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Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime Soup Recipe

Hello friends,

Happy winter solstice, soon the days will become much lighter again!

We're heading into the coldest time of the year, so I thought I'd share with you my favorite soup recipe, which is Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime soup. The ingredient list is pretty small, and most years I've grown my own tomatoes, lime, garlic, onion, and chilli for the recipe. I've had a bad run of growing my own capsicums, so I buy frozen capsicums from Frozen Direct for the recipe, as it's much cheaper and it comes pre-chopped.

In this recipe you can choose whichever stock you want, we usually use a salt reduced chicken stock, or if you want a vegetarian option, go for a vegetable stock.


Tomato, Capsicum, and Lime Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 large Onion

1 clove of Crushed Garlic

1L Chicken Stock (Vegetable stock works great also)

4 Red Capsicums deseeded and chopped, OR 600 grams frozen Red Capsicums

1 small red Chilli or ½ teaspoon Chilli powder (this is approx, it depends on what heat level you like)

3 tins of tinned 400 gram tomatoes OR one 2L ice cream container of frozen homegrown tomatoes

1 Tablespoon of tomato puree (This is purely optional. It depends on how tasty the tomatoes are in the recipe. My advice is to do the recipe up to step 4 without the tomato puree, and do a taste test, and if it’s not tomatoey enough, then try adding tomato puree by the tablespoon)

1 Lime – Juice + Zest

Salt and Pepper to taste


Recipe

(1) Cook chopped onion and garlic gently in olive oil in a covered pot for approximately 5 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.

(2) Stir in chopped capsicum, chilli, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

(3) Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth.

(4) Do a taste test once the soup is at a smooth consistency, to see if tomato puree needs to be added. Add the juice and zest of the lime.

(5) Simmer for 10 minutes, and then do a taste test to see if salt and pepper is needed. Add salt and pepper and simmer for 5 more minutes.

(6) Enjoy the soup straight away, or freeze if you have any excess. This recipe gives approximately 4 - 6 serves depending on how big your soup bowl is.

This soup recipe, is my favorite of all time, and I look forward to eating it each autumn and winter. We usually have it with toasted ciabatta and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, but it is wonderful just on it's own. I usually also make a double batch, so that we have plenty of this soup over winter whenever I have a hankering for it. I hope you give this wonderful soup a go, and please let me know what you think of the recipe...

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Making Citrus Frost Cloth Covers

Hello friends,

After buying a frost cloth cover from one of our local garden centres back in May, I wanted to make bigger versions for my three citrus plants before winter arrived.

Luckily I had some very thick frost cloth in storage from last year, so I tracked it down and then got to work. The frost cloth was 2 metres wide and many metres long, so I used the width of the frost cloth as the height for each frost cover. I wrapped the frost cloth length around each citrus plant, added extra space for wiggle room to fit it over the citrus plants, and then marked it out on the frost cloth. I decided that adding a zip was just extra work, and more expensive, so I didn't bother with it.

Once I had measured each plant, I went up to my craft room and cut off a length of frost cloth for each frost cloth cover. I then folded each section of frost cloth width wise, so that the width of the frost cloth formed the sides of the frost cover. The length of frost cloth that was folded in half then formed the top and bottom of the frost cover. With this done, I sowed along the top and the side of the frost cover. The bottom of the frost cover was left open for making the casing for the pull string, and to pull over the citrus plants when the frost cover was finished. I used a normal straight stitch on the sewing machine, and made sure the ends were well tacked down.

The next step was to sew a casing in the bottom of the frost cover, leaving a small opening so I could insert some nylon rope in a circle around the bottom. I purchased some general purpose nylon rope from Mitre 10, and some cord pullers from Spotlight.

After sewing the casing, it was time to unwind the general purpose rope, and insert it into the casing. This was when Rosie cat came to assist me, and she helped me add the rope and the cord pullers to all three citrus frost covers.

After making sure the cord pullers all worked, and tying the ends of the rope tight together, the frost covers were ready. After trying on each frost cover to the corresponding citrus plant, I labelled each one with a permanent marker.

It's now winter, and we've had multiple frosts now. The frost covers have been such an asset to have, as they are so easy to pull on and off. It's really been so much easier to protect my precious citrus plants from frost and snow. And to make the frost covers myself, it was just a crafty bonus.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

Milling and Baking Our Own Homegrown Bread

Hello friends,

After harvesting and processing the 2023/2024 season's wheat, we were ready to mill our grain, and then bake our own homegrown bread.

The first step was to mill the wheat grain using our Mockmill Stone Mill which attaches to our Kitchenaid stand mixer. You can find out more information about our Mockmill milling set up in last year's blog post.

It only took a few minutes to mill all of this year's grain into flour (and some of last year's leftover grain), in the stone mill using a fine milling setting.

The next step was to separate the white flour from the majority of the wheatgerm and bran. Last year we used the sieve we have at home, but the sieve was too coarse, and most of the wheat germ and bran still got through. So this year we invested in a super fine manual flour sieve from Flour Power Mills. When sieving was completed we were left with a light brown super fine flour, which still contained some fine wheatgerm and bran. The coarser wheatgerm and bran is now stored away for other baking and cooking projects during the year.

All that remained was to bake a loaf of bread. After milling we had 4 cups of flour, which we used in our standard wholegrain bread recipe.

Wholegrain Bread Recipe for use in a Bread Maker

Ingredients
1.25 cups of hot tap water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (canola or any other neutral seed oil)
1/3 cup of milk (can be from milk powder, but the liquid volume is important)
1/3-1/2 cup of 7-seed-mix, whole-grain, or other similar tasty grains (we get ours from Bin Inn)
3 cups of strong/bread flour (or in our case homegrown and milled flour)
2 teaspoons of supabake yeast (i.e. mixed yeast with bread improver)

Recipe
(1) Place in the baking tin in the order above, it is important to have:
       * The grains *in* the liquid (to soak)
       * The flour on top of the first 6 ingredients
       * The yeast on top of the flour (so it's not in the water, or in contact with the salt or sugar until it starts mixing)

(2) Place the baking tin in the bread maker, and set the bread maker to the "wholegrain" program in your bread maker. Start baking your bread.

(3) We have a 10+year old Sunbeam bread maker, but we have reports this recipe works well in others. The bread maker should have a first period where it keeps the water warm to soak/soften the grains (which is why you do not want the yeast in the water, with warmth and sugar it'll activate far too soon).

And two hours and twenty minutes later our homegrown bread was out of the bread maker. It wasn't quite as fluffy as commercially grown bread, but the bread had a wonderful nutty flavor which was great fresh, as well as toasted.

We've found that growing our own wheat, and then processing and milling our own flour is a very fulfilling thing to do. It's nice to see how processed food is made, and to appreciate the hard work that goes into making flour and bread.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

April Handmaiden Spinning Fibre Club

Hello friends,

Up until a few months ago, I got into a spinning rut. I didn't really have anything fun to spin, and so my yarn spinning fell by the wayside. After hearing about Handmaiden NZ's monthly fibre club, I decided to sign up for a couple of months, to see if it would help me get back into spinning. Every month Handmaiden, Amy Hughes, dyes a 100 gram braid of yarn in a new colour, and with a new fibre blend to try.

Eager to get back into spinning, I signed up for the fibre club and waited impatiently for it to arrive.

When April's fibre club showed up, and it was a soft and fluffy 100% merino braid, in pretty shades of white, green, blue, and purple, and it came with a small candle from the Bluebird Candle Company, in the scent Beautiful. The candle scent was very floral and pretty, and not too overpowering. Very excited about getting into spinning, I got to work. I unraveled the braid and split it lengthwise down the middle so I could make a two ply. In an experimental mood, I chose to spin each half braid from different ends. This would make the colours overlap in the middle.

I decided to spin the braid on my trusty Majacraft Suzie Pro, with the spinning wheel set up on the middle whorls, and aimed to spin at my default width, which would end up with approximately DK yarn once plied. It didn't take very long at all to spin up both singles and then ply them.

Once plied and rested, I set the yarn by washing it with wool wash. Unfortunately the wool wash we have at the moment has been making dye run, so the wash and rinse water was in shades of blue.


With the yarn fulled and washed, it was left to dry. I ended up with a total of 175 m of DK knit weight yarn at the end of spinning and processing. I don't know what I will do with it, but for now I'm just happy to squish it and enjoy the pretty colours. Have you been spinning anything pretty recently?

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

This Year's Wheat Harvest and New Harvesting Methods

Hello friends,

We grew wheat again in the 2023/2024 season with the hope to grow enough flour to make a loaf of homemade bread. We planted out our wheat seeds back in November 2023, and had a great harvest in February 2024 this year. If you want to learn more about growing wheat at home you can read it in this blog post.

With the wheat harvested, I dried it in readiness for processing. This year I wanted to try some new processing methods, to see if they would be more efficient than last year's methods. The first new method was to try removing the wheat heads from the stalks using a garden chipper/shredder. You can see footage on Youtube of this happening here.

Luckily we had a garden shredder in our garage, so we got to work. It didn't take very long at all to harvest the wheat heads from the stalks. The wheat heads fell into the hopper below, and the stalks were dug back into the garden bed from where they came from. I had hoped that the garden chipper would break open the wheat heads, but unfortunately they were still mostly intact afterward.

The next step was to thresh the wheat. Last year we just bashed the wheat heads with a piece of wood, but it was a lot of work. But I found this video on YouTube recently of someone threshing wheat with a flail.

Eager to try this method out, I bought two broom handles from Mitre 10 (broom handles are much cheaper than dowel), two metal eyes, and a length of rope. Once I got home I sawed off the ends of the two broom handles so that one handle was 1.5 m long, and the other 1 m long. I then tied them together with a length of rope.

Hubby got to work threshing the wheat heads on an old sheet. It turns out that the 1 m length of flail that was hitting the wheat heads was too long, so we cut it down to 75 cm. Another problem was that the wheat heads were flying off in every direction when hit, so we wrapped the wheat heads up into the sheet like a burrito, to keep them all in one place. After a couple of minutes of threshing using this method, it was completed. We separated the bigger pieces of plant material by hand, and then used a large sieve to further remove the medium-sized pieces of plant material.

When we thresh the wheat again next year I think we will alter the flail, and use leather strips to connect the two broom handles. The rope had a tendency to come undone, and the short piece of broom handle doing the threshing would fly off. I would also love to invest in a seed saving screen from Crafty Gatherer NZ, but it's pretty pricey.

After that, all that remained was the wheat berries and the chaff. The next step was winnowing. After watching the videos above, we saw that most people used small fans to separate the wheat from the chaff. Luckily it was now autumn, and most places were selling off fans very cheaply. Hubby took a trip to our local Mitre 10, and purchased a fan at a decent price.

He set up the fan, and got to work winnowing. The videos above suggested working a slow speed for the first pass, to remove dust, and then work your way up to faster speeds to get rid of bigger material. With the help of the fan we got the winnowing done a period of less than five minutes. With a constant breeze, it made the job so much easier.

With the winnowing done, the processing of the wheat was complete. Overall, these new wheat processing methods saved us a lot of time, and it also made the process so much easier. We'll be using this method again next year when we grow our own wheat. In a future blog I will be showing the wheat milling process, and also our recipe for making bread in a bread maker.

Have a wonderful day

Julie-Ann

Want to discuss my post? Feel free to chat with me on Instagram or Mastodon or Bluesky.

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