Monday, 24 December 2012

Raspberry joy

In a past life I worked as a nanny in Hampshire, UK. One of the families I worked for had a sizeable estate which had a beautiful shade house which the gardener (Lumberjack) grew amazing raspberries. I do remember having a chat with him about how there weren't really that many berries. His response was that no-one watered them....  Hmm wish I had been more into horticulture at that time and paid closer attention to his words of wisdom.

I am now doing my best to grow raspberries in the temperate climes of Sydney and I think to myself I really must water my raspberries more. They are in for the first year since I divided them after being the neglect last year.

Here are 3 of my raspberry pots wrapped up and hiding from the birds
I have to say the crop while very tasty has been small. I get a small handful every few days which are lovely as you can see:

But I want more after all I have this recipe I have pinned on pinterest and I really want to make it. I just don't think it will be this year, perhaps next year?

Sweetsugarbeans 'raspberry and dark chocolate ganache tart'
Wishing you all a very berry Christmas. Hope your gardens are producing well.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

zucchini tuesday

Louise at gardenglut has been encouraging us all to learn to have a new found joy for zucchini. Now I do love a good zucchini and so I thought I would take on her challenge of growing them and cooking them.  I have posted a couple of times on the great use of the zucch which has been fun and yes I have a new one this week but first look I think I see flowers!!!

It is not enormous yet but it is not doing so bad
I am not sure if they are male or female flowers but they sure afre pretty
Here they are I can almost taste the zucchini.  We are no doubt going to be great friends and make a great many dishes together.

Anyway this week while at the markets I saw more zucchini flowers and I just couldn't walk past, not while they are still in season.  But I couldn't decide what to do with them....  So I stuffed them and crumbed them to pan fry (we don't have a deep fryer). I also thought I would make use of a small glut of tomatoes I had. I had a quick look at a couple of recipes and put this together.

Jen's stuffed zucchini flowers with quinoa and veg

* Mix some feta (I used Yarra Valley) with lemon rind, a touch of parmesan and seasoning.
* Remove the stamen inside the zucchin flower and stuff with the cheese mix.
* Crumb and leave in the fridge for a bit.
* Cook quinoa according to packet
* Pan fry a whole pile of veg.  I used Mushroom, Zucchini, Carrot, Broccoli, Spinach, Snow Peas and oven roasted tomatoes.

Lovely home grown toms
* Add the cooked Quinoa and a touch of soy and beetroot balsamic. You can add any flavours you like.
* Chop herbs for the top, I used coriander
* Have your lovely assistant pan fry the zucchini flowers and add to the top

* Eat

Quinoa and veg with crumbed zucchini flowers

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day- December

Here we are so close to the end of the year again.  Here in Sydney we have started summer and boy there have been some stinkers.  Humidity is pretty high and the temps have started to reach the 30 C (mid to late 80's in Fahrenheit) but then a cool change usually comes through which brings some relieve.

If you are keen to have a look at other gardens around the world check out maydreamsgardens. But first to my flowering garden this month.  I looked out at the garden and thought there didn't seem much in flower but I was greatly surprised. And this month I have quite a bit of blue:

November Lilly (flowering in December, I think it is confused) Lilium longiflorum

This is a statice I think Limonium 'Misty Blue' it is really pretty but I think it needs to be moved so that it is seen better

Agapanthus sp.

This carrot plant has gone to seed. I think it is quite beautiful. Daucus carota

Love NSW Christmas bush, Cerapetalum gummiferum. What do you think?

Solanum melongena one of the first eggplant flowers

Sticking to the solanunm family the capiscum 'mini mama' is doing well.  I look forward to seeing the fruit red up.

This blue salvia dispite being a little weedy looks very pretty

Nepeta racemosa, catmint

Kalanchoe is nearly finished but been quite fantastic

Thursday, 13 December 2012

the vegie patch

Like all good intents I meant to write about the slow changes in my vegetable patch and I even took photos last week. But time got away and now the plants are much bigger. Reguardless I am going to post them now.

As you know Mr R has built some very sexy vegie beds back in October and I have been working them so that I would soon be eating stuff I have grown....  Well my first problem was I used blood and bone to improve the soil and whilest at work Diba the ratbag dog decided to lick the bed clean and no doubt ate all the seeds in the process, sigh.

So after several planting of seeds I now finally have a few things growing

Does anyone else have holes all through their eggplants?

Finally the corn has started
Over on the pool fence

Maybe the ants help propagate the cucumbers. It is the first time I've grown them :0)

I got the Diggers bean variety of green, purple and yellow in
And all my berries are now covered so the birds don't get them.

The raspberry ghost stand

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Zucchini Tuesday on Wednesday

Yes I am late again. And the worst thing is I even made this recipe on Monday so I would be on time, opps.

This week I got a recipe out of Belinda Jefferies 'Mix & Bake'.  It is her Zucchini and Kumara Bread recipe. Again I have changed it a little because of what I had in my cupboard.

* Heat oven to 180 C. And butter 2 loaf tins.
* Whisk 260g plain flour, 200g wholemeal flour, 2 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt and a good handful of chia seeds (because they aregood for you) in a big bowl.
* Stir through 250g toasted walnuts and 300g dried cranberries
* Add 1 cup grated zucchini and a cup of grated sweet potato.  I think you could get away with just the zucchini only if you wanted
* In another bowl whisk 3 eggs, 110g castor sugar and 110g brown sugar
* Then add 125ml of rice bran oil, 125ml buttermilk and 2 tsp vanilla

* Mix the wet mix into the dry until just combined then divide into the 2 loaf tins
* Bake for about 50mins.  Check with a skewer that it comes out clean after stabbing the cake.

Two lovely loaves. We popped one in the frezzer for later

You can just make out the flecks of zucchini
The cake was nice. Quite moist. It tastes mostly of the cranberries, walnuts and spices and no so much of zucchini but it doesn't have to be the star everytime.... I think Belinda is right as she suggests it tastes better the next day, and the next.

Pop over to Garden Glut for more amazing zucchini recipes.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

zucchini tuesday

I don't know about you but I do spend quite a bit of time on pinterest.  It is just a little bit addictive and there are so many places it can take you. You can whip around the world and discover so many more exciting places than you ever thought possible. There are tips on how to make your life easier and more sustainable.  And the recipes are brilliant you might never need to go to the library again to search out delectable delights. This week I thought to coincide with Zucchini Tuesday that Louise is hosting here I would use one of my pins: Stuffed Zucchini.

* Top and tail a bunch of zucchini then slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out some of the seeds to make a boat (of course I forgot this part and the tomatoes slid all over the place).

I can only wish I could grow this fabulous garlic.  It was grown in Griffith and giving to me my a lovely client
* Chop garlic finely, add salt and pepper and a little dried chilli. Finally a drop or two of olive oil.
* Slice a pile of tiny tomatoes in half and lie them cut side up on the zucchini. Sprinkle a handfull of breadcrumb around the tomato.

Yay for the first glut of tomatoes
* Bake in the oven for about 40mins around 180-200C.
* After that top with mozzerella and put back into the oven to melt.

Top with cheese
* Once all melted it's ready.  I served mine with a green salad

I am loving the zucchini challenge. Thanks Louise

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The beauties out on the street

Well it has been a couple of weeks since I last photographed some of the beauties out in the the street.  And the last few weeks of spring have been quite fantastic. The trees have been spectacular from the jacaranda, Illawarra flame, Golden Elms, Robinia (although I would never want one in my garden, not with those suckering roots), Bauhinia, Angophora and the list goes on.

My favourite gum has got to be Angophora costata.  I love the way the greyish bark peels off to reveal the coral coloured trunk once a year (yes I know it's messy but the change is beautiful). And it's twisted limbs give it great shape and it flowers around the same time.  In the wild the tree grows over the top of huge sandstone boulders looking like they have melted, alas I have not got a photo of that.  It's a beauty tell me what you think.

Angophora costata (or Sydney red gum)  grow up to a height of 15-25m

The old bark peels off to highlight it's beautiful orangey new bark

The white flowers are on mass and bring feeds bees and birds for miles around

The capsules (seed holder) have distinct ribs which separate them from Eucalyptus sp.
While I was out bushwalking recently we came across another favourite that I have tried to grow but without any luck (perhaps I was too kind to it?). Actinotus helianthus or the flannel flower which is part of the Apiceae family (yes the carrot family). It grows on the sandstone heathland from Sydney up to Queensland in full sun.  All the stems, leaves and flowers are covered in downy grey hairs which help them reduce evaporation in such a hot environment.  A good friend of mine suggests they might make for good toilet paper if you were stuck as they really are felt like just like tissue, I think you might have to be a little desperate.

The number of flannel flowers tend to increase in spring after bushfires have been through

Not a great deal like the carrot family
Finally I was driving between clients and came across this beautiful example of Brachychiton acerifolis or Illawarra flame tree which I have to say must like drier conditions as they have been quite beautiful this season. Again they love the subtropical side of Australia and tend to drop all it's leaves before flowering around the same time as Jacaranda, Silky oaks (Grevillea robusta) and Calodendrum capense (cape chestnut from South Africa).  I actually have all 4 in my garden but I have to take the Grevillea out (Mr R is allergic to them and it is growing in a stupid place), the Illawarra flame refuses to be bothered to flower and the cape chestnut is just a baby.

The bouganvillea in the garden behind also amazing in colour
Anything flowering in your area that makes you squeal with delight?

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Zucchini day

Well I have done it, I brought a punnet of zucchini seedlings as I felt I needeed to try and get my own supply for the weekly updates.  I would have liked the green but the only seedlings I came across were these:

Don't you love the fact that the seed is still hanging onto the leaf
I am going to read up on how not to get powdery mildew and hope for the best.

So I made an amazing risotto with zucchini and I have to share it with you.  It was loosely based on 'The River Cafe Cook Book' Risotto con Fiori Zucchini. 

Here is how I did it.
* Cut stamen and spiky sepal out of the zucchini flower, and tear into strips. Then slice the zucchini, plus a few more quite fine.

* Heat about 1.2lt of vegie stock in a pot.
* In another pot melt about 75g butter, then add 2 finely diced onion (from the garden if you are luck) for about 15 min on low.
* Add 355g risotto rice (wanted to finish the container I had) and stir so all the grains are covered.
* Stir in 2 ladles of the stock until it is absorbed. Keep adding a couple of ladles at a time letting the rice absorb it all. After abour 20min add the zucchini slices with the last few ladles of stock. Then the zucchini flowers and a handful of spinach leaves that had cooked a little in the hot stock.

* Finally add another 40g butter, a good sploosh of white wine and a handful of finely sliced basil. I gave it all a stir and popped the lid on for a wee while.
* I toasted up some amazing Tasmanin walnut pieces a friend gave me (for extra protein) to put on the top.
* Take of lid and give it another quick stir and season. Dish up and I added a few chucks of goats cheese (because I did't have any parmesan) and topped with the walnuts.

The finishing result

Gosh it was really good, I will have to make this again.

Have a look at Louise's blog to see how other people are doing with their zucchini.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Strange things happening

Do you have a garden where you just simply wonder what it is the people before where up to when it comes to certain areas around your house or garden? I have an area that runs up the south side of the garden which never had anything growing much, I had the daleks (round compost bins) there for a while. And the Jerusalem artichokes grew there quite happily. But Mr R has been busy again building timber walls at the back of the garden bed to match the side path and to stop soil tipping into the neighbours place (which is at least a meter lower than our place.

New timber side panels just beyond the brickwork
I did have a brilliant passion-fruit climbing over the fence which was doing a fantastic job, however with all the digging of trenches etc it started to die off.  But I regress....  At the top, next to the carport I thought it needed a plant that was happy to grow in a fair amount of shade and finally make the side a little more attractive. I have a client that had a Syzygium 'Cascade' (Lilly Pilly) who had one in a pot that she didn't want anymore and it turns out I had a spot for it.

So I began digging a lovely big hole through soil that had been enriched by the compost over the past few years..... Until I hit plastic, the thick black stuff that had been spread across the entire side of the garden

A good spade depth down stupid and pointless plastic.  Why?
But then it got even stranger. I hit what seemed like a path heading from our house to the neighbours.

Mr R lifting one of the path blocks....

The concrete lifted 
Yes strange paving was sitting on brick piers with nothing underneath except sandstone rock.  Hmm I had at first thought it might be an old septic tank but it just couldn't have fit in the space.  So I decided that I would fill it all back in and plant. The depth of soil is a couple of meters and the roots can grow horizontally so I think it should be fine.

I am sure the Lillypilly will be happy in it's new home
So tell me have you found strange things around your garden that you just can't work out what the previous owners really had in mind?

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Zucchini love

The lovely Louise from gardenglut is growing zucchini. Well she has just moved home and while Mr Greenskin has survived the move, a little tired and crumpled but I think he will be fine.  She has come up with a challenge each Tuesday (yes I know it's Wednesday but I am always behind) all about the humble zucchini.  Now it could be photos of your own zuch or a recipe or perhaps even a poem (yes I made that up).

I have in the past tried to grow zucchini but I always have problems with powdery mildew and not wanting t spray I tend to pull them out.  So I opt for a recipe one that I have adapted from not quite Nigella's pie.  As I don't eat meat I thought what I could do is substitute cubes of zucchini, feta and asparagus then the egg.  Now this is usually where a photo should be but it seems the powers that be have deleted the photos from the camera to the computer, sigh.  They were really tasty and looked pretty nice.

A quick run down to making them....

* chop zucchini into cubes, fry with garlic, salt and a little chilli
* roll sliced bread flat and cut out a round to fit into a muffin tin. Butter the round on both sides and pop one into each muffin hole
* Now pop a little zucchini and crumbled feta then an egg and pop a spear of 2 of asparagus into each bread case.
* bake in the oven at around 180 for 20 or so minutes.

Sorry for the no photos perhaps I will do them again and post up some.  Checkout Louise's blog for more zucchini love

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bloggers Bloom Day, November

I love getting to show off my garden and thanks to maydreamsgardens we can not only show off what is in our garden but see what is going on in other peoples garden on the same day.

It seems November is a bit of a strange month. Not a lot about or it is just the start of a number of things that are just getting going like the agapanthus (which I didn't take photos of as there are a lot of heads and only one flower, but then I am sure you all know what they look like). I also have a few things I have 'borrowed' from other gardens that I am not sure what it is. Perhaps you could help me? Lets get going.

The Jacaranda is blooming away like a mad thing. Shame the camera doesn't quite capture the correct colour

Begonia from a client

This is one of the smaller breeds of Hydrangea only meant to get to 60cm.  I just wish it would be blue

This foxglove was amazing, it is on it's last legs now

Strawberries are going great.  The snails and I are having a great feed. Mr R asked why we don't get so many strawberries. She who waters gets to eat :o)

Another 'borrowed' feathery shrub. 

This Sedum is confused between spring and autumn

Limonium or statice flower, these  guys are tough and add a bit of colour to a sandy soil

I think I can remember putting these bulbs in but not what they are called.  They are hiding under my crepe myrtle ground cover 

Ceratopetalum gummiferum or NSW Christmas bush. My Nana had a massive one of these I just have to find the right spot to make him happy in the garden
Well that is it for this month in my patch this month, I can't believe it will be December already next time we have a bloom day. Talk soon.