Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I am so, so saddened to write that there has been another massive earthquake in Christchurch, this time much worse. Paddy, myself and our home are ok but our city is destroyed. We have one friend that we know of most likely trapped in the CTV building, one of the worst hit, and are hoping and praying (despite not being religious) for a positive outcome. There are many more people who have been badly injured or killed by this terrible event and the true toll will not be known for days, if not weeks.We are constantly being rocked by huge aftershocks, and sleep is hard to come by.

The devastation is unbelievable. Paddy and I live just a few kilometres from most of these photos.

Please send your thoughts, prayers and strength to those in my beautiful city who need it most. xxx

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Afternoon Tea

This weekend just been I felt like giving crumpets another turn. As I always end up with more than Paddy and I can eat, I invited a few friends over for a nibble. Once I laid out the spread, I was very pleased to see it was bascially all homemade! We had crumpets with butter and apricot honey, and elderflower champagne. One of my friends brought over some amazing REAL maple syrup to go with the crumpets. If you don't know how maple syrup is made, you really should read in it. It's fascinating!

A delicious Sunday afternoon tea with lovely people, made straight from the heart.

Monday, February 21, 2011

From My Kitchen - Sunday 20th February

I've been so busy that I somehow missed an entire week of meal planning and posts! I honestly don't know where my times goes anymore, full-time work is proving to be a big adjustment for me! I love the freedom of my weekends and evenings, but I don't get home until 6pm at the earliest not until 8pm on gym night, and with me being an early-to-bed nana, my evenings seems to scream by. Lately the evenings have been taken up with preserving, and this will continue for the next few weeks at least as our house is flush with produce gifted from friends, grown in the garden or foraged for, that needs to have something done with it! On the agenda includes red tomato relish, green tomato chutney, more to-die-for pasta sauce, plum sauce, plum wine, wild blackberry vodka, apple cider and mead. Phew, it will be busy! I will be posting recipes and results as they happen :)
Now, onto dinner this week. It is grocery week, so things are a bit slim until shopping later in the week, but the garden is still full so I have tried my best to be creative...

Sunday - at our neighbours for delicious homekill roast hogget and garden veges
Monday - potato salad with tonnato sauce (tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice and zest and homemade mayonnaise, blended together) sauteed garden greens (broccoli, beans and zucchini)
Tuesday - mushroom lasagna with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and green salad
Wednesday - free-range pork strips marinated in homemade plum sauce with salt 'n' vinegar potato 'chips' and green salad
Thursday - crockpot lamb shanks with roast pumpkin mash and green beans

- honey and peanut butter booster bars from River Cottage Everyday
- hummus

To Do
- soak and cook chickpeas
- make mayo
- slow roast tomatoes
- kombucha (which has been very neglected lately!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Harvest

This is what Paddy and I picked from the garden this afternoon. We didn't weigh anything but this bounty includes carrots, beans, red and green tomatoes of multiple varieties, zucchinis, a scallopini and some cos lettuce. Not too bad from a tiny suburban garden, huh?

Now, don't ever think you haven't got room to grow your own food!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pickled Gherkins

One of my most familiar and memorable smells from childhood is pickling vinegar, boiling away on the stove, to be added to gherkins or pickled onions. That smell still sends me back, and maybe that is why I am such an avid preserver today...

Last year I grew my own gherkins, but this year I sacrificed the space for corn. Luckily, I was able to get a few kilos through a local market garden, which should keep this gherkin addict happy for a few months. I cut the large ones into rounds and the medium-sized ones into length-way quarters. If I had any small ones, I would preserve these whole. This is my mum's recipe, taken from an old DYC vinegar pamphlet. Made with malt vinegar, these gherkins are face-wrinkling-ly good, and put the insipid supermarket alternatives to shame!

Pickled Gherkins
1.5 kg gherkins, scrubbed to remove any prickles
1/2 cup salt
2 litres cold water
6 cups malt vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3 cloves garlic
6cm piece root ginger
3 small chillis
1 tsp peppercorns (I forgot to add these!! Opps..)
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice berries

Slice prepared gherkins into desired sizes.

 Dissolve salt in water and soak cleaned gherkins in brine solution for 24 hours.

Drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain and rinse again. Pack drained gherkins into clean jars.

Simmer vinegar, sugar, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices tied in a muslin bundle for 15 minutes.

Discard muslin bundle and pour hot vinegar over gherkins to cover completely. Seal with non-metallic (or coated) lids. Store for six weeks at least, before using.

When I grew my own, I had a drip-feed supply, as they ripened on the vines. To manage this, I boiled up the vinegar solution, and placed it in a large crock. As my gherkins ripened, I scrubbed and soaked them in brine overnight, and then progressively added them to the crock of vinegar as they were ready. I left the crock for a few months after I added the last batch.

This post was shared on:
Simple Lives Thursday
Real Food Wednesday

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tomato Challenge - Weigh Two

Weigh-in number two of the challenge! My plant is looking utterly revolting (I would post a photo but I'm actually too embarrassed), but still has a few more of these babies left on it yet! All of my tomatoes are ripening at the speed of light lately, this hot weather we have been having is great for them! Most of my tomatoes have been going into to-die-for tomato pasta sauce, but I will soon start freezing them for a late batch of red tomato chutney, and hopefully there will be a few greens one around for my famous and much sought after, green tomato chutney!

Monday, February 7, 2011

From My Kitchen - Sunday 6th February

Again, I'm a little bit slack getting this up this week. Only by a day this time, though! It was an incredible weekend in Christchurch, up to around 35 degrees on Sunday. After an overnight stay at our family bach, and an afternoon of intermittent swimming and reading by the pool, I was far too knackered to use the computer last night! I was feeling a bit uninspired this week, but a flick through an old, but in-season Taste gave me some great ideas for using up lots of the yummy produce I have growing in my garden at the moment. Here's this weeks planned eats:

- cheese scones
- curried roasted chickpeas
- sourdough (my first loaf in a long time!)

Sunday - BBQ! Sausages, corn on the cob, zucchini and scallopinis, potato salad and balsamic marinated tomatoes and basil leaves
Monday - free-range pork Thai green curry with fresh garden veges and rice
Tuesday - Vietnamese summer coleslaw: green beans, cabbage, carrot, red onion, mint, coriander and basil with a spicy lime dressing, topped with a hard boiled egg
Wednesday - tuna pasta salad with fresh corn, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and creamy pesto dressing
Thursday - homemade vege pizza (mushrooms, capsicum, roast pumpkin, tomatoes, zucchini, avocado, broccoli, pesto and chutney)

To Do
- soak rice
- make pesto
- make mayonnaise
- make pizza bases

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tomato Challenge

Finally, something to offer to the challenge! A wander around my garden this evening provided me with quite the bounty, and among them, the first of my rippened black krims! The plant is looking a bit sick, blight I think, but in the face I competition, I have decided to let it keep going. Despite it's illness, it has quite a few green tomatoes on it! Fingers crossed they are enough...

From My Kitchen - Sunday 30th January

Ok, ok so I've been a bit remiss posting my meal plan for the week. It made it onto paper but many things transpired to keep me busy and away from the bloggy for a few days! Anyway, better late than never, right :)
The garden is still full of delicious veges- we have zucchini, scallopinis, beans and tomatoes coming out our ears; still lots of salad greens, carrots, beetroot, and herbs, among other things. Oh, and my amazing peaches! I grabbed one off the tree to munch in the car on the way to work this morning- now that has to be the best feeling in the world! It doesn't get much fresher than that! Now, onto this weeks plan...

- loaf bread
- cheese scones
- popcorn (not really baking, but something I need to make to snack on when I am driving the hour home from work)
- roasted curry chickpeas (as above)

Sunday - out for dinner
Monday - vegetable quiche (or as it's called in our house, 'La-Quiche-A') with corn on the cob
Tuesday - vege tortilla stack (pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms, kale, chilli beans, tomatoes and cheese), green beans, corn on the cob and BBQed scallopini
Wednesday - Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls with free-range pork mince, avocado, capsicum, lettuce and fresh herbs filling, with satay dipping sauce
Thursday - chorizo, tomato and basil sauce on homemade pasta

To Do
- make wholemeal pastry
- made pasta dough
- soak chickpeas