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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Blogger Burnout

Lately, blog writing has become a task on my to do list. It used to motivate and satisfy me and make me smile. It's not doing that as much for me lately. And I can't help wondering if I might get more checked off my to do list if I spent less time sitting at the keyboard.

So I've decided its time to take a blog holiday.

Of course, I'll still be reading what's going on in your gardens and getting inspired and being reminding of the things I should be planting.

I hope I will be back... but I will let autumn pass first and then decide.

So I'll leave for now with a couple of snaps of the garden mid autumn. Weeds and mess and all.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Garden Gobbles

There's not much producing in the garden at the moment. Although I'm still getting Summer stuff - beans, chillis, basil. And I've got green capsicums. I wonder if they'll ever turn red? I really am not keen on green capsicum.

Anyway, today's garden gobbles is a bit lame I'm afraid. I sometimes make a vegetarian sausage stew - you know those veggie sausages you can buy in the supermarket? Well I let them simmer away with a tin of tomatoes and other veggies and serve it all with rice. Our whole family likes veggie sausage stew. Well the next day I ate the leftovers but I made it with some zing - chilli. And I bulked it up by chucking in a handful of yellow beans. So that's what I'm presenting for today's garden gobbles... leftovers. Hopefully next week I can manage something a bit more inspiring.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Aloe Vera & Other Air Improving Plants

aloe vera plant
Over the last couple of years I've been filling my house with plants. And attempting to keep them all alive. Not just 'cos they look good, but also because it's been proven that some plants actually improve the air.  A NASA study found that some plants remove as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.

Plants can remove the chemicals:
Trichloroethylene (TCE) which is considered a potent liver carcinogen found in such things as inks, paints and glues.
Benzene an eye and skin irritant which can be found in, for example, paints, plastics, and rubber.
Formaldehyde which is found all over the place in the home. It is used in particle board and pressed wood products, paper products, cleaning products, carpets and cooking fuels like natural gas. Formaldehyde is an irritant which in high exposure can cause headaches. Asthma has been linked to formaldehyde exposure.

There was a study of plants in an office building in India that found the incidence of eye irritation reduced by 52%, lower respiratory symptoms by 34%, headaches by 24%, upper respiratory symptoms by 20%, lung impairment by 10-12% and Asthma by 9%. You can read about that here.

A list of air filtering plants can be found here. They include: Mother-in-Laws Tongue, Peace Lily, Heart-Leaf Philodendron, Bamboo Palm and Spider Plant.
Mother-in-Law's Tongue & Peace Lily
Anyway, I have plants in my lounge and kitchen and bathroom. All over the place in fact. But not in my bedroom. I did initially have a couple of beauties in there. Until I was reminded on this very blog by something I think I learned in high school. That plants do something tricky at night time - photosynthesis shuts down and they produce carbon dioxide just like us. So it's probably not a good idea to have them in your bedroom.

Then, last week I read that aloe vera plants are a bit different to others in that they do produce oxygen at night ... and so do Mother-in-Laws Tongue and cactus.

This news excited me greatly because I just happened to have an aloe vera plant in a pot outside that has been multiplying and is looking rather healthy. So I thought I'd clean up the pot and pop it beside my bed.

And that very night I jumped into bed and started to bore Monkey Man with my limited scientific knowledge about plants and how I was sure I could already breathe easier in this room. And I instructed Monkey Man to suck up that fresh super-oxygenated air that was being produced by the magic of aloe vera. And then I looked at my lovely, oxygenating aloe vera plant and noticed something that shut me up rather quickly. Three fat, slimy slugs and a snail were slithering their way all over my plant, only a few centimetres from my face.

It seems that those stupid self-watering pots with the little hole at the bottom probably ought not to be put outside and then brought back in a few months later. They provide lovely daytime hidey holes for creatures.  Icky creatures that do not belong in the bedroom. So after begging Monkey Man to dispose of the slugs, I stuffed the hole with tissues and tried not to think of the possibility of red back spiders creeping out of the plant hole and into my bed while I slept a sound sleep sucking up that super fresh air.





Thursday, April 18, 2013

Garden Gobbles - Basil Pesto



Monday, April 15, 2013

Labelling

Note to self: Start Labelling.

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a frenzy of garden activity - planting seeds all over the place, pulling out weeds, digging up new beds, re-potting pots and laying out mulch. And now I am starting to reap the rewards with little seedlings popping up everywhere. Problem is I can't quite remember what everything is. I know I planted peas and snow peas in front of all the trellises. But whether these are snow peas or snap peas or ordinary peas I couldn't say.
 And I know I planted carrot seeds in this whopping big basket. But I also planted something else in there... dill? coriander? And I'm not sure if those seedlings are carrot or some other sort of herb?
And I know for sure that this is where I planted broad beans. But what on earth possessed me to plant them in rows? I never plant in rows. I really confused myself when they started popping up in such an orderly fashion. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Garden Gobbles - Rosemary Oat Biscuits

Rosemary Oat Biscuits
The other week I disclosed that I was on weight watchers. Well, today's Garden Gobbles features a weight watchers recipe using rosemary from the garden. I am always looking for a savoury snack that will hit the spot in the afternoon. I often find myself eating those rice crackers that are loaded with salt. And I know they're not good for me. I just don't usually get around to baking savoury snacks.

Anyway, I came across this recipe and thought I'd give it a go. Even though it did look rather bland. And a bit wholesome-hippy. It tasted however, surprisingly good to me. Especially with a smidge of low fat feta. And it filled me up. And it was only one weight watchers pro point per bikkie.

Rosemary Oat Biscuits

1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch bicarb soda
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1tbs olive oil
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 140C . Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Combine oats, salt, bicarb and rosemary in a bowl. Mix and add black pepper.
Make a well and add the oil and 1/3 cup hot water. Using wet hands mix it up and squish it together until it makes a ball. Turn it onto a baking sheet and squash it til it's about 7mm thick.  Using a 6cm round cutter, cut rounds from the dough. Squish together the scraps and repeat to make 12 biscuits. Bake for 40-45 minutes. The recipe says bake til they are crisp and golden... I don't reckon these biscuits are ever going golden. But I was happy with chewy and holding together.

What have you been cooking from the garden?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Five Broody Chooks

Last week every single one of my chooks was broody.  Three of them squished into the two nesting boxes and two sitting nearby doing nothing all day and all night. Silkies I'm afraid are notorious for going broody. But usually I have one sitting about wanting to be a mum not all five. 

Anyway, I've heard all about cures for broodiness but I tend to just let them be. I've found that eventually they get bored and come out to play. But after the fourth day I got fed up with them. So I moved their food and drink outside, kicked them out of the coop and locked the door. Boy did they get cross.

There was a fair bit of bokking and pacing and looking rather put out. And then they got a bit cranky with each other. If Golden Girl got too close to Puff she'd get a peck and a chase about. And then Fluff wanted a bit of the action and she started to squawk and chase and peck Beverley. But I didn't have too much sympathy for them considering they'd forced me to go buy a dozen eggs down the shops. And I kept them locked out of their coop for the entire day.

But it worked.

At least for three of them.

The next day Fluff, Puff and Beverley decided it was more fun outside scratching about. So now I only have two broody chooks. Still no eggs but at least three of them are seeing some daylight.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Garden Gobbles - Spaghetti Squash Fritters

This week I used the last of the spaghetti squash. Sounds impressive doesn't it? Like I had oodles and oodles of spaghetti squash just hanging off the fence over summer. Nope. Actually I had just the two.

Anyway, after the first one I wasn't all that impressed with the flavour. I'm not a squash sort of girl. Nevertheless I reckon I'll be growing it again next year. 'Cos it was easy and filling and I've collected the seeds. So I let the last of the squash hang about on the trellis for a few weeks while I figured out something appetising to do with it. I reckon that anything tastes good fried. (I would think that at the moment while I'm dieting!) And my little monkeys love anything squished into a circular shape, fried and called a pancake. So I made these fritters. But I called them pancakes when I presented them. I think if I was doing them again I would add a bit of flour (maybe pea flour or gram flour) to make them a bit more solid. You need to be careful with these ones and not fiddle about with them in the pan - only flip them when they're brown or they'll break.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters

• 1 spaghetti squash
• 100g ricotta cheese
• 2 eggs
• a bunch of herbs from the garden
• oil for frying

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Bake face down on a tray in the oven for about 45 minutes.
When cooked, scoop out the spaghetti using a fork and plonk it in a bowl. Add to the bowl the herbs, ricotta cheese, eggs and a bit of salt and pepper and mix it all up.
Heat a fair bit of oil in a fry pan. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. When they are golden on one side carefully flip them over (watch out they are fragile).
Drain on paper towel and serve with salad.


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