Friday, 25 February 2011

Chicken soup

I received a message from a reader of my blog concerning the bottling (canning) of chicken soup.  There is a question about how to process foods that contain meat.
Fowler's instructions recommend processing meat (and also beans) twice, with an interval of 48 hours.
 (Click on the image to make it larger and easier to read.)
I have some half grown chickens out in the yard, and some of them are bound to be roosters that will be difficult to house in the long term.  In the past, I have had them "processed" and I've left them in the freezer until I made "rooster soup" during the winter.
Perhaps I will try bottling some pre-cooked soup... this would be called "tinned soup" or "canned soup"  I suppose.

Summer dinner

It is that time of the year when I'm beginning to plant the next vegetables that we'll be eating in a few months time.  It is also the time of the year when dinner is planned in the garden, basket and clippers in hand...
 ... all of this came from the garden,  though the onions and garlic were picked several weeks ago, and are stored in the cupboard.  Here is also eggplant, capsicum, tomatoes, zucchini, and plenty of herbs.
I cut them all up, and added them to a a pan with hot olive oil....
 ... and once it ooked down a bit,  I added all of hte herbs....
 ... and salt and pepper.  My old pepper mill is getting worn....
 ... the blcak paint has worn off after about 25 years!  It's a favourite though, as it is "made on the third planet from the sun" and really makes one think about one's significance in the scheme of things, even while cooking dinner!

Once cooked and poured over pasta and sprinkled with cheese, it made a pretty good dinner...
.... and very quite "fresh and local".

Monday, 21 February 2011

Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea is recommended as a "water-wise" plant for Australian garden.   Though in fact,  during the summer weather it does require supplementary watering on any days that are hot and dry together.  The flowers are lovely....
 .... the "petals" grow as the flower ages.
The actual flowers are the tiny yellow parts in the middle of the whole infloresence....
Extracts of all parts of the plant are used to make "Echinacea" that is used as an anti-infection agent which works in a totally different way from other anti-infection agents.  It doesn't attack the infectious agent, but supports and increases the immune system, making it apparently effective against viruses including "the common cold."   There's more information here.

Gotu kola

I have tried to grow Gotu Kola before, but it doesn't like the very hot dry summer weather that we usually have during most of the summer.  This year it has thrived.  The leaves are beautiful, and they supposedly have health benefits as well.
This year,  the plant has spread and has been flowering in recent weeks.  It seems to produce extra plants via runners, much like mint or strawberries.  The flowers are tiny, leaning over close to the ground.... 
.... and I wonder how fertilisation might occur in order to maintain genetic variability.  It has grown very well this year.  I'll maintain it through the winter and mulch it well next summer.  I'll also make a couple of pot plants,  to grow in the verandah for the future...  just to be on the safe side.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Chickens in the garden eating earwigs

Here they are amongst the wormwood....
I have let the chickens out to begin on the earwigs....





... and I'm hoping for low omega-6,  high omega-3 eggs.


Gertrude's bedroom and the pea straw bale

After yesterday's rain (in the end we received more than an inch in just over 24 hours) I've been out to make sure that Gertrude's bedroom is dry and warm.  It's dry,  not too bad,  but a bit draughty....
 She has been out for a weed removal exercise this morning, and while she was out,  I put a brand new bale of pea straw in her room.   It's in such a place that it will reduce the draughts in her corner (where she sleeps... I've been out to check on her in the night previously.)

She loves the pea straw!   and picks through it to find the tasty bits....

While she was out demolishing weeds, I also removed the night soil.  I have dug it into the next garden bed.  We'll see how goat poo goes as a fertiliser!
Not that soil is a particularly interesting picture,  but this is where the vegetables come from, and as I've described previously,  it is necessary to take care of the soil and the plants will take care of themselves.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Rain

After so many dry weeks, we awoke to gently falling rain that amounted to 7.5 mm by 9.00 am.  I'd been expecting it from the forcat, and so I'd planted some seeds in a new patch of prepared soil.  
Nothing to see yet, but I'm hopeful.
It was not the bet time to plant seeds, according to the Moon Calendar because plants that germinate at this time can be expected to have only weak and spindly growth.  It's a difficult decision to choose between the ideal weather for planting and the Moon Calendar.  I'll wait and see.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Goatherding

Gertrude has been out around the yard again today.  She grazes various patches of weeds most days and today she had a whole new patch.  She has discovered the fruits of the "itchy trees" that have been flowering lately.  In reading about this species, I have discovered that it is not, in fact, a native though it has naturalised in our area.
Anyway,  she loves the furry half-formed fruits that are abundant around here...
 I had left her outside (checking on her regularly) for the morning, but eventually heard her calling and went out to rescue her.  All that she wanted was to go home...
 I tried to take a photograph as she ran through my vegetable gardens towards her pen, but she was definitely on a mission....
 .... pheeewww.... home again....
         and with a piece of an olive tree....
 She does this every day.  She can't wait to get home again and then she lies down in the sun if it's cool weather or in the shade if it's not.  Contented goat!

Meanwhile the new brassicas are growing, and we will be able to eat in May-June.... here are a few zucchini plants, and broccoli, cabbages, cauliflowers....
... and as I walked back to the house, I noticed that my tiny curry leaf tree is flowering...
.... if it makes it through this summer, then I think it will be ok.
The garden has been taking care of itself lately...  I'm picking enough to keep us fed, but as the soil dries out (we didn't get any of the flooding rain that has been around most of Australia in recent weeks) and I reduce the area that I'm watering, we now have less and less fresh vegetables.  I am glad that I preserved and froze plenty of the winter excess last year.
Posting has been intermittent lately because I've been painting and there are still only 24 hours in a day.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Another water lily

This morning there's another water lily on the pond....
 ... it is tiny, unlike the blooms that appeared previously.

I first saw it yesterday afternoon....
 ..... peeking out from underneath one of the two remaining leaves on this plant.  One of the leaves is detatched this morning.  (The birds have been bathing.)  These leafy collectors of solar energy are all that powers the flower production, and the serious reduction in leaves has resulted in miniature flowers.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Prickly pear

Earlier this year, when the weather was very hot at the end of last summer,  I decided to grow plants that don't mind the hot dry weather that we always get during the summer.  I chopped some pieces from a prickly pear that produces plenty of good fruit on the side of the road between Gawler and Kapunda.  I left all of the pieces on the ground (they seem to grow easily on the side  of the road) and left them...
... and in the last month, they have produced a whole lot of new "pads."

The now ones look very much like "Mickey Mouse ears" although this one has produced three... 
I'll be waiting for fruit now.... and nopales....

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hot, dry weather, and a leaky vacola pan!

I just realised that it's been almost a week since I posted anything new here.  
We have had the first very hot weather for this summer.  The vegetables are producing, though I'm reducing the area that I'm watering now.  I'm glad that I froze some extra vegetables during the winter when the growing season is much easier.
The cactus flowers are still beautiful...


....and the jasmine perfumes the air all over the yard.

Many vegetables are wilting in the dry wind today,  even the amaranth...
.... though it is quite edible and this will be added to our vegetable curry tonight.

Gertrude continues to control weed plants really well.  However,  I took her to a new part of the yard yesterday.  She followed me reluctantly and spent the day munching on a new area of vegetation, including her favourite... kurrajong leaves.  However when I went to take her out this morning, she was really upset.  She must be a creature of habit!  I gave her some food in her pen today and I'll let he spend the day at her outside patch near the back fence tomorrow.  She is not adventurous, apparently.

The other emergency this week was the leak in my Fowler's Vacola preserving pan.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, but with quite a lot of tomatoes to process (into pasta sauce for the winter.)   What a time for that to happen.  
Then I remembered reading about people preserving food in jars by boiling them in kerosene tins.  If a kerosene tin will work,  then so would my big stock pot....
... and it did....
.... and I should now have enough sauce for next winter!
Having processed so many batches of this sort of sauce,  I am now able to estimate the time and temperature without the thermometer!   I'll be on the lookout for another "proper" Fowler's kit though.  (One often sees them at garage sales or second hand shops.)