Winter mornings

Chilly mornings on Mulberry Tree Farm bring a special magic to the garden. Jonquils and daffodils bloom, and the trees make majestic silhouettes in the mist.

And the past two morning have brought a new feature – an ice skating rink, for the birds! The birdbath has been frozen solid, much to the dismay of the wrens and lorikeets!

But the birds are enjoying the biscuit and bread crumbs we put out for them. Scone crumbs are a favourite, so I’m pleased my winter baking is proving to be a hit with the locals!

20140805-105703-39423445.jpg

20140805-105704-39424358.jpg

Advertisements

The Preservation Society

We love preserving things at Mulberry Tree Farm, especially when they taste good! Our homegrown quinces have been quietly curing in the larder, and Hubby decided to do what he does best with them – make quince paste!

And this time he discovered something else – after boiling with a lemon rind and whisking them in the blender, he came over with a teaspoon. “Taste this!” he beamed.

I’d never thought to try puréed quince, but it is a beautiful, complex and delicate flavour. And the best bit is, there’s no added sugar!

So Hubby set some aside for us to warm up for breakfast with a dash of yogurt … And it’s amazing.

And, by the way, so is his quince paste. We can’t wait to find some delectable cheese to sample it with!

20140422-074250.jpg

20140422-074308.jpg

20140422-074318.jpg

The good oil

Olives and their oil have been treasured for centuries, and every year at Mulberry Tree Farm we harvest our olives with great pride. And unfortunately to date, we haven’t had much to celebrate post harvest.

I’ve tried curing buckets of the beautiful, bitter fruit but not with much luck. Hubby suggested we make our own oil so we started researching – at the local café in town.

Sure enough we were very lucky to be introduced to a local treasure who is an olive expert and lives two farms down from us. Mr Fratelli came to the Goulburn Valley in his twenties. He fell in love with it, bought a small plot, and met and married a beautiful girl who helped plant the groves. He now has his own olive oil press and supplies the top restaurants in Melbourne with his liquid gold. His oil is so good that he even puts his image and name on the bottle!

We learned from him that certain olives are best for oil, and others are prime candidates for preserving due to the amount of oil they yield. A good oil olive will yield 16% oil. Some olives yield 3% and these are the ones for preserving.

We were shown that pH plays a big part in preserving olives – just add a splash of vinegar to fresh water to keep the olives from becoming mushy.

Some of ours preservers were ready, so they’re in sterilised jars and we’re changing fresh water every day for 10 days before adding that touch of vinegar.

And our oil olives are still maturing, so we’ll leave them a while until we take them down the road for pressing.

So now there’s no excuse for anything but restaurant standard olives … But, just quietly, I might be doing the tasting before putting my name to these!

20140416-175216.jpg

20140416-175233.jpg

Rain on a hot tin roof

I’m a sound sleeper. There’s not much that wakes me up, but this morning’s thunder clap had me sitting (lightning) bolt upright at 4am. And I was glad to be awake to hear the blissful sound of raindrops on the roof.

With no town water connection, we rely on our tanks for water. And when it rains, we feel happy! Hubby was up at 6am clearing a blocked down pipe, Drizabone on, drenched and smiling! I watched through the kitchen window as he stood to take in the heavens opening.

Country life has taught me about simplicity. And it’s the simple things that really matter. Water is fundamental to all of us, and if I can be reminded of that in the middle of the night, I’m somehow even more grateful!

20140330-174820.jpg

Carrot top

There’s some beautiful Autumn colour in the garden at the moment, and it’s not just in the trees. Our carrots are looking good enough to eat!

A lush green top is a good indication that your carrots are ready for the picking. Gently brush away the dirt at the top of the carrot – depending on the type, the diameter should be between 2.5-3cm.

Carefully slide downwards into the dirt along the length of the carrot with your finger. If it’s too short, leave the carrot for about a week, then check again.

Ours are looking pretty good and because I’m in a baking mood, I’m thinking carrot muffins!

20140323-121723.jpg

All Change

This weekend at Mulberry Tree Farm saw the season change to Autumn.

It’s been a hot summer and we’re lucky that we still have feed for The Boys. Drought is a very real and scary prospect for farmers, and our thoughts are with all who are experiencing this.

The changing seasons are my favourite, and I’m looking forward to the leaves turning and bursting with colour.

We’ll be preparing the veggie patch for its autumn crop of broccoli, onions and radishes!

So farewell Summer. Thank you for our tomatoes and peaches and mulberries.

And for the beautiful sunsets!

20140303-111747.jpg

We Love Different

When you grocery shop, have you noticed the perfect fruit and vegetables on offer?

I admit I never did until I started to grow my own. The produce that makes the cut in supermarkets and green grocer’s displays is like the last ten standing in a beauty pageant. Only the “best” go on show?

But what about the slightly imperfect, quirky or funny ones? When it’s fresh produce, they taste better than the one’s in store. And when they’re your own, you love them just as much… And some of them love you back too!

20140222-184234.jpg