Rain, rain and more rain

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The past 4 days it has just rained. After months of none at all we have quickly become a quagmire in the garden, it’s been cold and miserable.

Garden:

Roger made a feed tray for the chooks from an old paddling pool frame (from his “collection of useful junk”) The fence is really high and a bit awkward for me to undo so I generally tip food over it, ok when it’s dry but not when muddy.Image

Before any bale of peastraw gets to the garden the chooks get to enjoy it for a while, pecking insects out and whatever out.

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Roger has been repotting boysenberry plants that have rooted. Shoots self root and can be cut from the parent plantImage

He took this photo to show me his wonderful compost under his 2 yr old branches left in a pile down the back of the garden.

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This is a carrot he left to go to seed. He hasn’t done this before but instead of collecting them he prepared some earth then shook the large seedheads everywhere. He is hoping they grow this way….?Image

Kitchen:

Shameful bragging – look at the size of our figs this year!! This is a decent sized avocado next to this one.Image

I have been drying any excess as they come in, there is not enough yet to bottle. Figs really only last a day or two before they spoil, we had our first meal of buckwheat pancakes, bacon and honey grilled figs and it was good!!!!Image

Drying herbs at the same timeImage

Making more chutney and a large jar of onions.Image

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I keep a pail of wild bird seed on the porch and mix it with fat left in the roasting tin for the birds, the chooks also love it. This mix costs $7 for a large bag at the supermarket but a local seed and grain place sells it for only $3.30.  Apparently irresistible to a certain cat.Image

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Home:

A month or so ago I wrote a post about thoughts of leaving here. We have each decided we want to stay put :) We’re too old to start over and we are rooted here when it comes down to it :) We have thoughts of how we can earn some income from here but won’t mention those just now, a “one-day plan”. Next weekend, Easter, we are going to repaint the lounge after leaving it undercoated for rather a long time.

This bird’s nest is too tiny to catch a decent photo but we were amused to find it when Roger cut down the trees at the back. In the earthquakes last year our hot water cyclinder burst. We replaced it and Roger pulled the old one to bits to get a most lovely copper inner out. It was insulated with old wool that he put in a sack, this nest was made with some of it :)

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This has been sitting on our front porch for ages, my son was going to throw it out. I grabbed it but never did like the black of it and one piece of cane was missing from the front. Image

I got bored the other day and decided to repaint this. Roger plucked a piece of cane from the back of a cane bookcase to fill the gap. I am not doing a great job but it will be better I hope than before…maybe? maybe not :)

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Anyway, I think that’s all this week from Quarteracre. Keep warm those in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy your Spring those in the Northern :)

Drunken Plums (Liqueur)

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This is so simple to make but takes 2 months to develop. Wash plums and cut in half, remove the stones.

Layer in a jar with sugar. Around 1/4″ sugar to each layer of plums. You need to use a jar that has an airtight lid.

Once full pour over cheap vodka or gin until it reaches the top. Seal and date.

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Leave in a dark cool place for two months, turning daily or as often as possible eg Turn onto it’s lid the second day, back onto bottom third day.

After two months all the sugar will be dissolved and a most divine (and potent liquid) will have formed.Image

 Strain through a large strainer, then through a finer one for clarity. Bottle and it’s ready to drink. Image

The fruit tastes delicious, very much like boozy prunes. It can be eaten as is with cream or ice-cream or baked in a pudding.

Two preserving jars made 1 1/2 wine bottle sized bottles of liqueur and I wish now I had made alot more as Jess (Rabid Little Hippy) told me to :)IMG_3519

Nothing from the Kitchen today :)

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Because Wendy decided to go on strike….no more preserving till the feijoas and figs come in. I figure I have a two to three week window to relax a bit in :) Actually the drop in temperature was making my body ache like crazy so I have been nurturing myself rather than pushing myself through it. It’s worked and I am feeling alot better.

There is little going on in the garden either right now. The pumpkins are dying off but they will stay where they are till the first frosts, we have found this gives much richer colour and flavour. The figs are still a wee way off and the feijoas are just starting to drop with one or two a day. Carrots, silverbeet, beetroot, beans and broccoli, one of the zucchini plants are still going. Roger has just planted broad beans for winter, parsnip went in a few weeks ago. The raised garden in the front needs emptying and planting for winter greens. Everything is slowing.

The feijoa bushes are laden

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Capsicums are nearly finished and waiting on chillis which are trying to grow amongst a rampant tomato plant in the glasshouse.

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I am not quite sure how the black ones happenedImage

That time of the year!!

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We have had 3 lots of visitors this past few weeks We have had family here to stay and Anthony and his lovely family to visit. Anthony is a like-minded blogger from Melbourne. We really enjoyed their visit and a chance to chat with others doing similar to us and we managed to glean lots of info on bees from them….we hoped they didn’t notice we know virtually nothing about what we are doing with them. Anyway… lovely times :)

So, apart from cleaning my house so it is acceptable for visitors I have really been chilling a bit and thoroughly enjoying it. I have done lots of reading, listened to music, done a little sewing but haven’t finished my items yet.

When I listen to music Mittens will too, however he gets alot closer to the stereo than I get. One music loving feline!

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  A little drawing/painting for my granddaughter, the mermaid lover in the family and apparently these  “really do exist” because she has seen photos of real ones on the internet. Not even close to Pauline’s standard yet :)Image

One book I have been enjoying is James Wong’s Grow Your Own drugs, it’s wonderful and I intend to make a few of his recipes soon.

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And that’s all from me :)

Dark Chocolate and Beetroot (Beet) Mudcake

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I have tried chocolate and beetroot cakes in the past but this one is by far the best. This is not too rich, heavy or sweet and both the texture and flavour are perfect. This recipe is by Gretchen Lowe and Homestyle Magazine, April/May edition.

This uses 250 g of pureed beetroot and I will be cooking some up to keep in the freezer for future cakes. The icing I used was a normal chocolate butter icing (a cheaper option for me) but I will give the recipe for the chocolate ganache she used.

200g Dark chocolate (at least 62% cocoa)

4 tblspns hot espresso

200g butter

135 g flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp cocoa

5 eggs, separated

250 g cooked and peeled beetroot, pureed

190 g castor sugar (this can be made by putting normal white sugar through a blender)

GANACHE:

400g dark chocolate

400ml cream

ALTERNATIVE CHOCOLATE ICING:

50 g butter softened

1 tablespoon cocoa

little boiling water

1 tsp vanilla

approx 2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Line a 20 cm cake tin with baking paper.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan. Then pour in hot coffee and stir in the butter, leaving till softened. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Meanwhile sift flour, baking powder and cocoa into a bowl.

Separate the eggs and whisk yolks until frothy. Stir the yolks through chocolate mixture then fold in pureed beetroot.

Whisk whites till soft peaks form. Fold in sugar. Fold into and through the chocolate mixture then fold this mixture into the combined dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared tin and bake 35 minutes. Do not over-bake.

When cooked leave to cool before turning out of tin to decorate. When cold the cake can be cut into two layers.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE:

Place chocolate into a bowl. Heat the cream till nearly boiling then pour over chocolate, stirring gently till combined. Leave a room temperature till ganache has reached a spreadable consistency. Smooth generously between the layers and around the sides of cake. Cake can be topped with fresh berries or figs.

CHOCOLATE ICING:

Melt butter, add cocoa and vanilla. Add icing sugar and beat into a thick cream, adding boiling water as required to make a soft consistency. Icing will firm on cooling.

I made in a larger tin so only had one layer. Nice served with whipped cream.Image

 

 

 

Settling into Autumn

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We are well and truly hitting Autumn. We have had the fire going quite a bit, the nights and mornings are chilly, the garden is on it’s very last legs. Just in time for fellow blogger Anthony and his family (from Australia) to visit tomorrow, the garden has exhausted itself!! But we are very excited and looking forward to meeting them :)

Either dead or dying

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When your garden looks like this on a very large scale there are several reactions all at once. Glee for one, lol. Things will slow down now and we can get to enjoy some other aspects of life and hopefully paint our lounge! Sorrow because we do love summer and horror, because that’s one grizzly mess to clean up!

But we do have sunflowers and we are still waiting on fruit and pumpkins to ripen.Image

There is still plenty to preserve. I have continued buying sauce tomatoes for pulping, cooking till concentrated and freezing. I did 7 jars of pickled garlic.

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A lovely fellow blogger :) sent me a link one day for an easy way to peel garlic that was on You Tube. It was bashing it to break up then putting in 2 stainless steel bowls and shaking it rapidly for 5 minutes. If anyone ever tries this and gets it to work please let me know HOW? because it didn’t work for us!

Still pickling beetroot

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Roger picked me some peaches to do…..Bless him she says, between gritted teeth :)

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Capsicums are still coming and being frozen, as is, for stuffing with whatever over winter

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We have plans now for our marrows. I got given a recipe by a friend for Marrow Rum (Fran?)

You take the top off, de-seed it, and fill it with good brown sugar and let it ferment for 2 months in a cool place. Apparently it makes very good booze! I hate rum but am keen to try it, I am sure we will find takers for it.

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A large batch of apple sauce was made and frozen and another batch of cider vinegar is on the go.Image

You could be mistaken for thinking we either a) had a white telly-tubby call in or b) we were visited by martians – Roger’s first visit on the bees :)

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He is really enjoying them and we are both becoming quite fascinated as we read more about their community living, work, and lives.

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Our kitchen window is the most used window in our house. Roger will often appear at it, grin, tell my to hold out my hand and pass me the first fig, strawberry, tomato…bird’s nests he has found etc. All sorts come through that window, or get passed out of it, often a beer or a fresh baked something. Twice in one week he bought these to show me :)Image

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AND FINALLY!! A source of great excitement arrived.

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Last year I inherited by Mum’s new oven when she went into a rest home. A year later it’s arrived via my sister and hubby on holiday. It was a 3.5 hour ferry trip and over an hours drive away but was bound to get here sooner or later. The decrepid old thing we had was near it’s last legs, half the elements no longer worked and the racks caved in occasionally. You have no idea how welcomed this appliance was!!! It will make preserving and drying a whole lot easier that’s for sure.

Many of you are heading into Spring, I wish you a long and productive two seasons!!

Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste

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quarteracrelifestyle:

Reblogging to try this as the figs are nearly upon us, and this looks delicious.

Originally posted on The $120 Food Challenge:

I live next door to a church.

It’s not an obvious building, it doesn’t have stained glass windows, or a cemetery or bells but on a Sunday morning it does have a congregation singing and a few cars parked out the front.

For the rest of the week, it sits squat and quiet in a suburban street, with all but the roofline hidden from our view behind a seven foot fence.

And across this fence that separates our back yards, rests a large fig tree.

View original 583 more words

Golden Yogini Milk

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I love Chai Lattes, there is a place I go once a week for the best ever Spicy Chai Latte and I had decided to try making them for myself. I have been experimenting with recipes online but none of them come close to it for flavour.

When I saw this recipe I thought I would try because of the turmeric, it’s very good for the pain of fibromyalgia. Apparently this drink is great for a peaceful sleep but I have been having it mid-morning. I added ginger and a small amount of honey and THIS is well and truly as good as satisfying as my special chai lattes.

Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, it also is good for lifting spirits and calming anxiety. Don’t let the turmeric put you off trying this, it doesn’t taste at all like curry in this drink :) I altered the recipe a little the second time around to make a bit spicier….to suit my tastes. I also raised the amount of coconut oil in this as I have been trying to incorporate more in my diet in small ways.

The original recipe comes from Katie Silcox and she calls this her Guardian Angel Medicine. She also discusses the merits of drinking this, Ayurvedic medicine and plant allies. Check out her lovely blog, her post and comments on this soothing, very moreish hot drink. I would probably suggest making her version first and seeing if this is spicy enough for you.

Any option to dairy milk will work with this.

Golden Yogini Milk:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 1/2 tsp turmeric

1/3 tsp ground cardamom

1/3 tsp cinnamon

1/3 tsp ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp honey (optional, to taste)

Melt the oil gently in a pan. Once melted add the spices and stir through. Once you can smell the spices add the milk and stir well. Bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour into a blender. Blend for 20 seconds. NOTE: You will not want to leave the vent covered because of the steam (I had a nasty burn years ago from doing this) Cover loosely with a cloth instead. The resulting drink is rich, frothy and deliciously fragrant and spicy.

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