Birds

A few posts ago I mentioned the quilt I made for Josh…

well it’s just gone through a very traumatic day, first with Tomas, then with black cockatoos!

First, a nappy changing disaster had Darryn scrubbing and spraying a small stain out of a hand stitched animal. I hung it out on the line to dry. That afternoon I went out to bring in the washing… to find the quilt… the white side of the quilt… TOTALLY covered in dark purple bird poo!!!

Let the scrubbing begin!

Compost

Didn’t ever think I’d get excited about compost… but Josh summed it up after I explained how compost works… “So worms eat our old food and turn it into dirt so we can grow more food? Mummy that’s amazing”.

So I’d been prowling around the grounds looking for the perfect compost site and believed I’d found it… WRONG!

The side of the wood store looked perfect – close to the orchard and proposed veggie patch and at the northern section of the property – so nice and warm. I’d like to build a three bay compost system eventually, so the space was adequate. As my kitchen compost bin was overflowing and being explored by Tomas, I had to make a temporary pile so decided to hack back the pesky unknown vine that was choking the fence and what I thought might be a struggling infant peach tree. I wasn’t gentle.

I was then ready to plonk down some sugar cane mulch on top of the fallen autumn leaves, but fortunately remembered the magic compost ingredient… soil! So I raked back the leaves and dug down a little so I could use this soil in the compost….. it was then I found the sewer. Fortunately we happened to have a plumber at the house fixing taps so got him to come and check it out… yep the access to the sewer line, that could have got veeeery messy! Tip for beginners, always check what is under those leaves!!!

Looks like I’m moving the compost over and will totally lose that pesky sprawling vine…. what’s that Daz? A rambling rose? Hmmmm, guess it just got its winter prune… and I’m looking for a new home for the compost and a plant identification book!!!

One BIG tree

WOA! Guess what, we are keeping that HUGE pine tree in our front yard! It is BIG. Now I’m not talking large, or slightly tall, I’m talking BIG… HUGE.  We are a little concerned however to it’s safety – not sure if it’s healthy and likely to drop limbs? It is over 100 years old, it blocks a lot of sun from parts of the property, takes up a lot of our front lawn and allows nothing to grow below it… but we’re keeping it. There are between 10,000 and 20,000 reasons (insert “dollars”) to keep it we’ve found out. OUCH!

UPDATE – We have since found out that the tree is in fact in good health – phew – and I’m becoming rather attached to it. The grandfather of the garden.

Small Joys

It’s been a busy week with friends and family popping in for over night visits to check out our new home. With two birthdays to celebrate, a farewell to cry over and a house to be warmed, there were lots of cozy fires and one messy winter kitchen full of scrumptious flavours.

There always seemed to be a pot of pumpkin or french onion soup bubbling away on the slow combustion stove, soaked up with freshly baked bread,  banana or raspberry and white chocolate muffins popping up in the oven,  a spinach and bacon quiche browning away next to a rhubarb, berry and apple crumple. All washed down with plenty of warming cups of tea.

‘Cups of tea’ brings me to my LOVE of the little draws in the kitchen – perfect for my wide collection of yummy herbal teas!

If you’re up for a few winter warmers… here are my recipes…

Pumpkin Soup

Brown one leek and garlic in olive oil, add 4 chopped carrots, 4 diced potatos and half a pumpkin (diced). Add lots of chicken or vegetable stock (making sure all vegetables are covered in liquid), and herbs – I use sage, rosemary and a few bay leaves. Let this simmer away until everything is very soft…. then blend (remove bay leaves before blending!). I use a bar mix so I can blend in the pot it’s cooking in.

Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of parsley. YUM!

Banana muffins

These are my stock standard muffins that I could probably whip up blindfolded, (I know my sister is going to hold me to that one day). I can highly recommend them as delicious, easy, moist and versatile (I use the same mix for a lovely moist banana cake!).

Mash 2 large or 3 normal bananas. Add 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix in 50 grms of melted butter, one egg and a generous dash of vanilla essence. Stir in one cup of flour with a half a teaspoon of bicarb soda.  Done. Pour into muffin tray – will make around 12. Bake at 180 degrees until golden brown.

(For an added treat, pop a choc. button on top just before popping into the oven).

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Heat oven to 180 degrees. Mix 2cups of SR flour and 3/4 cup of caster sugar in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix 1 tsp of vanilla essence, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of oil. Pour this into the flour mix and stir – until just combined.

Roughly chop up 1 cup of white chocolate (I use a nut free brand of chocolate for Josh who is allergic to nuts) and at to mix along with 1 cup of frozen raspberries.  Now put into muffin tray (these portions usually make 11 … I know, not 12… but it never does?!)… and bake for 12-15 mins, or until golden – YUMMY!!!

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Cook one thinly sliced onion, 4 rashes of bacon and a bunch of spinach – I do these separately in the microwave and make sure most of the liquid is drained of after steaming.

Wisk 5 eggs and half a standard tub of sour cream – add the onion, bacon and spinach – oh and throw in lots of fresh herbs from the garden (I use whatever needs to be picked – thyme, oregano, chives, spring onions etc).

Pour into well greased quiche pan – alternatively you can line it first with puff pastry.

Bake at 180 degrees until golden brown.

Apple, Rhubarb and Berry crumble

Steam one apple (peeled and diced) and a bunch of rhubarb with a few heaped spoons of brown sugar.

Prepare crumble – rub plain flour into softened butter and add a little brown sugar and oats. Amounts are depended on how big your dish is. My amounts always vary – if I make too much I keep left over crumble mix in the freezer for the next crumbling occasion.

Pour stewed apple and rhubarb into dish, scatter mixed berries over the top and then cover with the crumble. Bake at 180 degrees until crumble is well cooked and the mix below is bubbling through and your house is filled with the most delicious aroma!

Bread – I use a bread maker. So easy – just throw in all the ingredients and three hours later you can float away on the delicious scent of freshly baked bread… YUM!!!

Beetroot Salad

I’m loving this salad at the moment. Diced beetroot (either roast your own fresh beetroot or use tinned), cream cheese and baby spinach, beetroot leaves and other baby lettuce leaves.

For a dressing I pour over honey, lemon juice and olive oil.

ENJOY!!!

Birds and Bikes

Cycling home from the boys childcare centre as the sun was starting to slump into the western hills I saw in the dying shafts of light and in the exhillerated faces of my children, why we have moved to the ‘country’…. open spaces, quality time with family, fresh air and natural beauty.

We’ve started to explore our new surrounds by bike – boys in baby seats on the back – their little bodies swaddled in mittens, scarves and helmets. You see so many more details when you’re traveling at bike speed (I’m searching for fence, gate and garden inspiration), you get a cheery greeting from locals, and all the while… exercise! The Bong Bong track that encircles Bowral is only a couple of blocks from our house, so very excited about future adventures.

One of the real treats of the area, and very pleasingly our home, is the abundance of bird life. We’ve been visited by flocks of white cockatoos, galahs, currawongs, magpies, kookaburras, a hungry butcher bird, many types of colourful parrots and my absolute favourite…. a huge flock of  about 30 yellow tail black cockatoos wield their way around the skies above our home at least once a day… sometimes on three or four occasions. They love the large Liquid Amber that drapes over the back of our house and the tall stand of pines on the boundary. Their screeches are quite haunting and archaic, you could almost expect a large triceratops to appear over the horizon.  To have these special creatures around is so precious and every time their calls scratch their way through my day, it brings a smile to my face.