Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday River Cottage Challenge (RCC) Update

The first week of my challenge has gone well, as is to be expected when you start a new challenge. This week I cooked.

Quick Fried Onion and Cabbage with Black Pepper

Rhubard Fool (Rhubarb from the garden)

Soda Bread

These three were so quick and easy I could scarcely believe it.

Roast Free Range Chicken…again so easy…why do I always think these things take so much time? I was obviously cooking the wrong food.

The best ever mash…well a bit of a cheat I mean really how easy is mash.

Spagetti Bolognese. Again you would think easy but this one had vegetable pieces in it and milk..yeah I know!!!

Chicken Curry with a whole chicken that I jointed myself..don’t let hubby the ex butcher see how I butchered that one.

Baked Lemon die for.

Oven Roasted Squid

Oh and the boys (7 and 5) cooked drop scones from the book this morning by themselves..with my very watchful eye. I was so proud of them.

And so ends one week since I made my resolution and so far so good. I don’t think it will take me a year at this rate but then there are some tricky recipes ahead and life will soon take over when school and work recommence. It’s actually comforting to just decide on recipes from one book instead of the usual bookcase full.

Simplifies life just a bit!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2009 Tally

With the garden just completing it's first full year,it's time for a produce tally and evaluation.

I learnt a very important lesson this year and that is don't wait. It seemed that the weather went from too cold to too hot and vice verse and I missed some very productive growing time. I also waited on crops that were taking up space when I should have just pulled and replanted so that I could continue the cycle. There were many big gaps in my productivity but hey it's all about learning isn't it. With the addition of 6 more raised beds this year I should have both the space and the rotation required to keep vegies growing all year. I may even created some winter covers to go on the new beds to keep productivity up during the winter. With both chicken now laying we should get a nice little egg supply that may not cover all our needs but definitely help to support it.

So what did I manage to grow this year...
20kgs tomatoes
4.5kg pumpkins
1.4 kgs carrots
1kg peas (most eaten before they ever got to the kitchen)
1 kg zucchini (got a very bad case of powdery mildew but I am on that already this year)
5.2 kg Chinese Cabbage (these were a winner despite how much snail damage they endured)
1.5kg shelled broad beans
1 kg rhubard (impressive plant)
44 eggs

The following we grew but never got enough to actually weigh (just eat!!)
Cape gooseberries (did make some jam)
Perpetual Spinach
2 Figs
1 guava
5 Pepinos

So not what I had dreamed for my first year.I had grand images of excess produce and jars of preserves but we all have to start somewhere and I have learnt lots of valuable lessons.

So a grand total of just over 35kgs last year. My aim is for 100kgs this year. I better get off here and back to the garden then.

Happy Gardening!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cheese,Jam and Eggs

What a productive week.!!
With inspiration from my RCC I have been baking,cooking and preserving.
I made my first batch of Feta this week and I think I am getting the hang of this cheese making thing. I made some ricotta with the whey ( oh my goodness heaven in a cube) and preserved some Feta in some oil to see how it would go.

Hanging the Feta

Boiling the whey to make Ricotta

Preserving the Feta in olive oil and Basil from the garden. Not sure how it will go.

Mum and I also made a small batch (just 4 baby food jars) of Cape Gooseberry Jam. It was lovely to stand in mum's kitchen while we exchanged techniques and chatted as the jam bubbled away. I see lots more of that in the near future.

Bowl of golden Cape Gooseberries

Last to report this week is that both our hens are finally laying. Soy the barnevelder has been laying for nearly 2 months now but Honey chose yesterday to be her first. She is a mixed bantam and her egg was soo tiny. Just 30 grams and the cutest thing I have ever seen. Just in time too there were rumours circulating that she was rooster.

Honey's first egg surrounded by Soy's brown beauties.

So all in all a great start to the year. Now to get some work done on those garden beds so that we can get some serious planting underway.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The River Cottage Challenge

Inspired by Julie and Julia I have set myself the River Cottage Challenge. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage series were among my earliest inspiration for self sustainable living. A couple of years ago my mother bought me his Family Cookbook so I have set myself the challenge to complete its recipes and projects throughout 2010. Everything from planting tomato plants to hosting a pancake race. There are 101 recipes in the book and 14 challenges.Nowhere near the amount in Mastering the Art of French cooking but this is more about reconnecting with food then actually learning to cook.
We decided that there would be zero purchases of fast food this year so this will help me to explore cooking techniques and recipes I may not have thought about.
I will update my progress in this blog along with our continuing garden journey.
So I'm off to make some bread for dinner..oh and finish the cheese..more on that later.

Maybe you want to try some of the challenges on Hugh's website.

Happy New Year!!