Tuesday, 26 February 2013


there's no doubt that relocating my summer vegetables from my north facing garden to the south has been a success because i'm overrun with vegetables even though relatives, friends and neighbours have been keen recipients

every few days i'm picking half a dozen or more cucumbers
1-2 kilos of beans and tomatoes
several monster zucchinis
i have about 20 eggplant ready to pick

picked this morning

free to a good home..pick up only!

Monday, 25 February 2013

rose geranium and blackberry spanish creams

spanish cream was one of the few summer sweets my mother used to make for me and my siblings when we were young..i remember liking the texture of it but being a bit ambivalent about its flavour..i was disappointed to find i felt the same when i made it myself once many many decades ago..the memory of it and a desire to make it again remained in the recesses of my mind until today when i was thinking about how i might best use some close to 'use by date' milk..i experimented by infusing rose geranium leaves in the milk and putting blackberry jelly mixed with chambord in the base of the moulds..

rose geranium and blackberry spanish creams
serves 6
adapted from here


550 mls full cream milk ( i used unhomogenised organic) 
50 mls double cream
3 tablespoons (tbs) castor sugar
5-6 rose geranium leaves washed and dried
5 leaves gold strength gelatine 
3 eggs separated
blackberry jelly
6 blackberries 


~ wet the moulds, shake out excess water and place 2 teaspoons (tsp) of blackberry jelly and 1 tsp chambord in the base of each mould 
~ place the milk, cream and the rose geranium leaves in a saucepan and bring the mixture to the boil stirring to prevent scorching
~ remove from the heat and add sugar stirring until dissolved
~ remove the geranium leaves
~ beat egg yolks and add about 1/2 cup of hot milk/cream a little at a time* while stirring 
~ strain the egg/milk mix into the remaining milk/cream mix 
~ pour the mix into the top of a double boiler and heat** for 3-5 minutes while stirring 
~ cut the gelatine leaves into four and put in a bowl of water for a minute or two until softened
~ remove the pan of milk mix from the heat, add well squeezed gelatine leaves, and stir until dissolved
~ place the pan of custard in an ice bath and stir occasionally until cool
~ once cool beat the egg whites until stiff
~ mix a little of the egg white into the milk and then fold in the remaining egg white
~ divide between the moulds and refrigerate for 2- 3 hours until set


unmould the creams on to serving dishes and garnish with extra blackberry jelly/chambord mix and a blackberry

notes: *   to prevent curdling
          ** do not boil

so what did i think? 

i think the combination of the soft rose geranium flavour and not too sweet custard was complimented by the slight tang of the sweet jelly/chambord

i'll definitely be making it again 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

blackberry clafoutis

we took off east last week to go in search of blackberries again after our meagre pickings out west the previous week..as soon as we arrived at the spot i had in mind we spied the burgeoning bushes..in a short amount of time we filled our containers and we could have continued to pick an almost unlimited amount but we were constrained by a lack of containers and the heat..i've eaten quite a few of the 3 kilos i picked, made a blackberry syrup, frozen about half a kilo and today i made a blackberry clafoutis..

blackberry clafoutis
tea with hazel


350 gms blackberries
330 mls milk
60 gms cooled melted butter
60 gms plain flour
80 gms sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
extra butter
1 tablespoon extra sugar


~ heat oven to 180 deg c
~ butter a 2 litre oven proof shallow dish
~ place berries in the baking dish
~ beat eggs, add flour and butter, and beat well until flour incorporated
~ mix in vanilla, milk and sugar
~ strain mix over berries
~ cook for 30 minutes
~ sprinkle with extra sugar and continue to bake until the top is browned and the custard is just set (mine took 10 more minutes) 


serve warm

i served it with a spoon of double cream and a drizzle of chambord


i don't like clafoutis too heavy or sweet so i have adapted my recipe over time to suit my preferences

Monday, 11 February 2013

it's worth it

they drove north west into the open landscape and were surprised by how dry it was
it didn't rain in january they said 
the blackberry bushes growing close to where she used to live were parched
leaves berries and canes all withering helplessly 
she remembered somewhere else
close to the railway bridge over riddell's creek
a huge oak lovingly arching its massive branches
offering solace from that heartless celestial orb
nestled into the shoulder of the railway embankment
there're only a few small blackberries they said
they picked fingers stained scratched and bleeding
it's worth it they said

from wikipedia

blackberry and elderberry jelly
tea with hazel


blackberries and elderberries* (a fork easily removes elderberries from their stalks)
filtered water


~ wash berries well, pick off any remaining stalks, and drain well
~ place berries in a large saucepan and just cover with water
~ bring to the boil and then simmer gently until the berries are soft
~ once they are soft mash the berries with a potato masher
~ pour the berries and juice into a jelly bag or muslin lined colander placed over a large bowl
~ place in the fridge once cooled and leave to drain for 24 hours (for a clear jelly don't squeeze the bag) 
~ measure the juice and for every 600 mls use 450 gms sugar and the juice, pips and pulp of one lemon
~ wrap the lemon pips and pulp in muslin and tie securely
~ put the berry juice, sugar, lemon juice and muslin sachet in a large saucepan and put on to heat
~ heat gently stirring until the sugar granules dissolve
~ increase heat and boil vigorously until the jelly reaches a good set**
~ pour into sterilised jars***

notes: *   this year, for the first time since i planted my elderberry, i have managed to pick a few umbrels but alone they were not enough to make a jelly so i added them to the blackberry jelly
           **/*** go here for information on jam/jelly set, sterilisation and other useful jam making tips

a lot of effort for only one 750 ml jar of jelly
but it's worth it!

Friday, 8 February 2013

a new ironing board cover

i don't iron much anymore..i used to..in fact i confess to having even ironed my children's socks and undies once..now i really wonder what that was all about but at the time i remember loving the little piles of freshly laundered and ironed clothes..i do still love to see clothes hanging on washing lines..and not just mine but other people's as well..anyway, now i'm hard pressed, so to speak, to bother ironing things that need it..for instance i have been known to drag a shirt from a pile of unfolded washing, give it a cursory shake, and put it on in the hope that by the time i get to wherever i'm going most of the creases will have disappeared from the wearing and those that remain look like ones that developed in the wearing..it's a bad attitude i know but i'm working on it..

a long while back i bought myself a present..it was a hand printed cheerful cherry (i love cherries) ironing board cover (it was a present because i usually make my own) and it made me happy until the elastic started to give..you know the deal..you're ironing away and the wretched thing slips around and you end up totally frustrated..well..that went on for a while..well months really..

i did a big pile of mending recently which i'd put off as much as the ironing but when i actually did it i wondered why i had procrastinated so much because it felt so good to get it done..ties sewn back on aprons and quilt covers, new elastic, repaired holes, buttons sewn back on, hems taken up and so on..and a new ironing board cover..

i used the cherry cover as my template by removing the elastic..that was easy..it was the sort of elastic that's sewn on to the edge of the fabric with no seam so i just snipped a bit of it and ripped it off..i do have an oh&s warning here though..be careful not to let the elastic slip as you're doing this because it can recoil, like it did with me, and give you a nasty bit of whip lash..the rest is equally easy..i chose a new vintage sheet as my new ironing board fabric..i put the template on top of the new fabric and cut out the new cover..i did add a bit of fabric here and there to adjust for length deficiencies on the old one..then all i did was sew bias tape on to the edge of the fabric and then i threaded the tape with elastic adjusting for the size of the ironing board..at least now when the elastic gives, which it surely will, i'll easily be able to put in new elastic..although knowing me there'll be a long period of procrastination..oh..and by the way it cost me about $0.50 to make..the sheet cost $4.00 and i only used a small fraction of the long end of it and the bias tape and elastic were given to me by a haberdasher friend..

Thursday, 7 February 2013

chunky fig jam and fennel bread

one of my daughters was bringing her boyfriend to meet me for the first time this week on the evening of my children's and my customary fortnightly meal together so you'd think i'd have played it safe in the culinary department..to a certain extent i did but then at the last minute a loaf of olive and oregano bread morphed into a chunky fig jam and fennel loaf..and then it needed some cheese to go with it so while it was cooking i made a dash for my favourite delicatessen and bought a large piece of beautiful french brie..personally i would have preferred a stinky blue but the evening wasn't just all about me so at least i did play it safe with the cheese..

chunky fig jam and fennel bread
tea with hazel 


400 gms strong white flour
100 gms wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon (tsp) yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (i use murray river salt)
cold water
2-3 tsp fennel seeds
approx 125 gms of fig jam preferably with large pieces of fig (i used home made)


~ mix flours, yeast and 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds with enough cold water to make a slightly sticky dough
~ leave for 10 minutes and then add salt and mix for 30 seconds
~ rest for 10 minutes and then mix for 30 seconds
~ remove bowl for the mixer, cover dough with oiled cling film, and rest until doubled
~ remove the dough from the bowl and without adding flour or oil knead dough until it is no longer sticky
~ rest the dough for 15 minutes and knead briefly 
~ repeat the above and then rest the dough for a further 15 minutes
~ on a lightly flour dusted board roll the dough into a large oval
~ place the large fig pieces evenly on the dough, thinly spread the jam paste between the fig pieces and sprinkle with about 1 tsp of fennel seeds
~ roll the dough up, seal the ends, and place the dough seam side down on a baking paper lined tray
~ dust with flour and leave until well risen and a finger pressed into the dough leaves an indentation
~ bake at 250 deg c with steam for 20 minutes
~ reduce heat to 180 deg c and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the loaf is well browned

note: apologies for the poor quality photos but they were taken quickly while the hoards were waiting to devour it..and by the way my daughter's boyfriend must have liked it because my daughter told me later that he ate the chunk of bread she'd taken with her..