Oh what to do with this bounty of produce…

Caramelised Onion and Beetroot Relish

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1/4C extra virgin olive oil

1kg onions, thinly sliced

1/2 C coconut sugar (or brown sugar, but I’ve been using coconut)

1/3C raw sugar

1/2 C Balsamic Vinegar

4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked

1 bay leaf

1/2tsp ground cloves

450g tin of beetroot (we use home canned pickled beetroot)

salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 20 minutes, or until just softened. Stir in sugars, vinegar, thyme, bay leaf and ground cloves. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved.

2) Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring, for 20 minutes until relish is thick. (I don’t stand over the stove the whole time, but stay nearby and stir periodically)

3) Meanwhile, drain beetroot, reserving 1/2C of the liquid. Finely chop beets and add, along with the reserved liquid, to pan. Cook, stirring for a further 5 minutes until rich in colour. Season to taste.

4) Ladle into sterilised jars and seal tightly. Store in a cool place for 1 month. Once opened, keep chilled and consume within 2 weeks. (I don’t heat process them, but do put the jars in the cold room once they’ve cooled down, just to be careful. We also don’t usually consume a whole jar in two weeks, but have not had any go off yet!)

Bread and Butter Pickles

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3 different varieties, made on our organic produce

The Bread and Butter Pickles here at Birdsong have been so popular! Occasionally I’m asked if we share the recipes…yes, we do.

We’ve made B&B pickles on both zucchini and cucumber, it works both ways. Just be aware that the first step involves salting your veg overnight…it’s a 2 day process making these pickles.

You will need:

Approx. 6 Lebanese cucumbers, or 3 medium sized zucchini, sliced finely (food processors make short work of this)

2 Capsicum (optional, but adds a beautiful colour contrast), seeds removed and finely sliced

A large onion, sliced finely

50g macrobiotic sea salt (Himalayan pink salt is fine too)

400ml Apple Cider Vinegar

200g either raw sugar or coconut sugar. Coconut sugar will give you a darker pickle.

1tsp each of turmeric, mustard powder, fennel seed

  1. Slice your cucumber, onion and capsicum finely. I do it all in the food processor.
  2. Put all these vegetables in a casserole dish or bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Toss the salt through, then cover the dish with cloth/wrap and leave overnight. This step is important, as it reduces the water content of the finished product.
  3. In the morning, put your salted veg in a colander and rinse them under cold water, then place out on clean tea towels to drain.
  4. Take a large saucepan and combine the vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to the boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Now you can add in the sliced vegetables to the pot and let the mixture come to a boil for one minute. Then turn off the heat.
  6. Using sterilised jars with vinegar-proof lids (and a canning funnel if you have one, they save a lot of mess!), pack the mixture and then pour over remaining liquid to submerge the vegetables.
  7. Seal, label and store somewhere cool and dark (3 month shelf life stored like this), or store in the fridge for longer shelf life. And always store you opened jars in the fridge.

Pumpkin and Cashew Dip

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Pumpkins! They thrived this year, and we had hundreds of them.

We’ve had pumpkin in salads, roasts, desserts…and this week since we also have loads of violet cauliflower, which is gorgeous eaten raw with a decent dip, I’ve just made a pumpkin and cashew dip.

Here’s the recipe:

About half a kilo of pumpkin and sweet potato, roasted. You can use pumpkin alone, but we just happened to have them both leftover after a roast. If you are purposefully roasting the pumpkin to make the dip you’ll need to peel, seed and dice the pumpkin, then roast at 180C for about half an hour.

1/2 Cup Cashews…or another nut if you prefer

2 Tbsp Seasoning. I used YIAH Cinco Pepper Enchilada seasoning (which is completely herbs and spices). Otherwise Moroccan Seasoning is a good option.

3/4 Cup greek yoghurt. Try coconut yoghurt if you’re going dairy free

Method: Using a blender or food processor, mix all ingredients until smooth.

Simple, isn’t it?


Thai Cashew Chicken

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Happy Saturday! It’s our day off, and today was one of those lovely days where we had nothing planned. So there’s been time to potter around in the kitchen.

Chilies abound at the moment, so I’ve been trying a few Thai recipes, and thought I’d share this one with you…

Thai Cashew Chicken…with coconut rice

Coconut Rice: 2 C basmati rice

4C liquid (I use 1 can of organic coconut cream and make the rest of the liquid up with chicken broth)

Chicken: 500g chicken (we used organic chicken thighs), chopped to your preferred size

2-3 Tbsp plain flour

1/3 cup macadamia oil (if you don’t have macadamia, use another oil with a mild flavour)

Vegetables: 1 Tbsp garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 small tropea red onion, sliced length ways into wedges

5-6 Thai chilies, finely chopped

1 C raw cashews

1 C capsicums, julienned

1 C carrots, julienned

2 shallots, finely sliced

Sauce: 2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Dash of salt

Dash of honey

1 C chicken broth/stock

2 Tbsp cornflour


Get your rice going first. I put the rice and liquid in the saucepan and cook, absorption method, with the lid on. Just keep an eye on the rice to make sure the heat is shut off when the liquid gets low.

Mix your sauce ingredients in a jar and set aside.

Pour you oil into a wok or large frypan and heat. While that is heating, toss your chopped chicken in the flour to coat.

Fry the raw cashews until they start to brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add your floured chicken and the chili to the hot oil in the pan and fry until golden and delicious. Remove the chicken from the oil and set aside.

To that same oil, add all your veg except the shallots and fry until the onion is translucent.

Add your sauce and while that cooks through, get your cornflour and mix with a little water and add this to the pan to thicken the sauce.

Your chicken and cashews can now get back in the pan. Stir until the sauce has coated everything and then add your shallots for just a minute or two of cooking before you serve.

I liked the heat level of this combo. It was mild enough that flavours other than heat could be enjoyed, but hot enough to have a kick to it πŸ™‚ If you love heat and don’t have children to accommodate, you might like to add more chili.

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

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A while ago I posted the recipe for the best tomato sauce we’ve found…well that recipe is a great base for making your own BBQ sauce. It does still contain sugar, if that’s an issue for you, but it’s a lot more wholesome than store bought BBQ sauce!

Balsamic BBQ Sauce

3/4 Cup Tomato sauce

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (we used organic balsamic from Wrays due to the fact that balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, which are a heavily sprayed crop unless you buy organic)

Garlic- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic is great, but you can use 1Tbsp powdered or minced garlic if that’s what you have on hand

1/2 Tsp each of salt and pepper

1Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup coconut sugar (or organic raw sugar)

A nice easy recipe…all you do is mix all those ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmer away for about 15 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and you have a consistency you’re happy with. Then pour into a clean bottle.

I couldn’t tell you precisely how long it lasts, because it’s consumed long before we have to get concerned with use by dates πŸ™‚ But given the high level of vinegar and sugar, you should get at least 12 months of shelf life.

The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe We’ve Found…Plus a Workshop

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Since we started growing veg, summer is synonymous with an abundance of fresh fruit and veg…more than we can use right away. Not that I mind, as I love to have shelves full of homemade preserves so when things like tomatoes are finished for the year, we can still be eating organic remineralised products made from those tomatoes for a long time to come.

Tomato sauce (as in, what you would eat with sausages etc) is one product we wanted to be making for ourselves. And it took a while to find a recipe we were happy with, because the children didn’t like so many that we tried, so kept asking for bought tomato sauce!

Matt Preston’s Tomato Sauce, which he says is a recipe from his mother-in-law, is the best we’ve found. http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/matt-prestons-tomato-sauce/751a8855-76c1-4f9f-b6e4-3ad781c9e73d

The only changes I made to the ingredients in that recipe (you can follow the above link to check it out) were:

-using organic raw sugar instead of plain sugar

-using apple cider vinegar instead of malt vinegar

-leaving the spices in there and blitzing them in with a stick blender at the end.

And if you’re making it at home, sourcing homegrown tomatoes is going to produce a much richer flavour than using supermarket (or mass farmed) tomatoes. Tomatoes farms are also usually subject to toxic sprays (like I mentioned in the post on glyphosate), so making sauce from them…or eating them at all, is really not ideal if you value your health.

The change I made to the method, was in using all the tomato, and not peeling them or sieving out the seeds. We like the whole-tomato texture (and it saves a lot of time!).

Now, at the moment we have loads of tomatoes, and I also have organic vinegar, spices and sugar that we’ve sourced to make a huge pot of this sauce. I thought it would be fun to get together with other people who are interested, work together to make a huge pot of sauce and everyone can take a 1L glass bottle of it home. I have enough glass bottles, but if you would rather spread the 1L between several smaller jars, then BYO and that’s fine too.

Cost will be $25 and sorry for the short notice (but I was waiting for the organic vinegar to arrive!), the class will be this Wednesday 20th December, 2pm at Birdsong Market Garden. If you’re interested, you’ll need to RSVP, as we’ll have to cap numbers at 5-6 people (participating adults). Email me at racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au to let me know if you’d like to come. You can pay on the day (and we have paypass facilities if you need).

Zucchini Chocolate Cake…with Walnuts

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Zucchini…it’s prolific! It seems like one day you’ll have a few tiny zucchini forming, and within the next day or two you go back to the patch and they’re almost 1kg each!

We’ve been having zucchini in a lot of meals lately, but I thought it was time to try zucchini chocolate cake. This is a recipe I adapted from a less healthy version.

2 cups plain flour (we used biodynamic stoneground flour)

300g coconut sugar

65g cacao powder (we sell this)

2 tsp bicarb soda

1/2tsp salt

1tsp ground cinnamon

4 eggs (we used duck eggs)

350ml macadamia oil (we sell this)

100g chopped walnuts (we sell this)

500g grated zucchini (you already know we sell these!)

Turn your oven to 180 C (fan forced) and prepare your cake tin or muffin tray.

In a large bowl, mix all your dry ingredients.

Now add the eggs and oil and mix in well.

Lightly mix in the zucchini and walnuts until evenly distributed

Bake for about 55 minutes.

Hide from your children πŸ™‚

When cool we iced it with a chocolate Vienna cream icing…not so healthy…but it was organic sugar, so at least there was no roundup in there (sugar cane is sometimes sprayed with roundup as a desiccant after harvest).

This is a really moist cake, and I love the touch of crunch provided by the walnuts.

Birdsong Coleslaw

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Summer Staples

As soon as the weather starts heating up, out come our summer staples. One of which is coleslaw.

A few years back we held homeschool markets, and Rick made pulled pork and coleslaw rolls for lunch. Wow! They were good…and much of that goodness was due to the amazing coleslaw dressing recipe he used. We’ve tweaked it a bit since, and here it is…

The Dressing:

1Tbsp mustard, dijon is preferable

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2Tbsp lemon juice

1Tbsp honey (or natural sweetener of choice)

1tsp sea salt or Himalayan rock salt

1/2 Cup aioli (we love the flavour of Heinz Seriously Good Garlic Aioli, but it’s not organic, and made on canola oil…so if you have any wholesome alternative to suggest for me, post it in the comments!)

You can also add 1/4 cup sour cream if desired. Up until this point it’s a dairy free recipe though, so depends who you’re making it for!

Just mix all these ingredients well in a bowl and set aside while you prepare the slaw.

The Slaw:

This can vary according to what’s in the garden, but the pictured coleslaw is:

1/2 small red cabbage, shredded

1/2 small sugar loaf cabbage, shredded

1 coccozelle zucchini, grated

2 carrots, grated

1 shallot, finely sliced

5 small radish, grated

I usually do all the slicing/grating with a food processor, but it can be done by hand with a little extra time. Mix everything in a large bowl, pour the dressing over, mix it in…and enjoy!

Flavour Variations: Try various chopped herbs, like coriander or parsley for a little twist

Homemade Washing Powder…and Sourcing Ingredients

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Seems like more and more people are getting interested and getting started in avoiding commercial cleaning, beauty and health products and making their own at home. When you start seeing all the nasties hat go into the products you used for years unaware, it can be pretty scary! Hormone disruptors are particularly common…and we wonder why there’s so many hormone disorders around!

So I’m going to give you a recipe for one of the easiest (IMO) homemade cleaning products (actually, most of them are very simple to make)…washing/laundry powder. But first I’ll give you some info on where in Australia to source a lot of the ingredients you’ll see in DIY recipes like these.

Shea butter, cocoa butter, essential oils, carrier oils, clay powders like bentonite…these are things you’ll likely see called for in DIY recipes. But many of them are not things you’ll see on the supermarket shelf. Sometimes they’re at the health food store, but often not at prices you’d be willing to pay!

I think it was originally in my search for cocoa butter that I found N-EssentialsΒ 

I’d checked the health food store for cocoa butter, and it was $30 for this itty bitty package of it that would only make a double batch of the recipe I was hoping to try! So I looked online and found N-Essentials had organic unrefined cocoa butter at $33 for a whole kilo! Much better. And then in looking around on their site, it appeared they also had a bunch of other unusual ingredients I needed like essential oils, shea butter, castor oil, bentonite clay, jojoba oil, argan oil etc

Essential oils in particular, are used in SO many DIY recipes (including the one I’ll share later in this post). They have so many useful properties like being antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antidepressant…and the list goes on. Exactly the types of properties you want when making your own kitchen sprays, washing powder, air fresheners and the like.

For medicinal/healing grade oils, we use doTerra, because they have GRAS status for internal use and are triple tested for purity, safety and more.

But they’re costly, and when making things like soap, DIY cleaning products and some of your beauty products, you often want to opt for oils that are quality and pure, but not necessarily therapeutic grade. What do I mean by pure? Essential oils can unfortunately be labelled as ‘100% pure essential oil’ and yet still have carrier oils added, or be chemically manufactured, or have other additives thrown into the mix. Some say only 10% of the contents of the bottle have to be the actual essential oil to label the bottle as 100% pure essential oil. It’s madness.

If you’re going to be making your own products at home, usually it’s because you’re wanting to avoid all the nasties commonly added to commercial products, and if the essential oils you’re getting are impure, it’s kind of defeating the purpose of making these products at home.

So here’s where N-Essentials can help. I’ve used their eucalyptus, bergamot, frankincense and sweet orange essential oils in a variety of applications in the past and recently I’ve corresponded with Kacie, the company Director and found out more about the purity of their essential oils. The oils they stock have nothing added. No carrier oils or additives of any kind, and I noticed especially with the frankincense oil I bought from N-Essentials that the scent was identical to the doTerra frankincense we had. Scent is important, as often if there’s additives present, it will be detectable by a quick smell of the bottle. Some ebay oils we tried were an excellent example of this. The scent was weak and clearly there were carriers present. But we didn’t have that problem with N-Essentials oils.

This company are Australian and based in Melbourne. All their oils are packed in amber glass bottles, or metal bottles for the larger quantities (you can buy one liter and five liter bottles of many of their oils). This is very important, as any essential oils packed in plastic will be compromised and any oils packed in clear glass are damaged by light.

They have something like 70 different essential oils to choose from.

It’s especially been for soapmaking that the oils at N-Essentials are handy. In looking through a soap recipe book I have, often 5ml, 10ml or 15ml of essential oil would be called for in a single batch recipe. Sometimes a recipe would call for three or four different essential oils at 5ml each! If you’ve bought and used therapeutic grade oils, you’ll realise following these recipes with therapeutic grade oils would be highly expensive! Like 5ml of therapeutic grade rose essential oil can cost about $350…there’s no way you’d pour all that into a batch of soap! That’s a pretty extreme example, and most therapeutic grade oils are under $100 for a 15ml bottle, but it’s still overkill for this type of application. Especially in soap where your oil is mixing with lye that has not yet fully completed the saponification process, and therefore could be damaging the viability of the essential oils you add.

I will mention two healing applications we used the N-Essentials eucalyptus oil for. We’ve diffused it when we’ve had sinus congestion, and it worked beautifully. We’ve also used it with great results in a homemade vapor rub.

So if you’re looking for quality, affordable essential oils to use in your DIY recipes, definitely check N-Essentials out. And it’s very handy you can get butters, carrier oils, clay powders and other supplies from the same place.

DIY Laundry Powder

Onto the recipe!

You will need:

6 cups washing soda. If you don’t use washing powder too often, just buy the washing soda from the laundry section of your supermarket. If like us you have a lot of people to wash for and need to work in bulk quantities, then I advise buying a 25kg bag of Bicarb soda from a rural supply shop like National Farmers Warehouse and converting in into washing soda. This is done by filling a baking dish or two with bicarb and putting in in the oven at 200 C for an hour. Then it’s turned into washing soda! Keep it in a sealed container, too much exposure to air will see it convert back into bicarb!

2-3 bars of soap Using homemade soap is great, especially if you are aiming t make a non-allergenic washing powder. But if you don’t make soap and don’t have someone to supply it to you (If you are in the Toowoomba area, I sell plain soap for laundry powder), you can use something like sunlight soap.

10-15 drops of essential oil. I usually use a citrus oil (like bergamot), because they have grease-cutting properties which means a lot in our household!

Ideally, you’ll also want to use a food processor to make this. You’ll get a much more even consistency.

First of all, grate your soap. I use the grating blade on my food processor. It can be done by hand on a grater if needed. If you do the latter, make sure it’s a fine grate.

Now pull out your grating blade and put in your regular mixing blade. Add 2 cups of the washing soda and give it a blitz. Try not to breathe the dust in. Though this is a safe washing powder, that doesn’t mean you’ll want it in your lungs! The reason I don’t add all the washing soda at once, is because giving this initial blitz makes it easier to be sure any lumps of soap that didn’t grate properly are broken up.

Add the remaining 4 cups of washing soda and your essential oil. Blitz until you have an even consistency.

In this photographed recipe, I used salt bar soap, which grates VERY finely. If your soap is a little chunkier than this, that’s fine. Just wanted to point that out so you don’t think there’s something wrong with your mix if it looks a bit coarser than the photo!

Now you need something to store your washing powder in. Make sure it has a lid with a good seal. We prefer to use glass over plastic, especially as essential oils are involved. Large moccona jars are great. There’s just about always suitable jars at op shops too.

I also find using a canning funnel makes getting the washing powder into the jar so much easier!

And it’s done!

How much to use? When we had a 7.5kg front loader, I used 2Tbsp per load. We now have a 10kg front loader (and children who are really hard on their clothes!), so I use 4Tbsp per load.

When buying bulk bicarb for washing soda and using homemade soap, this recipe costs about $4 to make almost 2kg.

Korean Beef (a recipe for mizuna and kale!)

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Quick and Easy Weeknight Meal

We buy sides of beef, so end up with a lot of mince….and I’m certainly not complaining about that. The children love mince. Here is one of the recipes we go to for a quick weeknight meal that also uses up some of the glut of mince.

Korean Beef

1kg beef mince

1/2 bunch shallots or 1 red onion

1 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp minced ginger

1/2 cup soy sauce, or soy alternative like coconut aminos

1 Tbsp chili sauce (I used a homemade hot and sweet chili sauce, but use whatever gives you a heat level you like)

1 bunch kale, chopped

1 bag (around 200g) mizuna, chopped

  1. Saute your onion/shallots, ginger and garlic for a few minutes. Add your mince and cook until browned.
  2. While this is sauteing, get another fry pan going and saute your kale and mizuna in some butter or oil. Just get them wilted and then shut off the heat.
  3. Add the soy sauce and chili to your beef and gently simmer for 5-10 minutes
  4. Stir the greens into the beef and you’re ready to serve! We like to eat this with bone broth rice…you just cook your rice as normal, except you cook the rice in bone broth instead of water.

Inspired by Little Seed: Tempura Cauliflower

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Last week Carnivore Rick and I did something different and went out to dinner with some friends at Little Seed (next to Wray Organics for all you locals).

I say different, because when Rick says he wants to go out for dinner, he’s generally already got his heart set on the Reef and Beef at the Meringandan Hotel! But this time we both wanted to try Little Seed, a vegan/plant based restaurant in town. They’ve started buying our produce recently and we were keen to see what they were creating with it, and also to taste more of their range (because the first day we went there the salads and hot chocolate they gave us to try left a very positive impression! Yum!).

We were very impressed. They are definitely gifted chefs. One of the entree’s, the fried cauliflower wings, was especially delicious, and inspiring, because we had a stack of cauliflower at home to play with. Rick strongly suggested I try making the fried cauliflower at home.

Ours wasn’t quite the same as Little Seeds (theirs was amazing!), but it was still delicious, and the children loved it! This was encouraging, because they usually whinge like there’s no tomorrow if I tell them we’re not eating any meat for dinner!

Excuse the photo, I’d been working in the paddock that day and couldn’t be bothered with stylish food photography!

Here’s what we did:

Tempura batter:

200g organic stoneground flour

4 eggs, separated

4Tbsp cold pressed olive oil

Extra oil for frying

And your cauliflower of course. This much batter should see you through a large cauliflower. We used several smaller purple cauliflower from the garden.

If you are using a standard cauliflower from the shops, you should cook your florets in boiling water for 2 minutes before battering them. Our homegrown cauliflower didn’t require pre-cooking.

Grab a large bowl and add your flour and a pinch of salt

Whisk your egg yolks and 350ml water together. Then whisk this into the flour and add the oil.

Sorry to make more washing up, but now you need to grab a clean bowl and whisk those 4 egg whites until they’re stiff, and then you can fold them into the rest of the batter.

Now the fun part, heat that frying oil and start coating your cauliflower florets in batter and frying them for a couple of minutes until they colour the way you like them πŸ™‚ If they’re big, you may need to fry each side separately. Now place your cooked tempura cauliflower on a plate with paper towel and try to make sure you save some for the rest of your family!

PS I’m sorry to say we’re sold out of cauliflower until the next rotation is ready for harvest! But I wanted to share this with you anyway.

Cauliflower Rice

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Crates of purple cauliflower. That’s what I was faced with in the cold room the other day. Yes, it’s been selling (who wouldn’t want purple vegetables?!), but there’s so much of the stuff that we needed a new way to use it.

One customer mentioned she was making cauliflower rice with her cauliflower, so we decided to give that a go.

It’s so easy! You just remove the bulk of the stem from the cauliflower, grate the rest (we simplified things and used the food processor) and then heat a few tablespoons of oil/butter on the frypan or a large saucepan and gently cook the cauliflower ‘rice’ for 6-8 minutes. We also added some garlic for a flavour boost. Rick and I loved it. The children were a little disappointed they couldn’t have ‘real’ rice with the butter chicken…but they got over it!

And I did have a pic of the finish product…but it mysteriously disappeared from my phone!

What about you, how do you like to use your cauliflower? I notice on the menu for Little Seed Restaurant is fried cauliflower wings in sesame and lime…sounds amazing!

Cooking With Kale by Rena Patten

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Book Review

All you home gardeners will know what it’s like to be hit with a glut of a certain crop…or crops. I’ve always hated waste, but having this market garden, you just gotta get over that, because there will be surplus veg now and then that goes to the chooks.

Kale is something we have an abundance of right now, and I often saute it with other veg in butter…mmmm, butter…hang on, back to the kale! Yes, kale…I was wondering what creative ways kale can be used in other dishes. So off to the local library we went, and found “Cooking With Kale” by Rena Patten.

I must say I’m impressed with the book! As a homesteader and one who’s in favour of agrarianism and using what we have, it’s entirely refreshing to find a book of recipes that are so full of basic, common ingredients. Pantry staples.

And listen to some of Rena’s recipe ideas…Kumera Boats with Kale and Mustard Chicken, Sweet Potato and Kale Stir-Fry, Banana, Chia and Kale Smoothie, Kale Pesto, Potato Kale and Chickpea Curry….lots of good stuff.

Cooking With Kale is also well illustrated with photos that are making me hungrier than I should be at this time of day πŸ™‚

This book is available at the Toowoomba Library (when I return it, that is!) and if you’re looking for some inspiration for your kale crop (or kale you’ve bought from us) then this book is definitely worth checking out.

Lemongrass and Lime Zest Spritzer

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It’s the first time I’ve grown lemongrass. My only previous experience with it was in the form of essential oil. It’s such an uplifting and refreshing scent (and helps with varicose veins!).

But growing it…wow, I can see why lemongrass essential oil is so economical to buy. The stuff grows like a weed!

The other day when venturing out to inspect the pond garden, it was apparent that we needed to find a way to use some of this lemongrass…it’s multiplying rapidly!

Once upon a Donna Hay magazine, there was a recipe for some kind of lemongrass cordial, and the idea struck….what if I made a lemongrass spritzer with soda water? Even better…what if I used lime zest too, since we’re also trying to use up the last of some beautiful limes we were given?

And to top it all off, my family were coming around the next day for a birthday dinner, so there would be a decent sized tasting panel to trial the new recipe on!

The Recipe: Lemongrass and Lime Zest Spritzer

Syrup: Zest of 3 limes

4 stalks Lemongrass, sliced

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

To finish: 2.5L Mineral or soda water

Grab a saucepan and add all your syrup ingredients. Your lime zest and lemongrass are going in now so they can infuse the syrup both while the syrup is heating and cooling.

Bring your syrup to a simmer, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.

Once cool, transfer this mixture to a glass container and place in the fridge to allow to continue infusing overnight.

Just before you area ready to serve, strain the mixture through a sieve and discard your lemongrass and zest.

We poured the syrup into a 3L glass serving jug and then added the 2.5L of soda water. Alternatively, you could pour a little syrup into glasses like you would with cordial, and add the soda water into these individual cups.

And there you have it! A refreshing, unique, homemade beverage.

So what did the tasting panel think?

They all loved it! I’ll definitely be making this one again.

Probiotic Limeade

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It’s exciting when someone has an abundance of produce and shares it with you. Normally we’re the ones with excess, but fruit trees (especially citrus) are something we lack.

So when a new friend said her lime tree was producing prolifically and she was going to have to throw hundreds of limes in the bin if she couldn’t find someone who wanted them…well…we were happy to help find these limes a home! Many of them we’ve given away to customers with their orders, but we definitely were able to make use of many more in our own kitchen.

Probiotic Limeade has been our go-to recipe for these lovely organic limes. You’ve probably heard of the benefits of consuming fermented products. We love our milk kefir and kombucha here. But limeade is a special treat, since we don’t often have bulk limes on hand.

Here’s the recipe:

Juice of 10 limes

3/4 cup sugar (don’t worry, fermentation eats up a lot of the sugar)

3-4 liters of filtered water

milk kefir grains…I used about 3 Tbsp of them

Bring about 2 cups of your water and the sugar to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Then turn off the heat.

While waiting on the sugar, juice your limes and discard any seeds.

Pour your sugar syrup into a glass jug or the like (preferably made of glass or ceramic though…try and avoid plastics and metals), then add the enough of your water to cool the syrup if it’s still hot. How much water you use all up depends on the capacity of your jug or whatever container you’re using. I have a 3L glass jug, so used that.

Add your lime juice and kefir grains.

If needed, top up your jug with more of the filtered water.

Cover your jug/container with a cloth (good idea to secure it with elastic or the like) and allow to sit at room temperature for about 3 days.

Test the limeade periodically to see when it’s done. It will get slightly bubbly (more bubbly the longer you leave it) and the sweetness will fade a little.

When you are happy with the result, pour your limeade through a sieve into bottles and refrigerate. Enjoy! It’s a highly refreshing beverage.

Book Review: Tomato, a Fresh From the Vine Cookbook

By RecipesNo Comments

Tomatoes…if you’ve ever grown them, you’ve probably found yourself in a place where you have more than enough and are looking for new ways to make the most of your harvest! We’ve never grown tomatoes on this scale until this last summer, and we’ve got plenty of late season tomatoes still coming….oh, what to do?

The pantry shelf is lined with canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pasata, tomatoe sauce and ‘sundried’ tomatoes. But still there are more tomatoes harvested every few days.

So thank God for the online library catalogue, where I was able to find “Tomato, A Fresh From the Vine Cookbook” by Lawrence Davis-Hollander. what grabbed my attention was the fact that his recipes are based on heirloom tomatoes. Yes, you can make most tomato recipes with any kind of tomatoes, but the flavour variety of heirlooms is much more contrasted and I think the sugar content of homegrown vine-ripened tomatoes is higher also.

Lawrence has really gone all out in providing a wide range of tomato recipes. It’s expected you’d see recipes for tomato soup, paste, salsa etc, but then there’s some unusual (yet intriguing) recipes such as Bloody Bull (a beverage of Irish pale ale and tomato juice) and “Green Tomato Chocolate Cake” (fully intend to make that one when I get my hands on some suitable beer…yes, it has beer in there along with the green tomatoes!). There are about 150 recipes!

He also tucks in snippets of tomato trivia about various tomato festivals, health benefits of tomatoes and some info on which varieties of heirloom tomatoes you might like to try growing for yourself.

Mmmm, just looking at a picture of the ‘Tomato, Watermelon and Ricotta Salad’ right now!

Many of the recipes within this book have been contributed by celebrity chefs, and throughout the book there are profiles on some of these chefs. Most of the recipes are for fresh dishes, but there is a chapter on preserving the harvest…in case you’re like me and want to save some of the tomato goodness for later in the year!

So if you’re looking for a one-stop tomato recipe book, give this one a go πŸ™‚