The First Week of Autumn

I don’t know what happened to summer this year, it’s been cooler than usual, cloudier than usual and has gone in a blur . The firewood has started coming, the garden is dying off in a mess of wilting foliage. The only good thing about autumn is the fig, pumpkin and feijoa harvests, smiling sunflowers…then it’s just one big clean up and the wintering down off most of it. 

The garden:

Roger is grinning from ear to ear today….we finally got his bees. We have been waiting for a year or so for a hive to come up cheaply and it did. They aren’t cheap, but this was 1/2 the price we usually see them for. The man he bought them from this morning assured us there would be 30 kg of honey from this box, additionally there would be beeswax and the pollination of vegetable plants and fruit trees. We then had to buy a book on keeping bees which was not cheap either…..I think the first new book I have bought in decades.

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Mittens early morning routine of watching the chooks being fed. It’s a good thing they are behind a huge fence I think.Image

The leeks are growing well, the zucchini are dying off and behind them a mass of pumpkins and ripening wine grapes.

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A pumpkin invasion.Image

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The tomatoes are nearing the end. With such a cool summer we didn’t get nearly as many as I had hoped for despite planting extra plants. We got heaps but not enough for the year, I will be buying some!

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Silverbeet (Chard) self seeds everywhere. We have masses of it, we eat alot of it and the chooks love it.

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Beans and beetroot still growing but not much longer for the beans.Image

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The herbs are nearing the end for many, the big herb garden has been covered with peastraw to build up the soil and keep weeds down over winter. The oregano flowering.Image

In the glasshouse we have peppers and chillis just fruiting/ripening and one enormous tomato plant that doesn’t have alot of fuit, is keeping sun off the other plants but Roger is very proud of it:)

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In November we decided to journal all our harvesting to see how much we could grow. So far, in three months it is up to nearly 300 kg (2.2 lbs to kg I think?) of fruit, vegetables and berries. There is still alot to come. This from our garden which is probably 1/8 acre. 

The kitchen:

I have been making tomato sauces, both barbecue sauce and a ketchup. We love both of these recipes. I save my olive oil bottles for tomato sauce, I have done 4 litres, maybe another 4 will do.

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And started some Blackberry Liqueur.

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And it’s soup season, another thing to be thankful to autumn for 🙂 

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Home:

These are some of the guys from Vanuatu, they came last night for farewell drinks…all rather shy of the camera 🙂 These guys come over to work in the vineyards and we know them well now. This is the summer crew. We were talking last night about their lives…they either have family land or buy a small area for very little, build their houses from wood they chop down, live in small villages and their food is practically free. They grow their own vegetables, eat mostly seafood they catch and occasional chickens (usually for ceremonial meals) and their fruit and coconuts are picked freely from the thousands of trees that grow naturally. That’s their diet and for all our food groups and daily requirement lists….these guys are truly fit and healthy. They speak between 3 and 4 languages and are honest, hardworking, proud but humble people. Vanuatuans have twice been voted the world’s happiest in the world. I just thought I would add all this after the other day’s grumpy post about dissatisfaction 🙂 🙂

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Quarter Acres 1 year blog Anniversary – Growing your own groceries

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We are 1 year old this week 🙂 This reminded me of my first ever blog. I had no idea whatsoever of what I was doing and was actually just trying to start a journal for us of our efforts over a year….I thought I could just put it out “there” at a later date if I chose to !!!! Yes, I know, naive into the ways of technology and social media! I got 3 followers that day and wondered why and how that happened. Then I ‘got it’ and was panic stricken. That’s wasn’t what I had expected or was prepared for. I am (was) a rather private person and this was rather scary. But…what I had hoped for was that we learned something that others could benefit from  one day, hopefully – younger families would be inspired to grow some of their own food to help through hard times. After a year long journey of doing it ourselves and blogging, this is still my hope. These are hard times, insecure times for so many – this is one thing we can do to save a whopping amount of money. We eat far better now than we ever did buying food from a supermarket and we eat better than anyone we know. Good food, grown ourselves cheaply, much of it stored for winter and autumn, cooked well…it doesn’t get any more satisfying.

Over the course of the year I had met some awesome, awesome people who I am happy to call friends. I look forward to our conversations and reading of your lives and your thoughts….you special ladies know who you are and I truly appreciate your presence in my life xxx For all of you thanks for supporting and commenting, for reading my ramblings and for teaching me also, I learn alot from the blogs of others.

And because my intention always for this blog is to inspire struggling families I will add these links for some of my older posts for any newbies out there who are thinking of growing a little, or alot, for themselves.This food in the photo was grown here or is as cheap as food gets! And thank you Backyard Farmer for the starter, the bread is delicious 🙂 (and for an inspiring blog of your own!)

My  list of ‘best for value’ homegrown vegetables and fruit for kitchen and pantry

Growing your own food

Beginners Guide to Frugal Gardening

Beginners Guide to Frugal Gardening (2)


Thank you everyone for reading my ramblings 🙂

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Freezing eggs and preserving….my busy time of the year.

And so it starts – all those tiny seeds planted in spring by an very exuberant husband pays off in a barage of “stuff to do something with” now. There is 2- 3 months ahead of me in food processing and most days I love it, some days I wonder why on earth we do all this. Once it’s all finished though and we get to step back and see the years food all sitting there, it’s a satisfying thing.The garden is flourishing and gaps have been newly planted for autumn, the last chance to grow for winter food – bar the raised garden of greens out in the front yard and “yay” the glasshouse this year.

Freezing eggs: We normally give surplus eggs away but have started freezing them for use over winter when laying is minimal. It makes no sense to give them away and buy over winter. Whole eggs can just be stirred (not whisked as it gives too much air) and frozen in ice cube trays or zip lock packages with the amounts on. Our eggs are quite large so two cubes equals one egg (for baking)Image

My provident journey did this post on freezing eggs which people might be interested in if wanting to freeze yolks and whites separately http://myprovidentjourney.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/provident-uses-for-your-freezer-eggs-other-things-i-havent-tried/

Beetroot/Beets: 

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Beetroot is one of our favourite vegetables to grow – I think so far we have planted over 200 or so with more to come. It’s easy, virtually disease and pest free, has a good leeway when it can be harvested so can be preserved when I have the time, both the bulbs and leaves can be eaten and it’s super healthy. We use it nearly every day either grated in salads, roasted, juiced (except I blew up my juicer forcing beetroot into it!) and we bottle heaps of it. It’s a good food to have in sandwiches through winter when tomatoes aren’t available. https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/spiced-beetroot-preserving-recipe/

Spiced Beetroot is a delicious recipe for bottling and we make it every year

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Beetroot Chutney

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The recipe for this I found at http://hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com/2009/10/30/beetroot-chutney/ I had never tried it before so made just one quantity to try it. This has alot of ginger in and is spicy/gingery. I like it but I don’t think hubby will. Note my labels 🙂 🙂 This is so the lady of the house who wears reading glasses but doesn’t bother when getting food from the pantry, doesn’t serve up feijoa jam to go with cold meat when we have guests….again! I needed something BIG. I found these labels and was rapt, they peel off so next season I don’t need to soak anything off. A bonus, and worth every cent.

My husband refuses to eat the leaves cooked (though he will eat small ones in a salad) but I saw this recipe earlier in the week and really want to try it, it looks utterly delicious http://backyardfarmer.co.nz/2014/01/28/ricotta-and-beetroot-tops-pasta-one-of-the-best-pastas-i-have-ever-eaten-and-i-have-eaten-a-lot-of-pasta/

Zucchini:

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:):) Yep, we have a glut, especially as Roger planted 6 plants this year because he really likes the chutney I make and this vegetable is so versatile. We are giving it away left, right and centre lol. But I am freezing some, making heaps of the chutney because it gets ladled onto to everything all year long and we are eating it every night. I tried zucchini chips but they didn’t work out – I will try it again at some stage.

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Yesterdays harvest minus the four marrow I gave away.

Raspberry Liqueur: A friend of ours who makes his own spirits kindly made us a batch of vodka. I would never buy vodka but wanted to try making my own fruit liqueurs and this is affordable and can be used with many different fruits. 1 lb of fruit, 3 cups of vodka and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Leave to steep for a month, shake or stir regularly. Strain, sit a month then filter and rebottle, leave at least 3 months before drinking. Yep, I know….3 whole months!! I wonder if the same thing will happen that happened with our wine, drunk too soon but it was very good!

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I have slowly been adding dried vegetables to a large jar of dried soup mix. We bought a metre and a half of aluminium fly screen netting to place on top of our oven racks and vegetables can be tried overnight at 50 – 60 degrees. I have done carrots, beans, onions, pumpkin to add too lentils, barley, herbs etc. This is slow going but given I used to buy a packet of stockpot mix as a base to each pot I made I figure at least I know what is in my homemade.

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Beer Tempura Vegetables

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An economical and delicious way of dressing up ordinary vegetables, this is a perfect scratch meal that’s sure to please. I have made these quite a few times over the years but made up my own batter recipe as I have often not been entirely happy with past efforts, this is just perfect. Light, crunchy and golden. Normally we have this late summer and use capsicums, broccoli, pumpkin etc but this time I just used what I had in the fridge – nothing startling but it was very good. The zucchini flowers are excellent this way. And usually it’s served with sweet chilli sauce but I have run out so we had it with chutney.

Chop whatever vegetables you are using and spread out on a board to dry for at least 30 minutes. They must be dry for the batter to stick.

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Batter:

3/4 cup white flour

1/2 cup cornflour (corn starch)

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

Chilled Beer (approx 3/4 stubbie or can)

Olive Oil (this can be strained and refrigerated to use again)

Mix the dry ingredients, add the egg and 1 cup of beer. Mix well and add more beer until it is a batter similar consistency to a thinnish pancake batter. It needs to coat thinly but be thick enough to stay on whatever you are coating. Leave to stand 10 minutes.

Heat about 3 cups of oil in a pot, about 3 ” deep. Turn on warming drawer or oven as this needs to be cooked in batches and kept hot. Toss vegetables one batch at a time (maybe 10 – 12 pieces) and fry just a few minutes till a rich golden colour. Repeat process till all cooked. These keep well while being kept warm and do not go soggy….they are also great as leftovers. I made twice this amount on the plate.

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A week of all sorts :)

Last week we inherited a cat (from one of the kids) meet 1 year old Mittens -seen here in a photo on his second day looking rather worried about one of our dogs. He has settled in nicely and has become a garden cat, he would rather play out there all day than be inside.

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This week I have had my 7 year old granddaughter visiting. On her first day we went to watch sheep being shorn at the farm Roger works at. This was really interesting and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. A friend of mine is about to start classes in spinning so hopefully we can go and see her doing this at some stage as another step in the process. The second day we went to this beach to throw a message in a bottle into the water. This beach is down the back roads of our town about 10 minutes away and this is how many people generally use it – none. I take the dogs here often and am alone virtually every time.

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We did this last summer also, and yes, I do feel guilty because as she said “Basically we are littering aren’t we Nana?”

She wanted to do it again as last year it was found a week later 20 minutes drive from where it was thrown in and I received a text to say so. We found the tiniest glass jar we could, about 2″ high and she wrote her message, threw it in the water and it disappeared. We have a rule here, if she wants to do this we have to go along and pick up all the rubbish on the beach first as a price to pay.

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This is her this morning, retrieving her message from the lady whose husband found it – in the next beach down the shore, amongst seaweed while he was looking for starfish or something. They were as excited as we were and also took photos. It was alot of fun but I don’t know my conscience can stand to do it again, I am so pleased it was found! This couple was lovely and wanted to meet her, the lady wrote a message on the back for her and popped it back in the jar. A really nice experience for all really.

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This week I have been drying vegetables for homemade soup mix to add to fresh in winter. We purchased 1.5 metres of aluminium fly screen netting to cover our oven racks. I had a misadventure with my dehydrator a few week back so it will be a wee while before it’s back in service.

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These are Worcester berries we found out last year while watching River Cottage. It was supposed to be a gooseberry bush when we bought it! This is our first harvest off them and they are not so nice but apparently beautiful cooked with apples so they have been frozen for doing just that.

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Huge field mushrooms picked mid-summer!!Image

Last weekend Roger went garage-saleing and found these for me which I love. They are very heavy metal but I have no idea what metal they are. They were $5 for the set.Image

And because I don’t think I have ever shown a photo of me, this is one taken recently 🙂

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Back to the garden!….

My posts of late seem to be about everything else but! so I took photos as I went through my day today. I have worked nearly full time the past two weeks so haven’t really done the food stuff.

This morning when I got up this was what Roger had left on the bench from his brekkie. So far we have collected 10 kg of raspberries. We are not really jam eaters so they have been frozen for smoothies and desserts.

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So I had some of these for my breakfast with sliced banana and topped with leftover ground dates, almonds and sunflower seeds (from a chocolate avocado tart base) and homemade yogurt.

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Harvested our smaller first lot of carrots from the raised garden. This were just washed and put in the crisper (no freezing till the bigger lots come in.

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Also out of the raised garden the first of the beetroot (beets)

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This were made into Spiced Beetroot which is a delicious way to preserve them. By the end of the season I hope to have 50 or 60 jars. Sorry not a great photo. The recipe for these can be found here https://quarteracrelifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/spiced-beetroot-preserving-recipe/

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Then I cooked and froze my bags of beans, lentils and chickpeas. This is so much cheaper than canned beans, a 500 g bag of mixed beans cost $2.59 made 9 packets which would each equal a can, each can would cost nearly that.

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I also found out today I had won a “Giveaway” draw from The Contented Crafter, a set of greeting cards. I am very excited about this as she does the most gorgeous pictures. Please do check out her blog, she is such a delight and so talented 🙂

http://paulinekingblog.wordpress.com/

I also have two more more awards I need to do but just have not had the time. To those who nominated me thanks so much and I will be onto it soon!!

Spicy Pumpkin, Spinach and Lentil Soup

A few months ago I posted a recipe for Moroccon Lamb Soup, I have adapted this recipe for a vegetarian one. This has pumpkin, potato, spinach, lentils, chickpeas and is flavoured with turmeric, paprika and ginger. The results? Perfect!

Chock full of nutrients, this can be eaten as a stoup (how I like it) or more water added for a more soupy texture. This made a large quantity to enable freezing of some but could easily be halved.

500 g pumpkin, chopped

2 brown onions, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 potatoes, cubed

good bunch of baby spinach…2 – 3 cups

5 cloves garlic

1 can tomatoes including juice, or fresh

400 g tin chickpeas, or cooked

1 cup brown lentils

Vegetable stock of choice, 10 – 12 cups water

2 tsp each paprika and turmeric

1 1/2 tsp each black pepper and ginger

Salt to taste – 11/2 – 2 tspns

Pour a little olive oil in the base of very large pan and saute onions, garlic and carrots with the spices gently till soft. Add all other ingredients except chickpeas and spinach and cook for 1 1/2 hours, keeping an eye on the water level as I needed to add more a couple of times. Add the chickpeas after 1 1/4 hours, check seasonings, and add the spinach just a couple of minutes before serving.

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This was actually very cheap to make, using most of the vegetables from the garden and frozen cooked chickpeas I by in bulk. The pumpkin base and spices makes this dish but this is something that could easily be adapted to use what is available/ cheap at the time.