Need I say more?


Need I say more?

Can’t keep up with the cooking

Despite my best intentions, I find it impossible to keep up with the food posts. It’s hard enough keeping up with the food. Each day’s routine includes surveying the consumables – bread, English muffins or bagels, snack, yogurt, dessert, and ginger ale – and decided what I have to make. Tim is a two treat a day kind of guy. What metabolism. Then what’s for dinner? Lunch is mostly leftovers and lots of tomato soup. The other part of the day is tending the garden. I am still harvesting what was planted before we arrived. I get a bowl of tomatoes almost daily. I cut silverbeet as needed, pull arugula for salad and the occasional beets or carrots. Green beans are almost gone and so are the broad beans. The zucchini is done, as is the pumpkin. We have 4 beautiful blue pumpkins – two pumpkin pies so far, from one – and 4 butternut squash. An occasional potato pops up as well. The snow peas are on a mostly withered vine – salted by ocean spray with the last gale – but still producing a few pods. We were overrun by cucumbers and there are still a few plants holding on. Capsicum, or peppers, are coming to an end. The rhubarb patch is lush and provides many crisps. There are even a few mini strawberries. I keep them watered but haven’t had any yet. Oh yes, broccoli is just coming in. Leaf lettuce is good, but Tim found a land snail in our salad the other night. YUCH!!!

In an herb box, I planted cilantro, basil and arugula; it is close to the house, easy to harvest and well protected. It joins mint, sage, rosemary and parsley. I think the war with the garden invaders is over; I won, despite sacrificing five ears of corn. I attacked on many fronts – snap traps, live trap and poison. In the end, the poison did them in. They ate off the snap traps without tripping them and we caught two in the live trap but they escaped while we pondered what to do with them. Basically I was supplementing their diet with peanut butter for a while. Now the peanut butter, and my plants, go uneaten.

My seedlings in the main garden are so vulnerable. The wind is blowing strong, 40 mph, and will continue to do so for several days. I have barricaded them as best I can. I’ll wash off the salt water from the ocean spray and hope for the best. I have silverbeet (one year I did not plant silverbeet and was shamed for it), did I mention I have silverbeet? Broccoli is coming up, carrot and turnip seedlings are clustered together and I keep trying beetroot. Broad beans are tucked in around the periphery of the garden. Spinach just doesn’t want to sprout. Once I dealt with the rats, a little green spider started to gnaw on the silver beet. I think he’s gone now with a little washing.I put snail bait around the lettuce and other snail delights.

So what have I been cooking. Once I am home, I will post lots of photos, maybe. I roast my first leg of lamb and roast beef. Both were too easy and delicious. I roast or make shake and bake chicken every couple of weeks. Last night I cut up a pork tenderloin and made Chinese dumplings and stir fry. There is a cheat sheet from reddit that makes it simple – pick your protein, find 4 cups of veggies, choose a delicious sauce and that’s it. Another resource I use is a kindle book by Cook’s Illustrated. It has a how to for most things. I think it was free when I got it before our first trip to Deal Island. I made a delicious chicken pot pie topped with biscuit dough from leftover chicken the other night from it. I also pan sautéed lemon chicken breasts and steak. Both delicious. Scones, pictured above, are an old stand by. I made the most delicious cinnamon buns from 5 minute Artisan bread dough, although I had to clean the oven. I’ve made a beef stew in the slow cooker a couple of times. Chile, stuffed capsicum, many grilled lamb chops but the next will be shepherd’s pie. I have perfected my buttermilk pancakes and made them very fluffy with more baking powder than I would usually use. Tomato soup, pumpkin soup, chicken soup and grilled cheese go without saying. Pasta with sausages, pasta with cream, mint and peas, and lots of pizza. Potato chips, French fries, pretzels and crackers. Doughnuts.

I think I am especially excited because today I am baking croissants. It’s windy and rainy so I am sticking close to home. It’s a long but simple process. Make a sweet yeast dough. Spread it thin. Chill it and spread with butter, then keep folding and rolling over a period of about 5 hours, refrigerating it in between, to distribute the butter through the dough. I am going to devote half to croissants and save the other half for spanakopita. That means I will have to make more ricotta cheese from powdered milk. I did it before for a zucchini lasagna and it worked fine. Which brings me back to zucchini, It is more versatile than I imagined. I substituted it for both carrots and apples in two cake recipes and they were delicious. I made fig newtons, well not figs but dried fruit newtons, one of my favorites.

Birthday cake, birthday apple pie, pumpkin pie, snickerdoodles. And more to come. I think I see cream puffs, filled with jam in my future. I have to find lots of use for jam. That is the only food item (I hope) I miscalculated. We have enough for about a year. The jars were larger than I imagined. Off to roll out croissant dough.

Winners and losers

I am losing the battle at the moment with some vermin in the garden. They cleaned out the rest of the corn. At least we got to eat about five delicious ears ourselves. I am contriving all sorts of traps and bait. I think I saw a rat scurry along the border of the garden and I have seen possum poo so, Houston, we have a problem. I have a live trap, bait traps, buckets with enticements over water but alas no prey. So far, the damage has only been to the corn and perhaps a few cherry tomatoes. Tim is going to get involved with trap building today so my fingers are crossed.

On the plus side, I continue to master the art of pizza baking. Even without my pizza oven from home, I am whipping up some delicious pies, if I do say so myself. Yesterday I roast a leg of lamb, and it may have been our best meal yet. Supplies seem to be holding up well. I was miscounting our powdered milk and thought we might have a problem, I even gave up drinking hot cocoa at night, but Tim took a look and found 3 packages I had missed. Phew.

More English muffins

Different recipe from my first batch, which were really crumpets. These don’t have nooks and crannies but they are delicious. Paired with tomato soup and ginger ale, it made a perfect lunch.

I need my energy because I am waging war in the veggie garden. Something (or someone) has been eating my corn and knocking over plants in the process.

Three have been clues: a bit of possum poo on the path and a rat seen scurrying around the edge of the enclosure. Traps, live and not so live, have been baited – with a young ear of corn and squished tomatoes.

“It’s always something.”
– Roseanna Anna Dana

Today we ate cake

It’s my birthday party. I baked a cake from scratch, Tim made dinner (leftover pulled pork, green beans and mashed potatoes) and we drank our first bottle of wine. A good time was had by all.

We traded a fresh loaf of bread and some zucchini (haha) for powdered milk and sugar with a group of boaters.

Tonight I’ll curry some lamb and find more fresh veggies in the garden. The green beans have been harvested and I worked some soil for new plantings.

My arugula and broccoli seedlings are doing well. I’m waiting for the carrots and silverbeet to pop their little heads up. Beets are sprouting in an egg crate.

I feel a responsibility to add to the garden for the winter caretakers. Last week’s gale blew salt water into the garden and damaged some of the climbing plants. The cherry tomatoes I eat for snacks while I garden were already salted. Not a good sign!

The saga of bread, yoghurt, and ginger ale carries on. I’ve had a few yogurt fails and then call it buttermilk.

We’ve made a dent in flour, sugar and milk but for some reason, I bought way too much jam. So last night there were strawberry preserves in the cake filling.

Morning donuts

Have I mentioned how much I love the artisan bread? I think I have. Since I have used quite a bit for naan, there is not enough in the fridge for another loaf of bread. So I heated some oil and dropped in a few pieces of dough. Then I rolled them in cinnamon sugar I have leftover from yesterday’s batch of snickerdoodles. A cross between donuts and zeppolis. Our version of fried bread.

Just like home

New York bagels for breakfast, tomatoes on an Adirondack chair (with the Australian flag in the background?) and oh noooo. More zucchini flowers!!

I made a zucchini cake yesterday by adapting a carrot cake recipe and it was delicious. Then I found another huge zucchini in the garden. We have cold rainy weather so yesterday I made two soups. One was chard, sausage, potato and onion with the chicken stock I made. I had it for lunch with cheddar cheese and it was delicious. Bagel for breakfast obviously. I also made another tomato soup as the plants show no sign of slowing down.I read that you can freeze tomatoes whole if you plan to cook with them, so I threw a few in the freezer. Dinner was a replay of broiled lamb, green beans and mashed potatoes with a tomato, cucumber, arugula salad. Hope the rain and wind quiet down so I can take long walks to burn this off. With all the rain, it looks like we’ll be doing some lawn mowing soon.

Catching up with the veggie garden

I have put 3 pumpkins in the pantry and will leave the rest on the vine. I grated a zucchini to substitute in a carrot cake, made a dozen bagels, and baked an apple pie.
Leftover chicken became chicken salad and the first batch of tomato soup is gone.

I took two beets, boiled, then peeled them, chopped the greens and sautéed them with garlic and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Then mixed them all up. It was yummy.

Dinner was back to lamb with said veggies.

Steak gyro

I used a small piece of the artisan bread to make two pieces of naan and added leftover steak, veggies and thousand island dressing for a delicious Deal Island sandwich.
Yesterday we had pizza for lunch and leftover chicken and new French fries with the cucumber and tomato salad. I have been planting seedlings to get them ready for when there is space in the garden. I and getting to the last of the broad beans and snow peas and that will offer some room. I had fun playing with the compost, which the skinks love, the other day. I mixed the oldest compost into soil, covered the newest with a burlap tarp and put a lid over the medium batch. Solid gold.

Yesterday I made a loaf of bread, biscotti, yogurt and ginger ale. It’s hard to keep up with Tim’s appetite. Today I think I’ll make a batch of bagels.

Island life is good.