It still feels like a treat to be able to pick flowers straight from the garden – after 5 years of inner city living with just a courtyard our new country garden is still one of the things I cherish most despite all the work it entails. The roses never cease to amaze me, they are far sturdier than I had imagined and can cope with our horrible westerly winds as well as hot temperatures and pouring rain and somehow they have escaped the many bugs and fungal problems they are renowned for. Maybe that is why they are a staple in every country garden around here?
During our recent research of wedding venues I have been lucky to peek inside some fabulous local gardens that I would never usually have access to. I loved one place in particular as it was a labour of love by the original owners which is now continued by a team of gardeners at Merribee in Numbaa, about 20 minutes south of us. It is a popular destination for a country wedding and the new barn on site has made it even more attractive.
This weekend Berry played host to “The best show in town” and the annual Berry Show went ahead despite the huge storm cells that have been playing havoc with the east coast of Australia this week. Despite the muddy conditions and the humid weather it seemed everyone in the area turned up for this quaint old fashioned country show. It was like going back in time with a side show alley, slushies and pluto pups alongside the Country Women’s Association scones with jam and cream. Our boys were down for the weekend so we traipsed along to support the locals and saw an amazing array of roosters and chooks in the poultry pavilion. Some of those roosters were truly magnificent – all glossy feathers and bright colours and VERY loud crowing, some of them were so big they filled the entire cage and were a little bit scary with a don’t mess with me gleam in their eye….
A mandatory look in the R.M.Williams shed, the tractors and the horse jumping before the woodchop which is always good fun to watch. Despite a generous handicap system the winner managed to fell the tree in record time and the young ones could only look on and dream that one day they too would be that fast.
As our veggies are tripping out on all the sunshine and rainfall Tom and I decided to cook up some of our huge tomato crop and make some passata. Everything we used was from our garden – onions, garlic, tomatoes and basil combined to make the yummiest sauce. The tomatoes have been so prolific and I have been particularly amazed by my beautiful ‘Rouge de Marmande’ tomato. One plant has spread out to over a metre wide and about 7 foot tall and the huge fleshy ridged fruit is delicious and sweet. I finally understand why people wax lyrical about home grown tomatoes. Unfortunately however all this huge rain has ravaged the plants leaving lots of ripening reddening tomatoes on bare shrivelled stems so I am picking as many as I can before they give up and die!
On the first night the boys were here I cooked a recipe from the beautiful ‘Alla Fratelli’ cookbook which showcases the ever popular dishes from their Fratelli Fresh restaurants. The only Italian style cookbook you will ever need I promise.
Parmesan crumbed veal cutlets with peperonata, silverbeet with garlic together with duck fat roasted potatoes. It was delicious but the standout was the peperonata. Made from our own capsicums and onions it proved to be a lovely sweet sour accompaniment to the rich crispy meat and potatoes (you can find the recipe in the kitchen section))
Well, as January slips away and most of the silly season socialising is done I guess it’s time to buckle down and eat sensibly, drink less wine on the veranda and generally get fitter. It’s impossible to do it any earlier with everyone in holiday mode and so therefore the Feb Fast challenge is a timely reason to give up the plonk for a cause. Also loving the fact that it’s also the shortest month to abstain……and ending with my birthday giving me permission to celebrate 2 days early!!
The time is flying as it tends to when you don’t want it to. It’s rather strange that the farmers are already cutting the hay for winter and the gardeners are planning the Autumn/Winter crops – who wants to think about brussel sprouts and cauliflowers when we are still eating salads and peaches? It’s rather like the fashion industry, always looking ahead to the next season, the jumpers arrive in the shops when we are all still in our shorts and summer dresses, making it hard to live in the moment. When we moved down here I was determined to try and enjoy each day and season for what it was. I am prone to always be looking forward to the next big thing, the next trip away or the next weekend planned with family and friends and I really wanted to try and appreciate the everydayness of life as well. Granted there isn’t too much excitement attached to grocery shopping or housework and it’s far more fun to plan our trip to Europe later this year, but I am determined to try and see wonder in the small things just like little children do and be grateful for this wonderful new life we have in The Meadow.