Thursday, April 21, 2011


The Little Princess was introduced recently to the musical South Pacific by her grandmother.

She has been floating around the house singing There is Nothing Like a Dame, Bloody Mary and I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair.  Good housework music, and so so catching.  Can't get that song right out of my head.  I remember listening to Mum's copy of the vinyl record when I was about her age.  (Showing my age now...).  I think she would love My Fair Lady too, with Wouldn't it be Loverly, The Rain in Spain and the Ascot Gavotte and "in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire hurricanes hardly happen."  

Annette, who helps me in the garden, gave me these lovely nugget pumpkins.  I hollowed one out and put in some butter, a little olive oil, garlic, sage, pine nuts and salt and pepper, put the lid back on and cooked it in the oven for about an hour.  Delicious.

Cooking continues apace for the holidays and Easter.  Inspired by Zachary Pelaccio who I saw at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, I boned out a leg of lamb and put it in a flavoured brine for dinner on Tuesday night for some friends.   

That's what it looked like after being in the brine for 24 hours.  I put it on the barbeque as normal and it was great, just giving the lamb a different edge.  Sorry no pic (camera broken, phone in car when carving).  More on Easter to follow.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I love Fridays

OK, so this is meant to be about Friday and now it is Saturday, but I went into the pantry to show you what I've been up to, dropped my camera on the concrete floor and, disaster, it's broken.  I was so cross and so hope it can be fixed.  Bugger.  Anyway, I took this photo on my iPhone instead:

As you can see, I've not been idle.  I have also potted up 200 plants for the school fete, but more on that later.  All the jars on the bottom row are either crab apple, quince or apple and rosemary jelly. Above there is tomato sauce and relish, jams, marmalade, apple and quince sauce (from Plum Kitchen), pickled cumquats, plum sauce, preserved lemons.  Some we will eat, some will be for the fete.  Does anyone else get school/kinder fundraising fatigue?  Honestly, it never seems to end and I wish the government could organise its funding so that instead of a "multi purpose hall" which has taken two years to build and is still not ready we could actually have classrooms that were not second hand transportable buildings that are falling down.  Education revolution indeed.  But enough time on the soapbox for today.

Here's a better photo of the apple and rosemary jelly, which I made yesterday:

I tried some last weekend at a friend's house and found a recipe here.  That green thing in the background is the thin end of a massive zucchini.  It was enormous.  I made some soup.

Anyway, back to Fridays.  Friday afternoons actually, on the rare weekends when there are no comings or goings.  I love the day at the end of the week when the lawns have been mown and garden is tidy, the house is clean, when we have been flat out all week and the kids are home, when dinner can be whenever and when it is time for a large gin and tonic and a sleep in on Saturday.  The last couple of months have been insanely busy, even with one child at boarding school, and we've been constantly on the road.  Time to regroup for the next round of action.

I am so loving autumn.  We had lots of rain last week but the sun is finally out and it is so beautiful with that autumnal stillness pervading the afternoon air.  The trees have been very slow to turn this year, some have not even begun.  The Pin Oak is looking glorious.  I think my sweet peas may have been washed out.  I have started planting in the new veggie garden and also in the new bed below the house:

As it is school holidays I am squeezing as much labour out of the junior workforce as I can.  There is a lot whingeing but now that we have bought a farm buggy (or "rhino") they seem to be more enthusiastic.

The Jack Russell likes it too...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Getting a roasting

Here is a better photo of my lovely new speckled hens.  Luckily for them they won't be getting a roasting, but practically everything else in my kitchen is.  Lots of things that you traditionally would do on the stove top can be roasted in the oven, which adds such a lovely dimension to food.  Last week it was pears and quinces.  This week it is  tomato sauce.

There a masses of cherry tomatoes that are just starting to ripen.  I bring them in when they have just started to go orange and put them on the kitchen windowsill to ripen fully.

I found this recipe in Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Companion  and it is quite honestly the best tomato sauce recipe (that is pasta sauce as opposed to ketchup sauce) that I have ever tried.  You can use it for pasta, pizzas, on meatballs, in casseroles, pretty much anywhere that you might be tempted to tip in something from a jar.  When I last made it I froze it in varying sized plastic zip-lock bags.

OVEN BAKED TOMATO SAUCE (this is double the recipe from the book, but if you're going to the trouble, you might as well have lots)

1 kg tomatoes 
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
20 basil leaves, torn
s & p

Preheat oven to 150c.
Mix all ingredients in a big roasting pan.  Cover with foil and and bake for about 2 hours, or longer if you want it more reduced.

Put the sauce through the medium disc of a food mill (mouli).  This gets the seeds and skin out, so pureeing the mix won't do the job.

Season with s & p.  It will keep in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month or so (I have left it in there for longer with no ill effects). 

More roasting experiments to follow.  I need to practise, as apparently 80% of cooking on the AGA is done in the oven.