Preparing the veggie beds for spring

Ok I am running a bit behind schedule. I should have got into my veggie beds a few weeks ago to prepare for spring and summer, luckily still have bit of time.

I haven’t blogged for awhile as I have been doing this online sewing course which I am thoroughly enjoying but now behind in that due to my gardening this weekend!! (was going to catch up on my sewing!).

Day 1 – Saturday

My dog and I went for a drive on route for our regular walk at the dam nearby and went and got some chook poo direct from a chook farm. Bags gone up now $5 a bag but still fresher and better value than buying it at a hardware/nursery. Last weekend I went and collected bags of cow manure straight from the paddock of a friends neighbour up the road. Preparation of your soil for your veggie beds is the key to growing great veggies. My grandfather swore by it and he of course is right. I prepare my soil now exactly like he use to so I thinker would be pleased I listened to him and mum too!!

I got some organic compost at the hardware store the other week as had a voucher so of course got gardening supplies!!

So here are the beds prior, which the nurstursims took over. Tools you will need and supplies.

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Have put my manure (chook and cow) and compost down and working it into the beds. I am going to use two bags of organic compost as I am planting tomatoes again and they are very hungry eaters.

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Oh forgot to say I harvested my beds yesterday evening and have dug up number of plants to make it easier to get into the soil. Will transplant them later.

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Winter veggies

Got enough from the garden tonight for dinner – broccoli, bit of spinach before the bugs eat it, odd beans and a lone pea, and was very keen to see my baby carrots but still very baby!!

My garden is in need of a lot of TLC at the moment the nasturims have taken over and just gone wild.

Time to pull everything out and prepare beds with a good feed of compost and chook manure in time for fast approaching spring.

May be a few weekends job! This weekend is source the manure – time for a drive around the surrounding country towns! Also time to get into my compost and see if my chooks have left me any worms (as they keep sneaking in there even though have blocked it off – they know they are not allowed in there!!).

Time for dinner now!

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Love home made pizza on the weekend!

Don’t have much in way of food in the fridge at the moment but felt like something tasty for lunch, so raided the garden and found enough supplies to make a delicious pizza!

Home made pizza dough I had portioned and frozen (so easy to do in advance – I always have some on hand). Little tomatoes on their last legs from the fridge, pepperoni and cheese.

Home grown ingredients – pizza thyme, basil, shallots, 1 tiny capsicum (that’s the last of my capsicums) and rocket!! Also had some homemade relish for the base!!

Delish!! (with Andrew away for work have currently lost bit of interest in the cooking dept lately- back into my craft and currently doing an online sewing class!)….

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We have a pumpkin!!

Very excited just found my first pumpkin!! Grown wild from my compost. Not many bees these days so not sure if it was the work of a stray lone bee or my attempt of fertilisation – most likely the stray lone bee!! Very excited!

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Also here’s a photo of my celery in the old first attempt garden bed I abandoned due to limited sun still growing wild!

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My dog checking out the celery in the old garden bed….

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Chicken and leek pie recipe

This pie is a winner!  I improvised a bit too (as I normally do with recipes!)…..added a handful of grated tasty cheese, seasoning and home grown parsley and chives (chopped up) to the mix.  Will include in the method below when I added these extra ingredients – think it gave it a bit more taste. My pie dish is 22cm diameter. Be enough for 2-4 people depending how hungry they are – be warned it is a yummy pie so you might get some takers for seconds!!

You could change/add the filling with other ingredients too for this pie recipe with the chicken – I was thinking maybe some mushrooms, corn, and mum said peas and leeks are always great in pies! (so on the right track with leeks in this pie!).  Mum made a beef and burgundy pie the other day she tells me – will track that recipe down too! Also forgot to mention this pie only has pastry at the top too (less fattening!) and was great.  I might though however try pastry in the base of the pie next time to try the difference (however will then have to go for a job to burn off extra pastry!).

Home grown ingredients I used for this recipe – parsley, chives, egg (got my minimum 3 ingredients goal!). Growing leeks for the next pie!! (at least they like all our rain!).

 Have added my photos again for this recipe – will make you want to go and cook it now!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs butter
  • 700g skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks (depends on the size of your pie dish, think I only had 500g was heaps)
  • 2 leeks, trimmed and thickly sliced (again depends on the size of your pie dish, I used one big leek was heaps)
  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups reduced fat milk (I used a bit more – get the mixture to the consistency you like)
  • 1 continental stock pot chicken (or chicken powder stock, couple good teaspoons be fine)
  • 1 sheet ready-rolled short crust pastry
  • 1 egg (beat for glazing)

Method

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees

2. In a heavy frying pan, melt butter and add chicken. Cook till golden, set aside in a bowl.

3. In same pan cook the leeks without colour but until softened (I added seasoning when cooking the leeks)

4. Add flour and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add milk and chicken stock stirring continuously until slightly thickened.

4. Add chicken back into the pan, reduce heat, simmer gently for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked. (I added cheese, herbs and bit more milk at end – got a nice consistency not too dry or thick).

5. Transfer mixture to lightly greased pie dish. Glaze around rim (and outside of pie dish!) with a bit of beaten egg with pastry brush.

6. Lay the pastry sheet over the dish and mould it around so it holds in place . Brush pastry with beaten egg.

Tips:

– don’t trim your pastry too much around the edges of your dish as the pastry will shrink, I just push moulded mine in around the edges to seal it. Decorate as you wish with left over pastry as I did. Make a slit in the middle of your pastry to let the air out while cooking. I did make a slit in the middle but when it cooked it sealed up, which I had to cut a slit in the pastry while cooking to let the air out or it may explode! (hence why my pastry looked like it sagged a bit when cooked but was fine).

 – give any left over egg give it to your cat or dog they will love you!

7. Bake pie for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown (as my oven is hopeless mine was in longer – when you get a nice golden colour on your pastry all over your pie is done!).

8. Serve up to your guests and they will be back for more!!!  Enjoy!!

Pie ready for the oven!

Cooked beautifully!!

Weekend cook off!!

We received the bad weather from the south – cool, miserable, wet – great weather to be indoors and to cook up a storm!!

Friday night started with a home-made gourmet pizza! … see http://wp.me/p2uQhk-1f for the pizza dough recipe. 

Home made pizza dough rising!

Gourmet pizza this weekend was chicken, sun dried tomatoes, olives, plus home grown ingredients – basil and pizza thyme.

Saturday night I cooked Pork belly with sticky Asian sauce in the slow cooker, with home grown asian greens – I grew the Pakchoy, my friend up the road gave me some home grown Kale! served with basmati rice. I wanted to try a new slow cooker recipe – was lip smacking delicious!! Sorry remembered the photo after we ate it! – see page 102 in the August (2012) edition of (Australian) Better Homes and Garden magazine for the recipe.

Picture from the magazine – Pork belly with sticky Asian sauce. Of course mine turned out just like this picture!!!

Sunday saw me making a Chicken and Leek Pie being made (fitting for the weather!) – was my first large pie I have made (have previously made pot pies), was fantastic!! I improvised a bit on this recipe http://wp.me/p2uQhk-1k. Home grown ingredients – parsley, chives, egg for glazing.

Ready to go into the oven

Cooked beautifully!

The Aussie tradition of having tomato sauce with a pie!…..Pie was delish!!

Then the chocolate brownies had to be made for afternoon tea! This recipe is a Donna Hay, so due to copyright you are going to have to go and buy the cookbook (I don’t want to get sued by Donna Hay!)….these are her Standby Brownies” – easy and fantastic! I am now addicted to them!! Home grown ingredients – 3 x eggs!

Ingredients for Standby Brownies

Ready for the oven

Ready for afternoon tea!

Afternoon tea anyone?!

The Pumpkin Soup is in the slow cooker – this is a Sally Wise’s recipe, easy and delish so go and buy her ‘Slow Cooker’ book 1 from good book stores. This is not one of my pumpkins – still waiting for my pumpkins to fertilise – have one looking promising.  This pumpkin is direct from a Gatton farmer purchased as his gate! Home grown ingredients – well just the chives for garnish!

Easy as Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin in the slow cooker

Perfect for a winters night!! note the home grown chives!!

This week and the rest of the year sees me jogging around the block many times to work off this weekends cook off! Lucky I have a chest freezer too – if you don’t have one go and buy one brilliant for freezing lots of left overs!! (I cook extra and get a number of meals) – use the frozen left overs for a no fuss and tasty meal during the week!