Monday, 20 February 2012

February's harvest

February is a big month in the garden and thanks to a surprise egg from Spazz which has been followed up thick and fast with a daily lay, I am confident I am going to meet my challenge (all homegrown items listed in green).

Kicking off last week I started with roast lamb with the first of the climbing beans steamed on the side.

On Sunday I cooked more apricot chicken (chillies and thyme) AND my famous baked cheesecake with fresh berries (and eggs)

Monday I created my own version of chicken larb gai  (Thai basil, chillies).

Tuesday was Valentine's Day with cheap and cheerful Vietnamese at Footscray's Sapa Hills.

Wednesday: Apricot chicken leftovers.

Thursday: Special fried rice- I use left over roast meat dice and an add with capsicum, peas, spring onions and fresh eggs.

Friday was the Great Debate at the Sustainable Living Festival and a quick bite at Flora in Flinders Street.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The perils of a guerilla garden

Behind my house there is a dead-end laneway. Abandoned and unloved- who could resist the temptation of taking over for a bit of guerrilla gardening. I have been growing plants there for a number of years now- I have been using old tyres (no one will steal them) but the jury is out if they are safe to use due to potential toxic leachate so I currently re-thinking this strategy. Over past summers I planted zucchini (with limited success), pumpkin (with no success- not enough morning sun?) beans, capsicums and  feral tomatoes. Very early in the spring I planted out surplus raspberry runners.Following my bumper seed saving and sowing I was left with some surplus capsicum which I chucked in the tyres. Its also worth noting that I had previously topped up the tyre garden with some newly composted chook poo -so I was secretly chuffed when the plants not only grew and survived but out- budded and fruited the plants actually growing in my garden. Sadly when I popped out last weekend - ALL of the dozen or so baby caps were gone- extra sadly was they weren't even ripe. I am convinced it wasn't kids or vandals (they would have just chucked them on the ground)- and I have had a sneaking suspicion its not the first time- tomatoes and raspberries have also gone but it was hard to pin the blame on a human with those- there's always birds and rats an an escaped guinea pig (who happily ran the gauntlet of the local cats and survived out there for a week or so before we reunited him with his owners)- but anyway the capsicums were well and truly picked and taken. I have a put a sign up suggesting that who ever it (I have my suspicions) might like to join the cause by helping to water an nurture the plants. There's still more baby caps so will be interesting to see how it goes!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Curry gets creative.

One of the things I feel truly blessed about, living here in the inner west of Melbourne, is being able to shop at the wonderful Queen Vic Market. As a rule I avoid buying fresh food (meat & veg) from either Coles of Woolies. It used to just be about the price, but now its more to do with ideology. Recent media coverage of unsustainable $1 per litre milk and 'the war of fruit and veg prices' makes me wonder what kind of an agricultural industry we could maintain in Australia if the big 2 totally monopolised the market. Following on from my weekend away- I was faced with the challenge of coming home to an empty fridge as its impractical to go to the market during the week. I needed to come up with some creative menu items. My starting point was various bits of left over steak in the freezer and some pre-cut potatoes left over from when my friend had been a bit ambitious around her menu planning during the weekend down at the Peninsula . Searching through my recipe book of Age mag cuttings and Curtis Stone 'feed your family' brochures (what was I saying about Coles) I came across a recipe 'Spicy Lamb and Sweet Potato Curry' (Neil Perry). This recipe had caught my eye as it uses fresh turmeric.(one of my purchases from my annual free loaders trip to the Melbourne Flower and garden festival.

My very first piece of home grown turmeric!

 I figured with a little imagination (sweet potatoes/ potatoes - no one will know the difference? beef/lamb?) a successful exploratory dig in the turmeric pot, home grown chillies and kaffir lime leaves from my friends tree (these store well in a tupperware container at the bottom of the fridge and/or in the freezer) and a trip to the new Asian supermarket up the road, I could pull it all together with the following result- fresh and delicious!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tomato salsa

Its been a while since I posted on the blog and this has largely been due to my lack of inspiration from the garden. A string of warm weather and 2 weeks absence from my weekly Vic Market shop have limited my creativity in the kitchen. As far as my challenge goes its been about as exciting as 'tomatoes' with the salad to accompany chops on the BBQ.  The highlight of this period was spending the long weekend with friends down at Somers on the Mornington Peninsula. The weather was calm and balmy, so on Friday night G took a net and torch down to the beach and caught a bag full of garfish. The fish were carefully cut down the centre, gutted and backbones removed, flattened with a mallet to break down the smaller bones and simply pan fried with salt and pepper. I served this with a simple tomato salsa; fresh tomatoes, a few slices of red onion, generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper, topped with home grown basil. Combined with the sweet, fresh flavours of the fish it was the perfect summer meal.