Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My but its been a long time......

My but its been a long time since I have been here. So much has been going on in my life that I have had little time to sit and think....let alone put those thoughts into words. So what has been happening!

On the garden front, the "Great wall of Bellavista" was finished. We have used the space to grow potatoes, lettuce (mainly used for feeding the chooks) and some late cabbages, some eggplants and chillies. There is still work to be done but its definitely looking good.

All the raised garden beds were finally raised to their final height.....six beds 80cm high and two at 40cm high and we have been reaping the benefits of all that space with a wonderful winter crop of root vegetables, onions, leeks and garlic. Cabbages, cauliflower,peas and broad beans and lots and lots of different greens. We have been spoiled for choice.

Our current project is boxing up the asparagus bed and making compost bins. With the rain of late it has become somewhat of a quagmire around that area so we are working on laying drier pathways....more to come. My, my....its sounds like such a lot of work but it has been quite a while hasn't it :-)

On the social side of things, some of the ladies in the "Valley and I get together every Friday morning for a social get together to sew or knit...what ever the talent. I have been showing them how to patchwork and quilt and we are all currently working together to make a small quilt for Mamas classroom.

Which brings me to my belated congratulations to Mama for graduating her post graduate teaching degree. She has been teaching prep full time since mid year. She is doing a wonderful job and seems to be enjoying the work. The Princess is a happy little grade oner and doing extremely well. I go down each week to help out and do school pick ups and drop offs and the Princess and I spend time working on homework together. She is growing up so fast.

In the kitchen I have finally begun cheese making. The Gorgeous Boy bought me a cheese making kit for my birthday in August and I have finally started. So far I have made a cheddar, a Parmesan, some blue brie style cheese, some Camembert and a couple of batches of ricotta. I have managed to find a source of beautiful fresh jersey milk which is so rich its wonderful to work with. I am impatient to taste the cheeses, to see if they have the flavour they promise.

My sour dough bread is still a work in progress....I am disappointed in my efforts so far but refuse to give up. I have just finished making a new "mother" and tried it out yesterday. I even experimented with the "air kneading" method. ( As an aside I do have to say that bit of it was fun.) Of course I "googled" the instructions...where would I be without the Internet!!!! and watched a you tube clip. What fun...tossing and slapping a lump of decidedly sticky dough on my kitchen bench ;-) That was my workout for the week. It tastes fantastic and the texture is good but it never seems to rise enough. Its OK if you want sliced fingers but not that convenient to make a sandwich. Photos will of course be forth coming but not today.

Today I am somewhat at odds with myself. I was due to head off this morning down to the city. After the rain of late I have been watching the creeks. Yesterday the creek at the end of the valley flooded. It was passable but I do hate driving through water.

This morning it had dropped down and I was confident to head out. All showered and ready to go, I went for a test trip to see if the rest of the creeks were down. This is what met me at the next crossing

Needless to say I returned home ....here I am...changed plans, which is why I finally I have the time to sit and update my blog. LOL. I having been watching the updates of the local creek levels compliments of BOM all day. The levels are falling but I don't think I am going to get out today. Might as well go and do some sewing.

Thankyou Olive for prompting me this morning...I promise I wont leave it so long again.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I cannot believe it has been so long since I last posted. So much water has flown under the bridge I hardly know where to start. It has been many weeks since I have even had the time to catch up with reading my favourite blogs. How sad is that ! I have only just managed to read a couple but am inspired to tap the keys again. So just a quick note before I go back to catching up with past news.

The Gorgeous Boy and I took nine days out over Easter to join a group of friends over on Fraser Island. Most of the men are ultra keen fishermen, so two, three to four hour sessions each day standing in the surf...fishing rod in hand...they were very happy chappies. Me....well,....I slept, then I slept a little more...sigh!!!! Then I read my book ( I have to say I took three books with me in anticipation but only managed part of the first....maybe I wasn't in the mood...maybe I am not a fan of Di Morrisey...who knows) but in an attempt to stimulate my fuggy brain I have discovered "sudoku". I am addicted. I took one book with me...only 365 games !!!!! I was well in to my 90th on our return.....oh dear this is so much worse than "Days of our Lives" !!!!!!!

I am back to reality....I have chores to do...get on with it Linda!

Before I go......I just have to show y'all this

What a man, is this man of mine :-) Fisherman extraordinaire :-) They guessed at the weight as being around six kilos...I think they said it was a snub nosed dart. Me....I just said it was delicious ! I missed the catching of this little beauty but I sure didn't get to miss the cooking of it. I think the fight that the GB had to reel it in was a tale to be told for many years to come :-). It took three burners of a four burner barbeque to cook it. Having limited resources, I seasoned it with what I could find. Chopped a little celery, onion and orange zest and laid it on a bed of thinly sliced oranges. and sloshed around a little chardonnay....(that was all I had available!!) wrapped it in alfoil and cooked it over a low heat for one a half hours. It was absolutely beautiful. Mmmmmm. It fed eleven of us for dinner (just over one side of it) and I made fish cakes for lunch the next day. I even left about a quarter of it behind for snacks as we had to leave the island and come home for Lolly's Baptism (another story :-)) We were also lucky enough to come home with an esky full of fish fillets to last us quite a few weeks. Now that's what I call a holiday!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What the heck!!!!

What happens to my computer ....it has a mind of its own. In todays post I wrote about making a boerwurst shaped sausage....the computer obviosly didn't like that and after running spell check it obviously chose its own word to describe the sausage....spot the mistake. I give up !!!!!

What to do today?

I am the first to admit that I am not at my brightest and best first thing in the morning. A night owl who married an early bird in the late 70s you would think that I would have adjusted my body clock by now......not so....but I do try :-)

I like to awaken slowly and think about what the day has to hold for me....to make a brief plan before my feet even hit the floorboards. Some days I achieve what I have planned....on others I am forced to change my direction as the day unfolds and I get feedback from the other family members. I have learnt to be flexible but I NEED to know what is ahead or I would wander around the kitchen in a dream for the larger part of the morning.

This morning I awoke to the sun streaming through the windows. After days and days of cloudy skies and showers and several abortive attempts at working in the veggie garden yesterday, a plan began to unfurl........Let the dog out....let the chooks out for a run...breakfast and a morning in the garden.....maybe it the breeze is good, the grass will dry enough to mow a little. It is growing at an alarming rate at the moment :-( Then a few kitchen chores after lunch. That's enough to think about right know. Time to get up!!!

Well I made it as far as breakfast and the first of the showers started...scratch mowing.....I turned on the TV just as the weatherman displayed a very "blue" map of Queensland. Hmmm, showers all day becoming heavier in the afternoon! I want to go down to the city later today and don't want to get flooded in sooooo , lets rethink this.

OK...new plan formulating. I have a nice piece of pork in the fridge which I had planned to turn into sausages, so this morning I will have another go at perfecting my homemade sausages :-)

The Gorgeous boy and I have had three attempts so far at making the "perfect" sausage. We are getting pretty good at producing a well shaped sausage and the paprika and fennel flavoured ones were lovely but the ratio of fat/lean meat/cereal and liquid and the texture still needs fine tuning..

Here I have pushed the skin onto the feeder.

I have used a protein based synthetic skin here which is very easy to use so long as you keep it dry. It fits on to the small size nozzle. I have also tried natural skins which fit on to the larger sized nozzle..... I still need to work on those as the they are a lot more "stretchy" (if you can use that term) and do not fill as evenly, as easily. Practice, practice, practice! I know :-)

Easing the skin off as the meat is pushed through.

The GB normally feeds the beast while I ease the sausage off in one pieces, smoothing out any unevenness.

A completed batch of sausages...not bad huh!

Lastly I twist the sausage into small individual serves.

When The Great Dane and Gemini came to visit we had a go at making the Danish Medisterposter ( Did I spell that right GD?) It is a mild flavoured pork sausage which is coiled around. Very much in shape like a bequest sausage. Boiled gently until almost cooked and then barbequed. Our first attempt was made with just lean pork meat and seasoning which was very dry. Next attempt saw us including a little cereal. Todays attempt will be 70% lean pork. 20% pork fat and 10% cereal (home baked breadcrumbs) and seasoning with a little stock to make a softer consistency. I'll let you know how I go :-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Happy New Year :-)

Happy New Year :-) I can't believe how long it has been since I last wrote anything here. How time flies. It seems like just yesterday and I was thinking about getting ready early for Christmas.

Well, Christmas came and Christmas went, and believe it or not...it went pretty smoothly without the annual panic. Ah, well, that's if you don't count the Christmas cards! Sorry guys, they are still in the box. Its not as if we didn't think about you all. We toasted your health (the bottles in the recycling can attest to that) its just that I never seemed to get the time to actually sit down and write them out. I did think about sending them out as a Happy New Year cards...then the days passed and some bright spark suggested I should send them as Chinese New Year cards. I realised that maybe....just maybe....it was a little too late :-(

We spent Christmas Eve and Day down in the city with Dr K and Richie. Mama and the Princess came too. It was a lovely relaxing time and the turkey was absolutely delicious...thank you Darling :-). Over to spend Boxing day with Gemini and the Great Dane for their traditional Danish smorgasbord. Wonderful as usual. Unfortunately it may be that last one as Gemini and GD have fallen for the "Cruising Bug" and are planning to spend their Christmasses afloat in future. I can tell that I will have to learn how to pickle the herrings and make the rice pudding myself. Dare I bring out the last of the Dill Schnapps from the freezer? Hmmmm.
It may appear from these photos that we did nothing but eat....that's not true...we drank and laughed a lot :-) It is good to have family and friends around.

We have had visitors here at the Farm almost every weekend since well before Christmas....it has been wonderful but busy, busy. This past weekend was the first in a looooong time that it has just been the Gorgeous Boy and myself here...oh I'm including you too Tiggy :-) It is time to get serious about finishing the Great Wall and the raised garden beds but as luck would have it....it rained......and rained....and rained. Complaining? Me? Nooooo. It would just be kinda nice to have it spread out a little more evenly. We seem to go from rock hard dry soil and "crunchy" grass to boggy puddles, red clay on the boots and the question of "will we be flooded in this time?" But any rain is better than no rain and everything in the garden is flourishing.

We have survived the summer well in the vegetable garden...never running short of vegetables and this year has been the year for mangos. We have three mango trees of varying vintage. All of them have produced exceptionally well. At one point we were cropping two huge bucket fulls a day. I have dehydrated tray after tray of mango slices and have an entire freezer drawer packed "chocka block" full of boxes of puree. I only have one fruit leather tray so was limited in what I could make but am about to order more and use some of the frozen puree to make fruit leather.

I have been experimenting with my ice cream machine and have found a delicious recipe...which is basically an anglaise custard of 375ml milk, warmed up with a vanilla bean, poured over six egg yolks and 160g of sugar and cooked in a double boiler until it coats the back of the spoon. Chilled and then mixed with 375ml of cream and churned. Absolutely delicious served as a "soft serve" with mango puree over the top but the best feature of all is that when frozen it doesn't seem to freeze as hard as other recipes that I have used and is easy to serve. I even had an attempt to make imitation Weiss bars (The Gbs favourite ice cream) by freezing a layer of pureed mango on a baking tray and then freezing a layer of ice cream on the top. Then... cutting it into bars. Two problems.....a) since the ice cream doesn't set as rock hard as it does with the usual recipes. It melts rather quickly which means that you can't savour it... :-) and b) the puree would perhaps be improved by adding a little of the ice cream to it to make it a little more creamy and a little less icy!!!! But on the whole...yummy....sorry no photos...all the little bars are cut up and wrapped in baking paper for easy access.

Cherry sent me a recipe for Chicken and Mango salad that I will try this week. It sounds delicious and I will not be wasting one Mango. It makes me furious when I see Mangos in the supermarket at $2.90 each and we are in the midst of a glut here. Someone, somewhere is ripping off the general public and you can bet your life it is not the poor farmers. Grrrrr.

Well time to call it a day for now...hope to get back here soon to tell of my "sausage making" success. But that a whole other story :-)