25 September 2021

Weekend Reading and Home

Hello everyone!  It's Saturday morning here, I've just come back from doing a small top-up grocery shop, and now I'm here at the screen with the fan on. It's a big football weekend here and I noticed a lot of men at the supermarket, with their children, shopping for BBQ and snack foods. Lots of steaks, sausages, salads, crackers, cheese, soft drinks, lollies and whatever else to fill bellies when they have their long awaited football grand final parties later today.  I hope the mums were still in bed having a sleep in but I'm guessing they were up getting the house ready for guests.

I closed the gate behind me when I came home and I'm looking forward to a quiet day with Hanno and Gracie. If there is any excitement here today it might be a movie later this afternoon but it could also be just pottering around in the garden watching the birds.

I'm getting used to the warmer temperatures and even though I know just how hot and humid it will be in a few months, at the moment it feels good to be warming up. So, what have I done this week?  Well, apart from the regular cooking, cleaning and gardening, I cleaned some kitchen drawers, got rid of some  drinking glasses but I still need to reorganise my tea towel and dishcloth drawer. I'll do that next week.

Assorted bowls and lids. I use old crockery lids and silicone lids for the many bowls I use.

I changed the face of the blog using the photo above from the lounge room. I'm currently working on adding an emailing service to the blog for those who wish to subscribe via email. Google stopped the last one we had in July. That will be up soon.

We ate lots of delicious local strawberries, I used up some dried apricots in the cupboard by making a custard and apricot slice and made a cinnamon tea cake when Sunny and Jamie came over for morning tea. During the week our meals have been mushroom omelettes, spinach ravioli in vegetable broth, corned beef, cabbage and potatoes and yesterday, corned beef hash. Today's lunch will be roast chicken with coleslaw and green salad with apricot and custard slice for dessert.

I hope you and your family are well and staying safe. When I'm out in the garden I often think about the regulars who come here and I wonder what you're doing. I know many countries are still struggling with Covid, as are we in parts of Australia.  Wherever you are, I send love and hope that things will improve soon as more people are vaccinated.

Weekend Reading


21 September 2021

How to grow ginger

I just checked my local Woolworths online and fresh ginger is currently $45 a kilo! If you use a lot of ginger in your food and drinks, it would probably be worth investing some some time and energy in growing six months worth of ginger.  

There are a few fresh herbs that pay off in the home garden too. If you're like me and use a lot of herbs in your home cooking, you will save money if you set yourself up with your favourite herbs either in the garden or in a few pots in the sunshine near the back door.  Fresh herbs cost $3 each per bunch here, so if you use parsley, green onions, thyme, basil, or whatever, you'd spend $20 just on herbs every week. If you buy a bag of potting mix and some seedlings, it might cost $20 - $30 but you'd grow herbs all year with that. If you buy four bunches of herbs every week for a year at $20, you'll spend over one thousand dollars just on herbs.

This is the ginger I harvested last week.  You can see one green bud just left of centre.

But let's get back to ginger. I grow it mainly for baking and drinks. In a warm climate, it's easy to grow and it's one of those crops that you can leave in the ground for a while. It will not tolerate frosts so if you're likely to get frosts, grow the ginger outdoors until the cold weather arrives and then move the pot to a sunny warm place to continue growing. It will take 6 - 9 months for ginger to reach maturity and be ready for harvest. The colder the climate, the longer it takes.

    1. Buy ginger to plant from either your local plant nursery or look for healthy ginger, preferably with green buds or small shoots, at the market. If you buy a big piece, you can cut it into smaller 3 - 5 cm pieces to plant out.
    2. The best pot is a wide pot that isn't too tall.  I use an old baby bath (see photo below) and it's the ideal size.  Place the pot in a sunny spot out of the wind
    3. Fill the pot with good quality potting mix, NOT garden soil, with some compost or old cow manure added.
    4. Plant with the bud or shoot up, about about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart.  Water in well.  Keep an eye on them until the ginger send up shoots and don't let them dry out.  Water about 3 - 4 times a week in a hot climate and less in a colder place. 
    5. Fertilise every two weeks with a weak liquid fertiliser such as homemade comfrey fertiliser, an organic liquid or seaweed solution.
    6. They'll be ready to harvest when the shoots are about 3 feet/1 metre tall and they begin to die back. Harvest the entire plant and cut off a few pieces to replant for your followup crop.  Do that straight away.

This is the ginger I grow in an enamel baby's bath.

Grating ginger to make ginger syrup. I use this in hot black tea during winter or with icy cold mineral water in summer. 

Ginger can stay in the ground for a couple of weeks if you can't harvest straight away, or dig them up, clean them thoroughly and store in the freezer, unpeeled. They'll last well for about six months.

Ginger Beer
If you want a real treat, especially at Christmas, make a batch of ginger beer.  It used to be a very popular drink at Christmas in Australia when I was growing up.  Here is my recipe, with photos.   

Ginger Syrup
To make ginger syrup, simply grate or finely chop a large piece of ginger root, you'll need at least a cup full of ginger. Don't get too precious with the amounts - it doesn't have to be exact.

To 2 litres of water add two cups of sugar and bring to the boil. When the sugar has dissolved, add the ginger and simmer the mix for an hour. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the saucepan, and leave it sitting on the stove overnight to develop flavour.

The next day, pour the mix through a fine strainer to remove the ginger pulp and store the liquid in a sealed, sterilised bottle. Use this mix as you would use any cordial - a small amount mixed with cold tap water or mineral water. Generally this is about one part syrup to four parts water but the amount you use will depend on your own taste. Experiment until you find the right balance. It can be stored in the  fridge.

Don't throw out the ginger pulp, you'll get a second batch from it. Collect the used ginger, add it back to the saucepan and use half the amount of water and sugar you used for the first batch. The process is the same - bring to the boil, simmer for an hour, turn the heat off and leave the mix on the stove overnight. Bottle the following day.

Good luck with your gingers!


18 September 2021

Weekend Reading, Garden, Hanno's birthday

Surprisingly, life is rolling along nicely here despite the chaos that Covid is causing in Australia and around the rest of the world. We don't go out much, usually just for groceries or medical appointments, so when our gate is closed, we're in this slow bubble that feels like we're working on a small and isolated homestead. But it's not as quiet as you may think because our family visits, or they phone to ask if we want anything at Costco or Ikea when they go there, and, of course, we see the grandkids too. It's just the right mix of house and yard work, quiet time and being social when we have visitors.

This is the Digiplexis with its first flower spike, the background flowers are wallflowers.

Standard Mary Rose, cut back and just starting to shoot again with snap dragons, salvia and geranium. 

The back garden is 99 percent complete and I'm pleased to say it's flowering beautifully. I cook our main meal at lunchtime and after cleaning up I'm usually out in the garden by about 2pm.  It's such a pleasure to sit out there watching the birds and enjoying the fresh air. We have a flock a homing pigeons a few doors up and late in the afternoon they're let out to swoop and fly around the neighbourhood. It's a sight to see. And just this week the Willy Wagtails arrived from Papua New Guinea so I've been watching their antics as they fly overhead.  If you look up, it could be lorikeets, King parrots, cockatoos, ducks or geese, but there's usually something to see.

I harvested this big ginger yesterday - it's 23 cm / 9 inches long.

Hanno harvested and juiced some of our lemons during the week so I froze some and made a couple of bottles of lemon cordial. I think homemade lemon cordial, with either icy filtered water or mineral water is one of the best summer drinks.

Today, I'm going to reorganise the tea towel and dishcloth drawer. I admit it, I've gone a bit mad with the dishcloths so I have to take out some of the old tea towels to get everything in. While I'm at it, I'll clean and reorganise the three drawers under the stove.  They contain the main plates and bowls we use as well as mixing and serving bowls, with frying pans below. Now that we're older, I try  to keep everything we use on a daily basis within easy reach. If I don't have to struggle with daily chores it gives me more time and energy to do things I enjoy. I hope to get all the drawers done before lunch. We're having another quiche today because when I shopped during the week I bought some fresh asparagus.  When you don't buy out of season vegetables and wait for their prime time, it's always exciting when they come in season and use them when they're at their cheapest and most tasty.

We have a very special day tomorrow.  Hanno's birthday, he's 81 years old.  I've asked him if he wants to go out for lunch and he's "thinking about it". My guess is that we'll have lunch here.  Hanno's had a hard time of it this past year so everything is slower now and there are more cups of tea on the front verandah.

Summer Memories, an off-white potted rose in the backyard.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I send warm wishes to everyone in lockdown and hope life improves soon. Take care of yourself, enjoy every day and take it easy.  💖

Weekend Reading


11 September 2021

Weekend Reading, Gardening and Baking

This week went by so fast and I didn't get everything done that I wanted to do. But there is always time next week. Hanno had another bleed into his eye and had to have a minor operation at his eye specialist's rooms. I drove him over and got him safely back. I had my hair cut yesterday and the rest of the time I've been doing my normal chores and gardening. I'm pleased to tell you that the garden should be finished tomorrow. I just have to put down some weed mat, which I've cut out, plant a new rose - Elina and lay mulch on one garden. Kerry dug a hole for the rose last week so tomorrow I'll half fill it with our compost and water the area well. The rose is soaking in Seasol at the moment and will be planted this afternoon when it's shady. Roses can live for 100 years so it's a privilege for me to introduce it to a new home. I hope it has a long life and continues to watch over this land when I'm gone.

It looks like a bandicoot has been digging around the roots of my climbing rose.  I'll cover it with weed mat today and hopefully the bandicoot will look for food in other parts of the garden.

A trug full of rainbow chard for lunch yesterday. I used it to make a pie.  Photo below.

These are baboon flowers - a flower from South Africa that baboons eat. They're planted next to the mini pickling cucumbers. 

Here is the more practical side of the garden, I've just moved a mauve trumpet creeper there but I have to move it to a larger pot today. It's also an area where I put plants I want to keep but have no room for - now an agave and a clump of iris. Also a bird bath, bee hotel, comfrey clump and compost heap.

I'm looking forward to having the garden finished and the start of the pruning, watering and maintenance stage. It's a wonderful place to sit and think and will be worth every minute I've put into it. I've got a pair of binoculars now so I have a better view of what the birds are doing even in trees far away.

This is the pie I made with the chard. It's filo pastry with chard, onions, garlic, eggs and cream.

And for morning teas - a vanilla cake with lemon icing.

These biscuits will go to Jamie and family. They're dark chocolate with pulverised Brazil nuts.

One final piece of good news, I'm featured in the next edition of Taproot Magazine, Sustain. Savitha Rao wrote an article about four of us simple living bloggers. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks Savitha.

Thank you for being here today. I love having contact with my readers and it always inspires me to write more. Have a wonderful weekend, take care of yourself and take it easy.

🍋 🐝 🍋 🐝 🍋  

Weekend Reading


4 September 2021

Weekend Reading, Housework and Cleaning

We had a busy week, not because we had a lot to do but the things we did took their own sweet time. It's not easy getting old and the amount of time I take now to do "normal" things frustrates me. I did click and collect for my groceries which helped a lot and the week turned out to be a bit of cleaning, a trip to Ikea and gardening. I was really grateful to my son Kerry who came over and dug a hole for a rose to be planted and did some weeding. Not the most exciting thing for him to do on his days off but I appreciated it a lot. Thanks Kerry!  Yesterday, grandma Donna and I had another Zoom chat. That 90 minutes went so fast! We've got a lot in common and I enjoy discussing all aspects of homes and homemaking with her.

I had a couple of things to return to Ikea and while we were there I picked up some dishcloths, tea towels and silicone bowl covers. We were in and out in record time and drove home well before I expected to.

I added the new cloths and tea towels to my stash after they'd been cleaned and dried. Later on in the week I soaked the old cloths because some had small stains on them.  Most came out well but two cloths and two tea towels had to be boiled on the stove with Disan added. I left them in the saucepan until they'd cooled down a bit and was very pleased as every stain was gone.

This is the rose I planted as a bare rooted stick in July.  I'll train it up the trellis now so it will be a feature of the garden you can easily see from the house.

Today and next week I'm tidying the garden, planting a couple of new plants, putting down weed mat with sugar cane mulch on top, planting up a few pots pots, deadheading and pruning. When I'm happy with the garden, I'll fertilise it all and tie a few things back. I'm looking forward to it all. 

I hope you have a lovely weekend too and do things that make you happy. Thank you for being here today and for your visits to my IG page. 😊

🍓 🦋 🍉


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