Monday, February 9, 2009

Vege Patch # 5 - AFTER (aka "The Great Carrot Plot")

And here is the latest vege patch. It's in the north side of the house in our side garden. A & the kids eat carrots morning, noon and night - so I have decided to grow an entire bed of carrots. - This shows the vege patch right after planting. I have also placed some more purple king beans in the back as they are doing well in my other vege patch.

I ordered the seeds from Select Organic company (from the Eden Seeds company) and they boast their seeds as "Old Traditional Open Pollinated Seeds,
No hybrids & No GMOs, No chemical treatment,
World's Finest Certified Organic Seeds"

From left to right the six rows are:

1. Dragon
2. Nantes
3. Amsterdam
4. Top Weights
5 & 6 Chantenay Red Cored

It took me ages to work out how to even get carrots started - they seem to have different rules than a lot of other veges. Like
1. Don't use compost.
2. Watch out for rocky earth or the carrots will 'fork'

One rule I have broken already is dug up a new garden fresh from grass. - There will be many weeds and grass coming back up. I did however place some really good top soil in raised mound rows to help with that and then placed sugercane mulch all over.

The other thing I haven't done is left room for staggered planting. However It's really the end of the planting season for carrots being later summer so I will give this a go and then think about better solution next spring. One thing that may help with the "harvesting all at once" is that A's 7yr old girl will apparently just raid them as soon as they are ready to start digging up. I have been warned. I will keep the blog updated with "The Great Carrot Plot"

PS: The trunk in the middle is surrounded by the start of a new succulent garden. I'm not sure how quickly the roots go down and if they will be deep enough to avoid the carrots. I can but try.

Vege Patch #5 - Before

The new spot for the vege patch on the north facing side lawn.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

DIY Mosaic Tray

Last weekend I took a leaf out of design*sponges blog and decided to try my hand at making a mosaic tray. We have found on the beautiful summer days when we want to sit outside on our deck it's always awkward to carry out drinks, nibblies etc. A tray was required. So I remembered this wonderful diy project (click here to read it), and put my own hand to it. Here's my version.
1. I purchased a cheap wooden tray from a local hardware for about $10
2. Using some left over white sample paint, gave it a couple of coats.
3. Bought some glass mosaic tiles from same hardware - it only needed a couple of packs, I think they were about $6, and using liquid nails stuck them on. I left that to dry for 24 hours.
4. Then I mixed up some white grout and followed the instructions. It was very very easy.

We have a slightly green theme through our fifties kitchen - so the colour was chosen to match that - when not in use :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chocolate Mint Truffle Torte

I have found a recipe for my chocolate mint. I am very excited about this new herb I have and am planning wonderful things for it. The first recipe below:


Makes 1 cake, 12 servings.

This torte uses yet one more technique for infusing fresh herbs. This time you steep mint leaves in warm butter, strain them out, and use the scented butter in the cake. Flourless chocolate cakes are familiar to most serious chocolate lovers because they are the most intensely chocolate cakes imaginable. They are, in fact, cooled dense chocolate souffl├ęs and very simple to make. The fresh peppermint flavor in this version gives it a refreshing taste.

About 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour, for the pan
6 ounces (1-1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (gently packed) fresh chocolate mint or peppermint leaves
12 ounces premium bittersweet chocolate chopped
6 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tbsp. granulated sugar
Garnish with powdered sugar

Preparing the pan: Generously butter a 9 inch springform pan and lightly dust the interior with the flour. Turn the pan upside down and bang out the excess flour. Wrap a large square of heavy-duty aluminum foil around the bottom of the pan and partially up the sides. Turn the pan right side up and set it in a shallow baking pan or on a half-sheet pan.

Infusing the butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Stir in the mint leaves and let the butter sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes to absorb the flavor of the leaves.

Butter and chocolate mixture: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Create a double boiler by selecting a medium (10-12") stainless-steel mixing bowl that will rest on top of large (6-quart) pot. The top of the bowl can extend beyond the rim of the pot, but the bottom of the bowl must not touch the water. Put about 2" water in the pot and bring it to a simmer. If the butter has cooled, heat it again to thin it. Pour the butter through a fine sieve into the mixing bowl and press the leaves with the back of a spoon to extract all the butter. Add the chocolate to the bowl and place it over the simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then remove the bowl from the water.

Eggs: Beat the eggs and granulated sugar with an electric mixer on high speed for a full 10 minutes. They should quadruple in volume and become light colored, very thick and fluffy. Fold 1/4 of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then very gently fold in the remaining egg mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Baking: Put the baking pan with the cake on the center oven rack and pour in enough water to come about 1/2" up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until an instant-thermometer inserted in the center of the cake register 155 to 160 F, 25 to 30 minutes. The top of the cake will lose its glossiness and be slightly mounded, but it should not bake so long that it rises and cracks. If you insert a skewer into the center, it should come out gooey. Let the cake cool completely in its pan on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and remove the outer ring. The cake will keep tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. Dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream, ice cream or custard sauce.

Recipe from: "The Herbfarm Cookbook" by Jerry Traunfeld.

Santolina cuttings

Here are my santolina cuttings. (click here for plant they came off) They are cut about 2 inches each and literally just put into sand, to encourage the roots to grow. The sand is moist and I will keep it that way by spraying the cuttings every few days. The first 24 hours were touch and go - drooping sadly waiting for a better day. But this morning I visited them and look at them - propped up and almost on their way. I will nurse them for a few more days - but I am quietly confident this could actually work!


Originally uploaded by Catch That Mountain View
This is Santolina I am growing in the herb garden. I intend to create cuttings from this to establish a border in the front of our house on the path up to the front door. It's a beautiful dusty green colour and is very useful as a border - so I'm giving it a go. :)