About us

We are two friends, one living in town and one in the country, who love to cook and entertain at home. We share a passion for our gardens and for the easy-going lifestyle of sub-tropical eastern Australia. And, yes, we both have garden ponds teaming with frogs.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

A walk around the garden... to look at lemongrass

Vibrant and vigorous in the right conditions, lemongrass is a well-adapted introduced species. Once established, clumps of lemongrass are flood, fire and drought resistant - making it extremely popular for landscaping as well as in kitchen gardens. It is usually propagated by dividing rooted stems from the large clumps, but also grows easily from seed.
Lemongrass planted 4 months ago from a single stem

But beware! Although an attractive feature plant and essential culinary herb, lemongrass risks becoming an environmental monster. The flowering stems of established lemongrass release hundreds of seeds which have high germination rates. Therefore, cooks who grow lemongrass - especially country cooks and Country Frogs with gardens near waterways and native bushland - need to be diligent about cutting off seed heads before they 'blow'.

This week, down on the farm, I found self-sown lemongrass seedlings growing too close to the creek. So far I’ve pulled out armloads and put it on the burning heap but some of the little guys will become potted plants for friends in town. Contained, lemongrass makes a wonderful feature on a sunny balcony or patio, and its uses in cooking are unlimited.

Stems & leaves in a knot; remove before serving

Try it in sorbet, ice-cream and fruit salad.
Put it in the teapot.
Make it into kebab skewers.
Use in stews, soups, salads. 

And, of course, add lemongrass to curry. Use the soft inner core or, for a stronger flavour, bash the stem to bruise and tie the entire piece into a knot. Best of all, if you have lemongrass to spare, dry it in bundles and twists. These are great for little gifts. 

Ready for the teapot, kebabs or bathtub

Hey-ho, its off to work we go in the country next weekend. The froglets and I have invited ourselves to the farm to help get rid of that pesky lemongrass. Wed love to take some home to make twists for our baths, and to give bundles to cook-friends. And when we finish weeding, we might persuade Country Frog to show us how to make Pan Bread. Fresh warm bread, local cheese and a few home-pickled onions sounds good to me for a working frogs lunch. After lunch wed love to have a paddle in the creek. Town Frog 

Next time: Aussie Drovers Dinner down at the creek.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Lunch in the country

It’s a fine day down in The Valley and our country frog is planning lunch for family members visiting from nearby Brisbane. The old timber picnic table under the jacaranda needs to be cleared...

 … but the barbecue plate has been scraped and oiled, with a little helpful cheering from the onlookers.

It is just a matter now of removing the animals from the house yard where they all seem to be very happy...

... and then to prepare the meal. The chicken has been marinating under a blanket of yellow curry paste and will soon be ready to go on the barbecue with butternut pumpkin and onions.

And when the family arrives, they'll be greeted with a drop of champers and a platter of grilled fruit and vegetables to whet the appetite.

Then, as shadows lengthen and lingering country lunch is over, the guests might take a walk through the gumtrees to look for koalas…

… so that the hardworking clean-up crew can move in and tidy up the lawn.

About the food pictured: On the platter L) to R) is dry-grilled eggplant and red pepper, fresh cucumber, then alternating barbecued white nectarine and fennel bulb.

In the sparkling wine: Fresh-picked rosella hips boiled and preserved in a sugar syrup. Sometimes sold commercially as ‘wild hibiscus flower’, but far cheaper to make at home.

For Yellow Curry Paste recipe, click here. Chicken was barbecued under a hood (an upturned baking dish, in this case); unpeeled sliced pumpkin and ¼ onions were cooked on the BBQ plate 

About the animals: The Red-Neck Wallaby is common in eastern parts of Australia. Usually shy and solitary, they ‘nest’ in thick scrub during the day, coming out to feed at dawn and late afternoon. Our much photographed female, however, was a bottle-raised orphan who does not understand the wild and proper ways of her cousins. Mostly she lives off the land and sometimes does not come home for days, then she will poke along into the house and make camp in a favourite armchair or sprawl out beside the fridge, which she knows contains carrots and apples. During mating time, a big wild buck red-neck often visits, grunting amorously out on the lawn. 

Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Large and graceful, the emblemic kangaroo, is relatively common in cleared grassland that adjoins bush country. These two, a mature female with a youngster in the pouch, and her daughter from a previous year, frequently hop the fence for sweet pickings in the garden. Unlike the red-neck wallaby, eastern greys hang about in large family groups and the rest of this lot, about 20 of them, feed side-by-side with the horses. Safety in numbers, perhaps.

There are two koala colonies on The Farm where open eucalypt forest is recovering after it was virtually clear-felled by timber-getters in the 1960s. Today, this block of country is registered with Land for Wildlife, a government-funded scheme that assists landholders to provide habitat for wildlife through voluntary native flora conservation.

For more on habitat restoration see www.seqcatchments.com.au/LFW.html
For information on sustainable private forest practice visit http://www.privateforestrysthnqld.com.au/

Up a gumtree, safe and sound
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