A visit with friends to help prune the vines

Another busy week in SBA’s kitchen and beyond…

Last weekend we were invited to visit with friends for the pruning of the vines in their little vineyard – well I should say so that Gary could help with the pruning of the vines! The weather was freezing. We were up very early on Saturday morning, about 5am as we had a long drive ahead of us. We quickly packed, had a hot drink and even remembered to put in the sponge that I had baked, which is fondly referred to in our family as Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake. We arrived after a 3 ½ hour drive, Gary did all of the driving, while I studied for my next French lesson. When we got there, Gary headed straight down to help John and George in the vineyard, while I enjoyed the warmth of the family home, a lovely hot cup of tea and a great catch up with Vicki.

At lunch time, Vicki and I prepared some salad, while John cooked beautifully tender steak and toasted some rye bread, and we all enjoyed a steak sandwich for our lunch while standing around the open fire outside the cellar. As soon as they had finished eating, the men headed back to work. I went down and took a few photos before heading back up to

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the house with Vicki. That night we enjoyed a wonderful meal of slow cooked pork belly with roast pumpkin, potato and fennel, and steamed broccoli and beans. It was delicious. We spent the night at our friends’ home before returning home on Sunday.


The view from our room on Sunday morning

But before we left we enjoyed a lovely hot breakfast and witnessed a lovely rainbow. DSC03864

Back home we started to prepare for the arrival of my sister and three friends on Monday.

While Sonnie and one friend arrived early afternoon, the other friends arrived early evening, all having traveled from Melbourne. Gary and I had spent the time since returning home preparing for their arrival. Gary had the yard and house looking wonderful, and all of the breakfast food had been prepared – poached fresh and dried fruits, homemade yoghurt, Véronique’s Brioche, a cob of grainy bread and a really nice


Crunchy Gluten Free Granola, which I had put together just to have something crunchy to have with the yoghurt and fruit.

For dinner that night, we had decided to prepare smoked ribs. So I prepared a rub, and the ribs were smoked for about seven hours in our smoker. I also put in some sweet potatoes and other potatoes to be used later for soup making etc. I wanted to serve the ribs with a simple potato bake, so made it using chicken stock rather than the usual cream and milk. It is not quite as rich, but just as delicious. Then I wanted a salad, a kind of coleslaw but with fennel, apple etc. So when I set to making that, I took the mandolin out and set a large bowl ready. I didn’t think I had enough fennel, but was soon to find out that I had plenty and quickly went looking for a larger dish, which turned out to be a roasting dish. The recipe changed as I was making it, there was no cabbage needed, so that went back into the fridge. I had bought crème fraiche to make the dressing, but didn’t touch it, instead I used horseradish cream, blood orange vinegar and some amazing fresh extra virgin olive oil. The resulting salad was a delicious DSC03887Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw. With everyone here and around the table we served up the meal. The conversation was loud and at times absolutely hilarious – thank you Sonnie and Anna….

DSC03890 (1)The next morning I was up early studying again, before everyone else was out of bed. I had set the table for breakfast the previous night after everyone had gone to bed, so all I had to do in the morning was set the brioche in the oven to warm, slice the bread, put out a plate of sliced cheese, as well as the yoghurt and stewed fruit. People slowly started to appear and when we were all ready, we sat down to another great meal time of food and great conversation. I had to quickly excuse myself (and leave them to clean up) as I had my French Lesson at 10:30. You know, I think I am starting to get it a little!

Anyway, French lesson done, and eggs from my teacher, I decided to stop at the farm gate on the way home for some more to send home with our guests. Lunch was easy – the Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw left over fromDSC03897 the previous night, sliced ham, homemade bread, and one of the smoked sweet potatoes roughly mashed, topped with some homemade cheese, diced red capsicum, finely diced green chilli and a sprinkling of piment d’espelette (French chilli powder) and baked in the oven.  The general consensus was that the salad had developed in flavour and improved even more since the night before.

We had a lovely relaxing afternoon and evening together, wandered around the garden, sat in the sitting room with the heater on, enjoyed some homemade liqueurs in the evening, lots of chatting and laughing.

The next morning we were up early, some of our guests had to be on the road by 8 am and we wanted to make sure that they had had a good meal before the road trip back home. We made bacon and eggs. That is bacon and egg sandwiches, as well as fried eggs, poached eggs, tomatoes, bacon and toast. Everyone returned home with a dozen fresh eggs, a bottle of my homemade Worcestershire Sauce and a bottle of my homemade Tomato Sauce. We can’t have them leaving empty handed, now, can we…

So my friends, that is what has been going on here.

Not much time in the garden, I’m afraid, but did get a bit more work done on the “Grand Old Dame”, still plenty more to go though.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Crunchy Granola

Nana’s Chocolate Cream Cake (with gluten free option)

Fennel, Apple and Orange Slaw

Véronique’s Brioche


2 thoughts on “A visit with friends to help prune the vines

  1. I am enjoying reading about your gardening, cooking and rural life style. Sounds wonderful. I intend to try the granola, the coffee addition is interesting, maybe I won’t need my morning coffee!

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