So this has happened…
I now, thanks to my gorgeous husband and our first anniversary, have this in my kitchen. I’m predicting a full freezer, sticky cupboards and a few extra kgs occurring over the next few months. The ice cream obsessing is in full force. So far my list of flavours I want to concoct is…
- Brown butter and Praline almond ice cream
- Pistachio gelato
- Green tea ice cream
- Strawberry and balsamic ice cream
- Banana/Mango/fruit anything gelato
- Salted caramel ice cream
- Rhubarb ice cream
- The ultimate chocolate gelato
What other flavours should I add to the list? Also, Ive taken it for a test run with a simple vanilla bean which was yum when first out of the machine, but frozen it’s kind of crumbly. Anyone know why?
So, I built a brick wall and I’m incredibly proud of myself! I love old brick landscaping in gardens, along with lavender muddled in with shaggy herbs and structured hedging. This would some up my outdoor style quite well. Though we need more lawn for Oatis to scamper around on and are far from picturesque just yet. Here is our backyard covered in snow shortly after we moved in mid 2012 and looking function but not overly inviting.So the first thing we tackled was planting fruit trees so they could start to establish themselves. We now have two pears being espaliered along the grey brick wall and a pair of dwarf peaches that are excellent fruiters, though the damn leaf curl keeps attacking them. We also pulled out the inherited dog run (Oatis was far from impressed with it and has a doggie door to the garage so he can hang out in there instead) and park bench. After which, we were left with a bare patch and ugly green fence that I had big plans for, and so started the brick hoarding…
But while I was hoarding bricks, Brad got sick of our ugly wonky path to the garage and I came outside one morning to find him half way through re-laiding the pavers stepping stone style, which gives the illusion of a larger lawn. Yay!
Then it was time for some wall antics. I collected bricks that were hiding under the dog run and scattered around the house, plus a few extras from one of my new favourite places, Musgroves. The plan was for an old fashioned, rustic brick wall. Very old english garden which I LOVE, and not suburban cookie cutter brick which I HATE. It needed character, mossy chipped bricks and a few flaws. Also, just as a side note; this is definitely not a tutorial on how to build a brick wall, more an antidotal account that you may follow at your own risk. Brickies, I apologies in advance, please avert your eyes.
Firstly, I knew I needed a level surface so I dug a small trench where I wanted my wall. Brad, then suggested I also lay a mowing strip, which I cursed about (while secretly realising it was a brilliant plan) then dug a bigger, deeper, wider trench procrastinatingly over a few weeks. Once my trench was done, I half filled it with builder’s sand and levelled the base. I then lay my mowing strip so the top of the bricks were flush with where the lawn would be. I used a scrap of jib to give set spaces between the bricks. Then I probably should have laid concrete and lifted and re-laid the bricks etc. Instead, I figured my brick wall wasn’t a height risk and my bricks were so straight and level and awesome I didn’t want to move them so I filled the gaps with mortar and gloried in my super cool mowing strip.
Next step, was to use builder’s sand to build my trench up to almost the top of the brick strip (I wanted a slight lip so my wall couldn’t tip forward due to concrete short cutting). I did the same lay, space, fill gaps with mortar blasphemy as with the strip. Then, I put on my bricky hat and starting laying the next two layers of my brick wall properly(with a short trip to Musgroves for more bricks when I decided I wanted it 3 layers high instead of two. I mortared, laid 3-4 bricks, then went back and wiped any excess mortar off with a damp sponge, pointing as I did so. I would usually wipe, rinse, wipe, in order to get all the mortar residue off. Due, to all my brick being secondhand and collected, occasionally the sizing would mean I needed to use a part brick to realign my brick pattern, which was a little grrr. I am super happy with the result though, I feel like it has that ‘always been there’ look and blends nicely with the age of the house and brick wall at the front. I’ve planted it with white Camellias and am hoping to pleach them to create an upper hedge like this. With a grey Teucrium Fruitcan hedge at the bottom to contrast the dark waxy green of the Camillia leaves and the Boxus. All in all, it should be much more exciting to look at than the corrugated iron fence. Fingers crossed everything lives!
Our strawberry patch is a total overachiever. Especially this summer. Last spring (2012) we moved and replanted about 10 plants into the vegetable garden and they plugged away producing nice juicy sweet strawberry snacks and getting sporadic strawberry feed as a reward. But after settling into their new spot with the help of a big shady rhubarb plant, they have gone berserk this spring/summer. I gave them some extra love this year with regular strawberry feed, and seaweed juice. Plus I tucked them in nice and tight with strawberry straw to help keep the weeds down (not so successfully) and keep the growing strawberries raised off the soil (very successfully). And considering my ability to fatally neglect most indoor plants, I’m super proud of our little patch that has been pumping out a punnet of strawberries each week throughout the summer.
So I decided to put my new popsicle tray to the test, shamefully, I have had it for over a month, but in my defence, Christchurch has not been playing along with popsicle weather this summer. I got flavour inspiration from The Healthy Apple’s recipe here… It’s full of healthy fresh summer flavours. I tweaked the ingredients and whizzed up a batch. Kinda excited that our garden is getting to the point where all ingredients except the green tea were home grown (honey courtesy of a beekeeping friend).
I loved the flavour but found that the tip (where more of the pulp had settled) was full of flavour and a good texture, but it got a touch more watery and icy further down. So for round two, I tweaked some more, took out some of the water content and added a dash of vodka so it doesn’t freeze as solidly. And then because I can’t help myself. I split the batch after it was blended (before adding the vodka and basil) and heated half of it until boiling (my thinking behind this was to better dissolve the sugar as it is the sugar that helps it have a softer freeze).
These popsicles are amazing, full of flavour with a softer bite than most homemade popsicles. The strawberries and basils are the star flavours, with the others milling around in the background adding a bit of body. Personally, I love the fresh flavours of the uncooked version and can see these vibrant red sticks of goodness becoming a summer habit (I’m very tempted to up the vodka and make a cocktail slushy version). The popsicles made from the heated mixture, had a sweeter strawberry syrup flavour and would definitely appeal to the kiddies. They also did have the softer texture. Now… what else can I freeze? Any great popsicle ideas out there?
Strawberry and Basil Popsicles
Makes 8 popsicles
Adapted from: The healthy apple
1/2 cup Green tea (brewed very strong)
Juice of 1 Lemon
3-4 Tblsp Honey (adjust based on sweetness of strawberries)
1 Tbsp finely chopped basil
1 Tsp Vodka
Pinch of salt
Brew your green tea (I make mine very strong to give more flavour as I reduced the water amount) and leave to cool.
Combine all ingredients in food processor/blender and whizz until a smooth puree
Pour into popsicle tray (scoop of any froth and fill 5mm from the top) and freeze until hard, approx 6hrs
Dip tray into warm water up to the bottom of the lid to easily release popsicles.
These last about a week, then they can start to get too hard and freezery tasting.
Hint: make sure the popsicle stick are in straight or the lid can be a b…… to get off. There was swearing and stick breaking and more swearing the first time, due to my lopsided sticks.
Following on from this post, I’m trying to take more time to notice the little pockets of love that spring up in life.
So today I’m crushing on a new favourite spot of mine. My bedroom window sill, that has become home to a mini salvaged village, hailing from an old favourite spot of mine, New Regent Street, which has been beautifully restored and repainted and has brought a touch of the old Christchurch back to the inner city, complete with tram.
One new gem found on New Regent is Rekindle. They specialise in upcycling salvaged materials from Christchurch earthquake demos into gorgeous, handmade pieces. Like this rustic little collection that is now hanging out in my little window, looking pretty dandy.
They also have a side table that really wants to come and live with us. Rekindle is a pretty cool social enterprise and part of what I’m loving seeing popping up around our city. More of this and less demolishing of my cathedral and I’ll be happy.