Why Jess's Garden

As I think about it now, I chose the name because I garden to create a space that I want to share with my family.
This blog has now evovled to be a discussion about how I'm attempting to create a personal and physical home for my family.
Creating a garden is a key part of that process, but it is not the only part, so I feel the different parts of this blog are all congruent to the same goal.

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Years - champagne risotto

Champagne Risotto
Please, whatever you do, don’t open a bottle of champagne specifically for this. I mean, not unless you want to, and drink the other half of the bottle as you eat, as a wallowing-in-luxury way to welcome in the New Year, in bed preferably.      Nigella
Well my first "Feast" attempt was for New Years.   There were a few other recipes which I would love to try, but as New Years is very quiet in our house as Miki always works, I decided the champagne risotto was the way for us to celebrate.  I did have to open a bottle, but it was one that had been sitting in our "beer" fridge for months. 

The one complication I had was the recipe is for two people and I knew with Saana eating as well and miki's big appetite I would need to make more. Instead of doubling it, I made 1/2 more again and this was a mistake.There was really too much maths and I know I made a couple of mistakes. Next time I will just double it and have it for leftovers.

I collected all the ingredients, and then realised I didn't have any celery, or leeks. So a shopping list was written for these and for the ingredients for the split pea and frankfurt soup which I was planning to cook for new years day.

I rushed up to the local coles, only to discover that they didn't have leeks so I chose a bunch of lovely spring onions instead.

Here are all the ingredients layed out. The Bubbly is missing. Note the special fancy rice I brought.

Here is the champagne 
Step one: Cooking the onions and celery. I don't think I cooked them long enough, when we were eating it, the celery still had a chewy-chrunch which didn't seem right. It was here that I made my first mistake with the quanity of butter. I still don't know if I used too much or too little, but it didn't seem to make much difference.

Step two: Add the rice to the vegetable mix and cook. While you are doing this you heat up the chicken stock with most of the champage mixed into it.

Step three: Add some of the champagne and stir though.

Step four: Slowly add the stock-champagne mix to the rice and stir constantly.

While cooking, I enjoyed the last bit of the bubbly to myself. THis quickly went to my head and I need to grab out the cheese samplers left over from a friend visit before christmas.

This is a photo of the risotto about half cooked. I really enjoyed the stirring. I don't often cook risotto properly, I tend to just cook rice using the absorption method, and using stock. This is good enough for us usually, but I enjoyed the challenge of adding stock and stirring. I find it hard to tell when to add the next ladle, but felt I was getting the hang of it by the end.

We dished up two bowls for us and a plate for Saana.

Miki - It's nice.
Saana- Ate most of it.
Me - I liked it, I think I should have cooked the celery longer before moving onto the next steps.
It was really nice, but like Nigella says I don't I would bother making this unless I had an open bottle of bubbly or white wine that needs to be used up.

Will I make it again - Yes. I would even make it again for New Years, I could see it becoming a tradition for us.   RECIPE

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Nigella Lawson - Feast

For years now I have been following the blog "Mouthfuls of Heaven"
Last year I got thinking about Nigella's book Feast and thinking I would love to try and cook something from each of the "special events" in the book.
I have decided this is the year.  I don't know how many actual recipes I will cook, but it will begin with New Years!

Feast is not just about big-deal special occasions: it’s about the way we use food to celebrate life.
‘Pleasures and Principles of Good Food’ to celebrations from feast days to familiar rites of passage.

Essentially about families and food, about public holidays and private passions, about how to celebrate the small everyday pleasures as well as the big occasions, it includes everything from Christmas, Thanksgiving , Hanukah and Eid, to Passover and Easter; from Valentine’s Day to that first breakfast in bed and Sunday lunch fit for the In-Laws; from a seasonal pumpkin feast to the ultimate Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame; from weddings to funerals, from Georgian and Venetian feasts to children’s favourites; from Carbfeast to a final post New Year fast…

So I am looking forward to a year of cooking for my family and friends, both special occasion and simple meals which celebrate our relationships and time together.

Friday, 11 December 2009

You Capture - Lines


I finally got organised to get back into my blog and the first thing I did was to visit ishouldbefoldinglaundry and find out the next You Capture theme. Guess What?   It was lines.

I was taking my daily photo of Saana (see future post for further info) when I noticed the curtins behind her made beautiful lines hanging down. I began to wonder if I could capture that for this week.

Then I wander out onto the deck to see if I could get I photo of the deck poles all lined up. After taking the photo I realised the deck was full of lines. Looking at this photo afterward I wished I had cleared the deck of all the junk, but I didn't have time to do it again.

While outside I started thinking, that lines didn't have to mean straight lines so I took some photos of the curved iron work on the arch.  After taking the photos of the iron work, I had great fun playing around the the colours and other stuff of these photos

Thank you for Beth from You should be folding laundry for this challenge.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

13 for thursday - Garden

  I decided today to take a walk and take some photos of what is growing in the garden at the moment.

1.   Lots and lots of tomato plants.
2 Green Zebras. I chose these because they are meant to be low acid which will be good for Saana.
2 Tigerellas. I chose these because the look so pretty and I suspect they are also lower in acid.
1 Amish ox-heart. I had two of these but I gave one to mum.  I kind of wish I had brought another one.
Lots of bush tomatoes in the back bed.
4 Tumbling cherry tomatoes in hanging pots and one in the ground.   I transfered the one in the ground because it wasn't doing well and I needed the pot for the next tomatos.   I think I brought 3 red and 2 yellow, but I'm not sure.
2 Siberian cherry tomatoes. These are meant to be good for hanging pots and the cold climate.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they go.

2. Lots of corn
2 different types of sweet corn 
2 punnets of baby corn These are a lovely red colour on the stems
Under the seedlings I put the seeds of
3 different types of beans
Balinese sweetcorn
Yellow Empress sunflowers

3.  Fruit

               My New Passionfruit                Strawberries                                               Rhubarb

4.  Herbs 
basil,  coriander,  dill, chervil,   2 types of thyme,  lemon balm, lemon grass, sage, rosemary, marjoram,  oregano, chinese salad leaves, curry plant, garlic and normal chives,  mint

    5.  Carrots and beetroot.  
      I also planted parsnips but they didn't come up. 

    6.  Capsicums and Chilies
    Normal capsicums
    Banana capsicums
    Cayenne pepper
    Some of these are from punnets and some are from larger seedings which we put into paper bags and wrapped in paper for a few weeks before planting out.

    7. Beans
    normal blue lake climbing beans
    dwarf beans - butter
    Purple King - climbing beans These look so pretty already, you can see them at the back

    8. Eggplants
    A normal eggplant ( I think, I lost the tag)
    Listada di Gandia This is a diggers eggplant, it is stripy.

    9.  Lots of lettuce

    10. Silverbeet

    11. Alliums
    spring onions
    red onions
                    12. Self Sown
                    cucumber or squash
                    13. Grapevine

                  Wednesday, 9 December 2009

                  Wednesday, 19 August 2009

                  You Capture - Peace


                  Here is my daughter sleeping.
                  When I read this week's theme of peace. That was what I thought of straight away. She looks so peacefully when she is sleeping. But it is also my peace time.

                  Thank you to "I should be folding laundy"

                  Sunday, 16 August 2009

                  Saturday's Paper

                  I have decided to create a weekly post to record what I have ripped out of the paper each week, rather than keeping the pieces of paper.

                  This week I read an article in the Canberra times about illustrators of children's books and some new books for young children. The four books they reviewed were

                  Anthony browne's "Little beauty"
                  I love Anthony browne's books and I was pleased that we could book this one out from the library straight away. So I have reversed it and hopefully it will be waiting for us at the local library soon.

                  Margret Wild's "Piglet and Granny" illustrated by Stephen king.
                  This wasn't available at the libary, but another one of the same series called "Piglet and Mama" was available so I have reserved that book.

                  Clem always could! I hadn't heard of Sarah Watt before, but apparently she has worked on animated films and is the wife of William McInnes. This wasn't available at the library, but I will keep my eye opened for it, because the story sounds good and the illustrations appear to look stunning.

                  My Silent World by Nette Hilton and Vincent Agostino
                  This books sounds really interesting, I love the idea of using pictures books to expose my daughter to different people and different lives.

                  Also in the Canberra times I found two websites of interest

                  Green Garbage Project From their site it states
                  For one year, from July 6, 2009 to July 6, 2010, we aim to live without producing garbage that winds up in a landfill. You can find all the details about our challenge on this site, so check back often to see how we’re doing.
                  Apparently this is a site that daily lists 10 things on the web that are worth "having a look at". Not sure if it is for me, but I'll check it out at sometime.

                  Finally - also from the canberra times an article on this book
                  I heard Roger McDonald speaking on the radio and the book sounds wonderful. Full of extraordinary photos of Australian landscape from across the last 100 years. I love the idea that many of the photos were taken for different purposes, from how they are seen today. McDonlad also discussed how all but one of the photos don't have any people in them, but there would always be one person standing behind the camera. An interesting thought, but how we view landscape photos.

                  So that is all I have so far from the Saturday papers, but then again I haven't read all of them, that will take me all week.