In the Kitchen.....
I made a small batch of plum jam with plums from our tree - this is an "off year" - plums tend to crop heavily one year and rest on the alternative year - so there is a smaller amount. I've enjoyed eating them fresh, but now the rest needed using up, so I decided to make jam. Such a rich purple colour!
I used up the last of last year's butternut squash this week. Such a rich colour and sweet flavour! Like most squash, butternut store well if harvested at the right time and properly cured and stored. They taste best if stored for a couple of months before eating - they are a bit bland when newly harvested, but get sweeter over time.
In this meal, I baked the squash, and served it with green beans and venison schnitzel crumbed with a mix of cornflakes, ricies and rolled oats blitzed in the food processor. Meat is first dipped in rice flour, then egg substitute (or egg), then crumbs, before frying.
Here's my dinner another night - I had roasted a very small chicken in the oven, along with some potatoes straight out of the garden. I reheated some left over squash beside them, and tossed in some garlic straight out of the garden, and served with lightly cooked stringless runner beans and fresh Tumbling Tom tomatoes (both picked right before dinner), as well as some Curdito. Oh the flavours! Mmmm!
The rest of the chicken got served up cold in other meals with various goodies from the garden.
In the Garden...
The storm that blew through NZ this week didn't do any major damage here, fortunately. It did, however, part the leaves of my pumpkin/squash patch and give me a glimpse of treasures to come! The squash in the pic to the right is a Pink Banana Jumbo Squash; I grow them most years as they have a beautiful, sweet flesh - about the nicest squash I've ever tasted. Though in theory they can grow up to 20kg, I've never had them get bigger than 3-4 kg each. This one is waaay bigger and still growing! I'd estimate it at around 8kg or more already! And I can see a several others like it in the patch, as well as lots of (currently) smaller ones. Excited to see just how big any of them get!
Though one does wonder...if you cut up a 15kg+ squash to use some for tea....how does one fit the rest of it in the fridge?? ;-) A nice problem to have - I'll have to share them out, and roast up extra to freeze for soups etc.
The squash will turn pink as it matures.
Tuesday was duck dispatch day - we killed and processed 14 for the freezer. More to do in a few weeks when the younger ones have grown a bit more. These ducks reach adult size in 7 weeks!
I don't enjoy butchering, but I appreciate the good meat from animals that have had a good life, free ranging in the paddocks, playing in their ponds, and enjoying the sun, shade, bugs and food.
Moneymaker tomatoes are doing well in the greenhouse, as are the cinnamon and green basils growing below it. There is another Moneymaker on the other side of the greenhouse that isn't doing so well - perhaps because it's in a space where brassicas were (I added compost and food before planting). I wonder if toms and brassicas have a companion issue? Of course, they are both heavy feeders and one would not normally follow them after each other in the same patch for that reason.
Lemon Bergamot - first time I've successfully grown it, and it's looking stunning! Smells delicately of lemon, and the bees are loving it. I had a pic of a wool carder bee on a flower in last week's post, but thought I'd show you the wider angle this week - this is two plants. I had no idea they'd get so big! I grew them from seed someone gave me.
I started to clear out the carrot patch now I've collected as many seed heads as I want, and rough weed the area. I pulled out several bunches of mostly tiny spring onions I had planted around the patch (nearly a year ago!) that never really grew very big. I tidied them up and chopped them and bagged them before putting in the freezer. Handsful of spring onions are handy to add to a lot of dishes!
I've decided that rather than finish clearing that part of the garden, I'm going to put the chickens to work. Which means first putting up a temporary fence and building them a suitable shelter. The other plus will be that while they are out of their current henhouse and run, I can renovate the ancient henhouse which seriously needs it!
I normally have no trouble at all growing zucchini, so this year was more restrained than normal in my planting - putting in one plant then adding two more later. Wouldn't you know it - they've got the worst case of aphids I've ever seen! Normally I'd just remove plants like that - bad aphid infestations are normally indication of a stressed, unhealthy plant. But I really want more zucchini! So I've removed the worst leaves and sprayed the plants with a solution of silverbeet liquid with some added dishsoap, just to see if it works.
I've also planted some more seeds in the greenhouse - will raise a plant in there to keep me going as long as possible before it's too cold.
This is a pepino. A friend in Auckland sent me seeds 3 years ago...I had a plant which I kept going for two seasons, wintering in the greenhouse. Last year it had lots of lucious fruit, but then became pretty manky looking. So I took a cutting off some healthy stems, rooted them in water, and nurtured a couple of new plants through last winter. I potted one up in this pot, fed it some manure tea, and off it went! There are a couple of fruit on it already - with many more to come hopefully!
This week's spending...
On Tuesday night, after spending the morning butchering and then still needing to put in a full day's work in the office, on little sleep the night before, I decided to heck with it - we're having takeaways for dinner! So we had fish and chips - $13. I could have avoided this, but I simply didn't want to. And very occassionally, that's ok.
Balance forward: $92.30
This week's budget: $50.00
Handy Hints and Thrifty Tips....
Got a load of bloodstained clothes? Chuck them in the washer with a cup full of baking soda, and put through a normal, cool cycle (no detergent). Pull out and spot treat any stains you can still see, or give them a rub with Wonder soap. Chuck back in the machine, add detergent, and put through normal cycle. Easy peasy, and very effective!
Don't thow out any glass jars or bottles, or their lids - they can all be washed, and reused for preserving! Jars and bottles are precious - ask your neighbours for theirs, check out op shops etc, and build up a collection. Buying brand new preserving jars is expensive. I built up a collection of second hand "proper" ones through garage sales etc, and the rest of mine are reused salad dressing, pickle, jam and cordial containers.