Friends, flowers and figs

How wonderful are friends and how lucky am I!

Every week I spend time volunteering at a local community house called Segue, in Stratford, and it is here that I have made some wonderful friends. We love to share our experiences, plants and produce from each other’s gardens and stories and the occasional cuppa.

One friend, Shirley, often brings a bunch of beautiful flowers from her garden, and these flowers have convinced us we need to plant a protea or two in our garden.    She also has access to a neighbours’ fruit trees, and has kept me well supplied with figs. In return I give her fig vinegar, along with various jams, chutnies or relish that I may be making at the time. I also make sure that there are preserves set aside for our little produce stall at Segue where we raise money for our “Garden for the Community”.

I have written about making and using fig vinegar in earlier posts and recipes, but there was an issue that I had with it. After making the vinegar, the solids were thrown into the compost! This tormented me, it seemed such a waste! To me, figs are such a precious commodity – so what to do? It took me a while, but then I thought… well, really, the figs have just been steeping in blend of balsamic and cider vinegar, and relish has vinegar in it. Figs go beautifully with purple onion, and with the addition of few other ingredients, I soon had a use for the bi-product of my fig vinegar – Fig & Purple Onion Relish. Continue reading

My Morning Commute…

I love my morning commute – I cannot believe how lucky that I am to be driving the country roads, as I head out early in the morning to collect the produce required for our weekly cook.  The only problem is that nature often stops me in my tracks, quite literally!  I tend to drive the back roads, and have now taken to carrying my camera with me to try and capture natures beauty.

The morning light, the morning fog, the morning frost, the morning rainbow…  My Morning Commute #12

Today I almost stopped to take a photo of a puddle, but decided to keep going.  Wish I had stopped to take a photo of the puddle.

I often find myself smiling as I drive, thinking of the lifestyle change we have made.  Who would have thought that this ex-(city) secretary, is now cooking food for a local cafe, providing catering for meetings and even supplying a local farm gate with product.

This is where I live, and this is my morning commute, no traffic lights, almost no traffic, though occasionally stopping to allow the cows to cross the road, and of course, often stopping to take in nature’s beauty..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Until next time…

Caricature

Gifts from a Neglected Garden

The last twelve months have been nothing short of chaotic, resulting in so many things being neglected, one of which is our garden. The vegie patch was overrun with weeds and I felt that I wasn’t getting the produce that I should from it, given that I didn’t have time to care for the soil, plant out all the seeds and seedlings that I had planned to, etc.

I had planted some sweet potato slips in late spring/early summer and they took over, neglecting to climb the wire that I had set up in preference to rambling all over the footpaths and garden beds. I eventually got so frustrated with the mess that, about a month ago, I decided it was time to pull them out, telling myself that I would never to grow them again. I had planted one little row, about one meter, or a tad over 3 feet long. What a surprise when I started digging down. My neglected garden had provided us with a lovely basket full (almost 4 kilograms / 8 lbs) of beautiful tubers destined for our kitchen.

The tomatoes did not do as well as they should, but it appears that it was not the season for tomatoes for most that I spoke to (it was a very harsh summer), however we had enough for everyday use and for making the annual batch of tomato sauce, a much sought after family favourite. The pumpkin vines that I had growing up archways provided a few fruit and the beans were plentiful resulting in a well stocked freezer.

Continue reading

Persimmons from the Blue Mountains

A recent trip to visit family and friends provided us with the opportunity for a brief stay in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. This was my first visit, and nothing could have prepared me for the majestic beauty that Mother Nature had created. As we walked to the viewing area from our car, I was in awe of what was before me – the size, the beauty, the colours… I had heard of the “Three Sisters” and now here they were before me in all their glorious, natural splendor.

Continue reading

Apricot and Lavender Jam & Beautiful Memories of La Cascade de Saintonge

I have been struggling to know what to write about since my last post, but recently the inspiration arrived in a couple of plastic bags handed to me by a fellow volunteer at Segue.  When I looked inside I was initially delighted to see apricots, however, upon closer inspection, it was apparent that they were very ordinary looking apricots.

Arriving back home, I walked into the kitchen and put the bags on the kitchen bench while I got on with my work.  It was as I worked that it occurred to me I had been handed the inspiration I needed to write this blog, and also what I needed to do to turn the ugly apricots into little pots of deliciousness.

I would make Apricot and Lavender Jam!

With no French lavender growing in my garden, I needed to try and find some, I knew there was a little over at Segue, so hopped into the car and drove over to check it out.  But there were only a few tiny sprigs, simply not enough.  Later that evening I picked up my phone and sent a couple of quick messages to ask if anyone had French Lavender that I could use in cooking…  Bingo!  The same volunteer who had handed me the apricots, had French lavender growing in her garden.

Continue reading

1 2 18