Foggy morning on the farm

Bit foggy here on the farm this morning, a very pretty sight.IMG_0845IMG_0851

It’s been a very busy couple of weeks one way and another. I’ve been up to the north of the state for book signings in Launceston and Burnie, then home again for an especially busy spell. Just coming back down to some sort of sanity again now.

Truffles the kitten has not been perturbed by all the activity as you can see.

IMG_0843 And finally Tom and Rosie have sorted out how to share the old bean bag. It’s taken several months, a really good barney or two and a very cold morning, but they seem to be at peace with it, at least for now. Rosie hates to be cold and so has stood her ground on this one – Tom got quite a shock as she is usually the gentlest of creatures.

IMG_0847In and amongst everything else, I’ve been able to make jam with the last of the maiden fruit raspberries from Westerway Raspberry Farm. I also trialled a pinot grape Worcestershire sauce, which has a really interesting flavour.

In my absence, Robert has picked what seems to be a ton of green tomatoes, and the woodshed is lined with tomato bushes in late fruit, hanging upside down, slowly ripening. Looks like there’s a bit more chutney and relish to be made yet then.

IMG_0855IMG_0850And so today it’s back to work proper, time to get to the jam pans once more. Perfect day for it I think.

Remember Terry?

Remember Terry the rooster? He is becoming a real companion. He loves to be with Robert in the garden – likes to chat to him man to man, follows him everywhere.

This morning is just such an example – as Robert picks the last of the tomatoes and pumpkins before any more frosts strike, Terry is there to keep him company.


He has even worked out that it’s a good lurk to sit at the door of the cooking school.  Della always sits there patiently waiting for any stray morsel of food that might come her way.  Last week Terry joined her.  Strange menagerie this.

Rhubarb sauces

Seems that lots of people have an abundance of rhubarb and would like the recipes for the sauces I made yesterday, so here they are.

Spiced Rhubarb Sauce

1.5kg rhubarb (weight with leaves and ends of stalks removed)
750g sugar
3 cups white or cider vinegar
250g onions, diced
2 teaspoons grated green ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Cut the rhubarb stalks into 1cn pieces and add with the rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil, stirring, and then cook over medium-low heat for one hours, then process till smooth with a stick blender or in a food processor (in the case of the latter, let the sauce cool for a few minutes first).
Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes more until until a sauce-like consistency is reached. (You can check for this by placing a spoonful on a plate – if, after a few minutes, no vinegary liquid forms a puddle around it, the sauce is ready, or very close to it)
Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately.

Rhubarb Chilli Sauce

250g long red chilies, stalk ends removed
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1½ tablespoons chopped green ginger
4¼ cups white vinegar
4¾ cups sugar
2 teaspoons salt
500g rhubarb (leaves and base of stalks removed)
3 teaspoons cornflour mixed to a paste with 1½ tablespoons extra vinegar
Cut each chili into 3 pieces and place in food processor with the garlic and ginger. Process until finely chopped.
Place in a large saucepan with the 4¼ cups vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring.
Cut the rhubarb stalks into 6mm slices and add to the saucepan. Return to the boil and then cook for 25 minutes over medium heat.
Stir in the cornflour paste, cook for two minutes more, then pour into warm sterilised bottles and seal immediately.

So much rhubarb!

Anyone else have a ton of rhubarb in their garden that needs using? I decided today to trial two rhubarb sauces. Rhubarb chilli sauce? Yes, that worked and I will try this with salmon for dinner this evening. The colour was boosted a little in some of the mixture with a pinch of beetroot powder; purely for aesthetic reasons, not really necessary.

The other sauce is more traditional old fashioned flavours; it’s yet to be determined if that’s ok.

There’s raspberry and rhubarb jam of course, maybe tomorrow. I am in such a dickens of a mess (as the photo clearly shows) that I don’t think I want to add to it today by making jam as well.IMG_2289IMG_2290

Recipes for those with food intolerances and allergies

I’ve recently commenced writing for a website that features recipes for those with allergies and food intolerances. The website is called Health for Life Kitchen. My first blog on the site contains a recipe for gluten free bread with many variations. Here is the link:

Family Favourites and Super Food Ideas

I guess that everyone knows by now that I have a new book out this month, “Family Favourites”. It’s based on my old red hand-written recipe book, the one that I’ve used for decades to feed a growing family. There were predecessors of course, recipes that were invented even earlier, but those were transcribed into this more sturdy version. I know it looks bedraggled now, but it’s still holding together remarkably well.

IMG_2289“Family Favourites” contains the best of these time-tested recipes. I still go back to it to this day, and love the fact that the pages show where our six children wrote down a recipe for me, the splodges of various ingredients of the day, and little children’s doodlings as they sat and chatted and watched me cook.

Super Food Ideas May issue, available now, has 4 pages of recipes from the book – Pot Roast of Beef, Chicken a la King, Cream of Tomato Soup, Green Eggs and Ham Pie and Lemon Mousse Cake. All the recipes have pictures to match …



Family Favourites is available at ABC shops and, as they say, all good bookstores.  It is available online too of course.

A Touch of Frost

Yes, there’s been a touch of frost here in the valley this morning. It’s so cold that even the dog’s water bowl froze over (Robert punched a hole in it to prove the point). It still is frozen for that matter.

I’d love to still be a child sometimes.  I used to truly believe that a little, good-natured elfin man had visited in the early hours of a frosty morning, dusting the landscape with a paintbrush of powdered ice.  However, even though the romance of this notion is gone, the beauty of the scenery touched by frost is undeniable.


Truffles the kitten, who did not enjoy the ice on her paws at her first experience of such cold, at least found a lovely sunny spot to catch a nap while she waits for things to warm up outside.  She’ll continue her snooze in the rhubarb patch no doubt before too much longer.


Old beagle Della was none too impressed with the chill of the morning, doesn’t do too much for her arthritis, but she was much happier after a breakfast of warm egg nog laced with dog biscuits.

And now it’s turning out to be a perfect autumn day. Time to do some baking then ….. it will be lovely and warm in the cooking school, especially if I light the old slow combustion stove, Carmichael.  Seems like just the day for it.

What manner of quince?

This morning we went, for the first time in ages, to Hobart Farmers Market. We’ve been so busy with the farm and cooking school that we’d just not had the time. It’s grown a great deal and changed location since we last went along. Lots of lovely produce and baked goods.

This product I particularly wanted to try -7 hour slow roasted quinces, delicious. I could use them on a tart or on top of a cake, but I think they would marry well to the pork roast we will have for dinner this evening.

I’ve poured a little of the (delicious) liquid into the baking dish with the pork, onion, celery and carrot. I plan for this to caramelise a little and thus make a delicious jus. I will lightly sauté some of the quince portions to serve with the pork. Apple sauce is great as an accompaniment, but I think this will be even better.

Last of the Potato Crop

Meanwhile, Robert has decided to dig up the last of the potatoes before the frosts strike hard. On such occasions he is never without the help of his farmyard companions.
Mother chicken, still very attentive to her brood, brings the chicks over to snap up any worms and tasty bugs that might be turned to the surface.

IMG_2263Truffles the kitten is never far away causing mischief with the chickens or, as today, chatting with the sheep as they look on as Robert digs away.


Tom leaves his bean bag in the house to see what’s happening and for a roll in the warm soil in the sunshine.

IMG_2267This year we planted oka (or is it ochre, ocha?). If I don’t know how to spell it, I can still tell you that they are delicious little morsels that grow like potatoes underground. An excellent accompaniment to a roast, such as we are having this evening, I particularly like to briefly sauté them in butter and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley.


One Day Each April

I’ve noticed since we’ve lived in the Derwent Valley these last two years that there’s one day in April when all the poplar leaves fall – it’s almost a synchronised phenomenon. Last year I promised myself I would capture photos of the brilliant yellowing of the leaves, but in one single night, almost every leaf fell to the ground. I’d missed the opportunity.

So this week I was taking no chances and two days ago took photos of the poplars in their prime, and again this morning as the leaves are just beginning to fall.

What a spectacular sight as you can see for yourself from these pictures, all of which were taken within the space of a couple of kilometres along Molesworth Road.