Tag Archives: Food

Summer Harvest


Reuben and I have learnt so much about growing food this year. Our approach to our garden really changed after reading Jackie French’s book, Backyard Self Sufficiency, and seeing Jackie’s talk on the same topic at the Bendigo Writer’s Festival. I touched on Jackie’s ideas in this post but, basically, her philosophy is that the traditional neat rows of vegetables you see in European gardens are not ideal for the brutal Australian climate. Jackie advocates planting in groves, with a variety of plants all mixed together, planted close to each other. This allows the bigger plants to protect the smaller ones from the elements and can reduce the impact of pests.

Food Forest

As Jackie says “Most Australian gardeners plant too far apart. This is a relic from another culture: in European gardens you had to grab every available ray of sun. Our gardens need more shelter. Lots of leaf cover means the soil is insulated from the heat and cold, and the plants get more protection against frost.” Jackie also says “Don’t plant straight, neat rows: they allow pests to start at one end and march down the row munching, like guests at a smorgasbord. Break up plantings so that there is no large groups of any one plant.” We followed these guidelines while planting our veggies in spring and it has a resulted in wild, rambling jungle of healthy plants. While our garden isn’t the neatest or prettiest this way, it is the most productive it’s ever been. We call it our food forest, and we love it!


We’ve had great success with tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers and corn this year, but for some reason our eggplants, capsicums and chillies never came to anything. We’ve got pumpkins and melons growing happily under our fruit trees, and have been picking spring onions, silverbeet and herbs as we use them. Our basil is thriving and will soon be ready for making pesto with. Before Christmas we had lots of delcious home grown raspberries, and now that they’ve finished, we’ve started getting blackberries. Our tomato plants have gone especially crazy and are taking over the veggie beds. Though the tomatoes are still green right now, there are so many of them, soon enough we’re going to be eating tomatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Zucchinis Cucumbers and Corn


This summer we really wanted to have a go at preserving some of our harvest for the first time. Our zucchinis went wild in December and in the space of a just few days, our little zukes became giant monsters, so we figured a zucchini relish was a good place to start. We also had too many cucumbers to eat in salads, so thought we’d have a go at making bread and butter pickles. And so it came to be that we spent our new year’s day in the kitchen, listening to records, chatting, chopping and stirring bubbling pots over the hot stove. Aside from one incident involving a very large quantity of spilt sticky pickle juice, it was a lovely way to ring in the beginning of a new year. I’d quite like to make preserving our harvest at new year an annual event. (We used this recipe for the relish and this one for the pickles.)

Relish and Pickles

We haven’t tried our pickles yet, as we are giving them time to mature, but we cracked open our first jar of relish a few days ago. We ate it with zucchini and corn fritters (from our garden, naturally!) and it is oh so delicious. We polished off that first jar in the space of just two days!

Mega Beetroot

And it seems now I’ve got the preserving bug! I’m hoping that once the fruit on our little peach and plum trees is ripe, there will be enough for me to attempt jam making with, and I am planning to plant lots more beetroot in the future, so that we can pickle some.


We still have so much to learn when it comes to feeding our family from our garden and larder, but I can see we are making real progress now. It makes me so happy to think that our children will grow up knowing where their food has come from and being involved in the process of growing and preparing it, understanding the seasons and (hopefully) being grateful for all that the earth provides. A few years ago I never could have imagined how satisfying I would find growing and preserving my own fruit and veggies, but today, as I look at the little row of jars stacked neatly in our pantry, nothing could make me prouder.

Katie xx

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Little Things

No Knead Bread

Passionfruit Vine

Around Here

Reuben and Clover in Garden


Chooks in Chicken Tractor

Apple and Almond Cake

Joining in the weekly stills over at The Beetle Shack.

1. I finally made this famous no knead bread over the weekend and it was amazing. We devoured half the loaf within minutes of it leaving the oven! I haven’t had a huge amount of success with bread making in the past, but this little triumph has got me inspired to keep working on it. I’m determined to make bread making a more regular fixture in our weekly routine.
2. One of our passionfruit vines is growing nicely. The other isn’t doing quite so well.
3. A handful of goodness, fresh off our little raspberry bush.
4. Clover helping Reuben in the garden.
5. Cold wintery days mean tea. Lots and lots of tea.
6. We bought a lightweight run that we can use as a “chicken tractor” and drag around our yard, to give our girls a holiday from their coop on sunny days. They’ve been having a lovely time scratching in the grass.
7. Yesterday we had friends over for dinner so I made cake for dessert. I had the thought of an apple and almond cake stuck in my head so I googled it and ended up making this one this one with a couple of tweaks (which was good!) but I’ve since realised the seed of the idea was probably planted by this yummy skillet cake on Hugo and Elsa. I think I’ll try that one next time.

Wishing you all a most wonderful week!

Katie xx

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On Our Table

I find what people cook and eat really interesting. Though I rarely follow recipes exactly (except for when I’m baking), I love looking at pictures of people’s meals on Instagram, flicking through cookbooks and browsing the recipes on Pinterest, just for inspiration. I tend to get really bored with food if I eat the same things too often, so I’m always on the lookout for new things to try. In the interest of sharing ideas, I thought it might be fun to post a picture of each of the meals I prepared and ate in a day. So this is what was on our table one day last weekend! It was just an ordinary day with simple, unfancy food.

Gluten Free Pancakes and Scrambled Eggs

Breakfast: Pancakes (eaten with honey, not pictured), scrambled eggs and tea. Pancakes are a weekend tradition at our house.

Fried Rice

Lunch: Vegetarian fried rice, left over from the night before. Lately I’ve been making fried rice a lot. It’s such a great way to use up the odds and ends that tend to accumulate in the crisper. I use brown rice, fried egg, lots of garlic and fresh ginger, soy sauce and whatever veggies I have on hand. This version had red cabbage, spring onions, green capsicum and kale.

Chicken, Cranberry and Walnut Salad

Dinner: Grilled free range chicken, dried cranberry and walnut salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Due to some health concerns, after much deliberation, I recently added chicken back into my diet. It’s been more than five years since I stopped eating meat and I’ve experienced a lot of internal conflict over the decision to start eating chicken again, but physically I am feeling a lot better for the change, and now that it is done I am (mostly) at peace with my choice. At least for now. (Reubs is still eating a vegetarian diet). I’m still in the process of relearning how to cook chicken, but this salad is so quick and easy.


Snack: Passionfruit. In recent weeks we’ve been eating so much passionfruit!

What’s been on your table lately? If you fancy sharing, I’d love to know!

Katie x

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Home Brew

Beer 2

Brewing my own beer is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I’ve always been really daunted by it. (I guess I’ve heard one too many stories about bottles exploding in the garage!) It wasn’t until a friend lent me his brewing kit a couple of weeks ago that I finally plucked up the courage to give it a go.

Beer Ingredients

Reuben Making Beer

I wanted to keep the process as simple as possible for my first attempt at home brew, so I used a can of malt extract (rather than whole grains) to make the base of the beer. After sterilising everything, I added the water and yeast to the extract and wrapped it all up in a towel to keep it warm. I was pretty lucky that the temperature was pretty ideal for brewing, but I borrowed a heat lamp from Katie’s mum just in case it got a bit chilly. Every afternoon when I got home from work I’d check on my beer and see the fermenter happily bubbling away. Then, after almost a week, it was time to bottle it up. I borrowed a bottle capper from a friend and filled all the bottles I had on hand, but I had made so much I ended up filling 12 mason jars as well. Then I just had to let the beer condition. I was so excited to try my brew, waiting for the beer to be ready was the longest 2 weeks of my life!

Beer 1

Reuben with Beer

Finally, on the weekend I was able to try the beer! I had one of my favourite store bought beers and then one of my own, and I actually preferred the home brew. So I’d call that a success! I was a little worried about how the beer in the mason jars would turn out but we cracked one open and it was great. Each one holds almost a litre so they’re a bit big to drink in one go, but they’ll be perfect for sharing.

I’ve loved learning how to brew beer. We’ve shared a lot of this batch with friends so I’m already planning my next brew and this time I plan to do the whole thing from scratch. For now though, I’m really enjoying being able to kick back with a beer I made with my own two hands!

Have any you ever attempted making beer? I’d love to hear some home brew stories.


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Summer Abundance

Garden Haul


Semi Dried Tomatoes

Tomatoes and Basil


Over the last few weeks our tiny garden has been going crazy! We’ve been eating cherry tomatoes around the clock and have had enough larger tomatoes to semi dry and make a big batch of pasta sauce (both of which we devoured in record time!) I’ve made lots of pesto and have managed to put a few bottles aside in the freezer for the approaching cold months. We’ve eaten a bunch of zucchinis and there are plenty more to come, including a couple that have grown to gigantic proportions. The rainbow chard is still doing well and we’ve had a few lovely cucumbers. Tonight we made veggie enchiladas using our first homegrown capsicums, and we’ve just picked the first of our little pumpkins. Silly Clover pup actually helped with that. This morning I discovered a small half chewed pumpkin in her bed! It was too cute and funny to be cranky with her about it.

All in all, our first summer season has been quite successful! Especially considering we’ve only had two little beds and we’ve taken a rather lazy approach to the whole thing.

I’ve never been much of a summer girl (I don’t like the heat and I’m very partial to cardigans, fireplaces and bowls of soup) but this season, perhaps for the first time, I have been able to really appreciate the garden goodness the warmer months hold. The 40°C days are awful but the homegrown produce is so wonderful!

Over the last week we’ve felt a gentle shift in the weather. It’s still very warm but the early mornings are crisp and some nights there is a real chill in the air. Soon autumn will be here, and though I will embrace the cold weather with open arms, I really will miss the abundance of summer.

Wishing you all a lovely, lovely week ahead!

Katie x

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