Beetroot & Carrot Salad

It seems ages since I posted a recipe (probably because it is ages since I posted a recipe).  It’s the time it takes -to make it, and photograph it.  It also takes concentration, I have to write down how much I’m adding of what, record it nicely and then type it all up in a nice format.  Basically it’s a bit of work. But I love this salad so much it’s worth it, and the recipe is very forgiving so if my quantities are a bit out it wont affect the end result too much.

This salad is pretty much a tribute to my laziness.  I often have beetroot, my father grows it and it always looks pretty at the Farmer’s Market so I often buy it.  I also grow it regularly, nestling in between other bigger, slower growing crops.  But I never seem to be organised enough to bother to cook it.  So in this salad I don’t, I use it raw and I think it tastes all the better for it – not to mention adding a lovely texture to the salad.

Beetroot & Carrot salad

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  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium sized beetroot
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 red onion (or substitute a couple of spring onions)
  • 1 cup grains (I have made this with everything from Farro to Quinoa and lentils but my favourite is Black Rice)
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt
  • 1 to 3 tblspns olive oil (less/more to taste)
  • Topping – You could add feta, any types of seeds or nuts would work, any thing to add a little more texture and protein.

Cook which ever grain you are using via your prefer method.  Cool.  Peel and grate the carrot & beetroot.  Finely chop the mint, parsley, and red onion.  Mix together.

Make the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, 2 tblspn of oil, and salt.  Taste and adjust by adding more juice, oil, salt or ever a little sugar depending on the acidity of the lemons.

Dress the salad and add the toppings and the salad is ready to eat.

 

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Netting the Blueberries

allsorts 001 (800x530)I have actually managed to get myself organised this year.  I may not have planted out enough summer crops.  I may have forgotten to apply copper spray to my nectarine before it got leaf curl.  I may have completely failed to keep citrus gall wasp away from my kaffir lime.  But at least I’ve netted the blueberries before the berries got big, blue and ever so attractive to the annoy Myna birds that seem to be everywhere at the moment.

For the last two years (yes I’m a slow learner) I’ve had a lovely crop of berries vanish all of a sudden just before they were ripe enough to pick.  Well, hopefully this year will be different.  The berries haven’t turned blue yet but they have swollen up nicely so it shouldn’t be too much longer.

Hopefully the birds don’t see them through the netting.  This lot has my name on it.

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Fruit Developing

I went up to my Mum and Dad’s on Sunday.  They live north of Melbourne, about 60km from Coburg in a place which is, on average, about 4 degrees cooler.  In fact if I check the temperature gauge in my car just before I set out I can almost always predict what temperature it will be when I get there.  This 4 degrees can be a bad thing – winters there are pretty chilly.  But it can also be a good thing – their parsley has yet to bolt whereas mine has been sending up flower stalks for weeks.

Bullengarook15112015 024 (530x800)What it also means is that a lot of the fruit tends to be a bit behind Melbourne’s, but looking at their trees they have a lot coming on. Cherries tend to do well in that part of the world and their 3 year old tree has some beautiful bunches developing.  The figs are also developing nicely and actually look to be further along than mine.

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But it’s the stone fruit – the apricots, nectarines, plums and peaches that I am most jealous of.

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Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the space to grow all these?

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Curry Leaf Trees in Winter

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I had friends over for dinner last night.  It was a last minute thing so fortunately they weren’t expecting much.  I burnt the beans and cauliflower, only just cooked the chicken and the sauce for the fish tasted bitter.  Not exactly ideal……

The first things were carelessness but I’m wondering if the last was the curry leaves in the curry sauce I made for the fish.

In Melbourne curry leaf trees look particularly sad at this time of year.  Being a tropical climate plant they simply don’t like Melbourne’s colder months and do everything they can to remind people of that.  Their leaves turn yellow and in the coldest climates fall off.

I’m wondering if they also turn bitter.

Of course the bitterness may have just as easily been the old (and starting to sprout) garlic or over cooked black mustard seeds so I probably shouldn’t really blame my poor sad curry tree.  Instead I should be doing my best to protect in and nurture it through to Spring when those beautifully fragrant leaves that should reappear sometime between September and November.

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Mulching for winter

2015-05-31 09.50.34 (848x1280)I had a chance to get out in the garden last weekend, and a fine time to garden it was too.  Saturday and Sunday morning were comparatively warm and sunny, and rain was forecast for Sunday afternoon and evening.

A perfect time to mulch.

I started by planting out a few more seedlings to add to the silver beet, lettuces and broccoli I’d planted about a month ago and the celery I started in summer.  The silver beet and lettuce’s growth rates have been excellent, the broccoli’s slowed considerably by chook attack (those birds are really starting to annoy me….. Who knew they liked broccoli leaves even more than silver beet?)

Once the seedlings were in and the sun had warmed the ground a little I started spreading mulch.

I mulch in winter for 3 reasons:

  1. To add organic matter to the soil.  Broken down mulch can improve soil structure and as a mine tends towards clay I find the texture mulch gives it really beneficial.
  2. To retain warmth.  This can be a little fraught as if you mulch at the wrong time in winter you can end up retaining cold rather than warmth.  As a result I try and mulch on a nice warm sunny day preferably after a comparatively mild night.  Night time temperatures often significantly impact on soil temperature and so this can be more important than day time temperatures.  I probably should have mulched a month or so ago but at least I managed to get round to it in Autumn (albeit on it’s last day).
  3. To retain moisture.  In theory we get most of our rain in winter in Melbourne.  In practice it is often dry and the shorter daylight hours mean that I frequently leave for work in the dark and arrive home in the dark leaving little time for comfortable watering.

This time I used sugar cane mulch.  As much as I like pea straw, and the little volunteer plants it produces, I find sugar cane mulch easier to spread.  As a result I use it quite a bit particularly when I am mulching around seedlings which can get swamped in the never ending strands of pea straw.

Rain did arrive on Sunday afternoon bedding my mulch down nicely, now I just hope the various birds that inhabit may garden leave it alone.

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