Monday, May 30, 2011

Last Autumn 2011 Harvest

I can't believe it in less than 30 hours will be officially winter season here in Adelaide. Not only that we are also almost middle of the year when I felt that we just entered year 2011. On the other hand, it is interesting that the opposite hemisphere have longer day hours to enjoy and don't need to wear jacket soon. Visit Daphne's Dandelion to see varieties of harvest from different part of gardens around the world is enjoying. We harvested our first giant purple mustard grown from Harry seeds that we inter-planted with broccoli. As the giant purple mustard grow much faster than slow-growing broccoli, it gets overcrowded on the patch so we harvested some of it. We had some sweet corns, tomatoes, volunteer potatoes and different variety of capsicum to harvest last week. Interestingly, one of the sweet corns plant had kernels on the tassel and it tasted very sweet brings back childhood memory when my aunt brought back young stalk of rice for a treat.

Yellow cherry tomatoes, pencil size leeks and red capsicum fried together with rice noodles for Sunday breakfast.
Red hot chilli harvest.
Pak Choi and funny looking root vegetables.
Bitter gourd plant is still producing some male and female flowers at the moment. But with the cold weather, the fruit won't grow that much even it is well pollinated. Will this be our last bitter gourd harvest for this year? Not sure we still have ping pong ball size of bitter gourd on the plants. More and more daikon, snow peas and chili to harvest next month.
How do you prepare your radish in the kitchen?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Terung 2011 (2011年の茄子)

Last warm season we grow 3 varieties of eggplant which are Early Long Purple, Lebanese and Bonica. Most of the plants were perennials as this was their second summer not first. Eggplants in our garden has this habit of starting to produce in December and then they will have about 2 months break when the weather is too hot for them to produce proper bloom. Our eggplants will start to produce again end of March. Surprisingly, we have harvest of eggplants up till middle of June (early winter) two years consecutively. Our eggplants and peppers are a bit weird likes to grow in cool weather, maybe the sun is more kinder to them? The only problem with this habit is it takes a long time to wait for the fruit to mature.
Early Long Purple
Early producer and prolific. Tolerates cooler condition good for cooler region. Long and medium size fruit. Cold hardy ( no frost) and can be treated as perennial in temperate region. A nice harvest on its second year although yield is slightly reduce. Since eggplants need a long time to grow and produce, the perennials will be the ones to produce earlier. If the weather permits by end October~ November. Can grow more than 1 metre tall. Need a very deep container to grow but won't give much produce compare to the one on the patch. If growing the plant in the container first year, can be transplanted on the patch in spring when the soil is warm. When the fruits is maturing or old the skin colour will become paler. Can be a bit bitter sometime depend on the fruit maturity stage during harvest. We had too much of this eggplants when we grow them for the first time (7plants), many times we share it with neighbour and friends. Photo taken from the eggplant second summer.
We only have one plant and this is the plant second summer. It was growing in a small pot during its first summer and through winter near the house wall. I know I treated it badly on its first year and I still remember it gave us only 3 eggplants. Very drought-hardy, can you imagine with a small pot and the sun blazing with the temperature 40+ degree Celsius for a week many times in summer it can survive. To make amends, I transplanted this eggplant on the most sunny spot in the veggie patch in spring. This eggplant grow twice its previous height and has given us at least 20 eggplants. At the moment it still have fruits on it and more blooms this week. I am thinking of pulling up this plant to make space for cool season veggies but I reckon I should be patient and wait until it stop fruiting. Especially now when I can't be very picky as they are not much veggies to be harvested at the moment. It will at least fill in the gap. Lebanese eggplant skin are more deep purple and much more firmer when it is cooked compared with Early Long Purple. Not bitter.
Seedling that we bought from Bunnings last spring, I wanted to try growing this big oval shape eggplant. I must admit I still like the long finger shape ones rather than the big oval shape eggplant. I am going to keep this plant for next summer and see how it will fare through winter. Hopefully the geranium plant growing next to it will be a good wind break. A very big plant.
Eggplants grow well together with capsicum.
What is your favourite eggplant variety?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Autumn Visitors

We have so many creatures visiting our garden this year in autumn. Many of them, we have not seen them in previous autumn. I am not familiar with these tiny creatures, hopefully you can help me identify them which I have to watch out or welcome in our garden. We are worried that we shoo away the good guys but the bad boys have a nice home-stay with us.
This one on top of leaf amaranth look very cute but I am very suspicious of this cute bug. Let it stay or shoo it away?
Mr. Grasshopper is a childhood friend. It does not leave any obvious damage in our garden, although with many numbers can severely causes havoc in a tropical garden.
I am not really sure whats her name. But it does look one that I should let it stay as it wants in our garden.
How about this bug No.4?
This spider seems to be spunning webs to protect pumpkin behind it.
It is getting colder everyday now here.
Hope you don't catch the bug!
Stay warm.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pumpkin Rice and Pumpkin Soup

Although I harvested a pumpkin last weekend, I still have not use it. I am trying to finish up pumpkins that I got from our local fruit and veggie swap earlier this month. It was cold and raining heavily yesterday so I had some time in my hand to search for pumpkin recipes that I can make with things that I have in my fridge and pantry. It has been such a long time that I have not spent much time in the kitchen experimenting, all thanks to the rain yesterday.
Our weekend harvest were sweet corns, chilies, beans, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, baby beetroot, snow peas, first harvest of snowball turnips and might be the last okra burgundy for this year. See what other gardeners from all over the worlds are harvesting this week in Harvest Monday hosted by Daphne's Dandelions.
With all those chilies and tomato harvest, we had sambal belacan everyday. Hope it keeps the flu bug away from this cold weather.
I have to say that I don't grow up eating pumpkin that much. I rarely saw pumpkin in my mama kitchen. I know she probably used a lot of pumpkin for puree and feeding me when I was a baby like I do with my sons. But other than that it is very rare that we have any dishes with pumpkin on it or I was not fond of pumpkin during my childhood and teens. I gave some pumpkin to my vegetarian friend and she said she used them for pumpkin soup. She says her mom used to make pumpkin rice. So I decided to have a go of making pumpkin rice when I remember that A Nyonya' s Kitchen...for all seasons blog shared her pumpkin rice recipe, end last month. This is not vegetarian dish but Ilhan likes to eat chicken nowadays so perhaps I can coax him to have a taste and he won't have a big fuss. Petite nyonya used dried scallops, shitake mushrooms and teriyaki sauce but I don't include this because it was not available in our pantry. Furthermore, we used 2 cups of rice instead of 3/4cup rice .This is because instead of small bowl diced chicken meat, someone use big bowl. I skipped the 'small" when I was reading the ingredients. We add in sliced capsicum, turnips and snow peas into this dish. I like this dish it was easy and did not take much time prepare because the rice cooker will help with the cooking afterwards.
I have always wanted to make western style vegetable soups but I always don't have some of the ingredients in our kitchen when I have the time. For example, for a South-East Asia kitchen any kind of cream, sour or full or light is not a common thing that I would have in the fridge except if I have been planning ahead for some certain dish, this include natural yogurt for cooking too. Sometime I buy them on impulse, maybe this weekend thinking I can try new dish...most of the time it got expired. While waiting for Ilhan selecting his books at the local library, I saw one of Masterchef judge new book~ Gary Mehigan's Comfort Food. I borrowed it for Lenay because she likes to watch Masterchef. I took a peek when we are back at home, Gary's pumpkin soup recipe ingredient are things that we have in the kitchen. So my mission for Sunday dinner preparation was making pumpkin soup.
Gary's pumpkin soup is for 4servings (I only made for 2 serving half of the ingredient below. But it was still too much and we even freeze half of the cooked soup).
~1X1.6 kg jap pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut into manageable chunk for grating (I used 3 different type of pumpkin because I am trying to finish off the pumpkin we got from the swap JAP, butternut and that giant pumpkin. Moreover I cut it into small chunks and did not grate.)
~125 g unsalted butter, chopped.
~50ml vegetable oil
~1 teaspoon table salt
~1 litre milk
~Freshly ground black pepper, crusty bread or garlic toasts to serve.

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and sprinkle with salt. Cook the pumpkin, covered, gently over low heat for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until it is soft. Stir in the milk and bring to boil.
Blend the pumpkin mixture in a food processor or blender until creamy and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
My first home-made pumpkin soup. I am participating Wendy's Garden to Table Challenge.
Another few days, it will be officially winter here. Do you think two of our pumpkins down here will make it until they are mature enough to harvest?

I don't like or hate pumpkin. I don't know much about cooking pumpkin. So I need some motivation and learn more about pumpkin. I know it is a very healthy and nutritious food. Any advice on pumpkin?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

First 2011 Pumpkin Harvest and Saturday Dinner

We had our first pumpkin harvest for this year yesterday. Hazel Dene had such a fantastic pumpkin harvest this year and so colourful too, very inspiring. Other vegetables that we managed to harvest on Saturday are Leeks, Lebanese eggplants, Lemon grasses, beans, corianders, snow peas, chilies, tomatoes, radish thinnings and 4 different variety of capsicum. The rain keep us indoors so I decided to cook and cook, gave me a chance to try many new recipes that I have been keeping in my favourites. Wendy's Garden to Table Challenge has also motivated me to fully appreciate our harvest and the way we used them in the kitchen.
The pumpkin that we harvested was growing vertically (photo taken in March) and in container. I almost forgot about that pumpkin because tomato foliage were covering it from view. I have to admit it is not easy to grow rambling pumpkin on a small limited space. We had to train the pumpkin veins so it won't annoyed other neighbouring plants. During rainy weeks or high humidity, have to make sure there is lot of space for air circulation so the plants are not succeptible to powdery mildew. I tried to grow bush pumpkin but birds keep on uprooting young seedlings that it was too late anymore to grow them.  In 2010, we only harvested one pumpkin. Hopefully this year will be a bit of improvement. Does anyone know the reason or how to avoid when your pumpkin is growing the size bigger than a tennis ball suddenly it become rotten and died? We have this problem every year.
Our main dishes with warm rice for Saturday night are P.F.Chang's Stir-Fried Spicy Eggplants from Joyce recipe and Cencalok Prawn from CikManggis kitchen recipe. Together with the Labanese Eggplants are beans and leeks used for P.F. Chang's Stir-Fries Spicy Eggplants. Joyce told me that snake bean is also good for this dish but I don't have any fresh snake bean in our garden substitute it with french bean.

This was the first time I tried making this exotic Cencalok (cincalok) prawn cuisine as we have a lot of home-grown chilies and lemon grass to use. This dish is an instant hit on the dinner table. My husband had 3rd helpings.
On Sunday morning, with the help of tomatoes, radish thinnings, capsicum, coriander, chili and leek , I made Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles) before we went off to the state museum for the kids.
No gardening this weekend due to heavy rain and strong wind.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Container Gardening (五月)

Nothing much going on at our garden containers section at the backyard. Not having the time to clear up some of the containers to grow cool season vegetables at the moment and organising the container layout. This is a new vegetables that we introduced in our garden this year parsnip and beetroots. We had our first taste of stir-fry beetroot thinnings this week and we like it.
Beetroots, dragon carrots interplanting with leek seedlings. Two containers need to be clear up which content end season bush bean and some spring grown leeks.

We are waiting for one angled luffa fruit to dry to collect the seeds. Last week we were surprised with several new female flowers of angled luffa form in this cold weather. Not sure whether it will actually grow, observing at the moment. Okra burgundy seems to tolerate cooler condition more than clemson spineless variety. Can that be our last okra burgundy pod? Leaf amaranth (chinese spinach) growing under burgundy okra plant. Lenay has nipped the shoot several times to prevent it from bolting for Rayyan's meal. Self-seeded nasturtium growing together in the same container with jicama (sengkuang). I wonder if we can possibly get some tuber from this jicama plants.

At this corner, potato, golden calwonder capsicum and red chard plant. In the background, lemon grass plants with rainbow chard seedling which is hard to see from this photo.

Yellow and purple bell capsicum taking such a long time to mature, it has been more than 2 months. We are growing flower bulbs for the first time this year and happy to see that ranunculus has sprouted some leaves. I think I spied some new shoot of jonquail or daffodils on one of the pot the other day. I felt relief that I managed to plant them properly.

Have a nice weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

So Long Snake Bean

In Australia, this bean is commonly known as snake bean. Why snake bean? I don't know either, I was shocked too when I was browing the seed catalogs. On other part of the world it is also known as yardlong bean, Chinese long bean or asparagus bean. In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is commonly call "kacang panjang" which literally translate as long bean (kacang~ bean, panjang~ long). It is a very common and cheap vegetables that you usually see them sell in bundles tightly held together with rubber band in the market. I wonder how much does a bundle of kacang panjang cost in Malaysia pasar/wet market nowadays? A lot of patience is required to grow kacang panjang. It takes a long season to grow before it produce it first bean, maybe at least more than 12~16weeks. However the harvesting season is pretty long compare with other bean and very prolific. In the tropics, this climbing plant can grow more than 5 metre long.
Our snake bean season is already over as the day and night temperature is too cold for them to produce normal looking bean and the bloom won't open as well. This is how our last snake bean look like. Instead of light green bean, the bean have red browinsh tinge on it, although it does not effect how it taste like.
Snake bean mauve bloom is always my favourite.
Some of our snake bean were growing at the most back of this veggie patch.  We did not made a proper trellis for the snake bean let it  climb all over sweet corn and tomato plants. When the plants need more space to grow, we haphazardly tied some string for it to crawl all over the patch. One thing interesting about snake bean to note is that the pods hang in pairs as shown in the photo.

Snake bean growing all over this patch.

Snake bean is also nice to cook with ommelete. It is one of the easiest dish in Malaysia for mothers to cook for their kids on a very busy day. Shaz author of this fabalous blog ~ Test With Skewar has bean omellete recipe. You can use other bean variety as well to cook this dish. CikManggis also has a recipe for bean omellete in her kitchen.
I did not collect any snake bean seeds this year, planned but I was greedy. Anyway we still have some left-over seeds. Our most favourite bean. Usually in Adelaide, snake bean season is over in May. We managed to freeze just a little, it will be next year if all goes well to harvest snake bean again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hoping you make it...

It is middle of autumn now and the weather is getting colder and colder each week. The warm season vegetable is almost end of their season now. It is time to clear them up and make way for new plants that tolerates cooler condition much better. However, we are still getting a few surprises in the garden.This is lebanese eggplant that I have treated as perennial going through its second autumn. I thought it was time to say farewell to this plant earlier this month but it surprise us with blooms that actually develop some eggplants. Some eggplants for the kitchen perhaps next week. Not sure whether the new bloom will drop or give fruit now this week. I did got a question how did my eggplants survive through winter ~  This plant was growing in pot during its first summer and was moved against the brick wall which received a lot of sun during winter. I transplanted this plant on the veggie patch next spring and it grow much taller and bear more fruit in its second year. I think this eggplant was really annoyed with me because it was grown in medium size pot in the first year, a bit to small and crowded for the roots.
Capsicum, another perennial in front of the kitchen window probably will have less sun now as it is getting shady this area as winter comes near. It has been more than 2 months to wait for it to turn red, although you see it red from the front, the back are still green. Since it is growing on the patch instead of pot, I cannot alternate turn the plant to face the sun like the ones growing in container.

Mammoth sunflower has develop bud. Will the sunflower show its face in this cold weather?

Ilhan's sweet corn sowed in March has already shown its male and female organ for pollination to occur. Hopefully there will be more sweet corn on the kitchen table and some to freeze.
Waiting for these chilies to mature. This is a new plant sowed from home-saved seeds. I don't know what the variety is because it was chosen for its taste and nice smell. Under chili plants are lettuce seedlings.
This plant does not look good since it has experience a couple of 40+degree Celcius during summer and was very stressed with lack of water growing on sandy-loam soil. But it does give some long sweet capsicum to harvest. Some of the capsicum does look rather odd but food is food, cosmetic is a different matter. I think I am going to let this plant grow through winter if it survived we might have early capsicum to harvest come next warm season. So I planted 4 sprouting broccoli seedlings around this plant to protect it or blanket it from chilling wind in winter, creating a micro-climate for this capsicum plant.
Hope the weather behaves this month and prolong summer vegetable plants production for the kitchen table. Actually I feel rather guilty because I know some other temperate region or closest to us in Adelaide Hills already experience their first frost. While we near the city and coast still has summer vegetables to enjoy. Next month is another story.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May Seeds

A memo of what seeds that I am expecting to collect this month or that has been collected but are sitting on the kitchen table until I find time to sort it out. I reckon it will be on the kitchen table until winter when nothing much to do in the garden and continuous rainy day. Most of my containers are now empty or with new seedlings or waiting for some plants to finish it life-cycle. All of our leaf amaranth (chinese spinach) are producing seeds scattered in different containers and location. I like the flowers so I let them bolt. I spied seeds in this red plume flowers of leaf amaranth.
End of season for zinnia (lilliput) in our garden and I just left them to dry like that and will pull the whole plant to let it dry properly under the shed before collecting the seeds. I am using an excuse of collecting it seeds when actually I was too lazy to prune the plant.

Calendula (sunshine), Bush Bean (Redland Pioneer), Pattypan Squash (yellow ruffle), Bitter Gourd and Okra (Clemson Spineless) seeds, can you guess which is which? I found this dried bean on the ground completely forgotten that I left it to dry on the plant. One okra pod will give you at least 20seeds, for a small garden like ours will be sufficient for next summer.

These choy sums growing under burgundy okra plants keep on producing flowers and seed pods since last year. I just cut the stem that has dried seed pod and it continuously keep on producing new stem to produce more flowers. Fresh choy sum seeds for us and we still have one unopened seed packet of choy sum bought last year.
Chinese Broccoli or kailan are also giving us some fresh seeds at the moment. This autumn we used fresh home-saved seeds of kailan and germination was so good. We left kailan sharing the same container with sweet potatoes and it kept flowering. No need to worry about space.

We have problems with capsicum and chili seeds last spring. I bought a packet of Golden Calwonder seeds and it seems only one seeds gave me one fruit. This is a $4 capsicum. I have been waiting for the fruit to mature more than 2 months. I am making sure that it ripen nicely so I can collect seeds from it later. It is the biggest capsicum now in our garden. The plant must have given all its energy to produce this one fruit although the nights are cold. More than 2 months green to yellow.
Some of the plant seeds we are collecting will be too much for us, excess seeds. We will share some of our home-saved seeds maybe next month for the next seed give-away.
What seeds are you collecting this month?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Veggies for kitchen 1st half May

Bean...bean...bean...chili...chili...chili...daikon...daikon...daikon thinnings, da cheong chae and yellow tomatoes are the main harvest for the first half of May. Yellow tomatoes plant were looking sad in end summer but now it is lush again with many fruits on it. The cooler weather makes it longer for the green ones to turn yellow though. Yellow cherry tomato seems to be more hardy in our veggie patch. Mrs Bok asked me does sweet potatoes grow well in clay soil? We only got one small tubers from each plant of sweet potatoes that were growing in clay soil about 5 months. Total harvest was less than what we got from growing a plant of sweet potatoes in container which we harvested last month. Sweet potatoes not suitable to grow in clay soil in temperate region where we don't have warm weather all year round like in the tropics. Sweet potato roots did go deeper into the soil but perhaps it will take longer to form bigger tubers.
I was tidying up some container last week and harvested most of the carrots that were growing with melon plants sowed in early January. This is New Red Kuroda carrot variety, I should have let them grow more but well Rayyan not happy on having daikon thinnings for a week everyday. He missed carrots.

Harvested the last kangkung and bonito eggplants from our veggie patch last week. I am going to miss fried kangkung with chili and shrimp paste. It will be another 5 months I reckon we have another kangkung (water spinach) in our kitchen.
There are so many farewell in the garden this month.Last cucumber and snake beans were harvested last week for this year. However, there were also many exciting and new things comin in our kitchen this week, the first snow peas of year 2011 and full kernal of fresh sweet corns! My other-half said I never had success growing sweet corns in Adelaide that look almost perfect. Our sweet corn usually have so many gaps that you can count how many kernals is on the cob. This time I don't even help with pollination and mulched because I always feel dissapointed with the result. Now, I feel more motivated to grow sweet corn. Sweet corn is a heavy feeder and drinker. Feeding them with enough compost and manure is not a problem but water is something we can't give that much. Summer evoparation is so high here which is the time when sweet corn starts to produce after sowing them in spring. I think it is best to sow sweet corn end of February and early March because we have more water in autumn when they are producing cobs.
Not much time and creative in the kitchen this week as I was busy in school and Ilhan and Lenay were sick for days. Vegetables were fresh but instant pasta sauce were famous in our kitchen last week. Here is all the ingredient ready to be cook with instant carbonara pasta sauce.
Did not have much appetite on the weekend, so exhausted after a hectic week being a mother, student and temporary nurse. So I made my own appertiser to eat with Nasi Goreng Tuna (Fried Rice Tuna) ~ Sambal belacan. The photo look like cherry tomato mud bath because I got overboard with belacan (shrimp paste). In the mortar, put in shallot/red onion, shrimp paste, garlic and chillies and grind. Add a bit of sugar, salt and squeeze in some lemon juice. Mix well. You can add in dice tomato and coriander if you like. Since we have many yellow cherry tomatoes, I add these tomatoes in this sambal belacan. Hazel asked how we used okra, sometime we blanched okras and dip in sambal belacan as well (Cat-from-Sydney reminded me). Wendy is hosting Garden To Table Challenge.
See what other garden around the world is harvesting at the moment visit Harvest Monday with our fantastic host Daphne.