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    Gold Coast, Australia

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  1. Wow, my orange tree is only a few weeks from looking exactly the same. We’ve had lots of mandarins from tree 1, and tree 2 is ripening now. Also had big drought of course. One theory is the trees all thought they’d die in the prolonged drought, so were desperate to reproduce. I reckon that’s how we got 90 odd mangos from a smallish tree.
  2. Are your kumquats fruiting now ? Is my tree out of whack, or yours ?
  3. We’re having a seedling and seed shortage here, probably due to panic buying by non gardeners. Heard someone walked out of a nursery with broccoli seedlings saying “yay, broccoli in 2 weeks” yeah right. The Tibouchina is flowering, a beautiful colour. Shame about the bare patch, a product of the recent drought, it will be pruned back heavily soon. We’re harvesting lots of mizuna for leafy green dishes. We’ve also got lettuce (cos and butter) sufficient for current needs, a large butternut squash patch, jap pumpkin, sweet potato and regular potatoes. These first little guys are destined to be steamed and slathered in butter. I will do this while husband is in his shed, there’s not enough to share, lol. We have also picked okra and two types of green beans. This is a huegelkulture bed, I think we’ll plant cauliflower and broccoli (if we can get seeds somehow). Behind it the kumquat tree is full of fruit, they are slowly ripening. The brandy is waiting. A weird one - this is wild tobacco, should be pulled as it’s a weed. However, it’s also said to be a great substitute for toilet paper...keeping this one in the ground.
  4. Here’s a garden update ! The veggie bed is going great after a weed and a feed, plus my handyman has installed a door to make it easier to get in and out. A neighbour gave us a mature bunya pine cone. They’re easy to pull apart to remove the seeds. Apparently, the easiest way to prepare them is to boil for a couple hours. Said to taste like chestnuts....there will be a stir fry in the future. Gratuitous mango shot here. I’ve made pickle, chutney and this lot are destined for the freezer. These are just the ones that have fallen off the tree. I’m giving them away as fast as I can, typically though, nearly everyone I know also has a tree. This was yesterday’s pick up, there’s another eleven on the back deck from this morning Happy days in paradise.
  5. @heidihwe’ve become mad seed savers. I have tomato seeds, butternut pumpkin, corn, apricots and various other little dishes of seeds scattered around drying. The passion fruit might not need an understory, we want to take advantage of the enclosure and improved soil. Trying to make every square inch count !
  6. Pretty sure your comment is tongue in cheek, but seriously, imagine trying to skin a flying fox or possum. Err, I’ll have the lentils thanks.
  7. Hard to see in the photo, but we have strung wire between the stakes for them to grow along. Good idea about salad dressing !
  8. It was 2 years ago when we talked about retiring to the countryside in an effort to become as self sustainable as possible. We bought the property around 12 months ago, and finally moved permanently 6 weeks ago. The abundant fruit trees, raised veggie beds, a chicken run, frog pond and spring fed water supply were all factors that made this property attractive to us. One of the first improvements we made was to install a 25,000 litre rain water tank. Australia is currently experiencing a drought, and although we are in a high rainfall area, rain over the past 12 months has been less than average and brown is the predominant colour in the landscape. Here’s the mango tree, I reckon there’s about 40 mangoes and they should ripen in a few weeks. The netting is to prevent the critters from getting the fruit before we do. Lots of mango chutney coming up! These mandarins are sweet and juicy little things. We’re not big jam eaters, so any ideas for alternative uses would be awesome. In the foreground are a tamarind grown from seed which will go in the ground soon, and a curry leaf tree which will stay in a pot. These are two golden passion fruit, received as a housewarming gift and planted last February. We’ll plant an understory in here soon, any suggestions ? All the garden beds and the chook run were completely overrun by weeds. Gradually, (when it’s cool enough) we’ve been weeding, improving the soil and planting seeds. This bed has okra, eggplant, unpronounceable Chinese vegetable, gross lisse tomatoes, Madagascar beans, radish, lettuce, cucumber, beetroot and kale. We also have both white and black mulberry trees, two different orange trees, a lemon, a lime, a kaffir lime, a cumquat, a peach, a jaboticaba, an avocado, an olive tree, two papaya, a lemon myrtle (Australian native), a pomegranate and several bananas. We moved with many large pots brought from our previous city home, a tamarind, a native tamarind, a Davidson’s plum (another native), two curry leafs, two bay trees, a lime, a Meyer lemon and six pineapple (one of which has a nearly ripe fruit). Then there’s the bunya pine (small hand for scale). These cones can weigh up to 10 kilos and seriously hurt if you’re unlucky enough to have one fall on you. This is bush tucker food, the nuts are roasted and ground to make flour for bread. Guarantee there’s other uses I don’t know about yet. I’ve never been much of a gardener but I’m learning !
  9. Wow, thanks for this @KennethT. We have only been to NZ once despite the fact it’s only a 3 hour flight away for us. The lower part of the South Island is on the cards for us sometime in the future. Your photos are wonderful. Oh, and a good sausage roll is a thing of beauty. I used to get ones made with grated carrots and minced pork, highly seasoned and with flaky pastry, yum. They are never great when cold @Okanagancookthanks for your additional beautiful photos.
  10. sartoric

    Tasting Japan

    Our last day in Japan is a long transit one. We take a bus to Osaka airport, to fly to Narita, where, with several hours to spare we grab a train to Narita town, then return for a quick bite and last minute shopping before our 8 hour overnight flight home. There was still food to tick off the list... At Kyoto airport a sushi train where you ordered via iPad on your table, or took a plate off the conveyor. Finally some eel and okay we’d had lots of sashimi, more the better. In a little local bar in Narita town there was Japanese curry on the menu. OMG, we hadn’t had one of those ! Fixed. Typical really, this last quick bite at Narita airport was the worst meal of the trip. A bit of tempura and udon noodle soup. Lucky I had snacks for the flight. That’s a wrap for Japan ! Such an amazing country, cool people, fantastic food, interesting architecture and culture. I’m sure we’ll return.
  11. sartoric

    Tasting Japan

    Kyoto station is incredible. Apart from the efficient trains, there’s an eleven level mall attached selling anything you could want to buy, countless eateries, a train museum and brilliant people watching. We found Ramen Street (floor 10 I think) where you pay for your selection of dishes at a vending machine outside the restaurant. They’re very easy to use, have an English option and someone available to help if needed. This particular ramen restaurant uses a recipe from the northern part of Japan with a cold climate. Fascinating to read and follow the printed instructions. Mark had pork, mine was vegetarian. The instructions. Interior, small but carefully crafted. A small basket is provided under the table for your handbag, shopping, camera etc. Looking down towards the banks of escalators which descend in a straight line to ground level. While travelling down and looking up - the roof. Kyoto is a fascinating city. We didn’t need these potsticker dumplings, but they were there !
  12. sartoric

    Tasting Japan

    So the lovely people at EG posted my Tasting Sri Lanka report on Facebook today. That prompted me to revisit it, and realise that these food reports are a great way to relive my trip. Never did finish Japan....so here goes. This isikaya was literally on the corner of our hotels street, less than 20 meters away. Grilled on a hibachi - quail eggs, shiitake mushrooms with daikon, roasted garlic and some fried chicken. We stayed in Kyoto for 5 nights, it was good to get to know our hood. This place had an open mic night for local musicians. And pretty good ramen. I had a number of items on my “must try” list. One was yakiniku where you grill your own food, although we sat at the bar where a genial waiter did it for us. This place was recommended by hotel reception, who weren’t to know I try to avoid meat. The only thing on the menu was beef, admittedly every part of the cow, stomach, heart, testicles ALL of it. Oh well. We did enjoy it (guilty face) but had to politely decline an invitation to return with some other people we’d met at our hotel. The sides were great and that looks like a glass of white wine rather than sake. Not organ meat. Note big blob of fat to grease the griddle.
  13. So a few weeks ago my birthday present was a sourdough workshop. This is loaf number 3, the best one yet. Here it is sliced with olive oil to dip. Served with fettuccine slathered in pesto (holy basil, garlic, almonds and parmesan) and roasted cherry tomatoes. I’m excited about this sourdough thing. The dough works really well as a type of naan bread too. My sourdough starter brings me joy.
  14. Sorry, no. There’s comparisons online which show various different palak paneer including his, but no recipes. I keep borrowing this book from the library, one day they might give it to me, ha ha. The thing I liked the most was the method - fry whole spices, add aromatics, add ground spices, fry the cheese, then tomato, add chopped spinach and yoghurt. Takes about 20 minutes.
  15. The best ever spinach paneer. I like this dish and have cooked it many times using different recipes. This one from Rick Steins India is the simplest and creamiest (despite using no cream). It’s cooked in one pan, no blenders involved. I may never try another version. Served here with rice, paratha, cucumber raita, black lentils and mango pickle.
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