Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Who loves tomatoes more?

My tomatoes are going very well right now.

I have about 3 beds of tomatoes (rouge de marmande, currant, mini romas, tommy toes) and one bed with a Black Russian in it, plus odd-plantings here and there.

I'm swimming in tomatoes.

Or, rather, I should be.

You see, between the possums, bower birds and the dogs, there's not much that seems to be left over for me.

I've netted the 'roof' of the vegetable garden to try and keep out the possums and bower birds, but the bower birds just fly to the ground and walk right in then eat only half of the ripe ones.

Naughty bower birds.  It's only lucky that they had a rough start to the year with Cyclone Yasi that I've forgiven them their thievery.

The dogs just help themselves to the tommy toes and red currants that are ripe and eat the larger ones green.

Naughty doggies.

I've resorted to picking them slightly reddened now and ripening them on the window sill.

The Groom says it's all my fault the dogs like tomatoes.

Last year it was "one for me, one for you..."

I think I've raised a pack of tomato-loving pooches!

If I can never find the pup (well, he's 13 months old now but he's still a big puppy), I just have to head over to the vegetable garden and find his back end sticking out of a bed - or he's curled up in the celery eating the hidden currant tomatoes!

Oh well, thank goodness I planted enough for all of us.

And I need to get The Groom to hurry up and fence the vegetable garden...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just have to share!

I finally got to use my citrus cleanser!

It smells so purdy!

I added about 1/2 a litre of vinegar extra to it and then topped up the rest of the 2 litre container with water.

I don't know if the extra vinegar will do anything different, but so far so good.

I have to remember to charge my camera so I can upload a picture of the finished product.

I've been flat out with working and sick children - The Princess has just gotten over her first bout of glandular fever and now Little Man has tonsillitis.  

The poor little souls.

I can't believe the doctor actually 'prescribed' lollipops and icy poles!

No antibiotics from this doctor, thankfully.

What a lovely doctor, too. 

He spoke to my boy directly rather than through me like so many seem to do these days.

This doctor might be a 'keeper' I think.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bargain shopping

I bought some lovely wool on sale for $2 a ball yesterday.

It is a lovely blue/grey wool blend.

I bought five 50g balls and have already started on a new scarf (even though I am already working on another scarf).

And I will make a lovely knitted hot water bottle cover.

I saw one at a shop for $20!  I nearly fell over when I saw the price.

I'm not that good at knitting - plain and purl squares and rectangles are all I seem to manage.

The Groom is over seeing knitted dish clothes, so I'm sure scarfs and hot water bottle covers will make a pleasant change for him to watch me create.

I'm sure one or more of the finished items will end up as Christmas presents.

We're going to visit family overseas later this  year and I'm sure something will make their way over there with me for them.

If they're lucky!

If I don't keep it for myself...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Orange roast chicken

I found this recipe for a yummy roast chicken years ago.

I can't remember where it came from, or the exact ingredients but it goes something like this...

Juice two oranges and put the juice into a small saucepan with a heaped teaspoon of seeded mustard and a big heaped teaspoon of marmalade.

Stir over a low heat until the marmalade has melted.

It smells lovely!

And don't forget to add your orange peels to your citrus cleaner brew.

Cut up two more oranges into quarters.

Actually, if you are using a big orange you'll probably only need one, otherwise cut up both and eat whatever you don't use.

Rinse out the cavity and outside of the chicken  with running water and pat dry with a paper or cloth towel.

Put the chicken into your lightly oiled baking dish.

Sometimes I use disposable aluminium trays sitting on another sturdier tray if I don't want to spend ages scouring off the remnants of the roast off my cast iron baking dish.

Put two cinnamon sticks plus whatever quartered orange pieces you can manage to fit into the cavity of the chicken.  

Tie its legs together to hold it all in if you like.

I don't, I find it too fiddly and I don't mind if the quarters fall out during cooking.

Baste the chicken with orange/mustard/marmalade mix using about 1/2 of what you've made up.

Dampen some paper towel or baking paper and cover the chicken with it.  Make sure you wring out any excess water, but you don't want it too dry either.

Cover securely with about two layers of tin foil, carefully tucking in the foil around the sides.

You basically want to steam the chicken at this time.

If you like, you can also cook your vegetables in the dish at the same time.

Cook for about 45 minutes or so, depending on the size of your chicken.  

You will need to follow the cooking guide for your chicken's size and cook it for about 3/4 of the recommended cooking time.

Remove the foil and paper in the last 15 minutes or so and baste the chicken with the remaining juices in the saucepan.

Actually, I pour the whole lot over it.

The chicken will look a sickly pale color when you remove the foil and paper but that's okay, it will smell divine though!

Return the chicken to the oven and cook until the chicken is cooked through.

Baste again with the pan juices and making sure to get into the sticky spots that have formed in the dish - they're the best tasting part of all.

Let it rest for a couple of minutes before carving and serving with the pan juices drizzled over it.

You can eat it as a roast meal or with salad.

We love it cold the next day on sandwiches or with salad.

A word of caution - when the children were younger they found the mustard a bit too hot for them, so adjust the mustard accordingly if you wish.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tomato and Olive Lamb Casserole

This came from Super Food Ideas magazine, June 2011.

I've made it twice now and it has become a firm favourite in our house.

Serves 4, Ready in 1 hour 25 minutes

2 tblspns plain flour
8 (1kg) lamb neck chops
1 tblspn olive oil
1 medium brown oinion, halved, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup chicken stock
2 x 400g tins diced tomatoes
(but I think I would prefer to use 1 tin)
2 tblspns fresh oregano leaves
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
crusty bread, to serve

Coat lamb necks in flour, shake off excess and transfer to a plate.

Heat half of the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook lamb, in batches, for about 3 minutes each side or until browned.  Transfer to a plate.

Heat remaining oil in pan.  Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.  Add garlic.  Cook, stirring, about 1 minute or until fragrant.

Stir in stock and tomatoes.  Return lamb to the pan.  Cover.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove lid then simmer for 30 minutes or until lamb is cooked. 

Stir in oregano and olives.  Season with pepper and serve with bread.

This time I served it with rice. And yes, it was in a Christmas bowl for something different.

The first time I made this I only used 1 tin of tomatoes.  This time I used the two.  I prefer it with the one tin so it doesn’t become over-tomatoey sauced.

I didn’t use any olives this time (because The Princess loves olives and eats them as soon as I buy them) and I only had dried oregano, which I used.  I also substituted vegetable stock for chicken stock this time.  I couldn’t notice any difference in flavour.

I love this dish as the flavours of the lamb seem to be stronger in the necks.  It is a favourite with my family and one that I will continue to make.

You could probably also add whatever other vegetables you have in your fridge or garden too, or add more amounts of vegetables if you want.

The celery came from our own garden for this dish.

I'm grateful for a family that loves what I cook for them (most of the time, anyway - the beef stroganoff day will best be left unspoken of...)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ta-Da! My citrus cleaner is brewing!

Isn't it lovely!

There are the rinds of about 4 or 5 oranges in there, with a small mandarin peel - just because.

I'm tempted to get the step ladder and raid what is left at the top of the Bush Lemon out the front!

I can't stop opening the lid and smelling it, or turning it this way and that in the sunlight to look at the color of the vinegar.

I can't wait to use it.

Oh the uses - fabric softener, toilet cleaner, bench and stove cleaner, mopping water...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Orange peel citrus cleaner

I just have to make this I think.

I love the smell of oranges; I just wish I didn't throw out a heap of them last week that had gone funny in the fruit bowl.

I bought them the week before and before I knew it they'd all shrivelled up and went brown in patches.

I don't know why.

I still have a kilo or two left in the bowl so I think I might make orange roast chicken tomorrow to have an excuse to use the peel!

They're also talking about this on ALS and suggesting different methods and ingredients.  

Oh, I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What to do with dreadfully tough steak???

I really hate it when you buy a whole rump and then find it's not that good because it's tough and lacking fat.

So, instead of giving it to the dogs, I turned some of it into a 'stew'.

I cooked two roughly sliced onions until they were opaque, then browned the beef that I cut into strips, and with a very good shake of Cumin (I love Cumin and the way it smells)and a couple of tablespoons of gravy powder.

I don't know how much meat I used weight-wise; I bag the meat into 4 pieces.

Once the meat was browning I threw in a couple of massive chopped tomatoes (they were huge and courtesy of Deb from A Clothesline Out The Back).

Thinking it didn't look colorful enough I chopped up what was left of a massive zucchini that had been growing in my garden (I seem to forget to check on them and when I do they're almost like clubs!)

Hmm, Little Man doesn't like pumpkin, and I had a heap of pumpkin cut up in the freezer, so I added a handful of the stuff.

It is still frozen so that adds extra liquid to the dish to the pan to thicken it up.

I also like the way the steam rises off the pan when I put the pumpkin in, but I'm weird like that.

About a cupful of water is added once it's all mixed together.

To disguise the fact that there is a heap of pumpkin is in the pan, I smoosh it up with the spoon before serving - he'll NEVER know the difference!

I only needed to cook this until the pumpkin was soft and until the whole sauce had thickened until I was happy with it - probably about an hour or so from start to finish.

And guess what - he never noticed the pumpkin!

I did tell him though, and he didn't believe me!

(I think I broke a toe yesterday so tonight I'm treating us to fish and chips for dinner - I'm such a lazy mum sometimes! And yes, I can obviously still drive the car.)