Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The great oregano extravaganza (or is it marjoram?)

I have a herb growing in the garden that’s either oregano or marjoram and it’s going gang busters. Last winter when it all died down, I really missed having herbs out of the garden for cooking. So, this season I decided to do something about it & harvest it for drying & keeping. I thought I’d make my own blend of “mixed herbs” by adding thyme and some other herbs as well as maybe some chives and walking onions.

I attacked the unlabelled bush with the secateurs but didn’t realise just how much was there until it completely filled the sink when I tried to wash it.

I spent the rest of the morning sorting through it; bundling it and hanging it on the clothes line to dry the water off before pegging it on the clothes rack. When that was done, I turned to Professor Google to try to figure out which herb it might actually be but it seems I need to wait until it flowers.

So, any ideas for what I can do with this much oregano/marjoram?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The verdict

I promised a post taste-test follow up on our first Garra Garra brew. And the verdict?...

The grand opening.


First sip (of many) of the first brew (of many)!

This was just a fluke but I like that this is a shot of my PhD notes through a beer glass... is this a portent of things to come?

Verdict: BEER IS GOOD!

(but to borrow from a Czezh proverb, it's best to be thoroughly sure!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Brew...

Those of you familiar with the house planning stages will know the history of the ‘laundry’ but for those that don’t, here’s the story.

I was fairly intent, in the design phase, to have what is referred to as a European laundry ie a washing machine, basin & clothes basket effectively in a cupboard. I liked the idea of a washing machine not taking up a whole room and being able to utilise that space in other ways. Nic’s counter-claim was based around the concept that if we didn‘t have a laundry, where were we going to brew the beer?

I relented on the grounds that the ‘laundry’ be referred to thereafter as the ‘brewery’. Now, this funny-shaped room at the back of the house is finally living up to its name.

We bottled our first Gara Garra brew tonight, the 48 Porter. Named in honour of Nic’s 48th birthday which was the reason for the brew kit purchase. (Many thanks to the awesome Brad who sold us his preloved one & threw in 80-odd Grolsch bottles!) I’ll report back on the success or otherwise of this venture in a few weeks.

Got any brewing tips or stories for us?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Spring... (boing, boing, boing!)

Yesterday was the first day of Spring & a Saturday so we took the opportunity to get the cliched cleaning done.

I started the day by gathering up all of the glass jars and bottles I've been collecting (because I'll use them when I make jam or sauce) and there were a lot of them (because I haven't actually made any jam or sauce). This had to be my job because Nic simply wants to throw them out (oh, ye of little jam-and-sauce faith!) and I thought I was fairly clever about it. I made sure all jars had lids before stacking each jar into a tub and the lids into an old ice cream container. I might point out that this counts as 'clever' in my book because it's much more discerning than I've been in the past! (Who knows when you might need an old mayonnaise jar that has no lid, or the lid without an accompanying jar... they could come in handy, stranger things have happened!)

The 'organised' jars - yep, 'organised' is a relative term.

My jar & bottle organising was hampered by the fact that there seems to be no efficient way of stacking or packing multi-sized and shaped glass objects into a fixed container. (I'm happy to take suggestions on this one.) Then there was the un-clever part. I knew I should take the time to de-label the jars before they were put away but I just couldn't be bothered (and I had a bah-zillion other 'Spring Cleaning' jobs to get done as well). I know that when I do end up making sauce or jam, I'm highly unlikely to take the time away from the actual cooking to take the labels off then either which leaves me with yummy homemade things stored in jars that I'm almost too embarrassed to give to anyone (I said, almost). Well, maybe I'll feel differently about the preparation and label removal this year (ha!).

We went ahead with other jobs after that and we got a fair amount of cleaning up done over at the shack (we still have a myriad boxes and various other bits and bobs stashed over there). Unfortunately in our absence, the rats and mice have made themselves welcome so we ended up feeling filthy, although very pleased with our accomplishments. We were (generally) ruthless in our 'throw it out' mentality and it feels good not to be bringing that clutter into the new house.

The jar-organising venture of the morning got me thinking about what I might fill them with. So now I'm in the planning stages of vegie patch reconstruction & resurrection. We're waiting on a load of manure which we should be able to collect next week then there'll be more 'Vegie Patch Adventures' rather than just a blog post about the fact that I've actually done some cleaning...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Breakfast Mole, episode 3, season 3.

Last weekend our place, Garra Garra, in Lady’s Pass hosted the third episode in this season’s MBM (or, for the uninitiated, My Breakfast Mole). MBM is the brain child of three devious minds belonging to Ward, Tracy & Bron—friends of ours who came up with the original idea to run a breakfast-hosting competition at each of our homes. The real idea behind which was to ensure we made the effort to keep in touch.

The game has been successful—so successful that it has returned for a third season (that’s way better than Firefly!). But it has also evolved to now include a working bee. Each of us in the group owns a home and we figured there is always plenty to do & while we had the group together we could get some jobs around the house done.

Our big job of the weekend was to get some decking done but every time anyone thought about deck-building, it started to rain again. They were, instead, confined to the house where they started on lime washing the rendered walls.

Lime wash for the strawbale walls.

Ward preparing the job by taping up the the picture rail...

 ...and the window.

I thought I should check on the progress...

And have a go...

Well for the camera anyway....

There, that's enough now.

The boys, hard at work.

Tracy’s big job of the day was to clear out the vegie gardens so that I can start again in Spring (I’m hoping I’ll be up to gardening again by then). There were a few more leeks left than I thought so I blanched them today & put them into freezer bags for use later—they are the last of the 113 I planted last year.

Blanched leek ready for the freezer.

Bron (who usually manages to escape being on the photo side of the camera by being on the photographer side) managed to scrape the oil off from around the edges of the window as well as clear rocks out of the mowing areas with Tracy and the girls.

In the morning we enjoyed breakfast which included the challenging compulsory ingredient of beetroot in the form of beetroot and chocolate muffins which went down well. As did the breakfast casseroles made to order as per each person’s tastes. Tracy was particularly impressed with the stringy cheese.

Beetroot & chocolate muffins.

"Is there really beetroot in here?"


"We don't care what's in the muffins!"

Preparing the breakfast casseroles.

The breakfast table, complete with decorations. 

Nic at the stove.

Deb hard at work in the kitchen!

OK, I can manage delivering the food to the table.

Breakfast casserole - scrambled egg topped with onion, tomato, mushroom, hash brown & cheese.

Tracy & her stringy cheese.

Thanks for all your help, MBM folks!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New friends and those returning...

Today, some long-awaited new arrivals finally arrived many thanks to Nic’s sister, Maria & her family.

We’ve been waiting for some fencing to be finished so that we had a safe place to put them. The fencing also means the dogs now have a HUGE yard instead of a tiny run.

The chooks expressed their pleasure at being welcomed to Garra Garra by providing us with three eggs, one from each of them – not a bad effort when they’re still getting settled.

We had an old friend return today as well. We see wallabies (or a wallaby) here occasionally. We think this one is the same one that was here last year around the same time – it seems around our place and the creek bed is her place to bring up her joey. She’s very heavy with one now and last year they hung around down at the creek until the joey was out of the pouch. I hope she’s here to stay for a while and it was lovely to see her so close to the house (we took these pictures from the lounge room window)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fiddle-dee-dee puh-tay-tahs

With my apologies to Danny Bhoy

Since returning to full time teaching I've had trouble finding the time or inclination to play in the vegie patch and hence my "no news is no news" absence on this blog. It is, however, now the school holidays so this morning I harvested the first potatoes I've ever grown. It wasn't much of a harvest but as with most of the 'firsts' involved in this gardening caper, I've learnt a few things for next time.

And while my back has been turned (and I've been more focused on students, assessment & report-writing) other stuff has been happening too. What I originally thought was a squash turned out to be a pumpkin (or a VERY big squash!) And it's produced 7 pumpkins so far only one of which we've harvested. This may be a case of overabundance as we had with the leek, so pumpkin, anyone?

One of my eggplants has a fairly decent fruit on it & others on the way. They are SO slow growing, though that I sometime think they won't make it before the frost gets them.

I threw some marigold seed into one of the beds so they're looking pretty now:

Prior to the squash/pumpkin confusion, this was the only pumpkin we had. It was self seeded & it completely took over one garden bed as per the photo below but despite it's expansive vine and being left to do as it would, it only grew one fruit! (On closer inspection this morning, I found two others coming along but gee, it took it's time.) 

We still have a couple of gorgeous looking purple cabbages from Ed & Tracy's seedlings too.

And lettuce that has self-seeded & gone feral:

The rocket still looks good (well, the part that Nashi doesn't sleep in still looks good anyway!)

Just waiting for the oka plants to die down so we can harvest these - if the plants are anything to go by, we'll have a decent crop of these NZ yams (Thanks to Morrie & Kate).

Another bit of colour in the patch are the flowers on the artichokes. When they finish, we harvest the bulb (and then I'll have to figure out what to do with Jerusalem artichokes! - all tips and hints gratefully accepted.)

There's not much left of the flower bed so Sweet Alice has done its opportunistic best to take over all of the available space.

And despite not having time for what we've already got going, we've bought some more fruit trees! (Some gardeners never learn!)

That's all for now. I think I might get my Irish on and make something potato-ey for lunch!