Even a biodymanics sceptic would have to think twice at Lowe Wines at the moment. Not only is the vintage crew harvesting amazing fruit from completely unirrigated and healthy vines, two days after the first worthwhile rain in months the ground has bounced back with incredible health.
Fresh vine leaf growth, pumpkin flowers and just picked soy beans went into tempura for a starter at Winemakers Table on Saturday. The batter was simply seasoned self raising flour and white wine. A toss up whether it was better with the Riesling or the Pinot Grigio.
Outside the winery the heavily mulched and composted garden is bursting. [The rhubarb and spinach are both getting my standby contents of garden custard tart treatment, the savoury version for vintage lunch today and the rhubarb for Friday tapas]
Still the birds are as hungry as we’ve ever seen them. Ring in crows move about in flocks that blacken the horizon, mostly listening to Lowie’s whispered advice that the neighbour’s grapes are sweeter. In reality the nets on Tinja are all that’s saving much of the fruit from these guys who team up with the starlings and give the native birds hell as well. The person who named a group of crows ‘a murder’ must have been a grapegrower.
While they say a crow can remember a person whose behaviour they don’t like forever, it’s the cockatoos who are currently outwitting us. Not content with just feasting on the hens feed they now fly low under the bottom gate of the chook palace and eat the eggs as the hens lay them in their nesting boxes. Next week Morrie will net the top of the enclosure. This cute little trainer egg from one of the pullets didn’t rate obviously.
There are baby chickens in the chook tractor at the moment. Baggy Pants and Wilma spent three weeks in a trance like state protecting those eggs and look proud as punch with what they produced. In reality if gestation involved these kinds of sacrifices for humans I for one would have made a greater contribution to population control.
[When it looked like the girls weren’t going to hatch out the remaining fertile eggs I popped them amongst newspaper in an electric frypan at home and promptly forgot about them. Alas my incubating efforts were not only fruitless but very smelly when Lowie decided I’d left him breakfast.]
Our apiarist Grahame has been really worried about how hungry the bees are. Even though they can travel up to 7 kms (that’s to town from here) he’s laying off taking any honey as the hives need it all for themselves at the moment. Grahame is also building them little verandas to provide extra protection from the extreme heat.
Hot and cold, wet and dry. Hungry creatures and produce to burst. Even the wisteria is so confused it’s flowering profusely. Thank goodness my job is just to cook, at least in the kitchen everything is as it should be. Pie fixes everything…
Spinach and cheese pie
Combine the following:
- 12 eggs
- 600mls cream
- Several large spinach leaves chopped and blanched
- One large onion, chilli to taste and some garlic sautéed in butter
- Lots of chopped fresh herbs
- Salt and pepper
- Two cups of any sort of cheese
Use as a filling in puff pastry and bake until well browned and just set. I overlap the pastry on the bottom to form a simple partial top, as per the photo.
Alternatively bake without the pastry as a frittata.
Rhubarb custard tart
Combine the following:
- 6 eggs
- 300mls cream
- 1 cup castor or brown sugar
- Dash of vanilla extract of scraped seed pod
Finely chop rhubarb and toss in castor sugar to coat. Place this in the bottom of a pre cooked tart shell and top with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg and bake in moderate oven until custard is set.