Sunday, October 26, 2014

Summer flowers and good bugs

With 40°C predicted for today it feels like summer is well and truly here, a full month early.

My garden is buzzing with bugs, beetles, wasps and bees which can only be a good thing. I have worked hard on incorporating flowers into the vegetable patch to keep our bug friends happy and add some colour.  Randomly scattered sunflowers are not far away from flowering.

Cosmos flowers always make me smile. 

Coriander is another favourite and it grows here almost all year round.  The delicate flowers are a bonus and at the end of the cycle I find collecting the seed quite therapeutic. 

These tall, slender Alliums look like mini sculptures as they reach for the sky.  I cannot remember what variety they are so when they finally open their buds it will be a surprise.

It certainly feels like summer with these vibrant zucchini flowers quietly opening underneath the green leaves of the variety Long Florence.  According to the Diggers Club this particular variety has some of the largest flowers.  The ants and bugs are enjoying these too and that makes me happy.  

Does it feel like summer where you are?

What are you observing in the garden?

Wishing you a restful Sunday friends x

Friday, October 10, 2014


Our eldest, Annabelle, celebrated her eighth birthday with a picnic in the bush.  Along with our neighbours and one set of grandparents we shared cake and a simple fire cooked dinner.  To add a touch of spring and celebration to the occasion we created this flower table entirely from wild flowers, bits from the garden and recycled containers. 

I experiment a lot with bread but sometimes it is great to get back to the plain white sourdough loaves that started my bread journey.  Every time I bake bread, particularly in the wood oven I learn something new or take away a little bit of extra knowledge.

Our current horse situation has outgrown this little horse yard.  I have decided to put this space to use and plant it up with summer vegetables.  In particular, pumpkins which have a habit of completely overrunning my actual vegetable garden.  It is the perfect space as it has previously been fertilised by horses, it is fenced securely and there is a water supply.  It doesn't look like much now but watch this space.  

Meanwhile, back in the actual vegetable garden this Long Florence zucchini is progressing well.  

Thyme is just so delicate and pretty isn't it?

Home grown asparagus, eggs and coriander.  Simple ingredients with so much potential to be turned into something tasty. 

Happy Friday friends, I hope you have had a lovely week! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

In My Kitchen, October 2014

Wild flowers from my love; all secretly picked in the paddock while he was out and about checking sheep and tanks.

I have found a shortcrust pastry recipe that has helped to boost my pastry making confidence.  It started with lamb shank and chickpea pies made from a previous lamb shank dinner.

With the off-cuts I made small jam tarts.

We have been picking leafy, green bouquets of celery.  Home grown celery is almost as good as a bunch of flowers don’t you think?

A slab of chocolate brownie and a batch of chewy rolled oat and sultana biscuits to keep hungry workers and children nourished.  

One afternoon I had a quiet, creative moment in the garden and dreamt up these mini skewers made from rosemary and olive twigs.  Later, I used them to skewer chocolate dipped strawberries for a special birthday celebration.

Indulgent yet easy to make, this dark chocolate and cinnamon scroll covered in a shower of icing sugar proved popular in our house.  The recipe came from the winter issue of Fete magazine which has been added to my list of favourite reading material.  

Are you cooking or growing or creating?  I hope so!

As always I am linking up with Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  Thanks for hosting this fun kitchen tour Celia.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Shearing sheep

In September we shear our sheep in a flurry of mustering, red dust, extra workers, excited sheep dogs, sandwiches and thermoses.

Each shearing season brings a distinct buzz, excitement and smell that makes this time memorable.  As I watch our children helping in the sheep yards, negotiating the paddocks on their small motorbike and poking their noses into the shearer’s smoko box, the memories of shearing from my childhood are almost identical.

It all starts with woolly sheep.  

A morning smoko break in the paddock.  Time for refueling motorbikes, coffee, something to eat, a smoke for some and a quiet moment.

The sheep are drafted and moved through the yards and dust towards the woolshed. 

Skillful shearers and wool handlers make the job look easy.

The cook plays a major role in keeping hungry workers fueled up with no-nonsense, hearty food. 

When the job is done the wool is carefully loaded onto local trucks and sent to market. 

Just like that the woolshed is cleaned up and silent and it is all over for another year. 

I hope you are having a lovely Sunday.  

If you happen to be in the mood for a little more woolly action click here.  Our shearing contractor has a website full of videos, photos and footage of all things sheep and shearers.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Botanical art in the outback

It is quite rare for me to receive an invitation, from an artist, to attend the opening of an exhibition.  Also, art exhibitions are not particularly frequent in the quiet outback town of Menindee.  When Anne Lawson kindly asked me to join the gathering for tea and cake I quickly accepted and made plans accordingly.  The interesting thing is, I did not receive this invitation through a mail out or a flyer from the local service station or pub.  Instead, Anne found me through my blog.  Once again the power and reach of blogging amazes me. 

Anne is a member of a group of botanical artists who each year, gather in Menindee to collect and paint the plants that the botanical collector, Dr Hermann Beckler collected while he was at the supply camp of the Burke and Wills Expedition, in 1860.  

The thirty botanical artworks on display are so incredibly intricate.  I can only imagine the patience and attention to detail required by these talented artists.  Thank you for the invitation Anne, it was lovely to meet you.  

You can read more about it here or visit Beckler's Botanical blog

The artwork in the photo below was made by a local resident using recycled materials. For my friends who love enamel, note the old cup, cleverly used at the bottom of the frame.  

This exhibition is currently being held at the Menindee tourist information centre.  Last time I visited this building it was a small, independent supermarket.  It is nice to see that this space has been given a revamp and a colourful new life. 

While we were in Menindee with art on our minds, the kids and I visited a newly unveiled mural, painted by local artist Geoff De Main.  The mural depicts the early characters and images of the local area.  

What is not to love about a midweek outing for a little cake, art, conversation and local history?

I hope you are having a lovey week, friends.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fire, ribs and family

Lately, we have spent our Saturday evenings at a dam on our property.  We throw together a simple dinner of meat, bread, a basic salad and some cold beer.  It feels like a mini escape without spending any money, making any bookings or needing to change out of our farm clothes.    

It is a perfect spot to grill some home raised lamb ribs.  

The kids like to eat them cave man style, is there any other way?

The high bank is a perfect place to watch the sunset.

A few nervous sheep occasionally trot down the steep bank for a drink.   

There was a tiny flame burning on a marshmallow, shedding just enough light on a little nose before it was blown out and the whole thing was demolished.  

With nothing but the frogs and the fire to listen to we poke sticks in the fire and watch the moon and stars.  Then we head home for hot showers and an early night. 

Do you have a favourite mini escape? 

Happy Sunday friends.  I hope you are enjoying the spring sunshine.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

In My Kitchen, September 2014

My kitchen is home to a gleaming, modern coffee machine which I love like a member of the family. But, when I spotted this stove top coffee pot in a second hand shop recently it had my name on it.  I can see this being useful for a crowd, particularly when coffee is required in the great outdoors.   

Cinnamon, brown sugar and walnut scrolls because some days I need to bring out the big guns for morning tea.  I think we ate more of this than our guests, such is life. Recipe adapted from here

The following photos were all taken in our outdoor kitchen.

Boots warming by the fire during some very welcome rain.  

A display of old enamel cups and part of a soup ladle, all found in the paddocks on our property over the years.  I always wonder about the stories behind these hardy pieces of kitchen equipment.  

My interpretation of Turkish bread emerging from the wood oven.

Camembert cheese made by hand by my friend, Paula.  This girl has serious cooking and cheese making talent.  Thank you Paula, I savoured every velvety mouthful.

Are you cooking or enjoying some rain or perhaps eating a nice piece of cheese?

Have a lovely week, friends.

As always I am linking up with Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial