Friday, December 30, 2011

New Chooks!

Earlier this month I brought four new chooks home to add to the three I already have, it was always my plan to have more than three, it just took me a while to track down the type that I wanted locally. They're settling in well although the originals haven't made them particularly welcome! Once they start laying I should have an abundance of eggs.

I've been using a lot of egg whites lately making desserts for the Festive Season Eatathon! and I have a new favorite way of using the yolks.

Creme Brulee! not very healthy I admit, but really delicious!  Keep those eggs coming girls!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Peach Chutney

When we moved house two years ago, one of the hardest things to leave behind was all the fruit trees we had planted over the fifteen years that we had been in that house. The one tree that we dug up and brought with us was an Anzac Peach that had only  been in the ground for about a six months, it was a bit of a risk moving it in the middle of Summer but we potted it in an old plastic rubbish bin, looked after it as best we could and planted it in the chook yard once the worst of the hot weather was over.

Last Summer it had half a dozen lovely peaches which we grudgingly shared with the birds, this year it has had about sixty beautiful looking Peaches, sadly the weather hasn't been great for them and they haven't really ripened well and aren't all that sweet, hasn't stopped the birds having a go though!

Yesterday I picked everything off the tree that wasn't rock hard and made Peach Chutney, I peeled the peaches and roughly chopped them.

In a non-stick pan I gently fried a chopped Red Onion, four cloves of Garlic and a couple of tablespoons of finely grated fresh Ginger, once that was soft I added it to a large pot with the peaches.

I then added a cup and a half of Raw Sugar, a cup of Malt Vinegar and a cup of Sultanas, I simmered this for about three very fragrant hours!

I put the Chutney into sterilised jars, I used the funnel on the left which cost me zero, the one on the right which cost a fair bit only works for very big jars!

Looking forward to trying this!

Monday, December 26, 2011

with a little help from my friends!...

I always think that being in charge of our family Christmas Day tea is a bit of a tough gig! Everyone is usually still feeling half full from a huge lunch and often tired from the busy lead up to Christmas Day. Trying to come up with a menu that's not too heavy, can mostly be done ahead and will spark peoples jaded appetites can be a challenge. This year though I think I nailed it with some help from a few "friends"!

We had Mini Cranberry and Turkey Meatloaves courtesy of Not Quite Nigella , I made ours with Pork Mince and they were terrific! Very therapeutic sitting down for an hour fashioning Holly Leaves out of Kaffir Lime leaves I must say!

We also had Lime, Paprika & Honey Glazed Chicken, a favorite recipe from Bill Granger"s Everyday book, this is my all time favorite "people coming for dinner" recipe, it never fails to impress, is really easy and can mostly be done ahead.

We had a Ricotta & Herb Flan for the Meat-Free, Wheat-free, contingent.

My Mum brought a gorgeous Potato Salad and a Pumpkin & Baby Spinach Salad that is our new favorite this Summer...

and just in case we weren't all completely full from the Berry Pavlova Wreath and Plum Pudding that we stuffed ourselves with at lunchtime, we had these cute Puddings made from Chocolate Royal Bikkies. I used to send these along to class Christmas parties when my children were at school and we all still love them!

Last, but by no means least, I made an amazingly yummy Donna Hay White Chocolate Christmas Cake, the recipe was in the Donna Hay bit in the Sunday Magazine a week ago, it really appealed to me because it was full of Dried Cranberries & Pistachios, My favorites!

Thank-you Lorraine (NQN), Bill, Donna and of course Mum! We did it!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The First Cucumber!

OK so it's not the most beautiful Cucumber I've ever seen either but it's the first one for the season so it was a very welcome sight in the garden!

It grew quietly under the leaves where I didn't even see it until it was ready to pick!

What a lovely surprise!....

...and what a lovely addition to an otherwise ordinary lunch!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

White Chocolate Rocky Road

Christmas is the only time I make Rocky Road, I kid myself that I make it for gifts, in fact quite a lot of it ends up being gifted straight into my mouth! The problem is that the version I make is chock full of fabulous things that I love but manage to resist for the rest of the year!
I start by lining a big baking dish with foil and then sprinkle in roughly chopped Pistachios, Marshmallows, Turkish Delight, Macadamias and Dried Cranberries.

I melt a couple of blocks of White Chocolate and drizzle it all over top of the ingredients in the tray.
This goes into the fridge to set and once the chocolate hardens it gets chopped into large chunks. This year I'm putting them into cellophane bags with cute mini pegs with red stars on top.

Hope all your Christmas dreams come true! xxx

This post is part of the Sweet Adventures Festive Favorites Blog Hop...

Sweet Adventures is a monthly, dessert-themed blog hop organised by JJ from 84th & 3rd, KC from The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader, Jennifer from Delicieux, Nic from Dining with a Stud, and Christina from The Hungry Australian.

Welcome to the Festive Favourites Blog Hop! Click on the links below to see all the amazing festive desserts created by other food bloggers from around the world.

For detailed instructions on how to join the blog hop and submit your festive dessert link, check out the official Festive Favourites post by this month’s host, JJ from 84th & 3rd.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meat-free, Wheat-free Monday, Ratatouille, Potatoes & Mushrooms...

Everyone in my family either loves mushrooms or hates them! I love them but I try not to inflict them on people who dont, these grilled Mushrooms with pesto & feta are a great side dish to have with something else, the mushroom haters can then just give them a miss and have more of the "something else", in this case Jacket Potatoes with Ratatouille.

I peeled some large flat Mushrooms and grilled them stem side down until they looked cooked on that side, turned them over, spread them with pesto and sprinkled them with grated feta. I turned the heat down and continued to grill them until they were soft all the way through.

I had made a pot of Ratatouille on Sunday, I always think it tastes better the next day!

Potatoes cooked in their jackets in the microwave, topped with the Ratatouille, sprinkled with a bit of cheddar, a Mushroom or two for the Fungi Fans, everyone was happy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Food Swap...

Saturday morning I went to the last Harvest Basket food swap for the year, there were more people there than there has been for a while, it was lovely to chat with other keen food growers. The range of produce which people brought to swap was gorgeous as usual!

I took...

1 jar of Curried Cauliflower and Carrot Pickle

4 jars of Beetroot and Orange Relish.

2 Bunches of Hydrangeas...

I brought home...

1 piece of Pumpkin

4 Artichokes


Chervil seedlings

2 Garlic heads


2 Zucchini

It's been a great year for the food swap, I'm looking forward to the January swap already!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Beetroot & Orange Relish

There's not many things I'd rather do than spend a day at home playing in the kitchen and the garden, today I had the luxury of a day off work, the weather was beautiful so I headed outside to do some work on some paths I've been making around the vegetable beds in the front yard. Eventually I hope to have just garden beds and mulch paths, no grass, it should be much easier to keep looking neat. It didn't take long for me to get hot and bothered working outside so I headed to the kitchen!

The fruit bowl seemed to be full of things that needed to be used, the fruit shop near where I work had bananas on sale for $1.99 a kilo last week and there's a few left which are starting to look a bit unappetising, just right for Banana, Blueberry Muffins though! The muffins also used some sour cream which was left over from another recipe so that was good.

Next I made some Beetroot & Orange relish, I've made it a couple of times before and  I always forget how messy it is to make until I've started! I cut the ends off about a kilo of Beetroot and grated them in the food processor, put them in a large pot and added the finely grated zest of 4 Oranges.

Next into the pot were 3 crushed cloves of Garlic, 600gm Sugar, a teaspoon of salt and 2 cups of Malt Vinegar. I gave it all a good stir and simmered it for about 2 hours.

All that was left to do was to pour it into sterilised jars and label it.

Can't wait to eat it!