Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The joy of reading


I am incredibly grateful that Ginger Rose is such an enthusiastic reader, because The Little Prince has been a little slow to become enthused by books. He's only just starting to take an interest - and gets the most pleasure out of books when he's sharing them with his big sister.
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Tonight's dinner

Tonight's dinner will include a salad. I know it won't be appreciated or eaten, but I'm determined to at least make an effort towards using the actual salad vegetables we've grown!
We'll be stir-frying broccoli, spring onions, green beans (first pick of the season) and a lovely bright red capsicum. I went out looking for a ripe tomato (perhaps tomorrow!) and found this tiny bell capsicum had gone red without a hint of warning.
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Further adventures of The Little Prince

Guess who can reach the table now? And while his cereal was totally uninteresting when being fed to him, apparently self-feeding is the new developmental stage. A very very messy stage. I am so glad we've got a puppy to help clean up!
The sandpit is very popular this year - Possum thought The Little Prince and puppy's combined efforts at hole digging deserved a reward. Sadly, the puppy wasn't as willing to be buried as the baby.
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Chinese cabbage stir fry

We harvested the first of the Chinese cabbages last night. The leaves had been very visibly eaten all the way through, and I discovered 13 earwigs in the washing process, so suspect I've identified the culprits.
I found a nifty online stir fry recipe, and decided to serve it up alongside the BBQ chops. The quantity of cabbage only just fitted into our electric frypan, which I elected to use instead of the electric wok because of the greater space available.
The result was quite tasty, but a bit watery. I think it would have benefitted from a little longer stir frying to drive off the moisture - and I suspect my cabbages are larger than the recipe calls for as there was easily enough for half a dozen big eaters!


Ingredients
1 large Chinese cabbage (or use 2-3 cups Asian greens per person including bok choy, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage, Chinese broccoli)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
pinch sugar
1 tablespoon potato starch (or cornflour)
2 tablespoons water
sweet chilli sauce, to taste
sesame seeds
Method
Wash the cabbage thoroughly, then chop into about 5cm pieces. Finely grate the ginger and garlic.

Put the oil into a hot wok. Add the cabbage; toss for a few seconds until heated. Put a lid on the wok and steam for 1 minute.
Remove the cabbage and set aside.

Add the ginger and garlic to the same pan. Cook on medium heat until fragrant (2 minutes). Add the chicken stock, oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar.

In another bowl mix the potato starch with cold water, then add to the pan. Add sweet chilli sauce to taste.

Fold in the cooked cabbage, then remove from the heat.

Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds over the top.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Growing up together

Every boy deserves a dog, and The Little Prince knows just where his puppy likes her tummy tickled. They love to wrestle with each other, and Suki is already more careful with the baby than any of the other children.
They have a great time in the sandpit together. Suki is a better digger (note the very respectable hole), but Andrew does his fair share of throwing sand Suki's way.
And at the end of a hard day's play, there's nothing quite like curling up for a snooze on the couch together. How sweet is that?

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Garden greens


This is my favourite dish from the garden so far this year. I boiled some silverbeet and broccoli, then drained them. Added olive oil to the pot and gently browned up some garlic and spring onion. Then I tossed the silverbeet and broccoli back in, stirred it around and tipped it all into a serving dish.

Very tasty!
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Yoghurt Cake

I had to dig through my cupboard to find the book containing this recipe, so thought I'd post it here for easy reference. It's such a quick and easy cake to whip up, and we always have the ingredients handy.

Preheat oven to 170C (for my fan forced oven, this works well) and grease and line a cake tin.

Toss into the blender:

250ml vegetable oil
160g sugar

and blend. Add:

225g yoghurt and mix again. Add:

2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp vanilla

and blend again, using a spatula to mix in the flour if necessary.

Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 50 - 55 minutes. Cool then sprinkle with icing sugar to serve.

Serves 2 adults and 5 children for afternoon tea with one slice left over :).

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Garden update

Now that the camera has been re-discovered (hiding in my Ergo baby carrier pocket) I can do some more updates!
 I'm feeling quietly pleased with this year's garden. We've got just a few more shoots to eat off the broccoli (front) with a plant a day going to the chooks, the celery is a good strong colour and ready for eating and juicing, and the beans are finally flowering after good early growth then a hiatus.
I cut a potato into six pieces, hoping a couple would grow, and have been thrilled to find all six growing strongly. I've been building up the ground over them with mulch, compost and some cow manure so I'm hoping harvesting won't be too much digging.
And look - my first actual growing zucchinis! 
I'm feeling quite hopeful about the vine plot - I have flowers on rockmelons, mini-pumpkins and the zucchini, with strong growth from the butternut and jarrah pumpkins.
And the first blush from the boysenberries!






Friday, November 28, 2008

How's that little puppy going?

Suki takes it all in her stride! Ginger Rose has been unwell, so Suki has been snuggling with her on the couch.
The Little Prince has been feeling adventurous, so Suki has been happy to wrestle.
And a friend's Giant Schnauser was in need of company and exercise, so Suki was happy to oblige with a romp in the garden.
And the obligatory baby and puppy in a box shot - I just love watching them growing up together!
What a sweet puppy! She'll be even sweeter when she's fully toilet trained and has learnt to resist the chew-everything-in-sight urge! I'll be particularly grateful when she stops the juice box search and destroy missions!

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Cricket at the Christmas Picnic


Beautiful weather for an early Christmas picnic. An impromptu cricket match provided entertainment for all, with Briar Rose putting up an unexpectedly good showing, and Possum impressing us all by running into the "stump" at full bore and being brave with some spectacular injuries.
The Little Prince had a wonderful time exploring the food and drink.
Ginger Rose had a turn with the bat, but had more fun playing with a spare tennis ball and the puppy. There were plenty of leftovers from dh's birthday bash the night before, and as everybody brought generous quantities of food and drink, we all overindulged very happily.
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Monday, November 03, 2008

New chooks



Isn't it idyllic? Morning sunlight on a lush green lawn with a baby and our two newest chooks. The chooks are out of the henhouse because they're young, new and needed some space away from the big mean red hen who was previously bottom of the pecking order and is enjoying her promotion just a little too vigorously!
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Sunday, November 02, 2008

40th birthday present

What do you buy the dh who has everything for his 40th birthday? A puppy, of course! We decided to "rescue" a pound puppy, but ended up having to drive 2 1/2 hours to a suitable pound as Canberra residents are mostly responsible, and don't tend to have unwanted litters.

She's a dear little pup, but has been terribly sick. She spent much of today just lying around, which is so unlike the incredibly lively pup who chewed through a phone cable within hours of arriving! As the day progressed, she drank more water and perked up a bit. And tonight, she's almost lively and, much to our delight, started to chew toys that aren't hers!

By 8.30pm tonight, she was well enough that Ginger Rose was allowed a "hold". She has such a sweet nature that, even though she's clearly unwell, she doesn't protest or snap at anybody.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thirteen months today

video

The Little Prince decided to finally try walking this afternoon, and I learnt how to use my phone camera! Pretty pleased with himself, eh?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How does my garden grow

There's been a bit of a blog hiatus, primarily due to the loss of my camera which I'm still hoping is in the house somewhere and will turn up where I least expect it.

But my days have been filled with gardening adventures, and I thought I'd report in.

The back garden is currently sporting a healthy crop of chives, both regular and garlic, which I separated and am pleased to say seem to be doing well and have flavoured many a carbonara dish. The parsley continues to do well, and I've added an Italian parsley which suffered badly from a predator for the first few days, but has recovered after I provided an egg shell moat. My attempts at greek basil and marjoram have failed, but I still have thyme, rosemary and oregano growing strongly.

My single pot of spinach intensively planted in compost has done wonderfully, providing the base for many a poached egg. It is still producing well and has convinced me that good soil is worth finding as the spinach I planted in garden soil with a little mushroom compost and dynamic lifter has not produced nearly as well.

I have some broad beans growing behind the trampoline and noticed flowers today, but as the winter sun has left that garden bed, I'm not hopeful of any actual beans. I also planted some turnips in the hope of getting a quick crop before the end of the sunshine, but I think I'll be disappointed.

My lemon tree in a barrel is absolutely covered in blossoms, and as there has been a smidgeon of bee activity, I'm cautiously hopeful that we might get more than the sole lemon we picked last year! I've mulched around the outside edge of the barrel with mushroom compost, and have planted some coriander and rocket - I'm not sure which have germinated but there seem to be a few.

The front vegetable garden has been a bit of a disappointment, primarily because I didn't know better when it came to sending my dh off to the garden centre for soil. We had a first trailer load of some sort of "compost" that was full of twigs and absolutely no nutrients. The next load of mushroom compost has been better, but really doesn't seem to be enough to grow good vegies.

We are currently eating broccoli, spring onions and silverbeet from the front garden, with potatoes on the way (one self-seeded from last year, and another few from an old organic potato I recycled from the bottom of the potato box). I have some rather miserable tomato seedlings waiting to be planted out, and a very healthy looking shop-bought heirloom tomato plant that has some promising flowers, as does the capsicum plant next to it.

My celery and onions are growing like snails - I think the first batch of soil got them off to an irredeemably poor start, but with any luck they'll be useful at some stage. I tried growing peas from seedlings again this year, but I just don't seem to be a pea-grower as 4 out of 6 seedlings have already withered and died.

I started a new vegetable bed with dwarf beans underneath Possum's bedroom window, and after a first fevered period of growth, they seem to be consolidating. I'm just hoping this doesn't mean I didn't dig the bed deep enough.

Another new vegetable bed contains rockmelon, mini-pumpkin, butternut pumpkin and zucchini plants, all of which seem to be growing respectably.

The Meyer lemon tree I planted in about April has gone through stages of looking very unhappy with curling leaves, but is now showing new leaf growth and a respectable bunch of buds.

So, life in the garden is getting better. Slowly. I do think we'll have more to harvest than last year, but I'm disappointed that I haven't made more progress.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Birthday season

Due to non-stop illnesses in the house, we've ended up with a backlog of birthday cakes! The 4yo birthday was cancelled because she was unwell, then we were overseas. The 1yo birthday was cancelled because he and I were unwell. By the time the 13yo birthday came around, it seemed unfair not to make sure everybody got to share the cake!

As Possum had been very keen for a *bought* cake, I thought I'd take advantage of somebody else doing the icing. I was a bit disappointed they weren't able to fit "Happy Birthday" on top, but at least it wasn't a candidate for Cake Wrecks.


Fortunately, some friends dropped around to share it with us, because it was a very large rich cake in comparison with the usual home made offerings.
When all the other children had disappeared, Briar Rose had her wish and was allowed to discreetly nibble at the birthday cake rose.
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Tidbinbilla

We spent an enjoyable day with friends at Tidbinbilla Nature Park this week. The three big boys scaled all heights in sight, including an unscheduled 2 hour trek up a nearby mountain that resulted in the ruination of clothes and legs when they encountered brambles. The parents were not impressed!
There were plenty of spots for the littlies to enjoy.
Including a very impressive slide.
There would be more photos of the big girls, but they found a secluded rock at the top of a hill and disappeared to "relax" emerging only to eat.
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Spring singing

Less than a week after returning from New Zealand, my niece arrived from NZ to visit for a couple of days. The children's only firm committments were with the school choir and band at Floriade, so we had a very relaxed last week of term.
Cousin S was wonderful with The Little Prince, and sat next to him while we watched the choirs singing.
It was a truly gorgeous day, and we were all very grateful to Grandma E for treating us all to ice creams as we wandered around.
It's hard to get the effects because this year Floriade was planted to double as a night time exhibition, so the flowers are at different levels, and the images are only visible if you're up higher than we were. But you can just see how beautiful the day was...
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