It’s official. Stevie-boy turned 50 on Tuesday. He celebrated his day by helping a friend make a patio and had a very rich pie that was 2 days in the making with pastry (pate brisee) that could kill a lesser man (a ratio of almost equal proportions flour to fat) and a deceptively simple looking “cake” that contained 600g of chocolate. I figure he thought if he was going to hit 50, he may as well do it in style. He says he doesn’t feel a day older and he doesn’t look it either so he’s quite happy with achieving his half century mark.
Luxury 50th birthday pie
It’s not pretty but apparently it tasted amazing. Lots left for post 50th birthday snarfing
Looks decievingly demure but this baby has 600g of chocolate and a lot of brandy hidden in this innocent exterior
Birthday booze. Cheers Stewart and Kelsey for the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz :)
I had a request to post the recipes for the vegan brownies and the zucchini and lemon curd recipes from Yelana of the gorgeous food blog Cooking Melangery in a recent comment. Yelena shares food from her home country Russia but lives in the U.S. Her blog is amazing. Incredibly beautiful photography, wonderful recipes and Yelena herself is a wonderful person. I couldn’t resist! So here they are just for you Yelena :)
Note you really don’t need the butter in the zucchini cream recipe but it does add an authentic “curd” texture and taste to the recipe
I may as well go whole hog and share a recipe from Amy’s amazing blog Fragrant Vanilla Cake that is vegan, contains both zucchini and lemons and is absolutely scrumptious. Everything that Amy makes is amazing. If you like healthy, delicious food, go and have a look at Amy’s amazing site
It’s the middle of summer here in Australia and most of us are scratching our heads trying to work out what to do with zucchini’s so I thought that Yelena’s request might just be of benefit to some of you out there who are heartily sick of all things zucchini to find something else interesting to make with it.
This is one section of one of our insect hotels that I made a few years ago for our native insects. I checked it the other day and noticed that something is using it and that it is plugging up the holes with wattle leaves.
Stewart and Kelsey came to visit on Saturday afternoon and brought me a few kilos of satsuma plums from their back yard tree. I decided to dehydrate them. First you stone and slice them
Then you load up your dehydrator sheets with slices
Once they are dehydrated you add them to your stash in the pantry. The plums are in the bottle on the left. The rest of these are dehydrated cherries
I often have serendipitous moments where something I have learned or researched suddenly pops into my head when I see something else. Today I was scrolling down my Facebook feed and noticed an article about a plant called Mullein (Verbascum thapsus). FINALLY I have a name for the plant that came up in the garden, all by itself and that keeps on keeping on no matter what. It moved into the “lawn” (along with the 2 blackwood saplings) and strutted it’s, not inconsiderable, stuff. It grew to almost 11 ft tall and I had a feeling that it was useful so rather than chop it down (or mow it…that’s what you are supposed to do with lawns isn’t it? ;) ) I let it go and now I dare say we are going to have a lovely mullein explosion on Serendipity Farm. I don’t care. I am in the process of letting my globe artichokes go to seed so that I can save some to share and sprinkle them all over the place. It’s the same thing that keeps me planting out little patches of Jerusalem artichokes in sheltered spots where the grazing wallabies can’t chew them down to the ground. I love food and herb plants that don’t need molly-coddling and that just get on with it in our long dry summers. Here’s an article about how valuable mullein is in our gardens…
The strawberry water wicked boat is keeping these strawberries nice and moist and they are all very happy that they migrated to the good ship strawberry. I even have some new fruit being produced.
It’s a foolish man that lays on the floor when there are dogs around ;)
This is what your hair looks like if you get your hair wet when you have a plait and you don’t take the plait out for 2 days ;)
Serendipity Farm from the deck this morning. Another glorious mild summers day 2015 :)
I was looking at Gumtree the other day and saw this ad for a spinning wheel for $100 in Launceston
Look what now lives at narf’s house :) Thank you SO much Stewart and Kelsey for picking it up and bringing it out for me
I am learning to appreciate “weeds” for their tenacity as well as their actual uses. Spear thistles are not just there to spike me mercilessly whenever I attempt to go down to the second garden (obviously I want to have a mental breakdown…), blackberries have many uses that their thorny angst would bely. Most of our common weeds are European edibles that we just see as pests. I think it’s important to know that “weeds” can also tell you about your soil conditions and tend to be the fixer-upperers of the soil web. Nature knows what she is doing, it’s just us that keep wanting to interject with our obviously superior wisdom ;)
Black radish flowers. Once they go to seed I will collect the seed. Note, these black radishes were very hot and spicy. If you like your radishes mild, these might not be a good variety for you to grow
It’s a jungle of tomatoes in Sanctuary. Most of this mass tangle is tomatoes. I am going to have to learn how to prune tomatoes one of these days!
Curly kale and red Russian kale babies that survived being planted at the wrong time and that haven’t bolted to seed as I planted them in a shady spot. Fingers crossed I might get some kale!
More mass tangle but at least it is green and most of it appears to be flowering and producing tomatoes
I found this tiny little tomato growing in among the strawberries in one of the pots that I transplanted into the strawberry boat so he got potted up with this chive plant for companionship. I am a champion of the underdog and even though it is probably WAY too late for this little tomato to be productive, who cares, he was tenacious so he gets to live :)
My moringa’s growing like topsy
My cherimoyas enjoying the sunshine
This is a King orchid. I never realised that it is an Australian native orchid but all I know is it was dad’s “beer orchid” and he only ever watered it with the dregs from his cans of beer. We are going to mount it on the tree to the right of this image in sphagnum moss to make it happy
This bit of the garden looks a bit more “normal” as veggie gardens go. Still chaotic but you can at least see a bit of variety. The pots of artichokes are growing really well now
It’s been a most wonderful week on Serendipity Farm. We had some rain and our temperatures are in the low to mid 20’s (celcius). Life has been very good to us in 2015. The rest of this blog post is going to be in comments. I hope you enjoy the garden and other images and can feel a bit of our lovely sunshiny summer in them. Have a scrumptious week. I am animating some sourdough starter that was sent to me by the amazing Ms Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (isn’t that a lovely name? :) ). Ms Celia’s sourdough is called Priscilla and we, the lucky recipients of little packets of Priscilla, were urged to incorporate something of her name in our new starters names. I decided that I wanted to take back sourdough baking in my kitchen this year. I have dabbled in sourdough before with very mixed results (vinegar brick loaves) so I needed a name for my new starter that was going to waylay my fears and give me a fearless attitude. I came up with Godscilla and hope that my starter lives up to it’s lofty name.
Some of the many sprays of tomatoes that my 2 San Marzano tomatoes are producing. Hopefully we get lots of ripe ones so that I can turn them into amazing sauce :)
My pepino’s have had lots of flowers but haven’t set any fruit this year. It can’t be for lack of pollinators as there are bees all over them. Maybe they are a bit overwhelmed by the close proximity of the ever present tomato clan? Any ideas Bev?
My 4 turmeric plants planted out into what was a horse manure pile last year. It is now amazingly black soil that retains moisture well. Hopefully the turmeric like it here
My poor long suffering cardamom plants finally got planted out. They are already starting to grow new leaves and I can almost hear them saying “thank GOODNESS!” ;)
One of the tomatillo babies that I planted out into the first of the new veggie gardens a few weeks ago. Everything is starting to take of in the new garden beds but the tomatillos are galloping away and some are even flowering. I will be most interested to see what they look like when they fruit.
These are my terracotta pots that I used to have cactus and succulents in. There are still a few in the pots but the pots have a new use, to stop the hose from invading the garden bed. They are doing a great job :)
My cucamelons (aka mouse melons) have flowers! You can see the tiny fruit forming behind the flower
My pumpkins are fruiting all over the place. Without the possums chewing the fruit as they form it looks like I might get a lot of fruit this year :)
The new red currant grape that we picked up from Bunnings the other day. I am saving up for a red finger lime now but that’s a LOT more expensive than my little red currant grape ;)
A close up of one of my grown from cutting sweet potato vines
That feathery green thing is an asparagus plant that was in one of my strawberry pots so it got transplanted out as well. Nothing goes to waste on Serendipity Farm :)
Looking down from the far back of Sanctuary. It looks a lot neater now we gave it a haircut ;)
I got this succulent from a friend that I met via a Facebook page I have just started to follow.
She also gave me these amazingly HUGE figs and a promise that I can take some cuttings in winter. Aren’t they gorgeous?
This is Shrek. I bought him when he was in a teeny tiny pot and he is one of the only succulents that the ducks weren’t partial to so he lived to find a home in Sanctuary
The colour of the flower tends to be the colour of the potato under the ground. I am hoping these adventitious spuds that grew from the compost bucket are pink eyes :)
Myer lemon futures :)
A pot full of oca and very healthy leaves. I am going to have to work out a place to make them a garden bed but for now they are in a nice big pot and seem happy enough to grow there for the moment.
Steve captured this native hyacinth orchid (Dipodium punctatum) growing up next to the chook yard beautifully. I tried about 20 times but every shot was blurry. I guess sometimes you just have to know when to fold em’! ;)
Steve’s new camera is giving him a lot of happiness. He is taking some seriously lovely photos with it.
Like this one
And this one. He did use a polarising filter with this one though
He took this photo from the small jetty at the boat ramp just down the road from us
And this one of my ingenious ability to drink beer when I can’t use my hands because they were sticky with cherry juice
And after a while, when your husband insists on taking “urban degradation” shots from every industrial area known to man you develop a stoic resilience and just smile and wave whenever you are told to ;)
I was going to have this corner shower unit as a pond in Sanctuary but now that the strawberry wicking beds are doing so well, I might make it a water wicked bed for cranberries.
This is our walnut tree. This year we mulched underneath it with hay from Glad’s place next door. It seems to be much happier than it usually is but then again, we have had a much milder season this year with a lot more rain so I can’t be sure.
Walnut sap is incredibly full of bitter tannins. That doesn’t stop the wallabies from stripping all of the leaves that they can reach from the ground. I think they must have cast iron stomachs!
These are some of the tea trees (Melaleuca alternifolia) at the front of our block. We have about an acre of them growing and a new friend on the “Fans of Grassroots Magazine” page that I am now following on Facebook has just told me how to extract tea tree oil from them if we ever choose to. I am learning SO much from that page! :)
Earl (Mr Big Head) surveying his drive way
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum tee-hee!) are incredibly hardy and drought tolerant. This clump grows down the driveway and never gets watered. They pop up all over the place and unlike their unwanted friends the osteospermum (Margerita) daisies, I really like them :)
Part of the jungle we call a “garden” at the front of the house on the side of the driveway. The canna lily is growing really well and I picked up a few more pots of them to add to the mix. I love anything that grows well with no water and that has pretty flowers and edible roots. It all adds up to a win-win situation for Serendipity Farm :)
We still have green grass in the middle of summer! It has been a very mild summer this year and I love it! :)
Here’s my little packet of Priscilla promise. She is an 8 year old starter that works like magic. I am hoping that she will rub off her glorious possibilities onto my hereto pathetic sourdough baking efforts on Serendipity Farm. Her new name is Godscilla and long may she reign in the kitchen! Wish me luck folks, I am going in! :)
And so we arrive at the end of another week on Serendipity Farm. So far, 2015 has been a glorious year and we have enjoyed it a lot. I will have hopefully had a go at spinning the alpaca fleece that I have sitting in my spare room by the next time we meet and I can show you what my efforts look like but I am not promising anything! Have a wonderful week whatever you are doing and wherever you are in the world. See you next week on Serendipity Farm :)