Archive for May, 2010

Posted on 14th May 2010

Community | Putney

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Putney Public School Gardening Club

Yates Junior Landcare Pumpkin Challenge The Gardening Club at Putney Public School under the direction of Meredith Kirton entered the Yates Junior Landcare Pumpkin Challenge.  Seeds were sown in November and in February the pumpkin was weighed and measured for entry in the competition.  Whilst not the winners, which was a 175 kg whopper from Queensland, the kids were wrapped in the experience and proud “parents” of their enormous pumpkin.
For details on the competition see http://www.juniorlandcare.com/_blog/What%27s_New_in_Junior_Landcare/post/175kg

If your school or community group is interested in obtaining grant money for your project, these links may be useful:

http://eng-au.fiskars.com/Activities-Press/Orange-Thumb

http://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/grants.shtml

http://www.opengarden.org.au/grants.html#grants

http://www.landcareonline.com.au/

http://www.juniorlandcare.com/coles

http://www.schoolsfirst.edu.au/docs/schools-first-application-guidelines_final_050510.pdf

http://iag.mktg.net.au/communityhelp/?src=nrma

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Posted on 14th May 2010

Grow | Chillies

By MEREDITH KIRTON

grow arvest Cook chillis

Chillies have become one of the most popular flavours in food around the world, featuring in all sorts of cuisines from Asian to Mexican, Italian and Spanish.  The fruit comes in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours – yellow, red, purple, orange and indeed vary with their intensity of heat.  Botanically speaking they are actually related to Capsicums, or Bell Peppers as they are known in North America.  The smaller the fruit however, the more intense the heat tends to be, with birds eye chillies ranking fairly high up on the scale and long yellow peppers tending to be sweet rather than hot.

Chillies are an easy annual to grow.  They like a warm, sunny frost free position with good drainage and regular water and can grow happily in pots too.  They are self fertile so you only really need one plant in order to produce fruit, but with so many types available, who can stick to one?  Their size varies in height from 2m tall down to 30cm or so for some of the more ornamental types.  Popular cultivars include Habanero, also known as Scotch Bonnets, Jalapenos and Bird’s Eyes.

To grow your own you can easily raise seedlings from shop bought fruit.  Simply wait until ripe, then cut them open and remove the seeds.  Sow these seeds into a tray of seed raising mix and keep them moist and in a warm spot to they have germinated.  This is in spring for temperate climates but any time of the year in more tropical areas.  Once they are about 10cm tall, they are ready for individual pots or planting out in the garden.

Like any fruiting plant, potassium is required and too much nitrogen can cause excess foliage and soft growth at the expense of flowers and fruit, so be careful not to overdo applications high nitrogen fertilisers like chicken manure.

When your bush is over producing, string up excess and dry them, but be careful to wear rubber gloves as the heat from even this can burn your skin if you accidentally touch your eyes.  The only antidote really is using yogurt to calm the sting.

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th May 2010

Harvest | Chillies

By MANDY SINCLAIR

homegrown chillis

Storage:
Choose chillies that have firm glossy skins, with no soft spots. Store refrigerated in a plastic clip lock bag. They will keep for up to 2 weeks.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Freeze chillies whole in plastic bags. To use, thaw and chop – the flesh will not be as firm and probably not suitable for garnish, but certainly ideal to use as a flavour base in a stir-fry, soup, or stuffing.

  • Preserve:

Chilli relish

3 red capsicum
10 long red chillies
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
2 rosemary sprigs

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Lay capsicum and chillies on a baking tray and bake for 25mins, turning once. Remove chilli and cook capsicum for another 10mins. Place in a plastic bag and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and remove seeds. Chop flesh.
2. Heat oil in a saucepan on low. Cook onion for 5 mins, until softened. Add capsicum and chilli with remaining ingredients. Season well and simmer, covered, for 25mins, until thick and caramelized.
3. Spoon into sterilized jars. Store in refrigerator for up to 3months. Serve with grilled fish, chicken or in a stir fry.

chilli jam recipe

  • Dry:

Chilli salt

Remove seeds from 10 long red chillies. Place in a small food processor and process until chopped. Add 2 tbsp sea salt flakes and process until combined. Place on a large tray and set aside over night to dry. The salt will have become hard and clumped together. Smash up and store in a jar. Use in marinades, sauces or just scatter over fish, chicken or prawns.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th May 2010

Cook | Chillies

By MANDY SINCLAIR

Piri piri prawn recipe from Grow Harvest Cook

Piri piri prawns

9 long red chillies
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1kg king green prawns
lemon wedges, to serve

1. Place chillies on a chargrill and cook for 10 mins, turning until blackened. Set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle rub skin from chillies and remove stalks. Place in a food processor with garlic and pulse until chopped. Add oil and vinegar and process until combined.
2. Place prawns in a shallow dish. Pour over half of piri piri sauce and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hrs.
3. Barbecue or chargrill prawns for 1-2mins each side, until cooked through. transfer prawns to serving bowls. Sprinkle over sea salt, drizzle with remaining piri piri and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 4 – 6


tip ….
Peel and de-vein the prawns before marinating if you prefer – when cooking prawns on the barbecue, I cook them unpeeled – it helps to keep the prawns moist.

try this ….
Blue eye with chilli salsa

Combine 2 chopped small red chillies, 1 chopped green onion (shallot), ½ cup chopped coriander and finely grated rind and 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Grill or pan fry salmon fillets. Serve salmon topped with salsa.

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st May 2010

Grow | Persimmon

By MEREDITH KIRTON

growing persimmons

What do the black keys of a piano and persimmons have in common? Well the genus of tree is the same, Diospyros.  Persimmons make the most marvelous ornamental as well as edible addition to the autumn garden. Their foliage in summer is a beautiful dark green, but as the weather cools it starts to turn their leaves the most wonderful shades of red and orange.  At the same time the green, apple like fruit start turning the colour of mandarins, so you get the double hit of orange on orange, heralding winter.

There are many types of Persimmon, some with astringent fruit and some non-astringent.  The latter can be eaten when ripe, the former need to be eaten when almost too ripe in order to loose their astringency.  All taste great if eaten at their peak, and are rich in Vitamin C, carotene and twice the dietary fibre of an apple, and in fact the botanical name Diospyros actually translates to “divine fruit”. They are incredibly popular in Japan, where they are native but are only now, with and increase in the Asian population in Australia, getting the culinary attention that they deserve.

If planting a specimen in your garden, be sure to leave it enough space, as they are a tree and grow about 8m tall x 4m wide, with some having a beautiful weeping shape.  They like an enriched soil and cool root run, so dig in plenty of compost and organic matter and mulch each year with it’s own fallen leaves to keep a moist layer of humus protecting the roots from heat.  Like most fruit trees, birds like picking at the ripening crop and fruit fly can be a problem in some areas.  Netting in February onwards the developing fruit just as it starts to show colour can protect you from both pests.

netting persimmon fruit

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st May 2010

Harvest | Persimmon

By MANDY SINCLAIR

persimmons

Storage:
Persimmon are undoubtedly at their best when left to ripen on the tree. Generally speaking the variety available at the market are the non-astringent type and can be eaten firm or soft – although I much prefer soft. If the persimmon are soft and completely ripe, store refrigerated for 1-2 days, if firm store at room temperature, they will ripen within 2 days.

What to do with glut

  • Freeze:

Freeze persimmon whole. Remove from freezer 1 hr before eating. Cut in half and scoop flesh out with a spoon. The texture is like a velvety sorbet. Delicious!

  • Preserve:

persimmon jam

persimmon jam

4 ripe persimmons
3 cups caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tsp Jamsetta

1. Wash persimmon, remove stalk ends, peel and press fruit through a food mill or coarse strainer. Measure 2 cups of pulp and place in a large saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice and jamsetta. Mix well.

2. Bring to boil, stirring. Boil without stirring for 10-15 mins, performing a jam set test every 5 mins.

3. Remove from heat and remove any foam from top. Cool slightly and pour into sterilized jars.

Jam set test – Place a saucer in the freezer. Spoon 1 tsp of jam onto cold saucer and leave for 1 min. Run a round bladed knife through the centre, if the jams holds and the surface is firm, the jam is ready, if not continue cooking for another 5 mins.

  • Dry:

‘Harold McGee’, The Curious Cook, talks about drying persimmon very successfully. Un-ripe persimmon tend to dry without any bitter aftertaste. Peel firm fruit and thickly slice. Lay on racks above trays and dry in a 60C oven for up to 36 hours, until outside flesh develops a dry leathery skin. Reduce oven to 40C and dry for another 3days, until tender all the way through. Alternatively use a drying machine according to manufacturers instructions.

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st May 2010

Cook | Persimmon

By MANDY SINCLAIR

steamed persimmon and almond puddings

Steamed persimmon & almond puddings

4 persimmon
125g butter, at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
3 eggs
½ cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
¾ cup ground almonds

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease and line base of 8 x ½ cup dariole moulds. Peel and cut 1 persimmon into slices. Lay 2 slices over base of each mould. Peel and puree remaining persimmon.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold through 1/3 cup of persimmon pulp.
3. Sift together flour and baking powder into a small bowl. Add breadcrumbs and almond meal and toss to combine. Fold into creamed mixture. Spoon into prepared moulds, taking care not to disturb persimmon.
4. Place moulds into a large baking pan. Pour in enough hot water to come half way up sides of moulds. Cover pan with a layer of baking paper and foil, pressing securely around edges of pan to seal. Bake for 30-35 mins, or until puddings spring back when lightly touched.
5. Invert puddings onto serving plates and drizzle with remaining persimmon puree.

Makes 8


tip ….
This pudding can also made as 1 large. Use a 6 cup pudding mould and increase cooking time to 1hr.


try this ….
Persimmon & fennel salad with smoked salmon
Trim and thinly slice 1 bulb of fennel. Peel and cut 2 persimmon into wedges. Place in a bowl with fennel, ½ cup chopped mint, ½ cup chopped walnuts and 100g smoked salmon. Whisk together ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp brown sugar. Add to salad and toss to combine.

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Posted under cook