Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Home Grown

When we first bought this house one of the first things I said I wanted was a raised veggie garden. I still don't have my proper garden but I have started planted veggies anyway!

The gardening in our house goes something like this:

I buy the plants and tell Aaron where I want them in the garden.

Aaron plants them.

I water the plants and do the weeding.

Once something grows or blooms Aaron takes the credit because he 'planted' it!

I'm still hoping to get my raised garden because I'd love to plant a bigger variety of vegetables - I obviously haven't nagged him enough yet but I'm working on it. So far we've harvested home grown broad beans, tomatoes, limes, strawberries, corn and the capsicum are almost fully grown!  We did plant pumpkin but the snails ate all the seedlings before they had a chance to grow. We also use a lot of home grown herbs (which I actually did plant myself) like thyme, chives, parsley, basil, rosemary and mint and it's really handy being able to snip off some fresh herbs when you're cooking.

Seeing as we don't spray or even use snail bait - in case Sandy eats it by mistake - I think we're doing really well.

All I need to do now is work out what to plant next!

 broad beans

Roma tomatoes

grosse lisse tomatoes


They really do taste yummy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Counting Our Blessings

Aaron and I are feeling a little blue today as we've had a rough couple of days.

Before Christmas we found out that I was expecting our second child, due in August on my birthday. It took a few days to sink in as we weren't expecting it to happen so quickly, especially as Annabelle would have turned one just after the new baby was born.

Although most people normally wait until the end of the first trimester before telling anyone about a pregnancy Aaron was so excited he told his Dad and brothers (without me knowing). Suddenly I started receiving emails from his extended family congratulating me - so he then confessed he had let 'just a few people' know the news.

Seeing as my parents live in the same suburb as Aaron's father I decided I'd have to tell them our news in case they heard it from someone else, which wouldn't have gone down very well!

Things had been progressing well, the morning sickness was bearable - and mostly in the evening when it didn't matter so much, and my obstetrician had shown me the foetal heartbeat via ultrasound when I was 6 weeks pregnant. Our next step was the 12 weeks scan and the end of the first trimester - just 3 short weeks away.

I woke up early Friday morning, around 3am, with a strange feeling in my tummy - not pain or cramps just an odd feeling - so I went to the medical centre later that morning.

My usual Doctor wasn't there that day but the receptionist wanted me to see someone straight away so she booked me in to see someone else - Doctor Obiwanor. As a Star wars fan I was amused by his name and wondered if anyone ever called him Obi Wan Kenobi, that is until I saw him and realised he was more Darth Vader than Obi Wan Kenobi!

Doctor Obi Wan was really good and spent a lot of time getting background information before sending me off for an urgent ultrasound, which is when I got the bad news that the baby had not survived beyond the six week mark. Blood tests were ordered and I was meant to be returning to the Doctors on Saturday to get the report from the ultrasound, the blood test results and to find out what the next step would be.

Early that evening I went to watch some friends at roller Derby training, which was great fun and I'm looking forward to watching them in competition. As we were leaving I realised there was a problem... no need for details but my friend Kelly (still in her training gear, minus the skates of course) drove me to the emergency department of our local hospital.

When I realised the nurse and the Doctor looking after me were both men I thought I was having more bad luck but they were both brilliant, particularly the nurse, and they really did their best to treat me as quickly as they could while remaining sympathetic to the situation I was in.

By 1am I was back home with Aaron and Annabelle, which is when it really sunk in that we'd lost the baby.

Yesterday morning I had a follow up appointment at the hospital and another ultrasound, which showed there is no need for any follow up procedures - thank goodness!

Initially I was a bit upset at Aaron for telling people about the baby prior to the end of the first trimester - because now we have to tell everyone we've lost it - but he says that even if no one knew about the baby he would have told them after I'd been to hospital anyway. Fair point I guess....

For the time being we're focussing on the good things we have in our life, especially Annabelle, and we'll probably reassess things in a few months.

Annabelle loves her musical play gym

Friday, January 8, 2010

Christmas Treats

I had forgotten that I was going to post some of the Christmas recipes that I used this year until I had an email asking where they were! Having a four month old means I don't have the free time I used to, but I get around to things eventually!

White Chocolate & Cranberry Pudding
375g white chocolate melts
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
275g jar whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup milk
3 x 170g packets dried cranberries (craisins)

1. Brush a 6-cup pudding basin with melted butter, refrigerate for 5 minutes, then rebrush with more butter. Line base of basin with baking paper. Put half the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and position over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside. Coarsely chop remaining chocolate.

2. Using an electric mixer beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate. Add cranberry sauce and stir until combined. Sift flours over mixture, add milk, dried cranberries and well chopped chocolate. Stir until well combined. Spoon mixture into prepared basin and smooth top with the back of a wet spoon.

3. Cut a round of baking paper to cover top of pudding and lay it over mixture. Cut a large sheet of baking paper and a large sheet of foil. Lay foil on top of paper and makea pleat in the centre. Put paper ide down on top of pudding, then tie around rim of basin with string to secure. Make a strong loop that runs from one side of the basin to the other, to help ease basin in and out of pan.

4. Put a trivet or upturned saucer in a large heavy based pan and stand basin on top. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up side of basin. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid, bring to the boil and cook for 3-31/2 hours, replenishing with boiling water as pudding cooks. Remove pudding and stand for 30 minutes before turning out, or leave to coll completely before storing.

I served the pudding with brandy custard and it was a lovely alternative to plum pudding.

Mixed Pea & Bean Salad
3 cups fresh peas
300g sugar snap peas, halved
200g butter beans, trimmed
50g packet broad beans, defrosted & peeled
4 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
250g feta, crumbled
1 cup mint leaves

1. Cook peas, sugar snap peas and butter beans in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Add broad beans and cook for a further 1 minute or until bright green and tender crisp. Refresh under cold running water. Drain well.

2. Combine shallots, lemon juice and oil in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over pea mixture; gently toss.

3. Add the feta and mint and gently toss to combine. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve immediately.

I made this to accompany the prawns and ham that we had on Christmas day and it was a lovely summer salad that wasn't too heavy. The recipe serves 12 so I reduced the quantity by half, except for the dressing, as I knew we wouldn't need that much.

I may post a few more later on - depending on whether I have the time!