Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Autumn harvest

 We've been a little busy on the farm over the past few weeks. There has been much picking, preparing, bottling and cooking. I'm giving a quiet little sigh that that summer is over and finally we get to ease into slower days. I have been anxiously waiting for the tomatoes to fruit, and finally, just when I had almost given up on them, they seem to have exploded in numbers around the vegetable patches. There are still many green ones, and I'm watching them closely. I have made a pact with myself that this year I will NOT process any green tomatoes. Why? Because I just don't like them. I know, some folks like green tomato pickles, but I just can't be convinced. I find myself telling our customers 'don't choose that one, I don't like it'. And that's probably not the best way to sell a product. So I will instead cross my fingers and hope these little babies turn bright red so I can make another big batch of Tomato Kasundi and a big supply of our very popular Tomato and Ginger Jam. 
This is Gus, Andre's dog. He likes company. Here he was, keeping an eye on the tomato picking. He eats pretty much everything that is not nailed down, but he's not fussed on tomatoes! 
This is Kasundi in the making. Just look at the amount of spices required for a 2kg batch! I take a deep breath each time I make itas it is an expensive thing to make. But, our customers love it. And so do we. I used some as a curry base a week ago. I added coconut milk and poached some fish in the sauce. It was fabulous. Frans even had two helpings, and he's not crazy about fish. This Indian relish is also great on a little steamed rice and veggies. Mmmm.... 

Green beans climbing high! 
A morning in the veggie patch and Pat is picking tomatoes, I'm gathering beans, zucchini, parsnips, carrots, swedes.... I've cut back the asparagus ferns. We'll look forward to sweet spears in October or November again.  
What do we do with all the beans? I blanched some and froze them for use during winter. Some we just had to eat right away. A favourite South African dish is to boil beans chopped up (like the pic above), a chopped onion and a couple of potatoes together in salted water. When the beans are soft, strain off the water (keep for soup stock!), mash together the veggies. Add a little salt and white pepper and a blob of butter. Delicious!
The apple trees are heavy with fruit. There's apple action at the table most days. Apple & Ginger Jam, Apple & Rhubarb Chutney, Apple Jelly, Apple Sauce... And of course, our famous Worcestershire Sauce made with our very own organically grown garlic and apples. 
We've canned quite a few jars of apples. These will make their way into apple crumbles and roast pork and apple sauce dinners!
Let's not forget the zucchinis. We have had our fair share. We love them roasted, in salads and in quiches Our favourite farm soup of the moment is Zucchini Soup.  Here's our recipe:

Zucchini Soup

2kgs grated zucchini
2 litres stock 
(we use chicken or turkey stock, whatever is in the freezer! Our own birds. Plucking a duck is not a pleasant task, so we make sure we get every little bit of value out of our birds!)
1 onion or a few shallot stalks or even a leek (whatever you have growing that is 'oniony') - chopped roughly
1 potato - chopped roughly
Parsley - a big handful
2 cloves of garlic - chopped finely
2 handfuls of grated strong cheese. I use Parmesan or similar.
Cream. About a cup.
Salt & Pepper

Lightly sweat the onion and garlic. Add all the rest of the ingredients and cook till everything is soft and mushy. Blitz with a hand blender. Add a little cream. Season to taste.
Serve with freshly baked bread. You'll be serving up seconds!
You know that the end of the zucchini season is here when you get baby zucchinis that don't seem to grow anymore. It's getting too cold. Pick them. And the flowers! Chop them up and make a delicious stir fry or quiche.
The excess pickings are blitzed and frozen in big zip lock bags. Each bag holds around 2kgs. This is just the right amount to make another batch or three of that delicious soup!
There are some times that we have to take a leap of faith when it comes to eating from the land... Our neighbour brought around a dish full of freshly picked field mushrooms. They pick them in their forest each Autumn. We were a little dubious in eating them. The wrong ones can kill you! These looked like mushrooms. Smelled like mushrooms. No funny colours. Lots of 'googling' and checking to make sure they were ok. We did have our neighbour's word... They were delicious. Served on a grass-fed porterhouse steak. Here's Jayne getting the fungi ready for dinner.
April has been a busy market month. First we had a market in Birregurra, followed by a rained out market in Colac. Then another market in Birregurra on Easter Sunday. On offer were all our new apple products, as well as the tomato jam and Kasundi. 
Like my new little white shelf? I picked it up from an op shop for $6. The can of spray paint cost $12. Andre' sprayed it for me for nothing. Priceless... to me. 
 I love it. 
Easter Sunday Market in Birre.
Sold the last of our lovely garlic. 

This is a short week. We have Anzac Day on Friday.  
We'll be attending the Dawn Service in Colac. This year is a special year, as Frans' brother Andre' will be playing the Last Post for the ceremony. When it's over, we'll all walk down the road to the RSL for a free breakfast. 

Lest we forget.

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