Monday, March 23, 2020

Moving to wordpress

After being with blogpost for many, many years I have decided to move over to wordpress.  My!  what a learning curve!  Bear with me as I muddle along.  I want to be able to sell my beeswax wraps, and post on sustainable living. I have a lot of loyal followers so dont want to lose you.  Please make sure to click over to my new blog and follow me there.

These are unprecedented times and staying home and keeping social distancing  is a whole new thing to learn.  Lets still stay connected as much as we can.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The wet season in the tropics

After a bit of a dry spell in November and December, the wet season seems to have arrived in the Wet tropics.   100-200mls of rain every day means the ground is wet most of the time.  Hoses are wrapped up, and nature waters the plants.  Bugs love this weather, some plants love it, some do not.

I moved my orchids away from the back fence where I think they were in too much shade.  I love them like a green wall on either side of my mural.  They are easier to monitor and two of them are  getting ready to flower.! One branch on the yellow one has opened up! I have always been a "set and forget" type of orchid grower so am surprised and delighted when they flower.

The area where the lady slipper orchid vine had rather taken over was cut back and the flowers are certainly enjoying a bit more sunshine.

The wet season is not for the faint-hearted, and only the most robust veggies grow at this time of year.  I planted out a few more asparagus plants into what has now become the perennial bed.  Peppercorn at the back, that I keep on having to trim back, Sweet leaf, and then asparagus in the front.  I still have a few asparagus gr.own from seed, about 2 years old, and want to keep the most robust.  I was not sure whether to keep them in pots, or to plant them all out in the bed, and then remove the weaker plants.  I wont be harvesting them for at least another year, and right now they need to be re-potted.

I am dedicating one bed to ginger, and it is doing well.  In the back of this bed I planted a few cow peas, which are supposed to be great as a green manure crop, so will need to be cut back every now and then, when they will release nitrogen into the soil.  The worry about the wet season is that all this rain washes the nutrients out of the soil, so compost and live plants will keep back a certain amount.

I have a few luffa in the boxes alongside the fence - I love growing them and giving away little shower kits with home made luffa.  Maybe this is the year I will try to make my own soap!
The other bed at the back has long green beans, a volunteer pumpkin, and a volunteer eggplant.  I have started a few seedlings in the greenhouse, purple basil and thai eggplant.

We had a program at the supermarket where you could win little boxes with seeds, but of course this was while I was away.  I thought it was a great idea, instead of the little plastic toys that soon went into landfill.  I managed to get hold of some of the little boxes and have started them up in my little greenhouse.  We will see how they do.

I cut back a bit of overgrowth and since there were a few flowers attached I put them into a vase, outside the front door as there is no room inside!
 The sexy pink lady is still one of my favourite heleconias.

I hope you are enjoying your garden in this new year!

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. 


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