flowers in the Spring but the foliage goes on looking good until it dies back for Winter.

More foliage, this time an ornamental grass – Miscanthus sinenses “Zebrinus” – named after the stripes it developed along the leaves as the plant matures. This is only its 3rd year in the garden & already its starting to fill out nicely.

My garden is littered with the remnants of blooms past. I usually prune my roses right after they flower but for some reason this year I did, and I am glad I didn’t because I love how the hips have turned a bright orange as they ripen. I might even pick a few branches of these to brighten up my kitchen table!

I got a great loaf of bread today from the people I work for. They are a family of Greeks, and like to keep a few of their traditions alive whenever they get together for the holidays. They made Tsoureki today – traditional Greek Easter bread. Every family has their own unique recipe; this one is flavoured with cinnamon & lemon juice & topped with almonds. Its a sweet bread, so I’m going to have it toasted with butter & honey. Yum!!

And now I think I’ll relax in my favourite chair with my knitting, enjoying my time alone 🙂 Happy Easter everyone!

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 🙂

30 Interesting Things About Me

February 20, 2011

Well this is a bit of a departure of what I normally post on this blog, but hey since I’ve neglected it for so long I thought why not? A lot of my friends (real-life and online) have done the same thing and I always meant to, but never got around to it until now. So here it is, enjoy!

30 Interesting Things About Me

1. I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. My family moved to Australia when I was 2 months old though, so I don’t remember anything about it.
2. I have actually seen most of coastal Australia as my parents took me on a year-long caravan trip when we were looking for a place to settle down. I was so little however I don’t remember any of it.
3. Eventually we decided to settle down in Adelaide, South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills. I loved it there & would totally move back if the stars aligned correctly.
4. My parents got divorced when I was 11. In hindsight, I could see this coming, but my sister couldn’t as she was too little to understand it. I don’t think she’s ever emotionally recovered from the divorce and the aftermath.
5. My sister is 3.5 years younger than me. We’re different in almost every way, looks-wise and personality-wise. We don’t really get a long. In fact that’s a massive understatement.
6. I used to play the saxophone, piano, oboe and violin.
7. I used to be a self-harmer. I was a pretty emotionally fucked up early teen, and my dad was gone, me and my mother do not get along one bit, even today, and cutting myself seemed to comfort me like nothing else would. I continued to self-harm up until I moved out of home when I was 16. I never want to be back in that emotional place, and every time I look down at the scars on my arms I am reminded of this.
8. I was a pretty fucked up teenager. As well as the self-harm, I got pretty into drugs and dropped out of school. I moved out with a man 10 years my senior, got a job at a Subway restaurant in the city and didn’t talk to my mother for two whole years. I moved 11 times in these two years, drifting between cheap rentals and friend’s couches. My lowest point was when I lost my job at Subway, had to go on the dole, was living on cigarettes and coffee, my electricity got cut off & there was 6 of us living in a 2 bedroom apartment.
9. My last year in Adelaide was spent working at a Lenard’s poultry shop, which I genuinely enjoyed. Somehow I moved into a sharehouse right across the street from work, detached myself from the group of people in my past, and did some good things, like getting my license.
10. I came to Tasmania on a whim really. My dad called me out of the blue one day saying he was living in Launceston with my sister, he had a job at the uni and my sister was going to school. He casually joked that I should move down there with him and go back to school, and, surprisingly for dad, I thought that was a fantastic idea. Within a couple of weeks I’d packed up my meagre possessions, sold everything I didn’t want to fund the trip (including my precious Conn Saxophone) and booked my flights to Launceston.
11. I quit *everything* when I moved to Tassie. Cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, boys, and for the next two years school was the only thing in my world.
12. So, when I was 19 I started grade 11, or college as they call it down here. I graduated when I was 21, with pretty good marks.
13. In 2004 I moved to Hobart and started a Science degree at UTAS. However I didn’t enjoy it, really hated it actually, so I stopped going, not really thinking that all my failed units would be on my academic transcript forever.
14. I started working at Subway again, working up the ranks over the next 3 years and eventually became manager of the Sandy Bay store.
15. It was during this time, in 2006, on Australia Day, that I met my gorgeous Man Friend, now Man Fiance. We had our own set of dramaz, broke up & got back together, but we’re an unstoppable team now.
16. In 2007 I bought my first house, in the southern suburbs of Hobart. I LOVE my house, its really “me”, and all the renovations me and dad have done ourselves. I think this has put a unique Bertoni flavour to the house!
17. I don’t live with my family, my family lives with ME! They pay ME rent to help me get through uni without dying of malnutrition.
18. Oh yeah, uni. I started again in 2008, a double degree in Information Systems and Business. I’m majoring in Human Resource Management, which is all about managing and directing your workforce to get the most benefit to the organisation as well as managing the welfare and morale of the employees.
19. I fast-tracked my degree and am due to graduate in August, a whole semester ahead of schedule, go me!
20. At least I will graduate before I’m 30, woohoo!
21. I am extremely crafty. If you follow me on Twitter you have probably noticed that I knit an awful lot, I also sew, quilt, cross-stitch, long-stitch, scrapbook, weave, and dye. However it takes me forever to finish anything because I have so little time between work, uni, and having a social life.
22. I also love to garden, and its my dream to one day have a vegetable & fruit garden large enough to never have to buy fruit & veggies ever again. I love the idea of freezing, storing, and preserving produce that will last us through a Tasmanian winter.
23. I also love to cook, which goes really well with my love of gardening.
24. Other things I love: open fires, tiny frying pans, real custard, cats, coffee, my bed, girly movies, the radio.
25. Some people call me a Grammar Nazi.
26. I think its hilarious people call me a Nazi, mainly because my mother’s side is Jewish and by default that makes me Jewish. A Jewish Nazi, what is the world coming to!
27. My dad is a published author.
28. I love my dad, we have the best relationship. We’re very similar and have the same sense of humour. I really am dreading the time he’s not around any more.
29. My computer’s desktop is a perpetual mess.
30. I really really like sex. I believe sex is a really important aspect of a couple’s relationship, and I also believe that incompatibilities in the bedroom can be a reflection of incompatibilities in the relationship as a whole. Similarly, frustrations in the bedroom can spill over & spoil the rest of the relationship, and I think having a good sex life can be a really positive thing for a couple. Needless to say I’m very happy in my relationship 😉

And that’s it! Thanks for making it this far, and if you skipped to the end, well, lets face it, its probably not going to make a massive difference in our lives. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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.

 

My Neglected Garden

October 25, 2010

Well, my busy uni schedule this year has taken its toll on my garden (and this blog…), but I took a stroll around the garden today and spotted a few lovelies in amongst the weeds.

I’m really pleased with this little climbing rose “Lorraine Lee”. Its only two years old & has reached the deck railing already! Its a few metres off the ground too. Its got a nice sprinkling of fragrant pink blooms this year, and its bringing some much needed colour to my bare deck at the moment:

These tiny little Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra) are slowly colonising my shady area next to my workshop. I love their ferny foliage and the way the blooms tremble in the breeze:

This Moss Rose always fascinates me! I love watching it come to life each Spring. The branches are extremely prickly, but the leaves are structurally interesting, and then the buds are covered in this “moss” which has a pine fragrance when you rub it. It only flowers once a year but the blooms are deep red and very fragrant which makes it worth it. Here’s a photo in the morning sun, showing the moss & prickles in great detail:

And lastly, my Raspberry patch is bigger then ever this year (don’t I say that every year??) and the blossoms are just starting to open this week:

Can’t wait to be picking bowlfuls of these! They always feature somewhere in my Christmas desserts. And just for interests sake, here’s an “aerial view” of the bed the raspberries live in. I don’t think I’m going to be able to plant anything else in this bed this year, though there is some strawberry plants hidden in there somewhere:

Look at all that lush growth! Ignore my other veggie bed, its full of weeds, spent broccoli plants and stray potatoes.

I hope to be blogging much more this Summer, because I have absolutely no Summer School this year (first time since I started my degree!!) so should have a lot more free time for gardening and blogging 😀

Happy Spring!

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! 🙂