Wednesday, 31 October 2007

life on the patch

the "nursery" is looking well... some of these have been transferred to the nodig garden patches... survival rate has been less than expected though (due to the post rain hot weather last week)...

savoy cabbages are hard to grow! and loved by catepillars!!! they have been holding big feasts in the hearts of cabbages until thery were interrupted today by my fingers (squishing them into oblivion) and my "white oil" (choking them to death)...

the lower patch broccolis are doing pretty good and the 1st sign of food!

the potatoes are hardy! they are growing wild (the foilage)... one only hopes that the tubers below would be prolific as well... what a bonus to have lovely flowers as well

little tomatoes are popping up... when will they brighten up the place with their red hue?

veg out organically

another day, another day of harvest... this time i dug up several root veg...
knobbly carrots and a ball of beetroot, several pea pods and basil & beetroot leaves

a bit of scrubbing , slicing and dicing later...

with a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil... pinch of salt and pepper... a fresh sping salad!

Saturday, 20 October 2007

nougat practice-run

everyone at home loves nougat... but it's soooo $$$
a little piece (same size as a piece of turkish delight) can be $1 or more... i saw a long piece (may be 20cm in length) for sale at "the essential ingredient" for $14+!!! and u'd think it is only egg white and sugar and some nuts...
how hard could it be to make at home?! and save a few bucks along the way?!?!?... so i decided to put my candy themometer to the test (haven't really used it since i bought it several months ago)
the 1st batch turn out to be too soft... and the texture was too grainy - cos i didn't cook the sugar / syrup long enough and stopped at 120 degrees C... but still got polished off within a week...
so, the next batch, i made some changes and it came out quite fabulous and presentable! (ie- potential x'mas gifts this year)
i combined several recipes and came up with this:
chewy nougat
180g raw almonds (roasted at 180 degrees C for 10min)
20-40g pumpkin seeds (roasted at 180 degrees C for 10 min)
300g raw sugar (recipe called for white / castor sugar, but i changed it for the off white look) 60mL (1/4 cup) honey
60mL glucose syrup
60mL water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (i was supposed to put 1tsp, but ran out)
2 egg whites whipped to firm peaks (use 1 if you want harder nougat)
-roast nuts
-whip eggwhites
-cook sugar, honey, syrup, water until reaching 150+ (ideally 154) degrees C, stirring at beginning until raw sugar crystals dissolve completely but don't stir at the end when it is bubbling and reaching 154; the lower the temp the softer the nougat
-put whipped egg whites in a stainless steel mixing bowl & stream in hot syrup while whipping mad (this step will need 2 people - one with good arm strength and the other with a delicate touch to pour the syrup consistently in a fine stream), like making mayo really...
-nougat mass will get more and more stiff / gummy - end result should be similar to chewing gum consistency
-quickly stir in the roasted nuts and spread on rice paper (this has to be done quick, the longer one takes, the stiffer the mix is and harder to spread on the rice paper)
-flatten out the nougat mass and top it up with another piece of rice paper
-put in a cool area to "set" - don't put in fridge, as it will absorb too much moisture
-several hours later, can be then cut into presentable pieces and and packaged into presents for friends and neighbours! (can also be stored in air tight container in a cool place or in fridge)
tip1) spreading nougat - line up the rice paper (shiny side down - yes it has 2 diff sides, and the shiny one is much more attractive!) and overlap at junction so that nougat mass won't "leak"... spread it quick while it's warm with a knife and top it up with another piece of rice paper, shiny side up this time... water is rice paper killer! don't let it near! not even a drop... tip 2) washing up after nougat making - damn diff!! don't try to scrub, cos it won't happen... instead just add water to the saucepan and dump all the sugar syrup contaminated whisk, spoons etc in and boil it and let the sugar lumps / nougat dissolve
tip 3) cutting nougat - it sticks to everything... make sure this is done in a relatively cool room and use a serrated knife and don't use the sawing action (like cutting bread), instead just wedge the knife up and down several times at the same spot, like a paper cutter... the edges look abit rustic (hence homemade! definitely not store bought)... yet to improve on the cutting method to make it a tad more clean and tidy...
and the taste test: chewy, sweet and nutty... more nuts (may be diff types too, say, macadamia) might heighten the taste and texture up a notch ! (sorry, not a fan of glace cheeries... though it would look more lovely...)
and in terms of cost savings? approx 50 squares of nougat for less than $8 - most $$ being the cost of nuts (if store bought would be $30-40+)

no dig at home

after the kimbriki workshop, i was inspired to begin my patch-extension in my garden... and here is the beginning of the 1st three of the no-dig veggie patches...
here is no-dig patch 1 and 2... (above)
and no-dig patch 3... (below)
mcduck said, "it looks like a farm!!! is that cow poo over there?" (lower left hand corner of straw-patch) - no... actually it's dumped x-s potting mix which unfortunately looks like cow poo...
it has been quite $$ to build these no-dig patches, as hay / straw alone cost $50!
my seedlings have not been transferred onto these patches yet as they are still too young... awaiting to move in - watermelon, pumpkin, purple king beans, tomatoes, capsicum, sunflowers, etc etc... hopefully i have enough seedling mix/compost to sit them on...

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

light in the horizon

today was a pretty bad day! so it was really nice to have received this in the mail - my frequent donor's club diary! finally something good is happening in my life!
and come to think of it, today's miss in the exam & $$ may have diverted me from the roads - cos there was a massive accident on the road i was to travel on, should i have done the test, then i might have been the unlucky person trapped in the car reckage... my positive thoughts are with the injured...

and what has been happening at cafe LF? actaully there has been plenty of activity, just that i haven't been doing my photo doc...

yum yum childhood-memory-inspired lucheon meat tom-yum noodles... with fried egg


the only thing keeping me sane during this time of "nothing going my way" is kimbriki. what an inspiration the eco garden is! and the workshops! and what's more it's free!!and at the end everyone got a bag of free compost/mulch!!!

i just went to one last week - no dig garden... and staight away have my focus back onto my own veggie patch... in the pipe line now - will be more patches of no dig on the way...

i am looking forward to the water saving workshop coming up... i need the tips cos my veggie patch is suffering quite abit from the wed/sun only watering...