Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Deck the halls...

Happy Holidays!

One man went to mow......

went to mow a meadow...although mowing country style requires several hours, and a tractor!

And while you have a tractor around you might as well get a big lorry load of gravel and repair the huge ruts in the driveway...

Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas chicks

Both born in the last 36 hours - fingers crossed the other 3 eggs hatch in the next day or so!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Being my own butcher

Sorry folks, I got distracted by garden stuff and forgot to update you on being my own butcher! I don't mean actually killing anything (for the squeemish....and the general euphemism for this is "processing") - I just mean turning big hunks of lovely pork into meal size portions.

First - here are my lovely hunks of pork - shoulder and loin/belly

So out come my trusty books - Hugh's meat book, and my John Seymour and my Carla Emery - for a quick crash course in pork anatomy!

A quick cut to the loin section and already we have something that looks familiar! Then it's off with the ribs, and slicing loin chops/steaks.

Mmmmmm ribs! And the belly bit went straight into a dry cure for bacon

I cut the shoulder into a roasting joint for slow cooking overnight in the oven, and the rest I diced to use in casseroles and tagines.

Then it was the leg of pork. Oh My - 10.5kg (!!) of roast and hammy lovelyness-to-be. But 2 people don't need a 10.5kg ham or roast - and besides, I don't have a pot big enough, so it's time to get he serious kitchen tools out - a hacksaw!! (with a new cleaned blade, or course)

et voila! It already looks more manageable. 1 ham down, a ham and 3 roasts to go! You can see one roasing joing on the black tray.

Once I'd cut and bagged 3 roasts I was left with my 2 hams - and into Hugh's West Country Cider Cure (ooooh aaar) they went the next day. Cider cured roast leg ham is on the menu this Christmas.


And the best bit? All this pork came from the piggies we were looking after for King Valley Free Range - tasty heritage breeds that have lifed a happy piggie life with room to run around, dig around, wallow, eat apples, acorns and chesnuts, and do all those things piggies like to do.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Garden layout PS - how it used to look

You've seen how it looks now....3 years ago when we started the garden / allotment area looked like this:

Garden Layout

Kelly the city mouse asked about our garden layout.

I'm afraid you'll have to click on the panorama below as it's come out very small!

Starting on the left of the picture is the fruit cage (brambleberries, raspberries, cherry, gooseberry, red and black currants, loganberry, thornless blackberry, boysenberry, raspberries (5 types). In the bed that goes around the inside I'll be planting capsicums and a few tomatoes, and maybe cucumbers).

Outside of the cage there is another bed that has tomato, rocket, radish, chillies, peas, beans, sunflowers, irises and a peach tree (the bed goes along 2 sides of the wall)

Between the fruit cage and the first raised bed (before the first silver birch) is the no dig area with a random potato or 2, little yellow squash, a zucchini, and a bed with cucumbers (4 types), tomatillo, and some mixed bug attracting flowers.

Along the long fenceline there are tyres with potatoes, some onions and a few beans.

Next are 5 raised beds with (at the moment) carrots and leeks left to flower to attract bugs, a bed with beetroot, chinese broccoli, carrots, NZ spinach, perennial leek and a random strawberry.

Next is garlic (what's left, I've harvested a lot) and broccoli and silverbeet gone to seed - this will be replaced later with more summer crops. Then a few beds of tomatoes (we will probably have 40-45 plants in all), then a long bed with pumpkin, corn and beans (a 3 sisters bed Kelly!!). Oh, and a few lettuce in there too, and a bit more garlic.

Then by the water tank is a bed with asparagus and rhubarb, a bed of mixed walking and tree onions, a bed with cabbage and corn, and a bed with herbs. Oh and a passionfruit and another tomatillo. By the lattice fence is a bed with aloe vera, valerian and feverfew.

At the back of the garden you can see a hint of blue - the compost tumbler Jerry made - and that's where we put the extension to the garden that you'll see in the picture below.

This garden has potatoes, a range of beans (green and drying) a squash, several pumpkins, a few cucumbers, and a couple of tomatillos.

Elsewhere in the garden we have
  • a big bed of potatoes
  • greenhouse with galangal, ginger, lemongrass, arrowroot and more seedling herbs and tomatoes
  • a few more tomatoes in pots
  • 3 apple trees, an apricot, another cherry and a dwarf nectarine
  • a bay tree
and that's about it - I think!!

As for varieties we are growing:
Cucumber - mini white, mini lebanese, armenian, lemon
Tomato - red fig, purple russian, hungarian heart, mixed zebra, tommy toe, principe borghese, amish paste, riesentraube, beefsteak, mortgage lifter
Bean (drying - bush and climbing) - zebra, yin yang, kidney, cannelli, lima, borlotti, and a couple of varieties I got in a seed swap
Bean (green - bush and climbing) - rattlesnake, blue lake, cherokee wax, violet queen, brown beauty, anderson's wonder
Pumpkin - marina di choggia, pink banana, jap, butternut

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Manic Sunday part 1

Sunday was a whirlwind of jobs, cooking and harvesting....

First there was berry picking - the chickens are ever hopeful they will get a few mushy ones!

Then it was time to convert some of these berries into Jelly and jam

I made redcurrant jelly, brambleberry jelly, brambleberry jam, and also froze a few kg of brambleberries for later crumbles.

The berry harvest so far:
  • Brambleberries = 6.5kg
  • Redcurrants = 4kg
  • Blackcurrants = 600g
  • Raspberries = about 500g
Next item on the agenda was my first attempt at playing butcher with some of the pork we helped to grow....more on that in the next post

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Good weekend!

It was garage sale central at Beechworth this weekend and we had a couple of fantastic scores

This wonderful 40s Singer sewing machine with all the original manuals and bits and bobs - and the original instruction manual. Beautiful hardwood timber surfaces.

Still in working order. WONDERFUL!!

Then at the next garage sale we got this wine fridge for $25 (RRP $170+) . We won't be using it for wine - it will be for cheese. (yes grommit, cheeeeeeeeeeeeese)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Doggie Delights

We ran out of dog biscuits yesterday, so after seeing a recipe for home-made treats on Aussies Living Simply (Thanks Roquen) I decided to try making some. We had a jar of peanut butter in the cupboard that would never get used otherwise!

Peanut Butter Treats
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup skim milk

Cooking Directions: Preheat oven to 190 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet mixture to dry, and mix well. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick and cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack then store in an airtight container.

And here's the shaped because after all, it's nearly Xmas. They are a hit with the poochies too.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Redcurrant Jelly

You know it's berry harvest time when you're making redcurrant jelly at 8am in the morning!

1.5kg of redcurrants form the bushes made 6 jars of redcurrant jelly. And there are at least that many redcurrants that still need picking. I can feel a summer pudding coming on!!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Bye Bye Emperor Ming

and hello Seedy Gonzales!

Movember finished yesterday, and now seedy is back to his clean shaven, baby faced self (HURRAH!!)

But there is still time to donate here if you would like to.

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