Ajwaini King Prawns

King Prawns tossed with carom seeds, coriander and cumin served with char-grilled orange slices

Sometimes the land yields more than you put in....

Just picked field mushrooms from a trail en route to the cow paddock. Delicious sauted in a little butter and garlic and served with a juicy barbecued steak.

The veggie seeds were finally sown and then we went back to Sydney for two weeks leaving them in the care of hungry hares, curious kangaroos and the thousands of field mice. After all the hard work to get them in, did they make it???

Notes from diary Late October 2008. The suspense I feel is so great I don’t even unpack. I need to see what's happening down in the veggie patch. A sigh of relief - it’s not too bad. The watering sprays didn’t cover some areas of the beds so seeds there haven’t germinated, but I have plenty of healthy looking seedlings. The peas and beans are peeking through but only about half of the dozen or so sweet corn have appeared. This isn’t so good. Sweet corn is wind pollinated so needs to be planted in blocks of at least 16 plants for optimum fertilisation. I was pushing it with 12. Pumpkins are looking good so is everything else that managed to germinate. No sign of the aubergines and the one half of a bed that I sowed carrot seed in is totally bare. Carrots do take time to germinate but I’m not sure if they’ve germinated and died due to lack of water or if they haven’t germinated yet. So I sow some more carrot seed just in case, and some more aubergine.

I make some manure tea (for the veggies, not the husband) by mixing some prized cow manure that we risked our lives retrieving from the cow paddock with water and letting it stand overnight. I water everything with a diluted mix of this every 3 days or so. I also douse the the rapidly growing plants with some seaweed extract.

The fencer hasn’t called with the quote. I ring another one that is recommended by a neighbour and leave a message, but he doesn’t call back. There's nothing else for it but to do it oursleves. After a determined trip to the hardware my ever suffering husband carts several star pickets, a star picket driver, and a huge roll of rabbit wire down to the vegetable site and we make a temporary but hopefully effective fence, around the 4 beds. Surely there are fencers in Orange that actually want work! I suspect there are and eventually we’ll find one, but for now this will have to do.

4 of the raised beds are fenced in to keep the hares out. Hopefully the kangaroos will be disinterested

By the time we leave everything (except for the carrots and aubergines) is growing beautifully. Some more sweet corn has appeared and the zucchini, peas and beans have unfurled their tender leaves, shedding the seed casings they’ve been clinging onto like umbilical cords. It’s an inspirational sight– the emergence of healthy, vibrant, bright new life. It’s incredible that these little morsels of life will grow into such a diverse range of edible, nourishing and in some cases, very large plants and fruits, and in an amazingly short time.

And the mushrooms are a tasty and unexpected bonus!

Back in Sydney, I’ve taken to checking the weather in Orange at least once daily, sometimes twice. Particularly the rainfall. Not only because of the trees and veggie garden but because we don’t have town water. We use what my husband calls God’s water. When it rains, our roof harvests the water into the 10,000 litre tank that sits besides the cottage. We have a 100 square metre roof so we collect 100 litres of water for every 1 ml of rain.

Collecting God’s water

The main house will have a 120,000 litre tank and collect 4 times as much, but for now this small tank is serving us well. The weather stations show we’re having good rains, but it’s turned unseasonably cold and Orange has had hail. Maybe we didn’t get it on Mount Sugarloaf because we are 100m lower than Orange and the temperature is generally 2°C higher. Oh dear!

Lets eat:

Ajwaini King Prawns

Ajwaini King Prawns is an impressive dish that is bursting with flavour. It is delicately yet distinctly spiced with the unique flavour of carom seeds and the tangy sweetness of the orange.

Serves 4

Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes including marinating time

16 king prawns
1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp of turmeric
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp of finely chopped coriander
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp of salt
Zest of half an orange
1 orange, sliced

  • Shell and de-vein the prawns leaving the tail intact. Rinse under cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Mix all the remaining ingredients, except for the sliced orange, in a non-ceramic bowl and add the prawns. Stir to coat and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
  • Heat a griddle or heavy based frying pan large enough to take the prawns in a single layer.
    Stir the salt into the prawns cook them over medium heat for about 5 minutes, turning once or twice.
  • Meanwhile, char grill the orange slices for a minute each side.
  • Serve prawns with a green salad, the char grilled orange slices and coriander and mint drizzle.

Coriander and Mint drizzle

Take a handful of fresh coriander and mint, 1 or two green chillies, juice of a lemon, 1 tsp of caster sugar and salt and pepper to taste, and place in a blender.

Blend until smooth. Store in the fridge for up to 24 hours.