Thursday, 30 July 2009

Enough about the bacon already!

Yep, it's time for me to rave on again about the joys of making your own bacon, particularly if you can get your hands on free-range rare breed pork belly. I picked up my 7kg or porky goodness from King Valley Free Range yesterday. Mmmmmmmm lovely. This is the best piece of belly I've had so far - this time it was from a pig that had been aged for bacon.

Assemble your ingredients........

Admire the belly. Mmmmmmm belly!

Slice the Belly into portion sizes, and prepare your dry cure. This time I'm making 2 sorts. A savoury bacon using Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall's dry cure recipe, and a maple cured sweet bacon using a recipe from the book Charcuterie. The Dry cure mix is 1kg course salt, 200g brown sugar, 20 juniper berries crushed, 25g peppercorns crushed, 2-3 bay leaves crushed/chopped finely. Mix it all together with clean hands and you're ready to go

Then you need a non-reactive container (I use a plastic one). Rub all surfaces of each piece with the cure and stack. Every day for 5 days drain off any liquid and rub in more cure. Re-arrange the pieces so everyone gets a turn at the top/bottom. I go for the lighter cure as I freeze my bacon for later use.

The maple cure is a bit different - sugar (1/4 cup), salt (50g) and maple surup (1/4 cup). Mix together and then rub into belly pieces. Place in a zip-lock bag, seal and place this on a tray in the fridge. Each day turn the bag and 'massage' the cure into the pork (the cure and pork juices will form a liquid brine after a day or so. Do this for 7 days.

Stay tuned for the reveal in about a week!

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Another weekend in the garden

It's been another busy weekend here at "Good Life Central". On Saturday morning our sustainability group had a fruit tree pruning workshop. Luckily it was just down the road so we jumped on our bikes, hooked up the doggies, and let them barrel down the road. Great exercise for them, not much peddling required from us.....although the same can't be said for the way home, which is slightly uphill. Pulling a 42kg dog is a lot less fun than being pulled by one!

On Sunday we started roofing the new chicken run. The wire is deliberately loose to discourage the foxes from climbing on it. We also chose aviary wire so we can be sure the only birds we are feeding with the chicken food are our chickens.

We also started moving the tyres from the veg patch to secure the extra fence we have along the ground outside the new run (to stop foxes digging under). The tyres will be filled with soil and compost, and the plan is to grow sunflowers and maybe a few pumpkins in them. Should look great come summer.

Finally we moved a couple of 1/2 wine barrels that we weren't using up to the front of the house and planted a dwarf nectarine (moved from another area of the garden) and a white genoa fig that I got on sale yesterday for $9.95. Result! I used a stone mulch to tie in with the rest of the garden bed (and to deter the chickens while they are still roaming free)

Friday, 24 July 2009

Oh so easy fireplace glass door cleaner

Do you have a pot bellied or combustion stove with a glass door? We do (a Coonara). The glass door was so dirty with caked on gunk you couldn't actually see in.

Not anymore!

I found this recipe for a cleaner in a Readers Digest book of 1000 uses for household items, and it works a treat
  • 1 tablespoon ammonia
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 litre warm water
Mix together and add to a spray bottle. Spray on the glass, leave for a few seconds, and then wipe with an absorbent cloth. Repeat if necessary.


Monday, 20 July 2009

Waxed and ready to age

The first batch of Warrigunyah farmhouse cheddar waxed and ready to age in the cheese fridge.

First tasting in about 4 weeks....fingers crossed!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Mini-orchard update

Last week, after a few fine days, the man with the auger came over to dig the holes for the mini-orchard. Yes, we COULD have dug the11 holes and 4 post holes ourselves, but in out compacted clay soil it would have taken forever and would have cost more in trips to the osteopath to fix up our backs!

The 600mm auger made light work of it all. In fact if we hadn't hit 2 water pipes 2 ft down that we had no idea existed the whole thing would have been doe in about an hour. It took a few hours to excavate out and re-cap the pipes (they don't go anywhere, but are connected to the house tank. Must have been part of some original creative plumbing!). We then had to abandon the first row we were planning (as holes 2 and 3 of that row hit pipes), and just go with a 2 row system for now. If we want to plant anything more than the 2 apricots in the first row it will be hand digging to avoid breaking more pipes.

On Saturday Jerry and one of our Sydney friends (aaah the luxury of having 2 strong blokes about!) put in the 4 timber posts to support the 2 orchard rows. Today Jerry barrowed up 11 loads of mixed soil, old chook mulch, cow manure and mushroom compost to put into the holes to give the trees a better start than the solid clay would allow. I planted the trees. I think I got the better end of the deal!
In permaculture style each tree has a mini-swale to catch water running down the hill and allow it to soak in. The front row of 4 will have espaliered apple and pear. The longer row of 6 will have the fan-trained plum, peach and nectarine. All that remains is to put up the wire for the espalier, and a trellis system for the fan training, and then do the watering.

It's been a good weekends work - so I gave Jerry the afternoon off!

Friday, 17 July 2009

What did you do today poochies?

We sat outside the shed ALL day waiting for the bunny to re-appear. It didn't.


Monday, 13 July 2009

Honey Toasted Muesli

After reading Julie's post today over at Towards Sustainability where she linked to her recipe for honey toasted muesli I just had to try it!

I omitted the coconut and other nuts (Jerry isn't a fan) but added pepitas and some linseed. I also used sunflower oil rather than rice bran oil because that's what I had! In the fruit department I added sultanas, cranberries, apricots, and some home dried apple and pear.

Looking forward to trying it in the morning!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Another busy weekend

It's been another busy weekend! In between the outdoor chores I finally got around to making my first hard cheese on Saturday. I decided to start with a farmhouse cheddar as Rikki Carroll suggests it as a good first cheese.

I discovered part way through that my mould isn't big enough for the recipe!! So handy Jerry made me a temporary one out of an old honey container, and we mocked up a press using a few clamps from the shed. So I'll have a big and a small cheddar!

I also made a few loaves of english muffin bread using some of the leftover whey. It will be interesting to see how it tastes.

Sunday afternoon we measured up the new mini-orchard area for the new fruit trees we bought.
In the fruit tree department we now have
  • 3 peaches - Elberta, Red Haven (both yellow freestones) and Lena Kirsten (white freestone)
  • 2 apples - Granny Smith and Pink Lady
  • 2 plums - Mariposa and Satusma (both blood plums)
  • 2 nectarines - a dwarf variety and a regular - Emily Kirsten (white clingstone)
  • 2 pears - A Williams and a Nashi (Nijisseiki)
  • 2 apricots - can't rememebr the one from last year, but bought a Newcastle early today
  • 2 cherries (Stella)
  • 2 redcurrants
  • 2 blackcurrants
  • 1 gooseberry
  • assorted berries
Should keep us going for a while :)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


We're heading into what is normally our wettest month, so I thought it was time to lift the potatoes so they don't rot in the ground or start sprouting everywhere.

We've already harvested some in the last few months as we wanted them for eating so I can't give a total tally, but today after clearing the 2 potato beds I have just over 10kg of spuds. Lovely!

In general they are smaller than last year - I think that's because I didn't get my watering quite right. The ruby lou and spunta seem to have produced the biggest spuds.

I'm going to leave them to 'dry' out of the sun for today, then I'm going to store them in broccoli boxes in straw and/or rice hulls this year to see how that works.

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