Sunday, May 31, 2009


... to buy lots of fruit and vegetables.
Locally there is a fruit and vege market. It is only open to the public on Friday mornings and mostly you can only buy veges in bulk. Last Friday we got together with 4 others and each put in $30.00. Then we divided the large boxes of fruit and veges between us.
I came home with tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, corn, pumpkin, oranges, pears, apples, spring onions, spinach. Lots and lots of each.
So this weekend I have been busy cooking.
Stewed apples for the freezer - will be used for apple crumbles, muffins, pies etc.
Tomatoe sauce to freeze. This is very easy - cut up tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, herbs from the garden (I used mint, oregano, chilli and parsley). Boil until soft and then blend slightly, ladle into containers and place in freezer. This sauce is wonderful with pasta or in casseroles.

4cloves garlic

3 tsp cloves

3 tsp peppercorns

2 kg ripe tomatoes

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup white vinegar

2 tsp sea salt

4 fresh chillies

Stir all ingreddients over heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil and boil everything for 45 mins or until mixture thickens slightly. Blend until smooth. Strain through sieve to. Pour sauce into hot sterilised bottles and seal when cold.
5 medium lemons
8 pears, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup glace ginger, chopped
1 1/4 litres water
4 cups sugar
Slice lemons(unpeeled) and combine in pot with remaining ingredients. Stir over heat without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil, simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until jam jells when tested. Pour jam into hot sterilised jars, seal when cold.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


One of my least appreciated presents would have to be kitchen gadgets. I am sure you know the ones - electrical choppers, graters, serving bowls etc. They are the type of things I seem to get a few of each year for birthdays or Christmas. My family and friends know I love cooking and creating in the kitchen. But I haven't the heart to tell them I hate most kitchen gadgets. They used to be put into the cupboards and hardly used. I have since found new homes for most of my excess and unused gifts of the kitchen kind.
There are however some kitchen gadgets that I absolutely love and use over and over again. Most of them are are simple things that make life much easier.
For some reason the kids think apples taste better when they are peeled/cored with this. I actually think it is the long spiral of apples that they really like. Super Boy loves apples done like this when he goes to preschool. I use the peeler heaps when making stewed apples for apple crumbles or to freeze. It saves a lot of time rather than peeling an dcutting by hand and it is all manual - no electricity.

This one is a heavy marble one. It gets loads of use for crushing garlic, herbs, nuts etc.
If you do a lot of cooking like I do then this little sprayer is very useful. It is a simple hand pump for oil. It is refillable and perfect for oiling baking trays, frypans etc.
And a million times cheaper than buying those cans of oil spray from the supermarket.
Love these! No more burnt fingers from holding cobs of hot corn. The spiky bits fit togther when storing so no spikes in fingers when rummaging through the drawers. A very civilized way of eating corn.

I have no idea how much electricity the bread machine gobbles but I think it is worth it for the convenience and time saving. I use mine heaps. Sometimes for making dough for pizzas and foccacia bread and other times for loaves of bread or buns.

I would love to know what kitchen gadgets others find really useful. Leave me a comment on your favourites.

M xx

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Euphorbia Diamond Frost is its real name.

I first heard about this plant on Better Homes and Gardens a year or more ago and they raved about it - drought hardy, needs little extra watering, flowers all the time, pretty dainty white flowers...

But when I went looking for it I couldn't find it in any of my local nursery's until last November when I saw three plants for sale on the discount table at my local Bunnings store. I almost left them there as they looked so scraggly and unattractive. Boy, I am so glad I didn't because I love this plant so much.

All the claims are true. So far it hasn't stopped flowering. It will flower every month of the year in warmer areas. It loves a sunny spot or semi shade. Where mine is planted it gets full sun in summer and dappled shade in winter. The flowers are tiny whispy just like little butterflies . The bees and other insects love the plant. The foliage is lime green. The plant can grow to 1m by 1m but mine are smaller than that. They are perfect for a cottage garden look. And the best thing other than the endless flowers is that once you have one plant it is so easy to divide. As I said I began with three and I have pulled off parts from the plant and popped them into the soil to give a carpet effect. I have at least 15 plants now.

It grows really well in a pot too - check out the picture below. How gorgeous is that! It isn't mine, found the image on the web, but after seeing this I am putting a plant in a pot outside my kitchen window where I can admire it.
M xx

Friday, May 15, 2009


Rhubarb is such a nostalgic fruit for me. As a child it was served up in crumbles, stewed with apples or made into pies. The gorgeous crimson stems added a lovely colour to our deserts.

In my garden I have 4 rhubarb plants growing. This is their first year and I have been told by an old seasoned gardener that I should let them grow and become established for a year before harvesting any. The leaves are poisonous although that hasn't stopped the bugs chewing at them - maybe they are dead bugs now. Oxalic acid is in the leaves and that is the poison. My dad tells me if he had a mouse problem in the compost he would put a few rhubarb leaves in there with peanut butter smeared on them. The mice would be attracted to the peanut butter and nibble the leaves and die.
The leaves can be steeped in a bin full of water and then the resulting liquid used as a deterrent for cabbage white butterflies. I haven't tried this but I have been told it seems to work and it smells bad!
The stalks on three of the plants are thick and long and the leaves huge. These three are planted in a shady area of the yard which only recieves a few hours of sunlight a day at this time of the year. They seem to be very happy there amongst the nasturtiums and the little olive trees. The other plant is up near my raised vege patch and is in full sunlight. It is not as happy nor as healthy looking.

I am looking for forward to my rhubarb getting big enough to use - I don't think I will be waiting a year though.
Then I will be trying out a few of the recipes from the link below. Rhubard jam and chutney sounds delicious.
M xx

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Growing up in my parents house we led a fairly simple life. As a child I thought we were well off. We had heaps of food, a dodgy tv, freedom to play in our large yard or up in the bush or down by the river.
It is only as an adult that I realized my parents were doing it tough. Without dads large vegetable garden, my nannas sewing and knitting skills and my mums thriftiness, making ends meet would have been a real struggle.
My dad had a large vegetable garden and many fruit trees - 8 apples, a few pears, two huge plums, lemon, raspberry vines, gooseberry, rhubard to name a few. Dad was the gardener. He came home from work and was out in the garden until we called him in for tea and then again after tea for an hour or two.
Mums domain was the house. She had the task of preserving, bottling and storing all the home grown produce. She stewed apples and berries for the freezer, bottled pears, froze excess vegetables, made the most delicious plum and tomatoe sauce (as children we never had store brought sauce).
My nanna and unmarried Aunt kept us girls in clothes. They knitted us lovely jumpers for winter (our Tassie winters were cold), they sewed us dresses for summer. My Aunt always looked out for clothes on sale for us. Nothing was brought at full price - there wasn't the money. But we never felt deprived.
Mum cooked on a combustion stove. It was a great big, soot covered black cast iron thing. Nothing like the one in the picture above. She hated it! The stove also heated up the water, so no fire going meant no hot water! First thing of a morning one of us would light the combustion. It smoked and went out regularly. The hot water took at least 30 min to heat up and it was forever going cold, usually in the middle of having a shower. If we had been out all day the first thing needing to be done was to get the fire going. In summer it made the house too warm. In winter we hated going outside and up to the shed to bring in armfulls of wood.
When I was a teen mum finally got rid of the combustion heater and replaced it with electric oven and electric hot water.
Now having a combustion oven sounds wonderful. Maybe not here in Newcastle in the heat of summer but it would sure beat the electric oven.
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