What to do with over ripe pears?

Some pears looking to be saved from the worm farm!
Some pears looking to be saved from the worm farm!

What to do with overripe pears? My sister works for Batlow apples, so I am always well supplied with apples and when my son surprised me one day by declaring his love to pears, I inherited a lot of pears. We have slowely been making our way through the pears, but yesterday I noticed a few were looking particularly sad and had been placed in the sink, ready for their journey to the worm farm. But, rather than give these to my worms, much to my children’s chagrin (looking at the worms in my worm farm is like the highlight of their day. They stand there squealing with delight at all the wriggling, squirmy and squishy action!), I decided to ask some friends for ideas on what to do with them. I mean I had no idea for recipes really. Some suggestions that came in were:
– Banana and Pear Loaf;
– Danish; and
– Muffins.

So I decided on a Banana and Pear loaf which my niece and daughter delighted in helping me back. This is the recipe that I followed:

I followed this recipe overall except that I used 2 bananas, used more pear (about 2) by grating them into the ‘wet’ mixture and lastly, I did not add walnuts because my niece is allergic to nuts.
Thank you Alchemy Kitchen (http://www.alchemyinthekitchen.ie/2012/05/banana-pear-and-coconut-loaf-reason-to.html)
Banana, Pear and Coconut Loaf
250g very ripe bananas, mashed (that’s about 3 medium bananas)
100g sunflower oil (or other flavourless cooking oil)
100g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
250g plain flour
50g dessicated shredded coconut (unsweetened)
10g baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 soft sweet ripe pear, such as Rocha, chopped into small pieces
a little butter to grease the loaf tin
1. First, lightly butter and base line a 2 lb loaf tin.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas roughly using a fork or a potato masher. Add the oil and caster sugar and stir together until just combined. Next add the beaten eggs, again stirring until just combined.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt and fold these dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just incorporated and no dry mix remains. (To fold, add dry ingredients to wet and taking a spatula or a metal spoon, cut through the centre of the batter. Move the spatula or spoon across the bottom of the bowl, and back up the side and across the top bringing some of the cake mixture from bottom to top. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keep folding the mixture and turning the bowl until the dry ingredients are incorporated into the batter. Folding avoids overworking the batter, giving a tender crumb in the finished loaf.) Finally, mix in the chopped pear, making sure it is well-distributed throughout the mixture.
4. Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for about 50 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. A cocktail stick inserted in the centre should come out clean. If there is batter clinging to it, pop the loaf back in the oven for a further 10 minutes then test again. Leave to cool in the tin. While you can eat it straight away, this cake is best wrapped in cling film and left for 24 hours before eating. A wonderful alchemy takes place and it becomes more banana-y, pear-y and utterly delicious.

In the oven
In the oven
Yummo!We did not wait 24 hours to enjoy this treat!
Yummo!We did not wait 24 hours to enjoy this treat!

Organic garden winter wonderland

I loved creating my veggie patch in my backyard last year. Over summer I had many days filled with wonder at what was growing in my backyard. It was also a great opportunity to get my children involved and help them learn about where their food comes from. Also it was a cheap way of eating organic!

My daughter watering her plants
My daughter watering her plants

But alas, summer is definitely over in Sydney and many of my summer veggies were removed to make way for winter ones. After a little research on what winter vegetables exist and what would grow in my garden I came up with my list of goodies:
• Carrots;
• Beetroot;
• Kale;
• Turnips;
• Spinach;
• Spring onion, onion;
• Snowpeas;
• Lots of herbs!
Well the list is not as impressive as my summer vegetables, but given the number of things I was growing, I am trying to be more sensible and scale things back a little.
To prepare I visited my compost which has been slowly composting vegetation and food waste. I saw slowly because I have left it to mature for many many months. It is taking a long time because it is completely shaded, hence once I use the compost I want to move my compost bin to a sunnier area.
This addition of compost was obviously good for my plants, but I think that there were seeds that had not died off, so my veggie path became overrun with weeds like onion weed. This has become confusing, as I don’t know if any of my onions/ spring onions grew at all. When they are little, they look the same I think!
I am also trying to get a double benefit in planting some snow peas in all my garden beds. I am hoping that they will add some beneficial nitrogen fixing bacteria to my soil in preparation for my summer crop.

My blueberry plant. I have some planted in the ground, but don't think they are in the ideal spot, so I am trying to grow one in a pot. Let's see how I go
My blueberry plant. I have some planted in the ground, but don’t think they are in the ideal spot, so I am trying to grow one in a pot. Let’s see how I go

A very old lemon tree that just keeps on giving.  maybe it was a little bit of the love I gave it over summer, but the crop this year is A LOT better than last year. Much juicier.
A very old lemon tree that just keeps on giving. maybe it was a little bit of the love I gave it over summer, but the crop this year is A LOT better than last year. Much juicier.

My special looking carrots, but damn they taste good!
My special looking carrots, but damn they taste good!

I planted my beetroot in summer and let me tell you, I don’t know what the problem is, but honestly it is taking SO long for them to grow. I mean they’ve been there for like 6 months and all I feel is a little bulb!
My carrots however are a delight. I am so in love with my carrots! I am like a super excited child when I pull and a big (if somewhat strange looking at times) carrot comes out. And the smell, oh the smell. If you were to see me, I am sure you would think me strange, but the smell of carrot taken straight out of the ground is so beautiful. When I do pull them out, I just stand there inhaling their aroma!

My ever slow growing beetroot, though I do at least pick the leaves off sometimes and include them in salads.
My ever slow growing beetroot, though I do at least pick the leaves off sometimes and include them in salads.

Snowpeas
Snowpeas

Tomatoes and nasturtium growing side by side.
Tomatoes and nasturtium growing side by side.

Fresh dill...grown from seed. It took a while but it got there.
Fresh dill…grown from seed. It took a while but it got there.
Kale
Kale

Turnip in the ground. I never knew it would have such a large amount of foliage.
Turnip in the ground. I never knew it would have such a large amount of foliage.

Turnip out of the ground. It tasted really good in my soup.
Turnip out of the ground. It tasted really good in my soup.

My other vegetables are growing well too and it is only last week that I removed my tomatoes. What a good crop they were. They became like a baby to my mum and I, but especially my mum who tended to them every day. So many tomatoes grew, but towards the end, they would stay green and not ripen. So I am preparing for my summer season of tomatoes.
Who knew that I would have so much winter heartiness and delicious veggies growing in the colder months! Do you have any suggested winter vegetables that I should try?