Eggplant Everywhere

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For the past few years I have grown eggplant pretty successfully with minimal effort. In our climate it grows without supplementary watering, is generally resistant to pests and vagaries of the weather and, most importantly, the fruit mature gradually and I don’t end up with a massive glut of produce.

It is definitely a crop worth growing as they are generally $6.95/kg at our greengrocer.

I think eggplant are quite underrated. Here are some of my favourite dishes that I have made recently.

Roasted eggplant slices on a vegetarian pizza.

Ready to pop in the oven to roast.

The finished pizza.

Eggplant and Bean Curry

Sauteed eggplant and some leftover spicy chicken with a bit of tamari and served with cauliflower in cheese sauce. There is no photo of this one.

Eggplant often does not look particularly spectacular but I think it is definitely worth trying.

The Last Pick

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We have several citrus trees here and the fruit is generally ripe during our cooler months from May through to August. The earliest one is the grapefruit closely followed by the Washington Navel orange and mandarin. The two Valencia orange trees are much later and seem to have an extended season with fruit lasting quite happily on the tree for a few months.

In the past we have finished picking in mid-November but the season last year lasted even longer. Today I picked the last of the fruit from the older tree beside the driveway. I thought there might be about 30 but there ended up being 93 fruit!!

I have juiced and frozen all of the juice as I do with all of the harvest. This provides us with enough juice for the entire year. It is just as well that I have plenty of freezer space as there is currently 29 litres frozen juice.

The juicer I bought in 2018 is worth its weight in gold. You can read more about it here.

The 2022 crop is already doing well and larger than the size of a golf ball.

There are still a small number of fruit to pick on the other tree but they can wait for a week or so until I have used some of today’s haul.

Stocking the Pantry

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Fresh produce from the garden is wonderful but there are times when you definitely can’t eat it all at harvest time.

This basket of cucumbers was a case in point.

The recipe from a friend has clearly been passed down from an earlier generation.

I tweaked it slightly and will modify it a little more in the future.

Cucumber Pickles

3.2kg cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup salt
Iceblocks
5 cups sugar
5 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried celery leaves

Layer the cucumbers and onions. Sprinkle with salt and cover with iceblocks. Allow to stand for 3 hours then drain and rinse thoroughly twice.

Place cucumber, onion, sugar, vinegar and spices in a large pot and bring to the boil. Do not boil the mixture. Turn the heat off and fill sterilised jars. Make sure that they seal before storing.

NOTE: I increased the turmeric and altered the celery salt from the original recipe to match what I had available. Additionally, in future I would reduce the sugar and vinegar to 4 cups of each as there was more liquid than I needed.

In deference to our industrious ancestors, it only seemed right and proper to use these two mixing bowls that belonged to my grandmother and would be around 100 years old. I use them on a regular basis in my kitchen.

The end result is ready to be stored in the pantry for eating throughout the year.

A Handsome Bunch

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We have had bananas growing here previously but this most recent clump was planted where we can see them from the house rather than up the back and totally out of sight. This is the view of them from my kitchen window.

Can you see the 2 bunches of bananas which have formed?

Here are some closer views.

They are not the biggest bunches but we are patiently looking forward to our homegrown fruit.

Last Grapefruit

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This morning I picked the last of the crop of grapefruit and juiced them.

Although our vegetable gardening efforts can be a bit hit and miss, our fruit trees continue to provide with minimal effort on our part.

There are still plenty more citrus with the 2 Valencia orange trees still loaded with fruit.

I also picked another 270g of mulberries from our young tree. I now have just over 700g of mulberries in the freezer and will hopefully make some jam in due course.

Gourmet Gluten Free Gnocchi

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I had previously made pumpkin gnocchi a few months ago with reasonable success. Today I attempted to improve on that attempt and I think it was a success.

This was our dinner.

Here is the recipe that I used.

While the original recipe is not designed to be gluten free, I managed to modify it simply by using gluten free flour.

I made a double quantity of the mixture and find that I needed more flour than recommended in the recipe, however, that may simply be a result of the different properties of gluten free flour.

I try to handle the dough as little as possible while combining the ingredients. Portions of dough rolled, cut and spread on racks.

To cook the gnocchi:

2/3 fill a large saucepan of water, bring to a rolling boil, add a teaspoon of olive oil. Carefully add the gnocchi, cover and bring back to the boil as quickly as possible. Gently separate the gnocchi and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Drain.

Serve immediately with sauce of your choice.

Tonight I chose onion, garlic, chilli, smoky paprika, capsicum and fresh cherry tomatoes topped with grated cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

The pumpkin puree had been frozen from the harvest of a glut of pumpkins earlier in the year. The cherry tomatoes have been picked in the past few days. We try to make use of what we grow wherever possible and this meal is a perfect example.

A New Recipe

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I spent most of yesterday cooking and one of the things I made was a frittata.I was spurred into action when I noticed that we had 26 eggs. They can accumulate quite quickly when the chickens are laying.

There was half a pumpkin in the fridge which I was keen to use up and after checking Google I found this recipe – Pumpkin and Spinach Frittata.

I adapted the recipe to suit the quantities of ingredients I had available and my own requirements. The following ingredients will make 6 generous serves.

3 cups pumpkin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic syrup (link to easy recipe)
1 potato, diced
80 gram baby spinach leaves, chopped coarsely
120 gram feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
6 eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

Place diced pumpkin on baking trays and toss with the combined oil and balsamic syrup. Roast until tender, approximately 30 minutes at 160C.

The pumpkin came from our neighbours and the spinach from our own garden.

Cook the potato until tender. Combine all of the ingredients. Pour into shallow dish and bake for 45 minutes at 190C.

Ready to go in the oven.

This was delicious served with a tossed green salad.

Use It All

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I have spent the day in the kitchen today. When you grow produce it is important to ensure that it is used and does not go to waste. There is a degree of urgency as we are heading away on holidays in a couple of days. I made broccoli soup, juiced oranges and limes and dealt with a bunch of celery which I picked a couple of days ago.

Some of the celery had been used on a platter with hummus and guacamole but the majority of the bunch was still intact and all of the leaves. We love celery soup and when I make it I use all of the stalks and leaves. However, I have enough celery soup in the freezer at the moment.

I separated the stalks and chopped them ready for snacks and salads, but what to do with the leaves? I decided to experiment. Firstly, I washed them then removed the excess moisture in the salad spinner.

Then it was into the dehydrator.

Because the leaves are quite light it only took about 3 hours to dry them. Then I simply crumbled them into flakes and shook them through the colander to remove the larger stalks.

This is the result.

Did you know that celery is the prime ingredient in vegetable stock powder? I will use them for seasoning in soups, casseroles and a selection of other dishes.

I am pleased to have been able to use all of the bunch of celery without wasting any of it.

Bug-Free Brassicas – Part 2

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Remember this post?

Well, here is the first result of my endeavours.

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One of the things I am passionate about is eating local, seasonal produce wherever possible so this freshly picked broccoli from our own garden was destined to become part of our evening meal.

A simple stir-fry of chicken and broccoli.

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CHICKEN & BROCCOLI STIR-FRY (Serves 2)

1 chicken breast fillet, cut into strips
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1/2 head broccoli, broken into small florets
1 tablespoon toasted sunflower seeds
Oil

SAUCE

2 tablespoons tamari
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered chilli
2 teaspoons arrowroot

Heat the oil, saute the chicken until cooked then add the onion and broccoli.  Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce.  When the broccoli is lightly cooked add the sauce and stir until it has thickened and coated the chicken and vegetables.  Stir in the sunflower seeds.

Serve with rice.

Delicious and the money spent on netting the raised beds containing the brassicas has definitely been a worthwhile exercise.

I am looking forward to plenty more meals featuring our homegrown broccoli.

 

Midwinter Mango

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It is difficult to believe but I reached a point in February where I felt as though I never wanted to see another mango.  Fortunately, the feeling does not last and we we able to freeze some of the summer abundance.  A few months later and it was time to dive into our frozen supplies.

Mango Chicken Curry

2 chicken breast fillets
1 large onion
1 tablespoon curry powder

OR

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Fresh coriander, chopped

1 tablespoon oil
1 can coconut cream
2 fresh mangoes

OR

Frozen or canned mango

Cut onion into wedges and chicken fillets into strips.  Heat oil in a large pan, add onion and spices and fry for a couple of minutes.  Add chicken and fry until cooked.  Add coconut cream and simmer gently for 5-10 minutes.

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Add sliced mango and coriander, cook until heated through.

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Serve with rice and vegetables as desired.  We had stir-fried bok choy and snow peas.

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Serves 4