Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Making mango chutney with a glut of tropical fruit

Along with the extreme heat comes tropical fruit season!  The roads are just littered with fallen mangoes and the smell is quite heady!!!  The shops sell the stringless bowen mangoes but most people use the stringy mangoes for chutney.  You know, the ones that have strings that stick between your teeth as you suck the juicy flesh off the pit.  :)  A real summer treat, especially when they are ice cold!
My friend gave me a huge bag of  green mangoes, and I have made two batches of chutney, and then have lots of little containers of mango slices in the freezer.  Whizzed up with greek yoghurt, this makes the Indian drink  Mango Lassi.  Oh yummmm.
I researched my recipes and decided on a carribean mango chutney, adapted from a book I picked up at the markets.  Here is my version of the recipe:


8 under ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
1Tbs salt
250g mixed fried fruit
2 Tbs chili flakes, or to taste
375g raw sugar
750ml malt vinegar
60g grated fresh ginger root

Mix the salt into the diced mangoes and leave to sit for 2 hours.  Do not drain, and add remaining ingredients.  Bring to the boil stirring until sugar is dissolved, and then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until thick.  The mangoes should be tender but there should still be recognizable chunks.  spoon into hot sterilized jars, and seal immediately.
I gave most of the first batch away so decided I better make another batch!  It is so good with curries, and also on a cheese and chutney sandwich.

Another friend just dropped off a big bag of lychees, which we will just eat straight out of the bag, and some will go into my kombucha. 
We are having such tremendously hot dry days and the best thing is to get out and enjoy some of the lovely shady walks on offer.   I love to walk along the shore-front through these curtain fig trees.


Or on the shady beach in the late afternoon!

What are you doing to keep cool?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Sourdough Adventures!

When I came back from overseas, one of my friends gave me an old sourdough starter.  Old is good when it comes to sourdough, and this one had been handed around for at least 10 years.  I had heard and read about sourdough over the years, but when I started to make the first loaf I did feel a little out of my depth.  As I started to knead it I added more flour until the dough began to feel more like a regular dough.  I baked that loaf in my cast iron pan with the lid.  The taste was good and sour, it had a nice crust, but it was heavy.


Last week I got a book out of the library called "sourdough" by Yoke Mardewi, and now this is a baker who knows her dough!  It is an amazing book that goes into great detail on every step of the way, and each recipe is so detailed, leaving nothing to chance.  I often make pita bread and have it ready in the freezer for a fast meal, so that was the first recipe I chose.  Then I decided to make hot cross buns  mainly because I really don't like the idea of throwing away excess starter.  I used half of the hot cross bun recipe to make a loaf of fruit bread. - that was cooked in a separate loaf pan, and by the time I took this photo I had shared the rest of the buns with my neighbours.


It was a whole day, starting with the night before to feed my starter!  I flipped back and forth from the kitchen to my other chores,  continually checking the clock and my recipes.  I was really very impressed with both recipes, and have  a few more earmarked for next weeks baking day. I see that Yoke has a website wildsourdough So I will be keeping that in my feed for more ideas and help.


 Have you tried sourdough?

Monday, November 11, 2019

Bunches of carrots!

I have been MIA for a while now, a lot has been happening.  I suddenly found myself unemployed because of the company downsizing.  I am 18 month off of official retirement age, so am taking things slowly as I look for some part time work.   The first thing I did was to go overseas and spend a month with each of my daughters, one in Europe and one in the US.  Dear hubby stayed home and held down the fort.  He did a wonderful job and when I arrived home I found a bumper crop of carrots in the veggie patch just waiting to be harvested.  they are called red cored chantenay, and I will definitely grow them again - I love the short stubby shape.  Considering I have just been in France, the name also sounds a little exotic!
 My veggie patch did really well, with flowers intermingled with the veggies.  The only pests are the little green grasshoppers.  Surprisingly my kale did very well, and i am still enjoying it, even though the weather has turned hot and humid and here I thought it would only grow in cold weather!
I wanted to do something special with my home grown organic carrots, and so I made ginger carrot ferment.  Ohmigosh it is very tasty.  I had it with some lamb curry.  Of course I also made some carrot cake!

As I mentioned before the weather is very hot at the moment, and the garden definitely needs mulch.  Once before I had purchased hay mulch which is much cheaper and coarser than sugar can mulch, and lasts longer.  I also believe in using something different occasionally as I think they all add different values to the soil. 



I used three bales, and that did the entire garden!

I hope the fires die down soon, it must be horrific to be in those areas,  My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.  

Monday, May 27, 2019

Meal prep - lots of beans

This Sunday when I did my meal prep it was all about beans.  I had seen a recipe for a black bean burger on minimalist baker - love her recipes :)  I used ground almonds instead of the walnuts, and added two eggs, and left out the sugar and barbeque sauce.  I processed the mixture in the food processor , and they held together very well.  As you can see the mixture was still a little chunky.


I cooked them in a skillet, and popped them straight into the freezer for lunches or dinners during the week.
I also had boiled a big pot of chickpeas, so made some green pea curried hummus.  Something different to your normal hummus for sure!  Grated ginger, lime peel and juice, green curry paste and tahini were added along with the chickpeas and green peas. 


Next was falafel,  and our local supermarket puts out a monthly magazine. I regularly try their recipes.  I often find regular falafel a bit dry, and loved the cauliflower addition.  This recipe is definitely a keeper. cauliflower falafel.   I sauteed them a bit first, and then finished them off in the oven.   I doubled the recipe and froze them in packs of five which will be perfect to add to a salad for my lunch as I did today.  The sauce I used was a tahini sauce I made last week.



I also ended up with about a cup of extra chickpeas which are frozen.  I soak my beans until they begin to sprout, changing the water often as this makes them much more digestible.
A few batches of muffins, one for church and one to keep for the munchies, and now I am all set for a couple of weeks.  I mostly do a big batch of cooking on the weekend, but then don't eat them all up during that week, so end up with lots of variety of goodies to add to salads or roast veggies during the week.
Do you cook just for the following week, or to fill up the freezer? 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The most wonderful time of the year

This really is the most wonderful time of the year in the tropics.  The weather cools down, and we are still having the occasional rain which keeps the soil damp.  In the side area we now have a roll out awning, which is great as it keeps the open feeling of the garden, but still gives us protection from the rain.

I spent some time clearing out the pathway and generally tidying up.  Tropical plants can take over and need to be tamed!


The area that you look out on against the fence was looking a bit sparse and uninteresting, so I removed one of the elkhorn ferns from the tree and attached it to a frame on the fence.  The fan palms are growing too big as they used to block the fence, but the leaves are now all above the fence....  I hung a few bromeliads on the trunk of one of them, and planted out a few cordelines.  I also strung some solar lights along the fence so it looks pretty looking out onto the garden at night.


Out in the back I am loving the raised beds, even when a bandicoot gets into the yard, they cannot jump up into the beds and destroy all my work!  win!win!
I have some zucchini flowers, cucumber flowers, eggplant flowers!  In the meantime, until the veggies start producing I am growing microgreens in my little greenhouse.  Fenugreek are my new favourite.



This butterfly bush is covered with flowers and makes me happy!  


Next weekend I am planning on making an insect motel - has anyone made one?  I would like to attract solitary bees so that I get lots of pollination. 



Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Gentle art of domesticity - repetition



I really enjoyed this weeks reflection on repetitions within the domestic life,, but I cant say I will ever be a big fan of the repetition of housework!  I tend to give the house a good clean over the weekend as I work during the week, and often times when the weekend is busy and I only get the cleaning done towards the end of the weekend I feel as though I am missing out on enjoying the clean house!  I am lucky that my hubby who stays home does all the laundry. 
Cooking can be repetitive, but I find I am so often trying new recipes out that there is not much repetition there. 
She highlighted three paintings, all of women knitting socks.  Now that is one thing I do enjoy the repetition of!  Knitting!  I love to have something next to my chair that I can pick up in the evenings and work on.  Very often it is something that requires a bit of concentration, as right now I am working on a scarf for my daughter who lives in Europe.  There is no way that I will ever need a scarf in the Far North Tropics!  Last month I received my birthday voucher from Lincraft and wandered in to see what I could spend my 10.00 on.  There was a pattern in the back of the better homes and gardens magazine that I liked the look of.  I dont know if it is just me, but I can never find the yarn that they recommend, and I really wanted a variegated yarn, but there was none in the thinner yarn, so I settled on a beige.  It is fifty percent angora and was originally 9.00 a ball, marked down to 3.00 a ball.  Win/win!  I like the way it is turning out, and the pattern is repetitive enough that I don't have to concentrate too hard, although I do have to count....

With my lack of concentration I might have made a few mistakes, but in the whole scheme of things hopefully they don't stand out.  Therapeutic and blissfully zoning out is exactly the way I would describe my evening knitting. 
Do you knit in the evenings?



Monday, April 8, 2019

The moon waits for no one

I have been wanting to try planting according to the moon for ages, and carefully marked on my calendar that the first weekend in April was the prime time to plant root vegetables.  The time of the waning moon, when the gravitational forces pull the roots down into the earth., supposedly giving them a good start in life.
Then I threw my back out -a common side effect of gardening!
I remembered the seed tape I had made years ago, and wondered if that would not be the answer to my dilemma.  Nothing is actually better for my well-being than sorting through my seeds and imagining huge harvests. I sat on the couch and laid the strips  out onto a wooden board.  Spraying with a seaweed spray as I went along to give those little seeds a taste of things to come.  I have pretty tight spacing, and stagger the seeds to get more in.  I start picking leaves when they are still small, so they can be pretty close together.
 I already have tatsoi going down the one side of the bed, and beetroot down the other, so the strips did not have to be very long.  I pulled away the mulch, and sitting on my little step stool, gently laid my seed tape into the furrows.  I have carrot, turnip, and bunching onion, with silverbeet and lettuce in between, so not only root crops. The soaker hose meanders between the rows  just under the mulch.
 I like to use brunnings seed raising mix which comes in a compressed block.  I sprinkle the dry mix over the seeds, and then wet it down afterwards, and find that I can get a nice even layer that way. We are still having some heavy rain, and then when the sun does come out it can be pretty intense, so I suspended a piece of shade cloth over the bed.  This was a piece I cut from a large shadecloth from the pool area that was being replaced.
 I will see how it goes in the wind, and if it allows enough light in once the seedlings start to poke their heads up.  I do have lots of tiny green grasshoppers around so sprayed a little garlic chili spray onto my basil to deter them.  The cucumber plants that came up from seed a couple of weeks ago have been decimated!
I have a few seedlings in my greenhouse to plant out once we reach the next phase of the moon, when you plant plants that tend to grow up.  That will be in the waxing moon phase.
do you plant according to the phases of the moon?  seeds or seedlings?

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