Archive for September, 2012

Posted on 24th September 2012

community | james st


Jmaes St Reserve Community Garden Sydney

Garden Life’s Richard Unsworth has been working alongside other volunteers at the James St Reserve Community Garden to turn what was once a place where drug addicts shot up into a veggie patch where grandma’s share knowledge and stories with grand kids as they walk to school.

Unsworth, whose Garden Design shop Garden Life overlook this garden out the back of the shop, says he was cynical at first that planting a garden could transform the back alley as radically as it has, but now says it has gone from a place you’d be frightened to walk at night into a garden that nurtures not only the plants, but also the souls of those who go there.  He has been involved from the start of the garden, and his great sense of design style is evident…including in the fabulous new shed that has just been built and is awaiting its tool fit out.

The garden, got off the ground and opened by Clover Moore some 2 years ago.  It doesn’t work with an allotment system, where each member has a plot, but rather, it has larger beds (in rainwater tanks) allocated to working groups, and they decide and care for what’s in each patch.  Smaller concrete tubs are planted out as “free for all” pots for non-members to enjoy, while the members share their combined harvests with each other.

Their vision “to create a living garden (an ever evolving and experimental space that embraces change) that makes the James Street Reserve an attractive and safe space that welcomes everyone, encourages community spirit, facilitates learning and information exchange and acts as a sustainability role model”, has certainly come true.  They have members aged from 5 to 80, including singles, different ethnic groups and even an Aboriginal man who silently sweeps the paths some mornings.  The compost also provides a sustainable approach to disposal of household food scraps for neighbouring properties and cafes.

What has been truly remarkable here however is how the homeless and faceless people from the back alleys have now become almost custodians of this space too, and that stories can finally be exchanged.  Perhaps this garden will do just as much healing minds as it does feeding families.


Posted under community
Posted on 14th September 2012

grow | parsnips


growing parsnips at home

Whilst parsnips today may be confused by some as “white carrots” there was a time not so long ago in the middle ages when carrots would never have featured on a good British feasting table, such was the high ranking status of the now humble parsnip. Making a comeback to the table, however, the parsnips sweetness and versatility is finally being recognised again.

To grow them, the best way is to plant out seeds.  Dig over you garden bed a few weeks earlier with well rotted manure or blood and bone, then soak
some of the small, flaky seeds overnight in water to aid in their germination.  Run a string line or use a stake flat on the ground to make
your straight line, and sow your seeds about 15-20cm apart – you can always thin out small parsnips every second plant as they successfully
germinate and grow. Apart from regular water, full sun and free draining soil, the thing you next need to have in spades is patience, as 14-16 weeks is not unusual for a decent sized root to develop.  To harvest, simply put your garden fork own beside the plant and gently lever to loosen the soil, then pull.
Storage for more than a few weeks is best by simply leaving your parsnips in the ground, bearing in mind that frosts only make the roots sweeter.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 14th September 2012

harvest | parsnips


home-grown parsnips


Harvest  parsnips whilst still young and smallish. The larger they are the more woody the core. They are still perfectly ok to use, simply remove the core before cooking. Store in a paper bag in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

What to do with glut

  • To freeze
    Peel and blanch halved or chopped parsnips. Place into clip lock bags and freeze for up to 6 months.
  • To Dry
    Wash, thinly slice or shred parsnips. Plunge into a pan of boiling water. Drain and rinse under cold water. Lay on a baking tray, in a single layer. Place in 60C (non-fan) for 10-12 hrs, until dried. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.  Add to stews, casseroles, soups. Rehydrate by covering with hot water and soaking for 1 hr. Drain.
  • To preserve

parsnip chutney recipe

Parsnip & ginger chutney

1kg parsnips, peeled, chopped
3 onions, chopped
2 cups cider vinegar
Juice and finely grated rind of 1 orange
500g brown sugar
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp allspice

1. Place parsnip, onion, vinegar, orange juice and rind in a large saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 mins, until parsnip is tender. Remove from heat.
2. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add ginger, curry powder and allspice. Mix to combine. Cook on low heat for 50-60 mins, until thick. Transfer to streilised jars and seal. Store in a cool dark place for up to 3 months. Refrigerate after opening.

Makes 4 cups

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 14th September 2012

cook | parsnips


parsnip chip recipe

Caramelised parsnip & chorizo salad

600g parsnips, peeled, quartered lengthways
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
2 chorizo, sliced
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
100g baby rocket
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

1. Preheat oven to 200C or 180C fan. Place parsnip in a large baking pan. Drizzle with 2 tbsp of oil and sprinkle over sugar. Toss to coat. Bake for 1 hr, until tender.
2. Place chorizo, garlic and remaining oil in another pan and bake for 20-30 mins, until chorizo is crisp.
3. Squeeze garlic from skins. Place 2 in a small bowl with dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Season.
4. Toss together parsnips, chorizo, remaining garlic and rocket. Add dressing. Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4


Chorizo is a cured spicy sausage available at most large supermarkets. They usually come in a pack of 2

try this …….
Parsnip mash
Peel and chop 500g parsnips and 500g potatoes. Cook in a large pan of boili9ng salted water for 20 mins, until tender. Drain and return to pan. Add ¾ cup hot milk and 20g butter and mash until smooth. You can flavour with crushed garlic, thyme leaves or chopped parsley if you like. Serve with chargrilled steak, roast beef or lamb.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook
Posted on 1st September 2012

grow | oranges


orange blossom

orange tree

Few backyard fruit trees are as giving as citrus.  An all seasons tree, a well cared for orange tree looks great year round, with white, fragrant  spring blossom, glossy evergreen leaves and the stunning globes of glowing  fruits in winter.  They also don’t take long to start bearing fruit, with most varieties producing after 2-3 years, and they have the added bonus of being self-fertile, so they don’t need a mate in order to set fruit, just the birds and the bees to do their trick!

Choosing the type of orange that most suits you depends on what you’re likely to do with the fruit.  For juicing, the best type is Valencia, as
it’s juicy, but for eating, most people prefer the Navel, which is seedless and sweeter, and known for its belly button like indentation.
There are also sweeter still blood oranges, which have a red tinge to the flesh.  Most types grow 4m or so tall, but you can get all these grafted
onto dwarfing rootstocks, called ‘flying dragon’ which normally keeps them about 1/3 smaller than they would naturally grow.  These in particular,  are useful for growing in pots.

Oranges love a sunny, well drained position.  It’s particularly important to regularly feed your citrus trees, as they have hearty appetites for
nitrogen, to keep their leaves green and fresh, but shortages of magnesium and manganese can also cause leave yellowing. Also potassium is needed for fruit and flower set, and regular moisture supplies too as any drought conditions can cause them to jettison their crop.

Pests to watch out for include the spines citrus bug, the bronze orange bug (known as stink bug) and aphids and scales.  Citrus leaf miner too can
cause problems.  All these can be kept in check by regular sprays of horticultural grade oil sprays (like Pest Oil) from late spring to late autumn.  This is a safe way of pest control as the oil doesn’t contain any poison.

Harvest oranges any time after they have coloured up, but waiting till after a light frost tends to sweeten their flavour.  Extreme cold will kill citrus trees, so protection from heavy frosts is also needed.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under grow
Posted on 1st September 2012

harvest | oranges


freshly picked oranges


Refrigerate for up to 1 month once picked. If storing at room temperature oranges will pass their optimum much sooner, so use within 1 week.

What to do with glut

  • To freeze
    Cut oranges into quarters and place in a re- sealable bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. Remove wedges as required.
  • To preserve

orange marmalade recipe

Orange marmalade

1kg large oranges
Juice of 1 lemon
600g caster sugar

1. Place oranges in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Decrease heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hr, until oranges are soft. Using a slotted spoon, remove oranges from water. Increase heat to high, add lemon juice  and boil for about 40 mins, until liquid reduces to 1/3 cup.
2. Meanwhile, peel oranges and set aside peel. Place orange flesh into a blender and blend until smooth. Strain puree into reduced liquid, discard solids.
3. Remove white pith from peel and cut peel into thin strips. Add to orange mixture with sugar. Simmer on low, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil for about 45 mins, stirring regularly.
4. Test for setting, drop a teaspoon of marmalade onto a chilled plate. Tip plate, if marmalade runs, simmer for another 5 mins before checking again. Fill sterilized jars and seal.

Makes about 2 cups

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under harvest
Posted on 1st September 2012

cook | oranges


Orange ricotta slice recipe

Orange ricotta slice with candied oranges

¾ cup plain flour
1/3 cup ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
100g butter, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
450g fresh ricotta
1 cup caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus 1 orange, thinly sliced
½ cup (125ml) orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan. Grease and line a 17cmx27cm slice pan with baking paper.
2. Place flour, almonds and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Add 1 egg and pulse to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Press down to cover base. Bake for 10mins, until firm and golden. Cool.
3. Meanwhile, place ricotta, ½ cup of sugar, orange zest and juice and remaining egg into a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour over cooled base, smoothing top with spatula. Bake for 15-20 mins, until filling is just set. Cool in pan. Refrigerate for 1hr until firm.
4. Meanwhile, make candied oranges. Place remaining caster sugar and 1/ 3 cup of water in a small frying pan. Stir on low heat, until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and boil 3 mins, with out stirring, until syrupy. Add orange slices and simmer for 5 mins, until oranges are soft. Set aside to cool.
5. When ready to serve, arrange orange slices over slice and cut into squares.

Serves 12

If time is short, replace candied orange slices with orange segments. Using a small sharp knife, peel skin and all white pith from 2 oranges. Cut into segments. Cut slice into squares and serve topped with orange segments.

try this …….
Orange curd
Whisk together 4 eggs and ¾ cup of sugar in a large microwave-proof bowl, until well combined. Add 1/3 cup strained orange juice and 100g chopped butter. Microwave, uncovered, on medium (50%) power for 6-10 mins, whisking every minute, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted under cook