Tuesday, September 22, 2015

lately I have been …


Dreaming of adventurous road trips and stories and photos of cool old stuff and drinking tea from enamel mugs.



Enjoying new life in the garden.



Spending time with lovely neighbours – sipping, nibbling and singing tunes.



Oogling over Lew’s latest drawings.







Celebrating with sweet little superheroes.



Building new garden beds.




Adoring the late afternoon tranquility.



Treasuring the simple moments.



Stopping to smell the flowers picked for me by special people.



Sipping coffee with friends at quaint little spots.



Cuddling these two cuties.


And plenty of other things that make this life pretty darn lovely.


I hope you’ve been happy and healthy and enjoying life too.

Friday, September 11, 2015

in the garden … spring


Well it’s definitely the time of year for my garden to get a bit of a spruce up. There’s pruning to be done, weeds to be managed, lawns that have started to grow like mad, veggies to be tended and seedlings to be planted. I have accomplished hardly any of my winter jobs and now that it’s spring the list has multiplied. Of course. And as I’m typing this I’m thinking about how many times I’ve said this exact same thing. Seems to be the story of my life. A gardeners’ work is never finished…is that a saying? If not, it should be, don’t you reckon? Or is it just me?

Anyway, here’s a bit of an update on my garden this early in the spring. I’m mourning the loss of winter but I’m also savouring the new little buds and blossoms that are appearing on my  garden as the deciduous plants are beginning to awaken after their winter sleep.

The veggie garden with the gravel still in need of a de-weed.



My asparagus has started really multiplying this year. Can’t wait until we can finally get enough for dinner.


Like last year, my snow peas did extremely poorly. It’s only now that they have begun properly fruiting. I’m not sure what’s going on for them and why they are so late to fruit. Perhaps it’s something the soil is lacking?




The broad beans look like being a good, hearty crop this year though they too have been slow.



I’ve had lots of yummy broccoli this past winter and I’m still getting some now. I’ve become addicted to baking fresh broccoli with a little drizzle of olive oil and crumbled sea salt and eating the lot. It is sooooooo yummy! Have you ever baked it? Mmmmmm.




All winter I’ve been planting kale and I still can’t manage to get enough of it. I eat a lot of kale chips and so I need a constant supply so when the chooks decided to do a veggie garden raid and strip every last leaf of most of my kale I was not impressed. We’ve managed to keep them out now thanks to Pete and Lew adding some more chicken wire to the fences}. Let’s hope they stay out.




This section of the garden was a bit of a mess by the end of summer. The kikuyu had attacked and pretty much taken over. It was a tangle of berries and grass. Pete helped me weed it all and now I’m aiming to keep it weed free. Hopefully the berries will do better this year because of it.




I planted a walnut tree and a quince.The quince will hopefully bring a little bit of summer shelter to a corner of the veggie garden. I think it definitely needs a bit more shade and shelter.




The flowering quince have grown and have had a pretty display of apple blossom pink blooms. It’s such a pretty plant. I often wonder how the flowering quince hedge at the purple house is looking now. It must be pretty huge by now.




The rosemary’s are doing well too. The ones that lived that is. A couple of them just died practically over night. I’m wondering if it had anything to do with our dog peeing on them. They are absolutely smothered in brilliant blue flowers.




The purple leafed plums have been lovely. Such a pretty soft pink with hints of new purple leaf shoots. My plan was to continue the plums and silver birches around in a rectangular pattern between the house and studio. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. Maybe next winter?




The herbs have been pretty abundant all winter. Even the chives didn’t completely die back. I think having them kind of hidden amongst the bigger herbs like thyme and lime balm helped protect them.




An exciting little moment happened in my life a couple of weeks ago. My hose has been tamed! I can’t tell you how exciting that is to me. To be able to go out and water the garden without battling a tangle of hose and knots. Agh, that was so frustrating. And then the packing up of the hose every time I finished watering. Double agh! Anyway, Pete came up with the new system and let’s just say it’s made my life a lot easier in the watering department. He’s such a catch.



So that’s a bit of a garden update. Hopefully I’ll get a bit more time in it over the next few weeks. I’ll let you know how I go.


How about you? Have you been in your garden lately?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

around the table: croquets and an old mincer


Do you remember this post?


It was all about the sharing of food around a table, something that I’ve always loved to do.
So many of my most lovely childhood memories are of sitting around our table, sharing food and chatting about our day. I especially loved it when we’d have family and friends come over to join us. To me, there’s just something really special about preparing food and sharing it with others. It give me that cosy, comforting feeling and probably has something to do with the reason why I am definitely not a size 10.

Anyway, this post is all about the croquets I mentioned way back in February. It’s a bit of a ‘part 2’ kinda post as well as a re-introduction to my new feature which I’ve taken way too long to get up and going but…well, better late than never…? I’m calling it Around The Table but I’m thinking that the word table is really just a term to symbolise the space where the meal is shared. The table could well be a picnic rug on the grass or a log in the bush, pretty much wherever the food is shared and the story is told and smiles are found on the faces of the people I munch with.

So, Around The Table is all about the sharing of food with others and the stories that come about surrounding that food. It could be the meal itself and the recipe or it might be where that meal is eaten an the story behind the table or the room or it may even be the story of the china plates and the knives and forks used to eat the food from. Everyone has food stories and memories, cosy, lovely memories based around meal times or special recipes. I want to be apart of sharing those memories, not just mine but the people I share food with as well. I want to take the time to savour the moment and breathe in everything about the food and the people I’m sharing it with.

Oh, but before we get into the food sharing  stuff I wanted to take the opportunity to let you in on a little secret. You remember, Pete, the guy I introduced you to as my first Around The Table food story sharer back in February? Well, he’s also this lovely man.  {insert heart emoticon and big smiley face}

Oh, and one more little secret, Pete’s also going to be having a bit of a voice here every now and then. I felt like it was time to spice this little space up a bit and adding a male’s perspective will be a nice balance to my girly rantings and ramblings. Don’t you think? He’s got a lovely voice too, I might add, and he has some cool stuff to share – hunter-fishing-making-doing-testosteroney kinda stuff. He’s a feather and nester for sure - a boy feather and nester. It’s one of the many, many, many things I love about him.  It’ll be fun and I’m really excited about it and I can’t wait to introduce him properly …but hang on, where were we?
OK, back to this post and the croquets.

Here is the story of Pete, an old mincer and the deliciously moorish croquets.
Pete’s family are Dutch. He spent many childhood days hanging out with his grandparents, his mum’s parents. Croquets were a special part of those times. Pete often helped his Opa  make croquets in the old shed out the back of his grandparents boarding house. There was a basic kitchen set up inside it and this is where a lot of the messier kind of cooking took place. Much of the bulk cooking was done out in the shed as Pete’s grandparents were regularly cooking for the boarding house that they ran at the time. Here’s the original mincer that they used for preparing the croquets. Isn’t it a beauty?

Pete’s mum recently gave Pete this mincer to use in his own kitchen. It’s Pete’s Opa’s mincer and it holds so many beautiful, croquet making memories for Pete and his family. It’s the same one we used to make the croquets in this post and I spent a  lot of time taking photo after photo of it. It’s  definitely a gorgeous kitchen appliance and it is something that I know Pete will always treasure. I found it hard to stop taking photos…as you can imagine, I’m sure.

While Pete and his Opa were out in the shed making croquets Pete
would ask his Opa to teach him Dutch words. They were always words that he would never remember. Pete remembers big aluminium cooking pots and bone handled knives and forks stacked inside the shed kitchen. The process of making the croquets was like a production line, which you’ll see in a minute. Pete and his Opa always wore plain white aprons while they were cooking together.The croquets were always made for special times where the family would gather together.
I can just picture Pete and his Opa standing around the kitchen bench making and chatting, chatting and making as they whiled away their grandfather and grandson time together making croquets and bonding and creating beautiful childhood memories for Pete.

So, here we go with the croquet making process. It’s quite a process that’s for sure and I can totally see why these were only made  for special times.

The first thing  to get hold of is some meat. It doesn’t actually matter what sort of meat you use for croquets, it could be chicken or pork or beef but for our croquets Pete chose to use lamb that he had raised himself and recently had slaughtered. He especially chose to use this neck piece because during the depression times meat was scarce and nothing was wasted, everything on the slaughtered animal would have been used. The neck tends to be a tough old piece which people often  discard but if slow cooked it is a lovely tender meat with awesome flavour. As Pete’s Opa would’ve realised and as I found out during this process, there is actually quite a lot of meat on the neck and so it’s perfect for croquets. A bit of a process but well worth it.


Next, you need to grab a large saucepan and boil the neck for hours until it’s tender {falls off the bone}.


Once the neck is cooked you then need to let it cool and pop it in the fridge overnight for the fat to separate and make lard. The lard is then scraped off and used if you’d like to. The stock from the meat is kept for a bit later on in the process.


Once the neck is cooled you need to scrape the meat from the bone ready for mincing.


Chunks of the meat are then put through the mincer and minced.


Once the meat is all minced up, it needs to be spiced up a bit with herbs from the garden – nothing specific, just whatever you have in the garden at the time. We used oregano, thyme and chives. Then we added some paprika.


Next you make a rue out of left over stock {with added stock for extra flavour} with plain flour and butter  and then add the rue to the meat mixture.


When the rue and meat mixture has formed a pasty consistency let it cool. Once it’s cool then you’re ready for the messy bit.

croquet collage the messy bit

Form the meat mix into neat loggy shapes. Coat with flour, egg and breadcrumbs. To make a really yummy, crunchy croquet Pete double coats them back into the egg and crumbs.
Last but not least, deep fry the croquets until they are golden and crunchy on the outside.


The final and best part of this whole process is the eating, of course! Add some djohn mustard and then hoe in which is exactly what we did and it was really hard to stop eating them. They are so yummy – crunchy and golden on the outside but soft and tasty on the inside. Mmmmm.


I dare you to stop at 4.


Pete and I shared these croquets with his mum, around his table, which also happened to belong to his grandmother and then his mum and now, Pete. As they reminisced about Pete’s grandparents and the old mincer and the lovely times they shared making croquets with Pete’s Opa, we also enjoyed some more present memories which Pete has made part of his table {photos that he and his kids have taken under a sealed, clear table cover}.


See, this is what I love about sharing food around the table.

How about you? Have you got some foody memories that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them. Maybe you might like to share them here, that’d be fun.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

lately …



I’ve ben doing a bit of this and a bit of that lately. Enjoying the gorgeous wintery days we’ve been having. Admiring the sunny little faces of my daffies that have emerged from the sleepy, fairly bare garden beds. They are so happy aren’t they? They are the little ray of sunshine in a winter garden.



Two of my favourite guys picked me these daisies from the beach as we were scrambling back after a bout of fishing. One of the favourites convinced the other to pick me some flowers. There’s something about daisies that I just love. They are such a humble, simple little flower. They are the straight forward member of the garden, don’t you reckon? The no frills, take me as I am flower of the winter bed. They remind me of my mum and that makes me smile. Actually, there’s a daisy that is called Dorothea. Pretty cool since that’s my mum’s name {Thea, for short}. I’ve always loved thinking about that.




Mm mm…fish and chips at Eden wharf. Definitely a feast was had that day.




Lately we’ve had pancakes. A little visitor wanted to make heart shaped pancakes so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take 20 or so photos of a pancake on my new plate. As you do.




Lately we had a bonfire at Pete’s. Bonfires in winter are so lovely. There’s something therapeutic about watching the sparks of a bonfire dissipate into the night sky. The warmth is amazing and cooking potatoes in the foil tops off the whole experience.



Lately I’ve been lucky enough to be playing schools with a gorgeous little 11 year old. It’s been so much fun and I have to say it’s something that Lewi, as a child who has never been to school, has never wanted to play. This photo was taken during our ‘lunch break’. These are some of the students that go to Jess’ school. They are very quiet, well mannered students, as you can imagine, I’m sure.




Lately we’ve been to some lovely spots for our home schooling get togethers. This is a gorgeous spot on our lovely far south coast – Bournda Island. When the teenagers hang out on there it makes me think of Lord of the Flies. I’m not sure why. lol





So that’s us lately. How about you? What have you been up to? I’d love to know.