Farm Update

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I’ve been finding it hard to find time to write over the past few months, and the simple explanation for that is that I have been working more hours. My job had got to the point where I just couldn’t keep up with everything I had to do in the time I had available, and since so much of what I do is time-critical I spent most of my time feeling like I was chasing my tail. So I put my hand up to do more hours.

This has meant that while work is less stressful because I actually have time to get everything done on time, I have less time at home and I have to go to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier. The rest of the family have had to learn to do more around the house and since I no longer have time to do everything I am also no longer the default person to look after everyone else. We look after each other, we all pitch in, and we all benefit from mum bringing home a bit more money each month.

I took a break from soapmaking and writing just to let everything settle down. Like anything else, it comes down to priorities. You make time for the things that make the most noise. But you also need to make time for the things that you get the most value from, and value can definitely include enjoyment.

When I found myself home alone on Sunday with the sun shining and the birds singing I was almost overwhelmed with excitement and an urge to get as much done as possible while I could. I popped out at 9am to do the milking and ended up having ‘breakfast’ at about 2pm.

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Hanging out with my farmyard friends

I sent Maia and her kids out into the world for the first time. Those babies got to feel the sun on their backs and the dirt under their feet, as well as meeting the rest of their family. This was especially sweet since little Gaia had been treated for sepsis two days earlier, and the vet had warned me that he did not expect her to live.

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Maia and her kids, Gaia and Reuben

Moving in and out of the house and between the shed and the garden, I got the milking done, cleaned the goat pens and delivered some straw to the garden beds. I did some weeding, thinned the silverbeet, cleared the dead tomato plants from the small greenhouse, baked the sourdough, did four loads of washing, replanted some strawberries, pruned the apple trees and cleaned out the cat litter. It was glorious.

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Yay! Sourdough. My lunch for the next fortnight.

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The food garden, with the berry nets up to allow for weeding, pruning and planting the strawberries.

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None of my winter vegetables sprouted last year, so I cheated this year and used the greenhouse. So far so good, cauliflower, beetroot, cabbage, broccoli and lettuce.

I sat down for a bit around 3pm and ventured out again an hour later when Leo the Italian Greyhound started complaining that it was getting cold and he wanted his coat back on. This seemed like a good time to go around closing up the windows and the big greenhouse door, and put the blanket back on Stella the old Thoroughbred who also got to get her kit off for the day. I was wondering what feat of culinary genius to make for dinner when I found that old Rianna, my boss doe, was about to have her kids.

I popped her in the kidding pen I had prepared earlier and set off to get the furthest away tasks done, which meant wandering down the paddock carrying a Weatherbeeta horse rug trying to find two full-size Thoroughbreds who seemed to have disappeared into the 10 acre paddock. I found them in the back corner behind the dam wall, re-clothed old Stella, took some pictures of the impressively full dams, and headed casually back up to the shed.

Where I found this…

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First kid out, nothing to do but keep on with my to-do list and check on Rianna occasionally. I got the goatlings and bucks in the small paddocks fed, put the poultry away, fed the cat and put out the call to Matt to pick up some dinner on his way home from work.

We ended up with a small but nice set of twins from Rianna. They were a little slow to get going, the buck was frustratingly resistant to feeding from his mother, but they are doing well now and feeding themselves.

After such a long dry Autumn, the recent rain has been very welcome, but it is much wetter here than we have seen it previously. The main dam is at its highest level since we moved in after almost drying up completely a few months ago. The interesting bit of earthworks described by the real estate agent as a second dam actually looks like how I imagine the previous owner had intended the water trap on his golf course to look.

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The main dam

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The back dam, aka hole 3

Days like this give me the enthusiasm to press on through the cold and wet, to make plans for the spring and start thinking about what to plant where. I’m hoping to do a lot more seed propagation this year, rather than buying seedlings, so I’ve got some equipment to use the small greenhouse to start seeds. I’ve started mulching and weeding the vegetable garden and ordered some seeds for the spring and summer crops. I hope to get some peas and beans planted next weekend, and I’m thinking about where I might be able to plant some hazelnut trees.

The daffodils and wattle trees are blooming, the geese are getting aggressive, the ducks are laying and the pregnant does are expanding alarmingly. Spring is on its slow march toward us and will be here before we know it.

Easter 2016… and an Update on my Resolutions.

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Easter is always a big weekend on the farm and in the kitchen, and this year was no exception.

It began on Thursday evening, when I retrieved the frame of the Christmas turkey from the freezer and set it to boil down into stock. I also got the first cheese of the weekend, an 8lt Gouda, made and in the press.

Friday was a whirlwind of pumpkin soup, halloumi, zucchini muffins, iced tea, chocolate ice cream and a chicken pie for dinner. The halloumi was kind of a flop, I’m pretty sure it didn’t turn out how it was supposed to,  but it tasted pretty good. The soup, made with a home-grown pumpkin that had split and needed to be used up and stock made from the frame from the Christmas turkey, was really tasty. The rest of the family kindly did the afternoon milking and feeding, allowing me to have the pie made by about 8.30pm. It was a long day.

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This was after three runs of the dishwasher…

Saturday had been earmarked as the day to butcher the excess ducklings. After two weeks in small pens for fattening, the eight birds were left for 12 hours with only fresh water. We went out to buy a machete with which to do the beheading, and after visiting about four different stores we finally got one from Ray’s Outdoors.

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Muscovy drakes in their fattening pen.

The longer blade made for a more accurate cut, and each bird was neatly dispatched with one hit. We did the first two, plucked them, then the second two, starting with the big Muscovy drakes. Then the Pekin drake. Then two excess Muscovy hens.

This left two Pekin hens. By this stage I had hit my limit, and I opted to let the last two Pekin hens run free. I’m sure I’ll be cursing that decision come July when I’m drowning in duck eggs, but six birds in one day was more than enough killing for me.

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Ducks hung on the washing line for plucking.

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I can only handle so much blood on my boots in one day.

Due to the age of the birds, most had lots of pin feathers, making it impossible for me to pluck them cleanly. We ended up with two nice clean roasting birds and I decided to skin and fillet the other four. I took as much skin as I could and rendered the fat from it.

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I wish that I had duck feet…

I had been told that Muscovy hens are not worth killing because they are too small. The birds I was able to keep whole for roasting were a Muscovy drake and a Muscovy hen. They dressed out at 1550g and 1300g, with the female being smaller but still a decent size. From the other four birds I got over 2kg total in breast and thigh fillets. It took ages, I was on my feet for hours, but now I have a freezer loaded with duck meat.

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All cleaned and ready for the freezer.

Sunday was another big day, with a trip to Tatura to visit family. I drove one half of the six-hour round trip while my sister drove the other. It was a very nice afternoon with good food and wine and lots of dog stories.

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Off the visit the cousins, equipped with the three most important food groups – cider, goat cheese and sweet chilli sauce.

Sunday night I made the sourdough, which meant no cheesemaking as the sourdough can contaminate the cheese and ruin it. The milk was piling up. I baked the sourdough on Monday morning then lounged around for a bit. I took a gamble and made chevre on Monday night, which worked out pretty well and used up four litres.

So that was Easter. A bit less dramatic than previous years, but it got the fridge and freezer filled with bread and meat and cheese.

As for my goals for the new year… it is now April and I have exercised about five times. I have managed to get back into yoga over the past couple of weeks after avoiding it for six months, so that is something. I know I need to exercise more, and I will. When I find something that is not uncomfortable and doesn’t injure me.

Reducing food packaging has been a challenge too, but somehow I have managed to stay fairly dedicated to it. I have had to give up some things, like corn chips, that are simply unavailable in recyclable or biodegradable packaging. I have discovered Mountain Bread, which I can cut and bake into crunchy thin crackers, perfect for serving with cheese. This comes in a recyclable packet. I have found a brand of oats that is not only Australian grown, but comes in cardboard with no plastic inner.

Recyclable plastic food containers have become one of my favourite things. They can be washed in the dishwasher, frozen, re-used and when they start to crack and break down they go in the recycling. I use them for everything. I’ve been taking my own bags to to supermarket and fruit shop. I buy meat wrapped in a thin bag and paper, rather than on a plastic tray. Everything we buy is compared and considered and where a recyclable or degradable packet is available we take that option. Otherwise we replace that product with something else that will do the job, or go without. We haven’t been able to eliminate packaging waste, but we have certainly reduced it.

What I found particularly interesting is that when I bought my new laptop it came in 100% recyclable packaging. I thought, if they can package a laptop in recyclable packaging, why can’t they package corn chips in something similar? Or frozen berries? It is as though food companies just don’t care.

One friend pointed out that it is hardly fair that consumers have to make sacrifices, buy more expensive options and put in a conscious effort to reduce packaging waste while big food companies and supermarkets go gaily about their production and sale of packets that can only end up in landfill. The amount of fresh food that now comes pre-packaged in plastic is criminal. Things like bananas – organic bananas no less – presented for sale wrapped and on a tray. Grapes pre-portioned into throwaway bags. All sorts of fruits and vegetables on trays and in packets.

Where previously I was determined to buy Australian made or grown products, I found myself having to weigh up between food miles and throwaway packaging. I found bulk rice in a cloth bag, but it had come all the way from Sri Lanka. I opted for Australian-grown rice in a large plastic bag instead, choosing one large packet over several smaller ones as the lesser of the evils. And considering the popularity of bacon, I discovered that there is no way of purchasing Australian grown free-range bacon from Woolworths that didn’t boil down to a big fat throwaway packet wrapped around a relatively small amount of meat.

Growing food at home, buying in bulk and getting as much else as you can from small local outlets seem to be the best ways to keep packaging waste down. We bake a lot, store food in re-usable containers at home and rely heavily on home-made food. It is healthier all-round. And I will continue to work to reduce our reliance on plastic and the amount of rubbish we produce.

 

A Barefoot Cookin’ Christmas

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Over the past few years, Christmas has become a sort of annual festival of cooking and family.

We’ve been doing ‘Christmas Baking’ for as long as I can remember, originally watching my Mum bake, later joining in and in more recent years it has become the realm of my sister and I. We have a cider, crank some tunes and churn out baked goodies as fast as my new 90cm oven can cook them.

This year we toned it down a bit, producing 24 fruit mince pies and 83 choc-dipped shortbread biscuits. We’ve been using the same recipes and the same SAWA 2000 biscuit press the whole time. Sarah and I have acquired our own SAWA 2000s over recent years, courtesy of op-shops and ‘trash and treasure’ markets.

83 shortbreads

83 Shortbreads

With Christmas Day forecast to be over 30 degrees, the sheer firepower of my oven and the prospect of about 15 people in the living area of my house, I decided that I would do all the oven cooking before the day. December 23 saw me roasting a turkey for the first time. My old oven would never have accommodated a whole turkey, so I had never cooked one before. It was basically a matter of taking the (free range, of course) turkey out of the packet, putting it on the rack of the baking dish, covering its wing and leg tips with foil, roasting for the prescribed time and dismembering it once it was cool.

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Turkey was the easy part

As someone who doesn’t eat sugar, I usually accept the fact that there just won’t be pudding for me, but Sarah had the bright idea of finding a pumpkin pie recipe that would suit both my sugar-free self and our gluten-free mother. Since I had the week off, sourcing ingredients and baking the pie on Christmas Eve became my task. I started with a whole pumpkin, which I cut, cored, peeled, boiled and pureed, and ended up with what I assume is a fairly decent impersonation of a pumpkin pie. It was enjoyed by those with and without restricted diets.

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Sugar-free, gluten-free pumpkin pie

In the lead-up to Christmas I also made a sugar-free cheesecake slice with home-made goat milk ricotta, and some excellent alternatively-sweetened dark chocolate with locally grown hazelnuts. Plenty of sweets for me this year.

Any meal at my place is not complete without an extensive board of home-made and hand-picked cheeses. This year we had my goat milk gouda, a dish of chevre, Mersey Valley aged cheddar, Unicorn double brie and a traditional English blue Stilton. The troops gave it a fair work-over, but there was still a good bit left for a Boxing Day serving to try out my new cheese serving set from Mum.

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Nom nom nom…

I pre-made a coleslaw to dress on the day, and did a stocktake of my salad ingredients. Christmas morning I made a green salad.

We had a quiet Christmas morning, just the four of us who live here. I received a really lovely tea set, which was made around 80 years ago. We had our traditional Christmas breakfast of croissants, eggs and bacon.

 

Lunchtime preparation began in earnest when the last to arrive sent a message from town asking for my address. I made a warm potato salad with homegrown spuds, garlic, butter and grated gouda. Mum brought out the container of pork that she had pre-roasted, and Sarah presented a leg of excellent locally-grown free-range ham. Brother Matthew arrived with his containers of prawns. We set it all out on the table, with a jar of beetroot relish replacing cranberry sauce, and everyone tucked in.

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EAT ALL THE FOOD!!!

After mains was pretty much finished with, we cleared up and set out the desserts, including the aforementioned baked goods and featuring Nana’s famous trifle.

What seemed like a fairly disjointed lead-up culminated in a perfectly-executed buffet-style Christmas lunch for 12, with something for everyone and no oven required on the day. Great work team!

 

When Soap Gremlins Attack!

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I have been making soap for two and a half years now. That’s quite a long time. I wrote a post about the first batch of soap I made way back in March 2013. You can check it out here.

Since then I have made about 800 bars of soap. I’ve got my NICNAS registration and started selling to family, friends, workmates and at the very occasional public event. In a couple of weeks I’ll be at the school Christmas market, which is quite exciting.

In that time my soap has gone from looking like the ones in the link above to single colour swirls and basic natural scents to complex themed essential oil and colour combinations.

Original Fairy Garden

Original Fairy Garden

Fairy Garden Mk2

Fairy Garden Mk2

And until last week I hadn’t lost a single batch.

Soapers talk of a phenomena known as ‘soap gremlins’. It’s when soap develops a mind of its own and things go awry. Seized (super fast thickening), discoloured or overheated batches, dropped mixing bowls, missed fragrances, anything that stops your masterpiece from manifesting as you had intended. And they tend to come in a series of two or more disasters.

I’ve been stocking up on a lot of old favourites with Christmas, the school market and next year’s Rural Lifestyle Expo in mind. Two popular natural varieties, Holy Guacamole and Bee’s Knees, should have gone off without a hitch. But I made a couple of bad decisions.

Holy Guacamole features avocado oil and the flesh of a whole avocado in the mix. It turns out a kind of booger green. It is probably the ugliest soap I make, but it is super moisturising and leaves that dewy feeling on your skin without being greasy. I usually let it heat up naturally to gel phase to speed up the cure, but this time it didn’t heat up on its own. So I gave it a bit of help by putting it in the oven.

When I unmoulded it the next day I found that I had burned the edges. It had a thin layer of nasty brown goo around the top. The rest of the soap was fine, but it looked bloody awful. The best option was to slice off the top layer, leaving a smaller bar. To compensate for this, I cut the batch into 12 bars instead of 16 to make up for the lost weight. So the bars are nice and fat, with flat tops. And they should still work perfectly well.

Holy Guacamole, not a beauty even when successful, but feels great to use.

Holy Guacamole, not a beauty even when successful, but feels great to use.

My next mistake was on the honey soap. The batch stayed beautifully cool and kept the creamy look. I had the bright idea of putting it in my cute new 12-bar mould with the goat kid on it. The soft, sticky soap stayed in the detail parts of the mould when I popped it out, and left sad blurry goat kids on the top of each bar.

I had never done a rebatch before, but a newly made, otherwise perfectly good batch of milk and honey soap seemed like a good place to start if I wanted to save all the ingredients and have a saleable batch of a popular variety. I did some research and decided to go with the stove top method.

I grated up the soap, put it into oven bags and put the oven bags in a big pot of boiling water. Once it had all melted down I snipped a corner off the bags and squeezed all the molten soap into the moulds. Then it was fingers crossed and don’t look at it for at least 12 hours.

It turned out okay, some people have even said it looks better than the original (thanks guys). I’ll test it in a day or two and see how it goes.

Rebatched honey soap

Rebatched honey soap

Then on Saturday I woke with an idea. I pictured a creamy, mostly white soap, with a light brown and lilac swirl. I had been trying to figure out a way to lighten-up a combination of frankincense and patchouli essential oils, and I had the idea of adding lime. I decided to risk a hanger swirl with two colours. The essential oil combo turned out better than I expected, it smells amazing, and applying the colours turned out to be a bit of a learning experience. But in the end I am happy with how it turned out.

New, still unnamed variety with frankincense, patchouli and lime.

New, still unnamed variety with frankincense, patchouli and lime.

Here are a couple of my recent creations that I am a bit proud of. I’ve never really been much of a crafty person, but I enjoy making things that are useful, good for you, enjoyable to use and also look good sitting on your sink or in your shower. I’ve been able to help a few people with skin problems along the way.

Tie Dye - four colour in-the-pot swirl with clary sage, patchouli and lavender.

Tie Dye – four colour in-the-pot swirl with clary sage, patchouli and lavender.

Plain four-ingredient goat milk soap, dressed up just a little with this cute goat kid mould.

Plain four-ingredient goat milk soap, dressed up just a little with this cute goat kid mould.

Nature’s MSG

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It’s winter solstice time, and you know what that means…

Yes, it means the shortest day/longest night of the year. It also means you should have your garlic in the ground by now.

They say garlic should be planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest. Around these parts we generally go about a month before that. Once the garlic bulbs from last season start to sprout in your cupboard, prompted by the cold nights and sunny days of autumn, it’s time to pop those babies in the garden.

Here are mine.

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Young garlic plants

Garlic is a great thing to grow in winter because it seems to really love the cold. While the rest of the garden is either frost burnt to death, making slow and pitiful attempts to grow, or just sitting there inert, garlic cheerfully pokes its little sprouts through the ground and shoots up with enthusiasm through the coldest days. If you like going out in your garden and seeing a plant with a smile on its face, garlic will bring you winter cheer.

It eventually grows a great long stem with a flower on the top, and when the flower dies it is time to harvest. Or in time for making hummus for the rounds of Christmas parties in December.

I’m a big fan of garlic, both in the garden and in the kitchen. For a while I have jokingly nicknamed it ‘nature’s MSG’ because it makes everything taste yum. I refuse to use bought stock in soups, and I am always worried about my soups being bland, so they all get a good dose of garlic and parsley. It goes in tomato sauce, spicy plum sauce and sweet chilli sauce. It is great mixed in with herbs to make a flavoured soft goat cheese. And I have been known to put a little bit in mashed potatoes to give them a bit of oomph.

And then there is hummus, pretty much anything Italian, and as an accompaniment to roast meat. Yep, I love garlic.

If you want to grow it, there is still time, but not much. If bulbs you have bought from the supermarket have sprouted in your spud box, simply separate the cloves and plant about 15cm apart in well-drained soil. It is really easy to grow, doesn’t need much looking after through the cold months, and each clove grows into a whole new bulb.

It keeps for several months after harvesting, simply plait or bundle several stems together and hang the whole lot in a shady place. Mine did well in the garage, although I can’t tell you exactly how long they will keep because we ran out of home-grown garlic a couple of months ago. I successfully grew a few bulbs in pots last year, enabling me to harvest some even though we moved house at the start of December. This year I have planted more, and next year I will increase the crop even more.

You will probably find that home-grown garlic, like most home-grown things, has a stronger flavour than shop-bought stuff, especially if you are inclined to buy pre-mashed garlic in jars. You will get used to the stronger flavour.

So if you are an amateur gardener, or you just love cooking with garlic, try garlic for a low-risk, high return crop. It takes a while to grow, but it gives you something to look at while the rest of your garden sooks in the corner and waits for the temperature to reach ten degrees again.

Beetroot – A Most Awesome Vegetable

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All my life up until about six weeks ago, beetroot was that vinegar-smelling stuff in a can that only weirdos, including my younger child, actually liked.

Callum loves beetroot. Back in our McDonalds-eating days, he would order a McOz with extra beetroot. He gets a tin of beetroot in his Christmas stocking. He freaking loves beetroot.

So I decided to grow him some. I got a punnet of seedlings and planted them in groups of four or five, expecting most of them to die of transplant stress. They all lived. I separated them out again. They still all lived. I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do with all this beetroot?’.

The last of the crop.

The last of the crop.

My grand plan of preserving it in slices, reminiscent of the canned stuff, suffered an irredeemable setback when I Googled ‘beetroot recipes’ and discovered the huge world of amazing things you can make from beetroot.

It started with roasted beetroot hummus dip. Progressed through beetroot soup to beetroot relish and red velvet beetroot muffins. There are three left from that original planting, and none have been sliced up and preserved in jars. I just put in another 36 seedlings. Next trick is to grow them from seed.

Beetroot, un-pickled and un-canned, is sweet and slightly nutty in flavour. While it is fun to cook with, it does leave a trail of reddish-purple juice all over the kitchen.

Roasted in olive oil, it makes a great addition to your ordinary roast vegetables, or you can then whiz it up with chickpeas and garlic to make a tasty pink hummus. There are loads of different beetroot soup recipes, or you can freestyle it with some other root vegetables and experiment with spices.

This beetroot relish is sweet and goes well with cold meat or in toasted sandwiches with melted cheese.

 

Beetroot Relish

650g beetroot

1 brown onion, finely chopped (or grated)

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 cup vinegar

1/4 tsp ground cloves

Method

Boil beetroot for 20 minutes or until just tender. Rinse under cold water. Wearing rubber gloves, peel and grate the beetroot.

Combine onion, apple, sugar, vinegar and cloves in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add beetroot. Simmer for 45 minutes or until mixture is syrupy. Carefully spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

 

I am always looking for healthy, alternatively-sweetened muffin recipes, and if they include vegetables that is even better. This cupcake recipe is incredibly easy, and goes great with a cream cheese topping.

Beetroot Red Velvet Cupcakes

2 large beetroot, washed and grated, raw

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/4 cups self raising flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 170C and line a cupcake tray with 12 paper cases.

Blend all ingredients together, in blender or with stick mixer, until batter is smooth. Spoon into cupcake cases.

Bake for 40 minutes or until skewer inserted comes out clean.

Beetroot cupcakes.

Beetroot cupcakes.

 

Beetroot is the another new favourite that I might never have learned about if I had not grown it. The beauty of it is that it also grows in the cooler months, so I might get some into jars for sandwich topping after all. Or maybe Callum can try some of the relish on his lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Season (or, How On Earth Are We Going To Eat All Of These?)

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You know what smart people do when their one zucchini plant is supplying their entire family with zucchini? That’s right, they plant five more…

One zucchini plant - plenty for most families.

One zucchini plant – plenty for most families.

It is the season of zucchini abundance. The great dark green beast that threatens to overflow our vegetable bins and infiltrate every meal we eat for the next month. Visitors are not allowed to leave without taking at least two home with them. And that is without even considering the giant one that you missed picking that is now the size of a medium goat.

Five zucchini plants - we will NEVER eat all of these!

Five zucchini plants – we will NEVER eat all of these!

So what are you supposed to actually do with them?

The first flush of zucchini sees us excitedly anticipating the return of our favourite condiment – piccalilli. Piccalilli is sweet mustard pickles. Some people make it with cauliflower, but I make it with zucchini. It uses 1kg of zucchini for a single batch, contains a good whack of tumeric, which is incredibly good for you, and goes great on toast or crackers with goat cheese.

I use this recipe from Highland Heritage Farm. Yes, that is my review at the end of the recipe.

Piccalilli is awesome.

Piccalilli is awesome.

Zucchini slice is healthy, handy for work lunches and can be customised to your particular tastes. It has the added bonus of using up some of those eggs that you are probably drowning in at the moment if you have poultry.

The basis is a whole lot of grated zucchini, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/2 to 1 cup of self raising flour, about half a dozen beaten eggs and whatever other vegies you want to add. Most recipes call for onion, but you may find that the flavour takes over. You could get around this by frying the onion off before adding it to the mix. I like to add a couple of grated carrots and a decent-sized sweet potato, but you could use squash, potatoes, turnips, whatever is overflowing your vegie drawer and is suitable for grating. If you are that way inclined you can also put some grated cheddar or tasty cheese in. Mix it all up, add salt and pepper to taste, and pour it into a lasagne dish. Bake at 180 degrees until the egg is cooked and the whole thing is firm, around 45 minutes.

The problem with all that grating is that if you are anything like me, there will be blood. So I bought this nifty device, which we simply call Tefal. It may slightly resemble a baggy scrotum, but it slices, grates and crushes like a champ. It has a front-row seat in my gadget cupboard. And it saves me a fortune in Band-Aids.

Normal people have graters, I have Tefal <3

Normal people have graters, I have Tefal ❤

Zucchini also makes an excellent stealth vegetable. You know, the vegies your kids eat when they don’t know they are eating vegies. I believe in full disclosure when it comes to food, but you can add grated zucchini to things like spaghetti sauce, soup, meatloaf and cake. It brings moisture and density to recipes.

I discovered these awesome chocolate zucchini muffins. Sweetened with honey, they are moist and fluffy and super chocolatey. The zucchini disappears into the cake during baking, so you won’t even know you are eating vegetables, and your kids won’t believe you even if you do tell them.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

1 cup flour – use wholemeal or gluten free if you prefer

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1tsp bicarb

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup coconut oil (can substitute with olive oil)

1/2 cup honey

2 eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

Method

Sift and mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix the honey, oil, vanilla and eggs until combined. Mix in the zucchini.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until everything is wet. Do not overmix. Spoon into muffin cases or greased muffin pans. Bake at 180c for about 18 minutes or until cooked through. Makes 10-12.

Zucchini is a super versatile, prolific seasonal vegetable. Add strips to stir fry, chunks to curry, use it in place of pasta sheets in lasagne, slice it onto your pizza or hide it in your sweets. Once you have got through it all, you don’t have to eat it for about eight months. But by the time summer comes around again you will be impatiently waiting for that first shiny green treasure to be ready to eat.

Use ALL the ZUCCHINIS!!

USE ALL THE ZUCCHINIS!!