Many thanks today go to Karen and Bronwyn from Shoestring Gardening http://www.shoestring.org.au/ and Craig Castree from Edible Gardens http://ediblegarden.webs.com/
for running what was a very enjoyable and entertaining afternoon learning about harvesting and preserving produce from our gardens.
This was my first introduction to Craig and he not only has a wealth of knowledge about all things growing in urban back yards both plant and fowl (which i intend to pick dry) but also a very approachable manner that makes you want him to be your friend. Imagine good Ole Bob (seems a common neighbourly name) having a casual chat over the back fence imparting valuable knowledge from years of experience and that's Craig. Don't we all need one of those? I think its important to note that Craig lives on a 600sqm urban block in Werribee, Victoria and as such not only has local knowledge of our soil and our climate but also works within the confines of a normal size garden which most of us have. I really do advise you to look at his website above. Its amazing what can be achieved in a small space.
|Craig's massive homegrown beetroot, garlic and french shallots|
|It looks like a normal fruit cake but i think it taste even better.|
250gm Butter, softened 1 Cup of Caster Sugar 4 Eggs
250gm of Fresh Beetroot, peeled and finely chopped
150gm Currants 2 tsp grated Lemon Zest 1 tbsp of Lemon Juice
Sift the following together into a separate bowl
1 Cup of Plain Flour 1 Cup of Self Raising Flour 1/2 tsp of Nutmeg
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time
3. Add beetroot, currents, lemon zest and juice and half of the flour mix. Mix well then stir in remaining flour mix.
4. Spread mixture in the prepared tin. Bake in a moderate oven for 1 1/2 hours or until cooked.
5. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before turning out to cool.
6. Sprinkle sifted icing sugar on top if desired.
Craig introduced us to Curly Kale Crisps. He provided a sample of flavours for us to try and explained the cooking process (10 minutes only in 180 degree oven). If you would like the instructions, please comment below. They have an interesting crunchy texture and as he explained Kale is one of the 'superfoods' containing magnesium, calcium and Vitamin C. This great veggie bats way above its weight for nutrients and is especially good for women with more folate than broccoli. Definitely worth a Google. I'd heard of Kale but never tried it.
|We were one day off being able to use the new community centre kitchen and so a temporary kitchen was set up in the child care room using a gas portable stove.|
Karen from Shoestring took over and showed us how to cook some simple recipes to use up a glut from the garden. Because of the temporary kitchen situation she has to do some prep before but there was roasted pumpkin, sage and garlic soup, oven dried tomatoes, roasted capsicum, and fresh eggplant dip (yum). We also sampled some Baked Zucchini Crumbed Chips - all of which made a very nice afternoon tea along with the beetroot cake.
|Karen presenting while Craig had the lovely job of taking the skin off roasted capsicum.|
Craig also discussed a future course, i think in May, when we will get to visit the Werribee Park Heritage Orchard. http://www.werribeeparkheritageorchard.org.au/ I'm looking forward to covering up the grey fence near the veggie patch with espaliered fruit trees from heritage varieties.
I'm excited by how great my garden is going at the moment but also excited to take each morsel of knowledge that i gain from each course and put it into practise. I may not be the worlds best gardener but I'm certainly enthusiastic.
Thanks Rob Foster for accompanying me in place of his wife Ella, who was ill. Its always nice to take along some company which means we have lots to talk about next time we meet and to know that I'm not some strange loony rabbiting on about shoestrings. I was feeling very zen as i made my way home, only to walk in on a zombie war going on in two parts of the house with two projectors accompanied by various boys aged from 15 to 17. Its was Tom's gaming day which was part of his 16th birthday celebrations which never seem to end. Lucky i have only one child. No picture for this one as its toooo gruesome.
|I don't know what this is but its beautiful and it hangs over my fence from the neighbour's place and almost touches the ground on my side. Unfortunately its going to have to be trimmed tomorrow as it is pulling fence down.|
|A new garden feature in the tomato bed. I think it looks rustic and adds a bit of age to a new garden|
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