Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Winter's Day at Eden

Would you care to join me today as I take a walk in my garden at Eight Acres of Eden? It may be a little chilly but the sun is shining and has brought forth an abundant harvest of mandarins.

The tree is loaded with vitamin C to ward off those winter colds and chills. The lemon tree next door is also dripping with fruit - time to get the juicing machine out and freeze the juice in ice cube trays (and then transfer into freezer bags) for summertime drinks. I'm also going to preserve some lemons for cooking chicken and fish. If you have not used preserved lemon before you are missing out on a culinary delight! It is so easy to prepare - I will show you how I do mine in a future post.

The sugar snap peas are climbing up their tripod in the raised vegetable garden beds. My children often eat these peas before they reach the kitchen bench. Now that is what I call fast food!

And other vegetable seedlings are flourishing in the winter sunshine. Our property is frost free and I do not need to worry about a cold snap .... one of the many advantages of living on a hillside property. In winter there are less pests around to destroy our seedlings and the bandicoot has not attempted to climb up and over the corrugated iron sides of our beds to munch on the luscious new leaves. Winter is a good time to garden in Australia! The snakes are in hibernation and I'm prepared to weed in parts of the garden I am hesitant to venture into on hot summer days.

The camellias and azaleas are in full bloom and dripping with flowers. They adore the acidic soil.

Some of the blooms are bigger than my hand - bold and beautiful! These are not shy, retiring flowers and they do not hide in the background. What a beautiful greeting each morning as I draw back the curtains in the living room - they are planted just outside the window.

I prefer the smaller blooms and buds - perfect for displaying in tiny, glass vintage bottles. I cannot wait for more of these to blossom, they will be coming inside to be set out on tables. No arranging necessary - now that's the simplest way to decorate with flowers

It is such a beautiful winter's day I thought of going for a walk in the fields that adjoin our property but I needed to start preparing dinner.

So I was thankful for a teenage son who offered an invitation to those who wanted to go for a walk and was prepared to take his little sisters to go and greet our equine neighbours.

They were drawn home by the aroma of a home cooked meal. My older children come home from their afternoon dairy job and when they reach this paddock they say they can often smell dinner and when it is bread baking or lamb roasting they walk even faster. To think the aroma from my kitchen travels several kilometres!

On this occasion it was a fish, leek and cauliflower bake browning up nicely under the grill. Would you like the recipe? A one dish meal that combines fish pie with cauliflower cheese. It is a delicious family meal perfect for a winter's day and so easy to prepare.


Mashed potato - for the topping
1 cauliflower steamed.
1 large leek thinly sliced
1 tin tuna, salmon or any steamed fish of your choice
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
green tomato chutney (the magic ingredient)
cherry tomatoes
chopped chives

1. Boil a pot of potatoes to make mashed potatoes and if you have a steamer basket steam your cauliflower at the same time. I tell you steamer baskets are the best time saving invention ever!

2. Place your steamed and drained cauliflower in a baking dish.

3.Break up tuna chunks with a fork over the cauliflower and combine.

4.Fry sliced leek in a knob of butter.

5.Add flour and stir in until dissolved.

6.Add milk about 500ml stirring until sauce thickens.

7.Stir in grated cheese and a good dollop of green tomato chutney (or any fruit chutney)

8.Pour the leek and cheese sauce over the fish and cauliflower and combine.

9.Top with mashed potato and some extra grated cheese. Decorate with cherry tomatoes halved and snipped fresh chives.

10.Bake or place under the grill until cheese melts and is bubbling and golden on top.

11. Serve with a garden salad and crusty bread ensuring that the crusty, cheesy topping is evenly distributed among children or face unending requests for 'plenty of the top stuff'!

Fruit, flowers, food, family. Notice that some of the best things in life begin with the letter F!

Hope you are having a wonderful week. We are attending a riverside wedding this weekend. It is being held in a beautiful location in my valley, a ten minute drive from my home. I have to go and put the finishing touches to the handmade gift I am preparing for the bride and groom.

With Love and Joy,

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Niki said...

Ok I am on my live with you guys.
Another gorgeous post Ann. Love it.

red ticking said...

lovely blog... and you must be one very busy mother... darling children... truly blessings from heaven xx pam

Camille said...

What a lovely post Ann! How funny it is for me to think of it being "winter" where you are. AND to think that you can GROW things in winter!! We live in a temperate area of Canada where things grow mainly in the months of June-September. It really never gets very HOT here...maybe for one month when I think it might be nice to have A/C...but we "suffer" through by going DAILY to the water park nearby. :)

We cannot grow citrus fun that you have mandarines and lemons on your property!! What a great picture of your girl holding the basket of yummy fruit.

I *love* the view you posted with the trees, fields and blue GORGEOUS!!

Have a fabulous week!

P.S. Tomorrow is "Canada Day" where we celebrate the "birth" of our country as a nation. Canada is turning a young 143! :)

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Ann I t just looks all so "raw and Natural" and oh so much to love!
That recipe sounds good But I know I would have at least one kid that would'nt eat it,Meal making gets hard with such a child!
Enjoy the cool days...

Renata said...

Thanks for the glimpse into your life! Your garden is beautiful! Mine (what hasn't been destroyed by my free ranging chickens) is growing very slowly.
Your part of the world is truely beautiful - what a wonderful creator we have!
God bless


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