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!
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.