Sunday, March 13, 2022

Weekend at home and preparing food...


We got some rain yesterday and today and as a bonus the temperature dropped a bit, the plants have had a lovely soak in the water from heaven, and time spent weeding the path from the back of the house to the clothesline was easy work.

I love seeing water droplets on the plants, sitting there like little jewels they glisten in the filtered light of an overcast day.

Yesterday I finally got to begin the process of dehydrating seasonal vegetables and fruit while they are cheapest, though this won't last long as food prices are rising quickly. I admit to envying those in cooler climates who get to grow abundant vegetable gardens through spring and summer. Unfortunately not much 'day to day' food grows well here in the tropics at any time of the year, for even though winter is best for salad veg, we've had very warm winters the past few years and simply cannot keep the bugs from invading everything.

This winter will more than likely be another warm one (imagine mid-spring weather) and without a nice cold snap (imagine mid autumn) the bugs don't ever die off, they never stop multiplying. So we've decided to rest the garden from vegetables this year and grow as many herbs as we can for drying later, plus rocket and spring onions because they don't get much attention from the bugs in any season. 

I began the dehydrating with carrots on Saturday. I don't peel them, just wash and run through the Sumo Slicer...

...before spreading across the trays. I filled five trays with two kilograms of sliced carrots (4.4 pounds) and they took just six hours to dehydrate.

Whilst that was happening I made two jars of lime curd because this is the first year our lime tree has had fruit and though very good sizes and extra juicy, there were only six limes. Three limes were used for the lime curd, and what a simple recipe it was - from start to finish about ten minutes using the microwave.

The lime curd is delicious!! If you'd like the recipe it is HERE though it is for lemon curd, but I simply substituted them with my limes. I will definitely make more next lime season.

I also made some Amaretti biscuits because I had leftover egg whites from the lime curd. They're not a traditional Amaretti because I can't stand almond essence so substituted with vanilla essence, but every other ingredient is the same. This was another super easy recipe, and done in a food processor! 

The biscuits surprised me because of how simple the steps were using the food processor, but they turned out just as if I'd spent way more time beating egg whites and gently folding ingredients. If you're interested in the recipe it is HERE.

During the week I like to have a few simple sides prepared for salad nights, or to add on open sour dough sandwiches, so I used THIS recipe to make pickled cucumbers, and my usual (and very simple) recipe for pickled red onions.

To make my pickled onions (these are not for preserving but for using within a week or two) you need...

* 1/4 cup water
* 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
* 3 teaspoons sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* One large finely sliced red onion

Mix all together in a bowl or jar and leave to soak for an hour, then drain away the liquid and store the onions in a glass container in the fridge. In the photo above I had not yet drained them.

I also began a new sour dough starter. There was a time when I had it going all the time and baked sour dough bread every second day...but then life got in the way and the kids had left home...and you know? 
But we are taking food production very seriously now, as stores often have empty shelves and prices continue to climb, so baking my own sour dough a few times a week will become normal again. I've been paying $6 a loaf for sourdough the past few years and yet I can make my own (which tastes far superior) for around 80c. This is a no-brainer, right?
As sour dough bakers have become more knowledgeable I decided to research more and found THIS wonderful video tutorial with step by step instructions for starting a sour dough from scratch. What I liked about this one was how very clear it is and also that it has measurements. I used to make my starter very similarly, but really needed a refresher course. 
It's day two with my starter now and it is happily bubbling away. Being in such a warm climate starters tend to grow far quicker than regular or cool climates.

This morning my dehydrator is working hard, the trays filled with pineapple, nectarine and apple slices, plus I've sliced my remaining limes as well. I watched a video the other day where the woman dehydrated lemons this way and then ground them into powder to store for flavouring her baked goods - well, I thought that was so clever, so we'll see how it works with my few limes.  

This morning we also headed out to Bunnings for herb seedlings and a few indoor plants.

I've planted out basil, rosemary and continental parsley already, but I'll leave the five indoor seedlings till tomorrow.

Some wonderful news from the garden at last, about the Elder Tree. Finally, we have a few berries! Only a few mind you, but it's a start. They have been literally baking on the tree and falling off as tiny green things for many months, but today I saw these...

There's more on the tree, green still, but they're bigger than the ones which baked and fell, so I am hopeful. In the meantime I have popped these few in the freezer and when I have enough one day, they shall become elderberry cordial. 

Last thing to share is that we are now ready to buy a grain mill and have narrowed our choice to two models. We're just waiting to see which one is already in stock and can be purchased immediately as they are both made in Europe, but online shops here have them. The two we're looking at are the Mockmill and the KoMo. How wonderful to mill our own grain and bake with it!

Now I'd best sign off as we're off to visit Blossom and family and I have some lime curd to gift her as well. Then home to play with these lovely Cath Kidston drill fabrics which I bought at a garage sale about 18 months ago. I'm thinking some peg aprons...maybe sell some as well...we'll see how I go after I make the first one.

Have a blessed end of weekend, lovely friends, and may the grace of the Lord and His perfect love fill your empty spaces and draw your hearts to dwell on peaceful thoughts.



Lin said...

Mmmm, lime curd, delicious. And amaretti too, I shall be round for tea! Such a shame that you will not be able to grow vegetables as there is nothing nicer but we were finding the same problem with certain things in France so I know what its like. That slicing machine looks brilliant. I remember my mother had a hand held grater slicer when I was a child and I was always allowed to clean out the leftover bits of cheese after she had used it but I have never been able to find one myself that was tough enough to deal with carrots. I must do another search. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
Looks all so yummy :)
The rain sure makes the garden grow and makes for great colour in photos :)
Grinding up dried limes and lemons would be amazing ! The aroma in house ! The flavour added to dishes and baked goods !
Enjoy !
Looking forward to adding a rosemary plant to the garden this summer :)
We have the same jars, the ones your lime curd is in, here. I uses them as storage jars also :)
Thanks for a beautiful start to Sunday !
hugs, take care,

Annabel said...

Cath Kidston fabrics in a garage sale! They are gorgeous! I am going to try your biscuits. Thank you. I have to tell you, Mum came to visit yesterday. She told me how she thinks it is wonderful about you doing homeschool lessons with the girls. Then she told me she made your Rock Cakes and loves them. I thought I better tell you this! Rain is so beautiful. We are hoping for some this week. I am able to grow a farm way into winter.... I have a lot planted now and trying more container gardening. I cant wait to see what you make with those fabrics! xxx

Pink Rose said...

Hi Jenny wow done with all your cooking and preserving,I learn so much from reading your posts,you are very kind sharing your knowledge.
Oh those fabrics are gorgeous,have fun creating from them ,and looking forward to learning about your mill,take care lovely lady ๐Ÿ’•

diana said...

As always your post is a bright spot in my day. I have been doing sourdough bread but switched to a yeast one a few weeks ago. I make buns tone toasted for breakfast or used as a sandwich. The fabrics are lovely. ❤️๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ˜Š

Material Girl said...

I love sourdough but the wet starter is just too much for us. I saw a fascinating video on making ‘dry sourdough’ by the Elliot Homestead on You tube which looked great. It was very interesting and there was less discard.
I live in the mountains and gardens are really impossible. The growing season is really short. There is no soil, just rock,so we purchase soil for raised beds. We have bugs too but the small rodents decimate our plants. Very frustrating when you spend so much time and $.Good luck with the herbs

Jenny said...

I have often felt for you living in such a hot climate. I would really struggle with it as well. You're home looks so cool & comforting & I would have to create a cool home as well.
Have you ever researched growing vegetables in the tropics? It's just a thought...for the future. We have such problems with pests where I live. It's very hard to grow food in my neighborhood without a large & deep fence(high above the ground for deer & buried to keep out burrowers) Plus the insects & diseases, ect. But we do have winter that helps slow those insects down! How hard would it be to never have relief from them!

I'd read a few months ago about a Consumer Reports study on herbs & how that every brand they tested had some kind of poison in them! The herbs we use the most seemed to be the worst. So this year I plan to be much more proactive about growing & drying herbs for my pantry. They are so cheap (or have been) & easily accessible in the stores here but I want healthy herbs. I've bought seeds & am waiting for warm enough weather to begin planting.

I've saved all of these recipes & hope to try them.

MoeWest said...

Could you use shade cloth over your vegetable garden?

Donna P. said...

We've also had problems with pests and the like with our gardens though my daughter in law as an amazingly green thumb.
Dh isn't a fan of lemon but I was thinking of substituting strawberries instead. They're in season right now!
Thank you for the recipes and the glance into your lovely home.

kupton52 said...

Thank you so much for pointing us toward the wonderful recipes! I love lemon curd but hate to make it. I cannot wait to try this microwave version. My favorite cookies in the world are amaretti so an extra thank you for that! Please post photos of your aprons...the fabrics are lovely. I've never heard the term "drill" fabrics...I'll have to look that up! Blessings....God bless...

Remembrances said...

Thank you for the recipes! I dehydrate a lot, and am just going to slice and dehydrate a ton of lemons from my cousin's trees. I also dehydrate the zest separately from some of the lemons and then slice the lemon and dehydrate them as well. We live in a climate that is not great for late spring/summer gardening (Phoenix, AZ area), but we did get some property further north and I will be able to have a summer garden there! I love that fabric - how blessed you were to find it at a yard sale! Karin

Julie said...

Everything just looks so delicious dear Jennifer ... how I wish I could reach in to my screen. But I think THE most beautiful sight of all is that pile of Cath Kidston fabrics ... they are making me drool all over my screen & I am SO envious. But in the nicest possible way

Lorrie said...

I so enjoy reading about others' homemaking activities. Your lime curd sounds and looks delicious. Soon herbs will be growing here, too, and I will dry them for use throughout the year. Can I ask what you do with your dehydrated carrots? I use my deep freezer for a lot of vegetables when they are well-priced, and I can tomatoes, salsa, peaches, jams, and pickles. The amaretti biscuits look delicious, too.

Ingrid said...

Hola Jennifer!
Guao!!!! Que mujer tan productiva eres! La verdad es que no te da tiempo de aburrirte. Por eso siempre te he admirado. Gracias por inspirarnos. Todo me gustรณ, pero los Amaretti lucen perfectos. Voy a probar la receta. Recibe un abrazo desde el otro lado del trรณpico.

Farm Quilter said...

Your lime curd looks delicious...I've never even seen a curd so I don't know what to do with it!! I do a similar thing with onions, but add sliced cucumbers, leave them in the liquid and they make a wonderful snack for hubby or a side dish to meals during the summer (I pick out the cucumbers and eat them as the only onions I can eat are dehydrated, so I will dehydrate them for cooking and gifting). When I'm home, I can have a huge garden, which leads to loads of canning in the late summer. I've missed that these last few years. Thanks for the link to the sourdough starter - I used to bake bread daily (stepson lived with us and adored it so it went quickly!). I'm saving the recipe for the curd as well and will give it a try as soon as I know what to do with it! I just got home from a 6-week, cross-country trip (6,000 miles) to visit two of my kids. I lost 11 pounds on my trip, so I can eat a few treats again - I hate it when I gain weight and my clothes feel so tight! What a blessing to find such perfect fabric at a garage sale!

Christine M said...

How do you use the dehydrated carrots Jennifer? The lime curd looks delicious. I can't stand almond essence either. It turns my stomach. That's a good idea using vanilla essence for the biscuits. I usually make some coconut macaroons when I have left over egg whites. Those fabrics are gorgeous! xxx

Jill at emeraldcottage said...

What a wonderful post, espcially the lime curd - the colour is amazing!

Anonymous said...


Tammy said...

Hello Dearest Jennifer, Lovely to read your post today. how exciting you got some elderberries. I have a couple bushes in pots they are 2 years old and still no berries to pick. The deer ate them all off when they were green last year. And I need to remember to fertilize them as well. I do not care for almond flavoring. I have been picking Dandelions and dehydrating them for teas, and I also picked some white clover flowers and dehydrated those as well this week for herbal teas as well...Love those beautiful fabrics you will use for your aprons . I have been wanting a grain mill for several years now...But haven't acquired one yet. They are super expensive . Let me know how you like yours when you get it and what model you get. Take care Dear Friend