Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beyond my control

Its early spring here in Australia, and I spent the weekend at our farm which is 4 hours drive north of Sydney. On the way I stopped in at Gloucester which is a small town, and went in for the first time into their only thrift shop. To my surprise were these 1960s Italian lucite star salt and pepper shakers which were identical to a pair of candle holders I had sold only the day before! What a peculiar coincidence. Does the cosmos want me always to have a pair of stars nearby? Anyway, I have listed the new ones, lets see what happens!

Our farm is beside the Manning River, and at night does a great inky black sky full of non lucite stars and I spend most of my time when we are there in the garden. Its nice to have a bit of time out from the city and get stuck into my garden jobs. I went overboard in the early days with the orchard and now have over 70 fruit and nut trees to maintain including a very long hazelnut bush hedge which has flung a couple of nuts at me last year, but I will have to wait to something more substantial. 

The lovely pink blossoms above is a Yarahapinni Blood Plum tree. This is an Australian variant of blood plums suited to Australian conditions and it has the most beautiful deep red leaves in summer.

The last time it fruited, there was so many plums that the tree split in half down the central trunk from the weight of the fruit. A stake, a severe pruning and heavy duty bandage rescued it and here it goes again two years later. 

Last time the plums ripened the exact week I wasn't there. There was more than enough to feed us and the hordes of lorikeets which came to feed! I made plum brandy, plum pies and the most incredible plum paste to serve with cheese that Xmas (my Spanish Xmas), and then continued to eat it all year as thick plum jam on toast. 

Here is the recipe I used  (I added a stick of cinnamon and few cloves to spice it up)  

2kg blood plums, juice of 2-3 lemons, sugar, whole cinnamon, cloves.Quarter the fruit and put plums and stones in preserving pan lemon juice. Bring slowly to boil, stir occasionally and simmer until fruit is soft. Push fruit through a sieve, measure the mixture and add equivalent amount of sugar, return to pan with spices. to boil. Keep simmering until mixture reaches setting point. Test by putting tsp of mixture on saucer and cool in freezer. If it sets, its ready, if not keep boiling and testing every 10 minutes. When ready, pour into paper lined rectangular cake tin, do not refrigerate! Cut into squares when set - which means it should be firm when cold and hold its shape - a square of plum paste - not a blob of it!
Speaking of out of control plants - the other thing I planted at the farm in the early days was a single white lotus in the pond behind the house. The first year I had one perfect white flower which bloomed on Xmas Day. What a thrill. The second year, ten. The third year - about fifty and the next year too many to count. They are lovely, but short lived and make great homes for small green tree frogs.

It is not surprising I love vintage things with flowers on them. Nice to bring the garden indoors in our day to day lives.

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