Busy producing this and that

6 August 2014

It was one of those special days yesterday - one when the hours dissolved into each other, I had no real work to do and I sat knitting sample dishcloths using leftover yarn from recent projects. I'll be showcasing the dishcloths at the talks I'll be giving in Brisbane in September. I'll have details about them for you soon. Slow and steady was the order of the day. Hanno was working in one of our bathrooms that we're renovating at the moment. Meals were a breeze - homemade sausage rolls and celeriac soup, so apart from the knitting, there wasn't much to do. The sun shone outside, it was neither warm nor cold, and everything went according to plan.

I've been harvesting beetroot, tomatoes and eggs from the backyard and by far, the most abundant of those are the eggs. Our hens are producing between nine and ten eggs every day and have been all through winter. We have been giving away eggs left, right and centre, and using as many as we can in our kitchen.  The other day I made some delicious Portuguese custard tarts, they used up four eggs. It's a very easy recipe and the tarts are moist and luscious; they'd be perfect lunch box or picnic food. I used the recipe from Not Quite Nigella, it was so easy and quick and it made up 12 delicious tarts. There is an excellent tutorial with photos on her site. BTW, I added an extra egg to my custard and it worked well.

I pickled the beetroot and I've shared that recipe before so won't repeat it again, but I did use a different vinegar and it made a remarkable difference. I bought some organic apple cider vinegar and used 125 mls of it along with 125 mls of my regular Cornwells apple cider vinegar. It was so good. I actually drank some of the pickling liquid on its own after we had a small bowl of the beets for lunch on the weekend. The liquid was dark blood red and, simultaneously, it made me feel like a vampire and healthier as soon as I drank it. :- ) My grandmother drank the vinegar dressing after we finished the salads she used to make. We never used oil in those days - olive oil could only be bought in chemist shops/pharmacies then. Most people just used vinegar, salt, pepper and sometimes a little sugar to dress their salads. I still have a preference for non-oily dressings and am quite satisfied with plain vinegar, as long as it's a good one.

The tomatoes will be used fresh and in various meals, I don't have enough to preserve them. But the other preserving I did do last weekend was a grapefruit cordial. The lovely Sandi who lives on a small farm in the next town brought over a large bucket of pink grapefruit recently. I was going to make marmalade but then didn't have the time nor the inclination to cut the peel, and decided to make cordial instead. I made up light sugar syrup and added enough grapefruit juice to make a slightly sweet-sour cordial. We enjoyed it with our lunch when Sunny and Jamie visited on the weekend. Made up with cold, sparkling mineral water, it made a refreshing drink. It is a wonderful thing to be able to make many of these drinks and preserves but I'm truly thankful I have the fresh produce to use.

This is the cute red riding hood coat Hanno and I sent to Alana, Tricia's grand daughter. I hand knit the little mittens to go with it. The coat is a 0 size but Alana is so tiny it might be another year before she gets to wear it.

Life continues to bubble along here. Our days are full of interesting work and frequent breaks and we'd have it no other way. The weather is slowing getting warmer and soon I know I'll be complaining about the hot weather again. I'm enjoying a very slow and lazy August because things will be busy again for me from September onwards.  How is life treating you in your home?


  1. Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a cordial to you? Here it is an alcoholic drink. You never mention alcohol, so I'm assuming it is not. Thank you.

    1. Cordial here is a non-alcholic fruit syrup that is mixed with water or sparking water for drinking, usually in hot weather.

  2. That coat and mittens are just adorable! My little Willa has a similar red cape with a hood (bought by my mother) and she just loves it. I love little girls in red. There's something nice about a strong, vibrant colour on a young child.

    Yesterday I made a large batch of cinnamon scrolls and froze half of them (had to force myself after eating three straight out of the oven). Those Portuguese Tarts have caught my eye now. I used to work in a wholesale Portuguese patisserie and no bought tarts have been able to compare with those fresh out of the oven handmade by old Sousa. I think it's time I tried making them myself!

    Like you, my September is going to be very busy so I'm spending a fair bit of time just sitting on the lounge these days. Just two more weeks of work then I'm on maternity leave! I'm hoping for some nice sunny weather so I can get all the baby clothes and linen out and washed. I hope August continues to treat you well!

  3. The jacket and mittens are so cute! It's nice to hear how content life is at your place at the moment. We've been having a lovely time here too. I've found enough time to get out in the garden at least three times in the last week. I find it really soothes my soul to weed and plant and potter.

  4. my, you have been busy. Love that little outfit with mittens.

  5. It all looks and sounds wonderful Rhonda :D I have mastered the crocheted granny square and am on to my second blanket. I am literally hooked!! I really am delighting in how mindful sitting and crocheting is making me, living with the flow where time passes quickly and you feel just content and happy.

    Love the new lay out of your blog too by the way!

    Warm regards,

  6. I've found the best marmalade method ever here: http://ivyphyllisandme.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/grapefruit-marmalade.html - it's no fuss and I've never had a bad batch. I cheat further and pressure cook my fruit for 20 minutes rather than boiling it on the stove.

    I love the colour of your pickled beetroot, too - it looks delicious!

  7. I had a lovely day at home yesterday too, enjoyed some winter sun on my back in the garden then put a lot of time and thought into my planting calendar and rotations for the veggie garden. It seems very detailed and long winded but also well organised and a good investment in time. Now the garden is planned out I don't have to wonder or remember is it the right time for this or that, it's all there in front of me.

  8. It sounds like the perfect day Rhonda and I love the little mittens and the little red crosses on them to match the jacket. Oh the good life. (reminds me of the show that used to be on TV...I loved it). Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  9. It's great that you have plenty of eggs in the winter. Here our hens slow down when they days are shorter, and we have to manage with far fewer eggs. But it's the middle of summer here now so we have plenty.

    Of course we can't grow tomatoes in our backyard in the winter either. :)

    Glad to see you're enjoying a bountiful harvest.

  10. I love the little coat and mittens - adorable! I stumbled across your blog a few weeks ago and am loving the encouragement here. :-)

  11. Your days sound relaxing and comfortable. Our days have been a lot the same. Harvesting berries and veggies in the morning. Hanging around reading, knitting or going to a lake or beach. We are in the middle of summer here, but it is slowly coming to the end. Acorns are falling, some smaller leaves are changing color and the light is changing. We have lots of eggs too. Ever tried a German Pancake? Yum!

  12. a cold, dry and dry windy August - with birds eating our winter harvest ... on our side of the meridian;-)

    Portuguese custard tarts have a special place in our house as they resemble a traditional melktert (milk tart)....I use Bill Granger's recipe, but will look into Nigella's recipe...Bill's recipe can also be found online.

    Life is treating us with many blessings....:-)

  13. Life is good here, too! When my chocolate cake comes out of the oven, I'll nip up to my Mom's (2 doors up) to see how she is and to water our beans. This year the slugs did NOT get them. We saved ors dog's durr clippings and spread then round the tender young plants, the slugs did not cross it and now the beans are looking good!

  14. Hi Rhonda as always I adore reading your posts today I am doing so from by back balcony with a cup of tea before it gets dark and cold and before the dinner prep starts. When I got home from work I pottered around the house tidying this and that for an hour and then thought yes an hour of reading now...bliss

  15. Hi Ronda,
    I have only recently discovered your blog and am already a huge fan! I treat myself to a short amount of time each evening reading your older posts and it is now a lovely part of my day. Less than a year ago I began the slow journey to a different lifestyle - I have chooks, an allotment, I knit and am going to learn to spin too. I am learning so much from you . My next projects are bread making and I would love to try and make soap following your instructions. Thank you for taking the time to share your life and your skills. I think you are wonderful.x

  16. Sounds like a perfect day!
    I'm going to have to get my hands on some pink grapefruit at some point as the cordial sounds amazing!


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