Sunday, 29 August 2010

In the pantry

What better to do with a sunday afternoon than take stock of the pantry (ok, probably a lot, but it was cold outside and I was tired!). As a result of my preserving fetish we have (all made from home grown produce except the peach, apple & apricot, which were local)
  • 40 jars of marmalade (Sweet orange and whisky, Lime, Lime and ginger)
  • 20 jars of jam/jelly (Damson, Brambleberry, Redcurrant and loganberry, Mixed berry, Plum, Cherry & Redcurrant, Raspberry)
  • 86 (!!) jars of chutney (Bengali green tomato, Green tomato, Spicy green tomato, Green tomato and ginger, Marrakesh green tomato, Chilli apple, Rhubarb, Apricot, Apricot and ginger, Courgette, River cottage 'gluttony', Cherry chutney)
  • 17 bottles of sauce (Plum, Green tomato, Chilli BBQ, Chilli green tomato)
  • 4 bottles of raspberry vinegar
  • 5 small bottles of rosehip syrup
  • 4 jars of jelly for savoury items (Redcurrant, Apple and mint)
  • 3 jars of apple cheese (for use with savoury meats)
  • 4 jars of preserved lemons
  • 5 jars of pickled garlic
  • 1 lg jar pickled chillies
  • 9 (!!) jars of pickled cucumbers
At this point I gave up as the pantry room is quite cold on a late winter's afternoon, but there's also a stack of bottled fruit and tomatoes. The marmalade tally will go up again in the next few weeks as the lemon tree is groaning with fruit, and there are still more limes to be picked - although I might try doing some preserved limes this year as well.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Gotta love freecycle

This evening's hoard, which Jerry snaffled for me this afternoon - these jars will be perfect for preserving summer goodies or storing dried goods. I even have enough replacement rubber rings for all of them, thanks to mumma-Jerry!

Simple pleasures for simple people  - was there ever a wife that was easier to please?!

Bathing the bills away

When faced with imminent and enormous vet bills all a girl can do is grab a glass of wine, and have a long hot soak in a rainwater bath laced with James Wong's Chamomile Bath Milk.

On the subject of rainwater, with another 40mm or so having fallen in the last week the big tank filled up again, so we pumped some more water up the hill to the garden tanks. Lovely.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

We've been cooped up this weekend

Well, not literally, but we have been working in the coop quite a bit. With the recent rain we realised that the chickens didn't have enough dry area for dust bathing, and 'hanging out' without being ankle deep in mud. So Jerry built a "porch" extension, and added some guttering and a water collection barrel with a shade cloth filter. We just need to put a tap in the blue barrel, and then we'll have a self-watering system for the chickens. I threw in a few bags of leaves we collected in autumn et voila! I also started putting a wire plant protection system along the fenceline so I can plant herbs and other chicken crops in the coop and let the chickens feed on them, but stop the chickens scratching the plants out.
We also got 2 new point of lay chickens from a friend - although they're not point of lay anymore as they both laid an egg yesterday and today. I guess they like their new home. Some other chooks have started laying again so we're getting about 4 eggs a day now which is great.

Jerry also made a new extended chicken shelter for the main run, where the girls can hang out during the day, but feel secure because it's low to the ground and shady (70% shade cloth covered with clear perspex on a leftover cedar decking frame with a metal base we "rescued" from the tip). The piece of tin at the back is to stop the water running though when it rains and making the area muddy.
Then it was time to clean out the greenhouse and wash seed  pots and the potting bench in preparation for  this year's plantings. I also decided the aloe vera needed repotting - and ended up with 12 separate plants! You can see them in the back of the picture. I also heeled in the yacon, oca, and queensland arrowroot tubers I bought from Green Harvest, and planted some nicola potatoes in a nice frost free bed near the water tank we use for the fire protection system.

Then I decided what the heck I'd plant some capsicum, chilli, tomato, eggplant, basil and zaatar and pop them on the heated seed mat inside.I can keep them frost free and warm in the greenhouse until it's time to plant out in mid November.
And finally I made a loaf of rye/wholemeal spelt/white bread.
Now I think I will have the rest of the afternoon off and take a nice long bath and read a book!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Margo and Jerry go gigging

We went to Melbourne last weekend to see the Basement Birds at the Forum. Those boys know how to harmonise! It was a fantastic gig - my only complaint is that now the CD sounds a bit "flat" because they were so much better live. The Forum was a great venue as well - we'd never been there before.

Here's a sample - although not my favourite song, but frankly there isn't a dud song on the album. 

Here's another snippet (one of my favourite songs)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Lazy Marmalade

Love marmalade but hate all that slicing, pith separating, soaking etc? Have I got the recipe for you - well yes, in fact I do!

Today I finally got around to making marmalade with some of the oranges given to us by a colleague of Jerry. I used Margueritte Patton's "whole orange" method found in her excellent Jams Preserves and Chutneys book, although I slightly adapted her recipe.

You will need (1/2 the recipe to make less)
  • 900g of oranges (or thereabouts, I used 1kg) - seville or sweet. I used sweet as it isn't Seville season.
  • 2.4 litres water
  • 1.8kg sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey (my addition! I used Scottish Single Malt because that's what Jerry likes)
Put the whole oranges in a pan with the water. Simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours until a skewer pierces the skin easily.
Remove the oranges and allow to cool until you can handle them safely. Halve the oranges and remove the pips - discard. Cut the oranges into chunks of whatever size you prefer (or you can scoop out the flesh, shop and then cut the skin into strips if you prefer) and add back to the liquid. Savour the wonderful aroma!
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and add in the sugar. Stir over a low heat until dissolved. I add in some Jamsetta (sugar with pectin) to speed things along but you don't have to - you could add lemon juice (4 tablespoons). Boil rapidly until setting point (took about 20 minutes for me). I suggest testing every 5 mins.
Allow to cool in the pan until slightly stiffened, then stir to distribute the peel. Add the whiskey at this point if using. Pour or spoon into sterilised jars, and seal using your preferred method.
I ended up with 9 jars of marmalade - not bad for an investment of $3.50 (for the sugar) and about 20  minutes work (not including cooking time).

Sunday, 8 August 2010

What I did with Kate's stockings

No, no, this post doesn't need an MA rating LOL. My friend Kate (who really should be my ex-friend Kate as she abandoned me to live in the UK for a few years, which means we lost not only our friends but also our favourite weekender in Melbourne!) gave me all her laddered stockings to use in the garden. I know, she spoilt me!!

Today I used some to start training one of my peach trees
We spent most of the weekend working on a bonfire to burn all the tree branches we had lying around, but we did find time to put in some star posts to support one of the espalier runs, and to plant some chinese cabbage seedlings that have been in the greenhouse a few months (oops).
There is actually quite a bit going on in the garden at the moment, which I'm a bit surprised about, as it's still winter. Some nice cabbages and cauli
Broadbeans and garlic, turnips and some peas just starting
One of the green manure beds (oats, brassicas and clover) and the carrot, dill and cabbage bed
And finally, the jonquils are starting to come out

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Cow Watch 2010

Hours of fun for all the four-legged family members.

Don't know about you, but I reckon this cow's pregnant...either that or she's been over-eating in a big way LOL

Cute baby steak...
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