I was in the Mosgiel shopping area two weeks ago to go vote in the NZ general election, and walked past one of the local op shops, the same one that I found my pumpkin ceramic casserole dish back in February this year. There in the window was the most amazing 9 piece white ceramic soup tureen set with lion faces embedded into each of the pieces.
I walked inside, saw that the whole set was in pristine condition, and that it was for sale for an amazing price of $45. I whipped my bank card out so fast, and within five minutes it was all bundled up in wrapping paper inside a ginormous cardboard box, and on its way back to our car. Hubby, who happened to be in the local post office while all this was going on, took one look at me, and said, "what did you buy this time"...
And here is the set in it's entire glory. I'm so happy with this purchase, and not only because I'm totally a crazy cat lady, and wanted this lion's head set in our home. I was very soon on the internet looking up the bounty I had just found, and saw that what I bought is an antique style French Lions Head White Ironstone tureen and 8 piece bowl set which is worth at least $350 if I were to buy it new, and I definitely never would've justified buying it new.
For now I'm very happy to have it safely sitting inside our buffet hutch, but I soon plan to make some french onion soup to make inside it...
Have you ever found an absolute gem of an op shop find? I'm curious to know what you've found.
Have a wonderful day
During last year's growing season I had a Serrano chilli plant growing in our glasshouse, and over summer it gave me an abundant harvest of both green and red chillies. I picked so many chillies that I had no idea what to do with them all. I gave away as many as I could, and then with the rest I decided to dry them. We mainly use chillies as dried chilli powder in the kitchen throughout the year, so this method to prepare them was the best way to use all the left over chillies.
I waited until I had a big chlli harvest (some had already started drying out whole), and I cut off all the tops off before splitting them down the middle and removing the seeds (while wearing gloves). I then dried them in our dehydrator on trays at a temperature of 50˚C.
The smell was quite pungent, so initially the dehydrator was sitting outside under our veranda for the day, and then in the garage after that.
Once the chillies were dry, they were stored whole in a plastic container until it was time to grind them.
Last week, I finally got around to actually grinding them in our coffee and spice grinder. So as not to stink out the house with powdered chilli, I placed the grinder under the rangehood with it turned on.
It didn't take very long to turn the chilli into powder. It didn't make as much as I thought it would, so I think that this year I won't give as much away, so we'll have more chilli powder for ourselves.
And we've already used our new chilli powder in a meal, we made chilli con carne that very night. It wasn't too spicy, but it had a really great flavor that we liked. I'm definitely happy to make even more chilli powder this coming growing season.
Have a wonderful day
I finally started planting out my potato tubers for the spring growing season. I meant to do it a couple of weeks ago, but more urgent gardening tasks got in the way. Every year I grow four different varieties of potatoes in the garden, and each variety we use for different reasons.
The first potato variety I grow is Rocket, it's a 1st early potato which only takes 60 - 70 days to maturity. I like planting these in early to mid-September as it means they will be the first potatoes to be ready to eat in mid-November for boiling and roasting. The second variety of potato I grow is Jersey Bennes which is a 1st early potato that reaches maturity in 80 - 90 days. When planted at this time of the year the potatoes will be ready to eat in time for Christmas, and we eat them boiled and also in potato salads.
The other two varieties of potato I grow are Ilam Hardy and Haylo, but they won't be planted until October. Ilam Hardy is a 2nd early/main potato that takes 70 - 80 days to maturity, and is great for mashing, baking, roasting, chips, and wedges. We mainly use this potato for turning into gnocchi, and also in potato and leek soup. The last variety of potato I grow is Haylo, which is an improved variety from the Agria variety potato. It is in my opinion the best roasting potato, and we in fact did an experiment one year to test this. I grew Ilam Hardy, Agria, and Haylo one year, and compared roasting them using hubby's double cooking method for making roast potatoes. Haylo was by far the best tasting roasted potato variety. Haylo is a 2nd early/main potato, and matures in 80 - 90 days.
With these four varieties of potato growing in the garden, we are self sufficient in eating potatoes pretty much throughout the year in various forms, thanks to storing gnochhi and potato and leek soup away in our chest freezer.
I began chitting both the Rocket and Jersey Bennes potato varieties back at the beginning of August, and it wasn't long at all before they started growing, and by the time it was actually time to plant them, they'd unfortunately gotten too big. A disappointment for sure, but they were still fine to plant into the ground, I did so very carefully, taking care not to break any growing shoots.
After digging two trenches in an area of the vegetable garden, I sowed five of each of the Rocket and Jersey Benne tubers into the ground. I always plant them in order from right to left, with the Rocket on the far right, then the Jersey Bennes to the left of them. Experience has taught me that the Rocket variety will indeed rocket up and produce a copious amount of leaves which will smother any other growing potato plant varieties, and block them from sunlight given half a chance. If I do it this way, any new rows of potatoes will get morning sun preferentially to the rocket potatoes.
It didn't take very long to plant those potato varieties, and then gently cover them over with soil. For the next few weeks as they grow up they'll be safe from any late frosts, and once they're above ground, I'll cover them with frost cloth every night until the last frost has passed.
In a couple of weeks it'll be time to plant the Ilam Hardy and Haylo potato varieties, but before that can be done, I need to transplant some dye plants I have in that part of the vege garden. But before that can be done, I have to prepare another area of the garden for the dye plants to move into...
It's pretty much a big juggling job in the garden right now, with the most urgent tasks being done first, even though they may not be the tasks I want to do. And I'm now behind in seed sowing as well, but I will get there I'm sure. The next rainy day in the garden will be a huge seed sowing session, and my aim will be to sow everything else that needs to be sown.
Have a wonderful day