It’s time to come clean. This will be hard for some of you to hear, but it needs to be said. I never thought this would happen. I never thought I’d be saying this, but I can’t deny it anymore.

I’ve found a tomato as good as Brandywine.

I know, I know, you can’t believe I would do something like that. Can’t believe I’d be so unfaithful after decades of tomatoey bliss.

But there you have it. Indigo Apple is my new love. She’s a black tomato—a beautiful medium-sized fruit on an indeterminate plant. Her flavour is complex and rich, like Brandywine’s and, in contrast to Brandywine’s long maturation time, she ripens early. What can I say? I’m in love.

Good Mum, Bad Mum

It rained all day today, as it did yesterday, and as it’s supposed to do tomorrow. The weather is fine by me–plenty of water for the garden, and I have lots of writing to do–but for the kids, three days of rain in the middle of the summer is hard to manage.

What can a mum do under these circumstances, but bake, and enlist the kids’ help? So we made soft pretzels and zucchini cupcakes (see previous blog post). It doesn’t take all day, now the kids are teens, but it gave them something to do for a little while, and treats to eat afterwards.

I felt like such a good mum…

Then I thought about the fact I let my kids eat soft pretzels, pickles and brie for lunch, with a big frosted cupcake afterwards (not to mention licking the bowl and beaters).

Such a bad mum!

All those times we’ve fed our children healthy, balanced meals…you know what they’re going to remember? Yep. Pretzels and pickles for lunch.

I know this, because the meals I most vividly remember my mother making when I was a kid were the naughty ones–hot apple pie with milk (for dinner–the whole meal!) and raspberry shortcake (again, the entirety of the meal). Those meals were legendary, precisely because they weren’t healthy and balanced. They were naughty and we knew it.

Such a bad mum!

Such a good mum!

A Zucchini Problem

Hi. My name is Robinne and I have a zucchini problem.

They say the first step is to acknowledge you have a problem. I did that years ago with my zucchini addiction, but it doesn’t seem to have helped. Every year, I say I’m going to plant fewer zucchini. But in early July, with icy rain lashing the windows, the pictures in the seed catalogue are so alluring…

When it comes to planting time in October, I find I have four or five varieties of zucchini seed—how did that happen? Well, since I have the seed…

I plant only six of each variety—I use those little six-pack seedling trays, so it’s really the minimum reasonable number of any one variety.

Let’s see…six times four or five…hmmm…

At plant-out, I swear I’ll cull some. I’ll only plant the best-looking individuals of each variety. Two of each kind, just in case one plant dies (which, by the way, has never happened to me, but it’s always a risk).

But I’ve earmarked an entire bed for zucchini on my garden plan. I couldn’t leave part of a bed empty. That would be a waste of space. And there are plenty of plants to fill the bed…

As I say, I have a zucchini problem.

Master Chef Sedgemere

An every-day artful display of dinner ingredients.

My husband had just finished making pesto for our dinner pasta. He turned and surveyed the vegetables I’d chopped: yellow and green zucchini, three colours of green beans, baby carrots, fresh peas…

He laughed. “We live in a cooking show sometimes.”

“Yeah, like, every day around five o-clock,” I answered.

I exaggerated, of course, but only slightly. With a garden that produces beautiful vegetables year-round, how can we not end up with beautiful spreads of food in the kitchen every day?

So, hurray for the garden! All we need now is the camera crew…

Kitchen Fumble

I had collected the day’s eggs and was putting them away when one leapt from my hand in a doomed bid for freedom.

My daughter watched it happen. We looked at one another and giggled.

We’re accustomed to kitchen disasters at our house. We spend so much time cooking, preserving, and processing vegetables, we’re bound to make messes.

There have been truely memorable ones…

There was the day I baked a quiche for dinner. When it was done, I pulled out the oven rack the quiche was on, and the quiche slid off the rack and flew out of the oven and onto the floor, pie and broken glass everywhere, and dinner ruined.

There was the time a bag full of several kilos of popcorn tipped over, sending thousands of little corn kernels bouncing and rolling across the kitchen floor.

Probably the most spectacular was a brewing mishap. My husband started a batch of beer, tucked the brewing bucket into a corner of the dining room and, and then went away for a week to a conference.

Two days later, I noticed the lid of the bucket was bulging. I knew it shouldn’t be doing that. I stepped over to the bucket and leaned down to see what was wrong.

With a boom, the bucket exploded into my face. Pressurised beer sprayed across the entire room, the ceiling, and me.

I stood gaping and dripping for a moment before bursting out laughing. What else could I do? It took ages to clean up the mess. By the end, I was grumbling more than laughing. Turns out the airlock had gotten clogged. I rigged up a makeshift airlock that could handle the very active fermentation. My husband came home eventually. The beer was none the worse for the excitement.

So the egg taking a dive onto the floor was nothing, really. It could have been a whole lot worse.

Double Cherry Pie

I picked eight cups of cherries from our tiny sour cherry tree the other day. I was thrilled I’d gotten enough for two pies from a tree not much taller than me! I decided to make them all up into pie filling—I’d make one pie right away, and freeze half for later.

But when it came to filling the pie dough, I poured all eight cups in! Yikes! There was no way to take it back out, and I knew it was going to boil over and be a disaster in the oven.

I shrugged—nothing to do but see what happened—and slipped the pie into the oven (with a tray beneath it to catch drips.

An hour later, I pulled the most glorious pie out of the oven…

It had dripped a little, but no more than every other cherry pie I’d ever made.

And it looked plump and delicious. Each slice was thick and wonderfully overloaded with fruit. Truely decadent!

I’m not sure I’d recommend making a pie with eight cups of cherries—it really could end up a disaster in the oven—but it certainly was a delicious mistake.

The Things We Do for Love

I’m not fond of pickled onions.

To be fair, I haven’t tried pickled onions since I was a kid, so who knows what I think of them today.

But I would never have planted, watered, and weeded pickling onions; I would never have spent a day prepping, brining and canning them for myself. 

No, all that work was for my son. 

He’s never had pickled onions, but I think he will adore them. He eats the garlic cloves from the bottom of the dill pickle jars, and loves onions in every form. 



So the pickled onions are for him. I’ll be curious to try them myself—maybe I’ll like them, too. Seeing how pretty they are in the jars, I wouldn’t mind an excuse to make them again next year.