Our First Long Table Lunch and a Delish Mushroom and Barley Salad Recipe

                                                                                All Images Supplied Thanks To @sophie_iam

On a sun-shiny day in November, Settler & Sons really came to fruition for the first time. Our first Long Lunch gathering was held on the banks of the Glenpatrick Creek with thirty six guests joining us under the open blue skies of our home, Ballakaye. And wasn't it a cracker! 

Our amazing company arrived at 12 noon and was met with a chilled glass of local Pyrenees sparkling rosé under the much appreciated shade of a sprawling grey gum. Soon after, we took the short stroll through the paddock to our long table beside the creek.

We we're lucky enough to have super fun wine guy, Brad, from Summerfield Wines waiting behind the bar with a range of beautiful tastings from the winery's collection. Summerfields is a local Pyrenees winery rated as Five Stars for 2017 by James Haliday, so whilst all their wine was naturally amazing, the hit of the day was without doubt the Back Block Sparkling Shiraz. Served chilled, it went down a treat on a 33 degree day! 

The wine accompanied share boards piled high with fresh fig, dates, strawberries, quince paste, Istra proccuito, Salt Kitchen Ham, Mount Zero Olives, Goldfields Farmhouse cheese and much, much more.  

Once everyone had really settled in, lunch was served. Our slow cooked Settler & Sons Pastured Berkshire Pork sat alongside a salad of Roast Beetroot, Lentil, Pea, Meredith Goats Fetta and Walnut, a moorish Mushroom and Barley salad starring the most divine blue tinged oyster mushrooms from Goldfields Gourmet Mushrooms (recipe at the end of this post!), fresh lettuce for some crunch and oozy, golden, baked ricotta and spinach. We sourced loads of fresh ingredients from the kitchen garden (I was shelling peas from the garden at 2 am Sunday morning!) and as much of the other produce as locally as possible. 

The afternoon finished with a Grounded Pleasures Seven Spice Shri Lankan Chai Meringue topped with an Orange Marscarpone, a Fresh Fig and an Orange and Kangaroo Hill Honey syrup. YUM.  

After lunch, many retreated to the shady creek bank, glass of wine in hand to lap up the great company and gorgeous scenery. 

Thank You to all that supported us for our very first event. You came along full of enthusiasm and encouragement which radiated throughout the day. The vibe was magic and we can't wait to do it all again. Bring on Feb 25th for our Long Table Dinner!  

Mushroom and Barley Salad

(Adapted from Community by Hetty McKinnon)

Serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 cup of uncooked pearl barley

500g of Mushrooms, roughly sliced or broken up depending on size (use whatever variety is in season and delicious!)

100g Butter

2 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3-4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

1 cup of Flat Leaf Parsley, roughly chopped

200g of Danish Fetta 

A good handful (is this even a real measurement?!) of Slivered Almonds

Olive Oil 

Fresh Lemon Juice, Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Cook the Pearl Barley according to packet instructions. 1 cup of uncooked Barley will yield 3-4 cups of cooked Barley.

Place the butter, garlic, thyme and mushrooms in a large frying pan over medium heat.

Fry, mixing often, until the mushrooms are golden, soft and buttery.  

Add together the cooked mushrooms, cooked barley and chopped parsley, then mix to combine.

Season with Salt and Pepper and add fresh Lemon Juice, to taste. 

Arrange on a beautiful serving dish and top with a drizzle of Olive Oil, crumbled Danish Fetta and Slivered Almonds. 

Serve warm or cool.

Best enjoyed when shared with loved ones.  

Veggie Patches 101 for the Impatient Gardener

I'm impatient. Like, crazy impatient. Luckily though, I'm stubborn enough to see most things through.

So, when I decided I needed more space to grow more veggies, I wasn't going to wait around for my Husband to build more raised beds at his own leisure (I say that like he doesn't work 14 hour days!).

I needed something now. Or preferably, yesterday. 

So, I did what any pro gardener would do and Googled it...

Getting started in growing your own food or expanding your productive garden doesn't have to be complicated. These beds were quick and easy to build and can be made in any shape and size from readily available and reasonably cheap materials.

I used to dream of perfectly manicured English style formal gardens. Then we had kids and got chooks and pigs and a life in general; all things that do not mix well with tidy perfection as many will know. Now my pinterest is filled with rambling edible forests with wonky lines and no particular colour scheme.

The experience of growing our own food has been so fulfilling; the freshness and flavour is unbeatable, I know where our food comes from and its environmental impact, but the main benefit has come in the form of quality time spent as a family. We've spent hours with the sun warming our backs and dirt under our nails in our kitchen garden and the kids are never happier. The boys dangle their bare feet off the edge of the veggie patch with the juice of red ripe tomatoes picked straight off the bush running down their little chins. They know the role of bees and worms and the importance of water and sunlight. It's the bliss of my childhood lived in the garden with my Pop all over again, and its magic.

Anyway, within ten minutes of skimming over the results of my "Instant veggie patch" search, here's what I came up with;

1. Choose a nice sunny spot.

 Tick. We chose a nice North facing slope that had a few straggly fruit trees barely visible amongst the Marshmallow weed. 

The site was like a jungle after all the rain we've had so I mowed a small patch to get me started (I know the photos don't look mowed but this was the best we could do in a 6 foot jungle X wetland- we then rolled down the hill and got bogged).

 

2. Weeds are the enemy . 

The local pub donated all their unsold newspapers to our war against weeds; we put a 3-4 thick layer of overlapping paper down where the beds were to go. The idea is the grass and weeds will be smothered out by the newspaper.  

Hot Tip: slightly damp paper is way easier to work with, especially if there's a breeze.

 

3. Build your soil. 

The newspaper layer was covered in a 4-6 inch deep layer of straw then topped with some sheep manure and blood and bone. 

Finally, a 4-6 inch layer of rich, organic compost was added and Hey Presto! We had a new veggie patch ready to plant directly into.

 

 

We fitted some weeping irrigation pipe for easy and efficient watering and placed poly tunnels over the beds to protect the seedlings from the last of the spring frosts. 

I expect the quality and productivity of these beds to improve over time as the different layers of organic matter decompose and mix together to form really beautiful, fertile soil. More compost will be added to the beds as time goes on to keep building the soil profile. 

It shouldn't be too long before our instant, no dig garden beds are producing abundant amounts of delicious food for our family and long lunches

But for now, its all about the sun on our backs, the dirt under our nails and a little bit of patience...