Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last End Spring Harvest

Harvest the last cauliflower and broccoli for this year. Bandicoot some Royal Blue potato. There were a few Redland Pioneer bean to harvest and thinking about leaving the rest to dry on the plant. 
Most of the cool season vegetables planted last fall/winter are completely harvested for this year, such as rainbow chards, bloomsdale spinach and florence fennel. It will be officially summer next month.
We finally started to harvest our Nero Black kale since not much is available to harvest this week. Some spring onions, beetroot and baby potatoes. We also harvested some Musselburgh leek grown in polystyrene container. Those leek were long and width at least an inch.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chervil Life-Cycle (Seeds Give-Away)

Chervil is a new herb to us. I was introduce to it by our local seed-saver group meetings. Chervil belong to the same family as carrot. So, last fall was our first time growing them. Although, I am still not quite sure what type of dish is best to use chervil with. I would really be happy to receive advices regarding this. We had so many seedlings last fall because the seed germination was really good and did not encounter any problem transplanting chervil seedlings. Like coriander, I think it is best to start growing chervil at the end summer away from the heat which usually just make them flower really quickly here in Adelaide plain. For summer, probably will be best growing them in shade with moisture which we plan to try.
Chervil seedlings.
I think I read somewhere in a book about herbs that we can enjoy quiche with chervil. I have to borrow that book again because I forgot to copy the recipe.
An attempt of using chervil as a border or confusing pests with its aroma.
A few weeks/months later.
Well, by now I don't think you will be surprise to see how close I grow my vegetables together.
Chervil has grown nicely and plenty available for use.
But I keep on forgetting that we have chervil for use.
So, flower those chervil did when spring came.
After other vegetables were harvested, only savoy cabbage were left for company.
Chervil flower resembles coriander closely.
I did not noticed there was a bug on the flower.
Good or bad bug?
Chervil seeds.
Does chervil seeds are use for cooking as well?
So new to us.
Many questions.
We had at least 15 plants growing last cool season.
Most of the seeds are dried and collected.
So this weekend, we have chervil seeds give-away for 3 gardeners around the world. Our babies will pick the winners randomly from seed sowers of this post.
How was your weekend?
Off to fishing now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shirley Poppy (Sweet Pea Seeds Give-Away Winners)

Early ~Mid November is always the best blooming season for poppy in our garden.
I think I sowed some poppy seeds earlier than it ideally should be this year.
I did get earlier blooms in October but it wasn't pretty.
Because the flower bud can't proper fully blossom. 
Maybe I should try sowing in between May-June.
I hope these sweet pea seeds will make a home in these 3 gardeners lovely garden:
Hope I can get your address ladies (my email: diana.demiyah@gmail.com)
The colour of this poppy is really bloody red.
No editing colour here.
It is that red.
White poppy so delicate to touch.
A pink multi-layer poppy.
A blushing one?
Wearing a different kind of red frill skirt.
Have a nice weekend!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spring Onions and Prawn toasts

Thanks to Mad Gnomes for sharing some of their self-sowed spring onions last fall from their garden we have many to harvest this spring. We usually don't allocate specific patch to grow spring onions as we always plant them in between with other plants. With these seedlings, we planted it under sunflower that were growing last fall.
Those spring onions are starting to flower now.
I found this interesting recipe to enjoy those spring onions. Ilhan like prawns and bread very much, so I thought it will be something he will enjoyed very much. It is also a good way to finished slice bread quickly before it come to waste when it need to be finished soon. Lenay made this for Ilhan since she is much better at frying coated prawns than me.
Prawn toast (from The Australian Women's Weekly~World Table recipe book)
16 uncooked large prawns (750gram)
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1/4 cup (35gram) cornflour/cornstarch
8 thick slices white bread
1 green onion (spring onions), chopped finely (personally I think it will be much better if those spring onions not finely slice, maybe1~2cm)
vegetable oil, for deep frying

Sweet chilli dipping sauce (combine ingredients in small bowl)
1/4 cup (60ml) sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) chicken stock
2 teaspoons soy sauce

~Shell and devein prawns, leaving tail intact (I don't keep the tail to make easier for my kids to eat). Cut lenthways along backs of prawns, without separating halves. Toss flattened prawns in medium bowl with combined egg and cornflour; mix well.
~Remove and discard crusts from bread, cut each slice in half. Place one prawn, cut-side down, on each piece of bread; gently flatten prawn onto bread. Sprinkle prawns with onion; press on firmly.
~Heat oil in large wok; carefully lower toast; in batches, into hot oil.
~Deep fry until browned lightly and cooked through; drain on absorbent paper.
~Meanwhile, make sweet chilli diping sauce.
~Serve prawn with dipping sauce.
This can be good to bring for picnic as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Aphids Vacuum Cleaner

Last week, I gave a talk for the "3rd Australia Sex Summit" conference at Yarra Valley, Victoria. The title is a bit misleading. To avoid misunderstanding what the conference objective and purpose was really about. Let me clarify, this is purely scientific academic purposes. It is mainly on the evolutionary, biology, genetic about sex chromosomes,  sex determination and sex differentiation for gonadal development, or disease that is associated with it. I was really nervous. The first few slides when I was explaining it, I think it was obvious that I was shaking. I found it a bit intimidating at first since I have to talk in front of expertise in this field. It was exciting to meet them as well since for years I have been reading about their findings and papers.
Earlier this month, I noticed that our dill and some other plants were badly infested with aphids. I got very annoyed as those aphids have been mainly aiming on the parts that are developing seeds. Spraying with chilli water did not have any effect at all. Before I left for the conference, I noticed that they were some ladybirds on the plant. Those ladybirds were doing a great job of eliminating those pest. I think it was really a grand banquet that those ladybirds enjoyed.  Relying on those ladybirds will save money and friendly to the environment and us.
Close inspection shows that the nearest part of ladybirds has reduced number of aphids compared to other place. After I returned, the number of aphids on the dill plants were significantly reduce. They did a wonderful job. I think in just a few days only 25% original numbers of aphids remained now.
I hope this is a fruitful union with many offspring!
Bees are getting a bit drunk these days in the garden.
This is the first time I have seen a blue sky banded bee in our garden. It was really difficult to get a good shot of this bees as it does not stop that long. I hope you can see how blue those bands are. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Green Beans with Sesame Sauce

We harvested all over-wintered parsnip and carrots grown in container last week. Those carrot root centre/core are about to be woody so it was better to harvested all of them. We also harvested some broccoli. Yellow currant cherry tomatoes plants from last year starts to be so generous with producing many tomatoes now. I was very amazed to observe that the number of fruits dangling on the plant at the moment surpassed last year peak season of this plant. On top of that the fruit size were bigger as well. Beans were becoming a constant thing on the kitchen table.
A very fast healthy dish to prepare with beans last weekend was a basic classic Japanese home-cooking dish which is green beans with sesame sauce. I got this recipe from chef Yoshihiro Murata's Japanese Home Cooking with Master Chef Murata cooking book. It took less than 15 minutes to prepare this dish.
Green Beans with Sesame Sauce
170g young green beans cut into ~4cm (cook in boiling water with a pinch of salt until tender but still crisp, shock in cold water and drain)
Sesame dressing:
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp soy sauce (because I prefer strong taste or 'koi aji' I used 3 tsp soy sauce)
1 tsp sugar

Chop the sesame seeds with a knife (I did not chopped the sesame seeds) and combine with soy sauce and sugar in a medium bowl to make sesame sauce. Dress the green beans with the sauce.

The first harvest of Lebanese eggplant for this spring from our 2 years old plant. Asian leaf green like red choi were also harvested and it ain't look pretty. The poppy flower stalk can even go through the holes on the leaves.
This spring I have not started to sow any leaf amaranth seeds. However, we have many volunteers growing in different containers that we even got a bunch of leaf amarant harvest last week. Last weekend we harvested one of the last cauliflowers for this year for us.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sweet Pea Life-cycle (Seeds Give-Away)

I got some sweet pea seeds earlier this year from our local seed-saver group meetings. Those seeds germinated so well on clay soil of our garden and were lucky not be eaten at all from dreaded pests. Starting last month, we started to collect these sweet pea seeds. Some of the seeds will be travelling to Phoebe's Ballynoe Cottage. We also will like to share these sweet pea seeds to make a new home in 3 gardens anywhere on this planet earth (randomly from comments).
Drying seed pods.
Direct-sowed sweet pea seedlings.
Very fragrant bright red sweet pea flowers.
When I look up at the clear blue sky under the arch, I imagine many colourful butterfly dancing.
We let the flowers to develop into pods to collect seeds later.
Although it is not the season for tree dahlia to bloom, we had a few flower blooming during this spring season.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Finocchio Frittata

We have been very lucky with growing finocchio this year, I have no complaint at all about growing this plant. It grows well without any pampering or much attention. But I will say that it is not a vegetable that can make you fall in love with it at first sight regarding taste. It is definitely one of the vegetables that is an acquired taste. To be honest, I don't hate or like this vegetables at the first month I started to harvest them. But now I started to really like and enjoy them. It is all after trying different recipes and experimenting what combination goes well with finocchio. I found out that finocchio really goes along well with mixing them with lemon juice.
 This is one of the recipes that I tried with florence fennel. This is also the first time I used ricotta cheese in my cooking...I like the taste of this cheese blended in the mixture of this frittata.
Finocchio Fritters (Recipe from The Australian Women's Weekly-Fast Vegies)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh fennel
1 medium fennel bulb (500gram), chopped finely
3 green onions (spring onions), chopped finely
1 small carrot (70gram), grated finely
2 eggs, beaten lightly
75g ricotta cheese
1/4 cup (35g) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
vegetable oil, for shallow frying (used olive oil)

~Combine fennel leaves and bulb, onion, carrot, egg, cheese, flour and baking powder in medium bowl, mix well.
~Heat oil in large frying pan; shallow-fry heaped tablespoons of mixture until golden brown both sides and cooked through. Flatten slightly during cooking, drain on absorbent paper.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Growing Finocchio in container

Well-grown finocchio can have very big roots. However, it does grow well in medium size pots. The shallowest pot so far that we have success growing finocchio is about 25cm. This year we did succession sowing of finocchio from end March until June. None of the seedlings bolted. All of it produces bulb even the ones grown in shades.
Germination of the seeds was also almost 100% during the sowing period we did for growing in cool season. I sowed some seeds in containers, which left one undisturbed to grow in pot and the rest transplanted on the veggie patch.
I had to use a lot of strength to pull this one out from the pot.
More than half of the pots was filled in with roots rather than soil.
Spring-sown finocchio, can be thin out as baby fennels. One of the last-batches of finocchio that will be harvested in the near future.
The biggest finocchio that we grown in container so far weight about 950gram.
This is one of the new vegetables that we tried growing this year and will happily grow them again.
I gave some of finocchio produce to my parents last September and my mother made some finocchio juice.
I forgot to ask how the juice she made taste like.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Malaysia fast side-dish

Our first batch of Mid/Late-August sowed Redland Pioneer bush bean started to produce many beans to pick last week and we shared some with our neighbour. Some Pak choi, sprouting broccoli and leek were also harvested last week.
We made a quick dish of Stir-fry beef and bean with black been sauce. I am not that much a fan of beans but I have to admit I enjoyed it because those bean tasted sweet. Moreover, unexpectedly my boys like to eat home-grown and home-cooked bean. 
Crushed 2 cloves garlic and and inch of ginger. Heat a little oil in the wok for frying about 300gram of slice beef. Fry the beef first till tender. Lift it up. Then saute garlic and ginger. Add in beef, bean or some carrot or leek and mix well with about 5 tablespoon of black bean sauce in the wok till those bean cooked. For seasoning, I add a spoon of sugar. A fast food to prepare on a busy day to enjoy together with a bowl of steamed rice.
Harvested some few remaining over-wintered carrots and beetroots.

My cousin Lenay surprised me by using beetroot in one of Malaysia traditional dish popular in Negeri Sembilan state where my father grew up. It is a very easy to make and well-loved dish that I think mama will at least cook it once a week for the family. The dish is known as "Berlada" basically means any spicy fried food coated with chilli paste. You can used fresh or dried chili and blended it well into paste for the basic ingredient. Usually fried anchovies will be mixed together with fried fermented soy bean (tempe) or potato or nuts with chili paste. This is Lenay version of ikan bilis, ubi kentang dan beetroot masak berlada ( Spicy anchovies, potato and beetroot).
Prepare chilli paste ( I usually keep a container of chilli paste from dried chilli in fridge that last me for 2 weeks, or pound 5~7 big chillies well this will depend on the chilli variety hotness you are going to use).
Cut 1 beetroot and 1 big potato size into wedges and fried them separately until a little crispy. A half bowl of fried anchovies.
Heat some oil into the wok, not too much oil or it will be oily. It will be very much depended on how many spoon of chilli paste you want to use. Maybe oil and chili paste ratio should be 1:1. To be on the safer side the amount of oil should be a little bit less than the the chilli. Add in chilli paste (about 3 tablespoon), cook and stir until the oil starts to come out at the side or fragrant. You know it will be ready if you start to sneeze. Then add in fried anchovies, beetroot and potatoes. Stir to coat them with chilli paste evenly. Enjoy with steamed rice. I found another way to cook beetroot that I like thanks to Lenay. 
I cleared a pot of polystyrene container that were growing excess seedlings of brown onions because it look more like spring onions now. I doubt it will produce decent bulb. We also harvested a cauliflower. Just had it for dinner and it was so crisp and sweet.
What to do with those look-alike spring onions.
Well mostly for garnishing.
We used those spring onions to garnish sesame honeyed-fried prawn.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pea season Officially Over

Sigh...no more pea harvest for us this year. All the plants had withered as we had several hot days here. It was not a  successful pea season for us this year compared previous years. But my boys managed to eat peas for lunch and dinner everyday during pea harvest season in our garden which made meal time a lot more easier. They be less fussy with their meal if we mix it with peas. Now, I have to think of a new vegetables that can be my boys favourite green food. Rayyan eats anything so its not a problem. However, the big brother Ilhan when he turns 4 years old, he changed to be a bit picky on what is in his plate.
Telephone pea bloom.
We have been growing Telephone peas for 3 years and it has always been the best producer in our garden. Telephone pea is a climbing pea. We got to collect some seeds barely enough for next sowing season. Many of the seeds germinate in the pods before we can dry and store seeds properly.
We grow purple-podded peas for the first time this year. The flower bloom is pretty. However, for us it is less prolific and got sick easily in our garden environment. We think that telephone peas taste much sweeter than purple-podded peas.
We usually grow climbing peas for saving space reason. This year we tried growing bush peas 'Massey Gem' that did not performed at all, almost complete failure. We would like to try a new variety next season which I hope we will made a good decision on suitable peas for our garden with the next order. Any suggestion? Growing different variety is like an investment, some do well this year some not. Different variety of peas has  different genetic strain and the climate is ever-changing year after year.