Monday, August 29, 2011

Bakul RayaKu

The garden seems to know that I am feeling down this week and want to lift my spirit up with a variety of harvest. A few winter tomatoes has also managed to turn red. We harvested all red choi since it will produce flower soon. Pulled out all snowball turnips grown in polystyrene since it is not growing that much and not very productive in our garden. Lettuces are also readily available from the garden.
Italian sprouting broccoli side-shoots constantly need to harvest these days. Lack of enthusiasms on my part last week, causes some side-shoots were harvest late and cause it to flower.
We harvested our first home-grown watermelon radish (seeds from Mr. H author of Subsistence Pattern).  Asian greens like tatsoi, pak choi and komatsuna are showing the sign of producing flower buds so in the basket harvest they go.  Bloomsdale spinaches, chards and Florance fennels were also harvested last week.
We inter-planted some hon tsai tai (purple-flowered choy sum) in between red onion seedlings which are growing rather slow at the moment to save some space and harvested all of them last week. 
Some beetroots, parsnips and Red Russian Kale were also harvested last weekend.
Most of our Asian greens have holes on it courtesy of caterpillars.  Surprisingly, we had one yellow capsicum harvested last week.
I will like to wish "Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri".
Thank you for the wish too.
Have a safe journey balik kampung and hope you have many good memories on this special festive season in Malaysia.
Ingat-ingat kami di perantauan ya :).
Sigh. ..dalam 10 tahun ini cuma 2 kali je sambut di tanah air yang lain di negara orang. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Turkish (Dragon) Carrot Pilaf (Winter Wednesday)

Carrots has been one of the main harvest in winter for us this year. This year there are 3 varieties of carrots ~Afghanistan, dragon and topweight carrots growing through winter for us. We have already harvested all of our Afghanistan carrots and few are left to flower to collect seeds. Topweight carrots are growing rather slow and has not develop roots that much. Now its dragon carrot turn to be harvested. We received dragon carrot seeds from our local seed-savers meetings early this year. So last fall was the first time we grew dragon carrots.  Dragon carrots in this basket were harvested yesterday grown in polystyrene container. How long did I left them to grow since I sowed seeds? Maybe at least 18 weeks. 
It was a nice surprise that dragon carrots grow very well in container. How deep was that container? About 30cm. I just finished direct-sowed the balance of our dragon carrot seeds in one container this week. Now, I am wishing for some more of dragon carrot seeds for our spring-sowing carrot plan. It seems I might have to shop for some dragon carrot seeds. Contemplated to let some of dragon carrots to flower but I wouldn't want it to cross-pollinate with Afghanistan carrot which one plant has already has blooms.However, none of the dragon carrots shows any sign to flower yet at the moment. Maybe, I can get a gap in between those 2 variety flowering time?Hmmm...but I still need to sow more dragon carrot seeds next month.
Dragon carrot has reddish purple colour top that make it easier to differentiate with other variety. I found a recipe which goes well with dragon carrot ~ Turkish Pilaf. It was really fun to harvest fresh carrot and cook it straight away within minutes of harvesting it.
Turkish Carrot Pilaf (recipe from Middle Eastern Bibble Book)
3 tablespoons (60gram) unsalted butter
2 cups coarsely grated carrot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
freshly ground black pepper
2 cups long-grain rice, washed (we used basmati)
31/2 cups (875ml) chicken stock (vegetarian-vegetable stock)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground paprika, for garnish

Heat butter in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add carrot, stir to coat with the butter and then cook for 10 minutes until softened, stirring constantly.

Add sugar, spices, pepper and rice, and cook for 2 minutes or until rice is translucent.
Pour stock into the pan and season with salt. Instead of using the saucepan to cook the rice until cooked. I transferred them to our rice cooker to cook until the rice is cooked. Stirring occasionally. Serve sprinkle with paprika if you like. But if you are not using rice cooker to cook the rice, here are advices from this recipe book. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is cooked.
Stretch a clean tea towel over the rim of the pan and replace the lid. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the cloth to absorb the steam. Gently fluff up the rice with a fork and serve sprinkled with paprika.
It was really delicious. All of us had at least seconds.
Planning to make this dish again with the next batch of carrot harvest or for Eid Mubarak feast.
I noticed many gardeners that I visited this month harvested carrots. It was fun to see so many different variety of carrots harvested at different corner of other gardeners garden on this planet earth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beetroot Patties (Punajuuripihvit)

This year it is the first time we grow beetroot in our garden. Growing beetroot is the first time, eating beetroot is also the first time. We are growing heirloom mixed beetroot seeds, so I am not sure which variety we are harvesting at the moment. We have already become a fan of beetroot and we be sowing some seeds again this coming spring. Apart from steaming or roasting beetroot, we wanted to try a different way to enjoy it.
I got this beetroot patties idea from Anja Hill's The Food and Cooking of Finland recipe book that I borrowed from our local library. There are many interesting recipes to try from this book. 
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 cooked beetroots (beets)
1 egg beaten
100grams (2cups) fine fresh breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for shallow frying
salt and ground black pepper

Peel the outer skin from the cooked beetroot using a sharp knife, then cut the flesh into 1cm slices.
Break the egg on a plate and beat lightly. Spread the breadcrumbs on a separate plate and season with salt and pepper. Dip the beetroot slices in the egg and then the breadcrumbs, to coat both sides.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the coated beetroot and fry for about 5 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.
In Finland, these delicious patties can be served with a dollop of sour cream as an appetizer or alongside grilled meat or fish to provide a different texture and flavour. They are also often served in conjunction with fried onion. These beetroot patties remind me of sweet potato fritters I usually have for tea snack back in Malaysia. My little brother is visiting me at the moment, it was his first taste of beetroot and he likes it very much.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Morialta Conservation Park

We always wanted to visit Morialta Conservation Park because we have always wonder how the waterfall there is which is closest to the city. Since Adelaide is the driest city in Australia, we have to make sure that there are many rain this month before we set our foot there. We heard that in summer it can be very dry there and the river will not have any flowing water. It was very nice weather today, you can walk with only a T-shirt during the day. So off we went to Morialta Conservation Park. The trail to the waterfall has nice sceneries of native plants to enjoy. There are many different trails for hiking which we like to hike next time. Because we are still fasting during Ramadhan so perhaps next time.
High platforms to enjoy the nice view of this conservation park. I am used of hiking sceneries through tropical rainforest and Japan green forest during my studies to complete my bachelor degree in fieldwork. But today it is a new interesting experience to me to understand this part of Australia native vegetation.
The waterfall.
Rainbow near the waterfall which made my boys excited. 
Hope you have a nice weekend too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Perennial Polyanthus

The bright colours of polyanthus bloom has always reliably decorated our garden in winter each year. Since our polyanthus plants has been well-established in our garden at the moment, it bloom much earlier than previous year. This year polyanthus has started to bloom early July. Polyanthus grows very well in shade.
This year to add more brilliant colours in winter, last early April I tried to propagate new polyanthus plants by division from several old plants from last year that look a bit bushy. For example, this is one of the plants that I chose to give us more plants.
Made several division from that plant.
All of it survive, grow and are flowering at the moment.
Although it blooms later than well-established plants in our garden.
Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spring Blossoms at Carrick Hill

It is still officially end winter here in South Australia. But for some people it is already the beginning of spring season. I am celebrating spring and thinks winter season has already ended. We have mild winter here at Adelaide plain. When I was living in Japan, cherry blossom season is about to enter mid-spring. I am not complaining as we can grow all year round now just depending on warm and cool season crops. Thanks to Maggie email, we got to visit this lovely place at Carrick Hill last weekend. I never heard of this place before so I was really curious. Last weekend we were away for a fishing trip and after a rest we drove to Carrick Hill in the afternoon. Some of the plants made me reminisced spring gardens in Japan. I always like garden that has water flowing through it. 
Surprised to see Momotaro the Peach Boy from Japan folk legend statue in this garden.
Do you know what is the name of this flower plant?
Last weekend we had very fine sunny weather.
Hopefully this weekend will be full of sunshine too.
Hope this weekend will be nice weather for you too.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Major Saving This Week

Starting from this week, instead of cutting big stems from our rainbow chards for the kitchen, we harvested the whole plant. We are coming closer to spring and many of our vegetables are showing the sign of entering the next phase to reproduce which is flower and later on producing seeds. Italian sprouting broccoli plants are producing many side-shoots and enough for at least 2 meal portions weekly. A few precious tomatoes ripening in this end winter season to harvest. Cut some herbs such as dill and Chinese celery for cooking. We also harvested the last potato plants (sebago, pink-fir eye) that were planted last fall. Lettuces are also available to pick any time from the garden.
We pull out the last Afghanistan carrots that were growing on the veggie patch. Leaving a few big carrots to flower to collect seeds later. One of the carrots have already starting to bloom and I am excited because this will be the first time I am collecting carrot seeds. I have already direct-sowed beetroot seeds on that spot that were growing that carrots last weekend. Next carrot harvest, we have to rely with the ones growing in containers. Carrots and potatoes seems to be never enough for us. So this month we prioritise empty veggie patch corner or containers for sowing carrot seeds and potatoes. Our komatsuna and tatsoi greens are producing flower buds so we had a rush harvest. Other vegetables that were harvested last week was snow peas, yellow cherry tomatoes and spring onions.
Our major saving for this week for our kitchen cost is actually blue-swimmer crab.
I had a break from the garden last weekend.
We all went for a long weekend fishing trip.
Fishing trip but we caught no fish.
However, we were pretty happy with the numbers of crabs that were caught.
We caught more than 30 crabs.
In summer when crab is in season it cost AUD13.00perkilogram (cheapest).
It is winter and crabs are not in season.
Usually 2 big crabs are almost a kilogram.
We saved at least total AUD200 this week for the kitchen cost, thanks to gardening and crabbing.
My favourite to prepare crab is Chilli crab.
Any other suggestion will be most appreciated (you can even paste the recipe link).
My family also caught a few squids.
The gardener got to rest this week.
When the others went fishing out in the cold winter night at the jetty, I snuggled with my boys in the cabin. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Living in the shadow

In winter, our front yard are usually in partial shade or shade.
Ever bemoan at the fact that the place you can grow edible in winter receive barely no sunlight?
I did thought so too once upon a time but I turn over a new leaf about it.
To make it interesting, we are comparing the growth progress of the plants in the shade with last month which links here.
At this corner, Chinese celeries, kohlrabi, chervil and other vegetables seems has grown twice the size of last month stage. This is my first time growing kohlrabi in shade, so I am holding my breath at the moment if success is ours or not. Last year, we planted broccoli here and all did produce nice head, though smaller than the ones in full sun. Well, as long as it producing I think size does not matter. Its not growing at its optimum condition anyway.
Cauliflower plants also shows some growth at this patch. This is our third season growing cauliflowers here. I imagine the earliest cauliflower that will be harvest here perhaps next month if we have more warm weather. Hmmm...I don't think I should be that cocky now, what if we don't have a repeat performance.
This is the patch that received no sunlight at all in winter. Our perennial Chilli plant that has gone through 3 winter seasons is dying already, its time to say sayonara. Polyanthus plants does very well in shade here, one established plants has bloom and others are producing buds. Cauliflower and Nero Black kale plants are growing but slow compare with other veggie patch. Self-sowed celeries are still growing on this patch. We still have to work on this hard clay soil here.
Arrgghhh...can't wait to cut some celery stalks. Grow celery grow. Hopefully this year it won't bolt that quickly for us to enjoy some long harvest. Those celeries are growing in total shade block by that wall. However, this is the best spot to grow celery in our garden. I think it must be because of the soil.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

たまねぎの花ざかりの君たちへ~For you in full Blossom

While I was organising my 'Aussie brown' onion flower pictures, I just realised how interesting the onion bloom stages were to observe. Am I the only one who has been ignorant about this stages of bloom for brown onion? Please let me share with you and hope you enjoy it. 
The flower bud ~early stages.
The bud becoming fat and soon to bloom.
New bloom.
 The first pollen to develop and peek outside.
More pollen. Can you see a small admirer on the pollen?
In its full bloom. Hopefully some were well pollinated to produce seeds for next generation.
Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Carrot and Chinese Celery/Coriander Frittata

Oh No! I am hooked on cream and cheese at the moment. So I am trying to find recipe that will give me an excuse to use cream and cheese. I am not concern about calories at the moment since we are fasting during the day during Ramadan. I have been wanting to make vegetables frittata. But I usually don't have all the necessary ingredients from the garden at the same time. So Nigel Slater's carrot and coriander frittata recipe from his book Tender was my first attempt at frying carrot frittata. However, instead of using coriander leaves, I use Chinese celery and it was good too.
352g carrots
a medium onion (finely slice)
a clove of garlic, crushed
150ml heavy cream
an egg,beaten
3 heaping tablespoons grated cheese, such as good strong Cheddar
a handful coursely chopped Chinese celery/coriander leaves
a heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
Olive oil for shallow-frying
Scrub the carrots and grate them by hand using the coarse side of the grater. We sliced the carrot manually into thin strips. Transfer them to a bowl.
Mix carrots with onion, garlic and a seasoning of salt and black peppers. Stir in the heavy cream, beaten egg, grated cheese, coarsely chopped Chinese celery/coriander and the flour.
Warm a shallow layer of olive oil. Drop large dollops of the mixture into the pan, a couple at a time, and fry until lightly cooked on the bottom. Turn with a spatula and let the other side colour. They should take 3 or 4 minutes per side. The cakes are ready as soon as they are dark gold. Remove to a warm plate. A sheet of paper towel will remove any oil.
Its a bit tricky to fry it as it was a bit fragile. It was my first time so perhaps next time I will do much better. So since it is a new dish on the dining table, I wonder how it will be accepted by our dining table members. I was surprised no left-overs, and I don't even need to open my mouth and ask every member to finish it. I agree with Hearts_in_asia that fritters does not look photogenic but it tasted good.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2011 No Gardening Rest At All (Winter Wednesday)

This is the first year that we don't actually have any break from the garden in any month of year 2011. Previous years, the month of July is spending time daydreaming about the garden or browsing through catalogues or looking at gardening book picture. However, the allium family makes us very busy in winter season this year with preparing veggie patch, sowing and transplanting seedlings. Our first winter, we only had garlic and spring onion as representatives for allium family. Second winter season, additional members are leeks, chives, red onion and brown onion. Now our third winter season since we involved ourselves in gardening, we are trying our first time to grow shallots, potato onions, Egyptian walking onion, different variety of garlics and brown onions. On top of that the number of garlic cloves and onion seedlings planted this year were more than at least 5 times last winter. So, this winter is all about the allium group. Why allium? The main reasons are I don't have to worry much about pest and it does not need much water compare to others. Rows of garlic and brown onion plants along our drive-way.
Matador shallots and garlic growing in container at different growth stages.
New members in our garden from the back row are Potato onions, Matador shallots, Red Adelaide Garlic, and Creamgold onions.
Red Odourless Onion seedlings inter-planted with other vegetables because it is growing so slow at the moment. 
Last year spring-sowed Aussie Brown Onions have start to bloom this week. Hopefully, it will be pollinated well by the bees and we can save some seeds. Another task, collecting seeds from the allium group. Allium are usually biennial which produce seeds on its second year of life.
Now its August, end of winter.
Allium preparation for this year is almost completed.
Its up to them, to perform or not this year.
We only need to sow leeks and spring onion seeds now, with just a little bit of work with transplanting.
Hopefully, we have more success than failures with allium this year.
So What is happening in August in our garden?
Its the start of seed potatoes planting now at our place.
See, no rest from the garden this year.
Next month is spring here.
September-The Start of Summer Seeds Sowing time.
The first year in our garden, No Rest.