Sunday, May 23, 2010

Garden: Before and After

We are turning our overgrown, messy backyard into a series of vegie patches. Here are some photos from today.

We've been hacking at a mysterious lump (it seems to have been created by many years of grass clippings dumped on top of each other) trying to get all the weeds out of it. Then we plan to grow pumpkins and zucchinis on the lump, come spring.

Broad beans are growing quickly and I've got some seedlings coming up in seedling trays.

I'm planning to turn the old driveway into garden beds.

We plan to get some fruit trees too - in pots in case we ever can't renew our lease, so we can bring them with us to wherever we go next!

I'll put more photos up in a few months - hopefully by then there'll be quite a transformation!

Rhubarb Crumble

My sister has been trying to get me to go to the Abbotsford Farmers' Market for about three years now. Or more, I'm not entirely sure. The whole purpose of the exercise (or at least how she sold it to me) was to check out the 'boys in hats and scarves'. Well, alluring as those wool-clad boys might have been, I just couldn't bring myself to get up before about 11am on a Saturday, and after showering, breakfast eating, transportation etc there is no way I could possibly make it to the market by 1pm, when it closes.

My sister went frequently though, and although singing its praises (and recounting sightings of 'boys with hats and scarves' - hello sister, I love you) I still never bothered to get around to it. Until a couple of weeks ago. My obsession with vegetables is getting increasingly all-pervasive and I jumped at the idea of riding our bikes along to Yarra to check out some organic or direct-from-farmer vegies and other produce. We only managed to get there by closing time, 1pm, but there was still plenty of stuff around. I'm not on the hunt for a boy-with-hat-and-scarf anymore, but even so it looked like most of the guys there were less 'pick-up-girls-in-dresses-on-bicycles' stage and more 'strap-a-baby-to-my-chest-and-pick-up-some-organic-milk' stage.

I bought some lovely saffron pine mushrooms, fresh and crunchy broccoli and a bunch of the wonderful, wonderful 'Di's Rhubarb'. Those who know this rhubarb will remember that it comes with a very strict warning that you are to cook it with NO WATER and RAW SUGAR ONLY. Seriously. You disobey Di at your own risk. She'll ask you about the next time you buy it (as she did yesterday, when I went to the market a second time) and I doubt she'd let you off easily if you lied to her about it. NO WATER.

I'm not sure what horrible fate would befall you if you did add water, but Di's Rhubarb Crumble recipe is so good I wouldn't bother giving it a go. Just follow the recipe and you will have the most delicious, comforting winter dessert ever. Best to use Di's Rhubarb from the Farmers' market though, I can't vouch for other rhubarb but the rhubarb I saw at the supermarket yesterday was a limp, shrivelled, sorry sight.

Di's Rhubarb Crumble

400g rhubarb, topped and tailed and cut into 2cm pieces
350g apples, peeled and chopped
125g raw sugar (Di suggests 250g but it's just way too much)

175g plain flour
100g sugar
125g butter, chopped
100g gingernut biscuits
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder

Place rhubarb, apples and raw sugar in a pot. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until all fruit has fallen apart and become syrupy. NO WATER, ALRIGHT?

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, butter, gingernut biscuits, cinnamon, ginger. Either combine in food processor or do what I did and bash the biscuits to crumbs using a the pestle from a mortar and pestle. Scrunch mixture with fingers until butter is combined and you have buttery crumbs.

Pour fruit mix into baking dish, cover with crumble mix and bake at 180 degrees C for roughly 40 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

Yumbo. Serves about 6 people.

Other market finds which have been turned into delicious, bursting-with-freshness dishes:

- Lightly steamed broccoli with homemade aioli

- Tomatoes sliced and served in alternating layers with creamy fior di latte cheese

- Pan fried black beans and kale

- Caramelised roasted butternut pumpkin

- Tiny kipfler potatoes as a salad with mayonnaise and loads of dill

The next Abbotsford Farmers' Market is on Saturday, 12th of June at the Collingwood Children's Farm, St. Heliers St Abbotsford. See you there! Does anyone know of any other wonderful Farmers' Markets in Melbourne?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fruit Wine

I have started a short course in winemaking at Epping Tafe (NMIT) - 6 weeks on Wednesday nights. It's really interesting and great to refresh my mind with some chemistry! We were all given the task of making some wine from fruit juice at home, to then be taken into the lab and test and look for faults etc. I decided to use pomegranate juice (I did so as it has a similar sugar level to grape juice - sugar level is important in wine making!) and started it yesterday.

It started bubbling away overnight. I am being very overprotective of it, fussing over it trying to keep it warm! Camila - are you interested in knitting it a little coat?!

Depending on how this goes I might start making my own fruit wines regularly. There really is nothing to it so far. Fruit juice, wine making yeast, and a flagon.

In other news, the Farmers Market at the Collingwood Children's Farm and at the Abbotsford Convent is just about the best thing ever. Get there and get some of Di's rhubarb!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lovely Bread!

Yay! My second attempt at bread baking turned out quite nicely. I managed to find some fresh yeast at the Queen Vic Market. It was surprisingly cheap, just under $2 for 200grams, when the recipe only calls for 8g! I'm not going to post the recipe because I'm going to be posting a lot from the same book. I'll do a post about the book later, as it's really really really good. I'm excited about learning all the ins and outs of bread baking. When Uni semester finishes in a few weeks I'll have more free time to practice. I need to start using proper baking flour though, I think I saw some at the market when I was there so I might need to take another trip over.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


As it was Dutch orange day on Sunday I thought it might be a good opportunity to make poffertjes. I have been in love with these little pancakes since I was young. I eat them at every festival I go to, at every opportunity. I bought one of the special pans to cook them in a few years ago. It came with a pre-made mixture to use and that's as far as I went in my cooking of them. When the mixture ran out I put the pan at the back of the cupboard for a rainy day. That day has come! and will come again! These tasted exactly like the ones from the stalls. This recipe is a combination of a few and isn't really exact so feel free to play around. I'm trying to make a vegan version that is just as good and will post it as soon as it appears to me.

I'd also like to tell everyone that I've started a personal blog. It'd be cool if you could go over and have a look! LINK!


2 2/3 cups plan flour
1 1/4 cup milk
One packet of dried yeast (the packets I use are 7g)
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 beaten egg
a pinch of salt
15g melted butter

Heat the milk till it is lukewarm. Stir in the sugar and the yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes or so. If it's getting frothy, you're onto a good thing.
Put the flour in a large bowl and add a pinch of salt. Pour the yeast/milk mixture in and stir. When combined, add the egg and butter (beaten egg, melted butter.)
Stir till it looks sort of ok.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel. It's best to use a clean one, but don't worry too much. Like, don't go to the trouble of washing anything. Put the covered bowl in front of a heater or in the sun depending on climate. Leave for one hour, probably wise to turn it half way if it's in front of a heater.
After an hour it should have at least doubled in size. Yay! Stir it again to get the air out.
Put the poffertjes pan on the heat and give it a bit of a grease. Using a teaspoon, half fill the holes. When bubbles are coming though, flip them over. When both sides are brown, take them out and put them on a plate. I used some skewers that came with the pan the turn them, it worked pretty well. Oh, and the first batch didn't cook very well (as usual) and tasted really yeasty. Don't let that deter you! The rest will be magic!
Put some knobs of butter on top and cover in icing sugar.
Eat as many as will fit in your stomach.
Tip: they reheat really well in the microwave!

Happy poffertjing!