Sunday, March 31, 2013

What's Growing in the Garden...

After a long hot summer, with almost no rain whatsoever, critical water shortages and over 30 degree heat, I was pleased for a little respite in the weather.

Until it got hot again.

Then we saw the forecast for rain this weekend... hence... time to plant for autumn and early winter crops.  As I have never successfully kept the garden growing all winter, this is a challenge!

So all the beds were composted again and turned over.  The strawberries are all producing runners, so they just got weeded and a little tlc.  I planted some comfrey in their bed... but mainly as I got all confused... My grandfather always swore by having borage in a strawberry patch, except in my moment of panic at the garden store, I picked up comfrey instead.

The tomato patch is on it's last legs, and the chillies are doing great, so they just got a light weeding.  I hope to coax a few more cucumbers out of the vine, but we shall see, and the pumpkin and silver beet have been going gangbusters.

So what did I do?

Planted cabbages, remembering to leave heaps of space between, broccoli and perpetual spinach.  Also added lettuce, but we shall see the success rate there.  Added lavender to the silver beet patch, as it is supposed to help, and planted foxgloves in each bed as they are meant to aid all growing plants.  I also planted pale blue lobelias and pansies, though I actually forget what they are supposed to do.  Companion planting is genius, but other than remembering to plant basil with tomatoes, I always forget the benefits.

I planted spring onions and leeks, but I have never had much success with these in the past.  I hope for good things.  I also added more parsley and attempted to reign in the mint.

I wanted to plant radishes and alysum, but that was a failure as my cart was full.....

I still have a load of apples to harvest and preserve, and I made a wad of pasta sauce last Sunday... so even with a droughted summer, the garden hasn't been a total let down.

The weeded strawberries

Cabbages well spaced this year...

My tended patches

The pumpkin and silver beet patch

Leeks and Spring Onions in with the tomato patch

Garden from the berry patch

Still plenty of passionfruit
For those also interested in more gardening, here is superwoman Janet's blog - she is attempting to grow ALL her families vegetables this year. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

World's Fastest Lunch

One thing I really like about the ol' Easy Lunchbox is the speed of making lunch!

Okay, so I go all feral-masterchef on the weekends to prepare the bits-n-bobs, but that is just so I can watch Dr. Who before school. 

Here we have baked-bean mousetraps, with dried peaches and blueberries, and almonds... with yogurt, crackers and onion dip, an apple and a banana.... and then all piled into the cooler bag with a tiny esky cooler bottle to keep it all at a good temperature.

I love the banana guard- but I have lost my froot guards sadly.  I may have to replace them.  I also love the Sistema cutlery sets... even though Dan lost my knife and fork!

Wordless Wednesday: Pineapple in Samoa

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bacon and Mushroom Fettuccine

Those of you who have been following for a while will know that feeding the man here is.... Challenging! But since recovering from chemo and colon cancer, he is at least trying new foods, and even will eat pasta. Usually I make this without the bacon, but he skipped breakfast and begged for meat. It does however make enough for 2 large portions, so he ended up with leftovers for work. And as we all know, the mushrooms make everything taste "meatier" so there went another trick to lower his meat intake. I am a sneaky vegetarian after all! Ridiculously easy to make, tasty, and the ingredients are never far from the fridge.

1/2 onion, diced
4 mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 slices of bacon, diced
1 handful fettuccini
2 cloves of garlic
2 springs of rosemary
1 vegetable stock cube (optional)
Teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper


1. Boil water with salt. Snap fettuccine in half, and cook until nearly done... Still with a slight hardness in the middle. I like snapping it in half so it fits in a standard saucepan, and so that the man doesn't complain that it's too hard to get the pasta on the fork!

2. While pasta is boiling, heat a deep fry pan, add butter and diced onions. When onions are clear, add bacon to the pan.

3. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic and rosemary, then add to the pan. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add a vegetable stock cube if you wish at this point.

4. Drain pasta, adding a few tablespoons of the boiling water to the fry pan, and add the fettuccine to the fry pan.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed and the mushrooms are soft.

6. Serve and eat.

 Great for those in a rush meals. It takes less that 10 minutes from "I'm starving, what's for lunch?" to being on the plate. To change it up, sometimes I will use penne instead, and a little diced chicken instead of bacon, and a tiny tin of coconut milk. Throwing in a couple of diced green chillies then gives the whole dish a somewhat Thai flavour and the man thinks I have more exceptional cooking skills than I really do. ;) Sorry, there are no photos as the man ate it all before I could take a decent one (he was dying of starvation remember), and a plastic container for lunch just seemed less classy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: When we get fed

Sometimes people just surprise the class, and I am never one to shy away.  A fantastic way of ending a tough day in the classroom.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Apple Pies... in the apple!

So, I saw these apple pies cooked in whole apples on pinterest.  It was great.  So, I tried to make them myself.... and it was delicious!

Firstly, you will need apples.  I went with 4.  Because I am not patient.  (and I have 4 large ramekin dishes).  I chopped the tops off (well, 2 I cut the bottom off, but the smaller end works better).  Using a melon baller, hollow the apples, leaving between 5mm and 1cm of "wall" with the skin on.

Remove the pippy bits from the extracted apple.  Stew the fruit with cinnamon, nutmeg, a little ginger and brown sugar.  When soft, spoon the stewed fruit into the apple cases.  Place each apple in a ramekin dish.  This will stop them falling over, and be WAY easier to deal with if they explode!

Cover the tops with lattice work puff pastry.  I used bought stuff because... well... I am only as masterchef as buying pastry.  One day I will make it, but it seems really hard!  Press the edges of the pastry down onto the apple, about 1cm down from the top opening.  Using a blunt knife, trim any excess pastry from the sides just to make them pretty.

Bake at 150 degrees C.  For about 20 minutes or until the pastry is browned.  Don't leave it longer or the apples will explode.

I ate one straight from the oven with yogurt - YUMMO.  I even packed one in my lunch, and it was a great treat cold with lunch.

Pinterest Challenge

Monday, March 18, 2013

Individual Lasagne all set for Lunch

I've been a bad blogger of late.... in fact, since I had my technology stolen from my car.  However, my cooking and lunches have actually been better than... well.... usual.

2013 was MEANT to be the year of eating well.... but generally it has become the year of eating a lot.  And I am okay with that. :D

Here we have an easy-lunchbox with a joyous lunch.  Dried bananas and fresh grapes... with a cucumber and lettuce salad with.... INDIVIDUAL LASAGNE! 

Generally this was a genius idea and I shall do it again.  This week I have baked stuffed potatoes and the man has chicken and lentil pies (yeah, I've been hiding vegetables in his food again)... and I have a giant pot of pumpkin soup!  It's amazing.  Sundays have become ultimate preparation time.  I have become a veritable masterchef!

Watch out for this week as I need to make a Rainbow Cake for a work shout on Friday, and the potatoes will make a showing... as well as some awesome apple pie.  :D