Monday, July 20, 2009

Vegetable Curry.

Vegetable Curry

600g mixed fresh Vegetables*
1 tblspn vegetable oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 tblspn mild curry paste
400g can chopped tomatoes
150g baby spinach, chopped
1 tspn dried coriander leaves
Low-fat natural yoghurt to serve

1. In a large pot add oil and onion and cook until onion is tender.
2. Add curry paste and mix through, followed by tin of canned tomatoes.
3. Add mixed vegetables and bring to boil. Then reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes, or until vegetables have softened.
4. Stir through baby spinach, coriander and a pinch of pepper.
5. Serve hot topped with a dollop of natural yoghurt.

Serves as a side or main.

The first night I made this we had it with golden roasted potatoes, and on the following night we reheated the left-overs and had it atop some steamed brown rice.

* I used a combination of eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli and carrot.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Book Review: Persuasion (Austen)

Recently I read Jane Austen's novel Persuasion.

Unlike other Austen novels in my possession, which have been read until the pages are worn (and in some cases come loose from the binding!), it was the first time that I had read this particular story.

I believe it to be one of Austen's later novels, and found it to be distinctly different to other stories that make up my favourites, such as Pride & Prejudice and Emma.

Persuasion, to me, felt quite sombre. The heroine of the story, Anne Elliott, is just so sad! I was waiting for the Austen sarcastic wit to break through, but it is hard to find anything funny when the heroine's sadness envelopes every bit of the story.

At times I felt that Austen had made attempts to be humourous and ironic, a trait that makes Jane Austen's stories so charming and enjoyable, but in Persuasion it all fell flat. I cannot say that I disliked the story, because the characters were interesting, as was the plot, but it wasnt what I was expecting, and I dont feel it will be added to my favourites list. I never thought I would say this about an Austen novel, but I dont believe I will make the time to read it again.

Have you read Persuasion? If so, what were your thoughts?

Winter Reading List (May - August) Progession:
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Tales of Mystery & Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Potato & Leek Soup.

1 tblspn Olive Oil
1 tspn garlic flakes (= 1 clove fresh)
3 medium Leeks, thinly sliced
1 kg Potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups Vegetable Stock
Ground Black Pepper
1/2 cup grated Vegetarian Parmesan Cheese
Croutons* to serve

1. Heat oil in a large pan. Add garlic and chopped leeks and cook until tender, then transfer to a slow-cooker/crock-pot (see below).
2. Add potatoes and vegetable stock to slow-cooker/crock-pot and turn heat to low. Allow to cook for 6 - 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. When cooked, blend or process soup until a thick, smooth consistency.
4. Stir through pepper and return to low heat. Cook for a further half hour.
5. Serve hot topped with croutons and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

*To make croutons: Slice thick bread (any kind will do) into 1" cubes. Place cubes onto a greased oven-proof tray and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook in oven at 180*C for 10 - 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Perfect on a cold and wet Winter's day!

(Slow-cookers/Crock-pots retail in Australia anywhere from AU$40, depending on their size, and make a great addition to the kitchen).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In Pictures: Winter in Bloom.

A walk-around the garden on a surprisingly sunny morning reveals a colourful selection of Winter Bloom.

Vegie Garden Update + Request for HELP!

In late-April I decided it might be nice to plant a vegie patch and make an attempt at growing some Winter vegetables.

I knew it was going to be a challenge, as I am very much a gardening novice. But I went ahead and chose the spot in the back garden that I thought would be best for planting some vegetables: Where there is sun in the morning and shade in the late afternoon, where water retains, where the pup cannot reach and destroy, and where I can best keep a watchful eye.

At first the plants were growing beautifully, especially the cabbage and the spinach. They shot up and appeared wonderfully healthy, and I thought I would see vegetables in no time.

But, alas! The plants were then attacked by grubs, particularly the cauliflower and cabbage plants, and I had to make a bee-line for some organic bug spray otherwise I would have been left with no plants at all.

The spray has worked wonders in keeping the pests away. Yes, the grubs and moths and grasshoppers still get in the occasional nibble, but I'm not left with nothing but a stem, which is good.

However, over the past two to three weeks I have noticed a significant lack of growth from the cauli, cabbage and spinach plants. They are pretty much the same size as they were a month ago and I cannot figure out why.

I water. I fertilise. I mulch. I keep the pests away. Yet my plants are starting to look a little wiltered and shriveled.

I'd blame frost if we'd had any, but we havent.
There has, however, been some terribly cold mornings, a lot of cloudy days, and a fair bit of rain. Could it be my plants are not getting enough sun/warmth? The soil appears good, but perhaps I need to add more fertiliser, or try a fertiliser of a different kind? Perhaps it has been too wet (if that is possible for our particular area: Flinders Ranges)?

The onions, carrots and parsley I planted appear to be doing fine and are not suffering the same fate.

If you think you may know what is causing the problem with my vegie plants (if indeed there is one), and know how to fix it, I would very much appreciate the help. These plants have been in two months already, and I just thought they'd be bigger by now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

In Pictures: Eyre Peninsula (24.06.09 - 27.06.09)

Fishing rods, a good book, an excited pup and an even more excited SJ, wet-weather gear, sand in everything, Mr Percival, and a coastline all to ourself.