As the sun sets on a wonderfully wet Spring, we don't even look like winding down for the Christmas season. Warren has been rained in here at Ballandean so we've been busy working in the garden, making soap, attending to the needs of our cattle, re-housing our chooks and cooking up good things with the bountiful fruit and veges that are in season here on the Granite Belt.
One evening I looked out our kitchen window and saw the walls of our shed cast with a brilliant golden pink glow. We all rushed out and enjoyed a stunning sunset over Sundown National Park.
As with most things, Warren and I work as a team in our soaping adventures. I've really come to rely on him when making soap and he's so experienced now that we can make decisions together to achieve what we're aiming for. This is our very popular Vanilla, Patchouli and Sandalwood. Most times you don't get to see the full effect of our swirling, as each bar only captures a part of the whole. This is what it looks like when we're finished playing with a chopstick on the top. Vanilla, Patchouli and Sandalwood is a fantastic combination and has proven to be a favourite for both men and women.
We've had our first successful garlic harvest this year. Last year our 'crop' was pretty disappointing. I think all the natural rainfall really made a huge difference this time. We've also built up our soil with compost, hay and manure quite a bit over the year. Whatever it was, we're really delighted to be able to throw two whole heads into the roasting pan with our organic lamb from Andrew and Helen Ferrier at Mallow Organic Lamb. The girls love squeezing the sweet garlic onto their plate to eat with their lamb and veges.
Caught without our usual sour cream accompaniment, I made a dressing with crushed raw garlic, mint, lemon and greek yoghurt. Given the positive feedback I think we'll be repeating that recipe.
The girls learned to plait their garlic at their school Garden Club.
Today some of the carrots were dug up, topped and washed ready for eating. I cut up a large carrot with purple skin and orange flesh for the girls to munch on at afternoon tea time. I'll look up my latest edition of Organic Gardening tonight to see what I can plant next in the available space.
Last year I made Apricot Butter using local fruit from Golden Grove Estate Winery. The recipe basically suggested that if I cooked the jam-like mixture for an additional 15 minutes after it reached gel stage I could set it and cut it into wedges or squares to serve on a cheese or antipasto platter. The recipe worked perfectly. I froze the Apricot Butter in portions and Warren is still enjoying the result of our efforts. I have to admit, though, that not all things go to plan around here and we haven't managed to replicate last years success. We waited to get to a gelling stage but it just wasn't happening. In the meantime our beautiful fruit was getting darker. Taste testers have kindly told us our product would be nice in a casserole. Not to be deterred I'll be hunting around for some more apricots in the next few days as I hope to surprise Warren with a successful batch. We can't let a little setback beat us, can we?