Gardening Inspiration

goat cheese and shallot tart

It’s so good to be writing here again after an extended break. Our busy time on the farm has ebbed and I finally have time to chronicle our adventures.

Last weekend we were still basking in the novelty of rain when it was time for the monthly meeting of my beloved produce swap group.

Every month we meet at someone’s garden or a local cafe for morning tea, lots of visiting, and a swap of homegrown produce, homemade goodies, and an assortment of seedlings, cuttings, and plants.

pink lilies

I never fail to return home inspired. I love seeing how other people garden, what fruits, veggies, and flowers they’ve got, how they mulch and feed, and what they make with the things they’ve grown.

raised garden bed

And I especially love having good heart-to-heart chats with friends I often only see at these events. It’s so good to get caught up on children and grand-children, pets and spouses, jobs and health, crafts and books, and anything else that comes into our heads to chat about.

stump filled with flowers

We always go home with a myriad of treasures, and this time was no different. I returned to our farm with cosmos, alyssum, eggplants, and tomatoes ready to plant in my gardens, fresh eggs, fat beetroots, and berry bushes and herbs from my friend Kathy’s home-grown shop, Pots of Herbs and Punnets of Seedlings. Such richness!

I also came away with a recipe for exquisitely delicious Goat Cheese and Shallot Tarts by Mary Berry. Kathy made them and we all swooned over the buttery walnut-studded pastry and sweet onion-y filling. Delicious!

goat cheese and shallot tart

Where do you go for inspiration for your home, kitchen, or garden? xo

Goats’ Cheese and Shallot Tarts

by Mary Berry 


For the pastry:

175g/6oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g/3½oz cold butter, cubed
1 free-range egg, beaten
30g/1oz walnuts, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

1 tbsp oil
500g/1lb 2oz banana shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
300g/10½oz soft goats’ cheese
2 free-range eggs, beaten
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Put a large baking tray in the oven to heat up.
2. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and a little salt into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, place in a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Add the beaten egg and a tablespoon water and mix until a ball of dough is formed.
3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough thinly (about 3mm/⅛in thick). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the pastry. Cover with cling film and roll over the cling film to press the nuts into the pastry. Cut out 8 large circles using a pastry cutter or saucer as a guide and line the Yorkshire pudding tins. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
4. Heat the oil in a lidded frying pan, add the shallots and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the shallots are dark brown and caramelised. Set aside to cool.
5. Put the goats’ cheese, beaten eggs and half the parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until smooth.
Prick the bases of the chilled tart cases all over with a fork, then spoon in the shallot mixture. Pour the goats’ cheese mixture over the shallots.
Slide the tins onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and the filling is just set and golden-brown. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve warm or cold.

Old Wood Beauties on the Farm

wood burned spatula

I love the look of old, weathered wood and we have lots of it on our goat farm. From fence posts and fallen logs to stacks of firewood and wooden pallets.

It makes such a beautiful background for all sorts of things.

Gorgeous feathers I found in the farm yard. I think the pink one is from the galahs nesting in the gum tree above our goat pen and the blue ones could be from lorikeets or blue wrens. I think they’re wonderful.

tropical feathers

Sneaky bits of green underbrush growing up through pallet boards look quite marvelous against the aged timber.

weathered boards

And wildflowers picked while out with the goats don’t need a vase when they’re piled atop a gnarled old fence post.

purple flowers on old wood

This past week I’ve been working with bits of new wood as well, etching designs on a new range of spatulas for my Etsy shop. I love burning in swirling vines and clusters of berries onto simple wood handles. Using them in my daily cooking makes even bowl-scraping a pleasure.

wood burned spatula

No matter what I’m doing on the farm these days, feeding animals or burning new pieces of art, I love getting to the end of the day and standing in awe of whatever fabulous display the clouds decide to put on.

It does my heart good.

windmill at sunset

What is your favorite time of day at your house?

Spring Rains on the Farm and Gluten Free Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel

gluten free apple pie

Storm clouds rolled in this morning bringing with them deliciously cool breezes that were a welcome respite from the sultry heat of the last couple of days.

stormy Queensland sky

Anticipating imminent rain, Luna and I herded the goats out into the fields for their daily feed. They were ravenous and as they noshed on grasses and wildflowers, Luna and I sat in our own daisy-filled patch of grass and watched the darkening skies.

cattle dog in field

It’s so peaceful out there, especially when the goats are happy eating and not conspiring among themselves to make a bid for freedom to the neighbors paddocks.

daisies and gum boots

You see all sorts of things when you’re sitting in the grass instead of walking through it: mice and lizards scurrying into the undergrowth, the tiniest of wildflowers, and interesting vines and bushes.

field undergrowth

The fields are full of what looks and smells like wild fennel. I will have to find a local to go foraging with me to see what they think.

wild fennel

I got the goats back to their pen just as the heavens opened and the rain started to fall. After the dry heat of the last weeks, it was marvelous to get thoroughly drenched as I tossed feed and escorted various beasties into their pens.

I checked on my kitchen garden – the one where I have most of my herbs and seedlings – and it is coming along beautifully. The black beans I planted that survived the ravaging of some bird or other, are growing marvelously. I’ve never seen a black bean plant before, so I’m excited to see how they turn out. The lupines are also coming along, as are the Roma tomatoes, chilies, and a few seedlings I can remember planting. :-)

rainy garden

Nasturtiums are always extra beautiful in the rain. When the blinding sun is upon them, they look rather glaring themselves, but in the cooling rain, they glow instead of glare.

rain on nasturtium leaves

This is the second year for this strawberry plant and it is going great guns!! It was so nice to come in out of the rain and tuck into a small collection of beautifully ripe strawberries fresh off the plant.

rain-washed strawberries

As promised in my last gluten-free holiday recipe post, here is the gluten free apple pie I made for Canadian Thanksgiving. It is the result of not having enough of, well, ANYTHING! :-) I had enough gluten-free puff pastry for one crust, not two, a few apples but not enough for a whole pie, and nothing to put in top…or so I thought.

Scouring my freezer I found a stash of plump raisins, half a bag of walnuts, and a bag of brown sugar. Phew! All was not lost.

I sauteed apple slices in butter, coconut oil, and  brown sugar until they were beautifully browned and caramelized, then added raisins and a scattering of cinnamon and nutmeg. I pressed the gluten-free puff pastry into a deep casserole dish, piled in the apple raisin mixture and then made a delectable streusel topping with chopped walnuts, butter, and brown sugar. I baked the whole thing for 35 minutes and when it came out? Oh my. The filling was buttery and slightly sweet topped with an exquisitely crunchy streusel with a heavenly combination of toasted nuts and caramelized brown sugar. Swoon. All it needed was a drizzle of cream and the assembled diners were happy campers indeed.

gluten free apple pie

It may have been a slap-dash affair to begin with, but it is now my hands down favorite holiday pie.

What is your favorite kind of pie?

Gluten-free Apple Pie with Walnut Streusel


1 sheet gluten-free puff pastry, thawed
4-6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
1 cup raisins
1-2 cups chopped walnuts
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F/200 C.
  2. Press puff pastry into deep dish round casserole. Set aside.
  3. In saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and coconut oil, add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Cook, stirring regularly, until apples are browned and sauce is smooth and caramelized.
  4. Stir in raisins and simmer until plump and soft.
  5. Pour mixture into pie crust and set aside.
  6. In small bowl mix together walnuts, melted butter and brown sugar until well combined.
  7. Scatter evenly over top of pie.
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until topping and crust are browned.
  9. Serve warm with cream.

New Baby Goat and Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole

cuddling baby goat

I was out feeding the Kalahari goats yesterday when I noticed that one of the mamas was a whole lot skinnier than she had been that morning. Sure enough, over by the shed, was this pretty little girl newly born.

new baby goat

My buddy Tony was SO excited to pet her. :-)

little boy with goat

She is a bit shy when humans get too close, but if you hold her snuggly so she feels safe and warm, she calms right down.

shy baby goat

She is a gorgeous little thing with interesting markings on her face and hooves that set her apart from all the others.

cuddling baby goat

She is doing so well, already nursing and standing up without falling over too often.

Kalahari kid nursing

This afternoon she met her older sister…and was promptly head-butted for her troubles.

goats butting heads

Thankfully she had some much kinder visitors, namely the other Kalahari kids who now look positively enormous next to her tiny self.

Kalahari babies

After all that socializing it was time for a rest and some nuzzling from mom.

Mother goat nuzzling baby

I know just how she feels. :-)

Last week was one of the busiest we’ve had in recent memory, culminating in Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner with dear friends on Friday night.

It was the first time I’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner all by myself, and definitely the first time I needed to make it gluten-free. At first I felt quite overwhelmed, but I tackled one recipe at a time, figuring out good substitutions, and finally everything was ready.

We had such a great time. :-) I couldn’t find a turkey so we celebrated with crispy roast chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, dilled carrots and peas, and my very favorite Thanksgiving staple: gluten-free green bean casserole.

This dish ranks right near the top of comfort foods, but the original is made with canned mushroom soup (gluten) and crispy fried onions (gluten) and I can’t eat it without getting very sick. So I made mine with a double garlic cream sauce thickened with cornstarch (you can also thicken it with chia seeds if you can’t have corn). I topped it with a combination of gluten-free crispy fried onions and gluten-free crispy fried garlic from an Asian market.

It was absolutely fantastic.

In fact, I’d say that it is far and away better than the original. That thrills me no end. :-) Eating healthy is hard enough around the holidays. I’m so thrilled that with a bit of creativity I was able to make one of my holiday favorites gluten-free.

gluten free green bean casserole

Next time I’ll tell you about my gluten-free Apple Raisin Pie with Walnut Streusel.

What is your favorite holiday comfort food?

Gluten-Free Triple Garlic Green Bean Casserole


4 cans green beans, drained
2 cups milk (or nut milk)
3-4 Tbsp cornstarch (if you can’t have corn, replace with chia seeds. Stir into milk and let it thicken 20-30 minutes before stirring in remaining ingredients.)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp crispy fried garlic (look at Asian specialty shops for ones made without flour)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup crispy fried onions (look at Asian specialty shops for ones made without flour)
1/2 cup crispy fried garlic (look at Asian specialty shops for ones made without flour)


  1. Dump beans into large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pour milk into saucepan and whisk in cornstarch, 2 Tbsp crispy fried garlic, sea salt, and minced garlic until cornstarch is incorporated.
  3. Place over medium high heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Let boil 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and pour over green beans.
  5. Pour into 9” by 13” casserole and smooth top.
  6. Sprinkle evenly with crispy fried onions and garlic.
  7. Bake at 375 F/200 C for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  8. Serve warm.


Kalahari Kids and Lemony Potato Salad

Kalahari kids

We’ve had some crazy weather around here lately. One day it’s so hot you don’t want to budge and the next it’s so cold and windy that you’re huddling under a blanket half the morning. At least we’re never bored!

After giving the paddocks a two week rest over the holidays, the goats are back out in the fields, noshing on lush green grass and flowers.

The Kalahari and Boer kids are loving it! They’re big enough now that they are venturing out past the driveway and into the long grasses. The mamas take turns watching over them, giving each other breaks from baby-sitting duties.

cute baby goat

The fields still look brown on top, but underneath is lush vegetation and a myriad of wildflowers.

tiny morning glories

I love watching the kids as they tuck in, eating great mouthfuls of green grass before popping up for a look see around the fields.

cute Kalahari goat

They love hanging out with each other and even if the mothers wander off without them, they stick together like the best of friends.

Kalahari kids

I love how curious they are getting. Instead of running off in a fright at anything that startles them, the stop awhile and give things a good look. THEN they leap in the air and run like greased lightning.

Kalahari kid

I’ve been living on potato salad the past few days. It’s so easy to make ahead and keep cool in the fridge, and is really nice to have on hand for busy days gardening, feeding, and watering. The lemony dressing is full of fresh green parsley, capers, and garlic that make it light and zesty. For a bit of protein I slice boiled duck eggs on top and they are scrumptious.

lemony potato salad

What is your favorite make ahead food for busy days?