Getting back on track…

The last seven or eight months have been very full on, and I feel as if I have lost control of my goals and dreams…

So it’s time to change all of that and pull myself back on track. Time to become a little more routined and diligent, to pursue my dreams and be the person that I want to be… Continue reading


I still remember the joy of fresh bread, lashings of homemade apricot jam, and the cream! Fresh cream, real cream, not the homogenised, pasturised stuff from the supermarket shelf – just fresh, runny cream, no sugar, not whipped, just pure fresh cream dribbling over the edge of the bread.- Oh the memories …

We now have two apricot trees in our garden, a Moorpark – supposedly rich in flavour making it great for fresh fruit, jam, drying, stewing and juice, and a Blenheim, said to be one of the most flavourful of apricots around! However, like all of our fruit trees, they have only been in the ground for six months, which means that we must be patient, and wait until they grow before we see a nice crop.


We did have a tiny surprise though – just after Christmas I spotted one solitary little apricot. It had been hiding and growing out of our sight and, fortunately, out of the sight of the birds. I watched it carefully, trying to make sure that the birds did not beat us to it. Then early last week, when I checked on it, I discovered that a grub had made it’s mark – I hadn’t counted on that, so quickly whisked it off the tree, and took it to the kitchen, where it became a simple little sweet treat to finish our evening meal – A simple apricot pastry.

Given the lack of fruit from the garden at the moment, I am constantly on the watch for a good buy, and was delighted to read a little add in the local newspaper for apricots. I made a call and was able to pick up 10kg, which lead to a couple of heavy days in the kitchen! But from that 10kg, we now have 14 jars of apricot halves in a light syrup, 15 jars of Worcestershire sauce, and 10 jars of apricot jam in the store.

There were a few left over so whipped up an apricot and pine nut tart – gluten free.

You know, apricot jam is not only great as a spread, but it can also be used to flavour meat dishes too, and the apricot halves can be used to make delicious sweet treats such as clafoutis, charlottes, tarts etc, but will also used in savoury dishes, including a favourite – Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger! As for the Worcestershire sauce, it’s always handy to lift an otherwise dull dish!

So now that the store is stocked up with apricot preserves, it is my plan to highlight some of them in recipes over the coming months.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!



The Vegie Patch – Six weeks later!

It is six weeks since I announced that The Corner Patch had now become a Vegie Patch, and look at it now.

With the Christmas Festivities in full swing, I was struggling to find time to get out to work in it, but somehow managed to steal an hour here and there, and while most things have been planted much later than they should have been, they appear to almost be growing before our eyes.

All the fruit trees have now been trimmed and tied to the wires to train them for the espaliered fruit edging of the area, and, with much persistence, Duchess, for the moment, has been blocked from the area – every now and then, I’d hear a noise, or see a movement, and there she was, making her way along the edge totally oblivious to the fact that I was there! But letting her know she had been discovered and best leave, she would show me where she was entering thus giving me another job to do, in blocking her route!

Some of the plants in the patch have travelled with us, and are siblings of plants that my parents grew quite some years ago – rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus, I also continue to try and grow everything from seed. Having the plants from my parents makes the vegie patch an even more special place to be.

All of the strawberries (except the three pretty pink flowering ones) are siblings of those that my beautiful dad, who is now with the angels, gave to me many years ago, and the asparagus, my gorgeous mum nurtured to what is now a good sized patch at our old family home.


It was so hard to leave the asparagus run up to fern – but if we want to have a bounty of this delicious treat we must be patient – hopefully next year!


The rhubarb, well, I think it’s from plants that we had growing when I was a child, and that is a long time ago! I still remember the bowls of rhubarb and custard our mum would put before us to finish a meal. We were very lucky…


The rhubarb patch.

I persist with growing almost everything from seed – unfortunately I had to admit defeat on a couple of fronts, although having planted more seed, maybe should not have caved so early. But I am so excited to say, that given I had a lot of seedlings ready to go, we are already enjoying the fruits of our labour at meal time – strawberries with our breakfast; salads using various leaves, edible flowers and fresh herbs; snow peas in our stir fries, rhubarb and strawberry compote with our yoghurt; and our one solitary apricot became a little dessert to finish an evening meal this week.

They say that gardening is wonderful for your health – how true. You can exercise, relax and wind down almost simultaneously! You are providing flowers to fill your vases, food for your table and nutrition for your body! What a wonderful and giving hobby it is…

Until next time…

Bon appétit!



Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

Sustainable Gardening Australia


A little time to relax in the kitchen.

After such a frantic few weeks, a couple of days ago I took a little time to relax in the kitchen and re-energise. So put on some music and got to it…

The first thing I did was put on a little lamb chump pot roast for our dinner, this lamb has been sourced locally from Forge Creek Lamb, and I am really enjoying trying new recipes with it. Then I set to curing a piece of salmon ready to go into the cold smoker on Saturday. Cold smoking salmon is a long process, the salmon needs to be salted and left to cure for at least six hours, then washed and patted dry, then left uncovered in the fridge for at least another 24 hours before being placed into the cold smoker for at least 6 hours… I decided to amp up the cure a little, and added some juniper berries, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and fennel seeds. So we’ll see how it goes.

Next on the list was a basic biscuit, crisp coconut biscuits. This recipe is great for a biscuit that goes wonderfully with a cuppa, however, it is also perfect for anything that you need a melt and mix biscuit base for, and it’s gluten free. Finally, I made another batch of crunchy gluten free granola. This time, though, I added some goji berries, into the mix – they look like little red jewels, plus they are so good for you.

The lamb was delicious, I had added some bacon rind and fat that I had removed from some beautiful free range Berkshire pork bacon, purchased from one of the local

producers, Coltish Pork – these bacon scraps added a slight smokiness to the sauce. I served the lamb with a mash of two potatoes that was flavoured with cumin and little cheese, and to lighten the meal a little, some steamed greens.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!


Crisp Coconut Biscuits (Gluten Free)

Crunchy Gluten Free Granola

Slow Cooked Whole Lamb Chump

Gluten Free Flour Blend



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