Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Documenting our Veggie Growing in a Photo Book

Our little veggie garden took off and we had lots of fresh things to eat from our two little veggie plots.  An amazing amount of cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (that was exciting growing those), lettuce, wombok, corriander, spring onions, thai basil although I must admit I never ended up cooking with it as my kids tastes were fairly basic at the time but I'm sure it would be okay to grow now they are older.  Nothing made me more happier than walking out to the garden getting some lettuce, capsicum, corriander, tomato and cucumber from the garden for my lunch.  A good friend of mine has a sandwich I made for her etched in her memory how wonderful it tasted and most of it came from the garden.  As I mentioned yesterday my life was highly stressful on so many fronts but collecting veggies from the garden made me happy on the inside and out and gave me a great sense of satisfaction and was great therapy for me.  I wanted to remember all the things we grew in our first season so I put together a little Photo Book of our harvests which gives me great pleasure looking through these photos.  I also remember I made quiche and salad for dinner one night and invited my sister around and everything on the plate came from our backyard minus the filo pastry but it was enormously satisfying and tasted amazing.  Here's some pictures of our little photo book which I did through Paper Coterie.

Above - I did a "mock" gardening magazine cover of our garden when I was trying to learn photoshop


The Beginning - How We Came to Grow Veggies

A number of years ago we were in Melbourne staying with the in-laws for holidays and as they have a wonderful veggie garden we would go downstairs and pick salad items for our lunch or dinner.  I thought it was amazing to grow such wonderful food in the back garden and dreamed about doing this ourselves.  We came back to Brisbane and I planted some carrots and we set up a sort of compost heap and neither of them were very successful so I didn't have any confidence at growing vegetables.  I also wanted to get chickens however my marriage was on the rocks and what was the point bringing chickens into that (ha....it was the hassle of are we moving shortly I couldn't handle looking after another thing on my already stressed plate).   Another year later we were back in Melbourne again for my father in law's 70th Birthday and I was still inspired by the lovely home grown potatoes and other foods that we were eating.  While I was there I read lots of gardening books and dreamed about having chickens so we could have fresh eggs.  I went to Borders (which is no longer in Australia anymore) to buy myself some books and I poured over more magazines while I was there.

Back again in Brisbane and sometime later and by this stage my marriage was well and truly over and it was extremely stressful for me on my own with 2 young kids still in the marital home (my dream home) which I knew would have to be sold so I never started the veggie patch because what was the point, we would be selling the house.  The kids and I continued to stay in the house however as you know there is a price to pay for everything and whilst we lived there our lives weren't really our own but that's where we were at.  Some more time passed and I thought I'm just going to do this and stop waiting for the right time.  I went right ahead and bought my veggie boxes from Bunnings, lots of dirt and compost and plants and we set them up and started growing veggies.  All of the other stuff was out of my control but I knew I wanted to start a veggie garden and I was sick of waiting and wondering where we would be living so in April 2010 we set up two little veggie plots.  James was 6 years old and Sienna was 4 by this stage.

It was on Easter Sunday afternoon that my sister and I put  the kids to work and help set up our very first garden that was going to be successful with the right soil.  I might mention 2 months prior to this I did a one day course with 2 of my friends on growing veggies which was held at the Sunshine Coast which was great.  The biggest thing I took away from that day was about the soil.  If you have good soil your veggies will thrive.  Think about a house that needs painting.  You can slap the paint over the top of the old paint and it won't look very good however if you take the time to sand the house first and then apply the paint it will be much better so it's the preparation that's important because once that is done the paint will go smoothly over the top.  The same applies to gardening, if your soil is good then the veggies grow themselves.  We learnt heaps of other things on the day which seemed all very daunting to me on the day but it all fell into place eventually.

We did a layered no dig garden and put down weed mat first and made sure we wore masks to protect ourselves from breathing in the compost.  In one of the bottom photos you can see the gloves the kids wore are too big for them and Sienna's were so big they were just floppy at the end which looked quite funny.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Home Made Pasta

Making pasta has always intimidated me as it just sounds kinda scary if you are not an Italian Mamma however last year we gave it a go for the first time and we didn't do too badly at all.  We have a little pasta machine from Kmart ($15) which just has 2 types of cut settings for fettuccine and spaghetti which is fine for our little family.

I don't make it very often because during the school week our afternoons are super busy with afternoon tea, play time, homework, baths, dinner, reading and bed however I would like to be more confident and make our own pasta more often than not.  The last time Sienna and I made it I didn't like it because it tasted too rubbery and I'm thinking it was just too thick.  Any tips anyone can give me on this would be greatly appreciated that's for sure.  I have been told that on Masterchef they make the pasta, toss it in flour and cook it straight away to avoid the lengthy drying process.  Would love some tips to get better pasta made at home from others who are making this on a regular basis.

Here's a few photos from our first pasta making experience taken last year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Anzac Day Recipes

We went on a family BBQ today to Bellbird Grove which is nice and close so this morning we got to making the following for our BBQ:-

  1. Anzac Biscuits
  2. Pita Triangles with Rosemary & Sea Salt (also known as Pita Chips)
  3. Lemonade with home grown lemons

First we got to work on the Anzac Biscuits made the mixture in the Thermomix with Sienna (7) pressing all the buttons on the machine.  Once the mixture was made it was divided into two bowls so that James (9) and Sienna (7) could roll some biscuits each into balls.  Here's some photos of the Anzac Biscuit process.

Next on our recipe list was to made the Pita Chips which required using my pizza cutter to cut the pita bread into triangles and pop them onto a tray.  Once they were on the tray I sprayed them with Olive Oil and James cut some rosemary from the veggie garden and took it off the stalk and then I used the pizza cutter again just to make the rosemary a little smaller and then he sprinkled that over both pita breads and then sprinkled them with Murray River Pink Salt and popped them in the oven for about 10 mins.  The oven had been on 160 degrees for the Anzac Biscuits so I just stood by the oven.  I always use the timer on my iphone when cooking and just put the timer on for 5 mins checked them, then 5 mins more and checked them until they were brown.  You have to stay next to the oven because they can go brown very quickly and depends if the oven was already hot or not.  There is no exact time, just stay by the oven and potter around your kitchen when making these.  They are AMAZING and they were all gone in 5 mins at our BBQ today.  This is the topping we use on our Focaccia Bread however I didn't have time this morning to worry about making the bread so the pita bread was perfect and very tasty.  So instead of chips or corn chips these are beautiful. The other topping I used to put on these years ago which is very savory is "Lemon Pepper" which you can buy in the dry herb section of the supermaket/grocer.  You will have to try these when you are looking for a healthy savory snack.  Here's the finished product straight from the oven.

And lastly but not least some good old fashioned homemade Lemonade using these home grown lemons.  We only bought our dwarf Lemon Tree in June last year and it has produced 7 lemons so we are pretty excited about it.  I don't have a picture of the lemonade however that didn't last long at the BBQ either as everyone loved it.  I only made one litre but it's very exciting making something so refreshing with lemons that you have home grown.  So that was our adventures in getting ready for our BBQ at Bellbird Grove.