Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy Birthday "Farmer Frans"

How quickly a year goes by. This time last year we had a big 50th birthday celebration for Frans on the farm. The party went on for a couple of weeks. This year, sadly, we celebrated only on the day. But what a lovely day it was!
Sara came home for the weekend and we prepared a feast for Sunday lunch.

The table is set

Many years ago a friend in Sydney, Maggie Gilbert, treated us to her famous Cajun Prawns. Her best tip was to eat the prawns on newspaper. It makes cleanup a whole lot easier, and lends a feeling of being at the beach to the meal! You can dress up the table too if you want. Candles and sparkling glassware look wonderful contrasted against the casual newsprint. The best drinks to serve with the spicy prawns are a cold beer or a chilled riesling. As you can see from the photos below, there were not too many leftovers!


 Dessert was a French inspired Tart Tatin. I used nectarines as that's what I had on hand. Traditionally, apples or pears are used. I learned this particular recipe from one that Gordon Ramsay does.  I love the use of the extra spices; cardamon, anise, cinnamon. Click the link for the recipe. We served ours with ice cream, but it is equally delicious with thick clotted cream.

Tart Tatin - Nectarines

What's in the garden?

I was wandering around the vegetable garden last week and was mentally listing all the chores I need to do. There are vegetables that need to be pulled out that I have left to go to seed. Once I've collected the seeds, the plants can go onto the compost heap. But before the seeds are ready, I want to show you the beautiful flowers that some of the vegetables produce. Some are nice enough to cut and place in a vase!

First up..... drum roll... 
Isn't this just a beautiful flower? It looks very similar to the mauve pom pom that pops out of the chive bush. Family? Yep.

Next we have can you guess???
It's a ..... Carrot!
 I didn't know they grew this big either or that they had such beautiful flowers. Very similar to Queen Anne's lace. 

This is one of my favourite herbs. Dill. I love the little yellow cosmic explosions on each flower head. I often throw the flowers of vegetables and herbs into my salads. They add colour, texture and a big flavoursome bang! 

I'm so excited. It's squash season! And here we have a fabulous Zucchini flower. The male flowers can be stuffed with all sorts of interesting things. My favourite stuffing is ricotta, garlic and herbs. They're then lightly fried and served as a starter or a light lunch with some delicious home made bread and a glass of chilled white wine. Zucchini are on our menu almost all Summer. We eat them stuffed, raw in salads and pickled. Such a humble veggie with such a wide repertoire. Plant some this Summer. You'll love them! 

And here we have Frans in the raspberry patch. This is where you'll find him every second day. We have picked and picked raspberries! The freezer is groaning with the weight of them! I will be making all sorts of interesting preserves with the berries in the next couple of months. Stay tuned... lots of info to come! 

Back to the flowers... These are raspberry flowers. Pretty little things aren't they? 

Ok, not the flowers, but the fruit. Blackberries. We have a few of the thornless variety alongside the raspberries. We do however have lots of the thorned, weedy kind growing along our fence line. I always wondered why blackberries grew along the side of the country roads. I think I figured it out. It's the birds. They eat the fruit. They then sit on the power lines and do what birds do. The seeds get scattered far and wide. Then farmers have to get rid of the black berries along their fence lines. Why? If a plant or anything for that matter touches the electric wires, then the fence is rendered useless. This is no good for farmers who have sheep and cows and want them to stay INSIDE their properties. So back to the berries... they really are delicious. Just not the ones with thorns that grow along the fence line! These ones are not quite ready yet. They need to be black! Duh.

Another berry... A blue one. I love these! We have one lonely bush that is in our netted area where the birds don't get to demolish the bush. I'm planning to add a few more to this area this coming winter.  

And here is everyone's favourite.... the humble strawberry! These little flowers develop into the loveliest red fruits, packed with taste! Nothing like the bland supermarket punnets. The season is short however, and daily picking is required. My strawberry conserve this year has been a hit. You open the jar,  and smell the strawberry patch and Summer all in one sniff. 

Till next time... keep the water up to your garden. The summer is hot!

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